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OK, so we're working backwards...

The apartment we rented for a few days turned out not to be in Camden, as we had thought when we booked, but right by Euston Station. That actually turned out to be more convenient, especially for the Friday when we travelled home. However, Camden isn't far from Euston, so on the Wednesday we just set off walking and soon arrived at Camden High Street.

I don't think I've ever seen so many tattoo parlours all together in one place before. Masses of things to buy, unfortunately, none of it is the sort of thing I personally would want.

Camden High Strret

Just a couple of minutes walk from this busy scene you reach Camden Lock.

Camden Lock

At this point you can leave the road and take to the canal towpath. I've taken photos of Regent's Canal before so as the weather was rather grey, I didn't bother this time. You'll just have to imagine the peaceful lapping water, the large houses and the geometric cages of the aviary in London Zoo. More pictures behind here...Collapse )

By the time we reached Hyde Park corner, my feet had had enough. G was still full of energy, so we parted company. He went off exploring (and ended up at Clapham Common, whence he caught a train back to central London), I caught the Tube to St Paul's and visited the London Museum.

The museum is arranged chronologically and we had covered the pre-history on our last visit. I therefore started at the Romans and worked my way slowly through the exhibits until I reached the Saxons. So many of the finds in this museum are recent. The V&A and the British Museum are full of things that were donated or acquired many decades ago, but the London Museum displays lots of items that have been found during the massive construction boom that has occurred recently and which still continues. Apparently you have to dig down through 6 metres of rubbish to get to the Roman layer, but with new foundations being dug and the Crossrail tunnel boring its way across London, new finds are being discovered all the time.

Realising that there was no way I could see everything before I had to go and meet G, I skipped the plague and the Great Fire and moved on to more modern times, passing quickly through the Victorian streets (genuine shop fronts and shop contents rescued during the redevelopment that took place in the 60s and 70s) to the Olympic flame from the 2012 London Olympics and the Lord Mayor's coach.

Lord Mayor"s coach

Apparently it cost £850 back in the eighteenth century. It may have seemed expensive at the time, but as it's still used every year, they've really got their money's worth out of it!

I then caught the Tube back to Embankment station, where I met G and we went for dinner at our favourite pizza restaurant before heading back to our apartment.
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I'm going to write this short break up in reverse order -- or possibly even in random order! -- just to make sure I do put an account here in LJ. It's also likely to be a bit scrappy, but I never got around to writing up either our last trip to London or the trip to Exeter because I kept feeling it needed Doing Properly, thus it never got done at all.


The reason for going to London now instead of our usual late December pre-Christmas trip was twofold. Firstly, G had a one day conference to attend about doing educational research. This relates to the book he published recently on Lulu about numeracy for students in FE colleges doing vocational courses. Secondly, it dawned on us that now we aren't tied to college holidays, we don't have to frantically squeeze our winter break into the short gap between end of term and Christmas and we can take it more peacefully whenever we want.

Day 4 was the day of G's conference, so I had a day to spend doing whatever I liked. In the morning, I met J, an old friend from university days. She and I have somehow managed to keep in touch through all the intervening years and have actually seen more of each other lately due to J and her husband's fondness for walking holidays in Wales and G and I liking to visit London. J still lives in Croydon, which is where she was born and brought up, so it was easy for her to travel into central London where we successfully found one another amongst the crowds at Victoria station. J's husband has been poorly recently and has actually spent the last week in hospital, but he's recovering and is expected to be sent home any day now. Anyway, as visiting wasn't until the afternoon, J could snatch a few hours in the morning to meet me.

The prime purpose of meeting was to have a good catch-up chat, so we just walked to St James's Park, wandered round for a bit, had a cup of tea and a cake in the cafe in the park and wandered around a bit more before J had to catch the train back. At one point our wanderings took us to Horse Guards Parade, where, purely by chance, we arrived in time to see the changing of the guard. One lot of guards had splendid red cloaks while the other guards had black ones. It wasn't the most exciting of ceremonies. After the arrival of the new guard, heralded by trumpets, the new guard lined up facing the old guard while the officers rode into the middle and conversed for ages. I don't know whether they were updating one another on the events of the day so far, or whether they were just chatting about the weather and the football. Anyway, we eventually got bored and wandered off, but, unlike the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, you are right there with nothing separating you from the riders.

The New Guard arriving.

Household Cavalry

Not shown in the photos are the four mounted policewomen who accompanied the troopers and cleared a path through the crowd for them to ride through.

Household Cavalry

After we finally parted company back at Victoria station and J had left to return home, I caught the Tube to South Kensington and spent some time in the Victoria & Albert museum. I've visited a few times now, but there's still more that I haven't seen. I then wandered (very slowly because my feet were sore from all the walking we'd done the previous two days) up to Hyde Park, through the park to Hyde Park corner and then past Buckingham Palace and thence to the St Jame's Park Tube station where I caught the Tube to Embankment station where I met G. His conference had gone well and we had another gourmet burger at the Gourmet Burger restaurant, which is by The Clink gaol, before catching the Tube back to Euston and the little apartment.

