Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Five Best Buys

Yes, it’s true that here we are again with another in the seemingly eternal list of endlessly fascinating things that I get obsessed with.

Today’s Bunch O’ Fives is a list of items, arranged in order of what I paid for them, that have – for whatever reason – turned out to be 100% solid investments and, as ever, you can expect the actual number of things spoken about herein to absolutely not add up to five.

So, going in order of cheapest first (but without stating the prices):

#1: Stay Wet Palette, circa 2004/5
There are many useful things that I have bought surrounding Arty things – my first proper art book “How To Draw Anything (So Long As You Like Sheep)”, the toolbox that I use for storing all my paint and most of my brushes – but I’ve plumped for this because, at the end of the day, I’m lazy and get bored easily.

How does this factor in?  Well every time I go to do a new painting I think “this time I will DEFINITELY use Oil colours.”  I much prefer the texture and look of oils to any other medium, but the same thing puts me off every time – and that is that they take about 12 years to dry and, as such, I simply don’t have the patience.

That may be a slight over-exaggeration, but when the alternative is Acrylics – a medium that dries in the time that it takes to listen to an average length song by Genesis (including the Inevitable Drum Solo) then in my book there’s never any contest.  Also with Acrylics you can wash your brushes in water rather than turpse – so there’s considerably less danger that when using them in a confined space you will be talking to the canvas within half an hour or so.

So the Stay Wet palette comes in very handy here, because you put an absorbent pad in the bottom and cover it with a thin sheet of special paper and then soak both before draining – you then squirt your acrylics onto the paper and you can continue to use them long after they would otherwise have turned to granite, and sometimes for several days if you cover them.

#2: Golf Umbrella, circa 1988
I’m with Mark Twain on the subject of golf – if you’re going to go for a walk leave the sticks and balls behind and just enjoy the walk, but then I’ve never mastered anything more than Municipal courses and Crazy Golf.  Still – the one thing it can be said to have supplied is sturdy umbrellas.

I bought this from a travel shop in the centre of a nearby city, which despite the fact that no one ever goes in seems to still be open and the thing that this rain protecting device has that most umbrellas don’t is a spring on the inside that stops it turning inside out in all but the strongest of winds.  This, I suspect, is the secret of it’s longevity over more flimsy items.  True the tip may be a bit twisted due to my habit of pacing it along the ground like a walking stick and getting it stuck in the cracks between the paving slabs – but at this rate it will probably out last me

#3: Ukelele, circa 2011
Don’t get me wrong – I love all my instruments: my guitar, saxophone…even the bass guitar that I only ever play when recording songs, but if anyone knows where you can get more fun on a regular basis for the one off price of paying so little then I really don’t want to know.  It is impossible to be miserable whilst playing the Ukelele – and ownership of one would have radically altered the careers of the Famously Morbid likes of Leonard Cohen, Morrissey/The Smiths and Pink Floyd to name but a few

#4: Trek 800 Mountain bike and assorted paraphernalia, circa 1999
When I passed my driving test I rather foolishly sold my bike and spent several years before I bought this in preparation for a charity bike ride across China in 2000 (and yes, I’m aware that I still haven’t told you that story)

The fact that the bike is still with me, albeit with a different saddle, different chain, different wheels, and still bringing me much pleasure (as well as taking me to work quicker than the bus will) is a testament to how much I’ve found that I enjoy cycling.  There’s nothing like heading out on a Sunday morning with nowhere much to go but find new roads.

I say “and assorted paraphernalia” with this one because at the same time I bought the bike I also bought a day-glo yellow cycling jacket and a pair of shimano cycling shoes (with hard soles and cleats) which are both still with me and in very good shape.  The price of these items was wildly variant – but both have more than earned their keep and the shoes, now coming up for 13 years old, must surely deserve a place in the Guinness Book of Records for Footwear Longevity.

#5: Three rings
I’m not going to say much about these items here, other than one was bought about two years previous to the other two and that the first one, presented without warning one Christmas morning, bought me the longest moment of shocked silence from Herself in the many years that we have known each other, and that all three have led, and will continue to lead, to much happiness.

And – inevitably, one item that is probably the WORST buy ever.

#6: Rover Maestro, circa 1996/7
To be fair my car ownership consists largely of cars that could be filed under “Scrap, Heap Thereof” but in the long line of Rover’s (that included an old Austin Allegro, Rover Metro and the above) the Maestro cost me the most amount of money and years from my life expectancy.

Amongst the many things it did to try and kill me we must include the time that the brakes utterly failed without warning, the constant drinking of oil and the time that the cam-belt failed 300 miles from home leading me and Our Kid to run at full pace away from the car in full expectation of a loud “foom” noise and then wait 3hrs in the freezing cold night by the side of the motorway for a pick up.

I would pause here to issue the advice that no matter what else you do you should never, ever buy any car made by Rover – only they have gone out of business, thankfully relieving anyone from the stress of ever owning one again (NB there may be a few vintage ones out there on the road that haven’t spontaneously turned to rust or else killed the poor souls that owned them, but I seriously doubt it)


The Bug said...

Awww to number 5 - that was so unexpectedly sweet. I can see why Herself was struck speechless.

I once ordered Dr. M a golf umbrella online (because he was teaching on the windiest campus ever), & when confronted with the choice of sizes I decided that bigger had to be better! Well! This thing could shelter an entire family! In fact, I can't really hold it up on my own very well. But it's perfect for him on those extra blustery days.

Stephen Hayes said...

I once purchased a stay-wet palette back in the days when I was a commercial illustrator. Didn't like it much, and in the end just trained myself to paint faster.

Friko said...

I, ve never bought anything that lasts. Either I've got bored with it or it's given up the ghosts.

I have, of course, not bought THE ring(s), they were bought for me and are still around, firmly attached to the places they were meant for.

Argent said...

I think my best purchase was my first monocular - and all its successors, for that matter. So liberating to be able to read signs at a distance.

Titus said...

So intigued by the stay-wet palette! Sounds so squishy and weird.

Anyway, definitely my Raleigh Ladies Sturmey Archer 3-speed bike.
Purchased in (whisper it) 1989 when I was stationed at a slightly more distant place for a month, still going strong! And can beat my husband and children going up hills. I laugh in the face of 21 gears!

Actually, the dog was a pretty good buy too.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

bug - that's one big umbrella

Stephen - to be honest number 1 is largely there to make up the numbers, but it has been very useful.

Friko - even better :)

Argent - yes. I tried to put a mix of practical and impractical things into the list

Titus - sounds like a good bike!

Lydia said...

I do love your list posts, including this one.
so there’s considerably less danger that when using them in a confined space you will be talking to the canvas within half an hour or so. Do you mean you would be talking to the canvas because the fumes would make you crazy or that they would make you dead?

I find it totally refreshing that you actually use an umbrella. I will never understand why in Oregon we simply do not use them and, instead, walk directly in the rain. It's nuts. I used an umbrella my first year living here until I realized I was the only person in the town doing so. As I said, it's nuts!

Love what you wrote about the three rings!

Here is my list of five things I want to know more about you:)

#1: Charity
#2: bike
#3: ride
#4: across
#5: China