Monthly Archives: July 2010

A trip to Oxford and the singing dog

Following our visit to Cambridge as I have blogged here, Kevin my good mate from office and I planned to make a visit to Oxford. What was initially conceived as a 2-3 member trip eventually ended up being a very enjoyable trip last Sunday with about eleven from office in attendance.

We took the 9.35 train to Oxford from Paddington and reached Oxford in about an hour. We started walking around, the city centre in the gorgeous Oxford sunshine, most of the Oxford Colleges were closed so we walked leisurely in the streets until we came to a park (which belonged to one of the colleges), there was a stream going through the park and most interestingly there was a little fenced area where bees were kept.

The hives where the Bees are kept.

These hives were custom made and concealed in such a way that the bees could cause no harm to the observers who could appreciate the operations that took place inside the hive. Stethoscopes were set to these, so the humming of the bees inside the hives which reflected a lot of activity could also be heard, to be honest listening to nothing but the intense activity of the bees and visually scrutinizing the happenings inside the hive does take one to a total different level of senses where absorption of the rest of the world comes to a temporary virtual standstill.

Further periods of walking ensued, and after getting lost inside sweet shops  we came to Carfax tower which is supposedly the tallest tower in Oxford city. There are building regulations stipulating that no building in Oxford city can exceed the height of Carfax tower, possibly to retain the prestige of Carfax tower being the tallest building in Oxford. Of course one evident drawback of this building regulation is that when one peruses the horizon from the top of the tower there are a few buildings which are of the same height as Carfax tower and offer a rather distasteful disruption of the otherwise beautifully monotonous horizon. We climbed the ninety nine steps of Carfax tower for a ticket price of £2.20 and spent some time at the top of the tower taking photographs and just looking around.

Something else rather interesting was happening just outside the base of carfax towe, yes! you guessed it right! there was a man playing the pipes and besides him was a singing dog! quite the spectacle the duo were, I have to say.

Climbing the steps of Carfax tower


View from the top of Carfax tower


We then walked through the university passing a few more colleges and other buildings including the Radcliffe Camera, designed by James Gibbs in the English Palladian style and built in 1737–1749 to house the Radcliffe Science Library.

Radcliffe Camera

Having done a fair share of walking we walked to a pub called the Eagle and Child, where I had a really filling portion of Scampi and chips whilst the others had different choices of their taste. Interestingly, J.R.R Tolkien of Lord of the Rings fame used to hang out in this pub and it is said that the idea for Lord of the Rings was conceived here. Even more interestingly, Tolkien is said to have remarked that the Radcliffe Camera resembled Sauron’s temple to Morgoth on Númenor.

Images of Tolkien and the exterior of the pub


After lunch we walked back towards the university after a brief stop at St. John’s College, more about that with a panoramic image in a different post.

From the beginning of the trip the buzz word was punting, and punting we went. Kevin, Paul, another mate of ours and I decided to punt and the others well girls really blissfully sat down while we the boys navigated the boats down the stream. It was rather difficult at first with all three of us being first time punters, when Kevin and I punted in Cambridge we had a chauffeur who took us in a boat. We did have trouble manoeuvring it the first time, but we soon almost never got the hang of it, but still one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had in the past few years with a lot of laughs shared between the three boats.

Punting, yes that’s me in the foreground punting my boat.


To be continued with more images and a video of the singing dog…

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Going about invading privacy again!

Some of you may have seen this other post and the story behind it.

Well, I was cycling home from work this evening and just before I entered the park that I go through I I passed this woman walking alone a meandering pathway. Something about what she was wearing coincided with something in my head, disregarding the irritation of trying to decipher what was so congruent I cycled on.

And then when I passed these wheeler bins, my mind went ah! That’s what!

And then I waited for her for about three minutes to go past the bins and took this image. Like the other image, there is a striking resemblance between her attire and the backdrop she has been pictured against.

I am expecting repercussions any one of these days!

