16 December 2007

Another derby match

... And another win. It seems such a long time since we beat the blue scum although over time they are over 20 wins behind us.

In fact, there have been more drawn games than Chelsea wins!

This one was hard fought. Our fans spent the whole game berating Ashley Cole. We have had players leave before, but none have been as nasty as Cole.

So he gets what he is due!

In the end we should have won comfortably, we must have had most of the possession but it was a mistake by Cech that led to William Gallas heading the only goal.

I need to see MoTD2 tonight as we had the ball in the bet twice more that Wiley (the worst ref I've seen this season) disallowed.

In the end it looked as though he was doing whatever he could to let them equalise. Wanker!

Still we're top of the league!

13 December 2007

Wasted journey!

After a few days, okay 5 working days off with flu, I set off this morning.

I got as far as Sevenoaks and started to feel sick, eventually after a coffee I felt no better so I struggled home again. If I hadn't bothered I would have saved the £92 (for now anyway!) for my weekly season ticket (photo attached!) and the £6.90 for the taxi from the station!



22 November 2007

Simpsonize Me!


Okay, so it's not the most sophisticated software you can play with and I suspect anyone with a lack of hair will get the same character to add bits too.. but it passes a few minutes!


21 November 2007

Parisienne Walkways!

Best rock guitar classic ever?

I have several versions on my Muvo and it is excellent with the volume turned up!

Pukka entertainment!


20 November 2007

Isle of Man 1985!


GT550A_1976_on_IOM, originally uploaded by pauldevall.

Cripes!

Another pic from the past I found. Yes, it is me with hair!

Frozen-Up

Frozen-Up, originally uploaded by pauldevall.

Had to add this photo that I found whilst going through a box of stuff.

It's from 1991, the day before the Sinterklaastreffen and we were on the XJ900 heading for Ostend. By the time we had got towards Veurne my visor, glasses and eyebrows had frozen solid.

This pic was taken alongside the canal between Adinkerke and Veurne. The only main route as the motorway between France and Belgium was some years off being completed.

19 November 2007

Croatia 2008 (2)

Another night planned and booked. I have decided to look elsewhere, as the Youth Hostel in Zadar couldn't (or rather wouldn't) commit to letting us have a double room. Like I said in Croatia (1) going to somewhere with islands and not going on one would be a mistake. So I have booked a place on the Island of Pag. Not because Pag are my three forename initials! ;)

After some searching and emails I have booked Pension Gligora in Mandre on the west of the Island.

Prices in Croatia for decent clean accommodation seems to be on the rise and at €40 a night B&B, it isn't expensive by western European standards. On the website it looks very clean. Somewhere to get to reasonably early from Split and a bit of R&R. ViaMichelin gives a distance of 129 miles but that looks the motorway route rather than the coast road.

The next day will be a longer drag up to Ljubjana for our last night of the holiday, with the exception of the train to Germany. Okay, according to ViaMichelin it is only 159 miles and the journey includes the ferry from Pag to the mainland.

Map of roughly where we are going on Pag! Mandre

Slovenia 2008 (1)

The fourth and last of the eastern European states we will visit next year is Slovenia. I have been before, but not for very long, maybe two visits and a total of less than an hour, maybe as much as two hours!

The first time in 1986 when we travelled across the top of Istria to Trieste from Rijeka and the second in 1999 when Steve Hazlehurst and I dipped a toe in the country in the extreme northwest to "bag" the country as we rode northwards from a day trip to Venice to the Wassbüffel Treffen in Austria.

So maybe my first estimate of an hour was accurate after all.

In 2008 we have an overnight at the highly recommended
Alibi Rooms Hostel in the city centre at Ljubjana.

This is the last full day on the road to get to Ljubjana and one of the longest of Week 2. Setting off from the Island of Pag that morning. It doesn't look far on the motorways but we'll have to see. I am hoping for a stop off in
Postojna caves on the way, at east for a look even if there isn't time to go in.

I like to have accommodation planned in advance, and then leave the pace and route between stops take precedence and open to change. With accommodation booked, that is one consideration lifted off your shoulders.

18 November 2007

Chilli Heated Vest

I've had mine for four years I think and haven't worn it that often, reserving it for the really cold days when I think a bit of added support is necessary.

When I bought it I took the option to have the optional extra Chilli Control unit, a thermostat, as well rather than run the jacket straight off the battery. It does mean that the heat level can be variable.

Dur to that fact that I wear it when it is very cold, I tend to have it turned on almost to the maximum. The know on the unit seems to have about 270° of movement and I bet I used the last 20° of that most of the time. In Chilli speak "full on" is 100% so I guess I use the top 10% at all times.
On the bike you have to decide where you are going to site the thermostat. I am dead against abusing paintwork, so on the GS there is a small section of frame exposed just by the left knee. A bit of Velcro on the frame and the back of the thermostat is sufficient to hold it in place. When it isn't perhaps freezing (inc wind chill) this is a satisfactory arrangement, however, the lead from the unit to the jacket is not really long enough. When it is very cold the wire is quite thick and it goes extremely rigid, and the slightest movement of the rider, Me, on the seat allows the plug to slide off the jacket. I have seen some bikes with the unit mounted on the fork top yoke. I assume that an extension cable must be available to allow this! In fact after today's ride home when it fell off three times, I have written to Chilli.
Today on a ride to the Oakdene I was pleasantly warm on the way up with the dial turned to about 90%. However, on the way back it was appreciably colder and I had it full on for a half hour dash back down the M20.
Would I recommend the waistcoat? Yes, most definitely.
Any improvements? Yes. Make a version with sleeves.

First Impressions: Suzuki Jacket (Part 3)

Following on from Part 2 where I said that the jacket looked as though it was going to be a good buy.

I still stand by that but after wearing it for the first time in what could be called winter weather, the jacket was perhaps a little thin.

Okay, it wasn't a real good test as I have removed the inner zip-out liner, but that was replaced with a
Chilli heated waistcoat.

It;s quite common when manufacturers up the sized to simply as a percentage to all measurements, so by the time they get to XXL, my size, the neck would be too big even for Mike Tyson. And Suzuki are no exceptions.

The padded neoprene insert in the from of the neck looks good, but there is simply not enough Velcro on the tag not on the jacket itself to locate it tight enough to keep put the wind. Something that is essential on a four-season jacket. I'd say that the Suzuki Jacket is a two or maybe three season jacket.

At the moment I am happy with the jacket, but if I am too ride in the winter again, and I will be out in a couple of weeks at the Whitstable Toy Run, I'll seriously look towards getting an old Hein Gericke jacket out of the loft! Stylish it isn't but it is waterproof and might fit better round the neck!

Mali Madness - 'ello Tosh!

This morning I had a ride up to the Oakdene to hand over a Toshiba Portege to Bert to take to Mali. The PC that was my old work one will go to a new home.

I was joined by fellow SOC Kent member Brian Squibb and we had a long chat with Bert over a bacon sandwich. Excellent tales of Africa and a free brekkie.

Can't wait to see the pix when it is handed over. The laptop was owned by my company CEA@Islington and I hope that when the pics come back to get them on the website and maybe get a mention of the "Mali Madness" in the CEA newsletter.

