30 April 2010

End of an era

...and I don't mean the end to Liverpool's European journey last night.

I'm not an emotional kind of guy. At least, I'd like to think so. If things happen to me involving emotional extremes, I'd normally just sleep it off, run a mile or blank it out altogether. I'm good at that. I think it runs in the family. We're just not fond of emotional situations and avoid it like the plague.

Of course these days, there's no avoiding these situations. Either things have become no longer financially viable for some or the emotional pull of home have just become too overwhelming for others. Normally it's a good dose of both.

I've been in Ireland since that summer in 1999 with only a few short breaks back home since then. So, if my maths doesn't fail me, I would have been here, in this foreign land for 11 years this summer. That's a better part of decade. A long time.

Obviously, with the passing of such a length of time, there are bound to be changes in my life or in this case, changes to other people's lives that directly impact mine.

I came to Ireland as a student. And, like most Malaysian students, we'd be sent to faraway places in groups. Out of this larger group, I got to know a great bunch of people. We were somehow each other's support group. A type of dysfunctional family trying to make do with whatever we had.

For some reason, throughout that amazing decade, our paths have always crossed, time and time again. It's not like we set out to be close to each other but like I said, it just turned out that way. It's got to a stage where even our kids have fallen in that same loop.

So, maybe it's not a goodbye to friends that have and will go home. It's just the end of a long overdue era. I'm sure our paths will cross again in the future. I'll probably end up buying the house right beside the same bunch of guys when I eventually get back to Malaysia!

Until we meet again...

28 April 2010

The New 2010/2012 Liverpool Jersey: The Final Countdown

So, there I was at my desk at work. A normal Monday morning. And, like any Monday morning, I'd check my emails, work ones first of course and then the personal ones followed by the really personal ones on webmail. Already in a happy enough mood from Liverpool's win over Burnley on Sunday, I was even more pleasantly surprised that morning when I received the following mail.

A nice little note to say that my all-new Liverpool jersey had been sent! Strange, considering that the official release date was meant to be around May 8th. Maybe, DHL were under some instruction to hold delivery until then or maybe the club were just worried that Eyjafjallajokul would cause havoc again. Either way, I'm just glad that I'd be able to get my hands on the jersey sooner rather than later.

Back in the world of scootering, from the other side of the world came a different type of email.

It looks like the folks at ScootRS have had some reports of some dodgy valves on a batch of their tubeless rims and have decided to recommend that they get changed ASAP. Not quite like Toyota's HomygodIcantstopthisthing! moment but close enough it would seem.

Personally, I've had the rims in question for a while now but have yet to use them. Even so, I was a little bit concerned as I do plan to use them when I eventually get myself a pair of decent tubeless tyres.

It doesn't seem too clear from the email or the website but, it certainly would make good PR sense to send out replacement valves for free to those effected by this product recall. I might pop Randall and his crew a quick message to see whether I can get some more information on this.

26 April 2010

My school uniform's cooler than yours

So, after my unfortunate incident with my trousers not too long ago, I was desperate to get a replacement ASAP. Immediately, Marks & Spencer came to mind. The place is great especially when you’re a disproportionately-shaped person like yours truly.

Yes, I long for the days when I could go out, pick a size 40-suit and hey presto, the trousers that came along with it would magically fit me like a glove. These days, I’ve gone up a suit size but unfortunately, my waist has gone up by even more!

Cue M&S and their great choice of trousers/jackets in varying sizes no matter how disproportionate one might be. All I had to do was decide on a “look” I liked (ranging from bland business to classic Italian to Mod-ish slim fit designs), get the suit jacket in my size and hunt down a pair of trousers that fit. All-in-all it took me about 30 minutes between walking in the front door and paying for the suit (extra pair of trousers thrown in free as well!).

A far cry indeed from the painfully long-winded but at the same time pleasant suit-buying experience I had growing up in Malaysia.

Pleasant because it was the only “quality” time I got to spend with my father. You see, my father’s work involved that he travelled a lot. And I mean, a lot. It got to a stage where we couldn’t even keep up as to where he was. For all I (and my siblings) knew, he could have been New York or Nairobi, Tampin or Tokyo. It didn’t make a difference. Post cards sent from faraway lands gave an idea as to where he was but, thanks to the great postal service in Malaysia, they were normally a month behind.

So, visits to my father’s favourite tailor were always that little bit special. It was our father-and-son time. Well, that and visits to Chandran the barber. I don’t even think the man’s name was actually Chandran but because my father called him that, the barber eventually gave up explaining what his real name was and stuck with Chandran to this day, just to save him the hassle.

