The Self Preservation Society

The RNLI save 22 people a day on Britain’s coastlines. Today they saved three children who were caught out by the sea current in Wales.

This is a very impressive contribution to the preservation of human life. When you think about it many other organisations and public services play in an invaluable role. Aside from health professionals, the police, for example, do their bit.

Drive along a bendy road near a town in Hampshire and you will see police signs of bikes leaning in on corners saying ‘to die for?’ if the sign makes one biker question his speed on entry to a corner then its doing its job.

The same could be said for the recent youtube footage of a biker meeting his death in Norfolk – http://youtu.be/9SMTHr8p5ls. Having looked at this footage, he didnt appear to me to roll off the throttle when it was clear there was a car intending to cross over his side of the road. There has been a lot of criticism of the speed he was travelling at near a junction, but I wonder at what speed would the collision have reduced from fatal to serious? In this case I feel driver education is more valuable than rider in this particular example.

Thats why the slogan ‘Think bike, Think biker’ is such a powerful one.

This blog is for Unicef.

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Testing times

Tomorrow I will have to take a break from blogging in anticipation of preparing for a bike test. This time a bicycle with a view to getting a job as a bicycle instructor. I like cycling but not to the extent that I wear lycra, I have even had to buy a helmet in anticipation of the test. I will be expected to negotiate a busy roundabout without causing a crash and demonstrate how I would teach a 10 year old to negotiate the roundabout.

My bike is loaded with a basket and baby seat , yet the google profile image of my examiner is of a racing cyclist in style of Chris Hoy (gulp).

Exam nerves have a negative effect on me. During my motorbike test, I sailed through the gymkhana test through cones. However, on the road test I got obsessed about coming out of the parking bay at the test centre at a certain angle and tipped the bike over before I had time to negotiate the road. The examiner let me carry on once I had righted the bike and by the time we returned 40mins later, he said he would have passed me had I not tipped the bike at the beginning.

So I do not do myself any favours (needless to say I passed 2nd time).

Fingers crossed! I will report back on Thursday.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

 

Time out with Lee Evans

If you are on Youtube and happen upon some cctv footage of a man and woman changing out of their bike leathers and into normal clothes at break-neck speed by the side of a motorbike it could well be me and my husband.

When you have children and dogs, one night out without them takes some serious planning. After dropping them all off at grandparents and friends, we had 1hour and 45 minute to make a 2 hour journey o the Lee Evans performance and I hadnt organised parking. So the bike was the only option. Thank God we chose that mode of transport, because the parking next to the venue was full, so we just squeezed the bike through some bollards round the side of the venue, got changed and legged it to the entrance with a minute to spare until the show was about to start.

It is difficult to describe what makes Lee Evans so funny in writing. He manages to turn everyday occurrences into the most funny descriptions covering animals, marriage, driving, drinking and everything in-between. He notices that ‘teenagers become paralysed when you take their mobile phone away’; ‘what would happen if retrievers were used in bomb disposal units?’ and ‘why do we say ‘bye’ multiple times at the end of a conversation? He acts out each scenario in a hysterical way that is pure comedy genius. I couldnt think of a better way to take time out.

This blog is for Unicef.

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A Bed of grass

I was going to blog last night, but like some ‘vexed’ heroine from a Jane Austen novel I passed out way before my bedtime, but not on an antique chaise longue. I awoke at 1am still fully clothed and the curtains wide open letting the full moon-shine straight into the bedroom. Like a baby all put of routine, i got up, got changed managed to sleep for another hour or so and then by 3am i couldnt silence my churning thoughts any longer and retreated to a cup of tea and a good book.  I then returned to bed at 4am. As a result i feel jet-lagged, or slightly hungover but with the exotic holiday or the enjoyment of a drunken stupor, removed from the equation. I cant even turn to chocolate for a quick fix as I am on the ‘I quit sugar’ diet.

So there isnt much ‘in me’ to blog about today except my other ‘go to’ – horses.

Like many working Mums who are ‘horsey’, riding is a luxury, there is never enough time or the ‘right time’ to disappear on your own for a few hours to faff with a horse (because horses require a lot of faffing), a bit like motorbikes. So i just like to be around them (also a bit like motorbikes). I help to look after some horses near me in exchange for enjoying the odd ride. When i turned up today i notice one of the horses had a nasty case of sweet itch and a sore where his fly mask had been rubbing. So jumped at the chance to play horsey nurse (i am still about 8 really). So i get him in next to a haynet, rummage in the cupboard for lotions and potions, flick on the kettle for hot water and set to with his mane, pulling and trimming and fussing. He isnt too sure but lets me do it anyway with the odd irritated head flick every now and then, sometimes he turns his neck round me to have a cuddle. Thats what i love about horses, they all have their own unique personalities, like dogs. The key is to know how to treat them according to their sensitivities.

Like a horse i used to ride who could sense the vet had arrived even before he saw him. One time the vet turned up to give him an injection in his hock. I was in his stable and the horse was relaxed munching on hay. Then he heard a car arrive and the vet got out. The hay he was munching froze mid chomp and his ears stood up like they were on sentry duty. He was a big horse and the vet wasnt relishing the deed of inserting sedative into his neck but he managed it. As the horse got sleepy some of jis body weight started o rest on my arm but i couldnt move while the vet was injecting for fear of waking him up. There have been cases when vets have accidentally syringed themselves when a horse has moved and i didnt want that to happen.

