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Doodlecat's Homepage

Picture of Doodle - a 
black cat

Welcome to Doodlecat, where we enjoy the pleasures of life (with a slight bias towards the outdoors). This page is regularly updated with news and views plus information about any additions or changes to the various parts of the site. It acts as Doodlecat’s Blog too, so the odd rant considered opinion may pop up from time to time.

I would love to be able to say that Doodlecat is all my own work, but it isn’t. Much of the outdoors content is courtesy of the splendid people who participate in the annual TGO Challenge (there is a section entirely devoted to this unique event) and many others.

To help in tracking down that elusive morsel on Doodlecat, the search facility under the title bar above is tailored to help you find it, either on this home page (Doodlecat's Blog) all the rest of the site (Main Site) or – if all else fails - the internet!

So have a rummage around the old cat basket and enjoy your time with us!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Now, where was I?

It's a perennial problem for me when I get back from a trip - especially when there are lots of pictures. The unidentified location. I know roughly where it is, but not exactly.

This is especially exasperating when I've taken a picture specifically to record some detailed information, such as the location of a bridge that is not marked on the map, or, more often, the absence of one that is marked!

Then, amongst the usual press releases from marketing companies that plop into my inbox (do all outdoor bloggers get this?) finally there was one that hit the spot - the latest compact camera from Pentax that not only takes pictures and movies, but has it's own built in GPS receiver to geotag every picture.
The camera is the Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS That link goes to the non GPS version, but the specs are otherwise identical, and it will give an idea of the camera's capabilities.

The biggest problem for me in Scotland this May was the continual rain that severely curtailed the taking of pictures, and this is where the Pentax camera is ideal for the outdoors adventurer, whether walking, climbing, kayaking or even snorkeling. It's waterproof - so you can even use it under water!

 Here's what they say:
The Pentax Optio WG1 GPS compact camera has been specifically designed to withstand the rigours of an outdoor expedition and includes geo tagging functionality too.

With this unique GPS functionality, the camera automatically stores the ground positioning data of your shot as well as when you took it. So, back home, you can locate exactly where and when you took any particular image or video, no matter how far off the beaten track you have gone..

The camera can also withstand a freefall from 1.5 metres, weight pressure of up to 100kg, temperatures down to -10°C and is waterproof to a depth of 10 metres.

Housed in a rugged aluminium-alloy body, the camera is equipped with 14 megapixels, 2.7” LCD monitor, wide angle 5x optical zoom and its 1cm macro mode enables you to take all types of photos from close-ups to landscapes.

Available now in green, grey and shiny orange. The Optio WG1 GPS has an RSP of £299.90
I'm impressed with the spec, and have asked for a camera to review in the next month or so, which should be just in time for our holiday in Wales. It'll be good to know exactly where I've been for a change, and not worry about keeping a delicate camera dry and out of harms way.

Could this be the bombproof compact that I've been looking for? More later.

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Adrift in Suffolk

Sometimes we get lost – go on, admit it, you have too. However on this particular foray I succeeded in getting misplaced:

a)    On my own doorstep, on a walk that I have done before, and
b)    The consequent extra two miles came right at the end of the walk, and
c)    I was in the company of Miss W, who had pointed out the correct route and been totally ignored.

Bumble bee on thistle
Bumble bee tucks in
Other than that, this was a very fine walk indeed, taking in a part of Suffolk that we visit rarely although it’s quite close at hand. I won’t include a map, otherwise people will say “how the #*!^ did he get lost there”, but suffice to say that we took in Bradfield Woods nature reserve near Gedding, the lovely Six Bells in Felsham (where as well as the Greene King ales they offer home pickled whelks, cockles etc as a change from the usual bar nibbles). Then through delightful farmland to another large wood, Thorpe Wood, and via various paths back to the start. I say various, as I’m not entirely sure of the latter part of the route.

It was a perfect English summer afternoon in Bradfield Woods, which is possibly why the place was populated with university researchers counting insects. Miss W had to stifle her laughter as a portly gent with an outsized butterfly net in one hand and a notebook in the other flitted from glade to glade with a cloud of errant fritillaries just out of sight behind him. Others were earnestly examining rotting pieces of wood for … well some insect or other. The birds seemed pleased with their efforts anyway and followed them closely, busily consuming the just-counted invertebrates.

Cob nuts near Thorpe Wood
Cob nuts near Thorpe Wood
On to Thorpe Wood, where the summer is well advanced, and already the sloes and cob nuts are reaching full size. And thinking of full size, here we saw some of the tallest thistles that I have ever seen – a good 7’ high. The air was alive with bumble bees and butterflies. There’s little evidence that the paths are walked very often at all, so it really is a delightful, almost secret place.

Miss W on overgrown path
Little walked path
Yes, it was a great day – until I disputed Miss W’s assertion that we should take a left turn and marched firmly straight ahead.  Later there was an internal moment of panic as I realised that the sun had unaccountably moved to the wrong part of the sky. I slyly dropped back and pulled out the map. This manoeuvre failed as I heard a crisp voice say, “Admit it, you haven’t got a clue where we are.” Careful reference to the map showed that she was perfectly correct in this assertion.

Fortunately a couple of landmarks pinpointed our position and I was able to guide us back without too much loss of face, other than being forced to admit that “Yes, we would be home by now if I’d listened to you” from time to time.

I fear that this incident, although forgiven, will not be forgotten.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Walking backwards

It's been fun to dip into the various TGO Challenge reports that are popping up on different blogs. Just goes to show how one event can produce very diverse experiences for the individuals involved. However it's becoming a slightly disjointed affair, as I have the same problem as these chaps.

In the past I have added links to some of the stories, but with more and more appearing on blogs, they are back to front, so if you start with the latest post you find yourself walking backwards across Scotland! Plus, as well as being back to front, they are broken up by posts about other things.

With Wordpress it is possible to add some static pages, a quasi website, where a story can be writen up as a separate entity.  Blogger, as far as I know, doesn't offer this facility, but a label will neatly link all the relevant posts together - you'll still be walking backwards, but we'll cure that later!

So, bloggers, how about a) creating a label for your posts and - here is the clever bit- b) when you've finished your epic, change the dates on each post so that they appear in the right order. That way I can link to your label - like this. That link is to Alan Sloman's account, and as I write it is still back to front, but once that's changed it will be a logical and readable account that anyone can bookmark for future reference.

How do you change the dates on your posts? It's easy - just go to "Edit posts", select the post whose date you want to change, click "Post Options" at the bottom of the page and over on the right you will see the date and time - which you can alter.*

If you want to publish a series of posts at the same time, you can use the same facility when writing up your account to  have Blogger publish the posts at a pre determined time in the future - just click "Post Options" before you publish the post, and the scheduling option is there.

So there you have it - an easy way to keep your wonderfully written account both readable and permanently accessible, and I can direct Doodlecat readers to have a look at it as well.

Oh, and by the way (koff, ahem) my 2011 TGO account is now on line HERE.

*I don't know what happens with Wordpress, but if you're not using static pages, I guess something similar can be done

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