Sunday, 15 January 2012

Keeping It Short and Failing

Tonight, I need to get sleep. However, I have an urge to write so I will blog. I will do so quickly and try not to waste my time or anyone else's. A picture, I've heard, is as good as a thousand words so I've been taking some today.

Once again, I headed off to Fountains Abbey with Beth and Tom. Ang was between night shifts again so I needed to keep them out of the way. The National Trust surely have a good set up there and I particularly like the roast pork. It's well worth the money and is reasonably pricey. Unfortunately they had to close the playground due to the possibility of someone slipping on ice, or more likely, the possibility of someone suing them after being stupid enough to slip on ice. 

Needing somewhere else to go afterwards, we went to see Kev. Tom rather enjoyed reorganising the DVD collection. Meanwhile, Beth, Kev and I watched something about Alabama Shrimp boats. You can always count on Kev to find something with true educational value. No doubt he had terabytes of the stuff ready to go when Beth decided she wanted to go to the Castle. As we strolled, Tom babbled and smiled at passers by, his sister looked for new precipices to plummet from and we talked Go Pro Hero. 

Kev suggested I consider using the camera and the time lapse function over several months as a sort of project. It's not something I've tried before but I guess if a picture tells a thousand words then one taken every 30 seconds or would tell a whole bunch. 

Back at home, with the kids in bed and some hugely important school work to put off, I decided to have a go. Thankfully, I figured out how the set our Ixus 80 IS up for time lapse quickly and got on with the work that needed doing. 

Following that, in order to avoid other work that needs doing just as much, I decided to try out Windows Live Movie Maker. I've been using the older version up to now but it seems to hang a lot. Unfortunately, I'm not impressed by the newer version with it's lack of functionality and annoying tabbed menu (ala Office 2010). As a result, I may consider looking at Premier Elements or something similar. 

Too many words and I need to get sleep. Here are several pictures. 

Friday, 13 January 2012

Go Pro Hero 2

It seems an age since I last blogged. I suppose that's mostly because I had little to talk about and precious little time to write about it. The fact that I am now working on a new blog post doesn't really mean I have more time than I had yesterday or the day before. It means in fact that I have finally ordered and recieved a Go Pro Hero 2 action cam. I've even filmed part of a ride with it.

The Go Pro isn't the first camera I've ever bought. The first was a cheep and nasty helmet cam which wasn't at all easy to fit to the helmet and thanks to the shape of my lit, never pointed forward. Add to that the exceptionally jumpy quality of the video and it comes as no surprise that it has been taking up draw space for some time. I've also used the Flip Cam (my all time favourite home video camcorder) and tried to somehow lash it to the handle bars with a flexible legged mini tripod. The mount let it down and the sound wasn't great.

Clearly, something else was needed and the one Kev mentioned was the Go Pro camera. I'd never noticed them before but now I've been spying them in use on Top Gear, Country File and about every other scene of Charlie Boorman's various programs. If it's good enough for them and still comparatively low cost, it must be the one for me. I finally decided to get one ordered using some of a tax rebate I had received just before Christmas.

Getting it out of the box was exciting. My first impression was that it was smaller than I was expecting. The mounting kit seems pretty good with a few sticky mounts and one suction cup mount. It's going to be hard placing £250 worth of faith in anything that doesn't involve bolts or clamps but I suppose it needs to be done. As it happens, the mounts aren't ideally suited too sticking on my windscreen but it can just about be done. At lunch time I had a play about and found that the suction cup mount attached well to the slightly curved perspex. Unfortunately this will mean more shaking than I would like, a situation I'll just have to live with.

As with anything, I really wanted to use the camera as soon as possible. Thanks to the staff meeting overrunning, the first I got to use it was after dark. I figured I may as well give it a go anyway. The result is this video. It proves that the 35w headlight on the Yamaha can not be detected by the Go Pro. To be fair, it can hardly be detected by me on rainy nights like this. I'm reasonably pleased with the sound quality. There is a squeaking noise that will need to be tracked down though.
When I got it home I discovered that the video format, mp4, is not supported in Windows Moviemaker. I had to transcode to .avi before I could import it into the only video editing program I have. As I've no intention of investing in a professional video editing suite, it will have to stay that way.

To sum up, I have high hopes for the Go Pro. I see a future in which I can post videos I've made with it on my blog. That future will not be after sunset any time. Now I just need the opportunity to get somewhere worth filming a ride out. I can't see that happening any time soon but live in hope.

PS I did think I might write about the Actifry, also bought on the back of a tax refund. It does make superb chips and roast potatos are a breeze but it's not really what I see myself writing about.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Adventure Riding on a YBR125

The weather has been lots of fun of late. Today marked the first day back for the new Spring Term and it was all about the wind. It's been on the news and my phone has been pinging away happily with weather warnings (happily, there is an app for that) though I wasn't prepared for the reality.

Firstly, last night, as the wind was gusting to 90mph (or so I'm told by our caretaker), making mincemeat of our boundary fences and knocking over weather stations across Yorkshire, I was having a bad nights sleep. Blaming it entirely on the wind is unfair. There is something about the start of a new term that has me writhing in bed and dreaming like I've consumed the European cheese mountain (assuming there is on). This time, I had decided to take five years out of teaching to rejoin the ARMY. It's not the first time I've had that one so feel free to psychoanalyse away.

By 06:30 I was clearing bits of fence off the drive so I could head into work on Angie's Yamaha YBR125. It needs to get out more and I quite like it. Weighing next to nothing, the little learner dances around in strong winds making it lots of fun in the gales we had last night. Being blown all over the A59 was the main challenge I expected when I headed out.

