Day 166 Mile 166: Through the Dunes

20170615_181017Day 166 Mile 166: Through the Dunes. Today finds me at the back of Conwy Morfa. It is a beautiful place comprising of sand dunes rolling down from the mountains to meet the sea. Today it is rather windy and the sand comes at you like a thousand miniature electric shocks rolling in waves across exposed skin: making sun glasses essential attire just to be able to see where you are going. Running out, I was joined by a trio of Wagtails pitching and yawing against the wind, which made running feel like the act of being in a dream and no matter how hard you tried you never quite mad any headway. Turning back around felt like flying though!

I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.

Distance: 1659.2 meters recorded

(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)

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Thanks as ever for all the support!

Ed

Day 165 Mile 165: A Mile with a Different Difference Engine

cover1Day 165 Mile 165: A Mile with a Different Difference Engine. 195 years ago today Charles Babbage proposed the Difference Engine to the Royal Astronomical Society in a paper entitled “Note on the application of machinery to the computation of astronomical and mathematical tables”, thus bringing the computer to the world.

It would be quite a trek to go for a run around the Royal Astronomical Society after work today, or indeed the Science Museum in London where several of Babbage’s machines and plans still reside however I can get to a close second.

In 1805 a French engineer named Jacquard invented means for automating the weaving process. He passed a chain of cards, with holes punched in them, in front of a mechanism. The mechanism reached through wherever a hole let it, and picked up a thread. The Jacquard loom principle in textile mills ever since.

cloth loomIn 1820 a wool mill was built in Trefriw, powered by a set of water wheels, processing, weaving and spinning the wool from the surrounding farms. This was then exported up the river Conwy to the coast and out to the world. A large part of the weaving work was done by a loom fitted with a ‘Jacquard machine’. The key operating principal behind this is transmitting a binary sequence of on-off commands, in a very real sense laying the groundwork for our digital age in the heart of the industrial revolution.

‘Wool blanket in red and grey jacquard weave. The centrepiece features the original university building at the University of Wales Aberystwyth (known as the ‘Old College’) and Caernarfon Castle. The words ‘Cymru Fydd’ (Future Wales) and ‘Cymru Fu’ (Wales Past) appear alongside these images. The border is decorated with Welsh dragons, daffodils and leeks. The original was made at Trefriw Woollen Mills, Caernarfonshire, and was presented to the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) in 1876. Numerous copies (such as the quilt featured here) were subsequently made on a Jacquard loom at the same mill and are still being made to this day.’ Courtesy of Ceredigion Museum

Two years later, in 1822 Babbage conceived a machine that could be told how to carry out a sequence of calculations, programmed by cards working in a binary fashion directly inspired by Jacquard’s weaving machine.

The Difference Engine is an automatic mechanical calculator designed to tabulate polynomial functions. The name derives from the method of divided differences, a way to interpolate or tabulate functions by using a small set of polynomial coefficients. Most mathematical functions commonly used by engineers, scientists and navigators, including logarithmic and trigonometric functions, can be approximated by polynomials, so a difference engine can compute many useful tables of numbers. It was a huge landmark in the early development of computing and set out concepts in programming and hardware architecture that are still in use to this day. The fact that you are reading this is (in part at least) directly attributable to the difference engine and the loom.

difference

An old photo of mine of Babbage’s Difference Engine in the Science Museum (London). 

So today’s run takes a figure of 8 loop around the leafy, mountain village of Trefriw focusing on the Mill at the center. It’s a great little rural run, if somewhat warm and hilly! Highlights include some a really steep hill, both up and down, and the sight of a lady walking two snappy Jack Russel terriers by striding two paces ahead of them with a pair of bright orange tennis balls in a clear plastic bag swung by her side which acted as the perfect lure for her canine charges!

I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.

Distance: 1676.6 meters recorded

(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)

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Thanks as ever for all the support!

Ed
Today’s earworm…

 

Day 164 Mile 164: Prehistoric Forest

Day 164 Mile 164: Prehistoric Forest. Rhyl is renowned for many things, not particularly for its woodland, but, on the sea shore there are the remains of a prehistoric forest, which can sometimes be visible though the sand when the tides are right. As I happened to be working near the area this afternoon I thought I would go and see if I could find them!

