31 March 2014

Kent Big Weekend

Each year in an attempt to increase tourism in the country, Kent councils and tourist sites have a weekend they offer free tickets. Usually things along the likes of heritage railways and the wildlife parks are always oversubscribed. This year I was actually unable to logon, the screen started refreshing every time I went to type my email and password into it so I gave up trying. Claire did manage to get on and she booked a few places we'd like to try and we were successful with one; Rochester Cathedral. Maybe the religious aspect put people off?

Anyhew, as Sheldon Cooper might say, the trip was yesterday, coinciding with Mothering Sunday which meant that although still in Lent (no decoration in the church) that there was a big turnout for the morning service. Out arrival booked for 1230.

We had a drive up and surprised to say that we have only been to Rochester once before, in the evening for a Christmas Carol concert when one of my nieces was entertaining us.... So it was dark and we didn't get to see much of old Rochester. We parked on the side of the city bypass that keeps traffic off the old High Street and crossed. We were a little early but as it was so sunny we took some pictures of the outside and the castle across the road. Both built by the Norman's on the site of existing churches and castles. The castle commands a view over the entrance to the River Medway.

Cathedral from the West Gate

Rochester Castle

The tour is supposed to last and hour and the guide we had took us around in a small group of six that expanded as "hangers on" joined and left at will. The tour took about an hour forty. The lady was a mine of information about the memorials on the walls and the things that you would never notice without being told.

Rochester is the second oldest Cathedral in England, only Canterbury is older. The masons that worked on the cathedral also worked on the castle and the two began in 1080 only 14 years after William the Conqueror came over from Normandy. They were part of a mobile unit as they also worked on Canterbury, the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey. 

Organ and Choir

Altar

Once the tour was over we were ready for lunch and we set off out of the north door (the pilgrim's entrance) for the narrow alley to the High Street, and food. We ended up with a Panini in the Rochester Coffee Shop across from the cathedral garden. Not bad. 

Cathedral from High Street

We then had a walk down the High Street eastwards to Eastgate House and the Dickens Pavilion. The Pavilion was moved here and restored. It is where Charles Dickens used to sit and write his books. It looks a bit drab in the back garden of Eastgate House though. 

Eastgate House

Dickens Pavilion

Once we had stopped at an Italian bakers for some cakes, cannoli's, for dessert and a cake for later at home, we made our way back to the car and home.

Some other pictures from the day:

Rochester Coffee House
The Clock
"Biggest Secondhand Bookshop in England"
Green post box
Claire and first water pump in the City
"A mere shadow of a man"

30 March 2014

Dumbbell?

RAM Setup

Is there really a double-b as the spell checker thinks?

Anyway. The solution to the hand guard to TomTom interface has finally been sorted, I hope.

Not as I had thought by using the new handlebar clamp ball, but by buying the RAM Mount dumbbell and using it to connect the two RAM arms together, thus allowing the changing of the angle as well as the distance from the original mounting place.

With the shorter TomTom supplied arm at the bottom and the longer one, from the old Garmin kit, at the top, I can get the TomTom above the bike's instruments and still have it behind the screen.

The cable will need to be cut longer than anticipated, but that shouldn't be a problem.

I didn't get a chance to test it this weekend but once I have had a ride out I can see if this works or not.

If all is good, then I'll cut the wire down and re-fit the Hella plug.

This setup will allow me to remove the entire cradle and wiring, just leaving just the bottom RAM ball mounted to the screen frame. I don't like leaving anything thievable on the bike.

The other upside to this is that both the mount and the socket are fixed points, whereas the handlebar clamp would have been a moving point and might have needed a coiled wire to the socket to handle the movement.

Fingers crossed.

Dumbbell?



Dumbbell?, originally uploaded by InvictaMoto.

Is there really a double-b as the spell checker thinks?

Anyway. The solution to the hand guard to TomTom interface has finally been sorted, I hope.

