The One about the Pinhole magic in the Jungle

the pinhole workshop in the refugee camp in Calais

I had a workshop in the Refugee Youth Service which is located in the emptier part of the camp. It is not allowed to live in that part of the camp so only Refugee Youth Service, School and Christian Church stands there alone accompanied with the field for playing football. You will not find the Jungle on the map, although they could have marked it there. With around 6 000 people it is quite a district! However, because of the security reasons refugees and volunteers helping them rather stay incognito.

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My first visit was on Thursday afternoon. I did not have the precise direction but you can be sure that more East you go there are always guys standing around the roads who know where to direct you. So I have asked. Nearer you go, the French family houses change into the industrial complexes, highways with bushes and refugees going along the way up and down. Finally, there are policemen standing with the guns around each exit. I did not loose my speed and slipped between them directly into the jungle. And how is the jungle? Well, tents and small houses/tents built of everything you find, little shops and restaurants serving the national food. They are mainly Afghans, Syrians, Eritreans, and Sudanese living there.

At first, I appeared in the wrong part of the camp where the living area is. Since I came inside, everybody was greeting me, asking where I am from. Some men or even smaller boys were trying to flirt, just like boys do and some were curious what I am bringing inside my trailer. Any humanitarian aid is appreciated and possibly expected if you are coming from outside. When I said it is my home, they seemed to be a bit disappointed. However, they were asking what I am looking for and everybody was looking to help me. One brought me there and the another one over there so finally I got to see “bambino” (that´s what they were saying when I tried to explained that I came to do a workshop for kids = ) Well, the bambinos were teenagers.

I set up my table and notes to explain the basics of pinhole photography, some principles, and calculations and I built the black out tent inside the classroom. Boys understand a little bit of English but there was also translator speaking Dari (which is the kind of the Persian language spoken in Afghanistan) so the run of the lesson was made easier.

The day before the workshop I was collecting rubbish boxes and the beer cans around Calais suitable for pinhole cameras. By the other volunteers who are in the camp longer I was advised to paint the beer cans from outside because of Ramadan as well as I was asked to wear long trousers so I do not offend anybody or not cause an uncomfortable situation.

 

 

I think nobody felt uncomfortable. Boys were paying attention although sometimes they were looking at me with a suspicion when I tried to explain that the shoe box can be a camera. They constructed beer cans cameras, a shoe box camera loaded with a photographic paper inside and one matchbox camera using 125ISO Ilford film. The whole Friday they were making cameras and taking pictures and everybody could not wait to see them. I was nervous like anytime before. I did not want to let them down. However, the centre was closing at 8 pm and we had to leave the developing for the next day.

On Saturday it seemed that the boys are not coming. There was a beach trip organised and moreover, it takes some while for them to come as the living area is located farther from the youth centre. Finally, the boys started to gather and we could continue. I was lucky and water I had in the bottle was exactly 20 degrees so I did not need to do any temperature adjustments. When we started to develop the photo papers we got to know that the shoe box camera worked the best. I loaded it again with a paper so they could take more pictures and develop them in the tent straight away! Suddenly, more boys wanted to have the pictures and I think for at least two hours I was just going to the tent loading the camera with a photo paper, going outside to explain how to take the pictures and back inside the tent with three boys to show the developing process! I even had to reject three boys in the end because the centre was closing. But I have to say that it was my luck because from the chemicals and the fact that none of us has a shower so often I started to feel a bit dizzy. Well. my portable darkroom is still only an improvised camping tent!

In the end, the magic happened in the jungle. The biggest satisfaction for me was when I saw their curiosity and wondering about how this could happen. There was one boy, a typical teenager who wants to be cool – I would say –  who was not so much into making cameras from the rubbish. However, when he saw the picture appearing in the developer he could not believe. Later on, his fellow came and he was enthusiastically explaining in his native language how the pinhole camera works and encouraging him to try it as well! We got some nice negative photographs developed straight away and also the matchbox film which I still have to scan into the computer. Once it is done I will share it with you.

For now here are the negative and positive versions of the developed photographic papers.

