28 August, 2006

Holiday update - Launceton

Holiday update - Launceton
Originally uploaded by finkangel.

Had a lovely few days just lazing in the sunshine either by the beach or on the site, managed to finish two books already, so a burst of activity today, just done the steam railway and off to the castle in a bit, after I finish my Earl Grey... ;)

Update - Yes, thanks wise-guys, told you posting wasn't working properly... ;)

Holiday update - Launceton

Holiday update - Launceton
Originally uploaded by finkangel.

Had a lovely few days just lazing in the sunshine either by the beach or on the site, managed to finish two books already, so a burst of activity today, just done the steam railway and off to the castle in a bit, after I finish my Earl Grey... ;)

24 August, 2006

Arrived and set up

Arrived and set up...

Been a bit of a nightmare thus far, air turned distinctly blue when my finger got knocked earlier and had to wait HOURS for the caravan to materialise...none the less, we are set up and the caravan is ready for habitation... ;)

Looking forward to pre-chopped steak for tea... ;)

update - remote blog posting not working, updates will be sparce..

23 August, 2006

Learning to cope(?) - update

So, went back to the hospital on Monday (sorry, it's taken a while to type all this), my appointment was at 1045hrs, so I arrived fifteen minutes early to check in (in good time). At a rough guess, when I finally managed to get me and my bag through the door, there were about 70 people (not joking) in front of me waiting to be seen...considering this, I was amazed by only having to wait until quarter past twelve to be told I needed another x-ray, wait until 1305 to have that done and 1350 to actually see the doctor...looks like fresh intakes get the priority, but if so, why issue appointment times at all?? What a waste of time...anyway, the doctor said that the bone was knitting well and then dropped the bombshell...no right arm for 3 more weeks, I have to keep the stupid f**king sling on...I also asked him about the fact that (it only having been one week) my other fingers (the ones that aren't bound together) are starting to visibly atrophy and turn worryingly grey (can barely flex them now)...but he said we'll "worry about that when the bone is healed" :(

Anyway, hospital horror aside, how am I getting on?

Worst thing? Painkillers running out at between 3am and 5am and my recurring dream of being flung around on public transport...the blinding pain when my unconscious mind makes me clench my right hand trying to grab an imaginary hand rail wakes me up with a start every time...ouch... :(

One of the best things so far? Sticky Keys! If you use Windows you can try it yourself, it's part of the built-in accessability functionality - hit the left shift key five times in a row (do it fast), then hit "ok" at the dialogue. Now, in order (one at a time) hit "Ctrl", then "Alt" and finally "Delete" - it's magic (shame it's a bit noisy!), but at least that's the end of me asking colleagues to help me lock/unlock my workstation (hit shift five times slowly to turn it off again btw)! Can't aim my mouse very well still though, and typing remains problematic (doesn't take long before my hand gets cramp), been playing with Dasher in an effort to solve this, but with weak mouse skills it's awkward, a little hypnotic (to say the least) and at my speeds, seems to have slowed me down to about four words a minute (as opposed to my normal 8000)...Certainty gives you plenty of time to think about what you want to say though ("Ent Meet" springs to mind)....still, when the cramp starts in my left hand I am left with little option... :(

Writing (pen-fashion) remains impossible, as are shoe laces...if I'm eating meat then someone has to cut it up for me (on Sunday Mr S chopped up baby Alexander's supper and then chopped up mine)...I'm learning to read books left handed (without dropping them and loosing my place *too* often), and the toilet is getting easier (thank God)...shooting with the tripod is easy but setting it up is hard, maybe a few pics soon though... ;)

Holiday starts tomorrow, the plan to go camping in the tent has been abandoned but a little bit of negotiation has netted us a "For Sale" caravan to rent for the duration, we've booked it for four nights with an option to extend (assuming it's not too difficult to cope, if it's tough we'll just come home and do a foreign holiday later in the year)...

So, swings and roundabouts, really looking forward to the rest...just hope it's possible...cross your fingers for me! ;)

18 August, 2006

Coping with a broken finger...

