Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Twixt Christmas and New Year

Tom decides to sit under the Christmas tree.

The traditional game of scrabble leads to my traditional defeat at the hands of people who know the rules better.

One of my presents to myself is deployed in cutting a 10mm strip from the skirting board in preparation for the tiling of my basement. This Worx SoniCrafter has to be the most useful powertool ever.

The SoniCrafter is later used to cut away a rotating nut on the fuel tank*  of my BMW R1150GS...amazing how a 1 hour routine job such as changing the fuel filter can turn into an epic twixtchristmasnewyear event.

* Don't try this at home.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Vienna Christmas Market Mass Mayhem

Too many people and too much shoving! Looks pretty from a distant vantage point however. This video clip features an exclusive and never previously revealed Nikos and Mrs Nikos sound footage.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Seasonal Good Wishes

I wish all my fellow bloggers a very merry holiday season and may you avoid the Channel Tunnel!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

An Intermission

I apologise for the short intermission that is entirely due to my inability to have ensured that my camera and reliable internet connection were colocated last weekend  - The Nikos World Trip to Paris Spectacular will therefore be combined with the Christmas edition and published in due course, all things considered, with a following wind, when it takes my "fancy".

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Exclusive Triple Product Test

An IKEA Boholmen sink and a pair of waterproof Forma Street Evo boots.

A weekend of high gusting winds and swirling rain coincided with the annual servicing run for my GS so with the guidance of the weather oracle I had elected to engage the services of Chester BMW Motorrad who had promised to loan me a F800GS. To fill in the time during the day I had planned to install a new kitchen sink. Fortuitously last week I had noticed in the Riders Digest that Knox were marketing Forma Street Evo boots in sizes upto size 50 (UK 13) so on the basis that boots this size appear as regularly as Hailey's comet, I engaged credit card.

The early morning ride to Ellesmere Port aka "Chester" on my R1150 GS was taken on motorways - the M56 runs approximately west and crosses a series of viaducted valleys in its path across the Wirral - the road makers thoughtfully had provided warning windsock signs at the approach to each blast zone of Irish sea drizzle saturated sodding rain but the Forma boots would have nothing of it and maintained my feet in a dry state and proved to be very comfortable. The trusty GS coped relatively well too.

I was handed the key to a canary yellow F800GS that, as it turned out, seemed to enjoy travelling in straight lines except on the M56 where it had the idea that it was a leaf. I therefore elected at the earliest opportunity to complete the journey to Knutsford on more sheltered A roads and having picked my way around Runcorn (?) followed signs to Northwich Thundersprint territory. This bike's sweet revving and willing engine was not in sympathy with the chassis that seemed to be stuck in a groove and cornered most unwillingly (I'm wondering whether the head bearings were knackered?).

As for the Boholmen kitchen sink - cheap, functional and boring but it was the only 1 1/2 bowl sink that would fit between my dishwasher and the corner swing out unit.

The F800GS - looks like a collection of bits that don't quite fit together.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Meine kleiner Hamburger Geburtstag

In which Nikos spends a weekend in Hamburg to visit Miniatur Wunderland - the biggest digital model railway in the world! Mrs Nikos searches out the Beatles and escorts Nikos quickly along the Reeperbahn. We stay in a converted water tower in wonderful comfort with a trendy window between the facilities and the bed room.

The Canadair/Bombardier Regional Jet (fuselage made in Belfast, Northern Ireland) gliding over the Elbe on the final approach to Hamburg Flughafen.

Formerly a water tower (wasser turm): the near impregnable Movenpick Hotel - I made three circuits of the restaurant at ground level before a hasty entry through a fire door: it turns out that reception is accessed hobbit style through a tunnel.

A triple bendy bus - a devilish creation of the Hun that will never in the field of human bus design be seen in London (in accordance with Boris' manifesto).

The Reeperbahn barricade - I was obliged to fork out €30 for a doubledeck circular bus tour the next day to take a peek over. Unfortunately my camera was a bit too slow on the boot up to capture the scenery.

Derricks over the Elbe: this could be sung to the same tune as Ferry across the Mersey

Miniatur Wunderland - the biggest digital model railway in the world!

Miniatur Wunderland Advanced Motorcycling Group on a ride out.

The fab four (almost).

A birthday cake.

The Hamburg BMW Club Sunday combination ride-out - An F650 rig by the looks of it (with modified front forks).

A stroll through Blom and Voss shipyard is not possible - we made do with some garden of a similar name.

The botanical bit of the gardens - turtles enjoying a Sunday morning "meeting" or cogitate

A War memorial

I have no idea what this is used to convey but it seems that the handlebars are connected in a true sense to the front wheel

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

And the Result was...

