Since taking up Longbow archery a few years ago I have been fascinated by the variety of bows available. Choosing one above another is difficult.  It is not easy to try them out; friends at clubs may be OK with you having a go with their bow for a few ends, but it takes time to get to know what is working for you.

So, I started out with a bow made by club resident guild member, Paul Reed, who had made bows for many members and others.  I acquired a triple laminate bow (42 pound pull at 28 inches). This served me very well, even taking the Surrey Longbow championship one year, and still continues to be a reliable companion.

Next, on a trip to Washington State,  I came across Curt Brisky who fulfilled my next desire with a truly traditional lovely and sinuous pure Yew bow (50 pounds pull). This was a new experience and a new love. Faster and light in the hand 80 and 100 yards became more realistic distances to shoot, albeit with new arrows (arrows are a story for another day!), and a bit of adjustment.

Then I read a review of a Adrian Hayes bow on the Archers Review blog. I was impressed, even excited by what I read. If a bow was really that good I had to take notice. Yes I know it is only one part of the equation in the bow/arrows/archer mix, but I was struggling to find form with my current mix of arrows and bows and I was ready to take a chance.

I phoned Adie and had a good chat; a few weeks later my new bamboo backed bow (52 pounds @ 28″) arrived.

First impressions were good. Very good. The extra pounds felt OK, the bow was responsive and light in the hand. Arrows shot true and suddenly I started to realise where my weaknesses were. Yes, I need to improve my aiming. Yes I need to match my arrows better to the bow(s).  But now I have a bow that in  some unspoken way reveals that to me.

It will still be a while before I understand this and start to find the right combinations of bow & arrow at the different distances. But that journey has now started. Thank you Adrian, Curt and Paul.

I have been getting in training for a 5k run. No big deal? Well, it is for me. OK, I can occasionally cycle all night, but I am not the generally known for running around, except for a bit of wild Morris Dancing in the past, but even then it was generally in short bursts and rewarded with a pint or two at the end.

So, why am I doing it?

Because it raises money to provide better healthcare for Africans; because I challenged Catherine to do the pointless overnight cycle ride and she trained hard for that, and she had done a 5k before; and partly as a challenge to myself to acknowledge and repay that effort. 

Anyway, it is happening in two weeks time on the 11th September and we are in training.  Following a Nike training plan (from nothing to 5k in 6 weeks) we are now getting to the crunch time. I started tracking the training sessions recently if you want to see how pathetic I am.

If you want to make me train harder, show support, or just throw some loose change at me then you can do that here. I try and keep my fundraising to one event a year and this is it. Stay tuned for the big day, I hope to run/jog the entire 5k without walking. This is going to be a ‘step-up’ for me!

I was starting to get those nervous thoughts about this ride a few days before the event.  Having completed the ride in 2005/(6) I know I could do the distance, I had a better bike (Trek 7.6), I had more miles in a better saddle (Brooks, of course), and I felt generally fit for it.  But, I also remembered the aches, tingles and the exhaustion that came after the first ride and this time I had a partner, Catherine, who was doing it for the first time.  I casually threw out a challenge some months ago, and now I felt a certain responsibility for her pre-ride anxiety.  But, hey, it’s the DunRun!

After spending the Saturday checking the bikes; and packing/stuffing two large panniers for every eventuality (both on my bike!); we set off to Richmond for the Overground to Hackney Central with bellies full of pasta.  There we faced the first obstacle, the line was not running as a previous train had stalled and would not be cleared for at least 30-60mins. Plan ‘B’ had to be train to Waterloo and then ride up through the city to London Fields. OK… here we go!

Five minutes out of Waterloo station one of the panniers jumped off the rack and stuffed itself between the rack and the back wheel bringing me to a skidding stop. Yikes, it looked a mess. The rack had snapped a joint at the top and was bent. The back wheel still spun true and the bag refitted (just) and we pushed on through London.

We arrived at London Fields. Hundreds, maybe over a thousand, cyclists already there relaxing, drinking and meeting friends. We pulled up near the pub and I managed to obtain a zip-tie from a stranger to pull the rack together again. I see Dave from the office and have a quick chat. And then we were ready! Final trips to the toilet (the gents queue far exceeded the ladies for once). A quick chat with James Bowthorpe; who we both saw arrive from his record beating round-the-world trip last year; before we left set the scene for long distance riding!

The first part is a long crawl out of London into Essex. At this time (8.30-9pm) the local atmosphere is one of locals & pubs preparing for a serious session. At the end of the first series of climbs we pulled into a petrol station that was already mobbed by cyclists for an extra energy bar and soft drink. Only 10 or so miles in and already ready for a break. But we soon recovered and pushed on. The day was fading by now and lights were called for as the road lighting became intermittent.

