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cycling Oxford to Langford Locks

Books + Ideas, Oxford, Travel — August 2020

Parcelforce tried to deliver something to me at work and left a card. Rather than paying for redelivery I decided to get some exercise cycling up to their depot in Langford Locks, on the NW outskirts of Kidlington. Rather than braving the Banbury/Oxford Rd and the A4260, which looked a bit hairy on Google Streetview, I cycled up the canal instead. (more…)

ideas for rapid active travel shift for Oxford

Oxford, Travel, — May 2020

In the light of government directives to reallocate space to walking and cycling, what should Oxford prioritise? (more…)

everyday exercise

I'm really conscious of the importance of exercise, especially as I get older — I've read enough of the research on this to know how big the health implications are, and I've even heard Muir Gray talk twice. But I find it really hard to exercise just for the sake of exercise: I can't see myself ever joining a gym, buying household exercise equipment, or anything like that. (more…)

passport renewal - art, banknotes, traffic

Books + Ideas, Travel, , — September 2019

I had to go into London to renew my Australian passport, so I took the opportunity to visit some attractions: the Bank of England Museum and the Guildhall Art Gallery. (more…)

A 9km Chilterns loop walk, Pishill + Maidensgrove

Travel, — May 2019

Yesterday Helen and I did a lovely walk in the Chilterns with our friend Jude, a 9km loop starting in Pishill and having lunch at the Five Horseshoes in Upper Maidensgrove. (more…)

yes, Norway is expensive

Travel, — August 2018

It seems to be everyone's first question about Norway. And yes, it is indeed expensive. (more…)

Transferwise: foreign exchange transfers and payments

Technology, Travel — July 2018

Transferwise was originally a foreign exchange transfer service, but for some time it has offered a "Borderless" account — with sterling, Australian dollar, US dollar and Euro bank accounts as well as the ability to hold balances in two dozen other currencies — and now a debit card attached to that account. (more…)

Begbroke-Bladon-Woodstock walk

Oxford, Travel — May 2018

Helen and I did a lovely walk on Sunday with our friend Jude, starting at Begbroke, going through Bladon and Blenheim, and finishing in Woodstock.

Camilla was in Wales making a coracle, so we picked a walk we could do by bus on a Sunday (when many services out of Oxford don't run). We caught the S3 and got off at the Royal Sun at Begbroke. From there we walked past the lovely little St Michael's church (we didn't go in because there was a service in progress), across fields, and past some oak trees, to join the bridleway through the woods of Bladon Heath. That runs to Bladon, where we followed the back lanes to the church; we ate apples on a bench in front of Winston Churchill's grave.

We went into Blenheim by the Bladon Lodge entrance, then went into the Pleasure Garden for lunch (and a quick look at the Butterfly House though that was just too hot). Then we walked across the bridge, looked at the Harry Potter cypress, and went out the green gate to Woodstock, where we had a drink in the Oxfordshire Museum (where there was a lovely textile art exhibition) before catching the bus back to Oxford.

It was a lovely day, sunny but not too hot and with some shade from trees. 8km (5 miles) in about five hours, and there was a little bit of complaining, but I'm reasonably confident we'll cope ok with 9-11km stretches along Hadrian's Wall in three months time.

Amsterdam - first impressions

Travel, — November 2017

Some thoughts on Amsterdam, mostly about transport. (For comparison, the population of Amsterdam is about 900,000 - say 5 times the population of Oxford, but 1/10 the population of London.) (more…)

a vintage VW campervan to the Peak District

Travel, , , — August 2017

When Camilla suggested we hire an antique campervan, I was a bit sceptical at first: I don't get excited about cars the way she does, and it seemed likely to be an expensive faff. But we had a lovely weekend in a classic old VW campervan called Blossom, spending three nights in the Peak District (five miles or so west of Chesterfield). (more…)

Studley Green to Piddington loop walk

Travel, , — August 2017

Helen and I did a nice walk in the Chilterns with our friend Jude, a loop from the Studley Green garden centre to the Dashwood Arms in Piddington and back. The weather was perfect, warm but cloudy, with a gentle breeze and occasional patches of sun, and maybe half the walk was under trees. (more…)

Coombe Hill walk

Children, Travel, , — April 2017

Helen and I did a really nice walk in the Chilterns yesterday, from Coombe Hill down to Wendover and back. This is a loop of about 6km, with maybe 130m down and then up, offering a good variety of terrain and views. (more…)

Balinese music - Legong dance

Children, Travel, , — January 2017

Yesterday I set Helen up with the iPad, only to have her come to me after five minutes saying "Enough iPad, I want to watch some Legong Dance". And so we watched nearly an hour of Legong Lasem and Barong Taru Pramana. (more…)

a Lake District trip, staying four nights in Grasmere

Travel, — October 2016

We spent four nights in the Lake District in August and had a fantastic time: driving up on the Thursday and coming back on the Bank Holiday Monday gave us three full days, and we had really good weather. (more…)

