Vladimir

So…I’ve been in the Irish countryside working on the farm, chopping wood, growing a beard and working in the garden. Now I’m back in London and I wanted to share more of the interesting experiences I had when I travelled the world and expanded my mind. I have a host of images in my “bank” that I’d like the world to have the opportunity to see….and here are some more of them…

As we say in Ireland…”What’s the story?”…..Well, my younger brother Stuart (Disco Stu) and I travelled to eastern europe for a week last June, from Budapest out to Lake Balaton to visit some family and then up to Bratislava, across to Vienna, down to Gyor in northwest Hungary and back to Budapest. It was quite the spin!

We had 24hrs in the Slovakian capital of Bratislava which we found very charming. Arriving at a Couchsurfing social with our bags on our backs (or wheels because it’s the way to go these days) we offered two lucky leprechauns to the highest social bidder! Well it was a fun night and we ended up staying with top bloke called Anton Cernak who we had lots in common with and had a right laugh.

We only visited the Tourist Information Office once, preferring to find our own way around, but when we did the gruff lady who “received” us…gave us the wrong time for the bus to Vienna. I always do my best to turn a negative into a positive and found myself enjoying the funky artistically decorated graffiti of Bratislava’s bus station. When I went to the toilet and stood at the urinal this shaved headed guy walked in and at first I put my hand to my pocket in case of being pick-pocketed (I shouldn’t have judged so quick) only to find that the guy was working as the toilet attendant. He was fixing the soap in a net that hung above the wash hand basin to avoid the soap getting dropped on the floor. I commented “that’s clever” and smiled at him (not something most straight guys do in toilets considering that even making eye contact with another guy is a real no-no…and women actually accompany each other to the toilet…???).

He then came out of the toilet and lit a cigarette as I was leaving. I couldn’t resist capturing the image of such a striking character, of course introducing myself first and asking his permission.

He told me his name was Vladimir…

I then ran for the bus to find that it wasn’t coming for another hour so I popped back to chat with him a little more and take this photo as I wanted to get a little closer and see some more of his great character.

The moral of the story is that as much as I try not to stereotype it’s slightly engrained. The above photo is of Vladimir holding my business card after we had a broken English/Slovakian (I had a handful of words)…and he was an absolute gent.

It’s amazing where you can meet real characters in this world and how wrong you can be when jumping to stereotypical conclusions. I’m just glad I observed who Vladimir really was, spent a little time with him and gave him a coin for keeping the Bratislavan capital’s bus station toilet clean and presentable.

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Karen and Judy, Cantabrians in traditional Red & Black in front of one of Christchurch’s many containers

As Nick and I walked towards a cafe I spotted this eye-catching pale blue shipping container and had an urge to make a portrait with it as the background. I quickly looked around and spotted two ladies walking up the footpath. I could instantly envision their red & black Cantabrian colours in contrast to the blue container so I stepped back and asked them if they’d mind standing in for a portrait. They were more than obliging and I thought it made the perfect finish to my day documenting the anniversary of 22.2 a year on. I will spend another week in the area and hope to continue meeting inspirational people and hearing their stories. The people of Christchurch are quite remarkable in terms of the spirit in their community. An Irish blessing on them! May they grow in strength from day to day! If you are thinking of visiting please do…you will be astounded by the city and it’s inhabitants…

If you want to gain a further appreciation of the events of the past 18 months you should watch this movie by the very talented and adventurous Gerard Smyth http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIlxoV6uG3Q

Cracks in a damaged building by Hagley Park, Christchurch

A river of flowers in remembrance on the Avon

Finding the balance between remembering the past and looking forward positively