Cycling in Amsterdam


This week I had the opportunity to ride a bike in Amsterdam, and I took some photos. If, like me, you’ve never cycled in the Netherlands, it is quite an experience to ride with so many people in such a bicycle-friendly place. For more on how the bicycle came to be so central in the Netherlands see this Guardian article, ‘How Amsterdam became the bicycle capital of the world‘.


An example of a cycle route, this one behind Central Station in Amsterdam. Most roads have some kind of bike lane, many entirely segregated like this one. The surfaces are smooth, and they are designed to give priority to bikes most of the time.

Read moreCycling in Amsterdam



Hello. We went on holiday and came back again. Two weeks in Cornwall, some of it camping and some of it staying in actual buildings. The picture above is Porthleven, where we stayed for the non-camping bit. It is a lovely place and how fortunate we were to go. In other news: I now have a wetsuit which I will wear to keep warm during the winter months. Also a small collection of Betty Stogs memorabilia, similar function.

Now I am back and am catching up with work, looking at blank pieces of paper etc. I have one interesting and unusual piece of work to do and one or two usual ones, and then we go to the Greenbelt Festival. There have been some minor Greenbelt developments which I may post about at some point.

Usually at this point I post one or two incredibly fascinating holiday photographs, but I think I’m going to resist this year. Oh, go on then, just the one.

Fig. 2 (below): National Museum of Watering Cans

National museum of watering cans

Holiday photograph 2

harbour cruises

In these days of increased environmental awareness we must all do our bit, and none more so than purveyors of the traditional ‘harbour cruise’. This modern-day example consists of a rowing boat powered by a helium balloon, which is estimated to reduce emissions by up to 110%. “We limit trips to one person per boat per trip per time,” said a spokesperson, “and typically you’ll expect to cover about ten metres every hour. You can stay out there as long as you like – give us a call on the mobile when you’d like to be reeled in.”

Question for study groups
Do you ever feel like you are sitting in a quite literal rowing boat powered only by a quite literal helium balloon?

Note to THE TEAM (bloggers / commenters / readers, and, to a lesser extent, spammers. DO NOT READ if your job title includes the words ‘Award’ and / or ‘Judge’.)
Can we get away with posting holiday photographs with not particularly in-depth commentary and a study question? I wouldn’t like all of our increased efforts to be derailed by a lapse into trivial content.

Holiday photograph 1

Every year I am in the habit of sharing a couple of holiday photographs for the general interest of readers. This year we had the good fortune to go to Ireland, so here are some of my favourite pictures, complete with historical notes.

old head of kinsale golf course

The golf course at the Old Head of Kinsale
Notes: There has been been a golf course here since the late eighth century. The gatehouse was built in the mid tenth century to guard against Viking invaders who used to sneak on to the course late at night for a quick 18 holes. The fortifications were finally breached by the Spanish Armada in 1588, who were fed up at having to pay 250 Euros for a round.

Holiday photograph 3: Deck chair hire in Torbay

deck chairs

You can always tell a rubbish photographer by the fact that the shadow of their head appears in the lower half of the photograph.

This inspirational picture shows an innovative moneymaking initiative by Torbay Council, who have realised that you can hire out uncanvased deckchairs for 90p per half day. Many tourists are content to bring their own canvas, saving themselves some money and meaning that everyone gets to have a deckchair fabric pattern they are comfortable with.

Tourists who do not bore easily are allowed to sit in the same deckchair for up to a week. The charge for this is £4.90. Wisely the council have kept this weekly charge below the ever-important £5 barrier. No-one in their right mind pays over £5 to sit in the same old deckchair for seven consecutive days.

A drain is provided next to each deckchair for safe disposal of teapot dregs. The hexagonal paving is of no particular relevance.

Holiday photograph 2: Bathing in Brixham Harbour

bathing in brixham harbour

Readers tuning in hoping for a picture of me bathing in Brixham Harbour will, I’m afraid, be sadly disappointed.

I think all right minded people would agree that bathing in Brixham Harbour should be severely frowned upon. But it is the illegality of the ‘attempted bathing’ that presents one of the great moral issues of our time. One imagines that such bathing attempts might fail for various reasons – ill fitting bathing costume, inability to find a suitable locker for valuables, the presence of green slime that only became apparent upon scaling the harbour wall, etc.

My travelling companion was vehement that such attempts should be outlawed in the same way that waving a gun around in a bank is not really the done thing. But I am of the school of thought that says that failed bathing attempts should be allowed for the amusement of the general public, as long as they do not pass that thin line between ‘attempted bathing’ and ‘bathing’.

What do you think? I have added a poll (left) in order to test the mind of the international community on this matter.

Holiday photograph 1: Early shot of Lloyds TSB, Brockenhurst

horses at bank

I have returned from 11 days of being away from the computer and internet and other modern trappings. As has become my custom I will share one or two holiday photographs of interest on this blog whilst my morale is still good.

This is an early photograph of the Lloyds TSB bank in Brockenhurst in the New Forest. You can tell that it is from the olden days by the sepia effect. Actually I inadvertently activated the sepia function owing to technological incompetence, but the effect is pleasing.

The picture shows some of the New Forest ponies. They are allowed to roam free in large parts of the forest including the villages and such financial institutions as exist. They form a queue outside the bank at around 20 past 6 in the hope that when they awake a cashier will finally be available.

In 1996/7 I did a placement at the church in Brockenhurst whilst a student at the Moorlands College. I was, if I remember correctly, a particularly ineffective placement student and added very little of significance to the work of the church. Fortunately I don’t think I hindered it that much either. That said, I look back on my time there, both at Moorlands and in Brockenhurst with some fondness.