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May 26th, 2014

You know when you’re aware of the existence of some famous place but have no idea where it is until you randomly stumble across it? Well that’s basically what happened to me with Chequers last weekend. Unfortunately the overt security presence stopped me getting any closer…



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:


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.


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:


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.

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.


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.


Cow Timer and Pig Whisk

April 26th, 2014

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


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!


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">
  <match target="font">
    <test qual="any" name="family" compare="eq">
      <string>WenQuanYi Zen Hei</string>
    <edit name="pixelsize" mode="assign">

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


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…

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…


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.

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!


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