Passive smoking can kill you

the words Hell and Handbasket figure largely in my head today…

In west London a 47-year-old former British Heavyweight Champion is in hospital fighting for his life.

Not because of any boxing-related issue.

But just because he asked a couple of guys in a club not to smoke.

Well, it’s illegal to smoke indoors in a public place, right?


So these guys, the smokers, put out their cigarettes.

And left the club.

But on the way out.

One of the smokers drew a gun and shot the guy.

Bang bang you’re dead.

Except that James – the ex-boxing champion – is still hanging in there.

What kind of a country do we have here now?

I’m so sad and ashamed.



A Very Jumpy Pone

Which sounds scarily like a Sooty episode but isn’t

On Saturday evening I decided that Vin needed to have some jump schooling.

Possible show jumping at Allenshill on Tuesday and a return there for some combined training next Sunday?

Yep, definitely need to get some practice.

I thought about it for a while and decided to build three small, unrelated fences, on different lines in the arena.

We know he can jump big.

What we need to instil in him is his ability to jump from a slower, bouncier, more consistent rhythm.

So that was going to be the aim of this batch of schooling: rhythm and consistency.

But first the hard part prior to schooling.

Getting out of bed.

Crikey, that’s a hard one.

I’d served The Lovely S with breakfast in bed.

Breakfast in bed is fast becoming a regular feature in our lives.

And then we settled down with our books.

And read.

Occasionally stroked and fondled.

Sometimes paused for cuddles.

And a brief snooze or two.

I don’t know when I got up but it was gone midday – The Lovely S had preceded me by at least half an hour.

Showered, shaved, dressed and with both of us in the car, our first port of call was Bromsgrove.

A pub.

For lunch.

Well, it was lunchtime!

Having eaten we walked up the High Street to Costa for a Hot Chocolate and no cake.

How virtuous are we?

Then I dropped The Lovely S at home.

And made my way to the yard.

Where I fed Beech some sliced apple, groomed him and generally loved him up.

He’s looking good, considering.

No horse will maintain condition having been on box rest for three months and Beech (being a highly strung Thoroughbred) is quick to drop weight at the best of times.

But he’s really not doing too badly.

Down at the field Vin was thrilled to see me; I opened the gate and he walked out, put his nose in the headcollar and said ‘hello’ the way he does.

Yep, I’m now wearing a green polo-shirt, not a white one.

He was easy to groom and stood patiently while I fannied about tacking him up and then building a small course of jumps in the arena.

With that lot finished and me on board, we worked on the flat for 10 minutes.

Lots of transitions to get his bum underneath him, relax his back and get his head working.

And then for the next 20 minutes we worked on our exercise:
One fence repeatedly on laps of the arena to establish rhythm. Then change the rein to achieve the same standard in the opposite direction.
Then two fences repeatedly on laps of the arena to establish… you get it I’m sure. Then change the rein.
Then three fences as a small course still concentrating on maintaining our rhythm, then change the rein to get the same effect…

Twenty minutes of low-level jump schooling.

When I dismounted I was covered in perspiration.

Vin, I’m glad to say, was hardly sweating.

He’s a big, strong, fit boy.

With him groomed, fed tea, rugged up and turned back out (and me hot chocolated) it was time to return home.

In my absence the Lovely S had done a load of ironing.

And prepared tea.

And was about to serve it.

Spag Bol!

How excellent.

Since then I’ve washed up, dried up and put away.

I feel replete.

And complete.

And effete.

And very smiley.


How to drive through deep water

Due, I guess, to the adverse conditions, this post – and this post are both getting hit by a large number of people Googling ‘how to drive through deep water‘.

I’ll ignore the obvious ‘stable door, bolted’.

I’ll just give you the ‘how to’ as I was taught.

* Don’t try to drive through deep water unless you absolutely have to. The chances are you will fail unless your vehicle is adequately prepared and unless you know every bump, rise and fall in the terrain you’re trying to cross.

* If you have to drive through deep water on a track or through open country look for higher ground as evidenced by tufts of grass or the surface water being broken by a line of higher ground beneath the surface.

* If you have to drive through deep water on a surfaced or metalled road the higher ground is usually in the middle.

* Halt before the water, change to first gear and open the driver’s door six inches.

* Pull forward very slowly in first gear keeping an eye out for oncoming traffic and vehicles that may approach you from behind too fast.

* Do not let your speed increase but keep the engine revs high by jockeying the clutch. Do not drive quickly.

* As you drive forwards listen through the open door to the water passing underneath the car, if you can hear water breaking as you would with waves forming, slow down. You are moving too quickly.

* If you hear a dramatic hiss where the water has risen to make contact with any part of your exhaust system and you believe the water may deepen you must retrace your tracks. A cooled exhaust system will crack and you will damage your engine as the water is sucked in to your engine block.

