London calling: the heat’s appalling!

We arrived in London last Monday afternoon, having been warned that Britain, like the rest of Europe (and other parts of the world), was in the midst of a heatwave, the likes of which have not been experienced for four decades.  As I start this post on Thursday, at noon, the shade temperature outside is 30ºC and is expected to reach 35º later in the day.  Unlike Tel Aviv, where there’s air-conditioning everywhere, in London there’s nowhere to escape to or from.  Three fans in the flat are working full-time around the clock but unless you’re seated directly in front of one, they might as well not be there (almost)—and how long can you spend beside the freezer section of the supermarket contemplating the choice between a packet of frozen peas or a tub of ice cream before someone observes you and all sorts of spooky suspicions come to mind?  Mind you, we should have been ready for it coming from Tel Aviv, where spring has long since vanished into history and summer arrived in all its sweaty glory several weeks ago.

DSCF2543Painted man

[Yet another] painted man.  Tel Aviv Port

DSCF2570On the river

A Tel Aviv mermaid, some of which seem younger from afar.  Yarqon Stream, Tel Aviv


In fact, there are even signs that autumn is approaching as dates ripen on the palm trees in the Yarqon Park.

DSCF2523Autumn already

As well was everything else, the heat can do strange things to your perception and imagination.  The usual faces I meet on the street are in the form of fire hydrants but every now and then, walking along the streets, one espies something else, such as this driveway not more than a quarter kilometre from where we live in T-A.

DSCF1149 Driveway face

And having mentioned hydrants, three new-born “watery neighbours” appeared last week on the exterior of the newly constructed external wall of a newly constructed building that has been going up between us and the park over the past two years.  They look so bright and shiny, so innocent and so interested in their surroundings but the ageing process will set in sooner rather than later.

DSCF2599Three new friends

At any rate, it was with some trepidation that we exited Terminal 4 at Heathrow Airport into the 2018 London heatwave last Monday afternoon.  Yet coming from Tel Aviv, it seemed like a pleasant day during that short period when spring announces its termination and summer declares that it’s getting ready to oppress us.  Of course, the difference was not so much in the temperature (the thermometer in the cab said that it was 31º outside) but in the level of humidity.  Having said that, it doesn’t feel like that today (Thursday)—and the forecast for tomorrow (Friday) is for slightly cooler weather accompanied by thunder and rain!  I’ll believe that when we feel it. (Friday afternoon— it’s just rained and made a lot of noise announcing the fact but all that seems to have accomplished is to have increased the level of humidity even more.) 

Actually, travelling from Israel last Monday was, in retrospect, something of a miscalculation as it was the day following Tisha b’Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, an annual fast day (one of several) for those in Judaism who go in for such spiritual self-flagellation.  Tisha b’Av commemorates the occurrence of several disasters in Jewish history, but mainly the destruction of Solomon’s Temple (the First Temple) by the Babylonians and the Second Temple by the Romans.  Consequently, it is regarded as the saddest day in the Jewish calendar (in which there are many sad days) and is regarded as a day destined for tragedy.  Well, I should have known better and I have to admit that I had been warned.

This year, the 9th of Av was in point of fact celebrated on the 10th as one of the prohibitions of the day (yes, you’ve guessed, of which there are many) includes the 25-hour fast, which cannot be observed on the Sabbath. If you’re into this sort of thing, it’s a really downright miserable day as fasting for 25 hours in the heat of a Tel Aviv August is no joke (I used to do it when younger and more credulous).  It’s the culmination of three weeks of mourning (mourning also being an altogether too frequent event in the Jewish calendar) the destruction of the Temples.  These three weeks begin—yes, you can guess it—with a fast on the 17th day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz, another summer day of alimentary self-denial, marking the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem by the Romans in 69 CE prior to their dastardly destruction of the Temple.  However, growing up in Dublin, these three weeks were referred to in Yiddish as the דרייַ וואָכן (drei Wochen), an appellation that the very young and tender me interpreted as a period in which no alcohol was to be consumed (remember, this was in Dublin!).  And the drei Wochen mutate into the נייַן טעג or the neun Tage(or as my younger self referred to it “the ninth egg”), a short period when no meat or poultry is consumed (as well as lots of other officially designated “pleasures”, all signs of acute mourning for the destruction of the Temples again), what you might well designate a Jewish form of mourning sickness!)  But I remember it as a time when lots of cheesecake and ice cream would appear from nowhere at any time of the day, causing a surfeit of cholesterol.  

