Archive for July 2007

New tent – Vango Spectre 200

Posted by on July 24th 2007 in Shiny new kit

Behold - the Vango Spectre 200. Not exactly a super-lightweight backpacking tent, but quite good for less than 63 notes delivered.

It's been pitched in the back garden for the last 6 nights, not quite camping in the wild but it's the best I can manage at the moment 🙁 Mind you, the weather's been dire during that time, 20cm of rain has fallen and there have been some tree-felling winds.

Anyway, it's quite black, but contrary to expectations it's quite bright inside, where there's plenty of room for 2 + gear.

The porch is a bit slim, but the inner can be dropped to make masses of space if it's needed.

There's quite a bit of storage space under the fly at either end, too.

I've spent one rainy night in it so far, and can report the following:

  • There was no condensation at all, so the venting must be effective;
  • There is room for 2 shortarses (like me) to sit upright in the central third of the inner;
  • It's very stable when the TBS is deployed;
  • There's hardly any wind-flap;
  • The zips on the inner (mesh door) are a faff, they need some lube;
  • The groundsheet is very slippery - maybe this will become less of a problem after a period of use.

I'll post a proper review after it's been used in anger.


Houston, we have cleared the tower…

Posted by on July 24th 2007 in Blog on Blog, Projects

Welcome to the new blog.

I'll start with an apology to all you folk that have been following my old blog ( using RSS feed readers - I know it'll be a hassle to change the settings to follow this one, sorry about that!

And then there all those hyperlinks to change on all those blogrolls...

Why the move? Well, Windows Live Spaces was fine as a starter blog, being a simple one-page format, but as my plans developed it was becoming clear that WLS would not be able to accommodate all that I want to achieve. This free WordPress blog is a step closer, I'll give it a try-out for a few months and then decide whether to stick with it or go for a full hosted WP jobbie and all the customisation potential that comes with it.

As (or should that be "if"?) you trawl around the site, please bear in mind that some bits are still in the construction phase, and others are experimental and liable to change. If you find any glaring errors, or just want to make your mark, sling me some feedback on the appropriate page, and I'll attend to matters ASAP.

Have fun!


Another dickhead

Will the driver of the blue Renault Espace, registration number L489BWP, please note that the next time you park across the entry/exit of my driveway, I'll be reporting you to the police again.



The new tent’s here!

Posted by on July 17th 2007 in A bit of a rant, Name and Shame, Shiny new kit

Yup, that's right. It's here.

But it didn't come from Gear-Zone, as they eventually condescended to respond to my emails, telling me that their supplier was still out of stock, that I would be waiting for weeks rather than days, and would I like a refund? Yes, I replied. It'll take up to 14 days working days, said the response. Suffice to say that copies of all of our email correspondence have been sent to the Visa Debit Card Services dept. of my bank, as per their request. I'm still waiting for that refund, though.

Oh, did I say that I had been in touch with their supplier, and that there isn't a stock problem there?

Anyway, I bought this tent (same maker, same model as the one that Gear-Zone can't supply) from Gaynor Sports, Ambleside. Ordered Saturday, arrived this morning. Top service, a good price and with free delivery. They'll go into the "Preferred Retailers" list on here as soon as I can sort it out. Tomorrow I'll be performing the standard "pitch it on the back lawn and try to stop the cat p155ing on it" test, maybe I'll take a few pics too.

Methinks that I'll be starting a new black-list on this blogsite. All I need is a catchy title. Contenders so far are: "Sh1te Retailers", "Thieving Robdogs", and ""These shops don't stock what they advertise (but tell you that they do) but still take your money when you order, then they sit on your cash, make interest and excuses, then claim that the problem is caused by their supplier". If you have any other suggestions, just let me know and I'll give them due consideration.

A Fine Summer Morning

Posted by on July 9th 2007 in Great Escapes, LMAO!, Rambling on...

I woke early to find the Sun was up before me. The low shafts of golden light flooded my surroundings with an unexpected warmth after the stormy weather of the previous days and nights. At last… a warm morning... a calm morning... a dry morning. The prospects for the day were good.

Old habits die hard and this morning was no exception. Water on for a brew, tea and breakfast consumed and then the first ciggy of the day sent curling veils of smoke drifting away on the light breeze. There was a special quietness about the place, the sort that makes you feel guilty when you break it.