Anyway, the tailor in question was Peter Tailor that used to be located in PJ New Town (or PJ State), the de facto capital of the state of Selangor, where we lived. The head tailor and owner of Peter Tailor was a nice old man I merely called Uncle. “Uncle” was of course, the Malaysian term used when referring to someone much older than one’s self especially, if that person was a non-Malay individual. If he was Malay, we’d revert to Pak Cik which basically, means Uncle as well!

I never understood why my father insisted on going to Uncle for most of his tailoring. My theory was that my father liked to go to Uncle because he was an expert in tailor-made bush jackets. This was important to my father because the humble short-sleeved bush jacket was THE single-most important item of clothing for a male member of the public service in Malaysia, even if it didn’t involve one to go off on a safari somewhere in the rainforest. Basically, if you didn’t have a bush jacket, you weren’t cool.

The bush jackets came complete with little loops on top of the left chest pocket for slotting in the black and white name tags public servants were forced to wear on official duty. The loops were a special addition by Uncle which saved the jacket from any damage made by the name tag pins: a simple, yet effective innovation in my father’s eyes. Peter Tailor could do no wrong after that.

Of course, I didn’t get my own mini-bush jacket. I was too small then and in hindsight, it was probably a good thing. I wouldn’t have liked looking like a young, Asian Idi Amin anyway!

Eventually, when I was in secondary school, I finally got my chance of getting a piece tailor-made luxury from Peter Tailor although at that stage, being a rebellious teenager, I had my own ideas on coolness. I wanted what the other cool kids at school had: tailor-made school trousers in the so-called “GQ” style.

GQ trousers were a type of bell-bottom design with folded hems but without being tight on the thighs. The bigger the cuffs, the better. Pleats, normally double pleats or jeans-style front pockets were also a recommended option. A sort of MC Hammer meets the Bee Gees design with a touch of Miami Vice (the old TV series, not the 2006 movie). Thank God, that phase of my life is now well and truly over!

As I went to school in Kuala Lumpur, it was not only important that I had trousers in the correct design it was equally important that I got the trousers in the right places (Jun Saito and another place I just can’t remember the name of, was THE place to go). Drab old Peter Tailor just wouldn’t do.

Unsurprisingly, my father would have none of that. Either I had trousers made by Uncle or I was to wear standard government-issue trousers sold at the Globe Silk Store. Peter Tailor being the lesser of two evils was my only option. I could wear Globe Silk Store clothes but I would be forever condemned to geekdom for the rest of my teenage life. It was that bad.

I remember having countless arguments with Uncle and my father as to the design of my trousers. There was just no way that I was going with fashion advice from two men who still think that Engelbert Humperdinck is the definition of cool. No way!

I even went as far as to bribe one of Uncle’s assistants (with some Teh Tarik or Air Mata Kucing) so that he’d agree to increase the size of the trousers’ cuffs.

Why you want trousers like that, boy? You work as a street sweeper for DBKL, ah?

Uncle was referring to the enlarged cuffs and the impractical “sweeping” effect it would have.

In the end, as with my father, Uncle came through for me. The trousers I had were a milder, more sublime version than the ones the cool kids wore at school. You could say it was a more mature version of the juvenile design. And, like the name tag loops he did for my father’s bush jackets, Uncle couldn’t resist when it came to pleasing his customers with the smaller things. For my troubles, I had probably one of the first button-fly trousers in the school and probably the whole of Kuala Lumpur!

To me, it was like a pair of school trousers and a pair of Levi’s 501 jeans rolled into one. A pair of trousers which on its own, elevated me into semi-cool status at school. I was one happy teenager and that was all I could have asked for from my father.

24 April 2010

Why SIP why?

I got my hands on SIP’s updated catalogue for 2010 recently and as much as I like looking at all the scooter goodies, I’m beginning to regret it already!

Eh, but why? You might ask.

Well, to start off, there’s the small collection of scooter bling that I just have to get my hands on. There’s the usual stuff that I drool over: exhausts, kits, CNC-machined shocks, polished tubeless rims, etc. Then, they just have to top it all off by putting that Glorious Basterd in there as well, complete with that all-new amazing speedo and rev counter combo. Tasty.

So, where’s the problem then?

OK, this is normally not a problem but with the money tight these days, most if not all of the stuff I mentioned there is pretty much out of reach. Even down to something as simple as say, an exhaust bolt replacement. No matter what argument I put forth for the bolt, there’s just no chance the bolt is going to be more important than the broken latch that keeps that fancy touch-bin in the kitchen closed.

