Day 2, seafront meet-up
So, revved from the excitement of Day 1, the weekend arrived and it's up and out as soon as possible. Slight delays due to attempts at navigating the LCD options again (note to self : leave the blue button alone) then it's back out on the open road again. A nervous start around the station area and a few dead ends where of course walking is fine but it's no through road for motor vehicles, but once the one-way system is behind me I'm back on the Brighton-Worthing seafront route again. Mush easier this time now I know the way and no surprises through Lancing and out the other side. Even the big Worthing roundabouts are negotiated with ease and before I know it I'm trundling back to the Yamaha dealer to meet up with the other half of the 125 Biker Gang. MrB is waiting for me and the sight of me wobbling into view is obviously quite comical cos he's chucklin' away to himself.
A tour round the bike accessories shops and then on to some more road practice. We're following much of my CBT route so some of the roads are familiar, especially the sweeping bend near the station, the site of my first proper lean it over and power round exercise. On to the seafront and we're back to my old cycling territory, just 3 times quicker now ! Some interesting T-junction and minor bends to negotiate and now we're riding in to the sun too. Visor down and try and concentrate on where I want to go, as the advice says, the bike goes where you're looking. Coffee stop at the seafront cafe, sitting there in our armoured jackets with crash helmets on the spare seats, no-one can tell that we've pulled up on a couple of 125 ponies although the unprotected jeans give us away somewhat.
Another trip down the seafront and I'm heading home with the sun setting behind me but there's an orange light on the dash too. Ah, I was wondering how much petrol I'd been gifted by the dealer, not much as it turns out. A quick stop at the next filling station as it doesn't take long to fill the tank. It doesn't take much cash either, £6.72 to fill it up, that's just madness.
Up and over Hove this time, avoiding the Landsdowne narrows and back up to the parking spot. I'm a bit sad to leave it but then again my legs are freezing, my head and hands sweating and a long hot shower is the most attractive idea imaginable. Can't wait for Day 3 though.
Day 3, practice makes...
Still no proper bike trousers bought so today's trip is going to be a bit shorter I thought. Yeah, right, that's before I'm out on the road and just don't want to go home, this is far too much fun. First stop, the practice ground. I've had my researchers out looking for the ideal combination of quiet seclusion, easy access and level ground and they turned up the perfect pitch. The far end of a trading / light industrial estate with a disused unit owning 20 or so parking spaces, perfectly distanced to allow for optimum U-turn and slow speed manoeuvres. And don't I need it. The slow turns and sharp stops on my CBT were abominable "What the fuck was that" was my instructor's actual phrasing. So, start from the beginning again. Safety position, standing start, back brake pressure, plenty of revs, slip the clutch. Good, smoothly away with the engine fighting the brakes and keeping me upright. Now it's time to commit to the U-turn. I'm really trying to move my head in the direction I want to go but the bike's leaning too much and I'm going too slowly. My panic right foot comes off the brake and my left hand pulls in the clutch resulting in the bike running forward and lots of unhelpful revving. Right, try again. And so it goes on until I finally find the right balance of revs, clutch, brake and speed to make the turn successfully. What a great feeling having the bike go exactly where I want it in a calm and smooth manner. Let's do it again. Yes, much better. I do at least another 4 or 5 tries before stopping for a clutch hand rest. The builders of this little patch of Hove retail park have conveniently placed 2 drain covers just the right distance apart for some figure of 8 practice, surely the hardest part of CBT. With the new confidence though it's not so bad. Going from right turns straight into lefts is tricky at first and I have lots of foot down moments but a bit of concentration and back to that perfect crawling throttle/brake/clutch balance and after a few failures I've almost got it. A few more tries and I'm nailing it every time. Brilliant, I celebrate with eight 8's and a couple of U-turns, totally relieved that I've overcome this first hurdle. Right, school's over, fun time now. No real plan just drift through the back streets of hove, back to the relative civilisation of Brighton and find myself at the end of my own street. Hmm, go home ? I don't think so. Onward it is. Down into the valley and up the other side, climbing Elm Grove at a perfectly respectable pace now, not even getting bothered by the traffic. Well to be fair, the only other traffic is buses and they keep having to stop. Right up and over the top but now we're in open country on a high ridge with nothing between me and the February sea. The wind is a monster, each gust crashes into my right side trying to take me off the straight and narrow. I persist and keep more or less to where I want to be on the road but it's a fight every turn of the wheel.. Relief when I get over the hill and down into the shelter of the Woodingdean shops. Rolling freely down the road now and recalling the discussion about the mystery road between here and Ovingdean. Look out for the right turn and there it is, can't believe I've never noticed it before. Take the turn and I'm into the hidden valley, round the twisty bits, oh so carefully, past the 11th century church and back out towards the unforgiving sea. Now I'm on the 3 lanes of full on speeding traffic with even more massive air pressure on my left, This time it's not remotely funny, that wind is having a good try at pushing me into the next lane which is owned by overtaking tin-box people. Time to get off this ride, I take the next exit and I'm back on to the relative safety of the Rodean road. Up and down to the edge of the Bristol and back up through Whitehawk to take me up to the top of Elm Grove again. A Sunday enthusiast on his beautifully restored old Triumph passes me nervously. He's spent years perfecting his pride and joy and he doesn't want to scratch it now. He's all Aron sweater and big old biker boots, the outfit carefully matching the era of the bike. Nice.
