Tag Archives: portraits

York is the centre of the WORLD!

Well, it was once… way back in AD 306. Emperor Constantius, busy subduing those troublesome northern Picts, died whilst based at York. The Roman troops proclaimed his son, Constantine, Emperor of the known world! He may have been born in Nis, Serbia, but he became Emperor in York!

Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus

Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus

Just outside the Minster is a statue of our Yorkshire lad. And quite a statue it is. Captures the imperial confidence, pride and swagger very well.

Clearly he didn't suffer from lack of self-belief...

Clearly he didn’t suffer from lack of self-belief…

Dressed for battle, a warrior, confident of destiny, yes, this boy could swagger alright. Consider what he went on to do: Killed off his rivals in a bloody civil war, forced the Roman Empire to convert fully to Christianity (God appeared to him in a dream before a battle. “In hoc signo vinces” – by this sign you will conquer) so he led his troops into battle with the sign of the cross on their shields. Such self-belief – always easiest for the victor…!

the sword is a cross

the sword is a cross, deliberately…

Vanity! He decided Rome wasn’t good enough and founded a new capital, which of course could only be called…., Constantinople! The statue exudes this arrogant pride. Not just in the imperial look, the aquiline nose, disdainful gaze. Right down to his very fingertips, this man is emperor.

Hubris hands...

Hubris hands…

And is any of this relevant now? Well, yes. This was the man that decided what the whole of the western world should believe – the Nicean Creed, AD 325. He bossed the conclave. Not bad for a Yorkshire lad…

Hands that rule the world.

Hands that rule the world.

Pimm’s and hot Summer Friday afternoons

Some of those huge mega-corporations that everyone loves to criticise are actually quite enlightened. Such is the case with my previous employer where Summer Fridays mean clocking off at 1pm and getting out of the office. Good opportunity for a BBQ and a social with old friends! I, of course, went along with my camera…

Mambers, the hostess

Our BBQ hostess (7)

The Pimm's is going down well...

The Pimm’s is going down well… (1)

as I said, the Pimm's is going down well.

as I said, the Pimm’s is going down well (8)

Portraits are supposed to reveal something of the character of the sitter. I wonder if that is true in this case? I shall give you some clues, see if you can match clue to image.

1. Which image shows the ferocious lawyer who can, and does, terrorise both corporate partners and restaurant waiters with equal over the top attention to detail?

2. Who’s the Mum on maternity leave, who’s job role is to babysit the company bigwigs?

3. Which lady is the frenetic travelling Canadian who needs no sleep, is always up for a party, and cannot put down the crackberry? Apparently once got married by mistake for a week (once it’s out it’s out)!

The contented one

The contented one (2)

4. One of these ladies runs marathons, rows the Thames, and spends most Saturdays dressed as the Chelsea mascot at Stamford Bridge (in a lion’s costume… appropriately named Stamford)

5. Which one is me…?

6.  Given this is a pretty cosmopolitan bunch, one lady here is Hungarian. Another complete multi-tasking workaholic, permanently stuck on conference calls… The crackberry is frying her brain.

put it down!!!

put it down!!! (3)

dudette in glasses

dudette in glasses (4)

'tis the season for shades...

’tis the season for shades… (6)

7. One of these ladies has an Italian aristocratic name, works for a Frenchman, lived above the Jimmy Choo shop in Chicago for several years (but never bought… strange…), and is Brit to the core. Which one?

8. This one was agency, now client. Poacher turned gamekeeper – much more fun bossing the others around for a change!

I'm the easy one to guess...

I’m the easy one to guess…

OK, so I’m not Rankin or Cartier Bresson, and the clues will only means something to the sitters. But who cares? Long live hot Summer Friday afternoons, and ever-full jugs of Pimm’s.  Cheers!

It’s all going on at the village fête…

Come wind, rain, or heatwave sunshine, the English love a good village festival. A chance to get all the local characters together and have a party. Pimms, tea, hotdogs and cake, a pint of the local brew and a bit of fun and competition. Last weekend was Little Hallingbury’s turn, just up the road from us, so we turned up with the whole family.

Where would we be without tea!

Where would we be without tea!

and cake!!!

and cake!!

and a bbq burger!!!!!!

and a bbq burger!!!

