Spring is my favourite colour

Saturday bike ride to Rathdrum and back, the purpose being to suss out a possible route for a kid's camp later in the year. About 50 miles round trip and I got cramp several times. Argh! I must be out of condition.

Looking west from Wicklow Gap - it's mist not the sea!

The beautiful Avonmore River

Spring time Ballygannon tree tops

My Sunday run (just 5 miles) somewhat affected by yesterday's bike ride. So many flowers are yellow at this time of the year!


My favourite


My lake

Dunno what these are but they're cute

Specially when out of focus





Google tells me it was Holi Festival a few days back. It looks like fun though what all those chemicals do to one's body when inhaled or ingested I dread to think. But, given my love of colour, perhaps I ought to be Hindu?


The lake (again)

Combining yesterday and today I ran (barefoot of course) 17.7 miles which sounds impressive but it doesn't count so much when summed over two days. I may have said before how much I love our lake but, because I do and there were some cool light effects with a storm around, I have to inflict some more photos on you. Sorry, but that's just the way it goes. It is, after all, my blog.


The bell

I've started reading The bell by Iris Murdoch. I admit I haven't yet got very far but already I am impressed by the telling detail of her description of unbelieving Dora returning, after a period of separation, to her alienated husband Paul who is now part of an Anglican lay community. His life is conditioned by the community. Hers by her shallowness of character and previous dispensing with religion. And yet of the two she is the more likely to give time to stand and stare...

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
William Henry Davies

I do allow myself a little time to stand and stare, well at least to run barefoot and stare. I try to get out four times a week although two of those are early morning when I am only half awake. These are good times for private prayer, and for dusting cobwebs from the mind and I like to think they also keep me fitter than I would otherwise be given my office job. The other great escape is my bed: how I love that feeling of laying my head on my pillow, relaxing every muscle and at last surrendering myself to sleep. Oh, and breakfast. Because I generally retire at a sensible time I also start the day earlier than most others here. This means I can take my breakfast in solitude, a practise that I firmly recommend.

But at other times I too, like Paul, am conditioned and imprisoned by my supposed beliefs. I say "supposed" because so much I find myself wrestling on the horns of the dilemma: is what we say we believe true or are we Christians fools?

I'm rather of the opinion that the truth is somewhere else. I am reminded of

But amidst all these rejoicings Aslan himself quietly slipped away. And when the Kings and Queens noticed that he wasn't there they said nothing about it. For Mr Beaver had warned them, "He'll be coming and going," he had said. "One day you'll see him and another you won't. He doesn't like being tied down and of course he has other countries to attend to. It's quite all right. He'll often drop in. Only you mustn't press him. He's wild,' you know. Not like a tame lion."  Lewis

When I was younger I had a problem with Lewis' theology as expressed here. We evangelicals are taught that God is omnipresent. But I find it to be true in my life that it at least seems like He comes and goes. And my fervour or lack of it doesn't appear to make any difference, again contrary to what we are taught. I don't want to exchange standing and staring at the beauty of this year's daffodils (my fav flower) for busyness and religious activity.

Then I wonder how I can have the gall to even contemplate such agnosticism when at the same time we are warned that over a million children might starve to death in Africa this year, and hear of atrocities in Syria, inhumanity in N. Korea, and so the list goes on. Not that either my being busy or standing and staring has yet, I regret, made any difference to the third world.


Cold, wet and dismal

Now king David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat. No, I'm not that far gone yet but sometimes in the winter I can kind of identify with "he gat no heat". Today it was cold and drizzling and misty and dismal and I ran my usual course plus a bit along the lake-side, 6.6 miles in all, followed by a long hot bath and then a book, an arm-chair, a large mug of hot tea and Cherry Bakewell for recovery.

Blessington lake in the mist


Thou shall not tempt update 2

These are his parents' bold words a day or so ago: I believe that God wants ... to "be made whole by the power of the Holy Spirit" so this is what we pray and this is what we ask you to pray.

