Friday, 20 November 2009

Venice in Winter

The academic who has just turned 40
went to Venice for a special birthday weekend.

The Doges Palace
Edward Seago

I recommended our little hotel
near the Accademia Bridge

The Grand Canal from Accademia Bridge
Edward Seago

and told him to ask for the room at the front
which overlooks the canal.

The Doorway, Venice
Edward Seago

We arrived by watertaxi at night
when Venice was shrouded in fog
and nothing could have been
more magical or romantic.

Venice at night
Edward Seago

The academic told me of a tiny restaurant
hidden among back streets
and I longed to return.

Maybe in the Spring.


Edward Seago (1910 - 1974)
started his artistic career in a travelling circus
but went on to develop an Impressionistic style
which he used to explore the effect of light and shade
in various locations from the Antarctic to the Norfolk Broads.
His paintings were much sought after and he enjoyed
the enthusiastic patronage of the Queen Mother.
I look forward to the Centenary exhibition
at the Portland Gallery in February 2010.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Walking through the RGS

"The learned society & professional body
for geography & geographers."

The Map Room has low cabinets
with shallow drawers.
The temptation to open one
almost overcomes me.

There is a lunch reception and
I see out of the corner of my eye
that the immaculate man on the sofa
is from the Embassy of Azerbaijan.

Tea Room : for use by Fellows and Guests only
Do eminent explorers drink tea?

I am momentarily distracted
by the selection of guidebooks
for the Arctic and Antartica.

Stanley, moustachioed and belligerent,
is hidden behind the swing doors.

The Zanzibar chests
are from the Artefacts collection of the Society.
Please do not sit on them.

A sliver of the Royal Albert Hall
is glimpsed through the tall casement windows.

In the empty lecture theatre
the brass edge to the balcony seats
shines dully in the half-light.

Lavatories on the Minstrels Gallery

Sir Wilfred Thesiger stares back at me,
his hooded bronze eyes exactly on a level with mine.

The leather seats in the corridors
are gold embossed with
the impressive design of the RGS,
crowned and gartered.

Photographs of Sherpas
from the 1936 expedition to Everest
stare solemnly out over the exhibition space.
In this building where great expeditions
have been proposed and planned
they claim their rightful place.


Founded in 1830,
Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)
is a world centre for geography:
supporting research, education,
fieldwork & expeditions,
and promoting public engagement
and informed enjoyment of our world.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Yardangs and other matters...

I know that yardangs
are not the obvious choice for a post
but bear with me...

MrM and MrsM recently had the pleasure
of meeting a friend of MissM,
let us call him MasterN,
and, as luck would have it, he is a Geographer.

MrsM was able to make intelligent conversation
about exhibitions that she had been to at the RGS.

MissM was able to entertain us
with stories of the coldest place on earth.

and MrM?

MrM decided to give a monologue about yardangs
(which appears to be all that he remembers
from years of Geography lessons)
and spoke at length
and in great detail
until MrsM and MissM begged him to stop.

MasterN gave a very good impression
of being completely fascinated
by the mysterious world of the yardang
and delighted by the chance to learn about them...

which is why I think we should refer to him
from now on as
the Charming MasterN.