Bang Bang!

Aug. 9th, 2017 11:02 am
motodraconis: (OMG!)
Of more interest to local chums...


Oriental City is back, or at least, a mini version of it. When I first moved into this area Oriental City had been shut down by the council who flogged the land off to developers and threw out all the trades bods. The developers went bust, and the old building sat empty and rotting for 5 years before being eventually demolished and replaced by flats and a Morrisons. (The Morrisons right next to an enormous Asda, and usually deserted. Why? Why build 2 supermarkets next to each other?) I was pretty pissed off to lose Oriental City, even though it had been shut down before I moved into the area. My local area is ranked one of the worst retail destinations in the UK, though when Oriental City was still around people would travel for miles to visit and it was popular and famous. Mind you, I think they're being overly harsh on my stomping ground. I grew up in South London, in a posh but decidedly bleak London dormitory suburb. Burnt Oak may be grotty, and granted, it does seem to have a ridiculous (and slightly depressing) number of pawn brokers, but if you like food, it's a mecca! Four fishmongers, proper butchers (halal and non-halal) loads of grocers, delicious cakes. I stuck up for Burnt Oak on my local area facebook page, and got a fair few people sneering at my enthusiasm. I have to say, there was more than a touch of racism in the sneering, since what is good about Burnt Oak is the fabulous food shops run by immigrants, both European and Non-European. Seriously, if you're wailing that it's a shit-hole because there's no McDonalds go down the fucking road, there's a drive thru, but if you like proper, real food, Burnt Oak is fantastic.

I digress, Bang Bang opened about a month ago, and last week I was finally able to take a peep inside. It was at an odd hour, so the place was fairly quiet.

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motodraconis: (Full Face)
Despite a catalogue of disasters, and the only working camera nearly being destroyed... WE MADE IT TO VERSAILLES!


Most of the photos by Suzanne, with some of my photos at the end of the singers and guide.

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motodraconis: (French-English)
Since I am going to a Recency Ball in September, perhaps I should draw inspiration for my dress from the ladies at the back there...


Bonaparte and the British - prints and propaganda in the age of Napoleon. If you're in London and want to see it (and I recommend you do) it's on until the 16th August, one week left!

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motodraconis: (OMG!)
qAaaaahhh! Esfahan! (Isfahan.) A nexus of culture and beauty! ‘Isfahan among those rarer places, like Athens or Rome, which are the common refreshment of humanity’. (Robert Byron, author of the 1937 travelogue The Road to Oxiana.)


Truly, we eagerly awaited our arrival in this, ‘Esfahan nesf-e jahan’ (Esfahan is half the world)

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motodraconis: (Beads)
Aaaand, we're in Shiraz. Here are some lovely figurative art tiles from Bagh-e Eram Gardens.

Bagh-e Eram Gardens

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motodraconis: (OMG!)
Arg! So much to see in Iran, I'm going to have to make several posts. This is The Old Stuff. YES! Got to see Persepolis - the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire (550–330 BCE) - just look at the crisp detail on this bull!


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motodraconis: (Cup of Tea)
Here's me at the former US Embassy, or as it is called on the local maps "the US Den of Espionage."

Former US Den of Espionage

As I was posing, a group of Iranians drove past on their motorbikes and pissed themselves laughing.

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motodraconis: (Uberich)
New resident of the garden.


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motodraconis: (European)
Back to Budapest. I'm on a quest to visit every country in Europe, but Budapest is one place I have no objection to visiting again and again - I love the place!


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motodraconis: (Midsummer Ball)
Our yearly pilgrimage to Gala Nocturna. Our gang gets bigger every year!

The United Kingdom

This year the theme was Swan Princess, and held for the first time in Brussels. Swans, both black and white, and multi coloured. Expect feathers!

