Instead of doing nothing during our well-earned break, we decided instead to dash round the country trying to cram in as much as possible. Too much in fact because I'm still convinced we were going to spend another night with Jon and Hetty and that someone stole a day between Thursday and Saturday.
Anyway, we had a nice time catching up with friends and then being tourists in and around central London. On Wednesday we dashed to the B&B before heading back for a turn on the London Eye. This gave us the afternoon to explore Westminster and surroundings before crossing the river to see A Christmas Carol in 3D at the IMAX cinema.
Thursday was spent strolling from Westminster through Knightsbridge towards the Natural History Museum where we spent a couple of hours exploring the new Darwin Centre. This was then followed by a trip to the British Museum where we got to see some of the objects from Staffordshire Hoard before hearing a lecture by Dr. Kevin Leahy about how this incredible treasure trove was found and how it is set to further our knowledge of Anglo-Saxon history.
Does anyone understand tyres (or even tires)? Not even the man in ATS Euromaster who couldn't ably differentiate a run flat (RFT) from an asymmetrical directional tread pattern even when the car was standing in front of him.
Replacing like-for-like would be simple solution however the manufacturers are trying so hard to engineer obsolescent products that the chances of having four the same are virtually nil.
To cut a long story short, I now have a suitably at'tire'd car with 4 strips of rubber round the circular metal things and a certificate of road worthiness that is technically worthless assuming the man remembers to punch the right keys on the VOSA Database. Huzzah!
Guristas are an NPC Faction in the MMORPG: EvE Online
More specifically, they are a pirate cartel formed by two former members of the Caldari Navy. The pair go by the names Fatal and the Rabbit, and are a constant thorn in the side of the Caldari State. The Guristas are traditional pirates in the sense that their operation is not based around some creed or ideology, but rather a plain and simple greed.
With true British determination, we joined forces with hundreds of other picnickers at Stanford Hall before settling back to enjoy the fireworks competition. Once again, Pyromania put on the best display but the image above is from the finale, by organisers, MLE. The weather cleared not long after we arrived and aside from a nasty accident involving a girl and a cattle grid, a fun time was had by all.
I recently came across a book about the work of Storm Thorgerson and it seems I've been unwittingly collecting his artwork for several years. Throughout the seventies (working as part of Hipgnosis) and continuing into present day, this British graphic designer has created many captivating images. How many can you recognise?
After at least 2 years of saying it would be a good idea, Guillaume and I finally managed to summon enough energy to actually get up and go play tennis. Twice in one week actually. After a [wet] false start that took us to the indoor courts at Warwick Uni we decided to wait for a dry day, and took advantage of the very good municipal courts. Whilst the knowledge of how to play has deserted neither of us, it will be a long journey to rediscover the pinnacle of physical excellence we used to inhabit.
With a few clicks and a couple of phone calls I managed to find a fantastic place to stay in Yoxford, Suffolk. The owners, David and Jackum Brown moved into the Old Methodist Chapelabout twelve years ago after leaving London. (They have recently started found themselves back on the publishing bandwagon with their "501 must see" guide books.) Needless to say we were delighted with the accomodation and hospitality they showed us. I found Suffolk surprising in many ways: The countryside is expansive and yet varied; the villages are beautiful but not too quaint; the pace of life is unhurried but does not feel backward. It was refreshing to find a part of the world not too eager to rush forward with progress but rather choose the best bits once someone else has tested the water. We did not see one Tescos (or other major high street chain come to think of it) and felt all the better because of it! As usual, our budget break included an assortment of National Trust and English Heritage sites including Wimpole Hall, Sutton Hoo, Orford Castle, Framlingham Castle, and Ickford Rotunda.
We visited the Doctor Who exhibition at the Transport Museum on Saturday. All in all it was worth the trip and a great chance to see the props and costumes up close and in detail. Aside from the obvious delights of Cybermen and Daleks I particularly like the Sycorax and the displays that showed how to creat an Ood.
Thursday was overcast and drizzling so we stuck to the local National Trust properties. These included Townend house, The Beatrix Potter Gallery and her home at Hill Top. After a quick foray into Ulverstone and a hike up Hoad Hill we headed back to Bowness for grub at Jackson's Bistro. Friday was our last day and I was determined to walk off at least some of the food we'd scoffed. With OS map in hand we followed a dozen or so pensioners out of Grasmere and lumbered up the hill to Easedale Tarn. Once up top we fended off ducks and gulls to eat our lunch before trundling back down (with most of our dignity intact) and headed home.
On Wednesday we headed North to Keswick and visited the Cumberland Pencil Museum. This was an unexpected treat for me and included a chance to see the largest pencil in the world ~ mmmmm, pencil heaven. After this exciting start to the day we stepped it up a gear and headed into the national park. Following a brief introductory course we were soon swinging through the trees like orangutans at Go Ape (great fun!) Finally we headed west to Castlerigg Stone Circle and then back to Windermere for a curry.
Tuesday was a little overcast so after picking up leaflets at the Tourist Information we headed to Blackwell, an arts & crafts house built around the turn of the century. As well as an impressive architectural creation in its own right, the property has a small collection of ceramics and art from the same period. In fact we decided to acquire a smallish piece to take home in the shape of a vessel by James Hake. Since the weather brightened we headed for a walk up Brant Fell, overlooking Lake Windermere before then heading out to Troutbeck for another pub meal at The Queen's Head.
Our holiday started with a leisurely drive North, stopping briefly at Dunham Massey (NT), just outside Manchester. The weather was so glorious that by the time we arrived at Windermere I think the squinting into bright sunlight had given us both a headache. After a cup of tea at our B&B - Gillthwaite Rigg - and quick excursion through Bowness we ended up at the Mason's Arms for a very nice pub meal.
With clement weather and a couple of days off work the outdoors seemed like a good place to be. Both Brandon Nature Reserve and Ryton Wood were lovely but still a little early for the bluebells. We'll have to go back in a couple of weeks assuming the current wind and rain only lasts a short while.
For all the crossed fingers and wistful looks at leaden skies the snow never really came. The fact that it only snowed 3 or 4 inches however seemed to make no difference: The mere idea of snow is capable of bringing the country to a standstill. Schools closed...Airports closed...Buses cancelled...Trains cancelled... Perhaps it'll be better next time. Following 1976 and 1990 it seems we have perhaps another one and a half decades to prepare for the worst.
Paul Coppen, 69, was struggling to keep an army of rabbits from stripping his pastures bare. So in an attempt to gain the upper hand, he camouflaged his vintage Massy Ferguson tractor as a cow - complete with a firing platform and a gunslit from which to blast the unwary bunnies.
He said: "One of my neighbours came up with the idea and I just went with it. I hoped the rabbits would ignore the fake cow, thinking it was just another member of the herd, thereby presenting a stationary target for the rifleman as I drive about the farm."
A driver-cum-rifleman was cunningly camouflaged behind a picture of a tree above the cow. "It has to be said that not all rabbits are entirely fooled. Whereas cattle obviously do move around, trees usually don't and that may be a problem. I won't pretend this device is going to be the be all and end all of rabbit control - but it does seem to startle them somewhat and stops them from scampering away too quickly, which give us a chance to have a shot at them."
Thanks Hetty for the new Bunnies. It's about time I got back to blogging. If only I had something exciting or interesting to reveal or aspire to. Buying a new vacuum cleaner may not sound like a high point but one takes whatever pleasure one can in the dark and dreary month of January.