Category Archives: Uncategorized

Weekending 08 Dec 2013


Back to the old form of posting, hopefully it will be little and often.
Sunday 01 Dec 2013.  Picked the van up and collected the grandkids to take them to the ICF.  Past a group of the CTC near Newton Lane and parked up in the car park. We were met by a queue that seemed to stretch around the block. Santa,s grotto was open and they had baby reindeer to boot.

Managed to get into the playbarn at the right time and settled down to read the Sunday Times. At the food counter who should I meet but Brian and Roy from the CTC. I did mention it’s called Crazy Daisey,s for a reason, it can get pretty crazy in there.

Things settled down later and after an Ice Cream the kids got to stroke the baby reindeers nose. +1 to Cheshire Ice Cream Farm.
I’d bought some Christmas lights for the van from Maplin on the Friday so they got a try out to amuse the kids and me. Spent hours trying to get things sorted out on ChromeBook with mixed results. It was a long day.
Monday 02 Dec 2013  Had booked into Tex,s spin class at the Oval only to find it being taken by Angie.  Sweated a bucket, finished the class as headed for the showers only to find no change from 2011, a disgrace. Spotlights don’t work and are hanging out of the fibreboard.
A trip to Aldi for noodles for lunch and some fruit then home.
Washed the car and booked another spin class at the Oval.

It gets busy in the evening but this class was one spinning class too far, I promptly blew up about half way through it as a bowl of noodles isnt enough for two classes like these. Coasted to the end, headed home for  a shower where I wont pick up an infectous disease.

Netflix is the new Blockbusters in this household and ouce you have it you can see why BlockBusters had no chance. Work in the morning.

The Garmin needs an update so it’s back to Windows in the near future.
Tuesday 03 Dec 2013 First day back in work.
Wednesday 04 Dec 2013 Caravan Club site is now taking bookings for 2014. this means Crystal Palace Caravan club site will take bookings for the Tour de France dates.
The golden hour approached and nothing happened, repeatedly. When I finally got in to the booking site I was logged out so had to go through the whole process again. I’ve booked three nights as the logistics of getting down there in good time meant I wouldn’t see much of a stage on Saturday even if I could find somewhere to park the van.

The recent WRC round in Wales showed me just how narrow our roads are. Next thing is to book Eurotunel , It was a huge relief to get the London booking now to try and plan the rest of the route.

Saturday 07 Dec 2013

 

Rode out to see how the van coped with the tidal surge.  Called in at the Bike Factory and Cheshire Oaks Cycles on the way back and gave the MagicShines a decent trial after the repair.

 

 

 

 

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I gave the MagicShine 808 a trial run during the week and it got that hot I cooled it down under the tap. Unfortunatley the waterproofing wasnt 100% and the clicky switch failed with it stuck in whatever mode it felt like on powerup. Maplin supplied a new switch for £1.39, it meant cutting the legs down do size but the result was a working light again.
These lights are £18 on ebay these days and give enough light to actually see where you are going. 

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The Dee cycle crossing shows just how much the storm surge travelled up the river Dee.
I was surprised how much plastic it washed up along with large CalorGas bottles.

20131207_140914[1]This is the cycle path just by the racecourse. Cycling along the path from Queensferry the tide mark was about a foot from the top of the path. If the bank had burst a lot of people would be under a few feet of water.

 

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November 2013

Highlight of the month was the World Rally Championship coming to Wales , more specifically Deeside next to the Toyota factory .  To be honest you wouldn’t have known it was happening due next to non existant press and TV coverage.

I took the Van out to Llandegla on the Wednesday before the qualifying session.  There is a night time MTB session so the carpark  was open until 8pm. wpid-20131114_074720.jpg

Lashing rain and hail punctuated the night with a healthy walk to the stage.  I will add the video when I can get Google drive sorted. It took me about 5 hours to warm up after I got back to the van.

Next day it was a trip to the service park at Deeside. Again more pictures to follow.

Saturday was the Rallyfest stage at Chirk Castle. It was packed with cars taking hours to get in.  This meant an early exit as it had the potential to turn into a mudbath.

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This was it early on, I’ve given up taking pictures of rally cars with a mobile phone as they move too fast.

I had a mail from WordPress the other day, 7 years I’ve been doing this, doesn’t time  fly. That prompted me to look at the British Heart Foundation site, It’s like the high street, charity shops and sponsored rides. You have to look for the heart and diet stuff, I was not very impressed by the direction they have taken.

