Wednesday, 18 March 2009
(this post mentions the Downs in Bristol. I've put in a bit of context stuff in the post before this one, if you don't know the area and want to know)
I popped in to Bristol Central Library the other day to pick up the latest issue of the Bristol Review of Books. I also picked up a copy of a large pamphlet, issued by the Council, called Lesbian Gay and Bisexual People: FAQs, Myths, ...and the Facts.
I like to keep up with what the Council is up to regarding equalities, or possibly Equalities. I've watched the T fade away from LGBT in Bristol over the last couple of years. It's popped up in the gender section now, where they are apparently working on it. Good show. It's nice to know that someone's thinking about us, even though trans people are excluded from the legislation regarding the provision of goods and services, which means that it's still OK to discriminate on the grounds of being transgendered. Apparently.
Anyway, in the new pamphlet there is a section on media representation and sensationalism. It cites a headline from the Bristol Evening Post- "Scrubland cleared... at an area known as 'Fairyland'"
I wonder if it is the Evening Post or the Council Equalities folk who missed the point (actually, I think it's the Evening Post). Fairyland has been called that since the 19th century, and, while there has been sexual activity on the Downs for as long as there have been people in Bristol, and presumably some of it gay sex, the name of this particular area owes more to a fanciful connection with the Little People than to gay men. Does anyone call them 'fairies' any more?
I mention it because I've been over that way a few times recently, getting pictures for a design I'm working on. Very nice it is too. And the rustlings in the bushes? -they were blackbirds, actually.
The Bristol Downs are part of a limestone ridge which extends north-eastwards from Clevedon. It was formed by sedimentation and deposition when a tropical sea spread over the area during the early Carboniferous period, 354 million years ago. Fossils of marine creatures can be seen where the rock is exposed. During the Hercynian period (about 290 million years ago), when the ancient continents of Laurasia and Gondwana collided, this rock was folded and pushed up into mountains. It was then eroded, deposited upon, uplifted and again eroded until the present surface was once more exposed.
The Gorge was created during the Ice Ages which have come and gone over the last two million years. The
Tree felling began as long as 4000 years ago, and there are field systems evident between Ladies Mile and the Zoo Banks. During the Iron Age, the Dobunni tribe built a hill fort on Observatory Hill, which, together with the two forts on the Leigh Woods side of the Gorge, dominated the river. The Romans in turn built villas in the area, and the road which they built, linking
More of a threat to the
What was most stupendous to me, was the rock of St Vincent, a little distance from the Towne, the precipice whereof is equal to any thing of that nature I have seene in the most confragose cataracts of the Alpes: The river gliding between them after an extraordinary depth: Here we went searching for Diamonds, & to the hot Well at its foote….
Plans were enacted for the ‘beautification’ of the
Sunday, 15 March 2009
So it was Red Nose Day, when people do funny things for charity. Katie's school had a 'dress in red and white' option for the day, so K put on white clothes and sprayed her hair white. White-ish, anyway. For red, she took along Munkeh, whom you may see here in his uber-Bristolian "Gert Lush" T-shirt.
She also did a sponsored animation, which you may find here
That evening, I met up with Sarah and we went round to the local primary school for a benefit gig. On the way we passed a couple locked in an embrace, though the woman lowered her thigh slightly from his waist as we passed.
"Gosh!" I said.
"Not very Westbury Park," Sarah commented.
The band were playing feelgood music. A few people were sort of half-dancing along to it, and a very enthusiastic woman was positively leaping and hopping, in a fairly large space all of her own. Maybe all gigs have someone like that at them. I remember at folk clubs there would always be a woman in a very long skirt who would do a sort-0f-Highland Fling if the band did a quicktime number. And this seemed to hold true whatever the folk club.
People were supposed to dress up as their favourite song. Not many had. I had a chat with Jack, who was dressed as Pierrot.
"Guess," he said.
"Tears of a clown?" I hazarded.
