Blogathon 22/19: Is it safe?

We will spend both days this weekend:

  1. Shopping, and
  2. Making the house and garden safe(r)

The weather forecast is so good I might even take the mower out for a spin.

This is a ridiculous statement, especially when you think that just a couple of weeks ago the average daytime temperature was -5c and every hour threatened a fresh snowfall.

But in the last two days of this week that we have been back from Wiltshire, the ZX10R has been out and about and I have enjoyed every mile she’s given me.

On that point (ZX10R in general, but motorcycling in particular, and circling back to my ‘safe’ theme), I read an interesting comparison published by a traffic consultant, earlier this week.

Whenever there are cyclist accidents in a cluster in London, or a London-based cycling fatality, the Mayor of London (backed by TfL) pumps significant amounts of £s into making that route (or those routes) ‘safer’ for cyclists.

But when motorcyclists have accidents in London, the physical, strategic, tactical, or financial action of the Mayor of London (backed by TfL) is always the square root of naff all.

Which is odd, really, given that motorcycling can move people across the whole of Greater London and nearby counties.

But still, the Mayor of London (backed by TfL) has decreed that motorcyclists must pay the ULEZ charge. So that’s alright then, isn’t it?

Blogathon 21/19: Eventing by the numbers

The sport of Eventing (whether One-Day Eventing, Two-Day Eventing, or the long-form of Three-Day Eventing) has been through a lot of changes over the years.

When the sport’s governing body was the British Horse Society (BHS), the sport was known as Horse Trials. And the rules of the sport and the design and restrictions that governed the shape of the sport were very different to how they are now. BHS Horse Trials was all about jumping expertise. Yes, BHS Horse Trials had the Dressage phase, the Showjumping phase, the Cross-Country phase (and, in the long-form Three-Day Event, also had a Steeplechase phase). But the competition was weighted towards being largely about the jumping.

After (many) years, the sport got a new governing body, the British Horse Trials Association (BHTA). BHTA introduced new rules which altered the shape of the sport, updated the safety measures built into the sport, enhanced the protections for horses and riders, and changed the design-restrictions of the on-track obstacles. The Dressage phase was enhanced and made to have a higher bearing on the overall result. The Showjumping phase was left unchanged, but the Cross-Country phase started to feature less ‘normal’ obstacles; fewer big-spread hedges and walls. Technical and water-obstacles were introduced; arrowhead fences were brought in.

More years passed. Dressage and jumping tests became more difficult and the Dressage phase became ever more influential on the overall scores/results. And new and more imaginative technical jumping obstacles were introduced.

Decades later, and after many more changes in the rules of the sport (at home and abroad), Eventing got a new governing body: British Eventing. And the sport was no longer called Horse Trials.

Where am I going with all of these memories?

I’m going to the venues.

In the 2019 Eventing Calendar there are a grand total of 172 competition opportunities.

I appreciate this sounds like a lot, but a great many of those competition opportunities are not for the amateur ‘own horse and full-time job’ rider.

I’ve been looking at the 2019 Evening Calendar for a different reason; I’ve been looking for the competition venues that are no longer there.

It’s terrific that some landowners are prepared to run two, three, and in some cases, even four Events in the season, but where’s the strategic sense behind that?

Where’s the geographical spread from running Events in different places? Where’s the difference in terrain from running across different types of countryside?

And where’s the longevity in pursuing the strategy of asking landowners to host more than one Event in a season?

I look at the range and breadth of the 2019 British Eventing Calendar and I feel good for the competitors. They have a solidly-run sport which protects the mental and physical welfare of horses and riders.

But I look back at former Calendars and I feel sad that so many great venues are no longer open to the sport.

To me this is a management issue. If one’s local competition venue is XYZ and XYZ runs four Events in a season, that’s terrific. But it’s also dull.

What started as a bit of pre-Christmas idle thinking has expanded into a solid list.

There are seventy-five BHS, BHTA, and BE Event venues missing from the 2019 Calendar – and some of these missing venues ran more than one Event.

To my eyes, this doesn’t look like a healthy trend for the future of a sport in which I (still) feel heavily invested.

The list of missing events is long and I wonder if British Eventing should look to safeguarding the Events on the current Calendar, and devising and deploying a strategy to recognise and build on the diversity of the Events.

It’s a long list. Seventy-five losses:

Arley Hall
Bath & West
Belmont Park
Berrington Hall
Borough Court
Builth Wells
Church Crookham
Dynes Hall
Great Missenden
Great Tew
Harewood Hall
Little Mattingley
Littleton Manor
Lulworth Castle
Milton Keynes
Mount Ballan
Nutwell Court
Peper Harrow
Purston Manor
Shipton Moyne
Somerley Park
Ston Easton
Stowell Park
Tetton Hall
Tythorp Park
Urchinwood Manor
Witton Castle

Blogathon 20/19: Roadtrip 4! (the conclusion)

We went to the market in the middle of Marlborough this morning.

