Chunneling the Channel – 008 Surreal English & French

From 2009 until now, I have posted many series of wide-ranging photo essays.   A total of 72 of these essays – surreal and otherwise, and consisting of just over 1,000 photographs – were devoted to Western Australia.  Another 58 photo photo essays – surreal and non-surreal, and comprised of some 1,800 images – focused on America. 

I reckon that for a while people have seen enough of my take on slivers of experiencing life in Western Australia and North America.  As a complete change, let’s bravely have a bit of a gander at what it’s like to engage in what I’ve loosely termed as the Surreal English & French experience.

It is a surreal look in that every one of the 634 photographs in this series has been altered. This has been mainly accomplished by using Picasa but sometimes by also using Microsoft Paint as well to manipulate the images.  Not a single image is as the eye would ordinarily see it.

We are taking each country in turn, beginning with England.  And we kicked it all off by using shanks ponies and train to travel to London.  It was a kind of reconnoiter, if you like … very much a case of tentatively dipping our big toe into the murky waters of the English experience.

Emboldened by surviving unscathed our first excursion from our home base at Sunningdale, we then journeyed by car along back roads and country lanes to see what the heck is within a couple of hours reach of home.  We got to see lots of snug pubs with pints and pints of frothing cold beer … oops, I mean hot cocoa in hamlets and towns that soon floated by in a hot chocolate haze but I kind of remember Henley-on-something-or-other, Oxford University’s bicycle racks and Guildford in vain search of Charles Dickens.  In the following expedition we ranged much farther, driving to Dover and catching a train to St Ives in Cornwall.  Just because, really.  We had no plan in mind other than to go look.

Once we’d returned to Sunningdale and recovered from that coastal ordeal, we headed off to Windsor Castle.  It is not only Europe’s largest but is actually also the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world.  We put our feet up for a day or two and then caught the train to Waterloo Station to go exploring the Westminster area, including the knock-your-socks-off Abbey.  A few days later we caught the train into London again to go see the bustling river Thames area.  Some days after that, we once more caught the train to London, this time to trudge on blistered feet all about Trafalgar Square and then route march to Buckingham Palace.  Liz and Phil didn’t invite us in for a cuppa.

Let’s not live in bitter memories of royal slights in the past.  Today’s trip, as with all of our expeditions, necessitates beginning as soon as it’s light enough to head off and then not putting our feet up until well after dark … the daylight hours here in late-autumn and winter are quite short.  And the light for good photography is fast fleeting and very brief.  It can be said that at this time of year, England is a very dark experience.  Perhaps the same can also be said for France.

Enough of this gibberish by me!  It’s absolute rot!  We’ve got to get moving!  We’re driving all the way to the coast and from there, sitting in our car, we’ll speed by train through the tunnel – dubbed the Chunnel – under the English Channel!  So no more of my dreadful drivel.  Mercifully, I’ll keep my inane commentary very short.  However, I will scrupulously cite any references, meticulously following the petrified encyclicals in the Dead Sea Scrolls Style Manual that detail the turning-to-salt procedures for use on defrocked scholars.

Image 01

The British are so clever.  Here their meteorological people use a wonderfully thick fog to allow the ordinary Englishman to see that the English sun is a perfect orb.


Image 02
Hmmm …. stating the obvious as we speed down the express motorway towards the coast and Chunnel entry. 

Image 03

Validate your Chunnel boarding pass here.  But the pigeons aren’t having a bar of it.


Image 04

Here we can do some Eurotunnel shopping.  Not that I know why we would.


Image 05

Of course, Bob has the answer – we shop for piping hot coffees to drink on the way under the Channel.


Image 06
Not exactly all French to me.  I can kind of work it out.

(Source: photograph courtesy of the Dead Sea Scrolls and therein used by courtesy of the French Foreign Legion Handbook, illustrating the Roman Army’s touring guidebook with English-French translations designed for the Ninth Legion’s professional development programme for centurions on study leave from Britannica to attend burning and pillage workshops in Gaul.)


Image 07
And here we wait, and wait and wait and ….

Image 08

Ahead in those hard to read white letters it says: The Most environmentally friendly way to cross the Channel by car.  And so we sit in our cars and wait for the red traffic lights ahead to turn green.  And we even get out of our cars to stretch our legs in an environmentally friendly manner.


Image 09
How wise of Bob to lead us into the temptation of buying hot coffee.  No wonder she’s smiling at the idiot standing peering through a camera in the bitterly cold wind.  Get in the car, you damned fool!

Image 10
The resigned queue waiting behind.

Image 11

There’s no doubt about it!  It’s black and white that we have movement.


Image 12

The hills are alive with prancing graffiti horses.


Image 13
And yet again we sit and wait.

Image 14

Ah, the hungry mouth of the beast.


Image 15
Into the belly of the beast we go.

Image 16
Abandon all hope ye who enter here.

Image 17
Come a little bit closer.

Image 18
Daddy’s little man has a yawn and look around.

Image 19
Bob goes exploring as the train heads into the Chunnel.

Image 20
Oh, dear!  Sacre bleu!

(Source: definition of this archaic Gaulish expression is given in the The Dead Sea Scrolls Unorthodox Hebrew edition, translated into Latin and transliterated into English, with sacre bleu defined as meaning sacred blue.)


Image 21
While the little man clutches daddy, Hans snores as he meditates in black and white.

Image 22
It’s black and white that Bob is so very excited to be on the way to France.

Image 23
Cross?  Cross?  This sounds ominously like some sort of crucifixion. 

Image 24

French fog with fashionable panache leaping at the eye.  .

Image 25

But dreary when closer.  Even the guys look downcast.


Image 26
Ah, but it is a pink champagne moment to be driving onto French soil.


Image 27

We have 150 metres to decide which way to go.


Image 28
My second will call on your second – ciggies at dawn!

Image 29

And still more signs … but only one arrow.


Image 30
Ah, one of the huge drill bits used to carve out the Chunnel.  But we will follow the blue arrows to happiness.

Image 31

Could use it to till Bob’s garden.  I wonder how much they want for it?


Image 32

The open road ahead.  But that’s a 50 kilometres an hour speed limit, not miles per hour!  Never mind, the fog is lifting.


Image 33
Which way to go?  Decisions, decisions.  Where the hell is that English-French dictionary?

Image 34

Ah, the fog is almost gone, the sun is shining and touring life is good.


Image 35
So this is what they do to complaining tourists.

(Source: image by courtesy of the French Foreign Legion Handbook, which borrowed the illustration from the Roman Army’s touring guidebook – having Latin-French translations designed for the Ninth Legion’s skills enhancement workshops for tribunes on sabbatical study leave from both Britannica and Gaul.)


Image 36
And this is what French seagulls do.  They have circle time in a paddock.

See also:

Surreal English & French

001 London by Foot & Train

002 Back Roads & Country Lanes

003 Dover & St Ives

004 Windsor Castle

005 Westminster

006 Around the Thames

007 Trafalgar Square

About the Author ()

I am intrigued by the proposition that what you believe is true for you - even if no one else believes it or regards it as true. That you will seek and find evidence proving to you that what you believe is true, despite the beliefs of others. Thereby imp

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