dwell on the beauty of life
watch the stars
and see yourself running with them’

― marcus aurelius, meditations

Each week, I look forward to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge.

Every now and then, like this week, my heart sinks when I see the challenge, and I think to myself ‘nope, this one just doesn’t work for me’. So, when I arrived home last night, cold and wet under a leaden Brussels sky, I almost gave up. In the end, over on my ‘personal’ blog, I found inspiration on my wrist.

This morning, on waking (very late, I blame the miserable weather), I resolved to make the best of it, and find something (anything) on the streets of Brussels that would fit the bill.

I set off to walk, thought better of it and took the bus.

Arrived in the centre of town, close to the Opera.

And – lo and behold – I found something vibrant, on the dullest day imaginable.

Hey, and why not sing along and dance, as many did, despite the rain and gloomy skies!

So, in the end, I found something vibrant on belgianstreets and even smiled a bit 😉

for wordpress weekly photo challenge – vibrant



Continuing my theme of the last couple of weeks, I ventured out this afternoon with the dual purpose of (1) bagging my 10,000 steps with my red (tangerine) Fitbit, and (2) capturing some optimistic images for this week’s WordPress photo challenge. A few things caught my eye.

As you can see.









And the route I took in search of optimism.


for wordpress weekly photo challenge – optimistic

see also my optimistic thought at andytownend



The alphabet does not go ‘A B C D What? When? How?’ but it does go ‘V W X Why? Z
― Douglas Adams

This year, or more precisely, at the turn of the previous year (if that phrase is indeed correct, maybe it is not), I resolved not to make any resolutions. Among the resolutions that I did not make, were to read more, and, maybe, to take more care of my health. Bizarrely, as far as the latter is concerned, a small collection of electrical components wrapped in plastic and connected to my wrist by means of a rubberised tangerine strap (yes, really, it seems red to me, but Fitbit deem it to be tangerine) have been pressing me to address this resolution (that I did not make, of course). So, when I saw that this week’s photo challenge from WordPress was alphabet, I recharged my Surge, stiffened my sinews, or (girded my) loins, or whatever, and set out to both become fit(ter) and capture the alphabet on the streets of Brussels. The results, largely unedited (apart from a tiny bit of cropping and lens correction) are below. And, if you are still with me, you will find (way down below) a map of my route, as recorded by my tantalisingly tangerine timepiece.



























The tangerine thing tells me that the walk that I took is as recorded below. I have attempted, from memory, to indicate where each shot was taken. All positions are approximate and may even be wildly inaccurate.


And, if you are still with me, for which thank you, the book that I am reading (as part of one of my other non-resolutions) is Submission, by Michel Houellebecq, a particularly challenging read in the light of recent events and geography.

for wordpress weekly photo challenge – alphabet

and for lucile’s photo 101 rehab

*shot with nikon d700 and nikkor f/1.4 50mm lens with minor cropping and lens calibration in lightroom cc*

see also qwerty / azerty | andytownend


just another day

I decided to take a walk today.  For a few reasons. Partly to see how Brussels is getting on, post holiday season and post #lockdown, and partly to try out some new tech on my wrist and in my iPhone. And possibly even to get a bit fit(ter).

I set out from Molenbeek and randomly snapped (I’m avoiding the word shooting in these troubled times – oops), tweeted and wandered around the cold, grey streets of Brussels in search of inspiration.

Here is what I found. And snapped. And tweeted.

Oh, and yes, the last leg of my adventure was accomplished by taking the Metro. Hence the straight line and significant change in pace.

And now, after all that, time for a glass of wine.






changing (seasons) #12; or, ‘were you suddenly aware’

like the circles that you find
in the windmills of your mind
the windmills of your mind, noel harrison

It began here. Well, a little before that. But hey, that’s another story, a road well less travelled?

‘Life 101’ perhaps.

And now.

It ends.

For now, anyway.

for the cardinal, and his changing seasons



eye spy

‘I know the word that you long to hear
I know your deepest, secret fear’
– lyrics from The Spy, The Doors


Shot on the streets of Brussels during the lockdown.

Where, then, indeed, were the spies when they were,

…most needed?

Keeping an eye on subversive selfie shooters perhaps?

The spy.

for WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge – Eye Spy



seven days later

“anxiety is the dizziness of freedom”
― søren kierkegaard

This is, I hope, my final post in my Brussels Lockdown series.

An uneasy peace has returned to the streets this weekend. In comparison with last week, the streets were busier, but not as one might expect at this time of the year.

A notable exception being the long long queues outside Primark which I recall from last year. Is it possible that some people have been living here on the street, camping out all year, in the hope of that one bargain in the sale?

In contrast, many of the other shops were quieter than usual, some of the entrances to the City2 shopping centre were closed off, and taped up, to allow the guards to more diligently screen those wishing to shop within.