Buy latch to fix dysfunctional bin to avoid stinking up the whole house OR exhaust bolt so that Sito Plus can go on nicely and Daddy here can have some more fun on the Vespa? Hmmm...

Anyway, what makes it worse is, unlike an online website, you can’t really switch off a hard copy catalogue lying around the house. But, like an Argos or Ikea catalogue, it sits quietly in a dark corner of your home, summons you to it, beckoning you to flick its pages and then bang! You’re hit with some sort of mind-controlling signal that urges you to Buy, Buy, Buy! Aaarggghhh!

Pure mental torture. Governments of the world, please take note: these catalogues should definitely come with a stern health warning.

Last but not least, a quick word to the guys back in Malaysia (and wherever else you're coming from) making their way to Kuala Kangsar for the Karnival Vespa, Motor Klasik dan Kereta Antarabangsa 2010: Ride safely and hope you guys enjoy this year's event. Remember, don't annoy the locals!

22 April 2010

So, the King likes curry?

Most Malaysians would probably know that our royal families are never too shy to sell things. The royal families have been known to sell anything from Datukships to land rights to lumber rights. Basically, anything they can get their hands on, they’d sell. Anything.

If they were eBay sellers, they’d be Power Sellers at this stage although I’d suspect their feedback rating wouldn’t be anywhere close to 100%!

So, it didn’t come as a surprise to me when I saw that some of them were involved in selling curries in the Irish capital. Well OK, not just curries but a whole host of Indian and Pakistani cuisine.

Tuanku suka kari iye...?

To the less eagle-eyed ones out there, the poster on the door reads:

IF ITS GOOD ENOUGH for the Malaysian royal family... That's right - Madina's not just popular with bargain-hunting Irish fans of Asian cuisine, it also meets the standards of visiting monarchs. ("Very modest people" according to our source.)Granted, the fact that they have a giant Dubliner review in the front window doesn't hurt our impression of Adi Hameed's family's enterprise. But even more impressive is it's combination of value and authentic taste - we can't stay away. It's common to find Adi mingling with customers, but not in a showy way. This is just a guy who loves his food. Try mother Ishrat's Moongi Dal (€8.95) or any of the melt-in-the-mouth lamb dishes.

Seriously, I was quite surprised that Madina Restaurant had put up a blown-up version of a review of the restaurant on their front door especially one that refers to Malaysian royalty. I didn’t realise Malaysia’s royalties were such distinguished food connoisseurs!

To be fair to the restaurant, as he review states, it does serve up the most authentic tasting Indian food in Dublin, at one of the cheapest prices to boot. It’s also probably the only place in Dublin that sells decent South Indian food like pratha and dosa (or roti canai and tosai) that are firm favourites with most Malaysians.

For some reason however, the place has fallen victim to what other Indian restaurants suffer from: making their food milder presumably, to suit local tastes. Hopefully, the owners see the error of their ways and correct this problem before they start losing their reputation for authenticity as well as their client-base.

Note to the non-Malaysian: It wasn’t a typo when I typed “families”. I didn’t mean to type family because in Malaysia, we’re a bit more generous to our feudal lords. Yes, we have multiple royal families. Nine to be exact. Hey, why stick with the one when you can have nine, eh? After all, if there was only one royal family a la the UK, we’d soon enough run out of tabloid fodder and all sorts of scandals...

20 April 2010

Eyjafjallajökull: How's that for a post title?

It looked like a good start to the weekend. Well at least it was from where I was looking on Friday. My job required that I attended a conference over in Killenard in Co. Laois. I had been here before in the past two years and everything was pretty much as expected. Other than the Seve Ballesteros-designed golf course (Seve who?), I don’t think the place offered much else outside of the hotel.

I skipped dinner at the place and grabbed a lift off a colleague back to the Big Smoke. My birthday was on the following day so there was no chance I was going to miss celebrating my birthday with the family. Not for a game of golf anyway.

It was about an hour and a half drive from Killenard to Dublin. Not surprisingly, one of the the topics up for discussion was all the havoc caused by Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull. Volcanic ash was blamed for everything from the slight tinge in the otherwise cloudless blue sky we enjoyed on the day to cancelled holidays to increased food prices if the no-fly zone lasts any longer (seemingly 2% of the country’s imports were by air).

Anyway, the volcanic eruption remained a distant threat to me. As much as I was afraid of volcanoes, pyroclastic clouds and molten lava, the volcano in question here was actually a good 1,000 miles or so away from where I was. Other than the odd cancelled meeting and the numerous complaints from friends who had their holidays cancelled, Eyjafjallajökull was basically, out of sight, out of mind.

