Saturday, October 31, 2009

lost and found ~ Halloween story ~ part one

lost and found, originally uploaded by Paul Grand.

The Trikes Return

It was the first time we had returned to the coast for several months,
the last time was in the autumn when that strange mist had rolled in from the sea.
We like to take our dogs as often as possible, they love frolicking about in the waves,
and it gives the smelly old things a good freshen up!

We've been together for 15 years now,
we have no kids, no room for them in our tiny terraced Mortlake Cottage opposite the old children's workhouse in S.W. London.
We just have the one bedroom up a very steep staircase.
Micheal had often remarked that it wasn't a very child friendly house, and as events turned out it would never be because 'Mich' as I affectionately call her, developed breast cancer and had to go through a year or so of grueling treatment. Thankfully that was several years ago and now she's clear and over the worst of the treatment, except now after the chemotherapy she'll never be able to have children...
I expect the dogs are now our surrogate kids, we're always getting ribbed about it by our opera singing neighbors,
but we make one handsome family, the two big gray Afghans and Mich and I both being blonds look like we were made for each other in a strange kind of way.

Back at the beach the dogs were having a ball of a time, we had their favorite red 'ladybird' ball,
which we threw into the sea for them both to fight over!
Mich got worried in case they got too overtired so we brushed the dogs as best we could and had a flask of hot milky coffee,
sitting in the Volvo looking at the sun glancing off the slate gray sea.
The dogs in the back on several old towels, fell into a pleasant exhausted sleep wrapped around each other.
I noticed Mich was very quiet, not her normal quiet, but with a lost, 'far away' look in her eyes.
I asked her what was wrong?, and she said "I wonder if that little girl we found is alright"?
I started to say "Sorry?" And caught myself, of course, the little Girl on the trike.
"Of course she's alright, its lucky the address was printed on the seat or we'd have had a real job of finding the parents"!

I remembered back to the last time, we were walking with the dogs through this thick sea mist along the promenade when we heard this god forsaken high pitched weeping coming towards us.
We stopped in our tracks, the dogs hid behind our legs with their noses in their legs, obviously afraid of the sound.
We then heard a squeaking followed by the appearance of a little fair haired girl with bright blue button eyes wearing a pink peaked cap on a trike.
She'd been bawling her eyes out, and was obviously quite lost.
As she approached we could hear her blubbering that she couldn't find her Mommy and Daddies house where she lived.
She said she'd lost her trike on the beach and had been looking for it, and couldn't return home until she's found it.
Now she had been reunited with the little yellow bike she couldn't find her own house!
Mich was bewitched by her, I could see they would have made a perfect mother and daughter, and that old lump in my throat returned, as I knew it was the one thing she could never have.

Mich was wonderful with the girl, she calmed her down in moments and had a reasonably cohesive conversation,
the girl was bright and seemed older than her years as she spoke very well for a toddler who had lost her way in her own neighborhood.
Mich found the address as soon as the girl stood up, it was an old ex-libris paper book sticker on the saddle, number 9,
Regents Terrace, just a little way on from where the girl had come from.
She told Mich her name was L i l - l y, after her mothers favorite flower. And cheerfully chatted away as if we had always known her,
Mich could do that with kids, it was uncanny how easily she made friends, and I'd always been proud of her talent as I was in contrast, quite shy.

We found the house in a couple of minutes, the white regents terrace rose up like the nearby white chalk cliffs,
which added to the mysterious reflected sunlight through the ethereal fog.
The dogs were having to be pulled,dragged even, as they were scared of the child, I put it down to them not being used to kids.

