Friday, 30 December 2011

Dreaming my Dreams and Fountains Abbey

For whatever reason, Beth had me up at 0520 yesterday and in doing so interrupted a rather strange dream. Some nice blueberry and maple Wensleydale the night before had taken me on dreamy, vivid and very frustrating journey.

In reality, my mate Jamie teaches a Year 5 class. In my dream, he was planning a residential. As it was a motorcycle trip (for 9 and 10 year olds) through Senegal, he naturally felt the need to invite me to involve me. When the time came to head to the airport, I couldn't find the keys to my pick-up truck (it was a red Chevrolet). After a succession of rides on wrong buses I wound up in Bradford train station having missed the plane. When Beth woke me from my frustration, a taxi driver called Ahmed was about to give me a price for a taxi ride to Senegal. Not only was I out of bed long before time but I didn't even get to ride through Africa. Ah well.

Later on, we had to get out of the house and strolling the grounds of Fountains Abbey near Ripon. Kaf hadn't managed to make it as planned which was a shame and we needed to get the children out of the house. I'd forgotten about much of what they have there and it proved an excellent day out. In all we spent three hours exploring, drinking tea, eating lunch taking pictures and filming.
On arrival, as they do, the man tried to get us to buy membership. I turned it down as we've been here before. Every time Ang and I have had National Trust membership we haven't used it again making it a complete waste of money. By the end of a superb visit I was thinking that it would be a good idea and promising to return with and without the children more often. Here's hoping I make good on that promise or that will be another £60ish wasted, perhaps tomorrow when Ang is sleeping off a night shift.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

A Merry Christmas

I haven't written anything in my blog for a while now so I figured I may as well. It's midway through the Christmas holiday now so that's the main thing going on in my life. My bike hasn't been out since my last rideout and I haven't been to work. I have however been saved a fortune by a man in Comet.

Christmas day was pretty awesome. We headed over to Mum and Dad's but not before the kids had fully explored the the gifts Ang and I got (as well as those brought by Father Christmas). The garage we got for Tom was a hit as is anything with wheels. Beth fell instantly in love with a pair of sparkly shoes and a super 'Cinderbrella' dress. 

Tomzilla scales parking structure. 
The tried and tested format at Castle Snelson proved fantastic as ever. As well as the Sheffield contingent of the Snelson family this year we had Ang's mum and a cousin to join us . They coped well with Christmas, Snelson style. There was an attempt by the rents to prevent us from loading sprouts into champagne popper (a food fighting tradition of many year standing). This year they had been chopped in half making them more difficult to load. Father dearest claimed that this was done because Jamie Oliver said to but we know the truth. As it turned out, the new lighter sprouts just meant higher muzzle velocity, longer range and more impressive splatter. A win all round for the trouble makers (Little Dan and I) who managed to open hostilities without allowing others opportunity to prepare. It must have come as a shock to the uninitiated Linda and Alex. 

Naturally, presents were everywhere these past few days. Tom seemed made up with his new cars. He used to be content to play with a coaster (as in something you put cups down on) but now the boy has moved onto cars. I loved the way he got something he loved and kept playing with it even when the gifts kept coming. For Beth, it's a very different story. Tom is only 1 year old and doesn't really get the whole present thing. At nearly 4, his sister is overcome by excitement and anticipation. Where he won't make any real effort to take wrapping paper off, she can happily open a gift, say thank you for it and go looking for the next one. 

Thankfully, thanks to 'Not So Secret Santa,' there was little in the way of gift flinging at Castle Snelson. Dan was buying for me and sent me a box full of electrical bits including what I need to fit an auxiliary socket into the back box on my. I had no idea what he was sending but it just happened to be exactly what I need so that the flat phone battery situation I mentioned in my last post doesn't happen again. 

Now I just need someone with some kind of wiring competence to come over and fit the thing. Previous attempts at wiring on my bike have resulted in my mechanic feeling the need to rewire my bike at the service. Alan Johnson at GW Johnsons is one of those guys you need looking after your bike. He has high standards, wants every thing done right and doesn't mince his words. I can't remember exactly what he said about my last attempt at a wiring mod but it wasn't hugely complimentary. The good news is my mate Martin (Kaff) is paying us a visit. He is an ARMY vehicle electrician and can help me run a few cables safely. 

