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LondonRascal last won the day on June 12 2019

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About LondonRascal

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  • Birthday 07/06/1979

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    Broadcaster, Blogger and Technology Evangelist from London. Enjoys a good coffee, Ale an boating.

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  1. A little late, but none the less I remember beginning this thread last February. New to driving and not aware quite how this would change my life, and so much more besides here we are just over a year since I passed my test. Many, many thousands of miles later, and many new places visited (along with those I had not visited for many years) this is my 'conversation' about what I have done, seen, and dare I say a few 'moans' about other drivers...
  2. Only been a few months - well okay, over 12 since I last posted to this thread. A bunch has happened in that time, but small bits here and there that have not really warranted a written update, leave aside a video. Also I have found that making videos is not as easy when you've got to worry about stopping what you are doing to hold the camera, then carry on for a bit, then stop and so on ans so forth. Still, recently the fresh water pump packed up and I came over to this very thread because I had remembered Stuart talking about what pump type he had fitted on his Trader, this lead me to go through all the paper work and original manuals onboard to find my one too had such a pump. A pump very different to the one fitted, which in turn had been replaced back in Plymouth prior to sailing her to the Broads. So on to A.S.A.P Supplies who had the pump in stock and off to Beccles I went to get it. I am the first to praise the likes of Amazon for price and products, but A.S.A.P not only was the same price as I could get on Amazon, the best part was the helpful free advice they provide so it is not always the best thing to buy online.. Since I have fitted the new pump the issues with pressure, pump cycling and hot water fluctuations have all vanished. The only issue is the sheer noise the Par Max 4 emits. I do however have some ideas on how to isolate some of this, and the resonance through the bulkhead to which it is fitted. Video of the process here:
  3. I would go down the oil analysis route too, here is a site you can get the kit to take the sample and send away - not too dear. www.theoillab.co.uk/buy-kits
  4. If the Parish Council need evidence, over a period of time that this person is abusing the bins (or others) I would think the ideal way would be to put a motion activated trail camera up in a suitable location that is not too obvious but has a good view of the area. Anytime someone comes within range a series of photos is saved. They have long battery lives and are cheap compared to setting up a CCTV camera to do much the same. This would then gather evidence that it was not just a once off and help and case.
  5. I'm going to be honest, I have parked in Child & Parent parking bays, but I'd never parking in a Disabled parking bay. Indeed, recently I was told off, in person by an angry husband. He asked me if I had any children? I looked around and confirmed I did not (his wife chipped in "don't start it's not worth it"). I was parked in one of the Child & Parent bays, of which there were 7. 5 of them were still free. He was parked in one two spaces down from where I was. Now, he then told me how it had taken an age to find a free space, and he had two children and how it was so hard when ignorant fools like me parked in such bays to get the kids out and their push chairs, I could have argued back, but I simply accepted my wrongs, apologized and took it like a good boy. He said "quite right too" and that was it, as he and his wife walked off. He then got in his car - Audi Q7 - but, wait a moment, still no children. Maybe it was the day before where I was sat, in a pay & display bay on a street with engine off when a cyclist went by and shouted a few expletives at me followed by ...BMW drivers... or the fact that a lady who was parked on the no parking yellow 'zig zags' outside a school yet mouthed 'twenty and stuck two fingers up at me as I moved out around her car - when I was doing 17 MPH, but I had just about had enough of being had a go at. My normal patients gave way "Oi!" I shouted as I walked toward their car. They hurriedly shut the doors, passenger side window lowered a little..The wife asking "Yes..?" Well, I was just wondering, where your children were? Her husband leaned forward and stated "We've got a baby seat in the back" - they did, but still no children. Well, I said, I guess we are both ignorant fools then aren't we and with that the window went up and they drove off. So why did I park in the bay in the first place? Well, I simply have grown sick and tired of parking somewhere - coming back to find someone else's paint on my side door, a new dent, a new chip and more pain and expense getting it sorted. Having spent a fair amount to have dings and dents removed I'd rather not again, so I have three choices: The first is park in the far corner of a car park in the hope that nobody will come alongside me - this is my usual method. Secondly to park taking up two normal bays and really annoy people - which I have not done personally, or thirdly park in a Child & Parent bay. I'd not do it if there was only one or two free, but if there are three or more free, then I would. So that makes me...Selfish, but I've never come back out of the store to find in my absence the other bays have been taken - so far then, I feel I have not inconvenienced anyone, but it still means I am selfish.
