Monday, July 30, 2012

Beach Huts - Beach Photography and the North Sea

Beach Huts - Beach Houses - North Sea Coast - Photograph by Tim Irving

Beach Huts in Sand Dunes - Beach Houses - North Sea Coast - Photograph by Tim Irving

Beach Huts - Beach Grass - Englsih Coast - Photograph by Tim Irving

Beach Huts - Yellow House - North Sea England - Photograph by Tim Irving
The beach huts above are on the North Sea coast, where I'll be spending some time over the next three weeks as I travel north up the coast. The beach huts look out across the sea towards the Netherlands. The entire coast, from Kent to Scotland has a unique presence, it's wild and it feels very strange. One reason it feels strange is that it used to be land that was swallowed up by the sea, a northern Atlantis called Doggerland, home to tens of thousands of people before it disappeared.

I've also been spending time creating a Facebook page. I've always been sceptical of the usefulness of Facebook (and Twitter). Do people use it to communicate, or as a measure of their own popularity? Anyway, I'd like to use Facebook to engage with people who read this blog and others who share my interests. Please visit my Facebook page by the clicking links and join me.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hunting for Flea Markets and antiques in Spain

Rastro, vintage shopping in Spain - Photograph by Tim Irving
Spanish Rastro or Flea Market
 About five years ago I published (on another blog), a series of photographs of the interior of a Spanish rastro. With the help of a friend in Spain I've up-dated the info for 2012 and added extra photos.

Spain rastro flea market, spanish flea market. Photo by Tim Irving
 Hunting for 'Flea Markets' in Spain

You may not have noticed but guide books and travel blogs about Spain are rather quiet when it comes to buying vintage and second-hand goods. There's a wealth of information about 'flea markets' in other European cities like Paris, London, Berlin and Amsterdam, but apart from a couple of markets in Madrid and Barcelona, information about shopping for antiquities and vintage items in Spain is veryy scarce. 

Shop interior, vintage shopping in Spain - Photograph by Tim Irving
I lived and worked in Spain for eight years. I'm a professional photographer, traveler and a collector. I collect vintage books, magazines and maps, cameras, pocket knives, fishing tackle, musical instruments and fountain pens. I could probably think of a few other things, but this gives you an idea about my shopping preferences.Wandering around thrift stores, car boot sales or flea markets is an essential experience for me, therefore flea and antique markets, and pre-owned goods stores are big pull when choosing a particular city to visit.
Items for sale in a rastro vintage shopping in Spain - Photograph by Tim Irving

Spain spanish flea market vintage shopping. Photo by Tim Irving

Most guide books will point you in the right direction for flea markets, but when visiting Spain the word to remember is Rastro which has several meanings, one of which is flea market. With the exception of "El Rastro" in Madrid, which is a large street market, most rastros in Spain are nothing like flea markets we know, but are in fact small stores run by volunteers with profits donated to charity. They sell anything and everything including clothes, furniture, garden tools and ornaments, paintings, posters, magazines, toys and games, shop and industrial fittings. Nothing is restored but it's usually in good condition, or at least repairable, and everything is uniquely Spanish - with the occasional surprise from Morocco! 
art for sale flea market in Spain - Photograph by Tim Irving

Rastros spring up and start trading in any building that offers shelter and security. You'll find that rastros in old houses tend to specialise in clothes and house items, while rastros in industrial units tend to offer larger items of furniture, old shop fittings and stock, plus bicycles and car parts. 
dress for sale interior of flea market in Spain - Photograph by Tim Irving

What about prices?
You can get a lot for your euros in a rastro. Generally items are priced from a couple of euros, to around fifty euros upwards, for items of furniture. Clothes tend to be priced between five and ten euros, depending on style and quality. Bargaining is normal - but don't be too pushy.
vintage items for sale interior of flea market in Spain - Photograph by Tim Irving

vintage Leonardo di Caprio poster Spain spanish flea market. Photo by Tim Irving

How to find a Rastro?
Every town in Spain has at least one rastro (they are growing in popularity as Spaniards are coming round to the idea of vintage chic) and the larger cities all have several. But they rarely advertise, relying instead in word of mouth. Fortunately, Spanish people are friendly and will go out of their way help, so just make enquiries. Ask in the local town hall, police station, shop or bar and you'll be given directions. Or ask a taxi driver and and let them take you.
painted door and large clock, spanish flea market. Photo by Tim Irving

Brass decorative door knob - Photograph by Tim Irving
A very nice door knob - Tim Irving

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Soho London

Vintage sign - Gents hair dressing, Soho, London. Photograph by Tim Irving
I took this photograph a few weeks ago in Soho, London. Soho is a small area of central London that by day (it changes character at night), has remained true to itself and feels comfortable. What's remarkable about Soho, is that it's in an area with the highest property prices in the world, and yet you can still find a gents hairdresser with a hand painted sign. And what a sign it is! The original hand writing must go back to the 1940's or 50's. Every time the premises have been decorated (rarely by the look of it), the painter has carefully worked their way around the writing. It's beautiful.

