Best of blog

I’ve been writing here for close on three years now, around 120 posts. Traffic has never been a priority: I write what I like. And of what I like, this is what I like the most.

Travel and adventure

All in a day’s run
Gorgeous photos from a 50km run in the Drakensberg mountains.

Diamond dust in the Eiffel
The same big freeze that saw thousands trapped in trains beneath the English channel in December 2009 allowed me to experience an amazing atmospheric phenomenon

The joy of small countries
Once they’d decided to let me in, Namibia was lovely.

Oh alright, I’ll blog the tornado
And video it. An English tornado.

runtime, dreamtime
When you can’t sleep, the only thing to do is go running in the mountains in the dark.

Catching the train – Johannesburg to Cape Town
The joys of taking a train from one end of South Africa to the other.

Losing 80% of gravity – electric biking in Suffolk
No need for bionic legs.

Random acts of journalism

What you should know about SA oil companies
My attempt to work out which is the least evil oil company doing business in South Africa. My conclusion (long before its Gulf oil disaster): BP.

Gone fishing
Photographs from a day at sea with artisanal fishermen struggling to eke out a living on False Bay.

Arms deals, gambling, Saddam Hussein – and Apple
Apple is very good at what it does, but it’s not a very nice company, and in South Africa, it’s downright nasty.

How Highbury Safika dupes journalists into writing advertorial
Pitfalls of being an independent journalist.


Fog harvester bread
An ad hoc bread recipe turns out rather well during a visit to the country.

Rehabilitating porridge
An end to stodgy oats: my gourmet breakfasts.

Moving up

350 on Signal Hill
The joy of protesting climate change in Cape Town.

Enlightenment by firefly
Thoughts brought by a bug.

Harry Patch, Slam Marshall and the death of humanity
The terrifying cost of modern militarism – and how some brave individuals stand up against it.

A few thoughts on depression
Some of the ways I deal with it.

And then, there’s my lovely photography.

When society starts breaking down around you, fast

In May and June 2008, the facade of tourist paradise fell away from South Africa for a few terrifying weeks, as South Africans turned on immigrants from elsewhere on the continent, persecuting and killing. Like thousands of others, I was involved in relief efforts.

The xenophobia of bureaucracy
How decent people are made brutal by office and power.

Calling them internment camps clarified what they nearly became
Responding to the crisis, bureaucrats come close to establishing concentration camps.

From genocide to genocide to persecution in Cape Town
“I can’t get the stench of urine out of my nostrils. It’s the smell of fear, anger and humiliation.” People who have survived war and persecution across the continent discover they are not safe in South Africa either.

The abusive ‘mother city’
“A group of 12 people from the DRC and Tanzania and Rwanda and Burundi and Somalia surround me and grill me on what’s happening. ‘My business of ten years has been destroyed, how can I go back to my mother empty-handed?’ ‘How will we get restitution?'”

‘And for xenophobic attacks, press 9’
My night in a disaster management centre.

My fabulous insights

Enlightenment by firefly
A firefly flashes at me up close, encounters with small creatures and the works of Scarlett Thomas.

Perception and faerie
Dreaming of other worlds.

And the Lord said to some Old Testament prophet, don’t worry about Richard Dawkins
How Richard Dawkins forgets evolution when talking religion.

Religion ain’t what they say it is
Rethinking the R word.

Global apartheid

“We really, really don’t like being reminded that we’re stealing your fish”
How rich countries take with the one hand – and then take with the other.

Global apartheid – how it works
A reposted SNOG from TD Architects, which got Stumbled Upon and pulled tons of undeserved traffic to me.

Environment and politics

Nuclear culture v. non-nuclear culture
A table that is the distillate of an awful lot more writing and thinking.

The majesty and beauty of ecological restoration
Whenever I am driven to despair by environmental destruction, remembering this is encouraging.

The etiology and taxonomy of climate change denial
Categorising the deniers.

Energy insanity in South Africa
Would it really be so expensive to switch away from coal? My back-of-an-envelope 2008 calculations suggest not.

My great great grandfather’s politics
The second post on this blog looked at a letter my grandfather’s grandfather wrote to him nearly one hundred years ago.

Unexpected experiences

Amongst the lizard men at the WEF on Africa
David Ickes was right. The lizard army descended on Cape Town. I was there too.

The anonymous transport of prisoners 1 and … 2
A chilling moment on a sunny London street, and the research that followed.

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