Priest in the Church of England. Father, husband, son. Keen biker.

Category: General Ramblings (Page 1 of 19)

General thoughts on bikes… and stuff.

TCX Blend 2 WP Urban Bike Boots Review

It feels like an age since I last wrote a review on this blog about actual bike stuff… but I’ve been so impressed with a pair of boots that I have to sit and share why I think they’re so good.

I bought these TCX boots whilst my new Aprilia was having its first service. I was hanging out at the retail bit of On Yer Bike up past Aylesbury – always a dangerous exercise for my wallet – and after a summer of bouncing around the city with my good old Dainese boots (great for commuting, less good for short runs in heavy traffic) I wanted something that was a little more versatile and would look better with my new riding jeans.

To be honest I wasn’t expecting to find anything. I’m a size 12 (UK) and have big calves. The reason I was still using my nearly 20 year old Dainese boots (despite hole in the bottom) was because they were just about the only comfy boots I’ve ever found.

I wandered to the back of the shop and looked at all the very lovely shoes, boots, trainers and other quite stylish motorbike accessories and asked the chap if they had anything in a size 12. To my absolutely shock he said he thought he had pretty much everything in a 12, what did I like?

I spotted a pair of stunning brown boots with armour in the right places, a solid sole and laces (would they fit around my calves?) He nipped out the back and came back with a pair in less than a minute. I tried them on and fell in love.

Why the instant reaction? These boots are COMFY. They don’t feel like bike boots, they feel like high end street boots. They’re snug in all the right places, they sit beautifully on my heel and run up the back of my calf like they were custom made.

The laces allow a degree of flexibility, with tightness and space around the upper part of my foot, and the back has a little loop in exactly the right place to pull them up and over your foot when putting them on.

They’re stylish enough to pass for standard boots, so when I’m dashing into town wearing my bike jeans and jacket, I don’t look like I’ve just completed the Dakar. They’re light and breathe well and have been a fantastic pair of summer boots.

But what about the weather? What about winter?

I’ve worn these over a winter in London and through rain, wind, and icy temperatures.

Most recently I wore them on a run up to Walsingham (c150 miles, 3 hours ride) in temps of about 1c-5c. My feet were warm throughout (I suspect more down to the knee length walkers socks I was wearing) and only towards the end did I start to feel cold creeping in. The leather does a good job of keeping icy winds out allowing good socks to do their job of keeping your feet warm.

In rain my feet have remained dry on a 1 hour run, but I suspect they’d give in at some point – I’m not sure I’d wear them for a known wet run of over an hour – or without some sort of waterproof outer.

(UPDATE 19/2/24 – I rode for 4 hours in torrential rain and through flooded roads two weeks ago and my feet remained bone dry… exceptional stuff)

On the recent run up to Walsingham I used them as my only shoes throughout – wearing them everyday as walking boots and you wouldn’t have known they were actually motorbike boots. I walked several miles each day and my feet thanked me for them.

In short I can’t recommend these boots enough. This new range from TCX are not just pretty to look at, not just great motorbike boots, but are also fantastic boots full stop.

If you’re looking to buy a pair I recommend the great team up at On Yer Bike Clothing Store or get them direct from TCX.

BLEND 2 WP – BROWN from TCX Boots

Has the internet ruined adventure travel?


Have a read of this piece on the BBC Magazine written by a poor poor journalist who has been forced to experience the internet and phone signal in an area previously untouched by such modern inconveniences.

Sorry, I know I’m sounding snarky. The thing that gets my goat here is that it’s wonderful to be a tourist experiencing the un-touched parts of the planet – but the reality is those places have people living in them, and why on earth should they be denied access to the internet or mobile signal to make us feel better and really ‘get away from it all’.

I feel the same way towards this journalist as I do to 40 year olds who complain about Radio 1. There’s a simple answer here… turn it off.

Best line in the piece:

Take Ernest Shackleton’s heroic Antarctic feat – one of the greatest adventure stories of all time.

One wonders whether it would even have happened had the internet been around in his day.

Of course, you’re quite right. The internet has killed the spirit that led to explorers wanting to push the limits. These guys are quite clearly  just sat in front of their computers experiencing the small world via the net and not getting out there.

…and breath.

Win an eKit Passport SIM with $10 credit

I’ve been using the eKit passport SIMs for a while. It’s a great piece of kit that allows you make international calls from anywhere in the world at a fraction of the cost of other providers. The service also allows you to create a website that let’s your friends and family see where you are and what you’re up to. It will even post your location, status update and photos or video to facebook and twitter.