The stumps are rooted in peat levels below the marine sand, and have been preserved by continuous waterlogged conditions since the trees grew, believed to be 6,000 years ago or more.

rhyl-forest

Although observed and commented upon through the centuries, including by Gerald of Wales in 1188 and Samuel Pepys in 1665 no serious study of submerged forests was made, before their true nature was understood, they were believed to be the result of the biblical flood and were referred to as ‘Noah’s Trees’. In 1893, hundreds of people visited the beach to witness the remains of the submerged forest, after it had been revealed by the tide for the first time in 80 years.

This account is from the North Wales Chronicle, February 11th, 1893:

The action of the tide at Rhyl within the last few days has disclosed the singular sight of an ancient forest, which, for a period of eighty years has been completely covered by the sea.  The scoured portion of the beach where the remarkable sight is presented is situated opposite the Marine Drive, about a mile east of the pier.  The town surveyor Mr. R. Hughes has made an accurate plan of the place, which shows about thirty trees rooted as they grew, whilst there are a number of horizontal trunks which appear to rest as they fell.  Several of the trees have been proved to be of oak and elm, and the remainder appeared to be birch, alder and hazel.  The stumps vary in diameter from 12 to 24 inches, and are situated about 100 yards from the edge of the sandhills and are covered during high spring tides by about 10 feet of water.  The scoured portion in the sands, which exposes these old roots, extends for about 550 yards in length and varies in width from 7 to 35 yards.  Folk lore asserts that this is part of an old forest, the portion in question being known as “Coed Mawr y Rhyl”.

So with a low tide at around tea time I tried my luck to see if I could find them… Sadly the tide was to high but it was good fun trying and an ice-cream on the seafront can help out with almost any disappointment

rhyl-forest-41

 

Photos courtesy of Rhyl History Club

I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.

Distance: 1926.6 meters recorded

(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)

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Thanks as ever for all the support!

Ed

Day 163 Mile 163: Pooh Sticks and Trolls before Toad in the Hole

Day 163 Mile 163: Pooh Sticks and Trolls before Toad in the Hole. Today’s run takes place on the way home from work before dinner. Having been very busy yesterday there was no opportunity for a sit down Sunday meal (other than the fantastic nibbles of barbecue and tortillas at a friend’s house), so the run for this evening is very much tucked in before reaching home and the effects of a suitably soporific portion of Toad in the Hole take over!
A friend of mine recently inquired about bridges around here around here which may be suitable for playing Pooh Sticks and the bridge which marks the start and end point of today’s run came to mind. For those unaware as to what on earth Pooh Sticks is, here is the passage from the original text of Winnie the Pooh.

He had just come to the bridge; and not looking where he was going, he tripped over something, and the fir-cone jerked out of his paw into the river.

“Bother,” said Pooh, as it floated slowly under the bridge, and he went back to get another fir-cone which had a rhyme to it. But then he thought that he would just look at the river instead, because it was a peaceful sort of day, so he lay down and looked at it, and it slipped slowly away beneath him… and suddenly, there was his fir-cone slipping away too.

“That’s funny,” said Pooh. “I dropped it on the other side,” said Pooh, “and it came out on this side! I wonder if it would do it again?” And he went back for some more fir-cones.

It did. It kept on doing it. Then he dropped two in at once, and leant over the bridge to see which of them would come out first; and one of them did; but as they were both the same size, he didn’t know if it was the one which he wanted to win, or the other one. So the next time he dropped one big one and one little one, and the big one came out first, which was what he had said it would do, and the little one came out last, which was what he had said it would do, so he had won twice… and when he went home for tea, he had won thirty-six and lost twenty-eight, which meant that he was- that he had-well, you take twenty-eight from thirty-six, and that’s what he was. Instead of the other way round.

And that was the beginning of the game called Poohsticks, which Pooh invented, and which he and his friends used to play on the edge of the Forest. But they played with sticks instead of fir-cones, because they were easier to mark.

It also just so happens that my daughter and I once pretended that a troll lived under the bridge, which given the rural and mountainous nature of its surroundings feels highly probable.

All in all it made for a great little post-work/pre-supper jaunt with some happy thoughts and memories thrown in too. Its a shame the river is too low at the moment but that’s summer I suppose. The fact that it facilitates a title which may well cause massive confusion for overseas readers sort of adds to the fun 🙂

I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.

Distance: 1609.9 meters recorded

(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)

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Thanks as ever for all the support!

Ed

Day 162 Mile 162: Hedgerow Navigation

20170611_113223Day 162 Mile 162: Hedgerow Navigation. One of the really great things about trying to run everyday is that eventually it forces you to explore new places and seek out new corners in those which are familiar.

