I’ve been lazy

I’ve been mega busy and haven’t updated for ages

I’ll sort this out soon

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Aurora Borealis!!

I had been to Tesco then drove to Gateshead where I was parking for the night and got myself comfy ready to watch a DVD. I noticed though on Facebook people were talking about the Aurora. I read a few posts and one of them was a guy talking to his pal, saying “Get yourself over there now, it’s still going on!”

I was galvanised! It’s a little dream of mine to see the aurora ever since I first read about it as a very young boy, so I packed everything away and sped off to South Shields. Marsden grotto pub car park is reasonably high and views north, so I pulled up there and there was definitely aurora light in the sky! Green, red and magenta, although nothing usable came out of the camera. I met a bloke there who turned out to be a member of th Facebook group which I admin, Let’s Talk Photography Northeast.  We spent about an hour and a half before giving up but as we left I decided on a whim to drive up to Bamburgh in Northumberland.


I was not disappointed!

As you can see it’s not the best aurora photo in the world, but its mine…and I saw it…and a boyhood dream is achieved. To me it’s the most magical photo I’ve taken in ages and I am proud to put it on my blog.

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Not stopped spending yet

I’ve just ordered some LED festoon bulbs for the interior light, which has always been crap. I got one ages ago for the bathroom and the difference is amazing. This all came about because I wanted some spare headlight bulbs to go to Europe with. I’ve got tons of all bulbs except the dipped beam H7s, so I went to 3 car accessory shops today, 2 in Windermere and 1 in Bowness. In Windermere they wanted £9.99 each in the shop ad £8.99 in the garage. Sod that I went into Bowness and the small car shop there wanted £7.99. Sod that too. You can get a pack in Tesco with half a dozen bulbs and some blade fuses in for about £4!

Anyway I ended u having a look at Amazon and have ordered some festoon bulbs, some LED sidelight bulbs, and a pack of 4 x H7s for only £3.50 for the four!! I’m also going to sign up with myByBox to try out their delivery system. Fed up with miserable and rude Post Office staff giving me grief for using their free Poste Restante service.

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Expensive month

It’s been an expensive month so far. I had to buy the two new wheels, then I bought 3 more so that took £220. I’d already paid out £200 for 2 new tyres, then because of the missing tyres I had to pay out another £200 today for 2 more tyres. I’ve also bought camera insurance from Aaduki today so that’s £320, and £35 for a new fridge vent from Bardsea leisure, as the wind was so strong last night it tore the fridge vent off the van! Close to £1000 spent so I hope I’ve got enough left this month for food!

I’ve contacted Luke at Lodge Tyres and he is adamant that he took the wheels from the front and put them on the back. I contacted Darren at Nationwide and he is adamant that they fitted Avons. I believe that they did too cos I recall checking tread depth following a discussion with someone. Of course ATS could have made some massive mistake and put the wrong two tyres onto my wheels. I suppose I’ll never know.


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Winnie the Pooh and the blustery day…

It’s blustery alright. My coffee almost spilled with the van rocking and the vent cover for the fridge blew off, so I moved from Walney into Barrow and drove round looking for a quiet spot. I’d got into town and the bike cover did a runner too. I was lucky enough to get it back, but it had snapped the two bungees holding it on. After 5 minutes it was obvious it wasn’t going to go back on so I stowed it away and moved off. They’ve got bridges shut and roads closed and buildings losing their roofs and all sorts.

I finally found a quiet spot near B n Q and I can barely feel the wind here apart from the really bad gusts so at least I’ll have a peaceful night.

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Money Card sorted

I’ve been looking around for the best choice of card for Italy and the Post Office’s Money Card seems my best option. It works as a Mastercard, and you simply top it up a you go. What I like is that I don’t have to put £5000 Euros on it in one go, I can top it up weekly from my bank account, even using my phone if I wish. That means if I lose it I don’t lose much. You have to pay £6 I think to convert any money left to Sterling when you return, but I’ll juts make sure  spend it before coming back, on diesel if need be.

I popped into the Post Office in Barrow today to get one and you have to put €50 on as a minimum so that’s all done.  I’ve also sent my driving licence off it’s ten year renewal today and that should be back in a week. I tried to do it online but surprise surprise the Govt website didn’t work lol

Not much left t do now before Italy!

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Rip off!

In 2012 I bought 2 sets of tyres. 1 pair of Vanhawks which were cheap rubbish, and 1 pair of Avon hard composite tyres. So when ATS were fitting  my new wheels the other day I simply rejected the idea that the rear tyres were worn, cracked and ready for renewal. Something stuck in the back of my mind though so I checked last night and sure enough, they’re some make that I’ve never heard of.

Now I wish I could  say that I know National Tyres in Newcastle on Tyne fitted Avons like I paid for, but who actually checks their tyres to ensure they’ve got what they asked for? I would love to think the nice lads at Lodge Tyres in Birmingham didn’t rip my Avons off and replace them with cheap rubbish tyres, they were all dead canny and helpful.

