Quiet, there!! It’s hot outside!

When we relocated from Haifa to Tel Aviv in 2006, over 11 years ago, we moved into an apartment on what was, theoretically, a quiet street in a quiet neighbourhood, Old North.  I say “theoretically” somewhat tongue-in-cheek although compared to some other streets not too far away, the corner of Stricker and Shlomtzion Streets is fairly peaceful.  However, if memory serves me correctly—and it’s not as reliable as it used to be—not long after we moved in, the street to the south us, which carries several bus routes and is less than 200m away, underwent extensive tree surgery along its entire length and (with the exception of the buses) our “quiet” street took most of the traffic for several weeks.  It was noisy and as a certain Mr. Trump might have described it using one of his favourite words from his extensive and varied vocabulary, it was “bad, really bad”.

However, once that was over, we enjoyed a decade or so mostly of what we had expected.  Here and there, there was some building activity but nothing that overly disturbed the peace.  And then, just over a year ago, things began to change.  The pace of construction activity quickened; several lots were sold; several houses were demolished and new buildings began to appear as if from nowhere.  Initially, they were sufficiently dispersed so as not to become a nuisance but little by little, this has altered.  Within a radius of 150m, there are now five separate projects underway and several others have had planning notices/warnings attached to gates and lampposts.  

However, nothing compares with the laying of the new sewage, drainage and water systems under the street directly under the northern façade of the house.  This is a project that with a bit of luck will take until the end of 2017 to complete and the neighbourhood is anything but quiet.  To the contrary.


I  began writing this blog on the summer solstice. Just to add to the daily chaos outside the house, it also rained; raining in late June might be a commonplace in some parts of the world but in Tel Aviv, it’s a rare occurrence.  (This also made me think that it’s a “blessing in disguise” that the work is being done midsummer as otherwise in place of the dust which which we have to contend with at the moment, it would have been mud, which is infinitely worse.) And added to what has become normal chaos over the past month, one of our neighbours on the opposite side of the street perpendicular to the one that’s being excavated is adding a floor to an existing building, so we found posted to our gate a notice to say that during the following day, the street would have a visit from a crane and that, as a consequence, ingress to the street and egress from it would be impossible during the day.  Trapped, I think is the word that might aptly have been used.

Stricker block

Meanwhile, back to the channel on the north side of the building.  Having dug up our section of the street over the past four weeks and installed new sewage under where the street will once again hopefully be in a few weeks’ time, the small team of workers is getting down to the business end of things, with individual buildings being connected to the new sewage system.  As far as I can ascertain, this entails digging up gardens and parking areas in front of the houses, excavating channels, and laying pipes, as they move  eastwards across the street house by house.

Pits and things

Without noise-cancelling headphones, the din is pretty unbearable even with all windows firmly closed; the workers, in addition to being powerfully built physically also have strong voices to match, which they need to actually hear one another above the clangour provided by the machinery. 

The racket was becoming so unbearable that I contacted a helpline that I had been provided with some years ago by an old friend who advised me at the time—in all seriousness—that I should use it in cases of extreme emergency or excessive exasperation.  So finally after more than 12 years, I succumbed and logged in—not that it helped.  I was even more irritated having listened to the instructions provided than I had been before.  (You can click below and hear why.  However for those of you whose ears are not attuned to the accent or who can’t catch the words of wisdom and advice in a single hearing, you may have to listen to it more than once!)


Anyway, back to business.

Not long after we moved to Tel Aviv, I concluded that the best way for me to learn the city, or at least that part of it in which were living, was through observation.  As a geographer, you are taught that the everything starts with observation.  So I set out on premise offered by the aphorism by Dorothea Lange, the American documentary photographer and photojournalist who won fame for her work for the Farm Security Administration during the Great Depression.  (Her photographs humanized its consequences, while exerting a great influence on the development of documentary photography in the process.)  

Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 13.09.01.png

Dorothea Lange: Migrant Mother

Lange wrote: “A camera teaches you how to see without a camera” and having followed this hypothesis for a decade now I think it couldn’t be more apt.  Not only does it teach you to see without a camera but it also has a contrary effect in that while you are observing with camera in hand, you become oblivious to scenes and situations that cannot be captured by the lens you currently have on the camera.  On other words, if you walk around city streets with a wide-angle lens, you quickly learn to ignore things that that lens cannot capture, such as cat on a roof 50 meters away.

