30 July 2007

"What's on your ipod?"

So the question went.

"Well. To be pedantic I don't have an ipod. I do have a Creative mp3 player though."

"Get on with it!"

"There's a couple or three Gary Moore blues albums, Take That, Michael Buble, some Creedence Clearwater, and yes, two Amsterdam tourism podcasts, and yes, a rather interesting album from Electric Six..."

"I thought you were an old rocker?"

"Ah you mean Hendrix, Led Zep and Pink Floyd? Got them too."


"And Metallica and Megadeth..."

"Never heard of them."

And they say the youth of today are musically challenged! TRUE!

"Dave Mustaine and Megadeth were at the forefront of music with a conscience whilst knobs like Bono were still looking for sunglasses that look like he was delving through Yoko Ono's rubbish bin."

29 July 2007

Emirates Cup Winners

The first bit of silverware for this year. After losing to Red Bull Salzburg in pre-season, it was nice to go through this tournament winning both games against top class opposition.

27 July 2007

Premier League Fantasy Football 2007/08

Once again the season for setting up a Fantasy Team is with us. Let's hope we can maintain more enthusiasm than previous years!

We've chosen the http://www.premierleague.com/splash/fantasy/fantasy.html version as it is the official Premier League version and free!

My starting team:

Petr Cech

Mica Richards

Anton Ferdinand

Gabriel Heinze

Gael Clichy

Michael Carrick

Michael Essien

Yosi Benayoun

Freddie Llunberg

Dimitar Berbatov

Robin van Persie

I am fully aware that as an Arsenal supporter I shouldn't consider picking scummers from Spurs, but Berbatov is different. After another year of winning nothing, the lank haired Bulgarian will be on the move to Manchester United or us!!!

26 July 2007

UK Driving Licence

Why change to a machine readable, credit card sized licence, valid across Europe, and then we still need to carry the big foldy-out paper bit as well?

Defeats the object innit?

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

23 July 2007

Possible trip to 25th Anniversary Czech Invader Rally in 2009

Although it is a long time away, I did broach the subject on the Kent Centre list a few weeks ago. I’ll not seriously start to look at it as a viable event until Autumn 2008! If you fancy it, then of course that would be fine! Let me know.

The SOC’s “usual suspects” will be going again in 2008, and the plan is on here - http://homepage.ntlworld.com/speedup/Speedup/Czech_Trip_2008.html.

I’d look to go a different route to them in any case, maybe via Germany and possibly Poland. To make the journey less of a race, I’d be looking at two nights on the way there, two nights at the rally and two or three on the way back. The idea is to enjoy shorter days on the road and then have a chance to look about (be a tourist!) on the way.

Accommodation en-route would be in budget hotels and youth hostels. Ideally looking at YH’s with private rooms and en-suites. Any single blokes can use the dorms if they want, as these are usually cheaper.

Buffalo Soldier or Martyr?

I finally got round to contacting Robinson's to let them know the Buffalo jacket had had a "wardrobe malfunction" again on the storm flap that covers the outside breast pocket.
People have said it is a minor problem. Maybe it is to them, but when you pay for something you expect it to be right. It also means that the pocket is useless in anything other than dry weather as it fills with water. The last time it did my phone and wallet survived okay. Just.
Firstly, I emailed and then dug out the receipt but Michael Robinson got back to me to say that they have another in stock if I want to have it, but that I can part-ex it against a more expensive jacket if I want to.

I suppose I'll wait and see. The jacket itself is a good design. For £99.99 the quality of the material is pretty good. I seemed 100% waterproof in the torrential rain I endured on the ride up to Keele in June. It's just the press stud on the storm flap is not very well secured.

I changed the jacket the weekend before we went to the Isle of Man and it had failed within a few days on the way up the motorway to get the ferry! In fact, it had lasted less than 190 miles and perhaps two or three openings and closings! Not as long as the first one.

We'll see what happens on Thursday.

18 July 2007

Ride to work day

I think today was ride to work day. I was certain it was anyway.

Sadly my trip to work involved 143 miles mainly on the packed motorways of southern England. What joy!

The familiar M20 was as normal, full of tossers in 4WDs who join the carriageway by running straight to the third lane. Never a copper about when one is needed.

The estimate of two hours door to door wasn't too far off. The delays were as expected at Tesco getting petrol after a ride up the A20.

Worse were the hold-ups on the M25 for no apparent reason, then the road works at the A10 junction, after which we strangely encountered crawling traffic all struggling to keep to 69mph.

The reason? A column of Essex's finest boys in blue, bikes, cars and the even more curiously labelled ANPR pursuit cars. Bearing in mind we were in Hertfordshire at the time....

Let's just hope that whilst this lot were causing the decent folks trying to get work to be held up, that the ne'er do wells of Essex weren't making merry in the arts of mugging, burglary and other criminal activities? Who knows? I am sure the crime figures will be manipulated to show that they are doing their bit for crime fighting!

Paul Devall - sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

12 July 2007

Virtualtourist again

Get Your Own MapView Larger Map

A common bug bear, with me at any rate, is when someone goes somewhere and then adds a new entry for all aspects of the place - "Here is the front door of the cathedral", then another complete entry "Here is the back door of the cathedral", ad infinitum until they have ten tips covering one place. They could easily have got it all in one and used a travelogue.

Perhaps worse.... is when someone comes along and rates each tip, when they contain the same info or none at all, just a damned photo. All these do is make the tips section more tedious to go through to find the real gold nuggets of info you want!

5 July 2007

Ride to Work Day

This year ride to work day is on the 18th July. It is actually one of the days that I'll be riding to work!

I have always considered myself a "real biker" as I have experienced the depths of cold usually associated with Scott's fateful assault on the South Pole in 1912. Unlike Scott and his team I survived, but it was only a run the Ostend for the St Nicks Rally. I have a picture somewhere of frozen visor, spectacles and eyebrows.

But latterly, as previously reported, I have become something of a fair weather biker. "Why does that stop you riding to work in July?" Have you seen the chuffing weather?

We had a great April and I rode in everyday. Apart from the TT trip, I rode in most of early June, fortuitously opting for the train after I got back from the SIMS Conference on the 20th. Since then it has hissed down almost every day with floods on the North of England!

July 18th is SIMS again in Bedford! Fingers crossed for dry weather!!!!!!

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

2 July 2007

Amsterdam Hilton Weekend!

As I had to cancel our trip to Gouda a few days ago after months of planning, we were left with a Shuttle booking that I need to change before the Gouda trip, this Friday (the 6th July) or lose the fare as a no-show.

We both thought we'd like to go to Holland again. On the Gouda trip our chosen day out was to have been Amsterdam, so we decided to make this new trip to Amsterdam.

It so happens that Arsenal are involved in the Amsterdam ArenA Tournament over the week of 2nd and 4th August, which fits in nicely when we want to get away. Although getting one of the 1800 (!) tickets allocated to Arsenal supporters may prove a problem as it is so close and the away ticket people get first bite at the cherry over us mere Gold members. Okay we have paid at least £885 for a season ticket this year.

I've re-booked the Shuttle for 3rd August earlier than we were going with the Kent Centre to Gouda. This is purely so we can plough up the motorways to get to the hotel ASAP and then do some sightseeing.

<--- I even bought a Rough Guide to Amsterdam on Saturday!

As for hotels, I checked on the Net for loads that are mentioned in the Rough Guide. Even those considered "budget" are not what I call budget priced!

Then I had a small brainwave. Tesco Clubcard points!

Checking the Clubcard website showed that choosing the Hilton option meant that you could book into selected European destinations as well as UK. Aha! And yes, Amsterdam is one of them!

The Marriott scheme allows you to book online and then order the deal tokens, and when you check out you pay with them. There is a code you have to enter to get that price and to use Deals. However, the Hilton requires a phone call. Ugh! I hate using the phone. I do it all day at work, so why would I want to actually talk to someone on a weekend?
Anyway. I dialled the number, unobtainable. Then I checked the website again, right number. Then entered some feedback (more of that later!), and then went to Hilton's own website. Dialled the number. Scottish voise says that calls will be recorded... squeek, click, click, and I am through to the US.

Booking was very civilised. My idea that the US reservations would have no idea about Tesco or Clubcards was unfounded. Booked a non smoking Queen room for.... €220 a night. Gulp! Two night plus high rate Dutch and local Amsterdam taxes came to €488 or £348 according to my calculator but only £329 according to Marriott. Reservation backed by my VISA card.

Next to go through the pile of Clubcard vouchers to get the right number. A bit short though! Sweat. Got enough. Logon to Tesco to buy the Deal Tokens that have to be sent to Hilton in Glasgow within a week, surely more time added on for booking on a Saturday when there's no post....

Today have to sit back and wait for the Deals to arrive so we can get them delivered "next day" to Hilton. I assume they amend the computer that shows we have paid the best part of £325 already and anything over we have to do ourselves on VISA.

So it's a month away. Where to go what to do? Arsenal Gold members can't even attempt to buy tickets until 13th July for the ArenA Tournament. If we get lucky, so be it, but we'll go anyway.

1 July 2007

Tesco Clubcard!

There are those that think that the supermarkets are ripping everyone off by offering their rewards schemes, and those of us that go to Tesco anyway and collect points.

There are those that get the Clubcard vouchers every month and they use them in the shop to subsidise their shopping.

There are those that see the potential of using them to buy "deal tokens" for a variety of things, days out, holidays, buying air miles or what we do, use them to buy hotel rooms across the UK.

S far we have stayed twice in London at the West India Dock Marriott and once in Ipswich when visiting relatives. The total cost for all three hotels made up from Clubcard points.

Whether or not Tesco are talking us for a ride, we don't give a fig. Each quid is worth four when used to buy deals. For £40 Tesco Quid we can have a room for £160!

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