The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Wednesday 30 December 2009

Chase Skating

As we pulled into an ice rink on Cannock Chase on Sunday morning, something didn’t seem quite right. Usually there’s a gravel-topped car park in that location, yet suddenly there was an entire area of deep ice. I edged forward gently and managed successfully to park without sliding into other cars, the earth bank, or any people.

Trying to resist slipping into a painful splits position, our bags were gathered from the boot as we watched half a dozen runners tackle the ice obstacle. The first chap was wearing spikes and was fine. The other five gave us some entertainment. Then we skated off too and it wasn’t quite so amusing any more.

Ice was the theme for the day. Great sections of track were completely iced over, but never had I considered that a jaunt around our usual circuit on the Chase would prove to be a good testing ground for our new Kahtoola Microspikes, so we hadn’t taken them with us.


The silver lining was, of course, that there was very little mud to be found!

A million people were out enjoying the crisp weather in the usual busy spots, but elsewhere there was relative quiet to be found.

All was not entirely uneventful. An incident with a dog and a horse (which Mick tried valiantly, but unsuccessfully, to avert) saw the dog come off worst, but it could so easily have been a very injured rider. I’m sure the dog will recover too, and perhaps it will learn that chasing horses at full pelt and snapping at their heels is not as much fun as it appears.

Later, we passed what appeared to be the evidence of farming of witches broom-sticks. An identical stack lay the other side of the track too. There must be a lot of witches around here.


Two and a half hours after setting out we returned to the car and made our way over to my sister’s house for Christmas Pudding – only two days after the dinner that it was intended to follow.

Later still Mick demonstrated that Microspikes can be worn with such a wide range of footwear they’ll even go over slippers:


Saturday 26 December 2009

The Rab Man



For today’s walk Mick wore:

  • Rab gaiters;
  • Rab trousers;
  • Rab fleece;
  • Rab jacket; and
  • Rab gloves.

A veritable walking advertisement for the brand!


A perfect day for a walk around here today, and we did manage to drag ourselves away from the chocolate and mince pies for long enough to take a shuffle around the block.

I don’t know how many photos I’ve taken over the years of the view down to the church from the main estate track, but I couldn’t resist another one with today’s perfect sky:

IMG_0350a Thankfully the ground was still frozen solid in most places, turning the recent mud-fest that has featured on this route lately into a hard (and somewhat slippery) surface.

As is usually the case at this time of year, it seemed like half of the village had tucked its trousers into its socks to take a stroll. We even saw people on the less obvious field paths where I have never before encountered anyone (and this is a route that I do a lot).

Tomorrow (Sunday) we’re going to venture out onto Cannock Chase – perhaps for the last time this year (although it will only be a few days before we venture over there for the first time next year). If anyone’s around and fancies a 8.5 mile amble then we’ll be leaving the car park on Penkridge Bank by Rifle Range Corner (at SK001168) at 10am.

Tuesday 22 December 2009

Snow! Lots of.


The problem with traffic reports on the wireless is that so often are the reports out of date or grossly exaggerated that I now tend to take them with a pinch of salt.

Admittedly, when the news about travel chaos in the south-east was supplemented by news that all of the airports were suspended I did think about aborting my journey down to London ready for work today. I called Vic and asked for an on-the-ground weather report, as a result of which I pushed on.

Two circuits were done of the roundabout where I join the M42 as I contemplated whether continuing was folly. I pushed on.

The first 100 miles went just fine. It was like being in a game of asteroids with increasingly heavy snow flying at the windscreen*, but that snow wasn’t settling on the carriageway.

Mile 101 was slow.

Mile 102 took an hour, and culminated in me reaching a junction.

Snow was now lying and rapidly accumulating to several inches deep. My wheels were spinning every time I inched forward. It was looking perilously like I was going to be spending the entire night in the car with only a down jacket for warmth.

The northbound side was looking to be in a worse state. With barely any cars getting through on that side, there was nothing to keep the lanes clear.

I took a deep breath and braved the exit.

The next ten minutes were up there as the second most scary driving experience of my life (not sure it quite pipped the experience of driving a transit van sideways along a snowy road in Scotland a few years back).

