hirez: (Aspirational message)
I'm still having it bus across Bath because the Bridge on the River Wye Avon still seems to be (w)inching its way from the new developments where there was a crane factory and a gasworks, towards the recycling centre and what looks like quite a nice boozer opposite Victoria Park.

'Park and Ride' should replace the 'Bump and Grind' bits here.

Although that track is nowhere near as good as this one, which is the sort of unhinged racket that all music should aspire to become. Mind, even the alleged HD version is missing half the bass. You'll just have to find the vinyl (and preferably the single-sided 12" like what I have) to get the full benefit.

I wonder when that sort of thing will become dadrock and be part of a Top Gear compilation? It's nearly thirty years old, which is mildly depressing and really quite cheerful and the same time.

Anyway. Victoria Park. As the bus drew level with the play area below the half-pipes, I noticed that the child playing in the Wendy-Bus (It's like a wendy house, but it's a bus. Which exactly the sort of not-very subliminal message we should be sending to the very young - you should live in a bus, then you could drive places with your friends and have adventures. And then fight a pitched battle against the agents of state repression). However, this child was wearing hi-viz, which seemed a little over-protective. Then I spotted a different child in hi-viz joyriding a mini-digger. At which point it became obvious that they were the Children of the Council, which is like 'The children of the stones' but more municipal.

They should totally have a play area with mini-diggers though. It wouldn't be any more dangerous than boat-rental on Pitville (or was it Sandford?) pond, and it would teach the very young useful skills in re. construction and diesel fitting, which would also come in handy when piloting the wendy bus.

'Piloting the wendy bus' sounds only mildly wrong.

Some time later, I fell into conversation with a chap selling the Big Issue. He was at pains to point out that he wasn't homeless, he just didn't fancy living in one. And once he'd sold me my copy, he was going to potter back out to the countryside with his pack and set up camp so he could enjoy the countryside and think about his place in the world.

"Every day, you should ask yourself who you are and what you're doing there," he told me. I allowed as how some might consider that a threat and spend their lives avoiding that sort of question. He gave me a look which probably translated as 'If that's you, then you should stop that real soon now.'

I'm only half convinced that last encounter actually happened.

After that, I had to unblock a drain. I totally felt like my dad.
hirez: (muddy)
[ Meta-gubbins about having fallen out of the habit of jabbering on LJ oh noes all the cool kids are doing it, etc ]

Thus far this year, there's been enough of the right sort of day and enough of the right sort of brain for me to have steamed into the concrete-thing-we-call-a-garden and attacked the pruning without it turning into a tiresome angst-fest. No, I don't know why, either. It's quite good though. I have also managed to hack back a space in the terrible rock garden and transplant the tub of blackcurrant cuttings that might fruit this year.

I also have a windowsill which is rapidly turning into a chil(l)i-plant forest, more or less by accident. One of the types at work pitched up with some chil(l)ies that he'd grown at the tail end of last year. I was slicing one up to give a pizza a bit of life, and idly wondered what would happen if I planted as many seeds as I could find. What happened was that they all sprouted like weeds only better and now I'll have to hope that the weather warms up before they take over the house.

Not right now, though. It's shite out.

Another thing that I would like to get around to doing is eviscerating the dead washing machine in the garage and using the drum for an outdoor fireplace. Apparently it's a thing. I dunno that it would make the place more inviting, but perhaps some embers will waft away and set fire to one or other of the ugly sheds on the other side of the lane behind the house.
hirez: (Default)

A mobile client for LJ that might work, you say? Sapristi nuckos!

Picocon31

Feb. 23rd, 2014 06:55 pm
hirez: (Default)
... Was rather good fun. Apparently you can get away with all sorts of mischief at ic.ac.uk (and traditional bangpath variations thereof) by striding about purposefully and declaring that 'Ben said it was OK.' In fact, the entire org team were lovely. Especially the poor sods volunteered to wave a mag-card at the slidey doors in the aeronautics building whenever someone obviously fandom-related hove into view.

(Will the next one be numbered 0x20 ?)