However, 1 of the above is true. I don’t know which one, but either National or Lodge ripped me off.  How frustrating! It reminds me of when Robins and Day were supposed to carry out my major service, and didn’t even replace the oil or air filters nor change the oil. Lesson learned, from now on I check whenever stuff is done!

So, I rang ATS as the other 3 new wheels are there so they’re going to fit them on Thursday now and put some Continental Vanco 100′s on for me. Another £180 I could so without pulling out Grrr!

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I was talking to some friends about getting an Italian dongle, and my friend Valeria who is Italian helped me out with the TIM.it site and we identified a dongle I could buy. I needed an address but she spoke to them on the phone and they said if I was on a campsite I could use that address to buy a dongle. €199 gets you a dongle that allows 10 gig a month for 12 months. Not bad for Europe.

I thought I was sorted but later on I was speaking to Three Network about an unrelated matter and it turns out that not only does my phone contract work in Italy the same way as it does in the UK, but so does my contract dongle! Amazing or what!

I’m  going to sort some dates out and will likely leave 1st week in April, returning when the MOT is due on the 6th September. Woop!!

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I got a call from the courier, he was at ATS with my wheels already! Now that is good service, not even 3 full days from Germany to here. Well done Tyreleaders. I’m going over to ATS tomorrow after work to have them fitted so cross your fingers that they are the correct ones!

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New wheels!

My shiny new Vanco 100′s…they feel sooooo good….they drive sooooo well, but I woke to a puncture this morning! I Googled a tyre place which as it happened was about 2 miles from me. Thank God for internet enabled smartphones! I do like my HTC Desire C now, even though it’s slower than a hole boat with no sails stranded on the beach .

So off I popped and he said the valve had gone. Most likely they had not changed it when they put the new tyres on. Hmmm!! However on investigating further, he noted that in fact the weld that included the hole for the valve was corroded. He asked if I had had a flat on that wheel before and indeed I had. Bad Tyrespot for not spotting that. Very good ATS Barrow-in-Furness for not only spotting it, but taking the tyre off the wheel, swapping it with the spare and bagging up my wheel to take to Peugeot who are only about 2 miles away.

It’s not a Robins and Day Peugeot so I drove over to get some new wheels and guess what? £113 each plus VAT! WTF??? I phoned Perthshire caravans as when I was there last year I noticed some 15 inch ones in for £35 but sadly they had none left. I finally found some at www.tyreleaders.co.uk for only £44 each. Cheaper than some breaker yards wanted for second hand ones. I rang ATS and asked if the wheels could be delivered there and they were fine with that. Good work ATS! So I ordered 2 from Tyreleaders but when I went to check out it did not give me a delivery time as it said it would Grrr. Since ordering them too I’ve found out there’s a measurement called an ‘offset’ and mine could be 115 or 130. I contacted Tyreleaders but they’re in Germany and I got no response from them. So, I’m left not knowing when my new wheels are coming, and not knowing if they’re the correct ones. LOL isn’t life exciting!

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New tyres

The Avon’s I bought a couple of years ago seem not to be wearing as well as I was told they might. They have  hard composition so should last a long time but the down side is that they wheel spin in the wet and when starting on a hill far too easily. They also skid much easier than I’d like so I went to replace them with Continental Vanco 100′s. I got them put on the front for £180. The Avons were put on the back as the Firestone Vanhawks that were put on the rear about 15 months ago are shot. To be fair they were very cheap and they’ve done about 12000 miles so for cheap tyres that’s not really bad.

The tracking was out and that’s the first time I’ve ever had to have it done. Anyway, brand new rubber on the front I am hoping for better driving now those Avons are off.

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Vodafone…can they actually get any worse?

I’ve posted many times about cheating lying Vodafone on here, and how they ripped me off. However I retained one dongle as it was pay as you go, and also the deal when I got it was that your money didn’t expire at the end of each month like most. I’ve only used it as a backup so over the last 2 years I’ve taken it out twice, and both times the signal was unusable.

However this time I took it out and the tried to use it and it asked me to top up. I checked my credit and it was over £13. The only way to contact Vodafone customer support is an expensive 087 line so I was forced to call that and be told that all their tariffs are changing, and now I can only buy as a minimum 250mb for £5. That’s the lowest you can spend. Not only that, but if I top the dongle up it only lasts a month. Can they do that? Clearly they can, cos they have.

I decided not to argue as their service is so crap anyway I’ve not been able to use it for years. Sad to see the best company in the UK turn into the worst. I won’t grieve for them though :)

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Winter Onesie Exploits…

You may recall that I’m down in Sutton Coldfield visiting my friend Jane. We’d been talking one night and she was on about having her ‘rabbit’ onesie, which was super warm and how she’s put it on on cold nights and curl up with a book and some hot chocolate. This conjured up images of Bridget Jones and I wondered if girls really do do this sort of thing!
Anyway, after some discussion which included me saying Id been wanting to get some practice in using my flash and gels, we decided to take some photos. Here are the results…

MK3_1565 MK3_1562 MK3_1557 MK3_1550






















Now, to you they’re just photos. But to me, they’re much more than that! For a start we’d been shopping all day looking for a huge mug with Cocoa written on. We finally found a huge mug in Asda but it was plain and light blue. We bought some letter stickers, but they were silver. So when we finally got cocoa on the mug using the stickers not only did it just not look right, but the letters were so large all you could see was Coc  LOL

So we went with wine and chocolates, reading and texting. When I was setting up the first book which was quite large was intruding over her face so I grabbed the smallest one off the shelf that I could find. It wasn’t until afterwards that we checked the images and saw that it was The Scarman Report! Hardly light entertainment reading for a cold winter night!