So why was travelling last Monday something of an error of judgement, you may well ask?  Well, many religious Jews leave off travelling during the drei Wochen and begin their summer vacations the day following Tisha b’Av after they have drained themselves of tears and laundered their sackcloths. Well, I did mention that I had been warned and arriving at Ben-Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv at 7.15 a.m., it seemed as if Israel was about to become considerably more secular for at least a fortnight.  It was both a sight and a sound to behold.  The central area of Terminal 3 was teeming with people—mostly, from the shape and size of their headgear so-called modern Orthodox Jews, off to wherever in their thousands and with their children in their tens of thousands.  I have never seen such an amalgam of people all keen on making their duty-free purchases and, judging from the announcements over the PA system at the airport, almost missing their flights as a result.  


I suppose the gentleman in the photograph below sums up the whole cacophonous melée.  He is covered by his prayer shawl; his phylacteries are tightly wound around his left arm and hand; he is either reciting his morning prayers or reading Psalms, either or both of which may help him over his nervousness of flying.  But most importantly, he has already completed his duty-free purchases.


London is as she always is although a little hotter than usual.  And as I am in the habit of doing, in order to make myself sure that I am really here, I walk to the top of Primrose Hill to the north of Regent’s Park and then around its perimeter.  I’ve been doing this walk for 17 years and I have photographed it in all seasons and from all angles.  However, never have I seen it so brown and yellow.  It might as well have been renamed the Steppes of Primrose Hill.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Even my favourite clump of trees at the south-western corner of the park were looking a little the worse for wear.

DSCF2612 Primrose Desert

And walking around the neighbourhood, all sorts of interesting things appeared.  The area around Primrose Hill is, I suppose, arty-farty middle-class, the sort of place where you run into Alan Bennett or Andrew Marr in the local grocery store, Derek Jacobi in the local fish and chip restaurant or a ruffled and barely awake Helena Bonham-Carter taking her kid to school.  And what more to appeal to the artsy-fartsy middle-class than a new restaurant that offers them artisanal eating of high quality?  Or maybe the owners of this new eatery have been playing with words and cluelessness and just wish to fool their patients (sorry: patrons) into eating really heavy stodgy food?

DSCF2623 Pesantissimo

In addition to the bicyclists and the joggers, there are all sorts of other means getting around such as this one-wheeled scooter on which the rider (?) scooter (?) nutter (?) moves not at all and simply places his life in the greatest jeopardy.

DSCF2624 Mobility

And then, something you see really reminded that you are in England, the ultimate land of eccentrics (well, that’s my take), when you come across a sign that informs you that cultural mores and norms are different to those you’re used to.  In a post last March, I noted that a neighbour across the street in Tel Aviv had posted notices on the lampposts around the area that her pet cat, Mitzi, had gone missing and, as she was new to the neighbourhood, she might have been—well—well and truly lost.  And being me, I couldn’t contain that bright flare of sardonicism that flashed into my mind with the macabre thought that the hapless Mitzi might have unfortunately dropped into one of the many manholes along the street while it was undergoing its upgrade and was caterwauling her way through the sewers of North Tel Aviv in search of her comfortable basket in her comfortable home. In other words, I reckoned that the chances of anyone finding Mitzi, let alone bringing her home, were about nil.  So you can imagine my wonder at the notice on a lamppost a couple of streets away in Belsize Park!  Notwithstanding his protruding lower left fang and the fact that his owner seems to think he may have been chipped (or am I misreading?) given the price on his head and that the notice had been posted almost a kilometre from where old Hari had last been seen, his optimistic owner must be missing him terribly but thinks that everyone in NW London is an ailurophile.  Nevertheless, I reckon that with a price of £600 on his head for whomsoever finds him, Hari has a far better chance of being restored to his owner than his poor old cousin Mitz in Tel Aviv.

IMG_4496 2

The heat does do strange things to some people.  I observed this guy park his car along the northern perimeter of Primrose Hill and then don his walking gear.  Where exactly he was planning to go with all that liquid strapped to his belt is beyond my ken and I really didn’t hang around to find out for fear he might have extracted an AK-47 as well — but I thought it was sufficiently out-of-the-ordinary to record.