 

Well, my stop in Calais was finished and I would love to come back one day. Because of the rain I was also postponing my cycle journey and stayed in the house where volunteers from all around the world help to sort out the clothes and food distribution for refugees. It is worth to go if not for a long time, at least for few days. If anybody interested I have the email addresses! Write me or check Calaid-ipedia or Refugee Youth Service.

 

 

The One about the 23rd of June

Should we go or should we stay?

I am crossing the Channel with a ferry and leaving England.

Today is the referendum in the UK about remaining or leaving the EU and I am taking my bike away. I did not stay in London crossing the fingers for English people to not separate their island from the European values such as humanity and solidarity. However, the fight is theirs and I use my right to move withing the countries!

While living in London you think it is impossible for the UK to opt out. There are so many nations living next to each other, blends of people. Once, you get out from the capital you realize that London is the country itself which has a few in common with the rest of the kingdom. In every village, there are the signs “Vote Leave” shouting to the air. They seemed to accompany my journey out of the UK and I felt more anxious about it as we were reaching the border.

Siggy was taking me from London. Taking care of every detail, sorting out every possible situation which could get me into the trouble, helping with a trailer and he was supporting me to live my dreams in the same way! His patience is from the iron, I thought so many times during the journey, and my life feels like a nonsense right at the moment. I have lived in London for three years hardly getting along with any boys as I was told to be a difficult girl. We know each other one month and everything seems to be easy. Apart of the leaving.

Well, how do we know when is the time to go and when is the time to stay? Either in the relationships or in the country? I guess, you never know. Only important is to know, that if we respect and trust each other there is no real leaving because anywhere we are the heart always remains and show us the way!

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PS: Published in Calais after 3 hours of looking for internet café. Hurááá, let´s have a look for the jungle. Write to you later..

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night in Dover

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Morning in Calais

The One about foxes

Visiting The Fox Project with my Foxie bike

My first stop was in Royal Tunbridge Wells. A little town located the South East of London. From the big city, you can get the road with so many ups and downs! In the Broadwater forest, there is hidden the Folly Wildlife Rescue rehabilitating the injured or orphaned wild animals and birds sharing the site with The Fox Project dedicating its job to helping the foxes.

How can we help?

The Fox Project is the registered charity. Besides, operating the ambulance for injured foxes and cubs they also provide a consultancy about ho to deal with foxes in the human way without pest-controlling the animals. They do not rely on the state financial help, therefore, every donation will make a difference. If you do not want to send any money, the amazon wishlist can give yo

The delivery address is: The Fox Project, Broadwater Forest Wildlife Hospital, Fairview Lane, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN3 9LU

If this is not enough, here is the online shop related to any gifts with foxes!

I made a stop in Tunbridge Wells to make some pinhole workshop. I thought people would donate to the Fox Project by attending the workshop. However writing emails as a touring cyclist organizing the workshops seem to be a bit weird, so I got some rejecting emails or no answers. Finally, I decided to email the charity and simply take some pinhole pictures of foxes. If they will be developed well you can purchase them too and help the Fox Project to stay alive.

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The visit

Foxes are not pets and can´t obey to humans. In the same spirit, the Fox Project deal with foxes. The aim is to rehabilitate and release them to the rescue area. The foxes are the territorial animals. They are released in the number of five, so the one territory is not overpopulated with foxes.

Foxes love sweets! Next to the bowl with a meet and young chickens, they get also toast with a jam in the hospital. They have to get strong and recover. Most of them are suffering from infections (mange), injuries caused from the sharp objects or they are orphaned. The strong smell combining the infection, urine, and dead chickens was challenging for me. Sandra, who has worked for the Fox Project already for 15 years, and volunteers Christie and Bethany are vegans. I did not ask how challenging it can be for them to be there every day, but I guess if you love helping animals you can go over any discomfort. And girls love what they do for sure!

Especially now, it is the season when new cubs are born and more foxes get into the troubles. To stay not overcrowded in the hospital there are also over 100 fosterers who cares about the foxes. Literally, anybody with the garden and time can sign for the fostering with the Fox Project. If you do so, they will come to build the pen where the fox is recovering until she/he can be released to her/his territory. That is something that you can´t do when living aboard as I did when in London. Maybe in the future..

Foxes wherever you look!

