Archive for the 'Car stuff' Category

Finding the limitations of Lycra and clip-ins

Posted by on July 22nd 2016 in Car stuff, Video (YouTube, Vimeo etc.)

The first time we met we were stuck in traffic on the Aylestone Road. The pedestrilist*, unable to overtake or undertake the pulled-over bus obstructing the cycle-lane, and unable to nip onto the pavement due to there being safety-railings, was leaning on my car's roof-rail, apparently incapable of unclipping his Tour de Leicester cycling clogs from his pedals in order to use his own feet to keep himself upright. I wound down the window and asked him to desist but he didn't. Luckily, the traffic started to move on so there was no further set-to.

About a mile or so further on the traffic had stopped again. I looked in the door-mirror and again there was a Lycra-clad someone leaning on, or about to lean on, my roof-rail. I was fairly sure that it was the same miscreant.

The car in front of mine had pulled forward a bit and had left a car's-length of space in front of mine, so I duly moved into the gap. Sir Isaac Newton and stupidity did the rest. In the rear-view mirror I saw a perfect arc of toppling torso, through the open windows I heard a crumpling noise.

From the sounds being emitted from the patch of sun-kissed tarmac behind my car, I surmised the following:

  • Lycra doesn't protect the wearer from impact;
  • Clip-ins don't clip-out very quickly;
  • My I.Q. and parentage are now questionable.

YouTube has a similar version:

*Pedestrilist: A cyclist who believes that it's OK to chop and change between using the road or the pavement according to whatever obstructions are encountered, such as prams, red lights and buses. No prior indication, life-saver look behind or consideration for others is required in order to execute such random, unpredictable and dangerous manoeuvres.

I should point out now that I have great respect for law-abiding cyclists. I just don't like selfish twats.

Third Party

Posted by on January 28th 2014 in Car stuff

I've been asked to sort out motor insurance for a relative who's not computer-savvy.

For yonks this relative has been brand-loyal to one insurance company, I won't tell you which one but I can tell you that it's well-known, palindromic and based in East Angular. The renewal letter says that the premium for the next year is a shade over £430 for a car that's valued at only £250, and that a £20 discount can be had for renewal online. That means we're working on beating a figure of about £410. See, I knew that my A-Level in Pure & Applied Maths would come in handy one day.

Anyway, back on the 'puter we plugged my relative's details into a well-known insurance-comparison site, and sat back to wait for the flood of results.

Premiums ranged from a paltry £274.77 to a whopping £1946.17!!!

Figuring that my relative would prefer to be insured through a reputable "heard of" company, and wouldn't want an online-only service, we looked at the cheapest quote supplied by a well-known company. The best suitable deal turned out to be with a popular breakdown recovery organisation. Their verified like-for-like premium would be a shade over £330. Not bad - a saving of over 80 quid.

Because we'd saved the quote on their website, they sent an email confirming the terms. In that email they kindly provided the name of the company with which they arrange the cover... yep, you've guessed it, it's the current insurer.

Now I'm no business guru but I'll wager that the popular breakdown recovery organisation isn't acting as a go-between for free, so let's assume that they're on something like 10% commission, say £30 for the sake of easy maths. That makes the premium differential a tidy £110, well over 25% of the current renewal.

Or, to put it another way, the current insurer is hiking the premium by about 33% when dealing direct.

Which begs the question... why didn't the current insurer offer such a good deal as the popular breakdown recovery organisation, for what is, to all intents and purposes, exactly the same service? That failure to do so may well cost the company some business - I suspect that when I tell my relative about how the current insurer's premiums vary so much depending on the supplier, brand-loyalty may well go out of the window.

No Meerkats were harmed in the production of this post.

7 UP

Posted by on May 9th 2012 in Car stuff

Seven straight passes.

No, it's not what England need to start stringing together to win the Six Nations next year.

It's what Rab achieved today at the MOT test station.

I didn't expect a pass, I thought he'd be failed on the brake pads (he's still on the originals) but he only got an advisory for the rears.

Preventative maintenance... shelled out £275.94 for the supply and fitting of a new cambelt kit. Ouch!

But then again I did get 54k miles and 9 years out of the one that he had when new.

