The one on the right, is my wife Rita, gorgeous and glamorous, fit as a butchers dog, and still my best (and only) friend after 20 years married.
Here's a picture of my kids, and no they didn't get their good looks from their mum...
seems such a long time ago now...
what's this, more professional photos?
was the best cat in the world...
I was first licence in 1982, after studying at South East Derbyshire College of Further Educations, in Heanor Derbyshire, attending a weekly evening class and being instructed by such local notaries as Bill G8RZM (I know EXACTLY where you are)....Luckily as it happened I managed to be one of the first to take the new RAE, in a multiple choice format, it was still 2 papers 1.5hrs each though.
I remember a few of my rigs at the time, a Belcom Liner 2 for 2m SSB, can't quite remember what I had for FM, later on I bought a Yaesu FT-290 obviously Mk1, and used a Shakespeare white stick collinear outdoors at about 10ft and a horizontal coax dipole indoors.
I moved from then Selston to Eastwood for a short while, and during that time bought an Icom IC-251E, 17el Tonna and a small rotator and pole, which I installed in my father in-laws garage, moving swiftly to Brinsley I erected the pole et al onto the chimney while the council conveniently had scaffolding up to repair the roof...
I suppose I should have checked the condition of the chimney as some time later in very heavy winds, it all came down on the back garden, chimney and everything ...ouch.
After that (and with new aerials) I mounted the pole to the wall and operated much lower down... It was during the late 80's that the packet revolution happened and I got caught up in it, even setting up GB7MUM at my works QTH as a packet repeater & BBS. Tiring of packet as most people did, and a divorce I packed up radio for good....
Until now! Blame that Rob fellow G4ROB, I became interested again last year just before my birthday (May in case your wondering) and am especially interested in computers & Radio combined, and my first purchase was a Yaesu FT-767 fully loaded from Ebay.... collecting a couple of collinear aerials from Anchor Supplies, eventually persuading the XYL to allow me to put an external aerial on the chimney (NO not a beam) and as she worked from home such a lot, I built her an office in the spare bedroom, and added my shack in there as well...
Just before christmas I sold the Yaesu FT-767 and purchased a Icom IC-706 MKIIG as although the 767 had a CAT port, it didn't work with Ham Radio Deluxe, but was ok with Easypal (and previously Hampal). The 706 was a bargain, boxed and almost new with PSU etc
Recently due to my step daughters emigration to VK land, we acquired yet another spare bedroom, so moved upstairs from the extension to the Ozzies bedroom (fumigating and decorating obviously) and also moved the office lock stock and barrel downstairs into the extension..
Still using the IC-706 and active on Easypal, I found that I needed a dedicated HF rig, as I couldn't listen and take part in the local rag chews and monitor HF, so looked around for something. Luckily I saw an advert on Ebay for an Icom IC-756 from W&S, slight problem with the screen (haven't they all) but dead cheap, so that is now residing on my desk... and the screen problem has cleared up too!!! bonus.
Any way, I've listed the shack equipment below, subject to change of course, the IT stuff being important as my wife used to work from home, and needed the facilities such as Exchange email, remote desktop etc
Ah well all change yet again, after Xmas 2009 I swapped my Icom IC756 Pro II, speaker & mic for a Flex-Radio Flex-3000 SDR rig, so now my two hobbies are totally intertwined.
And changes yet again, in 2019 a revamp of the shack, now a Yaesu FT-991 and FlexRadio 6300.
I bought my yellow Honda Firestorm (1) in 98, and I really loved the bike, fantastic punch out of bends, easy to get on with, quite comfortable and in typical Honda fashion extremely reliable and rot free
Honda VTR1000 Firestorm
Time for a change
Then came the CMC open weekend, so taking advantage of the circumstances, I tried several Yamaha’s, from the giggly Drag Queen (sorry Star) to the FJR1300…. That evening getting back onto my trusty Firestorm I noticed how uncomfortable I felt, leaning forward and high knees. I realised that all the bikes I tried had high bars and low pegs and I felt very much at home on them…
A Triumph of engineering?
From that moment I looked around to replace the banana with a sit up and beg type, finding one in May last year at Big Rock (RIP) in Stapleford, a Triumph Legend (2) at a knock down ‘managers special’ (Hah!) price, after some bartering with a bearded tee shirt and leather waistcoat chap we struck a deal costing me little enough to get it by my financial advisor, immediate supervisor & pillion pal without too much complaint.
Triumph TT Legend
The Triumph was a revelation in comfort around town especially, I could actually touch the floor with both heels never mind toes, excellent steering lock and growling Hinckley triple… didn't take me long to drill out the baffles either.
