No, not your blog of course. I concede that your posts are succinct, insightful, humorous and well worth reading. That is why I would appreciate it if you could spare a moment to cast your eye over my efforts and let me know how I can encourage people to read it. On the other hand it may be the most boring blog, someone's has to be.

Newark market place

Newark market place
Newark market place dull Saturday morning

Newark Church

Newark Church
Two residents at the weir

Snowy Dry Doddington

Snowy Dry Doddington
Snow on the road to not very Dry Doddington

Raleigh Runabout RM6 Refurbished

Raleigh Runabout RM6 Refurbished
Look for the "before" in the blog post

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Horse chestnut "sticky buds"

When I was a child in the 40's and 50's we rarely had cut flowers in the house. My mother certainly would never have bought any and although we had a large country garden my father thought the correct place for them was in a flower bed. The exception were bowls of bulbs at Christmas which were "forced" in the airing cupboard.
In addition to flowers and vegetables in the plot we also had trees including a horse chestnut that, it was alleged, my brother had grown from a conker. At this time of the year it sprouted "sticky buds". My mother would cut budded stems from the tree and put them in a vase in the house where we would watch the buds burst and leaves unfurl in their bright green splendour. The same was done with hazel catkin buds when we could find any. Cheap pleasures and no air mile cost.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Just a walking in the rain, with my MS by my side

Took my Puch MS50V for it's MOT the other day. Only 143 miles since the last time so even I "Mr Everysilverlininghasanevenbiggerdarkcloud" felt it had a reasonable chance of passing. After the (successful) test I stood around chatting to the tester and his mate extolling the high quality Austrian build and reliability of the thing. Stepped forward nonchalantly to flip it into life with a half turn of the pedal. Nothing happened. After five minutes or so of panicky and sweaty activity I gave up. "Its never not started before" I said feeling that this sounded a little unconvinving. After ten minutes advice and suggestions the other two cleared off for a cup of tea and left me in the testing bay to try to sort it out. In the end I gave up and pushed it home through driving rain. Fortunately I did not see anyone I knew. I bet those two from the test place were watching me through the garage window as I left, sipping steaming tea and laughing. Blocked carb so perhaps I shouldn't leave it with petrol in over the winter.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Puch Grand Prix moped - don't Hammerite it

Took the cats to the vets for their annual service yesterday. Always very traumatic (I mean for me!) as although it only happens once a year they sense it and make it as difficult as possible to get them into their baskets. When in they make the most pitiful noise that makes me feel a complete shite. Even though I tell them its for their own good. After the checks and injections the vet tells us Maisie needs some dental work. She will let us have an estimate which I can collect at the reception desk. I go out to pay the consulting and medication fee. A modest £90 or so. I am handed the dental estimate. One hundred and ninety two quid! No wonder I was given it to read outside the consulting room, the (very nice) vet doesn't want any old codgers dying of shock in her office. Susan, pass me the pliers and the bottle of whisky. Maisie you'll hardly feel a thing.

Anyway all that is beside the point, today was also very traumatic. I have dismantled the Puch M50 Grand Prix with a view to refurbishing (my definition is reliable presentable and safe). As you can see in the picture it now looks like a piece of Meccano. Although the frame is not rotted it had a lot of surface rust so what to do. I don't at the moment to spend vast amounts on the cosmetics so I decided to brush paint the frame pending an eventual respray. I had decided I would NOT use Hammerite on it. However today I somehow found myself testing Hammerite black on the frame and thereafter painting it. Within about two hours the whole frame had turned into a black sticky unsightly mess. I could have roared, and not like a lion either. More like the cat in the basket. In the end I spent a considerable time scraping the whole gooey lot off. I hope tomorrow I can begin to replace it with lacquer as I originally intended.

Although this moped was no doubt hammered in it's youth (probably by a youth or two) this does not seem to have caused as much damage as being subjected to Hammerite.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Cows at Claypole

Snowed again in Newark. That's two lots plus an earthquake in about a month! Bob Marley who bid for my Honda NC50 Express on Ebay let me down. Never heard a thing from him and when I checked he had not even given a full address to Ebay. Relisted the Express and a Honda C90 and both have now sold. So we could afford to go out for an Indian meal last night to celebrate my 61st birthday which was in fact a couple of weeks ago. Pork for dinner today so I felt I could look the snow bound cows in the eye this morning.
OFSTED passed not sure how.
Puch M50 in bits in the garage undergoing what I fondly like to call a partial refurb or "tidy up". Awaiting parts from Puch-Weiser in Austria.

