After the tome that was last night’s blog, tonight will be a brief passage. I felt a little stiffness coming on late last night in my lower regions, unfortunately in the lumbar area. After a night  in bed the stiffness was absolute and even getting down the stairs was difficult and getting comfortable impossible.  Either the exertion of the shrub clearing, or more like trying to push the car to get it to start has inflamed and old weakness in my lower back.

No amount of painkilling of infra-red treatment has reduced the pain and finally I made the decision to call in sick for tomorrow. Hopefully the pain will have subsided by tomorrow as it isn’t pleasant and it stops me doing stuff. I’m not particularly good at sitting around doing nothing and the day really has dragged out somewhat.  At one point I had to go out in the car, the Jafro boy needed to return up North and the car decided it wasn’t going to behave again. I had read about disconnecting the coolant temperature sensor to trick the glow plugs into firing and this proved an opportunity to test the theory as there was no way I was going to push anything in anger. To my surprise this work around did work, the glow plugs kicked in, the engine started and I reconnected the sensor. It doesn’t explain what is malfunctioning or how to cure it but I’m not interested in curing the thing any more, as long as I know how to make it happen until I get rid then that is all that matters. When I am mobile I will put a breaker switch in the cabin so I can deal with the problem without getting out the car. According to the forums this issue only happens in cold weather, so if it makes it through into the new year I will gear up to selling it when it is warmer.

I guess it was an inopportune moment for British Cycling to contact me regarding my dissatisfaction with the Solicitors they appointed on my behalf.  I think I spelt it out in as Camoron would say, “in very clear terms” exactly what their failings were and exactly how upset I am at the apparent inaction and the constant refusal to answer direct questions. I think the BC representative was quite shocked that I had asked the Police to investigate them on the stolen cheque. Apparently my solicitor is calling tomorrow, I pray for her sake that my back isn’t still hurting.





My  blog arrives from the discomfort of my armchair as my back has well and truly cried enough after a day of exertion. Now I am no stranger to hard graft, in fact I regularly recognise when someone is working  but to don my gloves and get stuck in had to be for a very good reason. The good reason was the planned shrub clearance at Park Lime Pits in our first assault on the grimy perverts that seem to want to frequent our local beauty spot.

There was a very good turnout, over a dozen of gently persuaded individuals, expertly guided by Morgan  from Walsall Countryside Services. The plan was to open out the areas in the car park where the trees and brambles were providing a little too much cover for illegal activity. It looked like a massive task but the saying about many hands rang true. Bit by bit the area was tidied and pruned, cleared and chopped. The pile of discarded shrubbage was later used to make a two metre high hurdle blocking access from the car park to another of the ASB sites. Four hours of graft was well worth it as not only have we destroyed a pervert den but we have made access to another a little more difficult. Within the week Walsall Countryside services will be removing the cover for another of the dens, driving them ever deeper and further from the pathways. We appeared to be providing entertainment for would be cottagers as a number continually drove to the entrance of the car park before performing a three point turn and returning from whence they came. At one point we were joined by the Police who have been fantastic in their patrolling of the area, watching the calm panic of the perverts as they scarpered.

The last few times we have visited in the day time to monitor the car park we have felt very uneasy at the obvious reasons of some of the visitors, this time it was their turn to feel uneasy, it felt good to get a little revenge. No doubt they will be most annoyed that we have taken action to regain the Lime Pits but I worry how permanent this victory will be. The Council has announced swingeing cuts to the budget for next year leading to a wholesale renege on all non essential services in the years to come. Out of the £2m of cuts they have chosen to publish, leaving I believe another £11m of hidden cuts, £400k is from the Parks and Open spaces budget. It doesn’t take any imagination to realise that the upkeep of Park Lime Pits and mostly all of Walsall’s beauty spots will suffer. Not only will we lose the resources but also the expertise. It is particularly naive of those in decision making positions to believe that essential maintenance and improvement schemes can be left to “Friends ” groups, as for the large part we are enthusiastic but without guidance we are powerless. Without the expertise, these groups will fail and the areas of beauty will be reclaimed by nature and by those that wish to abuse  and once lost, getting them back will be nigh on impossible. As I write I am boiling inside at the myopic stance on budgetary restraints. The Rangers I have met give far more than they demand, they work unpaid on many projects demanding their guidance, the volunteer not because of a sense of duty but because they care, they care about legacy and they care about the bit of the world they can influence. Finding people to perform as they do is another impossibility, to undervalue their worth is frankly, pathetic.

