Monday, 29 June 2009


Palm Shadows in Valencia

'Eeeeeh, it's too 'ot!' said the van driver when he delivered the Photographer General's new Dyson. And he was right. Temperatures have shrivelled my garden pinks and pinked the more tender bits of my skin.Yesterday, when I was in Norfolk, it was one of those dreamy mornings which dawns in fog and then lightens to a soft, milky, misty haze making ugly things look pretty and pretty things look sublime.

'Why don't you photograph all those beautiful boats reflected in the harbour,' I suggested to the PG who responded with scornful glance. I agree that we were looking at a pictorial cliché, but it was achingly lovely, all the same.

It's a crime to be blogging, in such heavenly weather, but I promised to give you a few more notes on Valencia:

First, especially for Phoenix C - more horticultural tilework, at the station. I love the way Spanish working women are made to look like someone's Mum doing voluntary work.

Now, then! Ahem! Ahem!

1. There's a botanic garden, designed on the lines of 17th century Spanish physic gardens, with beds in systematic grids and a nicely renovated cool house. But the place is desperately in need of a budget and good curator. (The curator is doing a good job within the limits of the budget, I'd guess, but a garden like this deserves a lot more love and care. They should take these things more seriously. Botanic gardens, especially historic ones, are living museums and a valuable part of our heritage.

2. Street Art is magnificent, in Valencia. Officially approved, semi-approved and downright illegal graffiti can be seen all over the city. It is creative, thought-provoking and often, fun.

The eyes have it! A graffito, on an otherwise bare wall in Valencia.

3. The feast of Corpus Christi preoccupies the entire city for some days. Details are here but what impressed me most was the vast tableau, of biblical characters made entirely from dried flower petals; the carnival 'floats' some of which are centuries old; the chairs with which the streets were lined and the fact that some people sat in them three hours before the main procession passed.

Tourists and locals begin to gather for the parade.

Waiting for the parade. Nice to view it from one's own balcony, even if one rather disapproves.

4. Large pieces of masonry began to fall off the top of the building opposite our hotel. At first there was much concern and the police put up lots of barriers to prevent people walking through a rain of stone and plaster. But later, passers-by impatiently shoved the barriers to one side and strode through, puzzled but not at all concerned at the smashed building fragments all around them. Next a motorbike rider kicked a barricade over after which a car driver, illegally negotiating this pedestrian street anyway, moved the rest of the safety barriers aside so that others, too, could risk their lives and illegally drive down the street.

5. The ceramic museum (picture above) has the most over-the-top rococo façade of any building I have ever seen. It transcends excess - if that's possible - and is worth gawping at for some time. Luckily, there's a cafe opposite, so you can sit and stare. Such detail, such fine carving, such a wealth of craftsmanship.

My Left Foot - detail from the Museo Ceramico

I'm listening to the PG's new Dyson which can extricate cat hairs from close-pile carpets and sounds like an Airbus 380 leaving for Singapore.

This week's film was Vidor's Gilda with Rita Hayworth gloriously hamming it as a vamp with a wicked past and a youthful, sardonic Glenn Ford. Delicious Hollywood ending. And for once, a pretty good print, on DVD. (I HATE, HATE, HATE DVD recordings which have been cropped for television so that the stars look like Ed Astaire and Ginger Roge and the titles look like Klahom, One with the Win or Ing Kon, or Asablanc -- OK OK OK, point made!

This day in 2006 it was boiling hot. On a bike ride, I found two newly emerged Privet Hawk Moths which were calm and docile enough to walk on my hand.

I'm disappointed in the low response to my plug-ugly plant contest, two posts ago. I need more, darlings, more! Meanwhile, the PG threatens to despatch the Turds on Sticks.


  1. I enjoyed reading about Valencia, thank you.
    I have added to the nominations for ugly plants.

  2. Valencia sounds like such a captivating place, I'd love to take a closer look at the sculptures!