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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

THE BREXIT MESS



I have never "done politics" on my blog before but irrespective of whether you voted to stay or leave the EU, I think our sorry MPs have finally exposed themselves for the incompetent and self serving things they are. Is democracy now dead? I am ashamed of our government with its petty infighting and how we must appear to the rest of the world.

I think Cromwell had it about right:

Dissolution of the Long Parliament by Oliver Cromwell speech given to the House of Commons, 20 April 1653.
     
It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonoured by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter'd your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil'd this sacred place, and turn'd the Lord's temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress'd, are yourselves gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.

In the name of God, go!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

CURRENT AFFAIRS!

To pursue a couple of current events.....................

(Well humour is needed these days!)


Monday, January 21, 2019

NEW BREXIT 50p COIN

Her Majesty the Queen has just approved a special Brexit 2019 fifty pence coin. Issued to commemorate her thoughts on the organisational skills and incisiveness of her government at Westminster.


Their next great challenge will be to attempt the organisation of a piss-up in a brewery.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

SEASON'S GREETINGS


No wonder the sun was seen as a god by the ancient races. Agriculture and life itself depended on its benediction. It was so important that, to mark is passage, 5000 years ago, a long forgotten people built Stonehenge. The alignments of the mid summer and mid winter solstices can be seen from the stones.

Many now believe that the mid winter one was seen as the most important to those peoples. The gradual darkening of their days towards winter must have filled superstitious folk with terror as the sun "left them." Thus that mid winter solstice must have been the cause of great celebration as the priests "recaptured" the sun and brought it back to them.

When the fledgling Christians decided to superimpose their feast days on the old Pagan ones it must have seemed natural that their most important one, the birth of their Christ, should coincide with that mid winter solstice.

I tend to experience SAD symptoms at this dull time of year, so the lengthening of the days after 21st December gives me a shot of pagan joy. Slowly at first but then quickening, the the light at mornings and evenings increases - over the next 6 weeks we shall get 33 minutes of longer daylight. It cannot lengthen fast enough for me!

So Seasons Greetings to my readers. These times seem somewhat stark, so I am signing off with not a pretty Christmas carol, but "Fairytale of New York", by The Pogues, with Kirsty MacColl. Its opening lyrics are:

It was Christmas Eve babe
In the drunk tank
An old man said to me
Won't be seeing another one
And then he sang a song
The Rare Old Mountain Dew
I turned my face away
And dreamed about you.

Got on a lucky one
Came in at eighteen to one
I've got a feeling
This year's for me and you
So happy Christmas
I love you baby
I can see a better time
When all our dreams come true.

They've got cars big as bars
They've got rivers of gold
But the wind goes right through you
It's no place for the old
When you first took my hand
On a cold Christmas Eve
You promised me
Broadway was waiting for me

You were handsome
You were pretty
Queen of New York City
When the band finished playing
They howled out for more
Sinatra was swinging
All the drunks they were singing
We kissed on a corner
Then danced all night...







Wednesday, December 19, 2018

EMPEROR'S NEW ( Cycling) CLOTHES


Winter cycling is always cold. In the good old days, when I was cycling on a "proper" bike and generated my own heat it was less so than now. Now means using an ebike as a stroke has left me with a weak left leg. Easier to ride, but less extra heat is generated so more clothing layers are needed to keep the winter at bay.

Recently, reaching my 80th birthday, I decided to treat myself to some new cold weather cycling kit from the top down. I have an odd shaped skull (narrow front to back) so the usual head measurements work wrongly for cycle helmets, which seem to assume everyone has a round head. Although I have experimented in the past I have never found a comfortable one. So in 65 years of club/touring cycling I have always gone bare headed or with a baseball cap. However, whilst "present" buying I decided to try another helmet which is "one size - adjustable". I deemed it wise to get one so other road users might see me coming, so opted for a fluorescent yellow Centro Commuter Cycling Helmet


Helmets have cutaways for ventilation - not a good idea during the winter, but useful in hot weather, also my ears are in danger of frostbite at this time of year, so a Mavic Winter Underhelmet seemed desirable. This particular make provides side slots for specs, thus saving them being pushed between the underhelmet and skull and creating draughts,


Now the main man needed addressing (or dressing). I needed a warm base layer so opted for a Thermal Long Sleeve Fleece Lined Base Layer 


A thick shirt of some kind will go over this but I decided to get a roomy, thermal top layer in the form of a Funkier Tornado  TPU Thermal Jacket


There was a time, long, long ago when the lads in my cycling club eschewed long leg protection in winter and continued in shorts (although we did succumb to knee length socks when it got really cold). These days my 80 year old arthritic knees (probably contributed to by that youthful machismo) demand long cycling trousers in winter and even then, when it's coldest, thermal "long john" pants go underneath. So a new pair of Tenn Waterproof Breathable Cycling Trousers were added to the order


Finally, I have always found mitts are warmer in winter than gloves and I raided the local golf club's shop for a new pair of Nike Cold Weather Golf Mitts since my old ones needed renewal.

