Friday was a good day. ^_^ I'd seen mention in the BBC Wildlife Magazine of an deer park, with the site mentioning some two hundred fallow deer roaming the house's grounds. Of course, that made a perfect match for some beautiful weather. So, I hopped on a bus out of town, getting off somewhat closer to my destination, with something like a 1-2 hour walk ahead of me, depending on how much time I spent taking photographs, and what detours I might encounter. The idea was to get there, enjoy some refreshments, and then spend an hour or two around the grounds, in search of hoofiness. In actuality, there didn't seem to be anywhere to pay, so I wandered around in awe of the immaculate gardens, eventually entering the main house itself, thinking that'd be a surefire bet to find somewhere to handle admission matters. Apparently, they're only set up to take money from people up by the parking area way up to the north of the grounds, so the guide simply said it was my lucky day. ^_^ The house itself reached its peak in the mid-18th Century, with as lavish a collection of wall hangings (three of leather, no less), paintings, Chinese crockery, Delft pottery and tiles, and more. Even though it was hardly what I'd set out to visit, it was quite fascinating regardless. Coming on for three hours after my arrival, I finally made my way along one of the marked paths around the grounds, taking me along the eastern perimeter. All quite beautiful, but I couldn't shake that suspicion I'd be leaving without any wildlife on the card - would they be interested in being out and about on such a warm, bright day?
And then, as I reached the top of the grounds, I saw a line of antlers.. ^_^ I kept my distance, of course - howsoever used to visitors they might be, those antlers are not just decorative, and I'm quite happy with my internal organs remaining thus, with the emphasis on "internal". (Not, it has to be said, something I have to bear in mind with my usual subjects) I'll admit to not getting any stunning shots that'll make magazine covers, but it was quite a special moment nonetheless, being in the presence of so many, and so chill.
The views from along the northern side of the grounds were indeed quite impressive. I'll be trying a panorama stitch or two in the future, I suspect. But, time was proceeding inexorably, and I knew it'd likely be a good two hours, likely more, to get back to where I might continue on the trail back home, or catch a bus, if I were in time, or seek rehydration and sustenance in the pub there. Given it was about 5pm by that time, and the sun's setting before 8pm now, with the final bus from that spot at 8.15pm, I had to set off - no hardship, as the grounds close at 5pm anyway. And yet another new trail to explore!
I didn't quite make the final bus, and the paws were making their disagreements with the day known quite vociferously, so I sought the comfort of the landlord's hospitality, and gave their menu a try as well. (Overall, very close to being a destination, but not quite. All the ingredients were good, and the combinations imaginative, but the magic just wasn't there - no piquance, no verve) But the two hours rest was precisely what I needed - heading back afterward (with, I admit, the aid of a taxi =:) was perfectly fine.
In all, then: about two hours walking getting there, four hours there, and three hours getting most of the way back. I think I might take Saturday easy. ^_^
Of course, as fate would have it, my favorite shots of the day were of some deer spotted through the entry to some random field, on the way back. =:D
Brian May will be in Bristol next Tuesday, leading a rally against the badger cull: College Green, 4.30-7pm. "Meanwhile, their campaign has drawn cross-party support from Bristol, including leading Conservatives. Bristol24-7 reported in March that the Conservative Party spokesman in Bristol West had urged the coalition government to scrap its controversial plans. Graham Godwin-Pearson’s statement came after Conservative think-tank the Bow Group unveiled a major paper saying the culls were likely to be more costly and less practical to conduct than ministers believe. Mr Godwin-Pearson, the principle author and Tory spokesman in the Bristol West constituency, added the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) focus should be on vaccination instead."
I'd heard something about Stephen Hawking in the Paralympics opening ceremony, but I hadn't actually seen anything of it until just now, when I was provided with a link to the entire affair, placed there entirely officially. =:D And lo, here he is, alongside Orbital. (I understand there are even still tickets available for their gig coming up in SF)
An iOS sale I ought to note: all the Sam & Max titles from Telltale are temporarily 99¢. ^_^ Nicely, they're Universal, running on any iPad, and anything from the iPhone 3GS onward.
If you'd like yet another reason to dump the appalling PayPal, consider this close call - close only because the guy had already set about an exit plan. Had it not been for that, and some judicious timing, he'd have found several thousand pounds frozen, for as long as they cared - and after that, access only after the balance reached a high level.
In rather a welcome move, the bulk of Raspberry Pi manufacture is being moved to South Wales, at Sony's Pencoed plant. "It’s an incredibly impressive affair; the quietest, pleasantest plant I’ve ever been in, all comfortable lighting, ergonomic workspaces, cool air and relaxed staff. Sony’s quality control system is legendary, their ability to manufacture fast and cleanly is superb, and they’ve already invested £50,000 in PoP (Package on Package – the fiddly stuff where the Broadcom chip at the heart of the Raspberry Pi is stacked beneath the RAM chip) hardware and expansion capability just for us."
Doctor Who continues to bring home the BBC's bacon - BBC America just reported the season opener brought in 1.6m viewers. Small beans compared to UK viewing figures, but not bad for a channel that's hardly a feature of basic cable. Might anyone know what sort of reach they actually have these days? Of course, the picture's much more complex now than 20 years ago, with the net becoming a major broadcast medium in its own right - the Doctor was last year's best seller on iTunes US.
Thursday's dinner turned out to be.. well, probably the best thing I've cooked in quite a while. =:9 (Sadly, whatever it tastes like, my cooking is usually the antithesis of photogenic =:) I began by sautéeing some buna shimeji mushrooms, like a chestnut variant of enoki, along with some nonpareille capers, in the bit of sauce of a tin of Spanish scallops, plus a little olive oil. After they'd both cooked well (the mushrooms had a helpful DO NOT EAT RAW note on the packaging, and I wanted the capers to be quite well done), I added two slices of sweetcure smoked bacon, cut into thin strips. Finally, once the red camargue rice was cooked, I added several king prawns, and after turning those, the aforementioned (quite dainty) tin of scallops, and soon after, a little boiling water, and a sachet of instant spicy butternut squash soup, to make up the sauce. To put the finishing touches on the flavors, a teaspoon of minced garlic, and about half that of Dijon mustard. I'd have been delighted to have eaten that in a restaurant.
It's particularly gratifying, as well, given that I had no idea what I was doing. =:) The train of thought began with the scallops, and I thought bacon would go well. As the tin was quite modestly sized, I considered some raw king prawns might be a good complement. I was quite hesitant about the mushrooms - at this point, the ingredients list (and the basket) was growing in weight, and I wasn't sure if that might wind up making it too complex, risking losing the special flavors of each ingredient.