Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Pics or it didn’t happen.

There were only two good pictures of me from the Outlaw.

On the bike and on a mission:

and just about to cross the finish line:

Every other picture looked like a sad, beaten, old duffer who was half dead . Which, to be fair, is 50% better than I was feeling.

The other good picture is one I took today. It’s not easy trying to do a selfie with your bike. I’m quite made up with this this then:


The ‘Blade is as much art as function. Someone spent a lot of time and effort making it look that good.

I’ve been weighing up the pros and cons of that exhaust endcan. It’s titanium so very light, but huge and too quiet. Apparently their are all sorts of sensors built in to the exhaust system though,  so you really mess with the fuelling and such if just swap the silencer for a more raucous one. Which means buying a full exhaust system (£££££££) and a power commander to sort out the fuelling (£300) and the garage to fit it, probably.

It’s like Wendy rightly said after I spent all that money converting my W650 into a cafe racer, “buy the bike you want.”

I wanted this because it was an unmolested, original bike. It will far exceed my ability as it is in standard form, I’m not going to spend a grand or so just to make it sound a bit fruitier.

One thing about it I will be changing is the seat. It’s rock hard.There’s no rush for that though, I doubt I’ll be doing many more miles this year ‘(it’s not seeing salt). But maybe next year, comfy seat, road trip? A quip nip to Germany?

I noticed the forks were set slightly differently so I looked it up today and reset them back to standard, then one turn extra to stiffen them up. Also tightened the chain.


The other thing I’m doing now is starting training for a sub 3 hour marathon.  I spent ages yesterday working out the amount of weeks until the race, the end distance, then working back in a steady and sustainable fashion to my starting point. I drew up a chart of date, distance, weeks to go.

If I can stick to the chart I can do it.

I went for my first run since the tri today. It was hard and humid. My target time is 6.45m/m. I started off slow to avoid tendon injury, 8.46, 8.27, then tried a fast mile. 7.42. Total disaster. I thought I’d lost my fast mojo.  I did another few slow miles then tried again. As soon as my watch beeped for the mile I charged off. It was beastly hard but I kept going. Finished that mile in 6.42! Yay! It’s back on! Then slogged home for 2 miles.

It nearly killed me, but that’s the first step on the plan done. Then I looked at the plan “Week 1, run ½ mile”


I’ll have to see how it goes. I may have to have a slack year (no tri-s) and focus on getting sub 3.

And so, said Zebedee, to bed.



The forks set up wasn’t a step forward. Over bumps it was trying to buck me out of the saddle. I’ve looked up a complete set up guide for this exact model (there are 6 different things to adjust) and set it to that. Trial and error. If that’s not right there are set-up experts who will fine tune it to your exact weight.

Another thing I’ve learned today, never, ever do a long run after a fast one. I ground out 18 slow, painful miles, but it was hellish and dispiriting. The only good to be taken from it is I wanted to quit after the first mile but kept it going. So a good exercise in mental discipline.

Jumping for joy?

Quick update.

First off, my dream job at the Co-Op.

It turned into a nightmare.

The hours are great, the money was great, they treated you great, but all the stores were on the very edge of what is physically possible. Previously my satnav would say “turn left” and I’d look into a tiny back street, lined with cars, and think “jog on” and find the proper way into my drop. At the Co-Op that is the proper way. I had to go down a street stopping and folding car wing mirrors in all the way down as it was the only way I could fit. I was a nervous wreck. It got too much and I quit. *sigh*

That was on a Saturday, I signed up with an agency for a postal driver job on the Monday. They looked at my history, Stobarts, would you work there again? Absolutely not. Next? Meh. Bookers?


I joined 3 agencies earlier in the year trying to get back in there. Not a sniff. That is the best job I’ve had, but I’d kind of given up on it, as I thought they must have stopped using agency. Here it was, serendipitously being offered! I said I’d love to go back. Said I was available from Wednesday. They ‘phoned me that night, saying they had a shift at Bookers Tuesday, did I want it? For Bookers, yes. That was that. 5 days for the last 3 weeks. They also do Herpes, so I’m thinking I may have dropped in perfect here. If there are days when Bookers don’t need me I can do a shift at Herpes. This means I can afford to wait it out until they finally give in and take me on. Then it’s megabucks. £40+K.  For a piss easy job, no pressure, no deadlines, great attitude towards driver error. My first or second shift back there they sent me to Birkenhead. It’s tight as buggery. You have to drive into the yard, right up to the wall, spin it around on full lock (which kicks the back end out and a few drivers have taken out the fence it’s so tight) then go back out and blindside in around a corner. After the Co-Op it was a walk in the park. But in screwing it tight around one of the leads from the truck to the trailer must have snagged and it ripped out. I ‘phoned it in. They called me a dick, had a replacement sent out, not a word said when I got back. No forms to fill in, no investigation. Shit happens, don’t do it again. Now I take my lines off before I go into the yard. Sorted. The only thing with this job, as with every other driving job (not Co-Op) is you don’t know your start or finish times day to day.


I’m still battling with the bike. I rebuilt the engine (nearly bust my back humping the damned thing back in the frame) and refitted everything.  A job made a lot worse by my prevaricating over starting it because I was scared of the job. I got it all back together, reinstalled all the electrics and turned it over. It turned fine but didn’t start. I checked for fuel, (yes) sparks, (yes) right spark plug lead to right spark plug (for timing, yes) bugger. Had to be the timing was out. I took the cylinder head back off (all in-frame from now on, YAY!) and turned it over. Valves not moving. It was that thrice damned bevel drive. I was scared of that before I started, never having dealt with one before. After a bit of examination it turns out the shaft that drives the bevel (that operates the cam shaft) had fallen down. This is down to a circlip. While refitting I tried to put it on a wider part than that for which it was intended and prized it open too far. I was already aware of this and ordered the part as soon as I buggered it. I’ve been waiting for it to be sent from Germany, who, it transpires, had to order it from Japan. As soon as that arrives I strip the top of the engine, fit it in the right place, with the timing set again, and job should be a good ‘un.

