Monthly archive

Haven’t you got better things to do?

Photo love story in pictures!

Well it was a super sunny day so I decided to go for a bikleventure to the Lee Valley Park, looking for a shag! That joke does not work really of course, as cormorants are not exactly the same as shags, unless you believe lying poet Christopher Isherwood. But they do have cormorants there as I saw one last time I went.

This is going over the bridge where the North Circular crosses the tube line. That is a tube train full of Finchley Centralians rushing towards London! And some restful green fields next to the allotmints. Finchley is very green in general. Except for the high street outside the Chicken Spot on a Friday evening when it is the colour of teenagers’ sick.

Unfortunately before I had got very far I realised my tyres were a little bit flat. Not super flat, but about half inflated, so I thought I would top them up with my little pump that I carry with me. Memo to self: figure out how to work your little pump before you need to use it in earnest. As otherwise you will get confused about how to attach it and end up just letting all the remaining air out of the tyre and not be able to pump it up again. So if you were driving along the North Circular this Sunday and saw a cross fat man swearing into a bicycle pump, that is why.

I figured it out in the end, but I still popped home again to pump the tyres up properly with the foot pump, as I am too feeble to inflate them to 50,000 atmospheres using only my stick-like arms. This is crossing the footbridge near Friern Bridge Retail Park, where they have a Halfords and a McDonalds and all manner of other wild and exotick forbidden delights. I was awful glad I was not stuck in a car in the permanent traffic jam at Bounds Green Road (now in its 24th year!).

I wonder what was going through the minds of the people who designed these flats in Edmonton Green. It was probably something like ‘How should we design some modern, attractive, and delightful housing? I know! Let’s build a huge grey oppressive forbidding concrete fortress!’

Huzzah! I am at the Lee Navigation, at Pickett’s Lock. It is really nice as there is a big park that runs all along the canal and next to the great reservoirs. It is an industrial area of London so there are not many people, which is great for birds, as when you get birds and people together, the birds tend to end up in pies. I did not see a cormorant in fact, which is a shame, but I did see a lot of lovely coots. I quite like coots though, and I have formed my own special Coot Club, like in the Arthur Ransome stories, except there is only me in it. And some coots.

There are lots of intresting spots where people gather in their boats to fish, sunbathe, gossip, and deteckt German spies, a bit like in The Riddle of the Sands only with less war. I would like to live on a canal boat in fact, as it is quite a relaxing lifestyle, and if you do not like your neighbours you can just move somewhere else. Of course there is always the lurking worry that you might forget to do up the ropes properly or something and wake up in the middle of the North Sea, about to be run over by an oil tanker.

I stopped for a mini picknick just near Enfield Island Village and there was a field with some tiny horses in! This is a tiny horse that came up to say hello, and eat some of my chicken while I was not looking.

So it was a super day out on the canal, it was about 30 miles ride in all, what with flat tyres and such. I am a bit tired now but not too bad. In closing here is a picture of some cheery folk, probably German spies, in their pretty canal boat. Note the man driving it and his ridickulous tricorn hat.

Do you want to see the space station

Not everyone knows that you can see the International Space Station if you just know when to look. You do not need a telescope either. Although the station is about 200 miles up, it is quite easy to see because firstly it is enormous, and secondly it has lots of reflective solar panels. It will be a very bright point crossing the sky in a matter of a couple of minutes; you might mistake it for an aircraft except that it does not flash.

You can get predictions for bright ISS passes over the next few days from the heavens-above.com ISS prediction page (you will need to put in your own location if you are not near London). There is a nice pass tonight if you are intrested, go outside at about five past nine this evening (BST) and look southwest. Look for planet Jupiter which will be the brightest star in the sky; at 21:09 ISS will appear in the west and pass fairly near to Jupiter and disappear to the south at 21:14. You will need to check your watch so as to get the time right! This actually is rocket science.

