31 March 2018

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

Let's start with a disclaimer.  I am not a fan of musical theatre. There you have it. I can't stand the way the actors sing on stage. 

Okay, most musicals not written by Andrew Lloyd Webber might be from Broadway, but in London surely the pseudo (and shitty) Brooklyn accents could be given the push.  Just sing the effing songs.

I have been to a few before and have actually enjoyed them. Bombay Dreams was very good.  Can't remember any others mind you.

So when Claire suggested we go to see "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical" at the Marlowe Theatre I was not fully enthusiastic. In the end it was marvellous. Superb in fact.

I knew most of the songs that Goffin and King wrote together but it was a complete surprise that their songs were performed by the Drifters. I knew about the Chiffons and Shirelles and even the Monkees.

There was a lot of humour and the play covers the years from when Carole first went to see Don Kirshner at 16 up until she released "Tapestry" in 1971. 

When I was a yoof it was seen as uncool to buy that album and "only girls" would buy it.  So it was a few years before I bought a copy on vinyl.  Have no idea where it is some forty plus years later.

One of the humorous parts is when Don says that he has a contract for songs for the Monkees. They ask who?  He says they are like the Beatles but they aren't a band. In fact they are a TV sitcom.  Everyone laughs.

In the end it was thoroughly entertaining evening.  

Motorcycle Diaries

I was sent a link to this site by a biking friend as an idea for routes and places to visit. So I thought it would be only fair to stick one of my own up there.

I chose Silnice 23 in the Czech Republic.  A route I have take on two occasions, once in each direction and about a year apart.


I added a couple of pix.  Not that I have many as I never thought I would need them and was always concentrating on riding!  

This one from 2004 with Claire and the GS in Zastávka u Brna or rather on the outside the village by the sign.

Update 4th April 2018

Since penning this posting I have visited the site a few times and added a few more routes that I have done and happy to share with others.  Not all of them are seat of the pants jobs but are pretty decent.

What would be much easier is if you could import gpx files from the satnavs, or at least have that as an option.  

Sometimes if you route touches one already there is effs up.  I tried to enter a route between the agritourism place we stayed in near Sorrento across to the Greek temples at Paestum.  As it takes in the Amalfi Coast Drive and that's already there my route wouldn't work. Needs work.

28 March 2018

MAG News - Daft Way Up!

The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG), the UK's leading voice for riders, will be hoping for good weather over the Easter weekend as riders set off on a lengthy fundraising trip.

Around twenty intrepid MAG members hope to embark on a week-long adventure entitled 'The Daft Way Up' to raise funds for MAG and Macmillan Cancer Support.  The trip will be self-funded, ridden on 'inappropriate' motorcycles and will take a week to complete.

Richard Manton, Yorkshire Regional Rep for MAG said: "We are inviting members to join us along the route on their own motorcycles (inappropriate or not) to support and highlight our efforts.  We will set off each day at 10.00 am from the following venues:

Sunday April 1st - Lands' End visitors centre, TR19 7AA
Monday April 2nd - Bishops Taejon Road, Barnstaple, EX32 0AX
Tuesday April 3rd - The Blacksmiths Arms, Lydney, GL15 6AU
Wednesday April 4th - Glossop Travelodge, SK13 8HT
Thursday April 5th - Haggs Bank Bunkhouse, Alston, CA9 3LH
Friday April 6th - Glenrothes Travelodge, KY7 6GH
Saturday April 7th - Inverness Fairways Travelodge, IV2 6AA

We hope to arrive at John O' Groats at approximately 2.00 pm on the final day.

If you can see us off, welcome us in or join in yourself at any point, it will be greatly appreciated. 

Anyone who does join in will be able to obtain a pair of 'Daft Way Up' stickers for a suggested donation of £5.00.  All support and donations will be very gratefully received."

One of the bikes on the trip will have a tracker fitted so it will be possible to see exactly where the DWU riders are at any point.  There will be a 'Daft Way Up Diary' posted on Facebook with daily updates and donations can be pledged via the donation page on Facebook; just Google 'daft way up' and follow the links.

 Donations will be split 50/50 between MAG and Macmillan Cancer Support.  Donate en-route to any of "The Dafties" or online at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/mag-daft-way-up

25 March 2018

Ightham Mote

Kent Big Weekend was today. We were up a little late as the clocks went forward and we lost an hour.

We are now on British Summer Time. Yay!