I hope so, because whilst window shopping for a cheap winter bike (told a guy at work about my woes trying to tart up the engine after winter corrosion and he asked what I was doing riding a nice bike in winter, why didn’t I get a £500 winter bike?) I’ve stumbled across a Chinese website. They are selling clone motorbikes. They get a popular model of bike. tear it down to it’s nuts and bolts and slavishly copy every last detail. Then they set up a production line of Chinese made, *very* cheap clone bikes.

They are doing Harley clones. The Heritage Softail Classic is £16+K from Harley. The clone is £2,480, brand new, in a crate, shipped all the way from China.


I want it so bad I can taste it. This could be perfect for me. Even the fakeness could be a positive. It looks like too much of a lump to get down between the houses to our garden and a real Harley would be stolen before I’d got my leathers off if I left it on the front. I’m going to get a laminated sign saying “This is a fake, Chinese copy, £2,480 brand new off (website) so don’t bother nicking it, it’s not worth shit” , or words to that effect.

My plan was to add it to my my collection but Wendy, perhaps not unreasonably (bloody unreasonably!) says as I can only ride one bike at a time, and we are still in debt, I have to sell my bike to buy it.


This means I have to finish this rebuild, polish it all up and flog it. Double quick time.


The other big news is I’ve finally got my parachute course done.

I finished work stupid o’clock Saturday morning, had 4 hours kip, then up and drove to the Lake District (right next to Morecombe bay). I was there from 08.30 until about 16.30 doing the course and finding out all the interesting ways I could die. The main thing we learned on the course was that it’s a waiting game. For students the wind speed has to be 15mph or lower with ground visibility (no clouds below 3,500 feet) and such. In short, we weren’t going to jump yesterday. So I had to do another 160 mile round trip today. I was sat there waiting from 09.15 until about 14.00 then they called us  out. We went up, I was last man out. They got the first 3 out then more cloud came in so they aborted. Landed. Gutted.

About 16.00 we had another go. I was quietly confident that I could do it. I’ve faced death quite a bit and don’t let it deter me. Then it got to my turn. You’re sat on the floor, facing a roller door which the instructor pulls open when the plane is in position. You look out and it suddenly gets very real. Then the instructor says “FEET OUT!” and you slide into the doorway, a hand on the door frame behind you, one on the lip of the opening upon which you are sat, one buttock hanging over the edge.. Which is really frightening because you think you are just going to keep going and fall off. Then he says “GO!” and taps your shoulder and you have to push yourself off, into the void.

As I say, I’ve faced death quite a bit. Riding through two overtaking lorries at 120mph, sitting listening to bullets going off in the fire in front of me, crashing every bike I’ve had, going to war, etc etc. I’m not trying to say I’m heroic, “stupid” would work equally well, I’m just saying fear and possible death don’t stop me from doing things. With that in mind, sliding up to the aircraft edge and pushing myself out, I was fucking terrified.

I surprised myself with the level of fear. I was wondering, as I sat waiting for him to open the door for my turn, whether I could do it. I was so scared I thought I was going to bottle it.

I didn’t. But all my drills went to shit. Leap out, star shape, head back, count “ONE THOUSAND, TWO THOUSAND, THREE THOUSAND, ONE THOUSAND, TWO THOUSAND, THREE THOUSAND, CHECK CANOPY!”

I pushed off, then next thing I was being snatched back by the static line to my ‘chute and then my ‘chute opening. When shit started making sense again I was back on the ball. Checked my chute, did the drills, steered it in nicely. But for that 1 or 2 seconds I totally lost it.

Absolutely terrifying experience.

If the weather is nice I’ll have another go next Sunday, see if I can get it right!

You are not allowed to take a cam up with you so no pics, but it was a hell of an experience.

Right, bed. I’m bollocksed. 20 mile run tomorrow.



Ups and downs.

I’ve properly started my new job now. I had 7 days of training first. I had a 2 hours driving assessment to start with. Then I started the training 7 days. I was supposed to do a day’s classroom, a day out with a driver (just watching) a day’s classroom then a whole day out actually doing the job with an assessor watching me. That was the big stress day. Then a day out with another driver watching me, then two days out with another new starter, to watch each other.

I was in an artic the whole time, and I’m quickly getting used to the manual gearbox so it wasn’t too bad. I was worried on my assessment day but I passed. The next day, when I thought I could relax there mustn’t have been any spare drivers ‘cos they sent me out with another assessor! D’oh!

I got through that, did my two days (one driving, one observing) with the other new driver and started my shifts on Thursday. I had an easy start, an artic with an auto gearbox, full size trailer and one drop. Bread and butter to me. Dropped it off, back with 2½ hours to spare, sat in the canteen until home time!

The second day was when it got a bit worse. They gave me a rigid. Only a dinky little 18 tonner but buggered if I could remember how to drive one. Any fool can drive one forwards, but I’ve completely forgotten what room you need to turn one around, and I was bollocksed as soon as I had to reverse. I’ve five years of experience with artics. For that you pull over near to where you want to reverse into, then screw the cab around which pivots the trailer over the back wheels, get it pointing in the right direction then straighten up. I was lining the truck up in the wrong place to start, expecting it to turn when it wouldn’t, and turning the wheel the wrong way be reflex. It was a nightmare.

On Sunday they sent me out in a 26 tonne rigid. These are bastards for two reasons; the rear wheels are a good 6-8 feet in from the end of the box, so they have a vicious swing, and they have a semi-auto clutch. You rev it and let the clutch out and it cuts your revs and slowly lets the clutch engage. I stalled it the first time. It’s a nightmare, especially on hill starts as you can’t over rev to put some power into it.

Anyway, I was coping with the overswing and I was getting on top of the fecking stupid clutch, but the reverse was still a nightmare. The main trouble with this job, is Co-Op shops are little convenience stores, parked in the middle of housing estates and such. So virtually every drop is an absolute nightmare to get to.

Here’s one in Manchester:


As you can see there is enough room for the car. But trucks are wider, and that’s travelling in a straight line. If you want to turn you need swing. I couldn’t get back out of that one, I had to follow it into the housing estate to find a place to get back to the main road. I had to keep stopping and tucking car wing mirrors in as it was that tight.