So starting with a borrowed camera, I began to walk the streets of the city and record my observations, examining the images to see what secrets they might yield.  During the first two months of this exercise, I took a very basic course in digital photography, which I completed and it stimulated my enthusiasm to get out several days a week with camera on neck and in hand. It was actually the beginning of what has been an ongoing project although I didn’t realize it at the time.

At the outset, I made a conscious decision to read only some basic pieces on the theory of photography but not to read anything on the history of photography at least for a year .  This was because I first wanted to see what I was doing and only then see whether it resembled, in some crude way, what had already been done by the professionals not to mention the greats. In retrospect, perhaps this decision hindered me and because I was curious, I met myself halfway and bought the BBC documentary series, The Genius of Photography, which in addition to being fascinating and enlightening was a stimulus to any photographic aspirations I possessed.

What has happened in the past 10 years is that I have been out and about most days — most mornings, in fact — walking the streets of North Tel Aviv (or to a lesser extent, Inner Northwest London), with camera, observing and shooting things that either interested me specifically or just caught my eye. “Out and about” is really a rather benign way of describing what I do and where I go. It’s a humdrum activity really, walking generally for 60 to 90 minutes, sometimes more, sometimes less.

In Tel Aviv, my most usual route takes me into the Yarqon Park about 200m from the house and sees me walking west to the sea, southward along the promenade known locally as Tel Aviv Port and then choosing a return route (not that the choice is all that broad).  Occasionally I do it in reverse. It’s about 5-6 km all told.   Now and then, I vary the route. I might walk eastward through the park or south towards the city.  Usually the walk is fairly brisk in between the stops to take photographs; at other times, it’s little more than a rambling amble or an ambling ramble.  I follow a similar pattern in London.  Turn right and head for Primrose Hill and Regent’s Park; turn left and head for Hampstead and the Heath.

As I’ve noticed and noted and photographed many different activities, I suppose that this sort of makes me a street photographer — except for the fact that I don’t really think of myself as a photographer at all. But as Susan Sonntag, another American writer and critic on photography, put it 40 years ago, the street photographer is a sort of flâneur. “… an armed version of the solitary walker reconnoitering, stalking, cruising the urban inferno, the voyeuristic stroller who discovers the city as a landscape of voluptuous extremes. Adept of the joys of watching, connoisseur of empathy, the flâneur finds the world ‘picturesque.’” The armour to which Sonntag referred, of course, is the camera. So I suppose that what I have become is a sort of photographic flâneur, capturing the bigger picture that is the city in small individual frames, sometimes related, sometimes less so — but which when examined together provide a wider picture of an active urban landscape.

Having written this, I can honestly only say that after 50 years as a geographer, I’m not sure what geographers are really supposed to observe. Perhaps physical geographers have an easier time than the kind I am or used to be with subject matters such as rivers and mountains, erosion and sedimentation, coastlines and waves, wind and rain, soils and vegetation, things are directly parts of the physical environment and are eminently visible. Consequently, when they take photographs of things that interest them, it’s pretty clear what images they should capture.

Human geographers are in more of a predicament. Looking at the professional literature, geographers are supposed to take an interest in buildings and other structures, so that when they photograph you might expect lots of images of dwellings and commercial buildings as well as physical structures such as bridges, freeways or parking lots.  Political geographers are interested in boundaries and borders, so you might presume that you’d see crossing points, barriers or flags as examples of their academic interests and pursuits. Rural landscapes — farmhouses, fields, field patterns and hedgerows and such things —might also figure in the human geography photo album. However, in recent times, human geography seems to place less emphasis on edifices and more on people and what they’re doing.

Looking through my pictures, there are relatively few buildings or barriers, bridges or freeways. There are many of urban streets and municipal parks but the emphasis in these pictures is less on the physical look of the street or the park and more on what people are doing there. I seem to have been attracted to people performing all sorts of activities in the urban environments through which I have sauntered. Does this say something about my predilections or that human geographers are really more interested in people than they often profess to be?  I don’t really know and, frankly, the answer interests me less than it used to do, for reasons that are clearly obvious.

At any rate, enough of this introspection and time for a few recent flâneurial musings.