Until later in the day on Friday, that is. I was driving to a friend’s house on Friday evening when I couldn’t help but notice a strange cloud formation on the horizon. I mentioned this to my wife and then together, we realised that it actually wasn’t some weird cloud formation. For some reason, what we were seeing in front of us was the tall plume of smoke coming from that infamous volcano. It was like the nuclear/atomic mushroom clouds we’d be used to seeing on TV, only much more menacing . The reddish sky highlighted this even more.

The picture here was taken on my mobile so, it’s not actually the greatest. It does, however give an idea of what we saw that evening. Suddenly, 1,000 miles didn’t seem that far!

Volcanic ash and eruptions aside, I still did have a very nice and low-key birthday, thanks to the wife and kids. The home-baked cake was out of this world!

18 April 2010

The Vespa: Loved vehicle or just good product placement?

Roman Holiday must have kicked it off. Then, it was probably the Mod movement in the 60’s which Quadrophenia is based on almost two decades or so later, giving the scooter a good jump-start in terms of interest. Since then, things haven’t actually died down. Vespas can be seen in numerous Hollywood movies as well as loads of different marketing campaigns around the world, in all shapes and forms.

In other words, it’s quite impressive.

The question lingering in my head is:

Is the Vespa’s popularity in modern culture due to its own attractiveness or merely due to good product placement by the marketing crowd at Piaggio & C. s.p.a.?

Take for instance the Blanchardstown Shopping Centre. Not that there’s anything special with it. It’s just a place that I go to do my shopping on a regular basis.

As one enters the Red Mall and then make their way into Marks & Spencer’s ladies department, you’re faced with a picture of an 8 foot lady posing beside a pink Vespa LX (I think). Head into the men’s section in Debenhams and there’s Vespa galore in terms of Ben Sherman’s display.

Then, you might wander back to JD Sports to get some sports gear. There, you’d be hit by a barrage of Adidas gear and unsurprisingly, amongst the countless repro pieces they’d be the Adidas-Vespa range. Everything from trainers to €500 leather jackets produced by Adidas with Vespa logos glued or stitched onto them.

Initially, I thought it was cool and I wanted to get my hands on all the Adidas-Vespa gear. Nowadays, I’m quite undecided as to whether this collaboration is a good or bad thing. I mean, is it Adidas being creative by incorporating equally iconic names and images into their own products OR has the company dropped to a new low in terms of coming out with their own ideas, contented to piggyback off other brands’ ideas? Maybe it’s a bit of both. I don’t know.

Anyway, that’s not the end of Vespa spotting in Blanchardstown, of course. There’s just too many too list but the ones mentioned above should give a good idea of the scooter’s presence.

But why is all this important to me? Why?

It’s important because I need to know. Do I really like my Vespa because it really is a well designed, well engineered two-wheeled contraption or because like many today, have I succumbed to the dark, sinister ways of a masterful marketing strategy devised almost half a century ago (subliminal messages and all)? 

Well,I believe the answer might lie in Pontodera itself.

Based on Piaggio’s latest available accounts, the company spent almost €31.5m in 2009 (€38.3m in 2008) on advertising and promotions. As the Piaggio group’s portfolio is made up of other marks like Aprilia, Moto Guzzi and Gilera, we can’t simply assume that the full amount can be attributed to its Vespa division.

But, for arguments sake, let’s compare this to that of say, another brand that is well-known to spend significant amounts on its image, Guinness. Approximately €500m was spent by Diageo (that’s Guinness’ parent company) on marketing its products in Europe alone. €500m-that must be close to some countries’ annual budgets!

Yes, they’re totally different products and markets, but I suppose it does put the whole thing into perspective. Both Vespa and Guinness are universally known brands. The latter having spent arguably, 15 times more than the former to maintain its status. In a nutshell, even if Piaggio did spend a lot of money on marketing the Vespa, it surely couldn’t have done it on good product placement alone.

The only conclusion is the obvious one to most scooter enthusiasts: the Vespa is well-known all over the planet because of its timeless appeal to generations of people be it in Pontodera or Pontian, Saigon or Seattle.


16 April 2010

The Green Vespa: Back in 2008

I was just clearing up my laptop's hard disk when I came across these pics of my scooter. They were taken sometime in the summer of 2008.

The sticker on the frame (under the seat) says "Verde 112". A quick check online confirmed that this refers to the original Racing Green colour of the scooter. I haven’t a clue what the original scooter looked like when it first rolled off the production line in Pontodera but, what I do know is that it has since lost its original seat and engine. The seat you see now belongs to the newer Disc-type PX while the engine I’ve been told is of the EFL variety.