LON 07-08 2009 106The long hike

And, as I said, the heat does strange things to me as well and as I walked east in the direction of home along England’s Lane, I couldn’t quite believe my eyes and had to look twice before I figured that the soaring temperatures were making me see things that weren’t really there — which greatly relieved me as my own contribution had been involuntarily donated over 73 years ago!


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


The end of the world (as we have come to know it) is nigh? Perhaps?

I missed the news last Monday.  What with the World Cup and what generally gets reported and doesn’t get reported on Israeli news bulletins, I didn’t find out about the exit from the Cabinet of the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union until the following day, when I was informed by a Dutch friend of its happening.  The Brits, as often than not, will refer to a person’s class before reporting about him just as in this part of the world people get popped into some religious group or another, like: “Three children drowned on Israel’s beaches this weekend, two Jews and one Muslim”, as if that were of any importance.  So, in keeping with tradition, Mr. Davis, a Conservative of working class origins, relatively sane, but for his sins, a true believer in the benefits of Britain leaving the European Union whatever the cost—hard Brexit—did the right thing and resigned from the government rather than go along with the Prime Minister’s ideas for a “soft[er] Brexit”.  A minister resigning from government over an issue on which s/he strongly believes is fairly standard practice in civilised countries but is an event almost unheard of in Israel.  

Mr. Davis, once described by a Conservative colleague who preferred to remain anonymous as “the only man I know who can swagger while sitting down”, was followed the next day by his non-ideologue colleague, the now ex-Foreign Secretary, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, a.k.a. Boris to one and all, Al to family & friends, and Kerfuffle just to me, who could hardly have stayed in once Mr. Davis had gone, given that he fancies himself as a future Prime Minister—but only after the Brexit episode has terminated.  Boris, a person for whom the word “opportunist” must surely have been invented, now finds himself freed of any responsibility to anything or anyone but himself (so what’s new?), leaving the politics of the United Kingdom well and truly—in gross understatement—in a shambles, as if it hadn’t been before.  As one pundit put it at the beginning of last week, “The trophy might be coming back to England but there’ll be no cabinet for it”.  Well, as we now know, that’s didn’t happen either so the absence of a cabinet wouldn;t have been noticed.

And then suddenly, I was reminded of a song by Noël Coward that sort of sums up the whole messy situation and I’ve included the lyrics for those of you hard of hearing or otherwise unable to follow Mr. Coward’s patter.

Stately homes of England

And related to Brexit was the state visit of the President of the United States to the United Kingdom.  For the past two years, Trump has expressed his opinion that Brexit is a great thing, something that should be vigorously supported as a precursor to the eventual dismemberment of the European Union.

On his visit, he gave an extraordinary interview to the Sun newspaper, owned by one Rupert Murdoch, an intervention in which he said that Theresa May ignored his advice by opting for a soft Brexit strategy and warning her that any attempts to maintain close ties with the EU would make a rewarding trade deal between the United States and the United Kingdom very improbable, stating that “If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the UK, so it will probably kill the deal.”  So, he told her she should sue the EU and then on Sunday, prior to meeting his Putin in Helsinki, he declared that his highly awkward meeting with NATO last week was a “great summit” and then described the European Union as a “foe”, statements that only suggest (suggest, mind you) that Trump is not only working with Putin to achieve the dismemberment of the EU but is actually working for him.  

LON 11 2015 140 Boris with handler

Donald being groomed prior to his meeting with Putin



Vladimir Vladimirovich himself


I look forward to the continuation of Mr. Mueller’s good work (sorry, witch hunt for fake news).

And as if all that wasn’t bad enough, he virtually gave Boris Johnson his blessing.  “I have a lot of respect for Boris … He obviously likes me [that’s very important to The Donald (SW)] and says very good things about me [that’s even more important (SW)] … I am just saying I think he would be a great Prime Minister. I think he’s got what it takes.”  At least he dumped Farage for Boris!

So one former narcissistic and bullying TV star with an unconventional hairstyle, one who famed for his lax preparation prior to meetings, leading on more than one occasion to diplomatic blunders, endorses another—and on the other’s home ground, as it were.  That’s pretty incredible, except for the fact that it happened.  