Bought some of the Aldi Pro Cycling kit so that is due for a review in due course. It does appear to be well made with an improved pad. The coolmax pad of the old winter gear just  didn’t get on with me.

The WRC did bring home to me how narrow the roads are for next years Tour de France. I’m going to have to book a site early as soon as the window opens.

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Had a bit a f a busmans holiday holiday at Cheshire Oaks Caravan Club site(Fairoaks), same high standard as most of the other club sites with a bit of motorway noise in the background while outside the van. Stay the two nights to get some charge in the battery, fill up the water tank, empty the toilet cassette and get rid of the grey waste. Gave the van a clean too for good measure.

Had a cold trip out to the Eureka Cafe on Saturday with the temp down to 1,5 Deg C. Only one in there on arrival as the Saturday training rides had probably left. Christmas had come early as Anne , Holly and the staff were wearing reindeer antlers.  28 mile ride at the end of the day with a few stops.

Took the van and grandkids out to the Ice Cream farm at the weekend which was a first for a while.  Not been since the Cafe and playbarn have been segregated. Dropped the kids off and returned the van to the storage only for Val to notice one of the tyre pressure led warning lights flashing.  Can mean one of two things, the tyre has lost air gradually or I’ve picked up a nail. No time to look at it then so it is first thing on the agenda on the next block off.
The van seems to have less moisture in it these days as the crystal dehumidifier no longer seems to fill up as fast.

Been through a couple of the links on the side bar to see what others are doing , well I’m not alone in having a rough patch or two. I’ve spent a while trying to sort out all the pictures and videos on the phone as it is now full.

I’ve seen the future of Strava on the Google devfest that Paul presented at and it’s Google Glass. Segment warnings on the HUD , it had to happen. I’ll be trying to borrow his pair  for a Strava test.

Been on the wagon for a week now and hopefully it is going to stick this time. Made the mistake of coming home from work via Runcorn only to get stuck in traffic for nearly 2 hours.

Another theme change is in the pipeline along with a return to the weeky updates.  Some of the Pages are due for retirement or a spruce up.

2013-11-14 15.06.08Note the bike and not the name.

The end of the month has had me coming to grips with Google Chrome which was a bit mixed at the end of the day. I just want to get my pictures off the various devices and it hasnt gone well.

Had another trip out with the grandkids, this time to the Ice Cream Farm, things have changed since we last went. Still not a bad place to go if you want to read the Sunday Times in the playbarn.

The month ended with a 48 mile Wirral ride taking in the Coastal Path and the Wirral Way. The MagicShines had to go on low power as the battery seems to have lost it’s charge after last weeks battery trial.

I’m still not getting on with the Aldi Cycling Pro pads for whatever reason.

My first attempt at embedding  a map in the blog why they wont let garmin connect do the same god knows.

Dehumidifier For The MHome

Dehumidifier For The MHome

I’ve bought this Dehumidifier off Amazon recently  as I’ve had a habitation service done recently and there is a high reading in one of the panels.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00DFYWUJW/ref=oh_details_o02_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

It comes with a 12v DC and 240 volt AC lead and power supply and draws 60 watts.20131029_125148

This is what it condensed in a couple of hours. I’d like to leave it on permanently but it is too much of a drain on the leisure battery overnight.
The control panel does shut down on low voltage and the solar panel recharges it to 13.2 by midday.

At this time of year the cab glass is prone to a lot of condensation.

Aug 2013

Had a few things to sort out  Post Tour the main one was finding a new storage location. Well here it is at Dandy Caravan Storage

http://www.dandyscaravanstorage.co.uk/

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After seeing the Reclamation Centre go up in Wolverhampton this was my main priority. I’ve since learnt another 2 have gone up in smoke. Very pleased with Dandy, place is spotless along with all the Truckstop facilities on site, including a weighbridge.

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At trip to the Eureka had me meeting up with Sean and Barry, must have been nearly 2 months since I last set foot through the door. Had a great laugh, this Barry,s bike for his 12 hour attempt. Probably clearer on the seat stay than the top tube.

My next stop was a trip to the van to pick my Garmin up and sort out a niggling fault on the an control panel.

The vehicle battery voltage was in alarm at 5.5V when clearly it wasnt. Stripping the relay panel down behind the passenger seat revealed all the voltages were correct. Removing J9 header which is water level indication cured the fault so then it was on to the next job, the reversing camera.

This is proving to be a bit of a problem as the cable is well sealed and the camera needs to be removed with the upper cowling. A bit of a work in progress.

My trip back across to Burton Point had me calling in a the fisheries cafe.

