Given that there’s only one month the Fins can properly call ‘summer’, it might be a bit of a stretch to call Suomenlinna, a former military bastion just off the coast of Helsinki, a little holiday paradise. Yet there was still plenty to see when I visited there in April earlier this year, though it was clear that its inhabitants, museums and shops were awaiting the warmer weather and the influx of tourists which then still seemed a long way off.
While on holiday in Yorkshire last month, my friends and I decided to go up to Newcastle for the day. I didn’t know much about the city, except that it was at the heart of the industrial revolution in Britain and that it’s where Dire Straits singer Mark Knopfler is from. In fact, while making my way to Yorkshire from Wales – where I started out, visiting friends – I found myself on a whistle-stop tour through the north of England, passing through Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds before ending up in York. My impression of these cities was all too brief: driving through Birmingham, which was heavily bombed during the war, left me with the impression of a hodgepodge of soot-stained red brick buildings with garish postwar structures planted here and there. Newcastle, however, surprised me: I had expected more of the same. But the moment we passed that magnificent sculpture on the motorway, the Angel of the North, which personifies better than anything the north’s industrial charm, and drove into the city with a view of Newcastle’s seven bridges curving over the river Tyne, I knew we were in for something different.
I took these photos on the last day I spent in Cardiff, after my internship in Swansea had come to an end. I really enjoyed experimenting with light, shadows and contrast while photographing the stunning architecture from the Victorian period–the time when Cardiff was at its most prosperous.
A few weeks ago my brother and I took a trip to Rotterdam. I’d never been in the city proper before, only to concert venues on the fringes, and I was surprised at how modernist and industrial it is. To get the Netherlands to surrender, the Germans bombed Rotterdam on May 14 1940, threatening to do the same to other cities, like Utrecht. Rotterdam used to resemble Amsterdam in its architecture, but is now full of interesting postwar and more recent buildings. For architecture and culture, Rotterdam is hard to beat.
In addition to being a very picturesque seaside town, Penarth, just south from Cardiff, is one of the best places in Wales to find fossils. They wash up by the bucket load! Just a few years back, the first dinosaur ever to have been found on Welsh soil, was found near here, a 200 million-year old Jurassic carnivore named Dracoraptor hanigani.
Last week I spent a beautiful weekend in the seaside town of Aberystwyth, on the west coast of Wales. I took the train up to Cartmarthen and there transferred to a bus, which took in a beautiful part of the coastline on its way to Aberystwyth. I had been told that it’s probably the most “Welsh” town there is. It reminded me of Brighton, mostly because of the sunny weather and the candy-coloured houses, but yes, it was undeniably Welsh: the red Welsh dragon was ubiquitous. I even saw somebody wearing suspenders with the Welsh flag on them!as it’s closer to the north than Swansea, there is a higher number of people who speak Welsh. Signs and menus were nearly all bilingual.
Last week’s visit to the Plantin-Moretus museum in Antwerp was the grand finale to this year’s pilgrimage of the history of the book. In the British Museum I saw two of the earliest known forms of writing: hieroglyphics, on the Rosetta Stone, and the cuneiform script, used to write the Gilgamesh epic on a clay cylinder. In the Pergamon Museum in Berlin I saw a magnificent collection of papyrus fragments, and now, in Antwerp, I saw a magnificent collection of printed books and manuscripts. The museum stands as the last remnant of the vibrant book printing trade in western Europe.