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Necessity Bears

Necessity Bears

Bears are fierce; bears are cautious. Bears are solitary; bears, the females at least, are dedicated to family. Bears are omnipotent; bears are vulnerable. They are everything we want to be and everything we cannot abide. Those are a lot of human characteristics to project onto another species, especially when..
Fjord Escort

Fjord Escort

It takes remarkably little time for Noah, my 13-year-old cousin, to settle into the particular smugness that comes with being in a Tesla. We may only have the Model X for a few days, and of course Noah doesn’t get to do any of the driving, but we’ve barely left..
Northern Appetites

Northern Appetites

“It’s really crazy work,” says Steve Torgersen. He’s talking about getting fresh water to his restaurant Gruvelageret, on the edge of Longyearbyen, Svalbard, but he could easily be talking generally about the challenges of supplying good food this far north. To look at Longyearbyen on a map (or in person), there’s..
The End of Greece

The End of Greece

At the end of the world, I am reluctant to report, there is excellent 3G coverage. Our understanding of the world is a little better – at least in geographical terms – than it was in the age of the ancient Greeks, but for them the Matapan, the southernmost tip..
No Man’s Land

No Man’s Land

The coldness you feel during an Antarctic polar plunge is elemental. It is not something you can brush off or laugh about. Make all the plans for witticisms you like, the moment you hit that sub-zero water, a panicked mammal part of your being takes over and gets you the..
Behind the Mask

Behind the Mask

It begins with a sickening snap. The Mud Men of Pogla emerge to no music, moving like mechanical marionettes: juddering, shuddering, dancing. Their huge heads, like their skin, have been painted deathly white. Theirs is a dreadful spectacle. While some hold spears, others have wicked-looking bamboo talons which they crack..
Old Testament Lessons

Old Testament Lessons

They say the fat, arthritic olive trees in northern Jordan’s Irbit region were planted by the Romans. That would likely make them older than local lad J. Christ, a theory which hasn’t been scientifically tested, but one that’s quite believable in this biblical land of dusty hills, itinerant goats, and..
Once Upon a Time in the West

Once Upon a Time in the West

When the gun goes off, its belligerent noise slams into a vermillion cliff-face, then echoes back over our heads and out into the infinite expanse of central Wyoming. There’s a gentle tinkle as the bullet casing hits the ground. A serpentine smoke trail rises skywards from the barrel of the..
The Scottish Gindustry

The Scottish Gindustry

The morning I set off to trace Scotland’s new gin trail feels like the wettest day in the history of wetness and days, a morning so vengeful that no material, artificial or natural, can really keep a person dry. When I get to the Gin Bothy I’m as grateful for..
Sevillian Days

Sevillian Days

I’m watching a freeloader outside a restaurant on a hot day in Seville. A hot day? It could be almost any day in this town. In summer, the temperatures sail past 40C – past 50C at their worst. What to do on days like that? The freeloader knows. Stay in..