07 June 2012

Cornish Mining Heritage

Mines 17Mines 1Mines 2Mines 3Mines 4Mines 5
Mines 6Mines 7Mines 8Mines 9Mines 10Mines 11
Mines 12Mines 14Mines 15Mines 16Mines 18Mines19

Cornish Mining Heritage, a set on Flickr. Click any image to enlarge
A quick dash to Cornwall for the extended weekend found us enjoying a glorious walk along the cliff-tops and valleys in the Botallack area of Penwith. One of the centres of the now defunct Cornish tin mining industry the walk is dotted with shafts, chimneys, count houses and engine rooms at every turn. Indeed there are so many, in various states of repair, the area has been designated a World Heritage Site.
The "Danger of Death" warning should not be taken lightly. To this day, not all the tunnels and shafts have been mapped. It is not unknown for a thinly covered shaft to suddenly "re-appear" with drops of many hundred feet in places.

01 June 2012

Robots. Are they getting cleverer?

 If you comment on this blog, and in numerous other places on the web, you are asked to "prove you are not a robot" by typing into a box the letters that you can read on the screen. These are, as I'm sure you've all seen, written usually in a squiggly type pattern, or in varying sizes and/or fonts although lately I have also seen things like sums and photos of house numbers. The logic of course is that us humans can identify these not so easy to read characters, whereas a computer/robot/spambot won't be able to. Only a month or so ago I remarked how easy they were to read, never having got one wrong. Now, in the last couple of weeks I have had to re-try incorrect entries more often than I have got them right, one actually taking five attempts.  So, are these little "tests" being made harder because robots are getting cleverer, is my eyesight getting worse or, and more likely, does my monitor screen need a damn good clean?

31 May 2012

Loughborough and Chatsworth

Great Central Railway, Loughborough Station
They even had the flags out for us (Click to enlarge) 
Mrs Wurzel and myself slipped into history mode last weekend. On Saturday we drove up to Loughborough for my birthday present, a fine dining experience on the Great Central Railway . We arrived early and had time to visit the station in the afternoon to find it was operating as it would have done at the height  of the steam era with all staff in period costume.

We returned in the evening to be greeted  on a red carpet, and shown to our seats in the first class restaurant carriage by a very attentive waiter (steward?).  The first of 6 courses was already waiting for us, and soon the steam train was on it's way through the Leicestershire countryside. In all the journey was around 3 hours or so, with several stops, one of which was on a bridge in the middle of the Swithland Reservoir, which gave the almost magical appearance of dining whilst floating mid-lake.  In what seemed like no time at all we were back from whence we came, but there was no rush for us to leave so plenty of time to finish off the bottle of wine before heading back to our hotel (thoroughly recommended).

On Sunday we headed off after breakfast for Chatsworth House . Very busy thanks to a surge in interest due to the current TV series about it, but still plenty of room to wander around and explore at your own pace. A very impressive house crammed full of paintings and sculptures, and pretty much everything in between art-wise. In my eyes there was simply too much, there were plenty of fascinating individual pieces but the overall impression was almost too much to take in. The gardens on  the other hand were amazing, spacious but with something new (and often unexpected) to see at almost every turn.

Chatsworth House
Chatsworth House - Click to Enlarge

Chatsworth House Gardens
Just a small part of the gardens - Click to enlarge

All in all a very enjoyable weekend, certainly helped by the glorious weather, and also the discovery of The Peak District as we drove to Chatsworth, an area now on our list of places to explore in the future.

29 May 2012

Seen On The M1

Whilst driving on the M1 this weekend (a weekend away, more details later ... possibly)  I spotted signs for The National Forest. and The National Space Centre . Having heard of neither before, I looked them up when I got home.  The National Forest appears to be a new woodland planted across the Midlands, but being about a millennium or so newer than our own, local, New Forest it may be sometime before I feel it's worth a visit. The Space Centre sign conjured up visions of launch pads and shuttle missions but appears to be not quite so impressive once checking out it's details. Like the comparison with the New & National forests maybe give it another millennium and we'll be able to watch own launches there.

26 May 2012

A Sad Passing

On Wednesday evening we had to have one of our cats, Hubble,  put to sleep. A blocked bladder caused a very rapid deterioration from fit as a fiddle on Tuesday morning to no hope left (or only one, but that required a lottery win to pay for it ) by Wednesday evening. Much as I find cats very much a far second to dogs in terms of affection it was still an emotional moment when the decision had to be made. I stayed with him throughout the process , and it struck me that at 50 years of age I have seen dead bodies before (animal and human) but this was the first time I had seen anything actually die. A small injection in his leg and he, very peacefully, simply took one last breath and settled his head down comfortably and quite literally passed away. All over in about 30 seconds No fuss, no pain, it was clearly the kindest thing to do. I really can not understand why euthanasia for humans is so taboo, under the right circumstances it has to be a better option than continued suffering.
His twin brother Bubble is no doubt  going to miss him - he appeared to be trying to rouse Hubble  before we had to take him to the vets so, if cats are able to, he probably understands what has happened.
A thank you as well to the vet, she dealt with what can never be an easy situation in a very efficient but compassionate manner.
R.I.P Hubble :(

21 May 2012

Hanging Gardens of Bursledon

Didier Drogba's penalty hitting the back of the Bayern net signalled more than just the end of the the football season (with apologies to L1 & 2 play-off participants still to come).  It also signalled the start of the dreaded  "can we make the garden look nice" season .

So yesterday was a combination of walking around a local NGS garden that was open to the public, searching for inspiration, and wandering aimlessly around a local nursery trying to guess what plants in a 3 inch pot are going to look like in a month or two's time. (Dead probably, but let's stay positive).

Ended up with half a dozen different plants which I have forced into our 2 hanging baskets outside the front door. Mrs Wurzel was happy with the effort so that's 1 brownie point to my name.  Apart from last years pumpkin episode any attempts at gardening do not usually end up as intended, so I am not expecting a Hanging Gardens of Babylon Bursledon but if either basket ends up looking anything  like the one below I will be reporting back with pride. Come to think of it I'm sure they've picked the same colours so who knows?

15 May 2012

Meanwhile .....

..... back in the World of Wurzel it would appear that absolutely nothing has happened. Well I seem to have neglected this for 5 whole months anyway. Pick one or more of the following for the reason
a) Lack of inspiration
b) Too busy
c) Forgot password
d) Been in a coma
e) Wife has only just paid the ransom to the Somali pirates  .

Now I've rekindled the urge let's see how long I can keep it up for this time. First step, change the background picture from beer to coffee, seems more appropriate these days. 

Next step, write something interesting.  That may have to wait till tomorrow. And the interesting part may be stretching things just a bit too far.