Scuze me while I…

… kiss the sky. One thing you must do when in Chicago is… ‘look up’! Many places may claim to be home to the skyscraper, but few can challenge Chicago for architectural variety and significance when it comes to ┬áconstruction in the vertical plane. And where better to appreciate the visual feast (and strain your neck), than messing about on the Chicago River?

River view by day

The ‘Jewelers Building’ to the right in the following picture dates back to 1926. The four corner crowns were an elaborate way of disguising water tanks. To protect the valuable commodities, this building originally accommodated basement drive-in elevators that would take vehicles up to the required floor.

River architecture [1]

Immediately opposite are the 1969 and 2009 stages of modernism. To the left is the IBM Building designed with energy consumption at the heart of its architecture. While to the right is an example of personal ego, emblazoned with the name of someone who has fragrantly ignored contemporary concerns for climate change and conservation (viewed from many angles the name can be avoided, but if you get the light and shade correctly aligned it may occasionally read ‘RUMP’).

River architecture inc Trump Tower

Then come the visually twin towers of Marina City aka the corn cobs. A futuristic vision emerging from the early 1960’s.

Riverboat trip [4]

Who says urban high rise living lacks a stunning aesthetic? Unfortunately, to live here might well require a stunning bank balance. This isn’t going to be the revolutionary vision for ‘The Projects”!

Riverboat trip [15]

Gently floating along the river parallel to Wacker Drive, it is quite easy to imagine you are in the midst of an urban re-enactment of a Grand Canyon stylised landscape. No? just me on some far out visionary trip then.

Riverboat trip [16]

Then comes an architectural mystery. How can you build up so high from such a narrow v-shaped base? Economics and advances in technology eventually combine to give rise to 150 North Riverside, limited at its base between a river and an active railroad. To counter the effects of wind on the whole structure, 12 rooftop tanks contain 1000 tons of water to counteract natural movement.

Riverboat trip [29]

Formerly the worlds tallest building, the Wills (nee Sears) Tower uses a bundled tube framework for its design, to enable stability at the increased height. The younger neighbour (with a neon crown) uses contrasting detailing in its shape and design, in order to create its own unique contribution next to the towering icon.

Riverboat trip [28]

Meanwhile, back at the confluence of the y-shaped rivers, one of many navigation-based reflective themes to be seen in the riverside designs presents in a striking fashion. In 1983, the 333 West Wacker Drive building adopted the curve of the river as its over-arching theme. the tinted glass is also a reflection that harmonies with the water below.

Riverboat trip [31]

As dusk sets in the skyline adopts a new magical presentation…

Riverboat trip [42]

Riverboat trip [46]

… and the illuminated Tribune Tower provides a beacon for the return to dry land for the intrepid architectural enthusiasts…

River architecture [3]

Until we speak again, a special thanks goes out to the Chicago Architecture Foundation for providing such a fabulously insightful historical excursion.

Kindness of strangers

Within all the horror of terrorist attacks, most recently Manchester and London in the UK, the abiding strongest message is the reporting of how strangers stop to help each other. But my recent travelling experiences to the USA have shown me that this is not only a response to terrorism.

Travelling solo to New Orleans and Chicago has left me with a great sense of how strangers are more than happy to meet, share thoughts and experiences, and are usually welcoming of people from different backgrounds.

So, to Victoria, Tom and Gayle in New Orleans, Laila in Biloxi, Steve in California, Bob in Massachusetts, Charlotte in Chicago, and Gayle and her sisters from Wisconsin… a special thanks for making a strangers travels a truly jazz funk of an experience…

Jazz Funk guys at RF's

And any blues were of the most welcoming kind (why, here is Buddy Guy in person!)…

Buddy Guy in person [2]

So until we speak again, to Jazz, Blues and all other musical cats everywhere, let the music do the communicating, as it spreads the love better than anything else! And celebrate the kindness of strangers.

Cognitive dissonance revisited

On a recent visit to the most worshipful emporium to the banana (aka Chicago Museum of Contemporart Art), I was struck by a particularly arresting message. No, not the one about anything is possible when you’ve watched a potato crawling across a wall. 

My main reflection was that religion really can mess with your head in a most dissonant way…

Until we speak again, remember it is not only in America that religious cats get to throw you a curved ball or two.

Cat not home

So, there I was at BB King’s place. What else do you do for your 60th? He wasn’t there, but that was my fault, I didn’t tell him I was coming! However, some cool blues cats were present…

Thirst needed to be quenched, so do what the locals do… An ‘Urban South Holy Roller IPA’ might do the trick… 

But fabulous blues also seem to drive an  appetite. It looks like a hot beef ‘po boy’ is also called for…

So who needed the appetite interruption act? It seems that some cats just get preferential treatment, eating or not. 

Maybe I’m just being an over sensitive old git! Clearly some bluesmen have different priorities (if you catch my drift).

Anyway, the whole point of this ramble is just to remind my follower that a visit to Newawrlings is going to provide fabulous experiences, if you are ok about expecting unusual stuff!

Until we speak again, worry more about yourself. I’m just taking in ‘The Big Easy. 

Death in the Sun

Is it the sun or is it the moon? How am I supposed to know, after all this is Lancaster, and I am merely a cat from Cardiff!

sun-at-night-sign

A view from a different perspective confirms it is the sun, but not as astronomical scholars know it. This is Lancaster, a place of history, sandstone architecture; and it’s cold and dark so time to find out what else this historical place has to offer travelling cats.

sun-at-night-outside-view

What will greet the inquisitive traveller to this promised source of light and heat? Why, death of course!

