The mouse bites back

Exciting times!

I bought a computer almost a year ago from PC Specialist and it’s been faulty in several ways since a month or two after I got it. At the moment I have been over 3 months without a DVD because despite 3 texts and some emails all stating it had been sent it has not and they have even said to me now that they have no intention of sending one until I send the old one back. I offered to do that 2 separate occasions right from the start but at the time they said no it’s not worth it.

One of the long term problems that they could not resolve has been sorted. I found a resolution whilst tinkering one day and it was oh so simple in retrospect.

So, I have done a little bit of research and have found a company that is happy to pursue them for my debt, which is the cost of buying it back off me, and an hourly rate for all the time I have spent either without the use of it or trying to fix it.

I’m quite excited because I’m fed up of companies who think they can do as they like and there’s never any comeback on them so wish me luck!

Sly, deceitful. Yes, Western Digital.

I bought my new 3 tb hard drive, I would dearly have liked Seagate but Western Digital was the only one around at the time. However after buying it with 7200 rpm on the side I was curious as to why software reported it as only 5400 rpm.

I went to a WD support site and was told this…

 
 Well, that sounds like a sort of good idea I think, but on the box it clearly says 7200 rpm, not Intelli power or whatever, and they should sell you what you ask for. I think this is sly marketing and deceitful of Western Digital.

I really wish I hadn’t had to buy one of their drives, and this has just reconfirmed that I despise them as a company and still have issues over losing 5 years of ‘everything’ following 2 hard drives crashes!

Now, what’s the number for my therapist?

I went back to PC World to complain because you can’t sell a ‘green’ drive in a blue box when you also sell a ‘blue’ drive. It’s out and out cheating. The lad there was trying to explain something about spin speeds and he clearly also thought I’d bought a blue drive which spins at 7200 rpm, but didn’t know how to read the spin speed. That’s interesting when store staff believe the same as me, kinda backs up my case.

Anyway, I got on to Western Digital about this and calmly explained everything. The upshot? They remarkably refunded the purchase price of the drive, and told me to keep the drive! I was astonished at how easily they solved the problem but I don’t want anything for nothing, so I took a few days to wipe the drive clean of any data and returned it to them. Even if I did keep it it would probably fail anyway.

Glad I got my money back though…grand result.

Ohhhh Driver heaven!

I can’t quite believe it but…I’ve fixed my computer!

I’ve been trying to fix the driver problem on my computer for almost a week now. I’ve failed at every attempt although I’m not entirely sure why as it’s a pretty straightforward process. I was starting to run out of ideas though but I have loads of useful programs downloaded over the years and I was looking through them when I found one called DriverMax. It is from 2003 so it’s ancient in terms of computers but nevertheless I installed and ran it. However after scanning my computer it tried to go to it’s online database then crashed. Out of curiosity I checked and they do have a website still and there is still a driver program on there and it is still free!

So I downloaded the new one installed it and scanned and sure enough there was my network card. The one that has been giving me grief for nearly a week.

I clicked the download link and it installed the driver it had found for the network card and suddenly, in the window I had open of device manager, the network card began to operate.

With baited breath I unplugged the phone, turned on the wireless hotspot and waited…suddenly there it was…LIFE! Well, INTERNET anyway lol but WIRELESS internet!!
I am truly overjoyed lol

If anyone has a driver problem you’d best start here…
http://www.innovative-sol.com/drivermax/

My life

It’s 02:37 in the morning. I’ve been up doing stuff and watching Wild with Reece Witherspoon, and messing on Facebook, and I let the dog out for a quick wee.

I’m in a lay-by right next to Loch Ness. It’s pitch black and as quiet as the grave apart from the rushing water sound as there is a waterfall right next to me on the rock wall. It flows into a sump then under the road and into the loch.

It’s so peaceful and so nice and I go to sleep and wake up in places like this and it reminds me occasionally when I need it why I live this life of adventure. It’s definitely not an easy life at times but neither is anyone’s. However it’s the best life I’ve had and I can’t imagine living any other way now.

