Summer 2011

Summer comes around. I neglect things that I enjoy doing. I have all this time, yet I take so freaking few photographs. Just over a month to go until I start my final (masters) year at Pembroke. Scary. Totally.

For the moment though, this is all I can muster…

King's Bench


So I got bored, or maybe you would consider it caving in, and bought a Kindle 2 days ago. Suffice to say it hasn’t arrived yet, but that’s Scotland’s fault more than most. Apparently today is a bank holiday too. They could at least have sorted out post. Anyway, I’m looking forward to it’s arrival, and literally can’t wait to use it. I bought the WiFi only version in the end, I figured that the 3G would be good (considering it’s FREE, and global! Thereby solving the ‘find the free wifi’ game that I play in foreign countries (with mixed success)), but not worth the extra £40 as I don’t intend on travelling in the near near future and I live in a sufficiently WiFi’ed area. However I do have 30 days should I wish to change my mind.

I guess the biggest thing that I’m looking forward to is the fact that I will be able to read articles and stories that I would normally read on a computer screen on a kindle screen. Thereby making more it like paper and thus easier on the eyes. Additionally, the unmatched (among other ebook platforms) integration with Amazon will be fantastic with news subscriptions and books being delivered seamlessly! Obviously I have a few quarrels with the limited international element to it, and by that I mean that certain publications and books are not fairly (equally) priced as they are in the US (or even available in some cases). New Yorker springs to mind. For some weird reason I thought that by removing the extra international expense in getting American books and publications to the UK, the postage cost (and potentially (but more minimally) the import tax/VAT), the cost and availability would even out. Apparently not. I don’t see any digital un-free trade embargo. Sure there’s licensing issues I guess, but why should it differ so much!

Anyway, it’s scheduled to arrive tomorrow, so I will be reporting on how it goes…


Well the time of year that is my birthday is coming up (30th April for all those uninformed…) and well this one is apparently meant to be a big deal and all. 21. Crazy huh? I think it’s pretty old, well only to the extent that I don’t feel 21, but since when did a number dictate how old you felt. Surely that’s a relative thing?

Hmmm, anyhow, I have been asked what I want by some people, and so far have given few answers, other than I want a (good) surprise. But that’s not really going to happen without a few subtle hints. So for anyone reading this who actually knows me (there might be one or two of you out there…), here are a list of some things that I would be very pleased to receive.

  • The Elements of Typographic Style – Bringhurst
  • Any Michael Lewis books other than Moneyball, Liar’s Poker, The New New Thing and Blind Side.
  • A Canon EF lens. I slightly buggered my 18-55mm, and so I now have no AF lenses. Even a 50mm would be amazing.
  • A Blue and White striped waistcoat from Ede and Ravenscroft. So pimp.
  • An iPad. Unrealistic, but awesome.
  • More wonderful things will undoubtedly be added here as time progresses, but for now that’s all I can think of.

    Peace out y’all…

    Update: (I thought of more things…)

  • Espresso machine… (a real one ideally – I have to survive with a Moka Express currently), a Presso would be interesting, a La Pavoni or Gaggia lever driven one would be incredible. I just need an outlet for my free Starbucks beans…
  • Infinite Jest by DFW. Long, probably odd, but I want to give it a try. Try amazon for it.
  • New Nike Hightops. Preferably bright (garish) colours. Some of the Nike 6.0 ones are nice. ( In size UK8/8.5/9.
  • Subscription to The New Yorker. Best. Journalism. Ever.
  • Yay!

    Go To England – Get Penalised…

    Now that it’s term time once again I’ve gone back to my one post every month or so if I’m lucky. I might try and do better, but I’m never one for promises here…

    I do have lots of lovely pictures of bikes and jeans, but I just can’t get round to posting them as it just takes a little time. But maybe, just maybe soon.

    The only real rant that I have at the moment is the whole living in Scotland and going to an English University thing. Basically, because I do such a thing (probably clearly considered obscene by the Scottish government) they penalise me… Just because I want to read engineering at one of the best places possible (hint: which isn’t in Scotland) I don’t get as subsidised financially…

    Consider this:-

      If I were in Scotland, I would not have any fees, and get a meagre yearly non income assessed loan of £915 (try surviving on that…)
      If I was to live in Scotland and go to an English university, then I would pay the tuition fees (£3225 a year) and get the same meagre yearly non income assessed loan of £915.
      Even if I lived in England and went to university here, then I would pay the tuition fees, but then get a yearly non income assessed loan of £3564.

    Just consider the figures… I was just pretty shocked when I found out I was getting a solid £300ish a term, when others in the same situation here got £1000+

    Fun times…

    I meant to say…

    I meant to say last week at somepoint that I had taken some more pictures of my fabulous Nudie jeans and that I should put them up and post them etc., but I clearly forgot and well I have to go and announce them now.

    Week 4

    Honestly I don’t think they’ve changed that much recently. The spoke key that I’ve had in my coin pocket is starting to show through slowly, and the back pockets are wearing a little more, but it’s not the fastest process in the world. Maybe I need to expose my jeans (and maybe myself too) to some more rugged environments. Like a desert. Or dry rocks? Hmm, maybe even term time in Cambridge will take its toll.