Back to Sunday, 26 tonner, took me to this poxy little shop in a poxy little village, I had to drive through a sign saying “Unsuitable for HGV’s” to get there. The shop was in the middle of the main, tiny, street running through the village. This meant I had to pull across both lanes and force everyone to stop and wait for me to reverse it into the side street by the shop. So, lots of impatient drivers queuing both ways, tiny road, lots of foot traffic. No pressure then. I set it up all wrong, if it had been an artic it was perfect and I’d have been in in seconds. Shunting back and forth, arse end going all the wrong way, I ended up mounting the pavement (not a prob, just gave me more room to swing) but I was having to concentrate on not hitting pedestrians. *bang!* What?

There was an overhead sign hanging out over the pavement. I was staring at the pedestrians didn’t even see it. *Was* hanging overhead. Not any more.

Fourth solo shift and I’d had a crash. I assumed they’d sack me off. My first week of a 12 week probation. I got back to the office, they went through the RTA forms. I was honest and said I was struggling like a bastard with rigids. They said they’d put this down to a training issue. Either get me some mentoring or put me on small rigids until I got back up to speed. I’m hoping for the former. I have no confidence at the minute. I am driving miles whenever I need to turn around because I have no idea what space a rigid needs. Surprisingly an artic with a 45 foot trailer is nimble as buggery in the turning department. They can turn in their own length, so a wide two lane road is often enough to spin them round. Rigids have the turning circle of an oil tanker ship. It’s all about 3 point turns and such. Easy when you know how, I don’t even think of it in the car, but when you have no idea what size you need or how it’s going to turn, it’s nerve wracking. I’m constantly scared witless I’m going to get stuck and won’t be able to get out.

My one consolation is, if you zoom into that image above, there’s a bin lorry down the end. That is their day job, driving down those streets, amidst those cars, day in, day out. It’s do-able, it’s just I don’t know how. 

To summarise, the job is as good as all the good bits suggested. You have a fixed start time, you can stick to your home time, if they try and give you a second job that takes you 5 minutes over your 10 hours you just refuse, nothing said. Today is my first of three off, which I *know* for damned sure are my days off, no last minute ‘phone calls telling me to get in. There is no pressure on the job, you are given your jobs for the day, your keys, and basically left to it. No-one calling you up and screaming at you for not being at your next drop, and there is an hour’s, paid, dinner break.

The downside is: rigids, poxy little, hard to get to, drops, a bit of a faff wrestling cages around. And having to tail lift all the stock down, and empties back up is *so* slow.

Oh, also they are Safe System Of Work mad. Not that that is a problem, I quite like that they have a system whereby no cages can fall off the tail lift, or roll free when you are off the truck, but it is slow. This is part of the adjustment process though. You are not going home for 10 hours, no matter how quickly you get the job done, so just plod on safely.

If they are as good as their word, and I’m not sacked and get some help, this could be a decent job. 90% of what I don’t like about it is simply that I can’t drive rigids. If I can get over that, this job could be brilliant. I passed my class 2 (rigid) test, so I must have been OK with the bastards once.

At the moment I’m taking it as it comes. If they help me out and I get comfortable and confident with rigids this could be an excellent job, if they reconsider and sack me I’ll get an artic job and never look back.

Bastard rigids.

Right, off to Halfords to get some paint. The next two days I want to get my bike back together.



Glorious English Reich.

Pig-shagger Dave has done it. Years back I said, with chilling prescience, of the EU referendum: “It’ll never happen. Thick people would vote out. They’ll never allow it.” So wrong. 

Along came Dave. I think he set the EU ref as a trap for the next government, never thinking it would be his. Others have said it was an attempt to woo back all the racist votes leaking to UKIP. Either way it was supposed to be a sop, a token. We were never supposed to leave.

Well done Dave, you have finally ensured the history books don’t list “shagging a dead pig’s head”, as your most notorious deed.

The Tories and the right wing press have been drip feeding the lies for years. Foreigners on benefits are taking your jobs, (a good trick to start with) they are all Muslim terrorist paedo rapists.

No wonder Johnny Knee-jerk abandoned all reason and voted out of fear.

Fucking good job.

They were promised £350 million a week of EU money would go into hospitals instead. That immigration would be stopped. That the ‘experts’, every fucking single one of them, were EU stooges paid to promote Project Fear.

Someone summed it up nicely on Twitter:

It’s 11.15 AM and so far…

1, Nigel Farage starts the morning by retracting the £350 million per week to the NHS claim.

2, Daniel Hannan the retract the claim  that leaving the EU will reduce immigration

3, £100 billion already wiped off the pensions, ISAs etc, invested in the FTSE.

4, The pound suffers the largest currency depreciation of any currency ever.

5, The Prime Minister resigns without mapping out a plan for implementing the results of the referendum.


The pound is now worth less than the Euro. Devalued by 11%. The UK is now no longer the fifth richest country in the world. Project Fear was wildly optimistic.


Worse than all of this, it’s given a mandate to the far right. The neo-nazi Britain First (DON’T SHARE THEIR SHITE ON FACEBOOK!) murdered a young woman MP who was for remain. UKIP/ Britain First/ Brexiters think they’ve won the argument. They won the EU ref, the trouble is, we were voting to stay in the EU, they were voting for “send them back”. 

Already reports of Muslims being harassed and people shouting “send them back!”

We have sacked Cameron and brought in an even further right wing government, backed by neo-nazis.

Also, this signals the end of the Union. All the Scottish voted to stay in. And the Irish. This leaves England calling for action neither of them want, voted for, or will support. The split seems inevitable now.


My final straw, at which I’m desperately clutching, is this is not a binding decision. Parliament has to approve it, and Boris didn’t want out either. He spoke at length about it in the past. Now he has cleared Cameron out of office hopefully he will find an excuse to call a second referendum. All the fuckwits who have now seen the reality of brexit will vote remain and we’ll all live happily ever after.

If not, then it’s untrammelled tories. Goodbye worker’s rights, maternity leaving, Working Time Directive, Human Rights. And Britain First mobilised on the streets, hunting down Poles and the dark skinned.

This could be Hitler, the early years. Bit of a rum cove, but sure it’ll be alright.

