Wednesday, August 30, 2006


It's all action in Lille at the moment. This weekend is the nationally famous 'braderie de Lille' (the city basically transforms itself into a giant open air flea market and and about 2 million people show up and expect to be fed)
Its origins lie in tradition - when servants could, once a year, sell their and their masters unwanted belongings on the streets. Nowadays it's a ramshackle mixture of made in TastelessCrap-land, pure bricabrac (ie treasure hunting) and antique dealers (fleecing punters). 200km of random stands means my sneakers and wallet should both get a workout.
And in October kicks off the anticipated 'Lille 3000' festival. A new biannual cultural festival starting this year, sort of like Adelaide Fringe festival, but with a theme - if I'm interpreting things correctly. This years theme is Bollywood and soon, very soon, there will be 12 of these 8 m high elephants to greet me every morning on my way to work.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Lille 3000

In 2006, the city of Lille inaugurated a new biannual cultural festival called Lille 3000. The theme of the first year was India, and the city centre was transformed with giant elephant statues, bollywood facades and hindu gods.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Friday, August 25, 2006

S'il pleut la Sainte Madeleine

Il pleut durant 6 semaines
According to my Almanac, the saying goes, If it rains on Sainte Madeleine (22 July - and it did), it will continue to rain for 6 weeks. Not so catchy in english, but 6 weeks of rain when you were just getting into the summer sales is never a catchy topic. Most people are resigning themselves to the fact that the 3 weeks of heatwave summer we had back in July is the sum total of whatever summer had to offer.
No great changes in the daily routine, I take my blue regional train out to work every morning, passing by the numerous little garden allotments, watching the months crops change - pumpkins are starting to make an appearance, tomatoes are still ripening despite the lack of summer warmth, the markets are full of the small producer stalls and I've been enjoying new potatoes, freshly picked green beans - so fresh that they squeak a little in your mouth when you eat them, I haven't eaten beans that fresh since I was a kid and my grandad would give us his surplus. He always had surplus. I decided to expand my mushroom repertoire last week and bought a healthy handful of girolles, because I thought the price per 100g was the price per kilo. Those mushrooms better add a couple of years onto my life at that kind of price. It's been a busy month, and I haven't had time for blogging or even much photography (bought a new camera and subsequently went into an inspiration slump), my mother visited the north for the first time in mid August, and it rained solidly. We luckily escaped the rain when we visited the very medieval city of Gent in Northern Belgium. Castles, pure Flemish architecture and omnipresent trams, it felt we were further away from France than the short 70km trip it actually is from Lille. We also finally made the effort to visit the museum of art and industry in the nearby suburb of Roubaix. Formerly a municipal pool done in pure art deco decadent style, it has since been transformed into a museum that showcases work from the general period (1920s to 1940s) as well as textiles. Most of the original structure has been left intact, including the old shower cubicles and changing rooms. And the former swimming pool is now dominated by a long shallow basin which shows off the stunning relection of the dual stained glass semicircual windows at each end to great effect.
Otherwise, time is tripping along at an alarming rate. This public servants exam I'd decided to try out back in June is zooming up at speed and I have not even vaguely begun to prepare myself, not even to the extent of figuring out what there even is to be preparing.
In other events, I temporarily inherited a cat. But the part that made it temporary was of my own choosing and I've been battling an awful lot of guilt since making that choice last night. I had offered to take the animal from a friends apartment block as it had been abandoned during the holiday period and essentially left to starve to death. I had it with me about 4 days in total but it was showing a fair amount of aggressiveness and I was having a pronouced allergic reaction to it. So I called the SPCA to come and collect it. And I've felt awful ever since. I can't even remember the last time I've felt so guilty about something. So I've been mentally beating myself up over that one a lot over the last 24 hours. And probably will for some days to come. To try and alleviate my guilt, I sent off an application form to join the Nord Nature group (local ecological group dealing with habitat, flora and fauna issues relevant to the North). Atonement through a chequebook. It's very Catholic of me.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Fairground ducks

Lille, France

Macro peacock feathers

A slightly different view of a peacock.

White duck in a green pond

Taken at the local zoo in Lille, France

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The museum of art and industry - Roubaix, France.

Once a municipal pool done in extravagant art-deco style, the 'piscine de Roubaix' has since been transformed into a museum although has kept many of the interior features of its former self.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

A vulture's stare

A vulture surveys the world around him from atop a turret on Gravensteen castle, Ghent - Belgium.

Dancing on rooftops

Detail on a building in the Belgian city of Ghent

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Close up of the belfry in the Northern French town of Armentieres

Monday, August 07, 2006

fishing cats

fishing cats
Originally uploaded by Nyx.
Todays moment of zen brought to you by my new Nikon (oh I am so showing off, but I just love this one, love it, love it love it)
Yeah, I'm kind of ripping off Jon Stewart too - he seems like the sort of guy who wouldn't mind though.

If it were any funnier, I'd be

tweaking the Turkish bunny.

The Euphemism Generator

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Turtle row

It makes for a great cliché nature shot, but these Florida turtles - generally kept as pets - are a nuisance species that have been introduced into the ponds and waterways around the Lille zoo, France

Snowy owl

I'd love to see some owls out in the wild one day.
Lille zoo, France

Red Panda

Lille zoo, France


Lille zoo, France


Lille zoo, France

Fishing cats

At the local zoo, Lille - France

Baby gibbon

Looks like he's laughing. Lille Zoo, France

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Originally uploaded by Nyx.
For anyone who isn't already in the know, I turned another year older over the weekend. For anyone who should be in the know and is staring wide eyed at the screen thinking 'oh shit, I forgot Nats birthday, again' (I threw the 'again' in for good measure, you slackers), then get those little digits moving and start writing grovelling apologetic emails. Now. Though you can finish reading this first if you like. I probably have something terribly important to say.
So, I asked the bf where madame was to be taken to drown her, celebrate the auspicious occasion
'A restaurant - On de game'
'On the Game? What kind of place is that? A sports restaurant?You're taking me to a sports restaurant?' (insert suspicious ready to be pissed off tone here)
'No, not "on the game", on-de-gem' (insert 'what are you, a moron?' look here)
Fast forward to a point in time when I can interrogate someone capable of deciphering this babble into a Flemish village called 'Hondeghem"
Oooh, riiiight...
Just wait until the day he tries to phoenetically translate 'we're going to Coober Pedy'
beur = north african
p.d = fag)

Well, because I got a digital reflex many monthly payment scheme installed to celebrate, nothing short of world war 3 is going to rate a mention. Sucked into the 'Nikon?Canon? Canon?Nikon?' quandry for the past few weeks (just tell me which one's better you bastards!) , I finally settled on a Canon. Until I changed my mind at the last minute and got a Nikon. While waiting the for the unaccountable inordinately long time it takes to get served in this country when there's actually no-one else but you waiting, I encountered another poor lost soul almost on the verge of mental collapse just waiting for someone to definitively tell him which one to buy. He latched onto my 'Well, I was GOING to get the Canon but....' comment like a prophecy from the Oracle. And was no doubt terribly pleased to hear me quote parrot like what he's been reading on countless online reviews for months now. Strangers asking me for advice. I must look grown up.

3 chats

Chocolate shop in Lille, France

Le chat bleu

The first photo I took on the day I got my new digital reflex - a Nikon D50.
Le chat bleu is a very yummy gourmet chocoate shop in Lille, France

Eternal sunshine

Building detail in the Grande Place, Lille - France