...it's (despite filler content), got to be more interesting (to satisfy the ghoulishness in you) to hear about what sucks about loosing your primary limb...none of this is terribly amusing to me, but I'm trying to look on the bright side...so, what has been really difficult thus far?

  • Having no limb on the right hand side to stop you toppling over if public transport launches you the wrong way, getting into the office the other day was genuinely scary (no-one offered me a seat)
  • I cannot type or mouse properly (as previously mentioned)...
  • I cannot play any games (I just can't *imagine* what it would be like to permanently loose a limb - GAME OVER)
  • I am restricted to innacurate (left) messy hand-to-mouth pot-style noodle consumption (teeth/fist/headbutt opening, but squeezing the sauce out is a messy nightmare) - chopping/eating/anything interesting is just impossible with my left hand
  • I can't cut my toe-nails
  • Toilet/bathroom hygine is very challenging (I hate to ask you to use your imagination) :(
  • Deodourant on the left hand side is impossible without hitting myself (at least a little) in the face with the spray
  • I can't put my own socks on (very quickly) small ones are almost impossible, larger ones take ages... :(
  • I can't take any pictures, left hand only photographers, I salute you...I can't even hold it up and aim it properly...just shakes...
  • My right shoulder is in constant spasm/cramp
  • My broken digit is constantly throbbing (in a nasty way)
  • My right palm constantly gets "pruned"...
  • This sucks... :(

    (thanks again Flyingpops for help typing, just need to get you trained up on Flickr now ;)

    17 August, 2006

    Silly search terms #5

    Trying to keep the blog ticking, even though it's *agony* (thank you surrogate typists)... thankfully I keep a lot of saved stuff in the blogger archive, so here is one bit - as you know, I collect the more "unusual" search terms that result in hits I get from the search engines (I just keep an eye on it as I go along)...(looking forward to what I will get when the big "G" indexes the "broken finger" posts(!)...anyway, excuse the formatting (if you will) and enjoy the spurious hits below... ;)

    "wikipedia, hot sauce, BDSM" (OMG! Please tell me no-one does that?)
    "portaloo fire" (worse than a tipping!)
    "Celebrity phone numbers"(not here!)
    "bikini jam 20" (Urm, nope, got Bug Jam though?)
    "Oliver Rowe gay"(how would I know!?)
    "Fink washed leather" (sure it's great(?) but no, I didn't)
    "pills in my pocket fink tab" (eh?)
    "isle of white lightning" (You will understand if you are from the UK, but look up "White Lightning" if you aren't)... :)

    14 August, 2006

    broken bones...

    I'm loathed to have to reach for "shift" at the mo...so please forgive from here on in if i don't do so unless required...

    ...on that note typing really isn't funny, left hand isn't trained to cross the whole keyboard and do shift/space, and operate the mouse etc - do you doubt me? just try it for a few hours with your right hand clamped to your left shoulder...(throw the broken finger in for good measure if you need that in order to complete the picture) it's torture...looks like handedness is much more important than I realised up until now...

    None-the-less I will have to adapt, turns out it's blooming 4-6 weeks for recovery - this throws all our plans into jeopardy (least of all the new recipes I had planned) - my right arm is in *proper* agony shoved so hard into the nhs recommend healing position, muscles are clenching with cramp, how can we go camping over summer now...? And I gotta work for goodness sake! All that aside - the doctor tellsl me if i screw the recovery period up it can be a year in physiotherapy...this, I can well do without...

    Cooking proper food is impossible, as is eating it...I'm going to be on spoon/sandwich (which someone else has made) food for the duration...CRAP...

    I'm feeling really down right now... :(

    Broken Finger

    Okay, I've broken my middle finger on my right hand, first time I have broken anything (for some odd reason the doctor dismissed my denial of being guilty of fighting with a stern over-the-glasses frown, how unfair, accidents can happen doc!)...

