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Thursday, October 10, 2019

Desk top clocks (for Roderick Robinson)

Roderick Robinson has a problem with putting a clock on his desktop PC since changing from Windows 7 to Windows 10.

I needed to buy a new PC and it came with Windows 10, which I abhorred. So I asked my pet professional to install Windows 7 on it. I don't know about Windows 10, but in the older setup one simply goes into "Gadgets", selects the clock and clicks to install:

He also mentions that I used to display a clock by my blog's header and it has disappeared. I had not noticed! But Blogger has done some curious stuff recently and I shall need to go back and consult the HMTL of my older blogs to see what's up.

Meanwhile has anyone any ideas why this should have happened?

Wednesday, September 11, 2019


I usually home in on a country churchyard somewhere when out on the e-bike. Once it was because I had an antiquary interest in medieval churches. That's till the case but in my stiff old age I need  a break from the saddle after 12 miles or so. The days are gone when I could just lounge on the grass - I would find it difficult to arise now, but a seat always seem to be available in a churchyard for a rest (and there is always a pew inside if cold or inclement.)

So, making for  Kenardington church, I passed a nearby farm

I was sitting in the churchyard, coffee in hand and musing on that farm's name, watching a man mowing around the many ancient gravestones. As he drew closer I called out a "good morning". Which resulted in him stopping the engine for a chat. "Any idea why the farm down the road is called "Battle Hill Farm", I enquired. He settled beside me on the seat. "Well you've come to just the right person. I own the farm and, for my sins, am the churchwarden - all the work and little thanks.

" Close to where we are now was once an Alfred the Great era Saxon fort. My farm has been so called for centuries from, I suppose, a folk memory. But I have done a lot of research and the reason is that this was once on the edge of an estuary inlet from the river Rother, you can see where it was looking over to the valley over there.

"Well Viking longships rowed up there, attacked the half finished fort, established a base here and went along to ravage Appledore,, then a seaport, about three miles away.King Alfred had established other forts at Newenden and Lympne and soon got reinforcements along the coast to deal with the Viking camp and smashed the lot!"

Seeing my interest and answering my questions had obviously established that I was not just a chance tourist. "I have often picked up stuff from that battle site, bits and pieces of armour and a couple of swords, whilst ploughing over it. I keep them in the farm office, do you want to pop back down the hill to see them?"

Of course I was interested! When he had put the mower away we went down a footpath to the farm. He had quite a collection and I was reaching for my camera when he requested no photographs and did not want to tell me the exact  field where he had made the finds.

"I don't want it shared around or I shall have metal detectorists and the county archaeologist all over the place. But I felt your interest and I don't often get the chance to show off my hobby."

Well the  half hour coffee stop turned into over an hour's involvement, but a leisurely life on a bike is possible when you are a retired 80 year old!

Thursday, July 04, 2019


Those who read a recent post of mine will remember the unsuitable Raleigh crank drive ebike I injudiciously bought. It did sell eventually but I lost £600 over the deal.

Having given the dust (and Mrs Avus) time to settle I looked around once more to replace my Freego bike as that firm went into administration. They had three containers of ebikes on the high seas from China when the EU slapped a 38% import tariff on stuff from there, resulting in bankruptcy.

The result was a Wisper bike - the nearest in spec. to my original Freego, in "Stealth Black".

After experiencing a couple of road test rides I can report that I am pleased with it. It is well equipped and of good quality. I specified the optional 700 watt, long range battery which , the way I ride, should give about 75 miles before a recharge is needed. Since my maximum day ride, in my senility, is no more than 40 miles that will do nicely.

The motor, located in the rear wheel is very powerful. Although rated at the maximum legally  permissible 250 Watts it will power the bike along on pedal assist to about 18 mph. (legal limit for ebikes in the EU is 15.5 mph). Having a weak left leg since a stroke I need an independent  throttle to give me a push off. Again, these have been made illegal in the EU, but a 4 mph "walk assist"  mode to help with pushing a heavily laden bike is acceptable. Wisper have circumvented the throttle legislation by making the twist grip work to 4mph, pedal free, but as soon as the pedals are turned the full throttle takes over. Apparently it's legal as long as the pedals need to be turning. What a ridiculous situation!

Once I am under way I never use the throttle, preferring the exercise and leg movement of the pedal assistance. Again, the power of the unaided throttle is strictly illegal since it will waft the bike up to 20 mph!

My only bleat, and this applies to all ebikes, is the ridiculously high overall gearing caused by the 52 tooth front chainring. I shall do my usual conversion and fit a 42 tooth one asap. To see what I am on about see my previous post about cycle gearing.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019


Our emigrant daughter and her Australian husband (HHnB blog of yore) are staying with us for a month. As they have both been converted to the true religion (motorcycling) he decided to hire a couple of bikes whilst over here to bimble around the Kentish countryside.

