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Since my series of blogs on the ineptitude of Reeds Rains Property Management I have still had dealings with them.

Yes, I did bin off their fully managed service, but then they offered to handle the contract renewal for £32. Well, in my book that is too good an offer to pass up.
I do appreciate that all they are really doing is changing the dates on the previous contract, but hey tis a nice easy option. Maybe I have found the long sought after “hassle free” service that Reeds Rains Property Management refer to. 🙂

Anyway, earlier this year I had a letter from the same person who has been my point of contact through all of my dealings.
The letter stated that the my tenants had been in contact stating that they have the following issue…
There was no issue stated. It would seem that said person, who had signed the letter, had generated a template letter without filling out the relevant part, signed it, then sent it to me.
On ringing the person, they denied it and asked that I send the letter so they could investigate.
Did I mention the letter was signed in Biro, so they must have known they sent it?
Oh yeah, and remember that they are no longer managing the property, and on chatting to my tenants they confirmed that they had not even rung Reeds Rains Property Management, and had no problems.

Last month the tenancy was renewed for another six months. As usual my tenants paid in advance.
The Reeds Rains Property Management contact called to confirm that the money had been transferred into my account, direct from the tenants I hasten to add, as those who have read what had happened in the past will know that the only people who hold on to the rent and pay it late are in fact Reeds Rains Property Management.

A couple of weeks later I was sent the new contract with a covering letter.
Yet again, it was a template that had not been amended, or even checked, before sending.
In this instance, it informed me that a Banker’s Draft was enclosed!

So, even though I now employ Reeds Rains Property Management’s services for the barest mininum, they still manage to consistently make mistakes.
What really annoys me is that there is no call for the mistakes. I would not have thought it was too much for a large Estate Agents to manage to to undertake the simplest of tasks, like generating and sending a letter, without to much trouble.
It would appear that the one thing that Reeds Rains Property Management excels at is failing in the most simplistic of tasks.

As said before, and evidenced by the comments my blogs have received, you could well be making a mistake in employing the services of Reeds Rains Property Management.

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Riding like Neo

matrixWhat has the Matrix’s Neo and IPSGA got in common?
They both help you filter through all the rubbish and see what is really there.

One of the big things , for me, to come out of undertaking the IAM Skills for Life Package is a much calmer and focused ride.
Before, it was very much nip ‘n’ zip all over the place. The engine and gearbox probably suffered as I accelerated/decelerated hard.
I only ever looked ahead a car or two in front of me.
Everything seemed very “busy” and my ride was very much reactionary. There was no real plan, except to get to my destination, and everyone else was in my way.
Well that is a slight exaggeration, but somewhat accurate.

I then got introduced to IPSGA. This is a system that can be applied to riding (and driving) that provides you with a framework. It is not so much a set of rules, as a set of guidelines.
Using this framework I started to take a much more structured approach to my riding.
With practice I soon learnt how to process large amounts of information without much thought. I could look down a road, and behind and to the sides, and intuitively see pointers that helped me to ascertain what was happening around me, and what was up ahead.

So, take up advanced riding, and you too can get to read the road like Neo sat there starting at green ASCII characters streaming down the screen.
It may all seem like a mass of meaningless data, but you will learn to pick out all the salient parts to build up a picture leading to a smoother, safer and less “busy” ride.

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IAM LogoIt has been 2 years since I passed my Institute of Advanced Motorcyclists test, having brought their Skills for Life Package.
I am still a fully paid up member of both the IAM and my local group, called Solent Advanced Motorcyclists (SAM).

I guess I soon realised that the natural progression was to take my Observer’s advice and become an Observer my self.

I regularly attend SAM Sundays, where both members and the public are invited to turn up and get taken out for an observed ride.
The main reason I go is that they do a great egg, bacon and black pudding roll, and a cup of coffee, all at a very reasonable price.
I suppose that once I have qualified as an Observer, I will doing observed rides, rather than sitting about munching yummy butties.
I also attend many of the events when we go out with our Mobile Display Unit, to chat to the public. I enjoy being there as someone who is not what could be considered as your typical IAM “pipe and slipper” rider.
Oddly, it seems to exclude me from publicity shots, but who cares? At the end of the day, I just want to pass on what I have learnt to make my rider safer and more fun to a wider audience.
Generally it seems to be working, as we are getting more and more younger riders joining up and more and more riders who already put many miles a year on their bike(s).
It also helps that Road Safety Partnerships are running schemes to encourage people to sign up.
Portsmouth City Council ran one recently, where they were subsidising the cost of The Skills for Life Package, and membership of your local IAM group, leaving the payable amount as about £63. A saving of just over £100.

