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Friday 28 June 2013

Some News Amongst the Olds

I've been a bit quiet, I know. Sorry. But since returning from our travels it's become evident that the news really is, to slightly misquote Terry Pratchett's Lord Vetinari, olds. I've been looking through the various news sites and seen plenty of cute animals, dumb criminals, children doing/ saying funny things, but we've seen it all before. But then today on the Mail a photograph brought me to a screeching halt.
What is it? What does it mean? Is it a bizarre art installation? An entry for the Turner Prize? Well no. It's the photograph of a man and his dog after a car accident. I know what you're thinking and no, I've not suddenly gone ghoulish. What made this photo stand out was that the man happened to be carrying several pots of paint in his car which burst open when it crashed. It should be colourful, but actually the result is less rainbow, more sludge. Luckily for the dog, it all came out in the wash. I think his master is going to take a little while longer to recover, and I suspect will need lifelong therapy for a newfound fear of paint.

Monday 24 June 2013

Speed Photography

He who fixes the computer has a smart new bike. This is exciting news, because he's been riding the same Raleigh for so many years now that we'd come to believe they were inseparable. The Raleigh had begun life in a very fetching British Racing Green, but over the years disintegrated into what can only be described as 'Soot'. Popular legend has it the sum of the parts is kept together by the accumulated grime but, as we've never dared clean it, it's impossible to confirm. His new bike is a very dashing bright blue. Naturally, photos had to be taken, so the computer fixer rode slowly past as I desperately tried to focus on him before he disappeared from view. It proved far harder than expected, and reminded me of a similar problem encountered on our holiday.
We had arrived in Bourg d'Oisans, a lovely little town surrounded by mountains and enormously popular with cyclists lured there by the Alp d'Huez, and were told the road would be closed the following day as the pre-Tour de France training race would be passing through. So the next morning, cameras at the ready, we lined up along the road.
We waited. All was quiet. Then came a couple of motorcycles. Then a couple more. Then some cars. Then more motorcycles. Then ... yes! Cyclists! I fumbled with my camera for a second. Looked up. They'd gone! Fortunately that was the break, the pelaton was to come. We waited. More motorcycles. More team cars. More motorcycles. Then there it was, the pelaton. Okay, this time! Blast! They've gone!
Photographing cyclists is clearly a skill I've yet to master, but here's one of the Sky team leading the pelaton. Sorry it's a bit blurry, but those guys really motor!

Thursday 20 June 2013

AWOL Returns

I've been away, which you may have guessed by the prolonged lack of activity in the blog. Apologies, a long planned holiday crept up on me when I was distracted by other things and suddenly we were in our overstuffed car, whizzing through some jolly attractive parts of France.
We saw something odd whilst we were over there: sunshine! I have a tan, and my hair is a shade or two lighter, and I have peculiar stripes on my feet from my sandals. I have a vague memory of experiencing this stuff before, but it was so long ago I had begun to think I'd imagined it.
We spent most of the time in the Alps, both in France and Switzerland. In the latter I was persuaded, much against my judgement, to brave several cable cars and ski lifts. I have absolutely no head for heights and have a track record of coming over all peculiar on the bottom rung of a step ladder, so this was quite a challenge. I did it. Okay, so I had an iron grip on whatever bar or rail happened to be available, and kept a close watch on the cable, studiously ignoring he who fixes the computer's excited exclamations about the ant-like size of those, more sensible, folk on the ground, but I made it. The views were awesome, and I do believe the stress burned off excess holiday calories.
We had a slight blip with the car: we inadvertently drove over a rock on one of the mountain passes. We stopped to check the underside for any obvious damage, but all we could see was a scrape on the protective undertray. We drove on, congratulating ourselves on a lucky escape, but over the next couple of days a worrying squeak developed. I was convinced the suspension had packed up in despair at the narrow, steep, switchbacky passes, but repeated bouncing of all four corners of the car failed to reproduce the sound. Eventually, driven I suspect my constant harping on, he who fixes the computer rigged up a ramp and crawled underneath, discovering that all the noise stemmed from one tiny piece of metal that had been bent out of shape (well, that and an over-anxious wife). He bent it back into shape and stopped the noise, from both the car and the wife.
So, a couple of thousand miles, about six thousand photos, five loads of washing and more switchbacks than I can count later, here we are, back to normal. I have to say, I don't like it much, but at least we have a few photos to look back on.

The Rhone Valley

The Aletsch Glacier - reward for braving the cable car

Monday 3 June 2013

New Month, New Story

Happy June to all my readers! And to celebrate the glorious sunshine (long may it continue) there is a new story in the QT library today. 'Off the Peg' is my response to a challenge - 'the new range' - set on the CTZ Writers' Club and is the story of the staff of a fashion chain waiting for their first glimpse of the new season's collection. It's a little bit silly, but I'm sure you're used to that by now!
Hope you enjoy it!