Tag Archives: Travel

Aand we’re off!

Interweb connections have been far and few between over the past few days. At present I’m writing this off line for a quick post and paste when connections allow. Mrs S and I are having a forty eight hour chill out on the edge of Mount Robson National park with an excellent view of Mount Robson, highest peak in the Canadian Rocky mountains which looks like a peak shaped layer cake below brilliant blue skies.

Well it’s been an interesting trip so far as we hurtle through the sunny back country of BC toward the other side of Canada. Six black bear sightings, the first sitting ten metres back from the road on highway 24, head moving back and forth as if counting the traffic. Maybe he was doing his Green Cross Code, or perhaps was even a member of that secret cabal the Tufty club, doing his best Policeman Badger impersonation, who knows? Another camera shy counterpart was sighted ambling up a hillside on Highway 5 as a couple driving a rented camper van focused their long lenses upon him. Then there’s the rocks, the trees, some more rocks and OMG! Is that a Douglas Fir? Surely not. Maybe a Birch, Maple or dare I say it, Spruce. Four other fine looking Ursines were spotted doing their own personal photoshoots while we were passing through Jasper National Park.

May is truly the finest month to visit the Rockies. In the latter half of the month the lowland snow is mostly gone and most of the parks are open. There’s new growth everywhere, the alpine meadows look gorgeous and the mountains are decked out in the purest white. Can I say that or is it “Racist”? Don’t know, care even less. I don’t think the scenery cares what a lot of student activists say either.

In some ways I’m a little spectaculared out already. You can only take so much awesome in a day before you need a serious lie down and a nice cup of tea. At the moment I’m sitting twenty metres from one of the prettiest mountain streams I’ve ever encountered. It looks like someone learned how to make glass run like water. Oh and there’s Elk and a mother bear with two cubs in the neighbourhood so our very nice hosts tell us. As well as a forest fire being doused by helicopters working in shifts (And very pretty they look, too).

Yes, and I learned a fascinating new word in Chinese (Cantonese) this week; “Baizuo” to describe that pestilential plague of whiny SJW’s who are always banging on about how unfair everything is (Yes. And….) and how it would all be sooo much better if the rest of us gave our worldly wealth unto the ever rapacious big state. Then confess our ‘white guilt’ before handing over everything the Western world has ever built over to those who didn’t help build it. Then shut up and don our chains like good little zombies to be lorded over by the ‘white left’. Just because we other mere mortals are all so racist, sexist, islamophobic or whatever. Even if we’re not. By the way, “Baizuo” is not a compliment. Quite the opposite. Yes, and if someone calls you “Sheng-mu” they’re not being very kind, either. But if the cap fits, wear it.

Posting will be somewhat erratic (As if anyone cared – heartfelt sob) as I’m breaking in a new laptop ‘pooter. So excuse prease and watch this space. In the meantime we’re off traversing the ice fields tomorrow. Cheery-bye.

There’ll be tears before bedtime

Road trip is booked, planned and good to go. Trans Canada all the way out to Newfoundland & Labrador and back. Hotels, gas stations, mileage are all plotted and sorted. We’re taking the northern route out and the quickest way back via Highway One. About the only provinces we’ll miss en route will be Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon.

The one thing to sour the edge of this magnificent undertaking is the passing of the egregiously idiotic Bill C-16 giving what should be purely a civil matter over to criminal law.  Which means if you use the wrong pronoun to the wrong person you can go to jail. I watched Jordan Petersen give evidence to the Senate in the clip below and I’m inclined to agree with Dr Petersen’s gloomy prediction that this will not end well for transgenders.

The question the politicians overlook is this; if you run the risk of prison by offending someone by forgetting to use one of their alphabet soup pronouns, then will that encourage you to associate with them? Got it in one. It will have exactly the opposite effect to that intended. Transgenders and similar will find themselves even more marginalised as people will unconsciously avoid them even more. I’ve already heard of teachers saying they’ll hang up their teaching tools for good this year over this issue. These are veterans of the chalkface you understand. Experts in bringing children from bottom of the class to the top percentile. The cream of the profession. Now faced with this catch-22 of a bill, I can see other child care and social work professionals doing likewise. To the very detriment of the people they would normally help.

