Month: June 2015

Devon – wine and walking.

After last years fantastic trip to Cornwall, we decided this year to head down to Devon.

For Christmas we’d received a vineyard tour and wine tasting event, so we used that as a framework for the trip and off we went.


We drove down early and spent the afternoon exploring.

We stayed at a place called Shaldon. I’m sure some tweed wearing  people would describe it as sleepy and quaint.

The London Inn, Shaldon - against fierce competition, the most shit pub in Shaldon.
The London Inn, Shaldon – a shit pub.

I thought it was pretentious and expensive and far preferred Teignmouth across the bridge..

Throughout the trip, the weather was either too windy or too wet, but our high spirits made for a fab trip.


The following day, up bright and early and off to the Old Walls Vineyard. We decided to walk the 2 miles from our campsite (it was alcohol based after all, and neither of us wanted to drive).

The owner (a charismatic chap, very comfortable in the countryside and at least in his seventy’s)  told the history of the area and how he’d arrived at the decision to setup a vineyard.

As we wandered around, he explained how a vineyard is constructed and that its 3 years before the “yard” starts to produce anything.

We also saw some “thin” tractors, designed for work on Vineyards.


After a while, we were taken inside and shown how wine is made (they make white, red and sparkling (which to anyone else, would be champagne)).

The grapes are pressed using a sort of air bag. He said you normally just press the automatic setting, and the machine does the rest.

We had a chance to taste all the different wines. I was surprised, as none of the wines seemed to be blended, they just came out as they were, and then bottled.

The and tasting came to and end and  we were taken to the terrace restaurant for out inclusive lunch and a complimentary bottle of wine for each couple.

I thought for the money, a half day activity and everything included, it represented outstanding value for money.

Leaving them with a sincere goodbye, we head on our way.


But the adventure doesn’t end there.

We were in the mood for exploring (and drinking) so we headed back to Teignmouth.

The wind was very strong, and on the front, waves splashed onto the road and pavement.

The Queensberry Arms. Now that's a bit more like it.
The Queensberry Arms. Now that’s a bit more like it.

A few drinks around Teignmouth in some local pubs with friendly people and good atmosphere.

Afterwards, what more appropriate for a seaside town than Fish & Chips, before we head home to our tent.

We wander back through the banality of Shaldon and relax in our tent.


The following day, we head out walking (after the vineyard, that’s the main reason we’d come).

It was a first for me, as I’d never been walking on Dartmoor.

Using the now famous Walking World, we do a long circular walk around Maldon reservoir and up into the moor.


Windy, but spectacular views, a cracking 12 mile walk, with lunch & coffee on the hill.

Made me sad that we were only there for 3 days. I could have spent weeks exploring the hills around there.


We head back to Longmeadow Farm (the superb campsite where were staying) and the Sun has come out.

After a hard day on the hill, a more localised evening is planned.

There is a caravan park nearby with a sort of Hi Di Hi type social club attached.

I shouldn’t complain, the drinks were very reasonably priced and my curry was delicious.

Just before bed, the heavens open (its at moments like that, you’re glad you paid a bit more for your tent and aside from the sound of rain hitting the ceiling, slept in perfect comfort.


In the morning we pack up and and head out of the campsite to do another walk on our way home.

As we leave, I see the farm animals have found improvised shelter in the picknick area.

This must be where the phrase “acting the goat” comes from.


Another walk suggested by Walking World, is around Haytor rocks.


Only 8 miles this time, but the area is famous for having these stone tracks in the ground for its granite tramway.

I’ve been walking on Dartmoore, and drank British made wine. Result.

After work adventure and new bits of Anglesey.


Still mad busy, updating about recent trips to Albania and Devon, but for now, some more recent adventures, close to home.

There’s something pretty exciting about walking out of the office on Friday after work, wearing your outdoor gear and carrying a rucksack on your back, knowing your off in search of adventure, that very evening.

So it was last Friday. I was leading a walk on Saturday around Llangollen, so decided to travel over the evening before and camp.

One of our amazing PA’s Hayley lived nearby, so gave me a lift from Wrexham to Llangollen.

Stepping out of her car, I set of up hill to Wern Isaf camp-site, where I’ve spent so many fab weekends in the area before.

With tent pitched, photo posted on twitter, I head back into the town, in search of adventure.


The fact that LLangollen is so close to Chester is a lucky co-incidence.

Honestly, if it was a thousand miles away, it would still be one of my favourite places.

It has a nice town, friendly people, a steam railway, loads of great bars and restaurants, and hills, mountains and forests all around.

With the exception of an Imax cinema, it has everything 🙂


But for all this talk of Indiana Jones style adventuring, its still Friday night and a pint in an nice country pub is calling.

Afterwards I wonder around, and see some of the quirky sites that have had significance over the years.


Years ago, BBC Wales did a piece called “keep a welcome in the hillsides”.

The idea ?. They wanted to see if welsh country people, really were friendly.

As a simple test, they wanted an actor to pose in the doorway of this charity shop.

Holding a horrendous dressing gown, he would stop passers by, tell them he was thinking of buying it for his sister and ask them to try it on so he could see how it looked.

They’d tried it with 2 different actors, and not 1 person had agreed. My friend Frank (a trained actor who now lives in Thailand) got the part.