Before I go on to post this, I must say something of today. My brother and sister in law came up from Bristol with their dog. We all met up today to go for a lovely if cold walk by Lindley Wood Resevoir. I'll let the pictures I took tell you all about it. 
 I was loving the fresh air but Tom was mainly sleeping. 
 Always helpful to have a Labrador taking point. 
 The view was pretty but the noise was awesome. 
What the pictures don't show was the conversation. I somehow found myself talking to Shelly about the plan Kev and I have to do a Balkans ride out. Now, at home, sitting on the sofa, typing up a blog, I find myself trawling through the 'Motorcycle Adventure' folder on the Iomega Screenplay I picked up for 30 quid (probably a mistake) from Comet. I'm a big fan of the films made by Dirt Track Productions and am a little gutted to see they are having problems funding their latest, Motorcycle Chang pa. They are even asking for donations, something I might actually do. I wish they would make the DVD available to pre-order now which for me would make more sense than donating. It would be worth it as they are better produced than Mondo Enduro and more authentic than the Ewan and Charlie show. Clearly though, my urge to get on my bike and go somewhere is far from subsiding. Perhaps that's why I asked for this picture to be put on a mug for my Chirstmas present. Thansks Ang. 
My bike over ten years ago taking me to a new posting in Paderborn, Germany. Those were the days. 

Friday, 23 December 2011

Midwinter Rideout - Lost and In Lancashire

Firstly, yes, I am aware today is not midwinters day. However, it's the closest ride out to said day. With my chain sorted and my back box packed with flask, Flipcam and still camera, spare gloves and a copy of MCN, all I needed was a direction.

My intention was to head for Leeds stopping for breakfast at the Multiflight Cafe on route then over Ilkley Moor to Howarth and Hebden Bridge. From I wanted to ride to Colne staying well away from main or busy roads, stopping from time to time to get some video footage. This map shows what I was aiming to do.

View Larger Map

Unfortunately, my simplistic plan to allow my phone to get me from A to B using Android's onboard satnav turned out to be a fail for a few reasons. Firstly, as Beth and Tom were in Nursery, the phone was primarily there so that they could contact me. Secondly, I began using the SatNav straight from breakfast at the airport. By Hebden the battery was low and I couldn't allow it to die. I figured I could just let it navigate me into the middle of the area I was headed and then switch off all power draining functions allowing the phone to be a phone. It probably would have worked if I had selected the correct location. I didn't so the last of the battery was used up taking me a long way too a National Trust place which may warrant a visit another day with less in the way of body armour and more in the way of time.

In the end, I was forced to see what happened and let the battery rest. What happened was this.

View Larger Map
It was all slow going and the roads were packed. To be fair, the scenery was rather lovely. Though I bought a map in Todmorden hoping to atone for my idiotic attempt to rely on SatNav. It proved useless without a tankbag or map case. Eventually, I reverted to good old fashioned 'head in the direction of somewhere you know and see what happens.' Skipton I knew. Burnley I didn't. It was a little like driving in Bradford (and I assume the Asian Subcontinent) with people appearing to have a different approach to road traffic rules. You have to drive as though everyone is probably going to try and kill you. Of course, I mention this almost in jest as I don't live there and hopefully won't ever need to go back. What gets me is that people live there and must just accept it. Why? 

Thankfully, it wasn't a wasted ride. I really loved what I saw, filmed two shots Gaurav Jani style, enjoyed most of the miles and learned a lot about navigation. I've always been comfortable riding the dales and moors and trying new roads without the use of maps but I know those areas so well. It meant I was unprepared when I tried to do the same in a much more highly populated area. One things for sure, I need to do it again, but next time with the right equipment and a little bit of preparation. 