And I pray that the God who "made all the delicate inner parts" of ...'s body will re-knit them, that he will replace a missing chromosome, that he will renew faulty cells.

They don't strike me as "religious" people and they know the impossibility of what is being asked for. They have even wondered how to tell if there had been healing whilst waiting for the procedure - it seems the only indicator being the blood count levels which they will be watching.

I don't often get involved with this sort of thing: asking for the impossible, when frankly I do not think I have ever witnessed an obvious miracle - I like to steer clear and keep in the safe zone. But somehow this case touched me and made me cry out beyond the normal, something rose from deep within me, and I can only suppose this was God's doing. If not, if I was just reacting to emotion, then it makes me question if know God. If this boy is healed it won't me my doing. And if this boy isn't healed it won't be my doing either. Either God acts on his word, or not.  As that centurion remarked so long ago, you only have to say the word, Lord, and the boy will be healed. So be it.


Tiverton town leat

marks the termination
of the town leat
given to Tiverton
by Countess Isabella
in the thirteenth century

I was idly perambulating the streets of Tiverton, as one does, whilst Ali was shopping interminably when I came across this curious construction. After a little internet research I discovered that, if I were to return here during September, I could participate in an ancient custom rehearsed once every seven years.  I quote:

Perambulation of the Leat—9th September 2017

The Perambulation of the Town Leat also known as water-bailing is an ancient custom that takes place in the town of Tiverton, Devon, England, once every seven years. The event commemorates and claims the gift of the town's water supply in the 13th century by Isabella, Countess of Devon and involves walking the length of the watercourse to its source six miles away at Norwood Common.

The procession starts at the Town Hall and is led by the four individuals known as "pioneers" armed with pickaxes and sledgehammers whose job it is to demolish any obstruction found in the stream. Behind the pioneers is the Bailiff of the Hundred, who carries an ancient staff of office, behind him are the "Withy-boys" drawn from Blundell's School and Tiverton High School whose job it is to whip the stream with sticks – or withy-wands. Then come the police, the town beadle, the Mayor of Tiverton, his fellow councillors and lastly the general public.

The procession's first stop is Coggan's Well in Fore Street, the traditional  centre of the town where the stream emerges from underneath the road. Placing his staff in the water, the Bailiff of the Hundred claims the stream "for ever, for the sole use and benefit and as the right of the inhabitants of the town of Tiverton". Further proclamations are made at Castle Street, Townsend, Brickhouse Hill, Chettiscombe, the waterworks at Allers and finally at Norwood Common, where a plaque marks the actual source. The ancient route now involves negotiating walls, private gardens and making use of many paths that are not public rights of way, some of which must be cleared on each perambulation.

My perambulations had also taken me along Castle Street where a steam flows, somewhat incongruously, down the centre of the the road. It emerges from a culvert at one end and later disappears into another, presumably to reappear at Coggan's Well - as I now realise this is none other than the town leat in another guise.

Castle Stree

For those of you as ignorant as I was, a "leat" is the name, common in the south and west of England and in Wales (Lade in Scotland), for an artificial watercourse or aqueduct dug into the ground. See here for a fuller description or here for a video of the 2010 perambulation. And I found this photograph of the plaque:

Source of the town leat

Map showing the leat - the source is by the legend "Van Post"

The course of the leat is well marked on various maps (see above, or type "Tiverton town leat" into google maps or go here) where it looks like a natural stream. The source is at the top of my map just below the legend "Van Post". Maybe Countess Isabella aka Isabel de Forz or her cronies just diverted an existing stream. In any event she was quite a benefactor having her hand in many projects to improve the life of her subjects. And to be still remembered 750 years on must say something.

Isabella's paternal arms

One supposes that, having created the leat, she instigated a wholly practical system of maintenance to ensure that clean water would continue to benefit the town inhabitants of which the present day custom of perambulation is a caricature. You can find some interesting history here (search for "peramb") but regrettably it does not reveal details of the original practice.

