Photo Diary

Archive for June, 2007

Regal Little Brute

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

DSC_0018.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are known for their intelligence, determination (usually to steal any food you might have about you) and usually their laziness. They are more or less the architypical hound. But this one’s still very young, and there is nothing she won’t do to get herself a better view of the world. Such as jumping onto the table in the garden, or in the kitchen. Or in the hall. Or leaping onto my lap while typing (four times this morning). Or hopping up onto the window seat to watch the world go by.
Thank goodness she’s got a wonderful personality and temperament. A dog that size wouldn’t be funny if she had an ounce of nastiness in her nature.

The Same Weir near the Mill Bridge, Exeter.

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

DSC_0011.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

Yes. Compare this with the photo below. Incredible difference in the sheer quantity of water flowing over the weir. There wouldn’t be a chance of standing in that torrent. All of the island where the two were standing in April is overwhelmed, and the majority of the bank has disappeared too. A shocking difference. See the tables in the beer garden on the left bank? The picture’s not taken from exactly the same spot, but it show the difference. In one part of the country it was said today that they had had a month’s worth of rain in three hours. It’s fortunate that only three or four have apparently died. We can only hope no more do.

The Weir near the Mill Bridge, Exeter.

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

Weir Exeter, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

This was how it looked in April this year. You can see that it was a gorgeous day. Hard to remember that now, though. The weather has been so bad for the last week or so. Still, as you can see, there is a slope in the foreground, and the water was gentle enough, people could wade out to a little island in the middle. On the left, middle, you can just make out some tables in the pub’s beer garden on the eastern bank.


Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

We MADE IT!, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

Fifth Part of London to Brighton

From there it was a breeze for the last few miles into Brighton.
A wonderful day, great fun and excellent support from all – especially the couple at the top of Ditchling Beacon who kept everyone motivated by calling out encouragement from the bank at the last summit!
So thanks to all those who sponsored me and the Dart-i-moor Pisskies riding team, otherwise known as Bazle’s Bikers, I think, although he disagrees. We’ve raised somewhere over £1,500 between us, which’ll hopefully go nicely towards the British Heart Foundation’s research budget. We had a great time, and hopefully we’ll have done some good by going on the ride!

This is the top of Ditchling Beacon.

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

Fourth Part of London to Brighton

Chris was fairly worried that he may get another puncture, so he went on a little. He reckoned that if he had another disaster, he could let us know and we’d all be behind him, so he’d be able to get some help. What he hadn’t realised was, just how far ahead he was getting. He reached Brighton two hours ahead of the rest of us! Phenomenal riding for a bloke who’s never ridden more than about twenty miles.
Anyway, the rest of us had burgers (Bazle the Burger) and cake, sweets and bananas. Not me, naturally. My body is a temple and I worship it. Well, it’s big enough, anyway. So I had a ham and tomato sandwich from the scouts at a stop near Gatwick, and some Lucozade to go with the three litres of water I drank. Oh, and I did have a choc-ice at the top of Ditchling Beacon.
That was the only place that really did give me problems. It’s a long hill, and rises in a series of sweeps, so that each time you think you’ve got to the top – nope, God has in his infinite wisdom, stuck another ruddy hill in front of you, steeper than the last. It is horrible, made still worse by damn fool bikers who want to walk in a line abreast, blocking the route for any people still tottering along on a bike. Like me. So I was forced, forced, to stop every so often. But although I paused four times, I did not walk. I merely rested, drank more water, and rode on. Great fun. And then I was at the top and Bazle and Aidan were there as a welcoming committee.

The terrible trio.

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

The terrible trio., originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

Third Part of London to Brighton Ride

However making it to the start was never our greatest concern. It was the journey from there onwards that was worrying. We managed to get there twenty minutes late, but set off at the very front of the line, which was great. Off through the streets of London, over towards Mitcham Common, down to Westerham, and up How Lane into Chipstead, and all was well, a massive relief. Chris Aylen and I were together all this way more or less, but as we reached a hill-top, Chris had disappeared. Seeing Mad Mark Bazle, I asked him if he’d seen Chris. Nope, but we all had phones for such an emergency. Poor old Chris had suffered a puncture already. We waited, and he and I continued along together again for a while, but as we went past Nutfield (I think) Bazle sent me a text message. I stopped to receive it, and I think it was there that I lost Chris.

