Reading on the iPad

I like reading, and reading on the iPad is just fine.  Not great, room for improvement, but mostly good enough.

I have four main book readers: Kindle, iBooks, Readmill and Google Books.  The one I want to use most is Readmill. The one I actually use most is Kindle.  iBooks is fine until you have footnotes to follow, and then it’s unusable; but is my default choice for PDFs.  Google Books is so slow that I’ve not taken the trouble to investigate what else is wrong with it.

Kindle does most things right.  The only key feature it’s missing is an indicator of how far you are from the end of a chapter.  This is probably flagging me as terribly shallow, but I like to know if I’m approaching the end of a chunk of a book or not, so I can decide if I want to spend a few more minutes to get to the end or not.

The sharing from a Kindle is OK, but it doesn’t come close to the direction of Readmill.  I want Readmill to succeed, but it’s just not very good at displaying text: the sizing is all off, making it not fun when you get down to the nitty gritty business of eyes moving over words.  In other respects, it does well.  Rather than bang on about it, here’s my summary:

My opinion of Readmill (as of Oct 2011)

How are we getting on with BT Infinity?

Martyn asked:

How do you get on with BT Infinity in general? I was going to sign up but plan to move house in < 18 months so didn’t want the contract

Good question.  Moving ISP is a scary thing, better the devil you know, and all that.  For us especially so as Be, our previous ISP, were pretty good.  But we can’t get cable where we are (our neighbours can, we can’t: long story), so for speed no-one else can compare with BT for us.

In summary, we’re getting on very well in the most part.  During the day, we reliably see download speeds of 35+ Mbps and upload speeds of 8 Mbps.  That upload speed is fantastic for shipping photos around.  Not measured the evening performance, but not noticed any problems either.

The hardware (modem and wifi) are OK.  The modem died in the first month, but it was replaced by a BT engineer in 48 hours.  You can’t change the DNS on the wifi unit, which is a pain as BT’s DNS servers have crapped out on us once already.  But in general, you turn it on, it works.

I need to start keeping a log, but in the last couple of months I think there have been two outages. In both cases it took 3+ hours to resolve.  One was a DNS problem, and today… I don’t know what the problem was but it affected more than just BT.

All ISPs have outages, but the real difficulty with BT is getting a status report or even an acknowledgement that they know there’s a problem.  They do have a web status page but it’s never seems up to date.   Phoning them up is a waste of time. The @BTCare account tries, but can’t keep up, so you don’t often get any feedback until the issue is resolved.

Which is all a shame, because mostly it works and works well.  If BT were on the ball when there was a problem, I’d actually recommend them.

3 nights, 2 humans, 1 dog and 1 campervan

For many years I’d been intrigued by the idea of heading off in a VW Campervan and last year I decided to investigate it a bit more and see if I could find one I could hire for a weekend that would allow us to have the dog in there with us. CampinaVDub had been mentioned in a copy of out & about magazine so I investigated, found that they were based in Surrey, had availability for the weekend we’d got pencilled in and were happy for us to bring Skitters along with us.

Meet Daisy, our rented campervan

We collected Daisy on a Friday afternoon in October and headed down to Durdle Door in Dorset. I’ve never driven a campervan before, and although this was one of the new Brazilian ones, it was still quite a different experience to driving our normal car. In fact, if I recall correctly I drove us to a Service Station just off the M3 and then Richard took over to drive us into Dorset. We turned up at the Durdle Door Holiday Park without reservations and got ourselves a pitch with no problem at all and proceeded to try and work out where everything was stowed (the van was really well stocked, it was just a matter of being organised and trying to work out where everything had been hidden) and then had a fight with the thermal window covers which were a total pain. We got dinner from the on-site pub but had to eat outside as they weren’t dog friendly indoors – this wasn’t great obviously but fortunately it was dry and not too cold.

Lulworth Cove

The following day we headed out for an explore of the beautiful Durdle Door and walked down the coast to Lulworth Cove. Durdle Door was another of the beaches mentioned in the Top 10 dog-friendly beaches list (we’d already done 4 of them).