Guests excellent, beer excellent, buying stuff from the SFnal-destinations-as-railway-posters chap excellent. Only made a mild idiot of self when speaking to SPinborough. Also accused of being a crypto geek, which is a filthy lie.
hirez: (muddy)
Other people's gardens are always much more amenable than one's own. Presumably because you feel you can walk away when called inside for tea and crumpets, rather than staring at the pile of detritus and wonky fence and having a long, dark, gardener's question time of the soul.

(That should probably have been the title of this piece, but now it's bound into the words there's no moving it. Expect me to re-cycle the thing later in the year.)

Obviously that statement doesn't just apply to occasions where you might be called upon to plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land.

So there I was, in an ex-quarry right on top of the Cotswolds, helping to clear brush and twigs and pile them into a rusty and misshapen incinerator when the enthusiasm was replaced by cold and I finally started to wonder what sort of large handfuls of brush I was gleefully grabbing. Nettle stems.

This week's top tip is something along the lines of 'If you've spent several tens of minutes gathering up dead nettle stems and folding them up so they'll fit in the incinerator right, it'll take about half an hour for your hands to start feeling distinctly odd. Try not to do that, unless you like that sort of thing.'

Only mildly tangentially, this week's nailie is Avon 'Cosmic Blue' and there will be a photo along as soon as the phone is charged up.
hirez: (Cooper-Clarke)
As it turned out, we didn't stay in Bruges/Brugge (It is rather confusing that all the notionally-'English' names for places are the French versions when you're pottering about the northern end of the country and wondering if you're causing more offence than usual by getting it wrong.) and that turned out to be a good thing. The train from Antwerp filled up steadily since it was a Saturday, the fares were cheap and the weather entirely unseasonal. The entire train emptied at Brugge station. While were were milling off the platform, another train arrived and that one emptied, too. The people with elbows and haircuts and wheely-cases vanished into the haze at the far edge of the station forecourt. We followed the ticking from the pedestrian crossing - fairly safe Alpha emitter means stay where you are and avoid the tourbuses, clattering like an industrial band trying to out-run a Plutonium spill means peg it across before the bicycles get you.

There were an awful lot of bicycles. Sensible ones about twice the size and weight of anything you'd get in a trendy-yop bike-shop here. Amphibious three-wheeled child delivery machines. Actually very swish bakfiets things that warranted a careful inspection. One bloke in lycra on a hybrid, probably English.

Since I was mostly navigating via gmaps, pottering and aiming for interesting-looking steeples, we meandered into Brugge via a footbridge past a local teashop for local people. The streets were deserted and the day was warm. It was really very pleasant indeed. There were twisty wee streets and steaming BMWs to avoid, but still very few people. Although there was an odd sort of squeaky-rumble noise that seemed to be getting louder as time went on.

A horde of tourists with elbows dragging wheely-cases across cobbles sound more or less what I'd expect the APCs of an invading force to sound like. The shoppy-shop bits of Brugge reminded me strongly of Bourton-on-the-Water on a bank holiday, with bells on. Ding dong dong bang bong bong dong ding bing bang bing ding bong bong bang bing dang-a-long-dang-bang.

Antwerp's metro system seemed to have been designed by JG Ballard. There are an awful lot of empty rectilinear spaces that you have to traverse in order to read the sign at the far end that directs you toward another empty rectilinear space seemingly set at an impossible angle to the first. The carriages seem to spring into existence at the far end of the volume, apparently transport you through some un-space and then deposit you somewhere very similar to the place you may or may not have just left. When you pace it out above ground, the distances seem to be about the length of the train.

I was right about trams.

Lambic beer is really quite something. I wonder if it is available in Bristol?
hirez: (Aspirational message)
In which we discover the answers to several long-standing questions -

'Can you fall asleep on the concrete apron of an experimental gun platform?'
'If all your mates pitched down a cliff for some pole-dancing, would you follow?'
'What's Weston-super-mud like before the bogs open?'

(Yes, yes and shut)

Yesterday seemed to go on for quite a long time. I'd set the alarm for five, since it would take me a while to get steam up at that time and walking out of the house without trousers or spare film or something would just be a bit poor. How pleased I was, however, to be woken at two by a broken computer. I crashed out on the sofa, but was still in a proper state of shamble by the time Will banged on the door at six.