Summer has well and truly come to Tel Aviv.  I feel for those people in the UK who suffered five consecutive days of Tel Aviv weather last week and took my hat off (yes, I wear one when I go out into the Tel Aviv summer) to the schoolboys in Exeter who, refused permission by the school Principal to exchange their long trousers for shorts because short trousers are not part of the school uniform, turned up the following day in skirts.  


Nevertheless, we have now reached the stage of no return in T-A; that’s it until October/November unless something really very unusual happens.  Four to five months of 30ºC+ and humidity to accompany it, as the song—and the singer—would have it.  

I’ve made an effort recently to escape the worst of the day’s heat by getting out and about by 06.30 but even then, the temperature is already pushing the mid-20s.  The saving grace at that hour is that the  shadows are longer and thus you have greater opportunity to walk in the shade.  Oh — and at that hour, the cafés and restaurants are, for the most part, not yet open so you get to see things as they are prior to business hours.


The heat affects people and other living things in different ways.  Some people cover themselves almost in their entirety; others, less so.

Gorgeous birdsSurfboard

Hot morning

Burning Bonce


For a start, heat exacerbates aggression but bellicosity has its plusses and its minuses.  You might well lose an ear or an eye when the weather becomes unbearable.



Patience, they say, is a virtue but the mynahs don’t have much of it, even when it comes to their relationships with one another (they cannibalise; at least the ones in Tel Aviv do) and in the heat, their aggressive nature is amplified.


I’m not very keen on you pointing your camera at me!

Mynah 1

I told you.  Leave me alone!  Get the &*$# out of here! Scram!!!

And the heat can lead to intense hallucinations, too, with the mynah seeing itself as a bird it had always emulated!  


The emu, meanwhile, is similarly afflicted.


The heat really does strange things to the mind!  Hallucination takes all shapes and forms.

So wide

I’m telling you, it’s the god’s truth: the cockroach was yea big!

Yes.  Strange things.  Are these people at prayer or are they doing something more worthwhile?



And who knows?  Perhaps that’s what they really do in there every morning under the guise of something else?!


Av Shalom Synagogue, 70 Bograshov Street, Tel Aviv

And you might as well start young.  This young man, it seems, reckoned that even at 8 in the morning, it was too hot for school. So he parked himself at the bottom of the ramp leading to the upper level car park at Dizengoff Centre in downtown Tel Aviv.  It’s obvious that he’s unconcerned that his parents might be at all concerned.  After all, his smartphone is turned on and they can always contact him if they’ve been informed that he hasn’t arrived in school today.

Too hot for school

And this is what happens to cars in T-A if there’s no covered parking available (that’s assuming, of course, that you can find on-street parking at all, a task that’s becoming increasingly unachievable) and you go away for a couple of weeks and leave the car parked on a tree-lined street.

A short holiday?

I missed the Gay Pride parade in the city 10 days ago but there are reminders all over the place.

Isra Gay


Finally, heat or no heat, you have to try and keep the city clean, this mobile stairwell cleaner believes!

Stairwell cleaner


Log and insect



I’m in a minor dilemma.  I’ve been writing this blog for 18 months now and have posted 108 pieces during that time.  That works out at one every five days on average.  I’ve written just under 160,000 words and displayed about 2,000 images.   When I started, I thought that I might make it to 20 before it all petered out.  Nevertheless, here I am, it’s mid- June 2017, and I’m still doing it.  And the question I asked myself then and raise yet again is “Why?”  Why do I do it?  Well, I can think of several justifications or excuses.  It keeps me active; it proves [to myself, at least] that I can still think and write and that I can create interesting images—at least some of the time.  Perhaps, more to the point, I can [usually] link the images to the text.  In other words, it allows me to validate that my mind is in halfway decent working order.

So what’s the dilemma, then?  Well, it seems that I’ve got blogger’s block, or some variant of it.  Anyone who writes regularly—whether it’s something light and frivolous or something denser and more serious—occasionally has to face up to this complaint.  There are novels that have taken a decade or more to complete; other authors have had similarly long gaps of time between books.  If I look at my own CV when I was an active academic, I discover that there were periods, such as in the mid-1980s, when papers were coming at the rate of one a month.  And then there were years like 1991 and 2001 when I couldn’t squeeze out a single thing—not that this matters any more in the slightest.