Each local IAM group will have its own rules to becoming an Observer.
In the case of SAM, you are supposed to have been a full member for a set time, undertaken their “Advanced Plus” course, accumulated 10 hours working with a Senior Observer, with your own Associate, and undertaken a one and a half hour check ride, with a Senior Observer. Finally, there is two multliple choice papers covering the Highway Code, Road Signs, and Roadcraft, with a total of around 160 questions.

So, why would anyone want to do it? Why am I doing it?
Since I went through the course, my ride has become a lot less “hurried”, the whole thing just seems a lot smoother and calmer.
In a way, I can compare it to Neo in the Matrix. You see everything in a slightly different way and almost react to things before they have even happened.
If I could just pass on some of that feeling or experience then I would be a happy person.
Of course, it also means that I get to ride out quite often, and the Associate is expected to make a contribution to your costs.
Under 40 miles is £10, and over is $15. It is not a great deal of money, and does not cover your running costs but does help cover petrol.
All in all, it is a great feeling, and you get a lot of satisfaction.

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0_2917When someone mentions the Royal British Legion, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
Would it be short, slightly stooped gentlemen of greying years sitting quietly in the corner of the pub, or their own local Legion Branch, supping pale ale and reminiscing about years past?

I would not be surprised, as this is a common misconception about The Royal British Legion.
If you want to know more about The Royal British Legion and what it does, in general, please take a look at their site as this is not what I wanted to blog about.

Oh, and if you do come across a slightly stooped gentlemen of greying years, who may well be supping pale ale or he may be collecting for The Poppy Appeal. Whatever you do, take time to stop and have a chat, you will be entertained for hours, and of course do not forget all the others who served for our country including recent conflicts.

We as bikers have always been very good at coming up with, or taking part in events that raise funds for those less lucky than us, probably the most common being toy runs.
Have you ever thought of joining together with a group of like-minded bikers whose primary aim is to collect money for The Poppy Appeal?

The Royal British Legion Riders are a diverse bunch of people, made up of serving and ex-military as well as a large number of “civilians”. Yes, you do not have to have been ex-military to join The Royal British Legion!
The RBLR is a branch of The Royal British Legion, but we are a national branch. This means we do not have a fixed location where you can get cheap beer, and meet up with the slightly stooped…… However, for an extra few quid you can usually get affiliated membership of your local RBL Branch and get access to said gentleman.

We, the RBLR, have a very full diary of events, all of which involve motorbikes in some way or another, and promote both The Legion and try and raise money for the Poppy Appeal. We run and attend a number of rallies, and also have our own, including a National Rally.
You could raise sponsorship money and try and complete 1000miles in 24hours. You get a certificate and a badge, but that is nothing compared to the satisfaction of completing The RBLR1000
Please note, you do not have to be a member to enter the RBLR1000.

You could just attend a village fete to show your bike and raise awareness of The Legion. You could even let kids sit on your pride and joy for a small donation.
Some of the events are organised at a national level, but most are organised within your region.

We also have a very active forum, which is for members only, allowing you to chat general boll “rubbish”, and get access to a vast array of skilled and knowledgeable people.
Our website does not quite get across the dynamic and comaredrie of The Royal British Legion Riders Branch.

So, if you fancy helping us to beat the £139,529.40 we raised for The Poppy Appeal last year why not join us?
How much will this cost? A mere £18!!

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Sun RiseI think I may be getting even more grumpy in my old age. Christmas used to be great fun, there was the excitement of the run up to it, the giving and receiving of presents. It then got taken over as a marketing extravaganza, with the whole concept being rammed down your throat as soon as the Halloween costumes had been removed from the shelves. Saying that, I am sure some of the larger stores had started the “Christmas Extravaganza” whilst the Halloween stuff was still on the shelves.

Now I find the phrase “Happy New Year” is starting to get on my nerves. Again, it used to be fun in the past. I used to arrange to meet up with friends and then either go out or stay in for food and drink.
I think I have become more cynical. This year will still be the same year, but just with another name. Will it be happy?
The year has nothing to do with it. It will not bring with it all things wonderful, happiness and riches.
It is YOU that will make a difference to this year! It is you that will make this a “Happy New Year”. You are your own destiny.

Oh yeah, and sod “New Year’s Resolutions”. There is something else that is a load of rubbish, making promises to yourself that you are unlikely to ever implement/keep.
Why not create a “2013 Bucket List”? Write down a list of things that you would like to do this year, and make them realistic.
It could be something really simple like try and see something everyday that makes you smile, and be aware that you are smiling. Or, experience something you would never have dreamed of trying, like a parachute jump 🙂

Anyways, enough of the rant.