When we got back to the van we discovered that we’d gained a huge van next door, it was truly a case of little and large. At least ours was easier to manipulate, although I suspect their one had more home comforts.

Big van, little van

We headed back down to Durdle Door in time for a beautiful sunset.

Sunset at Durdle Door

Skitters settled herself down for the evening, choosing to sit at the back in amongst the bedding and blankets.

Skitters and the 70s style campervan curtains

On the Sunday we packed up and left Durdle Door and headed towards the New Forest via Lepe Country Park (another beach mentioned in the dog friendly beaches list) where we had a lovely long walk along the sea edge, and grabbed some lunch before driving on to the New Forest.

Lepe, Hampshire

We spent the night at the Holmsley Caravan Park and Campsite which was basic but fine, and to be honest, as we had to have the van back at 11am on the Monday morning, we didn’t need much in the way of facilities.

Renting a campervan isn’t a cheap option but it was fun. By October the season is coming to an end, so a lot of the facilities at the caravan sites were closing or closed (for example the New Forest one only had one toilet block open). It was also starting to get quite chilly at night by October so the early mornings were a bit of a shock. We learnt after our first night that we needed to be pretty organised to not get in each others ways and to make sure that our early mornings involved freshly made tea without a large amount of swearing. All in all, a fun adventure, and one that I’d like to do again, but probably in June/July time instead.

Jane on the radio: the photos

Previously on “Jane on the radio”… we’d discovered a recording of Jane’s christening. Now we have the photos to go with it:


The write-up in Ariel, the BBC internal magazine, said:

Baby Jane made a name for herself last month when her Christening service was broadcast on Radio Humberside.  The Christening, at St Nicholas Parish Church, Hull, coincided with the time of Humberside’s regular Sunday morning United Acts of Worship.
It came as a happy surprise when the Vicar told Humberside staff: “We are doing a Christening this morning. Do you mind?” Humberside Station Manager John Cordeaux was delighted. And baby Jane Fothergill was the ideal ‘star’ — well behaved, but making just enough baby noises to make her presence felt.
In the picture, Engineer Garry Heeley is adjusting the microphone at the font with Miss Fothergill about to be given her name by the Rev Christopher Hawthorne.

10 years


10 years ago, we posted this.

Blogger did rock then, but we finally gave up on it about 18 months ago when we finally moved over to wordpress

We don’t post very much any more, twitter and delicious (or pinboard) took our short comments and links to remember, leaving this for mainly travel related goodness.

Banff Mountain Film Festival 2011

Last night we attended the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour UK Edition show in Brighton. We went last year too, and if I get my way will go every year till they stop bringing it back to Brighton. It’s a great opportunity to see a variety of sports films on a large screen with a beer in your hand.

The films they show vary depending on your venue, but we got to see:

  • The Swiss Machine – awesome film, really incredible – watch the trailer here
  • Wildwater – this went on a bit too long for me, but then I’m not a wildwater fanatic… So, decide for youself after you’ve watched the trailer
  • Eastern Rises – when the lady introducing the video used the phrase “trust me” whilst telling us fly fishing was a great subject for a video I feared the worst, but this was a really well put together and, dare I say, interesting film which was utterly engaging – watch the trailer
  • Follow Me – lovely mountain bike footage – short version of this film
  • The Longest Way – a fast and furious look at photos and occasional video as Christop Reharge walks from Beijing to Germany (well part of the way at least)
  • Azadi Freedom – part skiing film, part travel documentary about Kashmir, totally absorbing – watch trailer (also inline below)
  • Parking Garage – a suitably silly way to end the evening

I think that Azadi Freedom ended up being my favourite of the evening, so I’ve embedded the trailer here for you to take a look at

This was only the 3rd date on their tour, so there are still plenty of opportunities for you to go and see some of these films, and I’d recommend it.

Walks in 2010


During 2010 I walked 1282 miles in almost 675 hours (that’s 28 days) – there are traces for some of them here

Almost all of these (with the exception of the first 2 weeks in January when we were in Sydney and Tokyo) were as a result of taking Skitters for a walk. Richard will have done a similar amount – I still do the morning walks, he does the lunchtime/evening walks and we both do the longer, more explorey, weekend walks.

