Wednesday, December 31, 2008

the bowd

Images from two walks taken at the bowd following the lines of the disused railway. The steep hillsides do not allow for much sunlight at this time of year so it is cold and quite dark though there is plenty of water around. Distant owl sounds can be heard here but not much wildlife is in evidence although I did see a deer in the woods the other day. Some of the paths here become rivers for a bit but I like to get off the main paths and follow the deer and badger paths. The only trouble with badger paths is that they have a tendency to go under very low trees so a lot of ducking down or going around is in order. I can't imagine that they like the smell that I leave behind but I try not to bother them too much.
Best wishes to everyone for next year, I hope you all have a good one.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

back on the beach

The first few were taken a couple of days ago on a low tide. The further down the beach you walk the further back in time you seem to go. The last two were taken handheld this evening and the three or four large ships in the photo have been out there for about a week now, maybe they have run out of money. I like to see a bit of coming and going on the sea. I grew up near two large ports, so an empty sea looks a bit boring to me. We would have all the ships, The Canberra, the QE2, large oil tankers and all sorts of entertainment.

The only good thing about the Napoli being sat two miles up the coast was that there was something to look at in the water, though it was good for the tourist trade as well. On the night, it was refreshing to see all the torches and fire on the beach, pretty much as it must have looked when any wreck has happened throughout history and it's fair enough for the locals as they have to suffer the inconvenience of it all. The tabloids did their spoiling bit by printing a treasure map with a big X over Branscombe, ensuring that looters came from far and wide to the coast seeking plunder, the greedy fools, as anything remaining was largely destroyed by the next tide and it's a long way to come for shampoo and biscuits. There were stories of people breaking into local sheds and stealing stuff if they hadn't found anything on the beach, it didn't really bring out the best in people.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

woodburning stove

The main advantage of having a stove instead of using a fireplace is that most of the heat doesn't go straight up the chimney, it heats up the metal stove instead, which then acts as a radiator. The stove also has firebricks inside. Pictured here is a Villager and it is a multi-fuel stove which means that you can burn coal inside it as well as wood. It has a number of controls so that you can alter the amount of air going through it, which controls the speed at which it burns fuel. This stove sits in the room on a couple of paving slabs instead of in the fireplace which makes you closer to the heat source.

A six inch pipe comes out of the rear of the stove and passes through a large metal plate covering the front of the chimney and then goes up the chimney at an angle of about 130 degrees. Alternatively you can knock your fireplace out and sit the stove inside the chimney and have the pipe going straight up. Many stoves have a dual option plate on the top rear side which can be arranged so that the pipe goes straight up or out the back instead. All of the metal joints have to be sealed with fire cement and metal tape or fire rope.

This model costs about £700 new here but luckily we had a friend who had one that they didn't want sat in a garage which just needed doing up a bit. Other makes can be considerably cheaper.

As well as heating it is also possible to cook and boil water on it. Mainly I have been wrapping up potatoes in silver foil and throwing them inside, where they take about forty minutes to cook.

Last year in this country 25,300 more people died in the winter months than in the summer, which was an increase of 7% on the previous year although we are supposed to be a first world country. There is a lot of money here but it is very well hidden, sometimes it drives past me and sometimes I can see where it lives but that is as close to it as I can get. It doesn't get shared out very well, that's for sure.

The pot bellied stoves are rather attractive too, as the above picture amply demonstrates. As with all these sort of escapades you start off in ignorance and rapidly become some kind of an expert on such matters, which is part of the fun really and now I know a bit about all things stovular.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

across the windgate to higher peak

Higher Peak has the remains of a neolithic settlement which has been estimated to be six times the size of what is there now, the rest of this settlement having fallen into the sea during the course of time. Excavations in 1964 revealed cooking areas, storage pits and flint tools, including a jadeite axe of continental origin. It also has the familiar giant earthworks of ditches and dikes. The earliest remains of occupation seem to date from about 3,300 B.C. but there is no evidence of anyone living there during the Bronze Age or the Iron Age or in Roman times. On Muttersmoor there was a stone circle of six stones, with one in the centre, all of which were removed in 1830 to be used in a rockery in Bicton.

