“They have went and gone and done it.”

The cycle run this morning was in drizzle rain, but summer is over so we have to adapt to the changing seasons.

Home showered, and as I flicked through the television menu, I spotted Swallows and Amazons, my all-time favourite children’s adventure film, well ‘Railway Children comes a close second. Both were made for television and show on the BBC.     

However when it started, something was very wrong with the storyline, Oh no, help ma boab, it’s a remake, they have totally spoiled it for me. My favourite children’s movie – Swallows and Amazons, why do they do that?

Swallows and Amazons is a children’s adventure novel by English author Arthur Ransome and first published on 21 July 1930 by Jonathan Cape.

At the time, Ransome had been working as a journalist with the Manchester Guardian but decided to become a full-time author rather than go abroad as a foreign correspondent. He did continue to write part-time for the Guardian, however.

The book was inspired by a summer spent by Ransome teaching the children of his friends, the Altounyans, to sail. Three of the Altounyan children’s names are adopted directly for the Walker family.  I loved the 1962 adaptation that followed closely the author’s thinking. It had all the delight of a summer holiday spent in the Lake District, set in a time between the wars, the summer of 1929 the main characters,

The crew of the Swallow

John Walker: eldest of the Walker children and Captain of the Swallow.

Susan Walker: Mate of the Swallow and the cook and domestic organizer.

Titty Walker: Able Seaman of the Swallow and most imaginative of the Walkers.

This nickname was the real-life Mavis Altounyan taken from Joseph Jacobs’s children’s story Titty Mouse and Tatty Mouse. Changed to Kitty in the 1962 television series of Swallows and Amazons, (for obvious reasons, Titty caused much tittering amounts children.)  

Roger Walker: at first Ship’s Boy, which he did not like, so was changed to Able Seaman; Roger was very fond of chocolate.

Bridget Walker: Ship’s Baby who proves to be a brave member of the crew.

The crew of Amazon,

Nancy Blackett: (real name: Ruth) — Captain of the Amazon; an enterprising leader. She is an imaginative and lively tomboy who is always willing to create fantasies and adventures. Though somewhat brash and short-tempered, she nonetheless has a heart of gold and is always quick to defend the weaker and less-confident characters in the tales.

Peggy Blackett: (real name: Margaret) — Mate of the Amazon, Nancy’s sister; although a bit timid and unassuming, she tries to live up to Nancy’s expectations

Ransome and Ernest Altounyan bought two small dinghies called Swallow and Mavis. Ransome kept Swallow until he sold it a number of years later, while Mavis remained in the Altounyan family and is now on permanent display in the Ruskin Museum. 

The first film was a delight, the children seemed real somehow, what we learned about seamanship and lines of sight were very accurate and would instantly be recognised by any seaman today. This new version was a disaster, totally out of context with the real story and the children totally out of character with the storyline of the book.

I am not a lover of remakes – they seldom work, I can think only of two that did. “Parent Trap” (Hailey Mills playing the part of the twins in the original, and so badly cast) and “A star is born” (the first was very much of its time).

Looks like some very wet cycling over the coming week, so a lot more bike maintenance, ho-hum

Stay safe. 

Toothless around North East Fife.

Today was a good day. Out on the road at 8am and not back until 1 O’clock. The clouds were high and the air cold but I enjoyed riding on this cold clear morning. Clothing is always a problem cycling, when on a 200k Audax ride you can expect to be out for around 12 hours, and the weather can change dramatically over that time especially riding in the winter months. The discipline of endurance riding such as Audax, you have to expect a bit of discomfort, it comes with the territory, since you are carrying the minimum of equipment you can get away with, especially in the wardrobe department. These days I ride in everyday clothing a warm pair of jogging pants with elasticised bottoms so they do not foul on the gears, an under layer, a woolly-pully (if required) and a lightweight outer garment, the jumper can always be removed and tied around my waist if I start to overheat. The only concession to cycling is my shoes.

Today I was riding less one of my teeth, having been over to the dental university in Dundee yesterday, where a final year student, skilfully and painlessly, removed a tooth that had been proving problematic. It is one of those months when I have a full calendar of appointments with dentists, hospital vaccination centres for flu and Covid-19 booster, and back once more to Dundee for a hearing test. My hearing is really bad now, to the point that it is cutting me off from socialising. I did go up to the doctor’s surgery to ask for them to make an appointment for me to go to the NHS hearing aid clinic in Kirkcaldy,

“The NHS does not do hearing aids now” I was told.