The ride up was pretty cold and after an hour or more sitting in the warm cafe, the ride home seemed even colder. I wore my Chilli electric vest and it seemed okay on the way up, on the way back the power lead was so cold and stiff it kept popping the connection with the jacket. I suppose for safety it has to come apart easily, but this is too easy. Perhaps I need a longer wire from the thermostat to the jacket?

16 November 2007

Folkestone Invicta

Have to say I've not been this season yet as home matches keep clashing with the Arsenal games that my season ticket share covers!

15 November 2007

Mali Madness



Some links to a fellow GS owner's 3rd trip to Mali to take medicine and stuff to help out at an orphanage.

If you are this before the 20th November or even if you don't please make a donation.



http://www.ukgser.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=273
http://www.ukgser.com/forums/showthread.php?t=125011
http://www.ukgser.com/forums/showthread.php?t=124155
http://www.ukgser.com/forums/showthread.php?t=125011


Good luck Bert and best wishes from me and Claire.

14 November 2007

Whitstable Toy Run 2/12/07

After a year off last year when I couldn't be arsed to chivvy the rest of the Kent Centre into action I am suffering from bike withdrawal symptoms!

So. Meet at the Blue and White Cafe on the A20 for a 1230 departure for possible scenic ride to Whitstable.

The WTRA organise one of the largest runs in the South East and every extra rider that turns up swells the numbers greatly and increases the coffers of local charities, plus of course the main aim of collecting toys for under privileged kids.

Go on. Get to the shops and come and join us.

Croatia 2008 (1)

With the trip still so far away, plans liable to change.

In all we'll have 3 nights in Croatia. Two in Split and I have been looking for another night further up the coast road. Not too far in case it gets clogged with traffic!

Plan A had the stay at the Youth Hostel in Zadar. In the end this will change as being oldies we don't do dorms, and although the hostel has loads of private rooms they seem unable to commit to letting us have one. The explanation being that they reserve them for tour guides and coach drivers. So it may be a case of "bollocks" and go elsewhere.

I have a first reserve lined up on the Island of Pag. It seems a shame to go somewhere with thousands of islands and a) not go on one, and b) not take a ferry.

Pag isn't that far off the mainland and the bottom end nearest Zadar has a bridge, but the top needs a ferry. Okay, according to the website it is only 20 minutes! But it is a ferry, and I do like a ferry.

12 November 2007

Drizabone?

Is everyone that wears one of the stinking wax cotton Australian wankers coats in the UK a twat?

The evidence of the last few days has to be a resounding YES!

Why get on a train with a thick waterproof coat and expect to sit next to some poor bugger that is already there, without taking your f*cking wet coat off!

Because you are a TWAT, that's why.

8 November 2007

Autozug again

All booked. In the end the anti-fraud system at Capital One, whilst a good idea, totally screwed my booking.

It became a case of get their bank to call us and we can authorise the payment. Not as easy as it sounds with the bank being in Germany!

In the end the booking was made through DB UK, whom I found on the DB website. An email and a fax of the train details got it sorted. A cheque for £380.16 went off today.

Yes it is a lot but a price to pay for getting 650 miles each way whilst mostly asleep.

Paying now means there is plenty of time for putting money aside for when we get there.

6 November 2007

Autozug

Had a bit of a set back today with Autozug.

In the end it was good really that when I tried to book the motorail tickets that Capital One rejected the transaction as it was for a large amount and the website was based in Germany.

About 45 minutes later I got a text message asking me to call them at the bank.

Must remember to keep them in the loop when we go away! Especially as Bosnia might be a little unusual.

5 November 2007

The Eagles - Long Road Out of Eden

Bloody hell! I have become a fashionista!

I bought the album 'off plan' before it was released and am glad I did!

I've listened to it almost every evening on the MP3 player and each time I hear something more than the time before.

Blimey. I actually own the number one album in the chart!

Autozug!

All the advertising you are about motorail shows how well it compares with driving. Okay, they have bike places but the majority of travellers on the train will be families in cars. Or at least that's what over 20 years experience tells me.


So I did a bit of research. In the off season the difference between train and riding is much smaller.

I used Michelin's route planner to work it out for me - Dusseldorf to Villach. A route I did back in 1986 bit from Cologne on that occasion.

The train comes out more expensive but does the trip overnight. To do that I'd have to tranquilise Claire "Mr T" style.

So motorail it is!

2 November 2007

To SORN or not to SORN?

That is the question. Or it was. Can you SORN for a month?



With the arthritis in my knee I thought a bit of time off the bike might be in order. But I hate not to have it there when I need it.



So when I couldn't find the renewal form I had to resort to the 'Net and cough up the extra £2.50!



It is so easy with the renewal or log book! Type in a few numbers and it automatically checks MoT and Insurance and then enter card details and it is sorted.



Now, if they can check insurance online why don't they target the bastards driving uninsured? Get the coppers round and sort the scum out.



Paul Devall - sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

24 October 2007

Lunch - Pie & Mash!

Something of a disappearing style of "fast food" being overtaken by foreign imports.



The traditional food of Londoners is sadly on the decline but real purveyors still exist.



Two can be found in Islington and geographically not that far apart.



Whilst all around them the trendification goes on in leaps and bounds, Clarkes in Exmouth Market in Clerkenwell is still there. Their neighbours are no longer local shops for local people but imported coffee shops and the paraphernalia of the more money than sense set. "I saw you coming" couldn't be more apt.

Luckily the oasis that is Clarkes is there for is that like to keep at least in touch with our heritage.



The other Islington Pie & Mash shop is Manzies in Chapel Market. A stone's throw from Upper Street and its New Labour connotations; all trendy with no real foundations. Honest grub for the working class or indeed anyone not afflicted with vegetarianism!



When I mention heritage. My paternal grandparents lived for over 40 years in Lower Morden. A neighbour, next door but one, was a Harrington. The owner of one branch of what my Gran called the Harrington "eel pie" business. Her son, Vic, moved in more recently! We are talking the 1980's here! He had inherited the other branch of the family's south London shops.



Where are they now? The one on the A3 in Battersea I went to a few times on the way to work on evening shift went AWOL a while back. I've heard that there is one in Tooting or Mitcham. Anyone know?



As Londoners it is our responsibility to preserve our customs and to help them co-exist with all the newcomers from the old empire and latterly Europe, both easy and west.



You have your mission.

11 October 2007

Spain - Day 6

Estepona and Casares

A long walk and a paddle on the almost deserted beach at Estepona before a drive up the mountain to one of the "white villages" of Andalucia.

Casares is perched on the side of the mountain and comes into view as you round a bend in the road.

Well worth a visit.

10 October 2007

Spain - Day 5 Medina Azahara

After staying in Cordoba the night before we were handy for Medina or Madinat Al-Zahra as they call it locally.

We arrived about 1100 after a late morning and getting the car from the car-park and the heavy traffic in Cordoba!

The car-park at Zahra is quite small and less simple once a coach or two are involved. We ended up on the way in, half on the road and half in a ditch, and they charged us 80¢ for the privilege.

On the other hand it is free for EU citizens to get in!

For the next three hours we spent walking in the burning heat and looking at the magnificence that Abd ar-Rahman III built and named after his wife.