Today turned out to be one of those. With a busy day ahead I ended up going for a run while in the process of giving a lift to work. As a result I found myself at the back of Llandudno’s Bodafon Farm and rather than take the obvious iconic route along the sea front I tried the lanes that wind along the limstone outcrops that form the hill behind.

Within about half a minute I noticed a sign for a footpath across the fields to my left, and took it on a whim with no real idea where it lead.

From there I ran across the fields, stopping to allow a white haired elderly lady across the style ahead of me. Happily declaring that she was just a bit unstable on her feet and not drunk, which raised all sorts of previously unconsidered suspicions on my part!

From there the path turned into a narrow hedgerowed cycle track moving up hill at an angle which felt roughly 90 degrees away from where I started.

It’s great to just follow your nose and explore.

Eventually the cycle path met a road which looked like it ran roughly back towards the farm and my car. It turns out that this hunch was correct and afforded a fantastic view out over the fields to the Great Orme and the sea.

It turns out that getting almost lost on purpose has a lot to commend it!

20170611_114233-01

I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.

Distance: 1617.5 meters recorded

(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)

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Thanks as ever for all the support!

Ed

Day 161 Mile 161: Damp Donkey Path Descent

Day 161 Mile 161: Damp Donkey Path Descent. O.K. so the photo is of the river Gyrach which carves its way down the mountain forming the Fairy Glen valley down which the Donkey Path runs but the weather wasn’t much drier. 

There seem to be several versions of how the Donkey Path got its name. One of the most popular is that it was simply the route that was used to take produce from the farmed land at the top of the mountain down to the village. Slightly more specific is the version that it is the route which in the 17-19th centuries was used by donkies and their attendants to descend the mountain; before hauling up large sledges, which would then in turn descend under their own weight, full of peat, for export on ships as fuel for fireplaces in the growing towns and cities.

It’s a great route. I had intended to run 1/2 mile up and then come back down, but sadly the gradient of the path, early Saturday morning and a stuborn sheep on the path combined to mean that there is no way I could honestly say I had run the entire way up! As a result I ran, walked and jogged my way up and out onto  the top of the mountain in order to make it a 1 Mile route.

Starting up on the tips where the grass is cropped short by the sheep and the wind wistles around, the route follows the paths across the undulating baize past the herd of mountain ponies and a startled brace of partridge. 

The path then vacuums in by a drystone wall desending sharply as the wall suddenly ends to the left and you are hurtling downhill next to a precipitous drop down to the river. 

From there the path gets even better losing hight at an almost alarming rate, barely 1ft wide at its broadest and a mix of stone, grass, mud and gravel. The ferns, gorse and foxgloves hurtle past often obscuring a view of where your feet may be going adding zest and colour to the crazy undertaking. Finally the hill gives way to tarmac and meets the river and everything becomes calm. The rushing in the ears gives way to the white noise of water, and it seems that the rain has stopped. I wonder when that happened!?

I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.

Distance: 1766.1 meters recorded

(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)

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Thanks as ever for all the support!

Ed

Day 160 Mile 160: Horsepower for the TT

20170609_072607Day 160 Mile 160: Horsepower for the TT. Today is the final day of the Isle Of Man TT racing, including the senior race where bikes of around 1000 cc can hit speeds of in excess of 200 mph on normal (closed) public roads. Living on the top coast of N Wales, if you get up high on a very clear hot day it is possible to see the Isle of Man on the horizon. This is usually an atmospheric trick as the air shimmer over the sea bends the light over the horizon but on the right day it is definitely there. So this morning, I took myself and the Dainese T-shirt that I had been bought several years ago by my other half to watch the MotoGP with my Dad at Silverstone, and ran up a big coastal hill.

As was to be expected the weather was not ideal and the island was hidden in the mist but it was still a beautiful run, and a great excuse to get out and up into the hills. What made it even more special was to see the mountain horses. They live out on the hills all year and roam and graze as they please, so seeing them is always a very welcome surprise.

* * *
In spite of all of the fun of a week of racing it is important to take a moment to remember Alan Bonner, Davey Lambert & Jochem van den Hoek. All three of which have died while racing in this year’s TT. Thoughts go to their family and friends at this time.

May we all have the courage, and tenacity to risk everything for the things we love.

I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.

Distance: 1626.6 meters recorded

(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)
View more on Strava

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Thanks as ever for all the support!

Ed