27 February 2018

MAG News - ULEZ MAG's response

The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) strongly urges Transport for London (TfL) to drop its victimisation of the poorest in society to no public or environmental benefit, and has called on TfL to demonstrate 'a degree of moderation and common sense.'

MAG submitted a further response to TfL on the long-running threatened user charges for riders of older motorbikes.

Machines built before around 2007 face a massive £12.50 per day charge in the capital.

MAG's Director of Communications & Public Affairs, Lembit Öpik, has appealed to TfL 'to show a degree of common sense here. The category of riders using older machines is small, and they largely do so because they can't afford newer bikes. It's hugely socially unjust to hike up the cost of their commute by over 1,000% while drivers in cars like a new Rolls Royce pay nothing – even though these obviously generate more emissions than a 20-year-old 50cc four-stroke moped.

We've made our points repeatedly – and with painstaking reference to science and social realities and the problem of getting to work at unsociable hours to do low-paid jobs.

TfL can still do the right thing and recognise that they're simply punishing those least able to pay more for public transport or for a newer motorbike.

'Remember, there's no benefit to the environment. These bikes produce almost no pollution and reduce congestion, thereby reducing 'secondary' pollution. Forcing them off the road increases pressure on over-loaded public transport, or drives these citizens out of work altogether. MAG has presented TfL with a moderate and well reasoned case but we have received no indication that they are listening.

The MAG response is available here:


The consultation ends on 28th February 2018, but please continue to make your concerns known directly to the Mayor at:


Reggie and the Snow

Although he's seen snow before he kept wanting to go out in it and mess about. Mostly running about with his bone in his mouth and growling.

Other Pictures:

26 February 2018

Profile Picture

Apparently some of the more eagle eyed amongst you out there has noticed the small penpic picture over to the right of the ramblings on this page.

Yes. That is ME.

Comments to this page and indeed all my blogs and shared blogs are for review and don't get posted if I don't like them.   This enables me to weed out the trolls and other nutters that post some pretty nasty comments, usually nothing to do with the content of the article, but there you go.

The picture was taken on a trip I did in 2016 to Germany and the Czech Republic for the MotoGP. It was taken in Nuremberg. It was taken of me on a balcony overlooking the Zeppelin Field.  

Google it.

Here is the easy to read part using simple English:

I am not a supporter of an extreme right wing political party formerly associated with the third and fourth decades of the 20th century in Germany. I was simply a tourist visiting what is now a tourist site.  I was there with my brother and two coach loads of other assorted tourists.

Understand? Then stop commenting foul abuse and bile plus other crap. I simply delete them anyway.

Carabao Cup Final

So off we went to Wembley to see Arsenal play Manchester City in the final of this cup competition.  This is a home trophy that Wenger hasn't won in the 20+ years he has been the manager despite getting to this stage on a few occasions. 

And he still hasn't. Pitiful might be a decent word to describe the quality of play from the Gunners.  

Manchester City are one of the nouveau-riche clubs with a long history but always in the shadow of their bigger and more illustrious neighbours Manchester United. Although they have won things in the past they sunk a few levels down in the English football pyramid and then came back to the top league.

With the help of the Arab oil barons that bought the club and the millions spent on players and being gifted the state funded City of Manchester stadium that was built for the Commonwealth Games for less than half the conversion from athletics venue to football stadium, they have started to win things.

Yesterday though, even with their Cityzens riches and players on show, Arsenal were so awful in defence and toothless in attack, that they hardly broke sweat.

After the 2-1 home defeat to Ostersunds on Thursday evening with a pretty much completely changed team, we did think that the first choice players, all rested for a week or so might have looked capable. How wrong we were.

Even with our low expectations for the game we came out even more angry and frustrated.


If the manager can't motivate the team to play like they are interested in winning he needs to go. If he can't get them interested to win a medal and bring home a cup, then what is he and they doing turning up?

The answer my friends is that their bank accounts swelled by another hundred grand...... 

