Juxtapositions and peace in the city

The same view, two very different interpretations thanks to two different juxtapositions…

It struck me that the first could be an atheist campaign, while the second could be a Church of England marketing device. The irony of course being that although it’s free to get into Tate Modern (whose banner this is) it’s not free to enter St Paul’s (unless you tell them you just want to pray or it’s an act of worship).

This will sound odd, but I do love London when it’s hot (and I don’t have to use the tube). It may have been the hottest day of the year so far (may have been, I’m not sure) but that somehow didn’t stop me walking an 8+ mile loop around the river (how I came upon the above photos). True, Borough was (as usual) teeming with people buying olives & smoothies and the banks of the river were crowded with groups of Spanish/Italian/German/French teenagers, but if you know where to go, you can get some peace and quiet…

One of those places is a patch of grass between the Tate and the Globe. It’s not particularly hidden, but it’s usually not very busy despite being a rare bit of green along that stretch of the river. The added bonus is its view of St Paul’s and the Millennium Bridge and proximity to free toilets at the Tate – an ideal location to eat a picnic and finish off a rather good novel. Another is the City. Turn right at St Paul’s and suddenly all the tourists vanish and, if it’s the weekend, there’s no one else around. (The downside is that the majority of shops are shut too, but you can have fun exploring.) Full of narrow alleys and major landmarks (the Monument being one of them) – pretty classic London really.

It’s a very, very small world

[Or, ‘the things we’d never discover were it not for Facebook’.]

We discover a lot of random stuff via Facebook. (I say ‘we’, obviously those who shun it – Phil, I’m thinking of you – don’t discover anything at all.) We all have those friends who were real friends once upon a time, but nowadays we glean random facts from their status updates. I’m sure I’m not the only person who, when out with friends, finds conversation turning to the activities of once upon a time mutual friends fuelled by information gleaned solely from Facebook – who’s married, had children, been on holiday, moved to London…it’s scary how much we can know about people we don’t even seem to like most of the time!

On Friday morning, while on the way to Wimbledon, K mentioned that an old school friend of ours had been at the Kings of Leon gig in Hyde Park on Wednesday which she’d been at too. (In fact, most of my friends seemed to be at that gig, while I was living it up in Portsmouth…not that I’m bitter, much.) This friend had once been in our wider social circle, particularly in 6th form and early years at university, but none of us had seen her for years and years. Thanks to Facebook, I know that she’s now in London and studying midwifery (and that she had Kings of Leon tickets), but haven’t made any attempt to meet up with her.

Yesterday, a photo of her at Wimbledon popped up in my newsfeed. I took a closer look and realised that it was taken on Friday. A further delve into her album revealed that she’d been sat on the hill watching the Murray-Nadal match – along with us and several thousand others. Closer inspection of one photo indicated that she was sat not terribly far from me and K. Witness, exhibits A and B:

Exhibit A – Emily’s photo
Exhibit B – My photo

Initially, it was the view of the screen that gave it away – it was a pretty good, dead centre one, plus there were the pond plants, which I’d had a great view of from my spot. Then I took a closer look and realised that some of the same people appeared in both. In the first photo is a woman (on the right, partially visible) in a green sleeveless top – in my photo she appears further away, to the right of the screen. I can’t spot Emily in the picture, but she must be there somewhere – very weird.

Talking of weird, photo-related coincidences – I recently came across a story of a couple who, when looking through old photos just before their wedding, discovered their paths had crossed as children on a trip to Disneyland. The woman’s future husband could be seen in the background of a photo of her with one of the seven dwarves. Random.

Fun with physiotherapy and skeletons

Here’s something I came across during my sojourn in Canary Wharf:

I passed this interesting sight any time I made it out of the hotel and crossed over the beautiful footbridge to head into civilisation for some fresh(ish) air and an iced Earl Grey tea. Earlier in the week (probably around Wednesday’s key football match) it was dressed in a red & white jester hat. By Thursday it was rooting for the Dutch. Great stuff.

This post actually borrows a running theme from Tea Stains (who has a weekly amusing photo) – a new blogging friend. (Well, we comment on each other’s blogs, I think that counts!) Hopefully she won’t mind…

Photographic evidence of a 2010 First

The list is getting longer and increasingly diverse. In my family’s eyes, one of its most notable features is the mention of tomatoes – cherry tomatoes to be precise.

