06 May 2013
The Sherpa is a reasonable size for a single person, despite being billed as a 3-man tent, but then they always seem to assume that people are happy to squash in like sardines and don't have any luggage. However, I have to say that it is possibly the worst tent I have ever owned. Despite my best efforts, and the efforts of several friends, I have never managed to get this tent to go up without some difficulty and, once erect, it has never been 'square'. It always seemed to bulge out to one side and no amount of adjustment would put it right. I have broken four poles on it, and the inner tent ripped on the very first use. I am convinced that the poles are actually too long, as one needs the strength of Geoff Capes to get the blasted things into their respective holes. Indeed, after a few pole breakages, a friend replaced the broken sections and made them an inch shorter, which did help quite a bit, but I am still very unhappy with the tent. The doors are a stupid design, a pain to negotiate and if it's been raining, as soon as you open a door, a sheet of water pours into the porch. It also leaks at the bedroom end. When unzipping the bedroom door in the morning, condensation drips into the bedroom and all over your dossbag. I keep the Sherpa in a holdall, because its original bag split the very first time I used it.
Anyway, with a new rally season upon us, I decided that I'd had enough of fighting with the Sherpa, and bought myself a new tent, a Vango Omega 350.
The Omega's pack size is much smaller and lighter than the Sherpa and I can get the Omega into my topbox, which means that if, necessary, I could carry a pillion to a rally, although I have no plans to make a habit of that.
I used the Omega for the first time this weekend and it was superb. It was quick and easy to erect and the lightweight alloy poles are so much better than the fibreglass ones. Despite the smaller pack size, the tent is much bigger, being taller, wider and longer. The pole sections are shorter than with most tents, which is why the pack size is smaller. The tent comes with a 'bucket' groundsheet which clips into the porch so that it doesn't slide around. If there's one thing I don't like about it though, the groundsheet clips are so strong that I couldn't get them undone again. Three of my friends had a go at it and only one of them could undo them, and he hurt his thumbs doing so. I intend to put some mini carabiners on instead, so that I have a fighting chance of removing them myself.
The O-shaped bedroom door is a great design. It can be unzipped from the top or the bottom, which makes me happy; I like to unzip it from the top, but I couldn't do that in the Sherpa, because the zip only worked from the bottom.
Although it rained during the night, the inside of the tent remained as dry as a bone, both bedroom and porch. There's lots of pockets down either side of the inner tent, big enough to hold my torch and other bits and bobs. Other great features are the tension bands, which are designed to stop the tent bowing in high winds, the way that the bedroom door fits into a pocket to keep it out of the way when it's open and, best of all, the tent can be packed away with the inner tent still attached, making pitching quicker next time.
When it was time to put the tent down, I anticipated a battle to get it into the bag, yet it went in very easily. Well, it did the second time I tried, once I removed my lantern from the bedroom. Oops.
So, all in all, I love the Omega. I hope to have many happy camping trips in it. I should have bought a Vango in the first place; they've always had a superb reputation for quality and they are very good value for money.
28 April 2013
I actually wonder if some of this second-lane-hogging could constitute 'driving without due care and attention', because at least two of them were on mobile phones, one had his finger so far up his nose that he could probably have scratched the back of his own eye, and another was gripping the steering wheel for grim death and staring straight ahead with a grimace that could frighten the devil himself.
25 April 2013
This is a 'Give Way' sign. What it means is 'Give Way', not 'put your foot down and drive straight at any vehicle coming the other way'.
This is also a 'Give Way' sign. What it means is 'Give way to oncoming vehicles', just in case you can't tell from the words 'Give way to oncoming vehicles' written under the nice little picture.
Just in case you aren't aware, this is a sign 'giving an order'. It is not a 'give way if you feel like it, but don't bother if you're in a hurry'; it is a legal requirement: Laws RTA 1988 sect 36 & TSRGD regs 10(1),16(1) & 25. It's there to stop you crashing into people.