I did finally get back home in the middle of the night. And there’s still not even a flake of snow to be seen around here.

(*I suppose, technically, the snow wasn’t flying at me; I was driving into it)

Sunday 20 December 2009

Are We The Only People Without Snow?


No walking for us this weekend. Thanks to some Nasty-Bastard-Inconsiderate-Burgularising-Thief, half of Friday and a good chunk of Saturday was spent fixing the damage caused (not to our house, thankfully), which meant that the intended activities for Friday and Saturday got shifted to the right.

Very annoying indeed, because whereas reports on t’internet would suggest that places to the north, south, east and west of us have had noticeable falls of snow, we have been bathed in winter sunshine (with attendant frostiness), with clear skies and far-reaching views (or as far-reaching as you can get in a flat place). Perfect walking weather.

Today we would have had a few hours free – enough for a shuffle around the block - except that after the first trip to the tip I realised that we’d forgotten to unplumb and take with us the dishwasher (which had been the original intention for the trip to the tip, so pretty careless to forget it) and in the process of rectifying that omission I found a leaking pipe under the sink, and whilst I was fixing that I figured that I may as well fit the new kitchen taps. Then I fixed a couple more leaks that were found, and then we needed to be elsewhere.

Unrelated to all of that, after finding the elusive camera, I have belatedly downloaded the photos from last Sunday’s walk. There weren’t many, thanks to much chatting, and I’ve pruned them even further in deciding which were worthy of upload. You’ll find a slideshow (which will take in the region of 30 seconds to peruse (click ‘slideshow’ in the upper left corner)) here, and you may observe that a prominent feature of the walk was the number of people around. You’ll find two  tales of the day’s activities here and here.

Wednesday 16 December 2009

Small World!

As we walked into Lothersdale on 25 May last year, we met two men standing at a gate, staring out over the field we had just crossed. As we approached they asked if we had seen the chap for whom they were waiting. They then explained that he was in the process of walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats. “That’s a coincidence” we said…

Having given us the tip-off that they would be in the Fox & Hounds in about an hour’s time, we installed the tent in someone’s back garden, had the cup of tea offered by the house owner, and then hot-footed it to the pub to meet this chap.

And that was how we came to know Doug, the fourth end-to-ender we encountered during our journey. We continued to meet him on a daily basis until just after Haltwhistle, where Doug carried on northwards, and we stopped for a day.

Fast forward a year and a bit, and a few weeks ago I learnt that Doug had moved to Barmouth, but what I didn’t do was find out to where exactly.

On Saturday just gone, we found ourselves in Barmouth and having visited my father’s tree we were making our way back down into the town. There are any number of routes down The Rock, but we were gasping for a cup of tea, so we took the ‘top road’ – the most direct route to the Milk Bar.

As we approached habitation, near the bottom of the ‘top road’ I again wondered out loud where it might be that Doug lives and kicked myself for not having dropped him an email to let him know of our planned trip there. Mick asked whether I had his phone number, but I didn’t, and onwards down the hill we went.

(you can see where this is going, can’t you?)

Not three paces later I looked to my left and there, literally within spitting distance (not that I tested that out), was Doug, with just his head poking over his garden gate, which he was just in the process of repairing. It took him a few moments to place me (understandable as I had a beanie and wrap-around sunnies on at the time), and it took Mick a few moments to realise that I had stopped and to return to where I was standing.

A very pleasant couple of hours were spent chatting with Doug and his wife, and drinking in the fantastic views that they have from their most-lovely house.

It really was one of those spooky coincidences (we could have taken a different route down the hill, Doug could have chosen that moment to bend down to pick up his hammer), but it was great to get the opportunity to catch up with him and to meet his wife.

(At this point I would post a photo of Doug, taken on our walk last year, except that in our complete failure to take a sensible number of photos during that walk we didn’t take any photos of all of those people we met, who made the walk so memorable – hopefully it will be a lesson learnt for next year.)

Saturday 12 December 2009

From Llyn Eiddew-mawr

What a stunning day!

We managed to crawl out of our sleeping bags and into the nippy air just as the sky was starting to get light and by 8.15 we were off for a 1.5 mile cross-country yomp* through heather, rock and bog.

