Sunday, 5 July 2020

voyage, voyage

As an evangelist of the temperance movement, on this day in 1841—capitalising upon the extension of the Midland Counties Railway, Thomas Cook (previously) organised the excursion to bring a group of anti-drink campaigners from Leicester (presently under restriction of movement) to a teetotaller demonstration in Loughborough, some eleven miles distant with Cook himself acting as steward and chaperone to some five hundred individuals willing to pay a premium to have the arrangements sorted out. Some four years later, he took parties on journeys to Liverpool and Scotland—this time not busing-in out-of-state agitators, finally cementing his reputation soon after as a tour agent with one-hundred and fifty thousand journeying to the 1851 Great Exhibition in London followed by a continental grand tour of Belgium, German and culminating in the 1855 Parisian Great Exhibition.

Friday, 22 May 2020


๐Ÿš: the ad hoc bus stop benches and chairs of suburban Tokyo has personality—via Super Punch

pop! six! squish! uh-uh: an homage to Chicago’s Cell Block Tango for confining times

crenellation: a virtual tour of some fortified cities around the world—we’ve been to a few of these places ourselves

as was the style at the time: a treasury of Old English customs and superstitions

sneezeguard: personal barriers designed to lure diners back in restaurants

signs point to no: ProPublica charts out the trajectory on America’s states’ road to recovery and a safe reopening—via Maps Mania

pilot programme: the shareware history of Photoshop’s prime competitor and driver of innovation

๐Ÿ: reminiscent of this exotic travelogue, we are enjoying these Pacific voyages—via Boing Boing

Sunday, 17 May 2020

sehenswรผrdigkeiten oder rhรถn around the world

Taking advantage of the bright weather but with an abundance of caution, H and I took a windshield tour meandering through a few nearby locations, first stopping in Helmershausen, a settlement filled with half-timbered (Fachwerk) buildings founded in the foothills of the Thรผringen highlands by our old friend Count Poppo VI and endowed with a really out-of-proportion village church.
Completed with the Baroque stylings of the mid-eighteenth century as a showcase for the minor nobility of the area, its towering steeple and ornately decorated wood panels have earned the village church the sobriquet of “Dom der Rhรถn”—the cathedral of the region.
Next along the way we saw the Bernhรคuser Kutte, a sinkhole and protected geotope, with a depth of up to fifty metres across a relatively small surface area unique for the state.
After a bit more of taking in the gorgeous green scenery at speed, we stopped to see the Kirchenberg—fortified church compound, Wehrkirche Santke Albanus, dedicated to the British protomartyr—of the town of Kaltensundheim (see above), an impressive Gothic structure in whose hall Caspar Bach, great cousin of the forefather of the musical family, Veit Bach, was married to Susanne Markert, the daughter of a prominent local tailor, and established the cadet branch of the family after they had immigrated from Hungary around 1520.

Too early?
We are very fortunate to live such a beautiful region and in proximity to such new sites and history to discover.  We want everyone to be safe and want to model the right behaviour, because we are all in this together and all of our actions count, no matter how seemingly inconsequential.   
We hope to take to heart and practise how that privilege is not to be flaunted but exercised only if and when it’s safe to do so. Cover your face, keep your distance and wash your hands and perhaps most importantly, know that these places and the whole wide world will wait for you and be yours to explore once this is over.

Saturday, 28 March 2020


expansion pack: kit and ideas for remixing new board games by combining pieces and platforms of classic games one already owns—via Kottke’s Quick Links

video phone: the teleconferencing tool that’s being forced on many of us is a privacy and security nightmare whose long-term liabilities far outweigh the benefits of seeing colleagues in pyjamas

razliv haystack: a look into how the mythos of Lenin fuelled the early Soviet tourism industry

stay sane, stay safe: a graphic design community’s rapid response to promote positivity

at home everywhere: with at least a quarter of the world’s population under at least partial lockdown, a design duo has turned national flags into houses

utica club: beer steins Schultz and Dooley (voiced by Jonathan Winters) advertise Matt Brewery’s flagship beverage

tossed dallas: Tuna Antipasto and assorted silliness—see previously

mashrabiya and mezzanine: a celebration of balconies

Wednesday, 25 March 2020


paperback writer: the cinematic portfolio of Matt Stevens in old book covers, via Things magazine

live-feed: snapshots of deserted public places around the world gleaned from web cams, via Kottke

social distance: the inspiring latest torch song from Randy Rainbow, via Miss Cellania

