Archive for January 2011

Wilde thing

Posted by on January 31st 2011 in Campaigns and Petitions, In the News

"What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing." (Oscar Wilde)

I'd suggest that our leaders have a tendency towards the cynical:

England's forests: Priced at £74.5 million. Value beyond measure, of long-term benefit to the population and the environment.
Ronaldo: Sold for £80 million (AND he gets £11 million a year for six years). Value debatable, short professional life-span, dives a lot.

We live in a mad world when the biggest cheat in soccer can be sold for more than all of our glorious forests.

You can't even argue that they can't be compared - after all, they're both wooden!

Go figure.

Then go sign the petition.

329691 signatories so far, many more are needed.

The map is a screengrab from the 38 Degrees Save our Forests website, the Ronaldo pic is by Jan S0L0 and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license, pic source here.


Posted by on January 27th 2011 in Blast from the Past, On the box, Rambling on...

I went to the Post Office to send a parcel.

On display was a modern representation of a bit of nostalgia... a Thunderbirds motion-stamp set:

The grown-up side of me started to walk away, but by then the boyhood side had rifled through the coins in my pockets and bought the thing.

It's cool. Get one.

No opinion of his own

Posted by on January 26th 2011 in A bit of a rant, In the News

Further to my post-election rant, here's a new prime example of why I won't ever vote for my MP.  He's just not capable of ever giving his own opinion, he always relays back the opinions of others. He used the same spineless tactic when I emailed him about the wildcamping petition.

How he can claim to properly represent his constituents I'll never know. FFS, he can't even represent himself:


I long for the day when we have an electoral system that will allow us to vote them out as well as in:

If you go down to the woods today…

Posted by on January 26th 2011 in Campaigns and Petitions, In the News
Tags: ,

... cherish the experience as best you can - it might well be one of the last times you get to do it.



In case you've missed the news, the Government is planning to sell all of England's national forests (see here).

There were times when the Tories were in favour of trees. Remember "Plant a Tree in '73"? As recently as last month they were promoting "The Big Tree Plant". Now it seems that they've done a U-turn as tight as the one in the photo above.

Thankfully there is great opposition to the sell-off. A YouGov poll found that 84% of the British public agree that woods and forests should be kept in public ownership for future generations (see here). Protests are planned. Battle-lines are being drawn up. Celebrities and leading figures are calling for the Government to reverse the decision to flog our logs and the land under them (see here).

There's an online petition too, it currently has 240,863 signatories. It needs more. Please sign up yourself and get others to do so. I'll cost you nothing more than a few minutes to help to save what should be retained and nurtured forever.

Posters etc. are available, click the following pic to get access to downloadable resources:


How much is that Wainwright in the window…

Posted by on January 21st 2011 in Great Escapes, Rambling on..., Wildcamping

... the one with the wa-ger-ly trail?

Come on, sing along, you all know the tune...

... but what about the numbers?


The path to High Street


I've been doing some rough sums, trying to work out how much the quest to do the 214 has cost so far and how much more it'll cost me to finish them during the next 18 months (I aim to get them all done before I turn 50)...

The total so far is 192 but the actual count is 200, as some tops have been revisited.

Of these 200:

  • 35 were during 8 wildcamping trips
  • 106 were during 25 mildcamping trips, a total of 61 nights
  • 53 were during 24 YHA stays, a total of 50 nights
  • 4 were during 2 undergrad fieldtrips
  • 2 were during 1 B&B weekend

For this costing, I've made the following assumptions:

  • Food and beer costs aren't included - I'd have bought the stuff anyway if I'd stayed at home
  • I'm estimating that I've spent £1000.00 on gear that I wouldn't otherwise have bought
  • Car maintenance, tax and insurance etc. aren't included - again, I'd have paid for them anyway
  • Wildcamping costs were fuel only
  • Mildcamping costs were fuel and site-fees
  • YHA costs were fuel and YHA fees
  • Fieldtrip costs were £20.00 each
  • B&B costs were £50.00 and fuel
  • I'm not including trips when I walked but didn't bag any Wainwrights
  • Calculations cover trips during the last 30 years, so I'm estimating an average mildcamping pitch at £5.00 a night and YHA stays at £10.00 a night
  • Usually I've been getting there, around and back by car, so I'm estimating an average fuel price of £3.30 a gallon, an average of 42 mpg and an average mileage of 450 per visit, giving an average fuel cost of £35.36 per return trip


