20 GOTO 10

Oh, I need to explore this! The BBC have published a whole load of content from the Computer Literacy Project of the 1980s and just looking through the listings is like a time capsule to my childhood. It was this project that created the BBC Micro and put them in all the schools where kids like me found we knew how to use them better than the teachers and took control of them. And now we run websites and internet companies and digital all-sorts, and this is where it all began. Thank you Computer Literacy Project!

So far I’ve got halfway through the first episode of Making the Most of the Micro which I remember being glued to when it was broadcast in 1983. I distinctly remember the first feature on a man with cerebral palsy who used a head pointer to write on his word processor. What I didn’t remember was that he actually spent a year writing his own word processor software, in BBC Basic, that would be simpler for him to use than an off-the-shelf program (he wanted to use shortcodes for common words) or that he’d used it to write his PhD thesis. What a star! His name was Richard Gomm and watching this again made me wonder what he had done since then, but searching for him only sent me on a loop back to the 1980s.  [Edited to add: I found his brother Mike Gomm is still involved with special needs technology, and mentions Richard in the past tense.]

You can also run lots of the code used in the programme on a BBC emulator, but for the full 1983 experience of getting your new computer to work (or playing with the ones in WHSmith (was it really? Or Dixons maybe?) on a Saturday afternoon) I recommend just this 😀

(You’ll have to imagine the flickeriness of the aerial connection to a portable TV, I never had a monitor that fancy.)

[found via feeling listless]

Old Kent Road to Mayfair

Even though I visited London plenty as a child, and later lived there, the London of the Monopoly board still somehow forms part of my map of the city. And it makes no bloody sense. This map has a few things wrong with it (also pointed out on the reddit thread where I found it. The orange properties (which make the least sense of any of the groupings) are definitely in the wrong places. I always thought that 'Marlborough Street' had to be 'Great Marlborough Street'. I went looking for a better map and found this Google Maps plot that looks a bit better.
This article in the Londonist also points out that there's technically not a Bond Street, only New or Old ones, and the coaching inn called The Angel at Islington that the game used isn't there anymore though there's apparently a branch of Wetherspoons under that name now (which somehow surprises me not a jot).

And now I've discovered someone has written a whole book on this kind of tangent: Do Not Pass Go by Tim Moore..

Tynemouth Lido

The Guardian have a nice feature on lidos today – I like that they concentrated on the lesser known ones rather than the famous ones – but it wasn’t the ones mentioned in the article that caught my eye. Hidden away in the comments I found out that there are moves underway to get the open air pool at Tynemouth restored.

Tynemouth Metro


When I moved to Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1994 I was delighted to find that the metro would take me to the seaside and Tynemouth quickly became my go-to place for any day out. Rain or shine, it’s always good to be beside the sea. I slowly gravitated towards the sea and Tynemouth ended up being the last place I lived in the area before I moved south from Tyneside again.


The derelict looking outdoor pool was always an eyesore, even though it couldn’t have been long filled in when I first knew it. Any visitors would always comment on what a pity it was that it was abandoned and I’d have to point out the signboards that claimed it was being redeveloped as a haven for marine wildlife. I’m no expert on the subject but it never seemed to show much sign of wildlife. It just looked like some hooligans came along and threw rocks at random. And though we could see why, in the absence of upkeep, it had been necessary to fill the pool in, it always seemed a pity we couldn’t stop for a picnic where the bathers used to lie.


In my imagination it always looked like the old LNER railway advertisements. Perhaps my imagination is an odd place, but I hope one day I can wander along from the metro station with my parasol and take a dip beside the sea.

A New Dawn

Back at the tail end of the twentieth century I started this website as a place to keep track of all the little things I found on the internet every day, and the site gradually became a weblog (which then contracted to ‘blog’) and the archive of those little things gradually came to be something that was more than the sum of its parts to me. A trail of small pieces that told me about myself as much as it told anyone else anything.

Then things got busy for a while – business got bigger, my daughter came along – and while I was distracted the world moved away from blogs and seemed to move mostly onto Facebook. Which has never really been my thing. I like hearing what people I know are up to but even when you know no one is really paying attention saying anything on that site still feels like standing up in front of the room and showing off, so I end up keeping quiet there, sitting in the corner of the room and watching but never dancing. But I like dancing. My internet activity spread out to little bits of things across a range of different sites and I reconfigured this site to mostly be a consolidation of all those bits.

And gradually all the bits fell over as I never looked here any more either. But I miss what I used to do here and I’m forever finding myself looking at some interesting morsel of the internet and wanting to share it, to save it for my future self to stumble over. So I plan to do so again. I miss the internet I used to have, but I can still make this little corner like the internet I want it to be. I’m messing with wordpress and I’ll get the goodreads reviews working here again soon, and the photos synced, and I’ll add those other snippets I enjoy in between.

Foot Drawn Map

Here’s a map of Holmfirth. I’ve taken the roads off and added in everywhere I have walked and cycled [1] in the last couple of years instead.

Walking is green, cycling is blue. I tend to get bored with cycling round here as I’m not strong enough to get up the hills and we only have (relatively) flat roads along the valleys.

I try and seek out all the different paths to walk though, I don’t like to go exactly the same route again if I can think of another. I made the map in order to figure out where I haven’t walked yet. I still have a few paths to find.

Making the map made me think of Matt at I’m Just Walkin’ who is currently 5176 miles into a walk of every street in New York City. I’m not quite in that league! Most of this is just walking the long way back from dropping Miranda at school, or getting some fresh air in at the weekend.

[1] I deleted a handful of gps tracks because of clunky mapping that made in look like I’d wandered in straight lines everywhere. I’m not a crow. (And I believe they don’t fly in straight lines either.)

