Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Big Tobacco

Selling vaping products has been banned in San Francisco. The reason given is that the long term consequences and adverse effects aren't sufficiently known.

On the other hand, the long term consequences and adverse effects of cigarettes are certainly well known, yet the sale of cigarettes is not banned in San Francisco.

Do I detect the hand of Big Tobacco in this legislation?

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Just Desserts

I was filling my car up yesterday at the local fuel station yesterday, where there has been a problem for a couple of weeks with one of the pumps not being operational.

A driver decided he couldn't wait for the car ahead to move, left from the entrance and came in again from the exit side. The customer who was busy in the kiosk paying had to reverse out and exit from the entrance side, thankful there wasn't another car behind him. Rather ill mannered of the driver in a hurry, but it didn't affect me as I was on the other set of pumps.

When I came in to pay it transpired that the driver in a hurry had left his credit / debit card in the payment machine. While I was in a position to race after him in my car and give him his card back, I decided not to and that poetic justice should take its course.

Something I find inexplicable is drivers insisting on driving in with the fuel filler facing the fuel pump. With very few exceptions, any fuel pump has enough hose to reach to the other side of the car or van. People will queue for 10 minutes just to ensure their fuel filler is on the same side as the pump, despite the other side of the pump having no cars there.

Monday, 29 July 2019

Opulence in Avon

Hay and I attended a surprise 40th birthday party for one of our friends at the Avon Gorge Hotel in Bristol on Saturday evening.

The hotel belongs to the Hotel Du Vin group, which is a boutique chain noted for an opulent and yet slightly quirky style.

Walking into the foyer, you are greeted by this gorgeous chandelier, which comprises nothing more than a metal frame to which fairy lights are attached - very effective, and yet very low-cost.

It really appealed to us both.

Sunday, 28 July 2019

A Little Something for the Weekend, Sir?

Finally sussed this numbers thing with haircuts. My usual barber has gone on holiday for a couple of weeks, so I went to Bob's in Chipping Sodbury, whose customers seem to operate only in numbers. It was like a trip back into the early 1970s. Bob has room for one customer in the chair and two waiting. 

Anyway, it transpires I'm a 2-4-7. No. 2 on the sides, blending into a No,4 a bit higher up and a No.7 on top. Sir was additionally offered a trim of the eyebrow curtain at no additional expense.

Bob charges £12.50 at weekends, but those 65 and over get a discount of zero at weekends. OK, I'm not 65 till March, but I asked for weekend over-65s discount, just to confuse Bob. It took him a few seconds to twig.

Hay pronounced the No.7 'a bit short', so I may try a No.9 on top next time, but a No.7 means it's cheaper in the long run. I have been tempted with a No.2 on top, but I suspect Hay would not approve.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

A New Skill

I learned a new skill this week.

Picking a padlock with a couple of paperclips. Might come in handy in the future, but I had a helluva job finding 2 paperclips.

Friday, 26 July 2019

The Brexit Effect?

Got this via our local FreeCycle group. My God! I knew things were bad for some people, but dog food?

The poor woman must have moved on to cat food...

Thursday, 25 July 2019

The Roman Way

So, we have Boris as our PM. but how can 92,000 people choosing him be a mandate for anything? The truth is it isn't, but that's the system we have.

I have to say that I have high hopes of Boris. He may cultivate the bumbling, eccentric image redolent of a PG Wodehouse character, but he's an intelligent bloke whose flaw is that he treats truth and falsehood in in the same cavalier fashion to satisfy his enormous ego; what he said last week has no bearing whatsoever on what he may say or do this week. The days of honest politicians are long gone and with Boris they have simply never existed. His acolytes fawn on his every word and forgive the fact he doesn't exhibit a single, traditional, Conservative value - all because he's funny.

Those who know him well describe him as an internationalist, which doesn't sit well with the Brexit persona. This alone shows that Brexit, for him, is a convenient facade. Neither is he a racist or xenophobe, yet he plays to the racist and xenophobe gallery in pursuit of his goal.