Picking my Aunt Yvonne up in Maidstone made for a slight detour and I left it to TomTom to work it. We had a nice trip across and around West Kent to find Ightham Mote. Unexpectedly we arrived from a different direction to the one I thought.

Once parked Claire and Yvonne went to have a look around the house and garden and Reggie and I took to one of the estate walks.  Reggie isn't allowed in the garden or the house.

Our walk took about 40 minutes of mixed terrain. We met a few other dogs on the walk and only had one small problem when a staffie cross made a few high speed passes all the while growling. Reggie returned the greeting.

The woods were full of primroses and we had a photo session by a bench hollowed out to be a bench.

After a sit down we navigated a few muddy bits of the path.  We were on a path signed "disabled" so I have no idea how that works!

The café was full when we got back to the entrance so I messaged Claire and we waited for them near the car.

From here I let TomTom take us to the Fox and Hounds for lunch.

Between us we had a steak and kidney pudding, cod steak and pork belly. All superb.

Then time to head back. Blindly allowing TomTom to route us. Some oddities but most were easily overriden by me.

Another lovely day.

24 March 2018

Insignia: Tyres Again

Wow. It's around a year since the Insignia needed new tyres on the front. This time it's the rears that needed replacing.

They have been on since I bought the car and in my care have done around 30000 miles.

I searched the net again and Asda came out cheapest as before. This time I opted for Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 100Y in the size 245/45R18.

At £253 fitted I had the guy put the fronts on the back and the new ones on the front.

Immediately the drive and feel is totally different. More confidence inspiring.

22 March 2018

Booking dot com

Booking.com - if you want to book hotels and aren't already signed up with them, please follow the link and sign up.  It's free to you.

MAG welcomes GLA Transport Committee bike safety report but slams.....

MAG welcomes GLA Transport Committee bike safety report but slams 'Third World roads in a First World capital'

The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) has praised the Greater London Authority (GLA) Transport Committee for their intelligent assessment of the shortcomings in London Mayor Sadiq Khan's attitude towards motorcycle safety in the city.

London's Regional Representative for MAG, Tim Fawthrop, clarifies the riding community's concerns: 'MAG has actively worked with Transport for London (TfL) and the GLA to assist with creating a coherent safety agenda for motorcycle and scooter riders. While some of the recommendations have been accepted, others have been either ignored or apparently agreed to but subsequently not actioned.

'For instance, the Urban Motorcycle Design Handbook, which was a great piece of work to which MAG actively contributed, appears to have created no urgency amongst TfL officers. In addition, the opening of all bus lanes to bikers across London is a proven life saver. Why haven't we seen any effort by TfL to persuade Boroughs to do that?

'Cycle schemes receive hundreds of millions of pounds in funding, even though their safety figures indicate far fewer fatalities and injuries than for motorcyclists. Yet TfL's own data shows that the fatality rate amongst motorcyclists in 2016 was four times greater than that for cyclists. Compared to just eight cycle users, thirty-three bikers lost their lives. Yet a number of the changes that TfL has implemented are making motorcycling riskier: for example, narrowing lanes so the perfectly legal process of filtering by motorbikes is made more dangerous. Also, the state of the road surface in places is shocking; something the Chair of the Committee, Keith Prince, and his team, have rightly included in the report. There are locations where we've got Third World roads in a First World capital.

'MAG once again offers to work with TfL to help secure the training, the road policy and to get the attitude towards the hundreds of thousands of bikers in the capital right. It's not difficult. They just have to listen to the advice they've repeatedly been given. They've done it for cyclists. If they're serious about Londoners' lives, they'll do what it takes to reduce the unacceptably large number of motorcyclists' lives which are being lost too. To not do so is a breach of their duty of care towards an economically important community of road users in London.'

Beer52 - March Selection

Probably not the cheapest way to buy beer, but it does give the opportunity to try beers that are not generally available in shops and supermarkets.

I cancelled the February delivery as I was way behind with the December and January packs.  They have all gone and so now we are expecting March to arrive any day now.

Looks like another international batch!

21 March 2018

Please help us get the Government get a better deal regarding lowering emissions

Please help us get the Government get a better deal regarding lowering emissions.

Dear FairFuelUK Supporter

Why is the Dept of Environment and Department for Transport ignoring and not recommending, or even putting into legislation, the implementation of effective proven ways to lower vehicle emissions. These practical solutions are here now. Favouring instead, hitting hard working families, motorists, van drivers and the haulage industry harshly with a quick and easy cash grab.

