Archive for April 2008

OM Meet – Beddgelert

Posted by on April 29th 2008 in Great Escapes, Kites

We left the sunny Midlands just before midday and headed up the A5 into the gathering gloom. The sun was lost as we crossed the M6, and the rain had set in by the time we arrived at Beddgelert (after a detour to Wrexham, as Ella the Navigator missed the Llangollen turn-off).

After meeting up with Paul, Beth and Jake the Dug, we mooched around the site for an hour or so trying to decide where to pitch - the Forest Holidays site's not particularly level or well-drained, and it looked like we were in for another weekend like the Braithwaite Mudbath one a while back. Terry arrived and we scouted the site together, he had gone for a pitch with an electricity hook-up, so he was banished to the top end of the site where the posh people hang out. Eventually I decided to pitch in the lower field, where Simon and Russell were already set up, and which was soon nicknamed "the submarine pen" for obvious reasons. The rain was incessant while I was pitching the tent and I was soon soaked right through, Ella sat in the car watching and thought that this was hilarious. Well, it wasn't cold, and I wasn't going to get dry if I donned waterproofs, so I just didn't bother with them.

Jerome and Sharon arrived just as we were finishing up, so we helped them pitch and then it was pub-time. Having no other dry clothes except for the proper walking gear, I reckoned that my soaked clothes would dry quicker in the pub than in the tent, it seemed like a good idea at the time. We passed the newly-arrived Matt and MoS on the way out as we went down to The Tanronnen for a pub meal which was OK but nothing spectacular. After getting some minor hassle from the landlady regarding the ordering of our meals and also about payment by plastic, I didn't feel quite so guilty about my clothes soaking every seat that I sat on. To be honest, I was glad to leave there and head over the road to The Prince Llewelyn to join the other half of the group, and where I met more new faces (Lawrence and Rachel) mixed in with those of the usual suspects. I like the Llewelyn, it's much more my sort of place.

Anyway, soon it was time to head back to base for some shuteye.

Saturday morning was much better weather-wise. Low cloud but no rain to speak of. The tide had gone out by the time we emerged from the tent, and plans were soon made. Ella was feeling a bit poorly, so the original plan of going up either Tryfan or Moel Siabod was ditched and we decided to have a gentle stroll around Cwm Idwal. Jerome was up for this too, so we went off together while Sharon had a day of shopping and other lowland stuff.

The walk around the cwm was good fun. We watched the helicopter above Tryfan (we thought that the chopper was on exercise but it turns out that it was up there for a real emergency - they aided in the recovery of a Worcestershire teenager who was rushed into intensive care with head injuries and broken limbs, it was on the news on Monday (this info is courtesy of Jerome, there's a report on the Grough site here)), we watched the climbers on the Idwal Slabs, and we took loads of photos. We even found some sunshine!


The view up Afon Llugwy, snow above Cwm Lloer


Idwal Slabs - count the climbers.

I make it 16 in view, many others are out of sight at the foot of the slabs.


Lunch was taken at the back of the cwm in the lee of the large boulder, where we introduced Jerome to the delights of flying the Imp. The kite-flying was challenging in the swirling, gusting wind, but I'll certainly be taking it into the mountains again.


Too close for comfort


Back at base, there was time for a quick SS&S before socialising with the others and heading off for Mike's BBQ, where we ate royally and had much fun talking banter and b*ll*cks before the warden decided that the BBQ had become a dangerous forest-destroying wild inferno to be extinguished without delay. Which was bad timing, really, as Helen and Colin turned up to a wet steaming mush rather than the homely fire that we had just been enjoying.

We held out for a while longer but a light rain started so we headed back to the tent for the night.

As usual, Sunday started with more rain. IIRC, all of the OM meets that I've been on have had rainy Sunday mornings. Coincidence? Probably not. Anyway, we packed away and cleared up, said our goodbyes to friends old and new then headed off, pausing only for a few photo-opportunities at Llyn Dinas and a small shopping session in Betws (thanks here to Matt for his kind help at Cotswold Rock-Bottom), before finding somewhere for lunch (the nearest Little Chef).


Boathouse on Llyn Dinas


Of course, it rained all the way home after leaving Betws, and it's hardly stopped since. It's now Tuesday and the tent's still in the wet-bag awaiting the chance to hang it out to dry.

So, no grand peaks surmounted, no classic ridgewalks, no daring deeds done. Nevertheless, it was a great weekend. Thanks from us to all you others that made it so.

Previously thought to be extinct…

Posted by on April 28th 2008 in Great Escapes, Just for fun

... here's proof that the Beddgelert Buck-toothed Bog-monster really exists!

