Notes : Daniel Ridings

April 26, 2010

Good morning Malawi

Filed under: Malawi — at 9:17 am

I got a call to my room from the reception this morning, just as I was leaving.

He speaks little English, but has managed to educate his daughters. It is a struggle. This note was pressed into my hand.


Good Morning Mr Daniel

First of all let us say thanks for what you did to NN. You help her with money for school fees. She was worrying about school since the day she stay at home without going to school but now she is saying thanks for you. But the main purpose of this letter to you is that the whole family of Mr and Mrs NN want to beg you that if possible pliz help us. We don’t have enough food this year and we are so many in our family so we say please and please. We are not forcing but we are just begging. Help us with money so that we can buy enough food to pass this year. Even though we didn’t see you face to face but we know that you are a good man and all the family need to see you the time you have free. We have heard that you are going soon so let us just say have a nice journey. May God be with you wherever you go and don’t forget. Help us.

From: The whole family of NN.


So … what would you do?

December 13, 2009

Gåsevadholm and Li, round trip

I had a pair of wheels built for my old bike. After 130km I turned them in for fine-tuning and want to get some more distance out of them before the spring. They might need another tune-up before I do anything serious.

It was cold today, but not quite freezing. Well, acutally, it was freezing in the shadows (and there’s not much sun):

Frost in the shadows

But when you’re pedaling, you keep warm (except for that blasted metal-plate that the cleats in the shoes are fasten to. They turn to a plate of ice, right under the ball of your foot and your toes).

First stop was Gåsevadholm.


The King of Sweden’s brother-in-law owns it. The farm itself is documented back to the 1300’s but the Dutch destroyed the original buildings in 1531. This particular building was build in the mid 1700’s and was pimped up in the 1800’s. What we see now was a fidei commissum. That is a way to get around inheritance laws. The idea was to keep the property in one piece, instead of splitting it up from generation to generation. The person could access, use and profit from the property, but he (it was always a he) didn’t own it. It got passed on in its entirety to the next generation. That legal form was terminated in modern times, and it is now a “company” with one person owning all the shares.

The “vad” in Gåsevadholm is the same root as “wade” in English. This was a place where one could cross the water. The water was used for milling as well and you can find old milling stones strewn around (they’re not the kind of thing you move very far away once they’ve been worn out):


On to Li, the site of iron-age graves:

On the way to Li

Li is at the foot of a moraine, mounds of boulders and rocks that the glaciers shoved in front of them and dumped at the end of the ice-age.

There are (have been) 125 standing stones, one of them huge, a bit over 5 meters, but I don’t have a picture of it. It’s just a rock.


From here you can see the sea and in the viking age, there were canals that they used to drag their boats up this far. You can see the sea far in the background.

View of the sea, from Li

The site was used for burials for centuries. When it rains heavily, the farmers notice thin eggshell like fragments that wash down into their fields. It’s bones.

I come to this place often, strangely enough, usually in the winter. I guess it is because you get it all for yourself. This is an older photograph from a couple of years back, also in the winter.

Li in the winter

It not only looks cold, it was cold.

Today’s distance: 43km averaging 21km an hour.

November 29, 2009

Holdsworth Mistral, on the road again

Filed under: Bicycles,PAW 2009,Pentax *ist DL,Photography — at 6:52 pm

About 27 years ago I ordered a bicycle frame from Holdsworth, a touring frame called Mistral. At that time you couldn’t get a decent touring bike in Sweden. The frame I ordered was made of the same quality steel (Reynolds 531 double-butted) as the competition bikes, but the geometry was different. It was made to absorb the bumps.

I’ve ridden it for years. I installed an Ideale model 45 saddle on it way back when. It’s leather. You couldn’t get Brooks here at the time. I’ve sat on this one for 27 years. You could say it fits my butt pretty well.

Ideale model 45 after 27 years.

This year I decided to try to rejuvenate the bike. Believe me. That was not easy. Bicycles have always been close to anarchy when it comes to “standards” (the nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them), but add to that confusion 27 years of companies that disappear (Holdsworth, Sun Tour (for all practical purposes), Ideale, Mafac (a _real_ problem for me) and you end up with a puzzle that at times lookes like some of the pieces are missing, for good.

Finding a threaded free-wheel is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Well, ok, I thought. As much as I hate to, I’ll retire my Campagnolo Record hubs (threaded for free-wheels) and build up new wheels with integrated free-wheels.

Not so easy … The frame was built for, I think, 125 mm axels in the back. Actually, I think it was less. The frame is made of steel and I had been shoving in 130 mm hubs for years. Probably shouldn’t try that with an aluminum frame.

You can get 130mm hubs, but … they are intended to be used on racers. They tend to have fewer spokes than a now aging biker would like to see in his wheels.

No problem. Hubs intended for MTB bikes are easy to find with 36 spokes. … But … they’re made for 135 mm axles. I’m prepared to cold set the steel frame for a slightly wider spacing, but I’d be stretching it for over 10mm. Long story. Solved it.

The real problem is that the frame was designed for the British market, read: 27″ x 1 1/4. Even back in those days 700c was taking over the market. No problem, I thought. The brakes will just have to reach longer.

Now this is a touring bike, with spaces for fenders, so the brakes have to reach pretty far anyway. Put in smaller wheels and you’re starting to hit the limits. Back in those days I could pick up a pair of good center-pull Mafac brakes with exactly the reach I needed.