Likewise anyone with eccentric hairdo’s or any of the other indicators of such a lifestyle will be getting nothing from me but a cursory look and a long, deep silence. Because you can’t prosecute someone for something they won’t say. On the grounds that I might find myself prosecuted if I unconsciously offend the offence seeker in any given instance. So if you’ll forgive me I’ll be giving the high shoulder in future to those with blue, green or any unnatural hair rinse, or any of the other indicators that denote one of the newly privileged few. This is entirely understandable because I, like so many other Canadians, will be doing so in case we give some undefined kind of offence and run the risk of arrest.

Second thought: What this means is that I will be taking my money to businesses who do not attract such people. Again. It’s not because I dislike them in any way, although the one’s I have met haven’t really impressed me. It’s simply that now the threat of fine or imprisonment has been added to what should be a purely civil matter, I’ll be taking my custom elsewhere. This isn’t hate speech, it’s simply me protecting myself.

Sincerely,

His high Kekness Bill Sticker. God-Emperor of the known Multiverse, (Oi Vey for short)
FYI: The correct form of address is to Kowtow (meaning 2) three times before giving yourself a wedgie and kissing the ground under my feet. Get that wrong and you’ll be nicked chummy. Sauce for the goose etc.

Science, settling

Gritting my teeth today over a large car service bill. However, it’s money well spent as it keeps our little SUV chugging along and less likely to end up letting us down at some critical juncture. It was a large chunk of change, but we only get this kind of expense once a year. Well thrice if you count what’s coming next.

Mrs S and I are about to undertake another epic road trip, this time to Newfoundland and back. Unlike ten years ago we don’t have the complication of the dog, which meant we spent a lot of time looking for ‘pet friendly’ motels who would charge thirty bucks extra a night for the privilege of having our dog with us. We’re also taking the road less travelled along the northern route where cell phone coverage is spotty at best. However, so long as the motels we book have decent wi-fi, we’re all good. We’ve also bought a nice big cool box for picnics en route.

Talking of comestibles and the politics of food, sometimes you just have to give a grim faced nod of ‘told you so’ and shake your head at the sheer capriciousness of the diet industry and the quasi-political organisations that keep on handing down doctrinaire dictations about what we should and should not be eating, having first lobbied the WHO into backing their unhinged assertions.

Over the past few years there have been a number of food scares. All of which seem to be falling by the wayside. Recently the Framington Study, an analysis of dietary salt intake, came up with the long suspected result that a salt intake greater than 2300mg per day is not as dangerous as some would have us believe. The results indicate that good old sodium chloride is not the death dealing masked super villain the hand waving anti-salt lobby would have us all believe. See this article for the alternative guidelines and follow links back to the study.

Of course the anti-salt lobby have pointed out the weaknesses in the study, but the evidence indicates that so long as your kidneys are functioning normally, any excess salt gets flushed out of your system anyway. So why all the fuss? Indeed, more rational voices have argued that a daily intake of 4-6000mg per day is essential for a healthy heart and that the 2,300 FDA guidelines are far too low and may even be damaging.

As always, it seems that moderation is key and maybe the health problems the ‘experts’ claim, along with their total low-taste lifestyle recommendations are just wild guesses. Like the scares over dietary fat, the alcohol intake guidelines and just about every other claimed killer, all the figures behind these claims seem to be plucked out of thin air. It could be argued that by setting the limits way too low they are actually devaluing the case against excessive dietary intake which may well prove harmful at 10,000mg / day. Or are the panicmongers doing what I used to do with Eldest when we were going out, telling her that we were going half an hour earlier than we actually were and to get her buns into gear? Pitching the upper limit way too low because they know no-one’s going to do what they’re told anyway. Well I’m certainly not.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned it is that these Government Health guidelines too often have their genesis in advocacy organisations and commercial lobbyists (Sometimes working for the same people) who want to have their preferred product given more favourable market conditions. Like margarine was once promoted as ‘more healthy’ than butter (Hint; it isn’t). Or Gluten free diets for people without Coeliac Disease leading to an increased risk of heart disease. As with fanatic teetotallers pushing for yet another ban on booze, we’re still living with the consequences of that complete cock-up.

What the failure of all these guidelines should tell us is; a little bit of what you fancy is probably far better for you than stressing over Government guidelines that are based on 1) Wild guesses or 2) Advocacy directed ‘research’. Maybe Governments should stop giving out diet related advice as all they seem to do is get it wrong.

