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tabeabuse

Yours truly finishing off a painting a couple of months ago; the completed version is on my drawing and painting blog.

I’ve been doing this for myself for a while, but now the local printer has offered to hang my paintings up in his shop. I realise this isn’t a residency at an art gallery or anything, but it is encouraging that someone other than immediate family thinks my work is good enough to be seen in public…

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I’ve discovered a traffic-free route to the next big town. It even includes this bridge over the river so instead of fighting my way down a steep, traffic filled hill or across a multi-lane junction I can now go straight from my preferred route down the hill and onto the cycleway that takes me into the centre of town and hardly have to deal with cars for the whole route.

Black and white photo an attempt to make ‘where I went on my bike’ shot look artsy.

I call it the Bridge of Irony because it was mainly built to link two sections of the huge Mercedes plant in this part of the valley…

We decided it was time for Beautiful Daughter to come on a bike ride with us. This caused much head scratching while I focused the remaining operable brain cells on a way to keep her baby seat from wobbling about in the Bakfiets.

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After massively over thinking things and sketching out wooden frames and other ideas, I remembered that the simplest solution is the best, and that we had a 200kg rated climbing rope that would work just fine. As long as I could still tie knots.

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About ten minutes later I had the seat tied down. unfortunately I’d also carefully tied the rope around the steering rod that runs under the bike. This meant that I could ride perfectly well as long as I didn’t have to turn any corners.

With some colorful language, another five minutes untying and retying the rope, and a total expenditure of €0,00 later we had this result. It is remarkable how the seat for smallest member of the family requires almost the entire Bakfiets.

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When we go out as a family these days, people notice. Here is the mothership with the satellites waiting outside the shops. The boys often lock their bike to the Bakfiets as it is heavier than the cheap cycle stands provided. The roof was to keep the wind out rather than any rain.

Beautiful daughter was a somewhat bemused at first, and gave the bakfiets a thorough inspection. Her brothers helped her to relax by by riding alongside and pulling faces. Inbetween she played with her cuddly toys before settling off to sleep.

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In flight entertainment was provided. She found the sight of Papa puffing up the hill more entertaining.

Due to some monumentally bad planning on my part, I managed to have four appointments in our local big town on different days last week. The town in question is only a bit over five kilometres away, which comes in at a mere 3.2 miles, but before you serious transport cycling types scoff, it is also almost 200m lower, or a rather more respectable 620 feet, most of which is crammed in a relatively short part of the ride.

The quickest way (down) is the busy, but straight main road.

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 but if I have the time, it is far more pleasant to use the old road…

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…which meanders without any urgency through the vineyards…

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…especially as this route is closed to motorised traffic, so I can stop and take pictures.

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This was another one of those mornings when I was reminded there are far worse places to live and ride a bike.

You really aren’t supposed to have this much fun on the way to an appointment, especially when the reason was to pick up my results for my carpentry apprenticeship…

There are days when I ride somewhere because it is the fastest way to get somewhere…

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…and days when I grit my teeth and tell myself over and over that it is good for me and the environment in the hope my smug green glow somehow has mystical weather-protecting qualities, and get home with a beard full of ice and shoes full of water.

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And there are days when everything comes together and the sun shines and the air is clear, and even though it is a long way to go and the temperatures are below freezing you couldn’t pay me enough to travel any other way…

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…so if you came here  for the ususal grumpiness, it has been delayed by good weather. Normal service will be resumed. Eventually…

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…

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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.

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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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Just to show I do get outside occasionally. The Xtracycle carrying the chisel and saw rolls from my workbench to my employers workshop.

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The ‘BMX Track’ reopened in summer, having had more maintenance than most of the local cycle infrastructure has seen in several years,* so we spent part of an afternoon trying it out. Unfortunately the lumps are now just a bit too fierce for the Xtracycle, which provided a great excuse is why I had to be content with sitting in the shade and photographing the boys enjoying themselves instead.

Ah, the joys of being able to ride with short sleeves.

Only a few weeks until spring…

*Which is why most of the infrastructure looks like a BMX track.

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Happy new year for 2015.

2014 was quite a rollercoaster year for us, what with the sudden realisation Beautiful Daughter was on her way, shortening the apprenticeship and trying to work out what this meant for us as a family, there hasn’t been a lot of time to sit down, let alone do stuff we wanted to work on like deal with some bigger projects in the garden to try and make it a more pleasant place to be and bring people, maybe even build it in to a microholding.

On the other hand I’ve (almost, one month and two exams to go) finished an apprenticeship in my second language, and we have three fantastic boys and a lovely little girl. As you can see the boys are riding well, and this is probably the only view I’ll get of them when we are cycling together in the years to come.

We are also broadening our horizons. Goodness knows where we will be at the end of 2015.

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