Thursday, 12 July 2018

The Worst Things About Aberystwyth

I've made an alphabetical list of the worst things about Aberystwyth.
  • Arriva Trains Wales rail-replacement buses
  • Beach litter
  • Closure of the Post Office
  • Cycling Cefn Llan (up or down)
  • Jellyfish
  • Mobile phone coverage
  • Municipal treatment of the Carnegie library building
  • No artificial snow ski slope
  • North Parade traffic system
  • Parking enforcement by Parking Eye
  • Seagulls
  • Some weather
  • Tesco
  • The Cambrian News is not daily
  • UKIP
It's good that 100 words suffice. In fact, I have 2 words unused.

Bum bum.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Not the Lambeth Walk

An impromptu stroll through Camden after a visit to the (highly recommended) Crick Institute. A Camden stroll is not a Lambeth walk.

It's a strange land: you pass through Somers Town where the population are fighting a rearguard action against a tribe of bastards. At least they have a [suitably fortified] laundrette

Tripmisleader will tell you that Camden High Road is humming. Which it is, but I can think of lots of annoying things that hum. What passes for useful in 2018 certainly doesn't include tasty looking pubs like the Hope and Anchor

(although do pay heed to the figure surmounting the frontage), or the Princess Beatrice
which has lost its name to one of those silly quasi-enigmatic titles that are supposed to make it attractive.

Coming clean, I have to confess that I knew there was a Burton to be found here:

Whether Santander get the credit for wrecking the street level decoration, or whether they inherited it from some earlier generation of vandals, I do not know. But Monty's original and beautiful octagonal panelled doors survive (bottom left), so good.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Ddoe roedden ni Cadair Idris

Well, last Monday actually, not yesterday.

A notable trip because

  • We've lived down the road from Cadiar for more than 7 years and driven past it umpteen times, saying "One day ... ".
  • It's astounding and everyone says so. To my inadequate mind much more spectacular and fun than Yr Wyddfa [Snowdon], not least because it doesn't have a tacky tearoom on top [it's at the bottom, and very welcome too].
  • Sundry undiagnosed neuropathic nuisances meant I had not walked any distance for about a year so there was some fear in pursuing this idea at all.

We took the Minffordd path which is billed as the "least hard". A fabulously steep ascent through woodland until after maybe 1.5 hours you reach Llyn Cau:

and from here you can see the peak, and realise how far there is to go. Some of the subsequent ascent was also fabulously steep.

Unsurprisingly, from the peak the Llyn is visible. There is something satisfying about seeing from where you have come.

The ascent was slow but achievable. The descent was exceptionally punishing, but that is all to do with knees in their 64th year. Hey ho.

To own up, we didn't make Pengadair, the actual peak. That would have been another two hours of intense up/down gradient, but what we did was just fine. And - two days later - the evidence is that my legs and feet do still work.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Terminalia 2018

Collected pictures may be seen.

A party of 25 or so gathered to celebrate Terminalia in Aberystywth. This attendance was more than 6 times greater than last year's hardy numbers. As the Frau remarked - "Bugger me Rog, carry on like this and you'll need to do a risk assessment next year".

We trod the path of the walls, and noted several places where arguably stones from the original might be seen. Some highlights:

  1. King Garage is sadly now out of business.
  2. A psychogeographic moment: As we crossed Pier Street, I pointed out a little-known alleyway up which some ancient fisherman's cottages still stand, very much on the line of the wall. "I live in one of those", vouchsafed one of our number.
  3. A plaque commemorates the position of the main gate. A member of the party was heard to call "Does anyone remember the old Police Station?"
  4. Our route followed Chalybeate Street (etymology explained in the fuller account of the walls), on which Geraint Furnishings sells magic carpets. We didn't have time to stop, but I'll be back.
  5. A street name that captures it all: Dan Dre is "under the town" in Welsh, meaning just outside the wall. Mill Street refers to a later mill that re-used the wall ditch as a leat. The most recent mill building still stands.
  6. A second psychogeographic moment: the hated and unwelcome Tesco have desecrated the townscape to build an entrance worthy of a prison.
. Fuller, and probably duller, details of the wall can be read.

Monday, 8 January 2018

In Percy Pilcher's wingsteps

Some time ago, in Leeds, I went to a jolly interesting talk by a sociologist. I'm ashamed to say I have forgotten his name, title, and all other useful details. His broad topic was Louis le Prince (one of my heroes) and his claim to be the first to succeed with moving pictures. The speaker did a good job of telling the story (and detailed that bastard Edison's malign, interfering influence).

He then moved on to some very interesting meta-issues: so, the word "first" can often be a tough one to define: First to make a film? First to screen it? First to screen it publicly? First to make apparatus that could be re-used and generalised? First with a process? And so it is little wonder that there are several, often equally valid, claims to being "first". But he also noted that step changes in engineering and science often emerge because the time was ripe: moving pictures, television, control of fission - there is a long list that had numerous parties pursuing the goal contemporaneously, so it's no surprise if more than one crosses the finishing line pretty much at the same time. Sometimes these teams are competing, sometimes they are ignorant of each other.

So no surprises that powered flight also had a number of keen folk after the prize. There's not much argument that the Wright Brothers were indeed first with their short flight in December 1903, although the fact that it was so short made some question its use. But there were indeed a number of competing claims - the time for powered flight had come.

And presumably no surprises that there were a lot of others of whom we probably haven't heard who tried and missed the cut completely, which brings me to my point. On a Sylvester excursion with the In-laws, we are guided to the Percy Pilcher memorial:

Percy Sinclair
Pilcher
1867-1899

The British aviation pioneer who
conducted extensive trials with full
sized hang gliders of his own design
and construction from 1896-99
He made successful towed flights
in his hawk glider from this site
during 1896-97.

Percy was just one of those who was having a go, but didn't come close enough to be remembered in many history books. His story is fully told elsewhere so I won't retell it here. There's a rather good BBC documentary on him that you can view.

There's a psychogeographic twist to it: the memorial had been in the middle of a golf course (like most things in Kent) which closed recently so that certain reptiles could make more money. This necessitated the moving of the memorial (which is still, however, on the hill from which Pilcher flew) - hence the very new looking railings and barbed wire. This means that in going to view the memorial, you can see what a golf course looks like when it is neglected for 12, 24, 36 months. How thin the veneer of civilisation.

BBC production