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Hi! I'm Nick Murdoch. Most people come here for the tiffin recipe. I can't blame them.

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  • April 2019

    Thu, 18 Jul 2019 21:02:13 GMT


    In April a pheasant knocked at my door before running off when I opened it; I also threw pottery for the first time, role-played in Bristol, walked amongst bluebells in Bentley Wood, went to a theatrical performance of Amélie, and visited Canterbury. Finally, most of my stuff was moved into self-storage prior to my move.

    Bluebells

    It seemed to be a good season for bluebells this year, with them popping up all over the garden in Devon, around Dartmoor and in Bentley Wood which I visited with Emily and her mum. I also found how to adjust the colour on my camera a bit to get the blue to pop a bit more than I've managed before!






    Canterbury and Margate

    We visited Canterbury (and Margate) to play some escape rooms, and took the opportunity to look around my old university town. Gosh, it brought back a lot of memories.








    Amélie and cat photos

    Finally, here are some photos I took of the lovely Mega and Kilo at Emily's mum when we visited for Easter. We went to see the new Amélie musical which was mostly very good, and we were probably closer to the target audience than most of the retirees who had shown up at the beautiful Watermill theatre for presumably an easy matinée performance and were instead confronted with sex toy shops and gnome-stealing millennials (there was an actual gasp of shock from somewhere in the audience when Amélie ran off with the garden gnome).






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  • March 2019

    Sun, 14 Jul 2019 18:38:40 GMT


    In March, I visited Lynton in Exmoor, took a beautiful walk around Dartmoor, which would turn out to be my last before moving, and had a long weekend in Budapest playing escape rooms, sightseeing, and eating some weird food.

    Exmoor

    We visited Lynton and had a ride on their water-powered funicular railway, which was fun.



    After getting to the top of the hill, we took a walk to Lee Abbey and back, then a long diversion back to town down via the Lyn valley and back along the river to the estuary there.



    Exmoor was extremely rugged and pretty, with a fair few little hills to climb. Also I bought fudge from a local shop.

    We had lunch on a pebble beach with terrific rock features.



    A huge herd of goats were also enjoying the landscape, with several fighting over who got to monarch of a favoured rock.



    The valley walk was gorgeous too, with waterfalls and finally, as the rain came in, a heron catching some fish.






    Dartmoor

    Emily and I went to Meldon reservour, which happened to be one of the first places I visited on Dartmoor. This time we did a different circular walk, up to the top of the hills and across the old train viaduct (east to west).



    On the second half of the walk we came aross a field with a row of trees grown a devon bank or remains of a wall, all braced against the wind. The weather was rather perfect for it, too.



    This turned out to be the last outing I did to Dartmoor proper, and I feel it was a good one to end up. Four months later I definitely miss it, even if its wind and moody weather wasn't always to my taste. Still, it's nice to know that if I do return to Dartmoor for a visit sometime, I'll have some favourite places to check in on, and plenty of happy memories to keep me going in the meantime.

    (Full photos: http://photos.nevira.net/2019-03-17-meldon-bridge/)


    Budapest

    Budapest has been on my travel radar for a while, though like most cities I struggle to find enough things to do to justify a trip. So when Emily pointed out there were a lot of escape rooms there (it has a claim to be the European origin of escape games) I was all in!

    We did sixteen games across three days and it was super fun, if a little exhausting by the end of it! The reviews for that are on my escape room reviews blog, so I won't go over them again here; they were an above average bunch with some especially memorable ones too. But we had time for sightseeing too!

    Budapest has the same sort of feeling as other eastern European cities I've visited, in particular Prague. The Buda side also has some nice tall hills to climb up to get a view of the city.



    We had a good walk along the hilltops of Buda, and across some of the bridges back to the Pest side. The funicular railway was out of fun that weekend (would have been a double-funicular month!), but we did get to ride the trams instead.

    Budapest also served us well in terms of snacks, including bubble tea and this utterly ridiculous "freakshake" from Mr Funk:



    More accurately, Emily and Tim shared that beast, while I just had a separate unicorn doughnut to myself because unicorn. We also had ice cream served in the shape of a rose petal, which was neat.







    A good trip!



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  • February 2019

    Thu, 11 Jul 2019 20:31:21 GMT


    In February, Emily, Tim, and I stayed on Lundy, in the most remote Landmark Trust property there, Tibbetts. Converted from a watch station, the building is still powered only by gas (including gas lighting, a novelty) and was quite an experience to stay in!

    Helicopter in, helicopter out

    In February the only visitors to the island are those staying in the Landmark Trust properties, so rather than a boat into the Bristol Channel, the only option is to go in by air; the 20 or so holidaymakers carted in on a few trips of a seven-seat helicopter. The take off and landing sites are both simple fields.

    While it's not the first time I've been in a Helicopter, the trips in and out were the first ones I've not been ill in, so that's a plus!

    Taking off from (or landing on?) Lundy near the island's church.



    1100 acres

    The National Trust logo at the sea port.


    Lundy is a long and thin island, and most of it border on the sea by cliff edge or extremely severe gradient, making for some beautiful walks. It really felt like Exmoor on an Island, which given we could see Exmoor off in the distance, isn't far from the truth.

    Exmoor visible from the coast


    The hills of Exmoor were still dusted with snow from the storm we'd driven hell-for-leather out of in Dartmoor, staying in a hastily-arranged hotel in Bideford overnight instead of driving up on the day. Given the number of abandoned cars we passed on the drive from Bideford to the heliport the next morning, it had been a wise decision.

    View of the village from the lighthouse.


    Aside from a small settlement at the south end of the island, and Tibbetts itself, Lundy is otherwise open space, and we had beautiful weather while we were there.


    Letterboxing

    Before Geocaching there was letterboxing; much the same idea except with directions rather than GPS coordinates. The Lundy Post Office sells the clue sheet for 26 letterboxes found on the island (plus 1 on the boat, if the boat is running). It turned out to be a really good way of exploring parts of the island we might otherwise have overlooked, including the remains of crashed WWII aircraft, wartime outposts, and schisms in the very island itself.

    Aeroplane remains


    Fault line


    Though the letterboxes are unrelated to post boxes, Lundy also has some postal trivia; despite being in the UK, it has its own stamps. It's traditional to leave one affixed to a self-addressed postcard in one of the letterboxes, and let the next person to find it post it back.





    Tibbetts

    You could see Tibbetts from most locations on the island (a useful feature for a signal and watch station). Since being built it has had a circular wall added around it to keep cattle from disturbing the residents, which gave it a distinctive silhouette.



    Cattle


    I'd taken my new tripod with me and we were lucky enough to get some clear sky at night, so I managed to get some lovely photos of the sky.



    Tibbetts also has a tradition for guests to run naked around the building (or, at least, all the other visitors were in on the same prank). While this isn't a group activity for me, I did sneak out early on the last morning to do so, lest I feel I missed out later.



    The full (curated) set of photos from my trip are here: http://photos.nevira.net/2019-02-lundy/

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