Thursday, September 30, 2010

James Dean - 45 Years On ...

Amazing to think that it's 45 years today since Jimmy Dean died. Still an icon. No matter what you do in life you'll never be this cool...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Frankenstein Rebuilt ...

And yes, as you've guessed by the previous post, the 'Frankenstein' is finally on the road. At the last count it's made of parts from 9 different cycles, and it rides beautifully.

Official Police Cycle Marking In Surbiton ...

Last year, 131,1000 cycles were stolen in the UK (including one of mine, plus another one this year :-8 ), and only about 8% were ever recovered. Why so low? Because most owners (like me) were too lax or lazy in their security, ignoring the good advice set out by experts such as the London Cycling Campaign.

London Police's Cycle Task Force have recently been very active in carrying out cycle marking sessions, and I was fortunate today to get mine done in Surbiton, about 100 yards from my front door - so no excuse whatsoever to ignore the opportunity.

The procedure consists of logging all your personal and cycle details, which are later uploaded to the Bike Register site, which the Police themselves will use if your ride is ever stolen and then recovered.

Then a code is marked on your cycle in an unnoticable position to aid identification alongside the frame number and description. (In the image I've smudged my number, it is a lot clearer than the image suggests!) Thirdly, an optional sticker is supplied, as a deterrent to potential thieves.

Total time - about 6 minutes.

I don't know how permanent the coding is (remember you've still got the frame number logged) but apparently it eventually dries so clear that it is likely to be overlooked by a thief.

Seems like a no-brainer, now. Maybe this bike has a fighting chance of being wornout instead of being nicked. Apparently this process makes your cycle 57.5% less attractive to the scum that take our much-prized rides.

If you want to catch up with these guys in London, check your local papers - or even better, make sure you visit the Cycle Show at Earls Court from the 8th to the 10th of October where the Marking Crew will be there all day long.

Outside London you'll have to check with your local Police Force - and if they're not running a scheme like this, complain until they do.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Lessons In Manliness From Beowulf ...

Hard enough to be a man these days with changing roles and values: the excellent website 'Art of Manliness' should be required reading for all of us.

Beowulf is an epic poem, one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature, by an anonymous poet from somewhere between the 8th and the early 11th century. It might just remind us what it is to be a man, even in the 21st century.

Read more here.

Worlds Largest Offshore Wind Farm Opens Off Kent ...

Hey, UK, welcome to the future - these days it's difficult for a tiny island nation like us to have the biggest or best of anything - after all, we're only little. So we should be very proud of this.

What a shame that less than 20% of the £900m investment in the project has gone to British firms. The 20% figure is at least better than the 10% reported by E.ON and its partners on the London Array scheme – another offshore windfarm – which will open in 2011, but is still an embarrassment to government.

The UK is currently 25th out of 27 in the EU League Table on renewable energy, and it seems even when we do something about it, we need to get our European neighbours to build it for us.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Montana, US, Woman Fights Black Bear With Courgette ...

A woman from the US state of Montana has fought off a 200lb (91kg) black bear with a courgette from her garden.

The bear attacked one of the woman's dogs on the back porch of her home late on Wednesday evening, Missoula County Sheriff's Lt Rich Maricelli said.

Jeez, they breed'em tough in Montana.

UK Armed Forces In Afghanistan Honoured For Bravery ...

A teenager who seized a Taliban leader and a man who neutralised 42 bombs in 72 hours are among scores of UK service personnel to be honoured for gallantry.

A total of 131 members of the armed forces are to be awarded medals in the latest Operational Awards List.

Most medals, to be presented by senior royals at a later date, will go to soldiers from 11 Light Brigade - the UK's lead formation in Afghanistan.

Full list of awards from the MOD site is here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Art Exhibition at Surbiton YMCA ...

If you're near Surbiton (Surrey, in the UK) this weekend (Saturday the 25th) pop along to the YMCA (Victoria Road) for an Art Exhibition by a friend of mine, Kitty Wadlow, and Adam Dreadman Collins.