It won’t be.

I’ll make my stand with the foreigners. *This* will be your ‘rivers of blood’. I can’t stand by and do nothing.


I honestly thought this was such a biggie that even if they rigged the vote, they wouldn’t allow us to leave.

I have fooled myself for a long time that I had no fucks to give. In the face of neo-nazism I find, to my surprise, I’m made of fucks.

Sorry, had to get it off my chest.



Just remember my favourite bit from an Alan Moore comic, Rorschach explaining how he became Rorschach to the shrink. He’d found a house of a kidnapper who’d murdered a little girl. Handcuffed him then set the house on fire.

“Stood in street. Watched it burn. Imagined limbless felt torsos inside; breasts blackening; bellies smouldering, bursting into flame one by one.

Watched for an hour.

Nobody got out.

Stood in firelight, sweltering, blood stain on chest like map of violent new continent.

Felt cleansed. Felt dark planet turn under my feet and knew what cats know that makes them scream like babies in night.

Looked at sky through smoke, heavy with human fat and god was not there. The cold suffocating dark goes on forever and we are alone.

Live our lives, lacking anything better to do. Devise reason later.

Born from oblivion, bear children, hell-bound as ourselves, go into oblivion.

There is nothing else.

Existence is random. Has no pattern save what we imagine after staring at it for too long.

No meaning save what we choose to impose.

This rudderless world in not shaped by vague metaphysical forces. It in not god who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to the dogs.

It’s us.

Only us.

Streets stank of fire. The void breathed hard on my heart, turnings it’s illusions to ice, shattering them.

Was reborn then, free to scrawl own design on this morally blank world.

Was Rorschach.”


Finally, 7 years after getting my licenses, I’ve got a real job!


It’s working for Wincanton for the Co-op at Lea Green, St Helens.

It’s further away than Hermes, but still only 20 minutes in rush hour in a car. Being St Helens it’s the right way down the M62 of a morning. Manchester bound is bollocksed from Warrington every day.

I have been looking for a real job for ages but what there are always have drawbacks. Nights, tramping, or Stobarts. £84.50 a shift for Stobarts. Not even an hourly rate. So if you do a 15 hour day you’re on £5.70 p/h. I don’t know how they can even advertise that, it’s below minimum wage, the piss-taking bastards.

Then I saw this job advertised for the Co-op. 4x 10 hr shifts. Interesting straight away. £12.93 p/h (I’m on a basic of £12.50 now but that’s as a limited company, no holiday pay, sick pay, have to pay my own accountant, never know what hours I’m getting from one week to the next.) I’ll get 21 days holiday (paid at 12.5 hrs per day, more for being on holiday than working!) which on a 4 day week is just over 5 weeks holiday a year. There is the option to work fifth or sixth shifts if I ask for it.

The downside is the shift pattern is Thursday to Sunday (not really arsed, so long as I’ve got fixed days off) it’s manual gearbox trucks (sweating on an hour and a half assessment today, not driven one in years) but you soon get used to that, and it’s poxy little stores to which you deliver. So, very tricky reversing. Just take my time and check everything twice.

Bank holidays are paid at double time and a day in lieu. Even if you don’t work them. So bank holiday Monday, my next shift (Thursday) would count as a bank holiday.  Plus there’s £100 a quarter attendance bonus (hardly ever off since I stopped drinking) and best of all, it’s fixed shifts with a fixed start time of 08.30! Unheard of in lorry driving jobs. I asked if that was a guideline start time. Nope, 08.30 is my shift. Thursday to Sunday.

I start my (7 day!) paid, induction on the 27th. 12 weeks probation period. I’ll not know until I do the job, but the assessor was saying it’s really relaxed atmosphere, no cab ‘phones, no hassling you over delays or whatever. He said you get about a 7 hour or so run, spend the rest of the time in the canteen.

I’m still trying to take it in. You know when something seems too good to be true and you’re waiting to see the catch?


In less glorious news the bike renovation has turned into a nightmare. As you might expect. I stripped it down apart from one bolt that got jammed half out. Wouldn’t tighten or loosen. In the end a mechanic chum on twitter said saw the bolt head off, lift the cylinders off, then attack the bolt at the base. Did so, still couldn’t move the bolt. Tried heating with a blow torch to free it, got some special oil, battered the hell out of it with an impact driver (converts hammer blow into jarring twisting motions) not a bloody sausage. In the end I tried drilling it out. If I drilled the middle of it out I could use a reverse thread screw (from my tap and die set) to screw the weakened bolt out. Drill bits wouldn’t touch the toughened steel of the bolt. I tracked down some super tough cobalt drill bit. I had a cracking hole going on, weakened the bolt to buggery. Then the drill bit snapped in the bolt. So now it’s a toughened steel bolt jam packed with a super toughened drill bit. Super.

My last hope is an engineering works recommended by a mechanic at work. He said they can weld a bolt head to the stump and screw it out like that. He said it’s a 10 minute job, probably about £20. He said.

I’ve already agreed to work tomorrow and Sunday at Herpes, so I’ve text them telling them that is all I’m doing. I’ll ring up on Monday and see if I can arrange to take my engine in next week.

All this for a paint job.

Was it worth it?

A 1000% no.



But to end on a positive, think of what I can do with this job! Three planned days off! I can train, start a martial art (again!), sleep, the possibilities are endless. Even if I find the willpower to work a regular five days, having days that are absolutely my own, no ‘phone call telling me to come in in an hour!  And the guy was saying that their peak, as a convenience store, is over the summer, people bobbing in for stuff, Xmas doesn’t really affect volume. So no 70 hour weeks!

Fingers crossed this job is all it seems.



Giant Steps

This is the start of my week off. I’m going to blog my attempts at bike restoration. The engine has had two winters of English rain and salt and is starting to look tatty.

First the other things that have been occurring.

I’ve just found out that Igloo, the primary agency for Hermes drivers, has lost the contract. As of the 3rd of July they are off site. This means all of us who are Limited Company drivers have to register with a new agency, Extra Personnel. Change is always a gamble. At the moment I’ve got my own truck (a 64 plate DAF) when they remember to save it for me, I’m getting regular work and at a decent start time. A sort of 08.00- 11.00 window. Mostly about 09.30.