The only people who seem not to suffer from this complaint are journalists on daily newspapers who are contracted to write, say, 800—1,000 words once or twice a week or more.  Their income depends on their ability to create copy and when they encounter their version of literary constipation, they loosen up with their variant of a literary laxative—pressman’s purgative—cleansing their brains of whatever is causing the stoppage by writing what often amounts to little more than nonsense in order to fill the designated column inches.  Which is rather like what happens on occasion to a blogger I’ve become familiar with over the past year and a half.

But what happens to bloggers’ block when the blogger isn’t receiving any kind of payment  either regularly such as a salary or for piecework?  What happens when you think you’ve run out of ideas or at least of something halfway sensible to write?  Do you plod on and hope that your readers don’t notice that what you’ve written is any more or less meaningless than what you’ve subjected them to in the past? Or do you take a break until “inspiration” returns? And that, of course, begs the question of what sort of “inspiration” one needs to get restarted.  And would your readers realise that when you start up again you’ve been “inspired”.  

So, just take a deep breath and get on with the job.  Just a like any other old hack.

As there haven’t been any elections this week, what inspiration do I have to get this post started?  Mind you, there may not have been elections but there are plenty stories about inept and corrupt politicians doing the rounds, from Mrs. May’s “lack of courage” or “absence of empathy” when failing to embrace survivors of the London Inferno to President Trump’s tweets about being the subject of the world’s greatest witch hunt.  For a man who is meant to be savvy—shrewd and knowledgeable, having common sense and good judgement—to my unsophisticated mind, he seems to be painting himself into an ever tinier corner with less room to manoeuvre as time passes.  

What with this and stabbings in Jerusalem and what will inevitably follow, it’s all rather depressing, as the dog I crossed paths with in the park seemed to be thinking. I guess he might have had to endure all of the week’s news on radio, TV and Internet.  No wonder he looks the way he does.  Or maybe it’s just the thought of not having to be able to participate in an election in Israel for another couple of years — not that that would change much if and when that time rolls around.



If your nose was close to the ground & sensitive like mine , you’d look as happy as me too!

Then, outside the house, Tel Aviv Municipality continues its work of constructive destruction by re-laying drainage, sewage, water pipes and goodness know what else.  The work on our section of the street—just 160 meters—is due to be completed by the end of July but I’m at something of a loss to understand why it needs to take so long.  For six hours each day, from 6 o’clock until noon, a team of about half a dozen men operate diggers, bulldozers and other such machines the names of which I am unfamiliar.  They seem to dig a channel, shovel up the material to be dumped into a truck which carts it all away, lay a pipe and then cover it up again.  However, there was a call from the Municipality’s contact man this afternoon, explaining to me that these are but temporary working hours.  After next week, when Ramadan ends (the men are all devout Muslims and fasting from dawn to dusk), the activity will start at 7 a.m. and end each day at 5.30 p.m.  Oh well.  

As far as I can ascertain, there are four operator/drivers, one man with what looks like a blueprint of the planned work and two or three individuals in luminous yellow waistcoats whose job appears to be to prevent over-curious neighbours like me from actually falling into the open channel.  Strikes me that had they assembled a larger team, the work on the whole street could have been completed in two or three months rather than the year that has been planned?  But what do I know and who am I to complain?  Just a taxpayer, I suppose.  The noise of the machines and of the workers shouting at one another so as to hear and be heard over the noise of the machinery is enough to drive one insane but rather than go mad, I found a solution and why I didn’t think of it sooner is beyond my ken.  I possess a set of Bose noise-cancelling headphones, which I bought 20 years ago and rarely use.  Plonk them on the ears, turn them on and lo and behold, most of the racket has been eliminated.

Work continues

5 meters away from my computer


I had made a resolution that on my return from the UK, I was going to be a little more ambitious with the routes I chose for my walks and vary them more than I have been doing. Naturally conservative and more than just a little negligent, my resolve has been tested and so far I have failed miserably, for this being summer in Tel Aviv (and summer arrived unannounced some time while we were away) I really don’t want to stray too far from home.  Perhaps if I force myself to be out before 06.30 at the latest it could work because by the time a quarter past seven rolls around the temperature is already in the mid-20sºC and humidity approaching 90%.  Not nice.

Anyway, I’ve been following this family of waterfowl since they were hatched a couple of months ago and it looked the other day as if they were all ready to go their own ways and the parents looked decidedly as if they were about to encourage them to do so.  I’m sure they’ll succeed as they head off individually and won’t put all their eggs in one basket.