    I can type, as you can see, (very slowly) with my left hand but the nurse was instructed to bind my fingers together, then tied my whole right hand to my left shoulder, so I'm down to one arm. PC use/turning pages in books/opening doors while carrying anything/etc/etc/etc, in fact, living has now become rather a challenge (not that my left hand was any good at the whole "mouse" thing anyway, constantly missing my aim and mucking up which way round the buttons are...nightmare)...anyway, typing like this is pretty uncomfortable (basically back to one finger), so I'll sign off here...next stop the Fracture clinic... :(

    And no, "B", I'm not going to entertain a ruler on a head strap as a typing aid at this stage either... ;)

    12 August, 2006

    Thai Ingredients

    I'm going Thai... ;)
    Went out and got all the bits I didn't have in the cupboard, namely coconut milk, palm sugar, fish sauce, fermented shrimp paste, galangal, lemon grass, coriander seed (and I also got some new dried chillis, my old ones were getting on a bit... ;) Thai Red chicken curry next week, from scratch... ;)

    update - documenting this on hold now until my finger is better, but, following my instructions Flyingpops' has now cooked this *extremely* successfully for me, twice! Can't wait to have a go myself! It tastes wondeful! I err'ed on the side of caution with the chillis (the prescribed 10 seemed a *touch* on the adventurous side) but I'm confident I can cope with the power after the (5 chilli) experiment...So, recipe, pics and maybe some video in a couple of weeks time... ;)

    11 August, 2006

    Which Superhero are you?

    Your results:

    You are Superman

    You are mild-mannered, good, strong and you love to help others.

    Superman 70%
    Green Lantern 70%
    Catwoman 55%
    Spider-Man 45%
    The Flash 45%
    Iron Man 45%
    Supergirl 35%
    Robin 35%
    Batman 30%
    Wonder Woman 30%
    Hulk 25%

    Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

    Don't normally bother with these things, but, it could have been worse, not sure I like being 55% Catwoman though... ;)

    10 August, 2006

    UK Terror threat foiled

    A several month long investigation by the security forces and the police seems to have culminated about 50 minutes ago with the arrest of 20 individuals (12 of which were *reportedly* extremely close to completing their plan) equipped with liquid explosive devices (TATP?) designed to be packed into hand luggage on flights between the UK and the US...the UK terror level is now up to the highest level (CRITICAL) level (News summary here)...so it appears that UK airport systems had an exploitable flaw...

    All hand luggage on flights leaving the UK is for the time being banned...

    Passengers at Heathrow are facing massive delays, and are being given very little news or advice, apart from to re-pack everything into main luggage...

    This time last year I was off to NY...

    Update - 21 now held, US Counterterrorism officer said they were "not confident" everyone involved in the plot has been taken into custody and uses the words "Liquid Chemical" devices, USA moves to highest terror threat alert level, all flights to Heathrow not already in the air suspended until further notice...oh and the PM is on holiday in the Carribean...

    09 August, 2006

    Kings Place, York Way - Building continues

    Kings Place #1
    It seems almost as if over last weekend Kings Place has crept up so it's now visible through the glass ceiling in our offices (so not been put too far behind by the fire, I guess)...
    Kings Place #2
    ...so I thought I had better post some updated pics (went out for a little photoshoot during my lunch break)...this is the view from York Way...
    Kings Place #3
    ...and this is down Crinan Street...interestingly the office gossip network tells me the garage (just to the left on this shot, the one which used to have this mural on it) and the American Car Wash (with spooky animated maniquin outside) have been asked to quit by their landlords, so even more change for the area ahead perhaps...?
    US Car wash, Kings Cross

    Speed up XP in 15 minutes

    Great procedure here...found via Lifehacker... ;)

    08 August, 2006

    Balfe Street signs - Grand Theft Bike

    Great big smile
    What is it with Balfe Street and funny signs? Spotted this one this morning on my way in, it reads "Thinking about or attempting to steal a bike from here? THEN GIVE A GREAT BIG SMILE There are three CCTV cameras watching & recording you" (it's on the fire escape style exit from the "Central Station")...

