Friday, June 29, 2007

Bike Shop Developments

When I last visited Bundanoon in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, I found a bike shop that served coffee and cake. It was an excellent idea, a marvellous opportunity to acquire a new cotter pin or an inner tube for a 27" wheel and combine it with a piping hot expresso and a slice of Bakewell tart (or whatever the Australian equivalent is).

A few years later in New England, in the pleasant (but emphatically shut) town of York, Maine, I came across this development in the wondrous world of cycling emporia. Although neither coffee nor cake was obviously on offer, I could, if I was overwhelmed by heat and the desire for something supposedly healthy, augment my purchase of a chain link remover with frozen yoghurt.

What a interesting idea but not one, I imagine, without its difficulties. I have tried eating a conventional ice cream cone in a high wind and the spattering effect across all parts of the body is most unwelcome. I should think frozen yoghurt has the same sort of consistency and would perform in a similar manner when cycling along. Also, unless some sort of cone holding device is available, the need to pedal along with only one hand on the handlebars for more than a few seconds is to be deplored, what with the amount of traffic on the roads today and the standards of driving. I'm sorry but I can't see the bike and yoghurt combination as a world beater.

Perhaps a substitution with fruitcake would be in order - it had the solidity to be slipped into a pocket between bites and suggests no more danger than maybe a poke in the eye by a dislodged currant.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Pixie and I returned from a stunning holiday in New England this morning, jammed unpleasantly into a packed British Airways Jumbo and suffering the transition from one time zone to another and one weather system to another - apparently it's done nothing but rain in the UK since we've been away and show no signs of stopping. Lovely.

Right, that's the whinge out the way.

Now I'm sure there is is plenty of mileage to be had over the next few weeks poking fun at the habits of our cousins across the pond as observed over the last fortnight and I'm not one to resist the temptation. However I'm starting with an enormous thank you to Pauline who took us in hand when we visited the Berkshires (pronounced in a way that no-one from Reading would understand but who cares?). She introduced us to Norman Rockwell, an American icon whose work is not so well known over here and who was a revelation. She also showed us some real New England hospitality and saved us from yet another diner and a surfeit of burgers. The Lonely Planet Guide has nothing on Pauline when it comes to local colour and I'm still carrying the image of a young girl and her friend riding the boxcars to the next town - I wish I could have done that.

We also met a Maine Coon. Not something I'd ever expected to do but life's full of surprises. His name is Parker and he likes hiding under bushes and is just the excuse I need to post yet another animal picture.

So here he is.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

More Career Development News

Yesterday's post - update.

Unfortunately for Peter the openings available to pirates (other than in government organisations) are very slim and so he has been forced to look at alternative careers. One such, for which there is considerable demand in the Vale of Evesham, is precision chiropody. On a home visit the master of the lens attempts a delicate procedure.

Incidentally the cushion is available from most John Lewis stores and Waitrose Food & Home, should that be of interest.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Lee started this hare by posting a picture of his creative centre. As you can see, I have just a few books and no shelf space left unless I throw out the old radios. This isn't helped by a new policy of mine that says that for every new book acquired, an old one must go - that's not an easy decision for a bibliophile.

And pointless. Why make daft rules for yourself? I'll knock through to the garage and extend. After all it hasn't seen a car in at least sixteen years so it will probably welcome some intellectual stimulation. I wonder if Pixie's got any chicklit I could shift out there?

A New Scourge

Earlier this week I learnt that Peter has decided to stop posting a blog in order to give him the time to move on to further exciting challenges. I thought it might be a while before he settled on a new direction but this was not to be. A chance visit to the cinema with Sparkly, Pixie and myself galvanised him into action and, despite the distinct lack of galleons on the River Avon and an aversion to rum, he has reinvented himself as Captain Pete Stripedsocks, the scourge of the Worcester Main.

I was lucky enough to be able to get this picture before he paddled off, with his gallant mate, Sparkly, in search of lost treasure, booty and the perfect breakfast.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Pebbles with Added Glint

I thought that for a change we'd have a sniff of sea today. Now I realise that living in the centre of England does not leave me as coastally deprived as someone from Alice Springs, Regina or Des Moines but it's still far enough. And if you take into account Britain's overstretched motorway system, any journey to the briny is a major undertaking.

Work has taken me down to Devon twice in the last week and last time the sun came out. Obviously flags were flown to celebrate and I slipped off to the nearest beach to get a fix of waves and pebbles. The big wide 12mm lens is magic in these circumstances and with the high light levels in sunny Budleigh Salterton, the depth of focus seems to go on for ever. Just one word of warning - you need to move the camera pretty quickly if you don't fancy a salt-encrusted version. With my knees, that's always a gamble.

One of the reasons that the roads are so crowded is that seagulls have taken to using them. This is a problem that needs to be addressed urgently. Write to your MP today.