31 July 2019

Insignia - knackered

The day before we are due to set off on holiday, this pops up.

Oddly, a few days before we went in holiday last year it threw the timing belt and me and the RAC man managed to get it back on. My neighbour John has a garage and they checked it over. Just in time.

Of course it's not due a service. Only having done 4000 miles since it was done in February.

I rang Caffyns and they say it is not only that but they need to see it. I have it booked in on August 12th when we get back from Devon.

Luckily we have Claire's Corsa. It's much smaller but we will have to see that we can squeeze in.

posted from Bloggeroid

28 July 2019

JS Day - over

The day was a success. We had told John as little as he needed to know. 

John and his Suzuki

As I said before he was expecting just me and Neill, that was my subterfuge. Neill was never going.

Then Tony Taylor said he'd drive and collect John, but we kept the rest quiet.

In the end there were seven of us "Old SOC" members. With more joining the FB group we can do better next time.

I didn't get chance to chat about my GT with John and so I need to get cracking on my jobs. And then get back to him.

In the end the turnout was: me, Tony Taylor, Mark Powell, Phil Hingert, Dave & Ronnie Hebblethwaite, and of course, John Storrie.

Tony took a group photo so sadly not in it!

LtoR: Mark, Dave, Ronnie, John, Paul & Phil

As above. Tony replaces Phil.

The museum is well worth a visit. As a senior citizen I got in for £12.50. The museum covers the entire history of the British Motor industry. Plus a couple of old bikes. 

Some sections cover the land speed attempts by MG and racing cars that saw Jackie Stewart as world F1 champion.

Of course. Where it is, there are Jaguars.

This link takes you to my Flickr album. With some interesting cars.

TomTom stats.

So where to next time?

27 July 2019

JS Day - British Motor Museum

The plan was to ride up to Oxfordshire to visit John Storrie, my old buddy from the Suzuki Owners Club. 

We first met about 1980 at a SOC event and after I bought my GT in 1984 we came closer. 

Plus. Although written out of history, John and me along with Dave Greenhalgh and Graham Walker saved the SOC, in 1983,  from going tits up. At an EGM to wind up the club we stood up. John took over as Membership Secretary and me as Editor.

The plan was to ride up to the motor museum near Warwick and meet John. It was kept a secret from him at first and I tried to get other Old SOCers along as a surprise.

Both plans defeated by the weather and people emigrating or sick!

After record breaking temps the weather turned wet. Very wet. Thunderstorms. Lightning. Floods!

So instead of three hours each way on the bike, I will take the car.

Why International? We had hoped that other old buddy David Gearhart may have been over from the US and able to pop in for a few hours.

So tomorrow it is!

26 July 2019

Charity of the Year

Most years I choose a charity and have stuck with it for a year.

Last year I read about Dogs on the Street. A local charity caring for homeless people and their dogs.

I am very jaded when it comes to corporate charities that have been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Or sit on millions rather than using the money "we" have donated.

Or worse. The charities with huge staffs and senior staff on six figure salaries. That's six figures to the left of the decimal point.

Have a look and donate.

Money going to the cause and not in huge salaries. 

No "celebs" or "comedians" trying to appear relevant or reviving flagging careers on a telethon. 

Do it!!!!!!!!!!!!

Car brakes sorted

When the Insignia had its MoT in February the test showed that apparently my front brakes were at 80% worn. 

I've not had them done in the five years I have owned it so I thought that the remaining 20% should last another year.

As we are having a staycation this year with a thousand miles of driving (approx) I decided to get them done.

Dropped it off at Fairways in Dymchurch and they are done.

I could do them for myself and have done over the years but I'm sure Claire feels safer with it done professionally!    

Weather record almost broken

Phew. The hottest day of the year turned out to not quite beat the UK record although some local records were broken.

As a pair of large islands off the coast of Europe we jut out into the North Atlantic. This makes UK and Ireland a temperate climate.

Unless we get the Spanish or Moroccan Plume (Google it) we generally get temps in the mid 20's (centigrade) with the occasional hot days. Those inhabitants of places like Arizona probably don't recognise this as hot.

So as I was watching the cricket test match on TV, Reggie needed keeping cool.

So out came the paddling pool. 

Cooling down

He loves to stand in it to cool down. Lucky boy.

23 July 2019

No work 'til September

Press Release - MAG expresses disappointment with the DfT 2019 Road Safety Statement

The Department for Transport (DfT) published its 2019 Road Safety Statement and 2-year action plan on 19th July.  The Motorcycle Action Group has been critical of what it sees as a lack of substance and ambition for motorcyclists' safety.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling described the action plan as "a key milestone in our road safety work".  Including seventy four action points, the DfT describe the document as a major package of measures to reduce the number of people killed and injured on roads.  In the foreword to the report, Road Safety Minister Michael Ellis states that the majority of their work for the next two years and respective actions are focused on the Department's four priority road user groups - Young Road Users, Rural Road Users, Motorcyclists and Older Vulnerable Road Users.

