18 April 2014

Latics @ Colchester United (and Beth Chatto!)

The drive up proved pretty pain free. The TomTom took us to Beth Chatto without any problems and we had a really good morning walking about and looking at the different gardens.  

Photos from Beth Chatto.

Once away from there we had a relatively simple run back to the A12 and down a few junctions to where the stadium can be found.  A nice small ground with parking and not hemmed in by the city and housing. At least, not until they build thousands of homes nearby!!

The car-park ticket I had bought allowed us to drive in and park easily enough. We were probably the only car with an Oldham Athletic window sticker though.   

The "away" supporter entrances are across the other side of the ground from the parking, but unlike some grounds, the banter was not too offensive between locals and me in the Latics away shirt for that season.  See selfie!


For some reason away fans are in this end of one of the stands at the side and they leave the end behind one of the goals completely empty except for club supporter's banners.

 And here's a pano!

In the end the Latics won 1-0 with a cracking goal on the stroke of half-time.

Maybe having Claire there was a good luck charm.

16 April 2014

Schuberth C2!

I had had this helmet seven years.   I know this as I just clicked on the C2 link over on the right of the blogger screen and it grouped all the C2 posts together.  

Quite a variety of posts.  I never did get the the left side lock fixed. Oxprod wanted £75 to look at it and fix it and if the parts needed came to more than that then I would have to pay the extra.  So I make do with flicking the hooked piece with my fingertip before putting it back on.

I recently bought a new visor for it as the other had a rather irritating scratch on the front, courtesy of walking into the garage with the front flipped and scraping it on the bottom of the metal door.   It wasn't too bad but did refract light from the sun and headlights a little.

The new one arrived yesterday and so I need to get if fitted ASAP.

Although it has the locking problem, it is still very quiet. It has a wide face opening that gives plenty of view around.  Let's see how it goes on for now!

I wore it, pre new visor, last week on Döra's run across to Vimy and it was very quiet. It also has the reflective stickers on it to match the French idiot law.

15 April 2014

Whitstable Easter Egg Run

Sunday 13th April.  This was the 30th Anniversary run organised by the Whitstable Toy Run Association.  And it was another good turnout.

Both for the WTRA and also for the Kent Centre.

The Kent Centre was possibly due to the NC making an appearance at the Blue & White, and also due to some new members of the SOC coming along to meet us.

We set off later from the B&W than usual, and had only gone a mile or so when the "drop off" system had been forgotten.  I was playing tail-end Charlie and caught up with Norman and James (from Dorset) at Ashford's "magic roundabout", where traffic lanes change from traffic lights to traffic lights and no one makes much progress.

I slipped to the front and led them up the A251 towards Faversham and then down the little spurt on the Thanet Way into Whitstable and the Gorrell Tank Car-Park. The rest of the group were already there by the time we turned up.

Not all of us were going on the ride out and so Claire and I setup across from the exit with our little Samsung cameras  so we could capture the bikes leaving. We managed 161 pictures between us and they are uploaded to Flickr and linked on the WTRA FB page.

A couple of the pix from the Flickr set.

Once everyone had left, we led Norman back to Canterbury as he thought he needed petrol in his new V-Strom. Once we had left him, we set off for Waitrose and a free coffee. With time evaporating we ended up at the café at Brockhill Country Park, where we had a spicy bean burger and cheesy chips. Very nice.

12 April 2014

Wigan Ath 1-1 Arsenal (aet 2-4 pens)

Wembley pano! The pitch isn't actually a curve!
After labouring about as if they had all been on the piss until 4am the Arsenal finally roused themselves after a penalty had given Wigan a pretty much deserved (on willingness to play alone) lead.

The debate will surround the injury to Monreal that left him in a heap and the perp was then upended by the BFG.

It was late into the final throes of the game before the BFG made amends and equalised.

To be honest the Arsenal keeper, Fabianski, hardly had a save to make all game. Whereas we hit both posts with the keeper well beaten. Firstly from a Sanogo header and the second, an Oxlade Chamberlain pile driver.

Fabianski then saved the first two Wigan penalties and when Cazorla slotted our fourth of the regulation five Wigan had lost 4-2.

Losing on penalties is never the best way to lose, cruel on fact, but at least it wasn't our turn.

To get to the Final we have had to beat three of the Premier League top six (we are one of them!), Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton. If only we could be playing as well as we did to sweep them aside!

Final. May 17th.

10 April 2014

Vimy - Part Deux

A tale of up-cocks and the need to buy a map.

What could possibly go wrong? No satnav and no paper map? Nothing of course.

Once I was on the A26, cruise set to 110kph, plain sailing. 

Junction 6 for Béthune is soon passed. I had expected 6.1 to be close by. It isn't. Doubt sets in.

Next is the A21 signed to Lens and Douai  (pron doo-eye) and yes a D road as well. 

Souchez is on the right of the A26. So track right on a new road. No signs of life, no signage... Not good.

