Thursday, 29 March 2007

I think 'weir' near Alrewas.....

I'm always looking for new bits of river to go exploring. They're not always easy to get to (private land, too far to carry the kayak, steep or marshy banks), so often I'll study maps to find a bit of river near a canal, so that I can easily park, paddle down the canal and then cross over to it. I've paddled around Alrewas many times since, but when I first looked at this map I couldn't figure out what was going on. The River Trent and the canal appear to cross each other but there is no aquaduct. What's that other bit of waterway that goes between the river and the canal? Further along the canal (about a mile, just off this map) the canal and river are joined by yet another channel..who,what??.. which way is that flowing?? Okay quickly this is how it works..river flows from west, joins the canal (which is guarded by a lock on the west), the current is arrested by the weir (map central), the cannel north of the church is the mill race which leaves the river (west) over a wier then rejoins the river at the junction with the canal, narrowboats are stopped from being swept down river by the long floating guard fence on the larger weir then rejoin the canal system via a lock (east), at the point where the overflow channel leaves the canal to join the river below the main weir at the island (off map) which is in fact created by yet another old mill race just upsream of the meeting of River Trent & Tame. Right! You got it? So..question if one person drops a "pooh"stick in at the upper mill race and one at the same point on the river, who will win?? YOU weren't paying attention!!

Oh; that's what they were pointing at. Yes, my 'teapot' car is almost the same size as my kayak. When traveling on the motorway I have 'tack' across the lanes to get good fuel economy! " IF YE CATCH THE TRADE WINDS, WE'LL BE IN THE AMERICAS BY SPRING.."
We got into the water at the mill race, (now if you'd payed attention you'd know where that was wouldn't you!) I helped Jenny into her kayak, tucked her sray deck and pushed her carefully into the channel. No, don't wait for me, you just go and enjoy yourself...she'll be back, I've got the food!

No, I wasn't just behind you, nevermind! I'm not been fair, she is just happy to be out kayaking after her winter break. The mill race seems strange this time of year, in summer it's really narrow with reeds, flowers and dragonflies darting about.

This is where the race joins the river/canal. On the left is one of the many footbridges, they have been replaced over the years, but the old oak support stumps remain and if you're not careful you get hung up on them. When you paddle you spin hopelessly on the spot, and it's not like you can easily get out to push yourself off! Up ahead is a narrowboat, drifting (gearbox troubles) dangerously towards the hole in the floating guard above the weir...Happy days.

He was alright. It's odd seeing a road style sign on a river/canal. The little picture on the right with the barge being sucked over the weir makes me laugh. As you approach the weir you can hear a distant roar. There is a sign telling you to shoot the weir at your own risk, I've seen it, glancing frantically over my shoulder while desperately trying to escape the increasingly strong current!

If you hang onto this low bridge on the Trent and bounce up and down, you can make some cool waves (which combine with the currents to make larger ones) much to Jennys amusement.

Time for a break, and a bacon sandwich. MMMmmmm! BAAaacooon....

I love this little cooker that I take on my travels. It's made of titanium, it is minute and weighs grams!

Mind you it burns alcohol and you can't see the flame in daylight. I'm forever setting my fingers alight. MMMmmm! BAAaaacooon....

The ride back home is easy, gently pirouetting downstream, lying back in your kayak, a cup of coffee on your chest...OH CRAP it's fallen off! Up ahead, the village of Alrewas, with the landmark big brick mill.

This is an old mill, but it doesn't actually lean like that! That's just my crooked photograghy. The picture doesn't show it but there is quite a pull towards the weir at the top of the race as it passes under this mill (well there would be after all, it's a mill) and you don't want to be sucked down this weir, it's steep and full of rubbish..dangerous.(not waving,...drowning!)

Loaded up and off back home, (if the winds are favourable!)

Thought for the day...Why aren't cars dimpled?

I've often wondered about this, why aren't cars dimpled? You've probably asked yourself this a hundred times! Manufacturers spend millions trying to make cars areodynamic, shave a bit off there add a splitter here. The lovely Peugot above might be very good for clearing snow, but does it slip through the air as cleanly as, say, a golf ball?!
Golf balls used to be smooth and made of leather. People (if that's what you can call golfers) noticed that the older balls with the dents & nicks in them went much further. The modern golf ball with it's dimples goes up to 80% further than a perfectly smooth one. So, my thinking is that a dimpled car would go much faster!