Sadly the injection didnt work and the horse is enjoying retirement rather than motoring round the countryside, he is lucky he lives in a home where they are happy to see a horse enjoy just being a horse, hanging out in the field, without any purpose for humans accept to keep the grass down – which he does very well. I wish life was that simple – not seeking new grass, just keeping the existing grass in check.

This blog is for Unicef. Thanks for reading.

Ethical racing

Picture this. Imagine you are a racer and you are in the race that you have been building up to for years. It is one of the most challenging race-tracks in the world and of the fastest and dangerous races in the world. Regardless of this, you are in the lead half-way through and recording brilliant lap-times. Then your worst nightmare happens. As you go along the track, you see marshalls waving flags at you, so you ease off the throttle and see the reason for the flags, your brother’s smashed-up machine is lying at the side of the road and you have no idea whether your fellow racer and brother is dead or alive. You cant stop so you speed up to get to the pit-stop to get news of your brother. Suddenly race position, fuel, tyres, none of it matters if the worst has happened to your brother.

Once in the pit lane, you flip the visor up and shout the all-important question over the noise of engines and the re-fuelling. You hear them shout “He’s OK!”. The relief floods in but as you speed off down the lane you wonder what ‘OK’ means. What if they didn’t really  know and were just saying that so you stayed focus on the race? Your lap times drop as you mull it over but you soon realise there is nothing to be gained by hanging about. As Colin Mcrae said, ‘If in doubt, flat out’. You’ve done it, the race is won but the glory is not there, just the feeling that you almost lost your brother.

This was what happened yesterday to Michael Dunlop and his brother William at the Senior race of the Isle of Man TT. What I dont like to think about is what the crew would have said to Michael in the pit stop if William had died?

The skill of these riders is astonishing – makes F1 look like a Sunday leisurely drive in comparison.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Desperately seeking bikers (with boobs)

My husband has got a new helmet and pair of bike trousers. He didn’t have to change the size of his trousers, but his helmet did need to go up a size. I didn’t know that your head continues to expand into your thirties, but clearly this is the case  with my husband.

As part of his order, he was given car window stickers that read ‘Born to ride, forced to drive’. I first rode a motorbike when i was 14 and took to it like a duck to water, i wonder what could have happened if i had got into biking earlier. It certainly would have saved me a lot in fuel costs on the daily commute. I would have built up so much experience that would have helped me to ride the bigger bikes, i find them now rather intimidating because i worry if they get dropped thats it, im stuck.

Months have passed and i am stuck driving my estate, commuting on a bike now is impossible with the tiddlywinks in tow. I could go out for a ‘ride’ at the weekend but it feels wrong to be on my own when i could be with the family. Although i would enjoy it i would also feel a bit lonely riding out on my own.

I would love to have a girl friend who also rode a bike but it seems most of the female riders are lesbians, so have absolutely nothing in common with me.

Is there a biking Mum out there who is also in the same quandary. Female petrolheads keep their passion secret, particularly amongst other women. I used to stay up the small hours to watch an F1 GP live and last night was up past my bedtime watching highlights from the Isle of Man TT.

So it would be great to hear from any female bikers out there to exchange experiences and enjoy pep talks.

I am blogging every day for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

 

Today I will be mostly….

Trying not to eat and put on weight while pretending to be a baking goddess. Mary Berry I am not, so have invested in a couple of Betty Crocker kits in the vain hope that something may look both appetising and edible. It is my son’s 1st birthday party next weekend (in more ways than one as he is having 2 birthday parties – one for the wrinklies and one for his baby chums). I will have to bake my little head off this week for both parties, plus his nursery have dropped several hints about sending him in with some cupcakes so he can have a mini party there too. I do try to make good cake but it just doesn’t happen (as you will have noted in earlier posts when I improvise with ingredients). I am risky by nature and that doesn’t combine well with precision cooking.

I have also delved into the Tana Ramsay family cooking bible to make a few party snacks. however plan B is a back-up supply of Tescos frozen party food. I marvel at how women coped during the wars. Everything is so pre-packaged nowadays that I (and many others no doubt) have lost the plot as to how to cook anything from scratch. So, when we do, it is almost on the scale of a scientific experiment, using ingredients we didn’t know existed, making concoctions that look and sound as if they shouldn’t work (but somehow they do – or don’t).

Prior to the party we are all having a swim at a private swimming pool that is so warm its like stepping into a bath – perfect for babies and old people. My dad didn’t fancy taking a dip so he has said that he will do the filming. I didn’t expect him to do any filming, in fact it didnt even occur to me to arrange for a film crew to attend our swim session, but if it gives him something to do that keeps him happy then all well and good. I just dont know what the owners will think! Its just gonna have to be a case if ‘it will be alright on the night’.

Have just put the grocery order online to cater for this party and all the baking – I still marvel at the cost of food. In an effort to get the total price down the dogs have less food and I have sacrificed my yoghurts – as Tescos strapline goes ‘Every little helps’.

This afternoon I jumped on the bike and enjoyed it although I am always slightly anxious as I first hit the road – mainly because I don’t get out that often. It was a beautiful sunny day but, being November, it was fucking freezing. I had 4 layers on plus neck scarf and helmet and my teeth were still chattering. Its strange that when you feel cold you want to go faster but this made the wind chill even worse. A little shit thought it would be entertaining to overtake me in his polo despite the fact that there were at least 5 cars in front of us so his gain was tiny. His manoveur was risky and pointless so wasted no time in overtaking both him and the rest of the traffic in one squirt of the throttle with a ‘fuck you’ little wiggle as I rode past. ‘Bye Bye Baby’ – said the Bandit to the Texas County Mounty.

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Thanks for reading.