You has to remember he is a classicist - he's studied Greek and Roman history. One also has to remember the phrase attributed to the Roman writer, Juvenal, when commenting on the decline of the Roman Empire; "Panem et circenses," or 'bread and circuses', which was used to decry the selfishness of common people and their neglect of wider concerns. The phrase implies a population's erosion or ignorance of civic duty as a priority. I believe Boris has taken the phrase as his mantra - he is, essentially, a one man circus who plays to people's baser instincts and understands what motivates them- well, some of them.

I was hoping Mrs May would do an Alec Douglas-Home on him and recommend someone else as being capable of carrying a parliamentary majority, but she bowed to custom.

The Conservatives are facing a by-election in Brecon and Rhadnorshire and the LibDems are widely predicted to win this seat from the Conservatives, further eroding their already slim majority. All it would then take is for a couple of Remain Conservative PMs to cross the floor and their majority would be wiped out. Or, they could simply threaten to cross the floor unless a 2nd referendum is held, which would leave Johnson as blameless as Pontius Pilate.

As I said, he's not a stupid man and certainly doesn't want to go down in history as the man who oversaw the dissolution of the UK. Nor does he want posterity to remember him as the PM who crashed the economy. He wants a long tenure, but maintaining the position of no deal will ensure it is only short and he is only too aware of this.

Not too much should be read into the appointment of the Dominic Cumminmgs, who masterminded the Leave win, as his strategist. Strategists do what they're paid to do, and all Boris wants is Farage neutralised before he does what he has to in order to ensure a long tenure. Putting arch Brexiteers into your cabinet keeps your enemies close and under control.

Promises of spend, spend, spend should be taken with a pinch of salt. Sure, there may be an initial splurge to quell the masses, but he is fully aware that a hard Brexit would reduce government spending for a long time to come.

We live in very interesting times and this is a ride I'm going to enjoy watching. All hinges of whether Boris' undoubted intelligence can triumph over his twin flaws of a monstrous ego and gargantuan hubris. Also whether he's not afraid to throw the hard Brexiteer, disaster capitalist backers who got him to where he is under a bus.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Peak Paddling

Couldn't manage to find a paddle / surf / windsurf board that can also be used as a kayak, so I plumped for a top-of-the-range, inflatable paddle board that doubles as a kayak. Got it from Bath on Facebook Market - 2nd hand and hardly used. A bargain.

We're off to the Peak District next week for a break and I'm sure we'll find a stretch of water somewhere to trial it on - the River Derwent or the Goyt Valley. The Derwent isn't far from Shrigley Hall, where we're staying. In fact there's a lake opposite, but you're not meant to go in it. Same goes for the lake in the Chatsworth Estate, but not being allowed to enter a body of water is a red rag to Hayley, who has previous on this matter.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019


Got myself an HMV Cavendish Beehive heater from the 50s - this was the inspiration for the heads of the DALEKs of Dr Who fame.

I was considering touching it up, but I think it's better in its original state and, while they're not all that expensive now, repainting old items can reduce their future value by half.

I'd like to find out exactly when it was made from the serial number, but I can't seem to find any information source as yet. However, looking at the model number, it does look as if it's a late model, as there were HC1 to HC5 models before this HC6 one.

I've joined the UK Vintage Radio Repair and Restoration forum where there are some threads on the Cavendish, so I await further assistance with model and serial numbers. It's always good to have a provenance.

People have a habit of turning broken ones into lamps - or DAKEKs...

Monday, 22 July 2019

Exit Through the Gift Shop

The Barnfield, Special Edition, Commemorative Mugs are finally ready.

The parents of one of my friends at work used to own a shop that did all this kind of stuff and they still have the machine that does the mug printing. He kindly did me a set with a manipulated photo of the house. Is it a mug's game?

