Modern Murals

robert lenkiewicz barbican mural plymouth 1


I found out that the Americans do this form of public art particularly well during my recent visit. There were so many plain buildings and the associated streets that were bought to life by this most democratic form of art. We are not short on plain buildings here either so lets hope that we will see more of it over here, after all its not a new idea.

Injun Ale

DSCF1103The Golden State held many surprises and inevitably confirmed a good deal of my long held impressions. One of my prejudices about the USA was that the nation does not brew proper beer. By this I mean that I expected my recent visit to be refreshed by the fizzy alcoholic pop  such as Budweiser, Coors etc. To my delight and delectation it seems that America has had a beery revolution a couple of decades ago. Now it is possible to find micro breweries in many towns and cities. They produce all sorts of truly delicious ales for the gourmet and gourmand alike. The  India Pale Ale (IPA) is particularly fine.It is generally on the strong side but almost preternaturally tasty.

At the end of each day at our camp site, after much surf/skate/tourist activity a few IPA’s hit the target with unerring accuracy. I was also welcomed with two bottles of similar ale when I got home, thoughtfully provided by Mrs Bowl Rat.

I am typing this at ‘god knows what’ o’clock suffering from the ravages of jet lag on my apparently still stateside brain. The mere act has though had some effect on me…. I have paused for thought.

Beer is a luxury and a pleasure best experienced on special occasions or at least occasionally. I will start to pay more heed to this truism and reap the benefits.

You heard it first here. Travel refreshes the parts that beer cannot reach… to decimate that well known tagline.



DSCN0427Richelieu is a 17th century new town in the Loire region. It has all the hallmarks of a new town. Typical of the time architectural embellishments to the civic buildings and grander houses cannot hide the complete megalomania so typical of the urban genre. Grid pattern roads, towering institutions, walls with battlements, ruler straight boulevards all crammed with ruthless efficiency into an area much smaller than a large village. The violent energy of the towns architect driven by fear of the black uncompromising madness of the infamous Cardinal.

There is always a group of people that have to pay for such excess. They live in the back streets which still comprise of run down housing. The centuries of oppression ooze onto these streets from darkened rooms and through the rotting window frames and cracked stucco.

This place spoke to me and made me shudder. Much in the way that Cumbernauld , and Sabaudia  did when I chanced on these ‘new’ horrors on other holidays. The heat was oppressive last year when we supped cool drinks at a pavement side cafe after the long journey south.

I’m not sure why I feel compelled to share this but I am disappearing for a period of architectural unappreaciation to California. The architecture and heat may match this French town but I’m absolutely sure the Golden State will compensate in many and varied ways. Lets trust that the staff photographer can capture some of the best moments.

A Good Read

tumblr_m8grhh2OaJ1r0vo2ko1_500I think I have found one. I could n’t resist starting it before my holiday.

Beautiful artwork I cannot recall where I found it. All credit to the talented individual that sprayed this onto a wall.


Screen shot 2013-03-02 at 4.36.55 PMI read in a surf comic a while ago that Mr Lopez (above) ,accompanied by a group of younger pro surfers, went on a boat trip to the Isles of Mentawai. After a four hour session at an off shore reef pass he paddled over to the skiff that was already occupied by some of the younger but less fit luminaries. His slim shoulders tired by the session of multiple tube rides,long paddles and steep drops heaved his light frame over the gunwales and landed him lightly onto both feet. Anyone who has tried to clamber onto any small craft from the water will know what a herculean task this can be when tired. To execute it with grace and style rather than the likely alternative, which is to flop onto the craft like a flapping Halibut, is an act of a supreme athlete. Mr Lopez had already entered his 6 th decade at this time. Snowboarder, dirt biker, yogi and supreme surfer…what’s his secret?

I wish I knew. Jerry has never suffered a continually sore back from one nights camping. He heals quickly and would never be so stupid as to aggravate a gripe by doing some light swimming and cycling before it is healed. He would meditatively dismiss the discomfort and move forward fruitfully by martialling chi from this  unusual (to him) life event. The rest of us (meaning you :Ed) just moan about and suffer from the foibles presented by our gently decaying bodies. I’m off for more back rub.