  6. Although I did not share it here - perhaps should have - I have been traveling about once more. Going back down 'memory lane visiting some places I last went to as a child on holiday some 28 years ago. Firstly I drove from Norwich to London, and booked into a hotel near Heathrow Airport. They are well priced, have lots of comfort and features and gives easy access to the M25/M4. The following morning it was off to Weymouth. I love the place, it now also has extra relevance to me as was the first harbour we came into when bringing Independence up to Norfolk. I was amazed to find the average cost of B&B accommodation in Weymouth was over £100.00 for a night. I therefore opted for another stay in the Maritime Hotel on Portland, a 4 star hotel for £43 a night? Hmm I stayed here before and it was pretty poor and miss-managed, so was going in eyes wide open but was not expecting the doors to be broken to get into the hotel, no lift working, no air con working, curtains that were held up with zip-ties, no bath towel - just three hand towels, a broken hair drier, a missing remote for the television....Yeah it had really gone down hill. But it was within sight of Portland Bill so I had an early night and was up before sunrise and made a decision. Pack up and get the hell out, so note written to the management, key left at the unmanned reception I was locked in the hotel - literally. Only thing for it was out the fire escape, round to the car park and drive to the Bill. But now the sun was rising, me and four others were there, the other three seemed pretty pro photographers with masses of kit - I just had my iPhone and it was lovely. Where to go now I thought? Well, nothing for it but to hit the road and so I did just that and headed to Beer, in Seaton, to Peccorama. This was a massive huge big deal to me when we first went there back when I was 10. Narrow gauge steam trains in the gardens, crazy golf, model train layouts you name it. It was heaving back then, we visited it again when I was 12 and it was just the same but now I was among just a handful of people, mainly adults. The place had not changed other than the trees and so on had matured a lot more. The displays were the same too the crazy golf though has less holes as a new Café has been built. It was nice though, but I was not loving the the narrow single track roads with high sides of vegetation and kamikaze locals who would come around a bend then have to screech to a halt because surprise surprise another car was there. Almost lost the drivers wing mirror so such a person but the countryside was lovely and it was bringing back all sorts of memories so time to tick another off the list. Just outside a small village of Bow, was a country house that formally was a Hotel. It was called Nichols Nymet House - run by a couple in their 80's and that was back in 1988. It was also the location where I first drove, a Montego, 1.6 Saloon down their driveway with my dad. I am not sure if it is still a hotel, there is a large caravan park next to the main house and the house is looking in need of repair and re-painting, but I had to stop and had a little 'talk' to my Dad about where I had come and I am sure he would have been proud. Steve Wright was on Radio 2, it was sunny and life felt perfect. Taunton was the overnight destination.. I stayed in the Holiday Inn, it was like an upmarket Travelodge - but had air-con and a nice room. The bar was not overly priced and it was nice to have a couple of cold beers and go over past times and thoughts in my mind. I noticed that Wales was not too far away, so tomorrow I would head to Newport and then tick off the Hotel where I stayed and which was back in the day the best I had ever seen, brand new built on an industrial estate and since being sold to Hilton, they sold it on and it is now the Coldra Court Hotel - I did not stay here, they want £6.00 a night to park the car, but availed the use of the toilets. It has changed, but not much. When I was last there, all those years back, they would loan out Sony Walkman's - you know with the big over ear foam headphones - I had one, I was over the moon an actual Walkman, and the tape they loaned me with it was a Genesis album. Well back in the car and Chepstow was the next stop off, we used to come here to Stuart Crystal's factory outlet, housed in a former Boarding School. Now this has long closed down and the school is being converted into flats. Cheapstow was lovely as ever, the Wye Valley and so on so I took a short trip to Tinton and the Abbey ruins. Waze however got me there by one of its 'back road special's' which one day will see me getting unstuck, but it cut 10 minutes off the trip but took me down some seriously steep and narrow lanes with so much grass growing up the middle of the road it was hitting the engine under-tray of the low slung SLK. I took in the Abbey, from outside anyway, bought some bits in the Abbey Mill's shop and then drove to Tinton Station, which is lovely, quiet and has been going - well since the 1990's and again has changed little. Hmm now what? Where could I go, where should I stay..? I had a look at the map and decided London was not so far away, 2hrs 23m Waze said, so it was London bound once more back to Heathrow. Another impromptu little road trip complete.
