Apr 14th

Hard Shoulder

By Geoff J
Driving along the M25 yesterday I noticed the inner lane was coned-off and the hard shoulder had disappeared. Speculated what I should do if my car became faulty and was reassured that there were some areas of green bank patches to "glide" into and other spaces where one could get the passenger side at laest off the motorway. NOT TOO HAPPY.
Then about 100 yards away in MY track I saw a stopped car - was able to see there was nothing in the next outer lane so I moved over. I then passed two cars (did not notice any hazard lights) and their "stopper" van with hazard lights on.   
Of course, there was no pile-up when I passed...but later???? Result = came home from Arandel via A22 and A25 (passing Godstone, etc).

Shortly, I expect to hear of serious accidents on the M25 (ie the no hard  houlder  parts). I had understood that hard shoulders are danger us to stop in. HOW MORE OR LESS DANGEROUS ARE NO HARD SHOULDER M25s, etc???????????????????????????????????????
Sep 26th

Off the Cuff...

By phillip J W

I know - I usually turn out with something a little interesting in the comments department, don't I?
Well I'm incrediblly busy at presant but dear Mary was kind enough to give me a wave this morning & I thought I'd at least show my hairy face!

We're madly packing, planning, arranging travel insurence & checking boarding arrangements for a couple of 11 month-old twins, us & a bale of luggages - it takes all the time we have.

...I know, we have a few days to go yet, but it IS only days & we've not seen Cherry-the-cat to her temperery holiday while we're away yet!

Right - thats about where I am today; thought you'd like to know; don't want you worrying.

Aug 19th

Cars and retirement

By Ryan P


I guess there are lots of reasons to sell your car.  Some people upgrade to better models, maybe they’ve been promoted or come in to some money; there’s nothing like selling your old banger for something a bit flasher!  But on the flip side, so many people have to sell their pride and joy because of a run of bad luck and are doomed to use public transport until their fortunes change.

Me?  Well I fall into a category many of us will someday fall into, retirement.  I’ve been driving a MG MGF 1.8i (a two seat sports car) for the best part of the last ten years.  I’ve never crashed it or so much as scratched it and I’ve always took care of it like it were my child.  Now it’s not that I’ll be swapping my driver’s license for bus pass anytime soon but my wife thinks I’m too old to be driving a sports car!

So my wife has recently started piling pressure on me over the last couple of months, ‘sell your car’ has become the dreaded phrase I hear her say every day.  I’ve been resisting but I know she’s right, I’d love to keep the MGF as a second car but we just can’t afford it and we really need the space for the grandkids.  Another factor is the raising price of fuel

So I started advertising on Twitter and Facebook, but with most of my own friends having families of their own it was looking like I was going to have to advertise in the local paper or with auto trader.  It was then that a friend recommended trying Deal4yourwheels sell your car page.  So, I visited their website and strictly out of curiosity I entered my cars details into their system.  I was actually impressed how quick the entire process took, from logging on to the Deal4yourwheels website to having the quote displayed in nice big numbers on screen, took about five minutes.  No, that’s not a taxi drivers five minutes either, it’s a genuine 5 minute process.

It turned out that that they valued my car at £893, which isn’t bad.  Sure I could get a little more by selling privately but to be honest I couldn’t be bothered with the hagglers and timewasters not to mention the process and cost of advertising in the papers or magazines.  They even offered to come and collect the car free of charge, which was great seeing that I was a good 2 hours drive from the their nearest depot.

A time was arranged for the car to be collected.  Before I knew it, I was standing there on the driveway, handkerchief in hand and a tear in my eye, waving off my car whom I had nurtured for the best part of a decade.

Well, at least I’m almost £900 better off.  I’m going to use some of that to go down the pub and drown my sorrows!  When I sober up we'll be able to buy a new family sized car and take the kids on day trip to Blackpool.

So this experience has left me curious about how other people deal with transport as they approach retirement?  Is it time scale down or finally get that Porsche you’ve been saving up for the past 50 years! 

Jul 8th

Weather - or whether not.

By phillip J W

I never was that good at enjoying a lot of sunshine. I suppose i must have spent my time on French beaches, or playing ball on the sand at Brighton in my time, but somehow it all seems another world now.

Today turned out simelar to the previous two days The temperature rose as it did at the weekend. Bright sharp sunshine that began to remind me of the discomforts of Balmain last year.