There had been a bit of a temptation to be lazy and simply retrace our steps along the trodden paths we had taken yesterday (with the vague excuse that I did want to revisit a stone-circley-thing that we didn’t have time to explore yesterday), but that would have been defeatist, so we steeled our legs for some tough terrain.

It turned out to be pretty easy going (as Rhinog cross-country goes), and within the hour we had reached the path (at times a very good and obvious one) that would lead us (through some of the most waterlogged bogginess we have experienced in the area) back to Traws.

Mick did lose a leg up to above his knee at one point (sorry Conrad, I didn’t have the camera to hand at the time!), and uncountable times we went in to ankle-deep. But, it was all good fun, and under such stunning skies we couldn’t help but feel that we were in the right place.

Here are just a couple of photos of the splendidness of the day:


*Edited to add: Mick says that I've made it sound like we only walked 1.5 miles today. What I meant was that we yomped 1.5 miles pathlessly before reaching a path that we followed for some miles before joining a road to rejoin our outward route.

Total stats for the two half-days were a modest 12.5 miles walked with an equally modest 2000 feet of ascent.

Friday 11 December 2009

Llyn Eiddew-mawr

What a fantastic afternoon's walk! The weather was as good as promised and the route chosen was sympathetic to legs which are unaccustomed to exercise.

A lovely route it was too, bringing us to a llyn that we've not before visited. I can't say that I would recommend it as a night stop. In common with most of the Rhinnogau the terrain is predominantly bog and tussock.

We did find ourselves a reasonable pitch a few moments before the sun set (giving us a lovely colourful display). There's even a sea view from the door of the tent - or at least there was when there was any light to see it.

Now there's a sky filled with a trillion stars and the promise of a cool night.
Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange


Not too shoddy a view for lunch.
Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

Decisions, Decisions

I already got over the stumbling blocks of deciding where we are going to walk. I decided which pack to take and (in the interests of giving it a fair trial) I opted for my NeoAir over my preferred Prolite. For my sleeping bag the Rab Quantum 400 seemed like the right choice.

Now I’ve looked outside this morning and I’m wavering on my sleeping bag choice. I’ve seen the thick frost out there and no matter what the weather forecasts are telling me I fear that it’s going to be a tad nippy tonight. So, the question is do I go for the last minute switch (which will of course involve emptying my entire bag) to the (new and unused) snuggly-warm PHD Minim 500?

Thursday 10 December 2009

Big Grin

The bags are nearly packed and there’s only a minimal amount of stuff still to be done in the morning before we set out for a quick overnight on the hills.

Not that the weather would have had a bearing on our plans, but I felt compelled to check the forecast anyway.

‘No rain’ says MWIS.

‘Greater than 90% chance of cloud free summits’ says MWIS.

‘Sunshine with very clear air indeed’ says MWIS.

Big grin, indeed.

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Long Mynd Return (Thursday 19 November 2009)

(I wrote this during our holiday in Ludlow, on 19 November, immediately after the walk in question. I then had a few technical issues and couldn’t post it. In the absence of anything more recent to report, I thought that I would post it now. Rumour has it that there will be some more walking done this weekend. Watch this space!)

We liked the Long Mynd so much during our walk there on Monday that we decided to return today, but this time ascending via Ashes Hollow from Little Stretton and returning via somewhere further south.

Ashes Hollow was lovely, but even at the top the wind strength wasn’t anywhere nearly as strong as forecast (35 gusting 50). There were a couple of times that we got blown off the path on the way up but seldom did we have to battle with the wind.

Once at the top we had a decision: south and no guarantee of a tea room, or north to Cardingmill Valley where we knew there to be not only a tea room but one serving excellent cake.

It’s always the way when you spend a good period fantasising about what you will order in the tea room: the tea room will be closed. And so it turned out to be.

So, instead we walked into Church Stretton where only one establishment had any customers and having opted to join them all we couldn’t work out why it was so well frequented.

Some truly lovely woodland was sampled on the way back to Little Stretton (and for some reason Mick believed me when I said ‘it’s flat the whole way back’; he ought to know by now that when I say such things what I mean is ‘I’ve not looked at the contours’).

