L2B preparation


The london to Brighton is tomorrow so it is round to Rory’s to polish the car, which is a 1903 Humberette. As usual Rob and Rory were bickering over doing it earlier next year. Rob impressed us all by making a brass bolt to replace a missing one. We also discussed helping me make a panorama bracket for my camera.

It was soon polished and shiny.

The Humber is a British automobile that dates its beginning with Thomas Humber’s bicycle company founded in 1868. The first car was produced in 1898 and was a three-wheeled tricar with the first conventional four-wheeled car appearing in 1901.  The Humber, like many other Marques, evolved from a company which had originally made pedal cycles.
The first cars had two- or four-cylinder engines, but the tiny single-cylinder-engined Humberette succeeded them. The name Humberette literally means ‘small Humber’.  The Humber was a sturdy and well-made machine that carries a useful payload under very little power. A Humber would have been displayed as one of the many European cars presented at the Louisiana Exposition
held in St. Louis in 1904.
Under the Humberette’s hood is a 611 cc, 5 HP, automatic inlet, side exhaust valve 1-cylinder engine with a 92.1 x 92.1 mm bore and stroke.  At a weight of 650 pounds, the Humberette can travel at a maximum speed of 25 mph.  The rear driven vehicle uses a Longuemare float-type carburetor. The Humberette features a De Dion style of front-mounted water-cooled engine, with a leather-covered cone clutch, a two-speed gearbox controlled by levers under the steering wheel, as well as drive shaft to the rear wheels – the last being a real novelty in the early 1900s.

Chris Packham load of old snot

Went to a talk by Chris Packham at the John Collet school in Wendover this evening. He is a very good public speaker and his enthusiasm for his subject matter is inspiring. The talk was loosely based around his passion for photography with a sprinkling of interesting facts about the animals and bird kingdom. Birds featured a lot, which is always a plus point with me.

He also did a really good job of putting across his usual message, which is that we should try to make the most of what we have around us and go a look at nature for what it is, don’t just go out there to get the ticks. He is a great advocate of promoting the less promotable species that need help. The door mouse already has lots of money ploughed into it’s conservation and it is a boring mammal, what about all the other less cuddly species that need help for example Britains rarest mammal the Black rat!

A couple of the things I remember well are his story of how when he was young he found a blackbird carcass which was being buried by grave digging beetles. He dug it up put it in an aquarium and sat it on top of the TV. So for a few weeks he could watch the beetles as the buried the blackbird. he also did a section about animals that get rid of excess slat in their snot, and even birds that live of the snot of other animals when times get harsh.

At the end he had a bit a a rant and asked everyone to get the kids out and about exploring nature, because unless that happens then they will not grow up to have the respect for nature that it really needs in the age of disappearing habitat.

The Devils Pinch

I have been meaning to do a post about this for some time. Helen and I did a Minsmere guided tour and the guide told us a bout a feature of reeds I have never noticed before. If you put your thumb and forefinger either side and the base of a leaf and then let the leaf slide through your finger you will notice about one third of the way up that there is a bump or ridge across the leaf. All leaves have it.

The guide told us that it is colloquially known as “the devils pinch”, which I think is a great name, somehow fitting and very colloquial. Ever since then I just can’t help running my fingers only the leaf as described above, to feel for the feature. It is just compulsive and impulsive.

I have done some googling on the subject but cannot find any reference to reeds. Some of the things I found are:

  • There is a canyon some where in Austalia, on the Wolgan River, in Katoomba with the name. Apparently a bad accident with a team of horses pulling logs happened then in the 1870’s
  • A few references to marks on the body similar to liver spots.
  • References to a feature in a cave, perhaps where it gets really narrow, again a good name for such a place.

So now we have a reference in the reed’s Devils Pinch. I wonder how long it will take to start appearing in Google searches.

Rose bedeguar gall (Diplolepis rosae)

On my way to work this morning I noticed a Rose bedeguar gall, so I thought I would tell you all about it. What it is is a sort of ball of hairy growth found on rose plants, in this case I think it was a Dog Rose in the hedge row.

Apparently they are created by a type of wasp called  the gall wasp (Diplolepis rosae), they lay eggs in the leaf buds and when the larvae (almost all female) hatch and they start to eat the leaf bud then some magic happens. It is not full understood but it is belived that a chemical is realesed that causes the plant to grow in the strange way it does, which provides more food for the growing larvae.

The fully developed gall was used in days gone by a a medicine, to cure baldness, and cure a toothache.

If you want to know more why not check out Wikipedia. Picture blow show a new one from this year and an old one from a previous season.

Gall wasp new
Gall wasp new
Gall wasp old
Gall wasp old