Archive for June 2008

25 years ago today…

Posted by on June 29th 2008 in Congratulations!
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... only two really important things happened...

The Black Adder, Episode 3 of Series 1 (The Archbishop), was first broadcast, and;

A Welshman, Luke Talion, was born:


Who would have guessed that he would grow up into this handsome fella?:


The whole family would like to wish you a happy 25th birthday, Luke.

Your sisters send their love and can't wait for you to get in touch again.

Wherever you are and whatever you're doing, we'll always be here for you.

You know where we are if you need us.

Love from Mum, Stef, Ella and Anna.

Resistance was futile

Posted by on June 28th 2008 in Shiny new kit, Thanks
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A couple of years ago we bought a cheap 2-pole dome tent for the kids to use on holiday, it was quite roomy and it had a porch with a prop-up flap that all 4 of us could fit under. It was OK for the price, but it suffered from condensation and took ages to dry out. I had a look at it the other day and decided that it was neither suitable nor serviceable for our summer holiday.

So, today we went web-trawling for yet another tent. The requirements were: 3-season, sleeps 2 with gear, one decent porch, sub-£100.

I remembered that Mike Bell, AKA The Doctor, had recently blogged about his latest tent, the Argos Semi Geodesic 2 Person Tent, stock no. 340/0717, so I had a good look at his report and figured that this tent might fit the bill, especially as it had been reduced from £69.99 to £34.99.

After a quick debate with Chris this morning, I went online and reserved the last one at the local Argos, and 30 minutes later it was on the lawn ready to be pitched.

Then the downer. One of the pole-elastics was frayed through. No matter, I got on the phone to the shop and they said that although I couldn't get a replacement from them, the next-nearest Argos had one tent in stock, and they would replace the faulty pole. I reserved that tent and went to do the exchange.

Well, the lad behind the counter must have been having a bad day. I gave him the one faulty pole and explained that it was the only bit that needed replacing, but after struggling to get the new pole-bag out of the package, then failing to untie the pole-bag pull-cords, he just gave up and insisted that I took the whole new set, at no extra charge, thus saving him from the hassle of doing the job right. Looks like that's somebody else who's owed a beer on my account.

20 minutes later and the replacements were back home. 10 minutes later and the tent was up.

So, what's it like?

Well, it's huge. The format's not unlike that of a Quasar, but it looks bigger. If it wasn't for the cheaper fabrics (polyester throughout, not a hint of rip-stop) and the cheap fibreglass poles, this would make a good year-round tent, I reckon it's probably good enough for year-round site-camping. The Argos ad lists the following features:

  • 1 room.
  • 1 front and rear door.
  • 4 air vents.
  • No see UM mesh.
  • Attached ground sheet.
  • Hydrostatic head 2000mm (That's the fly and the groundsheet).
  • Taped seams.
  • Tension adjusters.
  • Quick clips.
  • Weight 5.8kg.
  • Size of tent overall (L)460, (W)160, (H)120cm (I've corrected this info).
  • Size of each room 220 x 150cm.
  • Size of living space 220 x 150cm.
  • Height at highest point 120cm.
  • Packed size (H)20, (W)20, (D)56cm.

There are a few things of note that they've not listed:

  • Both porches are big enough to cook in (if you're feeling brave - the fabric's not fire-retardant), I reckon the Tilley Titan twin-burner with grill will fit in there no problem.
  • The air-vents are adjustable, held open by the semi-rigid spar or closed with the velcro tabs. A nice touch here is the gusset inside the vent, designed to prevent wind-blown rain from working its way up the fly and through the mesh onto the inner. This is a feature that the door-vent on my Force Ten Spindrift would benefit from.
  • All pole-sleeves are continuous.
  • It's a "pitch inner first" tent.
  • The groundsheet, which looks to be durable, is bath-tub style and it's properly reinforced and taped at the stress-points.
  • There's an all-round valance to which peg-out loops are attached, but there are also tabs between the fly and the valance, so the fly could be pegged out with the valance tucked away if not required.
  • There are 4 long fixed storage pockets in the inner, and a basic removable gear-loft too.
  • They say it's a 2-person tent, but it would take 3 adults + gear at a push.
  • There are many tie-in points to fix the underside of the fly to the poles to reduce flapping.
  • There's a spares-pack containing: 1 guyline with a runner, 1 spare peg, 2 spare pole-sections, 2 pole-repair sleeves.