This morning, I decided not to walk through the park but to follow a route south through North Tel Aviv and came across these two women, one young and the other, well, older.  The younger one was on her way to work, I presume.  Well, at any rate, she was on her way to a car, parked behind the house.  In her right hand, she held the keys and in her left, she held what was missing from her feet.  I suppose she was in a hurry or simply just didn’t want to make noise and wake someone else up on leaving.  It was, after all, only half-past seven. 

Something missing

About half an hour later, walking along King George V Street, I noticed this older woman (and from her demeanour, I would wager that she might say that she was only slightly older than the woman above) who had already been to the grocer and put all her eggs if not in one basket then in one bag.  She appeared to be having immense difficulty balancing on 15 cm heels and platform shoes.  I suppose though, like a airplane, it was the forward motion that kept her up.

Not so young any more

Meanwhile, here we are in Start-Up Nation, a country staking its reputation and economic survival on hi-tech, when I came across this distinctly low-tech means of advertising coming attractions in the city.  She had a motor-cycle full of posters and paste to apply to them in other parts of the city.  I watched for a couple of minutes, thought it worth recording, and then moved on.

Lo tech

Round the corner from there, lies the nearest specialist deli to the house.  It’s on Ibn Gvirol Street and is run by a couple of Parisians, Michael Raphaël and his wife, Florent.  


They stock much of what you’d want from a decent deli — baguettes, smoked salmon, herrings, wines, a wide variety of cheeses (and not just French ones).  At last asking, he had three different varieties of English Cheddar.  This morning, while passing the shop window, I noticed this and it made me smile.

Drink Bordeaux

Finally, at an installation near King George Street, I came across this graffito that someone had scrawled across the base of the installation.  I wondered whether it had been written by a young university lecturer in the humanities who had been denied tenure or worse, whether the author was a university professor from the same institution whose department the authorities had decided to close for lack of enrolments.  Or perhaps it has a deeper meaning, in which case, perhaps one of my philosopher fiends (sorry: friends) might be able to elaborate.

Deep thoughts



Fancy that!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Out in Yarqon Park yesterday morning—at least an hour later than I should have been because summer is now here and 7.30 a.m. is too late to get started—I crossed paths with our former next-door neighbour from Haifa who said to me that she saw that I had returned from Election-land, something which made be rather pleased if only because it showed that she reads this blog. And that’s about as much as I had intended to write about last Thursday’s election debâcle in the United Kingdom.

However, on awakening this morning, I found that this fanciful conversation which might take place some time this week (or at least something like it) at Buckingham Palace had entered by brain during the night and all that remained for me to do this morning was to put pen to paper — or fingers to keyboard.


QE2 (a.k.a. E2R)      Well, Prime Minister, to what do I owe your visit this morning?  I was just about to leave for Windsor, you know.

MT (a.k.a. Mistress Theresa)       Good morning, Ma’am.  I’ve come to the Palace because I’d like you to invite me to form a government.

QE2     But there is a government and you are the Prime Minister!

MT      Yes, Ma’am — but last Thursday, we had an election and the situation is somewhat changed — even though I’ve told the people repeatedly that nothing has changed.

QE2     Yes, I think I read about an election in The Sun.  So, you’d like me to invite you to form another government. Umm.

MT      Actually, Ma’am, I’ve come for some advice on that score because I promised the people strong and stable government but I fell a little short of that. I know that you’re strong (forgive me for reminding you but you’re 91 and have been in office for 65 years) and as an avid horse-fancier, I know you’ve stables.  I’m just a vicar’s daughter, you know!  So you’ll be able to tell me what is the best thing to do!  I feel that you’ll understand the situation, seeing as you’ve seen off Churchill, Eden, Macmillan, Home, Wilson (several times), Callaghan, Heath, Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown, Cameron — and now my humble and loyal self, the unlucky 13th, it seems.

QE2     You know, Prime Minister, I’ve been thinking about that and I suppose I might be resigned to acceding to your request but I’d much prefer it if you resigned.

MT      Resign?  Resign?  No, I want to re-sign!  I have a majority in parliament — or at least, I think I have.  I’ve got the DUP on board—maybe.

QE2     DUP?  DUP?  You mean you want to dupe my people yet again?

MT      No, no, Ma’am.  The DUP.  The Democratic Unionist Party.  Northern Ireland, Ma’am.  They’re Loyalists!

