Tag Archives: Life

Mine, that is

Busy Days

It’s busy days for me, as usual. Two weeks ago I was presenting and running a workshop at the Society of Cartographers Annual Summer School conference in Aberdeen. Flying back from that meant that I missed the awards ceremony for the British Cartographic Society’s annual awards – at which I was commended for the work on OpenCycleMap.org – there’s now a certificate hanging above the TV in our lounge, but I’ll see how long that one lasts. After all that, I spent a week on holiday in Wales – driving through some of the worst weather conditions I’ve experienced on the Friday after work. Most of the week was pretty soggy too, although there are plenty of paths in the area that need mapping. Interestingly (well, maybe only to me) we were in the area of the hill shading teaser that I made a few months ago – staying just off the top, and spending most days walking around there. As Richard said at the time, it’s a pretty nice area.

Whilst I’ve been back, I’ve been to the bar (once or twice), another mapping party, a Bourbon Blue band night, some climbing at the Westway, and was even interviewed by one of our German OSMers who came over to London. Next up, I’m off to FOSS4G in Cape Town tomorrow night for a week – now if only someone would come up with a more pleasant (and environmentally friendly) way to travel there… If you’re in Cape Town and fancy meeting up – give me a shout!

Dusk ’til Dawn 2007

It’s probably about time I write some non-openstreetmap stuff!

Last weekend was the Dusk ’til Dawn overnight mountain bike race around Thetford Forest. 844 competitors in a couple of hundred teams (with some idiots doing a 12 hour solo race, and more sensible people like us doing relays in teams of four), and a course just under 12 miles long winding around the forest – some single track (fun, but tricky for overtaking), some fire road (i.e. forestry track), and the occaisional “bomb hole” thrown in for good measure. We came 32nd in our class (full timings) with me doing the first, seventh and final laps of the night.

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Distinctly Unpleasant

So the weather has been pretty grotty recently. It’s not been long since we were all out getting sunburnt and looking forward to a long, hot summer – but it’s July and it feels like autumn is drawing in. The graph that the BBC recently put up showing the monthly rainfall as a percentage of normal certainly backs up the feeling that summer came early. (The eagle-eyed scientists amongst you will, of course, realise that extra rain in the summer, when it is normally dry, leads to a much higher bar on that chart than the equivalent extra rain during an already-rainy winter month, but nevermind).

What is has done is made cycling to and from work distinctly unpleasant, but thankfully this week it’s been mainly on the way home. On Monday after climbing it was dark and heavy rain, and I was completely soaked (and had a crick in my neck from trying to shy away) by the time I got home. Today was similar – lighter rain, but a strong headwind meant I had to pedal downhill coming over Wandsworth Bridge.

Tuesday was ten times worse. After waiting until a heavy downpour had passed at around 5pm, I went to the DramSoc first-Tuesday barnight. Cycling home at about 10pm, I decided to ride down the Kings Road, to avoid the underpass at Chelsea Harbour. Just after the turning off down Wandsworth Bridge Road there was an unexpected giant puddle across the road – the streets had been dry up to there. Cycling into it at speed, I simply lifted my feet up and coasted through about 3 inches of water down the middle of the road.

Moments later approaching Parson’s Green there was another giant puddle, but as I went in I quickly realised it was much, much deeper, and seconds later it was above my axles and my feet were hardly clearing the surface on the upswing. As an oncoming taxi passed in the middle, I tried duck the wall of water (a bit like this guy), but failed miserably. By the time I made it to dry tarmac, I felt like I’d been swimming in it. Which isn’t far off, come to think of it.

Pictures from the downpour made it to the BBC news, which went some way to explaining the size of the puddles!

Pennine Way Redux

Almost a year ago, Ant and I walked the Pennine Way. More recently, Josh Roberts pointed me towards an article he has written for USA Today about it. You can read the full article online.

Pity I can’t even get my own age right – gah! Thanks go to Josh for quoting me in his article. I’m sure Ant is still kept awake by recurring thoughts of my terrible (and slightly repetitive) singing.

Eastern Grit

We went climbing over Easter, as I mentioned before, and spent four days climbing on gritstone in the Peak District. The climbing was really good – we had four days of good weather. I tried my hand at leading (well, I severely scraped my hand whilst leading) for one of the days, but I was feeling a bit under the weather for most of the time. We stayed at Ed’s gaff, and were very kindly catered for (fry-ups every morning are not to be sneezed at). Being a bank-holiday weekend made getting out of the national park…interesting, and at 7 quid for a burger the Wimpy at the service station was a rip off. But these are all ancillaries to a great weekend, and pretty much doubling my outdoor climbing experience after two previous trips to Wales.

I took loads of photos, and put them up on flickr a couple of weeks ago – attrating a few comments and favouritings, which is nice to see. Below are some of my favourites out of my Eastern Grit set on flickr. Enjoy!