This also applies to drivers travelling through Chew Moor and Lostock, where driving standards seem to be particularly poor. If your side of the road has parked cars on it and there isn't enough room for two cars to pass each other safely, don't just drive at the oncoming vehicles, giving their drivers dirty looks for having the audacity to have the right of way. Wait ten seconds for the road to clear, and then go.
Where there's a 20mph speed limit, it's there for a reason, rather than to annoy you personally. Obey it and stop tutting at those who do obey the law. More so, don't overtake them in anger and then nearly run into an oncoming bus, like the idiot I saw last week.
27 February 2013
Giles Coren, writing in The Times, sums it up extremely well:
"What on earth did you think they put in them? Prime cuts of delicious free-range, organic, rare breed, heritage beef, grass-fed, Eton-educated, humanely slaughtered, dry-aged and hand-ground by fairies with a pinch of pink Murray River salt and a twist of black pepper?
"Jesus, no. At those prices (you pay only £1 at Tesco for a cheeseburger complete with bun, cheese and a portion of fries), I’d have thought a mouthful of Shergar is the least of your problems.
"Listen to the product name. When your first three words are “frozen”, “everyday” and “value”, that means almost by definition that the fourth word (in this case, randomly, “beef”) is to be taken with an armful of Maldon.
"It’s only 29 per cent horse, for God’s sake. What do you think the other 71 per cent is? It’s sure as hell not from a beef cow I would eat. Nor the bits of it you want to think about either. At that price, you’re into scrotum, eyelid, foreskin, lungs, mechanically reclaimed connective tissue ... the sort of scrapings from the abattoir floor that could only be improved by a nice bit of horse’s arse."
Tesco is now announcing that they will start to sell more British meat, rather than imported from abroad. That makes me happy, not only because it will be supporting British farmers, but also because it will reduce the number of 'food miles', reducing the environmental impact. I never did think it was sensible to transport animals and meat thousands of miles from abroad when there's plenty here in the UK already. For some supermarkets, though, it's already too late. The Vegetarian Society reports that it has had a massive increase in the number of 'hits' on its website, and omnivores are abandoning the supermarket meat shelves in favour of local butchers, where the butcher knows exactly where the meat has come from. Hopefully, this will lead to a revival of our dying high streets.
For the past couple of decades, the general public has sleepwalked into a trance when it relates to shopping. So many people just go to the supermarket and buy all of their produce there because that is what they have been trained to do. Everything under one roof, convenience, free parking and supposedly cheap prices have duped people into forgetting that other shops exist, and all the while, the prices have slowly risen and most people have just accepted it.
Not me. I stopped shopping in supermarkets several years ago, because I realised that most of the food products they sold were just expensive rubbish. On the very rare occasions I do go into my local supermarket, I usually have a look at the 'reduced' shelf, to see if there's anything worth having. It's very rare that there is. I look at some of the items there and think "That is a product I would NEVER buy; in fact I wouldn't even take it if it was being given away for free", for example the ready made burger-in-a-bun, to be heated in a microwave. Even thinking about it now makes me feel nauseous. Why on earth anyone would want to buy ready-mashed potato in a plastic, film-covered tub, for heating in a microwave is beyond me. It takes only 10 minutes to boil a potato and mash it yourself, for a fraction of the cost. Just how lazy does one have to be? Not only that, but you then chuck the plastic tub in the bin, which eventually (almost always) ends up in landfill. You're wrecking the planet because you're bone idle, but that's a rant for another day.
Come on Britain. Wake up!
31 December 2012
The house over the road from me has been emitting loud bass music since 16:00 and the garden appears to be full of vacuous squealing women. People have been turning up in cars and beeping their horns because they are too bloody lazy to get out and actually talk to someone and there's a gang of teenage lads in their front bedroom who appear to be headbutting each other.
The music is so loud that even when I put my headphones on to listen to some music, the neighbours' bass beat can be heard over it. One of the other neighbours has already been round to ask them to turn it down, but there's been no noticable change.