* Be completely aware of the path you are taking.

* Be completely aware of the level of water beneath your vehicle.

* Be completely aware of the speed of your vehicle.

* Be completely aware of your engine revs.

* When exiting the water keep your speed very slow.

* When you are sure you have left the water, close your door.

* Drive for 15 yards applying the handbrake gradually until you feel it ‘bite’ then release it.

* Drive for 15 yards applying your footbrake gradually until you feel it ‘bite’ then release it then reapply it gradually for 20 yards then release it.

* Check your electrics (lights, indicators, wipers) and if any have failed you must not continue.

* Increase your speed very gradually to give your engine pan, wheels and braking systems time to dry out.

There you go.

Giving a little something back courtesy of the Army advanced driving instructor who taught me to drive on road, snow, ice, water and oil.

And taught me a bunch of other stuff but close-order and pursuit driving aren’t part of today’s syllabus.


Forthcoming plans

On Tuesday Vin and I are probably going show jumping at Allenshill.

And on Sunday we’re probably going Combined Training, again at Allenshill.

On 19th August we’re probably going to do the Riding Club Teams combined training competition.


I really want to see the new Transformers film. I mean, I really do!

And now I have to finish writing an end to a short story.

I must.

So I’m going to do it.

Right now.

I mean.

I’ve been thinking about it for hours.

Just going to sit right down.


And write it.

Watch me.

Dum de dum de dum.

long pause.


Haven’t written it yet.

Soon though.

Any minute now.


I mean.

There’s nothing else for me to do.

I’ve wasted time doing all the usual time-wasting things.

And now I’m going to do it.

Just as soon as I’ve watched the end to Crocodile Dundee II.

And perhaps played spider solitaire.


Oh Lord, don’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz…

Now then.

I don’t believe in stereotyping.

Especially in the world of ‘you are what you drive’.

Because that would be stupid, right?


(except that two out of the three drivers who unexpectedly blocked oncoming lines of traffic – as mentioned in this post – were Mercedes drivers)

But this evening (as I correctly and prophetically thought that the drive to pick up The Lovely S might be an interesting experience) I saw one and a half Mercedes cars.

I saw the first one on the A442 at Bradford House, north of Droitwich.

At this spot the road dips down in to a deep dip.

Normally this deep dip isn’t filled with a fast-flowing torrent of flood water.

It was this evening.

And there was a police car, blue light flashing.

The police officer was telling people that the road was impassable.

But the Mercedes driver knew better.

She pulled around the police car and drove down in to the dip and forwards in to the water.

And her driving was straight out of the book of “The proper way to drive through deep water“.


She floored it and bombed through the deep water.

Tried to bomb it through the deep water.

She got thirty-five metres towards the far side; the bow-wave was washing up against the windscreen, the stern-wave would have impressed an off-shore racing yacht.

I sat there impressed at her stupidity.

And then the lights on her car went out.

The bow-wave and stern-wave collapsed.

The car lost forward motion.

The water began to settle around the Mercedes.

The driver opened the door, letting tens of gallons of water in to wash around the inside of her Mercedes (I guess her electric window opener wouldn’t work!) and called back to the policeman for assistance.

I could have sworn I heard him laugh.

Of course I might have been mistaken, I was turning my car around at the time.

The half of a Mercedes was the top half.

Of another one; abandoned.

The bottom half was submerged beneath 3′ of fast-running water.


I’m going to avoid the stereotyping statement about Mercedes drivers believing their cars are capable of floating on water.



More flooding in Worcestershire

It had to happen.

The last lot of rain has barely drained away from the land in to the local river network that is already swollen and – in a few places – overflowing.

The last 12 hours of rain has been the bridge too far.

Coming back from Droitwich at 13.30 I had to take a detour because the A38 was closed by the Morrison’s roundabout.

Water was pouring upwards out of the drains.

People were trying to drive through water levels of 2′ and over.

Three cars were abandoned across the road (in a ‘conked out’ kind of way).

I’ve declined to ride later today.

The roads are flooded and I expect even the arena is temporarily out of action until this downpour stops nd the water drains away.

Driving to Droitwich this evening to pick up The Lovely S might be an interesting experience!


Today’s big learning experience


The band.


Track called ‘High‘.

It rivals cold baked-bean and Worcestershire Sauce sandwiches* as a Truly Great Thing.

Oh yes.

* Look, I had a traumatic time as a student and this became my metaphysical crutch. And it’s a bit like having a Pot Noodle addiction; you’re never completely safe from it. Even if (like cold baked-bean and Worcestershire Sauce sandwiches) the addiction is to an excellent hangover cure. Or just a brilliant item of food stuffery. And hey… it’s veggie!