Parks, parties and parades

For the most part, urban parks are public spaces where ordinary people enjoy themselves — within limits of course — doing what they want.  Some people walk or waddle, others jog or juggle, cycle, row or read books, exercise, have parties and lots of other things.  To the best of my knowledge, nobody swims and were they to, they may find that they dissolve en route to the far bank (although I understand that the “freshness” of the water in the stream has improved in the past 20 years).  Still, given that the rowers seem to spend an inordinately long time and considerable effort hosing down their boats after a session on the river, I don’t think you’d want to take too many chances.

We live 150 m from Tel Aviv’s largest open space, the Yarqon Park, which includes the stream that passes for a river here and stretches along both banks.  One of the most common activities in the park, especially at the weekend (or on Shabbat, to be more specific) are various birthday parties and family get-togethers that go on from early morning till dusk and sometimes even into the night.  Even if you enter the park at 7 in the morning, you’re aware of the festivities about to take place because each group sends out its scout to stake claim to the patch of park that the rest of the jolly-makers will occupy when they, too, eventually turn up later in the day.  The advance party can be around  for several hours before the rest turn up.  He or she or they will have reading material adequate for several hours and their job is not only to find a suitable spot but to mark out an area sufficiently large to accommodate the horde that will follow.  Anything suitable will do — but more often than not, it’s balloons strung up between the trees or connecting folding chairs.  Things that say “Strangers, keep out!  This is ours for the next few hours”. 

Tel Aviv

The advance party preceding the main horde

Tel Aviv

The party in full swing

We also live 300m from the Embassy of the Philippines (Israel being one of the few countries in the world, perhaps the only one, where foreign embassies with the exception of one or two are not located in the capital).  Sundays bring the usual flurry of ladies, young and old, who seem to make up a goodly proportion of the caring population in Tel Aviv to the Embassy building — whether for prayer or for other social reasons I’m not sure.  

However, during early May, Filipinos and Filipinas take over the park on the stretch between the Ibn Gvirol and Namir bridges, directly opposite the embassy to celebrate Flores de Mayo.  This is a day of parades, speeches, bright colours, and flowers.  From what I can gather, the celebrations in T-A are minor compared with the goings-on in the homeland.  However, we make do with what we can see near home and it is colourful.

The Flores de Mayo celebration in Tel Aviv reminds me of another but different kind of celebration that was held in another park in a different country.  We stumbled serendipitously into Tango al Fresco in The Regent’s Park in London almost five years ago and though I could believe my ears, I couldn’t quite believe my eyes.  

It was a Sunday afternoon in August and Tami & Shuli were visiting London for a couple of weeks with Gali who was then 4 months old and although I can’t remember, we must have done the trip in two separate journeys.  At any rate, we parked the car on Chester Road, unloaded the scooter and started to walk down the Broad Walk inside Regent’s Park.  As we trundled south, there was the unmistakeable sound of tango music coming from somewhere and then I noticed that our way through was blocked by tens, if not hundreds, of tango dancers.  

There were young and old of both sexes in every combination taking their tangoing extremely seriously.  I’ve never been a dancer and Vivien doesn’t do it much any more so what else was there to do but photograph the proceedings — as visual documentation of the use of public space, of course.  We repeated the exercise a couple of years later but last summer, on checking the dates prior to our visit to London, I discovered that Tango al Fresco had been removed from the park without what seemed like a reasonable explanation.

Most of the dancers were amateurs but there was one display by a professional couple that held the audience in awe.

The pros

For an almost 70-year old, it was like having arrived in heaven and the angels were dancing for me on arrival.  I was free to roam around, camera in hand, and record images of the people and their costumes, the shirts and shorts, the dresses and shoes. 


Moreover, as tango is usually danced in an embrace that varies from very open to very closed and a good tango dancer transmits a feeling of the music to the partner with ankles and knees brushing as one leg passes the other, calves and ankles and heels are all integral parts of the action and the performance of tango — so not to photograph them would be failing in professional duties!  


So I had a field day.  And, because it was all so natural to aim the camera where I wanted to, nobody in this situation could actually accuse me of being debauched in any way!  Which, incidentally, made the task in hand [literally] all that much easier.

Tami & Lily, Tango al Fresco

Tango al Fresco, The Regent’s Park, London

In turn, this (the thought that somehow, heaven forbid, I might be considered depraved (“depraved on account of being deprived”, to quote Stephen Sondheim)  reminds me of an old joke I heard some years back.

A Duck took his girlfriend out for dinner to a top class restaurant.  

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Thanks to Shuli for this one!

After finishing the excellent meal the waiter came over with coffee.  As the waiter was leaving, the duck caught his attention.  The waiter bent down and the duck whispered quietly into his ear:

“Do you sell condoms in this establishment?” 

“We certainly do.”, replied the waiter.

“In that case I’ll have a pack of three.”, said the duck. 

“Would you like me to put those on your bill?”, asked the waiter.

The duck, looking very offended, replied: “Hey, what do you think I am, some kind of pervert!”.

[Continue to] Have a nice day, even though I might have ruined it for you! 


Navigating the past

Visually streets have become a nightmare, … [a] chaotic jumble of traffic signs, bins, bollards, guard rails and street furniture in a variety of different designs set in a sea of garish paving…Chaotic and cluttered streets…a symptom of a community in decline with low self-esteem…  Quoted in Michael Hebbert, “Singing Streets of London”, School of Planning and Landscape, University of Manchester (2000)

About four years ago, my friend Maoz, on learning that I was off to London again made a request of me.  “Do you think you could take some photographs of street signs for me?”.  On requesting a little more specificity, he responded with something like “Just photograph how street names appear on the streets”.  When Maoz, who knows a lot more than I do about lots of things, and certainly about anything to do with street names, asks you to do something, the tendency is to get on with the job because you know that he’s likely to use what you provide in an erudite way.

Actually, I was quite happy to carry out this task as it could be done while walking around the streets of London with a camera without unduly interfering with whatever other banal task I’d set myself for the day.  I was also happy to do it because I’d been curious about street signs at least since we moved to Tel Aviv a decade ago.  I had noticed that in the neighbourhood in which we live there is a superabundance of signage—not just of the locational variety.  I mean by that those that tell you the name of the street on which you’re located and occasionally where you might end up if you continue in the direction in which you’re travelling but also all the instructional signs, usually negative in nature, e.g., “Don’t park here”, “No left turn”, “No defecation” [for the dogs, of course], and [in London, especially] “Don’t chain your bike to the railings”, and such like.  

We’d also noticed over the years in London that if you want to know what street you’re on, chances are that you can find out if you are at either extremity — some of the streets are very long indeed — but not if you are somewhere in the middle.  If you enter a main road from a side road and ask “What street is this?”, chances are you’ll have to travel to one end or the other first in order to find out.  Of course, in the second decade of the twenty-first century, when people carry universal street maps in their pockets or in their cars (i.e., a GPS on a smartphone), this sort of situation is almost anachronistic.  

