31 July 2012

Pimms No1 Cup

Refreshing Pimms & Lemonade
Refreshing drink when you get home from work? Or maybe want a fruity pre-dinner drink?

Then especially in British Olympic Year you need Pimms No1 - The Original No1 Cup!

A finger or two topped with lemonade and usually loaded with fruit and veggies! I prefer it with a hint of mint.

Arooga!

Paralympic Games

After last week's brush with the Torch and holding the 1948 Torch I was a bit more enthused. Then the opening ceremony and the theatrics showed that in GB we can match the world.

I'd like to have a look around the Olympic Park but on the website all the £10 admission tickets are either not on sale yet or are sold out.

I shifted my search to the Paralympics. The only tickets for the 1st or 2nd September are for the 7-aside football. At £15 they are a snip.

So I bought two. A chance to see the Paralympians do their stuff and a trip around the park itself.

I can put this on the back burner now until after we get back from France.




Olympic Travel

As it was raining hard I decided to use the train.

The slow train was on time and due to the Olympic timetable the Javelin was already on platform 6 at Ashford.

As for the duration of the games it doesn't go any further I guess it is easier to have it there.

The front carriage is usually full even at 0913. Today there were 5 of us. One got off at Olympic Park. Sadly, to accommodate the tourists and games visitors the regular commuters have been sold a bum deal.

The last train back to Ashford on this route in 21st Century Britain is 2139. That's 9.39pm in real money. Disgraceful.

30 July 2012

Disney & Normandy - Plan A

I have spent a few hours working on the Normandy trip. At least the part that comes after the trip to Disneyland Paris.

Disney was all done and dusted months ago with the hotel booked nearby for the Sunday night so we can be at the gates bright an early (or as early as we can). The hotel is an ETAP, soon to be rebranded as an Ibis.  It's cheap, has a loo and shower in the room and is less than £30 for the night. Lovely jubbly. Of course you have to sort out a breakfast.

A batch of Tesco vouchers accounted for about 80% of the fare and I had to add some cash to confirm the booking.  As we have all day to get down to the hotel at Chelles, I booked a slightly later crossing to save us getting up too early. I'll start to look for places to stop on the way to make a 200 mile motorway run a little more interesting. Maybe we'll try to avoid the A26/A1 or A16 routes down towards Paris.

Plan A
To make the most of the 5-day crossing I needed to look at alternatives, and although it might have been nice to stay east of Paris and head for Champagne for a few nights, I was very taken by southern Normandy on the trip to the MotoGP in May and so I looked for hotels over that side.

On our off motorway run between Alencon and Le Mans we passed through Beaumont sur Sarthe with its medieval centre to the side of the main road.  So overnight 1 is there.

Claire would like to visit some more of the Plus Beaux Villages de France and there are only a couple in the area. Most appear to have been crammed into the Dordogne! Maybe another time?

So rather than stay in one place I have devised the trip as a tour.  In the morning we check out from Beaumont and then head off to stop 2 calling into one of the Beaux Villages at Sainte-Suzanne. It's slightly south west of the overnight, but only about half an hour driving and the route back east goes to the north of Beaumont to Alencon. Alencon has an old city centre, but we may not have time to call in.

Stop 2 is in Vimoutiers.  It's near to where I want to go. The Memorial and Battlefield at Montormel.  Montormel is on the top to the valley where in August 1944 the retreating German army was encircled and fought their way out suffering enormous casualties. We narrowly missed it in May as the GPS location was wrong on their leaflet. It's right on the website now! I hope.

It is actually on the way to stop 2, but I doubt we will time to call in, so I plan to go back the morning after and then head for stop 3 in Rouen.   Of course this is all open to change depending on weather and traffic.

There is a second Beaux Village at  Le Bec Hellouin between Lisieux and Rouen and so that we can stop in there on the way. 

We should arrive in Rouen in  time for a quick look at the city centre and then have all of Thursday to check it out a bit more before we head back to the tunnel for an early evening Shuttle home.

