Day 172: The Longest Day

A little bit of shoe-shine for the summer solstice.

June 21 main

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I’ve been up a long time already today. For the last few years the longest day for me each year truly has been the longest day.

Y’see, six years ago I started a tradition of getting up each summer solstice to photograph the sunrise. Admittedly, I skipped the tradition last year because the weather was so poor there would have been no sun to photograph. But this year, with the weather we’ve been having lately, it was pretty clear that the sky was indeed going to pretty clear.

So, the alarm woke me up at 3.30 am, I had a quick breakfast and I was on my bike by 3.50 am. By 4.15 am I was on a hill next to the Bristol Ring Road somewhere near Mangotsfield, waiting for the sun to appear (in previous years I’ve watched the sunrise as Beechen Cliff in Bath and Hanham Hill in Bristol). I thought was going to be late; although officially sunrise was 4.53am, it was so light as I pedalled along he cycle path, I barely needed my lights on. I was convinced I must have misread the time of the sunrise, and had already missed it.

But no. It was just a spectacularly bright and pretty, pre-sunrise morning glow.

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The sun eventually put in an appearance at just before 5am, sluggishly pulling itself over the hill opposite as if it were nursing a hangover, reluctant to let go of the horizon for fear of falling over. Nevertheless, it put on a decent lightshow, and I’m very happy with how some of the photos came out.

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First glimpse of the sun over Mangostfield, Bristol on 21 June 2014

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To mark the occasion I was wearing some suitably sunny off-road New Balance trainers. But it was only on the cycle back that I had the idea for the photo. I don’t care what anybody else thinks, I love Danny Boyle’s Sunshine, and it also benefits from a superb commentary track on the DVD which makes you realise that the crazed killer subplot at the end wasn’t quite as random as it seems when you first watch the film. Admittedly, the film is probably at fault if you need to listen to the a commentary for it to make sense, but in my case, it was more like a justification for a niggling aspect in a film I liked anyway.

Plus I find it amusing that Brian Cox was the scientific advisor on the film, long before his “brilliant” career took off.

Enjoy the longest day!


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• Remember this is all for charity, so any pennies or pounds you can spare PLEASE DONATE BY CLICKING HERE.

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• If you have any trainers you could donate (either on loan or old pairs you’re getting rid of) which are size 9 (ish – I can do anything  from 8 to 10) contact me at so I can arrange collection.

• Please, please, please leave comments below! I’m after ideas for mini-challenges, future photoshoots and how I can find enough pairs of trainers!



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