As Mike pointed out, the pegs are heavy steelies and the poles aren't up to much, but minor details like that can be addressed (I've plenty of spare ally pegs, and some redundant ally poles which may fit after a bit of jiggerypokery). The guylines needed re-tying but that's to be expected on cheap tents, it's only a 2-minute job to fit them properly.

One more thing, something that I've never seen on any other tent - the porch poles pass through sleeves on the underside of the fly. This makes them a bit fiddly to insert, especially as the sleeves are quite narrow.

Anyway, it's up on the lawn awaiting the rain that we're bound to have because the hedges need cutting.

Here are a few pics:


It's a biggie. I've included a 5'3" stroppy teenager to give some idea of scale.


It's broad across the beam.


Looking up one of the vents.


The valance pegged out. Note the extra tabs where the valance meets the fly.


Quick-clip fly attachment with tensioner.


Loadsa room.

 

Looks good, eh? It's a nice colourscheme, no?

Wassat? #2 – 3 for the price of one

Tags:

OK, time for me to fess up.

Last time I was out on a wildie, I lost one of my standard-issue U-Dig-It folding trowels. Well, actually, it's not really lost, it's within 20 yards of the summit of Kentmere Pike, but I'm damned if I'm going back for it. Anyway, I considered buying a replacement, but had second thoughts. You see, I'd been tinkering with a prototype titanium version for a while, but never got around to finishing the job (no pun intended).

Then I got to thinking about those times when I want to go lightweight and give the Jetboil PCS a rest. Mike Bell had kindly distributed free samples of his beer-can stoves (pic) during the OM Beddgelert Meet, and I was keen to try out mine. The only thing missing was a pot-stand and somewhere to stash it.

So I came up with this idea. A digging tool, stable pot-stand and windshield all in one. And just for good measure, it fits neatly into my Alpkit Mytimug, leaving plenty of room for other stuff. I think I'll call it a Win-dig. It's been suggested that it could be used as a mouse-trap, but frankly I fear for the sanity of anyone who could conceive such an idea.

This prototype's made from 1mm aluminium alloy, cut with secateurs, folded over the doorstep, neatened up with a Brummie screwdriver and curved by forming it around the drainpipe on the side of the house. OK, so it's rough-and-ready, but it works well enough to prove that the idea's worth following up. The next version will be in a decent grade of 0.5mm stainless steel and made with proper tools. I'm not sure if it's worth wasting good titanium on a final version, but time will tell.

Anyway, here's the pics and stuff, sadly there are none of it in use with the beer-can stove, as it's been terminated (I stood on it by accident):


Dig with the pointy end downwards. Use 2 hands. Think "SnowClaw" and you'll get the idea.


Stick the pointy end into the ground to stop it falling over. It's more stable than it looks.


A neat fit inside the Alpkit Mytimug.


Blacklisted?

Posted by on June 26th 2008 in Blog on Site

I just clicked on the "Syrup" link in the footer of this blog, to keep up with current events there.

Imagine my surprise to get the following message:

You have been blacklisted from the website for spamming.

That's curious. All I've done is submit a couple of constructive comments and asked a few questions about the theme. Nick's responses have all been fine.

It's got to be an error unless my site's been hacked/hijacked, but I can't contact Nick Berlette (the theme's author) to discuss this matter, as I can't access his contact page due to the ban.

Hmm. I'm a bit stuck here.

Nick, if you're reading this, please whitelist me, or at least let me know why I'm blacklisted, as I've no idea what I've done wrong.

:-?

If it ain’t broke…

Posted by on June 24th 2008 in A bit of a rant, Wildcamping e-petition

The wildcamping campaign's back in the limelight, and so are some of the old chestnuts...

Time and again we read things like "If it ain't broke, don't fix it", generally followed by something like "legalising it would only give license to the chavs/New Age travellers/vagrants to exercise their rights, causing disruption and spoiling it for everyone", and "lay-by campers leave piles of beercans/rubbish/excrement all over the place, it's a mess".

Can people not see that the the spoiling chavs/New Age travellers/vagrants/lay-by campers get away with it, and get wildcampers a bad press, BECAUSE it's broken?

