Sunday, May 29, 2011

In Hope...

I like the irony of this image.

I shared a shed with Sam on Oahu one winter a few years ago and I shot this candid one over his shoulder whilst he was flicking through a copy of Monster Children magazine that I'd been carrying around in my bag for months since leaving Australia. The article's entitled "Ten Things I Hate", which contrasts kind of nicely with the ink on his wrist which reads "In Hope".

Glass half full or half empty? You've gotta look at things one way or the other, I liked the way Sam kept a reminder of which way to view things in plain sight all times.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Lucky Grommets

Just look at this. It really is no wonder that Western Australia churns out so many sickeningly talented surfers is it?

Check the kids walking back up the track here with their sponges tucked under their arms and put yourself in their shoes (hypothetically though - they're barefoot): A Sunday afternoon at a world class wave with just some mates from school and a few other local surfers who probably know their Dads and will call them into waves. And that's not unusual. When I lived around here it wasn't uncommon to get up for the dawny and the only other people in the sea would be the town doctor, the pharmacist, the local elementary school teacher and the wildlife warden.
It's probably not bad odds to bet that at least one of these kids or their class-mates will end up making a career out of going surfing, and a couple more will get some sort of coverage in the surf media at some point as an "underground" charger. It's just the way it works around here where the ratio of great waves to surfers is so stacked in the surfer's favour; you could pick the most distinctly average grommet in the class and yet if you transplanted them to any other spot on the planet they'd be a standout.

Lucky grommets.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ten Tips To Take With You

1) Take the airline blanket. It's free like the food right? Warmth, a spare towel, picnic blanket, bunk-bed privacy and surfboard padding are just a few of their many uses.

2) The travel uniform. After a lot of trial and error, I've boiled it down to a combo of a black t-shirt and camo shorts or dark jeans. This get-up'll hide several days worth of travel grime, sweat and spills. The only time this has failed was when I hitched a ride in the back of a builder's truck full of cement dust at midday in Central America, when nothing could've disguised the road on me. Just don't wear white, tie-dye or some 'safari' costume.

3) Take half as much stuff, and a bit more money (twice as much would make a neat sounding phrase, but who's got that much coin?). Whatever it is, you can probably buy it there, and it'll probably be cheaper.

Which leads on to...

4) Go Loco. You don't take food with you right, so why take toiletries when you can buy toothpaste and soap when you arrive. Immerse yourself that little bit more and enhance your experience, and you probably won't get sick either.

5) Flag towel. If you've got to bed down in a hostel, backpackers or any other sort of communal accommodation then get yourself a flag towel. As long as you're at least partially proud of where you're from and it won't get you lynched then this'll avoid you losing your towel from some washing line. They're bulky and heavy so there'll always be a few people who'd rather half-inch one than carry their own, and they're much less likely to take a distinctive towel that's the flag of a country or region that they're not from because it's kind of a give away.
Smart hey.

6) Go Overland. Either when you get there, or even just to get there in the first place. Catch a bus, hop a train, climb aboard the local supply boat or rent a moped. Just don't get in an air-conditioned minibus whatever you do.

7) Say "YES" to everything. Within reason, and using your good judgement of course. Try it: Good things'll happen, opportunities will present themselves and you'll have a much better time.

8) Make memories. Keep a journal, carry a camera or collect your tickets to scrapbook. If your memory is even twice as good as mine then I'll bet that in ten years time you'll have forgotten at least half of the names, faces, places and events that you never thought you would.

9) Take a pen on the plane. You're bound to get handed an immigration or customs form to fill in and there's nothing more annoying than having to ask to borrow one or not getting your mitts on one at all until you're at the desk.

10) Do it all with a SMILE. It's a universal language and makes the world a better place.

But most of all make the most of it, breathe it all in and just get amongst it.
The World's a beautiful place so go see it.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

On Yer Bike

Styling old bike and basket, Tokyo.

Every bike-riding kid in the world knows about backies. Just keep your ankles clear of the gears... Sri Lanka.

Bikes are brilliant. Did you know that they're the most efficient form of self-powered human transport? Something like 99 percent of the energy that you put into the pedals gets transferred to the wheels. That's pretty amazing.

Millions of people on this planet use bicycles as their primary form of transport, and I think that this is something that often passes those of us who live in "developed" countries by. The beach and the local shop are at the end of my lane, and I have to drive for an hour to get to work. I can walk to the beach and the shops, and there's no way I could pedal my pushie to work everyday. I wish I could. But here's the thing, if you regularly take on a journey that's more than a ten minute walk and less than a 15 minute drive, why not get on your bike? After all, it's good for you and the planet. Win/win.

My friend Will is one half of Brother Cycles; he and his brother (funny that) make exquisite track and fixed gear cycles up in the 'don, the sort that if you own one, you also need to own a damn good bike lock. Where I live is waaay too hilly for a single speed bike though; I've had them before (beach cruisers though) and they can be hard work with a surfboard under one arm.

The video below features a guy called James Bowthorpe. James is an ambassador for Finisterre (an award-winning ethical outdoor apparel company run by some friends of mine) who pedalled his way around the world a while back and wasn't put off enough to stop him him from entering the Race Across America. The guy's calves must be enormous. It's a beautifully shot video.

30 Century Man from Antony Crook on Vimeo.

I'm planning on taking a bit of inspiration from all this though, my bike needs the cobwebs blowing off it, a bit of an oil and a go out in the sunshine. Why don't you do yourself a favour and do the same?

The North Shore bike path runs the entire Eastern length of the North Shore of Oahu's 7-mile-miracle, from Waimea to Velzyland. It's just about the quickest and most efficient way of checking the surf. Backdoor and my bike.

These guys have the right idea.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Before the Bomb

It seems that my habit of visiting some place within a month (either side) of some news-worthy event or disaster continues.

On Thursday lunchtime an explosion destroyed the Argana Cafe (in the top left of the first image) in Djemaa el-Fna, the main square in Marrakech, Morocco and took the lives of fifteen people.
It took me a solid day to get hold of any details however because of some ridiculous event in the UK clogging up all the news channels, but it was strange getting my photos back from the lab yesterday and comparing them to the ones in the newspapers. I took these photos just about two weeks ago when our train terminated in the red city and we spent a couple of days checking out the souks in the Medina before moving on to the mountains then the Ocean. It's an amazing place, designated a UNESCO world heritage site and just an incredible place to set up a camera and watch the world happen, particularly at sundown. Around this time the centre of the square is transformed into a giant outdoor food-court with stalls and a lot of steam and smoke, surrounded by carts selling orange juice and mint tea, musicians, snake charmers, story tellers and men with tame monkeys all of whom are vying for the attention of all the visitors (many of whom are local Moroccans as well as a solid number of European tourists), not to mention the soundtrack of the muezzins from all the nearby mosques.
Morocco has escaped much of the recent change sweeping across North Africa and the Middle East thanks to it's comparatively liberal monarchy and government and their recent reforms, so it is unclear why the attack took place, should it be confirmed as such. Makes me shudder to think about it though, as there's never anything less than a thronging mass of humanity moving through and around Djemaa el-Fna.

Hopefully though recent events won't change the place and life there can carry on, it's too interesting and fascinating a place to allow a bomb to alter such a culturally rich tapestry.

The food stalls in the centre of the square, all air-conditioned and some, I was assured, with 5 michelin stars. They're smokey, insanely busy and a lot cheaper and more interesting than the fancy tourist restaurants surrounding the square.

Carrying a tripod can be a massive pain, until you arrive somewhere like this at night and it becomes clear why you bothered.

A stall selling traditional Moroccan lanterns inside one of the souks. Cross processed colour transparency film.

The menu. Cross processed colour transparency film through a 40 year-old camera.

Mint tea.

A friend of mine once said that it's worth getting a budget flight to Morocco just to have an orange. Then you can go home happy. He's not far wrong.

Two frames from my panoramic wonder-camera from the roof terrace of a cafe on the edge of Djemaa el-Fna. I paid some ridiculous price for a mint-tea just so they'd let me in and I could take some photos from up there.