Looking at what emanates from Coggan's well now, and empties somewhat unhelpfully into the drains either side, I am not sure I would want to drink it.

As for the withy-boys and their thrashing the leat with withy-wands, it is clearly a bit of fun as this next stock photograph shows, but the significance avoids me! A "withy" is a tough, flexible branch of an osier or other willow, used for tying, binding, or basketry.

Chettiscombe : Withy Boys & Girls

Knighthayes Court, which the leat circumnavigates, is a large house and grounds now owned by the National Trust - during this visit and at her request we drove Ali's mum around this estate and liked the novel use of a couple of fallen trees so I took some photos.

So, why all this fuss about a bit of history?  Because it tickled me. Because it is evidently important enough to the folk who live in Tiverton for them to perpetuate the tradition. And because it echoes thoughts I am currently struggling with, namely a realisation of how little of my so called "Christian" lifestyle is reality. Consider how the present day perambulation has morphed from what must have been the original maintenance to ensure flow of clean water. Doubtless if any major blockage was discovered it would still be dealt with but, otherwise, it is now little more than a game to be enjoyed for the craic, like so many other traditions now-a-days. As such it is harmless enough provided no-one imagines it is the real thing - and there's the rub. We "Christians" do imagine our liturgy is the real thing. If I were to empty my lifestyle of all the stuff I am now thinking is just a let's pretend game, I wonder if I would be left with anything real?



Visiting Ali's mum again in Willand, Devon and fighting a man-cold. The sort that creates possibly literally litres of phlegm which still lingers a week on. With that and dreary weather I did less barefoot running than other times. My first included part of my favourite water meadows - one can hardly go to Willand and miss this, winter or man-cold or not.

First run 6.95 miles

The second included a bit of detective work to prepare for possible future runs should I return in warmer weather.

Second run 8.1 miles

Sampford Peverell footpaths

There are some interesting looking cross-country foot paths north of Sampford Peverell (a quaint name) which I want to explore. The A361 "North Devon link road" forms a barrier too dangerous to cross on foot, so I wondered how the marked footpaths managed it. Because it was drizzling and cold the whole time, and my body was not 100% either, I missed the possible crossing (a tunnel?) at the green arrow, but made it along the Grand Western Canal tow-path to the red arrow where I was pleased to see they had included a footpath by the side of the A361 as it crosses the canal.

I took a few photos which I relegate to the end of this post.

The third run took me across the Irish Sea with my S5 smart. With former GPS devices I have owned I have found it difficult to maintain a GPS fix without putting the device as close to the window as possible. With the S5 I was pleased to see it kept tracking even when I had the device on my lap from which position I could read an e-book. A rather satisfying short story Second Variety by Philip Dick. And strictly (or "properly" if you are a Swallow and Amazon addict) I was not running barefoot this time.

Tracking all the way

Maximum speed 381.64 mph, maximum altitude 7105m, total distance 225 miles. Rather better than my usual runs.

Grand Western Canal

First light (as far as my cameras was concerned) on the Grand Western Canal tow-path. I'm running on the verge because the path itself it too gritty. But the verge must have included some stinging nettles if my feet told me correctly later in the day. Note the dog walker in the distance. The walker is brandishing a flash-light, no surprise - strange that most folk can't see in the half light! But the dog has a harness with lights on it! An excellent idea.

Sampford Peverell

more canal

more Sampford

I like these lighting effects...

First bus (I guess) leaving Sampford

Goods train through Tiverton Parkway station

Path of former Culm Valley light railway

My last photo comes with a question should P or J be reading this. Doubtless they will recognise the location, close as it is to where they live. From the main road the former railway route is nicely paved with that solid white line down the middle until you get here. The path continues through brambles but soon becomes impassable to bare feet, and yet street lamps continue along it. My question is - does it now lead anywhere, or just come to a full stop at the boundary of this housing estate?


