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Piggies Ahoy

September 14th, 2014

Last Sunday I went adventuring in the downs near Newbury. Obsessive fans of this blog may remember I last visited Newbury five years ago but I only did minor exploring of the surrounding countryside.

The highlight of the whole trip was when I unexpectedly stumbled upon a large encampment of friendly piggies! The piggies came in three varieties: tiny; medium; and gargantuan. Here we see examples of the first and third categories:

piggy1_scale

The little piglets are soo cute! Also the most energetic: the big piggies are mostly sleeping off their dinner. Alarmingly the piglets are able to wander out onto the footpath. Presumably the farmer is aware.

piggy2_scale

The elusive medium sized piggy! For some unknown reason there are far fewer of this sized piggy than the other two. Suspect negative correlation with the availability of bacon in the vicinity.

piggy3_scale

Here’s where I went: it’s in an area called the “North Wessex Downs”. I wandered along a river valley for a bit then over the M4 into the downland which feels incredibly deserted for the south of England.


View Newbury Downs in a larger map

Some typical scenery in the area:

downs_scale

As always happens at this time of the year, I totally forgot it gets dark before 9pm now and ended up arriving back in Newbury after sunset. Lucky I packed my super awesome LED torch! It was really atmospheric at Donnington Castle above the town with a full moon and the lights in the distance. I tried to take a decent photo with an improvised tripod but the results were a bit disappointing.

night_scale

Metroland

September 4th, 2014

I love almost everything about this programme:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00cyyqw/metroland

John Betjeman was a legend, although he was very wrong about Slough.

Swindon Mini Adventure

August 25th, 2014

I’ve wanted to re-walk the western half of the Ridgeway national trail for ages but the weather has either been too hot or too wet. This Saturday the weather looked good but the trains were plagued by engineering works. So I decided I’d make it into more of an adventure by having a mini holiday in Swindon! Sadly there wasn’t much tourism to be had on a Friday night in Swindon, but at least the last minute hotel was cheap and I got an early start the next morning on my thirty mile epic:


View Swindon to Goring in a larger map

I got the bus to Wanborough where I’d finished up on a previous adventure and then walked to Goring pretty much exactly following the trail. It was a totally epic day out, apart from the bit where it rained, and that didn’t last long.

Near the end I passed the first few people running the 2014 Ridgeway Challenge which does the whole 86 miles in one go in the other direction. Nutters. Also, slightly, wow.

Windmill

August 12th, 2014

Can you spot it?! Near Turville in the Chilterns last weekend.

windmill_scale

The grass is so dry! Or, it was until it started raining.

dry_scale

More on Stuffed Dogs

July 30th, 2014

The BBC today has an excellent article on stuffed dogs at railway station, including the beloved Station Jim of Slough:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-28420246

Favourite quote from the article:

“Under the more corporate British Rail, they didn’t want things like dead dogs in stations,” says Tyson.

Odiham Castle

July 27th, 2014

I happened to be on a work related expedition to Hook near Basingstoke last Tuesday and since it was such a nice day I decided to go exploring once I was done. So I drove a little bit south to visit Odiham Castle!

odiham_scale

As ruined castles go, this one is pretty good, with informative information boards aplenty. Apparently it was the place when the king set off to sign the Magna Carta and later was besieged by the French!

The nearby canal is quite pleasant although blocked by an impassable tunnel.

Cheltenham

July 19th, 2014

A few weekends ago I set off on another expedition to explore westwards through Gloucestershire. This time I walked from Kingham in Oxfordshire to Cheltenham.


View Cheltenham in a larger map

Around lunchtime I got to Bourton-on-the-Water which proudly claims to be the “Venice of the Cotswolds”. This seems a little extravagant: there’s one small stream running through the middle of the village. The little bridges over it are quite cute but whole place is just a little bit too twee.

venice_maybe_scale

I had some vague plan of visiting the Cheltenham “Banksy” (the one with the spies around the phone booth) but it turns out I was a week too late, it having been covered up prior to removal to London:

banksy_scale

The white van was clearly guarding it. The occupants eyed me suspiciously.

Can’t Spell Funicular Without “Fun”

June 27th, 2014

I’m so overcome with excitement I can’t even hold the camera straight!

fun_scale

While visiting my parents last weekend to help clean out my room.

Henley to Oxford (Second Attempt)

June 27th, 2014

I tried unsuccessfully to walk all the way from Henley to Oxford last October. So now with peak daylight I had another go the weekend before last – and I made it this time!


View Henley to Oxford in a larger map

The section after the point were I gave up last time was a bit naff. There’s probably a better route keeping to the east, in the unlikely event anyone reading this is considering following the above.

It was sadly overcast the for the whole day which meant I didn’t take many good photos. Here’s a very overgrown path through a field:

overgrown_scale

Sticking with Firefox 24

June 20th, 2014

Oh dear. I unwittingly updated to Firefox/Iceweasel 29 in Debian testing. What a mistake! My Firefox setup has remained basically the same since the 3.5 days with a nice unobtrusive layout where I have the menu, navigation buttons, and the address bar in one strip and the tabs below. Despite hours of hair pulling there’s no way to get anything remotely satisfactory with the new UI, even with the “Classic Theme Restorer” addon.

Panic not! It’s possible to just stick with the stable 24.4 version from Debian wheezy! For future reference, this needs to go into /etc/apt/sources.list:

deb [arch=amd64] http://security.debian.org/ wheezy/updates main

Then do this:

sudo apt-get install -t wheezy iceweasel
sudo apt-mark hold iceweasel