    It's a real problem in this area...more than once I have seen scuffy young chavs (sometimes in small groups) cycling around like predators carefully circling and checking out any bike that is left on display, and that is in broad daylight! Torquay slag had his extremely expensive and carefully locked bike robbed from outside "The Driver" during Friday lunch a while ago...I would suggest tying a dog to your bike to guard it (if you have to bring it to Kings Cross), but they are probably more likely to get stolen than the bike!

    Any more of these signs though and I'll have to generate a flickr set for them! ;)

    07 August, 2006

    King Charles Hotel, Gillingham - Review

    Fort Amhurst #8
    So, clutching our wedding invite we set course for Kent early on Saturday evening...we had booked a cabin at the King Charles Hotel (the pictures on their website are hilarious fantasy), Chatham (about 2 minutes from Fort Amhurst, where the reception was to be held), pictured above (in reality), it turned out to be a charming, sympathetic conversion of an old naval military facility, lovingly decorated by local artists and set in a stunning location (as you can see)...the room came complete with authentic capstan full strength aroma (despite booking non-smoking), and the shower was equipped with a handy auto-on feature when running the bath, to really capure that feeling of adventure on the high seas as you wade across the bathroom floor trying to shield your wedding outfit from the forceful spray...
    Fort Amhurst #1
    The reception, in contrast, was in the lovely grounds of Fort Amhurst (here is a view of the town from the ramparts)...
    Fort Amhurst #2
    ...and a view of the festivities from the same location...
    Fort Amhurst #3
    - the food was really good, a selection of BBQ'd burgers, kebabs and wraps, veggies well catered for also, then drinks until the sun was well below the horizon and disco action late into the night, a very pleasant affair spent in the company of some genuinely interesting and friendly folk -
    Fort Amhurst #4
    In the morning we were woken early by the noisy natives setting up a massive car boot sale right outside our cabin window, so we gave up trying to sleep, got up and went down for breakfast (which was included in the price) -
    Fort Amhurst #5
    We asked for one Full English and one vegetarian breakfast, and I think the chef must have been having an off day...the vegetarian breakfast had an enormous block of cheese on the side...how I kept a straight face when the waitress brought it to the table I really cannot say-
    Fort Amhurst #7
    So, we took a quick walk around the boot sale (got a DVD), then hopped in the car and Tomtom brought us home...wedding good, hotel bad... ;)
    Fort Amhurst #9

    05 August, 2006

    Gatwick Tesco - Renovation complete

    Tesco Gatwick #1
    Looks like the renovation is complete (the two girls cheekily put on "model" style poses when they thought I wasn't looking...didn't catch it though as the flash was charging...bah ;)

    Anyway, those are the new travelators to the much expanded second floor, does mean the trolleys now don't have foot breaks for the slopey car-park though, because they have new travelator friendly wheels...
    Tesco Gatwick #2
    Here is a clearer view, down the main aisle...it used to be just big enough for the resturant...other additions are an "Ethnic" food aisle which is simply wonderful, I got lost there for about 20 minutes nosing through unfamiliar packaging and came away with some dried, unprocessesed tamarind (got to have a go!!) which cost 29p... ;) Now to dig out some old Douglas Chew recipies...oh and the beer and wine section is massively expanded, there is a whole aisle of speciality beers...thought I could work my way along the row over the weeks and share my thoughts...I picked one up, starting at the end of the row, so more on that later ;)

    In other news, Flyingpops and I are going to a wedding reception in a castle tonight, so pics from that tomorrow probably (if I see anything cool) as we are staying in a nearby hotel overnight...

