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Emma Townshend

The Independent on Sunday's gardening columnist, Emma Townshend has a garden in West London which she regularly hears passing children refer to as "the Amazon Jungle". She has spent years researching Victorian horticulture and teaching history of science in adult education, while growing the biggest plants she can. Her basic ambition in life is to keep up that important neighbourhood reputation.

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Tour de Francophile

Posted by Emma Townshend
  • Friday, 2 July 2010 at 04:37 pm

Yes, it's time for another year of helicopter shots, crazy motorcycle near-misses and weird French love messages whitewashed on the road. Michel lovehearts Francoise. Lance Armstrong takes EPO. That type of thing.

I had to pause this year in honour of the annual drug allegations and remind myself one more time why I love the Tour de France so much. Despite all le dopage, as they call it on French TV. (This year I actually finally paid the £370 and got the french man round to install french tv so that i can watch the Tour in frenchie. That's how much I love le cyclisme.)

In my case, the fact is I absolutely love France, and the very eccentric view you get of that great country when you view it entirely from above during a bicycle race. Especially when you are in the company of sports commentators who have copious notes. The oldest thatched church in France is about to come into view! Hurray!

The Tour de France is a curious sporting event, because it takes world class riders and sends them through ordinary, everyday lives. Hundreds of people line the streets in each village as the cyclists come through. And there are their houses! The little vegetable gardens! The swimming pools! It's a sort of aerial record of France's commitment to the good life. And here are these incredibly professional finely-tuned athletes on these incredibly expensive finely tuned bikes and we're just going to make them cycle over... some cobbles!!

Brilliant, 100% brilliant, and you'll never make me think otherwise. And I haven't even mentioned the sport.


Gitanes, vin rouge et l'escargot.
ron_broxted wrote:
Saturday, 3 July 2010 at 10:35 am (UTC)
The French have nice gardens too Emma. Welcome back, it has been a long time. I hope to emulate Lowry by getting drunk in Cuernavaca next week - I shall take my copy of "Darwins Dogs" peut-etre.
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qugefour wrote:
Sunday, 10 April 2011 at 03:50 pm (UTC)
Very enlightening and beneficial to someone whose been out of the circuit for a long time.

dapapurr wrote:
Tuesday, 12 April 2011 at 10:18 am (UTC)
I’ve been into blogging for quite some time and this is definitely a great post.Cheers!

trickster_usa wrote:
Tuesday, 7 June 2011 at 10:51 pm (UTC)
Hi Emma ! Greetings from St Paul, Minnesota where it is 102°F, bright & sunny.

Like you I also dig the TDF ~ a very exciting series that features brisk competition, extraordinary skill, resourcefulness, with the most unbelievable stamina. And all that beautiful scenery!! While the Tour is popular in the States, there isn't much talk about the womens race or about female road cycling in general. Why do you suppose that is?

It would seem to me that women should be just as good as men in this type of sport competition since stamina is the key to success in it. I can understand why certain parts of it may be excluded from media coverage such as the occasional but necessary bladder relief on the sidelines. But such a burden shouldn't keep the event from being an exciting and enjoyable presentation. Any thoughts as to why the womens races in UCI are so secondary in so many unfair ways compared to the mens races?


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