On a final note, it turns out that the Scott Oiler is doing really well now. Unfortunately, it used 400 miles of oil in 100 miles today thus the back tyre looked like this when I got home. OOPS! Other lesson I learned to day... Always check the delivery rate when you adjust the oiler. 
Horrible Splattery Nightmare on Rear Tyre

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Chain Maintenance - What a Palaver

I finally found time to clean the chain on the YBR250 today. Doing so is a huge pain as it has no center stand. However the job could be put off no longer the chain being in a spectacularly poor state after some 200 gritty miles without lubrication. In theory that shouldn't happen as it's fitted with Scottoiler. If only it were so. 

Unfortunately, fitted at the local Yamaha Dealer, the positioning of the oiler’s injector carrier is problematic. Not only is it very difficult to accurately position the injector but vibration knocks it out of position regularly because it's so far forward and there are issues with the paddock stand. As the tubing and injector carrier are mounted under the swinging arm, they are crushed when the stand takes the weight. Obviously, I've experimented with other positions for the stand but a combination of exhaust pipe, and sprocket nuts means it can only go as shown which completely messes with the injector each time. 

In an ideal world I would be getting that center stand ordered making chain maintainance fuss free. Unfortunately, although there are mountings for it included on the frame, the stand is not an accessory Yamaha offer. Go figure. Right now I'd pay serious money (something you do for any Yamaha part anyway) to avoid perilously lifting the back wheel off the ground using my cheepo Biketec padock stand with the resulting disruption to the oiler. 

My only hope is that the stand is available elsewhere in Europe where the YBR250 is much more common. I've yet to see another in this country and notice that it is no longer available new. Actually, there are so few 250s of any kind knocking about in this country as utility motorcycling is fairly uncommon. I seldom see other motorcycles on my commute. Only in the summer do I ever see the same bike regularly, and that is a F800. There is only one other guy I know of that rides to work just about daily and he does it on a YBR125. He rides it far further than I do before parking it outside his place of work, the Shell Garage in Ilkley. Sometimes I pay the extra 4p a litre just to catch up with him and last time he was without his bike following an off on ice. He and the bike were fine but he was giving it a miss whilst snow was forcast. Can’t say I blame him. 

It is clear that utility motorcycling through all English seasons is not a great seller, especially amongst those with a full licence, restricted or otherwise. No surprise then that a bike too large for a learner and too small, to do everything is not going to be popular. Often the motorcycle press has suggested that bikes like mine is going to be on the up in these times of austerity. I don't see it happening. I'm still very much in a motorcycling minority. Not that I care. And, to be fair, given a chance I would trade up to that NC700x or a G650 if for no other reason that I'd like to be able to carry a wife (I use about two thirds of the 167kg max load). However, for what I actually use my bike, solo commuting, I'd do much worst than the YBR250 (if only the darn thing came with a center stand option). 

PS Tomorrow the kids are in nursery, the wife is at work and the forecast temperature is 10 Celsius so I'm gonna ride my bike for fun. 

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Candlelit Dinner with the Little People

Saturday is here at last. Just two more working days before we break up ready for festivities. As often happens, Ang was at work, earning us a crust, so I needed 'shore cover' from elsewhere. Thankfully, dad took care of whichever wasn't swimming. Beth, as usual, was a star in the water while appearing to drown swimming rings around (or more accurately, under) the children in her class. There will be three weeks now before the next lessons so I'll take them to the local pool instead when I'm off. Beth can do what she does best without anyone pressing her to work on surface swimming techniques. Tom can do what he always does, best described as being little or nothing other than cough and gag a bit after each uncalled-for dunking. 

After dropping dad back, the three of us headed off to school. I needed to tidy up badly after a week in which we had the Nativity (x2), a mass and the final outside performance of the choir. As I tidied, Tom did his best to undo all my work. At least he enjoyed it and I can now see large portions of my desk, which is nice. 

