Weekly Photo Challenge – A face in the crowd

A face in the crowd.

The Appearance of Christ Before the People or The Apparition of the Messiah is a famous painting by Russian artist Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov. (1806 – 1858). The painting hangs in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, and MB had to good fortune to visit the gallery and view the painting during his May 2017 trip to Russia’s capital city (where he grabbed a few shots!).

There are many faces in the crowd by the banks of the River Jordan in the famous painting, which depicts many stories from the Bible; John the Baptist, Apostles John, Peter and Andrew, and others. The artist has also included a self-portrait in red headgear sitting not far from John the Baptist who has his hand and staff raised in the direction of Christ. For further info on the painting, take a read of the Wikipedia link.

Herewith: two shots of the painting from MBs trip, both giving a sense of scale and size of the painting which took the artist 20 years to paint.


Weekly Photo Challenge – Ascend

MB has chosen a shot from his May 2017 visit to Moscow for this weeks challenge. The domed spires of the churches seem to ascend to the heavens at Cathedral Square, which lies within the Kremlin complex in Moscow’s historic city centre.


Moscow – That’s a wrap!

One final Moscow post!

Some random Moscow shots, with text explanation, to finally conclude MB’s Moscow photos stories.

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Moscow – Armoury Chamber Museum

The Kremlin complex contains a hugely fascinating museum called the Armoury Chamber, which is in operation since 1851. It is full of religious, political and military historical artefacts from over a 1,000 year period, and is one of the most interesting cultural venues that MB has ever visited. The piece de resistance is a glass case that contains 6 or 7 Faberge Eggs. 00MB must inform followers that photography is not allowed within the Armoury, but followers are also well aware how much respect MB generally gives to that particular rule when he is on his travels. During the course of MB’s visit, he received four “final warnings” from Kremlin security staff. They really were giving MB a hard time, unaware, obviously, that MB’s efforts were solely in the interests of furthering international peace and harmony.

The security staff were obviously watching the Faberge case like hungry hawks. So trying to get off a decent shot or two with the camera proved, sadly, impossible. To raise the camera to one’s eye, depress the button 50% to lock the autofocus, and continue to execute the shot as per normal procedure, would certainly have seen MB ensconced in the nearby and infamous (just around the corner) Lubyanka Prison.

In hindsight, MB is a tad sorry he wasn’t willing to suffer a spell of incarceration in order to get a few decent egg shots, but there was no guarantee that the KGB prison lads would have respected MB’s camera memory card, or even the camera itself. Two rushed shots, whilst hiding behind some Spanish tourists, produced a couple horribly out-of-focus shots that MB is far from proud of, but gives them to you below nevertheless.

Herewith, MB’s shots, at much personal risk, from his Armoury visit:


Weekly Photo Challenge – Bridge


MB is too tired & busy to find some deeper meaning ‘bridge’ photo. Followers will just have to put up & shut up with MB’s quickly selected ‘bridge’ offering.

The same photo appeared in recent weeks in one of MB’s awesome Moscow posts. But as the old MB saying goes, one can never get too much of a good thing!

Enough of your inane ramblings MB. Just give us the photo. Ok, ok, lads. Relax.

Voila or Eureka or whatever. A night shot of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, behind some bridge whose name is unknown to MB.


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)


The Kremlin Complex:


The Kremlin Palace (event hall):


Cathedral Square, etc





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:


Moscow – St Basil’s Cathedral

Although it is known by other formal and former names, St Basil’s Cathedral is known as such throughout the world and is the jewel in the crown of Moscow’s Red Square. It was commissioned by the dastardly Ivan the Terrible to commemorate the Russian conquest of Kazan and Astrakhan, and was built between 1555 & 1561. It is not known with 100% certainty who the architects were, but they are commonly considered to have been two in number, named Barma and Postnik. The building is unique in world architecture, with nothing similar in existence. Read More

Moscow – Lenin’s Mausoleum

The embalmed body of Vladimir Lenin lies in a mausoleum in Moscow’s Red Square next to the red brick walls of the Kremlin complex. A decision was recently taken by the Russian Duma (Parliament) that the mausoleum will close at some (near) future date and the body will be buried. The reason for all this is that the embalming process can not maintain the body forever and already signs of skin decay are evident. On reading up a little since his return to Qatar, MB has discovered that skin repairs have already been carried out in recent years. Only on account of Lenin’s body and the extensive efforts to preserve it in more recent times and to understand the particular science to the maximum, has made Russian scientists the foremost world experts in this particular field.

MB visited the mausoleum on Sunday morning last. Photography is forbidden and burly security guards/soldiers are aplenty to ensure that everybody behaves themselves in every way. One descends a set of marble stairs at the entrance down to the lower mausoleum level where the temperature is cooled to help preserve the body. Lenin himself looks very well and at peace with the world. If MB didn’t know better, he would have assumed that Vladimir was merely in a restful sleep.


The red-brick wall of the Kremlin, with the mausoleum extreme left of photo (appearing under the clock tower)


Two shots of the mausoleum front facade


The area behind the mausoleum has many plaques and monuments dedicated to Russian historical heroes and characters. It was noticeable that the monument dedicated to Stalin had more flowers on it than any of the others. He is still a hero to members of the Communist Party, the second largest party in the country after Putin’s ‘United Russia’, despite his past deeds.





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:


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!


Moscow – The Bolshoi Theatre


If you fancy a night out at the ballet or opera lads, MB would respectfully suggest that you consider a trip to the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. There is much pirouetting, pointing of toes and lepping about in mesmerising magical movement.

The Bolshoi Theatre (operating since 1776) is perhaps the most famous ballet and opera theatre in the world. The original buildings (there were two) were burnt down in 1805 and in 1812; the latter occasion being the result of a French invasion of Moscow headed by a vertically challenged Frenchman, suffering a severe bout of ‘small man syndrome’; one Napoleone di Buonaparte. In any event, the ballet & opera-loving Ruskies were not to be bested, and the present building reopened again in 1824 under the name of the Bolshoi Petrovsky Theatre. To this day, French nationals are forbidden from buying tickets for performances. Joke!!!

Anyway lads, MB was lucky enough to have a ‘Moscow break’ in recent days and to catch a ballet at the Bolshoi called ‘Lady of the Camellias’ last Saturday evening, based on a book by French writer Alexandre Dumas Jnr. It’s about a courtesan (prostitute) called Marguerite Gautier, who was available for the pleasure of court noblemen. If she was holding a red camellia flower in her hand it meant that she was already taken for the night and one needn’t waste one’s time asking. But if she held a white one, it meant that she was still available. A tragic love story unfolds when a local young lad called Armand Duval falls in love with her, to the great displeasure of his father. MB will just leave it at that, knowing that many HX followers are already booking flights and tickets online as they read.


The performance on Saturday evening included world-famous Bolshoi Prima Ballerina Svetlana Zakharova in the lead female role, considered one of greatest ballerinas of all time. She is some lepper.

Photography is not permitted during a performance, and for the first time in his life, MB complied with such a rule. Taking photos was allowed, however, when the cast took their bow at the end, when those like MB (who know their ballet) shouted “bravo, bravo”!