afternoon stroll

My first half-decent walk since Easter – a mile and three-quarters in 40 minutes. It would have been longer, but I was delayed starting due to waiting for the burglar alarm engineer, as a fault had shown up just as I was intending to leave!

Rather sniffly (cow-parsley gives me hayfever), but great to get out, and the white candles on the horse chestnut by the Bilford Road bridge were spectacular as always.

map of route over satellite view

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earth path with cow parsley at the side

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close-up of white horse chestnut candle

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historic rant

From Facebook Memories 9 years ago this morning, but disturbingly relevant today:

Irritated by assorted readers of “Which?”, I posted the comment below on the Which? discussion boards a few days ago. I’ve just noticed that it’s now “comment of the week” !
I said:
I’m sure plenty of posters have a lot to feel smug about, but the reality for many people is that there just isn’t enough cash for energy and food. If you’re on benefits, Some kind of phone and internet connection are essential, especially if you’re looking for work. Many of those unexpectedly out of work will have long-term contracts (for example, Sky or gymn subscriptions) that can take a year to cancel, so these aren’t always luxuries that can be controlled! I know – it took me eight months to work through such items when I lost my last job.
Before posting smug condemnations of the feckless poor, please stop and think. If you lost your job or became too disabled to work tomorrow (or if both of you did, if you’re in a two-income household), how .long would it take you to set yourself up to live on the dole? What would you do if the fridge or boiler broke? How long would it take before you were able to grow even basic salads to cut down on food costs – what’s the waiting time for an allotment if you don’t have a garden?
The lecturing and patronising approach that some people take to the very real problems of poverty is a real contributor to the marginalisation that many of us feel.

Irises

Vile weather this morning was not good for arthritis! It’s drying out now, and I managed a painful and soggy hobble round the garden, to discover that the first of the irises have come out. One of my favourite flowers!

two mid-blue and yellow irises

not exactly fame at last …

An old friend – Mark Lovell – commented on one of my Facebook posts to ask if it had been me on BBC news at Ten last night. Obviously, not an interview, but I thought it possible I’d appeared in the background somewhere. And then I had an email from my brother, asking the same thing. So I pulled up iPlayer to check.

Yes, it was me. and here it is.

A good night for the Greens

In fact, an excellent night for us across England.

Dolls out of prams – ” Our team in Worcester reports Tory leader has gone home, expects party to lose several seats says ‘people have given their verdict on govt’, partygate was a big issue, and MPs need to think about who they want to lead them into next election. — Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) May 5, 2022″

We’ve won two of our three target wards here in Worcester, which is very good news. Tory voters seem to have stayed home en masse, rather than defecting to LibDems. Full results at https://www.worcester.gov.uk/cou…/elections/2022-elections – and I’m delighted that I very convincingly beat the LibDems to come 3rd in Rainbow Hill.

Rainbow Hill ward table of results

first rose

The first rose of the year has opened this morning. It’s the rather-rampant Étoile de Hollande on the rose arch, so sadly too high up to really smell the wonderful perfume unless I get a stepladder out!

deep red rose against out-of-focus leaves

More RANT

“Britons should buy value brands to cope with living cost crisis, says minister” https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/may/04/britons-should-buy-value-brands-to-cope-with-living-cost-crisis-says-minister

Yet another attempt by Tories to shift blame from this dreadful government! Many people have been buying cheapest possible brands for many years, as the only possible way of eking out inadequate social security payments or pensions. It’s deeply insulting to all of us to imply that it’s our fault for not being thrifty enough to manage to survive, or that we lack the knowledge to do so.

I’m lucky, in that my massively broke period was some years ago, but I will never forget the despair induced by fortnightly purchases of ASDA “value” frozen sausages at £2 for 40, walking a mile to save 15p on half a gallon of milk, or sitting in the cold dark because the electricity meter had run out and money didn’t come in to my bank account until the following morning. So please, no more attempts to load responsibility for inhuman living conditions onto those that this government has so dismally failed to offer any meaningful support.

active day

Having had a respiratory infection last week, I reported it to the Synexus RSV vaccine trial I’m part of, and was asked to go in yesterday morning. I explained that I can’t do rush-hour, standing-room-only trains, so they offered a cab. I’m slightly uneasy about how sending a cab from Birmingham to Worcester to fetch me, and the same on a return journey, sits with my generally Green approach. However, pragmatically, I suppose it’s a question of “greater good” – RSV is a killer of infants and elderly.

I was up early. As Monday was a Bank Holiday, I hadn’t had any confirmation of the cab arrangements, so rang Synexus just after 8. They were happy to confirm that a cab had been booked for 0900h. The driver was rather too chatty for my taste at that hour of morning, but still better than rush-hour trains!

I’d been invited for tea at Clare and Ian’s. Not only Ian’s 60th, but also Leslie visiting from Australia: we worked out that the last time I saw Leslie was at Ian’s 40th exactly 20 years ago!

ebikes I’ve had

Ten years ago this week, I bought my first e-bike. A very elderly grey “Powabyke”, it cost me about £100 and I had to collect it from Bristol. It was a major success, and within a couple of months I’d bought a very-slightly-less-elderly bright blue Chinese model, of the kind that Thompsons were then importing, and passed the Powabyke on to Maurice. That led to a summer of rides out to nature reserves, and bike-picnics by the canal.

The Powabyke lasted a year, Maurice moved out, I moved house, and by May 2015 was posting “I needed a new bike ‘cos my last one was 7 years old when I bought it second-hand over two years ago. It died … well, needed attention to the lights, replacement drum brake, attention to the motor, and new batteries, so not cost-effective to repair. Replacement electric bike. Exactly the same as my previous second-hand one, but this one is new!”

That got stolen two and half years later, and as I don’t cycle much in winter, it was the following May before I said “To replace the cheap and cheerful electric bike I had stolen last autumn, I have gritted my teeth and just ordered a rather nice shaft-drive (no messy chains or oiling) folding electric bike, 3 hub gears (no bloody-finnicky derailleurs for me!), with carrying bag. Also a silver-grade lock and cable, a pannier bag, and insurance. I blanched slightly at the total cost … it will have to live indoors rather than chained up outside! That was part of the reason for “folding”.

So I’ve had my current bike for coming up to five years now. The pannier bag was quickly replaced by a solid top-box, which holds walking-stick, emergency cagoule, seat cover, pump, helmet and high-viz, and suchlike. It’s well overdue a service, and needs new inner tubes – they’re currently full of self-sealing gloop as Worcester roads are massively puncture-causing. When the “Council Tax Rebate” comes though, that’s what it will be spent on!

I cannot now easily remember what life was like in pre-bike days: my succession of ebikes has been profoundly liberating and empowering.

grey and blue ebikes by canal

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new blue ebike

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Me on current bike, at Critical Mass ride