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Derek Mansfield
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There is always the next horizon. Don't take life to seriously, you'll never get out alive
There is always the next horizon. Don't take life to seriously, you'll never get out alive

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"Do you really want to hurt yourself for a question of principle?"
In an article in the Moscow Times, Roman Andreyeshev, deputy head of the faculty of projects and programs management on international issues at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (‘phew) said “In light of Europe's heavy reliance on Russia for energy the imposition of EU sanctions on Russia's energy sector is not a rhetorical question but a question of logic. Do you really want to hurt yourself for a question of principle?"
God’s teeth!
Surely every agreement signed by and between Governments is subject to principles.
Russia, the US and the UK signed a Principled Agreement to jointly protect Ukraine’s borders in exchange for Ukraine destroying it’s nuclear weapons.
The destruction of same allowed Russia, who retained nuclear weapons, to act with impunity when they annexed Crimea.
On points of principle most people at least are prepared to accept hardship of some kind.
With exception of course, of pusillanimous Politicians into the ears of whom Banks, Financiers and Multinational Corporations wetly dribble self-serving diarrhoea.
“The Armed Forces” said one of these elitists to me recently “are there to serve the Government, not to fight on principles”. Unless presumably, it is small Arab nation with lots of oil. And the need to hide cash in UK banks.
Aggression between Nation states will not stop until Politicians recognize and acknowledge that the Citizenry, generally speaking, are principled and do actually think principle is worth more than three degrees less of temperature controlled central heating.
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Joseph and The Bird -- How Will I Know?
Simply amazing. And just happens to be my niece.. hugely proud
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I finished last night, with no small emotion, the story of an ordinary guy and his partner who made an extra-ordinary journey across the world on a motorcycle. The guy was Bernard Smith, his partner Cathy Burchill; Cathy was blind. 
Beautifully written, impressively honest - I seemed to share their every moment; pain, fear, frustration, humour and sheer joy of the journey and their life. Riding through mountains, deserts, jungles; tussles with border guards, brothel keepers and bureaucracy all brought vividly to life. 
This is a seminal book on motorcycle travel; an unforgettable book that charts the complete and irreversible changes in people and their lives. 
I urge you to read it. Your life will never be the same again.

Search Amazon for Touching the World, Cathy Birchall and Bernard Smith
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The protest that started in Kiev and then swept the country is not about moving the country towards the West or the East. The East-West split is largely a Western media myth.
Many Ukrainians, tired of the corruption and corporate lawlessness, thought the EU could bring rule of law and stable democracy. This is why they favoured the EU; not because it was West or East.
Ukrainians have now learned that the politicians in the EU are also self-serving; so the violence escalated because the incumbent government, and the world, wasn’t listening.
Today, following much bloodshed and devastation, Ukrainians may just be at the beginning of reclaiming their country.
I sincerely hope so.
But the challenge will remain and I'm sure the Opposition will remain vigilant. President Yanukovich is not to be trusted and will still try to hold onto power. Once he loses, and without a deal from the Opposition, he will go to jail for corruption at least.
At this moment, considering the mayhem and murder, the Opposition will not want to give any undertaking to let him leave peacefully.
Meantime, in our Company, we had arranged for and encouraged for all but four key staff members to work from home. 
Yesterday afternoon, although our office is a mile (1.5km) from the Maidan, we thought it prudent to close early so that our remaining people could get home safely. At this moment we are working, very successfully, across the Net. 
My first responsibility has always been to the people in my employ. 
They, and I, appreciate the loyalty and patience of our clients: our clients have shown how companies and people work in other cultures; by their actions they too are helping democracy flower.
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Ultimate ear plugs for the long distance motorcyclist

 

On a clear, warm late September evening in 2013 I stood looking towards the secret darkness of the lake at the bottom of my garden.

Overhead, and despite the light pollution leaking up from nearby London Town, I saw the stars dancing on their journey through the Heavens.

Not the bright, overwhelming beauty of a deep Siberian night, but, to a traveller, nonetheless inspirational. “Where next in the World?” I dreamed.