They are quite different, of course.  Boris likes to quote from the poetry of Ancient Greece, a fact that would not make many inroads into the brain of a golf-playing real estate top banana not known as a bibliophile.  Quoting Greek poetry obviously prepares him more than adequately for the job of leading his country in the 21st century—or it might if he were negotiating Greece’s exit from the EU.  Another difference between Trump and Boris is that whereas the former makes judgments and opinions based on his sixth sense, Boris has schemed for years about how to wheedle his way into becoming Prime Minister.

LON 07 2012 99 Wolf in Sheep's clothing

Boris strolling on Hampstead Heath

I can’t imagine that the championing of his cause by Trump will do him much good however, as the American President is apparently not a widely liked figure in Britain, as the protests to his recent visit there made quite clear to everyone except Mr. Trump himself who believes, intuitively, that the British people love him and in a world of fake news, all that matters is what Mr. Trump thinks and feels not the facts.

T-A 04 2012 70 Piss on the world

America First! (This is what I think of the rest of the world!)

I could go on and on about these things or about the World Cup or Wimbledon but I’ll leave it at that. In the last post, I offered some photographs that had appeared in the blog and that I thought might be worth posting again accomanied by some short comments.

Almost 52 (!!!) years ago, aged 21 apiece, we had a honeymoon in the West of Ireland. Recently graduated with a B.A. in Geography from Trinity College Dublin and armed with my first proper camera (a Canon Rangefinder, which replaced my Kodak Instamatic), we set off from Dublin for Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Donegal and back, all in the space of a week. As a geographer, I thought I was supposed to keep my eyes open and observe the landscape—as well as on my newly wedded spouse—and photograph things that seemed of interest.  Thus, the two photographs that follow, which demonstrate the difference between the traditional cottages in the east of the country and those in the west.  The differences are quite stark and are there to be seen with hipped roofs prevalent in the east and gable-ended stone dwellings in the west.

Slides010 (pre-2001) Eastern cottage Ireland.jpg


Slides009 (pre-2001) Mayo 1966


Around the same time although it could be three or four years later (I cannot find the transparency on which I would have noted the details and when I scanned it, I neglected to write them down) nor can I remember the location, I photographed the remains of a tree trunk.  I suppose that what attracted my eye to this scene was that I saw three men having what I could only describe as a deep discussion about some important issue of the day.  Looking at it again half a century later, it might be three men discussing the outcome or the prospects for the World Cup Final after emerging from the shower at the swimming pool.  Either way, it doesn’t resemble a tree very much.

Talking trees (pre-2001)

Almost 11 years ago, I took a photography course to familiarise myself with digital cameras.  I had paid in advance for seven “field days” and seven evenings of instruction in a studio. As we’d been away, I’d missed the first studio class earlier in the week so I caught up with the group on a Friday morning at the Suzanne Dallal Centre in South Tel Aviv, using a camera I had borrowed from my daughter Tami—I didn’t have a decent one at the time—and had no idea what was expected of me this particular morning.  I think I had expected to have been given specific instructions and then follow them.  Instead, the meeting went something like this:

Itzik Canetti (The Instructor): Off you go to photograph.  

I:  But what should I photograph? 

Itzik: Whatever you see that appeals to you.

I:  But of what? And where?  

Itzik:  Whatever you see that appeals to you.  And if you encounter a problem in the next three hours, well, I’m here to help

I (thinking):  And I’ve paid this guy money for this!!!

Itzik Canetti is a fine photographer and wonderful person but I thought there was something absolutely screwy with his didactic and pedagogic skills! (I didn’t realize then how wrong I was.)  How on earth was I supposed to know what to do, where to go and how to do it?

But I had been given an assignment and had three hours to complete it, and with no desire to drop out on the first day though I must say that I felt somewhat cheated, off I went — without a clue as to what I was doing and why!  

The first picture I took on this assigment was the one that appears below.

DSCF0649 First photograph, first photography course

I like symmetry and a few weeks before I started the course I’ve just referred to, I spent a weekend with my other daughter Shuli in the Loire Valley.  One of the places we visited was Château de Villandry near Tours.  This was symmetry gone mad, something to be seen to be believed.  So I saw — and photographed with the little Pentax Optio camera that I had at the time.

