Monday, 27 March 2006

Long rides

Now is the time when the stubborn carry on. The rational have reasoned their way elsewhere. Randonneur logic is not the common logic of the masses, it is a rarer application of obsession applied to goals that few understand.
- Kent Peterson [via his blog]

Sunday, 19 March 2006

Kestrel in our garden


(Photo by Captain Chickenpants)

Standing in the garden this afternoon, talking to my daughter who was prodding things with sticks, I heard a strange noise. Looking up, I saw two birds flying really fast and close together over the road next to our house. They collided just above our garden fence, and came to ground just by our garage; about 20 feet from me. Standing there on top of the now dead bird was a kestrel. It looked at me for a second or two, then flew off, with the dead bird in its claws.

Thursday, 16 March 2006

Sofa competition

Sofa Search 2006
- What do you love about your current sofa?
- Alternatively, what do you hate about it?
- What is it about sofas that interests or intrigues you?

Tell us all about the sofa (or sofas) in your corner of the country,
and you could WIN one of three top-of-the-line sofa packages.

[via Bloggerheads]

In the last competition that I entered that Manic plugged on his site, I won a Swiss Army Card, whiich was fantastic, but I lost it when I lost my wallet. We could do with a new sofa...

Sunday, 12 March 2006

Riding in a winter wonderland

Had a great ride round Hamsterley with some people from the Hamsterely Trailblazers today. I've no idea how far we rode, or how long it took. It was great being able to ride some of the non-waymarked trails in the forest, rather than having to stick to the black route like I do when riding there alone. It may become a monthly occurence.

Riding in snow is ace!

Saturday, 11 March 2006

The Red Pill

Excellent post on the problems with cars: Clever Chimp: More Red Pills. Every day I get a little bit closer to convincing Sarah that we don't need a car.

Friday, 10 March 2006

Doh Boy

Add bread to the list of stuff not to buy at the supermarket:

Doh Boy from Howies.

His name is Doh Boy and his mission is to take the fat back out of bread. Doh Boy reckons ‘we don’t kneed it’. The only reason it is there is to help make bread quicker to make and make it last longer on the shelf. Doh Boy thinks this technique (called Chorleywood) has made fatter profits for those who make and sell it. But it has also made us all a little fatter as a result.

Stealth fat is a growing problem. These are the fats that we don’t know are there. We expect there to be fat in a chocolate bar. But we don’t expect 3 slices of some breads to have as much fat as that chocolate bar.

Three Day Weekend

Power cut at work at 10 this morning, so we all went home. Class.

Seeing the web differently

I just came across a website that looked really washed out, so I adjusted the angle of the leptop screen to try to improve it. I tilted it back much further than I usually have it and, wow!, the web has loads more colours than before.


Wednesday, 8 March 2006

Long freeform MTB 'races'

Caution: long, rambling post ahead! (This post should have more links, but it's late. I might put them in later. There's always Google (if you need a link to find that there's no hope).)

I've been reading a lot of blogs by people who ride long distances on their bikes (Matt Chester and Kent Peterson). The Great Divide Race last year sounded superb (Canada to Mexico along the line of the Rocky Mountains), and races like Trans-Iowa and Ride Across INdiana. There was a longish Scandinavian race for fixies too, Le Tour Retard(?). And I've read a bit recently about the early days of the Tour de France that makes the current race sound really tame.

A colleague of my dad's rides brevets, audax (audaxes?), randonees (basically long rides with checkpoints), like London-Edinburgh-London. Mad distances.

After riding some Sustrans routes, I've had a few ideas for long MTB 'races' (though I use the term loosly), across the North East. I was thinking of things like Barnard Castle-Bishop Auckland-Sunderland along the W2W Sustrans route with checkpoints along the way (or tasks, like noting down collection times from specific post boxes).

I just found a page with a set of ideas, all of which sound pretty cool, randoneé + alleycat. Great quote:

It's like a horrible auto wreck between a car driven by a French randonnée and one driven by an alleycat race. One part long-distance, self-supported fast touring, one part on-the-fly, all-out speed driven routing. A match made in heaven? A recipe for disaster?

Anyway, just rambling thoughts.

Tuesday, 7 March 2006

Riding in the rain

This afternoon, I rode out to Hurworth to teach a class there. It's only about 4.5 miles each way and I can't go too fast and get sweaty, but it's a really nice spin out on a work afternoon and it's 9 miles I wouldn't otherwise get to ride. 9 miles fitter. Total milage for today is 14 miles (map), all on the road.

Distance: 14 miles
Surface: Road
Time: About 1.25 hours total, in 4 journeys
Weather: Cold and damp
Bike: Singlespeed Kona Hahanna commuter bike, with 2.25″ knobbly tyres

Grow your Own

Firstly, add four pinches of insecticide. Two pinches of fungicide. And two measures of herbicide.

After picking, store in conditions that reduce the oxygen from 21% to 3% and replace with the corresponding amount of CO2 . This is perfect for stopping the aging process so the salad still appears fresh, but it can't stop the goodness being lost with each day that passes.

Keep in this state for anything up to a month.

Then take some chlorine, 50mg per litre should do it, a measure the equivalent of 20 times the strength of your local swimming pool. And gently rinse.

Then simply bag, ready for sale.

- From Howies

And that's why we'll be growing our own salad leaves this year.

We're also going to be getting most of our veg delivered by a local Veg Box company, Farm Around North. They deliver to our area on a Wednesday. We'll be getting a standard veg box and a standard fruit bix at first, then seeing how things go.

Monday, 6 March 2006

Darlington Farmers' Market

Darlington Farmers' Market is third Friday of every month:

Location: Market Place
Town: Darlington
3rd Friday Monthly
9:00 am to 4:00 pm

From NAFM.

Organic and local

We're trying to be healthier and wiser.

We're only buying meat from our local butcher; it's all locally farmed, well cared for, properly butchered and tasty gorgeous. We take our Ellie (2) to the butchers with us; she knows ham, pork, sausages and gammon all come from pigs, and that mince and beef come from cows.

At the supermarket, we try to buy organic where we can. Just about all of our meals are cooked from scratch, without even using sauces from jars. We're looking into a local organic box vegatable service, so we can buy even less from the supermarket. Even food that seems like a good choice at the supermarket is questionable; the salad bas and fruit are generally covered and washed in all sorts.

This summer, we're going to try growing some salad leaves from seed in growbags, and maybe some potatoes in pots, and tomatoes.

Ellie (usually) eats whatever we're having. When Libby (4 months) starts on solids, we'll be giving her selected bits of our meal blended up, rather than jars or preprepared food. We all sit at the table together to eat, and the TV is turned off. Sarah has started baking with Ellie every weekend, making things for our teas and my packed lunches.

Our car sits on the front for much of the week. It gets used occasionally on a weekend, and on a Monday; very rarely at any other time. We're going to get a smaller car next time, or maybe not bother replacing it. I ride my bike to work, Sarah and the kids walk just about everywhere.

I'm going to start putting up some links and things here related to all this, and photos of the veggies and food.

Thursday, 2 March 2006

I'm back baby!

Wireless internetting, with a fresh XP install. Fabbo.

Also, drinking a lurverly 15 year old expression of Laphroig single malt my dad brought me back from Scotland. Thanks, dad.

Wednesday, 1 March 2006

Swaledale - Moresdale Road and Fremington Quarry

Another quick post before I forget.

Last Saturday (18th February) I met up with a few guys from the Hamsterley Trailblazers forum, for a ride in Swaledale. Great ride, with cool people, in fantastic weather. Of the five of us, three were riding full-sus and I was the only one with rigid forks, but I didn't lose too much time on the downhills. The climbs were much easier than I remembered them being when we rode their every week; riding to work every day is definitly good for you!

Distance: 17 km
Surface: Off-road
Time: 2 or 3 hours (broken watch)
Weather: Cool, but dry and sunny
Bike: Inbred, with 2.1″ knobbly tyres