I’m going to have to see if this new lot will stick with it. I’m not doing nights for a start.


My flute head finally arrived back, it is splendid. Should prevent my allergic reaction. Seems to blow free-er as well. Bonus.


I’ve gone back to calligraphy as well. Copperplate, which is *so* hard, and Gothic Blackletter which is hard but in a different way.



Copperplate is weird as you have to do ovals, at a 40 degree slant with hairlines up and squash the nib to make fat lines down. As you can see from my first attempts, bloody solid.


Early attempt at Blackletter.


What else? Ooh, finally sorted a bit of my garden into a a permanent feature that I like. I moved my acer last winter, carrying a back breaking amount of dirt in the roots, to try to minimise the stress and sulking. Seems to have worked.


I’m not so sure about everything else, especially the box hedge running alongside it, but the box circle with the acer sitting atop it is spot on. Now just got to wait for it to fill in. I’ve found a bit of box blight since the picture, when I was trimming it. Monty Don says you can grow through it just by giving a weekly feed of seaweed compost.

I’ve got a new T-shirt.


Today I went out to get a speaker for my ‘phone for the long hours I’m going to be spending in the shed. I put the washing on before I went out, came back to this:


Totally wasn’t expecting that.


I was caught up in an altercation on my run on Sunday, between some cyclists and a herd, 20 at least, of dog walkers. It made me think of martial arts again. And Lettie, my niece, was asking about weight loss martial arts. I’m thinking of doing Muay Thai (kickboxing). It’s not pretty but it is practical. The main selling point is that the traditional grading is by fighting people of other clubs. It’s like traditional boxing in so much as there’s a huge emphasis on fitness and lots of time in the ring, actually fighting. That is the one thing you don’t really get in other martial arts, a sense of real world confidence. You can spar and such, but you don’t know how well that would translate. I’ve been watching videos from the clubs, it’s boxing gloves and shin pads, but knocking the crap out of each other. And I know of one girl who’s husband beat her up, she did kickboxing and knocked seven bells out of him when he tried it again.

Wendy nearly died of eye-roll when I said. She thinks I’m determined to join every martial arts club in the world.



So, to the point, this week is about my bike. Taking my ‘getting there’ bike and tidying up the wear and tear.

Of course, Valhalla Bound is looking nice, but worn. I want to return the engine to this:


Yesterday, after an early dart, I cleared everything out of the shed and brushed it out, chucked down our old rug, and, after much sweating and heaving, popped the bike in. Today I followed the instructions. Tank off, seat off, exhausts off, side panels, air box, carbs, brake lever, foot peg, all the electrics, breather pipes, gear lever, clutch cable, sensor cables, final drive sprocket and chain, alternator, engine mounting bolts and engine brackets.


Then just lift the rear of the engine and pull it out to the right.


I was heaving with all my might and couldn’t budge it. I was getting worried. I couldn’t lift it enough to even replace the brackets and such. Couldn’t get it out, scared I couldn’t even get it back in.

I got my car jack under the engine (with a bit of wood between it and the engine, obvs) and jacked it up. It lifted a bit but not enough. Now I was really panicking. I tried three or four times in different places. As I was jacking the engine up it was lifting the frame with it.

I thought it must be caught on something, so I dropped it again, and had a mooch around. There was another bolt running through the back of the engine through the frame. Bastard. No mention of that in the workshop manual. I popped that out and, although it was still heavy as a bastard, managed to get the engine out.


Oh god, oh god! What have I done?

I started to wash off the oil and mud and crap but my plastic scratchy thing soon got clogged and I was just spreading it. I have some stuff that’s supposed to clean it up right nice. I’m letting it dry overnight then crack on tomorrow.

While I was working I heard a thud on the roof. A baby bird had run out of fly.


It spent 20 minutes getting it’s breath back then flew off.

Well, I’m committed now. Got to get the job done.

More as it happens.


Back in the saddle.

It’s been a while. I kind of stopped updating this because all I was doing was working and sleeping.

However, things are changing.

I’ve been back at my running for a month or two and not buggered myself up. I went at it too hard, too fast, as ever and got warning pains in my legs. I decided to go back to basics so I’ve downloaded a basic marathon training plan. It’s a stage 2 intermediate one. The utter noob ones are walk/ run ones so no good to me. This is pitched at getting a former marathoner back up to fitness. Perfect. I started at the end of week five, with 12 miles as the ‘long’ run. I’m a week and a half in and have achieved some good results already. I will be up to 20 mile long run in 7 weeks. That’s as long as this plan goes, but the logic of it is two weeks increase, one week step back, I can carry on in that style for another few weeks until I’m up to full race distance. Then, when I’m fit enough and hardened, I can go back and start speed training and pushing the distance.

I’ve entered the Warrington half marathon and the Chester marathon, then I want to see where I am. If I could realistically get my speed up to a sub 3 hour marathon pace (a *huge* ask) I might enter next years Manchester marathon (flat as a pancake) if not I’ll do the Liverpool- Manchester ultra. 47 miles along the transpenine trail. Which is all old converted railway tracks and canals. Nice scenic day out.

The big problem is the November/ December working stupid hours thing. If you are doing 12+ hours a day you can only sleep after it. Both of the runs are in April. So realistically I can only commit to one. If I’m running 40 miles as 10 m/m to conserve energy that;s the opposite of running 20 miles at flat out 6.30 m/m.

I was just looking for the figures for that. 6.40 is a 2 hrs 55 min marathon.

Yesterday the training plan called for 4 miles easy. (I know! 4 miles!) Anyway I went out against a strong wind and I was doing 8.30’s (it said to run 60-90 seconds off your race pace, which, pitifully is only 8 m/m’s for me at the moment.) I couldn’t force myself to run it at 9.30, which is my bad. I turned around and putting the same effort in but with the wind at my back I did a 7.55! I’d broke the 8 minute barrier! I put my back into it for the last mile (again, I shouldn’t have. The plan is to get there slowly but without breaking) and did a 7.22!