    04 August, 2006

    Konstam at the Prince Albert - Review

    Okay, so, finally got my act together and made it out to the Konstam at the Prince Albert -
    Konstam #1
    - (blogged about this before, but just to cover base - it's the resturant run by Oliver Rowe (new celebrity chef) where all the ingredients (well, as far as possible) are sourced from within the loop of the M25, or just *slightly* outside from what we actually experienced) with my usual Friday lunch crowd (this exercise was suggested by Fraggle, who is a rampant foodie, seconded by me (an excitable amateur), and partially-thirded by Whittleman (wannabe pro-chef) who rescued us during the booking process ;) we bagged a table for 9 (even got confirmation back via email! Unhelpfully the phone number on their website is currently wrong, the actual phone number you need to ring is 0871 0752385, thanks Mr W.) so...what is it actually like to eat there?
    Konstam #2
    Well...when the advance party got there? It was actually closed...the doors were locked, *and* we were, even at that stage, rather late...I didn't like that, I thought the staff should, if it is advertised outside that the doors open at 1230hrs - simply open the doors at 1230hrs...shouldn't be too tough? I mean, stood in the road we could clearly see staff bobbing about...leaving us dodging the smelly chavster beggars on the Kings Cross Road for ten minutes was a little unkind...When we did finally gain access, I asked if I might be permitted to shoot a few shots around the place and the (almost, "why are you even asking?") response was "Of course?", the staff were obviously rather laid back(and indeed) perhaps a little jaded to the lens, what with the TV show being filmed there (excellent ;) -
    Konstam #3
    - The decor was a bit on the "interesting" side, obviously being designed with night covers in mind, consisting (as it does) of thousands of ball-bearing chains draped around tiny modern ceiling lights, looking just a little bit BDSM for lunchtime, but not *completely* out of place (I guess) with the massage parlour opposite (note the regulars outside ;) -
    Konstam #6
    - and the kinky leather clothing store 3 doors down...We skipped starters and puds (which would have added £11 per head (at least)) and went right for the main course...I opted for the "Sevenoaks rump steak with Bercy butter, braised chard and mashed potato"...One real high point that must be noted here is that you watch the chef cook your food, no matter where you are in the resturant, you can see the range and the preparation area... ;)
    Konstam #4
    - The service? Way slower than snail's pace - not sure who their usual lunchtime clientelle are, but they certainly aren't in any massive hurry...I can picture a lovely evening meal, working one's way through the rich offerings sipping the *very* well selected English wines taking the best part of 4 hours...(and very pleasant that would be indeed)...
    Konstam #5
    ...but this is absolutely not suitable for a standard work lunch trip...

    The food? Well, my steak, and I'm loathed to say this, was actually a lot worse than average in my opinion, *perhaps* I had been spoiled by the "Exmoor reared" from the weekend (which was frankly superb)...M25 beef? 'fraid I think it's actually rather poor...perhaps those cows need a few hills to walk up to develop the flavour, and a bit less of the CO2...there is a reason people ship in beef from Aberdeen then...

    Duck, Chicken and Lamb were excellent though (I am told)...actually tasted a bit of the chicken which was *fantastic*, but was (and thanks to the layout we saw this done) effectively deep fried in about half a pound of butter....extremely rich, but extremely good...

    Update - Read DJMathu's review here...

    03 August, 2006

    The Old Inn, Halwell (A381, Devon) - Review

    The Old Inn, Halwell #1
    So for dinner on the Sunday night (it being the last night of the break) we decided to try the local pub to the site which was "The Old Inn", located on the A381 in Halwell, the pub has been in existence since at least 1850 (although records do state that it had to be rebuilt in 1874 after being destroyed by a fire, you can read more on their not exactly easy to find website)...we parked in the good sized car park out the back and walked in to find a very comfortable bar, populated only by what looked like 2 locals and one family of 4 busy eating (the place was almost empty)...

    The portly barman greeted us politely enough but with a frown on his face, I put on my best friendly smile, ordered some drinks and enquired of him if we might order some food, to this he said "Well now, that all depends...'ave you booked?", slightly bemused I glanced around the empty pub clocking vacant table after vacant table, each and every one of which, it slowly became apparent, sporting a tiny "Reserved" sign that I had failed to notice before..."Urm, no"...I was forced to admit, "Well, I'll 'ave to check for yer" said he, shaking his head, and vanished from behind the bar...returning moments later he said "You're lucky, last table", so we opened a tab and retired where he directed, a small resturant style-extension out the back (where there were two tables without reserved signs)...

