Wednesday, 24 December 2008


I'd like to wish you ALL a very MERRY CHRISTMAS, thank you for reading my blog, hope you enjoy my writings. More next year.
Have a LOVELY time!
M, (*_*)

Saturday, 22 November 2008


Yvan, the man, the ARTIST.

Yvan and I have been friends since the sixties.
Yvan is an Artist, started painting in oils, was successful, then, moved on to copper etchings, still not satisfied, he finally came to glass, went and studied all over Europe with the best.
Now he is content, he loves what he creates.

We met Yvan regularly and each time he was wearing some other headgear.
I remarked he must have quite a collection and that we should have a photo session.
Always game, he agreed, a date was set and he arrived with a whole suitcase and a bag full of props.
He completely got into the different characters, depending on each hat. Amazing!
It was the most hilarious shoot I ever did.
I'm still surprised no shots suffered from camera shake, we were laughing so much.
He is a very lovely man, with a great sense of humour, which I let you discover with the this particular part of the series: "Ex- and impressions."

See previous for most of this series and a great story of friendship!

The studio set-up was mostly two huge softboxes, a black bg in a darkened environment, often a honeycomb for some rim-light, reflectors mostly black to deepen the shadows.

When taking portraits, make your 'sitters' as comfortable as possible, except for pro models, very few people are not nervous!
Be relaxed and calm yourself. Prepare everything before, get your gear together, know more or less what you are going to do... if possible.
I always see to it that there's some nice bg music, some refreshments, and depending on the season... cool or warm, always in moderation, otherwise... it WILL show, lol.

Taken with my favourite camera, Nikon F4, scanned the negs, retouched (dust, no matter how well one stores them!!!) with great care and lots of TLC...

Have fun! M, (*_*)

YVAN, ex-and impressions. Series of portraits of one man and many hats. One afternoon in the life of a photographer.


He spent a lot of time in France over the years.
As a young artist, he transformed a van into a camper van, drove all through Europe and North-Africa.
When he saw something inspiring, he’d climb on top of his van and paint until it was finished or dark.
In the South of France he encountered a French lady of the aristocracy, she taught him a lot about pigments, making your own paints, painting with your hands and palette knives.
He would tell me about the gorgeous smells of linseed oil, resin, right down to Indian cow’s urine.
A joy to have in the studio.
From the series: Ex- and impressions.
THANX, M, (*_*)


In this portrait, Yvan went all German for me.
He spent time all over the world in his quest for perfect glass-making.
Switzerland and Germany were amongst the countries that he visited.
He is such an interesting man, full of stories. You'll get to know him better...

He mainly talked about the fatty food and the beer.
Ja ja , Meine liebe Damen und Herren, more to come, great fun we had.


The studio was set up; I knew what I wanted from that session,
Yvan and his partner arrived, he put on a hat, and tried different personages, once we'd decided, I put him in place, let him do his thing, made the composition and took the images that I wanted.
Some, like this one was just a one off.

Yvan is a very profound man, with a few beautiful philosophies.

His father had died, suddenly, on a Sunday morning, sitting in his favourite chair, his fishing gear ready to go out on his weekly outing.
That's how Yvan found him.
He was very serene about it, we talked and he said to me: father and I had always spoken all the words that were needed, nothing was left unsaid, all was well...

Wise words of a sage that I carry with me always.

Think about it!
Do and say what you want to do for the people you care for and say what you want them to know!
It could be the only solace you have....


I can tell you why we have been friends for so long, I respect Ivan, we are both idealists.
He did well in his artistic career, got very good reviews and successful exhibitions, when he was invited by Unicef in Paris, along with other young painters.
They wanted to make special Christmas postage stamps, and thus raise money for their charity.
So, he had to present them with some of his work.
He was very excited and set of for Paris, in his camper van, these were still his traveling days.
He arrived and parked in between all the BMWs, Mercs, big cars, took his portfolio and walked towards the entrance of the imposing building.
Once in, he looked around and saw all the marble and expensive finery, turned around and strolled out.
They don't need me here! he said.

He never looked back, it was not fame he was after, just to live of his Art and enjoy what he was doing, and he did, on both counts.
True story.