I'm focused on the home straight now, carefully does it down the hill, try not to stall at all the lights between here an home, gentle manoeuvring into the North Laine and a bit of parking practice to finish off a pretty satisfactory day. Next time, over the hills and far away...
I AM: here, now.
I SAID: it would all be fine, nothing to worry about.
I WANT: to make myself clear but I lack the confidence to be concise.
I WISH: I could just keep walking, forever.
I HATE: that feeling you get when you suddenly realise you were hopelessly wrong.
I MISS: the excitement of new discoveries
I FEAR: failure
I HEAR: pineapples are very cheap this time of year
I WONDER: why why why why why, she ran away ... my little runaway, run run run run runaway.
I REGRET: lack of foresight, lack of eyesight, not looking, not seeing. When I should have.
I AM NOT: sure if I'm right, but I am sure I might be.
I DANCE: like a disco guru in my head, and like your drunk uncle on the floor.
I SING: along to only two songs
I AM NOT ALWAYS: so indecissive, er, or am I ?
I MADE: it all up, everything, the world around me and my perception of it is no more than a dream I'm yet to wake from.
I WRITE: long hand with a pen when I'm out and full speed on the hot dark keys when I'm back. I'm not sure it matters what I write sometimes, it's the clatter and tap as the words form themselves in the space between my mind and my hands that calms me as it closes the shutters outside and opens all the doors inside.
I CONFUSE: easy, use small words and keep it simple, stupid.
I NEED: to find some peace. But I also hate it when it's quiet, the silence is deafening.
I SHOULD: get away with it.
I START: the day with coffee strong enough to melt the cup.
I FINISH: every book I start, even if it takes me forever to struggle through a turgid dissapointment of a bad book choice.
I BELIEVE: in miracles, since you came along, you sexy thing.
I KNOW: that if anyone reads this they won't get this far down so I can say whatever I like from here on in.
I CAN: make a menu selection in the time it takes to say "pan fried catfish".
I CAN’T: sleep deep. I either doze or dream.
I SEE: someone else in the mirror.
I BLOG: therefore I am, avoiding doing proper writing.
I READ: every word that passes; packets, paper, post. Possibly for posterity.
I AM AROUSED BY: Injustice, wonder, perfection.
IT PISSES ME OFF: when my network connection slows inexplicably.
I FIND: my way better without a map.
I LIKE: big skies but also high rise, hot summers but also cold winters, going away but also coming home.
I LOVE: the journey as much as the destination.
and yes, I am expecting you to complete all of this yourself, all of it, no sneakily missing bits out, right.
Served Straight Up.
Having read the other reviews of this little gem, it's become apparent that it is in fact impossible to write about it without using the word "cornucopia". In this matter, I am, of course, no exception. Maybe they would have named the shop thus if it wasn't the second incarnation of the existing business in Lewes and if there wasn't already a shop on Queens road with that name.
Anyway, onwards to the meat of the matter. A combined cornucopia of organic veg, packed produce incorporating a cool café greats you as you peer round the front door of the old bus depot turned dodgy car park on North Road. A very cool café at this time of year, in fact bloody freezing, so much so that the staff are even handing out hot water botles to the shivering punters. The excellent strong coffee helps here though as does the everso slightly off beat breakfast menu and the tempting specials on the hanging boards overhead. This well tuned concept
is already a proven success with the original Lewes outlet and it's ideal for Brighton's North Laine. This buying the products to take away will likely come back to sit down in the café. Those sampling the breakfast specials and larger lunches are surrounded by tempting arrays of bright fresh fruit and veg and are quite likely to stock up on their way out.
