Photoshoot

So with the Spider semi-run-in, a nice day forecast and a model friend, Miss Pixie, staying and shooting with us at ours, it seemed rude not to give the Spider a good clean and then go and take some photos.

We had planned a Thelma & Louise theme to the shoot, but as it turned out it was far too windy for that, sadly, so we opted for getting Ali and Pixie to pose in and around the car anyway. Thank goodness for heated seats too…

As it turned out, the car looked just as beautiful as they did:

2048-rhmp-2464 2048-rhmp-2389-2 2048-rhmp-2445 2048-rhmp-2406 2048-rhmp-2421 2048-rhmp-2424

Special Delivery

It’s arrived – well, a week ago, but I was in Malta on holiday and then away in the Netherlands on business – so I finally managed to pick up the Abarth 124 Spider this morning from MotorVillage Marylebone.

Roof Down Sitting Pretty Side View Roof Up Side View Roof Up Vettura Numero Sessantanove Rear View, Roof Up

And it’s lovely! Pretty car! A really throaty burble too. Hit the Sport switch and in the wet conditions just as we’d collected it, it was keen to go a little sideways – very controllably. As demanded by friends, we had the theme from the Italian Job playing as we headed down Park Lane and homeward past Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament.

It’s now all set up for my gadgets and my stuff is in the stash areas, some of which are hidden from view which is a nice touch.

Planning is already under way for a mountain-based Eurothrash in 2017: with the Alps again like last year in the MX-5 or the Pyrenees like I visited on the ZRX.

Order! Order!

So having expressed an interest in buying an Abarth 124 Spider, I signed up to see if I could attend a proper test drive session: not just a quick trip around the block, especially as my local Abarth dealer is based in central London!

I put £1,000 down as a deposit and was told initially that I might be able to get one at the end of September 2016 in my chosen specification: San Marino 1972 Black and not in the Heritage trim (i.e. no matt black bonnet or boot like you see in the promo videos) as I don’t think that metallic and matt blacks would go well together. The option pack that was coming with was the Bose speaker upgrade so I was pleased with that.  A few days later, I was told Abarth UK would be in touch about a proper drive: a track session at Silverstone. That was the good news. The bad news was that they’d also accepted an order for the same car at the same time. The better news was they had another San Marino 1972 Black non-Heritage coming in sometime around the end of October/November with the Bose pack but also with the Visibility pack (rain sensors for wipers, and lights, rear parking sensors, automatic LED headlights and daytime running LEDs), so the price went up but at least I had one lined up, subject to a satisfactory hoon as I was worried about such a little 1,4L engine after the (officially-rated) 2.6L engine in my RX-8 R3.

I was going to be at some friends’ wedding over the weekend of 6/7 August and they managed to fit me on Sunday 7th in the afternoon on their weekend at Silverstone.

After a lap in the LHD version driven by the instructor, we swapped seats and off I went. Within a couple of laps I was drifting the Spider: really controllable and sounding lovely with the Monza exhaust!

Image courtesy of Abarth UK Abarth 124 Spiders in Pitlane Abarth Badge Vintage Abarth 124 Spider Image courtesy of Abarth UK Abarth 124 Prototype Test Drive at Silverstone Me Chasing Down a Competizione at Silverstone Vintage Abarth 124 Spider

This made up my mind so the next question was finalising the finances, including the part-exchange of the RX-8 and transfer of its personalised numberplate, 2000 RM.  I’d also been told that they’d had an updated delivery date of the end of September again for mine as well.

So I went into the dealer, Motor Village Marylebone, to sign the papers and drink their coffee and the deal was done!

Berlin Marathon – Photos and Video

So I ran my first marathon on 27 September 2015: the 42nd Berlin Marathon. Despite having done very little real preparation – you can see my running diary in earlier entries – I finished it in 5 hrs 27 minutes and 23 seconds. This time was engraved on the back of my medal which also shows the world record time set last year, just to rub it in! Anyway, here’s some video of me finishing as well as some of the photos on the course:

Relieved Happy finisher Richard and Alison Crossing the line Approaching the finish Approaching the finish 347374_206011965_XLarge En route Keep on running

Berlin Marathon – Photos and Video

So I ran my first marathon on 27 September 2015: the 42nd Berlin Marathon. Despite having done very little real preparation – you can see my running diary in earlier entries – I finished it in 5 hrs 27 minutes and 23 seconds. This time was engraved on the back of my medal which also shows the world record time set last year, just to rub it in! Anyway, here’s some video of me finishing as well as some of the photos on the course:

Relieved Happy finisher Richard and Alison Crossing the line Approaching the finish Approaching the finish 347374_206011965_XLarge En route Keep on running

December So Far…

Well November ended on a high: whilst up in Norfolk for the weekend, I took Amy – Jack baled out at the last moment – to see London Grammar play the Open in Norwich and very good they were too (as expected).

