30 March 2012

Edward, The Black Prince

A couple of weeks ago we went to Canterbury Cathedral.

You are allowed to take photographs inside the Cathedral except in the Crypt. 

I took this one of the tomb of Edward by poking the lens through the bars and setting the exposure a little longer than I wanted.  There is little natural light and I am pleased that this one came out pretty crisp.

The wonder of digital cameras means the other half dozen could be discarded!

More Reading.

27 March 2012

Morning Coffee

I do like a coffee in the morning. Train commuting means either getting up earlier to have a cup before I leave home at 0725 or getting one two hours later in the office.

I've tried the cheaper option of a small flask but have yet to find one that doesn't leak. I have two that resemble 2.5 inch mortar shells (less fins) and both dribble on carrying them. Not great when you have things in your bag that don't need a dousing in coffee.

So I thought I'd try this as it was on offer in the supermarket.

Simply rip the lid off the thin end and press the centre of the plastic bubble. This causes the chemical reaction and the can heats up. Three minutes pop the ring at the top and hot coffee.

Taste? Not that bad. Maybe a little on the sweet side but strong enough to wake me up!

Would I buy it again. Mmmmm. Probably to carry as an alternative to coffee shop and/or nothing on a bike trip. I might get a can to put in the top box on my next longish run.

26 March 2012

Easter Eggs

Eggs bought to take to the Whitstable Easter Egg Run on Sunday.

How many will make it?

Allied Memorial Remembrance Ride - June 30th

Another date for the diary. After the success of the last ever Ride of Respect, our next "charity ride" to raise funds for charities that support out service men and women after they have been in combat, is the Allied Memorial Remembrance Ride.

We have been on this this run for the last two years and we will take a ride up there again this year.  Registration opened this weekend and I booked both my brother, Woody (not his real name but his Mild Hog name), and myself on.  It only costs a fiver and the cause is the Royal British Legion. I've advertised it widely and nothing has taken as yet but it's early days.

Although never a serviceman myself, I have relatives that have served their country in time of war and in peace.  My father, Claude, was in the Royal Navy in Malaya and Korea.  Other relatives served during WW1 & WW2.  Some didn't come home, some did and were never the same after being prisoners in the "care" of the Japanese.

We owe a debt to all these men and women that have laid down their lives for us to live in a free democracy.

23 March 2012

Swan on Royal Military Canal

This is the swan's nest that our local swan's have started to build again just down the road from where we live.

They build one every year right next to the path on the south side of the canal, and this year it is fenced by the canal rangers again to stop them being disturbed by passers by and their dogs....

The photo was taken by my wife on her walk down to look.

19 March 2012

Ride of Respect 2012

Ride of Respect 2012, a set on Flickr.
Pics I uploaded to Flickr.

Ride of Respect Photos

The organisation was so slick yesterday, that we were only on the runway at Hullavington for about 40 minutes.  As a result we didn't have much chance to mooch about to get some pix of the varied and interesting bikes that were there.

So in the end, I managed to click a few "atmosphere" pics of the bikes massed ready for the off, and some pix when we stopped just after Wootton Bassett itself.

Over the week on the official Ride Facebook page there will be lots of pictures posted and I hope that maybe I'll feature!!! 

Jasper Conran sunglasses

Jasper Conran sunglasses, originally uploaded by InvictaMoto.
The first day this year that they have got fully dark. The Nikon lenses usually react very quickly...

16 March 2012

The Victorian roof at St Pancras

Still beautiful after the renovation.

Summery Ferry Prices

About this time every year I start the trawl around the interweb to see what the ferry and shuttle fares are for the summer.

One thing is certain with the demise of Seafrance the competitors still left in the ring have upped their fares. Last year with a Suzuki Owners Club discount code (that seems to no longer work) we took the car for less than £70.  This year with the discount from the link below, it's £114. 

So it is back to the drawing board for the time being.

14 March 2012

Two simple actions you can be a part of...