We found some more of the party when we arrived at the quayside. We also found that the council bogs in Weston don't open that early. Instead we surprised some poor chap who was minding a nearby hotel.

The boat trip out to the island was more of a blast. Think of something a bit like an 80s re-enactment of PBR Steetgang, but faster and with more tweed. I think I was trying to hum 'Ride of the valkyries' as Steepholm stopped being a patch of different coloured mist and turned into a thing with trees and pebbles and a ruined cottage leaning out of the cliff-face.

Next to the ruined cottage, which had been an inn, was a smashed-open cable termination point. Later, someone mentioned The Deep Ones, and it all slotted together in my head. I mean, if you were going to try and fail to get nameless horrors on your side when a proper mechanised war broke out, that would be the sort of landscape left behind when it all went expectedly wrong.

Steepholm is mostly brambles, seabirds, rotting military hardware, deer and a barracks-turned-visitor-centre with indoor lighting plant and outside bog.

It's completely brilliant.

We collectively pottered about for a bit, finding the remains of a smallholding; a mysterious shed with the script from a numbers station nailed to the wall, which itself was handy for the sort of collapsible aerial/flagpole not mentioned in the Famous Five books due to a lack of technical rigor; the trig point and most of the gun emplacements. All of which seemed to have the original Victorian cannons lying around nearby.

I started to fall asleep during the picnic lunch, so took myself off to the far pointy end of the island where an experimental gun platform had been destroyed by experimental shelling, leaving thumping great lumps of nickel-steel armour and concrete slabs lying about at angles apparently designed for something between 40 and 120 winks. I took the 120 option, then pottered back to the barracks just in time for the sun to appear over a yardarm somewhere. Post beer and tales from the others about the 'pole-dancing platform at the bottom of the cliff' it seemed like a splendid idea to go and find it for myself. Along the bottom path and turn right out into space where the sign says 'Dangerous'. It was indeed a bit steep, but there was indeed a searchlight platform held up by an acro-jack.

When I pottered back, I took it into my head to ask one of the volunteers about the lighting plant and where the water comes from. It transpires that the water comes from the roof of the barracks and is piped into a thumping great reservoir behind the building, where it comes out of the taps brown and really isn't fit to drink. The lighting plant is a Lister diesel and he wasn't the chap to speak to about it but the fellow digging out the culvert at the back had supplied the thing and would be jolly pleased to talk about it. The bloke digging the culvert seemed to be about the age of my grandfather and had run an agricultural engineers in Wiltshire - 'You from the Cotswolds? Ah. Foreigner.' I was treated to a long explanation of the history of the engine itself (built in the 40s), the backup engine, the relative merits of Ferguson over Fordson tractors and the fascination of the SubBrit group. At that point I was mostly convinced I was likely still asleep over by the experimental battery and this was actually a voyage through my own head.

It turns out that you can fall asleep on the pebbled beach underneath the ruined inn while the dusk is having a right old gather. The trip back was faster and more like being an extra in Miami Vice.

An interesting (to me anyway) thing, of the many interesting things about the place, was someone going 'It's another mendip, you know' as I was staring in the direction of Brean Down and Brent Knoll. One of the first trips out of Bristol while still trying to leave London involved beetling off to Blackdown with Dingbat to look for the Starfish site and what was allegedly a 'Z battery'. We found the firepits and control bunker for the Starfish site, but didn't find the remains of the Z battery because we didn't really know what we were looking for. It turns out that if you find a circle of big rusty bolts sticking out of a concrete slab, that's what the remains of the Z battery rocket launcher looks like, and there are several to choose from on the island.