As well as a palace it was also his main seat of power and was connected to the city at Cordoba with a brick road, sadly not yellow or paved with gold.

The site is in two halves, the business and private areas. It is hard to see the difference. Both show an oppulence that was designed to show his power and visitors got the IKEA system of walking round and round to get to his official "office" or the throne room. The best of the discoveries was in the private area and is covered to protect it.


The work of discovery and restoration will take years and years.

9 October 2007

Spain - Day 4

Up and off to Cordoba. This time the motorway past Malaga was clear and we made good time to the turn off up the main N331 towards Cordoba. We were slowed as they are building the motorway alongside it.


On arrival the GPS had is perfectly on route but it can't plan for local drivers blocking the road. After a detour and a bit of manoeuvring we arrived right by the Mesquita. Coppers everywhere. The reason was some European conference on intolerance to Moslems. Didn't are too many delegates that looked vaguely Arabic etc.


The hostel I had chosen was recommended in the Rough Guide to Andalucia. The Hostel Santa Ana is a short walk to the Mesquita. After parking in the private garage, we set off for lunch and then into the Mesquita. We even went back to the hotel to get another couple of Nikon batteries for the still camera.

I'm still not convinced about the movie cam. Although we managed to take 30 different short films in and around the Mesquita itself!

We had a long walk that ended up in the new city. Once again the hunt for chocolate and churros was thwarted!


By now it was time to change for dinner. This was taken in a Moroccan restaurant near to our hotel.


Now it's time to delete the chaff off the cameras before tomorrow's trip to Medina Azahara and then back to Cala de Mijas.

8 October 2007

Andalucia - Day 1

We were up before 5am for the drive across to Gatwick, where we arrived at the parking about 6.30am.

No problems at all getting there and none leaving the car. The reason we went so early was due to the expected (and reported in the papers!) long delays at the security check. In the end we were through in 8 minutes!

Luckily there were no delays on the flight and we arrived on time. We had hoped to meet brother's party on their way out, but an hour and a quarter queuing to get the hire car put paid to that.

In the end we got a diesel Focus instead of the booked Fusion. Not a bad car, although damned heavy and I keep stalling it when on the hill out out the apartment parking!

At night we went into Fuengirola for dinner. I can recommend the portions at the restaurant. If only I could remember the name!

Day 2

Local day. Got up late after the long day we had had the day before and after breakfast we Went to Marbella. We got parked easily and walked down to the promenade and then all along it westwards until it ran out! On the way past the Banana Tree pub I ducked in to see that the Arsenal were 2-1 up over Sunderland.

We went to the lower level on the edge of the beach as the grilled fish was attracting us. We had sardines and salad and a couple of small beers to quench the appetite and thirst. Man was it hot!

We had a swim in the late afternoon on the beach just down from the apartment. The water was freezing at first and then we acclimatised.

In the evening we worked out the TV was showing UK channels and we saw the Jocks lose the rugby to the Argies, Top Gear and then Michael Palin in Eastern Europe. Has he been to Slovakia yet? I'm sure he can't miss the opportunity to visit Andy Warhol's family home in far eastern Slovakia!

Day 3

Whose idea was it to go to Malaga to shop and have chocolate and churros?

The traffic even after 11am was horrific! The 25 miles from the apartment took over 75 minutes and we were finally parked in the cool of El Corte Ingles car park. This is one hell of a department store. It sells everything. Even Piaggio scooters!

Our first stop was the market for fruit and vegetables. Tomatoes that taste like they should, and everything on a scale about 50% bigger than at home.

The chocolate and churros part of the deal was thwarted as we couldn't find the little back street where we had enjoyed the thick chocolate and sweet doughnut like churros the last time we were there. Instead we had to make do with a coffee.

The drive out wasn't as bad as the drive in.

After another swim we decided to eat out again!

Tomorrow it is our longer trip to Cordoba. I even borrowed a digital movie cam for that!

5 October 2007

Charity Pet Food Run - Spring 2008 - April 13th

Dear Fellow Bikers and Motorcyclists,

I am organising the annual Kent Pet Food run on behalf of the Tunbridge Wells & Maidstone RSPCA group based in Kent. The group is totally self supporting and receives no assistance or financial aid from the RSPCA itself.

The date is April 13th 2008


The main meeting place is Hein Gericke car-park in Maidstone at 1100. Hein Gericke GPS co-ordinate is N51.280168 E0.521644. The aim is to depart HG at 1130.

I am also looking at adding a couple of meeting places for riders to collect and then ride to the main meeting place at Hein Gericke.

The first will be for anyone coming from the north/west at the Oakdene Cafe. The ride-in will be co-ordinated by the Kent BMF group. Lookout for their bright yellow reflective waistcoats. Meet there in time for the short ride departing about 11am from the layby opposite the cafe.

The second from the other direction at the new M20 J11 Services. The run from here will be led by me and we will take the A20 route not the M20 to Maidstone. Once again look out for the bright yellow BMF waistcoat. I plan to leave the services at 10.15am.

The kennel we will go to is primarily for dogs looking to be re-homed. They are using part of a kennel at Boxley near Maidstone. Please bring along dog food and your wallets!


**** Destination has been changed by the RSPCA from this kennel to another in the Maidstone area. Sadly this new kennel doesn't have any facilities to make drinks and food. (amended 25/3/08) ****

What do you get out of it? A cup of tea, maybe a biscuit or even a piece of cake, plus the warm feeling that comes with helping to keep the dogs and puppies in the kennels alive and well. Hopefully the lucky ones will be fostered and adopted rather than seeing out their days in the kennel.

The event has been advertised to the clubs I am a member of and later in the year I hope to get some flyers made up to place in dealerships around the county. I have also written to all the UK monthly motorcycle magazines and the BMF's "Motorcycle Rider" hoping to get a decent turnout!

If you are reading this from a link from one of the bike club websites and forums I have posted on, or from a club magazine, please feel free to pass the details on to any other riders you meet and see if you can recruit them to come along!

So that we have an idea of the numbers that might turn up on the day, please could you email to say that you are coming (and the number to expect!!). It will help the volunteers make sure there are enough tea and cakes for all!

You can see more about the local group on their own website - http://www.midkentrspca.com/

Kent Pet Run Website


Thanks.

24 September 2007

First Impressions: Suzuki Jacket (Part 2)

After a week of wearing the jacket every day to work and both days over the weekend, my initial impressions are that for the £99 price tag it is a good jacket to buy.

On the few occasions when it rained it stayed dry inside and the two inside pockets, one each side of the main zip but curiously both on the left rather than one each side, worked well. One for wallet and one for phone. Neither leaked.

Without the removable lining it came with I would have serious doubts that this is a "four season" jacket. I tend to remove the quilted lining from any jacket and wear something else as it gives more flexibility with the weather. One day last week we had a very cold start to the day and I was a bit chilled on the M20! That was a one-ff and it has proved better as the week progressed.

I also have a slight reservation on the main zip. It;'s chunky enough, and like all zips it has a metal tag to pull it with, but the elastic in the back of the jacket to keep it snug, does cause the zip to pull apart when trying to do it up. Holding the edges of each side as close together gets over this. But it is worth keeping an eye on.

