Sunday, 31 October 2010

Blenheim Park, Woodstock

It's the school holidays at the moment and we just spent a few days in the UK. Yesterday afternoon we went to Woodstock to go for a walk in Blenheim Palace's 2100 acres of parkland. The park was breathtaking. Needless to say the autumnal colours are as good in the UK as in they are in France.

These were the first trees we came across. They had obviously been trimmed recently (by livestock apparently. Sheep were in this field).
When I studied architecture a hundred years ago, we used ink pens to draw. If we were feeling a little bit extravagant we would buy Letraset lettering, transferrable lettering that you would painstakingly 'transfer' onto your drawings letter by letter (yes, it was as bad as it sounds). If you were feeling positively rich you would buy Letraset trees and people.  These trees here look a lot like Letraset trees.

Yesterday the sun was struggling to shine through the clouds.
I loved this tree with its' silvery bark and caricature shape. It's a beech tree, but looks a bit like a eucalyptus tree, (Bruce)
The lake and trees beyond looked beautiful framed through the trees.
Not to mention the trees beyond the trees.
I loved the silvery grey roots of the beech trees...
...and the bridge across the lake, framed in fiery orange and yellow.
And here is some painting with trees.
And then to finish off, a bit of architecture.
More pictures of Blenheim Park can be seen here. Just gorgeous.





Tuesday, 26 October 2010

La Ligne de Petite Ceinture de Paris

Around the city of Paris, just within the dreaded Paris ring road, the périphérique, is an old disused tramway, La Ligne de Petite Ceinture de Paris. It is 32 kms long and was built between 1854 and 1869. Initially it was  mainly used for transporting goods, with the exception of a small section near Porte d'Auteuil to the west of Paris which transported passengers. From 1862 passenger traffic was started on other parts of  La Ceinture. At first just one train was scheduled per day, but by 1878, six trains were scheduled per hour. They would take 1h10 mins to make the tour of Paris. Gradually, however, between 1900 and 1934 the number of passengers using the Ligne de Petite Ceinture de Paris slowly declined, until traffic was completely stopped in 1934, with the exception again of the section near Porte d'Auteuil which continued running until 1985.

Nowadays the Ligne de Petite Ceinture de Paris is in most part abandoned, though sections of it have been embraced by local communities who have cleared away the rubbish and created planted gardens and allotments with picnic areas, to be enjoyed by local Parisians.

Below is a section between Rue du Ruisseau and Rue du Poteau in the 18th arrondissement that has been done up by the local community.
Just along from this part of the tramway, between Rue du Poteau and Avenue St Ouen is a more neglected section with lots of rubbish in the bushes and impressive graffiti along the walls.
The brick arches and column details are rather intricate.
At what would have been a station at Porte de St Ouen is a severed platform.  

The building that bridges the rails here is a shop selling all sorts of old tat from shopping caddies, to tins of beans, to cheap plastic toys, to screw drivers, to obscure wafer biscuits, to plates and saucepans.
I found this here for 1euro. Cheap at twice the price I say!
Here's a link with lots of information about the Paris Tramway http://www.petiteceinture.org/accueil.html
and here's a link to the Wiki page http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ligne_de_Petite_Ceinture



Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Place de Tertre, the Square on the Hillock

Today I discovered that Tertre means 'hillock' in French. That explains where the Place de Tertre, situated just to the West of the Sacré Cœur up on the hill, gets its' name.

I've been going up there quite often lately early in the morning and enjoying the calm before the crowds arrive. Apparently 8 million tourists visit the Sacré Cœur every year. If you divide that by 365 you get an astonishing 22 thousand a day! Obviously a false per-day figure but it gives a sense of the magnitude of Montmartre and the Sacré Cœur's popularity.

At 8.30 in the morning, however, the Place de Tertre is empty and calm with just the restaurants getting ready for the day.
Lots of empty seats. 
Artists setting up their stalls.
But not Pierre...yet.
The first caricaturists half heartedly  look for customers.
The sun is low in the sky.

The calm before the storm.



Friday, 15 October 2010

Paris lampposts are not banal

Lately I've become rather preoccupied with Parisian lampposts. Let's face it, Paris gives good lamppost. Actually, Paris gives fantastic lampposts. There are hundreds of different styles of lamppost in Paris, from the very plain and simple, to the outrageously elaborate and extravagant. 

This is a very classic common lamppost found all over the city. Here, rather unusually, it looks like an urban arrow.
Here is another more old fashioned classic that can be found all over town. This one had just had the glass replaced in it, so was oddly shiny and clean. 

Parisian lampposts often look fantastic in silhouette.
Sometimes they have coloured glass as can be seen on this rather Triffid like Hector Guimard metro lamppost.
Sometimes they suspend famous monuments.
The details are often incredibly intricate, as can be seen here on one of the Place de La Concorde lampposts.
Sometimes they provide a dramatic foreground for wild horses.
They create lovely shadows. On occasions their shadows even look like body builders.
I challenge anybody to find lampposts more extravagant than these ones on Pont Alexandre III.
And finally, I reckon my red headed aging hippy continues to get more and more handsome in these autumnal days.
More lamppost images can be found on my flickr account.