things to do

Feeling Gravity's Pull.

Ok. Sunday. A day for lounging around, mowing the lawn and slamming in the lamb.

Or, if you live near Cookham like we do, it's also the opportunity to watch some insane locals take part in the Gravity Grand Prix - basically, a build-your-own kart time trail down a steep-ish hill in which one attempts to not die horribly in front of ones neighbours.

Run since 2007, the Grand Prix is driven only by gravity (huh) meaning a quick push and that's it. This means some karts with a little more, shall we say, 'engineering' get much better times down the course. For instance, the low profile handmade by yer actual Jaguar cars team did a significantly better time than the two naked blokes in a trolley surrounded by some cardboard.

It figures.

Still, none of this really matters as most of the fun is watching to see if anyone comes a cropper around the chicane (they did) and if any carts break halfway down (they do). Awards are given for fastest time obviously, but they're also handed out for Best Novelty Kart as well so everyone can be a winner.

It was our second year watching the Grand Prix and it seemed busier this time around. I also noted the appearance of a Costa van and a National Trust tent amongst the bar and the bbq indicating it's becoming a 'thing' on the circuit. Hope it doesn't spoil it.

My favourite kart this year was the John Player Special one (memories of the 70's and 80's Lotus cars I guess) but special mention to the little VW van you'll see in the pictures below, not least because post-race some idiot local kids nicked and trashed it. This is why we're not allowed to have nice things...

So, the perennial fun day out for all the family (including plenty of dogs for some reason) with thousands of quid being raised for Thames Valley Air Ambulance and other local causes at the same time.

Check out some of the karts below and let me know your favourite...


Tech corner:

It was all about a quick telephoto - step forward Batis 85!

All roads lead to Brighton.

One of the added benefits of being self-employed is school holidays. So long, difficult logistics of child care, and a big hello to impromptu road trips to the seaside.

We'd not been to Brighton for ages, but after an afternoon spent putting pins and twine into a wall based map of the south of the UK (ok, we didn't. We spent 5 mins on Google), it was decreed that an enjoyable 2 hour drive in the morning rush hour was just what was required of Dad to revisit one of the UK's most famous seaside towns.

Gaff of Pink Floyd guitarist, David Gilmour. 

After parking in Hove - Brighton's 'posher' sibling - enjoying a caffeine boost at Hixon Green and me being disappointed I couldn't hear any guitar noodlings whafting from David Gilmour's house on the seafront, Shortround and myself took the long walk along the prom past beach huts and angry seagulls to our main attraction stop of the day, the slightly controversial "British Airways i360"

A 531ft observation tower on the seafront, the i360 is a fully enclosed pod which goes up a tall tube making it look not unlike an olive on a stick. Built by the same people who brought you the London Eye, the idea is a 'vertical pier' and while I think that's somewhat cobblers - my idea of a pier would involve at least one ride with a horse and kiss me quick hat monger - it does involve getting some fantastic views of Brighton, the South Downs and as far away as Beachy Head.

Apparently, the locals are a bit sniffy about the i360. It does rather stand out on the seafront, but my feeling is that change is always met with that sort of opposition and the longer it's there the more it will be accepted.

The British Airways i360.

As ever some people seemed more interested in just looking at their phones during the 30 min trip (why go up?) but for the sights you get it's definitely worth a visit, although £25 for myself and one smaller one does put it at the upper end of 'affordable' during the wallet-emptying six week school holiday.

Post olive stick ride to the heavens, we decided that a trip to Brighton wouldn't be the same without fish and chips on the beach and a dip (her, not me). Apparently, it was 'so cold', which considering our recent stratospheric temps of late was a little surprising. 

Avoid the advancing gulls on the poach for our leftover takeaway, we escaped into town for a whirl up The Lanes, with its colourful shops and locals before we trooped back down to Hove for another rush hour drive.

My one take out of being back in Brighton for the first time in a few years is that it's got a bit more confident and grown up. Hard to articulate this really, but there's a more polish in the shops, bars and restaurants than a couple of years ago.

What I was surprised about was that the beach was quite light on people considering the time of year. But perhaps they've got somewhere else to go, and other road trips of their own to have.


Tech Corner.
Majority combo of the Zeiss 85mm and Sony 35mm f 1.4 on this trip.