Monday, 28 July 2008

Bristol Summer Time

I find the clouds in UK quite different from Malaysia. Here are some fluffy ones that I quite like, seen in Filton on my way to church. It feels remotely like the Sky Pillar.

On the familiar track to Bower Ashton, I saw some delicious looking apples growing by the road side and swaying gently in the breeze. I wonder if Snow White fell by one of these.

A flock of aviators I have not seen before gliding above the murky Avon River. After seeing how disgusting sea gulls can be when trying to devour a smaller bird, I'm not surprised if the birds are in fact reacting to the gulls overhead.

Summer in Ashton Court looks eerily like Cyrodiil (for those who are familiar to the Elder Scroll Series). You can imagine an Oblivion Gate opening in the distant, with deep low rumble in the air.

Here are some trees in Ashton Court. All things green should be at their zenith now.

Having said that, some exception remains. This field of gold looks decidedly more autumn than summer.

Another interesting plant that seems 'out of season' is the very same one that I took back in previous seasons located in Brandon Hill. Back when other trees were bare, it was nearly the first to flower. But so far, its leaf remains red and I suspect that it might turn green later or not at all. You can see the very same branches back in late February and early February respectively, note the dramatic differences.

Brandon Hill was also one of the easiest place to spot the lightning fast and elusive squirrels. It might take bribes of nuts to even get it to stay still enough for a picture.

"Bristol ever cease to amaze me,' as an Erasmus friend put it. I concur as I see these right outside Arnolfini's bar on the same day as the Mad For Real.

Looks like the compact eyes of an insect to me. I wonder what it looks like when all the lights are on. Can the driver on the opposite lane even see anything at all?

The summer sun and the winter rain or the summer rain and winter sun, both are beautiful in their ways.

Far West Live: Mad for Real

Date: 26th June

I have to say that living 5 minutes from an eventful contemporary art center has some major perks. Of all the events and exhibitions I've seen in Arnolfini, this has to be the most fun and exciting one thus far.

"Far West is an experimental project that will transform Arnolfini from an arts venue into a distinctive ‘concept store’, that explores the shifting of the economic centre of the world to the East." (from Arnolfini's site)

The performance by Yuan Cai and JJ Xi started at the crowded quayside on the sunny afternoon. Before 4pm, when the performance was due to start, the glass cube was well surrounded by spectators of all ages, from toddlers to seniors. Even before the duo make their grand appearances, many cameras were readied.

The artists made their appearance. The fight begun as they slowly encircled their yummy weapons of soy sauce and ketchup.

The crowds cheered as they 'whipped' and 'shot' each other with torrents of red and black.

The crowds cheered them on, as they went Mad for Real. Some would find it hilarious even as the floor became slipperier and they struggled to stand.

As time passed, they wear less...

and less... (after all, Arnolfini did issued a big sign stating 'May Contain Nudity' right in front of the cube.)

Things get really colorful before long. If I may say so, the half-naked hunks do seem to err a bit towards masochism.

Near the finishing act, one of them played 'the Thinker', while the other rained all the remaining sauces on his head.

Here are the artists fresh out of the cube when they ran out of ammunition. Too bad they had wiped off quite a bit of their 'colors' before posing for photography.

I do find the aftermath of their 'saucy struggle' beautiful. Maybe these organic smudge lines will look great on the walls of some contemporary gallery too!

Still life - of empty bottles and discarded clothes in a sea of dancing lines.

Now, whatever meaning the duo might have intended, personally, it does brought back some good memories in TOA. The Influences Workshop by Anna Gerber & Anja Lutz is definitely one of the highlights of my three years there.

Maybe one day I shall get to do something as unfettered again!

