Archive for April, 2009

Suicidal sheep and thrombosis

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

A set of tank panniers arrived the other day. Well not exactly, they are gas mask bags. SR10’s to be exact but they fit over the tank like a dream and should be capable of distributing the weight of my luggage more evenly. I have now spent as much as I am going to on the machine and the equipment that will accompany me to any part of the globe I should desire to travel to. With this in mind me and BC decided to head off to the Lake District. There were two reasons for wanting to go there. Firstly the scenery and the roads and secondly the fact there is a Rohan outlet there. I wanted to check out some of the ultra lightweight clothing they stock and decide if it really was worth spending so much on travel clothes.

BC has never travelled so far on a motorbike before and It is a long time since I have travelled that distance on such a heavy bike two up. I decided it would be a good test for the pair of us before we set off to Devon in a few weeks. BC loaded up the satnav, (I have long since give up trying to make head or tail of the infernal thing), and we set off. Halfway down the M6 we stopped for a quick cuppa and a rest break and after resuming we arrived in Ambleside some 2 hours later. The petrol consumption seems to have vastly improved since the service. After a quick look in the Rohan store we set off to find some of the roads that make this part of the world so scenic.

We managed to find the Kirkstone Pass and rode up and over it stopping at Patterdale for another rest stop. The pass is an amazing road only marred by suicidal sheep, manic goats and jaywalking ramblers. I almost filled my trousers on more than one occasion. On another, the satnav directed me down a very steep unfinished road into a farmyard. Turning around and trying to get back onto the main road saw the bike sliding backwards as I tried to hold the machine on a 3 in 1 incline to safely rejoin the main road. As the bike started to topple sideways I managed to find the strength to hold it upright and popped it into first gear and revved like a boy racer in attempt to get the tyres to grip the surface. BC later told me the only thing that stopped her from screaming was the fact she did not want to panic me any more than I already was!

I tried to find two other roads but the satnav refused to accept the fact that they existed when I knew they did. BC stopped me from throwing the satnav into a lake and we headed home. At this point one thing was becoming painfully obvious. The seat is crap. There are two ridges that run down the sides of the seat and they cut off the circulation to my legs. A new seat is financially out of the question and although a sheepskin will cure this problem it is only a short term cure as any rain will leave me sitting in a sodden mess and probably not of my making.

We are going back to the lakes in a few weeks on a camping expedition and I hope to be able to purchase a sheepskin as short term fix to the problem. I hope to be able to find the Hardknot pass and Wrystone pass providing I am not stopped by suicidal sheep and thrombosis.

 

There is trouble in the forest

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Bean Counter was unfortunate enough to inherent nine Leylandi trees from the previous owner of her house and they have grown and grown. It is no wonder that they have been called the Rottweiler of the botanical world. For some time many well meaning people have promised to come and take a look at them and maybe fell them for her as the height reached over 40 foot and blocked out most of the light into her garden. However over the years no one has actually come along and done the job, so after a few beers one night Ted Magnum and me thought, well how hard can it be?

I picked Ted up from his house one morning over the Easter weekend and armed with a bow saw, an axe, a couple of machetes and a raging hangover we set to. After an hour it was obvious that an axe and a bow saw with all the best will in the world was going to be no match for these monsters. There was only one thing to do and that was head out to B+Q for a chainsaw.

Some time later we returned to BC’s house with a shiny new McCulloch chain saw and let rip. Three hours later, several heart stopping moments and much humming and ha-ing we had daylight in the garden. Of the 9 trees only 4 were left standing. I was persuaded by Ted not to juggle the chain saw as it was going and in the cold light of day it was probably a good thing. It was probably a good idea that the axe was taken away from me and I was handed the prestigious job of supervising and chief morale booster. After handing out the beers and starting rousing choruses of “I’m a lumberjack and I’m ok”, I feel pretty sure that I carried out my duties rather well.

I am sure we could have finished the job completely but trying to get the damn things to fall exactly where we wanted them to is a science we have not yet mastered and after a few close shaves and many nervous neighbours peering behind twitching curtains we called it a day. There are far too many logs in BC’s garden and these have to be taken away before we can continue.

Sterling work was performed by BC’s two sons who formed the Cutting Crew and delimbed the trees as fast as Ted cut them down and I could drag them into a clear patch. At the end of the day the beers came out and the Barbie was sparked up. The wood was too green and wet to be turned into a bonfire but they will almost all end up at Tedstock for this year’s bonfire. BC’s garden resembles a napalm strike and it will be some time before we can restore it to its former glory but the deforestation will continue.

No date has yet been set for part two but I am certain that we will all be in fine form and raring to go. As Rush once sang “There is trouble in the forest

 

The first of the season

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

The clocks had only just gone back and Ted Magnum and I were called upon to cook a baby pig over open coals at a 50th birthday.  Naturally neither of us was going to pass up on such an offer especially as the wages were as much beer as we could drink and we duly arrived clutching implements of destruction and an assortment of sharp knives. The weather was glorious and we sparked up and set about preparing the pig or piglet as it turned out to be. The animal such as it was, was only small and I felt pangs of guilt when I noticed the trotters were still pink. This one had never seen green fields or mud.

We had set up the spit prior to preparation and the skin was scored and rubbed with salt while the coals were ignited. Within an hour the pig was trussed and impaled and hoisted above the coals and Ted and me got down to the serious business of the day, turning the spit keeping the fire going and drinking beer. By 8pm the meat was cooked and we basted the crackling with honey and lowered the spit to the flames to give an intense heat and make the crackling crackle.  So far so good and as the crackling was peeled off and dished out it was all going well. By 8-30pm the light had gone and Ted and me had to make a decision to take the meat off the spit and cut it up. This presented the first problem of the evening, actually trying to see what was going on. The dainty slices Ted and me had imagined turned out to be great big slabs and as it was a small pig it was not long before we had a skeleton.

In hindsight we would have been better off taking the pig into the main gazebo and letting everyone hack pieces off as they saw fit but it was not to be. I will never forget the look of horror as one small lad turned up with a plate and bun and was handed a lump of pork with a trotter attached to it! I think most people expected to be given a few slices of hot pork thinly sliced as if by a mechanical slicer. Clearly this crowd had no concept of roast pig cooked barbecue style upon hot coals.

In retrospect we have learned never to attempt to cook anything less than 70 pounds in weight as by the time you have taken the bones out there is not really a lot of meat left. Secondly when slicing meat, make sure you have enough light to see what you are doing and do not hand young boys cooked trotters.

Still it was the first of the season.