Road Trip from Cabourg to Quiberon

Last leg of our road trip along the north and north western coast of France. From the English Channel at Cabourg to the shores of he Atlantic on the Quiberon Peninsula – from Normandy to Britanny, via the Mont St Michel.

Month St Michel

On the tourist road to Quiberon, another vital stopover on the tourist trail – the standing stones at Carnac – miles of menhirs dating from 5000BC and no one knows what they are there, other than to attract tourists.

Standing Stones at Carnac

The Road to the Stones

Stone-spotting tourists

And on to Quiberon – a popular family holiday resort at he end of the Quiberon peninsula – who says peninsula also says one road in and the same road out – huge traffic jams and a lengthy wait for the delights of Quiberon

Quiberon

Black and Whire Quiberon

On the beach in Quiberon

And from Quiberon we head home to an empty fridge, empty bank account, utility bills and mountains o lessons to prepare before heading back to school. We’ll be back next year.

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Heading For the Normandy Beaches

French holiday road trip from Calais to Cabourg.

We leave the UK from Dover; which is a town so unpleasant and sinister that it makes a great place to leave from – always better to start a journey from some from somewhere so awful that anywhere else is better – the somewhere else is Calais – on the opposite side of the English Channel – another miserable port town – in the news over the past few years for the vast number of migrants, in and around the town. From Algeria to Afghanistan, they come in their hundreds with one singular intention – to cross to the UK and make a life there. In between there lies the Channel – only 23 miles wide between Calais and Dover. The immigrants will try any way to get across, hopping on lorries, hiding in trailers, walking through the Channel Tunnel – any risk is worth the risk for the promise of a new life in Britain. Escaping war torn countries, or grinding poverty in the lands thy called home, they cross Europe, last stop Calais, waiting to take their chance in a chance crossing. For years, the migrants were huddled in an illegal camp knob as “The Jungle” – that was dismantled by the authorities and the migrants were “dispersed” to other parts of France, but many just headed back, intent on crossing to Britain. The migrants err around the town, along the highways into Calais or on the car parks of petrol station or lay bys on the roads into Calais. They have become such a familiar sight that what was once “shocking” is now commonplace.

On the road out of he port, mile upon mile of high wire mesh fences surmounted with rolls of  razor wire to stop the migrant eating into the port. The once sedate Channel Ferry port now looks like a prison camp.

From Calais, we head to our destination of Cabourg – a small family seaside resort on the Normandy coast, near Caen, very popular with Parisians. Welcome to Cabourg – revel in the nostalgia of what the seaside looked like a generation ago.. Along this stretch the Normandy coast is all slong, windswept,sandy beaches with iconic beach huts.

Beach huts in Cabourg

Cabourg beach front with a sepia finish

Sandcastles in Cabourg

Low tide in Cabourg

Once in Normandy – A pilgrimage to the Normandy landing beaches and a viitto the Bayeux Tapestry. Today it is raining, his is definitely not a beach day and every tourist in Normandy has headed to a museum. Lines of wet tourists snake their way around the entrance to the Arromanches museum. No pre booking by Internet, you just wait in the rain. At Bayeux, the queues are o great that they have had to close the museum.

Waiting in line in Arromanches

Rainy day for the beach

Rainy beach misery

On the Beach in Arromanches

Next leg from Cabourg to Lorient

Down to the Sea in Ships

Back from my brief summer road trip – a short tour of historic sights (sites) in Nprmandy and Brittany. Yes, rather than lolling round like a giant slug in the sun, this year we decided to do what real tourists do and be tourists (oh dear it is hard work being a tourist)

For your viewing pleasure, in this first flurry of holiday snaps – a few very unseaworthy boats. On holiday, I like nothing more than a stroll around a port, and I have a curious passion for sailing craft – the more unseaworthy the better. Snapped on this holiday (and a few previous ones) a selection of gloriously precarious and even dangerous vessels.

 

Blue sailing boat – Lorient August 2017

 

In Need of TLC – Lorient
August 2017

TLC 2

Checking up at low tide.
Lorient August 2017

 

Boat or submarine?

Yes it floats
Ile d’Yeu 2013

And now a few assorted small craft. No titles on these

Here’s one from Scotland circa 2011. Redolent of neglect. You wouldn’t treat a person like this. Why do this to a boat? Yes, boats have souls too.

Lobster fishing in Scotland July 2013

And now something a little more seaworthy

In full sail – old Tuna fishing boat

Red sails – but not at sunset

Wishing you all plain sailing

Semi Circular

Driving cross London – the A406 – or North Circular Road – a three lane 1960’s built highway that cuts a swathe through the north east London suburbs. Residential streets crooned off from the road by walls or wire fences. This is the worst of suburbia – mad urbanization meets neglect. This for me is like some kind of parallel world. I wouldn’t believe that people could live in places like this, unless I saw it with my own eyes – we are not totally detached, jet semi detached – mile upon mile of that unique “English” housing format, built everywhere by private developers between the two World wars.

