Archive for August, 2008

The cost of electricity and inflation eh!

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

An idea to take the covers off Rhonda and head down to the local Argos store to spend some vouchers on bits failed in the extreme. Rhonda failed to start and I did not want to pester Ogri again, I decided I needed to buy my own Optimate battery charger. I also decided I needed it quick and drove to the nearest Halfords car accessory shop with no success and then to the nearest bikeshop I knew. Some 49 pounds later a charger was in my hands and within an hour the flat battery was on charge.

I did go to Argos to spend my 45 quid’s worth of gift vouchers but the item I wanted was out of stock so I came away with a miniature 12 volt tyre inflator which is small enough to fit under the seat and an Oxford first time tank bag. Total cost 39 pounds and I have a 10 pound gift voucher left.  Total cost from scratch…

Bike £3024.1 Total spend £4214.09

The cost of electricity and inflation eh!

 

Ready to roll? well not quite

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

The centre stand arrived and with in 48 hours of ordering it. Fitting it was a barrel of laughs as Roger Moor and me pulled and tugged at the large spring which keeps it in situ. In the end brute force and some cunning with levers won the day and the stand was firmly in place. As I have mentioned in previous posts, the Transalp is not a big bike but I am going to have to develop arm muscles like Garth if I am to snap it smartly into the stand when the need for it arrives.

I am now waiting for the Givi crash bars to arrive. These were ordered at the same time as the centre stand but from reading the forums they are notoriously late with dispatching goods but I have noticed they have taken the money from my credit card. Oh well hopefully I will never have to buy these things again. After some experimentation with soft panniers I have also realised that some pannier racks will have to be ordered to keep any panniers from coming into contact with the exhaust. The exhaust on the TA is placed high up to maximise ground clearance. It exits at the exact point the panniers would sit on the rear seat and would burn a hole in the right hand side pannier if not kept away by some means.

Fortunately some scouring on the internet has found a cheap set which as well as stopping the exhaust burning a hole into the panniers should not burn a hole in my credit card which is currently screaming as funds are rolling away at an alarming rate. I will be including the cost of the pannier racks into the bike section as they will not fit any machine other than a TA. The cost of the bike so far stands at £3204.1 and the running total cost of bike and equipment stands at £4126.1. I figure that expenditure of another £2500 is required before the bike and me are ready to roll.

 

The costs are running riot!

Monday, August 18th, 2008

The big trip has been delayed for 12 months at least and while I am sad not to be going sooner it has at least given me another 12 months to save and buy all the prospective gear I need.

I have therefore come up with four categories of expenditure. Firstly the cost of the bike and the bits that will only fit that model and cannot be transferred onto another bike at some point in the future. For example I have spent around 250 pounds on security and locks but they will be transferable to another machine.

Secondly the bits that can be transferred such as tank bags and panniers etc. Thirdly the cost of camping equipment such as a tent and sleeping bag and fourthly all of the ancillaries such as medical kit, special lightweight wash towels etc.

This weekend gone I bought a two-man tent from a camping shop. It was one of a series of experimental tents that apparently were used for exhibition but did not make it into production. It’s a Khyam tent with a quilted and waterproof groundsheet. I have never seen a quilted and padded groundsheet before and I have to assume that it is for mountain use or somewhere cold and snowy where insulation is of the utmost importance. A search on Google did not seem to come up with any thing about the tent either. Anyway I have got it and it will do the job I have in mind for it.

The next item of purchase will be a centre stand for the bike and an engine guard/crash bar. As these two items will only fit a Transalp they will be included in the cost of the bike.

I will make a spreadsheet with a link to it so each of you can see what has been purchased and for how much with a running total at the end.

I should be grateful

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

It has been a strange weekend. The weather as usual has been awful.  Spirits have been low all around and most people are in awe of the events unfolding around us, mainly the credit crunch and now the news that Russia has invaded Georgia. Most of this has not been overshadowed by the Olympics in China which to be honest has not held my attention. Graphics in instead of real fireworks and a young girl who mimed to some one else’s voice because the originator of the voice was not deemed photogenic enough. Yes it is a shambles and would have been a master piece of PRif they had not been caught out!