As a child (and a teenager, and a young adult, and now…) I had quite a few food foibles – I guess I was the quintessential fussy eater. Vegetables were particularly troublesome. My mother is known for the wide variety of (exceedingly yummy) veg she’ll produce as part of a Sunday roast, but as far as I was concerned all I would eat was peas, sweetcorn and raw carrot. My dislike of all other vegetables was so well known that whenever I visited my grandparents they provided me with an entire raw carrot of my own. [First question from my mother after our first siblings only trip to the ‘grents’ just before Easter was “did Grandma give you a raw carrot?” – the answer is no, Grandma had obviously picked up that I’ve eaten them cooked for a decade.]

Over the years many of the foibles have fallen by the wayside. I’ve loved broccoli for ages and take immense pleasure in the fact that my Dad hates it. Cooked carrots entered my vegetable spectrum when I started university, as did mushrooms and green beans; I’ll eat cauliflower but don’t enjoy it and have decided it’s the most tasteless and pointless vegetable around. But the one vegetable I’ve always avoided like the plague is raw tomato.

There’s a logical reason for this hatred – it’s the texture and consistency. I can’t stand the slime of the inside and the weird strength of the skin. I think it was in Palestine that I first willingly ate it – partly because I was hungry and partly it was the perfect accompaniment to the lentil dish we were served (one day soon I’ll blog that recipe, I finally took photos the last time I made it). In small quantities I could do tomato salad, but in any other context I assiduously removed them from my plate. Tomato-loving friends who have eaten with me have experienced the joy of picking rejected tomatoes off my plate.

Particular hatred was directed towards cherry tomatoes. They epitomised everything I hated about tomatoes – the slime, the skin and the fact that when bitten into, they explode raw tomato-ness into your mouth. Eurgh!

It’s now cherry tomato season. A few Saturdays ago on one of my regular forays into Borough Market after a trip to the gym I was inspired to buy a bowl of them, seized with the idea that I’d make the Palestinian lentil thing and have bruschetta for lunch. I wasn’t going to bite into them – just slice them and eat them that way. You know what? They were pretty yummy.

The following Saturday I was back in the market, with a friend in tow who is quite the foodie. We were picking items for a picnic and he was rather scornful of how few items made it onto the list of ‘things from Borough Market that Liz will eat’ (it excluded olives, cheeses from the weirder end of the spectrum and anything fish related). I think he was surprised that I willingly purchased cherry tomatoes, but truth be told I’d not fully thought through the fact that we didn’t have a knife…

My concept of goats cheese on baguette with tomato on top was a great one, except the only way I could ‘slice’ the tomatoes was by biting into them. Apparently, the expression on my face as I did this was quite amusing – utter disgust and astonishment when the inevitable explosion of tomato juice happened. Fortunately for you, one moment of this was captured on film:

I’m hoping that my father will be particularly proud of this picture. Every time I visit, he will at some point ask if I’m eating tomatoes yet, so now he’ll know the answer. (Apparently both my parents are reading the blog these days so I don’t need to even send him the Flickr link.) He also asks if I drink coffee or eat fish – to be honest, I think both those dislikes are for a lifetime.

Anyway, cherry tomatoes are now off one list and onto another and that, my friends, is definite progress.

Reflections

It’s deadline week at work (two deadlines, on the same day in fact), which means that my mind is tired and my fingers are less inclined to type. As a result, this week’s blogging will have been largely picture based. No apologies for this, especially as it gives me space to think on other things, but it’s good to keep up the variety.

I would dearly love to be a good photographer. I’d really like a decent SLR camera, along with the knowledge & ability to use one effectively. Because spring has sprung, I’m beginning my annual (well, second year in a row) pondering of the camera dilemma. Spending a day in the presence of a friend who knows a lot more about cameras than me (and goes for the old skool version) exacerbated this – and though there is no way I’m going down the film route (I lack the patience) it’s really got me thinking.

Anyway, I said this wouldn’t be wordy – clearly I lied… My favourite set of photos from Saturday’s expedition are entitled ‘Reflections’. A few friends find my interest in digital self-portraiture a little unnerving (or amusing) and regard it as shameless narcissism. I, on the other hand, think that it’s an interesting photographic challenge, especially when you throw the issue of reflecting glass in there too…

Yes, they’re dark. Yes, you can’t really see the subjects very well. But I think they suitably reflect the amusement that can be derived from a sofa, a piece of glass, a camera and extreme exhaustion from looking at too much art.

One further reflection on this topic – why is it that such self-portraits look so much better when the photographer is holding a ‘proper’ camera (i.e. not a tiny compact thing)? I adore this one of my fabulously talented friend Katie, which conveniently for this post also involves reflections. (Don’t assume this blog is simply thrown together without thought!) She has a proper camera and takes truly excellent photos with it – I’m jealous.