Caution Contains Nuts

June 12, 2009

It’s comforting to know that however far you may roam

Caution! Contains Sheep

Caution! Contains Sheep

And however secure you may feel

Caution! Contains pollen

Caution! Contains pollen

Messrs Health ‘n’ Safety have got there before us to assess all the dangers and point them out to us,  sometimes with little pictures:
health_n_safety1 health_n_safety2 health_n_safety3

Even the ones we might reasonably expect to have handled before


And yet, amazingly, they let us out to cross the road – and drive home – without any warnings at all.

(all images taken from one not-very-dangerous heritage site – by no means the worst offender. And that wasn’t even all of them…)

Ooh Ooh Ooh

June 11, 2009

Another missive from Common Wheel – it’s ready:

New Bike - click for bigness

New Bike - click for bigness

I know what you’re thinking: that’s not British Racing Green. And it’s not fire engine red either, which would have been my first choice. But I decided that because it wasn’t going to have a metallic paint job neither of those colours would really have worked properly and so I took an executive decision and went for blue. Sorry, but you know how it is. It’s kind of like an Irish referendum, or the European elections: the people have spoken, and the people were wrong.  It looks pretty spiffy in the photo at least – I shall see it in the flesh when I go and pick it up on Monday.

Can’t wait…

Made in Scotland from Girders*

June 10, 2009

More touristing today:


The wheel itself is awesome (I was going to link to their website but it’s too irritating, sorry) and entirely worth the visit, although we were underwhelmed by the shop disguised as a ‘visitors’ centre’ and finding it was a challenge due to a complete lack of signs on the approach from the west.

There was going to be a longer post with more whingeing but then I read about this and decided we’d got off extremely lightly today. Oh how happy I am I’m not commuting any more…

*Er, probably.

First Catch your Post Office

June 9, 2009

To the papershop, where papershop woman was busy trying to explain to a confused customer when the post office might next be open. The papershop used to be a shop and a post office, and then it changed and became a shop with a post office – the post office in question being a travelling one that operated out of Notso Bigtown Post Office four days a week. Then that was closed and replaced by a different travelling post office operating out of a different town’s post office, on three days a week with different times (but run by the same bloke). This will shortly move to the Papershop Village Hall, and open two days a week at a further set of different times from the current one. Customers missing that – and they can hardly fail to – can hare off in pursuit of the other mobile post office which operates a secret schedule which is kept under the counter at the papershop and available to those who ask using the recognised code word.

At least, I think that’s how it works. I rather lost track of the explanation half way through the part about there being an R in the month and allowing for the phases of the moon and the adjustments needed for those still operating the Gregorian calendar. Clearly these are in fact unofficial post offices, gone feral in the face of intense persecution, and operating a guerilla schedule so that head office can’t find them in order to close them down. Because the other explanation – that they’re trying to make the damn things so complicated to use that we just give up and go elsewhere and don’t complain when they are axed – that would just be silly. Wouldn’t it?

Holiday Snaps

June 8, 2009

Oof. We’re back. I’ve left Stena Line with some full and frank feedback on the difference between something called ‘tastes like fresh milk’ and actual fresh milk – they really shouldn’t leave those little comment slips out where people can get hold of them while they’re at a loose end on a ferry.

Anyway, we’re all a bit knackered, so I’m going to leave you with a selection of holiday snaps.  Just be grateful I didn’t invite you round to show you the whole lot, maybe with a slide show …

black_guillemots newcastle_harbour mountains_of_mourne

dundrum_castle legananny_dolmen

So it’s Never…

June 5, 2009

… a good sign when you’re trying to navigate down some tiny road in Northern Ireland, and you’re not 100% sure where you are but you’re pretty sure you’re heading north and that you’ll know it if you’ve gone too far, and then your phone beeps and you find you’ve got a text message that says

Welcome to the Republic of Ireland

No, that’s never a good sign at all.

And I’d say, well at least we got lots of mapping done, but frankly, you’re hardly going to trust any maps I draw now are you?

Cycling Holiday

June 3, 2009

Before you get all excited:

This is not my new bike

I think it was Mikael from Copenhagen Cycle Chic who once waxed lyrical about the joys of holiday bikes – the ones found under years’ worth of spider webs in sheds in holiday homes. This used to be my Mum’s – who was once for a year in her youth a Copenhagen Girl on a Bike, and no doubt a very chic one too. The bike – unlike my mother of course – has seen better days but once the other half had spent a couple of days sorting out its brakes (the back one did nothing, and the front one merely squealed) it was perfectly ridable and I took it out for a spin along the seafront.

newcastle_cycle_parkingI had thought I made relatively stately progress on my own bike, but the sit-up-and-beg position of this one was something else – there’s no way to ride it but sedately and cars give you an amazing amount of room compared to on a normal bike. Which was good because – although Newcastle desperately needs more cyclists and fewer cars – the powers that be had obviously just removed the one on-road cycle lane in the town. The one-way system is designed to keep cars moving, which it does, but there’s no real provision for bikes so that they too end up being channeled down to a big roundabout instead of being able to cut through the town. Obviously the planners thought we’d stick to the promenade along with the other holiday-makers, with no thought for anyone wanting to get from A to B not via the sea.

newcastle_headwindFortunately, though, I was a holiday maker, and one with no particular place to go. And being befuddled by the one-way system meant I got rather more mapping done than I had planned. I was just glad I wasn’t battling the headwind that produced this particular piece of living sculpture, and was instead basked in glorious and uncharacteristic sunshine. This is Ireland, right? Someone hasn’t towed it into the Mediterranean by mistake, have they?


Anyway, now that we’ve fixed the bike, my mother took it out for a spin herself. She came back with a big grin on her face and has vowed not to neglect it so badly again…

Lost in Translation

June 2, 2009

‘Can I have a filter coffee?’

‘That stuff’s not fresh. You can have some of the other coffee.’

‘What kind of coffee is that?’

‘It’s bean coffee.’

‘Oh, OK, I’ll have some of that then, thanks.’

At least, I thought he had said ‘bean coffee’, which sounded rather nice, until I tasted it. Then I realised what he must have said was ‘It’s been coffee’ – way back in the distant past, before it had turned into tar.

There are some places where Starbucks and its kin come in and trample over a whole unique local coffee-drinking culture with their homogenised American product. And there are places where that would be a welcome relief…

Curiouser and Curiouser

June 1, 2009

A public service announcement from Stena Line:

‘All passengers: this is to warn you that Curious George is on board today and will shortly be performing a dance routine in the central section of the boat’

It’s nice to be warned, to be honest. It’s not the sort of thing you’d want to stumble over unawares.


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