Monday, 10 March 2008

I can't believe I forgot the earthquake

My life is so boring and uneventful I cannot believe I forgot to mention this. We had an earthquake the week before last. I appreciate this is a frequent, dreadful and unfortunate event in some countries but I can only recall two in 61 years in England. I was lying in bed just before one in the morning reading about the life of John "Rumpole" Mortimer (not apparently as nice as we might think) when the bed, house walls and windows started rattling and rumbling like nothing I had experienced before. Apparently old Mortimer's bed is alleged to have rumbled quite frequently during his life, but not I believe caused by earthquakes. Anyway I digress. I could not think what it was, it felt like the house was falling down. My initial thought was that there had been an air crash somewhere nearby, but fortunately not. I was cared witless and jumped out of bed and started downstairs. My wife was coming up shaking like a leaf. I had a look outside and strangely noone had come out onto the street. The epicentre was as is now well known about 30 miles from here in sleepy Market Rasen in Lincolnshire. Apart from horse racing this will probably what this small country town will henceforth be famous for.

Bob Marley and the Unwanted Gift

The "Unwanted Gift" aka Honda Express sold on Ebay yesterday for £165. Much more than I thought it would go for. However there has been an ominous silence from the purchaser despite my sending him or her a number of emails. The persons Ebay moniker and perhaps even real name is Bob Marley and as a fan of The Wailers I am particularly irked to be let down by a namesake of their leader. I don't suppose it could have been a Bidder from The Other Side? No, Bob would never have been seen dead on a moped. So I have a feeling I am going to be the victim of my first "timewaster", I have been lucky so far. The problem is how long do you leave it before you try to sell the item to one of the other bidders? If you take this course of action too soon then the "timewaster" will probably complain that they were away from their computer for some legitimate reason and leave detrimental feedback to this effect. If you leave it too long the remaining bidders will have bought a similar item elsewhere or gone cold on purchasing the item you had for sale.

And that's not the only bad thing, we've got an OFSTED inspection at work tomorrow, and I've a blood pressure and cholesterol check on Friday.

Right off to the gym now and chicken for tea.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

What you could buy at Newark Autojumble today

Spent the morning at the 'Normous Newark Autojumble. It is not always 'Normous but it was today, the queue to get in was about four times longer than it usually is. Any way here are some examples of what could be bought. Two Lambrettas, a lovely Francis Barnett, a sidecar and a mangle just like my mother used to use on a Monday. I just bought three light bulbs and some paint. I am sure everything I am searching for was there, if only I could have found it.
I've come to the conclusion there are two sorts of bikers go to these things. One lot are older earnest blokes who probably worked as skilled engineers before they retired, doubtless smoked a pipe at some time in the past and spend their time trying to keep an unreliable pre 70's Brit bike on the road (probably at great expense). They are often there with their friend of many years.
The others are younger and do unpleasant things to, and with, foreign machines. These guys may be accompanied by women and children who may well also be bikers.
One group dines on the fast available from the many vans and the other has sandwiches the wife made, kept fresh till dinnertime in tinfoil. I'll let you decide which is which. No stereotyping here then!
Oh and by the way dinnertime for us working classes is about 1.00pm

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Puch M50 Grand Prix Moped

The latest two wheel purchase, a Puch "Sports" moped. It is a 1977 model and apparently spent some of its life in Lincolnshire. If you recognise it please let me know.

I felt the fairing was not really "me" so I have removed it and put it on Ebay. Obviously no-one else thinks it is "them" either as there are no bids on it.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Honda Express - Unwanted gift

Trip down to Southend for the last two days. I have left Susan there for a week so she can interfere with and attempt to reorganise our daughters life. This agenda is hidden under the guise of helping with painting and other DIY. We have never yet managed to organise Amy's life yet so I doubt we will be any more successful now.

Any way, a year ago I gave them a yellow Honda Express which I had rendered roadworthy. Despite dreams of zipping down Southend front leaving behind a thin blue haze of exhaust it has languished under a sheet in their back yard with only an All Terrain Bike and a mountain of dog ends dropped by the neighbours for company. So I have brought the unwanted gift back to Newark and it is now on Ebay. Might make £75, we'll see.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Spots and Rhubarb

Bought a new camera this week, a Fuji S6500. Out snapping in the garden as can be seen from the pictures. As can be seen I have not yet got the hang of the autofocus on macro mode.

