Friday, 13 November 2009

Weapon of Choice...

It's probably a sad indictment of the perilous times we live in that I feel it necessary to carry a weapon (and a couple of King Edward spuds) at all times...
The spud gun pictured is, sadly, not an original Lone Star Spud-Matic but it's a testament to it's efficacy that the design has stood the test of time and is still available...
Of course it's all fun and games until someone gets an eye put out...

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Lavatory Library....

I know this only happens because I allow it to happen but certain books seem to gravitate toward the lavatory...
It's a way of assuring that they are never read again...
Here's a list:
  1. The Little Book of Farting
  2. Far Out (101 Strange Tales From Science's Outer Edge)
  3. The Ultimate Pub Trivia Quiz
  4. Crap Towns I
  5. Crap Towns II
  6. The Big Book of Bodily Functions
  7. The Art Book
  8. Coleman Balls 5
  9. Naughty Wit
  10. A Surprisingly Soothing Book of Harmony
  11. The Time Waster Letters
  12. The Nation's Favourite Poems
  13. Boring Postcards
  14. Dugouts
  15. Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down
  16. The Mammoth Book of Jokes
  17. Shott's Original Miscellany
  18. The Enthusiast Almanack
  19. Shott's Almanack 2006
  20. Shott's Almanack 2008
  21. 1001 Country DIY Hints
I'd scoop them all up and put them in one of the many charity bags we get through the letter box each week (except for Boring Postcards) but Christmas is coming and the space would just fill up again...
Ho hum...

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Now That's What I Call Experimental...!

MUSIC OF TODAY


Errr...?
Click on the picture...

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Phew..!

It may not look like it but this represents a significant breakthrough...
I've been sat in the lab for several weeks unable to make, repair or restore anything...
I sift though my collections of bits and bobs trying to visualise which part of a larger whole they may be...
Nothing ...
Then...
I found a German soldier washed up on the beach...
Some horrific circumstance had deprived him of his legs so I set about giving him a suitable alternative...
"Werde ich jemals wieder laufen?"
"Jawohl mein herr"

The Men Who Stare At Goats...

I don't actually remember how I heard about this practice:
The Men Who Stare At Goats
I'm aware that Mr. Key of Hooting Yard has suggested that staring at pigs in a pig sty is a useful palliative for the neurasthenic and that goats (usually toggenburgs) turn up with alarming frequency in his writing but I'm sure he's never mentioned, or recommended, killing goats by staring at them...
I have produced a small tableau, using nativity figures, to illustrate what this dubious martial art might look like...

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Sundry Mortifications No.5 Stylophone Beatbox...


I thought I'd left my enthusiasm for electronic music behind many, many years ago...
Then I saw the new Stylophone Beatbox and pre-ordered one immediately...
I suspect this 'toy' will only hold my attention for a short while before I suck the fun out of it but that short while will be wonder-filled...

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Home Entertainment...

Here we see Linda playing Super Mario World on a SNES...
Linda's very good at video games...
I lack the necessary hand/eye coordination for this type of entertainment but enjoy watching Linda navigate the game nonetheless (even though it makes her swear... a lot...)
Linda's favourite game is Tomb Raider and, happily, I can be of some assistance whilst she plays this by reading out the game walk-though...
The winter evenings will just fly by...

Feral Shoes No. 9...

Drowned on the Shripney Road...

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Adventures In Modern Cycling No. 12: Winter Draws On...

Time to prepare for cycling through winter...
The 'Dobson's' wheels have been re-fitted to the 'Black Tractor' and work will now begin on turning it into an ever-so-fashionable 'fixie' for next year...
I took the opportunity to completely strip the rear end of the 'Black Tractor' and finally put an end to the rattles and clanks that have plagued the rides I've taken on it over the recent months...
Today was another bright, if breezy, day. I went out for a spin around the Bognor boundaries to make sure I'd got everything tighten up properly and discovered an address that I think I'd rather like to live at...
It's just off a road called Dark Lane...

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Let Joy Be Unconfined...

I have a new pair of heavy duty black rubber gloves...!

Adventures In Modern Cycling No. 11: With Linda...