Since I came to London the foxes were crossing my way almost every day. London, the city where the foxes wish “good night”. I remember cycling with my Foxie bike at 5 am to the King´s Cross station when working at the fast food shop and racing with foxes who always slipped into the side bush. How much I wished to slip with them. I remember walking in the nights when living at squat and meeting rough foxes hunting around. I knew that foxes are searching for the last corner in the city, which did not welcome them at all, just like squatters. I remember being with my friend Tera and looking eyes to eyes to two foxes in Kingston for so long. Two friends foxes with two friends humans. It was just the first day when we had been driving our boat Matylda to East London. I simply believe that foxes are the sign  of good luck!

I simply believe that foxes are the sign  of good luck! And who wants to be lucky has to be in good with foxes!

What´s on in the summer? 

If you want to have some fun and help good purposes you can also join the fundraising festival THE MAD HATTER’S TEA PARTY in the Royal Tunbridge Wells!

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The Fox Project on facebook

The One about the start!

It is raining! what to expect from the English weather.

I am starting my cycling trip today. The weather is rainy and gray, the one would love to stay under the duvet but the excitement of the journey will make any forecast great!

I do not remember exactly how the idea was planted but it was in summer 2014 when I met Marek and Nico on the train in the Czech Republic, two foreign guys settled in Dublin traveling across Europe. By the way, it was my first visit home after 14 months since I have moved to London.

We were speaking and laughing and all three we shared a passion for cycling. They wanted to cycle to Tibet and I promised to my bike that I take him for a journey in Europe. We shook our hands that in 2016 we go to cycle together. The picture was easy (at least in my head): Marek can do the yoga classes on the way because he was studying physiotherapy or something similar to it, Nico is a great cook and photographer so he would be cooking and taking reports and I would do the workshops with the pinhole cameras. Thinking about how great it would be to build a bicycle cinema. Hmmm, well, the dreaming is beautiful!

We saw each other just once in our lives, but I am sure this unexpected friendship set something in my mind which made me think that things we dream about might happen. Maybe one day, I meet Marek and Nico somewhere on the road..

 

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the one from packing, fitting the pannier rack, trailer, going for this and that..

The One about the Pedal Power!

Building the bicycle generator, dreaming about the bicycle cinema

I really wanted to build the bicycle generator. Imagine using the human power to produce the electricity while pedalling. It is nothing new but it fascinates me! I decided I want to know how is it to build the bicycle cinema, ride to less accessible places and screen independent or student movies somewhere in nowhere. Bring the unknown to the unknown places. I like the philosophy of screening the films using the pedal power and so that without making an effort there is no satisfaction and also that all participants are supposed to contribute because only one person is unable to pedal the whole length of the movie.

However, once I have started to learn about the pedal power, the new possibilities of using my bicycle suddenly opened in the horizon. Finally, the number of possibilities brings the independence. As a pinhole photographer, I am going to teach pinhole photography workshops on the tour and install the solargraph cameras along the coast of the North Sea. On the way back I want to use the pedal power to scan the final pictures into the digital form.

The pedal cinema comes step by step, the first trial is scheduled on Sunday the 19th of June in Limehouse, London, in my former studio.

Thank you, everybody!

Before using the pedal power I had to learn how to build the bicycle generator. Searching online and talking with people (for example from London Bike Kitchen or with Slowly Tony, the electrician repairing the engine on our boat), I got to know that there have been already few groups in London generating the power for screening or playing the music. I especially talk about Magnificent Revolution and Rinky Dink.

The Magnificent Revolution has the section on their website devoted to building the bicycle generator and explaining how the electricity works. I learned a huge amount about generating power from them! Let´s say that before launching the project my knowledge about the electricity did not go so far, basically, I knew only that we should not put our fingers into the sockets! Nowadays, I know some basics.

If you are interested in learning check their website: http://www.magnificentrevolution.org/diy/ Another useful website is the American one http://pedalpowergenerator.com/ where you can watch plenty of videos how to connect everything together.

I do not want to explain all those steps how to make the bike generator because it gets complicated and I am not qualified to teach about those things.

