Wednesday 24 March 2010

devonshire place names, part 3

Well, this will be my final ‘devonshire place names’ post as I am now finally back home.

I may or may not write about my first contracting experiences in another post, depending on whether or not I can write anything vaguely interesting to read – after all, work is primarily a very boring pastime.

So anyway, enough waffle, for my final post I offer you the following:

Newbuildings, although ironically the state of the sign did echo the state of the village – mostly old and tatty!


Beer. I must confess, I was originally taking a photograph of a place I’d misread as ‘Faraway’, but did score the village of Beer on the bonus diagonal angle (clue, it’s on the diagonal sign pointing away from us, and yes, I should have exercised a deal more awareness with my photography of this one – sorry!)


Black Dog. Sadly I didn’t manage to find a roadsign for the village of ‘Black Cat’ to accompany this one, but I genuinely did drive through a place called Black Cat on the same day as my visit to Black Dog, no word of a lie guv’!


And finally, the fabulously named Nomansland.


My two weeks of solitary car confinement did open my eyes to just how wonderful and varied the UK really is – not only does our country possess a startling variety of differing landscapes and geography, but our heritage is also full of delightfully colourful linguistics. It is really interesting to go and read a little about the way some of these seemingly bizarre place names actually evolved – the vast majority of them make huge sense once you start getting into it all.

Anyway, enough prattle. I must say that I never anticipated finding quite such a large number of truly odd village names, the highlights, for me, being ‘Leg O’ Mutton’, ‘Chipshop’, and ‘Nomansland’. Utterly fantastic – I'd love to have an address in one of these villages.

Wednesday 17 March 2010

devonshire place names, part 2

I have nothing to add to this:


Monday 15 March 2010

devonshire place names

Disclaimer: I do not mean to cause any offense or bad feeling to anyone unfortunate to live in a place with a ridiculous name, but I’m afraid I have a very juvenile sense of humour sometimes, and bizarre place names do make me giggle – sorry!

Travelling around Devon with nothing to do other than drive and listen to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (or my very eclectic selection of music), means that my mind has taken to amusing itself most of the time, with things that are usually either stunningly trivial (such as ‘what shall I buy on my next trip to Tesco’s?’), or wonderfully juvenile (such as ‘WTF?! That cannot be a real place name – I have to go there!’). Hence the start of my new ‘ridiculous places’ collection. My aim is simple – go to as many bizarrely named places as possible (only within Devon at this stage), and take a photograph to illustrate the awesomeness. So here are today’s highlights:

Crapstone. I would love to know how you could possibly tell someone you live in a village called CRAPSTONE, without giggling or feeling massively embarrassed and self-conscious…


Chipshop. At first I really didn’t think this was a village name. I really did assume that the first sign I saw was pointing me to a purveyor of tasty grease, but as I drove around it did eventually dawn on me that this place was actually a real village called CHIPSHOP. Wow. Just wow. I really don’t know if it’ll get much odder than this one – perhaps it has some odd pronunciation so that you can make it sound less like you live above ‘The Codfather’ in Luton…


Sunday 14 March 2010

start point and the dartmoor ponies

This one may take a little explanation for those of you who don’t know me, but back in April/May last year I left my job to become a full time bum in Wales with my hubby. My former occupation was that of an engineer within the radio communications industry (too long winded and boring to explain further, although I do have some rather interesting stories should anyone be interested…)

So what is my point? Well, having not done any work at all since I quit my full time nightmare, upon arriving back home from Rjukan a few weeks ago I was presented with the opportunity to spend a couple of weeks in Devon as a contracted drive tester, and quite frankly the opportunity to increase my bank balance was impossible to refuse. Now, what this basically means is I am spending 2 weeks driving around the county – our objective is simply to collect radio data on something like 1/3 of all the roads in Devon. Simple huh? Well, yes, but very VERY hard work actually (try spending 7 hours a day driving single track roads – trust me, it is incredibly tedious and knackering!)

So, now I’ve explained myself, here are some pictures! Yesterday I hit Dartmoor (ponies!!!):


Today I went to the seaside, and the [apparently infamous from sailing training manuals – ta Phil] bizarrely named ‘Start Point’ – complete with lighthouse:


This last one is a view back to Start Point from the raised beach between Torcross and Slapton (possibly called Start Bay?). Phil and I (bless him for coming down for the weekend) had an ice cream on the beach here and did some stone skimming – a wonderful break from the monotony of the driving.


I will hopefully post up some more pictures and ramblings over the next couple of weeks, so fingers crossed for more nice weather and no car troubles…

Thursday 4 March 2010

gear we like, part 3: flasks and hot drinks

  • Flasks

Not a part of everyone’s gear loadout I know, even in winter there are a number of people I know who still prefer to take a bottle of water or squash out, but for me the flask is the king of cold weather hydration!