  7. Well - good for everyone - but no more videos to have to suffer, because although I filmed a little it was not much mainly because I set off from Aberdeen just after 10:00am with Brundall as my destination. Waze told me it would take about 8hr 55 minutes. I therefore proposed to work to the same rules HGV drivers need to with breaks, either 15 minutes totaling 45 minutes in no more than 4hrs 30minutes, or a single 45 minute break. I set off with the timer running and when it went off, would find somewhere to stop. My first issue was on the A90 when I hit heavy traffic - this was some two miles away from major roadworks, so in all it took an age to get through this area a crawl. This put my time back a lot, and I ended up stopping at Cairn Lodge Services on the M74 about 20 miles south of Motherwell. It was quite a the find, lots of interesting products to buy in their shop and the eatery serviced local farm produce or food from Scottish producers. Break over and back on the road. I carried on the M74, which then later became the A74(M) and very scenic this was too - better than my trip up using only the A1. I skirted around Carlisle on the M6 and had some wonderful views of the Pennines. At Penrith it was a turn off and along the A66 which took me all the way to Scotch Corner where I joined the A1. Once on the A1 the traffic was heavy but moving well, far more impatient drivers encountered and those who have no concept of lane discipline. My next break came at Darrington - BP Petrol Station, with reasonably priced fuel considering right off the A1. I brimmed the tank in Aberdeen and now I had 1/3 left so £69.00 of super unleaded in, a stop for the toilet and following which, a pretty short slip road back on to the busy main A1 which was not fun at all, but I was at least back underway. The jounrey was then pretty boring I picked up the A17 in the Newark-on-Trent area and took this all the way to the A47. My final stop was at just outside Swaffham, at the BP/McDonald's off the roundabout there - this was just for a Car Wash because they have their top wash on offer for a fiver here, and it is very good and got rid of all the squashed flies and general road grime a journey like this brings. Wash done, it was the home straight to Brundall. It took 9hrs 38 minutes and was 512.6 miles long, I felt good - well my legs were pleased to be able to move about but had no back pains, was not feeling tired and was pretty happy with how the little adventure had gone. Indeed now thinking about another this time just heading south west and seeing where I end up. Some figures: Brundall to Bridlington 214 Miles Bridlington to Edinburgh 271 Miles Edinburgh to Aberdeen 135 Miles Aberdeen to Brundall 512 Miles Total Millage: 1,131
  8. I remember when I i had to change almost 60 bulbs on Independence from Halogen to LED - all without changing the light fittings. It truly is easy, just take out the old bulb - find the highest lumen output LED replacement. I say this, because it is so easy to see the same bulb that might fit a G4 fitting, and one LED may be 3 watts and another 5 watts and both claim to be the same brightness as the old 20 watt Halogen. Lumens on the other hand don't lie, and you will see how they vary. I prefer warmer white LED's too, that better replicate the slightly yellow light of a Halogen. I personally have not bought 'marine' LED's or fitments. So often is the case that these are overpriced for what they are, and many of the new fitments which have non-replaceable LED panels in them still will downright fail or dim over time. Take them apart and the quality inside says it all. However I have been told by those in the trade that the big difference between marine LED fitments and bulbs is the fact they will have a higher tolerance to DC voltage variances. This means at rest your boat might only be sending 12v (maybe even less if batteries are tired) to the lights. But, start up the boat, or plug in shore power and turn on your battery charger and these lights may be getting over 14 volts of power. Cheap as chips specials of Ebay which are designed for a contestant supply voltage will suffer and fail prematurely. Therefore the bulbs I buy have a large voltage range, I prefer too also get bulbs that are sealed in silicone which stops any moisture getting into the bulbs onboard chips. It takes some time to look into, as there are truly so many suppliers out there. Despite all this and LED's being low energy, high output devices, they will fail at some point. You only have to see how many street lamps have begun to fail with 'disco effect' flickering, other times individual LED's on a larger board will die, leaving some working but now under more load which will hasten their own demise. I therefore see LED's as long lasting, low energy but replaceable products.
