Sunday, 30 September 2018

Dead Brexit Sketch

It's really amusing listening to the die-hard, Brexit dogmatists on the radio and in the media trying to make a silk purse  from the sow's ear that Brexit was predicted by 'experts' to become - and has, indeed, manifestly become. We are regaled on a daily basis with mythical opportunities which, when analysed, are nothing but hot air, wishful thinking, flights of fancy having no basis in reality, or minor, genuine opportunities, extrapolated beyond all bounds of pragmatic feasibility.

Interestingly enough, there's a news report that says 3 in 5 Britons believe in miracles. They'd have to, if they thought Brexit could be a success story.  One is reminded of King Canute trying to command the waves (however, he was trying to make a point, contrary to popular belief), or the Monty Python Dead Brexit sketch.....

Saturday, 29 September 2018


A few weeks ago I saw a large sign on the common advertising an evening,  home plumbing course. It turned out to be my neighbour, Dave, who can only be described as a consulting plumber and all-round genius; there's nothing he can't turn his hand to. At £60 for 6 x 2 hr sessions, I signed up and the first session was on Wednesday evening.

Dave started with water regulations and I learned a few things.

  1. The Statutory Instrument (Law) on domestic water installations comprises 13 pages and is very simple to understand; the guidance, written for the government by an independent organisation, comprises 79 pages.
  2. If you have to replace a hot water tank heating element, ensure you get a titanium one.
  3. The chances are that the fibre washer for that old element is made of asbestos.
  4. If the new element comes with a fibre washer, the chances  are quite high that that also is made of asbestos - the law was never changed.
  5. Don't buy a water softener as they're not good for you or the piping. Instead buy a water conditioner.
  6. Whereas a plumber of old was a jack-of-all-trades, over-regulation and the cost of obtaining licences has fragmented the trade such that you need several different plumbers to accomplish a task, as a plumber rarely has enough money to obtain all the necessary licences. 
  7. The old CORGI scheme was a bit of a rip-off. The new scheme that replaced it (Gas Safe) is run by Capita.
  8. Standards setting and regulatory bodies concerned with plumbing are riddled with vested interests.

Friday, 28 September 2018

The Good Old NHS II

I was 2nd on the list for my thumbotomy operation yesterday morning and out of hospital by 13:30. However the head transplant had complications - the head rejected me and the original had to be reattached, much to Hay's chagrin.

From start to finish - Zimbabwean nurse, Irish registrar (southern, by his accent), Greek and Asian student medics, Spanish nurse, two more Zimbabwean nurses, English anaesthetist, black British surgeon. Where would we be without these wonderful people?

Apparently my thumb was nearly ripped off and there was more soft tissue damage than at first thought, so as you can see, they gave me a replacement, blue-foam arm instead. 3 months for a complete recovery, although it will soak up water for the rest of my life...

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Thumbs Up for Star Trek Bond

Watched the last episode of Bodyguard on iPlayer last night. Now James Bond is meant to be Scottish, so could Michael Madden be the next Bond?

Bodyguard's writer, Jed Mercurio, should also be given a Bond script to write.

Regarding the Skripal poisoning case, I can exclusively reveal that the poisoners are actually time-travelling crew from the USS Enterprise.

The uniforms are a dead give-away.

Hopefully I'll have my thumbotomy today. I shall resist asking when the're bringing the MRSA trolley around or asking whether Quacks is an accurate representation of the NHS...

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

The Good Old NHS

Duly attended the plastics unit at Southmead Hospital at 09:30 yesterday for my dislocated thumb. On the way I spotted a new hotel being built in Filton.

If you know Filton, an hotel called the "Village Hotel" is a piss-take - Filton is the most heavily industrialised area of Bristol, being the engineering epicentre (Airbus, RR, etc.).

I was was seen immediately on arrival. A registrar surgeon said that I indeed had a torn ligament and I could have an operation that day. An appointment was made for 14:00. We were told that if an emergency came in or there were complications with operations before mine, then we could end up getting bumped - which is fair enough.

Went home and returned by 13:30. At 15:00 we were given our own preparation room where I changed and answered some pre-op questions. The nurses asked what I was in for and I said I'd come for a head transplant, which caused some hilarity. Then we waited, and waited, and waited. We were given several updates throughout the day, but apparently and emergency came in there were complications with the op before mine.

