Paris last time

It was 2012 when we took the kids to Disneyland Paris. Not really my scene, but you adjust your expectations and you have a great time (see my recent Sun City review to see what I mean).

We were there for a few days, and what surprised me more than anything else on that trip was my 6-year-old son’s desire to spend a day in Paris. One would imagine that an entire amusement park literally on his doorstep would have been more than enough entertainment, but no, apparently not.

And so we (just he and I – his sister wanted to go and meet Cinderella) caught the train into Paris and we went up the Eiffel Tower.

The lifts were fully booked, and so we had to walk up the stairs to the 2ème étage. Despite the dreary conditions, it was a lot more fun that you’d likely imagine. It was the first time that the boy had requested “a big thing” and we’d gone and done it, solely because he wanted to.

You can see a few more photos in this album.

Anyway. This all happened on the 26th June 2012. Exactly 6 years ago today.
I’m not planning to get into a regular June 26th trip to Paris every six years: this was entirely a chance occurrence.

Still, who knows where we’ll be on June 26th 2024?

Away we go

Right.

All being well, our Europe 2018 trip should be one and a bit flights in already. Are you having fun yet?

All being well, I should be somewhere over Turkey or somewhere similar as this publishes. I’m possibly asleep, listening to Ludovico Einaudi.
That is, after all, my usual MO for these sort of trips.

All being well, we should be arriving in Paris in just a few hours, assuming that the A380 operating as Emirates 073 is doing its job. And I have no reason to believe that it won’t be. The holiday starts here, and so this is probably a very good time for me to advise you to follow me on Instagram.

All being well, you probably were already, but if not, here’s the link. I intend to document much of the upcoming three weeks on there, so you’re almost certain to see regular updates. Tell your friends.

A Monday catch-up

I haven’t found one specific thing worthy of a blog post of its own yet today, so I thought I’d share several of the thing which were almost worthy of a blog post of their own. Collectively, these things are worth far more than a single blog post, so you’re certainly getting your money’s worth today.

First up: flooding in Paris:

Insane! Or rather not in Seine at all right now. This is of specific interest to me because we’ve just booked a trip to Europe in June/July and Paris and French waterways are included. I particularly enjoyed the line:

The national flood monitoring agency Vigicrues said the water levels hit a maximum height of 5.84 meters (19 feet, 2 inches) on the Austerlitz scale early Monday. That’s below initial fears last week, and well below record levels of 8.62 meters in 1910.

Yeah. But that’s only really a bonus if your property lies between 5.85 and 8.62m on the Austerlitz scale though, isn’t it?

Then: Superpods of dolphins are gathering off the coast of South Africa

Am I the only one who finds this headline vaguely threatening?
The “are gathering” bit does sound as if there is some common porpoise (stop it!) to their behaviour, and I think we’re all aware that what I mean by that is dolphin invasion, something we’ve covered here before.
Researchers suggest that it may rather be something to do with defending themselves against sharks, but then researchers would suggest that, wouldn’t they? They’re in on the act.
It’s telling that the majority of the pods have been sighted off the sleepy seaside village of Port Elizabeth. PE is the ideal place to begin an takeover: by the time the locals have worked out what is going on and release the emergency carrier pigeons from the Campanile, the tanks (either kind, you do the maths) of invading dolphins will be on the Free State border.

Playing with photos

Practice, they say, makes perfect. And one day, I’d like my photo editing to be perfect. So, whenever I can, I’m finding photos to practice on. Since I didn’t take any this weekend (again, despite this), I’ve borrowed one from Brian Micklethwait over at BrianMicklethwait.com. I loved his photo of Victoria Station (link), and so I shamelessly stole borrowed it and put a bit of a spin on it with Adobe Lightroom Classic CC.

Just for absolute clarity, I’m not suggesting that my version is in any way better. I’m just suggesting that it’s different. I was inspired by two things: firstly, the “vintage” look of the station roof, and secondly, Brian’s own thoughts on his image:

I like how this kind of scene permits bright colours, like those little union jacks, but turns fainter colours monochrome, like when that little girl in a red coat appears in Schindler’s List.

The more washed out feel that I’ve tried to give it still allows for those flags to stand out. Maybe they should stand out more. Maybe I should practice more.

And, just because I liked the headlines, these:

Because the data from their fitness apps are now publicly available.

and:

Only, of course, if you’re singing and dancing pornographically in Cambodia.

This weekend: observations

Social media hasn’t been a pleasant place to be this weekend. That’s why I’ve pretty much avoided it, dipping in only occasionally to get the latest updates and to see what other people have been saying; sitting on my hands, merely observing. I don’t have the answers to the sort of thing we saw happen in Paris on Friday evening: I’m actually pretty sure that no-one else does either. But social media, with its instant, apparently consequence-free soundbites is hardly the best place for sensible discussion on big matters like these. It has, however, proven to be an interesting social experiment and a wonderful indication of people’s humanity, or lack of it. Some of the stuff I’ve seen has been fairly repugnant – it’s made me reconsider some people’s previous statements on many other things, and it has given me some insight on how I should view their future viewpoints as well.

Specifically, I’ve seen that France, as an example of “The West”, “deserved it”.
I’ve watched as people have suggested that it would be right to use nuclear weapons against IS.
I’ve seen, countless times, that the media only concentrate on violence in “The West” – ignoring the events that occurred in Baghdad and Beirut. On that, perhaps stop watching Western media, in much the same way that I stopped watching Look North when I got fed up just hearing what was happening in Leeds. I’m quite sure that Iraqi, Lebanese and Middle Eastern media generally have disproportionate reporting as well. Go watch them for some of the time. But honestly, don’t watch Western TV news and use Western-based social media the day after the biggest attack on France since World War 2 and expect to hear about much else.
I noted, with some dark amusement, the suggestion that Britain should “ban the burqa”, citing examples of the Netherlands and France as leaders in this policy. Yes, and that’s worked really well in at least 50% of those nations.
I’ve been told, over and over again, from every side, how I should react, what I must and must not say, what’s acceptable to think and what is not. No, thank you.
I’ve seen incredulity that a passport could have apparently survived a suicide bomb. People seem to think that everything nearby simply ceases to exist. Science says otherwise.
I’ve watched as the traditional conspiracy theorists theorise conspiratorially: it was a false flag, it was Israel, it was merely a government plot to push for more control in their homelands, more bombing abroad, more restrictions on immigration.
I’ve seen people say “don’t blame religion”. No. Of course, don’t blame every individual from one one specific religion, but please don’t insult me by telling me that I must pretend that religion has nothing to do with this.

As I have said, I don’t have the answers. But, importantly, neither do any of those other people who have been sharing their differing opinions. That’s not to say that they can’t do so. I’m lucky enough to come from and to live in countries which allow their citizens to speak freely. But after watching the hateful exchanges on Facebook and (more so) Twitter this weekend, I’m reminded of the old adage: Speak Only if You Can Improve Upon the Silence.

I didn’t believe I could, and so I chose to keep quiet. I wish a lot of others had done so too.

Paris

Shorter on time today than on other days I might mention (see yesterday’s mammoth monologue about political interference in sport) (it’s better than it sounds) (really).

Thus, we head quota photo-ward and these beautiful images of Paris – specifically the Eiffel Tower in these two, but there are many more here:

eif2

eif1

The symmetry in that top one, though. Wow.

It’s always difficult with these gallery type posts, but I think that these are the work of Hungarian Zsolt Hlinka.

You can find more of his work here.