Weekly photo challenge: Angular

The word ‘angular’ makes me think ‘Art Deco’, the popular visual arts style of the 1920s and 30s that embraced the hard edges of industry, machines and man-made structures rather than the soft, curving, natural lines of the previously popular ‘Art Nouveau’ style.  Art Deco buildings are recognisable by their geometric, often symmetrical, forms and decorations:  repeated lines, zigzags, steps, and ziggurat shapes.  Here’s a photo from Dad’s WWII collection from 1941/42, showing the covered market in Nairobi, built in 1932.  It’s now called the City Market.

City Market Nairobi
Covered market, Nairobi, c1942

The City Market building in central Nairobi has the classic features of Art Deco architecture:  symmetrically stepped walls and straight lines at every turn – even the clock is octagonal.  Well, that was in the 1940s;  the clock is no longer there, as you can see in the photo below, taken in 2011.

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City Market, Nairobi, Kenya, 2011. Photo courtesy Richard Portsmouth, Flickr, www.kanyawegi-uk.org/index.aspx

How quiet it was in the 1940s, with a neatly hedged roundabout and only a few cars parallel-parked beside the building.  Images online of the City Market now, including the one above, show a lot of people and traffic, and angle parking to fit more in.  Photos online of the interior are full of colour and activity, showing local people buying fresh food, particularly meat and fish, fresh flowers, handcrafts and souvenirs for the tourists.

Inside, it’s an open space where the windowed walls step inwards, with unadorned concrete arches supporting the vaulted ceiling.  Pivoting windows on both sides allow air movement and cross ventilation (see an enlarged view of them in the header above), and the vertical strips of louvres allow hot air to escape through the higher openings and cooler air to enter at the bottom.  It was ‘green’ architecture long before sustainability became so important.  There’s an interesting site here with more photos, as well as plans and information about the energy-efficient design that keeps the building cool.  It’s very interesting reading.

I have to admit that while I have a few items of Art Deco style inherited from my parents, it’s not my first choice of decoration or architecture.  Give me instead the organic forms of Art Nouveau, the stylised vines whipping asymmetrically around doors and windows and up and down balustrades.  Give me environmentally sustainable curves any day.

Thanks Daily Post photo challenge for the angular prompt.

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Weekly photo challenge: Achievement

I visited a neighbour one day in October to wish him a Happy 97th Birthday.  That’s a pretty good achievement, surviving life’s vacillations for 97 years.  He’s Dutch, born in Amsterdam he says, during the war (the first one).  His greatest achievement, he says, was becoming a  submarine navigator during the war (the second one).  But what about his long long long life?  He says everyone wants to grow old, no one wants to be old.

Before we sat down together on his birthday, he took a cooked sausage from the lunch delivered by Meals on Wheels, cut it up into small pieces, put them into a small decorative plate and stuck a toothpick into each one.  He poured himself a glass of red wine and invited me to join him in his birthday celebration.

Aart 97 today

He is the eldest of 12 children and has no idea if the others are alive or dead. They all stayed in Holland while he moved to Australia, and now he only remembers the names of 5 of them.  But he remembers his childhood, and often sings a Dutch song that his mother sang when he was small, a song of thankfulness for being saved from a shipwreck, ‘Als g’in nood gezeten’.  He wrote it out in Dutch, and then translated it into English for me:

Aart writing Als g'in nood gezeten

He has sung the song for me many times.  For a while, he forgot some of the verses, so we turned on his computer and found, to his surprise and mine, that he still has an Internet connection.  We looked up the verses, then he sat and sang it from start to finish.  At the end he was so pleased with himself that he turned to me with this delightful smile.  I snapped him.

Aart singing

Aart was a seaman and says he has seen more of the sea than most people, spending much of his life on it and under it.  He now lives up the street from me, that is, several hours’ drive inland, so I asked if he’d like to come for a drive to the coast to see the sea.  But he has no desire to see it again, and prefers his memory of it.  He rarely leaves his house, and likes it that way.  He wants to die there.  If he gets what he wants in the end, without doctors and carers insisting he goes into an aged care home, then that will also be a great achievement.

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Thanks WordPress for the photo prompt.  It was good to reflect on achievement.

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One trip EVERY month: November

This month I spent a weekend at Barlings Beach on the south coast of New South Wales, named after the Barling family who have been in the area since 1852.  That’s a long time in Australia’s books.

On the way I saw an ex-church which has been here almost as long;  the sign high above the door says 1855.  The church now appears to be inhabited by free spirits.  I was bold and brave and took photos of it, though I’m not sure I would have knocked on the door to ask for directions.Ex-church front

I don’t know if anyone was inside peering out, but as I wandered down the street and looked in the left hand window, something was looking back at me.

ex-church window

At Barlings Beach the air was dry and hot, and it felt good to be hotter than I’ve been since last summer.  But this was no paradise, the sky overcast with dark blue clouds, the water green and waveless.  Strange, but last time I was at this beach there was surf.   And here and there, a few dead birds lay half-buried in the sand.  I’ve read that they are short-tailed shearwaters, a type of muttonbird, that fly thousands of kilometres from the Arctic to arrive on the east coast of Australia at the start of summer.  The long trek is too much for many of them.

Barlings storm approaching

Only one man was swimming.  My husband.  (No photo.)  Another man was fishing, wetting his line really, while the women, who had been fishing from their esky seats, declared it a waste of time and settled down for a chat.

women on eskies

Another woman seemed to be wondering why the water was so flat.  Was there something in the green murk that she couldn’t see?  Only a few days before, a surfer had been bitten by a shark in waist-deep water at another beach up the coast.  Knee-deep was a safe depth.

what's under the water?

The rainless windstorm came and the temperature plummeted by 15 degrees.  The wind blew itself out and the waves rolled in again.  Later in the afternoon as I walked on the shore, I couldn’t believe it was the same beach as a few hours before.

Barlings after the storm

Next morning, paradise had returned, and I walked to the rock platform that goes out to Barlings Island.  When the tide’s low it’s possible to walk over to it on the rocks.  The island is a significant Aboriginal heritage area associated with traditional laws and customs.  It’s excellent for snorkelling, to see fish swimming through a giant underwater kelp forest.

Barlings Island

On the way home, at a small beach called Mosquito Bay, I was standing on the boat ramp wondering how boats would survive a launching over the rocky bottom, when something moved around and over the ramp base.  See the black part above the water?

Smooth Ray on boat ramp

It was a stingray, a Smooth Ray, according to the notice at the top of the ramp warning us not to harm them.  I frequently walk in the edge-water, sometimes up to my knees, but this time I’d stayed on dry land.  Wasn’t I happy about that!  The blown-up photo in the header of this post shows the ray’s long sting, almost as scary as a flying celluloid doll in a church window.

Smooth Ray Mosquito Bay

It was another good trip away, another weekend of nature-watching.  And, even better, people-watching.

Thanks again Marianne for the suggestion to take one trip EVERY month.  Only one 2014 month to go, one 2014 trip to take.

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Weekly photo challenge: Descent

Descent:  a downwards movement, bad for a fragile object falling or a fragile person tripping.  A good thing if you descend from an airless mountaintop or from worthy ancestors.  It’s especially useful if you need an inexpensive system of water delivery, for even in the desert there’s the free pressure of gravity.  The photo here is taken in a desert during World War Two, one of the many photos my father brought back from the Middle East.  It’s captioned simply “Gravity Tank”, taken in North Africa, probably Egypt, in about 1941.

Gravity tank, North Africa, c1941
Gravity tank, North Africa, c1941

Prompted by the WordPress photo challenge.

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