Thursday, 29 November 2007

Home Sweet Home

We've been back home now for about a week and a half and hit the ground running. Two fabulous full-on Thanksgiving blow outs, a couple days of nose-to-the-grindstone-take-advantage-of-the-good-weather yard clean up, a short visit from Robin's parents, sink purchase for the kitchen remodel, practice work with the new countertop material, MAJOR dustbunny eradication program in the house, several Mt Rainier-sized piles of laundry, family time, sorting through 3 months of mail (holy CR*P there was a lot of paper wasted for the recent election!), and various other sundry activities all pointing to the very happy fact that we are HOME!

Braving the predicted freezing weather we'll be leading the SIR "meet the teams ride" on Saturday. Check out more info on the SIR website (linked to the main blog page).

On Wednesday next week my mom goes in for major heart surgery. All prayers, good vibes, and pagan rituals on her behalf are appreciated. It'll be a long recovery but I and my siblings have a time-tested strong tag team to hopefully provide all the support and help needed for mom and dad. There outta be some pay off for raising 7 kids right?

Hope to get a few more pics from England posted soon.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Coming Home update

The test that Robin is on is finishing up early so he gets to come home with me on Monday - yippey!

I've been meaning to do a very witty post about some observations on a couple of things but just can't seem to get enthused for it. I think this ankle/foot injury is getting me down. I'll be seeing the orthopedic doc the day after we get home so hopefully he'll get me straightened out! See y'all stateside!

Monday, 12 November 2007

Winding down in England

I'll be heading home in a week and Robin will follow whenever the test is finished here (supposedly before Thanksgiving!). We are both ready to be home. I do always enjoy our trips here and the great opportunity to see new things and experience a different culture more intimately than as a tourist but home is home and I am missing mine. It is harder to stay current with friends and family than I had imagined it would be even with phone calls and emails - I really feel out of the loop.

Catching up on our activities here: One night I answered the door to a guy from a farm in Devon who co
mes around every few months selling meats and goods from the farm. I wasn't in need of anything but he was quite the talker and he ran through about a dozen different topics in the 10 minutes he was here. One thing that stuck in my head was his mention of a museum that is preserving examples of English homes from various periods. A little searching uncovered the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum just about an hour's drive from us. On Sunday 11/4 we hit the road to find it. The museum consists of 45 homes dating from the 13th to the 19th centuries that have been rescued from demolition and rebuilt on museum land. It is spread out over tens of acres in beautiful rolling countryside. The museum also conducts various demonstrations and courses on traditional crafts, trades, and everyday skills. When we showed up a man just ahead of us handed us a coupon from a local paper allowing one free entry. Great! Then even better the man at the reception desk just put both our names on the coupon and let us both in free. Gotta love it - a great day out and free to boot. We didn't even get to spend money in the shop because we wandered around until after the museum was officially closed and it was all buttoned up.

Nice horsey

Now that's a pizza oven!

On Saturday Nov 10 Robin got the ball rolling by suggesting we drive to Brighton to see what it has to offer. Brighton is
on the south coast and is a huge resort area in the summer time. There were still plenty of people on a bright sunny day in November. We walked west along the beach enjoying all the different activities and sights. Juggling, skateboarding, dogs playing, bicyling, kite flying, surfing, jogging, and above all - ice cream eating! We walked a couple of miles and my ankle/foot started aching (yes, that is on the list of things to sort out when I get home) so we turned around and got back to Brighton Pier as the sun was setting and all the lights were coming on. Our 2006 Rough Guide (published in 2004) indicated that the West Pier was to be renovated by 2006 but those plans had obviously been foiled and, in fact, damage from a couple of severe storms seemed to put that dream out of reach. The remains of the pier and what appeared to be a dome lay charred and twisted in the water - very cool looking I thought.

