Sunday, 27 May 2007

The Perambulations of Micra....

Little Micra wasn't well... He'd developed a limp, and in recent months it had got a lot worse! All the grumbling and the knocking noises had been ignored, and now all he could manage was to drive in a straight line. Right hand turns had been painful for quite a while, and trips to the shops had become quite convoluted only being able to turn left! Master would have to take a look at it....
Uh Oh! Major surgery needed! "What? No, I didn't say anything bad, It's just a 'flesh' wound". Micra was getting panicky, he would have to have his battery disconnected if he didn't calm down.

This is what he needed. A new constant velocity joint. I hate fitting these and this is why I'd put it off so long.

A replacement suspension arm was also needed, the former one had been 'mysteriously' damaged by a big hammer wielded by a frustrated unnamed party. Micra said this stung as well now!

After several hours of banging, swearing and throwing of heavy tools, thing were starting to look a little improved. Now lets see if I can find something stronger to replace that string!

Right, everything back in place, bolted, torqued, lubed and pinned. Micra felt much better. Master was right, it hadn't been anything to worry about, and little Micra was embarrassed at having made such a fuss.

So, what are these leftover bits for?......

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Hedgehogs fight during Moonshot....

It was a clear night (makes a change!) The moon looked particularly luminous and crisp, so I decided to see if I could get a few shots. I was chuffed with my new camcorder, and with the optical zoom alone I managed to get a nice picture. Lots of craters, I couldn't get that sort of detail with my old faithful VHS cam!
Shooting video allowed me to get even closer due to the higher shutter speed..."What's that noise?..."
Snuffling sounds, rustling and now loud squeals! The cat streaks past me, looking very concerned. I quickly unscrewed the camera from its tripod and rushed up the garden...

To my surprise, all this commotion was being caused by hedgehogs!

Normally quiet and placid, these little chaps were having a real fight.

I'm not familiar with the rules of hedgehog fighting, but it seems to be, run in circles and try to bite your oppositions nose off!

I suppose when you're both covered in spines it somewhat limits any other tactics!
All noses intact, it seemed that one had apparently won. The loser retired to the sanctuary of the tarpaulin over the kayaks.

"What do you mean, you want a saucer of pilchards?"...."You had pilchards yesterday!"...

"Don't you threaten me...."

"Right, pilchards it is then!"..

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Tuesday night is Bike night!...

This is 'Bassetts Pole'. Here there is literally a pole/ signpost that marks the boundary between two counties. It is now dominated by a large traffic island, and adjacent to this is Bassett Pole pub. In the summer, Tuesday night is 'bike night'..... A couple of years ago this used to be a huge weekly event (over 2 thousand), with racing, stunting, bareback riding and knee sliding. Unfortunately, following the death of a spectator, the police have become obsessed with squashing this meet.

Despite some rather 'unfair' tactics on behalf of the police, this get together is still popular.

As you approach, all you can hear is a distant thunder, a combined rumble of a thousand illegal exhausts!

'Big Brother' is watching you! I counted 4 traffic police cars equipped with ANPR (automatic number plate recognition), 2 vans with ANPR, 3 patrol cars, 2 vans, 1 unmarked pursuit car, 2 mobile motorbikes, 3 parked bikes, an occasionally circling helicopter and this mobile CCTV unit complete with 20ft camera topped mast! This isn't a Hells Angels meet! Most of these bikers are just ordinary business men. The police really don't like these gatherings, but thanks to the bloody mindedness of the bikers it continues every year!

If you ever wondered what your tax was being spent on... Well of course they need a Mercedes! Our 'under funded' police force couldn't be expected to run a budget car. They obviously have a legitimate use for the 28 speaker surround sound stereo, the self levelling gas suspension, the 12 point adjustable seats with 8 air bladders, heating and massage, the split cabin environment can't expect them to be uncomfortable when they're sat on their bums all day!!!

The plain clothes team have their cover blown again. 'Something' was giving them away...

