Boring blue sky. Boring long straight road. No traffic.It would be rude not to go out and play! This bit of road was my warm-up for a really classic day out riding. Roads dry and clear. I concentrated on straightish roads rather than mountain passes so long straights and then a right-angle bend at the end or maybe a zig-zag down from a plateau. Snowy mountains in the far distance and eventually, other sports bikers coming out to play too. Back to Marseille for dinner with friends.
Seagull crusing over Marseille in a dramtic dawn - the birds roost near the shore, they clearly enjoy cruising the thermals over the city on their way inland to forage.
Cityscape of the hospitals, medical university and administration buildings in La Timone district of Marseille. The architecture favoured for these buildings - the colours, geometry and patterns - indicates in concrete the way the French state views the evolution of its medical service from the classic Provençal village, typified by the nineteenth century tiles cast by hand, through the modern tiles and on to the poured concrete of the larger buildings behind. This Provence village of the 21st century retains the apparently haphazard juxtaposition of a number of styles, shapes and textures of the rural predecessors.
Crane jib left in shot as a deliberate element in the composition
First impressions count: despite high bars the Z1000SX was easy to handle around the dealer’s yard, slow speed manoeuvring like on a bike skills test. Out on the road, a smooth gearbox and of course lots of power. Surprisingly little wind noise, which, together with the riding position, gives a deceptive impression on speed. Not that easy to read the speedo and rev counter in sunlight nor the various other indications about ABS and traction control; big and stupid displays work best when you’re a rider working hard, the SX display is cluttered, small and dim.
Still riding urban style, the SX isn’t great for manoeuvring past traffic at the lights, I couldn’t pinpoint it to one characteristic but it’s not a bike I’d like to ride for commuting; I’m not thinking of an SX for that but I do visit towns and cities in between mountain pass roads.
Day out rebuilding high intensity riding skills after the winter lay off. Hazy sunshine and a bit fresh up Mt. Sainte Baume at 650 m. or so altitude; not much traffic this weekday so pleasant riding. Yes there's a sinous hill at the end of the road to the right of the photo, down to Nans-les-Pins, not quite as challenging as the Col de l'Espigoulier (723 m..) up from Gemeos but a good workout nonetheless and a change: I ride the Espigoulier a lot!
Warm sunshine on my face for a lunchtime stop for a Tarte Tropezienne and coffee at a friendly roadside boulangerie at St. Maximin. Another stop at La Roquebrussanne for an interesting conversation with an artist-potter making reproductions of Roman ceramics. Then back on the RR for a brisk ride back past the gates of the Paul Ricard track at Le Castellet. Wearing a hi-viz jacket over my ventilated (summer) leathers works well for a practice day where the tendency to balloon isn't a problem as I'm only working at lowish speeds. Keeping the body core warm is definitely an advantage.
I’ve looked after this bottle for more than thirty years since my Father gave it to me, unceremoniously saying “Keep this a little while, it’ll improve with age”. His gift wasn’t linked to anything specific but I now realise that buying a number of these bottles had been his own way of marking his sixtieth birthday.
Shap is a Cumbrian byword for “cold and bleak” - the highest point on the A6 trunk road over Shap is 426 m. altitude. The area marks a sharp change in the geology which is exploited by several prominent quarries each with different specialities,
Shap granite is famous for large grains of reflective minerals, Shap pink granite looks good polished up and constructed as a kitchen worktop, Shap Blue granite is used as an aggregate for road surfaces. Exposed within this small area there are almost the full range of rocks found in the Lake District.
Shap Wells is a feature where the Blea Beck falls over a geological unconformity, a time jump in the geological layers. There’s a conifer plantation, habitat for a thriving colony of red squirrels, undoubtedly an attraction for the hotel in this remote location.
Hiking on the frosty ground at Wet Sleddale, the high valley of the river Lowther; I enjoyed my picnic lunch on a boulder of Shap granite with typically large crystals of pink orthoclase feldspars and quartz, comparable in size to a 20p piece. This reservoir is part of the complex of water works feeding Haweswater and, ultimately, the water taps in urban Manchester, 100 miles to the south. It’s home to a variety of water birds as well as red squirrels and otters.
Take a View - Landscape Photographer of the Year at London Waterloo
A couple of dozen landscape photos in nice prints on display at The Balcony at London Waterloo railway station. I particularly liked the Urban View category; recognition of how much urban landscapes figure in our day-to-day visual experience.
The exhibition is dominated by views but I noted a number of techniques: long exposure, subtle HDR, monochrome, colour and geometry. A couple of images featuring people in the landscape, which I find refreshing as it both gives scale and changes a “view” to a “moment”. Some very successful images in square format as well as the expected horizontal rectangle “landscape” format; extreme panoramics appear to be out of fashion. I don’t recall any entirely abstract images and not much metaphor in evidence although a couple of photographers pulled the “Your View” category in this direction.
The Brighton Philharmonic gave us much sparkle and snap this New Years Eve afternoon in the Brighton Dome Concert Hall, a full house despite fog and train difficulties outside. The Brighton Dome predates the popularity of the Strauss dynasty in Vienna and most of the music in this programme, its Regency curves were converted to a fashionable concert hall which opened in 1866 and was refitted in Art Deco style in 1935 and refitted most recently in 1999-2002.
Stephen Bell’s acrobatic conducting style brought us a fizzing Entrance March from Johann Strauss’s operetta of 1885, The Gypsy Baron. Much precision and enthusiasm from the back row, the brass, percussion and tympani, which was matched from the front desk with fine string ensemble led by principal violinist and leader, John Bradbury.
Our flight back from Funchal, Madeira, was cancelled due to fog at Gatwick so (after rebooking) we have enjoyed an excursion to Ponta do Pargo; we hiked from the viewpoint, past the lighthouse, the optical navigation aid, to see the radio tower that performs the same function for aeronautical navigation. It’s the westernmost point of the island of Madeira but not quite the most westerly point that counts as Europe, that’s in the Azores. Nonetheless there’s a lot of the Atlantic between here and Charleston, South Carolina, roughly the same latitude on the eastern seaboard of the United States.