Woodsmoke

The first half of the week consisted of rather intense coding, giving way to the second half, at rather more of a relaxed pace. In fact, only by Thursday, Dan and I were slurping noodles and then sipping cocktails in the centre of Bath.

But the highlight of the week was the second camping trip of the year, this time taking place at Mendip Camp near Shipham in Somerset. In the absence of any free-time project progress of any relevance, I'll give a summary of the event for this week's blog entry.

Heathens' Camp II

Atendees: Dan, Toxie, André B and me. Day visitors: Adam FC, Bev FC, Ⓗ FC, Ⓡ FC.

First of all, the journey there demonstrated that train travel in the west country is still a gamble. Thanks to the triple whammy of festival-goers on their way to Love Saves The Day, Bristol Rovers fans on their way to see the clash with Crawley Town FC, and Great Western Railways committing an insufficient number of cars to a very in-demand main line route, the train was full and standing. With around half its passengers wearing masks, some of the passengers were getting noticably panicked. It wasn't a great experience.

Mere hours later I was 40km away from home at Mendip camp. Adam FC and his family had arrived a few minutes earlier. After putting up my tent and all the rest of it, we set off into the woods of Rowberrow Warren, a lovely hillside wood adjacent to lots of other beautiful woods and reserves.

Thanks to Toxie, the journey back home was a direct train in a seat at one end, as stress-free as it was circuitous. On his way back to Cardiff (Caerdydd), he dropped me off at Newport railway station (Gorsaf reilffordd Casnewydd). Since I'd last been there, the concourse has turned into a UFO-like structure of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene. I liked it but apparently it was nominated for a Carbuncle Award in 2011. Down at the platform, I learned some more Welsh. A bilingual safety sign about the four objects not to carry near the live overhead 25kV line taught me the phrases for: fishing rod (gwialen bysgota); helium balloons (balŵns heliwm); selfie stick (ffon hunlun); and flag (baner) (which I could have guessed).

But what about the camp itself? Well, here's my summary in alphabetical order:

Astronomy. After nightfall the delights of the night sky in an area with low light pollution opened themselves up to us. Dan pointed out Saturn and Jupiter, the Milky Way, passing satellites, shooting stars, Cassiopeia, Cephus, and even rotating space junk.

On the barbecue were burgers, later to be topped with cheese, burger sauce and put inside a toasted muffin. It was excellent that Dan had thought to get all of this.

Deer and other wildlife could be seen running about on the hillside opposite. All we had to do is sit in our camping chairs and watch.

Dutch oven. Two men at the campsite were cooking roast chicken in a thick-walled cauldron-like pot over the fire. It smelled very good. They reported later that it was a huge success.

Fire. Mendip Camp allows campfires. It was nice to sit around a hot glowing fire and warm my feet beside it after paddling in the stream while putting the world to rights. We all smelled strongly of woodsmoke afterwards, a sign of a proper camp.

Grass, if put between your thumbs and blown, can be used to make a shrill buzz. We competed with a couple down the hill (who we never did get round to chatting to) to see who could make the loudest sound. They won.

PMR446 allows us to chat over walkie-talkies. Adam's children had one each. Ⓗ, the younger one, would ask Ⓡ to put the walkie-talkie right next to her ear, before letting out an ear-curdling scream through the radio. I tried to warn him about overmodulation, but he wasn't concerned. His radio protocol improved later, though, as he devised numerical codes for sightings of mushrooms, blackberries, and various kinds of excrement.

Sunburn. My first case this year, and it's mild. This tells you a lot about the weather we've had this summer.

Wasps. A friendly European wasp came to join the camp. It had a few gulps of the cider we had with us (Legbender) and seemed relaxed and slow just after. Can wasps get drunk?

WR. We brought a Baofeng radio and left it tuned into the local repeater, GB3WR. Compared to the other repeaters in the area, this one has a wider range of conversation and more entertaining users. I managed to have a chat to a friendly voice all the way over in Caerphilly (Caerffili). I made an awkward comment about how, being in Cheddar, we were chatting between two 'cheese towns'.

And now, the tent is out on the line, I've had a monster nap, and the working week will start again in just ten hours. Goodnight.

See also

Also this week

Hot Mess with Babek Ganjei on NTS Radio; Owncast, self-hosted live streaming; Plock, Suzuki Kango's hand-carved wooden clock that writes the time on a magnetic drawing board every minute.