What the hell are they teaching kids in school?

Three weeks ago United Utilities (those nice people who supply our water and charge us extortionately for the privilege of doing so) announced there was a water shortage and that there would be a hosepipe ban, Guess what? Yes it has rained every day since the ban was imposed. Flash floods have taken place and one or two areas have had a month’s rainfall in a single day. The company’s response? It has not rained in the right areas. You could not make this shit up.

Due to all of the rain the grass and the weeds in particular have acted as though they are on steroids and as you can’t cut grass when it is wet, (particularly with an electric mower) the gardens are starting to look like jungles again. Work on the outside of the house has ground to a halt. This is the most important work as it needs to be done during the hours of daylight and in dry weather. Fresh paint tends to be washed away during a downpour and it won’t stick to damp timber in any case. As summer rolls by in an endless torrent of rain and grey skies that shorten the daylight hours, my dream of having the house finished by September has all but gone up in smoke.

The cuts announced by the government have not yet taken place and the stock markets and money lending banks are on a knife edge watching to see what will happen. Of course all of this is affecting the housing market with few people buying in case they lose their jobs. I did start to wonder if I will ever get away. There is an age factor to be taken into consideration. If the financial gurus are to be believed then by the time the housing market recovers I will be over 60. Naturally I got rather depressed by all this and my SAD kicked in 5 months early. Not since Elsie passed away have I felt so demoralised and unable to plot or plan my own destiny. It is no exaggeration to say that on more than one occasion I have gone to bed not caring if I wake up or not.

But enough of this sadness and despondency some of my friends have been great. The Driver turned up to see me last week and stayed for a couple of nights. Much merriment was had by all. The Traveller is away in Gibraltar looking at yachts and Bean Counter has been there to cheer me up and remind me that things could be so much worse. She is right of course but that is the thing with depression, you don’t see things the way other people see them.  But yet again I digress.

Some of the things that have made me chuckle over the past few weeks is the state of our education system. One of my colleagues, a young rising star, and myself were in a discussion about tyranny and after the usual conversations about Hitler, Chairmen Mao and Stalin, I mentioned Pol Pot. He looked at me quizzically and said isn’t he the guy who won Britain’s got talent? I then put him straight and mentioned the Khmer Rouge, he thought it was eye shadow but had heard of Cambodia although had no idea where it was.

It does make you wonder, what the hell are they teaching kids in school?


Dukes pass revisited

As regular readers will know, I and Bean Counter rode to the Dukes pass in Scotland last year. As I enjoyed the scenery so much I was determined to go back and take some one along that would appreciate not only the scenery but the ride up there and the Achray forest trail. With this in mind Ted magnum and me decided we would ride up to Scotland along with BC and leave her there in the company of my brother and his wife while we played on our motorbikes.

A few days before we set off I noticed several cracks in my rear disk. They were not there when I went to Cropton and no one could tell me what caused them. The general consensus was that my brakes were over heating and the heat had caused the disk to crack. Other suggestions were that the huge chain I lock Rhonda up with and normally passes through the rear wheel had damaged the disk and others said that the amount of times I dropped my bike on Hamburger hill at Cropton as I now call it would have had some effect. Either way it would have to be replaced which this meant not only money for a new disk but some new tools to get the damn thing off. Several days later and one before my MOT expired it was replaced and I was set to go.

The ride up to Edinburgh was nothing to write home about, miles of scene less motorway and stiff backside when we landed. In truth we had a schedule that would have been impossible but we decided to try it anyway. We knew of some people leaving Edinburgh on the Friday morning to go camping some four hours north of the capital. We had figured if we got there early enough we could leave Edinburgh early on the Saturday morning catch up with them and then after a few hours set off for the Dukes Pass. This was a lot easier said than done and so we decided that a four ride north coupled with a four hour ride west to the Pass and then another 2 hour ride east back to Edinburgh was more of an endurance test than a pleasurable ride out.

So on the Saturday morning after an amazing evening meal prepared by big brother TM and I mounted up rode off west to the Brig of Turk. When we got there the famous Tea Shoppe was closed. I had always wanted a photo of that place with a cuppa in one hand and my keys in the other. It was not to be. With a rapidly descending mist we roared off around the pass stopping to take photos of the scenery and then hit the trail. This was just how I expected it to be and the pair of us were on our pegs for most of the way round. Again it was not the Patagonian highway or the road of bones but to me it was as enjoyable. I think TM appreciated it; he certainly admired the many views.

