Larkin with Toads: A Personal Journey

Philip Larkin was the Librarian at the University of Hull and while I was a student there, I think I actually saw him once, striding imperiously through the Brynmor Jones Library. He was also a famous poet who died in 1985 and the City of Hull is celebrating the 25th anniversary of his death with a number of special events.

One of the more bizarre events is Larkin with Toads, the temporary invasion of 40 giant fibre-glass toads, a public art installation which celebrates Larkin’s poems of working life ‘Toads’ and ‘Toads Revisited’ (See Wikipedia article).

During the August Bank Holiday weekend, my wife and I took two days to wander around Hull to to try and see and photograph as many of the toads as we could. Usefully you can get a map for this from the City Tourist Information Office and online.

We also took the opportunity to try some real ale in Ye Olde White Hart, The Old English Gentleman, The Minerva Hotel and Ye Olde Black Boy.

I’ve put my photos on Flickr and here is a Slideshow of the toads. You can also view the toads on a map. If you want to see them for yourself, you’ll have to hurry, the installation ends at the end of September.

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649

Gower Macmarathon 2010: Story of the Day

Personal success but failure for mobile technology!

8.27 (BST 7.27 GMT): On the Bus at Bracelet Bay, Mumbles. First trip report filed with Audioboo.fm:

#### Stage One: Rhossilli to Port Eynon, 7 Miles

09.22: Rhossilli, at the start of the walk, I filed my second report filed on AudioBoo.fm. There was no reception for quite a while!
Chris at the Starthttp://boos.audioboo.fm/swf/fullsize_player.swf

Worm's Head, from the other side The first stage of the walk, the coastal path between Rhossilli and Port Eynon is a distance of seven miles. There where a couple of ascents and descents that were made quite treacherous by the heavy rain that fell on the Thursday and Friday before the walk. Indeed, coast guards were in attendance on someone, possibly one of the Gower Macmillan walkers, who had come a cropper on the first muddy descent near Mewslade Bay. There was even a helicopter! No photographs, because we thought we had to be at Oxwich by 1.00 and so weren’t dawdling!

Stage 2: Port Eynon to Oxwich, 3 Miles

We arrived at Port Eynon at around 12.00. A cup of tea was very welcome. I tried to tweet a status report, but there was no signal.
Port Eynon

We arrived in Oxwich at around 13.25. We’d walked about ten miles from the start in around 4 hours five minutes. This made our pace around 2.5 miles a hour, which isn’t bad for the terrain. There was time to take on water before the next stretch which was to head out across Oxwich Bay to pass Old Tor into three Cliffs Bay at low tide. It was a welcome opportunity to take off my boots!

Chris at Oxwich Bay

Stage 3: Oxwich to Southgate, 4.5 miles

At around 14.11 we rounded the Great Tor and crossed into Three Cliffs Bay. The signal was good so I made another AudioBoo.fm report from the sea. Unfortunately the connection failed while uploading and I think the phone must have kept trying because my iPhone was dead by Caswell!http://boos.audioboo.fm/swf/fullsize_player.swfMe in the Sea at Great Tor

Overlooking Three Cliffs Bay
From Three Cliffs there’s a steep climb on sand dunes up to the cliffs above Pobbles Beach and it was about 15.00 when I had a chance to take this photo looking back over Three Cliffs bay, probably the most photographed spot in Gower. Southgate wasn’t far from here and we stopped for a coffee at around 15.30.

Stage 5: Southgate to Caswell, 4 miles.

On leaving Southgate, the Macmarathon walker has 14.5 miles behind and only 7.5 in front. It’s well over half way but there are still a few challenges on this picturesque stretch of the South Gower. The path descends through wood toward Pwlldu and crosses a bridge at Brandy Cove before rising again to meet the main road into Caswell.
Pwlldu Bay

Final Stage: Caswell to Mumbles, 3.5 Miles

After a cup of tea at Caswell, we knew it was nearly over! We hiked over the coastal path out of Caswell, pausing for this photograph at 17.20.
On the Path Towards Langland
We entered Langland at about 17.35 and arrived at Mumbles Cricket club at around 18.05. Some 8 hours 45 minutes after the start. Tired, but not exhausted!
Chris at the Finish

Technology Issues

I wanted this trip to be a chance to try Twitter location feature and AudioBoo.fm. With no network coverage in South Gower, Twitter was a non-starter. Even though I recorded a couple of AudioBoo tracks, I wasn’t able to post the last one until the next day when the phone was recharged and I was back home on WiFi. So in future, I’ll have to rely on the built-in camera and audio recorder and upload reports after the event. Luckily, my camera has a decent clock and I was able to get the timings from the pictures that I took with it. I had to reconstruct the location information from the OS map.

More on the trip

I have published the complete set of photos on both Facebook and Flickr. Renate and I are still taking sponsorship and you’ll find the appeal page on-line at Just Giving. Thanks to all who have already contributed.