Some photos from the Llywernog Lead Mine near Aberystwyth. There are two parts to the tour: a self-guided part where you walk around reading the information boards, and a guided tour underground. The underground part was very wet but very intersting.
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Thanks to the BBC iPlayer, I finally managed to watch the episode of Top Gear where they 'celebrate' 40 years of British Leyland cars. Unfortunately the episode I originally downloaded failed to work - the licence had 'expired' despite having 5 days left - so I had to watch the version with the sign language person 'flapping' in the corner of the screen.
In the episode, the presenters had to go out and buy an old BL car each, and then perform various tasks. They drove to the sites of some of the old factories, but most of them had since been demolished. The only one still in use is now owned by BMW. Others had been demolished and (like Longbridge) were derelict land or had been turned into hotels or offices.
At the site of the old factory in Coventry they commented on how it had turned into a hotel. They complained that there was nothing to commemorate the site of the factory, apart from a few road names (Herald Avenue, Dolomite Avenue). They must have missed the metal plinth which gave some of the history of the site.
The Canley factory has gone the same way as most of the motor manufacturing in Coventry. A lot of the sites have been converted into flats, offices or shops. The Canley site has an industrial estate, a hotel and a Sainsburys. The Peugeot site at Stoke is now flats and offices. The only cars made within Coventry are the Black Cabs, made by London Taxi International, at the factory on Holyhead Road. This factory (tucked behind the BMW/Mini dealership) is opposite yet another shopping centre built on the site of an old car factory - the Alvis Retail Park.
Anyway, back to Top Gear. They took their old cars to a test track and had to drive along a bumpy cobbled road, with a colander of eggs taped over their heads. They scored depending on how how much egg was still in the colander, and lost 'points' for any trim which fell off. The biggest bit of 'trim' lost was the back door from Clarkson's Rover SD1.
Another of the tests was to drive up a 1 in 3 stretch of road, apply the handbrake, and see if the car would stay there. Now 1 in 3 is very steep - lesser gradients make it feel like the car is tipping over backwards. The Rover had great difficulty even getting up the slope. The wheels lost traction and the wheelspin hid the car in huge clouds of smoke.
Back when I lived in Aberystwyth, there was a 1 in 4 road between Waen Fawr and Llanbadarn. At the bottom of the hill there was a T junction and I had to approach it very slowly because it always felt like the car wasn't going to stop. Heading the other way, up the hill, unless I managed to get a good run up I had to take the hill in 1st gear. At the time I only had a Rover Metro with a 1.1 litre engine so it struggled when presented with challenges like that.
We got rid of the Metro a few years ago, but we noticed the address in the back of the handbook was given as 'Canley Road' - the site now occupied by the hotel/industrial estate/Sainsburys. I did a search for the postcode on Google maps but it doesn't exist any more.
Getting back to Top Gear, the tests became more surreal. They filled the cars with water and drove around the track to see which would go the furthest. The surprising winner was an Austin Princess driven by Captain Slow.
Top Gear is at its best when they have the silly games and challenges. Most of the car reviews get very tedious. They tend to be either overexpensive cars being driven fast around the track while being compared with other overexpensive cars, or small/affordable/economical cars being accused of being dull and boring. I can't be the only viewer who gets tired of hearing about the latest supercar with zero relevance to everyday life. It's like a car version of the pathetic Celebrity type of magazine.
Despite these problems, the banter between the presenters is good. The 3-way reviews, where they all go out with similar cars and compare them, tend to be more interesting than the one-off reviews with individual cars. Hopefully they'll continue to do more of the motoring challenges - the one where they had to drive old cars across Africa was one of the better episodes of the series.
These pinhole photos were taken in the abandoned lead mines around Cwm Rheidol, in 2004.
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Quoth the article:
Tony Blair's final act as Prime Minister was billed as a huge boost for the regions today, when he announced that the government of the United Kingdom, would henceforth be re-located in the Welsh coastal town of Aberystwyth.
This week's episode manages to keep up the 'wierd quotient' of this X-Files/Men in Black hybrid. The story was about a bloke who had an 'alien eye' in his possession. He got run over by a car but his 'ghost' followed Gwen's investigation into his death.
Part of the episode was set at 'Aberystwyth University'. I thought: OK, they've got the name slightly wrong but we should see some shots of the town and maybe the Old College building. Instead what we got was an interior scene which was actually filmed in the National Museum in Cardiff. I don't know whether they failed to get permission to film at the University, or whether it was too expensive, or whether they were just too plain lazy to drive to another town to film. It was a bit disappointing but didn't detract from the episode.
Update: Since I wrote this, Aber has split from the University of Wales and is no longer University of Wales, Aberystwyth and is just Aberystwyth University, as shown in the programme.
It's a pity I don't still live in Aberystwyth. Someone was apparently giving away [Free money in the town centre. A driver threw bundles of £20 notes from a car, shouting "Who wants free money?", before driving away.
I was on my way home from work on the Birmingham to London train, which stops at Birmingham International and Coventry. I'd got to the train quite early and managed to get a seat at table. When the train stopped at International, a grey haired who looked vaguely familiar sat down opposite me. After a few seconds I realised it was one of my old lecturers from Aberystwyth.
I graduated last summer (MSc Computer Science) but the photo developers lost my Dad's film so I didn't manage to get any photos until recently (thanks to Phil and Janet who both sent me theirs).
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One of the changes I noticed in Aber was the presence of a Subway sandwich shop, in a site which used to be a gift shop called 'JADS'. We went there for lunch and had the daily special, which on sunday is Roast Chicken. Obviously we had most of the extras as well: cheese, salad, onion, peppers, chilli (and in my case, olives. Emma had cucumber instead). It worked out cheaper than a pub lunch (mainly because Varsity didn't start their 2 for £5 offer until 3pm and the Wetherspoons is more expensive to eat at than the one in Coventry!).
Tonight was one of our regular Aber reunions for the MSc Comp-Sci course and assorted friends and hangers-on. When I say regular, it's usually twice per year - the last one (and actually the first one because most of us only moved away last year) was at Christmas. Todays event was a kind of pub crawl with a stop at Wetherspoons for food. We started off in The Glen on the sea front. Everything was going well until it started to rain. We retired indoors so people could play pool or lose to the quiz machine.
We moved to Wetherspoons for more beer and some food, then we had the usual discussions about which pub to go to next. We ended up in The Mill. Despite living round the corner from it in 2003/4, it was never one of my favourite pubs. There's nothing much wrong with it really, I think it might have been a bad first impression and a dodgy pint of so-called real ale. It was actually much better tonight.
Tradition dictates that we end the night in either Rummers or The Bay - we tried Rummers first but it was full so we made the trek back to the sea front for The Bay. I was starting to feel a bit full so we left after one pint. Earlier today, Emma wanted to go for a paddle but we didn't have time. We didn't want to leave Aber without having one so we had ourselves a midnight paddle on our way back to the B & B.