Saturday, December 20, 2008
As my present , may I introduce you to Britain's foremost cycling artist, Frank Patterson.
Elegant work and nostalgia for a more gentle time.
If you like his work can I suggest a further link where there is also a delightful Youtube presentation of his work. Enjoy!
I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and healthy 2009.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
So let's introduce our old friends to each other and post shots of our bookshelves. They will be a good read and might provide inspiration for new reading.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
A crisp Autumn morning warranted a 12 mile cycle ride to the sea. The best bacon baguettes I have ever eaten can be had at a little seafront cafe in the small town of Dymchurch.
Warm and crisp with lean bacon and plenty of butter (and brown sauce, of course).
Join me sometime!
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
A guest to our country, let's talk about Lieutenant Johnson. His memorial is known as "Johnson's Corner" and the "Stars and Stripes" flies proudly over the English countryside there every day.
These faded poppies from last year will soon be renewed on November 11th.
(click images to enlarge)
There is a citation, obviously written by one of his surviving aircrew. One must do justice by quoting it in full:
Lt. W. JOHNSON US 8th Army Air Force.
This Corner is named after, and the Stone erected to one of the courageous Airmen of the Second World War. He gave his life to save his crew.
Pilot Lt. W. Johnson & crew, flew from Rattlesden, Suffolk in a B17. Take off time was 4.40 am. on Friday 13th. April 1944. Their target being the Messerschmitt Factory at Augsburg, Germany.
When in formation, their position being No. 4 Lead Squadron, they crossed the English Channel, entering into enemy territory between Ostend and Dunkirk. No flak for the first 90 miles. Then! All of a sudden, there were black puffs of smoke and cracking noises, bouncing the plane about.
Lt. Whitely, co-pilot, reported No. 4 engine stopping and No. 3 not running well. Finally, with No. 3 feathered (Turning the propeller blades into the wind to stop wind milling.) they left formation and headed for home. Flying over Abbeville France at 23,000 ft. they were hit by heavy flak. No 1 & 2 engines still running, they were losing height about 500 ft. per minute.
Orders were given to Sgt. Williams (right waist gunner), to dump all loose items and start to remove the Ball Turret. All bombs were dropped. Sgt. Zeiger (left waist gunner) was to stay on intercom and help Sgt.J Higgins (radio & gunner). Sgt. P. Simpson (ball turret gunner ) and Sgt. Williams were told to release the ball turret. They nearly went with it. We were hit continuously over Abbeville. Looking down through the ball turret hole it looked like the 4th. of July. ( Independence Day.)
The plane was badly damaged. The crew suffered casualties. Lt. Nye (bombardier) had a badly damaged arm, Lt. Francher (navigator) had quite a hole in his leg, but kept them on course in spite of the pain. Lt. Whitely had a hole in his wrist.
The plane’s cables were shot out, No. 2 engine was running but not good. They crossed the channel with No. 1 engine at maximum revs. The port fuel tanks were very low and fuel could not be transferred from the starboard tanks because the electrical pump had failed and the wabble pump had been hit. When they finally left enemy territory they were at about 12,000 ft. and they were losing altitude faster now that they only had one good engine. They prepared for ditching in the Channel. Sgt. Higgins notified Air Sea Rescue. Lt. Fancher said they would see land in a few minutes. Looking down, an Air Sea Rescue boat was below them, just in case they had to bale out over water. They crossed the British Coastline near Hythe at 2,000 ft. The oil line on number 2 engine fractured and immediately caught fire. The flames came past Sgt. Zeigler’s waist gunners window. He then noticed that the horizontal stabliser was missing.
Lt. Johnson gave the order to bail out.
Lt. Johnson, Lt. Whitely and Lt. Fancher, using their skills, is the reason they all returned even though they were badly wounded. Sgt. Hazzard (engineer & gunner) did an excellent job of giving medical aid, and should have been given an award.
They started to bail out at Lympne over Romney Marsh. Sgt. Zeiger states that when his parachute opened he noticed that the main wings were very badly damaged. They looked as though a can opener had been at work. The last man out jumped at 800 ft. leaving just the Pilot, Lt. Johnson, who died when the plane crashed.
The crew were very saddened at the loss of Lt. Johnson, as they knew that he gave them priority.
Lt. Johnson was nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross posthumously.
Friday, October 03, 2008
HerHimnBryn emailed this link to me. I enjoy clocks and watches (the mechanical kind) and this really floated my boat. I just had to share it with you all.
It is derived from John Harrison's wonderful clock of the 1700's (this is a long link, but the fascinating story it tells is well worth perseverence).
Thursday, October 02, 2008
(apparently this "Penny-Farthing Band - German - is available for hire)Barrett Bonden asked me about my cycle gearing in my previous posting and I said that my lowest gear was "23 inches". A non-cyclist would be justified in saying "pardon?" So I thought you might like to know the history behind this calculation.