Sunday, 20 July 2008


"There are so many things that conjure up emotion...
The softness of dirt in Spring...
Clouds in the Summer sky...
The smell of the Autumn wind...
The sound of raindrops on a silk umbrella...
The chill in the air on the way home from school...
The scent of the chalkboard eraser...
The sound of a distant truck driving away in the night...
Or the safe and comforting feel of a convenience store late at night..."
~ The Voices of a Distant Star (Makoto Shinkai)

My Iifa Tree and Mr Smiley Face in a top hat on a earthly gray wall in front of a red house adorn with white window panes. Sometimes it is a wonder how much we never see because we simply have not stop to see. The hole between the uneven bricks of the ancient looking wall, that I never seem to notice for the past 6 months, now hides a new family of pigeons. Besides the purple petals of the Iifa, another flowering plant sits precariously by the upper story's window still never caught my eyes. The sound of clattering glasses which I have always assumed to be those of people emptying their recycling bins may actually be the sound of a worker pushing a cart of drinks to the bar downstairs. So many interesting nooks and crannies taken for granted and only in purposefully looking, one sees.

Perhaps before I surrender the keys and leave my room in Favell for the final time, I should spend some good time drinking all these in.

An angle, a point of view can change much. Before we consider the World Unseen, perhaps we should first learn to see the visible world that we have not seen.

What is the best thing of this new room of mine? I will say the window. It faces west, the direction of the setting sun. The usually empty car park with the encircling buildings create a sense as if it is a natural amphitheater. The real performer is none other than the air and clouds in the sky. The sunset never cease to amaze, if only because no two sunsets are the same. On a fair day like tonight, I am treated to a feast of ever changing colors in the sky. Further more, a passing jet or plane had grazed the clouds and drew a horizontal ribbon from east to west as far as my eyes can see. From vivid pink on deep cerulean blues, to greenish yellow tint in the distant horizon, I could only imagine how awe-inspiring auroras will look like.

To see.

When you are young, you think that there are plenty of chances in life, that there is always tomorrow to revisit places you have not perceived. When you are older, you realize that in life, too many are the places and opportunities we cross but once. When you are young, things that matters can be shove towards tomorrow, seemingly eons away. But when you are older, you know tomorrow have tomorrow's share of things that matters.

Now, if you have not shown yourself to be able to handle earthly responsibilities, how can you possibly ask to be given weightier burdens?

Carpe diem!

Thursday, 17 July 2008

First Post in Waverley

Here I am, over in Waverley now.

One thing does strike my mind, indeed the day will come like a thief. Yesterday night, you snuggle under the warm duvet under a skeleton and a bat, overlooking the lone kitchen light between red walls, with less than 5 steps from the window. Now, everything is different, the bed felt a little further from a window opening to a far broader vista of modern buildings and cathedral spires instead of an old country block. No more Mr. Smiling face, but there is the vast expand of unbroken sky with the tint of sunset in the corner of my eye. The golden street lamp is now many pearly white spotlights standing as sentinels over a multistory car park. No more love making birds. Everything is grander and less personal here.

Indeed, the day came like a thief. There you were, in the comfort as if never fathoming leaving, but before you know it, before even a day is gone, right here you are, the seemingly endless days become memories and a new chapter unfolds.

That the sleepers will sleep, and day will break, and when they open their squinting eyes like naked moles, white searing lights will greet their face. No wonder, 5 times it is repeated, the Day will come like a thief!

Must one chose between Briar Rose's bliss or the waking dream?

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Last night in Favell

This could well be the last entry in 201E, Favell House. In over 6 months, I have grown to love the place. It has been a good and comfortable stay. I will miss the red wall, the graffiti and smiling stick man, the Iifa Tree, that window of a kitchen, the Old Duke (a bar) at the junction, the sound of breaking class and emptying bins in early morning hours, the nearby office block, the orange street lamp, the gray alleyway and the musty carpet smell (which I'll be glad to do without).

Maybe more reminiscence when I'm over in Waverley. Now, a new adventure awaits!

