Thursday, September 28, 2006

Cycle Powered Washing Machine

Great idea, we're a bit pushed for space in our kitchen though.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Back to Clifden

The weather over here is atrocious at the moment. If any one has tips for getting trainers dry (without putting them over the radiator and stinking the house out) I’d be glad to hear them.
I’m taking the bike in for a pre-winter service in a couple of weeks and whilst its in I think I’ll get them to fit mud guards and a rack. I’m fed up of water spraying up my back and lugging huge weights around my shoulders.
I was in Clifden over the weekend for their annual arts festival, I didn’t bring my bike with me this year and I forgot the camera – so here is a picture from the web.
Last year I rode round the Sky Road which has fantastic views over the Atlantic, but this year I had to console myself with a short walk to the monument that overlooks the town.
It really is my favourite festival in Ireland. Connemara is astoundingly beautiful, and the locals are all ways really welcoming.
We stay in the same B&B every year and Gerry, the fella that owns it, also works for the local fire service and has numerous other jobs connected to the festival.

We usually end up each night in the Alcock and Brown Hotel where there is music and singing in to the wee small hours. If your wondering who Alcock and Brown are – they were the first men to fly across the Atlantic and they crash landed somewhere near Clifden.
The town seems to expand every year, but hopefully they’ll not let the development go on indefinitely as this really is one of Irelands best kept secrets and it would be a shame to spoil it with too many modern apartment blocks.
We are performing at the Enchanted Evenings in Botanic Gardens in Belfast this week, so hopefully the weather will clear up for that. It was a nice wee event last year – lots of pixies and stuff. The kids loved it.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Check this.

I think it’s time that I flagged up a few of the blogs/podcasts that I read/listen to on a regular basis. Just because I’ve heard of these sites, I presume that everyone else has – but I know that’s not always the case. and

Guardian writer George Monbiot has to be one of the most important writers on the issues of green politics and global justice. What I like most about his site is the way he challenges other writers to back up their claims and reveal who their paymasters are. So often we see stories in the press reported as fact, yet we rarely consider whether these stories have received the rigorous analysis that any research should receive from a peer reviewed journal.
His latest book and web site – turn up the heat ( attempts to expose greenwashing and challenges organizations to live up to their green claims.

Here are a couple of quotes from the site, a couple of digs at the type of people that think they are “doing their bit”:

“The middle classes think they have gone green because they buy organic cotton pyjamas and handmade soaps with bits of leaf in them – though they still heat their conservatories and retain their holiday homes in Croatia”

“In promoting biodiesel – as the European Union, the British and US governments and thousands of environmental campaigners do – you might imagine that you are creating a market for old chip fat, or rapeseed oil, or oil from algae grown in desert ponds. In reality you are creating a market for the most destructive crop on earth…I thought that the biggest problem caused by biodiesel was that it set up a competition for land. Arable land that would otherwise have been used to grow food would instead be used to grow fuel. But now I find that something even worse is happening. The biodiesel industry has accidentally invented the world’s most carbon-intensive fuel.”

If you haven’t done so already, you really should check out these sites.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The pressure continues

The pressure continues to build up on the motor industry.
The Guardian reports that the state of California is suing the 6 big motor companies for contributing to global warming.

I think we always look on America as the big bad polluter that couldn’t care less about the planet and wouldn’t sign up to the Kyoto protocol. But we shouldn’t forget that there are some people in America that are taking this issue seriously. California’s actions can only make more people aware of the issues, and face up to the implications of years of apathy that have allowed the big polluters to get away with murder. I wonder if California's governorator still drives a hummer?

Also, this week has seen The Royal Society writing to ExxonMobil to tell them to stop denying climate change. They want ExxonMobil to withdraw funding from groups that "misrepresented the science of climate change by outright denial of the evidence".

Finally, this week saw the release of “The Inconvenient Truth” in the UK. Al Gore may be jetting around the globe to pass on the message but at least he’s keeping the debate alive.

But despite all the information out there, people still don’t get it. The Government and Local Councils have these big pushes on to encourage us to recycle, but fail to realise that it’s the excessive consumption that causes the problem in the first place. Of course – they aren’t going to tell us to buy less – the whole system is predicated on encouraging an increasing amount of consumption and therefore waste.

I just can’t see how big business can ever be compatible with a sustainable society. Not only should we be working locally, but our food, and just as importantly our energy should be sourced locally. Better still, we should cater for all our own needs through self-sufficiency – I really need to build that green house before winter sets in.

One more thing, Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond was critically injured attempting to break a speed record for the programme. Although it’s very sad for all concerned, was it really that unexpected from a programme that glorifies speed on a weekly basis, that one of their presenters would come to some sort of harm? More people die on British Roads each year than were killed in the twin towers, yet we still allow cars on our road that are capable of more than double the speed limit. Some people say we don’t need a nanny state enforcing speed restrictions, but if people behave like kids, nanny needs to take their toys away!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Trip to Dublin

Bike culture definitley seems a bit stronger in Dublin

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Random musings

I haven’t been keeping this blog very up to date recently. I think when it gets to the summer I just end up too busy to do anything. Maybe if I put more random musings in here rather than just focusing on bike related stuff it might get updated more regularly. I'll probably stick a few more photos on as well.
Having 2 jobs is useful and has been necessary over the last few years as my other half has been training to be a midwife. But now that she has qualified – I will hopefully be able to work less. In an ideal world I would love just to do the juggling work and grow all our own food but I doubt whether my other half would be happy with that.
I don’t mind working as a civil servant – union membership is very high and it’s pretty much a job for life. But I can’t help thinking that my time would be much better spent doing other stuff. Promotion prospects are pretty non-existent, and to be honest I couldn’t be bothered with the extra responsibility if I were promoted. Its not that I’m lazy (maybe a bit) but I just don’t feel motivated by pushing bits of paper around a desk.
I’m planning not to work next August – which will give me more time off with the kids as well as giving me more time to do my other job.
We are going away for the weekend for our anniversary, my wife doesn’t know yet and as she rarely (never) reads my blog it will hopefully stay a secret till we go away on Friday. It’ll be good to get away together and think about the next stage of our life – now that she is a qualified midwife, paying the bills isn’t going to be quite as difficult as it has been recently. We might even get a proper holiday next year for the first time ever.