From 2009 until now, I have posted many series of wide-ranging photo essays. Â A total of 72 of these essays - surreal and otherwise, and consisting of just over 1,000 photographs - were devoted to Western Australia.Â Another 58 photo photo essays - surreal and non-surreal, and comprised of some 1,800 images - focused on America.Â
I reckon that for a while people have seen enough of my take on slivers of experiencing life in Western Australia and North America.Â As a complete change, let's bravely have a bit of a gander at what it's like to engage in what I've loosely termed as the Surreal English & French experience.
It is a surreal look in that every one of the 634 photographs in this series has been altered. This has been mainly accomplished by using Picasa but sometimes by also using Microsoft Paint as well to manipulate the images.Â Not a single image is as the eye would ordinarily see it.
We are taking each country in turn, beginning with England.Â And we kicked it all off by using shanks ponies and train to travel to London.Â It was a kind of reconnoiter, if you like ... very much a case of tentatively dipping our big toe into the murky waters of the English experience.
Emboldened by surviving unscathed our first excursion from our home base at Sunningdale, we then journeyed by car along back roads and country lanes to see what the heck is within a couple of hours reach of home.Â We got to see lots of snug pubs with pints and pints of frothing cold bee ... hot cocoa in hamlets and towns that soon floated by in a hot chocolate haze but I kind of remember Henley-on-something-or-other, Oxford University's bicycle racks and Guildford in vain search of Charles Dickens.Â In the following expedition we ranged much farther, driving to Dover and catching a train to St Ives in Cornwall.Â Just because, really.Â We had no plan in mind other than to go look.
As with all of our previous expeditions and those still to come, today's trip necessitates beginning as soon as it's light enough to make a start and eventually returning home in the dark ... the daylight hours here in late-autumn and winter are quite short.Â And the light for good photography is fast fleeting and very brief.Â It can be said that at this time of year, England is a very dark experience.
Enough of this absolute rubbish my me!Â We have to get moving!Â We're driving to Windsor Castle, which is not only Europe's largest but is also the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world; and ten monarchs are buried here.Â So, you don't want to be held up listening to yet more of my dreadful drivel.Â Mercifully, I will keep my inane commentary very short.Â However, I will scrupulously cite any references, meticulously following the embalmed encyclicals in the Dead Sea Scrolls Style Manual revelations for inept scholars.
A forlorn Leprechaun stands parked ... waiting in hope outside a lonely acre of bachelors who might want to buy the book rather than borrow it.
(Source: image extracted from the under the counter, plain paper bag edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls shock sealed section of, The Ladies Handbook for Groping Big Gentlemen.)
Did the lady peering out of the upstairs window walk a crooked mile to get to this crooked house or was she tossed out of the carpenter's arms like an old tea towel?
Could this be an elderly terrorist standing on a pedestal to get a better view of where to toss the bomb in one hand and the stick of dynamite in the other?Â Of course not!Â It's Queen Victoria, that imperial party animal all set to rock our world with Rule Britannia.Â
Wow, the old girl made sure there was no drought in England!
There's the castle!Â Hmmm .... looks like the signpost silently points to where those dressed in black can stand and puff away on a ciggy.Â The British are thoughtfully unobtrusive, like that.
Ah, the Sir Walter Raleigh heavy metal waltz.
Here they come by the pram load.Â There's no holding visitors back.Â Except with posters on the wall by the gate and with scowling gatekeepers.
(Source: the Ninth Legion's classified advice to centurions in the Dead Sea Scrolls as cited in the Ninth Addendum - Life After 20 Years in the Legions: retirement from the Roman Army and subsequent employment as ecstatic castle gatekeepers.)
My, he doesn't look a happy camper ... probably because they took away his gun and bearskin hat.
Right, let's step out and discover the black and white nitty gritty of it all.
Of course, the nearer we get the more colorful it all becomes.
The old claustrophobia must be playing up ... the walls are leaning in.
Hmmm ... this seems ominous.Â And what's that plaque above the gate?
Oh, it's Saint George skewering that poor dragon.Â The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals should do something about that sadistic bastard!
There's the Leprechaun who seems to be stalking me.Â Looks like she's hiding from Saint George.
Looks like this dude knows all about St George and is pointing out a safer route.
When you're elderly and hard of hearing, the colour just drains away into sepia.
Wow!Â Now here's something to blow your socks off.Â Phil and Liz's veggie patch.
(Source: Wikileaks whistle blower's photograph leaked to the Dead Sea Scrolls unabridged edition of its Gardener's Almanac, featuring, Green Thumbs for Winter.)
Hmmm .... some Aussies must have come here in the dead of night and planted that orange, Western Australian Christmas tree.
(Source: an obscure reference extracted from the Dead Sea Scrolls unannotated appendix, entitled, The Vegemite Ring of Power and the Whinging Pommy Bastards.)
When one is shut outside from everything, life can seem black and white.
G'day, mate!Â Don't you feel stupid under that bloody big hat?
No wonder he didn't reply!Â The poor bugger is dead on his feet and fast asleep.
He's not exactly the life of the party.Â Probably because Queen Mary hasn't invited him in to come play with the dolls.
I wonder if this is a Dunkin' Doughnuts?
Oh, blast!Â They don't sell refreshing pints of frothing hot cocoa.
And here Windsor continues to sprawl ahead of us, with St George's Chapel on the right, where good folks can pray for the soul of that blood thirsty bastard.
I'll tell Bob the Leprechaun to continue snapping away out here in the grounds.Â No photography is allowed anywhere inside the castle buildings.Â Â Except in the gift shop, where there's really nothing worth snapping up.
And there we have St George's Chapel where Henry VIII is buried alongside one of his six queens, Jane Seymour.Â Charles I is also buried in there.Â Good old Charlie was King of England, Scotland and Ireland from 1625 until they chopped off his head in 1649, after he lost the English Civil War. But in 1660 Charles was canonized by the Church of England as Saint Charles Stuart and King Charles the Martyr when they gave him a camera - though that was hardly worth losing his head over.
(Source: shock revelations made in closed session to the Congressional Committee into Un-American Affairs, leaked from the Dead Sea Scrolls brown paper bag edition's lead chapter - Â The Square Office of the White House Relocation to St George's Chapel.)
If we peer upwards we see turned to stone various of these historic characters, though one with a missing head is absent from the line up.
But enough of historic blood and gore.Â The little girl turning is walking on air just by being here.Â Let the good times roll.
All dressed up in blue for a photo opportunity.
Eyes right for such a lovely smile.
They're ignoring you, girl.Â Project that smile!
Surreal English & French
003 Dover & St Ives