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Wednesday October 18 2006

Sitting here trying to book a hotel in Amsterdam.

You would not imagine that this would be inordinately difficult, but it is proving to be so. The three things which are really screwing it up are as follows:

Firstly, I need free parking. This is because I will have the car with me in order to go to a few other places and also in order to do my shopping in Calais on the way home. Plus it enables me to cover all the eventualities by taking a vast library of background reading and stuff like that. I do not intend to be a contributor to traffic congestion or anything like that, but I do need to leave the vehicle somewhere safe and free while I patrol the Dam. Public parking is a ridiculous pain, and adds about forty quid a day to the cost of the trip. I've been towed there too, since it's not always easy to tell whether one is parked legitimately or not, and that cost me a lot of hassle and £135. Never again.

Secondly, I've found a suitable and convenient hotel with the aforementioned parking. But they're booking system is now down, so I am sat here like a lemon wondering when it will come back up. Boring boring boring. Before it crashed it seemed to intimate that I couldn't get the dates I wanted, anyway. Yesterday this was not the case. Ugh. I think I'll go and take the air for a bit...

Thirdly, it's bloody half term isn't it? People, stay at home with your kids. Please. Fearsome psychic explorers are trying to mount serious missions here...

Anyway, my companion keeps wanting to put things back a day. I am the same. I am close to just leaving the whole thing a while :(

More thrilling news soon.

Posted at 9:04 pm by Jim Woods

Monday October 16 2006

This one

is a test...

Posted at 2:53 am by Jim Woods

Sunday October 15 2006

On my way round to my mother's house tonight,

the newer of my two bicycles disintegrated. A few days ago I had to tighten up the left-hand pedal crank, as I think I reported to a breathlessly anxious public, and tonight the bloody thing fell off again. Since the only remedy is to tighten up the nut which holds the thing on, and this time the nut has dropped off and vanished, I see no future in further pissing about with it. I tightened it, it loosened up again inside a few miles. Ergo, there is little to be done. I will not buy a cheapo bicycle from Cycle King again. The thing has been a constant hassle, with its crappy plastic twist-grip shifter that kept failing, hit-and-miss gears, ropey bottom bracket needing to be adjusted every week or so and now knackered cranks. As a keen cyclist I could and would purchase a decent bike, but then some little moron, or perhaps even a larger one, would steal it. I think that I will combine the two bikes I have. This will work quite well, I reckon. The older bike requires a set of cables, a chain and two tyres as well as a handful of other things. Actually, apart from the degradation caused by necessary residence out in my courtyard, the thing is fairly sound. At least the crappy bottom bracket and cranks on the old Raleigh still work. I'll get one decent bike out of the two, and transport will be resumed. Fingers are crossed.

What saddens me is that yet again I find that a new or newish consumer durable is badly made and useless. I realize that such things as bicycles and electronic goods are relatively cheap these days, certainly when compared with years ago. But then years ago I didn't find myself constantly returning stuff or fixing it. My older cheap bike, which actually I've had for about eleven years when I think about it, has only gone through a few cables in that time. Heavy use for more than a decade, and it cost a little over a hundred quid. The newer bike cost the same, although of course ten years of inflation mean that it was a lot cheaper, but only worked properly for about three months. I don't expect a cheap bike to be light or quick, or well-equipped, or whatever. But I do expect it to work. Why is it that so much stuff these days is just plain badly made? We should be looking to reduce our consumption, after all, rather than just having to resign ourselves to replacing shoddy crap frequently on the grounds that it is the only feasible way.

Posted at 11:56 pm by Jim Woods

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