He nodded lugubriously.
Sue was rather stylishly dressed in black silk oriental pyjamas with one of those big Chinese straw hats.
"It's a Dead Kennedys song," she said.
"Ha, Holiday in Cambodia" I said. No flies on me (though I always thought that American punk bands were a bit dull, personally...)
We discussed our children and how they are getting on at school. Very punk.
I left early and wandered past the church. On the road outside were three hulking great lorries, and a generator belting along. There were floodlights everywhere. They were filming Songs Of Praise. I think the floodlights were there to simulate sunlight through the stained glass windows.
Some walkers paused to exchange Goodnights.
"They were at it till 10:30 last night" said one of them disapprovingly.
Goodness, things have evidently changed a bit since I appeared on Songs of Praise. This was back in 1967 or so, and my choir, All Saints Llanfrechfa, joined in with the throng in the school hall at Croesyceliog Grammar School for the occasion. It was filmed in real time, in one go. I think the cameraman had to crank a little handle at the side of the camera as he trundled up and down.
And now it's Anglican Hollywood. I wonder if the vicar has a retinue? -I'm not sure what a retinue is or does, but I gather that it is an essential accessory for a star.
I walked on home.
And the brass band played on and "Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven" belted out over the quiet suburb.
Here is my new ball joint splitting tool, in the act of splitting a ball joint on the steering arm
...and this is the Armstrong damper, which links to the top of the kingpin. The bottom leg on the kingpin is held down by a torsion bar, which is spring loaded. The top end links to this damper. The damper arm is linked to a little piston which slides up and down a chamber full of oil, whose top and bottom ends are connected via a small orifice which regulates the movement of the oilk through it. This means that the damper arm moves slowly and smoothly up....and down.... and that's what evens out the bounciness of the wheel.
Unless the oil level drops way down, and it starts getting clunky.
Which doesn't happen in my case, of course. O dear no.
(Goes a bit red)
Friday, 13 March 2009
After taking the wheels off and poking around a bit, I found out where the problem lay. Let's try describing it without using special language. The front wheels are bolted onto vertical shafts which can swivel, allowing the wheels to turn left and right. The top and bottom end of the shaft goes into a cup arrangement which is swivel-connected to the bouncy-up-and-down bit of the suspension. So the wheel can go round and round, turn left and right, and bounce up and down when it goes over a bump.
The cup arrangement is called a trunnion.
Sometimes, I guess you just need special words.
Here it is, look. A trunnion, complete with rubber bushes that are completely worn away. Clunk, clunk.
...and here is the reassembled bit where the wheel goes. It took me about four hours to get this far.
The worst bit was the joints that haven't been apart since the car was built, and which needed a blowtorch, release oil, joint splitting tool, big copper mallets, and a nice cup of tea and a piece of chocolate before they finally gave in.
It can be a bit dispiriting, looking at something that you know you have to undo and yet which is refusing to undo. I suppose that strictly speaking, there is always someone else ready to take a job on, but I prefer not to give up on something. Back in the seafaring days, it sometimes really was a case of having to fix it there and then, no option. It could be quite a dreadful feeling, looking at something which is steadfastly refusing to do what you wanting to do and knowing that there is no-one else to do the job.
Here's someone fixing something on a boat (Condor 10, somewhere in the Mediterranean). The buck stopped somewhere else on that particular occasion.
Thursday, 12 March 2009
Eventually I suppose I'll have to ditch the arrangement of last year's poppies and dried flowers from the kitchen, but it does look nice, and is extremely low-maintenance. K added some origami cranes, which go rather well.
I like origami, and used to do a lot of it. It is also a useful way of spending time in exams when you've run out of things to write, I have found, which is perhaps gives you some idea of my degree of academic attainment.
One thing I didn't do much of was the stuff in this book, Kokigami. It contains figures which are supposed to adorn penises, such as this squid:
...the book was a Christmas present from someone to whom I am sort-of-related, a few years back. She expressed a hope that I would be broad-minded about it.
