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Desktop app of the week: Reeder

Reeder icon

I’ve used Google Reader for years. I find it a really useful way of managing the many RSS feeds I subscribe to, but I hate its online interface. This means that I’ve spent years using various desktop applications that work with it. I’ve tried lots of them, but the one that’s currently occupying a space on my dock is Reeder, which I also use on my iPhone.

Reeder has everything I want in an RSS reader. It allows me to manage my Google Reader subscriptions from within the app, which many alternatives don’t. It clearly shows my entire RSS inbox on the left, and the contents of each individual item on the right. The weblink to the full article is a click away, as is the Readability version, which I usually try first. It will allow me to tweet or email articles with a single click, and also has a button to send them straight to Pocket. There are built-in options for loads of other services too.

I think Reeder is brilliant, and I highly recommend it.

This post was filed under: Favourite desktop apps, Technology, , , , .

Photo-a-day 150: Wooden escalator

Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnels escalator

I visited the Tyne Pedestrian and Cyclist Tunnels for today’s picture of the day – the only place I know of which has a byelaw specifically forbidding defection on the premises. Actually, there are many more interesting things about the 61-year-old tunnels than that, including the longest wooden escalators in the world.

I’ve wanted to visit the tunnels for quite some time, and ended up taking quite a few photos. Instead of clogging up the main blog with them all, I’ve stuck them all together on a page, along with some more background info – so have a look!

This post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, , , .

Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnels

I visited the Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnels on 29th May 2012, mainly to take a photo for my photo-a-day series. But I got a bit carried away, so here’s the excess!

The tunnels opened in 1951, some 16 years before the better-known vehicle tunnel, which now funds their upkeep. They are free to enter, open 24hrs per day, and are still used by about 20,000 people each month; some people use them daily. Despite this, they are unusually well preserved, like a portal back to the 1950s. I also found the experience a little bit freaky. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s a pretty plaque:

Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnels Plaque

Both the north and south entrances to the tunnel are housed in rotunda-like buildings, that have the look and feel of stations… but no trains. Here’s the south entrance:

Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnels south entrance

Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnels south entrance

On entering the building, you’re presented with two escalators, labelled “up” and “down”:

Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnels south escalators

You might wonder why the escalators are labelled: as an energy-saving measure, the escalators only used to run when they were boarded, rather than running all the time. Hence, a sign is needed to make sure people get on the right one. I say “used to” as none of the escalators work now – but they are remarkable and quite beautiful.

The escalators are rare remaining examples of wooden escalators – at 200ft, the longest single-span wooden escalators in the world, in fact. At the time they were installed, they were the longest escalators in the world full stop, until overtaken by Angel underground station in London. There are plans to replace one escalator at each end with one that actually works, but the other two are to remain in respect of their remarkable heritage.

Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnels escalators

The workmanship of the escalators is also quite remarkable: each step has its number individually stamped upon it:

Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnels escalator

As I walked down the stationary escalator, the air temperature became noticeably lower, and the smell of damp gradually became stronger. It was actually a mildly heart-rate increasing experience, descending into the unknown darkness, alone…

On arrival at the bottom, there’s a choice:

Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnels

While people constantly complain about declining grammar standards, it’s interesting to note that even in the early 1950s, people were failing to use apostrophes correctly!

The cyclists’ tunnel is slightly wider than the pedestrians’ tunnel, but otherwise they’re much the same. I entered the pedestrians’ tunnel:

Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnels

The tunnels are cold and smell damp. It is very quiet down there, except for the occasional distant echo of other tunnel users – it is an extremely echogenic environment. Much like the vehicular tunnel, it works its way downhill for half the length, before turning uphill.

Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnels

You’ll notice that the tunnel looks very damp, as well as smelling that way. Here and there in the tunnel, the walls look really very damaged – it’s slightly unnerving to know that you are beneath the River Tyne at these points:

Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnels

Half way through, there is a dividing line to show the division of the county boundaries. I’m not sure what the rusty plates attached to the walls once held:

Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnels


Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnels

Now and again, there is a run of broken lights, plunging the tunnel into a disconcerting dimness:

Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnels

The north end of the tunnel has similar escalators to the south end, but since these aren’t working, I branched off the main tunnel towards the lift. I don’t mind climbing down the longest wooden escalators in the world, but walking up them is asking a bit much:

Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnels

That’s about all the picture I have from my visit – I hope you found that an interesting brief photographic tour! I found my visit fascinating, but the tunnels certainly aren’t for the claustrophobic, and I’m fairly glad that they don’t feature as part of my own daily commute!

This post was filed under: Photos.

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