I was given a telephone number at a private hearing aid centre that I could call for an appointment. When I returned home I went onto the internet and looked up NHS hearing aid centres and all I found from their web site were the types of hearing aids you can get and what ones suit different degrees of deafness. So it seems as if the girl was correct: no free hearing aids from the NHS anymore.

A further search on the internet for hearing aid centres and there is an abundance of them all plying for my custom. Most do not give prices, but Boots (the chemist) has now opened a shop in St Andrews for spectacles and hearing aids (jumping on the lucrative new bandwagon), they did show average prices and they were not cheap £2,000 – £2,500,

“You can’t be serious?”

But hey you do get to pay them up – well that’s all right then, I have made an appointment for the free hearing test, find out just how bad things are, and take it from there. Privatisation creeping into the NHS by stealth, starting with the elderly, they won’t complain, they have been conditioned all their lives to accept whatever the governments tell them, and if they waver, well we will roll out the Queen to remind them about the war and the Dunkirk spirit.  

If you are in your fifties and still employed I would start Medicare insurance, for old age does not come alone – make sure it covers any eventuality for loss of hearing, spectacles, hip/knee replacement…………. They too will not be on the NHS by the time you retire the way things are going.

I always like to end on a cheery note of optimism, emmmmmm nope, can’t think of anything cheerful to say about Scotland today, unless you ride a bike.

Well, time to put the dinner on.

Keep safe 

“How can you judge a man’s life unless you have walked in his shoes”

The big story today, these crazy winds, blustery to the point of being dangerous, I did not go far but I feel all exercise is relevant. Actually, I have covered my first 1000 miles on the little bike, shipped to me on the 2nd of June 2021. Yes, I know it is only an average of around 7 miles each day, but considering some of the weather we have had, and a few weeks of downtime (under the weather) I am happy with that.

I was listening to Wade Davis today, and he said something that stuck in my head. He said

“In 9/11 Americans spent more on their lawn, than the whole tax revenue, raised by the Indian government”.

That is the power of advertising. I wonder how much of that vast sum of money was spent on “Pest Control” . Certainly, it was around this time that our small birds populations, whose survival is dependent on insects, fell off a cliff.

Davis also talked about China and how they clamped down on and free will of the people, giving Hong Kong as an example. Now I really know nothing about the everyday life of the average Chinese person in China, and maybe the freedoms we take for granted here in the west are suppressed, in China. But when I see documentaries or films from China I don’t see beggars sitting on the streets, or people sleeping rough in doorways. I have not heard how the Chinese are keeping down three jobs, yet at the end of the week, they are still unable to pay for a roof over their head, so they have to live out of their cars. I do not see the same inequality in China as I see here at home, where poverty is rampant in, what is supposed, the 6th richest country in the world.  Maybe that is the price we pay for our so-called, freedom, (for the few that can afford it) and maybe, just maybe, the people of China are happy with their lot.  

“How can you judge a man’s life unless you have walked in his shoes”

Popped into my favourite charity shop today and picked up a couple of DVDs, one I watched this afternoon, ‘The Blind Side’. The best £1.99p I have ever spent.  This is a must-see film, and even more remarkable it is based on an extraordinary true story.

Sandra Bullock gave an outstanding Oscar-winning performance as Leigh Anne Tuohy – a white, strong-minded interior designer and wife of a wealthy businessman Sean Sr. Leigh Anne is a highly intelligent and well-connected lady, who always gets her own way. Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) is a black teenager, homeless and knows only the streets of Memphis. The story is all about how both develop in this unlikely relationship.  

Burt Cotton, a friend of seventeen-year-old Michael’s father, (killed in an accident) and on whose couch mike has been sleeping, gets the Coach of Wingate Christian School to help enrol his son and Mike at the school. This is where Mike is befriended by Sean Tuohy, Junior. He is played by Jae Head and adds a lot of fun to the movie.  

What came over very strong in the storyline was the attitude of the Tuohy family to the idea of their mother taking Michael, not only into their home but under her wing, going above and beyond the call of duty to get his grades up so he could remain in school and on the football team, eventually becoming his legal guardian.   

