Monday 26 March 2012

Is It Time For The Weather Proof Bike?

Greetings.  I came up with this blog in the middle of the night.  Don't worry my other allotment characters (Shed Man)will be along in the next few days for your enjoyment!.

"Roll on the day when we can have family-sized, weatherproof, bikecars powered by pedal power so we do not need to visit the gym.  Quite why no one has produced such a vehicle is one of the great mysteries of the modern age.  Just imagine, downhill performance, would of course, be exceptional with aerodynamic shaping of the bodywork, lightweight disk brakes, on board CD, and rechargeable lightweight batteries taking charge from downhill braking and helping with the uphill sections.  It doesn't hurt to dream!"

JOHN SEYMOUR.  The New complete book of Self Sufficiency.

I bet that's made a few people snigger and spit their coffee over the dining table?  Is it really stupid though?  I have started watching the News again (sadly) and there is the threat of Iran closing the Strait of Hormuz and the Army driving the road tankers and the ever increasing price of road fuel.  It makes me wonder is there any alternative?  Did you know there are 33 million cars on the UK's roads?  Is there a link to the fifty percent rise in cancers?

What are the alternatives?

Electric cars - powered by electricity made in nuclear or coal fired power stations?  There is said to be over 200 years of coal left in the UK.  Scientists even claim they can make a synthetic petrol fuel from coal.

Horse and Cart?  Wouldn't it be wonderful?

Bicycle Power.  Everybody gets fit and saves the Ozone Layer.

Car Sharing?  "I'm not having them in my car.  I'd have to speak to them."

Fuel Rationing?

Public Transport?   That's a good one.  Especially if you live in the countryside.

Shanks Pony?  The price of shoe leather?

In the words of Mrs Merton.

"Let's have an heated debate".

Normal service will be resumed on Wednesday.

PS.  We've got a cat Cumbrian.  He's very happy and official: "Farm Mouser."


  1. Started watching the news again? Why?

    Thought-provoking post on "alternative" transport.

    Electric - I think this has been tried, milk floats and industrial fork trucks run on huge batteries powered by electric. I'm not 100% sure, but I beleive the Japanese (or somebody) produced a car that could be chrged up.
    Making synthetic petrol from coal seems a bit puerile, sort of defeats the object.
    Might work in warm sunny climates using sun power, the Aussies made one (experimental) that was covered in solar power collecting cells and made the thing work. But it didn't work without sun.

    Horse & cart - Yes, green, quiet, sedate transport, some would say slow. Wonderful. But needing an acre to keep the horse and enough skill to work with it.

    Bicycle power - Good one, everything same as the horse, little skill and no land needed, but not much good if you're not 100% fit. Not much fun in the rain and the gales either.

    Car sharing - Good principle, like communism, but like communism it doesn't seem to work in practice. Unless everybody has the same car, lives close by (50 yards), start and finish at the same time, never do overtime, take identical days off and holidays and share the same point of view, politics, religion, football club, etc.

    Fuel rationing - Another good idea in principle, but all it would do is lead to yet another black market in fuel.

    Public transport - Great in you live on a well-serviced (profitable) route, but not the complete coverage that would be needed to make this a viable option.

    Shanks pony - The original and some would say still the best. Bit slow but sure. No good for transporting bulk or heavy materials.

    Nice to read you got a cat, the mouse population should now be under control.

  2. Hi Cumbrian. I think most people realise that the car is a neccessary evil. People often have to commute miles to work, especially in rural areas.

    I don't know the answer myself. I just hate when we get politicians telling us what not to drink and what to eat, yet it's OK to build another runway at Heathrow, more motorways and have 33 million cars on the road. The same politicians (parties anyway) said coal fires polluted the environment and closed down the pits and destroyed communities but yet it's OK to have 33 million cars giving us all cancer and destroying the rain-forests...?

    I never used to believe in nuclear but with the instability in the world I am coming round to think we need to protect ourselves. I dunno Cumbrian? You always talk sense and I suppose we are only cogs in a very big wheel. We are so powerless but at least we can talk about it.

    The cat is called Sugar. I call him Alan. He seems very content.

  3. Yes, air pollution.
    Workington had a steelworks, it produced iron (blast furnace), steel (bessemer convertor), rails (rolling mill), and coke (coke ovens).