Here, he gave a whole impression of a Russian trapper, looking for his pray or was it his way?
He had us rolling with laughter, he is just so witty, the accent spot on, some Flemish words 'Russianised'...

The lighting again was an interesting challenge, because of the hand, ah well I'm sure you'll let me know if I've pulled it off!


It was getting late, almost the end of the shoot and the hoot.
Ive always said it: 'Ç’est dure la vie de modèle'
Ivan had, like most people, underestimated the strain of being at your best in front of a camera for a couple of hours.

We had a short break and then a few more shots.


Don't ask me where he got this hat from, but needless to say there was a lot of laughter going on.
As you see, he was very straight faced, telling me all the things that would happen in my future, none of which came true, except that I had found the love of my life, Paul and that there were other men in my life... indeed, my sons, and two fantastic male friends
( see here: ) one of which he was one...
You didn't have to be a clairvoyant, nor need a crystal ball to see that.

All the different hats also meant shifting the light settings, each time a new challenge, a new exercise.


I feel this one speaks for itself; all the women will have had the man ogling them, trying to attract your attention, looking you up and down in a very appreciating manner, usually with a shy mate next to him.
Often he'll say hello first, you'll look and think do I know this guy?
That's all he really wants I suppose.
I've always thought that if you were to approach him, he'd just crumble, hehe.

The real Ivan is not at all like that, well he is charming in a very gentlemanly way... and no, I am not a 'feminist'!


After a cup of coffee, we were all set for the last shots.

In the seventies, Ivan had a second fantastic gallery, set in beautiful countryside, along a canal.
There, you met the locals and farmers, sitting next to the nobility and local aristocracy, often in deep discussions
A French camera crew was making a film with the great Jacques Brel in the area; they sent a delegation to ask Ivan if there was the possibility of some food.
Never one to say no to a challenge, he agreed, called his wonderful mum.
The village baker provided him with huge loaves of fresh brown bread; from a farmer he bought an enormous cured ham on the bone.
He was struggling in the kitchen, when a man popped in and asked him if he could assist?
Reluctantly Ivan passed him the knives.
The guy started to cut very thin slices, neatly from around the bone.
Ivan, in surprise, watched the precise, meticulous and perfectly executed gestures. He said jokingly; looks like you've done this before.
Without stopping or looking up, the man replied: " Indeed, I'm a surgeon in a Parisian hospital, had my holidays, they needed a doctor, I liked the idea of experiencing how a film is made!"
True story.


We met Ivan regularly and each time he was wearing some other headgear.
I remarked he must have quite a collection and that we should have a photo session.
Always game, he agreed, a date was set and he arrived with a whole suitcase and a bag full of props.
He completely got into the different characters, depending on each hat.
It was the most hilarious shoot I ever did.
I'm still surprised no shots suffered from camera shake, we were laughing so much.

Here he was ranting away in American, giving me a piece of his mind in no uncertain terms, on politicians(in general).
He'd had an exhibition in Washington...
He is a very peace-loving man!


Proof that EVERYBODY can look 'mean' and 'scary'... even the kindest of people!
He had really taken a shine to my sunglasses, now because they are 'mirror' and very dark, you cannot see the eyes and that instills fear in people because our eyes say so much, we read a lot into them!
Friendship is important in life, in my experience, true friends always leave you with a sense that your batteries have been recharged... if you feel 'drained' after they've gone, have a rethink!!! LOL.


A couple of years ago, he decided to buy himself a bike.
So often he'd suddenly arrive on our doorstep, always a very welcome guest.
He's on his second one now and gets so much pleasure out of it. Meandering through the small picturesque roads of Flanders, he enjoys a nice pace in everything...

The tough biker with the soft centre.


No matter how long we've not seen each other, since we both moved around quite a bit, we always pick up the 'thread' where we left it... it is like we've never been apart...

Keep smiling, keep shining,
Knowing you can always count on me
For sure
That's what friends are for

For good times and bad times
I'll be on your side forever more.
That's what friends are for

I never thought I'd feel this way
Well you came and opened me
And now there's so much more I see
And so, by the way, I thank you.