Australian animals are no more dangerous than British cows

Life, Travel — October 2016

Living in Britain, one encounters a regular series of stories about how dangerous Australian animals are. (Otherwise, the UK media treat Australia pretty much the way the Australian media treat New Zealand.) And most people accept this as gospel, to the extent that it's often given as a reason for not visiting Australia. In fact, this is complete nonsense: British cows kill as many people each year as all of Australia's "dangerous" animals put together. (more…)

a Chilterns walk: Pulpit Hill + Ninn Wood

Travel, — August 2016

I took Helen on her longest walk yet, doing a near three mile circular walk in the Chilterns (more…)

an Easter in Wales: gypsy caravan + owl cabin

Travel, , — April 2016

We had a lovely Easter outing, spending three nights in a caravan and cabin combo just into Wales, a little northeast of Abergavenny, and using that as a base for trips into the Brecon Beacons. (more…)

my commute

Oxford, Travel — January 2016

My cycle to work is about 3.6km and takes maybe 15 minutes, which I think is about the perfect length. It's enough that I'm getting at least a small amount of regular exercise, but not so long that it ever feels tedious, and even on the rare occasions when there's serious rain (or it's dark on the way home in winter) it's not too daunting. It's also an attractive route, much of it quite pleasant cycling. I begin with a description, which I follow with some commentary on Oxford cycling infrastructure, on which it doesn't shed such a flattering light. (more…)

Oxford cyclists, imagined, actual and potential

Oxford, Travel, — February 2015

A dual network strategy for cycling only makes sense if we have a bimodal population of cyclists. To illustrate this, consider Frideswide Square, where the planners are clearly picturing something like this. (more…)

Harcourt Aboretum + Warburg Nature Reserve

Travel, — November 2013

Taking advantage of the last few weeks of nice weather, we visited Harcourt Aboretum on the last Sunday of October and then Warburg Nature Reserve on the first Sunday of November. (more…)

Wheatley windmill + Bishop Edward King chapel

A few weekends ago I went on a short cycle trip, with someone I had met on an earlier cycle tour, to two sights I hadn't known about: Wheatley windmill and Bishop Edward King chapel. (more…)

Why is Venice so attractive a city?

Travel — July 2013

The Grand Canal is its greatest attraction, but the reason Venice is such a fun city to explore is not the canals but the complete absence of cars (more…)

Kettler Spirit city bike - first impressions / review

Technology, Travel, , — July 2013

What is it? It's a Kettler Spirit, the product of a respected German company which sells online into the UK (though they do have a showroom in Redditch as well). Basically an upright city bicycle: what one might call a "Dutch bike" or a European city bike, though it's fundamentally pretty similar to my other bike, a thirty year old English three-speed roadster. (more…)

Binsey fete

Oxford, Travel — September 2012

Pete was running the Chicken Beauty Contest at the Binsey Fete, so I cycled up the Thames Path to see what was happening. (more…)


Travel, — August 2012

We ended up going to two Olympic events, the archery and the table-tennis. (more…)

Didcot A Power Station

Technology, Travel — July 2012

Last week we went on a tour of Didcot A. Commissioned around 1970, this is a coal-fired power station capable of generating around 2GW, with four 500MW units. The tour lasted more than two hours and we got to see at least something of most of the parts of the station. (more…)

the other place

Travel — July 2012

Last month Camilla and I went to Cambridge - known in Oxford as "the other place" - for the day, to meet up with one of her PhD supervisors who was visiting from Australia. (more…)

tourist epistemology (Korea)

Travel — January 2012

A recent visit to Seoul has made me think about "tourist epistemology". (more…)

car touring Wales

In August Camilla took an extra day off to go with the August bank holiday and we spent four days driving around Wales. (more…)

Charles Darwin's home - Down House

Camilla and I, joined by Camilla's colleagues Rosalind and Madeleine, drove to Kent to visit Charles Darwin's home, Down House. (more…)

Walking trips

Travel — August 2011

Some walking trips I'd like to do. Is anyone interested in joining me for these? (more…)

Dorchester Abbey + Wittenham Clumps

Travel, , — August 2011

We slept in and had a lazy Sunday morning, but after lunch we drove down to Dorchester, which is just twenty minutes away. (more…)

Wytham Woods

Camilla had applied for Wytham Woods permit last year, but we'd never got around to using it. But on Easter Sunday we went there for a picnic with Jenny and Thomas and the boys. (more…)

Bath visit

Travel, — February 2011

Camilla needed a break from work, so we took last weekend off and visited Bath. (more…)


Travel, , — November 2010

Last month I went up to Edinburgh, to visit Australian friends Carole and Don who are living there for six months. (more…)

Uley Bury + the Jenner Museum

Camilla's sister Amy and her husband Alex were visiting, so we went for at trip out to the Jenner Museum in Gloucestershire. (more…)

Hay-on-Wye + Blaenavon

Books + Ideas, Travel, — October 2010

We spent a weekend on the Welsh border, staying two nights in Ewyas Harold (pronounced "Yewass") in the Old Rectory B&B. (more…)

Brill + Otmoor

Travel — October 2010

Brill buildings

Camilla took the day off on my birthday and we drove out to Brill, where we looked at the old windmill (we couldn't go inside as it is only open in summer), had lunch in the Pheasant (moderately expensive, but rather good), and wandered across the common. We then visited the RSPB reserve on Otmoor. (more…)


Travel — September 2010

Camilla's cousin Esther was visiting for a couple of days, so we took her to see Stonehenge (more…)

Classic Car Show - Blenheim Palace

Travel — September 2010

Last weekend Camilla and I went to a classic car show at Blenheim Palace. (more…)

Guiting Power walk: Cotswolds

Travel, , — August 2010

To take advantage of our newly acquired car, we headed off for a day in the Cotswolds. (more…)


Travel, — July 2010

We only had little bits of time to see Birmingham (more…)

London: British Museum + Courtauld Gallery

Travel, , — April 2010

In my first trip outside Oxford since I arrived here eight weeks ago, I went into London on Thursday with my sister Jenny. (more…)

Turkey trip

Travel — March 2010

It looks like my first trip outside the UK will be to Turkey, with my aunt sometime in May. (more…)

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