The overall theme here is honesty ; scrubbed wood furniture, concrete floor, exposed ducting and a fully open professional kitchen add to the friendly staff and quirky payment system ; they take your name, you go and pay, there's no bill at Bills.
A veritable mezedopolis
Ignore the 80's white-out effect inside and just concentrate on the
menu. Estia is very much the home of the mezze so the idea is to
eat an array of Greek Cypriot dishes as they emerge from the kitchen
one by one.
A bit like a serialised Tapas adventure. there's also some conventional size dishes, so if you're not quite up for the main event, it's still perectly possible to sample some simple, classic Greek dishes.
Fish features strongly of course with prawns, shellfish and
swordfish all making an appearance.
The standard beef stifado also gets a mention though.
There's a Bargain drinks list and friendly family service completes the picture making Estia an interesting choice for a big eating night out.
The Half Brazillian.
Ten out of ten for effort with this new venture in a newly developed street along side the new Library. Las Iguanas really wants us to love it but unfortunately the best rating they're going to get is "quite nice". That may be a bit harsh, there's nothing actually wrong with the menu or the cooking, and the atmosphere is certainly helped by the 2-for-1 BOGOF drinks offers. It's just all a bit of a fake and that's proving difficult to hide.
The bar though is an instant hit, cool, quite cosy and with a decent cocktail list (including a 10 year old cachaça). It's already become a top local drinking den. So, go for a brazillian themed tex-mex if you fancy it but make sure you hit the bar after.
I've known about and been interested in the South Downs Way for many years now, for almost as long as I've lived this side of the rolling ridges that protect my little bubble from the rest of the country and in fact most of the rest of the county. But, until recently I'd only travelled along tiny stretches of it and mostly by accident. Not no more though, I've now trod every step of half of it. I chose Eastbourne and the Seven Sisters route as my starting point, arriving at the station on a seriously hot and cloudless tuesday morning. Took the half hour trot along the promenade and arrived at the starting point by the kiosk/cafe and tackled the first of many serious Ups to get on to the track leading to Beachy Head. Fantastic views all the way along the coast in both directions.
Walked on to Birling Gap before joining the roller coaster ride following the cliffs of the Seven Sisters Country Park. Seriously steep, and seemingly never-ending but finally after loosing count of the sisters, I made it to the end where you turn in land up the Cuckmere valley to the site of the now submerged Exceat.
Pause for breath after that 12 mile stint then on up the hill towards Alfriston, passing through the tiny villages of Westdean and Littlington. Lunch was late but most welcome after all that and provided the essential energy required for the last 6 or 7 miles along the firle ridgetop and down to the river Ouse at Southease.
Made it to Southease station with 10 minutes to spare before the once-an-hour train to Brighton - Result !
have to admit to the most shallow of reasons for buying this book,
namely it's position at number 1 in the sci-fi masterworks series. I'd
never heard of Haldeman, his work, or his Vietnam veteran
credentials, I was curious, that's all. This curiosity was not
immediately quenched as the first two chapters, while written in an
engaging style, didn't offer any specific reason for the primary list
position. Half way through, however, and it becomes quite obvious. This
book ticks almost all the classic sci-fi boxes : Superluminal travel
and the personal problems created by relativity, check.
Mysterious invading aliens who want to conquer our corner of the
galaxy, present. A military "Star Fleet" made up of marines in
space, yes sir. One of my favourite aspects is the multiple
future societies which Haldeman shows us by taking advantage of
Einstein's event horizon phenomenon where high velocity travel causes
the speeding spacemen to age much less than their earth-bound
cousins. The soldiers come back to a different Earth each time
and we can trace the changes in society over a few thousand years.