We rapped the nautical brass knocker on the white painted door and all stood expectantly.
The girl looking up at us smiling like it was Christmas morning.
A moment later a thin pale women wearing a long knitted kind of white dress answered the door;
"Oh, there you are you silly child"! Putting her arms out and lifting her to her chest, hugging her as if she had been lost for days!
The women thanked us profusely and offered us a cup of tea or something, as she pulled the trike around her, into the hallway,
it was the least she could do, but the for the dogs, we'd have loved to have accepted.
They were madly pulling to get away, perhaps wanting to go back into the sea, which was still obscured by the thick sea mist.
So we made our goodbyes and left.
Mich remarked on the pearl 'Lilly' broach the women was wearing, that you don't see people wearing those old broaches any more.
Mich recognized it as being a collectible 'Hatty Carnegie' retro design as Mich sells jewelry on Portabello Road once a month.
Of course, she added, Pearls are considered bad luck by some, her mother always said they stood for tears..

That was last year, its now early March, spring.

I turned to Mich in the car and asked her if she would perhaps like to call at Number 9 again?
She smiled and said it was a great idea, I inwardly groaned as meeting the little girl again might set off Mich's depression again,
which had lasted several days after the child in the fog.
This time, as the dogs were sound asleep we opened all the windows a few inches, although they were fine as we were under the shade of tree. We then locked the car and walked across the road towards the distant terrace. Whilst walking a strange thing happened, another sea mist gently came as if from nowhere, blocking out the sun and bringing the temperature right down, I wished I'd brought my coat, but as we were almost there, we continued, Mich clearly delighted to be going back, and not feeling the drop in temperature so I let her light mood continue.
At the door, we recognized it immediately, the nautical ships wheel knocker, quite kitsch to a Londoner's eyes, but had a charm about it, I liked the way its polished verdigris had stained the white gloss of the surrounding paint finish a very pale sea green, It brought to mind the Mausoleums bronze doors in Highgate, a favourite dog walk of ours.

A moment later the door flew open, this time a harassed young man answered, dark haired, wearing a'V'necked sweater,
with holes in the sleeves and covered in flecks of paper.
This threw us for a moment, thankfully rescued by Mich's charm, she asked if Lilly was Ok? as we were just passing.
The man looked genuinely puzzled for a moment and said, "I'm sorry but we have no 'Lilly' here"?
But we're sure it was this house we returned the child to?
Just then we heard the voices of two kids and two little dark haired heads popped around each side of the man,
"Who is it da"? The twin boys asked in unison.
"Its nothing, just a mistaken address", he said, as if to end our conversation.
He began to close the door when Mich Blurted out;
"But I'm sure it was this house, I remember the printed label on the Trike seat, Number 9?"
The mans face lit up, "Ah! he said, so you are the people that returned the trike, thanks for that".
The boys are always leaving it on the promenade, he swung open the door and there was the little yellow trike in the hallway under the coat stand.
"We thought we had lost it and gave up looking. It was last October, half term wasn't it boys?
The twins made themselves scarce, as if acknowledging past faults.
We had gone to our house in the south of France for their half term holidays.
When we returned it was back in the hallway.
We assumed the cleaner had found it and brought it back, so I must thank you for that"!
Our faces where blank and he could see we were quite lost.

Mich continued, very quietly, almost desperately, "But we had returned the trike with a little blond girl and had been met by a blond lady who offered us tea, but had to refuse because the dogs were too much to handle", gesturing back towards our obscured car..
The man, not wanting to be unkind, listened to the story.
Mich continued, she remembered the girl was called Lilly, the Mothers favorite flower.
Suddenly the man looked up and said;
"Actually, I'm stripping the old nursery upstairs at this moment and white Lillie's were the pattern on the wallpaper,
I've also uncovered an infants writing around the bottom of the walls in crayon under the wallpaper, It looks like she was practicing to write; 'L i l - l y' he slowly pronounced".
He added, "The Trike came with the house when we bought it a few years ago,
so I wonder if you've possibly mistaken when you last came here"?
We looked at each other, could we?
The man continued, "We've had the devil of a job getting this house into a livable state again, it was locked up for several years after the last owners died quite suddenly".
Mich looked at the man with an incredulous expression.
"Yes, he continued, the mother, father and child were cruelly wiped out on the motorway whilst driving through thick fog, the child was never found, they assumed it was thrown into a fast flowing, deep river which runs into our nearby sea "..

