Saturday, March 04, 2017

New/Old Bike

I recently purchased a retro MTB, a 1991 Kona Lava Dome. Back in the day I owned a 92 Lava Dome. I bought it off eBay for £72.
The forks and stem were corroded, The tyres were shot, but other than that it seemed ok.
Alas, the forks and stem were a bit further gone than I thought, Vernon Barker who tried to sand blast them and powder cost them told me I would never get a flawless finish. So I just had them powder coat them as best they could. Also the Headset on the original was worn and the replacement I bought was also worn so I had a standard headset fitted.
I changed the tyres, grips and pedals and added bar ends to fit in with the look of the time.
Overall I was quite please. However, despite being able to strip and rebuild a vintage bike. I forgot how tedious fiddling with Cantilever brakes can be and the weight of the bike is actually heavier than my modern full suspension bike.
Not the outcome to the project I wanted but I'll use the bike as a gym bike and go to a few Retro MTB meetings..



A box of bits for cleaning





Friday, January 27, 2017

Cote Brasserie Manchester

On our recent overnight visit to Manchester, Nuch fancied a French meal.
We checked out Cote Brasserie on Trip Advisor and it looked ok.
The menu as you would expect is very French, the prices are medium to high, but not as much as you might think.
For my starter I had a beetroot salad with goat cheese puree, it was nice, too much beetroot and not enough goat cheese. My main course of Fillet steak was cooked to just how I liked it (well done).
I thought the drinks were expensive, a bottle of beer was over £4, that's £8 a pint in real money.


Would probably visit again...



Beetroot & Goat Cheese Puree starter



Crab starter



Fillet Steak main




Beef Bourginion main

Crowne Plaza Manchester

I generally enjoy staying in a Crowne Plaza Hotel, they are well located, excellent service and have excellent rooms.


The Manchester hotel is in a less than nice part of Manchester, very close to the Arndale Centre. The rooms are nice and very modern.


Parking is across the road in an NCP car park which the hotel subsidises to £12 over night.


Generally a good hotel but let down by breakfast, this is a buffet affair which is Crowne Plaza generally do very well. On this occasion many of the items had run out and the ones left weren't hot. The coffee wasn't up to scratch either.


Probably wont stay again.



Night view from our room..






Saturday, January 07, 2017

Joiners Arms, Quarndon UK

The family have been to The Joiners Arms many times in the last 6 months. Currently it is one of our favourite go to places to eat.


The menu is very good and they have their own pizza oven.


Kids are welcome and the bar is stocked with all sorts of craft beers and gins.


Below are just a few pics.


Make sure you book in advance.


 Traditional Fish & Chips




 Thai Beef Salad




 Burger Platter





Sunday, July 24, 2016

Full suspense




I always put my new bikes in my blog, this bike I've just purchased will probably be my last MTB I'll ever buy, it's sad to say that in 10 years time I'll be too over the hill to ride.

This time I bit the bullet and caught up with technology, well nearly.

This bike is:
Full suspension 
Thru axle front hub
27.5" wheels

Things that will be normal in a few years will be

Frame enclosed cables
Electronic gears
Thrilled axles as standard
Probably a small motor

This isn't the first full suspension bike I've ever had, in the late 90's I had a GT lts, I must admit it put me off full sus rigs, it was very bouncy, not very balanced and weighed a ton.

My new Norco fluid 7.1 seems to be everything the GT wasn't, even for fat lad like me the fox front and rear shocks seem well in tune and you can lock them both out if the going gets Tarmac. Weight is under 14kg, about the same as my cross country bike from 20 years ago.

It as Shimano XT gearing, 20 speed which I now really like. It is taking some time to get used to Shimano again being a different change from sram which I'm used too.

Riding the bike, biggest difference is how much you stay seated, when you come to a washboard, single track instead of standing on my pedals I can stay seated and keep on pedalling. It just seems so much more comfortable and controlled.

The 27.5" wheels will take time to get used too, I'm old Skool and always have 26" in the past, they are more precise steering however you seem to lose the last second twitch out of trouble the smaller wheel gives you.

Early days yet, but after the first hard ride on the Norc, I'm confident I'm going to like it.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Thailand, the difference from last trip

This year we went back to Thailand for a 3 week holiday and trip to see the out laws.

I was wondering what had changed in the 3 years. One thing that hasn't changed is the over whelming heat that it's you when you leave the terminal at Suvanbhumi Airport. I might even say that immigration was quicker but the lack of smiles in immigration hasn't changed.

