Thursday, September 24, 2015

Southern California Chronicles

I've had cause to visit Southern California again. The first time in five years or so. It really is a lovely place. That is if you can can ignore the gridlock, air pollution and the massive overcrowding that seems to have occurred since I was first a resident there in 1987. Nearly 30 years ago, bugger! I must have blinked and missed two-and-a-half decades. At least that's what it feels like. Anyway I also had the opportunity to reacquaint myself with film photography. If you are a Millennial reading this (which I doubt) you won't understand the mystique of such antiquated technology so you may want to look away now. But let me tell you that it's a marvellous medium. I recently acquired off eBay a little Rollei 35mm pocket camera. Before my trip I packed a couple of rolls of Ilford FP4 monochrome film, loaded the Rollei (something I haven't done for 15 year but it's just like riding a bike) and set off. The trip was great.  I somehow remembered to take photos without autofocus, autowind, auto-preview, auto review and everything else we take for granted, even on an iPhone camera. Below are a few snaps that I think capture the zeitgeist of SoCal. Sea, sand, surf, music, automotive culture and of course, girls. Remember the Beach Boys, California Dreamin' and all that? No? Never mind. Take a look at the snaps below and rejoice in their marvellous organic quality.  Just like vinyl recordings, film photography is a little fussy but hard to beat. Now if you'll excuse me I've got to wax my surfbord...

Surfing at Cardiff-by-the-Sea. The Pacific Ocean has a unique magical quality.
Motorcycle engineering art on historic Highway 101. The joy of motoring up the Pacific Coast  is hard to describe and not to be missed.
The "Lunacy" trio bang out some great twangy surf sounds at The Pannikin Coffee Shop.
Young woman texting in La Jolla. OK it's Liv -I'm sure she won't mind if I tell you.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Remembering the Battle of Britain

The climax of the Battle of Britain was fought on this day, 75 years ago. Below are a couple of photos as a tribute to "The Few".

Four Spitfires fly in formation through moody skies. RAF Duxford, September 2014

Spitfires on the ground and waiting for the "Scramble!" order. RAF Duxford, 2014

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me!

Well that's another year passed.  I'm celebrating in fine, age-appropriate, style. I'm now horribly old but grateful that I'm still here to enjoy these days. Oh and the blog is now 11 years old and by definition in its twelfth year. Who'da thought it?

Friday, September 11, 2015

Robert Douglas Eaton (1964-2001)

Remembering Robert Eaton, former chorister at St Paul's Cathedral, London, and my cousin. RIP!

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Cardiff: A Tale of Two Cities

The author in Southern California beach mode and getting ready to wax down his surfboard.

Cardiff-by-the-What??? Sea of course! Hopefully the scene makes it obvious. At the time of the photo I wasn't in possession of a decent selfie-taking camera and I couldn't get the composition exact. Never mind. The point is that in my youth (four undergraduate years, to be precise) I was a resident of Cardiff, UK.  Or to be even more precise, Cardiff, Wales.  In my middle years I spent the best part of a decade in San Diego county quite near the delightful coastal town of Cardiff (by-the-Sea). I love both places to bits but as you can probably guess they don't have much in common. Cardiff, South Glamorgan has great music, rugby, a world class university, a fantastic castle and centuries of tradition and culture. Cardiff, Southern California has surfing, fish tacos, the Pacific Ocean and an absence on the streets of eight-pint-puddles of regurgitated Brain's Dark mixed with egg vindaloo curry. Magic stuff!   Hwyl fawr am nawr!

The Best Coffee Shop in the Universe

There is no better place than the Pannikin to sip your coffee or vanilla tea au lait but don't be too ambitious about what you want to achieve with your laptop as there is no wi-fi.

The best coffee shop in the universe? Who knows! But the Pannikin in Leucadia, San Diego county, is certainly my favorite. Nestled between historic Highway 101 and the Pacific Ocean, this charmingly rustic place has been serving the good people of North County since 1968 and me since I discovered it 1987. Indeed I fully blame the place for my addiction to vanilla tea as it was here I got hooked sometime in the late Eighties. The only thing I don't recommend is the "Keith Richards Special". I sampled this fulminating brew of chocolate syrup and Lord-only-knows-how-many-shots-of-espresso once and turned into a gibbering speed freak for the rest of the day. Anyway I'm here visiting my offspring so I guess I'll have a double macchiato and a blueberry scone to start the day. Ciao!

PS I note that the establishment is owned by one Amanda Morrow. No close relation but the appreciation of good beverages is surely deep seated in our genes.

Friday, August 28, 2015

(I'm) Here, There and Everywhere

Alec Dankworth at work at the Love Supreme jazz festival, Glynde, Sussex, last month. Surely one of the finest bass pluckers of his generation.
With apologies to Lennon & McCartney, but one of the reasons for my paucity of posts here is that I'm spending more time over at Twitter, these days.  Its 140 character limit seems to suit my overly-burdened grey matter as well as my ever increasing interest in music photography/photoblogging. So until the next story, here's a nice pic of the excellent Alec Dankworth I snapped at the Love Supreme jazz festival last month.  Ci verdiamo!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Rock 'n' Roll Diaries: Curved Air

Back in 1972, British prog rock was at its peak. I was an undergraduate student and and heavily involved with my university's Rag and Entertainment Committees.  A perk of these duties was that I got to see many great bands and meet cool and interesting people. One of the standout groups that we hired for a Students' Union concert was Curved Air.  They were a genteel bunch of classically trained musicians who could rock like a hurricane  Now fast forward 43 years. The band is still going strong, albeit with a few personnel changes, and hasn't forgotten how to boogie. I was fortunate to find them performing in a church (of all places) in the heart of stock-broker belt Surrey a couple of months back. The years had not diminished them one bit and they gave a fantastic performance. Here's a few pics.

The band is fronted by founder member Sonja Kristina. That Washburn guitar has the best paint job ever.
Sonja's voice has matured and lost none of its crystalline clarity over the years.
Yehudi Menuhin school alum, Paul Sax, plays a demonic Zeta electric violin.
Chris Harris on bass. On this occasion he really held the band together as founder drummer Florian Pilkington-Miksa was taken ill and couldn't play.
A church seemed like an odd place for a gig but actually worked really well. 
Paul and Sonja look pleased and relieved to finish the set without mishap in the absence of  their drummer.