And then for the times when we're apart
Well, then close your eyes and know
These words are coming from my heart
And then if you can remember

Keep smiling, keep shining
Knowing you can always count on me
For sure
That's what friends are for

In good times and bad times
I'll be on your side forevermore
That's what friends are for...

Watch and listen on you tube here

All the best for now. Take care of yourself and your friends, cherish them, they are rare!
Thanx, M, (*_*)

Thursday, 23 October 2008


PLEASE VIEW THIS BEAUTY called DARK FLAMENCO, LARGE, by clicking on the image.

Paul came home and had bought me three beautiful Amaryllis stems, two red and one white. They were still closed, and that is the way you should buy them, so full of promise!
In fact they are Hippeastrum, which is a genus of about 70–75 species and 600+ hybrids and cultivars of bulbous plants in the family Amaryllidaceae, native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas from Argentina north to Mexico and the Caribbean. Some species are grown for their large showy flowers. These plants are popularly but erroneously known as Amaryllis

This is not so unusual for him, and NO, it is NOT because I'll have to 'forgive' him for something!!!
Where does this misconception come from, how did it start? I have always known men (agreed, on the Continent) who gave flowers to their loved one and vice versa.
It is a wonderful, meaningful and loving gesture and can sometimes say more than words!
It is not wrong or embarrassing to be 'romantic'... And yet when a man walks around with a bouquet, you see the look in the eyes of passers-by, it is such a sad cliché, and many ladies are the victim of it, their man would love to give them flowers, but they'll not be seen carrying them! LOL!

Most flowers sold in the UK are bought by women.
However, come Valentine's Day, the majority of flowers sold are overwhelmingly bought by men! Why is this? What is stopping men buying flowers the rest of the year? I know I'm a lucky woman! I don't want them on the 14th of February, that's commercial obligation, it doesn't make me feel 'special'. Out of the blue, that is what matters and does it for me!
Studies show that flowers actually have a positive effect on human beings!
Some surveys show that women have very positive feelings towards men carrying flowers, considering him a thoughtful, romantic and loving kind of guy, and are often jealous of the man's partner for receiving such a lovely gift - it could boost your rating in the popularity stakes to be seen with a bunch of flowers!

Flowers are a permanent attribute of any love story. Can you imagine courting without flowers?

Flowers are a compliment to a lady, the way of saying that a man finds her feminine?

I say... give them while I can enjoy them, no need for them when I'm dead, that's not for me anymore but for the 'outside' world?

So come on everybody, no need for expensive bouquets, it is the thought that counts, and one rose, one stem can say it all.....................
Photographed in a ‘sensual’ way, they made me think of fiery flames, the ruched skirts of the Flamenco dancers; my excuse is that I’m a ‘romantic creative’… what’s yours? Tee hee.
Have fun and thanx, M, (*_*)

Monday, 13 October 2008



Yes, there is a knack on how to board a truck, the steps are straight, the first one high off the ground. So, you have two handlebars to pull yourself up, get your footing and climb up!
The first times it seems quite daunting, like most new skills, but, now I don’t even think about it, I just ‘swing’ in and out!
In the truck my son is finishing his paperwork, there’s lots of that, as everything is highly regulated.
I know that there are a number of ‘rogue’ elements, like in everything, who give the job a bad name, but most of them are quiet, normal guys, who like a joke, a smoke, a coffee, after work a beer… or two…or three…
They work hard for a living, but it’s a world within ours, almost a community.
Look around you, in your home, anywhere, think of your food…what, at some point in time was not on the road, being transported in a truck?


