Thursday, 13 April 2017

Ode to the Easter Bunny

The Easter Bunny ambled in to Starbeck
Oddly for a vegetarian mammal it brought eggs,
It left them somewhere safe and said.
"Den access is not what it was, check it out small humans."
Then enigmatically but helpfully,
"Its all about the Last Straw."
Then he took himself off for another year.

Posted on 02:26 | Categories:

Thursday, 6 April 2017

A few specifics then Councillor Broadbent

It's election season, Starbeck is to have a new County Councillor after the frequently politically useless Liberal Councillor DeCourcey Bailey leaves the theatre of Harrogate politics. I only accuse her of being politically useless because she seemed to be totally reactive at her best, or mostly actively inert even when her residents were asking for her help, on issues her party supported. Phillip Broadbank is the new contender, I got their Party Leaflet through the letterbox yesterday and a wonderful mix of policy-lite soundbites and meaningless waffle it was too.

I would like to vote Liberal, hard as my heart is I can't support the Tories, they represent the dark side of armegedon in my mind coupled with all that is tooth and claw in human nature. Thing is I really need a few specifics form Councillor Broadbent before I can help vote him into office in Starbeck.

Will he commit to lobby actively for increased bus priorities on the Knaresborough Road? Will he try and progress the Harrogate sustainable transport plan which puts a cycleway Harrogate- Knaresbrough (via Starbeck) but seems to have ground to a halt in the Hands of Rebecca Burnett and Richard Cooper.

50K of public money has been spent on this where is the report? Do we have funding or have we just thrown the money away? Will he seek to find out?  If he says he wants to explore sustainable transport options.

Will he do something about some form of youth provision in Starbeck? A youth club, youth worker or bike project or perhaps skills training working with Carl Nelson at Veloheads in Starbeck who already does some of these things with kids, just not ones form Starbeck that kind of thing. If he says he wants to fight to reduce antisocial behaviour that would seem like a concrete form of action.

I'm sure I can think of a few others but that will do for starters. Over to you Phillip.

Posted on 08:03 | Categories:

Thursday, 30 March 2017

In the world of Harrogate Borough Council this makes sense

Begin forwarded message:

From: Harrogate Borough Council <>
Subject: Response to your Bins and recycling enquiries submission
Date: 24 March 2017 at 14:41:44 GMT

Dear Rachael Prince

Thank you for your enquiry, received on 23 March 2017.

I appreciate that you returned the bin at the time it was offered, but once a bin has been refused, it is not possible to re-issue it. The garden waste service has been reviewed and restructured to make it more equitable for all residents, and it will be offered in the first phase in 2017 to those who currently use the service and then extended to other residents in 2018.

It is not simply a question of providing the bin, but of being able to provide sufficient vehicles to empty the bins.

The garden waste service is a non-statutory service, which means that your council tax does not include a charge for it, so you are not being charged to receive a different level of service from your neighbours and they will of course be charged from June 2017 if they wish to opt into the service.

If you need 
to contact us again about this enquiry, please quote your case reference FS-Case-20074126.


Customer Services
Harrogate Borough Council
PO Box 787

email: contact us
tel: 01423 500 600
Posted on 01:43 | Categories:

Thursday, 24 November 2016

How to make a Nidd Valley Beanie

This hat is crocheted using two different colours as a twin spiral.

You will need two standard balls of Aran weight yarn. One dark grey,  one yellow, I used Drops Alaska Dark Grey Mix  and Rico Essentials Sun yellow  along with a 4mm crochet hook, I like the knit pro Symfonie hooks, other hooks are available.

Most of my pattern is blatantly stolen from the Moriaty hat on little house by the sea  from whom I also nicked the pics (didn't seem a lot of point taking my own), but I have modified it as I find I get a hat that is too small otherwise.

When I crochet, I work the stitches pretty tight, I get an almost felted effect as I firmly snug the yarn up after each stitch.

Notes on sizing

I have an average size head and am pretty baldy, this hat fits snug with 120 stitches as the crown circumference.

If you crochet loose you might want to drop the 2 double crochet increases in round 18 and just double crochet into each stitch. Alternatively if you have a big head with thick hair or want a loose hat you could repeat round 18's 2 double crochets on round 19, you would then have 130 stitches and a bigger hat.


dc means double crochet

Shaping the crown

To start: with your dark grey yarn make an adjustable ring (this is just a slipknot) by making a loop with your yarn with the tail end of the yarn in front of the working yarn, insert your hook into the loop and draw the working yarn through, then chain 1.