I can’t believe that I spent almost a month of 2010 outside walking

A week in Pembrokeshire

Last year, whilst we were preparing to go to the Gower peninsular we stocked up on OS maps, including one for Pembrokeshire. We spent all our time in the Gower, and didn’t use the map at all. So, we thought we’d rectify that and so decided to head there for a visit. We weren’t disappointed.

We found ourself a lovely house to stay at in Lower Fishguard and spent our week exploring the area, making the most of the mostly dog-friendly beaches, and enjoying the beautiful view from the balcony.

Panorama of beautiful beach at Traeth Llyfn, Pembrokeshire

As I mentioned in a blog post a while ago, Traeth Llyfn, could be my favourite beach of all time. Other beaches we visited were Newgale sands, Porthmelgan, Abereiddy, Musselwick – all of which were charming and beautiful in their own way. The Pembrokeshire coastal path is well maintained, and well marked, and has some stunning views along the way.

Pebble Art at Porthmelgan

The house was very dog friendly, and the garden was pretty secure too. There was at least one dog friendly pub in Fishguard itself and a few more in Pembrokeshire itself. The kitchen was well stocked (although if there had been 6 or 7 of us, there may not have been enough pots and pans). The bed was incredibly comfortable, and I spent many a happy afternoon in the living room, reading my book and looking out across the harbour.

Pembrokeshire is definitely an area that deserves further exploration, possibly more towards the Southern area.

Happy Christmas

For our Christmas cards this year we didn’t force the dog to be a model again, but took advantage of opportunities when they arose through the year. So, one of the designs featured Skitters wearing her Christmas collar, taken in the snow of last December
Skitters in Christmas collar
whilst the other was a photograph of a Santa painted on the Bondhi beach graffiti wall which we spotted whilst we were in Sydney last January
Graf Santa at Bondhi Bay

We’ve now done our travelling, and delivered all of the presents that need more than a short walk, so can start this relaxing thing that I’ve heard so much about.

Have a wonderful festive season

Resources for the dog walker

Planning the day

Since introducing Skitters into our life we’ve walked many miles, both near and far. The daily walks don’t vary much – I normally take her out along the sea front to Hove Lawns for her morning walk, Richard usually takes her out to the St Nicholas Rest Garden at lunchtime and early evenings. It is the weekend walks and holiday walks which have the promise of adventure.

One man and his dog: at Wastwater

We have an ever increasing collection of OS Maps now. When we’re planning a trip away somewhere, first on the shopping list is a new one. We’ve replaced our local one with a weatherproof version as we’d worn a hole through the first one due to too many rainy outings. We’ve become quite adept at spotting circular walks although still sometimes fail to work out the gradients – like on our first day in the Lake District when this nice gentle stroll we’d spotted took us up and over a fell.

Driving With Dogs is a website that Richard discovered one day. It lists dog walks from motorway junctions or services, allowing you to take a break, and take the dog for a wander in something more inspiring than a housing estate, industrial estate or service station. We’ve used quite a few of these walks, some are more “our kind of walks” than others, but they’ve all saved us the time and effort of trying to work something out ourselves.

Pocket Pub Walks East Sussex (Pocket Pub Walks) and Pocket Pub Walks West Sussex (Pocket Pub Walks) both contain walks of between 2.5 and 5.5 miles around East Sussex or West Sussex (as appropriate). All are circular and start/end at a pub. The guide also mentions whether the pub is dog or child friendly – the addition of this information is what prompted me to buy them in the first place. The books are small enough to fit into big pockets, and contain clear directions which mean you don’t necessarily need the OS Map as well. Every county needs these kind of books, especially the ones I holiday in. Finding out if a pub is dog friendly is often quite tricky, although DOGGIE PUBS and dog friendly do give a few clues but working out a walk that ties in with a good dog-friendly pub at the end is hard to work out when you’re unfamiliar with a place.

If any other dog walkers stumble across this post and have some other useful resources to share, please leave us a comment. Thanks!