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Yak Rack

The last time Hay and I went kayaking we decided that we'd invest in a proper yak rack, as merely strapping two kayaks to the roof rack bars wasn't the best method and we were in constant fear of the damned things potentially coming loose along the M5, not that they could have actually fallen off.

Works a treat and needs only one person to load them up. 4 strops instead of half a dozen or more that hum in the wind - much safer on the motorway and less stress.

Can't wait till we go off again, but the next time I'm intent on doing some sea bass and mackerel fishing with my new, 75cm mini-rod.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Shopping Lists

I don't know what all the fuss was about - the shopping list Hayley gave me for Lidl clearly said nuts.

So nuts are what I got.

Friday, 19 July 2019

Oast to Oast

Went to Tonbridge yesterday to pick up a Mini Cooper S and went through Five Oak Green, where there's a fruit nursery with a number of oast houses.

I do love the sight of oast houses - it's a bit like seeing an old windmill.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Paint Effects

Hay and a friend went on a course yesterday on paint effects in Wotton-Under-Edge - shabby chic and all that stuff. This one is her friend's piece.

And this one is Hayley's.

Rather effective.

Should have been done in Gulf Blue and Burnt Orange thought....

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Bones and the Balance of Trade

Trump has said he doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. It’s not his bones that are in question, but his brain.

The rise of a country, or its fall, radically reorganises the minds of the individuals who form its constituent parts. Being bounced from one rung of the pecking order to another reshapes personal emotions, warps the lenses of perception, and twists the course of behaviour. When the status of a nation slides, a frustrated electorate looks for someone to blame, preferably a character located conveniently close to home.

Britain’s economic slide in the 1860s was blamed on immorality, America’s slide after WWII manifested itself in 1940s and 50s McCarthyism and anti-intellectualism. In 2016 we in the UK had Brexit, with its scapegoating of the EU and attendant veneration of ignorance. America is in the throes of Trumpism and all that entails. The search for scapegoats happens whenever imports exceed exports and domestic industrial vigour declines in the face of competition.

A rise or fall in the hierarchy of nations has other profound effects on a society’s collective psyche. It transforms the emotions and shared values of the human herd. The nation moving up embraces adventure; the country moving down abandons the strange and buries its head in the familiar. It tries to march backward in time. These shifts in attitude are the result of prewired natural strategies. One of the most basic biological circuits in our animal brain dictates a simple set of alternatives. It makes us conservative in times of difficulty and exploratory when times are good.

Rather than looking into the causes of industrial decline, the conservative mind prefers to wrap itself in the cotton wool of past glories, which were afforded by unique circumstances at a particular time in history that are no longer replicable - in the case of the UK, coal, steam power, slaves, tobacco, sugar and an empire; in the case of the USA, almost limitless land, slaves, cotton, tobacco, immigration and the need for products to supply those immigrants.

Our problem in the UK is that we have been singularly unable to capitalise on our inventions, allowing the Germans, Americans and Japanese to turn our innovations into commercially successful products consumers want to buy. Believing that hamstring ourselves by leaving the level playing field of the EU will somehow increase our international competitiveness is a dogma rarely heard outside the confines of a religious establishment and matched only by the religious fundamentalist who ignores all and any evidence. It's blind faith that the past can mysteriously be resurrected without the fundamentals that made the past a success in the first place, while ignoring reality and barriers to success today.

Brexit is like finding that the care home you're about to book your aged mother into has failed its inspection and smells of urine and stale cabbage, while being told to believe in the transformative abilities of the unqualified and surly staff - after all, we won two world wars (with the aid of countless allies and would have lost without them).

At best, scapegoating is a nasty business. At worst, it is a sluggish form of suicide.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019


Went to a garage in Frampton Cotterell yesterday and spotted this old petrol pump which the owner, Paul, has on display outside the garage. It dates from the 60s.

I just love the colours of the old Gulf racing livery, which was used by a variety of cars in Le Mans.

