Marketday And Other Stories


Thursday morning and we were greeted by a beautiful Rainbow to bring in the day. Running low on supplies and a needed trip to the chemist for potions and lotions due to my encounter with the Giant Hogweed, we headed for Castelnuovo Berardenga. Thursday is market day.




I decided to take the Rolleiflex, loaded with Kodak Portra 800 and Berrger Pancro 400, with me. Boy did that caused some interest. The Tuscan folk really appreciated this camera. Words like “fantastico” drifted my way wherever I went.


A little crowd gathered and examined the old machine. Several wanted to have their photo taken. I felt very humbled and enjoyed the little place very much.



Buying supplies from the market.


Supplies bought and a quick hello to the local baker and we were on our way.



Tomorrow we will be heading south. The day I looked most forward to on this trip.


We also finally found Abbie’s resting place. We gave Abbie to our good friends James and Penny and she lived with them here in Tuscany until the ripe old age of 14 ½ years. She was a special dog and seeing her place under that Olive Tree made the whole trip even more special.


A Stroll To San Gusme, Salt-less Bread And The Return Of The Giant Hogweed

The day after Siena, and having enjoyed a leisurely breakfast we decided to leave the car and take a little wander into the little hill top village that is San Gusme.


Down the Cypress Avenue to the very end, past the Ruin and at the fork not knowing which way to go.


Luckily enough Lucca the local Game keeper was at hand and pointed us in the right direction.


10 min he said. Famous last words. Uphill all the way, through wild woods, past clearings that presented views of some beauty. Vine hills framed by poppies and daisies in full bloom.


The sun was shining, birds were singing and on we climbed.  A good 90 min later we reached San Gusme. Took a look at a pristine and very much cared for resting place of the dead. One could still feel the mourning and the grief. The silence was tangible.


We climbed the last steps into the Village square.


Two or three restaurants, a bar, a post office, a bank and a Tailor. By now it was Lunchtime and the Tailor closed shop. A bend over gentleman of advancing years, but in great spirits.


The Baker lady hurrying up to deliver the mornings work to the restaurants.


We purchased a traditional Tuscan loaf from her delivery van, to take home.


On our way out of the village we decided to rest on a patch of land that was freshly mowed. The bench was slightly covered in tiny green and purple pieces. We rested, made some photographs and headed on home. 30 min or so later my left thigh began to burn and weep. I thought I was stung by a horsefly. Not so, the pulverised green and purple blanket so delightfully draped over the bench was the leftover from the Giant Hogweed massacre.


Country gentlemen
In cultivated wild gardens
Innocently planted the Giant Hogweed throughout the land

Botanical creature stirs, seeking revenge

Heracleum Mantegazzianum

My leg was on fire and blistered like I had third degree burns. And still we had a fair way to walk to our Villa.


We made it home. I cleaned up and was hungry. A welcome looking sandwich of Tuscan bread and prosciutto ham. A cool glass filled with the freshest spring water imaginable. But what was this. Two hard pieces of bread devoid of any taste. Ahh the traditional Tuscan salt-less Bread. And why not. When in Rome….


A day to remember, or in part to forget. Sitting here two weeks later my leg is just about resembling some normality and regaining full use.

giant hogweed

From The Beginning


Back to front, I know. Maybe the morning is the end of the day after all. My previous post was about our last day in Tuscany and this one tells about our first full day, the waking to a wonderful sunrise with sunbeams of warm light caressing the mist beneath the olive trees. The silence, just birds singing, a gentle warm breeze with the promise of a brand new day.


The awe-inspiring drive down the Cypress Avenue heading towards Siena and the touristy bit to tick off first.


I dislike being a tourist; don’t like sightseeing popular/famous/fashionable places, traipsing around with other foreigners.


I like wildness, oldness, natural places, authentic life, the path less travelled, which will come next.


And yes I made some touristy snapshots. I wouldn’t call them art, rather a reminder of what I saw.


We all need snapshots, but the ones that matter the most to me are the images not photographed uncountable times.


