Westminster Autumn

Autumn in the Victoria Tower Gardens, Westminster. In the foreground (and below) is the Buxton Memorial Fountain, commissioned by Charles Buxton MP to commemorate the emancipation of slaves in 1834, dedicated to his father Thomas Fowell Buxton, and designed by Gothic architect Samuel Sanders Teulon (1812–1873) in 1865.
In the background, of course, is the Palace of Westminster aka the Houses of Parliament, designed by Sir Charles Barry with advice from the great Augustus Pugin.


A detailed city

black and white cityscape

Vancouver waterfront

As a respite from the bug macros, I thought I’d pay a visit to one of my favourite North American cities, Vancouver.

black and white view of Vancouver

Striking shapes mingle with softer planting

I thoroughly enjoyed prowling round the most modern parts of this city, playing with angles and snapping details that caught my eye.

black and white view of Vancouver

The same place looking the other way

I often convert my shots of architecture to black and white to bring out the interesting shapes and patterns.

architectural detail

Diagonals meet verticals, and some palm trees

It can be fun to zoom in tight.

Architectural detail

Loads of contrast here

Or pull back for a wider view.

black and white Vancouver city

Contrasting new and old

Sorting out converging lines can be tricky with tall buildings but sometimes it’s fun not to bother…


Well, this building does actually lean anyway.

…or to go mad:

warped architectural detail Vancouver

One way to cope with those converging lines

Reflections are always a lot of fun.

city detail

Fairmont hotel reflected in office block.

I did allow some colour, sometimes a lot of colour:

Five panels of city reflections

If a triptych is three panels, what do you call five panels?

I hope you enjoyed my architectural safari. Vancouver really is a super city and there is, of course, much more to it than its modern architecture. More another time. I will leave you now with this thought: what’s not to like about a city that has a giant lego orca?

killer whale sculpture

You have to love Canadians.

Shooting the City


On the whole, I find photography a solitary activity, and I am happy with that. I very rarely go out shooting in a group. When I do, I usually end up deleting the images I take; I just can’t seem to relax into it.


But a couple of years ago I did enjoy a stroll around the City of London with fellow members of a Flickr group, T189 Oct-Dec 2008. All members of this group, which I administer, took the Open University’s short digital photography course in Oct-Dec 2008.


Although activity in the group has gradually waned over the years, there is still a core of supportive and keen digital shooters and it was a pleasure to meet some of them in person on our City photo walk.


And I didn’t delete every image.


The Cathedral of the Thames Valley


A view of St.James’s, a beautiful Victorian church in Weybridge, Surrey designed by Sir John Loughborough Pearson. This is a series of shots I took in 2009 pro bono to support the renovations work of The Friends of St.James.


The Church of Saint Nicholas stood on this site from 1175 until the middle of the nineteenth century. St Nicholas’s was demolished in 1846 and a rebuilding programme was commenced.
The new church was dedicated to Saint James and was consecrated in 1848. Seven years later the Spire was completed, and in 1864 the South Aisle was built. A further eleven years would pass before, in 1875, the ‘Eight Bells’ were dedicated.


Finally, in 1889, the Chancel was enlarged and the outer South Aisle was added; it was also at this time that the height of the Chancel was increased by roughly ten feet which gave a better harmony to the overall proportions of the building. The interior of the church is a lovely example of arts and crafts design.


Installed in the West face of the south aisle is the Sacramental Window. Made from Victorian stained glass, it is probably intended to depict the sacraments of the church. This important window is made after a design by the celebrated pre-raphaelite, Edward Burne-Jones.


St.James’s is the work of John Loughborough Pearson. Pearson, 1817-97, was a Gothic Revival architect renowned for his work on churches and cathedrals. Pearson revived and practised the art of vaulting, and acquired in it skill unmatched in his generation. St.James’s has been described as the ‘Cathedral of the Thames Valley’.




Window on the Canyon


This is a view of the Grand Canyon from the Watchtower at Desert View.
The Watchtower, impressively perched on the edge of the mighty canyon, was completed in 1932.  It is one of several buildings in the Grand Canyon area designed by American architect Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter.


Inside, the tower is decorated with murals by Fred Kabotie, a Hopi from second Mesa.


Vien dietro a me, e lascia dir le genti:

Sta come torre ferma, che non crolla

Gia mai la cima per soffiar di’ venti.

Follow me and leave the world to chatter:

Be steady as a tower that never bows its head,

However hard the winds may blow.

Dante Alighieri, Divina Commedia (1307), ‘Purgatorio’, Canto 5

Romantic runaways


Last year I published a series of articles in some local magazines about the Wey Navigation, a historic waterway that runs for 20 miles from the Thames at Weybridge to Godalming, in Surrey, England. I thought I might occasionally feature excerpts from the series in this blog. Today’s excerpt is about one of the many interesting historical landmarks that can be seen from the towpath. This small brick tower can be found on the stretch between Pyrford Lock and Walsham Gates near the village of Ripley. It is an attractive and unusual structure, fourteen feet square, two storeys high with a first floor entrance and a distinctive ogee-pitched roof. Known as the ‘Summer House’, it bears a blue plaque declaring that: ‘John Donne, Poet and Dean of St.Pauls, lived here 1600-1604’. The story of the romantic runaways is about Donne and his passion for Ann More.


Donne had fallen in love with Ann, the daughter of Sir George More of Loseley Park near Guildford. Ann’s family was too important for her to be permitted to marry Donne so the lovers eloped, when Ann was only 17. This caused a scandal and Sir George organised a search for the runaways. Once they were found, Sir George had Donne thrown into London’s Fleet Prison. On his release, he and Ann were given shelter at Pyrford Place, the home of Sir Francis Wolley, a friend of Donne’s. Sir Francis eventually managed to engineer a reconciliation with Sir George. John and Ann Donne lived at Pyrford Place for a further two years and had the first of their twelve children there. Ann and children lived there for another year while Donne travelled, before the whole family moved to their own home in 1606. It is said that, such was his love for Ann, Donne never got over his grief when she died (having 12 children took its toll!).

It seems unlikely that Donne ever actually lived in the Summer House, which some historians think may not even have been built until later in the century, but the Summer House is in the grounds of Pyrford Place and it is certainly picturesque enough to stand in the imagination as the retreat of a lovelorn poet!

All other things, to their destruction draw,
Only our love hath no decay;
This, no tomorrow hath, nor yesterday,
Running it never runs from us away,
But truly keeps his first, last, everlasting day.

Songs and Sonnets (1611) ‘The Anniversary’

The full text of my article and some more of the images can be viewed here.