Outdoor Discoveries

It's amazing how things develop. After all, this blog started out as a news section for the rest of the website. With encouragement from readers, it has become a place for relating my countryside wanderings and musings about the world of outdoor activity. Walking, cycling and photography all are part of what I do out-of-doors and, hopefully, they will continue to inspire me to keep adding entries on here. Of course, there needs to be something of interest to you, dear reader, too and I hope that's the case. Thanks for coming.

Category: Website News

A new weather map

25th August 2022

In the past, seeing changes in the presentation of weather information is something that has raised my ire. When the BBC did away with weather maps, I moved over to the Met Office for sake of keeping the added overview that such things provide. Location-based weather forecasting undoubtedly is useful and I use it a lot but the overview remains especially helpful.

It may seem a niche interest to many but one thing that I find really useful is a rain radar map. Handily, both Met Eireann and the Met Office incorporate these into their phone apps so you can use them while out hiking. In the case of the former, it really saw usage during a recent trip to Ireland when light rain showers dampened at least some of the Kerry mountains. Seeing that the shower was only a passing affair helped enormously with decision-making. Naturally, this all depended on the availability of phone signal and it was never up to the minute but the lag never got in the way of seeing the way that things were moving.

A rain radar map often helps when you are indoors too since waiting out a passing shower or a spell of rain can allow you to do things outside when conditions are drier. This applies to cycling to and from work, going shopping, exercising or travelling further afield. For all these, websites are as useful as phone apps.

That brings me to the main subject of this piece since the Met Office is trying out things all the while. Some are appreciated and successful while others are unwanted with some needing to be tolerated when they become permanent. Of all these, there are some changes that get previewed and a new way of presenting past and predicted weather is among them.

Both now appear in the same place and it only is the timeline that tells you that you are dealing with observed or predicted weather. However, the difference between the two is not as clear-cut as it could be. With rainfall patterns, there are hints like the extra resolution of observed data compared to what is predicted. There is one other thing to realise: the frequency of the predicted data appears to be once every fifteen minutes. Thus, if you see timepoints that are not at 0, 15, 30 and 45 minutes past the hour, then you definitely have an observation map layer on display.

The new map may not be intended to remain open in a web browser from one day to the next but that is a habit of mine. The older maps work well with this since they reset to the latest data even if you may need to advance the timeline accordingly on the radar map. The new map does not do this but it is in its beta phase at the moment and hence could change according to user feedback. For that reason, I am not being as critical as I have been in the past when equivalent changes have been made and it is larger too, a boon for those of us using larger screens (I am writing these words on a 34″ widescreen monitor that I use with my home workstations). So far, what is there looks interesting so I plan to keep an eye on where it goes now.

Things change all the time anyway and not always for the better. The location-based forecasts on the Met Office website do not allow for favourites to be kept or previous searches to be retained so I would like to see them look at this as well. At the moment, I am looking at setting up a list on this website of links to ones that I commonly use for the reference of visitors to this website as much as myself. Handily, you can get forecasts for mountain tops like Helvellyn and even lakes like Ullswater so that might be the basis of an interesting selection.

Tweakage

29th May 2022

Eventually, my ongoing attention to website appearances was going to include what you find here. The changes have been evolutionary and updated some underlying technologies as well. There has been simplification too as well as some rethinking of what should be in the different sections.

All the images in the photo gallery are now the same size and many film photos were rescanned. Some have been replaced with digital ones and the prospect of doing so was the cause of some added trip ideation. In part, the wanderings around Calderdale, Marsden and Hadfield were inspired by this and day trips to Dublin and the Lake District also aided the effort. Some photos were removed without the prospect of any replacement too. Sometimes, images can feature subjects that no longer inspire or have been added when photo albums acted as components of trip reports, things that now appear on this blog. Times change and so do we.

As I was doing all this, knowledge of the happenings in Ukraine hit hard since global wanderings feel more plausible in the absence of global strife. That feeling has eased now and several trips to Ireland have happened. These took me to places new and old. The former of these included Lough Derg, the Slive Felim hills and the Clare Glens while the latter included Killarney and parts of West Limerick like Adare. More may follow yet.

Faster?

21st February 2022

Recently, I noticed that this website felt a bit sluggish so I moved it to a new server in a lift and shift operation. This was another act in a spurt of website tinkering that is ongoing. Alternatives to WordPress and Drupal are being tried so I am examining Hugo and Django along with any other tools that come my way.

Of these, Hugo has been used in a few of my websites this year and my public transport website was one of them. While its overhaul did mean moving to a static website, automated building along with added speed and security were among the advantages of making the change. This route is a technical one but I am largely happy with the changeover and have used the same approach for other websites as well.

While other websites are being overhauled, any changes to this website will happen organically. Its use of WordPress, TextPattern, Bootstrap and other technologies will remain. Where there is a need to change things, Django offers other possibilities so they could get assessed as well. Otherwise, the main priority of sharing experiences and inspirations remains so these will appear as they come my way.

Lazy loading

5th September 2020

It may be autumn now and the nights really are drawing in on us but I still have walking ideas. They are fairly local, which is useful given the times in which we find ourselves. For instance, I have another idea for a walk between Whaley Bridge and Macclesfield: this one would go via the Goyt Valley instead of Taxal Edge where the previous ones went.

There is another and that brings me to recent wanderings. One of those took me from Leek to Buxton via Ramshaw Rocks. Since the day became dull, I would like to go back to those rocky outcrops again to come away with better photos. The route could be varied according to available hours of daylight if so needed.

Other rambles did better with sunshine. One took me around hills near Church Stretton in Shropshire while another gained me my only exposure to sea air of the year so far. That was around the Great Orme near Llandudno in Wales and it rounded off an extended bank holiday weekend that also featured the aforementioned Shropshire and Staffordshire/Derbyshire hikes. All were good for my emotional well-being during what has been a very tough year.

As a dark patch continues to lift, I also got in some website tinkering and that explains the title of this post. Some may not have heard of the term but many will have encountered the behaviour: a web page that does not load all at once but only when a visitor scrolls down far enough to need the outstanding sections. That is called lazy loading and I decided to try it out with the images on this blog. If it is too much of an acquired taste or is too distracting, just let me know and I will make adjustments. Otherwise, the tinkering and the toddling will continue.

Cabin bound

26th February 2020

The title of this post could have been “Cabin Fever” but there is a good reason why that is not the case. It is true to say that February’s weather has not been inspiring this year with a storm arriving most weekends but there is also the draw of indoors activity and the need to attend to working life matters too.

There also has been some tinkering on the technology side and that also applies to the operation of this website too. Most of this is behind the scenes and all of that is about keeping out unwanted visitors, spammers included, so that things run more smoothly. The appearance on mobile devices is another matter that needed attention and things should appear better on smartphones after the remediation.

Along the way, there was much to learn and there always was another thing to try. that may remain but, COVID-19 permitting, there is a need to get out of doors too. With the debt caused by the purchase of a new camera now paid off, any better weather in March could be used using an old trick of mine: booking an associated night in a nearby hotel. After that, there is the Easter weekend which rather spoiled me last year while I was in Edinburgh. Some pondering and planning lies ahead.