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The Forgotten of Saint Paul Island

October 11, 2019
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In October 1929, the La Langouste Française fish company hired 30 Europeans to go lobster fishing in l’Île Saint Paul, a volcanic island in the Indian Ocean about 7kmsq. They worked from November to March and, at the end of the season, a boat came to collect them and bring them home to Concarneau in…

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Domenico Remps’ Cabinet of Curiosities

October 7, 2019
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Say the words “Cabinet of Curiosities” and this painting is the most likely thing to come to mind. Painted by German artist Domenico Remps, it’s an early example of trompe l’oeil painting – from the French for “eye deceiver” – in which artists created a…

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Fists, bribes, guns and wheels: Plugger Bill Martin, cycling’s first official hard man

March 2, 2016
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One by one, the riders entered Martin’s hotel room. On the bed, bribes were laid out in piles of notes and sovereigns; Martin, loaded revolver by his side, addressed each successive visitor, stating the terms of their contract. “Quite right, Bill,” came the replies. Notes…

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The Greatest Six-Day Bicycle Race Ever Seen

February 18, 2015
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The Greatest Six-Day Bicycle Race Ever Seen

The Irishman who won the famous Madison Six of 1896 was English. And everyone knew, except the history books.

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The Last Passenger Pigeon

August 24, 2014
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The Last Passenger Pigeon

In the Spring of 1860, a flock estimated at 3.7 billion Passenger Pigeons flew over Ontario. Eleven years later, some 136 million breeding pairs nested in Wisconsin, with birds landing in such large numbers that limbs were often sheared off the trees. With numbers like…

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America’s Loneliest Road

August 8, 2014
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America’s Loneliest Road

Running from Ocean City, Maryland on the U.S. east coast all the way to Sacramento in California, U.S. Route 50 cuts an impressive swathe through alpine forests, desert valleys, ghost towns and petroglyphs. It’s the bit that crosses a 287-mile stretch of Nevada, from Ely…

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Bouvet Island – ‘The Last Place on Earth’

October 10, 2013
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It seems fitting that the most isolated spot on the planet should be an inhospitable, glacier-covered rock sitting smack in the path of the ‘furious fifties’ storm winds. More than 1700 and 2500 kms respectively from nearest neighbours Antarctica and Cape Agulhus (South Africa) Bouvet…

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Jerry Gretzinger’s Map

August 21, 2013
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Jerry Gretzinger’s Map

It started as a doodle 50 years ago. Since then, Jerry Gretzinger has added a new hand-drawn panel to his map of an imaginary world every day. At 2000 sq feet and counting, the map includes fictional towns, cities, rivers, railroads…an entire world detailed on…

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The oldest surviving film

August 7, 2013
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While Thomas Edison and/or the Lumiere brothers are popularly credited with the invention of the moving picture – something which Edison, a notorious credit taker did little to discourage – history suggests otherwise. As, indeed, does this very short film clip, shot in Roundhay, near…

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