Some might say "why bother" when the weather is cold and inclement, but I find it gets me out, gives me exercise (albeit less than "real" cycling) as the legs need to revolve to keep the ebike going. I can view the countryside up close and interact with people along the way or when "coffee stopping" . Better, by far, than vegetating in an armchair! Some lines from one of my favourite poems, A. E. Housman's "A Shropshire Lad" come to mind:

Clay lies still, but blood's a rover;
Breath's a ware that will not keep.
Up, lad: when the journey's over
There'll be time enough to sleep.


Tuesday, November 06, 2018

PUTTING ELSIE TO BED


During my life I have never given personal names to my cars or my extensive collection of motorcycles, generally referring to them by their manufacturer's name (the SAAB, the Enfield). However, this current small Honda bike, which could well be the last I own, just seems to be crying out to be christened "Elsie" (see number plate)


November sees me tucking up my motorcycles for bed until early March, when the frosts and snow have disappeared, also the salt strewn roads - anathema to chrome and general finish. (I continue to ride during this period, but in the comparative warmth of my plastic bodied (thus corrosion free) scooter.

So this down time can be used for service and maintenance. Elsie is in very good condition, but her tyres needed refreshing and with a motorcycle this means removing the wheels. I used to change my own tyres, but prefer, these days, to take the wheels to a local tyre factor. Whilst the wheels were out it was a good opportunity to inspect the chain and rear and front sprockets for wear. Elsie has trotted along now for 20,000 miles (made in 1992) and she wears her original set. They seemed in good nick, but I had bought in replacements in case, so it was a chance to put the drive into original condition.

Next job was to fit a top box. Since 1974 I had used such, attaching it to each new bike, but when I sold my last Royal Enfield it went with it. The Craven company has been revived and a replica is now available. Standard boxes come in black or white but for an extra thirty quid they will attempt to match your bike if you send them a paint sample. A girl likes to be colour co-ordinated so this I did for Elsie.


The difficulty was that she is becoming a "classic", in very original condition and only has a vestigal rear rack, which I wanted to preserve, so thought was needed.


Luckily I had in the odds and ends box a larger rear rack without any fittings, but how to fit this using Elsie's  existing rack was an interesting problem. First I needed to locate it so that measurements could be taken. So a hole was drilled through it and the existing rack and a bolt put through


Having worked out measurements I then constructed the brackets


Since I wanted to interfere a little as possible with the original rack these were located by a "sandwich" method using large robust washers and bolts


Finally I augmented the small locating bolt I had first fitted with a couple of stainless steel hose clips tightened well down.


Job done!


Fiddling around with motorcycles is almost as much fun as riding them!



Monday, October 22, 2018

SAT-NAV WOES

It was a bright but breezy day and I decided to leave Ashford by the old Roman road through Aldington, once, no doubt a major highway but, some 2000 years later just a narrow lane. The sun and wind were on my back so it was warm and easy going.

Dropping down the escarpment at Lympne to The Marsh I turned into the wind and found it VERY breezy. I decided to take a break at the Lathe Barn cafe/restuarant where I knew I could sit on the patio in the sun but out of the wind. A group of cyclists was already there, so I passed the time of day and asked where they had ridden from. "We have just come up from Camber", one replied.

I suggested that they would find the going heavier on their return as it would be all head wind cycling and suggested that they might find an ebike like mine of some use."Yeah, I was thinking that maybe your bike would just suit me", said on of them, who, I noticed had no left leg below the knee. I commented that his injury did not stop him cycling and asked how it happened. "Stepped on a mine in Afghanistan. Cycling is part of my physical and mental recovery", was the clipped reply.

After a pleasant 30 minutes in their company and with a cream/jam scone and pot of tea inside me I made to set off again in their intended direction. "Race you!", shouted the ex-army guy. I demurred, preferring my own gentle 12 mph pace, alone. It was a clear day with typical Marsh skies and, in spite of the head wind the electric genie gave steady going.


However, a couple of miles after I stopped to take the above shot I rounded a corner of the lane to be confronted by this.


One expects to see the odd dead badger by the side of the lanes, but not a full length, 16.5 metre, 44 tonne, 12 wheeled artic blocking the way completely. In fact my only way past was to squeeze self and bike through the gap on the left between the hedge and lorry.

A Dutch driver, he was about 5 miles in any direction from a suitable road (for him) and had obviously got lost and was trying by satnav to reach such a road. A lot of HGV drivers seem to use car-type satnavs which are not at all suitable for behemoths which try to negotiate "lanes which wind like streams among the hedgerows" (to quote Betjeman, who enjoyed Romney Marsh). In fact their winding is to follow the dykes which cover this corner of Kent and all these lanes have deep ditches to each side which the driver found out to his cost when trying to get round this tight corner, putting his offside rear six wheels down into the 8 foot gully.


Engaging satnav must have switched off his brain because he passed a sign about 200 yards before this warning of a small bridge a mile ahead which he could never have crossed (assuming he could have negotiated the succession of tight corners to it). Note how he had destroyed one support of the sign, (see his wheel ruts). I managed to bend it back so it could be read.


In my years of training coach drivers I always insisted that, if they had to use a satnav, it was one designed for large vehicles and to KEEP THE BRAIN ACTIVE TO MAKE SURE THE ROADS WERE SUITABLE.

I much prefer maps. One can see everything around you and where the roads go, not putting one's trust into the "keyhole"view or disembodied voice of a Satnav. I have never owned one, although I grant that they could have their uses when negotiating strange towns.