Monthly Archives: July 2013

Sunday 21st July 2013.

The recent sun and high temperatures deemed Mrs. Condor hunt around for a couple of garden chairs – so that we could: ‘sit out in the sun…’. Usually, I’ve found, when you do something ‘because of the sun’, the sun disappears!
Mrs. Condor got chairs yesterday. Hence, today is…
Yes, it is a bit cloudy, and much cooler, so far today in Radcliffe. But that made the early bike-ride more comfortable if anything, and, being Sunday, there were few, if any, cars about.
So, the streets being clear, early-on, a few pictures of the flower displays could be (easily) taken. Then later, the wild display, along the canal, also very quiet, was another photo’ opportunity.

Saturday 20th July 2013.

Sunny again this morning for the bike ride but there was a nice, cooling, breeze. The traffic, around Radcliffe, on a Saturday morning before seven, is very light; probably a good time for those rescuing an old bike from a shed wall-hook, to actually venture a road or cycle-route for the first time. A mile or two is enough at first, (especially for us geriatrics) but, after a months or so you’ll easily manage more. The best way to get into it quickly is to ride every day. That’s seven days a week, for about half an hour, when you start, to about an hour, later. A circular route is a good idea. Before setting-out do a quick bike-check – cables (gears, brakes) and tyres. Usually a working bike will be just the same, when you get back, as it was when you started. It’s not really necessary to carry a full kit of spanners and tools when doing a short circuit. I’ve had one puncture in well over a year’s circuit-cycling – and even then the walk home wasn’t a problem. But a bike that’s used daily will need a bit more care than one hardly used and a few pounds spent on good, durable, parts, regularly, is the cost-effective way. In winter mudguards are a real boon, but cycling on ice isn’t recommended!
From Radcliffe, by Ye Olde Town Hall, Ye Olde Canal runs; north to Bury, or; south to Little Lever. The Bury route is newly surfaced for much of it but the south tow-path is cobbles and/or a flat but dirt track. (really muddy for the ATB riders when it’s raining!) Each part of this path is about three miles long and is ideal, being flat, for any cyclist, young or old. Google Earth is fine for a general route-check and there are, here and at oopart.co.uk, many photographs taken along the Radcliffe and surrounding (oopart) cycle-routes, for those as yet unfamiliar with the rides. Free Cycle-Route maps are available at local libraries too.
Enjoy – especially while it’s sunny!

Friday 19th July 2013.

An easier bike ride this morning as the old pedals – one of them broken – have been replaced with a far more solid pair, and the handlebar grips – old Diamondback stuff that hurts your hands – has been exchanged for Ergonomic Velo. ‘Small’ things like this make a big difference as the miles add-up. The grips, with the ‘side-bars’, are extremely comfortable in all hand positions – about ¬£20 at Amazon, not sure if that’s plus postage, probably is.
So it was easier getting down to Radcliffe early-on to take a look at the now flowering Hogweeds by the Radcliffe Times building near the town-centre. They are enormous – eight feet or more tall – and the plants stretch down to the river a few yards away. But surely a well-paid council ‘co-ordinator’, dressed Armani, of course, will have no trouble ridding us of this invasive pest.
From Church Street to Bury Road – little car-traffic early – and then back along the canal. The new pedals; hexagonal, clear translucent, were much more ‘positive’ compared to the bog-standard black-plastic cheapo’s fitted to most bikes when sold.

Thursday 18th July 2013.

