Wednesday, June 30

Newlands Alert!

In July Grainger will be showing off their latest plans for the Newlands West of Waterlooville MDA housing development, they are asking for opinions from the public.

Times and Place:

Waterlooville Community Centre
Friday 9th July, 1.30pm - 7.30pm
Saturday 10th July, 10am - 3pm

The focus will be on Phase 1 and the details of the design of this phase.

Tuesday, June 22

A visit to Fort Nelson

Due to the excellent weather this month, I decided to cycle from Waterlooville to The Royal Armouries Museum on top of Portsdown Hill. The museum is in Fort Nelson one of a string of forts built in the 1860s to defend against a potential French invasion.

Interestingly the attack on Portsmouth was expected to come from inland so the main defences of all the forts was on the land side, in the case of Fort Nelson pointing towards the North. The weaker defences are on the South side of the forts and these are visible from Portsmouth.

The route I took wasn't exactly the most direct, but it was probably the easiest to do without much thinking. I simply took the London Road up to Widley then took the route along James Callaghan Drive and Portsdown Hill Road. Quite a lot of gentle uphill work there, but nearly all downhill back!
In fact on the way back from the Widley Junction to Purbrook you can pick up a lot of speed.

The cycle/bus lanes are great for cyclists, road traffic is kept well away from you. The round trip was about 12 miles.

Near the fort is the Nelson Monument. This was finished in 1808, three years after the battle of Trafalgar and the death of Nelson.

Of course the fort was named Fort Nelson because of proximity to the monument. Many people don't even know the monument exists and even if they had seen it, wouldn't know why it was there.

This is the view of the fort near the main entrance. Behind the redan wall would be the officers quarters. Note the lower floor has sash windows, whilst the upper floor has positions for guns.

Each gun would be flanked either side by riflemen who would fire at attackers whilst the main gun was being reloaded.

Also remember this is the weaker side of the defences and it wasn't expected that an attack would come from this direction.

This is one of the North facing defences, effectively the main defences. Attackers would have to come down the ramparts into the dry ditch and would be faced by a huge thick wall.

I took the photo standing on top of one of the caponiers, below would be gun positions ready to fire along the length of the wall. Every wall has similar guns trained along them so there would have been no where for an attacker to hide. Also the design was such that no defender could shoot their own men.

These are the defensive mortar positions They are well protected behind the walls under a lot of earthworks held up by the brickwork and arches seen here. The light in front of the mortars shows where the gap in the roof is and where they would fire out. Up on top brave officers would see where the enemy were and call out instructions to adjust the trajectories of the mortars.

The mortars would drop their balls or bombs onto the enemy in the fields beyond the fort ramparts.

This is above the mortars shown in the previous photo. The brick work in the grass is actually the gap out of which the mortars would fire out.

The position I took this photo is where officers would be monitoring the enemy positions and giving instructions to the mortar crews.

I like this photo because the mortar looks really tiny and the Nelson Monument can be seen in the distance. Because I took the photo near the ground and there are no people near by, the mortar looks quite close to the camera and about knee high.

The reality is the mortar is huge, each of the balls in that stack is waist high!  It's a bit like the Father Ted scene, 'These are very small, those are far away...'.

It is called Mallets Mortar and is located at the front of the museum.

There is a lot to see at the fort, if you are really interested in armaments then you'll need 3 to 5 hours to take it all in. I also recommend the guided tour, even if you do know your stuff.
I haven't shown here the galleries with every conceivable artillery piece you could imagine, I haven't shown the mock ups of the fort kitchen, and officers quarters, I haven't shown the tunnels and magazines and I haven't shown the 20th century weapons that are on display.

For more info visit the Museum site or the Palmerston Forts Society which also has a detailed photo tour of the fort.

