My new alarm clock.

An alarm clock

I am excellent at getting out of bed, if I wake up! I know I’m not very good at waking and I can sleep through a tremendous amount of noise normally so, living in a motorhome as I do I need to be able to wake up.

I’ve had a couple of clocks already in here, the last was an electronic travel clock but the alarms are so quiet on them.

So I looked around for ages for one of those wind up clocks with the bells on the top, thinking that they are so loud they will do the job.

I finally found the ideal answer in Asda. It’s the type with the bells on top, but these are electronic and run from batteries! Excellent and only a fiver!

I tested it and it is indeed very very loud lol so there’s my wakey wakey call sorted.

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I got invited to tea!

A park in Windsor
A park in Windsor

Well there we were, playing in the park, thoroughly enjoying ourselves. It was spring, there were some lovely colours in the plants and trees and the weather was very nice without being too hot.

Jack likes nothing better than big open spaces and his ball or a stick. He just wants to play all the time.  So he was quite keen when an old lady approached who had six of her own dogs. She started throwing the ball for Jack as we chatted. Liz she was called, and what a lovely old lady she was.

Windsor castle
Windsor castle

She said she lived close by and pointed over to this building, I wondered if it was some sort of sheltered accommodation? It looked very nice, but I didn’t think they allowed dogs in places like that.

Anyway, after some lovely chat she said anytime I wanted to drop in for tea, all I had to do was ring the main bell and tell one of the burly men who answered to come and fetch her and we could have a cuppa and a slice of Battenburg cake.

Jack
Jack

Jack thoroughly enjoyed playing with her six dogs, and when it came time to leave she poked me in the belly and made me bow! I forgave her though, I think she puts up with a lot as she says her husband is a little eccentric.

Anyway, Jack has developed a new habit from playing with the six dogs she owned…

 

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New generation!

_MG_0667-1I went to Crewe and picked up my new generator today. £580 sounds like a lot, but old knackered Honda EU10’s were going for £450, so I said sod it this one has a Honda engine, lets just go for it.

They threw in a bottle of oil which I thought was not that generous but never mind, I’ve tried it out and it works fine.  It’s easy as pie to work and very quiet,  if I point the exhaust away from the van I can hardly hear it when inside.

The exhaust is a snall ‘pipe’ out the back end and I wish I could get a clear answer from someone as to whether it’s viable to add a piece of metal tubing to this to act as an extra muffler.

It runs for almost 8 hours on a 7.5 litre tank so economy is fairly good, although I’m disappointed that solar panel manufacturers still put such a premium on their products which means they’re not financially viable for me, even though they’re  a preferred option.
I gues the price is high still for panels because schools, councils, businesses etc are the biggest buyers and they traditionally have large budgets and aren’t cost conscious.

Anyway I’m chuffed to bits with it and it allows me that much more freedom.

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Adios Datastorm

The satellite is clearly not ever going to work properly, and despite all the promises from Barry Lieberman at Ethnet, he has failed to get it to work and the only thing he’s good at is collecting his £70 per month connection fee.

I’ve decided to call it a day and cancel anything to do with Datastorm.  £8,000 totally wasted. I’m gutted but what can you do? Trading Standards don’t want to know as “the case is too complex”, Isatlan are out of the picture and Ethnet simply don’t take my calls anymore. Speaking to Datastorm in the US it’s apparent that Isatlan sold me a second hand mount which was at least 18 months old when I got it, however there’s nothing they can do.

My dongle has always proved reliable anyway so I will stick with that for the time being. Amazing how a £30 piece of kit smaller than a packet of cigarettes can outperform an £8,000 satellite system…

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Jack and Freddie

Picture of two dogs playing
Jack playing with Freddie

Freddie is my friend Al’s dog and is also a Patterdale. Patterdale’s come in these two varieties and the black ones are slightly bigger. Jack can’t actually get onto the sofa yet so it was a bit of a tease putting Freddie on the sofa and Jack on the floor! It was fun though and they played together for ages. It’s nice to get Jack socialised too. He’s turning out quite the little pooch, I made the best choice ever getting him.

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Got my new generator

I finally bought a new generator. I chose the SDMO 2kw suitcase model shown below.  It was only £550, which for a generator of it’s power is quite a decent price. The nearest to it was the Honda 2kw which was over £1,500.