I was speaking to a work colleague earlier, she’d like to begin a relationship with me but as I said to her what do I have to offer, living in a van and travelling around most of the time. She’s a lovely woman, very pretty and smart and I’d jump at the chance of a date normally but this life I lead transcends such things. I think I’d have to write a whole novel to try and explain what I get from it. Even after 8 years I sometimes find new things myself.

I think I titled this blog correctly, it probably will be the last great adventure I’ll have in my life.

Movie night

Been working all day trying to get this computer sorted but nothing I do can fix it yet. Not known anything like this in my 35 years of messing with computers.
So I’m settling down with a movie called Wild with Reece Witherspoon. I know nothing about it except she’s a hiker.

A salad sarnie, a movie and a JD. Life’s simple pleasures eh?

The Nutcracker Suite

I was walking the dog along the river bank in Inverness this afternoon when I passed a large building which turned out to be the Eden Court centre which houses amongst other things a theatre.  There were adverts for the last night of the Nutcracker suite.
I first saw this in 1993 I think it was with a then girlfriend who worked at the Newcastle on Tyne Empire Theatre. It was an appalling performance sadly.

Anyhow I popped in on the off chance and remarkably they had a cancellation so for £23 I got a front row ticket in the balcony. The perfect seats if you ask me.
https://www.eden-court.co.uk/whats-on/shows/the-nutcracker-1
What a brilliant, beautiful stunning performance. Magical sets, beautiful costumes, excellent dancing, faultless music and a great audience.
That’s pretty much what I really needed right now too so an excellent night right at the right time.

The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker

SCOTTISH BALLET – THE NUTCRACKER

EMPIRE THEATRE

SCOTTISH BALLET

Choreography: Peter Darrell, featuring original scenarios by Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa
Music: Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Original Philip Prowse designs reimagined by Lez Brotherston.

Crafted for Scottish Ballet by Peter Darrell, the company’s founding Artistic Director, a famous story teller and incredible dancemaker,
this Nutcracker will create magical memories for a new generation. Over forty years after its premier audiences once again have an opportunity to share this production with families and friends.

After a fun-filled Christmas party full of magic and celebrations, young Carla falls asleep and dreams that she helps the Nutcracker Prince to defeat an army of giant mice. She is rewarded by a visit to the glittering Land of Ice and Snow where snowflakes come to life, sparkling as they dance, then onwards to the magical Kingdom of Sweets – the enchanted Realm of the beautiful Sugar Plum Fairy.

Peter Darrell’s magical world of The Nutcracker has been reimagined by Olivier Award winning designer Lez Brotherston, adding sumptuous layers of plush Victoriana and traditional festive fare to the original 1973 production.

The Scottish Ballet Orchestra accompanies live, performing the world famous Tchaikovsky score.

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Water carry on…

The main fresh water inlet on my van is a hole in the side of the wall with a lockable cap. It goes in about 2 inches, then a hose much like a hoover hose turns 90 degrees and goes down into the main fresh water tank. This short hose is ribbed like a hoover pipe too so when I am trying to fit the hose down the hole, it catches on the ribs and as the run is so sharp, 90 degrees, it’s a real struggle every time to get the hose in. The hose must be in properly otherwise the water just comes straight back out.

So I had this idea. You know the flexible spouts you got for fuel canisters? I had one of those so I cut it short and put it inside the main hose. However after a few tries it was clearly too stiff and narrow and was more hassle than enough. So I decided on a piece of the hose that is used for the drains in the van. It’s still slightly ribbed but much smoother than the existing one so I went off to find some and I came across a hidden gem. Highland Camper vans just outside of Inverness.

I went to see them and they had some small seals for gas hoses, I’d been looking for these for ages since that awful Caravan Clinic lost one of mine. They also sold me a metre of that drain hose and a tube of Sikaflex which is in fact quite hard to get hold of. I’ve got none in and every camper should always have a tube as there is nothing else quite like it either for adhesion or leak fixing. They even ordered a new rail for the bike rack as I’ve bent mine.

