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Archive for the category “Driving”


One of the few good things about the way the days are getting shorter right now is that I get to see sunrise, which is always one of my favourite times of day.

This week has had a couple of stunners – Monday was beautiful (if bloody chilly) as I was driving to my current client’s office. As I was on the road, I couldn’t stop to take a photo. But sunrise through mist and clouds, silhouetting trees on the hill-ridge, that was a thing of beauty – and one of the few times I wished I’d got either a dashcam to save the image, or a camera linked to my field of view.

Today I was in my own office as the sun came up, and it was another stunner…


Hell, it even made Milton Keynes look pretty…


Over the last month, the car has had a complete set of new tyres (admittedly, bought two at a time) as it was definitely That Time Of Year when it’s a good plan., with the onset of winter with added rain, snow and ice. It’s been at least a year since the front ones were changed, and longer since I did the rears, and while they’re still well within the legal limits, I know they were nowhere near as good as they could/should be.

The front ones got changed a couple of weeks back – something I was really pleased about while I was driving last weekend. At that point, the road conditions were vile – heavy rain, standing water, and one particular section of motorway surface that could best be described as interesting – and the car stayed solid on the road, which is something that some others certainly weren’t.

I avoided using eTyres this time – partly because I’m not convinced of their services etc., but also because they didn’t stock the tyres I’d decided I wanted to try out.

Having looked around, I opted this time for Michelin Cross-Climate tyres, which seem to be a good option for going across the full range of road/weather conditions I’m likely to hit in the coming months. I’ve also never had a full set of the same tyres on a car, so it seems like it should be interesting.

The rears got changed today, and the change has been significant, even in the short time I’ve driven on them today. I’m pretty sure it’s not just a psychosomatic thing, the whole vehicle felt more rooted to the road, more stable.

We’ll see how things go. This morning was also the first serious frost of the year – I was driving through snow on the M1 yesterday –  and I’m pretty sure we’ll have a few more days like it in the coming weeks. I’ve got the best part of a thousand miles to cover over the next couple of weekends (not including the usual weekly travel) so by the end of that, I’ll know a lot more about how the car feels with the new setup.

Durham Lumiere 2015

Two years ago, I went with friends to see the Lumiere exhibition in Durham – which was ace.

This year, it was back, and so were we.

While it’s organised by the same people, and has some of the same artists, it was utterly different – and still brilliant. The weather this time was absolutely rotten – my coat still isn’t dry – but still it was great. The theme (if there really is one) was more about science and maths this time round, with the main ‘showpiece’ projection onto Durham Cathedral this time, “The World Machine” being more about the birth of modern cosmology from the 12th century until the present day.

One of the big draws this year was Mysticete, a projection of a whale on the river Wear, visible from the bridge above. Done by the same people as the Elephant last year, it was ace – and so clever, being projected onto a water-spray. (although with the heavy rain they could probably have just done the same onto the rain)  Sadly, because of that weather it got cancelled on the Sunday, but it was well worth seeing. (we were there on the Saturday)

Image (c) Durham Chronicle

Image (c) Durham Chronicle

We got to see a good portion of the exhibits – although not all, by any means – and really enjoyed it. Some of the stuff was really magic and fun, other bits were ‘just’ excellent.

As per the last one, I will definitely be going again when it’s next on.   I may also visit the one they’re doing in London in January 2016 – I hope that’s as clever and fun as the Durham ones are.

2015/16 – Getting Out More

As things stabilise more here, I’m looking at what I want to do in 2016 – and in particular towards taking some breaks. This year has ripped past, and I’m renownedly shit at taking holidays at the best of times.

So part of the plan will be to do some weekends away, as well as a couple of longer breaks.  I’m looking at places/destinations at the moment, so that I can book them before the end of this year. That way I can have them as immovable events when it comes to going to a new contract in 2016.

I’ve already booked up a couple of weekends away, and it’s all looking pretty promising. And continuing on from last year’s side-project about being more comfortable with eating on my own, there’s more places booked and going to be booked on that score too. Details of those will follow as and when through the year though…

Weather and Maintenance

It’s November, so in the last few days we’ve seen the clocks go back and had some seriously thick fogs in the mornings and evenings. That means people are (or at least should be) driving with lights on and so on – and it also illustrates that plenty of them don’t have everything working.

As usual, I find it utterly gobsmacking how people can drive along – while maintaining the same speeds they’d drive at on dry roads with decent visibility – with broken headlamps, no lights at all, and no foglights.  (And, of course there’s then the ones who leave on foglights well into clear weather, or use them at night when there’s no need at all)

I lost count of the number of – usually pale/grey – cars with no lights at all, in visibility that could be measured in feet, at best. I don’t understand what goes through someone’s head, that whole “well, I can see fuck-all, but I’ll keep my lights turned off, because even though I can’t see, it’s Day Time, so I don’t need lights” kind of process.

Equally, I don’t get how people can consistently drive with a broken/non-working headlamp, and the massively-reduced visibility that gives. I know it happens, that they can just blow without warning – I’ve had it happen. But when it has happened, it gets replaced rapidly – particularly in Autumn and Winter. Even in the poorest days, you (or at least I) still make sure that the car is safe.

But that doesn’t seem to be the case with a lot of people, and it’s a mindset I just don’t get.

Not Always Sensible, Though

Of course, following on from the post about trying to be more sensible and have a bit of down-time, I was still busy all weekend…

As it was, the weekend consisted of

  • Braving Ikea on a weekend, for a present for a friend’s young child. (New range, cool stuff, needed to be done) In particular, this. Which is nicely warped, and amused me lots.
  • Driving across to Oxford to see a friend
  • Then going with her to a quiz-night thing
  • And getting back at well-past midnight, then also not getting to sleep ’til nearly two (get your minds out of the gutter, nothing like that!)
  • Driving back home on the Sunday
  • Generally geeking out and working on stuff

So fun, but not really restful, per se… :-)

Trying To Be Sensible

The last couple of months here have been pretty busy, with very little time spent at home. In fact, I haven’t spent a full weekend at home since the end of August.  November and December aren’t currently looking much different on that score.

So, in the name of sanity, I’ve made a couple of other decisions.

I was supposed to be going to a conference next week in Manchester – for something that’s not super-relevant *right now* but will be for some plans/ideas over the next six to twelve months.

However, it would take me away for three days, and to be honest, that doesn’t appeal all that much right now. I’d rather have the chance of some downtime somewhere along the line.

So I’ve sacked it off, cancelled everything around it, and will instead ‘just’ do my normal work instead. Which seems like a good plan.

I’m not good at the whole ‘cancelling stuff’ thing, but I do know it sometimes needs to happen, and this is one of those times.

I think the most telling thing was that having made the decision, my only real reaction has been “good, that makes sense”…

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