The highlight of the walk for Mick was when he heard a small yelp behind him and turned to find me sprawled in a mud-bath. A leg had shot out from under me and a considerable amount of mud had migrated from the ground onto my trousers. We were before Cardingmill Valley at the time and a cafe was in the forefront of my mind. Trousers an inch thick with mud on the seat don’t really go well with being seen in public eateries, and the only solution seemed to be to go and sit in a stream, so that’s what I did.

I can’t say that it was the most pleasant experience of my life, but the Paramo trousers did their job with drying out quickly, and before we made it to a tea-serving establishment I took a detour via an outdoor shop to buy some Tech-Wash so that I can be restored to completely clean trousers for the morrow.

 IMG_0201a IMG_0214a

Thursday 19 November 2009

Wednesday: Ludlow Castle

If there’s a castle nearby, then we need to go and see it. With Ludlow Castle being within a five minute walk from our accommodation it would have been more than rude to shun it. So, ignoring the fact that Ludlow Castle doesn’t feature roofs and that today’s weather was more wet than dry, that’s where we headed this morning.

Last time I visited was in 1984, when I was in Mr. Taylor’s class at Palmer’s Cross Primary. I remember the trip, but today I realised that I have no recollection of the main structure of the castle itself. I probably had less interest in things historical back then.

We explored every nook and cranny and took 42 photos plus one 360 video snippet from the top of the Keep. I will post the 360 video snippet next week (when I’m back in the land of sensible internet access). In the meantime, I will post a little snapshot taken from the top of the Keep:


Following the visit to the castle we proved what a small town Ludlow is by repeatedly bumping into our holiday companions in the streets, in between which random meetings we popped into The Olive Branch, a whole-food restaurant which gave us a tasty lunch with a plentiful pot of tea.

Suddenly I find that it’s Wednesday evening* already, with only a couple of days of holiday left. There’s lots and lots to do around here (and equal amounts of good food to eat). A week just isn’t long enough.

(*bit of a delayed posting there)

Tuesday 17 November 2009

To Bromfield, And Back Again

With our numbers swelled by one today, by the arrival of Vic’s dad on a day-trip, the nominated outing was to Bromfield. A verily good destination for two reasons: The Clive Restaurant and the Ludlow Food Centre.

As it went, we had spent an unreasonable length of time buying nice local produce in Ludlow Food Centre yesterday so that only left one objective of today’s outing: a nice lunch at Clive’s.

We left Ludlow via Ludford Bridge and took to the riverside to take us to the bridge by the castle:

Bromfield Ludlow Castle Look at that sky! (And the castle is hidden behind the trees somewhere)

Then it was onto field paths (at times very slip-slidey in their muddiness), where I couldn’t help but notice that autumn seems still to be in full swing with the colourful leaves:

Bromfield Autumn Colours Bromfield was reached after a very leisurely stroll, which had created sufficient time since the substantial second breakfast for lunch to be an appealing activity.

The food was absolutely excellent and whilst I couldn’t find fault with my spinach and goat’s cheese filo parcels I did have a little food envy for Vic’s Sea Bass and veg. Still, I won on the pudding with the most enormous apple tart ever seen.

Replete with lunch, I waddled back, but fortunately an easy route had been chosen along tracks and lanes, and just as the light was fading the castle was reached and thus we were nearly back.

Apart from lunch, the highlight of the day was the plethora of mushrooms and toadstools which not only gave the opportunity to test the macro function on the new camera, but also accounted for the majority of the day’s photos (if it wasn’t for the limited connection I would likely post them all, so be thankful for the lack of wifi here!).

Bromfield Shroom

The stat for the day was that 6.25 miles were covered (in surprisingly good weather; there was just a smidge of drizzle in the last ten minutes of the day). It didn’t feel that far, perhaps because a two-hour lunch broke it up into two 3 mile strolls.


Monday 16 November 2009

Long Mynd

On checking various weather websites yesterday evening it looked like today’s weather would be better than the next few days, so we earmarked the day for a trip from Church Stretton up Cardingmill Valley to Pole Bank.