By Paul Grand
Copyright 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

La tour romane

La tour romane, originally uploaded by Paul Grand.

On Sunday 'Beziers central' had a bit of a cloud hanging over it.
So, I got the dog into the car and headed north.
From the road to the mountains I spotted this remarkable tower sticking out of the sunlit vines.
I took a right and investigated, Leo, the mountain dog, had a great time, and I was happy to see the clouds
as in the photo, left behind in the distance.
This 10th century Franco Roman tower is just outside the medieval village of Puissalicon.
Its just a short 10 min drive north from my coastally situated Beziers.
Its known as a veritable masterpiece of Romanesque art in Languedoc.
Its 4.3m wide and stands at 26m.
It was built as a bell tower for the church of Saint Etienne de Peazan priory.
These buildings are now lost in the mists of time, probably during the wars of religion.
All that remains is a fragment of an arch top, left on display at the base of the tower.
This is one of the most precious monuments of the region of Beziers.

I was very lucky to find this 'Tour' bathed in a biblical light,
seeing this site much as the original 10th century Gallo-Romano people saw it.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Mac ness of it all!

nights backdrop, originally uploaded by Paul Grand.

Thursday night I had meltdown with my 24" Imac, I'd maxed out on both my HD internal memory and externals. I was just going through old pictures on the externals and viewing each one when everything froze, nothing was click-able, though the web worked fine.
I rebooted and cleared out the cache etc several times and then left it overnight, but not before having discovered I had 300GB of memory left on my Ex HD, so I turned on 'Time Machine' and left it a couple of hours backing up.

Next day after finding it was all still frozen I decided to bite the bullet,with Re-formatting...O_O
This time I clicked on an option that said 'Save your old system files' and then left it an hour or so to see If I'd lost all this years work....
After a restart I was amazed to see all the file crap on my screen reappear and was once again working! :-)
Thus, I then checked the backed up files on the external to find to my relief it had indeed backed up:-)

So just to cover myself I'm now backing up all important files of finished work onto a third external HD before deleting and have so far, recovered 80 gigs of space back on the mac...When everything is backed up,
I'll re-format again but this time a full reformat, to get the Mac back to its newish-old self...

The first page flickr explore winning picture, shown above, was just one that could have been lost forever, had the 'Time Machine' malfunctioned and the Mac having had a full reformat.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Paul Grand ~ Carved with pride!

Sunflower landscape, originally uploaded by Paul Grand.

I feel as if I've been raging at art critics all my life,
in my infants school when I was about 6 years old I did a crayon drawing.
As the sky took over most of the page I was sent to see Miss Winterton, the headmistress who brought her corgi dog with her into school each day, a witch of a women who I remember would take great delight in reading out a long list of children killed on the roads every morning at assembly, I digress. She took one look at my picture (a landscape, not unlike the above) and said it was 'all wrong' I'd used too much space!
I cant remember the punishment but I do remember coming out of her office in tears.
This is where I wish I could go back in time and give that evil women a good talking to, ask her;
" Why she was such a power tripping anal hag"?
Going on to tell her;
"People like her shouldn't be let anywhere near children, let alone manage an infants school full of fresh,
innocent kids to have her 'old school' sadistic Victorian, uptight values screamed at them".
I'd also love to ask her, (as it used to fascinate us in the playground)
"What was it with the one big toe always bent upwards"? - In her over-tight, brown leather pointy shoes"?
I think we came to the conclusion that it was her 'starter foot', for the broomstick!

Several years later I grappled with the Golden section, I often use its formal 'suggestions' to this day.
Just last year I heard of the 'Rule of Thirds'. What a great little rule, I see many people follow it to the letter and thus I see many boring photographs...
If you knew the history of the Royal Academy in London, you'd know it was run by the worst kind of establishment snobs, who detested any kind of new art movement until it was coincided safe by the art critics in newspapers,
this place was where the Rule of Thirds came from.
The over-sized, bewigged statue of Sir Joshua Reynolds still stands in their courtyard, bizarrely, he was an ugly, squat and pugnacious little man, but his statue is of a tall, handsome fellow.
I expect its how he saw himself after the application of his rule of thirds?