The anaesthetist had seen us around 17:00 and asked for my height and weight to determine the right dose of GA. I said my weight was 78 Kg when I came in, but it was now 75 Kg, as I hadn't eaten all day.

At 19:30 the surgeon from the morning consultation came to see us and told me there was no chance for that day, but I could reschedule for 07:30 on Thursday; the patient immediately before me had suffered breathing problems which had extended her operation by an extraordinary length. It's just one of those things.

I'm one of those people who can't just sit patiently doing nothing for hours on end in a 4m x 4m room. If I'm not doing anything, the only alternative is sleeping/ It's such a pity that when you're waiting for an operation they can't put you in an induced coma while you're waiting. 

I certainly can't complain - surgery is unpredictable - and I was surprised that I had the chance of having the operation the same day. It's not a highly efficient production line where you know, to the second, what's going to happen next. The poor woman before me was fighting for her life, but the surgeon told me I'd be surprised at the number of people who complain vociferously about the wait and in the main they're elderly, precisely the cohort that are most unpredictable to operate on because they present the greatest number of age-related complications.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Immigrants Swamping A&E

Yesterday I dislocated my thumb, and damned painful it was too. This is an X-ray of my hand viewed edge-on. I had a local anaesthetic and air/gas during the realignment procedure and didn't feel a thing - in fact the medic was quite surprised at how easily it slipped back into position. However, there's a codicil to that, but later, and it's by-the-by.

While talking to the paramedics who came to the house after Hay called the 111 number, I learned something very pertinent to all this talk of our NHS being swamped with immigrants. Apparently anyone who provides a service, whether that be private or public, is so afraid of litigation and ambulance-chasing solicitors that their first response on someone having an accident, either at work, school or whatever, is to send the victim to Accident and Emergency at the local hospital to cover their arse.

No bloody wonder Accident and Emergency departments are overwhelmed. Even a cough is enough to send some to the local hospital - common sense and the watch-and-wait philosophy that was prevalent decades ago seem to have flown out of the window.

The paramedic recounted one example where he attended a child at a school where the parent was asked to sign an statement by the headmistress to the effect that she did not intend to send the child concerned to Accident and Emergency, so as to absolve the school of any responsibility.

Back to the thumb. I have to attend our local hospital's plastics unit today as the procedure to realign my thumb was only 80-90% successful; the joint insists on subluxing, which was why it was so easily put back into place. It may well be something to do with the fact my thumbs are double jointed or I may have torn the ligaments and require a splint for a while - or even surgery. Naturally that means no bike riding or Rollerblading for some weeks. It might also mean no blogging for a while; I'm typing this with one hand, the other being swathed in bandages to keep the thumb as immobile as possible. Given the angle of the dislocation, ligament damage seems highly likely - if you ask me.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Old Yeller Tales

Managed to fix a waterproof USB connection to the Old Yeller yesterday, without drilling a hole in the fairing or having unsightly cable ties all over the place. I have a phone RAM-Grip on order (again from China and due to arrive next week), which actually includes a USB connection, but I thought that if I connect a separate one under the seat (which is a locked compartment), connected direct to the battery, rather than the lights, it would enable me to leave my phone safely on charge whenever I parked the bike. So, two USB connections - one somewhere in front as part of the phone holder and connected to the lighting circuit - the lights being on when I'm riding the bike - and another locked away under the seat for when parked, but nevertheless needing to charge my, or Hay's phone.

Managed to snaffle a nice tank bag on Facebook market, which was rather sad looking when I bought it for £10 - manky as hell and a bit mouldy. Some soap powder and bleach spray brought it up like new. Unfortunately it's a magnetic one for metal tanks, whereas my tank is plastic - there's no way I'm Supergluing magnets or metal strips on Old Yeller. Easily fixed, however, with some additional webbing and quick-release buckles I've ordered from eBay for under a tenner.

It's an Oxford Sport Lifetime Luggage item; there are another two smaller bags that go with this one, zipping one on top of another to form a pyramid, one of them doubling as a small backpack. Must have been quite expensive when new. Might eventually go for a Quick-Lock system that goes on the tank filling ring, but the bags fitted with this device are an arm and a leg. I suppose I could buy a ratty, 2nd hand one off eBay and adapt the Quick-Lock so it fits on the yellow bag.