The answer came in a sharp narrow noise, like chalk dragged across a schoolroom blackboard, distant but insistent.

I shook my head but the noise did not stop; it got no louder, but it would not go away. And I realised, as I stood staring up at the enormity of the stars, that after all the ignored warnings from folk much wiser than me that I finally had the beginnings of Tinnitus.

As any long distance motorcycle rider knows, eight to ten hours in the saddle for weeks at a time is not unusual; indeed it is great part of the pure joy of motorcycling.

In 2011 I crossed Turkey on my Victory Vegas on my way to Kurdistan, the border confluence of Iran, Iraq and Turkey. I rode dusty unmade roads for a couple of thousand miles as the Victory roared it’s challenge from shiny straight through pipes.

And because I could, I wore no helmet. T shirt, jeans, bandanna, sunshine and 1500cc of straight through power. Motorcycling Nirvana; in fact I didn’t wear my helmet again until a $20 traffic “fine” was extorted by a bent Croatian traffic cop when I re-entered the EU space on my return journey home.

I digress.

Tinnitus has no cure. It appears it is a reaction in the brain, not the ear, to continuous abusive noise.

And it will get worse if you continue to subject your ears to loud noise; the answer, apparently, is ear plugs.

A few days later, chatting to my great friend and mucker Keith, and in a simple ploy for me to gain enough courage to buy some ear plugs myself I suggested he should get some to prevent a future of noisesome nonsense.

And if he got some, then so would I.

We repaired to the Net for research and buying guides.

I had tried, in the past, to use foam ear plugs. But these you have to lick, chew and suck before screwing the masticated mess into the aural orifice. Something more techno was required.

And there, listed neatly on Google was the answer to an aurally challenged motorcyclist’s dream.

Ultimateear, as supplied to Charlie Boorman, rock bands and the Ministry of Defence.Enough!

With references and users like this the decision was made in moments.

As with most hand crafted-to-fit technology there is an acquisition process. In this case the internal ear must be inspected, measured and perfect moulds made. Only then could the finished product, in it’s personalised munificence, be created.

Now it just so happens that the smart people at Ultimateear have organised mouldmakers across the UK. So you can step through a chemist’s door, lay out twenty five smackers and they’ll fill your ears with goo, which, when dry, you can send to the factory by post.

Alternatively, if you go to Ultimateear HQ they’ll make the moulds for free.Free goo insertion at the office in Orpington was a 150km round trip away. Post or ride. Post or ride. Post or ride.  

There was never any doubt.

Now all of this was taking place a few weeks before Christmas; and out of the clear blue sky stepped a benefactor – Secret Santa.

My daughters had cooked up a bulk buying scheme. Instead of buying the usual small Christmas present for each adult in the family their proposal was to put all the “small present money” into one large amount with which one large present would be bought and given anonymously.

As there are six adults, for whom we would normally spend a tenner each on trash, a budget of £60 was fixed for each Giftor. The adult names were put in a hat and over the course of the next 2 or 3 days, as people arrived and left, they would extract their Giftees name.

Except. Two people got their own names, and I forgot the name I’d pulled out of the hat. Thus Plan B was initiated; a Secret Santa Centre was established. A friend was called in to send the name of the person for whom we were to buy the present by text, anonymously. We were free to buy anything we wanted that may or may not suit our Giftees taste.

But I am both demanding and a would be arbiter of taste. And I wanted ears; not the most usual of Christmas presents and hard to guess remotely.

Eventually, after much electronic correspondence with Elves at Secret Santa Centre it was agreed that my anonymous Giftor would contact Earplugs Inc and shell out the cash.

With everything, including financial services largely under control, Keith and I decided a midweek ride to Orpington under sunny December skies would be just the pre-Christmas tonic we needed.

And so it was… a blissful ride, albeit around the M25, filtering through the traffic and other such nonsense, but at least on two wheels with Rayban’s reflecting the winter sun.


To Orpington then, and the Aladdin’s cave of all things in ear defence.