Whilst making mountains of sandwiches to see us through the trip the weather changed from rain to fine and an hour or so later, as we set out past the Visitor Centre, it was looking like it would be a dry trip:

Long Mynd1 Just before Light Spout, which was full of water today (“drippy moss” was how Vic described its appearance last time she saw it) we paused for snackettes and Mick snapped a rather good group photo (albeit, for obvious reasons, he was missing from it):

Long Mynd2

A short while later I braved a wet right foot (my one Salomon Elios Mid has sprung a leak) to cross the torrent to get a good snap of the waterfall:


I’m using mobile internet this week so, for fear of falling asleep before blogs have posted, I’m limiting the number of photos. Therefore I won’t share with you the two pictures of various members of the party accidentally captured in ridiculous poses around this point of the walk.

We made it up to the top of Pole Bank where the views were spectacular but the wind rather keen, so we opted to drop down a bit before stopping to make a dent in the sandwich mountain. The substantially-pregnant member of the congregation claimed to be okay to complete the 8-mile circuit, but knowing that she has another walk tomorrow we didn’t want to wipe her out, so an executive decision was made to take the shorter route back.

A good decision!

Lunch was had not far down the hillside and about two minutes after we hauled ourselves to our feet, the rain that we had seen coming from the top hit us.

Oh my! That was twenty minutes of exciting weather! It was an uncommon combination of heavy rain powered by mightily strong wind and it positively stung when it hit bare flesh.

It was only when we dropped down into a steep valley that we got out of the worst of the wind, and a while later the rain eased off a bit too. Finally being able to look up without fear of suffering a stinging face I couldn’t help but notice what a spectacular valley we were in:

Long Mynd4 In complete contrast to the rain-lashing at the top, by the time we reached the bottom the skies were so stunningly blue and devoid of cloud it was difficult to believe that any other weather condition could have prevailed in the recent past:

Long Mynd5 Getting back to Cardingmill Valley it seemed rude not to take the short detour to the tea room to refresh ourselves with plentiful pots of tea and large slabs of cake. There, B found that her waterproof jacket could no longer claim to be waterproof. After wringing out her t-shirt she was glad to have a spare fleece in her bag. But, as she said, better to have found out on a short walk with a bit of violent rain than on a long wet day. She’s now in the market for a new jacket (any recommendations/gifts gratefully received, she says).

It was a very enjoyable outing, with 6 miles covered with 1500 feet of upness.

Sunday 15 November 2009

Canoes On The Weir

There wasn’t a great deal of activity in the house today. A-C was only able to join us for 24 hours so last night was a Good Night Out with fantastic food and a small drop of wine. Today was allocated as a lazy day. That every single one of us managed to make it out of our pyjamas (albeit it was knocking on for 3pm when that occurred) was miracle enough. There was scant chance of there being any other activity.

There was, however, much gazing out at the weir, and we did observe that the water level had dropped and that the water was not quite so brown and angry.

Then a canoeist hove into view, followed by half a dozen more. Our interest was piqued and our attention captured for ten or fifteen minutes until their manoeuvres over the weir had been completed:

Canoe comes into view; a couple of passers-by stop to watch:


Red canoe starts to toy with going over the weir:


More passers-by have gathered (just to add the pressure for red-canoe-chap) and he makes a move over the weir:


Manoeuvre successful, he looks rather pleased with himself:


(all photos taken whilst wearing pyjamas and slippers, from the balcony)

In momentary denial of how cold that water must be, we did want to go and have a go ourselves.

There are intentions to be a little more lively tomorrow, so there may (weather dependent) be photos of something other than the Teme.

The View From The Balcony (Take 2)

(I seem to be having a few technical difficulties; let's try that last post again and see if the photo appears this time)
Vic is the queen of choosing holiday accommodation.

The attached photo is the view from the balcony, of the horseshoe weir at Ludford Bridge.

Unsurprisingly, given the weather over the last couple of days, the river is high and very churned up and muddy.

Hopefully the weather will take a turn for the better (although our bags contain lots of Paramo items, in case it doesn’t) so it will be interesting to see how the view changes as the week goes on. I wonder if those trees are usually on the edge, rather than in the middle of, the water?

