Tuesday 24 November 2015


file under: wtf

This year I am resurrecting my favourite sporting competition: Who can put on (or lose) the most (or least) weight over the Christmas period.

Have you ever been to one of those weddings or funerals with a full-day agenda, and at every turn somebody is offering you a glass of champagne, an aperitif, or a cold bottle of beer? It can be a real challenge not to get completely ruined. December has a similar feel to it: it becomes increasingly difficult not to consume huge quantities of mince pies, fruitcake, nuts, fruit, chocolate, turkey, cheese, steamed pudding, champagne, beer, wine, sherry, brandy, eggnog, sickly liqueurs, picked onions, crisps and a partridge in a pear tree.

This year I will embrace them all. In the interests of sportsmanship, in the run up to December I will re-enforce my "no cakes on Wednesday" rule, won't use up the surplus cream on my breakfast cereal, will try to smoke a little more, and will do a couple of 24 hour fasts. After the weigh in I'm stopping smoking and fasting and will eat everything that I'm offered without guilt or hesitation.

Richard "game on" B

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Track Day

file under: engineering boasting

In the 70s imported motorcycles were invariably fitted with very hard, very cheap, very long-lasting tyres made by Chang Shin. If he valued his life the first thing that the owner would do was to put on a proper set of Avon or Dunlop tyres. I don't know if it's common parlance, but among my brothers "Chang Shin Suicide Tyre" is code for any hard and slippery rubber.

This weekend I was taken on a track day at Castle Combe by my friend in his Mazda RX8. Castle Combe is a difficult and dangerous circuit, 30% of all UK motorsport accidents happen on one particular corner there. It rained hard all day, and unbeknown to us, his car was fitted with chang-shin-suicide-tyres. It was good fun and very instructive and I think we were close to the ragged edge much more of the time than all the people who turned up with really fast cars and good tyres. The only things that we went past were the MGB, the Morris Minor, the Subaru that lost its exhaust pipe, the Clio that popped its oil cooler, the BMW that smashed into the tyre wall and oddly the Noble (probably being operated at that moment by the owner's granny).

The trick to circuit driving seems to be to do everything at a leisurely pace. Don't brake too early, don't turn in too early, don't apex too early, don't put all the power down too early, and when you're going sideways, don't panic too early.

Richard "Avon Roadrunner" B

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Slowly Slowly.

file under: impotent whining

There's a geological phenomenon called "lift and creep". Imagine a single piece of dust half way up a hillside. When the sun warms the hill it expands and pushes the speck of dust outwards (away from the centre of the hill). If, when the hill shrinks back, the dust were to lose its grip and fall it would end up fractionally below where it started. Even in the absence of wind and running water, over geological timescales, sediment and soil flows slowly downhill.

That's the speed that the traffic moves on the East side of Plymouth now that they're knocking down the Haye Road bridge and have traffic lights at the Deep Lane junction.

Richard "Chaddlewood to Deep Lane via Sparkwell, Venton, Lee Mill, and Smithaleigh" B

Tuesday 3 November 2015

New Shoes

file under: impotent whining

This weekend I have been more impressed by insects than the employees of a shoe shop. I looked at what my mason bees have produced and they've been brilliant. The original 24 cocoons have produced 75 new cocoons and some excellent defence measures. Every tube that they laid eggs in had a fake, unprovisioned cell at the end to deter intruders. In the few instances where a cell had been parasitised they bees had detected it and had left a large empty space and walled the maggots inside.

Feckless-youth-number-1 at Jones Bootmaker sold me a mismatched "pair" of boots. When I got home I realised that the box contained a left size 9 and a right size 10. I rang them and it took them an hour to find the pair to my left boot. I was a 15 mile round trip away and without my motorbike, the store manager had to ring the area manager before he could agree to pay for my parking and diesel when I came in to swap right boots. (they refused to deliver it). When I got back to the shop the manager wasn't present and feckless-youth-number-2 took an age to find my other boot. He then didn't know anything about my refund and said he would get in to trouble if he took money out of the till. When I told him that I would write him a receipt, and that he'd be in considerably more trouble if he didn't get my money the story changed to his not being able to open the till. Nearly-competent-youth-number-3 attempted to take my refund out of his own pocket, but didn't have enough change.

Richard "9.5 F on Loake last 026" B