In English speaking countries cycle gearing is usually measured in inches. You don't really need to know what these inches stand for, just that a large number makes you push harder to go faster whereas a small gear allows you to winch yourself slowly uphill.
Gear inches come from the days when geared bicycles superseded the ‘ordinary’ – now known as a penny-farthing. This had its pedals fixed directly to the front wheel and if you wanted to go faster you needed a larger one. So bicycles were rated by the diameter of this wheel. A 52inch ordinary bicycle was big and potentially fast for its time, but only a tall man could ride it.
Then the safety bicycle was invented, on which all modern bicycles are based and in which the pedals are connected to the rear wheel by a chain and gears. These make the wheel turn faster (or slower) according to the ratio of front chainwheel divided by rear sprocket. A gear ratio of 48 by 16 for example, makes the wheel turn three times for one turn of the pedals. The effect is the same as if the pedals were fixed directly to a wheel three times as big, making a 26 inch wheel equivalent to one of 78 inch diameter. Such a bicycle was said to be geared to 78 inches – that would be one heck of a tall penny-farthing!
This system may be antiquated, but referring all gearing arrangements (including hub gears) back to a simple size of directly driven wheel gives us an easy way to compare all sorts of pedal cycles.
To calculate gear size you enter the diameter (in inches - or metric people could enter it in cms) of the actual wheel, and the numbers of teeth on the front chainwheel and rear sprocket, into the following formula:
Gear = Wheel × Chainwheel ÷ Sprocket
Not a lot of people knew that! But now you do. My lowest gear (23 inches or 58 cm)would have me riding an old penny-farthing with a front wheel that size - it would be like a small child's bike!
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
At last, back on a firm road, I made my way through Rye's mediaeval gate into the ancient town.
And so at last to Lydd - it's name sounds Welsh (but is Saxon). In fact it could hardly be farther from Wales, being the most southeastern town in Britain. I say town, but really a large village.
I step inside, letting the door thud shut.
Another church: matting, seats and stone,
And little books; sprawlings of flowers, cut
For Sunday, brownish now: some brass and stuff
Up at the holy end; the small neat organ;
And a tense, musty, unignorable silence,
Brewed God knows how long. Hatless, I take off
My cycle clips in awkward reverence…………..
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
What a magnificent name - they don't write 'em like that any more! I see that his wife, Ann, only outlasted him by a month (who says you cannot die of a broken heart?)
Friday, June 20, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Saturday, May 31, 2008
A couple of weeks way down West are planned. First to our beloved and nostalgic Cornwall. We return to a little farm site just south of Launceston most years. It is centrally located for the coast and the moors.
Then stopping over for a week in Dorset on the way back (near Cerne Abbas, with its ancient, priapic hill figure).
The weather forecast is not too good (my neighbour says he always knows when wet weather is going to set in - it is when we go on holiday!) Still - we take it as it comes.
Catch y'all later.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
We now fast-forward to 2008. John is now 82. He always vowed to keep on riding his Rudge, but has reached the stage where he can no longer lift his leg over the cross-bar. To keep on riding (he has my respect) he bought a modern, open-framed bike. The Rudge was oiled up and stored, but he felt it a shame that it was no longer used and (reluctantly) advertised it for sale in the Veteran-Cycle Club's magazine for £100 (a satisfactory mark-up as it cost £28 in 1961).
This is where I come in. I saw the advert, then forgot it. 3 weeks later I re-read it, thought I would give him a ring, although I guessed it would have been sold. But no, he "had been mucked about" and it was still there. So I made the trip to West London and spent a morning with John and his wife (his reminiscenses were worth £50 alone!) and paid the full price for his beautiful, original and much loved machine. Here he proudly displays it on the day of sale:
The chaincase protects the drive and means that one can ride it without resorting to trouser clips, or tucking them in your socks to avoid oil stains
Lighting is provided by the still working Sturmey-Archer hub dynamo set in stainless steel wheel rims and the magnificently chromed head lamp. Gearing (very low) is by Sturmey-Archer 3 speed in the rear hub.
The bell gives out a sonorous "ding-dong", befitting the bicycle's dignity, whilst the stand enables it to stand alone (nothing so common as leaning it against a wall!)
Fortunately your average bicycle thief would not give the bike a second glance (they only seem to pinch mountain bikes) - however the Rudge comes with a built in fork lock (John even supplied the two original keys)
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
HHnB writes about her childhood memories of Bluebells, so I thought that I would give her a treat and publish a few photos just taken in the wood over the way from here.
Anne Bronte's poem on the subject seems particularly apposite:
"There is a silent eloquence
In every wild bluebell
That fills my softened heart with bliss
That words could never tell "
and is worth reading in full, H
Anne Bronte's sister Emily, also wrote a poem on the same subject, but I prefer Anne's.
Of course, the dog, Sabre, had to get in on the photoshoot. Some children had left a rope swing which he decided was worth playing with. He is 11 (77 in human years) but still thinks he can act like a kid (a bit like the bloke he lives with, I suppose!)