Picture of a suitcase type generator
SDMO Booster 2000

It uses the same engine as the Honda, and since trying it I’ve found it lasts about 11-12 hours on one tank of petrol which is about 7 litres, which is phenomenal.  It’s not quite as quiet as the Honda, but it’s quiet enough that if you’re in a noisy place, or 30 feet from anyone it will just sound like an engine running.

Running the van engine was very costly in diesel, and I was told that HDI engines weren’t designed to idle for long, so running it for hours to charge the batteries was going to damage the engine eventually. So far I’m very happy with it and it’s going to save me some cash too.

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Welcome Jack :)

Dog stands by lake watching swans
Jack swanning about

Jack seems to have taken to life in the van as if he was born to it, (which he almost was!) and he appears to be content. He’s playing  a lot, sleeping even more, and chewing me loads! I’ve been to get him chipped by  vet in Skelton, who didn’t even have a debit card machine and sent me off to the post office to get some cash. I told him the lifestyle I lead living in my van and traveling here and there, he stated he could see no harm that would come to the dog and then started the long process of inoculations, checks, worming etc etc that a new puppy has to go through.

Once that was all complete I decided to have the weekend in Ullswater as it’s one of my favourite places. I parked in Glenridding and took Jack to the lake for his first visit. As you can see, his instincts are all in place. I was not sure whether he wanted to play with the swans or eat them, although the swans seemed sure of the latter so they stayed a healthy distance away.

Must get rid of that awful collar. I’ve never understood how people can try and control animals with a thing round their neck. I’d like a decent harness for him.
As you can see below he’s not frightened either! He loves people and other dogs, he’s just so sociable. He’s settling in nicely too, I don’t think I’m going to regret getting him.

Jack meets a Jack Russell and makes friends
Jack making friends
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Say hello to Jack

Picture of my new dog sitting on the chair.
Jack

Is this the cutest little puppy you’ve ever seen! My boss has one of these they’re known as Patterdale terriers. The breeder is in Cartmel in the Lake District and after seeing hers I decided this was the one I wanted. I’ve done enough research and he won’t grow very big. Fuck you! to all the rescue centres who turned me down, mostly cos I don’t have a fenced in garden! How restrictive your policies are! In fact one of them laughed at me down the phone when I explained I lived in a van. Well I’ve got my puppy and he’s going to have a fab life so your loss all of the ones I telephoned.

I’d spent about 2 hours with the breeder playing with the remaining 3 puppies and their Mum. They all decided it was bedtime so Mum laid down and the pups and snuggled in for a nap with her. Not Jack. No he was jumping all over me wanting to play still! He was a little bit cheeky too so I decided on that basis he was the dog for me. He’s the most adorable little thing.

Anyway that’s his little toy that the breeder gave me as he seems attached to it.

Picture of a dog lying asleep beside it's owner
Jack asleep beside me

I was sitting watching him playing on the floor and I had a JD in my hand, and I realised that he is almost the same colour as a neat Jack Daniels. So…my puppy is called Jack 🙂 Jack is 9 weeks old and too small to get on and off the sofa at the moment, so he stays on it most of the time with me. When I work he lies down beside me and sleeps peacefully. This is him crammed in between my leg and the sofa back as I work on the laptop.  Awww!

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Malvern

Picture of two North American Indians at a show
Malvern show

I’d been bought tickets for the Malvern show so I went along to see what it was like and what a day. Gorgeous weather! The show was great and I even tried my hand at line dancing! Far too difficult for me I need lots of practice lol

It may be controversial but…the two Indians in the photo were doing a show. Pretty tacky in parts but very interesting in others. The man however at one point stated how proud he was of being an African-American-North American Indian. Now, I can understand someone wanting to recognise their heritage by saying African-American, it’s not the country you live in that defines you, it’s who you feel you are inside. But an African-American-North American Indian? Make your friggin mind up you bone head! You can’t surely want to identify with 3 different cultures? I mean, what if you live for a year in 9 different countries and relate to them all? What the hell do you call yourself lol I think if you adopt a culture and practice it and even perform in displays to bring that culture to a wider audience, then you’re really saying you are that. How can you then say you are also African, and American too? You cannot be all of those things.