  • Wildcamping costs were 8 x £35.36 = £282.88
  • Mildcamping costs were (25 x £35.36) + (61 x £5.00) = £884.00 + £305.00 = £1189.00
  • YHA costs were (24 x £35.36) + (50 x £10.00) = £848.64 + £500.00 = £1348.64
  • Fieldtrips costs were 2 x £20.00 = £40.00
  • B&B cost was £35.36 + £50.00 = £85.36
  • Gear cost was £1000.00

Tot up that lot and it comes to £3945.88 which works out at an average of about £19.73 for each of the 200 times I've topped-out.


Mickleden and Great Langdale


So, what of the other 22 Wainwrights that I've yet to knock off the list?

I've looked at the map and I reckon that at the very least I'm looking at 4 YHA visits (a total of 9 nights), 2 wildcamping weekends and 2 mildcamping weekends. For this costing, I've made the following assumptions:

  • Food and beer costs aren't included - I'll probably buy the stuff anyway if I stay at home
  • I'm estimating no spend for gear - barring unforeseen events, I have all that I will need
  • Car maintenance, tax and insurance etc. aren't included - again, I'll be paying for them anyway
  • Wildcamping costs will be fuel only
  • Mildcamping costs will be fuel and site-fees
  • YHA costs will be fuel and YHA fees
  • Calculations cover trips during the next 18 months, so I'm estimating an average mildcamping pitch at £7.50 a night and YHA stays at £15.00 a night, and for the car I'm estimating an average fuel price of £5.50 a gallon, an average of 42 mpg and an average mileage of 450 per visit, giving an average fuel cost of £58.93 per return trip


  • Wildcamping costs will be 2 x £58.93 = £117.86
  • Mildcamping costs will be (2 x £58.93) + (4 x £7.50) = £117.86 + £30.00 = £147.86
  • YHA costs will be (4 x £58.93) + (9 x £15.00) = £235.72 + £135.00 = £370.72

Tot up that lot and it comes to £636.44 which works out at an average of about £28.93 for each of the 22 tops still to do.

OK, so it's gone up a lot, but I reckon it's not too much to pay for being in places like this:

Angle Tarn

I trust that somebody out there will check my maths 😉

Observing Report 8th-9th January 2011 (Venus & Saturn)

Posted by on January 15th 2011 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports, Pics
Tags: ,

Nearly caught up!

It wasn't the clearest of nights, but it was the first half-decent chance for over a month so I took it.

The first half of the session was spent setting up the scope and mount and then getting good polar-alignment. It's always a good idea to do proper checks after either maintenance or extremes of weather - it's surprising how much the ground heaves when it's gone through long freeze/thaw cycles, and it does affect the position of the mount's pier. Setting-up also included re-registering the reference stars so that the thing can work out where it's pointing (and can then work out where to find other stuff)... a time-consuming job if done to a fair degree of accuracy.

The second half was given over to visual observation and planetary imaging. While waiting for Saturn to rise to an acceptable declination, I got the camera set up and had a few practice-sessions focusing on double-stars and then I sat back watching for meteors. When Saturn was in sight I found that I'd picked a night when the huge "Dragon Storm" was visible, so I grabbed some footage of it for processing later. After that I went over to visual for an hour or so while waiting for the next target, Venus, to gain some height in the pre-dawn sky. Eventually the bright crescent of Venus climbed far enough to be nabbed by the CCD. After that I should have packed away but I couldn't resist the temptation to wait and see if I'd be able to image Mercury too. I could see it through the binoculars, peeking through the branches of a tree, but as I waited for it to clear the obstruction the sky became too bright to catch the planet on camera. Better luck next time, maybe?