Anyway, on arrival in London, I decided to carry out my assignment.  And what better way than to step out of the house into the street and see what I could discover?

Consequently, I turned right on to Parkhill Road, heading towards Haverstock Hill and Belsize Park and 30 seconds later, I encountered the first examples of what I thought Maoz might have been referring to.  On either side of the street where it meets Haverstock Hill, there is a sign indicating the name of the street and it was here that I came across the first inconsistency.  

On the north side of the junction, the following sign appears:

Parkhill a

Yes, this is a current street sign in the London Borough of Camden.  The name appears in upper case letters, black on a white background, with the Camden logo top left and the postal zone, NW3, in red bottom right.  So I know where I am.  I take the photograph and then turn around 180º to face south, and what do I see?

Parkhill b

The same name, the same postal zone, a different style of lettering (serif .v. sans serif) — but am I in the Borough of Hampstead?  This is 2012.  The London Borough of Camden came into being in 1965 when the Metropolitan Borough of Hampstead, alongside those of Holborn and St.Pancras, was abolished as part of the governmental reorganisation of London which brought the Greater London Council (GLC) into being.  In other words, an obsolete sign had not been removed after half a century!

This might actually turn out to be an interesting exercise if only because six years in Tel Aviv had taught me that most of the jumble of instructional signs (as distinct from locational ones) as often as not comes about because old signs are not replaced.  Rather they are appended to, with the consequence that people are left to figure out for themselves what is current and what is archival, often to their detriment when the penalty notice / fine appears on their windscreen or in the mail.

So, my interest whetted, I set out to discover what other anomalies I could find within a few minutes’ walk.

First up — Haverstock Hill, the main drag between Chalk Farm and Hampstead.  Yes, there’s a modern Camden sign near Chalk Farm Station — but without the Camden logo. Further up the street is something else — a tiled street sign and no number following the N.W. postal district, so the sign is almost 100 years old as numbers were assigned in 1917 when, as a wartime measure to improve efficiency, the postal districts were further subdivided with a number applied to each sub-district



Up Haverstock Hill and into England’s Lane — and a similar situation appears.  As I turn the corner, on the north side of the street, there’s a modern Camden sign, but without the Camden logo.  On the other side of the road, parallel to the small private road that is Chalcott Gardens, there are two older looking tiled street signs.  They look even older than the second sign on Parkhill Road.  They are similar but not identical.  One is has the postal zone N.W.3 and the other is styled NW3.  Which came first?  It seems that it was once fashionable to write the postal area with full stops, which were then deleted.

As I march to the end of this short street, which comprises mostly cafés, beauty parlours of one kind or another, and food and drink shops, there is a sign over the pub at the end of the street, which reads “England’s Lane N.W.”.  Just a simple Northwest, this being another older sign, from before 1917.

Cressy Road (blue metal)

The following day, at the other end of Parkhill Road, I come across a different style that I hadn’t noticed before.  This obviously pre-dates the creation of the GLC but is it older (full-stops between letters and number) or more recent than what I thought were the older of the tiled signs.

I photographed several more examples in the area and in the West End over a couple of days and sent them on to my stratonomast friend in Tel Aviv for comment.  

On some occasions, the name was simply painted on to the brick wall.

Chamberlain Street (painted)

In other examples, one finds oneself in two periods simultaneously.

Two in One

In yet others, history appears on a single wall!

Harley Mews

So what I did discover is that there’s far more to a street sign than meets the eye.  Order, even in Goode Olde England, is somewhat lacking.


Corruption of another kind

What does one write a post for a blog that is expressly to do with pictures when one has lost access to one’s complete catalog of images?

Yesterday morning, just before I sat down to write, I decided to rename several picture files — for ease of sorting them to display.  I think, in retrospect, it was this rashness that led to the [hopefully] temporary disaster that occurred a few minutes later, when I was informed by a gremlin inside my computer that “No”, it could not open the catalog because I had a “corrupted database”.  

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 10.48.10.png

I contacted technical help at the company that produces the software and received the usual warning that people like me, simple ordinary folk who spent some money to buy this [really wonderful] piece of software, would have to wait up to 24 business hours to receive a reply.  As I’d contacted them about other things, I wasn’t in the least bit surprised.

What did surprise me was that this time, there was a reply within 20 minutes.  Not that it really helped all that much.  I was referred to a “Knowledge Base”, in which it appears that other unfortunates have encountered similar issues.  I read through the example provided; it took me some considerable time to figure out what they wanted me to do.  I did it — and, to tell the truth, all that seems to have happened is that far from correcting the situation, I seem to have retrogressed the database to the state it was in a week ago (the last backup).  But still no pictures appeared on the screen in front of me, so I was instructed to send the debased database to Copenhagen (or, for all I know, the person with whom I was corresponding might as well be in Dublin, Dordrecht or Delhi as in Denmark) where s/he will try and correct the file in situ, as it were.  

I suppose I have a full back-up on by backup disk (with works round the clock and supposedly provides you with updated support every hour)  but it’s probably more problem than it’s worth trying to figure out which files to take off the backup disk and replace on the computer’s hard disk.

Meanwhile, there are no photos and I’m still waiting, not yet on tenterhooks or even slightly anxious, but nevertheless waiting.  

Moreover, as I’ve been chauffeur and baby-sitter, ferrying a very sweet three-year old granddaughter to and from kindergarten while her mother and her aunt have a couple of days’ R&R, I’ve also missed my morning walks so I don’t even have fresh photographs to post!

Lily 3.jpg

So here I am, 71 today (mental age 17 — I don’t know where the 54 years in between raced away to) and all that is left to do now is to draft the next post which, I sincerely hope will contain some fresh images.  Meanwhile, I am trapped in a spider’s web.


Unfortunately, then, you will have to make do with a small number of images that are outside the corrupted database and therefore safe until the next mini-catastrophe occurs!


crow.jpgScavenging.  Yarqon Park, Tel Aviv


Marks and Spencer ad (via Private Eye).  Belsize Park Station, August 2015



Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao (from the far side, as recommended)

Taormina — tone mapped.jpg

Amphitheatre, Taormina, Sicily

Stricker London Eye.jpg

The London Eye, South Bank

P.S.  Noon, >24 hours since corruption uncovered.  No response so far!


Holidays and holiday photos

There are few social things more dreadful and potentially embarrassing than being invited to view someone’s holiday pictures or wedding videos when you aren’t the slightest bit interested in seeing someone’s holiday pictures or someone else’s wedding but nevertheless have to sit through it and feign attentiveness and curiosity. 

Today, we don’t need to borrow a slide projector in order to bore people because we have a blog.  The advantage of the blog (to the bloggee, at least) is that s/he can choose not to read it, turn it off whenever s/he wants, skim through the post, look at the pictures, or a glutton for punishment, read the text, too.