Kids know instinctively how to make the most of these fêtes. Immy has this tactic to a tee: tap Dad for a tenner, then tap Mum for the same, and then try your luck with assembled Aunts and Uncles, and then spend spend spend. I swear she come away in profit…

instant art for 2 quid.

instant art for 2 quid.

Where else can you hold a ferret?

Where else can you hold a ferret?

Suddenly it can get serious. Time and effort has gone into the prep, especially in the competition marquee…

Carefully grown, those potatoes...

Carefully grown, those potatoes…

Fruit perfection is paramount

Fruit perfection is paramount

"How did that one win?!"

“How did that one win?!”

The competition winners will get the cups

To the winners the spoils

Of course at the stalls male sporting prowess needs to shine through. Here’s my brother-in-law, Adam, a good golfer, concentrating very hard on hitting a ball into a bucket. And missing. Spot the smirk on his nephew’s face (left hand side, sunglasses). Plus the unknown bystander (right hand side) who’s finding the uncle/nephew competition quite hilarious!

how can it be this hard?

how can it be this hard?

Given his miserable failure with the small ball, Adam has a go at the throwing shy. Here he is, not waiting for the photographer (me…) to get out of the way before pelting the targets with the beanbag. He missed, again:

Oi! Get out of the way!

That black blog isn’t a flag on the building, it’s a beanbag hurtling its way towards me….

This is Brit society at its best. Characters to the fore, both human and animal.

Dogs abound, of course.

Dogs abound, of course.

Mrs P wins a ferret race...

Mrs P wins a ferret race… and quaffs a Pimm’s

And Miss England puts in an appearance, and promptly get snaffled up by clearly the most pro photographer of the day, who just for 5 minutes has forgotten all about his camera…

the old pro

the old pro

Clearly a great day for all. Well done Little Hallingbury!

It’s all Greek to me…

“TOTES-AMAZE-BALLS!” said the young whippersnapper.

Well, that’s one way to describe a cocktail, and once I’d worked out that this was a compliment, I made sure I ordered myself one. After all, when in Rome…

…except this was Greece. Time for a short break, thanks to a wedding on the beach, bit of sun, swim, and touristy mayhem, to lighten an English summer.

The Happy Couple

The Happy Couple

I love a good wedding – everyone is so happy! And smiley! And that was true for this occasion, personified by the most smilingly gorgeous bride I have ever come across (apart from Mrs P, of course). The new Mrs Lock simply beamed. Happiness radiation. Doug (aka Mr Lock) is a lucky man, he will be kept forever warm by her smile.

the happy couple, being happy!

the happy couple, being happy!

Smiling is contagious (as are those cocktails)!

Smiling is contagious (as are those cocktails)!

he'll catch on when he gets older

he’ll catch on when he gets older

girls get it

girls get it

that smile didn't fade one iota the whole day...

that smile didn’t fade one iota the whole day…

But back to the Greek sayings…. Having learnt how to compliment a cocktail by a youngster we needed to introduce some language of our own (to show we weren’t too decrepit to communicate with all the twenty-somethings.) Luckily this is where having teen children, who constantly speak in jargon, is useful. So, navigating around the island in the hire car I was “on it, like a car bonnet”. Diving into the beautiful sea from the side of our boat was as delightful as “jam on toast”. I rest my case, I can talk as much utter nonsense as the rest of them….

Shipwreck beach

Shipwreck beach

The blue caves

The blue caves

lunchtime view

lunchtime view

the young ones

the young ones

Can't resist a boat on a beach...

Can’t resist a boat on a beach…

Mind you, I did have a blond moment. On a small dirt road our progress was halted by a flock of goats. “Look at the cojones on that one!” I exclaimed in shock and awe. To much mirth from the 3 ladies in the back of the car who gleefully pointed out that I was looking at a female goat and had got my anatomy mixed up…. Blond moment number two belonged to another whippersnapper. Surrounded by yet another beautiful olive grove she wondered out loud how it was that the locals extracted the olive oil from the leaves of the trees…

Fancy a game?

Fancy a game?

Our local beach

Our local beach

The best phrase of the weekend also went to one of the ladies. As the hire car struggled to get up the hill, slowing and fading fast, it was apparent that then engine couldn’t cope with the weight… “Think skinny!!!” she shouted, and amazingly, the car perked up and the engine soared. The power of positive thinking – clearly a result of all that smiling… A thought I shall hold onto as we returned from 36 degrees in Zakynthos to 16 degrees in Gatwick… Bring on the summer!

