28 February 2014


I like to keep the blogs separate and as such have far too many on the go at once.

Occasionally there will be a crossover. I have a blog I share with Claire about our trips to Spain.

We have been going once a year for quite a few years. I am always envious of the riders out there enjoying the Mediterranean climate. They are dressed for summer almost all year round. No waterproofs!!!!

A few years ago I was there when I took my ex-partners bike to her in Murcia. In Northern Europe it was cold and wet in February.

In the Huerta of Murcia it was dry. The locals were dressed in thick coats but the foreigners were in t-shirts!   I parked up at the University waiting for her to finish her class. Teaching not a student. The givi box open. 

"What is that?" says scooter guy next to me. He was dressed in a suit and normal shoes. Only a suede helmet like horse riders on his head to show any biker action! 

"Waterproof trousers" I say. He laughs. "You won't need those until November" he said and rode off.

Anyway I digress.

The Spain blog is called "España por favor!" at http://our-spain.blogspot.co.uk

Drop in sometime. 

Oh. The crossover? Döra is going to be starring there this year.

24 February 2014

Claire's Birthday Trip

We were up early so we could call in at the post office to collect some packages for Claire that we missed on Saturday.

With the cruise dialled in at 70mph we ran down to Dover for the ferry. Some 90 minutes after setting out of Dover the P&O ferry was docking in Calais.

It took a long time to disembark and that was maybe when it started to go wrong. Although I had set the TomTom for the square in Saint-Omer a look at the map on my phone showed a quicker route that meant staying on the A26 a little longer. A misjudgement saw us go to the wrong junction!

We were miles away when our reservation at the restaurant was imminent. Claire emailed them to say we were not going to make it as we didn't have the phone number.

The TomTom showed that we were 30 minutes away from the destination. We pulled off into a Routier, usually good food a decent prices. 

This one was terrible. The smoking ban seemed to have not reached their ears so we had a coffee and left.
It was gone 1.45pm when we finally parked in Place Foch. Parking seems to be free during lunch and then they give you a free 20 mins. A free period to nip in and do stuff without paying through the nose. Add €2 to the machine and that gives plenty of time for lunch.

We chose La Terrasse on the square itself. Both if us opted for the menu of the day.

Claire had the prosciutto for a starter and cod for mains, and although I had the cod as well, I had the anchovy bruschetta for starters. We both had the excellent chocolate mousse for dessert.

By the time we had finished, the chef had left on his Moto Guzzi, and most of the staff had gone home. Just us left!

To walk it off a bit and had a walk around town and a look in the shops before heading off back to Calais.
At the hypermarket on the edge of town, diesel is much cheaper than at home, €1.309 a litre, compared to £1.369 a litre. The exchange rate is about €1.18 to £1. I squeezed in €80!

We had a relaxed drive up the old N43 to Calais, stopping in the Blériot cafe in the Auchun in Coquelles.  There's a pet shop there and we were both a little surprised to see they had puppies! In England that is definitely a no-no.

There were also loads of other pets in there including lizards etched.

Then it was back to the port.  We went straight through passport control and the ticket office and straight onto the boat.

The crossing was very smooth and as the boat was pretty empty we were off quite quickly and home pretty promptly.

Sadly there are few photos as my Canon went there with me but never left its case!!! 

23 February 2014

At the Arsenal

The fourth game in a row for me. Testing the panoramic viewer on my camera phone and then the selfie camera.

Wearing the 70's replica shirt i got for Christmas. A win for the Arsenal at the Emirates against a very weak Sunderland side, 4-1.

17 February 2014

MAG News - Brian Hampton Appeal

You may have heard about the death of Jade Clark, a 16-year-old who was killed when she was hit by Brian Hampton, on the A31 while on her moped travelling to work in February 2013. Banned for drink-driving at the time, Hampton not only didn't stop, but he then attempted to cover up his involvement by having his car repaired and lying to his family. He was sentenced to six years in prison – two for causing Jade's death by careless driving and four years for perverting the course of justice.

He has now decided to appeal his sentence because he thinks it too severe. MAG thinks he should be locked up and the key thrown away.

This petition was created by Robert Parker when he heard the news. So far it has just over a thousand signatures which is not enough. It needs 10,000 to get noticed; and 100,000 to get to the point where it can't be ignored.

I would like to see it get that 100,000 signatures. Every signature counts.

Thanks for reading.

John Mitchell

National Chairman/
South East Region Representative
Motorcycle Action Group

9 February 2014

Fred Hill Memorial Run - February 9th

I was up bright and early for the run. Partly because it had been raining hard and the wind had been trying to blow the roof off the house for most of the night. Plus I was lucky enough to find a dead weight of the Hilly, the cat, sitting on my chest.

I decided that although it had stopped raining and it wasn't forecasted for the day, that I would wear Kevlar jeans and Held waterproofs. The Held's also keep the wind off.

The ride up the M20, M25 and then the A2 to the Blackwall Tunnel was easier than a working day, 50 minutes from home to the tunnel.  I decided to go as thought to work, but then from Old Street take the Ring Road around to the A40M to Hanger Lane and take a right onto the North Circular.

It was just after 1030 as I pulled into the famous Ace Cafe London car-park.  As you can see from the first pic there weren't that many bikes.... those that were seemed, by noon, to be on the run.

I had been there in the early 80's when it was still a tyre depot!!

A bacon sandwich and a coffee later, and John Mitchell, MAG Chairman, had arrived and the cafe started to fill. Not just bikers but "normals" along for a good breakfast.

The run along the North Circular,  A5 and then back on the A41. It was heavy  with traffic. What Google Maps directions gave as 25 minutes took nearer 55.

Finally, we arrived opposite HMP Pentonville and parked up.  In all there were 29 bikes and a Trike. Some two-up and I forgot to take a headcount.

After a photo of the South East banner we moved across and into the front of the prison. Unlike UK TV shows, the gates here don't open straight onto the road.

Once the pics were taken, we went our separate ways.

A good ride out.

For me it was around where I work. My route back was more straightforward through Hackney and through the Blackwall Tunnel. The Explorer ran perfectly.

8 February 2014

Into the wet

We have just got through the wettest January on record. And now the first week of February hasn't been any improvement. Wet, wet, wet!

It was sunny as I prepared to set off for Laguna to have Dora's ECM replaced but by the time I had hauled her out of the garage it was spitting and the wind had got up.

Once I had filled the tank, I had a very windy ride back home, taking in the flooded Old London Road. It was so good I did it twice.

7 February 2014


Having the new ECM fitted a Laguna Triumph tomorrow.

She's booked in for 0930 so I am hoping the wind and rain will have eased off enough to get there in one piece!

We have been lucky with the flooding around here. And not having a mount for my video camera (not waterproof) means the floods I went through last week went unrecorded.

My brother has a Go-Pro I'd like to try. There must be a Ram Mount that will utilise the mount I use for the TomTom?

I digress!

Hopefully the new ECM will solve the weird starting problem.

I hate shopping

It's so much easier to look online, choose your size and clickety-click a few days later they arrive.

But, after a wardrobe malfunction this evening when bent over tying my shoe laces, the job is more urgent.

Nothing can compare to the tedium of shopping for trousers/jeans in the yoof and fashion conscious tosser emporiums that used to be shops where you could dash in and out with your purchase. 

A purchase that fitted. 

A purchase that didn't need to be accompanied by musak or the latest drivel from the "top forty", some of it so dreadful and banal they now call it the "Hot 100". 

So tomorrow is another humiliating experience on the horizon.

6 February 2014


Not the most economical use for a car. Drive to the station every day and leave it parked up. Still. Could be worse. Might be using the scooter in this freezing miserable weather.

5 February 2014

Vimy Ridge Day - April 9th 2014

When I bought Döra, I became a member of the Riders Association of Triumph - RAT.

This is something along the lines of HOG (Harley Owners Group), where the meetings are based at their dealers. Somewhere owners can come together and enjoy social activities. We tried something like it with Suzuki for the Suzuki Owners Club, but the mentality of the big-S dealers was somewhat lacking. "Open one evening a week?"/"Open the shop on a Sunday?" were two of the incredulous sounding responses from the dealer base.

Anyway, I digress. RAT.

The local branch is run out of Laguna Triumph in Ashford and is where I bought Döra last year. I've not been to anything yet as most things are evenings and I simply don't get home in time for 7pm starts, whether in the shop, or the pub across the road.

But, when my brother, Neill, forwarded on an email that his local branch had sent out, also Laguna but based at the Maidstone shop, with an invitation to members to sign up for a trip across to France to visit some WW1 war sites including Vimy Ridge, I decided I had to go.

I have been to Vimy before and the last time was on a borrowed Scarver, lent by the BMW dealer in Arras whilst they serviced my GS.


On April 9th 1917, the Canadian infantry rose from their trenches and captured the ridge at Vimy, overlooking the town of Arras on the plain below. 

Casualties for the three day battle were 3598 killed and over 7000 wounded. In 1922 the French government gave the land to Canada and the white marble memorial was unveiled in 1936. It commemorates the Canadian effort and sacrifice across all theatres of war on the western front and also the 11285 men that have no known grave.

On April 9th each year, for Vimy Ridge Day, there is a service of remembrance.

And this is why the Laguna RAT Pack is going over. We go over on the 0920 Eurotunnel service and return at 1750 the same day.

More information:

MAG Fundraising Single

More details to follow......

2 February 2014

First ride of the year!

With only a week to go before the Fred Hill Run, and Döra's trip to Laguna Triumph to have the ECM replaced, I needed to get out and give her a run.

After about seven weeks  the garage, I dug her out. She started first prod on the button. It was sunny as I set off but after the wettest January on record I don't have high expectations.

I did a kind of figure eight around the area including London Road where the water was running off the fields and across the entire width of the roadway.

I took one pic of Döra by the tiger at the entrance to Port Lympne.

The second picture was taken at the top of London Road above the water works!

London Road
It looks like someone failed to make the bend as the road signs are leaning quite a lot!

1 February 2014

Vauxhall Insignia

The new car.  

After a couple of test drives of cars I liked the look of, and a look at some I liked but discarded once I had seen them, I bought a Vauxhall Insignia.
I wanted something that will last a while and so wanted relatively low mileage, added to economy as well. So I chose the diesel engined model, plumping for a 2011 registered SRi CDTi 2.0 litre model. I looked at a few but this one has only 24200 on the clock, is a colour I liked and was at the price level I wanted to pay.
Insurance until September 17th when my current policy expires was an additional £45 of which £15 was admin fee.
At Home

In Hythe

In Hythe

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