    All of which (except the mill) produced vast clouds of heavy foul-smelling pollution, God only knows what sort of nasties were blasted into the air. They did this for over 100 years, who got the worst of it depended on which way the wind was blowing.
    Then came Ian McGregor (remember Maggie Thatchers hit-man?) and suddenly we didn't have a steelworks any more.

    The year after the closure (along with the pits), our local Council decided to declare smokeless zones, pointing to the polluting effects of coal fires.

    Beats cock-fighting (a local saying)

    Nuclear, a contorversial subject, especially in West Cumbria where several thousand depend on Sellafield for their income, and countless small businesses whose trade comes from these peoples money.
    A supposedly "clean" scource of power, but they've not yet established how long the pollution it leaves will last, and they're struggling to find a safe way to dispose of it.
    So although I can admire the scientific and technical achievements that enable us to produce such power, I'm not 100% convinced it's such a great thing.
    As trgedies in Russia a few years ago (Chernobyl) and Japan more recently as the result of an earhquake show, we can't control it properly.

    My own favoured option would be water power, not resevoirs (which can burst with horrific consequences) or tidal (which, beleive it or not, can actually slow down the earths rotation), but river water using good old-fashioned water wheels.
    Sounds daft? Think about it, rivers in this part of the world never dry up, a water-wheel is green, non-polluting, use no input of anything, silent, work all the time without attention, and any number of them can be constructed on a river with no ill-effects that I can think of.
    And they were used for centuries to drive all sorts of machinery (saw-mills, flour-mills, there were some in the lake District used to drive bobbin-mills) and no doubt all sorts of other things. they've re-constructed one I visited in Cornwall somewhere I think it was, grinding flour, it works just fine, all timber construction, easy repaired.
    The only down-side I can see is that they would be fairly small, so a lot of people or communities would have their own, which would mean that the likes of E-on, Scottish Power, etc, would not have a strangle-hold on the price of electric, and the government would not take any tax from them or us. Which is only a down-side if you're a director / shareholder of one of the big power companies, or a politician. The heart bleeds for them, bobbing rastards.

    I think another sadly neglected device is clockwork, they made watches 100 years ago to keep time by clockwork, and I bet your first alarm clock was clockwork. I'm not an engineer, but I'm sure clockwork could be scaled up at least to bicycle size, wind it up down hill and flat pedalling, let it help on the up-hills or into the wind?

    Like you say, very small cogs in a very big wheel, I've given up thinking I can do anything about it, I just try to survive the best way I can under the rules of the prevailing government.

    Our cat's called Rags, a godd little hunter, spends most of its time outside.

  4. Rags is a great name for a cat Cumbrian.

    I quite like wind farms both on land and offshore. I know to many they are a blot on the landscape but aren't all pylons and electricity wires and telephone cables and poles? I do like your idea for waterwheels. Canals could be used with horsedrawn narrowboats and barges.

    In Mexico they extract ethanol from landfill sites to run their cars. In Sweden they make electricity with cow slurry and offal from the abbatoirs. Miscanthus and willow is becoming very popular in Ireland - woodburning stoves. The willow is sustainable and regenerates within five years.

    I can imagine nuclear being controversial in Cumbria, because like you say it creates much needed jobs. So do oil refineries and quarries. But nobody really wants them do they?

    A lot of environmemtalists in Ireland are coming round to the idea of a nuclear future. In fact she buys nuclear made electricity from France and Britain. My worry is thit only needs a terrorist to get in one of these places and they can hold the world to randsom.

    I do remember Ian McGregor. They destroyed mining communities and left England with 200 years of coals still in the ground.

    I agree with you that you have just got to try to survive the best way you can. Nothings perfect and we can only do I our little bit to leave the world like we would like to find it.

    Thanks for your thoughts Cumbrian.

  5. There's a couple of typo's in that Sorry.

  6. I omitted wind farms, they're another controversial subject here, we seem to have an abundance of them, right along the coast and quite a few in fields a bit inland, they even put some on top of the fells, then a huge one in the Solway Firth, about 100-120 I guess, built a couple of years ago.
    And one of the factories has the 2 biggest ones in somewhere, not sure if it's GB, they're huge, dwarf the standatd ones just opposite on the fields next to the shore. They make filter tips for cigarettes out of chemicals, not sure what the factory's called, it changes every so often.