Monday, July 23, 2012


mille-feuille and tea photograph by Tim Irving
The sun came out yesterday in southern England and to celebrate its appearance a few of us had cream tea in the garden of a traditional English tea room at Clare in Suffolk. There was a good selection of cakes and scones, but I was seduced by the look of this cake, a strawberry mille-feuille. Unlike its common cousin the custard slice, the mille-feuille has more layers of puff pastry, the translation of mille-feuille is thousand sheets.

This is one of several cakes that are impossible to eat with any dignity. The moment I bite down on the pastry, the cream is squeezed sideways, smearing my face, hands and shirt and giving me the expression of a circus clown. This would be an excellent cake to serve should you ever want to humiliate a someone or to gain a psychological advantage.

You can use a fork to cut it up, but the pastry doesn't break up easily and you end up with an ugly mess. The best  way to enjoy this cake is in the privacy of your own home, wearing your oldest clothes, but if you are eating in a public place at least choose a table with some privacy.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Red For London Bus

Red and Cream bus. Photograph by Tim Irving

Red and Cream Westcliffe  bus. Photograph by Tim Irving

London Transport Red Bus. Photograph by Tim Irving
London Bus passenger instructions. Photograph by Tim Irving

Red London Bus. Photograph by Tim Irving

Red Bus. Photograph by Tim Irving

London Transport Red Bus. Photograph by Tim Irving
Do you know the saying about London buses? You wait for hours without seeing one, then eight turn up at once!

I'm organising my photos of cities into colour themes, it's a big job that could take years, I don't know how many photos I have on file. I'm going to start offering collections by colour in my Etsy shop. I'm wondering if sets of colour themed cards for framing and correspondence would be popular.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I'm reading: The Flaneur by Edmund White

The Flaneur by Edmund White - Photograph by Tim Irving
I've just finished a wonderful Sue Grafton novel, H Is for Homicide. This is my second reading of this mystery novel. First published in 1993, I found it as fresh and funny as when I first read it.

Today I start reading The Flaneur by Edmund White. A Flaneur is someone who strolls without purpose. Edmund White is an American who lived in Paris for sixteen years. This is a book about wandering the avenues and back streets of Paris, unknown to visitors.

Do you read books? I'd be interested to hear what's on your reading list.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What went wrong with socks?

checkerboard socks photograph by Tim Irving
This is such a trivial topic, but I wont let that stop me getting it off my chest. What has gone wrong with socks?

Last year I noticed that several pairs of new socks didn't feel as comfortable as I would have liked. There are a few things that are wrong, there's no stretch, they seem bigger and they fall down. The problems are small but irritating, and uncomfortable for someone like me who walks four or five miles a day. Last year I put the issues down to a bad batch, so I bought three pairs of new socks from Marks and Spencer, an old company who used to have a reputation for good quality socks.

A short  walk in my new Marks and Spencer socks proved disappointing, they felt as uncomfortable as the others, which led me to spend one Saturday morning shopping exclusively for socks, an exercise I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. The several pairs I purchased included the ones above, lambs wool, knitted in England with the toes and heels finished by hand. The sales person described them as "The Rolls Royce of socks". But after walking the dog they also proved disapointing, more a like Morris Minor when I needed a Audi.

One obvious problem with all new socks is the sizing. My size used to be within a range of 7-9 (UK size), but socks are now sized 5-10, which seems awfully wide to me. So after searching for a year, I still haven't found a pair of socks that I'm 100% happy with. I shall continue the search and I'll buy a few pairs in France next month, maybe the French know a thing or two about socks.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Lomography and the London Underground

I spent Wednesday and Thursday last week working in London, although the rain made it difficult to be productive I did get the job done. After work on Wednesday I stayed the night at my brother in law's flat in Kilburn. I slept well but woke up early at 5.30 am on Thursday. My working day wasn't due to start until 10.30, so I had time to kill. I had breakfast, showered and watched the TV but by 6.30 I was getting stir crazy, so I got a train back into central London and looked for photographs.

At 9.30 am I was in Liverpool Street station when I remembered that I'd read that the Lomography Gallery were once again selling 110 film, this is a significant event. The film has been not been available for many years and although I have a dozen cassettes in the freezer, I decided to do the 20 minute journey and head west and buy a roll of film.

Every visit to London is inspirational, whether it's something I see or hear, the place always leaves its mark. So I share with you a short journey from Liverpool Street to Soho.

Monday, July 9, 2012


River Seine and view of Paris from the West Bank - Photograph by Tim Irving
The Seine - A View of Paris from the West Bank
After putting it off for weeks, I finally arranged transport and accommodation for a week in Paris. Booking flights and hotels over the internet makes me anxious, I long for the days of a travel agent. Dates, times, booking numbers, invoice numbers and worst of all, credit card numbers. Anyway it's all done, and I'll be travelling with my assistant at the end of August. The mornings and evenings will be spent taking photographs, the rest of the time sightseeing.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


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