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February 27th, 2023

I went for an uneventful walk to Shepreth just south of Cambridge via Granchester Meadows. There was really nothing to report: I’m just recording it here for posterity. But here’s a nice bridge over a ditch:

Kings Lynn to Hunstanton

January 29th, 2023

Ever since my previous outing to Kings Lynn I’ve been itching to try to get all the way to the coast. I decided to head for Hunstanton and get the bus back but there didn’t seem to be an obvious path along the coast. Thankfully I Googled around a bit and found this very helpful post by someone who’d done the same route. Apparently there really is no public right of way and the sea wall is surrounded by menacing PRIVATE KEEP OUT signs. Being of a rather timid disposition and not wanting to get caught trespassing I decided to take the inland route, basically the one described in the last comment. That went through Sandringham (I didn’t bump into the king) and from there out to the sea.

Hunstanton’s claim to fame is that it’s the only town in the east of England where you can watch the sun set over the sea. And I was very lucky on this incredibly clear winter day to experience exactly that!

The sun setting over the sea, a rare sight in East Anglia

As for the town itself it seemed to have all the usual seaside attractions. However I would not recommend visiting after dark in January.

New NVC version 1.8.0

January 22nd, 2023

This is a major new release with many improvements and bug fixes, especially for VHDL-2008 features.

Download: nvc-1.8.0.tar.gz

This release is signed with my PGP key ID 74319F1A: nvc-1.8.0.tar.gz.sig

  • The --disable-opt and --native elaborate options which were deprecated in version 1.3 have been removed.
  • The JSON dumper which was unmaintained for several years has been removed.
  • VHDL-2019 mode can be enabled with --std=2019. Please note there is very limited support for this standard at present.
  • The new --no-save elaboration option skips saving the elaborated design and other generated files to the working library.
  • Added support for else and elsif in generate statements (#510).
  • Xilinx Vivado vendor libraries can now be compiled with nvc --install vivado.
  • LLVM 8.0 or later is now required due to deprecation of non-opaque pointers.
  • Altera/Intel Quartus vendor libraries can now be compiled with nvc --install quartus.
  • The nvc --version output now includes the commit hash if built from a Git checkout.
  • The new --gtkw run option writes a .gtkw save file for GtkWave containing all the signals in the design (suggested by @amb5l).
  • libffi is now a build-time dependency.
  • Negation of the smallest negative value of a type such as -integer'left now produces an error.
  • Default OSVVM version updated to 2022.11.
  • case .. generate statements are now supported in VHDL-2008.
  • Coverage implementation was reworked and now collects statement, branch, expression and toggle metrics (from @Blebowski).
  • The --make command is deprecated and will be repurposed in a later release. Use the new --print-deps command instead to generate Makefile dependencies.

Special thank you to @bpadalino, @tmeissner, @Blebowski, and @amb5l for sponsoring me!

Kings Lynn

January 9th, 2023

I recently continued my journey north from Ely towards the sea, ending at the port of Kings Lynn (although it isn’t exactly next to the sea). I split it into three smaller walks using the convenient railway line that runs down to Cambridge. Although you could do it in in one very long day, the challenge would be more mental than physical owing to the interminably flat and featureless fen landscape.

Typical fenland scenery

There were a few highlights along the way though like this ruined church at Wiggenhall St Peter, and the lock and pumping station near Downham Market where I learned about the “gentlemen adventurers” who drained fens and fought with the local fen folk and their geese.

Remains of the church at Wiggenhall St Peter

My mum told me Kings Lynn was rubbish and not worth visiting but I found the quayside very picturesque. There’s plenty of information boards explaining the town’s history as a port and whaling hub, and its subsequent decline with the coming of the railways. I think I’ll come back again for a final push to the sea. Onwards!

Kings Lynn port

Beeches Way

December 10th, 2022

I made a return visit to Berkshire last weekend to do one of my favourite walks, the Beeches Way between Cookham and West Drayton on the outskirts of London. On the way there I got to ride of the Elizabeth line for the first time ever which was super exciting. Only ten years late?

Leaf-strewn path near the start at Cookham

Near Fulmer, it was cloudy nearly all day

Inflation Out Of Control

November 30th, 2022

Food price inflation is out of control. Although the effects seem to be somewhat uneven, as we can see from this egregious example in Tesco.

Plain hobnobs for £2.25 a pack. It’s obscene but…

Chocolate hobhobs are only £1.90 a pack!

