So we decided to go ahead and book the hotel, then tickets for the circuit and then the ferry.
30 December 2008
3 December 2008
31 October 2008
I blogged it back then, click on the "solar panel" link below, and never reported how good or crap it has been.
Good. It has been excellent as it happens. Despite the lack of sun generally in the UK this year, it has been a total success. No flat battery problems and only one ABS malfunction that is usually associated with a low battery.
Well worth the money. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone!
A small saving admittedly but today P&O's fare on the website went up to £21.50 from £19.
28 October 2008
27 October 2008
22 October 2008
A boys weekend away to Holland for a long weekend?
My brother mentioned that now his daughter's are off his hands, one at Uni and the other finished at Uni, that he would have more time for bike rides so I suggested we try the Dutch TT next year.
After a search for somewhere reasonable to stay we found a hotel about 20 miles from the track as Assen.
I advertised it on the SOC Kent Centre site and to a few friends and if all goes well we have 6 of us going and we have three rooms booked. It's so far away.... but now we need to track down the tickets for the racing on the Saturday!!
24 September 2008
It seems I have bought the "Freitag Nachmittag Müll" - Friday afternoon shit.
What's wrong this time? Something has gone wrong with one of the locks on the chin piece and it needs dismantling and fixing.
This time getting it repaired will be hard work as it is out of warranty. The Oxprod bloke at their road show said send it back, but Oxprod won't accept it from a customer only a dealer, and Infinity don't give a f*ck. Dump the thing in the sea filled with concrete to start a new reef?
23 September 2008
21 September 2008
This is me with one of the dogs, not the one I had most of the day as she had gone to bed.
More photos from the run and from all the pet food runs can be found on Kent Centre Flickr
20 September 2008
At least I have a big bag of dog food to strap to the back seat in the absence of Mrs D.
Let's see what happens when I get to "Stop 24" and when the group starting at the Oakdene Cafe arrive.
When we planned the day it was back in April after the Spring run.
16 September 2008
3 September 2008
2 September 2008
the window. Slip the radio on and Terry Wogan's sidekick was announcing
flooding on the M1 and on the A20 in South London. SO I bottled it. Got
Claire to run me to the station and I bought a cheap day return.
Since about Tonbridge it brightened up gradually and sitting overlooking
Upper Street it is bright and sunny, no wind to rattle the tree right
outside our second floor window. B*llocks.
1 September 2008
and even more amazingly I have managed to find a space on the bike park
across the road from my new office.
Today was a bit of a squeeze as the dopey clown with the little shite trail
bike parked with his front wheel to the right instead of left like everyone
else, so the little shit heap took up loads of space more than necessary.
With the forecast of the weather about to break I wonder how long this will
happen, dry weather = good!
31 August 2008
Essentially it came down to the Tourances I have had all the time since I have had the bike, and perhaps trying a set of road oriented tyres, and that led me down the Bridgestone BT020/BT021 route.
A bit of checking round favoured FWR Tyres in Kennington as best for the ride-in/ride-out price over Watling at Catford. As I was going up to London on Saturday anyway for an Arsenal game, I set off a bit earlier and called in. Luckily I arrived during a spell of quiet and was almost straight in. Luckier than the guys that arrived sometime after me and got told they might have a two hours wait.
Anyway, the combination of BT020 front (110/80ZR19) and BT021 rear (150/70ZR17) look good and first impression as favourable.
With new tyres there is always that "shock" that the bike handles differently, more "immediately" than on the old worn tyres you have got used to.
These went on at 51261. So let's see how long they last shall we!
29 August 2008
25 August 2008
Here's my version except we expected to have to stop along the route. There are two pics linked together. One the track disappearing into the lake (bottom of page) and the one above of the sat-nav screen.
The route is was telling us to follow is to the right of the black triangle! The black triangle is the car's position and I am in mid-turn to go back the way I came..... The route that goes under the tadpole shaped lake doesn't exist.
20 August 2008
20 July 2008
I then loaded all the maps for the French holiday and we never looked back. As we had to use the car rather than the bike, I was able to take the Toshiba laptop from work with me, complete with Mapsource v9 maps.
6 July 2008
We arrived over two hours before the start of the rally. Before the checkpoint had been set up. Andy arrived about an hour after us and we chatted whilst he noshed through a Burger King speciality.
Then everything started to go tits up.
My Quest locked up and couldn't find the satellites. Then it simply gave up. Luckily we had maps and both Pete and Andy had the route in their Quest and Zumo 550 respectively.