Linda wants to go for a bike ride. Where shall we go..?
Fontwell Race Course Car Boot Fair via the Barnham Link Cycle Way seems like a good idea (even though it's closed for re-surfacing)...
It's one of those sunny autumn days where everything seems to be in sharp focused full colour...
I make a purchase at the boot fair...
Dynamo and front lamp for a quid..!
It works as well. Bonus...!
We then meander through leafy country lanes toward the Aldingbourne Country Centre for coffee and cake (or a Cornish pasty in Linda's case) and a quick wander round the nature trail to look at the empty bird boxes...
On to Slindon to view the pumpkin/marrow display...
I'm not at all impressed by pumpkins and shall stick to carving out a turnip (well, a swede) to keep the evil spirits at bay and speak it wisdom to me during All Hallows' eve..
Linda is happy...

Tooth and Claw...

I was moved to add a comment on a recent Hooting Yard posting relating to weasels...
Having re-read it I can understand how many people might find it truly chilling...
I grew up in an isolated area of the Yorkshire dales on what, at one time, had been quite a grand country estate. It was populated by an odd collection of 'characters' including homicidal game-keepers, sinister gardeners, war maddened farm labourers and the tyrannical ex-colonial lords of the manor. Believe me when I say that, when I first saw it, Rawlinson End seemed like a documentary to me...
Death was everywhere and in plain view...
In the comment I made I described an incident from my childhood (I'd be about 4 years old) when a weasel entered a pheasant incubator, killed the chicken that was acting as a surrogate mother and the pheasant chicks she was raising. The game-keeper caught a weasel (I'm not sure it was the actual culprit), killed it and nailed it to a nearby fence..
The fences round about were covered in these sad little corpses the 'folk-lore' being that they served as a warning to others, a more cynical view might be that it demonstrated to the landowners that the game-keeper was doing his job...
The period after Christmas was especially disturbing. Animals that had been given as gifts were driven to the country and 'set free' having been found more of a commitment than the new owners were willing to deal with. Cats and dogs then joined the ranks of the crucified.
If there were no convenient fences the transgressors would be hung by lengths of string from the branches of trees. During my play-time wanderings I regularly bumped into crows and moles that suffered this fate...
As if all this wasn't horrific enough, the playground of the junior school I attended backed directly onto the holding area of the village butcher's abattoir. We gleeful infants would feed handfuls of grass to the cows, pigs and sheep held there and on our way home would hold our noses as we passed their stinking, fly covered skins draped over the walls alongside the road...
I wanted to write a conclusion to all this that would put some kind of perspective on it all...
I can't. They're facts of my life, the way things were...

(It will be understood why I chose not to add a picture to illustrate any of the above...)

Monday, 12 October 2009

Adventures in Modern Cycling No. 10: The Gridiron 100k Randonnee'...

I did it...
It took me five hours...
The weather was boring. Grey sky, occasional drizzle and a head wind to make the last few miles a little more grueling than necessary...

I encountered the following livestock:
  • Donkeys.
  • Horses.
  • Pigs.
  • Sheep.
  • Cows.
The strangest bicycle on the ride:
It was manufactured by the Saint Etienne Bicycle Company. The strange bit about this bike, rider aside, is the gearing. Two gears, pedal forward for the high gear, pedal backward for the low gear. I found it truly disturbing to watch this bike being ridden up hill.

At the checkpoints I ate the following biscuits:
  • 1 Custard Cream
  • 2 Two Digestives
  • 2 Bourbons
Washed down with coffee..
A brief over-view of each stage:
Stage 1: Boldre - Hyde. Not as bad as I thought.
Stage 2: Hyde - Colbury. I'm surprised at how well I'm doing.
Stage 3: Colbury - Boldre. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggg the pain...

The pleasant aspects of the ride:
  • The many, many compliments the 'Dobson' attracted.
  • The general bonhomie of all the participants.
  • The organisation by C.T.C. Wessex who run the event.
  • The donkeys with 'pudding-bowl' fringes.
  • Finishing.
The most impressive riders (to me at least) were the ones who turned up on 'fixies'.
Truly they are super-beings.

I'm going to put the Dobson away now till the new season starts next year.
Will I do this ride again.?
Hmmmm... Tricky question...

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Sundry Mortifications No. 4...

