So you want a door?
What do you mean it needed to be at ground level… No problem, just use a ladder…
Seen at Mont St Michel in Normandy in France.
I’ve already published some blog posts about a trip I took to Normandy in the 1990s. In the first I talked about Honfleur and the second was on Caen. Here are the remaining pictures. Back then of course I was using film in my 35mm SLR, which I was quite conservative about the number of photographs I would take and in some cases there would also be prints with the little stickers that the developers would place on those underexposed, blurred images that I would occasionally take.
There was something quite special (as well as quite annoying) in taking photographs with film and then once you had handed it into Boots (or similar place) and then a few days later, collected your prints in the wallet, leafing through them as you walked through the town to see how they turned out. We seemed to have less coffee shops back then too, otherwise I am sure I would have sat down in one of those, ordered a coffee and looked over the photographs. These images, looking at the “box” they came in, were sent off for developing and the postman would have delivered them to the house. In today’s digital world, I now take substantially more images (as I did on a recent visit to London) and there is more instant gratification, as you see them on the small screen on the back of the camera (or phone); or as you load them onto the computer or laptop.
The first stop of the trip was arriving into Ouistreham, it serves as the port of the city of Caen. We had undertaken an overnight trip to France and this was the early morning arival at the port.
As well as serving large ferries, many sailboats also are moored in Ouistreham, used for cruising up and down the Normandy coast.
Of course with no GPS, I have no idea where the following images were taken. I remember stopping at a cafe for coffee and a croissant for breakfast. Knowing the journey we took from Ouistreham to Honfleur, before driving back to Caen, I would guess this was Cabourg, but could be Houlgate, or somewhere different. I did take a quick look at Google Maps and Streetview, but to be honest there was so much to look through I didn’t think it was worth the effort.
I do think that this final shot is Honfleur, but I could be wrong…
Looking back over these old photographs, makes me realise how much I enjoyed visiting Normandy back then, so I think I might start planning a return visit soon.
In the late 1990s I made a weekend trip to Normandy, and we stayed in Caen having first visited Honfleur. On this trip I had taken my relatively new at the time, 35mm SLR and took some photographs.
All down the Normandy coast are marinas full of boats, this appears to be very much part of the culture of the place, but also they welcome hordes of visiting sailing boats from the south of England, as well as Spanish, Belgian and Dutch seafarers.
One of my overwhelming memories of that trip was a visit to the local market in Cane and the smell of tomatoes. You could smell them from some distance away from the stall.
Even today I have never found an English market come close to those that I found in Normandy on that trip. Certaiinly the Italian markets I visited at the same kind of time were similar, full of fresh produce.
There were things there that you would never find in the British markets (or supermarkets) at the time, but things have changed.
I wonder if these markets still exist?
I remember at the time noticing this jeep like car, only later did I know it was a Citroën Méhari.
The Citroën Méhari is a light utility car and off-roader produced by the French automaker Citroën, a variant of the Citroën 2CV. nearly 150,000 Méharis were built between the car’s French launch in May 1968 and 1988 when production stopped. This means that this car was at least ten years old, but may have been even older. In case you didn’t know a méhari is a type of fast-running dromedary camel, which can be used for racing or transport.
Back in the 1970s and 1980s we would go on family holidays to Normandy and Honfleur was one of those places that stuck in my young memory. It was so very different to the English towns I had experienced, with it’s tall buildings, narrow streets and strange shops. Back then I didn’t have a camera at first and when I eventually did get one it was a 110 film instamatic style camera. This was a terrible camera (from Boots I think it was) and the quality of the prints were awful, covered in all those stickers and usually blurred. Well you could blame the photographer.
In the late 1990s I made a weekend trip to Normandy, and I did want to visit Honfleur again. This time I took my 35mm SLR and took some photographs.
It was very much as I remembered from my childhood visits, not much had changed.
The harbour was still the centrepiece of the town and had a range of boats moored within it.
The streets were still narrow and crowded with cars, trucks and people.
Off to the sides were narrow streets and alleys.
This building sticks in my memory, it always looked as though it was thrown together over time.
Would I like to go again, yes I would. One day…
The first twenty minutes or so of Saving Private Ryan
is a raw horrific introduction what “modern” warfare is all about. This is no glorified Hollywood war film, this is what, according to many veterans, war is really like.
That opening sequence was brutal and extremely shocking. it is shocking as the violence is sudden, brutal and non-discriminating. You get to see not just the immediate impact of war, but also the brutal impact it has on individuals.
It has to be said that though the rest of the film is not as powerful, not that, that is a bad thing, two hours of intense warfare would not make a good film. As a result there was a fair bit of criticism of the pace of the rest of the film. I actually think that the change in pace adds to the story.
I was very impressed with the way in which Spielberg shot and processed the film, very evocative of the colour films of the era of the movie. The beach sequence is very powerful, but I also think that the final scenes in the French village are also well done. The ruined buildings, which were all purpose built for the film and then “destroyed” to represent bombing and artillery really do look the part. If you look at photographs of the Normandy campaign you will see buildings in a similar destroyed state.
I remember first seeing Tom Hanks in Big and, apart from his more recent stuff have enjoyed his films. He certainly has played a diverse range of characters, think of Hanks, and you can think of Sleepless in Seattle, Toy Story, Apollo 13. I think he does a great job in Saving Private Ryan. He is well supported by an excellent cast.
As might be expected from a film that won five academy awards, what followed were many films in a similar vein, I did think that Clint Eastwood’s Flags of our Fathers & Letters from Iwo Jima were good films, not quite as good as Saving Private Ryan, but certainly well worth watching. Spielberg and Hanks of course went to TV with Band of Brothers (and more recently The Pacific). I didn’t get very far when I originally watched Band of Brothers on the TV, I think I saw two episodes. More recently I borrowed the DVD boxed set from a friend and watched the whole series. I did enjoy that though it was very similar in style to Ryan.
Many years ago I was tasked with testing some projectors for work, so I connected it to a VCR and played Saving Private Ryan against a blank wall. I was very impressed watching that opening sequence on my own big screen!
Download Saving Private Ryan from iTunes.