  9. So today's little trip was Edinburgh to Aberdeen. While the rest of the country baked, up here it has been warm, humid but not overly bad - just as I like it. That said when I arrived in Aberdeen (which I only decided to go to after a trip to see the Forth Railway Bridge) the weather turned, cooler and by early evening thunderstorms and rain were the order of the day. What I have decided is as much as I love Scotland, the roads within cities are in shockingly bad condition. Edinburgh was bad, Aberdeen has some impressive holes and even the general condition sees patch upon patch upon patch and a pitiful regard to re-painting road markings. Still, it was a short driving day with only 131 miles covered. As for what is next, well I could go further up and even head to the Highlands, but I have decided to head west and south. I am not sure if I will be heading back tomorrow or not - and if not where things will take me next. So far my destinations have all been worked out in the morning, in the car using Google Maps.. Anyway, here is today's little (well maybe not so little) video diary.
  10. Having taken the SLK in for a new battery (I can throughly recommend lithium powered jump packs by the way. Large power bank type things, charge phones use as a torch and when needed 600Amps of power to crank and engine over) I decided I wanted to go on a bit of an adventure. This began leaving Norfolk behind on Wednesday and without a destination in mind headed towards Yorkshire. I arrived in Bridlington and found a Premier Inn. Everything was premier, even the price this time, but it was very comfy, modern and large room with air conditioning and below a large restaurant to eat in. Come morning time I was keen to keep on traveling. I pondered seriously about going to Liverpool via the M62 to go on this amazing motorway constructed in the harshest of conditions and is our highest motorway too. Once in a Liverpool take the Steam Packet Ferry to the Isle of Man - but the £326.00 return cost made this a bit too decadent. instead, I set off for Scotland. By Durham I had decided on Edinburgh but felt I could go further. Well, as it happened due to slow traffic on the A1 things slipped back and I decided to stick to Edinburgh and very nice it is too - other than the roads are the most potholed I’ve seen. I made this impromptu video, the car has been performing flawlessly and despite being small the seats and ride have proved very comfortable too .
  11. Last weekend Broad Ambition got her first real outing since a bunch of work had been done during her bi-annual out of water works. Friday 21st June: Shiela and I would crew up on Friday, cruise to Wroxham in the evening and the following afternoon I was expecting 4 guests to arrive who would be staying onboard until Sunday afternoon, plus possibly 1 or 2 others who were coming for the day. Just as well Broad Ambition is 40ft long, because what actually turned out was including Shiela and I, we had 12 people onboard - 4 of whom were children. Firstly we left Stalham and I helmed, while Shiela did a through clean through - this meant every glass and mug got a wash, all surfaces wipe down, all berths and seating vacuumed - once se gets stuck in if you stand still long enough you will be dusted! Then she mad the beds, then she cleaned all the exterior windows and then she finally got around to sitting down - were passing Salhouse by then! The funny thing is I have not been on the rivers for a good while either, so being on Broad Ambition and not just out for a bit testing a new aerial, or making checks on things was nice. However there was that little issue that I had to get her under Wroxham Bridge and I have not done that for - hmm perhaps 8 or more months and as fate would have it we would be arriving at almost the top of the tide. As we were passing Barnes Brinkcraft I got the binoculars out and spied the height gauge - just on 6' 6" - this was going to be a tad tight. In fact I (and someone else I've since spoken to) now feel the height gauge at Wroxham is very much 'spot on' where for years before it was on the conservative side - a bit like Ludham Bridge's height gauge. Well we went under fine but I'd not want to be going under at what out safe minimum air draft is (6' 4") because I am pretty sure our mast would get crazed. We have a new one, and the 'tear drop' at the top is slightly longer, this causes it to lay slightly higher - just a tad - but let's just say be nice to keep it looking new for as long as possible. Once through the bridge (and hitting my head on one of the chains) it was fenders down and my Bowlady was off doing her things, straight into a very public stern mooring while people sat on their boats sipping wine and beers. Those on Gold Gem must have rolled their eyes when at gone 8:00pm we turn up. Still, we moored up flawlessly, shut down and having put the wheelhouse canopy up was straight off to the Kings Head for food. Now, I am not here to 'bash anywhere' but to have run out of clean wine glasses, and to have produce the food they did was very poor. The veg was the left overs from the carvery - minus being heated up. Long story short we ate half of the food, drunk our drinks and literally headed over to McDonalds. Back onboard we opened up