Archive for November, 2010

A Test of Courage

For the last day of her easter holidays I took Elspeth to Chessington. Unfortunately I had no leave left, so started work at the crack of dawn in order to enable us to take off at around 3pm. Chessington was open until 8pm that day, and Elspeth wanted to see what the rides were like in the dark, so this suited us all around.

Now I once persuaded Elspeth, slightly against her better judgement, to have a go on Stealth at Thorpe Park.

John and Elspeth on Stealth

It's a Kodak moment

Although the resulting photo was a classic (even Elspeth agreed) the poor girl was pretty much terrified out of her wits. This wasn’t a mistake I was going to make again. So after we’d done the Rattlesnake, which she loves, and been in to Lorikeet Lagoon to feed the Rainbow Lorikeets, we stopped for a warming hot chocolate and discussed our options. Entirely of her own volition she decided to have a go at The Kobra.

The status display was saying that the queue was 70 minutes, but it soon became clear that it was going to be nearer 50 – still quite long enough. With about 10 minutes to go Elspeth started to look worried.

“We can leave the queue if you want.” I offered, but this was quickly turned down. If we left we’d have to join another humongous queue somewhere else, and that would be a wasted of good ride time. By the time we’d got in to the final cattle pen prior to boarding she was in tears. In vain I tried to assure her that it was no worse than the tea-cup ride, and didn’t swing up as high as the pirate boat, so I hugged her to me and we trekked on board.

About 20 seconds in to the ride the tears disappeared and a huge smile broke out, and about 20 seconds after the ride stopped we were heading around to the back of the queue – now thankfully diminished – for a second go.

“That’s my new favourite ride at Chessington!” she declared as we headed off for home.

How to take stunning pictures

Anyone out there been watching Channel Five’s series ‘How to take stunning pictures’? Presented by Suzi Perry, each week they bring in a professional photographer and a couple of ordinary people off the street and show them how to take decent pictures in a particular specialty. The first week was portraits and the second was wedding photos.

I have to admit I recorded them all and then couldn’t work up the enthusiasm to watch them for a while – in fact I nearly deleted them unwatched. I’m glad now that I didn’t as it’s proving to be an interesting series. The professionals have been very encouraging and the results have been surprisingly good. It makes me feel that, if I tried to take in the lessons in the programs, I might actually be able to take some decent pictures myself.

Reflections on lights

Riding a recumbent bike through London I’m obviously somewhat aware that I’m sitting rather lower down than the average cyclist. On the whole this doesn’t bother me: London drivers, on the whole, are a pretty polite lot and seem to give me plenty of space. However, now that the clocks have gone back and the evenings are pitch black My thoughts turn to making myself as visible as possible. 

Interestingly the rear light on the recumbent is actually at pretty much the same height as on any standard bike, but with the idea of fitting a light as high up as possible I dropped in to my local bike shop with the idea of getting a light on the back of my helmet. I was somewhat taken aback to find that such a thing is hard to come by. I’m sure there are manufacturers out there who do such a thing, but the captital’s biggest chain of bike stores apparently don’t sell it, whatever it is. 

Fortunately one of their staff was a bit more of a lateral thinker than some and suggested that Cateye’s SL110 loop light may well fit the bill: 

Cateye rear loop light

It isn’t obvious from the picture, but that thing that looks like a piece of string is actually elastic so you can loop it through a vent in the back of your helmet.

I’m of the opinion that you can never have too many lights on a bike, though someone I recently read of who claimed to have 40 LED lights on his bike was perhaps a little extreme, so although I can’t afford to buy up the whole shop I may well have a look around to see where else I can fit a neat little light like this. I may have to buy a whole raft of CR2032 batteries to keep them going, of course, but since all sorts of devices now use these slim line batteries I’ll have plenty of use for them.
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