Only yesterday somebody said, about the picture above; "lovely field. i would have loved more field than sky i think"
So I took a look at his photographs in flickr, just to confirm that this guy 'knows nowt about style'
And true to form I saw; boring boring, same, same.. he'll go far!:-)
Ironically, this picture is probably 'The Picture' that most closely follows the rule of thirds that I've ever done!

A year or so after seeing Miss Winterton, I was brought to account again whilst still in the infants,
this time I received a slap across the face for decorating my white wallpaper backed book,
It was something like 'Wood-chip', and I had shaded it with my pencil, I thought it was cool, but she didn't and said;
"I was the type to carve my name into trees" Ouch!

In secondary school I did something similar and "overdecorated a lovely painting"
- she said, and was similarly told off, though mercifully without the slap.
So what did I learn? - I guess I never did, because I'm now helping to produce textures to be sent around the world,
to 'pollute' (their words) other peoples images!
Oh, and I never did carve my name into a tree! :-p

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Circles of your mind

Flypaper Textures
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Circles of your mind, originally uploaded by Paul Grand.

Like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
On an ever-spinning reel
Like a snowball down a mountain
Or a carnival balloon
Like a carousel thats turning
Running rings around the moon
Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind

Like a tunnel that you follow
To a tunnel of its own
Down a hollow to a cavern
Where the sun has never shone
Like a door that keeps revolving
In a half-forgotten dream
Or the ripples from a pebble
Someone tosses in a stream
Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind

Keys that jingle in your pocket
Words that jangle in your head
Why did summer go so quickly?
Was it something that you said?
Lovers walk along a shore
And leave their footprints in the sand
Is the sound of distant drumming
Just the fingers of your hand?
Pictures hanging in a hallway
And the fragment of a song
Half-remembered names and faces
But to whom do they belong?
When you knew that it was over
You were suddenly aware
That the autumn leaves were turning
To the colour of her hair

Like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
On an ever-spinning reel
As the images unwind
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind

With Thanks to Alan Bergman.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

origin of scuba diver found roasted in a tree?

The scuba diver in the tree urban legend

The story: While assessing the damage done by a forest fire in California, authorities were startled to discover the body of a man dressed in a wetsuit, complete with a dive tank, flippers, and face mask, in the branches of a tree. The strangely placed victim had suffered severe burns from the forest fire, but an autopsy revealed that he had not died from the flames, but from massive internal injuries. Dental records provided the victim's identification, and investigators contacted his family in an attempt to learn how a man who was dressed for scuba diving could possibly have ended up in the branches of a tree in the midst of hundreds of acres of charred forest.

According to the horrified family, the victim had been diving in the ocean some 30 miles away from the forest on the day that the fire had gotten out of control.
As the investigators pieced together the grim details of the man's death, it became apparent that he had been accidentally scooped up along with thousands of gallons of water by one of a fleet of fire planes that had been called in to help the firefighters.
Caught up in one of the huge under tanks, the unfortunate scuba diver had been dumped along with the sea water in an attempt to put out the forest fire as quickly as possible.

Flypaper Textures

Friday, August 28, 2009


The big eat ~ close-up, originally uploaded by Paul Grand.

Made with
Flypaper Textures


doesn't Tarzan have a beard?

Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are flat?

Why do banks charge a fee on "Insufficient funds" when they know there is not enough to pay it?

Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?

Whose idea was it to put an "S" in the word "lisp"?

What is the speed of darkness?

Why is it that people say they "Slept like a baby" when babies wake up every two hours?

Are there specially reserved parking spaces for "normal" people at the Special Olympics?

If the temperature is zero
outside today and it's going to be twice as cold tomorrow, how cold will it be?

How is it that we put man on the moon before we
figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?

Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and
then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?

Did you ever stop and wonder......

Who was the first person to say, "See that
chicken there... I'm gonna eat the next thing that comes outta it's bum."

