Random Photo Wednesday: An impression of Buddhist Life in Laos

These photos were taken on a recent trip to Luang Prabang, Laos and show some of the different temples in and around the Old Town.


Of Old Photographs, Things That Pass (Van Oude Foto’s, de Dingen die Voorbij Gaan)

I’ve been taking pictures since I was old enough to hold a camera. At first under the watchful eye of a parent or other adult on special occasions, but it really took of when I was a teenager. I went through film the same way I now go through disk space.

In those days, there were several high street shops that took in the film and sent it off for processing at their developing and printing centre. As I had a family member working at one of those centres, I could bypass the high street and give them the film. As an employee they could develop film for free and usually within a day I had my 24 or 36 prints and a fresh film to load into my very basic SLR camera. It wasn’t until they retired that I switched to digital photography.

Today I had a look at some of the pictures I took a couple of decades ago. Unfortunately I don’t have all the pictures and slides with me. Most of the slides are in storage, but at least I have some film and photographs available. Here a small selection of some scans:

Bye bye Montréal, it’s been great to get to know you!

We are back in England. Over the last three months (and a bit) we have been based in Montréal, Canada.

Three months is a long time, and plenty of time to get to know the place, the good and the bad. The city is truly beautiful in both sun and snow. Generally the people are welcoming and helpful and we have met some lovely people.

Things that are less nice are: the fact that some people seem to think that being Québecois means that you don’t have to be polite to non-French speakers;  metro announcements are only in French as are most of the signs; Québec province has the highest tax (5% Federal + 9.975% Provincial TVQ) on goods and most places (including most supermarkets and restaurants) only show the price without tax or service charges; despite the high taxation there seem to be more beggars and homeless people than in places such as Calgary (Alberta only has the 5% Federal tax). Most of this is just a minor inconvenience and does not detract from the fact  that we enjoyed our time in Montréal.

Montréal has some special sites. Of course, Montréal is named for Mount Royal visible from almost every corner of the city.

Montréal hosted the olympics the same year I was born and the stadium, known locally as the Big-O for its donut like shape (or Big Owe, as it was extremely expensive and was not paid off in full until 2006), dominates the skyline of the northern part of the city.


Next to the stadium are the Biodome and the Botanical Garden

The Biodome should not be mistaken for the Biosphere (in different seasons)

Biosphere 2

Then there is Jean-Talon, a farmers market for the agricultural produce from around the city

And finally the old city (Vieux-Montréal).

The Rocky Mountains – A Winter Wonderland

Calgary lies spread out in the hinterland of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Afar you can see the heights looming in their wintry vestments of ice and snow. From the city, one of the best vistas of the Rockies can be found on top of Calgary Tower, rising 190 meters high.

For a closer look, head to the Banff national park and Banff town, an hour and a half away. Within the park lies Lake Louise; at sunset the view is truly enchanting, the sky lit up in wonderful shades of orange. At this time of year the lake is frozen and preparations are made for the leisure seekers to try the slippery surface on skates.
The trees and shrubs are covered in heavy snow or frozen in ice, which shimmers silkily in the late rays of the sinking sun.

Squirrel! Squirrel! Squirrel!

Squirrels are plenty in Canada, in a choice selection of shades of brown-grey – from albino white to variant black. Though not as adorable as chipmunks, squirrels are generally considered to be cute. But just what is it that makes the squirrel more endearing than, for example, the rat? Is it just the bushy tail? or is there more to it?

Sometimes the squirrels have been fed by people and they have lost most of their natural fears; or, perhaps,  their hunger and their curiosity outweigh their weariness of humans. It is at those times that I have noticed their tiny, yet strong and sharp claws; and their large teeth. And I wonder: should I fear them as much as they fear me?