In a few weeks I’ve gone from 8.30 being a tough pace to breaking 7.30. I’m looking at that 6.40. That is do-able. OK, I only did one mile, but I’m just coming back from injury and absence. Keep to the plan above, but I reckon that’s not impossible.


In other news I’ve quit my karate club, I just couldn’t make it. My shifts were everywhere, I missed two months due to the work and sleep no life period. Meh. And I’ve quit Facebook. It just annoys me.


Work has picked up to the point where I’m really glad they are having a sulk at me (I wouldn’t work Saturday. They arbitrarily cut the pay for Saturdays by £5 p/h after xmas rush. And that was the last Saturday I’ll work for them.) Long and short being they had me in Sunday, Bank Holiday Monday (flat rate, grrrrr) no work today or tomorrow. Screw ‘em.

More good news on the work front, Wendy has finally got her hours back. They had cut her right back to 18 hours a week, she’s now on 32, as of this week. That will make a huge difference to her wages, obviously.


Something else that had changed is my plan for that groovy car. The manufacturer finally replied and said they were selling them in the USA first, before hoping to expand. That was a setback. What finally killed it off was a tangential conversation about trikes, someone saying something about speed bumps. The groovy car has two outrider front wheels, a single central rear wheel. There is no way to get to our house without smashing it to pieces on a dozen speed bumps. So that’s dead in the water.


One odd thing that happened last week. I was out on a run when somehow I fell over. I landed on my side on the gravel, banging up my knee and elbow and driving my elbow under my ribs to wind myself. I landed heavy enough to send my baseball cap flying, even with my ponytail fed through the back of it.

I say it’s odd because I run down there often, before and after. There is nothing to trip over. And why didn’t I land on my hands? If you fall over you arrest your fall with your hands by instinct, or go into a roll. I have done that by instinct before. It’s unlikely, but I’m harbouring the suspicion I may have passed out. It’s only ever been when I’ve suddenly stood up before. Unless it happens again I think I’m best going with “freak trip” but still, odd.


The flute was a success. After a fashion. Portable, light. and musical.

Same fingering as a sax? MY ARSE!

And it’s not got a reed, you have to blow across a hole, they say ‘like blowing into a coke bottle’. It took me days just to get a note. I was moving on, overcoming the fact the fingering is just different enough from a sax to totally bugger you up, when I got a rash under my lip. It was a major rash. I couldn’t sleep due to the itching then it was weeping, not good at all.

I looked it up. I couldn’t understand it as it was silver (non-reactive) coated. It turns out silver only has to be 97.5% silver, the other 2.5% can be nickel or whatever. That is what causes the allergic reaction. Which can lead to septicaemia. Which can be fatal. Super.

I was looking up all sorts of work-arounds.  Solid silver headpiece (£130 for a £47 flute!) but no guarantee it wouldn’t affect me the same. I saw a gorgeous black hardwood flute with silver keys but the cheapest, from China, was over £600. I was tempted, but reminded myself this is just a means to an end, that of playing the sax.

In the end I stumbled across an Albanian guy on ebay. You send him your headpiece and he coats it in a wood of your choosing.  A wooden lippiece should cure my problems.  It’s been about 4 weeks already though. 3 weeks getting there, a week for him to make it, now I have to wait for the royal mail carrier tortoise to plod back with it. If it still blows the same when it finally gets back here that should do it.


I’ve booked a week off at the end of May and ordered shit loads of stuff. I’m going to take my bike apart, whip the engine out, clean it, strip it down to the pistons, then respray the barrels, head, and engine. And clean off the flaking lacquer off the engine covers, strip them down, polish them up, and coat in a fixer. Also, while the engine is out, I’m going to de-rust the frame and spray up the corroded bits. And strip and repaint the swinging arm. And strip the paint off the forks and polish them up. And remove the gaiters. And tart up the exhaust.

Then sell if for scrap when I can’t put it back together again.

That was a joke.

I hope.

By the way, I’ve renamed the bike: “Valhalla Bound” got some gothic blackletter lettering to that effect. I’ve just remembered, I took the bike for an MOT. I was really worried it wasn’t going to pass with the meatier exhaust on. I was dreading having to spend £400 on a standard exhaust just for tests. But it sailed through. A few minor things, headlight beam too high, brake light not showing for front brake, the blue lights. I disconnected and reconnected the brake (fixed) and unplugged the blue lights for the test. And that was that. Job’s a good ‘un.


Whilst I’m going to be off for a week I’ve booked half an hour in at the tattoo place to have my Sisters tat re-inked. Running in the sun last year has bleached some of it. Bah. What’s the point if I can’t show it off?


Also I’ll take the opportunity to get an eye test and some proper readers.


I was on about going back to Bookers, but I’m torn. I’m making shitloads of money here. In the long term, if I can get taken on at Bookers it’s the way to go, loads better job, treated decently, full time (holiday pay! Yay!)  and better money. But I’ve just got my 2015 tax return. I made £27K in 2015. If I go back to Bookers it’s going to be a big pay cut (as less work, less money per hour) in the short term.

After this week off I think I’ll try again. Wendy gets a big pay increase this month, that should cover it.


Finally, as I’ve obviously not got enough on my plate, I’m going to do a parachute jump in the summer. I wanted to do a solo freefall, but your options are solo static line (like in the old war movies where you jump out of the ‘plane and a line pulls your ‘chute out) tandem freefall (you get a bit of freefall but are basically a passenger) and instructed freefall (you pull your own ‘chute but have two instructors holding on to you all the way down giving you instructions.)

All have their drawbacks. Static line has no freefall. Tandem you are just a passenger. Instructed freefall is twice the price and you are have two people hanging on to you.

I’m thinking static line. 6 hours training, jump the same day. It’s the stepping out of the ‘plane bit that’s going to be the big buzz, anyway. Especially as I’m scared of heights. Whaddayagonnado? I’m not letting fear cramp my fun.

I should be able to squeeze in a “VALHALLA, I COME!”  at some point. Or I want my money back.

Feast or famine. I say nothing for two months then can’t shut up.

OK, enough is enough.



The only thing I knew how to do…

..was to keep on keeping on. To quote Bob Dylan.

