Lens Envy

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Over the past few weeks I’ve been to France and back (twice), visited a seal colony on the East coast, watched the famous Lipizzaner Stallions perform, completed two commissions for a colleague’s fashion blog and a friend’s Christmas card, I’ve been to three theatre shows and much more beyond my powers of recall. Is it any wonder that I’ve been rather lax with my cartoons?

While in France, I met with family to visit the annual natural history photographic exhibition in Montier-en-Der. The five day event brings well over 30,000 visitors to – as a French man put it to us – the ‘butt end of nowhere’.  Thousands of awe inspiring photographs are displayed at exhibitions in and around Montier-en-Der – it was impossible to see everything in a single day.  But we tried. We spent eight hours driving from village to village, ducking in and out of tiny town halls, schools and church yards, oohing and aaahing over the images.  For the most part, I was green with envy and had a persistent nagging feeling that I should give up my job, travel the world and track musk ox, or penguins, or polar bears, or field mice, or macaques, or whales, or lynx…the list goes on.

It was, of course, compulsory to saunter around the optics, camera and accessories tent – a place for those who had a bit of spare cash and were hoping to pick up a lens or two for the cheap, cheap price of £15,000 each! The poorer photographers, myself included, were simply left drool over the 1200mm lens which would give you enough zoom to photograph the nose hairs of a red squirrel high in a tree. If you were feeling particularly masochistic, you could test the equipment on your own camera.  Rows and rows of predominately male photographers could be seen with lenses as long as your arm, testing their ‘zoominess’ on the banks of the lake where one of the exhibitions was taking place. Over their shoulders peered green-eyed paupers feeling inadequate with their shorter, less zoomy lenses. I couldn’t help noting the similarities between this, and other male displays of virility… Lens Envy

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Londinium

A rather frenetic three days in London have come to an end.  I have skirted around the city on various work visits or on the occasional get-together with friends, but I’ve never really had the opportunity to soak in the atmosphere and visit the top tourist attractions.  My mother, keen to reinforce the maternal / filial bonds, saw this as an opportunity for us to spend some quality time together. So, with a little bit of planning an a lot of luck we left the quiet solitude of our respective houses in the ‘north of England’ and in the Jura Mountains (France) to tussle and jostle with some of the millions of tourists that visit London annually.

Every hour of our three day tour was packed with interest, culture, art, music, heritage, gastronomic delights and shopping.  So much so that I need a few days holiday to recover.  We visited the Houses of Parliament (a real highlight); the London Eye where mum was reunited with her fear of heights; Harrods, where for the first time I felt my bank account was completely inadequate; we took in two shows, Jumpy and Singing in the Rain (ponchos are requirement); we were perplexed by contemporary performance art at the Haywood Gallery; intrigued by the Royal Academy of Arts exhibition, ‘Bronze‘; enlightened by the Royal Ballet’s performance of Swan Lake; moved by the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition; felt patriotic watching the changing of the Horse Guards and were calmed by our saunter through St James’ Park.

If you felt tired reading that, imagine how we felt at the end of our stay?!  Enjoyable and draining in equal measures, there has been talk of making this an annual event…

On my return home, I doodled on the train: