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Prague in the Wintertime

March 2, 2014 2 comments

On the occasion of my wife’s birthday we decided to head for an impromptu 3-day city break to Prague. This was a bit of a risk in February as chances were good that we could suffer an ice-locked endurance trial of a city break – as had happened to me and my sister in 2006 – but fortune smiled upon us and we were blessed with clement and mild weather for most of our visit. We had a grand time and hope to make it back sometime in the summer.

More photos from this trip can be found over on Flickr.

Swans on the Vltava and the Charles Bridge
Swans on the Vltava and the Charles Bridge

St Vitus Cathedral
St Vitus Cathedral

St John of Nepomuk Brass Plaque, Charles Bridge
John of Nepomuk Brass Plaque, Charles Bridge

Statues of Charles Bridge
Statues of Charles Bridge

Seagulls, Charles Bridge
Seagulls, Charles Bridge

Wenceslas Square
Wenceslas Square

Grand Hotel Europa, Wenceslas Square
Grand Hotel Europa, Wenceslas Square

Tesla Radio Stained Glass
Tesla Radio Stained Glass

Statues in Franciscan Garden, Nove Mesto
Statues in Franciscan Garden, Nove Mesto

Night View of the Charles Bridge from Mala Strana
Night View of the Charles Bridge from Mala Strana

View of the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle by Night
View of the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle by Night

My favourite bits of 2013

December 19, 2013 Leave a comment

2013 has been a great year; I got married, I had a great honeymoon, got a promotion, and got to have a lot of fun on the sides travelling around Europe and Asia and getting to a festival or two.

These are a few of my favourite experiences from the past year.

Rome
In March, on a work trip, I happened to spend one night in Rome on the very night that the new Pope – Francis – was unveiled to the world. I was in St Peter’s Square when it happened and the excitement was undeniable, even to a heathen atheist like me. Later in the year I returned to Rome and got to spend a bit more time rediscovering this fantastic city.

Three nuns, Via San Pio X, the Vatican

Three nuns, Via San Pio X, the Vatican

Colosseum at Dusk

Colosseum at Dusk

Albergo Abruzzi in morning light

Albergo Abruzzi in morning light

 

Paris
Over the course of the year I travelled to Paris quite a few times for work, and tried to get out for an hour or two’s shooting when I was able. More photos here and here.

Catching up outside Nos Ancetres Les Gaulois, Ile-St-Louis

Catching up outside Nos Ancetres Les Gaulois, Ile-St-Louis

Sunset, the Seine, and a Bateau Mouche

Sunset, the Seine, and a Bateau Mouche

Notre Dame and Rainbow

Notre Dame and Rainbow

Taschen Bookstore on the Rue de Buci, Paris

Taschen Bookstore on the Rue de Buci, Paris

 

Provence & Monaco
A long weekend family trip took us down to the French Riviera, the Gorges du Verdon and the harbour of Monaco. More photos here.

The Watcher, near Cap d'Ail

The Watcher, near Cap d’Ail

Moustiers, Gorge du Verdon

Moustiers, Gorge du Verdon

Monaco Harbour

Monaco Harbour

 

Glastonbury Festival 2013
I thought I was through with Glastonbury, but the lure of Chic and the Rolling Stones proved irresistible; we had a blast.

Hula Hoop Jesus (AKA Pirate Dan, AKA the Charity Bin Painter), W

Hula Hoop Jesus (AKA Pirate Dan, AKA the Charity Bin Painter), W

The Phoenix Rises at the Rolling Stones

The Phoenix Rises at the Rolling Stones

Goat at the West Holts Stage

Goat at the West Holts Stage

 

Notting Hill Carnival 2013
Living in west London, I try to go to Carnival every year if I can manage, even if just for a few hours or one day of it. Always brings a smile to my face. More photos here.

Mas Dancers, Notting Hill Carnival

Mas Dancers, Notting Hill Carnival

Family Time at Notting Hill Carnival

Family Time at Notting Hill Carnival

 

Bangkok
At the end of August I went back to Bangkok for a work trip and managed to find time to search out some places I hadn’t been before, including Chinatown and the Khlong Lat Mayom floating market. More photos here.

Racing Home, Chao Phraya River, Bangkok

Racing Home, Chao Phraya River, Bangkok

Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market, Bangkok

Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market, Bangkok

Buddhist Monk on Yaowarat Road, Bangkok

Buddhist Monk on Yaowarat Road, Bangkok

Lottery Ticket Selling is Hard Work, Yaowarat Road, Chinatown, Bangkok

Lottery Ticket Selling is Hard Work, Yaowarat Road, Chinatown, Bangkok

 

Our Wedding
It’s safe to say our wedding day was the highlight of our year, and it was excellently documented by the talented Dean Govier. Go check out his portfolio of our day.

Our Wedding - Photo by Dean Govier

Our Wedding – Photo by Dean Govier

 

Our Honeymoon
Neatly closing out the highlights of the year, and recently featured in this blog, our three-week honeymoon took us through Malaysia, Java, Bali and the Gili Islands, and was a once-in-a-lifetime trip. It was hard to come home from this one!

Laughing Market Trader, Dungun Market

Laughing Market Trader, Dungun Market

Sunrise at Tanjong Jara, Malaysia

Sunrise at Tanjong Jara, Malaysia

Petronas Towers Sunset Panorama, Kuala Lumpur

Petronas Towers Sunset Panorama, Kuala Lumpur

Borobudur Panorama

Borobudur Panorama

Yam Cracker Lady, Candirejo Village, Borobudur

Yam Cracker Lady, Candirejo Village, Borobudur

Pasar Beringharjo Market, Yogyakarta

Pasar Beringharjo Market, Yogyakarta

Red Dragonfly on Leaf, Four Seasons Sayan

Red Dragonfly on Leaf, Four Seasons Sayan

Jatuliwiyah Rice Terraces

Jatuliwiyah Rice Terraces

Macaque, Uluwatu, Bali

Macaque, Uluwatu, Bali

Sunset from the Rock Bar, Ayana Resort, Bali

Sunset from the Rock Bar, Ayana Resort, Bali

 

2014 has a lot to live up to….

Photos from Malaysia, Java, Bali and the Gili Islands

December 4, 2013 2 comments

My new wife and I spent most of October in a post-wedding state of happy exhaustion as we traipsed around Malaysia and Indonesia on honeymoon.

Of course, many more pictures can be found on my big Honeymoon set on Flickr. There are a lot of portrait-orientation shots there that I’ve left out for the sake of the layout below.

All photos on this page are Copyright 2013 Luke Robinson – all rights reserved.

Malaysia – Tan Jong Jara
Most of the first few days of our trip were spent in befuddled recuperation at the Tan Jong Jara resort in northeast Malaysia, where our ambitions mostly extended to thinking of what we were going to have to eat at dinnertime. It was perfect after the cathartic release of the wedding week. We did manage to do have some expeditions – to the local market, a nearby island, and a sea turtle hatchery – but mostly we enjoyed not having a wedding to plan for the first time in nearly a year.

Sunrise at Tanjong Jara, Malaysia

Laughing Market Trader, Dungun Market

Beach Panorama, Tenggul Island, Malaysia

 

Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur
After five days on the beach it was time to return to civilisation (of a sort) for a short three-day city break in KL. If you’ve ever been there, you’ll agree that at least in food terms, it is one of the most exciting cities in Asia. A vibrant clash of Malay, Chinese and Indian (and Western, for that matter), KL is a feast in every sense of the word. My panoramic photo of the Petronas Towers at sunset from the top of our hotel made it onto the Flickr Blog recently and is doing quite well on the traffic / favourites front, I am happy to say.

Petronas Towers Sunset Panorama

Chinese Night Market, Jalan Alor

Chow Kit Chicken

Petaling Market

 

Java – Borobudur
Next up was a quick flight to Yogyakarta in Java, and from there up the road a piece to the environs of Borobudur, the huge ancient Buddhist hilltop monument situated in a mist-filled valley of volcanoes. There is simply no other proper way to see Borobudur than by getting there well before the sun rises (and we were the first through the gate that day), so that you can see the first rays of the sun hit the stupas and Buddha figures at the top, and so the mist is caught between the palm trees in the valley floor. Magical.

Borobudur before Dawn

Borobodur Sunrise

Borobudur Panorama

Borobudur Relief Detail

Sunrise Buddha, Borobudur

Borobudur from a Distance

Later the same day, we toured the nearby village of Candirejo, where they are striving to establish themselves as a local tourist alternative to the posh resorts nearby. The people couldn’t have been more friendly, from the tobacco farmers to the old dear who was making cassava crackers in her dilapidated house.

Tobacco Ladies of Candirejo Village, Borobudur

Drying Tobacco, Candirejo Village, Borobudur

Yam Crackers, Candirejo Village, Borobudur

Yam Cracker Lady, Candirejo Village, Borobudur

 

Java – Yogyakarta and Prambanan
In Yogya we found a busy smallish Asian city going about its business, mostly untroubled by excessive tourism, which was different to my recollections of 19 years previous. I suppose I have developed a thicker skin when it comes to pestering touts. In any case we had a gas visiting the Sultan Palace, the Water Palace, the town market, and the Hindu temples of Prambanan.

Tea Ladies of the Sultan Palace, Yogyakarta

"Underground Mosque", Water Palace, Yogyakarta

Roofs of the Water Palace, Yogyakarta

Pasar Beringharjo Market, Yogyakarta

Prambanan Temples, Yogyakarta

 

Central Bali
We went for proper island life next, moving onto the tropical paradise that is Bali. The feeling of paradise was enhanced by our poshest accommodation of the whole trip, at the Four Seasons in Sayan, a spectacular resort built into a river valley, the likes of which we won’t experience again anytime soon. It was extremely hard to leave our pool villa, but we did venture out for trips into nearby Ubud, a hike up the Sayan river valley, and a daytrip up to see the Lake Bratan Water Temple, the Jatuliwiyah Rice Terraces, and a few other highlights.

Red Dragonfly on Leaf, Four Seasons Sayan

Pura Taman Saraswati, Ubud

Sowing Rice in Kedewatan Village, Sayan Valley

Cockatoo in Warung Ibu Oka, Ubud

Sayan River from the pool of the Four Seasons, Bali

Labourers on a Truck

Pura Ulun Danau Bratan - Water Temple, Lake Bratan

Jatuliwiyah Rice Terraces

Jatuliwiyah Rice Terraces

Guardian Statue, Taman Ayun Temple

 

The Gili Islands and Southern Bali
After our five nights in paradise, we decamped to an even more laid-back environment, riding a tiny speedboat across to the equally tiny Gili Islands, three mile-wide sandbars, for all intents and purposes, off the coast of Lombok. We got off at Gili Trawangan and were overwhelmed by the bustle of its little waterfront – a sea of Bintang (in boxes and on the singlets of numerous Aussie backpackers). We had a great time on Gili T, snorkeling and mooching around, but it was possibly a step down the luxury ladder too far for us honeymooners so we made a snap decision to come back to Bali for the last two nights. This decision paid off as we ended up on the lovely Jimbaran Bay, where we spent the days on the beach and the evenings on excursions to the Uluwatu cliffside temple and the luxe double-header on the last night of the Rock Bar and the fantastic Sundara beachside restaurant of the Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay. A fitting end to an incredible honeymoon.

Boats off of Gili Air

Sunset from Karma Kayak, Gili Trawangan

Gili Meno from the Sea

Late afternoon, Gili Trawangan

Village Life, Gili Trawangan

Village Children Playing, Gili Trawangan

Uluwatu Temple and Cliffs, Bali

Macaque, Uluwatu, Bali

Sunset from the Rock Bar, Ayana Resort, Bali

Peaceful Day on Jimbaran Bay, Bali

Wedding Photo Gallery – Courtesy of Dean Govier

December 3, 2013 1 comment

Some good memories and good images to be found in Dean Govier’s coverage of our wedding festivities back in late September of this year at Longstowe Hall – go have a look. Dean is very competent and professional, and has an artist’s eye. And he’s a good sort. Recommended.

Copyright @2013 Dean Govier

Copyright @2013 Dean Govier

Honeymoon Photos on the Way

November 14, 2013 Leave a comment

Just a quick note to say that yes, I am still alive, and I thought I would use the occasion of Flickr posting this image on their blog today to announce that I will be posting some photos from my honeymoon (and some other trips) on here shortly.

Glastonbury Festival 2013

July 3, 2013 1 comment

After a break of three years, we returned to the Glastonbury Festival and it was one of the best ones yet – the weather for the main days was lovely, the sheer quality and variety of entertainment on offer was mind-boggling, and of course many of our fellow revellers made for a great atmosphere throughout.

Musical highlights included Chic (staggeringly good), the Rolling Stones (epic singalongs), First Aid Kit, Goat, Tame Impala, Jagwar Ma, Ondatropica, Molotov Jukebox, Evan Dando, John Fairhurst and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds.

Other assorted moments of happiness:

  • Seeing the One Minute Disco in the Theatre Field. Basically a completely innocuous white van pulls up in the middle of a bunch of people, the back shutter rolls up and two men in boiler suits scream out ONE MINUTE DISCO! At which point dance music starts blaring out of the van and people run up to have a boogie. Sure enough, more or less one minute later, the music stops, the back shutter rolls back down again and it’s back o to being just a van, leaving a group of very bemused people.
  • The view from Flagtopia / the top of the Park field either at day or night was simply staggering.
  • Getting into Heaven at Shangri-la and finding not only posh, clean, flush toilets, but also the Snake Pit club, where our eyes were opened by a bondage / dominatrix / pyrotechnic act involving flaming whips and not a lot of clothing.
  • Sunny afternoons getting into the spirit of things. Ondatropica at the West Holts stage, with its Colombian salsa, was just the ticket. And the sun coming out on Sunday just as First Aid Kit sang “Emmylou” got me a tad emotional.
  • Great food from Goan Fish Curry, MeatLiquor (Dead Hippie burger), Anna Mae’s pesto & bacon mac & cheese, Buddha Bowl veggie curry, Grillstock pulled pork bun. Yum.
  • Finding out that my “poo” photo which had been made one of the Amnesty International postcards turned out to be the best-selling one of the festival.

Only “lowlight” was occasional overcrowding and a bit of lairy behaviour in the Pyramid field – but on the whole not much to complain about!

The photos below are just a sample. Many more can be found within my Glastonbury 2013 Flickr Set.

The Green Fields

Goat at the West Holts Stage

Performer at the Avalon Field

Catching up, Shangri-La

Chic at West Holts

Arcadia at Night

Sunny afternoon at the Pyramid Stage

Mayhem in the Crowd for the Rolling Stones

One Minute Disco, Theatre Field

Making Music in the Tipi Field

Damon Albarn gets noticed at the West Holts Stage

Hula Hoop Jesus (AKA Pirate Dan, AKA the Charity Bin Painter), West Holts

The Rocket Diner at Night, Shangri-La

NYC Downlow at Block9

The Temple, The Common

Night View of the Ribbon Tower, the Park, and Glastonbury Festival

10 years ago today: I was a zombie in “Shaun of the Dead”…. on my birthday.

June 10, 2013 1 comment

June 10th is my birthday.

10 years ago I had a very unique birthday celebration. A friend was on the production staff of a film they were calling “Shaun of the Dead”, and myself and my friend Graham had been invited to be extras on a couple of different occasions. The first one was back in May 2003 when we headed for North London to do some location shooting, which resulted in me being immortalised for literally three or four frames of film as “man at bus stop.” Some of my finest work. Obviously I impressed with my background artiste skills and so – surely nothing to do with our friend on the crew – we were invited back for a night shoot in New Cross in which the zombies were to surround a derelict pub, which had been refitted on the outside to act as “The Winchester.”