I was reversing one dark rainy night and a tree came out of nowhere and ran straight behind me! TUT (Which reminds me I must get another light to fit as a reversing lamp cos the one on the van is next to useless)

Anyway Highland campers rang me 2 days later saying my rail was in and yes of course it was a couple of £’s more than you’d pay at a big chain, this is the Highlands. But you know I won’t pay too much for stuff so I felt it was very reasonable.

They impressed me by their small but well targeted stock and the ability to get things at short notice. If you’re in the Highlands pop in if you need anything:

Highland Campers Ltd t/a Highland Campervans
Kerrowaird Farm House, Dalcross, Inverness IV2 7JQ Scotland
T: +44 (0)1667 493976
E:

Mountain bike and his coat of ‘no’ colours

Something else that suffered in the storm was the cover on my mountain bike. It was a Halfords one for £20 and by far the best bike cover I could wish for. However there was no way it could withstand the 113 mph winds especially as it already had tears in from where I’d reversed into trees. And walls. And gates. And lamp posts. Anyway…I went into Halfords here but they only had the cheap but good covers meant for bikes sitting in the yard or whatever. But I found a huge cycle shop called Tiso’s in Inverness and they sold me a cover for £20 which I thought was a good price til I got it back to the van and found it was cheap rubbish.

Honestly, you know those plastic tarpaulins you get from the £ shop? They’re useful for many things, this cover is literally 2 of those, laid on top of each other and 3 sides stitched. I am not kidding they are a total and utter piss-taking rip off. I really can’t find any way I can return it as it is what is says on the package, a plastic tarp rain cover for a bike.

Biggest load of shite I’ve ever spent £20 on and Tiso’s brand themselves as all things to all cyclists with an aim for quality and customer service. BOLLOX!! Anyone selling this shite should sell if for £5 as a budget option to those who want a stopgap cover.

I did manage to get it on the mountain bike, although it’s perfectly square shape doesn’t help and means a lot of space is wasted. Also because of that the bike pedals, chain bottom and almost half the wheels are exposed and anyone with a mountain bike knows what salt spray can do to a bike. It’s going to have to do until I can find another Halfords one, which covers the whole bike. Or any cover really which is not just cheap shite plastic bag.

Tiso’s I won’t ever buy anything from you whilst here because if you sell this utter crap as the only bike cover you sell, then what other cheap crap have you got for sale?

Damned leak

The rain has been almost non stop here for nearly 2 weeks now. And I went into the wardrobe for something and there it was, a leak. Really bad too. So bad that my brand new, never used Canon printer was actually so full of water that I had to put it in the sink to drain out before throwing it away.

Spare towels, shirts, coats everything had to be taken out and I found a laundrette to wash them all toute suite. Of course the wardrobe itself was soaked. After an inspection it was clear what had happened. When I was sheltering from the 113 mph winds on Skye I parked in the lee of a tall wall beside some pine trees. I was barely bothered by the wind but I recall a scraping sound as a branch tickled the roof. I think one of them must have hit the gas flue and made it loose and so there was  basically a large hole in the roof for 3 days in pouring rain.
Still, at least I know what it was and it was fixed easily, simply tighten the locknut up and make sure the rubber seal was making a seal on the roof.

That part of the roof has leaked on and off for years now ever since Isatlan messed up when fitting that accursed satellite dish. The last time it was fixed was back in 2012 when I was last in Scotland and I wondered if that was the last I’d know of it lol

Cue that dehumidifier…sometimes things just happen for a reason eh?

Pets at home without their food!

I have to LOL at this. I’m running out of food for Jack and he does like the James Wellbeloved turkey and rice, so I log on to Pets at Home in the small hours to make sure there is a store in Inverness and that they have some.

They sure have, collect at store, £43, thank you very kindly I don’t need to think about that anymore.

