Sunday, 23 March 2008

Vincent Van Go !

Not for the faint-hearted, this classic outfit racing, but very rewarding for the spectator. Now - I haven't sported a beard for about 15 years but I feel I ought to in homage to Bryce Davies and Graham Marston. The pony tail might take a little longer but would help complete the picture. Bryce is apparently reluctant to reveal the current output from this 1200cc Vincent - but considering it is a frequent winner and seems to be carrying a few "paid for" inches - it ain't no slouch. MORE DRIFTING !

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Grousing Matilda

Our antipodean friends will obviously have been enjoying their Glorious Twelfth in February rather than August but it has not escaped my attention that this was about the time that a flood of whinging and grousing started to appear in this and associated blogs. To celebrate this winter mood swing I have managed to unearth from the archive this little gem. I am reminded of the fantastically grumpy hotelier who would begrudgingly accommodate our annual trip North of the border. Angus was keen for the bottle and on one occasion he failed to make it back from town leaving myself and a colleague to cook dinner for the entire hotel. In an effort to "make hay while the sun shines", Angus had let most of the front lawn of the awful, Victorian, red sandstone pile to the camping fraternity - equally concerned to preserve his grass, this didn't stop him from taking out the grazing rabbits from between the tents at dawn with his trusty Lee Enfield 303. Strewth Shiela, one for the barbie ! MORE FIRE-POWER.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Double Bagger

I have mentioned in earlier posts how indebted we are to the agricultural community for their relaxed approach to tidying up after themselves. It is this trait that we need to encourage as it affords us these priceless moments of excitement as we drive around the countryside. This little Massey bagger combine was parked up after a hard days work in 1969 and hasn't turned a wheel or gasped a breath since. It has been left for dead in the battlefield that is cereal production, and now stands as its own memorial to those more lively harvests of hard graft, sweat & cider and perhaps some horse-play. Early harvests do bring to mind that lovely passage of Patrick Leigh Fermor's in Between The Woods And The Water, when he and his friend enjoy a lazy hay stack afternoon with a couple of peasant girls after a swim in the river. It is frightening to think that as Brian Aldridge trudges the shows in search of yet bigger and more efficient kit, he too perhaps enjoyed the pleasures of bagger combines,not so long ago. MORE SWEAT.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

International Diplomacy

I bought this McCormick International 434 about ten years ago to replace an old B250 (see Pickled Cabbage on this blog). The 250 was not really man enough to run a 6ft grass topper used to keep the paddock at bay, the 434 features a live drive pto making it much more suitable for these arduous duties. Of interest is the missing tine on the loader bucket - I bought this machine from a farmer in Herefordshire who'd had it from new, when I asked him if the brakes were any good, he grunted some explanation and jumped with all his weight on the pedal, needless to say nothing happened and he buried the front loader into the side of an ancient Claas combine, extracting the lance in reverse gear one of the tines was left behind. I went back two weeks later to collect the machine during one of the foot and mouth quarantine periods so the vendor suggested we meet at Craven Arms in the pub car park to do the deal. Feeling somewhat like a drug dealer I backed my trailer up to his, positioned to allow the tractor to glide, incident free, from one to the other ............. It was a good two hours later that we managed to extract his Land Rover from the ditch some 200 yards down the hill from the pub. As he had been backing the tractor from one trailer to the other, the now weightless ball hitch on his let go and the brakeless 90 headed off in a South Westerly direction, we were both oblivious to this as we were engaged in guiding the 434. I'm only sorry this machine is looking so workman-like and not in the state that some would prefer. MORE TRAILER ACTION.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Pointless Portals - Part Three

Now then - if we were looking at a ruin here it would sit very well with the preceding parts of this chapter, in that a previously useful door has become pointless by passage of time. This opening was in fact pointless from conception, being part of an eighteenth century folly designed to be a distraction on, or even a purpose for, an afternoon stroll around the park. Whilst remodelling the grounds at nearby Lilford Hall and undertaking a massive "summer residence" building project, it was deemed necessary to fell the parish church of St Peter in 1778. The chancel arch and part of the North arcade from the nave were rebuilt, a mile from home, in a somewhat precarious state to provide this romantic meeting place. The topling of churches is pretty much behind us now - indeed I have noticed a trend over the last few years for churches to be extended. New structures are being tacked on to our places of worship to accomodate the requirements of, perhaps increasingly incontinent, worshipers and clergy. In this incessent quest to smooth out the rough edges of our lives, denying us the excuse for al-fresco relief, are we not in danger of losing touch with our roots ? How long before the the whole village or town will need to be covered, mall style, protecting us from the vagaries of nature and allowing us to slouch from shop to pub to church and home again in air conditioned banality ? MORE FRESH AIR !

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Pointless Portals - Part Two

This particular little gem has been known to me for many years - on more than one occasion I have tried to open the door to see what's behind, but it just won't budge. Interestingly the orchard protected by this sturdy, well bolted door hasn't been built on yet, which has got to be a miracle. Around these parts the village in-fill development of half a dozen exclusive, en-suite & hot-tub, executive "homes" stacked up with just enough room for a wheelie bin between them, is a common phenomenon. Whilst looking to all intents and purposes to have dropped from outer space, these blots are often named after a village idiot, blacksmith or farmer from local history - we are blessed locally with, Willy's Close, Margaret's End and Walter's Field....... Lord save us. I know of many a village in which no two buildings share any architectural bond; roofs all of varying pitches in thatch, slate, pan tile or wriggly tin; walls of brick, stone, render or timber framing - in short, a soup of vernacular variety simmering and reducing for hundreds of years. In the middle of this - Betty's Mews !! Where once was a crumbling crew-yard of dilapidated farm sheds and rusty Dutch barns, now stand five massive identical, appallingly proportioned, thoughtlessly detailed, million pound dolls' houses, built so close together that it is not uncommon for Dominic to accidentally park his Porsche in Veronica's driveway - so to speak. MORE RANTING !

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Pointless Portals - Part One

I have stumbled across a few gateways to nowhere in the archive and it seems they need publishing in the hope that we can determine that, in fact, nowhere's just fine. We pass through entrances to shops, houses, offices, railway stations, churches and pubs as part of our every-day lives, often without giving them a second thought. I appreciate that our great unmitigated coleague has this patch well covered and hopefully we can all learn something from his observations on the subject. What I am exploring here is the opportunity we are given - by virtue of the fact that we are not distracted by the price of bread, remembering our host's name, panic at missing the train or deciding what beer we need - to actually appreciate the craftsmanship and pointlessness, speculate on the history and to-ings and froe-ings that these structures have witnessed. This particular gate way did originally serve a purpose in the late eighteenth century but now is more easily passed around than through. What is startlingly absent is the security intercom and opening mechanism that would have enabled his lordship to sweep through at speed, horses lathered and fearful, on his way to church with a well timed "bleep" from his remote switch.