Shaun of the Dead: "The Winchester"

Our friend had advised us of a 6PM call, so we arrived in New Cross slightly early and, it being my birthday, had a beer to kill time. We swung by the town hall which had been commandeered as a unit base, to find it swarming with other eager extras, many of whom seething with pure nerd energy, waiting for the action to begin. We found it a bit overpowering, and when our friend told us that realistically we wouldn’t be needed till at least 9pm, we repaired to a nearby pub and decided to have some birthday pints – all in keeping with the theme of the film, or so we thought.

You can guess the rest… our call time kept being pushed back and back until we actually closed down the pub, and we were beginning to look like zombies before we’d even had any makeup. Speaking of which, it did occur to us that we hadn’t had any makeup applied yet. We waddled back to the unit base, which by now was swarming with nerd-zombies, who had all queued to get makeup from the handful of makeup artists. However, when we went in for makeup we were the only people left to adorn. Graham and I ended up, for expediency’s sake, with three women apiece working on zombie-fying us, and I remarked that my birthday was looking up!

Shaun of the Dead: Graham getting made up

Unfortunately now we were in zombie makeup, drunk, and with the call time being pushed back and back into the wee hours, we devoted our energy to practicing our zombie walk on the pavement with the casting director, James, himself in zombie getup as well, and idle hands being the devil’s tools, we soon noticed the dodgy off-license down the road. We soon convinced the proprietor to open the beer counter up for us (for a monetary consideration) and before you know it there was a queue of bored-looking zombies buying Red Stripes and wobbling up and down the road to the unit base.

Shaun of the Dead: Graham and Me

Graham and I realised they had actually started shooting some of the main actors, so we snuck through a park and watched the “White Lines” scene where Shaun and Ed see the “wasted” punter – actually a zombie-fied casting director James – ambling down the road. I was glad nobody caught us spying on this shot as we would have made quite a picture, hiding in a hedge, covered in blood and holding tins of beer.

Shaun of the Dead: Filming the "White Lines" scene outside the Winchester

I am ashamed to say that by the time we were actually required to perform our duties as “background artistes”, swarming a car outside the pub, and doing a classic zombie swarm shot surrounding the pub, Graham and I were very much the worse for wear, having the times of our lives, but not necessarily being completely attentive to all the instructions the director and first AD were bellowing out. We were background zombies – we didn’t have the physical wounds and special contact lenses given to the foreground zombies – but somehow we always seemed to end up near the front by the time the swarm had “swarmed.” Occasionally this resulted in an annoyed “cut” and an instruction for the background zombies to remain in the background! Consequently I am not sure I have ever identified Graham or myself in these shots, though it’s hard to tell given we all look alike!

Shaun of the Dead: Graham, Me and James (the casting director)

(We were invited to the crew screening later that year where I apologised to Edgar Wright for letting the side down – I begged extenuating circumstances).

When all was said and done, it got to 4:30 in the morning, we were finished shooting, and marooned in New Cross, needing to get back to North London. So what did we do? Why, a night bus, of course. Upon boarding we realised that we had never gone back to unit base to clean up, and thus we were still in full zombie getup. I have never had so much room on a bus before or since.

Shaun of the Dead: Method Acting

Did we have fun? Yes. Did we make a good show of ourselves? I am not so sure. But am I sure that I will never have a birthday party like that, ever again.

My thanks to the crew for their indulgence and the opportunity to have been a tiny, broken part of this cult classic.

Hong Kong


In December 2012, at the tail end of our Japan holiday, we had a 48hr layover in Hong Kong, the dynamic former British colonial outpost, dangling off the edge of China, that has still clung on to its special status as something simultaneously Cantonese and… not. Still a haven of finance, expat excess (rooftop bars aplenty) and Western influence, Hong Kong manages to maintain its own distinct culture, soaring, impossibly thin tower blocks concealing jumbles of wet markets and street food vendors at street level. And the food… oh, the food. Dim sum and xiao long bao of the highest order. More on that later…