Why do toasters always have a setting so high
that could burn the toast to a horrible crisp, which no decent human being would eat?

Why is there a light in the
fridge and not in the freezer?

Why do people point to their wrist when asking for the time, but don't point to their bum when they ask where the bathroom is?

Why does your Obstetrician, Gynaecologist leave the room when you get
undressed if they are going to look up there anyway?

Why does Goofy stand erect while Pluto remains on all fours? They're both dogs !

If quizzes are
quizzicals, what are tests?

If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, then what is baby oil made

If electricity comes from
electrons, does morality come from morons?

Do illiterate people get the full effect of Alphabet

Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog's face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him on a car ride, he sticks his head out the window?

Does pushing the elevator button more than once make it arrive faster?


(arrived in my mailbox!)

Monday, August 10, 2009

out of the blue

lone bather, originally uploaded by Paul Grand.

Its funny how blog stories come to fruition.
I've not written a word for ages, then several ideas come all at once, like those English buses in the rain!

I was innocently taking pictures of underwater textures for Martine, whilst standing in our glacial sea the other day. When this guy on the horizon kept creeping into my shots

Previously my sister emailed me from her holiday in the Tropic's during the monsoon (she was out there trying their new house, out of season) to tell me my other sisters husband had almost died.
He's awoken in the early hours with a big sweat, not feeling at all well, my sister in the UK phoned for an ambulance and he was taken to the local hospital.
She drove home, two hours later he had an enormous heart attack, had to be re-booted on the table and revived from death.
Turned out his heart was full of fatty cholesterol, had to be flushed out, I expect the rat poison they use for blood thinning caused all that bruising that my sister noticed..
He's only around 44 years old and looks a bit like the guy in the image, 6'4" like me, but a 'big ex-rugger player'.

So here we are, a man on a horizon facing his mortality after a bolt from the blue. After all, we die alone..

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Overheard at the Pont du Gard visitors center;

Pont du Gard, originally uploaded by Paul Grand.

Rich American tourists speaking to German Tour Guide:

Guide; "We're not going"
"Why cant we go to Monaco"?
Guide; "We cant go, Now"
"But we have personal invitations to visit the Palace from the Grimaldis!"
Guide; "Yes, but all the Grimaldis will now be going to the Jackson funeral"

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

roads in the South of France

Beziers after the wind storm, originally uploaded by Paul Grand.

When I first arrived in France back in 2000, I asked a French friend about speeding on the toll roads, if they were monitored for speeding?
He said; "No, ze French would never stand for zis", going on to quote; "liberty, fraternity and equality."
Just a year or so later, after the most horrific death toll in the whole of Europe, the cameras arrived. So much for my French friends belief in 'Liberty, fraternity etc..

The French around here, near the border with Spain, often blame the tourists or Spanish truck drivers arriving on French roads already drunk.
But if this were the case, why do I see so many French cars on their backs, smashed into trees, driven into fields etc, every Saturday morning?
They do seem to go just a little bit crazy on a Friday night..

The national mobile police often set up speed traps at the edges of Vineyards, hiding their motorbikes behind vines etc.
Friendly passing motorists despise this practice, and will often flash a warning to oncoming cars of a speed trap ahead.
The correct etiquette is to acknowledge thanks by giving a quick wave, but never let the cops see you flash, as it's illegal.

Recently, cops have started surveillance in cities, following the UK model on a tiny scale by just using the odd camera for a short while.
The other day, after countless night time arson attacks on big council Wheeler bins, the police put cameras on a square, thinking they might capture some hoodies,
but were surprised to find another strange crime.
A mother with a pram and couple of kids were seen near cars, the cops thought they had dropped something, but no, it turned out they were tampering with the parked vehicles.
The police gave chase and found instead of a baby snuggled under fluffy blankets, a several gallon container filled with freshly siphoned petrol...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

irony and poppies

poppies, originally uploaded by Paul Grand.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that if you are brought up surrounded by irony you'll probably see it everywhere.
On the other hand, if you've had an irony free upbringing, the opposite will generally apply.