More details to follow.

TJ’s “Fly me to the moon…..”

Posted by on April 24th 2008 in Astrostuff, Pics

TJ, on one of the astro forums, took a great pic while out moon-gazing, I just wanted to share it with you:

Obviously, TJ holds the rights to this shot, so don't nab it without his say so.

Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’

Posted by on April 23rd 2008 in Celebrations, Video (YouTube, Vimeo etc.)





Stand tall and be proud.


Oh, and don't forget that it's also Will's official birthday today.

Corporal punishment returns to education

Posted by on April 21st 2008 in In the News, LMAO!, Mags and rags

It's been over ten years since I bought a newspaper, but the headline on this one meant that I just had to nab me a copy:

Classic! One for the scrapbook. If only they had omitted the apostrophe, I would have had the page framed and hung on the wall above the fireplace.

On a more serious note, there's this, which isn't entirely unrelated.

Observing Report 17th-18th April 2008 Part 2 (More wobbly bits)

Posted by on April 21st 2008 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports

As promised, more from the latest session:

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

And the key:

Observing Report 17th-18th April 2008 Part 1 (Plenty of wobbly bits)

Posted by on April 20th 2008 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports

After a long run of cloudy nights a clear one was well overdue, and I was on standby, ready and waiting to get out there to try out the replacement Baader Hyperion 3.5mm eyepiece.

The skies southwards were clear, but the Moon in Virgo meant that there was a lot of glare down the scope OTA when viewing Saturn. That, coupled with the poor seeing (warm day, cold night etc. etc.) meant that imaging was always going to be a low-quality affair. Indeed, the conditions were too bad for viewing at 3.5mm (x285 mag), so I had to settle for 8mm (x125 mag) on the zoom, which is fast becoming my favourite eyepiece.

WinStars screenshot

Anyway, I managed to get a fair batch of .avi files of Saturn and of parts of the Moon before condensation set in and covered the scope mirrors, terminating the observation session.

It'll take me a while to plough through the imaging data getting rid of the bad frames using VirtualDub, but for now here's a 30-second loop of the bottom edge of the Moon, as captured with the SPC900 webcam, to give you some idea of just how wobbly the view gets when the seeing is poor:

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

Just in case you were wondering what's what, here's the key:

If I get any half-decent images out of the mass of video data, I'll post them tomorrow.

Another milestone reached

Posted by on April 20th 2008 in Wildcamping e-petition

The current total number of signatories on the online wildcamping e-petition now equals the 1350 responses to the public consultation on the draft Scottish Outdoor Access Code (March – June 2003).

Now this total might not seem to be much, but bearing in mind that official support from most of the major outdoors organisations (such as the Ramblers Association and the BMC) and from many online communities (such as UKC and OM) has been sadly lacking so far, I reckon it's a great response. It's good to see that many members of these organisations are signing up anyway, in spite of the apparent apathy of their governing bodies.

So, next stop 2000? Why not? Size isn't everything, but the bigger this thing gets, the harder it will be to ignore it.

If you've already put your name to this, you have our thanks for a job well done. If you've yet to sign up, what are you waiting for?

Ten top tips for healthy feet

Posted by on April 17th 2008 in A bit of a rant, Illness and injury

The experiences of yesterday evening compel me to post this list of tips for outdoors folk who need to keep their feet in tip-top condition:

  1. DO NOT struggle all day to put up a new bathroom ceiling on your own
  2. DO NOT lose your temper with the above to the point where the red mist descends
  3. DO NOT sling your tools across the room in a fit of pique
  4. DO NOT rant around the house swearing like a demented Tourette's sufferer
  5. DO NOT decide that the best way to manage your anger is to take it out on a "convenient soft inanimate object"
  6. DO NOT single out the blue bag for recycling waste paper as your chosen "convenient soft inanimate object"
  7. DO NOT kick seven shades of crap out of the chosen "convenient soft inanimate object"
  8. DO NOT recoil in agony when you find that somebody has filled the chosen "convenient soft inanimate object" with a huge pile of telephone directories and old BBC Good Food magazines
  9. DO NOT remove your footwear to find that what was your size 8 foot is now at least a size 10 and has changed colour from a pallid flesh tone to a combination of black, blue, purple and brown blotches
  10. DO NOT expect any sympathy from the rest of the household when it's time to walk the kids to school the next morning


Political support?

Posted by on April 15th 2008 in Wildcamping e-petition

I just flicked down the list of e-petition signatories and noticed that one Tom King has just signed up. There's a Chris Smith on there too. Anybody noticed any other "famous names"?

(As you can tell, I'm not too hot on politics.)

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