Thursday, August 02, 2018

Activity SuperStress (SuperStore)

We were given a voucher for the Activity Superstore, unfortunately we somehow didn't have the receipt we needed to use on the website.  That may have been a good thing in the long run, I can't tell.

The website is AWFUL, not the layout, but the content.  Twice we found things we wanted to book, only to find that they did not exist at the next level of menu.  You cannot search by county, or post code, only town or village - this is really un-helpful, as I don't want to travel to Scotland for a tasting experience.

We got a phone number and called, after a recorded message telling me there is a seven pence a minute surcharge for the call I was put straight on hold!  I explained the situation and the guy gave me a number said refresh the page to continue the process.  I refreshed the page and it immediately prevented me from logging in.  Another yp/min call to a woman who did something and gave us a phone number to ring the venue.  If I had been told that I could easily have found the number without the need for another 7p/minute call.

It is now booked.  Let's hope the activityis better than the booking process.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Pendoggett Day 14 (Friday) Mystery of the missing Salad

We drove out to Trevose Head, where despite being new National Trust members we still had to pay £4 to park our car.  Why can't the national trust provide cards instead of the horrible temporary membership forms they do at the moment.  We walked around the head, past Stinky Cove and up to the light house.  Then back on the coastal path and across Booby's bay and Constantine Bay.  At the far end we found toilets and an ice cream vendor for much needed refreshment.  Between the two walks we had watched a lost dog search the beach for its owner.  Even apparently intelligent dogs do not search logically.

For a late-ish lunch we drove into Padstow and queued for Rick Stein's Fish & Chips (and 1/2 a salad for me, because I didn't want chips). When asked if everything was OK, I said "I thought the salad was a bit of a joke", and was promptly refunded - a very good gesture, but I would have preferred a decent salad.  Jo overheard the staff say the they didn't think there was anything wrong with the salad.
So judge for yourself:
Salad and Fish
The salad consisted of 4 cucumber sticks, 8 or nine bean shoots, 5 or 6 spriggs of watercress, and a small pot of dressing.

We wandered away into town and were browsing for gifts.  When we went to pay Jo realised she didn't have her bag.  I thought she had it and she thought I had it, we dashed back, and her bag had been handed in - its contents undisturbed.

In the evening we repeated the meal in the Fish and Chip shop in Port Isaac, walking down the hill to sit on the wall of the harbour and chat to a lady with a dog.  How Brody would have loved being able to swim as much as he liked.  We also had drinks from the Golden Lion.  A very nice evening.

Measured Walk: 4.18 miles (36:12 mins/mile)
Walking time: 272 mins Brisk: 38
Steps: 16703
driven so far 880.7

Parking Charges £38

Total miles driven to home 1187

Pendoggett Day 13 (Thursday) Wadebridge to Boscarne Junction and Beyond

We drove to Wadebridge and walked the Camel Trail towards Bodmin.  We got as far as the Camel Trail Tea Gardens and had lunch.  The plan we had hatched (Jo's idea, not mine) was to get the train from Boscarne Junction, then the Bus from Bodmin to Wadebridge.  The tea gardens is 6.77 miles from the car park behind the fire station in Wadebridge according to MapMyWalk.  I restarted it when we left to get on the train and stopped it at the station, but do not remember the readings.  When we got off the train it updated to 8.77 miles, so despite being paused, it had calculated the distance and invalidated further measurement - what is pause for?
We met George on the train again, today he is selling and checking tickets, but they don't do that on the return trip from Boscarne, so we had to pay at the ticket office.

Finding the bus stop was an interesting experience, but we did catch the bus and the wait wasn't too long.

Very glad to be back at the house for dinner, which we bought in Wadebridge Co-op.

Walking Minutes: 182 Brisk: 65
Steps:11,597
Measured Walk 6.77 miles

Miles driven so far 877.9

Peril Index : +1

Pendoggett Day 12 (Wednesday) Castles & a Post Office

We visited Tintagel to look at the Old Post Office - it was locked when we arrived, but was soon open. There is a fascinating array of ancient telegraph machines and also a display of samplers (cross stitch), One done by Temperance Fisher. Another name that cropped up in the display was Sapience - means wise. Karen and Liz, how would you like to be Temperance and Sapience.