the locker - Shiela's new love I introduced her to is Malibu and Coke, the issue is 'coconut flavored coke' can go down a little too easily lol. We had an early start the following day so it was off to bed pretyt early all things considered. Saturday 22nd June: We had guests coming from London who had never been further than away from the capital than Hatfield so getting them to change trains and get to a little station called Hoveton & Wroxham was not going to be a smooth process, especially when their connecting train broke down and they were sent onward from Norwich in a Taxi. We moved the boat back under Wroxham Bridge to the Hotel, this was a mistake on my part. I did it because I was anxious to be the 'correct side' of the bridge for our little tour we had planned and thought we could all meet in the Hotel, have a drink and introduce everyone and then move to the Boat. However by mid day, it was clear this was peak bridge shooting time and the Pilot had his work cut out. It also meant that everyone who were wanting to go under the bridge would arrive, find the Pilot collection mooring full and then expect their boat to stop and sit like they had stopped a car. The breeze gentle brought them alongside Broad Ambition - a few wise words from me got them on their way without incident, until a 42ft forward steer arrived. It had 5 or 6 chaps onboard, but they were all inside the boat and as they went to move forward it was a case of full throttle, left hand down a bit. The stern and the galvanized steel rubbing strake came right for our stern quarter, doing what you are not meant to, I fended off best I could with my right foot and though they squeezed our fender flat, thankfully the hard edge of the metal avoided our delicate wooden hull. Phew, I thought, where is everyone? Shiela arrives telling me there was a change of plan, we had 4 kids coming, and a couple who had only been together a short time and would be their first outing together with all their kids - oh and nobody had ever been on the Broads before.. Slowly they came, picnic items, booze, bluetooth speakers, cameras you name it - what a scene this was causing outside the Hotel. All aboard I calmed everyone down and spoke about safety and what to and not to do and let Shiela cast off and deal with the ropes and fenders while I spun Broad Ambition around and headed off to Salhouse. We past the big trips boats, numerous day boats who were all behaving themselves, even if they drove as if in a car on the left for a while until they figured why is everyone on the right hand side of the river..The suneshine was glorious, but we had a nice breeze so it was not too hot. We arrived at Salhouse, public stern mooring number 2 complete the kids went exploring in the 'forest', the girls sat on the grass and gossiped and drunk some Pimms and the men talked boats as I showed them the restoration book, and talked through all the upgrades and changes since that had been produced. It was a lovely time to be on the water. A couple of hours later we were back underway to Wroxham to drop our day trippers off - outside the Cafe were several hire boats stern moored, we were almost stern to when we were told we could not moor. Baffled I asked why - dropping off point is down there' came the reply, I said that was the Pilot's moorings, and the reply of "yes" came back. I asked again why we could not moor here - "Dropping off point is down there". Well we could have played this game all day, so I proffered money - ah now we might be able to moor. Simon, a chap I had only met hours before told the chap in no uncertain terms we were not going to negotiate to drop off 4 kids and two adults and we'd head down to the 'dropping off point' for free. So I did. Having dropped off the day trippers it was now 6 onboard and all adults - but not a bit quit - it was party time, though I was 'on duty' so declined in the dancing and drinking too much. Now where were we going to go now? Thurne, Acle? Acle there was bound to be a mooring somewhere - we headed off around 3:45pm from Wroxham. Arriving at Acle I was shocked to find everything taken - the moorings which have been improved along ther grass bank on the Pedro's side, the moorings on the opposite side and of course outside the Bridge Inn. We carried on for Stokesby. Upon arrival, it too was all full. Not good. We spun around and then I hear "Robin..Robin" and a couple on their Alpha 35 were asking if we wished to come alongside them? Oh what a generous offer. I came in against what was now a very fast running current and we tied up. I had never met them, but they had followed me on You Tube for years, and it was a chance to get to talk to me and Shiela. In more recent times I have had some rather unkind comments made among comments on You Tube and Facebook Groups. The amount of people I met and chatted to - and this couple and their kindness made me see what a small minority negative comments and people are, and what the Broads is really about is an open mind, being kind and helpful. The food at the Ferry Inn was not only good value, but first class. Even if there was some oddities like get your own cutlery and sauces, but the staff were great and we all had a lovely evening. We got back to Broad Ambition and the rest of the party went onboard to watch a DVD while I was collared again and spent ages chatting to Mal, a former National Express coach driver and his wife about everything boat..and life..Proper good folks they are. I was pooched and hit my sack, we had to be up and away before 6:30am the following morning as our neighbors were off over Breydon Water with three other boats to catch the early tide - if we were not gone we would be off to Yarmouth too lol. Sunday 23rd June: Another cracking morning, warm and sunny - we were up and underway before 7:00am and made for St. Bennets. When we arrived we got breakfast on the go, very posh it was too - smoked Salmon, toast, scrambled egg, fresh fruits and juices and I had to do nothing but enjoy. After we ate, it was off for a tour of the ruin's and we walked to the Cross. I never knew, or had seen before, the amount of coins - many clearly hammered into the cracks in the wood of the Cross. It was beautiful, and as ever so quiet here. Back onboard we took a slow cruise with everyone having their times on the helm - Mohamed who works for BA driving a tug - moving planes - was able to pick up the delicate art of boat steering as if he had done it all his life, his wife on the other hand had no idea what hand, eye and boat was doing so try as we might it was always a zig zag - the other ladies were as bad, but since Shiela is good and as I now say 'qualified helmsmadam' I cannot be sexist and say women cannot drive boats lol. We arrived at Wroxham in very jovial moods, and once again under the bridge. Dropping off our guests for them to explore Wroxham in their own time before they train, Shiela and I took Broad Ambition back under the bridge and headed for Stalham. It was strangely quiet onboard - but nice to be just us on the rivers and taking out turns at the helm. Back to the Wet Shed, clean through and off for home it all seemed to have gone so quickly.
  12. I was back at Kwik-Fit today, I'm on first name terms with them and this time is was for a re-gas of the air conditioning on the SLK. It was performing fine but since checking pressures are not a standard service item I was keen to see if it was work getting done. Sure enough the pressure was well above where the compressor would have cut out due to low pressure in the system, but could do with some. They took all the old refrigerant out along with the lubricating oil under pressure and left it for a good while. Often times it is done quickly and not everything, especially any moisture in the system is removed. Although it might be best to replace the receiver drier too, no where but a specialist will do that. However, with the system recharged it was time to check vent temps and if they cannot get it lower by 10% than the reading taken when you took the car in you don't pay. Mine went in with 6.3c at centre vent and I now have 4.7c. This has made so much of a difference I actually need to add a little heat to the air as otherwise the small cockpit of the SLK gets simply too cold. Even with the roof down, it means a humid day is still fresher feeling if you set it to come out of the lower foot well vents it seems to work around and up in the interior. The other item was a look a the front suspension. Every now and then - and annoyingly it really is a rare occurrence - there is a clonk heard from the front end of the car on the drivers side. You can go over a speed hump at 20MPH and it will happen. Go back over the same hump at the same speed and it will not happen. How frustrating. Days may pass and then all of a sudden, as you go over a small pot hole it is heard again. They had the car up on the ramps and could find nothing worn, loose, creaking or moving as it should not. They then put it on a machine that shakes and moves the suspension to see if that would cause the issue to show itself - but again nothing. They have greased areas and now I will see if it comes back. However what they can't seem to fix once and for all is the handbrake. Although on an SLK it is inherently badly designed, the previous SLK at least held it reasonably well. On the new one stopping on a modest slop with the car in drive and the hand brake on will not hold the car - it will however if the car is on a slope facing backwards. Despite the fact engaging park will hold the car, I want a handbrake I can have faith in so this is going to be a dealer fix but as things goes it could be worse. I'd also thought about some new, larger alloys. The last car had some nice 18" AMG ones which really helped raise the look of the car. The rims on this one are nothing special - even though they only are found on the 350 they look for all the world like they could be off any old Mercedes. Sporty and sleek they are not, they are also only 17". Anyway, after much thinking and looking at wheels I have decided not to change them but to take them to BA Wheels who did the BMW's with such great work, but this time I was thinking of working something with colour. I am not sure if I want to go for an all over fresh look where I have the wheels blasted back and, powered coated and lacquered or to say have the outside rim one colour and the main body of the wheel another. Here is an example of the wheels in question: It will then be time for new rubber, currently