I’m over my sulk about the bike. There’s always tomorrow. And now I’ve got my new exhaust and I’m back to riding again I love my bike again.

One thing I have taken from that Triton, and a professional W650 chop, is to get ‘velocity stacks’ (bellmouth intakes) for the carbs. I’ve had to order them from the States to get the right size, I’ve also got some bigger jets for the carbs. When the bellmouths arrive I’ll fit them and sort out my my jetting once and for all.

Bike’s looking like this at the mo:



Or, back in the 60’s



The change of intakes from cones to bellmouth won’t be that noticeable at first, as those black plastic side covers mostly hide them but I want to fabricate flat, polished aluminium, inserts to fill in the triangle made by the frame (under seat, down from shocks, up to back of tank). That will keep the battery nicely hidden and expose the carbs and intakes. Also ditch the plastic.

I’ve a feeling that Sexy Bastard (the bike) is always going to be a work in progress.


Work has been my other obsession of late. Seems to be a week of crap, three short shifts, then get battered for a week. I’ve had enough. I was off for 3 days this week and I’ve spent them mostly trying to find a job. I’ve applied for two, not got an answer yet, registered with another agency (that was a bust) and I’ve bookmarked a local company. I keep checking to see if they are advertising for drivers as they won’t let you put in a speculative CV and application form. Some random guy I got talking to at work said he’s starting on the 23rd.

£12.50 p/h, guaranteed 40 hours minimum, full time job, 06.00 start. It doesn’t get much better than that.

My game plan, through want of option, is to stick at Herpes until I can get a real job. The agency with which I registered today were promising lots on the advert, but can only give me one day at a time, £11 p/h. Ideally I could take days with them when Herpes didn’t want me, but I never know in advance.

Bugger. I’ve come over all knackered. Finish this anon.




Right, weeks later. I got my bellmouths. They looked great. I tried many different jets (seat off, tank off, side panels off, disconnect wiring, intakes off, engine breather filter off, free carbs, flip them, take off bottom, unscrew jet, replace, put everything back together.) I have gone from a dread of messing with my jets to being able to strip and rebuild the whole bloody thing in about 25 minutes.

All to no avail. Online it says if you are OK off the mark but lacking top end put in bigger jets. Poor bugger was getting to 5,000 revs then just strangling. Standard jet is 118. I tried, 122, 140, 142.5, 150, 155… nada.

I tried them with the K&N airfilters then with the bellmouths. So many strip downs and rebuilds. Not a sodding sausage of difference.

In the end I gave up and went around to a bike mechanic. He said “it’s a vacuum carb, unrestricted air flow buggers them up, they just flutter. Go home, refit your standard air box and jets. Try that.”

Guess what?

I upped the idler jet, but the main jet is back to bog standard 118, and suddenly she revs into the red and I’ve gone from a gasping 80mph to 120mph. Allegedly.

OK, it’s not the look that I want, but I am so happy! I thought I’d killed my bike, nothing was working.

And massive kudos to the bike mechanic. He could have told me to bring it in, with the standard air box and jets, and charged me hundreds of quid. And I would still have been happy just to get my bike back working again. I mean, I’ll try most jobs if I’m told what to do, it’s that knowledge that is so valuable. He dispensed it for free. What a bloody good egg.

The trouble was getting the carbs back into the airbox rubber gaiter things. It took me hours. You get one side in and the other pops out. It had me raging. I ended up punching the airbox in rage. Luckily it’s solid Japanese build quality so I just popped my knuckle and didn’t damage the bike.


In other news, work has suddenly turned the corner. Now I’m getting enough hours that I am glad to get the odd day off.


Also I’ve seen a groovy car/ trike. It’s supposed to be retailing at $6,800 brand new. I’ve emailed them to see if they are importing it to the UK, if it will be road legal here, and what it would cost. If it’s not too much more I’m going to order one. It is so cool.


2 seater, (one behind the other) 900cc, can crack the ton, 84mpg, and utterly groovy!

I’ve also asked if it’s going to be a manual gearbox. At that price I don’t expect they’ll be going auto. Also, being a central driver seat them driving on the wrong side won’t be a chore. Possibly have the controls on the wrong side, but I can easily adjust to that. The only initial downside is the fact there’s only one door. I’ll have to get out ever time I run Wendy to work. Which, apart from shopping, is the only time I really use the car. There is another wheel sticking out on the other side to the front wheel, in case you were thinking it was like an outrigger canoe.


I haven’t been training for nearly 6 weeks as my cunning plan, to do shorter runs, with sprint sections in them, quickly turned into fast runs with faster sprints. Within a week or so I’d buggered my achilles tendon. I always go at it too hard too quickly. I have very unrealistic expectations of what I can do and don’t accept my body not doing it. So I was resting the injury and, as I say, work has been pretty hectic.Two weeks ago I did, 14 hours 45, 13.30 10.30 (part timer!) 14.15 and 12.30 in a 5 day week. No time to do anything but sleep and work.

I’ve actually had a whole weekend off this weekend. So I rebuilt my carbs (again!) and did some gardening yesterday, today went out for a deliberately slow run. Which turned into a 10 miler. I think I may have got away with it, injury wise. Proved the adage that running is 90% mental. The other 50% being physical.

It was quite a mental challenge, 10 miles after 6 weeks off, and at my new porky weight of 12 stone 1. I started my diet today as well. Because of my fatitude they online calculator reckons I burned 1,265 calories shuffling my fat arse around for 1 hour 36 minutes. I’m trying to be positive and think I “ran” for 1:36, straight off the bat, rather than say “It took you *how* long, lard arse?”

Right now, speed on the run is not my friend. I have seen an ultra I wouldn’t mind doing, Liverpool to Manchester down the TransPenine Trail. 47 miles of converted old railway lines and canal paths. I’m only 37 miles off cracking that!

It all depends on work. If I can fit consistent training in around it.

Also, for work, I had the brilliant idea of a flute. Apparently the same fingering as a sax, so practice my sax on a small, portable instrument. Selling them brand new, in a hard case, from China for £50. What’s not to love? I got one and went to crack off a few tunes. HA!