I organised a mini van via the hotel to take us from the airport, I was very surprised for it to be there on time and of excellent luxury order.

We stayed at the Chatrium Riverside hotel, I have to say this was a seriously good hotel, one I can't recommend enough. From the service to the rooms and quality of the food it was near perfect. It provided me with the best meal that I had on this trip.



From Bamgkok, we hired a car and went down to Hua Hin, even the car hire throug Thai rentacar went without an itch. Sadly the standard of driving in Thailand hasn't got any better, on our first night just by the hotel we saw the aftermath of a moped/Lorry crash, luckily I saw the victim and was able to warn the rest of my family not to look at the corpse. A total lack of forethought, poor driving skills and a disregard for their or any one else's safety makes driving somewhat high blood pressure inducing. One thing that does stand out is the selfish way drivers act, if they need to manoeuvre to a certain point then they just do it, irrespective of any other road users.

We made it to Hua Hin and stayed at The Hilton resort and what an excellent resort it was. It is foreign run and the standards are up there with any European hotel.



Hua Hin is a great place, despite having some negative media earlier this year, I found nothing to fault it. Attractions like the beach, it's many coffee houses and cafes, the cicada night market, the night market in Hua Hin centre and my favourite , the mangrove swamp walk near Pratchburi. We'll definitely go to Hua Hin again.

After a week in Hua Hin we made our way back to the Chatrium for one night before moving on to Chiang Mai. We flew with Air Asia, like it the times I've flown with them before it's a pleasure compared to the western budget airlines. Again we were met at the airport by the hotel, on time and excellent service.
We stayed at The Empress Hotel, 



it is situated near night market and while it's seen better days, the price we paid and the service we received made this a superb hotel. Here is were my biggest gripe about my Thai trip begins kick in, without trying to sound elitist, Chinese tourists and their selfie sticks are almost a modern hazard in Thailand, the weekend before at the Grand Palcace they were roaming in pacts, the concept of courtesy seems to skipped the general Chinese psychy. The way I saw them treat waitress's in the hotel was disgraceful and they have no concept of queuing. I did meet a Chinese couple who were travelling on their own and not part of an organised tour and they were pretty cool and spoke English perfectly. Even they admitted that Chinese travelling in a tour are an embarrassment to the country. We visited the ChiangMai night safari and was probably the only westerner there. I don't know, maybe the Chinese have the correct idea, sod waiting in a que, just barge your way to the front of the que.


We did all the touristy bits, Wat Doi Sathep, Elephant Camp, Bai Orchid farm. We also went on an organised bike tour which was brilliant, bizarrely the organiser and owner was also moaning about Chinese tourists, saying that in the long run they will devalue Thailand.
I'd never been to Chiang Mai in my many years spent there, a huge oversight, a place I will visit again.

Our last week was spent in Bangkok, again at the Chatrium.

The lists below are the good and bad of this Thailand trip:
Good - 
Western Food, the quality, availability and price have all improved.
General service in hotels and restaurants.
Value for money.
4G phone service

Bad or worse -
Thai and local food, more expensive and lacking quality.
Driving Skills
Chinese tourists
Dirty streets
Rats
Lack of basic English (even in western chains)

I won't touch on the political side, basically not one Thai I spoke to was interested in the current state of affairs.

We will be returning next year, we'll be doing a tour to KL and a stint on Langkawi.










Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 The year that was

2015 as been a bizarre year on the whole, the whole of my year can be summed up with these keywords #work #Elizabeth #cycling #football #eating out, pretty much in that order.

WORK as taken up way too much of my time this year, however to achieve the goals I set myself then sacrifices have had to made. Next year things are going to be different!
One of the things that is vaguely enjoyable is the staying away, This year I've stayed away all over the UK and even Denmark, from London, N. Wales, N. England, Lake District and all over Scotland. I've stayed in mostly excellent and some of the meals have been outstanding.






Like everyone of the last nine years that she as been alive, my daughter Elizabeth totally dominates my life, like every year we have been on many adventures. We spent a week away in N. Wales in September, even though the weather wasn't what you would expected we still had a brilliant time.





Elizabeth is mostly involved with my cycling these days, I would like to do more by myself but sadly I choose to find too many excuses not too.




