Showing posts with label England. Show all posts
Showing posts with label England. Show all posts

July 11, 2015

The Pinnacle of Outdoor Fashion Style

Osa Johnson checks her rifle on safari.
At the Frontier Partisans blog, Jim Cornelius suggests that the 1900–1930 period represented the pinnacle of outdoor wear, at least from the standpoint of style.
From safari boots to slouch hat — that’s the way a man oughta dress. Functional and classically stylish. You could walk down the street in 1915 or 2015 and the look is never out of style.
He praises the costumes of the 1985 movie Out of Africa (Robert Redford, Meryl Streep), but his heart is with Martin and Osa Johnson.
Now, Finch-Hatton and Karen Blixen are an interesting couple, “Out of Africa” is a fine book and a beautiful movie. But if you’re looking for an adventurous, stylish couple from the first half of the 20th Century, the go-to pair is without a doubt Martin and Osa Johnson. Way more compelling than Finch-Hatton/Blixen (and I always liked Bror Blixen best anyway).
"But where do I find those clothes today?" you ask.

Comes with waistcoat and britches.
Go to the Covent Garden area of London — and bring money. There you will find The Vintage Showroom, a vintage-clothing shop-cum-museum "covering the early mid 20th century and specialising in international work, military and sports clothing, classic English tailoring and country wear."  And also some contemporary clothing that invokes those days.

You can see, for example, this bespoke traveling suit, owned by a noted Egyptologist, perfect for crawling through tombs and temples.

March 08, 2015

Women Going Feral — And Then Writing

Last fall, during a layover at Sea-Tac airport, I was checking email on my laptop when this young woman walked up and asked if she could share the table (there were too few of them).

She had two books with her — one of them was Cheryl Strayed's Wild, while the other was a novel. "I can't decide which one to read," she said.

"Read Wild," I said. "My wife loved it — I've read parts of it — it's good."

Later, M. and I saw the movie, which was overlooked in the Oscars — too odd for the judges, too many trees? — fairly faithful to the book, but with Extra Hollywood Stereotyping.*

Meanwhile, having read her former blog and her book on the cultural history of falcons, and corresponded a little, I was awaiting Helen Macdonald's memoir H is for Hawk

 I knew she could write. There had been the blog post where she described a goshawk flying through trees: ". . . the gos spooled away through the trees. He looked like a coin falling through water, flashing silver and grey. Some kind of metal. A very fierce one. Potassium, Sodium, Goshawk."

(We hates her, preciousss.)

H is for Hawk picked up a bucket of literary prizes in Britain, and reviewers on this side of the pond have been equally laudatory.  

The New Yorker gave it four pages (!!), reviewer Kathryn Schulz writing, "Books about nature, like the category 'animal,' sometimes suffer from a sin of omission: in both cases, people belong inside them but are often left out. Books about grief run the opposite risk; too much of the person can be left in, too much of the world omitted. Macdonald, who is writing both kinds of book at once, makes neither mistake."

Painted with a very, very broad structuralist brush, both books tell the same story. The writer loses a dear parent (Strayed her mother, Macdonald her father.) Both have been been drifting — both have self-destructive streaks (Strayed's more developed, perhaps) — both struggle with loneliness.

Photograph by Christina McLeish 
Both seek the wild, Strayed in the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges, Macdonald, the falconer and academic historian of science, in more domesticated England, in the yellow eyes and murderous flights of Mabel, a newly acquired goshawk.

Strayed, backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail, tells one of the female solo hikers whom she meets, "Honestly? I'm lonelier in my real life than I am out here. I miss my friends, of course, but it's not as if I have anybody waiting for me at home. How about you?"

Macdonald, looking at her life alone in the woods with her goshawk, feels numb: "My heart is salt."

Both must enter the woods and then follow the thread of their stories out — but how far, and for how long? 

* Strayed meets a farmer who is "working," which seems to consist of driving a tractor up and down a dirt road in the desert, no cropland in sight and nothing attached to the tractor.

June 16, 2013

The Fancy Dog Who Never Walked the Walk

A wonderful little tempest in a dog dish: It was claimed that the winner of Britain's major dog show completed a 140-mile walk in order to show that show dogs were healthy dogs.
The official press release, put out by the Kennel Club in conjunction with Jilly's Jolly Jaunt, was entitled "...Crufts champion walks 130 miles for charity".
Only she did not do it. A body double was used.

Scandal! But it was for charity! How could you say such awful mean things, you awful mean blogger?

May 05, 2013

Wildfires, Fallout Shelters, and Death

With planning permission and money, you too can have a "bushfire bunker." (Wildfire magazine.)
Paging through the newest issue of Wildfire magazine today, I ran across an article on fire response in the Australian state of Victoria: "How Should We Shelter from Intense Bushfires?"

The Australians seem to go back and forth on the "shelter in place" concept. Sometimes it works, sometimes it is bad advice. But one company is selling "government approved" wildfire safety bunkers.

Apparently an underground bunker gives you enough air supply to breathe while the fire front passes over you. Still, just reading about them kicked up a nightmare-image from my childhood.

My father, in addition to being a US Forest Service district ranger, was also active in Civil Defense volunteer work in the 1960s, the peak of the Cold War. One day he brought home a little paperback book called Fire and the Air War.

Pretty heavy reading for a 10-year-old. It was chiefly about World War II incendiary bombings, urban fire storms, and the like.

The one lesson I took away was that you can have a shelter with excellent blast protection and still end up dead because the fire storm sucked all the oxygen out. (See also the uselessness of sheltering in cellars, etc., during forest fires.) The photo of a dead, unburned German family in their basement shelter said it all.

(By one of those interesting moments of synchronicity, Glenn Reynolds linked to a Daily Mail [not always the most reliable source, I know] article on a Wisconsin family that opened up a 50-year-old Cold War fallout shelter in their backyard, only to find most of the contents well-preserved.)

The Australian bunker builders, however, say their bunkers give a six-hour air supply.  Apparently a forest of eucalypts, etc., burns up more quickly than did Dresden or Coventry.

May 03, 2013

Good Links about Birds

• A New York Times science story on understanding owls.

 • Crows are smarter than you think. But if you know anything about crows, you already think that.

Wild ravens return to southern England. Key factors appear to be availability of roadkill plus legal protection. A century ago, gamekeepers routinely killed them.

April 28, 2013

Solving a Cryptozoological Puzzle

The "Edwardian lynx" in the Bristol Museum
This is not a southern Rockies post, just so you will know. We have lynx (re-introduced), and we like them.

Science writer Darren Naish shows how the puzzle of a lynx(?) shot in southwestern England in about 1903 can be solved using modern technology.

I have been in that museum, but I do not remember the stuffed lynx. What I do remember from the wildlife collection is staring for a while at this.

Naish's piece, however, is an elegant summary of what can be done with older taxidermy specimens.