Anyway. These are straight out of the camera, they haven’t been processed at all in any way, and here’s how we set the shot up.

I wanted to meter for the table lamp to give ‘atmosphere’ but there simply wasn’t enough light to illuminate Jane. If I exposed for Jane, the lamp was pure white and burned out. In the end I exposed for the lamp but there is also a flash unit just out of shot beside the lamp resting on another little table the same height as the lamp table. Check the shadows and you can see it’s effect :)
The flash of course is daylight balanced whilst the lamp is tungsten. So I used a CTO gel on the flash to balance it to tungsten, and a softbox to make the light less harsh. Because it was so close to the lamp it was burning the lamp out terribly. I don’t have cinefoil or snoots, so I made a baffle using Bacofoil which was sellotaped to the softbox.

To further complicate things my tripod does not go low enough for the angle I wanted. So I used a DVD rack on it’s side, with 3 DVD’s on top to rest the camera on and a wad of kitchen towel under the front to level it up. Sounds professional eh? Hahaha! What the hell, I got the shots as you can see and both me and Jane are over the moon with them.

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Another leak, updated

This time I can’t blame this on Musa and Isatlan lol
I’d noticed with all this wet weather that there was a small amount of water coming from under the fire. I just wrote about it here. Sure enough, it was coming down the flue and ending up on the floor under the carpet. When I repaired the leak from when Musa fitted my satellite dish in 2006, as a precaution I had used some sealant as I knew the flue was leaking then. The sealant comes in a roll about an inch wide and I had used enough to form a base underneath the rubber that the flue pipe sits on. Clearly this sealant is useless because that’s where the leak is.

I went to Canwell Caravans who have had their place revamped and it looks really nice now. They had a flue pipe in for £7.99 and since fitting it it’s rained non-stop but no more leak.

The scary thing was that as I was replacing the pipe, I noted that the wood under the aluminium roof is so sodden that the first 3-4 mm actually falls apart when touched with a finger. :(  This will be as a result of the leak that went undetected for years and I hope this doesn’t weaken the roof!

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Laundry blues

In Birmingham to visit my friend, I decided to go to the laundrette in Boldmere. It’s quite run down and old and not that clean, but the machines work and they clean and dry your clothes (just) so all is good. There’s a lane of parking outside and a sign said 1 hour maximum wait with no return for an hour. I asked inside and was told “No worries, they never hassle us here.” So I set about doing my washing which given the age and condition of the machine was slightly high in price buy hey ho.

The drier was even worse: the glass was held in with silicone resin! lol It was also 50p for 4 minutes, which is a LOT compared to most laundrettes I visit.

I got chatting to the lady who worked there and during the conversation I remarked that the road outside was very busy and had been since about 7:30 am. She said that it always was busy but the trailer parked up didn’t help matters. I glanced outside and asked which trailer. “The big white one,” she replied, “it’s too big for this road and it oughtn’t to be parked there.” I said “You mean that camper?” and she nodded. I continued “That’s mine. It’s in the bay, fully within the white lines. It’s not in the way of traffic but the queue is actually on the other side anyway.” She glanced up sharply “Oh it’s yours?” I said “Yes, I have a friend in Sutton that I’m visiting so I’ve come here to do my laundry.” “Ohh it’s lovely!” she suddenly said. “I’d love to have one of those, you must love it.” She backtracked amazingly and it was so sudden and seamless that it was quite amusing.

Anyway we continued conversation and it turns out she lives in a static caravan on a site nearby. She likes it but wishes she “had wheels on it to move now and again.” Ahhhhhhhh thought I…there’s the reason behind the comment about my van blocking the road. She’s jealous! Amazing how petty some people can be, and how quickly they backtrack when they realise.

I’d put £4 in the drier and some things like jeans were still not dry but as that was double what I normally pay I said sod it and took my gear out. I can dry stuff in the van anyway. I smiled as I drove away thinking to myself, at least I’m not blocking the road anymore!

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Newcastle and Gateshead quayside

I was going through some photos to give to someone and I found one that’s never seen the light of day, so to justify it’s living space on my hard drive I decided to show it here.

It’s a photo of the Newcastle and Gateshead Quayside, showing the Baltic arts centre and Sage building, and also some of the bridges over the river Tyne including the new Millennium or ‘Blinking Eye’ bridge.

View from Ouseburn

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Another bloody leak! This time last year I was heading to Scotland and had to stop at Carlisle and repair the leaking box on the roof that the incompetent satellite fitters had put on. You can read about that here. I got it sorted in the end but in the process I put some of that sealant that comes on a roll, underneath the rubber seal for the flue. Extra protection I thought. Then there I am with wet feet, dreading looking in the wardrobe and sure enough, you can see the water stain on the card sleeve that covers the flue pipe. Grrr! So there’s another job to do. So much for that sealant too, it wasn’t cheap!

