Monday, 29 June 2009

Killer bees and suicide squirrels

Typical. The BlackLOG that gets the most comments is based around toilet usage (there was me thinking I had a more sophisticated readership). Checking around the web it would appear that sex is the only subject that draws in more followers and comments than toilets. I'm sure you will be delighted to hear that I'm not desperate enough to attempt to grow my readership via the sex route... Imagine the anxiety caused if I did and my readership fell rather than grew? I might end up with premature blogging issues or, even worse, become an impotent blogger. Is there the equivalent of a little blue pill for bloggers who are unable to get a post up?

Killer bees and suicide squirrels
Recently I have been reading the horror stories surrounding the plight of bees in the UK and how they are being mysteriously wiped out. Up to now I have been sympathetic to their cause (even going so far as to eat more honey as a show of solidarity with the buzzy brethren). Well that's come to an abrupt end I can assure you. I was cycling along, minding my own business, when I felt an excruciating pain in my right hand. It was so painful it almost made me crash my bike. I also managed to rake the back of my calf with my pedal as I slid to an abrupt halt, causing myself even more pain. I looked down to find a bee spending its last moments on earth attacking my hand though my cycle glove. So that's it. No more support for them pesky bees. No more extra jars of honey snuck into the shopping basket, they are now on their own. Good luck and one word of advice - wiping yourself out on innocent cyclists, at a time when your species is facing oblivion is worthy of the animal equivalent of a Darwin Award.... Which brings me onto squirrels. Not sure what's going on with them. A couple of weeks ago one shot out in front of Mrs B on her bike and missed being crushed by inches. Well this week a squirrel went one better when it ran in-between my front and back wheels, which was most impressive as I was doing around 15 mph (it was on a hill) at the time. Is there some bizarre
squirrel right of passage thing going on....

Special mention goes to our friend Kirsty who somehow managed to flip over her own handlebars on our ride yesterday, very impressive on a straight bit of road. I was not actually looking at the time, so only saw the resulting crumpled remains. Without any other evidence I strongly suspect another daredevil squirrel manoeuvre, albeit one which went wrong. Either that or are these possibly Al Qaeda trained squirrels whose mission is to bring down infidel cyclists.

Is this the mystery face behind the Al Qaeda
squirrel plot to bring down cyclists?

I can't believe I didn't see it, for once I was behind as the little scamp had taken advantage of my ailing bike - I think I managed to bend my derailer (the bit of metal at the back of the bike which changes the rear gears) the result was that it was like riding my bike in top gear through treacle, especially tricky on uphill sections. Even Mrs B, a steady but hardly lighting quick cyclist took advantage and rubbed it in by coming back to see where I had got to. Oh the shame....

With my bike ailing Mrs B & kirsty
take the opportunity to leave me in
their dust....Thanks guys.

Bee attack update - Three days after the the attack my hand is still sore
- I hope that it's not going to end up like a Spider-man scenario, after he got bitten. I can't see special bee like powers being of much use - The ability to cover people in honey and dying when you attack anyone, hardly seem like sexy superpowers to me....

quote of the week
My sister had just returned home from Holiday and had been burgled. I went over so that she did not have to face it alone.

As she stood in her ransacked living room with loads of spaces where her TV and other electrical items used to be, she reached into a recess and pulled out her iPod........

Sister - "Thank god they didn't find this!"

I looked at her and asked "Why on earth did you not take it on holiday with you?"

Her reply "I was frightened I might lose it...."

Me - "You do realise that as you say that you are standing in your burgled house surrounded by none of the items you used to own......"

L2B Training update - A second go at the Flitch Way
Continuing a nostalgic view of our 2006 London to Brighton bike ride

Having convinced some friends that they should join Mrs B and myself for a L2B training session, I spent the week monitoring the weather forecast for the Bishops Stortford area. With increasing despair, I had seen Sunday's forecast on the BBC web page build up from light drizzle, progressing through full drizzle, light rain and finally to heavy rain. I had bribed our friends with the prospect of burnt offerings after the bike ride and, surprisingly, some of them actually fell for it, although the semi-sensible people managed to come up with excuses. Alison had a Doctor's Certificate, Deirdre had a sick note from her mum, excusing her from all forms of exercise while John claimed that he had washed his bike's wheels and could not do a thing with them. They did however volunteer to put their stomachs through the arduous work out, that is one of my BBQs.

Typical Black Household BBQ
1) Mrs B buys the food.
2) Mrs B makes the salad, prepares the vegetables, and makes dessert.
3) Mrs B prepares the meat for cooking, places it on a tray along
with the necessary cooking utensils and sauces, and takes it to Mr B who is
lounging beside the grill - Coke in hand.

