22 August 2013

Canon EOS 1100D

Sadly, the 300D went off to the repairers and after some investigations they were unable to repair it. Although a small spring on the shutter had gone it's a part that can no longer be found.

I thought about buying another 300D for spares and then having it cannibalised, but even on eBay the prices were pretty ridiculous.

In the end I started to look for a replacement. Okay, I am not David Bailey so spending an arm and a leg is not really worth it, so a budget, but new Canon was the order of the day.  I chose an EOS 1100D.

Why another Canon?  Apparently, you are either a Canon or a Nikon man, and I am obviously a Canon man. I also have a Tamron AF70-300mm zoom with a Canon mount that I need to use!

Although it is a budget DSLR, it is 12 megapixels and comes equipped with with a kit 18-55mm lens. I took it on the Ashes Tour and on the dry days I took it out and it looks to take some excellent photos. I didn't want it to get wet!!

On wet days I used the little Sony Cybershot!

19 August 2013

Onboard Computer

I had a scroll through the onboard computer to see what other stuff it records. I had zeroed Trip 2 at the start of the Ashes Tour and the following are pix of the screens. sadly, it was a little dark in the garage and the camera prone to shake!!

MPG on Trip 2 for entire trip

Average MPH on Trip 2 for entire trip

MPG on Trip 1 for the last fill-up.
Lots of other stats are calculated, like miles to refill and the current mpg.  The latter only works when the bike is running!

The mpg for each fill-up on Trip 1 are always different to the calculation done on the iPhone app.

18 August 2013

Scotland Trip

The trip to Scotland has been the subject of a couple of other blogs. The one I shared with my brother, "The Ashes Tour", and of course my own "On the Road Again".
Dora  covered 1370 miles over the five day. I know this as I set "Trip 2" to zero before I set off from home and had a flick through the onboard computer when I got home.
Fuel consumption was always over 50mpg and hit an amazing high of

Last Scotland

The first part of this route (as taken off the TomTom and viewed in Tyre) is the A86. Superbly surfaced with grippy overlay on the bend. In the dry it must be superb. In the on-off wet it was still pretty good.

It is clear from this view that the loop top the east to get to Balmaha was a lot longer than the west back of Loch Lomond route.

Scotland 4

Once again we were up early and down for breakfast for 8am when the restaurant opened. This time it was a serve yourself buffet and I guess had we wanted to, we could have gone mad. In the end a couple of pieces of toast and some bacon and eggs sufficed. Did I mention the third and final haggis of the trip?

The odometer showed 1800 miles before the start and so I took Dora's pic!

As we had a relatively short run down to Manchester again and so we thought about a side trip to see a little of the country.  After the planned fuel stop near Lockerbie, we set Gretna Green as the next port of call.

I thought it would be about the right time for a coffee break and something of a tourist trap.   And we were right.  I had imagined it to be a town, but it seemed more like a complex built around the Blacksmith's Forge where people eloped to get married.

There was a wedding party there, but we didn't stop to look. As was par for the course the weather was intermittent rain and a little dry.

No Scottish tourist site would be complete without a piper.

After coffee and then we were off, this time via Windermere.  We should have stopped in Ambleside as Windermere itself seemed to have nothing going for it.  Loads of traffic and holidaymakers.  Terrible.

We then headed across to the M6 and the remainder of the journey to Auntie's house.  On arrival we met favourite cousin equal number one, Caroline, and then she was off home.

Another day had ended. Just one more left.

17 August 2013

MAG - New Driving Offences

MAG welcomes the introduction of fixed penalties for those who hog the middle lanes of motorways and use mobile phones while driving.

While MAG is not generally in the business of encouraging legislation, the organisation does recognise the good sense of dealing with the issues that have been singled out for treatment.

Middle lane hogs and those who use mobile phones on the move are a menace on our roads and particularly threaten the safety of anyone on two wheels.

While police were already empowered to deal with these issues, the amendment to place them in the fixed penalty category brings a fresh focus to them that will probably be helpful.

16 August 2013

Scotland 3

Part Three.

The hotel for the night was at Balmaha on the south-eastern shore of Loch Lomond.

The journey from Spean Bridge took us a lot longer than expected as we caught on the back of a tin box queue stacked up behind a red van that was unable to exceed 30mph. The 8 miles seemed interminable!

We broke cover and went into the petrol station as we entered Fort William. 

The rain that started at at Spean continued to lash down ad we set off southwards through the city heading for Glencoe. The first part of the trip is alongside Loch Linnhe. A pretty nice 8 miles!

Then across the bridge across the neck of Loch Leven and into Glencoe.

This is one of the most scenic places in the UK. In the dry and sunny it would be perfect, but even in the wet it is still fantastic. At least the rain managed to fuel the waterfalls.

We had intended to stop for a coffee at the tea bar at the southern end but it was closed.

In the end we continued to Crianlarich  on the A82. I've stopped here before and the railway station buffet is something of a  "must visit", except it was closed.

So we headed back to the A82/A85 junction and The Crianlarich Hotel. They didn't bat an eyelid when we walked in wearing our over trousers. Wet over trousers.

From there we took a roundabout route to Loch Lomond. Crianlarich is merely 6 miles from the top of the loch but we chose a (longer) scenic route to the east to go south.

The western route would have been a little shorter but less scenic.

The A85/A84 route took us to Loch Venachar and into the Trossachs through the crazily named of Brig O'Turk and southwards towards Glasgow and then to Balmaha.

The Oak Tree Hotel is right alongside the loch and a marina.

We had a room at the back. The bikes parked out back in the mostly gravel car-park on a small bit of hard standing.

Once cleaned up we went for a walk and then to the bar to try a few local pints. We tried three different ones in the evening.

Dinner turned out a little strange. Slimming World was already out of the window despite the previous evenings chicken salad.

We'd not had any haggis so far and this was about to end. The starter was the strangest thing, haggis pakora. A ball of spicy batter encasing a centre of haggis!!

For main, I was going to have another salad but in the end had the Clansman Burger. A half pound burger, topped with haggis in a large bun and topped with a cherry tomato and an onion ring. Lovely.

Adjoining us was a huge table with a large family group. Noisy. The women playing cards and the blokes talking loudly. Irritating.

When the Dad sent one of the lads to look for a table in the bar my ears pricked up. In the noise  I heard the yoof say there were tables. "We're off" I say and set off for the bar. There is a table. A nice big one with five chairs. We sat.

Minutes later Dad arrives with entourage. Oh dear. How sad.

By about 10pm the bar started to empty as the walkers started to head off to their hostels and hotels. We joined them. A marginally later start as Day 4 would be shorter on the road.

New boots - TCX Explorer

This is what my new boots look like after a week since I took them from the box.

In fact. The first small hole appeared after about 250 miles.

I've reported it to the shop and am now waiting for the offer to send them back.

But. Won't another pair do exactly the same.


14 August 2013


Not bad at all for a 1200 triple!

Mostly motorway trip down from Manchester on the M6 to another fill up at Cherwell Valley on the M40.

Cruise control where possible and keeping to what TomTom said was 70 mph.

12 August 2013

Scotland 2

And so day 3 began.

When we got up for breakfast the weather looked bright and the sky was blue. By the time breakfast was finished it looked dodgy but dry and we knew rain was going to feature somehow.

It did. The Perth petrol stop showed Döra was keeping above 50mpg despite the higher speeds although these were tempered with some country lanes across the country. The figure was 53.78 mpg.

As we slogged up the A9 towards Aviemore it looked darker and then sunny but in the roadworks before Dalwhinnie we were in waterproofs and that was pretty much it for the day.

We arrived at Loch an Eilean slightly differently by TomTom to the mapped idea!

We told the steward what we had come to do and he was most helpful.

But first a chance to spot one of the rare red squirrels. Until relatively recently our only squirrel until some fool brought grey squirrels from Canada and let them loose. Now the red is found in a few pockets in England and of course in Scotland.

And after a short ceremony, Mum is in her final resting place where her spirit can see the castle and join the Shaw clan ancestors.

Loch an Eilean Castle
Once we were done we set of on another TomTom route on another slightly different route westwards to Kingussie and the marvellous A86 all the way to Spean Bridge where it meets the A82 to Fort William.

After a coffee stop at the Wild Flower in Newtonmore we set off. The A86 is about 35 miles of the most perfectly surfaced road imaginable. Smooth and on the corners they have thoughtfully laid a non slip surface. The road passes several lochs; Laggan and Moy.

In fact it was an anticlimax to arrive at Spean Bridge with traffic jams! We turned right to go up the A82 to see the Commando Monument.

Commando Monument - Spean
I went there as a bit of a tribute to Claire's Dad, Victor Stevenson, who will be 90 this year and one of those trained here and who went on to serve in the Commandos on Burma.

From there it was all southwards in some pretty miserable weather to the hotel at Balmaha on Loch Lomond.

11 August 2013

Scotland 1

Day 1 of the Ashes Tour was the run from Kent to Manchester.

Not too bad but in places pretty unexplainable traffic stops whist still on a three lane motorway. Pressure of traffic?

Day 2 saw us set off for real visiting places from Mum's past, where she lived as a child and where we lived as a small family, and the football club that dad and me used to go to most weeks.

Oldham Athletic

Oldham Athletic
The route north took us by Hollingworth Lake where we used to go on the bus to have a day out. Things were more simple in those days!!

Then to places I've never been, like the Ribblehead Viaduct. A piece if Victorian engineering to cross a long wide valley.

Ribblehead Viaduct

Ribblehead Viaduct
Then across some lovely roads through  the north of England stopping at piece of Hadrian's Wall and then the border at Carter Bar.

Dora at Carter Bar

Carter Bar
The Beig Inn hotel in Glenfarg is really nice. Quirky design but good and judging by the full car park at night and empty this morning. A popular eating place.

First beer of the night

Chicken Salad!
And so Day 3 beckons....

Bikes outside the Beig Inn

10 August 2013

Oldham Athletic FC

On The Ashes Tour we stopped off at one of the places from my early years of living in Chadderton in Lancashire. The trip was to take our Mum's ashes to their final resting place and on the way we visited a few places from her life and also from ours.

My Dad used to work for Latics as the "pools promoter". Back in the days before lotteries and scratch cards, people had to make do with more cerebral pleasures like trying to guess from 49 football (soccer to my US friends) games each weekend which would end up in a draw (okay for you a tie). On the coupon you marked 10 games with a cross and if you managed 8 or more you could win. Some people won fortunes. Okay by today's standard it wasn't much, but by 1960 standards it was more than you could ever imagine. 

Instead of scratch cards, they had tickets with the time in them. If a goal was scored that matched your ticket you would win a small prize.

My Dad managed those fund raising activities  in his spare time when not working as an auditor for Platts (a now defunct mill equipment manufacturer), and also occasionally at the Alexandra Ballroom in Oldham where they had bingo and he used to do shifts there.

When we arrived, we took a few pics out front.

After a tour around the shop looking for something as simple as a small sticker for my pannier, and being unsuccessful, we saw they had left the gate open at the side and so we were able to sneak in and take some pix.

This stand, above, used to be open terrace when I was a kid and I stood behind the goal with my Aunt Linda and across the road my Mum worked in the maternity unit of Boundary Park Hospital. Now called the Royal Oldham!

The building site on the far side replaces a stand built in the 1970's which in turn replaced the old wooden stand where my dad used to sit with his cronies from the Supporters Club, whilst Linda and I roughed it behind the goal, to the right of the shot.

Sadly, we weren't on a football trip. Had we been, Latics were home later that day where they managed to lose 1-0 to Walsall in their Sky Bet League One game, and we could have stayed.

8 August 2013

Hard at work

Sometimes working with computers can be frustrating.

But sometimes you have to grin and bear it.

Movember 2013


The new website will launch in mid/late September and the current site will go. This means that everyone will start afresh with a clean slate and their totals back to zero. So for those who want to take part again they can reactivate their accounts (ie the system will remember your details) and anyone taking part for the first time – they will be able to register at movember.com

See you in Movember :-{ 


7 August 2013

Together we're making history

Movember's meeting of the minds

Global Action Plan
Movember's Global Action Plan: Biomarkers
As a global organisation, Movember has a unique perspective into the cancer research world. We often found that prostate cancer researchers worked in silos, on similar projects, unaware of or unable to work with researchers in other countries. This has had the effect of slowing down scientific advancement that would benefit men with prostate cancer.

Movember took action to change this, to close the gap that existed between researchers and accelerate breakthroughs by launching the Global Action Plan (GAP). GAP brings researchers from across the globe to work together and collaborate on specific projects.

One of the most significant issues with prostate cancer is our inability to test a man and determine if he has an aggressive or a low-risk  type of prostate cancer. To provide personalised and more effective treatments to stop the progression of the disease we need to address this problem. To tackle this urgent issue, we have assembled a team of 150 expert researchers from across 15 countries. This team of researchers is now working together to examine biomarkers - from blood, urine and tissue, with the aim of developing better tests to measure the severity of the disease within individual patients.

Thank you for joining us on this journey - by working differently and collaborating on a global scale we are accelerating outcomes for men and their families.

Together, we are changing the face of research.

Our man in Wales
Our Man in Wales
Dr Aled Clayton is using Movember funds to take research to the next level. Here he answers some questions to explain how he is collaborating in the Global Action Plan project from his base in Cardiff.

Changing the face of men's health
Prostate cancer | Testicular cancer | Mental health
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