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Failed again

Sadly NE Campers of Portobello, Chester le Street has failed me again, so I won’t be returning there.

Some 3 years or so ago I took the van to them as the fridge wasn’t working on gas. It worked fine on mains, but when using gas it would stay lit for an hour, a week, a month, then inexplicably go off. The gas was still lit, but the fridge no longer cooling. So I took it into NE Campers and after about 3 hours they had replaced a small plastic cap in the vent tube which has nothing to do with the operation of the fridge. They also replaced a hinge on a cupboard door which had seized.

I’d only gone 100 yards when I realised that someone had left a small metal step inside the van. So I returned this and when I got back I realised the carpet was filthy. Greasy oily footprints all over the carpet. I  was very surprised, as were they when I spoke to them and they offered to wash the carpet. I declined the offer as I did in fact have a new one on order anyway.

About 2 weeks later I rang them and said the fridge was no different. They said to bring it in so I did and they spent 4 hours on it this time. They said there was a lot of sand in the vents and this was the problem so they had cleaned it all out. When I picked the van up it had not been all cleaned out, but never mind I pretty much knew this was not the fault anyway. They said the fridge had been running the whole time. Yes it had, but it was not cooling *sigh*

So some months later I tried the fridge again, it worked for a while then stopped cooling again after 2 days. I decided that as I’d only had use of it for a few years anyway I would stop using it altogether and I turned the gas off to it and used it as nothing more than storage. I was slightly irked that NE Campers had had my money twice and no fix was made, but to be frank I am a little tired of fighting companies who can’t/won’t do as they charge you for.

Then the other day I found the hinge sticking on the cupboard door: the same one that they’d replaced the hinge on. When I had a good look, one of the screws was almost out and the wood was splintered around the base. I have no idea at present how I’m going to repair it, but I do know that I’m not going back to NE Campers.

Greasy footprints on my carpet, things left in my van, repairs not done, and one repair that made more damage. That to me is a few things too much so bye bye NE Campers, I won’t be returning to you again.

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New lens!

Since selling my Canon 24-105 L series zoom lens last summer I’ve come to realise what a fantastic lens this actually was and how much I miss it. So I was very pleased to take a call from Portus Digital today to say my new one is ready for collection from Shrewsbury. I was visiting Jane soon anyway, so I left Keswick and got here 4 hours later. Can’ wait til tomorrow when I can stick it on the MK III and get the 17-40 sent off for repair.

Happy days. lens







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In mourning

I drove back from Aberdeen tonight and sadly watched my father die. He’d been ill for some time with vascular dementia and had been very ill for some weeks.

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Booster needs a Boost

Last year the pull cord on my SDMO Booster generator snapped and I replaced it with some tough para cord I found in B and Q.  Everything was fine although it wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever taken apart.  I didn’t mind really as it’s lasted about 6 years before needing replacing.

However some time after that I noticed that when I started it up, after a minute or 3 the engine would cut out. I just started it again and it was fine. After some months, it cut out twice and each time I had to start it again. When I had changed the pull cord some oil had leaked from the sump into the air filter as I had it on it’s side. (Duh at me) So I put it in for a full service which cost me £60.  New filter, things cleaned, plug done, oil changed etc so when it started doing the same thing again I was bothered. I went back to the place that serviced it and explained and they shrugged and said they could do nothing as it must be the electrics. I can find nowhere that seems to repair generators which is odd.

Lately, it takes much longer to start. This morning I had to restart it 8 times before it ran. Each time it runs for about a minute, then about 10 seconds each time I restart, until it finally runs. It’s getting  a major drag now so I think it’s time I stripped it down and see what I can do. I can’t really make it much worse, and Clarke’s do a 2Kw suitcase gennie now for £450 so it’s not going to cost me the earth if I have to replace it. Obviously I don’t want to have to, but I want to see if I can fix something as it’s driving me bonkers.

I’ll let you know how it goes :)

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Door delight

Well, you can get double length rivets. I bought some and they are reassuringly inexpensive too! I drilled the old ones out and used two on the door hinge and what a great difference. The hinge is still stiff as a nun in a whore hDoor rubberouse but at least the rivets don’t come out when I open and close it.

I also split the door rubber at the lock with a Stanley knife. I then pulled it off and reattached it right round the frame and it was been fab ever since. Odd thing is the gap that I cut is only about 1 cm wide. Yet that small amount was pulling the rubber off all the time. Even on very windy days there is no draught through there either, so cutting it by the lock was the right thing to do. Still, fixed now, ready for winter so I’m chuffed, another job out of the way.

While I’m on, I’ve tried out the blown air heating I fitted and it is magnificent! My toes get warm and everything! Even Jack got down on the floor at one point and laid in front of the blower ha! I think it’s time to start my winter clean. Check for things as I go so I don’t get any nasty surprises.


