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Archives for 2016

Seafront Sunset

December 31st, 2016

Coming back from visiting my gran on Wednesday I saw this epic sunset on Hastings seafront.

Notice that the pier is now rebuilt! So proud to be a shareholder. :-D Hope they can put some more stuff on it though.

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Mince Pie Results

December 25th, 2016

Yes I know it’s Christmas already but it’s not too late to share the results of our office mince pie survey.

In all 24 pies were sampled: a record! The best is Riverford organic pies but the Waitrose “all butter” and M&S “star” pies are decent too. Stock up now!

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Some Pigs and a Sunset

December 18th, 2016

Last Sunday I was feeling a little bit ill so didn’t feel like going for a full blown adventure. Instead I went for a walk along the Thames from Westminster to Greenwich. At the start it was packed with tourists and a bit annoying, but it soon thinned out and was quite pleasant.

Surrey Docks farm

About halfway I stumbled across Surrey Docks farm which is a fun little free city farm with some very cute piggies. I suddenly remembered I’d been there before, back in 2010 according to this blog.

Royal Naval college

The evening light in Greenwich was really good, and then we had this fantastic sunset. I took the boat back to the city centre which turned out to be a great idea as I took a lot of photos like this one.

Epic sunset

I keep recommending the “Thames Clipper” service to colleagues who visit London: it’s fast, cheap (you can use an Oyster card), and frequent – so much better than the tourist boats. They should give me some commission…


December 10th, 2016

I went for a longish walk through the Chilterns last weekend, which was the first time I’d been there in quite a while. It was incredibly cold but was worth it because the sky was so clear and blue.

Power lines in a field near Princes Risborough

I walked from the train station in Princes Risborough to the station in Henley. Two good endpoints but the route I chose between them wasn’t particularly good. I followed the Ridgeway national trail for that long straight section, but unfortunately it was a bit boring as it was just a sunken track at the base of the hills with little scenery. I wasn’t totally sure if I’d done this section before, but at least now I can say I have…

Woods on Swyncombe Down

It would have been a rather ordinary adventure except for one very important innovation: I’m currently trialling Huel as a food source for my expeditions. Huel is a nutritionally complete meal replacement drink that comes in powdered form. You just add water, shake in this beaker, down as quickly as possible, and then continue exploring.

Food of the future

The taste isn’t great, but that’s not the point. It means I don’t have to faff with making or buying sandwiches and I can easily carry several meals worth of Huel powder. I haven’t suffered any ill effects yet so all very promising!

Sunset near Maidensgrove

I figured I’d be practising my nighttime navigation skills again but it got darker even earlier than I expected. So I had about an hour and half stumbling around with my head torch on. Did make me feel like a real explorer though!

Autumn Leaves

November 27th, 2016

Last Sunday was a beautifully sunny day so I decided to do my favourite local walking trail, the Beeches Way. In reverse this time.

I did this in December last year and it was a decidedly grey and damp. But not today, the autumn colours were out in force!

Yellow tree in Black Park

Yellow tree in Black Park

The walk itself was fairly uneventful, I know the route now so didn’t need to faff with a map. Arguably it works better east to west, finding somewhere to buy lunch is a bit more logistically challenging.

Oak tree at Fulmer

Oak tree at Fulmer

As I was hurrying to catch a rail replacement bus in Cookham I caught a glimpse of the Super Moon. I thought to myself “tomorrow I’ll definitely go out and take a picture of that”. But the next two days were completely overcast and I’ll have to wait 19 years for it to return.

Andover to Petersfield

November 20th, 2016

While I was off work for a while in October I went for a multi-day adventure to the South Downs, and stayed over in Winchester. I lived in Winchester for a year about 10 years ago, while I was working for IBM. It’s a great place to live, but I didn’t do too much exploring of the surroundings while I was there. So this time I walked from Andover, via IBM’s campus at Hursley, to Winchester. And the next day from Winchester to Andover.

The photo below from the top of St Catherine’s hill to the south of Winchester. You can just about see my old house in the distance.

Just outside Winchester

Just outside Winchester

I followed the South Downs way for good deal of the second day. It was quite busy with other walkers, which is quite unusual for my adventures. The scenery was pleasant and the weather really cleared up in the afternoon.

South Downs Way

South Downs Way

Because I spent a long time faffing about in Winchester before I set off, when the sun started to set I was still miles away from Andover. Still, I managed to watch this nice sunset from the top of a hill whose name I forgot.

