Friday, July 29, 2005

A sign of things to come?

The Guardian reported on Saturday how 36 people had died in riots due to fuel price hikes in Yemen.

"Looting broke out in the Yemeni city of Aden last night after two days of rioting over fuel price rises that left 36 people dead....Several police officers were among the dead. Locals are angry at a decision to remove subsidies on fuel, a move that has roughly doubled the price of diesel, petrol and kerosene and caused knock-on rises in fares for public transport."

Picture from Newswire

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Are SUVs a crime against civilisation

I know we've all heard the arguments before, but there is no harm in hearing them again.
From the ecologist

What does ‘choice’ actually mean? Could I nip down the shops in a tank?
What if I drove a Harley without a silencer up and down your road all night?

Or do you actually believe, as most of us do, that sensible limits should be placed on the freedom of drivers? If so, then it comes down to where we draw the line:
and I draw it at SUVs.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Useless with tools

I'm nearly at the end of my week off looking after the kids, and as usual didnt do half the things i'd intended. I've nearly finished stripping the bannisters - on and off its taken me nearly 2 years, but it should look nice when they are waxed.
I bought a tool kit for the bike aswell, hoping to finally able to service the bearings in my rear wheel myself, but when it arrived it didnt have the right lock ring tool so I had to go out and buy one. With much enthsiasm about my new tools I had a go but just couldnt shift the lock ring, maybe i'd left it too long. So I ended up getting the bike shop to do it again, I asked them if they thought it had been stiff and they said not particularly but you really need to have it in a vice. So it looks like thats another thing i'll have to buy. I dont want to be crap at servicing the bike but for some reason I just am. I'm good at keeping the tyres pumped up and clean the chain regularly, but I just dont seem to have a good eye for the intricate tweeks a bike needs.
My mum and dad went home last weekend after looking after the kids for a week. We had great fun with the Geocaching while they were here. We found a good one on the sustrans cycle route between Lisburn and Belfast which contained a travel bug - which is a small tag or token which you move from site to site, the goal for this bug was to visit as many sites in Ireland as possible so we helped it on its way. The bug was called my dads ankh, it was a cross symbol that used to be worn by this blokes dad who died before he ever got to see Ireland, so he's doing it posthumously.
I like the cycle route between Lisburn and Belfast but its not ideal for road bikes. I'd love to get one of these for the route though, it would be a real buzz arriving at work on one of these every day. I wouldnt feel particularly safe using it on the main road but I can get virtually all the way to work by the sustrans route. But I cant decide whether I should get one of these for £600 or save up and buy a good road bike. Anyway, these are just pipe dreams at the minute because i'm skint. Oh well, maybe next year. Check them out at KMX karts.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Treasure Hunt

While I’m stuck in the office on one of the hottest days so far this year my mum and dad have taken the kids to Hillsborough Park to do a GPS treasure hunt. They told me about this the last time I saw them. Basically you register on this web-site which allows you to get details of treasure hunts that people have set up all over the world and then you follow the route with your GPS and find the hidden treasure at the end of the route (usually a rubber or something small for the kids). You then leave something in its place for the next person to find. I’m not sure whether they do one for cyclists – but it would be pretty cool to do some longer routes, you could have a puncture repair kit as the prize (always comes in handy – especially with the amount of punctures I’ve been getting)
It was lovely cycling in this morning, I came in about 7.00 so the temperature wasn’t too hot and there were hardly any cars on the road. It’s the 12th July fortnight here at the moment (when a large section of the community either parades around in orange sashes and bowler hats, or watches people parading around in orange sashes and bowler hats) Its also a time when most people go on holiday so the roads are fairly quiet. I might do a detour on the way home and see a couple of friends who have just bought a big top style tent and are experimenting putting it up in a field for the first time, sounds like hard work on a day like today.

Saturday, July 02, 2005


I had a juggling job in Larne last Saturday . I always make a habit of asking any photographers taking pictures to send us a copy, they never did until today. Its not a particularly good shot (I think you need to be a juggler as well as a photographer to get good juggling shots) but it was nice to receive it anyway.
Larne is a funny place for a festival. For those of you not familiar with Northern Ireland, Larne is where most of the boats from Scotland sail to. But Larne doesn’t feel like a coastal town. The port is a big ugly blot on the landscape that just spews out all the freight traffic on to the dual carriage way to Belfast about 20 miles down the road. So you can’t blame them for trying to breathe a bit of life in to the town with a festival, but for some reason it just doesn’t feel right. The people just don’t seem to get it. The parade went well enough but the street we’d been given for our show was so depressing, it was at the back of the town and was populated by 2 charity shops, a butchers and a shoe shop.
The shoe shop was a story in itself; we didn’t pay much attention to it at first but then noticed an old man coming out of it. He tottered about like he was drunk, but I think it was more the effects of age than drink.
His shop had closing down notices in the front window, which, like the deck shoes and espadrilles, were bleached by the sun. A local told us that the notices had been in the window for about 20 years, and that the owner was 95. Later he came out with an old shoebox full of sweets for us and started telling us about his shop – how he was retiring soon and how some bloke had said he would buy his old stock. Its enough to bring a tear to your eye isn’t it .

Yet another victim of car culture - with the pile em high sell em cheap superstores offering free parking, and everything under one roof he could never compete. What was once probably a thriving street was now full of boarded up shops with just a couple left fighting to survive.
So as Larne strives for an identity by throwing a carnival once a year, they destroy any sense of community by allowing the big boys to move in and put the small shop owners out of business. A story being repeated all over the country, if not the world.