Until I sort out a permanent home for the bike, it's languishing in a shed at the top of the garden, about 100m away from the house and all my tools. Yesterday's little job took 10 times longer than it should have done as I had to do innumerable trips up and down the garden to get all the required tools. "Oh, I need an Allen key," so a trip up and down the garden. "Now I need a pair of scissors," and another trip up and down, etc, etc. Might end up simply taking the shed apart and moving it near the house.

First chance for some fun yesterday, once the sun came out.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Diesel Rock

I inadvertently committed a cardinal sin the other day - I put diesel in a petrol car. Luckily I realised the error at about £18 worth of diesel. I immediately filled the tank with £52 worth of petrol to dilute it. Didn't seem to have any deleterious effect on the engine, or its performance, although it might dirty the plugs.

Putting diesel in a petrol car is the lesser evil and, if it's a reasonably small amount and is immediately diluted with a much larger quantity of petrol (twice or more times the amount of diesel), one tank isn't likely to do irreparable damage. Petrol in a diesel car is an engine killer and requires the tank emptying before firing up the engine.

So Chas of Chas and Dave has died. Chas and Dave are celebrated for producing what has been termed Cockney Rock, or Cock Rock for short - a rather unfortunate term.

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Self-Service Battle Vest

Before going to bed last night we watched a bit of Die Hard. Whenever Bruce Willis strips down to his trademark Battle Vest, you know something is about to kick off.

Self-service supermarket tills - do you use them? The queues at them can be as long, if not longer, than at the manned tills. Invariably several people, usually pensioners, are faffing about in some trouble or other, which adds to the time to get through them. Not only that, but they mean someone, if not several people, have been put out of a job. They're not exactly a competitive advantage as far as customer service is concerned, though they may feasibly lead to cheaper prices; however, I suspect they're more of a ploy to boost revenue for the supermarket. Lidl seems to do well without them.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Gurning Gregg & Lotus JPS

Last night we watched a few minutes of Masterchef by accident. It's not something we have watched for years - Hay calls it Mastershout. You can see why Gregg Wallace is television gold; when he's questioning contestants about what they have prepared there are alternating shots of the contestant talking and Gregg making facial contortions that remind me of a gurning contest. On looking up 'Gregg Wallace facial expressions' on Google. I discovered he's noted for it.

I had occasion yesterday to sit in a Mini Mayfair and it was like sitting in a chair at a London gentleman's club. Loved the retro leather look.

It was somewhat akin to sitting in an old Wolesley Hornet. I had a Wolesley Hornet in the 70s Originally it was white, but I had it resprayed black and gold and put gold pinstriping on it, thus giving it a Lotus JPS livery to add a bit of pizzazz - God knows why. I ended up totalling it on Gladstone Dock in Liverpool on the last day of a radar course. The sump hit a grid and I bent nearly every panel on the car.

My mum had bought me the car as she was worried about the deathtraps I was driving, which were held together by sheets of metal from empty tins and body filler. She phoned me at college to say she'd bought me a 'mini, but not a mini' - she wasn't very conversant with car marques - and I spent the next few days in a very excited state thinking she'd bought me a Mini Marcos, or at the very least a Mini Jem. No, she's bought me the most pedestrian version of a standard mini, albeit with a walnut dash and plush, leather seats - 2nd hand, of course. I wasted no time in trying to improve its looks to give it a bit more street-cred, hence the Lotus JPS colours.

The difference couldn't have been more stark, although a few Lotus JPS minis were actually produced.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Poppy Subjects

I was listening to some radio station other than radio 4 today - one which played pop music. It struck me that the vast majority of pop music is about young love, which covers a very brief span of a person's life, yet seems to be the most creative and appealing period for the purposes of pop songs. No wonder the vast majority of pop stars don't last that long - they get married and have to face reality.

You never hear songs about divorce (however, lost love can feature in pop songs and Phil Collins was at his most creative when he split from his wife), the problems of parenthood, the death of loved ones (although Mike Rutherford was one of the very few who a good stab at that subject), the tribulations of home ownership and mortgages or the medical complaints one gets as one ages, such as one's first hip replacement or the onset of incontinence.  I suppose any songs covering the aforementioned would come under the blues genre, rather than pop.