This Suzuki was a work of art. Extended rear arm allows transmission of all the power without flipping you off the back. This mod isn't as simple as it seems, if you notice, the bodywork and even the exhaust have been altered in sympathy in order to maintain the proportions of the bike.

Oversize sprocket with 'cush' drive and one cool wavy edge disc!

Bennilli Tornado, this is one of my favourite bikes. That's one distinctive back end, and it'll be getting very small very soon! You know that it is delivering some awesome power to warrant that sort of cooling.

There weren't as many trikes as usual. This one is OK, but some of them are just crazy. There is often a big black one running a Jag V12, and just to give a little extra umph he's fitted it with two Garrett T3 turbos...madness (and I love it!)

This is my cup of tea. Ugly as fuck I know, but it'll do everything. Fast and comfortable on the road, big enough for two plus equipment.

And when you get to the end of the road you can keep on going, anywhere you like! I could have some adventures on this...

I was just about to leave when I heard a noise I liked. There are a few of these around my local area, but this is the gorgeous Lambo I see arse tailing it down my road late at night!
These don't come cheap, and the owner had more labels than a jam factory.

When you stand round the back of this beast, the up swept exhausts jet scalding gas at your face, and when the throttle is blipped it blows your hair back. It's one of the most fun ways of losing your eyebrows!
After what seemed an eternity of careful reversing from the cramped car park (you don't even want to think of the consequences of knocking a line of bikes down), the Lambo made it's escape, the crackle of the exhaust spitting flame on the over run as it scrubbed speed for the island!
With the sun beginning to set I made my way home, until all I could hear was a distant rumble...

Friday, 18 May 2007

First sign of madness!...

These signs keep popping up all over the place lately. They are much better than GATSOs, at least these only display your speed rather than fining you by post for going one mile an hour over the limit! Whether or not they are effective at reducing accidents has yet to be proved. They are universally used by 'boy racers' to measure their top speed (they're going to have to add another digit on that!). They also look pretty expensive, which is sort of my point. You want to get your moneys worth, so, location is paramount. This one is on the Boldmere Road in Sutton Coldfield. All would appear fine, until, you draw back.... Further back.....

And now, step into the road....this is the view you get from a car!
The IDIOTS! What a absolute waste of money! It must take some time to erect these signs, surely you would notice your mistake?
The authorities require more and more money off you every year, and they're just pissing it all away!!!
Now this equipment will only indicate the speed of pedestrians walking between the bus stop and the sign!...Careful now!

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Don't lie to me...

Number '263'. This had been showing up on my GPS for ages. It was a 'waypoint' I had entered in my old crude 'Etrex' back in 2001. I had obviously neglected to give it a name, and now every time I drove towards Lichfield it would pop up on my screen. I'd forgotten what it was. I couldn't get to it by road, I could only circle it, never getting less than 1/4 of a mile from it. I got out of the car at a high point and scoped the horizon with the aid of the zoom on my camcorder. A familiar outline. I'd seen this before. It was a nuclear 'observer' bunker. That bench was fooling no one!
Nearly a decade ago I lived for a short while part time on a protest camp, campaigning against the new toll motorway or the 'BNRR' as it was known. I feel I must point out that I am not anti-road and most definitely not anti-car, but I am totally opposed to tolls (it was a grand day that the 'turnpike trust' was abolished!). This road was just a money spinner by 'fat cats', it duplicated another motorway route and in the process cut through woods, unreplaceable countryside, greenbelt land, split up farms making them unviable and destroyed peoples homes bought up by compulsory purchase orders! Anyway, I digress...The reason I mention this is at that time protesters would occupy any woods or buildings along the proposed route. This bunker fell on this route and was broken into and inhabited for a short while.
This is what annoys me....It was reported in the local paper, national papers and on TV that this bunker would be destroyed during the construction of the M6 Toll. The official impact report issued by the department for the environment confirmed this as fact. Later reports declared this bunker as demolished. I've checked the maps, they didn't change the plans, this wasn't a mistake...they lied!...Don't lie to me!.....