QE2     Loyalists?  Some of them are just thugs in orange jumpsuits!  And you were Home Secretary for six years so you must know what thugs in orange jumpsuits can do to innocent people.  Most of them aren’t even Anglicans!  You realise, I’m not even head of their church!  And you’re a vicar’s daughter!

And I don’t demand loyalty — that’s what that man in the White House — the who you’ve said you’d like me to meet some time soon and probably have dinner with — is reported to have demanded. 

No, Prime Minister, I don’t demand loyalty or Loyalists.  I demand honesty.  I don’t think you and your associates have been altogether honest with the people of this country.  You fed them lies last year over the referendum and you fed them lies again this time around when you promised them “strong and stable government”.  And next week you have to start talking to those people in Brussels because of the untruths you broadcast a year ago.  So, you have the DUPes to support you. 

To tell you the truth, Prime Minister, when I hear things like that I get very IRAte.  You know, I met the late Mr. McGuinness a few years ago and we shook hands — twice.  He was really a lovely man even though I knew what he once would have liked to do to me.  No, I’m resigned to telling you a truth, Prime Minister, I’m not sure that I would like you to form another government.  I’m actually inclined to ask Jeremy to have a go.

MT      Jeremy?  Corbyn?  If you are resigned to doing that, Ma’am, I’ll be forced to resign as well.  Did you know, Ma’am, that he would like to abolish the monarchy and set up a republic here.  How could you have a Republic of the United Kingdom?  That’s gobbledegook, codswallop.

QE2     Well, you know what, Prime Minister, as you reminded me earlier, I’m 91 and have been on the job for 65 years.  I think I deserve retirement.  And, frankly, I’m not sure my son Charles is up to the job; in that respect he resembles you, Prime Minister.  Moreover, his sons can make decent and honest livings flying helicopters and fighting wars.  And I’ve experienced lots of things in my lifetime but I’ve never voted.  I think I’d like to be able to vote!

You know, I think I might like a little peace and quiet in my latter years.  My husband and I might like to retire to a Greek island (Philip would really appreciate that).  Perhaps Branson has a little island to sell us. And who knows, but the Greeks might decide, too, to leave the EU.  I really think I should apply for a British passport soon, don’t you think? 

MT      Ma’am, as Wimbledon will be upon us shortly, I’ll quote the honourable Mr. McEnroe.  “You can’t be serious!”

QE2     Oh yes, I am quite serious — and stable and strong.  With Nick and Fiona around you were insulated; with them gone, you’re isolated.  And if we’re in the business of quoting, I’ll paraphrase Mr. Cleese and say that it looks like you might soon be an ex-PM.  

By the way, which would you prefer, the block or the scaffold?  We used to be quite good at both.

Yes, a republic mightn’t be such a bad idea.  And I’m sure Ken Clarke would make a wonderful President!  What say you to that, Prime Minister?

MT      Oy vey!  Woe is me! Mayday, Mayday, MAYDAY!!!!!

QE2    Quite!  Lady-in-waiting!  What’s Sir Jeremy’s number?

L-i-W  Corbyn or Paxman, Ma’am?


But this is PhotoGeoGraphy and I’m duty bound to display some recent photographs.  

We arrived home late last Tuesday night and as we set out of the airport, I mentioned to the taxi driver that our street was due to be closed for infrastructural improvements and thus I wasn’t quite sure of the temporary traffic arrangements.  “Not to worry”, said he, “Waze will have it sorted”.  And so it was.

The truth is that our neighbour from across the road had forwarded me a photograph a day earlier of the balagan that two days of work had already brought in which a large bulldozer was in place in front of our bedroom window.


The following morning, I was able to survey the scene and learn something of living with this sort of thing.  The work is estimated to take three to four months, which I thought a rather long time.  But then I discovered that work begins around 06.00-06.15 and continues till noon when the team knocks off; there was also no work on Friday and Saturday to honour the dual religious obligations of the men on the job.  So if these are, indeed, normal working hours, then the ETA is probably about right.

Looking out of our living room and bedroom windows the following morning, things seemed even worse that they seemed to be in the picture I’d received the day before.

Weekend living room

And the view from the street is even less enchanting.