24 February 2018


Friday 23rd February

This weekend's outings started with a Friday drive with Reggie to Bodiam Castle.

The castle is a ruin built in the 14th Century and set in some grounds that are dog friendly.  It's a nice walk and for us humans it has a gravelled path to walk on.

It was about 3°C when we arrived. First stop was to check in and sort out parking.  

As NT members we get free parking and the new machines can read the QR code on membership cards. Then it was coffee time.

Once we had warned up we took a stroll around the site.

The castle is on an island although I expect the moat was dug later.

We had intended to go across the road to the pub for lunch but we weren't all that hungry. 

Instead we tried to get a signal to access doggiepubs.com to see if the pub at Rye Harbour was dog-friendly.  It's not on there.

Instead I set the sat-nav for Rye on the coast and we would look for a pub called the Ship Inn.

The pub was built in the 16th century and is very nice. The menu is a little modern. Pubs nowadays don't simply do pie and chips or maybe a ploughman's. Except of course the ploughman made do with bread and cheese and maybe an apple and not all the green matter in that link!!

We had sweetcorn and chilli soup and a side plate of calamari.  Reggie was very quiet and lay alongside the table. There were water bowls but the free biscuits never materialised.

Once we finished we set off for home. Another nice day out.

Saturday 24th February

Today was another Castle.  It's also Claire's birthday and she wanted to go to Dover Castle and see the Secret War Rooms built in the tunnels in the chalk cliff itself.

The first part of the tour is with a guide and then the second half is self guided. We saw the operations rooms for the sea defence and air defence against German attacks.

Also these rooms were housed the teams that  coordinated Operation Dynamo and the saving of over 330000 allied troops from the beaches at Dunkerque.

I took a free pics from the audio visual show... These are from the Operation Dynamo.

We gave been a few times before and this completes the usual trip. However, there are a lower set of tunnels and rooms that were creaged during the Cold War. These are open at different times.

From here we climbed back up to the car and back to reality and a stop at Sainsbury for the weekly shop.

22 February 2018

MAG News - Mayor Khan’s bike tax will charge poorest workers £12.50 a day to enter London

The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) is challenging the Mayor of London with three clear questions regarding 'extraordinary and discriminatory claims about motorcycling in London.'

MAG has challenged London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, to justify 'some of the biggest transport contradictions in London's history' – following what they feel is a 'discriminatory' plan to charge motorcyclists for using the eco-friendly option of powered two wheelers (PTWs).

London's Regional Rep, Tim Fawthrop, called Khan's comments about motorcycles in a letter to Conservative MP (now Minister) Kelly Tolhurst 'extraordinary and discriminatory.'  Tim says 'in his reply to Ms Tolhurst, Mayor Khan states that charging users of older bikes £12.50 a day will – and I'm quoting his words directly here – deter the use of older vehicles, including those with highly polluting two-stroke engines.  Doesn't he realise that these bikes often do more than 120 miles per gallon, and produce far fewer emissions than many exempt vehicles?  

He doesn't offer a single data source for his claims yet the poorest workers in London who depend on older motorcycles to get to, say, City Hall to clean his office, and whose commute currently costs about £1.20 a day, will pay an extra £12.50 every day to him and his authority – for the privilege of emptying his bin.  That's not just wrong, it's disgusting.  So, I've got three questions for him:

1) Why are riders of older, small-capacity bikes being charged when other forms of transport, e.g. taxis, which produce considerably higher emissions with a single occupant, aren't?  We're not asking for taxis to be charged – only for a level playing field.

2) Why does the Mayor want to force riders onto a public transport system that will expose them to up to eight times more particulate matter, according to publicly available research, than using private transport such as a motorbike, when the whole purpose of the change is meant to be environmental and health related?

3) Will Khan compensate the thousands of low-paid workers using small, older motorbikes because it's all they can afford, and what scheme will he be setting up to pay the difference in cost between cheap, older bikes and expensive public transport?