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A night a Wirral Country Park site had me take a ride out with Val to Hoylake where the Pirate Ship has resurfaced after getting burnt out at Seacombe.

After all running around trying to get a 27mm clip on fitting for my Butagaz Cube  (including a 58 km downhill cycle to Grenoble, aborted by a thunderstorm) I picked up the correct fitting and tail from Flintshire Caravans.

Another thing on the list is a new satnav. The current Nuvi is not up to the job and downright dangerous at times.

Booked in at a spinning class at Europa Pools, the first for a long time. Waiting outside not much had changed with Louise battering the class with 8 sets of 8. Actually finished the class and it proved not as bad as I was expecting.  Starting to get back into the swing of things again.

Next up is the Wild Wales at the end of the month.

Managed to get on the car pafk at the start in Bala which surprised me. There was a motor home similar to mine overnighting there. No pictures this time as the phone was playing up in the sunlight.

It was a cool start with mist rolling off the lake. 8 miles in I’m wondering what I’d let myself in for with a lot of miles to go. Stop on one of the turns with the Sunlight coming past en masse  and Gary saying “Whats happened to your alpine experience” ” It’s still on Alpe d’Huez” was the retort.

Truth to say it was a really long day glad to have finished, lots happened, saw lots of familiar faces.

March 2013

First post for another month with a trip to London for a week to see Paul. We had booked into Crystal Palace Caravan Club site and this just about sums it up.

It was a steady trip down with the fun starting once you get within the M25. Traffic volumes and queues increase and not content with the height worries there was a new one with width restrictions. 7ft 6in into 7ft doesn’t go.

Took the bike down but it saw little use, cycle lanes are OK until they end and there is a massive pinch point with all the traffic.

 

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First port of call was to buy an Oyster Card for the buses , with a trip to the Science museum on Monday planned. The number 3 bus taking you to Picadilly Circus. Then the number 12 to South Kensington. It’s a scenic sight seeing route on public transport.

After taking a shortcut through the Victoria and Albert Museum  we arrived at the Science Museum to see what the Google Web Lab was all about, only to find it closed for a function. With security and PR people not letting us in.

The next morning watching the news on tv the function was a press conference by Will.I.am of Black Eyed Peas fame.

 

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When we finally got in you pick up a card which is read by the exhibit and stores a record of your visit to the web.

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This exhibit takes your picture and the robotic arm draws your face in the sand.
There are web enabled exhibits that are for the web based visitors.

http://www.chromeweblab.com

After that it was a vist to the Imax cinema to see the Space Hubble in 3D on what was the Space Shuttles last journey along with about 500 school kids. You could probably spend a couple of days here and still miss something.

Tuesday Was visit Paul at the Google office.  One amazing place, even has it’s own sushi chef and a london bus as a meeting room. If that wasn’t enough  just down the road was Buckingham Palace . A japanese honeymoon couple were getting photographed by the gates with a dresser, camera man and video too.
Strolling up Horseguards parade the Queens corgis were getting a walk.

In sharp contrast to Google Weblab  was a trip to Greenwich and the Observatory to see the John Harrison clocks. One took 20 years to make and this was his final one the H4

 

 

 

H4

We had to make two trips to Greenwich as we got lost after leaving the bus at Blackheath and walked down the hill towards the Millenium Dome which is nowhere near where we wanted to go.

The cable car across the river was closed due to high winds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Had to take a day out of sight seeing to get a pump and tyre pressure gauge  as I spotted a soft tyre on the van.

 

 

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This was the view from the train when I dropped the motorhome off for its upgrades.

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The newly surfaced Rest Hill

Trouble comes in Three,s

It’s been a while since I posted and with good reason. I had a major setback last November  in the form of a low bridge. Lost the will to ride and much else for that matter.

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You wouldn’t believe how sickening it is to hear it crunch into thebridge,reversing out to inspect the damage was just the start of things to come.


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Not too bad at first glance you might say but these toys are expensive and expensive to repair.

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Once we had got our bearings back at the storage, it was then time to take it to Flintshire Caravans to asses the damage, they kindly sealed it from the elements while I was there and took me around the workshop and spraybooth.
The insurance assessor was there within a day of the quote getting to them, which meant another trip.

I must give a mention to Malcolms Motorhomes , he was the the only one that  bothered to quote Flintshire Caravans for the parts needed for the repair. Parts have to be ordered from a franchised dealer. Most were unhelpful which doesn’t say much for the dealers. This was not to me but fellow traders, which is worse.