Gang aft agley

The major problem with big institutions is that when they fail, they go tits up big time. Usually over something fairly petty. So it is with the current wave of strikes fucking up the UK. Southern Rail are a case in point. There is currently a dispute between Conductors, Drivers and Management over demarcation, specifically who closes the doors on Southern rail trains. Go figure. The Guards / Conductors claim it’s a safety issue. As do the Drivers. As for demarcation, I thought the UK had left that kind of silly crap behind in the 70’s and early 80’s.

Then there’s threatened strike action by postal workers, Airline cabin crew, Pilots, baggage handlers and even Weetabix production staff (Does anyone still eat that shite?). Right at the busiest time of the year. Although Weetabix is no biggie, the rest will interfere with a lot of people’s travel plans.

Now I’ve never been on strike. Not once. I’ve walked a few times when I felt a job wasn’t worth the candle, but never actually struck. I’ve been on rest days when strikes have been called, but never actually gone on a picket line or been a part of any industrial action. I’ve been on the receiving end of a strike many times, which is a given if you’ve ever lived in the UK, but never actually reciprocated. Funny that. I’ve even crossed a few picket lines in my time. No fuss, no bother, just looked straight ahead and kept on walking. I think some twat tried to spit on me once. Saw it coming and lengthened my stride at the last second. They missed. Another couple of times I just rode my motorcycle straight on through. Strikers may call you ‘scab’ or ‘blackleg’, but I’m no-one’s ‘brother’ and think striking never solved anything. If I don’t like a job I’ll move on. In my eyes, strikes are the last (and often the first) resort of the incompetent negotiator. Why? Because they’re a lose-lose scenario. Political strikes doubly so. The workers never get what the Union says they want, nor do the managers, and the company they work for loses business because people go and buy their goods elsewhere so jobs are lost anyway. A strike is always a Pyrrhic victory. Quod erat demonstrandum. Rinse, repeat. Ad nauseum. Fuckwits.

Well, let me tell you it was a bloody mission last night. Youngest had planned to catch the train out of London to catch her rebooked flight. The strike by the Southern Rail Conductors / Guards pretty much screwed up her timetable and we’re still not sure if she made her flight, despite rousting her out of bed at 6am (10pm our time) and telling her to get moving. We even hired a taxi for her with Eldest organising a London based private hire car for yer younger sister all the way from the fabled land of Oz. We stumped up around a hundred quid for the extra journey via e-transfer from our UK accounts, on top of the cost of the airline ticket she lost after the problem with her Canadian ETA visa. No refund from the airlines for that, the bastards. Which means that so far it’s cost us about a grand (GBP not dollars) extra to sort that out. Then there’s the extra ferry costs, there’s another two hundred dollars (around a hundred and twenty GBP) we won’t see again. We may even end up waiting forlornly at Vancouver Airport for someone who isn’t going to be with us for Christmas.

All over who gets to open and close train doors. Jesus H fucking Christ on a bike. Never mind about automated cars, a far more practical use of the technology would be to fully automate the UK local rail network.

Update: Happy ending. Youngest is currently sleeping off her jet lag in the second bedroom bless her cotton socks. She got to the airport a little late, and there were a few humps and bumps along the way, but to misquote Shakespeare; “Turned out nice again, in’t it?” She wants some slippers for Christmas. We can do that.

The downside of virtue signalling

Well that was interesting. Just got this in an email from AirBnB. Now I have an account with them which is rarely used after a couple of rather negative experiences. My main criticism of their service is that their provider vetting needs to be a lot better.

Hi,

Earlier this year, we launched a comprehensive effort to fight bias and discrimination in the Airbnb community. As a result of this effort, we’re asking everyone to agree to a Community Commitment beginning November 1, 2016. Agreeing to this commitment will affect your use of Airbnb, so we wanted to give you a heads up about it.

What is the Community Commitment?

You commit to treat everyone—regardless of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age—with respect, and without judgement or bias.

How do I accept the commitment?

On or after November 1, we’ll show you the commitment when you log in to or open the Airbnb website, mobile or tablet app and we’ll automatically ask you to accept.

What if I decline the commitment?

If you decline the commitment, you won’t be able to host or book using Airbnb, and you have the option to cancel your account. Once your account is cancelled, future booked trips will be cancelled. You will still be able to browse Airbnb but you won’t be able to book any reservations or host any guests.

What if I have feedback about the commitment?

We welcome your feedback about the Community Commitment and all of our nondiscrimination efforts. Feel free to read more about the commitment. You can also reach out to us at allbelong@airbnb.com.

