Thursday, May 20, 2004

Jurassic Coast Morning

Our tent pitch high on the cliff overlooking Weston Mouth, East Devon. Glorious view to the rising sun and the cliffs above Branscombe. In retrospect I think camping on the beach would have been better (no slope) but we were put off by the thought of hauling all our stuff down and up again. In the spirit of wild camping we struck camp soon after this photo was taken and walked down to the beach behind the camera, at Salcombe Mouth, to cook and enjoy breakfast. Below is a view at beach level. Later in the day there were all of 6 people with us on this relatively remote beach (half an hour hike from a road). The town at the end of the beach is Sidmouth.

One point I should make (as a geologist). The red cliff rocks are Triassic in age, capped by whitish Cretaceous limestones. No Jurassic in between, even though we were on the Jurassic Coast. You have to go east for the famous ammonites at Lyme Regis.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Perfect Weather

Who says England has foul weather all the time? The past week has been brilliant - warm sunny days, no sign of clouds most of the time. Few bugs, cool nights, beer down the pub after a walk up the hill and back. seems to be the most reliable and informative service (forget the BBC with its silly cloud icons!)

So what else has been going on? Well, we tried wild camping on the East Devon Coast. Great location (photo to come) followed by breakfast on the beach at Salcombe Mouth. We stayed on the beach all the next day, sun worshipping and studying beach cusp formation.

Then on to Dartmoor and a great bed and breakfast in Sandy Park (sorry, no internet links). We walked 10 miles into and out of the granite moors, past acid-stained rivers, farmland, green lanes, open moorland, granite tors, ancient trackways, more farmland, an isolated tor, a small town and the river again. Then dinner at a fine pub, the Ring o Bells in Chagford. Funny that, because our local is the Eight Bells. Must like pubs with bells!

Monday was a day in London where summer is already heating up the underground and things are starting to fall apart (three underground lines reporting problems at the same time). Had dinner at the Texas Embassy Cantina on Sunday evening with friends from Australia. Dos Equis Dark in England - Yes!!

Took the First Great Western high speed train back to Moreton-in-Marsh and arrived more or less intact and on time. The train is too long for the station and they make the first class passengers walk four cars to an exit that doesn't drop onto the tracks! Good reason why we saved money and traveled standard class.

So there we are after 9 days silence - the ocean, the moors, London, trains and lots of sunshine!

Monday, May 10, 2004

Cotswold Outdoors

Yesterday (Sunday afternoon) we visited Cotswold outdoors at their new South Cerney store near Cirencester. The reasons were twofold - first to check out this chain of stores that seemed to be the nearest equivalent to REI in the UK. second to buy a backpack for April as well as other items.

We're pleased to report that Cotswold scores well on 1) the quality of brands they carry, 2) the staff's knowledge of their subject and 3) an overall positive shopping experience. Compared to REI there isn't the range of gear and in particular those small items that can be just as important as a tent or backpack. Also there were too few staff to assist the many shoppers. But once we got service it was very good!

April settled on a Lowe Alpine backpack with excellent capacity and size adjustments. We could have bought it for roughly the same price at REI.

But other prices seemed way out of line and much higher. A Garmin eTrex Vista GPS unit, which sells for $300 plus sales tax at REI was listed at over £400 ($720 at the current rate of exchange). That's quite a difference!

Monday, May 03, 2004

Hikers climbing down from a peak?

This is an extreme enlargement from a photo included in the Cader Idris travelogue. In the text we refer to the fact that you cannot see the hikers at the low magnification of the image. So I zoomed in on the original and cropped this image. The result is what appears to be a group of hikers on a trail descending from a ridge.

But in fact they are struggling up toward me! A trick of camera angles and the eye/brain assumption that the sold blue green color is sky does give that impression. At a time when photos purporting to be of Iraqis being beaten by British soldiers are making the headlines, it is worth noting that photos do not always convey the truth. Here is the big picture from Cader Idris:

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Continental Starts second flight to BHX on June 14

Every flight (and I been on a few this year) from Newark New York Liberty to Birmingham International seems to be full so it is no surprise that, effective June 14, Continental is putting on a second flight, also using a Boring 757-200 (too bad they couldn't consolidate the two into one large 777!) The second flight (CO-32/33) arrives in BHX at 10:15 a.m. and departs at 12:05 p.m., exactly 2 and 1/2 hours after the first flight (CO-26/27). Assuming it's on time and not cancelled of course ;)

This is interesting news and is surely a sign that Birmingham may build its second runway before all those other NIMBY airports in the London area. Of course I don't live under the flight path so it is easy for me to welcome the expanded service.

Now, when will there be a non-stop flight to Houston?!


It goes something like this: March winds bring April showers bring May

tornados. Batten down the hatches!