Another tropical morning here in sunny Radcliffe. Apparently the council have been putting-up warning signs re: Giant Hogweed. The signs show a photograph of a typical Hogweed flower-head. (Not one of my pictures that they’ve used without permission. Attribution, Bury council, attribution!) The Hogweeds by Ye Olde Radcliffe Times building are awesome! Yikes! The news is on your doorstep!!!
I have been toying with the idea, again, of ‘moneytizing’ this website. That means putting pictures of bike parts here with paypal price buttons next to them. The idea is folk buy things, via paypal, and you post them off. But, have you ever tried wrapping a bike wheel? Or a tyre?
And the cost of a small cardboard box and a roll of sticky-tape is frightening – not to mention postage. (all those pensions!!) I blame the High-Street myself. It’s killing it for us Internet Mail-Order bods.
But, here, it’s not all bad news. The latest detergent is a purple liquid and you put it in a plastic ‘bottle-cap’ – picture one today – and then put that into your washing machine. The design of the bottle-cap, for washing purposes, is probably irrelevant, but the design for another use is absolutely spot-on. In fifty years I’ve never come across a better design for this purpose.

Wednesday 17th July 2013.

Warm and sunny for the bike-ride again and, at Warth, by the Archimedes Screw, (on a ‘go-slow’ at the moment) is a building-beam that was, I hear, rescued from the river. The ‘Screw’ is over 10 metres long and that old beam easily matches it. There must have been some fair old trees around here at one time.
Nearby ‘native’ pink weeds flower along, what was, the river bank, while, across the river, Hogweeds on the far bank, by Warth Bridge, are dying back after spraying. On this side, along the stream-beds, the Hogweeds flower profusely.
By the railway bridge (Lattice, Monkey) the next profusion of invasive non-native plant life is beginning to bloom. Himalayan Balsam. It’s harmless but takes-over everywhere with its two-inch thick (or more) stems and wishy-washy pink/white flowers.
Some of these plants are ten feet tall by the Irwell near Close Park. They crowd-out everything else.
From Warth it’s only a minute or two, under the Monkey, up the steep track, and you’re on the canal tow-path heading back to Radcliffe.
Much of the canal is covered in light-blocking Duck-Weed, but there are one or two stretches of water free of it.
These stretches are quite clear and the below-surface ‘oxygenator’, Lagarosyphon (I think, Major) can be seen. Does the Lagarosyphon, an energetic oxygen ‘maker’, keep the Duck-Weed in check? Or is it that the hedgerow, tall Hawthorns here, shades the canal surface from the sun – hence no prolific Duck-Weed?
Then again, in a few weeks it’ll all die back as winter approaches.
A correspondent confirms that Hogweed warning signs, with an illustration, have been posted at Close Park. Take care if walking the tracks by the river near there – the banks on the Close and Springwater sides are infested with the massive weeds.
Along most of the canal – the northern part; Radcliffe to Bury – no Hogweeds seen. So biking and walking along there, apart from the Nettles and brambles, is okay.

Tuesday 16th July 2013.

Once again a warm bike outing this morning. I had a look for signs referring to Giant Hogweed plants but saw none. Mind you, the Himalayan Balsam is now on the ascendency. This stuff is harmless and has pinkish, whitish flowers which give a wishy-washy look to the plant’s colours. Our native weed, in pic one, has a much better, vibrant colour. And that plant, although a pest in a small garden, isn’t overly invasive in the wild.
What may be a problem, at the moment, is the mass of Duck Weed covering much of the canal water. This is the small-leaved blanket that seems to be everywhere. The weed isn’t toxic or anything, but the blanket cuts the light from the (stagnant) canal water and, thus, plants below the surface can’t photosynthesise. Some plants blacken and die. Fish too. (Lack of Oxygen – excess CO2. In daylight plants take in CO2 and ‘exhale’ Oxygen – especially water-plants. At night the process is reversed – Oxygen in, CO2 out. When Duck-Weed covers the water, below it is perpetual night.) Other Senior Cyclists have mentioned a ‘milky’ look to the canal water – has something been dumped into it? It’s always possible, but the milky look may be due to an excess of C02 in the water – which is, too, stagnant. Pond-keepers like a growth or two of ‘oxygenaters’ in their ponds – a good one is Lagarosyphon Major. (There is a growth or two of this along the canal.) And, for good measure, a pond fountain or splashing water feature is added to oxygenate the water. This stagnant mode, of the canal water, may be the reason for the build-up of Duck-Weed. When in normal use the canal water would be changing, due to locks at Little Lever, which would give the water a small ‘flow’. This prevents some plants from getting a root-hold and they’re washed away. The passage of boats, too, would disturb plants trying to root.
The canal is a man-made barge road and not particularly a wildlife feature, things ‘natural’ will get ‘out of step’ from time to time. So an ‘unnatural’ surface dredge may be the best way to clear the blooming Duck-Weed for a time. Long-term a ‘flow’, to the water, may help too. The Duck-Weed will die back naturally, later in the year.
Strangely, there is an old tale that a lump of natural carbon, (coal?) put into water, keeps that water pure…
A myth surely, but, bearing in mind what was, at one time, moved along the canal by the ton, interesting all the same.