Not as I had thought by using the new handlebar clamp ball, but by buying the RAM Mount dumbbell and using it to connect the two RAM arms together, thus allowing the changing of the angle as well as the distance from the original mounting place.

With the shorter TomTom supplied arm at the bottom and the longer one, from the old Garmin kit, at the top, I can get the TomTom above the bike's instruments and still have it behind the screen.

The cable will need to be cut longer than anticipated, but that shouldn't be a problem.

I didn't get a chance to test it this weekend but once I have had a ride out I can see if this works or not.

If all is good, then I'll cut the wire down and re-fit the Hella plug.

This setup will allow me to remove the entire cradle and wiring, just leaving just the bottom RAM ball mounted to the screen frame. I don't like leaving anything thievable on the bike.

The other upside to this is that both the mount and the socket are fixed points, whereas the handlebar clamp would have been a moving point and might have needed a coiled wire to the socket to handle the movement.

Fingers crossed.

Full view

26 March 2014

Latics @ Leyton Orient

Whilst I usually go to football at Arsenal in the Premier League. I also go to matches that feature my first ever football love, Oldham Athletic.

As Oldham is over 200 miles away it is difficult to get to home games, so I make do with away games in the south.

This year I have been to Gillingham and last night to Leyton Orient.

After plenty of chances fluffed Orient scored against pretty much the run of play. 

The game ebbed and flowed and plenty of huffing and puffing and the game looked to be over until Korey Smith popped up with goal of the week.

1-1 on the night.

Some of my pix below.

Ticket for a night of wonders

Zoomed in

No zoom

Home fans "Tommy Johnson" stand

Celebrating the equaliser
#wearelatics

Kevlar RK Jeans

I have a pair of Hood Jeans that I like but wanted something a little lighter, especially for the summer.

I saw these on eBay and although a lot cheaper than Hood and Draggin' they seem tough enough.

The are cargo style with two big patch pockets on each thigh and two back pockets. 

The back ones are a little small, but suffice.

The Kevlar lining is around the privates and butt and down the thighs.

They come with CE approved knee pads that fit in pockets with a Velcro top to hold them in.

I've worn them a few times and they are a good tight fit and very comfortable.



24 March 2014

Sissinghurst Castle Garden

This Sunday we had an early run to Sissinghurst to see what the gardens look like coming out of the winter. It was also a good opportunity to test the new Samsung pocket cameras and also the tea-rooms.

The latter passed with shining colours, the flapjack a little sugary and the coffee about right.  The WB30F camera needed a little messing about to get a panoramic picture to work, but the macro looks pretty good.

Pano Test Shot - back of shop and countryside

The Tower
The Tower picture was taken before the weather turned fr the worst and the rain and grey skies came about. The colour looks okay

The Gift Shop
The Gift Shop was taken a little later once it had rained and the sky was still grey and overcast.  The colours again look okay.


First close-up picture
Both the zoom test pictures were taken about 10 minutes apart, but with the weather changeable, the results are still quite. good.

The magnolia flowers were taken with the digital zoom active and pointing up towards the sky. The buds are about 15 feet from me. A bit washed out, but that maybe the light.

Zoom Test
 I have no idea what these will grow into!  They are in a corner in the White Garden. You can see from the size of the gravel that they are about the size of a goose egg, maybe four inches tall. Taken with the camera pointing down at about 45 degrees and maybe seven feet from the object.

Have no idea, but zoom test!
It was a bit early and after all the wet weather for the first ten weeks of the year, many of the paths were closed off as the ground was still very wet.

Castle Meadow

Latest TomTom mount!

Whilst at Laguna I got them to fit a new mount for my TomTom. As it was going to fit to a handlebar clamp I wanted it torqued down properly.


I did look at the Triumph mount, but at over £65 (wherever you look online)  it was a bit expensive and apart from looking like a kid's Meccano set, it leaves the cradle behind when the nav isn't needed. I like to leave nothing on the bike that can get get tampered with or stolen. 