We walked down to see the remains of the castle, but just for the view, we did not visit the site.
Then on to Boscastle, where we walked out onto the harbour wall down both sides of the harbour.  Jo is sitting at the end of the walk way, which is partly covered in seaweed (wet and slippery) and didn't fancy the last stretch on to the harbour wall.

We then went up the South West Coastal path about a mile to Pentargon, a view point where there is a waterfall in the cliffs opposite.  It doesn't look like there is a way to get closer, and we had no intention of going further, so prepared to turn back.  But, we found another path and made a circular walk back to Boscastle.  Then home for the England vs Croatia game.


Walking Minutes:173 Brisk:61
Steps: 12,603
Measured Walks: 2.87 (49:38 mins/mile)

Peril Index +2

Pendoggett Day 11 (Tuesday) Trail & Rail

We visited the Bodmin and Wenford Steam Railway.
4612 is our engine for the day
Jo enjoying the train ride
The first journey took us to the station on the Camel Trail where we had turned back the other day, so we walked onward to the tea rooms and had lunch, then onward further and turning back to the station in time for the 14:10 departure. We made 3.76 miles on that round trip.  We had tried to stop at the tea rooms the other day, but there was no parking space, it is really only accessible from the trail.

Back on the train and back to Bodmin General (it's a station, not a hospital), then off to Bodmin Parkway (which is a main line station).  At times the views from the train are stunning and there is no other way to see them. We met George, a work experience student who was learning to 'cash up' and do arithmetic in his head, after a day serving in the buffet car.
I love the smell of steam trains, and am instantly transported back to Shoeburyness station as a five year old. Steam trains look more like 'real engineering' than their modern electric counterparts.

We then drove to Halwyn (where Cornwall County council have a FREE car park, the only one we've seen so far) and walked into Padstow to complete the other end of the trail.  Not being prepared to queue for Rick Stein fish and chips we walked on a little and ate on the quay side - a fairly average meal.

Just a note about AI and machine learning. My glasses lost a lens today, the weakest eye has just a hole now.  My brain has already adapted, so I can sit and type without apparently any problem.  When will machine learning be that good?

Walking Minutes: 205 Brisk: 20 (based on Google Fit data, but the walking times look correct)
Google Fit Steps: 7783  (after morning walk only 13 steps were recorded)
Recorded Walks: 3.76 (20:07 mins/mile) & 4.32 (23:24 mins/mile)

Miles driven so far: 788.2

Pendoggett Day 10 (Monday) - Port Wenn

We put our walking boots on and started on the down hill track to Port Gaverne then completed the extra half mile to Port Isaac.  There was a brief delay while we were denied a cup of tea at a place called "Fresh From the Sea", because its 12:15 and they're only serving food (people who will order food).  It's not high season yet!  On the way down the hill we found a takeaway cup for £1.50 - pretty good value around here.
We soon found the shop to book our tickets for the "doc Martin" tour.

The tour took about 90 minutes and is given by a guy who is also an extra in the show and a resident of Port Isaac.  The picture is Doc Martins house, but only from the outside.  The inside part of the house is a set built in the fields on the other side of the hill.  This is common practice as it eases filming, but some venues are built in real shops - such as the pharmacy.  Here they take all the innards of the shop out and build their own shop inside.  Normally it is only like that for a couple of days. So all the scenes in the pharmacy for the series are filmed in two days.  Filming for a series is normally completed in three months starting in March.  It was a very interesting tour, and also included some of the history of Port Isaac.

After a very nice crab salad at The Cornish Cove:

We visited the Life boat house where there is a recruitment drive - for new donors.  The young lady (Chloe) told us about the costs of lifeboats and the number of lives they save - and also the new focus - which is life guards on beaches to try to prevent expensive call-outs. She is a surfer, so it is important to her.  Nice to see 'young' people working for 'old' causes.

St. Peter's church has an exhibition of the history of the village, which we re-visited.  By now it was 4 pm and the exhibition was due to close, so we started the walk back to the house.  After a shower and some recovery time we topped up supplies at the Port Isaac Co-Op and had dinner.


