Around the quaking bog of Wybunbury

  Our latest Sunday walk was a last-minute one that paid dividends. We’d been shopping but realised we had time for a walk, so I had a look on the map for any area of greenery near where we were. Wybunbury Nature Reserve stood out, and after a couple of wrong turns, we found our way to a point were we could access it (tip: just park near the tower of the former church of St Chad’s, or what remains of it. More on that later). The Moss is a rare example of a ‘quaking bog’, a subsidence mire or a ‘schwingmoor’. In short, a bog. Fear not though, the walk is around the edge, often on good wooden walkways. The trail is well-marked, and worth keeping to – the bog is 30 feet at it’s deepest.   It took about 20 minutes to circumnavigate.  The moss has a couple of haunted tales to it (there’s a headless horseman, and a Jenny Greenteeth who is reputed to grab your legs and try to pull you into the murky depths of the bog). And then back to the church. Or rather the remains of. All that’s left is the tower. Which leans, because the same subsidence that created the bog has been at work around the church. Demolished a couple of decades ago, the tower is all that remains. The same process which sought to straighten the lean of the tower at Pisa was initially used on the tower of St. Chad’s. Read...
Sunday Walk: Froghall Wharf & Harston Woods

Sunday Walk: Froghall Wharf & Harston Woods

This week’s walk was around Froghall Wharf  which is in the Churnet Valley, at the end of the Caldon Canal. It wasn’t so much the canal and wharf we were interested in, but the surrounding woodlands. The wharf itself was busy at 11am, not surprising since it’s a pretty spot with picnic tables, two parking areas, and toilet facilities, plus Hetty’s Tea Shop (which we didn’t sample). I liked the look of the circular walk up and around the wharf, and we weren’t disappointed. Crossing the canal, we went up the valley past ancient iron ore workings. ‘Look for conical depressions’ Dez read out from the map, and Liam warped that into ‘chronical depression’… so questions #5 and 6 of the day were all about depression. There were a lot of questions today. We missed the right turn down to the little lake, but after backtracking we found it (no signs!) and went down past the lake then back up onto a ridge and a beautiful woodland glad. Another small bridge took us up to farmland, where we followed the fence and hit the track which lead to the main road down from Foxt. Passing a dead sheep fired up more questions, and it wasn’t long before even my patience faded, and I told Dez the next 10 questions were all hers. We curtained the official route by taking the track down next to New Cottages which lead through Harston woods down to the old railway track, and on back to the car park. Details: 1hr 20 minutes 2.75 miles Climb about 400 feet   Tips: There are 3 ‘marked’ routes around...

Sunday Walk: Dimmingsdale & Croxden

Dimmingsdale was possibly one of the muddiest walks we’ve done, but has potential so we’ll be back when it’s drier. Fine meal at the Rambler’s Retreat afterwards (sorry about the muddy shoes, guys!). Croxden Abbey was a delight – atmospheric, massive and very...
Making use of an old smartphone

Making use of an old smartphone

I’m always thinking of how to use an old device. When you’ve given old phones to son and family, how else can they be used? And then in a eureka moment, I hit upon a perfect use, at least if you’re a cyclist. So here’s a recipe for re-purposing an old smartphone into a smart cycling computer. Get a bike phone holder. I tried a couple, and this one is perfect, at least in dry conditions! Take you old phone and install Strava, Google Fit, or similar. Set it up with your home wi-fi, and connect before you set off. Also install DigitalHud from the Play store – it’s a great way to get live ‘movement’ data as you’re cycling. And Bob is your uncle – a smart, no-hassle odometer for your cycling!...

Quick & Easy PPC Tips

I’m a big fan of a focused PPC campaign. Focused on conversions. Here’s are some tips to achieve that. Always remember that the beauty of Adwords PPC over other channels is that you are reaching potential customers at the exact point at which they are making a decision to buy a product like yours.  Or at least starting to think about it. Always use negative keywords. Review the Search Terms used to show your ads. What keywords are being used that do NOT relate to your product? You’ll probably be surprised at keywords that slip in that lead to keyword combinations that bear no relation to your product. Lose them. Always look at your keyword Quality Score. Regardless of the impact it might have on your  bids, it’s such a good indicator of the relevance of a particular keyword to your campaign (and landing page). If the QS is 5 or below, do something: lose the keyword, or work it into your page somehow – Page Title, body of the page, just somewhere it can be seen by the system.  If the keyword doesn’t match the page,  people aren’t going to convert, let alone click. Utilise Sitelink Extensions – they’re such a good way to enhance the ad.  For free. You can find more PPC tips at...

Liam on ballet

We’re reading a Horrid Henry story where he’s doing ballet, so I say “hey, maybe you should try that?” Liam say “Ballet’s for girls.” “Some boys do ballet,” I said. “I’m not the sort of boy who does ballet,” was his...