    Shrugging the peculiarity of our welcome aside, the menu was excellent, I opted for "Exmoor reared serloin steak" (they are really good around here for using local produce, Surrey could learn a thing or two from Devon, it looks like a local council initiative), Al went for the Mixed Grill, Vodqueen the Roast Beef and Flyingpops decided to have stir fried vegetables with cashew nuts (the full menu is here, but it was certainly impressive in it's range! We found out later via campsite gossip that the wife (and head cook) is a Phillipino immigrant, which explains some of the more unusual menu options for a Devon pub!)...

    The steak was *perfect*, wonderfully tasty and cooked to perfection, melt-in-the-mouth juicy goodness, chips were a bit undercooked, but I didn't have much room left after the steak and veg anyway... ;) Flyingpops was very pleased with her stir fry (until I tried a bit and told her I thought it was cooked with Oyster sauce), Al obviously enjoyed his Mixed Grill because he didn't say a single word until it had largely dissapeared, and Vodqueen expressed some displeasure at the roast's bland (standing around in the kitchen until needed) flavour and presentation...
    The Old Inn, Halwell #2
    I trotted off to the bar to get a second round of drinks for everyone at some stage during all this and stood in a queue behind a young couple (long haired surfer types) who were being told "I 'opes you don't want to eat, we're packed!" (at this he opened up the hatch to the kitchen and barked "We're really getting busy out 'ere now!" to no-one in particular) prompting a similar confused look to the one I gave (around the empty bar) from the surfers, who smiled, shrugged and left...I had to wonder quite why they couldn't manage to serve more than one meal per table per evening, most other places manage alright...but it's his pub, not mine, I guess... ;)

    When I got to the front of the queue I ordered beer (fine) but you should have seen the scowl he gave me when I tried first to order a "Pimms", "No Pimms 'ere", and then a "Malibu and Lemonade" (the Malibu had run out)...one of the locals turned to me and whispered "Try as you might, you'll never manage to wipe the smile off that one's face" and winked...summed it up perfectly I think... ;)

    Conclusion? Great grub (but order something freshly cooked), book your table and keep the drinks simple for the poor man (oh and he was apparently nice as pie to Flyingpops when she went up to settle the bill, so maybe send the girls to the bar... ;)

    Devon Holiday - Day 3 (Dartmoor, Devonshire Cream Tea and Dartmeet)

    So, on to day 3 - we cook up a nice breakfast and then (after the Grand Prix), headed off into Dartmoor -
    Dartmoor #1
    ...which is a serious climb uphill from Totnes, right the way to Becky Falls (which was closed thanks to an "accident")...
    Dartmoor #2
    ...so we reversed course past Hay Tor...
    Dartmoor #4
    - climbing all the way until the 20 degree plunge to Widecombe-in-the-moor-
    Dartmoor #5
    - where we stopped for traditional Devonshire Clotted Cream Tea (followed by ice cream with more clotted cream) -
    Dartmoor #6 - Devonshire Cream Tea
    - then, with the skies starting to threaten we took the tiny roads over to Princetown, the home of HM Prison Dartmoor -
    Dartmoor Prison #2
    - there were big signs saying "NO STOPPING - BY ORDER" and double yellow lines everywhere, so Al pulled up in the prison museum car park and we trotted down the road to get some shots of the imposing entrance...
    Dartmoor Prison #4
    - and I shot this one holding the camera over the wall -
    Dartmoor Prison #3
    - it was only when we got back that the owners of the campsite informed us that normally, if they see anyone taking a snap burley prison guards and police appear from nowhere and confiscate the camera equipment! Meep! Anyway, looks like we got away with it! Next stop was Dartmeet -
    Dartmeet #1
    - which, because the weather wasn't great actually wasn't full of tourists for a change -
    Dartmeet #3
    - so I hopped pretty much on my own over the rocks (carefully guarding my camera) which are normally heaving with screaming children -
    Dartmeet #6
    - for supper we went to the pub just down from the campsite (but I'll talk about that in another post)...the evening was drinks in the awning as usual, punctuated only by another toilet trip, this time inturrupted by the (loud) shrieking of young girls from the shower block next door "'ere 'shell where are ya?", (mouth full of toothpaste) "mmm 'ooing my 'eeef", "Wot?", (louder) "mmm 'ooing my 'eeef!!!", "Why? You got crabs or summink?" (slight pause then sound of thrown object striking shower door) (crashing noise) (fading screams)...*fink raises his eyebrows and glances to heaven*...