Walking minutes: 152 Brisk: 70
Steps: 11,859 (phone off during tour)
Miles: 2.26 (30:45 min/mile) and 2.47 (33:05 mins/mile)
Driven so far: 743.5

Pendogget Day 9 (Sunday) Into Darkness

The day started at 2:30am, this was not part of the plan, but we were both awake, the night was clear and not too cold, so we took a walk into darkness and into the garden to see the stars. One thing I had forgotten was how much light is given by the stars and how they seem to stand out from the sky. The haze of the milky way was visible even though there are one or two street lamps on the road just 50-100 yards away.
As amazing as it was we were soon back in bed asleep, and soon wakened by the alarm.  On holiday the ONLY day we have to get up is Sunday. Today we are to visit St Kew church (St James the Great at St Kew) for their all-age service.  It starts at 9:30. We arrive, in plenty of time, to the sound of the bells peeling. Just about everyone seems to be already there - a very small congregation (20ish) in quite a large church. We are greeted by a friendly ex-churchwarden, everything for the service is on the screen, it is quite different to anything I have seen before.  Some of the liturgy is familiar, some not.  They have a nice idea for tracking the progress of the service - the order of service is listed down the left hand side of most of the slides and the current activity high lighted.

The ex-churchwarden has written a walk that starts from the church and returns there, it is all along single track roads, so there are some dangers, but we decide to give it a go.  Jo is standing on the top of the 'Epping Stocks' waiting for her horse to arrive.  These steps are a separately listed structure.
Above are 19th Century pig houses, without the walk I would have been left wondering what they were.

We had lunch at the St Kew Inn.  The original building was built to house workers constructing the church, most of it was rebuilt as an Inn in the 19th Century.  The home to watch the F1 British GP.

After the race we drove to Rock and walked along the coastal path to Daymer bay. Instead of following the route described by the walk we turned toward the beach and walked back that way.  We were planning to stay and see the sunset scheduled for 9:32pm, but the parking ticket ran out at 9:30.  So we drove to Daymer bay - where the car park closes at 9:30.

The beach at Polzeath allows free parking after 6pm, so we walked along the beach, bought tea in the surfers cafe, and sat on the stones waiting for the sun to go down.  Returning to darkness.


Walking Time: 203 Brisk: 72
Steps: 13986
Logged walks miles 2.53 (28:21 mins/mile), 2.53 (34:18 mins/mile)
Driven so far: 738.6 miles

Peril Index +2

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Pendogget Day 8 (Saturday) Sport's Day

Camel Trail
We visited the CamelValley Vineyard, and purchased some wine, because it was early in the morning (9:30) there were no tours available.  They take place at 2:30pm (everything here does!!).  As we pulled into from the vineyard the 'Drive' light had gone out (bulb gone I suspect, as it easily the most used bulb), so I was wondering whether we would have any drive, but the car functions OK - a relief.

We drove into Bodmin to find the Camel Trail, it's an old railway line, so relatively flat.  We went for a short walk - 3.87 miles (23:32 mins/mile) down the trail and back, then topped up the supplies in the local Sainsbury's and returned to the house for:
  • F1 qualifying
  • England vs Sweden in the World cup
  • Ice cream at pub
  • Tennis from Wimbledon
  • Dinner at pub

 ... and so to bed.


No statistics today - not enough activity

Peril Index: 0

Pendoggert Day 7 (Friday) Couldn't get more otter

We visited the Tamar Otter and Wildlife Centre.  I was not expecting much because in previous visits to see otters there had been little to see - the otters are shy and put in pens they tend to either stay in the water or hide under whatever cover is provided.  Not here though, the otters are clearly visible especially at feeding times, when the talk is interesting and informative.
They have birds of prey, too and do talks about them, and allow people to put on the glove to hold the bird.  In the woods there are free-range deer and wallabies.  Some of the deer are tame enough to eat out of your hand - but you have to be incredibly patient.

We were going to visit the Delabole Slate Quarry, but 2:30 (the tour time) came and went, so we dropped in at the Aurthurian Centre on the way back.  This is supposedly the site of Arthur's last battle, and is a string of disconnected pieces of archaeology strung out over about a kilometre.  Some of it is interesting, but the whole site looks a bit tired.


