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Posts tagged ‘travel’


Liverpool – Slipway To The World

Ever sat in a restaurant and realised that the person sitting opposite you will have had an entirely different view from yours. Maybe you’ve got the view to the street and pavement outside, while your companion can see the hustle and bustle of the kitchens and the serving hatch. Your experience of the restaurant might be qualitatively distinct as a result of the simple matter of perspective and outlook.


Apply this thinking to the cities of the United Kingdom and you might suddenly begin to understand something of the particular character of one of the greatest of those cities – Liverpool.

The picture above was taken last night down by the shore of the wide River Mersey as the sun was starting to set. In the distance, the mouth of the great river is still lit as the sun drops in the West. I’ve been picturing the UK’s cities in my mind and their rivers – London and the Thames, Newcastle and the Tyne, Bristol and the Avon, yet none of these rivers open so clearly onto the oceans beyond like the Mersey as it flows in and out of Liverpool. As a Liverpudlian, your imagination is constantly drawn by this slipway to the rest of the world. To the cities of North America; Montreal, Quebec, New York and San Francisco. To the far shores of the antipodes; Sydney, Melbourne and Tasmania. To the Orient; Shanghai, Hong Kong and beyond. If you want a clue to the character, personality and outlook of Liverpool and it’s citizens, look no further than the River Mersey and the seven seas lapping at the city’s shores.












Nearly New Year In China.

It’s nearly the New Year in China – and this year it’ll be the Year of the Horse.


Or maybe it should be the Year of the Rowing Boat for this happy crew.

I snapped this while being rowed lazily around the almost impossibly beautiful West Lake at Hangzhou, a sizeable city of a mere 8 million souls a little over an hour away from Shanghai by high speed train.

So many happy memories of China and hope to back there soon.


Time Travel

Kings Cross Station in London has been round for a long time – since 1852 to be precise. It’s Victorian structure is easily recognisable for passengers heading to York, Newcastle and Edinburgh. For today’s traveller, the surprise lies beyond the station’s facade –


The stunning roof shown here is breathtaking – opened in 2012, this amazing structure sits high above the milling passengers below. Not to mention the celebrated Platform 9 and three quarters from Harry Potter.


Occasional Graffiti – Number 12A

Yes, a little superstitious, so no number 13 – this is Occasional Graffiti – Number 12A.


The ‘A” could, in fact, stand for Amsterdam as this is where these two shots were taken. The first one wasn’t a million miles from the hotel we’d stayed in – a fabulous boutique hotel called ‘Hotel JL No.76’ – check out it’s website – – in a really cool neighbourhood a stone’s throw from the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. There were a few kindergarten in the area and this graffiti formed the backdrop to a play area, which even had it’s own baseball net – heavily disguised by the graffiti!


Whereas with this one, the bicycles almost seem camouflaged. If memory serves me correct, this was in an alley off the Flower Market.


Amsterdam Itself.

I’d not been too well earlier in the year and I’d promised myself that I’d visit the Van Gogh Museum before 2013 was through. We made it with a little under a month to go.


I’d bought tickets for the Van Gogh Museum online and after a great breakfast in the nearby ‘Small Talk’ cafe, spent several hours in awe of the work of this amazing artist. Something of a lump in the throat, too, as I looked at his last painting, left incomplete just before his death. But Amsterdam itself soon takes your mind off things – not least the glorious canal network that surely served the commercial advance of the Dutch in the past.


And then there’s the ubiquitous bicycle. Just watch the variety of locals who ride these at speed and you get a sense of a people comfortable in their own skin.


I wasn’t quite expecting to see so much colour everywhere but then we’d been lucky with the weather and Amsterdam was gearing up for Christmas. Even these ripped billboards seem to have an artistic life of their own. You can just see the Christmas decorations hung above the street below.


One part of Amsterdam that did leave a different sort of mark was the Anne Frank House.


But then there’s always a houseboat gently resting on a canal that’s never too far away to cheer you up.


This cosy and inviting residence almost seems to sum up the warmth of an Amsterdam welcome. I’ll be back.


El Algar, es de origen árabe

Being a bit of language monkey, I’d often thought the small town of El Algar ,near the coast in the Murcia region of Spain, might well have had arabic origins. After all, check out the map and you’ll see this part of Spain in only a stone’s throw across the Mediterranean from modern day Algeria.

The town’s inhabitants from the various ethnic groups seem to rub along just fine. Here, a group of Muslim men are shooting the breeze at a table in the shadow of the local Catholic church.


There’s not an awful lot to see in El Algar but we’d decided it was worth a quick detour off the highway to take a look.

This modern sculpture in front of an old theatre caught my eye.


And I definitely think this old property’s got potential.


If it’s true to the town’s arabic roots, it could well have a cool, quiet courtyard hidden inside.


Occasional Graffiti – Number 12

If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I’m fascinated by graffiti in its many different forms. I’ve recently returned from a holiday in the Murcia region of Spain and have now got ample material for several posts on this subject.


This piece really took my breath away. It was tucked away down a quiet street in Cartagena and reminded me for all the world of a graffiti diagram of the heart complete with all its valves in glorious vivid colour. Needless to say, it was more likely a graffiti artist’s signature as is so often the case.


Much less colour in this second piece also from Cartagena. This time it was painted on a wall on the main tree-lined avenue through the city. No less powerful or dramatic for it’s limited use of colour. In fact, you might say it illustrates the adage that less is more. 


The bright blue of a scorching summer’s day in southern Spain is clearly visible at the top of the first two images, and the clear Mediterranean light definitely adds to the power of the pieces. This final piece has no sign of the blue sky anywhere to be seen but is nonetheless one of the most interesting and original pieces I think I’ve ever seen. Surreal and thought provoking – I have no idea what it was meant to represent, but is clearly a very different piece with a cryptic message all of it’s own.


Shanghai Sunday Morning

Sunday morning in Shanghai comes in different shapes and sizes. Just behind the Nanjing Road, cyclists, street traders and local policemen jostle for space.


While just a ten minute stroll away families and friends were having an altogether more relaxed Sunday morning in the shade.


Generations of young and old mix happily together.


While many of the young use a leisurely Sunday morning to take their technology for a spin, older citizens of Shanghai can often be seen in a more reflective frame of mind.


And everywhere there are children – the future of modern China.



Belfast Bound

A glorious Sunday morning on Crosby Beach yesterday and a chance to let the dog off the lead. The sands were golden in the bright morning sunshine and the tide was high. Many of Anthony Gormley’s figures were submerged up to their waists far out to sea. I don’t claim any merit for this shot but include it on my blog out of interest really.


It’s the Stena Line ferry heading out from the mouth of the River Mersey into Liverpool Bay en route to Belfast. In the foreground, seaweed has washed up on the shoreline, while in the distance, the Welsh hills. Looks like the voyage to Belfast could be a pleasant one.


Wirral Shoreline From Formby Point

Here’s a watercolour I painted a couple of years ago for my brother’s 40th birthday. This was before it was framed.


It was actually quite heavy and bulky once framed so it was carefully bubblewrapped and taken on board an EasyJet flight from Liverpool’s John Lennon International Airport for the short hop to the Isle of Man.

Hope you like it.