For people who have been on vacation, holiday photographs can serve as vivid reminders of places visited and things done, of food consumed and drinks drunk, and so forth.   Each of the trips we’ve made in the past decade or so has yielded several images that we cherish and a small proportion of them are decent photos in their own right.

Part of the problem with holiday photos is that if you’re like me, you’re never quite sure what you’re looking at.  I’m not very good with guidebooks.  I tend to skim before I travel and then read afterwards to find out what it was that I saw, which is and upside-down way of doing things.  My mother had a name for me in Yiddish (from the German) — verkehrt!  As usual, she was right!

2008 — Andalusia & the Algarve

In 2007, we had a week with our son Dov and his wife Keren, and our daughters Tami & Shuli in Andalusia.  It was a family vacation prior to joining the grandparents’ club.  We visited Granada, Cordoba and Jerez, ending up in Seville.  

Despite the grandeur of the Alhambra in Granada, it didn’t really yield any spectacular or particularly interesting picture.  However, a couple of days later, while walking the narrow streets in Cordoba, a large door opened and a working woman in a habit stooped, as was her habit, to take in a carton of what I suppose were the day’s provisions for her sorority.  A decent picture, indeed.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 15.53.33.png

Working woman.  Cordoba, Spain

After the children departed for their respective homes in London and Tel Aviv, we took the bus from Seville to Albufeira in the Algarve in Portugal, to join my cousin and his wife who were staying there.  On one of the days, we all four drove to Sagres, the most southwesterly point in Portugal.  It sits on cliffs high above the Atlantic and was where Prince Henry the Navigator had a house or castle.  When I was a 2nd year geography student, we were taught that Henry established a nautical school in Sagres but modern historians, as is their wont, pooh-pooh this idea.  Notwithstanding these differences of opinion, right or wrong, I was overcome with emotion, thinking “Here I stand on the last piece of Europe before Africa.” 

Andalucia, May 2008 Portugal



Walking around the area, I was struck by the flowers on the promontory — in particular by this one about to force its cap from off its head, a picture that currently adorns Tami’s living room.


At Sagres, Portugal



2008 — Venice

Later in the same year, we spent a weekend in Venice, which was totally delinquent in that three days in Venice doesn’t do either us or Venice justice.  It’s is the only place I’ve been where you can point your camera at anything and end up with a picture that ranges from the decent to the marvellous.  And although it has more than its fair share of churches dedicated to the glory of God, Venice is really constructed to glorify what Man can do when he sets his mind to it. It’s a place where a place isn’t supposed to be.

On an afternoon walk on a grey day, the sun came out briefly just after we had emerged from the Rialto Market and we were treated to this fabulous vista.

Grand Canal, Venice

Grand Canal, Venice

We were also fortunate in that the travel section of the paper the weekend before we went ran a three-page article on Venice, so we availed of their tip to take in a magnificent view St. Mark’s Square from San Giorgio Maggiore, which has an elevator to the top.  And so we did and so it was.


Piazza San Marco, Venice



2010 — Kfar Blum

In January 2010, we spent a couple of days with friends at Kfar Blum, a kibbutz in Northern Israel.  The objective was to observe the cranes in the Hula Nature Reserve nearby.  We did as we had planned and I duly photographed (I wish that I had had a better camera then) but the best picture of the weekend was that of the sparrows gorging themselves on a loaf of bread that had been left on a table in front of our hotel room.


Cranes, Hula Nature Reserve


Shabbat shalom



2012 — Sicily

In May 2012, we spent 11 days in Sicily.  As sole driver, I decided it would be too much to try to see the whole island, so we settled for the east coast, starting in Siracusa and ending in Catania.  It was an absorbing week and a half but what fascinated me most of all were the fish markets in Siracusa and Catania.  

Siracusa fish

Siracusa Fish Market

The day after we arrived, I observed the delivery of tuna to some of the fishmongers in Siracusa.  I visited the market again over the following three days and followed the butchering of the fish into manageable portions, to be sold on, I presume.  I knew that tuna is a big fish, but I had no idea how big until I saw the work that precedes the cutting of a tuna steak.

Siracusa fish 1

Tuna, Siracusa Fish Market


In Catania, the fascination was less with tuna and more with swordfish.  There had been spado in the Siracusa market, too, but nothing as spectacular as this beastie!

Catania fish

Swordfish (Spado), Catania Fish Market


2013 — Provence

En route to London in October 2013, we decided on a few days in Provence — for old times’ sake.  Early in its career, the Aviv Quartet was invited several times to perform at the Luberon String Quartet festival and we used to tag along.  On this trip, we stayed in Aix and spent one day en route to Roussillon, where we had stayed on each trip a decade earlier.  The result was one photo of the beautiful ochre-coloured walls of the houses in the village of Roussillon and another of the nearby perched village of Gordes.  Ah, for memories!

Roussillon windows

The ochre walls of Roussillon


Gordes, Luberon


2015 — Barcelona & Bilbao

We decided to celebrate our joint 70th birthdays last year on a fortnight’s trip.  We had originally thought of Paris but getting round Paris (even with the help of a professional guide) on a mobility scooter was too daunting.  So we settled for Barcelona, Bilbao and the Pyrenees.  Once we’d booked the flights, we had to plan what to do and how to get around — and discovered an outfit called Barcelona Special Traveller.  With a professional and highly personable guide and with Vivien on a rented scooter, we saw more in three and a half days than we would have if left to our own devices for ten!

Walking and scooting round Barcelona — a remarkably disabled-friendly city — is like being in an outdoor art gallery.  It was breathtaking — as was the food!  Antoni Gaudí’s La Sagrada Familia is the most incredible building I have ever been in.  One is, perhaps, more familiar with images of its exterior but it’s inside where it all happens.  I don’t have a lens capable of surveying the whole in one fell swoop so I had to make do.  On exiting, the only thing I could think of doing was applauding!

Barcelona La Sagrada

Interior, Basilica of La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

We took a train to Bilbao and encamped 200m from Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum, a building quite different from Gaudí’s but equally iconic.  It is said to be best photographed from the far bank of the river.  This image is from the bridge en route to there, where the building’s ship shape in reinforced by the “funnel” provided by the office building behind.

Bilbao Guggenheim

Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

However, to my warped mind, the most colourful picture from this trip was not a building but a shoe shop in Barcelona.  The colours just dazzled!

Barcelona shoes

Barcelona: Shoes

And the most pleasing photo of all, mainly because I hadn’t expected it or planned it?  An early morning picture of Rio Ara, in the central Pyrenees, near a decommissioned monastery and now a hotel.

Rio Ara


A tale of some very shaggy dogs — and people

In contrast to my previous post, which was serious, this one is a sort of shaggy dog story.  In other words, it’s frivolous.