The lighter green on the side panels and horncasting is my later “contribution” to the look you now see. I wanted to stick with Piaggio’s original colour scheme but wanted to go two-tone. After much deliberating, I opted for a tone which was used on the automatic Vespa ET’s. A few people have come up to me and said that the combination looks surprisingly good. I’d tend to agree!

The scooter gained the colour after I had my first accident on it. A newbie’s mistake really. I was stuck at lights going uphill and when the lights turned green, I was only too eager to twist the throttle. I lost control of the scooter and fell on the slippery road with my full weight on my right hand. I only found out about two days later that my wrist was actually fractured.

My Vespa was in worse shape though. There was a kickstart-shaped dent on the right-hand side panel, to top of the fact that it was all scratched-up. The other panel although not affected by the fall, was already in a horrible state. So, with some spare cash at the time, it was due a well deserved facelift. i.e. the new two-tone look.

I thought some side panel crashbars and a footrest would be a nice addition so, I opted for Vigano chrome and rubber ones. I was going to go with black but went with the chrome ones as I thought the scooter needed some bling on it. The crashbars lived up to its name when about a year later, a nice lady in her Nissan Micra decided to swerve right (for no particular reason), hitting me while I was filtering through traffic.

The Vespa fell on its side while I landed relatively safely on the opposite side of the street. To my surprise, there wasn’t a single scratch on the side panel. The crashbar itself was visibly bent with the rubber on it pretty much shredded to pieces. The chrome had scrapes on it but other than that, the scooter was fine.

A few weeks later, I couldn’t stand looking at the way the crashbars sat, non-symmetrically on the frame (one being farther out than the other as it was bent and all) so, reluctantly, I took them off. I didn’t like the bare look on the panels so, on went some Utah look-alike side panel rubbers which have stayed on to this day.

That was almost two years ago. I wonder what my Vespa would look like in another two years. One thing I do know for sure: the sooner this recession is over the higher the chances of the scooter getting some more work done on it. And, that can only be a good thing!

14 April 2010

Honey, does my butt look big in this?

There I was facing another typical Monday morning. I finished my shower and headed straight out the bathroom door. I noticed that I had stepped on something. Thankfully, it wasn’t one of my kids' Lego blocks or else my neighbours would have been rudely awoken by my tortured screams. The CIA think they’ve got it sorted with their waterboarding and fingernail-pulling. Well, have I got news for them. I can only assume they haven’t stepped on Lego blocks at 6 o’clock in the morning. It’s the definition of pain.

OK. To bring things back on track, after getting some focus on the carpeted floor, I realised that it was a pile of clothes. Mostly mine and some of my wife’s. Having been happily married for 8 years or so at this stage, I consider myself well versed in the art of deciphering my wife’s cryptic messages. This one was one of the easier ones to crack. The pile of clothes strategically placed between bathroom door and wardrobe door. So, unless I had suddenly developed the ability to float around like a 15-stone and goateed Tinkerbell, there was no chance in the world I was going to miss the clothes on the floor.

My hands are full with the kids. Bring your own clothes downstairs so that I can run them this morning. This message will NOT self-destruct in 15 seconds but if you don’t comply...

Affirmative, message understood. Robert Langdon and his Illuminati pals couldn’t hold a candle against my code-breaking skills!

I was running late already at this stage, so I put on my clothes and stared at the challenge that I faced near my feet. Do I get my sarong, convert it into a makeshift gym bag and carry all the clothes downstairs? No can do. My wife was doing whites today by the look of the collection on the floor and my sarongs were all dark coloured.

So, without thinking about it twice, I hastily bent down to grab all the clothes in one go. Wrong decision. Like the old Adam West Batman TV series, a big multi-coloured “KERRRAAACKKK” filled my view (or more accurately, my ears).

That was it. My second-last pair of good trousers in my suit collection was gone forever. Naturally, the size of my behind these days, is not to be blamed. Of course not. The gigantic-sized rip was surely down to shoddy workmanship and the lack of quality tailoring these days. Surely. Heh.

It wasn’t as if it was a designer suit or anything expensive. It’s just that I was holding-off on buying a replacement until I got myself that Sito Plus first. This is of course, ignoring the fact that my once charcoal trousers was so worn, it no longer matched the jacket it was sold with. Or, the fact that even the charity shops wouldn’t have taken it in as a donation in the first place.