I suppose dimples have never been applied to conventional cars because they are made of metal and it would take a long time to get the dimpled effect (anyone having watched the episode of "Father Ted" with the raffle car will already know this!) Although if you regularly park in Sainsburys car park you may already have the beginnings of the dimple effect on many of your side panels! BUT, if you take a plastic bodied car the dimples could simply be moulded. The Smart car is perfect, plastic panels which simply bolt on and off. Ahh.. but I here you ask, do I go down the icoshedral or the octohedral route, and, should I exceed the 0.38cm diameter threshhold? Well, I'll leave that up to you!

If you have a hail damaged car, let me know, was it faster before or after...

Monday, 26 March 2007

That's not going to wax out!

Today I drove my sister to the compound where her car was being stored after Saturdays crash.
The damage looked even worse in daylight. I don't remember the grill being quite so high up!

The bonnet has transformed into some type of blast shield!

This brings back memories of rolling my Rover Metro all those years ago. An understanding girlfriend put up with me even though I could have killed her..Sorry.

I managed to rebuild my beloved Metro within a couple of weeks, using a new bodyshell, but this little one eyed chap has had it I'm afraid.

Lucky there was no passenger in this car, as the nearside A-post has begun to collapse.

There.. I've put the bonnet down and it looks fine!...I think we could get away with selling this on E-bay! "Low mileage Nissan Micra (red), Taxed & Mot'd. Recently serviced, Slight attention to bodywork required."

Yes... the more I look at it, it's not so bad. I've seen worse mini cabs around "Newtown".
"Sorry mate, I'm not going south of Lozells this time of night!"

Why didn't the airbag go off? The fuel shut off was triggered, so by rights the airbag should have gone off as well. Perhaps you only get the airbag on the "GS", on this model you only get the steering wheel with the "airbag" logo! Just like on the Range Rover "Auto Biography" where you can order any extra you desire, but often the only one requested is the "Auto Biography" badge on the rear!!

Don't let this put you off driving fast. Just don't do it all the while!

Sunday, 25 March 2007

The Muntjac Quest...

The weather is warm, T-shirt weather in fact! Spring is definitely here. Time for a good walk to immerse oneself in nature. After a 2m drive & parking at Manorial Wood (recently fenced off after 30 years public access...those fences are just so flimsy, seem to get blown down by the wind almost every week!!!) I proceeded north to the woods at Moneymore, as it was known before the M6 Toll ripped through it! I stopped briefly to watch the Land Rovers etc go around the newly dug off road course. The tank is there to recover any stuck vehicles. "Can I help you?" the muddy man aggressively asked, he seemed to think I was there to complain. I was polite, (after all he did have a tank!). After a few words he realised that I was a fellow petrol head and went on his yomp jumping way.
On a familiar path I came across one of my favourite trees. Photos don't do it justice as its scale is lost. Sycamores, the much maligned British tree and often considered a nuisance or weed rarely gets the opportunity to do its stuff. When given the space and time they transform from that ungainly sapling with continually wet slimy bark to become a majestic tree, silver flaking trunk and a broad permanent girth. This one has a hollow that the sheep hide from the rain in.

I love this bit of countryside. It used to be "outwoods" (land beyond cultivation where you could freely forage & hunt), but during the "inclosures" of the 1800's many of these trees were planted as boundaries of the newly laid out fields. Left undisturbed this ivy growing on an Ash tree has reached epic proportions.

I came across the 'real' "My Little Pony". This one comes with horse blanky and interchangeable hooves!

Why do horses always follow me? They never seem to leave me alone. Perhaps that sandlewood soap I got for Christmas is really just saddle soap. This one followed me the length of its field (receiving several shocks off the electric fence) I had to give it a pat on the nose just as compensation.

The storms this winter have left loads of trees in this perilous state. I have to try hard not to go and give them a shove. My destructive nature often gets the better of me!

