Notting Hill Carnival

I’ve grown to really enjoy taking photos with my iPhone. More so than I do taking photos with my Fuji. I guess there’s a couple of reasons for this. My iPhone is a more convenient tool. It’s more instant, in that snaps are sent straight to the cloud and are ready for processing and sharing straightaway. The quality in good light is also excellent these days. I’m really looking forward to seeing what advances the iPhone 7 will bring when Continue reading “Notting Hill Carnival”

Happy New Year

As both the big and little hands hit twelve at the end of the year, the tradition in Mexico is to gulp down a dozen grapes. One at a time, keeping in rhythm with the tolling of the bells. This is the sort of thing that’s always won by the fatties. I know, it’s not technically a competition. But they do sure have a smug look on their faces when they’ve greedily disposed of grape number twelve. Without even bothering to chew, I’ll wager.

How did I get on with the obligatory grape munching during my time in Mexico? I didn’t have a choice, you know. They were forcibly placed in my hands, expectation heaved on my shoulders and a dozen pairs of eyes checking my progress. You may have seen photos of me from time to time. I’m not a fatty. Thus, I wasn’t even remotely competitive. Heck, I don’t even particularly like grapes. Bingeing on them isn’t my thing. I don’t believe I ever even ate a half dozen of them at best.

I’ve often wondered, how many people choke to death on grapes on the 31st December in Mexico each year? I know you’re not meant to give young kids grapes, such is the choking potential of this innocuous looking fruit. Kids can be silly, inattentive and rush things. I imagine a heavily inebriated adult deliberately stuffing himself isn’t in much less danger. Someone has to have the statistic for this somewhere. A little collection of over zealous fatties who make it into January by a bout a minute, but fail to reach the ‘smug grin’ stage.

Aside from these less than merry thoughts, I do hope you all had a fabulous 2014 and an even better 2015. Onwards and upwards. Just be careful with the grapes tonight.

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Merry Christmas

We celebrate Christmas for the twelfth time on this little blog of mine, and the time has come to offer the traditional seasons greetings. Over the last decade and a bit I have had people leave a comment from every continent bar Antartica. And visits, fleeting or otherwise from most countries on planet earth. My statistics page tells me that at least one person from 164 countries has passed this way since February 2012 alone. Most have been from the US, the UK and Mexico, in that order. But there have also been solitary sojourns from the likes of Sudan, Djibouti, Swaziland and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Even one chap or chapette from Iran. The Ayatollah got sloppy with his censorship!

This is very much a multicultural blog. Not only has it been the story of a Brit and a Mexican forging a life either here in the UK or over there in Mexico, but we’ve visited plenty of places inbetween and further afield. Then there are those varied international visitors offering their opinions on all that has been written. Yes, that’s you! May that continue for many years to come. Some people may choose to fear diversity, but over here we embrace it and enjoy the myriad of cultures, languages, foods and other stimulating treats on offer from every corner of the world whether we meet a thousand miles from here or just around the corner from Chez Denness. And it is in this spirit that Mrs P and I wish you all a truly…..

Geséende Kersfees, Gèzur Krishlindyet, Melkame Yeledet Beale, Gozhqq Késhmish, Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah, Felices Pasquas, Shenorhavor Dzenount, Tezze Iliniz Yahsi Olsun, Poket Kristmet, Shuvo Boro Din, Zorionak eta Urte Berri On, Vrolijke Kerstmis, Vesele Vanoce, Feliz Natal, Nedeleg laouen, Tchestita Koleda, Gun Tso Sun Tan’ Gung Haw Sun, Kong He Xin Xi, Nadelik looan na looan blethen noweth, Mitho Makosi Kesikansi, Srecan Bozic, Veselé Vánoce, Glædelig Jul, Vrolijk Kerstfeest, Merry Christmas, Gajan Kristnaskon, Rehus-Beal-Ledeats, Häid jõule, Cristmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad, Maligayang Pasko, Hyvää joulua, Joyeux Noèl, Goede Krystdagen, Nollaig Chridheil, Gilotsavt Krist’es Shobas, Froehliche Weihnachten, Juullimi pilluartsi, Kala ChristouyennavV’ya pave mita tupara-pe, Barka da KirsìmatìvMele Kalikimaka, Shub Naya Baras, Kellemes Karácsonyi ünnepeket, Gledileg Jól, Selamat Hari Natal, Nollaig Shona DhuitvBuon Natale, Kurisumasu Omedeto, Sung Tan Chuk Hav, Wanikiya tonpi wowiyuskinv, Felice Festa Navititas, Prieci’gus Ziemsve’tkus, Linksmu Kalédu, Schéi Chrèschtdeeg, Nollick ghennal, Il-Milied It-Tajjeb, Meri Kirihimete, Shub Naya Varsh, Utzul mank’inal, Yá’át’ééh Keshmish, God Jul, Bagga Ayana Dhalehu Gofetatini Esenee gae, Wesolych Swiat, Boas Festas, Mata-Ki-Te-Rangi, Sumaj kausay kachun Navidad ch’sisipi, Sarbatori Bellas Hristos Razdajetsja, Buorre Juovllaid, Ia manuia le Kerisimasi, Hristos se rodi, Subha nath thalak Vewa, Veselé Vianoce, Vesele Bozicne, Feliz Navidad, God Jul, Ia ora i te Noera, Nathar Puthu Varuda Valthukkal, Sawadee Pee Mai, Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun, Srozhdestvom Kristovym, Naya Saal Mubarak Ho, Chung Mung Giang Sinh, Nadolig Llawen, E ku odun, e ku iye’dun!