Now that all that has been done I have to print the paperwork for each of the hotels. I have already created an itinerary on my Tom Tom Rider but then when I exported it, checked it in Tyre, that Claire's Tom Tom XL doesn't seem to have the capability to actually import ITN files created on another model of Tom Tom. So instead I had to connect it to the Acer Netbook, where Claire has her Tom Tom Home, and then using booking.com's website and manually entering the co-ords for the Etap.

I downloaded the Plus Beaux Villages POI file from the Tom Tom website, but strangely neither of the Normandy villages linked below appear!!

Three weeks to go and things could change yet....


Links:

http://www.les-plus-beaux-villages-de-france.org/en
http://www.les-plus-beaux-villages-de-france.org/fr/sainte-suzanne
http://www.memorial-montormel.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaumont-le-Vicomte
http://www.les-plus-beaux-villages-de-france.org/fr/le-bec-hellouin-0

26 July 2012

Olympic Torch Relay - Part 2

I got up at 5am and rode up to London to beat the road closures that we were told were going to happen. They didn't actually!! 

Traffic was heavy to the lights at Falconwood on the A2, but once some of us with the ability to read had seen the sign to say the Olympic Lane was open to all, we used that to go to the Blackwall Tunnel. Bikes no cars!  Traffic was heavier than I had expected for that time of the day though. On the north side the lane was being enforced but only had five empty buses crawling along in it.


"Our Team" plus Robert on the right!
Once in the office at 6.45am I answered a few work emails, yes, work emails and then went outside about 7.30am to meet some work colleagues, Gina, Julie and Mel with her boys Ronnie and Max that had come in early to see the torch go right by our front gate. We were later joined by Anne from our office too. Robert was the 5th person on the street after Mel and her boys and me. He joined our throng!

We had a wait of about 30 minutes before the processions started with coppers on bikes and cycles, then the sponsors trucks (tight b*stard on the Coke truck gave none out although he had a bucket load!!), the a guy from South Africa (!) carrying the torch past us.  I took a few photos using the company Nikon D50 and the best is attached.

Our nearest torch bearer
Once it had past we cut through the building to get another look at it as it passed along Upper Street. Once in the throng we ended up at the Town Hall.

Here we joined the queue to get a hand on one of the 1948 torches.  I missed out on an individual session as there too many pushy knobheads hogging the bloody thing.  In the end I had a "team" pic with Anne and Mel.

 
Mel, Anne and Me with the 1948 Torch.
A little later a TV news reporter asked Julie to give a short interview and she declined, so I stepped up to the mark and answered some questions about the Torch and the Olympics. I have been looking to see if they used it.  Not found it yet.

As time was getting on we set off for the Workers Cafe and had breakfast befiore heading back to the office.


25 July 2012

Olympic Torch Relay

I have no idea if other countries have done this, but in the UK we have had the Olympic Torch doing a relay around the country. It has brought out the people of the areas it has passed through to support the idea.

I missed it in Hythe last week as I have to work and can't be hanging about the street for a few hours on a weekday. So when it comes to a street right outside where I work I thought "Hell yes" I'd be there.  

Today we have been told of the road closures in the area.  The parking at the back of our building will be closed as the road will be closed from about 7am.  So I checked about the other building that we moved from a few weeks back.  The torch will pass right in front of there. All front facing offices and meeting rooms are booked well in advance! But, if I arrive way before it is due the road will be open as the police have a rolling roadblock approach that is about ten minutes ahead of the torch.  Or rather ahead of the procession of sponsors vehicles.

So. get up early and ride in?

First Day of the Olympics Routes

Today was the first offical day that many of the Stalinist "Olympics Only" routes opened and will be enforced.  

I did as Mayor Bojo has suggested and varied my travelling time and if today is going to be the norm, it will be a doddle.  But why do I think that this is a one off?


The ride home was a doddle too. Twenty minutes of light traffic to the petrol stop by the Dome in Greenwich. Fuel up and away again. Fifty minutes to home. If only every day was like this.

