Attualità (Venezia 316)

I’ve joked about the easy life that the motoscafi drivers have, based purely on the number of times I found them relaxing on and around their vessels, but in fairness they don’t have a monopoly.

I caught this guy early one morning near the market,  perhaps taking advantage of a moment or two to catch up on Serie A  while a porter was shifting goods from his barge.  Does that count as multi-tasking?

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The Little Runabout (Venezia 134)

A good number of postcards for sale in areas of high tourist traffic will show a narrow stretch of canal (or more likely rio) running behind old gothic properties and made interesting by a row of highly polished black gondole and their matching blue tarpaulins.  As a reminder of the city it’s a misleading image as most visitors will never see this, for during daylight hours the gondola will be earning its owners keep.  If you want the shot, then you have to rise early before the vessels and their owners get to work.

Which is not to say that you don’t see narrow rii with rows of small boats threaded along them like charms on a bracelet.  Just don’t expect the boats moored behind houses to be quite so romantic.  These are the equivalents of the family car.

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Erosion & Corrosion (Venezia 118)

About 18 months ago the city authorities imposed Venice’s first ban on motorboats.  It was only for a few hours, but during that time only electric, hybrid, or human-powered vessels were permitted; most of the 7000 or so registered craft were not.

Why the ban?  To highlight the effect of exhaust fumes in damaging the fabric of the city’s architectural riches.   Venice has to contend with so many threats; the slow sinking into the marshes, the flooding of Acqua Altathe acid effects of air pollution, and of course the water erosion caused by the wake of the higher powered vessels.

Of course, with so many residents owning a small boat to get about in, any curb is bound to be controversial, but we car drivers are gradually adapting our vehicles so perhaps there’s hope yet.

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Return of the Obvious (Venezia 116)

We were overdue another one of these weren’t we?

Like the angles here between tilt of gondola, vertical of rower, diagonal of oar, slope of bridge and “v” of collar.

So much going on and the passengers are oblivious.

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And did those feet…

I read with interest this week that Wales lags only slightly behind the USA in terms of the levels of obesity in the population, and at first assumed that the rest of the UK must therefore be in a similar predicament, but discovered that in England at least the NHS is prepared to intervene sooner when someone’s health is at risk.

Nevertheless those of us in the West grow ever fatter, despite fears that the growing world population may soon be unable to feed itself.  It will be interesting to see what happens as the trend for those in Chinese and India, with the economic whip hand, to eat more of a western diet.  As demand grows and prices increase we may be unable to afford to eat as we do now.

Perhaps that won’t be such a bad thing, given the growing levels of heart disease and diabetes.  In The Time Machine, H.G. Wells predicted a future were mankind developed into two populations, the slender and beautiful Eloi and the brutal subterranean Morlocks, who preyed on the Eloi for food.  I don’t think he got it quite right.

When I first arrived on the beach this morning there were few people at the north end of the bay, so I contented myself with the seascape to begin with, though the further south I walked the more people I encountered.  All were exercising in some way.

Out to sea a lone canoeist paddled rhythmically through the twinkling waters, whilst on land there were lots of walkers, runners and cross-trainers.  Our population seems to be diversifying into the fat and the fit, and that being the case, I don’t see the latter falling prey to the former.  They’ll struggle to catch them!

Among the dog walkers was Neil, who was out with his large boxer.  Neil was lean and wiry, but his dog seemed glad of the rest as we took Neil’s photograph.  Only the promise of an ice cream at the end of the walk got him moving again.  The dichotomy encapsulated!

Both sides now

The mouth of the River Wear is a place of contrasts.  On the south bank; the docks and quays of the Port of Sunderland, a commercial port providing berthing, loading and repair services for a variety of vessels like this Japanese multi-purpose heavy-load transport ship Kurobe.

The north bank is a more relaxed place, home to a campus of the University, an Anglo-Saxon church, the National Glass Centre and the marina with its Marine Activities Centre.I love to stroll around here and enjoy the sights and sounds, though I am puzzled as to who owns the dozens of boats; trawlers, inflatables, yachts, canoes etc., that are moored here, because I only seem to ever see a very small number of them in use, by which I mean actually leaving the marina.  I’m sure some  are like floating garden sheds, a male drinking refuge, rather than actively functioning vessels.

Here there are always possibilities; abstract patterns of light and water waiting to be photographed.

Here art imitates life imitates art.

And alongside the boats?  (Apart from an anamorphically projected door carved out of a wall of rock)

Well what else would you expect to find here but a hairdresser and an aromatherapy studio – just what every seafarer needs!  The coffee shop does well too, especially on such a fine August morning.  I wonder if Fiona was headed there after walking her dog?

Joni Mitchell – Both Sides Now