Tuesday 27 November 2012


Last week I went to Surrey to pick up my new motorbike. I went on Wednesday and rode it back on Thursday morning so that I could get to an important rehearsal on Thursday night.

My plan was simple:

  • 10:50 bus to the city centre
  • Walk to Plymouth Railway Station
  • 12:01 Train for Paddington
  • Change at Reading
  • Arrive at North Camp 15:30 and pick up the bike
  • Ride to Guildford town centre and do a little shopping (toothbrush heads, shaving soap, sci-fi books)
  • Arrive at my friend's house at 17:30 and stay the night.
Unfortunately on Wednesday most of Devon and Somerset were underwater and my itinerary changed:
  • Heavily delayed 09:50 bus to the city centre (it left at 10:50 but got in much earlier than I expected)
  • Walk to Plymouth Railway Station
  • Overpriced coffee and croissant to waste some time
  • 12:01 Train for Paddington
  • Train terminates at Exeter
  • Replacement bus to Taunton (no trains were leaving Taunton in either direction)
  • Wait in a queue for an hour and a half
  • Replacement bus to Bristol (took over two hours because of rush hour traffic)
  • 18:30 Train for Paddington
  • Change at Reading
  • Arrive at Guildford 21:14 where I would stay the night.
The toothbrush, soap and books I could live without, but the revised itinerary didn't involve picking up the motorbike which was a bit of a problem. Despite how long it took, the journey was fine. I got talking to a lovely woman from Torbay and a London cabby and we had a really good time. There were something like 200 people stranded at Taunton with us, out of all of them only two made a scene, and they were what spoiled our journey. It didn't seem to matter whether you shouted at the train staff or not, they could neither magic up any more busses, nor make the flood waters subside.

I picked up the bike the next day and drove it back through the worst storms we've had since 1988. It turned out that the bike needed to be treated very gently during the running in period so my journey back wasn't just cold wet and frightening, it was also very very slow.

The rehearsal that I simply couldn't miss was also flooded off.

Richard "best laid travel plans of mice and men" B

Tuesday 20 November 2012


Unless you have some interest in motorbikes you can safely stop reading at this point.

Over the weekend I spent a fortune on a brand new Yamaha TMax. It's interesting for several reasons:

  • It's a step-thru with a 500cc engine.
  • It's a parallel twin with a 360degree crank (like an old British bike).
  • The cylinders are canted so far forwards that they are practically horizontal.
  • It's got dry sump lubrication.
  • It's got a reciprocating balance weight to counteract the vibration from the pistons. (It runs in a 'cylinder' 180degrees away from the combustion cylinders)
  • There's room for the balance weight because it doesn't have a proper gearbox.
  • It's got Vee-belt continuously variable transmission.
  • It's got a multi-plate wet clutch (like a real motorbike) but it's automatic and centrifugally operated.
  • The final drive chain runs in a sealed oil bath.
  • It's got what they call an oversize water jacket to reduce noise and vibration (and decrease performance).
  • It's big, super comfortable and really easy to ride (despite weighing nearly 200kg)
  • My friends are already calling it a "T-k-maxx".
Richard "moped" B

Monday 12 November 2012

Herding Cats

I play in a band, but It's not "my band" and I'm not the band-leader, however I do have a roll which is something like band secretary or chief logistics officer. It seems to be my responsibility to try to make sure that the right people and the right gear arrive at our rehearsals and shows at the right time. It's like herding cats. Extremely musical and good fun cats whom I adore, but cats nonetheless. Bad tempered egotistical cats who don't all have their own car. Cats with long term health problems who don't read all their emails and texts. Cats who's wives need to use their car, or cats with plenty of spare room in their car but who want to look their best so will actually be at the hairdresser for a cut-and-colour.

It won't surprise me in the least if the sailing club Christmas party insist that the band has to bring a hungry wolf, a live goat, and a sack of cabbages across a river, and we can only borrow a boat that's big enough for one item of cargo at a time.

Richard "Good show though" B

Tuesday 6 November 2012


One of the best games for the Nintendo wii console was "Rayman Raving Rabbits". It had hundreds of funny mini-games, the enemy characters were all cute bunnies, the graphic design and music were excellent, it was good fun to play, and it didn't take itself at all seriously. The name is not to be confused with "Rampant Rabbits" which are a (popular? ubiquitous? prized?) line of vibrators. How I, and my male friends, know that name is too smutty and embarrassing for this blog, but some of us still hesitate to ask the question "What did you get for Christmas?"

Some years ago I spent a Friday night at one of my female colleague's house. She was single at the time, but it was a completely platonic visit. A fact which I struggled to convince my friends, particularly when I misspoke during their questioning "So you're telling me that you went to Sexy-Redacted's house by yourself and you didn't try it on with her?" "Absolutely it was completely innocent." "Really? what did you do then?" "I went there by bus, we ate an Indian takeaway, drank a couple of bottle of wine, played Rampant Rabbits, and I got a cab home."

Richard "Katzenklappe" B