Archive for the ‘Achievements’ Category

Most popular photos on Flickr

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Thought I’d use this new plugin to show off my most popular photos on flickr

Busy Times…

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Well it would appear I am really busy at the moment. I seem to be spending hours on all the websites and domains I own. Somehow through all that, this one seems to have been put on the side lines for ages.
Well noticing how out of date my old site is, I have tonight forwarded all my personal domains to my blog; maybe this time I really will start using it!

Whilst pointing everything to this, I thought I might as well spruce it up a little. Although it is only a default scheme, I think it is quite apt and I like it.

It never happens until it’s almost forgotten!

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

I never seem to find time to write here, maybe I really should start!

…It’s now 2011, over 12 months since my last post.
Since I last posted my world has changed somewhat!

I am now with the most magnificent person ever, Kirstine who I went through high school with. Despite our lack of conversations during our 3 years in the same class, we had somehow built up a good relationship through Facebook banter some 10 years since we last spoke, and after a few weeks of chatting I plucked some courage to take her out for a drink and walk down the canal.
…a month or so later, after a few more meals out and a mad bbq trip to Wales we decided to say we were a couple… and now building our relationship from strength to strength!

It was also wedding of the year for Mr and Mrs Sas, where I was honoured best man… I say honoured in the broadest terms, as I was bricking it loads!
Weeks leading up to it flew by and before long the day arrived, got more nervous than ever but thoroughly enjoyed it 🙂
…The speech despite being short, seemed to get all the laughs in the right places so I was relatively happy with it.

Later on in the year I decided to sell my MR2 as I was doing more and more miles, going to Worcester, Birmingham and Redditch. Selling it for a supebly economical Mini R56, 08 plate has been great fun, but I wouldn’t recommend Rybrook Worcester nor Knights South Stafford for servicing and repairs. What a nightmare they have been over some 7 visits.

With a little bit of cash flow improvements and the sale of the MR2 I also bought a Land Rover Discovery 1, 1994 and since that day I seen next to no money! …but it is keeping me busy and having lots of fun.

…I am sure I won’t put anything here for a while but I intend to because this short update makes my last year look crap as I haven’t written much for each event! 🙁

Reflections

Friday, January 1st, 2010

It’s that time of the year again that I reflect on the past 12 months and plan the next.
My past year has been very much a blur, partially through the amount I have managed to cram into it and partially because I’d rather forget about it.
(more…)

Too much thinking!

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

I sit here wondering what it takes to get out of the rat race the majority of us seem to live in. There is so much of the world yet to be conquered, engineering to be admired and seeing some of it this weekend has made me wonder exactly what it is I need to do to achieve this. I feel this is a burning ambition inside me… Or is this normal of a human? I don’t know; all I do know is I refuse to let this slip for the rest of my life, I don’t want to look back and say I wish I had done that, not any more. Seeing so much from these great heights at tremendous speeds slips my mind into a trance.
I am missing a vital piece of my jigsaw to life, I know what I am, what I want, what I have; but that piece that puts ambitions and goals into reality is missing. I don’t see where or what I am going to be in 10, 20, 40 years time. Before long they will come and I need to do something now otherwise I will never be satisfied… or are we never satisfied anyway? How many times do we think the grass is greener when it really isn’t!
We all seem to be destined to buy a house, settle down, have kids, retire then live if we are still fit to do so.
Well by the time I will be able to retire there is a likely chance I won’t be fit to live, so is it really that important to get into the rat race of buying houses having kids? Although I love my creature comforts I am unsure if I am a settler. I know I need to settle with a female, but settle somewhere seems too laborious for the rest of my life, I couldn’t do it.
I admire what Christine has to say with regards to this matter and it stimulates the mind, but to a dangerous level maybe beyond my ability. She seems gifted in the sense that she appears to be able to say I am going to do that and manages it; does she work her socks off for it – maybe; just maybe that is where I lack stimulation; but that doesn’t seem possible – my ambitions are worthy of stimulation… So someone help me!