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R.I.P. Aunty Doreen

Sadly we buried Aunty Doreen today in Durham. She died suddenly of a heart attack last week. She’d had a good life, what more can you ask? Had a great get together in Pity Me with family some of whom I haven’t seen for years so that was a bonus.

Now back to real life, 25,000 more photos to process and 2 more websites to do. My main one is going to be www.caramelphotography.co.uk but it’s blank at the moment. Keep checking back though as I will get round to it soon!

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Busy busy busy

Time seems to be getting away from me! So busy with one thing and another so not posting much yet.

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T Mobile going the way of Vodafone?

I don’t often use my T mobile dongle as 3 network is so reliable, however I keep it as a back up as T Mobile is usually 2nd best. 3 network are doing all kinds of strange things at the moment so I decided to use my T mobile dongle for a while and oh…what a palaver!

Because of the things going on here I’ve not used the internet as much anyway so I had not used the dongle for 6 months. It cost me about a fiver to find this out, as T mobile’s support line is an 0845 number, which as we all know costs on a mobile. With 3 network it’s 21p a minute on the tariff I’m on. So, 16 minutes on hold waiting to speak to someone, then another 9 minutes whilst they did their stuff means the call cost me £5.25p That’s some scam the companies have got going with these 0845 numbers eh? It’s funny that they proliferated just as mobiles were beginning to boom…

Anyway, so my dongle is live now and the next day I try to top up. Oh wait, it’s not live at all yet. What happened there? I happened to be near a T mobile shop so I called in. The staff were friendly and helpful however they can’t do a thing, I need to speak to CS. One of the staff kindly lent me their mobile to call on, I assume it was a works mobile. So the lady on CS was brisk and told me my dongle was cancelled. I said “no that was yesterday but now it’s reactivated.” She said “you can’t reactivate once it’s cancelled”, I replied “well it was only suspended, and would remain that way for 3 months unless I called and reactivated it, as I was doing.” She suddenly remembered that yes, that’s how it worked and we were able to move on to the next question.

The next one was verifying who I was and this was bizarre. She asked me for a password, which the guy yesterday did and although I don’t recall setting a password I said the second and third letters that he’d asked for and he accepted them. However when she asked for the word she said the one I gave her was incorrect. It turns out the password I thought it was had the same 2nd and 3rd letters as the correct password. How bizarre was that! Anyway, she wasn’t happy that I put her through the mill on that one but hey, every single thing now needs a password or pin. Bank, online forums, credit card and bank card, my internet, online banking, telephone banking, my WordPress account, my email accounts, for God’s sake even my bloody van radio needs a pin number! So it’s understandable that sometimes we’re going to get mixed up.

We got through that but because of the problems she wanted to verify my personal details. Se we went through that too and I failed that check. She can’t tell me why I failed, as that can offer a clue as to where I went wrong. Can you feel my frustration levels rising?

I take a wild guess and say hey, I changed my address a few weeks ago, I bet you didn’t update it despite my phone call giving the new address? Sure enough, I gave the old postcode and she had a smiley face on again.

So let’s take stock. So far I’ve paid over £5 of my money and half an hour of my time, then God knows how much on their bill and another 20 minutes so far of my time, and so far we’ve established my address, password, and the fact I have  a problem!! lol you have to laugh, really.

Anyway, I explain that I can’t top up or login to my account online so there must be an error. After some time of clicking keys she says ok that’s it, all sorted. I have no idea what she sorted but she said you can top up online now. We also registered a top up card so that I can use that. Excellent. Away I go a happy bunny.


Well sorry, but this story doesn’t have a happy ending yet. I try to top up the next day and…what a palaver. I can’t log in to my online account, and I can’t top up. One of the problems is that when I try to login, it says the page cannot be found. That’s 4 days that’s been off now. There was some weird way I managed to finally get at the top up screen and I honestly can’t remember how I did it, so I went to stick £2 for one day and guess what…it wouldn’t work lol

I gave up eventually and stuck £15 on which did work, then tried to select a one day out of that top up which will cost £2 out of my £15. Guess what? hahhahaha It didn’t work!! I even topped another £5 just to make sure but I tried and tried and it just wasn’t having it although when in my frustration I clicked on 7 days, it worked! Well I’m angry at that cos I don’t want 7 days but at least it worked so that’s something. I connected to the internet, worked well, no problems. Maybe I can put this all behind me….lol

So the next day I try to log in and guess what? Yup…you need to top up!!!

Stress levels through the roof now. Got onto Twitter, and rapped T mobile them for being useless, and someone actually replied! However all they did was ask for some details, and 24 hours later I got a reply asking me to verify my account with some numbers. I did that. Next day they replied sorry, some of that info is incorrect. Taking a stab in the dark I say maybe my postcode? Here’s my old one? Yep…now they’re happy lmao Believe it or not this went on for 4 days. Eventually they tweeted back that you could indeed top up one day now.  I replied that that was the lesser issue and the main one was that I’d paid for 7 days and only got 1. And the outcome? Take a deep breath….”Hi Gary, if you did not get full use of your MMB data, please call 08454122993 for MBB support. Thanks”


A little bird tells me that since merging with Orange and creating EE, they actually haven’t merged. They merged as companies, but the structures to administer accounts are apparently still separate and they are having massive problems trying to work between T mobile and EE, as Orange are having massive problems merging their Orange structures with EE. Clearly they suffer from the British company disease which infects almost every business I know. Don’t plan, just grow as quick as you can, and solve the problems later. It does remind me of Vodafone. When I had an account with them there were parts of their site which were broken for an unbelievable 2 years.

