28 October 2014

Roll of Honour

I left work at a little after 4pm to get down to the Tower of London for the Roll of Honour.  I wanted to be there to hear as they read out the names of our relatives, Charles and William Devall, both who died  on the Western Front,

The journey was a little delayed firstly as the Circle Line was having one of its "problems", i.e. late and/or cancelled, and so I had to get the Metropolitan Line to Aldgate and walk down the Minories. The crowds in both directions were pretty heavy and once at the Tower, they had closed the lower of the walkways cramming everyone into the upper one. 

Once I had found space there I could see and test the digital camcorder, I found that although I could see, the sound was pretty rubbish. I wanted to hear the names read out.

I did a test video of the Guardsman bugler and although that seemed okay, the announcer was muffled. Apparently he said that the Roll would start at 4.55pm.

I decided to move, threading my way through the selfie takers. Maybe it is because I am an older bloke, but I find it somewhat irreverent to grin inanely like the Cheshire Cat into a phone with the poppies in the background hardly in focus or visible at all.  And don't get me started with the complete and utter pricks that have an extendable stick with their iPhone fitted to the end! 

Take pictures of the poppies and the ceremony by all means, Record it for posterity, share it with others that couldn't be there but not a bloody selfie.

I was lucky that once I got on the steps I was right near the front and was able to get a decent shot between two older guys on the very front row. The light was failing and I tested the camera again. The Xacti takes HD video but the playback screen is quite low quality so as I reviewed the vids, they looked terrible.

On the computer they look better - links below.

The ceremony was very moving and I was pleased to be there to hear them call out William and Charles' names.  They were quite near the  beginning so I gave my (wavering) arm a rest.  It seems to easy to take movies but without a tripod they are waving about like poppies in the breeze.

Video 1  

22 October 2014

Route 66 Blog

Not mine!

I guess I am in a minority. I don't have any ambitions to ride Route 66. There. It's out for all to see and discuss.

I would like one day whilst I can still ride to have a go at some stretches, but not from Chicago to the Pacific.

I am one year into a ten year US Visa so I guess I still have time.

I would like to do the parks in the West to see the likes of Yellowstone and Yosemite and the cowboy films landscapes.

Anyway. I'll make do with Florida on 2015 with R&R and a trip to Epcot and Cape Kennedy....

This is my brother's blog: http://dmd66.blogspot.co.uk

21 October 2014

Movember 2014

Movember is back. My brother has dropped out this year and it is just me to do it.

I had created a team for us but it's now a one man outfit.

Christmas Markets 2

Don't get me wrong. I love a seasonal market as much as the next man. Strasbourg is supposed to be one of the biggest, but I find myself thinking "wouldn't it be better if it was warm?".

I've not got my head around actual Christmas Day away, but coming more around to the idea packing the car and heading to the Mediterranean for a week starting on Boxing Day.

Of course we'll have the cat to get looked after.....

20 October 2014

Tower of London Roll of Honour

Thank you for submitting a name for the Roll of Honour at the Tower of London. We are delighted to confirm that your nomination will be included at the ceremony on 28th October 2014.

The list of 180 names will be read from the poppy-filled Tower moat at sunset, starting at 4:55pm (16.55). The names will be read the order in which they were submitted and validated. We regret we are unable to make changes to the reading lists at this stage.

At the end of the reading, which will take about 20-30 minutes, an Army bugler will play the Last Post.

If you would like to watch, you can get a good view from the area in front of the Tower ticket desks on Tower Hill.

We are filming the ceremonies and an archive site where you will be able to view the videos is currently under construction, we will let you know when it goes live.

We are also adding the lists of names being read each night at http://rollofhonour.tumblr.com/ so that they can be seen and remembered from anywhere in the world.

17 October 2014

MAG: Decline in young people taking test - Working Group

From Oliver Rose, MAG National Clubs Officer: 

One thing at MAG we're obviously concerned about is the latest statistics from the department of transport that show the rate of young people taking up biking (based on test passes) is significantly down. As reported in July 2014 Government figures released last week show that in the year 2012-2013, 3,333 18-year-olds completed the practical motorcycle test while in 2013-2014 only 216 did.

This is something we'd love to see change, and one of the things we feel may be affecting the figures is the combination of tests required to get a full licence (the result of the EU Driving Licence Directives, and their implementation in the UK).

We're looking to put together an expert working group who can help us get to the bottom of this concern. We are looking for approved instructors and their employers who can assist us.

If you're in a position to help in anyway drop me an e-mail to oliver.rose@mag-uk.org

If it’s not for you but you know others that may be in a position to help, then share this and do your bit to help us get this disastrous legislation overturned to protect our way of life.

14 October 2014

Poppies at the Tower

The trip today was to see the poppies, some 880000, that have been hand made and planted in the moat surrounding the Tower of London.

We took the HS to Stratford and changed to the DLR to Tower Gateway.  The exit is across the road from the Tower and we could see the crowds of people viewing the display plus the long queues for the Tower's ticket office and entrance.

The display has no straight edges as it represents the blood of those that were killed in the battlefields across the globe, mostly on the Western Front and Gallipoli.

It is sobering to thing that each poppy represents a soldier fighting in the British Army that was killed fighting for his country.

A debt we still owe to those that paid with their blood.


7 October 2014

Service time

Döra is booked in to Laguna on October 31st for the 10000 mile service. I'm quite a bit short on miles at the moment, but with a ride out coming up in a few weeks I might get to 8000!!!

6 October 2014

France Weekend - Deuxième Jour

After breakfast on Sunday we decided to head south to the Baie de la Somme, and to Le Crotoy in particular. A couple of years ago we had a short visit there on the way back from Normandy. Although the obvious non-motorway route was to go down the D940 coast road to Le Touquet and Berck sur Mer, TomTom had other ideas and we ventured away from the coast into nowhere, or the hinterland between the N1 and the coast. In the end a road closure actually forced us back to the coast road in any case! 

The first stop had actually been on the outskirts of St Leonard, the town that adjoins Boulogne. It was to fill the tank with refreshing French diesel. At €1.242 - litre I was saddened to only get €60 to fill up the pipe. There is a flap to stop overfilling. That price equates to about 98p a litre! At home at the local supermarket it is about 34p a litre more!!!!

After eating out twice the day before we decided to have a picnic instead. The weather was good with temps around 22C and so we stopped at the Carrefour at Rue and bought some food and drinks. As with Douai the day before, parking is free between 1200 and 1400 and we arrived at 1141. To cover out arses we popped 30c in the machine and that took us to 1159! It would be a hard traffic warden to issue a ticket for 1 minute?

Panoramic picture of Baie de la Somme
Leaving the stuff in the car we had a walk from the beach area to the town for a coffee and a look in the shops, just in time for them all to be closing for the day or for lunch. And then back along the seafront to the car and to eat the pizza like food we had bought. It was still warm and the beach was pretty much "tide out", with the bay looking almost shallow enough to walk all the way across to St Valery about three miles away.

Le Crotoy beach huts
With food eaten, we had another walk along the sands to try and exercise the calories away, instead stopping for an ice-cream!

Le Crotoy
Once back at the car it was about 1430 when we set off home, via Audreselles and afternoon coffee. There were delays on the Shuttle due to an earlier breakdown and we managed to squeeze on the back of the train that was retimed to leave at 1827 instead of 1820. The rest of the train was filled with the previous train's cars! Two cars further back in the queue and we would have been on the next one at 1850!

Unlike Southeastern Trains, there is no compensation for delayed travel! You simply have to grin and bear it!

French Weekend - Jour Un

Way back in the spring we went to a free travel show at the Dover Ferry Terminal and as usual entered loads of competitions to win cruises and holiday. In the end we did get a lucky a free night at the Youth Hostel in Boulogne sur Mer. Over the last thirty or more years I have stayed at loads of hostels in mainland UK and across in Europe. Most have been really good and some average but none have been a let-down. In some places, they are really cheaper alternatives to hotels but you have to choose well.

Also at the show was a small stand from Douai (pron. Doo-eye) in the Nord region of France. Although we had forgotten the leaflets and what they had to offer we decided to go and have a look. The run down from the Shuttle was pretty good and the Insignia cruised along without a hiccup. Douai though has little to offer!

The tourist office furnished us with a map and we saw there were two trails and so we chose the shorted one, estimated at an hour, plus had a quick detour into the market that was clearing up as we arrived. The belfry on the huge town hall was very tall and the river okay bur sadly there wasn't enough to keep us beyond the free two hours parking that a lot of French towns give visitors between 1200 and 1400. We head for Arras. 

The Grand Place is still cobbled and the TomTom had a bit of wobble and the voice started to warble. Luckily, they have built an underground car-park as well. Three floors down and pay at a machine using a debit/credit card rather than the pay and display on the surface. Although we had Euros with us, it was all in notes and not coins for the machines.

We had lunch at the Brussels Café, where we have eaten before. It is not all that expensive and the food is good. We both had their homemade burger and chips. As about as far form a McDonald's "patty" as possible to get.

There were quite a few wedding parties going past. They do the civil bit at the Town Hall and then walk across the Place des Heroes to the church of St John the Baptist for the religious blessing. We followed one on out little walk. 

Next stop after Arras was with a silent TomTom in 2D! Something had gone AWOL in the unit and turning off and on hadn't cured it. We headed towards Le Touquet and Boulogne via the gardens at Sericourt, arriving too late to go in but at last we know where it is for another trip…. And then onto Boulogne. TomTom by now had time to recover and took us right to the door. If only we could have seen the door though. The only indication was the Hostelling International badge high up, about three floors up, on the outside if the building. Checking in and we were given the duvet cover and sheet for each bed. The room, 102 was quite small with two single beds and a massive bathroom. A smaller bathroom might have given space to walk around the beds!

It had started to rain about 30 miles out and so we decided rather than walk and get wet, we'd drive to the Haute Ville and have dinner. The restaurant was okay, the €15 menu was okay, if only the service was a little quicker! We don't usually take two hours to much through three courses. 

And then it was back to the hostel and bed. It is supposed to be quiet after 2200, the exception is when they have a 80's Disco for a birthday party and then it's Boney M etc. until nearly midnight…..

Jour Deux is another day!

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