Once as a favor, I did a set of wedding photographs, for an American painter friend and her partner, an English novelist.
I happened to capture a glum faced girl in several shots at their reception in the large poppy filled garden.
The same girl managed to maneuver herself in front of several other groups of similarly, glum faced relatives.
On seeing the photos the cynical, newly published groom accused me of being ironic!
He'd made a classic gaff in mistaking coincidence as a form of irony.

The Bride, thankfully saw no such hidden meaning,
however, and perhaps ironically, the marriage failed and she flew back to the states shortly after the honeymoon period was over.

Personally I find it quite a difficult task to read irony into a shot of a field of poppies, however for many, poppies symbolise all kinds of strange things.
From chocolate box pastoral Monet paintings to "..Flanders fields the poppies blow.."

Most wont see any irony in that famous patriotic poem. However I think the general consensus, after much Googling,
is that if you read it and then re-read it with say a more... 'cynical eye'
You just might have an ironic epiphany and conclude the poem is in fact trying to say the opposite it at first purports.

Getting back to this image, poppies I gather generally grow best in disturbed soil.
Thus the fields of WW1 were ideal sites for seeds to be released after many years entombed underground, seizing their chance of freedom and quickly flowering amongst all that mud and carnage, these opportunistic weeds thrived.

I understand the location of one of Monet's beloved poppy field paintings, painted many years before poppies became sad ironic symbols is now a factory strewn urban wasteland. Few will know that Monet's first wife as pictured tragically died shortly afterward's from supposed cancer. The money he made from those paintings barely covered the cost of medicine for her..

Lets hope with the demolition of those old factories, one day the seeds from those very poppies he painted will be released to grow once more.
Ironically Monet painted these idyllic scenes as a form of direct protest to the onward advance of the modern industrial world.

As for this field, it is sited next door to a large building site. And this field was an old vineyard just one year ago..thus the grubbed up vine roots disturbed the soil.
On one side a new housing estate is being built and the other, stands huge gray prison watch tower overlooking an unfinished high security prison..

Sunday, May 24, 2009

When more is not enough

temple during rain, originally uploaded by Paul Grand.

On the coast, below Bangkok, grows a very strange wooden temple structure.
It was conceived and started by an eccentric billionaire known as "Khun Lek" just 20 years ago.
Sited near Pattaya, he named it 'The Sanctuary of Truth'.
He has since died but the project still continues and is expected to be completed within five years.

The shape follows traditional Thai architecture, decorated with wood carvings depicting the four major philosophical and artistic influences that can be seen in Thailand: Hindu, Khmer, Chinese and Thai.
A team of 250 woodcarvers are at work on the sanctuary at any given time.

We'd only heard about this (not so famous) edifice the day before on the net and so time was short..
When we visited it was raining, but as it was our last day we ploughed on through the mud and sand with several cameras in weather that even the guides were unwilling to brave!

We were astonished by the size of the thing, with its huge carved four faced Buddha's heads and many over-sized elephants.
Whilst inside the stygian gloom sadly hid most of its treasures, with warnings posted that the interior was off-limits for photography other than personal snaps.

We both found it over decorated, verging on the Disney-kitsch, and thus came up with a new name for it; 'When more is not enough' !
However, it keeps many woodcarvers and related industries in employment, so it must be a good thing in an area almost devoid of cultural sites other than the sleazy go-go bars and several Thai Kick Boxing bar venues.

Thus, I recommend hiring an air conditioned taxi for a day from Bangkok and spread the cost between a few friends for a visit and avoid the next door resort if possible.

The cheaper bus is a false economy as they will drive you the slowest (cheapest) route and take you to a tourist trap factory outlet..
The trip is about seventy five minutes @ 25 euros per day, (per car) via taxi on the motorway. Up to four hours and 10 euros each (one way)by bus!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Travelers tales

Ayutthaya ruins in old Siam, originally uploaded by Paul Grand.