Personally I think that he’s a lost soul looking for somewhere to belong but too scared to let go his links to his past. As an ex soldier who is now looking for a peaceful existence I think he ought to immerse himself fully into his adopted tribe and just say he’s an Indian. At least then he’d have an identity.

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Whitby

A picture of Whitby church
Whitby

I love Whitby and after having a nice time in Wales and the north, as I headed down to Malvern for a show I decided to stay over in Whitby on the way.

I like it mostly because it still retains it’s old charm, they haven’t managed to spoil it yet with modern buildings and badly thought out roads. You can still park on the cliff top for free so it makes it a really accessible place to visit. Each time I visit I have to climb the 99 steps.

Picture of the 99 steps in Whitby
Whitby, 99 steps

Each time it doesn’t get any easier! lol but I do see really elderly people climbing up them without stopping so it puts me to shame.

One of these days I am going to go and walk up them without stopping and when I do, that’s what I have to do every time.

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Snowdon view

A view of Snowdon from Llanberis
Snowdon view

I took this from Llanberis car park, that’s Snowdon in the background. I feel quite attached to the place since I went up, it’s good to have achievements in your life, especially when you work very hard for them. I like it round here, I recall from way back in 1995 when I worked in mental health and I was tenting around the country on days off. That’s why I came back but I never knew then that Snowdon was here or so accessible.

Picture of an orange haired boy looking after bright yellow boats on a lake
Yellow boats, orange hair

This scene caught my attention because of the bright yellow boats, and the bright orange hair of the young lad operating them. His hair almost matched the interior of the boats. A little splash of colour is always nice during the day 🙂

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Snowdon summit

A view of a steep cliff on Snowdon
View from Snowdon

I found this amazing view on the way up Snowdon today. I’ve long wanted to climb Snowdon but due to being  a life-long smoker and the way my legs are with sitting for a living, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever do it.

This view is of the Pyg and Miner’s tracks as they converge, looking east from the Llanberis path. This section is a sheer drop and probably one of the biggest I’ve ever seen.

Picture from summit of Snowdon
Snowdon summit

This is a view from the summit. I actually can’t believe I got here! You can see all the way south to Harlech, and north to Anglesey. This is a major achievement for me and I must do it again!

The only way I managed it was by walking as much as I could and stopping for a rest. But by the halfway point I was knackered. Sometimes I wasn’t going more than 50 yards before stopping again, then resting for 2-3 minutes before starting up. It took a long time to get there but I am so pleased I’ve done it. I climbed Ben Nevis way back in 1995 or something so this is the second highest peak in the UK conquered now.

Oh…and my legs are not aching at all!

 

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I’ve been thinking…

…about getting a dog for some time now as you know.

When I was sitting having a cuppa on the summit of Snowdon I saw another man who was also sitting alone, and he had a dog next to him, a border collie.

I loved my bosses dog, right size, right temperament, lovely looking thing, and hardy too which is good for me.
I’m going to go to Cartmel and get one!

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Yawn … satellite not working

Picture of colourfully painted shops in Llanberis
Llanberis

Well I’m having a fantastic time here in Llanberis, it’s a shame that the rig isn’t. It failed to connect yet again and Nick is now not answering his phone most times I call. Barry Lieberman still calls, to ask for his £70 a month connectivity fee.

Thank God for the Vodafone USB modem! It was supposed to be a backup but it’s my main form of communication with the internet and work now!
So much for Ethnet ‘guaranteeing’ to make things work. The fact that they won’t answer the phone anymore kind of says they’ve given up on it.

Anyway, this is a view of Llanberis high street, including the fabulous Pete’s Eats. If you’re hungry this is the place to go: real tasty food at reasonable prices. It get’s crowded in the season but well worth the wait. I can also recommend the Chinese takeaway across the road 🙂

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Me

A picture of me in the camper using my laptop
Me

A very rare photo of me. This is my camper and I’m sitting using my Dell laptop as I would at work. The photo was taken by Terry Richards for the Sun, as I work for Sun Bingo! They were doing an article about me as I live in my camper and work from it as I travel around the country.

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Tombola dawn

Works do
Roker Hotel

I can’t recall why but we decided to have a works summer night out in the Roker hotel in Sunderland. It’s a fairly small team, but growing quickly and we all get on mostly. The boss had about £100 on the table so we could all get a drink on the company, which is very nice of them!