Once on the way I began to feel a little uncomfortable and my head began to hurt and my neck was a bit stiff. By the first checkpoint after the start at Leicester I was beginning to feel unwell and I took a couple of paracetamol tablets. Then we were off and gradually I found my eyesight a bit "tunnelled" and this indicated a migraine on its way. I finally dropped so far back the others pulled into a lay-by. I had a drink and decided to call it a day so not to hold them up.
After so many miles to have to give up north of Leicester was a pain and also embarrassing!
In the end I left them to make the U-turn through a convenient hole and made my way home via a variety of Little Chefs and motorway services before getting home just after the start of Dr Who.
As I felt a bit better on the way back I had thought of doing a lesser award, but with no GPS to help me find a few I decided not to bother.
The pic was taken by Andy at the start at the services at Donington Park.
4 July 2008
Taken this morning on the way from a school I had just visited to do their end of year and the office. I had to ride past the ground to see what was happening, if anything.
Amazingly, a load of people about having their photos taken and the shop (to the left of the bike) open and had a sale on.
After work it's the National Rally, First a short ride up to Pete's place in Watford and tomorrow the rally starts for real.
3 July 2008
2 July 2008
As I split lanes I managed to catch up with truck bounds for London to the fuel protest. Phew!
The rest of the way in wasn't too bad. The usual w*nkers that can't line up behind the car in front when they know the jam will go all the way to the Blackwall Tunnel. The mongs that push into the outside lane despite it ending a few hundred yards ahead!
The run up through Hackney not too bad and I was at work just after 9am for a 9.30am.
Not looking forward to the ride home in the drizzle!
1 July 2008
Today I had to be at a conference in Russell Square for 1000 to sign-in for a 1030 start. No problems.
Up early enough, sort out the bins as today is the once a fortnight that Shepway come and take the proper rubbish. Plenty of time in two weeks for anything a little iffy to go off in the bin and stink to high heaven.
Then it took 15 minutes to get the 4 miles to the Stop 24 Services to top up the tank. Why? Firstly a truck reversing into a narrow access to Jewson's yard off the main road. Then a broken down truck on the hill just exiting Hythe.
My new system of not exceeding an indicated short-80 has improved my fuel figures. The short-80 is on the speedo with the needle just touching the left edge of the 8 on the dial! It equates to about 70/71mph according to the Garmin. The return figures for the run to work yesterday and return to Stop 24 via home returned 55.19mpg. I usually with a careless hand on the throttle get about 47/48mpg.
The Garmin took me my usual way through the Blackwall Tunnel, at least today no hold up waiting for them to clear a breakdown, and along the A13 and through the City. Not many problems encountered.
But aren't cab drivers ****wits? Why do they deliberately make sure that the gap between the traffic island and then is too narrow to get through but not too narrow to make it look as if they are blocking you.... The clowns must have a ruler onboard!
Anyway a hot day and plenty of parking in Russell Square. On the parking space I used there was a rail provided by Camden for about half the length of the space. I wasn't able to get on that bit but it was easy to park and I used my big Oxford Chain in any case. The space nearest to the hotel was empty! If I had known I would have parked there, in the shade as well.
Here I am with my Caramel Frap!
30 June 2008
The other member of the team is Peter Bolsover. I guess we'll all be riding BMW's this year!
Andy has planned the route for the Special Gold Award and that means 22 checkpoints including start at Kegworth and the end at Bletchley. His route for the Garmin didn't work on my Quest and so with his waypoints I have started a new route that does seem to work.
I guess we'll see how Peter's Quest and mine decide to do the journey! Whenever I've shared routes before, we have had slight differences between Garmin units!
And so to the weekend.
Tomorrow, I have a conference in central London so need to set off early to ensure I am there for signing in. Also to find a parking place near to Russell Square. I'll have to check parking in London website (http://www.motorcycleparking.com/frames_index.htm) to see where the parking places are. There seem to be quite a few and no doubt I'll have to try them all to get a place for a big boys bike!
25 June 2008
Home to Keele was estimated at 235 miles by Garmin and after a detour to get some cash in Newcastle under Lyme it worked out to be pretty accurate.
Unlike last year the weather was good on the way. Also unlike last year, petrol was almost an arm and a leg per gallon. I decided to keep the speed down to an indicated 75mph which equated to 70mph on the Garmin's speedo. As a result fuel consumption was around 54mpg for the trip. Not bad for a big boxer twin fully loaded with fat rider and stuff for three days, decent stuff for dinner in the evening and working stuff for the days at the Conference.
On the way up time was lost due to a broken down truck on the M25 by Potters Bar; the tail back to before Enfield's A10 junction. Entering the traffic to split the lanes the arrival time at Keele was 1512, as I exited past the truck and into the empty three lanes it had gone up to 1547! How long the cars at the back took to get past the obstruction God alone knows.
