Wednesday February 17th 2021 – On the canal at Walsall Wood, a familiar pair of beaky chancers come towards me hoping for food.
They make out they haven’t eaten for weeks, that they’re starving to death, and also they’ll feed my body to the pike if I don’t cough up a treat.
But unluckily for them, I’m empty handed, my usual small bag of corn left in the garage after filling; fortunately they seem in a rudeness of health that matches their people skills, and despite their menace, only hiss at me and scud off, to browse the canal bottom for tasty green goo.
Saturday February 13th 2021 – It’s a fact that in the Brownhills and the wider South Staffordshire area, on the fringes where urbanisation becomes rural, red deer are now present in large numbers, and often become victims of traffic collisions.
This is particularly true around Chasewater, which has several large, itinerant hears of these human-tolerant beasts, so it’s been necessary to put up warning signs for road users.
I do wonder if, in a cruel twist of fate, this one on Pool Lane was knocked sideways by a leaping stag…
Friday November 21st 2020 – One here for Bob’s big book of bizarre mechanical failures – specifically the ‘This is not my circus, and those are most definitely not my monkeys’ chapter.
This is not my bike. I was asked by an old family friend to change their tyres, as they didn’t feel comfortable to do so themselves. ‘No problem!’ I assured them as they wheeled the bike into the garage.
First step, remove rear wheel and let air out of the old tyre. Simple enough. Since the tubes would be too big for the new tyres, I removed the valve for a full deflation – and the telltale green ooze of tyre sealant – slime brand – bubbled out.
This would be no problem, usually, except the local bike shop who originally fitted these tyres made a mistake.
What I found was only half of the tyre went down – the other half opposite the valve state inflated. That I was astounded and somewhat bemused is an understatement.
Never, ever had seen that before, and it took me a few minutes to work out – with the help of a mate by text – to diagnose that the tube had been twisted when fitted, under inflation the pressure had compressed the two twists, and the sealant blocked them creating an effective seal.
Great. But how do you release the trapped air?
I didn’t want to try puncturing it. Friend suggested a sharp tap with a blunt, soft object on the inflated section, or bouncing it off the floor. I grabbed an offcut of 2×2 and rapped the tire sharply.
There was a loud bang, and a volcanic ejaculation of green sealant.
Everywhere.It went everywhere. It’s just possible there’s an object in the workshop that doesn’t have green slime on it somewhere, but as yet I’ve not found one. A total mess. I was dripping.
The areas where the tube had twisted had clearly worn tissue-thin against the tyre, and the tap with the wood was the straw that broke it’s back.There was no patching THAT tube.
I have never seen this before, and probably never will do again, but it was a messy, if perplexing adventure.
That was a blowout on the road waiting to happen, and the bike shop deserve a slap.
Fixing other people’s bikes is never as simple as you think…
Thursday, October 1st 2020 – I had business to do in Bolton so took the bike up on the train. In these bizarre, pandemic days trains are strange: Even early on a weekday morning the inter-city services and suburban commuter trains are next to empty, populated by wary, slightly suspicious, bemasked travellers. Rail ravel is really not a pleasant experience right now.
Bolton is one of the areas apparently in greater lockdown, but it seemed as relaxed and unperturbed by the outside world as usual.
I was amused and puzzled by this restaurant on the Wigan Road: How on earth did that come to happen? Top marks for the name ‘Steaks on a plane’ though.
Coming home, I got off at Stafford and rode home for the exercise, chance to enjoy the sun before oncoming rains next day and maybe a treat at Milford’s Wimpy. On the side of a boarded up pub in Stafford, the intellectual giants of the local conspiracy theory scene say more about their capacity for reason and mental acuity than any outsider ever could. Meanwhile, over at the frankly insane website mentioned, you can buy a promotional mask bearing the website URL…
May 12th – While visiting the shops in Stonnall, I spotted this smilestone in one of the planters outside.
Smilestones are a real phenomena – like the previously mentioned chalked games on local paths, they provide a safe, fun activity for kids and families, who decorate randomly selected stones and leave them for others to find.
This brightly coloured one made me smile, and did it’s job. They’re wonderful to find as one wanders about daily life.