Ah well, looks like the only winners in this tragedy are Messrs Marks and Spencer. I should be paying them a visit for a replacement shortly...


12 April 2010

Temptations of the dark side

Some days I look on a modern Vespa and say to myself,
Yeah I'd like one of those as a replacement for my PX...

I've heard from loads of other scooterists who have actually made the switch. Nothing but good words about their new ride. Obviously, with all that modernity, you gain an automatic gearbox which comes in handy in start-stop city centre traffic as well as increased peformance (especially on the GTS300ie).

After reading Scootering's review on the LML 4-stroke, you'd think I'd be tempted to consider that as an option. Don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against 4-stroke engines but there was just something not right with the whole thing.

It was sad somehow. It was as if the people at LML had put the comatose Vespa PX on life support and the thing was barely surviving (no matter what the good intentions they might have had). It's as if the machine had lost its soul...

Ooooh, getting a bit emo-rock there but maybe the only serious choice IS to go over to the dark side some day. In the meantime the money's tight so, even a trip to the local dealer for a wee test ride is out of the question, just in case I get tempted!

10 April 2010

Mini explorations on the Vespa

My wife left me. She took away the kids and left me all alone.

I’m dead serious, although that was last summer. We just had our third child and my wife was aching to go home to beautiful and sunny (but smoggy) Malaysia. We hadn’t been home in over three years before then so, to maximise her stay back home we devised a plan whereby my wife and kids would go home a month or so, in advance of my own visit. Obviously, she didn’t leave me, leave me. How could she? Heh.

Anyway, what would a man do to occupy all this time without the wife and kids around?

With all due respect to the wife and kids, loads of course! Well, at least loads of things that didn’t involve spending a bucketful of money (the recession had officially kicked-in when I was told I was getting a 10% pay cut). To cut a long story short, one of the things involved exploring the area around where I live in even more detail.

Allow me to explain, I’m sure like me, lots of you out there must have wondered:

Where does that lane just off the normal route to work lead to?

And, like me, either never had a chance to look into it or never thought twice about it again. Well, with no wife and kids to go home to, a bit of exploration was at the top of my agenda.

This then conveniently brings me to a spot I “discovered” on one of my explorative jaunts on the way back from work-Farmleigh House and Estate. I had heard of the place from my next-door neighbour before but for some reason or another, I never did take her seriously. Until last summer that is.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the place. It was as if someone had gone off to a more rural part of Ireland, plucked it right out of the ground and dropped it right at the edge of Phoenix Park. I get the feeling that the OPW and people in general want to keep this place to themselves. As an example, I’ve been told that road signage in Ireland is bad but, in Farmleigh House’s case it’s almost non-existent.

It’s like a nicer version of Area 51, without the tumbleweed, government experiments and UFOs.

Unfortunately, by the time we got back from Malaysia, the place was closed. The place closes from September and only re-opens in the spring. I can only assume that my wife was a little bit annoyed to hear me yapping on about this place knowing full well that she won’t be able to see it at all for at least another six months!

Well, we eventually made it there as a family last weekend and it didn’t disappoint. The kids enjoyed all the open space and were amazed to see the cows, horses, ponies and donkeys on the grounds, smack bang in the middle of Dublin. There was also a good Farmer’s Market as well as a Plant Fair if the adults fancied spending some hard-earned cash. We missed out on the Magic Show, story-telling and seeing that it was Easter Weekend, there was also an Easter Egg Hunt. We’ll take note of this year's experience so we don’t miss out on these activities next year.

08 April 2010

The New 2010/2012 Liverpool Jersey: Kit Unveiling

So, the unveiling of the all-new Liverpool 2010/2012 kit finally happened earlier today. At 12am BST to be exact. Woohoo!

What do you think?

Personally, my first impression was that Adidas just got lazy, used their standard template and applied Liverpool colours. Then I looked more closely. The jacquard design although not entirely new, does add to that retro feel while the collar is a nice thick band which is always comfy and a feature that I've always liked on football shirts (I think it makes my face look less fat or something). Plus, the shirt does look good on the players.

My only complaint would be that annoying gold piping on the shirt. Seemingly it adds "class" to the design but I think the only thing it does is that it actually accentuates love handles and beer bellies on the fans. It might look good on Torres, Gerarrd and co. but seriously, we're not all super-fit athletes, you know.

Also, I'm glad they opted for the plain white Standard Chartered as opposed to the green and blue logo that's been floating about on the net. The "shadowed" bit in grey is quite a nice touch as well. Not ground-breaking stuff but then again, it's just the sponsors logo.