Did I miss anyone…?

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St Patricks Day

The United Kingdom is made up of four separate countries. Each with their own patron saint. In England, the chap concerned is St George, after whom our flag is also named. I believe his special day is in April, but I could be wrong. There is a fringe campaign to get the general public interested in St George, but it isn’t working. Perhaps because St George is actually Turkish and not even English.

Scotland’s patron saint is St Andrew. But our Scottish friends prefer to raise a glass to their world famous poet, Robert Burns. Wales? St David. Never heard of him? I have no idea who he is either. The Irish, on the other hand, have St Patrick. And everyone celebrates St Patricks Day. You don’t need to be Irish, although if you are from the US you will no doubt be able to trace some part of the family tree back to the Emerald Isle.

I assume so, anyway. Every president in the last hundred years or so has managed to do so. We are just days away from St Patricks big day, and the image below has a few interesting facts and figures about the parties that are about to commence.


Via: Trend Micro United Kingdom

Merry Christmas!

Once upon a long, long time ago I went to a school in north London. It was a small private prep school for boys aged 7 to 13, and owned by a gentleman who looked like he’d come straight from Victorian England. Empire was revered, foreigners eyed with suspicion and Christianity played an important part in the school’s ethos.

Every Christmas we would all go to the nearby Emmanuel Church for a Christmas service. There would be carols and readings and it was always quite an enjoyable evening. Mostly because the church always had the most fantastic Christmas tree and decorations. Nowhere felt more Christmassy. Hark the Herald Angels was my favourite carol.

I have since shed the brainwashing. But Christmas is still a lovely time of year, whether you’re religious or not. I hear there’s a war on Christmas, but I can’t say I’ve ever witnessed it. I’ve never actually met someone having a war on Christmas. It must be a lonely profession. I have only met people who believe they are having a war against a war on Christmas. It must be a lonely war. I wish all the best for both of you! I like Christmas, and that’s that.

So today, on this December 25th, I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and leave you with a video of a church service held here in Blighty every year. It is perhaps the most famous choir in the UK, set up by King Henry VI in Cambridge in the 1400s, and still doing its royal duty today. Merry Christmas!

Merry Navidad

A few bloggers have recently provided personal accounts of spending Thanksgiving in Mexico, and what it means to them. The general gist being, it’s not quite the same in Mexico as it is the good ole US of A. But then I dare say that there was little expectation it would be. Thanksgiving isn’t an event in Mexico. If it were, it would probably be called Smallpox Day, or Massexecution Day or perhaps even Silverlooting Day.

Continue reading “Merry Navidad”

Goodbye 2012

Stately homes, various castles, film sets, Prince Charles, the graves of Lawrence of Arabia and Jim Morrison’s, Paris, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Hitler’s writing desk, fields of snowdrops, bluebells and other English flowers, Lord Mayor Shows, a thousand miles on the London Underground, Romans in Bath, King Arthur in Winchester, skating in Hyde Park and Somerset House, ancient stone bridges, 80’s racing cars, abandoned WW2 towns, legendary warships, Admiral Nelson, rugged coastal landscapes, funky Halloween/Day of the Dead fusion, Christmas in London. Have I forgotten anything? Oh yeah, just one more thing. The Olympics. Twenty twelve, it’s been a blast. Adios amigo. May twenty thirteen be just as good. My high point of all those London trips? That’s yet to come. Keep watching. I hope your 2012 was memorable, and I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. Cheers!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

You can click here to go see all thirty photos in the video above a little bigger. One thing I noticed when choosing them. The colours and exposure are all off. Not as I remember them when I did them. That’s the price of a burned out laptop monitor. I have a new laptop. Gotta remember to replace it before it gets too old. All the calibration in the world won’t overcome duff equipment.

