January catch up post

Spiller Millenium Mill viewed from ExCel London

I have not posted for a few weeks so I thought I would do a catch up post. Last weekend I went on what seems to have become an annual trip to the Outdoor, Bike and Boat show at ExCel exhibition center in east London. I am interested in all three so it is really good value for money, three exhibitions at one venue all on one £20 ticket. You can save money by booking online early but although they advertise a £4 saving it turns out that there is a £2 booking fee.

It had snowed recently so I was not sure whether I could get there so I did not bother with the paltry £2 saving. As it happened the roads were clear once I got to the A41, and the roads were quiet I think the snow had scared everyone off. I got to the venue by 11am and parked up which cost me £20 for the day, quite steep if you are the only person attending.

Snow Wendover Woods in Black and White

The halls were quite quiet whilst I was there I think most people waited to see what the weather and road reports had to say before heading out. However by the end of the day it was very busy. The exhibition was not quite as good as last year where I enjoyed the cycle polo, which this year had been replaced with an evening criterium race. The highlights of the day were a talk by Charley Boorman about his new vehicular adventure, and the launch of the Madison cycle team, who were all going to use steel bikes!

This weekend started with a film, Django Unchained on Friday evening. Helen and I really do like to start the weekend with a film. I gave the film a 4/5 but Helen gave it 4/5 for the first two hours but only 1/5 for he last hour, which I have to admit was a bit violent. It was classic Tarantino, and one I enjoyed especially the first 2 hours.

On Saturday Helen was busy with her visiting sister, so I took the opportunity to head to the hills with my camera, it was probably the first opportunity to get pictures of the snow without it either snowing or there being a grey sky. I parked up at Dancersend, and headed up to the Ridgeway above Tring park, then across to the Cafe in the Woods in Wendover Woods. The sun shone the whole time and it was great to be back out in the fresh air after having spent the past two weeks cooped up either in the office or at home.

Snowy view from Dancersend

Saturday evening was a real treat we went to a talk at the local church in Aston Clinton, St Michael and all Angels, for a talk by one of the curates Carole Peters. Carole had in a previous life been an investigative journalist starting off in newspapers then progressing into television. She told us about her adventures in Africa investigating war lords, and in Haiti too. It was very interesting. Everyone bought finger food and there were drinks for sale. I was quite unusual to be drinking beer and wine in a Church, without the vicar handing it to you in a silver chalice with a dry wafer.

On Sunday we went to see another film, Hero Dark Thirty, about the hunt for Osama Bin laden. It was a well made film which confused me at first. I give it 4/5. That was the end of an action packed weekend.

The bells the bells

The Bells The Bells

With the weather not at its best I started the day off tinkering with my computer. I had taken delivery of a current cost electricity monitor which is capable of sending the readings down its serial port using a specialist cable that converts the serial signal to USB.
The monitor in question is the CC128 which believe was given out by EON to its customers a few years back. I eventually got it working with the help of Google and my basic scripting skills.

After some lunch I made Helen a sandwich and headed down to the village church to deliver a marmite sandwich to Helen who was manning (or is that womanning) the bric a brac stall.

The pulling room

I had a quick look around then headed home to catch the Tour de France on ITV4. Helen then phoned to let me know that they were doing trips up the church tower, Le Tour would have to wait I have lived in the village for quite some years but never been up the church tower. I grabbed my camera bag and quickly cycled round.
When I got there I was slightly disappointed to find that it was only as far as the bells that was open, and that my hope of pictures from the top of the tower PhD the village was not going to be,I was however going to make the most of the opportunity to have a go at going one of the church bells.

The steps/ladder up was a bit of a challenge especially with a rucksack on my back. The first and longest ladder leads to the room where the actual pulling off ropes happen to make the bells ring.the next shorter ladder leads to another room which is empty apart from from the bell ropes running from floor to ceiling. The final and even smaller ladder lead to the bells themselves.

I had think there was a total of 8 bells each attached to a large wheel made of wood.the guide explained how they were makeof mahogany rather than the traditional wood. Then we were treated to the deafening sound of a bell being rang at close quarters, very loud! I quickly grabbed some photos and headed back down the ladder to have a go at bell ringing.

A different angle

A patient gentleman explained how it all worked then pulled the Sally while it took care of the easy end of the rope, I guess that that they only let you go solo after a few lessons. It didn’t seem that difficult, but then I was not having to synchronise with seven other bell ringers. After that a had a chat with some of the other ringers and they showed me the computer program they used to show them the right bells to ring when and also stopped the scripts for them to follow. The bells had magnetic sensors to help them get their timing correct.

Back down to earth I hung around for the raffle draw, then headed home. We had fish and chips for tea and went to bed early I was off to London in the morning early to have a go on the dangleway, and take a look round a Royal Navy boat parked up on the Thames.

Penn Street


Went for a walk round Penn Wood and Penn House. House looks like it has a lot of history there is a large carved wooden gate, and there was a statue of a woman with a dog in the large garden. Plenty of evidence of a large gardens was the Rhododendrons that have invaded the woods. Saw two buzzards one seemed to be chasing a kestrel high into the sky. Penn Wood where we ended the walk is supposed to be a large brambling roost. We hardly saw a dicky bird!