Shaggy dog

Invariably when I meet someone new or am sitting round a table in a meeting when I am not particularly interested in the proceedings and my mind begins to drift, I find myself staring at people’s hands.  Are they clean?  Do the fingernails need cutting? Are the hands “pianist’s hands” or farmer’s hands”? And so on.  I’m not sure why I do this and as far as I can remember, I’ve always done it.  Maybe hands tell us something about a person’s character? Or their age? Or their general well-being.  I don’t know and am not particularly concerned.  I just do it, sort of naturally.  Occasionally I’ve photographed hands but it’s only a now and then thing.

My wife, on the other hand, being a dentist’s daughter, goes if not for the jugular then for the mouth.  And as I form opinions based on digits, she does so for incisors and molars. Did you see how undershot his chin is?  Don’t you think he needs to see a good orthodontist and have his teeth fixed, &c.?  


Naftali Bennett, Israel’s Minister of (re-?)(de-?) Education

Conversations between the Watermans when they’re on their own can be mesmerising when they get on to the subject of paws and fangs.

Anyway, to change the subject but only slightly, when I’m out walking the streets with a camera, I don’t really have time to check out hands.  You don’t have the time unless you stand over someone eating and drinking.

It’s heads that catch the eye when out with the camera— coiffures and headgear.  Some people are bare-headed, others capped, hatted or scarved.  Some are bald whereas others are hirsute in the extreme.  Some colour outrageously to attract attention whereas others shave just as flamboyantly to achieve the same effect.

Let me begin with a couple of hairstyles that I regard as “normal”, with everything else being an aberration (aberration because I am not so young any more).  

These are two American-style he-man hairdos — plastered and crew —except that the man on the right (the one with the crewcut) has eyes that are smiling.

For ladies, the two basics are straight and curly — although I’m not convinced that the “straight” in this picture actually is a lady.

Now for the anomalies or what I regard as such.  There are bald men (not all so old) and there are men with lots of hair (not all so young).

Then there are also those who for whatever reason, choose the bald look by shaving their heads.  Sometimes, it’s to complete a process in process, i.e., balding.  Other times, it is perhaps to reflect the sun’s rays.

Two bald heads

Sometimes, the shavers forget to complete the job — or choose not to, either considering the result to lend a touch of individuality or simply because they have followed a commandment to leave something on.

Partly Shaven 1Partly Shaven 2Partly Shaven


Of course, some go the other way altogether and stack it up into all sorts of fantastic shapes.

StackedSpecial hairstyles 5Special hairstyles 2

Special hairstyles 3

Ladies often do something similar but often add a splash of colour to heighten the effect.Gingers curls in the parkOrange curls (St. Jean de Luz)

Some people choose head coverings, which can range from slight to full.

This gentleman, a player of a Trinidadian tin drum, is evidently a cool-headed person.


Scarves look fine on the right kind of people — even men!

Some ladies look just right with flowers on on their crown!

Special models 1

Others have headgear for security or because the law requires it.

And some ladies prefer a wig—not always because they need to protect their modesty!


Some men have headgear because it really is stylish!

Caps 3

And then there are those who would prefer to hide what’s on their heads entirely!

But what I like most is the natural look that comes with very special people!

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(All images are mine — except for the two obvious ones —   taken in the past couple of years)


Down and out in North T-A

According to the United Nations, “absolute homelessness” describes the condition of people without physical shelter who sleep outdoors, in vehicles, abandoned buildings or other places not intended for human habitation. “Relative homelessness” describes the condition of those who have a physical shelter, but one that does not meet basic standards of health and safety; these include protection from the elements, access to safe water and sanitation, security of tenure, personal safety and affordability.Homelessness is a feature of urban life everywhere.  (Begin P, Casavant L, Chenier NM. Homelessness. Ottawa: Library of Parliament, Parliamentary Research Branch, Document PRB 99-1E.)

Going home?  In the park

Under the restaurant adjacent to the Daniel Rowing Club, Yarqon Park, Tel Aviv.  Ironically, the caption reads: “I’m going home”.



A regular in the mornings in the park near the entrance to Tel Aviv Port, always with radio at hand

We’re fortunate in that we have a place to live in, a bed to sleep in.  Not everyone is so blessed and it’s always heart-rending when you come across someone forced to sleep rough, night after night, to be a vagrant. Tel Aviv is no different in this respect to other cities although at the end of the city in which we live, there are not too many of these hapless souls.

When we moved here a decade ago, I observed several itinerants — all men.  I don’t think I’ve come across a vagrant woman in North Tel Aviv.  Most of the ones I have come across are to be found on benches — in the streets and parks.  Some of them are young and you wonder just how they managed to get themselves into their predicament.

Benches in North Tel Aviv

I feel uncomfortable photographing homeless people and beggars.  It’s strange how “beggar” seems somewhat unusual to describe a person in a developed country in the second decade of the 21st century.  It’s not a euphemism but the correct word to describe someone cadging money or other help from total strangers.  

Ibn Gvirol, Tel Aviv

Not all are on benches.  Some wheel their belongings about with them

Dirtiest of all

Some don’t  even make it to a bench

Begging at Carmel Market

At the entrance to Carmel Market, Tel Aviv


The dog is a prop — and a friend

(In a digression, it reminds me of a morning spent at the Institute for Jewish Policy Research in Wimpole street 15 years ago with representatives of National Opinion Polls, the company we were going to use to carry out a survey amongst Jewish households in Leeds.  Going through a draft of questionnaire, they queried the use of the word “poor” and suggested all sorts of variations on the theme of “disadvantaged”.  “Financially disadvantaged” perhaps, or “impoverished” or “needy” or “in reduced circumstances”. Anything but the good old English word “poor”.  It took until the early afternoon until they understood that the best word to describe the situation we were referring to was “poor” and that’s the word that went into the questionnaire.)

Anyway, to return to the vagrancy and mendicancy, is there a moral issue around photographing the predicament of people in such a situation?  It’s unpleasant and it feels uncomfortable, especially if you know that they are watching you photograph them, but there’s nothing immoral about it.  Homeless people are part and parcel of the urban landscape and if one’s project is documenting what the urban landscape is, then there is really no option!  

And anyway, cynic that I am, I’m unconvinced that all beggars really due the help they purport to need.  I remember that , I passed one individual who sat (or perhaps kneeled, I can’t remember) at the entrance to Swiss Cottage Underground Station in Northwest London for several years, hands together, palms up, with the most pitiable expression on his face.  I was guilt-ridden looking at him until one day, at West Hampstead station, two stops up the line, I saw him bounding across the road, smiling at everyone and greeting them, as he entered the station on his way to “work” two stations to the south.