One thing that was as good this year as last year? London’s fireworks display. London has long put on a few fireworks, but never anything too special. Nothing that could compare to New York, Paris or Sydney. In fact, London was embarrassing by comparison. Last year they put on something special to see in the Olympic year. And last night there was something just as special to see it out again. I hope they keep this up every year. Viva Londres!

Time Flies

Forty years ago Richard Nixon was president of the USA, fighting a seemingly unwinnable war in a far away country, trying to unite a very divided country and pumping billions of extra dollars into social security at home. How things change – or not: just a few weeks over forty years ago, the president was re-elected for a second term. In France, the last executions by guillotine in the capital city were being administered. The final French victim of that revolutionary blade would feel the cold steel on his neck elsewhere in the country in the late 70’s. The Joy of Sex was published. The FBI was about to hire its first female agents. A plane crashed in the Andes, resulting in the popularisation and social acceptance of cannibalism in modern film and literature.

John F Kennedy had been dead for less than nine years – his assassination was a more recent event forty years ago than 911 is to us today.  In Europe, Iceland decided that it would ignore all international agreements and ‘wage war’ with Britain over fishing rights, and sent eight rather feeble patrol boats out to tackle 28 destroyers and 32 frigates of the Royal Navy.  Fortunately, the Second Cod War mostly featured barrages of foul language rather than live munitions. No one was left dead and all that was hurt were a few feelings.

The Cold War between East and West had begun long ago, and yet the Second War war did not end until 19th October 1972, when Kinshichi Kozuka was shot dead in the Philippines. He was a Japanese soldier, who (like a suprisingly large number of Japanese soldiers)  refused to accept the surrender of his country and carried on fighting. Also on 19th October 1972, exactly 40 years ago, I was born. I don’t have a photo of baby me. This will have to suffice. I was clearly in training for the Third Cod War…

Waiting For A Bite

The Diamond Jubilee

I’m a bit late with this post, seeing as the Diamond Jubilee celebrations were a couple of weeks ago. But  better late than never. Mrs P and I did go up to see the sights and soak up the atmosphere. And soak up even more rain. We were just in the right place at the right time at a street party in Piccadilly – Prince Charles and Camilla appeared from the doorway of a hotel and had tea. Just a few feet from us. It made Mrs P’s day.

A little later, during the river pageant, we found ourselves in just the right place at the right time again – in a French restaurant watching it on television. We were just metres from the Thames and could hear the boats and crowds. We had a great view and completely avoided the thorough drenching that afflicted everyone else.

We hadn’t planned to go all that way just to sit in a restaurant, of course. I had assumed that, as the pageant was to sail along seven miles of river, we’d find a decent viewpoint. I mean, seriously…how could we not, with 14 miles worth of riverside to find a spot? It turns out that 1.25 million people is actually quite a lot, and every vantage point was taken hours before it even began. That is the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen. By far.

We did get a nice spot for the concert on Monday night though – the video at the bottom of this post shows the finale – a bit of Paul McCartney, the national anthem, lighting the beacon and then a pretty spectacular fireworks display. We weren’t that close to the front, but we had a good view of a big screen, the sound system was excellent and the atmosphere was great. Best of all, it didn’t rain.

We really enjoyed the weekend. It made having a Royal Family worthwhile. Briefly. I have one thought on how it can be improved any future jubilees she may choose for us to celebrate. The next one, incidentally, would be her Platinum Jubilee in ten years time. Assuming she gives the 65th, Blue Sapphire, year a miss. Assuming that jubilees follow the same pattern as weddings, which they seem to be doing.

But back to my thought. In the UK, when the national anthem is played, we play just the first verse. That’s it. There are five verses, but we stick to just the first verse. Everyone knows the words to the first verse. Good save our gracious queen, long live our noble queen, god save the queen. Tra la la la la, send her victorious, happy and glorious, long to reign over us, god save the queen. We stop there. For good reason. No one has any idea what the words to any of the other verses are.

But for some strange reason,  it was decided that two verses would be played throughout the jubilee celebrations. Which lead to awkward moments. Firstly, at the end of the first verse everyone would start cheering and clapping. And then abruptly stop, a little embarrassed, when it was realised the band had struck up again.  Followed by an awkward silence. Followed by mumbling and miming. Followed by more embarrassed clapping at the end. So next time, dear Queen….just one verse. Please. I have a few photos on Flickr here, and a load more on Instagram here.

 

Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad

I have just one day of work left, and that’s a short day. Then I have a five day Christmas break. Which I shall enjoy, with Paola, starting with a two day trip to London to see the lights and sights. This is the final post before Christmas. So we would both like to wish you all a very, very Merry Christmas by way of this Blog Card. The photo was taken by me in Covent Garden in London about a month ago. We hope you all have a wonderful time with your friends and families and get all the goodies from Santa that you’ve asked for. Feliz Navidad amigos y amigas!