You get two numbers with each sim – a UK number and a US number. It’s pretty cool. What’s cooler is they’ve kindly given me two SIM cards to give away right here on – all you need to do is answer the question below and submit your details. I’ll destroy all the entries once the competition is over and your data will not be used for any purpose other than running this competition. This is cool people. Have fun.


The competition is now closed. The winners were Alex Richards and Patrick McConnon. Congratulations!

Commercial Use of your API – why you should allow it

Thing is, when you’re building an API – doesn’t matter if you’re the BBC, government or a start-up – it’s so very tempting to add the line ‘only for non-commerical use’. It was the line that allowed us to pursued people at the BBC to release data via backstage. It’s a really handy way to help management understand that releasing data isn’t a threat to your profit line or to society. Thing is though – it’ll only take you so far – actually it’ll start to hinder development.

We all know that the best way to allow access to your API is to keep it as easy as possible – making developers apply, and then wait, for a key before they can start messing with your stuff is a sure fire way to stop people getting groovy with your data. When I was at Lonely Planet we developed three levels of developer access – the journey to getting these levels lasted a year and many meetings with legal and management. Finally we got to a point where there was a way for developers to instantly access data, but then have a path where they could make money from their work – ultimately the reason that people will want to move beyond the initial itch and building of groovy cool stuff to the larger scale making some money kinda stuff.

Level 1

Free and easy access. Police it by using call limits if you like – but don’t require registration or any kind of authorisation – let people quickly get to your stuff and let them play. Feel free to add ‘non commercial use’ to this access – but if you’ve limited the api calls – why bother?

Level 2

Semi-hard. Ask people to register. Give them access to a more robust API, or a larger number of calls – but essentially let people get on with it. If they want to try to make money – let them – they’ll soon be in touch if the money is pouring in and they want to take things to the next level.

Level 3

The next level. Solid, production ready API. No limits and working hand-in-hand with internal developers.

The great thing about letting people make money is that they’ll make you money in return – you don’t have to spend months locked away in an R&D lab – but more importantly you’ll see stuff you’ve never even thought of. It’s the Hack Day theory – Hack Days are a pressure cooker for innovation, an intensified period of R&D that months of traditional work could not replicate.

But what if you’re a not-for profit? The BBC? Government? Well then… it’s even more important that you let people make money from public data. Government data has a problem – it’s really not cool – it attracts amazing developers who want to make the world a better place. But what about those developers who want to make the world a better place and need to put a meal on the table? It’s either direct subsidy – or let them build something that they can sell – not the data itself perhaps – but a service built on that data.

Camp Omelette

First in a new series of three cooking videos we start with the most basic of good food for the road – the Omelette. Incredibly simple to make, and importantly, still good to eat if you mess it up! The great thing about this recipe is that it’s very easy to add to or change – just grab whatever is nearest and throw in with the eggs. Easy.

Watch this video on YouTube


  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 Red Pepper
  • 1 Carrot
  • Half an Onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Salami
  • Nut Oil


Cut up your Red Pepper, Carrot and Spring Onion into very small pieces, crush your garlic and then slice thinly. Slice your salami into chunks, add as much as you fancy. Mix the eggs quickly with a pinch of salt and pepper, perhaps a little spice in a separate pan.  Pour the nut oil into a skillet or pan and heat until it starts to smoke, pour in the eggs and agitate the mixture on the bottom of the pan to give the final omelette some depth. Add the veg as the eggs start to thicken and harden, drop the heat a little at this point.

Keep the eggs from the side of the pan and as soon as you notice the egg starting the bind and lift easily from the pan consider turning it in half – at this point it really doesn’t matter if you break it up – it tastes exactly the same.

If you don’t want your veg to be on the crispy side consider frying them off before adding the eggs until they’re soft and golden brown.


inspired, originally uploaded by iamjon*.

Back for the second week it’s Friday Foto Fun. This week I’ve chosen a shot of the Minster at York.

I lament sometimes that as a nation, we’ve lost the art of and forgotten what it is do Great Things. York Minster is Great. It’s Awesome and the very presence of it inspires greatness.

The building dominates the entire area, and walking into it you’re immediately made to feel small… perhaps that’s the whole point. In any case, it’s a building that inspires me to greatness.

Do something Great this weekend.

Friday Foto Fun (see what I did there?)

Biking to Work, originally uploaded by buteijn.

Biking to Work

This, pulled over from the flickr explore section, caught my eye today to mark a return to the Friday photo posting – simple things that inspire or make you smile on a Friday afternoon.

For me this image captures the end of summer, the slow colourful decline into Autumn and the dark cold mornings of winter just around the corner. It’s not sad, or glum – but feels happy in it’s celebration of a good summer – a job well done.

