Moto Diaries

Moto Guzzi Stelvio

Posted by Derek Mansfield on 21 December 2011 | 0 Comments

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Moto Guzzi Stelvio Adventure motorcycle

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Opticians - solving problems, not just flogging product

Posted by on 25 June 2011 | 0 Comments

opticians stainesWalking into Bank wearing optical shades like a first class poseur.
Remove shades, take out indoor glasses. Arm falls off.
Not my RSI ridden flesh and blood arm, the spectacle arm. 
No problem: Boots, from whence I purchased said spectacles is a few hundred metres hence.  
Poseur shades back on (shame the sun has disappeared)
Into Boots feeling my way because it is dark in the store and I have to wear shades
“Good Day young man. These have broken, can you repair please? I am leaving the country in 7 days for 2 ½ months and need new glasses by then”
Furtive conversation ensues between young man and female shift manager. 
“Sorry Sir, the arm is broken. There is nothing we can do with them.” 
“I know the arm is broken. That is why I brought them to you. For repair.”
“Sir, they are out of guarantee.”
“Out of Guarantee? Good God, do you know how much these cost?”
“Yes sir. It says here £240.”
“So I paid £240 fifteen months ago and I have to throw them away?”
“Well yes sir. “
Scuffling is heard. There is hand around my neck. Aaaah! It is my hand. It is stopping me from attacking staff.
I left the store.
In the High Street the Optical Shop had a laboratory on site.
Angela, one of the managers was charming. “So you need these varifocal lenses with a week? I’ll see if we can do it.” Three minutes later “Yes we can”. 
“There is an alternative.” she said. “We could take your existing lenses and put them into a new frame.”
Twenty minutes later, smart new frame, perfect fit, £75. 
Problem solving, not selling me new kit for the sake of it. Great people, great store http://www.opticalshop.info/
I’ll be back to get my new prescription glasses in the Autumn.

Walking into Bank wearing optical shades like a first class poseur.

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What to take on a motorcycle journey

Posted by Derek Mansfield on 13 June 2011 | 3 Comments

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What to take on a long distance motorcycle journey.
When I plan my journeys I spend a lot of time on Google maps. Finally I print maybe one or two views which show a route of 5,000 to 8,000 miles. Good overview, not much detail.
Google maps are fantastic tools: unfortunately they require web access and  the internet is not always available or free when you’re out in the boonies.
So to supplement Google maps  it’s likely that 20% of the space and weight in my bags is taken up by electronics.
There’s a laptop - essential for up to the moment reports on the road, the laptop charging kit - also comprising an inverter to convert DC (motorcycle battery) power to AC - and several different cables for phones and cameras to be charged whilst moving,  (Sat Navs eat power). 
Last year I experienced a lot of pain when using ear bud headsets connected directly to the phone – using the buds up to 14 hours a day I should have expected it; so the Bluetooth helmet upgrade is designed to obviate the ear buds and take care of GPS and sound.
Thus even my helmet needs charging kit as the Bluetooth GPS system uses the headphones built in to the helmet itself.
So what works?
Well, over 50mph I cannot hear opera. Over 70mph I cannot hear rock n’roll. This setup gives me automatic speed data.
GPS? My Ndrive system sulks in silence most of the time because I refuse to follow absurd instructions.
My advice on what to pack? A map.
And one of these for making coffee http://aerobie.com/products/aeropress.htm

When I plan my journeys I spend a lot of time on Google maps. Finally I print maybe one or two views which show a route of 5,000 to 8,000 miles. Good overview, not much detail.

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Ten hours in a thunderstorm.

Posted by Derek Mansfield on 13 June 2011 | 1 Comments

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I was staying in Zatoka, http://www.zatoka-ua.org/2009-05-05-12-38-50.html a spit of land 80 kms east of Odessa that stretches across a natural bay in the Black Sea.
On Saturday, Zadoka had a tropical downpour.  Three hours of thunder, lightning and rain that the left the streets knee-deep in flood water and impassable for everything but 4x4s. 
I carefully checked the weather for the ride back to Kiev on Sunday. Leave Zatoka between 0800 and 11.00 in sunshine, arrive Kiev 14.00 to 17.00 in sunshine.
No problem, except it was 12.00 when I got moving. And being exceptionally clever and cool, I had left the wet weather gear in Kiev.
For the next 10 hours I was stuck between two tropical storm fronts moving north at approximately the same speed as me.  Solid rain, gales, cold and distinctly disturbing lightning.
Although the journey was only 560 kms (350 miles) because I had no wet weather kit and wore a half helmet and shades the ride was  tougher than my first 1000 mile Iron Butt. http://www.ironbutt.com
So cool is ok, stupid is not. In future I will pack wet weather gear regardless.

I was staying in Zatoka, a spit of land 80 kms east of Odessa that stretches across a natural bay in the Black Sea.

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How to buy coffee filters in Kiev.

Posted by on 6 June 2011 | 2 Comments

I stopped drinking alcohol many years ago. More recently I stopped smoking too. But I do like coffee.

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Germany - how did they do that?

Posted by Derek Mansfield on 29 May 2011 | 0 Comments

In Britain, on the motorway in the fast lane at 80mph you’re the man!

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Dover – Dunkirk Ferry.

Posted by Derek Mansfield on 28 May 2011 | 0 Comments

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Dover – Dunkirk Ferry.

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Customer service and my deep dislike of health and safety

Posted by Derek Mansfield on 25 May 2011 | 0 Comments

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I am wrapped up today. My arms anyway.

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Time to buy the ticket.

Posted by Derek on 20 May 2011 | 4 Comments

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Avid readers will know that I wasn't quite so well organised last year; I bought the ferry ticket on the day of travel and as a consequence, there were many subsequences.

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