Talking with craftspeople along the coasts of Britain and Ireland.
There’s something about Long Distance Touring that has an attractiveness for increasing numbers of people these days. By switching off the phone, packing up their panniers and seeing where the next road takes them, cyclists can find the time and space to follow their instincts, form their own ideas, and see the the world truly with their own eyes.
By way of example, allow us to introduce Nick Hand, who has spent some time on the road over the past few years, and has far more to show for it than just a beautifully broken-in B17.
Between 2009 and 2010, for over four months and more than 6000 miles, he rode a leisurely tour of the coasts of Britain and Ireland. While making his journey, he sought out artisans and craftspeople living or working in his path, and spent some time taking photos of them at their work, as well recording what they had to say.
Designer Paul Smith was one of the people Nick caught up with on his trip.
But of course, nobody was cut out of the conversation by virtue of their lack of a trade, and Nick also found himself snapping shots of the occasional kindred cycling spirit or bike collector- although chiefly his trip does seem to have been a study of those taking careful time with their work, whatever that happened to be.
Nick came to visit us at the Smethwick Works before he set off in 2009. At the time, there was general agreement in the factory about the strange symmetry in his arrival at the centre of the island of Britain to pick up a saddle, produced today just as it was a hundred years ago, in order that he might make a bike tour of the coastline of the same island investigating people working in ways that have changed little since the 19th century.
At any rate, a trained typographer and working graphic designer, Nick has recently finished a book about the experience. Called Conversations On The Coast, it brings together 20 of the short interviews that Nick did on his travels. Glassmaking, Stickmaking, Typewriter Art and Boatbuilding are just a few of the fields of human endeavour dealt sympathetically with between its covers.
A foretaste of what the reader can expect is available to visitors of Nick’s website. Here you can browse through some of his photo galleries and soundslides where Inveterate Bicycle Collector Cally Callomon, Stone Carver Sheena Devitt and Long-Distance Tourer Fearghal O’Nualláin, for example, all have intelligent perspectives to share on the subject of their chosen passion.
Money from each copy sold goes to a charitable foundation raisng funds for research into Parkinson’s Disease.
Nick, quite possibly (and if so, then rather aptly) in Devon.