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 beer ... oops, I mean 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.
Once we'd returned to Sunningdale and recovered from that coastal ordeal, 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-your-socks-off Abbey.Â A few days later we caught the train into London again to go see the bustling river Thames area.
Let's not live in the past.Â Today's trip, as with all of our expeditions, necessitates beginning as soon as it's light enough to head off and then 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 gibberish by me - it's absolute rubbish!Â We've got to get moving!Â We're catching the train to Waterloo Station yet again so that we can explore the vicinity of Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace.Â Just because they're there!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 - Trafalgar Square.Â What can be more English than this?Â Lots of things, actually, but still.
As you can see in just one fluid motion of the eyeballs.Â People coming and going and taxi cabs are everywhere.Â It never seems to throttle back in pace or diminish in volume.Â London moves!Â Not so Horatio Nelson perched high up on his column.
Hmmm .... not a Happy Holidays tree but an unabashed and joyous Christmas tree!Â Oh, hello, I wonder what's on that big square plaque at the base of Nelson's column?Â Come on, let's go check it out.
England expects every man will do his duty.Â Gosh, they're not exactly happy doing so!
Wow!Â Now those are what I call cats!Â
Thank God the flea bag has been tranquilized!Â What's that, Bob?Â Oh, it's only a statue.Â
Have they all gone nuts over here?Â Is there something in the water they drink?Â I don't know what on earth this means.
(Source: warning issued to centurions of the Ninth Legion by Roman Army surgeons not to drink unboiled water in Britannia as cited in the Dead Sea Scrolls medical appendix in an article, entitled: Untreated water may cause mermaids to throw off their clothes; and cause Legionnaires to desert and elope with such mermaids.)
The meaning here is clear.Â It's black and white.Â Let there be no argument about it.Â This is the National Gallery!
A colorful place for tourists with cameras to hang out.Â Got to have the camera - it's the symbol that shouts, I'm a bloody tourist and what the hell are you going to do about it!Â It's called having a positive attitude about standing out like a sore thumb.
Ships in glass bottles don't come much bigger than this.Â I'm a bit surprised that they didn't stuff Nelson in one for all to see.Â I mean to say, after he got the chop at Trafalgar, they stuffed him in a barrel of grog to preserve him on the journey home.
There's the church of St Martin in the fields.Â I love that name, though I don't really know why.Â But there's something about it ... the imagery and the way it rolls off the tongue.
Grief, this berserk woman throttling the dolphin keeps trying to hog the camera.Â Go on, woman, get out of it!Â Bugger off!
Madam, why not put on some clothes like that lovely lady above you conducting the Studio Tour?Â
Some fishy people just have no shame, is all I can say.
Let's leave that brazen hussy and trudge over there to have a bo-peep at St Martins.
Let us pray.
I wonder why the royal coat of arms is on St Martin's ceiling?
A cafe in the crypt, of all places.Â You don't have to be stiff to get in here.Â Angel cake, anyone?
Ah, the British nurse shot as a spy by the Germans on October 12th, 1915.Â A very high price to pay for king and country.
Off we go through the arches for the long slog to Buckingham Palace.
There goes a troop of horse guards, guarded by police ... so they don't desert, I suppose.Â
I reckon that over there on the side road is Saint James' Palace.Â Until now I didn't really believe that saints had palaces.
(Source: oblique reference to the property rights of saints, referred to by the Dead Sea Scrolls while quoting a Vatican Bull: It is not sinful to be rich or for benefactors to bequeath palaces to the Church.)
That just might be Westminster Abbey touring over St James Park.Â Â Strewth, the bugger's got a park named after him as well.Â He probably owned it.
Hmmm .... that must be the gate reserved for Leprechauns in blue to come and study the nearby locations map.
There it is, Buckingham Palace right under the looming rainstorm clouds.
But as we near something with wings made of gold, the threatening rain clouds have magically changed colour.
Now this is a pretty sight!Â We can read a lot into this, methinks.Â Hmmm .... but why is the golden angel giving the finger?Â Â And why is the old tart so grim?
(Source: a vision cited in the Dead Sea Scrolls, obscure Latin version, referring to a Victoriana royal bellyache: Why can't I be a bloody angel as well?Â I'm far better qualified than that stuck up gold digger of a Jezebel?)
Ah, at least there's one happy camper here.
Let's quick march to the changing of the palace guard.
The old sentry has been relieved .... and in public, too!
Here we find the colour of Duck Island Cottage safely fenced off from the ravages of the adoring public.
The cottage with its heart shaped pool does love you - as long as you keep on the other side of the fence.
And here we find the changing of the blues horse guard - on foot, while most of the nags have their little afternoon naps.
But not so here where we have mounted troopers as well!Â Just in case Liz or Phil happen by to give a royal wave.
Ah, it's time for their naps.
Here, Bob, also dressed in blue ... and this former sergeant-major in the Royal Leprechaun Army is smiling at the thought of giving some riding tips to the less experienced trooper.
(Source: photograph donated to the Dead Sea Scrolls by the Royal Leprechaun Army's special services directorate, with image accompanying a press release entitled: Our sergeant-major kicks horse guard butt.)
Surreal English & French
003 Dover & St Ives
004 Windsor Castle