About the blog

The blog has moved from pennine.ddns.me.uk/blogs/andrew/ to blogs.waddingtons.info/andrew/ – please update your bookmarks. The section “Family Christmas letters” has also moved to the “whole family” site here. The blog was offline from June 11th to December 5th 2019 owing to Vodaphone (who own Demon) dropping support for domestic ADSL customers at very short notice in the middle of peak holiday season. Neither of the companies they suggested as replacements seemed inclined to answer sales enquiry emails, and several other possible providers seemed unable to answer very simple technical queries (“I need a fixed IP address, do you offer this ?”) or even claimed that they didn’t offer support by email (even to customers, let alone prospective customers). Eventually we have come back online with Zen Internet, with whom a publically routeable IP address comes as standard. So far, we would recommend them, but ask again after we’ve been with them as long as we were with Demon (almost thirty years).

There’s material here dating back to 1974 (earlier in two cases, though those weren’t written until recently) – well before the invention of the internet, let alone the world wide web and the concept of blogging. Where did it come from so quickly and easily ?

Photography has been a major hobby of mine since school days, and I’ve always tended to be the sort of person that kept detailed records of when and where the photos were taken. By the time I was walking, climbing and caving frequently, I was also keeping records of routes and, in the case of caving, a detailed personal log book. On longer trips, I often kept a diary or journal and when, from 1975 on (at University and later) I was doing a lot of my activities in a club context, these records would enable me to be one of the more prolific writers of newsletter and journal articles. Even in the 1970’s, a lot of this stuff went on computers (I had boxes of punched cards and paper tape at one time), and much of this has either been maintained in up-to-date formats as they became available, or has subsequently been included in projects to put out-of-print journals, newsletters and written material onto the web (most notably Cambridge University Caving Club journals and expedition logbooks and Northern Pennine Club publications). More recently, anything I’ve written for any purpose at all has ended up on a hard disc somewhere here, including lists of slides and sets of notes for illustrated talks.

So it was easy to extract a lot of original narrative from existing archives, or write new narrative based on journals and diaries kept at the time. A lot of the old photographic slides have already been scanned for various presentations, and adding more is an occasional but continuing activity, spurred on by a need to illustrate just the sort of articles that now form the basis of this blog. A further source of material has been the annual christmas letters that we make up to send to friends and relatives (although we’ve lapsed a bit for the last couple of years). These have been on the website for a few years, but are now incorporated into the WordPress site (and where they refer to trips that are the subject of blog posts, they are linked thereto). Setting up a WordPress blog was easy, although my original way of getting a single installation to work for multiple users using unionfs-fuse was initially non-obvious and proved to have one or two drawbacks, so the revampted site (from 2018) is a more conventional multisite installation. Learning how to modify themes and tweak everything else to my satisfaction is taking rather longer… most of my web-site expertise is html 3 and earlier, so all this new-fangled html5 and CSS is sketchy… and I know I shouldn’t be using technology without understanding it, that’s just wrong! Currently I’m running with a home-made child theme of the twentyeleven theme (the default when I started), hacked to avoid quite the amount of space wasted in white margins (being limited to photos 640 pixels wide when I’m using a 3840 wide screen is annoying, to say the least – ideally I’d like embedded video to play at the full 1280×720 or 1920×1080 resolution without having to break out into a separate window). So far I’ve got as far as using almost the full width when you display a single post (actually 958 pixels), but I have yet to understand enough to make a “responsive” theme which adapts well to big screens (3840×2160 is pretty mainstream these days and even my phone does HD).

Digital photography, video and GPS have revolutionised the way we keep information about trips and the amount of data we can go back to. Most of the blog pages have photos (c 1600 on the site), a few have embedded videos and I’m now adding mapping to a number of pages and posts, using both OS Openspace and Google/OSM mapping (and, in one or two cases, mapping from local providers like Eniro for Lofoten). Google have started to make this difficult, so I am in the process of migrating to leaflet – a fully open source system.

Header pictures: there are now several, but the main (and default) one is the whitewater header – most of this is a photo on Dogleg, Upper Tees, by Sarah Waddington. The head is from boat-mounted GoPro footage. The red beard (and hair) dates from October 3rd 2012 especially for this blog header (yes, it really was that colour – it’s not Photo-shopped), though by October 2013 it was reverting to grey, as I didn’t want to look a lot different from my passport photo when heading for Uganda again at Christmas. The walking header is from the Grand Canyon in 1981 (self-portrait), with a California-specific walking header from the long walk in 1992 (photo by Mary Waddington). The sea kayaking header is from the Lofoten trip (main photo by Johnny Proud), and the rock climbing header from one of our many trips to the Black Cuilin of Skye. The ski-touring main photo is on the summit plateau of Cairngorm in November 1990 (not the main cairn with the weather station) with the face from an off-piste run at Val d’Isère much more recently – the original lift-assisted skiing header is also from Val d’Isère (photo by Mary), although 2018 saw a couple of alternative versions which may get used… which is also true for Walking headers. The caving header is an old black-and-white photo from Père Noël cave in Belgium (self-taken). There’s a canyonning header photo, made up of pics by Rosie Florence, and a Pony trekking header with the main photo of mine in Iceland, and the figure from Mary, in Yellowstone. Ah, and now I need cycling, alpine mountaineering and mountain biking ones, too 🙁

There was a big effort in 2014 to replace 640-pixel photos by 800 pixel wide ones, and essentially all the photos also used on the SOC website have been remastered to this size (that’s about seven hundred). Something like seven hundred of the others, used only on this site, have now also been rebuilt. There are a few hundred more, not currently used at all, but originally imported to support blog posts not yet written, which will be remastered as and when we write posts that need them. Many of the photos have also been used as Backdrop (or wallpaper, in Windows-speak) images, in resolutions from 800×600 up to 1920×1080 (for various older laptops) up to current-generation 3840×2160, with almost all available in 2560×1600. There’s a slightly different selection of pics in 1200×1600 for portrait-orientated monitors. These are now available online. I’m remastering most photos used on the blog at 1920×1080 in a project to make everything available for doing projected slideshows – not all will go that big, as many video frames were at 1280×720, but as and when I have the majority available in a stable location at the this resolution, I’ll link the smaller versions in the blog to the bigger pictures.

Registering to add comments and so on: owing to getting two or three spam registrations a day (and only very few real ones) I decided it was not going to inconvenience anyone to password-protect the registration page to save all the time I spend not approving new users, deleting them from the system and getting rid of the email the process generates. The idea is that anyone who actually reads the blog will know the password. Well, provided they know pi to twenty decimal places (omit the decimal point – just type the 21 digits) – the sort of thing you learn as a kid and never forget (or, nowadays, can simply look up on the web) !