(Note: lots of people carry both a bottle of water and a small flask of hot drink, I only tend to do this if I am doing a big big day where I will be needing lots of fluid – i.e. days where I pack the camelbak as my primary source of hydration, and the flask becomes a luxury morale booster.)


Anyone that knows me, knows that I drink alot of tea. I can’t stand coffee, I do partake of the occasional good hot chocolate, but primarily I am a tea drinker. Funnily enough I never used to drink all that much of the stuff, but working in an office meant I learned the time-wasting value of a trip to the kettle (especially if you were making drinks for 5+ other people, but I digress…), oh and of course Phil (my dearly beloved) is apparently addicted to the stuff. I should really run a tally of how many cups he averages a day – could prove quite interesting. Anyway, I seem to have digressed again, so back on topic: flasks and hot drinks on the hill.

Nothing is quite as morale boosting as a nice hot cup of something after you’ve spent the previous hour or so freezing your butt off on some god-forsaken belay half way up some frozen crag. Using a flask to carry a hot drink is also the best way I’ve found of ensuring the fluid you’re carrying is still drinkable when you need it (i.e. it hasn’t frozen as can be the problem with simply carrying a bottle or a camelbak when it is really, really cold).

I guess I don’t really need to say much more do I? Hot drink on the hill – big thumbs up. Still fluid fluids? Humungous thumbs up. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the flask!

(Of course flasks are also great in summer, but winter is for me when they really come into their own.)

  • Hot drinks for the hill (aka ‘what to put in the flask’)

Right, so I’ve dug my flask out of the cupboard, ready to fill it with warm goodness, but what exactly should I fill it with? Now I know that everyone is going to have a different opinion on this and many people will go with something coffee related, but as I’ve already mentioned I can’t stand the stuff.

Some people I know go with a hot squash type thing (usually either orange or blackcurrant), and this is far from a bad idea. Personally though, I steer away from these types of thing as I just find them too sickly sweet which then puts me off drinking when I really should.

Hot chocolate is not the most successful of drinks to choose for a flask, simply because you end up with alot of grit in the bottom (I’m obviously talking about simple drinking chocolate powders, I have never experimented with proper hot chocolates in a flask because firstly, it seems like a waste of good hot chocolate, and secondly, because it is again a very sweet drink option and probably not that great a source of hydration anyway).

Tea. You’ve probably already guessed this is where I was heading, but you might be surprised yet!

I’ve already mentioned that I drink alot of tea, and this is bog standard builders tea for the vast majority of the time (for any non-British readers, ‘English Breakfast Tea’ is the stuff – none of this ‘Early Grey’ nonsense). At home our tea of choice is Twining’s Everyday Tea – loose leaf (the only place you seem to be able to buy the loose stuff is Waitrose currently, but the tea bags are everywhere and equally good – we just prefer loose leaf for its cost and waste advantages…anyway…), always with milk but no sugar, thank you.

Now, standard tea with milk is a great drink at home, but is utterly crap from a flask – the milk means it goes all grey and nasty, oh and it stews. If you don’t mind drinking it black, then this is better, but it does still stew, and isn’t entirely pleasant when cold or only lukewarm.

I’m not into herbal teas, but I do like Green teas and White teas (and by White tea I don’t mean tea with milk – White tea is essentially unfermented Black tea). Last year I was using alot of Green teas in my flask as it doesn’t stew anywhere near as much as Black tea and is still actually quite pleasant to drink even when mostly cold. Winner! This year I discovered White tea, which has all the advantages that Green tea does in a flask, but for me tastes even better on the hill (it’s slightly more like standard Black tea in taste I feel, although not by much).

(One additional note about Green tea and White tea, is neither contain caffeine, which can also be an advantage on the hill as caffeine is of course a diuretic.)

All drinks are a matter of personal taste, but if you’re like me and are looking for a good flask drink that is still drinkable when cold and isn’t coffee or squash, I recommend you try some Green or White teas, but for goodness sake only leave the bag in for a few seconds, because if you brew them strong they taste absolutely vile! Green and White teas need to be weak to taste good. Trust me.

So my pick of the drinks, currently, White tea:


Tuesday 2 March 2010

photo blog: an alpine Cadair Idris

I can’t really be bothered to articulate any interesting words for today, so I’m just going to post a selection of pictures I took when I went for an aerobic beasting style walk up Cadair Idris, again. I like to think of this mountain as my own personal wild gym – today I did about 3hrs of hard cardio whilst carrying lots of unnecessary kit (axe and crampons really weren’t necessary, despite what snow there was being bullet hard). Anyway, enjoy!