Sitting at the table we listened awestruck to an Ultimateear technician as he walked us through the science of ear cleaning, excessive noise and ear defence techniques. Before our astonished eyes he laid out neat rows of vari and multi coloured ear plugs bejewelled with personal inscriptions, decibel deflecting filters, security cords to attach, in-line embellishments for direct connection to ipods, iphones, ipads, androids and quite possibly an orchestra in the Royal Albert Hall… little had been overlooked.

Eyes rolling, brain reeling, I gave over my deposit to guarantee my purchase. And then I said “Secret Santa will be paying the rest” The technician wrote “Secret Santa” on the form. “And what is his name” he asked “The eventual payer of your purchase?”. “I don’t know”, I replied. “It could be Santa direct or one of his Elves.”

The technician’s eyes started to roll as well. We three, Keith, myself and the technician sat in eye rolling silence for three minutes contemplating Santa’s ability with electronic payments. Well they sat in silence; I sat with tinnitus screeching quietly.

“Ahem” he coughed, ending the contemplation. “Well let’s get the measurement done shall we?”.

I volunteered Keith to be first in the chair. As Keith sat the technician probed with a laser lit ear-o-scope. “Fine” he said, “yes, good.” Inspection complete he opened a canister of eargloop and slathered it into Keith’s ears admonishing him to look straight ahead and not move his jaw or enter into acts of swallowing as this would result in an inaccurate mould.

A few minutes later the gloop had hardened sufficiently and with a little effort the moulds were removed ready to send to the clinic for the plugs to be made.

There had been no pain on Keith’s face during the whole procedure; thus encouraged I stepped forward for my turn in the chair.

The technician probed in the right ear, the left and the right again and said  ”Oh, this is not so good”

If you are of a delicate disposition you may want to skip a couple of paragraphs whilst I describe what constitutes “Not so good”

Riding my motorcycle the previous year across the trackless Mongolian steppe and uncertain sand filled ruts that pass as roads in Kazakhstan there had been several Whumps!

A whump is the sound of your head hitting the ground causing clouds of dust and accompanying curses to rise around you. And a good Whump! in the desert will fill your ears with dust.

I do wash of course. But I do not often probe my ears with cotton buds, hairgrips or used matchsticks. I clean my ears in a bearded manly way in the shower. Water, soap and my smallest finger rotating at the tip as befits a bearded manly sort of guy.

So what the technician was viewing was the accidental accretion of accident caused dust bonded with natural wax in my ear. I’m only glad I couldn’t see it myself.“

Can’t do it” he said. “You’ll need to see your physician and get it all sluiced clean”

I didn’t argue. Here is an expert; neither he nor I wanted any damage occurring, so in a slightly crestfallen yet bearded manly sort of way I agreed I would return at a later date.

Keith, who has yet to endure dusty Whumps! refrained from making comments on my personal hygiene. But I saw it in his eyes and the grin twitching on his lips; he will change when he gets his Whumps!

Before we left, and this is important, we decided that the plugs should have no colour but be transparent. Keith would have solid plugs stopping all but the loudest of noise; I meanwhile chose 23 decibel filters because this would allow me to hear GPS instructions bluetoothed to my helmet’s sound system.

Off then to a blue skied ride back home.

“But I need to get my ears syringed quickly because Secret Santa is involved and my anonymous gift needs to be here before Christmas so that I can leave early in the New Year”

The receptionist at my Doctor’s surgery has heard all of these squirrely entreatments before. Completely unfazed with news and urgent requirement of Secret Santas, she maintained that ear drops need to be applied thrice daily ten days before any surgical syringing could be contemplated.

To the chemist and drops purchased and applied; appointment made for syringes and sluicing. New Year’s Eve to the Surgery and the Nurse who said… “Hmmm looks pretty clean to me but let’s do it anyway”

Syringe, sluice and on the phone to Ultimateear to ask if they are working a normal day.Yes, and astride the Stelvio for the 150 km ride to aural heaven with vision restricted to twenty metre from truck, car and 4X4 spray, cats, dogs and I’m sure Asian buffalo pouring out of the invisible sky.