Saturday 14 November 2009

The View From The Balcony

Vic is the queen of choosing holiday accommodation.

The attached photo is the view from the balcony, of the horseshoe weir at Ludford Bridge.


Unsurprisingly, given the weather over the last couple of days, the river is high and very churned up and muddy.

Hopefully the weather will take a turn for the better (although our bags contain lots of Paramo items, in case it doesn’t) so it will be interesting to see how the view changes as the week goes on. I wonder if those trees are usually on the edge, rather than in the middle of, the water?

Friday 13 November 2009

Photos a-go-go

For those who didn’t read my last post, let me just repeat the important bit: we got a new camera this week. That’s no real excuse for posting quite as many photos as appear below, but today was its first proper outing and so I took an abnormally large number of snaps.

This was the exact same walk as I took last Friday, except that I was half an hour later setting off. Once again Mick dropped me off in the next village along, right by this bridge:


I’ve walked past and over that bridge any number of times and yet had never before noticed that there’s a big weir on the upstream side of it (probably because the pavement is on the other side, so I always look over the downstream side).

The view on the downstream side made me remember that it had rained a lot in the night. It’s not usually this high (nor so muddy):


Green lanes and enclosed paths followed for a while:



Across the first of the open fields I had my first dog incident. Having charged at me it turned out to be friendly enough.

The next field used to house a ‘watering hole’ where I have often seen a herd of cows wallowing. This year it seems to have turned into a bit of a puddle and is rapidly reverting to being just a sunken part of the field.


Sheep were encountered (non-killer variety):


And then I was into a section of National Forest plantation, where I had my next dog encounter. Much to its owner’s embarrassment it ran up to me repeatedly to place its muddy paws on my trousers (it was too small to reach my jacket); even I couldn’t categorise this one as a killer.

The large man-made lake here seems also be filling in and now it looks more like a marsh than a lake, but I’m sure that it’s still a friendly place for much wildlife.


The viewing platform was less friendly; those planks were mightily slippery in today’s damp conditions


Onto crop fields and the path was the cause of much slipping and sliding. I reached the roadway with half a field’s worth of mud adorning my shoes.


But first there was a real sense of deja vu when I had an exact repetition of last week’s dog-running-at-me-at-full-tilt incident (same dog, at the same point in its walk, with me at the same point in my walk, ran around me and barked, then left at the same speed with which it had arrived):


A four-ball on the first tee caused me to pause part way across the golf course and whilst paused I looked over to the club house. Funny that I’ve walked past it so many times and yet somehow never really noticed it. I suppose I’m usually more interested in the golf course itself (particularly if there are any balls flying around)


Approaching the river/canal junction my eyes were once again drawn to this building. Every time I walk past I wonder what its history is


Once at the canal/river junction there is a sign warning craft not to venture over the tall weir between the canal and the river


And just to be sure there’s a barrier to prevent incidents involving people who haven’t read the sign. Until late last year that barrier was in a much worse state of repair, and during its disrepair period we did witness a narrow boat in quite a pickle there (but I was too polite at the time to take a photo of their panic and predicament)


Mallard are starting to pair off again, but some fussy females are keeping their options open


The Navigation Warning System on the lock before the river section shows that conditions are just about qualifying as ‘normal’.


I’m sure that it will only be a short while before the ‘open as normal’ becomes ‘proceed with caution’ for much of the winter, with occasional closures (at which times the lock gates will be chained shut).


The next mile of the canal would be nicer save for being immediately adjacent to the A38. The volume of my audiobook had to be pumped up at this point to be heard over the traffic.

This sizable residence across the other side of the road looks to be falling into disrepair


Hardly surprising when you consider the usual traffic conditions right outside of the front door


With attention back on the canal, here’s a better version of the bridge-bridge-lock combo that I snapped with the Blackberry last week


Last pic of the day (sigh of relief all around). Much smoke coming out of chimneys along a residential section just before I left the canal, walked up the roads, past the ponds and called Mick to beg for a lift the rest of the way home.


Unsurprisingly the route was still 7 miles long and still featured a negligible amount of ascent. As you may have noticed the day was grey, but the rain was good enough to hold off until I got home.

