Sunday, May 02, 2010

Another visit to my beloved Nord of France

Here's a small selection of photos I took yesterday in the region around Hénin-Beaumont, a provincial town in Le Nord of France. In fact I covered a small circle around a pointy slagheap that dominates the surroudings, and forms a landmark along the highway between Lille and Paris.

The High Speed train races closely past it too, at a speed of 300 km/h. So closely and so fast, most passengers won't even notice it.

This is the fourth time I have visited this part of the region, and the slagheap has been hard to approach. Yet there are holes in the fences, but they've been discovered by the poorest of the poor as well. The people have created their bidonvilles, mostly consisting of rickety caravans around the artificial mountain, and somehow I feel they are territorial about it. I might pick up the courage some day to try and make contact. Not this time yet though.

I had the opportunity of watching two teenage girls throwing bottles to pieces against the rocks. They seemed to be enjoying themselves.

I have an ongoing fascination with level railway crossings. They seem to be energy points in the world around us.

The children in this picture illustrate the intensity of this level crossing. I don't think I've ever seen such serious determination in the faces of two five-year-olds. Heeding their parents' warning to cross the rails as quickly as possible, they came running across as fast as their little feet could carry them, loose shoe lace and all. It was a scene of great beauty to me.

The light was gorgeous, so I had a field day. I spent all Sunday editing the photos - there are 200 of them. So I can easily promise there is more to come.


Anne-Marie said...

Hi Koos,

What an interesting cross-section of photos. I would imagine the residents of bidonville are suspicious of strangers, probably with good reason as they are the most vulnerable in the area. Perhaps they will be disarmed and charmed when you do finally approach them- worked for us a few years back. :)

I am looking forward to seeing more of your trip. I am also looking forward to reconnecting with you and Val in just a few short months.

Koos F said...

Hi Anne-Marie,
Great to have a comment again from you.
I felt vulnerable, carrying expensive-looking equipment and having a Macbook in the car. I'll try again later, I'm sure. It just wasn't my time yet.
Talking about time: it flies as usual and then: we'll meet again. I am looking forward to that. We'll make it something special.

Dale said...

I felt electified when the photo of the level crossing caught my eye! It's so busy and indeed fascinating. And the little kids are so darling, as they make their mad dash across the tracks.
The slag heap would be my first destination, as well. Might be that I am drawn to the peaks, or that I simply find it fascinating.
It's no wonder it is not noticed by most train passengers - 300 kmph? wow
As for the squatters, I understand their need for feeling territorial, and I am sure your intuition was correct. It's interesting that we tend to cosy-up to landmarks.

lol - word verification: tosion

What one feels when they stub their toe on a piece of furniture...


The resulting eroded condition of my toes after a season of wearing ski boots eight hours a day...


Dale said...

erm, "electrified" that is...

verification: rebra

What I do every morning when I get dressed... as much as I'd rather not.

Janys said...

Seen those slag heaps many times as my husband and I have almost always driven between Venice and the UK. Each time we try to find a slightly different route to spice up the journey somehow. I spent a lot of time in my childhood playing on and around slag heaps, much to the annoyance of my father who couldn't say it enough just how dangerous they were. I wonder if your bidonville community realises that also.

Lovely set of images, as always.
Look forward to seeing some more.

VallyP said...

These are real Koosje pictures. Love the one with the children. Till tomorrow! xxx

E.L. Wisty said...

Thank you for the pictorial journey, Koos!

The slag heap is such a familiar sight for me. There has just about always been one beside the power plant en route from my home to the city centre.

I could relate to your loving the sight of those two little boys dashing across the tracks. I know that determination from my younger nephew, now 5. He would have made that dash!

As for the yellow arches. There's hardly any place anymore that DOESN'T have a McDonald's, eh? I have a theory that it's to make American tourists feel safe :-)

VallyP said...

Haha Maria, you could be right about Macdonalds, but it's not just the Americans who feel safe. I can confess to having headed for Macs myself when too confused by unfamilar scripts on café and restaurant windows!

Koosje, where's the pics of the HH coming out of the water then??