Loire 2007Q3 8 Villandry

Part of the expectations at the same introductory course in 2007 was that we would get used to the idea of taking lots of photographs close to home during the week then choose half a dozen or so to bring to the studio in midweek and have them rubbished by your colleagues on the course.  This was when I started to walk mornings through the Yarqon Park to Tel Aviv Port.


I watched this guy for some time on the beach near Tel Aviv Port holding the fish (from where he caught it, I have no idea because in 11 years taking photos in the same area, I’ve seen lots of anglers but less than half a dozen catches.  He would hold the fish so that the egret could see it.  The bird would take four or five steps in the direction of the fish and the man and then retreat.  I watched this game play out eight or nine times until the egret finally lunged and got what it wanted all along.  When the game was over, the guy spotted me and to say that he was unhappy that I had shot him and the bird was gross understatement.  But like the egret, I had got what I wanted.

And around the same time, I took this informal portrait at Tel Aviv Port.


Street photography involves lots of informal portraiture.  On a field trip in Tel Aviv some years ago, I spotted this couple having an intense discussion.  One was seated and the other reclining on the footpath in central Tel Aviv and only had eyes and ears for one another. I have no idea whatsoever what they were talking about, but whatever it was , it was serious.  I thought it made an interesting photograph.


There’s no real need to explain what drew my eyes to the next picture.  I had spotted the gaudily coloured balloons from some distance but it was only when I drew close that I noticed that they were attached to the young woman who had them for sale.


On a trip to Andalucia and Portugal a decade ago, we visited Sagres in Portugal, the supposed site of the Nautical School established by Prince Henry the Navigator and from which he initiated the Portuguese “Great Age of Discovery”.  I say “supposed” because the promontory of Sagres was hardly a place from which such a major event would start and the centre of Henry’s operations was further east along the Algarve coast.  While walking around this spectacular site, my eye was drawn to a small detail in one of the fields around about and which yielded this lovely image.


And on that same trip, in Cordoba, there was this picture of a nun taking in the day’s provisions at a convent.


In my last post, I included one image of a ménage-à-trois from a footpath in Belsize Park in London (snails).  This time, I give you one taken while walking down Ibn Gvirol Street, a major north-south drag in Tel Aviv.


And just for a moment to return to our own street in Tel Aviv.  Work began on the street infrastructure on May 29 2017 and finished—or so we thought—about a year later.  All that was missing was a visit from the Israel Eelctric Corporation to finish their job of erecting new street lights, connecting them to the new underground cables and removing the overhead cables that blight the street.  The IEC, however, is a law unto itself and two months after the contarctors who had worked on the street for a year had left, they turned up to complete the job so that the contractor can get on with the final piece of work, which is laying a new surface the length of the street.

I watched them work over the two days they were outside our house and while we sweltered with no electricity (no air/con, no fans, no elevator) for eight hours each time. The younger workers did the dangerous work while an older guy sat himself on a chair and alternately barked at the guys up at the top and at people who deigned to call him on his cellphone while he kept himself well hydrated.

DSCF2424 ElectricityDSCF2422 Foreman?DSCF2427 Foreman?

Finally, while going through my older photos, I couldn’t resist this one that I took in the Italian resort of Como a few years ago.  It’s an in-joke (Jewish Israeli) so I’m not sure whether anyone unfamiliar with the politics of religion in Israel would understand it but if you don’t and would like to know what’s amusing, drop me a line and I’ll try to explain. It’s not too difficult to fathom that the road sign is a warning that there are humps (“sleeping policemen”) up the road,  However, when I read the caption under the graphic, something else came to mind.


Overweight Reform Rabbis ahead


And now for something completely different

I was at a bit of a loss about what to write this week.  This World Soccer Cup, the Mondial, has totally failed to ignite my interest.  It seems to be more like a giant wrestling and shorts-and-pants-tugging competition as much as anything else.  Thus far, I haven’t watched a single match although I have recorded some and if they happened to have an interesting result then the following day, I check when the goals were scored and watch the two minutes leading up to the goal and then fast forward as soon as the hugging and kissing begins.  Zapping from channel to channel, all there seems to be is football although Wimbledon has started and we can see some of that instead.

