Time for change - Issue 166 - Magazine | Monocle
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We love summer, finding time to swim, nap in the shade. But we also like summer because it’s a moment to regroup, rethink and get ready for the rest of the year. And that’s why this issue has been designed to give you a helping hand off the sunlounger, a gentle entry back into the world of work, your city, your life. It’s an issue about what happens when you get out in the world – something that some folk have shied away from in recent years as companies have cut travel budgets, moved to remote working models and generally created an atmosphere where adventure is just a little frowned upon. 

Now, we are all for a cosy home and a sustaining neighbourhood but sometimes it’s only when you change your routine, make the effort to dress up for a business lunch (yes, thankfully, they are still a thing) or jump on a boat, a bike or a plane, that exciting things happen as your ideas and prejudices are challenged and new experiences absorbed. This magazine is an invitation to do all of these things.

Alexis Self, our foreign editor, certainly went on an adventure when he headed to Mongolia (page 56) to discover how a country wedged between Russia and China – but with key Western connections too – manages to keep them all just about happy and its independence intact. During his stay, Lex managed to meet everyone from the prime minister to herdsmen, all keen to meet a reporter who had gone the distance to be there. 

This month’s Affairs pages also include our writer Naomi Xu Elegant’s interview with the president of Timor-Leste, José Ramos-Horta (page 69). Not only does she get to see how this 73-year-old has steered his nation to membership of Asean but also got to cruise around the island with him in his dinky Mini Moke car. 

Travel and mobility are surveyed in depth in this issue as we look at how Portugal took the crown to become the biggest bicycle producer in Europe (page 86) as it tapped into reshoring trends and changing commuting patterns that put the emphasis on two wheels – even if, ironically, Portugal remains a little slower on the switch from cars to bikes. And that Mini Moke isn’t the only tiny runaround in this issue. Our Europe editor at large, Ed Stocker, heads to Turin to see the factory producing the super-compact Microlino, a mini-EV that turns heads and allows owners to navigate bustling cities with relative ease (page 123). He even takes one for a test ride and – despite the temptation to pootle back home to Milan in it – actually returned it to the factory.

We’re never ones to shy away from a rousing manifesto and our Expo pages offer up a host of motivating ideas and enticements to do things differently (page 187). One entry is an encouragement to get a good haircut. It’s funny how easy it is to allow a passing moment to cloud your judgement, and it wasn’t so long ago that fashion retailers were contemplating the annihilation of anything vaguely formal. But, especially in Europe and Asia, there’s a return to the idea that looking the part, making a sartorial effort, is both good for your self-esteem and a signifier of manners, of caring about the impression you make on the people you meet. We also look at the potency of a good fragrance, as well as what happens when we traverse borders, join a team or simply head to the beach.

In other news, don’t forget that our latest book, Swim & Sun: A Monocle Guide is now available via monocle.com. It is packed with pools, beach clubs and lakeside dips that will definitely make you want to get out there.

As always, if you want to drop me an idea, find me at at@monocle.com. But now, go – get out of here.

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