My youngest son, from when he was a little boy had a huge interest in trucks, when I came back from the States and Canada, I always knew what to bring him, magazines on those monster trucks, beautifully painted and maintained, the centrefolds all ended up on his bedroom walls.
He studied, had a very good job, when he called me to say he was taking all the exams that would fulfill his dream.
He quit the job and became a truck driver! For a number of years he drove International and mostly Arctic (temperature controlled).
One of his routes was the UK, he’d call me out of the blue, sometimes on his way back from Scotland, sometimes on his way to a ferry.
Since he'd have to 'rest' by law anyway, we'd often meet at one of the service stations along the motorway, I'd sit with him, we'd exchange all the latest news and enjoy each other's company.
Sometimes I’d pack and go with him!
Once we did 6 countries in one go, England/Belgium/Holland/Germany/Denmark / Sweden. Let’s not glamourise it, it’s not the scenic beauty of the countries that you take in, but motorway, not the most exciting, you fly past all the wonderful names, and if you’re lucky sometimes you’ll see a glimmer in the distance.
In the morning they are in the warmth of The South of France or Spain, next day in the cold of Scandinavia, through all weather conditions and traffic...
It’s tough, stressful, they are under constant time pressure.
The truck becomes their home for a week, many have TV, they have a fridge, music, radio for contact, heating and airco, curtains for 'privacy'.
To sleep, well, you have to get used to the incessant traffic noise, AND... the motor to cool or warm whatever product was being transported, every 15/20 minutes!
That is with the exception of the ferry crossings, on ferries they often have their own quarters, restaurants, relaxing areas and sleeping cabins with shower, you'd BETTER be QUIET in those passages!

We had some wonderful times and adventures, great memories, lots of stories, all written....
Now he is married, they have a little girl. He’s given up THE life…
He drives a huge Scania with a trailer=a deep loader to transport very heavy loads, like huge cranes and giant bulldozers.
This is the highest truck I was ever in, very comfortable, especially for the driver, a special hydraulic seat, great music and communication console.
All the mirrors are NOT luxury or bling! Pure necessity!

Here he is, in the days that you were still allowed to hold your cell phone.

They have to be in constant contact because things change often by the minute.
I'll always be grateful for our 'trips' together, they were great times, he is a very responsible driver and I am proud of him!.

I discovered a 'hidden' world, around service stations, ports, parkings, we fly past them, but they are there... waiting, eating, resting, sleeping, doing their paper-work, looking up routes and addresses, phoning home... Everything in our world at some point was hauled in one of those trucks by one of those people!

Have a great day and thanx for viewing, M, (*_*)


People are scared, parents worry, not without cause, the news is not good...
To see children play outside, in the city, is a rare sight now! The streets have gone silent.
Sometimes you get lucky, you'll hear the laughter or tears that come with the joys of having fun with your neighbours instead of just with your brothers and sisters.
Some are still not allowed out, so often they look out their window... so sad.
Sometimes you might as well help mum hang up the wash, if only that line was not so high, lol.

I've often observed these kids from the studio, they are well behaved, somehow they seem to have a preference for that ONE derelict backyard, I wonder what the attraction is?
It's not easy growing up these days, it's not easy growing up in the city these days...

And yet, it is so important for the social skills which people need to interact and communicate with others. Social rules and relations are created, communicated, and changed in verbal and nonverbal ways. The process of learning these skills is called socialisation.
To better develop socially, emotionally and cognitively, children need plenty of free, unstructured play- in other words, lots of old- fashioned free playtime!

Professor Tina Bruce has said that ‘Play cannot be pinned down, and turned into a product of measurable learning. This is because play is a process [which] enables a holistic kind of learning, rather than fragmented learning’ (in Ward, 1998: 22, 24; see House, 1999).
It is often said that play is, paradoxically, a very serious business indeed. One reason why this might be so is strikingly described by David Elkind: ‘Play' is young children’s only defense against the many real or imagined attacks and slights they encounter…

There should be more 'child-safe' areas in the cities, it would benefit the parents too, we are ALL become too solitary.
DO YOU KNOW YOUR neighbours?

I think, that we should live with care, but NOT WITH AND IN FEAR?

I decided to start yet another series, I find it interesting, it will be ongoing for some time I suspect, lol.

Thanx for your visit and comments, always appreciated, M, (*_*)

Saturday, 11 October 2008


I was in my kitchen, took out an egg and saw this tiny plume still attached to it... it begged the old enigma, what was first? The chicken or the egg? Because of the plume I smiled and thought, hhmmm, the chicken... did the research after I had photographed it.
I am pleased to present you the answer!

It is a question that has vexed philosophers since the Greeks.
But it seems we may now have the answer to the beguilingly simple question: "Which came first?" Well I’m happy to inform you: IT’S THE EGG!!!