My then partner and I looked at the book with incredulity, and ....burned it. Never mind what Heinrich Heine said, sometimes you've just got to burn something.
Thursday, 5 March 2009
The tree at the front of the house is being nested in again. I saw the blue tits bobbing across to their hole in the lower trunk, last week, and was glad to see them again. They've been nesting there for several years now. Then a couple of days ago I saw that this magpie couple have started building their nest here too, just on a level with the front room window. There was a pigeon nest here last year, but the eggs were all lying smashed on the pavement one morning, possibly by these same magpies.
The neighbour's loo, which I had been wrestling with last week, is finally fixed, and I learned something new while doing it. But not before trawling the internet for an answer.
There are plenty of wrong answers available on the internet. Someone who evidently faced a similar problem to me posted up a cry for help on Yahoo Answers, and one of the suggestions was inadvertently brilliant:
Tuesday, 3 March 2009
Wrongly, as it turns out; it means 'heaven', apparently. Another case of reality failing to live up to the brochure.
This is the picture for the nature piece in the latest edition of the Bristol Review of Books, soon to be available in all (hang on, make that 'some') good libraries. In the Bristol area.
So anyway, there are flash leisure centres around the city, including the one where I joined so that I could get horribly fit in the gym before setting off on the Big Welsh Walk two years back. Hated it all, including the huge swimming pool always full of fitness nazis swimming up and down and up and down and God help you if you got in their way.
And then, on the wrong side of the river, there is an old fashioned swimming pool, complete with a proper deep end where, despite the No Diving notices, you can dive. And there are very few people in it; we once even had it to ourselves. So obviously I'm not going to disclose the location.
I was down there with A and M on Sunday. Swim, chat, swim, chat. Then A got out and after a while M and I were going to get out as well, but we waited in the water for the two women in the shower to finish showering. (there are two double showers, one at either side of the deep end, one marked Male and the other Female, but otherwise identical, and open to the poolside)
And we waited.
"I'm sure she'd already shampooed her hair," said M. "And it's not very environmental, is it? -Big people use more water. More surface area"
They were quite large. M has just started a weight-watching group and is on the look-out for recruits.
"I should get some cards printed. I could have given them one," she added.
And we waited some more.
"There should always be twice the number of facilities for women," M announced. I agreed. There should.
We carried on a-waiting.
"I'm going to use the Gents'", M announced.
I followed her. Safety in numbers. I would never have dared do it if I'd been on my own.
So we finally got out of the pool.
Here is Annie's account of her trip to the newly-refurbished Clifton Lido
Sunday, 1 March 2009
Thus, thirty years after I'd started making bread on a regular basis, I stumbled upon two new (to me) ideas.
- Putting the risen loaf into a really hot oven gives it chance to rise even more before the crust hardens and stops it
- Liberally coating it with flour (I use rice flour for the purpose) help keep the crust soft, as does wrapping it in a tea towel as soon as it comes out of the tin
The loaf in the picture there is called a Musket Loaf, by the way, although it has other names. (I am capitalising, as I think good bread deserves proper nouns.) Herberts Bakery, my fave Bristol bakery, calls them Concertina Loaves. And apparently, Oop North they are called Lodger Loaves. This is, or so the story goes, because they were favoured by niggardly landlords and landladies, who could count the corrugations and immediately tell if the lodger had been helping themself.
Although I would not describe myself as niggardly, I used to be annoyed when one of my young flatmates used to help herself to my bread (and all my other stuff, for that matter) because she was such a poor cutter of slices; so I would take the bread out of the bread bin and find that the active end of the loaf (for want of a better term) was jagged, and lying at a jaunty angle with respect to the rest of it, making it a real pig to cut a slice for the toaster. This can cast a shadow over your breakfast, as I need hardly say.
Bread slicing. An essential skill. Perhaps it should be taught at school, or something.