New helmet and hands-free arrived yesterday. Had hours of fun fitting the hands-free (the little box on the lower right), but still can't figure out how to hide the wires without half destroying the helmet lining. The colour of the helmet is almost exactly the same shade as the Strontium Yellow of the bike.

The hands-free actually works, much to my surprise, but I have to remember a plethora of controls to switch between music, FM radio, intercom and simple phone answering - all with my hands encased in thick gloves. Good grief - I have enough trouble remembering where my keys are, never mind half a dozen different ways of instructing the hands-free with taps to a button.

The waterproof USB charging connection also arrived but, naturally, there were no wires supplied for the cable run to the battery. While it would be aesthetically pleasing to put the connection on the bike fairing, I don't really want to drill holes in it and there's not really enough space behind it to accommodate the shank, so I have decided on a cable-tie solution in an out-of-the-way position where it's not obviously seen.

Just the boots left to arrive now, which should come today and in time for a nice day, weatherwise, tomorrow. The weekend, however, is looking to be a washout and thus the bike won't see the light of day.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Biscuit Dogs

What do you think when you see a bloke walking one or two miniscule dogs? My immediate thought is that they're either his wife's and he's a bit hen-pecked, or they're a child substitute. Thinking about it though, they can't be child substitutes as dogs are loving, faithful, can be trained very easily to obey commands and will continue to love you even if you kick them. To be child substitutes they'd need to be rabid pitbull terriers. Nothing, but nothing would induce me to walk anything smaller than a labrador.

I see Lidl have their stollen bites back in store in preparation for Christmas - I'm addicted to them. It also means it won't be long before they are stocking Dutch speculaas biscuits. I inject them intravenously.

Should be starting to get a load of eBay deliveries from China for the bike from today.... Hay won't be pleased. I did snaffle the motorcycle boots which match my leathers that I was after on eBay - got them for £27.50 with a snipe at 5 seconds to go. Helmet should be here any day now. Then there's the phone holder, USB charging point, another baseball cap, a snood, the hands-free thingy, etc, etc. Pity it's going to be raining all weekend.

Those boots would be good for walking dogs in...

I've decided that, following this year's challenge of Rollerblading and the bike; next year's challenge will be surfing - we visit Cornwall and North Devon often enough. Hay, however, isn't too keen on the idea, plus she's not looking forward to the house being filled with a myriad surfboards bought off eBay - from China - and me calling everyone dude...

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

The Problem With Islam

Got a name for the bike that I think is apt - Old Yeller. This was sparked off by a suggestion of Rebel Yellow by a reader called Boromax, but I thought that a bit too Confederate. Old Yeller just flashed into my tiny brain.

Question: do Christians have a greater issue with Muslims than atheists?

I would contend they do - not only do they have a problem with Islamic fundamentalists, but they also have a problem with Islam in general. They don't seem to make any distinction between the two.

Atheists, on the other hand, only have an issue with the fundamentalists. Providing Muslims go about their business without harming anyone, they're no more annoying to atheists than anyone else, including Christians.

It may only be apocryphal, but I've heard more vehement condemnation of Muslims in general from friends who profess to be Christians than from atheist friends. The more fundamentalist the Christian (which usually means hypocritical), the more condemnation is forthcoming. It's almost a competition to see who is the more holy.

Perhaps I should add a rider to that; I have some very genuine Christian friends, but they don't appear to condemn anyone. Perhaps that's why I consider them genuine Christians - they practice what they preach, or rather what Jesus preached. Possibly it's the faux Christians who are the loudest condemners. 

Monday, 17 September 2018

Comparative Accessories & Tanks

While outside Tesco yesterday I saw what I at first believed to be an old Triumph Bonneville.

That is, until I saw it was a 2010 plate and realised it was an modern SE. Spoke to the bloke who owned it and he's had it 8 years - hence from new. Nice, but not an original Bonneville.

Trying to find a popup tent for the bike. There are loads of tent-like structures for bikes, but not of the popup variety - the ones that are impossible to collapse when you've opened them, Perhaps that's a whole new market of frustration.

Hay's getting a bit annoyed at the amount of bike paraphernalia that's appearing in the house - T shirts, jackets, covers, leathers, gloves, hats, etc. Women just don't understand the amount of work that goes into being a bloke with a man-toy. It's not only the things I've already bought, but the things I have yet to purchase, like a Bluetooth headset, etc. and the stuff ordered but yet to be delivered.