Whatever happened to this ancient civilisation is unknown. They came up around the coast of Spain, surveyed the country and constructed vast monuments on the hills which call across the land and echo each other in shape and then they vanished. Civilisations rise and fall as sure as the seasons change, for a time they may be remembered but after a while they are completely lost to history. Our present civilisation is nothing special and in time it too will vanish, leaving only a thin layer of plastic, radiation dead zones and maybe a few folk tales or oral history and song.

The decline of civilisation has some amusing echoes for anyone who can find comedy in such things. When I first saw American Gladiator on the television in the 80's I thought that surely this was the beginning of the end, and that all they needed to do now was overextend their empire and get caught up in some costly and futile wars. Other unexpected events also hasten this process and other intentional manipulations will also move this decline along.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Golden the Ship Was - Oh! Oh! Oh!

All things quiet here at the moment, lots of grey and rain and the usual seasonal darkness. I have been ill for the last few days (poor me!) with a nasty head cold which found a weak spot in my teeth almost straight away. My teeth have given me some exquisite pain over the years but for some reason it always comes back as a bit of a surprise. I expect that when this happens to Richard Dawkins he calls out for his dentist but that doesn't work for me although painkillers do help somewhat. At the moment my dentist is twelve miles away and is also in next January sometime. He can look forward to my happy smiling face.

The other year I went to a local private dentist when I had a nasty abscess and he charged me rather a lot of money for some antibiotics and for lifting a very weak tooth out of my head though I was grateful and more than glad to see it go. Last year I managed to lose a tooth eating a cheese sandwich which was certainly cheaper.

The first photo is of the large rockfall that happened last Tuesday or the one before possibly. A lot of this rock has already been washed away by the sea, such is it's power. The last photo was taken on Saturday night at about two in the morning. It was actually a lot nicer than it appears in the photograph, lots of moonlight coming through the clouds and the tide was right out so a nice big stretch of sand to walk on and a warm night too.

I took some photo's a couple of years ago on the coast here of a ship very much in trouble at night. Usually when you see ships in storms around here they are so far out that they don't appear to be that affected by the sea, an illusion I should imagine, but this one was right in close to the shore which is a dangerous place to be with all the rocks and headlands that we have here. I managed to get a few shots of it before it lurched round the bay to Budleigh.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Bulverton Hill

Just a few more pictures from Bulverton taken the other day. Blogger was making it really hard for me to post last time by chopping all my sentences into strange shapes, so lots of time spent buggering about with html. There seems to be a lot of it about lately. We had a big rockfall on Tuesday here but I haven't had the time to get down and photograph it yet, but I will. Anyway who wants to come for a walk with me?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Let me add my strength to yores

Aktually it is only fotherington-thomas you kno he sa Hullo clouds hullo sky he is a girlie and love the scents and sounds of nature...

It is worth mentiononing in passing the weird weather event which took place last week in Ottery St. Mary, largely because it is about five miles up the road from here. As you may have seen Ottery had about a foot of hail, lightning the like of which no-one has ever seen and the town was flooded again for the third time in a few years. Now I don't know what it is that the people of Ottery have been doing and two floodings I can understand but to be host to a freak weather event like this as well and things start to look suspicious. Of all the places in the UK that this could have happened it had to be right over Ottery.

I was a few miles down the road that night and the wind and rain started at about seven in the evening, increased in ferocity and stayed with us all night. At times it died down and seemed to move away, only to come back around again and have another go.

Normally I would waterproof up and go out for a bit of a shufty but I looked out at it and thought the better of it, it really was that bad, at times sounding as if there was someone standing outside throwing handfuls of gravel at the window. I am a bit keen on the weather and I think that the intensity of storms has increased over the last few years. I find myself looking out and thinking "this doesn't seem right" it's as if there is more energy in the weather system now, but I don't know really, it's just a feeling I get.

Ottery is famous for the tar barrel night of november the fifth which is supposed to ward off unfriendly spirits though one of the first things I saw the last time I went was a very drunk man falling over right in front of me and cracking his head open. The rest of the night seemed to be largely comprised of huge crowds of people holding their mobile phones aloft so as to capture a bit of footage, a sight that I should imagine has become quite popular at many events these days, now that we are all roving reporters of some sort.

Pictures of autumn taken today up at bulverton hill including a very obliging cow goofing around for the camera.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

the old church at bicton

Some photo's of what remains of the old medieval church at Bicton which was partially destroyed by the owners so that they could build themselves a new mausoleum. Cold today, snows in London for the first time in seventy odd years at this time of year and it is dark now at five o clock. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.