However, to collect them meant a 40 mile trip to Tonbridge from Ashford, so I was enlisted as chauffeur. Sod's Law meant a day of teeming rain, but they endured  and my daughter actually enjoyed that feeling of brisk accomplishment when they returned. Here they are, suitably wrapped up at Tonbridge ready for me to lead them back to Ashford.

Fortunately the weather cleared subsequently and I hoisted out my own motorcycle as Susan wanted to experience some father/daughter rides around Romney Marsh and the Kentish Weald - but boy, it was windy!

We stopped off at Rye Harbour to enjoy a bikers' break at the Bosun's Bite. I tried to do justice to my sausage sandwich, but confess to leaving the crusts! (I shall never get curly hair)

Also enjoyed were runs out to Dungeness to sample lunch at The Pilot, a pub/restaurant near the foreshore constructed around the original which is built of wrecked ship timbers.

They enjoyed themselves, as their faces show

Time came to return the bikes. The English weather obliged by dropping down storm force rain and the ride back to Tonbridge (during the morning rush hour) was hell. Two very wet relations returned in my car. At least they can rely on weeks of decent (if hot) weather in Oz!

The following day I relaxed by taking the ebike for a peaceful poodle down to a country churchyard on the Marsh. My elevenses were a little more delicate than the gustatory fare in the sausage image - pain au chocolat and coffee laced with whiskey.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

E BIKE DILEMMA - A Cautionary Tale.

I have been a cyclist all my life (life member of the Cyclists' Touring Club), but had a stroke some 4 years ago which has left me with severe nerve damage to my left leg/foot. This means weakness in that area and pain if I indulge in any activity that pressurises it, so I cannot walk far. Thus an ebike seemed my only remedy.

For my first experiment I bought a kit and converted my own Claud Butler bicycle. To date I have now owned three ebikes and  I have been quite satisfied with my present Freego Eagle over two years and some 5,000 miles .

This bike uses a motor in its back wheel. You dial in a level of power assistance. A small magnetic disk behind the chainwheel circulates with it and a sensor picks up its signal and sends it to the motor. which then attempts to put in enough power to maintain that level of assistance as you cycle along. Being manufactured before the latest "pedalec" laws (which outlaws them) it also has an independent handlebar throttle which will power the machine up to 16 mph without pedalling. I find this useful to give me a "push" to move off or when crossing busy intersections.

However, Freego has recently gone into administration (something to do with increased European tariffs on Chinese products, which had reduced their profit margins).  So I decided to look around for a new ebike. The Raleigh Motus Tour (made in  EU Hungary for Raleigh of Nottingham) is the current head of reviews for normal touring ebikes.

This bike uses a Bosch electric crank drive, which is supposedly more efficient with low-down torque for slow hill climbing. The motor is neat, integrated into the bottom bracket and controlled by a handlebar mounted computer display.

 The motor works by sensing the level of pressure the rider puts into the pedals and powers the revolving cranks accordingly. There is no independent throttle. The "pedalec" law makes them illegal and since the pedals need to be exerting pressure for the motor to operate it would not be possible anyway.

I tested this latter bike at the dealer's around their industrial estate which had one small hill. Allowing for the strangeness of a new system, I felt OK with it and ordered one.(they were doing a special spring offer, knocking about £300 off the £2,000 book price, which was an additional inducement.)

It was delivered to me and on Easter Saturday I rode it for 17 miles, towards the end in great pain. Over that Easter weekend I was in subsequent agony as a result, with sleepless nights. My Freego Eagle never caused me such and analysing this I can only put it down to the way each system is activated. The Freego wheel motor will output power when the pedals turn (even without actual pressure on them). The Bosch crank drive needs pressure input to the pedals before it "wakes up".

Thank goodness I had kept that Freego! I asked if the dealer could give me a refund on the Raleigh, but they only deal in new bikes and said this was now "used". How enthusiastic they were to sell it to me and how uninterested they were in my subsequent problem.I am now advertising the bike for sale and will, no doubt incur a fair loss - that'll teach me!

Monday, March 25, 2019


I see that the Post Office is trialling postal ebikes - an encouraging sign for the future. I hope it takes off. 

But those central low hanging derailleur tension arms look very vulnerable to lumps and bumps. Also if the rider (driver?) comes to an unexpected halt (it quite often can happen in town riding) and they have not changed down the gears, which requires the pedals to be in motion with a derailleur, can you imagine trying to move off in a high gear with that weight behind you - even with electrical assistance.

It would appear far better to install a Shimano Nexus type hub gear in the nearside driven wheel. More compact, much less vulnerable and any gear can be selected whilst stationary.

I want one for winter cycling, but without that large back container (although I suppose it could be converted into a cosy coffee break retreat!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019


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!