Wan Chai Aerial Night View

Wan Chai Aerial Night View

Central, Hong Kong

Central, Hong Kong

Hong Kong Night Streets, Central

Hong Kong Night Streets, Central

Hong Kong Night Streets, Central

Hong Kong Night Streets, Central

Street Food at Night, Central

Street Food at Night, Central

Hong Kong Island from Victoria Harbour

Hong Kong Island from Victoria Harbour

Kong Kong Sign Jumble, Central

Kong Kong Sign Jumble, Central

Waterfront and Pier, Stanley

Waterfront and Pier, Stanley

Central, Wan Chai and Kowloon from Victoria Peak

Central, Wan Chai and Kowloon from Victoria Peak

Our short but intense visit to Hong Kong definitely left us wanting more, and since we have some friends there who gave us such good tips this time round, we would love to return and explore at a more leisurely pace next time.

As usual, more shots can be found over on Flickr….

Rome and the Election of Pope Francis

March 18, 2013 1 comment

Last week I went on a work trip to Rome, my first visit in nearly 20 years, for one night only. So imagine my surprise to find myself there, totally by coincidence, the same night that a new Pope was elected…

Of course I knew that it was a possibility, but I figured that it was pretty likely that I would miss the event itself due to being at the office, and that it would be enough, perhaps, just to visit Saint Peter’s Square and see the pilgrims and the curious waiting for that magic puff of white smoke.

After I finished my day’s work and was dropped off next to the Forum, I snapped a few shots and then checked into my hotel before a look round the old quarter.

Statue of Julius Caesar and Santi Luca e Martina, Roman Forum

Statue of Julius Caesar and Santi Luca e Martina, Roman Forum

I took my new mini tripod out with me, and had the smaller Lumix LX7 in place of my normal Canon 7D, it being a work trip. It was raining and I got some nice shots of the Pantheon and the Piazza della Rotonda in the rain.

The Pantheon and Piazza della Rotonda, Centro Storico, Rome

The Pantheon and Piazza della Rotonda, Centro Storico, Rome

Then, as I meandered around in the area of the Piazza Navona, bells began to ring, and, sensing something might be amiss, I started walking in the direction of the Vatican, 1km away and on the other side of the Tiber. As I walked, a quick check of Twitter confirmed that white smoke had indeed been sighted, indicating that the Cardinals had selected a new Pope after several rounds of voting.

Learning this, I hurried through the back alleys of the Centro Storico towards the Tiber. Once out onto the riverbank, the evening rush hour traffic was besieged with pedestrians crossing haphazardly across towards the Ponte Vittorio Emmanuel II, which was blocked to vehicle traffic and was now full of Romans, tourists and pilgrims walk-running across to the Borgo Santo Spirito, the wide avenue leading to Saint Peter’s Square and the Vatican. There was a palpable sense of excitement and urgency, as all knew the square would fill quickly now that the word was out.

Romans rush to Saint Peter's Square

Romans rush to Saint Peter’s Square

I entered the square, where tens of thousands were already present, a sea of umbrellas interspersed with roving camera crews interviewing anyone they could find to fill airtime while they awaited the coming announcement. I managed to make it inside the main crowd barrier, undergoing a cursory bag and body check, and then I was in, amongst the faithful and the merely curious (I definitely fall into the latter category).

Worldwide media in Saint Peter's Square

Worldwide media in Saint Peter’s Square

Then the waiting began. I tried to fill the time with taking pictures of the Swiss Guards on ceremonial manoeuvres, and by putting my LX7 on the tripod, held in aloft in my head to get overhead pictures of the crowd. Typically for being in the middle of a historical event in the 21st century, everyone was in possession of a mobile phone and/or camera, and of course this meant that the 3G network folded. I tried in vain to share a photo or two with the folks back home.

Romans await the announcement of the election of Pope Francis

Romans await the announcement of the election of Pope Francis

The Crowd Awaits the Announcement

The Crowd Awaits the Announcement

Soon enough, the balcony lit up, the red curtains parted, and French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran made the formal announcement we had all been waiting for: “Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum… habemus papam!” – “I announce to you a great joy… we have a pope!” The new Pope was announced as being Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina, a Jesuit, who would be the first pope to take the name Francisco (Francis). This thrilled the crowd as not only was he the first Jesuit, the first South American, and the first Pope Francis, but he shared the name Francisco with the current star of the Roma football team – surely a good omen. Some Argentineans nearby waved their flag around like they had just won a football match.