That is, til I get to the shop the next day to be told by a staff member “Oh you have to wait 3-7 working days for delivery.”
I replied I didn’t want it delivered, I clicked on collect in store and paid by PayPal.
“Yes” she says “Sorry about that but, it has to be delivered to the store from our Coventry warehouse.”

We’re standing next to 2 pallets choc full of James Wellbeloved, 15kg of Turkey and Rice. “There it is” I say, “just give me one of those please.”
“Sorry sir, I’m not allowed to as it would come out of our stock without being paid for, as you bought yours from the online branch of the company, which has a different system.”

What. The. Very. Fuck.

OK so after a long discussion with the staff member who I have to say was fabulous all the way through, I didn’t go to the Terms and Conditions on the website and read that I was buying from Pets At Home Online and not Pets At Home the geographical store. If I had read that fine print I would have found out that not only does it take 3-5 working days to deliver to the store of your choice, but it can take up to 7 days for the Highlands which is classed differently to the rest of the UK.
Despite the fact they have hundreds of bags of James Wellbeloved 15kg Turkey and Rice, I can’t have any unless I pay for it again. But, if I want to do that and collect my bag when it is couriered all the way from Coventry to Inverness, despite them having hundreds of bags here already, then at least I’ll have double the amount so doggy won’t go hungry…

You know when I experience utter stupidity and incompetence like this is makes me think of Woolworths, and JJB sports, Jessops and HMV. These stores have not the faintest clue about common sense and are so arrogant to continue in their way of trading even when it’s shown that they are in fact incompetent and stupid that it’s no wonder they eventually fail. It’s total and utter pandemonium and I despair when I think that whoever makes these rules is actually able to vote and procreate lol

So, if I do run out of Jack’s food I can walk right past the 2 full pallets of James Wellbeloved on sale in Pets at Home, pick up a small bag for a tenner just to keep Jack going until my bag gets couriered all the way from Coventry.

The moral of the story?
Online companies which were born online are generally started by modern progressive people who know what they’re doing and they just work, without any real problems but with the ones that do crop up being resolved quickly. They’re not about the customer, they’re about the bottom line, but to get that bottom line the processes they have are slick, clean, well thought out, efficient and….customer friendly! Hance why I buy from Amazon over and over and over again.
Store based companies who move online are often managed by total fools who ‘think’ they know a lot about retailing because they did it in college, but in fact haven’t a friggin clue what they’re doing and in fact it’s usually the worst paid, shop floor staff who realise things are ridiculous so, next time you want some James Wellbeloved Turkey and Rice, DON’T whatever you do go online to reserve it at the store, just go to the store!
Pets At Home are about as home on the internet as men are on Mars! lol
WOOOOFFFF!!

Weather or not

The weather is still awful and the power is still out on the whole of Skye and an awful lot of the mainland too.  There’s absolutely no value sitting there as I’m wasting time doing bugger all, so off I popped to Inverness for a variety of things I need anyway.

On the way the weather turned even worse and I saw some skid marks in the snow exactly like I’d done some years ago: they skidded slowly to the wrong side of the road, then as the driver (obviously a lorry) corrected it skidded the other way. I was just thinking that he must have been shitting himself as I was when that happened but he managed to get himself straight I noticed a few hundred yards or so later.
Then I turned a corner and there he was, double log trailer, lying on its side in the ditch. Oops!

It took a while to stop but I reversed back and he was sitting by the cab so I got out and asked if he was alright. He said yes and he seemed it but said it would be about an hour before any recovery would come. I told him to come inside and get a cuppa but he refused and said he was fine, which was ridiculous as it was freezing, snowing and blowing a houly and he’d just totalled his hytt and trailer. I said come on, people act funny sometimes when they’ve had a shock, just sit with me and have a coffee for 10 minutes.
He said in broad Scottish accent “Och I act funny all the fucking time so you’d ne’er know if I was in shock laddie!”

