Showing posts with label VIDEO. Show all posts
Showing posts with label VIDEO. Show all posts

24 May 2018

Guernsey and its Little Chapel

Island with a population of 63,000 people. In 1215 King John promised a special charter, the locals would not have to pay taxes to London or obey Westminster laws as long as they recognized the Queen as their sovereign in her capacity as "Duke" (not Duchess) of Normandy.  Apparently Queen Victoria loved it and came to visit no less than five times.

Today it is not part of the EU though it applies all standards to such things as food. Mints its own coins which are on par with the UK pound, but they are not accepted outside the island. If you get sick, good luck because neither NHS nor European Health Insurance Card are accepted here.

Funny to think about it now but French official language until 1920s. The switch began in the 1880s with English newspapers becoming more  and more popular. Lawyers must study French even today because of old laws in French. French language killed off in WWII when kids went to England.

It was occupied by Germany but Churchill did not attempt to retake it until the end of the war.

The property market has two separate tiers: a) a local market only for residents average 400k and b) an open market property for all but only 170 houses, very expensive 1.5mill at least. 

An honor system for selling milk cheese and veggies produced by private people, no license just pick up and leave money in a jar.

In the past privateers, pirates allowed with the letter of the mark by king if they pay 60pc of their loot to him, and pirates from here caught Spanish Dutch and French ships. Today, our guide says, the main industry is banking , a sort of modern piracy ! Then tourism ...

Interesting little music box in some shop we visited on the island.

Visit to Little Chapel, the smallest inthe world, they say. Here is the description of Little Chapel from the Visitguernsey website:

The Little Chapel was a work of art and labor of love built by Brother Déodat, who started work in March 1914. His plan was to create a miniature version of the famous grotto and basilica at Lourdes in France. The version you see today is actually the third version.

The first, measuring a tiny 9 feet long by 4.5 feet wide, was criticized, so Brother Deodat spent the following night demolishing the building. He soon set to work again and, in July 1914, the grotto was completed and officially blessed. This survived until September 1923; Brother Deodat demolished it in that month because the Bishop of Portsmouth had not been able to fit through the doorway.

He soon set about the construction of a third chapel - which we see today. The building operation proved laborious, collecting pebbles and broken china to decorate the shrine. Then suddenly the Little Chapel became famous, thanks to an illustrated article in the Daily Mirror. Presents poured in from around the world and Islanders brought colored china to Les Vauxbelets with the Lieutenant-Governor offering remarkable mother-of-pearl.

In 1939 Brother Deodat returned to France because of ill health. After his departure, the care of the Little Chapel was entrusted to Brother Cephas, who continued to decorate the building until his retirement in 1965. In 1977, a committee was established to restore the chapel and today it falls under the care of The Little Chapel Foundation.

There is no charge to enter the Chapel as it relies totally on public donations.

Tribute to the crew in kitchens and restaurants at the end of the cruise!

21 May 2018

Belfast and Giants’ Causeway

As we disembark we see piles of coal at the harbor, they tell us it is still extensively used for home heating! We have a guide who is obviously a Catholic nationalist, here is a few points from his explanations during the day.

Now Northern Ireland is trying to revive the shipbuilding industry concentrating on repairs, 800 workers, used to have more than 25000. The Titanic, of course, was built here. Biggest exports from Northern Ireland are farm products, lamb cheese, and machinery.

Belfast now has 500,000+ inhabitants, 10th largest city in the in the UK. In 1888 queen Victoria gave Belfast city status.

Giant causeway, since 1996 UNESCO World Heritage Site, the only one in NI. It was formed 50 million years ago by volcanic eruptions and is made up of about 40,000 stones.

According to mythology a giant from Scotland and one from Ireland were fighting. The Scottish giant bigger Irish ran back and wife.

The Vikings ruled here from the 9th to 11th century, then Anglo Saxons in 12th , build castles. Later English and Scottish domination take best land, Irish discriminated against.

1588 shipwrecks of Armada, uncharted waters on West coast of Ireland

1845 to 1852 famine 1 million died, another million migration to America
Catholics persecuted, Gaelic language prohibited during protestant reformation

Why the UK keep North Ireland after Irish independence in 1922:

- strategic reason: feel vulnerable to attack from Atlantic
- economic: 6 counties in ni richest, textile shipbuilding. At partition Northern Ireland had 80% of the island's gdp, today 9%.
- just over 50% in Ulster wanted to remain in the UK.

Unionists wanted NI to be a "protestant priority" land. In the late 1960s lots of catholic uprising, they were inspired by the American Civil rights movement, discrimination against Catholics similar to that against blacks in the USA
even segregation, created enclaves, separated by so-called peace walls still visible.

The army was sent in. In 1971 cases of internment of Catholics without trial
powers to army directed against Catholics, up to 5 years in jail without charge.