The author's own military experience gives this story an extra dimension. This is a soldiers tale, written to show the futility of war and the sacrifices made by the combatants. The futuristic setting frees him from having to write about specifics and concentrate on the issues and even though the narrative is delivered in a gruff bluff voice, there's an overwhelming sense of sensitivity throughout.
|"Today it seems quite possible that the horror may be upon us in a single century. That is, if we refrain from blowing ourselves to smithereens in the interval."|
As a Tribute to diamond geezer's detailed description of the best way to get from Bow Road to Green Park in the morning - Here's my journey home :
London Commuter Handbook: no 33614:
(17:32) London Bridge to Brighton
1) 17:21 - Enter London Bridge station from the main front entrance, make sure you take one of the central section of slightly narrower doors to avoid getting caught up in the gaggle of amateurs looking at the "information" boards or using the payphones. Once through the doors, head straight for Platform 9. The most direct route is down the narrow gap between the Lifts and the Underground escalators - aim for the right hand side of the Lift but breathe in before you get to it to avoid a lung full of Millies Cookie odour. Negotiate the cross flow of your fellow travellers which is a combination of those alighting from the escalators and some unfortunate souls queing for the ticket machine or even worse a La Croissant. A quick glance up at the Platform 9 "Information" screen will show you that the 17:19 Tattenham Corner train is due to depart "on time" even though it's 17:23 by now- Iognore this and retrieve your ticket from your pocket and go through the Platform9 arch keeping to the left aiming for the left-most ticket barrier which will be almost free of congestion.
2) 17:24 Pass left along the platform, look up as you apporach the midway Platform "Information" monitor which will be either blank or showing a tiny unreadable security alert announcement. Keep walking. Keep walking until you're almost to the end of the covered section of the platform, when you get nearer, aim to stand squarely opposite the middle of the last filled in brick arch on the wall on the other side of the tracks. Do not be alarmed that all the other pro's are standing further up or further down the platform - there's a reason for this. Look back towards the midway "Info" display which should by now be showing some text that is unreadable from this distance but the yellow font destination is fairly long and one word - hopefully "Littlehampton". If there is still no sign of a train arriving, check one of the station's clocks - you have until 17:28 to make your final route choice. If it gets to 17:28 and there's still no sign of a train - advertised or in reality, then quickly head for the stairs in the middle of the platform and cross to Platform 8 to pick up the 17:30 Esat Grinstead service which will deposit you at East Croydon in plenty of time to catch the 17:54 Brighton service which started out being the 17:36 from Victoria (providing the staff have managed to coax the electronic doors into closing).
3) When the train arrives, stand your ground, close to the edge but keep an eye out for open train doors or psychopathic suicidals. Ideally the correct door will present itself to your outstretched hand and you can simply board the carriage and head directly for the end seat at the far end of the long bench, by the door, opposite the fire extinguisher. The reasons for this seat choice are too numerous for this forum - just trust me, a great deal of research has gone into this specific seat selection, encompassing : seasonal sunlight; likelyhood of being squashed by over large punters; amount of disturbance by exiting passengers and so on.... Sit and wait fro the train to leave - if everything's going to plan, this should be about 5 minutes, during which time the carriage will fill with all your favourite people with whom you share your daily rail travel joy.
4) The good news is that once the train arrives at East Croydon Platform 3, about one third of the inhabitants will exit, leaving the conditions slightly cramped rather than completely cattle trucking sardinian. This is no time to loose concentration though. Try and gather as many tiny peices of information as you can regarding the general south-bound train situation. Remember you are trying to select the first train to make it to Brighton 40 minutes into the future, all of which have started from different destinations at different times, at some point in your journey you will have to change trains onto one of these other "services" - unless you want to end up in Hove (or worse). Check the Platform 2 "Information" indicator for the lateness of the 17:54, listen to the squawking of the train dispatch crew's radio equipment - even consider the views of other passengers. Ignore all in-cariage announcements - these are only made to mislead you.
5) If you're feeling very experienced, you may now permit yourself 20 minutes sleep. Alternatively you should now have enough elbow room to read your book/newspaper/evening-standard while your journey continues in a vaguely southward direction. Don't panic when the train slows to a crawl just after the M25 crossing, this is just the approach to Horley where a surprising number of individuals will leave your congregation. After Horley it's should be straight through Gatwick, 3 Bridges and Balcombe and no stops till Haywards Heath. WAKE UP ! If you're sitting too long here, it's possible that you're being held waiting for a fast Brighton train behind you which will LEAVE BEFORE YOUR TRAIN. If you suspect this to be the case, leap up from your semi-slumber and cross to Platform 1 (remembering that Haywards Heath numbers it's platforms opposite to all other stations so P1 is the furthest left when your'e facing south (away from London, rather than toward).
