Safe and sound 
Greetings from a winter walk...
I wrote most of this in my shed. The rest of it was dictated while sat on a log.
I spent New years eve on my own as family were either away, sick or exhausted. I watched Jools and chatted on the web, ever hopeful for the new year.
I didn’t expect to be sitting in a hospital waiting room quite so soon. It wasn’t that long ago I was there with my son, yet this week it was my daughters turn. Having been to the doctors on New Years Day my daughter was diagnosed with streptococcal pharyngitis, also known as bacterial tonsillitis or strep throat.
The doctor prescribed antibiotics and said if it gets any worse head to A&E. But strep is rife and antibiotics are scarce. For lots of reasons. After too many phone calls, three prescription changes and a visit to four pharmacies, we managed to get some. Sadly my daughter reacted to them. Not an allergic reaction as such. She just could not keep them down. Things got worse and after three days with nothing but water we had to head to A&E.
It was so busy. Standing room only. Even for those that could not stand. The children’s waiting room contained its own tragic scenes. Bleeding kids and harrowing cries for mummy. We waited a little over four hours but were tended to every half an hour as vitals were checked. I have no idea how the staff were able to remain composed and friendly amidst such sights and sounds. All in a day’s work for the underpaid, under loved and little respected. We were told there was nothing more to do but try a better throat spray and persist with the antibiotics.
After days, many tears and two more types of antibiotics, we are not through the worst, this morning my daughter headed back to school. Feeling much better.
I really must thank a couple of friends/subscribers who during our most frustrating times shared their expert advice and coaxed our worried minds into a better place. You know who you are. Thank you.
With all the logistical strains the medicine hunt etc, being a one car family has sucked. I was holding off replacing my motorbike till the spring, but being without backup long distance transport has not been fun. So I’m now actively looking.
With so much choice out there, I have a bike buying quandary. I looked at electric bikes but they cost at least three times what I got for my old bike and only do half the job. As my next bike will most likely be my last internal combustion engined bike, it will have to tick a few boxes.
Why a bike and not another car? I won’t have to justify the purchase of a motorbike to anyone who rides one. They just know. But for a recap:
Motorbikes can move through, around and past traffic.
Riding is more involved than driving and feels like a workout.
They can be more fuel efficient.
Motorcycling comes with a great community.
New motorbikes are cheaper than new cars.
Riding a motorbike is exciting.
You are never lost on a motorbike.
“You do not need a therapist if you own a motorcycle, any kind of motorcycle!”
~ Dan Aykroyd
Yes without the right gear you can get cold and wet and most cars are out to kill you. But all those people you see out there riding motorbikes have considered this and know the benefits far outweigh risk. They understand that riding bikes might not add days to your life. But it certainly adds life to your days.
This week I headed out to look at a lot of bikes and even got to test ride two possible candidates. First off, at Pure Triumph in Woburn. I was hoping to find an old 675 Street Triple but instead I got a brief ride on the brand new Triumph Tiger 660 Sport.
I could really have done with a longer ride as it feels like the perfect downgrade on the Tiger 800 I just sold. Although still tall it’s smaller overall. So much easier to manoeuvre by hand and giving me more space in my tiny garage. It was a lot more fun than I expected.
This is no off road bike, it’s designed for the road, but I’m sure it could handle a little gravel. It felt nimble, fast and peppy, had decent fuel consumption and would easily work as an all year round bike. The bar position was perfect and the screen surprisingly effective with very little buffeting. You can also lift and lower it quickly with one hand.
New, the bike is not crazy expensive but that’s because some corners have been cut. No centre stand or cruise control for starters. It’s still over my budget though. If this bike was second hand with low miles and a grand cheaper I’d have bought it there and then.
But it wasn’t. So I continued my search at my favourite Triumph dealer Pure Triumph over in Wellingborough where they very generously let me have a much longer ride on a 2019 second hand Triumph Street Triple 765RS .
There is something about the Street Triple I’m drawn to. 13 years ago I took the older, larger 1200 version out. It scared me to death so I bought a scrambler instead. The slowest bike in the yard. I kept it for 12 years. This Street Triple was also scary at only 765cc, but I’m a different rider today.
Although incredibly exciting we got to know each other and I started to feel that all it wanted to do was ride fast and have fun. How fast was purely down to my skills and we soon reached their limit. Way below what the bike was capable of.
It handled fantastically. A ‘flickable’ bike that rides as well at low speeds as it does flying through corners. I had a phenomenal amount of power at my disposal. Even in ‘rain mode’. From start to finish my adrenal gland was pumping. It’s a bike that requires focus in any weather, but a little extra in the wet.
It’s been a while since I have done any speed on an unfared bike. Being open to the elements with no screen protection was not as bad as I thought it would be. Even at speeds in excess of ???mph. Where a screen might focus wind blast, the even pressure of oncoming air took a little weight off my wrists. My only major gripe with the bike was that if I was riding less than 40mph over time, I’d certainly get wrist pain. The Tiger 660 was more upright and better for long distance.
But the Street Triple is so much faster. And faster really can mean better. Like a gazelle in a field of hedgehogs, (sorry can’t think of a better analogy), lane splitting and getting to the front of traffic was a breeze. Cars stood in a line tend to be predictable obstacles. Unless someone opens a door, you feel you can accurately predict their footprint and direction of travel.
The same goes for cars on a roundabout. What looks like a risky entry and exit to a car driver, I now know is just a flick of the wrist on a bike like this.
