Sunday, 4 April 2010

On buying the elephant and other matters

There is an older woman in my home town who is a retired anesthetist and therefore no slouch intellectually. However, she was reluctant to start using in the Internet as she was afraid that she might wake up one morning to discover that she had bought an elephant on-line! This was a tongue in cheek expression of her fear of getting carried away by the excitement of the Net and doing something outrageous.

I mention this as last weekend in a flurry of activity, I booked all my accommodations for my North Britain trip up to and including Edinburgh. With the exception of two places, all of this was accomplished over the Net and included ordering breakfast at one place and buying a ticket to a museum! I worry slightly that I have planned too far ahead and that if the unexpected arises I might find that I have painted myself into a corner. In this way, I might have "bought the elephant." Then again, I generally have been pretty good about planning these bicycle tours, so I probably won't have a problem.

On installing a Christmas present

My Father and I were rummaging through his basement yesterday looking for some small wheels, when I noticed that the mudguards I had given my sister-in-law Dominique for Christmas had not been installed. As the weather seems to have decided to skip Spring and go straight on to Summer (yesterday's high was 29), and I had always intended my gift to be installation comprise, I moseyed up the street to Philip and Dominique's house with the mudguards and Daddy's bike tools.

Dominique's bike already had mudguards on it, but in back they were fairly high, leaving lots of room them to spray the person behind her with dust and mud. As said person is often my niece Désirée, in her trailer, in my capacity of Official Doting Uncle (or ODU), I had got mudguards with greater coverage. Anyway, in order to get to Dominique's bike, I had to get various other bits and pieces out of the shed, including Désirée's trailer. Dominique used the occasion to re-adjust the trailer to Désirée's ever increasing size as well at to check if Désirée's helmet still fit her. My niece was quite happy to try out the trailer. Indeed, it was evident that she wanted to be taken for a ride. However, neither Dominique or her bike was quite ready.

As I write this, I realize that Désirée remembers the trailer from last summer which is relatively remarkable as she only turns two next week! (We are celebrating her and Daddy's birthday at lunch today.) I don't think I knew small children had such good memories.

On parental encouragement

I was surprised at how much my parents are excited about my North Britain trip. To my mind, it is a less ambitious trip than say either my ride to Newfoundland or across B.C. However, it is a fun trip (or at least should be), so maybe they are living vicariously through me.

On a possible further acts of ODU-ness

As I have mentioned previously, one of the places I intend to visit is the Tailor of Gloucester House. I had been thinking about what souvenir(s) I might purchase for niece and nephew. This morning as I was preparing my breakfast, I noticed a Peter Rabbit bowl that had been put out for Désirée which led me to the idea of looking for a Tailor of Gloucester bowl(s) for Désirée or Edward. (Gloucester would come at the end of my trip so there is little in the way of weight issue.)

On why I say North Britain

Some of you might wonder why I use the term "North Britain" to describe the location of my upcoming trip. The answer has a couple of strands. One is that it is simpler than saying "Northern England and Southern Scotland" which is where the "real" biking will happen.

The more complicated reason goes back to the days when I was working on a Master's degree in Scottish History. The period I was studying was the 18th Century. More particularly, the phenomena known as the "Scottish Enlightenment" when Scots such as David Hume and Adam Smith blew the English out of the intellectual water. They deliberately eschewed notions of Scottish-ness in favour of a larger entity, namely Great Britain. They preferred to see themselves as "North Britons" rather than Scots. There were philosophical reasons for this as it assisted them in opening up their minds to new ideas and pushed aside easier, conventional notions and custom. Cynically, it also made it easier for them to gain access English patronage! In honour of these men, I therefore borrowed the rough concept of "North Britain" and apply it to my needs.

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