31 May 2009

Macro photography


Since moving down from a compact camera that looks like a "proper" camera to a compact that doesn't even have a proper viewfinder, I have been amazed at how good the pix are.



I was however really surprised and amazed when I saw this pic of a bumble bee that I took at Sissinghurst today. I knew they were hairy but didn't know they had muscled wings!!

29 May 2009

'Twas a sunny day....

After a damp squib of a week it was nice to get up this morning to see the sun blazing in through the curtains.

A relaxed ride in even. It was the last day of half-term and so most people had decided to take the day off and so the run right upto the Blackwall Tunnel before the clag started.

Since the bus lanes were opened it has opened a few more miles of tarmac that we don't have to share with four wheelers. Catch up with a bus and try to get out and round it and then things can get more complex if you encounter some midget at the wheel of a 38-tonner. A guy on a CBF in front had a slanging match with a Scottish dwarf ranting at him from the safety of his cab. Quite exciting viewing though. Amazing though how many tough guys need 38 tons to feel like a man.

The ride home even better. Away from work at 4.15pm and down to Holborn to Infinity to see about getting my C2 fixed at long last. Although I have never managed to get it working with my Cardo setup, I want to be able to use it and get my money's worth. Even if I have to revert to a wired solution to get the Quest's instructions.

They were very helpful and so I need to take it in on Monday and see how long and how much it will be. The ride back via Aldwych and Bank and then back to Blackwall and beyond was easy enough and mostly relaxed back to the M25 and M20.

More defensive riding...


As you get older do you really ride more defensively because you want to, or do you compensate for failing mental functions?


I've found that even though I lane split I do it more slowly and give in and let others past. I do get a bit annoyed by the human cannonball arseholes that can't wait and swerve round you.

Why human cannonball? Without exception they wear helmets that look like they saw Dan Walsh from BiKE Magazine and copied the look without the riding and writing ability.

Maybe it is age, but I let them get on with it and hope to get home in one piece.

27 May 2009

Kent @ Assen

A month to go until some of us from the Kent Centre of the Suzuki Owners Club go across to Assen for the Dutch TT, or MotoGP as they call it now. Our group 5 on 4 bikes will include my GS, my brother Neill's GSXR1000, James and his 1250 Bandit and another Neil (with one L) and his wife on an XJR1300. We'll be joined by Brian on another 1250 Bandit at the hotel.

Everything is booked and we have put a note on the Suzuki Owners Club's new forum to see if anyone else is going; maybe meet up for a beer in the evening? No contact as yet!

The outward journey is mainly on motorway from Calais. We're on the 0925 P&O boat so allowing for 90 minutes to cross the channel and the hour time difference it will be gone noon when we emerge into the French sunshine. The sat-navs give the quickest route through Belgium as the motorway to Ostend and then down to Gent and up to Antwerp again, but I have always favoured an N9/N49 route that goes across from Brugge to Antwerp more directly.

The outward route is shown here on Everytrail.

On Sunday after the racing is over, the TT is on Saturday, I've planned a longer run back. It's to take in the Afsluitdijk, the man made dyke the separates the North Sea and the Ijsselmeer. If we leave after breakfast we have all day to meander back to the ferry. So we have time to take in a few sights on the way!

I haven't added the return route to Everytrail yet but will when I can get it off the other laptop!!

Was a sunny day...


Sunday was anyway.


I had a ride up to London for the last Premier League game of the season. I was late setting off and had to stop for petrol.

So I could dump my gear in the bike I had the Zegas fitted; who wants to sit in full gear including a Frank Thomas textile jacket and boots in 80 degree heat. Not me.

At STOP 24 I filled up and the place was humming with bikes, a nice looking and heavily laden 1200GS with rider in blue and grey "twat suit" was there as well. I nodded and got ignored. Maybe an 1150 is too last decade for them!

Cruising up the M20 at a steady 70 (cough!) was okay, not a lot of traffic until the A2 when I noticed signs saying the Blackwall Tunnel was closed. Nice of them to have waited until Falconwood. "Use alternative crossing" it said on the sign. No diversion set up, nothing. Had they put this on the M25, then I could have gone over Dartford and in a different way, instead was stuck with the A2 across Blackheath and Old/New Kent Road. Clever.

Time was ebbing away and a bit of filtering through the twit class that have made Shoreditch an up and coming area and was in Highbury just coming up to 3pm. I'd said I'd see my brother about then by the gate.

All the single yellow lines where I have parked before were now double "at any time" yellow lines and traffic wardens in attendance to ticket any mug parking in the empty resident's permit places. I opted to pay a fiver to the church at St Joan of Arc. At least it is off road and less liable to be nicked; stolen or ticketed!

In the end it was a good game, neither Arsenal or Stoke City had much to play for and the Gunners ran out 4-1 winners.

The ride home was quite simple as well. Blackwall Tunnel now open southbound but queues miles back so I went A13 to Dartford instead. This bit of road has loads of speed cameras and everyone flows along at 50 to 60, slowing to 40 for the camera, and when past the zig-zags everyone speeds up again!

The only problem was after joining the M20 from the M2 via Bluebell Hill I came across three "hot hatches" across the roadway between the A249 and the Maidstone services. All members of some car club shouting across to each other at 60mph. The blue Corsa VXR, or whatever it was, sat resolutley in the outside lane with me behnd him, then slowed and then put his foot down. I let him pull away to about 70 (!) and then he pulled across into the middle. I accelerated past him looked down at the yoof af the wheel, CB handset in his hand... phones are illegal but not CB's? He then latched onto my arse. Any closer and he could have.. well you get the picture...

I expanded the speed envelope a little and he dropped back, and I never saw him or the others until I slowed for a police car near Ashford when he flew past at about 90mph, diving off when he spotted the Volvo ahead.

I filled the tank at Tesco at Ashford J10 and then has a relaxed run down the A20 to get home.

18 May 2009

Refreshing ride to work!


After a week in Italy and the experience of driving narrow country and coastal roads with suicidal overtaking manoeuvres and the solid white line down the centre line meaning nothing, it was quite relaxing to ride into work today.

In contrast with the Italian drivers, our great British commuters were the epitome of calm and manners. I suppose it is what you get used to.

In Italy, considering the standard of driving, we saw no accidents where life or limb were at stake. Practically every other car on the road had a variety of bumps and scrapes on the body work. Some were vying for a record of having the most body panels dented or battered or simply scraped.

The rental Punto we had came with the extremes of the front bumper (fenders?) scraped and the wheel trims scuffed on all four wheels. I added to these scuffs with both front wheels when forced to make a few avoidance manoeuvres when faced with a car coming the other way, sharing my side of the road.

Brakes on the Punto were surprisingly good with excellent grip from the tyres. Tested several times to the max on a drive along the Amalfi Coastal Drive, usually when faced with a scooter or small motorcycle head-on around a blind bend. I congratulate myself and the riders belief in their God that there was no contact, and that I only had to stop dead twice that Sunday.

So it was comforting to ride in today with 99.99999999% of drivers being able to keep in the lanes that they paint on the roads. The same sort of percentage also managed not to overtake across the solid centre line, opposed to their Italian counterpart that sees the white line as a guidance tool that they are somewhere near the centre of the road!

But where would I rather be today? London or Sorrento?

15 May 2009

Me and 'Er at Positano


Positano, originally uploaded by Devaldinho.

On the way back up the hill to the car-park. Remarkably looking in good nick despite blisters on feet and tired joints.

Cinquecento!

Until we were in Italy earlier in the month I had no idea that there are so many FIAT 500 "Cinquecento" cars still in daily use.

They were built in the same sort of period as the Mini in the UK and to be honest you hardly see any of them on he road unless there's some Mini festival.

I took a photos of ones I saw but in the end there were so many!


FIAT Cinquecento Originale, originally uploaded by Invicta Moto.



Positano Cinquecento, originally uploaded by Invicta Moto.



Positano Cinquecento, originally uploaded by Invicta Moto.

14 May 2009

Vesuvius



Smoke from a pile of rocks not far from the top of the crater. Hardly visible so on the original picture on Flickr I had to put a note to show where the smoke is!

13 May 2009

Casale Antonietta


Our room, originally uploaded by Invicta Moto.

This is where we stayed when in Sorrento earlier in the month.

The hotel is an agrotourism hotel in the hills above the city. A little more than a walk away, but and easy bus ride from just down the hill.

We had a great time there and although not a motorcycling holiday it was a good area with so much to see.

Trip Advisor reviews

www.casaleanonietta.com


12 May 2009

Campania +3


Weather excellent. A bit too hot at some times. Can't imagine what it will be like later in the height of summer. Driving standards are suicidal, both cars and bikes cut every corner. But views are spectacular. This one of Capri.

8 May 2009

Campania -1

Final packing underway. As usual the one suitcase is looking already overfilled! At Easyjet’s prices it pays to get it all in the one. Okay, so I’m cheap and think that £16 per case is an insult after you have paid for the seat.

I have the satnav setup and have stripped the power leads out of the car and ready to take with me. So what is airport’s security’s view of satnavs in their sunglasses case and a heap of wiring? On that subject.

Modern life means we have gadgets and gadgets need power. To get the power we have power leads. So after the phone charger, there’s the power lead for the camera batteries (different ones so different charger doobries), then the lead for the satnav to connect it to the PC, oh yes, the PC is going to… free WiFi in the hotel….. We hope.

What else, have I mentioned the phone charger, oh yes. Spare SD and CF cards for the cameras, the cameras of course, plus spare batteries. Then there’s the iPod and speakers, plus power lead. It never stops.

And all this has to be sorted so we can get up at 5am and be on the road almost immediately to get to Gatwick to sit about for a few hours before the flight.

6 May 2009

Bus Lanes


It seemed like a great leap forward. Years of pressuring local government to allow motorcycles to use the lanes, then Boris the London Mayor said as part of it campaign that he'd do it.

And then from January the bus lanes were opened in London to motorcyclists. Not all bus lanes though. Make sure you check the sign as the lanes that are open are on "Red Routes" only.

So the reality. For me at least it has taken the some of the attention away from looking for the coppers that might see you illegally riding in the lane. That said, it seems that there are more loonies in the bus lanes, not just the bikers, but it seems pedestrians and cyclists are magnetised to the red tarmac.

To get to where you hope to be in the future means spending more time on the look out for the car (9/10's of the time) that will poke its nose out on the left, and of course, the curse of everyone, the wanker turning right across your path.

Safer? I can't say, but in the last two days I have had more near misses with myopic pedestrians who fail to see the big light I am shining at them and who fail to hear me coming than ever before.

Is my commute more relaxed now I don't have to fight for road space with cars? is it ****!

Maybe loud pipes do save lives after all?