Monday 15th July 2013.

Warm and sunny (again) for the bike ride this morning, but such weather seems to intensify the smell of internal-combustion if you venture a main road – it was particularly bad by the Town Hall lights today.
During the ride today a fellow Radcliffian Senior Cyclist, himself pleasantly amused by the size and scale of Giant Hogweed plants locally, imparted that some warning signs, re: the plants, have been placed – probably by the council – at strategic points, and some of the seed-heads have been removed from the stems. The basic idea is:
Don’t touch Giant Hogweed plants.
The problem is that these things have been growing for a few years and have reached seeding ‘strength’. And there are thousands of them, currently seeding, in Radcliffe alone. The Irwell banks, at the Close Park area, are, literally, a Hogweed plantation, in fact much of the Irwell banking, in our area, is affected by Giant Hogweed growths. The ‘dry’ canal areas at Hinds Lane in Bury and at Little Lever, where the canal is without water, are both affected by Hogweed. Be careful if walking or cycling in these areas. The ‘in water’ areas of the canal are, as far as I can see, unaffected, as yet, by Hogweed infestation – but Himalayan Balsam, to us harmless, is increasing its ‘pitch’. Along the canal just watch out for Nettles (three to four feet tall at the moment) and yards long thorny bramble runners. A rubbed-on Dock leaf will counteract a Nettle sting.
The Senior Cyclist also informs that the Heritage/Sculpture Trail from by the asda roundabout in Radcliffe, is, from after Ringley ‘filled-in’ brick bridge, now surfaced with tarmac – I must go see but not sure when yet. The tarmac goes to the motorway bridge area and is, in that direction, nicely downhill.

Sunday 14th July 2013.

A very sunny Sunday morning for the daily bike-ride and, as cars aren’t much of a problem on a Sunday, I toured a few main-roads. I’ve passed Radcliffe Tower quite a few times and never thought to take a picture or two, so, being nearby this morning, I turned-off the main drag to take a look.
It’s an ‘old relic’ nowadays, but at one time it was a house.
More or less adjacent to the Tower land is Close Park and, this morning, this was a semi-planned visit location. Close Park entrances, mainly, are along Dumers Lane and, from there, the park stretches back to the River Irwell, and this was the area that I had come to visit.
Grass six feet high almost hides the tiny footpath track, from the park lanes, that brings you to the banks of the River Irwell. Across the slowly moving river water, as far as you can see in either direction, massive Giant Hogweeds, their ten-feet-high flower-heads brightly white in the sun, line the banks in a several yards thick swathe. To get close to the river bank on this side, I’ve rested my bike against the two-inch (or more) thick stems of ten-foot-tall Himalayan Balsam plants. Sadly, with the sun directly facing me, pictures of the Hogweeds, across the river, were, at this time impossible to get.
So, after taking a pic from a park bridge, at a watery but Hogweed-free scene, it was back to the roads and a circular route, back along Bury Road to Warth, and from there along the canal to Banana Walk.
We can build massive houses, like Radcliffe Tower, even build canal and railway structures that rival anything built of megaliths, in our Earth evolution eye-blink, but when it comes to ‘controlling’ natural-organic plant-life (like Hogweeds and Balsam) – we’re, usually, beat!
Strangely (imo), when you’re able to actually see the size and scale of really invasive, yet at the same time, impressive, foreign growths, being beat isn’t always a bad thing.