Define wildcamping and support it with the law, then enforce the law. With such a definition, chavs/New Age travellers/vagrants/lay-by campers wouldn't fit into it, therefore the powers that be can discriminate according to the law.

How simple is that? It's hardly rocket-science, is it?

Response analysis

Posted by on June 23rd 2008 in In the News, Rambling on..., Wildcamping e-petition

I just thought that I would take this opportunity to explore further the e-petition reply, adding in a few observations where appropriate:

This Government appreciates the potential benefits of wild camping in England and its attractiveness to campers who already have the opportunity to camp in the wild in Scotland.

Whoever composed this reply should realise that wildcamping in England does not have "potential" benefits. It has "actual" benefits. The benefits to the practitioner are obvious - exercise for the body and mind, freedom from the rat-race, the opportunity to prove oneself self-reliant and capable of making the right decision come what may. But there are also benefits to the local economy in the form of cash for purchases made, car-parking fees, local transport fares, even free advertising for the area in the form of online trip-reports and personal recommendations of places to visit (or to avoid).

The Land Reform Act in Scotland allows for wild camping, but the land issues and the legislation in England are somewhat different. The introduction of wild camping in England would be a controversial issue, which would require both significant consultation and legislative change.

We've not been campaigning for the "introduction" of wildcamping, we've been campaigning for it to be supported in law. Wildcamping has been going on in England for hundreds of years. It's a bit late to talk about introducing it as if it's something new. Anybody who has access to the internet could have figured that out within seconds.

On open access land wild camping is prohibited under Schedule 2 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, which lists all restricted activities. Therefore, new Regulations would be required to exclude wild camping as a restricted activity. Any change to the current rules on wild camping in National Parks and Ministry of Defence land would require new primary legislation.

That last sentence isn't entirely true, as I said in my previous post. Wildcamping in all National Parks could be allowed by the National Parks Authorities, or permitted by bye-law, over-riding the prohibitions set in Schedule 2 of the CRoW Act, as currently happens in the Lake District National Park and on Dartmoor. No "new primary legislation" would be required for this. The law already supports such matters, but the CRoW Act could be clarified to make this more obvious, especially to the NPAs.

The Government has no plans to allocate the necessary resources to consider proposals for such legislation at present, and is concentrating on following up the successful introduction of 750,000 hectares of open access land with new legislation on access to the coast in the Marine Bill, which is currently going through Parliament.

Sounds good, but think again - wildcamping on those 750,000 hectares still isn't allowed, unless they're in Scotland, the Lakes or Dartmoor. Indeed, wildcamping on the coastal access land will probably be formally prohibited by the CRoW Act when the Marine Bill is passed, instead of just being an act of trespass as it is now. In short, that last paragraph says "look, we're about to make matters even worse for you". That said, I'm bemused by the concept of "introducing" land. Who or what is the land being introduced to? Or is the land new, perhaps claimed from the waves?

So, are we being told that change is impossible?

No.

We're being told that change is inconvenient.

If we were terrorists / illegal immigrants / striking miners instead of campers, you can bet your bottom £Sterling that the powers that be would move heaven and hell to get new laws introduced to deal with the situation.

And as for that other country involved, the one that didn't even get a mention, don't forget that "it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... but for Wales?"

The Government replies!

Posted by on June 23rd 2008 in Wildcamping e-petition

I've pasted this in from the e-petition reply site, where the Prime Minister's Office has responded to the wildcamping e-petition as follows:

This Government appreciates the potential benefits of wild camping in England and its attractiveness to campers who already have the opportunity to camp in the wild in Scotland.

The Land Reform Act in Scotland allows for wild camping, but the land issues and the legislation in England are somewhat different. The introduction of wild camping in England would be a controversial issue, which would require both significant consultation and legislative change.

On open access land wild camping is prohibited under Schedule 2 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, which lists all restricted activities. Therefore, new Regulations would be required to exclude wild camping as a restricted activity. Any change to the current rules on wild camping in National Parks and Ministry of Defence land would require new primary legislation.

The Government has no plans to allocate the necessary resources to consider proposals for such legislation at present, and is concentrating on following up the successful introduction of 750,000 hectares of open access land with new legislation on access to the coast in the Marine Bill, which is currently going through Parliament.