I took this picture on the way back. No reason, I just noticed the shot and stopped to get it. It happens a lot now that I keep my Powershot with me most of the time. I really need to keep a tripod handy as long shots like this need a more stable base than some bloke teetering atop the remains of a drystone wall. 
Perhaps the most and simultaneously least exciting event of the day was the power cut. We hadn't been home long. I'd set off the washer, dishwasher and drier. Beth was happily watching Cbeebies. Then, the TV went off. It's funny how quiet the house goes. Fumbling around with the fuse box did nothing to help so I went out into the street to see if the neighbours had lost power as well. You see, I'm not sure I can remember the last time it happened and thus didn't imagine it could be an actual powercut. It was clear that many others were thinking the same and we quickly established there was indeed a distinct lack of electricity in the neighbourhood. . 

We coped very well considering. The electronic babysitter was still available in the form of a movie on the laptop. Thankfully the ACER Aspire Timeline I bought a good year ago was fully charged and would have done two movies if needed. I located three candles and a flash light before darkness fell. Two of the candles were pretty useless but most candles these days are provided more for aesthetic value, proving mostly useless when asked to illuminate. In addition to the one good candle, the gas fire provided heat and light creating something of a festive feel (though the laptop is very much out of place). 
It was all good in the end. We ate pizza by fire/candle/laptop light, drank tea and Beth learned that her beloved CD player also uses electricity. The only thing that let go was my phone as it hadn't been charged last night and gave up shortly after the cut. I even found my old camping lantern, unused for at least 4 years, rusted and dusty, just like the gas canister but ready to bring serious light back to living room. 
Power returned at about 1700. I was actually enjoying the gloom and near helpless simplicity when things started beeping, booting and generally lighting up so normality was strangely unwelcome. In fact, I was just filling pans to try and try to produce enough hot water for a shallow bath before an early bed. Within minutes however, I was glad of the working lights and boiler. Tom, otherwise happy, distributed the contents of his stomach evenly between his clothing and the rug. It's times like that when you really start to to enjoy the wonders of technology, particularly combination boilers, washing machines and lights. So ends another blog, another day in my life made by two lovely children, my dad and the good old national grid. 

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Oh Dear, I've Made a Techno Misjudgement.

As a teacher, specifically the one with responsibility for ICT in an 'Outstanding' school, I should probably know better. I've taken my ICT role very seriously this year and am pushing hard to raise the profile across the school. This has meant a new scheme of work, staff training and introducing assessment/tracking throughout school. Our infrastructure is under my beady eye as well with upgrades needed to our network, classroom hardware and software. 

Importantly, I'm also working on ICT at home. In the past month we have acquired a Kindle (Ang's Christmas prezzy about which she already knows), a spare camera an now anew netbook to replace the no-longer functioning first generation eeePC I was so fond of. Ang was against a new netbook suggesting a tablet of some kind as an alternative. With my new love of blogging I immediately felt the lack of keyboard would be a problem. Visiting Leeds on the shop left me thinking that netbooks were such excellent value for money that I would be silly to pay the £350 for a tablet worth having. With the offer of an ex-display Samsung 145, it seemed a no-brainer. 

With it home and working, I'm happy enough with it. That's not to say I'm very pleased. Even with the benefit 10 hour claimed battery life, the performance is noticeably laggy and I had difficulty getting the updates for Win7. On the plus side, the minuscule laptop plays video well from it's noisy 250gb drive. There is a keyboard which, though the action is poor, let me type up my last blog. In short, it's OK, inexpensive and very portable. 

Don't worry, I'm getting to the clear evidence of a supreme balls up. You see, each and every time the topic of possible iPads in schools has come up I've thought, 'Rubbish.' My concern is that the cost is huge compared to a load of netbooks and they are limited by the absence of a keybard (other than the on screen one). In my defence, we do a lot of writing in school, much more than most as far as I can tell. To expose the children to ICT as much as I want, they need to be using it heavily in English lessons. 

At home, I've been not noticing how amazing my children are. Thanks to an increased focus on assessment in school, I have noticed how good they are at school. Meanwhile, my 13 month old sun has worked out how to turn on the tumble drier. I don't mean he plays with it until somthing happens. Tom turns the timer knob then presses the start button. No messing about other than clapping. Beth has always been able to play a little game on my phone. She loves it in fact. 