After the slaughter of the Western Front, the returning soldiers needed “Homes fit for Heroes”, built on they premise that an Engishmans’ Home is his castle – the result – small “cottage like” three bedroom houses. A unique and national but non imposed housing format – I’m not even sure that Soviet Russia could have achieved such uniformity.

A few photos of semi detached house on the North Circular Road, hence “Semi Circular”

 

 

Small Day Hot Town Blues- No Road Trip this Summer

“I got those small day hot town blues baby …”

Yep, temperatures are starting to soar again on this, another weekend for the great French summer getaway. All routes to the sea have been at gridlock all day, with police and the national road authorities describing driven conditions as “black” – meaning just don’t leave home today if you want to get anywhere soon.

Small town, hot day, I am reminded of all those songs about spending a long hot summer “kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town,” – My dreary small town favorites – that Tom Petty classic “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” – slow summer in a hermetic tupperware kind of town. For urban boredom – the Jam song “That’s Entertainment.”

Your soul i screaming for adventure but your bank balance is telling you to stay home. No titles on these, just your judgement. “Small Day, Hot Town.” or “No Road Trip this Summer” – it is 35°c and all you want is shade or a week by the sea. You need release.

You need to get away “Autres destimations” – written on every mail box in France – that slot where you post letters to other places where you want to be. Those places that others send you postcards from, wishing that you were there, and you wish you were

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No road trip this summer. Your car ain’t fit for tripping.

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If you can’t afford a garage, you’ve just gotta keep the car in the garage.

No money to get away, you gotta look closer to home for your place in or out of the sun.

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Walking Paris in the Walker Evans spirit

It all started in the summer of 2003, with breakfast on a cross Channel ferry, plying that grey murky slim stretch of water between Dover and Calais. A full English breakfast with sausages, beans, french fries and … a whopping plateful of food that I was never going to finish – but before I bin it – just a quick photo. I had just acquired my first decent digital camera, so I tok a photo of my unfinished masterpiece (below) Hey, I’ve paid for this, I’m damn well gonna take a photo. And that was the day that I just started to take photos of “stuff”.

So for fifteen years or so, I’ve been taking photos of “crap”, or the kind of photos that others might qualify as “crap”, but recently seem to have become an art form. People have always asked me “why are you taking a photo of that?” as I point my camera towards a bin and photograph the anarchic accumulation of rubbish – I don’t see it as rubbish, this is a random, one off sculpture of 21st century living – and I am taking a photo of this because no one else will – and such has always been my photographic credo. Rubbish, people, places or just moments that no one else will bother to capture. I was doing this long before discovered the likes of  Martin Parr, Raymond Depardon, Diane Arbus, Al Wei Wei – These are my favorite photographers, though I won’t say that they influenced me, I just discovered them as I took more interest in photography, though I am in no way a photographer.

Thursday July 13th; Went up t Paris to see the David Hockney retrospective that’s jet transferred to the Pompidou Centre from the Tate Modern in London.

I’ve always liked Hockney’s very photographic and vibrant style – bright flours, easy subjects – I don’t ned to look for an inner meaning, the work just speaks for itself. After sauntering through Mr Hockney’s “relaxed” universe, I stumble into another exhibition on the work of an American photographer Walker Evans.

How can I describe this – it is revelation, confirmation – over 300 prints of … well the sort of stuff I take shop fronts, abandoned buildings, window displays – using the camera to encapsulate all those people, places, objects and moments that no one else ill take because – “why are you taking a photo of that????”

In a kind of Walker Evans spirit, I wanted to show you the results of a day’s “snapping” in Paris. Seeing Mr Evan’s work has finally enabled me to put a name on my style of photography – vernacular photography.

I don’t know why, I’ve always loved taking photos from cars or trains to capture those landscapes we cross to get somewhere else – those dead parts of France we endure to get to the beach, or those flat, endless agricultural lands the train crosses on the way to Paris. Here are a few clichés of my journey. Notice I tend to use quite a few filters to make places just a slight more bleaker than they actually are. When I had my old reflex camera, I tried mucking around with filters but just gave it up as a fiddly gimmick.

Waiting on a train

Waiting on a train II

Grey Sky Platform

Goods Wagons

I’m using an Olympus Stylus 1 as my main camera nowadays – lightweight and bristling with gimmicks – it’s a great little piece of gear, far better to the than the huge bulky old Nikon I used to have – you know, the massive Nikon with the 28 to 105 lens that everyone seems to have nowadays – for sure a great camera, but to heavy to carry round and deploy.

So, welcome to Paris

Here is Paris minus the Eiffel Tower and then two Eiffel Towers for the price of one – I’m playing round with an overlay feature on the camera.