In effect what AirBnB are saying is “If you don’t publicly give way to our PC bullshit, you can’t use our service.”

This company may feel the need to virtue signal in this manner, but frankly I don’t. Wherever I’ve travelled on this earth I’ve always assumed that I was a guest and behaved myself accordingly. No one has ever needed to tell me otherwise because I’ve always reasoned that there are too many arses in this world, and have made the simple choice not to be one. Despite my often irascible scribings I’m a relatively decent chap in person and tend to treat as I find. Regardless of race, creed or colour.

Congratulations AirBnB. You just lost a customer. Permanently. Think of it as the downside of virtue signalling. We were planning to spend a lot of money through you in 2017 and 18. Not any longer. I have just decided that I do not wish to be part of your virtue signalling ‘community’. Fuck. The hell. Off.

P.S. VRBO are much, much better.

P.P.S. The person behind this is probably arch race baiter and apologist for big money to the Obama administration, Eric Holder, who AirBnB hired recently.

Important stuff

Well, that’s that. Eldest is now in the Fabled land of Oz. Flight went on time, landed on time, and according to latest message update her immigration visa acceptance was ‘a breeze’. She has a decent place to live, friends in country and even two very reasonable job offers. It threatened to get a bit emotional when we took her to YVR, but my final words into eldest’s ears before we saw her off at the security barriers were; “For god’s sake don’t forget to send pictures and tell us what you’re up to, or your Mum will drive me nuts.”

On the way back to our hotel we had a near-comical Satnag failure where the screen went blank at eleven on a very wet Vancouver evening. Mrs S stressed out at me, but all we needed to do was pull off the main drag, work out what turn we’d missed and memorise an old fashioned road map before setting off in the right direction. Wasn’t that fun? No. If there’s one thing guaranteed to disrupt domestic harmony, it’s driving and navigation.

Notwithstanding, Eldest has a place to run to if things go sour because sister in law now ensconced up Brisbane way can take her in. Mrs S of course is missing her firstborn. Which comes as no surprise. All mothers have this issue, be their offspring two hours or twenty eight years old, ergo my beloved will be less than her usual efficient self for the next two or three days. So I will step into whatever breach is necessary and smooth the path, reminding where necessary, forgiving as much as I can. Settling back to work, planning our next trips to Europe, Australasia and possibly the Caribbean for a little snowbirding in February. Not only that, but Youngest is due for two weeks at Christmas, so there will be another emotional trauma to deal with when she goes back to her London job. Hi-ho, it’s all part of growing up and being part of a global family.

Over here, the story about the Wikileaks Clinton email release and DCleaks Soros information releases is starting to gain momentum. Those in the know have long suspected the interventions and manipulations of various Soros funded organisations, but it’s like being a villager watching for suspicious ripples in a murky swamp that tell you where the Monster is. You can’t see the beast, what it’s target is or what it’s looking at, but you’ve suspected for a long time said critter is up to no good. And you know damn well it’s hungry because stuff goes missing.

Now the evidence is out there in the public domain, defended by a flimsy cordon of hatred-stirring middle class student activist types with their faux-battlecries of ‘Social Justice’, and claiming to be for ‘the people’ when they themselves have no real idea what ‘people’ are really about. ‘People’ are something you can’t learn at a liberal arts university. ‘People’ requires observation and over thirty years of experience. And when you’ve seen ordinary folk in all their light and shadow, will know in your bones that there is no such thing as ‘the masses’ or ‘the people’, just individuals trying to make their way the best they can. Some reekingly bad, some downright monstrous, but also many unaccountably good, the startlingly kind and outrageously decent. All flawed, all imperfect. All in a big, constant murmuration of societal motion.

This being said, itshould come as no surprise that there are those who want to control the motion so that they might personally profit from it. So it seems with the Soros funding machine, which channels millions of dollars (Yikes!) to various politicians and political NGO’s via a series of foundations and ‘charities’, including the ‘Open Societies’ and ‘Tides’ Foundations, which argue and push for more state organisation under the guise of ‘Saving the planet’. For example the news that ‘Global Warming’ pundit Al Gore had at least ten million USD a year bunged his way to ‘aggressively’ push the catastrophic warming agenda should not come as a shock. And there are several thousand more Wikileaks cats gleefully bounding out of bags regarding back door multi-million bungs. So it’s not really surprising that everyone who is anyone wants a taste. It’s easy money these control freaks don’t have to produce or sell anything for and ultimately feeds off society rather than contributing to it in a form of vampire economics.