    My experience of them (if you can call it that) is that there's always at least 1 in 10 not working, a huge crane lorry comes and attends, or a tranny for presubably minor repair & maintenance.
    Somebody told me it takes more energy to build, transport, erect and maintain these monsters than they'll ever produce, so they're not as "clean" as you think.

    I agree that the wind could be harnessed and used, but it's not all that reliable, and very un-predictable, I think it would be more suited to small-scale type wind-mills such as you see in some Med countries driving pumps fetching water up from under the ground. I don't know what the economics of this small-scale type would be, and storeage batteries would probably be needed, but it would free us from the grid (tax)
    That and a few roof solar panels should do. Most days we get either sun or wind.

    Like the idea of wood-burning stoves, sustainable energy for ever if properly managed. Big factory makes paper-board (cigatette packet type, next door to the one making filter-tips) is currently building a bio-mass power generating plant, £9 billion's worth I was told, to provide for their own use and supply quite a bit to the grid. Sustainable forest products, they use 100 tons per hour of fir tree trunks now, I shudder to think how many 30-tonners a day it's gonna need, maybe not as green as thought at first?

    Yeah, we called it Rags because it looks a bit scruffy, black with small white feet and blaze under chin (do cats have a chin?), been wandering around the garden all day in the sun.

  7. Thanks for that Cumbrian. Everything seems one step forward, one step back. Perhaps that's always been the story? I have heard that North America doesn't even recycle and I wouldn't like to guess how many coal fired power stations China builds every week?

    Your Med countries driving pumps and the solar panel sound a good idea.

    They have even stopped people from digging peat ('Turf') from their own bogs here in Ireland. River powered water wheels would be great. A town near here used to run it's street lights from the woollen mill water wheel.

    I suppose they could incinerate all the rubbish and generate power from it if they could somehow filter the emissions. Other than it's the gas supply in the sky. There's nothing new under the sun is there?

    Going to watch United play Fulham tonight on the telly. I wonder how much it costs to run those floodlights?

    Thanks Cumbrian.

  8. Another 'alternative' could be 'people power'. Why are there no rickshaw taxi cyclist-drivers? Or we could all climb on the train roofs like they do in India? I am joking readers. This post can be serious but it's also supposed to be amusing.

  9. Yes, on the roof.

    Got on a bus in Bulgaria, it said "For 50 people". the 50 had been crossed out, 120 written on, and all the seats removed, a lot of leather straps hanging from the roof to grab.

    No smoking, not for health or legal reasons, but if you have a fag on, and the bus stops suddenly (a common occourence in Bulgaria) you'll probably burn the person in front.

    Next time I go I'll suggest they put ladders on the bus and grab bars on the roof.

  10. That's brilliant Cumbrian. Could you imagine if everybody in Britain decided we are no longer waiting we are boarding?

    "If you want me to pay the fare. Climb on top of the roof conductor and I'll pay you."

    I have a friend in Poland (he's English) and he's invited me over some time. Says you can get a can of strong and very drinkable beer for ten bob. I once went in a hotel bar in Limerick and spent sixty five Euro's in an hour and I only had four drinks! Well there was four of us!

    Back to the queues. I was once in Southport by the sea (well every year when it comes in!) waiting my place for an ice-cream and these two (think they were German) pushed passed everybody and started to pretend to lick an ice-cream cornet and shouted to the vendor:

    "Creamer creamer."

    Can't just call the Germans though. I once let everybody get on the London Underground before me (the world and his wife) and got a rollicking off the driver for getting trapped in the doors.

    Any more of your very funny holiday tales Mr Cumbrian?

  11. In Cyprus, lovely 4 star hotel, lots of nationalities.

    Came down one morning and there's a huge pile of towels piled around one of the marble pillars in the reception zone (it's that sort of hotel) and a hand-written notice in German.
    When I saw the other side of the pillar, the notice is in English.

    "This is the hotel manager - I have sent a member of staff to collect all the towels from the sun-beds if there is not a person on the sun bed.
    The next time you leave your towel to try and reserve a sun bed, I have instructed the staff to throw them in the pool."

    Nice one I thought.

