Right up yer kilt!

Today is the last full day for a while when I can sit on the old bog-seat in the garden, smoking my wotsits off. It may also be the last day for a while that I ride Nikita the folding bike. So here are some celebratory photos.

Bruce lighting a fag in the garden

lighting up

Bruce enjoying a fag in the garden

smoking the world away

the toilet-seat and Nikita the folding bike

the bog-seat and Nikita the folding bike

Hence some questions, mostly for my Napier and community council colleagues:

  • Should I bring Nikita back to Scotland with me?
  • Should I keep on wearing kilts in Scotland?
    •  If so, with or without tent-slippers?

RIP Lena Elisabeth Ryan (née Kessler)

Today was mum’s funeral. She was cremated at Wyre Forest Crematorium, after a service wonderfully led by Reverend Dr David Southall. Click either graphic to see the order of service at full-size (PDF).

front and back of LER order of service inside of LER order of service

The photo on the front is from my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding. The photo on the back is from when we arranged for mum to drive a coach for one of her birthdays. She had let slip that she had always wanted to try this when taking her pupils on school trips.

Thanks to lockdown, there were only 10 mourners: Ian and Pamela (my brother and sister-in-law), Susan (my sister), Elly (my wife) and I, two very close neighbours, two other family friends and Stephanie Senter of Worcester Scout Active Support. We all look forward to a post-lockdown celebration of mum’s life, to which we can invite her friends from all around the world. Continue reading

Spinning through Worcestershire

Today I finally got time to go out on Nikita the folding bike. (Well, a bit further than to the local shop to buy tobacco, which I did yesterday.)

The first ride was to the post office in the next village, to post a large letter to one of my mother’s pension providers and to try to pay some cheques into my Smile (online only) bank account. I couldn’t do the latter because I don’t have any paying-in slips. However, it did give me time on my own to have acrylics about recent events.

Here are the cyclemeter maps: click the screenshots to see the data:

cycle to Hallow post office

Out

cycle from Hallow post office

back

This evening, LifesCycle had one of their regular online (Facebook live) spins. Elly used the exercise bike here at the ‘circus’, while I took Nikita out into the lanes just outside Worcester’s northwest corner. I only managed 7·68 miles, partly due to setting off slightly late and getting home before the class finished, and partly due to stopping to adjust the saddle. Oh my bahookie! But it was lovely cycling in the sunshine, seeing the trees, fields, old-style farmhouse and freaking people out by wearing my camouflage kilt, Lifescycle cycling jersey, a buff and grunting by on a small folding bike. Hah!

cycle route through Worcestershire

spin-cycle!

My bug-out kit

As some of you know, I may need to go to the parental abode with very little notice. So here’s what I have with me almost all the time.

In my pouch/bumbag

In my pannier or rucksack

  • tobacco, cigarette papers and at least one lighter
  • passport
  • iPhone with attached short USB to lighting cable
  • wallet
  • regular medications
    • fast-acting insulin
    • long-lasting insulin
    • glucose tablets
    • amitriptyline
    • aspirin
    • atorvastatin
    • sertraline
  • irregular medicines
    • nicotine patches
    • e-cigarette
    • ibuprofen
  • pens
  • spork
  • tooth-brush
  • Napier ID and business cards
  • waterproofs
  • laptop and power-cable
  • paper notebook
  • electronica pouch
    • laser-pointer [1]
    • USB 2/3 to ethernet adaptor
    • miniDisplayPort to VGA, HDMI, DVI adaptor
    • USB-C to USB-2/3, VGA, HDMI adaptor [2]
    • two USB-C to USB 2/3 adaptors
    • USB 2/3 power plug
    • HDMI cable
    • car cigarette-lighter to USB2/3 power adaptor
    • two pairs of Bluetooth headphones
    • high-capacity USB battery
    • bluetooth mouse
    • 2-meter USB to lightning cable
    • UK to EU, Australia, US power adaptor [3]

Before you ask, I have spare clothes at the parental abode.