Monday, June 21

Panorama of Portsmouth

I recently cycled to Fort Nelson on Portsdown Hill and will post about that later. Whilst on the hill I took a series of photos with my really cruddy digital camera with the idea of creating a panorama of Portsmouth. I came across some brilliant Open Source software called Hugin that managed to transform my cruddy photos into this amazing picture:

If you saw how bad the original series of photos were, you would realise how good Hugin is. I think I will be using it more in the future. It works on the basis of finding a number of control points in each picture, then manipulates the images to line up similar control points. It even compensates different exposures, colour etc.
There are also a lot of settings that can be changed to manipulate the type of view.
Click on the photo to see a bigger version.

Friday, June 18

Fishing tackle

For fans of fishing. Coopers Fishing Tackle shop has opened up in Mill Road, Waterlooville.

Wednesday, June 16

Waterlooville Poundland

I think it is obvious to everyone now that the old Woolworths premises will be used by Poundland.
The comments at The News sums up many peoples thoughts... 'Oh no, not another shop full of...'

But it made me think. How do they maintain prices at or below £1?

Here's my thoughts about how a 'pound' shop might keep £1 prices in 50 to 100 years from now:

1. Inflation goes up, prices go up, they sell progressively different products, always keeping them within £1. Eventually in 50 years or so, the only thing they can sell is single rubber bands, a single chewy sweet, a thimble full of shampoo etc for a £1 each.

2. They sell the same or similar products as today over the same timescale as scenario 1 and inflation in the UK goes up. They need to find progressively cheaper labour in foreign countries, exploit the cheapest resources etc. so eventually their suppliers set up factories in the middle of the Amazon Rain forest and employ the children from local tribes.

3. They manage to turn the UK into a communist dictatorship which sets £1 prices on all the products forever.

4. They manipulate the markets so that inflation remains stationary or we have deflation. Not much different to 3 really, since they would need enormous influence.

New Blogger features

Those of you that are blogger users may have noticed some new features (long over due).

There is a new flexible template feature, which includes more control over how a template works. I'm un-decided yet whether to use this. I think if I had known a few weeks ago, I would have used it, but now I have changed the template, I'll probably keep the current one, at least for a while.

A more interesting feature is the addition of stand alone pages. This has been available in Wordpress for a long time and Blogger have been slow to do the same. This is something I will be using, so the blog will change in the coming months. One obvious use will be to put the walk to Waterlooville map on its own page.

Tuesday, June 15

Windmill Biscwits

Having bought some flour at Bursledon windmill I decided to have a go at making some biscuits. I found a recipe for digestive biscuits and got the ingredients together:

Wholemeal flour
Porridge oats
Baking powder

See recipe link for amounts and directions.
I used organic milk, butter, porridge oats and sugar.

Here are all the ingredients mixed up, excluding the milk. I just used my hands, that was fun. Haven't done that since helping my mother or grandmother in the kitchen.

This is where it went a bit pear shaped.
I added far to much milk, at first it looked OK but then puddles of milk appeared. Anyway it was all or nothing now, so no turning back.

When cutting out the shapes, the mixture was far to soggy. When I did the second batch I abandoned rolling/cutting and just grabbed some mixture, made it into a ball then flattened it.

First batch finished, turned out quite well.

Tea and biscuits. Actually they are more like wholemeal soft cookies. But very tasty, the amount of sugar was just right.

I think less milk and a thinner/flatter amount of mixture per biscuit would give a thinner crisp biscuit.
Or maybe a different recipe?

Monday, June 14

Wind Week...

It is totally coincidental that the week I publish a story about a windmill, it happens to be Wind Week!

The nearest wind turbine to Waterlooville and opening for public viewing this week is at Greenpark nr Reading and is owned by Ecotricity. Open this Sunday at 11.00 am.

Wind Week 2010

Sunday, June 13

A Sunday trip to Bursledon Windmill


I recently discovered that we actually have a working windmill in Hampshire. Located at Bursledon, between Eastleigh and Southampton. It was originally built between 1813 and 1814, coincidently finished 1 year before the battle of Waterloo!