24 July 2012

Was a sunny day, not a cloud was in the sky...

Was so warm today for my first ride on the bike for three weeks.

So warm in fact means I wore my Joe Rocket mesh jacket. A bit chilly early on but arrived on my course pleasantly warm and not a sweaty mess.

Yee hah!

23 July 2012

Cruising

Cruising seems to be a fine act of juggling eating with more eating with sleep and trips ashore mixed in.

Since we boarded the ship at Leith we have had two lunches, two afternoon teas, two dinners and two breakfasts.

On Saturday night we cruised south after we had slipped the mooring in Leith near Edinburgh at about 10pm and slowly navigated the harbour to exit via the lock.

Royal Yacht Britannia in Leith
In Leith we shared the harbour with the retired Royal Yacht Britannia.  She still looks good but what a come down after the Queen was forced by the scumbag Tony Blair to let her go.

Arrival in the Tyne was around breakfast and we didn't hurry to eat and get off the ship; in fact it was like the Marie Celeste. In the end we took the coach in to Newcastle and spent a few hours down on the quayside with the iconic Tyne Bridge as one of the attractions.


For me, it's Gateshead on the other side of the river than wins the photo competition!

The Sage (or Dead Silver Slug as the coach driver called it), the Baltic Flower Mill, now an art gallery, and the Gateshead Tilting Millennium Bridge.

Newcastle only had half the swing bridge and halves of the railway bridge and Tyne Bridge itself.

However, Newcastle does have a beach! See pix!


Baltic Flour Mill Arts Centre

The ship set sail again at around 1pm and we stood on deck to watch the progress along the Tyne to the sea. There was an exchange of horns as we slid past the Thompson cruise ship on a nearby berth.

From then on it was a very calm run down the English coast before taking a wider line to avoid East Anglia.

We arrived in Dover around 9am.  


 

MS Quest for Adventure, Port of Tyne


 


Gateshead Millenium Bridge and Baltic Flour Mill
 


North Shields Fish Quay


Tynemouth Priory and Castle

Tyne Bridges

Tyne Bridge

Geordie Beach on Quayside

Gateshead Millenium Bridge

22 July 2012

MS Quest for Adventure - Cabin 206


Cabin 206

Enjoying the cruise. Only two nights but met some very nice people and of course, the food is superb.

The cabin isn't that big but is good enough for a short break. I guess if you pay more then you get a bigger more spacious cabins with a seating area as well as a desk.

Whilst it is nice to meet people, it is also nice to have some space to sit and read or watch the TV.

18 July 2012

Summer continues.. Grey and Wet

What a grey day!
It's July 18th. It's about 8.45a.m. It's grey. Thermometer is about 9deg centigrade. It's drizzling.

Apparently we had the wettest June on record. July can't be far off as there have been no days without rain at least once a day!

Summer?

Good luck to everyone that is planning to holiday in the UK in the coming days.

That includes me and Claire on our mini-cruise.

As "Unlucky Alf" would say; "Bugger!"

17 July 2012

Triumph America

I need to do something about this.  Until I get a letter to say my job is safe, there's no way I can extend myself with a loan.  The only change to this position will be if I win the lottery or inherit a stack of cash.

However, it doesn't stop me fantasising especially when the America is actually £300 cheaper at Laguna than I had thought.  I guess that might not be the OTR price.

16 July 2012

Secure Parking in Islington

One of the irritations in this area has always been the crap provision of secure motorcycle parking around the country, and especially in Folkestone and Hythe where I live.

Until Sainsbury's opened their new store,  provision in Hythe amounts to two small crappy spaces in Aldi car-park, one small space in the Waitrose car-park where you have to clear the trolleys out of the way. Where else?

Shepway was grasping for cash a year or so ago and so the bike space in the car-park by the Imperial at the end of Marine Parade was replaced with the pay and display machine. Mind you, it always had some muppet in a car parked in it.