The word from the sceptical side has always been ‘follow the money’ because the science for Man Made Climate Change / whatever is so obviously weak for any impending man made climate catastrophe. Indeed, certain astrophysicists have predicted that a new Dalton Minimum (possibly worse), when the climate was colder back in the 1800’s will occur over the next thirty to forty years. But there’s no slush fund money for such research, no cash for the activists, so don’t expect to hear much about it outside of academia.

I’ve even heard astrophysicists say that shifts in Earth’s molten nickel iron core have had some effect on climate via changes in our planets Magnetosphere. Which apparently ups the rate of cloud formation. See Svensmark’s work on cloud formation due to cosmic rays (The strange spelling is due to translation errors from Danish to English). Although some atmospheric physicists have claimed that atmospheric CO2 causes shifts in the Earth’s core, which is a mechanism that I have more than a little trouble with, at least from a physical modelling perspective. CO2 is comparatively speaking a very weak climate influence, swamped by all the natural feedbacks and how humanity’s CO2 emissions could alter movements and rotation of the Earth’s core has yet to be satisfactorily explained. Like the laughable claim that all the heat retained by man made CO2 emissions went off to sulk in the deep ocean because no one was paying it any attention rather violates the basic principles of heat transfer.

But we knew all this really, didn’t we? Well, you would have if you’d really been paying attention.

Labels

Suffering a bit today with a mild but debilitating lurgi caught off Eldest, who leaves us for the fabled land of Oz tomorrow. Fortunately this is a short lived bug and the fever has already broken and the cough is ‘productive’. The chunks I’ve been coughing up are fading from yellow to white, which means the infection is on the decline. Should be fine to drive Eldest to the Airport by tomorrow. Plenty of fruit juice and fresh air should speed my recovery.

Dahn sarf, in the often confused morass of US politics there’s been a lot of talk recently about a super secret cabal called the ‘Alt-Right’ and what bad people they are. Oo yes, they eat babies don’cha know. Oh yes, yes, and they’re anti everything good, wholesome and natural don’t you see, so they’re evil and must be sent to stand on the naughty step forever and ever amen. So there. Odd that the term was invented by the Clinton camp, who by any measure are hardly models of honesty and integrity. Whitewater, Haiti, Benghazi, favour selling in office, breaches of national security, Is there anything they can’t get away with?

From what I can see, the ‘Alt-Right’ label, apart from being a childish attempt to demonise most of the US electorate, encompasses everyone who likes to make their own decisions without being herded into a box by government bureaucrats who are ‘just doing their job’, whatever particular job that is defined as by a ruling elite. The label also covers anyone not fleecing the state for every penny everyone else puts into it. Which is why this all embracing term, like ‘Deplorables’ before it should be enthusiastically embraced by anyone with any integrity or self respect, regardless of actual political position. Which would mean the ‘Alt-Right’ is a broad church which includes both ‘left’ and ‘right’ leaning supporters, in particular anyone who thinks the Clinton political camp are a bunch of dishonest weasels who would auction off their own unborn for political power, money or privilege. Which is a very broad spectrum, from all the independent voters and fervent Trump fans and enthusiastic Bernie Sanders supporters to the most piratical free marketeer.

FYI: ‘Alt-Right’ from what I can see does not include people who are essentially shilling for Billionaire currency speculator and international criminal (Well the Russians think so) George Soros, like Black Lives Matter or a number of ‘Environmentalist’ factions. Indeed, they themselves would be first to say so because any political position that is even mildly right of centre (or even the most mild mannered centrist) is something they despise and want to tear down and destroy. Which is why Soros throws chump change at them via various ‘Foundations’ (Tides, Open Societies etc.) He can make money off the economic instabilities such movements can cause by helping block major infrastructure projects like Dams and pipelines, burning down neighbourhoods, or any economic downturns the otherwise insignificant factions he helps fund are at the root of. Like mass migration of an incompatible culture into western nations for example. The human casualties of which of course are nothing to do with him. Therefore it is my considered opinion that Soros is not ‘Alt-Right’. Nor is anyone associated with him or his organisations, or any allies thereof.

Which is as good a reason I can come up with to openly declare that I am part of the ‘Alt-Right’. For whatever that’s worth.

