Spammers: say byebye to your pagerank

Anyone who frequents the world of weblogs will be aware of Google’s recent modifications to their crawler which make it ignore links containing a rel="nofollow" attribute. Yay! At last, a big FUCK YOU to the comment/referrer spammers from the big players. Woo-hoo!

I’ve just implemented it here. Still no HTML allowed in comments, although I might review this policy when the imapct of this move has had time to be felt (some people argue that it won’t have much effect). So the only real changes here will be that the initial links back to commenter’s pages now contain the attribute. Leave a comment with your URL and view source to check it out, should you care.

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Stanton Drew

After the rain and wind yesterday we were glad to awake this morning to clear blue skies and sunshine. Just right for another trip into the countryside and – you guessed it – more photos!

We didn’t go quite so far today, just about eight miles or so outside Bristol into the Chew Valley. We took a pleasant walk through the fields around the village of Chew Magna and stopped at an even smaller village called Stanton Drew to take in the standing stones.

[A single stone standing at an angle in front of a large tree];

The place must have been an important site around five thousand years back (give or take a few centuries). There are three circles and a variety of other arrangements in the area and a geophysical survey by English Heritage has shown that the megaliths were only one part of a larger complex including a surrounding henge and over four hundred pits – Stanton Drew was an important place rivaling Avebury in size.

[The north-east circle seen from within the Great Circle];

Now cows graze among the stones. Although we don’t really know what the circles were used for they have the atmosphere of a sacred place, like a great church or a tomb, and they are commonly thought to have been part of the ritual life of the stone-age people of Britain. People bring their own interpretations. I always find myself wondering what will remain of our culture in five millennia and who will wander among the remains, what they’ll make of us.

Happy New Year

2004 was a good year for me on the whole. I feel like I’ve done quite a lot, seen a fair bit and moved on in life – this time last year I was on the other side of the planet and I’ve gone from there to a new home and now to a new job. And, of course, in March I’ll become a father so I can predict with certainty that 2005 is going to bring some interesting times.

New Year’s Day felt like a good time to get out into the countryside and go for a walk and some fresh air, although neither Polly nor I have been over-indulging that much this year. As it happens we didn’t walk too far anyway, climbing Glastonbury Tor was enough for us both. As we stood at the top of the Tor looking out across fields and hills of Somerset I thought for a moment that I could feel the mystical power of the Earth coursing through the ley lines beneath, then I realised it was just the howling wind and the rain and the blood rushing to my head as I rested after the climb. It’s quite steep, you know.

[Glastonbury Tor under a grey sky]

We took a stroll through the town, just enough to inhale the scent of incense and admire the cutesy little new-age shops and stuff. At least I know where to go next time I need a life-sized Buddha statue or some healing crystals. (Polly wondered what the locals do when they need a pint of milk.) We stopped in Wells, too, and walked around the Bishop’s Palace admiring the mediaeval splendour and the swans gliding haughtily round the moat, but we were eventually driven back to the car by the rain.

[Two swans in the Moat around the Bishop's Palace, Wells]

There seemed something fitting about visiting places steeped in history at the start of a new year and a new phase in life. I could probably say something really deep now, but I won’t. Have a good one, wherever you are.

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