From the pass we decided to go and see the Falkirk wheel as neither of us had seen it before and we had no idea when we would be in that area again. I had heard of the wheel but never seen it. It is absolutely huge and carries barges from the lower loch gates some 80 foot into the air onto another waterway. After an hour or so admiring this feat of engineering we headed back to Edinburgh and as TM had never been across the Forth road bridge we rode over that and back again. Then it was time to ride back to Edinburgh. Not once did my new satnav let me down. I have even got used to the various bings, bongs and other warning sounds that it emits as we near speed cameras and enter speed limits. I even like the soothing voice of the little lady who lives in the satnav and tells me which lane to get into.

After another superb evening of being looked after and entertained by my brother and his wife it was time to go home. The good times always seem to come to an end too soon but we loaded up and headed off back southwest and to Liverpool. The weather was not as kind to us as it was on our way up and so we took the scenic route to Carlisle to join the soulless M6. With the weather being bad me and BC donned out matching wet weather gear and with the pair of us looking like Howard and Hilda from ever decreasing circles we certainly drew some strange glances from passing motorists and even other motorcyclists.

The enjoyable weekend had been and gone and with TM going to South Africa in September it may be some time before the pair of us get to ride out together again. The cost of the weekend was 4 tanks of fuel and approximately 30 pounds on entertainment. Great value for the memories it has left me with.


Nothing changes does it?

Finally my computer is now back up and running. I have in the last few years gone through more hard drives than any one I know. It would appear they fall to bits just days after Microsoft updates and have to be either re-formatted or binned. Either way it stops me from compiling my blog and adding photos of events that have taken place. The fact that my old faithful machine is back up and running is in no small part due to Roger Moor. Armed with only a bagful of second hand spare bits and a bottle of Buffalo Trace we set to work rebuilding the mighty Green Meanie and only managed to finish when the bottle was empty!

So what has been happening over the last few weeks and months? I along with Bean Counter and Ted Magnum stayed at my brothers one weekend in May and I took Ted along to the Dukes pass. Photos and a detailed description of the event should appear in the travel section in a few days. I also went camping to a HUBB meeting at Ripley and again another write up will appear in the travel section as soon as I can upload the photos.

Rhonda has been given a service with some replacement parts and photos and details to appear in travel. I finally believe she is ready equipped and with all the modifications I require for long distance unlimited travel. Indeed it has been some time since I last saw anything and thought I need one of those.

More work has been completed on the house and Animal has replaced some of the plaster on the hall stairs and landing that had come away from the brickwork. The rear windows are in the process of being stripped back to the wood and stained and should be finished in around another four days weather pending. The garden is looking great after much sweat and toil and the greenhouse is positively blooming.

All of this sounds so positive what could go wrong? Well I keep finding things that require either work or money spending on them. Last week I decided that the bathroom needed tidying up and came up with a cost of a couple of hundred pounds and within the last two hours the garden shed has become damp again despite the new roof and guttering. The cause has been tracked down to a leaking ball cock valve in the toilet cistern. As it is a non serviceable item it will have to be replaced and usually this is not a big job. The cistern though is not in a usual place it is so high up the wall access to the inside of it requires a feat of contortionism.

I still have hopes of having the house completed by the end of September this year and ready to go on the market for Easter of 2011. This will in large depend upon financial events around the world as the UK has set a large austerity budget with massive cut backs. The cut backs may not affect my own job but if the jobless total rises then people will not be in a position to buy houses and those who are employed may be put off by the fact they might lose their own jobs at some point soon.

I am not alone in this position; a few people that I met at the HUBB meeting in Ripley are in the same boat. They have had houses on the market for a few months with little sign of them shifting at all. I fail to see why the bankers who caused most of this doom and gloom are not the ones picking up the tab for this mess. Instead the governments of the world have bailed them out, they are still awarding themselves massive bonuses and it is the little man on the street that is paying the price for it all with job losses and loss of spending power.

We may have a new government but as far as I can see nothing has changed at the top despite the assurances of transparency. What is absolutely transparent is that as usual the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Nothing changes does it?