Bench View

I walked up the hill in the fog one day and took a picture of a bench looking out across a cloud bank. It just amused me.

Nice View II

Then I thought I ought to take a picture where you could see the view. And then I ended up taking a picture every time I walked past. You can see them all in a set on Flickr. This one proves we do occasionally get out of the clouds and into the sunshine:


And this is a recent one, with me in it, when my mum was with me to take the photo:

Bench with Me

And this is what goes through my head when I’m sitting up there:

It’s the view from Google Earth of all the walks I’ve taken around here in the last couple of years with my phone tracking them. About as close as I can get to the view inside my head really.

Holiday in France

Another map created from data captured by Moves on my iPhone. This tracks our entire holiday in France last summer. I’m sure I made a map of our cycle rides on Île de Ré too but I can’t find it now.

Walking in Prague

I love maps, and tracking; and ambient tracking where you forget about the fact that you are being tracked until later is great. This is the map of everywhere we walked in Prague on a break last October. Data tracked with Moves, I can’t remember the service I used to draw the map and it seems to have vanished since.

We stayed in a hotel at the southern tip of all those red lines which show where we walked. The grey lines heading off from there to the west are the taxis to and from the airport. There’s also a grey line going up northwards where we caught a tram one morning.

No doubt we missed lots of things! But we enjoyed what we saw.

“1 hour skirt *”

I find I’m pulled in two different directions when it comes to dressmaking. Part of me wants to have a fabulous high quality wardrobe full of items with linings, pockets and fancy finishes that you just don’t find in ready made clothes – even the expensive ones. Another part of me wants to be the sort of person who can look at a bolt of cotton and be wearing a thrown together outfit the next day. At the moment I seem to have lots of “nearly finished” knitting and sewing projects so if I was going to start something new I thought it had better be something quick and easy, something from the second category.

I picked up a length of cheap cotton to go with a copy of McCalls 5430 that I already had. The pattern claims to be a “1 hour skirt *”. Nowhere on the pattern envelope did it explain the asterisk. (It does say on the website that it is “sewing machine time only” which is what I would have guessed.)

I started cutting out the pattern, view C with pockets, at 9:50am. Half an hour later I had my paper pattern pieces. Then I attacked the fabric and it took another hour just to get the fabric pieces cut out. I stopped for a coffee before spending another 15 minutes or so cutting out and attaching the iron on interfacing. So far this feels like much the same time I would have spent on a normal non-1 hour pattern.

Finally I get to the sewing machine, just before midday. I made one small mistake that required a bit of seam ripping. I stopped for a lunch break but only for twenty minutes or so. I finally had the skirt ready to wear at about quarter past three. So a total of three hours sewing time, not one. That’s before you count the hour and a half of cutting to begin with.

Apart from not having a zip to insert I can’t really see why this is supposed to be a super simple pattern, I’m not really sure where I could have gone faster. I could certainly make another skirt from the same pattern a little more speedily now I’ve understood all the instructions but not that much faster. Being a wrap skirt there are long ties and acres of waistband to contend with as well as buttonholes to make and buttons to sew on.

I do like the finished item, it doesn’t feel especially cheap & quick. (Darren did comment maybe they meant the skirt would only last an hour…) I’d make it again in a slightly heavier fabric such as a quilting cotton to be less flyaway. I’ll have to time myself making a ‘normal’ skirt to figure out whether that is indeed much slower or whether I’m just a super slow seamstress!

New Skirt

I Promise

When I made my Brownie promise as a 7 year old in 1979 I didn’t think twice about promising to “do my duty to God”, I remember being a bit concerned about the “serve the Queen” bit though. The Brownie handbook did a decent job of explaining that “serve the Queen” was shorthand for looking after the country around you and the people in it which seemed reasonable enough so I got over that. As the years went by and I made the same promise as I stayed in the Guide movement as a Guide, Ranger and Young Leader I got a bit more dubious about the “duty to God” part and by the time I left, a decade after I joined the Brownies, I would have described myself as agnostic. The process of changing from a child who accepted whatever religion she was given to a questioning adolescent was ironically accelerated by helping out as a Young Leader at a Brownie pack attached to a Roman Catholic church where the nonsense of different varieties of religion thing became increasingly clear to me.

Fast forward another twenty-something years and I find myself back looking at the Guide and Scout movements from a different perspective. As the atheist mother of a child being raised as a atheist who would like that child to have the benefits of those organisations but who knows the child would baulk at promising anything to do with God even if it were explained to not necessarily mean a religious Churchy version of God (neither Guides nor Scouts have ever been Christian organisations as far as I am aware, I knew that Guides encompassed all sorts of religions when I had my “Brownies around the world” posters as a child). Making promises you need to weasel your way round to fit yourself helps no one. So when the Guides openly asked for opinions on changing their promise earlier this year I was pleased to tell them what I thought, from both child and parent points of view (along with 44 000 others).

So I am really pleased to see the announcement of the latest revision of the Guide promise which includes the wording “To be true to myself and develop my beliefs”. It’s great to see that they have picked one promise for all that can be discussed and interpreted how you choose and ‘develop’ allows girls to change as they grow older; I certainly didn’t have the same beliefs at 7 and 17.

I entirely agree with Gail Edmans writing in The Independent that Guides have never been about religion. For me they were all about being outside with friends, camping, lighting fires, toasting marshmallows, tying knots, learning new stuff about the world, other people and myself. The Promise was one of the things that made the Guides special, it wasn’t just any old youth club, there was commitment involved, there was opportunity to think about things as well as do stuff. I’m pleased that the Guides are still thinking and still changing and still helping girls make the most of themselves.

I should probably add that my eight year old daughter is more interested in joining the Scouts at the moment… come on “boys”, catch up.