Fireworks Night

Americans fire them off on July 4th to commiserate their independence. The French light the fuse to celebrate their revolution. The Chinese get them out for their New Year shindig. And Mexicans let off fireworks to celebrate Independence Day, Mothers Day, Getting Divorced Day, Monday, Tuesday, Every Other Day, and ‘Still Got Some Fireworks Left Over From Yesterday’ day.  During my stint as an honorary Mexican, I joined in. I had a great Blowing Stuff Up day. I miss Mexican fireworks displays. If you’re going to have fun with gunpowder, then do it properly.

In the UK we don’t have an Independence Day. Getting shot of the Romans can’t really count, and besides the people now known as the English, Scots and Welsh didn’t exist back then. Gloating over our double triumph over Germany in the 20th century is just so out of fashion these days. And if we celebrated over our victories against the French, we’d not have enough days in the year. Nor have we a Revolution day. True, we did once chop off a king’s head and declare ourselves a republic.

But it lasted barely a blink of the eye, and we put the child of the aforementioned beheaded monarch back on the throne. And did nasty things with the corpse of the person responsible. He should just be grateful he was dead by the time they decided to exact justice. Bring hung, drawn and quartered can’t have been a pleasant end. Don’t click that last link if you get queasy easy!

So what do the British get excited enough about to send a few rockets and whizz bangs skywards? Well. For killing a handful of Catholics, and banishing the Roman faith from these shores. Every November 5th we celebrate Guy Fawkes night. Which, if properly done, involves kids making a clothed straw mannequin, collecting pennies for him from adults, and then tossing him on a fire. It might all sound a bit bigoted. Violent. Unsavoury. But still, it’s ever so English. Yes, I did tease Paola. No, I didn’t throw her onto a bonfire. A minor singeing with a cigarette lighter sufficed. Just to keep the tradition alive.

For anyone who is genuinely concerned about this dastardly festival and the way us Brits behave, then fear not. November 5th is these days, as often as not, referred to as simply Fireworks Night. It’s as much about seeing off the Papal Posse as Christmas is about Baby Jesus. It’s all about gathering on a cold November evening, eating hotdogs and hamburgers, and watching an annual firework display just for the heck of it. Here’s a brief look at the end of the display I attended.

The Revolution Video

Further to yesterday’s post with photos, here’s a video I put together. One of my better videos if you ask me, even if it won’t win me any Oscar nominations. Some of my videos go on for just too long. This one is probably just about right. Maybe. Anyway, it’s enough to give you a taste of what the show is like.

The Revolution Extravaganza

The Zocalo has hosted some spectacular shows in its time, and over the last couple of years I’ve been lucky enough to see the 2009 Independence/Revolution Days Sound and Light show and this years Independence Day event. A week ago we saw them putting up the stages and lights for another show, to mark the 100th anniversary of the Revolution.

We went to see it last night, although if you missed it, no big deal. It’s being put on at 9pm every night till, I believe, the 23rd. You should try and see it before then – it’s the most spectacular display of lights, fireworks and dancing they’ve done yet. It really is a proper show.

At a cost, of course. I’ve read it has taken the best part of 270 million pesos out of the city’s coffers, so it wasn’t a cheap production. At least, I suppose, it doesn’t look like a show put together on a shoestring. It does give value for money. But the question is, again, should the money have been spent elsewhere.

I guess bicentenary and centenary celebrations don’t come around often, but the projects, shows and other related financial outlays are rather stacking up. But anyway….the money has been spent, so if you’re in DF make the expense that bit more worthwhile and go see it. And click here to see the rest of my photos.

A Meeting Of Metals

Day of the Dead

It’s Halloween, or here in Mexico its the Dias del Muerte – Day of the Dead. It’s one of the biggest celebrations in Mexico, with much of the population spending the night wandering around cemetaries where their relatives are buried. They go earlier in the day to place flowers on the graves, and at night they place water, special sweet bread and other favourite gastronomic treats on their tombs, just in case they pop back from the afterlife for a quick snack. Paola has been trying to convince me they really do come back, citing as proof the fact that in the morning the bread has no taste. The possibility that it’s gone dry and stale does not appear to have occured to most Mexicans….!

We didn’t go grave bopping though, instead choosing to go to the Zocalo in the evening where they have a large celebration, and a free concert by Lilly Someoneorother, a big star from Oaxaca (pronounced Wa-ha-ka) who now lives in the US. We had a meal in a restaurant which is on the top floor of one of the main buildings on the Zocalo, which gave us a nice view of everything. At a price!