Katla

In-laws are currently in Europe due to fly back next week, and if the signs and portents from Iceland are right, they may have a bit of a wait to get home. Yes, it’s time for seismic grumbling from South East Iceland again. Which I ascribe to all the illicit Hákarl dumping. I’m told rotting Greenland Shark meat is a ‘delicacy’, which is one of those hilarious euphemisms for “Let’s see what we can get the tourists to eat”. Either that or one of those “Well, it’s not that bad once you get used to it” foods dreamed up when it was a case of eat your putrescent poisonous fish or starve to death.

Seriously, there’s a Yellow warning for Katla, a large volcano lurking under the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, which is one of those wonderful Viking names you’d swore the locals made up to make English speaking newsreaders look like idiots. Well, just because they don’t do the rape, burn and pillage thing any more doesn’t mean these descendants of Vikings have lost their sense of mischief, does it? The little tinkers.

Anyway, nothing has gone boom just yet, but those in the know are betting on an eruption in the not too distant future, even though at the time of writing there’s no harmonic tremor. However, when that is detected, then an eruption has already started and it’s a bit late to put your nearby Icelandic Holiday Home on the market.

Icelandic Met Office pages can be found here for regular updates.

What else might delay In-laws return? Hurricane Matthew, which is currently tearing northbound through the Caribbean? Hmm. If I was going to attempt a Transatlantic flight during the next few days, I’d be making damned sure my travel insurance covered accommodation costs in case of delay. I’ve tried kipping in airport terminals before, and it’s no fun at all.

Triumph-ant

Road trip planning again. This time I’ve been reviewing my choice of machine for the trip, a brand new Triumph Trophy SE 1215 (The 2017 version). Now I’ve had an on again and off again love affair with Triumph Motorcycles for some considerable time. From the first time helping a mate rebuild his Triumph Tiger Cub clutch when I was just out of school, to my later trans-European adventures and high mileage high jinks on my old 900ST. In between there’s been a few Hondas and Suzukis, and I’ve test ridden a whole heap of other machines, but in the end my preference all comes down to long distance comfort.

My problem with most new motorcycles is that I’m a big guy. Long in both leg and body. Broad shouldered and heavy built, which is a legacy of hard physical work and extensive weight training regimen which began during my early teens removing tree stumps with axe, pick, shovel and brute force. I’m physically more carthorse than thoroughbred or Shetland pony so most motorcycles aren’t built for people of my size. There’s also the classic North American foot forward riding position and footboards which I don’t much care for. My riding heritage is Northern European where you fit around the very bones of your machine, not just sit in it like it’s a Lay-Z-Boy.

Harley Davidsons and the like were immediately off my buying list because despite their physical size and the reportedly fixed problems with electrics (especially in the wet). The positioning for feet and hands is more for those with short legs. Which came as a bit of a surprise. When I first sat astride one, I got the immediate impression that I would have to ride with my knees around chest level no matter how the seat was adjusted. Then I don’t much care for those heavy V-twins, they’re so agricultural and leave me with the feeling that I’d be better off buying Massey Ferguson or John Deere. Besides, there’s that whole ‘weekend warrior’ vibe which just isn’t me. So, crossed off the list.

Ducati and Moto Guzzi. Same issue. Lovely to look at, great performance, but the short legged peg position and problems with the electrics during wet weather tended to put me off.

Next to be examined were BMW’s. BMW’s, although the footpeg position was good for me, have a tendency to cut the handlebars a little narrower than is comfortable for long journeys. Love the long term reliability of the Boxer engine and the shaft drive…. But. And this is a big ‘but’, unlike mine, which Mrs S likes because of my still ‘high and tight’ buns. Apart from the 1150RT which they don’t make any more, none of the other models in BMW’s range had the feel that I was looking for. So bye-bye BMW.

Suzuki, Kawasaki and KLT? Close but no cigar. There’s a happy place in my heart for the 1200N Bandit and the V-Strom is okay, but Suzuki have long had an issue with finish that degrades a little too quickly for my liking, and Kawasaki tend to build for the smaller rider. KLT aren’t bad, but there’s something not quite right with the machines I’ve tried out. There’s an instinctive knowledge that after a couple of thousand miles my back would start to complain because of that tiny kink in the riding position that is almost, but not quite, right for me.

