25 June 2022 - WHEN CRICKET'S T20 WAS BORN




G'day folks,

Faced with dwindling crowd support and falling sponsorship, in 2003 the England Cricket Board were looking around almost desperately for something to reverse their fortunes. 

In response, their marketing manager, Stuart Robertson, proposed a new fast-paced form of the game in which each team would be restricted to 20 overs. The chairmen of the county cricket clubs were sceptical, but voted 11-7 in favour of the idea.

English county teams played the first official Twenty20 matches on 13th June that year, with one of them, Hampshire v Sussex, being shown live on television at 5pm.

An unconvinced Daily Mail commented: “Whoever chose the traditionally unlucky Friday the 13th to launch this bold format had better hope there is nothing to the superstition.

For cricket cannot afford to fail with a new tournament that the authorities hope will tonight attract a whole new audience and revitalise the game.

At just 20 overs apiece, this breakneck, knock-out game is all done in three hours. What on earth would W. G. Grace have thought?

We will never know how the legendary Mr Grace would have reacted, but the rest of the cricketing world enthusiastically embraced the new format, complete with its American-style cheerleaders, flame-throwers and wild celebrations.

It all led in 2007 to the first T20 World Cup (officially the ICC World Twenty20), a fast and furious knock-out contest between 16 international teams.

Many of the wildly enthusiastic supporters might agree with playwright Harold Pinter who once said: “I tend to think that cricket is the greatest thing that God ever created on Earth – certainly greater than sex, although sex isn’t too bad either.”






G'day folks,

This 1920s Dutch barge is now a floating bookstore. 

A most unusual barge floats on Regents Canal, which flows amid the office-littered landscape of King’s Cross. Step aboard the vessel, and you’ll find a trove of literary treasures waiting to be discovered.

Word on the Water, a 1920s Dutch barge, houses an assortment of cult, classic and contemporary fiction and nonfiction books, as well as a large array of children’s books. Its items fill the space both inside and outside the barge, so even those a bit wary of stepping off solid ground can still peruse parts of its collection.


The shop, which the brainchild of Paddy Screech, Jonathan Privett and Stephane Chaudat, has been open for nearly a decade. But it wasn’t always so easy to find. Previously, canal regulations meant the barge had to change location every couple of weeks, popping up wherever its owners could get a spot. After breaking the rules and squatting in one location for six months, the canal trust finally relented and gave the bookshop boat a permanent berth—thanks largely to public outcry and a successful campaign led by the shop’s many supporters.

In its spot along Regents Canal, the barge has become much more than a bookstore. In the winter, its woodburning stove is lit, offering bookworms of all ages a cozy refuge from the dreary cold. In the summer, the barge hosts a variety of performances, bringing anything from folk groups to jazz bands to poetry slams to its rooftop garden.

Word on the Water is a beloved feature of Granary Square, an area developed out of the old King’s Cross train sheds. The particular stretch of Regent’s Canal the barge sits on is home to a small portion of London’s large boating community, some irascible geese and swans, as well as a fine scattering of moorhens.






G'day folks,

Atlantis Books is a quirky bookstore hidden beneath a sea of whitewashed Greek villas. 

A mecca for bookworms is buried beneath the waves of whitewashed buildings flowing toward the Aegean Sea. Virtually invisible unless deliberately sought it out, Atlantis Books is a tiny bookstore packed with some of the greatest literary works by authors such as Leo Tolstoy and Samuel Beckett.

Opened in 2004 by a group of young and adventurous college students, the shop offers a plethora of books from international authors translated into English. A small set of stairs framed by vines funnels visitors past a vibrant mural and into the bookstore.


The store is a winding maze of books, all sorted by genre. You’ll find anything from literary classics to intriguing newer titles. Splashed along white walls are quotes and colorful illustrations that swirl around the entire bookstore. There’s also a timeline of the bookstore’s creation running along one wall.

Chairs and tables are tucked into the nooks and crannies of the area, inviting readers to sit down and get lost within the pages of a book. Don’t be surprised if you spot a cat or two snoozing among the stacks. Above ground, the bookstore boasts a patio offering a stunning view of the sparkling sea.