I wonder about the backbone and the commitment of these elected representatives. Recently a lobby has been made to raise their awareness, the response has been unworthy of the time taken or the gravity of the problem they are creating. Leisure and Open spaces shouldn’t be an easy target. In fact should any of our services be a target? If the budget requirements cannot be met without destroying society, then surely a stance should be made against those that set these budgets. The council appear scared to raise the community charge for fear of a referendum and yet when you cannot trust your elected representatives to defend your rights then the decision process must be returned to the people. I voted in the expectation that the democratically elected representative would represent, make the tough decisions, do what is right. If they aren’t doing that, what are they there for?  And if they aren’t going to do anything at least give a response as to why when asked.

Just in case there is any misunderstanding. I believe we owe it to ourselves and future generations to resist in the strongest possible terms, long term damage to our countryside. Ill conceived short term gains will result in far greater losses. Losses that we should not stand for and those that represent us need to understand the depth of feeling. I urge anyone in a position to do so to contact their Councillors to exert pressure to turn this around.


A reblog of the Hippo

The Hippo hits the spot again

The Plastic Hippo

“No short-haired, yellow-bellied, son of tricky dicky is gonna mother hubbard soft soap me with just a pocketful of soap. Money for dope. Money for rope.”

David Laws, you might remember, was the Liberal Democrat credited with forming the economic bits of the coalition agreement that has resulted in the remarkable success of economic recovery. Sadly, Mr Laws was caught embezzling public money and rather than going to prison, was punished with a week off work and two years on the naughty step. Happily, he is back and is now a minister in the Department for Education. The former merchant banker and fraudster is now in a position to lecture teachers who fail to inspire their students. It seems that Laws thinks that teachers are holding back children leaving them with “depressingly low expectations”. One assumes that David Laws, having offered the defence of a desire to conceal his sexual…

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For the second time in 4 days I was in Leicestershire and for the first time in ages the car behaved all day. After hours of searching the internet forums for the answer to this vehicular conundrum the answer to my problems have been narrowed down to buying a Vauxhall. At some point but not tomorrow or Thursday and not Wednesday morning and probably not Thursday, Friday or the weekend as I still haven’t been informed what I am working this week, I will be taking a look at the thermostat and the temperature sender as the problem seems to be occurring on the days where we are subjected to the briskest of weather. The oil level in the sump is over the full mark, whilst I am aware of what this could be, I am hoping this is just another example of the garage’s incompetence as I haven’t actually checked it since the service was carried out but either way, it won’t be aiding the engine turning over.

As for the second trip to Leicester, I spoke with the lovely people at Charnwood  who manufacture my table saw, mentioning I sort of needed to go to Quorn and would it be all right to drop the saw off. They said it would be fine and when we arrived they took the saw in the back, emerged a minute later and said it would be fixed by 2.30. With 3 hours to kill we went over to Merlin Archery to return the bow I borrowed and let Connor have a bit of a practise. He had been eyeing the redundant release aid most of last night and so I thought it would be an opportunity to give it a go.  We whiled away a fair bit of time getting some bad habits cured and the mechanics of shooting a release explained. Connor seemed to take very well to shooting with it and even finished off shooting at 50 yards with pretty astonishing results. I have tried to explain that it is the most competitive class in archery and he would be going up against the best in the world but with the naivety and enthusiasm inly the young can apply he seemed fine with it. I expect the reality will strike home eventually but there is no harm in him having a go, he might just be right.

I had a look at various bits of recurve archery bling as it has been two decades since I last checked it out in anger. Not much has changed in reality. Not much can change in something that has already been in development for thousands of years. There is a higher use of composites but at the same time, the advent of computer controlled machining equipment means that even the more basic items are manufactured to tighter tolerances. Separating the fact from fiction and just getting a feel for things, it was difficult to see exactly how much difference a lot of money makes. Faced with the reality that I am already seriously disadvantaged with disability, I don’t think I will be buying many extra points by going with the latest all singing and dancing equipment as I would have prior to the accident. With this settled in my mind I am now happy to look out for reasonably priced older stuff and if by some miracle it does work for me I can make further assessment. No matter what I see a lifeline that I wasn’t seeing before and with the nice and warm indoor season approaching, it has all been timed well too.

Tomorrow we are off to the Lime Pits to do some scrub clearing in the hope it discourages the perverts from using the local beauty spot as a meeting point. I will have a freshly sharpened machete just in case anything needs chopping down, or off, as the case may be.

Cutting services doesn’t help anyone. How about cutting the Mayor and his office?

The Bloxwich Telegraph - incorporating The Bloxidge Tallygraph and Walsall North News. Founded 2006.

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Local Labour Party councillors are calling for Walsall Council’s coalition cabinet to spell out the consequences of the biggest round of cuts in the borough’s history. The call comes as the council announced a consultation on government plans to cut £70 million over four years from Walsall Council’s budget which will lead to the dismemberment of frontline services, according to a Walsall Council Labour Group press release.

Services people rely on a daily basis from parks to public toilets, from education to social care, are facing cutbacks in a round of swingeing cuts which will take £13 million out of council services next year alone, say the group.

