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Wales

May 24th, 2014

I spent last week in Wales on a family holiday. Surprisingly this was my first ever visit to that land. It was very wet. This photo, I think, sums up my experience of Wales:

wet_scale

Never mind, at least we could spend time indoors doing puzzles. Oh, and down a slate mine! Unfortunately the damp had somehow penetrated through hundreds of feet of rock.

slate_scale

Fans of my previous mining activities will be pleased to learn that I furtively bagged a lump of slate from the mine.

Did have a couple of sunny days though: on one we visited the rather excellent Caernarfon Castle and on the other we ambled up Snowdon:

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Full set of holiday snaps below.

Rollright Stones

May 5th, 2014

I found out recently about another nearby stone circle called the Rollright Stones on the Oxfordshire/Warwickshire border. So with the weekend weather being particularly lovely I hastily planned an epic adventure to go visit them.


View Rollright Stones in a larger map

Just shy of 29 miles according to Google Maps which must be a personal record. Also passed through two counties, Gloucestershire and Warwickshire, previously undocumented on doof.me.uk. I had a really awesome day out, apart from a brief moment of despair around 4pm when I realised quite how far away Banbury was.

The stone circle itself was rather quaint, complete with a hippy in the centre. There are also a couple of nearby bonus stones, including the “Whispering Knights” which are either real knights turned to stone, or the remains of a burial chamber, depending who you believe.

rollright_stones

According to legend anyone who counts the stones three times and gets the same answer will have any wish granted. I counted once and made 72 but didn’t want to tempt fate.

Lots of photos below of the places I passed through. I especially like the cute stone villages in this part of the Cotswolds.

Helicopter Warning

May 4th, 2014

I don’t remember this sign from the highway code. Suspicious as it’s in a forest.

helicopter_scale

Cow Timer and Pig Whisk

April 26th, 2014

In the future, all kitchen utensils will be farmyard animal themed.

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Long Man

April 26th, 2014

Went for a walk along the South Downs last weekend with my parents. Having previously brought you several large chalk horses, doof.me.uk now presents a giant chalk man!

long_man_scale

Bit awkward to find a good viewing angle from the top of the hill.

Blurry Chinese Characters on Linux

April 21st, 2014

For future reference, this fixes all woes:

sudo apt-get install xfonts-wqy

UPDATE: a much better solution is to install a pretty TTF font and then make all the characters bigger.

sudo apt-get install fonts-wqy-zenhei fonts-wqy-microhei

Then create a file ~/.config/fontconfig/fonts.conf with the following contents:

<?xml version = "1.0"?>
<!DOCTYPE fontconfig SYSTEM "fonts.dtd">
<fontconfig>
  <match target="font">
    <test qual="any" name="family" compare="eq">
      <string>WenQuanYi Zen Hei</string>
    </test>
 
    <edit name="pixelsize" mode="assign">
      <times>
        <name>pixelsize</name>
        <double>1.5</double>
      </times>
    </edit>
  </match>
</fontconfig>

Oh yeah: am trying to learn some Chinese characters! Prompted by the arrival of an enormous Chinese phone at work.

Springy

April 18th, 2014

I went for an epic hike last Sunday in the Chilterns near Henley. I’m pondering applying for the London Marathon next year and as this was just shy of 25 miles I reckon that gives a firm 10 hour upper bound. Just need to repeat it again and again with increasing speed…


View Henley Ridgeway April 2014 in a larger map

One exciting event was the discovery of a lamb (pictured below) not in its enclosure! I promptly entered hero mode and located a nearby farmer who thankfully knew its owner. Apparently this wasn’t the first time it’s escaped…

Bedwyn

March 31st, 2014

I went for another walk on Saturday, this time through unexplored territory in Wiltshire. Caught a train to Bedwyn and then headed off through the Savernake Forest and then a really interesting (but windy!) ridge along the Pewsey Downs. Finally I headed north to Avebury, which I visited last year, via the West Kennet long barrow which is another of these ancient burial mounds; but with the exciting twist that you can go inside this one! I suspect the windows in the roof may be a more recent addition.


View Bedwyn 29/3/12 in a larger map

Although it was sunny it was a bit too hazy to take good photos. Nice area though: nearby Pewsey is train-accessible and I’m pondering a return visit to try crossing the Salisbury Plain. Stay tuned!

Incremental Improvement

March 30th, 2014

Did the Hastings Half Marathon last weekend in 1:33:51. A whole two minutes faster than last year!

result

Another fifteen years of this rate of improvement and I’ll be a winner…

Ancient Things

March 16th, 2014

My parents were visiting last weekend and we did lots of driving around in my car (see earlier!). Happened to coincide with a burst of unseasonably nice weather. Went to a couple of good places including the Didcot railway museum.

On the Saturday afternoon we journeyed way out west to White Horse Hill.

white_horse_scale

It’s got a giant chalk carving of a horse and the remains of an iron age hill fort. What more could you want! Avid readers might remember I travelled through here on the way to Swindon last year.

But there’s more! A mile or so down the path there’s this 4500 year old burial mound called Wayland’s Smithy. I don’t think the parents were too impressed. Still, I like it.

barrow_scale