ST. GEORGE’S DAY

To all my friends back in England, a very happy St. Georges’s Day!

PALL MALL ST. GEORGE'S DAY (1 of 1)ST. GEORGE’S DAY, PALL MALL

Turning the camera around 180 degrees from this location gives a magnificent view of Buckingham Palace, which reminds me that I forgot to give a shout out to Queen Elizabeth on her 91st birthday this week. Happy birthday, ma’am!

queen (1 of 1)

 

Her majesty did me the great honour of sitting beside me at the official opening of  the London City Airport back in the day ……on my birthday no less!!!

GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!

 

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MARLBOROUGH HOUSE, PALL MALL, LONDON

Today, April 12, is the Duke of Edinburgh’s  President’s Council Forum to be held at Marlborough House, Pall Mall, London.

Marlborough House is almost 300 years old and has the status of a Royal Palace. It has been occupied over the years by some five Dukes and Duchesses of Marlborough, three Dowager Queens of the United Kingdom, three Princes of Wales who later became Kings of the United Kingdom and Prince Leopold, who became King of the Belgians.

Sir Christopher Wren, the Surveyor of the Queen’s Work was commissioned in 1709 to draw up the plans for Marlborough House, which was completed in 1711.

Marlborough House is today the home of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

MARLBOROUGH HOUSE-3MARLBOROUGH HOUSE IN THE MORNING

The Duke of Edinburgh’s President’s Council Forum organizer’s have decided to use the above image for  their conference brochure.

MARLBOROUGH HOUSE

Congrats to all lucky attendees. Hope you have a great conference!

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LONDON TERROR ATTACK

Sad news out of London this morning as a terrorist attack has been carried out on Westminster Bridge and the Palace of Westminster.  Oddly enough I woke up last night and read a couple of chapters of Ben Judah’s raw, no holds barred book, “This is London” at about the same time as the attack occurred.  “This is London”  examines the rapid demographic changes within London of the last decade. 

LONDON EYE (1 of 1)LONDON EYE, FROM WESTMINSTER BRIDGE

A vehicle has run down bridge pedestrians at the exact spot where I spent a good hour capturing images last November. An injured woman has been pulled from the Thames alive. God be thanked! Several dead and others have suffered catastrophic injuries. Thoughts and prayers go out to all. 

QUEEN BOADICEA (1 of 1)QUEEN BOADICEA STATUE, WESTMINSTER BRIDGE

Ironically, the lastest Bond film “Spectre” ends with a scene of total chaos on Westminster Bridge. Real life emulating fiction??

WESTMINSTER (1 of 1)WESTMINSTER PALACE

One policeman stabbed and the intruder shot dead at Westminster. Hard to score this anything but a victory for the terrorists.  Glad I got my images back then, won’t be going anywhere near there soon. 

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EVENING AT ROSELAWN

I have been accepted as a participating artist in the “EVENING AT ROSELAWN” put on by the Friends of the Roselawn in Port Colborne, Ontario on 6 April. Looking forward to the opportunity of seeing old friends and meeting new ones. If you’re in the area, check it out!!  See you there!

roselawn jpg

I will be exhibiting the following tableaux printed on metallic substrate.

Boreal Owl with Vole (1 of 1)BOREAL OWL WITH VOLE  (16 in x 24 in)

WHITE SQUALL (1 of 1)WHITE SQUALL, POINT ABINO   (30 in x 20 in)

This is the 100th anniversary of the construction of the Point Abino lighthouse. It never ceases to amaze me that a nation bogged down in a World War that would claim 80,000 Canadian lives could at the same time build such a neoclassical icon of the Great Lakes. Residents on Point Abino denied access to their private road and the federal government had to construct the lighthouse from lighters on the lake!!

CANAL DAYS (1 of 1)CANAL DAYS EARLY MORNING, PORT COLBORNE  (30 in x 20 in)

Canal Days is one of the highlights of the Niagara summer season.

 

 

 

 

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HMCS ATHABASKAN FAREWELL

From a recent report in the National Post.

ATHABASKAn

I spent a couple of winters in the Davie Shipyard as a civilian Combat Systems Engineer putting Athabaskan and her sister ship Algonquin together  down in dim, cold grimy spaces below decks prior to their commissioning. The following are some old legacy photos of the Athabaskan taken from yesteryear.

DAVIE SHIPYARD LEVIS QUEBEC (1 of 1)DAVIE SHIPYARD, LAUZON, QUEBEC

Most significant memory of the Davie Shipyard for me was the day the labour force went on an impromptu strike. The Principal Naval Overseerer  (PNO) came running on board the Athabaskan shouting and screaming for all Navy and contractor personnel to essentially abandon ship. We all hastily scrambled across the gangplank and climbed into the back of an empty dump truck. I could see that throughout the yard, cars were being overturned, fires were being lit, and the baseball bats were coming out.  A young corporal with a raised pistol stood up while the rest of us kept our heads down as we ploughed through the picket line to safety as rocks pinged off the sides of our protective dumptruck.  Quebec labour relations, you gotta love them!!ATHABASKAN AND ALGONQUIN AT DOCK (1 of 1)

ATHABASKAN AND ALGONQUIN AT DAVIE DOCK

ATHABASKAN DAVIE (1 of 1)ATHABASKAN PRIOR TO COMMISSIONING

After “Basin Trials” we took the ships up and down the St. Lawrence to perfom the critical “Sea Trials” of all systems prior to acceptance by the navy.

Iroquois trois river (1 of 1)SISTER SHIP  IROQUOIS PASSES UNDER TROIS RIVIERES BRIDGE

Iroquois undergoing sea trails on the St. Lawrence while still under the ownership of the yard. The above image is a dicey moment as we hope the naval architects have read their tide charts correctly as our mast has only a few feet to spare. Sea trials were mostly relaxed and easy going as can be seen from the informal dress of civilian contractor personnel on board.  I say mostly, because along the way sudden stressful incidents can pop out of nowhere.  I was responsible of the steering control system. During a high speed turn trial we lost complete control of the helm, nearly cutting a small wood transport in half. The badly shaken civilian captain laid me out in lavender with unrepeatable curses in front of 20 odd individuals on the bridge as I frantically tried to ascertain the problem. My electronic steering console seemed to be perfectly normal.  With curses still ringing in my ears,  I abandoned the Bridge in complete humiliation and ran the length of the ship and down three decks to the “Black Hole of Calcutta” which was the steering gear department. Covered in oil, it was truly black as a main swash plate had given way producing a complete hydraulic failure and spraying oil everywhere. I was “steering control” not “steering gear hydraulics.” This was a plumbing problem, not a control problem. Call in the mechanicals!! (who were sunbathing on the flight deck!)

I neither expected nor received an apology for the misdirected abuse I suffered that day, the memory of which still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

 “If you can keep your head, while those around you are losing        theirs……and blaming it on you!!”

That phrase has come in handy more times than I care to remember throughout my career. I seem to grow fonder of Kipling with each passing day.

HELICOPTER SHIP (1 of 1)HELICOPTER APPROACH TO A STABILIZED HORIZON BAR,  HMCS ATHABASKAN

After commissioning, I was responsible for prototype testing of an illuminated bar of light stabilized to follow the horizon despite the rolling of the ship. During night operations, this gave the helicopter pilot an “out of cockpit” horizontal  flight reference  during the critical landing procedure on the cramped confines of the deck. The above image was taken during testing of our first production model at some risk.  Without the aid of harness or a safety line which of course would be mandatory today, I nearly slid off the hangar roof on several occasions during heavy rolling manoeuvres. Next stop Davy Jones’ Locker!!

As a civilian on board a naval ship, even though I was accorded officer status and had wardroom privileges, you still had to fight for respect. Since my systems were neither “guns” nor “engines” I was always seated at the far end of the wardroom table for evening meals, far from the Captain and his Executive Officer. Helicopter flying aids, main ship steering gear control and gyro compasses (in the age before GPS!), all essential to the successful operation of an anti-submarine destroyer, just didn’t seem to cut it with the senior officer staff and I was often left to my own devices for long periods at sea. Lots of time to read up on Kipling.

uss JARRET (1 of 1)USS JARRETT HELICOPTER HANGAR

The Horizon Bar  flying aid proved such a stunning success that it is still in use by many navies around the world today. Above is a picture I snapped of one of my horizon bars below the Gatling gun on top of the USS Jarrett’s hangar during her port visit to Perth, Australia in 1991.

“He who laughs last, laughs best!!”

Farewell to an old friend, the Athabaskan. Thanks for the memories.

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GOLDEN EAGLE

A glorious winter’s day spent with Golden Eagles in Eastern Ontario.

GOLDEN EAGLE WINGSPREAD-1

 

GOLDEN EAGLE FLIGHT WINGSPREAD-1

 

GOLDEN EAGLE FLIGHT LANDING-1

 

 

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PARC OMEGA

 

ARCTIC WOLF-1ARCTIC WOLF 

TURKEY-1WILD TURKEY 

TURKEY FAN-1WILD TURKEY 

BLACK WOLF-1BLACK WOLF 

RED DEER MALES-1RED DEER CONTEST 

RED DEER-1RED DEER STAG

 

 

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CHURCHES OF EL BIERZO AND GALICIA

 Faith moves mountains and Spain has been a devoutly Catholic country for centuries. This could have been on the minds of the of the first pilgrims on their way to Santiago, a religious act,  which would end with their being in the presence of the Sepulcre of the Apostle Santiago ( Saint James) of the IX Century. Massive pilgrimages in the XI, XII and XIII centuries followed with the creation of hospices, shelters, monasteries, and even villages to aid the pilgrims in the achievement of their goal.