Most treasured possession

When I say that this is my most treasured possession, like saying yellow is my favourite colour, it is somewhat tongue in cheek. But some truth as well. Some might say it should be my wife but I am not at all sure that one "possesses" a wife. Semantics aside, for the purposes of this post I will maintain my ground.

Most treasured possession

What is it? It is a Rank-Strand Cinemoid swatch book, which I have kept all these years in a box that once contained a "2 MEG LIN L/S" potentiometer. Samples of what are known in the trade as "gels" and used to colour stage lights. The price "2/6" dates it before UK decimalisation in 1971. Back then my older sister had a friend who was involved in theatrical lighting and, besotted as I was with all things colour, I begged him to save me some Cinemoid off-cuts. He went beyond all I could have dreamed and acquired this book for me.  Cinemoid was introduced in 1960 - before that theatre lights were coloured by sheets of dyed gelatin hence "gels", but these could easily melt so had a very short lifetime. Cinemoid was made of acetate and was self extinguishing and came in a glorious range of colours. I saved pocket money to buy some sheets, and later was given a pile of off-cuts the remains of which I still have, closely guarded against the perils of community living. Of which, during one notable period, we could own only that which we could fit into our bedroom, and bedrooms back then were quite small and it was not unusual to return from a trip to find that the contents had been moved lock, stock and barrel to another location. And the movers were more interested in getting the job over and done with than with caring for one's possessions. 

with a colour wheel I made

In spite of this restriction I still have my Cinemoid swatch book and still, I am pleased to say, have my wife.

The Cinemoid brand now seems to have been superseded by Rosco and Lee and, I suppose, with RGB LED lamps there is less call for filters. In spite of this Cinemoid swatch books like mine are not so very uncommon and may be got on eBay for about 20 GBP.

I sacrificed parts of some of my swatches to made for example the colour wheel above. When spun this gave a reasonable approximation to "white".

I still love it.

Dated much earlier in Bailey history is the colour wheel in my next picture. My father made this, I suppose, when he was a boy - it is hand-painted with water colours on a card disk about 6" diameter made to fit a Meccano circular plate and the idea was to spin it to demonstrate that white light is composed of a spectrum of colours. From previous experience I know its "white" was not very, in fact more beige. But to prove the point I have mounted the wheel on a small d.c. motor and here you have the results.

My father's colour wheel attempt

Here it is spinning at speed

Slowing down

And finally stationary

For completeness I repeated this experiment using my own colour wheel with somewhat better results. This probably reflects on the better colour purity of Cinemoid filters compared with war time children's water colours!  You'll note also that my father has the traditional seven rainbow colours whereas I have the three primary and three secondary colours. Perhaps this says something about tradition.

My colour wheel attached to d.c. motor

Spinning slowly

Spinning fast the colours mix to a plausible white

Which brings me to my father's secret cupboard and another treasured possession. We children all knew about his cupboard in my parent's bedroom under the steps that led to the attic, attic of model railway fame on one side and my older sister's boudoir on the other. But to open the cupboard - this was strictly out of bounds. Although when suitably sure of not being discovered, I did occasionally peep in. I cannot of course divulge what was in that cupboard apart from to say that he kept his Meccano there. Which Pandora's box I am pleased to have inherited and is shown below.  It was at one time in its more distant past a canteen for cutlery, hence the blue lining inside.

My father's Pandora's box

Treasure inside the box

Smaller parts in the tray

I may have mentioned before the colours on a 56K-ohm resistor which was contributory to my choice of career, colour light signals confirming my love of railways, or the visible spectrum drawing me to loving optics, and so on. And yet if you ask people in the community here I think they would agree that I would be the last person to comment on or contribute to the choice of colour for walls, carpet or curtains. And this is not because I do not have opinions.

As a final reminder that this writer loves colour, I woke this morning to open the curtains (there's another potential blog post hidden in this action) and saw a blue dawn with the yellow moon setting behind the tree line. I did not think my camera would do it justice but the results are not too far from what I actually saw.

A study in blue and yellow