And in a shocking 'C&M have another holiday manoeuvre', we went to Paris in September. This one wasn’t our fault, honest. My (Mitch’s) mum got her BA (Hons) last year and we were all very proud of her. She insisted that the whole family go to her graduation. She had the choice of graduating at the Barbican or Versailles, so we all chose Versailles and she made Dad pay for us to go.
We went out a couple of days early to do touristy stuff. Paris would be a completely brilliant city if it wasn’t full of tourists. It has more Japanese restaurants than Tokyo for one thing. Although we had to rename the Pompidou Centre the Grumpidou Centre on account of the information lady shouting at us when we politely enquired which films were showing that evening - "NONE - the cinema is being rennovated". That told us.
We had been to Paris before but had never gone up the Eiffel Tower or visited the Louvre as we feel that queuing is a bit of a waste of precious time. Oh, and we hate queuing. Last time we went we would have had to queue for everything for ages, and anyway, it was more fun to explore some of the hidden parts of Paris. This time our visit was slightly out of season so the queue for the Louvre was manageable.
( Please can I go to the Louvre? )As ever, more photos here
C developed a website for my bro earlier in the year and, although he was happy to do the work for free, my bro insisted on saying thanks so bought us tickets to see Gorillaz at the National Indoor Arena. We're not fans of big venues (will never, ever go to the NEC again) but we figured it would be fun. And it was. The NIA is huge (described by Albarn as a shed) but it wasn't full (not surprising, given the cost of the tickets). We were in the standing area and we felt we got a reasonable view without getting anywhere near crushed.
And the gig was so worth it. What we both love about Gorillaz is the eclectic nature of the music. You never know what you are going to hear next and if you don't particularly like the current song, you can be pretty sure the next one will be great.
This gig had a cast of thousands - a brass band, a string orchestra, a Syrian orchestra and many, many guest appearances including our favourite, a particularly miserable Mark E Smith-a from the Fall-a who came onstage, moaned into a mic for a song and buggered off in a huff.
It was clear that Albarn just loves making and performing music. So we'd hear the Syrian orchestra play traditional music followed by them accompanying a bunch of rappers in a bizarre blend of styles. It kinda worked. All this was accompanied by a splendid visual display with animations from Jamie Hewlett. It was amazing how Albarn managed to sync the lyrics to the animations. They played some new stuff (the new album definitely seems worth checking out) and some faves. Good gig. Especially Mark E Smith-aaaa.
One thing that has struck us is how lucky we have been to have tried so many different dishes and to have travelled to so many places. And then realise how much of it we’ve photographed.
( Cut for deliciousness... )
The El Tatio geysers in the Atacama Desert are the world’s highest geysers. That’s the world’s highest altitude (4300m) not the world's most spurty geysers. We had to get up at 4am and go on a 3 hour bumpy minibus ride to visit them. It was –9ºC when we arrived; even Captain Cold was wearing a fleece and coat (he soon discarded them – the temp went above 30ºC by mid-morning). It was absolutely worth the effort. We arrived at sunrise to see the geysers at golden hour. They were spectacular.
( Geysers... )
As ever, there are more photos here
After Argentina we visited the Atacama Desert in Chile. It’s the world’s driest desert, lying just to the west of the Andes and has some amazing landscapes. You stay in the small oasis town of San Pedro de Atacama, which is totally geared towards tourism. It’s at 2500m, and we didn’t feel as though we needed to acclimatise to the altitude (although some of the excursions go to quite high altitudes). Apols that the photos are bigger. The Argentina ones weren't particularly amazing, but the desert was so stark and beautiful, we felt it really deserved the larger sizing.
Some of the landscapes are really spectacular. We watched the sunset and the moon rise behind the Licancabur volcano, the colours changing every minute.
( Beautiful Landscapes under the cut... )
As ever, there are billions more photos (with even bigger sizes) here:
We started off in Buenos Aires. It’s a huge city with loads of interesting things to see. We weren’t there for too long (we foresee more visits to South America in our future and will almost certainly fly in to BA) so this time we headed out to Recoleta and visited the necropolis and the Japanese Garden.
The necropolis is huge and serene. We like wandering round graveyards. Eva Peron is interred here. It’s really easy to find her – just follow the crowds. The sun was just hazy enough for us to take some interesting shots.
We liked BA. It's a vibrant city with lots going on and the people are really friendly. No, we didn't tango, but we ate lots of steak. More photos here.
* Apologies for the gratuitous Supper's Ready reference.
We spent an entire day meeting and flying birds of prey. We flew several owls and a harris hawk and saw a black kite catch chicken feet mid-air. We also got to hold a tawny eagle and a peregrine falcon and watched a falcon chase a lure.
We met 4 different owls.Their bodies are really small but are fluffed out by masses of feathers which enables them to fly virtually silently. Many of the feathers are serrated for additional silence. They eat rodents and swoop low, flying just above ground level, to pick up their prey mid-flight. For this reason when you are flying owls you don't hold the meat lure in your glove othewise they would just fly off with it, you reward them when they've landed on your hand. Apparently the "wise old owl" is a myth. They're not very clever and haven't got very good eyesight either. But each one we met had a terrific personality.
( Owltastic... )
More piccies here.
It's worth noting that in line with everything Georgian you end up making far more than is humanly possible to eat. This cheese pie was enough to feed 5,000 so we will be eating cold cheese pie for the rest of the week. Yummy ^_^
( Cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese... )
More photos here.
An Inland Voyage
A photographic exhibition by local photographer Robert Longden who took pictures of life on the narrowboats in the 1940s and 1950s, largely on the Coventry Canal around Hawkesbury Junction. On until the end of August. (Thanks, Lamentables for the heads up)
From Here to There
An eclectic exhibition from the Arts Council Collection and we're pretty impressed by some of the work that has made it up to dear old Cov. Like most modern art exhibitions half of it is fantastic and the other half nonsense. We loved Gilbert & George's Gordon's Makes Us Drunk video (probably because we are huge G&G fans) and it was nice to contemplate The Great Bear at leisure but we have yet to find any work by Tracy Emin that we actually like. The exhibition also made us realise that we have been doing our filmmaking all Wrong. We try to make films that are at least different but what we should be doing is making the same pretentious tosh that everybody else makes. The exhibition is on until the 18th July.
( Plus a couple of photos )
The hols basically involved driving (or, more accurately, being driven because we were tipsy for much of the time) across Georgia, which is a really beautiful country, visiting vineyards and winerys, eating vast quantities of splendid food as well as doing the odd city tour and stopping off at a number of cultural sights along the way.
There is a legend that when God was handing out land to the nations of the world, the Georgians were so busy feasting that they lost their place in the queue and there was no land left for them. But when they invited God to join the party, he enjoyed himself so much that he gave them the best bits of land that he had been saving for himself.
( Feasting... )
Photos gradually going up. There's a bunch of them here.