What  I didn't know was just how capable my 3 year old girl is. Tonight I found her with my phone playing a game where the numbers 1-9 are presented as jumbled buttons. The player presses the buttons in order. Very educational and I'm not amazed she can do it as she can count to 20 and recognises the numbers 1-10. What is amazing is that I didn't teacher her how to get the game. Beth had to 
Unlock the phone.
Open the applications menu (there's no short cut on the home screen). 
Scroll down the list of applications. 
Identify the correct icon for the game to launch it.
Select the correct level (said she didn't like the other ones. Too easy it would seem).

I realise there is a certain amount of doting father believing his daughter is the best thing since sliced bread which is only right as any child's biggest fans should be their parent's. That aside, while not being an expert on these thing, it still seems amazing that a 3 year old can achieve where many adults I know quickly give up.. Someone should probably give her access to further touch screen tech... OOPS. I can't help sitting here thinking that she wouldn't be able or inspired to access ICT to that level through a symbol packed keyboard  and a fiddly mouse.

In conclusion the netbook, cost effective and capable, isn't as good for a family. It has none of the magic of a touch screen computer with clever, even pleasing, interface. I love my Samsung Galaxy S. I'd love a Galaxy Tab though it wouldn't be any use for typing up a blog or running windows software I need for school. On the other hand, Beth would love it, Ang would love it and, going on form, Tom wouldn't be far behind. I suspect I've missed a trick here. 

My action plan? First, find something for Beth to play with that will inspire her. Then, see about doing the same at school. I'm not sure how it would work but I've now got some evidence that tablets could work well. 

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Week of Weather

Oh dear. Can this be right? Have I really let myself stoop so low as to write about weather? The answer is yes. There's plenty of other things to talk about (including my new netbook and further work related unhappiness) but I'm going to try not to be to broad. Instead I will talk about surviving (comfortably) the ride to work. 

The snow finally showed up on Monday. The white stuff arrived early on Monday morning as I headed up over Blubberhouse Moor on my way to work. Thanks to a particularly useful app on my Galaxy S, it came as no surprise. Weather warning are coming in thick and fast. The fact that one of my regular roads wasn't treated forcing me to make the choice between starting this year's snow riding with a long descent with the potential to build up alarming speeds or turn back. Time being short, I went for it, in first gear, at a jogging pace. Much later, just as the snow disappeared, the roads were treated again, which was thoughtful. It's hard work riding in snow with just about every decision carrying significantly more weight than ever before. 
It was nice to stop and get a picture on top of the moor. Unfortunately the wind was strong, I couldn't get a flashless picture. This one didn't really capture the moment I was hoping for but that's life. I'm going to have to try and learn about taking photo's in low light as every time I get out it's the break of dawn or the dark of night. 

The good news is, despite the cold, I've been able to stay comfortable. Kit is everything. Layers are also important. I've always used a lot of Army issue (now sourced from the Rufforth Autojumble) cold weather gear. In particular, I love my Norwegian shirt and the aptly named 'Socks Extreme Cold Weather.' It can all get a bit silly though and getting dressed takes a good 5 minutes of my life. Feeling the need to share this with the world, I made this video and posted it on youtube. 
Just to be clear, it isn't intended to have educational value for budding all weather bikers. In fact, making it lead me to go out and learn something new from a video that was intended to be educational. Having completed the video I naturally had a look at the ones that had been associated with it.
This one proved interesting. Never before had I thought about 'Base Layers.' I happen to own one but it goes unused because I don't really like the feel of synthetic materials and didn't see why it would be better than thermals. Everyday I put on a tshirt so that I don't have to wash the thicker thermal layers everyday. As it turns out that's not a good plan because it traps moisture (inevitable when kitting up in the living room and heaving a bike about) close to the skin. Since my little learning experience, I've been wearing the base layer (and have ordered two more) with the result that I'm noticeably better off.