Some fiddly adjustments and a bit of polishing aside this project is at an end...
The Gulf stickers sum it up really. It describes the gap between the original concept and the finished article...
On a lighter note..
It's fun to ride and quite pretty (in my eyes at least..)
So, anybody want to buy a bike..?
£150 and it's yours...
(N.B. Product may differ materially from that illustrated..)

Monday, 28 September 2009

Adventures In Modern Cycling No. 9: Pompy...

Having posted my entry form for the Gridiron 'doing the distance' in style is now all I'm bothered about...
The ride to Brighton proved I can cover 100k+ and I really can't say that I suffered any ill effects in the days following which suggests I might be fitter than I thought I was...
Today's destination is Portsmouth, a similar distance to last weeks outing...
Lovely day, lots of sunshine and not a breath of wind. I head for Chichester and the Centurian Way leaving it at the Brandy Hole Copse exit then on to West Ashling and Funtington..
I chose this route, even though it puts quite a few extra miles on the ride, to avoid the mind numbing experience of the old A27...
Out beyond Funtington I pass fields full of pigs and decide they need to have their pictures taken...
I dismount and, whist fumbling with my phone to select the camera, the pigs take one look at me and stampede in the opposite direction. I feel terribly guilty about disturbing them as, prior to my arrival, they were all laying about under an old tarpaulin enjoying the shade...
I contemplate the circumstances that lead to them being so frightened of human beings and wonder if they can sense my predilection for the odd sausage sandwich...
As I rode away I take a quick look back over my shoulder and saw them heading back to their sun shade so all is well even though I don't have a snapshot of happy pigs laying about...
An unexpected opportunity for bit of excitement presents it's self as a tractor rumbles up behind me. I love a bit of tractor racing. I let it pass, dig in and catch the slipstream (ahead of the queue of cars behind it)... Once I've regained my composure (breath) I click into 3rd and break cover hurtling away into the distance closely followed by several cars seizing the same chance to pass on this twisty country road. On catching and passing me the tractor driver shouted something but, as I don't speak Polish, I can't be sure what the gist of it was...
I dropped down towards Leigh Park/Havant, a vast area of 'social housing' not made any prettier by the beautiful day, and cross over the A27 via a precipitous footpath fly-over..
I get the same feeling I had on the big-wheel at Hollycombe. I can even smell the steam engines and see the light bulbs. Very strange...
The ride along the cycle-path toward the Southsea turning is very picturesque and, as the tide is out, smells of rotting seaweed. There then follows a boring stretch into Southsea along side the main road...
Southsea turns out to be a bit of a surprise. I'd driven along the front before but never paid it much attention. It's fantastic..! Lots of open spaces covered in sun-bathers, an enclosed rose garden, a model village and a boating lake filled with pedalos in the shapes of swans and ducks...
I rode along the front to the 'amusements' area and stopped for a snack at the Twisted Wheel cafe..
I can't recommend it. Having reached the bottom of my bowl I find about an inch of oil there which rendered the few remaining chips inedible. Expensive as well. That small cup of coffee cost me £1.20 and I now realise why this cafe is empty while all the others have queues outside them...
I 'read' some of the Sunday papers that were scattered about. They all seemed to feature some pneumatic harlot that has apparently 'written' a best selling book... Depressing...
I re-mount and head into Portsmouth intending to visit the historic dockyards (free entry) only to be told, on arriving outside the gate, by some buffoon in period costume that I couldn't take my bike in...
'Alright' I said, 'I'll f**k off back to Bognor then!' I was quite angry but cheered up after gazing in awe at the Spinnaker Tower.
I visited in 2007 and did the 'walk of faith' over the glass floor (which can be seen here between the first and second cross-members) whilst Linda watched and waved from the ground...
The ride home was uneventful, dull even. On arriving I didn't feel as tired as I did after the Brighton ride. I wish I'd had more time to spend in Southsea...

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

The Farmyard Of Horror...


I arrived to late...

Sundry Mortifications No. 3

It's fairly obvious that I'm in the midst of a nasty attack of bicycles...
I did say, after finishing the 'Dobson', that the phase was over...
It isn't...
I can't help myself...
I love building bicycles...
The poor old Potato is going to get a boardtracker makeover...
Mashed Potato I suppose...

Monday, 21 September 2009

Cow Restoration...