Aristotle (384-322 BC) was puzzled by the idea that there could be a first bird or egg and concluded that both the bird and egg must have always existed:

"If there has been a first man he must have been born without father or mother – which is repugnant to nature. For there could not have been a first egg to give a beginning to birds, or there should have been a first bird which gave a beginning to eggs; for a bird comes from an egg."
The same he held good for all species, believing, with Plato, that everything before it appeared on earth had first its being in spirit.

"Whether chicken eggs preceded chickens hinges on the nature of chicken eggs," said panel member and philosopher of science David Papineau at King's College London.

"I would argue it's a chicken egg if it has a chicken in it. If a kangaroo laid an egg from which an ostrich hatched, that would surely be an ostrich egg, not a kangaroo egg. By this reasoning, the first chicken did indeed come from a chicken egg, even though that egg didn't come from chickens."

A panel think they may have solved that debate; they were unanimous on the correct chicken/egg pecking order. John Brookfield, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Nottingham said the solution involves piecing together the specification event in which chickens first evolved.

He imagines two non-chicken parents getting together and giving rise to the first individual of a new species because of a genetic mutation.
"The first chicken must have differed from its parents by some genetic change, the first chicken must have started out as an embryo in an egg, with a very subtle one, but one which caused this bird to be the first ever to fulfil our criteria for truly being a chicken," said Prof Brookfield.
"Thus the living organism inside the eggshell would have had the same DNA as the chicken that it would develop into, and thus would itself be a member of the species of chicken," he added.
The experts looked at the evidence in the long-standing debate over which came first - the chicken or the egg - and opted for the egg.
He explained that the reason was due to the fact that genetic material does not change during an animal's life.
Professor Brookfield said: "The first living thing which we could say unequivocally was a member of the species would be this first egg, so I would conclude that the egg came first."

A joke that seems to support the argument that the chicken came before the egg follows thus,
"A chicken and an egg are in bed together when the chicken rolls over and starts to smoke. The egg then says, "Well that solves that argument then...”

LOL, hope you enjoy this? Thanx, M, (*_*)

Tuesday, 9 September 2008




Lately, many ask about my exif data, now I am a very intuitive photographer! I have been photographing for so long, so many different cameras, I must admit I hardly look at data, I set my camera at what I want at that particular moment for that specific shot, I know what I want from an image, if I want much dof, a small aperture, if not a large one... (i.e. the basis of photography?)... and out it comes! Each image unique. I don't understand how knowing my info will help?

Circumstances, light, subject are EACH time completely different... unless you want to replicate the exact same image?

The 'technical' side of photography is really quite simple, there's so much literature on it. Take a course?

For uploads on photo-sites, I do not deliberately 'delete' my EXIF data. It gets stripped out when I use the save for web function in Photoshop, probably an automatic feature to decrease the file size.
Each image is really unique. I still do not understand how knowing a picture was taken at F6.3 helps anyone. All you have to know is the basic principles. A wide aperture gives you shallow depth of field (DOF). A small aperture eg F22 gives you the most DOF. A fast shutter speed eg (1/1000 sec) freezes motion. A slow shutter speed eg 1/2 second will give you motion blur. Aperture and shutter speed are in direct proportion. When you increase aperture for example by 1 stop (f8 to F5.6) you have to compensate by increasing the shutter speed by 1 stop (1/125 sec to 1/250) to ensure your exposure stays the same. It's as simple as that!
Practical examples:
You want to shoot a portrait. You want to keep the person's face sharp but blur the background - so shallow DOF (use any aperture between F1.8 and F4)
You want to shoot a landscape and have everything sharp from the foreground to the horizon - so lots of DOF (use any aperture from F16 to F22+)
You want a safe general aperture to work with for all sorts (the photojournalist's choice) - use F8. There was an old photojournalist's slogan "F8 and be there!". I am not sure who came up with it originally but it works.
You want to freeze sports action - use 1/500 + shutter speed
You want to blur a water fall - use 1/15 or less and put you camera on a tripod
There are a million books and billion articles with these same basic principles. You really do not need EXIF data if you understand them.
Photography is about light, subject and composition... creativity and practice, practice, practice! It was never 'easier' and cheaper?
In the days of film, I spent a fortune on Polaroids during pro shoots!