Drainage pipes

But at least they provided us with a dedicated parking space on the street perpendicular to where the work is taking place, which is more than most of the neighbours have during the weeks when the work on the street blocks all access to off-street parking.

Dedicated car space

Meanwhile, just around the corner, one of the three Illawarra flame trees is in full flower, always a delight to behold.

Flame tree

And so my early morning summer walks through North Tel Aviv pick up pace again.

Pre-breakfast rush

Awaiting the breakfast rush-hour at Tel Aviv Port



Ukulele playing at Tel Aviv Port


Red MP

Neighbour: Dov Khenin, Israel’s only Jewish Member of Knesset from the Communist Party.

And all this is a world away from the greenery at Primrose Hill, which although only a week has passed might as well be a year.




Here’s to the next time

I cannot believe that 50 years have passed since the Six-Day War.  I remember it very clearly; obviously it wasn’t yesterday but it doesn’t seem like half a century ago.  We had arrived in Jerusalem several months before, just a few weeks after our wedding so that I could pursue doctoral studies at The Hebrew University.  However, in the couple of weeks prior to the outbreak of hostilities, I had been a volunteer postman, delivering mail in the neighbourhood in which we had rented a flat when, at about 10 a.m. on a Monday morning, all hell broke loose as Jordanian shells were fired into West Jerusalem.  I ran for cover and spent the rest of the day and the best part of the morrow holed up in an air-raid shelter with what seemed like dozens of ululating women and screaming infants.  Then, four days later, the fighting was over and Israel found itself occupying the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights.  Has much changed in 50 years? Well, yes and no.  I’ll refrain from expressing what I really think about what the Six-Day War did for Israel and Israeli society but the country and the peoples (because the world of the Arabs—the Palestinians—altered radically as well) are still suffering the outcome of that round of hostilities with no apparent solution in sight. Perhaps I might say that a political arrangement between Israelis and Palestinians seems less likely now than it did this week 50 years ago, despite the fact that Mr. Trump seems to think that he can cut the deal of his life.






Anyway, we’re just at the end of a fortnight in London during which this country experienced callous mass murders in Manchester and then again on Saturday evening on London Bridge and the popular Borough Market—all in the name of God, of course.  The British people, as usual, reacted as you might have expected them to respond, with relative calm.  But when people decide to blow themselves up in a crowded area or drive a van into innocent passers-by and then attack unarmed people with knives, knowing that they themselves will be killed, what can be done?  In this respect, the “security differences” between Tel Aviv and London are narrowing with time.  A wonderful thought.

The weather more or less held up, with very little rain and temperatures in the mid-20s Celsius most days. And then, just as we’re about to leave, it  began to behave more or less as one might expect it to behave in the UK — the thermometer has fallen to around 14ºC, the wind is strong if not quite gale force and heavy rain started to fall late in the day.   Tomorrow when we leave it will be cool (understatement).  When we arrive it will be warm (understatement) for no such squally weather awaits us in Tel Aviv where, in our short absence, summer appears to have arrived with something of a vengeance.  The upshot of this, of course, is that on exiting the airport in Tel Aviv, even at 10.30 p.m., anything more than a tee shirt will seem inappropriately overdressed.

The election plods on here.  Two more days to go.  It will be interesting to see how things pan out.  Mrs. May gambled on calling an election so that she could increase her slim majority.  Opinion seems to be that she will succeed but not to the extent that she thought she might.  People seem to be election-weary if not entirely discontent with democracy and a general election in 2015 followed by a referendum in 2016 and another [unnecessary?] general election in 2017 is indeed enervating (and the Scots had an independence referendum in 2014, too). I don’t find either Mrs. May or Mr. Corbyn particularly inspiring as leaders and I really wonder if either them is up to the job of running a country, especially in such uncertain times.  But then again, I am unconvinced that Mr. Trump is capable of running his country either (actually, I am convinced — that he can’t).  Jeremy Paxman, the interviewer who skewered them both a week ago, wrote a particularly damning piece in the Financial Times weekend edition, which makes for unpleasant reading.

 In May and Corbyn, Britain has the politicians it deserves

In between posting on the blog and visiting family and friends (almost a full-time occupation, it seems), I did manage a day with an ex-geographer photographer friend again.  For the past four or five years or so, we have managed to meet up for a few hours, usually in Central London, for some chat and some photography. This time, we concluded that we needed to be a little daring and venture out of the centre of the city. So, at my suggestion, we decided to take ourselves to Highgate Cemetery on the other side of Hampstead Heath and have a look, among other things, at Karl Marx’s tomb.  