The legendary Ford GT40.

The Porsche 917 driven in the film, Le Mans, starring Steve McQueen.

The updated GT40.

Even an MGB.

Doesn't look so good on a Fiat Abarth. Despite it being a fast little car, why would anyone want to drive a car that looks like a Fiat 500?

There are even Gulf liveried Triumph Daytonas.

The original Gulf colours were dark blue and orange, as in the image below, but the racing team manager thought the powder blue looked more exciting - and I agree.

Paul is a really nice chap - he offered to have a look at the Allen Scythe and get the flywheel off for me. I'll load it on the trailer later this week and see what he can accomplish. It was always my intention to give the Allen a make-over, so I might deck it out in Gulf racing livery if Paul manages to fix it.

Monday, 15 July 2019

A Busy Weekend

Hay and her sister have been really busy this weekend.

Naturally, I was shouting words of encouragement from the sidelines and decided to forgo the Newark Park Classic Car Show this year.

Oh, good shot, sir....

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Solenoid Summer II

Overheard in the kitchen:

Hayley: "My dad is wearing that black shirt you didn't want. Barbara shortened the sleeves to make it a short-sleeved shirt."

Chairman: "Glad he's found a new lease of life for it."

Hayley: "She also took the swastika off."

Disaster with the Allen Scythe. Tried to remove the flywheel in order to get at the solenoid and managed to unimprison the captive nut that held it on. Apparently (after looking for a relevant YouTube video) one is meant to give the ratchet spanner a few taps with a hammer after the first half turn in order to release the flywheel assembly from the tapered spline and then continue to unscrew it, but I just continued to unscrew it with an extension on the ratchet, as it was very stiff.

The silvered area at the end of the nut is where it came detached. I now have a 'spares or repair' item for eBay.

I did request assistance from someone in-the-know on a farming forum, but all I got back were commiserations from people who had suffered a similar fate when trying to remove the flywheel.

If I could somehow get the flywheel off then there's a good chance of reattaching the captive nut, but getting the damned thing off the tapered spline seems impossible. There must be a way though and I'm not going to give up just yet. If simply unscrewing a captive nut eases it off, something must be able to ease it off, although levering with screwdrivers has no discernible effect.

Any suggestions?

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Solenoid Summer

The common outside our house has been cut somewhat early this year and bundled into silage rolls.

Time to devote a weekend to getting the Allen Scythe dismantled, replacing the solenoid and hoping that's the issue preventing it starting. The question is, with such as full social calendar, when?

On top of all that, the ride-on mower has given up the ghost in a manner which is beyond my meagre ability to fix - the wheels are pointing outward due to one wheel hitting something and no amount of track rod adjustment will align them - summat's broke.

Friday, 12 July 2019


Hay and I went to An Evening of Music and Fireworks at the Defence Academy in Shrivenham last night. It was a fund raiser for various Armed Forces charities. We had an excellent time.

We got talking to the chap who owns the Spitfire and the Messerschmidt. The re-enactor who performed the part of the German, WWII fighter pilot was telling us that he was not allowed to wear his swastika medal by the organisers, yet it was emblazoned across the tail of the Messerschmidt.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Nautical Hirsuteness

I was wondering yesterday why beards are associated with nautical people and reached the following theory.

In days of yore, when ships were made of wood, men were made of steel and pansy was the name of a flower, water was precious aboard the old square riggers. Water was for drinking and not for wasting on shaving. Salt water, however, was plentiful, but you can't raise a lather with salt water. Hence sailors would forgo shaving for the duration of a voyage, arriving home looking rather hirsute.

What about parrots though? Army personnel went abroad too.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019


Went to the VW Heritage Centre in Bristol the other day to drop off a Golf R (a true beast of a machine) and saw this diesel electric hybrid vehicle:

At £80k, a bit tasty for me... It's the VW XL1, although it's already 8 years old.

Looks like something from the film I Robot.