Nerves almost got the better of me as I attempted a left turn out of the Crewe Little Chef car park - is it possible to fail within the first 100 yards? Surely this was not Sidcup: I got lost there during my official bike test way back on 20th January 1976 - and passed. This time a loud parping from my examiner in conjunction with impatient gesticulations indicating right saved the day. In 1976 the man with the clip board was happy to return to the test centre as it had started to drizzle. In 2009 the nice policeman on the Yamaha hovered in and out of my blind spot for the next hour...

On the safe working assumption that I had already failed to impress and that it could not get much worse it all then came blindingly good as the low sun reflected off the damp road (marked as "dry" on the marking sheet - it's all relative to what it could have been). I managed to stay within the speed limits and avoided overtakes. I did not inbibe in extreme positioning and avoided excessive blind spot checking: My eyes were glued to the mirrors so see where nice policeman on Yamaha wanted me to go (no 2 way radios) but hard with the low sun and road reflections.

I managed the tricky hill start at the stop line but neglected to stop my engine at the prolonged level crossing wait (you had been wondering why I scored only a 3 on the eco driving?). When this was mentioned at the debrief I responded that I had considered stopping the engine due to overheating (but had not) and promptly received 3 for mechanical sympathy!

The debrief was informative: did I realise that I was not sitting square on the bike? Yes, I have a spine injury! Did I realise that I need to move my head excessively to scan the mirrors? Yes, I need to rotate the handlebars forward to orientate the mirrors better. Did I want to become an IAM Observer?...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Sunny Weekend above Lac Leman et Environs

At the top of the Le Salève - Normally a take-off spot for parasailing with fine views of the Jura but today a chaussette molle. Budding aviators, please note the temperature inversion!

Prior to the installation of the cable car, and notwithstanding the small railway that existed then, a fine option for the ascent of Le Salève for the more dashing post 1904 would have been la Motosacoche.

Lac Leman - ripples on the water but no wind?

Nice to know that my BMW R1150GS would be permitted onto the vineyard tracks of Bernex

The Leaning Tower of Westminster

Goodbye Big Ben, goodbye New Labour.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

More Corporate Bollox

We are told in the latest missive handed down through Outlook:

“Thrive in Unpredictability”.

And then:

To succeed in these uncertain times, we need to have three key attributes:

  1. Line of sight: Ability to see around the next corner

This is a remarkable concept that I shall not rely on entirely whilst I'm taking my IAM test this Saturday!

PS I'm not telling you the other 2.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Third Cat

Responding to critical reader feedback, I present to you the third cat.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Over 300 Million Record Sales is Big Keftedes

Corporate Bollox

The company that I have worked in for three years has been recently taken over by another large US corporate organisation, Every day I am sent stuff like this generated by people that I have never heard of before, in jobs that I am amazed they get paid for and certainly these pronouncements add no value to my particular job! This one was sent from "Global Supply Chain Services HR" and probably means that they are going to axe a few more of my colleagues in the near future.

Bollox message reads:

We have invested considerable effort in the design and planning stage of this key change, focusing our organization on:

· Elevated Stakeholder Engagement & Interlock

· Revenue Enablement through both Deal & Account Support

· Cost improvement and transformation

· Enhanced demand planning

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sniffing out the Third Man in Vienna

Spot the pear shaped sewage pipe, the advertising hoarding and the mobile booking office - yes we tourists are about to be fleeced by Wien Kanal the trading name of the enterprisng Viennese Sewage Pipe Authority

The entry to the sewage system of Vienna that Orson Welles never went down (he thought it to be a bit smelly down there so his double did the business as it were)

A fine twin tunnel sewage throughway.

Whilst trying to breath the noxious air emanating from the passing Viennese motions, we are shown clips from the motion picture The Third Man (do I keep mentioning motion?)

A grate through which noxious fumes emerge and possibly not Orson Welles' hands.

The cemetry in which Harry Lime was buried almost twice

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tribute to a Plinther


WW2 Airfields and Pots of Arcadia

The Plateau at Profitis Ilias at some 7000ft above sea level that was the site of a Luftwaffe airfield from where Stukas took off to raid Crete. Some say that the British parachuted here (presumably SOE) but I'm still researching all of this.

In which we discover the sight of a second world war airfield that was so hidden and secret that I can't for the life of me find any historical references to it. There is also a small study of chimney pots in our mountain village and there might be a small prize for the first one to guess which one belongs to Mrs N's house!

Pot A

Geranium pots

Pot B

Pot C

Pot D

Pot E

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