Monica on the Greenspeed GT3

We recently went to the 'Get Cycling' show in Nottingham. The show looked, at first site, like it wouldn't occupy more than half an hour or so - but it was such good fun.

What made it was the range of cycles one could try out - without a lot of the usual hassles associated with this sort of thing. You could just get on and ride.

We both had a go on recumbents, Monica sticking to three wheels, whilst I tried two. Monica also got back onto two wheels for the first time in many years, which was really good to see.

She absolutely adored the Greenspeed GT3, and it was hard to get her off it!

Midnight DIY

Last night, at about half eleven, Monica was the last to come upstairs. She called up to me 'I can't get into the living room!' I went down expecting to find something was jamming the door on the far side, but the handle was broken. Specifically, the handle would turn but the catch would not slide across.

I took the handle off, hoping that it was the square shaft that had failed, and I could turn the lock manually. No joy, something had failed in the lock mechanism, meaning that the shaft wasn't connected to the catch.

We had a few options. Forcing the door was out of the question as it is a glass panelled door, this left us with cutting out the latch and cutting the frame to allow us to slide something in. I tried the old credit card thing, but due to the frame this was pointless.

I worked on it whilst Monica got tools from the garage (fortunately her keys were not in the living room), and after much fiddling (which consisted of turning the square shaft back and forth) I found that the shaft occasionally caught something in the lock. I could not get enough of a purchase to release the catch though.

After a while the square socket that the shaft went into in the lock mechanism was displaced, and I could see a couple of mm into the lock system. I could see the lever the shaft connected to. Some brute force and ignorance with a screwdriver saw the door open.

The next job was removing the lock itself to prevent recurrence. An easy job, I thought. No. It would not be removed. However, once I discovered this the lock was about 1cm out of the door, and so needed to come out to avoid someone catching themselves on it. It would not go back in.

Eventually, after much brute force I pushed the lock INTO the hole a little, and then it came OUT.

What had happened is that a piece of metal which pulls back the catch had snapped, disconnecting catch from handle. To make the job more interesting once the door was open, the mechanism had an opening at the top, and so this piece of metal jammed into the wood of the door inside the hole, holding it firmly in place, and holding it ever tighter as I tried to remove it. Pushing it in released this piece of metal.

This is not what you need at midnight.

Fortunately, I did not have to cut the door or frame.

My driving test

Well, I've just taken my driving test (was it number four or number five, I've lost count) and unfortunately I have failed yet again. I failed on three things:

1) Very early on in the test, a mistimed signal approaching a roundabout (there was a side road on the right before the roundabout and I signalled well before that - I didn't even see this road, which is rather bad of me);

2) Approaching an oncoming car, there was a parked car in front of me. I slowed down too late and I stopped far too close to it, which I realised was wrong but by then it was too late;

3) On a large roundabout near the end of the test, my lane discipline went to pot and I cut across into the lane to my right and in front of a car in this lane turning right. I wasn't aware of this until the examiner told me, which worries me. By this time I wanted the test to be over.

I assumed I had failed because I thought I had stalled three times, but the examiner only put me down for one clutch control fault. I'm pleased that, although I did get particularly nervous a couple of times, I managed not to be afflicted by "left leg shake" (which is really horrible, I can tell you) and generally managed to keep the gas going (which has been a problem in previous tests). There were a couple of times when I almost stalled but managed to recover. I had twelve minor faults (with a maximum of fifteen permitted and no more than two of any particular fault).

My examiner, by the way, was the least favourite one I've had. He had absolutely no personality and refused to talk at all, except to give instructions. He had a really annoying way of saying my name, the last syllable of which he uttered a crescendo: Mon-i-caaaa! He also kept repeating his instructions as if I hadn't heard or wasn't obeying him as quickly as he wanted. For example, after I had pulled up next to the kerb, he asked me to "pull away when you're ready, Mon-i-caaaa", then repeated these words two seconds later, making me feel rushed. Hope I don't get him again!

I don't feel completely spaced out after this test, which is also good. My swim after work last night must have helped to keep me calm and certained got me off to sleep earlier than usual. My instructor is suggesting that I book a lunchtime test slot next time and go for a swim in the morning - not sure about this, as I don't know if I can face eating lunch before my test but will get very hungry (and risk feeling hot and dizzy due to low blood sugar) if I don't.

Skimble the cat is now walking all over the desk and making it rather difficult to type! I'm going to chuck her off, rebook my test straight away so I don't prevaricate, have some lunch and go outside and enjoy the sunshine.


Closeup of Monica in the HammockThis weekend we went to visit my Dad up in Lincolnshire, and today we finally put up the Mexican hammock which I got for him last year. It's jolly good, although we did find out the hard way that when they say to be sure there is nothing that can catch the hammock, they mean it. It's very comfortable, but we did break some strings which had to be repaired due to a rivet in some jeans. These things happen, the repair was made and the hammock is up!

3D model of the wife

3D model of the wifeMonica went to a lecture where a 3D computer model was made of her head. The model arrived today. This picture is a composite of various views of the model.

Essentially two photos were taken at different angles, and the 3D model was extracted from them. The resulting model is able to be viewed from any angle, and is very cool indeed.