Here comes the important part:


More routine....

5) Mrs B goes inside to organize the plates and cutlery.
6) Mrs B comes out to tell Mr B that the meat is burning. Mr B
thanks her and asks if she will bring another coke while he deals with
the situation.

Important again:


More routine.....

8) Mrs B prepares the plates, salad, bread, utensils, napkins, and sauces
and brings them to the table.
9) After eating, Mrs B clears the table and does the dishes.
And most important of all:
10) Everyone PRAISES Mr B and THANKS HIM for his cooking efforts.
11) Mr B asks Mrs B how she enjoyed "her night off."

For those of you who have seen a similar BBQ article before, I am claiming that I have not stolen it, but I’m doing my bit for the environment and I am in fact recycling it.

In an attempt to save more lives, Mischief
attempts to takes possession of my BBQ.

Mrs B's clicking pedal, a left over from last week's ride, appeared to have gone on vacation(1) and my trip computer functioned like it always does, when not actually required (naturally it went blank as soon as we set off for the ride proper, and only started up again after much hitting and swearing). As a precaution I got up early Sunday morning and set up the gazebo for the BBQ and then prepared our bikes. Every time I wheeled one of them out of the garage it would start to spit with rain, only to stop when I wheeled it back in again - one of those days, ha! - Once again the weather forecasters covered themselves in glory and the heavy rain turned out to be a couple of drops, for encouragement purposes only.

(1) It had only been with us for a week, I thought you had to have worked a couple of months before taking up holiday entitlement, shows how much I know...

So It was 6 brave souls (or 12 soles if you like, none of our friends being deficient in the leg department) for the ride:-

• Mrs B of course, up for any challenge as long as it does not involve mushrooms, dried fruit or Daddy longlegs' and preferably not early in the morning. You may recall that she fell off her bike a couple of weeks ago when she got her feet trapped in the pedal straps, she admitted to me on the way home from the ride that she had almost done the same again, some excuse about seeing a mini tornado or something. A couple of minutes later and Mrs B was down again, not particularly funny in itself except Mrs B thought she had got away with it. She was up so quickly it was like she had bounced, but I just managed to see it out of the corner of an eye. I'm kind of an expert on this type of behaviour, since I've been using the same technique for years when skiing. Inevitably Mrs B knows, but it never stops me trying to get away with it.

• Ash, our team leader for the L2B ride, and still responsible for a ridiculously early start of 4am (he certainly won't be Mrs B's favourite person on the 18th June) likes to talk to anyone and everyone and enjoyed himself by frightening fellow travellers of the Flitch Way by saying a cheery hello as he passed. This is guaranteed to frighten the average Sunday stroller. I've tried the same tactic myself and can confirm it's great fun, especially if you follow it up with a big manic grin.

• Mitch a friend from our local Gym. Mitch managed to avoid signing up for the L2B so I'm doing my best to make him suffer along with us. He might be older but is much fitter then me, so I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to achieve this. I probably should have just let his tyres down and dropped his saddle but technically that's like undoing his laces during Body Combat, he's got a bad habit of doing it back.

• Stephanie, our Picture Pimp(2)(PP). For some reason PP's saddle was set very low, giving her the appearance of a Praying Mantis. Since her bike had been purchased from the same shop as ours it did not have a quick release mechanism for fixing the saddle height or any standard sized bolts for that matter. Unfortunately none of the tons of bike tools I carry with me fitted the bolt securing the seat bolt. PP may have survived the bike ride and burnt offerings but I suspect she may have been suffering the next morning. The effort she had to put in was probably twice everyone else's and having not ridden for a while there is a strong possibility she may never talk to me again. I did however come through with my promise that she would not get wet. I feel any mud that she received from Rob's bike bouncing antics can hardly be deemed to be my responsibility (see below).

(2) Purveyor of fine art to the Black household

• Rob, PP's new man(3). We discovered more about Rob halfway along the route, at a point where you briefly leave the Flitch Way, because of a blocked tunnel. You get to make a tight right hand turn and ride up a fairly steep bank, cross a quiet country road and then scramble down an almost vertical slope on the other side. This comprises a narrow path with steps on the right and hawthorn bushes to the left. To top it all, a branch stretches itself invitingly across the path, about halfway down and deliciously at head height. Last week Mrs B and I struggled down using the steps and wheeling our bike beside us. Jokingly I said to Rob "You going for it then?", next thing he was off sliding and pitching dangerously from side to side, until he safely reached the bottom. I merely mentioned that he had lost marks for putting his foot down, he was up the slope again and this time did a clean run. The rest of us sheepishly trudged down using the steps. Turns out our Rob is an ex-Marine, stunt man and part time film extra(4) so all this stuff was probably a bit tame for him.