The eight specific action points for motorcyclists are:
•       Continue to promote the importance of helmets and their correct usage through the DfT SHARP programme.
•       In response to a consultation, DVSA will explore the possibility of developing a package of measures to improve the motorcycle training regime once Parliamentary time allows.
•       Promote DVSA's Enhanced Rider Scheme and increase the uptake of post-test motorcycle training.
•       Develop a training framework/syllabus to encourage riders who complete CBT but do not go on to take full test training to undertake further training.
•       Work with the motorcycle industry to explore how to encourage the use of protective equipment, and furthermore explore the scope for new protective equipment for vulnerable road users that can reduce post-crash collision severity.
•       Commission a review of the behaviour of drivers and riders in The Gig Economy.
•       Highways England to deliver safety advice to leisure riders.
•       Funding RoSPA to deliver an online guide on how to organise and conduct group motorcycle ride-outs.

Commenting on the report MAG's Director of Campaigns & Political Engagement, Colin Brown, commented:  "I have not had time to fully digest the report, but on the surface this appears to be yet another disappointing demonstration of the absence of real passion when it comes to motorcycling.  The action points are simply more of the same or, worse still, promises to take action 'when parliamentary time allows'. This is simply not good enough.  Where are the fresh ideas? Where is the urgency?  If the safety of motorcyclists really is a priority, make parliamentary time."

Director of Communications & Public Affairs, Lembit Ӧpik, said "Honestly, I think a bunch of bikers spending an evening in the pub could have come up with an action plan that would have greater impact than this so-called package.  We need the road safety community to take a step back and agree to really commit to motorcycle safety rather than just issuing a few more advice leaflets."

Colin Brown pointed out: "Just the other day the DVSA revealed the top ten reasons for car drivers to fail their test.  The top two were drivers failing to look properly at junctions and not using mirrors when changing lanes.  The same release admitted that 39% of accidents are the result of a driver failing to look properly.  As vulnerable road users we need to see real action to raise the standards of driving; simply focusing on training and safety gear for the victim is not going to cut it."

18 July 2019

Book Review - Jack Be Nimble by Adam Croft

Jack Be Nimble (Knight & Culverhouse, #3)Jack Be Nimble by Adam Croft

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another Ripper...

Another good read for the train to work and back. The Jack character had me fooled. I thought it was the profiler. It goes to show no matter how many mysteries you read and how many movies you can watch, the best ones are where you can't tell whodunit.

View all my reviews

13 July 2019


First game of the pre-season for me. 

Folkestone Invicta at home to Gillingham aka The Gills.

The Gills are in EFL League 1. This is the 3rd tier in the English football pyramid. Invicta are in the 7th.

The gulf in quality was so much in evidence. Even though the Gills started with a mixture of first team and young players, plus there loans included a lad from Premier League AFC Bournemouth, Invicta had their chances that were sadly squandered. 

In the end a scoreline of 4-0 to the visitors wasn't that bad considering the gulf in league positions.

12 July 2019

Press Release - Proposed Heathrow ULEZ will charge older motorcycles

The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) has expressed anger on discovering that the proposed Heathrow Ultra Low Emission Zone (HULEZ) will include a charge on older motorcycles.

Proposals for a charge for more polluting vehicles driving to London's Heathrow Airport terminals were announced in May this year.  Despite the press reports suggesting that the HULEZ would mirror Sadiq Khan's Ultra Low Emissions Zone, there was no readily available information to confirm whether the charge would affect motorcycles.

MAG's Director of Communications & Public Affairs, Lembit Opik, commented: "It would seem unlikely to anyone with an ounce of common sense that a charge on road vehicles will do anything to reduce overall emissions in anything approaching a meaningful way when opening an entire new runway at Heathrow Airport.  Despite this, Heathrow seem intent on virtue signalling their way through a consultation on this very idea.  Imagine our disgust, therefore, when we discovered that the plan even proposes to repeat Khan's basic error of charging a transport mode proven to help reduce emissions.  How many pre-Euro3 motorcycles do they think it would take to emit the same amount of NOx as an Airbus A320?!"

Director of Campaigns & Political Engagement, Colin Brown said:  "The proposal to include pre-Euro3 motorcycles in this daft scheme was hidden deep – very deep.  In fact it was buried so deep that we had to specifically ask for confirmation on the subject.  The response shocked me.  Yes, Heathrow are proposing to exactly copy the London Mayor's illogical policy on motorcycles.  They seem somewhat embarrassed about this though, as the reference to motorcycles is hidden away in a single table of emissions standards buried on page 229 of a 444 page 'Surface Access Proposals' document.

"Needless to say MAG will be making a formal response to the consultation, and we encourage all bikers to follow suit.  There is simply no justification for this charge to be imposed."

The consultation can be accessed via the Heathrow consultation website:

The consultation covers an enormous amount of detail on a host of different subjects including:

  • a Preferred Masterplan for expansion;
  • plans to operate the future airport;
  • preliminary assessment of the effects of the airport's growth;
  • plans to manage the effects of expansion.