This was the day that Donald Trump was in town and this was also the week that Paris welcomed the International Olympic Committee and “showcase” the city for ts 2024 Olympic bid. The lace has been cleaned up, and the homeless removed – on Monday 11th July there was a huge police operation to shut down and clear out camps of illegal immigrants along the Seine and in the north east of the city where the Olympic park is set to be built.

First off, one sleeping bag, all that remains of an illegal camp on the banks of the Seine.

Not far, just down river, the old Salvation Army barge, anchored on the same spot since 1909, now closed down and just a few yards from a huge barge converted into a luxury hotel

Not all illegal camps were cleared, occasional tents can be seen here and there, this one is in the shadow of a church in the city’s St Paul area – right in the heart of downtown Paris

Playing their part in the clean up, are the city’s roadsweepers. Not happy with the resolution on this photo, I took it with the camera app on my old Samsung mobile.

No trip to Paris is complete without photographing tourists or “Bloody Tourists” as local and traders curse, all the while taking their money or renting out their apartments to the tourist hordes on Air B’n’B – so rife is the Air B’n’B trade that the Paris city authorities are taking steps to regulate it. arms is beginning to suffer the fates of Air B’n’B twins like Venice, Barcelona and even Edinburgh – property promoters buying up empty flats purely for tourist rental, thus “gobbling up” the already limited stock of housing for the locals and ensuring that the downtown of many cities are now just tourist areas.

Bloody Tourists – we are, we have been and we will be one day. From the moment we leave home, everyone become’s someone else’s tourist. First there came the explorers, discovering new lands. Next came the settlers to exploit the lands, wiping out the locals and their traditions, and now here are the tourists who come to see those small vestige of what is left behind when something commonplace has become a rarity and thus “a tourist attraction” – I am just wondering if there are any Parisians living in the centre of Paris.

Ok, bloody tourists. Here we have some “orientals”, grouping together and then doing a Beatles-style crossing the the Rue de Rivoli.

Here are a few more without comment for your perusal

Thanks for reading the vernacular post

On the Run in the Edgelands

The Edgelands – that parallel peripheral sub world that marks the transition from civilization to nowhere, from riches to poverty from being to existing.

Everything starts in nowhere places. Those places you thought you’d never be. On your own in those places that you would never choose to go. Those cheap hotels on the edge of the edgelends – lost and forlorn in the shadow of the high rise wasteland and the deserted shopping mall – long neon lit corridors of shuttered up shops and gangs of kids wandering aimlessly in errant boredom. In the shopping mall there is the restaurant – all ersatz, mid-west, plastic rustic burger in a basket, dirty round the edges with unkempt staff wearing geasy uniforms and nochalantly chewing gum in «don’t give a fuck» faces. They slap the food on your plate like they are slapping you round the face and we eat here because it is affordable and feels almost like a real meal. I got tough stringy steak, luke warm overcooked chips and a slice of anemic apple pie for my limp apologetic desert. «Try our delicious steak platter – a thick juicy steak, cooked just the way you like it, served with home made chipped potatoes» and for desert « a traditional home made apple pie served with whipped cream.» The waitress plonks down my anemic apple pie with leaden indifference. I ask her for the cream. She takes an aerosol from a pocket in her geasy apron and splurts «cream» everywhere. «Home made» or made in a place that someone calls home. Away from home you notice just how many people either, don’t have a home, or don’t have a home worth going to. In this ersatz parallel world you also notice just how many people are on the road, working away from home to pay for that home they never see. I call it the «survival circuit», the road trip from hell – plumbers, builders, labourers, criss crossing the land in their white vans, driving at break neck speeds, from job-to-job, from town-to-town,, mobile phones pressed permanently to their ears, that they might just need surgery to get them removed. Miss a call, miss a contract, miss a job, miss a mortgage payment and miss any semblance of a normal family life as you sacrifice any normal life to pay for a dream. And the wandering working classes are here in this grubby, formica farmhouse kitchen – this seedy shopping centre eatery where lost souls seek affordable nourisment – this down-at-heal diner where families from the neighbouring high rise have come for a «family treat» – a meal out in a restaurant. Nothing shocks me now because over the years, I have become used to these places. I am here in a spirit of tastless utilitarian indifference. This is one of those weeks when I am forced to work away from home and home has to be a cheap functional hotel in the insipid mediocrity of the edgelands – that forgotten, hidden, parallel world on the periphery of reality, but maybe this is reality and I spend my life living in a bubble. I was thinking how difficult it must be to run away home, because you end up in places like this that make you want to run away even more. When I stay here, I begin to feel how hard it must be to be «on the run.»

Following photos taken in France – Bourges, Toulouse and Orleans.

Hotel

Cigarette Break

Drive in skyline

KFC Dawn

Giraffe

The Middle of Nowhere

Saturday shopping

Sunset shopping

Bag man

Pushing cross the car park

Way in Way out

Trolleys

Welcome