As a commercial event it was a bit dull; there were maybe nine stalls covering (amongst other prospective purchases) second-hand furniture, cheeses, DIY stuff and other random goods.

So as I couldn’t trump Sam’s purchase of yesterday I bought a large lump of Gala Pie and we jumped in the car and drove home. Because it was the last day of the short break and I have to be at work tomorrow.

It’s been a fun, relaxing break. We all enjoyed ourselves. And speaking personally, it was great not to have to do any rushing around.

It’s good to be home. The cats are still speaking to us (the cat-sitter kept them fed).

And right now we’re watching The Martian (we started out watching Robinson Crusoe On Mars, but this was an easy transition to make after the first 15 minutes).

I’ll upack my rucksack later. There’s a little something we brought back from Darkest Wiltshire

Blogathon 19/19: Roadtrip 3!

After spending a large lump of yesterday walking up to and cuddling very old stones, today we went a bit further down the road to see some more very old stones.

Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to cuddle any of these very old stones because someone did something that someone didn’t like a very long time ago.

But we went there. And we gawped.

They aren’t as old as the old stones we saw yesterday, but at 3,000 years, they’re pretty old.

Blogathon 18/19: Roadtrip 2!

Wiltshire is wet. The ground is wet. The sky is wet. And everything in between is also… Wet.

But nevertheless we went out. And got wet

We walked into town and had second breakfast.

Then we went to Avebury to get completely soaked look at the stones.

And we may have cuddled some of the stones.

And now we’re back in our temporary home.

These three have been following me around all day

Blogathon 16/19: Let There Be Light

And there actually was.

It’s been a busy day. Not mentile back-to-back stuff, but busy.

I cleared the back patio of brambles (which was a major undertaking).

Then I don’t know what I did.

Then we went in to Nottingham to see some things.

Then, back home, I reassembled the previously flooded light fitting, wired it up and got it back into the ceiling mount.

And it all worked, as prophesied by Young Masher.

Then I went down to the stables and rode my pony*.

And now this blogging malarky.

Mind you, before 9am Sam had run over six miles, so I don’t know why I’m so knackered.

*not an actual pony

Blogathon 15/19: Flash Flood!

Not half an hour before bedtime last night the lights went out.

But not the TV, not Spotify and also not the Sonos speaker, bizarrely.

There were cries of ‘It’s a power failure’ which I mentally dismissed because of the above exceptions. I genuinely thought someone had switched the light off.

Turns out it was the hand of Dog (other deities are available).

The downstairs lights had tripped; we quickly identified the source as the kitchen lights.

One stepladder investigation later, and it was revealed we had water where water shouldn’t exist (i.e. in the kitchen light fitting).

While Sam went upstairs to investigate I took the light fighting apart and got soaked when I finally detached it from the ceiling. It was full of water. The light fighting, not the ceiling.

Meanwhile upstairs in the bathroom the side panel was quickly off the bath and water was spotted flooding out of the u-bend.

The Phillips screw in the middle of the drain plug was tightened up and Robert’s your Mother’s Brother, we had no more leakage.

Last night and today I’m slowly drying the light fitting (it was flipping expensive!) in the hope that it will keep the faith and carry on working once all trace of moisture has gone.

So that was exciting!

Blogathon 14/19: VD

It’s that tine of the year when a young man’s thoughts turn to fancy and a young woman’s thoughts turn to a million things because that’s the way their brain processes information.

It is, of course, VD.

Valentine’s Day. Or, as I’m sure we used to call it, Saint Valentine’s Day.

About a hundred years ago, at school, we used to have an inter-class Saint Valentine’s Day postal service – so that you (or someone) could anonymously post a Saint Valentine’s Day card to the object(s) of your (or their) desires.

I think I can remember getting about three cards, over the course of my time at that school.

Of course, there’s always the possibility my memory has failed and the actual number of cards is lower.

Blogathon 13/19: Half-term

Next week, for my part of the country at least, it’s half-term week.

This means that school’s out; children will spend the week not doing homework and generally amusing themselves, whilst some parents spend time and energy trying to think of entertaining and amusing things to do with their children.

And other parents will go to work, noticing how much reduced their commuting time is. And how easy it will be to get a space in the company car park.

We are planning a mini adventure.

And then on Thursday it will be back to work for me (and into a likely bunch of network changes on Thursday night, into the bargain).

The forecast for next week is quite good, so I’m looking forward to four days of fun in the sun activity in the Wilds of Wiltshire.

We’ll see how everyone else in the family feels about it.