Last night we dinned with the old friend of Martine at her outdoor restaurant, the same French restaurant patron I'd written about in the previous funny blog last year, about the bicycle accident
As Martine and I have just returned from a months touring vacation of Thailand, she amused us again, this time with her travelers tales from her 'hippy' trip to Thailand 40 years ago.

She was staying on Phuket's Patong Beach when it was only a little fishing village and had a little rented private sleeping hut on stilts on the beach. The nearby James Bond (Man with the Golden Gun) on Phi Phi Island was yet to be filmed, and thus renamed James Bond island. She said it was then 'Paradise'. Of course there are no longer any huts on that beach at Patong, the Tsunami (or 'tiramiso' as she jokingly referred to it) swept them all away along with several thousand unlucky people..

She also visited 'Chang Mia' in the north as we did and took the generic 'Golden Triangle' walking tour of the Jungles along the borders of the joined neighboring countries and found to their mounting horror,
they were lead by a native bush guide who was continually drinking as he walked, leading them in huge circles until they'd had enough 'daja vu' for one day
and all decided to abandon him.
They left him sitting cross legged, Buddha's lotus style, on a flat rock, calling down;
"You might not like me, but I still like all of you" !

In those days as it still is now, this trip can be dangerous, at one point the inebriated guide told them all to lie down in the long grass-fast, whilst a troupe of heavily armed gorilla soldiers marched by..

Whilst traveling with a small group friends, they one day became intrigued by the thought of seeing a huge mythical glass Buddha, 300 kilometers north of where they were staying at the time.
So they all hired an old car and drove several hours along mostly unsurfaced roads to reach this Monastery of the famous glass Buddha.
Upon finally reaching this nirvana they found the temple doors locked!
After banging for what seemed like hours, a minion monk finally arrived from within and opened up temple.
He said "It's not possible to visit today, please come back tomorrow"..
Thus they all groaned and began to beg to see the relic as they had made this arduous several hour pilgrimage especially to see this mythical Chrystal Buddha.
Finally having melted the gatekeepers heart he disappeared within to speak to the head monk. A while later an elderly Monk arrived at the door with a little bungle in old newsprint.
He said they had been lucky and had been granted a little peep at the blessed icon. Whereupon he started unraveling the newspapers, finally bringing out, cupped in the palm of one hand a every small, boring glass Buddha!
Their collective hearts sank, and turned around after politely cooing 'How lovely' it was, set off back to the city and their several hour nightmare car trip in the broiling afternoon sun...

She also did a lot of traveling by train, she said in those days the sleeping bunks were at either side of the train, a passage separated the two sides and personal curtains in front of all the sleepers.
A tea server or 'Char' would walk the corridors all night with boiling hot tea, fresh leaf Green Chinese tea, quite unlike the dried green tea we find in the west.
To obtain this refreshing brew one would simply stick out ones hand holding their metal cup through the curtain for it to be refilled as many times as you wanted. She added that the trains were nice and clean.
However things change, as we read in the Thai press just last week, that the continuing Thai railway bed bug infestation was now under control and all the countries trains were in the process of being stripped and renewed in Bug repelling plastic or leather upholstery.
Thankfully we chose not to cross Thailand by train but gleaned the information while cruising in air conditioned, bug free comfort at a height of several thousand meters!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

she lived above a shop

she lived above a shop
Originally uploaded by Paul Grand
Here is a transcript of an interview published today in:
The World Through My Eyes

1: How long have you been involved in photography?

I did extra photography during the evenings whilst at art college, I didn't specialise because finally, whilst doing very well in the subject, I found B/W photography in those days was too limiting for me.
Then, when high quality digital photography and manipulation came about just a few years ago, I jumped at the chance to get back in there!
To answer the question, I recently sold an old College B/W photograph to a magazine and it was featured on the front cover. so, I guess it took over 20 years?