One of the things that struck me that night in the Vatican was that when the announcement was made, and when the new Pope appeared for the first time, a sea of camera screens appeared in the audience: it seemed virtually everyone (myself included) was recording the event despite the TV cameras and press doing a much better job of it. Charlie Brooker was right, we have turned into a world of passive recorders, drones with phones. I realised that this would not have been the case in 2005 – as digital cameras were not nearly as pervasive – and the iPhone had not yet been released.

Habemas Papam

Habemas Papam

After a time, the papal rug was hung over the balcony, the Cardinals appeared along the side balconies, and the red curtains parted again to reveal the new Pope Francis. He waited a while for the crowd’s raucous applause to die down, and then began simply “Brothers and sisters… good evening!” He was disarmingly humble, and the crowd ate his words up, rapt with attention.

Pope Francis makes his first public appearance, Saint Peter's Sq

Pope Francis makes his first public appearance, Saint Peter’s Sq

Catholic Priest listens to the first address of Pope Francis

Catholic Priest listens to the first address of Pope Francis

When his address was concluding, I was mindful of a dinner commitment with a colleague that I was almost certain to be late for, and I knew that this square would take a while to empty, so I moved towards the edges. Soon enough everyone had the same idea and the sheer number of people trying to get out of the north side of the square through the colonnades turned into a somewhat dangerous crush, as the barricades were rammed on the other side with latecomers who hadn’t managed to get in, and the guards were slow to open the gates.

Latecomers held back behind the barricades

Latecomers held back behind the barricades

After a hair-raising 10-15 minutes we managed to squeeze out of the gates and into the street, where I saw two groups of nuns from the same order bound up to each other and, squealing like schoolgirls, proceed to jump on each other and group-hug. Pretty sure I will never see that happen again.

Returning to the main avenue, a stream of people left Saint Peter’s the way they had came, nuns and all.

Saint Peter's Square empties after the announcement

Saint Peter’s Square empties after the announcement

Three nuns, Via San Pio X, the Vatican

Three nuns, Via San Pio X, the Vatican

Although I am not religious, I felt incredibly fortunate that the first night I happened to be in Rome in 20 years coincided with the historic announcement of the new Pope. It’s not often you get this sort of chance to see history in the making, up close, and it’s humbling when you think of the relatively tiny number of people in the history of the Catholic Church who have actually been present to witness these announcements.

I only wish I had brought my big camera. The LX7 is a great little camera but no match for a proper DSLR with a good lens on it.

If you’ve made it down here this far, I will “reward” you with my own compilation of amateurish home video from the night:

The next morning I had an hour or so to look around the Centro Storico again before going to work, so I checked out the Pantheon again, before heading back to the Forum and the Colisseum. This short taster definitely whetted my appetite to return to Rome armed with more time, a proper camera, and my trusty travel companion and soon-to-be wife.

Rotunda of the Pantheon

Rotunda of the Pantheon

The Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill

The Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill

The Arch of Constantine

The Arch of Constantine

The Colisseum of Rome, East Side

The Colisseum of Rome, East Side

Of course, as usual you may find more photos from this set over on Flickr.

Habemas Papem


Habemas Papem by Luke Robinson
Habemas Papem, a photo by Luke Robinson on Flickr.

I was extremely fortunate that my first night in Rome in nearly 20 years coincided with the selection and announcement of the new Pope, Francis. More photos to come when I get back to London.

One of the things that struck me tonight in the Vatican was that when the announcement was made, and when the new Pope appeared for the first time, a sea of camera screens appeared in the audience, it seemed virtually everyone (myself included) was recording the event despite the TV cameras and press doing a much better job of it. Charlie Brooker was right, we have turned into a world of passive recorders, drones with phones. I realised that this would not have been the case in 2005 – as digital cameras were not nearly as pervasive – and the iPhone had not yet been released.

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