‘Mad Mark” Bazeley.

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

‘Mad Mark" Bazeley., originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

Second piece about London to Brighton.

But, thank Goodness, I took a short six mile ride with “Mad Mark” Bazeley after Cornwall, and then another eighteen miler the week after, and the ankle seemed to hold up OK. Even though a chunk was coming up from Spreyton to Hittisleigh, which I can promise you, is a ruddy silly hill that no sensible person would ever consider riding up. I had made the tactical error of having a good lunch that day, and nearly saw it return several times up that blasted hill.
Still, in the end I managed to make it to London, and although the drive up seemed to exacerbate the problems, on Sunday it looked and felt OK. We set off happily, and were at the start in plenty of time.

Injured Morrisman with dogs.

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

Injured Morrisman with dogs., originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

Well, I was very happy to finish the ride on Sunday. The more observant among my readers may have noticed that after a quick mention of falling off my bike a month or so ago, I have remained curiously silent on the subject of the London to Brighton bike ride.
There was a jolly good reason for it. The Ridgeback.
You see, a Ridgie who’s been stuck in a cage for three months solid (this was essential so that her spine could recover from an attack of Discospondylitis) is easily excited. Let her loose on a patch of bare grassland, and she’ll run about happily, torturing a Bernese, gaily knocking children over, and generally bowling about rather like a steel wrecking ball.
And disobeying every command, of course. Especially the dull one that asked her to come to me.
So when I wanted her to come, I thought I’d had an inspiration when I remembered an old trick. Puppies think that they may be abandoned, you see, if you turn and walk away from them. So I called her, turned my back, and next thing I knew was, it had worked! Yes, she came as soon as she saw me walk off. And she ran through me, throwing me to the ground in not inconsiderable discomfort, bearing in mind all my weight had fallen on my right ankle, twisting it severely.
Well, it swelled up like a balloon, reaching about double its normal size a day later. And with three weeks to go to the ride, I couldn’t practise at all. This was a deeply alarming disaster.
The main problem was, I’d already garnered some £1,000 and couldn’t just back out. Who’d refund all that cash? No, I had to go ahead with it, no matter what. So I bought some support socks, Shelagh Palmer (THANK YOU) made me some aromatherapy jollop, and I worked hard at sitting still with my leg in the air. All in the interests of good health, you understand.
Which is one reason why you may have noticed there were no photos of me at the Royal Cornwall Show with Tinners’ Morris. Sadly, I just couldn’t do a darned thing there. I tried to hop on my leg, but it was too weak and hurt like hell when I tried, so I opted for the ale-drinker’s cure, and watched the others with great jealousy while I sat on the sidelines and took photos of them all.


Thursday, June 14th, 2007

DSC_0003.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

There are few people in this world who can be admired as professional in the truest sense – but here are two.
I have always been in awe of Waterstone’s and Ottakar’s staff. The two firms have been marvellous and extremely kind to me over many years. No one has done more for me than Claire and Graham in Waterstone’s Exeter. Both are enthusiastic, as are Nigel and Roham in the other Exeter branch.
But I have to mention George Gamble. Unassuming, generous, kindly to a fault, he is that rarest of creatures, a professional salesman who is always honest, fair, and full of integrity. I have yet to meet a Headline client who does not hold the very deepest respect for this bastion of salesmanship. Personally, I owe him much for his determination and effort over the last thirteen years. All best wishes, George!


Thursday, June 14th, 2007

DSC_0012.JPG, originally uploaded by michael_jecks.

The nice thing about a new book is, that you get a chance to wander about the country and find people who’re happy to sell your books. Sometimes you’re lucky and wander into a shop where the staff want to help. Like here in Plymouth.
George and I wandered in aimlessly, as authors do, and found the delightful Karen, who took us upstairs to sign all her copies. And as an afterthought, almost, we asked to see Michael, just to say goodbye.
But Michael had some scratches and plasters on his fingers. When I asked, he TOO had fallen off his bike. And why? Because he was in training for the London to Brighton cycle ride. So, I mentioned my own part in the ride and suddenly we had plenty to talk about while Karen and George rolled their eyes and dreamed of quiet authors and managers who could keep their ruddy mouths shut . . . Hopefully I’ll see him on Sunday between London and Brighton!