Malevolence

Entrance to 6ème's mairie

6ème has a reputation of being a nice arrondissement of Lyon. Like any area of a city, 6ème has its better parts and worse. When we moved here four years ago, I picked it based on research; the location had all we thought we would need.

6ème’s reputation reached further than we expected. An electrician involved in our house build knew of 6ème and joked that it was a nice area so he should charge us more.

On Monday, two men attempted to burgle our apartment while I was home.

The attempt was not the first incident in this building and our neighbours tell us this is not isolated to this building. Nearby buildings are also suffering increasingly from theft and vandalism.

Like any area, 6ème has better parts with buildings showing off carved façades and pretty squares. In particular I think of Brotteaux and towards the parc de la tête d’or; areas that sustain luxury car resellers and fancy boutique stores.

Brotteaux, Lyon, at night
Brotteaux, Lyon, at night
Entrance to 6ème's mairie
Entrance to 6ème’s mairie

The two men who tried to break into our home were opportunistic. The circumstances that led to them singling out our apartment are clear to us and unfortunate. I do not think they began their day considering entering another’s home but they did not set out that morning as saints either.

Numerous postboxes in our building were forced open or destroyed. What they were looking for I am not sure. What is of particular value in most people’s postboxes?

Our building is old, poorly maintained, and far from being considered a better part of 6ème. The residents are not wealthy or well to do. Our street has multiple laundrettes, a tattoo parlor has recently opened nearby, and graffiti provides a visual backdrop.

Woman walking near graffiti in 6ème, Lyon
Woman walking near graffiti in 6ème, Lyon
Tabac hoarding covered in graffiti
Tabac hoarding covered in graffiti
Man skateboarding along the street at night.
Man skateboarding along the street at night.

I should have called the police there and then.

Up until the last moment, I thought it a mistake. The actions of error or farce, not malevolence. Until the last moment I expected the situation to dissolve.

I was however ready. I knew I would have no opportunity to flee, so fight was my only option. The intruders would block my exit.

Recycling

Being out of the apartment at odd hours shows you a different city.

Our early morning runs reveal an activity I suspect most are unaware of. Bins are systematically checked by organised groups. Those involved are often well dressed men, frequently dragging a wheeled shopping bag, who work their way through bins left out on the street for collection. When sighted, they shroud their activity but often too late to go unnoticed. The streets are long and a runner approaches quickly and treads quietly.

I expected them to extract cashable items, such as broken electrics or reusable items, but they do not. I do not know what they are fetching.

Police

The two men suddenly gave up and ran back down the stairs.

Since then we had our first interaction with the national police. A new experience for us and one that I would like not to need again. A dossier will be created, a reference number assigned, and a record kept. Another statistic augmented.

Frozen Once Again

Thick ice formed over the water.

2017 started with a wave of glacial weather passing over Lyon. This time I did not get a change to see if ice was floating down the river but we did go to the local park.

The biggest city park in Lyon is called parc de la tête d’or and within the park is a sizeable lake. This winter the lake froze from edge to edge. Small patches of open water remained where circulation pipes kept the water moving vigorously enough but elsewhere a few centimetres of ice formed.

Ice in parc de la tête d'or.
Ice in parc de la tête d’or.
Thick ice formed over the water.
Thick ice formed over the water.
The lake is frozen edge to edge.
The lake is frozen edge to edge.

Bubbles of Warmth at the Market

During the coldest days the number of market stalls was reduced as venders chose to stay away. Of the stalls that did appear, many had surrounded themselves in plastic sheet. Inside powerful heaters pumped out warm air creating a bubble of warmth for the staff and customers.

Reduce number of stalls. Many covered in a bubble of plastic.
Reduced number of market stalls. Many covered in a bubble of plastic.
Inside a market stall. Heater just visible on the left.
Inside a market stall. Heater just visible on the left.

The glacial temperatures have gone now and I am grateful.

Ice covers the pavements.
Ice covers the pavements.

Happy Christmas

Strand, London

The last twelve months have been a momentous year. Next year will likely see little rest until the house is done and we are settled within – and that may devour most of the year.

Happy Christmas! We hope you are enjoying the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Strand, London
Strand, London
Shopping street decorations in London
Shopping street decorations in London
Shopping street decorations in London
Shopping street decorations in London
Christmas decorations on London street
Christmas decorations on London street
Nutcracker decoration within London street railing
Nutcracker decoration within London street railing

Photos from Fête des Lumières

Crowds fill the streets of Lyon during the Fête des Lumières.