In my half-asleep rambles on the motorway back into the C21st, I alleged that Steepholm wasn't of any particular era because instead of the successive timezones removing most traces (apart from those which are decorative and/or worth money) of their predecessors, it was all piled in together and you made the best of it leaning on a Georgian cannon outside of a Victorian barracks while updating Facebook about the Roman wall incorporated into Napoleonic fortifications the far side of the outside bogs.
hirez: (dissent)
The missing Wainwright that no-one talks about is obviously 'A pictorial guide to the mountains of madness'.
hirez: (Happy cycling)
Because it is nice out and I noticed that the wheat next to the Bath end of the cycle-path is being harvested, I pottered off to breathe in the smell of fresh-cut straw and see how my legs were going. I note, entirely unscientifically and I should go back with a clipboard and a pencil, that the people steaming past in replica kit on expensive road-bikes are in the minority. It also seems close to gender parity out there. Good.
hirez: (Challenger)
The M5 goes a bit wonky at this time of year. It just does.

When I worked in Bristol in the mid-eighties, the Friday afternoon drive back up to Cheltenham would start badly because traffic would be tailed back on the M4 up to the Almondsbury junction with the M5, and it's only ever got worse.

The last decade or so, one's sometimes seen southbound tailbacks when beetling north. Not many, and the absolute worst I've seen the things is nearing the Thornbury exit.

Today is was solid and unmoving traffic, with odd pockets of space, all the way up to the Stroud junction.

Poking the Twitters revealed that most of the M5 was like that. Which, holy crap, dude. There must have been signs at Saltash and Launceston reading "Kernow is full; piss off home."

... Which meant, oh noes, that we had to stick around the Cotswolds for longer than immediately anticipated. Thus there was diesel-powered beetling up the GWR which was jolly nice. We'll just have to go back and do the steam-powered half during the week.
hirez: (Cooper-Clarke)
Gug.

Nice out, isn't it? Could do with a drop of rain,mind; my courgettes are in a right old state.

On Saturday I was to be found in a field, casting my seed hither and yon. Fortunately for all concerned, it was from a plastic tub containing a variety of wild flowers supplied by the council.

(Which is all remarkably daft when you think about it, but that's what a well-meant but startlingly badly executed 'commitment to the environment' gets you. It all began with the Cheltenham Floods the other year. One of the alleged 'problem areas' was a corner of Prestbury where there is a brook that once in a while overflows its banks. This would be fine had the relevant bit of flood-plain not been covered in Executive Homes for Executives to park their Executive Cars outside. Since Executive Homes are far more important that some fields that had been fields for so long that the ridge-and-furrow was still obvious, it was decided to run a thumping great tunnel across several fields and a couple of roads at £ye-gods-how-much?

They made an epic bugger of the job, all the while sending Men to bang on about 'mitigating environmental impact'. Then the next week sending different men to cut down the wrong trees. The final emanation of 'we know better' has been to send a bag of wild flower seeds for people to scatter on the ground that they turned upside-down (so there is a bloody great streak of compacted clay across the fields which is going to look a bit bald for the next couple of seasons and no amount of seed-scattering is going to fix that. You useless tossers.) because of course letting the local flora get on with the job isn't properly 'environmentally aware')

I may have written rude words with my tub of wildflower seeds. We shall find out next summer.
hirez: (Pie!)
My hands (and by extension the HAR2009 wristband which, although made of entire unnatural fibres, does soak up some stuff) now pong of Seville oranges.

I have no idea if I'm going to end up with marmalade or a mess and some explosions tomorrow, but it's a net win either way. I have boshed something together from the ancestral Barrett recipe and the Nigel Slater version and it will be fine.

I also have to admit that hacking up yea-many oranges was much harder work than reverse-engineering the output of a mail archiver box. I am jolly tired now.

I don't know where I'm going with this. Cheery land of idiot grin, I think.
hirez: (psyche-out (i))
While pottering about Bath because the weather was nice and if I didn't get out of the office there would have been An Incident, I happened upon the following shop or boutique containing a rather nice coat. Given it was Bath, I think the smart money is on boutique. You can't tell from the phonecam-snap that they wanted a fiver short of 200 notes for the thing, which, I don't know, it's a Washing Machine Problem isn't it? A rather nice washing machine problem though.

Something about the thing seemed familiar...

... Aha!
hirez: (Lomo)
(Normal people would be doing this on FaceAche, but, y'know, fuck normal.)