Round 1: dc six times into the adjustable ring, then pull the yarn through so you have a big loop and remove the hook – remember to do this on every round so that you don’t accidentally unravel your stitches.

Round 2: Join contrasting yarn into the adjustable ring, pull the ring closed, then dc twice into each of the stitches in the previous round. (12 stitches)

Round 3: 1 dc into each stitch of previous round. (12 stitches)

Round 4: 2 dc into each stitch of previous round. (24 stitches)

Round 5: 1 dc into each stitch of previous round. (24 stitches)

Round 6: 2dc into first stitch, then 1 dc into next stitch. Repeat until end. (36 stitches)

Round 7: 1 dc into each stitch of previous round. (36 stitches)

Round 8: 2dc into first stitch, then 1 dc into next two stitches. Repeat until end. (48 stitches)

Round 9: 1 dc into each stitch of previous round. (48 stitches)

Round 10: – 2 dc into first stitch, then 1 dc into next three stitches. Repeat until end. (60 stitches)

Round 11: 1 dc into each stitch of previous round. (60 stitches)

Round 12: – 2 dc into first stitch, then 1 dc into next three stitches. Repeat until end. (75 stitches)

Round 13: 1 dc into each stitch of previous round. (75 stitches)

Round 14: 2 dc into first stitch, then 1 dc into next three stitches. Repeat until end. (93 stitches)

Round 15: 1 dc into each stitch of previous round. (93 stitches)

Round 16: 2 dc into first stitch, then 1 dc into next 4 stitches. Repeat until end. (111 stitches)

Round 17: 1 dc into each stitch of previous round. (111 stitches)

Round  18: dc into first stitch, then 1 dc into next 11 stitches. Repeat until end. (120 stitches)

Crown shaping is complete.

Main body of the hat

Continue to alternate your colours by dc into each stitch as before for 14 more rounds. It helps hide the transition to a single yarn if you chain 6 stitches as you switch to working a single colour yarn. You will see what I mean when you get there.

If you have enough yarn you can then work 8 rounds in black or yellow as you choose to make the final coloured band at the base of the hat. I ran out of dark grey so I did 5 rounds in Grey and then 3 in yellow.

Weave in all ends.

This hat fits half way down my ears and over the eyebrows, if you want longer do a few more rounds.

Finally dip in some warm water and plonk on head to dry and block it into shape.
Posted on 09:12 | Categories:

Sunday, 23 October 2016

To do nothing would be stupid and dangerous

What if we had money to improve Leeds Transport along a gridlocked road corridor and had evidence that the current road layout was killing and injuring people disproportionately but we did nothing about it? That would be bonkers would it not?

So here we are, the Otley Road corridor into Leeds resembles a carpark at rush hour which is bad for drivers. It  makes Leeds a clean air black spot. It holds the buses up and as this new map of cycling casualties in Leeds for the last five years shows. It appears to be injuring more than it fair share of cyclists.

This is a bad thing and as of now there are no plans to do anything to change this lamentable situation. You can't make this stuff up.

What if you put a park and ride on the available land by the ring road. Improved bus priorities into the city and made them electric. Fitted a segregated cycleway so people could park and ride (bus or bike) and you funded it using some of the £175 million quid you have from your failed trolley bus scheme? That would be better for everyone.

If you wanted to drive  in you could, but if the buses where good or you fancied the bike you would. That's the experience from the rest of the world anyway.

So why wouldn't you do that Leeds City Council and Greg Mullholland MP?
Posted on 03:01 | Categories:

Saturday, 22 October 2016

The price of Sucess

Sam's Idea I acquiesce. Horton again, not long after dawn, sun is out, mist on the tops, a great day. Yorkshire's Three peaks is the target. I'm easily the least able member of the party which includes a dangerous Rickard, but nothing ventured, why not?

We start well, Penyghent gives in easily. 40 minutes sees us on top in the mist and making good time back towards Ribblehead, now in full sun, the miles tick by on good undulating tracks but mainly down. Sam is stamping out a good tempo. 10 miles in at the tea shed, all is well and nearly half distance done.

We take Whernside direct. It is steep, boggy and unrelenting. The ridge looks a good way off. There is a keen wind chilling you down as the slope steepens to hand territory at the top.

Sam is shouting the odds, threatening my death over route selection but he should be quiet, he is way out in front and unlike me can still speak. Matt is keeping him company as I hit my VO2 max and engage crawler gear.