[1] because I’m an academic, not necessarily to aid bug-out

[2] because a visiting lecturer once needed such an adaptor to connect his laptop to a Napier projector

[3] mostly because it also has 4 USB 2/3 power-ports

Family misfortunes encore

Some of my reader might know that my mother has been in hospital. She was taken into Worcester Royal hospital on Friday 24 January due to severe abdominal pain, and had some procedures on Friday 31 January. These had to be delayed while various routine medications were still active. She was then transferred to the Alexandra hospital in Redditch. The Alex is the home of the specialist unit in Worcestershire that is best placed to handle my mother’s conditions.

I’ve been in Worcester since the afternoon of Monday 27 January. I’ve had to leave a lot of work in the very capable hands of colleagues at Napier, £eithChooses, Leith Central Community Council, Leith Harbour & Newhaven Community Council, New Town & Broughton Community Council and Community Councils Together on Trams. (I am doing some CC work remotely as I get snippets of time.) Huge thanks to all concerned! Continue reading

Bouncing in Bucharest (part 1)

Elly has been in Bucharest since very early on Tuesday. I flew out to meet her yesterday (Friday). My flight was due to take off at 19:00 but took off after 19:30, after a sudden gate-change from 4 to 18, because the place was at gate 17. A 3 hour 30 minute flight landed me in Bucharest Otopeni airport around 1am Romanian time. Here’s what happened since… Continue reading

What has Bruce been up to this weekend?

I’m not quite sure why I wanted to record this. Perhaps it’s to assuage some of my guilt at not being in the peoples’ vote/anti-brexit march yesterday. Anyway, this has been a relaxing weekend so far.

My reward for all of this is nut roast with roasted potatoes, onions, sprouts and carrots. You have been warned!

Saturday morning

  • Spinning at LifesCycle. We cheated slightly by travelling by bus, due to the rain. I usually prefer to cycle there and back, as warm-up and cool-down from the lovely madness. (Elly and I are on the front-left bikes of that Facebook video.)

Saturday afternoon

  • much-needed coffee and lunch
  • catching up with personal and family finances, sadly neglected for a couple of weeks due to work-pressures
  • washing our manky spinning gear. That’s the only downside!
  • tidying my desk area after weeks of needing to let rubbish build up

Saturday evening

  • avoiding watching Strictly Come Dancing
  • writing a presentation on a project I’m about to finish, so I can demonstrate the outcomes to a high-powered audience. (I think I should not say what the project is just now, but I will blow my own trumpet as hard as I can when the work goes live.)

Sunday morning

  • proofreading and commenting on a tender written by my ever-wonderful better half.
  • much-needed coffee and lunch

Sunday afternoon

Practical Democracy Project session 8

As usual, this post is an edited version of my tweets from the event. My asides are in blockquotes. Most links are to Twitter presences.

Good afternoon Twitter. I’m at the Practical Democracy Project number 8, in Glasgow’s Tron Theatre. It’s organised by Delib, and has hashtag ‪#PracticalDemocracyProject. I hope to live-tweet so long as my laptop’s battery holds out.

Ben Fowkes is opening ‪#PracticalDemocracyProject number 8. The programme is

  1. An introduction to Delib’s work
  2. Niamh Webster (Scottish Government)
  3. Ali Stoddart (Scottish Parliament)
  4. Vilte Vaitkute (Media Co-op) 
  5. panel session.

Lunch is in there somewhere. There will be a round-up of the event emailed to participants. (I’ll share it how I can.)

Continue reading

Slow and painful

Yesterday I was at Delib‘s Practical Democracy project session 8 in Glasgow. I’ll blog about the event later. However, after several months of almost no exercise, I decided to cycle back to Edinburgh.

Usually, there is a tailwind when cycling this way. However, there was a strong headwind. That partly explains why I took over four hours peddling (over 6 hours including stops) to cycle 43 miles, why my phone’s battery went flat after 35 miles, why I took drink and toilet-breaks every 10 miles, and why my leg-muscles turned to cast iron before I got home. However, most of the explanation is I am a fat, unfit git.

Photos are below the cut. Continue reading