Live deliberately 
Greetings from the Centre for Alternative Technology...
I’m at C.A.T. This is basecamp for tonight. It’s great to be back in Wales.
And what a lovely place it is. I was looking in the area for accommodation as my lad has spent a week in the eco cabins here. Off grid. Device free and powered by sun, wind and water. After failing elsewhere, I thought to call here. Glad I did. They have accommodation for the courses they run and I bagged B&B for £60. I have beer, snacks and the mountains.
Earlier this week I went to Margate. First time.
It was a little rough around the edges. I was quite surprised. And I didn’t expect to have to walk through a street fight on the way back to the car. But what with Margate shell grotto (fascinating) and a great chat with artist David Mullett in his studio, it was a fantastic day out. Loads to see, great weather, decent food and being on the coast is always good for the soul. Just be sure to walk a little faster if you step between two sunburnt drunken lads asking each other “you want some‽”
I was also gifted a bike this week.
My brother in law will be working away for a few years and told me I could have his road bike.
On my first ride on familiar roads I was easily clocking up some personal bests. I’ve underestimated how much faster double the gears and half the tyre width can be.
But speed isn’t everything. For me cycling is not about how fast you can get from A to B. It’s about moving through spaces and filling in the gaps.
At times I missed my Sonder. Hopping a curb is a no-no on a road bike, and something as simple as a drain can be spine jarring. For what some call a ‘freedom machine’ I was surprised to feel a less free. I’d follow the smooth like a train follows rails. If I spotted something interesting I couldn’t easily peel off across dirt to check it out. It was safer to flash a momentary glance and power on.
The road bike is certainly fun to have a sprint on and pick up those virtual medals. I can also see how the temptation to up the speed a little more could also accelerate me along the road to fitness. But come a collapse in society and I've a feeling my Sonder Camino will be the bike to jump on and head for the hills.
My motorbike brought me to the hills outside my window today. I’ve been coast to coast this week. England, to the ever beautiful Wales.
Not sure i’ll ever tire of looking at this…
I watched Bullet Train at the cinema. I managed to get into my seat without seeing so much as a movie poster. I think it was better for it. My spoiler free review on Letterboxd was…
“Needed more Thomas. That was the only product placement I could get behind.
I'm glad it didn't take itself seriously. It succeeded in being nothing more complicated than entertaining.
Brad replaced Ryan but didn't, and this fast paced Deadpool-on-a-train makes fun of this and itself while laughing at it's own jokes.
I laughed at some as well. It was fun despite the in plot ads.
Next time I watch this I'll swig a decent ale every time I see that virus-like lager pop into frame.”
When we owned a canal boat [pauses for a fond reminisce] the occasional scraping sound could be heard above the engine and I’d wonder what might be hiding beneath the hull. If passing through a city, shopping trollies and bike handle bars could sometimes be seen just below the water. In Birmingham we were delayed behind a drained stretch of canal and marvelled at all the weird things sticking out of the goo. My favourite story-generating object was an open safe half filled with mud.
On one slow trundle through central London I spotted a magnet-fisher mid dredge. When I shouted over “What kind of things do you find?” he nodded to a fancy Brompton leaning up against the bench behind him “ I pulled that out last week” he yelled.
I could never understand why so many bicycles could be discarded in the waterways but now after reading this long read I have a much better idea.
Rebecca Lowe went on a one year bike ride. Listen to the podcast here.
Earlier in the week while stopping off in Welshpool I spotted the 'best chip shop in Wales'. At least that’s what it said on the wall.
Truth be told Andrew’s Fish Bar served up some really good fish, chips and mushy peas. But I was surprised to see the ‘best chip shop in Wales’ serving them in polystyrene.
By 2050 it is thought there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans and many US states and some countries are banning single use non recyclable plastic. I wonder if the packaging used by chip shops is considered in the voting of these ‘Best Chip Shop’ competitions? If not, I’d love to know why.
Read this to learn about how big a problem polystyrene pollution is to sea life.
Maybe most people don’t give a shit. Personally I don’t think any chip shop serving food in single use plastic should be considered for any award. I used this form to write to the National Fish and Chip Shop Awards and asked them to stipulate that chip shops serving single use plastics will not be considered. Imagine the impact they could have if they did this. No response yet.
There may be plenty of fish left in the sea, but it won’t be long before there is more plastic than fish.
Great news if you like Jarlsberg. Apparently eating a small portion (around 57g) of Jarlsberg can help stop bones getting weaker without boosting cholesterol.
We still don’t really know how or why antidepressants work. Apparently it’s nothing to do with a chemical imbalance in the brain.
Speaking of heading to the hills… Although there is little in the way of anything hilly back home, I am certainly ready to load up and find some.
I took delivery of some panniers from Alpkit. 30 litres seems huge now I have fitted them, but I guess that’s just more room for bread wine and cheese. Oh and a bivy.
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The worst bit about NFTs.
If you are looking at using a bike instead of a car then Cycling Weekly has made a list of some pretty interesting cargo bikes. (If you can see them through the pop-ups.) And these 3-wheeled EVs look interesting if you need to do a few more miles and there are no cycle paths. Link via @craigmcginty. Finally this is what a top of the range cargo bike looks like/costs. Want one.
I’m still waiting for access to DALL-E but I like Jacob Martin’s approach.
Thanks for reading. I can pop that beer now. And I’m heading out for a walk to the top of a wooded hill to watch the sunset. If you’ve been casual but regular reader of these emails thank you and apologies if I go dark for a while. To the supporters i’ll be back next week with another dispatch and if I’m brave enough. Some news.
“I've got the key to my castle in the air, but whether I can unlock the door remains to be seen.” ~ Louisa May Alcott,
See you out there.