29 April 2016

Cardio

Yesterday was an important day for me. It's almost 13 months since I had my heart problems and the stent operation.

I have had two cardiologist appointments cancelled since the turn of the year, but yesterday it was the day.

In the morning I had a bit of a lie-in and then a quiet walk with Reggie including a haircut and beard trim.

The whole hospital visit went quickly. An ECG and then to see the consultant. 

The ECG was very good and the trace looked normal. The consultant was happy with the process, and surprised I had gone back to work earlier than maybe I should have. 

The final step is to have another ultrasound and then maybe get signed off as "fit".

24 April 2016

We love you Oldham

The trip to Oldham ended up being  a 608 mile round trip from home via my brother's to the football ground and then down to our Aunt's house in Manchester.

The journey up from Neill's took four and a half hours to Oldham, and back Home from Manchester about the same.

In the end it was worth it as Oldham won and stay in League 1 another year.

This is the brick I bought in my Dad's memory. It's in the outer wall of the new stand.



Dad's brick
Away fans... there are some. Honest!

20 April 2016

Latics @ Sarfend

What can I say about the ride from home to Southend. On Google Maps it shows a distance of 34 miles, as the crow flies. Once it works out the route that changes to more like 81 miles depending on the way you go.

Why did I want to go there? Well, to see my football club, Oldham Athletic play Southend United in a League One match. 

With a 1945 kick off as the last time I could get there, counting back and allowing for traffic I set off at 1615. Traffic was relatively light on the M20 considering the hour, but as I got nearer  London it started to build. The swoop from M20 to M25 is quite a nice experience as long as there is clear road and Pepe managed it as the legal limit without any trauma. 

That’s when I was faced with a four lane wall of traffic crawling along at walking pace.

Even filtering through between the outside two lanes I lost over 20 minutes getting from the M20/M25 junction to the tunnel itself.  

The last couple of miles had cars and trucks at a standstill, and it was the same for the tunnel itself. There was a brief respite from this when we started to move and achieved 40mph for a mile or so. TomTom wanted me to exit onto the A13, but the column of stationery traffic meant I went past to the next junction, the A127.  This is the route straight into Southend some 23 miles away. And 23 miles of solid traffic and sometimes stationery! How do people do this every day?

As we entered Southend the “miles to empty” showed 55 miles but the yellow fuel light had come on. Rather than mess about after the game I saw a Tesco signed off the next roundabout and went in there to fill up.  This tank had managed just under 45mpg. Gulp. It was 1823 when I came out and put the details into the MPGCalc app on my phone.

Traffic was still heavy as I went past the ground and was unable to turn right into the club’s car park next to the club shop. So I had a detour around the houses to get back with it on my left!  In the end I also found a Sainsbury’s with an ATM.  Dinner could be paid for now.

All in all the journey inc petrol and ATM stop was 2h 35m. I had passed the entrance though after a mere 2h 20m.

Parking was easy enough. I had contacted the club in advance and they said the car-park was for season ticket holders only but bikes could be found a space.  The guy put me next to the club shop where there are cctv cameras.  I locked everything away in the panniers and took TomTom with me!  My helmet was locked on the back seat by cable.

Team warm up before kick off

Team warm up before kick off
Roots hall in the evening sunshine

Roots Hall

Half time entertainment - they must have been freezing!

The pictures were taken from the small area in the North Stand where they would let us sit.  Nearly 200 made it, mostly from Oldham, some on the club’s official coaches and some by train. Only me by motorcycle. The rest of the stand was empty save for a few flags laid across the seats behind the goal.

In the end it was worth the trip for the 1-0 win for Oldham.

After the game I applauded the team and manager as they came to the supporters and then shot out to get togged up for home.  It was quite cold and I wanted to get away as quickly as possible.  It was just gone 2145 when I turned out of the car park onto the A127. Traffic as already at a standstill despite it being two lanes in either direction. The reason was the local authorities had decided to dig the road up.  About 400 yards from the ground the road takes a left turn at a roundabout, then it's two lanes all the way to London…..  So on the night that there were thousands of people coming out they had coned off one lane!

It is sometimes hard to credit the joined up thinking that doesn’t take place sometimes.  The cones and workforce weren’t there when I had gone the other way a few hours earlier.

Once clear of that and keeping to the legal limits I was at the M25 in 35 minutes and home at 2310 or 1h 25m door to door. It was cold and it took a while to warm up once I got into bed. At least I had Reggie lying next to me, like a little heater for a while, before he cleared off to bark at something through the window.

So some more miles under the belt and Pepe behaved like the perfect gentleman.

18 April 2016

MAG and London's Mayoral Candidates

Whilst we congratulate MAG. London's bikers across a wide range of social media contacted both candidates to ask why, in the first instance, motorcycling had been forgotten. 

One of my tweets

KEY LONDON MAYOR CANDIDATES SHARE MOTORBIKE VIEWS WITH MAG
Britain's leading riders' rights movement, the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG), has secured statements from the two front running candidates in the race to become Mayor of London.  Sadiq Khan MP (Labour) and Zac Goldsmith MP (Conservative) shared with the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) their thoughts and plans for the capital’s hundreds of thousands of qualified motorcycle and scooter riders - and both have expressed their appreciation of the importance of powered two wheelers as part of the London transport mix, promising to work to ensure their needs are taken into account.  
MAG is including links to their original text.  Sadiq Khan's statement link: https://wiki.mag-uk.org/images/a/a6/Sadiq_Khan_MP_2016_03_26.docx has appeared in the organisation's magazine, The Road. 

Zac Goldsmith's statement, link: https://wiki.mag-uk.org/index.php/File:Zac_Goldsmith_MP_2016_04_18.docx which arrived after publication of the magazine.

MAG’s Chair, Selina Lavender, is very encouraged by their responses.  ‘MAG is not party political, we engage with members of all parties with a view to assisting riders in making an informed decision between leading candidates.  As either Zac or Sadiq are tipped to win this election, we invited them to outline how they see motorcycles in the context of London Transport policy (as neither had done so prior to our involvement). We’re sharing their statements to enable motorcyclists and scooter riders to make an informed decision about who they’d like as Mayor.’


Selina claims riders haven’t always felt they’ve enjoyed a level playing field with other road users.  ‘Hundreds of millions of Pounds have been spent on making cycling safer. All we’re asking for is consideration for our needs too – and recognition of the importance of motorbikes and scooters in our ever more congested city.  I’m heartened by the responses of both these front-running candidates. MAG can and will work with the winner. We leave it to the motorcycle and scooter riders of London to vote to decide who that should be.’  

 ENDS

16 April 2016

iPod!

I expect this is what they call a "First World Problem". But even so it is a pain in the ass.

My iPod Classic has decided that it will only charge if connected to one specific USB port on Claire's laptop. Luckily, I have an account on it that holds iTunes.

Nothing happens when connected through a genuine Apple cable, connected to the mains with a genuine Apple plug.

With 80GB capacity it has everything on it that I own in CD format as well as downloads from iTunes and Amazon.  It's a mobile databank of my musical tastes for the last thirty or more  years. Yes, I do have CD's on stuff I bought on vinyl back in the dark ages. 

So when it got very low today, so low that on the screen the battery had the smallest sliver of red showing, I had no qualms about firing up the Dell.

Then panic mode started.  The screen went off and ever so faintly it said something about recovery mode.  Oh sh*t!  Not here again!  The iPhone 5S did this last year.

Connecting to iTunes seemed to have the effect of it deciding to restore the software and the "this will delete everything off the device" message still chills the blood.

It restored back the factory setting, but at least now the lightning bolt was shining in the battery icon and the screen was lit up.....

In the end all it needed was to go into iTunes and tell it to sync the entire music library and podcasts. A small hiccup when it decided that about sixty albums couldn't be restored as I hadn't authorised this computer.  The computer that for at least five years has been the home of iTunes Library.... Yeah, Right.  These just happened to be Amazon downloads and CD rips.  

Here I am about 90 minutes later and it has just finished the sync.  I only have 36.6gb of free space....

At least I have been able to sit and think about the future of my relationship with Apple. I do feel I hate them and all they stand for, but whilst I was thinking that, I was listening to The Who "Quadrophenia".




10 April 2016

Sunny Day

Was a sunny day,
Not a cloud was in the sky...

However there were a few negative words said as we approached the entrance to the White Cliffs Park  to find the gates closed and staff directly people away. Reggie's walk and a cup of tea for us was not going to happen.

We turned round and headed for the Battle of Britain Museum at Capel-Le-Ferne. 

It's dog friendly on the grounds but not in the new "Wing" museum. We sat outside whilst Claire went into get get teas.

The memorial wall lists the names of all the pilots that took part in the Battle from June to September 1940 and were killed in action. "The Few".

Hitler's forces were massing on the opposite side of the channel only 22 miles away. The British Expedtionary Force and French and Belgian armies had just been rescued from the beaches near Dunkerque. It was dire for Britain.

RAF fighter command in the sourh-east was the only defence against the Luftwaffe's massive formation of bombers that came to pound London and Britain's industrial heartland.

They came from far and wide, not just Britain and the Empire, but from the US and the recently conquered nations; Czechoslovakia, Poland, Holland and others.

The marble wall is a fitting memorial to "The Few".

As Winston Churchill said:

"Never was so much owed by so many to so few".







Even the loos are themed!




7 April 2016

Lug 'oles?

After Monday’s visit to the surgery I have been referred to an ENT clinic at a local hospital. A letter came through yesterday so that I can login and book my own appointment. The choice was quite extensive.  I worked my way through the list, one at a time.

“No appointments available” was pretty common until one of what appears to be two different ENT clinics at the William Harvey. Booked 9th May as that’s the earliest appointment anywhere. As there has been no improvement since Day 1 over six weeks ago, I doubt there will be much change before then.

The nurse-practitioner says that there is no perforation but a small bulge towards the bottom of the drum.  Oh well.

Concession

Another benefit of being over 60. I get a concessionary rate to go to the football! Instead of £22 face value I get in for £15. Along with free prescriptions! There aren't many other benefits....