I have had a few confrontations with errant motorists when sarcastically (not in the John Terry meaning of sarcasm) asking what make their four wheeled motorcycle was as mine only had two wheels.

The picture is of one of the many secure parking places in Islington where I work. This one is a ten bike space with five upside down U-shaped metal bars to lock the bikes to.

I don't expect to go from the crap we have around here to that level in one hit but a few marked spaces would be a start.

Maybe a local campaign for our new MAG group?

14 July 2012

America - Triumph Motorcycles

During the damp sojourn to Laguna Motorcycles this afternoon I was rather taken by the Triumph Cruisers.
I am quite new to the genre. Three test rides on Harley Davidson's in about 20 years doesn't make me anywhere like interested or expert.
Back in about 1996 or 97  I had a Suzuki Marauder VZ800 on loan from Suzuki GB, for a fortnight. Although I got to appreciate how it worked it "wasn't for me" at that time.

At that time, I commuted 90 miles a day round trip everyday of the year (bar snow/ice) and took holidays all over Europe and wanted more mile munching ability and luggage carrying capacity.
But in the intervening 14 or more years things have changed:
  • My daily commute is more like 155 miles a day.
  • I use the train more.
  • I do fewer vacation miles
  • Ride for pleasure less often.
So looking at the America in Laguna opened my eyes a little. Sure, the 1600cc Thunderbird is bigger and classier looking, and the 2300cc Rocket-3 more of a dreadnought, but both are way out of my league cost-wise.
You can get an HD 883 Piglet for similar money. But maybe as I get older I start to think patriotic. Buy British?

Deserted

The summer has been going so badly in the UK.

Usually on a weekend in July in Hythe (where I live!) the beach would be packed. Families enjoying the water and the sun.

It's probably the weekend of June 2/3rd that we last had a decent hot sunny day.

This is disastrous for the tourist industry and all the supporting areas like restaurants and other services.

The cone outside the cafe on Marine Parade looks lonely and forlorn on its own in the rain.





Taken by InvictaMoto




Lunch...

Caribbean today. Pattie with Levi Roots Reggae Reggae sauce (not shown).

Spicy.

Bike No. Car yes.

Pretty astute judgement. Claire and I went up to Laguna Triumph at Ashford to see if I had won the Speed Triple at the open day.

Sadly not.  The numbers /4912 on the end of the registration number and you are a loser.

The astute bit comes in after the Laguna visit; torrential rain started as we left. Visibility was down to less than 50 yards but still the knobheads with no lights or simply way over the limits flew past.

Glad I was in the car.

13 July 2012

Best Ever Music Recording? Led Zep "Stairway to Heaven"

I never tire from listening to this track from the "Led Zeppelin IV" album. In fact as I blog, I am listening to four versions in a row.

I had it on an ancient "IV" CD, then digital downloads of "The Song Remains the Same" and "Mothership".

Plus an intriguing Rodrigo and Gabriel Spanish guitar cover.

The best? I would say the 10 minutes plus of the live version from TSRS.

Surely this is the best crafted track of all time?

12 July 2012

MAG Shop

From Paddy Tyson - Campaigns Coordinator Motorcycle Action Group


Earlier today I posted a link to the online MAG products shop and for some reason (probably my age) it doesn't go direct to the MAG products.

If you go instead to  http://www.mag-uk.org/   you'll see a big black icon on the right, that says MAG SHOP. If you click that, it'll take you right there.

One day I'll get the hang of this IT stuff.

You can also order some products from 01926 844064 during working hours too. If you have a copy of The ROAD magazine handy to see what's available (page 3)

MoT across Europe?

From Paddy Tyson.

I reported February that EU Periodic Technical Inspections (PTI) for motorcycles seemed to have faded away.

It is very rare indeed for over 18months to elapse between an EU public consultation closing and the subject to advance as a firm proposal from the Commission, so we felt able to contemplate that the Commission had gone off the idea, given that they were unable to provide any link between bike accidents and road worthiness testing.