And arrival in the clinic with a cascades of water still sluicing off my Manly Custom Made Deep Red 10oz Cotton Waxed Adventure Biker Jacket to puddle at my feet. Which, given the rain, was not a great choice of riding gear.

“Aaaah” said the Ultimateear receptionist. “Yes we are open as normal but all the technicians are on holiday until after the holiday. Head drooping I continued, unspeaking, to cascade water on the floor.

“Show me your order” she said in a kindly fashion. I took out the sodden pink slip carefully separating its folds before laying it before her.

“Ahhh yes, you’re the Secret Santa man.. We’ve heard about you. And Santa or his Elves have paid. Look” she continued, “it’s a most unfortunate miscommunication especially in this weather at this time of year and you’ve come so far twice already so I’ll put your order into the rush order queue at no extra cost. And I’ll make you an appointment with a technician on the first day we open after the holiday, January the 6th”

I nodded whilst squeezing out my gloves that had finally lost all vestige of waterproofing, saturated fingers ballooning like giant sausages with an audible wheeze before the water splashed to the floor.

Pink paper slip now slowly disintegrating before our eyes she made out a new one. “And blue” I said, “I would like the ear plugs in blue.”

January 6th, another 150 km ride.

This time I am wearing full on head to toe thoroughly waterproof Belstaff deep winter kit as the sun shines benignly. Under the superproof  textiles I have my electric jacket and newly gifted electric trousers to beat the cold. Perfect, except the heat rising out my jacket is causing my helmet to steam up continuously.

To the chair, and the technician. “Fine” he said following the aural tour of inspection. In with the gloop with me fighting my brain which is telling me over and over again, go on, move your jaw, swallow, you know you want to.

Out of the chair and I am explaining about my travel plans; in three days I am off to the Far North to meet Lee Davies and listen together to the incredible story of Bernard Smith and his 25,000 mile journey around the world with his blind wife on the pillion. Extraordinary achievement about which I will write a story. Later.

But here and now in Orpington I need ear plugs to defer and defend worsening tinnitus when I hammer North in winter’s dark grip.

The technician to his office with my tale of woe and returning with the glad news they will upgrade my order to superfast with a 48 hour guaranteed delivery at no extra cost.

Fabulous people here at Ultimateear.

Two days later I stood at my door for 45 minutes like a bearded child waiting for my delivery. I go away to make some tea and the doorbell rings.

They are here.

Beautifully and securely wrapped I fought with box until my wife handed me some scissors. Opened and there they sat.

Deep blue with a handy waterproof zip up pouch to keep them clean and dry.

There is just one tiny problem. I had a severe ear infection in my right ear caused by the sluicing and syringing. The inner channels were swollen, very painful and there would be no aural insertion that day or the next whilst I pumped antibiotics in, once more, thrice daily.

Finally, the following evening I arrived in Warrington, and a joyful time meeting with Lee, Bernard and other long distance riders.

But what, I hear you say, of the ear defenders, and tinnitus?

I highly recommend the Ultimateear ear plugs. They work fantastically well. However, there was one last small mountain to climb and this is where you may learn from my biggest mistake.

You can order your Ultimateear ear plugs in different colours, have them engraved with your name and or attached to a cord so you don’t lose them.

Me, I just wanted blue, and didn’t listen to experts. Again.

The plugs are moulded separately. One for the right, one for the left. And to put them in you have to screw them in backwards so that they fit tight.

The trouble is, in the gloom, you have no idea which is which. And I didn’t.

My advice is this. Buy red for the left and green for the right. Port and Starboard. Get the Portside engraved so you can feel the difference. And attach them to a cord so you know where they are.Cool. Thank you http://www.ultimateear.com/ And Secret Santa Onward, upright; the Next Horizon beckons.
On a clear, warm late September evening in 2013 I stood looking towards the secret darkness of the lake at the bottom of my garden. 

Overhead, and despite the light pollution leaking up from nearby London Town, I saw the stars dancing on their journey through the Heavens. Not the bright, overwhelming beauty of a deep Siberian night, but, to a traveller, nonetheless inspirational. 