Anyway Bean Counter and I decide to take Rhonda out for a spin on Sunday evening and watch the sun go down on the local shore line. This would have been a triumph if it had not been for the low lying cloud that hid any rays of sunshine that might have been in the offing. Anyway I bumped into a friend or at least some I have known for 20 years or more and they told me they are going away to Spain. Yet again it seems as though every one else but me is moving away. I wished them well and I sincerely hope that they make it. As for me well I am stuck here for another year at least or until the credit crunch is over.

It is strange but the crunch that started in America by people that I have never met and will never know has affected my life so much. Roll forward 24 hours and I am the house belonging to Little Miss Sunshine and for some strange reason I am watching a soap opera that normally I would never have given the time of day to. However this particular episode involves some one who was in the very first episode some 40 odd years ago. The guy is now in his seventies and is trying to write a book that encapsulates his life and all of his triumphs but mainly failures. He is stuck in the same house and the same road that he grew up in and has never managed to escape from it all.

There is absolutely nothing wrong in this if you are happy to die where you were born but he is not and I somehow felt a lot of empathy for this character. What if this happens to me? It appears that every one I know is leaving for sunnier climes and happier shores. The list is too long to even mention but here I am still in the same house I grew up in. In the grand scheme of things I am not struggling for food or shelter, I do not have to worry about famine or war and I live on a lot more than a dollar a day that many people in the third world, have to live on.

However something is amiss and I doubt that I will ever find out what it is. I only know that I do not want to be here but I don’t know where I want to be or what I want to do when I get there. The credit crunch, started by people I do not know, in a country I do not live in has affected me and all the plans I ever had. It is so frustrating to be bound by circumstances beyond your control. If I was massively in debt and had wasted opportunities then yes I could say that what ever fate befell me, it was my own fault. But this is not the case, I have stuck by the rules of the system in the belief that eventually I would be better off for having done so. In reality I am no better off than some one who has never worked and has claimed benefits through out their lives. They have nothing to lose and I do and I have. The state will pick them up dust them down and ensure that they do not lose out.  The state cares nothing for me and millions like me, we are merely tax payers or cash cows to be milked until we have no further use and then discarded and castigated for daring to complain and voice our opinions.

My friends who have managed to escape agree with me and that is why they will never come back to the UK and most of those I know, if they have not made arrangements to escape are planning to.  Still living on more than a dollar a day, knowing the water is safe to drink and that tanks will not appear over the horizon any minute now must be a blessing and for that I should be grateful.

I can hardly wait

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

As so often happens in these British climes, it was raining. I had just delivered to Ted Magnum the final bits of steel and we had finished off the Parilla. It was a work of art worthy of a Tate Gallery exhibition. Surely If Tracy whatsername could exhibit an unmade bed, then TM and me could exhibit an example of rustic British engineering and win a prize? No it was never going to happen but we were both proud of what we had managed to knock up on a budget that was both functional and reasonably good looking and cheap to boot. (click here for pics)

Several hours later me and Roger Moor are sat in the grounds of Château Ghastanbury looking at the grey skies and dark clouds overhead when RM announced he had some Porkinsons sausages and did I fancy a sausage butty?  I figured it was a sign that we should roll out the Webber and spark up a Barbie while we still had some daylight and the outline of the sun could still be seen through the leaden skies. Several beers later, much cursing, plenty of matches, some petrol and lots of smoke and we finally had some flames to be proud of and the sausages were thrown onto the greying coals.

I rang Bean Counter to see if she wanted to join us but she had a better offer and declined and so I contacted Little Miss Sunshine who had nothing better to do than come and join us for an hour or two. She brought her dog which made the day for Genghis, well not exactly! Genghis and Angel stared each other out with some intensity which would have been a lot worse had Angel not been tethered to the ground. Some chilli burgers a few beers and some sausages later and The Beast turned up, at my invitation of course. The football season in theUK has started and so we watched my beloved LFC play Standard Liege on the TV with a few beers and then we had a brainwave.