All in all I am pleased with it. After the Buffalo experience... it isn't hard to please!

23 September 2007

Berkshire Museum of Aviation History

Had a good run across on the A25. It used to be scenic but not so much traffic. When I lived in Camberley and when I had just joined the SOC, we used to ride across the A25 from Guildford to Sevenoaks and then up to Brands Hatch.
I'm sure there were more open limited sections in those days.
Yesterday, there seemed to be too much hatching in the centre of the road and all too many 40 and 50 limits. It didn't stop the weekend-warriors overtaking us and the cars across solid double white lines. These guys are so much better riders than us. It's amazing none of them are in BSB or even racing at club level. Perhaps that would mean actually being able to ride?
We had a bit of a detour around Shere before we found the ford. I was hoping to get a picture of Paul B and Ian G coming through, but a Freelander came along the narrow exit track and put paid to that. It's not very deep, but has enough water in it to wet the underside of the engine!
After the ford we rejoined the A25 and gave the Silent Pool as miss and stopped instead at Newlands Corner for a spot of lunch and a chat. It's a place for another ride out one sunny Sunday.
We were amused at the banter of the weekend warriors as we queued for a coffee. All talk of the right gear to be in for a certain corner. This is the A25 mate. Not Brands Hatch or Monza! What a plonker.
Once back on the road we managed to miss the ford at Chobham as the GPS location I was given was wrong. We eventually arrived at Woodley and the small museum about 1330.. a bit late.
Nice to see some old greats of the SOC, Phil Hingert and Tony Taylor had come along.


Nice to see my old Cavalcade that Tony owns now and has kept looking really good. I had it for 4 years between 1987 and 1991 when I sold it when made redundant and had to keep the more useful bike... DR800!

The motorway thrash not so good on the way back! Plenty of Sunday afternoon traffic and after Maidstone my trim round my screen began to pull off and I had to grab it before it went completely. Sadly it lost on of the clips and so I'll have to leave it off. Once it got to flick against my visor I had to grab it and try to hold it as I pulled on the hard shoulder.
For those of you that like the look of a Cavalcade and want to know more, please go to
www.sccuk.f9.co.uk. The Suzuki Cavalcade Club has a small and enthusiastic membership in the UK. The bike was never officially imported here and was mainly for the US market to compete with the Honda Gold Wing. However, in the late 80's some found there way to the UK from the US as private imports. Mine was brought from Florida by a guy that brought a few non-UK models in and who was based near Stoke on Trent, hence the HEH registration. In the old registration system EH was Stoke!

22 September 2007

Kent Charity Pet-Food Run 2007 - Cancelled

The pet run was cancelled officially last weekend, although it was removed from the SOC diary almost as soon as it went up, as I decided that without any SOC and other riders bothering to get in touch to say they were going it may have been a bit of a cock up.

Instead I am planning, along with the same local RSPCA, group to have a look in Spring next year. Giving more time for people to prepare..

This obviously wasn't good enough for some wanker that tried to post a rude comment on the original page for the event. All comments are moderated and I'd hardly let that through. A gutless wanker as well, not having the bollocks to put his or her name to their comments.

17 September 2007

España por favor!

In a couple of weeks we are off to Spain for our wedding anniversary. Not on the bike but flying with Thompson-Fly to Malaga, then to the timeshare at Torrenueva Park.

Last week I was looking at places to go to use up the "banked" timeshare weeks. Spain has loads free at most times of the year, although kids holidays in July and August are a problem if you want to go then. I tend to look elsewhere! We already have a week booked in Hungary near Lake Balaton in August 08, more of that trip elsewhere.

So to the last week that needs booking. I decided that Spain might be a good idea, loads of places to go, and more cheap flights. I've knocked any thoughts of the US off the menu as the passport requirements and all the data they want on travellers means they can poke it right up their arses. We have been their biggest supporter in the "War on Terror", and then they treat us like shit.

Anyway, back to the subject. Checking a variety of dates and airlines produced really cheap fares to Valencia with Easyjet. A quick look on RCI showed that there were a few resorts where Valencia was a viable option. So I booked both of them The week is actually half term week in some places and so there may be kids, but where we are going is a little off the tourist trail for the British and their kids. I hope!

We'll have to see eh?

First Impressions: Suzuki Jacket

Although I bought, or rather exchanged this jacket, a few weeks ago, today is the first time I have actually worn it on the bike. With the "Indian summer we have been having recently I was happy to wear the Joe Rocket mesh jacket with the EDZ windproof inner shell under it when it was a bit nippy early in the morning.

Today, the forecast was for rain and so I dug the new one out of the wardrobe. I very rarely keep the linings in the jackets as it makes them less versatile when the weather changes. So I prefer to take a jumper or sweatshirt with me instead.

So, what was the experience like? Although it didn't rain, the road was damp on the way from home up to the M20. First impression of the jacket is that it is shorter than the normal jackets I like to wear and less bulky than the Buffalo it replaces. As a result it was a little parky on the way in with just a shirt and the EDZ.

It has two inner pockets on the left side, one inside and one outside the main zip. On the front there is a zipped pocket in the left that is definitely not going to be waterproof. On the right are two small pockets that look like mobile phone pockets, but these are no way near even pretending to be waterproof! Maybe in the sunner I'd chance a phone!

On the main seams there are also pockets that are too high and back to be able to get hands in when off the bike.

As well as the bright (at the moment) white Suzuki logo on the back, both forearm have the same brilliant white logos. The left sleeve has a small pocket, maybe for change? We'll see!

I'll see what it is like on the way home with my sweatshirt on.

10 September 2007

How much longer can it last?

When it was needed in the "proper" summer we hardly saw the bloody sun, so whilst it's here now we have to make the most of it.

Yesterday, we had a day off from the bike and had a run in the car. The stereo turned up and Gary Moore banging away on the guitar.



First stop Tenterden. We parked up outside the Town Hall and took a turn up and down the High Street, before finishing up at the Lemon Tree restaurant. It's in one of the oldest buildings in the town. Lunch was pretty fair snap!

The drive home was a loop through Rye and Camber. We would have stopped in Camber, but I am buggered if I'll pay to park!

Today, another sunny day and work again! Aaaagh!



Paul Devall - sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

8 September 2007

Up early

It's not as though I had much in the way of plans today, but yesterday's puncture and subsequent temporary plug from the RAC meant a proper fix was required.

I was up as though it was a work day, much too early for a Saturday! With the speed restriction on the plugged tyre set at 40mph I wanted to be off so that I was at Watling Tyres in Catford as close to opening as possible. I turned into the workshops by about ten to nine and by twenty past was on the way home.

The repair with a permanent plug vulcanised in place was £22. Much better than shelling out for a new tyre.

Once back there was time for a run over to Canterbury for Claire to do a bit of shoe shopping. I just wandered about with her!

Paul Devall - sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

7 September 2007

Not pretty...


Not pretty..., originally uploaded by pauldevall.

On the way to work and a puncture. had to extract a 3/8in drive torx socket from the tread.

I called the breakdown service that comes free with eBike Insurance policies and it was dealt with quickly and efficiently.

It's not a pretty finish but that glue will wear off as I ride up to Catford for Watling's to put a permanent fix into it.