Walking time:146 Brisk:32
Steps: 10,590
Driven so far: 680.9

Monday, July 16, 2018

Pendoggett Day 6 (Thursday) - The Cherry Orchard

This was my first Chekhov play, so here's what Wikipedia says of it
"The play concerns an aristocratic Russian landowner who returns to her family estate (which includes a large and well-known cherry orchard) just before it is auctioned to pay the mortgage. Unresponsive to offers to save the estate, she allows its sale to the son of a former serf; the family leaves to the sound of the cherry orchard being cut down. The story presents themes of cultural futility – both the futile attempts of the aristocracy to maintain its status and of the bourgeoisie to find meaning in its newfound materialism. It dramatises the socio-economic forces in Russia at the turn of the 20th century, including the rise of the middle class after the abolition of serfdom in the mid-19th century and the decline of the power of the aristocracy."
It was nicely played (so far as I can tell) by the Miracle theatre company and has quite a bit of he loves her and she's not interested but loves him - none of which is ever resolved as the characters are scattered by the loss of the estate.
The location for the presentation is the Minack Theatre, carved into the rock near Lands End it is an amazing place, while the stage is small and the audience packed tightly on the terraces, the atmosphere is amazing.  When the production stops there is just the sound of the sea and the babble of hundreds of human voices as the conversations start.  We took a picnic and are it during the intermission. 

After the production we were asked to head towards Lands End to give the arriving audience a better chance to reach the theatre easily.  The roads are single track, we had lost a lot of time trying to get past various vehicles coming the other way.  So we drove to Penzance, where the pirates (otherwise known as Cornwall County Council) tried to fleece us of 60p.  A small amount that generates more anger than it should!  To explain: The ticket machine says "minimum charge 0.60". The notice board says "16:00-09:00 no charge" and "a ticket must be displayed for each space used".  So it SHOULD issue a zero value ticket, shouldn't it.  We didn't pay.

The town is nicer than the county council.




Next stop St. Ives.  We parked in the top car park and walked downhill into town, starting at one end of the bay, we soon found a fish and chip shop for tea.  "Harbour Fish and Chips" is a very nice modern fish restaurant and take away.  In the take away we ordered Haddock and chips and grilled sea bass.  The cook produced battered haddock and battered sea bass.  As compensation for the extra wait we were given two grilled sea bass.  Very nicely done by the staff.  Then to fend off the gulls.
Found this bird in Penzance and watched it fish for a little while.  It looks like a Little Egret.
Finally, Jo accepted this challenge found in one of the St Ives shops.


Walking Minutes: 156  Brisk:59
Steps:11580
Driven so far: 617.8

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Pendoggett Day 5 (Wednesday) This old house

Looking for something to do that does not involve too much walking today so we decided to visit a stately home and then go into Newquay.

We headed to Trerice. It seems quite small when we arrived, but it kept us busy for the morning.  Like all National Trust properties, it has a huge restaurant, so we had some soup and then though about moving on.

Instead of Newquay we ended up at Lanhydrock.  This is a properly impressive house, it imposes itself, like a stately home should.  We arrived just in time to join the gardens tour, so heard some things about the trees that we wouldn't have found out otherwise. Then the long walk around the house, which was fascinating.  Unfortunately we ended up behind a group of eight or nine old women who like to fill the smaller rooms and just chat.  We got back to the cafe as it was closing, and just managed to purchase tea and flap-jack, before returning to the car to get out of the car park by 5:30.


Both these properties have been preserved as well as they have due to absentee landlords renting the properties for long periods.  In the case of Trerice one of the wings of the house was almost lost due to neglect, but the other survived unchanged. For Lanhydrock the lack of a landlord in residence meant that the fashion for remoulding the landscape didn't happen here, giving historians better insight into how changes occurred in the area.

On the way back we dropped in at the Port Isaac Co-op and got some food for dinner.


Miles so far 479.1
Walking minutes:150  Brisk minutes:33
Steps:9,747

Pendoggett Day 4 (Tuesday) Pendoggett to Port Garverne

What have we learnt today?
When walking in Cornwall take secateurs, a small pruning saw and a machete.

In the welcome folder there are written instructions for a walk across the fields and through the woods to Port Gaverne.  We were immediately attracted to it, so I typed the instructions into a document and pasted the result into a Whatsapp message, so that we both had it readily available.  With the new boots I had randomly bought in ALDI, we set off.  The walk is about 2 miles and ‘is not easy’ according to the instructions.  This is mainly due to mud and cows churning it up so making the ground uneven to walk across.  There were other hazards, among them briers, nettles, fallen trees (so that you had to climb over) and of course cows.  Cows appear inquisitive and frightened, both at the same time.  When they decide to move it is surprisingly sudden for such a large animal, and thankfully it was always away from us.
We arrive in Port Gaverne, there is a restaurant called ‘Pilchards’ right on the harbour and the Garverne Hotel on the other side.  The staff are setting up at the hotel so we ask if its open and the waitress tells us the restaurant opens at 12.  Then she remembers that the bar is open, so we order tea which comes in one of the biggest tea pots we have seen. 
After drinking the tea, we decide to go on the South West coast path.  It resumes next to the hotel up a very steep incline (1 in 3?).  The path is a rough concrete road, designed to provide grip for cars and turns into a rock track past the last house.  Once at the top of that the climb continues a couple of hundred yards.  The views from the top out to sea and back to the port are amazing.

