A Merry Victorian Christmas

A Victorian Christmas

A Victorian Christmas

A Movember to Remember
The competition in this year’s Movember contest was fierce and the judging was close, but I won by a hair and raised nearly $250 in the process. Thanks to all my family and friends who pledged on my behalf.

LEJOG preparation
With most of my map and route work complete (but to be closely reviewed in February) I’ve turned my attention to my family history research. I’ll have limited time to visit the cities and towns along the way so I need to make sure I’m properly prepared. I’ve made extensive use of Google Streetview to ascertain whether my ancestor’s homes are still standing so that I can avoid the disappointment of traipsing around streets only to discover that my great-parents mid-terrace home has been replaced by a Tesco’s. This tool has saved me a lot of time although I must admit I was still disappointed to discover that the Barnet Union Workhouse was torn down as recently as 2003 and replaced with a parking lot. My Great-great-great-grandfather, William Henry Clifford, died in the workhouse infirmary in 1914. From the photos on the workhouse website I would have thought that the buildings could have fulfilled some useful purpose?

Training Update
I completed another 17-mile plod out to the peninsula, this time wearing just about everything I will be carrying with me to England. The temperatures were hovering around the freezing mark but the snow held off and I pretty much had the trail to myself. I’ve decided to add a pair of light gloves to my packing list as I suspect the coastal path could be cool in April. The temps are now back to their normal daytime average (6C – 7C) but I already miss the cold, crisp and sunny week we enjoyed at the beginning of December.

It’s Wee and it’s XP

HP Mini

HP Mini Netbook

I realize many LEJOG’rs have blogged from their phones but as a touch-typist I can’t imagine maintaining this site using one finger, especially after a 20-mile walk and a couple of pints. The little HP Mini pictured above was purchased in November. It is undoubtedly a luxury item, at 1 kg it accounts for 10% of my overall pack weight, but I think it will earn its keep, and it cost me next to nothing … only $199 (shipping included)!

The HP Mini is your bog-standard Windows XP netbook and this particular model was state-of-the-art about a year ago. It has an 8.9″ screen, 1.6MHz Atom N270 processor, 1GB of RAM, a 16GB solid-state drive and wireless connectivity. It includes a bunch of software, most of which I’ve uninstalled and replaced with lightweight portable apps. Most of the time I’ll be surfing or emailing but I have installed Family Tree Maker 2010 so that I can look up details on my 600+ ancestors when I don’t have access to Ancestry.com. Google Chrome is my browser of choice because it’s lightweight and supports Google Gears. The new mobile version of Where’s the Path uses Gears to display OS maps when you don’t have an internet connection (which is what I’m doing in the photo above). The trick is to access the maps when you have connectivity so that WTP can cache them for offline use at a later date. I haven’t done extensive tests but what I’ve tested so far has worked. I’m using paper maps for my LEJOG but as you can see low cost electronic maps, with or without connectivity, are a reality.

The last bit of kit
I just purchased a replacement for my 6-year old digital camera. After much deliberating I chose a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZR1, a compact digital weighing in at just 150 grams. My old Canon Powershot was a great camera but it was three times the size, weighed 500 grams and drained 4 “AA” batteries at an alarming rate. The 12 mega-pixel Panny has a 25mm-200mm optical zoom, is solidly built and has a very intuitive menu system. The battery life is fantastic and the tiny battery charger weighs only 50 grams.

The reviews from the experts are very positive, the one criticism being poor picture quality in low-light conditions (ISO 800 or greater). I found this to be true if you are indoors and not using a flash on a poorly lit subject, however the photo above was taken without a flash and looks pretty good to me. I plan to use the camera outdoors most of the time and so I’m not too worried. I’m really looking forward to taking advantage of the wide-angle lens.

A Capital Idea
I decided to test the camera out by being a “tourist in your own town” and managed to complete a 10-mile walk in the process. It was a rather dull day and by 3pm the light was fading fast but this ensured I would test the camera in very poor light (and with the flash turned off). Overall I’m very pleased with the results and I hope you enjoy the images of BC’s capital city (the gallery is in the post below). Victoria is a youngster compared to towns and cities in the UK but she does have one of the finest collections of heritage buildings in North America. These days Vancouver, our younger sibling, likes to flash it around a bit but in the 19th century Victoria was Queen City of the Golden West, second only to San Francisco on the west coast. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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