24 December 2016

Jabra BT620 Headphones

Going through a box of electronic gear I came across these again, complete with the manual.

It's been a while since I last used them. Some six hours of charging and I have been using them for a week now. 

The last time I had them out was 2013!

http://invictamoto.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/jabra-bt620.html

Over time the foam ear pieces have rotted away and so I took the remains off and binned them.

I gave a new set coming for Christmas and so their reprieve from the bin might not be for long.


23 December 2016

Bike and Biker Books - Great Reading

For many many years I have been an avid reader. It's what (in part) makes me a clever clogs when we play Trivial Pursuit. Surprisingly though rubbish at Scrabble.

I have several interests. I like fantasy and SF.  I like detective series books. And mostly, I like to live vicariously through the lives and trips of other motorcyclists.  Adventure motorcyclists as the authors no doubt want to be called.

Here is a short list of the books I have read recently.

The Long Ride 'Home' - Nathan Milward
Llamas, Bananas and Bears - Stephen Mason
Two Years on the Run - Luther Maddy
Looking for America - Ian Mutch
One Man on a Bike - Richard Georgiou
Touching the World - Cathy Birchall
Through Dust and Darkness - Jeremy Kroeker

All a little different with a different level of preparedness and planning undertaken before they set off.

Perfect for those winter months when the bikes are locked away in the garages and cabin fever is setting in.

If you have any to add, please put the titles and authors in the comments.

AirBag Revolution

I signed up to see if I can get on the testing team for an airbag vest.  

I have read about the various jackets and can't say that I am too enthused at being connected to the bike with a cable to the jacket. it may work for snow mobiles to stop them carrying on and killing a bus queue, but being tied to the bike... No thanks.

This one is self contained and electronically deployed.

So fingers crossed I am one of the 500.  

19 December 2016

17 December 2016

Behind You. Panto Time.

Panto.

I don't know if other countries have pantomime as part of their theatrical tradition but here in Great Britain it is a major part of the Christmas season.

Many towns and cities will have their own; from local amateur dramatic productions to big all star cast productions.

A recent trend has been to attract "big names" from the world of TV to star in the productions and bring in the audiences. The soap opera world in particular.

This year at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury the cast was headed by Stephen Mulhern, who we know as a game show host.

In Ben Roddy we have a superb dame. If you don't know what a panto dame is, Google it.

Don't bother.... Here's the wiki definition - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantomime_dame

This year the panto was Dick Whittington. The tale of the young man coming to London to seek his fame and fortune.

This Dick achieved his fame and won the girl of his dreams, Alice, a rather different way. Going to sea and being shipwrecked in Morocco and defeating the King of the Rats there is a very different story. As a reward he became Lord Mayor of London.

Another brilliant show.  Another triumph.

Dick Whittington was actually a real person. He was born almost 650 years ago and was Lord Mayor four times. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Whittington

Not far from where I work there is the hospital and the cat mentioned in the link above. The cat is made of brass and enclosed in a wire cage


Next year Peter Pan.


We enjoyed it so much I have already booked for next year. This year the seats were a bit too high and we had people in front with St Vitus Dance (google it!) and so I booked us front row circle seats instead. No one in front of us. 

15 December 2016

Bosch

I have read all the books in the series by Michael Connolly, in order, from the start to the current end.

So when I saw that it had been made for TV I had to watch it. Unfortunately it is on Amazon Prime. Luckily due to a screw up I got stuck with a year's subscription and so I have been trying to watch it on my tablet.

Since getting a smart TV I have been able to watch on a big screen. I'm on the first series and now see there's a second!

Prime runs out in a week. Renew or not?




2 December 2016

Sinterklaastreffen 2016

After a week of scraping ice off the car and -4C (24.8F) mornings I decided that if I was going to be going on my own that I would abort. Too cold and miserable on your own.

As well as that "fair weather biker" excuse I got a real one. Trying to catch the dog in the garden I twisted the end joint on my left index finger, making it so painful I couldn't even pull the zipper on my jeans left handed!  I am left handed BTW!  So pulling the clutch was o-u-t!

So with Meldrew's clubmate Cal pulling out with a knee injury I decided that abort was best.

Oh well!


28 November 2016

Movember 2016

It's 12 years since I did my first charity 'tache growing and that was with Tacheback. In fact I did Tacheback twice before it disappeared and was re-invented as Movember a number of years ago.

This year, so far, fund raising has been disappointing. That's the polite way of putting it.  All I asked was for my FB friends to donate one pound or whatever local currency they have. International charities like Movember can cope with different currencies, be they dollars or euro and a myriad of others.

I can't say it is hard work growing a moustache. After all, once your balls drop, hair tends to grow all over the place, the top lip being just one place.  

So one last time this is my mospace:  https://uk.movember.com/mospace/2865109

There are only two days left in this Movember and the mo will be revealed late on the 30th.  Please sponsor me,  if only a quid or a buck. They all count.

FT Aqua Jacket

Looking through my blog to see if there any embarrassing rants that need removing I came across this thread from just over two years ago.


I am still wearing this jacket most of the time. It is still waterproof. Over the years the colour has faded from black to a peculiar browny red tinge, but not all over.

Although I have a mesh jacket for summer and last year I bought a Steve McQueen jacket for summer wear.  The FT Aqua is still the go-to jacket.


New ARMR trews

Bike trousers that is.

With the weather turning cold I decided to spend some money on another pair of padded textile trousers. The last pair did okay for a cheap pair, but eventually (and embarrassingly) split around the crotch. I suppose I was trying to pack more in than they were designed for. Like and over stuffed sausage, something had to give.

The problem with being rather portly is that the trendy makes think that an XXL waist is 36"!  These companies, you all know who they are, cater for five foot tall Latin MotoGP riders in the main. Not that one of them will ever wear a pair of Cordura lined for all weather trousers.....

So after trawling about on Black Friday, something else we have accepted from our US cousins, I found one of the large online bike shops, Ghostbikes, selling larger sizes.  I entered the discount code and was pleasantly surprised to get a good few pounds off and free delivery.  Next day.  And next day it was.

The reviews are good from customers and all recommend a size or even two above normal jean sizes.  As they are lined I don't wear normal jeans under them, and for the waterproofness I take the liner out in warmer weather anyway and that makes them more comfortable.

First impressions are good. I tried them on on arrival and the leg length seems okay but the liner doesn't seem to fix at the ankle and so when they come off, the liner comes out too.  I'll have to investigate.

Here's a link to thr makers own webpage. http://www.armr-moto.com/product/hara-2/

Their first "action" will be the annual trip to Ostend on Saturday for the St Nicks Rally.  In previous years I have Jean Sans-Amis and last year fellow Meldrew Cal came and we had a good if not cold day out.  At the moment I am JS-A again.


16 November 2016

Ring of Red 2016

Sunday dawned nice and sunny. But cold.

After watching the Cenotaph Remembrance service I got toggled up and left about 1145. The idea was to meet other Meldrews at one of the service stations on the A2 but as plans go it was rather rubbish as none of them came, deciding to have breakfast elsewhere.

In the end I made the pitstop at Cobham Services and by accident I put super unleaded in the tank. Some goon had switched the nozzles over into the wrong holsters. And I didn't read the pump handle.so ended up paying 130.9 a litre instead of 116.9!!!

This year mine was the only bike there on the day  I caught up with another one on the A2 as we approached the M25 and then saw a few more as we entered the service area, which was packed with bikes. 

A large part of the car park was roped of for us and it was already pretty full when I arrived about 1310.

I hardly had any time to snap a few photos before we all mounted up and headed for the M25.

The ride itself went off pretty well. I only went as far as Clacket Lane and went past this time turning back at the next interchange.

The idea was that we should get onto the M25 and ride in single staggered file about 4 bike lengths apart. Reality was that loads of bikes were bunched up in large groups and then massive gaps...

Arriving home just before 3pm in time for late lunch and dog walkies.

In the end  we didn't complete the ring around London. Maybe because of the bunching and stupid gaps.

https://goo.gl/photos/Qa1WUFgYw6s26j399

31 October 2016

Halloween

With today being a school day, we had expected the kids to be around for their treats yesterday.

The pumpkin lights up..... sweets in the bowl. And. Nothing. Not a one.

So we expect them tonight, 'cept Claire at Pilates from about 1745 to after 1900, and me not home until a little before that.

What to do with a large bowl on Haribo?

27 October 2016

Movember 2016 - T-5

The first donation has been made to this year's Movember charity event.  It was me.  

Okay that might sound pretty dodgy, like the beggar that puts a few coins in the bowl to attract the passers-by to add to it, but not really.

At work we have had a Nespresso Dolce Gusto coffee maker in the cupboard. It was brought in by my boss for the department to use. Like many of these things it ended up not being used after the first flush of enthusiasm and was put away.

We had a look at them in a shop and I asked if I could borrow it to see if it was worth having.  My boss said I could have it.  And I said I'd donate to Movember for it.

I have and I am underway.  

The current beard and tache will come off over the weekend and I will start smooth skinned from Tuesday November 1st.

All I need now are people to sponsor me.


MY MOSPACE



12 October 2016

Movember 2016

I have signed up again for Movember after a year off last year. I did Decembeard instead.

At the moment I have a beard but that will go very soon.

So should anyone feel like sponsoring me my mospace is: 

I have set a pretty low target of £100 but I doubt I'll get close to that.

It is very easy to post of Facebook and other social media about fighting cancer. But seemingly more difficult to pledge a few quid to help fight cancer for real and increase awareness.

22 September 2016

DGR 2016

This year I plan to turn up again on a non-hipster bike and enjoy the adulation of the assembled masses whilst raising some money for cancer charities.

Sadly my fund raising efforts have not gone too well. The main focus is through Facebook where I have 60 friends.

Some of them are outside the UK in the USA, Germany and the Czech Republic.

That does leave around 50 within the Sterling zone. Although as an international charity event sponsors can pay in sterling or Yankee dollars or euros or any currency that is internationally tradeable.

How many have contributed to my (currently) measly £21? ONE.

So with three days to go here's hoping for a few extra quid/dollars/rand/krone. Whatever.

16 September 2016

Frank Thomas Jacket

I was reading a Facebook post about a £1000 BMW suit that had leaked quite badly on the chest and back at the first rain of the autumn.

On the Thankful Villages Run in 2013 it piddled with rain all day, all the way from Kent to London's Whitehall and the FT Aqua kept me dry.  In fact, only my gloves got wet, sodden in fact.  A guy from Triumph in one of their Explorer suits was soaked to the skin.  

So I had a search through "On the Road Again" to see how old my Frank Thomas Jacket is. I was amazed to see the post was way back in June 2008.

My ex-wife used my profligate spending in her own counter-suit to mine of adultery....But in reality I don't spend fortunes on gear.

I don't thing 8 years for a jacket and 16 for boots is that profligate.

Anyway. The point of dredging this up was to say that or a £99 jacket (less sale discount) is still waterproof.

Although it has faded and no longer black black it still does what it was bought to do. I am dry and generally warm wearing it and I wear it four seasons.

At the BMW price I could get 80 years of FT wear. 


11 September 2016

Doddington Place Garden

Today's run out in the car with Reggie was to Doddington Place Garden. Only about 25 miles at most from home.

The garden is privately owned and is only open a few days in the we and Sunday is one.
It is also one of the few dog friendly gardens in the county. A least one where we can all enjoy the gardens together.

https://goo.gl/photos/TrYC1Y9RFLnW6f6B7

5 September 2016

Cactus Bob

Cactus Joe's brother from Oatman Arizona.

Google throws up these things from time to time. Sometimes no matter how embarrassing you have to post.

30 August 2016

New Helmet - LS2 Metro with Bluetooth Four

The helmet proved a good fit on the 1763 mile trip to the Czech MotoGP and back. The noise was no worse than my Shoei.

The bluetooth was easy to setup but at anything above 70mph not a lot of good.

The volume simply isn't loud enough to work with a combination of wind noise and ear plugs. 

With them out and testing the controls the systems own voice is pretty good.

It's a shame as the main selling point of this kind of helmet is the bluetooth.  Otherwise you may as well buy an alternative make or their own much cheaper model.

Still a decent helmet but can't say I am not a little disappointed.

14 August 2016

New Helmet - LS2 Metro with Bluetooth Three

Managed to get out for a test ride earlier in the week.

Like most new helmets it is a little tight and as a spectacle wearer I need to be able to get the arms into it to see where I am going.

It does take a bit of jiggling about to get them in the right place. I need to check the fit with my Oakley specs as they have straight arms.

The bluetooth works well with the tomtom  and is also paired with my phone.

Luckily the power lead I have for my phone is the same as the helmet. The block takes both micro usb and what appears to be the current Apple plug. My current S5 uses micro, so that's one less cable to take with me.

The other feature is the sun visor.  My old Schuberth C2 also had one and even with sunglasses it was superb. With clear glasses it was a great addition.

We'll have to see what happens when we are away later in the week.

Deaf 6

To say I am a little nervous about having a hearing aid is putting it mildly.

When I ride the bike I wear ear plugs to cut down the noise around the helmet. Doubly annoying that after this precaution for many many years that I am 50% deaf in one ear.

I am hoping that the aid will be small enough not to impede my wearing a helmet and spectacle arms and that it can be turned off easily.

All this will be answered on Tuesday afternoon! I leave for my trip to Czech the morning after. Not much shakedown time.

I guess this is another trial and error system!!!

The new season starts

Today.

The Premier League season kicked off yesterday.

Today's games on a Sunday for the TV audience include Bournemouth at home to Manchester United - David vs Goliath - and the biggest game of the weekend -  Arsenal at home to Liverpool.

I'm off to the latter. I can't say I an going with  much confidence as we have a weakened line-up of missing international players and the usual round of injuries to key players.

Whilst almost all the teams around us have been spending millions of pounds, we as usual are making do with one new signing and a load of kids bought cheap from the lower leagues and a few from the academy.

Fingers crossed for today.

11 August 2016

Sandisk Eye-Fi Card - Update

Over three years since I invested in this card and after a year or so of it working when it felt like it with the notebook turned on it I forgot about it.

Returning to it recently has discovered that neither Sandisk not Eye-Fi support this generation of their cards and their customer support is totally useless.

The software won't work with WIN10 and they have done nothing to assist their customers. They were happy to take the money off us all, and there must be thousands if not 0000's sold. But now we are on our own.  

A 4GB SD card is worthless nowadays with ever increasing file sizes and write speeds. Another gimmick for the back of the drawer or the rubbish bin.


6 August 2016

Wedding of the Year - Jen & Chris - Part 3

Interesting drive down. Hotel not bad for under £40 a night.

Superb meal at the Black Cock Inn on the Caerphilly Mountain.

Beds too small.

Reggie to kennel.

Us to wedding.

Great day. Bride looked like a princess. Groom scrubbed up nicely.

Father of the bride did a great job.

3 August 2016

DGR 2016

Alright. I know. I am not a hipster and I don't own a hipster bike but I can still raise money for the charity and now they have joined up with Movember that I do anyway....



That's my page.

2 August 2016

Wedding of the Year - Jen & Chris - Part 2

With Reggie's refusenik actions getting worse this week I have scrapped the extra night after the wedding and we will come home on Saturday rather than Sunday.

It saves quite a few pounds and will be less traumatic for him.

So we'll drive down on Thursday and check into the Ibis. We'll stop a few times along the way to let him have a walk and for comfort breaks

I searched for dog friendly pubs and found one in nearby Caerphilly where we can take him in the bar with  us and where we can eat. There are a few in the area but this one, The Black Cock Inn,  looks pretty good.

I've already had to invest in new trousers. The Farah not deemed good enough!!

Two days to go.

MAG joins Highways England working group


The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG), the UK’s leading voice for riders’ rights, has joined a key working group operated by Highways England, previously known as the Highways Agency. MAG’s regional Rep, Tony Cox, represented the movement.

Tony says, ‘I found the general mood to be very encouraging and pro-biking.   Highways England are no longer part of the DfT.  They’re now a government-owned company, with more direct control over their actions and policies. Their main aim is to reduce casualties on the Strategic Road Network - but also to encourage modal shift from cars to motorcycles, which is excellent news.’

Areas being looked at include better rest facilities for motorcyclists at service stations, parking and helmet storage.  There was also talk of improving refuge areas and hard-shoulders for motorcyclists who have broken down, plus other improvements directly aimed at motorcycling.

The meeting was attended by the Institute of Highways Engineers, RoSPA, Bikesafe, the Welsh Government, the BMF and MCIA.

Tony adds: ‘this is an initiative that MAG definitely needs to be involved with and our presence was very much appreciated by the organisers. The whole concept of autonomous vehicles and their interaction (or lack of it) with vulnerable road users will be one of the major topics discussed in future meetings and workshops.’  The next workshop in October will identify actions to reduce motorcycle casualties.  ‘MAG will certainly be represented.‘

Kathrine Wilson-Ellis, Senior Road Safety Policy Advisor for Highways England said, ‘I came away feel really motivated and excited about the power of this group and I am really keen to start getting to the “doing” phase.’

This meeting follows the highly successful launch of a consultation on the future of transport, also in Manchester, and attended by MAG’s Director of Communications & Public Affairs, Lembit Öpik.

Contact MAG at 01926 844 064 or central-office@mag-uk.org

28 July 2016

New Helmet - LS2 Metro with Bluetooth Too

Blimey. Ordered late on Tuesday. Arrived today.

The helmet is very light and once I had got the box out of the thick plastic packaging courtesy of Fat Skeleton (http://www.fat-skeleton.co.uk) I couldn't wait to try it on.

With Claire measuring my head at 59.5cms the large size is a perfect fit. Large is down as 59-60cms.

The box contained a few goodies as well. Bottles of helmet cleaner,  a neck tube, a pair of riding glasses, their LS2 version of Pinlock, they even give stickers for France, plus the charging cable and an assortment of breath deflectors.

I couldn't wait to turn it on and it spoke to me. In English. Phew.

Reggie Refusnik

Dogs love to walk. A universal truth that sadly seems not to apply to the dog that fills our lives with his love and habits.

When "experts", usually ones that talk through a part of their anatomy that is for sitting on, tell you how it will change your life having a dog, then maybe for once they are right.

It's no secret amongst friends and neighbours that we went to the Dog's Trust,  to get a small tank-bag dog. One that wouldn't mind going on the bike for a ride somewhere.  Instead, we got Reggie. As soon as we saw his face and the way he looked at us, we were hooked. Despite some of his published  (and soon to be discovered unpublished) foibles and traits, he is a great dog.  At 20kgs he is far too big for the bike. Even a Rocket.

Reggie
Recently though, he has shown a reluctance to walk. it starts with him hiding when the lead is brought out; in a corner or under the dining table.  Show him the harness, so that we can attach him to the seat belts in the car, and he goes to ground. Literally.  He lays down on the floor and rolls on his back to stop the harness going over his head.

Once out he usually enjoys himself, especially on the beach at Dymchurch, where he can run and go in the sea, play ball and chase the gulls.

It's on other walks that he simply stops.  It first manifested itself earlier in the year when we walked along the White Cliffs of Dover from the car-park near Dover Castle to the South Foreland Lighthouse.  When we came to walk back he refused and it was a while before we could coax him to retrace our steps back along the path. 

He has started to do it more often.  We live near the Royal Military Canal. Built during the Napoleonic War to provide a defence in case Bonaparte landed on our flat coastal land around Hythe, he has now decide that he won't walk there. He stops at the end of the road. His legs stiffen and he won't budge.

What to do?  He likes it over there, just a few hundred yards away, the smells and the rabbits and squirrels to chase or bark at.....

Any (true) experts?  Feel free to comment!   

Wedding of the Year - Jen & Chris

Not a celebrity wedding but my eldest niece, Jennifer,  is tying the knot down in Wales, to her long time partner Chris.  In Cardiff to be exact.

I booked us into a hotel months ago and time seems to be flying.  

The perennial "what to wear" question arises. At work I wear a logo'd polo shirt in summer and a long sleeve variant in winter, with a v-neck similarly logo'd on the chest, and jeans.  The dress code is quite lax here as long as we are clean and tidy. The whole idea of uniform.

We decided to make a weekend of it. The wedding is Friday afternoon, and so Reggie will go with us. The hotel is dog friendly so that's okay for two nights.  Jennifer's dog will be in the local kennel and so for the wedding day I booked Reggie in too. Drop him off in the morning and collect him next morning. Then we are off a few hours north to the Brecon Beacons, and area of outstanding beauty and fresh air.  

What could be simpler?

Food for Reggie?

Reggie is on a raw-food diet.  The kind we buy comes frozen in 1 kilogram packs and is "complete". No need to add veggies or biscuit.  So the dilemma is how to take food for him for about four meals?  
This will be the same but for a longer period in October when we go to France for a week and next year when we go to the Dordogne (also France) in May.

In a kind of parallel thought process,  a friend of Claire's at her work place suggested getting an electrically cooled chiller box. At the same time someone in my office said the same.  The hunt began.  One that would be okay with 12v DC from the car and 240v AC in the house and hotel. After several hours of research I bought one from eBay for delivery tomorrow for a tad of £40. It gets 4.5/5 star reviews on eBay from previous buyers.  Only one 1/5 from a guy that said his went on fire after 45 mins.... Gulp!

So that's sorted.

As a distraction it worked for a few hours, but the question remains on whaty to wear.  I do have a pair of black Farah trousers hanging in the wardrobe. I came across them as I was looking through the usually unvisited end, the left, of the cupboard space. I was getting out some shirts that I will never wear again to go in the charity bag and noticed them. This was months ago and they fit. Although it was a case of on and off in a matter of seconds.  I have shoes. I have shirts..... And I do have a jacket, although it is linen and sand coloured.

Mmmmm.   One weekend to go now.

27 July 2016

New Helmet - LS2 Metro with Bluetooth

For anyone that has read my "Don't Ride Angry" post will know of the events of last Saturday.  What they won't know is that what added to that sense of annoyance and frustration was that when we arrived in Hythe, I found my head was black.

Not the black you get from Grecian 2000, a men's hair dye, but from the inside of my Caberg J1S that had finally given up the ghost.  Not the tough shock absorbing liner but the nylon foam padded liner.

The foam backing had disintegrated into a lot of black grit!  The liner was dropping out as it no longer fitted and I rode back from Folkestone whilst transferring this grit into my sweaty hair and scalp.

As we had a coffee on the field at the food and drink festival, I had a look and it was beyond repair. It went in the bin when I got home.  

I then started looking for a replacement. I know it is a luxury to have more than one helmet on the go, but I am used to a few in the cupboard.  The past lame ducks (Schuberth C2) and old and past it (Nitro 700V)  went to the tip and in the crusher months ago, only to save them being picked up and used by someone else. Simply for safety reasons.

Firstly, I looked at a summer helmet. This LS2 Open Face looked good, comes with a peak and goggles. Claire didn't like it. There's a Captain America version available and even cheaper.

I then looked at maybe getting a Nolan N43 or N44 Air.  Claire has an N43E Air that came as part of the prize when I won Rosie the Scooter. They are hard to get and expensive.  

I decided that the next one should have an integrated internal sun visor and if possible Bluetooth connectivity.  The Nolan has that but tops out at over £300/$400 with both parts being bought separately. At least the helmet is designed to have the Bluetooth fitted integrally and not hanging on the side.

I then had a look at the LS2 Metro helmet.  A flip-front with integral sun visor and Bluetooth.  Priced quite competitively at £199/$260 (or so).

Good reviews and it is all plumbed in and ready to go. Plus. They sell them in matt black, the colour that I particularly wanted.

So it is ordered and was despatched today....


Coming Soon.... Czech Out 2016

All captured on http://thedevallboys.blogspot.co.uk/, the joint blog that I started and then got Neill to co-author.

But before this happens we have to get over Neill's "Bank of Dad" for his daughter and naturally my niece's wedding at the beginning of August.


25 July 2016

Deafcon 5

Getting to see your Doctor is almost as difficult as getting to have tea with the Queen.

In the end I wrote a letter and posted it through the door.  Monday that was.

That said, Tuesday,  a phone call to the surgery, after 1030am, elicited a response that they hadn't heard from the hospitals about my echocardiogram nor about my hearing test and MRI. Nothing arrived here or the surgery.

As the latter was in May I was a bit pissed.

I called the hospital and eventually got though to audiology. They were closed all day but call back between 10 and 12 or 14 and 16 hours.

I did. Wednesday.  The lady said that they had written to the surgery, cc me, on 17th May. Before the MRI.

I said I was still deaf in that ear and needed the device fitted.

Now booked in on August 16th. She'll write to me. Don't know if that will ever arrive but have it in my Google calendar.

As for MRI? Who knows. They didn't have the result two months after it was done.

12 July 2016

Glass 2

Rewind over three weeks.... (sound effect of tape rewinding)

The wound in my foot seemed to be getting worse. So tonight after work I headed back to Folkestone and the Royal Victoria minor injuries clinic.

A short wait and I was in. The nurse checked the x-ray and there was another piece in there.

Fifteen minutes later and a bit of scalpel to enlarge the hole and it's out.

The piece is actually bigger than the bit I pulled out. Hopefully now it will heal.

Phew.

10 July 2016

The Somme Commemorations - Day Three

The day to ride home. Once again it was Shuttle-One returning together.

The rest of the Meldrews were going to scatter. One group going to Oradour sur Glane (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oradour-sur-Glane_massacre) and the U-boat pens at Lorient. Another going solo to Normandy and others to the east.

We had a leisurely breakfast and then said our goodbyes and set off. Firstly for petrol as we all needed some and then to Corbie.

There we had a quick stop to place a Somme 100 poppy cross on the grave of William Devall who was killed on July 16th a hundred years ago.

From there we had a cross country journey towards Arras. The rain came and we had to stop so I could get my waterproofs on and effectively they never came off until I was on the Shuttle.

We were in need of a break and it may not have been my greatest decision to take us into Arras on a Saturday afternoon.

We had enough time for a coffee and then away again as time seemed to disappear.

We headed for the A26 and headed north. Always chasing the clock and it seemed even with a petrol stop in Calais for David and Ken that we were in good time.... until we saw the queues at the check-in and beyond at the border controls.

In the end it was every man for himself.  Once checked in we headed towards the front of the first queue to join some other bikes.  Through French passport and then UK Border Agency.

In the end the train we caught with a group from the Goldwing club was about 30 minutes after scheduled.  Ken was about half an hour later and similarly David.

Why? Who knows?

The trip was over when we quickly changed and Pepe went into the garage and we went to pick Reggie up from the kennel.

4 July 2016

The Somme Commemorations - Day Two

The day of the commemorations started early for three of the Ferry Crew. They had tickets to the Thiepval event and needed to be away about 5am for the park and ride by Albert Airport.  

This made the decision to go to the Ulster Tower for the majority of us seem the best option. We could have breakfast in the hotel and then walk over to the station and get the train to Albert, where our shuttle buses would be waiting. No need for the park and ride. It would be less hassle for men but we had Claire and Elaine Constable in our team.  Ladies are less likely to be enamored changing in a field.

As it was We got our tickets and the 0837 train to Albert.  Strangely there wasn't another train until 1137 and that was cutting it fine to get the shuttles as they finished at 1200.

We had a few hours to kill before the first bus and there was plenty to do with displays etc. Plus the famous gilded tower that acted as a target for the German gunners and as a symbol to the French defenders.







At the Tower there was a little confusion where to sit, and sitting was never going to happen as despite few buses going ahead of us, there were no seats left.  With the grass wet from days of rain, we ended up with the cardboard boxes left from the packed lunches handed out when we arrived.  Not so bad for the men, but some of the old servicemen there were in their 80's and up and they stood whilst kids sat down on chairs.  Not good.












The Ulster Tower in sun

Pano of the battlefield between Thiepval Hill and the Schwaben Redoubt.


The ceremony was very moving and the tales of the men and boys that had given their lives brought tears to the eyes.

None more amazing than that of Billy McFadzean (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_McFadzean) who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his selflessness that saved the lives of countless comrades when he threw himself on live hand grenades that had spilled from a box and this was before the assault had started.  

We can never know what we would have done in his position.

The weather continued to be a pig, rain, then sun, then rain again. We got soaked to the skin.

And then about 40 minutes late the guest of honour HRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall arrived.  The politicians from Thiepval didn't show their faces apart from Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn, Our Prime Minister and the French President had cleared off!

Once it was all over and Charles and Camilla had chatted and left,  the buses were brought up. It was very slick and we were on the 1705 train back to Amiens. Now dry with wet patches.

A memorable day.

We were back before the Thiepval Three and way before Ian and Paul who had gone to the Canadian ceremony at Beaumont-Hamel that startwd after our event,  and also attended by Charles and Camilla.

In the evening we split into smaller groups and Shuttle One went our own way. Less beer more soft drinks as we had to ride back to UK the next day.




Another day over.



The Somme Commemorations - Day One

Even though we didn't have to be at the Shuttle terminal for our train to France until 1015 or so we still had to have an early start. I had to take Reggie off to his weekend away at Wyncot Kennels.

Once again he was excited as I turned into the drive and he positively ran off with the kennel lady, again without a backward glance to his Dad standing in the reception area.

Back at the house Claire was doing the last minute packing. The new Saddlemen FTB3600 bag was getting filled with our "duds" that we would need for the ceremony. 

The waterproof bags that I bought last year would have other stuff for two days and two evenings in Amiens.  They fit snugly in the panniers as long as they aren't overfilled. With rain looking highly likely I fitted the Saddlemen with its supplied waterproof cover. It's bright yellow to help other road users see us in the spray and gloom!



We were away via a petrol stop to top off the tank as Brexit last week meant that the "markets" (a phrase to describe speculator scum) have forced the pound sterling down against the dollar and euro, and so already expensive French benzine is now even more expensive for us.

On arrival at the terminal, the machine wouldn't accept our booking reference not the card I paid for it. Usually one or the other is good enough to get through. The human-manned check-ins were five or six cars deep and the automatics... empty... A human came to our rescue and did exactly the same as us and it of course worked.

From there we were going to meet two other regulars on the French trips, Ken Fulton and David Robinson. Both actually on Suzukis, the heritage of the Meldrews, born from that club that no one mentions its name. This group was known as Shuttle One.



We were joined in the terminal by Ian Jenkinson and Paul Brewster aka Bear. 

The queues for coffee were far too long and so we didn't bother and then we were called through.  As usual there was a holdup, but this time only a ten minute delay, or "retimed", on the crossing.  There were quite a few bikes to be loaded and unusually, we were first on the train.

In France the idea was to head along the coast to the Todt Battery for Ian and Bear. The rest of us have been before and we would have lunch.

This is the last we saw of them until Amiens the next day.We had lunch and I texted Ian to say we were eating and then we heard bikes leaving and then after we had eaten we went out to get ready and bikes went past, Dutch riders leaving no bikes in the Todt car-park some 200 yards away. So we set off. With the weather turning to rain I aborted the scenic route for the A16 motorway and 100 minutes later we were pulling up at the hotel. Luckily the gate to the car park was open and so we could ride straight in.  Check-in was simple.

By the time we were showered and out some of the Ferry Crew had arrived but still no Ian and Bear, Shuttle One adjourned to the Irish pub around the corner as we have done for the last three years.

Beers drunk, some very strong and some very very strong and then we were joined by the Ferry Crew. It was therefore ten of us that went in search of food.




We were warned that there might be a delay, but it was gone 2330 when we got out after three courses of well cooked and presented food on the €19.50 "menu touristique".


Time for bed....



29 June 2016

The Somme Centenary

Two days to go until we start the commemorations for the Battle of the Somme.

The 1st July is in the history books as the worst day's casualties for the British Army.

We are lucky to have tickets to attend the commemoration at the Ulster Tower. Even luckier that there is a train to the Shuttle buses from Amiens where we stay in the same hotel each year.

This year Claire is coming.  I write this as I head home after work.  So far I have fitted the luggage on the bike, but it is all empty.

Packing. We have to be smartly dressed and so jeans and bike gear won't do. So we have to pack stuff that means we won't stand out too much from the crowd.  Bikes are generally not good for this!

So let's see how it goes?

26 June 2016

Fun...

Fun. Sometimes you have to make a prat of yourself.

Sissinghurst

Yesterday we made a picnic and packed the car and the three of us headed off for Sissinghurst.  We got about half way and the heavens opened. Torrential rain where the wipers could hardly cope.

Once we turned around it started to hail. June and we have a hailstorm.

So today we got ready, another picnic and off we went.

Today the weather was much better. Mostly sunny but a few ominous looking clouds passed by.

The car parks were pretty full and whilst Claire went into the gardens Reggie and I went around the periphery

24 June 2016

In or Out?

I started this post on the train home on June 23rd but sadly didn't get to post it as the signal was lost.

So here is the original.

I am rushing home as today is probably the biggest day in modern political history. Certainly in my lifetime.

I'm not doing a disservice to all the elections I have voted in since I turned 18, but this is a one-off.

We vote to stay in the European Union or Leave.

Whatever the democratic decision is, tee's no second chance. In or Out.

I also have to walk the dog, go to fat club and go to a classic bike evening.

Guess which one will get dropped?

The bad weather has affected the trains and I am already nearly 45 minutes late. It's raining and thunder is forecast.

So....

We'll that was last night. Tonight.

The vote was a narrow 52 to 48 victory for the Leave campaign. Shock waves through the country and Europe. Loads of vitriol from the losing side and threats of legal challenges.

What did lose? Of course I never got to the  bike meet again! !

23 June 2016

Reggie

British Bike Night

So I leave work a little early so that the usual Thursday things are out of the way;  fat club and walking the dog, plus one extraordinary thing, the EU Referendum voting, so that I can get Pepe out and ride to this annual event.

So yesterday,  we had thunderstorms into the night.  Flooding etc.

Today slightly better but unless there's a vast improvement it's another missed event.

20 June 2016

New Jacket...

If I was a  Harley owner I'd no doubt have to have a hoodie with the logo emblazoned somewhere on it.

But I wanted something understated and then I saw a guy at the Dover show that had a Kevlar hoodie that he wore instead of a jacket on warm days.

I had a look and found Australian Bikers selling then at about half price. I bought one.


It should arrive in a few days and I can see about wearing it on my next couple of trips with a waterproof jacket to go over the top in case it rains!


19 June 2016

Glass

This should be a lesson to me. Don't bother to rinse out the gin bottle before putting it in the recycle bin!

Not if it comes with the little marble operated one way valve in the top! Whilst getting that out I inadvertently  chipped a sliver of glass (without noticing) and then trod on it.

It was small but went into my foot like a knife. Cue loads of blood and a great deal of swearing. Once the flow was stemmed and a band-aid applied all seemed fine except the intense pain. 

It was no better the next morning so we went to the minor injuries clinic at our local hospital. A Victorian building serving the people for many years but mostly now empty and derelict waiting the developer to turn it into apartments, but with a more modern wing hanging on with minimal services.

The nurse had a look for any fragments still in there, then took a thick needle and probed about to see if she could feel anything. The pain was incredible. In the end she could find nothing, so she dressed it with something that draws out fragments and sent me on my way.

When I told her I was in Ashford she gave me an x-ray request form. I had that done in the afternoon.
It still hurts a lot this morning but I don't think there is anything in it.

So a lesson learned!!!!

12 June 2016

Google Nexus 7

Along with the rest of my possessions the Nexus 7 is back from a trip to the US, Arizona to be exact.

With the aid of an OTG cable previously bought to use with the Hudl a few years back it is easy to display pictures from the camera or the SD card from the camera on the 7.

A far easier solution was to buy a Samsung camera with its own wifi connection.  There is an app that will work on iOS and Android and uses a local wifi link to transfer photos.

12 May 2016

Yes @ RAH

It was sometime last year that my brother, Neill, asked if I wanted to go and see Yes at the Royal Albert Hall.

I of course said YES!

As it was a Tuesday evening I knew Claire wouldn't want to accompany me, and Neill's significant other wasn't fussed, so it was just two middle aged prog-ists that joined the audience.

And we were far from the oldest rockers in the room. But not far from the youngest! There were a few young 'uns.

Neill and I are pre-Buggles Yes fans and spa concert playing two albums in full plus "hits" was going to be challenging. 

A couple of pints of 1730 Pale Ale and a pulled pork baguette in the Hoop and Toy pub (http://www.taylor-walker.co.uk/pub/hoop-and-toy-kensington/c3067/menu/) beforehand helped.

The support act was a Swedish prog rock band. Mere boys but excellent singers. In true prog style the twiddled seemingly without an end for a while...



They ended with an acapella version of a Chris Squire number. Very well sung.

Then followed a short tribute to Chris. A solo artist but the bass player for Yes for over 35 years, who died last year. 



Then Yes took to the stage.

The current line-up features Steve Howe on lead guitar and Alan White on drums ably supported by ex-Buggles keyboardist Geoff Downes, with Jon Davison picking up Jon Anderson's vocals and lastly, Billy Sherwood on bass.


Drama. A post Buggles album that I never bought and couldn't recognise anything from. Not bad but the audience liked it; some rather overly I thought.

The last track they were joined by Trevor Horn. Big ovation and still wearing "Video killed the Radio Star" specs.

For me the best was the second half "Real" Yes from the 70's. Fragile and "hits" from Topographic Oceans and earlier stuff from Time and a Word.

Excellent stuff.






Ending with Starship Trooper. Proper Yes.

Star Wars - The Last Jedi

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