Our neighbour and tame builder, Colin, is working out a price for a bike hut that will fill a corner of the outside of the house, jut large enough for the bike and a few gewgaws, plus sufficient room to move around the bike. It will be clad in oak and have a slate roof, so it matches the house and doesn't look an eyesore. 

I'm not sure whether modern bikes have fuel gauges, but older bikes certainly don't, the Daytona included. Never understood why - it's a simple addition, surely? Perhaps not required for a race bike, but it's an easy optional extra for one that's destined never to go near a race track. All you get is a warning light when you have about 20 miles of petrol left, which may not be enough  to get you to a filling station in certain situations.

I've discovered that Daytonas have issues with ethanol in petrol and the paint on the plastic fuel tank bubbling in places - personally I think it's down to all the Novichok in the petrol these days. The advice is to keep the tank only half full and drain it when the bike isn't in use for a lengthy period, or find zero ethanol petrol - do they even supply that in the UK? Of course, I fully filled the tank over the weekend.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Names Please

Well, I'm not dead. Came back from Walsall after picking up the bike via Ross-on-Wye, where Hay took this photo (she had to collect a garden table and some chairs she'd bought there a couple of weeks ago for her father - and no, I didn't carry them on the bike).

It was a bit hairy testing the bike out, as the roads around the seller's house were plagued with speed humps, but she seemed fine at the limited speeds. Once on the M6 I had to get used to the cramped riding position, which was a bit wearing on the arms and legs, but you can rest your chest on the petrol tank occasionally to gain some respite for the arms.

Getting used to the instant throttle response to is also going to need some getting used to, as my old cruiser just wound up speed gradually. This beast takes off like a bat out of Hell. The wing mirrors are next to useless, as all you can see is your arms, The only way in which you can see if someone is behind you is to draw your arms in at the elbow, or thrust your elbows out and look through the gap between your body and your arms.

Overall, the Daytona is an absolute scorcher and I'm well pleased with her.

I'd forgotten about the bikers' code whereby bikers nod at each other when passing. It's a bit like owners of particular marques of classic car flashing each other when they meet on the road.

The Daytona 955i was Triumph's very credible effort at taking on the Japanese superbike manufacturers, which was achieved by the use of 3 cylinders instead of 2, which was a distinct innovation. You simply wouldn't believe this bike is 20 years old. She now needs a name - any suggestions welcome. The Yellow Peril? The Flying Banana? Suggestions in the usual place, please.

Spotted this nice Merc 380SLC in my local petrol station while filling up the Trumph. I'd happily divest myself of my '94 Merc 500SL to get one of the earlier generations like this, but an SL would be preferred and not an SLC, although beggars can't be choosers.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Imperial Bluetooth Kitty

Something that has always confused me - why does Japan have an emperor when it has no empire? Must be something to do with the translation.

Hay found a Californian Malbec at Aldi, the review of which says that it's a 'real drinking wine'. What else are you meant to do with the stuff - polish your brass with it?

Off to Walsall in a few minutes to collect the Daytona. I realised last night that I should have invested in a helmet with built-in Bluetooth. Never mind, I'm sure I can cobble something together that will work. I dug out an old Motorola Bluetooth earpiece, but it has a very old mini-USB connection for which I no longer have a cable.

I bought a motorcycle phone holder yesterday on eBay - something called an X-Grip RAM - but this time intentionally bought it from a supplier in Hong Kong, as UK suppliers want 3 times the Asian price. Blood rip-off merchants!

Talking of helmets, I remember as a teenager riding along on a country road near where I lived on my Lambretta scooter (an SX 225 in Arctic White and English Electric Blue) at 60 mph, wearing an open-faced helmet with a peak - as was popular in the early 70s among the scooter fraternity - and a bee flew up one of my nostrils and stung me. I looked like Urco from Planet of the Apes for the next week.

Seems Kitty has taken over the new chair....

It would seem that wherever I plan to plonk my arse, Kitty decides it's hers.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Daft Punk in Hong Kong

Well, the leathers and backup helmet I bought have arrived. Yellow helmet still in transit from Hong Kong.

Is it Daft Punk or the full-on Power Ranger? Please keep your opinions to yourself.

I have my eye on a nice pair of yellow and black boots on eBay, but the auction still has 4 days to run. I do, however, have alternative footwear that's suitable for a bike till then.