At last signs of, this is deer but too big.

Badger tracks. I used to try and follow these, badgers leave really good pathways that look just like human paths, but after tracking them for a mile or so you enevitably end up in a tangle of undergrowth. I'm 6 foot plus, badgers 1 foot minus; how many times have I ended up in brambles on hands and knees determined to see it through!

It's most defineately spring! At last! I used to like winter when we had one. Snow and ice, something to skid your car around on. But now, nothing, it's gone a bit dark, Oooh..a frost how will we get to work? Global warming, if petrol was cheaper I would leave my engine running overnight!!

I keep finding these. Walking along, in happy world of your own, whats this? Looks like the back of a sign, I'll go and see what it says. Why am I always on the wrong side of them? I suppose it explains why my feet are so muddy and my legs so very tired!

This tree has rescued me so many times. The "quarry people" keep on pinching hills. A useful landmark like a hill just can't be relied on anymore! One week it's there, the next week it's a 200 foot hole filled with silt. How am I meant to find my way home? This Beech tree has such a distinctive shape and has survived the wrath of quarrying for nearly two hundred years. It is really up high and I can always get home from here.

It's really starting to green up in the countryside now, but the trees are still bald..roll on summer.

Still haven't spotted any Muntjac. Time for a cunning disguise! (my head isn't that pointy)
Strange... they can still see me!

That's it, ...COMPLETELY invisible!
This mask is really warm and comfortable, to the point where you forget you're wearing it. Only when you say "Morning" to the frightened dog walker do you realise you're mistake!

This where the Muntjac hang out. On the silt beds. They like the new growth that springs up from here as the water evaporates.

Of course there's none here today, but that's because I've brought a camera!
Best go home then......

An average Weekend....

Minding my own business cleaning my car to the rear of the house; I hear a police siren, then another. All is quiet (well as quiet as it gets on this main road) for about 5 mins then I hear all this screaming and shouting as twenty odd kids come swarming down the road. Just a "chavs" day out I thought, until another police siren came into earshot. A startled hermit crab would withdraw into it's shell, chavs also hide in their shell(suits). Hoods up or caps pulled down they scattered, running breathless (from smoking from the age of five) in every direction. A group of "yobblings" bolted up my drive, and, as I debated whether to get "Mr. Sick" they turned about and made another desperate dash for cover. The Police managed to intercept some of the larger chavs, but the smaller unarrestable ones were left and not pursued because it may have demoralised them and stunted their social developement!!!!
"Mr. Stick" is 3 feet, 6 inches and made of good well seasoned pine. "Mr. Stick" helps me explain things to people not "willing" to learn.
Saturday night and I've settled down for the evening. The phone rings, and it is my sister. "I've crashed the car" she explains. "But I'm alright" she continues, "can you come and help?". Well I think what I might need to take. My head torch (because it's on a pitch black road), a few tools (the wing might need pulling away from the wheel), a tow rope (I bet she skidded into a ditch). As I pulled out of a lane onto the dark road I drove slowly so I could easily spot her. No nothing, but, as I reached the brow of the hill I could see a haze of multi coloured lights!...Two fire engines, an ambulance, four police cars and a good scattering of flourescent jacketed people waving torches to direct traffic!
The car was a mess. Forlornly lying on its roof like a turned tortoise, its little wheels helpless in the air. The once shiny panels now spattered with freshly ploughed up turf.

The road was wet and greasy, an oncoming car had failed to dip its lights. Blinded she had pulled away from the kerb on the left, but too sharply, and getting the car into a pendulumn slide eventually lost control.

The back wheels hit the kerb first, shortly followed by the front. With car sliding sideways, the back end dragging in the hedge the wheels began to dig into the soft verge, and over it went!

It slid further on its roof, wiping out the overgrown gorse at the side of the road. A gentle slope guided it back to road where it came to rest at the kerb.

After a brief struggle with the seatbelt, she managed to get out.

(sister with dad)
After a sniff of oxygen and an application of a warm coat she was free to go home!

Freindly Mr Policeman checks to see if the tax disc is up to date!

60 mph slide and then a roll, and to walk away without a scratch, tough little cars those Micras!!