If he can't answer these questions satisfactorily, he'll be proving that this tax on older bikes is discriminatory and a social injustice that could seal his political fate at the next Mayoral election.  MAG is asking all riders to contact the Mayor and ask these three questions. Please also contact your MP to challenge Mr Khan.  The lack of understanding about basic transport theory in which motorcycles, regardless of age or size, reduce net congestion and pollution, is something which should concern all London citizens, not just bikers.'

MAG urgently requests you to make your views known before 28th February 2018 online, at:

Contact MAG at 01926 844 064 or central-office@mag-uk.org


Notes to editors

Reference to particulate matter research:

Letter from Kelly Tolhurst MP to MAG South East  Regional Rep, Steve Mallett

Dear Mr Mallett

Following your correspondence and my enquiry to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, I have now received the attached response regarding the inclusion of powered two-wheelers in the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).

I note from this response that Mr Khan has no plans to exempt motorcycles from the ULEZ or the current daily charge for those motorcycles that do not meet the emissions requirements. However, I also see that he is consulting on proposals to expand the ULEZ to the North and South Circulars for cars, vans and motorcycles which will be disappointing news.

While this is a consultation, I suggest you engage with the debate by following the link provided and adding your concerns. It may well be worth sharing this amongst your friends and family who share your concerns to ensure motorcyclists voices are sufficiently heard.

I appreciate this will not have been the response you will have hoped for but the consultation offers the opportunity to highlight your calls on a bigger level. Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

Yours sincerely,


Kelly Tolhurst MP
Member of Parliament for Rochester & Strood
Tel: 0207 219 5387 – Westminster
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

19 February 2018

There'll be bluebirds over the White Cliffs of Dover

"There'll be bluebirds over the White Cliffs of Dover" or so the wartime song that was sung by forces sweetheart Vera Lynn goes. But is it true **?

Anyway. This weekend we had dog walks by two different faces of these cliffs

Saturday afternoon

Our intended destination was the National Trust's White Cliffs Visitor Centre and then a walk along towards the South Foreland Lighthouse.  But, as we approached the parking we found it closed.  There was a "police incident".

On the road past the entrance towards the  village of St Margaret's we encountered lots of police and coastguard vehicles. Towards the cliffs we could see loads of hi-viz clad bodies.
Bypassing them we ended up at St Margaret's Bay. It's a narrow winding road down the cliff to sea level. It was packed. Maybe with the NT closed this was the result?

We managed to get a parking place and got Reggie out. The walk wouldn't be too long as the bay isn't that big. At the south end (nearest Dover) there is chalk pavement that is covered when the tide is in. 

As it was out Reggie enjoyed trying out all the rock pools. Luckily managing not to fall into any deep holes. He loves the sea.

Northern end of the bay
Southern end of the bay
Reggie on the chalk pavement

Sunday afternoon

This time we did make it to the White Cliffs Visitor Centre.  It was also packed. Since we last went they have marked paring places instead of four levels up the cliffs with free for all parking. 

We went up to level three and parked at the end nearest the steps down. As it was another clear and sunny day, still chilly though, there were many people around. Unlike yesterday, we decided to have coffee before a walk. Good choice. Reggie was well behaved at this point.

After coffee we had a walk along the coast to the top of Langdon Cliff. I took the Canon 1100D with me.  It hasn't been out much and I had charged one of the batteries!

Claire bought a couple of blankets from the shop. They are made of recycled yarn. We have quite a few but Claire decided we needed some more.

Reggie blotted his copybook when he went for a little black cockapoo as we were heading from the car after dropping off the blankets. Like people I guess dogs can't  like everyone.

Langdon Cliff
Claire and Reggie
Dover Coastguard Station
P&O Ferry approaching the harbour

**  The song made the troops overseas think of home, the White Cliffs being a symbol of British resistance to the Nazi invasion across Europe.  It's not true.. We don't have bluebirds in England.....

11 February 2018

Dyson Smallball

I expect this will be a surprise; a write-up about a vacuum cleaner.