The red thing is rhubarb, not the spot on my nose which I will refer to later. I suspect it has appeared a bit early due to the clement weather and I am hoping that the bucket I have over it will give protection on cold nights.

Had an interview for a post as a self employed social research interviewer on Tuesday. Extremely anxious about it and was amazed to be successful. Low pay but it will get me out of the house and provide beer money into retirement. Speaking of beer Rodney "Mester" Shaw told me yesterday when I saw him in his HQ (otherwise known as Morrisons) that it is soon to go up to £3 a pint so if I want to see him in the pub I'd better hurry up. Rodney is a local character of indeterminate age, probably of traveller origin and I should have mentioned him before.
Puch still seize free though there is no doubt that power is down, doubtless due to bore and piston damage. Plan is to replace barrel and piston after I have run it for a few miles to ensure there is no underlying problem which caused the seize which I have not fixed.
Have developed a large teenage spot on my already beer reddened nose. It is a bit much. I had acne as a teenager and the only consolation of old age was that I thought it would be spot free. It was not that I went without vitamin C as a child. The rhubarb pictured came from my family home. We had plantations of it and a large bowl of the stewed plant was always on the table when in season. If it wasn't rhubarb it was apples or gooseberries. I prefer the smooth rather than the hairy ones don't you (gooseberries that is!)?

Monday, 18 February 2008

Rare happening - snow in Newark

Opened the curtains this morning to find the most incredibly fine snow, or was it frost falling? In fact it was not all tumbling downwards. So fine that at times it drifted sideways and was even at times wafted back up.

Looks beautiful in the garden but it will not last as the sun is already upon it.

For some reason it rarely seems to snow in Newark. This has been the case since long before global warming made it less of a regular occurrence than it used to be years ago in other parts of England. I have always thought, with no evidence whatsoever, that it is caused in some way by us being in the Trent river valley.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Business career stalls

The front door bell went about 10.30 this morning sending cats flying in every direction. It was Paul from Horsforth who had won the Ebay auction for Honda C90 I had posted for sale.

I had been agonising that he had bid too much for the bike and that when he saw it we might have an unseemly disagreement about the description I had given on Ebay. So as soon as he came through the door I said " I don't want £200 for the bike".

He looked concerned doubtless thinking I was going to ask for more.

"It's too much" I said, "just give me 180, buy a battery with the twenty".

He relaxed "If that's OK with you".

My guilt resolved and with Paul doubtless thinking he had a simpleton on his hands we went through into the garage.

"There it is", I said and waited with trepidation.

"It's great, better than I thought it would be from the pictures and just what I want".

"Your er, satisfied with it?"


His friend who he had brought with him agreed.

Sod me I'd just given away twenty quid unnecessarily. And I gave him the Haynes Workshop manual for nothing. Two cups of tea as well milk and sugar in both. It happens every time, my late flowering business career is in tatters.

Must re-read "Perfect people skills, all you need to get it right first time".

Saturday, 16 February 2008

The cat sat on the............. laptop.
How times have changed, they used to be content with a coal fire and a mat

Another 8 miles on the Puch - and a response to a post

Beautiful sunny cold day and another eight miles on the Puch with no catastrophe. Sold 1976 Honda for £200 on Ebay and feel really guilty as it is too much. I don't think the buyer has researched or knows anything about the C90 market. Anyway he is coming to collect it tomorrow and I have resolved to give him a discount - if he turns up!

Very exciting day as I have recieved not one but two responses to a blog post, most unusual.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Dupuytren's contracture - Three years after the operation

Dupuytren's contracture causes one or more fingers to bend into the palm. As you can see from the two pictures I had one hand operated on three years ago but the other still has the condition.

I first got indications of the problem in my left hand in my early twenties. It started as a lump on my palm and although I discussed it with my GP in my late twenties never had anything done about it at the time.