Some views of the churches and chapels associated with the Way of St. James through the historic regions of El Bierzo and Galicia. BUEN CAMINO!

statue-1CHURCH WITH PILGRIM STATUE, LA FABA, EL BIERZO

church-of-santiago-villafranca-1SANTIAGO CHURCH, VILLAFRANCA, BIERZO: “LITTLE COMPOSTELA”

This 12th century Romanesque church dedicated to St James is the only other temple along the Camino de Santiago, besides Santiago’s Cathedral, where pilgrims could, and still can, receive plenary indulgence. The requirements: having walked the necessary distance, attend mass and say their prayers, as well as being able to prove they can’t physically continue all the way to Santiago de Compostela, due to illness or physical weakness.

chapel-mist-1RURAL CHAPEL IN THE MORNING MIST

oceberio-1SANTA MARIA REAL, O’CEBREIRO

Welcome to Galicia! Dating from the 9th century, Santa Maria Real is the oldest building directly related to the Way of St. James and is located in the remote Celtic village of O’Cebreiro where the pilgrim’s path heads down into the Atlantic plain of Galicia.

chapel-flowers-1MODEST VILLAGE CHAPEL

portomarin-1SAN JUAN CHURCH, PORTOMARIN

The church of San Juan is an unusual Late Romanesque temple-fortress of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem as it was designed to be both a church and a castle and so has architectural characteristics of both buildings. The church was relocated stone by stone to its current position from the valley below in the 1960s when the river was flooded to form a reservoir. What an architectural feat! What a testament of faith!

One of my most memorable moments on the Camino was attending an evening service here with no more than 20 of the local faithful.

san-francisco-santiago-1CHURCH OF SAN FRANCISCO, SANTIAGO

Beyond the Cathedral itself, Santiago seems to have a church at every turn throughout the old town. The church of San Francisco was founded by St. Francis himself during his pilgrimage to Santiago in 1214. This is the view from the patio garden of the lovely Hotel Costa Vella (highly recommended!).

church-obradoir-1SAN FRUCTUOSO, SANTIAGO

finisterre-1FINISTERRE

Finisterre (or Land’s End in English) is a small community stituated on a rocky promontory on the Atlantic Coast. It is considered by many to be the official end of the Camino.

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JOHN GLENN

“February made me shiver, with every paper I’d deliver….

Bad news upon the doorstep, I couldn’t take one more step”.

Long before I became a teenager, I was a foot soldier in Roy Thompson’s press empire (later Lord Thompson of Fleet!) as a young paper delivery boy. Neither rain, sleet or snow (or the occasional dog bite!) kept little Billy from faithfully delivering the news on the doorsteps of his expectant and often demanding customers. Back then there was no “Daily Show” but people sure wanted their daily news and for the most part it wasn’t all that good.

During that time, America had sunk into a funk starting with the stalemate in Korea (a prime example of what happens when you don’t “win” wars!!), choosing the wrong side in the Suez Crisis (the first of many mistakes in the Middle East!), stumbling through both the Hungarian and Cuban revolutions and obviously loosing the space race. I say “obviously” because the US space program was an ad hoc amalgam of inter service rivalry with the Army’s Redstone rocket  competing with the Navy’s Vanguard rocket. The only thing they had in common was their fiery explosions of failure on the launch pad, the news and pictures of which I dropped on my customers’ doorsteps with depressing regularity. Meanwhile the Soviets had launched Sputnik and were the first to reach the moon with their Luna 2 program and capped it all off with Yuri Gagarin’s orbiting of the earth.  At the near apogee of Cold War tension it was clear that the Russian big idea was winning out over the West’s. And as Russia’s “Wild Duck” was about to shake hands with the Big Dipper, Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper were probably holding hands when they crashed and burned at Clear Lake, Iowa. Hell, couldn’t we keep anything airborne!! Clearly not just the music had been dead for some time.

Then came the Bay of Pigs fiasco and America’s humiliation was complete. Several months later a young, tax slashing  new President would in no uncertain terms commit America to landing not a robot, not a monkey, but a living, breathing man on the moon within a decade. How unrealistic, totally unbelievable!! Was he smoking something other than cigars??

A few months later a man destined to become America’s last national hero would be squeezed into the Mercury capsule and  successfully blasted into space. With three circumnavigations of the planet, John Glenn, a fighter pilot in the 40s, a test pilot in the 50s and now America’s first astronaut in the 60s, had put his country back in the race!! Within the next decade earth’s celestial hostage would become America’s new Romper Room. Only the construction of the Panama Canal in modern peacetime and the Manhattan Project in war were comparable in scope to America’s successful lunar Apollo program.

