Big Ben Bongs its last

An advantage to knowing someone that works at Parliament is that you can get some behind the scenes tours that are not usually available to the public. Today, I got to visit the House of Lords archives and conservation studios.

Today’s visit coincided with the last(-ish) chimes from Big Ben, the bell being taken out of action to protect the hearing of the workers repairing the Elizabeth Tower. At 12pm everybody was outside with their cameras pointing up.

I was no different.

Migrating site

Moving this website to a new server. Might mean I actually write stuff here more than a few times per year. 

Expect some things to be broken for a while. 

Several journeys around Orkney

I’ve been in the Orkney Islands for several days, departing from Scrabster (Near Thurso) with stays in St Margaret’s Hope, Kirkwall and somewhere between Finstown and Tingwall.

Total journey length including ferries, busses, walking and the world’s shortest commercial flight : 516 km.

More to follow.

GPS trails around Orkney
GPS trails around Orkney

Happy Oak Apple Day

Abolished in 1859, Oak Apple Day was established in 1660 by a parliamentary act declaring

[29 May ] to be for ever kept as a day of thanksgiving for our redemption from tyranny and the King’s return to his Government, he entering London that day.

It’s now the day where I usually post this video of a CT scan of an Oak Apple complete with a few developing wasps.

My interest in Oak Apples is less to do with the restoration of the monarchy, and more to do with the use of them in the production of iron gall Ink, which was commonly used as a writing ink from around the 5th century untilĀ  the invention of more modern inks in the 1900s


In the video we can see the bodies of several developing gall wasps. The Oak Apple was taken from a batch bought for making ink, so the wasps were long since dead.