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.

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 🙂

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.

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!

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!

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

Leaking!

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!

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.

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