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Prelude to a sundowner

Tide’s out, drink’s up

Do you know the term ‘sundowner’? There is a plethora of definitions, including a transient worker, a type of apple, and someone who has sundowning (a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia). I’m referring to the much more pleasant meaning of “an alcoholic drink taken at sunset”. This is more very late afternoon than actual sunset — a pre-sundowner, if you will. The photo was taken at Ettalong, a small waterside community north of Sydney where I tend to go for a weekend each April to savour summer’s last gasp. I love sitting at this waterside bar/restaurant, watching the tide and the birds and the people on the sands. Autumn hasn’t gripped us yet, but I do fear summer is on the way out — and I’ve already booked my holiday apartment for April.

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Skyscraper (The Bruges Whale)

I was inspired to post my own photos of Skyscraper (The Bruges Whale) actually in Bruges after seeing Debbie’s post of the whale in Utrecht. I didn’t know the whale is a travelling exhibit although I think that’s a marvellous idea — the more people who see this powerful reminder of the plastic clogging the world’s oceans, the better.

The whale is made from 5 tons of plastic waste pulled out of the Pacific Ocean, turned into a 4 story tall whale for the 2018 Bruges Triennial – a powerful reminder of the 150,000,000 tons of plastic waste still swimming in our waters. (source)

Here you get a better view of what’s in those 5 tons.


Interestingly, the photos on the creators’ kickstarter page show Skyscraper coming much higher (and more dramatically!) out of the water. I assume those photos are pre-installation generated images and the exhibit had to be lowered for safety and/or structural reasons. Regardless, Skyscraper is a dramatic, attention-grabbing call to action.

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Stratford Walk 1: the lake

Perth County Court House in Stratford

The walk begins at the Perth County Court House in Stratford

Are you confused? Do these photos look nothing like the Stratford you know, that lovely medieval English market town that gave the world William Shakespeare? That’s because this Stratford — and this Avon River — are in Canada, 130 km (80 miles) west of Toronto. And it also has a strong Shakespeare connection, which we’ll get to.

From the court house, the path around the lake is about 5km. I like to do this walk when I visit Stratford. My maternal grandparents moved to the town in the 1970s, and my parents in the 1990s, so I’ve made quite a few visits since I was a teenager.

This is a pretty, leafy, landscaped walk with not a hill in sight.

If you don’t fancy walking, there are watery alternatives.

Art in the Park has been a feature for years.

Amusing garbage cans, though I’m confused by the bee theme.

This lovely bridge has been the spot for many, many photos over the years.

Approaching the bridge

Looking back at the bridge

Here is the Shakespeare connection I mentioned. In the early 1950s, Stratford local Tom Patterson drove the establishment of a theatre festival dedicated to the works of William Shakespeare. On July 13, 1953, English actor Alec Guinness spoke the first lines of the first play produced by the festival, a production of Richard III: “Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this son of York.” For the first four seasons, performances took place in a concrete amphitheatre covered by a giant canvas tent on the banks of the River Avon. The permanent theatre that followed (photo below) deliberately echoed the look of a tent. (source)

The Festival Theatre

The festival now runs from April to October and in addition to Shakespeare it presents a variety of theatre including musicals and contemporary drama, in four theatres. (My mother and I saw “The Music Man” in August last year, when I took these photos.) Famous actors who appeared at Stratford include Maggie Smith (1976 to 1980) and William Shatner (seasons 2, 3 and 4). (This short interview with Shatner has some interesting photos of the festival’s early days).

This statue of Shakespeare is in the garden behind the theatre.

Back to the path now. Near the theatre is where you’ll find the largest numbers of swans and geese. They definitely have right of way.

At the east end of the lake you can look back to see the spire of the court house over the trees.

Time to cross over and head back on the other side. There are some inviting spots here for just sitting and watching the world or having a picnic.

This is the path opposite the theatre.

William Hutt was described as “Canada’s great classical actor” when he died in 2007. I remember seeing him as Falstaff in the Merry Wives of Windsor, 40 years ago. (I can’t believe I’m old enough to say that, but according to a review in the NY Times it was indeed 1978.) That’s more of the court house peeping over the trees, and you can see a number of bright orange pedalos on the lake by the shore (something else I remember from 40 years ago!).

At this point, you must walk across the bridge because the path that continues around the west end of the lake has been closed.

Here you can see why it’s “unavailable”: rich people not wanting riff raff walking in front of their houses. I certainly remember walking there in the past. Time for some “reclaim the ancient rights of way!” agitation by the people, I think!

I know Jo likes cake at the end of her walks, but as much as I like cake I do gravitate towards ice cream after a walk. 😉

Stratford Walk 2: history and houses” is now live.

For more walks from all around the world, head to Jo’s Monday Walks.


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The view from the window: Moselle meets Rhine

 The Moselle River (darker water) flows into the Rhine River (beige-coloured water) at Koblenz.

The Moselle River (darker water) flows into the Rhine River (beige-coloured water) at Koblenz.

I took one look at Nancy’s photo for this week’s Unexpected Windows challenge and knew I had to post this photo. Nancy’s photo and mine are of the same thing — they both feature the confluence of the two rivers and the triangular-ish Deutsches Eck (“German Corner”) headland — but are taken from different places in Koblenz. My photo (dreadful quality, sorry, it’s a scan of a mediocre print from 1991) is from a window in the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress on the east bank of the Rhine, which is on top of the green hill you can see on the right in Nancy’s photo.


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