Lyon’s Fête des Lumières, festival of lights, returned this week. For the last few years I have filmed the exhibits and shared the films here. This year I tried something a little different.

Heightened security had cancelled the festival last year; so 2016 saw a reduced three day schedule with more check points. I was relieved that the increased security did not diminish our experience.

This year I wanted show more of the crowds that flow through the city streets. The number of people moving around the centre is impressive.

Crowds move through the streets of Lyon.
Crowds move through the streets of Lyon.
Crowds fill the streets of Lyon during the Fête des Lumières.
Crowds fill the streets of Lyon during the Fête des Lumières.
Cafes attempt to attract passing festival traffic.
Cafes attempt to attract passing festival traffic.

Place des Terreaux

Crowds are funnelled towards Place des Terreaux.
Crowds are funnelled towards Place des Terreaux.
Large projector shines out in Place des Terreaux
Large projector shines out in Place des Terreaux
A projector shines out in Place des Terreaux
A projector shines out in Place des Terreaux
A projector shines out in Place des Terreaux
A projector shines out in Place des Terreaux
The Owl is projected onto the buildings of Place des Terreaux.
The Owl is projected onto the buildings of Place des Terreaux.

Place de la Republique

An illumination in Place de la Republique.
An illumination in Place de la Republique.
Lanterns spans rue de la Republique. in Lyon.
Lanterns spans rue de la Republique. in Lyon.

Place des Jacobins

A man photographs the illumination at Place des Jacobins in Lyon.
A man photographs the illumination at Place des Jacobins in Lyon.

Odds and Ends

Detail of a Christmas decoration in Lyon.
Detail of a Christmas decoration in Lyon.
Lights shine out over the River Rhône.
Lights shine out over the River Rhône.
Red light illuminates a street wall in Lyon.
Red light illuminates a street wall in Lyon.

Autumn Colours in Lyon’s Park

Autumn in Lyon's parc de la tête d'or

This will be our final Autumn in Lyon. With that in mind, we made sure to take our opportunity to see the autumnal display. Since taking these photos, most of the trees have lost their leaves and are braced for the coming winter months.

Autumn in Lyon's parc de la tête d'or
Autumn in Lyon’s parc de la tête d’or
Autumn in Lyon's parc de la tête d'or
Autumn in Lyon’s parc de la tête d’or
Autumn in Lyon's parc de la tête d'or
Autumn in Lyon’s parc de la tête d’or
Autumn in Lyon's parc de la tête d'or
Autumn in Lyon’s parc de la tête d’or
Autumn in Lyon's parc de la tête d'or
Autumn in Lyon’s parc de la tête d’or
Autumn in Lyon's parc de la tête d'or
Autumn in Lyon’s parc de la tête d’or

The Shingle Spit in Whitstable

Beach huts and Whitstable Street

Whitstable is home to a street that disappears and reappears with the tide. The street is called Whitstable Street. It goes no-where but out to sea.

Whitstable Street is a shingle spit that juts out from the town of Whitstable into the sea.

When we visited the tide was out and the street was exposed. We joined numerous dog walkers and tourists to walk out away from the town and towards the sea.

As we walked further along the spit, the ground became increasingly waterlogged. The level of the sand fell ever so gradually across the length of the spit and at the edges. There was no great drop off into the water. Instead stepping off the spit would have put your foot into only a centimetre or so of water.

Looking out to the sea over Whitstable Street
Looking out to the sea over Whitstable Street
Looking back at Whitstable from the end of the shingle spit
Looking back at Whitstable from the end of the shingle spit
Whitstable Street
Whitstable Street

Signs warn visitors to be careful of the tide as the spit is submerged as the water comes in.

Sign near Whitstable Street warning of the associated dangers
Sign near Whitstable Street warning of the associated dangers

I took some footage of the visit and you can see the resulting short film Whitstable Street on YouTube or below:

Beach Huts in Whitstable

Beach huts in Whitstable, United Kingdom

Whitstable is home to rows of beautifully painted beach huts. As a seaside town once famous as a holiday get away for residents of Canterbury and London, the town has seen many changes in fortune. The beach huts however have been maintained and look great.

I shudder at the value these small wooden buildings must command today.

Beach huts in Whitstable, United Kingdom
Beach huts in Whitstable, United Kingdom
Beach huts in Whitstable, United Kingdom
Beach huts in Whitstable, United Kingdom
Beach huts in Whitstable, United Kingdom
Beach huts in Whitstable, United Kingdom

In isolation the beach huts are easy to photograph and look beautiful. A wider shot suggests how Whitstable has had to adapt to a world were tourism is not a reliable source of work and wealth. A large industrial building, I think a gravel works, looms on the horizon near the still working harbour.