I had parked in a side street a little way from the hotel so I stayed the night in the van.

Picture of a sunrise over the sea
Seaburn sunrise

I’m glad I did too because I was up early the next morning and there was a beautiful sunrise starting. I grabbed the camera and went for a walk along the cliff top and grabbed this shot of the palm trees that grow across the road from the hotel. It gave it a mediterranean look I thought 🙂

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Herne Bay

A lone woman with her child on the beach on a sunny day.
Herne Bay

I came down to Herne Bay to get my new window. It’s a nice enough place and I picked a good day as it was really sunny. The beach left a little to be desired, it was mainly gravelly with a long line of groynes. Nevertheless there was plenty of parking and of all people a traffic warden was very helpful in finding me a spot to park the van. I got the window and found that it was more than a struggle to fit it! Never mind after a weird balancing act I got it in place and all is good now. 🙂 Thanks Barrons of Herne Bay, the first time a Barrons has actually been any good!

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Window pain

I’d been down to Wisbech to see some friends, and parked up in a layby for the night after leaving. I had intended to go across to the lakes but I was tired so parked up in one of those deep laybys screened from the road by trees. It was deserted so I expected a quiet nights sleep.

And I got one.

I slept in the top bunk as I sometimes did, partly because it’s much warmed up there. I have developed the art of jumping straight into the bunk from the floor to save getting the ladder out. Yes I know, lazy! but what the heck lol.

Anyway I’d left the window open as I can’t sleep without fresh air and I was woken by such a racket! As I came awake there was such a roaring and banging and god knows what and I just lay there for a second wondering what in hell’s name was going on.
Anyway, it was a lorry driving past, tearing my open window off as it went! I leapt down into the van in time to see my window lying in pieces in the road and the lorry about to leave the layby. I leaned over and blasted the horn but it had no effect so I reached for the keys and decided to set off after him. After stubbing my toe really hard on the drivers seat base. Ouch!

So, there’s me barely awake, just in my boxers, driving down the road chasing this lorry. *sigh* My life!  Anyway I’d only gone a short way when I realised the mad flapping noise was not just the wind rushing through the missing window, but in fact the duvet which was being sucked out of the window and was flapping it’s way down the side of the van. I decided the best thing to do was stop and sort it out.

Returning to the layby I repaired it as best I could with cardboard, a bin liner and some cheap duct tape. I then spent that morning trying to find a new window and guess what? £220 bloody quid! For a piece of plastic 3 feet by 1 foot! Bloody disgrace. But I have to have it so I now face a trip to Herne Bay which is the closest Barrons who has one in stock. *sigh* My life!

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Bump.

View of a sunlit farmers field
Sundon hills

Sundon Hills country park. Lovely place, I came here to walk Jack but decided to stay overnight as it’s got amazing views. Sadly it was spoiled a little by some mindless idiots deciding to chant and honk their car horn at me, but after a while they settled and I was left alone.

However when reversing into a space there turned out to be a large thick post embedded in the ground which was hidden by tall grass. The edge of the gas locker caught it and so it’s ll bent out of shape now. That’s the first really big bump I’ve had and I’m really disappointed, but at least nothing is actually broken.

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Bare tree

Picture of two bare trees with the sun rising behind and mist on the ground
Misty dawn

What, you may ask, is so good about a bare tree? Well, nothing especially, but I was driving into Coventry and it was very early on the morning and there was a mist rising slowly off the grass. The sun was rising in the background and these two trees just looked pretty.

Luckily there was a layby nearby so I parked and ran over to try and get a shot. I love this Sony, this I would say could be one of my best shots ever.

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Party selfie

Went down to Plymouth with some mates to have a big party. A lot of us hadn’t met before obviously but it worked really well anyway. Met up with some old chums, met some new ones.

A picture of a couple of dozen people posing for the camera in a garden
Garden party

The gorgeous Becky! (second from left)MMMMMM. lol Here’s a selfie with most of those who went. That’s me of course standing with my crotch resting on Paul’s head. Just to my left is a girl in a silver top. She’s a right hottie but she became seriously ill later after being bitten by a tick and developing Lyme’s disease. She’d post photos on Facebook showing her with her eyes bleeding. It’s an awful disease, keep safe if you’re out in the countryside.