We walked for another mile quite slowly, climbing up and down the coastal path.  Not wanting to over-do it, as we have so often in the first few days of a holiday, we turned back and arriving in the port looked at 'Pilchards' for lunch, but it was very expensive so we continued back to Pendoggett and had lunch in the Cornish Arms.

Walk distance 6.02 miles.

While having lunch the garage phoned and said the tire was ready for collection, so we travelled back to Wadebridge, where the tire was soon fitted.  We wandered round the town and bought ice cream from a young lad who didn't seem to have served ice cream (or perhaps customers) before. We also had a short walk along the riverbank and were trying to remember if we had ever visited the town in the past.  We are still not sure.


Pendoggett Day 3 (Monday) Move 'em on, head 'em up

What have we learnt today?
The approximate unladen velocity of a trotting cow is 6.5mph

But first there was a tire to deal with.  A J Wadebridge in (obviously?) Wadebridge, took a look at the tire, he tried to inflate it and the problem was obvious – a hole in the side wall.  As for a replacement, no he didn’t have one. So off to somewhere else – ATS in Wadebridge – no he didn’t have one either, but he can get the exact one for tomorrow.  We will see. So we went food shopping, a first Monday of the holiday tradition.  We started at Tesco, looking for fuel, but despite the website saying there is a petrol station there isn’t.  Across the road at ALDI there is no such boast – just food.  It is the first time I have been in an ALDI – not a bad experience.  We got everything we needed and a few things we didn’t.  Lunch, back at the house consisted of Manchego, home-made chutney, oat crackers and salad. A nice lunch.

The Wi-Fi is on, the faulty router was replaced while we were out.  They didn’t go through setup though, so I did what I could without the sign-in – so no adult filters as far as I can tell and because setup is not complete we occasionally get diverted to the setup page.  This is the second holiday where I have had to set up a router!  Now the tablet is connected, and I should be able to get my email going, but there is a problem sending on my home account, that is still to be diagnosed.

After a short break to catch up on our sleep (another very early morning this morning) we headed to The Jamaican Inn to read all about the smugglers and smuggling, and a little about Daphne du Maurier.  On the way we were stopped for a while by a heard of cows that a farmer was moving to another field. Once he finally got them ‘mooving’ I tracked the speed on the Sat-Nav, they averaged 6.5mph.

The lady on the reception at the museum was telling us she was talking to a lady who has been put in room 4. Apparently the most haunted room in the place.  The receptionist found us the cheapest price and we spent about 30 minutes in the small museum.  On returning to the bar we had drinks and then ordered tea. 

Aware that we hadn’t walked much today, we drove off after our meal towards a lake and Goliath Falls.  On the way I took a diversion up a dead end road, much to Jo’s disgust, to see if we could get to another lake. Some way up we crossed a cattle grid, and ended up unintentionally chasing a young cow along the road.  Young cows, especially frightened ones do not run at a consistent speed.  Eventually we got to the falls and walked along the bank of the river Fowey, and climbed up and down the steep banks, watching the Labradors playing in the water, and thinking how much Brody would have enjoyed it.  As the terrain got steeper and harder we decided to turn back, and then returned to the house.

Miles driven so far:379.4


Friday, July 13, 2018

Pendoggett Day 2 (Sunday) Blowout!

