Friday, 29 October 2010

Cortona above the clouds - Tuscany

Last November, we ambled out of Cortona's maze of ancient narrow streets heading back to the car and completely unaware that the cloud base had appeared to present a stunning vista such as this . Five minutes later and it was pretty much dark. As I took this pic I remember saying out loud "Please dont let me screw this one up".

What you can't see is my not so happy wife dangling and swaying off the branch, eight feet up in the air right behind me, to help bring the greenery down into play at the top of this image. Between her upstretched arms, her eyes conveyed to me an ominous stare of increasing alarm. A moment later and the branches suddenly disappeared with a swish as my wife dropped unceremoniously to the ground again. I didn't dare laugh.

As for Cortona, we were very fortunate to find ourselves there at all, as we were on a lightening three day visit of the Uffizi quarter in Florence and a beautiful little hilltop town in Tuscany called ‘San Giovanni d’Asso’, about an hours drive away. A couple we met at our hotel urged us to try and visit Cortona before we leave, and this was just some of the magic we enjoyed.

I was quite over awed by my all too brief experience of Tuscany. The very next day, we headed off to Pisa to catch a plane to Barcelona, where we were booked to stay for the main part of our ten day trip. As we sat quietly in the airport waiting for our departure to Catalonia, I remember shaking my head and saying to my wife “Why on earth are we leaving this beautiful place to fly to a city in Spain?”

That said, we had a wonderful time in Barca’s exciting urban buzz and have since returned many times to soak up the unique vibrance and flavours that make Barcelona so special.

I plan to do a post later concerning some cloak and dagger WW2 tales surrounding the Uffizi district adjacent to the north side of the historic Ponte Vecchio in Florence. One day I will return though, to the 'late spring green' and the haze of those rolling Tuscan hills with a well thumbed copy of H.V.Morton’s 1964:- ‘A Traveller in Italy’, wedged in my day bag.

E non un giorno troppo presto!
The above picture is courtesy of
The Cortona Center of Photography - Workshops.

Depending on which article you read, Cortona sits on its hillside at an altitude of between 1200 and 1900 feet. It has been stated that a chap called Crano - a descendant of Noah himself - came to this hillside around 273 years after the Great Flood and built the town of Cortona, which is officially older than Rome itself. It is also alleged that Noah spent some thirty years here roughly 165 years before Crano arrived. So the question is....In what year (B.C.) did Noah float off again?

More recently though, Cortona was the location for the film 'Under the Tuscan Sun' and is a highly recommended must see destination when travelling through Tuscany and Umbria, preferably well out of season due to the considerable summer crowds. Magnificent.

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Staying in Italy but musically for the moment – and why would you want to leave anyway – take a look at the YouTube music video below…

Peter Gabriel and his band demonstrating why he is still regarded as one of the all time giant performing acts of the ‘live concert gig’. You’re always guaranteed a lot of entertainment ‘buck’ for your online ticket purchase to a Gabriel concert.

One of the original founder members and lead vocalist of the progressive rock group Genesis in 1967, Gabriel’s flamboyant costumes and dynamic lighting sets quickly secured him a devoted global fan base and a singing – song writing career, spanning five decades and a pocket full of Grammy’s.

Both artist and architect of groundbreaking, visually breathtaking, music, light and stunning special effects concerts, who will ever forget his appearance wearing the electric light bulb jacket while performing “Sledgehammer” in 1986. Sensational stuff.

Filmed live for the “Growing Up” music DVD, here he is more recently, performing the track “Digging in the dirt” accompanied by his daughter Melanie Gabriel on vocals – on the spectacular revolving stage of Milan’s Fila Forum in 2003.

If you want to catch up with Peter Gabriel, pay a visit to his website and monthly video blog at:

Kate Bush

The inimitable and hugely talented Kate Bush. Creatively fearless & original. Musing & incisive.  Fiercely private and true to her inner beliefs and maternal values. Inspired & influenced by comedy, the gothic and strange tales of human sexuality.

A diversely gifted singer, songwriter, pianist, guitarist and violinist. Deeply alluring & often quite mesmerising – especially the expressions in her eyes. Making us wait for twelve long years while she so wisely brought up her son in a ‘normal’ environment, was almost too much to bear sometimes, but then she rewarded us all with “Aerial” – one of the most beautiful and crafted collections of music and lyrics ever written.

 And here is the track 'Prologue' from Aerial...

Post Sundown - Lepe

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

"Give me a wave"

All this Catalonian fisherman had was his rod, bait tin, chair, a bottle of water and plenty of hope. All he wanted was a fish or two for supper. I captioned this image “Give me a wave”. It struck me as being a worthy metaphor for the encouragement and well wishes this solitary, hungry guy could probably do with while he sat out here alone at the end of a vast concrete jetty, on a stormy grey old day in Barcelona's Port Olympic district.

I spent a couple of hours out here watching this guy at work while the waves exploded around him, before setting off on a four hundred mile journey to the north coast of Spain. At the time of leaving, he hadn't landed a single fish. I often wonder whether his luck changed that day. I very much hope so.

On the 21st October 2010, this image appeared on the BBC World News website under a photography interpretation theme entitled "Fish".  Here is the link:

Monday, 11 October 2010

"Pleased To Meet You...."

Sometimes - 'Action' really does speak louder than words, blogs and lyrics too, so here you go - feast your eyes and ears on the living legends themselves - the 'Stones' performing live in concert, one of my favourite all time rock tracks...."Sympathy for the Devil",

Still one of the greatest pieces of 'feel good - road music' ever. Wind the windows down, mirror - signal - manoeuvre, and .......... "Have a Great Day"....
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