As it turned out I felt like I was in one of my many adventure motorcycling DVDs. I came out of Askwith for the final run into Ilkley to find a truck in the middle of the road. Knowing I could get round the lorry, it never occurred to me there might be a reason why it had stopped. The reason, a fallen tree soon became obvious. As it was mostly clear on the verge I broke off a few branches and decided to ride over the remaining tree. It all started well but before long I was stuck with branches I hadn't thought would be a problem jammed in the spokes. I ended up lifting, shoving, heaving and pretty much carrying it. We got there in the end though and though I must have looked a bit of a wally to the truck driver, I'm glad I did it.

That wasn't the only tree down on the road however non of the others had blocked it entirely. The next obstacle was a great big puddle. I've seen enough of motorcycles wading in my many aforementioned DVDs and even had a bit of off road experience driving Rover's and Daf's in the Balkans. That's not to say I'm any kind of expert but I know the water must not be allowed to get to the air box. Going into the puddle, probably a little fast, I found myself thinking, 'I have no idea where the air-box is on this on.' It came out the other side and the only things that suffered were my socks.

I've done it all now. I guess I'm all set to circumnavigate the globe on a 125. Should be fun and with the YBR's fuel economy I'll only need two or three tanks of petrol. Anyone want to join me?

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Ingthorpe Grange

Ingthorpe Grange (from their website)
We've just returned from out little get away. The children seem to have had an absolute ball but they haven't had anything like the treatment Ang and received.

Mum found us an amazing place to stay just outside Skipton. Ingthorpe Grange is a beautiful house and exquisitely presented inside and out. It's set among beautiful and near deserted rolling dales while only a 20 minutes drive from Skipton. Our room was enormous, roughly the same size as the whole upper floor of our house. The en-suite bathroom dwarfed our bedroom. Ang and I usually find we miss our bed but the four poster at Ingthorpe was hands down the nicest I've ever slept in. In short, Mum found us the best Bed and Breakfast ever (to the best of my knowledge anyway).

However, what made it was the atmosphere. Though much of this is created by the rural location and the owners apparent obsession with tasteful interior design, the persisting memory will be feeling like being we were being welcomed wholeheartedly into someones lovely home. We only ever met Sean (and the dog) but he couldn't do enough for us even though he doubtless had enough on his hands tending to Lesley who broke her arm while we were there.

Sean recommended a lovely pub for dinner and made sure they kept a table free for us. The Angel Inn in Hetton is lovely. A gastro-pup for sure, they don't seem to have chips or pie anywhere on the menu. What I will always remember about that particular restaurant was that when they brought the cutlery, it came in little bags which is completely new on me. Oh, and the food was very good.

It's a shame I had the coffee at the end of the meal. I'm not sure why people offer you a highly caffeinated drink just before you're going to go home for bed. I'm really not sure why I though it would be a good idea. Perhaps I'm just even more idiotic than I though. It's such a shame because I've not been getting much sleep with it being the Christmas holidays and being the proud owner of two early rising children. That luxurious bed in the silence of the countryside was an opportunity I couldn't afford to miss. Needless to say, that cappuccino kept me up long after I got to bed so the opportunity was well and truly missed.

I'd like to think that we will get back there one day. Ingthorpe Grange really is somewhere special. Perhaps if we do, the weather will be a little nicer. It was touch and go getting out of there this morning. See below.
I was just getting my wellies on to see how deep this when when a van came flying through at which point I decided it must be passable. 

Childless In Malham

What a lovely day we've had. Tomorrow will be my birthday so today Ang and I have had a day to remember made possible by Mum and Dad who sorted an amazing place to stay and are looking after (spoiling rotten) Beth and Tom.

Having dropped off our two little lovelies, Ang and I headed out to Skipton for a sausage sandwich and some retail therapy. I'm really glad of the retail therapy as I hadn't the right sort of socks or gloves for the weather. It was on the way to Skipton that we found ourselves climbing Blubberhouse Pass while the snow was falling. Not always a good idea.
Snow on Blubberhouse Pass wasn't a sign that the weather would be for us. 
Then it was on to Malham to stretch the old legs. It's been years since either of us have done it so the standard walk was the one for us (especially as I don't seem to have a map of the area anymore and have forgotten way to much about navigating to go off the main paths while there's a weather warning in place). Suitably attired in welly boots, great big socks and raincoats we bravely followed the rest of the masses playing the who's in the least suitable footwear game, the winner of which was wearing Converse style pumps. I know Dad will say that wearing wellies, I should qualify but I'm glad I left the walking boots in the car as I have no gaiters and there was some serious mud on offer.
Underground river emerges at the foot of once awesome waterfall in Malham  Cove.  Wellies required to get this shot. 

The route took up up to the cove where we stopped to take pictures (by which I mean 'put off the inevitable'). Then it was up the steps. I'm really not as young as I was or at least, not as fit as I was. By the time we reached the limestone pavement atop Malham Cove I was a wreck. Not Ang though. She flew up the steps. Fortunately I got my own back immediately as I'm reasonably sure footed while Ang is about as sure footed as the five minute old Bambi. I'm not sure she appreciated me telling her that Tom could probably cross the stone faster than she could. Ah well, never mind. We got there in the end.
Really thought these steps would kill me. I'm so unfit. 

Limestone Pavement is amazing but Ang didn't seem to like it much. 
From the top of the cove we took the easy route to the bottom of Gordale Scar rather than the route that comes through it. I'm pretty sure Ang would not thank me for the scramble coming down the scar it's self. The tea van at the bridge in Gordale is now a trailer and they do a mean bacon butty. I'm going to have to add it to possible ride out destinations for the future because that was the best bacon sandwich I've had in, um, years.
Angie at Janet's Foss
Finally back to Malham via Janet's Foss to the Old Barn tea room for tea and scones. Lovely.