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Swindon

September 8th, 2013

Ah, Swindon. Who hasn’t dreamed of visiting that mythical Wiltshire town? I know I certainly have since I started walking along the ridgeway last week. So armed with maps and ample supplies I returned by bus to where I’d left off last time and headed west.

It’s a primal landscape dotted with iron age hill forts and ancient burial mounds. In places fire and brimstone bursts forth from the earth:

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At one point I came across hundreds of people milling about in a field. Turns out this was a metal detecting convention. Occasionally they would stop and poke at the dirt a bit, but no treasure was forthcoming while I was there.

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To the north of the path is the “Vale of White Horse”, named after a giant white horse carved into the hillside by some iron age folk. For a local landmark it took quite some finding, and only onced I’d struggled up the hill did I notice the conveniently placed ancient viewing platform. So this photo doesn’t really demonstrate its horsey qualities:

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One of the highlights of the trip was this 5000 year old burial mound in a glade just off the path. It’s called Wayland’s Smithy and was honestly a little bit creepy. Especially as I was the only one in the area.

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After 20 or so miles I arrived on the edge of Swindon in a village called Wanborough. I didn’t fancy dashing over the dual carriageway and trudging through the outskirts of the town so instead I waited for a bus. Alarmingly a poster at the bus stop announced the imminent withdrawal of service. However the bus did eventually turn up and I was the only passenger for the entire trip, which perhaps explains its unprofitability.

On the way into Swindon the bus traversed one of the towns major landmarks: the Magic Roundabout. Now it wasn’t quite exciting as I’d expected, but that didn’t stop me taking a few snaps from the bus. I thought I heard the driver sniggering. If I were on Swindon council I would be promoting this as a tourist attraction, like Slough should have done with its bus station. There’s already a roundabout appreciation society who produce a mouse mat of this very junction so there is interest out there.

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Speaking of bus stations, Swindon’s bears an uncanny resemblance to Slough’s former, much maligned, Brunel bus station.

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Fun day out! Below are some more photos from my adventuring.

Where has the fish gone?

September 2nd, 2013

I was somewhat distraught on a recent visit to Eastbourne when I discovered the fish fountain described previously on these pages had disappeared! Not just the fish but the water feature and plinth had also vanished.

Alarmed, I emailed the Enterprise Centre and heard no response for several weeks. I became convinced that I had uncovered some dark fishy conspiracy. But today I received this wonderful news:

Dear Nick

Many thanks for your message. We love it too – the bronze fish is our
logo and we are giving it a brand new home. Our designers are currently
working on its new setting as it will be re positioned in our entrance
externally!!

Hope to see it in its new home very soon.

Best wishes

Denise

I will be investigating further the next time I’m in the area.

Ridgeway

August 31st, 2013

I went for an adventure this afternoon in the hitherto unexplored region north west of Reading. Started in the pleasant village of Streatley and headed in the general direction of Swindon along the “ridgeway” national trail. At first it was a little dull and plodding, the only interesting site being this memorial to a solider killed in a 1947 accident:

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Things improved somewhat after I crossed the A34. Still, it felt a unusually empty and desolate for southern England.

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A while later I realised I was in the middle of nowhere with no obvious route back to civilisation. So I made a rapid detour via this rather ominous looking facility that I later discovered was the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

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Eventually, and with the help of a well timed bus, I made it to Didcot. Didcot is not Oxfordshire’s prettiest town by a long margin. But at least I saw a steam train while I was waiting for the train back home:

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August Bank Holiday

August 30th, 2013

Went for a really long walk last Monday where I discovered the previously discussed tank-tractor. On the way back to Henley there was a really awesome sunset and I managed to take some nice photos with the trees silhouetted against the dramatic clouds.

Tractorg

August 30th, 2013

The latest innovation in farming combines both tank and tractor technology to make this wonderful machine:

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The farmer is surrounded by more screens than your average software developer. Although after a while he had to stop and poke about with the trailer in a rather low tech way.

Portland

August 25th, 2013

Went down to Portland near Weymouth the weekend before last to go camping and climbing and generally be outdoors-y. Here, our encampment!

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Where we went climbing on Saturday:

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Nice sunset sky in the evening.

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Growing

July 28th, 2013

Where does wheat come from? Today doof.me.uk can exclusively reveal that it grows on plants!

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Wheats have ears – they’re listening to you!!

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This Way

July 28th, 2013

I really liked how this old gate looked when I was out walking this afternoon.

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Caterpillars

July 28th, 2013

Very very hungry caterpillars. Saw these ones having some sort of conference on a plant between Henley and Greys Court this afternoon. Also a bee, a fly, and an unidentified red insectoid.

Creatures

July 21st, 2013

Furry. Looks friendly. Alas couldn’t figure out how to zoom in my phone’s camera before it scampered.

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Not furry. Looks alien. Do NOT approach! Figured out how to make my phone zoom in for this one. Digital zoom is totally not worth the effort. Are Nokia really the only ones innovating in this space? Should just take my regular camera everywhere…

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