I can't really complain - so far he's been a great car and he owes me nothing.

And he still goes like 5h!t-off-a-stick when the need arises  😈

Premium chat line

Posted by on June 16th 2011 in Car stuff, Discounts, Rambling on...

When my car-insurance renewal docket arrived last June I was so bemused by the hiked premium that I rang the insurers to check the reasons for the increase. After I'd listened to the explanation I was put on hold [cue the music] while the assistant went in search of a supervisor, and when the conversation resumed I was offered a 10% discount which I gratefully accepted.

Anyway, one year on and this year's premium was due. I did the usual exercise of finding the best like-for-like deals via the various price-comparison sites out there on the interwebnet thingy. The results weren't good - prices are much higher this year due to interest-rate hikes, the global financial meltdown and all of the natural disasters that have led to huge insurance claims.

Eventually this year's renewal docket arrived and to be honest when I was opening the envelope I was expecting to be faced with the 10% back on AND a huge premium increase. Imagine my surprise when I found that the premium had gone up by much less than I'd been expecting! In fact, it was such a shock that I decided to break out the plastic and pay for the whole year in one hit as opposed to by DD as I usually do. I phoned the insurers to sort the details and just as I'd calculated I saved having to pay about 43 quid in credit interest. During the conversation, and with no provocation whatsoever from me, the nice lass I was dealing with said that she was going to put me on hold for a while [cue the music again]... after a few minutes she came back and offered me a discount of just over 11%.


I do realise that I'm probably not getting any preferential treatment, and that other folk who make the call will be offered discounts too, but it does make me wonder how much other folk miss out by letting their renewals go through on auto and not bothering to make that call.

My thanks go to Rhona for sorting this for me.

Two wrongs don’t make a Right of Way

Posted by on November 28th 2010 in Car stuff, LMAO!

What is it about sub-zero conditions that turns drivers into feckwits? Shortly after reading Mike's post about driving in snow and ice, I went out for a short but eventful walk into town to purchase some goodies from Tesco. We've had hardly any snow here, the roads are fairly clear but that which has fallen is now iced. Slippage wasn't a problem for me - the AKU Crodas with traction control coped with ease. For others, it was a different matter...

The fun began while I attempted the traverse of the North Face of Tesco car-park, heading for the safety of the col at the cash-machine. There are clearly-marked direction arrows and give-way marks painted on the ground, and adequate signage, to let drivers know that it's a one-way system. This system serves several purposes - for starters it eases of the flow of vehicles along the narrow lanes between the parked vehicles, furthermore it makes the place safer for pedestrians (after all, the car-park is a pedestrian area).

So, there I was crossing the tarmac when a car turns the corner, contrary to the one-way system, and heads directly towards me. I wasn't too chuffed. I waved at the driver and pointed to the arrows on the road. His response was a two-fingered greeting. As I passed his window, I said "It's a one-way system, Sir." The response was  "F*ck off!" so I did - on Sundays I can do without the hassle. He drove off, clipping my shopping-bag and scattering pedestrians in his wake.

Not 20 yards further on, the same thing happened again, this time with a wannabe rally-driver in a Scooby. Same set of responses. This time, I didn't "F*ck off", I told the bloke that he was in a pedestrian area and that, driving like he was and in such conditions, an accident was on the cards. He called me a c*nt and put his foot down, I turned and headed on my way.

Seconds later I heard the bang, the crunch and the cursing. He'd run into another car. I couldn't see which one from where I was, but I remember laughing rather too loudly and hoping that he'd ran into the first feckwit that I'd encountered. "Who's the c*nt now?", I thought.

Sweet justice.

A couple of days at Buttermere – Part 2 – Rained off

Posted by on October 31st 2010 in Car stuff, Great Escapes, Shiny new kit, YHA

It rained nearly all night and the Saturday morning was looking grim. The only folk determined to go out and hit the fell-tops were members of a group of charity walkers who we'd been talking with the previous evening and who were attempting a one-day ten-peak fund-raising epic from Gatesgarth Farm to Stool End. By the time we were up and about they were long gone. We chatted with one of their support crew who said that they'd left loads of excess supplies in the kitchen for us, so we dipped in and chose a few items and left the rest for those that came after. I've just visited their JustGiving page and it says that they had to abandon their challenge due to bad weather, in a sad way that justifies our decision to keep our kids off the fells that day.


A final look at the hostel


After another fine breakfast we packed the cars and headed up to Newlands Hause just in case anybody had a change of heart and fancied a quick jaunt up High Snockrigg, but there were no takers so we took a few pics and headed into Keswick for a mooch around:


Moss Force




We opted for an hour or so at The Bond Museum - this turned out to be much better than we'd expected. Click the following pic to open more pics in the lightbox:


Gotta get me one of these

After that we did a bit of gift-shopping, had a tea-break and browsed the wares on display at the market, but the draw of the clackysticks on offer at The Outdoor Warehouse in Windermere was too strong. We left Keswick and, after stopping for a picnic lunch at a spot overlooking Thirlmere, we hauled into the shop's car-park and headed in to do the deed. From then on we were homeward bound.

Steering committee

Posted by on June 6th 2009 in Car stuff, LMAO!, Video (YouTube, Vimeo etc.)

Clever folks, them furriners:



Cheers, Mick



Playing catch-up

The blog's now well out-of-date, so it's time to do a bit of catching up. Luckily for you lot, I'm not a stats-whore, so I'll keep things brief and cram everything into one or two posts so that there's not a pile of individual entries to wade through. Now, where to begin...?

  • After a weekend-long posting-restriction imposed by the SGL forum admin, on Monday July 14th I was banned. And yes, the ban is justified. After some unjustified comments made by some of the admin, I reacted, broke the rules and got what I deserved. My crime was to react by removing the content from some of my posts. Just mine. No posts by other members were edited by me. The official version is different, and sounds much more sinister - according to the ban screen, I am banned for "attempting to corrupt the SGL database", which is a bit like saying that I've attempted to eradicate all life from the planet just because I swatted an annoying fly in our kitchen. Luckily, there's no sign that I'll be extradited to spend the rest of my days confined to the Guantanamo Bay facility. Anyway, I deserved the ban, and I don't much care that it'll never be lifted, but at least I'll no longer be hassled by some admins who think themselves beyond reproach and who think that they never have to apologise for anything, even when they have been proved wrong. It's sad that they get the good admins (who are in the majority) a bad press.
  • Talking of things astronomical, I had a bit of a panic a while back when one of the scope mount's tracking-motors packed in. After an online chat with the retailer, arrangements were made for the defective items to be investigated and replaced. Everything's now fixed and working fine, thanks to the great customer service provided by Adam at Rother Valley Optics (retailer) and by Optical Vision Ltd. (importer).
  • There was a clear night here a week or so ago, so I set up the scope to test out the replacement motors and to let the kids have a good look at Jupiter. They were suitably impressed with the view, seeing clearly-defined cloud-bands on the planet and seeing all four of the largest moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto - the Galilean satellites, after Galileo Galilei who discovered them in 1610). After sending the kids to bed, I returned to the scope and had a reasonable visual observing session, finding M8, NGC 6530, M20, M22, Cr 399, NGC 6822 and a few others. The ISS passed over twice during the session, and there were a few meteors around. I didn't set up for imaging, so there are no pics. Since then, it's been cloudy almost every night.
  • Regarding other outdoors activities, there's precious little to report. I missed out on the Outdoors Bloggers' Dartmoor Meet because it was the weekend of my birthday and I didn't feel that it would have been right to bugger off for the weekend. Suffice to say that I got loads of nice pressies. :mrgreen:
  • I managed to fit in a drinking session with my friend Dave, who's a casualty of the recent round of redundancies at Thwaites Dumpers. He's taking it well, but there are a few folk I know from there who've been hit hard by the job cuts. I hope that they all get sorted out soon.
  • Gear-wise, I've been quite reserved about splashing the cash. I supplemented the money that I received as birthday presents in order to buy a SkyWatcher Auto Focuser from Steve at FLO, so that I don't have to faff about twiddling the knob by hand (go on, you make the puns). Even though it's not really auto (it's a motor with a control-box on a curly lead), it's a great bit of kit. Fed up with buying numerous adapters for allowing all sorts of electrical gadgets to be powered or charged in the car, we got a power-inverter so that we can just use the standard mains chargers/transformers instead. I should have bought one of these years ago - I must have spent a small fortune on car-adapters in the last few years. We had a day shopping at Go Outdoors and I didn't get any outdoors gear for myself - that must be some sort of record! Mind you, we spent a small fortune kitting out the other three for our summer holiday.
  • Blog-wise, there have been a few changes here. A few more plugins have been added, if you're interested they're listed at The blogrolls have been updated - quite a few additions, some moves and a few deletions - if you spot any cock-ups, please feel free to let me know. I've a few more changes in the pipe-line, but I'll tell you about them another time.