In Tel Aviv, one homeless man in particular attracted my attention.  I photographed him on and off from November 2010 until May 2014 (but not, it seems, during 2012 at all, although he actually did appear on a Google Street View image that year!).  His territory was the small triangle between the apex where Ben Yehuda and Dizengoff Streets meet in north Tel Aviv.  In the beginning of the period, he could be found on a bench on Yordei HaSira Street, just off Dizengoff.  

Micha 1

The first photo, Yordei HaSira Street

Micha 2


In 2011, he alternated between the bench on Yordei HaSira Street, the steps of a building at 231 Ben Yehuda Street and a bench close to those steps.  Later on, he moved across the road to what became his “permanent residence” at 322 Dizengoff Street.  The Municipality didn’t make life easier for him when, a couple of years ago, it decided to place armrests in the middle of the street benches making it impossible to recline.

On May 31 2014, his belongings, such as they were, were on the bench but my homeless man was missing.  Ominously, a peach had fallen on to the footpath under the bench and the following day — which I didn’t photograph — the belongings were there but the peach had vanished.

The following week, as I passed by, the bench was empty and all was tidy.  He had vanished. 

Micha 6 (empty bench)

June 9 , 2014


I asked the nearby greengrocer if he knew what had happened.  His reply was that “they” had taken him away a week previously (when I noticed he was missing) — he hadn’t washed for nearly a year, hadn’t eaten properly, his legs didn’t work any longer — so “that he could die”.  It was obvious that his physical condition had been swiftly deteriorating.  My last photograph of him dates from May 23 2014. 

Micha 5

May 23, 2014

To my great shame, I don’t know his name.  We never spoke, though we acknowledged one another: he knew I was photographing him and I knew what I was doing.  He seemed to function “normally” until the end of 2013 and then there was very marked and noticeable deterioration in his condition. There is one photograph, taken in July 2013, almost a year before his demise in which he was observed carefully folding his bedding and placing the items on his bicycle, which seems to suggest better  days in the past.  

Micha 3

Memories of better days, perhaps?

An English friend wrote to me after I had sent him the photos, asking: “Could you not send them to an appropriate homeless charity ….?  Homeless people live and die too and your images are so gentle and sympathetic that they should be seen more widely”.  I contacted an acquaintance who worked at HaAretz newspaper to ask if there was a journalist on the paper who might be interested in the images and in following the story up and he gave me the name and email of one.  I established contact and she seemed interested.  And then “Protective Edge”, the 2014 fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza exploded, changing everyone’s priorities.  A fortnight into the hostilities, we were on our way to London and when we returned a few weeks later, I just never followed it up.

I was stricken with a feeling of remorse that I had done nothing except photograph this individual — even though for months I had really expected nothing other than this ending.  

To memorialize him — at least for myself — I printed a poster and hung it in my workroom so that I see it every day.  That was the least I could do.

Homeless in T-A

R.I.P.  יהי זכרו ברוך


… and now for something completely different

A still life is a work of art depicting mostly inanimate subject matter.  These can typically be run-of-the-mill objects, either natural (food, flowers, dead animals, plants, rocks, or shells) or man-made (glasses, books, vases, jewellery, coins, pipes, &c.).  Every now and then when I feel like being a little creative I photograph objects that might be construed vaguely to resemble still life.  It doesn’t happen very often and as I don’t have lots of photographic accessories, I tend to make use of natural light.  And when I’m satisfied that I’ve got something decent, it gives me a warm glow of pleasure.

Lily’s avocado

About seven years ago, when I started taking photos, I had half a dozen pictures of fruit and vegetables, which I had photographed in the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, printed and framed at size 60 x 45 cm and then with Vivien’s permission, hung them in the kitchen, where they have been since.  In the few years, I’ve added and subtracted from the original set of half a dozen and it’s been a colourful presence that we like and everybody comments on.


Lily at 2 1/2

Then, last March, our youngest grandchild, Lily, then aged 2 1/2, came in with her mother and looked at the pictures.  Their locations had been changed and she noticed straight away.  She then pointed out that there was a gap and told me that there was room for another picture and she was quite right.  I asked her what should be in the picture and immediately she told me that it should be an avocado.  I suggested filling the gap with a picture I already had but she stood her ground and said it had to be an avocado; she also insisted that I take the photo right away so that it would be there next time she came.  So what alternative did I have?  I went round to the greengrocer and bought three avocados.  One felt ripe so I cut it in half and put it on the breadboard and placed the breadboard on the worktop beside the sink and turned on the lights so that the light was directly above the fruit.  I then stood on the worktop (Vivien was out at the time otherwise it wouldn’t have worked, i.e., I’d have been told that at my age I shouldn’t be doing such things), took out my new camera with its lovely 56mm f/1.2 prime lens on, held it over the two halves and clicked.  It worked.  It was as much a trial of the lens as a present for Lily and the marks where the knife cut through it are clearly visible.


I brought the file to the print shop and the following day the print to the framer where it was framed in avocado green.  A couple days later, Lily came for a visit and went straight into the kitchen to look for the avocado.  I had actually moved things around a bit because the fit was better that way.  She noticed but gave her approval anyway and everyone was happy.


The polarized plant

A couple of years ago Vivien bought a plant and placed it on the top shelf of a bookcase on the east-facing wall in the living room.  Towards evening, I noticed that it cast a shadow on the wall, which I thought might make an attractive picture.  So I photographed from different angles and chose that one I thought was best.  But it was just another nice picture — nothing spectacular.  But I still thought it had potential and decided to work on it for a couple of hours with Photoshop.  I use Photoshop very infrequently and when I do, it’s usually just to use its artistic filters, nothing more than that.  I tried several and then felt that a polarizing filter did the best job.  Later on, I sharpened it and exaggerated the structure with Capture One, with the following result.  I haven’t printed this one — yet.

Polarized plant

The traffic accident

A couple of years ago, I was in London for a week and half on my own, ostensibly to write an article — which I managed to do and in double quick time.  As is often the case when I travel to London, I buy something that wouldn’t be worthwhile to buy in Israel because of the shipping costs.  In this case, I ordered four cup-mugs and three small pots from the Stephen Pearce Pottery of Shanagarry in County Cork, Ireland.  Vivien and I received our first two mugs as an engagement present 50 years ago and we’ve added bits and pieces over the years.  We’re not collectors; we use these lovely pieces on a daily basis.  I’d be lost without them.  But because we use them every day, there have been breakages over the years and several pieces still in use are chipped.  Anyway, by 2014, I decided that we needed to replace a few pieces, which were sent to London.  They arrived a couple of days after me in a large carton, with each piece wrapped individually in thicks wads of unprinted newspaper.  As I unwrapped each piece I placed it on the table.  But when I got to the last mug, I found that it hadn’t made the journey across the Celtic Sea in one piece but came in four pieces, two halves of a mug with a clean break and two shards.  

And then I looked at the table and noticed that I’d arranged the pieces I’d unwrapped in a semicircle with the broken mug in the centre—and thought that somehow, it reminded me of a traffic accident.  You know what I mean — when people stand around and gawk at the blood and broken bones while the emergency services try to get on with their work.