Anyway, here are the results:


Saturn with storm


Observing Report 25th-26th November 2010 (R-C Moon)

Posted by on January 14th 2011 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports, Pics

Sorry, I'm a bit behind with these reports... I really must try harder!

I remember that it was cold, damned cold, and probably dark...

They're all eyepiece-projection jobs with the DMK mono CCD camera on the 6" R-C scope, can't remember how many frames were stacked.


Posidonius (58 miles dia.)

 Plinius (26 miles dia.)

Burg (24 miles dia.)

Aristoteles (53 miles dia.) and Eudoxus (41 miles dia.)

Articulated trailer

Posted by on January 9th 2011 in A bit of a rant, LMAO!, On the box

Another Beeb Boob...

Just finished watching the original Planet of the Apes movie and then flicked over to one of the BBC channels see what was on offer. There was one of those "on next" screen-shots informing us that Bruce Parry's latest adventure was next up.

According to the screenshot, it's called... "Artic" [sic].

I kid you not.

The Too Many Towers

Posted by on January 7th 2011 in Campaigns and Petitions, In the News, Just for fun

'Who is Sarumather?' asked Piggin. 'Do you know anything about his history?'

'Sarumather is an MSP,' answered Treebeardedgit. 'More than that I cannot say. I do not know the history of MSPs. They appeared first after the Great Schisms; but if they came with the Schisms I never can tell. Sarumather was reckoned great among them, I believe. He gave up wandering about and minding the affairs of the voters, some time ago -- you would call it a very long time ago: and he settled down at Holyrood, or Pàrlamaid na h-Alba as the Men of Alba call it. He was very quiet to begin with, but his fame began to grow. He was chosen to be Shadow Enterprise and Economy Wizard, they say; but that did not turn out too well. I wonder now if even then Sarumather was not turning to evil ways. But at any rate he used to give no trouble to his neighbours. They used to talk to him. There was a time when he was always walking about the constituency. He was polite in those days, always asking leave ... and always eager to listen. Folk told him many things that he would never have found out by himself; but he never repaid them in like kind. They cannot remember that he ever told them anything. And he got more and more like that; his face... became like windows in a stone wall: windows with shutters inside.

'I think that I now understand what he is up to. He is now the Wizard for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism. He has a mind of metal and wheels; and he does not care for growing things, except as far as they serve him for the moment. And now it is clear that he is irresponsible. He has taken up with foul folk, with the RES... Worse than that: he has been doing something to them; something dangerous. For these renewable energy developers are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide the natural landscape; but Sarumather's RES can endure it, even while they pillage it. I wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he blended the races of Eejuts and Men? That would be a black evil!'

Treebeardedgit rumbled for a moment, as if he were pronouncing some deep, subterranean Anglo-Saxon malediction. 'Some time ago I began to wonder how the RES dared to pass through the countryside so freely,' he went on. 'Only lately did I guess that Sarumather was to blame, and that long ago he had been spying out all the ways, and discovering the secrets. He and his foul folk are making havoc now...



With apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien and to fellow LOTR fans everywhere.

Original text sourced from here.

Reason here.


Nature never became a toy to a wise spirit

Posted by on January 4th 2011 in Campaigns and Petitions, In the News

Nature never became a toy to a wise spirit.

The flowers, the animals, the mountains, reflected the wisdom of his best hour, as much as they had delighted the simplicity of his childhood. When we speak of nature in this manner, we have a distinct but most poetical sense in the mind. We mean the integrity of impression made by manifold natural objects. It is this which distinguishes the stick of timber of the wood-cutter, from the tree of the poet.

The charming landscape which I saw this morning, is indubitably made up of some twenty or thirty farms. Miller owns this field, Locke that, and Manning the woodland beyond.

But none of them owns the landscape.

There is a property in the horizon which no man has but he whose eye can integrate all the parts, that is, the poet. This is the best part of these men's farms, yet to this their warranty-deeds give no title.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


Think about that.

Then think about supporting Alan Sloman's "AWake4TheWild" campaign.

What have you got to lose?

A lot more than you'd think.

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