Well, that's all for now. There's more, but it'll have to wait for later.

A new day

Posted by on May 26th 2007 in Car stuff, Great Escapes, Rambling on..., Shiny new kit

So, what should I blog about today? So much has happened, so much is left unfinished. Let's take it one step at a time and see how it goes.

I sold my Vango TBS Tempest 200 to a nice OMer. He's got a bargain - Since I bought this one in early 2006 I've only used this one for two nights in Wasdale, aside from that it's been pitched on the lawn a couple of times and that's it. The new owner will also get a home-made GSP and some spare lightweight pegs etc.. I hope that he gets good use from the tent, it's been in captivity for far too long, it needs releasing into the wild ASAP! As a replacement I've ordered a 1-2 man tent for summer wildcamping use, not superlightweight at sub-3kg, but that's all I need. Details to follow in due course.

Bought a selection of Sea to Summit mesh sacks from WT via Amazon. The medium size ones will suffice for all sorts of stuff, the large and extra-large were bought specifically for carrying saturated tentage on the outside of the pack.

Now, don't laugh, but I bought a JML Magnicard. When I'm "on the hill", I take my specs but never wear them, primarily because I don't really need them. Besides, they're forever steamed up or frosted over, so they are a waste of time, but I've always carried them for those map-reading moments. But from now on they can stay back at base, as the Magnicard is excellent for map-reading. It's the size of a credit-card, gives a clear view and it's got an integral light which is perfect for night-time mapwork. It weighs a paltry 10g, that's a lot less than my specs + case.


Well, Rab's been fixed, he's been back with me since Thursday. The repair work is excellent, credit to Paynes Ford for that. Mind you, SWMBO is a relative of the founder, so if I didn't get good service I would have to send her in to get matters sorted! The courtesy-car company still haven't collected their Rav4 yet, so we're overrun with vehicles here.


I've been out with the hedge-trimmers again! All 60 yards of the privet boundary have been given a "short back and sides". The remaining 50 yards of boundary are fenced, so I'll have to spend a couple of days renewing my acquaintance with my creosote brush very soon. As for the plants, well, that's a mixed bag... the herb border is flourishing, the wild native plant area is, well, wild as would be expected, but the French Beans aren't showing at all. Mind you, that's the French for you, they either turn up late or not at all 🙂


Me and OM are no longer together. It's a shame, really, because there are so many people on there who I call friends, and some of them even reciprocate! Anyway, the reasons for my departure are plain for those who are willing to look, so I don't need to go into depth on here, let it suffice to say that a known antagonist was the source of irritation, but moderation (which I requested) was inadequate and as a consequence the matter was allowed to get out of hand. That was the straw that broke this camel's back.
Hmmm... so I'm a "weak willed, pathetic individual", according to the antagonist. Or did I see the true situation, assess it properly and then have the courage of my convictions to take an appropriate course of action? Who can say? It was certainly harder to leave that it would have been to stay.

What's next?

We're off to Okehampton next week for a YHA Family multi-activity break. Sadly, mountain-biling (stet), cross-training and rowing aren't on the activity list!

Rab’s stunt-double arrives at BG Towers

Posted by on May 9th 2007 in Car stuff

The nice people who supply courtesy cars on behalf of my insurance provider phoned yesterday to say that they would be delivering a car of "similar size and performance" to Rab, my poorly Octavia vRS estate. "A Ford Mondeo" was what they said I would get. A few hours later, they turned up and handed me the keys to this:





I might just let the good people on OM know about this, seeing as they all like 4x4s 😉

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