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January 2019

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For visitors, this is the place to descend upon or meet your friends.  It is a familiar place with much activity throughout the day and night.   For Londoners, Piccadilly Circus is an area to avoid.  

The layout of Piccadilly has changed drastically over the years as the city becomes more pedestrian friendly.   The vibe remains as vibrant as ever between the flashing lights of the advert board, never-ending traffic and loud voices between bits of laughter.  

After a serious look and a quick think, there isn’t much in Piccadilly Circus except a statue that was once a fountain and a massive advertising sign.   Piccadilly is the gateway to Theatreland and Soho.  It is also is a gate to Leicester Square.  There really isn’t much more to the area except Piccadilly Circus is a point where hoards of tourists congregate.  I would suggest that today it is a grand meeting point, an overcrowded place to have your lunch and appear in a hundred photographs all at once. A place to revel in the excitement and bewilderment of tourists just passing through on their way to somewhere, anywhere else.

Often I will be out with my camera into the wee hours or awake in the wee hours.  During these way off-peak hours, Piccadilly Circus is deserted.  Seeing a moving car is even rare.  The lights still flash as if to entertain the crowds though there is no one to be entertained.  This is a definite must stop if you looking for a good place to photograph London.

It is the quiet time’s everything seems a bit surreal in London.  To have one of the most populated cities in the world all to myself is odd, but odd in a good way.  It’s during this time my love for London grows beyond measure.

Did you know the Statue of Eros really isn’t Eros?  The official name of the centrepiece is the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, named after the great Victorian philanthropist Anthony Ashley Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury. It was financed by public subscription, which is clearly a testament to his charitable work.  The Statue of Eros isn’t actually a Statue of Eros. As mentioned, the Earl of Shaftesbury was more of a humanitarian than a lothario so in that context it may not surprise you to know that the statue represents Anteros, the god of selfless and mature love, not his twin brother Eros, the god of frivolous and romantic love. It was the first London statue to be cast in aluminium.  And there you have it – an interesting fact about Piccadilly Circus you probably didn’t know.

Included below are a few of my favourite Piccadilly Circus images ::

LONDON AT NIGHT

Destination : London

Let’s Practice Color

Colour plays a vitally important role in the world in which we live.  Colour can sway thinking, change actions, and cause reactions.  It can irritate or soothe your eyes, raise your blood pressure or suppress your appetite. When used in the right ways, colour can even save on energy consumption.

As a powerful form of communication, colour is irreplaceable. Red means “stop” and green means “go.” Traffic lights send this universal message. Likewise, the colours used for a product, website, business card, or logo cause powerful reactions.  Colour Matters.

What is your favourite colour?

Choose your favourite or any colour then take three photos featuring one dominant hue.

Make your subject stand out by using a colour.

Also, to make this exercise a bit more challenging, interpret these three words in a photograph:

Agitation- state of anxiety or nervous excitement.

Desire- a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen.

Elation- great happiness and exhilaration.

Take your time and give careful thought to each of your photos, colours and words.  Before you take each photo visualise what you want your image to then capture your image.

When you’ve finished the Color Photo Composition Challenge, share your images with me at Twitter.  My Twitter home is @MarkPaulda

This post is when and where I talk about laundry.
If it weren’t for my laundry and walking to Pimlico Launderette, I wouldn’t have a reason to walk along Ebury Bridge Road even though it’s near where I live.

The first time I viewed this scene I stopped and watched in awe.  No doubt my eyes opened super wide.  There she was.  A derelict Battersea Power Station standing in the background of a myriad of rail tracks.  The constant flow of trains arriving at and from Victoria Station simply add to a classic London scene.  The trains are modern but this scene could easily be one from the early 1900’s.  

I rushed to the launderette, dropped off my laundry, then rushed to Ebury Street to pick up my camera before returning to this very spot.  I didn’t want to budge away from it.  

Both trains and Battersea Power Station are fascinations of mine.  Now the two married and I couldn’t get enough.  From that day until the major redevelopment of the Battersea began this was my favourite view with my camera.  No telling how many photographs of mine there are from this very spot – both day and night.  There’s no doubt there are hundreds of images from this view at Ebury Bridge Road.

Today, Battersea Power Station and Nine Elms are undergoing a major, major facelift.  I’m pleased to know the power station will remain for many years to come.  For me, it’s a symbol of London and her early might and a time none of us should forget.  The development around the area I’m not too fond of.  What’s happening is very much “out with the old and in with the new” sweeping away locals and bringing in homogeny.  This sort of gentrification is taking place all over London and I’m unsure this is a good thing in the long run.  For a world that is preaching diversity, we are being served a homogenous life.

To arrive at this destination, travel to Victoria Station Underground.  When you leave the station, make your way to Buckingham Palace Road, which is on the north side.  When you are on Buckingham Palace Road walk westward (away from Buckingham Palace).  Victoria Station will be direct to your left.  There are three cross streets you will encounter.  At the third cross street (and traffic light) turn left.  Cross over using the pedestrian crossing which is at the traffic light.  After you’ve crossed the road, keep left and walk a few hundred yards – you’ll be walking up a slight hill.  You’ll soon reach the spot where you will have the view in the video.  I’ve also included a couple of photographs that include the view from Ebury Bridge Road.  The photos are below.

