This young fellow was in our fields earlier this year:
It was quite amazing to watch how quickly he gained weight on a diet purely of good Ulster grass. His mummy was never far from his side, though:
And these two would appear to have fallen out with each other:
I must admit to having a bit of a soft spot for cows. They are terribly inquisitive creatures and very observant - always keeping an eye on what we humans are up to when we are anywhere near them. Some are friendlier than others and will come right up to you to see what the craic is. In my youth it wouldn't have cost me a thought if there were cows in a field - I would have walked through them no problem. Today I just wouldn't chance it. I wonder if it's something they put in their feed nowadays that can make them very aggressive. Or perhaps I was just fearless back then and a little more cautious today....
Meanwhile, back in Portstewart, there's a familiar sight on The Prom:
A lady sitting down and taking in the view. Not just any lady, mind you, this one is related to me - only by marriage, you understand...
They're about to demolish those railings and no doubt replace them with some chromed ones, as seems to be the In Thing nowadays. They are pretty corroded, I have to admit and probably the Council are concerned about someone falling through them onto the lower deck.
The soldier on top of the War Memorial is still doing his watchful thing:
These railings get looked after a bit better than the other ones - at least a refurb every year before November time.
So Santa is well and truly on his merry way so it seems appropriate to wish all you readers a big Thank You for visiting my little blog.
As usual I'll be at home with Missy and Mrs Liberties and a few other close family. With luck The Hound and I will get to the beach for a bit of fresh air in order to work up an appetite for the Main Event. Then it will be Christmas Quizzes until we are all falling asleep.
Wherever you are, stay safe and have a Very Happy Christmas.
Continuing with Stories from the Bench, here's one:
Unfortunately the light was fading and even with HP5 there's a bit of camera shake. No matter - I like the lady, who has turned back to look at the bloke on the bench. Does she fancy a bit of whatever he is eating? Did he say something to her? Maybe it's her ex...we'll never know.
I happened upon a little gallery while in Bath - very near the Crystal Palace it was. I took a peek inside and was glad I did. There was interesting stuff there, all made from from stuff the artists had 'found' - like this fellow:
He had an interesting arm, he did. I say 'he' - although I could be wrong there:
I had a wee chat with Catherine who was co-organising the exhibition and a lovely lady she was too. We were the same age, it turned out.
There was a lot of Box Art in the gallery too, by the likes of Robert Lee - but I didn't get a snap of any. Too busy talking - makes a change for me.
Finally The Uncle and his mates arrived in Budapest and hooked up with Balazs. Naturally a bit of sight-seeing was in order and what better place than the top of St Gellért Hill, on the Buda side of Budapest:
That would be Balazs there in the middle, with the moustache and would that be plus-fours I spy? Rather on the long side, but then that was all the fashion in Hungary in 1938, or so I'm reliably informed.
St Gellért, or St Gerard if you prefer, was a saintly person who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Legend has it that during the pagan revolution of 1046 he was put in a barrel on the top of the hill and rolled into the Danube. From my (albeit limited) knowledge of history, unpleasant as this undoubtedly was, it could have been worse...
Budapest has a lot of bridges across the Danube, as you would expect. I like this next shot, of Erzsebet Bridge (Elizabeth Bridge).
Unfortunately, like many other bridges across Hungary, this bridge was blown up by the retreating German Army in WWII. A new one has been built, but it's not the same.
Looking the other way, we have Petofi Bridge - another one that had to be rebuilt after the war:
Clearly The Lads were out at night - or at least The Uncle was:
Tired as I was after a day's stretching at The Min, it was all I could manage some days to stagger to the balcony of our little apartment and lift the Nikon, with its 180mm lens attached and some HP5 loaded, to my tired eyes. (Ed: OK, OK, we get the point - you were experiencing some fatigue. No need to milk it.)
Where was I? Oh yes, Santa Paws. From the balcony:
Bath has its fair share of Big Issue sellers. This one had his wee doggie with him, all dressed up in his Santa outfit. Poor wee pet.
I must admit to feeling a little sympathy for the people who manage Bath. The roads are small and very congested, the shops are many and getting all the stuff that is needed into the City Centre and then disposing of the unwanted stuff must be a nightmare. I think every day was Bin Day, from what I could see.
This was the view outside our digs most days:
Not on the Tourist Trail, for obvious reasons.
I caught this gentleman providing a very important service - I had to snap him up quickly, as you can see:
This was the view from the other side of our apartment block, as captured on the little Yashica:
That's the Theatre Royal there on the right, by the way. If you ever find yourself there, I can recommend the Garrick's Head Public House next door - they do a very respectable fish and chips. I speak from personal experience....twice.
Oh yes, Bath is classy. It seduces you. You have been warned. But just remember, as you walk about, gazing in wonder at the uniqueness of the sandstone buildings, the colonnades, the Beautiful Things in the Beautiful Shops...none of it is real.
So...if you recall from last Friday, it's the summer of 1938 and The Uncle and his mates are off on their summer hols, winding their way down through Germany and Czechoslovakia towards Hungary.
Clearly not one of The Uncle's photographs, but interesting nonetheless. Now The Lads didn't stay in the Hotel Burghof, but in the neighbouring Hotel König von Portugal, later to be destroyed by Allied bombing during WWII. It was a traditional Berlin hotel and lay, as the postcard shows, on the banks of the Spree just opposite the City Palace, the large domed structure you can see on the left bank above. Unlike the hotel, the Palace itself largely survived the attention of the Allies, but only made it as far as 1950, when the GDR decided to demolish it. It is, apparently, in the process of being rebuilt.