Demonstrations in Derry but the UK deployed parachute regiments
barricaded and 28 civilian shot 14 dead on bloody Sunday 1972

Belfast very divided city, conflict until 1994 the start negotiating. Good Friday agreement in 1998. But still divided, built more "peace walls" after the Good Friday agreement.

In many ways a backward country, everyone got the right to vote in local elections 1973, before that one had to be a  landowner!

20 May 2018

Killybegs, Ireland

Biggest hand-operated loom in the world made with Canadian pine wood. The lady said she can do 1000 knots per hour!

These carpets are in Irish embassies around the world and other major public places.

At a local pub, some musicians and crew singers from our ship fraternize.

The town sports a small "cathedral" and lots of fishing boats. A quiet walk under the warm drizzle.

16 May 2018

Stirling Castle, Scotland

Bits and pieces from our visit to Stirling Castle in Scotland.

Lucky to get (like every day!) forward seats in our bus. They are reserved for disabled tourists but there are never any and we board last so they are available! Pleasant ride to Greenock, the name means "sunny place" Forty-five thousand people, the economy developed on sugar from the Caribbean. This thanks to the 1707 union treaty, grow by trading with British colonies in America avoid French and Spanish pirates further south. 

James Watt from here Britain's oldest dry docks, now build submarine for Australia. Only 2.5% of the people now speak Gaelic.  Scotland issues its own own banknote GBP but sometimes it is not accepted abroad

We hear a story about the local kelpie, a horse/human figure that haunts the lakes of Scotland...

In the evening chat with Axel, our waiter from the Philippines. She's been on this ship for 2 years, before that 9 years on Queen Mary 2, that was her home. Once she had a serious problem with one eye lost sight. Cunard paid all treatment for two years during which he could not work. then took her back on Queen Victoria.

16 February 2018

Chinese New Year parade in Hong Kong

Traditional parade organized every year in Hong Kong for the Chinese (Lunar) New Year.

31 July 2017

Dive n. 754: Hot Rocks, Bima Bay, West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia

Curiose bolla di gas vulcanico a Bima Bay, West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia.

Grazie all'equipaggio del Dewi Nusantara.

26 July 2017

Drone videos, Komodo islands, Indonesia

Fun between dives, Komodo, Indonesia. Videos by Luca Triscornia.

25 July 2017

Komodo National Park, Indonesia, dive cruise July 2017

Courtesy of Andre on Dewi Nusantara, this is me chasing fish with my camera!

Mission report from a great trip on the best liveaboard!

The video below is by my dive buddy Luca, published with his kind permission.

22 December 2016

Grand Place in Brussels

Every Christmas the Grand Place of Brussels, Belgium, one of the largest and most charming squares in Europe, offers a sounds and lights show...

16 February 2016

Il giorno del fidanzamento

Fidanzamento subacqueo a Bunaken, Indonesia. Si sa che le donne amano le sorprese, e questa volta mi sono sorpreso anche io!

20 December 2013

14. - 20 Dec.: Cape Town tour and music

Tour of the city with Teddy, a big colored man in his mid-thirties who is passionate about his country and especially his city. He takes us around in his van, the two of us together with two Indian couples in their sixties from Delhi.

As he drives along he fills time with his personal anecdotes. A predictable but nonetheless moving one is his memory of the day Mandela was freed in 1990 and spoke to the crowd. It could have been the beginning of the end for the country. Blacks and coloreds were waiting for their day of revenge, or at least of payback. Teddy tells with still vibrant emotions that they were all waiting for a signal to go and get them... But Mandela spoke of peace and reconciliation, and South Africa lived.

He drops us off at the bottom of the cable car that will take us to the Table Top, the landmark mountain of Cape Town and  Natural World Heritage Site of UNESCO. We are lucky today: not only is the weather great: sunny and just slightly breezy. But, most importantly, there is very little wind, and wind is the main reason why the service is shut down on most days. Now however the cable car runs with hurried alacrity, ferrying hundreds of people up and down the mountain.

Not only that: at the bottom station of the cable car, a huge bill board proudly announces that Table Top has been declared a wonder of the world. Well...

The view from the top is indeed stunning. Lots of people but enough space for everyone to enjoy his personal corner with Cape Town, Robben Island and the ocean as background.

As we continue our tour, a more interesting and unusual story we hear from Teddy as we drive by the city court house. It is that of his brother, whose skin is very fair. While they sahre the same parents, Teddy came out much darker. It happens. because of his whitish skin, his brother Henry was taken away from his family and sent to white orphanage. It was not considered acceptable for a "white" kid to be brought up in a colored family. Henry spent some time in the white orphanage, while their mother tried all possible legal recourse to have him back home. It took some years, but in the end she prevailed. That a mother had to go through all that ordeal to prove a kid was her own son highlights once more, if needed, the absurdity of the foundation upon which the apartheid regime was built.