In the end, Michael is accepted into college and says his farewells to the Tuohy family. And as the credits roll, we have information about and photographs of the real Tuohy family and Michael Oher, who went on to play in the National Football League.    

This really is my kind of movie, (paper tissues to the fore) and I’m sure it will be watched again and again – a great uplift DVD for those dull, wet and dreich days of winter, much like today.

Keep safe.

Like Paddie’s shirt, it will all come out in the wash.

It was much brighter on this morning run, there was an autumn coldness in the air but the winds were light and pleasant enough. I dropped down off the road and onto the cycle track, as I did so, this lass appeared on a bike, she was cutting the corner, so we were in line for a head-on collision,

“Hoy!” I yelled out and the response was instant,

“Ops!” The lass moved with all the grace and speed of a Tour de France cyclist changing direction. Her “Sorry” – trailing after her as she headed up the slight hill to the road I had just come down.

She was riding a sit up and beg bike, a knapsack sticking out of a basket, strapped onto the handlebars. Well wrapped up in everyday clothing, ready for any change, the weather might throw at her. Even without the dexterity that she showed on her stead, I would have clocked her for Dutch or possibly German. She would have grown up riding a bike, almost as soon as she could walk. Riding to school would have been as natural as breathing, from that very first school day, possibly accompanied by her mother, on her bike. No GP mums on the school run in Holland.

I see almost every day the school kids, from the Madras, pouring out of the tuck shop (the local supermarket on Market Street) or stuffing their faces with goodies from Greigs the bakers, little fat buggers, bussed to school and back, stuffing their faces with junk food, each and every day, and they wonder why the NHS is snowed under with young adults with preventable diseases such as diabetes, and respiratory problems.

I passed two other girls cycling into St Andrews, again they looked as if they were on their way to classes and three girls, two jogging one running; I wanted to call out to them, telling them that I had read somewhere that skipping 100 times is equal to jogging five miles.

“One, two, three a-Leary – I saw Wallace Beery, sitting on his bum-be-Leary eating chocolate soldiers – four, five, six a-Leary, seven eight, nine…………” Days of my childhood, where are they now?

As I returned back along the cycle track the low watery sun was full in my eyes so care was needed less I repeat the mistake of the young lass earlier.

I had noticed, however, that the girl running, in the opposite direction to me, her perfume, trailed in her wake long after she had passed. Now I know that this was not droplets, in the same way, that breath is – but you have to wonder, is two meters really a safe distance from a person breathing out coronavirus into the atmosphere?

Some time back a container ship blocked the Suez Canal and ships were held up for weeks unable to deliver their loads into Europe. I remember thinking at the time; some insurance company is going to be hit by a huge bill for this lot.

Today I read that the container port of Felixstowe has almost ground to a halt. Lack of drivers to take the container away, so ships can not unload. Many have been tied up for weeks, some are being diverted to Rotterdam and their containers transferred to smaller ships that can enter other ports in England. Secondary to this is the inability to return empty containers causing problems at the other end of the distribution chain. What a bloody mess this government has made of things. They had years to sort out these problems that were all predictable, as they negotiated Brexit, but then of course Trump was in power in America, so no problem about a trade deal with America, the UK would simply become America’s newest state. Oven read, trade deals around the world, NI sorted, Sea of Opportunity for our fishermen, Immigration sorted, Brexit – it is all so easy Boris sold the English a pup. What did we get? Prayer Meetings and Abbeys, come to mind.

Talking about Trump, The Cop in Glasgow is only weeks away and there is no real push to do much as far as I can see, as a wise young girl put it – Blah, blah, blah. As far as climate change is concerned China has pulled its finger out and is making big changes there, America on the other hand, well Biden seems out of his depth on this one. Now, much as I hate to say it, he might well be a one trip pony, and come election time in America we could well see Trump back in power, – what then for America’s contribution to Global Warming?  Like Paddie’s shirt, I may well, all come out in the wash.  

Stay safe.         

The words of the prophets – written on the subway walls.

The weather is dreich once more although the rain had stopped by the time I made it out onto the roads. I did a couple of perambulations of the cycle track; for even after all these years awheel, I am not comfortable on the main roads in poor light conditions. Although I do have a large winking rear light, beaming out its warning, cars get far too close for comfort, it’s a British thing, roads are for cars,

“Get off my space”.   

