Rode Hard and Put Away Wet

June 18, 2009

The problem with having a shiny new bike is that you want to keep it that way. Which means that when I squelched into the kitchen this afternoon, having been caught in an epic downpour, my first call was not for new clothes, nor even a reviving whisky, but a dry tea-towel … for my bike. And then I squelched back out in the rain to the bike shed so I could dry off the chain. First things first.

And then second things second. I think that whisky might be calling me now…


N+1 Bikes

June 16, 2009

So, more than two years after I first started thinking about buying a new bike, it’s finally here…

The old bike and the new bike get to know each other

The old bike and the new bike get to know each other

What can I say? It’s a bike, I like it…

you asked for an action shot, you got one

you asked for an action shot, you got one

Thanks to the guys at Common wheel for putting it together for me, and making it all happen.  Now please go and donate all your old bikes to them, so they can be loved again.

Now then, perhaps a Pashley?

*The formula for the ideal number of bikes, where N is the number of bikes you already own.

Garden Update

June 13, 2009

… because I know you’re all just desperate to know how my garden is doing. (You are, aren’t you? Just wait, I’ll take up decorating next, and keep you posted on how the moisture levels in the paint are decreasing).


Broad Bean Pod

Anyway, we harvested our first potatoes last night. This was less to do with whether the potatoes were ready and more to do with a slight catering crisis – it turns out that having four people in the house instead of two means we get through bags of potatoes faster. So anyway – three and a half potatoes, yay! They were – well, convention dictates that I tell you that these were the most delicious potatoes I have ever eaten, at least since the last first crop of freshly dug home-grown potatoes I ate. And they probably were but, you know, when all is said and done, a potato is a potato is a potato.

Replanted Broccoli. There is some in there, honest

Replanted Broccoli. There is some in there, honest

Meanwhile, the broad beans are showing the first tiny pods, the replacement broccoli seedlings are in, the parsnips are given up for dead, the peas are climbing like crazy but not flowering yet, and I have one – count ’em – surviving leek. I’m thinking of growing it to mammoth proportions and entering it into the village show as I can’t really think of any other real use for a single leek.


Peas and Beans

But far more interestingly* than all that, I have started a spreadsheet! There have been a lot of excited articles in the newspapers recently about how you can beat the credit crunch by growing your own vegetables. I’m sceptical on this one. My experience of growing your own vegetables is that you get fresh and delicious** vegetables and (when they survive) they’re fun to grow, and it’s good exercise and you control what chemicals go into them, if any, and it’s a very minor way of cutting your food miles, but I’ve never really seen it as a way to save money. After all, by definition you’ll be eating them when they are in season and hence pretty cheap in the shops. And any casual glance at a catalogue or a garden centre shows that there’s an infinite amount of stuff you can spend money on. I’m a pretty tight, sorry frugal, gardener but I’ve already spent around (oh all right then, exactly) £31.40 on seeds, compost, and getting my round in at the slug pub. Meanwhile, 120g of freshly dug new potatoes (retailing at £2.99 a kg in Tescos) has saved me precisely 36p.It’s early days, of course. But I’ll be interested to see if I break even on the plot this year. And even though you won’t be, I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

*adjusted for being about gardening. And spreadsheets

**adjusted for being vegetables

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?