Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Book review - The Book Of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern

Yeah, yeah, I know - it's 'chick lit' and I don't do 'chick lit'.

Well, I didn't, until a good friend introduced me to the writings of Cecelia Ahern. She writes the most amazing books, in a totally unique style, and from the moment you open the cover, to the moment you turn the last page, they remain glued to your fingers.

As with all of her books, you learn all you need to know about the characters, the locations, and how they arrived at the point where the story starts in the first few pages. In a few words, she has an ability to paint complete pictures to set the scenes, leaving you free from then on, to enjoy the unfolding story.

The books are always set in Ireland, and the stories are told with a wry, gentle humour, and always have a quirky little twist to them.

I'm not going to tell you anything about this story, because to do so, would be to destroy a little of the magic. Suffice it to say, that Miss Ahern has once again excelled in creating a unique tale that holds you entranced all the way through.

In her own words..........

Somehow, the books sit there, almost magically willing people to pick them up. The right person for the right book. It's as though they already know whose life they need to be a part of, how they can make a difference, how they can teach a lesson, put a smile on a face at just the right time. I think about books a lot differently now.

Rating: a very definite 5/5

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

New addition to the garage.....

Meet the all-new Honda VFR1200DCT

one freaky, awesome hunk of motorcycle technology. The styling takes some getting used to, but after 3 days, I think it's rather beautiful. Gear changing in both automatic and manual modes is seamless, although it does seem to change a bit too early in auto mode. But that, apparently, is to aid fuel consumption.

Is dual-clutch technology the future of motorcycling? Well, I'm not sure. The DN-01 has not grabbed everybody's interest, but I guess a lot of that is down to its more radical styling and impracticality.

The VFR is a far more practical proposition, although the luggage is not quite as spacious as it could be, and the fuel range of, at most, 150 miles, could be better on a sports-tourer.

Next to get the automatic treatment will be the venerable Gold Wing, and that, I think, could be a vast improvement over the current model.

Well, we'll see. I can't see this technology being rolled out to sports bikes yet. For one thing, the DCT adds quite a lot of weight, and for another, I think sports bike riders would prefer to remain in total manual control of their machines

Monday, 6 September 2010

I'm angry....................

yeah, you better believe it. I'm angry as hell.....................

I've just come back from one of the best solo trips away I've ever had. Me 'n the LittleInsect went doing the tourist bit in Shropshire and North/Mid Wales.

Well, one of the best trips.....except for the idiot JobsWorth on the last day, who did his best to make me feel like some inferior creature from an alien civilisation.

On the last day, I'm cruising around the coast of Wales in the late summer sunshine, and, fancying a nice cooling ice cream, I dropped down into a little place called New Quay.

New Quay is a little seaside resort, very similar to those you find in Cornwall and North Devon, where you drop down a steep hill to a tiny secluded village, with a nice sandy beach looking out over a wide bay.

I headed for the harbour looking for somewhere to park. Now, as you go along the sea front, there's a large Corporation car park off to the left. Unfortunately, it's on a very steep slope. The LittleInsect doesn't have a centre stand, so I could immediately forsee issues with getting him to stand level without toppling over, and further issues with my poorly wrists in turning him around to leave.

Immediately opposite was a small area for motorcycles. It only held about 4 bikes, and it was already full. Next to that was a long thin car park with signs saying 'cars only'. Normally when you see such signs, it's because they don't want spaces being taken by caravanettes or light commerical vehicles. In other words, they're for private vehicles only.

There was one space, so I parked the bike and headed off to the machine to get a ticket.

It's HOW MUCH????

hmmm...£2.80. Well, OK, so it's not cheap, but I did want the loo, and I did want a coffee or icecream, so.............

The ticket machine was one where you input the numbers from your registration.............647.......(wonder what they do now that UK registrations all have the same numbers according to year?)

I put the number in, followed by my hard-earned £2.80 and got my ticket.

I walked back to the Insect, and as I was putting the ticket in the holder I carry for such purposes, a red estate car pulled up behind me.............

"You can't park there. Can't you read? It says cars only"
"sorry, but I took that to mean no comms or vans etc........."

The car was unmarked, and the guy was not wearing any uniform or anything to distinguish him as having any responsibility for the car park

"Clear off. I know your type. You bikers take up all the car spaces, and never pay"
"excuse me?" I held up my parking ticket for him to see.

"how do I know you haven't taken that off a car with the same number"

hmmmm......let me there another car with the digits 647.........nope. What did I do, find one, break into it, and remove the ticket from it's windscreen?

"not likely, is it? As you can see" (showing him my holder still stuffed with tickets from previous car parks) "I always pay if there's no dedicated bike park"

"I know what you bikers are like. One of you turns up, buys a ticket, then a load more turn up and fill up all the spaces"

"I can't see any other bikes waiting to park, can you?"

"well this car park is for CARS not bikes. Go away"

"so you're saying that motorcyclists don't have the right to behave like car drivers, or the right to visit anywhere in the UK we choose, like other people?"

"that's right. Go away"

"now as far as I can see, you have 3 choices. 1) you can leave me alone. I have a legally purchased ticket, and I'm not contravening any parking regulations or bye-laws. 2) you can refund my £2.80, at which point I will be pleased to leave and never darken New Quay with my presence again. or 3) (getting my mobile phone out of my pocket) I can call the police and tell them I am a woman travelling alone, and I feel threatened................."

(actually, I couldn't get a signal on my cell phone due to the geography of the place, but he didn't think about that)

"Well I supose you'd better stay there for now, as you're being so aggressive about it, but when you leave, don't bother coming back"

Believe me, I shall NEVER go back to New Quay. Pity, because it's a smashing little place, and I shall do my best to ensure none of my friends go there either.

Bl**dy NCP. I'm in the process of contacting their head office to lodge a formal complaint about the attitude of their staff towards perfectly ordinary law-abiding citizens, who just happen to prefer 2 wheels to 4................

So, if you're reading this, DON'T GO TO NEW QUAY. ABERDOVEY IS MUCH NICER