After a brief respite it was into the road works on the M1 where they are widening it from the M25 to Luton. Narrow lanes and everyone keeping to 50mph. Once again it was a treat to get up to legal speeds again.
I had a lunch stop at Toddington for 20 minutes sitting in the sun and then set off again. The full tank I had filled at the M20 Services at J11 was about half gone and I cruised as far a Corley before filling up. The mileage for this tank was around 185 miles and there were two bars left on the gauge. I made a note of the mileage so I could work out the mpg later.
We lost a bit of time between the M1 and Corley as there was a big accident on the other side. All I could see as we crawled past was a pretty destructed Mini with it's roof ripped off and a load of ambulances and cop cars. The M6 was tailed back past the junction before and then empty as they had closed it way back towards Coventry.
I had another stop at Stafford to have a pee and a drink of water. It was still warm. I finally arrived in the University at about 1715. All in all it had taken about 6 hours from Hythe.
After the conference I was away just after 2pm, I had reset the Garmin to record the journey. As on the way up I decided to avoid the possible solid traffic through Brum on the elevated M6 and took to the M6 Toll. A bit steep at £2.50 for a bike, but hardly a car or truck to be seen. The Garmin spends the first half of the journey along it telling you to turn round and go back to the M6 itself, but after that it tells you to carry on! It's not as though it doesn't have the Toll road on the maps! It is clearly marked! For the money I hope I saved myself some time! In my experience the M6 past Brum from Fort Dunlop to the RAC at Walsall has always been a shit for years and years.
I planned to stop at Rothersthorpe services on the way back but in the end there were still three bars on the gauge and I carried on to Newport Pagnell. My arse was killing me by then and with another 180 plus miles on the odometer I filled up as well as ate my Capita SIMS Conference packed lunch.
To be brutally honest, apart from a cooked breakfast, the packed lunch was the best meal of the entire conference!!
I arrived home a little after 1830 with 237 on the Garmin and only 27 minutes of stop time in just over 4 hours 15 mins on the road.
23 June 2008
I had already seen where to park when we have been there in the car when going to football. Rather than drive to Highbury and try to park, we park at North Greenwich and get the tube to Arsenal.
It was Claire's first trip on the bike since her foot problem and she managed to squeeze her foot in her boots!
Parking was easy and we then walked across through the station and into the O2. I've seen the Dome for years but was amazed at the building inside the "tent"! The main O2 is easily as big as Wembley Arena!
The concert was excellent; playing mostly Supernatural plus a load of other stuff I have never heard before. A couple of guests including Beverley Knight and her backing singers.
This was the third time I have seen Santana. Once at the Hammersmith Odeon with Buddy Miles and once at the roman amphitheatre in Frejus in France.
The ride home was pretty uneventful.
22 June 2008
I chose an Alpine Stars t-shirt from the choices when the girl from the shop rang up. Later when Claire got a call to say she had won too, she was offered an Oxford Products tank bag.
We picked them up at the weekend. The t-shirt too small for me so Claire has it, and as she doesn't have a tank to magnet the bag to, I'll have that!
I'll give it a go over the National Rally in a few weeks and see how it goes for camera etc.
18 June 2008
I am very disappointed with the quality of the Suzuki's jacket. A small spill at walking pace on a patch of diesel and the shoulder was all burst although not a lot of damage to the rest of the jacket where it had abraded on the road. The shoulder armour may have saved any bone damages but the bruising was across my body fron shoulder blade to elbow.
In the end I tried a whole load at Hein Gericke and the ones in my price range were not very nice or not available in XXL! On the way home from HG, we called in at Laguna's new shop in Ashford. There I fell in love with a Halvarsson jacket. Very nice material, soft and waterproof but the XL was simply a little too small and they didn't have an XXL in stock. They did say I could pay for it and they would order it and if it didn't fit, refund me.....
With a trip to Keele planned for the beginning of the following week I needed something and had a look at Frank Thomas. I've not had an FT jacket for quite a few years. This one is part of the anti-freeze range and with the lining in was a snug fit. I don't usually wear the jackets with lining and with it out, the mesh inside is perfect with a shirt and my EDZ windproof underneath. There is plenty of room for my Peter Storm fleece if it gets cold.
To help in the summer there are two waterproofed zips front and back to allow air to flow through the jacket. On the run up to Santana at the O2 the day after buying it with the front open it did make the shoulders billow a bit.
The base cost was £99.99 and as they had an open day with 20% of everything the price came down. Of course, you never really know how good it will be in an accident! I have fitted the Knox back protector that started its working life last year in a succession of Buffalo jackets and then moved to the Suzuki jacket...
11 June 2008
2 June 2008
The bike was SORN'd in May. As the tax ran out at the end of April and I wasn't going to have any opportunity to ride it, so rather than pay for a month road tax, I put it on SORN. I did this over the Internet and printed the receipt.
