Created: 02-05-2004
Last update: 02-05-2004

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Holiday snapshots

As the small, square format hints, these pictures were all taken long ago - they have dates of 1980 and earlier on their backs - on whatever cheap old camera the grownups felt children could be trusted with. This was long before every home had its computer with digital camera and photo-editing software, yet those little old cameras produced a crispness and detail - blunted a bit by the scanning process, regrettably - equalled by no cheap hardware I've laid hands on since. It is for this reason that I'm putting up these holiday photos; not for any fond holiday memories, because how much one enjoys these holiday trips greatly depends on the company, and in my case, the company stank.

The locales (not that they really matter) are: France, Britain, various places in Scandinavia, and a village in Austria from when my parents decided they'd moved up in society far enough to risk a skiing holiday. On two trips, I only had black/white film for the first half of the trip; during the second half, my photography equipment was upgraded to colour.

The black/white constraint hurt badly when trying to capture the beauty of this ruin, or, as on the last picture, the bold white of a seabird (much larger than the photograph suggests) against the brown tones of its surroundings.

Alas, that second roll of film came too late for the ruins; but not too late for other imposing constructions in sandstone colours. The third picture is a good example of the limitations of image digitalization (unless one uses more expensive equipment than I can afford); on the original, the Roman numerals were clearly distinguishable on the clock face.

Speaking of imposing constructions; I circled round this public fountain several times for a photographic angle that would do justice to both elements of this seemingly precariously balanced statue. The second picture is simply your average quaint harbour with pretty cloud-filled sky.

The imposed lack of colour was even more frustrating when trying to capture the grandeur of Scandinavia. These are the bare, craggy shorelines that welcomed us on the passage to Norway, with bits of boat for those who like cogs and wheels. The deckchairs against the ferry's central structure look superlatively uncomfortable.

Only my memory supplies the additional information that this landscape is mostly green, with streaks of orange and yellow fading into it, and much grey-yellow accents from the be-lichened rocks sticking up through the grass.

An authentic fjord. Very very much later, it occurred to me that this landscape much resembles that of the Hebrides; historically, some of the Hebridean islands were property of Norway, and Norwegian settlers must have felt right at home there.

For lack of colour, these snapshots concentrate on structure: the stunted trees that survive on this poor soil, the cracks and ridges of a rock face, the profusion of leaves overhanging a big, round, moss-covered boulder that I accidentally de-mossed by climbing on top of it, and then slipping.

A rock in the water, seen through the trees, and from the river's edge. I fell deeply in love with this rock and dreamed of living near it and making it my personal haunt, but this was at a camping, and I doubt the owners would have approved my moving in on their property and chasing away the tourists.

One-two-three: "I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay, I sleep all night and I work all day. I chop down trees, I wear high heels, suspenders and a bra..." The lumber trade is still of significance in the not totally deforested Norway and Finland, and rivers provide cheap and easy transportation.

From the fjords to Copenhagen: an aged bronze statue which looks as if it's about to be overturned by machinery, but that's just visual coincidence, and a well-trodden path leading to a saint's statue.

City centre, bronze-o-rama: the usual saluting-horseman statue that probably marks any palacial entry in Europe, and a very large statue, from which I had to back far away to fit all of it in the viewer, of a woman in a chariot pulled by four bulls. I now know the chariot is in fact a plough, and the statue refers to the myth of some (semi-)divinity turning her four sons into bulls to plough off from Denmark's landmass the island of Helgoland.

These three were taken in Legoland, a real existing amusement park built of Lego, c'mon, you know, plastic bricks in primary colours that snap together. Some displays are scaled-down Danish architecture, others are more exotic.

I did say every palacial entry has the standard saluting horseman? Looking deceptively like the photo taken in Copenhagen, this is from France, at the entry to the Louvre.

The garden of statues behind the Louvre: a white one, standing out in the shadow, and a lion with an indistinct curly mass underneath; and more bits of palace, as several small palaces with the function of "country cottage" were built around this area.

Two places I remember very clearly: the Orangerie, and a popular eye-catcher: the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur, sadly a bit fuzzy.

Exchanging stone marvels for snowy slopes: ignore the people in bright thick clothing and the skis stabbed like spears in the snow, my reason for including these photographs is the masses of white-dusted pines and the shadows they cast over the untouched snow around them.

Mere steps away from the loud, gaudy, ski-flattened surface of the piste, softer snows beckon me to wander among the dark pines.

One of the few remaining photos of my dear old departed dog, the only member of the company who didn't stink (figuratively speaking), prepared to lie patiently in the cold snow until I'd finished taking pictures.

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