However, I would like to send many thanks to people who helped me with little or larger issues which I had during the realization of the project. They are Mohammed from Alabhai Motors in Limehouse who taught me that the locking nuts are unscrewed a different direction than the normal nuts (what a little help which makes you move further ahead), also they are the guys from the hardware shop Tower DIY Ltd. on the Commercial Road who were crossing fingers for me and helped me to realized how to attach the skate wheel on the shaft of the motor using a grab screw. For getting support in purchasing the scooter permanent magnet motor MY1016 chain drive 250W 24V, I am grateful to the company Fireworks and scooters direct. The video shows the first trial of spinning the rear wheel of my bike against the skate wheel attached to the motor.

Another support came from Andrew from RS components where I got the blocking diode 20A 45V and the DC to DC converter. Although Andrew was more sceptical about me building the bike generator and worried me that playing with an electricity causes that my heart will stop beating. That´s why I am wearing the rubber gloves – to feel safer when pedalling the first time, haha. Finally, before finishing the project, I wrote on facebook page of London Boaters and ask for a help. I got an answer from one boater Tom who assisted me online with the curious questions. Many thanks to him as well as to my friends from Fig Row Studio and my boyfriend for help with pedalling! Finally, once you begin to thank namely, you start to think you forget somebody, so let´s thank to everybody for huge support!

It is fun!

I do not know how far I can get with a generating the power while pedalling, neither how far I can cycle with carrying everything inside the bike trailer! There are thousands of options. The important is that I have learnt again something new and the conclusion is that when we believe in our dreams and wishes, there is always a bunch of people willing to help us to make them happen!

PS: I am not clever as a radio, but I can power one in the middle of nowhere and play you a wish song!

The One about repairing my Foxie bike for the big Journey

Build your own bike with London Bike Kitchen

Finally, I decided that I will not spend the next summer working in London. I love cycling so a decision about what I am going to do was easy. Moreover, as a pinhole photographer connecting my pinhole project and cycling does not seem to be unreal.

At the second, I had to decide whether I buy a new bicycle or repair my old one. Everybody who knows my bike was convincing me to get rid of him and buy the “proper” one. Foxie (that´s his name) is an old mountain bike which I got from my friend Honza when I moved to London. I remember exactly how I was going to Acton to pick him up and try to ride. It was a shitty bike but I was really happy about him!

That day I saw my first fox in London. People told me that foxes are making strange, sharp, howling noises when they are making love. Driving back home my bike howl like a fox when breaking. It might sound a bit pervert but I love my Foxie bicycle. Later on, I have discovered he has a logo of the fox in the front of the frame. A decision that I am going to prepare my old bike for the journey was completed too.

 

LONDON BIKE KITCHEN

One of the places which offer such repairs is London Bike Kitchen. Here I would like to say a big thank you to guys from LBK who are running their bike workshops in Hoxton (28 Whitmore Road, N1 5QA) teaching people how to fix their own bicycles including me. I got to know about them from Look mum no hands, the London´s café which also runs the workshops in repairing the bikes. In other words – Bikers to Bikers! Tiny space in London Bike Kitchen offers the space where all bike lovers can come, borrow the tools, ask for a help, participate in the workshops and repair his/her own bicycle instead of giving it for a repair to somebody else. Since my first visit, we have done a lot of work together and I have learnt how to be more confident about understanding my bike´s needs.

Seb teaches the whole day classes BYOB (Build your own bike) which means that you dismantle the whole bike to its frame and put everything back or replace the old parts so you learn how is your friend built and how everything works.

I have decided to strip the old paint so Foxie does not only runs well but gets a new coat too. I did not have too much time and wanted to paint him black afterwards. The product I bought did not work well so at the end I ended up stripping the old paint from the frame with scissors in front of my studio doors. It was Friday late afternoon the 13th of May.

Siggy – that time he was a random guy from Cable street studios – was passing by and could not resist asking me when seeing me heavily focused on stripping the bike with bloody scissors – “What the hell are you doing?”. Good point, Siggy. I have no idea what I was trying to achieve, I was just making the thing done on time. He advised me to not paint my bicycle in the rush and I listened to him. I told him about my bike tour and he listened to me.

I think Foxie looks great and he is ready to go.

What about myself?! Well, neboy!