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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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People who hear I cycle to college often react with surprise and imply that I’m incredibly hardcore but I honestly don’t see it as a big deal: the ride is only 20 kilometres (12 miles) one way, and I get to sit down in a warm classroom all day before pootling back: essentially I get to have two short bike tours with a day at college inbetween. Besides, so far I’ve seen deer, rabbits, kestrels, red kites, buzzards, lots of smaller birds I’m gradually getting to know, and last week a fox ambled across the road as I went through a forest.

It helps that I only have to do it once or twice a week: I think I’d see it differently if I was riding every day.

The photo is on a new section of the route: I had to change because one of the towns I went through has closed a main road to lay a new sewage pipe and decided the cycle way is much more useful as a diversion for the Very Important Drivers rushing to the autobahn, and I don’t feel like dealing with stressed drivers trying to control their car and use their navigator while drinking coffee at half past six in the morning.

I did wonder about writing to the council and pointing out that by pushing cyclists like me out of the town, it means we can’t stop and spend money in their supermarkets as we pass,  but then I remembered I’m too miserly to do that anyway, and besides the new route has views like this and no traffic whatsoever, so I didn’t bother.

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More wandering about in York. Part of the waterfront before the tour boats start churning the water up. The building on the extreme right is a pub which flooded so often it ceased to be a niusance and became a part of the attraction.

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The Shambles in York. Ghost town like appearance is because sensible people are still in bed.

Later in the day the tourists will come out and cycling is not allowed, although you can barely walk down here during the day, let alone cycle.

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The Millennium bridge in York, part of the city of York orbital cycle route which I’ve been using a lot in the last few days.

The white arrows at the bottom of the picture are three speed bumps. This is essential to stop anyone riding too fast off the bridge and along the straight, wide cycleways on either side. Presumably this important safety feature will soon be added to all road bridges.

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