So now I have a choice. Use up a gallon of diesel to go to the T mobile shop and use their phone to sort this all out, or use my own phone and sort it all out spending the equivalent of a gallon of diesel on 0845 charges.

People still call 3 network to me and slate them as being rubbish, with foreign call centres, poor connectivity and cheap devices but hey, you all know how I live and 3 network rarely fail me all around this country. And when they do they usually fix it there and then, if not, really quickly. *touch wood* You don’t get attitude off their staff and contrary to popular belief I have never yet had a problem understanding them.

All hail 3 network, I hope 4g is up and running soon.

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The door to hell

Stupid door hinge! A few years ago I bought a new hinge for the habitation door from Glossop caravans as one of them was sticking and was pulling the rivets away form the fly screen. It’s a double hinge, fly-screen and door combined. I did ask on a couple of forums if they could be lubricated but oddly no-one had a definitive answer. The thing is they have plastic caps which almost prevents access to the hinge pin, so I wasn’t sure how to go about it. Anyway it’s been sticking again for some time and it’s quite frustrating because the rivets have come out of the fly screen again. So I set about trying to lubricate it. After a feeble attempt I snapped the plastic cover but on the plus side, I got some WD 40 in lol now it’s moving lovely so I’m well chuffed. I got some double length rivets too as I noticed when the old ones came out, they weren’t really long enough to get proper purchase on the metal. I’ll do that tomorrow and hope that’s the end of my hinge problems.

I also rang the excellent Perthshire caravans who stock the netting used for the fly-screen. It’s torn cos silly Jack when he was young kept forgetting it was there and trying to barge out of the open door lol Relly funny to watch but the netting is hanging loose now and very unsightly.

Speaking of doors, I also note that every winter the rubber seal that goes all the way around tends to shrink which mean the corners come away and hang about an inch from the frame. I think I’m going to just make a cut near the lock and see if they allows me to put it back into place. I’ll keep you posted :)

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Sad day…

It was so cold I had to put the fire on today whilst at work. At least I finally found out that my carefully fitted blown air heating system works nicely. But…say goodbye to lots of gas money!

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inject some happiness

Took the van to Durham Auto Services at Beamish this morning to have the injectors checked. Apparently everything is fine there, but the mechanic reckoned when he drove it the clutch clipped slightly, and this could account for the extra fuel use. Hmmm. The clutch bite is right at the top of the pedal, but I can still wheel spin in 2nd gear. (Don’t ask!) Can you do that if your clutch is worn? He could be right I have no idea, it’s something worth thinking about.

Anyway he checked the diagnostic and it said Mass Air Flow fault. You may recall that debacle way back with the K and N filter. I finally slung that filter in the bin and since then I’ve not had a single problem. However, I knew the EMS has been cleared in the last 12 months so there must be a fault somewhere. He checked the air filter and whilst dirty, it wasn’t really bad. I did note that the rubber seal on the filter housing was missing. The mechanic said they don’t use one but they do, and the last time the air filter housing was disassembled was when Peugeot Newcastle had it. Say no more….I bought a new filter anyway, under £20 from Euro Car Parts on Team Valley. Out of curiosity I priced up the seal but you can’t get it, you have to buy the filter housing. £96!! hahaahahah

So, the conclusion is, the injectors are fine, the air filter is now replaced, brakes are fixed, (need to replace the load balancer) and there is still no clear indication of why I am getting almost 100 miles less per tank than I used to.

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5D Happiness

As I posted, I went to get my zoom repaired at APM Cameras in Newcastle on Tyne the other day following the tripod fall in Dornie and I noticed a 5D Classic for sale for £450. It looked in great condition, and was labeled “new shutter”. So as I still have my old one with the broken sensor, I thought there was no harm in asking if he was able to repair it. Sadly the answer, as I expected was no. I’ve had the 5D in a cupboard for about 3 years now since I bust it in Wales and was hanging on to it simply because it cost so much money when new!

Anyway, we got to chatting and he indicated it might be of use to him for spare parts, so I took it into the shop. I still had the brand new low pass filter that I’d bought 3 years ago, and although the sensor was beyond repair, you can’t buy the filters anymore, so I thought that might be worth something.

So, I gave him the broken camera and the filter and he gave me the 5D, for £230. Utter bargain I’d say as when I got back to the van and stuck a lens on it, it performed flawlessly. In fact, a simple test shows that there is very little if any discernible difference between it and my 5D MK III using the same lens.  I’m going to do some proper shots later and will post some here to show the difference.

So now it’s my backup/second camera and quite frankly the only thing I miss from the Mk III is the ability to back button focus. I like good news :)


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‘Professional’ photographers? I think not!