Evening of jazz with Sobelo, of Flipsidetrails. He is a dynamic jolly good fellow who organizes special tours the beaten track. We are going to spend the evening and the night with local jazz musicians.

Our first stop is at the home of Hilton Schilder, in a suburb of Cape Town that we reach after a 20-minute drive. Hilton and his wife welcome us at the door and we are led into their small but comfortable house. After we take our seats in the living room, in front of a grand piano, Hilton tells us a bit about his personal history.

Hilton grew up in a musical family: he is the son of famous jazz pianist and band leader Tony Schilder. He was around when his dad’s jazz band rehearsed and secretly climbed on drummer Monty Weber´s drum kit when rehearsals were over. At the age of three he was given his first very own drum. From an early age he began to play in many different kinds of groups. There were jazz bands, Carnival troupes, disco bands, hip-hop groups and he was part of all of these in one way or another.

He now plays several instruments, though the keyboard is his main choice. Today he is playing an electric keyboard for us because his piano is out of tune.

In the 1980s he founded with Mac McKenzie The Genuines, which specialized in the music of the Cape Province Goema. He introduced experimental concept bands like African Dream and Iconoclast (with Victor Ntoni and Vusi Khumalo) to combine traditional South African music with contemporary genres. In addition, he led his own groups, he has performed with Festival on the Cape Town International Jazz, and went on tour with John Enders.

This band also performed in Germany, Holland and Italy. He has also performed solo in France. He was the driving force behind the band, Iconoclast, and he is a regular member of Robbie Jansen's, Sons of Table Mountain as well as substantial contributor to these groups' repertoire as a composer.

His first album under his own name No Turning Back (2003) was nominated in the category 'Best Contemporary Jazz Album' for a South African Music Award (SAMA). It offers a range of music from Cape Jazz, through rock/pop to electro ambient sounds.  With Alex van Heerden, he founded the duo RockArt, the direction in acoustic and electronic jazz minimal moves and also appeared in Switzerland. With Mac McKenzie he has launched in recent years, projects such as Namakwa, the District Six band and The Goema Captains of Cape Town to life. In 2008 he was given the opportunity, his various activities as Artist in Residence in the Bird's Eye Jazz Club in Basel imagine

Hilton's cultural roots are ever evident in his work. He is intensely aware of his social and political surroundings. He describes himself as a "mind freedom fighter".He has also been a fighter against his liver cancer, which at one point seemed to have seriously threatened his life but from which he now seems to have recovered.

Finally, his eclectic personality spans over the visual arts as well. He like painting and has produced interesting etchings.

by Hilton Schilder

In the meantime his wife is putting the final touches on her meal. As many South Africans, they are of mixed blood and also mixed culinary heritage and tonight's fare blends some Malay flavors with more purely African meat and veggies.

A simple but delicious meal and when we are done it feels as if we'd been friends for ages. I am sure we'll meet again.

But the musical evening is not out: after leaving the Schilders at around 10:00pm, we head back to twon for the Mohogany room pub, where Shane Cooper and his famed double bass are playing with a small band of piano, sax and drums.

On the way, Sobelo slides a CD by Abdullah Ibrahim, another symbol of the country's music, into his car's player.

At the Mohogany Room we are welcomed by a pretty lady at the door. After paying our ticket we walk inside and take our seat a few rows away from the stage. After which we go and grab a drink. I go for my usual boring gin and tonic, but Yan is faithful to her Sex on the beach. As always, she is met by a giggle and a shaking of heads from the other side of the counter... The wooden chairs in the small room is packed with an audience of perhaps eighty, and quite a few more are standing by the walls. It is quite hot and stuffy but the rythms.

Shane Cooper

It is quite warm though a couple of A/C machines pour a cold avalanche of freezing air right on top of our heads. I love it despite the fact that my skull is no longer protected by hair, but Yan finds this artificial breeze annoying. I tell her that there is not much we can do, it is hot as it is and it would be unbearably stuffy if they turned it off, and plus can we ask the management to make everyone else sweat, including me, because she does not like A/C.  But, as always, she has her way: during intermission she politely asks the lady at the counter if anything can be done and while I bury my head in my hands and look the other was the lady simply stops the A/C's swinging blades so that the cool air is now directed to the ceiling and not down to our heads. Simple.

When all of this is sorted out we can start enjoying our music. Shane Cooper, as often with double bass players in jazz, is a bit overshadowed by the piano, the drums and especially the sax. He does stand out in a couple of solo improvisations though, and his natural talent as well as his precise technique immediately strike me as out of the ordinary.

It's been a long day in Cape Town, and one to remember for a long time.