Though the trousers and jacket are on the pricey side, much of my kit is just great value. If you are wondering about the boots I'm using, they are not quite your £150 all weather riding boots though I do own a cold and leaky pair of them. Nope, they are Dickies finest £25 steal toe capped, faux fur lined rigger boots. They work a treat in the cold, have plenty of room for extra socks and have kept me dry wear all others have failed. The gloves I'm finding most effective are a pair of Probiker Cool Breaker 2 thee finger gloves. They are great; warm and pretty dry. A good neck tube helps as well. I've lost one of mine this year (need to keep two as one is usually wet or hiding in a laundry basket somewhere) so I went and bought a Buff. What a waste of time and money. It's £25 of uselessness compared to the fleece neck tube I got in Boyes for less than a fiver. 

Returning to weather, it's been more than just snow this week. In fairness, the wind has been the worst of it. Every day has had amber weather warning for wind and that can be just as tricky on the bike. Actually, when you're riding a bike that struggles to cruise at 70, a 70mph head wind means you're effectively going nowhere fast in 3rd gear, engine screaming. Unfortunately, what really doesn't help is gusting side winds which attack out of nowhere and can leave you heading in unexpected directions which may or may not include oncoming traffic. 

Still, the YBR 250 seems a bit special. It's coped remarkably well with the snow and wind this week. Though light and with a fairly short wheel base, the ride is stable and response to the steering assured. You couldn't really ask for more at this time of year (or any really). 

That said, I did see the future in MCN this week where they tested the new Honda (I know) NC700x. It's everything I want. It's got half a Honda Jazz engine and, based on car technology, it's all about low engine speeds and awsome fuel economy. The design is that of a crossover, all be it with a shockingly small 14L fuel tank. The motor is something based on unheard of (in motorcycles) common sense and proven engineering. Most shocking is the fact that it's a Honda for less than £6k. I have no intention of spending money on a new bike but this will be something I'm looking for in the next year or two. This seems to me to be the bike for future travel dreams. This is the kind of thing Ang and I could go see Ireland on. 
Photo From MCN

Ah well, this is enough from me for one night. I'll just put on one more picture which I took tonight. It isn't everything I hoped for (as usual) when I stopped on my way home to try and capture the ghostly moon in a windswept sky. It was all very Alfred Noyes they way I saw the picture coming out. Unfortunately, the batteries didn't hold out for more than one shot and the wind was blowing hard. Still, I'm just glad I've taken to carrying the camera on my bike. Now, I will have to try to carry a tripod and spare batteries. Here's hoping the photo oportunites keep coming after I develop the skills to capture them. I like pictures I do. 

Sunday, 4 December 2011

An Adventure

Ang went to work today. She's on her way home as I type. For now however, I'm a lone parent who's kids are safely tucked in bed and therefore has time to consume more mulled wine and do something almost certainly pointless.

Today saw Tom, Beth and I go on an 'Adventure.' It started with a trip to Stefano's Cafe Rosso, home of the friendliest cup of coffee in Harrogate. It's also the best coffee, as long as Stefano himself makes it. On this occasion the man had also managed to recover Beth's hat from the middle of the road where it had been lost the previous day. Interestingly, moments after the hat was lost I took a picture of the cafe for this very blog. On inspecting the picture last night, we noticed a hat in the middle of the road. Beth saw it as well and was so upset she cried for a good hour (She was tired as well but that's just silly).
The adventure carried on with a ride on the double decker bus to Leeds. The 36 is an amazing service with leather seats and a 2-1 seating configuration whic must cost serious money to provide and prove a problem at peak times. More surprisingly there is WIFI on board. As it turned out, there was no internet connection associated with the WIFI but if there was I'm sure it would have been nice. As it was, I was forced to tweet via my own mobile web.

Though the ride on a decker was the headline act of the day for Beth, she mainly slept. As in fact did Tom.
I on the other hand was looking forward to the German market. It's a favourite of mine, complete with bratwurst and pretzels. The food wasn't such a hit with the little ones who only went for the bread rolls. Millennium square wasn't a complete let down for Beth who loved going for a ride on a hog.
 After the joys of the German market it was time to visit Ang and steal the car so we could drive to Ilkley. I've been trying to keep school out of my blog in order to improve the poor balance in the blog wordle (see yesterday). Today was the Christmas fair so I took my family along. Tom really enjoyed going through my draws while Beth made Christmas decorations and had her face painted.
And that's it. Actually, that obviously isn't it and there's much more to it but I suspect by now I've bored any potential readers mainly to death and besides, Ang is home now so I should probably pay her some attention.