The days are drawing in fast now, and on grey days, it never seems to get really light. The trees are colouring fast too. Anyone who keeps bees will tell you, autumn is the time to spring feed. Beekeepers will always plant crocus in their garden, for they are the first pollinating flowers to arrive in the spring. I decided to plant crocus in the front as you come in the gate, I also wanted to plant more daffodils.

I chose the smaller variety of daffodils this time. The crocus bulbs had arrived a few days ago, so I put them aside, until yesterday afternoon when a bag of mixed daffodils bulbs was delivered. And since I am a cut-a-stick when you come to it sort of chap, I put on the gardening boots collected my tools and headed out into the garden. I simply tipped all the bulbs along with saved poppy seed pods (they may come to something) into my bucket, removed around 100 mm of soil and scattered the lot over the prepared ground. Spent some time making sure they were all in their right orientation, root plate down, and covered them over with soil, job done, and perfectly times as the rain started in earnest.

My work in the garden has starting to wind down now as winter approaches, all the autumn planting is over, the roses have been cut back to stop winter rock, only the gladioli bulbs and chrysanthemums to bring in for overwintering, but time enough for that, I will wait until the foliage has died back. 

I am more than happy with what we have achieved in the first year. Plants, brought on from seeds, then planted out, have shown remarkable growth over one season, especially the Lupines and Delphiniums; they should put on a great show next summer.

The onion and garlic beds are looking good, all have sprouted and are showing through the soil and I know will be putting down good roots for a great crop in the spring, early summer.

The rear garden has not been so successful all the care taken to bring on Wallflower and Sweet William plants from seed along with planting chrysanthemum in the raised beds, they only succeeded in providing a good meal for the young rabbits, if it’s not greenfly it’s rabbits, ho-hum.

Our best success has been the Jersey Lilies; they just keep on giving and giving clusters of beautiful pink or blue flowers.  

Sky News has spent the morning telling us how high gas prices are affecting our manufacturing industries, (it is all the fault of the Russians of course taking advantage of the high demand for gas).

Once upon a time, when the moon was still young, the UK had publicly owned gas works, electric generating power stations and a national grid for distribution of both the above. The gas works and electric power stations were feed on coal from a national coal industry and shipped around the country on a national railway. All these services worked, hand in glove, to keep the lights on and the industry running day and night. When gas deposits were found in the North Seas things would have to change, since we would no longer need to produce gas from coal. That is when Margaret Thatcher (no fairy godmother) comes into the story. She could see the opportunity to not only make lots of money for herself and her friends but at the same time kill off the strong unions in this country, that she believed were “The enemy within”. She sold off all the nationalised industries to her palls in the corporate world of investment banking. Once broken up into small chunks all working for their bottom line, the coherence was lost. I have no problem laying the blame clearly at the UK government’s door, (Tory – Labour, Labour – Tory) not the Russians, or the Chinese, not coronavirus, not high gas prices………. The UK government made this bed for us, and now we are forced to lie in it – Or must we?  It is the people of Scotland who are sovereign, not the government.

All in a day’s work.

Another fine day so I put in a few miles on my bike, feeling good, off to the ironmonger now, the girls have given me a test piece – drill hole in some tiles but that requires special drills that I do not have. They have bought these tiles and wish to thread ribbons through holes so that they can hang from walls. All part of their craft stalls at a local craft fair, coronavirus has put pay to them holding their annual coffee morning and crafts stall, here at City Park, the things I do for charity, unlike Yorkshire men.

“Do, ought for nought – unless it’s for thy self”

I have the news on in the background and every half hour there is a piece about violation of Human Rights in China. Now I am not against flagging up human rights violations no matter the country involved. However, what we have here is an unsubstantiated report from a Chinese defector (a whistleblower). This seems like another Chinese bad story, propaganda for the US and UK involvement in the China Seas. Of course the UK and US, – those great democracies and defenders of the truth and justice. There are lessons to be learned from these two great bastions of civil rights, that treat all whistleblowers with the same benevolence as this Chinese defector. Oh wait a minute, what about Julian Assange, Guantanamo, Palestine, Yemen………………… A very wise man once told us,

“You that are without sin, cast the first stone”

Had a very busy weekend, on Friday I went off to the Criterion for lunch with my niece and her husband, I love the atmosphere in this pub and the food is first class, cooked on the premises, (plug, plug). Trent and I, we’re already talking about our next fishing trip, loch next time, where I will have more room for casting, my excuse for not catching anything, Trent caught a beautiful trout, which I have to say I enjoyed very much indeed. They taste good no matter who catches them.

