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.
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