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It's not completely out, but I think there are enough flowers to count this (photo taken on Saturday 5th April) as the start of hanami, the festival of cherry blossom appreciation; which is of course tinged with sadness due to the concept of mono no aware at the fact that such beautiful blossoms come into being only to exist for a brief time before falling away. It's a bit like contemplating a snowflake, how they're all different, and... it's gone before you can even think about the processes happening in the clouds to make them happen.
At least I have a camera. It doesn't do justice to the beauty of these flowers, but the images will persist for a lot longer than the petals.


Une hirondelle ne fait pas le printemps

A French proverb that states that a swallow does not mean it is Spring. Well, they arrived on Saturday afternoon, and I've seen about a dozen. So if one doesn't mean it is springtime, will twelve do? ☺
Also, since last week, the Chaffinch is back. Yay! It's oft repeated call is annoying (chirpy-chirp CHIRP chirp! (see videos I've made of it)) bbuut somehow this place seems so much lonelier without a Chaffinch, fussing Swallows, and the endless chatter of the Sparrows.
Thank [whatever you believe in] that it is springtime and everybody is home for the summer.


Speaking of which, the LPO (French RSPB) has sent mom me an email. They want me to open up the potager/garden (officially designated a bird refuge) for the "Fete of nature". Which, because of current events, is planned to take place when all the birds have up and left - October 7-11.
They would like activities and such to be held. Well, I'm not averse to that. Here's a big bramble scythe - get to it!
You know, the only person to ever take us up on that was Mick. In the course of a few short hours he kicked bramble ass and made it look the sort of effortless that made us wonder if we (mom and I) were just doing it wrong...


A lovely weekend

It was wall to wall sunshine and baking hot (well, 19ish but felt an easy 25+ in the sun). I planted up a few things in the morning (tomato seeds, some sunflowers, some basil) and basically did nothing except sit in the West Lawn with chocolates and a book.
Almost did the same on Sunday, but Wawa felt that two days of sun was a little too much so I had to be the parasol wrangler while she sat. Huh. Lucky me.


Eurovision 2020

Is not to be.
Because a bunch of people from different countries on a stage together, plus a large audience... bad idea when there's a nasty communicable disease doing the rounds.

That said, I'm not so sure I like the EBU's response. They plan to do something (as yet undefined) to honour this year's competitors. But since this something will be done, the songs won't be eligible for entry next year.
I dunno about you, but I'd be pretty bloody annoyed if I was an entrant. I mean, there's a billion years of Eurovision history to draw upon, plus I'm sure Mans/Petra could come up with something to fill the remaining airtime that would easily be the highlight of the show. So why not just join the Olympics and slam on the brakes, just do it next year.


Boris is Borked

While I wouldn't wish for Johnson to suffer from COVID-19 (because that's just cruel and karma has a way of revisiting), it is somewhat difficult to feel too much sympathy given that everybody was told to stay the f... at home and to practice social distancing. And he, the exemplary and irreproachable leader that he is, led by his own example. By going to the Commons as usual, by holding Cabinet meetings as usual, and by shaking hands with everybody in sight.

I'm not averse to getting rid of Tories, but let's do it legitimately okay? Endure five years of their balls-ups and then take it to the ballot box.


A day at the garage

...has left me €320 lighter. However the mechanic put in a good six hours. Taking the engine out, checking the gearbox, including changing its oil and sifting through the old to make sure there was no indication of problem (bits of metal). Nothing. And, of course, putting the replacement variateur on.
It wasn't the best day for me. No, not the cost. The cost was scary, but then I got home and checked my balance to discover that I have more in savings than I thought so it's swings and roundabouts really. Plus, it needed done as Felicity was starting to make some worrying noises as the old one spun up (out of balance).
No, the problem was that I arrived at 9am and the mechanic said he was done just before 5pm (or was it after? I forget...). The entire rest of the time I stayed in a little portacabin. I didn't have tea or breakfast as I didn't want to have an issue of needing the toilet. So I was grumpy too, without tea in me. Let's see, I watched the first episode of Tales From The Loop, two Derren Brown specials, a film called Viral, and read about half an ebook.
All for this bit of shiny:

As an aside, the mechanic spotted that a brake line to one of the front wheels was broken. It wasn't leaking, but only a matter of time before it goes. And when that happens, brake fluid and pressure comes out rather than going to the brakes. That's not a good thing. So I've ordered a new line and I'll take it real easy until it is fixed. To be honest, being aware of that (the thing is wrapped in a plastic shroud, he must have given the car a good check over to have found it!) is almost worth the price. I mean, imagine what would happen if I had no idea, came up to a roundabout and put the brakes on and nothing happened? Well, it still might, but now that I'm aware of the possibility I can do things like slow right down (engine slowing) on approach to roundabouts and such.

