Time to let go ……

Well it’s been almost three weeks now and with each passing day, we have to face the inevitable – Kelly, our faithful stray dog isn’t coming back.

On the evening of the 4th January, Kelly had played enthusiastically along with the other dogs and threw down his evening meal with gusto. Later he’d returned to his bed by the front door – and that was the last we saw of him. Thursday morning he was nowhere to be seen, we thought he’d be somewhere down the woods or in a nice little sun-trap warming himself, no big deal. But when we came back from shopping later that afternoon, he wasn’t there, in the middle of the gateway doing his usual hoppy-wiggly dance, proud as punch that we’d bought him some new stuff to eat, nor was he merrily snoring away in his bed. As the penny dropped, we had a search round the buildings – nothing. It was going dark now, so we could do nothing more until morning. And so the concern set in.

Over the following days, we searched fields, hedgerows and woodlands. We phoned neighbours and talked to a shepherd tending his flock a few fields away. Nothing, he’d simply vanished. During this time, the ‘what-if’ questions begin to make an appearance.

“He was about 15 years old the vet guessed, what if he’s had a heart attack or something.”

“That shepherd has some BIG dogs, what if he got too close in the night, could they have got him?”

“Has he strayed all the way over to the main road? What if he got hit, could he be lying on the verge somewhere?”

And so it goes on, an ever decreasing circle of fruitless thoughts that inevitably won’t bring him back or give us any piece of mind. A wholly depressing cycle to break out of and something we had to tell ourselves when we spotted each other inevitably starting down this dark and destructive path.

Over those three weeks we’ve watched the temperature plummet and the snow fall and each and every day we’ve missed him. At first, his bowl was filled each evening and each morning the contents remained, a dull and listless reflection of its former freshness, a reflection of our feelings and like a child restless for Santa’s visit on Christmas night, so we too sleep fitfully wondering if he’ll visit us under the veil of darkness.

Now, the bowl has been washed and put to one side, just in case. Somehow putting it away is like admitting defeat, that he won’t be back, that we’ve given up on him. So it sits on the drainer, ready.


Kelly came to us out of nowhere, a bag of bones wobbling unsteadily in the garden. I don’t think he had the energy to move on – it was us or nothing. His left eye resembled a bleached Ping-Pong ball and the injury to his neck looked severe and  old, he’d experienced something awful, survived and made it here.

Over the three and a half years he was here, he suffered twice more with the remnants of those injuries and in 2010 suffered the further indignity of losing one of his back feet to a farmer’s unshielded mower blade. For six weeks I tended to him, four times a day. Of course he pulled through and seemed to blossom all the more! Even on three legs he could out-run the other dogs appearing like a canine ‘where’s Wally’ everywhere you looked, hill-top or valley floor. He always seemed to be there looking back at you, waiting for his photograph.

His temperament was the best I’ve seen in a dog, ever-alert and quick to raise the alarm of approaching strangers,  yet inquisitive and gentle with everyone – person or animal. When he needed treatment, although the pain must have been unbearable, he never cried or lashed out …… something the vet was amazed at. He wasn’t always on his best behaviour though, he had a sneaky habit of trying to commando-crawl through the hatch into the chicken pen to nick eggs and his periodic 4 a.m. barking marathons from the valley below were a particular turn-off!

But ultimately we had the most fantastic time together and we can only hope that the end – if there was an end, came quickly and painlessly. If not, we wish him well wherever he is.

He came out of nowhere, I guess it’s fitting he went back that way.

G’night Kelly-boy wherever you are.

A mouse in the works

What with the mild winter and the vastly improved road surface, I’ve been lucky enoughAprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid good times! to use the Capo far more than previous winters. That has meant the Range Rover languishing in the corner. And that has been the cause of yet more trouble.

One man’s car is another mouse’s home, especially when it sits day-after-day slowly dropping to its bump-stops and enticing grass and weeds to grow through the wheels. So muncher-mouse duly set up home under the battery compartment lid and made a comfy nest – from the bonnet liner, cable insulation and some hoses!

The car still started and ran, but what a mess! So I served the little darling an eviction notice (waved a big fluffy chicken!) and took stock of the damage. All this meant a trip to town for spares, so on an obscenely sunny afternoon, I took the Capo for a whiz around Pescara.

Long-story-short, I got the bits I needed AND luck would have it, I got the last bit of aluminium chequer-plate (on sale!!) to finish off the capo pannier lid modifications I started a couple of years ago. I already had the marine grade stainless steel tie-down points and hardware on the shelf, but the plate just seemed to get forgotten each time we’d been in-store.

So the Range Rover got shiny new cables and pipes and the Capo got the topbox make-over I’d waited aeons to get around too. All-in-all, a tidy result.

Oh and the mouse? Last I heard it was doing impressions of a dog whistle at Mouseville!

Bye bye Shorai

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid - Shorai and Yuasa batteriesLet me start by saying that the Shorai is NOT a bad battery, it’s just not the right battery it seems for a large capacity V-twin. Yesterday, after persisting with it for several months, I finally admitted defeat – one last baulked start tipped me over the edge. I wanted, no, yearned for the comfort of the old and heavy lead-acid battery and its reliable starts-every-time performance.

So is it a faulty battery then?

The simple answer is no, but it is a battery that seems to be very temperature sensitive. With ambient temperatures over 15c I had no problems, but now with the temperatures waving between 3 and 15c it’s a different story. Stalled starter, slow starts and engine stalling several times before it runs reliably – all after a 5 minute wait while endeavoring to ‘wake’ the battery by burning off some current with the lights on (Shorai recommendation).

The battery was only ever charged on the bike or with the Shorai BMS-01 charger and over the last week or so I conducted a few tests on it. In a nutshell, this is a 6AHr battery that performs like an 18AHr – when warm. In truth it seems to perform more and more like the 6AHr battery it is as the temperature drops, the bottom line is that its internal resistance is very variable and removes any advantage the battery has at low temperatures.

Frankly it’s all too fiddly and unreliable. Of course I can only comment on one battery on one large CC Aprilia, it may be far more successful running  smaller or 3/4 cylinder motors. My guess is that this battery will find its niche in the enduro/track-day sector and not necessarily be suitable in its current form for four-season street riders.

I’m really disappointed this didn’t work out but pleased that Jim at AMI has taken everything I’ve said on board and is even now in constant communication with Shorai to try to improve the product. Let’s hope a Mk3 version is just around the corner.

Hyperpro ho ho!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid - Hyperpro rear springIf you do nothing else to your Capo this year, do this. Fit a Hyperpro spring, you won’t be sorry! The RR got this upgrade back in September and frankly it’s been smiles ever since. To top it off, Jan and I recently took the RR shopping … not in itself the most interesting of pastimes, but it’s how the Capo fared that was the real eye opener.

This was the first time I’d run two-up and with full luggage, 52Kg of luggage to be exact – and I didn’t have to adjust the pre-load. The bike took everything in its stride, including the obscene gale force winds that brewed up in the afternoon. It was also a real pleasure that the side stand could still be extended and retracted while fully loaded something that was impossible with the old spring, while using the center-stand doesn’t induce a popped hernia anymore. Absolutely fantastic! Excellent, balanced suspension with good ground clearance maintained …. can’t be bad for £80!

Hyperpro spring fitted – typical side stand clearance with the bike upright

Unloaded: 70mm    Rider only: 50mm    Rider+pillion+50Kg luggage: 20mm