The cyclists in the shot pick up the energy, remind us that things go on, that life has a natural rhythm, that perhaps we should spend a little more time exploring that rhythm and try to be a little more in sync with it.

On leaving Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet front doorIt seems only yesterday that I was posting here about my new and very exciting job at Lonely Planet. The Innovation Ecosystem Manager (no, I never stopped having to explain to people what that meant – in the end I went with ‘do cool shit’).

In fact it’s been nearly two years since I left the BBC (kind of) to head to Australia, then head back to the UK and try to broaden the horizons of a company with pretty broad horizons. It felt like the perfect mesh of cool and tech, the chance to explore the world I’d been looking for in combination with the opportunity to do great things with a great company.

Leaving Lonely Planet was not as hard as I expected, mainly because I’d felt for a little while that LP had to concentrate on it’s bottom line during an extremely difficult time and doing outlandish cool stuff – or R&D as I like to call it – was simply not the best thing to be doing. The fact is that’s the right decision – if you are not able to follow through on a project you should have the intellectual honesty (thanks Matt G) to say so. Of course R&D is the very life-blood of any company looking to inhabit the digital sphere, but sometimes, just sometimes, you need to take a step back and make sure what you’re doing day-to-day is the right thing.

Lonely Planet has some inspirational and truly talented people working for it – to call out a few – I’ll start at the top – Matt Goldberg is simply one of the finest people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work for. A keen eye for what really matters and enough ‘down with the kids’ cool to be approachable and engaging – when it comes to learning how to be a Leader, he’s at the top of my list along with Richard Titus and Ashley Highfield.

It’ll also come as no surprise that I hold Ken Hoetmer, Johnny Cussen and Julian Doherty personally responsible for all the greatest things that have come out of LP digital in the recent past – of course there’s a whole army of talented people behind them – but it’s these guys that are forging the path inside the organisation and these guys that are having a real impact on what the traveller gets when they engage with LP digitally – and bluntly – that’s all that really matters.

Finally I have to mention Vivek Wagle and Venessa Peach – both of them struggle with technology that feels as if it’s actively trying to stop you doing your job rather than helping you – to maintain an editorial digital presence that both inspires and engages – without them (and their cool teams – Andy, Lewti, Ali & Tom Hall I’m looking at you) – would be a much poorer place.

So what now? Well as of about a month ago I’m the new Digital Director at Hachette UK – they’re a pretty big publishing company you may have heard of 😉 At some point down the line I’ll post more on my day-to-day role here, but for now – it’s a heady mix of new product development, and operational management – and what an exciting time to be at the very heart of publishing!

Breakfast Mess

This is a very simple breakfast – it looks a mess – and frankly it is, but it’s full of slow-release energy and sets you up for the day. It’s also worth pointing out that I rather made a hash of this recipe. It should have been an omelette with a little sausage, bacon and black pudding – instead it’s more a massive pile of meat with a little egg.

Watch this video on Youtube.


  • Sausage
  • Bacon
  • Black Pudding
  • Eggs
  • What-ever you have to hand


Add a little olive oil to your pan and get nice and hot – throw in your cut up sausages and brown off, lower the heat and allow to cook for a few minutes while you prepare the bacon, black pudding and eggs. Cut the bacon into thin strips and add to the pan – chunk up the black pudding and add just before you pour in the scrambled eggs. Now mix – keep the heat high and keep the mixture moving in the pan. Once it’s all kinda brown… pour it out on your breakfast bread.

I should ascribe this recipe to Les @ Traveldri-plus – but I can’t because I’ve fouled it up so badly – so I’ll come back to his recipe at a later date and do it properly.

Hire this guy

Phil Harper Facebook Advert - click to visit his siteBeing advertised at in facebook is a pain in the ass – the ads are never relevant and regardless of how much time I spend clicking the little crosses and telling facebook I’m not interested in free holidays to spain…. I still get adverts selling me free holidays to spain.

For the first time ever today I got a good ad – very nicley done by a chap called Phil Harper. I’m posting the ad here along with a link to his CV because, whilst not exactly original, he’s making a damn good effort and his CV looks impressive. So… those of you out there in a position to hire this guy – have a read of his CV and drop him a note.

Smart guy. Oh, and his stance that ‘the Daily Mail newspaper is a joke’ – really only adds to his employability.

If people you know read it, inform them of their mistake. Kindly let them know that although it looks like a newspaper, it is in fact a desperate imperialistic rag not even good enough to wipe the arse of its own demi-godess Margaret Thatcher.

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