Saturday my big brother made an appearance so it was off to our favourite little café in South Street, for coffee and homemade fruit scones, layered with butter and strawberry jam, it’s gid tell yir ma’. Campbell has just returned from a fortnight’s holiday, being pampered by an old lady friend.

Although 10 years my senior he still works, in a very advisory capacity. He has all sorts of letters after his name as a consultant on traditional building methods and writes reports for such people as Historic Scotland, English Heritage and advises on remedial work on ancient monuments. He told me a great story about a job that he was involved in quite recently at Westminster Palace, but the least said about that, maybe the better, only to say that the taxpayer has deep pockets and those in charge of its refurbishment certainly know how to milk the system. He has retired dozens of times, to my knowledge and was telling me how he gets emails each and every day offering him short contracts.

“All Good,” I told him, keep it up as long as you can; sitting at home looking at four walls and out of touch with the real world is a shortcut to an early grave,

“Happiness is not a gift, it must be worked at” Dalai Lama.         

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

The weather has quietened down over the past few days allowing me to get out on my bike more. But I have been spending much more time in my workshop too.

My brother returned from holiday he brought me a present of a book, the 50 greatest bike rides of the world by Sarah Woods, I have only read the first ride in Belfast; Northern Ireland, and it already sounds like Sarah Wood does not even have a bike. For it is like all the information came from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board pamphlet. And I do not hold with her that an Englishman, John Kemp Starley created the bicycle in the form we recognise today, I do accept that he patented his bicycle in 1885, so may have been the first man to patent the idea.

In June 1842, Macmillan seems to have ridden the 70-odd miles to Glasgow. A newspaper report talks of “a gentleman from Dumfries-shire bestride a velocipede of ingenious design” who knocked over a little girl in the Gorbals area and was fined five shillings. Many believe this was Macmillan, though others question whether a newspaper would describe a blacksmith as “a gentleman”. Macmillan did not patent his invention, and in 1846 Gavin Dalzell of Lesmahagow produced a very similar machine, leading to a belief that persisted through much of the 1800s that he had invented the powered bicycle.

In 1854 Macmillan married Elsie Goldie, and they had six children together. He died in 1878. The smithy where he worked is still standing and carries a plaque which reads: “He builded better than he knew”. Two of his bicycles are on display in the Dumfries Museum 

I am not sure that I accept either that,

“Today, now that the 50 years of unrest and social conflict is consigned to the history book, Belfast and its slogan –daubed mural-painted walls, vast…..”  

All we read about riding in Belfast and Northern Ireland from Sarah is a seven-mile traffic-free section of the National Cycle Network (NCN). In fact, the only thing I recognize about the NCN is her tip:

“Be alert to debris on the road and the threat of puncture from thorns, sharp stones and old rusty nails.”

For this is the state of the UK cycle network throughout these islands, and why cycling as a means of transport will never take off as it has in Europe, and at the detriment to the health of the nation.      

A few weeks ago I commented on an article I had read in the iScot magazine. It had been written by a doctor that writes a regular column there and I was shocked at his words. What he was talking about was PM2.5 particles in the atmosphere. I had read other articles on PM2.5 particles but always in connection with diesel engine exhaust gasses, this was different.

PM2.5 particles are so small they pass right through the lungs and into the bloodstream, and from there into the main organs of the body and why they are so dangerous to human health. Not only do they cause death but they are contributory to bad health in general and account for a high toll on the NHS resources and budgets.

Now if PM2.5 particles have been known about for decades and their effect on our health and wellbeing well documented. Why the shock now? Well, today (Saturday 9th October 2021) I read in The Guardian, an article by Damian Carrington, it was more or less making the same argument that I had read in iScot, that even the new Eco wood-burning stoves emitted 375g of PM2.5 particles for every gigajoule of energy produced, whereas a modern HGV diesel engine only 0.5 per gigajoule. Nordic swan, the official ecolabel of Nordic countries allows wood stoves to emit up to 150g per gigajoule, 300 times more than a modern HGV engine.

40,000 early deaths across Europe each year are attributed to wood burning.

