Friday, 8th April, 2022

[Day 753]

Today dawned bright and clear and all of the indications were that it was a fine day for a walk. But Meg and I found it a little difficult to get ourselves going this morning but eventually we got ourselves ‘into gear’ and set off for town mid morning. Before we left, we had a phone call from some of our church friends thanking us for some wire brushes which I had spare and left on their doorstep (to help remove rust from some gardening tools – what else?) As we walked down the hill, we bumped into our Irish friend who was getting herself prepared to go off for a few days holiday (coinciding with half term) with some members of her family. Then we struck out for the park and no sooner had we consumed our coffee than our University of Birmingham friend strode into view and as we have not coincided for quite a bit what with one thing or another so it was pleasant to catch up on all of our news. We were putting our heads together to see if here was a small friendly Spanish town to which our friend could journey on his own, to improve his Spanish (hence wanting to go alone – if there is more than one of you, then you form a ‘little bubble’ and do not interact thorughly with the country whereas on one’s own, you have to sink or swim by yourself). We then met up, as is usual with Seasoned World Traveller and then Meg and I pushed on into town where we picked up our newspaper and then made a quick visit to Waitrose, as is our wont, to pick up some things that I have invariably forgotten in my main shopping earlier in the week.

This afternoon was my lawn cutting day and everything worked out well. At this time of year, one can practically see the grass leaping out of the ground so it always good to get this routine job done. The gardening books always used to say, quite irritatingly, that for any particular job that one should ‘choose a nice day’ as though one had complete ability to order a particular set of weather for a particular day. But as soon as the major mowing had been done, there was a little measuring job that needed to be done. I have set myself the objective of trying to work out the rpm equivalent of my little push mower whch I utilised yesterday. By a fortunate coincidence of numbers, the recommended mowing speed of 2mph is almost exactly 1 yard per second and this fact comes in useful later on my calculations. I then measured the circumference of the driving wheel which is 27″ – hence it takes one and a third revolutions of the driving wheel to cover a yard. I then worked empirically (and this was the tricky bit) the gearing ratio between the driving wheel and the reel speed which turned out to be a ratio of 1:5.5. As there are five cutting blades this makes one revolution 5.5 x 5 which is 27.5 ‘hits’ of the blade per revolution or just 36.67 hits of a blade per yard. From this data, I have mnaged to work out that the RPM equivalent at 2mph is actually 60 times this which is 2200rpm. At a walking speed of 2.5 mph, this would be 2750 rpm which is pretty close to the 3000 rpm which a conventional hover mower would offer. Or so I reckon.

Two bits of Ukrainian news are hitting the headlines this evening. One of these which might just be wishful thinking or western propaganda is that in the retreat from Lyif, some Russian troops may have abandoned a lot of tanks and artillery. The abandonment of vehicles is said to be ‘a collapse of the will to fight’ which bit of information is certainly consistent with several other stories to the same effect. But the other really terrible piece of news is the fact that thousands of people had crowded into a railway station in Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine. Estimates of the numbers killed range from 30-50 and hundreds have been killed. It was well known to the Russian military authorities that thousands of civilians were assembling in the railway station to effect their escapes from the shelling that is going to be unleashed upon them. It looks, therefore, that the attack was intentional and the clearest example of a ‘war crime’ to add to the growing list. Bit by bit, the West seems to be adding more sohisticated weaponry to the Ukrainians, no doubt stimulated by the scale of the atrocities that are revealed as the Russians retreat from the north. Boris Johnson has said he would give Ukraine’s military more Starstreak anti-aircraft missiles, another 800 anti-tank missiles, and precision munitions. He also promised more helmets, night vision googles and body armour. Whether this will prove effective in the coming onslaught in the East of the country, time will tell.