    Week 4
    Week 4

    I’m not entirely sure that next week’s photo’s will be even that different as I haven’t been wearing them a huge amount this week. I didn’t want to go camping in them as, well, who goes camping in jeans? I think no-one. But I’ll see what I can do a little later. For now, enjoy the week 4 photos.
    Week 4

    And Then I Ran Out of Paint…

    I’ve recently been getting quite a bit further with my bike building… (by the way, to all those interested, this post might be a little ‘bikey’ as it’s all I can think to say right now)

    Finally (and I mean finally) I finished the sanding and stripping of the frame itself. To be brutally honest, I was so tired of the whole sanding process that I just wanted it to be over with. I’m sure I had spent at least 6+ hours on it and gone through countless sheets of sandpaper and really just wanted the design to progress a little… Though initially, when starting the project, I really wanted to make sure that the work that I did was of a high quality and not rushed, I knew that this part of it would be pretty testing. I know for a fact that I get pretty bored pretty quickly when doing certain things—sanding comes to mind very fast—and I had to make sure that I put in a decent sanding effort. But to be honest I think I did pretty well. Maybe if I had an electric sander next time, or something just a little more effective. Anyway, I wanted to get the whole project moving, so I could finish the frame part and move on to the mechanics and wheels and so on and so forth. Except that halfway through priming the wonderfully sanded frame, I ran out of the stupid red oxide primer.
    Out of paint
    I kinda knew initially that I should have bought more paint, but I didn’t realise it would be quite this serious (look at the photos! The whole thing isn’t even covered!). So I’ve now (as of this time last week actually) taken the liberty in ordering more paints. Except that I’ve used a different company (it was £4 cheaper and I think I get more paint for my money) and it hasn’t arrived. So either they’re jerking me around and taking their time (I’m someone tempted to think this (my nasty side clearly)) or it is as they’ve said and it’s delayed in the post—postal strikes—hmmmmmmm. I guess it’ll be a wait and see till monday. Not cool at all.

    In the meantime though, it has given me ample time to finish other parts of the bike. The front fork has now been sanded (not wet sanded because a) I didn’t realise one needed special sanding paper to wet sand and b) out usual paper really doesn’t work when wet) and varnished, or lacquered if you will. Anyway, it’s looking hot, and shiny. I’ll get some shots on Flickr soon.

    But that’s not all! Despite the frame taking an absolute age to complete, I did get round to ordering more parts—and behold—some even arrived! I bought a whole bunch of stuff from VeloSolo, including all the bolt on cog and Shimano M756 axle conversion kit – and with their excellent customer service and packaging skills it arrived today. Thumbs up to those guys. However now I realise why I needed a cone spanner as opposed to a regular (adjustable) spanner – one side of the axle cones may be easy to remove. But the other isn’t exactly. However I found a temporary solution in the form of filing down a slightly thicker than cone 13mm spanner to a cone spanner. Thing is though, it’s made of “drop forged steel”, and it just ain’t easy to file. I might have to get one of those real cone spanners after all. Grrrr…

    In addition to my ordering of the VeloSolo kit, I also got a chain off of Chain Reaction Cycles (haha – see what I did there) and behold, it also arrived today. So all is good except the fact that I don’t really need a chain as of yet. Though it was cheap at £5.99 – and it’s a 3/32 singlespeed chain which makes it all the better. Check out the KMC Z610 RB if you’re intrigued…

    And last week too, when I was on my ordering spree, I placed an order for some sweet slick tyres. I’m not gonna lie, they’re probably the slickest mofos that I could find seeing as they have absolutely no tread. Wet times = fun. They weren’t that cheap (try £16 a pair inc. tubes…) but then again they look so gnarley.
    Specialized Fatboys
    Specialized Fatboys (26×1.95). I just hope the company that I ordered them from doesn’t screw up too much. It’s already taking a while…

    I also got some sweet eBay items yesterday, which may or may not arrive in the post on Saturday. We’ll have to wait and see. Until then, have fun.

    Bikes Galore!

    Well I mentioned earlier that I had the whole bike thing going and that I was/am planning on doing up a couple bikes and building them etc. over the Summer just to have some fun/get my engineering side out/pass time. Well over the past few weeks I have been hard at it… Building and tinkering and buying and so on – and as a result I have a few pictures… (yay!)

    FYI, I am building 2 bikes. Originally (like back on the Easter hols) I really wanted to build a fixie (with one gear and two way drive (i.e. forwards and backwards to and from the pedals to the back wheel), but after lots of careful research about the project, it seemed hard and expensive in that I need certain (track) wheels and a certain old skool frame. Well cut forward to now, I found a nice old slightly rusty Ridgeback frame in one of the sheds that was part of a pretty old mountain bike like thing with (ghastly!) slick tyres. So I figured I should take it apart (fun times) and then build it back up again (looking much better) in a single speed configuration and a bright new colour! I used a whole bunch of information and parts from velosolo to get a mountain bike front wheel with a fixed cog attached to the disc brake attachment as the back wheel, and then a pretty thin front wheel (with hopefully some pretty slick tyres (soon to be purchased). At the moment, I’ve stripped it all down, bought some wheels and have begun sanding and painting. Enjoy some of the pictures as there will be a LOT more on their way.

    Fixie Build
    Fixie Build
    Fixie Build
    Fixie Build
    Fixie Build
    Fixie Build
    Fixie Build
    Fixie Build
    Fixie Build
    Fixie Build

    The other bike that I am building was a result of some cheap eBay purchasing and a slightly lack of hope of building a singlespeed. I really wanted to build a bike – especially a singlespeed, and when I realised that it could be too expensive and difficult, I thought that building a mountain bike would work just as well and be a similarly good fun idea. Indeed it is. So, I got this Giant frame and handlebars and such for a tenner on eBay and began doing it from there. I don’t have any pictures at the moment – and it’s raining like crazy outside,