Taking in the fresh sea air at Brighton

Amy at West Pier


Thursday, 8 November 2007

How to Contribute to Reward Fund for Cyclist Shooting

Thanks to Tim Hennings the reward fund for finding and convicting the criminals that shot Peter McKay is a reality. Please join us in making a contribution to the fund. Here is a copy of the email Tim sent to the SIR mail list on Wednesday, Nov 7 with all the details:

Hello generous cyclists! Shan reports that we're over $5,000 for the reward
fund, and the pledges are still coming in. Not bad at all for 48 hours and
our modest sized group. Just imagine if we really tried to get the word out
to cyclists far and wide.

Back to the mechanics of this reward thing: The problem we've had this week
is that the two principal leaders of the local Crimestoppers who would
normally handle a special reward such as this are at a conference out of the
country. But we are now set to go despite that setback. Special thanks to
Leticia at Crimestoppers who took hours out of her day off to help us out.

I've been in touch with the person at Bank of America (First Hill
branch) who normally handles these reward accounts with Crimestoppers. We
are initially setting up the BofA account with the $1,000 contributors. That
should be in place Thursday morning. The rest of us contributors should send
checks to BAW, per Kent's offer, as follows:

- Payable to the Bicycle Alliance of Washington (NOT to the BofA
- Mailed to this address: BAW, PO Box 2904, Seattle, WA 98111
- You can also pay via PayPal <> (pay to
- Either way, the amount should be noted as being for the
"Crimestoppers - Cyclist Shooting Reward".

*Please do this within the next day or two.* Kent will then make a single
deposit to the account at Bank of America. (Sorry - it is not possible for
all of us to make our deposits directly to the account at BoA; that would be
a much more complex set up process and has other disadvantages.)

Mark Thomas is handling the account setup. We all know and trust him (well,
sort of...) so he will be the signatory on the account (not me!). We have
yet to work out the details of reimbursement if the reward is not collected.
We have to wait for the Crimestopper people to get back in town, and meet
with them and the BoA exec. There will be a time limit, say 12 or 18 months.
We should not expect 100% reiimbursement of course, because there are going
to be some transaction fees in all this.
Leticia at Crimestoppers has promised to make the posters tomorrow. Bill
Dussler, who lives in Burien near where the shooting took place, has offered
to put up the posters in that area if he gets them before Friday afternoon.
So if everything goes like clockwork, we'll have posters up announcing the
reward almost exactly one week after this awful incident took place.

I will ask Leticia what the normal process is for contacting the media about
spreading the word. Depending on the quality of the Crimestopper poster, we
might also want to design our own poster and distribute it throughout
western Washington. I think we all agree that we are aiming higher than
nailing Peter's assailants. We want everyone in the region to know that
cyclists are taking this incident very, very seriously. Who knows, maybe
we'll even have some impact on the crazies who throw bottles at us from fast
moving cars. If this works, maybe one day we should work with Crimestoppers
to set up a standing reward for information about attacks on cyclists.

Please let me know if you have any questions or ideas. And huge thanks to
everyone for their pledges! Peter - hope you get well soon and you're not
too appalled by all this activity!

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

A ride through the falling leaves AND a reward fund

I blogged a few days ago about the assault on my friend Peter while riding his bike. There have been some newspaper articles and tv news spots about it (which Peter has handled with laudable grace) and a lot of chat on cycling message boards and email lists. On the SIR list people have started making pledges ranging from $50 to $1000 to create a reward for information leading to a conviction of the shooter. Details are being arranged and the vehicle for collecting pledges and advertising the reward is still being worked out. Once they are I will publicize it here in my blog so if you want to be involved stay tuned - at last count pledges totaled over $2100.