I suppose that the one thing I can be thankful for is that for the past three weeks, the nightly news bulletin on Israel Channel One has begun with the day’s events in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi or wherever and it’s as if the rest of the world news has disappeared almost entirely.  That’s a plus.  As far as I can see, the Mondial has provided Israel Channel One’s TV reporters to alternate in what seems to me to be just one big junket in which they interview people who have travelled to Putinland to support this team or another and in which they talk to people with faces painted all shades of the rainbow and then more, spritzing verbal inanities at the camera, usually with a few more technicolored idiots waving behind them and jumping up and down—as if somehow the world will recognise them and they become famous as a result.

There you are, then.  It seems as if I’m suffering an acute bout of an overdose of grumpy old man syndrome so I’d better get a move on.

Colour wheel.png

So what do I write about this week? Obviously, not football and equally obviously not tennis either.  I suppose I might say something about the prolonged heatwave that’s afflicting Europe but as our prolonged heatwave will last another four months, all I can say is “Welcome to Hothouse Earth”.  The politicians in various parts of the world have been relatively subdued, if not altogether quiet—or at least their inanities and lies have taken second place to 22 clowns kicking a ball about—but as I have taken to turning off the news broadcasts as soon as Mondial news starts, which means almost as soon as the bulletins start, there hasn’t been enough to get my dander up.  I suppose some of you might be saying at this stage something like “Well, if he’s nothing to say, then he should say nothing” but then to stop after less than 500 words would be breaking my own record and I do try to get a post up once a week or thereabouts…

Then yesterday, while sitting at the computer and waiting for some inspiration, I took a deep breath and it came to me.  I forgot that some while ago, I had set the screen saver preferences on the desktop to show all the images I’ve displayed in this blog over the more than 2½ years I’ve been doing it.  And as I sat there, I thought that I might just choose a small selection of pictures that I’ve used before and which I particularly like and just add a short comment or two about each as I go along.  

There were also some photos that floated across the screen about which I had completely forgotten so I thought that first of all I should have a look and see how many images I’ve actually displayed in the 154 posts that have preceded this — and to my utter amazement, it turns out that there are over 3,000!

So here goes.  They’re in no particular order except that they go from oldest to most recently displayed (more or less).

I took the photograph below nearly 10 years ago as part of a course in which I was participating in order to become more familiar with the basics of a digital camera and what you could do with it that you couldn’t do with analog cameras that used film.   I was out in the Yarqon Park one morning when I photographed six gulls perched on the crossbar of a temporary structure used for mooring small boats.  There’s a copy in our living room (and there’s another in the seminar room of the Department of Geography at the University of Haifa).  I’m always amazed how it seems to attract the eyes of visitors and what they’re all looking for is the almost invisible line dividing the structure and birds from their reflections in the water.  If you look carefully you can just about discern it.

What I find interesting about this picture is that in photographic terms, just about everything about it is wrong.  For a start, I had the white balance set for fluorescent light because the previous time I had used the camera that was the setting that I needed.  That’s why there’s a bluish tinge to the photograph, a bluish tinge that didn’t exist and which I’ve never seen.  I also cropped the image quite heavily; you can just about see the tip of the oar of the rowing boat in the top right-hand corner of the image that was passing by and which I hadn’t noticed when I was taking the photo.  But the composition is pretty good and the picture only goes to show that what’s important is the end product and not necessarily how the finished article has been reached. 

Where's the Line? 1.jpg

A few weeks later, I was in the park again near Tel Aviv Port.  The camera was set to take pictures in black and white and I was playing around (“experimenting”) to see what I could do without colour.  I happened to look upwards in time to see this crow swoop out of the sky and catch the overhead wire.  This was no accident and it was not a case of the bird almost being killed.  On the contrary, it was quite deliberate, for having caught the wire, it did three backward somersaults before flying off again.  I didn’t have time to change the setting on the camera so I just aimed (and given that my aim most of the time is not great, I was lucky in the extreme) and clicked a few times and hoped for the best.  This was the best of the bunch.


The acrobat

One Friday last year, I passed through the Farmers’ Market at Tel Aviv Port (as I do most Fridays) and am attracted by the array of fruit and vegetables there, by their colours and by their shapes.  I photographed some mushrooms that were on display because I liked the shapes.  Then when I got home and uploaded the pictures to the computer and began the process of editing, I found that this picture (far removed from what I had seen—except for the shapes— made a far more appealing image than the real thing—which only demonstrated to me once again that what really matters is the finished article and not so much how you got to it.