The Wedding Bower

The Wedding Bower – good luck to the Locks!

New York Faces

People pictures. Why do we take them? To capture the moment of course. A 60th of a second pinpoints a memory. Last week I posted images of New York cityscapes. This week NY figures and faces. New memories.

Face of NY

Face of NY

I know they’re just snappy snaps, moments when the family indulges me and my camera, or doesn’t notice that I’m pointing it in their direction, again.

the wannabe actress

the wannabe actress

all round dude

all round dude, who’s stolen my hat, again…

happy grandparents

happy grandparents

for once, I'm in this one - feels strange....!

for once, I’m in this one – feels strange….!

the whole bunch

tourists in NYC

I did try to do some abstracty shots of the real locals – but to do this sort of photography justice takes time and patience, and works better when the rest of the family isn’t groaning in impatience when I pull out the camera…

Bubble man

Bubble man

shopper in the apple store

shoppers in the apple store

New York Face

New York Face

Ne wYork Figures

New York Figures

NY hot lips, I just couldn't resist...

NY hot lips, I just couldn’t resist…

I was here as a kid, 35 years ago with my parents. We did the same things, we climbed the towers to look at the views. Powerful memories that mean much to me. There are some photos, but not many. Film photography didn’t lend itself to the ubiquitous click click of the modern age. In effect there are more memories being created now than ever before. The kids aren’t bothered about these shots now, but maybe they will be in 35 years from now….

What a view!

What a view!

The view again.

Lucky kids, admiring the view

Rockefeller Centre - while they do this, we drink cocktails!

Rockefeller Centre – while they do this, we drink cocktails!

New York babe

New York dudette

So here’s to the modern photographic process and its ability to make memories. On the whole, it’s gotta be a good thing!

New York Mama

New York Mama

If you liked this post, check out: New York, no bruised Apple here… or the other US posts – click on the archive on the right hand side. Enjoy!

Close shave in the Dolomites…

Feb half term is the annual family skiing holiday. A week of fun and adventure. Stories that we will talk about forever.

Sun and snow

Sun and snow

It all started at the airport. You know what SqueezyJet check in is like. Well, our group was 12 in total and the others had already been in line for 45 minutes by the time the Peck foursome turns up. Of course, we go to greet our companions, and somehow manage to jump the whole queue. Much dark muttering amongst the early morning seething mass. How to antagonise the Brits – jump a queue…

The kids are getting good!

The kids are getting good!

Conquer the mountain!

Free the mountain!

Charles and skiing have clicked. One private lesson for a couple of hours and he’s accelerated so fast I can’t keep up with him anymore. He announces “I’m a responsible skier” at lunch, and promptly smacks into his Mum, wiping her out in the afternoon.  Blimey he goes fast – the confidence of youth!

I think he's contemplating the perfect line...

I think he’s contemplating the perfect line…

Charles Tree (1 of 1)

Ah, to be young again…

Charles and fans

Charles and fans

The girls are rocking the ski school. 3 girls, and 3 champions, all winning trophies in their respective classes (phew! what would have happened if 2 won, and 1 didn’t…?)



Looking cool on the slopes

Looking cool on the slopes

Felix is chief mischief maker for the week, principally by refusing to ski. Mind you, he is only 3. His parents keep on dancing.

Felix, almost skiing.

Felix, almost skiing.

Any chance for a boogie

Swinging to the umpah music

A week’s fun in the Dolomites, and then, out of the blue, near disaster. Our transfer bus back to the airport gets hit by an avalanche at the top of the pass. The bus slews round and halts. We’re at the edge of the avalanche. Had we been 50 yards further on …., it doesn’t bear thinking about. We’re stuck until the snow plough can dig us out. We miss the plane. But no matter. We know we’ve been incredibly lucky.

Snow plough digging us out

Snow plough digging us out

Every cloud has a silver lining – in our case we have a day to kill in Venice whilst we wait for the next plane. Nothing like a close shave to make you appreciate the moment! And a family story, to last forever.

Enjoy every day!

Enjoy every day!