2: Equipment you use?
Sony alpha 350.
I've been using the combined 18 -70 kit lens and I'm just upgrading to a new "vacation lens" - an all round, wide angle to zoom lens.
I'm also on the market for a nice strong wide angle. (offers?)
The great thing about the Sony Alpha is the back tilting, upwards or downwards LCD screen, I always use it to shoot from the hip, it fools people and helps to keep them relaxed,
because as soon as I lift it to my eye, (being tall doesn't help) everybody runs or scowls. I really like it just for that, plus its 14 + Megapixels!

3: Mac or PC?
Just changed over to Mac last summer, I have a 24" Imac with an upgraded powerful ram card.
So far, I'm very happy with it. I could never go back, Just the HD screen alone knocks spots off the old PC. When I use the old PC these days, I feel like I have gone back about 10 years into the past,
everything seems so dated and clunky in the PC format. Sorry, PC diehards! :-/

4: What inspires you?
Normal things like raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, but no, really, great light, deep blue skies, interesting locations.
The golden hour in an ancient Mediterranean graveyard, that really does it for me!:-)
I started out with a cheap plastic Dianna camera in a dark sooty Yorkshire graveyard aged 14-15. And here I am, still lurking about them in other countries!
I'm also naturally inspired by my flickr contacts images, I'd love to list them all but it would be too long:-(

5: Preferred subject matter?
Coming from a depressing northern "Rustbelt City" and escaping to London as soon as I could, I go for classical painterly subjects and antique stone buildings, I despise industrial red brick and I'm not too fond of cheap modern buildings and structures like the ghastly new wind turbines that despoil our ancient landscapes, which I wished were all sited off-shore.
I do however admire the magnificent and very useful, nearby Millau Viaduct designed by a fellow Yorkshireman, Norman Foster (and partners).

6: Name one thing you haven't caught with the camera that you REALLY want to capture.
A tornado? Failing that I'd love to capture an erupting volcano, from a safe distance of course, with the red hot larva flows, visit Pompeii, do the pyramids and perhaps Easter island and the Galapagos islands, etc,etc

7: When in doubt about your art, who do you confide in?
Easy, I confide in Jill aka Borealnz and Martine aka Petite Chose mostly. They are both experts at what they do, and I admire artists who really know their own pigeon.

8: Qualifications/training in anything? ie: Photoshop
I'm self taught in Photoshop, or rather, both Martine and I discovered it together.
At College I graduated at distinction level in Fine Art.

9: Plans for the future?
Lots of travel, and I'm off to Thailand next week!:-)
I'd like to sell much more and try to make a living from my images..

10: In one word, describe your photography.
Its not for me to say, but perhaps... 'Illustrative'?

We hope you enjoy Paul's wonderful photos. It would be great if you could leave a little congratulatory message here for him and once again I urge you to visit his Photostream I know you won't be disappointed!


Thursday, January 15, 2009

pathos of the quarter moon

Thought It was about time I got back into the swing after a several
week absence due to a badly cricked neck!
My Christmas image for the Man Ray contest had been put on hold. I'd had several ideas and over the weeks had already made each one in my
head, so, by the time it came to close the contest,
I felt as if I had already exhausted the subject!
Thankfully new inspiration came from a 150 year old Tin Type I'd just acquired from America.
The metallic tin type feel went perfectly with the metallic moon. A marriage made in heaven!
Thus the image came together, but I wanted to give it that rich toffee wrapper glow. So I had to learn some new colouring techniques fast!
I searched on the net and finally found one I could learn from easily.
(turn your speakers off!) Here
Martine, who is an expert colourist, gave me a few additional tips and encouragement.
I then added the star backdrop which came from one of my old Victorian wallpaper photos and popped in the full moon photograph, from an old French postcard.
Additional grunge texture was applied, coming from the smooth stone texture as before and Voila!
A melancholic quarter moonface, 'mooning' for the full face.

The image was launched and attained a respectable 4th place in Explore.
It died in the contest however and didn't get a single vote!

A few days later I'm told my image has been stolen and reissued under a different name on a different site!
The whole story unfolds under the stolen picture on flickr

The result being that I now only issue small size images and I'm exploring a watermarking system for the future.

This infamous Moon image of mine is now on the front cover of my new 2009 Calender, available here

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