So we headed for the Piazza del Campo, did the touristy bit and found ourselves in Contrada della Torre. Siena has 17 Contradas and 10 take part in the famous Palio.


This district was gentle and removed from the madness of tourism.


We aimed for a corner cafe to get some water and coffee.


Across the small piazza was a Restaurant high with activity. Italian sing songs, uncountable hurrahs and a dance by an older couple very much in love. A most humbling experience to be able to witness this anniversary celebration.


So back to the Piazza del Campo


the hustle and bustle.


Find our car


and back to the Hills of Wine and Olives, ready to discover what tomorrow will gift us .



The Dream And The Light


Our last night in Tuscany. We managed to escape; transported ourselves for some days onto a privately owned Chianti Vineyard. Utterly inspiring. A Villa set in Olive groves surrounded by soothing hills and billowing plains, the magical splendour that Mother Nature has to offer.


So just go out and win
And should you lose? That’s fine
Precious love of mine

We made it, though, to this moment in time

The open road beckons. From San Gusme to the Val d’Orcia. Classic Tuscan countryside, rolling hills, sun-kissed vineyards and avenues of Cypress trees. Historic time capsules dotted amongst the landscape, transported to the modern day. All there waiting for us………more to discover ……


I found a wild wild wood
Full of white eyed birds
And a roaming boar
With no eyes at all
I felt a warm warm breeze
That melted worry and fears
I had a bad migraine
That lasted eight long years


And I know that I am alright
And I will wake from my dream tonight
And I will find some true peace in time


Destination Curiosity


A couple of thoughts on curiosity, and how it drives and influences how I work as a photographer.


The effects of my curiosity are both sweeping and subtle, in regards to the decisions I make with my cameras and where it will take me.


One aspect of it is that I am always trying to do something different, or looking back on things I once experimented with but never explored thoroughly before heading off in other directions. So I make a point to come back and revisit some of those ideas.


Recently I decided to start working more with the very basic Daguerreoytype Lens and an unusual new film. Ferrania P30.


I am always curious about rendering the world through such images as opposed to images that are familiar in both sight and photography.


This is easy enough to do, and these images aren’t the point. It doesn’t really matter if a photo is any good or not. In this case it was about being curious, asking myself questions and then answering them by making pictures. Hoping to capture that elusive lost Image.


Sometimes I get the shots, sometimes I don’t but ultimately it is not why I am there, nor is it why I pull out that camera. Which itself might sound crazy.


I don’t solely use my camera to make photos, I also use my camera because it is a sort of meditation and a justification to linger a bit longer.


Sometimes we get so hung up on how best to make the photos and we fret and worry and ultimately distract ourselves.


I know this is very abstract and I also know it is easier to say when you have several decades of experience doing as much photography as I have and I know it is easy to claim not to worry about the pictures when you have a whole hard drive full of images you love. I know abstract advice isn’t easy, but for me this is my driver. And maybe that truth doesn’t work for anyone else. I cannot comment on other photographers approach, just my own.


I can offer insight based on that, invest myself in being there with a camera in hand. I make photos, and by the time that shutter fires that goal has been met, my destination has been reached and the story has been told.


Cherry Blossoms And The Theater Of Life


Every year I plan to visit the local cherry blossoms with intent to find beautiful images, to do something different than I have before, use different cameras or different films, or just look with different eyes.


Because isn’t the definition of insanity going to the same place to make the same photos over and over again and expecting different results? Something like that. And considering how many years I have been making images, that at some point I have to do something new otherwise I would get out of my mind with the repetition.


So I only made one trip to the cherry blossoms. No new cameras per se, but a new lens.


Sometimes life plays out as a weird drama, sometimes a comedy. Hints of tragedy – sometimes more than hints. Maybe this is a scene from a love story. I have a feeling that there are elements of drama and tragedy here too. If not in previous acts, then in ones to follow. We live our lives on a stage, perhaps always. We live our lives in the audience too, always.


I told you I was going down to the cherry blossoms with different eyes.