This was the Bath river path at the end of May, just handy for the spray-shop and the Herman Miller works, which is slightly more seventies industrial than Building One on the (ex) HPLB campus.
hirez: (Laser goggles and raybans)
Perhaps I should construct a life where I wander through pleasantly empty and welcoming boho bars while listening to New Order and pass through the slipstreams of curry houses on the way to somewhere else, using the passages that I find for myself rather than the ones the city provides.




Perhaps I already have one like that. Who can say?

This evening's score-draws:

DateRight eyeLeft eye
5/3/20103326
23/3/20102423


Eyes normal for a full house. Well, less abnormal anyway. I am constitutionally incapable of 'normal', as any fule no. Someone must have done Molesworth macros by now, surely. No can has the mrs joyful prize for rafia work, whizz for atomms is whizzy, etc.
hirez: (muddy)
[FX: Stares out of window, then consults the Met Office]

It looks like there will be wind tomorrow.

Excellent. Kites ho!

[FX: Checking swivels, carbon fibre spars, etc.]
hirez: (muddy)
You can say what you like about the convenience of Google Maps/Streetmap/Favourite mapping tool here, but there's nothing like having the relevant OS Landranger to spread out and stare at. If only because of the contours and, hello, cyclist. And they've got the National Cycle Routes marked. They're on the Sustrans maps and the website, but not at a level of detail to be useful.

So basically I'd like the Google UI (and thus the bolt-on ecosystem that's growing up around the API) only with the OS mapping data, because the 3D view with proper lumps in would be a lot more use than photographs of shops, cats and some woman's whale-tail in downtown SF.

I mean, as a wide-eyed wide-trousered child I watched one too many NASA animations with James Burke jabbering excitedly over the top of the flyby, and I wanted whatever unimaginable tech it was so I could do that too.

(This is a condensed version of the Guardian's weekly whine about free GIS data.)

Anyway. Out for a run into Bristol to the map-shop and dear Lord I'm off the pace. Too much beer and not enough distance. Pitiful.

On the other hand, the place is full of strange things just lying about for people to ignore.

Lukewarm phonecam action )
hirez: (Radiation)
Tea in the side-corridor coach reminded me of going to Barmouth. There and back to see how far it was via Polish steam. A guided potter round backstage and a visit to the Nuclear Flask Escort Vehicle (BR on the outside, MOD on the inside). Nearly flattened by flying lump of garden fence.

Pleasingly random.
hirez: (Laser goggles and raybans)
The pottering continues.

Yesterday - Tyntesfield.

Bloody hell. None of the pictures I've seen do the place any sort of justice. (And all the ones I took are in the analogue camera) A large and rambling house seemingly cobbled together from several different ones, with a lathe room, gun room, electrical plant room and steam-heated billiard table with electro-mechanical scoring system. Marvellous.

Today - Clevedon Court. A smaller and older rambling house cobbled up from several bits. Recently home to a chap who bought a steam locomotive and was most put out to discover it wouldn't fit up the drive. However that didn't stop him filling the staircase with prints of interesting railway architecture.

A manor to which I could become accustomed. Yes.

Then a meander to the seaside at Clevedon. Really rather pleasant. On one hand, I suppose I'm having a quiet rage against the dying of the light. On the other, it's going to be three times as horrible when winter draws on properly.
hirez: (My name is legion)
Late again.

[livejournal.com profile] miss_soap remains younger than I for another circle round the sun. Good.

Tomorrow we're off to that there Londons where the streets are paved with bullshit and everyone speaks too quickly. Partly to look at the collection of Bakelite, chrome and angles at the V&A, partly to see about this youthful social dancing that takes place on the Grey's Inn Road. I doubt there will be humppa, but if anyone wants to bribe me with ale in return for not featuring in any future writing, that would be a good place to start. Since I understand the place teems with image-thieves, I should note that my personal photo-policy is 'Don't'. Although I reserve the right to change my mind should the resulting image not resemble a performing seal begging for a herring, a cross-eyed tramp limbering up for a swearing competition or someone who slathered themselves in superglue before running pell-mell through a charity shop.

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