Dead cow

sirloin-steak

Dead pig

full-english-breakfast

Dead lamb

lamb-steak

Vegetarian deadly options are available, but this being the north of England, a mere southerner cat from Wales would hardly want to invite a scourge of ridicule by even enquiring of such things. This is a place where Lancaster Blondes are apparently smooth and tasty temptations for the unsuspecting weary traveller…

sun-bar-3

 

 

 

 

 

lancaster-blonde

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When daylight dawns there really is an abundance of old sandstone to navigate and cast an architectural eye over.

The good folk of Yorkshire might well lay claim to their county town of York being far better known; but the rival Lancashire has a county town well worth exploring, full of interesting knocks and crannies.

Until we speak again I can fondly remember a couple of ex-cats who would have gratefully ignored any architectural indulgence in favour of exploring death in a bowl! Juno and Bella always wore an indignant look when it came to food choice!

cat-matecall-this-food

A Brexit Apology

Where is that spider?Bella would no doubt have been looking on with bewilderment at the events of recent days.

Cats are most frequently known for a peaceful nature and openness to form trusting relationships with very different people. They are also known for an occasional sense of indifference to others, wholly wrapped up in the importance of their own world. Here in the UK the 48% of the former were insufficient to counter the will of the 52% of the latter. It would seem that a reflective look back at a sea-faring history has caused some to believe they can conquer the world through an ability to reclaim trading nation status, despite having little or no sea-faring and trading capability left. Welcome to the 19th century, but without the Empire status!

Once there were busy trading ports; but this is the 21st century, and European partners (soon to be ex-partners) share a sense of beauty where once there was busy commerce. The schisms in British society got me thinking more about similarities with European neighbours, and the portside beauty of Dubrovnik and Cardiff is as good an example as any of the importance of sharing. The Old Port of Dubrovnik provides a tranquil setting in which to reflect on a recent message highlighted through the tragic murder of Jo Cox (MP for Batley and Spen) that ‘we have more in common that what divides us’, a thought that has become even more meaningful within the newfound chaos that our nation wants to embrace…

Old Port [1]

But, if you don’t have the cash (in our newly plummeting market economy) or time to visit Dubrovnik, then Cardiff Bay can compete in the tranquility stakes…

Cardiff Bay sweep 6

Each has its own special atmosphere at night:

Old Port at night [2]

Busy day down the docks

Both are outward looking locations extending welcoming arms to travellers from far and wide:

Sea view [2]

Cardiff Bay view

So, as the sun sets on an era, and we embark on the challenge of a roller-coaster that will ultimately only benefit the ruling classes, I am sure if Juno and Bella were still with us they would be apologising to European friends for an outcome of a unnecessary referendum born out of right wing political panicking.

Old Port at night [3]

And a welcome will always be open from Cardiff (even if the majority in Wales wish to become the rump of a right wing England); as some of us search desperately for a place to pray:

Norwegian Church

Until we speak again, enjoy the chaos and keep the welcome genuine and open.

Lessons from Dubrovnik

Cats just have that way about them that exudes majesty, as they survey all below them, by day or by night. Here is the Queen of Dubrovnik eyeing a late night inebriate on their way home after a particularly pleasant evening of wining and dining…

Going back to apartment [5] cat

Dubrovnik isn’t twinned with Cardiff… unfortunately. But if it was, we would have some very important lessons of history and culture to learn. As you are my one and only regular reader you will know I’ve recently had an issue about how the good burghers of Cardiff are lacking in their sense of civic pride and vision regarding some gems of historical architecture. Juno and Bella used to occasionally make reference to the ‘old git’, but history matters; it defines a place, it bestows a sense of uniqueness, it says something about the values of the people who live and work in a place.

Even by Juno and Bella’s standards of personal ridicule I was not around to capture historic Cardiff quite in the following way…

Old Cardiff pic [1]Old Cardiff pic [2]

But we do have our moments; take St John’s Church late on a summers evening…

St John's at night

Then take a look at the Old City of Dubrovnik, and we really can see why Game of Thrones executives identified it as the perfect location for King’s Landing. A breath-taking view awaits those who venture upward on the cable car to Mount Srd:

Old City from Mt Srd [1]

And a tour of the city walls takes in the complete circumference of the Old City, with stunning views at every turn:

City Walls [4]

Though rumour has it, possibly passed down by cats across time, that back in the 7th & 8th centuries the quirky meandering of the wall was determined by a need to accommodate the dominance of the car:

City Walls [3]

By day (Place Gate) or by night (Stradun), there is no doubting the beauty of the preservation of historical artifice, and the restoration of pride following the fierce bombardment of the city in the war of 1991-5:

Ploce Gate [7]Stradun at night [1]

But still those damn cars get in on the act!

Bell Tower at night

Whether it is the views from the city walls, the narrow streets, or the major civic buildings, Dubrovnik speaks loud and clear about valuing your heritage…

From City Wall [8]

Prijeko [5]

St Blaise Church [2]

And even a quiet walk back to the apartment at night manages to intrigue the imagination, on a stroll back in history:

Going back to apartment [1]Going back to apartment [2]

Rumour has it that cats don’t like water, so next time I will look at how Cardiff Bay and Dubrovnik Old Port stack up. Until we speak again, may all of your horizons be broad.