I have, of course, whinged about this on Facebook and some of my friends have suggested that I call the Police. However, despite the fact that I am bloody annoyed, I do accept that this is probably the busiest night of the year for the Police, and a noisy party is the least of their worries. I'd rather not bother them, and let them get on with dealing with more serious matters. In the meantime, I will just sit here, quietly fuming.
All I wanted was a quiet night in on my own, a little time to sit, think and be peaceful, but now all I have are angry throughts about how inconsiderate others can be.
26 December 2012
The thought did strike me, though, that as it appears that the latest fashion is to wear one's pyjamas around town, do these people wear their day clothes in bed? Do they sleep in a shirt and jeans? It'd make as much sense.
24 October 2012
I really hate these companies. By pushing everyone into the compensation culture, they have also pushed up insurance costs for everyone, and caused more and more organisations to introduce stupid 'rules' and restrictions based upon spurious risk assessments carried out by idiots. They are nothing but greed-mongers.
Sometimes, people have to accept that the reason they tripped is because they're a clumsy oaf who wasn't looking where they were going; the reason they got scalded is because they are too stupid to know that a hot cup of coffee is, erm, hot. There's not always someone else to blame.
I'm sure that the promise of a free iPad will encourage a few more wastrels to claim, not because they have a case, but simply because they want an iPad. Those who have genuine reasons to claim will, I hope, go to reputable companies who don't need to offer free gifts to get business.
23 October 2012
According to the 'Empty Homes' website, in November 2011 there were 720,000 empty homes in England, and 930,000 in the whole of the UK, of which approximately 350,000 are long-term empty.
Why then, if there are so many empty homes, does the Government keep insisting that we need to build new homes, and is even considering relaxing the Green Belt laws in order to permit house building in our precious countryside? Surely they should be trying to fill the existing empty homes before building new ones?
I accept that many of these homes are not currently fit for habitation, but there are plenty of builders, joiners, plumbers, electricians, etc. out there whom, I am sure, would welcome the opportunity to work at putting these places to rights. Those homes which are beyond repair could be demolished and replaced with new homes on the same sites.
Only when these empty homes have been tackled, and all of the brown field sites used up, should anyone even think of debating the destruction of our Green Belt. Hopefully, it will never come to that.
Since I joined Facebook, I have been both amazed and horrified at the number of people who don't seem to be able to spell even simple words correctly. The latest such word which really raises my hackles is 'discusting'. There is no such word. Here is a simple reminder:
Discuss - to debate or consider
Disgust - to offend or sicken
03 October 2012
Yesterday, such a vehicle followed me for a couple of miles through an area with trees at the side of the road. Despite the fact it was daylight, each time the car went past one a slightly more dense clump of trees, the headlamps came on for a few seconds and then went off again. This might not have been so bad if it was a little car, but it wasn't. It was a Hummer; an unnecessarily huge behemoth of a vehicle which is totally out of place on our little country lanes and, as is common with very large vehicles, the headlamps are positioned higher up, so that the beam reflects in the rear-view mirror and then vapourises one's retinas. Oh yes, and whilst I'm ranting about it, why on earth do people still find it fashionable to have bullbars on vehicles which are never ever likely to see a bull? It's not bloody Pamplona, you know!
19 September 2012
14 August 2012
18 July 2012
The Olympic Games should promote the twin ideals of competition and fitness. Ok, three ideals, competition, fitness and health. And a spirit of international friendship. OK, four, then. Interesting to see the major sponsors of the Olympics entering into that spirit, isn’t it?
McDonalds? A major sponsor of a major sporting event promoting health and competition? Yeah, right. A global company which has expanded by shamelessly marketing junk food to one of the most vulnerable groups in society, our children, then relies on the witter factor, and that wonderful bit of human psychology, peer pressure, the need to follow like sheep, to ensure that if you don’t take your kids to McDonalds, they will feel excluded by their friends. So they grow up on a diet of McNuggets (mechanically processed chicken, mixed with a number of chemicals) and each helping providing over 60% of your daily sodium intake (the main cause of high blood pressure) and over 40% of your recommended maximum fat intake. Vitamins? You have to be joking!
And that is before you add the fries (mechanically processed potatoes, NOT even proper chips, note) and their own load of coated sugar and salt to make you crave for more. So much for the healthy. If you want to read their ingredient lists, click here.
But what of the competition? McDonalds apparently have enough financial clout to create their own chip monopoly without actually selling chips themselves. They have banned their smaller competitors from selling chips unless they are as an integral part of fish and chips. Want chips with your burger? Sorry, mate, you will have to go to McDonalds. And have fries.
I could say more about McDonalds, but I won’t. So what of the other major sponsors? On the news this morning was a piece about that purveyor of sporting goods, Adidas. They promote health, fitness and competition, don’t they? Well, not exactly. So far as I know, there are two mainstream sporting brands who market to the brand conscious. The other is Nike. Go in any McDonalds and the place is full of sporting wannabees. If they aren’t wearing England football shirts, they will almost certainly be wearing Adidas or Nike kit and, given, that the lifetime diet of supersized 'happy meals' has ensured that anything other than the most gentle exercise will probably kill them, you have got to wonder at the power of advertising and the need to follow the crowd. I would guess that the majority of branded sports kit has never been worn on the track, sportsfield or in the gym.
But this is not my point. My point is that the major sponsor of the Olympics, Adidas was reported on this morning’s news as having banned all children taking part in the opening ceremony from wearing any branded trainers other than Adidas.
Competition, fitness and health? My arse! Will I be watching the Olympic Games? No, you will find me headed in the opposite direction on two wheels. At least there will be less traffic on the roads.
04 July 2012
20 June 2012
15 March 2012
05 February 2012
31 January 2012
24 January 2012
05 January 2012
17 October 2011
- To wear bright or fluorescent clothing to make sure that they are seen during the day, especially in dull or misty weather - but remember that fluorescent clothes won’t show up after dark
- To wear reflective clothing which will show up in car headlights at night
- Plan the routes that they take to include safer crossing places
04 October 2011
30 September 2011
26 September 2011
11 September 2011
12 July 2011
From the M56 link road, there are two lanes into the car park at Terminal 1. That's the pink line on this map. One lane goes into the drop-off point and the other into the main car park. Great idea. At least it was, until some wally decided to merge the two lanes right at the car park entrance, where a third lane joins (the grey line).
So, you have three lanes, all merging into a single lane within 25 yards of the entrance to the car park,and to make it even better, there are absolutely no signs anywhere on the two-lane slip road which tells you that this is going to happen, until you get to the end and see the white arrow painted on the road surface. The resulting single lane then gives you the option of taking the left-hand entrance to the drop-off point or the right-hand entrance to the car park. Genius!
Surely it would be far more sensible to mark the left lane as being for the drop-off point and the right lane for the car park (seeing as there are two separate entrances) and then you don't need merge the two lanes at all. Oh, sorry, that would be the sensible thing to do, wouldn't it?
22 June 2011
I'm not going to tell you the story, because there's a summary on their website, but it made me laugh, it made me cry and it made me think. I was mightily impressed by the versatility of the actors, and by the clever use of the set. The whole production was superb.
I can highly recommend it, so if you live anywhere near where they're touring next, do go and see it. You won't be disappointed.
21 June 2011
How so? Well firstly, the machine yells at you in a very loud voice to "Please scan an item". So, you scan the item and before you even have chance to draw breath, it yells "Please put your item in the bag!", so you put it in the bag. However, the machine doesn't recognise the fact that you've done this and yells again "Please put your item in the bag! Please put your item in the bag! Please put your item in the bag!" until you take out the item and then put it back in again. Then it yells "Unexpected item in the bagging area, please remove the item." So you remove it and it yells at you again: "Please put your item in the bag!" So you do, and it yells "Please scan an item!"
You attempt to scan the next thing, but it doesn't recognise the bar code, so you faff around for ages to get it to scan and put it in the bag. Again, it yells "Please put your item in the bag!" - but you already have done, so it just carries on yelling at you until the assistant comes to tell the machine to shut up. By this time, you have completely lost your temper and have resorted to shouting obscenities at the machine which, being a machine, neither hears nor cares.
This morning, after such an experience, I asked the assistant if these self-service tills were just a way of avoiding having to employ more staff on the checkouts, and she told me that the staff at that supermarket hate them, and they wish that people would boycott them because they are more trouble than they are worth. They consider it a punishment if they are assigned to monitor the self-service tills because they are such a pain. I told her that if they could at least reduce the volume on the damn things, it would help, and she said that they used to be able to but the new software 'upgrade' removed that option. Great.
English Heritage said more than 18,000 revellers gathered at the prehistoric site in Wiltshire to witness the sunrise on the longest day of the year."
So that's about 0.001% of the people attending who were arrested. That's not a news story, that's just a headline to give a beautiful ceremony a bad name. Why can't people write nice headlines about these wonderful events?
09 June 2011
20 May 2011
Go on over to Lightmare and sign the petition!
I used to wonder if it was the case that bad drivers bought Volvos, or that previously reasonably-good drivers were lulled into crapness by all these devices designed to take the responsibility away from the driver.
However, given the standard of driving I've witnessed recently, I am now convinced that the Audi is the new car of choice for the crap driver. Almost every 'bad driving' incident I have seen in the past few months has involved a black Audi. Tailgating, speeding, running red lights, drivers using mobile phones, drivers not wearing seatbelts, driving up pavements because they can't be bothered to wait for the vehicle in front to turn right, taking up two parking bays in busy car parks because they are unable to park straight or overtaking motorbikes and pedal bikes and then turning across their path. The list is not exhaustive.
This morning's incident made me shudder. A bloke on a bicycle was approaching a pinch-point in the road. As he moved out to go through it, the driver of the black Audi in front of me decided he wasn't going to slow down to wait for the cyclist to go through, so he drove round the cyclist and pushed in front of him - with only about 6" longer than the car to spare. This forced the cyclist off the road and he had to stop, in order to avoid getting knocked off. The Audi driver sped off down the road without, I suspect, a backwards glance. The cyclist was clearly shaken.
Now this rant was supposed to be just about crap driving, but I've been told I also have to mention the over-dark tinted windows so you can't actually see the driver (and presumably so the driver can't see cyclists), the blinding LEDs which show you where the headlamps are, and the apparent failure of Audi to provide an off-switch for the foglamps or a functioning indicator switch. There is also my constant frustration at the inability of drivers to use a handbrake, preferring instead to keep their foot on the brake and blinding those behind them with their extra-high-intensity eye-level brake lights. Yes, I know some cars have electronic parking brakes. I hate those too, and so does everyone I know who has a car with one fitted.
I think it's about time we got rid of all of these devices and made drivers actually think and drive for themselves, and put the responsibility firmly back on to the driver, not the machine.
06 April 2011
On an amusing note, Eilish is collecting examples of the misuse of the word 'literally'. Here's a couple she's found so far:
Radio Scotland, 18 March: "My head literally began to spin at the thought of it".
Apparently George Osborne is "Literally cutting corners"
"Literally handbags at dawn"
"Stallone is literally about to explode"
Anyone got any more?
31 March 2011
I love that dog, she makes me laugh every time I see her. I don't know what's funniest, the happy look on her face as she finds something else to carry, or the exasperated look on the owners' faces as they try to extricate the latest 'find'. As soon as they've taken one thing away, the dog just picks up something else and looks ever so pleased with herself.
Personally, I think they should carry a plastic bag and let the dog pick up litter on the way home and, that way the route will gradually get tidier.