Over so soon

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

We awoke normal time of around 9am and showered up before packing our bags. Around 10.30 we were all done and ready to leave. We were going into the city for one last breakfast but realised there were some form of parades going on in the city which meant many areas were closed off to traffic; so decided we would gt something a little later.
After writing an essay on the feedback forms we left the hotel and set off to the Airport; which we found a little difficult as the main road through had been closed so took what seemed like a long ring road around the city but saw very little signs of airport.
After 30 minutes of great driving by dad we spotted signs for the A94 which was the main motorway between Athens Airport and City centre, which was apparently confirmed by the toll being the same 2Euros 90 it cost us on the way in!!!

The streets seemed very deserted so we assumed it was a national holiday or those parades had some national importance, as we were going to visit the Ikea and Factory Outlet just before the airport but were too closed.
We filled up with fuel and went to the airport a little earlier than planned aiming to go around a few shops and grab a bite to eat before flying in a few hours.
We found a hot food self service canteen where we had some double decker style pizza and salad costing around 45Euros for the four of us. One thing we had learnt this break is that Greece despite its looks is by no means cheap wherever you go! We watched planes taking over whilst eating our luke warm pizza and salad that had tentacles and arms in; it turned out to have a mixture of sea creatures amongst the leaves which didn’t go down too well!

After going back and forth from shop to shop we sat down for another drink where Jodie half tempted a local cold coffee; until she realised the 4 inches of white froth above the coffee was in fact cream!
Desperate for the loo (which happened to be my first time this holiday) I set off looking for a toilet… What a nightmare; a disabled only toilet and a single sit down toilet seemed a little inadequate for a major international airport; or maybe it was just my eagerness that made it seem that way! Finally finding one not in use I felt relieved and set off shopping for the last time before boarding the plane at around 4.30pm.
We set off at sunset which over a murky Greece was most picturesque, it took a long time to go down and it was the most burnt orange look, glistening on lakes and ocean below. Saw little of the mountains before going completely dark.
Food started to be served immediately and comprised of a weird sandwich again and other various sweet compliments.
Well that is me done for now, we are not far off landing at Amsterdam where I can now see a few scattered lit up areas and not much else.
Seems to be a little cloudy but can still see the ground so the landing should be an easy one. We have about an hours stop at Amsterdam and then the last little stretch to sunny side Birmingham.
Landed safely at Amsterdam (obviously), went through the airport’s fast check out as we were just passing through again, this time we seemed to have a little more time so decided to go shopping. Jodie being Jodie couldn’t take the thought of us being late for our flight so the shopping was short lived. Nearly bought some miniature clogs for work, but no disrespect to them, at 4Euros each I decided against the idea. Why has the world become so expensive over night?!?!?
Once more we thought it would be a good idea to grab a snack, this time I decided to try a Baguette Flambee which was a hot baguette with onions, ham and two cheeses… It was nice to have something hot as the Greeks are not ‘hot’ food eaters.
It wasn’t long before we were boarding the final flight and to pass time as usual Jodie and I had a thick conversation with little outcome… If the world is 12 hours ahead towards the east, and 12 hours behind to the west of GMT, what happens when west meets east?
To top this boredom off we thought it would be a good idea to bring the number 23 to topic, our seat row was 23, my lucky number but Jodie’s unlucky – then to find out my seat was loose, the window curtain was bent and Jodie’s tray pin wouldn’t turn it was like a Final Destination moment. Which then led to the point of conversation about why it is sad to watch ‘How it is made’? I like it because I admire how things are made and it’s good to know how, where as I came to the conclusion Jodie is quite sadistic; she like Crash Investigation, Seconds from Disaster and Murder Mysteries – but somehow enjoys watching them because she admires how things are made too! All this because Jodie was called a Pratt by dad for not liking How it’s Made! – Not sure how he came to that conclusion but I’m not going to argue as it has been a good sense of humour to the break.
Just flow over the Norfolk coast sipping water and eating Chocolate and Vanilla biscuits. It’s a little weird I will be landing in Birmingham 10 minutes before I took off in Amsterdam, but that is the joy of travelling east to west!
Not got a lot else to say really other than it has been a great experience, but not one I would be willing to carry out again any time soon. Greece has been ticked off in terms of mainland / Athens.
I have now become a fan of both Florence and the Machine and Kasabian’s new albums thanks to my personal in flight entertainment whilst writing this.
It is now 21.06 GMT, flying over Norfolk and I have to be up in 9 hours for work – DOH!