“Where next in the World?” I dreamed.

The answer came in a sharp narrow noise, like chalk dragged across a schoolroom blackboard, distant but insistent.

how noise creates tinnitus

I shook my head but the noise did not stop; it got no louder, but it would not go away. And I realised, as I stood staring up at the enormity of the stars, that after all the ignored warnings from folk much wiser than me that I finally had the beginnings of Tinnitus.

As any long distance motorcycle rider knows, eight to ten hours in the saddle for weeks at a time is not unusual; indeed it is great part of the pure joy of motorcycling. 

In 2011 I crossed Turkey on my Victory Vegas on my way to Kurdistan, the border confluence of Iran, Iraq and Turkey. I rode dusty unmade roads for a couple of thousand miles as the Victory roared it’s challenge from shiny straight through pipes. And because I could, I wore no helmet. T shirt, jeans, bandanna, sunshine and 1500cc of straight through power. Motorcycling Nirvana; in fact I didn’t wear my helmet again until a $20 traffic “fine” was extorted by a bent Croatian traffic cop when I re-entered the EU space on my return journey home.

I digress.

Tinnitus has no cure. It appears it is a reaction in the brain, not the ear, to continuous abusive noise. And it will get worse if you continue to subject your ears to loud noise; the answer, apparently, is ear plugs.

A few days later, chatting to my great friend and mucker Keith, and in a simple ploy for me to gain enough courage to buy some ear plugs myself I suggested he should get some to prevent a future of noisesome nonsense. And if he got some, then so would I.

We repaired to the Net for research and buying guides. I had tried, in the past, to use foam ear plugs. But these you have to lick, chew and suck before screwing the masticated mess into the aural orifice. Something more techno was required.

And there, listed neatly on Google was the answer to an aurally challenged motorcyclist’s dream. Ultimateear, as supplied to Charlie Boorman, rock bands and the Ministry of Defence.

Enough! With references and users like this the decision was made in moments.

As with most hand crafted-to-fit technology there is an acquisition process. In this case the internal ear must be inspected, measured and perfect moulds made. Only then could the finished product, in it’s personalised munificence, be created.

Now it just so happens that the smart people at Ultimateear have organised mouldmakers across the UK. So you can step through a chemist’s door, lay out twenty five smackers and they’ll fill your ears with goo, which, when dry, you can send to the factory by post. Alternatively, if you go to Ultimateear HQ they’ll make the moulds for free.

Free goo insertion at the office in Orpington was a 150km round trip away. Post or ride. Post or ride. Post or ride.  There was never any doubt.

All of this was taking place a few weeks before Christmas; and out of the clear blue sky stepped a benefactor – Secret Santa.

My daughters had cooked up a bulk buying scheme. Instead of buying the usual small Christmas present for each adult in the family their proposal was to put all the “small present money” into one large amount with which one large present would be bought and given anonymously. As there are six adults, for whom we would normally spend a tenner each on trash, a budget of £60 was fixed for each Giftor.

The adult names were put in a hat and over the course of the next 2 or 3 days, as people arrived and left, they would extract their Giftees name.

Except. Two people got their own names, and I had forgotten the name I’d pulled out of the hat.

Thus Plan B was initiated; a Secret Santa Centre was established. A friend was called in to send the name of the person for whom we were to buy the present by text, anonymously.

At last we were free to buy anything we wanted that may or may not suit our Giftees taste.

But I am both demanding and a would be arbiter of taste. And I wanted ears; not the most usual of Christmas presents and hard to guess remotely.

Eventually, after much electronic correspondence with Elves at Secret Santa Centre it was agreed that my anonymous Giftor would contact Ultimate Ear and shell out the cash.

With everything, including financial services largely under control, Keith and I decided a midweek ride to Orpington under sunny December skies would be just the pre-Christmas tonic we needed.

And so it was… a blissful ride, albeit around the M25, filtering through the traffic and other such nonsense, but at least on two wheels with Rayban’s reflecting the winter sun.

