Green Street Cottage, Cam Green, Dursley, Gloucestershire

That’s the address of the house where I grew up.  In fact I was born there, at home in 1963 and lived in that house until I left home to go to university.  After I graduated I got a job elsewhere in the country and never went back.
My parents bought the house the year I was born and sold it in 1988 (at a 15,000% profit, but let’s not dwell on that!).  This year, almost 30 years after I last lived there, I was in the area and went to see if the house is still there.  It is, and the family who own it now were kind enough to invite me in and show me round.  A lot has changed from how I remember it and they asked if I had any photos of how it used to be.  I didn't think that I had, but when I sifted through my teenage photography projects I found two interesting albums.  One is from February 1982, when there was heavy snow in Gloucestershire, and the road was completely blocked.  The pictures are not that good as they were black and white developed by me and a couple of mates who didn’t have a lot of experience.  I’ve only got the negatives so I got a negative scanner and copied them.  The other is, I think, summer of 1983 when I was home for my first long university holidays.  These were mostly shot on colour slides and scanned with the same scanner.  I've also included some older b/w pictures in that album which may date back to 1981.  Follow these links to my albums:


Bridgestone Surface Cracks

Does this look right to you?
This is the front tyre on my Honda ST1100AY - that's the ABS version from 2000.  The bike had Bridgestone Battlax BT020 tyres on it when I bought it and I've kept to those tyres.  It must be on the 4th pair since I've owned the bike.  They do the job - a bit twitchy on white lines in the wet, but what isn't?  I got a bit of weave when I was riding too fast in the snow last winter, but I won't blame the tyres for that!  Except for the first pair,  I've bought the tyres from Essential Rubber as they're cheap and they seem to know what they're talking about.  They get lots of recommendations on London Biker forums, and they've been recommended by several of my colleagues who ride to work too.

But when the front tyre developed these cracks, I thought there must be something wrong.
It's only on one side of the tyre, but every single grove has a crack at the bottom of it.
So I took it back to Essential Rubber, and they had a look at it and said "Oh, Bridgestone surface cracks".  That's all it is.  Just surface cracks.  Won't get any worse they tell me.  Nothing to worry about.
I've had the tyre 10 months, and it's covered about 17,000 km, so it still owes me another 4-5,000 before I need a new one.  That'll be a few more weeks.  So if you see a white ST1100 chucked up the M11 one morning between now and the middle of November, you'll know never to trust when they tell you in the tyre shop - or Bridgestone tyres either.


Metpost Repair Stud

About 7 or 8 years ago I had a garden fence replaced.  Being short on cash, I had wooden posts set in concrete straight in the wet, wet ground.  Great for 7 or 8 years, but now they’ve rotted off, and one of them has broken off at ground level.
So how do you fix this?  Options include digging out the rotten stump and putting a new post in the concrete socket; digging out the concrete and doing the job again (with concrete posts this time!), or using a metal repair stud.  I bought one from Metpost for a few quid.  You also need something to put down inside that you can hit hard, but that’s the right size to not get stuck – Metpost can sell you one of those too – the black thing with a bit of metal round the top.

I was sceptical at first, and as I couldn’t find much on the internet about these studs I thought perhaps this might help someone.

First job is to detach the fence panels.  This is probably the trickiest part.

The post was completely rotted off at ground level.

Slip the repair stud in amongst the rotten wood that’s left in the ground

Give it a good smack with a big lump hammer until it won’t go in any further.  I was surprised how easily it went in – the metal is actually wider than the wood, and therefore shouldn’t fit in the concrete socket; but it went home easily.

Then the post goes back in the new socket

Give it a few taps to seat it.

And re-attach the fence panels.

Job done in less than an hour.  Those panels are going to need replacing too in a couple of years, but with those sheds and greenhouses on the other side there’s no risk of the neighbour’s dog getting through, so no great urgency for that one.

If you’ve got the same problem – good luck.  And if you’re putting up a new fence; do yourself a favour and use concrete posts.


Grohe Dump Valve - Epilogue

It's been a couple of years now and that cistern has been gradually leaking more and more. Eventually I took it apart to check for any more of those bubbles in the washers. And sure enough there were no less than three new bubbles. I pricked each one and squeezed out the water, but this time it didn't help. In fact it leaked even more than before.

What to do at times like this? Turn to Google! And it didn't take long to find that the replacement part is called a GROHE 43544 DISCHARGE PISTON and is available from Showers and Bathrooms Direct for the princely sum of £3.58. That would be cheap were it not for the exorbitant postage charge, but it still cost only about £10 delivered.So I took off the old one; put on the new; perfect seal first time. £10 every 5 years - why not just use a syphon like they used to in the olden days?


Clear Blue Sky

Living in Bishop's Stortford, right next to Stansted Airport, it's rare to see a fully clear blue sky.  In fact it never happens.  There are always vapour trails from the jets streaked across the sky.
But today the airport has been closed for the third day due to the volcanic dust from Iceland, and there is not a cloud in the sky.  It's a beautiful spring day, and for a change there is no noise from the aircraft and no evidence of their existence.  Just blue sky as far as the eye can see.  I took some photos, as it's probably the only time this will happen in my lifetime.  So enjoy it while it lasts.  Scheduled to open again at 01:00 tomorrow morning, and they'll more than likely allow night flying so we'll have no more peace after we go to bed tonight.
North West - clear blue sky.
Facing North.  Clear blue sky.
This is towards the west.  There would normally be a mess of vapour trails in this part of the sky.
Facing East right across the flight-path.
This view of to the South East would normally have a plane it it at any time except very early morning or after dark.  Today, just one bird!