My right hand began to develop the condition in my forties and progressed more rapidly than the other hand had done, two fingers becoming bent at more than a right angle into the palm. In the end the inconvenience (hardly being able to pick up a pint of beer) overcame my exceedingly high level of anxiety and I was referred to a surgeon. He told me that the operation should be able to be done under a local anaesthetic (arm deadened by a block) so I decided to go ahead. In the event a general anaesthetic was required. When I came round in the basement of the Queens Medical Centre surrounded by many other half awake individuals in flowered nighties I was amazed to find the op had taken two and a half hours!

As I had allowed the condition to progress so far it had been necessary to remove skin from my upper arm to repair my palm and finger. I now have some hair growing on the front of my fingers of my right hand. Mad or what.

The surgeon did an excellent job but I have to say that I was not prepared for the considerable and fairly excruciating pain that I experienced in the post operative period. This was I understand due to the fact that the many nerves present in the fingers are damaged in the course of the operation and need to repair over a period of time. Numbness of the finger ends was also present for a time but this resolved.

Three years on I am clear that the operation was a success. I have more mobility in the right hand although I am unable to clench it as tightly closed as I could. I now have one hand that won't fully close and one that won't fully open.

Why have I not had the other one done?
  • I have concerns about subjecting myself to a two and a half hour anaesthetic for a non life threatening condition - if I had known it was going to take so long I might not have had the right hand done
  • It was very very painful
  • The condition can return though fortunately mine has as yet shown no evidence of returning

I suppose the lesson that I have learned from my experience is that if you begin to develop the condition get it resolved whilst it is in it's early stage of development and requiring less drastic surgical intervention.

Fingers crossed no seizure yet

Another 8 miles today in the cold on the Puch MV50. Still goes "ting, ting, ting" when you first start up but no "nip ups" on todays run. Mind you kept to under 25mph.

The performance (sic) of the bike has definitely been affected by my doctoring of the piston. However the plan is to run it on the old barrel and piston and if the seizures don't recur to replace with new barrel etc. Have just put a bid in on a NOS barrel on Ebay so possibly another spare.

Whilst on the subject of Ebay, the 1976 Honda C90 which I have for sale there has been bid up to £200 which makes me feel uncomfortable. In many ways I hope that it does not go higher. My usual response to this type of uncomfortable/guilt feeling is to give the successful bidder all sorts of extra items when they come to collect their purchase. Must curb this urge now that I face an impecunious future as a pensioner.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Eight miles with just a little tinkle

Eight miles today and no seizure with the MV50. When you first start the bike up there is what I can best describe as a metallic "tinkling" sound. I assume that this is the now doctored (by me) and ill fitting piston rattling in the bore. This sound stops within a few minutes presumably as heat expansion takes place.

So so far so good.

MV50 back on the road - Fingers crossed?

Puch MV50 back together after recent seizure (see previous blog). Seizure suffered by bike not owner. Although I have obtained a new barrel and piston Jim Lee (well known Puch expert and motorcycle raconteur) advised I could try to carefully file down the high spots on the old piston and reuse. So I have done this. I read a story the other day that if you have a spare for any vehicle part the original will not go wrong. I am banking on this.

Took the bike out yesterday with great trepidation as I don't know what the cause of the original fault was. My worry was that the crankcase seals had gone allowing an air leak into the crankcase, a weak mixture and consequent overheating. Jim doesn't think it is the seals otherwise it would be more difficult to start. I have made sure that there are no air leaks en route from the air filter to the cylinder. When the bike seized I was using, for the first time a Miller 2T oil supposedly for older and vintage engines. For the trial run yesterday I went back to a modern two stroke oil.

What happened. The bike started and sounded a little strange for a short while but this settled down and I went for a run of about eight miles keeping the speed to around 20 mph with no obvious mishap. The plan is to repeat this slowly increasing speed and distance if there are no further calamities. Blog to be informed

Monday, 11 February 2008

How Mrs Pilsworth got Community Care

Mrs Pilsworth was an elderly women who lived on Mill Lane in the Lincolnshire village where I spent my childhood and early adult years. I think she probably lived with her grown up children and her grandchildren. She was obviously beginning to suffer from dementia and memory loss because one day as I walked past I noticed a board fixed to the front gate proclaiming the message "Don't let Mam out". The gate was tied shut.

Thereafter Mrs Pilsworth could be seen from time standing at the gate imploring passers-by to "let me out duck".