These are figures for modern high efficient stoves, but many homes that have central heating will still have an open fire for nostalgic reasons. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and in today’s world of high gas prices, how many more will open up their open fires and burn wood? This will not only mean more pollution from the chimney pots but also into the room where the fire burns.

We are told that the UK government has no plans to restrict the use of wood burners, (I am not sure if this applies to Scotland too) although the sale of wet wood has been banned from sale since May.

A spokesperson for the government’s Department of Environment did say

“That air pollution has been reduced significantly since 2010, with PM2.5 emissions falling by 11%” (That’s only 1% per year by my calculation)

“The environment bill currently in parliament would”, he say, “Make it easier for local authorities to tackle pollution from domestic burning by providing powers to issue (fines) for smoke emissions” 

So another half-hearted bill, not to ban dangerous wood-burning (open fires or stoves) and only allowing local authorities to tackle, smoke emissions, not PM2.5, and only in domestic settings, not commercial settings, where the real problems are. So, boilers, such as the St Andrews University bio-fuel boiler at Guardbridge, will have no PM2.5 checks on emissions from its chimney, by any local authority. 

Is it any wonder that we will never tackle global warming when governments are so afraid of upsetting their paymasters, big businesses?        

“All good” I hear you cry.

It is a dreich, dreich day here in St Andrews, I did go out on my bike first thing but it’s hell out there folks, (what am I on – I’m on my bike.) It was wet, unbelievably windy and freezing bloody cold, (Che gelida manina), it was so good to be home, yes, I really am getting soft these days.

I did go over to the dental university hospital yesterday afternoon, where I became a bit of a celebrity. The young student thought she saw something of interest – calls on her tutor – yes, definitely interesting and worth exploring, the excitement was building in the room, I could tell.

The consensus opinion was that an x-ray should be taken of my jaw. I now went on a route march to the first floor and the other side of the building. Very quick and painless progress, the results quickly beamed to the fourth floor by the wonders of the computer, arriving there long before I make the long trek back up there.

The confab, confab, another examination this time by a much more senior person, may have been a deipnosophist. Confab, confab, I was presented with three possible routes to rooting out the problem (sorry). Seems there is still infection below the tooth and the ex-ray has shown deterioration in the bone. I cut through all the chat and said if this tooth was going to cause me problems anytime in the future let’s just have it out now. Decision made. An appointment will be set up for me to go back and a dentist will remove the offending tooth, ho-hum.

The tooth will be removed by a qualified and practising dentist in some other part of the building. They will then call me back in six months time to the university for a check-up. So in six months I will find out how the young student, who has been looking after me, is progressing, she seems already confident after only a year of studies (still two years to go) but she will make it, she is dedicated, chatty, very friendly, all the qualities you want in a dentist, for let’s face it, a visit to the dentist is not someplace you look forward to going. 

Listening to Parallel lines, Blondie, ‘Bang A Gong’ (Get it on) certainly brightens the dismal weather outside my window as I chap away at the keyboard.

Interesting that the head of the ICC (the US Treasury) told Congress that they do not have either the budget or manpower to investigate alleged War Crimes committed by US forces in Afghanistan, only those War Crimes (not alleged) committed by the Taliban and Islamic State.

The Westminster parliament had already passed into law a bill preventing any British soldier from being charged with War Crimes.

A ‘Get out of Jail Free Pass’ for coalition forces, the US and the UK can now with impunity take out civilians, targeting them with drowns, render them, exposing them to suffer and inhuman atrocities out of sight and out with US and UK laws.

And we are complicit – for remember they do it in our name.

Facebook went down for 7 hours and the world came to a grinding halt, (poetic licence) but it just shows how many lives are interlinked with Facebook, not just chat and blog, but business too. But worse than all of this, the multimillionaire owner of Facebook lost 7 billion from the shutdown, I’m sure like me you really feel for the man.

There has been a lot of chat on the internet about us turning green, and as you know I have a problem with much that is said on the media outlets in the UK. We hear how it is all going well; electric cars (but how green are they really?) Who will benefit from the new technology? Well, not we the consumer or the planet.

China is trying to move away from manufacturing cheap goods that they now sell to the west. And to this end have built a completely new city – a city dedicated to modern, high technology companies, in one factory, set up 10 years ago, (when the west was still wondering if global warming was a problem) they make electric vehicles, busses, lorries, cars. “All good” I hear you cry.