Sunset on South Downs

Sunset on South Downs

I did the last three or four miles in complete darkness, which was quite exciting and I only got slightly lost. Although by the time I arrived in Andover around 8:30 I’d rather had enough of it.

Battle of Hastings

November 10th, 2016

This October was the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. Every year some enthusiastic amateurs dress up to reenact the battle on the original battlefield. I haven’t been since I was about 12 but went again this year with my mum as it was the “biggest ever” battle. Presumably they meant since 1066.

Some Normans

Some Normans

I don’t think we picked the best place to watch from, as we mostly just saw the backs of the Normans, but it was still fun, and everyone knows what happens anyway.

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Witney to Moreton-in-Marsh

November 5th, 2016

It’s been a while since I visited the Cotswolds. Partly because I thought it was rather inaccessible from where I live now. But recently I discovered there’s an “express bus” called the Oxford Tube that goes from Hillingdon to Oxford in about an hour. So I gave that a try and it was a surprisingly pleasant experience. And from Oxford I got another bus to David Cameron’s constituency of Witney.

Witney is pretty much exactly how you would expect DC’s dominion to look. Very elegant market town with some very middle class people. Has a good sandwich shop too.

Crawley where I had lunch

Crawley where I had lunch

By the time I left Witney it was nearly 11am so I didn’t actually have much time to explore. I took a fairly boring route north-west and ended up following the Oxford-Worcester railway line to Moreton-in-Marsh. A bit of it was familiar from my epic adventure to Banbury a few years ago.

Some typical scenery

Some typical scenery

As usual for this time of year I ended up having to do the last few miles in the dark. With a torch it was quite fun though and sneaking past some nighttime harvesters made it a bit interesting.


October 28th, 2016

Here’s a bit of an oddity: going for an adventure on a weekday. I’ve taken a few weeks off work as I’d accumulated a lot of annual leave and wanted to make the most of the good weather. I also wanted to fix a few things in my flat, which turned out to be a bad idea: DIY is not something I should be allowed near. Never mind, I’m sure the builder will be able to sort it out…

Oak tree outside High Wycombe

Oak tree outside High Wycombe

I went for a fairly aimless wander from northwest from High Wycombe to link up with a section of the Ridgeway trail and then looped back to the little country train station at Saunderton.

Not the most ambitious exploration, but the area was lovely and the weather was actually the best we’ve had all month.

Hill above Saunderton

Hill above Saunderton


October 26th, 2016

Changshu is a fun little day-trip from Suzhou. I went on a Sunday in between two weeks of working. It’s a small city about 50km northwest of Suzhou, and you can get there easily on a long distance bus which takes an hour. The name 常熟 is a bit funny: it means something like “often ripe”! Anyway there’s three principle attractions: a pagoda, a big hill, and a classical garden. There’s also a scenic lake a little way out of town but I didn’t have time to visit.

Aforementioned pagoda

Aforementioned pagoda

It’s quite a long walk from the bus station to the “cultural” area – maybe it would have been better to take a taxi. But anyway, this is the pagoda, called 方塔 or “square tower”, presumably because all the levels have a square shape rather than usual octagon shape. There are some surrounding gardens to wander around, but there are better classical gardens to visit in Suzhou, and indeed in Changshu.

You have to pay around 10元 extra for a going-up-the-pagoda ticket. I think I’ve written before about my disappointment in pagodas where you’re only allowed to go up to the third or fourth floor, but in this one you’re able to go to the very top! Though you can’t go outside above the fourth floor.

The next attraction I visited was the huge hill to the west of the city called Yushan 虞山.


On top of the hill

The walk up to the top was surprisingly long and with little of interest apart from the old city walls. The view from the top was quite good though. The Wikipedia article claims there are “18 scenerys” that can be seen in the area. I don’t think I counted that many, but there’s some tombs, a large temple, and this observation rock.

The land around is all very flat, being in the plain south of the Yangtze river. The hill seems to be a bit of a geological oddity. It’s a shame the day was so hazy, otherwise you could probably see a very long way.

I took a taxi back down to the city because I couldn’t be bothered to walk, which turned out to be a good idea because the driver told me I ought to visit another attraction I had previously overlooked, 燕园 “Yan garden”.


Yan garden

It’s another classical Chinese garden, but a very nice example of one. It was very quiet in the late afternoon, which made it peaceful to walk around. Best bit was this rock formation in the centre with little tunnels you can crouch through.

I took the scenic route back to the bus station, past these old houses next to a canal which are typical of the traditional architecture in the area.


Heading back to the bus station