The abstract self-expressionist works are on the theme of Mental Health. Well worth seeing. It's open from 10.00am to 6.00pm. See the Facebook entry here.

You may as well make a day of it in town as Surbiton Festival is on too!

So Why Did We Ever Let Women In The Military ... ?

(Only kidding...Really, I'm just kidding.)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tour Of Britain - Stage 8 In London ...

What a terrific day out - spoilt only by the tube closures which made it a bugger to get to!

Full album at my Picasa Page.

London Tube - Closure Of Circle Line ...

Dear TFL - You have no idea how pissed off I was on Saturday morning.

I was heading to the Tour Of Britain (Stage 8) in London's Royal Docks (see next post) so I decided to take my freshly rebuilt mountain bike on the train and tube, to get close enough to cycle the rest, as encouraged to do by mayor Boris.  Cycles are allowed on only certain tube lines, but I knew the Circle Line would get me there.

But, on a big day for cycling in the Capital, (with the Pope in town as well) there were several line closures for 'engineering' - most infuriatingly, the Circle line - which just happens to be the ONLY WAY a cyclist can get from just about anywhere in London to the eastern parts, close enough to the Royal Docks.

I can tell you that the closure was a major talking point at the coffee stands at the Docks, and the cause of a lot of anger. It was even mentioned over the PA to a chorus of 'Boo!'s. Such a great shame that all the good work for cyclists put in by TFL and Boris has been undone in just one day. And would you believe that TFL were one of the race sponsors! What a cock-up.

Is this what we can expect when the Olympics comes to town in 2010?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Unstoppable Cavendish ...

It's me, mum! The fastest man - in the world - on two (unpowered) wheels strikes again.

Tour Of Spain Stage 18 - Mark Cavendish takes third Vuelta stage to tighten grip on green jersey

What a shame he's not here at home in the Tour Of Britain, which finishes in London on Sunday (I'll be there!) but the Spanish Event just has greater prestige, and of course neither event gets anywhere near 'Le Tour'.

Can't wait for 2011 when hopefully I'll be over in France for a few stages.

PostScript: Cav went on to win the Green Jersey - first Brit to win a Major Tour Jersey for 21 years. Roll on the World Championships.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Few Photos From A Recent London Trip ...

Having had the time to pop into London a week or so ago, I took the time to take a walk along the South Bank and shoot a few pics, before nipping into the Tate Modern. Some interesting stuff happens along the Thames most Sundays.

Urban Art Corner, South Bank, 2010.

An area set aside for graffiti artists to do their stuff. Some real talent here, beautiful imagery. Quite like to have some of this on a wall.

Video Art Installation, Tate Modern, 2010.

By Francis Aly, who set an urban fox loose in an art gallery at night and filmed it's movements. It was fascinating to watch, and drew quite a crowd, watching as the fox dissappeared from one screen and reappeared in another. You can see the fox in the full-size image (click to zoom) in the 2nd column, 3rd row.

Sand Art Sculpture, Thames at the South Bank, 2010.

Ingenious and very clever (and entrepreneurial) artists gather on the Thames as the tide goes out, to create these scultures, depending on passing tourists to throw a few coins. I liked this one.

Book Fair, South Bank, 2010.

A regular (monthly?) book fair held under the bridge on the Thames. Loads of tables crammed full of rare and not-sorare (but cheap) books. A gold mine for readers in London.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

50 Ways To Learn To Hover ...

Global Warming? It Doesn't Exist, Says Ryanair Boss Michael O'Leary ...

Reason no. 258 not to fly RyanAir. As if you needed any more.

Seeing as most of the real world is waking up to the environmental issues that await us in the coming decades, I wonder if Michael O'Leary has just pissed off most of his potential customer base.

See also Twenty reasons never to fly Ryanair.

Cats Let Loose In IKEA For A Commercial ...

Someone at IKEA in Wembley, England had the awesome idea to release 100 cats into their store at night after closing. Why? Because it'd be fun. Check it out.