We woke up early, mainly due to the light but possible also some bird song, so by 7 am I had worked out how to use the microwave, cooked and eaten breakfast, and looked at two or three weather forecasts.  It’s supposed to be wet, even thundery for most of the day, but for now it is just cloudy.  We drive to the village to check the church times (11am Sung Eucharist), and while walking around the church the rain begins.  We drive through Port Isaac on the way back, but by now the rain is hard enough to deter another walk, so it’s back to the house.  At 9am we are sitting in the kitchen extension, under the clear roof listening to the rain – which is quite loud and strangely soporific.  So a snooze soon results when I try to read.
10:30 comes and we get ready for church.  It is still raining, but not so hard now.  There are streams running down the side of the roads.  On the way we come across a rock in the road.  There is a driver very close behind, there is too much oncoming traffic and too little width to swerve so we hit the rock.  For now, all is OK and we arrive at St Endellion in plenty of them. Their car park is almost full with 15 minutes to go. When we get in the church it is strangely dim, it turns out there is a power cut, no lights and the leaders must speak loudly to be heard. 

It is a high church – lots of liturgy (some sung), ‘bells and smells’ and an eight-minute sermon. The incense has its usual effect, I slowly begin to feel nauseous.  Jo doesn’t like it either.  The service ends with the blessing of a new bell rope – not made of hemp as the old ones are.  This will provide better responsiveness and feedback for the ringer. After the service the priest is offering drinks to celebrate his 10 years at the church.  We are told that Pendogget is in the St Kew parish, so we will go to their All age service next week.
When we get outside the rain has stopped and we immediately notice that the nearside front is flat.  There are concerned noises from some of the congregation, but there is little they can do, most of them are well over 10 years my senior.  I managed to change the wheel, I’m slightly proud of myself and slightly surprised that I managed to unscrew the nuts. I said at the time ‘I will pay for that in the morning’, but I already have back ache.  The wheel is in the car, not in its carrier under the car – first job tomorrow is to get it fixed and hope there is no damage to the wheel.
We went ‘across the road’ for lunch, to the Trevathan farm restaurant.  It is a strawberry farm.  After lunch we also bought some strawberries, I will report on them later.  We were squeezed in to the restaurant and sat at a reserved table, being told we must be out by 2 pm.  That suited me as I wanted to be back in the house to watch the Austrian GP by then.   It took 5 hand washes to get my hands clean enough to eat. The food was very good, although I forgot to tell them to hold the gravy (again!).  We arrived back just in time for the parade lap – that was good enough.  I’m not saying anything else about the race.
After the race we drove to Port Isaac and wandered around the village for a while, then followed the coastal path westward for about a mile before turning back at a flight of steps.  I made it to the top, and was breathless, with a thumping heart – more than enough exercise for 1 day.  Jo stayed at the bottom and waited for my return.  Back in the village we bought fish and chips from ‘The Slipway’ restaurant.  They would not sell me two fish and one chips and charge me less, so we had fish and chips twice.  Nicely packaged, and the fish was lovely, but the chips were slightly under cooked – not good value for £17.00. We sat on the quay side, ate our food and watched a young Labrador playing in the water, we missed Brody.

Peril Index +1 - stranded in church car park with a flat tire.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Pendoggett Day 1 (Saturday) U turn if you want to (but I HAVE to)

Having taken Brody to my sisters for the fortnight, we packed up and left about 10am for the five-and-a-half-hour drive to the north coast of Cornwall.  The traffic was slowing our journey, but the ETA on the on the sat-nav remained at 3:28pm.  We were planning two stops, so the earliest time of arrival (4pm) would not ever be achieved. The Dartford crossing was not a problem, but further round the traffic slowed to almost a halt.  We were offered an alternative route to save five minutes – which I readily accepted.  It took us off the motorway and through various town centres.  The first U-turn was in Farnham I think.  Instead of a right turn, which is forbidden, go left do a U-turn (round the station entrance) then cross the junction and the right turn is achieved.  All very slow! Later another turn was mis-interpreted, and we and we ended up going round a ‘circle’ until we got back on the right route. By the time we got to the A-303 (and after a short stop for lunch) the ETA was showing 5:29pm – we had lost nearly 2 hours to the traffic. 
After a second short stop, which was partly to allow for some movement, and partly to get out of the heat.  Somewhere in the traffic the air conditioning had effectively given up and was blowing warm air into the car.  Windows are great for cooling, but not that good on a day when temperatures reached 27C.

