Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Et al

Like the economy (moron that later) this blog is gone downhill in the last few years. I'm aware I've made that observation before so it's probably just me that's gone downhill. I recommend some of the 2007 entries if you can be bothered clicking that far back. And if you go right back to 2004, you can actually see the big bang.


I have done little cycling in the last week but lots and lots of walking with L down in the lovely Exmoor, home of fierce beasts such as ponies. Amazingly it didn't rain much, except on the day that we decided to do an 18 mile trek from Porlock to Culbone church (tiny and about 900 years old) to Malmesmead (Lorna Doone country, even though I thought she was American) to Lynmouth via Watersmeet, a very enjoyable riverside walk despite the damp. One of these days I'll buy another camera to show how beautiful everything is.

We also went to Clovelly, not the one in Sydney, the other one. It's a privately owned village built on the edge of the sea which used to be more of a fishing town. It looks amazing. Its main claim to fame is a long and very steep cobbled street that runs down the centre. And Charles Kingsley, donkeys and sleds that are used to transport stuff like stale bread and genuine west country tinned crab for ridiculously priced sandwiches. The main thing that was lacking was ice cream, despite various hints and promises. The closest we came was an ice cream stall with no-one manning it. October is not really the time of year but it was disappointing nonetheless.

On the flip side, the walk we did on the last day from Porlock to Hawkcombe Head and a bit further was more than pleasant. Firstly the clear blue skies, secondly the ancient green of the moss covered oaks in the valley as we wended (wound?) our way up, and thirdly the mutton pie and mash at the Culbone Inn at the top. They do really really good food. It's a bugger to get up there on your bike though, either from Porlock or Lynmouth, although it can be done.

Speaking of food, Liz created a floating island pudding for me, which she promised me two years ago if I ever won the BBAR or the Rudy Project series. Incentive or what?!? It's poached meringues with custard and caramel, all made from first principles. Very sweet and very yum. If she can ever get uninjured again and do another Ironman I will reciprocate. Unfortunately that doesn't look likely any time soon.


After reading The Rider by Tim KrabbĂ©, the best book ever written about a bicycle race, I figured he could write so I bought The Vanishing on a whim for £7. This has been made into a couple of feature films so it must have something going for it. And while it's not a bad read, it's a little brief at 115 pages in biggish type (I read it in an afternoon), so I guess more of a long short story than a full length novel. I'd liked to have gotten to know the characters a bit better, like in The Rider, but there wasn't enough time. That meant their actions lacked a bit of justification. Also the mystery of what happened was obvious very early on. I know the book was more about exploring the obsession of the main characters but I reckon KrabbĂ© missed a trick by not fleshing it out a bit.

I'm most of the way through the Stephen Fry Chronicles, written by the man himself. Interesting, especially as you get into it. His style (tres verbose) means it's not easy reading at first but you get used to it. And what's written is engaging, revealing and not pompous. He charts his progress from naughty boyhood through to becoming a comic actor/presenter/modern day Oscar Wilde/living treasure. There's a fair bit of self loathing in there, which because of the language doesn't hit as hard as it should, but it's certainly meant to. That's contrasted and no doubt increased by his desire to be loved by everyone and not to be hated. Fame and a thin skin don't sit well together. There's plenty of other good stuff in the book as well.

Stupid economy

So the world is in debt up to its eyeballs with the exception of China and possibly a few other lesser countries. I know the debt/credit thing is meant to be a zero sum game but to me it doesn't add up and it seems the whole thing is like trying to pull yourself up in a bucket.

That means I have very little idea of what's going on. That doesn't disqualify me from having opinions on the matter, they're just not very informed ones:

1) I blame the banks and the various governments for not keeping the banks in line. Greed will out if we let it.

2) Things have to be allowed to fail (which is hard) or the problem gets worse. You can't pull yourself out of debt by creating more. Read this Spiegel interview with Slovakia's Richard Sulik about how this works and to how save the Euro, if that matters. He speaks too much sense to be a politician.

3) How financial markets behave is grossly overrated as a "problem". Who cares? Just make stuff people want to buy and don't get too far ahead of yourself with futures and derivatives and all that crapola. See point 1)

4) I still don't see how cutting government spending (ie jobs) helps an economy to grow. If people are out of work, they don't have any money to spend on the frivolities that make up modern consumerism. And expecting the private sector to take up the slack, as is the case in the UK, means that even more frivolous ways of spending money have to be created.

5) Printing money aka quantitative easing is not a solution. Just ask Zimbabwe. The UK inflation rate has jumped since the gummit did this while the economy has remained flat. Maybe that's a good thing, I dunno.

6) In the meantime the energy companies are making obscene profits while thousands of people are predicted to freeze to death this winter 'cos they can't afford their fuel bills. I think I'll start my own energy company and sell hot air to the masses. A verbal version of this blog would suffice. I will charge 12 Reichsbank marks per utterance.

Other news

My little toe has turned more or less gangrenous after I got a bit medieval on it. I've had this corn/wart on it for years and finally decided to attack it with acid and vigorous pumicing. Viola, I now have an infection as well. The doc gave me a week's worth of antibiotics and instructed me not to use the hacksaw. I will heed her wishes. For now.

The bathroom ceiling below us caved in as a result of a couple of leaky pipes en route to our bath, which seemed to give way at roughly the same time. The problem has now been rectified, save for the massive hole in the ceiling below. Even when it does get patched, I'll think twice before having a bath. There could be some unfortunate consequences. Ditto in not having one, but better the devil you know eh?


tim said...

Hi Jeff,

Great blog.

I've recently moved to Bath (Colerne) and am investigating local clubs ie Chippenham Wheelers and Bath CC. Just wondered if you had any nuggets as you seem to have been involved in both.


Jeff Jones said...

Hi Tim,

Thanks :-)

Chippenham is a great club, one of if not the biggest in the country, catering to all ages and all types of rider.

I've never been a member of Bath but I do know quite a few of them and it's a decent club as well. Some very decent time trialists and I believe they have a hard chaingang these days, plus rides suited to the more leisurely cyclist.

There's also VC Walcot (Bath based). A small but friendly club with regular rides and a few of them race.

Depends on what you're after really.

Hugh said...

Seem to remember traipsing around all those places when you were in the fetal position, and staying in places like Porlock, Lynmouth and Clovelly .
ah for the good old days!

Tejvan Pettinger said...

Maybe the blog went down because you spent more time training on the bike? You don't get competition record at 12 hours by posting updates on facebook :)

tim said...

Great thanks Jeff.

Jeff Jones said...

Pa: it's still very noice down that way. I'd go back.

Tejvan: You may be right ;-) Training does tend to sap your energy.

Good luck in the nats on Sunday - I reckon you'll medal this year.

Anonymous said...

Hope you gave the man from Porlock a piece of your mind! He's got a lot to answer for.


Jeff Jones said...

He does. Driving Coleridge mad, for starters.