Alto Montecatini, Tuscany, Italy 2019

Standing above the Tuscan town of Montecatini Terme, Alto is reached by Fenicular railway in this spa town. €5 single and €7 return journey, gets you a bumpy but pleasant ride up the steep hill to the top of the hill. Just why you would want a single ticket is puzzling, since the track down is more suitable for BMX bikes rther than pedestrian traffic.

It is then a short walk from the small terminal to the town’s centre. Bristling with tourists and open air cafes. this delightful urnabisation retains the magic of Tuscany’s rural past. It was very hot (31C) the day I ventured around the town, discovering narrow streets and wide vistas over the town of Montecatini Terme. Many of the homes appear not to be inhabited, bing boared up or completely deserted. They are, maybe, holidy homes, but there are a few working hotels dotted around the ouskirts of the town and they can be approached by car if required.

Whilst I was visiting, a Leonardo da Vinci exhibition was tking place in the old fort above the town and at the top of the central square. Worth a look, for those interested in Leonardo’s scientific experiments with machines. Some of his contraptions have been recreated in the gounds of the fort.

The fenicular runs from 09.30 to 00.00, but be warned, it closes from one and a half hours for lunch, so timing id important if you need to be back in Montecatini Terme during that period, which starts at 1.pm.

This trip may not be suitable for the infirm without assistance.

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Finally, a New Book has hits the Streets!

Oofty-Goofty, born and bred in a secret wind-swept location above the industrial towns of West Yorkshire, is given the task of implementing a new plant in the heart of Paris, the city of light. On his first visit to Paris, he meets the beautiful French girl Anna, and is instantly drawn into her cultured world. Their partnership is continuously tested when they uncover an ancient society that would stop at nothing to maintain its secrets.
Back in Yorkshire, Brexit is rapidly becoming a reality and jobs are becoming a concern for Oofty-Goofty’s bosses. His patriotism is severely tested as they negotiate their way through the ancient ruins under the streets of Paris, around the magnificent cathedral of Notre-Dame.


This is Book One in the Sacred Slab Trilogy.

Published today in Kindle Format

Published in Paperback Format

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RSPB Bempton Cliffs: A Magic Morning

I went to Bempton Cliffs at the weekend and even though it was cold and overcast the visit was not wasted. The North sea blew a cold wind and the mist eventually came inland. However, I managed to get there before the mist appeared. This is a magicsl place for seabirds. Puffins, Guillemots, Razorbills, Kittiwakes and Gannets co-exist on the edge of the land. 400 ft of shear rocks are home from March to October every year to at least 250,000 seabirds. nesting looks,a nd is, precarious. Competition for space is palpable and each bird fights for its own space for breeding. There were few Puffins there, but the other seabirds made up for that. there was even a Kestral flying along the cliff tops. probably looking for an easy meal!

RSPB Bempton Cliffs, Post Code: YO15 1JF

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Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes

My first group of Spoonbills this year. There’s something ‘African’ about these splendid birds. Eight flew in to NWT Cley Marshes yesterday. Maybe we will get hundreds in the future. Also a sitting avocet posed for a photograph.

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RSPB Lakenheath: Greylags and others…

Spent a day at Lakenheath in the Mere Hide. All peaceful, feeding Great Crested Grebe and restless Reed Warblers, until this lot of Greylag families flew in. The noisiest of flyers. Three families in all. The Coots scrambled away, they’d seen it all before. Greylag parents and offspring spent the rest of their day bathing, sometimes upside down in the mere.

RSPB Lakenheath Fen, Station Rd, Lakenheath, Brandon, Thetford, Suffolk. IP27 9AD. Grid ref: TL724865

Visitor centre with refreshments.

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RSPB Frampton Marshes Lincolnshire

Went to this reserve to see a Black Winger Pratincole, which did not appear for me! Still, it’s a wonderful reserve for waders. Out today was a Spoonbill and these very distressed Avocets. One of their chicks had wandered onto the path. Hope it found its way back OK, but I fear the worse.

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More from RSPB Frampton Marshes, June 2019

Alas I missed the Black-Winger Pratincole, which had decided to move on by the time and date I arrived at this favourite reserve. However, an unsuspecting Great Crested Grebe came within snapping distance and this ‘mistake’ pleased me. Ghostly photograph!

GCG and Godwits/Knots in flight.

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RSPB Strumpshaw Fen, Norfolk, England

A delightful reserve, teeming with wildlife at this time of year. The staff are particularly friendly and very helpful. The reserve visitor centre is based on a traditional wooden hide. Charming. I visited particularly to see the Swallowtail Butterflies and was well rewarded even though the weather was inclement. Such a large butterfly. Alas, not close enough for a photograph. The Meadow walk is excellent and after sitting for about 45 minutes, two Chinese Water Deer appeared from the tall grass. Further round, by the river Yare, Marsh Harriers were feeding, and many swallows were busying themselves on the abundant insect life. You would not know there’s a crisis in insect life going here! Well worth a day or two out of your holidays. Just a few miles off the A47 via country roads. Come by boat too!

Bee on Cow Parsley, Black and Yellow Longhorn Beetle on Dog Rose, Hover Fly on Poppy, Painted Lady Red Admiral butterflies and solo poppy.