I was trapped inside the helmet for some 5 minutes before I realised than the release mechanism for the chinstrap was a red tag that you pull on and not the more usual snap-clip. They don't half make helmets complicated these days. The helmet is one of those flip-front jobbies with a sun shield that you can flip up and down while riding - very innovative compared to what I've worn in the past, although that was some 10 years ago when I had my Honda VT600 Shadow.

It's a pity they don't make varifocal, prescription visors... Doubtless they will - eventually.

Bought a waterproof rucksack on eBay last night - having first checked that the location of the seller is in the UK. However, I was a tad suspicious about how it could take 6 days to send a package within the UK, so I clicked on the seller and discovered he (or she) is actually in Hong Hong. Seems seller are now faking their location. Might report the seller to eBay - it's just not on. There again, it was the only waterproof rucksack on both eBay and Amazon that came in the right colour, had a waist strap, was large enough to contain a change of clothes and didn't cost an arm and a leg. Accessories specifically for bikes are simply a rip-off. What's the betting that when it arrives I find out it's not waterproof?

Thursday, 13 September 2018

A Load of Danger in Pensions

Was on the M4/M5 interchange yesterday and spotted this dangerous load, the danger of which the driver seemed totally oblivious of.

I'll bet anything that he was pulled over by the police. Well, I hope he was...

Got an unexpected windfall this week. Apparently one of my pensions matured on my last birthday in March and I didn't claim it, which is not like me, as I'm usually right on top of financial matters. I mustn't have fully read one of the letters sent to me in March, which is excusable given I have some 10 pensions from different sources.

It's a pitiful amount, but there was an option I was meant to make. One option was a small lump sum of £2.4k and about £3k a year; the other was a reduction in the pension of some £700 and a much larger lump sum of £16k. I've worked out I need to live to over 81 to benefit from the higher pension, which, based on the age of my parents when they died and the fact I'm much healthier than they were at my age, I believe I will exceed by several years.

On the other hand, I could invest the £16k they're offering me as a bribe to take the lower pension and perhaps make more. I could also die well before I'm 81. Tough decision, but I think I'd rather have the higher pension and save it, as I'd probably go and blow the £16k on something like a basket case e-Type to restore while not even having a garage to restore it in.

Mind you, £16k would go a long way to building a decent garage....

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

International Pastry Court

I see Mr Pastry (John Bolton) is venting his ire at the International Criminal Court. Is it coincidence that only countries with a record of human rights violations are not members and don't recognise the ICC?

Such countries include United States, China, India, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Qatar and Israel.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Anniversary III

Hay's sister always does a cartoon on any card that she gives us - birthday, Christmas, anniversary, etc. This cartoon embellished the envelope of our wedding anniversary card.

A Rollerblading badger (Badger being my pet name within our family) and a Cat Lady catching bees (Mrs B being my pet name for Hay and she is inordinately fond of cats).

I asked Hay yesterday when we could have a dog, she replied when Kitty dies. I smiled at Kitty, with a demonic gleam in my eye...

Monday, 10 September 2018

Anniversary Present II

Another bargain on eBay - a full set of leathers for £21. Starting bid was £20, someone bid that with 7 hours to go and I countered with an automated snipe of £62 with 5 seconds to go. Result!

That's less than the cost of a fluorescent rain over-suit. Not only that, but the bloke who is selling me the Daytona 955i is throwing in his leather Triumph jacket.

Insurance for me and Hay is £145 - no NCD or membership of a motorcycle club, so no discount - although I may join the Hell's Angels....

Something I need to think about is use of my Waze navigation app via Bluetooth, as well as communicating with the pillion passenger. Any advice on suitable devices that work with standard helmets and are both reliable and comfortable is welcome.

Can't wait for Saturday to come, although I'll still be sans helmet, unless I can get a temporary one for a fiver on Facebook Market. to tide me over. If not, then it's the trailer, as the helmet I ordered has an earliest delivery date of Tuesday week (and will probably not fit anyway).

Panniers are not possible due to the positioning of the exhaust, so the only solution to Hay's luggage issue is a top box on the tail, which doesn't look elegant, if you ask me. Hay's other problem is she's too tall and slim for any standard make of leathers - she's never managed to find leathers that fit her.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Anniversary Present

Last night I won myself a wedding anniversary present on an eBay auction; a 1998, Triumph Daytona 955i in mint condition.