We arrived in Pendoggett around 5:45, the last part of the directions say “after about 6 miles look out for a pub on the right”, but don’t tell you it’s name.  We spotted the pub easily enough, but missed the earlier board advertising it (it was on the left), so went straight passed, and had to do our third turn around.  The house is not easy to find because the name plate is obscured by a large fuchsia bush, but we did find it after a bit of looking. Then there is the challenge of the key safe – easy enough to put the combination in but much harder to get the door to open.
Once inside the house is spacious, and easily suitable for four, plenty of us two. The Wi-Fi is not working, there is a replacement router coming.  surely it would be a simple thing to leave a note next to the router to let us know - they had to come in to clean!
We had a lovely 3-course meal in the pub garden, still in warm sunshine beyond 8pm in the evening and followed up with a short walk, then more unpacking, an hour’s TV, and off to bed.


Miles driven: 288.1

Peril Index
A Peril Index will be added to the bottom of some posts, to indicate how much (or little) peril we were in. The scale is 0 to 10. 0 is normal life. 10 is, for example, an early 20th century visit to Antarctica.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Where does it all go?

I'm not talking about my money - the money that is paid into the bank by my employer and pension providers - I'm talking about the portion of my money that I don't get - my contribution to the wider society.  On my latest statement from HMRC, on the back page is a breakdown of the spending which totaled up my contributions and split them out, so that I know how much was spent on the various categories.  They even provided a nice graphic.
For those who prefer numbers, here are the percentages I calculated from the numbers that HMRC provided.

Welfare 24.30
Health 20.30
State Pensions 12.90
Education 12.30
National debt interest 5.50
Defence 5.20
Public order and safety 4.20
Transport 4.20
Business and industry 2.50
Government administration 2.10
Culture eg sports, libraries, museums 1.60
Environment 1.60
Housing and utilities eg street lights 1.50
Overseas aid 1.10
UK contribution to the EU budget 0.70
Total 100.01
I'm not sure what prompted this - maybe it was #brexit, but the numbers are revealing.  Here's the things that stand out for me:
  1. We spend more servicing debt than we do on defense.  This is a good reason to get the debt down so there is less interest to pay.  Doing that would provide more (but only a little) for Health and Welfare.
  2. Overseas aid is trivial, so cancelling that, as so many would like to do doesn't really change anything for us, but leaves many of the least well-of in the world in and even worse position.
  3. Housing and utilities eg street lights: I thought that street lights were financed by County Councils, so I'm not sure what this is all about.
  4. The EU contribution is the lowest item. If this is meant to influence my thinking on #brexit, its too late.

Of course there are some questions that need to be answered, for example, is the VAT that I pay spent in the same proportions? I'm assuming that everything they get goes into a big pot and is spent as they wish.  My wish is that were not the case, I'd like to see a line on my payslip that let me know how much I'm contributing to Health and Welfare, that would help in my understanding of how to fund the NHS.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

CenterParcs Longleat, with Thomas - Day 4: The Railway Children

After a reasonable night we were still up late, the morning is spent on breakfast in the villa - nothing special, although I have now worked out how the microwave works so I can cook my porridge the way I like it.
After lunch we went to the pool for a last visit.  We decided to get the 'land train' - a vehicle pulling either two or three coaches seating about 20 per coach.  Very basic, but very necessary on this huge site.  As we drove past some of the people in the villas close to the road waved.  Why is it not just called a train - even without rails road train would work better.  When was the last time you saw a sea train, or an air train.  All trains go on land as far as I know.
Arriving at the pool later than planned we moved dinner back half an hour to get a reasonable amount of time there.  Thomas was seated in his 'flotation device' and was really enjoying being pushed through the water.  At one point he was kicking his legs and moving through the water under his own power, the direction of course was quite random, but I like to think that he realised that it was his action causing the movement.  While the others went off to go down some of the bigger slides he stayed with me, and we went out deeper, where the water was warmer.  By now it is dark outside and the atmosphere was changing inside the pool - the temperature outside was close to zero, inside it had dropped and the water at the edges cooled down quickly.   Thomas was feeling the cold.  Out in the middle the water was still warm so he enjoyed that more.  He was happy to get his mum back though. Then I tried a little swimming   The pool is not designed for straight swimming, but along the divider it is possible occasionally. After a few widths I was tired, and wondering how my shoulder would hold up.
We left the pool, getting washed and dry in the changing rooms and headed to dinner at Las Iguanas.  The service was good and appropriately attentive, the food was nice enough, if a little on the spicy side.  Anyway we all enjoyed ourselves.  The only slight disappointment being the beer - Brave Red Ale - a craft beer, which lacked body, although the taste was OK.