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Jan. 1st, 2015 07:32 pm
motodraconis: (Temple Dino)
Ahhh, Petra! The Rose City, the ancient (312 BC) capital of the Nabateans. The full nature of these people, who left no surviving literature, is somewhat mysterious. Petra itself was forgotten and lost to the Western world until 1812, when a Swiss Explorer learned Arabic and disguised himself as a Bedouin to infiltrate the city. Which at that time was a secret place inhabited by Bedouin, who had woven their own stories about the place and it's origins - not to mention rumoured hoards of "Egyptian" gold and treasure.


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motodraconis: (OMG!)
Few people go to Turkmenistan* (or have even heard of it.) Considerably fewer would ever want to go back having been there once(!) I went last year and returned again last week. Why?

Because of this...THE DOOR TO HELL!


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motodraconis: (OMG!)

I'm back from exploring the Silk Road! Above is the unfinished minaret of Khiva. Started by a Khan, his successor refused to finish it. Some say because it would have overlooked his harem, some because it would have ended up a monument to the previous Khan and not the Khan who completed it (my theory is that it was too damned expensive!) More on Khiva Later.

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motodraconis: (Globe)
"I'm on the phone!" Ladies in the churchyard of the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa.

Holy Trinity Cathedral - Addis Ababa

Addis was our last stop of the trip, but before we got there, we spent a day or so in Bahir Dar and an opportunity to see the Blue Nile Falls.

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motodraconis: (OMG!)
These lovely lady pilgrims saw me staggering about snapping wildly with my camera, and waved and grinned at me.

Rock Churches of Lalibela

I had high hopes for Lalibela, which was the main historic and cultural sight of Ethiopia that I'd wanted to see with my own eyes (closely followed by the Axum Stelae and the castles of Gondar.) I'd tried not to let myself get too worked up in anticipation, for fear of being disappointed.

I needn't have worried, Lalibela vastly exceeded my expectations. Alas, my photos can't do it justice...

Warning - MAHOOSIVE post )
motodraconis: (OMG!)
The Stele of Axum! 1700 years old and 24 metres tall!

Axum Stelae

This stele was pinched by the Italians during their Conquest of Ethiopia and (relatively short lived) Grand Fascist New Roman Empire. It had fallen in the 4th century and lain in 3 or possibly 5 pieces for centuries. Italy agreed to return the stele in 1947, but it took 50 years to complete that promise, mainly due to the complicated logistics and vast expense involved. The repatriation, completed and re-erected in September 2008 ultimately cost Italy $7.7m. (God help us if the British Museum and London ever have to return all the items the Brits have pinched.) Wikipedia describes the nightmarish complication of the return rather amusingly. The Stele is held together with eight aramid fiber (Kevlar) bars, and not the iron bars originally used by the Italians when they reassembled it in Porta Capena Square in Italy - which regrettably had turned the 24m tall granite obelisk into a bit of a lightening attractor.

I'd been really looking forward to seeing the Stelae of Axum, because they are so impressive but also distinctly strange in their design...

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Jan. 14th, 2014 05:03 pm
motodraconis: (OMG!)
King Fasilides bath.

Fasilides' Bath

At Epiphany, (or Timkat, as it is called in Ethiopia) this "bath" is filled with water, blessed, and then everyone* jumps in.

Also the well known, stunning castles of Gondar, we all knew that Africa has castles...of course we did!

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Since this was a trip featuring several important architectural sites, I shall have to split my posts according to the areas visited. Next up, the Simien Mountains.
motodraconis: (Fat Walda)
It's all culture here... art today, opera tomorrow.

Made by Doug Bayne, Ben Baker and Trudy Cooper, 2013. Doug and Trudy are the fiendish minds behind the awesome and mostly NSFW Oglaf.

Doug, Ben and Trudy are also responsible for Barnacle Bill's Semi-Factual Nautical Tales, biased semi-animated shorts about Science! Watch 'em now, I think the website will take 'em off air after the 15th November.


motodraconis: (Default)

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