The choice was to be either a BMW K1200 RS or the Triumph Daytona, but the name Triumph clinched it - it's iconic. When I made the announcement, Hay looked at me as if I was mad. She suggested I divest myself of my 1994 Mercedes 500SL - that's not going to happen this side of the 2nd coming.

I'd made a snipe on another Daytona earlier in the week and was convinced I'd won it for under £900 (an absolute snip, but it did have some work necessary on it), but I'd accidentally made the snipe on another bike I'd been watching by mistake. Luckily the snipe was lower than the bidding price on that particular bike and so there was no damage done.

On learning I'd won the auction, I immediately created a £50 snipe on a full set of matching leathers in yellow and black that no-one else seemed interested in (auction ends at 5pm today), bought some gloves and a yellow helmet, once again doing my usual trick of not taking note of the sending location - the helmet will not arrive from China for 2 weeks,...

Given the bike is located in Walsall and I won't have the necessary protective clothing before collection time next weekend, it's going to have to be a collection by trailer. Luckily my trailer was purpose built for bikes, having the necessary lugs on the base to strap it into position.

I suggested to Hay that we could use it (the bike, not the trailer) to go away for weekends, but she asked how that would be possible when the bike has no cargo carrying capacity. That's where we differ - I'm more than happy to go away for a week wearing just what I'm standing up in, whereas she insists on having several changes of clothes and a few home comforts. Obviously I'm going to have to start searching on eBay for a sidecar. As the review in the link above states though; "There is also a dual-seat option for those wanting to squeeze some poor sod on the back, but that's not what this bike is about."

Saturday, 8 September 2018


Went out for a celebratory meal last night for our 2nd wedding anniversary (which is actually tomorrow) and, not being ones for being able to keep secrets, we exchanged anniversary presents when we got home.

Hay got me two very nice bottles of red wine and I got her this.

Mrs B is my pet name for Hay and a bee is her totem, so I got a gin glass and had it engraved for her. She was delighted..

Strange that we both thought of something to do with alcohol. 

Hay is so lucky to have me.....

Friday, 7 September 2018

Falling Down

Fell over during Rollerblading practice at Tesco's this morning. First fall that was totally down to losing my balance. Ended up with a large blood blister on my middle finger, which I only noticed while typing the blog - couldn't understand why I had a lack of sensation in one fingertip and kept typing 's' instead of 'a'. 

Falling over doesn't actually hurt that much if you're wearing the correct protection gear and most of the impact is on your hands, elbows and backside.

It's taking a while to get used to these new skates and it's going to take more than several short sessions of 15 minutes; I need at least hour-long practice sessions. It's more like ice skating with these new skates because they're so frictionless.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Customer Service II

I saw this sign on the common outside our house and considered signing up..

I put the phone number (blanked out in my photo) into my mobile and up popped the phone number of my friend from over the road, who is a consulting engineer and has also built his own house. The difference is that he built his with his own hands, rather than using contractors, like I did. He can turn his hand to just about anything.

It turns out he's waiting till he gets 6 takers and then he'll offer 6 x 2 hour sessions for £60, which I think is excellent value for money.

The problem with plumbers around here at present is that you can't rely on them to turn up when they say they will, yet they complain vociferously about Eastern European plumbers taking their business. My builder says most British plumbers he knows are only prepared to work on large projects that guarantee weeks, or even months, of work and even he is let down continuously by them for smaller jobs. His advice is to forgive them for not turning  up when scheduled - several times -  and putting yourself completely at their mercy in the hope they will eventually turn up one day. Either that, or find an Eastern European plumber who will be guaranteed to turn up when he says he will and do a good job.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Customer Service

I've just become aware that B and Q (can't use ampersands in Blogger) no longer give people with a Diamond Discard card (i.e. over 60s) a 10% discount on Wednesdays. Bastards! Allegedly one gets vouchers instead - or so the person at the checkout thinks.

Finally heard back from Gtech customer support about the hedge trimmer - you can indeed get spare parts, but what I need is part of a totally new head for the princely sum of £59.99, rather than simply the motor and spindle, which would be a fraction of the cost.

