Friday, August 8, 2014

High Street

Decided to go shopping so yesterday we headed for the High Street near Ullswater in Cumbria.

Getting there was a bit harder than expected, as there was no railway station, and it involved a 700m climb from the car park. Views were nice though.

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Finally got there only to discover that the Vikings had torn down all the shops in the centuries after the Romans had left.
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The other shoppers seemed almost as lost (see their little silhouettes on that rocky outcrop!). Germanic and Australian accents asked us if we were "doing the coast to coast". Just a day trip we answered.
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It was surprisingly pleasant especially considering that this High Street is so far from those more desirable parts of the UK.
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Here, James is looking for the Apple Store. Sure it was supposed to be here somewhere...
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The street side planters were flowering nicely. This is heather, probably imported from the soon to be foreign country of Scotland.
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We never did find Harvey Nicks, but a couple of hours later we were in Patterdale (named after St Patrick Patterdale) where there are pubs that serve food and beer all day long. hicc.
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Best High Street ever.

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Friday, August 1, 2014

The Thames Valley

Londinium has, to me, always seemed alien to the rest of the UK, but the Thames Valley has become another country too. It is so polished that it seems more like a theme park than a real place.

Palaces and pleasure boating...

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Perfect bijou gardening...
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Hand-knitted designer bricking and flinting...
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For those who don't know their UK geography, the Thames is the big river that runs right through Londinium. Thus, anywhere along its banks are the most sought after places to live, as you can easily commute in to the city.

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Londinium

We used to tell our Japanese friends that certain things were Better in Britain. One such myth we accidentally perpetuated was the value of stricter planning regulations. Japanese cities are, on the whole, an awful jumble of buildings. Not so in the UK, we told our friends. We clearly misunderstood completely. During our decade long sojourn overseas, Londinium has been reinventing itself as a poor replica of some chaotic south east asian mega-city.

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On the other hand, one myth the British choose to believe is that working conditions in places like Tokyo are undesirable. And yet here you can see all the little Londoners toiling away in their open plan glass skyscrapers. hmmm...
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This one is perhaps not quite as bad on the eye, but still, it could be anywhere... I don't see the point of all the planning people, if the result is just a boring version of one of the less exciting bits of Yokohama.
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Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Holy Church of St Bicycles

A new religion has taken hold of the town of Skipton. It is the yellow faith of St Bicycles.

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But - could it be that one or two remain skeptical - both to the power of St Kickball and St Bicycles?!
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Despite being quite religious ourselves - we sit upon 2 unicycles, 4 single bicycles and 3 tandems - we have somehow managed to be away for the big event and tomorrow we will be heading down to the grim south, to give seminars in Reading and London!

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

ocean

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Went to the seaside for the wedding anniversary. It would have been very nice had not the sellers of the house we are trying to buy pulled out of the sale the day before. The sale is, apparently, now back on again, although actually no progress at all has been made for the last month or so. Buying houses is rubbish, at least it is the way it is done in England. At the PMIP meeting I asked a few of my friends how it is done in foreign. Somehow they all seemed better than the English system where no commitment is made for months after the price is agreed. In France you have to sign a contract to agree to the sale (subject to caveats like not getting a mortgage) when the price is agreed; in Japan there are no teams of solicitors on each side - the estate agent does the whole thing; in Sydney you usually buy instantly at auction. Not sure the last one is very sensible (buy in haste repent at leisure comes to mind), but at least it is over quickly!

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Feeding the birds #2

The question of exactly what is being fed by our garden bird feeders remains as much a live topic as ever.
The squirrel school is going very well. They have trained James to make gradually more difficult puzzles. Each new one can be completed after about a day of hard thought. Then James has to think up a new, more difficult challenge for them. This step by step progression is ideal for honing the problem solving abilities of both James and the squirrels.

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And here's WOL, sat waiting by the possibly squirrel proof suet ball feeder. Do WOLs eat blue tits? Alternatively he or she might have been hoping to catch the mousey thing that we have seen burrowing under the house.
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Either way, I was astonished to see a wild owl only about 2 metres away (through the window).

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Forest

The forests in the UK are not quite as densely packed with trees as those in Japan. This is the Forest of Bowland.

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As you can see, it is almost as densely forested as Iceland. Because it is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty it also does not have windmills growing in it, despite being a very very windy place. The rocks are interesting. They look like they were cut into blocks by people, but I am virtually certain that they were not. However, I am not sure one should feel very certain about anything in a treeless forest.

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Fermentation


It's most important thing in Belgium. 

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Industry

Well, now I have veered towards the topics of politix and planning, I may as well carry on...

One of the wonderful things about being back in the UK is the incredible opportunity to get ones knickers in a twist about other people building things. In Japan you .just. .let. .go. (and say "shouganai", nothing can be done), because... Nothing Can Be Done - the yakuza are in charge of all the building operations. However, astonishingly, British people are permitted to feel responsibility for their own environment, and thus they must spend quite a lot of their energy getting excited about it.

The thing I have noticed most on return to the UK, is that people have started to plant windmills instead of trees.

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This is particularly popular in Scotland, which seems determined to desecrate its beautiful landscape with them. It is a shame they don't produce more power, but I suppose they are less polluting in terms of actual poison than coal fired stations, and perhaps one can chop them down at a later date without too much difficulty. Most people I have spoken to can't understand why they get planted in the nice parts of the country, out of the view of people in cities. Personally I think they should be mass planted along the banks of all the motorways, since they are already massive blights on the landscape. However, I have to admit I cheered quite loudly when I spotted the large array in the sea off the Dee estuary (near Liverpool). I'm not sure we can complain too loudly - the Industrial Revolution started right here - it's all our fault - so surely our duty to endure the windmills as reminders of the sins of our ancestors.

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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Seaside

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Apparently this, above, is Jock's nose. It is located near St Abbs on the SE coast of Scotland. I am not sure where the rest of Jock is. Whether he is in England or Scotland could become a matter of great importance later in the year, when Scotland votes on whether to leave the UK.
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The father and sister in law admiring the view. The sister in law is just back from near death experiences in Antarctica so she was happy to see, through her binoculars, the penguins nesting on the red cliffs over yonder.
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(Actually they were guillemots).
Finally another property question. Is it just our NIMBYism, or does one of these houses look a bit out of place?
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Hint: it can be yours for just 1.5Million UKP.

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