6 September 2007

Great Week for biking!

So far this week the weather has been good enough to ride in to work and every day.



Every day I've been able to wear my vented Joe Rocket jacket and with the EDZ inner it has been a good combination.



Paul Devall - sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

1 September 2007

Constable Country

Flatford Mill, originally uploaded by pauldevall.

At the weekend we had a trip to a couple of NT sites after visiting Claire's Dad.

The first was Flatford and this is my view of the Mill across the river. John Constable painted his version from a different angle and of course, in 1817 there was slightly less undergrowth and trees to contend with.



This is Bridge Cottage, and this is the first building you come to after parking your car or, in our case, motorcycle in the official car-park. To protect the area, only residents are allowed to drive down the narrow lane that leads to the river.

The site is owned by the National Trust and Bridge Cottage and red tiled building next door (the shop and restaurant) are open to the public. The Mill itself is leased to a Field Study Centre as it Willy Lotts Cottage, also the subject of a John Constable painting.
The other place we were going to see is Bourne Mill in Colchester, but the satnav managed to take us all round Colchester and failed to tell us to stop and we found our way on the A12 again! Oops.

30 August 2007

EDZ Innershell

I looked at these at my local bike shop a while ago and marvelled at how gossamer thin yet stretchy this material is. How would it work? Then I saw the price and tried to calculate the number of thermals I could buy with £40. Quite a few.

But would they actually be as good as the EDZ Innershell. I doubt it if my experiences are to be believed.

My subscription of Bike magazine was due and so when I saw that new subscribers could choose to have an EDZ Innershell as a free gift I dropped the reminder in the bin and after a few weeks I logged on to the subscriptions website and took out a new one, and ticked the box for the EDZ Innershell.

Although quite portly, the largest size that Bike had listed was XL, and it is quite snug! They obviously don’t expect fat people to sub to their magazine. The EDZ Innershell is available in sizes up to 3XL according to EDZ own website - http://www.edz.biz/edz-windstopper-innershell.html.

I have no idea how it works. Why do I need to? It does. I wore it on Sunday afternoon for the first time, after a long day out in France wearing just a polo shirt and my Joe Rocket Phantom 4.0 vented jacket. Although not winter cold, the wind was whipping through the mesh at speeds of up to 130kph and the EDZ Innershell coped perfectly. I’ve worn it everyday this week to work on my commute from Folkestone to Central London, and in the mornings the air can be quite chilly, I have yet to be cold.

The best test so far was last night on the way back from football at the Emirates when I added a sweatshirt over it to add a bit of bulk under the Phantom. Not cold at all. I arrived home at 2330 amazed by the performance of the garment.

The £40 price tag is still a little daunting but unless you can score one free it, it may be worth that money to keep the wind out.

Photo posed by an actor!!!!

Champions’ League - Aug 29th

According to the song sung by the supporters of our local rivals we are “having a laugh” if we think we can win the Champions League. At least you have to be in it to win it and when they, Tottenham Hotspur, haven’t won the league in England since 1961 not finished in the top four in the Premiership ever, then you can’t help laughing back.

After a second year of finishing 4th in the Premiership we had to again qualify for the CL. As we are a big team from one of the main countries, we are lucky and only have to play in the last round of qualifiers.

The draw could have been tricky as we got Czech Champions Sparta Prague. A fortnight ago we won the first leg 2-0 in Prague, and last night was the home leg at the Emirates.

As I am on the bike this week in preference to the train, I had the luxury of not getting up there too early. In the end I left work at just before six o’clock and by ten past I was parking up in the bike parking space at the foot of Aubert Place and in sight of the stadium. Last time I did this, I was lucky to squeeze on the end, but this time, it was almost empty and I chose my spot – on the end!

Dinner, in the splendid Park Café across the road, of sausage, chips and beans, two slices and a coffee all for £4. Very nice! Not exactly slimming but it filled the spot at the right time.

My brother, Neill, who had eaten some suspect burger from one of the stands that fill the streets, joined me and then we walked across to the ground.

There was no alcohol for sale at the bars as this was a UEFA rule. I wonder if they had the same ban in Prague for the Slavia/Ajax game to name but one.

The game went quite predictably. The Arsenal being two goals up from the first leg seemed to be at 75% energy and probing. Sparta outclassed but trying as hard as they could. Tomas Rosicky, a former Sparta player was given a bit of a kicking but scored the opener.

Then the game was quite boring until the last ten minutes or so when we upped the pace and scored twice more through Fabregas and Eduardo.

The trip home was relatively painless. I have been wearing my Joe Rocket vented jacket all week and my new toy. An EDZ under shirt that is claimed to be windproof. It is, buy one. It wouldn’t be enough on its own over a polo shirt so I had a sweatshirt over it, and wasn’t cold on the way home. Eventually pulling onto the drive at 2330, a full hour and ten minutes before I would have had I been on the train!

The next game for me isn’t until the 22nd unless we play the first CL match at home the week before.

29 August 2007

Bluetooth Revisted

Rather than write up what has happened so far in my Quest to get wireless between GPS and helmet I have copied the article I wrote for the BMW Club "Journal" here and added a few photos.

The original idea behind the search for a Bluetooth solution for my Quest GPS was entirely down to the fact that I kept getting off the bike and the wire between my helmet and the unit kept pinging off. As well as looking a prat (steady at the back!) there was always the paintwork jack plug interface to be avoided!

The options seemed quite limited. There are loads of Bluetooth earpieces available that stick in one ear for phones, but try to get a helmet on with one of them in place! Not going to happen.

So, the solution needed to be more motorcycle oriented. The beginning of a solution came on two fronts; one in a shop and the other on the Suzuki OC Kent Centre run to Ypres at Easter 2007.

The first was when I called into Infinity in Holborn to pick up my Schuberth C2 after a minor repair. I saw that they had an advert for a Bluetooth head set from Cardo called the "Scala". It all looked pretty good in the picture that featured either a full face or an open face helmet. More of that later! At about £70 it was quite pricey just to get to listen to Daisy tell me what to do and where to go, but looked a decent bit of kit.

The second solution came on the side of a fellow rider's helmet. It was another make but was highly similar looking piece of kit. His was made by Interphone and was bought in from the US. It's similar in appearance to the "Scala" though. It also retails for quite a bit more than the Cardo "Scala".

I went back but Infinity didn't have a test kit available and I felt that I wanted to try something before shelling out, so I emailed Cardo. Okay, they are in the US, but email knows no boundaries. As a surprise they offered to send me a kit free to test. I may have said I was a published journo, which is true! Not just here either.

A few weeks later and before the trip to the Island for TT100, the kit arrived, a "Scala" and mains charger. Great stuff.

Over the years I've assembled an impressive collection of helmets. I have a Caberg J1S that although 3 years old I don't like to chuck away. Similarly, a Nitro N700V that I bought a few years back but found it far too tight round the head above the ears and then I dropped it on the ground on a trip to Belgium. Even "easing" the padding had little effect. Plus of course the Schuberth!

I rushed to fit the clamp for the Bluetooth unit to the C2. Aarggh! The most expensive helmet I have owned since my Eddie Lawson replica Shoei, and the "Scala" mount won't fit as it fouls the mechanism for the flip! Okay. Try it on the Nitro.