 ๐Ÿค : lone security guard of the National Cowboy Museum virtually engages his visitors

 ๐Ÿ˜ท: the origins of surgical masks and respirators

they laugh and love: John Carpenter announces sequels to his 1988 sci-fi thriller
major arcana: an automated tarot reader that seems to never have gotten off the drawing board

still buffering: the lagging evolution of the video teleconference

Thursday, 12 March 2020

march madness

As the World Health Organisation (WHO) declares the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic, meaning there is little to no pre-existing immunity in the human population to this novel contagion, Trump—noted soi-disant germaphobe whom was ignorant of the fact that his own grandfather was a victim of the 1918 Influenza or that the flu could be fatal in general, declares a thirty day travel ban on foreign nationals coming to the US from twenty six European countries—the Schengen Area excluding the UK and Ireland and US citizens being repatriated, with the intimation that free movement exported the disease and that passports are personal protective gear—more and more public events are cancelled, including US National Basketball Association (NBA) games and political rallies ahead of the US presidential election. Given that there are already over a thousand confirmed cases in the United States and that military movements of America’s global army have demonstrated their efficacy as a reservoirs and spreaders, Trump’s efforts at quelling the outbreak is too little, too late and is pandering to base fears and insecurity as a means to assuage them rather than fight the infection and instead contributes to its comorbidities.

Sunday, 23 February 2020


Though miniscule as compared with the tens of millions under quarantine-conditions in large swathes of China during the height of the outbreak, several municipalities in northern Italy, heavily touristed Veneto and Lombardia, some fifty thousand residents, have been ordered under lockdown as a precautionary measure following the confirmation of two deaths from COVID-19, the severe acute respiratory syndrome caused by the novel coronavirus now named 2019-nCoV. Initially expected to last five days, most businesses and schools are closed and public gatherings, including for sports events and upcoming carnival celebrations, are cancelled.

Saturday, 8 February 2020

daytrip: schneekopf

Wanting to see a bit more snow, H and I travelled back through Oberhof and beyond to the summit of the second highest (only falling short of the neighbouring Beerberg by a few dozen metres) mountain in Thรผringen, the Schneekopf, whose summit—owing to a strong wind storm in 1946 that uprooted all trees has been an open space since and presently hosts a communications and weather station and observation tower with a panoramic view and a climbing wall on its exterior that pushes the elevation just above that of its neighbours and just barely places the site into the class of a thousand metres above sea-level (Normales Null).

The peak and the range it is a part of are extinct volcanoes active in the Permian Epoch and are composed porphyry. We had a nice stroll through the forest and enjoyed watching the snow and ice whipped up by the wind glint in the noon sun.

Thursday, 6 February 2020


Spoon & Tamago refers to a retrospective of the pioneering photojournalist Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore (*1856 - †1928), avid traveler and first female board member of the National Geographic Society. Not only did she bring her readership reports and images of the Far East—both the exotic and the everyday from a century ago, the conservationist and author also brought cherry trees (see also here and here) from Japan to Washington, DC. Much more to explore at the link up top.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

express limited

Also known as headboards (on the engine) or drumboards (on the caboose), we appreciated learning about head masters, roundels mounted to advertise the name of a locomotive or special service—an excursion or commemorative journey. Peruse a whole gallery of vintage Japanese rail emblems at Present /&/ Correct at the link above.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

the poseidon-whisper or i am elmer j fudd, millionaire, i own a mansion and a yacht

Via Super Punch, we are introduced to the Danish consultant named Christian Due Hammershรธy, whose services are in high demand by the yacht-set for his talent in naming ocean-going vessels. Putting aside the problematic nature of celebrating a maiden voyage or the attributed feminine wiles of boats, this interview with the former shipbuilder whom also helps clients with obtaining said yacht before its christened is an interesting look into the lore and superstitions surrounding baptism and how names are drawn and decided upon. Us peasants only get to give our WiFi routers such punny or provocative names. Especially groan-worthy was the some five thousand yachts registered under “Carpe Diem,” sometimes translated as Seas the Day.

Sunday, 29 December 2019


Travelling on a bit north of the Rennsteig (previously here, here and here) and taking advantage of the bright but frosty weather, H and I went to a part of the vast nature reserve known as the Frauenwald and took a tour of a compound that was once maintained by the East German Army (die NVA, Nationale Volksarmee) under the authority of the Ministry for States Security (MfS, die Stassi) as an emergency command-and-control bunker for continuation of governance in case of attack during the Cold War, established well behind enemy lines.

