14 February 2018

As Seen from the Sidecar - Week 16

Sorry we haven't emailed you in a few weeks. We've been stuck in Gondar, Ethiopia and the internet was too slow to support our mailing software! It's been a pretty eventful few weeks too... 

Last time we left you we'd been ill, Reece had a scrap with a scorpion and we were about to cross from Sudan in to Ethiopia. Well, we made it in to Ethiopia and all was going swimmingly until disaster struck. We broke down! This time it was bad. Our clutch completely burnt out. To make things even more exciting we broke down bang in the middle of a parade for Ethiopia's biggest festival, Timkat. The streets were full of people and we were surrounded by around 500 exceptionally excited people. It was pretty intense and we needed to get out of there as soon as possible. Unfortunately though, the clutch had got so mashed up it had seized up the back wheel and we couldn't be towed. Thankfully, we had enough volunteers around to help us lift the sidecar up and squeeze it in to the back of a pick up truck... 

If you haven't seen it already, check out how the action unfolded in Week 13's video...
Week 13 - a scrap with a scorpion and a very burnt clutch 
After some considerable faffing we found ourselves in Gondar at a guesthouse. We took a couple of days to take the bike apart and identify the melted clutch and then quickly ordered the new parts. They had to come from the UK, which would have cost a fair whack but amazingly, UK company, Alto Energy sponsored the shipping costs (thanks guys!!). The parts arrived in Ethiopia 4 days later but got stuck in customs in Addis Ababa for the next two weeks so we spent a lot of time arguing with customs officials on the phone and twiddling our thumbs. Finally, the parts arrived so all that was left was for us, two complete idiots with no mechanical knowledge whatsoever, to rebuild a clutch. Check out how we got on in the video below, which includes another mechanical meltdown on the ride through the amazing Blue Nile Canyon. 
Week 16 - Ethiopian mountains and being back on the road!
We're now emailing from Addis Ababa where we have to wait for three days for protests to stop in the area -  hopefully we'll email you next week from Kenya!

Thanks for reading,

Matt and Reece 
P.S. Check our most recent blog post on modern slavery in Sudan.

NB: This is forwarded by email from the original and has to have some tweaks to fit the blog space available. Paul

11 February 2018

Dyson Smallball

I expect this will be a surprise; a write-up about a vacuum cleaner.

"Get a Dyson" they said. So we did. After a succession of cheaper models including the de-rigeur cleaning company Henry,  we needed a new one. The Hoover it replaced decided not to work, no suck, and so I began to search Google for reviews.

Hell.  Google seems to pay less tax than a 90 year old pensioner but their search engine, skewed as it is, does work.

So we ended up with the Smallball.  It does the job and is far superior in design to the Hoover. Sucks well and it manoeuvrable it most situations.  Not as good on stairs but I manage.

So is it worth £180? Yes. It does the job and I guess that's what you want from it.

9 February 2018

It's Friday. It must be The Illegal Eagles

And it is.  Tonight at the Leas Cliff hall we see the Illegal Eagles take to the stage. Another tribute act that sound like the original but make no attempt to be lookalikes. And all the better for it.

Superb as usual. 

MAG UK - Gearing up for Fred Hill Freedom Rides

The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG), the UK's leading voice for riders, has organised rides in memory of Fred Hill to take place this weekend.

Fred Hill was born in 1909 and was a motorcycle dispatch rider during WWII.  In later years he campaigned for a repeal of the helmet law and became famous for riding his motorcycle in a beret.  Numerous arrests followed, with Hill being sentenced to over 30 prison terms between 1976 and 1984.  He died on 10th February, 1984, whilst serving a two-month sentence in Pentonville prison, having suffered a heart attack, aged 74.

He attended many MAG demos, at which he often spoke.  As a token of respect to this remarkable man, MAG continues to this day to remember Fred by organising Freedom Rides each year in his name.

(http://www.visordown.com/features/fred-hill-man-of-unshakable-principle - Written by MAG UK Super Bloke - Iam Mutch)

There will be a number of Fred Hill Freedom Rides taking place this weekend at various locations.  Check out the MAG National Facebook page or your local MAG Facebook page for full details.  Alternatively visit the website at www.mag-uk.org.

Individual MAG membership is just £27.00 a year, with joint, family and corporate memberships also available.  To join, visit http://www.mag-uk.org/en/membership/, call our office or speak to a MAG member.

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



Central Office
The Motorcycle Action Group Limited
Tel: 01926 844064
Fax: 01926 844065

7 February 2018


I took this photo about 8 years ago. I saw it very often around the area and it was parked up not far from home down by the Royal Military Canal.

I uploaded to a few Flickr groups and amazingly it has over 10000 views. Who would have thought it?

The Damned @ The Leas

Another night of fantastic music at the Leas Cliff Hall.

Slim Jim Phantom and his band kicking off the night. Rockabilly from the former (or is that current?) Stray Cats. Really good.

Slim Jim (right) and band
And then.

The main event. The Damned. Playing hits from their 40 years on the road  plus selections off the new album called "Evil Spirits" - out on April 13th.  I have pre-ordered it on Amazon.

Unfortunately, my phone was running low on battery power and it decided that to actually focus on the stage closer up than the pic above was a no-no!

5 February 2018


Living in the South-East of England we don't get snow very often and when we do it usually stays for a few hours and then melts away and that's it.

A couple of years ago we had about six inches and the nation was paralysed!  "They run trains in Canada" was the cry from people, forgetting that Canada gets snow and loads of it every year and so they are expecting it and not like us, a freak occurrence.

So today when I got up and saw that the car roofs and windscreens were covered in a few centimetres I was expecting the worst.  There wasn't even enough to stop the wipers from working. I did take a picture for posterity.

Hardly worth the effort!!

On my fifteen minute drive to the station I pulled over to take a picture of the sun peeping from under a cloud bank just after it broke over the horizon.  Before I could restart, the snow started.

Not the fluffy flaky stuff of the movies but strangely coarse granular bits about 3mm diameter.  It clattered down on the car.  This kept up for about twenty minutes.  

At home Claire took a picture of Reggie in the garden.  He has seen snow before and seems not to consider it a novelty....

Reggie and his Kong!
Hopefully this will be all for this week and maybe this winter!

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As Seen from the Sidecar - Week 16

Sorry we haven't emailed you in a few weeks. We've been stuck in Gondar, Ethiopia and the internet was too slo...

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