Dreaming of Water

Twice this last week I’ve dreamed about water. Not the clear stuff  into which you dive rejoicing, or pour down your throat in the heat, but an opaque brown fluid like molten chocolate flowing slowly and unstoppably down steps and under doors, and then up, and up . . . I suspect this is a collective dream (or nightmare); the shared fears of thousands of people drifting across the sleeping land. We’ve had it easier than most here in Radnorshire. Familiar views suddenly become new -

_DSC0424

landscapes acquire ornamental lakes -

_DSC1776But it’s the sudden violent turbulence of the rivers in this quiet countryside that’s startling. _DSC0476

Watch the video below with the sound turned up high, if you can bear to after all these soggy weeks

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/87010870″>Bridge 1</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user25228744″>Alex Ramsay</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

You wait ages for a blog (part 2)

A lightning trip to Italy recently to shoot a couple of features – first, an unchanged 18th-century kitchen in a villa near Venice, still in use within living memory

Alex Ramsay

Then a three-hour drive to the mountains around Lake Como to stay in the sort of splendidly eccentric family-run hotel that is getting harder to find these days, followed by a day working in a lovely sixteenth-century villa, frescoed from top to bottom. Wonders behind every door – here a cupboard containing some of the family archives, going back to the early fifteenth century

Alex Ramsay

And back to catch the last of the sun and a little reward for two hardworking people . . .

Alex Ramsay

And finally, my latest book has just been published, The Gardens of Venice and the Veneto. Lots of pics, of course, and a luminously beautiful and perceptive text by Jenny Condie. As a reward for those of you who’ve scrolled down this far, I’m offering one free copy via Goodreads – see below to enter

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Gardens of Venice and the Veneto by Jenny Condie

The Gardens of Venice and the Veneto

by Jenny Condie

Giveaway ends November 05, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

You wait ages for a blog . . .

. . . and then two come along at once. It’s been such a long time since my last post, back in May, that I think I’ll have to publish in instalments. That amazing summer is now just a memory of lazy evenings after work spent by and in the river, and meals in the garden.

Alex Ramsay

summer evening by the Lugg

Wonderful working weather, too. But before starting on that, the significant (to us) news is that we are not moving. Our house sale fell through at the very last instant, which gave us the chance to look at where we stand in a new light – and behold, it wasn’t so bad after all. In fact we’ve had all the fun of moving somewhere new without actually going anywhere. Now back to some pictures. A good spread of stories this summer, stretching from Marc Swan’s extraordinary ‘showman’s ship’ (seen here proudly floating among the Herefordshire hills)

Alex Ramsay

Sir Joseph Swan

to, among others, Dorian Bowen’s intimate reconstruction of a Welsh ‘Ty Unnos’ or one-night house

Alex Ramsay

Ty Unnos

What else? It seems to have been relentless, in a good way. Some wonderful shows, notably Salgado’s Genesis, perhaps the best exhibition I’ve ever seen. (Not to be missed either is Tony Ray-Jones at the Science Museum – Only in England). Parties, weddings, work – no holiday, but then who needs one of those in this glorious climate? A trip to the fantastic NoFitState Circus was followed the next day by a team of tree surgeons in the garden doing much the same sort of thing, but with added chainsaws

Alex Ramsay

Enough for the time being, before I ramble further. More next week.

Death, in Florence

Alex Ramsay

In the Cimitero Inglese, Florence

Back again and full of the joys of Spring, as you can tell from the picture above. I’ve just had a few days in Florence, combining a shoot in the curious ‘English Cemetery’ with a modest birthday celebration. I took the sleeper from Paris for the first time since about 1965. Nothing about the train, including the smell, seems to have changed much in the intervening years. I think I may be getting a little old for the intimacy of a six-berth couchette. An early breakfast in the astonishing Milan Central Station was a treat, however – coffee and brioche surrounded by a dictator’s imperial fantasy.

Alex RamsayAlex RamsayAlex Ramsay

And home to find that at least one creature in the garden had decided that spring was imminent, despite all evidence to the contrary:

Toadspawn

Toadspawn

April Fooled

Which is what seems to have happened, what with snow to the top of the hedges and the woods gone all Brueghel. For those of you lucky enough to be in other parts of the world, this is what it looks like now. ‘Oh to be in England now that April’s there’ – Home Thoughts from Abroad is the title of that poem, of course, and I bet most of us are thinking the other way round just now.

Alex Ramsay

Alex Ramsay

Alex RamsayAlex Ramsay

Came down for breakfast this morning to find that daughters home for Easter had remembered the date and consequently filled coffee jar with raisins, put eggs in unlikely places etc. However we managed to catch one of them with heavily salted early morning tea. Revenge (unlike the tea) is sweet . . .

Happy Easter!

dilexi vos

Dilexi vos (I have loved you), the words in the medieval psalter above, are to be found in the sentence beginning ‘A new commandment I give unto you’ in St John’s Gospel. Apparently it is from the Latin version of this sentence, starting ‘mandatum’, that the word ‘Maundy’ is derived. All of which is a rather ponderous explanation of why this picture, shot years ago in a museum in Tuscany, seems appropriate for an Easter greeting post being written on Maundy Thursday. Happy Easter to all! (or Vernal Equinox, or Nowruz, or whatever may be appropriate to your own system of belief or unbelief)

A Grand Day Out . . .

Ever wondered how this photographer makes his living? A sample day earlier this week:

0515 Alarm goes.

0530 Car lock frozen solid – a hunt for matches follows. After repeated attempts in the icy darkness I manage to heat the key enough to thaw the lock.

0545 Freezing fog.

0550 Car hits an icy patch on a hairpin bend and I end up on top of a hedge, luckily the right way up.

0630 A truly wonderful passerby with a huge 4WD offers to tow me back onto the road and does so. He will accept no reward, saying cheerfully ‘it might be me next time’.

0645 The significant bits of the car appear to be working, so on I go through the fog.

0700 Fog even thicker.

0800 Road closed because of somebody else’s accident – many miles of diversion ensue.

0900 Rush hour traffic.

1000 Finally arrive at destination (Wallasey) several hours late – but the sun is shining, so straight to work shooting pictures of a spectacular church under threat of redundancy.

SS Peter, Paul & Philomena

SS Peter, Paul & Philomena

1400 Breakfast at last. I go down to the sea front – this is New Brighton, brought to the attention of the outside world by Martin Parr’s extraordinary photographs (The Last Resort). I keep thinking I’ve been here before, but of course it’s the locations of Parr’s pictures I recognise – this bus shelter, that cafe.

1600 Leave for home, having walked many streets looking for vantage points from which the church’s dome (known to sailors as the Dome of Home) could be seen. Eventually a convenient fire escape does the trick.

The Dome of Home

The Dome of Home

1900 Home – and the realisation that we are due out to supper about three quarters of an hour distant. I don’t offer to drive.

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