Constructed in parallel a nearby rest-and-recuperation resort constructed for soldiers on leave, the nearly thirty-six hundred square metre complex was mostly above ground but designed to be sealed off from the outside environment and stocked with provisions to keep its compliment alive for four weeks before restocking was needed.
The installation was decommissioned and mothballed after 1989 and run as a private venture since 2004. The narrow corridors and vaults was like being on a submarine—especially mindful of the point of this exercise and keeping it self-sufficient, uncontaminated as it were, prepared for all contingencies including chemical, biological and nuclear strikes—and the period dioramas recalled us to the museum once housed in the Colossus of Prora.
The past is a foreign country.  The former situation room was especially poignant with original furnishings and woodchip on the wall and not much different than the legacies centres still in operation (contrary to how they’re portrayed in the movies) and imparts a since of relief that somewhere so delicate and relatable was not ultimately conscripted to be part of mutually assured destruction and hope that such redundancy might inform the geopolitics we are heir to.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019


Though one could always question the decision of the UK government to refuse a bailout to the world’s oldest tour company, Thomas Cook collapsing after one hundred and seventy-eight years of operation and a victim of progress plus its own mismanagement—especially when repatriation costs are already approaching half of the requested funds to keep the company solvent, Germany has chosen to intervene in the case of its domestic affiliates with the state stepping in to offer a bridge loan to keep the company—headquartered in Oberursel (previously)—whilst it restructures.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019


Previously we’ve encountered the Swedish term for flight shaming, and in an article on work-life balance and how some companies are beginning to accommodate staff willing to forego air travel for public and ground-based transportation options by offering extra annual leave to accomplish the legs of the journey we’re introduced to its corollary concept: train bragging.
Not immodesty like a humble-brag or outright boasting since negotiating the network of trains and trams takes some skill and planning and people are right to take pride in lessening their environmental impact but rather that some places are better serviced by rail and mass-transit infrastructure than others. Long-distance trips in under-serviced, remote areas are pretty untenable by means other than flying—though those passengers also have the leverage to make the airlines innovate and be better stewards of the skies.

Thursday, 5 September 2019


In addition to its own version of the Arthurian saga, the western part of Bretagne on the peninsula of Crozon, once known as Cournouallie with the same etymology as Cornwall across the Channel, has its own legendary cast of characters including Gradlon the Great (Gradlon Meur). A soldier of fortune courted by a sorcerous consort of a dying king called Malgven—who talked Gradlon into giving the old king a coup de grรขce and ruling with her.
This cautionary tale continues with Malgven dying during childbirth with the couple’s daughter Dahut, a most unnatural and ungrateful child. Having established himself as an otherwise sage and just ruler—despite his earlier act of regicide, Gradlon commissioned the building of a fantastic city built on land reclaimed from the sea (Kรชr Ys, low city), lavishly ornamented and with no expense spared, the waters held back by a system of dykes for which only Gradlon had the key to open the floodgates.
Over the years, Dahut had grown frivolous and vain and was wiled by a suitor to grant him access to Ys. Rather punch-drunk with her success of secreting away the key from her father and thinking she was throwing open the city gate, a torrent of water rushed in. The king was roused by a very historical bishop called Gwenole, who keeping vespers in the night and saw the flood waters rise and was beatified as founding bishop of the abbey of Landรฉvennec (see also and when I first saw the ruin it reminded me of this amphitheatre on the Cornish coast that we visited and upon leaving the town, saw it was in fact twinned—jumelage—with The Lizard (An Lysardh), that peninsula in southern Cornwall.

The king took to his steed and rescued Dahut while the rest of the Ys’ people drowned. Dahut (I’d quite like to hear her version of the story) fell from the horse during the escape and was transformed into a mermaid, still haunting the Bay of Douarnenez to this day and luring sailors to violent ends against the cliffs with her siren song.