Saturday 13th July 2013.

The streets of Radcliffe were deserted early-on, which made the morning ride traffic-free but chilly, along Deansgate, by the Bike-Park. (Yes, Bike Park. See pic one.)
I’d come to down-town Radcliffe, this morning, to check on the forest of Giant Hogweed plants, growing ad libitum, next to the old Radcliffe Times building. They are awesome. Fully eight feet tall with several flower clusters and with leaves two feet, or more, wide.
These are growing about twenty feet or so from the pavement along Church Street West. Right next to the pavement (which is tarmac) there is a newly shooting Giant Hogweed plant amid the demolition rubble, and general litter, thrown on the spare ground.
This plant will re-appear for a few years, growing each year, until it’s big enough to flower and make seed, then, after shedding 20,000 or more seeds, it’ll die.
The flowering plants shown here will die this year. But by then they’ll have re-seeded the whole area making it almost impossible to rid the site of the invasive pest. And this is along, remember, a main road here in Radcliffe.
It is just about possible, for those sole-traders so interested and trained, to make a few pence by repairing and/or selling bicycles. One or two such firms may do a cycle-hire scheme. I’ve never thought this a good idea; particularly in the North of England. (For a one-man-band that is.) And, to be honest you don’t see many, if any, firms so advertising. Why? There will be several reasons, most of them related to viability.
So it comes as no surprise, to anyone in the cycle and cycling business, that the London Boris Bikes – ostensibly a ‘business’ concept, i.e., they should make money – are costing tax-payers a small fortune! The idea is good – the bikes are good. No problems there. So, what’s wrong?
Perhaps it’s because the Boris Bikes, as a business, are ‘sponsored’ by a bank and operated on governmental guide-lines – which are also used to fund and ‘run’ the country. The country is in hock to over a ¬£trillion so the financial woes of the Boris Bike’s are, simply, as expected!
But why do non-business folk – such as Boris (and that bank), assume that when they attempt to make a profit (or, let’s face it,even break-even), in a field of expertise not greatly favoured by real entrepreneurial types, let alone rank amateurs – bother?
Simples. O.P.M. Ego.
Coming soon – HS2.
Trains or bikes, they’re all of a muchness with an amateur’s ego and a bottomless pit of extorted O.P.M.

Friday 12th July 2013.

The good, sunny weather is holding-up well; it was really warm again for the early ride around Radcliffe. I’d heard, a while back, that Ash trees were dying because of some ‘virus’ or other and, recently, I’ve heard the same about Oaks. There are quite a few young Oak trees alongside the canal tow-path – there’s one in the first picture – but they look green and healthy to me, the older ones, at the Bury end of the canal, are massive, their branches more or less covering the water from one side to the other.
Close to that Oak in the first picture, Elder trees are flowering – picture two.
The wild grasses and weeds – Nettles and Brambles – beside the tow-path, are four-feet high, with some weeds ready to flower. There are: horses, cattle, sheep and several water-birds about and the travel, along the tow-path, is usually unhindered even if it’s busy. And there are no internal-combustion exhaust fumes befouling the air. Walking requires no special equipment, except good shoes perhaps. Cycling requires a reasonable bike – a few pounds? Yet, not far away (geographically) hundreds, possibly thousands, of internally-combusted vehicles, pump all sorts of gases into the air as they stand, traffic-jammed, in the centre of Radcliffe, for over an hour, each morning and afternoon. There is a TV advertisement for one of the more ‘popular’ private cars – an Astra, (?) the one shown around twenty thousand pounds…they sell umpteen of them. Many families have two – or more.
There’s nothing wrong in owning a car. But just think of the cash saving, if a faster, unhindered transport mode was used, even just for getting to and from work, when the weather was fine, as now, for a start.
And slowly, as you ride a bike more, you not only get and stay reasonably fit, you learn to recognise a tree – or two!