Wednesday 26 September 2018

Left Hand Down a Bit

My mum isn't very good at parking her car. There's a workbench and a vice at the back of the garage, and the boot-lid of the car has a line of dents across it from where the car has been reversed into the vice handle. Years ago she had a Ford Fiesta (with a line of vice-handle dents across the back) and every month or two she would knock one or other of the wing mirrors off against one of the gateposts. The wing mirrors were fixed on with a system rather like an enormously strong bayonet fitting from a giant lightbulb. My father and I built a fitment tool so that you could stretch the spring with a stirrup while you worked, and every month or two for many years I would refit whichever mirror had been smashed off the car.

About five years ago my mum changed her car to a Fiat Panda. Sure enough, after  a month or two, one of the wing mirrors had been smashed off on the gatepost. I couldn't work out how to fix it and she took it to a local garage. Blind Len at the garage fixed it for free as a favour but it cost £50 in parts. And that's the last time she ever hit the wing mirror on the gatepost!

Richard "they’re not fucking whiskers" B

Friday 21 September 2018

Did it!

At the weekend I walked from Exeter to Teignmouth to raise money for the charity Bloodwise. Exeter to Starcross (8.5 miles) was a nice walk, it's all flat and the views of the estuary are great. Starcross to Dawlish (4 miles) was a bit boring and I was tired and footsore when I got there. The elective final 3.5 miles to Teignmouth was horrible. It was really hilly and steep and a lot of the coast path and seawall is in poor repair and strewn with rocks. It was slow, tiring, sweaty and painful underfoot.

I did 16 miles, so if anybody was thinking of 50p/mile please donate £8 to Bloodwise.
For those of you that want me to work for your money, I'm sure you'll be glad to know that my legs are stiff, my feet are blistered and that there's blood under one of my toenails.

Bloodwise really is a great charity. They hardly spend anything on publicity, it all goes on research and patient support and they get nothing from the government. You've probably never heard of them, but they're one of the biggest medical research charities in the country. Since the 60s they have brought the survival rate for childhood leukemia from about 10% to about 90%. One day you might need them. Age or genetic and lifestyle factors seem to have no effect on rates of blood cancers. Essentially this week you have already bought one ticket in a lottery to win Leukemia or Lymphoma you will do the same every week of your life.

Richard "unpleasant stroll" B

Monday 10 September 2018

Put Your Hand in Your Pocket

One of my good friends has chronic myeloid leukemia. He was helped by the charity Bloodwise and he now supports them. Next weekend I am going on a fund-raising walk with Bloodwise. We start in the middle of Exeter and walk down the river and along the coast. The shortest version of the walk goes about 6.5 miles to Starcross. That's where you get a train home if you're a softie, or you've got your whole family with you, or (as is often the case) you're suffering with a bloodbourne cancer. Officially the route carries on to Dawlish at about 12.5 miles. I fully intend to go that far, however the last time I took part I got a fair amount of criticism for going on what was really nothing more than a pleasant walk and then demanding money for my trouble. If my feet and stamina hold up I'm going to walk to Teignmouth at 16 miles.

There is no official sponsorship form, but if you think it's a good cause, or you think what I am doing is worthwhile, then I ask you to make an informal pledge to donate to the charity. You can do that at and I'm accepting cash donations.
Next week I'll let you know how I got on. At 50p/mile you'd be giving either £6.25 or £8 depending how far I get, some of my friends are giving double that amount!

Richard "pleasant stroll" B

Thursday 6 September 2018


I went away this weekend, and while I maintained full control of my bowels for the whole time, there were two occasions when it wasn't guaranteed.

We went to Tenby on Saturday night and stayed in a guest house. Tenby is a picturesque seaside town and seemingly the hen night capital of South Wales. I ate a fish pie the size of a briefcase that must have contained half a pint of cream and drank several pints of local real ale. The combination caused my digestion some problems in the middle of the night.

We had been driving at Pembrey circuit. One of the reasons I like it so much is that it feels very safe. There are big grass runoffs, not much Armco, and the two most difficult corners have a straight on lane so that you can chicken-out and give up on turning. I took a lesson in the morning and have started learning the difficult business of using the brake and the steering wheel at the same time. When I get the technique right (which is seldom) I am much faster. On one occasion I made such a good job of Honda Curve that I hit the rev limiter in 4th on the start-finish straight and found myself in 5th approaching the hairpin. Changing 5th to 4th to 3rd to 2nd under heavy braking was too much for me. I don't know what gear I put the car in at about 90mph but I'm confident that it was the wrong one. I spun violently and frighteningly and ended up pointing backwards inches from the crash barrier with the engine stalled. While I was travelling backwards I was looking into the face of the driver who was following very closely behind me. I don't know if he was as scared as me, but he made an excellent job of slowing his car and not hitting me.

The marshals had the yellow flags up before my car had even come to a halt, nobody hit me, and I eventually got the car running and drove back to the paddock.

Richard "trail braking" B