The top is a windy freezer, no place to linger. I shuffle off to the valley, but the writing is rapidly on the wall. My legs are cold, solid and empty and sub 10 minute miles are but a memory of past glories, even though only an hour ago. I am the shambling man.

I stumbletrip down the track but I'm barely passing walkers, cramp is kicking off leftrightleft. Sam and Matt are now walking faster than I can run. We chat, they know the undead when they see it and I persuade them to keep going, I will self-rescue to the pub. What a trooper.

So here I am, there is a log fire. I contain some very nice sausage and mash and I'm just starting my second pint. I should be annoyed at a poor effort but that's the furthest I have run post op and the pace was ok. Even my disappointment is tinged with happiness.

Oh and Matt and Sam get to run a negative split on the last leg and smash 6 hours.

There is still a lot of work to be done by me, some of my long term goals look distant, but I have come a long way in 7 months after major surgery. The price of ultimate success is initial failure and I now know where my limits currently are. Good Day

Location:Horton in Ribblesdale

Posted on 08:02 | Categories:

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Doing the bike thing

I have been the cycle support Officer at Leeds Beckett University for two years now, dream job. When I tell my friends what I do I get a look of benign tolerance or "Is that actually a job?". Honestly it's great. I get people riding bikes so they are active and their Co2 and NOx emissions are then so low as to be not worth mentioning. I have discussed adherons and detecting anthrax in the blood whilst changing brake blocks and I have got tops tips about where to ride and climb to last me the rest of my life. For a year or two more, until my kids hit secondary school this will do nicely.

In previous lives I have driven a CAD machine to design robots, project managed a few heavy industry jobs and spent a decade at the chalkface in secondary education. All had their rewards, this is better.

We have a little more than a 100 bikes, that we hire out to students. £50 the academic year which has got to be the travel bargain in Leeds. Lots of our international students take advantage. I wish more Brits would, I'm working on that.

We help fix staff and students own bikes in our workshop one at the Headingley campus. One down in the city which we share with Leeds University. You never know what will come into the workshop next. Generally you can help and when people realise they aren't paying for labour often they are delighted.

We have quality facilities on campus, lockable bike cages, showers lockers. All things that make a cycle commute more viable. We have staff pool bikes, one of which is electric. I would like some more of these, they play well with people who might cycle but don't. Much has been done, much more needs to and will be done.

I am part of a great team at Sustainability a few of which help me directly. Jason the transport planner and also my boss is a cycling nut too. He gets involved with bike stuff as well as all the other things in his in-tray and increasingly is getting his hands dirty in the workshops. More importantly he is helping shape long term planning as I'm often in the workshops getting bikes under people. Esme is our intern and is turning out to be a social media wiz so hopefully we can get the message about what we do out to even more people.

We are lucky to have an excellent team of volunteers at both sites, who give up their time because they love what we do. Because they like to do some good and learn how to keep their own bikes in good order. Ultra volunteer Kathryn is soon to start a PHD in Hamburg, over peak hire period in the city she has helped every day and made this super busy time fun rather than a trudge.

If I have frustrations about my role its that you can only take what we do so far. The biggest barrier to people riding a bike in the UK is the perceived danger. It's safer than you think, but in Leeds with its poor cycle infrastructure and car-centric design that fear is ever present in many. We desperately need improved cycle provision on the Otley Road corridor into town. That more than anything is the single thing that could make cycling an easy and obvious choice for many more people. Leeds has £175 million to spent on transport after the trolley bus went the way of all things. Surely we can find 10% of that to spend on walking cycling on one of the busiest routes into the city that is nothing more than a linear car park at rush hour on weekdays?

Leeds needs political will now to make a difference like great world cities already have. More than ever this dynamic city, economically vital to the region risks grinding to a halt at rush hour, as last century's engine of choice belches fatal fumes into it's air. We can do better than that and we have the money to make that happen. I'm doing my small bit, who will help me do more?

Can the two universities acting together lobby local government to bring about a change in transport policy that would make Leeds a nicer city to live in. One where the population would also reap the massive benefits of activity that lead to longer lives that put less strain on our health service?

Before this turns into a rant let me finish by saying. If you are needing your bike fixed, If you need to know about facilities on the campuses. If you want to know the best routes through the city and there are best routes even if non are great, If you want to hire, borrow, buy or improve a bike. Or if you want to volunteer and help us make our city more sustainable Email

If I can help, I will.

Posted on 07:55 | Categories: