If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Sunday, 14 August 2011

The Wasps of Pendine

Today I went to Pendine Sands to watch the attempt on the UK Electric Land Speed Record (details here).

It's not been a great day, despite the weather improving from a drizzly start to a glorious finish. I got there shortly after 1 pm, to hear that the record attempt had been postponed after the Bluebird had hit some soft sand and sustained some damage. The attempt would be delayed by an hour or so, and so I found my mates from the Triumph Club and we sat in the sunshine with a beer and some fish and chips. Perfect seaside fare, except that we were plagued by wasps. For the first time in my life I was served fish and chips in a box.

Nowhere in the world does fish and chips like Yorkshire does, and this was disappointing fare. I'm one of the old school who thinks that the newsprint added flavour, and that the modern fashion for clean white paper (or, whisper it, a polystyrene clamshell and a fork) is just a poofy fad which will never catch on. So having them in a cardboard box like a, well, like a pizza actually, was definitely an offence against culinary tradition.

I then strolled onto the sands to watch the entertainment and had an ice-cream. (Awful.) I met a couple of the other guys and we chatted for a while. We then heard over the tannoy that the Bluebird would be making its way back to the start line (where we were standing) to re-charge and make another attempt. Re-charging takes about half an hour, and is accomplished by a huge portable generator pulled behind a truck. You can see it in the middle of the picture.

Perhaps this is the solution for the 'range anxiety' said to be the main reason why motorists are not clamouring for electric vehicles at the moment. Each electric car to tow its own generator, fuelled by - well, petrol, naturally. It's all brilliantly thought out. The emissions don't count if they come from somewhere else, like - er - a power station.

The man on the tannoy then said that while driving back to the start, the Bluebird had hit another patch of soft sand and had broken its nose-cone and shaken the driver up a bit. Both were OK, but the record attempt would now be delayed until 5.30 pm. I expected to be home by then (the grass is like a forest after the France trip, and this has been the first dry day), so I decided to leave. First, I called in at the Museum of Speed to catch a look at the famous Babs, the car which killed J. G. Parry-Thomas in 1927 during an attempt to win back the land speed record from Malcolm Campbell, and which was buried under the dunes of Pendine until it was excavated and restored in the 1960s and 70s by Owen Wyn Owen. It is now in running order and is quite a sight.

It's much, much bigger than it looks here.

I started the bike and set off down the main road in Pendine. I was travelling at only 10-15 mph and had not yet put my visor down, and a Pendine Wasp flew into my face and wedged itself between my cheek and the side of the helmet. It stung me and then, in revenge at my poking it out with a gloved finger, stung me again. I pulled over, ripped off the helmet and inspected the damage. Of course I couldn't see it, as it was on my cheek a little below my eye, so I asked a passing Young Mum if she would have a look at it. Luckily, she turned out to be a nurse, so I was quickly examined and pronounced alive and in no immediate danger. However, it hurt like hell and was making my eye water, so I abandoned plans to meet up with the guys for a cup of tea later and made it straight for home.


S'pose I'd better cut the grass ...


  1. Y'mean she didn't kiss it better?

    Awe shucks. It could have been worse, your flies could have been undone!

    These 'leccy things are getting about.

    Took one of my grandsons to North Weald airfield today to watch the Straightliners & BikeFest.

    One of the competitors was Kingston University's Electric Racing Bike. It performed 'respectably' - getting into the 90's at the end of the 1/4 mile. (c.f the best Suzy @ 9.3 secs / 168 mph).

    The scary thing was, the 'leccy bike was silent! On the road that would be a definite hazard to pedestrians. Pensioners would at least hear the Suzy coming, they just wouldn't be able to react fast enough to avoid it.

    More info on the Kingston Uni project here:-


  2. Ah, no, Joe - her husband and two small children might have objected!

    Thinking of your KU electric bike: one comment made more than once today was regarding the 150 mph top speed the Bluebird team were hoping to attain. Why doesn't one of us just get down there and ride alongside them? And then pull away ...

  3. After the incident last year of a wasp flying up Mrs N's sleeve whilst in sozius position (pillion)(she was not wearing gloves), I now carry wasp-eze in my bike first aid kit. I must also learn not to laugh on these occasions......

  4. P.S.

    I ventured to the Ponderosa today to test out my new seat - hit drizzle and discovered that I had nothing in my panniers by way of waterproofs having unpacked completely from my big French trip. .... no first aid kit either so good job no vespas up the horeshoe pass (titter titter)

  5. Waspeze, first aid kit, waterproofs, multi-tool, pen, reading glasses, gaffer tape ... I miss those panniers on the Bonnie :)

  6. Last time I was stung by a wasp was in similar circumstances - flew through my open visor and bounced off my forehead. Obviously a bit stunned by the experience, it dropped straight down through the chin bar and - as it turned out - into my jacket. Where it vindicively stung me a number of times as soon as it woke up, whilst I did some sort of frantic heavy braking-cum-contortionist activities. Then it flew off.

    The downside was spending the rest of the day in A&E being treated for anaphylactic shock and breathing difficulties, and I still have no recollection how I actually got to the hospital in the first place.

    Bastard indeed.

    Glad your day didn't finish quite that badly!

  7. Hi
    we were there on Sunday and saw the first run before it crashed
    Somehow , i cant see F1 replacing V12s with electric motors
    Not quiet the same noise or atmosphere
    and yes , i commented to the wife at the time on how many wasps there were at Pendine, even 200 metres from the land out on the beach

  8. Richard (at work)15 August 2011 at 23:26

    Endo - that sounds scary. Although I had the hay-fever/asthma combo when I was younger (and still have to a small extent), I have never suffered from anaphylaxis, thank God. No, my day ended undramatically with a slowish ride home wiping my eye, which was watering like hell, and hoping it didn't swell and force me to spend the rest of eternity in a Shoei. The sting location still hurts like buggery, though.

    ST - I would agree. Efficiency isn't everything, and electric motors, whatever their undoubted qualities, have no soul. Interesting the wasps were as far out as 200m. At the Beach Hotel they were thick and excited - in your pint, eating your chips, the lot. I did my usual trick of not bothering them, and they didn't bother me (which is why I was so disappointed when one attacked me later). Some of my mates did the girly bit of waving and squeaking and dancing about, which was fair enough as some of them were girls, and the wasps focused on them to a large extent.

    Next time, DEET, in industrial quantities.


Comment is free, according to C P Scott, so go for it. Word verification is turned off for the time being. Play nicely.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...