Whatever it is, like most Liverpool fans around the world, I just can't wait for my ordered shirt to arrive in the post this May.

My only worry now is that the shirt does come across as a slim-fitting design. So, I hope I've been realistic enough when gauging my own size!

Credit also to Christian Purslow’s team for getting a good deal for the new shirt sponsorship as well as retaining Carlsberg as one of the main sponsors to the club. What the management team would not have forecasted for would be a significant increase in shirt sales in areas that weren’t actually deemed to be significant before this.

I’d say sales would increase by whopping percentages in places such as the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, Central Asia and South East Asia solely because the brewing company’s name is no longer on the new Liverpool kit. Obviously, I don’t have any inside knowledge on the club’s finances but I’m sure additional funds into the club would be most welcomed. Could just translate into one or two quality signings in the near-future?

Overall, it still looks the part as the attire for the 2010/2011 Champions. Heh. But before then, let’s hope we get through to the Europa League semi-finals by beating Benfica tonight. Now, wouldn’t that bring double joy to fans around the world?

To quote one Jamie Carragher:

...ultimately you always remember the shirts you win things in, so we'll have to win something in this.

Image: New kit pics taken from LFC's official site.

06 April 2010

Into the belly of the...hen?!

Daddy! Daddy! Wake up, Mummy wants you to go downstairs. NOW!

My 3 year old son came running into my bedroom, shouting so loud, he could've woken up the whole neighbourhood  never mind yours truly. I looked around. The sun was pretty bright at this stage. It must be mid-morning I thought.


My wife must've been so kind as to let me have a lie-in this morning. I could smell breakfast already cooking. Just what I needed. A great start to the perfect day.

Come here, Husayn. Give Daddy a kiss.

My son nodded his head but then he started running in and out of the room. I was getting a tad bit confused.
But where is it Daddy?

Where's what?

I smiled when I soon realised that my son had just mixed-up kiss with keys! We eventually got it sorted between ourselves and I headed downstairs for some hot dogs while taking a sneaky preview at lunch with some pasta.

Yes, contrary to what I've been writing about, my life doesn't revolve solely around scooters and Liverpool FC. I do have a family and kids to entertain.

So, as part of the keeping-kids-entertained-during-the-school-holidays programme, my wife and I brought them to the Trim Balloon Fiesta.

The balloon fiesta ticked the box in terms of my all-new informal policy of keeping things as local as possible. That way, I'd save on petrol and, because the places we visit are not more than an hour away, I'd save on having to dish out money for accommodation as well. Genius of sorts. Heh.

As with most outoor events in Ireland, it would have been perfect if not for the weather. Nevertheless, my family and I were determined to make it a fun day.

The highlight of the day was actually going into one of the balloons. Nope, not sitting in the basket while the thing was on the ground. That's just lame. Lser material, really. We actually went into the balloon while the crew were inflating it!

Of course, the crew or I weren't silly enough to allow me in while they pumped hot air into the balloon. That would mean a trip to the nearest burn unit for a case akin to sleeping overnight on a tanning bed. Ouch!

So, after some fun and games for the kids at the on-site funfair, we decided that it was pretty much Daddy's time. I had read somewhere that the nearby Trim Castle was used in the filming of Mel Gibson's masterpiece, Braveheart. Naturally, I was interested in taking a look at one of the stars of the film.

After taking a good look around the castle, I still couldn't figure out where the castle fit into the movie. I mean, was it used as Robert the Bruce's Edinburgh or was it used to potray medieval York? Or even Edward Longshanks' stronghold? Maybe bits of it were used for all three?

I suppose, eventually I'll found but until then, I'm just glad we made the trip to Trim with the kids.

Seriously, what's the point in travelling the world when you've not even explored your own backyard?

04 April 2010

The New 2010/2012 Liverpool Jersey

I've never owned a proper Liverpool jersey.

Oh my God! Especially for a self-proclaimed Liverpool fan such as myself. OK, I do have a repro Candy jersey (the one worn when Liverpool last one the League), a Crown Paints jersey which I got from eBay (I still doubt its authenticity) and a Toffs replica shirt from the 70's.

My 3 year old son has got more of the current Liverpool jerseys than I do. He's got the yellow 06/07 one and the 08/09 grey jersey which I personally think is the most gorgeous of the recent away kits (I've got weird tastes, I know).

The key reason why I haven't bought a proper Liverpool jersey has got to do with the name that's been plastered on the chest for the past 10 years or so. The kids version my son wears doesn't have this and rightly so. FYI, personal circumstances and beliefs dictate that I don't associate myself with the brand.