Interesting. And not entirely factual. Wildcamping in National Parks could be allowed by the National Parks Authority, over-riding the prohibitions set in Schedule 2 of the CRoW Act, as currently happens in the Lake District National Park. No "new primary legislation" would be required for this.

Oh, and it looks like Wales still does not exist on the maps available at Westminster, as Wales is not mentioned in the response. That's a shameful omission. If I was Welsh, I would be deeply offended.

Wassat? #2

Here we go again. This time, it's a gadget that I spent an idle 10 minutes knocking up from a spare bit of ally sheet.


Go on, you know you want to.

Posted by on June 22nd 2008 in Rambling on...
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Still using Internet Explorer?

Get yourself a proper browser.

The latest version of Firefox is now available, and the download server's behaving itself after the initial rush.

Comments: ownership/moderation/policy

Posted by on June 17th 2008 in Blog on Blog, Site update

After reading Jeff Chandler's recent article about comment ownership, where he refers to a discussion over at IntenseDebate, I got to thinking about how I've been treating comments here, and whether I should declare some sort of policy.

Since starting blogging back in Jan 2007 there have been few occasions when I felt I needed to step in and moderate. Most of the time I just let the comments stay "as posted", but there have been a couple of spats between "opposing factions" where I've had to shout "BREAK", step in and state the unwritten rules, then step back and let battle recommence. In another instance, one of my posts was regarded (wrongly) as an attack on the policies of an organisation who I'll not identify here, it attracted so many comments with so much vitriol and insulting profanity that I got fed up of starring-out the obscenities and eventually deleted the whole shebang without due notice or apology. I can and do accept all manner of swearing, but not in an insulting or inflammatory manner. It's a matter of context, there's a big difference between "Oh, f***!" and "F*** off!"

On the lighter side, I've taken the liberty of deleting a few extraneous comments where the author has accidentally double-posted, and I've moved a few comments from pages to posts, as I'm now using a theme that, at present, doesn't allow or show comments on pages (although I hope that this situation will be resolved soon). I don't go around correcting spelling, punctuation and grammar for people (although I don't know how I manage to keep my inner stickler at bay, the compulsion to get out the digital equivalent of the red pen is always there) unless the author asks me to do so. I do edit the email and/or URL on older comments when the author has provided updated information, this ensures that their (W)avatar remains consistent with their identity, and gets around the problem of old URLs leading to dead sites.

So, what about a policy?

Well, that could depend on who owns comments, and opinions on this matter vary as you can tell from the comments on Jeff's blog. For myself, I consider a comment to be similar to a good old-fashioned snail-mail letter - it starts off as yours, then you post it, then I receive it and it becomes mine, then I read it, then I decide whether to bin it, or frame it, or run a highlighter-pen through the juicy bits... I reckon that if you're going to comment on here, the comment belongs to you up to the point when you post it to this blog. At that time, it may well have entered the public domain, but, as it's on my blog, it's under my jurisdiction, even though the content of the comment remains the property of the author. After all, I'm held responsible for this blog, so I reserve the right to control it, on the basis that I can't have Responsibility without Authority. I'm the only person with admin rights to this blog, if I don't have the authority to cut out the crap, who else does? A comment author certainly doesn't, due to my admin restrictions.

Mind you, that's just my opinion, based on common sense, and the law doesn't always see things the same way. Intellectual Property Rights would be a source of conflict.

Anyway, regardless of who owns a comment, or the content therein, here's my draft policy:

I will leave all comments in their intended places and in their unedited forms unless one or more of the following apply:

  • If a comment author asks me to modify, move or delete one of his/her comments, I'll consider making the requested change(s) so long as there's no significant alteration of the context of the comment or any debate associated with it;
  • If a comment author changes his/her email address or URL, I'll make whatever changes I see fit for the smooth running of this blog;
  • If I decide to change the theme or layout of the blog, thus affecting the placement and/or visibility of comments, I'll make whatever changes I see fit for the smooth running of this blog;
  • If any comment contains insulting profanity or other content which I deem to be causing or likely to cause trouble, I'll edit or delete as I see fit, unless Akismet gets to it before me.

I'll try to remember to display the reason(s) for editing comments, so that folk aren't left hanging wondering what happened and why. I'll also reserve the right to amend this draft policy until it's in a form with which I'm happy. You'll find a copy of the latest version below each comment input box.

Oh, and feel free to comment on this if you like!

:mrgreen:

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