Earlier this year I was talking to a friend and bemoaning the fact that I had lots of old or unwanted photography equipment lying around, but I won’t use ebay as it seems to be full of crooks. He suggested using Facebook and gave me a handful of good links. I’d never used Facebook groups so I was keen to test it out and sure enough, within days of putting my first item out there, I sold an old camera bag that i didn’t want. Excellent I thought, time to get rid of some filters, lenses, an old flash, and a load of other bits, and maybe put the money to good use on my craving for the new 5D Mk III which is £2,000.

All was fabulous for a month or two until I got a message from the owner of one of the groups saying my post to sell a lens had been deleted and she had to ask me if I was a dealer, as there’d been complaints from other members of the group. I assured her I was not a dealer at all, and she said OK and  I continued selling stuff. I also joined 2 more selling groups and posted the same ads there. One night I made a mistake…norty me! One of the rules on almost all of those groups is that you cannot discuss someone’s price, unless you’re genuinely negotiating. I hadn’t read the rules, so I asked someone did they know that the price they had on their second hand camera was very close to brand new price? I was promptly made aware of the rule and apologised and backed of. I’d forgotten all about it until a few days later when I had an item for sale, and this bloke decided to come in my thread and be sarcastic about my asking price. When I politely told him to get lost he then reminded me what I’d done a few nights earlier on another thread. Well says I, does 2 wrongs make it right? Anyway. I deleted the thread so his posts would disappear, but he made some more on my next one. And the next one…and the next one! For 4 solid hours he hounded me around that group, ruining every thread I started. I even posted in his private FB and asked him to stop. But he refused and I was forced to block him in the end.

Another guy, I wanted to buy his camera. He was selling for £450 and wanted me to transfer the money direct to his account. The group we were part of recommended an escrow company called Transpact. They take the buyers money, when the buyer has received the item OK they release the money to the seller. It’s a flat fee of £2.99 and it had worked fine for me before so I suggested we use that. He asked what it was an I explained to which he replied “Sounds like a perfect scam to me!” I tried to explain it wasn’t and the group themselves recommended them but he wasn’t having it. His attitude stank and he was really quite insulting. He was…a professional photographer!

Now, weeks later I was on a wedding photographers group, full of pro photographers. A great place to learn methinks. A row started which the often did in that group, and a woman who was central to the row message me privately for whatever reason, and said “I really am not a c… you know.” I said “well I have no idea who you are really but if they say you are you must be because how could they be wrong! :p” Indicating the arrogance of some of the group and how they behaved.
Within a minute she had complained to the group admin that I had privately messaged her and called her a c…  When I was asked I tried to say what had been said, but the guy from the other night who hounded me came in and started slagging me off also. *sigh* Very childish…and I was banned. Well, that’s not such a bad thing. I’d joined the group hoping to learn, but found they were very scornful of anyone new, and anyone who was not a pro. All in all, no loss. However, at this point my opinion of pro photographers has diminished significantly.

So, I carry on. Selling in selling groups, buying bits and pieces, and chatting in threads for fun and learning. And indeed I was learning, and being inspired.

I finally raised the money for my shiny new 5D Mk III, but within weeks it was faulty so had to go in for repair. (It was eventually replaced) so I placed a spoof ad in the groups I was in asking for a second hand one for £1,000. Who knows if I might have got one or not, but in one group I got some severe abuse for doing this from the ‘Pro’s’. Comments were such as “Do you not understand the real value of equipment?” Do you want everything for nothing!” “Buy cheap and sell for more you rip off!” and they were some of the nicer ones. I was actually flabbergasted, but my nature is that I hate keyboard warriors who think they can abuse others’ from the safety of their bedroom. So I politely kept explaining my stance and my basic argument was, “Does it actually affect you?” I deleted the thread in the end as it was so full of nasty comments and started a new one. Same thing happened. And again, and again, and again. 7 times. If these are pro’s, what were they doing with their time!!

I messaged the admin of the selling group and explained what was going on and … I was banned!! He explained politely that I had caused an uproar and so he’d had to delete me from the group. I was genuinely shocked and hurt. That’s like kicking a child out of school because he got bullied. Annoyingly, the same thing was happening in the other 2 selling groups too. To cut a long story short, I was banned from those also for the same thing, and I learned later that one man was admin on 2 of the groups, another was admin on all 3, and yet another was admin on a different 2 of them. They all knew each other and were all friends and were all…professional photographers! I wish I didn’t have to admit that this upset me greatly. Firstly, I’d done really well selling stuff on the groups, got rid of loads of unwanted kit, bought lots of stuff new, and made a few contacts. To be targeted with such hatred by so many people who are supposed to be professional was shocking. I could barely believe what had happened. I’m not soft, or overly sensitive, but I was quite sad for some time that people could be this way, like a pack of dogs.

