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"To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower; Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour." William Blake

BMW Bike Service

June 19th, 2006 by sunflowers

After a weekend of starting my bike at the lights when it cut out and feeling it judder along even at high speeds I am going to ask Motoden, where I bought my bike, about either taking my bike back or paying for a bmw specialist service.

When I picked it up on Saturday I was told even though they didn’t have a manifold yet that it was running a lot better. I don’t think that turning the idle speed up to 3000 revs really counts. Also it appears to still have a loose steering nut as it is still thunking on the wheels bearings when I go over bumps.

Posted in Preparation | No Comments »

Wales, Wisdom and Women

June 18th, 2006 by sunflowers

This weekend I got my first taster of what it is going to be like travelling by bike. I rode up into Northern Wales and these are a few of the things that I learnt about bike riding.

Bugs: When I first got my bike helmet I was worried about any lack of visibility. By the time you have had your visor covered with green bug goo you realise that you can adapt to being able to see through the marks.

It was still a bit of a shock the first big bug that went pinging off my helmet. They can definitely make quite a thud.

I also wondered why they were just focusing on my helmet until I saw the bug remains over my jacket.

Which brings me to my second point about biking.

Gear: My bike gear has to be pretty much the most unattractive clothing that I own and I am not even much of a clothes horse. But I would say that my jacket and trousers go a long way towards making me look big and butch. Two looks that I have generally tried to steer away from.

Practicality of my biking gear: I am really going to have to look for something a bit better to wear. When it is hot I am sweltering and as soon as it cools down I am freezing cold. Having left in the middle of the day on Saturday all I took for under my jacket was a couple of tank tops which was complete impractical for riding around Wales in the drizzle yesterday.

Pace: I only did 500 miles over the two days but it felt like a lot more than you would do in a car over a similar distance. I think that my route is going to be about 15000 which means at 250 miles a day I will have to ride 60 days of my intended 210 days. Ok, that isn’t too bad. And this was UK riding so lots of little towns and a majority of the day spent getting out of London.

Women: Out of all the thirty to forty bikers that I passed riding around Wales or in the cafes/tourist attractions not one of them appeared to be a women rider. There were a couple of female pillions but none with their own bike. I do know that there are female riders as I have met a few but don’t really blame females for taking it up on account of the points above (c;

Conclusion: Even though I think that I managed to pick up my speed and even took my odometer up to 90 miles an hour on some of the motorways I am still way too slow on the bends and soon learnt to let any vehicle that had London flags or was an utility vehicle to pass me by.

Posted in General | 1 Comment »

The Kiwi tradition of no. 8 fencing wire and duck tape

June 17th, 2006 by sunflowers

Getting to the stage where I have ridden my bike bugger all in the last few months I am starting to get slightly nervous about my ridding ability before my trip. So I am going to go and pick up my bike from the dealership and put a bit of duck tap over the manifold and the worse case is that it stalls at all the lights but as I am planning to ride to Wales hopefully it won’t be the same as every two minutes in the city.

Actually after this week I would totally rather spend the weekend relaxing at home. But if I can’t get to Wales and back I am going to have a hard time getting across continents. See you when I get back and hopefully I will have some nice pictures to put up.

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Haphazard Housebreak-in in Holloway

June 16th, 2006 by sunflowers

I live in Holloway. Though when asked I usually say I live on Camden Road as Holloway in most people’s minds in the UK is synonymous with the women’s prison that is pretty much opposite the council estate I live on.

Yesterday I got home and someone had put a ladder up the front of the house and had obviously tried to climb in one of the upstairs windows. Luckily they hadn’t managed to get in. But it wasn’t a pleasant thing to contemplate. I wonder if things are getting worse in my area as one of my flatmates has been mugged three times in the last few months and the other one once about a year ago (though she said that she was too intoxicated to remember much about it).

Maybe it is a good thing that my bike seems to spent most of it’s time at the dealership rather than out front of my place. I phoned up dealership yesterday and they have had the manifold on order from three different BMW parts places but are still waiting for it to come in.

Posted in General | 1 Comment »

Barefoot and pregnant in Argentina

June 15th, 2006 by sunflowers

My friend Jon said that if I wrote every day that he would regularly check my blog. Speaking of which my friends are all pretty positive about my trip. Though they do think it is a slightly mapcap idea.

A couple of the funnier exchanges they have had are:-

S: You wouldn’t get me trying to cross two continents on a bike as reliable as yours!
J: She won’t be either. Maybe she could be the first person to push a motorcycle from Argentina to Alaska

I: You won’t finish your trip as you will end up barefoot and pregnant in Argentina.
K: Just make sure you keep your shoes on.

Bike still isn’t fixed. Apparently they are having difficulty (again) locating the parts so I have decided to skip my motorbike maintenance course today and go to my friend’s leaving drinks. Seven years ago we arrived in the UK from New Zealand and he is finally heading back down under.

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Brussels, Belgium and Beer

June 14th, 2006 by sunflowers

I used to do almost an excessive amount of traveling for work but about a year and half ago I got put in charge of our UK clients and haven’t been travelling too much since then. Even though for the most part I really enjoy travelling it was nice to be able to spend more time at home. Still it could have fed into the decision to take six months off and go travelling 😉

Euro Star
I have just started managing a project we are running with an economic consultancy firm for the European Commission. I was hoping to get some pictures of Brussels while I was there. But I worked most of the time I was there and the buildings that we were located in were pretty ugly. So I took a picture of the Euro Star instead. I remember when hearing about the Euro Star when I was in NZ I thought that it must be this pretty amazing train to be able to go under the English Channel. Turns out it is just a train and even though the tunnel is an amazing engineering feat it is just dark when you go through it.