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In my quest for inspiration!

I have been rather uninspired lately; even when I do something that may make a worthy photograph I have been reluctant to make the effort to capture it. I would one day like to call myself a photographer, I say this not in a pretentious show of modesty expecting compliments which would contradict what I said – but I think I am still learning.

There was a time when by my standards, I could conjure up a good  image out of a usually inharmonious setting, (again by my standards), but as of late I have been rather reluctant to take photographs. I have gone through phases; there was a time when I used to be fascinated by macros, then portraits, emotions and black and whites and so on. As it is now, I seem not to be in a phase and that is rather alarming to me. I hope I get out of my blocks soon and start clicking away very soon. I have a trip to Oxford this Sunday, hopefully that will open the flood gates.

I am a bit of a perfectionist and that works a lot against me, I take six to seven pictures of the same image intent just to get it right, sometimes I am unsatisfied with all my images and I never upload them. Few weeks later I see them and I think, damn these are actually alright! They should’ve been uploaded!

I took this image in one of my uninspired, aggressive and forceful moods when I thought I must do something!

There’s an amazing co-relation between my state of mind and my photographs. My photographs are best when I am happy & relaxed and when I am not however much I try even if I am given the best camera in the world with the perfect environmental setting it occurs that the photographs I have taken aren’t the best. Not to suggest that I am having an emotional low these past weeks, thankfully not at all – but I have been rather exhausted with a lot of work and serious decisions to make, and that possibly is having an implication on my photography – which for me is a form of my expression.

Here’s hoping I’ll back to being my usual self and being a bit unlike me and letting go of this seemingly inherent want to have everything perfect to the most minute detail! I start work only tomorrow this week. Good week all!

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Filed under aufidius, england, macro

Architecture through the raindrops

Rather heavy rain in London today, by English standards that is. Managed to take this from outside my room window.

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Muddyfox

Muddyfox – not a very posh name, but its beholder serves its purpose as a good servant of mine. As I have said here, I now cycle to work. Cycling home the other day I stopped at the cemetery for some time out in the warm July sunshine and quite accidentally I happened to look and liked how the bike was leaning against the brick wall of the church.

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Video – Colombo in 1976

I was born and grew up in Colombo city, in spite of all that it has to offer, in spite of all those places that help make Colombo my home I have always wanted to live in Colombo in the 1940’s.

A time when we were still under colonial rule, and yet a time when Sri Lankans had a greater sense of autonomy than during the times of the initial independence struggles. A time when walls in Colombo 7 were just three feet tall parapets built just to demarcate a land boundary and to amplify the beauty of the colonial or vernacular house behind it, as opposed to the 10 feet tall walls we now have which in the name of security (and rightfully) obscure any sense of beauty or serenity.

A time when an individual was always secure in society by the protection he or she receives from the family, neighbourhood and community. A time where moments after school were for play and family evenings and not tuition classes, times where a lot of ‘old school’ things like reading books were clearly one of the best pastimes, houses which were so well naturally lit and ventilated and the house that helped harness family and neighbourly relationships, a time possibly when the rowdiest of thugs used to conceal their lit cigarette (or beedi) and hide it behind their backs and show nothing but the most respectful body language when a woman passed by.

Certainly a time when politicians were genuinely servants of the people and corruption wasn’t as rampant and bloodshed wasn’t such an everyday cliche.

Times when time itself passed slowly and people felt more purposeful and focused as opposed to being exposed to one too many things and thereby consuming one’s childhood and youth without one’s own knowledge.

I doubt if I will ever get an accurate description of how life used to be then, apart from books which best illustrate such a time in Colombo.

I found this video which is an absolute gem in terms of showing how Colombo used to be in 1976.

Sadly, not much seems to have changed from a developmental point of view. Same old CTB buses, same potholes in the roads where water stagnates, same old trains and of course the traffic jams. And besides, Colombo, as one would expect seems to be much greener then than it is now.

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