Good Night.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Data Recovery, Salt, Decimal Points and Words

Well now, I've written the title now so I must know what drivel I plan on publishing today. The news that is most relevant to anything right at this very moment is that I've had a noticeable amount to alcohol for the first time since the doctor told me to stay off the booze. Quite amusing that I have an alcoholics liver when I drink less than, well, any. Tonight however Ang suggested Mulled (or Microwaved cheep spiced) wine. Seems to have done the trick. Up to now I've tried my best to keep my writing to at least a level four and tonight (as should be explained later) I've every intention of focusing on my use of vocabulary. Tonight, it is clear, the wine isn't going to help things. 

Let me begin anyway with the decimal point. Last Sunday I decided to hunt for a new camera as there have been too many times when I wanted one handy; at school, on the road and other places that I've probably forgotten about. Ebay had plenty to choose from and an old 6mp Powershot was looking tasty. A last bid is always fun and I hurriedly bid 21 quid and some change with two seconds left. The auction ended at 51 quid and me thinking some twit had just paid far to much for that camera. How surprised was I then when the email told me not that I been outbid but that I had in fact won the camera, thanks to my maximum bid of £2190. OOPS! On the plus side, it takes good pictures and seems pretty good in poor light. Below is the pictures of Ilkley as dawn is about to break and I'm on my way to work. Not the best but the wind was crazy so that's as steady as it was ever going to be. 

Salt is really about muck. There was so much of the stuff on my bike when I got it out today that I emptied most of the water butt just rinsing off ready to wash it. The nights have been pretty chilly this week and the gritters have been out so like any other winter hack, the YBR has been building up a protective layer of corrosive material with every sprinkling of rain (which the good Lord sees fit to arrange to coincide with my commute). That's not what caused the total mess pictured here though. 
 That is thanks to Penny Pot lane (an alternative to the main Skipton Road) which isn't as closed as the 'Road Closed' signs suggest. When Skipton Road was closed by the police last night and we were turned back over the moor, I figured it was time to go all adventurous and sneak through Penny Pot Lane and all the heavy plant equipment. I occurred to me I could always ride the verge like Charlie Boorman himself. This was not necessary in the end but riding down a road being resurfaced does bad things to your bike. Cleaning the bike has made me a huge fan of Muck Off spray without which all the water in Fewson Reservoir wasn't going to get this thing clean. 
Unfortunately, I discovered something else on cleaning the bike. Spot the rust all over the chain? The automatic chain oiler wasn't oiling (or for that matter pointing at the chain). For all I know, that chain has gone 300 miles without lubrication. Needless to say, it took a good 3 flats on the chain adjuster to take the huge slack that had developed back in.

Meanwhile, I'm waiting to hear from a lady in Ilkley about whether or not a nightmare is in fact reality. Two days ago I put my long servering and previously trustworthy (memory stick, thumb drive, jump drive, remembering thing, call it what you will) into my computer which then invited me to format it so it could be used! What? NO! It was September when I last backed it up and everything was on there. The new ICT Scheme of Work I spent a whole holiday working on and was going to roll out to staff on Wednesday was on there. As I type, the nice lady in Ilkley is trying to recover the data and if successful it will cost me £70. That may sound like a small fortune and it's not money I have spare however I just pray I get to pay it. The alternative is unthinkable. 

Which just brings me to words. Friday saw me go on and assessment in ICT course. The course was good. James Langley was great. He reminded me of a use for wordles ( as a way of showing repetition in writing. It made me think that this blog should be run through it to see what I am repeating because i do genuinely try to keep my writing above the standard I expect of the year 4 children I teach. Hopefully my sentences begin in a variaty of ways, my writing contains details intended to interest the reader etc and so on. Unfotunately, on inspection of the Wordle, there is a bigger problem than my writing. I've circled three words. Remember, the size of the words is increased by repetition. I've circled three words. 
It's clearly not my writing that's unbalanced. It's my whole life.