If you look down on the valley from that high point, there are your dark satanic mills or at least multiple smokestacks belching into the atmosphere and it's one of the most poignant images I think I ever beheld. Perhaps the high hillside elevation burned it into the memory all the more and maybe it was because I always seemed to get there just before dusk on a dull and gloomy day.
They seem to have cleaned up their act a bit now but the contrast between the exquisitely beautiful Britain and the dire, satanic is still stark as you travel up and down the country. Makes a person think how a people could ever let it get that way and yet the people didn't, did they? They were in thrall then, as they are now.
The way Britain is arranged, the contrasts within such short distances, the hills and the complexity of winding roads, the architectural styles, the sense of history and the ancient walls, these are complemented by the unique sense of dress which I quite like, especially in the north.
Most people here prefer beautiful places such as the stately home above and the majority of pics on blogs show the beautiful vignette or vista. However, there can be a terrible beauty in dystopic visions as well and if you want a contrast like that, you can do worse than go to the land of contrasts - Russia.
Whichever way you slice it, Russia is a harsh land and the picture below illustrates this. If you're caught out here, there are no beg pardons and you do die if you're silly enough not to be adequately rugged up, especially on the head and feet. Vodka does help cut the chill, as well as a companion but ultimately, you're on your own, with no support services.
Below is a fairly typical street scene in the back streets although the high street now has its shiny facades and boutique window shopping. If you want to get an idea of the contrast between beauty and dystopia, imagine chic women, dressed to the nines, picking there way gingerly along these tracks on their way home from work to their housing block.
In Russia, there is the raw beauty of nature, the vodka [or cognac] and the women and you can't avoid any of them. I don't particularly like vodka [preferring whisky] but if you're invited to your girlfriend's parents or grandparents, then you must have your snort of vodka when the grandfather brings out the two glasses and the bottle.
He's no alcoholic but it's the law of hospitality to splash your glass and his - it's a sign of acceptance and to refuse doesn't bear thinking about - it wouldn't compute in his brain. So I usually stuck to a three glass limit, as my mind was on the other part of the equation - my girlfriend.
Men and women live by extremes. If you are industrious, then you're a workaholic. If you're fond of the vodka, you can be an alcoholic but as so much is consumed, there's no hard and fast definition of this. Women demand their men to be men and the men expect the women to look fabulous, which they do. Everything is done hard - partying, shopping, sex, board games - it's all done at maximum velocity.