We had a fabulous day and night and 4 of us including Becky went to bed in my camper. We didn’t sleep, we were like kids on a sleepover and giggled and farted about so much we didn’t settle til about 5 am. Well hell you only get one life you may as well try and live it eh?

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Red or dead!

A red squirrel is seen sitting on a fence ready to scavenge in a litter bin
Red squirrel

Well I’d come down to Worcester to get that charger fitted and there I was, sitting minding my own business when a red squirrel shows his face. He ran along the fence then started scavenging for food. So I grabbed the camera and snapped off a few pictures.The more I looked at them though, the more I thought that although he was red, he didn’t look like a red squirrel.

So I emailed Christine Westerback of the Save Our Squirrels Project, (part of the Northumberland Wildlife Trust) and asked if she could confirm.
She later did confirm that although it was red, it was not a red squirrel.

I had suspected because of it’s colour, not red enough and the size, I felt it was slightly large for a red squirrel. She pointed out that no grey squirrels have tufts on their ears, which our reds do for about 11 months of the year. Hmmmm I didn’t know that.

I wonder if they’re any further forward in finding a cure for squirrelpox?

A photo of Worcester cathedral and riverside
Worcester

Worcester is a really nice place. I sometimes stay for a couple of nights if I’m passing simply because I like it here. Apparently some video company got wrong off the church because they filmed in the cathedral, but it was for a gruesome killing spree type video game and they hadn’t said.

As it turns out the people who fitted my battery to battery charger were about a mile up the road, but when I came to see them I didn’t venture into this part of town so had no idea it was so nice.

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Bum-ing around

I was passing Sutton and called in to see Jane as I always do, and as the weather was great we went to Kingsbury water park for the day.  Of all things to take a photo of I took one of Jane’s bum! lol

A photo of a lady with a nice bum
Jane’s bum

Well, I still think to this day she’s got the best bum I’ve ever seen on a woman 🙂

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If only I had a fence…

I’ve been thinking about getting a dog for a long time, what breed I would get, what size, if it would be healthy traveling in the van, loads of issues to consider. I started ringing around rescue centres to find out what kind of small dogs they had.

I found  a pattern amongst all of them: they require you to have a fenced in garden of  a certain size, or they won’t let you have a dog. Obviously that precludes me instantly, living in a motorhome as I do. So I decided to explain to a few of them why I did not have a fence, and I was astonished that 1 woman went to get her manager, who when I explained I lived in a motorhome, began to laugh and said no way would she let a dog live under those conditions.

I understand that they want to ensure their dogs go to good homes, but a good home is not necessarily measured by having a garden fence. I think that’s a silly rule with no real thought given to it.
So I’ve decided to go to the breeder in Cartmel where my boss bought hers from. He breeds Patterdale Terriers and I’ve decided it’s the perfect sort of dog to live the life I do.

I’ll keep you posted.

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All change!

So, I sold the LNB, the dish, the modem and the controller back to Isatlan for £1,200 and Ethnet replaced them all for just under £1,000.

I now have the F1 mount and new dish, new LNB, DW7000 controller and the HN7000s Modem.

Nick, the engineer for Ethnet got it working straight away.

Fingers crossed.

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Knock knock…

As I’ve mentioned I have a friend in Sutton Coldfield and I was visiting her and parked in ‘that’ notorious lay-by. I noticed that daily a young unkempt man with long straggly ginger hair wanders along the road adjacent to the lay-by. His demeanour strongly suggested some form of mental health issue or that he was homeless. As I was working at the laptop he approached the window once or twice asking for cigarettes but apart from that he appeared to be in a world of his own.

Some days after I’d become used to seeing him one of the many lorries that use this lay-by frequently had to call a fitter out due to breakdown. The fitter arrived, parked behind the lorry and got out to have a look at the engine and after some deliberating he opened the rear doors of his van, took out some tools and went back to the broken lorry. At some point the ginger lad wandered over to the rear of the van and was looking inside.

The fitted saw him, came rushing over and punched the lad straight in the head. The fitter was a large, strong young lad so ‘ginger’ was sent flying onto his back. The fitter moved toward him so I rushed out to try and explain to the fitter that the lad clearly had some issues and it wasn’t fair to be beating on him when he was so clearly unable to defend himself, especially against such a big, strong man.