All was not well after the initial ecstasy, semi-cruiser meant no fairing, no fairing meant huge wind blast, and ‘only’ 70bhp meant two up required more thought when overtaking or stopping. But I managed to get quite a few miles ridden in between work, holidays, wet weekends and ‘enforced’ diy tasks
February 2003 MCN dropped through my letter box as it does every week, Riossi ever keen to dispose of excess stocks, were advertising an Aprilia RST1000 Futura, ex-demo for £4899, “Ooh a V twin again, loads more power and a fairing, never mind the huge seat and sports tourer comfort… got to get me one of those…”
“Hello, I’m interested in the Futura you are advertising”, “sorry they have all gone, have you considered a new one” said the young yorkshire lad, “Not a chance they are far too expensive”, “How about an extra £100” he said…
After I picked myself off the floor and scrambled to get my credit card out of my wallet (which had been super glued in by my financial advisor), I ordered a silver Futura (3) with Datatool System 3 alarm for just over 5 grand…
Aprilia Futura RS1000
The ‘Robocop’ (3) bike, as my bankruptcy advisor calls it, came a week later complete with YN03 plates…
“Oh No”, it’s got to sit on my patio for two more weeks till March, as the Trumpet (2) still has occupancy of my purpose built bike garage (shed) till warmer weather comes along and I can sell it privately.
March comes, and before March came a Scottoiler and a set of non-colour matching Aprilia panniers, being a bit of a bargain hunter I saw these advertised new in Dark Blue for half the price they should be. A trip to Halfords for some silver spray paint will do nicely thank you.
Sorry mate I didna see ya
Just three weeks later, getting used to the power and comfort of a big twin again, I can only get 1 set of toes down at a time - the Futura is a tall bike, and I gradually forget everything I have learned, especially hazard awareness and management.
Yup you guessed it, in common with the majority of bike accidents involving a car, a dozy, blind Fiesta driving grey haired (hmm I’m grey haired) man decides nothing is coming so turns right out of a side road, just when I’m 20 metres away.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, no moving to other side of road, no drastic slowing down, no horn, just “Oh Shiiiiit!” crash, wheee, and bump.
I steered to avoid the unavoidable, pulled on the excellent Brembos with a vice like grip (which still is in physiotherapy) and laid a darky right up to his off-side wheel arch, where I parked the bike and did the ‘superman’ over his bonnet (Mr Laughton – you would have been proud) and went to test my CE armour up the road.
Aprilia Futura 1000
The white van man
By some kind of divine intervention I was almost totally unhurt, I got up and remembered to get off the road quick, and walked some distance back to the scene of the crash.
The Futura (ex 3) was still parked where I left it. “You came out of nowhere” he says, which is a variation of the “I didn’t see you mate” sentence often spoken in these situations… details swapped, we then attempted to move the now 6 wheeler off the road.
I would like to thank the anonymous van driver who pulled up, and helped me push the remains of the Futura (ex 3) into his Van and took both of us home, just ½ a mile up the road!
The scrappers came to collect the Futura (ex 3) since the vehicle engineer / examiner / loss adjuster decided, a hexagonal front wheel, one bent fork, one lock stop and most of the plastics constitutes a financial write off!. Back on the Legend (2) again.
It can’t go on, once I have decided to get a new bike even my commercial associate cannot dissuade me, and it’s bike-hunting season again.
“Hmm”, me thinks, “It’s my birthday in May, so what can I get myself from everyone?”
“Something with ABS!!!!” so it’s off to Pidcocks, the ever favourite and recent award winner in Rider Power… several visits later and glum returns back home, I cannot decide which BMW to get, shall it be the K1200 with ABS, the R1100S with ABS or the R1150RT with ABS….
“How much!” she cried, I decide not to buy a BMW
So it’s off to Pidcocks the ever favourite etc etc. This time I get a great deal on a VFR800 V4 Vtec with ABS (4) and £1000 more than I paid for it for the Legend (2) in part exchange.
Two weeks on, I have installed the Scottoiler, fitted an alarm (more later), heated over grips and waited for the rains to stop…
Still waiting for the insurers to pay up for the Futura (3), the rain to stop and my appointment for its first service, and while I am waiting for the rain to stop I re-read my “Pass your Advanced Motorcycle Test” book, so I don’t have to test the effectiveness of ABS.
The Alarm!, my insurance company demanded I have a class 1 alarm fitted before they would insure me, so I tried to book an appointment for one to be fitted, being this time of year, I would have had to wait several weeks, so I looked for an alternative.