So, earlier this year, I was delighted when it was announced that the club had found new main sponsors. I was delighted because the new deal not only meant that Liverpool would finally get what it deserved sponsorship wise, it also meant that I, for the first time ever, would be able to wear a current Liverpool shirt.

OK, not that Standard Chartered are superior to Carlsberg on the morality stakes but at least, I'd be more comfortable wearing a shirt that has got credit crunch written on it rather than Hey, let's go for a pint!

It would take too long for me to explain so, let's just leave it at that.

What won't take me too long to explain is that the new kit has been available to pre-order on the official online shop for about a week now. So, out came the credit card and straight to the shop I went.

I was just about to finalise the order when I realised that I had to have a player's name at the back of my shirt.

Which player's name would have the honour of being stuck to my sweaty, hairy back for at least the next two years or so? I'd be tempted to go with the crowd and go along with the more popular choices like Gerrard and Torres.

Or, do I get my money's worth and go with longer names like Mascherano and Kyrgiakos. Maybe I'd like to show my support for some of the unsung heroes in the squad like Lucas or Kuyt? Aquilani perhaps? Even Pacheco?

At the moment, I think I'd go with the one player that epitomises Liverpool more than any other player in the squad, Jamie Carragher (plus I'd be getting value for money on the length of his name)!

Anybody have any other suggestions? I think I'd have until somewhere around May 8th before the shirts get finalised anyway so, all suggestions would be welcomed (whatever the reason).

Until then, I can't wait until that day finally arrives, whatever the name on the back says.

Jersey image: Nicked from the official online shop site. No, the jersey won't be black and the one I'm getting is the long-sleeve version, not the short-sleeve.

Jerseys aside, Liverpool still have a game to play later today. Just as I thought Ryan Babel was turning a leaf, he goes on and gets touchy-feely with Luisao and naturally, gets sent off. Would be interesting to see whether Benitez lets him keep his starting place.

Birmingham seem to be keen on taking big club scalps this season so, let's hope it doesn't turn into a penalty freak show like it did over in Lisbon. That way at least we stand a decent chance against McLeish's men.


02 April 2010

Bo's Egg Run 2010: OLHSC, Crumlin

I have to say, the best part of the Egg Run has to be errr...the run itself. In my enthusiasm to shoot a video of the scooters leaving Dun Laoghaire Pier, I got left behind but soon enough, caught up with the tail end of the convoy. Thanks to the 2 or 3 cars that made way for me to whizz by them and join in with the main group.

For some awkward reason, somewhere along the way, I stashed away my camera in the glovebox so, my sincerest apologies as I don’t actually have any pics during the run itself. Ah well, I’m sure we’ll all survive some way or another.

Although it’s been almost a week ago at this stage, the memory of having 60-70 or so scooters squeezed in the tiny lanes of the city centre honking their horns and revving their scooters is still fresh in my head. Brilliant!

It was a pleasantly strange feeling seeing the largely positive reaction of people looking at us on our scooters. There were hairdressers leaving their customers to sit half way through their hair cuts, kids gaping at the cool dudes on their cool machines (or old farts trying to act cool!), tourists busily clicking on their cameras and at Capel Street, there were even one or two dodgy-looking individuals who were impressed or curious enough to come out of the dark Adult shops, just to see us!

Eventually, we all made it safely to the hospital although as mentioned by Bo and Mick during the briefing, the final destination wasn’t actually the hospital itself but a separate building which was the hospital's fundraising arm instead. Personally, it didn’t matter as the kids in the hospital were probably better off with us slightly further away from them!

Here's another few pics of scooters during the Custom Show bit to the event.

Check out the pipe on this Vespa! It's obviously a smallframe but other than that, I couldn't make out what it exactly was.

PX200 Serie Speciale. Don't know whether any of these made it to Malaysia?

I'm not too sure about my Lammies but this one was labelled as an SX200 but it looked like an Li Special to me. It was for For Sale anyway...

A nice, clean, wee Vespa 100.

Congrats to all the winners on the day and even more importantly, thanks to everyone that chipped in what they could in these hard times. A whopping €10,000 was collected for the hospital on the day!

Oh yeah, and a big thanks to Bo and the guys who made this year's run as brilliant as it was. Hope to see everyone out and about soon.

Next up on the Irish scootering calendar is the Rebel Rally 2010 which is on tomorrow actually. Promises were made to the wife and kids so, I'll be giving this one a miss. Fortunately, I think we might have something equally (if not more) interesting to  do this Easter weekend.

Hope everyone has an amazing weekend!
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