MAG member Jon Strong has continued with his complaint to the European Ombudsman covering several issues that we have been fighting and now, with the support of Steven Baker MP (High Wycombe), has asked the UK Government to challenge the legitimacy of the EU Type Approval Regulation in the European Court of Justice.

Please read on to see how you can help, or jump to the end and send the letter!

Background to the case:

The first of Jon's grounds for his original complaint was the conduct of the EU Periodic Technical Inspection (PTI) survey on the basis that it was only available in English, disenfranchising the non-English speakers in the E U and that the survey itself was so poor that it wouldn't get a pass mark if submitted as an undergraduate assignment. Jon felt that the right to respond to a survey in any of the EU official languages was meaningless if the respondent couldn't read the questions! Jon is not anti-EU but he just believes that lawmakers should abide by the treaties and rules that grant them the power to make new laws. His anger is a result of what appears to be the EU Transport Directorate's seeming contempt for the treaties and a blatant disregard for the rights of EU citizens.

Other grounds for complaint have been the Type Approval Regulation proposed by the Euro Commission. Jon has challenged the proposed regulation using the Treaties of the European Union and the associated protocols. His challenge covers some of the basic articles of the proposed regulation including anti-tampering measures, anti-lock brakes, on-board diagnostics and "Automatic Headlamp On".

While researching the issues, Jon noticed a discrepancy between a statement buried deep in Annex XVIII of the Commission's Impact Assessment which said the Commission recommended trying to determine data as to the current level of 'tampering' or modifying of machines by riders, and EU Treaty rules that say laws should be 'proportional'. In other words, only apply new laws when there is a real and justified problem that requires fixing. Jon pointed out that the MAIDS 2004 study of bike accidents in Europe, pointed to vehicle condition being the primary cause of accidents in 0.7% of the study. Also a 2003 TUV report paid for by the Commission, advised that research was necessary to establish if 'tampering' was common, and if it had any impact on accidents. That research has not been done. 
Jon's complaint is that one needs to know the scale of the problem to determine the proportionality of the legislative measure needed to deal with it and that the Commission has not presented the detailed evidence required. Without the evidence the proportionality cannot be appraised and the draft legislation breaches the Treaty.

The European Ombudsman accepted that Jon had made a sufficiently strong case for the Commission to need to answer. The Ombudsman gave the Commission until the end of September 2011 to respond. Two weeks before the deadline the Commission asked for more time and committed to respond by 31st October. The Commission missed the deadline and didn't respond until end of November, when they presented a short letter containing banal generalities as to how they had followed their own Guidelines for Impact Assessments and had done the necessary work.

Jon was given until the 31st January this year to reply to the Commission's response. Apart from being incensed by the Commissions lack of answer to his detail challenges, he decided to put his strategy skills to use and follow the document trail the Commission had set out and can demonstrate that the Commission has not followed their own Guidelines as stated to the European Ombudsman. Jon has responded.

What you can do:

Please be a part of the battle by contacting the Ombudsman here and ask for details of Case reference 0875/2011/JF.

Just enter the ref in the subject box and ask for details of the case in the box below. We don't advise you print off the reply as it runs to many pages, a substantial number of which are blank where the Commission is missing required evidence and data for financial planning of their programmes. To date over 2000 people have requested access to the case materials. The Ombudsman's office had to change their process and set up a special download site to contain their costs. The case has generated more requests than any other the European Ombudsman has had and if they find in Jon's favour, it will amount to gross maladministration by the EU Commission.

The other thing that you can do in light of Steve Baker's recent request to the UK Gov, is to write to Justine Greening the Secretary of State for Transport   greeningj@parliament.uk   and say something like this:

Dear Secretary of State,

The European Ombudsman (case number 0875/2011/JF) has found that the EU Commission has a case to answer for maladministration and issues of proportionality, as defined by the Treaty of the European Union (Article 5 para 4), regarding its proposed Regulation COM(2010)542 final.

Issues within the Regulation raising concern in regards of proportionality include Anti-tampering, mandatory Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS) and Automatic Headlights On (AHO).

The Regulation is currently timetabled to go before Plenary session on 19th April 2012 without evidence to support some of the proposals contained within. I fear that the case before the Ombudsman will not be resolved prior to that Parliamentary vote.

I am therefore writing to ask that you call on the European Commission to drop those articles relevant to the Ombudsman's investigation, especially article 18 of its proposed regulation, until these issues can be resolved.

I further ask that you support the call from Steven Baker MP (High Wycombe) demanding the European Court of Justice makes a ruling on this fundamental breach of the Treaty of the European Union.

Yours sincerely,

Ride to Work Day?

With the weekend approaching and the Ride of Respect I need to get some miles under my belt. Since the MoT last weekend I have managed about 25 miles. The RoR is about 175 miles each way from home.

Usually by this time I have been on the road for a few weeks and fully tuned in.  So, as my train ticket ran out tonight I think I need a couple of days on the bike, especially as the weather in supposed to be good for the next few days.

For the RoR itself, the weather is not forecast to be that good. 

Your iPad order from Tesco Direct

Took them long enough!!

Dear Mr Devall,

Thank you for your recent Tesco Direct order for an IPAD WI-FI 4G 64GB.

Unfortunately, there was an error in the price at the time that you placed your order, and as a result we have had to cancel your order. Please note any other additional items in your order will also have been cancelled.

No payment has been taken for this order.

Please refer to our Tesco Direct Terms and Conditions for further details of our order acceptance policy. If you would like to re-order the IPAD, on the official launch date on Friday 16th March it will be available on our website at the correct price £659.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Kind regards,

Wrongly priced? "No shit Sherlock"!!!!

13 March 2012

Too good to be true?

I bet we've all done it? What you may ask?

You know, you see the news report of the ATM that keeps regurgitating cash until the banks turns it off or it runs out of money, or the truck that crashes and everyone gets a free pizza or tv, and you gnash your teeth. 

"It never happens to me!"

1 x iPad Wi-fi 4G 64GB Black
Catalogue No: 213-2623
Our Ref (TPNB):  71567315
£49.99 (1 @ 49.99 each)

What if some dashed into your office with the above deal.

Obviously a mistake, as that sucker is more like £649.99, but you'd order one or more right? After all "it's your turn".

Well, it was and I did. Not greedy, just the one.

But what are the chances of them delivering it? None or sweet Fanny Adams?

It's not easy being an Arsenal supporter!

Although better off than the lower leagues it is a rollercoaster being a Gooner. The last four games we have given the opposition a head start and come back to win. Tonight was no exception.

Sloppy defending mainly by Gibbs and the Geordies had a man free to score. Against the run of play. We equalised immediately and then we dominated. God only knows how many chances were squandered to keep us on the edge of our seats....

At every opportunity Krul (sounds like an SF title!!) wasted time over kicks. To prove it doesn't always work in the perps favour, the fourth official held up the 5 minute board. The Arsenal piled on the pressure and in the 95th minute Thomas "The Verminator" Vermaelen forced the ball under the cheating Krul. Game over.

7 March 2012

It lives....

... but not for long.
The battery is so flat that before I connected the car via the jump leads the neutral light was barely alight.

With the car running, there wasn't enough kick to get it to start but once Claire had her foot on the accelerator it started second of third go on the starter.

I don't like to let it bang over too long with each press on the button.

I left it to run for ten minutes of so and then gave up. Hopefully, this will mean it will start easier on Saturday morning so I can get it to Alford Brothers for the MoT and more importantly, have the new battery installed.

6 March 2012

Less than 3 weeks to be a part of Westminster Consultation

As you've been busy writing letters recently, here's an opportunity for one more.

However, this one is time critical.

Westminster City Council (WCC) first opened 7 of its bus lanes to motorcycles back in September 2005 in an experiment to assess the safety of the idea regarding all road users.

In 2007 the scheme was made permanent after the trials proved positive and now, only 5 years later, they are extending the idea.

This time, as I mentioned in the mailout last week, they are beginning trials on 8 more bus lanes, but this time they are focussing on the part we know bikes can play in congestion reduction, improved traffic flow, urban air quality as well as safety.

Following their long term trial, TfL (Transport for London) statistics showed that traffic flow can be improved by allowing motorbikes into bus lanes so WCC is now looking to extend its own project further across all roads in the city.

Westminster CC say "The intent of the Order is to secure the expeditious, convenient and safe movement of traffic including powered two wheeler riders and pedestrians." Quite. They also acknowledge the TfL study that demonstrated dramatically reduced emissions and that bus activity, including at bus stops, is not affected at all. With an increase of 11% recently in PTW traffic in London, we know that people can be encouraged to leave cars at home.
Of course we already know this, and appreciate the part that bikes can play in all transport policy, but we now need to assure Westminster that they are doing a good thing!

There isn't a formal consultation document as such, so what you need to do to comment on the proposals, is please write to John Birch, West One, 10th Floor, Westminster City Hall,64 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6QP or email tmo@westonejv.co.uk by 26th March 2012.

At this stage it would be good to offer support, to say how good it is that Westminster City Council acknowledges the part motorcycles can play in reducing congestion and how towns and cities all over the country are adopting the same policy after trials prove positive for safety and traffic flow.

You will no doubt be aware that WCC policy toward motorcycle parking is not as enlightened, but this letter is not the place to point that out. Our concern is that the London Cycle Lobby will be launching a campaign of negative opinion, so at this point, and on this issue, it really is a numbers game as we need to swamp them with positive public opinion. If they adopt this scheme permanently, it will be even harder for them to justify the parking charges.

If you remember, could you please Bcc leon.mannings@mag-uk.org MAG's Transport Consultant, so that he can keep some account of the numbers of letters arriving at the Council. This will help in his next WCC meeting in a fortnight's time. Thankyou.

Finally, because so many of you are asking about the insurance company that won't honour my claim for the theft of my bike last week, I'd just like to say that at this point, I can't name them, as negotiations are ongoing. The underwriters who pay out are not the brokers though who sell cover in the first place. I feel there will be a time and then I'd be delighted if you all put pen to paper or used facebook, but just at the minute I can't. Thank you all for the condolence though and continued offers of support.
--  Paddy Tyson Campaigns Coordinator Motorcycle Action Group www.mag-uk.org 01926 844064

3 March 2012

Start mileage for the BMW Club Mileage Trophy


Paperwork and wristbands arrived for the third and final Ride of Respect today.

Despite some people agitating and trying to make out that there is some wrong doing on the part of the RoR Organisers in the past, the Royal British Legion stepped in to handle the bookings and send out the wristbands.

Would they have done this had there been any hint of a scandal or whatever the haters have claimed?

1 March 2012

Westminster to open City bus lanes

After much lobbying and in light of the recent Transport for London decision to permanently open red route bus lanes to motorbikes, Westminster City Council have today announced that they shall follow suit.

Councillor Lee Rowley said: "Our long term objective is to solve the congestion problems in London by creating a safe, clean and vibrant environment in which all road users can benefit from Westminster's streets.

"With the use of scooters rising by over 11% in 2011, it is important that the council takes action to help two-wheeled road users get around the capital safely."

MAG have been working very closely with Westminster Council for months on this issue and it is the realisation that motorcycles can play a significant part in traffic congestion reduction and in the reduction of emissions that swayed the balance.

Since the mid 1990's MAG has been working with Councils around the country to achieve access to bus lanes for safety, environmental and convenience reasons. Councils as diverse as Bristol, Bedford and Swindon have seen the sense and approved the idea.

Bikes do not cause congestion and it is terrific that a flagship council such as Westminster is prepared to begin consultation on 6th March for 3 weeks having acknowledged the safety and environmental arguments. Much credit must go to MAG's Dr Leon Mannings for his work on this.

Thanks to all of you who passed on commiserations for the loss of my bike. My insurance company have confirmed that they shall not be honouring my policy, as the bike was chained up outside my house and was not in my garage that has been broken in to twice in the last 6 months.

I shall be taking issue with their decision.

Ride free, if you've still got a bike!

Paddy Tyson
Campaigns Coordinator
Motorcycle Action Group
01926 844064

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