Archive | May, 2012

50 not out!

17 May

A very mixed week for me: on Tuesday the 8th of May it was my 50th birthday…. that’s right folks, I’ve hit 50, and I’m not out!
Bar sales have petered out a little with most of the current sales being made into the USA and Canada, but this reduction has allowed me to build up buffer stocks, which I have decided to double in size. Mainly because I have work coming in from other directions, and an R&D project is beginning to show a lot of potential, and the particular area of the marketplace it is aimed at is showing some significant strengthening, with the possibility for growth; especially local growth.
I have also been commissioned to make the steel frames for eight individual kinetic sculptures that will eventually after the initial tour become one large kinetic sculpture which will then go on tour returning to the sites the individual parts have been exhibited at. This project has required me to sign a none-disclosure agreement, so I will be unable to go into any further detail until the project is completed and the individual sculptures are exhibited.
On my birthday it was a quiet and sombre day, which allowed me to plan for the future party which has now been postponed until mid July due to our waterlogged garden. So I spent the rest of another wet week catching up with orders, maintaining workshop equipment, and making a bit of an inroad into making the workshop a little tidier.
Friday arrived and I was excited all day; I had been looking forward to this Friday for over two weeks because seven of my favourite local performers were billed for that nights Friday acoustic session at the Norwich Music House … … … and what a surprise that was in store for me. Unbeknown to me, Lois had spoken to Andrew, the primary host of the Norwich Music House, along with Jo the bar manager and one or two others, and between them they had secretly organised a birthday bash for me. When Andrew had initially approached each of the individual performers and the bands, and they were informed that it was for “Gareth’s” 50th all of them had enthusiastically agreed to perform.
What a night it was; all of the regulars, and a lot of none regulars, musicians and others greeted me with an almost riotous and thunderous happy birthday surprise that I was totally unaware of happening until it was sprung upon me. Halfway through the night I was presented with an engraved glass tankard bought with the proceeds of a whip round from all the evenings’ performers a couple of weeks earlier.
As usual (well for the moment) it was raining moderately to heavily on Saturday Morning, so I retired to the workshop to get some steelwork done, whilst Lois went into the city with her friend Debbie who wanted to go shopping for a dress for a wedding she is attending in a few weeks time.
Sunday came and initially it was heavily overcast with light drizzle, and yet again we had standing water on our free draining garden. By midday it had brightened up, so Lois and I feeling absolutely washed out by both work and frustration due to weather decided to go into the city for a wander about and a social coffee & cake with friends.
It was then that we were informed that another friend of ours had died from meningitis on the Friday evening; she had been invited to my 50th party. Apparently she had fallen ill at midday on Friday, was admitted immediately to hospital, but deteriorated so rapidly that her sister took the decision to turn off her life support at about 9pm that evening. This was a vibrant, attractive, intelligent young lady, who was active in almost every art project and bicycle event in Norwich; often combining the two, and who had time for everyone; her and her friends were the ones who encouraged me to take over, organise and run Norwich AlleyCat, and to take over the organisation and running the proposed 2012 bicycle foraging outings. …… why does such a terrible thing have to happen to a young lady like this who had a whole lifetime in front of her, and who would have spent most of it doing nice things for the good and benefit of others and the community?
And to close this post on a slighlty more up beat note; a photograph taken and published in the Norwich Evening News and Eastern Daily Press, back in January (it has taken this long for a copy of the photograph to arrive in the post by first class Royal Mail) of me and a few of the Norwich AlleyCat riders.

6 May

Well, it’s official. “This has been the wettest April in the UK for over 100 years, with some areas seeing three times their usual average, figures from the Met Office show.”
Monday the 30 of April, and the sun came out for the first time in a whole month, and the temperature rose to the normal average for the end of April: 17⁰C and it gave me the opportunity to survey the garden and the work that needs to be done. By 4pm, what had been a waterlogged path with standing puddles was fit to walk upon and I even managed to dig out the old rotten fence post that had been broken off by the vandals, install the new steel post and concrete it in.
My paint store has not fared well in all this recent rain; several 5 litre cans of gloss cellulose tractor enamel and about 2 litres of buff primer have become contaminated with water and they are no longer suitable for spray application. I won’t throw away this contaminated paint just yet, but wait until the water has evaporated off and then see if this paint is salvageable; if only for jobs around the workshop, shed and garden. It may then be only suitable for brush application, but at least it will not be wasted and thrown away unless it is absolutely necessary.
The sale of 3 Pallet bars this week has given me the opportunity to have a little bit of a laugh at the circumstances surrounding these sales. The first one is regarding a bar sold into a small coastal town in the US state of Maine about a month ago. Basically someone  looked over a garden wall, and saw their neighbour taking apart a large stack of wooden pallets with one of my bars, and then asked to borrow it; and was unceremoniously told to go buy his own …. So he did.
The second and third bar sales that have made me smile concerned a remote small island community: I won’t mention where or which island, but this remote Island is about 3.5 miles long and approximately 2.5 miles wide.
This particular island has a population of about 30 people. One member of this population purchased a bar from me a little over a month ago, and suddenly that person had an advantage over the rest of the community. Very little is wasted in this community, and a waterlogged wooden pallet washing up from the shipping lanes previously required the co-operation of 2 or more people to raise the pallet up the cliff path so that it could be stripped and the material reclaimed and then shared. One member of this community has an advantage now; with the addition of a shoulder strap he can comfortably carry the bar down the cliff to the shoreline, strip down a washed up pallet and then carry the reclaimed timber back home easily without needing the help or co-operation of another islander. A second islander realised what was going on, and also purchased a bar for their personal use, so that they too had an advantage over the rest of the community. The first bar sale and its owner’s reluctance to lend it out has already had an effect on the islands population; can you imagine the consternation this second bar sale has caused within this community?   The solution to this situation was an extraordinary meeting of the community council. A resolution was passed and a vote was taken to purchase a third bar which is to be kept in the Island’s Post office-cum-general store-cum-library-cum-ferry booking office-cum-gossip exchange. This third bar will be made available to all members of the community providing that they sign it out and then back in again.
Mayday arrived, and it was good weather; sunshine all day, and the heady temperature of 18⁰C was recorded. The garden was dry enough for me to undertake some of the necessary work required for the 9 sq/mtr project, but alas the Cargo Cycles’ order book had to be given priority. However, when I knocked off for the day I did get the strimmer out and run it around the edges of the lawn and other areas of the garden where the grass has grown considerably. I also reinstalled the plastic mesh fence around the area of the lawn which I reseeded last autumn. This area has been pounded hard by Oz running up and down the garden, and hopefully it will recover now it has fenced off.
After another wet week the weekend eventually arrived, and although it was dry on Saturday, the day had to be given over to working on a steel fabrication order, and it was the boring bit that I had to do: weld prep for next week and clean up on finished fabrications with a  sanding disc in the grinder prior to painting. Alas Sunday had to be given up to spray painting so that I can ensure the gloss paint has hardened sufficiently for delivery and installation on Tuesday morning.
In a few hours time it will be May Bank Holiday Monday, and I am really hoping that it will be a fine day. However, the forecast is for very much of the same as the previous week: I only need a couple of days to get the planters assembled and filled with soil and manure!