A Country Picnic

By Rob Packer

Poppies in a meadow.

Pop quiz: is there any point where you can see both Guildford Cathedral and London’s Canary Wharf? The two are 38 miles or 61 km apart, so in low-rise England, the smart money would surely say no, right?

Well, no. As unlikely as it sounds, the slow and steady rise of Staple Lane, just south of Ripley and Clandon in the North Downs and recent star in the Olympic cycling road race, ends in one of those English vistas where, all of a sudden, a whole county unexpectedly unfurls before your eyes in a real-life version of those cartoon maps that end in a strip of Atlantic, Japan or North Pole at the top of the page.

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The Olympic Park

By Rob Packer

The London Olympics are coming to an end after two magical weeks. There is an infectious buzz in the air. The opening ceremony was spectacular and the sport breath-taking. Medals were won: dreams shattered. The tube didn’t go into meltdown and the city didn’t seize up. The British seem to have reconciled themselves with their flag and anthem, and Team GB has had its most successful Games in a century—especially compared with the humiliation of Atlanta. Usain Bolt charmed London and it feels Yohan Blake will in Rio. I and countless others have new heroes in Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis, Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and the rest of the GB cycling team, the sculler from Niger cheered by the crowd to the finish line, and others too numerous to list here. The sun even shined, even if autumn will probably be bitterer than normal. The biggest frustration has been getting tickets over days awash with constant website refreshes that would try the patience of Job. And then finally when most people were distracted by a keirin final, my brother managed to wangle some tickets for hockey in London’s temporary Holiest of Holies, the Olympic Park.

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Fire at Dusk

The Olympics: Cycling Road Race

By Rob Packer

Team GB: Wiggins, Millar, Froome (and Cavendish in the back)

After last night’s fantastic opening ceremony, we got up at a bleary-eyed 6am and sent my dad down to the cycling road race at Hampton Court this morning to bag a good view and set out some flags.

After Wiggins’ and Cavendish’s wins at the Tour de France, Britain is now completely cycling-mad and there was something really emotional about seeing this Olympic event on the roads where I grew up—and where I used to cycle as a teenager. In a break from the norm, the race is still going on, so there still is all to play (or ride) for. Here are some photos: Read more of this post

A Late Anniversary

By Rob Packer

It is two weeks late for the centenary of Alan Turing’s birth. In my defence, I had no idea until I was flicking through magazines absent-mindedly at the barbers’ this morning that I found out that this pioneer of computing spent two years, while he worked at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, living barely 500m from the house I grew up in. I catch sight of whenever I’m at my parents’ house and go for a run or catch a bus, but had never seen (or looked at) the blue plaque set on the white wall by the front door. It also seems bizarre to think that he must have walked twice a day across the same park I go running in. I have no idea if the post-war park had the same open savannahs and herds of deer that Bushy Park has today, but it’s a nice image to have.

Midsummer and White Nights

By Rob Packer

Well, as far as I know, you never actually get white nights in England and it is pretty much the same photo as last time. Having said that, this is pretty impressive for 11pm in London.


A hole in the cloud
Opens, the sun swallowed whole.
Three fingers slip out.

The Forecast Called for Rain

By Rob Packer

And this is probably the cloud to do it.

This Morning

By Rob Packer

I’ve been out of the country and on something of a blogging holiday recently (for various reasons; blogs on some coming soon). Walking into the kitchen this morning and seeing the newly leaved trees at the end of the garden glowing green in the morning sunlight, I grabbed my camera and ran out before the light changed.

Here are the results:

And this one yesterday evening:


By Rob Packer

Hmm, does anyone else wonder if this neighbour really likes pink?

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