Once again, I called on the services of Photoshop, this time to blur the onlookers (those mugs) while the deceased beaker remained in clear focus in the centre of the picture.

Traffic accident


Soldiers on parade

I like regularity and symmetry — in pictures, if not on my desk — and have photographed early in the morning the preparations for the day’s business before the cafés and restaurants open in North Tel Aviv.  For some peculiar reason, salt cellars attract my eye, and I have lots of these seasoned veterans on file.

In the two photographs below, the first somehow called to mind guardsmen with busbies standing on a parade ground in London on a hot sunny day waiting for a ceremony to proceed.  It must have been a summer’s day, because one of the guards has apparently fainted and fallen down while the others, who form an essential part of the ceremonial nonsense about to take place, remain ramrod straight, apparently are taking no notice of their comrade’s demise.

It is patently discernible that the soldiers on the second table are from the Korean People’s Army, awaiting the arrival of whichever Kim thug is/was ruling the roost there at the time the photo was taken.  In a politically incorrect statement, the sepia hue of the photograph admirably emphasises the virtual provenance.


Soldiers 1

I thought I might fit more into this post but as I’ve overshot my ceiling of 1,200 words, I’ll keep more for the future.


One day in the life of …

Robert Capa: “If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” 

Just to give you an idea of how a chaotic day evolves and the earth-shattering decisions that I must make, let me provide you with a real-life example of a muddled brain.

It’s Friday morning and the alarm goes off at 05.57.  I listen to the 6 o’clock news although why I continue to observe this ritual is beyond me.  It’s usually a depressing start to the day.  At 6.06, I’m in the kitchen — coffee, toast, &c. and go to pick up the paper, though why I continue to observe … [ditto].  I notice that it’s neither raining nor particularly cold, the first bit of good news so far this morning.

By a quarter past seven, I’m dolled out in torn off jeans, a sweater with holes, a fleece and running shoes, although I rarely run.  Now comes the first big decision of the day.  Yes, I’m going to walk to the port (surprise, surprise) — but what lens will I put on the camera? 

This is a not unimportant question.  When I decided on photography eight years ago, a friend commented that it’s an expensive hobby.  It can be but if we estimate the half-life of a camera to be three or four years, then it works out about the same as a season ticket for a Premier League side or going on an annual skiing trip or such other activities.  The problem is that one tends to get caught up with “improvements and innovations” and the “need” to upgrade.  Of course, you can get along very well with the same camera for a decade and a single lens and still take very good pictures, if you are economical, parsimonious, have strong will-power or whatever.

The upshot of all this is that in the eight and a half years that I’ve been at this, I have been the owner of four different cameras.  However, I think I have now found my true love.  The purchase of the last machine was both serendipitous and fortunate.  I was looking for a camera that would both give me sharper pictures and weight less than the Nikon I had been carrying around.  The man in the Tel Aviv shop where I had purchased my previous camera advised me to buy a full-frame mirrorless machine.  I held it and it was indeed lighter but when I returned home and read the reviews, I realised that by the time I had bought a couple of lenses for it, it would weight more than the one I owned. 

A few weeks later, I was in London and I passed a camera shop near Euston Station that I’d never seen before and decided on the spur of the moment to go in just to see what they would try to sell me.  Again a mirrorless camera but not a full-frame one.  I looked and listened and held it — and then read all the extremely positive reviews.  

The following day, I purchased the camera.  I can’t remember ever having made a decision as quickly.  The camera came with a zoom lens, which provided flexibility from a fairly wide angle to telephoto but, as things would have it, neither wide enough for some street scenes I’d like to take not quite long enough for some things at the other end of the scale — and you all know what that means.  Anyway, almost a year on, and several thousand clicks later, in addition to the zoom that came with the camera, I now have a portrait lens and longer telephoto and a wide- angle prime lens (i.e., fixed focal length).  

This isn’t as wide as what I can achieve with the zoom lens but which has two considerable advantages over it — (a) it’s very light and (b) it is unobtrusive which, for street photography, is the biggest plus you can have.  People just don’t take any notice of you.

X-T1 + pancake

Anyway, to return to Friday’s story.  I decided to put this little 27mm pancake lens on the camera.  At this juncture, I digress yet again because one of the things I learned many years ago is that when you make a decision, you should never look back or regret.

Translated into photography and camera terms, this means that when you’ve decided what lens to put on the camera, you live with its limitations for that particular session.  In other words, if you’ve got a wide-angle lens with you, don’t try to photograph sparrows 100m away and if you’ve got a telephoto lens, forget about those fantastic street views.  In other words, save yourself the trouble of looking for pictures you are not able to take with the equipment at hand.  Just forget about them.

So by 07.20, I was off, though the park to the port to see what I could pick up for the day.  Strangely, and this is another slight digression, I find that once I have the camera with me and I am looking for photographs to take, I notice things that I would otherwise pass by and ignore. Pictures simply appear.  Sometimes, I recognise them as black and white even though I see them in colour; sometimes I see a caption before I take the picture. That’s the way!

So what did I find en route to the port with my little lens on the camera? The light was wonderful.  


I saw the parakeet from last week visiting its hole/home in the eucalyptus tree and although it was a little far away, the colours looked so good, so it was worth a try.

Friday 4

There were the ducks and geese and gulls and the exercisers…

Friday 0

… and the young lady on the exercise bike at the entrance to the port who’s there every day (I’ll have to ask her indulgence again one day next week because the lens didn’t do her justice.) 

Friday 7

It’s Friday morning, so there’s the Farmers’ Market in the port, which is always colourful and which always provides something interesting.  However, given the lens on the camera, I need to think a bit and I decide that today, I will mainly concentrate on people.

Nonetheless, there was a lovely pic of some Jerusalem artichokes.  

Friday 11

The light was so good that sky and sea were crying out to be photographed and I even took a picture of a hovering kingfisher, levitating, it seemed to me, forever.  I should have had the telephoto with me but remembering the no regrets resolution, I took it anyway and the result wasn’t too bad.

Friday 8Friday 9

Exiting the port, I set off for the fishmonger to deliver a portrait (sort of) to one of the employees who’d been nagging me for months to photograph him.  (At least he asked for a print of the photo.  Sometimes people give me their email and ask me to send the image to them but I can never understand people who ask me to take a photograph and then let me go without any further request.)

Friday 3

And on the way home, there were several other images worthy of my attention, one of which appears here.