I decided he was right so I left him to it and went on my merry way.

Later at Inverness I popped into Aldi and guess what they had? That’s right…a small, 12 volt dehumidifier! What’s the chances hhahaa

Sadly I went to Halfords though and they had none of the bike covers I’ve had off them for the last 7 years.

Lights out on Skye

The promised weather has arrived on the Isle of Skye. The rain wasn’t really bad, but the wind is pretty wild, and the lightning was amazing. However one of the lightning shows was actually a sub station going out or something cos all I can see where I am has no lights.

I’ve parked behind the Co-op shop to try and avoid direct blasts, but even so the van was rocking so much that the monitor fell over and broke the foot off the keyboard. It’s quite unnerving as even though I’m sure the van won’t blow over it’s tilting to silly angles.

Photo of outside with no lights on
Photo of outside with no lights on

Anyway I opened the window to take a picture to show you how dark it is…

 

*Edit:*  I heard a noise outside and saw one of those tall steel posts beside the garage fallen down. As I looked a huge recycling bin came blowing past me spewing books all over the place! The other end of the car park to where I was was in a right state when I had a look, recycling bins blown around and smashed open. Stuff was blowing still and I got hit on the shin by a ladies purse! I ran to catch it but it was empty lol

So, I’ve moved off up the road beside the Youth Hostel as it’s screened by trees and at the moment it doesn’t even feel windy.

Weather map
Weather map

My friend sent me a screenshot from a weather site, the red blob appears to be over the Hebrides where I am….Force 12!

Neist Point

I got here ok, I actually came to Malasaig which is across the bay from Neist Point. But you get a lovely view looking across at the spit of land with the lighthouse on that juts out into the sea . I got a few shots last night then stayed over. The weather was amazing, the grill would not toast my bread because the draught coming in was so cold it would not let the grill heat up! lol

Neist Point
Neist Point

So, pretty much all I got was this shot on the morning which was not really what I was looking for.

However I had a drive around but the weather was so bad there was going to be no picture taking today so I found a garage and booked in to get the coolant checked for winter. I’m sure it needs topping up.

I was back to work tonight (Boo!) so I parked up near Portree and after the garage in the morning I’ll see what the weather is like. Wish me luck!

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Skye is awesome

After Christmas I decided to just keep on going. So I travelled over to Falkirk to see the Kelpies

Falkirk Kelpies
The Falkirk Kelpies

which you can see here. They’re the most amazing thing, costing £7 million to build and standing 60 metres tall. I got there late as they’re not at the Falkirk wheel as I thought but the Helix park a couple of miles away. I’d just shut the door of the van after taking photos when the lights went out so nicely timed.

 

Glen Coe
Glen Coe

I then went over to Rannoch moor as it’s one of my fave places and is on the way to Skye anyway. I was lucky enough to catch a deep hoarfrost, but no snow. This is as you leave Rannoch Moor and head down into Glencoe village. I came back the next day and stayed 2 days waiting for snow, but all I got was rain 🙁

 

Loch Garry
Loch Garry

Never mind I carried on stopping the night here and there, this shot was taken at Loch Garry. I tried to capture the moon lighting the Loch but it was bitterly cold and blowing a gale so I didn’t do very well. I’ve decided I need a new tripod but as it’s going to be over £300 I may have to wait a few paydays lol…or sell a kidney!

 

Castle Moil
Castle Moil

The weather was appalling and I stayed up a night to get some first light photos at Kyleakin. This is a shot of Castle Moil which some of you may remember I’ve been to before. I used the Hitech 10 stop filter on this, a slight colour cast but nothing too bad, however once I’d fixed the cast I decided to make it a little bluer as it looked nice.

My hands were so numb here that it was actually a struggle to put the gear away and I somehow managed to lose my cable release tut.

Never mind worse things have happened to people and tomorrow I’m off to Malasaig.

The Isle of Skye is indeed quite awesome and no-one should miss out on a visit here.
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