This way I can remove the entire cradle and the attached power lead, already fitted with a Hella plug, from the bike. It is also near to  the power socket that you can just see to the lower right of the ball.

I'll need to play about to get the perfect fit of the Ram mount! It started to rain when I got home and I didn't get much time to play with it.  The power lead needs cutting down to about 8 inches to allow for the bars turning to full lock. A loop and a cable tie should sort that out.

See how it goes at the weekend when I next get some time and daylight.

22 March 2014

Döra is home!

After a week or so lull in the rainy weather  today it was raining as I took the courtesy Sprint back to Laguna Triumph at Ashford.

I stopped at Stop 24 to put in some petrol to replace what I had used. In the end a tenner sufficed.

Sprint Top-Up

I was glad to be giving it back. It's about 1998 when I last owned a lean forward style of bike, a GSXR750. Since then I have owned a TDM 850, Bandit 1200 and of course for 11 years Mr Baloo the GS.

I took the back roads home after filling the tank at the nearby Tesco.

With her trip to Hinckley for the head replacement it meant that all the trips etc had been lost, plus the tank given some petrol. All designed to cockup my MPG counting. So I'll have to program another one and start again.

Dora
Dora
As well as the new head, they also replaced the centre stand for a redesigned one plus the exhaust can.

New Can
New Head
So at least she is home. Now hoping for decent weather to get some miles under the wheels.

18 March 2014

Samsung WB30F

So after all my faffing about to try and get the DSLR to "talk" to the tablet, Claire jumps right ahead with the purchase of this small compact camera.  It has WiFi built in.

Not only can it be connected to any available WiFi, and still retain the home WiFi credentials, has a local send system where the camera becomes a WiFi hub and a smartphone can connect and with an app copy selected pics over!

You can email and Facebook straight from the camera if you want as well.

Damn. 

Maybe time to get one if there are any left. Sainsbury's had them at £59.95, half price. Maybe we should have bought two at the weekend!!

It is a superb little camera, slips in the pocket and takes 16mp pictures.  The zooms look good with both optical and digital.

The size means it is ideal for a bike jacket! The pix taken at the Red Pig, some of them were taken with it, others on the iPhone.


Looks good in white but they do it in black and also metallic red.

Okay. Bought one.




17 March 2014

SHO-1 arrived.

A knock on the door and the courier has delivered a massive box containing a nice dense piece of foam, plus the all important little box containing the SHO-1 kit.

SHO-1
Inside the little case are the two parts of the system that fit under the ear area of both side of the helmet. I'll have a look later when I have time to fit it.

16 March 2014

The Red Pig

The Red Pig is a lunch spot out on the Levels to the west of Rye and below the Cinque Port of Winchelsea.

The Red Pig
It was our chosen lunch spot. None of us had been there before so it was a first.

Me and the Pig

Claire and Pig

The March monthly meeting was a quick cuppa at the Blue and White and then after a chat we set off across the marsh to the Red Pig for lunch and a sit in the sun.

Claire and I were on the Laguna courtesy bike, the Sprint GT SE model. I comes with a massive top box and comfort gel seat.

Sprint GT-SE

The Levels
On the country lanes I found the bike to be pretty uncomfortable. The brakes seem far more wooden than Döra and there seems to be the tendency for it to stand up under braking into corners. Not pleasant and we soon found ourselves left behind by the others who admittedly were riding their own bikes and without a passenger.

We dropped further behind in the traffic in Rye. A sunny day brings out the bikers and also loads of people out to enjoy the sun. In this country you never know how long it will last!

The five of us, Ian, Cal, Graham and me, the Greyhaired MCC and Claire, not grey at all, chose the pulled pork. The veggie option was called The Wallender. I have no idea what was or is in it.

Claire by the bikes
Once we had eaten we had a walk up the sea defence wall to take a look at the sea.

