THE BRITISH LIBRARY

In through the outfield blog

7 posts categorized "Travel"

17 May 2012

Mad Jack Fuller of Brightling and his Follies

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Jack_Fuller_pyramidOn a recent walk in the Sussex country-side I was rather surprised to come across a 25 foot high pyramid in the corner of a traditional village church graveyard.

Wandering around the area near the village revealed a range of further follies ranging from a fake castle tower to a false church spire.

Jack_FullerIt turns out they were all the creation of John Fuller the squire of Brightling village, better known as ‘Mad Jack Fuller‘.

Fuller’s pyramid mausoleum was built in 1811, twenty-three years before his death, and local legend had it that Fuller was entombed in the pyramid in full dress and top hat seated at a table set with a roast chicken and a bottle of wine. This was discovered to be untrue during renovations in 1982. My theory is that Fuller might have read about the mythological preservative powers of pyramids.

Mad Jack inherited the family fortune in 1777, at the tender age of 20. Their wealth had been built on the manufacture of iron goods, such as cannons, as well as a substantial income from sugar plantations in Jamaica.

The family was heavily involved in politics, both nationally and locally, and  John served several terms as Member of Parliament during his life.

He seems to have fostered an image of eccentricity, and never married, but enjoyed supporting good causes, including funding the first lifeboat at Eastbourne, and helping the building of the Belle Tout Lighthouse on the cliffs near Beachy Head.

Fullers Follies:

Brightling Needle, an obelisk over 65 feet (20m) high was built on the second highest point in East Sussex and was erected around 1810

The Sugar Loaf, which is sometimes known as Fuller’s Point, is in a meadow and stands 35 feet (10.7m. The name comes from the conical shaped loaf that sugar was sold in at that time. It was apparently built to win a bet that Mad Jack made whilst in London. He claimed he could see Dallington Church (a nearby village) from his house in Brightling. When he returned he discovered that he couldn’t as a hill blocked his view, so the Sugar Loaf was hastily erected to win the bet.

The Tower or Watch Tower built by Fuller in the middle of a field, stands 35 feet (10.6m) high and 12 feet (3.7m) in diameter.

The Temple or Rotunda was built in the grounds of Brightling Park perhaps to add a classical element to the gardens.

The Observatory, now a private residence was completed in 1810. It was equipped with all the equipment of the time including a Camera Obscura.

More information and photos of Fullers Follies.

21 July 2011

Pole-pole to the roof of Africa

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Kilimnanjaro 2011 - Uhuru PeakHaving tried all kinds of different training methods in preparation for my Kilimanjaro Climb, (Will falling forward get me to the top of Kilimanjaro?), the one technique I had not thought about, turned out to be the most important.

To get to the top of the highest free-standing mountain in the world you need to go really slowly, or ‘pole-pole’, to use the Swahili term.

Making forward progress at 19,341 feet or 5,895 metres above sea level, where the oxygen levels are fifty percent less than normal, requires minimum physical effort.

Our very conscientious mountain guide was always keeping an eye on our speed, our ability to cope with the conditions, and for onset of the feared acute mountain sickness or AMS.

Walking the fifty mile climb, at times as slowly as one mile an hour, gave plenty of thinking time. And my thoughts turned to the Aesop’s Fable of the Hare and the Tortoise. In the case of climbing Kilimanjaro, it is not that the tortoise arrives first, it more about arriving at all. According to one company, the success rate for those on the quick three days up climb is less than fifty percent.

In fact our five days of training to plod slowly up the mountain were so successful that one of our our party made it to the summit on automatic pilot, despite suffering from altitude hallucinations. She had to be shown a photo to prove she had actually been there, in body, if not in mind.

Knowing that generous supporters had already donated to my JustGiving page gave me the extra motivation to keep going when I felt like giving up. The page is going be up for a few more weeks if you want to make a contribution.

My reward for getting to the top was a nine day safari in northern Tanzania where I saw some wonderful sights.

Tanzania_2011_leapard

Tanzania_2011_lion

Tanzania_2011_hippo

Tanzania_2011_sunset

More photos on Flick.com and videos on YouTube.com.

22 June 2011

Will falling forward get me to the top of Kilimanjaro?

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KilimanjaroWith just a few days to go before my big trip (hopefully) to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, I have been told about a revolutionary new way of walking.

Apparently all I have to do is ‘fall forward’. and I will be at the top without even realising it. This ‘new’ technique is called Chi Walking (with a Chi Running offshoot).

What I find interesting about this idea, is how even the most basic of human activities can be re-invented and turned into  a commercial product or service.

As one of the videos explains, when we are children we run by leaning forward, but by the time we are adults we have unlearned the natural way to move.

loiclemeur.com-how-do-you-like-my-new-five-fingers-shoesSo you can now buy a range of books, ‘five-finger’ shoes, or join classes to re-learn from the experts how to walk or run properly.

I am aware than many runners do get injuries from their activities, especially road running, but my scepticism is still high on whether this whole thing is some kind of Snake oil charm. Try watching this video of Master Stephen Hwa’s Tai Chi Walk Lesson, and see what you think.

However, I am prepared to try pretty much anything reasonable that might aid my path to top of the highest mountain in Africa, so will try it for a while.

Although my climb was not planned to raise money for charity (more to prove I’m not quite over the hill yet), quite a few people have asked if they can sponsor me. justgiving_logo_detailSo I have created a JustGiving page with a choice of charities to donate to if you would like to contribute.

What is Chi?
http://www.chiwalking.com/what-is-chiwalking/what-is-chi/

Master George Xu, our T’ai Chi teacher, asks us to focus on our dantien, our center and to allow all movement to  come from that place. The energy moves from the center into the body and into the  limbs to create movement. Why? Because Chi is stronger than muscles, and movement that comes from Chi is more deeply powerful.

More powerful than muscles? In the West, muscles are almost akin to a god the way we worship them and what they represent. Covers of magazines and TV commercials extol rock hard abs and buns of steel. What is stronger than rock and steel?

In T’ai Chi we quickly learn that muscles are no match for the power of Chi. Like the flow of water that created the Grand Canyon the power of Chi takes you much further and faster than vulnerable muscles whose duration is very short lived.

Your dantien is the best home for your Chi and the best place for you to focus your energy so that you can come from a balanced, whole place in yourself. Your dantien is just below your navel and a few inches in toward your spine. In Chi Running, Chi Walking and Chi Living we encourage all movement, all action, all choices to come from this center, that deep place in yourself that is home to your greatest potential and power.

08 April 2011

The re-branding of Beachy Head

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Logo_beachy_head The biggest surprise on my recent four day perambulation along the final section of the South Downs Way, in England’s newest National Park, came on the final day of walking.

Although the established local beer for the area is Harveys, famous for its Tom Paine Ale, and still brewed beside the river Ouse in the heart of Lewes, there is now a new rival.

It comes in the form of Beachy Head Ale, produced in a micro-brewery based in the pretty village of East Dene.

We enjoyed a delightful lunch in their brewerytap pub, the Tiger Inn, sitting in the sun on the village green looking across to Sherlock Holmes’ retirement home.

The surprise came when reading their promotional brochure and discovering the re-branding of Beachy Head. As a relatively local inhabitant, I am well aware of the stunning beauty of Seven Sisters and Beachy Head, but also cognisant of its more well known feature. For most UK residents Beachy Head it is quite literally a jumping off point for those who want to end it all.

This, less attractive aspect has featured in many films, documentaries and news items. Beachy Head suicide spot.

Now, working as I do on the Euston Road opposite Kings Cross Station, I am all too aware of the stigma that can cling to an area, even if that reputation is no longer deserved.

So I was fascinated to see how the Davies-Gilbert family, who have farmed the Beachy Head area for 200 years are attempting to re-invent and re-brand Beach Head. As you can see at Beachy Head.org.uk, it is a beautiful part of the country, with lots to see and do.

While there, I began to notice the clean and modern Beachy Head logo almost everywhere I looked. And it will be interesting to see if the media starts to pick up on this more positive story about the area. However, given their predilection for the gory and ghastly, I have my doubts.

As a geographer, I was somewhat perplexed by the brochure map of the area. I would expect it to concentrate on visitor highlights, but, the designers have decided to omit the large village of Friston. Perhaps because it is adjacent to, and somewhat overwhelms the village of East Dene which appears to be the heart of Beach Head.

Have a look a the maps of area below and see what you think.

Beachy Head Map 3Beach Head Map 1

02 February 2011

To the moon and back on a bike made for Londoners

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Boris-BikeHaving tried My first ride on a ‘Boris Bike’ last October, I am now a confirmed fan of the Barclays Cycle Hire service from Transport for London, and have purchased an annual subscription.

According to yesterday’s Evening Standard, cyclists using the Mayor’s “Boris bikes” have travelled the equivalent of 13 times to the moon and back in the scheme’s first six months.

Apparently more than 2.5 million trips had been undertaken on the hire bikes since they were introduced on 30 July last year. Transport for London has calculated that cyclists would have ridden 6.2 million miles on the bikes – assuming they travelled at an average speed of 10mph. On the busiest day, the 4,800 bikes were used a total of 27,500 times.

It is good to hear that the scheme will be expanding to reach 6,000 bikes and 400 docking stations by the Spring of 2011.

However, it is still some way behind the Vélib scheme in Paris introduced in 2007,  which has grown to 17,000 bicycles and docking 1,202 stations.

20 July 2010

Londoners pedaling into a greener future

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Thanks to yet another failed journey into work, courtesy of my First Capital Connect Thameslink ‘service’, I ended up walking from Holborn to The British Library this morning (Severe delays on First Capital Connect’s Thameslink route).

This the first time I have walked this route (along the delightful Lamb’s Conduit Street) for a year or so. Immediately I was struck by the number of bicycles parked along the pavement attached to a variety of secure street furniture, including of course Anthony Lau’s Cyclehoops. Even more impressive was the number and variety of bikes on the road. As well as the range of cyclists. I saw young men on speedy racing bikes and retired folk on the amazing Brompton folding bikes.

And all this before the rather delayed‎ introduction of the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme for London. I wonder if Londoners will take to the idea with the same enthusiasm as the Parisians who love their Vélib’ scheme.

31 December 2008

Balsamiq Mockups - the quick and easy way to design a website

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MyTunez_tn Many of the clients I see understand the power and importance of marketing their product or service through the world wide web. However, very few of them have the knowledge, technical skills and creative flair to be able to produce a professional website. In quite a few cases they have been worried about how to explain to a professional website designer what they are trying to achieve.

Thanks to an interview on Leo Laport’s net@night podcast I have discovered a possible solution. It is called Balsamiq Mockups and comes from a ‘one man band’ company Balsamiq Studios, founded by an ex-Google employee Giacomo “Peldi” Guilizzoni. Despite have returned home to Italy to start his business he has managed to sell $100,000 of his $79 software in five months.

As Giacomo says:
“Using Balsamiq Mockups feels like you are drawing, but it’s digital, so you can tweak and rearrange controls easily, and the end result is much cleaner. Teams can come up with a design and iterate over it in real-time in the course of a meeting. With more than 60 pre-built controls to choose from, you can design anything from a super-simple dialog box to a full-fledged application, from a simple website to a Rich Internet Application.”

He has created an excellent two minute demonstration video showing what the software can do.

bahoomaps1