Ostensibly, the idea was not to photograph the tomb it self but to record the expressions on the faces of the visiting devotees. This is because in the pictures I’ve seen of this monument, it always seems to be thronged with the faithful.  So we paid our £4 entry fee (yes, an entry fee to visit a cemetery) and off we went in search of Karl, who we found after a short walk along a pathway dotted with the graves of several other deceased celebrities, some of them quite recently deceased— or to paraphrase John Cleese in the parrot sketch,  ex-celebrities.  

And suddenly, there he was.  Karl, accompanied in eternal afterlife by assorted family members.

Workers of the World

Sadly, however, the multitudes were missing and, in some way, I felt cheated.  Perhaps they only wheel out the masses on very special occasions.

However, the day was not totally bereft of interest.  It seems as if Marx’s groupies vie for a proximal location (yes, this is PhotoGeoGraphy, remember) in relation to Karl.  There is a dense agglomeration of small flat tombstones in the vicinity, which sort of suggests that in the world of Marxist acolytes, apostles, and true believers, you acquire posthumous honour and respect by after having your remains cremated, you or someone on your behalf, places a request (for a fee, presumably, as the cemetery is privately owned and run) to be located as near as possible to the master.  

En route to and from the place where X marx the spot where Karl lies, there are some interesting headstones, such as the one commemorating one, Harry Thornton, an ivory-tickler who unfortunately (for Harry, that is) died during the influenza epidemic of 1918. 

Harry Thornton

Or Patrick Joseph Caulfieldan English painter and printmaker known for his bold canvases, which often incorporated elements of photorealism within a pared-down scene.  Mr. Caulfield, who died in 2005, wished to make clear to all friends and relatives (and other curious onlookers) that he had really breathed his last and that he was absolutely and completely deceased.  Photorealism indeed.


As a final note to this grave post, on exiting God’s Acre (if that is an appropriate term for a place so revered by atheists), I noticed something that neither Marx nor his followers might have approved of.  But here the question remains (pun intended, by the way): are they referring to the way out of the cemetery or the escape route from this world to the next?  Who really knows?

Exit thru shop

Meanwhile, on the subject of signs, one of my faithful readers sent me a photograph following my last post (the last post, in this case, having absolutely nothing to do with passing away).  I thought it rather amusing but wondered if it might be fake news.

park bench

Well, it turns out that it is partially true and partially hoax.  There really is a plaque in some secluded part of a well-known but unnamed London park that says “In memory of Roger Bucklesby. Who hated this park, and everyone in it.” But there never actually was a Roger Bucklesby.


Finally, just a few images from walking around NW London with a camera around my neck.

I’ll start with one from what is becoming my favourite café, Gitane at 60 Great Titchfield Street — they produce the best coffee I’ve ever had in London and wonderful cakes, vegetarian quiches and biscuits.  And their salads await me on the next visit.  Moreover, it is über-friendly.

Blueberry & Lemon

Homeless people can be found all over central London although they usually try to find a doorway to hide themselves away.  This poor unfortunate on a busy Oxford Street in the middle of the day didn’t manage to or really couldn’t be bothered by what people might think or say.


I learned, according to the ad on the side of the taxi, that London’s famous black cabs now all accept Mastercard (amazing what a bit of competition can do).  I also learned that not all of London’s black cabs are all black (I actually knew this before but thought I’d mention it anyway).

Black cab:Mastercard

Walking through The Regent’s Park this morning, I espied what I took to be the Green Party candidate for the Holborn St. Pancras constituency.  However, as per usual, I seem to have been in error.

Green party candidate

Finally, on the same walk home, I passed a couple who sort of looked familiar.  Last time I came across them, they were busy voting in the referendum (or maybe it was the previous General Election).  However, from the way they looked today, it seems that they may have voted “Leave” last year, as their fur coats have the mange and in general, they look slightly impoverished, don’t you think?  The result of Brexit, perhaps?

Hump off, Europe, I'm voting

Vote “Leave” … and you may get … 

Brexit and impoverishment

… bedraggled Britain

So, so long London, come what May. And as Henry Hall, the bandleader from a long gone era, might have put it all those aeons ago: “H-here’s to the next time”!