Home of Hound and Psycho Cat

Suitable Vehicles

At the moment, while my general commute is pretty short, I still see a lot of drivers, cars and idiots. As regular readers know, driving makes me think, so here’s the latest one…

Why do so many people buy unsuitable cars?

For example, what’s the point of buying high-end ‘performance’ cars, if you’re then going to drive them like an arthritic granny?  It’s something I see every day, people with high-end hot-hatch and performance cars, lumped in the outside lane, and not even driving at the speed limit, let alone over it. Last night’s was a huge BMW X5 Mpower, pootling along, not making progress and generally just getting in the way.

The same applies with vehicles that are too big for the driver, or that the driver simply can’t handle/drive. When I’m at home and the school run kicks in, there’s any number of chelsea tractors that can’t fit down the road to the school itself – and if they can get down, it becomes an incredible palaver to turn the sodding things round, or park them up.

I just don’t get the point of having vehicles like that – but maybe I’m missing something.


This week, I went to a restaurant that insisted on a certain level of dress-code. Nothing too epic, thankfully, but it turned out my standard footwear (Cat boots) wouldn’t have been allowed in, so I needed to buy some new dress shoes, or at least thin-soled ‘smart’ shoes.

It was semi-short notice, so I didn’t have the chance to wear them in properly – and I knew it would cause issues.

I managed to plan most of it so I didn’t have to walk as far as I normally would’ve done (had I been allowed to wear my normal, comfortable shoes) and I’m glad I did, because I still ended up with a sod-load of blisters along the way.

Weirdly, both my little toes ended up blistered, and I’m really not sure how that happened. The worst one is on one heel, about the size of a 50p piece.  On that one, thank God for Compeed – their blister plasters are creepy as chuff, but bloody hell, do they work.

I know they’ll all heal up this week – it’s just a massive pain in the tits while they’re around. Such is life.

(And no, the meal wasn’t really worth the hassle of new shoes and blistered feet. Sad, but true – it was good, but not brilliant, which is galling when it’s a place that’s so highly rated all round)


Last year, I started a project to get used to going out for restaurant meals on my own – something that had always been a bit of a “thing” in my mind. Some people don’t like going to the cinema alone, or to pubs.

Part of it became a plan to do more “high-end” eating – if I’m going to eat solo, I might as well make it decent stuff – as well as the usual things, and as a result I ended up eating in a few Michelin-starred places which I really enjoyed. (Far more than I did my previous experience with Michelin-starred places)

I’m keeping up that aim this year, with a vague plan of trying a wide range over the year, and aiming to ‘collect’ a star a month. (Not necessarily at a place each month, but at least averaging it out to one star per month)

So far this year I’ve eaten in a one-star place and a three – with a two lined up for the coming month. From there, I’ve got a couple of others booked up already, and we’ll see how things go from there.

I don’t only eat in Michelin places, by any stretch of the imagination. My tastes are varied – I’m still amused by the Scotland trip I did last year, where I ate in a Michelin-starred place on the Saturday, and a daggy little hole-in-the-wall Mexican place on the Sunday – and I never want to end up the kind of up-myself twerd who’ll only eat at high-end places.  This is just a silly side-project that’s also a lot of fun, and is eminently doable. I get to experience a lot of new stuff, seeing what’s good and what isn’t.

I can’t deny, I’m fascinated by the whole thing – the levels of food, the differences (or lack thereof) between places with one, two and three stars, the differences between places with stars and those that haven’t, and the whole experience of the thing. But mainly, it’s fun – and if I’m going to have a ‘sin’, a money-drain or whatever, it’s going to be this one.

Slowing Down – Allegedly

Last week, I wrote about how things were slowing down a bit at last from the madness of January. And that’s true – well, kind-of.

As it is, before the end of February I’ve got scheduled (in no particular order)…

  • A very fancy meal in London, which I’m looking forward to (and for the faffing about I’ve had to do, had bloody better be worth it)
  • A birthday event in Oxford  (it’s hard to call them birthday parties when the person isn’t a child!)
  • A gig in Manchester (another mid-weeker, I must be fucking mental)
  • A gig in Oxford
  • The final bit of work on the car for this session (I hope)
  • New glasses to collect
  • A full weekend break on the South Coast

So yes, not really all that quiet after all…

Healthy Car

Following on from the car’s various issues over the last month, it now appears (touch wood) to be all sorted.

However, it means that in the last month it’s had

  • MOT (Passed with no problem)
  • Two separate broken pipes to the turbo, on different occasions – but weirdly, at the exact same location. (i.e. while driving, both times the engine management light came on at the same junction)
  • 150,000 mile service, which included a couple of other small fixes too

Thankfully, it’s not been massively expensive, and the fixes have been small ones. But still, it would’ve been a nicer/easier month without having to do them. (as well as the hire of replacement cars while it was being unreliable) Such is life.

There’s one more bit that needs doing, which is booked in for a couple of weeks time (a bit annoying, as I thought they were doing it at the same time as the service, but such is life) but for now it seems like all’s well again.

Since the main bits of work, it’s had another 1,000 miles added on, so it all feels like it’s settled in again. But as always, time will tell.

Slowing Down – Sort of

For the first time this year, I’ve got a weekend that’s being spent primarily at home. It’s about time.

As I’ve written before, it’s been a chaotic start to the year. I don’t regret a bit of it, and it’s all been my choice, but at the same time I’m definitely knackered and glad of a pause.

The last couple of weeks have involved mid-week concerts – one in Manchester, one in London – which have made for late nights (well, early mornings) so having a weekend without a lot of mileage is definitely a boon.

I’ve still got more stuff booked in, but it shouldn’t be quite as manic for the next couple of weeks, at least.

Missing Letters

Way back in early December, I posted a couple of letters, both by Royal Mail Special Delivery – a service that tracks the letter, requires a signature on delivery, and is guaranteed to be delivered the next working day by 1pm.

In my case, one letter arrived, and the other didn’t.

After a week, I raised this with Royal Mail through Twitter, and they were… pretty slack, to be fair. The letter had disappeared into the system, they needed to investigate, blah blah. At no point did the words “sorry” pass their (online) lips.

Another week or so passed, and they came back with “we can’t find it, can’t you check with the recipients whether they’ve received it or not“. Which is taking the piss, as that was the entire reason for sending the sodding thing by Special Delivery in the first place.  And still, no sorry.

I ended up having to file a compensation claim with Royal Mail – again, the person who paid for the service has to jump through all the hoops, fill in the forms and so on – and wait even more. Still no “sorry”.

I finally got the response today to that compensation claim. They’ve taken six weeks to acknowledge that this “guaranteed service” isn’t, has failed, and I’ve finally got my money back.

The kicker, in my opinion, is that in that letter they say…

“If you need to cover yourself against this in future, I suggest you send items by Special Delivery “Guaranteed”

So the fucking clowns recommend I use the service that lost this letter in the first place – because it’s better. What the fuck?

All told, the customer-service experience of this process has been abysmal.

  • It’s taken nearly two months to get this sorted
  • Once we were past that ‘guaranteed delivery’ timeline, it should’ve been an automatic process to say “Yep, we fucked up, here’s your money back”
  • If you can’t guarantee delivery, don’t guarantee delivery.
  • If you don’t trust your own tracking systems and still require ‘proof’ that the item was posted into the system, you’re doing it wrong

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