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Snowdrops at Kelham Hall

Great display of snowdrops at Kelham Hall today. A cheering sight. You do wonder who planted them all. Prior to the building being the headquarters of Newark and Sherwood District Council it was a theological college. Would the monks and their students have dibbed the bulbs in?

Sam Radford, the vicar at St Wilkfreds Church Metheringham in the 60's did his training at Kelham. He used to recount to parishioners and we gullible choirboys stories of his times there but I don't recall him telling any horticultural tales. He later became a probation officer I believe.

I seem to recall a story he told that theological students had to climb upon and polish the copper domed roof. In those days we believed everything that policemen and vicars told us but looking at the roof now I am a bit sceptical. Anyway it would have required an awful lot of Brasso.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

1976 Honda C90 for sale

The latest aquisition. A 1976 Honda C90. It looks as though it started life in London and somehow wended it's way over the years to Sleaford in Lincolnshire. I got it from a man in the town who bought it from his neighbour who was a "bible basher" who used the bike to go to a near by village to tend his ducks (you would have thought it should have been his flock).

Anyway the "biblebasher" packed the Honda in in favour of an electric bike. Sadly he was recently knocked off it and is currently in hospital being treated for head injuries "no crash helmet, see". I didn't really want the bike but having gone to see it felt obliged to make an offer. It needs work as there is no spark (bit like the new owner). However I have as they say on Ebay "gto two meny other projets m8" so it will have to go. My usual trick is to spend money and then sell at a significant loss. However as I am approaching retirement and penury this philanthropic activity must stop and so I start being more disciplined and it will be for sale as it is.

If u want it tel me no quik m8 lol.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Crash Helmet Painters Art circa 1963

Mr Pilsworth of Lincoln Lane, Metheringham in Lincolnshire gave me the crash helmet in 1963. He had a 192cc LE Velocette as I recall. The helmet was probably unsafe when he passed it over to me. Alan Woolley a local young apprentice signwriter was the artist of choice for most helmet owners in the locality. But I thought (having "O" level Art and being a knowall) I would do mine myself. So I found some green and red house paint, complementary colours see, applied them carefully and left the helmet to dry on a shelf in the garage. When I returned I found my mother had knocked it off into a tub of sawdust. She probably did it on purpose as she was always trying to curtail my charisma with young women.

Repainted the lid in the black, white and blue Dulux which remains today. I was the only local lad with a woodchip or what.

Either my head has got bigger or that hat has shrunk!

Leigh on Sea

Trip to Leigh on Sea to see Amy, her partner and grandson Orson. Absolutely freezing on the banks of the Thames estuary. To Burnham on Crouch on Saturday. Absolutely freezing on the banks of the Crouch. As usual visit to daughter meant too many fattening foods consumed and wallet lightened "haven't got my purse Dad I'll give it to you when we get home". Urgent need to increase statins and decrease spending. Hackney Slasher appears to hold no hard feelings.

I think it is a dragon fly

Snapped in the garden earlier in the year, wings so delicate the camera can hardly capture them.

Thursday, 31 January 2008


The Raleigh Runabout mentioned in an earlier blog was renovated and sold to a very nice new owner from Preston.


The National Autocycle and Cyclemotor Club (NACC) is a national organisation for those who have an interest in almost powerless two wheel motor transport. Mopeds and autocycles to you.
I and Vince Shreeve started the South West Lincolnshire Branch in 2007 and we arranged two runouts in the year. The first was just Vince and I. The second as can be seen from the picture was a little more successful. We have three further runs planned in May, July and September 2008. All are welcome, please contact the blogger for more details.


As with all my previous efforts at diary writing this one stalled back in 2007. Still at work, though due to a couple of sad events in the last year which have reminded me of my mortality, I have decided to "retire" at the end of May.
Since I last added a post I have bought and sold a few Puchs and Honda C90's. I purchased the very tidy and original Puch MV50 registered PHR 658M pictured a short while ago. If you know who owned it before let me know. For some reason it seized when I took it out after passing the MOT and I will shortly be fitting a new barrel and piston.
Fingers crossed that it doesn't happen again.
A bit worried about retirement. Will we be able to manage on the money? Will I be able to survive without the structure of work? Will I ever speak to anyone again who is not a family member (and they don't speak to me anyway). Am I a nobody without a job (or even with a job)? What will I do (I know Susan will suggest loads of things but none of them will appeal)?
We'll see.