It might look a bit like this (picture from APOD):

You will need the following essential astronomical equipmint:

  • A jumper. Mine is a nice soft woolly brown one. Yours should be similar to this except for the colour, do not copy or try to imitate keithlard. He is indestructible.
  • Some beer. Bottled beers are best as it is not so easy to spill them by mistake as you crane your neck looking at stars.
  • At least one eye. Obviously two are best, especially for not tripping over or bumping into things in the car park, but I do not want to discriminate against people with only one eye, or pirates. It is still possible to enjoy alco-stronomy.
  • (Optional) a monocle. This is a badge of recognition which means you are a serious scientist and not just someone hanging about furtively in the car park outside my flat.

It is extra exciting at the moment as shuttle Endeavour is docked with ISS, on a mission to bring the space station crew vital supplies of biscuits and fizzy pop, and if you have got really good eyesight you may see the space shuttle getting a ticket from an over enthusiastic space traffic warden. Having said that it is forecast to be cloudy tonight so you might see nothing at all. In this eventuality you should drink the beer and return to your homes in an orderly fashion, tutting about the British weather.

Area man discovers satellites, meteors, beer

I conduckted some astronomical observations last night eg sitting in my back yard with a dunkel weissbier (that is posh beer if you do not know) and looking at Perseus. I thought it might be quite a while before I saw any meteors as I was out on Saturday night looking and did not see anything, but then it was only for about ten minutes. However it was only a minute or two before a vivid, unmistakable streak flashed over my head and I went ‘Oooooh!’

Then there were streaks in all directions, one about every two or three minutes, of different lengths and speeds, most of them radiating from Perseus but one or two going almost backwards! One went quite slowly from south or north burning fiercely and then winked out somewhere near Polaris. Just when I’d start getting a crick in the neck and thinking it was time for me to go in, there would be a fierce streak like the trail of a firework rocket and I would be all ‘Aaaaah!’ again and stay a bit longer.

It is amazing to think that each of those flashes is a tiny grain of dust hitting the atmosphere and flashing into vapour about 50 miles up, roughly the orbit of the Space Shuttle. To be so bright from the ground they must be bright indeed from orbit. They may only be tiny left over bits of comet, but they are travelling at around 30 miles a second, or faster than a Vauxhall Vectra. To be more precise, the dust grains are virtually stationary; we are hitting them at 30 miles a second, which is a sobering thought. This is why you need beer.

I also saw a couple of satellites, one very bright and arcing lazily through Cassiopæia towards Pegasus. I thought it would be intresting to look it up on heavens-above.com which will identify or predict any satellite for you, even the secret ones. It turned out I saw Lacrosse 4, a US spy satellite! The American governmint probably has my DNA or something now. I am expecting a knock at the door any minute and Tommy Lee Jones will flash a special torch in my eyes and I will…

That’s funny. What was I saying?

The space between things

Well I have been dusting off the old guitar. Quite a lot of dust came out of the ceiling as well due to me getting lyverbyrd’s effects processor to work. It needed some batteries (you would never know I am tecknical).

This is a cheerful little song I invented especially for k.s. who gave me the title! Sorry I did not have time to make an accompanying video.

Sacked chimney sweep pumps boss full of mayonnaise

Yes you can sit back (not too far as it is bad posture) and enjoy more whimsical musings, bons mots and quixotic marginalia from London’s favourite diary written by a fat man in his middle thirties whose capacity for genuine emotion has long since been eroded by bitter circumstance and replaced with a fervid lust for Kettle Chips.

Well it was a super weekend, it was sunshine and Gas Mark 7 outside, so I did lots of bikling through sun-dappled woods seeing butterflies, gardening with my friend Jane, resting in simple communion with Nature by the banks of a crystal stream, and eating four times my own weight in barbecue chicken! I also made a bonfire which is nice in an atavistic way, if I was teleported back to prehistorick times I would be jolly useful in terms of lighting fires, butchering small animals such as a Thompson’s gazelle, and knowing how to mine and smelt metals. Actually not that last one. Or the gazelle.

Then on Monday I had a nice evening out and had quite a few glasses of quite a few drinks, and forgot to eat curry. That concludes today’s keithlard news, and now the weather!