In use? Felicity still makes a lot of noise and vibration, but different to before. It's like you can hear the engine rather than the jingly scraping noises of the old part. But more than that, I'm going to have to relearn how to drive. I used to put my foot down a fair bit at the start to get things spinning up to enough speed to engage the mechanism and get the car moving. Now? Doing that and I'm off with a jerk. This new part engages much more readily. Also, driving home, I glanced over to my phone (doing duty as the GSP speedometer) and was like holy crap I'm doing fifty! and my foot wasn't even all the way down. Nor did the engine sound particularly stressed about it. So it's more... what's the word... nimble?

Unfortunately the speedometer hasn't been fixed. I bought a new cable (it was not expensive, not a big deal) but it wasn't that. The mechanic thinks it is this part (indicated) that converts the rotation of the gearbox to a rotation for the odometer cable.

I'll need to rummage around the web to see if I can find a cheap one. Used is okay, so long as it works.


Work tomorrow. At least, with Easter, it'll be a long weekend. I'm tired. I'd like to what a Ghibli but they're long and I just don't have the concentration. I might start Guns Akimbo and see if that keeps me interested, or if I just fall asleep before the clock makes it to 11...



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David Pilling, 7th April 2020, 22:50
There once was a case where someone drove right through the middle of a big roundabout - the sort with landscaping, so his car stopped there - drove is perhaps too strong a word, he didn't want to go there, inertia did. Anyway the brakes failed, and the subject then is how do you stop if the brakes fail. For a car with gears, it's relatively simple, put it into first gear and let the clutch out. Or maybe just turn the engine off. 
In the good old days when car maintenance was something to do be done at home, getting spare parts was just a trip to the car breaking yard. Possibly not so easy if you have a rare car, but rare cars usually use standard parts from mass produced cars. Door handles on a Lotus come from Morris Marina and all that. 
With Eurovision, let them all sing their songs, call it quits and have a new one next year. 
Otherwise where does it end, FA Cup 2020, played in May 2021. They are already mucking about, waiting till the end of the year to finish playing the last few games of the season. 
Ooh or you could apply the handbrake which usually works on a different system - not pleasant stopping with the handbrake. 
Rick, 7th April 2020, 23:00
Guns Akimbo - oh my god that was a weird movie. And perhaps a little bit prescient?
Rick, 7th April 2020, 23:08
Yeah, it's a sort of automatic (ish). You can see from the pictures above that it is a constantly variable transmission, the two sets of discs move towards each other (engine side) or away from each other (gearbox side) in order to change from big wheel-little wheel (starting off) to little wheel-big wheel (max speed). 
Oh, and the gearbox isn't. It's called a "pont inverseur" in French, no idea what that translates to, it's basically an agreement to allow the car to move in reverse. 
So, in case of a need to have an emergency stop, it might need to be a handbrake stop. Which is better than no stopping at all. 
That said, it's worth noting that my car does 30mph flat out, so usually in times when brakes are needed will be doing less. It's not like I'll have to lose 80mph in a hurry. 
Roundabout "crash" - that wasn't in Swindon in the mid '80s was it?
Rick, 7th April 2020, 23:13
Where does it end? 
Allow me to quote Ayreon: 
# I can't believe it really happened 
# It's all slowly sinking in 
# I left behind a hopeless race 
# To fight a war they cannot win 
# My petty life, it seems so trivial 
# A whole world is about to die 
# If all those billions fade away 
# Then who am I... to stay alive 
[Condemned to Live, The Source] 
David Pilling, 8th April 2020, 17:43
"pont inverseue" inverter bridge 
No the roundabout was not in Swindon. Swindon is home to the mighty "magic roundabout" 5 mini roundabouts in a circle around a sixth. 
The A590 has a thousand stories and the car going through the middle of a roundabout was one. The next roundabout along has another good story, kids stole a bus, managed 20 miles of A590 and lots of hazards, but they came to grief there, took out half a dozen trees, buried a bus in the embankment in the middle. 
How to stop with no brakes is one of those things one does not practice. I've read in the driving books that one can get a car off a railway crossing using the starter motor, am I likely to try that... 
There's a lot of stuff about braking, "I'll hit my clipboard and you do an emergency stop" which is all good fun, but sometimes breaking is not going to save you, whilst steering around the obstacle will. 
See if you can drive round this row of cones at 70 mph - is not on the curriculum. 
Jeff Doggett, 9th April 2020, 14:43
It's no longer possible to move a modern car using the starter motor as most of them insist that the clutch is pressed before the starter will turn. 
I did try doing it in a Mk1 Escort many years ago. Worked rather well...

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