31 August 2012

What a busy (and interesting) landscape

...driving back from Marwell Zoo, and a visit to my father in Winchester I felt sleepy - as a precaution I pulled over at the next exit and parked up in a small carpark adjacent to the A34 (location)

Turn here for Beacon Hill

What a surprise and what a treat - so much going on (or has gone on in this landscape).

View toward Watership Down

Highlights for me were:

  • The view over to Watership Down (of book and development protest fame) and north to the Ridgeway and Highclere Castle.
Highclere Castle from Beacon Hill

  • The vine filled calcareous woodland (pretty much the whole UK gamut of native creepers)
  • The open grassland with so many unusual plants - most of which I recognise and some of which I can name.  Also non-standard trees/shrubs - juniper, privetbuckthornwayfaring tree and whitebeam.  Contrary to the Wikipedia entry there are yew  and ash present in the scrub - but I don't feel confident to make an update.
Wild Juniper - lots of berries - but why is it claimed to be "not regenerating" (reasons here possibly)

Grave of George Herbert 5th Earl of Carnarvon

It is all pretty much explained in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beacon_Hill,_Burghclere,_Hampshire

A recommended stop - especially if it means that you miss the Oxford rush hour - 60 minutes on Beacon Hill or 60 minutes stationary in your car?  No contest.

Next time I am going to stop at Seven Barrows field where  Sir Geoffrey de Havilland made his first successful test flight on 10 September 1910.

30 August 2012

Another Year, Another Trip to Cadbury World...

Having fun with Uncle David and Grandy at Cadbury World
"Dear David
I liked the jungle and the Spanish and the pirates going on the ship and thinking it was sheep droppings. I liked getting lots and lots of chocolate!
Thank you very much for taking us,"

27 August 2012

Busman's Bank Holiday

I was going to run the Moel Fammau Mountain Race in North Wales - but severe weather warnings and bank holiday traffic meant that I wimped out instead and went to the local Bus Museum
It seems that severe weather is now the standard for late August bank holiday.

On arrival at the event car park I asked "is it possible to walk from here", "well yes, but there is a bus""I am happy to walk rather than wait""A bus will be along in a couple of minutes" ...ahh, oops, my bad - the vintage bus went three and a half sides of a square to get to the site of the Museum and the

"30th birthday of the National Association of Road Transport Museums - buses from all over the country will provide a dazzling display with chances to grab a ride on one or two!"

An interesting demographic - plenty of "Under 10's" and "Over 60's" but not many in between.  There seemed to be lots stalls, patronized by older gentlemen in search of 'photographs"

Black and White Bus Photos @ 80p per seemed popular
I thing the bonnet badges/hood ornaments were nice

Nothing new under the sun - Birmingham Corporation had a hybrid electric vehicle in 1913 and beating the Toyota Prius by 84 years

Fancy going on a tour to Rome in this bus - in 1950 it was booked to take a party of nuns on a Holy Year pilgrimage, if you include being winched onto and off the ferry it too 18 days there and back.

The first model-T bus on (The Isle of) Lewis - delivered to the current owner's uncle (or possibly great uncle) as just a chassis and engine the cab and passenger accommodation was put together by a local fishing boat builder.  Several more were constructed in the same way - but this was the first.  A long trip down to Birmingham (600 miles according to Google)
Our school bus was a Bluebird - took me to my first every orienteering race in spring 1975 - though I doubt if it started its life in Aberdeen.

I used to work in Keynsham - so I stuck my head inside for a look at 969 EHW and there was...

John Toms - senior tradesman from Somerdale Factory - with whom I worked in the 1990's

Another coincidence.

26 August 2012

We hope you enjoy your Avro Vulcan XH558 AAPP Oxy Bottle..

It was time for my annual donation to XH558 - by bidding against others up to my normal donation limit it is a win-win situation. 

If I don't win I force some poor soul to pay a lot for his bit of aviation history and XH558 still gets my donation. 