Mafac 2000 long-reach center-pull brakes

But … see that cable that straddles the brake arms? The cable that they one leading from the brake levers pulls up? If it breaks, I’m out of business. Mafac is out of business and it is well nigh impossible to 1) find a replacement straddle cable and 2) to find long reach brakes that will fit. The well-being of the whole bike rests on that little cable.

Bottom-brackets have changed, they’re now sealed and better than anything I could get back in the early 80’ies.

I’ll not go into the Cinelli stem and bars (Cinelli had a standard all to themselves … and they no longer make anything for that standard anymore. No one else ever did).


I got it up to snuff and took it out for a 50km spin today. The wind was against me and the temperature was just above freezing (but it _was_ above freezing at least) but the sun was shining.

First to Särö Västerskog, always to the sea …

Särö Västerskog looking east

The wind has been blowing very, very strongly for a couple of weeks now. All kinds of debris has been washed up on the shore:

Holdsworth Mistral at Särö Västerskog

Then around to the other side of the bay (cove ?), to Vallda Sandö. This is the road leading to Sandö (Sand Island):

Road leading to Vallda Sandö

Same road, but looking back east:

Looking east from the road leading to Vallda Sandö

My break at Vallda Sandö:

Rest stop at Vallda Sandö

With the saffron rolls (buns ?) (lussekatter) that Ewa baked right before I left. They’re traditional at Christmas and today is the first day of Advent.

Saffron rolls (lussekatter)

Never could figure out which direction the wind was blowing. I travelled 360 degrees, and it was never in my back.

November 19, 2009

Waiting … on Oxford Street

Filed under: 28mm Pentax,PAW 2009,Pentax *ist DL,Photography — at 3:09 pm

Walking down Oxford Street in London at this time of the year, maybe anytime of the year, is not the easiest thing to do. To even consider going into one of the stores is beyond me. The thought does not even dawn on you as you dodge first this, then that, then fail and get rammed. With any luck you can find a couple of square inches of safe territory … and wait.

Waiting on Oxford Street

November 3, 2009

Afternoon walk in Trondheim

Filed under: 28mm Pentax,PAW 2009,Pentax *ist DL,Photography — at 10:54 am

The days are getting shorter in the north. Walking back to the hotel in the afternoon, I saw the light …

I saw the light

I’ve gotten tired of cameras … equipment-wise, not imaging. So I’ve decided to use my daughter’s rejected Pentax digital (*ist DL). It’s simple, small, can use a fixed focal-length lens from the film days (a small, 28mm) and it has manual settings.

October 25, 2009


Filed under: Bicycles — at 5:54 pm

I’ve been riding my bike a lot more lately. I don’t travel as much now and that leaves some time to do things I used to do when I worked locally. I hadn’t realized how much I’ve missed those things: riding my bike, being able to do things with Ewa in the evenings, being able to do things with friends in the evening. I like it. I’ve ridden over 450km this month.

Starting a project to rejuvenate an old bike (touring) from the early eighties. I just pulled it completely apart to make sure there was no rust in the frame. It’s made out of Reynolds 531 double-butted. The walls can get a little thin in the middle.

Looks ok, but modernizing an old frame is not easy and might not be economically defensible (it’s debatable the bike was economically defensible in 1982 when I ordered the frame from the UK (Holdsworth) and bought the individual parts piece-meal. There were no touring bikes in Sweden back then).

Anyway, it’s been fun. I’m trying to figure out the absolute minimum that needs to be replaced: wheels (you can’t get threaded freewheels anymore. There is nothing called a “10-speed” anymore), new crankset and bottom-bracket. Brakes are potentially a big problem.

Ewa and I ride to her work (I work from home) every day. Even in the rain and cold weather. I remember that I “rode in the costs” back in the 80’ies by riding it all year round and not buying monthly passes. Took about 3 years.

Something to do … should be pictures coming out of the trips soon.

September 5, 2009

The Centre for Language Studies

Filed under: Malawi — at 12:38 pm

I spend some of my time, not as much as I’d like, working for a NUFU (Norwegian academic research organization) project based at NTNU in Trondheim, Norway and University of Malawi, Chancellor College, in Zomba, Malawi.

It’s work in computational lexicography and corpus linguistics. I have finally managed to install some of the resources and programs outside the internal (local) network.

The Centre for Language Studies

Some of the corpora can be found at:

Corpora from the Centre of Language Stuides

I am now working on making the lexical databases available on the net.

August 6, 2009

A cold morning, not so long ago

Filed under: Nikon D300,PAW 2009,Photography — at 9:00 am

I had an early meeting in Copenhagen a while back and spent the night at a budget hotel. Leaving for my meeting in the morning:

Copenhagen on a cold morning

July 30, 2009

Between Sweden and Denmark

Filed under: Nikon D300,PAW 2009,Photography — at 9:47 am

Up until now, I’ve crossed between Sweden and Denmark by ferry between Helsingborg and Helsingør instead of the bridge between Malmö and København. I say up until now, because I won’t be doing so in the future. The ferry companies have raised the fare just too much. It used to be worth a little extra when compared to the bridge, but now the difference is just too much.

I’ll miss it.

Ferry between Sweden and Denmark

LUG Print Exchange

Filed under: 35/2.0 Summicron,Leica M4,Photography — at 9:41 am

The Leica Users’ Group (LUG) print exchange had “heat” as its theme this July. I don’t have a lot of shots illustrating head, even if I’ve been in a lot of “hot” situations, Africa and other places. This is what I could come up with, “Dancing in the heat”:

Dancing in the heat

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