Friday 22 March 2024

Weekend Getaway

 I've recently come back from a weekend getaway in Norfolk. As well as socialising, eating, drinking, and looking after the family plot in the cemetery, it was mainly a residential safety course.

I got a demonstration of skid control and recovery. This was performed unexpectedly on a patch of diesel on the Norwich Distributor Road in an unloaded Toyota Hi-Lux which was in rear wheel drive.

I got a lesson in chainsaw practice and safety during which we felled and logged a tree.

I got a lesson in how to use lockwire. My final project was judged by a licenced aircraft engineer and was at a standard that would have been certified as safe for flight.

Richard "Tourist Information" B

Monday 4 March 2024

City Break

 A couple of weeks ago I hosted my brother and one of his friends on their "gents city-break in Plymouth". We ate pasties and drank Plymouth gin. We maintained a length of my ancient Devon hedge. We observed bleak grey seascapes in heavy drizzle, we looked at moorland from indoors, we saw the ugly brutal architecture of the city centre in cold heavy rain, and we saw the inside of several (warm, dry) pubs.

I was reminded of a conversation that one of my colleagues had. "Isn't Plymouth beautiful?" "Yes, when you've got your back to it".

He's absolutely right, it's surrounded by moorland, rolling Devon hills and wooded valleys, cliffs, islands, estuaries, lighthouses, and harbours. But the city itself isn't much to look at.

Richard "Tourist Information" B


 For the latter decades of my curatorship of the family lawnmower I had a very nice fuel mixing bottle, but I gave it away with the mower. Now I am a chainsaw owner I need the same thing again, but they're all trash. The top on the one I bought leaks terribly and I have been unable to fix it. Literally every other mixing bottle (except the expensive Stihl one) is the exact same moulding, and I can only assume is equally badly made.

Fine. I'll do it myself.

All I need is a clear bottle with a good screw cap, and a narrow neck, so that the measurements are somewhat accurate. I finished a bottle of rum and bought a measuring cylinder and I've now marked the empty bottle at 700ml and 714ml so that I can mix up a batch of 50:1 two stroke fuel.

Yes, since I own a measuring cylinder I did calibrate all the measuring jugs in my kitchen, wouldn't you

Richard "Lambs Navy Petrol" B

I Bet You

 I've got involved in a massively convoluted and expensive wager. One of my team can't drive and is starting to find it mildly inconvenient. I have previously wondered aloud whether I'm good enough at circuit driving that I could get a race licence. So we've challenged each other, who can get their respective licence first.

I will keep my readership informed of any important updates in this wager.

My rival has edged ahead as she's already applied for a provisional licence, while I still haven't actually ordered my Go Racing Pack from UK Motorsport. The bit I'm most worried about is what car I'm going to be in and which circuit I'm going to be at when I take the test. As far as I can tell the only hard and fast requirements for the car are that it has a passenger seat and an H pattern gearbox. Whether the driving school will accept my kit car, which has both of those, and which I'm confident driving, is another matter. Hiring cars at racing circuits is spendy.

Richard "Phileas Fogg" B

Fault Report

 Once, back in the old days I was adding a new feature to a ferry company's online booking system and I got the best fault report I've every received. I had added the feature to be able to take a bicycle on your crossing, and I'd done it exactly how they'd asked me to. However they had certain business rules at their end that I didn't know about. A bicycle is a type of vehicle and it makes its crossing on the car deck. When you book a vehicle their system might know exactly how much space it takes on the car deck, but if they've never heard of it before they assume that its 1.9m high and 5m long.

In reality bicycles are lashed to the handrail at the end of the car deck and take up approximately no space, however the booking system was assuming that they would take up 5m of space in an area that had a ceiling at least 1.9m high. You only had to book a few bicycles on a crossing and the car deck would be noticeably sparse, and vans would get turned away because the "wouldn't fit".

I was rung up by one of the people from the ferry company's computer centre. A woman with whom I had a friendly but professional relationship, and whom I had most certainly never heard swear.

"Richard" she said "bicycles are fucking massive this year".

Richard "lead passenger" B