Sola-Larm, who are famous for low cost budget self install alarms also have a Thatcham approved Insurance class one professional fit alarm, the SLA-835T, and if you are a qualified electrical/automotive engineer they will sell you one for £105 including VAT and carriage, (many years ago I was a vehicle electrician for a Ford dealership), so I qualified – just.
The alarm was straightforward to fit, instructions are well written, it’s just up to you to find the appropriate circuits to immobilise, and nice Honda people give you a wiring diagram in the manual so the VFR was almost a doddle.
Budget on a few more quid for heat shrink sleeving, soldering iron and solder, black pvc tape and cable ties, and about 3-5 undisturbed hours.
4 bikes in one year broke but still married….
My thanks to Rita my wife, companion and best friend, especially for not banning me from having a new bike.
My pride and joy, slow yes, but very well made, reliable, quiet (not!), comfortable and if a Fiesta dare to get in the way, I know which will come off worst...
Harley Davidson Dyna Superglide 1450
Oh well..... sold the Harley to pay for building work in Bulgaria.. bugger!
I work as the IT manager for an automotive repair company, ECUTesting Ltd, where we repair vehicle electronic systems, ECU, ABS, Body control modules etc, looking after a web farm, data centre, 50+ staff and 200 odd machines, before this I worked as an IT Manager for a Nottingham based new media company MEDIAmaker Limited , looking after the internal IT estate and also three data centres around the country, with 20 web farms & sql servers to keep running, their ages range from 8 years old to 1 month.
We design cms driven web sites & ecommerce services for large clients such as Ace European Ltd, Boots, Eveden etc.
Our events and conferencing division also plan, organise and manage very large corporate conferences, some for over 3000 delegates, for clients such as Rolls Royce, Saint Gobain, Alliance Boots & Coors.
I qualified as an electrical engineer with the National Coal Board in the early 80's before taking an interest in computers, once using a Dragon 32 as a video source for Amateur fast scan TV on 70cms, using a birkitt kit transmitter, I tried my hand at programming, initially graphics packages and afterwards commercial library systems.
I later served my time as a computer hardware engineer, installing Novell and later Microsoft networks, and worked my way up to the Technical Director of Prima IT Solution Ltd and then NH North Ltd, an international training company with offices in Nottingham, Manchester, Leeds & Newcastle... that is until it went bust...
My latest hobby, but something I have grown up with. From my first Relum Tele 2 when I was 13 I think, and in my 20's I had an ASI Jackal High Power, then out of my mum's catalogue (remember them?) I bought a Webley Vulcan.
And in the 90's I got into handguns, shooting air pistol to a reasonable level at LNER club in Clay Cross, I then got my FAC and shot competitely a Britarms .22lr semi auto pistol, a Pardini 32 S&W semi auto pistol, and a Smith & Wesson 686 Target Champion in .357 Magnum.
96 came and after Dunblaine, we lost our handguns, so I switched for a few years to shotguns, I couldn't hit a thing, no good at moving targets!
I have no idea either what happened to the Relum and Vulcan, probably swapped them for something, but later on in early 2000's I bought my first pre-charged air rifle, a Daystate LR90 and a stirrup pump (phew!), then in 2014 I bought a target rifle, a SMK Match which was Co2 powered, and looked the part with its dioptre sights from CZ.
Late last year I got the bug again, and after selling the majority of my older ham radio gear I bought a superb Air Arms FTP900, complete with everything, bottle, case etc. Fabulous!
Fitted with a Rowan fully adjustable hamster mechanism, a Rowan scope riser and Falcon T50 FT scope at 10-50 x 60 its a BIG thing indeed.
Added to the FTP was briefly a BSA GoldStar SE with MTC Connect scope for HFT, but I changed that rather quickly for an Air Arms Ultimate Sporter, with Hawke Airmax 8-32x50 scope and modified sidewheel so I can get to the magazine...
My latest is the baby of the Air Arms camp, a MPR FT, just back from the famous tuners "Tench" and shoots a dream especially with the MTC Connect scope, my goto HFT rig.
I have added a stock extension by Rob Taylor, and a Hamster from the same chap, and also changed the scope to a Nikko Sterling 10-50x60 "Big Nikko".
The Air Arms Ultimate Sporter in .177 with Hawke Scope
A montage of a few of the guns, you will see the Air Arms FTP900 has been replaced by a Daystate Griffin in .177, beautiful gun that.
This is the Australian (haha) FX Royale 400 again in .177 with Nikko Sterling scope, recently replaced with a Discovery 4-18x44 first focal plane scope.