I bought a distressed Britains model cow at a boot fair...
I forgot to take a picture of it in it's distressed state but take it from me, most of the black paint had chipped off and it's udders were in a right state...
I trimmed off the surplus plastic left from the moulding process and re-applied the black patches..
I re-touched the horns, hooves and udders...
Then...
I painted it's eyes blood red because it is part of the Devil's Herd that stampedes across the endless skies chased by damned cowboys forever and ever and ever...
Yippie yi Ohhhhh
Yippie yi yaaaaay....

Adventures In Modern Cycling No. 8: Brighton...

I had three options for occupying myself this Sunday:
01) A trip up to the Vintage Cycle meet at Brooklands. (Lots of petrol, not much cycling for me and £9 to get in)
02) The regular folk music session at the Maypole. (Drinking to much expensive beer, not much cycling and a massive hangover.)
03) Ride my bike to Brighton in training for the 'Gridiron'. (Very 'worthy').
So, I turn into the headwind and hit the South Coast Cycleway...

There's a questionable trick I play when I'm on the road. I ride at a reasonable pace until another cyclist rides up behind me and overtakes then I 'dig in', get on the back and am pulled along in the slip-stream...
This is an appalling practice and I'm ashamed of myself for doing it. It's a hang-over from when I used to race and I can't shake it off. I offer my profound apologies to those who find themselves giving me an easy ride (like the bloke who dragged me from Comet Corner to the Ford roundabout.)

I passed through Littlehampton and Rustington where I took a wrong turn (poor route signage)
and found myself wandering aimlessly through a private estate of very expensive homes. This little detour put about 4 miles on the journey before I found the cycle route again around East Preston.
Ferring onto Goring by Sea and then into Worthing.
The trip through Worthing turns out to be the worst experience of the whole ride. Along the main drag, that makes no concession to cyclists, in heavy tourist type traffic.
I'm almost out of the town on the way to Lancing before things improve along a split foot/cycle path. The headwind really kicks in along this exposed stretch but I'm in 'cycle head space' and don't really notice or care about it.
I'd never liked the look of Lancing or Shoreham until I took this route which revealed a surprisingly pleasant stretch of coast. I was especially delighted by the Lancing Lagoon that I didn't know existed. Cormorants hanging themselves out to dry, swans gliding along and this piece of 'people art'
Hammer on through to Southwick where everything becomes industrial, bleak and forgettable.
At Hove the cycleway along the pavement becomes increasingly crowded and demands great concentration if you don't want to park your bike in a pedestrian's buttocks..
I have a confession to make... I don't like Brighton...
I'd probably understand it's appeal if I was twenty years younger and maybe I'd enjoy it but I'm not and I don't...
I've long wanted to see the Volk's Electric Railway. Trust me to arrive on the day it's closed for engineering works...
Downer..
The compensation for my disappointment consisted of coffee and, even though I mistakenly sprinkled a sachet of sugar on them, chips...
Time to head back and the nightmare begins...
Two hours and forty minutes of suffering...
Yes the wind's on my back, yes the new 20 tooth sprocket makes the gearing more usable but the short rest in Brighton allowed my muscles to seize up and I began a grim ride home with the 'mask' down..
The one little light during this was sitting up riding 'look no hands' to present as large an area to the tailwind as I could. By the time I got back to Littlehampton I was becoming downright cocky (see short film below).
I bought Linda a present (just to prove that I'd done what I said I'd done) which she ate without once considering that I might like just a small piece of Brighton rock...
I reckon that I did over 62 (flat) miles today and, despite a slight problem walking, I feel I can safely attempt the Gridiron next month but the true physical consequence of today won't really hit until Tuesday..
Let's see how I feel about it then...

video

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Hollycombe Steam Fair 2009 Visit...

I enjoy my annual visit to Hollycombe Steam Fair...
I like the smell (not pictured)...
I like the piles of rusty metal things...
I enjoy watching people involved in manual labour...
I like the metal signs from a bygone age...
Linda likes the large objects...
I like the dog cakes...
I like being scared witless on the big wheel (whilst maintaining a dignified exterior)...
Linda likes watching me being scared witless from the ground...
Same again next year..?
Oh yes...

Friday, 18 September 2009

Feral Shoes No. 8...

