Blank Slate

I’ve just finished turning the band website into a WordPress site. Well, when I say ‘finished’, I mean I’ve put it up live because it’s in a place where I’m comfortable that the theme is pretty close to the original look.

Over the last few months I’ve taken a liking to WordPress and have used it more and more for various projects. There may not always be a plugin to do exactly what I need, but it’s pretty easy to pull something together yourself.

I didn’t want to change how the band website actually looked – I just needed a way for us to be able to easily add photographs, gig dates, and videos. Since the site itself has always looked pretty simple, I spent a while looking for a stripped down theme that I could customise before settling for Blank Slate. You can’t really get much more stripped down than a full CSS reset and the bare minimum markup!

The total time taken to convert the website from pure hand-written HTML to a WordPress theme with content, (including figuring out the plugins I wanted and customisations to those) was about a single day, and most of that was eaten up by me trying to decide which events calendar plugin to use.

I still need to do some SEO stuff and re-do the social media links, but all in all I’m pretty happy with how the conversion went. The site looks pretty much exactly the same, but we now have a real back-end that will allow us to manage our photos, videos, and gig dates far more easily.

Bowness

I’ve just returned from a short holiday in the Lake District with my beautiful girlfriend, to celebrate our first anniversary.

Hopeful of a few walks and clear nights, I took my telescope along. Unfortunately, as is often the case with British weather, we were immersed in fog and rain for the duration of our stay.

 

We stayed at the Royal Oak Inn in Bowness-on-Windermere – which is a minute’s walk from the lake itself, and has what may well be the most awkward car park in the world. I forgot to take any photographs of the car park itself, but ‘limited spaces’ is understating it. To top it off, there was some extremely questionable parking going on from other guests.

Parking aside, the inn was actually pretty nice. The staff were friendly and although our room was small, it was clean and tidy and had everything we needed.

We spent our first evening wandering around Bowness. The town follows the ‘black-hole’ principle of tourist destinations, cramming everything on offer into a few streets and sucking in traffic from miles around. Crossing the road was a dangerous exercise and was often better left until some braver soul decided to walk out into traffic, in the hope that they’d act as a buffer if any cars came careening around the corner.

Unfortunately there’s not a whole lot to do in Bowness. It’s a nice little town, but a 5-minute walk will let you see everything there is to see. You can, however, feed the swans if the hire-boats are off (which they were when we checked!).

We, as humans with a more refined taste than swans, ate at Rumours, an Italian restaurant part-owned by the Royal Oak Inn, which provided us with 10% discount vouchers. The food was nice and came in good time, and I would eat there again the next time I visit.

On our second day, we took a drive up to Millerground Bridge and left the car to go for a walk. The first part of the walk took us through a small wooded area with a stream. It was nice to get away from the noise of traffic, and although the weather wasn’t too brilliant, the fogginess made for some amazing views across the lake. My photographs don’t do the feeling justice, but there’s something pretty intense about staring across a calm lake into a wall of fog!

 

Our third and final day was spent in Ambleside – a popular tourist destination at the Northern end of Windermere.

Just in case you had thoughts of visiting Ambleside and then being able to sleep, you should know that this nightmare fuel exists:

This terrifying display was sat outside some kind of fossil / mineral shop. I don’t know whether the horrific Christmas Murder Bears are in any way related to the Rainwater Corpse Transporter carts, but I am at least glad that Ambleside is home to such a refreshingly innovative piece. No statues of famous locals or murals about the history of the town, please! A brief experience of the psychotic nightmare world is exactly what I needed to set me up for lunch.

We had an excellent soup & sandwich meal at the Giggling Goose café across the road, and had a look around a few art galleries. I wanted to buy something for Mother’s Day, but unfortunately, nothing in particular stood out. Sorry ma!

In the evening before we headed back to the Inn, we decided to travel further north and see what we could see. A few minutes up the road brought us to White Moss House. We parked across the road and decided to walk along the footpath which took us through the woods and out onto a hill overlooking Rydal Water. For me, this was the most relaxing part of our holiday; there was no noise but the wind and a few sheep, and although it was cold and rain was threatening, I felt like I had finally gotten away from everything else and could relax.

I tried to take a panoramic photo on my Galaxy SII but unfortunately the user interface is pretty clunky and seems to take photos semi-randomly so I won’t be putting them up here!

As the rain started to fall and the light faded, we decided to try to find somewhere to eat back in Bowness. Unfortunately, we kept being turned away as we’d left it quite late by the time we got back and changed our muddy clothes. We did eventually find a Chinese restaurant which was still open and which piped terrible Whitney Houston music into the dining area, however, so all was not lost!

All in all we had a great few days. I’d definitely go back to the lakes again, but I think I’d probably choose a different town. Bowness is nice, but there’s not much to do. Maybe we’ll go camping next time, and  hopefully we’ll have better weather, too!