But that was then. Since 1972 no one has returned. Think of that! Nearly as much time has passed since the last moon landing as existed between the Wright brothers first  flimsy flight and John Glenn’s launch into history. Now when Americans heading to the International Space Station must hitch a ride on Russian rockets, the poor suffering American taxpayer might reasonably ask what return he has had from several hundreds of billions of dollars flowing into NASA over the past several decades. Apparently not much.

Of course the detour into advocacy of  shaky climate change orthodoxy hasn’t helped (and against which 72 NASA  astronauts and scientist have rebelled in an open letter to their presidentially appointed director). Neither has the new NASA priority of Islamic outreach. Not much bang for the buck there if you’ll excuse a pun.

john-glen-1 LIFE-SIZED MOCK-UP OF THE MERCURY SPLASHDOWN, GRAND TURK 

So it was that I was thinking of John Glenn when I took the above photo two weeks ago on Grand Turk Island in the Caribbean. Not much happens on Grand Turk. But when it does, it stays on Grand Turk. Forever apparently.  So it was with John Glenn’s sensational return to earth off the shores of Grand Turk in 1962.

What struck me the most was the diminutive, claustrophobic size of the Mercury capsule. I’ve done night dives in the Pacific and, I’ve squirmed through the Chu Chi tunnels in Vietnam. I think I can handle tight, dark spaces better than most. But I can’t understand how someone could have climbed into that tiny capsule with no chance of escape and risk immolation in yet another American rocket launch failure.  John Glenn, you were a better man than I.       Ave Atque Vale!

 

john-glen-parade-1COCOA BEACH PARADE

Knowing what we do now, riding in an open cavalcade with JFK is another risk I would want to avoid!! 54 years later they’re united again.

Hail and Farewell, the both of you!! You did us proud!!

 

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PEARL HARBOR ANNIVERSARY

Today is the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. One of the signal events of World War II if not the last century.

The following images were taken several years ago and are a token tribute to my cousin,  Lt. Commander Bruce Reck. After the war a dedicated Scoutmaster and one heck of a nice guy. It wasn’t until much later in my life that I learned of his military service.

During World War II Bruce served on the USS Vega, the USS Wichita, the USS Wasp, the USS Axulite, the USS Kingfisher and the USS Enterprise. Stationed in Pearl Harbor on that fateful day, he took part as a diver in rescue and salvage operations in the aftermath of the attack. During the course of his naval service he received 14 medals including the Bronze Star and the Medal of Commendation for Valor.  He died in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1995. Ave Atque Vale!!

memorial-1USS ARIZONA MEMORIAL

inside-memorial-1INSIDE THE MEMORIAL

arizona-victims-1USS ARIZONA SHIPMATES WHO PERISHED ON DECEMBER 7, 1941

interred-1SUBSEQUENT INTERMENTS

The US National Parks Service allows those who survived the raid to have their ashes taken down to be buried alongside the remains of their former shipmates within the Arizona’s sunken hull.

arizona-gun-turret-1ARIZONA GUN TURRET

Like a proud, indomitable warrior, one lone gunless turret stands guard over the remains of its sunken mother ship which still oozes a couple of gallons of oil daily, like some gigantic wounded beast that hasn’t entirely bled out.

punch-bowl-cemetery-1“PUNCHBOWL” CEMETERY, OAHU, HAWAII

Three men, Ronald Endicott (18), Clifford Olds (20) and Louis Costin (21) on board the West Virginia at the time of the attack,  survived for 16 days, desperately banging on the ship’s sunken  hull for a rescue which never came. Men on the surface did their utmost to avoid guard duty on the crippled ship so as not to hear the constant, macabre noise. There was nothing anyone could do. Cut a hole and risk flooding the compartment or use a torch and cause an explosion. Gradually the banging became less loud, less insistent. Then eventually it stopped.  Six months later when the ship was finally surfaced, their remains were gathered and buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, in the volcanic crater the locals call the Punchbowl, where the majority of the Pearl Harbor victims were buried.  The date on their tombstones was backdated to December 7 to jive with the official navy story that the men had died at their battle stations so as to save the their families from the searing pain of the awful truth.

In Louis Costin’s locker they retrieved a watch which was destined to be a Christmas gift for his mother. Broken and waterlogged it was eventually sent home, where his mother had it repaired and wore it daily until her death in 1985 at the age of 92, thankfully never knowing the true story of her son’s gruesome, lingering death.

Like William Tecumseh Sherman said, “War is Hell!”

 

 

 

 

 

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