Cycling today on the other side of the Atlantic was superb! A chilly but bright morning lived up to the weather forecasters' predictions so we layered up and headed out. Robin has been uncharacteristically unmotivated to do any road riding so I have enjoyed the position of getting us out the door and deciding on the route. Today we headed south through North Camp and Aldershot and then southeast through the villages of Tongham, Seale, and Puttenham. Winding sun dappled lanes were the order of the day featuring crunchy orange and golden leaves under the wheels and more blowing down from the trees providing a soft (and dry!) autumn shower. Past Puttenham Common we turned west through Sands and Runfold then north again back through Tongham, Ash, Ash Vale, and Frimley to return to the Lodge and lunch. Lovely!

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Bonfire Night

Bonfire Night is fast approaching here in the UK. Actually, it seems to be more of a Bonfire Month as fireworks have been going off regularly for over 2 weeks. One might reasonably ask "what the heck is Bonfire Night?" and as I am a reasonable person (its my blog - I can make any claim I want!) I did indeed ask the question. It is a commemoration of the Gunpowder Plot which was foiled on November 5, 1605. In a nutshell the plot was to blow up parliament with the King (James I) present in hopes of ending repression of the Catholic faith. If you want more detail see:

Guy Fawkes was a member of the plot and was caught red-handed in the cellar with the gunpowder. That's when the REAL fun starts British style. After "due process" Guy, and some of his co-conspirators were found guilty of treason and sentenced with the ever-popular "hanged, quartered, and drawn" treatment. Do your own research on this if you like - it is gruesome.

Bonfire Night (which much like many holidays and commemorations in the US is basically an excuse to party and blow stuff up) traditionally consists of parading through the streets with an effigy of Guy Fawkes followed by throwing the effigy on a huge bonfire. Entertainment for the whole family - including traditional bonfire foods!

On Saturday night Robin and I decided to head to nearby Farnham for their celebration so we could experience the spectacle in person. Of course it wasn't on the actual night and Farnham went with the fireworks show rather than the bonfire but that seems to be a popular substitute. We gathered with several hundred (thousands?) others near the town centre. Big wax torches were available for sale along with various neon glowy things. The torches were impressive - about an inch and a half thick and 18 inches long - they put out a good flame. With loads of people carrying them the heat and light were amazing. Following a pipe band (bag pipes that is) we paraded through town and up to Farnham Castle. Going up the hill was really cool cause you could see a wall of people and torches both ahead and behind. We hadn't bought tickets for the fireworks so we turned around and headed back into town. Now if there'd been a good old fashioned effigy burning on the agenda I would have been all over it but didn't feel like shelling out for a fireworks show. Still hoping that between now and the 5th I'll get to witness the "real McCoy". My part in the spectacle was along the lines of honoring the revolutionary spirit and throwing off the bonds of repression. Vive la revolution!

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Hate Crimes Against Cyclists

I was going to blog today about being bored and grumpy because I didn't allow proper time for my twisted ankle to heal up and I've been resting and elevating it for the 3rd day. As I logged on to my pc however I found out that my good buddy, Peter McKay, was SHOT with bb's while commuting home from work on his bicycle. Peter was injured but appears to be okay. You can read Peter's account here:

I am so very sad, angry, disgusted, upset, and frightened by this crime. I guess it is a good thing that I cannot understand the mind that would view this action as acceptable (and perhaps even FUN???). It will not keep me off my bike but it will add a new dimension to the cascade of emotions I experience when cycling, especially when motorists act agressively towards me.

I've had several British cyclists comment about how bad it is to cycle in England - the drivers are dangerous and don't cooperate with cyclists. It may be their perception when compared to the superb treatment of cyclists in France but I do set them straight - compared to the US, cyclists here in England have it made. And my experience is cycling on the West Coast which is recognized as much more cyclist friendly than the rest of the nation.

I am thankful my pal Peter is going to be okay and my thoughts are with him and his family. Peter has served as my stoker on the tandem a couple of times and we have a date for Dec 1 so fingers crossed this will not hold him down for long. To all the other cyclists out there - keep on pedaling, be safe, be legal, be seen, and don't let the turkeys get you down. In the words of Rodney King "Can we all get along?" "We're all stuck here for a while. Let's try and work it out."