You can see from this hastily sketched plan that the surface details match. Well, apart from the stonking big orange mushroom of flame!
These observer bunkers are a cold war legacy. Designed for two men, (I don't know what that third man is doing in there, they're not going to repopulated a nuclear devastated earth like that!) the observer corps would monitor the position and effect of any nuclear attack. It wasn't a long term survival bunker, it would only facilitate a fortnight underground, (they obviously got paid by the week!)

Saturday, 12 May 2007

The nine lives of Lucy...

Lucy, if that is her name, I'm not sure, isn't my cat. She lives up the road, but we've become good friends. She is forever in the back garden, day and night, hunting and getting into mischief!
Then, gone... haven't seen her for well over a week. Much too fond of bolting across the busy road without looking, I fear the worse.
While sitting on my log in the long grass at the top of the garden drinking coffee, a face suddenly appears!
Yes, 'cheekychops' was back!

"Wad you mean, where have I been?"

Lucy brought along a 'worried' looking friend. This is the nervous kitten that always runs away when you approach. It spends literally hours crouched under the bird table looking up expectantly. Not unusual for a cat you think, but this kitten does it at night! Who knows it might get lucky and catch a passing owl or night jar, but I don't think so!

Now bold with the back up of her new 'hard' mate, she was brave enough to taunt this innocent beech mast floating in the bird bath.

Although she couldn't quite figure out why when she stood on this one particular spot under the wobbly bird bath it would mysteriously begin to away, STOPPED RAINING, creep back to the same away...creep back.. She'll learn, or maybe not!

Happy to be back, even though she denies going anywhere, she was determined not to be moved from the warm, sunny bench at any cost!!

PLeeeaasse don't make me get off, I'll be good. What can you do? Looks like it's my turn on the floor again...

Monday, 7 May 2007

"From little acorns...."

This is Chris and Alex, Russell and Maxines cheeky chappies. See them at . Sitting in their rocking chairs you might think they're ready to retire, but actually they are just about to complete their first year! To mark this milestone I decided to plant them a tree....
Grown from seed and now fully 'hardened off' this Common Ash needs a home. Ash are hardy, robust and grow huge.

They're also very heavy!

So, where do we plant it? It needs to be somewhere that it can have a chance of maturing, undisturbed by developments. 'Rock Hill' near Hints village seems ideal. It may not look that promising from the map, but it is high up, accessible by footpath, and the area is already planted with saplings as a continuation of the 'National Forest', so it should be left alone.
Unfortunately the hill is also nearly 500ft, and I've got to lug a tree, a water carrier, spade and anything else up to the top! I'm pleased to introduce my faithful Sherpa...Jenny.

At the top, once my vision cleared and the palpitations slowed, I began to dig the necessary hole. There were some bad words said as my spade repeatedly bounced off the surface. It was like concrete. Luckily it was only a crust of 'bunter' pebbles and once through it got substantially easier.

These might look like something you would hang in a budgie cage, but actually the soil is a bit sandy up here and in its early years this little sapling will need this slow release fertilizer until its roots are big enough to cope. They remind me of those sesame snaps you can buy in health food stores. I am a bit peckish after all that digging..I wonder...NO, nasty!

All tucked in, and just in the nick of time, the wind is picking up and it looks like rain. Tethered to a firm stake by a degradable sleeve, I give it a final water and, that's it for another 200+ years!

The views up here are great. You can see for miles in most directions, and it's the best place for watching sunsets.

When little Alex and Chris are older this is where they can find their tree.

And because my 7 year old GPS isn't very accurate, look for this sign next to it. It should last, your names are burnt onto a 2 inch thick slab of oak.

Not so sure about the durability of my crude (only had a sheath knife) carving, but should it deteriorate you can whittle your own now you've got your matching rocking chairs!