A city bursting with colour and pattern

A city bursting with colour and pattern

I was in Lisbon for a few days recently. Every summer of my childhood I spent a month in a small town nearby so I know the area very well, but it had been over 30 years since I had been there. This time I went with my teenage daughter, and together we (re)discovered the joys of this incredible city. Much about it has changed, but so much of it hadn’t as well. I found myself continually accosted by the beauty of this place.

It is a city bursting with patterns and colours. Whole building façades, entire squares even, are covered in the typical tiles called ‘azulejos’. Some streets run straight up and down the steep hills, lined at regular intervals with balconies, windows and doorways. Others slowly wend their way around ancient squares. The famous yellow trams offer a fairground ride of a journey through the vertiginous narrow alleyways of the oldest parts of the city. I can’t believe it took me 30 years to return. I definitely won’t let it be that long next time. More photographs of Lisbon can be found here.

A rainy Southend Pier, Essex

A rainy Southend Pier, Essex

I give you a moody shot for this week’s photo. It was taken while travelling the length of the longest pleasure pier in the world, which happens to be in Southend, Essex. This elevated platform extends 1.34 miles out into the middle of the Thames River Estuary. It is so long that, as an alternative to walking to the end of the pier,

you can also take a dedicated railway line, where this photo was taken. In fact, we were forced to take the train because the walkway was closed due to the adverse weather conditions that you can see outside the window. Unfortunately, we missed the train back and had to (illegally) run the length of the pier in the rain. You can find more townscape photos here, and more of my travel photographs here.

The boats of Lindisfarne

The boats of Lindisfarne

A recent trip to Northumbria took us to Lindisfarne, an island joined to the mainland at low tide by a narrow causeway. On the beach of this remote and barren place was an extraordinary sight. The edge of the harbour was lined with large whale-like structures.

They were overturned fishing boats that had been cut in half, doors added across the flattened ends and repurposed as sheds. The graceful shape of the boats was accentuated by evenly spaced wooden struts that ran their entire length, making them look even more like beached whales. More photographs of Lindesfarne can be found here.

Happy new year!

Happy New Year!

I felt we needed a bright and breezy photograph to start the year off right and Florida can do that in bucket-loads. I am sure I could find some metaphor about clean fresh beginnings, but really, I just love

the photo. This was my laundromat experience on Key Largo while travelling with my mother and my daughter in the Florida Keys. I wish all laundrettes could be this colourful. Happy New Year to you all! You can find more Florida photographs here.

Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead

If you are not used to Day of the Dead symbolism, it can be quite startling. Throughout Mexico, and in Mexican neighbourhoods around the world, the skeletons that appear (in all guises and doing any number of antics) will not be for Halloween but for Día de Muertos. The festival lasts from the last day of October to the 2 November and is a time for family and friends to remember and celebrate their departed loved ones and help them on their spiritual journeys.

As I wandered around the Mission District of San Francisco last month, historically the Hispanic quarter, I spied many Day of the Dead preparations. I love the irreverent, playful skeletons. They seem so different from a more familiar avoidance of talking about death. You will find more cavorting bones and additional photographs of Northern California here.

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Golden California hills

Golden California hills

I returned to Northern California recently after many years away and found myself mesmerised by the light and the dramatic beauty of the area. When I lived in San Francisco in my mid-twenties and freshly out of university, I had became fascinated by the shapes of the typical California hills. There was something soothing for me in their swells and folds and wrinkles, covered in golden fur-like grass.

When I eventually moved to the South Downs of Southern England many years later, I found myself surrounded by the same curvaceous hills, only green this time instead of golden.

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