Impending DoomGreen ChimneyWhat's next?IMG_6203.JPGTaking it seriouslyIMG_6155.JPG


16 Days

I’m back at work now, which is unfortunate but somewhat expected. I took some time off work to extend my Easter break out to a full fortnight, and had some fun doing things I wanted to do.

I got a new phone, for one thing. My old one wouldn’t do left and right button presses, and stopped sending text messages too. When I couldn’t figure out why, and went to the Orange shop on a nice and quiet Monday morning, they just gave me a new phone instead, and lowered my bills as part of the bargain. Nice approach to problem solving.

I bought a new camera bag – a camera rucksack really. It’s really nice, and really tough too. I was getting fed up carrying all the bits and bobs split between my old camera bag and my daysack – I’ve bought a lot more stuff since I was given the bag a few years ago! I’ve already worn it whilst climbing and roughed around with it – I’ll probably review it properly at some point.

I went climbing in the Peaks with a few people – but the photos from that are nice enough to deserve their own posting (to follow).

I did lots of other things too – cycling on the Thames, going to the Tate Modern, going picnicing and drinking and openstreetmapping and all kinds of fun stuff. I need to find a seasonal job, like one of these work hard for 6 months and we’ll give you six months off type things – I’ve got too many things I want to do, and two days each weekend just isn’t enough!

Summer Sun

Daylight Savings is a phenomenal waste of time, when you consider how much faffing with clocks goes on. I especially liked the two guys on Sunday morning interrogating a bemused donut-vendor in Fulham Broadway as to what time it was – with the nearby London Underground automated signs not helping much (that’s to say still being on GMT).

But the one thing that makes it seem worthwhile is leaving work late, and yet unexpectedly still having the chance to walk home down the riverside watching the sun set in full technicolour. Friday, which was about ten degrees colder and where the sun was almost gone before I left work, seems a world away. Roll on summer!

Biking and mapping

I seem to blink, and another month goes by.

Last weekend I went mountain biking in Wales with Gary, which was great fun. We stayed at the Cae Gwyn Farm B&B, which was very nice, and a short downhill ride to the mountain biking centre at Coed y Brenin. First time I’ve done proper mountain biking on rocky trails – it would have been impossible without suspension, and even with, it was pretty hard going. Still, I think I’ll be doing it again some time soon. Anyone else fancy it?

I’ve also been doing more openstreetmap stuff – there was an interesting mapping party at a eco-warrior type place down in Mitcham (the Pathways of Desire party I mentioned previously), looking to open up paths and cycle tracks through some wasteground nearby. A worthwhile pursuit, and I’m looking forward to the day when OSM starts producing customised maps for cyclists and suchlike. If you haven’t looked recently, the main map has had an update – check out how Putney is doing! It’s going from strength to strength. Needless to say, I was collecting tracks when biking with Gary, and I’m trying to find time to trace them out into the system…

OSM on my GPS

OSM on my GPS!

The picture says it all, or rather says most of it at least. I’ve bought a microSD memory card for my GPS, and now it can take extra maps on it. And of course, what map would I want on it, other than OpenStreetMap? Dave and I have spent ages cycling round, doing our local area, and now I get to put the results on my GPS and make up for the terrible basemap that comes with it.

For the technical amongst you, I used JOSM to download and save a .osm of the local area, and then converted that into a Garmin .img file using mkgmap. I can then transfer it to the microSD card using a card reader (thereby avoiding the non-opensource cGPSMapper and sendmap, which doesn’t work on linux for my GPS anyway). It’s interesting that the area bounded by Richmond (W), Hammersmith (N), Clapham (E) and Wimbledon (S) takes up 35K, and my 1Gb card cost £25. There plenty of room for more where that came from.

Ant, can I interest you in the .img file?

Let’s Map!

I’ve got a new toy, and a new hobby. The toy is a Garmin Venture Cx GPS, and the hobby is using it to make maps, as part of the Open Street Map project – free maps under a Creative Commons license. My flatmate Dave has also bought a GPS, and together we’ve been wandering and cycling around Putney, gathering tracklogs to make the map.

Open Streetmap map of London

On the map above, we lay claim for the bit around Putney only so far- click on the picture to see which bit is ours. We’ve been doing it comprehensively, rather than just riding around randomly, which makes the maps look really good – I’ll post a closeup of Putney sometime. One of the trickiest bits is when someone watches me cycle down an obvious dead-end, all the way to the end, and cycle back up, while Dave takes a photo of the streetsign – the way they look at you makes you feel what we’re doing is illegal! I haven’t (yet) explained to any bystanders what we’re up to, but I don’t think it would help much anyway. It’s just a pity that everyone, everywhere is so hostile to passers by…

As you can see from the map, there’s a way to go yet, so this will probably keep me occupied for a few millennia! Let me know if you want to help out – next up is Richmond Park, Wimbledon Common, and probably around Barnes too.