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.Â We put our feet up for a day or two and then caught the train to Waterloo Station to go exploring the Westminster area, including the knock-you-socks-off Abbey.Â That was then.
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 fiddle-faddle by me - it's absolute rubbish!Â We've got to get moving!Â We're catching the train to Waterloo Station again so that we can explore some of the river Thames area.Â Just because!Â So no more of my dreadful drivel.Â And, mercifully, I'll keep my inane commentary very short.Â But I will scrupulously cite any references, meticulously following the mummified encyclicals in the Dead Sea Scrolls Style Manual embalming procedures for defrocked scholars.
Here we are almost alongside the Thames, looking away from the river down this so very London side street ... with two so very English taxis.
Oh, dear, the poor things are just empty shells of what they used to be.
Ah, there's something reassuring about being riverside by Big Ben.
Ahhhhh, boxing in the park ... what more could a girl ask for?
There it is, the never sleeping eye searching relentlessly for the Precious - a first class, one-way air ticket to anywhere in Australia.Â No wonder it searches unceasingly.
(Source: ring-wraith photograph on wanted poster offering reward for the Precious,Â appearing as an Nazgul advertisement in the Dead Sea Scrolls British edition's Addendum 666, entitled, Name Your Own Price for the Return of the Stolen Precious - No Questions Asked.)
Is it late in the afternoon as we look at what seems to be an evening sky?Â Of course not!Â This is London in the non-tourist season.
If necessary, Bob, a sergeant-major retired from the Royal Leprechaun Army, will use her superior route marching skills to lead us by candlelight to yonder Tower Bridge.
And there it is in what seems to be black and white, tinged by sepia or candlelight.
We were momentarily colour blind to electric blue ... perhaps overcome by the possibilities on the electrifying banner draped from the fence - enticing us to come ice skate at the Tower of London.Â Â As one does when there is nothing better to do.
Yes, there you have it, folks.Â As unbelievable as it might seem, none other than Formerly stood here at this Temple Bar memorial that marks the entrance to the City of London.Â It is so unbelievable that a Briton will need to explain it.Â While waiting for John Bull we can admire the electric blue paint work of the dumpster truck.
And there looming in the distance is Saint Paul's Cathedral.Â It was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, a bird lover who saw that the pigeons needed somewhere to sit and watch the world go round.Â Sir Christopher, a modest man who was buried in the cathedral's crypt, has on his tomb a Latin inscription which means: Reader, if you seek my monument, look around.Â He overlooked to mention where Reader should look.
(Source: Â a forgotten footnote buried in the Dead Sea Scrolls forgettable 13th Index, obliquely referencing, The Bird Lover's Guide to Weary Pigeons in the Prime Mission Statement issued by the Roman Army to the Ninth Legion entitled, Teach the Ignorant Britannica Barbarians Latin and Modesty in All Things.)
What the hell?
Oh, it's a memorial to London's brave firefighters who gave their lives during WWII, especially in the Blitz.Â Winston Churchill dubbed them, The Heroes With Grimy Faces.
(Source: although not mentioned in the current Dead Sea Scrolls, future scrolls will undoubtedly rectify this oversight, with this lamely ensured by a memo to the still to be appointed editor of the first new scroll: To Whomsoever God appoints, don't blitz the Blitz; and remember the fighting firefighters.)
The Surgeon General warns that standing too close to Saint Paul's when looking up is bad for the neck and may also result in inhaling excessive carbon monoxide.
Do not do this at home.
(Source: overheard comment by the Surgeon General to an anonymous wren, while sitting on the upper level of a red double decker bus passing by Saint Paul's Cathedral.Â It should be noted that the Surgeon General denied inhaling from the cigarette pressed experimentally to his lips for research purposes.)
Hello, hello, hello!Â What have we here but a tent city.
That's saying it!Â No pussy footing or equivocation here!
Hmmm .... now what have we here, almost on the very steps of St Paul's?Â I see a Monopoly board, a coffin, igloo tents, a message from beyond the grave by some dude called Rousseau and two smilingÂ inhabitants from the igloo city coming towards me to end wealth. Â I wish I had some to end.
But, but I don't want to kill and eat plants.Â I love plants ... and I also enjoy bacon and eggs.Â Â
I wonder if the spear fence is meant to keep them in or us out?
Well, it's Queen Anne standing up there with the club, while below three giants sit suitably cowed.Â And there is a dude taking photos of the black and white placards saying, No Alcohol No Drugs on site.Â Â It's all very strange the happenings in London.
God!Â The bloody Queen is a terrorist.Â She's holding a bomb as well as a stick of dynamite.Â I think it's prudent for us to make ourselves scarce.
I'm not sure if this was a wise choice in places to visit next.Â But here we are at the Tower of London complex straddling Tower Hill.Â To the extreme left and ending the lawn area is an ice skating rink.Â I don't know why.
Here we have part of the castle, which is the greatest Norman castle in the kingdom.
Up there on the battlements to the extreme left is an archer with drawn bow.Â Don't pull out the cell phone and dial the emergency number to report this bastard terrorist.Â It is a sculpture.Â As is a second one I spotted on the battlements.Â
Here three lions watch the tourists passing by to perhaps enter the tower for a not-so-cheap thrill.Â
Don't whip out the cell phone to call the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to report this dreadful sight of mangy, half-staved lions.Â They're figurines.
But do whip out the cell phone and take a photo or three of this guy and other locals feeding the seagulls and pigeons.Â Be aware that you might get an unwanted, white deposit splat on your head.
(Source: the request for 5,000 sets of white helmets and matching cloaks by the Ninth Legion to the Roman Army's Quarter Master General, quoted in the Dead Sea Scrolls under the heading: We're sick of scrubbing off pigeon shit!)
Here they go, into the Tower for a look see.Â In times past, there were folks who most definitely did not want to enter here ... to possibly get the chop later on.
Wowee!Â Now this is what I call a stomping, new age fun dragon.Â And to hell with that party pooper, Saint George.
And there's the damned eye, still searching for the Precious.Â I think that winging bird up on high might have reported Bob ... she looks suspiciously like a still active member of the Royal Leprechaun Army special forces.
Ah, I've just heard on Bob's cell phone that something spectacular and almost unbelievable is about to take place here.
Yes, yes, here we have it folks, a world scoop!Â Remember that you saw it first, here.Â The Vegemite Ring of Power has struck - it is using this steamship to irresistibly suck the Eye, piece by piece, into the smokestack and thence into the raging boiler.Â Â The Eye is finished, London is free at last and England is saved!
And the Precious is ours, Bob.Â I'll toss you for it.Â Heads I win, tails you lose.
(Source: an anonymous magical poet from Oz who generously donated this scoop photograph to the Dead Sea Scrolls special Ring of Power edition's front page lead article: Vegemite saves the world.)
With England saved, the good times begin to roll again, here on the banks of the Thames.Â It's party time!
Even as the last of the Eye crumbles into the nothingness from which it came, people pose to have their photos taken in this brand new vista.
Even Her Majesty comes out, applauding the Vegemite Ring of Power and offering to buy the Precious - to use it to send Phil on a fact-finding, relocation mission.
Surreal English & French
003 Dover & St Ives
004 Windsor Castle