Nine countries in Europe have no form of PTI (or MoT as we refer to it here) and yet there is no instance of increased injury due to unroadworthy bikes. The 9 countries are Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Malta, the Netherlands, and Portugal.

Given the problems the Commission is facing with its attempts to foist anti-tampering rules on us without any proof, we mistakenly thought they would at least attempt to produce some justification for a euro-wide PTI, but the power of the private PTI lobby is great and they stand to make a fortune as the majority of the total bike fleet (35 million) in Europe is over 4 years old, the age at which the Commission propose testing should commence.

In the UK we already have the MoT of course, so British riders won't be affected as profoundly as our European colleagues, but this new example of private industry lobby strength, is worrying. The full proposal is expected to be made public tomorrow, Friday 13th.

If you have a moment, there is a good account of developments here.

It's good to see that FEMA have adopted our EU Hands off slogan, which gives me an opportunity to say that T-shirts (in many sizes) are still available from http://www.euhandsoffbiking.co.uk/  for only £5. It seems they'll be as relevant next year as this!

#######

As for the Type Approval Regulation, we have, as you know, made great inroads.

- The Parliamentary vote has been postponed again until October 25th

- bikes over 47bhp have been exempted from anti-tampering (article 18);

- the onus is being placed on manufacturers to use best engineering practice to ensure we can't modify those bikes still included; the list of what aftermarket parts will be affected by article 52 will now be removed from the dreaded 'Delegated Acts' and written as 'implementing measures' which means they will therefore be seen by negotiators before the proposal becomes law;

- ABS will not now apply to all bikes from 50cc up as the Parliament had hoped, but only those above 125cc and even then, there may yet be the possibility of manufacturers fitting an isolating switch.

Which makes it all the more frustrating when everyone's favourite MEP, Bill Newton-Dunn of the East Midlands, takes it upon himself to continue to attack MAG at any opportunity and to continue to issue inaccurate and misleading information.

Given that he refuses to engage in any meaningful dialogue, it is amazing that he persistently says no-one informs him of what's going on and in the next breadth feels confident enough to attack MAG with misleading information.
His latest missive to constituents is that MAG now fully accepts the EU Parliament's position, a position which is certainly moving towards what we want (as you can see from the gains outlined above), but still has a way to go.

It's hardly that we've moved toward their position!!!

It was they of course, who wanted ABS on 50cc bikes and anti-modification rules that would even penalise bike shops for doing any work on riders' behalf.

I am told that the headquarters of "MAG", which is one of the UK motorcyclists member organisations which has been violently hostile to forthcoming EU law, that they now accept the European Parliament's position. I hope that their headquarters informed their members.

I have just come off the phone to his office in Brussels to ascertain exactly who told him and to ask why these ill-informed attacks on MAG persist.

No answer was forthcoming, but there was agreement that a jointly written statement of apology may be published in the future, though probably after the summer break...

Please remember that if you have the misfortune of Bill Newton Dunn being your Representative in Brussels, remain as polite as possible.

He has written of MAG members issuing death threats, yet when we offered to help him press charges, he said "Don't worry, I'm used to it", and failed to provide specifics.

MAG will not condone threatening behaviour and it won't help any lobby case, but we do understand the incredible frustration that you must feel if you live in the East Midlands. Please note, that BNDs attitude is not typical of MEPs and definitely not typical of the Liberal Democrats who, in other parts of the country are being very active on our behalf.

If you are proud to be associated with MAG regardless of what BND may profess, then you may wish to wear our logo on your chest - there are products to suit all tastes herehttp://www.conistonshop.com/index.php

Paddy Tyson Campaigns Coordinator Motorcycle Action Group - http://www.mag-uk.org

10 July 2012

New overtrousers - Held

In the wet and windy summer we are having in the UK, it is essential to have a decent pair of over trousers to keep the rain out.

Sadly, my last pair of Tech-7 trousers got ripped when I caught the left ankle gusset on the foot peg and ripped a massive hole that renders them useless.