The fitter was unimpressed and came out with some hearty language, but at least he backed off and continued with his work. Ginger had got up by now and was muttering to himself, and as he looked OK I left him to it and returned to work. Here’s a gratuitous shot of the view from this lay-by.

A picture of wheat in a field
View from the lay-by

Much later that evening I was settled in for the evening, fire on as it had been raining most of the afternoon, when I had a harsh rapping coming from the floor. It took me some seconds to work out where it was coming from, and I also heard a voice.

I went outside but no-one was around. I looked underneath the van and there was Ginger! When he saw me he said “Please turn on the engine. I’m cold.” To say I was stunned would be an understatement, and I began to laugh, however he was deadly serious. It was cold, and wet.

I tried to persuade him to come out but he wasn’t having it, simply asking me over and over to turn the engine on as it was cold. I tried explaining the dangers of doing so, the burn hazard from the exhaust, the poisoning from fumes, and even invited him inside for a hot cuppa, but he simply kept up his repetitive requests, interspersed with some random ramblings.

In the end, I decided to turn the engine on, thinking the noise might scare him out. It didn’t.
I let the engine run for perhaps 10 minutes then shut it off, and within a minute I heard him rapping again and shouting for me to turn the heat on!! lol  

I got out again but no matter what I said he simply kept up his repetitive requests. I even grasped his ankles and tried to drag him out from underneath. But he shuffled away to avoid me and when I caught one ankle, he got hold of the chassis and clung on for dear life.

There was no way I would be able to drag him out. I couldn’t drive away either as there is no room for a human underneath the rear axle and he’d get some nasty burns from the exhaust at the front.
I had visions of him clinging on to the bottom of the van in the way Robert De Niro’s ‘Max Cady’ had in Cape Fear, as I drove off!

I finally decided that the only way to get some peace in the short term was to turn the engine back on. Then I had to think about calling the police. I wasn’t happy with that as I had visions of them having a crane come to lift the van off him to ensure his safety. It was all a little perplexing to say the least haha

As luck would have it, I was saved by nature.

I hadn’t noticed that he’d crawled out from underneath until I saw a ginger flash in the trees and at first though it was a red squirrel. It was indeed ‘Ginger’ taking  a leak. I’ve never moved so quick as I did, grabbed the keys, ran to the drivers seat and drove off as fast as I could. I was actually exhilarated as I drove away, and started laughing maniacally to myself lol

I returned later and he was gone, although he did spend 2 full days more over the next week under my van, both times when it was raining.

It just shows that a little ginger does indeed spice things up!

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The truth is out there…

I’ve been doing a bit of digging. No not in the garden…

It turns out after speaking to Tim Gibbs in the US office of Datastorm, that my rig is indeed second hand and was well over a year old when Isatlan sold it to me as brand new.

Isatlan in that case conned me, ripped me off, duped me with false promises and statements. I’ve contacted trading standards to see what can be done.

In the meanwhile I’ve been in discussion with Barry Lieberman from Ethnet. He’s near Royston and is the main UK importer for equipment from Datastorm. He reckons that if I ‘sell’ back parts of the kit to Isatlan and buy new from him, he guarantees to get it working. So I emailed Isatlan and they’re up for it so that’s what’s happening.

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Lochgilphead

As I said I’m in Scotland to see someone from this dating site I was a member of. Once again Vodafone totally screwed me over with the dongle, and after a couple of hours with CS a manager finally got it all sorted. Some sort of screw up with their admin grrr. This is getting too frequent and unreliable for work.

Anyway, I stayed around up here for a couple of weeks or so as it is a beautiful area. The person I visited has a loch side house and the views were amazing. Here’s one from her garden :

A picture of a sunset over a Scottish loch
Lochgilphead

“Can you imagine spending time here?” she asked. Dam right I can. This photo is taken with my Sony DSC-R1. This is without doubt the best camera I’ve owned.

Anyway, I stayed around for a while but I had to leave in the end simply because I was still failing to get a signal and work were unhappy. I hope to come back to Scotland though and explore somewhere. I absolutely love the place, especially the wild north.

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