He got all 3 passers by to try on the dressing gown and even agree to being filmed and shown on TV.


Further along the street, this bank with a sign.

It seems to suggest that if you want to use a WC, you can use this corner next to the cash machine (and even stranger there is a train station and boat harbour there as well 🙂

Wandering around further, I pop into Bensons, where I have a couple of drinks with Sue from the walking group (I don’t go in Gales anymore, after the awful goings on of Easter 2013).

I pop up the road and order a kebab from the shop there with the full intention of walking home.

I’m disturbed that someone’s put up a sign advising customers that using racist language is against the law (I’m a realist, but is this what Britons becoming ?).

Wishing them a pleasant evening, I tuck into my dinner and head for the campsite.


As I cross the road, some young women try to attract my attention.

On closer inspection, I realise its one of our PA teams who are having an evening out in LLangollen.

They invite me to join them, and we have a few drinks, laugh about IT and I admire Bobbi’s boyfriends truck when he arrives to give everyone a lift home 90 mins later.

Wishing everyone goodbye, I head off up the hill and its raining (but thats what outdoor clothes and good quality tents are made for).

Back at the campsite, I don’t stand on ceremony, with my Thermarest NeoAir mat inflated and my Mountain Equipment Xero sleeping bag all fluffed up I drift off to sleep.


To be awoken at 5am by 2 Australians in a tent nearby.

Not content to pack up their stuff with endless faf, they insist on conducting a loud conversation while they do it.

But I’m British so I lie quietly in my tent seething.

After an hour, its over and they leave (if it takes you an hour to pack your stuff, then you’ve brought too much !).

I head over to the cafe next to the canal and meet Nikki for a hearty breakfast.

I meet up with my followers from the walking group and we set off.


Today’s walk is going to be amazing.

Of course it is, I’ve stolen someone else’s hard work. About 3 years ago, my friend Sue lead a fantastic walk around the area, so that’s what were going to do today.

First off, a speedy ascent up Dina’s Bran. Afterwards, a section of Offa’s Dyke and then pass by the Monastery campsite where we rest on a hill side for lunch and a few cold drinks bought from campsite shop (its a baking day).


Continuing up velvet hill, we have spectacular views, then drop down to horseshoe falls.


From here, we carry on along the canal and then pick up the chain bridge, only recently opened.

A few beers in the Bridge end pub then back to Chester to get cleaned up and Urbano 32 for dinner.

Casualty Queue

During the week I saw this on Facebook.

It reminded me of my mum (a nurse for more than 25 years and sadly no longer with us).

I remember I went to casualty once at 3am with severe toothache (I was telling mum about it, who was always interested in hearing about modern hospital methods and how times had changed).

I explained that the triage nurse asked me a few questions and then told me to sit on a yellow chair.

The place was empty, but there were about 40 yellow chairs with a sign saying Non Serious, next to them. I took my seat and waited quietly to be seen.

I started to look around the room.

There were about 40 blue chairs for Serious patients and another 40 red chairs marked Severe.

When I told mum about the 40 purple chairs labled Life Threatening, she laughed and said patients like that don’t usually sit down in chairs 🙂



Weekend before, its a bank holiday.

The picture above, is a lot of peoples idea of an ideal bank holiday, but not mine (nor most of the people I call friends).


Nikki and I decide to explore a bit of Anglesey we’ve not been too before.

We’ve started using a fantastic website called Walking World. You pay a small subscription, and then you put details of where you want to walk, and it gives you simple to follow instructions and photographs.

Best of all, only walks that have been checked in the last year by the author are included, so there’s no “sign blew away” nonsense.

Walking World came up with a walk of 11 miles around Newborough forest.


After a couple of miles, we walked along a beach. Not sunbathing weather, but the beach was empty and you could see for miles.


From here, we continue to Llanddwyn Island.

Well, its not really an Island, more a peninsula, but it had a small museum, an old church and some breathtaking views.


We visited the light house, which featured in Demi Moore’ film Half Light.

Heading back across the other beach, to finish the triangular walk, we head for home, and finish the Bank Holiday with dinner in Artichoke.

Another Bank Holiday over, another adventure complete.

Dedicated to:

This website is dedicated to the memory of Alan Matheson Turing.

 at It is estimated that every Saturday night, people gamble on the lottery, with 1:14,000,000 chance of winning.

During the 2nd world war, the Nazis were able to communicate with their submarines using a code called enigma.

The code was based on a key with 1:150,000,000,000,000 possible combinations.

Turing was able to crack the Nazi code, which saved more than a million lives, and is estimated to have ended the war 3 years early.

He was persecuted for his sexuality (he was gay) which ultimately caused him to take his own life.

Me standing outside Bletchley Park, the centre for code breaking in the UK, during the 2nd world war.

 collosus The re-built colossus computer that Turing created.

I read recently that the Turing Bombe had been recreated. You can read about it here.

In Manchester City centre there is a monument to Turing in the gay village (I try to visit it whenever I am in Manchester, I took this picture one lunchtime).

There is also a small park on Allan Turing way in In Beswick, where I go whenever I need to think about things or make an important decision.

The Government have given a full apology for his treatment, although requests for a posthumous Knighthood have yet to be answered.