Venturing out of the city

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Experiencing a bit of the roads over last few days we decided to get back onto the streets and go further a field and see what was beyond Athens city. We headed towards the coast, not really knowing where we were going we drove for around an hour and stumbled upon a little café selling cheese pies which we had to try for breakfast. Sitting on a quiet-ish road side eating our breakie and drinks we asked a waitress of where the nearest beach was, amongst her great pointing attempt at English we realised we weren’t far away at all.
About 10 minutes drive we found a little harbour where cafes, hotels and fishing boats were. We stopped here for a little walk where we saw a crisp clear ocean with much sea life, several Apache style helicopters circling from the local army base, loads of dogs just strewn across car parks and beautiful hills appearing out of the sea we took a few photos before heading back to the car.
Following the coast seeing/smelling fuel refineries and amazing ways of life we found our first super market; My Market. Where we bought once more some food to try and a few presents.
We headed back to the hotel and got prepared for a night out in the city. We went in on the tram system for ease. The square was buzzing with life, people going in and out of very expensive chocolate and designer stores. After walking around for a while a Greek man noticed us looking a little confused; we could see little restaurants and pointed at a little pizza place that didn’t look very appealing. He opted to point us in the right direction by walking us to a lovely restaurant he recommended. A couple of streets across we were in an area we were familiar too as we had taken a few photos on foot earlier and passed through on the train. Yet again greeted by an old Greek man very proud to shake hands and be nice… as they do! We sat down and were being recommended our starters, mains and wine but decided to be a little decisive which didn’t seem to go down too well. We decided to have his recommended salad and cheeses but all had a different main, chicken & pasta, Mousaka, Chicken with potatoes and Pork steak which disappointingly turned out to be a normal pork chop!
Determined not to be fleeced we were still shocked at the 102euros it cost us; not realising they had charged us for the various little nibbled they plonked on our table! We were given a little glass of murky Ouzo which wasn’t as strong as Sambuca even though still at 40%; it tasted a little weird and I couldn’t stomach it!
We paid up and went for a little walk, trying to find somewhere we could have a little taste of their sweets for the first time. Finding very little open we came across one shop just closing and ran in for a few nibbles.
After spending a while in the square taking night shots we decided to call it a night and head back home on the tram; trying our ticket in the ticket validation machines we realised it was 1Euro return and it had stamped us for the journey back; making it an even bigger bargain considering the taxi the night before cost us 20Euros for no more than a 2mile/5 minute drop off.

Module 1 Motorcycle Training

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

Started the day early as I had my DAS training, as per usual I was running late and found myself rushing around at 8.30 looking for important documents and protective clothing as the rain was pouring down.
I got to RMT a little later than normal but luckily not too late.
Soon got dressed up and ready, more-so than RMT as they had got me the wrong bike!
There was another lad with us for the morning who was preparing for his Mod 2, so we stayed around Redditch and Bromsgrove covering typical test routes. The weather was quite dismal but was a great experience to have covered it now rather than on my test for the first time. It didn’t seem as bad as first thought, although you have to be cautious of the wet, a bike still has a lot of grip.
Before long it was lunch time, I felt more confident than ever before, but still not entirely comfortable, realising I was having to over stretch for the clutch meaning I wasn’t using it correctly and still not slipping it enough.
We prepared the bike with a strong cable tie to help me out with the clutch and headed off to the Mod 1 test centre where I will be having a taste of the circuit; comprising of several module including pushing the bike, weaving in and out of cones, figure of 8, emergency stop, swerve manoeuvre, u turn and walking pace.
I struggled a little with the figure of 8 but felt very confident that I will be ok on my test. We headed back to Redditch and unfortunately started to splutter a little bit, suddenly losing all power and realising that the bike had been on reserve all day; meaning I had no reserve to get to any fuel station so had to drain a couple of litres out of the other bike.
By 4.30 I was home and knackered as usual, once more finding muscles I never knew I had!
It was all a mad rush preparing for the holiday as I hadn’t done anything yet.
By around 10.30 I had been to Tesco for last minute things, had a shower, packed my bag had yet another take away and ready for bed.

