Dirty Land Rover in Soho

Yes, this is something you don’t often see in the middle of London:

You see plenty of Land Rovers in London. But not dirty Land Rovers.

Photoed by me in Dean Street, yesterday evening.

I wonder what the story of this particular Land Rover was. By which I mean: How did it get so dirty?

Perhaps it’s the latest hipster fad. Have a Land Rover, and periodically spray it with mud, so you look like … you aren’t what you are. Well, no, I actually think there probably was a good rather than stupid reason for this vehicle looking the way it did.

Beside the Thames at Laleham

Laleham is a place beside the River Thames, just south of Staines. I grew up a bit beyond Egham, which is the next station on the Reading Line from Staines. But I don’t recall ever going to Laleham.

Until this afternoon, when I went walking alongside the river there, with my friend Rob and his two young sons, who live around there. We made our way to a spot near the river in the family car, got out and walked along the river and then inland a bit to a pub, ate and drank in the pub, and then retraced our steps. Rob and I walked, and his boys were on their bikes. A most agreeable way to pass a Sunday afternoon.

The road we walked and biked along is called Thames Side. On the left, as we went pubwards, posh houses. On the right, the river, and attached to the bank on the other side, rather smaller and less posh but still very desirable dwellings, mostly rather shed-like bungalows.

Thus:

All of which made a pleasing change from my usual Thames-related photo-destinations, which are mostly to the east of me. Places like Laleham, out west, are basically finished. I don’t suppose the above scenes looked that much different to how things were when I was a kid, living around there. But the stuff out east, especially the stuff beyond Tower Bridge, is being constructed and reconstructed on a huge and hectic scale, even as I blog and even as you read.

This new blog makes it a lot easier to stick up a clutch of photos like this one, compared to how hard this kind of thing was to do at the old blog. And it is also a lot easier for you to view all these photos. You can just click on the first one, and then get to the next one with just one click, and then on to the next with one more click, and so on. A great improvement.

Ravenscourt Park photos

Yes, I was in Ravenscourt Park on Thursday evening, having a Libertarian Lads dinner in restaurant there.

As I usually do when visiting spots that are unfamiliar, I was anxious not to be late and so got there very early. Which meant I had plenty of time to photo.

Here are the four:

The first was, obviously, taken at the tube station when I got there.

The second was also taken from the tube station, and makes the local Premier Inn and the building nearer look like all one, with the Premier Inn itself emerging out of the roof clutter which is actually across the road from it. (I do love aligning Things, don’t I?) Premier Inns: Machines For Staying In.

Photo three, taken of and through a bookshop window, is an illustration of the strong Polish presence in Ravenscourt Park. I assume that got started right after WW2, when exiled Poles decided they’d prefer to stay that way, what with the USSR having conquered their preferred country of choice.

Photo four is a motorbike. I love to photo motorbikes, especially in France, but also in Ravenscourt Park, if Ravenscourt Park is where I am and if Ravenscourt Park is where the motorbike is. This motorbike is trying to be an abstract sculpture, but it didn’t fool me. (It should have hidden its wheels better, for starters.) This is another in my ongoing series of photos that I like, that look like works of Art of the sort that I don’t much like. This fondness of mine, for photos that look like they’re Modern Art but which actually aren’t was something which I later persuaded some of my dining companions to discuss with me, and out of that I got one answer as to why I like such photos, which I may or may not (I promise nothing) tell you about, later, in a different posting.

miwhip?

This afternoon, on my way north from South Ken tube, I encountered these golden little vehicles:

It says “miwhip” on them. Who or what is that? I used to be content to just not know such things, and to forget I ever asked. But this is the age of the internet, in fact it has been for some while, as perhaps you have noticed. And the internet soon obliged.

It seems that “miwhip” is an Uber-challenger, and that if you are lucky, when you whisle up one of the above vehicles, you might instead find yourself travelling in one of these:

The best thing I read in the Evening Standard piece linked to above is that miwhip say they’ll pay their hirelings at the end of each day. If you have any friends hacking away at the coalface that is the gig economy, you’ll know how important that promise is. Provided, of course, that they keep it.