A bit of padding pulled off the inside of the shell lets it fit, but the microphone boom wasn't long enough! By then I had run out of time before going to the TT. Everything went back in the box!

Once back home a fortnight later, I searched around in the cupboard for a helmet I bought only 18 months ago to get home from work after some scumbag forced my Givi top box open and stole my go-to-work OGK and my gloves. With a "best" helmet at home I wasn't inclined to spend a fortune on a get-me-home piece of kit. Enter the Caberg Classico, "£40 to you mate". It fits like a washing up bowl, and is probably only slightly sturdier.

The "Scala" fits straight on to it! Fitting the bracket with the clamp and locking screws is a little fiddly as the supplied Allen key is quite small and the hex hole to get it in isn't very deep, so you have to be careful not to round them off. The unit fits on the left side of the helmet about level with the strap on the Classico.
The unit itself clips on and has a locking feature so that once fitted correctly is doesn't fly off! Attached to the bracket is the boom for the mike and a thinner lead that leads on the basic "Scala" to a single earpiece. The earpiece is very slim and after a bit of fiddling you can find a comfortable place as close to your lughole as possible. It is also Velcro backed to let it stick to the lining of the helmet. Excuse my technical terms!

The boom for the microphone is the right length on the Classico. Success. But at what price?

I emailed Cardo to give them my feedback. They said they had a new kit out with a longer boom and they would send me one to try with the Schuberth or J1S. It hasn't arrived yet, but is supposed to have a longer boom and a different fitting for the bracket.

At least I know have the helmet end of the Bluetooth equation sorted, even if it is with a £40 bowl on my head.

But what about getting the Quest to talk to me without wires? The main reason for all this messing about in the first place. This is the really clever bit. After some days of surfing I found several Bluetooth transmitters that have been developed for older mobile phones that don't have Bluetooth as standard. A couple were a little bulky but one immediately jumped off the screen at me. Called the BTA II and made by… you guessed Cardo. Another email and a few days later one arrived FOC to test.

Although it feels rubbery to the touch there are too many openings for the charger jack plus and buttons to make it waterproof for my application. Piggybacked on the back of a non-Bluetooth phone in your pocket would be okay.

Pairing it with the headset was a doddle. I have heard that there have been problems pairing the "Scala" with Garmin Zumos as the four digit numbers it needs vary. As these are both Cardo products they share the coding, and as neither has any way of inputting a different one, then that's a plus!

As the jack plug is smaller than the jack socket on the Garmin OEM cradle's audio output I had to get an adapter. Maplin came up trumps for a few pence.

The BTA II comes with about 6 inches of coiled cable to the jack, and so needs to be sited close to the Quest. For the test I have simply put a square of Velcro on the back of it and another square of the opposite Velcro on the top of the clutch master cylinder on the GS. The coil of wire is long enough to keep it from the left side handlebar switches. Once turned on it has a very bright blue LED to show it is switched on and working. No problem in daylight but at night it can be a little distracting, so the Velcro allows it to be turned away from the rider. In inclement weather I need to find a better solution to protect it from the rain. One joker suggested a condom or better still, a finger cut from a latex glove and secured with a laccy band!

So how does it work? Very easily. Both the "Scala" and BTA II are supposed to have 7 hours continuous use battery life. In reality both units go into standby mode after a few minutes. I've used them in conjunction a few times for short runs and then on a trip to France over August Bank Holiday, where they were used on and off for about 8 hours.

The "Scala" has some trickery in it that increases the volume as you go along but I have the Quest set at 7 out of 7 in any case for motorcycle output. On the French trip and with earplugs, I could still hear the instructions on the autoroute at around 80mph quite clearly, and this is despite the wind rush under the ears on the Classico. A quieter helmet should prove even better.

The only niggle is that when Daisy chimes in with a change of direction or whatever; the first millisecond is missed as the BTA II wakes up from standby. E.g. when "she" is saying, "In 1.7 miles keep right", it misses the "In", but any subsequent instructions are perfect, and nothing is missed. I assume this is because both units are no longer in standby mode and this is repeated each time the unit goes to standby. Luckily the unit always gives more than one countdown to a route change. A small price to pay for having the unit save battery life in standby mode and then waking it up.

The goal of getting a non-Bluetooth GPS to talk to me via Bluetooth has been accomplished! Hurrah.

What next? I already have the phone paired with the headset but have only had a few calls and both of them I missed as I was in traffic. To accept a call you need to press the button on the unit and although it is easy to find and big enough to press with a gloved finger, you have to time it right.

The other use of the Cardo "Scala" is that of a bike-to-bike intercom, pairing it with another "Scala" (and I assume any other Bluetooth headset?) and chatting to your hearts content!

Cardo make a two-unit kit called "Teamset" that has everything twice (!) for rider to pillion intercom. This looks a good idea but the problem is that the pillion unit isn't as fully functioned as the rider unit, so no GPS (no problem) but also no phone pairing, which might be! The "Teamset" also has two speakers per helmet.

Oh yes. The BTA II will fit to most MP3 players so I suppose you could listen to your favourite sounds as you ride along, should you want to!

So that's the end of the project, or at least part one of the project. I'm just waiting to get the extra kit for the Schuberth that Cardo were sending me to see if I can get it working with my "best" helmet!

26 August 2007

Jardins de Valloires Day Trip - 26th August

It was initially Nigel’s idea to go to France over the BH Weekend, and originally Monday. Claire and I were the only ones in the Kent Centre that were up for it and we couldn’t do Monday, but could do Sunday.

After a change of plans we arrived together on the 0820 Shuttle to France in company with another trio of bikes and their riders. A nice MV with extra loud pipes and a couple of Guzzis. One being a 1000 Quota, a rarity in every sense!

The plan was to head off down the D940 along the coast and stop for a coffee under Cap Blanc Nez at the Escalles campsite café. Sadly, when we got there after a short ride with perfect views over the Channel to Kent, it was closed until noon. Strange for a weekend in August.

We set off south again and at Wissant I hove right into the village. Ahead the road was closed and we parked up for a walk around a splendid village that we had never been to before. There was a boat festival on and the square was full of tables and chairs gearing up for lunch that appeared to be grilled or fried fish sandwiches! We had our coffee and then had a walk before returning to the bikes with ideas of lunch.

At Wimereux we stopped in the parking we have used before and went to the restaurant opposite the friterie. The friterie is either the best or the only one in town as the queue was always long! Sadly, not a good choice in my opinion. The moules were okay but the juice they were in was a bit insipid. Claire’s steak was supposed to be rare but was well done at least. At least my chips were okay. Nigel says that his moules were insipid as well as the sauce and his chips were soggy!

After a quick walk to the bank ATM to get a bit more cash we set off for the Jardins. I led and my newly fixed Quest led us across country to the N1 and then right to the door, well almost. The Abbaye and the Jardins are on the same site but have two entrances about 400 yards apart!

We spent an hour or so wandering around the gardens following the guide we were given. How did the girl behind the counter know we were English? I took out my camera and found it was all there except for a memory card, so we had to rely on Nigel’s photographic skills…

After another de-rigueur coffee we had to set off pronto to get back for the 1850 Shuttle leaving Nigel and Jane to a more leisurely trip back for a later crossing.