I have some Continentals on the front "ContiSportContact3" which are okay, and well within tread limits but they are very noisy. On the rear are a pair of Yokohama "Advan Sports" which being a rear wheel drive car are predictably more worn. I am likely going to put on some Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 5's which have been praised for their wet braking performance, dry handling and overall ride. Goodyear tend not to last as well as Michelin, but I want to have some comparisons over time. The old SLK had Hancock tyres all round, and it was a lot better in the wet and in sweeping fast corners than this car - despite this car having smaller wheels with a higher profile tyre. In this SLK the worst thing are manhole covers - they seriously unsettle the car and in the wet, there are a couple of roads just as you drive out of Thorpe towards the NDR/A47 with roundabouts where they have several manhole covers to deal with. These are 30 and 40 MPH roads but some of them the rear will want to skip out if you catch one at the right angle which is not a pleasant feeling. Of course new tyres will mean I can have the car's tracking looked at as well. As for the BMW - well since I had all the brakes done on that, I thought the place where I had taken it simply had spilled a little fluid around the reservoir. I wiped it up with some tissue and gave everything a good clean. After the trip to North Wales, I noticed the brake pedal just felt the most tiniest bit 'different' - actually in a good way. You see before you had about 1cm of travel between nothing and gentle braking, after which all hell broke loose and you had some serious braking which got some getting used to being so gentle with your foot. Now it is more progressive, yet still has a lovely firm pedal feel - far better than the SLK. Anyway after my resent trip to London I was doing my weekly under bonnet checks and noticed again there was fluid around the brake fluid reservoir - not much, and it was still showing Max. This time I had a very good look about and can only presume it is leaking from the cap, but that also means the fluid is being pushed up, past the max point to raise to the cap level and then to find a way out. I've also notice the actuators on the electronic parking brake take a bit longer to travel from fully off to on, the little noise they make as they pull the calipers on goes on just a touch longer. All of this may be unconnected, but something is not quite as it used to be so this is another item to have a once over. What I have learnt is keeping things clean under the bonnet and checking levels and around caps and hoses pays off as you notice the things like "where is that fluid coming from" and can keep an eye on it, that was something I used to do with my Dad, every Sunday - wash the car, hoover the inside, inside and outside of the windows and under bonnet checks. It was one of the few times we had where it was just us and could actually talk.
  13. All I can say is weekday evening rush hour at night on the Hanger Lane Gyratory and knowing a few miles later with be the Chiswick Roundabout to deal with before heading up onto the M4 when you've passed your test 3 weeks prior hones your sense of awareness. Then to keep doing it and get used to what people do verses 'the rules' or what they should be doing has stood me in great stead. For sure different parts of the country seem to have different styles of driving, but what I have also seen is how so many drivers who do the same routes time and again act on auto pilot. They say most accidents tend to happen to people on familiar roads close to home. If I am going to Norwich I will rarely take the same route in twice and always go in one way and back another. Today I took the SLK in to have the air-con pressure checked, as suspected it was low - it is now re gassed and like a freezer. I went in on the A47 in the morning rush hour, came back 'the back route' avoiding the A47 and instead through Thorpe. Just to mix it up, and then decided to just follow a myriad of little country lanes despite it pouring with rain for the fun of it. I also randomly found out the old A47 used to run through the middle of Blofield, before the bypass came along in I thin 1982. I found this photo of the bypass just before it opened and not the old course slipped the Brundall roundabout - there is a deeply overgrown 'lane' that exists to the left of the bypass after the Roundabout, awaiting exploration once the rain has gone as this must still be the old course of the road. Before the bypass there was no roundabout, Brundall was simply a left hand turn off when heading to Norwich from Great Yarmouth - anyway I am fascinated by these things and when new roads come I often like to travel the 'old route' where possible, like the bypass on the A47 that I remember being opened, it takes traffic just outside Kings Lynn to Wisbech bypassing the smaller villages along the way like Tilney All Saints. Blofield Bypass (A47) - Brundall Roundabout lower right. Notice the old path of the A47 - still there through Blofield, now de-trunked and a local road. It continued toward Norwich bypassing the newly built roundabout. I am sure this remains as a very overgrown track of sorts. Something to explore.