I pulled on my boots and stepped out into the world. An extended family of blackbirds were foraging nearby, not minding my intrusion into their territory. Slowly the other resident wildlife announced itself to the new day... voles scuttled around in the undergrowth... a hedgehog rustled in the leaf-litter on a quest for worms and slugs... a thrush had found a juicy snail and was busy thrashing it against a well-used anvil-stone, this latter fact being borne out by the adjacent pile of discarded shell-shards.

I strolled through the long dew-laden grass, marvelling at the variety of wild flowers and seed-heads. Each step sent a shower of silver droplets into the air around my feet, and soon I was wet from the knees down.

I wandered over to a hoary old willow tree and stood beneath its canopy of weeping branches. The ground was drier there, and beneath my feet a multitude of insect lives were going about their daily routines, oblivious to the giant standing amid their microcosm. In the branches above, more birds were waking from their overnight roosts and the chorus was soon in full swing.

This was a place to tarry a while, to soak up the atmosphere, to appreciate the wonders that Nature puts in even the wildest of places. I sat back against the trunk of the tree and relaxed without a care, watching the world go by at its own pace.

I was so engrossed in this place that it took a long time for me to realise that I was not alone. Looking back down the slope I noticed a lone figure approaching. Not wanting anyone to spoil my appreciation of the morning, I slipped around to the other side of the tree in the hope that the intruder would pass by without noticing me, but it was to no avail. When the newcomer reached my place of rest I looked up, smiled and ventured a polite “Good Morning”.

The reply of “Haven’t you cut that bloody lawn yet?” wasn’t entirely unexpected.

Name and Shame

Posted by on July 6th 2007 in A bit of a rant, Name and Shame, Shiny new kit

Remember my blog entry last week about my new tent purchase?

Well, things aren't much better. They've still got my money, and I still don't have the tent. I've sent many more emails to the retailer, and had no replies to any of them. I've been phoning daily but nobody picks up. I had to Google for contact details for them, as there's no address or phone number on their website. Googling brought up an interesting thread on UKC, it's worth a read. Mind you, Google brings up a lot of similar complaints about this company, it seems that I'm experiencing what is common practise for this retailer.

Well, tonight I decided that I'd had enough, so I've referred the matter to my bank and to my debit card company, they'll get the matter sorted in due course. I've been told that I can expect either the goods or a full refund, it'll take a few weeks but it will happen. At this time, they can't say which I'll get, so I'm banjaxxed for a while... do I buy a new tent elsewhere and risk eventually getting the original tent from this retailer, or do I go without a summer tent for another month and go stir-crazy? I've already had to miss three camping weekends because of this delay, it's seriously pissing me off.

Anyway, if anybody else out there is having difficulty finding contact details for this retailer, this is what I've managed to find out so far, I hope that this information is of use to somebody

Gear-Zone Ltd.

17 Westlegate, Norwich. NR1 3LT. Tel: 01603 630 298, Fax: 01603 615051
8 Burnet Rd, Sweet Briar Road Industrial Est, Norwich. NR32BS. Tel: 01603 410108

Web:, emails:

Registered at Companies House, Registration Number 04305618


Less is more??? (updated)

Posted by on July 5th 2007 in Photo hosting, Rambling on...

Aha, I think that I've just found the most recent change at Zooomr...

It's quite a significant change...

New comments in the Official Zooomr Blog have been disabled. Comments made before the switch-off are still visible if you look at the individual blog entry (click on the blog entry title).

To quote Kristopher:

"Hey Friends, in an effort to improve our groups system on Zooomr, we’ve disabled new comments on the Zooomr Blog in hopes that everyone will use our groups system on Zooomr."

So, nothing to do with preventing people leaving adverse comments on there, eh? Let's not forget that this censorship comes from a nation that advocates the right to free speech...

(Edited to correct some mistakes that I made!)


Posted by on July 5th 2007 in A bit of a rant, Photo hosting

Zooomr's still rubbish.

Despite the claims of the owners, there has been no significant improvement to the service. Sets/smartsets, tags/labels and exif data are still riddled with problems or not working at all.

Mind you, if you want to watch somebody selling his soul for an iPhone, while ignoring the service requests of his supporters and not making good on promises to them, Zooomr's the place for you.

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