To Orpington then, and the Aladdin’s cave of all things in ear defence. Sitting at the table we listened awestruck to an Ultimateear technician as he walked us through the science of ear cleaning, excessive noise and ear defence techniques. Before our astonished eyes he laid out neat rows of vari and multi coloured ear plugs bejewelled with personal inscriptions, decibel deflecting filters, security cords to attach, in-line embellishments for direct connection to ipods, iphones, ipads, androids and quite possibly an orchestra in the Royal Albert Hall… little had been overlooked.

Eyes rolling, brain reeling, I gave over my deposit to guarantee my purchase. And then I said “Secret Santa will be paying the rest” The technician wrote “Secret Santa” on the form. “And what is his name” he asked “The eventual payer of your purchase?”. “I don’t know”, I replied. “It could be Santa direct or one of his Elves.”

The technician’s eyes started to roll as well. We three, Keith, myself and the technician sat in eye rolling silence for three minutes contemplating Santa’s ability with electronic payments. Well they sat in silence; I sat with tinnitus screeching quietly.

“Ahem” he coughed, ending the contemplation. “Well let’s get the measurement done shall we?”.

I volunteered Keith to be first in the chair. 

As Keith sat the technician probed with a laser lit ear-o-scope. “Fine” he said, “yes, good.” Inspection complete he opened a canister of eargloop and slathered it into Keith’s ears admonishing him to look straight ahead and not move his jaw or enter in acts of swallowing as this would result in an inaccurate mould. 

A few minutes later the gloop had hardened sufficiently and with a little effort the moulds were removed ready to send to the clinic for the plugs to be made. 

There had been no pain on Keith’s face during the whole procedure; thus encouraged I stepped forward for my turn in the chair.

The technician probed in the right ear, the left and the right again and said  ”Oh, this is not so good”

If you are of a delicate disposition you may want to skip a couple of paragraphs whilst I describe what constitutes “Not so good”

Riding my motorcycle the previous year across the trackless Mongolian steppe and uncertain sand filled ruts that pass as roads in Kazakhstan there had been several Whumps! A whump is the sound of your head hitting the ground causing clouds of dust and accompanying curses to rise around you. And a good Whump! in the desert will fill your ears with dust.

I do wash of course. But I do not often probe my ears with cotton buds, hairgrips or used matchsticks. I clean my ears in a bearded manly way in the shower. Water, soap and my smallest finger rotating at the tip as befits a bearded manly sort of guy.

So what the technician was viewing was the accidental accretion of accident caused dust bonded with natural wax in my ear. I’m only glad I couldn’t see it myself.

“Can’t do it” he said. “You’ll need to see your physician and get it all sluiced clean”

I didn’t argue. Here is an expert; neither he nor I wanted any damage occurring, so in a slightly crestfallen yet bearded manly sort of way I agreed I would return at a later date. Keith, who has yet to endure dusty Whumps! refrained from making comments on my personal hygiene. But I saw it in his eyes and the grin twitching on his lips; he will change when he gets his Whumps!

Before we left, and this is important, we decided that the plugs should have no colour but be transparent. Keith would have solid plugs stopping all but the loudest of noise; I meanwhile chose 23 decibel filters because this would allow me to hear GPS instructions bluetoothed to my helmet’s sound system.

Off then to a blue skied ride back home.

“But I need to get my ears syringed quickly because Secret Santa is involved and my anonymous gift needs to be here before Christmas so that I can leave early in the New Year” 

The receptionist at my Doctor’s surgery has heard all of these squirrely entreatments before. Completely unfazed with news and urgent requirement of Secret Santas, she maintained that ear drops need to be applied thrice daily ten days before any surgical syringing could be contemplated. 

To the chemist and drops purchased and applied; appointment made for syringes and sluicing. New Year’s Eve to the Surgery and the Nurse who said… “Hmmm looks pretty clean to me but let’s do it anyway” Syringe, sluice and on the phone to Ultimateear to ask if they are working a normal day.

