Friday 27 January 2012

Seal in Rye Harbour

Look what I saw in Rye Harbour today! A beautiful sea heading up in to Rye. Video coming soon.

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Saturday 21 January 2012

SAS, SBS.... and SRS?

So, you've heard of the SAS (Special Air Service), and you've heard of the SBS (Special Boat Service). But have you heard of the SRS? They were in Rye last night...

SAS, SBS and... SRS?
Shame the trains weren't running, as this meant they had to come on the rail replacement bus instead...

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Wednesday 18 January 2012

Frosty morning in the woods

Last weekend I went to the woods early on a morning, and found that for the first time this winter it was actually properly frosty there, with the ground rock hard! Although I was there to do a job, here's a few photos...

frosty woodland morning DSC_2576

frosty morning DSC_2570

frosted twigs DSC_2577

Another couple of photos that might be of interest are from the bottom of the hill in Sweep Wood. Here's one from a year ago, just after we finished coppicing - note how bare the ground is:

Here's the same place a couple of weeks ago:

And this is in January, with green leaves still showing after last summer's growth! I think it's going to look great this summer....

And finally, another sunrise timelapse, taken yesterday morning. I still want to do a couple more over the winter, as I'm in the process of figuring out the best camera settings to account for the huge change in light levels through the sequence.


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Friday 13 January 2012

A couple of sunrise timelapse videos

Couple of videos from this morning, first one with my Nikon D60, and the second with my GoPro

I tried using manual settings on the Nikon this time, but still had to increase the shutter speed as the sun came up, so got some jumps in brightness. Must try a sunset some time so I can start at the bright end of the event!


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Wednesday 11 January 2012

Wilderness First Responder course dates

Remember that great First Aid course we went on a couple of months ago, with all kinds of fake injuries to practice on? Well, it's running again in a woodland near Hastings, so if you want to go on it, contact Andy at ELST The cost is £130, and I think it's well worth it!


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Sunday 8 January 2012

Carry Freedom bike trailer review

Our latest purchase in our quest for sustainability and resilience to oil price spikes is a Carry Freedom Y-Frame Large bicycle trailer. As the manufacturer says:

"Our bicycle trailers make it easier to carry by bike. This makes bikes more useful more often, encouraging more cycling and makes society healthier. "
So, having bought one, I thought it would be good to write a review including video and photos. So let's start right away with the videos, and the photos will follow with more details. First, a review of how the trailer assembles and is used:

And here's a short video showing it in use bringing 50kg of logs back from the wood, towed by me on one of our electric bikes:

Right, onto the detail... Here's all the parts that come in the package:
Carry Freedom bike trailer parts DSC_1231
There you can see:
  • The load bed, already mounted on the frame.
  • Two 20" wheels.
  • The metal bar that connects the frame to the bike, and a pin to connect it to the frame.
  • Two quick release axles, of the type used in wheelchairs.
  • The hitch mechanism, which uses a flexible piece of red plastic.
  • Velcro straps for securing loads.
  • Rubber feet to put on boxes to be carried.
  • Instructions.
It's really simple to put together, as you'll have seen in the video above. The only thing you need to check is that you have enough spare thread on a solid rear axle, or a long enough skewer for a quick-release axle. You're also advised to limit the load to 50kg, rather than 90kg, if you have quick-release as it's not as strong - you can still pull 90kg, but you might need to replace the QR skewer a bit more frequently.

Here's a shot of the underside of the load bed, and you can see where the Y-Frame name comes from.
Carry Freedom bike trailer body DSC_1232

This design allows the bar connecting to the bike to go on either side, which can be useful in some circumstances. It connects by slotting in here, then the retaining pin is used to hold it there:
Carry Freedom bike trailer frame DSC_1234

Carry Freedom bike trailer frame DSC_1237

These are the axles, pressing the button on the right makes the bit that looks like a ball bearing at the other end withdraw, so it can slide through the wheel bearing and into the frame. If you're worried about the idea of an axle only supported on one side, don't be! These are the same kind of axles that are used in wheelchairs, so they are well suited to the purpose. About two thirds of the length of the axle actually sits snugly inside the frame, so it is well supported.
Carry Freedom bike trailer axles DSC_1233

This is the hitch mechanism:
Carry Freedom bike trailer hitch DSC_1235

The bracket on the left goes over the bike axle, while the red plastic slides into the bar that connects to the trailer and is secured with the screw you can see. Don't worry about it being plastic - it's very strong, yet flexible enough to allow normal movement while you're riding.
Carry Freedom bike trailer hitch DSC_1236

Here's the finished product:
Carry Freedom bike trailer DSC_1238

Carry Freedom bike trailer DSC_1239

One thing that's particularly cool is that it takes about 30 seconds to undo the hitch, take the trailer off and replace the securing pin, and literally 10 seconds to pop the wheels off the trailer so you can store it easily!

When it comes to using it, there are a few things to note, such as keeping the centre of gravity of the load as low as possible, and also slightly forward of the axle. You also need to tie the load down securely. I used two ratchet straps, but found there was still some movement on bumpy roads, and had to tighten them up. A strap going sideways would be a useful addition next time.
Carry Freedom bike trailer IMG_0400

When towing the trailer empty or lightly loaded, you don't even know it's there - so you have to be careful to remember not to get too near the kerb! Once I had 50kg of wood on the back, I certainly noticed it, even on the electric bike! Braking obviously takes longer, so you limit your speed where appropriate. But it doesn't feel unsafe at all, there's just some odd movements from time to time, though I think this might be more to do with how it interacts with an electric bike. I'll be trying it with my mountain bike as well soon, once the spare bike brackets arrive from the manufacturer (it comes with one, but you can order more), and I expect that'll be a lot harder going up the hills! But maybe that'll be my training for the next time I do the London to Brighton ride...


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