Industrial buildings overshadow the beach huts
Industrial buildings overshadow the beach huts

Whitstable

Fishing boat in Whitstable

It is a town name so familiar but one that I really knew nothing of. Whitstable is a seaside town in the south-east of the United Kingdom and we visited just before Christmas. Apart from the allure of the famous name, we wanted to eat fish and chips by the sea.

Whitstable turned out to be a surprisingly pretty seaside town with plenty to occupy our short day trip. We took the bus from Canterbury and stepped out somewhere in the town centre. From there we wandered around and enjoyed the sights.

The shore feels iconic with fishing boats, heaped oyster shells, and row after row of wooden sea defences running from the beach down into the water.

Spat collectors in Whitstable
Spat collectors in Whitstable
Heap of discarded oyster shells
Heap of discarded oyster shells
Boats in harbour
Boats in harbour
Fishing boat in Whitstable
Fishing boat in Whitstable
Coloured beach huts in Whitstable
Coloured beach huts in Whitstable
Shore line sea defences
Shore line sea defences
Sea gulls flocking
Sea gulls flocking
Wind farm in the sea
Wind farm in the sea

Fish and Chips

We got our fish and chips. They were all we wanted and hoped for.

Fish and chip shop in Whitstable
Fish and chip shop in Whitstable
Fish and chips in Whitstable
Fish and chips in Whitstable

Canterbury

Moss growing on an old pub in Canterbury.

We spent a few pleasant days in Canterbury before Christmas last year. An historic town in the south-east of the United Kingdom.

The daylight hours we had were short. It was deep winter and the sun was setting around three in the afternoon. Something of a surprise arriving directly from a fairly sunny central France.

Cathedral by Day and Night

The cathedral was not our main destination in the city. We have seen plenty of cathedrals and the price made it difficult to justify another.

Of course, that did not stop us walking around the grounds and taking photos by both day and night.

Looking up at Canterbury cathedral at night.
Looking up at Canterbury cathedral at night.
Looking up at Canterbury cathedral at night.
Looking up at Canterbury cathedral at night.
Entrance to Canterbury cathedral.
Entrance to Canterbury cathedral.
Canterbury cathedral at night.
Canterbury cathedral at night.
Laneway leading to Canterbury cathedral.
Laneway leading to Canterbury cathedral.
Canterbury cathedral in the daytime.
Canterbury cathedral in the daytime.
Looking up at Canterbury cathedral in the day.
Looking up at Canterbury cathedral in the day.
Grand entrance to the cathedral lined with royalty.
Grand entrance to the cathedral lined with royalty.
The reigning queen and prince of the United Kingdom.
The reigning queen and prince of the United Kingdom.

Canterbury Castle

A ruined Norman era castle sits in a park within Canterbury. Visitors are free to wander in and around. There is a flight of spiral stairs to climb to reach a small look-out.

Old castle in Canterbury.
Old castle in Canterbury.
Inside a castle within Canterbury.
Inside a castle within Canterbury.
Stairwell within a ruined castle.
Stairwell within a ruined castle.

The town itself is full of old and not so old buildings. The small details of the buildings stood out to me; moss reclaiming a roof and use of sharp dark rock to cover the buildings.

Old house in Canterbury.
Old house in Canterbury.
Detail of an old house in Canterbury.
Detail of an old house in Canterbury.
Waterway passes through Canterbury.
Waterway passes through Canterbury.
Moss growing on an old pub in Canterbury.
Moss growing on an old pub in Canterbury.
Detail of a building in Canterbury.
Detail of a building in Canterbury.
Many buildings were lined with stone.
Many buildings were lined with stone.
Morning view down a shopping street in Canterbury.
Morning view down a shopping street in Canterbury.
Train crosses the street.
Train crosses the street.
Church near a gate to the city of Canterbury.
Church near a gate to the city of Canterbury.
Christmas decorations cross the street.
Christmas decorations cross the street.
Gate at the edge of Canterbury.
Gate at the edge of Canterbury.
Waterway passing through Canterbury.
Waterway passing through Canterbury.

The medieval walls surrounding Canterbury can be walked along. A good starting point is near the bus stop and the views are enjoyable. Modern life has placed a ring road around the walls, which takes away from the external views. Life goes on and such developments keep the city alive.

Medieval city walls of Canterbury.
Medieval city walls of Canterbury.