    Prostitution in Balfe Street?

    Police Warning Notice
    Spotted this in Balfe Street this morning, but my instincts tell me that if the police were really to conduct a covert surveillence operation they probably wouldn't put up a sign announcing it...and where is the MET logo? I think it's a pissed off resident...

    I have to say though, it must be late at night, I've never noticed anything remotely dodgy happening when I've been walking down there...(at least twice a day)...

    02 August, 2006

    Devon Holiday - Day 2 - (Caves and Cobwebs)

    So, the weather looking pants (rain hitting the tent pretty hard overnight) we opted for some under-cover (well, as far as possible) activities - Kents Cavern was top of the list for the local attractions (the other blatantly indoor nearby attraction - Sorely Tunnel - upon investigation turned out to be a partially flooded, partially collapsed empty tunnel with attached kiddies play area) -
    Kents Cavern #1
    - Anyway, Kents Cavern is a (roughly) 2 million year old series of passages and chambers created by water erosion (at the time, of course it was somewhere rather different on the globe, but plate tectonics shifted it to Devon where hundreds of bears, hyenas and at least one famale human being (who was eaten by one of the other two types of resident) sought shelter in later years)...it was then, at some stage, largely filled with mud...
    Kents Cavern #3
    Many years later it seems that some Romans crept in, because at the foot of this striking calcite deposit (nicknamed "The Face" for fairly obvious reasons) archeologists found several piles of carefully stacked sestercii...(I think I probably would have taken one look at it in the flickering candle light and fled in terror rather than paying it some money, but anyway)...
    Kents Cavern #4 - Macro
    Had a good chance to try out some low light settings on the camera, caught this shot (above) of falling drips forming a stalagmite (click it to zoom in) which I was quite pleased with -
    Kents Cavern #6
    - and this one of the "Wedding Cake" -
    Kents Cavern #7
    - and this is a 50,000 year old stalagmite (protected behind the glass shields on the right), to put it in context (as it only grows by the thickness of a human hair every year), this deposit is 5 times older than the English Channel... ;)
    Bygones #1
    Anyway, back out into the rain for the quick dash to "Bygones" which is in a converted cinema, it's actually very impressive, the owners have mocked up a complete Victorian high street -
    Bygones #2
    - complete with sweet shop, blacksmiths, bakery etc. -
    Bygones #4
    - they also have some rather interesting curios from days gone by (in this case thank goodness!), we stopped for a cup of tea in the little cafe and then headed back to the camp site (via Totnes Morrisons to buy some steak for tea)...

    Later on, after a few beers I went over to the ablusions and was rather suprised to find a queue of young lads waiting for the toilet (or so I thought), when (getting a little desperate) I impatiently muttered "What are they doing in there?", it quickly became apparent that this queue was not for the toilet at all, but for the use of the socket by the sinks to charge mobile phones/ipods/PSPs....!