Totally different embouchure.  Instead of sticking it in your gob and controlling the reed vibration with stiff lips, you rest the pipe against your bottom lip and blow over the hole. Not into it. It’s a bastard to get right.

Still, something to do in the long hours I’m waiting at some drops.

Right, today has taken it out of me, I’m off to bed.



All the same but different.

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged with one thing and another.

As usual it was “be careful what you wish for”. I wanted the Hermes job for some fast bucks (as it were) then ended up doing 70+ hour weeks. Two weeks my top line was over a grand. Yet we still owe as much.

As soon as xmas rush was over, the very next week, I got 3 shifts. Then three shifts, then 16 hours in a week.  I thought I’d pissed the women off who runs the agency as I had 4 days off before xmas, when I was bedbound with some filthy malaise.

I sent a text after the 16 hour week asking what was occurring, but thankfully they then shifted her upstairs and we got a new boss. Since then I’ve not been doing too bad. The downside is that the work starts in the afternoon now. So a 16.00 start can (and has on three occasions) turn into an all night shift. Glass half full, I did get 54 hours last week.

Then they announced, post xmas peak, an arbitrary pay cut. The long term workers say that was the peak rate, September to January, but no one told me when I started. It’s a pound an hour less on days and nights, one pound fifty on Sunday, and a fiver an hour on Saturday!

I raged and looked for a new job straight away, the trouble is, no one else is offering £12.50 p/h (day rate, £13.50 past 18.00) and definitely not £16 p/h on Sundays.  

I swallowed my pride out of lack of option. I’m not cutting off my nose to spite my face. I text them and said I don’t work Saturdays anymore. Sunday-Thurs/ Fri only. My pride can live with that.


I’ve not posted any pictures of my latest incarnation of the bike on here.

She’s looking good.




Actually that’s not quite the latest. I like the peashooter exhausts but I wanted the upswept megaphone style.

I tried to do it on the cheap. You can buy just the silencers, and also some upswept pipe bits. You have to take your bravery by the scruff off the neck and actually saw off the peashooter bit, just leaving the downpipes.

This I did, fitted the kick up pipes, slipped on the silencers,all in a few hours. Job’s a good ‘un.

You can tell this story doesn’t end there, can’t you?

Fired her up, roared like a wounded dragon!  Absolutely massive din. I took the silencers apart (as you are supposed to do) and the interior was basically a tube with holes in it. I should have took pictures. It totally took the piss. If you can imagine a bean tin drilled out all down the sides and all over the bottom, that was it. They said you could adjust the sound baffling (hence it being designed to be stripped down) but it was ridiculous. There was no way I could ride it, the plod would have been all over me, and the neighbours would be grassing me up. I ordered some baffling material. Lots of baffling material. but it’s not made that much difference. Also, while I was buggering up the back pressure of my exhausts I thought I go the whole hog and replace the big, clunky airbox (behind those black plastic panels) with K&N air filters. Just looks nicer. They look like red cones that stick straight to the carbs.  Obviously this buggers up your fuelling in a major way. Suddenly, instead of a choked off dribble of air going into the carbs you’ve got unrestricted gales of it.  So you’re 14/1 air/ fuel ratio goes right out of the window.

This means you have to replace primary and idler jets on the carbs and reset the pilot thingy. (You see how quickly I picked up the jargon?)

To be honest, this sounded a fiddly and potentially bike killing job so I was putting it off. When I realised I was going to have to do it for the exhaust I thought I’d do the air filters and exhaust at the same time, save having to do the job twice.

Twice. Ha!

You have to strip the seat, tank, side covers, a wiring harness thingy, unplug the breather pipes, take off the air filters and the engine breather filter, wriggle the carbs out from their rubber socket, turn them upside down and take the bottom off just to get at each jet. You have to do main jet first. Get that right (there were three sizes to try) then the idler jet, then the idler thingy.

By the time I’d finished I could strip it all down and reassemble in about 25 minutes.

And I’m still not happy with the performance. But I’m on hold at the moment because I’ve realised the cheapo exhaust option was a lemon. I’ve had to order the proper full exhaust.

Now I’m doubly kicking myself because I’ve ruined a perfectly good exhaust system for no reason and I’m having to buy the full cost one anyway. Stupid, stupid. stupid.

Anyway, this is the exhaust I’ve ordered.


That’s it then for this year. I’m going to get it running right, (oh, and have a week off in May to take the engine out and clean it up and respray it back to tidy) then just pay the bills and get us straight.

Next year I’m going to have to do the handlebars/ headstock thing though. After seeing this:


OK, uncomfy as hell, but look at how aggressive those clip-on handlebars make the bike’s posture.


Damn. I’m looking at that and I realise my bum looks big in this. Look how the tank line curves down, the seat picks up the line and the mudguard extends it. Damn, that’s classy. Mine’s looking like what it is, bit’s slapped on randomly by a clueless but enthusiastic idiot.

Damn, damn and thrice damn.

Still you do the best you can. Now I’m thinking of having the diamond rear frame cut out and replaced with a U loop so I can get a narrow, low seat. Balls. DAMN YOU, INTERNET!

Well, that was supposed to be touching on my bike progress or lack thereof, turned into a major digression.

Haha, scrolled back, started with “latest incarnation of the bike…she’s looking good” a few paragraphs later “looking like… bits slapped on… by a clueless…idiot”


Coveting your neighbours ass is never a good thing on the internet, the whole world is your neighbour and some of their asses are built by professionals. The very best in their field. I’ve got the capacity to appreciate and understand their artistry but noting like the skill to emulate it.


Right, I’ve completely lost whatever thread I was hoping to pursue. I’m a bit cheesed off now.

I’m back at work tomorrow (morning, yay!) so I’m going to have a shower and plan my revenge on that Triton.

Sorry, I hadn’t planned to get bogged down in bikes, more anon.

Just noticed something else. Look at how snugly that back wheel fits, then look at the W650, both mine and the shop one (demonstrating the exhaust) huge gap over wheel. I need shorter shocks. Then I’d have to get shorter fork stanchions to drop the front equally. But that would probably bugger up ground clearance. Oh now I’m in a whole world of aesthetic quandary.