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Monday, September 13, 2021

CANNOT KEEP AWAY FROM THEM!

 


A few posts ago I mentioned that , after nearly 65 years of  riding "proper" motorcycles I had joined the dark side and bought a new "twist 'n go" scooter .

However all those years have so much engraved themselves on my riding that I found the scooter bored me solid. Everything worked, nothing to fettle and the ride was about as involving as a kitchen chair on wheels! So I sold it and bought this "barn find" (6 years at the back of an old garage). A 1997 "classic" with a bit of a difference. Uncommon in the UK but very popular in the USA and OZ. A Suzuki TU250x with 20,000 miles on the clock. Just surface rust on chrome, paintwork good, sounds and goes like a MOTORBIKE. And something with which to get my hands dirty again.

So I fitted a couple of new tyres (old ones cracked with age) and while the wheels were off new chain and sprockets (adding an extra tooth to the front sprocket to drop the revs a bit) and new front brake disk and pads. 

It will chug along sweetly at my preferred 50 mph around the lanes and cruise easily at a legal maximum 60 mph on country main roads with enough in hand for brisk overtakes (it's top speed would be around 80 mph). Motorways I avoid as totally boring.

Yes, that left foot gear change gives me a challenge since my stroke left me with neuropathy in left leg and foot,  but at least it is a challenge and something to practice and smooth out. That scooter felt to me like one step away from an invalid buggy. 

It's wonderful to be back! As long as I can hold it up I'll ride it.

Monday, July 12, 2021

ROXY


Roxy came to us in 2016 as can be viewed in this link. I had been used to German Shepherds, but, following a stroke and wanting another dog, I did not feel I could manage another Shepherd. She was a perfect little bitch who quickly became my shadow, following me everywhere and sleeping outside my bedroom door.

Recently she stopped eating and lost 3 Kilograms - a lot for a little dog whose normal weight was only 14.5 Kilos.The vet checked her over and said they could do x-rays and body scans. It would cost £500 and they could do it in about 10 days time and to go away and think about it. A crafty move. For two evenings I watched her panting and refusing to take tit bits. Not bearing to see her like it any longer I decided to take her back again to be put down (the final act of love for a much loved dog).

In the past she has walked quite happily into the vets but this time she pulled back on her lead and refused to walk up the path. In the end I had to pick her up and carry her in. Somehow she knew - weird!

The same vet saw her and said he had detected swollen lymph glands on the last visit, but had given me the option of further tests. I said I thought we both knew that the trouble was probably tumours - he did not reply but gave me a "meaningful" look.

Her end was peaceful and remarkably quick. A simple injection and she "went to sleep" with me stroking her head and murmering "Good girl". Would that humans could have this option to a peaceful end to life.

I am bereft and the house seems empty. Should I get another rescue dog? I am 82, would it be fair to the animal if I died soon and left it without me? Maybe another mature dog (Roxy was about 7 years old when she came to us). We shall see....

I have done mostly what most men do,
And pushed it out of my mind;
But I can’t forget, if I wanted to,
Four-Feet trotting behind.

Day after day, the whole day through—
Wherever my road inclined—
Four-Feet said, ‘I am coming with you!’
And trotted along behind.

Now I must go by some other round,—
Which I shall never find—
Somewhere that does not carry the sound
Of Four-Feet trotting behind.

                                                               Rudyard Kipling. 


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

A "WORKING LUNCH"

 Spring has truly sprung this week and a morning ride on the ebike meant that I could actually leave off a couple of layers of clothing; sun pleasant and warming on my back.

I decided on a complete change of route and abandoned Romney Marsh for a wander in the Kent Weald. My route took me into the Wealden village of Smarden, a lovely spot best described by this quote:

"This enchanting village was established in around the 14th-century at the time when the forests of the Weald of Kent were being cut down to make way for permanent villages. Smarden, is little more than one street, yet it has a host of attractive properties including large half timbered houses built by prosperous wool merchants during the 17th-century.

At the time when the forests were being cleared to make way for sheep, King Edward III chose to grant Smarden a charter to hold a weekly market, his thinking was, that this would encourage the wool trade, and how right he was. Wealthy merchants came to do trade and they settled here and built magnificent homes for themselves and their families. They also donated generously to the church. The charter granted by Edward III was endorsed by Queen Elizabeth I and hangs in the church to this day."

Being in the edge of what was once the Wealden forest of Anderida the whole village is built of wood. The large merchants' houses referred to above and the village street full of weather-boarded cottages.

I entered the village and made for the church, since experience tells me that one usually finds a bench in a churchyard and sitting on the ground is OK but getting up again is difficult without something to hold onto these days.


Ensconced in the cosy corner seat to the right of the blue porch door I settled down to enjoy a pork pie and a flask of tea. The church is in an angle of the village so the paths across the yard are used as a shortcut. An upright old gent came by and stopped. "I see you are enjoying sustenance on this warm day." His exact speech and dress complimented the overall image I had formed.

