A Tale of Two Cities 2

Apropos rejuvenating old pictures and Dickens, I couldn’t resist looking at his protagonist cities in my files. Other than being able to post some of these cityscapes for this weeks Travel Challenge, I’ve no ulterior motive in choosing monotone for one and colour for the other – it’s entirely coincidental that my old London slides were badly degraded while a couple of slides and old prints from Paris are full of light – truly.

L'Isle St Louis

Long before the locks …

Long before the locks …

Sure, I do have to admit that my year in London doesn’t stand out among my most treasured memories, but it’s an unequal world when the experiences of everyday life are asked to live up to the euphoria of travel, and holiday times, and adventure. I arrived in the drab of Autumn, broke, cold and alone, needing a job and work-appropriate clothing urgently. Austria’s flaming Autumn and glistening snow was no preparation for an English winter in the city – I thought I’d wither from the lack of colour, and oxygen – how would we breath with no trees or grass!  I’m sure it wasn’t the coldest of winters, though it seemed inordinately wet, perhaps because economic circumstances were forcing me, like many others, out onto the pavements, getting to and from work by shanks pony. This was the time of the so-called Miners Strikes, of the Oil Crisis, and the Three Day Week – and of a persistently deflated Pound, which made saving for my escape that much more difficult!

But as with most things, deprivation brought its own excitement, and indelible memories that furnish my recollection of a special time of my life.  How I wish, though, that I had had a camera when Spring arrived. For forty years I’ve consciously tried to keep intact memories of those first crocus, pushing up through the grass in Kensington Gardens – for all the world as though they’d been processed with selective colour filters;  that faint limey wash that the hand of warmer nights threw across every branch and twig, transforming grey, brown, drab into a world of light and optimism;  of bluebell dells where the flower heads were so thickly congregated it was impossible to see the ground beneath (or where I had gathered them, by the armful!);  the delight I experienced, watching the branch of pussy willow I had on my shelf, as each day it manifest its macro of the city’s metamorphosis.

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15 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Cities 2

  1. Where I live, we don’t have four seasons, so spring, fall and winter (because we do have summer, too much of it sometimes) always hold a certain fascination for me. I love the way you described spring — the transformation jumps out from your words. 🙂 Best of luck to you and happy travels!

  2. How perfect to illustrate your bleaker recollections with the starkness of black and white and your happier times with color.
    As always, the descriptions were as wonderful as the photos!

  3. Mais tu doi te rappeler que Paris est la ville de la lumière. Alors … ! [grin]
    Terrific writing and wonderful photos: you can post forever about anywhere in France and you’ve got me …

  4. the crocus pictures in you memories jumped out of this post, Meredith. Poignantly described. No hard copy necessary. Love the old black and white. The real thing. 🙂

  5. I love those black and White pics….May be in color they would be not so intense!!!
    Hey!!! You should write more about your life!!! I have got the feeling “Fénix” should be your nickname!!! 🙂 🙂

  6. The pictures are moody, reflecting your thoughts. Your words brought the awakening of London to the warmth of spring alive for us.

  7. This is a wonderful series. The black and whites of your London photos definitely seem to portray your frame of mind. I’m glad in the end you were able to find some beauty in London even if you couldn’t photograph it.

  8. Poor drab old London does badly here, Meredith. I love the ‘before the locks’ shot, incidentally. Quite excited with the thought of Giverny and Versailles in August but I haven’t worked out the details yet. I’m glad that you have your colourful memories. I was about to leap to the defence of London’s many parks and green spaces. I wandered them with just about enough change in my pocket for a Wimpy, back in those days. 🙂

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