For reference plain hobnobs used to cost something like 70p not so long ago.

And before you comment that the chocolate packet is smaller, the chocolate hobhobs are still cheaper per gram!!! It’s as if the plain hobnobs are produced by getting some poor sod to scrape off the chocolate layer from the chocolate hobnobs. What is the world coming to!

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Ely Cathedral

November 28th, 2022

I’ve been meaning to go back to Ely ever since I walked there a month or so ago but arrived after dark. Well I finally did this weekend and went inside the cathedral, and very impressive it is too!

It seems a bit silly having enormous cathedral in such a tiny town (one of England’s smallest). You can see it from miles around too owing to the fens being completely flat. The entrance ticket is a pretty reasonable £8.50: take that, York Minster!

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RH&DR Again

November 6th, 2022

It was my birthday last weekend so we took my niece for her first ever trip on the Romney, Hythe, and Dymchurch railway which has been feature multiple times previously on this blog.

The train is indeed minature

It rained a lot in the morning but still a great day out. And I found something interesting! Here we see an earlier version of your correspondent standing next to engine number 12 in the distant past:

Around 1988 ish

And in exactly the same location, here’s number 12 again! (It’s the same engine, I asked, they just painted it black at some point.)

2022, note the platform refurbishment

Restoring the old Mu4e message view look and feel

October 30th, 2022

I’ve used mu4e as an email client for several years now and by and large I’m happy with it. However one big change with the 1.8 release was the switch from the “old” message view to the new one based on Gnus article mode. Functionally it’s fine but I did prefer the look and feel of the old message view. Despair not, as Gnus is sufficiently customisable that we can tweak it to look almost the same.

First we do the easy bit which is just setting the font-lock highlighting to match the old message view:

(use-package gnus
  (gnus-signature ((t (:inherit font-lock-comment-face))))
  (gnus-header-name ((t (:inherit message-header-name :weight bold))))
  (gnus-header-from ((t (:inherit font-lock-variable-name-face))))
  (gnus-header-subject ((t (:inherit font-lock-type-face))))
  (gnus-header-content ((t (:inherit font-lock-type-face))))
  (gnus-cite-attribution ((t (:inherit default))))

(I’m using the excellent use-package.)

These aren’t strictly the same as the original message view, but I prefer them to Gnus default of multiple subtly different shades of blue:

(gnus-cite-1 ((t (:foreground "light salmon"))))
(gnus-cite-2 ((t (:foreground "turquoise"))))
(gnus-cite-3 ((t (:foreground "light goldenrod"))))
(gnus-cite-4 ((t (:foreground "chartreuse2"))))

Mu4e used to highlight some of the header fields in different faces:

(add-to-list 'gnus-header-face-alist '("To" nil font-lock-variable-name-face))
(add-to-list 'gnus-header-face-alist '("Reply-To" nil font-lock-variable-name-face))
(add-to-list 'gnus-header-face-alist '("Cc" nil font-lock-variable-name-face))

Restore the previous sort order for header fields:

(setq gnus-sorted-header-list '("^From:" "^To:" "^Reply-To:" "^Cc:" "^Subject:"
                                "^Flags:" "^Summary:" "^Keywords:" "^Newsgroups:"
                                "^Followup-To:" "^Date:" "^Organization:"))

Highlight the >, >>, etc. at the start of quote lines in addition to the quoted text itself (this really bothered me for some reason):

(defun filter-gnus-cite-args (args)
  "Replace PREFIX argument with the empty string."
  (setf (cadr args) "")
(advice-add 'gnus-cite-add-face :filter-args 'filter-gnus-cite-args)

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Cambridge to Ely

October 23rd, 2022

Another surprise relocation! I’ve moved to Cambridge after being turfed out of my parents’ home. Earlier this month I set off northwards on an initial exploration towards the city of Ely.

I ended up doing this over two days due to illness (not covid) but still I somehow didn’t manage to arrive in Ely until after dark so I didn’t really see anything of England’s third smallest city.

Oh, how flat and featureless the fens are! Flat terrain can sometimes be interesting to walk through if there’s some navigation challenges or other obstacles (see my recent adventures on the Romney marsh) but as I was along this river for most of the journey the middle section after leaving Cambridge was really boring. The scenery picked up a little bit towards the end though when I could see Ely cathedral in the distance from miles away.