Fog, Royal Sandringham and Wet Feet….

I may have mentioned in a previous post that the Peck clan is regularly hauled off to visit places of interest. There is a particular pattern to these events. A chorus of groans from the kids, some muted resignation in the back of the car – always ignored in the front. Arrival at wherever usually marks an upswing in mood. The visit takes place and we generally agree that the place of interest is, in fact, quite interesting. Then home, tea, and the PlayStation can take over again. 

Such it was with our visit to Sandringham, quite the most exquisite Royal house that I’ve been to.

Foggy view across the lake

Foggy view across the lake

We had picked a foggy day for our visit in late October. But it leant a moody quietness to the day, very atmospheric…

Beautiful Sandringham

Beautiful Sandringham

The entrance - never quite sure if this is the 'front' or the 'back'...

The entrance – never quite sure if this is the ‘front’ or the ‘back’…?

Immy takes possession

Immy takes possession

This is of course where the Royals spend Christmas. So they will all be there right now. Wonder if they have turkey or goose?

The inside was Immy’s fascination. As usual she buttonholed the guide: How, she asked, does Queen Alexandra look so young in the photos, when she must be at least 50? Corsets and photographic magic, came the reply. (Goes to show photoshop merely reinvents the tricks of the 1890s!)

View to the Oak

View to the Oak

Formal garden

Formal garden

Teenager being a teenager

Teenager being a teenager

Charles was not interested in photos of old queens…. But the garages were full of posh cars!!!


Quintessential Royal Car

Quintessential Royal Car

Personally, I loved the gardens and the park.

Muted autumn colours

Muted autumn colours


Happy faces!

Happy faces!

To finish, a bracing walk on the coast – work up some appetite!

Caspar David Friedrich would paint this...

Caspar David Friedrich would paint this…

Mmm, this pathetic jump resulted in wet wife's feet and much cursing.

This pathetic jump resulted in wet wife’s feet and much cursing, directed towards me..!

Drier feet and equilibrium returns

Drier feet and equilibrium returns…

A classic Peck clan trip! Well worth dragging the kids along. They can take it out on their own kids in years to come when they do the same to the next generation. And so the wheel will turn….

The clan

The clan

Angels everywhere, literally….

OK, I know this is a bit weird, but I’ve spent the afternoon in a Victorian cemetery. Abney Park in Stoke Newington to be precise. It was a photography course, and I had in mind to make some moody, gothic, black and white pictures. But the light was soft, the colours gently autumnal, so I ditched the B&W, and let the colours shine. It all became rather uplifting…

No straight verticals here.

This is a very Victorian place, and of course the Victorians would definitely have come here to walk about as in a modern day ‘park’. Not a convention we follow today. But not a bad one to do once in a while. Momento mori and all that.

Soft and hard

Leaning on each other for strength

What on earth could be uplifting in such a place you may wonder? Well, the faint memories that linger here are sad, but positive. The greening words on the stones are about love and remembrance, fondness and farewell. And the care that went into the preparation of these stones… Just look at the fonts and the scripts …

We remember you

We love you

Beloved Mary

Never forget you

Joseph, too young


In the middle of the Park is a ruined Church. It has a modern sculpture placed in the middle, a simile for the feelings that inhabit such a place.

And because this is Victoriana, we have angels everywhere. Guardians maybe…? actually no. Bringers of peace and soft love represented by hard stone . How wonderful is that.

Young angel

Soft stone

Ivy necklace

Aha! a classic guardian

The last picture, slightly Hardy-esque. A beautiful name, beautiful weathered stone. Someone has tidied this stone relatively recently, so Angel can be remembered again…

Foodies’ Paradise in Girona, Spain

The whole reason we went to Spain this year is because we watched Masterchef in January, where the finalists had to do a service in El Celler De Can Roca. “Would you eat that food if you had the chance?” I asked the kids. “Of course”, they answered, “but that 2nd finalist needs to work on his plating-up technique…”. OK, I hadn’t really expected that response,  but I took the hint, phoned the restaurant, booked the table for August, and only then sorted out the rest of the holiday…

Arrival or the pilgrims.

Now there’s not much point only doing a pilgrimage like this half-heartedly, so we invited friends along too. After much dressing up, application of lipstick (just the girls) etc, we arrived at the temple dedicated to Catalan food. What joys await!

