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Sep 2011

Aidan's First Bike Ride

First Bike Ride
Happy Chap

We went out on the bikes this afternoon. In my case, it was pretty much the first time this year, which is shocking when I look back to how much I was out with Nathan last year. Once I’d done the maintenance on Jill’s and my bikes (tyres, brakes, oiling the gearing) we reattached the baby seat and tried Aidan in it. He fitted well, and wasn’t bouncing around. Nathan was taking his bike out too, stabilisers and all.

Where's Mummy?
Pausing for breath, Nathan looks back for his mum.

We set off, and ended up on the Harland Way, the old ‘Beeching-ed’ rail line from Wetherby to Harrogate. Aidan was happy as Larry, but Nathan was moaning a little about his legs needing a rest. Nathan was also pretty hard to distract from blackberries in the hedges.

Here she is!
Jill arrives, having had to shove Nathan up the hill!

Nathan decided that we needed to turn right onto the bridleway heading east, which Jill and I agreed to as we’d never gone that way before. Nathan struggled with the drag from the stabilisers in the grass on the slope up, and Jill bore the brunt of giving him a shove when needed. We got to see the housing estate from a completely different angle, which really showed how it nestled between woods and farmer’s fields on three sides.

Both the boys were shattered when they got home – Aidan actually head-butted me as he fell asleep – as the mile and a half were a quite a distance. Certainly, it’s the furthest Nathan has been under his own steam on the bike.

Spofforth Castle
Spofforth Castle

It’s fair to say that this was the second ‘thing that we haven’t done in the last 9 years’. On Friday, after I dropped Aidan at the nursery I headed home with Nathan, but we took a detour and stopped at the Swings and then at the Castle (really the ruin of a fortified manor house) in Spofforth. Nathan loved exploring it, and then got really excited when a whole string of tractors went past.

It was Nathan’s last chance for a special day without Aidan around before Nathan went to school, so he had a fantastic afternoon with Jill who took him out to a farm and café near Bolton Abbey, plus an ice cream place while I stayed home, did work and picked up Aidan from his first proper day at nursery. He’s doing one day a week now to get him used to it for when Jill goes back to work.

In case you were wondering...

Wikileaks just lost its link from this site because of this.

WikiLeaks has published its full archive of 251,000 secret US diplomatic cables, without redactions, potentially exposing thousands of individuals named in the documents to detention, harm or putting their lives in danger.

Source: Guardian.co.uk

Although I believe that there is definitely a space for putting things in the open, this steps over the principle of not causing harm where unnecessary. The original releases were redacted to protect individuals who could have been at risk; this release is more like the kind of stunt that Lulzsec or Anonymous pull. Hence no more linkage to the IP address.

Review: 'The Departure' by Neal Asher

The Departure
The Departure is the latest book from Neal Asher and the start of a new series, 'The Owner novels', which sees him move away from the Agent Cormac / Polity universe that will be familiar to his past readers.

Asher is one of the strongest and most prolific voices in SF at the moment. Along with Reynolds, Stross and MacLeod he has put a new vigour in the genre. His ability to write fast-paced, twisting and interesting stories reminds me of the late David Gemmell's novels in fantasy: maybe not the absolute best, but you can guarantee an enjoyable, well written story that will have you wanting more at the end.

The Departure opens with the protagonist, Alan Saul, waking up on a conveyor into the Calais Incinerator without any clear memories of who he was and why he was there, only knowledge of the fact that he had been tortured in an Inspectorate Cell and the memory of the face of his tormentor. He is accompanied by an voice in his head called Janus, that claims it is an artificial intelligence and that it was created at the same time that he wore up. Naturally, Saul sets off to find out who he is, why he was dumped at the incinerator and how he can have revenge on his torturer.

It's a bleak future, completely different to that shown in the Polity novels. Earth is controlled by the Committee, a bureaucratic totalitarian regime trying unsuccessfully to manage the limited resources of a hugely over-populated world. Life has lost its value and brutality and starvation are common. A resource crash is coming and the only likely way to prevent it is the same as the results that it would engender; the deaths of billions of people. The extrapolation is scary, as it could easily been seen as a logical extension of the ways that population, politics and technology have been going since the 9/11 attacks.

The story ranges from the slums of Earth to the orbital majesty of the Argus station and out as far as the small human colony on Mars. The pace rapidly picks up, and the back story is filled in nicely as the plot races on. It resolves well, but leaves the hooks hanging and the stage set for a sequel.

All in all, a enjoyable, above average read that leaves you wanting to find out what happens next, having set the scene for the further books. Truly the David Gemmell of SF.

PS Shout out to Neil Ford for the change to read this. Thanks!