Sunday, August 01, 2010

'Built to invade inferior nations':encounters with British machinery

Or so Bike magazine heralded, as the subtitle for the review of Triumph's Sprint GT. A bigger bike than needed, a tourer, but still, a Triumph. I prefer the atavistic (but not too) charm of the Bonneville.I found the magazine at a roadside cafe magazine stand on the way to Stratford upon Avon, and, lacking reading material with decent pictures,grabbed it. The announcement in huge type NORTON IS BACK was the clincher. Apparently they are revived and building . British motorcycle manufacturers (most notably Triumph,BSA, and Norton) have a complicated , entwined history. These sometimes quirky motorcycles are attractive examples of British machinery.

A simpler device was encountered in Stratford upon Avon . We were touring a cottage garden when I spotted a potato with large feathers around its circumference suspended on a string between two thin stakes. The wind would catch the feathers, and the spud would spin , and the feathers would presumaby scare away birds. Marvelous! A fascinatingly simple machine. and a clever solution to a problem.

Once the bus (no, coach, RR, must get the nomenclature right) fetched up on Windermere, there were two encounters with very different machinery. We were milling about waiting to board a ferry when I saw two teenage boys, about 15 or 16, readying their homemade raft. It was made from some plastic drums on which they had placed a very comfy looking love seat. Of course, I had to go over and check out their cobbled ( no,RR, bodged; this is Britain) rig. I asked who gets to go first, wished 'em luck, conversed briefly,then went about my business. I do not think the enthusiastic young men would have listened to an adult warning as to the (lack of) sea worthiness of their setup. I hope it turned out well for them, gotta admire their initiative. Rejoining the herd, I heard a distinctive sound of turbo props, buzzing not very high off the deck. It was a pair of RAF Shorts Tucano trainers, maybe 50 feet off the water,heading North. Several of these snappy trainers were seen throughout the day. This aviation geek's day was made later when a trio of aircraft flew over, albeit at a higher altitude. One was a Tucano, and the second was a Eurofighter Typhoon, pretty sharp for a kerosene burner. The third, I swear, was a Gloster Meteor. I am pretty good at aircraft ID, and the day was hazy, but that is my story and I'm stickin' to it. There must have been an airshow in the vicinity.

I encountered a piece of British machinery later with a more mundane function. After washing my hands I dried my hands using a Dyson Airblade. I have seen a Dyson air multiplier on sale in the States.It is a clever update of air movement technology replacing fan blades with airfoil technology. The Airblade, once one places one's hands in the machine, scrapes the moisture off the hands using a precleaned jet of air. Very quick and effective, no trying to find a place to wipe half dry hands after using this device. I swear, I was very thirsty after using the device. After using it, I jabbered about it to the Missus to the point of tedium, I'm sure.