Lastly football, Elizabeth is now playing for an under 10's girls football team and at the time of writing this her as played 5 games, won 2 and drew 3. I'm so proud of her and her new friends. They are such a great unit and hopefully next season they will stick together and progress through the leagues.



So to everyone that knows me, I wish you a super 2016 and to all the people I don't know I wish you a super 2016....

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Elizabeth's Football

My 9 year old daughter is quite an out going girl, providing I'm there! She takes part in a couple of sports, one of them being football.

She plays for the Belper Ladies under 10's or the Belper Bobcats. Today was her first game in the Derby league. I was super impressed how she did, Elizabeth as a natural talent for running down the wing with the ball and passing it to her forwards, her weakness is confidence in front of goal. However, I'm sure this will come if she chooses to keep going to football.

The score today was 1-0 to the Bobcats, a own goal separated the sides, however the other team only had 5 players, so our coach decided to field the same amount of players, a good gesture which meant he was able to rotate the team all game, the opposition were looking jaded by the end.

I got a little bit to excited in the first half when Elizabeth came close to scoring, I tried to be a littl bit quieter in the second half. I was disappointed with one of the parents from our team who wanted to call the match off because the other team didn't have the right number of players, it wasn't fair on them apparent. I suggested that it wouldn't be fair on our team to turn up. He maintained that at this age it is only a development sport and the result isn't important. I ventured that we didn't agree on that and whilst Elizabeth enjoying it is the most important thing to me, she does need to learn to work hard if she wants to get on. You can come second all your life or you can try to go one better. Her teams scores and league position aren posted so as not to discourage kids. Not sure about this either!

Anyway, despite having to get up early, Elizabeth throughly enjoyed herself and can't wait for the next match.




Thursday, September 17, 2015

Kidney Stones

Last week, on my way home from Durham. An incredibly sharp and prolonged pain across my lower right abdomen. I was in little bit of panic mode because I didn't know what the pain was. I stopped at the Scotch Corner services and had five minutes then carried on. By Wetherby Services the pain was so bad that I had to call an ambulance and leave my car at the services.

The ambulance arrived and took me to Harrogate Hospital, the pain was like nothing I'd ever had, I honestly thought I was going to die! The paramedic gave me gas and air, this didn't even touch the sides. Once in hospital I was given a intravenous paracetamol, this only hydrated me. Finally I was given morphine, this work better!

After an examination, I was told it was probably a kidney stone. With the morphine wearing off I was given diclofenic as a suppository, that did the trick!

I was admitted to the urology ward and tucked in for a night in hospital. How do people cope in hospital, they sure such unwell places. People being admitted, being sick, regular BP tests and snoring, my second night in there I only got about 1-1/2 hour sleep.

The following day I had ultrasound, a CT scan and an x ray, yes I had had a stone and still got one in me. Another horrendous night in hospital followed, bearing in mind I had no visitors due to fact I was still 130km from home. On the Saturday, I was finally seen by a consultant who said I will need a procedure to look in my kidney in the future and I had an infection which was a result of the stone. I eventually got out about 4pm. A taxi ride back to Wetherby services and a painful drive back home were it seemed I'd been missed.

Fast forward to today, thankfully I've not had a repeat of the pain, I'm feeling generally unwell. This is down to the antibiotics I'm taking, I have dizzy spells which is a result of another new tablet I'm taking and my body is getting over the trauma of passing the stone.

Moving forward, I've got to make an appointment with the urology department at Nottingham hospital and keep up with the antibiotics.

Moral of the day is : DONT GET A KIDNEY STONE......


Saturday, September 05, 2015

Surf Snowdonia

During our holiday in North Wales I took Elizabeth to the new Surf Snowdonia near Conwy.

This is a purpose built lagoon with a gigantic wave machine. If you can imagine a 500m running track for dimensions and in the middle of that an A frame running 70% of the length of the lagoon. At each end there is a large concrete block structure that serves as a winding station. A huge blade or paddle is pulled from one end to the other creating a huge 2M wave, this happens every minute. The engineering is very impressive.

I booked Elizabeth in the Groms class (8-13), included in the price of £34 is an hour tuition, surf time and wet suit hire.

The facilities and organisation are first class and Elizabeth's teacher Reece was a credit to the place.

Elizabeth took to it really well, so good that I'm going to book her in for more lessons. If your in the area and stuck for something to do, it's got to be worth a visit. Maybe, just maybe I'll think about surfing again providing they've got a wet suit big enough....