The Long Journey Back

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

Started the day with normal breakfast, packed the Landy and headed for the border of France up the valley. We drove for approx 30 minutes crossing down through a lovely picturesque valley stopping off up a track for 11 seconds. We drove for a couple of hours dropping into a nice French village which had a market on we walked round and bought a French stick for lunch. As we came out of the shop down the one way street Sharon an Richard came by and stopped. Asking how they were doing, Sharon seemed to be struggling a little but is made of stronger stuff than us! We said our goodbyes and carried on to a lovely river where we had lunch when we pulled up we drove a little way into the river realising it was very rocky bottomed reversed out and had our stick with soup an Pringles mmmm lovely! A man was down by the river in a car but after a while he came and babbled something in French then took numbers of the cars and the bike on the back; strange!
We drove for a couple more hours stopping for walk around a shopping centre. A little more driving before finally getting our just deserved STRAWBERRIES mmm! A little while later we were on outskirts of Bordeaux where we pulled in for the night stop had quick shower and when Porl got out he thought the window was still open so popped his head out of the window and ended up banging his head causing us both to laugh hysterically – as I had shut it hoping to cool room with air conditioning.
At 2000h we walked to a nice little French restaurant sat outside and had beautiful meal, I would say it was the best of the trip so far. We took a gentle stroll back to hotel and got ready for early start tomorrow.

Ski Slopes

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Woke earlier than the alarm but still feeling tired with all the late nights and early mornings, got ready as usual followed by a poor breakfast. We were shocked of hearing that Michael Jackson had died and it wasn’t long before I had received 2 jokes regarding him and kids. Set the bikes ready for a 1030h leave, we had decided to head off for the ski slopes. The first track lead through some back streets of Panticosa and the village next to it. The first bit looked like a footpath leading from the top of the village to the bottom, it was very steep with water channels very so often which flung us in the air.
The start of the track was very easy for rider and passenger as we wound up the mountain hillside taking in breath taking scenery of the blue lake and massive mountains.
Pantecosa Resevoirs

Porl and I headed off in front of the others and saw a very hairy looking beaver type animal. We headed deeper up into the mountains where the scenery just got better and better, before long we were on the ski slopes and every so often there were snow cannons which looked quite weird. We came across a group of wild horse and several fowl. We first stopped by a large crystal clear lake where Porl spotted another beaver like creature but less hairy.

We took several photos and chatted about skiing for a while before deciding to go up the last stint to the piste, again Porl and I left before the other to give us a head start up the very steep mountain. It was quite comical trying to get up as we needed the speed but it was a little bumpy. Half way up we noticed one of the beavers dead in the path and shortly after Porl had to start riding the clutch but we ran out of steam and started rolling backwards where I had to jump off very quickly.
Only having to walk 30 yards or so I jumped back on before we reached the top where the views were out of this world. Again we took several photos including a go at panoramic.
Pantecosa Panoramic

We had a spot to eat which all we had with us was some Bombay mix which I ripped the bag open by mistake.
After dinner we slowly headed down, passing the dead animal I had to take photos! We next headed off towards the ski carts to have a little look, before heading back down to the bottom where we had a lovely ice cream in a bar where we sat in the sunshine and decided what to do next. We thought we would have a little drive around to find a new restaurant but had no luck due to it being out of season. So before long we were in the hotel garden drinking and deciding what to really do for tea. The gentleman here was very good with English and we learnt a bit from him, one of the things he said was the beaver type animal is a Marmot (Marmota marmota). We decided to go back where we went last night for tea and have a la carte.
It was about 1815h by the time we had finished the drinks and headed back to the rooms for a rest where Porl and I fell asleep for about 30 minutes. Porl had a bath again then I had a shower and watched strongest man for a while before meeting up for tea.
We were quite disappointed by the a la carte so decided to have the same menu as last night. This got me a little worried as the fish I had intended to have was not on the menu, after deciding to have what we thought was char-grilled pork he said the fish was available so I had that, not taking in Clive’s advice from last night that “you can’t go wrong with pork”!
The starter was really nice and so was the fish so I was quite happy, the pork turned out to be a really nice piece of beef steak apparently. We all finished our desserts and chatted for a while before heading back to the hotel to pay up as Russell and Pat are leaving at 0600h in the morning. We said our goodbyes before deciding to write today’s blog. The room had a mixture of flies, moths and daddy long legs which Porl was trying to batter to death with a towel whilst I tried to write the blog. It is now 2333h and I am all done for the night.