Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Tuning the wireless.

Do you remember tuning the wireless set to listen to your favourite station?

Radio Luxembourg on a Sunday night? Trying to hear the top twenty before the signal faded out?

Or laughing at the outrageous propaganda from Radio Moscow on the whistling short wave?

Here are some radio dials I photographed in the Museo Rialia in Portugalete, Spain where they have a temporary exhibition on communications.

A bit of nostalgia does not hurt from time to time. (Sigh.)

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Frank Gehry's Balls?

I have just visited the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao again, this time to see the Andy Warhol Shadows and the exhibition on the Paris School 1900-1945. 

Having satiated myself with Picasso, Kandinsky, Delaunay, Braque et al, I came outside and saw this sculpture.

Frank Gehry was the architect who designed the museum. Are these his balls?
The little black stick in the middle of every sphere is a reflection of me taking the photograph.

At last, my genius is reflected in a work of art.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Sheep on the Somport

Went up and down the Col du Somport three times in one day. 

(Don't ask why, you really don't want to know.)

Met these sheep on their way down.

They looked quite soggy.

Friday, 16 September 2016

The Yellow Train at Bourg Madame.

I had to go to the railway station at Bourg Madame in the Pyrenees in order to check some facts and quite by chance I managed to time my visit to coincide with one of the two daily departures of the Train Jaune.

This electric train runs on a single line, about forty miles long, from Villefranche, down on the Mediterranean side of the Pyrenees, up into the mountains to within strolling distance of the Spanish frontier.
The Train Jaune at Bourg Madame station on its way down to Villefranche,
14 September 2016.
The line was opened in the early twentieth century as a metre-gauge line and was designed to be powered by hydro electricity from the various dams and power stations built along the line. It is the only metre-gauge line run by the French national railway company, SNCF.

If you get the chance, take a ride. The scenery is delightful.

The only way to enjoy Andorra.

This is the only way to enjoy Andorra – put your head down and eat grass.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Kerbstones in Prades.

How about this for an attractive line of kerb stones?

Seen at our picnic spot near the swimming pool in Prades.

They knock the rather bland concrete lozenges used far and wide in the UK into a cocked hat.

Strange creature in Ceret.

How would you like to wake up and see this in your bedroom?

It was on the wall above our door in the Hotel Vidal in Ceret.

Upon closer inspection, it reveals itself to be a plastic oil container, cleverly altered. Some artists have terrific imaginations, don't they?

Some hotel guests have terrific nightmares...

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Stegasaurus on the roof.

We stopped for a coffee and returning to the car found a stegasaurus on the roof.

Sommières – tiny streets and Lawrence Durrell

Sommières town gate.
If you cross the old bridge over the river and enter the town by the main gate you will see a plaque on the wall directing you to the Espace Lawrence Durrell.

Being a complete ignoramus I did not know that the writer Lawrence Durrell had spent the last years of his life in the town.

In fact, I have never read any of his works and often confused him with his brother, Gerald, whose books I read as a child.

Further down the street is a secondhand bookshop, open Monday to Saturday, 10.00 - 17.00. 

But don't take your car into the town unless you know exactly what you are doing.

You could easily be faced with streets like this:

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Sommières voie verte.

Sommières railway station as it was.
We are staying in a hotel which is the former railway station of Sommières. The voie verte starts at the gate and runs for about 22 km in an easterly direction.

I am not particularly fond of the countryside through which it passes. At this time of the year the Languedoc is brown earth, brown grass and brown rock. 

Langlade railway station on the voie verte.
The most green to be seen is the paint on the tarmac where the cycle track crosses a road.

But the ride was enjoyable despite this and the temperature in the low forties centigrade.

It has been superbly maintained by the local authority of the Gard département. 

Voie verte at Sommières.

They were resurfacing parts of it with a dedication unseen in the UK. The surface was being skimmed off, the sublayer scarified and then tarmac laid and rolled. To protect the edges the verges were being raised with topsoil.

If we did this to our roads instead of throwing a handful of chippings onto a smear of tar then perhaps they would last longer.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Not the Fréjus Railway Tunnel.

The railway tunnel under the Col de Fréjus was built in the years 1860-1870. It was a magnificent achievement made possible by the invention of a tunnel boring machine by an Englishman.
This is NOT the Fréjus railway tunnel. It is not a tunnel at all.
It now carries the fast international trains between Italy and France. Soon after  the original tunnel was built it was extended by over a kilometre to avoid some persistent rock and mud falls.

As we drove up the old road out of the frontier town of Modane, we came across this magnificent monument. I assumed it to be the first entrance to the railway tunnel but when I looked at its alignment I could not see how the trains could possibly have turned on so tight a curve as would have been necessary to avoid their plunging off the side of the mountain.

Further research revealed that this is not a tunnel at all and never had railway tracks in it. It is a museum installation which is a complete fabrication. I had to ask somebody in the town for this information for the museum is only open in July and August.

Chalons sur Saone

We passed through Chalons sur Saone, known for being one of the authorised crossing points of the Demarcation Line which divided unoccupied France from occupied France in World War 2.

The historic trace of the line itself was marked only by a rather insignificant road sign on the road bridge over the river.

However, in the town I saw this building about which I can tell you nothing.

I know not its history or its purpose but this did not stop me from gazing in awe at the stone decoration on its facade.

If you know anything about the building, do enlighten me.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Do you remember the Peugeot 204 Coupé?

We stopped at a services point on the motorway near Belfort and this is what was on display inside the building.

A Peugeot 204 coupé. What a pretty little car it was. I think the bodywork was by Pininfarina if I remember correctly.

It was the first mass production Peugeot to have front wheel drive and a transverse engine and they built 143,000 of them at their factory at Sochaux near Belfort.

I wonder what happened to them all.