On Sundays the museum is open and the windmill is 'fired up' so the sails are made to turn the workings. During the week staff actually grind flour using the windmill and pack it up into bags for sale to visitors. So in this respect it is a real working windmill and museum.

The journey there

I used public transport to get to the museum, not always the best option on a Sunday! This actually turned into an unintentional adventure in its own right, since there were rail works between Fareham and Southampton.

Anyway, I first walked to Waterlooville town centre and took a bus to Cosham. Didn't plan that to well because I missed the train at Cosham by seconds and had to wait an hour for the next train. So at Cosham I went to a cafe, had a cup of tea and then watched some pensioners playing bowls at the local green.

It gets worse though. Once on the train at Cosham, I didn't know about the rail works and instead of getting off at Fareham to transfer to a replacement bus service, I ended up in Southampton. By now I was getting used to the idea of an adventure!

So I got the replacement bus service at Southampton back to Bursledon, this wasn't all bad because the bus passed through some interesting areas of Southampton which brought back some family memories.

Phew. All this just to go and see a windmill. At Bursledon it's about a 1 mile walk from Bursledon station to the windmill, on the way there, I noticed a pub, The Crows Nest (more about that later). In my opinion, the travel issues were not a problem, if you set out with the idea of an adventure, then you start working out ways to fill in the delays with other activities.

Bursledon Windmill

Having got to the windmill, seeing the sails turn in the wind made the journey worthwhile. I have seen windmills and watermills before, but I have never seen a working windmill before. I managed to take some video on a small camera whilst there, which I put together into a compilation (this is the first time I have uploaded a video to Blogger, I hope it is OK):

BTW, some of the noise in the outside shots of the video are actually the camera. Despite being solid state electronics (no tapes), it still managed to make an electronic whirring noise.

The staff at the windmill were very informative and I really enjoyed chatting to them. Apparently since the windmill was built, woods and buildings now surround the windmill, however they still can catch Southerly and Northerly winds, which luckily are the main winds in the area.

The sails are pointed in the correct direction by hand, using a chain that turns some gears at the top of the windmill. The sails are fixed pitch, unlike modern wind turbines that have variable pitch blades. This means the amount of sail has to be adjusted depending on the strength of the wind.

Also the windmill could drive up to 3 stones at once, so I guess originally the number of stones could be changed depending on the strength of wind. As well as the windmill, there is an old barn building which houses a small shop, and other facilities. You can watch a video that explains how the mill works and even mill some samples of flour using small stones of different historical periods.

Outside there is a small pond (with Dragonflies) and a granary stood up on some staddle stones. Staddle stones are an old method of keeping rats and mice out of the granary.


Personally I think the windmill is a great place to visit. At the museum shop you can buy three grades of strong wholemeal stoneground flour produced at the mill. I bought a 1.5 kg bag of medium flour (the others were fine and coarse) for £1.50, which I thought was a good price considering it was made by a windmill.

I hope to make some biscuits or bread with it. Never done either before, so that should be fun. What must be remembered is that when the windmill was built it was an industrial building, and was a place of work. We think of windmills as being quaint today but that was not the case when there were thousands of windmills and watermills dotted around the country in the 1700s and 1800s.

On the way back, I realised I had another hour wait for the replacement bus service back to Fareham rail station. So decided to have a beer and meal in The Crows Nest!

Link to Bursledon Windmill web pages

Monday, June 7

Summer of Cycling 2010

There are a lot of cycling events across Hampshire this summer.

Some events include:

Big Bike Celebration - June, Eastleigh
Cycle Cavalcade - June, Southampton and Winchester
Introductory off road cycle - June, Winchester
Urban Rides Southampton - June, Southampton
Portsmouth Bike2Work day - June, Portsmouth
Back to Biking for Adults - June, Winchester
Cut Throats and Cut Thru's - June, Portsmouth
New Forest On and Off Shore - August, Lymington

For details of these events and rides and many others, go to the Summer Cycling 2010 web site.