Another good day away. It shows you don’t have to go far to see something different.

25 August 2007

Summer here?

Today I'm off to see the Arsenal play at the Emirates against Manchester City.


Back in the olde days I had a brief flirtation with City. We had moved down to Surrey from Lancashire (You could in those days before the madness overtook the price of houses) and at the time City were doing quite well in League and Cups.


My first trip to Wembley was to see City beat West Brom in the League Cup. In the end the minor infatuation came to an end and I went back to being an Arsenal supporter full time. My Dad supported the Arsenal all his life.


I decided to let the train take the strain but the service (what service) from Sandling of on train an hour is disgusting. Instead I got on myu bike and rode to Ashford. A large and free motorcycle park is right in front of the station entrance. With the bike locked up it was all very painless.



I've left my jacket in one of the Zegas and my old helmet (not worth tempting fate!!) In the box.



On the subject of jacket. Today, "I are mostly wearing a vented jacket".



Let's hope is doesn't rain.



Paul Devall - sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

24 August 2007

Kent Charity Pet-Food Run 2007 - 23rd September 2007

Once again I am organising the annual pet food run on behalf of the Kent Centre SOC, and again this year we are tying up with the local volunteer RSPCA group based in and around Maidstone.

The date is September 23rd.

The meeting place is Hein Gericke car-park in Maidstone at 1200 (noon). Hein Gericke GPS co-ordinate is N51.280168 E0.521644

The kennel we will go to is primarily for dogs looking to be re-homed. They are using part of a kennel at Boxley near Maidstone.

Please bring along dog food and your wallets!

Thanks.

Quest! The Final Frontier?

It works. It works.

At the weekend it will get it's proper test on the run to France to visit the Jardins de Valloire.

Fingers crossed.

21 August 2007

Quest!

After the total system failure that occurred on the trip up to Suffolk that I mistook for simply the van body shielding, and then the performance that could have ruined the trip to Amsterdam, the Quest went back to Garmin in Hampshire and came back yesterday.

Or rather a different one came back yesterday, and that is the problem. It fired up great but cos it is a different unit, it wouldn't let me load any maps. Mapsource works though, I simply can't add maps to the unit and open them.

Garmin have been very quick and today I have a new unlock code to type in and see if that works... Watch this space.

BH Sunday to France

What started off as a suggestion by Nigel Jones, a fellow SOC Kent Centre member, to have a day trip on BH Monday seems to have turned into just Claire and me going over to France for the day, but on BH Sunday!

The weather forecast looks good, so maybe the vented Joe Rocket might be the jacket of choice or perhaps it not, the new Suzuki jacket can be given its first outing as part of Devallwear.

We have some Tesco vouchers left over from the Amsterdam trip and they had to be used by the end of August, so it was only natural that we used them. The sticking point could have been the 14-day restriction on booking on Eurotunnel, but this was smoothed over by Mandy in the reservations at Folkestone,. Thanks Mandy.

So we will be outward on the 0820 on Sunday and back on the 1850. As expected it will be busy in both directions as it is almost the last weekend of the kid's school holidays.

We don't have much of a plan but we'd like to have lunch and perhaps get to the Jardins de Valloire near Crécy in Picardy.

17 August 2007

Kettle Times 3

Out as soon as possible to lay the 30m cable across the drives to the garage and get the battery on charge. Checked the levels and all stacks are above the line. may need to top up with distilled water later to get them back to the top level.

With power on the charger hums and the battery can now heard to be active, lifting it a bit in the holder (strap pinged off on its own but still whole!) and there are bubbles. Hopefully, the charger can recover enough power to get it to start later in the day.

I'll try to drop in to Alford Brothers and pick up some new plugs whilst I am there. They are sure to still have B8ES aren't they! In the meantime, clean the ones already in the engine, gapped okay. Bike out in the open, the tyres a bit flat, pumped up so it moves better pushing it about. Optimism high, why aren't I pessimist!

Dribble a couple of litres of unleaded into the tank, turn to PRI, petrol pissing out of the drain. Switch to ON. Ignition off. Kick over a few times them click the kill button to on. Kick over. Nothing. It doesn't help that the kick start shaft was badly worn and has been for years. No proper purchase.

Nothing. Right plug out, turn over on the electric. No spark. Bugger. Running out of time. Perhaps this should have been started at the start of the week rather than the end.

Wheel bike back in garage until I have more time to have a look and see what the problem is. Maybe drop John Storrie a line and see if he can help.

I hate DIY!

Up this morning and get the first crap job of the day done; the silicone seal round the shower tray in the en-suite!

Yesterday, it took the best part of two hours on my hands and knees (oo-er!) to cut and remove the old seal. I'd not done it that long ago but it was a cheap brand from Aldi and had no nasty chemical shit in it to combat the bathroom's friend: mould.

This morning, I cleaned it all up again and went in with the latex gloves (chalked inside of course) and laid a new seal. Had Bodgit the Builder who built the house managed to get the tiles level at the bottom of the wall, the seal between shower tray and tile would be easier, but instead the gap isn't consistent. Much messing about and it is done. Once try I have a bit of trimming to do.

16 August 2007

Kettle Times 2

Now that there's the will back again, I have to measure how much!

After the years of being condemned to the back of the garage there may be a lot to do to get it running.

The problem I've already mentioned on the Blog, the throttle body being broken (and dangerous!) can be fixed as. I have a spare set of grips, NOS (I think) in my collection of parts.

The main work to get throiugh the MoT looks as though it will revolve around the brakes. The front brakes have been a constant battle and I spent ages before to clean the calipers and fit new gaiters and 'O' rings.

One of the mods that was done to my old GT550A was to fit early GS model brakes. The calipers fit straight on as the models shared the same fork legs. It had to be done to the 550 as it originally came with only a single brake up front and the mounts on the other leg. Changing for a pair of GS brakes improved overall performance by a greater factor than simply adding another GT style caliper.

Oh yeah. Almost forgot. Gotta get the bugger started! May need to invest in a set of new plugs. as well as petrol!
Over the years the cardboard I had under the engine has become soaked in oil. I have no idea where it comes from, but there it is completely soaked through like a trainee firelighter. But under it, not a drop has made the leap from cardboard to concrete floor. I'm almost certain it is 2-stroke oil. I'll check the tank and top it up with Wilkinson's finest...

Kettle Times

As the week off work draws to a close I decided to get the garage a bit tidied up so I could access the Kettle at the back of the space. Two trips of crap to the tip later and I have a bit of access space. A plan to move stuff to the back along the walls wouldn't work as we have hooks with tools and stuff hanging, but it would have been nice to have both bikes at the front where I can see to work on them.

My garage is in a block and has no power, so I have to run a lead across from the house. Luckily a 30m length does it and goes in a square to stay off the neighbours drives. I'm sure they wouldn't mind it going across but this way they get to park and not trip over!

I've had the battery on charge most of the afternoon so far but it was completely dead. I'm hoping that it will hold a charge after all this time.