Another refugee washed up on the beach...
This is quite a robust shoe complete with a steel toe cap. I predict many exciting adventures for it upon the rolling main...
When I returned past the spot an hour after high tide it was gone...
Fair thee well bold traveler...

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Life During War Time...

I always know when the Goodwood Revival event is about to take place as the car-park of the Beachcroft Hotel (opposite our flat) gets filled with interesting vehicles...
Given the number of feral teenagers that congregate on the sea front of an evening, I wouldn't take bets on this Ferret Light Scout Car being there in the morning...
I had planned to visit the revival this year but two situations have put my visit back for another year. 1)No Money and 2), more importantly, failing to bid high enough for a Fair Isle pull-over on eBay...
I now have to go and get my wheel brace and a few bricks for I have work to do...

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Feral Shoes No. 7...

Seen on the Shripney road...
Broken under the wheel by the looks of it...

Monday, 14 September 2009

Adventures In Modern Cycling No. 7: Petworth and Beyond...

At the invitation of my friend Jane, I set off for Petworth. A small town dominated by Petworth House. This time the route wasn't so much a test of the bike but of the rider...
Oh how I suffered...
It would be easy to blame the gearing on the bike but, in truth, it was all down to my lack of fitness. The slow steady climb out of Eartham nearly turned my lungs inside out....
I'd regained some my composure by the time I'd started to notice members of the local cycle club passing in the opposite direction. I refused to acknowledge them on the basis that non were sporting cravats and still insisted on wearing out-moded skin-tight lycra outfits...
The decent of Duncton hill provided an opportunity to marvel at the downs scenery from a purpose built vantage point and then, on re-mounting my bike, shout 'wheeeeeee..' to annoy the club-men struggling up the hill...
About a mile outside Petworth is the Coultershaw Beam Pump. It's a place I've driven past many times thinking 'I must go there one day'. Well, today's the day...
At the bottom of this post is a little film I made of it's interesting bits. The pump's only purpose now-a-days (aside from attracting people like me) is to provide a pleasing fountain...
Should the opportunity arise for a visit I recommend it...
Having bought a Coultershaw Beam Pump tea-towel featuring an exploded view of the installation I set off for tea and flapjack at Jane's. I was introduced to Roxy who it's difficult not to love...
After eating, drinking and shooting the breeze I'm back on the road heading for a folk music session at the Labouring Man pub in Coldwaltham. Before launching into some frenzied banjo flayling I sat awhile in front of this fire and contemplated my cycling performance...
Will I be fit enough to ride the Gridiron...?
Time (and a 20 tooth sprocket) will tell...
video

Friday, 11 September 2009

Calender Cat Restoration...

I found this Calender Cat in a box in the attic. All the date cards had disappeared and the whole thing was destined to remain in the attic for evermore.
But then..!
I found a complete set of cards on one of my bin-dipping expeditions so it's restoration time...
After dismantling I covered the brass bits in tomato sauce and left it for 24 hours to remove the tarnish..
I sanded and varnished the wooden base and...
Finished...
Well, sort of...
The astute will notice that it's a one-eyed-cat...
I'm now on the look out for a replacement green glass 'eye'...
I asked Linda if she had any old jewelry I could prize some 'eyes' from...
I was told, in no uncertain terms, that it would be unwise of me to touch any of her jewelry if I wanted to continue to enjoy walking un-aided...

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Refining The 'Dobson'...

After recent rides on the 'Dobson', it became apparent that adjustments needed to be made...
The most important was to ditch the handlebar stem and get a hi-rise version...
In fact this made all the other adjustments irrelevant...
It put me into a more 'natural' position, stopped my 'fizzy hand' problem and enabled me to put the handlebars in the 'down' position which is the way I initially envisioned the bike...
I vaguely remember someone (I think it was John Stevenson who then worked at Two Wheels Good in Leeds and went on to write for MBUK) saying that the handlebar stem should obscure the front wheel axle when your seated on the bike...
Considering the improvement the new stem has made I'm willing to conceed that he may have been right...
The new stem has also improved the aesthetic qualities of the 'Dobson' which now looks 'right'...
I'm still waiting for The Old Bicycle Company to get their fingers out and send me some cable clamps and a 20 tooth sprocket and I need to re-set the saddle angle then it may be close to being nearly finished...