Anyway, I found more groups to be part of not for buying and selling, just for chatting and meeting like minded people. My experience was that the vast majority of the groups was filled with professional photographers, often the same bunch in all of the groups. The attitudes, the abuse, the childish behaviour, unbelievable. I was brought up on a  rough estate but the sheer and consistent disrespect for anyone in these groups was worse than that. It was appalling and I blocked people like mad and left groups constantly. In all the years I’ve been on the internet I can honestly say I have not seen behaviour so bad as from professional photographers.

Another group was started by a photographer specialising in lighting. His knowledge is almost boundless and the group got off to a fantastic start. However after stating on a thread that I was a fan of one particular wedding and portrait photographer, the owner and admin of this group messaged me privately stating the man I was a fan of was not really that good, was arrogant, and had moved abroad as he could not make it work here! I was dumbfounded. Later it became evident that he had been successful in his recruiting because a thread started up and they mauled this guy in it. They were so rude, and I was moved to post myself and say they were like a pack of dogs. All of them, long term professional photographers, all of them nothing better than schoolyard bullies.

I finally found a really professional sounding group: the National Photographic Society. I observed for some time before posting, and there was not many fights in there. So I started contributing to threads in a simple way and it was good. Until a thread started one day, named PC Vs Mac. Now as you know I’ve tried long and hard to get an iMac to work in my camper, but they simply use too much power compared to a PC. So I said that and offered the figures, and explained I’d love a Mac, but this was where a PC scored over them. Instantly I got attitude from one of the members, who turned out to be non other than the guy who said using an escrow service to buy his camera was a scam! I trod carefully so as not to upset him, but he was having none of it. He was insulting, sarcastic and sneering in all of his comments. I finally told him that I recognised him and he clearly had an issue so we should take it private. He’d ruined the thread by now with his sarcasm and insults, as had one or two others who were joining in. I did message him and he was the most arrogant, insulting, rude person ever. I explained over and over that my opinion was simply a matter of 5 tests and here were the results but no, he was not having it, Mac’s could not possibly be that bad blah blah blah. Finally he called me a freak and blocked me.

Interestingly, I made a post on my own FB status about how I was a bit fed up with these so called pro photographers, especially when you go on a semi-official, professional group like the National Photographic Society. You just expect things to be better! Which in fact they were, I was insulted by fewer than I would be on other groups lol!

Anyway, the Chairman of the National Photographic Society, who had asked me earlier for some info he found interesting and I’d located it in my archives and he didn’t have the decency to say thank you, messaged me regarding the thread. I am ace at reading tone, even from text. Remember, for almost 8 years I’ve moderated chat rooms, I’m skilled at reading people even when they’re just typing on a screen. And I knew instantly that this chairman was not the friendliest of people. However I was polite and he said that I was unfair for knocking his group in my post. (He saw my status as I had friended him in order to pass him the info he had asked for)

I explained how I felt and he agreed that I had kept my temper and that in fact he not only had commented to this rude guy that I had kept my temper, but also that he ought to wind his neck in. I replied, why didn’t you tell him to stop? Ban him for 24 hours? Or at very least apologise to me on his behalf seeing as you’re the Chairman of the group. But no, all he was concerned about was how I was dissing his group, saying it had thousands of members and I had met only one bad one. In fact it has 1800 members, and I’d met about 4 bad ones in that thread. But that wasn’t my point anyway. He himself was part of the thread with Abusive Man, and whilst he says he messaged him and told him to wind his neck in clearly that didn’t work, but not one word was said in public on the thread to support me. And over the next 2 days not one time did he even say, I’m sorry that you had a bad experience there. He banged on at me for 2 days about how I was in the wrong for dissing his group, how I was wrecking 5 years of hard work, how I was being unfair and bitter. You know what it reminded me of? Cynical old people who blame a short skirt for the reason a woman got raped. That was his attitude, I was the victim, yet I was in the wrong for complaining about it. So, chairman of the National Photographers Society, you can repeat over and over your claims that it’s my fault for whingeing about being insulted and abused, however I think you had the opportunity to stop what was happening, and fix it afterwards, and you did nothing except have a go at me. Bullying might work with frightened kids in school, but bullying adults to get your own way simply shows you for what you are.

So, as you can all imagine, professional photographers, in general because not every single one is the same, are so far in my experience, arrogant, insulting, rude, abusive unhelpful and spiteful bullies, and they’re allowed to be by the admins who run the groups who are also usually professional photographers.
Let me advise anyone who has an interest in photography and wishes to join a Facebook group to learn and to meet like minded people. You need to be strong, block a lot, ignore a lot, and don’t get involved too much. Even when people seem to be your friend they turn out not to be. One group of amateur photographers I am a member of is excellent. Full of happy, helpful, friendly people who just like taking photographs. It’s called Lets Talk Photography North East. There is another one, a pro group where I have never even seen an argument let alone a fight, it’s called Brett Harkness Photography Training and is owned and run by the renowned wedding photographer. He’s a good guy and doesn’t really come in and spout rules, I’m a landscape photographer and I feel at home there, although his group is primarily focussed to weddings.

Wow, that’s probably the longest post I’ve ever made in almost 8 years. That shows my strength of feeling for these awful people. but right now I see an interesting thread starting in Lets Talk Photography North East so I’m off to join in!

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