If you pop through a hole in the right fence in the right suburb in the right city and walk up the hill for the right amount of time, you will reach The Quarry. It’s filled with water since it’s not actively quarried any more.
Everyone assures me the water is fine. It’s beautifully blue and clear. Maybe a little bit too blue and clear.
“It’s so blue because of all the sulphates.” “It’s a lime quarry – just have a shower when you get home.” “It’s so clear because of the sulphates – it’s the same algaecide you use in a pool – it’s fine.”
Everyone assures me that it’s fine to trespass there. Everyone does it, apparently. The company that owns the place doesn’t care, apparently.
And, to be honest, I’ve not had any problems the dozen or so times I’ve been. Not from weird water or trespassing issues. So I, too, tell people that the water is fine, and that the company doesn’t care if you trespass. I call it Diet Trespass. Trespassing Lite.
If you want to come for a swim here, let me know. I’ll meet you at the hole in the right fence. We’ll walk up the hill for the right amount of time.
I don’t own a lot of cookbooks compared to some. Some dozens, I guess. They’re tucked away, in a little Ikea cupboard and they rarely see the light of day. If I want a recipe these days, I tend to reach for my phone rather than casting my eyes over my cookbooks because it’s convenient and easy. And there are reviews. We love reviews, right? Confidence inspiring 5 star recipes only, please!
One of my neighbours, on a whim, bought me a copy of the First Nations Food Companion. It’s a really wonderful resource, full of inspiring and interesting looking recipes, and detailed information on how to source these rarer ingredients – be it by foraging, growing, or ordering online.
Tonight I had an idea, and that was to share the book with a friend. I grabbed the book off the shelf, hopped in the car, and headed over. I knew that flicking through the cookbook together would be lovely.
And it was really lovely. But something unexpected happened.
I didn’t expect all of the conversation triggers.
I’ve always said that if you want to talk to someone well, go for a walk with them. You don’t need to make eye contact, silences are natural because you’re walking and sometimes you just want to look where you’re going and focus on that, and there are things out there in the wide world that keep your mind ticking over and conversation flowing.
I need to add “or sit down with a recipe book” to my saying.
The conversation flowed and meandered effortlessly from food to childhood memories to fears, travel, loves, relationships, and more.
So, go on. Grab a cookbook, put on some music, and sit down with a friend and flick through the pages and see where you end up, what you end up learning, and what you end up sharing.
When someone says “English beach” you don’t really picture anything that great. Grey skies. Grey sand (at best). Grey water. A lot of people not really dressed for the beach at all. I’d been told that the Jurassic Coast was beautiful, and, along with my preconceived ideas I (internally) pffff’d and mostly dismissed the idea of swimming in the UK.
But then I remembered that I would need a July swim to complete my swim-every-month-in-2022 challenge. So, caution to the wind and those sorts of things, I decided to head to Durdle Door as early as possible to avoid the crowds. £5 to park for 4 hours – they sure know how to make it difficult for poor people to do things in the UK.
Anyway. I followed the path down, and down, and down, past the views of white chalk cliffs, down the rocky path, then down the worn wooden steps and onto the san….pebbles. They were oval, smooth pebbles. Apparently walking barefoot on pebbles is a good way of improving health (it’s called tap shek) – so consider my health improved!
There is a very striking arch in the water at Durdle Door Beach – the arch is the namesake for the beach. Durdle Door.
The water was clear and a beautiful blue. There was a slight swell, but nothing significant. No wind. The sun was out.
I dove in to the instantly deep water (the coarser the sand on the beach, the steeper the beach) and started swimming for the arch. The water was refreshing, especially after suffering through the 40℃ heatwave in London. A shower doesn’t have the same refreshing power as a swim in the ocean after a hot day.
I reached the arch, swimming through it on my back, looking up the whole time, watching the perspective change. It felt special. Magical. Like I’d gone through a portal to another land. Swimming back through the portal, I was worried I’d go back through to the place I’d come from, but I stayed in the magical place where I’d been through Durdle Door.
If you ever get to the Jurassic Coast, and the weather is Just So, I heartily recommend swimming through the portal to another land.
The benefits of bike riding are enormous. I rely on it pretty heavily for the health and fitness benefits, along with the mental health benefits. BetterHealth, a branch of the Victorian Government, lists the following benefits to regular cycling:
For many years, I didn’t really think that there was any benefit to cycling-specific clothing, but I am absolutely a convert. But this is where the problems start.
People who ride bikes are all skinny whippety mountain goats, right? It would certainly seem that way if you look at the clothes available for bike riders. Me, a verified “big-fella” who normally wears XL clothing, has to go and hunt through the slim pickings in the XXXL section at the bike shop to find bib-shorts that fit – and I feel lucky if I find something that fits. And there are many people bigger than me out there.
The problems for bigger bike riders don’t stop there, though. Bike frames and bike wheels are designed to a weight limit. A weight limit I’ve been close to hitting, at times – which is particularly scary when it’s a carbon frame. And again, there are many people out there who are bigger than me.
The solution here is having a positive, noisy, inspiring person to advocate for us fat cyclists. Someone who can convince the bike industry that they need to start being inclusive. Bigger clothes. Stronger frames. Stronger wheels. All bodies on bikes.
This positive, noisy, and inspiring person is Ebbe Silva, and his brand XL biking.
Ebbe has been selling jerseys on his website for quite some time, but wants to expand the range to include more sizes (S-10XL). He is also going to design larger cycling bibs, a gravel collection, and a road cycling collection. But all this design takes time, and costs money. Which is why Ebbe has launched a Kickstarter campaign. Read all about it here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/xlbiking/xl-biking, and if you’re able to, throw some money his way.
We need Ebbe’s advocacy for an inclusive cycling industry!
I saw Fernando Gros talk about it on Twitter a while ago, and I liked the concept, and I decided I should do it as often as I remembered to. I didn’t realise that it’d be this long between rememberings. But here we are, 344 days later, and it popped into my mind again.
I’m not sure if it’s a mindfulness exercise, or just an exercise in paying attention to your surroundings, but either way I think it’s an excellent idea to spend a few minutes thinking about what your senses are doing. What they’re telling you. What you’re telling them.
I had a feeling it would be fun. I had a feeling it would fit right in with my current attempts at slowing down.
So far I have printed 14 postcards. I’ve sent three cards overseas: One has gone to Anchorage, Alaska in the USA, one to a village near Nagano in Japan, and another to Malmö in Sweden. Some are for old friends. Some for new ones. None to random people. Yet. I’m looking forward to my first postcard to someone completely random. I have a few more to print, but that will have to be a job for this weekend.
Above is the response from a friend (an old one, whom I see far too infrequently). I have to say that this response is exactly what I wanted from this little project. A bit of joy in somone’s mailbox. Something different in amongst the bills…that’s not an expiation notice. I look forward to getting more snaps from people when they receive their tardigram.
If people start sending me random photographs in the mail that would be even better. Wink wink, nudge nudge.
Let me know if you want one. Somehow. Try @techoglot on Twitter or @TechnicalKO@aus.social.