RSPB Strumpshaw Fen, Low Road, Strumpshaw, Norwich NR13 4HS Grid ref TG341065

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ESSAY ADDED CONCERNING CAMERAWORK: THE BRITISH PHOTOGRAPHY MAGAZINE FROM THE 1970s

Just got around to publishing the original essay and accompanying documentation, regarding the Half Moon Photography Workshop (HMPW) – Camerawork magazine. Published by this exciting photography co-operative during the 1970s and 80s it provides an insight into photography during the decades.

Camerawork and the Half Moon Photography Workshop
is now the subject of a forthcoming exhibition at Four Corners, Bethnal Green, which is currently developing an archive of the early years of the HMPW and Four Corners, with financial assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Essay is HERE

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Bruges (Brugges) Triennale May 5th – September 19th 2018: LIQUID CITY

 

Skyscraper, StudioKCA
Photograph copyright Shaun Villiers Everett 2018

As part of a planned trip to ‘Flander’s Fields’, I took some time out to look in on the opening week of the latest Bruges’ event, which gets underway, and I mean ‘gets’ in its most positive sense. There is certainly no hurrying the curators and artists this year, which include Tomas Saraceno, Renato Nicolodi and Obba (Office for Beyond Boundaries Architecture), the ltter being founded in May 2012, by Sojung Lee and Sangjoon Kwak. Multiple installations are to be found across the city on th theme of Liquid City, this following on from the 2015 theme of Megapolis, which examined the different aspects of global urbanization. The new theme concentrates our minds on how flexible, liquid and resilient can a historic city like Bruges be in a global age, when nothing seems to be certain any longer?

Well, it has to be flexible in early May 2018, since I discovered several of the installations still at thier earliest stages of construction. So if you are thinking of attending, hang on a few weeks for the artists to realise the opening this time is a couple of weeks earlier than the last event in 2015! The wonders of democratic art, or an indexical attack on the senses?

Skyscraper, StudioKCA
Photograph copyright Shaun Villiers Everett 2018

Nevertheless, I found several complete pieces, all merging with the water of the extensive canal system that is Bruges, and all of which, are either partially immersed in or in hybridised contact with some part of the canal water. For instance, I disciovered Skyscraper, the Bruge Whale from StudioKCA, an innovative architecture and design agency led by Jason Klimoski and Lesley Chang, based in Brooklyn, New York, by accident whilst paying homage to Jan van Eyck. Made of 5 tonnes of waste hauled off Hawwaii beaches, it is a constant reminder to the visitor, of the delicate balance the planet finds itself having to cope with and of our guilt in making it that way, and of the mountains of plastic waste affecting the oceans in all parts of our globe.

The work though, is going to also be a ‘fun’ visit for even the most hardened Neanderthal, and the kids seem to love it too! What struck me more than anything else, was the way it leaps out of the water, with the aim of devouring Jan van Eyke, in the square dedicated to this city’s most celebrated master. If striking the master is the price for clearing up the global plastic invasion, then so be it.

The other completed projects included OBBA’s Floating Island, placed up by the Snaggaardbrug to the north. An interactive piece, the local youth are already finding it most convenient in the heat of the city day, and it attracts residents and visitors alike and reminds us that Bruges is a city that has prospered on its contact with the sea, though a maze of canals that reach around the entire city and beyond.

Floating Island, OBBA
Photograph copyright Shaun Villiers Everett 2018

There’s a lot to be said for interactive art, even surreptitiously placed artwork, that appears more functional than formal. Nice move OBBA!

Positioned not more than two stone throws away from the this island oasis is Renato Nicolodi’s Acheron, a floating mass of stone placed aside a bridge and seemingly acting as a barrier to canal traffic. Actually, little traffic is seen in this peaceful region of the canal, and anyway who wants the constant disturbance by those pesky tourist boats!

From the website:

With ACHERON I, an installation in the water, Renato Nicolodi suggests a link between our contemporary society and the mythological underworld. Acheron, derived from the Greek word achos, in mythology

Acheron I, Renato Nicolodi
Photograph Shaun Villiers Everett copyright 2018

symbolizes the ‘river of sorrow’. The mythical river is the way to the underworld, where the dead cross over under the guidance of Charon. Acheron is also a real river in northwestern Greece, which flows partly underground. This natural phenomenon may be the basis for the myth. In Bruges, Nicolodi’s artwork embodies this transition which forms a link between life and death. The surface of the water serves as a boundary. The sculpture is a haven, a gateway, a port between the present, the future and the past.

Probably the most evocative installation, it is however, very understated and could have done with a more prominent position in this year’s event. If peace and tranquility represent the portals to the underworld and the afterlife, then it is certainly well placed from that viwepoint. A very calming installation.

The Bruges Triennale runs to the 19th September 2018. Elsewhere in the city, the Groeningemuseum has Haute Lecture by Colard Mansion. Innovating text and image in medieval Bruges (March 1st 0 June 3rd 2018) presenting the 15th century world of illustrated books (Manuscripts). At the height of Bruges’ success, it was a cosmopolitan, dynamic city, famous for its book production. Luxury books held a central place in international trade and the broader Burgundian culture and many are on display in this temporary exhibition.

Press

 

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