I hope you liked the photo that I took this morning.
I nipped out to the garage to get the motorbike out, ready for the first commute of the year, and I saw this sunrise.
It made me stop in my tracks. It made me wonder at the beauty of nature. It made me smile.
One of the things that is on my yearly “Bucket List” is to make sure I take time to step outside of my own little world and enjoy the “Real World”.

I hope this is a a good year for you, and that you realise some of your dreams.

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Biker Down

Have you ever wondered what you would do if you were out riding and came across a biker in a hedge, or even one of your own mates goes adrift? How would you control the scene? What should you do about evidence? How could you help the biker? Should you take their helmet off? How would you go about taking a helmet off?
These are all questions that were addressed when I attended the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership’s Biker Down course

This is the sort of course that I have always wanted to go on. I have done the St. John’s Ambulance Emergency First Aid at Work course, but I wanted an insight on how to handle a road traffic accident.
To be honest, the main thing I wanted to get out of it was how to remove a helmet.

The first part of the course dealt with what to do when you are first on the scene.

  • Take a deep breath to calm yourself, to help the initial adrenaline rush abait.
  • Always make sure YOU are safe, do not become another casualty.
  • Warn other approaching road users.  Face your bike towards on coming traffic with the light on.
  • Preserve the evidence.  Only move stuff if you absolutely have to, and photograph it first.
  • Are the rear foot pegs down?  Was there a pillion?
  • Prioritise who needs help the most.

The second part looks at trying to save a life, using first aid.
The primary tasks here are to assess injuries, call for help and get the person stable. The order of the latter two will depend on circumstances, however the sooner you can get the professionals there the better. They have better skills, and much better kit.

  • Speak to the person, to find out if they are concious.
  • Make sure the person is breathing.
  • Have a quick “feel” over the whole body for any other injuries.
  • When you think you have enough information, call for help giving as much info as you can
  • If they are not breathing start CPR.
  • Only remove the helmet of absolutely necessary, and preferably only if you know how to.

At the end of the day, the plan is to keep the person alive. Nobody will sue you if your actions are based on the belief that you were doing them to save a persons life. It maybe better to be paralysed than dead. It is not for you to second guess the outcome.

The last part of the course touched on ‘The Science of Being Seen’.
Not only does this include the wearing of Hi-Vis but also how you appear on the road.
You could have a lime green bike! Yeah right, like that is going to happen.
Watch out how you position yourself

I have only touched on the points covered in the course, and the above barely scratches the surface. I just hope it is enough to raise your interest.
The only way to truly understand the above points is to go on the course. A number of counties offer something similar to that offered by the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership

Not only is the Biker Down course free, but we also got a Hi-Vis waistcoat (just hide it under your seat for when you are at the scene of an accident, or to keep the Frenchies happy if you go over there) and a well stocked first aid kit.

I can not thank the members of the Sussex Police and Fire Brigade enough for their time.
I got a lot out of the course, and I am sure you would too.

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I have a very weak prescription, and most of the time I do not need to wear my glasses. The only time that it becomes a help is when riding/driving in the dark.
It may be an age thing, but I find that lights tend to halo and objects become less defined in the dark. I am told that this is because I now have difficulty in seeing contrasts, and so distinct shades of grey/black tend to blur.
So during daylight the “big blobs” in front of me tend to be cars, where as at night they all blend in to the road, that blends in to everything else. I am of course exaggerating, but the principle is accurate.
Wearing glasses tends to makes things noticeably more distinct and lights tend to halo less. Mind you, if you add rain in to the mix then all bets are off again 😉

So, logically it is during the Winter that I use my glasses the most. Needless to say this is the time of year when it is the coldest.
I like riding around with my visor open. This is not a problem so long as it is not raining, and I don’t stop.
If I stop any warmth from my face, or breath, will cause my glasses to steam up.
If it has been raining and my visor is down, or even slightly open, as soon as I stop my glasses will steam up.
Some times conditions can be perfect, but one wrong breath and my glasses steam up.
I can be sitting at traffic lights and the fog spreads over my glasses. There is no point doing anything about it as there is not really anything that can be done.
I know that within 20 foot of pulling off the breeze will defog them. But, this is not really a good idea because you can not undertake a proper check before pulling off, and you are effectively blind for the first few feet.

This year I decided to try the move to contact lenses in the hope that this would resolve the issue.
I am currently under going a 14 day trial, so once that is finished and I am happy I have made a decision, I will write an update on the findings.
I will say that there are definitely pros and cons, but on balance I think it is going good, but can I stick with it??