Camera Troubles

At the beginning of September, at a critical moment whilst standing atop a model of a section of Hadrian’s Wall at Vindolanda, our camera’s auto-focus ceased to focus. For a couple more days it was a bit hit or miss as to whether it would play along, or whether it would whir away before coming up with a nasty blue error screen. Then it died completely.

That was disappointing indeed. I can’t say that I thought much of the picture quality that it produced, but we had only had it for 20 months and I was a long way from ready to fork out for a new one.

As much as I wasn’t impressed by the Olympus mju700 it has four benefits: 1) at 104g it’s very light (the main basis upon which I originally bought it); 2) it’s weatherproof; 3) I already own spare batteries for it; and 4) I already have the right memory cards for it. Buying a new camera would likely result in something heavier, not weatherproof, and it seemed highly unlikely that the chosen model would require the same battery or memory card.

The happy solution seemed to be to take the ‘spare camera’, which we inherited, out of the drawer and use that instead. Much chunkier and less user friendly it may have been, but it took decent snaps.

Alas, on its first outing, on Dartmoor, we came to the conclusion that the battery indicator is dicky. Sometimes it’s happy that the brand-new lithium batteries are good. Sometimes it’s convinced that they’re dead and switches off. Sometimes it takes one photo in the belief that the batteries are good, then switches itself off. Switch it back on and it may be fine again for a few more shots or it may randomly decide that it’s powerless. Add that fault to the bulk (it won’t fit in my hipbelt pocket) and it didn’t take long for me to become resigned to getting a new camera.

As much as it rankled to settle for poor picture quality again, if I could have picked up another Olympus mju700 at a reasonable price then I would have, because for my level of snap-shots the plus-points outweigh the major drawback. But I couldn’t pick one up at a price that justified that decision, so it was back to the drawing board.

The new camera arrived last Monday (Canon Ixus 95IS). My initial test shots that afternoon, around the River Crane and the outside of Twickenham Stadium, in failing light, were highly uninspiring. So when I popped out for a walk this morning I took an abnormally large number of photos.

See next post…


Monday 9 November 2009

Shuffling Around The Block

As I set out along the track just up the road from the house this morning, I regretted not having a camera on me – not even the one on my phone. The fields were hoary, with the early fog just starting to burn off on what was setting itself up to be a glorious day. One field in particular looked particularly fine in its whiteness, and my immediate thought was to get a photo of it, but even upon realising my lack of equipment I wasn’t moved to return home to pick up a camera.

My attention was soon drawn instead to the other side of the track and, more specifically, to the most enormous bull in the field there. There is seldom a fence between that field and the one across which I was about to walk (when there is it’s a temporary electric one), and from where I was standing I could see no cows to keep the bull distracted.

There did turn out to be cows, and they did follow me, eventually breaking into a trot (the cows, not me; surprisingly I remained calm even when the trotting caught the bulls attention and he started making his way over for a look too). By then I was almost at the next gate and over its icy bars I vaulted (not out of haste, just because I know that this gate doesn’t open).

The track which I cleared of overgrowth back in February, and found out in August was practically impassable again, has benefitted from the autumn. The undergrowth has died back a little and so I was able to pick my way along without being slapped about the face or grabbed or tripped by spiky things.

There was an unusual amount of livestock on my route today (this being my bog-standard ‘shuffle around the block’ route), but fortunately the only other cows were completely uninterested in my presence as I slip-slid my way through the churned up muddiness of their field. The only other animal incident of the walk was another dog which bounded over to place it’s muddy paws on my jacket (why is it that since I stopped shrieking and hiding behind the nearest tree/person every time I see a dog they take it that I’m the friendliest person in the world and want to jump up me?!)

I would likely have walked an extra mile and a half, returning home over more farmland, except that to do so would have required a repetition of the frisky-cow-and-bull-field (or alternatively a walk along a busy lane in dubious visibility), neither of which appealed, so I cut into the village to walk back home along the road. The road walk did at least give the opportunity to see how various building projects are progressing.


Random hoary photo from January this year;

it looked nothing like that today!