(3) I can't quite decide whether to call Rob Tigger or Zebadee. Rob did not so much as ride his bike but bounce it along the route, it was only after I had a quick go on his bike, that the reason become clear. It had more springs on it then an average divan bed and was lighter then a walnut whip, it was just not built to stay on the ground. I was quite enjoying myself until I touched the brakes and almost catapulted myself over the bar. My brakes work on the "sound" principle, -I touch them, nothing happens so I scream and hope that everything gets out of the way, quite effective on living objects but not so on inanimate ones or deaf people. I don't think Rob missed a puddle on the road back from the Flitch Way to Bishops Stortford. The rest of us were waiting for that comedy moment when he would launch into a puddle and vanish up to his arm pits.

(4) He even had a nodding part in the Oliver Stone film, Alexander. I'm sure he would have got a speaking part if only he could have carried off the requisite Irish accent. Somehow Angelina Jolie was exempt from the accent rule. Rob lost a bit of kudos when it turns out he failed to meet up with the luscious lipped beauty.

• I made up the sixth and final place and managed to embarrass myself as ever. I was so busy advising people on gear selection, that when it came to the right turn followed by the steep section I was not ready for it and failed to change down in time. Inevitably I ground to a halt and tipped gently sideways, causing a 5 bike pile up behind me.

After our initial conversation Rob had thought I was some sort of bike expert, I had read a bluffers guide to cycling and managed to drop some jargon into our talk. He later confided that he was suspicious when he saw our bikes, but thought we might have been riding them for a bet. Oh the shame of it all.

As a post script and probably to get his revenge for being bored, Rob threatened to take Mrs B and I rock climbing. The first thing Mrs B did when she heard this was double my life insurance policy and then went off to sharpen some knives?

Post post script - Rob and PP never did take us climbing

Have a good week; hope you feel better than me. I'm suffering from man flu(5), so don't get too close to the page.

(5) Basically a heavy cold but when introduced to a man's finely balanced constitution, comes across like the end of the world as mankind knows it.


  1. I've just thrown out my Haagen Daaz "Honey Bee" all profits go to the bees ice cream. I hope your hand feels better.

  2. Nikki what can I say, your show of solidarity is much appreciated.

  3. For those of you who have seen a similar BBQ article before, I am claiming that I have not stolen it, but I’m doing my bit for the environment and I am in fact recycling it.

    But I've read it before!

    And don't worry about suicidal squirrels, they are after all just rats with tails.

  4. Sounds like your squirrels are playing 'chicken' - so pedal faster and reduce their numbers while you still can. They are so bold - if only they didn't have such big, gorgeous, dark, pleading eyes...John shot one at breakfast time the other day. Blew a hole in the lawn, but got the squirrel - dampened my appetite. Sad news with L B Dog - but just waiting for you to meet replacement models - fudge and treacle...they are well cute! Please don't persecute all bees for the actions of one rogue hive member - who knows where he was indoctrinated - probably part of a tiny cell...

  5. IMO voice over from the Sainsbury's advert) - "This is not just any old re-hashed article, this is a genuine Mr & Mrs B recycled article" So you may have read "similar" before but I feel it has been improved by the gratuitous sprinkling of Mr & Mrs B through out

    On the subject of squirrels I'm not so much worried about any damage to them but the damage that would happen to our bikes and secondly our bodies if we hit one at speed.....

  6. Skipper I just need to train them to throw themselves onto our BBQ, rather than at the bikes. I'm sure I could create a new BBQ source for the occasion, hazelnut flavour would probably be appropriate....I bet Tufty (of the Tufty club, tireless road safety campaigner) would approve of squirrels ending up on skewers (especially grey ones, he was after all a red squirrel) rather then splattered across the highway......

    As for the bee - I did not so much as raise a hand to it, it managed to take itself out all by itself.

    Saw the Treacle & Fudge photo's on your blog, very cute. We could have them for dessert after the Squirrel burgers......

  7. How very fragile the loyalty to the bees. Their very existence in peril (not to mention the peril to the existence of honey drizzled on toast) and you turn against them from the (possibly accidental) sting caused by a rogue member of the group. Having been headbutted by a number of large flying insect myself (thankfully not simultaneously) when out cycling, I think it's fair to say cyclist are quite the hazard to insects. I still support the bees. Their pollination efforts do not go unappreciated and we get to steal their honey too.

  8. Welcome anotherblogger I can assure you it was an unprovoked attack. As for the honey drizzled over toast, I've always been more of a Marmalade man if I'm honest. Marmalade comes with the added bonus that I have never heard of anyone being attacked by an orange.....


Your Social Comment

This is just your opinion so feel free to say what you like...