CenterParks Longleat, with Thomas - Day 3:The Howling

A slow start to the day is becoming the norm.  The overnight snow had left white patches on the ground, but there was so little it looked like a heavy frost.  Last night was supposed to have been the coldest of the winter so far, with temperatures predicted to drop as low as minus five.  I don't know if it was that cold because the temperature in the villa was quite constant and warm.
We eventually ventured out into the cold, and got as far as the Sports Bar.  We booked a pool table for an hours pool.  Like the bowling my recent experience is non-existent, so I played badly even by my poor standard.  Thomas seemed to enjoy the environment of the sports bar - perhaps it was the endless TV screens showing mostly the same thing, but weirdly some are slightly out of sync.  One or two have different programs.
From the Sports Bar, Jo and I took Thomas back to the villa, while Liz and Ray went to the Aqua Sana for a spa event.  On the way we looked for the bird hide.  It is next to a small pond which was still frozen over at 4pm.  Just up the bank at the back of the pond is a villa with very noisy children playing.  We instantly blamed them for the lack of birds, but a few moments later the real reason became apparent. A cat came prowling through the scene, obviously intent on something we couldn't see and unaware of our presence it went on its way.  The few birds there had been were already gone, and so it was our turn.  We made our way back up the hill on the way back to the villa.  We had not ridden on the 'train' yet, when we arrived at the stop it was just a couple of minutes away.  Frantically we tried to disassemble the push chair as the 'train' arrived, we were still trying as it left, so we gave up and walked back.
Once back in the warm Thomas was soon complaining that he was too hot but even unwrapped he was not happy.  Pointless was on the TV, but having it on was pointless - we couldn't hear it above his cries. Eventually, after I swaddled him and rocked him he dozed off, but not for long - in less than 30 minutes he was back at full volume.  At four months a child knows his mother and father; he also knows when they are not around and protests accordingly. Even the flames from the log fire, which had so fascinated him last night had no effect.  We decided to take him for a walk - back in the bear suit, back in the push chair and on our way up the hill, the volume and frequency reduced slowly.  Near the end of Cascade Way we met mum and dad coming the other way - all is well for the rest of the night.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

CenterParcs Longleat, with Thomas - Day 2: Water World

After a reasonable nights sleep, I comment about the beds and the shower.  The bed is comfortable and large enough for me not to have feet sticking out of the end.  The way the duvet is placed on the bed, and tucked in with a very large sheet means that the duvet only reaches to my chest.  The chalet also cools down quickly, so Thomas was cold during the night.  The central heating is set to automatically return to its default plan after a certain amount of time, so trying to make it stay on over night seems to be impossible. The shower is good, and I enjoyed a good stream of hat water for the duration - no fluctuations in pressure of temperature.  Refreshed by a good night's sleep we are planning to visit the pancake house for breakfast.
Today, we walked the 1.5 miles to the Plaza, and arrived at the pancake house in time for a late breakfast.  The pancakes are very good, I had a Smoked Salmon and rocket pancake.  The others also had a sweet one after their savoury one, but I refrained.  Thomas was offered various tastes from the pancakes, most of which caused him to dribble excessively.
After that it was on to ten-pin bowling.  We had an hour booked and managed two games.  I played badly and could not achieve my usual level of accuracy, so overall I was well beaten.  Never-the-less, we all enjoyed ourselves, passing Thomas around so we could take our turn.  He put up with all of that without a big fuss.
Then to the pool, to introduce Thomas to the water.  The baby flotation devices are expensive, so we decided to look after him, but a couple offered us theirs, as their son had grown out of it.  There are still lots of kind people in the world, and we were very happy to accept their kind offer.  He seemed to enjoy the freedom it provided and was happy kicking his legs and getting some movement.  We were sat just in the wave pool, when the wave started we sat on the edge.  He enjoyed the wave crashing next to us and watching it splash the people next to us - that was perhaps the most entertaining thing for him.  Later we left Liz and Ray in the pool, and took Thomas to get a cup of tea (for us, not him).  We fed him and almost immediately he slept, he barely finished his milk.  Eventually it was just him and I, dozing in the chair - him properly asleep and me nodding off and waking up.
When Liz and Ray returned form the pool we started the return journey to the villa.  We waited for the 'train', but it was full, so we walked back, down the valley and up the other side.  I pushed him all the way - exercise complete for the day!