We took a trip down to Malcolms Motorhomes to see if anything could be done to speed things up, we couldn’t. Optomistic 2-3 week delivery times in reality turned out to be 5-6 weeks. This is just for the parts.

Nothing starts until all the parts are on site or the repair will just clog up the system, it was a hard pill to swallow.

In the mean time it was a chance to decorate the living room. This meant a mad rush to wallpaper and then clear downstairs ready for the new carpet. In the process we (I) lost the new tax disc for the motorhome. After spending  about 3 days ripping everything to bits I went to the DVLA and got a replacement for £7. Another lesson learn’t the hard way.

Progress trips to Flintshire Caravans had a bit of a setback when we learn’t that we wouldn’t get the van back for Christmas. The only consolation was the house was looking good with new wallpaper and carpet. I had planned a trip to Crystal Palace for my Wedding Anniversary but it was not to be.

Finally we got the van back but were suffering other problems alongside it, like the central heating packing in, in a cold spell.

Our SECOND shake down run was to the Caravan Club site at Chirk.
Great site, but I had the most terrifying experience of crossing the River Dee bridge in a high wind. It’s not something I want to do again.

Other things of note: Lance Armstrong confesses to cheating and we have the wettest year end on record.

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Wonky photographs are what you get when using a smartphone.
The bike did get used but not for what I was expecting.

When I booked in to the Chirk Carravan Club site the last of the snow was just melting and on arrival it was blowing a gale. Parking up after deciding parking under swaying trees was not a good idea, we discovered a water leak on the sink waste. This had been sealed on an earlier trip but the root cause had not been sorted.
Walking down into Chirk we discovered a small hardware store  Korkys Cabin where a tube of  silicone sealant and caulking gun was purchased for the reasonable price of £7.20. It even has a tap on the nozzle to prevent the silicone hardening.

Tried to access the internet through the site WiFi to no avail that evening only to find out in the morning that it was down until Tuesday. Time to get the bike out and head up the A5 to Llangollen. Too narrow and too many double white lines for my liking even midweek. Quarry trucks pass ok but it’s nerve wracking at best.

Calling in at the Visitor Center/ Library for internet access only to find it closed on a Thursday. Probably the victim of Council cuts. I was directed to the internet Cafe across the road where tea and a nice scone is £1.90 but half an hour of internet access is £2. I was not in a position to argue. The google search I put in came up with Horizon Motorhomes of Chirk, finding them on an Edge 800  proved to be quite difficult.
My search of a couple of housing estates proved fruitless but did reveal the carved tree. I was about a mile off course and just missed them when I ventured past the Bridge Inn, deciding to head back via the canal towpath. 

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Interesting  how the Cadbury factory is at the centre of the carving. If the wind is in the right direction it is inobtrussive. If not the drone of the place carries along with the smell of Cadburys drinking chocolate. It may look out of place now but Chirk was part of the Industrial Revolution with the Aquaduct and later the rail bridge. 

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More later, managed to break the screen on my laptop, Central heating boiler packed up in the recent freeze. Took 2 attempts to repair the thing.
The repair to the above took months and wasn’t completed till January. More pictures to follow and more.

2012 in review (from wordpress)

I’ll update the blog  in due course, it’s been an eventful 3 months and not over yet.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 160,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Weekending 23 Sept 2012

Time flies at the moment with a lot of it directed to The Toy Mk2. The logistics of finding storage for it then arranging insurance which is based on the secure storage location meant things were cut quite fine on the run up to collection of The Toy Mk2.

Couldn’t fault Kingsmill Leisure on the handover who showed us where everything was and how it operated. Only thing I can’t seem to find is a jack for the fitting of the spare wheel. Printed out the Fiat Ducato manual as it doesn’t come with the van and at 260 odd pages I can see why. Talking of the handover, there is a lot to take in and a lot of it goes straight out of the window come your first trial run. The van did come with  a RollerTeam document bag full of all the manuals for the kit.

Things NOT to do with a new motorhome with an automatic gearbox are jumping on the brake thinking it is the clutch, this was before I’d even left the carpark. The trip home proved to be eventful with a Fiat 500 merging with motorway traffic at 50mph. This leaving me with nowhere to go but the middle lane.
It’s built on a van chassis and handles like a heavily laden one. I’d be lost without the rear view camera and it did prove to be a deal breaker on some of the other motorhomes I’ve been looking at.
I’ve had 2 shake down trips now to sort things out. One of the first problems was the wheel base and roundabouts, don’t cut it to short or the rear wheels will ride up on the curb.

Riding has taken a back seat at the moment but I did make it to the Tour of Britain Knowsley safari Park finish.