G'day folks,

The world’s oldest and biggest bookstore stocking only mystery, crime fiction, espionage, and thrillers. 

Mysteries have always been around and always been popular, but they haven’t always been respected. Otto Penzler has had a significant hand in that transformation. He’s probably the most important figure in the history of mystery fiction who’s never written a mystery story. 

You get into Otto Penzler’s New York office through a door in the Mysterious Bookshop, the world’s oldest and biggest bookstore focusing on mystery, crime fiction, espionage, and thrillers. The door is roped off with a big X made of yellow police tape reading CRIME SCENE DO NOT CROSS. Down a flight of stairs, his office is a low-ceilinged basement cube with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves on all four sides, stocked with anthologies and first editions as well as a random sampling of mass-market hardcovers and paperbacks. If the office was a store by itself, it would be the second-best mystery bookstore in the world. 

Penzler is the owner of the Mysterious Bookshop (founded 1979) as well as The Mysterious Press, a publishing imprint he founded in 1975, and mysteriouspress.com, his ebook publisher. He has published most of the greats of mystery and crime fiction: Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, James Ellroy, Ross Thomas, Patricia Highsmith, Ross Macdonald, Ed McBain. Any of the major authors he hasn’t published are probably at least good friends of his.


The Mysterious Bookshop itself. Today the store is down in Tribeca, on a block that doesn’t suggest anything important in the literary world. It’s next to a Le Pain Quotidien and a few doors down from a 7-Eleven. (It was first located on 56th Street in Manhattan, in a building Penzler owned because it was cheaper to buy—New York was different back then.) 


Inside, every square inch of walls leading up to what must be 20-foot ceilings are packed with any book in which someone violently dies. There is an entire section for Sherlock Holmes books, including the many spinoffs written by dozens of authors. There are copies of long-defunct detective magazines like Black Mask. There is an entire section for what Penzler calls bibliomysteries—mystery books involving mysterious books. Murdered librarians, valuable manuscripts, that kind of thing.

The bookstore is not twee. There are no props, aside from the caution tape; no pranks, no cute designs or artworks. This is a temple to the noble mystery, a place where people who can name all of Donald E. Westlake’s pseudonyms talk about one of the most enduring genres in the history of literature.






G'day folks,

A mining town, now abandoned, was built in a canyon so narrow that the railroad ran right through the hotel lobby. 

Burke, Idaho, is not your run-of-the-mill ghost town. Its story starts out familiar: The mining town rose up after rich deposits of silver and lead were discovered in 1884. But the boomtown that developed was situated in a comically narrow canyon, resulting in some wonderfully creative architecture.

Burke Canyon is long and thin, only 300 feet wide at its narrowest point. It’s a seemingly impossible space to fit a whole town into, and yet they did. The train tracks and the road for vehicles both shared the main street, so cars and carriages had to pull over when the train rolled by. Stranger still, the railroad was built right through the lobby of the town’s hotel.


The Tiger Hotel was built in 1896, straddling the main street and the creek that ran through the canyon. When the railroad expanded in 1906, the lack of space forced it to run right through the hotel. A covered walkway crossed over the tracks connecting the two sides of the building, and five cars of the Northern Pacific Railroad passed through the tunnel in the hotel each day.

Like so many mining towns in the Old West, Burke began to decline at the beginning of the 20th century and the mines starting shutting down. By 1990 there were reportedly just 15 residents left in town. The last of the mines closed in 1991, and within a few years, there was no one left in Burke.

Some of the old buildings have been destroyed by fire, floods, or time, including the unusual Tiger Hotel, which shuttered in 1954. But the decaying remains of many of structures, deserted mining equipment, and abandoned artifacts can still be seen around town. A twisted railroad track, strewn with old massive tools, runs through the town, and there is an unmarked, unknown cemetery with most of the headstones destroyed. You can also see the remnants of the town’s unique architecture, such as the cave-like holes carved into the side of the hills where the former residents of this unlikely village built their houses.