    Or the mate I spent a gentlemans weekend with in Amsterdam, decided he had seen a very attractive lady in one of the windows and would make a visit to her.
    About 20 minutes later, I'm standing in the Red Light bar with a glass of Amstel when he returned, looking a bit pale and shaken, so I asked if he was OK, was she that good?
    He said "No- it's a man, and I didn't find out until I'd had a bxxw job"
    I'm under threat of a slow and painful death if I mention his name.

    Then the young guys on the bacholer piss-up, same place, I'm watching about 6 of them trying to get Mr just gonna be married (I guess) into a window, very attractive girl.
    Eventually he succumbs and she opens the door, takes him in and draws the curtain.
    The rest of them stand round, lookng at their watches - timing him.
    7 minutes I was told, if you say 2 minutes to them off and 4 minutes to put them back on, doesn't leave much in the middle?

    Or the friend who went missing, same place, not in his bed in the morning, we couldn't find him, so went to the helpful reception and she phoned round for us.
    No record in any hospitals, try police.
    "Yeah, we've got him, fished him out of a canal last night"
    "But he can't swim"
    "We know that, but he's sobered up now and on his way back"
    He arrived about 15 minutes later, dressed in a paper boiler suit and carrying a dripping black plastic rubish bag.
    His clothes were in the bag, the canals in the Dam are 4 metres deep, 2 metres water, 1 metre bikes (people throw then in) and 1 metre shit, so his clothes were a bit un-wearable to say the least, hence the paper boiler suit.
    And he said, walking along a very busy main street, nobody even gave him a second glance, can you imagine walking through a UK city dressed like that?

    Then there was another mate wanted to visit the Dam, he likes the weed, and it's good stuff there, legal as well.
    On the way over, un packing his black overnight bag, he finds a pair of knickers, very femenine, black silky lacy things. Oh, that's where they are, dearly beloved was last to use this bag and thought she'd left them somewhere.
    Had a great day, took him to the Bulldog, and a few other places.
    On the way back, he wakes up and decides he needs to take a mollifying present for his dearly beloved, so disappears to the duty-free, returning soon with a bottle of expensive perfume and smelling like a Cairo brothel, he's been sampling a few very exotic perfumes.
    Disembarking, even the sniffer dogs were turning their noses up when he came near, he was just a walking cloud of femenine scents.
    When he got stopped, the customs man emptied his bag, found the knickers (all the while trying not to breath in too heavily, the scent's overpowering) and held them up to view.
    "And what have you been doing in Amsterdam sir?"
    I was doubled up laughing, his face was letter-box red.

    I can probably think of a few more if I try.
    What about yourself?

  12. How can I follow that. I'll try.

    Four of us went in an English East Coast (wasn't it Scarborough?) cafeteria and my dad went to the counter to order some drinks and a mad old lady walked up to him and said:

    "What you looking at my shoes for? Stop looking at my shoes".

    I once went to Glastonbury Festival in 1989 and a crusty new age traveller says to me:

    "Give us a drink out of yer beer can mate."

    So I hand over the can and he takes a swig and says.

    "Effin hell man it's hot."

    And walks off into the crowd most annoyed.

    You had to be there. Got millions of anecdotes. Sounds like you have Cumbrian.

  13. Yes, you really have to be there to get the full enjoyment.

    A rather nice female lecturer was telling her class about the final exam next day and the importance of not missing it.

    No excuse will be accepted, except perhaps nuclear war, death, or sudden serious illness.

    Up went a hand, the boy asked "What about complete sexual exhaustion?"

    After the laughs and sniggering died down the teacher looked straight at him, smiled sweetly, and replied

    "You'll just have to write with your other hand"

  14. Don't start me with jokes Cumbrian.

    Shouldn't blogs be serious and about what you had for your tea and the price of fish and lets talk about the weather? Not this blog though.

    My favourite joke is a Monty Python one:

    A man walks in to a pet-shop and says:

    "I'd like to buy a Wasp please."


    "Sorry sir we don't sell Wasps!"


    "Yes you do. You've go one in the WINDOW!"

    Don't worry they get worse. It's Shed Man blog tomorrow folks. An Englishman's castle is his - SHED!


  15. Tea was chiken pieces done in oven with smokey bbq sauce, served with home-made chips.

    The price of fish is scandalous, cod was £12 per kg, God only knows when it was caught or where. I used to struggle to get £2 a stone for it fresh that day.