  14. Interesting reading peoples opinions and comments, especially about British cars - ether the fact they appeared to be badly put together and made, or defending them as actually being not as bad as all that... I feel fortunate to have grown up when there was a great deal of change and progress being made in our world through technology unlike any other generation where a great deal of change happened in education and then work with computers, then seeing the birth of the Internet and now seeing where it has brought us - not all good. The same goes for cars. These days we seem to take so much for granted with a new car - and the fact that they come with so many features be it for comfort, safety or technology as standard. What also seems to have happened with cars is the same as happened when iPhone was launched. Before then we had true choice with features, looks and manufactures. After iPhone we have fewer manufactures, all the phones look the same and do much the same things - some just faster or slightly better, but with only two operating systems it really has limited choice. Cars now seem to be much of the same, A Ford or Toyota a Vauxhall or a Honda. Take away the badges and just go by what you get - engine, power, trim, features, looks. Nobody is really wanting to be too daring - we've all gone a bit conservative I think and small. Look at the average car park or street - sure you see the odd big estate, Land Rover Discovery/Range Rover etc but the overwhelming majority will be smaller, more basic cars. Everyone has hopped on the SUV bandwagon, and while there is a lot of innovation with Electric we have not got the infrastructure to cause mass uptake let alone convince people to pay out the bigger cost to begin, so to now it is all about focusing how to make a car feel and perform as they used to but now with a smaller engine. Diesel is hated now, so it has to be Petrol. Hybrid's are the in thing, but to my mind they are just a stop gap while manufactures figure out really what direction things will really go in and I think a lot of this will depend on Governments. Once upon a time you bought a car and might have a real allegiance to a brand - your dad drove a Ford, you therefore naturally opted for a Ford. I remember as a child being at family get together's and the men would first talk about how they all got there - with much debates about what each believed to have been the best route. Distance was not measure in miles but in time - many still do this, a set journey and how well it went based on the time they left and the time one arrives and then feeling good if it was a particularly good run. But of course sometimes, someone might have arrived in a new car. This really caused a great talking point as everyone had to go out and look while he basked in the glow of "I am the one with the new car" and everyone else had to ask things like "Yeah, but does it have 60/40 split folding seats?" ... "Hmm it does does it...Well, yes but unlike the Vauxhall you get that higher load lip" which was a polite way of saying it was still rubbish in their mind and they had not got the best all round package. It also was then the talking point in private on the way back home: "It's all very well Terry having that new Volvo but you'd never beat the silky gear change on a Ford and think about his parts costs!" I remember my Uncle causing uproar when he went from having BMW's and bought a Saab.It was so left field and yet fitted him perfectly. Or when a friend of my Dad's who'd always been 'sensible' suddenly went and bought a new Ford Probe. My Dad saw it as American tat, and preferred the Vauxhall Calibra. But this was a time where you could get a large four door saloon from Vauxhall or Ford that was the 'middle management' of the car world, but if you had an Omega you really wanted a BMW 5 Series..Yet you could also get a Nova or Fiesta from the same manufacture, so the wife had a nice little runabout. The biggest change though is how we buy cars. Firstly fewer and fewer people are actually bothering to learn to drive in their late teens/early twenties especially in major cities, so that right of passage and key to Independence is not as needed or desired. Secondly those days of saving up for a car or getting a loan to cover all or part the cost are increasingly over with the advent of easy and affordable personal leasing. When I bought the SLK, someone was in the showroom talking to the owner of the dealership (clearly a friend) and asked how many people were buying the new cars, to which the reply was "nobody does that now" as in all the cars are being sold new on leases. They went on to speak over things but suffice to say Mazda has not had a cash buyer in Beccles for more than 6 months. None of the cars on the showroom floor had any prices on either, just monthly amounts you had to pay to get the car which all seem very attractive and that is the point. It all is so easy, so tempting. So what people seem to want now is something that looks good and has a bunch of tech in it. Forget comfort, hell even reliability - if it has a warranty, free servicing and breakdown cover with a all the bells and whistles whats the worry? Car breaks, its all looked after, all paid for and you get a loaner while its in. It also has changed the way I personally see people - once when you saw a new car, and an expensive one at that, I would look at the person and think to myself how much that car costs and how much they must have to afford that and in a bit in awe of this. Now it does not necessarily mean that at all, new fancy Merc pulls up in Tesco's car park and it could well just be on a lease for a few hundred a month. Finally, because of all the above, once cars were generally more cherished I think. People would put more time, effort and money into their cars - keep them going longer. Now they are far more 'disposable' both perhaps in they build quality but also to do with the fact who wants to keep something older going. It says something when Practical Classic's Magazine has a feature on Twingo's as being 'future classics'.
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