68 - Turn of the year
Well, christmas is over and it’s back to normal. (What is normal?)
It’s time to stop eating and get back to work. I have eaten a little too much this Christmas, although you know your body hasn’t changed much when you find you fit into something you used to wear 10 years ago. I mean – sure – it’s just a scarf, but you have to stay positive.
Believe it or not but there is another 9 weeks until pancake day and already the shops are selling flour and eggs.
We did have a bad start to the year – My Grandmother died on her 101st birthday, and we were only halfway through giving her the bumps. Her husband, my grandad, died 25years ago in his sleep – at a Max Bygraves concert.
Enough of this nonsense I hear you say – rubbish – I will decide when enough is enough. Next week you will be pleading for no-more as I will be standing in front of you at the club.
I hope you all had a happy and peaceful break. It is family time for the ones lucky enough to have family, if not then you get control of the remote control and decide which part of the crap TV you will be watching. It was all rubbish as far as I am concerned, although as a cable TV customer with over 100 channels, I did at least have the luxury of choosing which Morecambe and Wise repeats I wanted – was it from the 60’s, 70’s 80’s 90’s or the compilations of all of them from the 00’s
I am just back from a weekend of relatives and looking forward from today I can see a more settled few weeks where the year will start to morph into a fresh year/decade and offer up whatever fortunes come our way.
I will admit, when my wife left I was sad, upset and lonely. So I went out and bought a dog, a new motorbike and slept with two women. I also blew a lot of money on drink and gambling. She’ll go mental when she comes home from work.
Lets start with next week, by which I mean the week that starts with the 13th January.
Our first meeting this year is the last one of the club “year” on 14th January and one which we advertised as a sort of collective tips and tricks meeting from Tony Harvey John Austin and myself. This was intended as a cheapish evening to help us with our annual budget for demonstrators.
Per Premier League football we have injuries among the names on the team sheet and are having to call on substitutes.
John Austin has continued with his money saving ways and went into hospital on about the 20th December and only came home on Friday last week. Resultants savings include the Christmas Turkey, a ham, three portions of pigs in blankets and a Christmas pud. It was too late to save money on the sprouts as they had been on the stove simmering since min-November. Jenny Austin’s Sherry consumption is as yet undetermined. I (as no doubt you as well) wish John the very best of luck in sobering Jenny up now he is finally home. Above all that – get well soon please John.
It is a rotten time to be in hospital, so lets just hope the visit ends up being worthwhile and improving John’s general health and countenance. Sadly John will not be able to join us on 14thJan.
Our second errant team member next week has been studying hard for a GCSE in home nursing (I think he is only doing it because he gets to wear the uniform during the off-site part of the training). Tony Harvey is currently looking after his very lovely wife who has been into hospital to have certain body parts replaced with bionic alternatives.
Being retired of course Tony’s private health insurance is not exactly top drawer and savings have to be made, Ryan-Health (a division of Ryan Air) offers health insurance for a decent cut price. The current Mrs Harvey is therefore the lucky recipient of various new parts, variously labelled Raleigh, Lada and Austin Morris. Rumours about that she is having an off-side front ball joint fitted to one knee, and a glove box fitted somewhere else. Tony did ask for a silencer to be fitted but no suitable parts were in stock apparently.
That leaves me. This is dangerous. I am very pleased to say Harvey Grimwood has agreed to take one for the team and will be sharing the evening with me. Currently the plan is that Harvey will expose himself first – then I will come along and disappoint you all in the second half.
As advertised, it will be a first attempt at a hints and tips evening. Harvey will be doing an instructional piece in part one – and I know he has a good plan in place as one would expect from an ex policeman.
My own initial, some say premiere, some say debut, some say inaugural attempt at giving some sort of formal evening talk will be made up of a wide ranging assortment of bits and bobs that I have learnt over the last few years as well as the last few hours. It is a mixture of hints and tips from KVWT members, from demonstrators, from friends and from the internet.
I have documented what I am going to cover and will make the PDF and PowerPoint files available to be downloaded after the event, or perhaps email them, I will decide shortly.
So- Tuesday next week, 14th January – hecklers will be warmly welcomed.
What else is new?
I have an open mind this year about what to do. I am enjoying myself doing the long-term holiday thing perhaps just a little too much. You may not realise this of course – but I am retired. (I never mention it) I have spent a year relaxing, but also re-discovering the joys of motorcycling. I am now on my second motorcycle since retiring and not yet fully settled.
I smile every time I get on it, and I am always looking for an excuse to ride out somewhere. My woodturning has suffered somewhat – although I do have plans to change that. (I seem to remember saying that before!)
Perhaps I should just kick back and see how things go.
I do plan on having a few weekend motorbike trips. I should like to do some of the steeper parts of Wales, perhaps starting in the Brecons. I would also like to do the East Coast a bit too, perhaps up towards the broads.
The west coast of Ireland is a bit of a plan.
All that said – I have to choose also between one of the following two alpine trips.
Firstly the Italian alps, in particular I would love to ride up the Stelvio Pass. I think the pictures speak for themselves. Although it's not the most beautiful, it is certainly one of the highest (officially the third highest in the Alps at 2757M) and most dramatic mountain passes to drive in the European Alps.
I do remember when Top Gear voted this the best driving road in the world in 2008. It is a truly stunning road to view, and the wall of 48 switchback turns running up its north face really are a sight to behold, and worth the drive for that part alone.
However, here's the catch. Due to the Stelvio Pass's iconic status (not just with car enthusiasts but bikers), it's one of the busiest of the ultra high passes in the Alps. This means, to get the most out of the drive, I would need to be on the road nice and early, plus ideally midweek and outside of the peak months of July and August.
Failing that – there is always the Swiss Alps, the Susten Pass is another outstanding high mountain pass in the central Swiss Alps, and what is part of what is collectively referred to as the "Big 3" passes, which also includes Grimsel and Furka.
Apparently this is the best driving road of the three, and if you catch it at a quiet time probably the best driving road in Switzerland as it has an amazing
variety of road styles. It has sweeping valley roads on the eastern approach, with uninterrupted forward views, switchbacks that take you to the summit of the pass at 2224M, to the run back down the pass towards Innertkirchen, which takes you through forests, and across stunning stone bridges.
There are also some great stop points, including the foot of the Stein Glacier. I have been told that this is a 5 Star Road. Apparently from mid June the winter snow means you are driving along roads sometimes with walls of snow either side, and the waterfalls are at their most dramatic.
Due to it's height, the road is open seasonally, generally opening start of June (date is never fixed), closing the end of October.
Decisions decisions. Perhaps it is a pipe dream, but then – why not indeed!!!!
I guess we have to have dreams otherwise life would hold nothing to look forward to outside of happy and blissful mundanity.
However before any of that – I have next Tuesday to prepare for…
I just met a chinese drug addict in Newbury. “He said have you seen my cocaine” – I said “not since he starred in the Italian job”