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Wednesday
Apr122017

Lock bag prototype

Last year I hit a pothole so hard on my 15 year old Trek 1000 that I put a dent in the back wheel. Rather than just replace the wheel (gears have changed in 15 years, hard to find compatible old stuff), I ended up buying a whole new bike. 

Genesis Equilibrium 10

It's lovely. I like it a lot. But. I sometimes have to leave a bike somewhere that I'm not 100% sure of - like the station - for longish periods of time - like a working day, or overnight. And both of my bikes were now a bit good for me to be comfortable with that. So, I've rebuilt my Trek in a new configuration. 

Trek on a train

Yep, I finally did a singlespeed conversion. Those wheels and tyres were £70 for both, so the quality isn't great. But I love the red! And they are not quick-release. So this bike has a lot of the original components off the Trek, with the saddle that came with the new bike, some really cheap platform pedals with loose bearings, and hacked off handlebars. It is perfect for leaving at the station, and the red wheels make it really easy to find when I get back to it. 

But! I still need to lock it. Which means carrying my heavy abus chain lock. I tried wrapping it round parts of the bike, but the rattling was immense, plus I could never get it tight enough. It's filthy, so I'm not putting it round me anymore (and it's too big for my hips anyway). I have a Carridice saddlebag that I use for it on my other bags, but those aren't cheap and the purpose of this bike was to be left in dubious situations. I had a really quick look for something cheap that could work, and drew a blank. 

To the sewing machine!

Bike lock bag

Bike lock bag

I knocked this up from some old pieces of canvas from an army bag I used to carry my cricket kit in and a load of velcro. Sits nicely out of the way, doesn't rattle, takes the lock, and it's ugly enough that I doubt it'll be nicked, and if it is I'd just be irritated. 

Unfortunately, the roads of Oxfordshire are full of potholes and other nastiness, and it turns out that the velcro isn't quite strong enough to hold the bag shut when you hit a lot of bumps. It developed an alarming tendency to eject the lock at really inconvenient moments. Further work required, but for now? 

Room for improvement

The bandana is doing the trick. 

Monday
Apr102017

95

95 not out. #grandad #jack #trifle

Grandad made another birthday. 95 of them now. He's still looking pretty fit and well, all things considered. Pretty spry for an old guy (no apologies to Offspring there). He certainly polished off that trifle quickly enough! Which disappointed my Dad, who'd been looking forward to finishing it for him.

It's just over 6 years since Grandma died. He built a routine around caring for her and playing golf over the last eight years of her life, and he just seems to have carried on. More power to him!

 

Friday
Apr072017

Pavement jewellery

I was walking down Cowley Road in Oxford the other day (as I do pretty frequently these days - I work just off it) and happened to look down as I was about to tread on this:

Pavement 'jewellery' #cowleyroad #feminist #hellyeah

Turns out that this is something called 'pavement jewellery', and was part of a redevelopment of the area in 2005. It was an art installation by Fusion Arts highlighting the history of the area. Originally there were 58 of these bronze ingots - I'm not sure how many are left now. I found an entire album of them on Flickr. They come in pairs, with a shared connection. This one apparently relates to a women's centre that used to be near the plain. 

Thursday
Oct272016

Old friend

Way back when in my dim and distant past I was a woodwind player. I haven't played regularly for years though, so I'm not sure I can still claim it. Flute was my first instrument, I think I was 9 or 10 when I took that up. Then when I went to secondary school (age 11) I started playing the tenor saxophone. 

I'm only 160cm tall now. An 11 year old me with a tenor sax must have looked a bit ridiculous. But Dad found a second hand one going cheapish, so that's what I got. It wasn't just second hand. It was 50 years old (give or take), a slightly grubby, silver Pan-American. I still have it. 

Pan-American Tenor Saxophone

That makes it somewhere over 75 years old. It's grubbier now. I haven't taken the very best care of it.

Pan-American Tenor Saxophone

That receipt is taking the place of a piece of felt that I lost over a decade ago. It still makes a beautifully mellow noise, but it's never been the easiest to play. Some of the keys in more modern saxes have been shifted to make them easier to reach. The octave key, for one. 

Pan-American Tenor Saxophone

These days they are slightly to the right, they sit better under the thumb. And the rollers for my little finger, well, I can't remember them ever actually rolling. 

Pan-American Tenor Saxophone

We live in a detached house now and I'm out of excuses for not playing. A friend sent me word of a local concert band who were desperate for sax players, and I've gone and joined them. But I did something first that I still feel horribly guilty about: I replaced my old Pan-American friend.

Pan-American Tenor Saxophone

I bought a shiny, brand new Jupiter. Brass, like all the other saxophones I've ever seen. With my old mouthpiece it sounds beautifully mellow, and I can reach all of the keys, and it's a lovely thing. 

But oh, the guilt.

Pan-American Tenor Saxophone

The guilt. 

Sunday
Oct232016

Quietly clanking

Another post about a thing I've finished and hadn't got to blogging. 

Both Clarkie and I have accumulated a whole lot of medals from various running races. I used to hang mine on the door to my study back in Brighton, and they clanked like hell when the door got shut but it didn't matter, because if we had guests I wasn't using the study. When we moved, I switched them to a set of hangers on the side of a big bookcase, and no more clanking. 

Then Clarkie decided she wanted to hang hers too. The only place, really, was on the back of the guest bedroom door - cue the return of the clank. This time though, it is a problem when we have guests. Particularly if the guests (say) want to use the bathroom in the night. So, I had to fix it. 

Medal backing

It's a pretty simple fix. I made a very small quilt, from a single piece of material and some left over blanket. It sits behind the medals and dulls the noise they make when they hit the door as it stops moving. 

The material is patterned with bunting, which seemed appropriate. I quilted it along the lines of the bunting on the pattern. 

Medal backing

The curves were an interesting challenge! 

To hang it, I sewed a couple of tabs to make use of the same hooks that the medals are hung from. 

Medal backing

I took the medal off that hook to take the photo, the hook is still usable. The weight of the hooks and the stiffness of the quilt holds it flat to the door, and the noise when you open and shut the door is now gone. 

Guess we need to invite some people to stay to test it properly!