Yes, time. It seems to have flown very quickly. The tax disc on the Kettle shows it expiring at the end of July 2002! Yep. Five whole years. As you can imagine, the tank is completely dry, but I'll get some petrol tomorrow in the can and feed it a little. I'll pop the plugs and see what needs doing. I was hoping to get it started at least and get it out in the open. It's been SORNed so long the MoT is history.

It is to my shame that I have left it to rust away at the back of the garage. Although saying that, the Scottoiler has kept the chain very oily and it looks as though it was used only yesterday.

The problem that saw me lay her up wasn't that I simply couldn't be arsed, that's the reason I've done nothing, but that the throttle was sticking open at inconvenient times. I had planned to take it across to John Storrie, but never got dates fixed.

I did discover what the cause was. though. In an accident a few years ago, they had fixed most of the main damage apart from the unobtainables, like the brand new exhaust with a ding in it. The end of the throttle grip was scuffed and although it was MY insurance companies assessor, they refused to pay for a new one. One of the reasons I gave Carol Nash the flick.

On investigation, the problem of sticking open and having to be forced shut was that the end of the throttle that hangs over the end of the bar was damaged and has a spike of plastic pushed through and it was occasionally catching on a burr inside the bar! If the tight b*****d from Carol Nash had authorised and new throttle and grip it would have been okay, and I might not have almost soiled my pants a few times with a stuck and full open throttle. All that for a few quid.

13 August 2007

Rye time!

Sunday, we should have been out with the Kent Centre but no one could make it, so we went to Rye anyway.



Since the last time we went they have modified the entrance to the quayside at the Strand. Not for the better for me on the GS with the Touratechs fitted. The gap seems much narrower!



Why they simply don't open it for the bikes is hard to see.



Okay, in the summer the town is teeming with coach loads of Japanese and other more home made tourists, but the bikes keep the Strand Cafe and Kettle of Fish chippie in business. Some exchange for keeping the cash registers chinging might be in order. It's not going to happen.



Anyway, we had a look in a pine shop that Claire likes. All very modern with a CD instead of a paper catalogue. And then a long walk up the hill to have a look around and a coffee.



The weather was so warm and dry. Good job we had the vented jackets on instead of the heavier jackets.

Paul Devall - sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

New Jacket - Buffalo RIP - Hello Suzuki

First job on Saturday was to get rid of Buffalo Jacket 3.

Michael at Robinson's had ordered me an XXL (okay I'm a porker!) Suzuki jacket from a brand new range that they are bringing out. The photo didn't look too impressive with former British Superbike Champion John Reynolds as the model.

However, in reality it looks pretty good. The Suzuki wording on the sleeves and across the back might not be the best advert for a BMW owner but I do have a Suzuki laid-up in the garage.

The jacket is simply called (on the label!) the 99AGV-JCKT-2XL, a name that rolls off the tongue! It is made of Reissa "Power Skin" material and is breathable, waterproof and windproof. The fit is very good with part elasticated hem to hold it close to your arse.

For added security it comes with Knox armour in the shoulders, elbows and back. Over the next few weeks we'll see how it performs.

It comes with a detachable quilted lining, but I'll never get to test this as I hate them. I take them out of all my jackets and I prefer to wear a sweatshirt or micro fleece underneath instead.

9 August 2007

Amsterdam Weekend - More Random Pix

Here are a few more photographs from the Amsterdam weekend. We seemed to be clicking off all over the place, but haven't that many pics to show for it all! I did delete a load of crap ones though!

West Kerk?

Flower Market from other side of canal

First floating flower shot from tram stop!

Rembrandtplein

Inside the ArenA and the Ajax Graffiti Wall.

Amsterdam Weekend - Random Pix

Just a few photos taken over the weekend in Amsterdam. Captioned but not much of a tale to them!


"Nemo" Museum


Floating Chinese Restaurant

Edge of Gay Pride Area marked by pink balloons

View of the canal from our hotel window

Some Pride fans on the Canal.


Ride to Work!

I had this vague idea that riding to work in the summer holiday would be easier and less stressful than normal days when the commuters are racing to work.

The traffic in August is only marginally lighter, the roadworks on the M25 don't help. You realise that whilst there are some wallies on the road, at least out of the holiday season, they are consistent wallies!

Mr and, more often than not, Mrs Vacationer, is far less predictable. Put one of them at the wheel of a car, add a liberal dose of kids and then they weave from lane to lane, mess about with their stereos or whatever it is that means they take their eyes off the road ahead, and generally are a menace.

Only today I had "Mum" (not her real name obviously) at the wheel of an MPV who was unable to actually keep to a consistent speeds, ebbing and flowing in the fairly open reaches of the M20, varying anything between 50 and 70 mph. As I past her she was looking down at her lap for the best part of 15 to 20 seconds... at 70mph... work out how far she had travelled! Around a third of a mile (or say 500 metres) looking down and not at the road. On the phone? Texting? DANGER WILL ROBINSON!

Then there's the summer driver. Usually a man (although we can't let women off the hook too easily), who drives all year round but whose annual mileage hardly exceeds 4000 miles. The summer provides him with his one long journey of the year and he has chosen the same part of France or Germany or wherever as I have. He's also thrifty, his 1990 Escort or more recent Proton is getting old but is in showroom condition. He won't use the toll roads. On the one hand he moans about the state of Britain's roads, but when asked to pay a toll is the first to write to his local paper to complain about road tolls and the iniquity of the use of Road Fund to pay for a few more bullets in Iraq. He has no great idea how to drive for extended periods as his main driving experience is to the station or the supermarket. So he crawls. As he is British he has a right-hand drive car. This makes the autoroute safer in reality, but that inner force that makes sure he never pays a toll means he is sharing the N-roads with you, and he is unable to overtake anything other than the occasional Tour de France wannabe on a cycle. He heads a queue of irate locals without a care in the world. The French can do irate as well as the next man; calm to incandescent in 2 seconds. Except they have another "talent", the ability to overtake in the most ridiculous places, and a lot of that fuelled by being stuck for miles behind Mr Summer Driver!

Worse still, that strange animal, the Human Snail, comes out in the summer. A rare sighting in the winter, once the barometer rises and the calendar gets to June, the roads are increasingly clogged with them; Caravanners. Why? What is there really wrong with a hotel or B&B?

With trucks the next worst thing on the roads and an all year round hazard, as you glide along the motorways of England you see the brake lights coming on and the traffic building into a jam ahead. Quite often, there he is, usually a man but occasionally a woman, their car struggling to meet the legal limit and on the back, their home from home stuck in the middle lane. Unable to get back to the safety of the left lane as the trucks on the inside can't slow down to let him in. And then OMG, there's a big hill ahead for them to crawl up in a deathly rictus! Arrgghh.

Please don't get me started on the old blokes that despite advances in automotive engineering over the last five decades, still wear a hat and coat to drive. For Christ's sake, they have had efficient heaters in even the cheapest car for 40 years! I know your basic Mini or Ford Prefect had no heater and it was colder back in the dark ages, but you have a modern car now. Try reading the manual about how to work the heating and leave the hat and coat for when you get out! Cars have pretty good water sealing, so you don't have to keep an umbrella up in the car when it rains, so why persist with the bloody hat and coat????

Oh well, the holiday season is over for another year soon...