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Still no Bike

June 12th, 2006 by sunflowers

No exciting biking tales to tell today as the Tractor is still at the dealership. Apparently they are waiting for the carburettor manifold to be sent from the BMW supplier that they use. It is a pity as I won’t have my bike at my motorcycle maintenance class again on Wednesday.

I did receive an email from the CEO of Chance UK saying that Chance UK had won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service as well as being voted the Islington Mayor’s Charity of the Year and the Mayor of Islington has agreed to officially see me off on my trip. Pretty cool! Still my grandmother in NZ who is a right royalist would be well chuffed if it had been the Queen seeing me off 😉

Posted in Childrens Charities | No Comments »

Pimp my Bike

June 11th, 2006 by sunflowers

Hank who saw my blog through the HU site kindly wrote and gave me a few handy hints about my bike. One of the things he mentioned is that if I am going to be travelling by myself it might be better for me to have aluminium panniers as otherwise I won’t be able to leave my bike alone without taking all my luggage with me. I had this idea that I would pretty much ride from b&b/hostel/campsite and so soft luggage would be ok. But as Hank mentioned at boarder crossing I will have to leave my bike. Plus there will be lots of times I would want to leave my bike alone. Particularly for using public conveniences!

Which brings up the whole getting the bike ready aspect of the trip. I am somehow hoping that when I go to the HU meet up in a couple weeks time that there will be lots of people who have already done this type of journey and will just tell me what I need to do.

I have updated my Preparation page to take into account Hank’s recommendations. I wish they had a programme ‘Pimp my bike’ that I could apply for.

ps. a few of my friends have in the past pointed me in the direction of Pimp my Snack www.pimpmysnack.com so in honour of my own pimping gesture I have just looked at it and now am hungry so heading to the shops. Oops better rename my entry to Pimp that Bike 😉

Posted in Preparation | 1 Comment »

Value of volunteering

June 10th, 2006 by sunflowers

Lying outside this morning trying to catch up on the work that I should have done yesterday, the doorbell rang and it was two women saying that they had been talking neighbours about the increased awareness of the effects of terrorism and asking me was I more scared now of it. To which I replied that I believed that the perception was a phenomenon of the media (and maybe door canvassers). She then said that Jesus gave her hope for the future and asked what gave me hope. Without any deep thought I said that my hope was in human nature and the conversation came to a quick close.

Lying back down in the back yard I thought about what does make me scared about living in London and it isn’t the possible threat of terrorism, it is the gap between the rich and the poor. I don’t have any idea of whether this is growing or not. But I do believe it contributes towards children in our society not seeing the opportunities available to them and can lead towards involvement in criminal activates.

One of the best things about our culture is the limited barriers there are to being able to achieve your goals. I am not saying that it is a classless culture but there is an ability to make your way in the world, so to speak.

That is one of the reasons why I think that an organisation like Chance UK is so important. One of it’s primary goals is to build the self esteem of children that might otherwise end up on the streets. They target children between 5-10 before they are teenagers and too caught up in peer pressure to change.

Unless a child is exposed to a different way of life it is hard for them to understand that they can achieve it. When I was about 14 in the Bay of Islands my best friend dropped out of school at 15 to work in a factory in Auckland and we lost touch. I caught up with her after I finished university and found out that she had ended up falling pregnant to her cousin who had already had a child to her other cousin. He also beat her up while she was pregnant when he thought that it wasn’t his. From being pretty much the same our lives had gone in totally different directions. Someone who I told her story too said that she should have known that she didn’t have to be treated like that. But if that is the way of life around you – do you really know that? I tried to compare it to the lives of the celebrities we read about and I never think my life could never be like that. So maybe she has the same limited perceptions.

Cool frog blanket from GlastonburyAnyways – back on my blanket outside I overheard the women talking to one of my council estate neighbours and it was brilliant. When asked about terrorism he said that it had re-emerged and in his time it was the IRA and apparently they had bombed Tottenham Court Road Station in the thirties (I have always wondered why the US/UK can use an act of terrorism to bomb the middle east whereas to my knowledge nobody has bombed Ireland – maybe because the IRA is apparently mostly funded out of the US (c;)

When the older gentleman was asked ‘if most people want peace why do you think that there is still war’ he promptly replied ‘religion’ citing the Protestants against the Catholics. I don’t think that the conversation lasted much longer.

Better phone up Motoden to find out if my bike is fixed. Toodle pip.

Posted in Childrens Charities | No Comments »

Movie Mogul

June 9th, 2006 by sunflowers

1. In folklore, the magical ability to assume the form and characteristics of a wolf.
2. A delusion that one has become or assumed the characteristics of a wolf or other animal.

The lead singer in the band I was managing www.musicrollexchange.com has one of the lead parts in a movie called Lycanthropy, that has just finished being filmed by a Birmingham film production company, and the Executive Producer David has kindly offered to sponsor me on half as much as my return if I invest. Which is pretty much like saving isn’t it? Well, more like betting on saving. But hey, betting is all part of my trip.

PLUS … he has promised I can have a little bit part (maybe a ride by part) in one of their next movies as unfortunately I invested too late to be in this one.

You can check out the trailer here Lycanthropy

A movie with hot chicks set in the underworld of drugging and clubbing with a bit of the supernatural mixed in and delivered with a Brummie accent. How can it lose!

Posted in General | No Comments »

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