Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Revision, allotmenting & an amazing rainbow

Recent days have been very similar. Wake around 4:30 to 5:00, start work by 5:30. Work till lunchtime, creating very short revision notes (currently for PH400), lunch, more revision till mid-afternoon, then go to the allotment for a few hours physical effort to clear the head - still re-doing the fencing, very slow and hard work.

Tonight I got back from the allotment around 7:30. The sun was low over Hinton and there was a huge rain storm leading to just about the most perfect double rainbow I have ever seen. Photographing rainbows is always a challenge for correct exposure and getting the focusing right (can't use auto focus as the camera can't see the rainbow - not enough contrast). I remember long before digital cameras, wasting two rolls of film on a rainbow. Some very odd comments from the place I got the photos developed.

Years ago, when we lived in Stoke Newington in London, Linda's mum once rang us up to ask if we could see the beautiful rainbow that she could then see. Given that she lived 10 miles away, this was somewhat odd - still one of my favourite mother-in-law stories though!

The pictures below are by far the most successful rainbow pictures I have ever taken - shame I don't have a wide enough angle lens to get it all in

Monday, 20 April 2009

Three Days in Wales

After a couple of very busy months, we have finally managed to sort out a few days break. Our chosen venue is the Parva Farmhouse in Tintern. We last visited here in 1996 just after I joined Imperial. It is a small guesthouse/hotel but we did have fond memories of our previous visit. Plans to go further down the coast (with perhaps a visit to Skomer) were dropped as Linda just wanted to crash out somewhere and not have to drive too far.

So a leisurely drive through the south cotswolds towards Cheltenham and Gloucester and eventually to Ross-on-Wye. A wander round leads us to a really good secondhand bookshop where I am forced to buy half a dozen books, including the first volume of Bertrand Russell's Autobiography which becomes my holiday reading. A further stop in Monmouth then down to Tintern by mid-afternoon.

There turns out to be another really good secondhand bookshop just down the road from the guesthouse and it has some great stuff in it but is far too expensive - but I nearly buy a volume of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science series on Carnap, sold off stock from Swansea University

We are booked in for dinner, bed and breakfast so don't have to travel out again in the evening. We have an excellent meal with a really nice South American red wine.

Friday is to be our walking day so we have a big breakfast and then head off to drive to a tiny village near Brecon. In theory we were supposed to be doing a horseshoe walk round a valley but we make a mistake in directions early in the walk and end up on the valley floor instead of the flat top. The weather isn't great and the low cloud covering the top would have been a tricky navigating problem, so perhaps it is just as well that we don't know the correct way. Lots of nice forest views for photographs though.

We are back at the guesthouse mid afternoon for reading, snoozes and hot baths before our second really good dinner. Linda is noticeably more relaxed which is no bad thing.

Saturday is our return trip and we have a leisurely drive back stopping in Burford. We rarely get away for a weekend - hopefully this has done Linda lots of good!

The River Wye from the guesthouse car park

Tintern Abbey

Some of the new born lambs on the way to our walk

The first waterfall

Linda looking well wrapped up against the weather

The biggest waterfall encountered

Above the waterfalls - in the valley

Just before we realised we were on the wrong path!

A fisherman was fishing from the point where the river enters the reservoir and caught a 1lb trout while we watched

Forest Photos

Over the years I have taken hundreds of photos in woods - perhaps my favourite photo location. Here are the best of the ones I took on our recent walk in Wales. On the whole, I was very pleased with these and some are likely to be blown up to A3 size and framed!

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Allotment - Easter Monday

The weather has generally, until today, remained chilly. But at last, the promise of a sunny and warm day results in a good proportion of the allotment owners appearing. And for the first time since I worked a long day clearing the allotment with the brush cutter, I do several hours work.

This includes netting the strawberries, preparing the big raised bed and planting out rows of spinach and pak choi, lots of general clearing work, and perhaps most importantly, a start on the major task of re-fencing the plot now it is split into four. Fencing is slow work but very satisfying. I have four roles of chicken wire and it takes about 45 minutes to do each. The end result is that I have done about half the first bit. I am perhaps four hours away from the end of this, though I still need to make three gates.

A survey of the far end of the allotment also reveals that the fence there is very poor and will need some work doing.

Steve and partner (can't remember her name), plus Tim and Julie do some bee work in their funny outfits, with their little smoke generators. Steve feared he had lost his queen (which would have resulted in the bees leaving the hive). But things resolve themselves o.k and the prospect of honey appearing at some point remains.

It is actually quite a hot and sunny day, with the result that I have a little colour - mainly the back of my neck and forearms. I am also quite dehydrated by the late afternoon - 7 hours into my session - and drink nearly two litres of coke, water, beer and wine this evening.

Another highlight of the day - a red kite that circles the allotment mid-afternoon. We have seen one on our road recently, perhaps this one.

Today's planting out - lots of spinach and pak choi in the big raised bed

Tim, Julie and Steve adding extra layers to one of their beehives

Steve looking for his Queen Bee - it may have left, in which case the bees would swarm and leave too. It was duly found.

Red Kite circling the allotment - presumably one that has moved our way from Goring on the M40 where there is a huge group. Thirty years ago they were virtually extinct

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Three days in the Lake District

Stickle Gill - one of the pools I used to play in when I was about 10

Emma preparing to cross the gill near the top

Looking back into the Langdale Valley

Lunch at Stickle Tarn, with Pavey Ark in the background

On the approach to the summit of Harrison Stickle - Lake Windermere in the background

Pavey Ark from close to the summit of Harrison Stickle

Snow on the top of Bowfell / Crinkle Crags

Emma reaching the summit of Harrison Stickle
Emma looking towards Helvellyn (in the far distance)

Emma at the start of the descent

Pavey Ark - Jake's Rake just visible. I last climbed this when I was about 25. Unlikely to do it again!

Afternoon snack back at the Tarn

Near the end of the walk

Arnside Estuary
Train on Arnside viaduct - only the second or third time I have ever seen a train there

Two trains on the viaduct - unprecidented