Monday, 2 September 2019

l’abbaye de beauport

Hidden away in the woods outside the commune of Paimpol in the village of Kรฉrity, the former abbey founded in 1202 and invested with papal privilege from its inception represents the introduction of Celtic monastic living to Bretagne.
Fallen into neglect and disrepair already by 1790, the ruins (Abati Boporzh in Breton) were purchased by an Irish fisherman named Louis Morand living in Paimpol who began conservation work, which was eventually taken over by the French government (first as a Monument historique then under the auspices of le Conservatoire du littoral, an agency charged with protecting the character of the coast) in 1862.
Renowned French historian and archaeologist Arcisse de Caumont (*1801 – †1873) based his influential and authoritative rudiments (an Abรฉcรฉdaire) of religious architecture from studies on the abbey ruins, offering the structure as prototypical of the period, the layout of the arcade and the transept being of special interest. Noteworthy also is the chronology of styles preserved as the compound was expanded over the centuries, whilst preserving its original core ensemble. 
Although presently restored extensively as lush and picturesque gardens in 1992, one can still imagine the practical elements and daily routine of the monks’ lives with areas marked off by their former use, cells, common areas and even a rather ingenious salt-pan installation to reclaim minerals from sea water by evaporation.

cap d’erquy

The region of Bretagne and its Cรดtes-d’Armor (ar mor meaning ‘the sea’ in Breton and also recalling somewhat recursively the Roman name for the province, Armorica, Latin for ‘along the coast’) department is abundant with spectacular headlands, rocky sandstone and granite cliffs tumbling into the sea and secret sandy coves, and we had the chance to explore many of them.
One of the first we explored this time around was breath-taking for its dramatic vistas but also fort the introduction to the diverse and unique natural landscapes and proof that given time and determination that re-wilding can occur.  Click on the images to enlarge and for more detail.
The misty coastal path (in parts elevated on wooden planks) that wound through this point was once farmland but has been rehabilitated as a protected reserve and again hosts uninterrupted hectares of moorland, peatbogs and pinewoods with a thick blanket of gorse (Stechginster, les Ulex) and heather (Weide, la Callune) that gradually changes colour with the seasons.


Having just returned from a caravanning trip across the breadth of France—nearly three thousand kilometres there and back with several diversions—we appreciated, via the venerable and always interesting Things Magazine, the introduction to the aesthetic and repertoire of artist and builder Jay Nelson through his series of projects exploring the spaces, shells, huts and hulls, we inhabit whilst we’re vacationing. Much more to discover at the links above.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

mont saint michel au péril de la mer

We began our journey through Bretagne revisiting (for the third time) a spectacular site just on the Norman side of the Atlantic Coast along la Manche (Mor Breizh, the English Channel) with the abbey constructed according to feudal hierarchy (God represented by the church and monastery at the summit, administration and housing in the middle and supported by the farmers and fisherfolk below) on the tidal island of Mont Saint Michel, having acquired the monicker above for the perilous trip it offered for pilgrims that failed to time the rising and falling of the seas correctly.
Established by a pair of contemplative hermits at the beginning of the sixth century, the bishop Aubert having received successive visions from the archangel Michael to build an oratory there in the style of the first shrine dedicated to him at Gargano in the Lombardy, a mission was dispatched to the site in Italy to retrieve some relics—prompting reportedly a great wave to cleave the island from the mainland (discovered to their surprise upon returning). Just prior to the Norman Conquest of 1066, the duchy took possession of the peninsula from a weakened and compromised Brittany and the community of monks that had since established themselves there had sided with William I and supported his invasion of England, currying the order considerable favour and autonomy—including a rocky outcropping off the Cornish coast. The Reformation and the later French Revolution (see also) meant that the abbey became more and more inconsequential and even dubbed the “Bastille of the Sea” the compound was used as a prison for ecclesiastics that did not support the Republic or its values. At one point, there were over seven hundred inmates in the employ of making straw hats and an accidental fire did significant damage to the structure—were it not for the intervention and advocacy of celebrities like Victor Hugo (previously) le Mont Saint Michel might have been razed to the ground. Though only fifty permanent residents reside on the island, including a dozen monks and nuns, some three million visit annually.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

tro breizh

Though the historic tour, the pilgrimage to the shrines of the region’s seven founder saints, might be too ambitious for a few days’ vacation—a grand undertaking with a circuit covering Quimper, Vannes, Dol-de-Bretagne, Saint-Malo, Saint-Brieuc, Trรฉguier and Saint-Pol-de-Lรฉon—we’ll nonetheless have at least a few of those stops on our itinerary as we at PfRC take a much needed sabbatical in Brittany. Stay tuned for further adventures coming soon. Kenavo ha beaj vat!