Unfortunately I don't have any snaps of Berlin - The Uncle must have been saving his film for Hungary. But we have one or two of Prague...
...presumably taken from their hotel window:
I like this one, of the Bridge of Saints, or Charles Bridge if you prefer:
The statues on the bridge and the street light are impressive. As is the little sign hanging above the middle of the bridge, which indicates that horse-drawn wagons aren't allowed. The times they were a-changing...
A very interesting bridge, Charles Bridge - dates back to 1357, which is a fair few years ago. The bridge is lines with statues of Saints, hence the colloquial name. Prague, apparently, succumbed to the interests of both the Germans and the Russians during WWII but barely a bullet was fired, so the bridge remained more or less intact. Here's a period postcard of the bridge.
And one of Wenceslas Square, or Horse Market as it used to be known in the Middle Ages. Famous nowadays of course for the scenes of mass demonstrations during the Velvet Revolution of 1989. It would appear, going by recent history, that Czechoslovakians embrace change relatively calmly...
And one of 'the old clock on the town hall':
Meanwhile, back at the hotel, we have The Lads relaxing:
What a fine-looking bed that is - and a fine-looking wardrobe to match. Now we have two of The Lads smartly dressed and in some sort of suspended animation while the third is languishing in his PJs in bed, eyes closed and cigarette in mouth. A wonderful moment in time. Surely proof, if ever proof was needed, to take more photographs of normal stuff...
Just to show you that The Uncle was there, in this one he has swapped places with the sleeping smoker:
Fully dressed but under the bedclothes - perhaps it was a chilly summer, 77 years ago in Prague. He's not in many snaps, The Uncle - presumably since he was behind the camera most of the time. A bit like myself - and to be honest, it's the best place for me.
She's probably checking her email, or something important.
Now I know I'm only looking in through the side window here, but I can only see one seat, and she's on it - well, actually, she's nearly off it, but you know what I mean. Additional Seating Upstairs, that's what it says on the window - good job, eh?
This shot below was of the café just opposite The Min and I snapped it one late afternoon when treatment had finished. You come out of the hospital, dressed in your 'exercise gear', feeling stretched and exhausted, ready to head back to your digs for a lie down and a shower and then you glance opposite and see some 'real life' going on...people with proper clothes on, meeting friends, having coffee and maybe a chocolate square or something. You look over at them, and some of them look over at you. It's all very strange.
That one I snapped with a little Yashica T4 P&S thing that my mate Dr C handed to me one day. It's one of those auto-wind-on-and-auto-rewind things, and your negs come out upside down. But all in all it did the job well, I reckon. Has a nice little Zeiss Tessar 35mm lens on it. A bit noisy for street work, though - there's no hiding the fact that you've shot someone.
You can, if you prefer, have your coffee al fresco - by the Pump Rooms, no less:
Note the two cups on the table front left there. All close together and everything. Cute. When I returned a while later I found this situation had developed:
No - not that Crystal Palace, the one in Bath. You know, in Abbey Green. This one:
Apparently, yon big tree thing was known as The Hanging Tree, due to the executions that were rumoured to take place there. It's an impressive tree all the same, as you can see.
The Crystal Palace is right smack in the centre of the city and used to be a good student pub, back in the days. Nowadays it's a good tourist pub. I ventured in for old times' sake and exchanged almost 5 English Pounds for a pint of fine ale. Impressive prices - I bet not too many students frequent nowadays, which would be a damn shame. Friday nights I recall were always good nights out, but no matter how crowded the bar in the CP would get (and it would get busy - back in those days we got grants to go to Uni, for goodness' sake) there was always one table kept reverently free. About 9 o'clock the student body would part to let a little white-haired elderly lady through to her seat. The bar staff would fetch her a glass of sweet sherry and she would quietly sup while us Bright Young Things enjoyed ourselves. Good times.
Still, on the particular night I wandered in a couple of weeks ago, the bar area was quiet and since I was in a good mood I thought I would engage the young lady (of student age) on the other side of the jump in some conversation. I remarked how the place had changed since my last visit. She replied cheerily enough, asking if I had been in a couple of years ago and saying that the place had had a re-fit since then. I smiled and said, well, I was actually comparing it to when I came in here as a student, back in the early 80s. And that, dear friends, was the end of that conversation.
I noticed a lot of bicycles as I wandered about Bath - understandable since the roads seem very congested...I guess those Georgians didn't plan for 21st Century traffic levels.
These ones seemed to be quite sociable:
This next one was down by the Theatre. Did I tell you I got to see 'An Inspector Calls'? Well I did and very good it was too - as you would expect from a National Theatre production fresh from the West End and Broadway. You have to avail of a bit of culture when you can, don't you. One of the downsides of living in The Liberties is that you get a limited choice in that department. I mean, there are lots of cultural things here, but sometimes it's nice to see a Big Production, if you see what I mean. Anyway, I enjoyed it. First time I've ever seen rain in a play - proper rain it was too, wet and everything. Reminded me of home, it did.
It wasn't the bicycle that attracted my attention in this next shot, it was the bricked up doorway:
Bricked up windows are very common in Bath, due to the famous 'window tax' in the 17th and 18th Centuries. But I've never seen a bricked up doorway before. Was there ever a 'doorway tax' I wonder? I like the fact that the step up from the pavement is still there...
The plaque on the wall names John Palmer as resident - he was Bath Architect sometime in the 18th Century, apparently. The bike I know nothing about, other than it was chained to the railings.
Which leads nicely on to:
I don't know how this was done, but someone has clearly taken on board the notice and somehow lifted his bicycle-contraption over the railings. There was no gate, that I could see anyhow. Very strange...