I can understand that - it makes them more money and saves on parts storage and processing. Doesn't specifically save the customer any money. Add up all the parts they do supply and you come out with a total cost of more than buying a new one -which again works in the favour of the manufacturer and is standard practice in manufacturing - making more from spares than a complete unit,

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Shot to Hell Cat

Saw these shot glasses in the local charity shop and was sorely tempted to buy them - if only for Hay for our 2nd wedding anniversary on Sunday.

Perhaps not...

When going for my daily skating practice I keep seeing a grey tabby cat in Tesco's car park which seemed semi feral. I wondered how it survived and, today, the mystery was solved; it eats pigeons that infest the roof of the car park.

It's going to take me a while to get used to these new skates - stopping is very difficult and, until I master the hockey stop fully (which requires a lot of confidence), I keep doing pirouettes of varying size rather than an actual stop. The problem is that there's not as much ankle support as with the solid boots, so I'm rather more wobbly on my pins. As a consequence I've nearly come a cropper several times per session but have always managed to stay upright. The extra speed and the near silence of the wheels makes up for it though and I'm determined to persevere. Take off at any speed and you just keep going with no effort at all - it's scary.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Over the Hedge

I used a Gtech HT20 hedge trimmer yesterday - the one that's on a pole - to tackle our hedge. It started off well, but within 4 minutes it stopped cutting, yet was still making a noise. I suspected one of the drive belts in the gearbox had some off, but on opening it up I found the spindle that drives the prime gear had sheared clean off. It wasn't as if I was cutting anything particularly unsuited to hedge trimmers either.

It would seem it's impossible to find spares for these things, despite the cheapest unit available being in the region of £130 - with many costing almost double this. That's the last time I use a Gtech product.

I'm still waiting for Gtech customer support to get back to me...

Sunday, 2 September 2018

The Barn Find

Cars that are more than 40 years old are road-tax and MoT exempt under government rules. Now I can understand the road-tax thing (despite the reasoning being tenuous - it would be really innovative if they applied to same rule to one's income tax after 40 years), but surely not having to obtain an MoT for an old banger is not the most sensible idea to come out of government minds?

I guess the thinking, if it can be called that, is that classic cars are loved and cherished if they're on the road at all. That may well be the case, but they might have undergone restoration by complete nonce when it comes to mechanicals or electricals. They could be be veritable death traps, for God's sake.

I've rebuilt several cars - mainly MGBs - back in the day, but I needed some professional assistance at certain stages. While I'd welded 10mm ships' plate as part of my maritime training, I'd never welded something as thin as a car panel and the techniques are completely different, especially if you do gas or spot welding. 

The classic 'barn find' is a challenge even to a professional, so in the hands of an enthusiastic novice, however good his (it's invariably a he) intentions, there is a myriad of mistakes that could be made, resulting in death being unleashed on the road. Put it this way; if someone was trying to sell me a restored car, I wouldn't consider buying it without an MoT.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Skate Improvements

While reading the instruction manual for my new Rollerblades, I came across something called ABT, which isn't present on my skates and comes at an extra cost. It's a braking system where putting the braking foot forward and applying pressure to the rear cuff of the boot top with your leg lowers the braking system.

You can see what's meant from the diagram above. 

My preferred stop is the T Stop, as there's little or no risk of going arse over tit. The Hockey Stop is what I'm aiming for and, given the extra manoeuvrability the new skates give me, should be easier to achieve on the new stakes than the old ones. I'm currently managing wide circles and need to concentrate on making them tighter while not losing my balance.

Rather than the usual 15 minutes practice in Tesco's car park before skating became either too painful of I got bored, this morning the experience was so enjoyable that I lasted a full hour - and it's hours of practice that's needed to become proficient. While I was pushed to achieve more than a fast walking pace in the old skates, I'm reaching about 30 MPH on the new ones and they're so frictionless that you just keep going. Even the slightest incline sends you hurtling along at breakneck speed.

This morning I decided to venture our of the car park onto the street; however, you're moving so fast that even slight changes in the surface texture can be ruinous. I managed to hit a rather rough patch of pavement while travelling at speed and, for the first time, ended up flat on my back. Luckily the hand protectors and elbow pads prevented any damage. Being able to stop in a trice would have been an advantage, so the ABT braking method could perhaps be of inestimable use and I may save up for a pair with the extra braking feature - the T Stop at speed is quite dangerous if you're not expert.