It was one of those moments when you think why has no one ever thought of this before? Who ever said pizza could not be cooked on a barbecue? I can’t think exactly who but I have never known any one cook a pizza on a Barbie before. So RM, TB and me looked at each other said why not? More coals were added to the Webber kettle grill and we waited until the heat had built up so much that you could not put a hand over the coals for more than a few seconds. At this point we threw a frozen pizza onto the grill and stood back. It took 25 minute to cook and the base was slightly more crispy then we would of liked. We decide more heat was required to cook the pizza faster. Our next attempt saw a pizza shrivelled in less than five minutes as the heat was too much. That one went into the bin! A decision was made to cook the next pizza on a grill in a baking tray so that no heat was in direct contact with the pizza.

15 Minutes later and we had a success, crispy base but not burnt a topping that was cooked but not crispy or raw and a smell to die for. A combination of charcoal and pizza toppings of pineapple and ham and some smoke, success on a plate, or a Findus as I like to call it. After cooking joints of meat, spit roasting some large animals and cooking a myriad of fast food, I can now add Pizza to the list of foodstuffs I have successfully cooked over open flames.

As for Tedstock 2008 and the new grill I can hardly wait.

Pass the Gin!

Friday, August 8th, 2008

Virtually all plans are on hold for the foreseeable future. The recession is turning into a full blown crisis. To give you a clue as to how it has affected score of people, repossessions are at an 18 year high and lays off and redundancies are the talk of most pubs for those who can still afford to go in them. I find it hard to fathom how events in the US have affected us here, but they have and the sub prime market has hit the prime market or in other words, the shit has hit the fan.

I had planned to sell my house next march and had 3 buyers lined up for it. One by one they have contacted me to inform me that although they can get a mortgage they cannot get a mortgage for the price of the house. Let me explain for those of you in other parts of the world who may not understand how our economy in the UK works. Many years ago mortgage companies would only lend a certain value of the house you wanted to buy. That way if you ever defaulted on the payments they were sure of getting all of their money back. During the 90’s and the noughties that percentage went way over 100% of the value. So it was possible to borrow more money than the property was worth. The banks figured that with property prices constantly going up they could not lose.

Fast forward to the credit crunch and no one will lend any money or if they do the percentage available is falling fast. For instance a few months ago it was possible to obtain a 90% mortgage, then it fell to 80% then to 75% and now news is that the banks will only lend a maximum of 70% of the value of a property. So if you house is worth 100K sterling then some one has to come up with 30K sterling as a deposit. Consequently no one is buying and no one is selling. House prices are falling rapidly and some by as much as 30% in the last 12 months but people cannot save the deposit. If a house is being sold for example, say 40K then some one still has to find just over 12k for the deposit. ( for the benefit of my American readers 100k sterling equates to 200k dollars and just a few months ago that would not have bought a garden shed!)

Very few people are prepared to take that kind of hit or financial loss and few people can save up 12k. Something I never thought I would see in my lifetime is rents falling. There are so many new unsold properties out there that developers are now trying to recoup some money by renting them out and the market is flooded, renters have so much choice. In the meantime people like me who banked, perhaps unwisely, upon being able to sell my hose at a fair market price to fund an alternative lifestyle have no option but to sit put until things pick up if they ever do in my lifetime.

Good luck can sometimes be put down to a matter of mere timing and right now mine stinks, pass the gin!

This year it will be a Parrila

Friday, August 8th, 2008

With the vagaries of the English weather the annual event known as Tedstock has already had the date changed three times. This is an attempt to accommodate those who are away on holiday, those leaving the country and those who cannot make said dates for reason of work or previously arranged engagements.

As usual with Tedstock, Ted Magnum and myself try to come up with something different and this year we have planned a makeshift Argentinean Parilla (pronounced Parija). The steel fire plate has been ordered and picked up, the grill has been made from angle iron and 1 inch square wire grill and we are planning to incorporate the spit from last years frolics alongside the affair.