 

The point of the photo is the kid on the purple fleece guys shoulders with the Wiggo sideburns on. Good day but Cav got beat.

Made it into the Eureka cafe video. Link to come. Need to loose weight by the looks of things.

It’s been an eventful week or so, in terms of what I’m planning for the future it’s small change.
 

Weekending 9 Sept 2012

Monday:  First day back at work. Called in on Sunday to book a half day Holiday to take Paul to Manchester  airport at some ungodly hour.
Back early enough to hang that awkward piece of wallpaper over a wall light that meant isolating the light circuit.
Started ringing around caravan storage sites without much luck, ring such and such after 5pm or the phone rang out.  Storage sites at Bromborough and Arrow Park were full. Speke Boulevard right next to work which would have been ideal on many counts said ring Wednesday.

A call in on the way to work soon showed why. Why rent out space to a 7 metre motorhome for £299 when you can put 2 cars at £50 a week on the same space and still pick up and drop them off at the airport 2 minutes away.

Had built my hopes up on this one. Cycle into work on the last day, pick the van up and throw my bike in the back and we would be away. Hopes dashed on this one. Val phoned the “Ring after 5” Thingwall guy, left a message but he didn’t get back.
Alcohol Units Zero
Tuesday: Full day at work but a lot more of the same. Numbers ringing out, a webpage and email address that looks 15 years old. Started looking at CASSOA sites, even considering access time restrictions. Starting to get a bit concerned, I’m picking it up on Saturday and haven’t got secure parking yet.
Alcohol Units Zero
Wednesday:  Work, liked the look of  Holmstom Hall site by Oulton Park but maybe a bit far. It’s been a two pronged attack for the last 2 days now and I finally get a reply. Appointment set for 3 on Thursday.
Now to sort out the Insurance. The card I got from a stand on Saturday rang out and I got transferred to a callcentre.
From here things got a bit convoluted as I got passed from pillar to post.
One came good as I hesitated another offer came up, I’d have gone with the first one. Unlimited mileage, full European cover, breakdown cover with recovery etc.
Things are looking up.
Alcohol units Zero
Great Vuelta ride from Bertie
Thursday: Half day at work and I had to pull my finger out to get it all done before I finished.
All those calls we put out a couple of days ago deemed to call back after things were sorted.
Picked my spot at the storage, pretty it is not but it’s secure.
Headed to Graham Weigh in Deeside to have a look at some bikes. Never seen so much team kit, they have more jerseys than Chicago Dave. Talked to Walshy in the workshop, he’s not been on his bike for a while too.
Called in at M&S at Cheshire Oaks, really nice shop but the view isn’t the best.

Just wait until the stack flares.
Home, blog.
Alcohol Units Zero.
No comic in the Coop, will have to look further afield.
Friday: Looks like a ride out to the Eureka , No Eureka ride on Sunday as we’ll be out in the van for the first time. Need to get some miles in.
Headed out to the Eureka after a haircut. Rule Number one don’t get your haircut while Jeremy Kyle is on. The staff tend to get distracted by the guy who has cheated on his girl six times.
That done it was time to head out via Port Sunlight it always looks good in the sun.  Called in at the camping shop in Bromborouh and then on to Cheshire Oaks Cycles where I picked up a Bontrager Bottle cage in Placid Blue.
It’s close but not a 100% match to the Madone.
I’ve also had another lesson in the law of diminishing cycling returns.
Bontrager bottle cage 33 gramms @ £9.99 Zefal Carbon cage 28 gramms @£30 and it doesn’t hold a bottle as the bottom tang is cracked/springy.

Eureka for a BLT.  260 riders doing the Anniversary ride on Sunday.
Also on Sunday is the Etape Cymru, be a shame not to take in those closed roads if your in the area.

Had to go out for a new bracket for the Garmin nuvi as I lost  the original. Just goes to show how fast things move. It’s virtually an obsolete technology. Smartphones have it built in and Google maps is a powerful rival to Tom Tom, Garmin all for free. As Google own all their mapping data there is no need to license it from the likes of Navtec.

Dropped a kilo and still alcohol free. Pick up the new toy in the morning so it’s an early start on what has been a hectic week.

Saturday: Dropped another kilo so it’s under 100 at 99.9Kg .  Totally cutting out alcohol has been the main reason. Diet has been similar to the BHF above, with cereal and fruit first thing in the morning.  Cycling has been limited to the Friday ride. I’m expecting the exercise gains to kick in in due course.
Side effects have been very light sleep.

Off out now to pick the new toy up.