Friday, 11 August 2017


Time for a visit to the Musee d'Orsay. It's a museum that has been closed the last couple of times I've been in Paris, so it was good to finally get another chance to look around.

As well as the artworks, there's opportunity for people watching with a surprising number taking selfies of themselves near to a famous picture.

The art works on show don't disappoint, with Monet, Chagall, van Gogh to name a few. There's many 'greatest hits' around the walls, in an altogether more manageable configuration than walking around the Louvre.

As a quick example, above is the Bal du moulin de la Galette by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Some of these particularly famous pictures can be difficult to approach, but others sit quietly for inspection aa close as the original painter.

There museum also has a great sense of scale, with larger works displayed in the one-time train hall.

There's vast sculptures as well as areas allocated to genre within this broadly impressionist era series of exhibits.

And part way around there's the bustling restaurant, under one of the faces of the Orsay's huge clocks. Time for lunch and a view across to Montparnasse. It almost felt like sitting in one of the paintings.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

rive gauche to Champs Elysee

A quick iPhone snap of a Paris street scene, bustling with tourists. All the necessary components are present. Metro station, pavement cafe, art deco touches. It could almost be a scene used by Disney to model their Epcot version of France.

Then, turn a few more corners, and its deep into busy markets and individual shops selling fresh produce.

Paris has that Hausmann design overlaying its shape, but there's still remnants of medieval and older areas in much the same way as London. There's also a fine walkability to the central areas. From any Arondissment, it doesn't take long to get back to the Seine.

There's less traffic at this time of the year too. Partly because of the additional traffic restrictions around Paris. There is the need to display a vignette crit'air which indicates the pollution level of every car and essentially prevents some cars from being used at all in Paris.

Then there's the autolib, which, like the predecessor velib, set a kind of benchmark for urban transport options. The autolib are the small electric cars available for hire throughout Paris.

It's a similar but less expensive and more eco-friendly option to the London Zip-cars. The Paris variants are all-electric, and their bays are equipped with fast recharging points. The annual subscription is about €10 per month and the hire cost of the cars works out to less than €8 per half hour, which seems pretty good.

They are already pervasive on the streets although as a consequence it appears that some of the cars have seen active service and have a slightly Mad Max stealth paintwork sheen complete with dinks.

And meanwhile, certain streets stay hectic, although I can safely report that the Champs Elysee remains crossable, particularly with the diminished traffic of the summer.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

a glance at a french telly advert

I know they have been around for several years, but I've finally felt compelled to mention the French version of the the meerkats which feature on British television advertising.

The French ferrets are, let's be honest, a bit rubbish compared with the ones used in UK campaigns. I'm pretty sure that the two companies are not connected in any way and so it must be *cough* pure co-incidence that they are both advertising a comparison web-site.

The thing is, the UK meerkats have been imbued with personality and hardly even mention their real purpose which is to advertise insurance comparison websites.

The French equivalent look rather basic by comparison, like there wasn't much money for the actual puppets.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

blonde parisienne

Time for a few days in France. Paris in the the summer. Of course, many of the locals have moved out for the next few weeks, onto the adjacent autoroutes, where they will blend parking with trips to the south.

For us, it's been time hanging out around the Rive Gauche as well as visiting a few old haunts. My picture is from just around the corner from the Place de la Sorbonne. Notice the unique weave of the cafe chairs. And here, close to Simone de Beauvoir's old uni, we could muse upon the meaning of life through free will, choice, and personal responsibility.

Monday, 7 August 2017

in which I use a suitcase again

Having spent the last three months living out of backpacks, it seems quite luxurious to be able to pack a real suitcase for the next few days away.

Instead of travelling by boat, we'll actually be using the train and tunnel, so I'll expect the taxi to arrive around 14:00 for the first leg of the journey.

My idea of luxury still contrasts with some others. The 68 metre yacht above pulled up opposite our temporary place on the jetty a few days ago. Lady Christine is named after the wife of its owner, the Monaco-based Baron Laidlaw. One of the largest financial backers of the UK's Conservative Party, Laidlaw stepped down from his seat in the House of Lords to maintain his non-domiciled status and therefore to avoid paying UK residents' taxes.

His boat takes ten guests and has a crew of sixteen. I wonder if that includes an accountant?

Saturday, 5 August 2017

pond, stream, bridge

Part of the reason for all of the mud is the evolution of the pond. It is still being remodelled and there's a couple of excellent digger trucks involved in the process.

One is crane like and the other more of a dumper truck. At the end of the day, the blue digger crane scoops water from the pond to bathe the yellow dumper.

The process will be continuing for a couple more weeks. As well as the ponds, there's also a stream to divert and a little bridge to create.

Friday, 4 August 2017

automobile tyre prints (2017)

I'll call this artwork Automobile Tyre Prints (2017) so that it doesn't get mixed up with that Robert Rauschenberg collaboration. His was done in 1953 and he spelled "Tire" the American way.

I couldn't manage to get to Fulton Street either, but the premise is much the same, that of doing the print outside of the current property (his was outside of his house).

I also decided to be less exuberant with the paint, so have used organic mud to create the effect. It is also a reversal of the image compared with Rauschenberg. His was a black tire on a white background. Mine is brown and red tyre impressions on a tarmac background.

I've also mixed it up a bit, using two separate vehicles instead of just one. His was earnestly American, mine are from Germany and Italy, although one set of tyres was from Britain.

Like Rauschenberg's discussions, I'm not sure whether to call this Abstract Expressionism a performance, a process piece or perhaps even a distinctive exploration of indexical marking?

Whatever it is (or becomes) it creates a transitory sense of place, before elemental forces sweep it away.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017


Just right for laying some turf.
A shame we've run out part way along.
The truck is a bit muddy too.