Many enthusiasts see photo-sites as learning and teaching sites!
A learning site? Are they ever?
Inspirational? Sometimes, yes!
To me it begs the question is a photo-site where you LEARN photography? Mmmmmmmmmmm.

I'm not saying you don't learn anything from each other, but that is more in the region of post processing?
They want to ‘learn’ from your crits.
On this matter I do have a lot of experience, have run workshops and tuitions.

We usually get 'paid' to crit.
Some people really do genuinely want to know why an image doesn't work, how they could 'better' it next time (especially when they pay).
In my experience, what happens time and time again is, if you tell someone (for free), in the kindest possible way, they get all defensive and say things like, yeah, well I only have a small camera, it is just a cheap camera, I've only just started, I was in a hurry and many more excuses... (Like it is the camera that takes the images? I always have my small Nikon P1 with me and have taken some of my best shots with it!)
Some get nasty, angry and plain hurtful. I’ve been bullied and slandered!

Not everybody can take it, our images are often very personal to us, creatives are sensitive people, lol!
There is yet another reason why I do not 'crit' in a negative way! Go do the research yourself, you'll find that most people are 'flock' people. If one person says something negative on a photo, a lot will follow, like become daring, that or they'll come, look and will not take part anymore, leave! Too often I've seen it 'kill' a good image.
That is why I often have written personal emails to people with whatever I could 'help' them with, sometimes it was the other way round, I was contacted with questions.
I like constructive criticism, can handle it perfectly if it is objective and correct, however, if subjective and written for the 'wrong' reasons, yes then I am 'hacked-off'!
Especially at those who will only ever write a negative, never a positive on a good image?
Also, too often I read a 'critique' that is absolute nonsense!
If all someone has to say: 'I like this', that's fine (it should be?), if someone writes simply: 'I don't like it', hurray, that's also fine! We don't all have the same taste, I'd hope we'd each have our own vision, creative and artistic view. Let's respect that?
If I go to a museum to view the MASTERS, do I like all of them? Of course not!
Can I say why? Yes!
In a constructive and considering way, never in anger, never viscous and personal.
All I try to bring with my images is beauty and pleasure; I upload on some sites because it is my ‘freedom’, my ‘relaxation’, the sharing with people from all over the world with the same interest/ passion.

This is how it is for me, keep enjoying photography for the pure joy it is.
Keep those batteries charged!

THANX, M, (*_*)

I'd be interested in your feed-back.

Saturday, 23 August 2008


1. THE BRIDGE, driving into the hull.


3. On deck 7, the boat makes a U-turn in the harbour.


5. THE BUSIEST SEA LANE IN THE WORLD, view from the bridge.






11. DECK 9.



When I was a very young girl, my dad, one day, as a surprise, took me on a ferry from Ostend to Dover and back in one day. Over 8 hours at sea, wow!

Hundreds of times I saw the packet ships employed to carry Post office mail packets to and from Britain, glide in and out of the harbour, people running across the beach to see them closer and wave at the strangers on board, hello… or good-bye…

I was fascinated and hooked from that first time, always outside, on deck as high as possible, fortunate to be born with ‘sea-legs’, the North Sea can be so rough!

I often got frustrated as over the years I saw the areas more and more restricted on board. Good people, who know how to behave well and in a civil manner, too often paying the price for those who don’t.

I’d look up and wonder what it must be like to navigate a big ship like this!

As I mature and get wiser (lol?), I become more and more daring, realising at last that if you do not ask, it is a definite 100% NO, if you ask, you improve your chances by 50%!!!

The worst that can happen is that the answer is no, but then at least, you have the satisfaction of having asked!

The best feeling is when you get a yes, which is very often the case!

As we boarded the ferry home last Sunday, driving in I looked up at the bridge again, photographed it (1), parked the car, ran up, and I ASKED! Was it possible to please visit the bridge?

Obviously not a question they get asked every day, a bit taken aback, the captain was contacted, could we please wait? They took our name and we were told the announcement was going to be made over the tannoy.

Off we went,(2) the vibrant flag was flapping in the wind, the pale sun glistening on the churning water, outside deck, sunset, ship neatly turning in the port(3), we took our shots... when we heard our name.

