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.

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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.

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.

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.

 

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.

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!

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!

Whahooo!!

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!!

Wheeeeeeeels!

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!

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!