Responding to the proposed budget by the council’s Conservative/ Lib Dem coalition cabinet Labour councillors are warning that everyone living in Walsall will be affected by the wholesale cutbacks.

Leader of the Council’s Labour Group, Councillor Tim Oliver, said:

“We fear that over the next four…

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Not only did the car not start again and require bumping twice today, my table saw also joined the ranks of the not working. The Jafro boy was hard at work making a bird table for his Grandmother when it tried acting up. The motor has started making very unpleasant noises and my first reaction to take it apart was overruled by a nagging little voice that it was four months old and really shouldn’t be going under my screwdriver. So it now sits waiting for the company to open tomorrow so I can discuss the plan of action.

The car and the saw weren’t the only things to pack in as the dyson repurposed shop vac also stopped sucking which was most annoying as I don’t really ask too much of it. I am getting increasingly fed up with modern technology which might as well be sold with a use by date on it such is the brevity of its’ operational life.

With nothing much else to do we were given an invite to an archery club members house to visit his workshop. I am in awe of the brilliance of someone who can convert a normal milling machine into a 4 axis cnc  device. In every corner of his workshop was something equally ingenious . He appears to be able to turn his hand to anything and his pure artistry makes me realise the gulf between a real workshopper and a bumbling fool like myself. However I did return with an offer to machine the parts that need making for project boo bike. It is a very kind offer as it is obvious his time is very valuable and the parts I need are difficult to obtain. Of course, if much more of my machinery breaks down it will be a non starter.

And that sums up the day, as the workshop was closed early and it was a grim miserable and annoying day, I settled back to enjoy a Resident Evil DVD. Nothing like a little Zombie slaying to cheer me up. Tomorrow I may, or may not be going over to Leicestershire with a bandsaw and another excuse to go to Merlin to lust over bows.


If I was (were?) to start this blog with the sentence. “I couldn’t get my car to start” you might wonder if you were reading an earlier post.  Sadly this wouldn’t be the case.

This was the headline from yesterday. You should recall that I changed the glow plugs and that good things would begin to happen. Sadly this was only half true. The car did indeed start and start very quickly first thing this morning. However after an ninety minutes at the archery club it just wouldn’t have it. Fortunately there were some kind souls who helped bump the thing off. If it wasn’t for extreme and continued financial embarrassment I would teach it a thing or two about mocking me and making life awkward.

On the bright side, not even the car could dampen my spirits after visiting the club. Last night I discussed my worries about shooting a bow right handed with Linda. I had spent such a great amount of time making straps and trying different combinations to make the compound work that I  had pretty much convinced myself it was a none starter. For the benefit of those not in the know about bow mechanics, on a recurve bow, you start to draw the string and the pressure increases the further you draw back. With a compound bow, the  higher effort is required at the start of the draw and the pressure lets off due to a cam system that works like a block and tackle.  The effort at the start was manageable but caused my duff arm to move with the bow, I would then have to reset my draw hand back to where it started. Archery is all about repetition and my concerns were that this technique wouldn’t easily be repeated and that I could do some damage trying to adjust my arm under tension time and time again.  Linda was very reassuring, that I could make it happen and that it would be ok. I was less convinced but determined nonetheless.

It didn’t take  very long in the freezing weather to confirm my fears. Trying to push the bow away from my face requires an almost completely extended tricep to try and contract, far from ideal  as the initial bump of pressure to get things moving was enough to unseat the arrow from the rest.  Attempts to perform the draw quicker only  resulted in my draw hand ending up further from my face and the arrow falling off the rest. When I did get the shot off it was ok but the success ratio was about 1 shot to 10 attempts. Very tiring and equally so for those having to wait for me to shoot.  There was another side effect I hadn’t realised, the draw hand  seated very low on my face, this is called the reference point. The reference point for a compound ideally occurs around the corner of the mouth. My reference point was under the jaw bone, trying to get higher just wouldn’t happen for me.  Below the jaw is the accepted reference point for shooting freestyle (olympic) recurve.

As I considered the results of my efforts, the power bump at the front end of the draw, the reference point too low, the muscular  requirements the wrong way round it became obvious that a recurve bow might be the thing to try. A few minutes later I was out in the perishing cold with a club recurve and three borrowed arrows. From the very first draw it was apparent that this was the only way. I could easily draw and settle on the shot. My elbow wasn’t under any real tension or in any pain at all. There didn’t appear to be any downsides, I had indeed found a way.

One of the club elders has kindly offered to loan a freestyle set up to me so that I can test it out further before committing to buying another bow set up and for the first time since the accident I am actually excited at the prospect. It has been two decades since I last shot freestyle , I wonder if I will be as good as I think I was . My legendary ability may well be tested in reality again.