    There's a feature of modern life for you... ;)

    01 August, 2006

    Devon Holiday - Day 1 (Tomtom, Torcross and Tank)

    So, set the wayback machine to last Friday (28th July), we set off from home (far too) early and for some reason this time I just couldn't sleep on any of the journey down there (despite my magic NY neck cushion), in fact, I think the reason was actually that we had borrowed Flyingpops' brother's Tomtom navigator for the break, and it makes the same noise as the USS Enterprise going to "Red Alert" whenever there is a speed camera coming up...the first part of the journey was along the M25, so it was rather noisy, as you can imagine... >;(

    Anyway, ("In 800 yards bear left"'s and "As soon as possible turn around"'s aside) made it to the West Country in record time, the Tomtom was *awesome* only leading us astray when concentration was lacking (so I think we are going to buy one)...it dropped us off ("You have now arrived at your destination") literally 2 yards from the entrance to the camp site, sign right in front of us, and avoiding all those nasty motorways too...! Pulled on site leaving a plume of dust behind us and parked up to give Vodqueen and Al (who were to be our companions for the weekend, being here already on an extended break) a call from the mobile...tent was pitched, fridge was lit (in LPG mode), bed was pumped (although our pump had died, so Vodqueen had to come to the rescue)...and then into the 4x4 for our first trip out, to see Kingsbridge (name bit close to Kings Cross for my liking while on holiday though)... ;)
    Kingsbridge, Devon #1
    ...which was beautiful, learned something new too -
    Kingsbridge, Devon #2
    - (click it if you like for a bigger version, but) - it read "WHITE BREAD CAN DAMAGE THE HEALTH OF BIRDS - Please do not feed the swans with white bread, as this can cause serious vitamin deficiences, especially in younger or older birds", passed this sign also -
    Kingsbridge, Devon #3
    - apparently calling me a pig, but luckily it's just a case of mistaken identity (see here)...anyway, we bought some lovely ribs and minty lamb chops from a local butcher, went to the supermarket and bought breakfast goods, spices, more ribs and beer, returned briefly to the camp site to stick said items in the fridges, then off, once more guided by Tomtom to Slapton Sands over "the longest four miles you'll ever experience" - tiny, tiny roads...
    Slapton Sands
    Wonderful view when we got there though, we had ice creams on the beach (looking out for the ticket guy, as our stop was brief), I asked for a "Lemon Lolly" and was told the only options were "Cherry Brandy" or "Orange", shuddering at the prospect of the former, I settled for the latter, and then spent ten minutes looking for a bin for the sticky wrapper and lolly stick...anyway, after a quick look at the monument erected by the US to thank all the locals for running off during WWII we hopped back in the car and zoomed up the coast road (which information signs informed us would have vanished years ago if not for human effort, swallowed by the sea)...
    Torcross #1
    ...look towards the top of the picture and you can see just how narrow the gap between freshwater lake on the left and ocean on the right really is...the other thing to note is quite how rapidly the ground drops away once the sea starts...apparently there is virtually zero difference on this beach between low and high tide, and take more than two steps out and it's a vertical drop!
    Torcross #2
    This is also the home to a rare example of a(/n aquatic version of the Sherman) tank rescued from 85 feet of water by a local diving nut...you see, the US forces didn't occupy the area for no reason, they were training hard for the D-Day landings, one day a bunch of Nazi torpedo boats spotted them and came in to spoil the party, making a real mess of everything and thus changing the Allied landing tactics for the better (unbeknownst to the Germans ;), this tank wasn't involved, but was like a lot of those sunk in the attack...this one, according to the sign, was all kitted out to float, but one of the crew forgot to close the engine plates, and it sank...they managed to "abandon tank" just in time though... ;) Which this young girl was thrilled to not listen to her dad telling her, preferring to play with gravel and mope ;) -
    Torcross #3
    We took a short walk up the cliffs past the pill boxes still evident, watched some small children being hounded by a ravening hoard of ducks and swans -
    Torcross #5
    - and then returned to feast on the spoils of Kingsbridge (all locally reared produce apparently, some sort of local initiative) -
    BBQ #2
    - lit some insect lights -
    Insect candles in the awning...
    - drank a few beers/pimms/vods respectively, and then off to bed... ;)