2 tomes for wine – one for white, one for red…!

The menu is extraordinary. Choosing is impossible, so it’s simpler to go for the taster menu and have everything… (mind you, we went for the 9 course taster, there is a 14 course beast for those of greater hunger!).

The excitement begins before the main food gets near the table. The Amuses-bouches are a great way for the chefs to show off their talents, and it started with our first surprise. A paper lampoon, which unravels to reveal savoury bonbons:

Tastes of the World: Mexico, Peru, Thailand, Morocco and Japan

You have to work out which flavour is from which country

This next one is amazing: a miniature olive tree is brought to the table, with real olives hanging from the branches, that you pick and eat – right off the tree…

They taste caramelised and pop-corny

Campari explosions, truffled bonbons…

So at this point we haven’t even started the actual menu…. It arrives, each dish more exquisite that the last. Here’s a selection – to whet your appetite (haha…)

Oysters in Cava (which was still fizzing in the bowl!), apple compote, ginger, pineapple, lemon confit and spices

Sole with olive oil, fennel, bergamot, orange, pine nuts and green olives

Sierra Mayor Iberian suckling pig, melon, orange and beetroot (OMG – this is to die for…!)

OK, so I’ve missed a few dishes out (!?!), but hey, we need a drink! So of course, my daughter takes over wine tasting duties. in the other hand is a Coke. How typical!

El Rocallis 07 DO Penedes

Then come the desserts!!! Charles reaches Nirvana, and Imogen relaxes with a fag.

Gold and Chocolate makes a young man happy

A taste of Havana, and a Mojito ice cream

Who thought ash could taste nice !!! (it did…)

After all this indulgence the senses are refreshed with a perfume cone and a homage to Willy Wonker

A quintessence of lemon

Our waiter turns into Willy Wonker

Sweets galore!

All hail the Rocas brothers! We are overcome! Immy, who has made friends with Davide our waiter, asks him “to pass on our compliments to the chefs”. Davide ups the ante, and asks the kids if they would like to meet the chefs? So off we troop to the kitchen (!)

Joan Roca and the kids – how cool is that!!!

And then a tour of the wine cellar. Immy is so delighted she throws her arms around Davide to give him a hug. There is a tear in Davide’s eye. He has been charmed.

50,000+ bottles. I could stay here for ever.

This place is so fantastic. No feeling of pretentiousness or snobbery. The wonderful food, and the welcoming people. These are memories that will last for ever, and after all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Smiling god-mother and god-daughter, and a wonderful meal.

If you like this post, here’s 2 food posts that I follow regularly: great food and great stories.



Why do sunglasses cost so much…?

high class shades…?

Over the last 2 weeks I have been watching the uses and abuses of sunglasses. OK. So I like shades as much as the next person. But I wear them to ward off the glare of the sun (oh, I am kidding myself of course…). Not so everyone else. They are a statement of projected character. Let’s take a look…

Mother and daughter beauty queens?

Together forever sunglasses…?

What is it with the cost of sunglasses? I shelled out £150 for a pair in the airport (that’s minus VAT) – polarised no less, all to counteract that evil glare, of course…. Outrageous for coloured glass. What’s got into me?

Do NOT disagree with me sunglasses..?

And what happens to my eyewear? Gets swiped by my son of course. And he maintains they suit him better than me, so he has a right to wear them. Ah, the sacrifices of fatherhood…

Godammit! he DOES look good!

Everyone is in on the act. The eyewear maketh the man…, and woman!

high life glasses…?

Perhaps the genius of sunglasses is that they are sun glasses. In that they are worn when it is sunny, and that just makes you smile and feel good. Look:

high flying chick glasses…? (love the reflections)

11 going on 18 sunglasses…?

Because I’m a berk, I managed to lose my shades after 10 days (on a golf course – why on earth did I think I needed my glasses there?!?) So, on cost per wear, that makes about £15 a day. I am a numpty. Jeez, I should have just given them to Charles. here is the one and only photo of me with my shades on. (Can I claim on insurance – maybe it’s worth it….?)

dude posing shades…?

All photos – holiday snaps from last 2 weeks. The Leica ones are the best (can you see them…?) – now that’s where it’s worth spending the money on the glass!