As the Striple can get from 0 to 60 in 3 seconds you feel that more is possible. And this can of course be problematic. Feeling like you have superpowers means you’ll be more tempted to push the envelope. I was amazed what the bike had me doing in two short hours. How might I be riding if I really got to know the bike?
It also sounded lovely. My Tiger 800 had an annoying whine at speed, this roared. A finely tuned machine with attitude.
It was hard to find anything wrong. But I had got on it thinking it looked too aggressive. Motorbikes are a fun way to get around for me. This one, angular and stealth-like, looked like it was ready to carry an assassin to their next it mark. I wasn’t too keen at the thought of cleaning it either. It’s a definite jet-wash job. And while my last bike looked better with a veneer of mud, I feel this bike wanted to be shiny for the weekend blast.
The Triumph Street Triple 765RS is an amazing bike. Close to perfect. It will be perfect for a lot of riders. But as much as I hate myself for thinking this, it is not perfect for my needs. I need an all round bike to ride all year. That can comfortably do distance and that I can occasionally take my kids out on. One at a time of course.
When I took the bike back I reported it might well be the best bike I have ever ridden. But it might not be the one I need. As boring as that sounds my daughter, who loved the Tiger 800 took one look at it on the drive and said she’d be too scared to get on it. So there’s also that.
I stood in the dealership pondering how what I really need is smaller Street Triple with a screen and panniers. That sounded perfect. Then, right next to me I wondered if Triumph had already made it. Sat by the door was a Tiger 660 Sport. Just like the first one I rode.
I think I need a longer ride on it. Just to be sure.
This week I’ve been writing up a journal from 1998 which features some time in Chaing Mai, Thailand. There was a bar there called the Brasserie, where a guitarist called Tuk would play almost every night. It was one of the few places in Thailand where I could walk in and be remembered. I used to joke with friends that I had a residency there playing blues harmonica. If he saw me walk in, Tuk would shout “Hey harmonica guy let’s play some blues!” Although Tuk and the band were extremely accomplished musicians, respected across the north of Thailand, they always made time for a traveller who wanted to accompany them for a few songs. I must have been one of thousands who got to enjoy being a part of his band. I love to think he is still there 25 years later, doing his thing.
This video is from nine years ago and I have found some three years old where he is still playing. So there is certainly a chance he’s still doing his thing.
The art of activism and how to protect the seabed with 10 ton marble sculptures.
Twenty six years after it was written, I’ve finally read Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk.
A depraved, twisted story that leaps from flashback to flashback, spilling its guts and then wearing them with a grin.
If you read this book before you saw the film you’ve earned the bragging rights. Damn. I wish I had.
Nihilists, oblivion seekers and drone workers of the world unite. Resist the ideals of society, unravel and feel true power. Let this be your guidebook.
I like listening to podcasts on topics outside of my normal interests. Data loving artist and writer Jer Thorp has a podcast called Once Upon a Checklist. It’s about Birding. Or as we call it over here, birdwatching.
My lad was away for the new year at something called EcoWinter in Scotland and on leaving he was told to help himself to anything from the kitchen. They didn’t want any food to go to waste. So when he got off the coach he was carrying two kilos of cheddar and four kilos of onions. Onions have featured heavily in our diet this week.
Which isn’t all that bad. As a family we cook a lot of dishes with onion.
According to the internet, humans have eaten the humble onion for over 7000 years They have been known to have medical benefits since ancient times. Today health experts acknowledge that onions are beneficial for people with reduced appetite and those suffering from atherosclerosis. They also provide respite for patients with allergic bronchitis, chronic asthma, and common cold-related syndromes.
Perhaps this is because of the vitamins, minerals, nutrients and organic compounds. Such as sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, selenium, and phosphorus, as well as being a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin C and dietary fibre. At 85p per kilo it’s not the cheapest veg in the market but I think you get a lot for your money. Especially if they were free ;-) And I haven’t even touched upon there potential boost to immunity, oral care, Positive effects on the heart and use as an insect repellant.
How playing Tetris can assist with trauma.
[There are some Amazon affiliate links in this dispatch. If you all use them i’ll earn about 8p. Not sure why I bother to be honest. Although that’s another 8p in the motorbike piggy bank.]
The axe is still my chosen tool for splitting wood and I have a few that will do a variety of jobs. (Felling axe, forest axe, splitting maul) And I’ll then use a manual saw to cut the split logs down to fit in our log burner. At least till it hurts. Now though, when my arm starts to give up, I can use this…
Love my reciprocating saw. I originally bought it to use with these blades for breaking down pallets. But these blades make light work of logs. Speaking of which, the log pile is very well stocked and should now last a good few years.
Project Leonardo looks to revolutionise accessibility in gaming.
I’ve downloaded Stable Diffusion for Mac. It’s not as good as I’d hoped.
Are you new? Add yourself to the Documentally community map.
This device was used to resuscitate canaries in coal mines.
A thread featuring some sleek websites.
The UK’s first orbital spaceflight is set to take off on Monday.
I love writing and curating this for you. I could I’d do it all the time. Even if no one paid. But I have bills and mouths to feed. So if you are in a position to support this publication, please do. I’ve noticed that this is the time of year when people forget to renew a subscription. Fingers crossed you do. Or that others might start something new and exciting. :-) Let me know if I can do anything for you. And don’t forget you can comment, reply and even like this post online. Happy New Year!
Thank you for reading.
“Money is not the only commodity that is fun to give. We can give time, we can give our expertise, we can give our love or simply give a smile. What does that cost? The point is, none of us can ever run out of something worthwhile to give.” ~ Steve Goodier
See you out there.