Hannah Reid of London Grammar at the Open, Norwich
Hannah Reid of London Grammar at the Open, Norwich
London Grammar at the Open, Norwich
London Grammar at the Open, Norwich

I was also impressed in particular by one of the support acts: Josh Record, who may or may not use my suggestion of “Geoff” for the title of their presently unnamed track. Or not.

Josh Record at the Open, Norwich
Josh Record at the Open, Norwich

Tuesday of the following week and I was back off to Canada; Toronto this time to speak at a major exhibition (people actually had to pay to see me speaking). This time, it was a morning flight so I arrived at lunchtime EDT . Straight from the Airport via our offices to check the venue out for the following day, then off to the hotel to do a quick shower and change and back out for the evening: dinner at the Toronto Maple Leafs where their top player, Phil Kessel, celebrated his career 200th goal after scoring against the San Jose Sharks. Very enjoyable evening.

Toronto Maple Leafs v San Jose Sharks
Toronto Maple Leafs v San Jose Sharks

Wednesday and it was up early for breakfast and meeting colleagues before heading down to the convention centre to do my thing. A quick drink afterwards – bought for me by an ex-pat British lawyer (I didn’t have time to get her name) – then off to the airport for the red-eye to Heathrow.

Friday I had the day off: I was heading down to Gloucester for the PurplePort social. Great fun with lots of drink and chat: Katra was memorable for touching my face all evening looking for (non-existent) plastic surgery scars and Ali was memorable for not falling out of her corset despite all odds!

After breakfast, I headed back to London … via Bourton-on-the-Water where I lived when I was a little boy and we’d come back to the UK from Malta. I’d been taught our address parrot-fashion as we all do with our kids, so I popped it in to Waze on my iPhone and headed there. It was still as I remembered it, bar the houses that had been built behind the bungalow. Off into the village centre which was as I remembered it for a coffee and a walk around.

Fosse View
Fosse View
Selfie in Bourton
Selfie in Bourton

More of the same the following week – another seminar to give in London – and then the following week was fabulous, starting with the Placebo gig at Brixton on Monday 16th with GT. Really, really good they were too and it was nice to see GT after a few weeks.

Placebo at the O2 Academy, Brixton
Placebo at the O2 Academy, Brixton
Placebo at the O2 Academy, Brixton
Placebo at the O2 Academy, Brixton

Later that week, in Crawley at a Client’s, I dropped the RX-8 off at the nearby dealer to see if they could sort out the headlight washers: hitting a pheasant at {cough} MPH had split and lost the thick hose that feeds the headlight washers. They have had to order-in the hose which will be a massive £380 fitted! Expensive car, this one. Then back on Thursday evening for the company Christmas Dinner Cruise along the Thames, during which I gave a younger colleague a pep-talk about his forthcoming new baby and how he shouldn’t envy my lifestyle. He didn’t go home that night, apparently. So much for mentoring…

Friday I had the afternoon off as a friend, NT, was coming to stay at mine for the weekend. I picked her up from the railway station and we stopped off at London Bridge to pick up my car from the office where I’d left it overnight. As it was a lovely day, I took her up the Shard – fnarr! – before heading home. A lovely steak at Gaucho that evening. Saturday she wanted to do some shopping for her kids so we went up to Camden; tapas and t-shirts. Saturday and it was off to Le Pont de la Tour for dinner from their tasting menu. Excellent nosh.

NT at Tower Bridge
NT at Tower Bridge

Then into the Christmas Week: Christmas Eve was peculiar as due to the storms that hit the UK, I was one of the first into the office and it remained that way until mid-morning when just a few made it in. Drinks and snacks at the pub and then home. Christmas Day and I’d been invited to GT’s for what was a lovely Christmas Dinner including her fabulous Cheesy Chestnut Roast. Feeling bloated, I headed home to an early night before heading up to Norfolk for Boxing Day and the first of two defeats this week for Norwich City.

New Year’s Eve beckons now – after a shoot I have planned tomorrow with Marlyn Lindsay – and my plans include a possible NYE at Slimelight. I did wonder about grabbing a last-minute flight to Moscow to see the New Year in with Manuel and Angelo (friends from Route 66) but flights are stupidly expensive for what would be a one-night stay!