Sunday Shot – An Irish Evening Sky


Soon be seeing some of these….

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Foto Friday – The Shisha Hut


MB has posted some pics from his August 2014 trip to Sudan in recent posts. For this week’s Foto Friday he gives you one of his favorite pics from that trip.

YSL and friends had just taken MB on a tour of a very poor shanty town (maybe not the correct term but MB can not think of better as he types) on the outskirts of Khartoum called Soba. It was then time to smoke some shisha in a nearby shisha hut. MB is not a smoker. Never was. Never will be. But on this occasion, he puffed some shisha with YSL and friends just to be sociable, and thankful for the effort they had all made.

The shisha hut was just that. A hut with a frail timber frame and some bamboo leaves (or similar on the outside. And some light paper fabric on the inside. The AC was great!

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Experimental


Experimental.

In August 2014, MB found himself in Khartoum, Sudan, for a wedding. Read More

Foto Friday – The Best Days of our Lives


All kids love a tyre! Khartoum, August 2014.

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Foto Friday – The Birds


Sticking with the Alfred Hitchcock theme……………..

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Foto Friday – Homeland


One from the homeland. Lough Gur. June 2012.IMG_3852

 

Weekly Photo Challenge – Rounded


Rounded.

Residents of the USA will be familiar with the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas. In Dubai, the fountains of the Dubai Mall, next to the Burj Khalifa (world’s tallest building), are similar, but bigger. The choreographed movements of the water to some great musical pieces are accompanied by flashing lights along the entire length of the Burj K. The fountains, music and light show is a spectacular sight as you dine in one of the many open-air cafes facing the fountain area, or just observe from the piazza.

This shot was taken by MB sometime in 2012 in early-evening. One must, however, see them in the darkness of night to fully appreciate the spectacle.

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Foto Friday


MB recently recommended Ireland to an Arab acquaintance who wants to go on a horse riding holiday.

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Al Hallab Bakery


Abdul Rakhman Al Hallab bakery and coffee shop is a famous Lebanese institution much beloved by the natives. It is producing delicious cakes since 1881. The original ‘mother’ shop is located in Tripoli in northern Lebanon not far from the Syrian border and MB had the good fortune to visit there at end December 2016, when he was in Lebanon for the wedding of a work colleague. MB is now back amongst the Lebanese for another wedding, again that of a work colleague, this time in the ancient habitation of Byblos in the modern day town of Jbail. More on that wedding anon.

Google the city of Byblos, if you will. It’s one of the oldest habitations in the world with human occupation going back some 8,000 years as far as MB is aware. The Roman’s and many other civilisations were here, and the 1,100 year old Crusader castle still stands tall on the Byblos waterfront, one of Lebanon’s major tourist attractions. One can see some of the demolished Roman circular columns used on the lower parts of the castle walls. MB presumes this was a war psychology idea on the part of the Crusaders. Look at us, we are bigger and bolder and better than the Romans. You can see their demolished history at the base of our castle walls – sort of thing. 

The words Bible, and biblioteque (French for ‘library’) amongst others, derive from the Byblos name, as far as MB is aware because the Phonecians, who gave the world the first written alphabet, were also dwellers of the city of  Byblos. 

Archaeologists have managed in the past to decipher the Phonecian script, and when one visits the Crusader castle it is possible to get one of the guides to explain how to write one’s name in the ancient text.

Anyway, MB has digressed. MB was walking along a Byblos street yesterday evening when he had the good luck to stumble across an Al Hallab ‘daughter’ shop. He duly went in and had himself a tasty cake and an espresso.

A picture paints a thousands words, as the old ‘picture paints a thousand words’ saying goes. Herewith, some mouthwatering shots that MB shot off on his phone. Enjoy!

Weekly Photo Challenge – Structure


Structure.

Jen has thrown down the gauntlet to all this week with the word ‘structure’, showing us some impressive leaves. Well, MB is well up for the challenge and steps up to the plate with a mighty structure indeed. The greatest man-made structure on the planet – The Great Wall of China (horns blaring in the background). Read More

Moscow – The Kremlin


Diplomatic relations between Russia and the Western nations are at a particularly low ebb at present, the worst in many years. It, therefore, comes as no surprise to HX followers that MB has made a recent trip to the heart of the Russia to try to mend some fences. And when one travels to the capital city, one knows that fence-mending doesn’t happen in ornate cathedrals, hotels or fancy metro stations. No Siree. If fence-mending is your game, then there is only one location in Moscow to head for.