Soon we were passing through smaller and smaller towns, then hamlets , then villages, then out into countryside darkness. The stream of red tail lights ahead thinned out as the ride stretched out. Every now and then you met groups of cyclists stopped by neon-lit roundabouts refueling and waiting for friends.  Sometimes we stopped too.  It soon became a tortoise and the hare affair as one group sped past only to be overtaken later as they waited on the roadside to regroup.

Trying not to think about the distance we passed 30, then 40 miles and started to think about the only official refueling stop at Sible Hedingham.  After what seemed like an age we reached it at 1am and 50 miles in. The village hall was already crammed with a pelaton’s worth of bikes and riders. We got there in time to buy a torpedo roll to share and teas; then an empty of our bladders and a quick massage of shoulders, and we were off again at 2am.  All along the ride there was a spectral appearance of a few people gathered around an unturned bike with a puncture (or worse) being attended to  (typically comprising a light holder, a ‘doer’ and an advisor :-); a sobering reminder that we were only a flint away from that ourselves… but thankfully we never had such an adventure.

Soon after we noticed a solitary rider slipstreaming in our, by now, lonely group of two, so we chatted amiably and, as it was Paulo’s  first time, we teamed up for the rest of the ride.

Daybreak crept in at the the 70-80 mile mark, as did more hills… did I mention the hills? For every descent we seemed to climb a longer ascent. By now (4am) we were devouring energy bars (Lucozade Sports) and drinks at regular intervals.

Eventually the lights were turned off and we stopped at a lakeside carpark & toilet for a quick breather. The only litter bin in the toilet was over stuffed with bananas, food wrappers and energy drink cans – it only happens on one night of the year I suspect!

Back on the bikes for the last push  – it was mostly uphill of course! It might be only 30 miles or so, but it seemed to take an age.

Eventually we see the first Dunwich signpost (7 miles to go) and our spirits rise – definitely worth a photo stop.  The last few miles are cruel but with  strangely different landscapes to see. And then the beach looms up and we are there just after 8.30am!

We chain up the bikes onto each others and gather our belonging. The exhilarating sense of completion and dull aches compete with each other as we stumble about wondering what to do next. It has been about 12 hours since leaving with about ten of them in the saddle.

I see Dave from the office  is already cosy in his group – they offer breakfast, but the call of the cool North Sea wins out. We quickly strip to the base layers and work our way in over the shingle beach… it is cool but refreshing once up to our knees we feel the aches receding… waist high and the swell is pulling us around, a few quick plunges and we feel satisfied and head for the toilets for a wet-wipe and clean clothes (carried all the way in my bags, did I mention that?). Then for food… Dave’s offer was tempting but we were now three, and Paulo insisted on buying us full Vegetarian breakfasts from the beach cafe. Amazing efficiency from the staff saw them arrive after about 7 minutes, this must be their busiest day of the year and they are ready for it!

Honestly, the rest is a blur of truck loading (hello Duncan!) and coach sleepiness until we got back to Spitalfields Market and remounted to get home via Waterloo station again.

This time I felt a lot better after the ride than the first time, maybe it was the sea dip, maybe the leg massage when we got back, or just fitter? Now then, what about next year… !?

2009-09-26 Kirsty E Smith

I went to see an art show on Saturday by Kirsty Smith (we met accidentally some months ago in Trafalgar Square at the 4th plinth) and was fortunate to have her elaborate on some of her inspirations.  Now you can too… it has a few weeks to run yet – but try and get along on Weds 30 Sep for her personal talk:

“Find out more about her inspiration, working methods and all the complexities of making the intruiging mixed media sculptures (or” beings” as she prefers to call them) which inhabit the paraphysical place she has named Frillip Moolog. The show has been recieved with enthusiasm and visiting it has been described by many as an uplifting and joyous experience….”

18:45 – 20:00

Westbourne Grove Church Artspace, (corner of Ledbury Rd & Westbourne Grove), Notting Hill, London W11 2RW

Inspired by another ‘spot-on’ analysis from Seth Godin.  Personally, I always feel cheated by cheap eggs too.

Anyway, putting the marketing analogy aside for moment, here is my favourite way with eggs in the morning:

  • Gently crack a good quality egg (organic, free-range, etc.) into barely simmering water, into which you have added a teaspoon of vinegar.
  • Get Wholemeal/Multigrain toast ready as the base.
  • Butter it lightly then add a good smear of Marmite/Vegimite (a yeast-based salty spread) to the toast.
  • Lift the egg onto the top of the toast when done your liking (I like mine still runny).
  • Add a little pepper as required.
  • Drink quality tea with it.