If you only wish to respond on the particular issue of the proposed HULEZ, MAG recommends that you use the email response option by emailing your comments to feedback@heathrowconsultation.com.  

The closing date for the consultation is 13th September 2019.

Amazon Fire 7

So my on and off love hate relationship with the Fire 7 continues.

I bought it as a Christmas present to myself to replace my ancient Kindle that had decided enough was enough and it refused to charge and when it did, it would no longer connect to the internet to download new books.

Generally the Fire has been okay. But. It has a major fault that despite contacting Amazon for assistance is still happening. Not all the time, but enough to be very annoying.

I can download a book from my library. I can read it. The next time I want to carry on reading it shows in the folder, but errors saying I don't have the right to read it. I have to delete and re-download. Annoying at home with WiFi but not good sitting on a train to work!

The other problem is that the book simply disappears from the downloaded folder and we go through above again.

Oddly, re-downloaded books 99% of the time remember where I was when last read!

After three occasions this month already I am back to the Nexus 7!!!

Maybe Amazon will come up with a solution?

8 July 2019

"Computer" Specs

Specs is short for spectacles not specifications.

Gradually I have noticed that at work I have to lean forward ire to be able to work on my laptop.

Reading glasses are totally useless as they are set at a distance ideal for reading a book in your hand. 

The screen on my laptop is further away than that but not in the range of my distance glass prescription I need for driving and riding.

So, £55 invested with Specsavers and hopefully the problem of blurred working will be sorted.

4 July 2019

Press Release - MAG demands that TfL investigate the reasons for higher risks for London motorcyclists.

The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) has revealed its own analysis into the “safety in numbers” concept and, in the process, uncovered some uncomfortable truths.

The Motorcycle Action Group has been working on analysis of motorcycle casualty statistics in England.  The purpose of the analysis was to establish evidence for the widely accepted belief that there is a safety in numbers effect applicable to motorcyclists as much as cyclists.  The theory is that higher numbers of cyclists or motorcyclists on the road actually results in reduced risk of collisions due to increased awareness of the vulnerable road users by other road users.

MAG’s Director of Campaigns & Political Engagement, Colin Brown explains: “We analysed at a regional and local authority level the proportion of total casualties in comparison with the prevalence of the two vulnerable road user groups in the transport mix, looking at varying levels of modal share in varying locations as well as changes in casualty share as modal share has changed over time.

The most startling revelation from the research turned out not to be in the safety in numbers results, which can be seen, but actually in the stark contrasts between trends in London compared to other regions.  It is clear that over time the prevalence of motorcycles and pedal cycles has been very similar in all areas except London where the prevalence of pedal cycles is increasing at a faster rate than for motorcycles.  The shocking thing, however, is that the proportion of casualties is similar and generally converging throughout the country except - again - for London where the proportions are very clearly diverging, with cycling becoming safer while motorcycling is becoming less safe.”

Reacting to the revelations, MAG’s Director of Communications & Public Affairs, Lembit Opik, said “Transport for London have adopted a Vision Zero aspiration to eliminate all road deaths, but this evidence shows that there is a clear imbalance between these two transport modes… and it’s getting worse.  It cannot be right to continually improve safety for one road user group whilst ignoring or, as we are now seeing, increasing the risks for another group.  TfL claim to want to reduce all road casualties, so why are we not seeing improvements in the statistics for motorcyclists?  We need TfL to investigate and to take action to reverse this trend immediately.”

These revelations follow similar findings from widely reported analysis by Swinton Insurance, which showed that London is the most dangerous region for motorcyclists in the UK.

Colin Brown remarked “The Swinton analysis shows a 5% decline in the number of collisions involving motorbikes nationally between 2016 and 2017, but an 8% rise in London.  We would caution against adopting the standard approach of suggesting that it is the behaviour of London’s riders that causes this anomaly.  It would seem inconceivable that if all London riders did a month long exchange visit to the West Midlands and vice versa, that the statistics would dramatically change for that month.  The riding environment being created in the capital is, undeniably, very different to that in other parts of the country.  I believe that this environmental difference is the most obvious place to start looking for explanations, and would like to see TfL making this a top priority.”

Vice Chair of MAG, Andy Carrott, stated “We welcome improvements in cycle safety but fear that the impact of some policies, introduced to achieve these gains for cyclists, has not been fully considered.  Other vulnerable road users, motorcyclists in particular, may have been placed at increased risk.  We request that TfL provide evidence that the two trends in casualties are not causally linked but, more importantly, we urge TfL to take steps to reverse the trend in PTW casualties without restricting their use.”

2 July 2019

Book Review - Guilty as Sin by Adam Croft

Guilty as Sin (Knight & Culverhouse, #2)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where to start? It was like going back to the 70's and the Sweeney. Old time coppers that have no need for the niceties of modern life but get results. If you need to slap the accused about a bit, then don't leave any marks. Jack Reagan would be proud of Culverhouse

Women coppers are fluff and Knight seems to smile her way through it all and get the job done as well.

That said. Both books 1 & 2 have been a good read and I may download the next one in the series to my Kindle .... depending on how much? I'm a cheapskate.

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