The Kremlin.

MB received word prior to travel that Vlad Putin was busy and was unlikely to get a chance to press the flesh with MB. MB took the news on the chin as one would expect, and soldiered on regardless. But in the end, the paths of the two men did indeed cross, as the ‘main man’ emerged from the Kremlin complex one evening in his nuclear bomb-proof car, accompanied by some serious looking dark-glassed 4x4s, as MB was walking past. Needless to say, the Russian President gave MB a thumbs-up as both men made eye-contact. MB responded in kind with an air high-five. Mr Putin smiled. So did MB.

A day or two later, MB found himself not outside the Kremlin walls, but within. Do not ask MB how he manages such magical diplomatic feats, as he is not at liberty to say. Anyway, informing all the Kremlin security staff that he had the personal permission of Mr Putin to photograph at will, MB ran amok with his Canon 7D, and photographed anything that moved. And much that didn’t.

Seriously, a visit to the red-walled Kremlin complex is a huge thrill. The area called Cathedral Square from the outside is stunning, and one can also enter the inside of the churches to see the ornate Orthodox-style religious decoration. If ever HX followers wish to travel in the footsteps of MB, just shoot MB a private message, and he will immediately take the permission of Mr Puttin to get you inside. Guaranteed.

On the occasion of MBs visit, a class of young military cadets were celebrating their graduation, so many family members and guests were in attendance, as can be seen in some of the below photos.

Expect international diplomatic relations to start improving dramatically. Real soon!


Traffic is stopped (1st photo) to allow Mr Putin’s entourage to exit the Kremlin onto the adjoining public street (2nd photo)

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The Kremlin Complex:

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The Kremlin Palace (event hall):

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Cathedral Square, etc

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Moscow – Metro


MB was taken on a speed-of-light tour of some Moscow Metro stations last weekend by Russian friend NK. MB had previously heard that the Moscow stations were architecturally impressive. ‘Impressive’, MB can assure followers, does not do justice.  Read More

Moscow – Tretyakov Gallery


MB has already given followers a photo post on the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. So he doesn’t intend to discuss it further in text. Just click on the link to get the Wikipedia info on it if you wish to learn more. The stories behind many of the paintings are fascinating. And if you are ever lucky enough to visit Moscow please do not miss it.

Some photos to give you all a flavour:

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Moscow – Moscow River Cruise


If you want a chilled relaxing evening in Moscow, MB can highly recommend a cruise on the Moscow River. Food, of a very high quality, and alcohol are available in abundance. MB particularly enjoyed a few goblets of damn fine Russian vodka. When in Russia! The tickets can be bought online and one must then arrive at the river pier next to the Radisson Hotel at the appropriate time.

The historical buildings are memorable enough during daylight hours but are truly spectacular under the night lights and golden-hour twilight.

Herewith some of MBs favourites shots from the trip:

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Delta (Change)


Transitions/Change/The Passing of time.

It’s either a sign of MB’s personal ignorance of the art world or ignorance within Western countries generally of Russian history and culture (MB is not sure which), that he had never previously heard of the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow until his Moscow visit of a few days back. The gallery houses the largest collection of Russian art in the entire country and was originally donated to the State by an art-collecting merchant called Pavel Tretyakov (in 1892).

Tretyakov’s donation comprised some 2,000 works of art at that time, but the collection has now grown to some 150,000 pieces, including some sculptures. The gallery itself is overwhelming, as are many of the paintings which are huge in physical size. MB got lost a number of times in the gallery such is its extent, and its labyrinth layout. The paintings generally portray famous characters or aristocracy figures from Russian history, famous moments of Russian history, and many religious themed paintings.

MB gives you all one such painting from the gallery, appropriate for this week’s photo challenge from many aspects MB is thinking, which depicts the arrival of Jesus to some of his followers. MB heard the full description of the painting on his gallery audio guide but sadly forgets most of it by now. MB remembers that some of the characters have just emerged from the Jordan River following their baptism by John The Baptist, and four of the future apostles appear on the left side of the photo (in beards & one with red hair).

MB will post a follow-up post on the Tretyakov Gallery in the coming days. Big thanks to Russian friend NK for organising the visit and many others over the weekend. MB Os U!

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