No reply

It’s been three weeks since I wrote to my MP in support of Darren’s legalise wild camping petition. As yet I’ve received no reply. I guess in the grand scheme of things, it’s small beer. It’s still a tad disappointing not to even get an acknowledgement. Has anyone else had a response?



I’ve been occupied over the past few days listening to my new amplifier. It’s obviously a bit of a punt when you buy something unheard. I’m absolutely bowled over by how good it is. The level of detail, extra depth and bass extension is extraordinary. I think a good measure of this is down to the DAC and the fact that all the processing is done in the amp without the need for external connections. It just shows what value you can find in second hand HiFi, if you’re willing to look. I will keep listening just to ensure that I’m not imagining the difference. I also have to decide whether to go for the digital room correction module, which entails sending it back to the factory. It’s like getting a whole new CD collection!

 Lyngdorf TDA 2200 – super amp!


Short gear update

I’ve now had a reasonable chance to try out my Paramo Vasco jacket, although not under particularly testing conditions. I like it. It’s a slimmer cut than many Paramo jackets. The sleeves are also slightly shorter. I was a bit concerned about the back vent, but it adds considerably to the venting options and the temperature flexibility. Left loose it gives a lot more ventilation than other Paramo jackets, which may make it more suitable for summer use. Cinched down, it should defeat wind and rain. As the cord is elasticated, freedom of movement is not impaired. Both the arm vents and the chest pockets add further to the venting options. The arms are a closer fit than the Viento. Although I’ve not yet had a chance to use it in rain, I’ve no reason to believe that it will be any less effective than my other Paramo jackets. It is also a bit more stylish than other Paramo jackets (not difficult!). Definitely worth a look at.

I’ve also been using my Olympus WS-331M digital voice recorder a lot recently, mainly as an MP3 player. For such a small player, the playback quality is remarkable. I’ve not done much voice recording, but as a straightforward MP3 player, it is excellent. Being able to use a AAA battery rather than having to recharge it is an excellent feature for the trail.  It’s simple to use and the controls are well thought out. The screen is a bit basic, but tells you what you need to know. Again, this is definitely worth a look if you want an MP3 player that uses ordinary batteries.

An expensive hobby

No I’m not writing about backpacking, it’s HiFi. As you have read in a previous post, I love music and over the years I’ve assembled a pretty good system. At the front end I have a Denon 3190 CD/SACD/DVD player. A little while ago I picked up a second hand DAX Decade DAC for just under £1,000 compared to a price new of around £2,400. It’s all relative, but in HiFi terms that’s a bit of a bargain. It’s built to survive a nuclear war! For the amplification I’ve got an AVI S2000MP pre amp and an AVI Lab Series S21MA ver2.0 power amp. These drive a pair ofKEF Reference 203 speakers together with a Velodyne sub woofer (SPL 1200).



Just to show you how mad I am, I have a completely separate ring main and consumer unit, together with a technical earth (three copper rods buried in the back garden). I also have a mains condition (IsoTek mini sub). The cables…..let’s not go there!

Anyway the reason for the post is I’ve just lashed out on another second hand bargain. Drum roll…… a Lyngdorf TDA2200 amplifier.  This little (well big) baby is not only an amplifier, its a DAC and digital processor. If I like it it will replace three bits of gear at the same time (DAC, pre and power amps). Not only that, I can add a digital room correction module (“Room Perfect”) which will digitally reshape the sound to eliminate the imperfections of the room/speaker interface. I can hear you gasping! I’m basically getting the amp half price from a Audio & Cinema down in Cornwall. The beauty of buying second hand is that I can try it out and if it doesn’t work out, I’ll be able to sell it for a similar price and not lose much. Arrives tomorrow. Backpacking is pretty cheap compared to this!


Storm warning follow up

Unless you are involved in the financial world, you probably didn’t notice much difference to your life after August last year. Although the demise of Northern Rock was the most visible evidence of something going wrong in the UK (and global) financial system, for most people life carried on as normal. However, this is about to change and I want to warn you.

According to the Times, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s winter labour market outlook is set to show that 38% of the more than 1,500 employers surveyed plan redundancies over the next three months, with a quarter intending to let go at least 10 employees. There have been three sources of growth for the UK economy over the past five years: the housing market, the financial sector (i.e. international finance in the City of London) and increased public expenditure. All three of these engines of growth appear to be failing at the same time.

At the same time, access to credit is about to become much harder for everyone, not just those with poor credit histories. An article in Saturday’s FT suggests that even those who might consider themselves as “good” payers and credit risks may find their credit curtailed if they make minor mistakes in paying bills. Mr. Darling may get his wish of a return to “old fashion” banking, but he may not like the results. Credit oils the wheels of the economy. Risk aversion by bankers as we are seeing now throws sand in the gears. Watch out for the blame game, as it’s about to get nasty.

I have next to no faith in the financial literacy of this government, so prepare yourselves for two to three years tough sledding in the economy. Unfortunately the strong fiscal position of 3-4 years ago has been frittered away. While it won’t be the end of the world (as some commentators are suggesting), it’s not going to be easy. The only advice I can give is try to preserve your job, be careful with your debt and try to build a financial cushion. I hope you won’t need it but you never know!

Heat and light

The two burning issues in backpackerdom at the moment appear to be the petition to legalise wild camping in England & Wales and the Trail article highlighting Paul Lister’s wishes to enclose his 30,000 acre estate in Scotland so he can re-introduce wolves (and some other animals), thereby excluding walkers from access unless they pay at least £50 for the pleasure.

There’s certainly been quite a lot of heat in the Trail and OM forums on these topics, while the TGO forum has been somewhat more genteel in its tone. Fortunately as well as heat, there’s been a bit of light. I don’t intend to comment much more about Mr. Lister’s plan’s as you know my views from a previous post and I’ve contributed to the debate on OM, having instigated it. Suffice to say I’m against the restriction of access, but agnostic about the re-introduction of flora/fauna. Hopefully the legal process will prevent him from riding roughshod over the Scottish access legislation.

For most of us, the wild camping petition is a more important issue. It has been interesting to see how this has developed through both the medium of forums and blogging. Although some of the comments in the forums have not been particularly constructive, some of the opposing voices have raised some areas of legitimate concern that would need to be addressed by any legislation. Many of these revolve around the issue of privacy and the abuse of any rights that may be conferred.

An encouraging aspect of this debate, for me personally, is that I have had to re-think my initial simplistic view of the right to wild camp. I believe that some significant safeguards against abuse would need to built in. In particular, as in the Scottish legislation, abuse should mean the withdrawal of the privilege. The “leave no trace” and minimum impact philosophy needs to be asserted. Respect for privacy and unobtrusiveness are also key components. I suspect that it is going to be difficult to reconcile the many different interests. A good starting point might be to encourage our National Parks to adopt a similar attitude to Dartmoor, which allows wild camping.


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