October 18th, 2014
My previous visit to Staines generated quite some comment in the blogosphere. And now Staines has officially been renamed Staines-on-Thames surely it deserves a repeat visit?
It’s been wet and dreary here for weeks so rather than head off somewhere remote and exotic I decided last Sunday to walk from my house over to Staines-on-Thames. The only interesting thing I came across on the way was this monument to the Magna Carta at Runnymeade that I forgot to photograph last time.
Trivia time! When King John went to sign the Magna Carta he travelled from Odiham Castle which I visted a few months ago.
Staines seemed largely the same as before. The museum was still closed. But I did notice a poem on the side of the lino sculpture! It’s called “Release Every Pattern” by Richard Price and Leona Medlin and reproduced here for your perusal.
Roll out the lino
from Staines to the world!
Release every pattern
from chessboard to twirl!
In every hopeful kitchen
let life unfurl,
bathrooms are artrooms
from soapsuds to swirl!
Roll out the lino
from Staines to the world!
October 17th, 2014
I forgot to post some photos from a few weeks back. Here’s the Kennet and Avon canal near Midgham in Berkshire.
The canal stretches all the way from Reading to Bath. Might be fun to adventure along sometime. On this particular outing I walked north east to Pangbourne through a forest covered in conkers! ‘Tis the season.
September 21st, 2014
After a three year hiatus my work trips to Oslo have happily resumed. Our company recently moved into some office space at Fornebu just outside Oslo which is coincidentally quite near the Lysaker offices of my former employer. The office itself is inside a refurbished terminal building of the old Oslo airport. The new airport being inconveniently located about a zillion miles in the other direction.
The terminal is now a “hip” and “trendy” space for start-up offices with lots of “edgy” features like exposed pipes and half-finished stairwells. Definitely nicer than our grim London office.
Nearby is the massive headquarters of Norwegian state-owned oil company Statoil. It’s built like a huge Jenga tower: each of those blocks is three storeys high! Even stranger, underneath the blocks is a mix of brightly coloured panels and TV screens showing psychedelic videos. Nice to see some modern architecture that isn’t all glass and steel.
I managed to have a totally cashless trip using a combination of credit cards and this amazing pay-by-phone app called RuterBillet. You just pay for a bus ticket via the app then show the driver the “picture of the day” before the timer expires. I was very excited.
We stayed right in the centre of Oslo and I was up on the 27th floor with this totally awesome view over the train station and fjord. As usual everything in Olso was horrifically expensive: glad I’m not paying!
Here are some more photos I took during evening sightseeing:
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
September 4th, 2014
I love almost everything about this programme:
John Betjeman was a legend, although he was very wrong about Slough.
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.
August 12th, 2014
Can you spot it?! Near Turville in the Chilterns last weekend.
The grass is so dry! Or, it was until it started raining.
July 30th, 2014
The BBC today has an excellent article on stuffed dogs at railway station, including the beloved Station Jim of Slough:
Favourite quote from the article:
“Under the more corporate British Rail, they didn’t want things like dead dogs in stations,” says Tyson.
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!
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.
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.
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:
The white van was clearly guarding it. The occupants eyed me suspiciously.