Robot trains for Glasgow

I don’t trust Twitter enough to ever want to rely on it for anything, because it might suddenly turn against me and my politics. (I hate Islam, etc.) But I follow various people on Twitter, and by this means, I recently learned that Glasgow is about to have a new fleet of robot underground trains. The first such in the UK, apparently. I don’t know why this appeared on my Twitter feed, but it did:

Having only very recently taken a couple of trips on the D(ocklands) L(ight) R(aileway), I know that robot trains can work very well, and I wish Glasgow success with theirs.

In one of my recorded chats with Patrick Crozier, I expressed skepticism about robot cars, especially robot cars in cities. The right place for robot vehicles to be making their debuts is in highly controlled and controllable circumstances, in places all owned by one organisation, able to impose the necessary disciplines on all concerned or threatened. We made mention of certain mines, where robot lorries already operate, and of Amazon warehouses, where robot package-fetchers-and-carriers now bustle about successfully. Or, like railway networks.

Then, maybe, any year now, make a tentative start on robot lorries on motorways.

Robot cars in cities? I recommend, and I predict: Not any time soon.

Quota photo of a signpost

Yes, I like to photo signposts. You know where you are, with signposts.

Here’s a signpost photo I photoed in March 2012:

But there’s more to it than just having a note of where I was, useful though that is. There’s something about actually seeing those particular names of particular places which makes the fact that this is where I really am – and then later: was – come particularly alive.

As you can tell from the previous paragraph, I don’t really know how to explain this fascination of mine. And just now, I am too knackered, having spent the day recovering from a Last Friday of the Month meeting that happened last night. Dominique Lazanski: very good. My front room: very full. Aftermath: lots of crap to tidy up.

Yesterday was a day when I had to be very energetic and alive, to get ready for that meeting. So, I was. (Hence those four blog postings yesterday.) Today, I could be knackered. So, I was.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

France is big

In the part of France where GodDaughter2’s family live and with whom I recently stayed, there are two ways to make a car journey. You can take what looks like the long route, along two or even three sides of a motorway rectangle, only travelling on little roads when you have to, to get to and from the motorway. Or, you can attempt to travel more directly, along little roads, by the scenic route. The scenic route looks quicker on the map, at first glance. But the motorways are quicker because they always go straight where they’re going. They don’t wiggle back and forth up and down mountains, or get stuck in little villages.

I was taken on various car journeys during my stay, of both kinds. The trips involving airports were on motorways, as were others. But there were also various journeys along those scenic routes.

Here are a few of the many, many photos I took while on such expeditions:

The thing is, France is (see above) big.

On one of these expeditions we drove for about four hours, hither and thither, up and down, through kilometre upon kilometre of gorgeous scenery, encountering about three other oncoming vehicles per hour. We crossed over numerous bridges as we switched from going down or up one side of a valley to going up or down the other side of the same valley, often able to see past nearby trees to distant mountains, but often not, passing through and sometimes stopping in towns or villages with orange tiled roofs.

Countryside in England of this desirability, in weather like this, would be swarming with motorists, all making it impossible for each other to have a good time. In the south of France, where this sort of weather is only average (too cold and windy) and where they have endless supplies of such scenery, we had the entire route pretty much to ourselves.

Also, in England, if you were to drive for half a day at the slowish but steady speed we were able to drive scenically in France, you’d take a visible bite into the map of England. In France, such a trip doesn’t register, nationally speaking. You’ve gone from this little place here, to this next little place right next to the first place, here, two milimetres away. As an exercise in crossing France, forget it. You have made no progress at all.

It’s not just places like America, Africa and India that are big. Compared to England, France is big too.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

A Much Bigger Thing

An airplane approaches London City Airport. There are cranes, leaning away from each other, …

… which was all I thought I was photoing. Until I looked at it at home on a much bigger thing; and saw a Much Bigger Thing:

Yes, the Big Olympic Thing.

Another photo of somewhere, turned into somewhere by the same Big Thing.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog