28 July 2016

New Helmet - LS2 Metro with Bluetooth Too

Blimey. Ordered late on Tuesday. Arrived today.

The helmet is very light and once I had got the box out of the thick plastic packaging courtesy of Fat Skeleton (http://www.fat-skeleton.co.uk) I couldn't wait to try it on.

With Claire measuring my head at 59.5cms the large size is a perfect fit. Large is down as 59-60cms.

The box contained a few goodies as well. Bottles of helmet cleaner,  a neck tube, a pair of riding glasses, their LS2 version of Pinlock, they even give stickers for France, plus the charging cable and an assortment of breath deflectors.

I couldn't wait to turn it on and it spoke to me. In English. Phew.

Reggie Refusnik

Dogs love to walk. A universal truth that sadly seems not to apply to the dog that fills our lives with his love and habits.

When "experts", usually ones that talk through a part of their anatomy that is for sitting on, tell you how it will change your life having a dog, then maybe for once they are right.

It's no secret amongst friends and neighbours that we went to the Dog's Trust,  to get a small tank-bag dog. One that wouldn't mind going on the bike for a ride somewhere.  Instead, we got Reggie. As soon as we saw his face and the way he looked at us, we were hooked. Despite some of his published  (and soon to be discovered unpublished) foibles and traits, he is a great dog.  At 20kgs he is far too big for the bike. Even a Rocket.

Recently though, he has shown a reluctance to walk. it starts with him hiding when the lead is brought out; in a corner or under the dining table.  Show him the harness, so that we can attach him to the seat belts in the car, and he goes to ground. Literally.  He lays down on the floor and rolls on his back to stop the harness going over his head.

Once out he usually enjoys himself, especially on the beach at Dymchurch, where he can run and go in the sea, play ball and chase the gulls.

It's on other walks that he simply stops.  It first manifested itself earlier in the year when we walked along the White Cliffs of Dover from the car-park near Dover Castle to the South Foreland Lighthouse.  When we came to walk back he refused and it was a while before we could coax him to retrace our steps back along the path. 

He has started to do it more often.  We live near the Royal Military Canal. Built during the Napoleonic War to provide a defence in case Bonaparte landed on our flat coastal land around Hythe, he has now decide that he won't walk there. He stops at the end of the road. His legs stiffen and he won't budge.

What to do?  He likes it over there, just a few hundred yards away, the smells and the rabbits and squirrels to chase or bark at.....

Any (true) experts?  Feel free to comment!   

Wedding of the Year - Jen & Chris

Not a celebrity wedding but my eldest niece, Jennifer,  is tying the knot down in Wales, to her long time partner Chris.  In Cardiff to be exact.

I booked us into a hotel months ago and time seems to be flying.  

The perennial "what to wear" question arises. At work I wear a logo'd polo shirt in summer and a long sleeve variant in winter, with a v-neck similarly logo'd on the chest, and jeans.  The dress code is quite lax here as long as we are clean and tidy. The whole idea of uniform.

We decided to make a weekend of it. The wedding is Friday afternoon, and so Reggie will go with us. The hotel is dog friendly so that's okay for two nights.  Jennifer's dog will be in the local kennel and so for the wedding day I booked Reggie in too. Drop him off in the morning and collect him next morning. Then we are off a few hours north to the Brecon Beacons, and area of outstanding beauty and fresh air.  

What could be simpler?

Food for Reggie?

Reggie is on a raw-food diet.  The kind we buy comes frozen in 1 kilogram packs and is "complete". No need to add veggies or biscuit.  So the dilemma is how to take food for him for about four meals?  
This will be the same but for a longer period in October when we go to France for a week and next year when we go to the Dordogne (also France) in May.

In a kind of parallel thought process,  a friend of Claire's at her work place suggested getting an electrically cooled chiller box. At the same time someone in my office said the same.  The hunt began.  One that would be okay with 12v DC from the car and 240v AC in the house and hotel. After several hours of research I bought one from eBay for delivery tomorrow for a tad of £40. It gets 4.5/5 star reviews on eBay from previous buyers.  Only one 1/5 from a guy that said his went on fire after 45 mins.... Gulp!

So that's sorted.

As a distraction it worked for a few hours, but the question remains on whaty to wear.  I do have a pair of black Farah trousers hanging in the wardrobe. I came across them as I was looking through the usually unvisited end, the left, of the cupboard space. I was getting out some shirts that I will never wear again to go in the charity bag and noticed them. This was months ago and they fit. Although it was a case of on and off in a matter of seconds.  I have shoes. I have shirts..... And I do have a jacket, although it is linen and sand coloured.

Mmmmm.   One weekend to go now.

27 July 2016

New Helmet - LS2 Metro with Bluetooth

For anyone that has read my "Don't Ride Angry" post will know of the events of last Saturday.  What they won't know is that what added to that sense of annoyance and frustration was that when we arrived in Hythe, I found my head was black.

Not the black you get from Grecian 2000, a men's hair dye, but from the inside of my Caberg J1S that had finally given up the ghost.  Not the tough shock absorbing liner but the nylon foam padded liner.

The foam backing had disintegrated into a lot of black grit!  The liner was dropping out as it no longer fitted and I rode back from Folkestone whilst transferring this grit into my sweaty hair and scalp.

As we had a coffee on the field at the food and drink festival, I had a look and it was beyond repair. It went in the bin when I got home.  

I then started looking for a replacement. I know it is a luxury to have more than one helmet on the go, but I am used to a few in the cupboard.  The past lame ducks (Schuberth C2) and old and past it (Nitro 700V)  went to the tip and in the crusher months ago, only to save them being picked up and used by someone else. Simply for safety reasons.

Firstly, I looked at a summer helmet. This LS2 Open Face looked good, comes with a peak and goggles. Claire didn't like it. There's a Captain America version available and even cheaper.

I then looked at maybe getting a Nolan N43 or N44 Air.  Claire has an N43E Air that came as part of the prize when I won Rosie the Scooter. They are hard to get and expensive.  

I decided that the next one should have an integrated internal sun visor and if possible Bluetooth connectivity.  The Nolan has that but tops out at over £300/$400 with both parts being bought separately. At least the helmet is designed to have the Bluetooth fitted integrally and not hanging on the side.

I then had a look at the LS2 Metro helmet.  A flip-front with integral sun visor and Bluetooth.  Priced quite competitively at £199/$260 (or so).

Good reviews and it is all plumbed in and ready to go. Plus. They sell them in matt black, the colour that I particularly wanted.

So it is ordered and was despatched today....

Coming Soon.... Czech Out 2016

All captured on https://paulandneillsexcellentadventures.blogspot.com/ the joint blog that I started and then got Neill to co-author.

But before this happens we have to get over Neill's "Bank of Dad" for his daughter and naturally my niece's wedding at the beginning of August.

25 July 2016

Deafcon 5

Getting to see your Doctor is almost as difficult as getting to have tea with the Queen.

In the end I wrote a letter and posted it through the door.  Monday that was.

That said, Tuesday,  a phone call to the surgery, after 1030am, elicited a response that they hadn't heard from the hospitals about my echocardiogram nor about my hearing test and MRI. Nothing arrived here or the surgery.

As the latter was in May I was a bit pissed.

I called the hospital and eventually got though to audiology. They were closed all day but call back between 10 and 12 or 14 and 16 hours.

I did. Wednesday.  The lady said that they had written to the surgery, cc me, on 17th May. Before the MRI.

I said I was still deaf in that ear and needed the device fitted.

Now booked in on August 16th. She'll write to me. Don't know if that will ever arrive but have it in my Google calendar.

As for MRI? Who knows. They didn't have the result two months after it was done.

12 July 2016

Glass 2

Rewind over three weeks.... (sound effect of tape rewinding)

The wound in my foot seemed to be getting worse. So tonight after work I headed back to Folkestone and the Royal Victoria minor injuries clinic.

A short wait and I was in. The nurse checked the x-ray and there was another piece in there.

Fifteen minutes later and a bit of scalpel to enlarge the hole and it's out.

The piece is actually bigger than the bit I pulled out. Hopefully now it will heal.


10 July 2016

The Somme Commemorations - Day Three

The day to ride home. Once again it was Shuttle-One returning together.

The rest of the Meldrews were going to scatter. One group going to Oradour sur Glane (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oradour-sur-Glane_massacre) and the U-boat pens at Lorient. Another going solo to Normandy and others to the east.

We had a leisurely breakfast and then said our goodbyes and set off. Firstly for petrol as we all needed some and then to Corbie.

There we had a quick stop to place a Somme 100 poppy cross on the grave of William Devall who was killed on July 16th a hundred years ago.

From there we had a cross country journey towards Arras. The rain came and we had to stop so I could get my waterproofs on and effectively they never came off until I was on the Shuttle.

We were in need of a break and it may not have been my greatest decision to take us into Arras on a Saturday afternoon.

We had enough time for a coffee and then away again as time seemed to disappear.

We headed for the A26 and headed north. Always chasing the clock and it seemed even with a petrol stop in Calais for David and Ken that we were in good time.... until we saw the queues at the check-in and beyond at the border controls.

In the end it was every man for himself.  Once checked in we headed towards the front of the first queue to join some other bikes.  Through French passport and then UK Border Agency.

In the end the train we caught with a group from the Goldwing club was about 30 minutes after scheduled.  Ken was about half an hour later and similarly David.

Why? Who knows?

The trip was over when we quickly changed and Pepe went into the garage and we went to pick Reggie up from the kennel.

4 July 2016

The Somme Commemorations - Day Two

The day of the commemorations started early for three of the Ferry Crew. They had tickets to the Thiepval event and needed to be away about 5am for the park and ride by Albert Airport.  

This made the decision to go to the Ulster Tower for the majority of us seem the best option. We could have breakfast in the hotel and then walk over to the station and get the train to Albert, where our shuttle buses would be waiting. No need for the park and ride. It would be less hassle for men but we had Claire and Elaine Constable in our team.  Ladies are less likely to be enamored changing in a field.

As it was We got our tickets and the 0837 train to Albert.  Strangely there wasn't another train until 1137 and that was cutting it fine to get the shuttles as they finished at 1200.

We had a few hours to kill before the first bus and there was plenty to do with displays etc. Plus the famous gilded tower that acted as a target for the German gunners and as a symbol to the French defenders.

At the Tower there was a little confusion where to sit, and sitting was never going to happen as despite few buses going ahead of us, there were no seats left.  With the grass wet from days of rain, we ended up with the cardboard boxes left from the packed lunches handed out when we arrived.  Not so bad for the men, but some of the old servicemen there were in their 80's and up and they stood whilst kids sat down on chairs.  Not good.

The Ulster Tower in sun

Pano of the battlefield between Thiepval Hill and the Schwaben Redoubt.

The ceremony was very moving and the tales of the men and boys that had given their lives brought tears to the eyes.

None more amazing than that of Billy McFadzean (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_McFadzean) who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his selflessness that saved the lives of countless comrades when he threw himself on live hand grenades that had spilled from a box and this was before the assault had started.  

We can never know what we would have done in his position.

The weather continued to be a pig, rain, then sun, then rain again. We got soaked to the skin.

And then about 40 minutes late the guest of honour HRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall arrived.  The politicians from Thiepval didn't show their faces apart from Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn, Our Prime Minister and the French President had cleared off!

Once it was all over and Charles and Camilla had chatted and left,  the buses were brought up. It was very slick and we were on the 1705 train back to Amiens. Now dry with wet patches.

A memorable day.

We were back before the Thiepval Three and way before Ian and Paul who had gone to the Canadian ceremony at Beaumont-Hamel that startwd after our event,  and also attended by Charles and Camilla.

In the evening we split into smaller groups and Shuttle One went our own way. Less beer more soft drinks as we had to ride back to UK the next day.

Another day over.

The Somme Commemorations - Day One

Even though we didn't have to be at the Shuttle terminal for our train to France until 1015 or so we still had to have an early start. I had to take Reggie off to his weekend away at Wyncot Kennels.

Once again he was excited as I turned into the drive and he positively ran off with the kennel lady, again without a backward glance to his Dad standing in the reception area.

Back at the house Claire was doing the last minute packing. The new Saddlemen FTB3600 bag was getting filled with our "duds" that we would need for the ceremony. 

The waterproof bags that I bought last year would have other stuff for two days and two evenings in Amiens.  They fit snugly in the panniers as long as they aren't overfilled. With rain looking highly likely I fitted the Saddlemen with its supplied waterproof cover. It's bright yellow to help other road users see us in the spray and gloom!

We were away via a petrol stop to top off the tank as Brexit last week meant that the "markets" (a phrase to describe speculator scum) have forced the pound sterling down against the dollar and euro, and so already expensive French benzine is now even more expensive for us.

On arrival at the terminal, the machine wouldn't accept our booking reference not the card I paid for it. Usually one or the other is good enough to get through. The human-manned check-ins were five or six cars deep and the automatics... empty... A human came to our rescue and did exactly the same as us and it of course worked.

From there we were going to meet two other regulars on the French trips, Ken Fulton and David Robinson. Both actually on Suzukis, the heritage of the Meldrews, born from that club that no one mentions its name. This group was known as Shuttle One.

We were joined in the terminal by Ian Jenkinson and Paul Brewster aka Bear. 

The queues for coffee were far too long and so we didn't bother and then we were called through.  As usual there was a holdup, but this time only a ten minute delay, or "retimed", on the crossing.  There were quite a few bikes to be loaded and unusually, we were first on the train.

In France the idea was to head along the coast to the Todt Battery for Ian and Bear. The rest of us have been before and we would have lunch.

This is the last we saw of them until Amiens the next day.We had lunch and I texted Ian to say we were eating and then we heard bikes leaving and then after we had eaten we went out to get ready and bikes went past, Dutch riders leaving no bikes in the Todt car-park some 200 yards away. So we set off. With the weather turning to rain I aborted the scenic route for the A16 motorway and 100 minutes later we were pulling up at the hotel. Luckily the gate to the car park was open and so we could ride straight in.  Check-in was simple.

By the time we were showered and out some of the Ferry Crew had arrived but still no Ian and Bear, Shuttle One adjourned to the Irish pub around the corner as we have done for the last three years.

Beers drunk, some very strong and some very very strong and then we were joined by the Ferry Crew. It was therefore ten of us that went in search of food.

We were warned that there might be a delay, but it was gone 2330 when we got out after three courses of well cooked and presented food on the €19.50 "menu touristique".

Time for bed....

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