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Grip Puppies

One of the things that I noticed about the new bike (R1200 GSA) was that the grips seemed really skinny. I don’t think I have really massive hands, but they really did just seem small.
Generally, I do not get the feeling of leaning on the handlebars, but with the small/thin grips I was beginning to feel the pressure on my hands. They almost seemed to be cutting into my palms.

I could not swap them out, because they are heated. In fact they seem thinner than aftermarket heated grips, like Oxford Hot Grips.

After having a good look around, I came across Grip Puppies. What a revelation.

Installing the grips really is as easy as just soaping up your hands and getting the grips soapy. I used Pears soap, so nothing really special.
On the GS, I just removed the bolts on the end of the handlebars, moved the hand guards out of the way, and then slipped the Grip Puppies on. Finally, I put the bolt back in place.
The grips did not require trimming down to size, and the fitted picture is a pretty accurate representation of the fit on the GS.

The heat from the heated grips still gets through without issue. In fact, the spongyness of the grips means that they feel a bit warmer anyway.
The spongyness also minimises the amount of vibration, as well as providing a medium to do exercises against. Just squeeze, hold, and then relax. Repeat until your forearms hurt :).

Mine were a pressy for my 50th, but you can get them on ebay, and at just under £16 delivered has to be one of the most cost effective mods I have ever installed.

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ST 1100It is with some sadness that I said goodbye to the ST1100 (The Pan) last Saturday.
The bike was perfect as a commuter. Yes it is heavy, but as soon as it gets moving it really is quite nimble. At no time did I feel the weight would get the better of me.
It also offers some good protection from the elements, especially with the tall MRA screen.
The bike also generates a lot of heat. This is great in the Winter, when it helps warm the cockles, but in the Summer you really begin to feel it when riding slowly on hot days.

I only ever really did one “long” trip, and that was from Portsmouth to Birmingham, and it was a no hassle ride. I had previously added some 30mm bar-risers, which alleviated the weight I was “forced” to put on my wrists.
In fact it was maybe a little too easy, as there were moments when I could not help but feel a bit bored. Of course this could have been alleviated if I had got off of the motorways/dual-carriageways and stuck to the smaller roads.

Anyways, the bike now lives in Birmingham, with a great new owner.
I am £1600 better off, which is helping to pay for the BMW R1200 GSA

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For many years I have had a hankering to get one of the big BMW traillie bikes, but have never been able to justify the cost. I did also have some worries about not only being being branded as a “BMW Owner” and the associated prejudices, but also as a Charlie Boorman wannabe.
Over the past year I have put very few miles on the Hardley, mainly because of the weather, so it has just been sitting in the garage.
I have also been getting a little tired of the Pan. Don’t get me wrong, it is a great commuter and is very nippy but it is not really I bike that you take out for a weekend blat. What I really want is a good all rounder.
I started thinking of bikes that could offer me the power delivery of the Vrod, the commuting qualities of the Pan, yet still offer the ability to chew miles and have fun doing it.
I also missed the riding position of my old TDM850. So, I again started looking at big traillie bikes.
I did quite fancy the new Triumph Tiger Explorer. It has some great kit on it, including cruise control, but it just did not fit the bill.
I also contemplated the XT1200Z Super Ténéré, mainly cos it would be a great companion for my XT550, but again it just was not quite what I wanted.
More and more I came back to the BMW R1200 GSA. I had thought of the plain R1200 GS, but decided that I could not pass up on the 400 mile tank range of the Adventure. It means I will only have to fill up once a week 😀

I took the GSA for a test ride a couple of time, at Bahnstormer Alton. They were a amused when I pointed out that I had taken the demo bike green laning too 😀
Well, it would be rude not to, and that is what they are supposed to be able to do. Anyway, the lanes I used were bone dry so they got the bike back pretty much as clean as it was when I took it out.

Needless to say, I am selling both the Pan and the Hardley to pay for the GS. The Pan has already sold, on ebay, for £1600. The new owner is picking it up on Saturday, and I hope he realises what a bargain he has got.
I’m just waiting for a bit of sun to photograph the Hardley and then is going on ebay too. I am hoping to raise at least £8000 from the sale of that.

Once I have ridden the GSA for a while, I may blog on my feelings and how we are getting on.
To be honest, currently it is one of the best bikes that I have ever ridden. It effortlessly chews up the miles, being an easy ride yet does not leave you feeling bored. At the same time it is remarkably nimble and lovely and torquey.

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