If I do win - then XH558 still gets my donation and I get...

Congratulations, it's all yours.


We hope you enjoy your Avro Vulcan XH558 AAPP Oxy Bottle.. The next step is to pay. Pay now to get your item as quickly as possible...

25 August 2012

Port and Starbucks

Hundreds of Pigeons Disapear in the North East...

..but I know where one ended up:

Hundreds of Pigeons Disappear in the North East...

I work this morning to the news that

"An area of sky above the North East is being dubbed "the Bermuda Triangle" after hundreds of racing pigeons vanished.
More than 230 homing pigeons were released in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, with an end destination of Galashiels in Scotland, but only 13 arrived.
Now some North East pigeon fanciers say they will no longer send their birds on this route because of the large proportion of pigeons which have gone missing.
A variety of reasons for this series of disappearances have been touted - some say it is to do with "unusually high levels of solar activity distorting magnetic fields" and some say it is because of unseasonal rainfall which has confused the birds." (BBC)

 On my way to the opticians I came across a pigeon - sitting, forlorn and exhausted on the pavement.  It was still there on the way back.  On approach it made an attempt to get away - but repeatedly tumbled over.  Noticing that it has an ID and a race rings it was clear this was a racing pigeon.  The BBC advice was to take lost and exhausted pigeons in give them food and water and contact your local pigeon fancier.

What to do - contact the Lost Pigeon Service

Sadly I was too late - GB12 L 23437 is now an ex-pigeon.  I have sent a message to the Royal Racing Pigeon Association (who run the GB registry) who will contact the owner.

Given the find location and even not with any outward sign of injury - I think it likely this pigeon came into contact with a car.

Another backward step Mr Garmin

In the old days (2003-2008) you connected your GPS to your computer with a cable - originally serial RS232 and more recently USB.  This worked fine.  Drop the GPS into the cradle, hit upload and then wait 10 seconds and it is all done.

Now however Garmin have this fantasy that you walk into your house after a refreshing run, your Garmin GPS automatically pairs with your Garmin ANT stick and before you have taken more than a step across the threshold all your run data is uploaded, via your PC, to the internet.

An ANT USB Stick - Garmin Flavour

Does not work.  So does not work.  I spent hours searching the web and this revealed many folks having no end of trouble with wireless transfer.  "Leave it next to your PC go and have a shower and, hopefully, when you get back the upload will be complete".  I tried all of the fixes, rebooting, uninstalling, reinstalling*, upgrading, forcing upload (start and stop and reset your GPS) - no luck - and then on an obscure site there was a mention of "interference".  But surely not - ANT is designed to be robust and to laugh at interference...

310XT - strong but silent. Data goes in but it doesn't come out

*Did I mention you that the web page listed in the documentation that comes with the 310XT directs the purchaser to download drivers from a page that Garmin no longer maintains - you just get a 404.

According to the ANT website

"Reliability and Dependability

ANT has several mechanisms to protect against interference including the unique adaptive channel synchronization technique, as well as frequency agility. On a given frequency, more than 100 ANT channels can co-exist harmoniously within the vicinity."

Well Mr ANT  my 2.4GHz wireless router, DECT phone and HP printer get along just fine but the only way I can get my ANT stick to discover my Garmin GPS (310XT) is to turn everything wireless off and then do something like this... 

Yes - if I shield GPS and receiver inside my Trangia kettle and Cookset and put both lids on - the devices will pair and transfer data - but still VERY SLOWLY
What was wrong with wires?

by the way - the 310XT is excellent - just let down by connectivity

24 August 2012

Apparently my head looks like this German Island

This is Sylt (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sylt) where my young friend Noah (~5 years old) has just been for a family holiday.
and on observing my, somewhat sparse, tonsiorial thatch said "your head looks like Sylt!".

 Interesting - a 40 kilometre sand island, having outline reminiscent of the business end of a winghead shark.  Surreal think I, incorrect think I and then it is clear....