Of course, it didn't hurt that they had a professional crew on hand to document the craziness and turn it into a sure-to-be-viral video.

England Cricket On A Roll ...

Does anyone remember when England last lost a series? I can't.

Answers, please to No prizes, I'm just too lazy to Google it.

Battle Of Britain Commemorations ...

Who doesn't recognise this silhouette?

It's the instantly identifiable Supermarine Spitfire, of course, known by every Englishman and woman as the plane that won the Battle Of Britain (with the Hawker Hurricane, naturally.) at the hands of 'the few'

I think it's wonderful that even now, 70 years on, with so few left alive that were there at the time, we still know this aircraft just from it's silouette.

Battle of Britain Day is celebrated on the third Sunday in September (today) every year, and especially so this year, the 70th Anniversary.

We haven't forgotten.

The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. All our hearts go out to the fighter pilots, whose brilliant actions we see with our own eyes day after day.
 - Sir Winston Churchill, 20 August 1940

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Judges Told 'Be More Lenient To Women Criminals' ...

British Judges have been told to deal less severely with female criminals than men when determining how to sentence them.

Yeah, whatever happened to sexual equality, then? Seems like things have turned too far around the other way, now, and men are getting bashed in the media constantly. And now it's the law, giving softer sentences for women than men, for exactly the same crime.

Watch For This One In London 2012 ...

Regular visitors to this site will know I'm a bit of a cycling fan, having written about Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy and Mark Cavendish - and here's the one I'm tipping for huge success at London 2012. You may not have heard of her, but she's a quiet Northern lass who just happens to be probably the best young female cyclist in the world.

Still only 21, Lizzie Armitstead, from Beverley in East Yorkshire completed a full house of medals at the 2009 World Track Championships in Poland, winning the Gold medal in the Team Pursuit, a Silver medal in the Scratch and a Bronze medal in the Points race.

Since then she's gone on to set the cycling world on fire, having already won Golds in Scratch Races, Team Pursuit, Points Races and Road Races.

As of Friday this week, she's just won THREE back-to-back stages of the Tour De Ardeche, against far more experienced competition, and is currently in 4th place overall, just 93 seconds behind.

The really nice thing is that having seen a few interviews with her, she's just seems to be a very relaxed, down-to-earth girl who happens to be very determined to get to the top in her chosen sport.

Elizabeth won Britain's first medal at 2012 - Silver. :-))

PostScript: 27th September 2015 (Yes, 5 years on)
Lizzie Armitstead is World Champion.

Anniversary Of 9-11 ...

Thursday, September 09, 2010

So Now We Know ...

Koran Book Burning ...

The last guy who thought book-burning was a great idea was Hitler.

See more political cartoons at the excellent


As of tonight, Thursday Sept 9th, common sense has prevailed and the Koran Burning has been cancelled.

UAF Demo on November 6th ...

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing."
- Dr Martin Luther King

Over the last few years, we have seen the growth of racism in Britain and across Europe. We have seen racist and fascist parties like the BNP win seats in the European Parliament and poll large numbers of votes in local and national elections.

Worryingly, we have also seen the rise of a right-wing street-fighting movement – the English Defence League and its sister organisations.

The national demonstration and carnival called by Unite Against Fascism and the Muslim Council of Britain is your chance to say no to racism and all forms of discrimination. It is your chance to tell the BNP they are not welcome in our communities, and to say loud and clear that Islamophobia has no place in our society.

Join the demonstration on 6 November.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Shoya Tomizawa ...

Just to remind everyone how dangerous bikes are, even when you're really good on two wheels...

Moto2 rider Shoya Tomizawa died today from multiple injuries after a crash at the San Marino Grand Prix. The 19-year-old, from Japan, came off his Technomag-CIP bike when under pressure from Italy's Alex de Angelis. Neither De Angelis nor British rider Scott Redding were able to avoid hitting Tomizawa, who was propelled off the track into the gravel.

Full story is here.