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Look: Blue sky...

Much excitement today: not only was the early morning ride actually conducted in daylight, but under blue sky and on a dry road. There were snowdrops, a lack of mud, and a red kite flying overhead.

Of course, as soon as I’d got over this, I remembered that this means the growing season will be upon us soon, and I don’t have the vegetable beds ready, or the seeds ordered, and I need to sort out the compost bin, and…

sunrise_01

The long silence was not due to my having gone out on the lash to celebrate the end of the apprenticeship. That would be unlikely because 1: I am ‘somewhat’ older than the average apprentice and I don’t need any help to do more silly things in public, 2: An extreme introvert who tends to hide during parties, and most importantly 3: I really dislike the taste of alcohol. I appreciate this puts me in the running for the Most Boring Person on the Planet competition, but regular readers knew that anyway.

The last two weeks were mainly spent doing a translation job for a documentary (I now know enough about heart disease to make me seriously paranoid), getting my CV up to date, playing with the boys and Beautiful Daughter, and cycling through snowstorms to pick up ‘important’ pieces of paper from various offices.

Final_paperwork

Remember, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad organisation and poor time management.

Oh, and I now have the paperwork to prove that I’m a Real Carpenter, at least as far as the state of Baden-Württemberg is concerned. Still working in what we do next though…

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The sliding tray last seen heavily clamped a couple of days ago.

Despite the ironmongery, the tray still managed to move out of shape again, and unfortunately it has to be exactly square or it won’t slide smoothly when the examiners play with it on Friday. The only thing for it was to pull two sides off and reset them.

I think I got it right this time.

I’ll let you know tomorrow…

No matter how mucky your bike may be, always check the weather report before cleaning it.

Yesterday I decided that my bikes were so filthy it was getting embarrassing so I cleaned them. So today it rained. And then I realised I’d forgotten to go to Beautiful God-Daughter’s music recital yesterday evening*, so I rode over to apologise, only to discover that the farmers had been out ploughing the fields and the lanes to the next village are covered in mud which of course got splattered all over my bike.

A fair bit also applied itself to my clothes: I think the whole ‘Cycle Chic’ ethos is better suited to places with dry climates and/or a lack of farming activity.

On the other hand I got a music recital from Beautiful God-daughter and her brother, so I’m not complaining.

*A combination of exams, baby, et c, and being plain disorganised.

calmvorstorm

…one Tiny Person. Beautiful Wife and myself had a lift to the local hospital* this afternoon, and we are now waiting for the smaller person to make their mind up about coming, or not. From past experience, there will be a long wait until the baby decides they want to come now and then things happen very quickly, so although I’ve been sent off home, the phone is staying close by.

I’ve been offered lifts by various kind people, but I reckon that by the time I get to their home, wake them up, they get ready and we can drive off, I’d be halfway to the hospital, so it will be a nighttime Xtracycle ride at some point probably early in the morning.

*Beautiful Wife having rejected suggestions that she ride herself or be carried by Bakfiets: I can’t think why…

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While on my way to an appointment in our local big town, I came across this.

For the benefit of our local councillors I should explain that this is called a ‘cycle lane’, and is a place where ‘bicycles’ can be used safely and conveniently by people of all ages and abilities.

Significantly this is part of a ‘cycle network’ which means lots of these are connected together, so that people have a choice of transport mode and don’t have to use a car.

I can explain the concept in detail if any local government officials are having difficulty with it. Judging by past experience I suspect that is most of them.

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Living car free is easy, but the expectations of the car culture around us can be a problem. For example, when I have to get to several different places in a short period of time, and the public transport connection is just too tight or too long to be sure of making the appointments.

Enter the commuter bike which finds itself dumped at some distant tram or bus stop where I’d never dream of leaving my Xtracycle, while I follow some complex itinerary to get where I need to go.

Here it is towards the end of a rather complex journey involving two appointments in different places which required a round trip on several busses, trams and trains.

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The newest member of the family in profile. Estimated time of arrival is December the second.

Youngest Son’s bed broke. We aren’t sure how this happened, but one side managed to split lengthways, so it would require a replacement. For this I needed to get some wood.

As I work at a carpenters I figured this would be simple enough. I placed an order with my employer, and waited. And waited a bit more. After several weeks of prompting he finally told me the order was ‘too small’ and it would have to wait until a customer came along who wanted rather more of the same wood type. As the company I work for mainly uses chipboard, I couldn’t see this happening soon, so I asked around at college and was sent to the local wood wholesaler. Problem solved

Except that the German wood wholesalers association have decided not to sell wood to private customers because they can’t be bothered.

Back to college. My colleague told me to just go to the wholesaler and ask nicely.

So we went to visit the wholesaler.

The wholesaler had a good laugh at customer making stupidly small order, then took us through the depths of the wood yard to the ‘offcuts’ section, where we could found two pieces of wood. The smaller piece could be carried out, the bigger one would require a forklift. To get the forklift in, they would have to first move a truck. The two vehicles required different drivers. This would double the price.

We took the small piece.

An assistant cut the small piece to length and we squeezed it in a friends trailer. I am now the owner of one chunk of tree, with bark. All I have to do is make it fit into the existing bed.

Long term readers of this blog will not be surprised to find that this isn’t turning out to be simple…

I’m signed off work for a couple of weeks. It’s nothing serious (ie: It won’t stop me riding a bike/doing woodwork/gardening, and it’ll go away eventually), and it gives me time to do more important things. I had a half-baked plan to go on a bike ride before the Weather Department notices its Autumn and orders in a load of soggy cold weather, but what with rushing about to doctor’s appointments like an old aged pensioner, preparing for my final carpentry course project, updating my CV, applying to different places of work, and doing coursework assignments (can’t get out of those even if I am off sick), the days are getting eaten up pretty fast.

On the other hand I get to spend time with the boys. I’m reading stories, playing board games and encouraging them to be creative, something that the German school system is frankly pretty rubbish at doing

I have managed to dig over most of the garden beds of grass and celandine which took the removal of brambles as an invitation to colonise the place, and some kind friends came along with a monster strimmer and laid waste to the vegetation on the boundaries of the garden.

The only problem is that our camera is dying and although we have a replacement it technically was a birthday present for my Beautiful Wife who has banned me from carrying it on bike rides or out to the garden on the quite reasonable basis that I’ll probably lose it, so until we reach a negotiated settlement there may be a lack of pictures on the blog.

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