I had parked the bike on its prop stand on the other side of the path and he was obviously interested. "I have considered one of these machines to get around the village" he said, poking it with his walking stick as a farmer would poke a favourite pig.

I said that this was my fifth ebike since a stroke and it was a marvellous way of getting about and keeping active.

 "I have a car and seldom use it, but walking is beginning to get tiresome. Are they expensive?" he queried, beginning to explore the handlebars and their controls.

The upshot was that I provided him with the contact details of Ebikes Direct, my supplier at not too far away Bodiam. I think I must ask them for commission on any referrals since the amount of interest I get and conversations generated on stops is quite encouraging.

A "working lunch" indeed.


Thursday, January 14, 2021

MOTHER GRIZZLY BEAR AND PLUCKY CUB

 

A parable for these times.

Keep going, folks!



Saturday, January 09, 2021

COVID 21st. CENTURY v PLAGUE 17th CENTURY

 


In two successive years of the 17th century London suffered two terrible disasters. In the spring and summer of 1665 an outbreak of Bubonic Plague spread from parish to parish until thousands had died and the huge pits dug to receive the bodies were full. 

Bubonic Plague was known as the Black Death and had been known in England for centuries. It was a ghastly disease. The victim’s skin turned black in patches and inflamed glands or ‘buboes’ in the groin, combined with compulsive vomiting, swollen tongue and splitting headaches made it a horrible, agonizing killer. (Covid seems a pussy cat in comparison)

The plague started in the East, possibly China (What's new?) and quickly spread through Europe. Whole communities were wiped out and corpses littered the streets as there was no one left to bury them.


Monday, December 28, 2020

CHRISTMAS ELEVENSES

Christmas morning 2020. Very quiet. No frost but extremely cold north wind when I took the dog for her morning walk at about 8.00am.

No visitors either that day to cater for, so no traditional lunch for us to worry about. Mrs Avus was cosily ensconced in an armchair engrossed in a crossword (what's new) so I decided on a Christmas morning bike ride.

The temperature meant that I did not intend to go far and since no cafes are open I decided on a route that would bring me home in about two hours with an elevenses break halfway. That would mean somewhere to sit off the bike and that would mean looking for a churchyard on the route. They are usually equipped with a seat somewhere for weary pilgrims.

An ebike means that I am still able to continue cycling, thank God, at 82, post stroke. However I don't manage to work up any body heat since the electric genie does most of the work. However the fact that my arthritic legs revolve on the pedals helps to keep them from seizing them up! But with the temperature at 5C and the chill north wind it was going to seem like below freezing.

So layers of clothing were needed. A Damart thermolactyl long sleeve vest (top grade 5), heavy shirt, fleece sweat shirt and then a Corrine Dennis waterproof/windproof cycling jacket (in fluorescent yellow - I like to be seen). Legs were taken care of with knee length merino wool socks and full length woollen legwarmers, topped with a pair of Hebden Cord traditional cycling trousers, a make long gone. (the fact that these I have worn for 20 years and are only the third pair in my 65 years cycling shows why the firm went under. They are too well made and Lycra, which I abhor, has taken over).

I put on a silk balaclava under my cycling helmet, donned a pair of golfing mitts and was ready to go.

By golly it was cold, but the northerly was behind me and I reached Bilsington church for elevenses, a mince pie and whiskey laced coffee.


Here is the view in the opposite direction the close up blur is because with cold fingers I couldn't be bothered to go for a larger "f stop"! I think it was colder sitting there than actually riding along.

So it was a case of finishing off the flask of coffee then back on the bike to dive down the escarpment and circulate a bit of Romney Marsh before heading for home. Into that north wind,


Only about 13 miles home but even with all those layers I felt close to hypothermia when I got there! My feet were like solid blocks.

Friday, December 18, 2020

GOOD WISHES TO ALL OF YOU


A Christmas Card to wish all my fellow bloggers good health and happiness over this curious Christmas and for 2021 which I hope will be better for us all.

It is by one of my favourite artists, Anna Dillon and depicts Whitefield Hill, Wiltshire in February. I suppose she could claim copyright, but it is a good introduction to her work if you don't know of her.

2020 has been a poor year for Mrs Avus and me. My heart attack in June led to me being infected by Covid whilst in hospital, which I then gave to her as well. Soon after we emerged from that (fortunately mild) she turned yellow and stopped eating and was eventually diagnosed with a small tumour on her pancreas.This was successfully removed by a "Whipple Procedure" .

But I expect you all have encountered enough doom and gloom this year. So who would have thought that our best, joint Christmas present  was a phone call from our doctor inviting us two 82 year olds in for the first of the two anti-covid jabs tomorrow. Hurrah! Grey skies clear and angels sing Noël!

Try to keep safe and well, folks.