great_yarmouth_pier

A day at the seaside: Great Yarmouth, July 2016

I will always have happy memories of Great Yarmouth. I went there as a child for the beach, the funfair, the Saturday market, the rollercoaster.

That was many years ago now, the late 1970s, the early 1980s. I remember a rather scrappy but lively place, full of comfortable working class families like ours, with money to spend to enjoy the summer amusements. Yarmouth could hardly be mistaken for one of the well-to-do East Anglian seaside towns close by, like Southwold, Aldeburgh or Walberswick. But it had a robust character of its own, the streets leading down to the sea packed, the beaches lined with colourful windbreakers, the fairground rides full, the shops stuffed with glittering rubbish, the end-of-pier music hall host to many of the UK’s most popular old school comedians: Cannon and Ball, Rod Hull and Emu, even Morecambe and Wise from time-to-time.

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basilica_nazareth

Nazarene Brutalism

We have scarcely begun exploring the sacred sites of Israel and Palestine.

The churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and shrines marking their locations are usually, of course, ancient, dating to the first millennium or earlier. But very often they are relatively new, built some time in the last century on the ruins of earlier buildings (quite a few seem to date from 2000, built with various millennium funds). They tend to be contemporary iterations on earlier structures, sensitively designed polite pastiches employing familiar vernaculars.

The Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth – more often referred to as the Basilica – is a striking exception.

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tiberias_to_jerusalem

Tiberias to Jerusalem – and back

I’ll be blogging regularly about our new life in Israel/Palestine now that we have some kind of web connection. We’ve been here for a fortnight and there are too many new impressions to record in words. So here is the first of – I hope – an ongoing series of photo collections.

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Astronaut's gloves

A visit to the Kennedy Space Center, Florida

I’ve taken some time to get round to it, but here, finally, are some photos of a memorable trip to the Kennedy Space Center during my holiday in Florida last month.

The Center was built for the Apollo lunar program of the 1960s and 70s, and was later used for the space shuttle missions. These pictures don’t convey the vastness of the site, and, at least at present, its poignancy: visiting the Center one has the sense that the future is on hold as NASA waits and hopes for funding for another major space program.

I’ve had the good fortune to be able to visit the Center twice, the first time back in 2000. There’s more to see now, including a spectacular new exhibition space showcasing the Atlantis Space Shuttle. Very well worth a visit. I’ve posted these and many more photos of the Center on Flickr.

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skyscrapers_detail

New York skyscrapers, briefly

A delayed flight home at the end of a holiday can have its benefits if the airport is Newark-Liberty, a few miles from Manhattan Island.

I’ve spent innumerable hours in the airport en route to and from my wife’s family in Virginia, but had never had the opportunity to visit the city shimmering on the horizon through the terminal windows.

An unexpected 24-hour stop-over due to east coast storms gave me the opportunity, at last, a couple of days ago, to spend a few hours in downtown New York, on a blue Spring morning. The city is even more monumental than I had imagined, seeming more a phenomenon of nature than a human creation. The impression is of extraordinary density, the towers clustered so closely together as to form sheer walls of concrete and glass. The city points both to the past and the future, the great stone ziggurats of the early 20th century rising alongside modernist steel and glass.

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