Good news! The captain was about to have his meal (what????? We were not invited at his table??? LOL), after that, no problem, they’d call again!

Right we were also hungry and thirsty, walked to one of the restaurants, queues everywhere, the chips looked and smelled delicious, mmmmmmmmm, as we were close to our turn, and we heard our name again. This was it!

After a security check we were taken into a locked down area, through lots of coded doors, along a silent corridor.

The crew accommodations are located on a separate deck and include cabins, a day room, offices, laundry, stores and crew.

Then, at the top of the highest stairs, the supreme moment, we entered the bridge!(4)

The view was stunning, you could see 360°, France, England, the sea and one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world! (5)

(The Dover Strait (in French Pas de Calais, in Dutch: Nauw van Kales) is the narrowest part of the English Channel. The shortest distance across the strait is from the South-Foreland, some 6 km (4 mi) north-east of Dover in the county of Kent, England, to Cap Gris Nez, a cape near Calais in the département of Pas de Calais, France. Between these two points – the most popular route for cross-channel swimmers – the distance is just 33 km (20 mi)!

We were welcomed and given an interesting tour, explained the function of all the screens, radars, dials and levers. Another, exciting, world…

What caught my eye though, was a long window encased in metal frames, on both sides, in the floor.

Standing on it you saw the bow waves rushing way down, 9 decks, it was breath-taking, what a feature! I was mesmerised and kept photographing it from all angles. ( 6, 7, 8, 9)

They use them to ‘park’ the ship!

The captain arrived, holding his mug of coffee and after a brief check with the other officers, he came and introduced himself (10), he was easy going and we were told some more captivating facts, we learned a bit about what life is like for them, about the sea and about the traffic in The Channel. He was proud to tell us that if the lorries were end to end, they formed a 2 mile long queue.

The vessel is distinguished by an especially high service speed of 25 knots, a powerful maneuvering system.

Deck 3
Trailer loading space
Deck 4
Dangerous Cargo Aft &Trailer Deck
Deck 5
Private Cars
Deck 6
Buffet Restaurant, Atrium, Corporate Quarter, Children’s Playroom, Main Reception, Bar Lounge, Shop, P.C. Gaming, Open Deck, Atrium P.S, Fast Food, Children’s Playroom, Arcade Lounge, Cinema, Toilets, Elevators, Stairs
Deck 7
Truckers Restaurant, Truckers T.V. Lounge, Truckers I.T. Corner, Truckers Shower, Truckers Relax Lounge, Truckers Gaming, Gaming, Bistro, Business and VIP Reception, Business Lounge, VIP Lounge, Crew cabins, Toilets, Elevators, Stairs
Deck 8
Crew & Officer Cabins, Senior Officer Cabins, Crew Conference, Ship office, Officers Day room, Officers Mess, Crew Mess, Crew Day room
Deck 9
The wheelhouse, and Helicopter landing area. (11)

I made the observation that ferries had become so much more stable over the years thanks to the fin stabilisers which are used to provide roll reduction.

The captain gave me the title of my next image when he pointed at 'THE BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE'! (12)

He was also thrilled to tell us about the dolphins, who on a fine calm day, in a specific area of the Strait, would be surfing in the bow waves, fetching a free ride and visible through the magic floor-windows.

A lot of fine humour!

The sun was now lower and less playful with the clouds, Dover was very close and we you could feel the tension mount, more activity, so we felt it was time to take our leave.

A last image of the screens and info that our lives depend on, in the capable hands of these officers of the Merchant Navy.(13)

We were escorted back down; it was strange to come from this silent vast space into the crowded area of the vessel, where most passengers didn’t have a clue of the men and women above taking care of them, while they were enjoying themselves, drinking, eating, shopping or sleeping…travelling…

It was too late for us to get anything to eat or drink, we watched the docking on the outer deck and than made our way to the car, the journey was over!

THE BEST EVER! A dream come true.

We drove our 5 hours back through the night with an ear-to-ear smile!

The main lesson is, don’t be shy, ask politely, enjoy the experience of the yes, and accept the no gracefully!

THANX, M, (*_*)