I love my little Brompton folding bike.. I really do…so portable


– but sometimes I get into trouble with it.

Last night was a good example. Took it into town after work for a meeting / talk. Had a good time.

Tube back to Richmond about 10.30 then cycled back down the riverside to Kingston, The front light was failing… going down a path, something happened and the next thing I know I was flat on my back gasping for air. Luckily I landed on soil – but it felt hard. Dusted myself off and then cycled another 2-3 miles home. Felt quite shaken as I went to bed… and woke with back spasms barely able to move.

Little wheels and a high position isn’t the most stable combination.

Doctor says rest and painkillers is all I need.

Gimme that co-codamol I say!

A recent post by Bernard from the Chain Gang inspired me to think again. Why do I I tend to wear a helmet sometimes and not others.

PS. I tend to wear a helmet *most* of the time.

  • When I do, I think –  I don’t want the nasty scalp graze from the tarmac should something unexpected happen
  • When I don’t, I think – F*** it, chances are nothing is going to happen let’s go ‘as nature intended’ and play safe

So, In my opinion, it’s back to individual freedom Vs. another state decision…. and I know where my vote goes. 


Keep your freedom and keep yourself safe kids.

Needed a replacement ‘AG13’ battery for my cheapo Halfords bike computer. Happened to be picking up some items in B&Q – saw a button that looked the same called LR44 , could not recall the AG13 code, but dammit they look the same so I bought a 2-pack on spec.. (£2.98). Got home realised they were not same code… growl. Went into Kingston to buy food… looked for battery in several places but could not find one anywhere. Eventually dragged myself into Maplin… no luck, the assistant (looks up on computer and) said “discontinued”. Resign self to buying new device… 😦  

Drop in on a small independent electrical retailer on walk back and ask again.  Man says “Oh yes, you want  a ‘357’ . Same thing new code. Sell them all the time”  Deal! (£2.50 for one)  Get home. Look up code on Google…. Arghhhhhh… THEY ARE ALL THE F’ing SAME!  Yes, AG13 = A76 = LR44 = 357 

Feel like a wally for not checking before I buy (can get a 10 pack on t’internet for under £7) and feel crushed by complexity again. 

How come the world agrees on ‘AA’ & ‘AAA’ (for example)  but not on these button types?

I didn’t take many photos – emotions were sombre.


Let’s hope the ceasefire holds and justice resumes.

When I got a contract 4 months ago from ‘3’ I chose the Nokia E71. I had wanted a top-end phone after years of using very basic devices. I chose it mostly based on comments from Adam Curry and James Whatley. The phone was great – did everything I| wanted and it didn’t make it hard to do it either.

So, when some rum got spilled on the keyboard last night (well technically it was about 2am this morning!) I was a bit concerned. Picked it up and turned it over to let gravity do it’s job… dried it off and left it near a radiator to dry overnight. It was still working then.

I eventually woke up next morning, tested the phone and found some major issues… the space bar was not working or miss-keying, the right scroll was repeating, etc… I was starting to get worried.

Plan ‘A’ – Use good old electronic contact cleaner pressure spray to give those keys a quick degrease. Right? Turn phone off, strip out battery, remove SIM etc. 2-3 second spray…. leave for 4-5 minutes to dry (like it says on the can) and then reload.

Result? No better.

Now I am really getting anxious. I had turned down the insurance at the time I took out the contract (like you do right?), so now I was looking at £300 to get a new unlocked phone 😦

Plan ‘B’ – Repeat plan ‘A’ with more spray, lots more (maybe it didn’t get to the right places first time). A good 5-10 second inverted spray over all the keys.  Leave to dry for 5-10 mins. Reload – MUCH WORSE! Now many keys don’t feel right, all soggy not a firm click. :|((( Unload the phone again leave to dry even longer.

Start to tell contacts about the problem and to switch back to spare mobile account number for now.

One friend tells me she put her phone through a full washing machine cycle and it came back to life after drying for several hours. Advises not to panic – give it time.

But I am thinking… this phone is f*******! The spray probably melted some inner plastic membrane and it is not going to make it… start looking on eBay :-0

Leave phone hanging over radiator for an hour, retest… maybe a little better action but nothing significant…. 3 hours later, retest… small improvement on some keys. 8 hours later it almost feels normal again…

Reload, reboot and BINGO!  All back and working.

I am truly relieved and humbled by the resilience of this phone.

Now… do I need to reconsider that insurance? I think it was 23p a day.

Anyone else had similar experiences?