To use the bike on Sunday June 1st I needed to tax the bike to make it legal, How? The post office seemed keen on selling me a disc that would start on May 1st, even though it was the 31st already.
I checked online, entered the number off the log book plus the reg number and again I was offered tax from the 1st May. I gave up and sent them an email to say it was ridiculous in this instance that you can't renew online for the Sunday as the starting date. Not had a reply yet.
On Sunday morning I logged on again and lo and behold the date had changed to June 1st. SO I renewed. Okay it costs a few quid for them to run the service and whilst it might seem a rip off considering you are paying the Government, it was worth.
Sadly it was drizzling and miserable and I didn't go out anyway!
A question? What is the legality of riding with an out of date tax disc BUT having the receipt to say you had paid in your pocket? Luckily I won't have to test it to find out, as the disc should arrive in the post before I will use the bike at the weekend!
Looking at places to go within easy reach of the gîte.
Oradour sur Glane. Since I read about it many years ago I have wanted to go. It's only about 20 miles from where we will be staying.
Chateau de Val. Medieval chateau with pepper-pot towers that used to command a valley above the Dordogne near to Bort les Orgues. Now more scenic as they flooded the valley with a dam and it now sits on a small promontory above the water line. Given its name we used to joke it was the only family castle....
Well, that's two places for me.
Claire would like to go to Limoges which even nearer and I am certain that pottery will come into it somewhere!
Oradour sur Glane - http://www.oradour.info/
Chateau de Val - http://www.chateau-de-val.com/english.htm
29 May 2008
Part One - Accommodation
To keep the costs down we had a look on a few sites for gîtes, firstly the Gîtes de France site, but hardly anything leaped off the page and said “book me”, or rather to rephrase, nothing leaped of the page and said “book me”, at a price I could afford or wanted to think about paying.
Then someone pointed us at another site, Holiday Lets and this led to Holiday Lettings (links at foot of page) and then I spent a few hours over a couple of evenings searching and searching.
A small apartment in Collioure on the Mediterranean coast took our fancy, but it was a bit on the expensive side and we “shortlisted” it for later.
More searching and even in Spain eventually brought us to a gîte in the Limousin. Good price for a week and available.
Like most of the owners on the two websites, the owners are English and so it is quite easy to get extra info and also sort out any deposits that have to be paid. An exchange of emails and a deposit went off this morning.
Part Two – Ferry
As we are taking the car I was expecting horrendous rates. With the price of diesel I was doubly worried the arm and leg I have in hock to buy the bike might be even longer before I won them again! And so it could have been!
My first port of call (sic) was Eurotunnel. Living nearby I do like to use the service and expect as a local that they will let me have a cheapish fare as a reward for putting up with the blight on the landscape the rail link and tunnel have become. “I remember when it was all fields round here”…
Sadly, this lot wanted £241 for a car to go early afternoon on a Friday and come back mid-afternoon on a Sunday a week and a bit later.
I then went to P&O. The same times by boat revealed a fare of £125, and with a bit if tinkering this came down to £95 return by going one boat later.
Norfolk Line was more expensive at £135. I didn’t bother with Speed Ferries!
I went back and booked P&O.
Part Three – Overnight Stop on the way out
Although Via Michelin shows the Calais to gîte distance of 451 miles and a driving time of 6h 54m and although we are in the car, I still think in terms of being on the bike with a pillion that doesn’t like ridiculous mileages each day!
So an overnight stop in both directions is essential.
We both like Campaniles. I’d not want to stay in one for more than a couple of days, and they are ideal for an overnight stop. Plus there are loads of them in France.
Looking at the ETA Frogside I thought maybe 2 hours on the road and this is at a point to the north of Paris on the “Michelin Suggested Route” of A26 and A1.
Checking the Campanile website and then as I was curious clicking on “Special Offers” reveals some hotels with a 30% discount between now and the end of December.
After a bit of working out and testing routes I hit on the idea of one on the outskirts of Paris we had stayed in back in 2004 the Campanile Gennevilliers Barbanners. At €39 for a night it is almost a steal.
So I booked that one online as well.
Part Four – The Route
I’ll let Mapsource and the Quest work that out for me to some extent. I like to check the route against a Michelin map to ensure that where possible, when not knocking off huge distances on the autoroutes we get some scenic routes under our belts.
Holiday Lets - www.holidaylets.net/
Holiday Lettings - www.holidaylettings.co.uk/
Campanile Hotels - www.campanile.com/en/hotels/index.aspx
Via Michelin - www.viamichelin.co.uk
P&O Ferries - www.poferries.com
13 May 2008
I've been a bit quiet on the blogger front lately. To be honest I've not had much chance to get out on the bike, despite us being in the middle of a heat wave in the South-East. Today is I think the 9th continuous day of sunshine.
Only a month ago at the pet food run we had rain and sleet as we left the Hein Gericke shop! I was last to leave the kennels as my phone rang and it was Claire to tell me that my mum had had a heart attack. Everyone cleared off and that has occupied many of my weekends going and visiting etc.
It has been so bad that I have even put the GS on SORN for may. If I am not riding it, why tax it? It's in the garage hooked up to the solar charger. I'll tax it in June when I will be out on it.
23 April 2008
Yesterday, nice ride-in apart from the arseholes on the approach to the Blackwall Tunnel who can't line up behind the car in front. If I wasn't so charitable I'd think they deliberately did it to stop us slipping through the gaps...
Today, misty and then foggy. By the Kent and London border it started to drizzle, then rain hard. Once at work, my jeans were wet, yep, bloody waterproofs have leaked round the balls!
18 April 2008
14 April 2008
I met with a few other riders from the Suzuki OC (Ian Gardner and Paul Bratton), UKGSers and BMW Club at the new services on the M20 and after a coffee and then rush to get the waterproofs on, we had a damp run up to HG in Maidstone as arranged. As there were so few of us and the directness of the route we didn't use the drop-off system! More of that later!
There were a few riders at HG when we arrived including new Kent Centre member, Graham Reynolds. It was about 1120 when the Oakdene ride-in arrived led by Tony Young the BMF Region 6 Chairman.
This took the bikes to 26. Not a bad turn out considering the weather was wet and miserable. I had hoped for greater numbers having advertised it in Motorcycle Sport & Leisure as well as on the Internet groups I contribute to. As for the SOC? No one that is unknown to the Kent Centre!
The word was passed round by Tony that we would be using the "Drop Off System" and I led off into the rain and hail. This is where things went tits up. I kept checking my mirrors and there was always a line of lights behind me. I kept to the speed limits and most of it to clear Maidstone is 30mph. After a scenic ride along some country lanes I had to stop when I could only see three bikes behind me! I stopped and waited and tried to contact Ian on his Interphone and Paul B on his Cardo, no luck. I carried on leading the few and as we approached the kennels there was Paul B and part of the group facing the other way. Luckily I had told them it was Sutton Valance.
I wasn't allowed to give out the kennels address as once it gets in the public domain the animal dumpers leave unwanted animals by the gate or tied to it. Paul was busy Cardo chatting to someone as we passed them to find the rest of the group by the kennels entrance. Phew.
Jackie, the volunteer's leader at the kennels, was waiting and we parked up where shown and she introduced the photographer from the Kent Messenger. He arranged us round the pile of doggie food for some pics before he had to shoot off and we were then introduced to some of the dogs they have at the moment looking for homes. There are a large number of Staffies in their care at the moment and these are difficult to re-home despite the pair they had to meet us both being lickers rather than biters.
Anyway, despite the poor weather we managed to collect a large pile of food and about £60 in cash.
If you couldn't make it and want to donate to the group, then please check the link on www.geocities.com/kentpetrun
We have already got a destination for our next run and this will be in the Autumn to the kennels for retired greyhounds near Canterbury. Keep you eyes on the Kent Pet Run website for details.
27 March 2008
It doesn't seem that long ago when I packed as much of my stuff as I could in the trailer. Then fitted the Swagmans over the rear seat, fixed the two retaining bungies round the footpegs and grab rail.
Got my bike gear on and then locked up for the last time. Then slowly set off down Sportovní in Zastávka for the last time.
Not too long? July 1993! Christ, it doesn't seem like that long!
26 March 2008
With no power in the garage it seemed like a good idea. Proof in the pudding will be on Saturday when I wheel the bike out and hope to have some charge to get it started!
The one on the Maplin site now is slightly upmarket compared with mine that cost £9.99 as it has a choice of connector, fag lighter plug and crocodile clips; when mine came only with a fag lighter plug. The new £14.99 version comes suction caps to mount it with. I have mine on a pile of bricks outside my garage door and the wire trailing to the bike inside. As it doesn't look too waterproof I have it in a tasteful clear placcy bag.
25 March 2008
The plan, such as it is, is to go on the long ferry, either Portsmouth/Bilbao or Plymouth/Santander at the end of May covering the Bank Holiday and the school half term. Working in "education" means that it is easier to get a more expensive holiday for that period!
If you buy stuff from Amazon you pay whatever, if you buy from the Club's website, you pay the same and the Centre gets a bit of commission. NO skin off your nose and we earn a few pence!
15 March 2008
11 March 2008
A couple of years ago I tested everything, rode to Alford Brothers in Folkestone, and in the test area the horn decided not to work, we squirted some electrical contact stuff int he horn button and still it was dead. I got the fail notice, and feeling very pissed off, rode home. I'd got less than half a mile when some kid ran across the road by the Saga building. Automatic response to stab the horn and it worked.
Straight back to Alfords, they pressed the button and it worked, so it passed. And it has every time I've pressed the button since! Touch wood!
6 March 2008
3 March 2008
I decided to park in an underground car park opposite the El Corte Ingles store. It makes it much easier when you can follow their signs as well to find where you have left the car! Getting into the city was straight forward with the GPS doing all the hard work for us, Although she did take us past the Valencia CF football ground twice as we had a problem deciphering the directions she was giving us.
The first pic I took was of the bullring at the end of Carrer Colon. Next door is the railway station but its ornate and early Edwardian facade was very hard to get a decent angle on with all the damned traffic!
From here it was a right turn towards the similarly ornate and hard to photograph Correos and then the Town Hall. This is easier to photograph,m even if the guide book is misleading when it says the city's coat of arms is left aloft by two naked females. Not quite what I had expected. The bat is there above the shield as this is in memory of the fact that a bat is supposed to have landed on the helmet of EL Cid before the city was recaptured from the Moorish invaders.
From here we managed not to go in either of the oldest horchateria in the country although we passed them and took a look in. Very austere with white tiled walls and stone floors, just like a few pie and mash shops I know in London!
From here it is a short walk to the cathedral and once again an opportunity for us to have lunch, yep, you guessed it, a boccadillo and cortado, but this time and opening course of a Coca-Light!
Circumnavigating the Cathedral lets you see the different architectural faces and the differences in the doors. Sadly, the cathedral was closed when we were there and so we were denied a chance to glimpse the Holy Grail. We saw the epic film with Monty Python actually looking for it, even Indiana Jones had a look and couldn't find it, and it was in the Cathedral all the time! Apparently, an eminent scientist has done a bit of work on it and to disprove the story that it is indeed the cup that Christ drank from at the last supper; he did various tests to prove that the goblet is pre-Christ's time. So what does that prove? The cafe he was in with the disciples was in fact very frugal and made sure their cutlery and glasses lasted as long as possible! Anyway, until Christ drank out of it is wasn't worth anything. How many million glasses are made each year in the UK, and then some celeb has their lips in the rim and it's suddenly worth a few quid. Why not the same with the Grail?
Once filled with a bit of Christian fervour we decided to make the 60 miles trip back. The car was in a car-park and there were no humans about. In the end to get the right change to fit in the machines I had to buy a couple of ice-creams to get the coins to go in the machine. An expensive day's parking at over €9 for about 4 hours in total.
The drive back was quite uneventful, sticking to the N340 through Vila-Real and all the massive porcelain and ceramics factories, the place where Spain's bogs and sinks are made!
Evening meal? The rest of the lentils and sausages.
First stop to check we were on the right track was just outside Cabanes, just 14km from the coast. Another "Spanish" village with loads of building of flats on the outskirts, and some at crazy prices. Crazy LOW! Two bed and two bathrooms with underground parking for €93000?!
From Cabanes the GPS took us further inland and after a short distance we began to get cold feet about the lack of fuel in the tank. The Panda seems to have quite a small fuel tank and we couldn't find a local petrol station. So we opted to return to the coast, to one of the many stations that line the N340 towards Benicarlo and then tank up, returning across the mountains towards Morella.
Once we had a full tank we let the GPS take us off the N340 and into the mountains. Even up here there is evidence of building with roads being improved and the EU flag showing prominently all over the place on signs saying how many millions of euros had been expended!
We took a detour off the route into Sant Mateu. On the outskirts it was billed as a "national monument" although as we didn't speak Spanish or Catalan it was difficult to see why. I'll check the Internet when I get home I said!
As well as the Cathedral there is a really nice and quiet square. When we arrived it was lunchtime and apart from a few locals most of the bars were closed. Our lunch consisted of a coffee and a bocadillo. Very nice to sit out in the sun even if we both had thin fleeces on!
Once we had eaten we had a walk around the deserted streets, even here a lot of work going on renovating the old buildings in the square and some of the ones in the streets off it. The tourist office was one in question and the handiwork of local carpenters was there to be amazed at. Sadly, too dark to get a decent picture of.
After that we had a walk back round the outside of the old town walls that can still be seen and decided that as it was getting late we'd head back to the coast and to Peñiscola and this time have a look at the town itself.
Following the signs towards the old town took us along the beach and we decided to park just short of the fishing port.
We arrived just in time to see the boats begin to return after a day at sea and there was quite a lot of horns going off as they raced around the breakwater and into the quayside. From then it was all action as they unloaded the boats and rushed the boxes of fish into the market and the ice store. Some of the smaller stuff was being sold off small tables right by the boats.
From the port we had a walk across to the old town and up through the gates. I imagine this will be very packed in the summer, although the lack of anything even remotely in English may mean that the tourists are Spanish and maybe other Europeans.
The climb up through the narrow streets takes you around the edge of the walled part of the old town overlooking the sea. here and there are watch towers for the guard and above a new lighthouse to replace the old stone faro.
Although not actually the warmest day of the year, it was February after all, it was still mostly thin jumper weather rather than t-shirt weather. We stopped in a little cafe for a drink, Claire having a glass of rosado and me a cortado.
Once we had had a rest we made our way back through a web of small streets and steps back to the port and the car for the last leg of the day's drive out and back to the apartment.
By the time we got home we were a bit peckish, but we had bought stuff in and Claire cooked a rather "special" lentil and sausage concoction. What joy that it would last two days.
Once we had munched it was time to get back to avoid any further street closures. Driving back on the N340 can be a nightmare as the trucks are all shifting at 100km/h and rarely give any quarter so joining in a small car can be quite a nervy matter.
Once back and with the car parked we had a walk around to see what there was to see in the gardens. As well as water, waterfalls and fountains, it is also stocked with huge koi carp. Each of the pond areas is separated from the others by a sort of dam and with the water level being quite low the fish were able to squeeze over the "wall" between ponds. There was quite an audience to watch them when we were there.Plus there are trees from other parts of Spain and around the Mediterranean.
Luckily we set off with plenty of time built in to the trip across to Gatwick. Not that I was expecting too many hold-ups on the way, but you never know.In the end it was the car-park that was the stumbling block. I booked the same place we always use, Courtlands, just off the airport itself. Sadly, when we arrived the entrances were all closed up and it was deserted. A quick phone call revealed they had merged with a neighbouring place and the other entrance was in use. Actually easier to find off the roundabout not far from the South Terminal building.
Flight no problems. Easyjet very good and as we were there so early we got to hand in the luggage very early and earn ourselves a chance to get on theplane first. It is all very civilised at Gatwick, not the mad and unseemly scrum that you often get at the Spanish end!
Car hire with http://www.carjet.com/ no problems as usual. At Valencia we had booked the cheapest car available and expected a Ka but in the end got a four door Fiat Panda. Not a bad car as it happens and easily capable of what we needed.
We opted for the A7/AP7 route from the airport to ensure we arrived in Oropesa del Mar in daylight and in time to find the apartment and book-in. As we arrived we found that Marina d'Or is a newish complex of apartments about half a mile north of the main town in a self contained sort of world. Building going on apace still.
Further on were a series of campsites that seemed to be doing good business with the silver vacationers in their motor homes, although the "park it anywhere" brigade were out in some force practically everywhere there was a spot for them to stop.
The first night after booking in we parked the car in the underground car-park and went to a nearby restaurant. Our first calamares and chips was a little different; instead of chips we had patatas bravas and patatas con alio. Very nice. Day 2
After a bit of a lie in we had breakfast and then had a run out up the coast towards Benicarlo where I have stayed before, twice in fact, at the Parador. The weather was so-so and we arrived in good time to park up and visit the supermarket for a few things and then have a walk round. We decided to have a picnic on the beach. We called in the Parador to have look and get their brochure full of the hotels across Spain. I was surprised to see I have been to a few more than I remembered as the book triggered the grey cells. The only one I have stayed in twice is the Benicarlo hotel.
On the way back we went along the coast to have a look at Peñiscola, the next town south on the coast and the old town on the end of a promontory. It was getting a bit windy and we took a few pics before heading off back to the apartment. We thought we'd end up coming back another time, maybe not even on this holiday and having alook around.
It was getting a bit windy and we took a few pics before heading off back to the apartment. We thought we'd end up coming back another time, maybe not even on this holiday and having alook around.
18 February 2008
17 February 2008
In the end it was a good morning for a ride out. Didn't go far across the marsh and then up to Aldington, past Paul O'Grady's gaff and then past Port Lympne zoo to the A20. Our eventual destination was the new services on the M20 at junction 11 to are what it is like and maybe try a Starbuck's.
The services are very new and make a good addition to the local area and the petrol station sells at normal rates rather than the highly inflated prices usuallly associated with motorway services. Even Starbucks was the same as high street stores.
From there it was a short run across West Hythe and home.
Another sunny and cold day with the frost that was on the front lawn still there when we got home.
15 February 2008
It's been unusable for ages as the chin piece won't lock on one side. That is after the top vent went tits up soon after I bought it.
At the time it happened Infinity had joined it down the pan and I was left to get in touch with the importer. They have me the bird as they don't deal with the public.
They did say that Infinity had risen Lazarus style from the grave and to take it back.
I popped in to the Holborn store today. Can't say they were all that sympathetic but there you go. Have to take it back on Monday and see what Oxford Products say.
As it is now out of warranty and I have no receipt I am essentially fecked. Depending on how much it will cost to repair it might end up staying in deepest Oxfordshire.
An expensive toy. In there years I had no problems with my Caberg J1S.
"You get what you pay for...: Bollocks. I could have had three Cabergs for the same dosh or NINE years wear! Not fecking 6 months!
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14 February 2008
11 February 2008
A combination of having nowhere to go, a gammy left knee and other committments at weekends have meant my riding has been nil until today.
Of course, when I tried to start it last week, the battery made that machine gun clatter on the starter motor.
So I got the battery out of the Kettle and kept that topped up all week and today jumped it from there and it started. A bit wheezy, but it ran and I went out and popped in a fiver of unleaded and then had a ride round the district for an hour or so.
8 February 2008
Bugger! B*&&*%$s!! Battery flat on the GS! I went to start it and have a run around the block for the first time since before Christmas and it was that old machine-gun rattle from the starter! Clock back to 00:00!
So what to do? Feck battery too far under the tank to get the crocodile clips on the battery charger to attach, so next best? Try connecting to the starter motor input and an earth? Not tried that yet.
Next thing is to charge up the Kettle's battery in the house (no leccy in the garage) and then use that as an aid to jumping the bike. Fingers crossed!
28 January 2008
22 January 2008
15 January 2008
9 January 2008
As an Arsenal fan it us nice to play our nearest neighbours and win. However the Premier League match a month or so ago was a close run thing, and if not for a poorly taken penalty by Robbie Keane it well have ended up another draw. The Arsenal winning 2-1.
Tonight we had high expectations despite the shoddy performance at Burnley in the FA Cup on Sunday. After all it was our regular whipping boys, the scummers from up the Victoria Line!
We started off okay, some huff and puff, but no goals.
The back four missing all the regular starters consisted of Hoyte, Djourou, Senderos and Traore. A bit lightweight but seemed to be coping with Berbatov and Keane.
We probably played the worst I have seen in around 40 years as an Arsenal supporter. Utter shit.
In the end we went behind after some pressure and about the only time that Gilberto, Eduardo and Walcott managed to link up, Theo waltzed in and scored our equaliser.
8 January 2008
The Nippy Norman spots that I have had for a few years and fitted by GS guru Neil "Steptoe" Harrison are not very good! Nothing to do with the guru!
7 January 2008
It is primarily a bike oriented blog and I an having trouble remembering when I was last on the bike.
I have tugged it out of the garage a few times, once to give it a check over. The other simply to start the engine. Of course, it doesn't matter how cold it has been it started after a few seconds.
So what else?
1. Had a lot of December off work firstly with flu, then food poisoning and then it was Christmas!
2. I am now the official Ivan Benda sub-editor. Ivan sends his articles directly and I sort them out. Should ensure that they reach the SOC in one piece. I have some photos to scan as well.
3. We had to buy a new mattress and that saw off the money set aside for an HiD headlamp for the GS. I'll have to start again!
4. Had a shock to find that a week after getting paid that my maestro card was rejected when I came to buy my season ticket last week. "Cloned!" I thought. No. The bank has a sweeper that moves any money from the current account into the savings account. The earliest I cab ever be paid is the 24th of the month. Officially pay day is the 26th but if it falls on a Saturday or Sunday we get paid on the Friday! Great except for December when we get paid on the 19th... So it swept all my pay into the savings account. I am annoyed that First Direct sent a letter (£25 charge) to tell me I was £1150 overdrawn? I have written!! A little investigation from them and a phone call would have revealed the cause. Instead I had to worry all day that I had been cloned and lost all my money!
5. Booked tickets to see Santana in June at the O2 Arena. Still over six months away and I am wondering when tickets might arrive. Luckily I printed the booking off! See 6.
6. December 29th. Claire goes to read the email in Outlook on the Dell. It gives an error and Outlook closed. No real error to work with buy it won't restart with out allocating a new PST file. The old one had exceeded its 2GB limit and is fecked. We've lost the inbox and contacts. Not such a tragedy but in the sub-folders of the Inbox are most of the unprinted bookings and holiday arrangements for the summer to Eastern Europe. The file resisted fixing with scanpst.exe. So now the job is to hunt them all down and contact them. Easy enough except a hotel in. Split that I can't remember the name of!!
So that's catch up!
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