Water and Music Festivals in 2010

I think anyone living near Waterlooville knows about the 2010 Waterlooville Music Festival, because of all the banners around town, so won't need reminding. However those that live some distance away might not know, so if you don't know, you will once you have read this.

The festival is from 12th June to 20th June.
More details on the Music Festival web site.

Also next month there is the Hampshire Water Festival over at Staunton Park. It's a 'green fair' that is very light green and the councillors don't like calling it 'environmental' because apparently it will frighten Mr and Mrs Carbon away!

But anyway Friends of the Earth will be there, as will other less 'active' organisations, such as Portsmouth Water, who will be flooding the area soon to make a reservoir.

The Water Festival is on 24th and 25th July.
More info at the Water Festival web site.

Saturday, June 5

Quantum Physics, electron clouds etc.

This week I finally got my head around waves and particles, mainly the visualisation of electrons and atoms. Over the last 20 or so years, I have read a number of popular books about quantum physics and particles and vaguely understood the concept of the wave being a graphical representation of the probability of finding a particle in a location. But I could never really visualise this in 3 dimensions or how a wave could be constricted in a three dimensional space.

When I was a teenager we were taught the old school orbiting electrons idea of an atom, which frankly was never really satisfactory and was purely an attempt at visualising something scientists didn't really fully understand. At the time I don't think I was really interested in abstract concepts of atoms etc. Higher level implementations of physics were of more interest, eg. digital electronics.

I think the modern models of electron clouds based on wave functions (spherical harmonics) around an atom are far more beautiful, even if they are extremely complex once you go beyond the hydrogen atom.
Harmonics are interesting things and adding two dimensional wave forms together can give some interesting shapes, so it should be of no surprise that electrons of an atom would create some interesting three dimensional shapes, depending on energy levels/frequency and the number of electrons involved.

One has to always remember though that the shapes are just zones in which an electron is likely to be found, at any point in time it would be detected at a single point in one of the lobes/nodes created by the wave functions.

The maths are beyond me, although it does look familiar. I think that is enough for one week on that subject! I'm just glad that it makes sense to me now. Or does it...

If you want to play around with spherical harmonics, Wolfram Mathematica have a player that can be downloaded, plus if you also download one of the spherical harmonics demonstrations on the site, you can play around with electrons and see what shapes it creates.

Thursday, June 3


Looks like the Coastliner700 bus service is being improved. This is the service that runs from Portsmouth to Brighton and is very popular. Apparently the number of passengers has doubled in the last 5 years, as a result,  from the 6th June the frequency of the service is changing from a bus every 30 minutes to a bus every 15 minutes.
That is quite impressive! The last time I remember such an upgrade in services must have been in the days of nationalised buses. The bus service has its own web site and 21 new low emission doubledecker buses are now being used along the route.

There is also a Coastliner700 booklet that can be picked up from bus stations and other places which include discounts to various attractions if you have a Stagecoach bus ticket that takes you to the attraction. The discounted attractions include Fishbourne Roman Palace, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and Weald & Downland Museum. The discounts are also available by downloading vouchers from the bus service web site.

Tuesday, June 1

Blog Housekeeping

I got a bit fed up with the old blog template, mainly because of it's restricted width. So decided to change to a wider template and make a few adjustments. Over the coming weeks i'll modify the CSS and adjust a few things so it looks a bit better.

With the new template I should be able to post some larger photos and videos.

Added: grrrrr, just noticed the new template has stopped my 'walk to waterlooville' map API from working!  Another thing to fix. Ahh, of course all the bits of javascript I had, need replacing in the new template!

Love Your Bike video

Video of the Love Your Bike event last Sunday. I think it was filmed after I had left, it's a lot busier in the video than when I was there. At the beginning the bike harp is being played. I missed the bike hockey!