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millionreasons July 22 2014, 10:51

Tour De France Teams

Garmin Sharp: Baddy in James Bond film. Distinguishing features: sharp fingernails that kill anyone JB has sex with.

Giant, Shimano: The new Disney/Studio Ghibli collaboration about a friendly over-sized man whose best friend is a cute pup called Shimano.

Tinkoff-Saxo: Minor European royalty, Loosely related to the Habsburgs, but currently stateless since the break-up of the Ottomon empire.

Lampre-Merida: Jaden Lampre-Merida is the new right back for West Ham.

Omega Pharma-Quick-Step: Designer drug, popular in Dalston. Makes you dance like a loon on the hour, every hour.

millionreasons July 22 2014, 10:27


Saturday, we went to the mysterious East, aka Walthamstow. We visited several nice pubs, a brewery on an industrial estate (Dom commented that when he'd visited the similar London Fields brewery, some black people passing said: "White people'll drink anywhere! They look so happy!"), through the Village with its cute cottage and half-timbered houses, and finally The Chequers, which I last drank in on 6th August 1995, the day when the pubs were allowed to open all day on Sunday. Then it was an old geezer boozer, now it's a hipster hangout. Walthamstow is basically Dalston and Stoke Newington but with half the people. We also visited this wonderland:

Sunday, we ventured to the garden of England, cycling from Sandgate to take the dinky Dymchurch, Hythe and Romney railway to Romney Sands, passing pheasants, corn, wheat, pigs, sheep and rabbits racing the train on the misty Kentish marshes. It's great that railway enthusiasts keep this line alive, but I couldn't help feeling that it shouldn't be left to the public to provide public transport.

We took the winding shingle path of buddleia and blackberry brambles onto the nature reserve. We were there to have a traditional summer's day out to look at pre-war spy equipment, the sound mirrors of the marshes. I was very surprised to find out that these monoliths were built between 1928 and 1930 - somebody was already predicting a Super War. People caressed these modern neolithic structures, stood at the 200 foot wall that did indeed reflect sound; Dave's voice bounced off of the top of it, making me suspicious that there was a hidden mic within the wall. The largest one looked like a spaceship crashed onto the marsh. If civilisation ended, future generations would think that these were our sacred objects of worship.

We walked back and stood in the rain waiting for the mini-train to take us back again. This time, it's a steam engine.

Steam trains are exactly like you think they will be, with their ch-ch-chuff, poot poot, the romance (and sulphur stink) of the smoke, the sooty-faced man with the red kerchief and peaked cap stoking the engine, another man with a fancy lens and rainware taking photos. I've come to the conclusion that you're not truly British unless you carry a kagool with you at all times.

We biked it back to Folkestone, one of the few south coast promenades you can cycle along (at Frinton, they took a very dim view). I'm not so much King of the Mountains as Queen of the Flat Surface. The outskirts of Folkestone house lovely clapboard, Victorian, modernist, art-deco buildings, and the town itself has a nice olde section of tea-rooms and restaurants, none of which were open. We took the water-lift to the top of the town; disappointingly, it's not called Folkestone's Funnest Funicular, but the Leas Lift.

Back on the main train, HS1 made me feel like I live in Germany (apart from the time it broke down and I sat outside Ashford for an hour - then it was like Italy). It seems to make everyone happy, the staff member at Stratford International was the cheeriest, most helpful guy I've ever encountered at a train station. He even called me 'madam' (and Dave 'buddy').

millionreasons July 19 2014, 10:57

Summer In The City

I wake at 5, thinking that there's been an explosion as the thunder cracks and roars.

Last day of school. The tension thickens with the storm clouds before the children burst out of school into freedom. I stop in the doorways of large cold stores, pretending to window shop to get the false breeze of aircon, like the way the Spar's wares become very interesting in a rainstorm.

But at night, it's a different world:

2014-07-12 22.47.57

2014-07-18 22.23.36
arafel1 July 17 2014, 15:56

Branching Out

Photograph by Franck Boutonnet

A lone tree on the edge of the city seems to stand as a testament to Dubai’s changing landscape. The burgeoning cosmopolitan metropolis is home to some 2.1 million people.

arafel1 July 14 2014, 14:39

Crimson Clouds

Photograph by Terence West, National Geographic Your Shot

Red storm clouds hang heavy over Spring Creek, Queensland, Australia. Photographer Terence West had been chasing the storm across the Southern Downs when he captured this image of the back of the storm just as the sun was going down. “It made me feel that nature was at peace after the anger of the storm,” he wrote.

arafel1 July 11 2014, 16:04

Crane Games

Photograph by Mitsuhiko Kamada

Endangered red-crowned cranes wade through frosty waters on a cold morning in Tsurui, Hokkaido, Japan. Here, they're considered one of Japan's hundred soundscapes—a nationwide effort meant to combat noise pollution, promote the environment, and create symbols for local people of everyday life in Japan.

arafel1 July 6 2014, 10:43

Leaps and Bounds

Photograph by Mark Bridger, National Geographic Your Shot

A young female otter runs toward photographer Mark Bridger at a wildlife center in Lingfield, Surrey, in England. “I’ve always wanted to try and get a shot of an otter running straight at me with all four feet off the ground,” writes Bridger. “They were like really little dogs the way they chased each other around, so I lay on the ground with a 300mm lens on my camera and tried to capture one running straight at me.”

arafel1 July 5 2014, 19:47

Hand Cut Paper Microbes and Pathogens

by Christopher Jobson

Artist Rogan Brown (previously) just completed work on his latest paper artwork titled Outbreak, a piece he describes as an exploration “of the microbiological sublime.” Over four months in the making, the work depicts an array of interconnected sculptures—entirely hand cut from paper—based on the smallest structures found within the human body: cells, microbes, pathogens, and neurons. Outbreak represents nearly four months of tedious planning, cutting and assembly. He shares about his process:

I am inspired in part by the tradition of scientific drawing and model making, and particularly the work of artist-scientists such as Ernst Haeckel. But although my approach involves careful observation and detailed “scientific” preparatory drawings, these are always superseded by the work of the imagination; everything has to be refracted through the prism of the imagination, estranged and in some way transformed.

You can see more details over in his portfolio.

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