In 2017 I went to ten different countries, and was rarely in one place for longer than a week between January and September, which is both exciting and unsettling. Here’s where I went and what I did, using my Instagram photos (because I don’t have camera photos of everything, and even when I do, I haven’t edited all of them). Obviously loads and loads of images under the cut. If you’re wondering how I went to so many countries, I work for an agency that sends me to teach school workshops abroad, my mum lives in France, and I won the plane tickets to Japan.
I’ve got three new zines out . Each one is £2 (roughly 2.50 in USD or Euro) and available here.
Fanzine Ynfytyn 21
30 page 1/4 sized perzine on green paper
Going to Paris when you are broke, and managing to do it while the Charlie Hebdo shootings are going on.
- Free Eurostar tickets
- Walking miles and miles
- French music magazines
- €30 a night central Paris hotels, whose colour scheme can only be described as “depressed Willy Wonka”
- Père Lachaise, Montmartre, Canal St Martin, St-Germain, Quartier Latin, Île St Louis, Jardin Luxembourg and a convenient view of the Eiffel Tower
- Accidentally getting caught in a march of 1 million people
- Zazie dans le Métro and other French film recommendations
Fanzine Ynfytyn 29
24 page 1/4 sized perzine on yellow paper
About Northern Italy. Travelling for work, and a last-minute trip to Lake Garda. You can see my photos of Lake Garda here.
- Italy in the 90s
- Getting sent to the wrong side of Italy by my job
- Legnago, the most boring place in Italy
- The joys of Italian electrics
- Lake Garda then and now
- The Name of the Rose
- Catullus and an impromptu Latin lesson
- Shadows of Fascism on Lake Garda
- Invisible Cities
Film Photography 101
24 page 1/4 sized zine on green paper teaching you all the basics of film photography in a friendly jargon-free way.
- Vintage camera types
- How to fix common issues with second-hand cameras
- How to clean vintage cameras
- Lenses explained
- Film types and sizes
- Uses of filters
- Aperture explained
- Shutter speed explained
- The Sunny 16 rule
- Exposure and EV rating
- Tips for portraits
- Tips for landscapes
- The Rule of Thirds
My mother lives in a small town in Northern France called Lassay-les-Châteaux. For a few years she’s had a holiday caravan in a park nearby, and at Christmas she bought a house in the town. The English version of wikipedia has practically nothing to say about Lassay-les-Châteaux other than showing photos of two of the three local castles- one in the town centre, the other two just outside. (The town’s name also sounds like it means “leave the castles” in French). The French entry doesn’t tell you much more, except that a lot of people were guillotined there in the Revolution, the local mayor doesn’t belong to a political party (after a long line of right-wingers), and that Victor Hugo visited once. It’s just not a place where things happen. If you want the quiet life, you can find it in Lassay.
There’s a small town square with a pharmacy, bakers, convenience store, two bars, café, florists, hairdresser and an antique shop that’s rarely open, and a post office a short walk away. There’s a small supermarket and a vets just outside town, but for anything else you need to drive to the next towns, which are just over the border in Normandy.
The picture above is my mum’s street, just off the main square- Rue du Champ de Foire- Fairground Street (the green where they used to have the fairs is a short walk away). Her house is on the left. An old man lived there before, so builders are currently updating it, so no interior pictures yet. There’s steep wooden stairs up to the attic, and a nice walled garden with apple trees in.
I went to Mont St Michel last week for the first time in years. It’s a medieval abbey on an island on the border between Normandy and Brittany, about an hour’s drive from my mum’s house in France. We went there a few times when I was a kid, and the last time I was there was in the late 90s on a school trip. It has dramatically changed since then.
There was something a bit seedy and cynical about the place in the 90s despite the spectacular town itself. Buses and cars drove over the causeway to the island, and parked in a decrepit carpark on the shore, which had a tendency to flood. As you made your way up through the snaking medieval street to the abbey at the top of the peak, there were endless shops selling cheap replica hunting knives, saucy postcards and boxes of firecrackers. It must have been a nightmare for teachers supervising school groups.
(Google translate thinks my title means “Loitering . No routine.”. Ah, machine translation, you still have a way to go with idioms. It’s more like “Wandering around. Nothing humdrum.” with the inclusion of a bad French pun. Call me up if you ever want any Carambar-level French jokes)
Poor imprisoned plants.
Here’s some more photos from Paris (again taken with a Pentax ME super and expired Poundland film with a strange red cast), from my general wandering around. Wandering is one of my favourite things to do. In French it’s flâner, and someone who wanders around a city, observing things and casually exploring is a flâneur or a flâneuse, much celebrated in literature. I did a lot of that on my recent trip, both because I was on such a tight budget, and also because I was on my own, so I was free to spend my time as I liked. I’m in the middle of writing a new zine about the trip. Hopefully I’ll have it finished by the Sheffield Zine Fest next weekend.
Almost every other country in Europe seems to use yellow postboxes. I don’t know why we ended up with red. I looked it up, and found this pleasing map of postbox colours round the world.
Here’s some more film photos from the Jardin de Luxembourg in Paris. (Luxembourg is one of those words I always have to look up the spelling of, otherwise I’m tempted to insert all kinds of extra vowels).
Here’s some more pictures of Paris, this time of the Canal Sainte-Martin, once again taken with an old Pentax ME Super from the 70s. The film was expired and from Poundland, and went through the x-ray machine at the airport, which resulted in it having a red cast. I colour corrected it out where I could, but the pictures don’t quite reflect the aqua green water as I saw it. I also took some b&w pictures of the same area, which I’ve developed but not yet scanned. Read more
While I was in Paris I visited the famous Père Lachaise cemetery, and took a lot of photos both monochrome and colour, which I will post later. One roll, however, turned out to be half-used already and I ended up with double exposures. It turned out I’d already taken photos of a place called Domfront in Normandy with it. Domfront is a bit of a ghost town, which made me laugh to get double exposures of a literal graveyard over a figurative one.
When I was in Paris last month I took a lot of film photos with my trusty old Pentax ME Super. As well as some reliable rolls of HP5, I had a load of colour negative film I got at Poundland a while back. I think it was expired, and the photos had a bit of a red/magenta tinge and were quite grainy despite being 200 asa film. They were mostly usable though after some colour correction, although you can see why people use slide film for landscape photography. I’ve been scanning the photos, and will post them in small batches every now and then, so there isn’t a huge block of just photos of Paris.
These are some photos of Montmartre. The last time I was there was on a summer’s evening in 2005. Early in the morning in January was quite a different experience!
I wandered up from near the Opera (where the hotel was) through back streets up to the top of the hill, where the church is. I think it’s a much better route. You see lots of interesting tucked-away things, and avoid crowds and having to climb lots of steps.
My university library had a massive stack of printing industry annuals from the 1890s through to the 20s. I always enjoyed looking through them because the illustrations and articles they chose to showcase new printing technologies were often really odd, and were good to photocopy for collages and zines. Next to them on the shelf was a strange little book called Professor Knatschke. It’s a comedy book written and illustrated in 1912 by Alsatian satirist Jean-Jacques Waltz, aka Hansi, about a clueless German professor and his daughter’s trip to Paris, mocking both the French and the Germans (but mostly the Germans) in a more innocent pre-WW1 pre-Nazi era. I always really liked the illustrations (and Elsa K’s obsession with making gifts embroidered with “inspiring” mottoes) , and now it’s available free online as a copyright-free ebook.