Thames at night

Thames at night
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46/52 for the group 2016 Weekly Alphabet Challenge

This week's theme was: T is for Tread

I knew exactly what I wanted to shoot for this week, but couldn't find a huge tractor tyre with big tread, so ended up with this last minute desperation shot.

There's not much tread left on these boots now. They have been brilliant and I've had them for years, but sadly they are at the end of their life. :(

Worn tread

In other news, today turned out odder than expected. The woman who normally hosts our local Quaker meeting has just had a hip replacement and though she's recovering well, she still needs to rest so we met at my elderly friends' house instead. As it was a lovely morning, I decided to walk and get a bit of extra exercise.

After meeting, I walked back down into town with Liam, an Irish chap who attends when he's staying in the area. As it was nice, he said he'd walk a little further and I decided that rather than walk through town, I'd walk with him around the path that runs alongside the river. The town route is a little shorter, but involves climbing a steep hill whereas the river walk is longer but flatter. We were back on the road, literally within sight of our house, when some neighbours appeared, accompanied by a big black dog.

"Do you recognise this dog," they asked. Neither of us did. "He's followed us all the way along the trail," they said and we couldn't make him go back.

We looked at the dog. It was big, friendly and black, with curly hair. He was wearing a collar with a tag that said, rather unhelpfully, "scan me."

"We'd better take him to the police station," I said.

The neighbours had a small child with them, so I volunteered to take the dog. Fortunately, I was wearing a belt which I could use as an improvised lead, so Liam, dog and I set off back over the footbridge and along the road to the police station, which turned out to be completely deserted. Why do problems always occur on a Sunday?

There was one of those speaker things with a button saying press. I pressed the button and a distorted voice said something.

"Hello, I said. "We have a stray dog here."

The distorted voice said something I couldn't catch.

"Sorry, you're breaking up," I said.

"You need the dog warden," the voice said, a little more clearly.

"I don't know the number of the dog warden," I replied.

Silence from the other end.

Liam and I waited in the hope that a number would be forthcoming.


Then I saw a sign on the window saying "stray dogs" and a phone number. I tried the phone number but only got a message saying that no one was on duty before being put through to the council switchboard. I attempted to negotiate the computer menu and pressed 3, which I thought was the right number, but ended up talking to someone from Welsh Water. I apologised and hung up.

Then I did what I should have done in the first place and took the dog along to the vet's surgery. I was fully expecting that it would be closed and that I'd have to phone someone to get either the dog warden's number or for one of the staff to come to help, but it was open! A very helpful young woman invited us in and a young man scanned the dog and discovered that it lived in town. So that explained why the neighbours hadn't been able to send it back, it was trying to return home!

Thankfully, all the details were up to date and the young man phoned the owner. "Have you lost Coda?" he asked. The person at the other end must have said no because the young man then said, "Well, you have lost Coda because he's here."

So the story had a happy ending and I managed to get home only an hour late with the dog safely left in the care of the vet.

Current Mood: relieved relieved

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I'm getting a bit behind with posting my weekly challenge photo. I actually thought that I'd have to go off-topic last week, then, finally, last Friday, we had some sunshine. Unfortunately we had people coming that day to cut down a couple of big trees in our garden, so I couldn't go anywhere and you'll have to put up with the view from my study window.

A sunny day at last!

This week was more varied than last week. We've had brief sunny intervals intermingled with sudden downpours, days of continual rain and some high winds, but no tornadoes, thankfully, though one did pass about 30 miles south of us. However, I am glad the two big trees have gone. We've been worried about them for the past few winters and a big branch came down off the one in the back garden last Christmas. If we're going to have a windy winter, I'd rather not have the additional worry of branches and trees falling.
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For yesterday's dinner I cooked everything from scratch. I made cottage pie with peas and carrots followed by Welsh cakes. The only problem is that I had to run an extra load in the dishwasher this morning to deal with all the washing up! Also I can report that I opened the first jar of this year's jostaberry jam and it was very nice. Not quite as tart as last year's and not quite as much flavour. This was either because the fruit was riper when picked or because I couldn't make the jam right away so froze the berries for a while. Anyway, it's still nice jam and a variety you can't buy in the shops.
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On Tuesday, we went on another expotition. This was an exploratory walk around an area that neither of us had visited before.

We drove to Trawsfynydd and then took the road that leads across bleak moorland to Bala. A mile or so along the road we found a parking place by a chapel. The chapel seemed to have been converted into a private house, but the parking area was far enough away that it didn't look as though it was part of their property. We put on our boots, crossed the road and headed up a track into a farm yard where we expected to pick up a footpath that headed up into the hills, following a small river.