Mushrooms in Satin

Usually, one the first things I do when we get to London is to walk to Regent’s Park via Primrose Hill.  It’s only when I get to Primrose Hill and reach the summit and look down upon the city that I feel that I’m in London.  The park at Primrose Hill is just an extension of Regent’s Park and there’s a clump of trees close to the southwestern corner of the park that I like to photograph in different lighting conditions at different times of the year.  Here they are (top to bottom) in spring, summer and autumn.

Three trees winter 1Three trees summerThree trees fog 3

From the placidity of Primrose Hill in the autumn to the heat of Tel Aviv Port in summer.  The crows are a noisy nuisance and as far as I can see, they rule the roost in Yarqon Park.  One morning about four years ago, I had reached the southern end of the port when I came across this pair taking turns at enjoying their breakfast.  Most of the people who look at this photo say “yuck” in disgust.  However, I think that it simply shows what one has to do to stay alive in the absence of supermarkets or online food shopping.  And as they’ve disposed of a verminous rodent, perhaps one should be grateful for the job they’ve just accomplished—rather like how we should regard the people who clean the park after the visitors have scattered their garbage all over the place or those who are responsible for collecting our garbage several times a week.

Rat for breakfast

And while on the subject of birds in the park, I was lucky enough to be on a bridge over the stream a few years ago with the camera when I spotted this kingfisher hovering, diving and re-emerging.  This went on for quite a while so I worked my way down to approximately where I reckoned it would be prior to a dive and this is what resulted.

Kingfishers 2

Below is another picture that is on the living room wall.  While exiting Hampstead Heath towards East Heath Road one day in July 2011, I saw these two figures. They might have been father and daughter. The scooter suggests that she may have fallen and was being comforted. The truth is I just don’t know. What I did know was that although I saw the scene in colour and photographed it in colour, as soon as I saw them there, I knew that it just had to be in black & white. Then when I put it up on the computer screen, I knew I was right as the colour photograph was nothing special; it wasn’t even remotely decent. However, once I desaturated the colour and strengthened the contrast, it was immediately converted into a powerful image that suggests things that may—or may not —have been.

Man & Child, Hampstead Heath


Occasionally, I have posted pictures that include family members in them—at my own risk, I might add.  I have three children—all now in early middle age (that sounds just awful)—and all involved in music.  The hand in the picture below belongs to the violist in the family and we’ve been watching this hand since it was tiny.  It makes a lovely sound on an instrument that dates from 1599.  The picture under it shows the hand (attached to the violist) with the instrument at the Verbier Festival in 2007 when the Aviv String Quartet performed the 15 quartets by Dmitri Shostakovich over a week and a bit.  For the last four concerts, Irina Supinskaya (Mrs. Shostakovich, Mark III) was in the front row of the audience.  After a performance of the ninth quartet, Shuli mentioned that it was one of the most nerve-wracking concerts she had ever played.  I was astounded as they had performed this piece probably more than any other in their repertoire and I said so.  The immediate response was that yes, this was true but when the dedicatee of the piece was seated 2½ metres from the viola and knew every note, it was scary.

Viola fingers


Irina Shostakovich (center) with The Aviv String Quartet (Shuli Waterman, Evgenia Epshtein, Sergey Ostrovsky & Rachel Mercer)  Verbier, Switzerland, 2007

While on the subject of music, I have had the privilege to photograph the Arthur Rubinstein Piano Masters Competition twice (2014 and 2017).  The first time around, it was the best photo workshop I could have wished for though I’m not sure I’d want to do it again in 2020.  Anyway, towards the end of the 2017 competition, I decided to attend the rehearsals of the finalists with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and as unlike the situation during a concert, I was able to move around.  I was watching the eventual winner of the competition, Szymon Nehring, discussing the finer points of the concerto he was to play (Rachmaninov’s 3rd) with the conductor, Omer Meir Welber and thought that the concentration on the pianist’s face, with the conductor out of focus in the background, made for a nice picture.  And as it appeared in the programme of Nehring’s Wigmore Hall debut seven months later (without acknowledgement but I didn’t really care), they obviously thought so, too. 

