Monthly Archives: March 2009

5 days rest

That’s what it’s called on the rota …… if only! First day was Friday and
woke to find the milk in the fridge was warm and the freezer box had
defrosted itself dripping water over everything in the fridge. No time to
investigate what’s wrong yet because I promised to take the middle child
to school and see her head of year. Back from school 1 in time to go to
school 2! We’d had a letter from the school that a school nurse would
be measuring, weighing etc the children that day. Essy and I both think
that there is far too much information gathering and data held on people
in the UK. Our son is registered with a GP, has had a ‘well boy’ check
within the last 6 months, and if there were any signs of a problem we’d
take him to his doctor. Why does another computer need to duplicate
what his GP knows? So, off to his school I went and asked to see the
school nurse. I said that we’d prefer our son not to have this data
measured and recorded. She asked me why and I explained. She
nodded and then said “To be absolutely honest, I withdrew my son from
it as well”!

Next my mother, who is in her 90′s, had asked me to take her to the
opticians. I dread such requests from my mother but of course they
must be done. As I left home the words of Captain Oates came into my
head “I am just going outside and may be some time.” We left her
cottage several times and had to go back before we got to the car, I
didn’t get my purse, where’s my bag …… etc. Then I get the moaning
and groaning about my car – a Land Rover Discovery. I know it’s a high
a vehicle and if you’re old and short difficult to climb into but I bring a
caravan step for her. Therefore it’s one step up on the caravan step,
second step onto the side runner and last into the vehicle. Not really
that difficult but it takes about 10 minutes. Everything continued in this
vein and I finally got home late afternoon. OK time to check what’s up
with the fridge. It’s an integrated fridge so first it needed removing. It
didn’t take long to decide that it had died of old age so I needed to make
a distress purchase of one integrated fridge. End of the first day of rest!

Saturday morning and it’s off to John Lewis in Southampton where to my
surprise they only have two integrated fridges on display and neither of
these are stocked. Delivery around 5 working days which actually
means you wont see it until perhaps a week later. Then I remembered
that Ikea had opened nearby so it was worth a shot. Yes, they do sell
appliances and, yes, they had just what I wanted in stock and, yes, it
only took about 2 minutes to order it and receive a printed slip to
produce at the checkouts. After that downhill all the way. The place is
massive and it must have been just plain old good luck that I stumbled
upon the kitchen department so quickly. I followed the signs for
‘Checkouts’ and just kept walking and walking and walking. The place
has no windows so it’s very easy to lose orientation, at last I realised
that I was walking a very circuitous route around the store so that I’d see
everything! Finally, got out only to find that I needed to be on a lower
floor. And so the slow circuitous route following the ‘Checkout’ signs
began again. I was beginning to get very frustrated so asked an Ikea
employee (they are a rare sight on the shop floor) how much longer it
would be before I could hand over money to them – they showed me a
short cut down to the next and final floor, but it had still taken nearly 20
minutes of walking over 3 floors to get to a checkout. I’d taken the bus
into Southampton so next needed to go home and collect the Discovery
in order to collect the fridge. Did all this and got to the point at which
they notified me that there was a computer problem and the computer
controlled the crane which automatically found and retrieved things like
fridges ….. it may take an hour! They gave me a free ‘Have a coffee on
us’ token. I took this to a their Hot Dog stall where standard hot dogs
are 45p each and large hot dogs 93p each. So lunch was a large hot
dog and a free coffee. Finally got the thing home but only had time to
unpack it and plug it in, loosely slotted into its place. At least things
were now able to be kept cold.

It’s now the start of my third day of rest and after posting this I’ve got the
task of trying to remove the integrated door from the old fridge and then
fit it to the new one before completing the install. Then a trip to the
dump with the old fridge and a visit to Mother again because it’s
Mother’s Day. Will I get to rest tomorrow?

PS The lad has just said “Sorry, Dad. The light switch pull cord in the bathroom just came away in my hand” Of course it broke with the light on so that’s another little job which needs fitting into today.

Driving standards

Today I’ve been on a one day course which is part of the CPC (Certifcate of Professional Competence) as required for all holders of a PCV (Passenger Carrying Vehicle) licence. The day was spent covering defensive driving and hazard recognition and how to avoid hazzards. By chance I’d seen this video only last night. The video is taken by a forward facing camera in a Police car which is chasing a motorcycle at up to 150 mph on a section of the main road between Exeter and Newton Abbot; not even a motorway. The motorcyclist deserves every second of his 10 month jail sentance. And, to my mind, so does the driver of the Police vehicle! Do you know how far a car travels in 1 second at 150 mph? 75 yards!!! I’ve been trying to find out the stopping distance at 150 mph and it’s just not covered anywhere. The nearest I could get was the stopping distance from 100 mph which is 207 yards.

Now watch the video and see the Police car UNDERTAKE a camper van at 135 mph!! The camper vans brake lights are illuminated so the driver is obviously aware of something. How can the driver of the Police car have reasonable confidence that the camper van driver wont swerve into the inside lane where it should be?

How can it possibly be safe for the Police car to overtake, at 56 mph, on a blind right hand bend with double white lines on the road?

I can see no justification for this pursuit. If the Police driver had backed off I think it unlikely that the biker would have continued at 150 mph for long. As it is the Police driver was as reckless as the motorcyclist, I’m just glad that neither of them killed anyone.

15 minutes of fame

I’ve yet to achieve what Andy Warhol predicted in 1968 for everyone. However, I did manage about 4 minutes on BBC1 yesterday. Dom’s on the Case of Cars showed my cycle and train journey to work, collection of my bus from the Winchester yard and then me driving off into the darkness. A liitle later it in the programme they showed the trip with a trailer attached to the bike so that I could collect a 25kg bag of chicken feed. They didn’t edit out the bit where I implored my heart to keep beating after cycling home!

Here’s my bit in the programme. All the filming was done by Dan Zafer.

Dom’s on the Case of Cars

I wrote about how our road had been chosen by the BBC to be the first car free street in Britian here. And how the filming was done over a week and included both me and my family. Well, it going out daily on BBC1 at 09:15 – 10:00 starting on Monday. Here’s one of the pictures I posted of me talking with Dominic Littlewoood.


Too much loose change and the giggles

It was just before 09:00, I’m running late because the traffic is awfull, and the young lady asks for a Megarider (a weekly Winchester city ticket costing �10). Great, these are quick and easy to deal with since it’s always a �10 note handed over, or just occasionally two fivers. At this point she tips the entire contents of her purse into the cash tray! Apart from three 50p coins everything else is 20p’s, 10p’s or 5p’s. “You are joking?” I say. “It’s OK, it’s all there, �10″ she says. I’m late already and now I’m feeling really pissed off so to hell with it I’ll make ‘em all even later and start to count the coins. It takes several minutes with the young lady watching and everyone else wondering why the bus hasn’t moved off. Finally I’m able to announce “That’s �9.20, may I have another 80p please?”. “I don’t have anymore” was the young lady’s reply. I told her that I couldn’t sell her a �10 ticket for �9.20, either she couldn’t use the bus or maybe she should buy a single into town. She agreed to buy the single which was �1.50. I immediately grabbed the 3 x 50p coins and left her to scoop up the tons of stuff left in the tray.

And on the next run I get a fit of the giggles! A rather large lady started to board at the Railway Station, she somehow got her walking stick between her legs, tripped, and fell onto the bus most unceremonially. She hit the floor pretty hard. I couldn’t get out of the cab to help since she was jamming the door shut. But she got up and proclaimed that she was fine. “Where are you going I asked?” finger poised over the ticket machine. “The Hospital, please” she said. I immediately thought to myself ‘Is that a revised destination or was that her original destination?’ :-)

A commotion in the garden

I’m on a day off today and was in my study booking what will be our next holiday, the Canary Islands at the end of April, when I heard a lot of noise from the garden. I went out into the garden to see what was up and the chickens were shouting their beaks off! On the other side of the garden from them were three magpies in a tree also shouting at the top of their voices. I wondered where the cat was because my first thought was that the magpies were going for the cat (they’ve done that before) and maybe the chickens were joining in for fun. Then in the shrubs between the two sets of birds there was a lot of flapping which I couldn’t really see what it was and some feathers flying into the air! Next thought was that a daytime fox had got a chicken. But my chickens are brown and these feathers were grey. More flapping in the shrubs and then out into the open comes a pigeon with a Sparrowhawk clinging onto its back. Amazing! I find myself 6 feet away and I’m staring at what I’m seeing and the Sparrowhawk is staring at me. Its golden eye with black pupil is staring at me trying to read my mind ‘Does the upright want this pigeon or can I keep it?’. I didn’t move which I guess told the Sparrowhawk I wasn’t going to go away. Eventually it let go of the pigeon and flew off.

Here are two pictures, the first I found on the internet and what’s what would have been happening in my garden if I hadn’t gone out there. The second is of the pigeon which still hasn’t flown off – I show it because its taken from the exact spot I was stood on when the Sparrowhawk was there – that’s how close I was.