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.Â Once we returned home and recovered from that, we headed off to Windsor Castle.Â It is not only Europe's largest but is actually also the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world.
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 catching the train to Waterloo Station, London, and from there we'll explore by foot the historic Westminster area.Â Thus we don't want to be held up by 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 excommunicated scholars.
There it is, the district of Westminster, with Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and ...
To get there, we'll walk across Westminster Bridge and mosey about aÂ bit.Â We might even have a gander inside Westminster Abbey.
We'll just ease past this Mexican standoff in the heart of London and be on our way.
I thought we'd have a gander under the bridge first but there's nothing much to see except the River Thames.
But on the bridge there are the iconic, red double decker buses and Londoners trying to colour co-ordinate with them.Â You meet all types.
There's Jock McHaggis, blowing his bagsÂ as usual.Â And people are just walking by, pretending that they don't know him.
(Source: the highlander's lament as extracted in the Dead Sea Scrolls from the Roman Army's Ninth Legion admonishment to lowlanders - Walk on by any man wrestling an octopus.)
And here's Bob, in a blaze of blue but sporting a hint of red to show her collaboration with the buses when needs be.Â She's actually a sergeant-major, recently retired from the Royal Leprechaun Army.
The Eye sends out the ring-wraiths, searching in black chariots for the Precious - a one-way, first-class air ticket to anywhere in Australia.Â It is whispered that Bob has it hidden in her backpack.
Flee, flee you silly buggers!Â Look to your left - a black Nazgul in a chariot!
This is none other than Cleopatra's Needle - she must have been one hell of a big girl!
I doubt such a gift would be made nowadays.
An there you have it, a dusted history of Cleopatra's Needle to stitch things up.
You're a strange looking cat, buster!
(Source: The Egyptian Mummy Times, quoted by the Dead Sea Scrolls in Appendix 13, citing an article by Her Majesty, the Queen of Sheba - Cleopatra's damned cat gives me pins and needles.)
Yes, Bob, we'll ignore the signs and see where into the unknown this leads us.
G'day, Abe.Â Migrated to England, have we?
G'day, Nelson!Â I see you also did a sea change.
Ah, there we have it, folks - Westminster Abbey!Â I've heard that 18 English monarchs are buried here.Â And a swag of other famous people as well.
And that's the way in - just don't go in feet first.Â At least not for a while yet.
Apparently, the huge wreath and the hundreds upon hundreds of little flags are there to honour the British war dead.
Dressing up in blue seems suddenly appropriate.
Only the quick and the dead here.
(Source:Â spaghetti western high noon, extracted by the Dead Sea Scrolls from a forbidding Vatican Bull published by the Ninth Legion of the Roman Army, entitled, Love is Blue: Spartacus, All is Forgiven, Come Home.)
The Union Jack flapping in the breeze can add colour anywhere.Â
There's them and us, here near the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.Â Is Bob on the right side of the street?
I can almost hear John Lennon singing, Give Peace a Chance. Methinks, it's not only a tragedy but ironic that he was shot to death.
And all of this protest movement is watched by a familiar figure standing on a pillar of salt as a red bus rolls by.
Ah, it's not really getting late in time of day, only in daylight as the dusk falls.
The Precious is that way!Â That way, I tell you!
(Source: ring-wraith Hubble spy camera photograph leaked by Nazgul whistle blower to the Dead Sea Scrolls secret edition's Appendix 666, entitled, The Vegemite Ring of Power offers immoveable sanctuary to all Lord of the Swings defectors.)
All mine!Â All mine!
Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.
Lest we forget.
We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender ....
Damn it all, who said to take the bloody microphone; and why am I being fenced in?
Onward, onward!Â Must find the Precious! The Precious!
003 Dover & St Ives
004 Windsor Castle