Map Showing Ebury Bridge Road Location

Destination:  London

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Sri Lanka is an interesting travel destination.  The highlight for me in Sri Lanka was staying in an isolated jungle resort and the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple in Colombo.  

I must admit my usual go with the flow laissez-faire attitude did not serve me well in Sri Lanka.  The island is far larger than one would expect and the winding roads don’t allow for quick day trips to see the sites.

Upon realising my mistake, I booked a car and headed east to the area most guidebooks stated not to miss.  The Galle area.  From Galle northward up the coast there are plentiful beach resorts with long stretches of sand.  The landscape toward the east is remarkable.  The jungles are simply eye-popping beautiful.

By doing this, I missed everything in between which means I missed a lot of Sri Lanka.  Does this disappoint me?  No.  Do I think I missed anything?  Yes and no.  I missed the tourist sites but I had an experience I wouldn’t have otherwise.

Almost immediately, I met Chameera, who worked at the resort where I stayed.  Clandestinely, I’d meet him outside the hotel after his shift and he’d take me by bus to Galle.  Chameera shared with me his Galle, his home.  I met his family, his friends and saw the area like few others would.  I still hear from Chameera and because of him, I look fondly back at Sri Lanka.

On the flip side, I had spoken to a guide who explained what he could arrange for me.  It seemed, however, I would hop around Sri Lanka for a determined amount of time at each stop which probably would have made my head spin and sour my disposition.  I obviously opted out.

All that said, keep reading for my unconventional ways to enjoy Sri Lanka ::

::  Gangaramaya Temple in Colombo is a very important Buddhist Temple.  Make plans to visit.  The actual Temple is interesting.  Watching faithful Buddhists is fascinating.  The 120-year-old Gangaramaya is not the typical Sri Lankan temple. Situated in the bustling inner-city Colombo, nearby the scenic Beira Lake, this intriguing temple complex is simultaneously a hugely popular tourist attraction, a place of worship and a learning and vocational training centre. Rather than huge, open spaces and tranquility, expect huge collections of fascinating artefacts and crowds at Gangaramaya. The temple is mostly celebrated for its lavish architecture and statues showcasing Sri Lankan, Chinese, Thai, Burmese and many other artistic styles. The exterior of the temple is boldly decorated in elaborate designs and golden adornments. The temple grounds are black slate tiled, with various statues—Buddha, lion, nymph—and china vases placed randomly.

::  A stroll through Colombo is interesting to say the least.  You’ll find contemporary buildings mixed in with what appears to be shacks.  Be aware of uneven pavements along the way and take a bottle of water, or two.

::  Take your taste buds on a culinary journey of discovery.  I was served the most beautiful displays of food though I’m still not sure what I ate.

::  Sri Lanka is laid back.  Be laid back with it and reflect on a few things you’ve been putting off.

::  When the hotel manager told me she booked my room for two nights but had arranged for me to stay in the jungle, I thought she was joking until I was literally dropped in the middle of the Sri Lanka jungle.  True that.  Go with the flow and explore.

::  Live like a local.  I stopped at a local shop in the middle of nowhere Sri Lanka and was invited to lunch by the family who owned the shop.  The hospitality in their home was overwhelming.

::  For many, riding in a rickshaw is a touristy thing to do.  When you ride in a rickshaw for twenty miles like I did, you’ve taken a ride of a lifetime.

Destination:  Sri Lanka

The fun of exploring London is winding through the many curved streets and narrow alleys.  There is a bit of mystery and suspense, especially at night.  By the way, GoPro is not that great to use at night.  In fact, GoPro is horrible in low light situations.

Without giving away future London destinations, I will simply say there are many alleys throughout the city I will share in the future.  From Brydges  Place off St Martin’s Lane (shown in the video in this post) to The City of London to Mayfair, Fleet Street, St James’s,  Bishopsgate, the top of Tottenham Court Road, and more, there are areas that will take you from 2019 back to Dickens’ days.

The key is to let the imagination run wild.  Be bold near dusk then meander through London’s alleys during the night.  The narrow passages will make you feel confined with nowhere to go.  The visual lines created by the layers of bricks add an illusionary tension during your stroll.  
But, don’t stroll.  Walk fast.  

Who is at the end?  Whose shadow is on the pavement?  Is there anyone besides you in the alley?  The glaring light at the end of the alley is a wee bit blinding, if not also mesmerising.  The narrow passage coupled with your fast movement gives a sense of mystery.  Is anyone lurking behind you?  How can you escape?  Can you escape?    I love London for this very fact.

The video included in this post shows what it’s like to walk through a darkened London alley at night.  Check back soon as I will include an entire tour of interesting alleys throughout the city. 

If you’re visiting London for the first time, explore any one of London’s alleys.  Streets in London are narrow.  They were never meant to accommodate modern day traffic.  The narrow alleys are a reminder of London’s past and well worth discovering.

Destination:  London