These cars need batteries so they went to the source of the world’s biggest deposits of Lithium, a high altitude salt lake in Bolivia. The government there did not have the where for all to extract the lithium, so the Chinese built them a factory (publicly owned by the Bolivian government) and if corruption does not set in the Bolivian people will be better off to the tune of 45 trillion dollars by 2022. “All good” I hear you cry.

They now have solar panels that are so thin and flexible that they are being stuck to the front, sides and roofs of buildings so that the building becomes a generating station in its own right. “All good” I hear you cry.

Wind turbines are producing vast amounts of electricity from their huge blades. “All good” I hear you cry.

So what’s your grip, Hamilton?

Batteries will eventually wear out, as will solar panels, and the blades of wind turbines have only a life span of a few years. Already we see blades from the first wind turbines being stockpiled because they are too expensive to recycle, many now abandoned in fields, alongside the turbine they came from. Batteries likewise have become very expensive to recycle, and so it is with solar panels. What we are seeing is something akin to nuclear waste being produced.

I would not be so concerned if all this was publicly owned but it is not. The companies that are producing electric vehicles, solar panels, and wind turbine blades have no responsibility for their disposal at the end of their useful life. When it becomes a problem, who will pick up the bill? Just as we see over plastic pollution today, no one is responsible for plastic pollution, in our atmosphere, our seas, our landfill, where does the bill fall?

How much more will Mother Nature, wildlife, and people be able to absorb before they stop having to produce one-use plastic? Or this new pollution, from this ever so Green Economy?

It is estimated that if the people of China wished to emulate the lifestyle of people in the west then we would need a further 7 planets like earth to live on. Leaving our lives in the hands of big business – whose only interest is business and making money – will be the equivalent of making a stick to break our own back.

We have to change the way we all live our lives, not this short term business model. I walked through the shopping centre in Dundee yesterday and there were shops after shops of goods – and I wondered just how much of these consumer goods do we really need in our lives??????

Early one morning just as the sun was rising…….

The weather over the last week has not been conducive to pleasant cycling; in fact there have been days when I did not leave the house. However I find that if you go out early enough there is a sort of tranquil peace before the weather kicks in. This morning was one of those days. I was out by 7 O’clock, still dark, and not wishing to risk riding on the roads, more so when the sun does make its appearance, it is very low in the sky (blinded by the light).  

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I dropped down onto the cycle track and on reaching Guardbridge; I returned to the start and repeated the circuit. This is really the only way I can keep some fitness in my legs and me out of trouble. By the time of my second circuit a few students were beading along on their way to classes, all were girls, there was also a girl runner, I say runner rather than jogger for I was doing 20K along the path, and it had taken me a fair while to catch up with her, as for the student cyclists, they were long gone.  

The cycle track, littered with pine needles after the high winds and heavy rain of the last few days, and my wheels leave clear tracks on the damp road. Although I believed I was steering in a straight line, on my return I notice I had not been. The bike had been weaving around, as much as one meter, from one side to the other.

The field of potatoes has now been harvested,

    No longer school children stoop in the field,

A potato monster gathers the yield,

Birds still chase after the plough,

That turns over land bare and barn now,

We are losing that infinity,

We once had with the land,

To ignore, is not to understand.

On the little side road was a large skip so I stopped to have a look. It was full of old bikes and bicycle equipment from a distant past, I lifted this one off the top to photograph, once upon a time I would have trailed it home with me, but those days are gone now. Now they are only a curio.

I have an appointment at the NHS dental hospital in Dundee this afternoon so better get my skates on. Shoes to polish, trousers to press, shirt to iron, shower, and remember to change your underpants – well you might have an accident, mum would be black affronted if the doctor found you with dirty underwear.  

I think this will be my last visit since no work was needed on my teeth apart from cleaning and today polishing. All I need now is a new hearing aid and I will be all set for Europe in the spring.

I was looking through some of my old photographs and postcards and came across this little lot from my trip to America.

Actually I was looking at my bank balance, and I have been saving well over this spell of coronavirus, and was wondering if I could possibly fit in a trip to Holland, we have some good weather in September October, even November and December, or maybe one of those bus trips to the German Christmas Market. Tour operators run all sorts of trips during off season that are all inclusive and very reasonable, although I have the problem of all solo travelers, the single room subsidy, ho-hum.

Stay safe.