"Get a Dyson" they said. So we did. After a succession of cheaper models including the de-rigeur cleaning company Henry,  we needed a new one. The Hoover it replaced decided not to work, no suck, and so I began to search Google for reviews.

Hell.  Google seems to pay less tax than a 90 year old pensioner but their search engine, skewed as it is, does work.

So we ended up with the Smallball.  It does the job and is far superior in design to the Hoover. Sucks well and it manoeuvrable it most situations.  Not as good on stairs but I manage.

So is it worth £180? Yes. It does the job and I guess that's what you want from it.

9 February 2018

It's Friday. It must be The Illegal Eagles

And it is.  Tonight at the Leas Cliff hall we see the Illegal Eagles take to the stage. Another tribute act that sound like the original but make no attempt to be lookalikes. And all the better for it.

Superb as usual. 

MAG UK - Gearing up for Fred Hill Freedom Rides

The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG), the UK's leading voice for riders, has organised rides in memory of Fred Hill to take place this weekend.

Fred Hill was born in 1909 and was a motorcycle dispatch rider during WWII.  In later years he campaigned for a repeal of the helmet law and became famous for riding his motorcycle in a beret.  Numerous arrests followed, with Hill being sentenced to over 30 prison terms between 1976 and 1984.  He died on 10th February, 1984, whilst serving a two-month sentence in Pentonville prison, having suffered a heart attack, aged 74.

He attended many MAG demos, at which he often spoke.  As a token of respect to this remarkable man, MAG continues to this day to remember Fred by organising Freedom Rides each year in his name.

(http://www.visordown.com/features/fred-hill-man-of-unshakable-principle - Written by MAG UK Super Bloke - Ian Mutch)

There will be a number of Fred Hill Freedom Rides taking place this weekend at various locations.  Check out the MAG National Facebook page or your local MAG Facebook page for full details.  Alternatively visit the website at www.mag-uk.org.

Individual MAG membership is just £27.00 a year, with joint, family and corporate memberships also available.  To join, visit http://www.mag-uk.org/en/membership/, call our office or speak to a MAG member.

Contact MAG at 01926 844 064 or central-office@mag-uk.org



Central Office
The Motorcycle Action Group Limited
Tel: 01926 844064
Fax: 01926 844065

7 February 2018


I took this photo about 8 years ago. I saw it very often around the area and it was parked up not far from home down by the Royal Military Canal.

I uploaded to a few Flickr groups and amazingly it has over 10000 views. Who would have thought it?

The Damned @ The Leas

Another night of fantastic music at the Leas Cliff Hall.

Slim Jim Phantom and his band kicking off the night. Rockabilly from the former (or is that current?) Stray Cats. Really good.

Slim Jim (right) and band
And then.

The main event. The Damned. Playing hits from their 40 years on the road  plus selections off the new album called "Evil Spirits" - out on April 13th.  I have pre-ordered it on Amazon.

Unfortunately, my phone was running low on battery power and it decided that to actually focus on the stage closer up than the pic above was a no-no!

5 February 2018


Living in the South-East of England we don't get snow very often and when we do it usually stays for a few hours and then melts away and that's it.

A couple of years ago we had about six inches and the nation was paralysed!  "They run trains in Canada" was the cry from people, forgetting that Canada gets snow and loads of it every year and so they are expecting it and not like us, a freak occurrence.

So today when I got up and saw that the car roofs and windscreens were covered in a few centimetres I was expecting the worst.  There wasn't even enough to stop the wipers from working. I did take a picture for posterity.

Hardly worth the effort!!

On my fifteen minute drive to the station I pulled over to take a picture of the sun peeping from under a cloud bank just after it broke over the horizon.  Before I could restart, the snow started.

Not the fluffy flaky stuff of the movies but strangely coarse granular bits about 3mm diameter.  It clattered down on the car.  This kept up for about twenty minutes.  

At home Claire took a picture of Reggie in the garden.  He has seen snow before and seems not to consider it a novelty....

Reggie and his Kong!
Hopefully this will be all for this week and maybe this winter!

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