    Weather's been un-seasonally warm this week, which has led to and outbreak of lawn-mowers.


    Fresh from my shower, I stand in front of
    the mirror complaining to my Husband that
    my breasts are too small.

    Instead of characteristically telling me it's
    not so, he uncharacteristically comes up with
    a suggestion.

    "If you want your breasts to grow, then
    every day take a piece of Toilet paper and
    rub it between them for a few seconds".

    Willing to try anything, I fetch a piece of toilet
    paper and stand in Front of the mirror,
    rubbing it between my breasts.
    "How long will This take?" I asked.

    "They will grow larger over a period of years,
    " my husband replies.

    I stopped.
    "Do you really think rubbing a piece of toilet
    paper between my breasts every day will
    make my breasts larger over the years?"

    Without missing a beat he says, "Well it worked for
    your arse, didn't it?"

    He's still alive, and with a great deal of
    therapy, he may even walk again, although
    he will probably continue to take his meals
    through a Straw.

  16. We forgot about all the hot air coming from Parliament. If you could harness that you would solve the energy crisis.

    Thanks for making me laugh Cumbrian.

    Why did the silly groundsman pour whisky over his grass?

    So it came up half cut!

  17. Actual dialogue of a former WordPerfect Customer Support employee. (Now I know why they record these conversations!):

    Operator: 'Ridge Hall, computer assistance; may I help you?'
    Caller: 'Yes, well, I'm having trouble with WordPerfect.'
    Operator: 'What sort of trouble??'
    Caller: 'Well, I was just typing along, and all of a sudden the words went away.'
    Operator: 'Went away?'
    Caller: 'They disappeared.'
    Operator: 'Hmm So what does your screen look like now?'
    Caller: 'Nothing.'
    Operator: 'Nothing??'
    Caller: 'It's blank; it won't accept anything when I type.'
    Operator: 'Are you still in WordPerfect, or did you get out??'
    Caller: 'How do I tell?'
    Operator: 'Can you see the C: prompt on the screen??'
    Caller: 'What's a sea-prompt?'
    Operator: 'Never mind, can you move your cursor around the screen?'
    Caller: 'There isn't any cursor: I told you, it won't accept anything I type.'
    Operator: 'Does your monitor have a power indicator??'
    Caller: 'What's a monitor?'
    Operator: 'It's the thing with the screen on it that looks like a TV. Does it have a little light that tells you when it's on??'
    Caller: 'I don't know.'
    Operator: 'Well, then look on the back of the monitor and find where the power cord goes into it. Can you see that??'
    Caller: 'Yes, I think so.'
    Operator: 'Great. Follow the cord to the plug, and tell me if it's plugged into the wall.
    Caller: 'Yes, it is.'
    Operator: 'When you were behind the monitor, did you notice that there were two cables plugged into the back of it, not just one??'
    Caller: 'No.'
    Operator: 'Well, there are. I need you to look back there again and find the other cable.'
    Caller: 'Okay, here it is.'
    Operator: 'Follow it for me, and tell me if it's plugged securely into the back of your computer.'
    Caller: 'I can't reach.'
    Operator: 'Uh huh. Well, can you see if it is??'
    Caller: 'No.'
    Operator: 'Even if you maybe put your knee on something and lean way over??'
    Caller: 'Oh, it's not because I don't have the right angle - it's because it's dark.'
    Operator: 'Dark??'
    Caller: 'Yes - the office light is off, and the only light I have is coming in from the window.'

    Operator: 'Well, turn on the office light then.'
    Caller: 'I can't.'
    Operator: 'No? Why not??'
    Caller: 'Because there's a power failure.'
    Operator: 'A power.......... A power failure? Aha, Okay, we've got it licked now.
    Do you still have the boxes and manuals and packing stuff your computer came in??'
    Caller: 'Well, yes, I keep them in the closet.'
    Operator: 'Good. Go get them, and unplug your system and pack it up just like it was when you got it. Then take it back to the store you bought it from.'
    Caller: 'Really? Is it that bad?'
    Operator: 'Yes, I'm afraid it is.'
    Caller: 'Well, all right then, I suppose. What do I tell them??'
    Operator: 'Tell them you're too f --- ing stupid to own

  18. That's brilliant. I think we've all had our rage at the machine moments Cumbrian and realised it's not turned on or the like.


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