Arrive Barlin. New supermarket. No maps. Ask idiot-villageur for directions.

Follow them and find myself in Mont St Eloi where the abbey was shelled and the structure remains. A sort of bombed shell. No access though. Not today anyway.

Head off towards Arras expecting to see a signpost. None. Enter Arras and buy a map at Auchun.

It seems that at Mont St Eloi I was about 4 miles away as I stood in the sun.

By now the hour I was ahead is now about an hour the other way.

I fly up the old N17, now bypassed, to the Necropole Nationale at ND de Lorette.

We have been before on a trip I led a few years back, so when I roll up I haven't missed much. The RAT Pack are either trying to get food or still looking around, so I take some pix and shoot off to the other sites I want to see.

I am interested in a large British cemetery at the southern end of Souchez called Cabaret Rouge.

The cemetery is on the site of a restaurant/nightclub of that name.

There are vast numbers of unknown soldiers, mostly with the Maple Leaf on their headstones.

When I came out I was accosted, in a nice way, by a lady with an iPad collecting information on visitors to the cemeteries in the area.

I togged up and set off for another cemetery that caught my eye when I was going the other way; the Czechoslovak Cemetery at La Targette. Across the road is the Polish Memorial.

Curiously, the CS cemetery has graves from both world wars. I didn't realise that Czechs had fought in this arena in WW1. 

One of the crosses shows that one of the soldiers died on Armistice Day.

I had just taken a picture of the bike outside when I saw a long line of headlamps approaching over the ridge to the north. The RAT Pack.

Once again, I togged up and set off in pursuit, catching them just arriving in the car park by the visitor centre.

Introductions made and we set off for the monument itself for the Memorial Ceremony.

In the sunshine the monument is spectacular.

We were ushered to the other side, a little way down the ridge.

This view is not actually the front. The front faces where the Canadians attacked from.

The ceremony was attended by the Canadian Ambassador to France, plus dignitaries from the local communities, ex-servicemen and serving servicemen from Canada and France, plus members of the public including us RATs.

Unfortunately, the sun was in our faces so photos have come out a little dark as the camera compensated for the brightness.

The piper played a lament to open the ceremony.

Once the ceremony and wreath laying were over we were able to return to the visitor centre to visit the preserved trenches.

The ceremony had gone on much longer than we expected and so there was probably no one in the Pack that wouldn't overstay their Shuttle ticket.

After a couple of group photos, we togged up and set off for the port.

^^^^ The Laguna RAT Pack ^^^^ 

9 April 2014

Vimy - Part Un

Up early courtesy of the cat. Washed and out about fifteen minutes ahead of schedule.

Sunny but a little chilly around the legs. Good job I am wearing two jumpers!

I was going to be half an hour ahead of the RAT Pack anyway so when I accepted an earlier crossing it put me an hour ahead. Leisurely breakfast then.

On arrival I pulled into the fuel stop for a coffee. "Desolé, machine en panne" said shrugging Gallic lady.

I togged up and headed down the A26 to the Aire de Rely, where we have stopped before.

Breakfast. And all ordered in French....

I'll carry in to ND de Lorette and meet the others there.

As I write they must just be exiting the port.

7 April 2014

Allied Memorial Remembrance Ride 2014

Registration opened the evening and so I booked my brother "Woody" and me in.  It costs £5 a head and the funds raised go to Royal British Legion in the UK.

The various US groups direct their funds to US charities.

If you live near one of the Rides, sign up and go along.


Vimy Ridge

How many times have I been on Eurotunnel? Answer? Lots!

So I must have misread the original instructions and I booked the train for 0850. Actually, a little later than my usual crossings. To maximise time over "on the otherside" I usually like the earlier 0820 crossing.

The joining instructions arrived in the email from Jack, the RAT leader for this jaunt.

It's supposed to be 0815 to depart the fuel stop on the motorway by J11, then to check in way before 0850 and then the 0920 train!


I might go a bit earlier still and get some brekkie Frogside and then be ready when they come past. Once I have downed a pain chocolat and a coffee.....

In reality I'll miss them pass and have to get a move on to catch them up at the toll ticket collection booth at Ardres. 

As it is France I'll wear the Schuberth with it's very law abiding reflective stickers in place.

I don't need the TomTom.

The plan is A26 to J6 then the huge cemetery at Notre Dame de Lorette, where there is a cafe bar, then down to Vimy to join the Memorial Service.

Afterwards, we are scheduled to drop in on another couple of monuments and home again via the A26.

I'm booked on the 1820 train back from Calais. Not because I don't want to ride in convoy with 20 other bikes but because I want time to drop in the "Auchun" Hypermarket or Cité Europe on the way back to the train.

Oh. And the weather might be kind!

Fingers Crossed

6 April 2014

Shakedown Ride

By the time we had done the days chores it was a bit late when I finally got out for a test ride with the TomTom fitted on the new Fred Carno's outfit of a RAM mount and dumbbell setup. Amazingly, TomTom had forgotten that the Cardo Scala existed and I had a little faff about to get it all sorted setup.  

It was gone 1730 by the time I set off. I wanted a little run to get the kit settled in and set the TomTom for the Western Heights at Dover.  There are forts all around Dover marking its significance as a major port, and one only 22 miles from France. The Castle was started by the Normans on about 1080 but there is actually a Roman lighthouse on the site.

Apart from a refugee and illegal immigrant centre, I couldn't actually find the defences. Maybe I didn't look hard enough as Tom wanted me to enter a housing estate that looked wrong.

In the end I did go up to the Castle to find a parking spot overlooking the Castle, and found the coach park. The sky was so grey that I almost lost the Castle in the gloom. Grey stone and grey sky.

I took another picture whilst I was up there, of Tom and his mounting.

With the Vimy RAT trip coming up on Wednesday I wanted check this was all good, and it was, then to fill the tank up at Tesco so that I have a full one to start the day.

I squeezed in 3.66 litres and had 42.9 on Trip 1, working out at 52.91 mpg;  a bit better than the last few fill-ups managed before the engine work was done.  The onboard mpg computer shows 62.1 at the moment.

Looking forward to Wednesday.

4 April 2014

Wemberlee, Wemberlee

Cheapest Seats
April will be a good football month for me or at least the middle weeks will be.

Firstly, we'll be off to Wembley to see Arsenal play in the FA Cup Semi-Final against the Cup Holders, Wigan Athletic. A game that even Wenger and the players can't throw away. My trips to the new Wembley haven't so far been that successful, losing on both occasions.

Firstly to Chelsea in 2009 after being a goal up early on and then letting it slip near the end and even worse, the 2011 League Cup Final when a cock up between defenders and keeper left us conceding against lower opposition in the form of (to be) relegated Birmingham City.

So another Wembley occasion against a lower league side can't be allowed to go the same way. If we don't get to the Final in May, then I think Wenger needs to pack his bags!

After Wembley we have a tough game against West Ham that we need to win to stay in the Champions League qualification places.

Then at Easter we have the Oldham game at Colchester. Three games in six days. Hope I am up for it!!!

1 April 2014

New Lenovo L430

New Lenovo L430

At last we have moved into the 21st Century with the Council furnishing us with Win 7 Lenovo laptops. Only days before Microsoft cease updates for XP and support is switched off - not that you would notice as Microsoft support is non-existent in any case.

On the surface it is a nice looking piece of kit. Physically it is the same over dimension as my old Dell. The wide bezel means that the useable screen size is actually less than the Dell. It comes with the Intel Core i5 processors, and the cheaper option 500gb hard drive and only 4gb of RAM.

The L430 is about £600 on the Lenovo website, variable prices from resellers.

But there is one flaw....

There's no caps lock indicator......

Regent's Canal

North entrance to the Islington Tunnel

Artistic Wreck?


A short walk along the Regent's Canal. There are lots of the barges that never move and also another group that are visiting from around the country. 

It looks as though someone has been at work as the usual crap like McDonald's packaging and Coke cans seems to have been cleaned away!

Some other pictures from my walk along the canal and then through Islington to the office.

More boats on the canal.

Another pub closed down and being developed. 

The Albany pub on Thornhill Road. A little up itself but used to be a good pub where we had drinks after work for birthdays etc.

One of the "dwellings" near work. There are lots of these trust buildings. Benefactors from the 19th and early 20th century that provided housing for the working classes.

When I worked next door this was a wallpaper factory. All hand printed and very expensive. Now, named after the wallpaper factory!

Isn't nature wonderful?

Swan and her nest
With all the hustle and bustle at St Pancras and Kings Cross, building everywhere, the oasis of calm ought to be the Regent's Canal. At least that's what this swan and her mate must have thought when they built this massive nest of sticks.

The building above is the Filling Station café/bar, on the site of a real petrol station. 

I hope that the birds don't get disturbed by the barfly clientele.

Latics @ Colchester United

Sometimes there have to be trade-offs.  I want to go to the football at the new Weston Homes Stadium at Colchester, but as it is Good Friday it needs the trade.

Claire comes with me to the football and then she gets to choose something.  She did.  Beth Chatto's Garden, luckily not far from Colchester so we have a double-header.

The gardens open at 9am and so with 127 miles to drive, we need to be away from home pretty quick pronto, as it were.

The football kicks off at 3pm, so we need to be a little earlier to get parked.  With a new out of town stadium there is parking. Incredibly the club website says 700 spaces!  OMG!

I ordered the game tickets from the eticket website from Oldham Athletic. And that brought me to parking. The Colchester United website wasn't very helpful saying that away supporters had to call and see what spaces were available.

But, better still, on their ticketing site there it is, the parking space can be booked separately to the home match ticket. Get in.


All done and dusted.

And now for Beth Chatto Garden.  Entry is £6.50 and there are 7 acres of gardens. I do like a garden and a garden before the football might be a calming experience, although maybe better afterwards.


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