Yes, and astride the Stelvio for the 150 km ride to aural heaven with vision restricted to twenty metre from truck, car and 4X4 spray, cats, dogs and I’m sure Asian buffalo pouring out of the invisible sky. 

And arrival in the clinic with a cascades of water still sluicing off my Manly Custom Made Deep Red 10oz Cotton Waxed Adventure Biker Jacket to puddle at my feet. Which, given the rain, was not a great choice of riding gear. 

“Aaaah” said the Ultimateear receptionist. “Yes we are open as normal but all the technicians are on holiday until after the holiday. 

Head drooping I continued, unspeaking, to cascade water on the floor. 

“Show me your order” she said in a kindly fashion. I took out the sodden pink slip carefully separating its folds before laying it before her. 

“Ahhh yes, you’re the Secret Santa man.. We’ve heard about you. And Santa or his Elves have paid. Look” she continued, “it’s a most unfortunate miscommunication especially in this weather at this time of year and you’ve come so far twice already so I’ll put your order into the rush order queue at no extra cost. And I’ll make you an appointment with a technician on the first day we open after the holiday, January the 6th” 

I nodded whilst squeezing out my gloves that had finally lost all vestige of waterproofing, saturated fingers ballooning like giant sausages with an audible wheeze before the water splashed to the floor.

Pink paper slip now slowly disintegrating before our eyes she made out a new one. “And blue” I said, “I would like the ear plugs in blue.” 

January 6th, another 150 km ride. This time I am wearing full on head to toe thoroughly waterproof Belstaff deep winter kit as the sun shines benignly. Under the superproof  textiles I have my electric jacket and newly gifted electric trousers to beat the cold. Perfect, except the heat rising out my jacket is causing my helmet to steam up continuously. 

To the chair, and the technician. “Fine” he said following the aural tour of inspection. In with the gloop with me fighting my brain which is telling me over and over again, go on, move your jaw, swallow, you know you want to. 

Out of the chair and I am explaining about my travel plans; in three days I am off to the Far North to meet Lee Davies and listen together to the incredible story of Bernard Smith and his 25,000 mile journey around the world with his blind wife on the pillion. Extraordinary achievement about which I will write a story. Later.

But here and now in Orpington I need ear plugs to defer and defend worsening tinnitus when I hammer North in winter’s dark grip. 

The technician to his office with my tale of woe and returning with the glad news they will upgrade my order to superfast with a 48 hour guaranteed delivery at no extra cost.

Fabulous people here at Ultimateear.

Two days later I stood at my door for 45 minutes like a bearded child waiting for my delivery. I go away to make some tea and the doorbell rings. They are here.

Beautifully and securely wrapped I fought with box until my wife handed me some scissors. Opened and there they sat. Deep blue with a handy waterproof zip up pouch to keep them clean and dry.

There is just one tiny problem. I had a severe ear infection in my right ear caused by the sluicing and syringing. The inner channels were swollen, very painful and there would be no aural insertion that day or the next whilst I pumped antibiotics in, once more, thrice daily.

Finally, the following evening I arrived in Warrington, and a joyful time meeting with Lee, Bernard and other long distance riders.

But what, I hear you say, of the ear defenders, and tinnitus?

I highly recommend the Ultimateear ear plugs.

They work fantastically well. However, there was one last small mountain to climb and this is where you may learn from my biggest mistake.

You can order your Ultimateear ear plugs in different colours, have them engraved with your name and or attached to a cord so you don’t lose them.

Me, I just wanted blue, and didn’t listen to experts. Again.

The plugs are moulded separately. One for the right, one for the left. And to put them in you have to screw them in backwards so that they fit tight. 

The trouble is, in the gloom, you have no idea which is which. And I didn’t.

My advice is this. 

Buy red for the left and green for the right. Port and Starboard. Get the Portside engraved so you can feel the difference. And attach them to a cord so you know where they are.

Cool. 

Thank you http://www.ultimateear.com/ And Secret Santa 

Onward, upright; The Next Horizon beckons.
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WOW! Moto Guzzi. Now that's what I call service! http://bit.ly/Vnd2qb
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