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Sunday, 21 August 2011

Early Apples

First good apple of the season. "The book" says 'Ashmead's Kernal' is ready for harvest in mid-October. My experience has been late-September but this year, here we are not quite in the last week of August! They're not quite as sweet and sharp as I remember and they're about half the size. This may be due to the lack of rain although others note that this variety produces large fruit only when young. I may leave some of them for a couple of weeks although pest attacks are starting.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Camping and Child Protection

I camp at festivals several times a year. The sites are large and I'm often quite close to people I don't know. So you hear stuff, in particular, parents shouting at the kids. After a few days, a pattern starts to emerge - Little Billy is always being shouted at. He's obviously a persistently naughty boy, or is he? Sometimes it sounds more like the parents are dumping their frustrations with life on the kid and there's nothing the child can do to stop it.

As I don't have children, I find it difficult to judge what's going on - not that it's any of my business, or is it? Should I quietly take the registration number of the car and pass it to the NSPCC?

Sometimes it is my business. I was once camped next to a mother who seemed to berate her daughter loudly from morn till night. It was a bloody nuisance so eventually I waited for mum to pause for breath and let out a loud "Ewwwwwwwww!"

Worked a treat! Didn't hear a peep out of her for the rest of the festival.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Great British Eccentrics #57

I first got to know Erik a few years ago when he was going out with one of my dancing friends. An engineer by profession, a bargee by residence and a boat-builder in a very small way. I was not greatly surprised when on a trip to Sidmouth when he said he was going to launch another boat and furtively opened a carrier bag. Inside was a small yacht.

He explained that the sails were cut out from an IKEA umbrella and a network of string linking the two sail booms allowed it to tack without a rudder. A lead keel would ensure it stayed upright. Erik's email address was permanently marked on the deck with a note asking finders to let him know their location before re-launching. A previous effort had got as far as Calais in France!

So we trotted down to the sea front and held up wet fingers to gauge the wind. Initially, Erik was worried that the boat wouldn't get past the headland but then Russ turned up fresh from the ceilidh in the ford on the river Sid. (…which is another story!) As he was already soaking wet, he readily agreed to wade out into the sea and launch "Stryder" from deeper water.

It's surprising how visible a tiny bright orange sail is. Erik reckons it had got about 400m in 20 minutes before it became difficult to see.

It was headed roughly southwest towards the Atlantic but it may well flip around and head up the channel.

Later, Erik told us it was his ninth boat….
(Edit: 14Aug11, pictures from Erik)
Russ holding the yacht concealed in a carrier bag just before launchPaddy sent this "Stryder" sighting 5 miles south of Exmouth the next day

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

London Riots: Shameless steal from The Guardian

I rather liked this comment by "AllyF"

There's a widespread myth that law and order is preserved by police, politicians and other forces of authority. Not true. Never has been. If we all decide to go out and chuck a dustbin through Argos's window and help ourselves, it would take about 15 million coppers to contain it. We actually have about 150,000.

Law and order is kept by a collective acceptance of mutual goals. If, as a society, we look after each other, offer everyone a share and a stake in the common weal, maintain some semblance of a Rousseauian Social Contract, then the vast majority of people will mostly stick to the rules without ever needing to see a police officer.

When people lose that sense of being looked after, no longer feel part of society, no longer feel like they have any kind of share in any kind of collective, the ties that bind begin to be broken.

Rioting, especially the type of vandalism & looting we've seen in London, is a sure sign that the social contract is unravelling around the edges. In the days and weeks and months to come, we shall see how far it has frayed.

There are few things more dangerous to a society than a populace with nothing left to lose.

Original article and comment