6) In the unlikely event of all being well at this point, you should be on your way through Sussex stopping only at Buggers Hole and Has-Socks before diving into the mile long darkness of the Clayton Tunnel. On exiting the tunnel remain passive, those around you may start getting up and gathering their belongings - sit tight, it's still a fair way to go yet. Look to your right and after a short distance you'll be running parallel with the Brighton end of the A23, but not for long. Pass under a double road bridge and then quickly into a surprisingly long tunnel which will spit you out somewhere near Withdean Stadium on your left. Wait, Wait, Wait for it, wait for the train to pass under a small, low brick bridge before you start to get your shed together. Once you have your book/bag/jacket/rucksack all in order you should be passing the newly built sidings outside Preston Park station on your left. By the time you get to the end of these, it's almost time to get off (unless the information you gathered at point 4 above leads you to believe that all the Brighton trains behind you are irrevocably stuffed, in which case you need to decide NOW between going to sHove-l or walking home from Preston Park (30 mins)
7) Hopefully it's OK to get off at PP so go for it and head along the platform, diverting left away from the crowd and behind the little box that covers the stairway and on down toward the last "Preston Park" sign. At this point you can check the Public Information System (PIS) to get a rough idea of how long you're going to be stuck at "this godforsaken place" as I once heard it desciribed by an unfortunate who wanted to stop at Hassocks on a day when the driver didn't. Your train should now be leaving on it's way along the coast to Littlehampton via Lancing and Durrington (Front 4 coaches only due to short platforms at these stations). Check the signals at the end of the platform and the points a bit further on. After about 30 seconds proceeding the train's departure, the signal should change and the points swing right. This is your confirmation that the next train along the track is heading in your direction and not going to branch off towards the scary and pub-less region of hove.
8) Wait at the last station sign so you can still hear the next announcement - this is not to determine the lateness or destination of the next train (you've already done that), you are listening for the end of the automated voice where she says "this train is formed of ..... coaches". If she says 12 then head further down the platform and stand 6 feet before the big yellow blob with your feet either side of a wider-than-normal line of black sealant which is filling the gap between 2 of the nearby platform edge sections. If she says "8" then head back the way you came and don't stop till you get to the far end of the aforementioned stairway cover box thing.
9) Ideally it should now be 18:37 and a number 14 train should be approaching PP, stopping with the front most doors right by your hand so you can get on and stand in a peacful vestibule for the final 3 minutes of your train journey. N.B. this actually never happens, it's just a Nirvana thing. Instead, fight your way on to a train packed with hot angry Victoria commuters who have spent the last hour getting thouroughly sick of the rail operator, their jobs in the West End and each other (in that precise order). If possible stay on the East side of the train, else stand near the door on the far side. You can switch sides as you make your final approach to Brighton. You'll know which side's right by looking at the track - if you look west and can only see gravel in the immediate vacinity then you're coming into P5 so should be standing on the East side. If you can see tracks then you're heading for P6 so should be standing on the West side.
10) When the train stops at Brighton, listen for the piercing squeek-beep then hit the door-open button, evacuate the carriage and head for one of the left-most 2 ticket barriers. Once through, walk straight ahead keeping WHSmith close on your left but at the same time swerving to avoid those waiting for others and the Evening Argus man shouting bizarre local headlines. Head directly for the hidden left corner exit, and kink even more left round the cake shop towards the Taxi rank. Keep going straight on and round the left end of the pointless glass taxi/punter divider and carefully cross the taxi marshalling yard diagonally right to the pedestrian gate (the furthest left exit). You're now on Queens Rd Brighton and what you do from here on is entirely up to you.
this is what happens when you listen to 'just a minute' while drinking tequila
Perhaps the finest tequilas known to the drinking population of the western and of course the eastern world are those produced by the herradura company of Mexico,central America whose fine products include the ordinary yet delectable reposado, the rich, smooth and tantalisingly moreish anejo, and last but my no-ones' means the least achievement of this outsdanding distillery, the especial which tops the scale of the price list in addition to the quality awards of which it surely deserves more than any other since there can be no comparison when considering the relative virtues represented by intoxicating fluids of this nature now, in the history of embibing time and that of future drinkers from here to the end of knowable space and time, not including those moments of extrmeme lucidity which don't count anyway cos you can never quite retrieve them from the confines of your hazey recollections which are the direct result of the initial consumption of said spiritus liquers....you know I've smoked alot of grass...Oh lord I've popped alot of pills....But I never touched nothing that my spirit it could kill...