Friday 13

Then it was time to go home, perform my ablutions, dress respectably and exchange the pancake lens for the zoom and the portrait lens and off to a concert in the Israel Conservatory of Music five minutes’ walk away, where the Carmel Quartet (Tami has been its cellist for all of its 15 years) is performing Beethoven’s Op.18 (4) and Steve Reich’s “Different Trains” for live string quartet and pre-recorded performance tape involving three string quartets and train sounds.  In this amazing piece of music, small more or less clearly pitched speech samples are literally imitated by the strings. I had heard it in Jerusalem on Monday and it’s such stunning and moving music that I wanted to hear it again.  I also thought it might provide a few pictures even though I know that the light in the auditorium isn’t the greatest.  Still, if I put the portrait lens on the camera, it’s fast enough to do a decent job though it doesn’t get close enough but if I replace it with the zoom lens and up the sensitivity on the camera, something fairly respectable emerges, with the quartet seated amongst cables, monitors and loudspeakers — a somewhat unusual set-up.

Friday 14

I also thought of taking some images of our granddaughters when they came with their mothers for dinner on Friday evening but having seen and heard their mood, I decided to wait until they were a little less frisky.

And so ended another day at Waterman’s photo studio, happy enough with what I can do with the Fujifilm X-T1 and friends.


On chaos and hydrants


My desk (or is it called a workspace these days?) is a mess.  No, it’s not just a mess but totally chaotic.  Just like my mind — completely disorganised.  It’s never really been otherwise.  Even in those far-off days when I had a schedule and thus a framework, things weren’t much better.  And in those even remoter days when I was forcibly anchored to a timetable, things were still pretty chaotic.  I never seemed to know exactly what I’d be doing in between those times when I was required to be performing some specific task.

And so it is now when I go out to take exercise and/or photographs.  I never seem to know in advance exactly where I’ll be heading or what I’ll be taking a likeness of.  A couple of weeks ago, while walking in Yarqon Park, one of my neighbours (a lady who until not long ago had been head of Israel Channel 1 TV news) passed by just as I’d taken a photograph of the river and asked me what sort of photos I usually take.  I had to answer her honestly but unconvincingly by saying “whatever happens to pass by the camera and looks interesting at the time”.  Which is really about it.  

I have always wanted to be neater and tidier and more efficient but apparently I lack the requisite will-power and self-discipline.  I wish I was able to define a project and have the discipline to follow it up in an orderly manner, culminating in a finely polished finished product.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work that way with me.  Unless, of course, I regard the Park & Port as my mega-project. But even choosing photographs for these posts is a pain in the backside because of the built-in level of mayhem that permeates by brain.  

I have 33,000 images on file and at least they are organised into monthly folders by date and partially catalogued by topic.  Every now and then, I decide that I must apply keywords and sort them into topical albums.  I actually get started and then — because the exercise is so absolutely mind-numbing — I usually finish after an hour or so, promising myself that I will return to the task later in the day, by evening, by tomorrow morning, by devoting next week only to that (which, if it ever happened, would reduce me to such an advanced level of zombiness that I would be even more impossible to live with than at present).

The outcome, of course, is that as I choose the images for these blogs, I find myself looking through if not 33,000 pictures then at least several hundred each time.  I know more or less where the ones I want are located but there are always one or two or three that I remember having taken — I even remember exactly what they look like — but can’t quite recollect exactly when I took them.  If I were more efficient, I might manage three blogs a week if not a daily one.  Aren’t you all the lucky ones, then?  Anyway, the upshot of all this is what I should write on this blog.  

So that being the case … I’ll say something about the second photo “project” that I undertook when I became the proud owner of a DSLR camera, eight years ago — an Olympus E-510.  

A long time ago, in the summer of 1978, when I was teaching summer school at the University of Toronto at the end of a sabbatical year.  My dear wife had left me on my own rather than wait for me to complete my duties and taken the children somewhere, I can’t really remember where but probably to Dublin but perhaps somewhere more romantic like rural Buckinghamshire, where her sister was living.  Somewhere in the midst of teaching, I had a weekend with an old friend from Dublin living then, as he does now, in Metro Toronto and who was at the beginning of a painful divorce.  We set off from Toronto, crossed into the USA at Buffalo, drove to Pennsylvania, and returned in time for classes on the Monday morning.

Four things stick in my mind from that trip.  First, we were met by an extremely officious US immigration and customs official who informed us that the importation of food into the United States was prohibited — we had four oranges sitting on the dashboard of the car.  Feldman, my friend, is (or was — we exchange birthday greetings these days) the type of person who cannot abide wasting food and certainly wasn’t about to yield it to some bumptious woman in a uniform.  So, after several refusals to cede the forbidden fruit, she relented somewhat and informed us that if we consumed it, we would be considered acceptable as visitors to the USA.  Even though we weren’t hungry and four large oranges were too much for two people, the deed was done and we entered the territory of Uncle Sam.  

There occurred a somewhat similar gastronomic experience on our return a couple of days later when the only place we could find to stay overnight before returning to Toronto was a Hilton hotel in Corning, NY.  Breakfast consisted of coffee and three pancakes, which were probably an inch and a half thick and overflowing a 12″ plate, to be eaten with dollops of maple syrup.  I managed one and a half and didn’t need to eat again for 36 hours; Feldman, unable to dispose of or leave food uneaten devoured what was left on my plate.  I cannot begin to imagine how full he must have felt on leaving.  

My third lasting memory of that trip was the smell of chocolate polluting the air in Hershey, PA — not that I ever thought that a Hershey bar was chocolate (that’s my upbringing, where Cadbury’s milk chocolate was comfort food, and that, too, doesn’t contain very much chocolate!)

Finally, I have a memory of photographing a roadside hydrant masquerading as Uncle Sam and it was this ancient slide that sparked my “hydrants project”.  


When I started photographing in Tel Aviv in September 2007, I had noticed the red fire hydrants and photographed some of them because they seemed to have “eyes” and a certain “character”.  However, I had just graduated from Apple’s iPhoto to Aperture for editing photos when I noticed that the Face Recognition facility on the application was recognising the hydrants as faces, and this is what prompted me to see them as such as I walked around.  It was all very exciting and amusing at first as I identified a whole population of these wonderful new street people I had “discovered”.  Nonetheless, after perhaps a year of photographing hydrants, I came to realise that, like people, the variety is somewhat limited and whereas at the beginning of the exercise, I was taking perhaps images of 10 or more hydrants daily, today,  if I photograph one a week, it’s a lot.


I’m looking straight at you!




Zelda, wrinkled but in charge of all her faculties.  March 2008


Zelda, alas no longer compos mentis.  January 2016

However, I felt sufficiently wistful about these silent creatures when I almost ceased to photograph them that I decided to commemorate them on the wall, directly opposite my cluttered desk.


Incidentally, I tend to see inanimate faces all over the place, which may prompt even more people than is currently the case to question the state of my mental health!

Smiling tree

Well, that’s it.  I did it!  I’m already well on my way to becoming a journalist because I see that I’ve managed to write 1,300 words (too many, really) and not said too much of any substance — which is always what makes me take much of what appears as commentary and opinion in newspapers with a grain of salt.  Deadlines have to be met and columns to be filled.

