Sunday, 26 April 2015

woruld onetteð

On board Nettie

The pace of the year is speeding up day by day, and it's time to get on with all sorts of projects- right now, I'm collecting sketches and photos for a series of pictures of Life On The Cut. Here's the first of them; Chris and Jinny, on nb Nettie, working away with an industry and quality of artistry that quite puts me to shame. Here's their website where you can see what they do; it's called Skyravenwolf

The title of this post comes from the anglo-saxon poem The Seafarer:

Bearwas blostmum nimað, byrig fægriað, wongas wlitigað, woruld onetteð...

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

let's hear it for the sparrow

robin in the garden

On Voting For A National Bird 
Though there’s a case to choose the robin-
Gaudy-coated, territorial,
Thuggish, pushy, rival-mobbing,
Here-we, here-we, here-we-gorial,
Argumentative and narrow-
Give me, instead, the humbler sparrow
Whose virtues are too long to list
And from the poll is sadly missed.

Britain needs a national bird, apparently. Here's where you can vote. The sparrow's not the only bird missing from the list; the Kentucky Fried Chicken is absent, too, its remains probably scattered around some distant lay-by. I particularly like lapwings and curlews, but I prefer to leave them well alone, just as I'm sure they'd prefer to be left alone. Can't really see either of them stepping happily into the limelight, winning contestants on Britain's Got Talon. Which bird, gentle reader, would you go for?

Sunday, 1 March 2015

March hare

Uffington hare in autumn

...this particular March hare was started in autumn, hence the seasonal fruits. But I finished it today after it had been sitting around for months. And it's the first day of March. So happy St David's Day!

Sunday, 15 February 2015

We cannot allow censorship and silencing of individuals- working men's clubs have a particular responsibility to resist this kind of bullying

There is a worrying pattern of failure to respect some of the older and greater comedians on the working men's club circuit. When Bluey Drongo ("an eff, a blind, a merry quip") appeared at the Cambridge Bittern Stuffers' club recently, a rival event took place for those folk who object to Bluey's often-stated belief that people who've retrained during their careers can never be true working men; you're born a working man, he says, and that is that; these newcomers don't know what it smells like when you've lined the pockets of the rich with the sweat of your brow, and it ain't roses, he says, let me tell ya. Strewth. Obviously, the fate of this minority isn't important or relevant to the rest of us true working men, so it is ungrateful of them to make a fuss when they could be enjoying Bluey's off-colour anecdotes instead.

It's also troubling that Bernard Waning has not been getting any bookings lately. Bernard's been touring with his one joke ("hear the one about the Englishman, the Irishman and the transsexual Scot?") for over ten years now, but what the heck, it's an important joke, and it is shameful that he should be denied the platform to tell it. Yet again. Some jokes just improve with the retelling, after all. If things carry on like this he won't even get a chance to publish his joke in the Guardian one more time, and then where will we be?

a piece on censorship in the Guardian

...and a response from Sarah Brown

Friday, 13 February 2015

fettling a Strida

After my nice Strida bike was stolen from the back of my car in December, I got a replacement on Ebay. Sometimes you can strike it lucky with Stridas and get an old one very cheaply; this one cost me £80, with another £20 to get it delivered. Still, it's a Strida. And a v manky one when it arrived, having evidently been lying around for a long long time....

All the bearings were gunked up, so a complete strip down was needed.

out you come, you little bearings
a quick wash in penetrating oil and a scrub with a toothbrush. Shiny shiny

that's better

this is the clip that holds the wheels together when you fold the bike up.
You've got to take it off to remove the wheel


the hub brake is then revealed

free up the brake pads, sandpaper the braking surfaces...
a bearing cup

back together again

and ready to go!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

making tracks, following them, staying put

Mink prints

A dusting of snow the other morning meant that I was up and out as soon as it was light, looking for footprints. There was some mink spraint under the bridge where I found some a couple of weeks ago; this was so fresh it was practically steaming...


...and a trail leading away to the nearby winding hole, where the undergrowth is thick and tangled. The trail ended there.

I was telling Mark, my neighbour, about it, and he found it odd that I should go around photographing poo. Each to their own, Mark. Think of King Pellinore, with his horn full of fewmets! 

The ice has limited my boat movements; it doesn't take much ice to make manoeuvring a narrowboat difficult. But it has allowed for some good photograph opportunities. Last night's sunset

Sunset at Semington

was very quickly followed by the rising of the full moon. There is less than an hour between these two pictures

Full moon rising over Semington

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Bristol's greener arena

bristol arena

Some folk in Bristol have expressed their dismay that there is no arena in the city huge enough to persuade U2 to play here. Ignoring the nay-sayers who reckon that they like Bristol precisely because of that, they gaze wistfully at the sleeve notes of Joshua Tree while sitting in their rather-too-tight jeans, in the drawing rooms of tastefully-renovated victorian semis from St Andrews to Sneyd Park, and remember their fairly-wild student days when they had a leather jacket too.

Happily for these folk, the move towards construction of such an arena continues apace, with the shortlisting of five designs, all suitably anodyne.

As Chief Architect of Gert Macky Enterprises (publishers, bicycles fettled, a song a dance a merry quip, oh and arena designers to royalty), I drew up some plans of my own, as you see from the picture. Sadly, despite the optimism of The Bristolian, it doesn't appear to have made the shortlist, even though it would add to Bristol's green credentials ("it's an elephant! GREEN! We'll paint it green if you like, to make it even greener!") in this year of Bristol, Green Capital.

Here, by the way, is the elephantine colossus of Rhode Island. Thanks, Lauren!