Please complete our critical driver's poll. The results of this poll and its magnitude of response will be delivered to the salient Government Ministers and the media. It really is time to stand up for drivers across the UK, before more draconian policies are inflicted on all of us for the sake of 'looking green' but at the same time not improving air quality.

If you want to first read our background to the survey, please CLICK HERE

Government responded to “Ban the sale of puppies by pet shops & all commercial 3rd party dealers.”

The Government has responded to the petition you signed – "Ban the sale of puppies by pet shops & all commercial 3rd party dealers.".

Government responded:

The Government has published wide reaching reforms of the controls on pet selling which includes a call for evidence on a ban on all commercial third party sales of puppies and kittens in England.

New controls on dog breeding and pet selling in England require all licensed dog breeders and licensed sellers of all pet animals, including sellers who are not also breeders, to adhere to enhanced strict statutory minimum welfare standards linked to the animals' welfare needs set out in the Animal Welfare Act 2006. 

The controls prohibit the sale of puppies, kittens, ferrets or rabbits below eight weeks of age. This is also supported by changes to Defra's statutory Dog Welfare Code which provides guidance aimed at dog owners.

The controls require any licensed pet seller advertising pets for sale to include their licence number in the advert as well as identifying the local authority that issued it, a photo of the pet, its age, country of residence and country of origin. This will help people identify pets offered for sale from unlicensed sellers including those based abroad

They require the sale of a dog to be completed in the presence of the purchaser on the premises where the licensed seller or licensed breeder has been keeping the dog, thereby banning online sales by licensed sellers and breeders. 

They also ensure licensed dog breeders must show puppies alongside their mother before a sale is made and only sell puppies they have bred themselves. 

In addition to these controls, the Government has issued a call for evidence on banning all commercial third party sales of puppies and kittens in England. Evidence has been requested by 2 May 2018.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Click this link to view the response online: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/213451?reveal_response=yes

This petition has over 100,000 signatures. The Petitions Committee will consider it for a debate. They can also gather further evidence and press the government for action.

The Committee is made up of 11 MPs, from political parties in government and in opposition. It is entirely independent of the Government. 

Find out more about the Committee: https://petition.parliament.uk/help#petitions-committee


The Petitions Team
UK Government and Parliament

20 March 2018

Kent Big Weekend

Every year as a way of increasing tourism in Kent, the tourist authorities organise the Kent Big Weekend.

Attractions from stately homes to zoo park to heritage railways are all available with free entry for the weekend.  Each available by ballot.

Some of the places would usually cost good money and others only a few pounds. Plus some have very few tickets like Port Lympne Animal Park and others loads. 

In typical human avarice the "expensive" sites are very over subscribed and others have just about got all their tickets taken.

I tried for quite a few across a range. Mostly places we've never been before. Last year neither Claire or I were successful.

This time I got an email to say we had tickets for Ightham Mote.

We are members of the National Trust already and so free tickets for two people  to one of the sites isn't that big a deal.

There is an option to return the tickets and dip into the returns bin for an alternative but by the time I was able to login there was nothing left.

So the plan on Sunday 25th is to pick up my Aunt Yvonne and get over in time for opening at 11am. She is also an NT member.

Ightham Mote is dog friendly so we can take Reggie too. He can't go in the buildings themselves but he can go in the gardens and on the estate walks.

Good enough for me.

And then what? Lunch. A check on Doggiepubs.com found a few pubs in the area but oddly a few either had no food on Sunday or just "crisps and peanuts".

So in the end I have opted for the Fox and Hounds at nearby Toys Hill. Looks nice and is oddly in another NT area and one we have never been to before.

Hopefully as spring ought to have sprung by then we will have a pleasant day out.

Pictures and review later.

18 March 2018

Whitstable Easter Egg Run

Saturday we had more snow. Although we didn't get too much but what we did have froze overnight before it got topped up.

On top of that I had an overnight pukathon that left me feeling pretty shoddy.

So I didn't go. The run actually went ahead with a vastly reduced turnout due to the awful weather.

At least today I should have lost weight (!) as I have not eaten.

7 March 2018

TomTom 410 - Update

I connected the TomTom for the first time in a few months and it said there were three updates to install.

Two of them were map sets, Europe v10.05 and USA v10.05 plus the little fixes that are the community fixes.

I let it download all of them and that came to about 12gb. That bit took about an hour with a few hiccups with the internet dropping out. 

And then it seems to have ground to a halt.  At 100% download it sat for over an hour "checking". In the end I stopped it and started it again and it started to do the updates. This time I was able to untick the USA maps update as they aren't going to be needed this year.