The cliff

Claire at the beach

Seaview

The sun was so bright that I couldn't see that well to take this pano. Smart phone not so smart screen.

Pano

And then it was off home.

Th route back was to be Rye, then along the side of the Royal Military Canal to Appledore then Brenzett and back to Hythe.

Once again we lost the others but rather than odd and nervous handling it was an ambulance reversing in Rye and then sheer volume of traffic in Rye.

The ride on the flat was better. It seems that two-up with the weight on the front under braking that it tries to stand-up. 

We took the A259 from Brenzett. No dramas and then decided to go for a coffee at Waitrose. As we did the 360 at the roundabout I saw Ian entering the roundabout! They must have gone a longer route.

All in all a good day out but would have been better on a decent handling bike.


13 March 2014

Tesco Hudl - RIP

So after a short marriage it could be time to say au revoir to the Hudl and take it back for a refund.

The purchase was after careful study of the web and reviews, plus their own website that stated that the Hudl would connect to a camera to allow downloads for saving and/or viewing. What Tesco didn't say was that it would work with a few undisclosed cameras, none of them in the DSLR ranges of Canon, Nikon and Sony.

What percentage of cameras sold every day in the world does that number?

After seemingly getting dropped by the technical helpdesk I logged a call with Tesco Direct Customer Support. After all that's where I bought it. They chivvied up the tech helpdesk who said despite their own website the Hudl wouldn't connect to the cameras. They offered a refund.

All very well. But I am already out of pocket to the tune of two OTG cables and the leather protective cover! The Hudl is a fat little devil and the case will be too fat for another tablet. They didn't mention covering that expense as a "sorry" for pissing me about for three months.

There is one final option I can try tonight. Another app I found on Google called DslrDashboard and that might be the solution. If not. Then it goes back and I have the refund and instead put it down to experience that tablets are shite compared to notebooks running Windows!

Cardo Revisited

Actually I don't know how many times I have visited and revisited the whole Cardo Scala subject.

I surprised myself when doing a keyword search to find "cardo". Firstly that there were fewer blogs than I had thought and also how long ago some of them are!


So I guess it was about time I had another crack at it. I have a TeamSet that comes with a fully functioning rider headset and a second unit with less functionality; it will connect to a phone and act as an intercom to the other unit. It comes already paired.

But we were never successful getting it to fit the Caberg flip-front J1S not my Schuberth C2; the biggest white elephant of my bike gear purchases. It's heavy and despite being so fantastic it, it steams up, fogs glasses and has to be ridden with the visor cracked for any ventilation. So the legendary "quietest helmet" claim is patently bollocks. Still. Until I bought a new Shoei Qwest it was the most expensive helmet I have bought. In fact, it is the second most expensive piece of bike gear I had bought after the TT Zega panniers, and they aren't really bike gear as such.

Anyway, Cardo.

After setting up Claire's new Nolan, reports elsewhere, review to follow, I began to wonder about updating the Bluetooth on my helmet. The Nolan system looks far superior to anything I have seen with the helmet properly designed to take the n-com unit and battery pack, proper routing for the speakers and the mike. The current setup is to use the boom and the Cardo from the link above, but on my Nitro helmet. I didn't want to start tearing the Qwest's padding about to get it to fit.

So then I saw the Shoei Sho-1 kit, made by Cardo but made to fit only a number of the Shoei range including the Qwest and I was ready. I have read many reviews, searched high and low across the web to get the best price, ignoring the dodgy looking Italian that seems to sell everything £100 ($158) cheaper than anywhere else in Europe.

I have a little rebate so I bought one.

I did a Q&A session on Facebook with Cardo UK and a look at the website. It doesn't look as though they have sold many yet.... Once it arrives and I fit it, then I'll report back.



Statement from MAG'S National Committee

M.A.G. (UK) Ltd was recently the Respondent in an Employment Tribunal case brought by former staff Nich Brown, Paddy Tyson and Louisa Smith. The claimants obtained a judgment in their favour for constructive unfair dismissal. The case mainly concerned the relationship between the claimants and M.A.G. (UK) Ltd directors Neil Liversidge and Pete Walker who were elected to the Board in April 2012 in response to membership concerns about the poor management of MAG Central Office.

Mr Liversidge was originally nominated for co-option to the Board in November 2011, the Board having three vacancies out of seven seats at that time. Despite the Board being under-strength Mr Liversidge's co-option was blocked after Board Members were pressured to refuse his nomination. Mr Liversidge and Mr Walker were nevertheless elected at the subsequent AGM despite various efforts at preventing the same. For 25 years the convention has been that paid MAG officials are neutral in such matters, however various sources confirm that paid staff were interfering in the elections. Regrettably the staff behaviour did not improve with the election of the new Board, the efforts of which were consistently obstructed, direct instructions ignored and key management information withheld or falsified. One of the claimants made a particularly nasty attempt to undermine and blacken the name of MAG's founder and President Ian Mutch. Previous directors had experienced similar tactics as did other officers and ordinary members. It was of extreme concern that MAG Central Office was not efficient due to Mr Brown and Mr Tyson's prioritisation of their own Overland magazine and touring venture, carried out in MAG hours when they should instead have been focused on the jobs MAG was paying them to do. Their negligence of their MAG duties resulted, amongst other problems, in their total failure to manage the long-running database project and failure to attend important meetings.

The Board asked Directors Mr Liversidge and Mr Walker to take over the HR role with effect from 12 March 2013. They immediately convened staff meetings for the following Monday. Mr Brown, Mr Tyson and Ms Smith refused to attend and breached the chain of management by seeking the intervention of others not part of line management. On the weekend before the planned meetings all three filed 'notices of intended grievance' considered as final 'spoiler' attempts to prevent the meetings. The meetings went ahead and were covertly recorded by Mr Brown et al. Ironically their own recordings amply evidence the claimants' poor attitude and their disruptive behaviour along with, the then National Chair Denise Powell. Following the meetings Mr Brown was suspended pending disciplinary action. An investigation by an independent HR consultant found that MAG had grounds to dismiss Mr Brown. Ms Smith and Mr Tyson were signed off as unfit to work. All three resigned before any disciplinary action could actually be taken. MAG only incurred very small costs in this case.

MAG is naturally disappointed by the judgment which it does not accept as either fair or as an accurate reflection of the true circumstances. MAG is therefore appealing. The harm done by the claimants in the meantime has necessitated a restructuring. This has been successfully carried through and as a result MAG's work has not been affected. MAG now has a smaller but loyal and highly capable team that is accomplishing more than ever before. We are very happy and proud of them. In addition MAG has protected the monies from membership fees and the funds that members work hard to bring in as donations so that MAG never finds itself in this situation again.

MAG is completely comfortable with the morality of its position and now looks forward to concentrating on its mission - fighting for the rights of motorcyclists.

THE NATIONAL COMMITTEE
MOTORCYCLE ACTION GROUP

9 March 2014

Claire's new Nolan N43E Air

Part of the prize when I won Rosie. The N43E came with the N-Com B1 Bluetooth system already fitted.

Sadly, it seems that it won't pair with my Cardo Scala so we won't be able to talk to each other on long runs. Whether that is a hindrance or nor I don't know.

However, it does connect to her iPhone 5C (the other part of the Rosie prize!) and as it supports A2DP protocol it can be used to listen to music from the iPhone.

It took a little fiddling and reading and re-reading the booklet that was in the box before we had music. Luckily, Döra has a power supply on the left side of the rear seat to charge stuff! Looks like it may see some action!

Some pix:


Star Wars - The Last Jedi

After all the build up.  Next week. Booked tickets for Friday 22nd.