Honda? Mmm. Sooo close. Wish they still made the ST1100 Pan-European, which is a splendid touring machine, creme de la creme. Love that smooth V-four. After test riding, the ST1300 and Gold Wings are a little too big and heavy to be the kind of fun I look for as a rider. The Bagger ain’t bad, but my pillion has needs too, and she reports that the rear seats get a little uncomfortable after the first fifty miles. Which, if you’re going down the full helmet comms route, would result in a rides enjoyment being curtailed from the whining sound in my helmet earphones.

Now Triumphs. Again, there are a few which immediately get crossed off the list of potential purchases. The Supersports are built for the slighter built rider and relatively short distances. The Tigers are super trailies, but although they’re okay for rider, taking a pillion long distances is likely to cause a high pitched whining in my headsets headphones after a relatively short distance. The Bonneville and similar? Tried one while I was commuting to Bristol and back on a job. Quick and nimble, but the saddle was for shorter distances. Great for a pose down to the pub, but for serious travelling? No. So, this leaves the new Triumph Trophy with that lovely responsive in line triple powerplant and intuitive feeling riding position, comfortable saddle and leisurely pillion position. When you’re after something you can ride all day without a care. then for me, that’s it.

Still debating what we want to do about Southern France, whether we cut across the lower Central Massif and as far south as Carcasonne or stop in Nimes for a week and do day trips North, South East and West. It depends what accommodation is available on AirBnb or VRBO. Italy we’re pretty sure about our destinations, but we’ve yet to examine the options of Austria, the Czech Republic and Western Poland. The discussions continue. When decisions are made, we’ll book.

Family stuff

Busy with organising for extended visit from Eldest on her way to the fabled land of Oz. She’s done her Africa experience, and now is looking to move down under. Her entry and work visa has been approved, flights are paid for, and backup finances put in place. Which may or may not be needed. Hey, she’s still young, so should do these things while she can enjoy them fully. We will assist where we are able while she gets settled in her new life. She’s got friends and family already in country, so she’s not going in completely cold. Hell, she’s even got mates in Vancouver who moved there after University, so no matter where she goes she’ll have a place to crash, as well as with Mrs S and I whilst she’s passing through Canada.

Which is cool. There’s always that sense of inhibition when you visit family, and the old bug-a-boo of things you always wanted to say but felt you couldn’t. Such as; “Why does no one talk about Uncle Henry?” or “Why didn’t Mum and Dad tell me?” This is something Mrs S and I try not to encourage. Because we both know from our own upbringings how toxic that can be. Repression brings nothing but regret and unhappiness, and over the years I’ve formed the opinion that’s way worse than giving an issue a bloody good shake out and airing. No matter how uncomfortable it is at the time. If you can’t talk about an issue, it just goes underground and festers, poisoning relationships and leaving problems unresolved. Which is something the current politically correct climate in academia, politics and media doesn’t help.

You see, I’m aware of all the problems my personal family history has brought and how it has in some cases stopped me from being a better human being. Now I’ve cheerfully accepted that I’m a real bastard son of a bitch, I feel much more relaxed about my life, and have determined not to pass that shit on to the next generation, while trying to improve my own lot. Put it this way, my stepkids do not have either my, or Mrs S’s hang ups and have been set free to make their own way in the world. With a little help from us older folks of course, who in my case is setting a thoroughly bad example, just to show that fun can be had, no matter what age you are.

As well as all the “But you can’t say that!” voices crying out that we should not talk about certain issues, or even allude to said facts existence, there’s a ‘health’ lobby out there determined that we will all end our days restricted to ‘care’ homes, dribbling out our dotage, and subject to naught but pity as the Alzheimers inexorably robs us of our marbles, bowel and bladder control. Me, I know that it’s a short life but a merry one, and that seeing as there’s precious little of it, intend to relax and take what comes, even if my last words are “Shit! The ripcord didn’t work!” or “Just a moment, I’ve had an idea.” or even “Bloody Satnav!” When the book closes on me, there will be no regrets but that which says “I wish I’d had time to do more.”

Life may be a terminal disease, but you only get one, no matter what any priest or politician says when they want you to do what you’re bloody well told, you, you utter peasant, you. My only reply to that is outright contempt, and if this makes me not worth talking to, then it has the upside of freeing me from the interminable blatherings of the dim and depressing.

Anyway, I’ll conclude today’s little missive with a misquote by one of my old boon companions (often falsely attributed to Sir Walter Scott or William Blake). “Better one hour of crowded life, than an eternity without a name.” Although I think his version was actually an improvement on Mordaunt’s original.