Szymon Nehring in rehearsalin rehearsal 1


As you must by now be aware, I occasionally photograph fire hydrants (and believe it or not, I will be ready with a draft of an album/book of hydrant images by the end of the month for you all to read and comment on should you so desire).  Sometimes, the caption springs to mind before I’ve even taken the photograph, as was the case with the image below.


Which twin has the Toni?

Screen Shot 2017-10-23 at 11.26.58

When you’re out in the city looking around for things to photograph, you need to keep your eyes open and not necessarily looking straight ahead.  Sometimes, the most interesting things are not at eye level at all but on the roofs of buildings.  And sometimes, you catch entertaining items when you look down at the pavement.  The sort of thing that appears in the picture below used to appear stuck on to the walls of public telephone booths but as the public telephone booth has almost become a thing of the past, the best way to advertise one’s wares and the services one is offering is to walk the streets (after dark, presumably) and scatter them about in the hope that some lonely gentleman might pick one up and act on an impulse—or something else (as was the case with this calling card on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv). [And is says specifically on the bottom left of the card above the 052 “without sex”—so there you are, those of you who thought otherwise.  You can look but mustn’t touch!]

No sex 1

For looking only!

Or there’s another example as in the case of this ménage-à-trois that I photographed some years ago on a footpath in Belsize Park.

Ménage à trois

Each time I’m in London, I fascinated by this logo for Yo! Sushi, a chain of sushi bars.  My fascination with it is that the Yo! part of the logo reads (from right to left, of course) the Hebrew letters  yod, pei, nun, yod (יפני), which is the for Hebrew “Japanese”.  Well, I never!


I’m not usually a great lover of sunsets as I usually find them boring.  But a couple of years ago when we were in Skye, I watched and photographed the very slow sunset from the garden of the house and this was probably the best of the bunch.

Elgol sunset

There’s a set of windows over Boots The Chemists at 193 Oxford Street in London on the south side of the street.  Each time I pass, I take a photo or two because they always come out quite differently, depending on the time of day and the lighting conditions — but each time, it turns out to be a mesmerising photograph.


I seldom use Photoshop to enrich an image and when I do, it’s usually to give a special effect to a photograph. Here, I used Photoshop’s watercolour embellishment to enhance a photo of reflections on the wet planks that make up the promenade at Tel Aviv Port.


But you don’t have to use Photoshop to capture a stunning image.  Here’s one in the same general area taken after a rainy night and it isn’t too bad either.

A quarter to 7 in the morning. January 2016

And while at Tel Aviv Port, there’s an egret that I’ve named “The Eternal Optimist” as s/he flies from angler to fisherman to piscator in the hope of finding some grub.  Occasionally, s/he does!  Here s/he is on the way to find out if s/he’ll have more luck elsewhere.

Egret. January 2017


I do like symmetry and many of the pictures I take display a certain regularity.  Here are three of them.

Beehive Inside

The Hive at Kew Gardens


Shoes Barcelona

At the shoe store.  Barcelona (May 2015)

Loo, South End Green

Victorian urinals.  South End Green, London NW3

And it’s not only among hydrants that I see living things. There are other inanimate or semi-animate objects that remind me of other things, like the “camel” I saw in a garden on my way to King George V Street in Tel Aviv.  The real long-necked and humped ungulate mammal was photographed on passing the camel compound in Regent’s Park Zoo in London.

The camel 1



Sometimes, I take a photograph not because the object or subject is intrinsically interesting or beautiful but because I see something from which I can create something else that is—as portrayed in the image below.

Flower (solarized)


Finally, there’s the wonderful Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao designed by Frank Gehry.  

Guggenheim Bilbao.jpg

This iconic building, now over 20 years old is a magnificent site to behold.  It’s usually seen from the side from which people enter and exit.  However, the guidebooks tell you that it’s best seen from the opposite bank of the river so I went to the opposite bank and it was as the guidebooks said.  Then, on the way back, I looked at it from the bridge and realised that the guidebooks hadn’t got it quite right.  The museum was designed in the shape of a ship to celebrate Bilbao’s past as a port city and the office tower in the background enhances the architect’s aim because it forms the ship’s funnel.  

Bilbao Guggenheim.jpg

Now that’s photography (and geography)!