The new ones are made by Held.   Let's hope they hold the weather at bay!

7 July 2012

Suzuki Triples Club de France

Had an invitiation to go on the Suzuki Triples Club de France Treffen next year.

Sadly, I have let my old girl get in such a terrible state that it will need to some long days working to get her ready.

Jardin instantané


African marigolds. Instant garden. Buy 'em and bung 'em in the ground.

4 July 2012

Cruise!!

Never in my wildest dreams did I see myself on deck on a cruise.  Apart from ferry crossings in a variety of places in Europe, and a flirtation with the Merchant Navy that saw me weeks from a deck officers course when I left school, a life on the ocean wave was what my Dad did.

So when Claire found a "taster" cruise on a Saga ship from Edinburgh to Dover, I was a little surprised to find myself calling and doing the booking arrangements.

We are waiting for the travel info to arrive. It's two nights on the ship, all inclusive with a stop in Newcastle. 





Happy Birthday Walmart?

Walmart turns 50 this week, but is it a "happy" birthday?
The mega-corporation known around the globe as Asda, Walmex, Seiyu but most of all -- Walmart -- has over two million employees and $447 billion a year in revenue, making it the largest private employer and retailer on the planet.[1]
But Walmart's expansion has come at a real cost, and communities around the globe are paying for it. 
From the single mother whose sales associate wages are too low to afford health insurance for her sick child, to the debt-enslaved worker in Thailand who had his passport seized and can't return to his family.
Help commemorate Walmart's 50th birthday by sharing this infographic of somber facts about the retail giant
walmart infographic
The sheer size and power of Walmart means it has an enormous impact on everything it does, from wiping out local jobs and guzzling more energy than 57 nations in the world combined, to making its founders, the Waltons, one of the wealthiest families on Earth.
You may not have a Walmart in your own country but its global impact is undeniable. And it's expanding into more countries every year, so before you know it, there could be a Walmart in your very own neighbourhood, killing off countless small businesses.
This constant pursuit of expansion, efficiency and lower costs has entrenched hundreds of thousands in poverty through insufficient pay, and created unsafe work environments for hundreds of in developing nations, slaving away in subcontracted warehouses. The corporation has thrown environmental sustainability out the window, and cost thousands of jobs by driving local small business under -- all the while growing the Walton family's enormous wealth.
So while the champagne may be flowing at Walmart HQ, for the rest of us, Walmart's anniversary is hardly cause for celebration.
After you've checked it out for yourself, help us spread the word about the real-world impact of a company relentlessly and ruthlessly focused on its bottom line, by forwarding this email or sharing the image on Facebook.

I am like a biker?

Or so the guy in the sandwich shop said this lunch time.

Like a biker? WTF?

You are a biker or not a biker!

Maybe I should have printed this and stuck it in his hand or on his seat.

3 July 2012

Wolfsbane "Live Fast, Die Fast"

I have been after a CD or digital copy of this album for quite a while.

Tapping up mates that have a flair for metal proved fruitless and then I found a copy. Not quite the perfect but unrestored rideable Harley in the barn, but the CD equiv.

Ripped it as soon as I got home. Fanbloodytastic!

I had it on cassette from when it originally came out in 1989.

If you want a laugh at the pretentious shite that people write in reviews. Search for this album on Amazon.


Pure bollocks. The pseuds claim that Wolfsbane came late to metal, or one twat says 8 years late for NWOBHM.

For christ's sake they were like a lot of bands, pub bands and local heroes playing music that people wanted to hear who managed to get a following and a record deal!!!

What the Amazon reviews show is what dicks there are on the site!!!

2 July 2012

MCN Fantasy Road Race

Don't think I am goung to win!

Mind you, I never bother changing my team so it's pot luck.

Oldham Athletic @ Sarfend United

One of the joys of getting old is being eligible for OAP or senior citizen discounts. My ticket is £15 where any adult up to 59 years a...