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Mid Summer in Bristol

The longest day of the year, 21th June (a Saturday) has come and gone. With summer comes many adjustments, chief of which is the prolonged daylight. While the extra hours of light is lovely, it is all too easy to be lauded into a false sense of having more time than in winter. While the sun shines longer, we tend to think the days are young, while in reality, winter has no more or less of the 24 hours we are given each day. In this respect, I do appreciate the shorter daylight of winter that certainly helped me to use my time more wisely, 'to number our days aright' as they say. With summer, it calls for time management adjustments if it is your habit to plan your time according to the sun rather than the clock.

This photo is taken above the Avon Gorge, near the suspension bridge. This is close to 10 o'clock in the evening. On a fair day, you can still catch glimmer of light near the horizon after 11.

One 'problem' of summer for sunset suckers like me is that it is nearly impossible to wait for it. In winter, you get everything in 'fast motion', now, the palette in the sky turns at snail pace. I actually wanted to take a picture of the bridge with its greenish light on upon a blue backdrop, but it didn't happen. By 10pm, the sky is still slightly tinted with pink and the lights on the bridge is not yet on.

Remember the tree of shoes outside the Bristol Cathedral? It is a lot harder to spot the dangling footwear now, with all the dense foliage around.

Peter Pan's golden ship sails the sky above Watershed. I have seen a few 'weathership', a 'weather serpent/dragon' and many weather cocks in Bristol alone. On a nice day, summer is a time of green and blue. The sky here can be vibrantly blue on a cloudless day and now I understand what is so special about 'summer green grass'.

Here, the 2 youths cycle across a field in Horfield. As much as the sun is warm and lovely, it is not hard to get sunburn or sunstroke if you stay out too long, wearing too little, and without UV protection.

One of the other summer adjustment is the transportation to church. Since Ulink stopped running on weekends, I have to use the train to get to church instead. Fortunately, Temple Meads to Filton Abbey Wood is a short 6 minute trip on the tracks.

In marked contrast to the almost monotone railway tracks, the ceiling right above it are more colorful. Coincidently, this large interchange hub of the Southwest was opened in 1840, on the 31th of August, just 117 years before our first 'Merdeka Day' in Malaysia.

You can count these flapping uninvited guests in almost everywhere in the train station.

Lastly, summertime in Bristol is special, because of these,

On both Mondays when I went to church to help paint the community hall, I saw these balloons.

There were about 5 to 7 of them on both evening, passing through roughly the same area around 8pm.

A pumpkin in the sky. As they pass almost directly above your head, you can hear the sound of hot air bursting through the flame, lifting the contraption higher.

Having seen this, I really look forward to the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta coming soon!

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Sea Mills

Date of trip: 16th of June

Our beloved Mary, who's in charged of the language support for international students invited us to her house for English tea on that lovely afternoon. She lives in Sea Mills, a suburb close to Bristol towards Severn Beach's direction.

We went by train, which is cheaper than the bus and far more scenic as you ran along the Avon River during parts of the journey. This is the building by the railway station of Sea Mills.

A view from the tranquil country railway track, looking towards Avonmouth's direction.

A brief walk from the railway tracks brings you to the sleepy banks of River Avon.

Both direction of the river are filled with greenery. Few animals were out that warm afternoon, except for some ducks. I can't recall seeing sea gulls either.

I wasn't sure what is the function of this white structure.

The train station was built right at the point where River Trym flows into River Avon. The rusty red bridge in the picture span the smaller River Trym.

When we arrived around 2pm, the banks around the bridge were dry and the boats sat idly on crusty mud. By the time we make our way to the station on our journey back, the water level had visibly risen and the boats were finally out for a cruise.

Between Mary's house and the station, we have to transverse a wide green field where joggers and dog-walkers frequent. We even saw someone practicing rock climbing under an underpass by the road. The clear stream here would be River Trym.

We had a really wonderful afternoon of English cream teas, scones and talks. I really appreciate Mary for the invitation and it has also been a great pleasure to meet all the Erasmus students here, this year. I do hope to see some (if not all) of you again, someday!