After a false start where we ended up at a barn, we were put right by a helpful woman who emerged from a caravan in the farmyard. Once on the right path we followed it, rather boggily at times, onwards and upwards.

The terrain in this area is completely different to the wooded valleys near home and also nothing like the very craggy landscape of the mountains actually close to Snowdon. In fact it always reminds me of Scotland, but that's probably because that's where I met this sort of upland blanket bog for the first time.

Distant snowy peaks

There were some beautiful clumps of bright mosses, many different species all growing together and covering the rocks in a soft wet green cushion. Eventually, after negotiating just a couple of fences (fortunately plain wire and not barbed) and fording one stream, we reached our destination, the ruins of the smallholding called Dolddinas. More pictures and more adventures behind here...Collapse )

A final photo taken just before we descended to the old railway line.

Thorn tree

Remarkably the weather remained dry until we were back in the car, though as you can see it was very grey and brooding.
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I'm feeling mentally exhausted, despite not really having done anything all day but fiddle around online. I couldn't concentrate on anything because there were 4 young men with chainsaws, a cherry picker and a giant shredder taking out a couple of trees that had grown too big for the space in our garden and had become potentially dangerous. What with the noise of the saws and having to keep an eye on what they were doing and popping out every so often to consult, I feel ready for a quiet evening.

I am sad to lose the trees, but it will be nice to have more light. It's a job we've wanted to get done for a couple of years, so it's a relief that the trees are gone before we have any winter storms. The back garden seems so much bigger now and I have a blank canvas to work with.

Current Mood: relieved relieved

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I posted a photo of a die and a to-do list recently. Today I really wasn't playing Productivity Roulette (as we call it over on Habitica). As I had 14 tasks and my ISP had a problem so I had no internet most of the afternoon (eeek!) and I couldn't use an online Random Number Generator, I cut up little pieces of paper, wrote the numbers 1-14 on them and put them in a small bag so I could draw out a number at random. Here's what I did...

1. Clean toaster
2. Freeze bacon
3. LJ post Yr Ysgwrn
4. Mod interview questions
5. 1 pomodoro ironing
6. 1 pomodoro ironing
7. Family admin stuff
8. Write up Traws walk
9. Go through bag in conservatory
10. Clean kitchen floor
11. Replace hall and landing light shades
12. Move jewellery upstairs
13. Assess or close challenges
14. 1 pomodoro of Quaker stuff

First number drawn, #14. Spreadsheet updated, bank statement filed, email drafted.

Second number, #1. Cleaned crumbs out of toaster.

Third number, #6. 1 pomodoro (i.e. 24 minutes) of ironing.

I then cheated slightly and chose #8. Write up Traws walk, as this was a sitting down at the computer task after two physical tasks.

I'll carry on with this method tomorrow to get the rest done.
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It's cold outside now! I have just been to deliver a get well card to a friend and then, via a roundabout way through some woods (wooo! spooky in the twilight!) to the post office where I posted two letters.

Well, one was just returning a form about changing our gas payments to a cheaper deal but the other was an actual letter. I rarely write letters these days. So rarely, in fact, that I've only just used up the stamps I had left over from sending last Christmas's cards.

The letter was to my MP to express my views about the current lack of democracy and the attempt by the right-wing tabloids to run the country by mob rule. As an unrepentant remoaner (as the Brexiteers call those of us who voted remain and who won't simply roll over and give up without a fight), I might, reluctantly, agree that the Leave vote won. But the margin was so small and there had been so many lies told, that I don't agree that it gives Theresa May carte blanche to do what she likes without allowing Parliament a say in the matter.

I wouldn't mind, but leaving the EU won't actually solve the problems that caused people to vote Leave as a protest against what they see is wrong with their lives and being outside the EU could make their lives a whole lot worse if the economy nose-dives.
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I finally got the timing right to take a pack of white poppies to sell at the Quaker meeting yesterday. Because we only meet twice a month, I usually forget until Remembrance Sunday has come and gone and it's too late. I'm now about to make a donation to the Peace Pledge Union with the proceeds, plus adding a contribution of my own.

Despite what I wrote two years ago about the Royal British Legion poppy appeal, I actually did buy a red poppy this year, mostly out of habit to be honest, but I am getting increasingly irritated by the insistence that all TV presenters must wear a poppy, even when reporting from the US on the US election. Poppies are not a thing over there, so the pristine ones that the reporters were wearing must have been specially posted out to them. Also there was the huge fuss over Fifa banning the wearing of poppy armbands. Honestly, they're footballers playing a game. I'm sure they can manage to not wear a poppy for 90 minutes. And despite what the pro-poppy lobby say, they are increasingly becoming a political symbol.
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