Noah is making reference to the marram grass dune systems found on the western margins

My Ammophila Arenaria haircut

19 August 2012

August Sunday

It is August and I should be making the most of the weather and the daylight but I can't move having run two (yes two) ARDF races on Saturday, so it is a day at home in Bournville (wake up and smell the chocolate)...

There is a Nuthatch 2 metres from me and, yes, that is an inertia reel safety belt (Citroen CX 1990)

and he/she can't hear me, see me, touch me, smell me (almost a Tommy reference there - I did enjoy the Olympics closing ceremony - despite what some of my Facebook friends said about Jessie J (strapping lass) and the Pinball Wizard intro is hard to beat

I went away to the Olympics and then directly to Hungary - on return my house is strangely clammy and humid  - so out comes the datalogger - yes 80% relative humidity is definitely not right, sensor in the kitchen says it is only 56% outside so 80% inside needs an explanation

Way back in May (HOC event at Brown Clee) Uncle Robert gave me his tiny "runt" tomato plant - now it is an eight foot Triffid

Uncle Robert departs the start at Brown Clee

Isn't England nice in May - I know why the Boynes chose this spot for home.

I met the Old Viscount at a Harlequins Orienteering Event - he was explaining to some children how, on his mother's side, his great-great-etc.-great grandfather had fought at the Battle of Hastings, with William, and in reward had been offered land in The Marches (to defend against the Welsh) and upon seeing the view from the slopes of Brown Clee decided "this is the spot".  We are very fortunate to be able to visit the estate every year or two - if I am lucky I have 10 visits remaining.  It is (almost) my favourite place in the world.

anyway here is the Tomato Giant in its new home

And the immediate effect on house humidity - back below 60% and into the comfort-not-clammy zone. Who would have though less than a kg of plant could have such an effect.

and all this for just three tomatoes: a bit worried the shock of going outside will do for my plant - there are not many fruits yet but lots of flowers (and now I understand about the toothbrush trick) - so I have attached RD&Q's* €450 MSR logger - to track temperature, humidity, pressure and acceleration (though frankly I am not expecting much rapid movement from Mr Tomato)
*Research, Development and Quality - but when the going gets tough they still call for an Engineer (posting to follow on the subject of "Cracking Biscuits in Székesfehérvár)

Gyori Keks in Székesfehérvár - the man from Cadbury is here, and yes the biscuits were cracking (in the Wallace & Gromit sense, not physically ) - meaning "excellent" - these folks really know how to make a biscuit.

and to finish off the day - Dr Who A Christmas Carol which is a whole lot better on second viewing - such clever dialogue and so many cultural references.  In 50 years (nearly) of Dr Who my two (three really) favourite companions - The Pond-Williams'es (Amy and Rory) and Romana 1 (sadly a recent, and young, death)

16 August 2012

Rough by name, rough by nature

Rough by name and rough by nature
It is the last race in our summer league and the organiser warns:

"Rough Wood to North is old historic woodland previously mined. Complex path network. Competitors advised to avoid fight, walk, undergrowth areas so straight line may not be optimum route, but no controls used in difficult areas. Checked out early August.
South is Bentley Haye, planted reclaimed land. Some fight and walk but open areas runnable but often soggy"

Well it was a bit rough (it is August after all) and the controls were fair and I am now Harlequins Winter and Summer league champion.  I first won the summer league in 1996 - we orienteers have all grown old together and, almost, no one has come into the sport to push us oldsters down the results lists.  A 50 year old jogger should not be winning.   It is even worse in Radio Orienteering where 50% of the competitors in the Netherlands championships are over 60 years old

Harlequins Winter and Summer League Trophies
The controls are fixed permanent posts - so Barry cannot be blamed for the positioning of #21 nor the fact that the fence is now inside the woodland and there seems to be a set of isolated fence posts even further inside the wood: