John, a family friend who writes a blog about his travels around Europe, has just challenged me (amongst others) to come up with four photos that represent the ancient elements of earth, air, fire and water. As is usual with such things, I am supposed to nominate five other people to continue the challenge but I won’t be doing that as I appreciate the power of geometric progressions (it takes surprisingly few iterations before the entire population of the earth has been included). I have however, come up with some images and as a nod to the theme of John’s blog (http://continentalbreakfasttravel.com/), they are all photos I took traveling around Europe. So here we go …
Travelling to Holland on the overnight ferry from Hull to Rotterdam, I went up on deck at daybreak to watch as we passed into the mouth of the Rhine. It was a very still morning and air pollution over the city beyond made for a spectacular sunrise. Air pollution and a becalmed wind farm; it seemed ironic to me.
I noticed this man walking slowly along the rows of gravestones in a small war cemetery in Ypres and wondered whether he was looking for the name of a relative. We visited several military cemeteries on that trip and I found the experience very moving.
We spent a delightful couple of days in Bruges one winter. I know that many people think of the place as false as there are so many buildings where the medieval facade only has been preserved with the remainder being modern, but I loved the place. I struggled however, to take a photo that encapsulated the place for me. Then I saw Julie waiting patiently on a bridge over a canal and took this shot which is the image that I always think of when Bruges crops up in conversation.
I struggled with this element I’m happy to admit. I know that the aurora is not fire of course and I also know that for many Brits the term “Europe” in this context is usually taken to mean “mainland Europe” but regardless, this is the image that I’ve chosen. I had been house-sitting in Shetland for several weeks and my friends had returned so I was soon to leave for my journey back down south. The weather was overcast as we sat down to dinner when I said “ all I need now is for the clouds to clear and an aurora to show”. An hour later I was outside watching this amazing display of what Shetlanders call the merry dancers. It may be taking place high in the upper atmosphere and it may have nothing to do with fire but it certainly warmed my heart.