G'day folks,

For centuries this cliffside aqueduct was believed to be of Roman origin, but it actually dates to the medieval era. 

Far in the northwest corner of Italy, in the town of Antey-Saint-AndrĂ©, an ancient, little-known aqueduct hugs the hillside. Dating back to the ninth century, the medieval aqueduct, known as Ru Du Pan Perdu, was originally built as an irrigation canal. The structure would collect water falling from mountainside streams and funnel it to the agricultural land below. The name Ru Du Pan Perdu literally means “channels of lost bread” and indicates that the laborers who built the aqueduct were likely never paid for their work and therefore did not complete the project.


The site became a popular spot on the European “Grand Tour.” From the 17th to the mid-19th centuries, European wealthy young people would embark on these Grand Tours across Europe and the Middle East, often spending months or even years away. One such tourist, Edward Whymper, who climbed the Matterhorn in 1865, wrote about seeing the aqueduct in his diary: “One sees from the path, at several places on the right bank of the valley, groups of arches which have been built high against the faces of the cliffs.”

At the time, almost everyone thought these impressive arches were Roman, not medieval. Guide books of the era repeated the falsehood. But Whymper correctly guessed the aqueduct was a later construction. He wrote, “the work has not the usual Roman solidity. The arches have always seemed to me to be the remains of an unfinished work.”

Today, the aqueduct is visited far less frequently than in the 19th-century. But for those willing to make the trek, the structure also offers stunning views of the surrounding Alps.







G'day folks,

Human ancestor’s 3.6 million year-old footprints found in Tanzania. 

Roughly 3.6 millions years ago the Sadiman Volcano erupted covering the surrounding ground in ash; rain soon followed making a soft and muddy ground over which prehistoric animals trekked. More ash then erupted from the volcano covering and, in effect, preserving the prehistoric tracks.


Forward to 1978, when a group of researchers (led by paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey) discovered the preserved tracks, within which were the oldest known footprints of human ancestors. From the prehistoric footprint’s shape, length, and toes it was evident that these hominids were bipedal and were walking upright on two legs, before even the use of stone tools. The prints were left by two or three hominids (one or two adults and a child) and show that these early humans walked in a very similar manner as modern humans.

Today, the actual footprints have been covered up in hopes of protecting them, but due to fear of erosion they are planned to be uncovered again. Whether the prints remain at their discovered location (with a possible museum built over them) or are to be cut-out and moved entirely is currently under debate.

For now visitors can visit the covered up site of discovery and the nearby Olduvai Gorge Museum, which features casts of the prints and related artifacts.







G'day folks,

A salty red wasteland in Tanzania is a breeding spot for endangered flamingos. 

Don’t let the ring of salty marshes along the edge of Lake Natron fool you. This body of water is one of the most inhospitable areas on Earth.

Colored a deep red from salt-loving organisms and algae, the lake reaches hellish temperatures and is nearly as basic as ammonia. Although most human settlements throughout history have formed around lakes and rivers, the barren landscape around Lake Natron tells a clear story of a place no one ever wanted to live.


Africa’s Great Rift Valley is known for some of its environmentally extreme regions such as the Erta Ale and Dallol. The saline environment of Lake Natron certainly qualifies. Water is supposed to give life, yet this salty world seems content to make life almost impossible… almost.

Although most species cannot handle the 120-degree lake water, cyanobacteria have made Natron their home and turned the lake its trademark reds and oranges. This algae growth has also fostered the developments of Lesser Flamingo nests. Amazingly, 2.5 million flamingos make Lake Natron their home and it is considered one of their only breeding grounds, making preservation of the lake an environmental concern.

In fact, bringing in fresh water would greatly upset the ecological balance of the lake and many in Tanzania have actively fought against bringing in water from the Ewaso Ng’iro River. If the salinity of the lake decreases, the cyanobacteria will also decrease and cause a loss of habitat for the endangered flamingos. Besides losing a bird habitat, the world would also lose a beautiful and salty natural wonder if too much water is diverted south to Natron.