Tour de France – oh yeah!

It feels funny that around me all my mates seem to be gearing up for the World Cup, but I haven’t paid it much attention expect to see the insane booze offers in the supermarkets – The Co-op, which is rarely cheap, but at least it’s convenient and feels nice, is doing 10 can boxes of Fosters, Carling and Carlsberg for £7.50 and Tesco is giving it away even cheaper.

It’s not the football, or even the tennis that I’m excited about though, it’s the tour.

I have watched it every year that I can remember, and I’m excited about it coming to Britain, even though I will watch most of the action on TV.


Dad was obsessed with Eddy Merckx, this guy in the picture. He was a Belgium or whatever you call someone from Belgium who won the race 5 times back in the seventies. I still have this particular picture as a poster on my wall in the den, it’s somehow a lot more cool than the modern guys with their super efficient and light bikes.

I liked Bradley Wiggins because he’s a bit of a dude off the bike, and I don’t have any love for Chris Frome as he’s the opposite. Even if he is probably a better ridder than Wiggo and probably carried him to his 2012 victory, he is just a bit boring really.

Another of dad’s heroes who I grew to like died today – Rick from the young ones, Rik Myall. I loved the programme even if it was made thirty years ago. Ha! I thought I was wildly exaggerating there, but it actually was made in 82- 84. That’s before mum and dad even met.


Inner tubes

I’d been riding every day since I punctured, safe in the knowledge that I had a puncture kit in my back pocket, then this evening I thought I’d make good use of my time and repair the tube that I replaced last week.

Only to find that I didn’t have a spare patch. I’d have been buggered if I had a puncture this week.

I’ve now got the Schwable Marathons on front and back, but still this week that bit of wire got through.

Riding has been fun. Even when the rain has come down I have managed to keep my spirits high. I see myself as leading the peleton, being the guy who is happiest riding in the rain. The tour is on soon so I’ll have plenty of mental images of great riders to help me encourage myself on.

I’m also hoping to get to stay with friends of my folks in Ripon to see the stages in Yorkshire. Wow, imagine the real Tour coming to England. Apparently there are yellow bikes all over the place there, and one of the hotels in Harrogate has had all the old biddies in the town, and some youngsters too, knitting fiendishly creating little jerseys in yellow, white, polka dot and green for the leaders’ jerseys.

I know yellow is the overall leaders’ jersey.

The polka dot is the king of the mountains.

Green is the points leaders (although I don’t know how that’s worked out.

White is for the rooky.

And to hold any of them for just a single day is enough to satisfy most would be racers, but often the best in the race will hold on to his jersey for much of the race – it’s more exciting when it changes regularly though.

I bet they don’t worry too much about puncture kits! I bet the team does worry a lot about punctures though, and amazingly quick changes of bike when it does happen. Bring on Le Tour!


I was getting punctures in Manchester on a regular basis.

It’s no surprise, but it’s still bloody annoying.

So a few months back I went on the hunt for better tyres.

I bought Schawable Active Plus. An attractive tyre if such a thing exists. It has a 3 mm Kevlar strip, and usefully has a Scotchbright rim on the wall making it a good all round tyre, that will cope with high pressures, and should stay up.

For six months, may even be more, the tyres performed well with the only complaint being perhaps that they’re too slippery when wet, but once you know that you take it a bit easier when you’re cornering. I never take it easy when cornering. I’ve come off twice already, never badly though.

This morning though I punctured. Balls.

First time in ages.

At first I thought I’d just pump it up and carry on, but it was flat again in no time.

Thankfully, and actually unusually, I had the kit. I had the 15mm spanner to take the wheels off. I had tyre levers. And better still, I had a spare inner tube.

So the swop over was a calm affair. Actually, thinking back it was remarkably calm for a stroppy git like me.

But then came trying to get the tyre back on.

I remembered that I had to use a hairdryer on it the first time I put it on.

Trying to do it at the roadside with cold wet hands was horrible. My hands still hurt now!


Thinking more about the best holiday homes

What about this amazing place?



This belongs to friends of the folks and I worked there for a bit when they were renovating it. Now you can find it on where it’s available as a holiday home.

OK, so it doesn’t look much from this photo as we were driving away from it when I took this,  but it’s a huge and luxurious beauty.

It sleeps 17 people, has a beautiful salt water pool (salt water is so much better than chlorinated water) and the views from the pool, and in fact from pretty much anywhere in the house, are utterly stunning. You look out over the Rhone valley, over Montelimar, to the Alps in the far distance.

There’s an apartment for four people that’s self contained, yet within the house, then the main house has a huge kitchen and a huge lounge. I’d like to stay there in winter time to light all the fires as the snow falls all around. But I’m not complaining if I have to go again in the summer, swimming in the Ardeche river, canoeing, generally loving life.

This has so much value that even at €7,500 a week, which is what it costs in the summer, I’d still say that it’s great value, and divided between 17 people then it’s not too much a head.

God I talk like I could afford a night away anywhere without being able to claim the cost back from someone I have been working for – I couldn’t, but one day….

What makes a great holiday home?

Mum and dad love renting cottages around the country and spending a week living a different life. They love Cornwall, the Yorkshire Dales, Skye and the Highlands, but if one of their friends said about a great place they’d surely go and try it.

I was reading about what makes a good holiday home and how to make one better in this article and thinking about what would sell something to me.

I love hot tubs, but I’m not sure I like the idea of using one that someone else has been in the week before, and I’d imagine that they cost a fortune to run and clean.


The article talks about Sonos hi-fi systems so that you can listen to any music you fancy – that certainly seems a great idea.

But do you know what? A sea view would be top of my list.

It talks about decoration and I agree that a neutral palate makes sense.

Also the website that you advertise on makes a lot of difference. I asked mum about this and she said they use one called She said that it bucks the trend in that it looks horrible, but has the most amazing properties on it.

Service is important too. Even when I’m delivering cars for Jon I have to be dressed well and know the buyer’s name and be super polite, showing him around his new classic as if it were a brand new car. It’s right too. Service counts for so much.

The folks are talking about going to France next. I usually get invited but I’ve said no for a while, I reckon that I might just tag along for one more trip if they do go to France. I’ll need to come to some deal with dad over drinking though – there’s no way I’m going on holiday and not having some wine!

Soaked – no fun on a bike tonight

This afternoon I did a job for Jon for the first time in a while. It was easy enough, I just had to take a Landrover over to some place called Tadcaster over near York and then get home somehow.

I didn’t realise that Tadcaster is where they brew John Smiths, not that it’s relevant as I don’t even like the stuff, but it’s nice to clock another brewery now and then. It was the smell of the brewery that hit me first, and then I saw it.

Anyhow, the fellow I was delivering to was a decent sort, he offered to drop me at the station, but I’d brought my bike and I was quite looking forward to a ride. First off I rode down to the Little Chef to spend my well earned tip on a cracking meal of ham, egg, chips and peas, cup of tea on the side. Loads of people say that Little Chef is crap, but I like it.

imageThis time around is was better than usual even as teh chips were super crispy and the eggs good and runny, but with perfect firm whites (runny egg white turns my stomach).

The only problem came when it was time to get into town for the train, the heavens opened just as I left the Chef, but there was no going back, I was soaked straight away.

I’m no whimp and I don’t care that much about riding in the rain, but it was horrible sitting on the train back to Manchester for an age in dripping wet clothes. And being a twenty something youth no one was going to feel sorry for me, they just didn’t want me sitting next to them.

I somehow suspect that I’ll live though!

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