In keeping with lasts years promise of no burgers, sausages or ready made fast food we have sourced some very large lumps of meat and we are going to spit roast some chickens over the grill plate while it cooks the large cuts of meat and various animal body parts that Ted has managed to obtain and source. Photos will be placed in the gallery when it all comes together, I promise.

A trial run of the parilla takes place tomorrow, weather pending of course and the date itself cannot be far away. Accuweather and the BBC’s own web site are studied fastidiously every day, however the met office announced around six weeks ago that this year would be the wettest on record and it is only by very good luck that the cream tea took place. Given the lack of sunshine so far spirits are very down but we are confident that the event will take place eventually. last year it was the spit roast, this year it will be a Parrila

Sipping tea and eating and cucumber sandwiches

Friday, August 8th, 2008

Sipping tea and eating and cucumber sandwiches, what a perfect way to spend an English summer day. Inspired by a visit to London a couple of years ago, Bean Counter and me stumbled across a Pimms tent nearby a string quartet playing the Who’s greatest hits on the band stand in Hyde park. You have not lived until you have heard Pinball Wizard played with much gusto and skill by a string quartet in the open air. It was one of those surreal moments and I decided I had to recreate the feeling at home one day. Knowing I was not going to be hosting one of my monumental Barbies this year, I settled for a cream tea and Pimms event. The rules were fairly simple, Floppy hats and floaty dresses for the ladies, panamas and cravats for the gentlemen. Blazers were to be optional as were parasols.

The weather was kind to us as the great day dawned after much preparation by myself, Roger Moor, Bean Counter and a myriad of others such as the lovely Sophia Loren who provided cucumber sandwiches and made pots of Early Grey tea for the masses while RM mastered my secret concoction of Pimms and kept the jugs overflowing.  The lawns had been mowed, a croquet set had placed along side the garden skittles and a lawn sized snaked and ladders game along with a game of bug splat (twister) were laid out for the amusement and merriment of all. To compliment all the sandwiches BC’s auntie made over a 100 fairy cakes some with individual butterflies and others with bees made from icing and they were brought along.

Just for those who wanted a more carnivorous affair Commander Riker gamely volunteered to man the charcoal barbecue for the day and it has to be said he did a sterling job. As people arrived, the ladies were greeted with a glass of Sherry and the gentlemen were offered a glass of Port. To stop the waste from those who did wish to partake in such refined offerings I finished off the already poured glasses. At this point, roughly 3pm and we only started at 2pm, RM and me were the worse for wear. We had already made two jugs of Pimms to get the blending right and it was decided that we could not offer our guests any of our experimental blending’s so we drank them just to make sure they were safe for our guests.

The music for the day was string quartet and this only stopped later on in the evening when we decided to spice things up a bit for those who wanted a soft shoe shuffle or to tap their toes with some Jazz. Later on in the evening when things cooled down a bit a fire was lit. This caused some discussion as to whether it would ignite the huge parasol over one of the tables or not. A decision had to be made and so it was that I started spraying the parasol down with a hosepipe. Unfortunately several jugs of high octane Pimms and one or two too many glasses of Sherry and Port had taken their toll and my aim was not as good as it perhaps should have been. Apologies to Auntie Barbara and all of the other ladies who looked as though they could have supported a wet duffle coat all by them selves.

At around 10-30 the Taxman (real identity kept secret) let off some fireworks to the strains of the 1812 overture. It was a triumph until some one told me it was 1-30 am. Thank God the neighbours from both sides had been invited and duly turned up. Ogri and Bodicea had turned up with their children as well as RM and kin.

Thanks to everyone including, Legs, Teech, Ted Magnum, the Revellers, Taxman and his family, Commander Rikers family, little Miss Sunshine and the ever present Miss Décolletage who incidentally has amazing lungs as she demonstrated when she blew up the snakes and the large dice for the ground games. It was a truly memorable event and I cant think of a better way to spend a summers day than sipping tea and eating cucumber sandwiches.