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.
It’s no secret that I like technology, and I do, if I’m going to be absolutely honest with myself (and what better a place for that than in a place where about 56.1% of the world’s population can read it), think that I’m quite good at it. Quite good at software, and also quite good at hardware. Last week I repaired a motherboard on a motion controller, and it booted right up after many hours with a soldering iron and replacing components.
But I’m also tired. Maybe verging on exhausted.
Tired of “instant”. I’m tired of the process of taking a photograph is see, snap, review (probably redo these three steps a few times), then post, hashtag. After that it’s largely forgotten, with the exception of collecting notifications from bots.
This ties in with me dumping my Fitbit. Dumping Facebook. Dumping Instagram.
So, what is my plan?
My plan is to go analogue for photographs. Not exclusively, but significantly more than I have in the last…20 years.
I bought my first digital SLR in 200…and…5…I think. Since then I’ve been chasing crisper, less noise, and faster. Better lenses. Better/bigger sensors. The last camera I bought was a Canon 5D, and I have used that camera extensively. But the trap of reviewing, even on the back of that crappy LCD on the back, gets me nearly every time. I don’t sit back and trust that I have done the right thing, trusted my gut and taken a passable photograph.
So, now – to the plan. The plan is to not only start shooting film again, but I’m going to develop my own film, too. At this stage I’ll develop to film and probably scan the shots I want to do something with, but there’s nothing (except space in the laundry) that will prevent me from getting an enlarger, paper,some trays, some more chemicals, and printing my own.
I asked my old photography teacher from high school if he had any developing tanks left, and not only did he have a Patterson tank, he also had a Minolta XG-1 with lenses and a flash that he wasn’t using any more. So I now own that, and I’m very pleased.
I’ve bought some film, and have taken a few pictures. But I don’t know if they’re any good until I develop them, and today I organised the equipment I need for that, beyond the tank. I ordered the developer, stop bath, and fixer from B&H in New York (for about $40 less than it would cost to buy locally – including shipping from the US). I ordered a couple of volumetric flasks for mixing chemicals, and some storage bottles. And a portable darkroom bag for loading the film onto the spools and into the Patterson tanks.
This is a follow on from my recent post about what I’m planning and hoping to achieve in 2019, in broad categories of Fitness, Weight and Food, and Creativity.
I forgot one category, and it’s an important one: Acts of Kindness.
The easiest thing for me (it ranks very highly on the Should-I-Do-It scale – 75 if I do a special trip, 100 if I do it while I’m in town anyway) is to donate plasma. I feel great after. I feel great for having done something for someone else. And it’s easy.
It does take a bit longer than a standard blood donation around 90 minutes from walking in the door to walking back out, but it doesn’t leave you feeling depleted because you get all (or most) of your red blood cells back. Plasma donations are fascinating, too, because you’re hooked up to a machine that centrifuges out a bunch of yellow liquid from your body and returns a deep crimson stream of blood.
If you have any questions about it, please ask below in the comments section. If you want to a donation-buddy for your first go, get in touch.
I’ll try a few other acts of kindness this year, too, but will let them come and go as they please rather than forcing them.