The update of just Europe and the fixes came up to take about an hour.

Then it came up to say there were two updates, another community jobbie and the USA still outstanding from the earlier run through.

I ticked that as well and it took another hour, at least it had the USA maps already downloaded.

So after about 5 hours I had all the updates downloaded and installed.


5 March 2018

MAG calls on riders to join holey crusade

The Motorcycle Action Group calls on riders to use National Pothole Day on March 8th 2018 to get local authorities to fill holes and save lives.

MAG is inviting all riders to highlight holes in the road on National Pothole Day: March 8th 2018. MAG's Director of Campaigns & Political Engagement, Colin Brown, asks bikers to 'make a simple call to the Council or send an email about the road damage you've noticed – and which could cost lives.' Colin is determined to hold local authorities accountable for providing safe road surfaces: 'bikers are a hardy lot, but that won't prevent dangerous accidents because of holes in the road. Hospital treatment is far more costly than fixing a pothole. We're determined to work with the authorities to ensure road-related accidents are prevented before they happen.'

It's worth noting that adverse weather conditions wreck badly repaired potholes, making the investment pointless and the repair potentially more dangerous than it was in the first place. Frost fractures a poor repair, making it an accident waiting to happen. By contrast, a good repair leads to a lasting improvement to the road surface and doesn't need repeated maintenance.

Colin adds, 'MAG asks you to take two minutes to tell your local authority about troublesome irregularities in the road. It's essential to preventing spills. If we don't tell them, they won't know. If we do tell them, then they've got a responsibility to act. It's as simple as that. Let's help ourselves by giving them the information they need to stop avoidable – and potentially life-threatening – accidents.

It's common sense and easy to do.' Find out who to contact by calling your local authority, or follow this link:


You can learn more about National Pothole Day at:


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


In Kent where I live, the direct URL



Amazon - Missing Goods

I know it was a little impersonal buying stuff for Claire's birthday from Amazon. My standard present is earrings. 

When you do use a company like Amazon, you trust that what you have bought arrives when they say and actually does arrive.

So imagine my horror (Yes I am traumatised - not really) and angered to find that when the delivery made it through the snow and not quite next day or the one after with Amazon Prime, that someone had stolen the earrings!

The packaging was the standard folded over cardboard with two fold-in flaps at each end. Neither of these flaps are secured but are superb for trapping a CD/DVD case or a standard paperback, but not a small jewellery box.  

I was out at the time of delivery and so was Claire, so it was delivered to my next door neighbour who takes in all kinds of stuff for us.  We are very much the cause of local shops going bust.... Guilty as charged.

She noticed that one of the flaps looked flattened down and she could see in that the little box was in there.

When we opened it we found that the little box was there and it was empty.  Sans jewellery! 

Once I had calmed down I logged into my Amazon account and logged a call to say that the package had been tampered with.  As you can't supply any evidence, I located their Facebook page and laid into them with the picture above and one of the packaging.  That was Saturday evening. 

The FB people came back and said to log it as a call from my account. Easily enough done but no dropdown box for Stolen/Theft....

I had already done that and applied for a refund thinking that even though I don't expect lightning to strike twice,  I'd manually check shops.  

This morning I got an email (sent yesterday evening) from them to say that they apologised and they had ordered a new set to be sent.  I have to return the packaging and the empty box. Postage paid.

So.  Angry that someone in the delivery chain between Amazon and my house had stolen the goods, but pleased at their quick response. 

Let's ride the lightning and see what happens.

4 March 2018


So after last week's debacle and gutless performance against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup Final at Wembley and the follow up Premier League game with the same opposition, and the same 3-0 scoreline, I had expected that when Sunday came around again and Arsenal were playing away on the south coast against lowly (!) Brighton and Hove Albion, that there would be a sea change in the performance.


It was a case of  "same shit, different day".

Gutless and outplayed by Brighton. They deserved what they got and I feel for the travelling supporters that went down there for the game. Two-nil down after 25 minutes due to terrible defending and ineffective slow build up in attack/offence. Whatever the Brighton game plan was it was working.

Some glimmer of hope when Aubamayang flicked the ball into the Brighton net after 42 minutes was soon extinguished when the second half followed the same script.

Our venerable manager was rooted for most of the game to his seat seemingly unable to muster a damn for the woeful performance on the field. Offering no insight to the tactics that might turn the game around.

Time to go Arsene.  Time is up. Go soon whilst your legacy isn't completely tarnished.


1 March 2018

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