More about skepticism (and cynicism) in pieces to come.


My London Mornings

We are very lucky — perhaps privileged is a better word — to be able to spend time in London each year.  I suppose that since we returned to Israel  a decade ago after nearly 6 years in London, we spend between 9 and 12 weeks a year there.

As in Tel Aviv when I have to decide which direction to follow when I enter the Yarqon Park, I have a similar earth-shattering decision to make when I exit on to Parkhill Road, NW3.  Turn left, and I’m off for a walk on Hampstead Heath (with another similarly momentous decision to be made when I reach the end of the street in order to determine precisely where I enter).  Turn right, and I’m on my way to Primrose Hill and if I feel like it, continue south through The Regent’s Park to Marylebone Road and the West End.

The Heath is 320 ha of mainly common land, acquired for the people by the Metropolitan Board of Works, the precursor of London County Council. Parliament Hill was purchased and added to the park in 1888, Golders Hill a decade later and Kenwood House and grounds in 1928. Today, the Heath is managed by City of London Corporation.

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 11.43.01.png

The Regent’s Park, designed by John Nash, is one of The Royal Parks.  It opened in 1814 and covers 160 ha and includes the Open Air Theatre, the London Zoo and Queen Mary’s Gardens which features more than 12,000 roses of 400 varieties.   Primrose Hill is essentially an extension of The Regent’s Park, purchased from Eton College in 1841 to extend the parkland available to the poor people of north London for open-air recreation.  The top of the hill — one of six protected viewpoints in London— is almost 63 m above sea level.

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Probably about twice in three outings, I’ll turn right and head towards Primrose Hill.  I just love this park — not only for the walk that it affords but for the views and its ever-changing nature.  My usual time of day for this walk is 8-ish in the morning; sometimes it’s been earlier to catch the sunrise and sometimes it’s later.  The look of the park varies, depending on the time of day, the weather and the season.  It can be sunny, with lots of green on a glorious summer’s day when the trees are in full leaf; it can be golden orange as in autumn; it can be gaunt and grey as in winter.

My usual point of entry is from Primrose Hill Road.  From here, I look left (south) and see the footpath to the top of the hill, always worth a stop for a picture at any time of the year.  

Primrose entrance summerPrimrose entrance, winter


Primrose entry sunrays.jpg

Then the big decision is whether to climb directly to the summit to have that wonderful view across to the City from Canary Wharf in the east to Shepherd’s Bush in the west.

Primrose Panorama 10:15.JPG

From the summit of Primrose Hill, looking south

Primrose fog later in the day.jpg

Looking north to the summit of Primrose Hill

If I do climb to the top for the view instead of perambulating the perimeter, I can skip down between the trees to the footpath that skims the eastern edge of the park, where I can see the spire of St. Mark’s  church with the towers of the City in the background.  

St. Marks & City1.jpg

And, if I continue down the path, past the house of the 19th century photographer, Roger Fenton, I pass my favourite set of trees, which I have photographed in all seasons and in all conditions except when covered in snow.  

3 trees summe1.jpg3 trees winter3 trees, autumn.jpg3 trees winter sunny

From there, I can wend my way back whence I entered the park and admire the domed shape of Primrose Hill.

Primrose dome summer.jpg

Primrose dome summer1.jpg 

Primrose dome late autumn.jpg

Primrose dome winter.jpg

Or, I continue across the Outer Circle into The Regent’s Park, where again, I can choose one of two routes, each on a different side of the zoo, and which meet just before you reach the Broad Walk.  Continuing straight, I can get to Marylebone Road in ten minutes, the last five passing flowerbed after flowerbed.  

Regents Flowers 04.:10.JPG

One thing about The Regent’s Park is that even on a dreary day — and some London days can be really drab and dull — there is seldom one without a splash of colour.  Which is not too surprising, given the legions of gardeners employed in this splendid London public space.

Regents, repotting.jpg

Hampstead Heath offers a different experience to The Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill.  It’s a park but it’s larger and wilder.

Heath snow 12:10.JPG

There are paved pathways across the Heath and there are pathways marked out by the runners and the walkers (and their dogs, because it always seems as if there are as many dogs on the Heath as humans.  

Heath towards Parliament Hill.jpg

Heath Pond dog jump 10:08.JPG

Where one lives, it seems, determines which part of the Heath one frequents although the keen runners seem to cover the whole expanse.  Some people (and their dogs) walk on the Heath Extension in the northwest; others go to Golders Hill Park on the west side and yet others to the vicinity of Kenwood House in the north.  Everyone greets everyone else and even the dogs, usually unleashed, exhibit a civility that even among humans in Tel Aviv is rare.

I tend to gravitate to the area around Parliament Hill to the south of the Heath, where I have a view across London looking south or towards Highgate if I turn around.  

City of London Parliament.jpg

Heath Parliament Hill to Highgate.jpg

Not long ago, this view was dominated by the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral and then, it seems all of a sudden, a few years ago, St. Paul’s became overshadowed by the Shard, a 306 m tall glass tower capped by a spitz, located near London Bridge on the other side of the Thames.

Shard1 from Primrose 8:1:10St. Paul's & Shard from Parliament Hill1Shard2 from PrimroseShard complete

Probably the most enchanting images I’ve taken on both Hampstead Heath and Primrose Hill have been on foggy days where nature does a far superior job on the image than anything that Photoshop can manage.  In the case of Primrose Hill, the mist/fog was so thick on the first Sunday of November 2014 that the water just hung from the branches and the spiders’ webs.  It was, as the young say these days, awesome.  Really!  Images waiting to be recorded and the amazing thing was that I seemed to be the only one!

Heath Fog :2:08.JPG

Primrose dome fog.jpg

Primrose trees fog.jpgPrimrose brances fog drips.jpgPrimrose spider web fog fog.jpg

Depending on where I’ve wandered, I can return home by any number of routes — via Hampstead village, South End Green, Belsize Park.  However, as I tend to go out in the mornings and being of a reasonably advanced age, I “get a call” about two hours after breakfast.  This can be a problem as (a) the public lavatory at South End Green, the “natural port of call” doesn’t open till 09.00 hrs and (b) the “window of containment” seems to be getting shorter. Consequently, I have a well-developed mental map of available loos in the vicinity just in case — Starbucks in South End Green and Hampstead, the one at the Royal Free Hospital or the one beside the Espresso Bar in The Regent’s Park near Chester Road — where a few months ago they began to charge 20p for a pee (a high and unexpected level of inflation) and me with no small change.  However, as life would have it, a homeless man who was obviously well-versed the arts of the possible, instructed me in the art of overcoming the pee barrier and I did not have to hold my peace!

Loo, South End Green.jpg

The beautifully tiled and enamelled Victorian male toilet at South End Green: (no splashboard!

What a relief!