Or perhaps, as in this case, to practice their dance moves?

Soldiers patrolled the mall, and the approaches to, and platforms of, the metro.

Scanners, such as those used at the airport were deployed. Liquids were not banned and their appeared to be no Fastrack for frequent flyers or those with other reasons to feel privileged, no, here, today, we were all alike. In fact, we were (treated) like cattle.

The soldiers seemed more relaxed this week. Except when I pointed my Nikon in their direction, when some, fearing exposure, would pull their scarves up over their face and turn away. But unlike the other day, not once was I challenged and asked to delete anything. I had a minor scare when taking my camera out of my bag, and taking off the lens cap, made a loud metallic noise, not unlike a weapon being primed (I imagined, I wouldn’t know), which made people look around in fear. Thankfully the soldiers knew better. Their training helping their undoubted anxiety.

I walked down the escalator to the Metro, a young heavily armed soldier by my side, I smiled, he smiled back. We looked away. What is there to say?

And so, the peace filters back on to the streets.

And I am left wondering.



‘education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’
― nelson mandela


This is my response to this week’s WordPress Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge.

As ‘constant readers’ may know, I try to respond to this challenge most weeks, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, inspiration and consequent success (or not).

I’d like to be a pro-photographer. My biggest challenge? My best shots come from the heart, from my emotion, my passion, my anger, my love, oh dear HID, how would I fare in a studio (we shall see, maybe).

Anyway, back to the task in hand.

The image above is a composite. Obviously. I made it using my iPad and the Adobe Photoshop Mix app. It’s not great, I’m not proud of it technically, I rushed it, it’s now late and I’m tired. But I’d like to make my point so I will continue.

The two photos are separated by a few weeks in time in terms of execution. In terms of publication less than 24 hours separates them.

The first, in chronological terms, was actually shot on 26 September, 2015. I took a walk in the woods in Tervuren, near Brussels, I had a lot on my mind. Made a decision, whether it was a little or large decision is (now) of no consequence. Things changed. Life changes. And will continue to change. This image, of three geese (I think, I am no bird expert), was first published here on the evening of Friday, 20 November 2015 in response to last weeks’ challenge which was entitled ‘trio’. When I awoke on the morning of Saturday, 21 November the world had not only gone through the transition from night to day, from one day to the next, it appeared to have spun upside down and inside out. The Brussels Lockdown had commenced.

So, the second shot, taken during the afternoon of Saturday, 21 November 2015 could not be more different.

Transitions can be very difficult. They can be well orchestrated, they can be planned with care, or they can rip apart the fabric of our lives in an instant.

Paris. London. Madrid. New York.

And many more. Every nation, every race, every creed. All have suffered brutalising change. No one has been spared.

What matters now is how WE manage the next transition.

Do we hit back, bomb and blast and scream and shout. Do we ‘change’ the life of others with righteous vengeance? Are our bombs that rain down from the sky, the silent instant deaths that we deal by drone, are they any harder to bear, to rationalise? Who is right? We teach our children to turn the other cheek, to avoid fights and disputes in the school yard. Then, we have to explain why those sleek and shiny, sexy, steel tubes send sudden death to families far away.

Is there another way?

We shall see what we shall see.

What would you do?

For WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge – Transition

(and for Lucile’s Photo 101 Rehab as we approach one year of comradeship)



brussels (un)locked(down)?

“when truth is replaced by silence,the silence is a lie”
― yevgeny yevtushenko

So, it’s now Thursday, the infamous #BrusselsLockdown began last Saturday.

I’m writing this post on the move with the WordPress app on my iPad. My ‘grown up’ camera (curiously my iPad insisted, with Siri’s help no doubt, on replacing camera with ‘camper’) is resting at home, my battered, screen shattered, old iPhone has given up, it’s battery exhausted. Yes, it knows the game’s up, knows it will be retired and replaced by a younger, slimmer, (deceptively) more exciting model in only a few days.

Today’s photos were shot, edited and posted from my iPad, so they’re perhaps not as polished as I might like. In fact, some are frankly poor.

But, I do think they tell the story. Thursday evening, in many places, used to be the time of the week when the wage slaves received their pay packets bulging with rapidly depreciating notes. The streets would be packed with life, noise, and yes, a degree of drunken debauchery.

Not here. Not today. Not yet.

I’ll be back.

Which, reminds me (ha) you may wonder why there is a poorly cropped shot of headless Politie officers? Well, for the first time in my life, I was stopped whilst shooting taking photographs and instructed (firmly but politely) to press the delete button. Does that make me a paparazzi, a real photographer, or just plain stupid for taking a full frontal group shot with a leather encased tablet?

As I said, I’ll be back.