Having begun to visualise with a degree of interest sampling Australia again, today I’m not so enthusiastic about a second visit now - unless we go in the very middle of their ‘winter.’

I still would never look forward to the actual journey, but I suppose it could be made faster & smoother.
At present this heat though is making me feel slightly sick & I don’t want that in Northumbria let alone in Sydney.

If I can go in the midst of their winter then perhaps - just perhaps - but a repeat of the persistand draining heat of even their Spring....
No, I think not.

Feb 5th

Travelling Light II

By Colin L

I am probably the last person to find out about this.

For the last 7 or so years that I was in the States I had a pay-as-you-go cell phone. It was clunky and very basic but did the job.

When I returned to the UK I retired the half-brick and got a nice shiny Samsung. Still pretty basic apparently and still pay-as-you-go.

Reading the instructions (not something I normally do) I found that my phone had a slot for a micro SD card. The penny dropped.

I bought four 2GB micro SD cards and a card reader from Amazon and transferred the contents of my USB drive onto the micro SD cards.

Now when I am waiting at a bus-stop or at the Doctors or queuing at the supermarket checkout I can listen to my CD collection :).

Better late than never!!

Jan 19th

Fly back.

By phillip J W
I love to hear the geese fly. Over the valley they go, confident & assured of their route. They always have friends beside them who they chat to, & the whole group to chivvy each other along & laugh with as they go, to keep the cold from their thin legs; And all afternoon I miss their going.
Jan 18th

Durham & Back

By phillip J W
I went down to Newcastle early today, arived at Eldon Sq Bus station & quite on a whim I got on a bus up through Dipton, Anfield Plain, Sandhough, Hampsterly, The Ox Inn, Oxhill & Stanley. In all these areas the residents still play-out the part of the "Down Trodden Poor", the "Working Class." It’s a little bit pathetic to see. It’s in their faces and their dress; there’s a sullen resentment, as though it were natural to be beaten. Out past Mary St. and “Brenda’s Fish & Chips” down Tyne Rd, Craghead Aged Miners Homes, through South Stanley, Avon Rd, and “The Charlow,” Thompson Buildings, Edmond Biers, Sacristan & so into Durham Bus Station around 12.30. I did some more pictures walking up over the bridge then went into the covered market for a repeat of the all-day-brunch I had there in 2004. Around 2.15 it was spitting snow again so I got a bus to bring me back by way of Framwell Gate & Pity Me, Chester-la-Street, [where the snow was getting steadier,] over by The Angle, through Gateshead & back into Eldon Sq. I was back in the house by 4.30. Totally shattering, but quite nice to know I went.
Jan 4th


By phillip J W

During my meagre sauté of Australia [to be honest, Sydney] in 2012 I desided without question it was a modern country with all the trappings & expected practises of Western 21st century.  …But then a surprising seismic shift occured at 3pm each weekday afternoon.

The streets become awash with children between the ages of 11-15 who seem to be acting out a scene from a 1950s play.

All the boys appear in impeccable school uniform, all ages wearing grey flannel or smart cream shorts with uniform shirts & blazers; all the girls are in sandals, white socks & gym slips. All carry smart sensible school satchels. It is like stepping into a page from “Jane & Peter.” It was a shock to the uninitiated observer from the UK where ‘children’ have been superseded by ‘Teenagers’ how attend their classes dressed as though playing a part in “West Side Story”

Australia was a learning experience for your observer.
Jul 11th

Government consultation relating to Personal Independence Payment and eligibility for a Blue Badge

By Mary B
The Government has published today a consultation relating to Personal Independence Payment and eligibility for a Blue Badge. The relevant documents can be found at the link below. The consultation closes on Tuesday 2 October 2012. http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/dft-2012-30/ The Coalition Government is taking forward important reforms to the welfare system. One of these reforms will involve changes to Disability Living Allowance and will affect eligibility for a disabled person’s parking permit or Blue Badge. About a third of all badges are currently issued to people who receive the higher rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance. We are therefore consulting on the options for dealing with the impact of the changes. The consultation covers arrangements for England only. You may also like to note that Simon Kirby MP is taking forward a Private Members Bill called the Disabled Persons Parking Badges Bill. The Government is supporting the Bill and it passed through it's Second Reading last Friday. You can follow the Bill’s progress here: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2012-13/disabledpersonsparkingbadges.html This Bill isn’t directly related to the consultation as any changes to the eligibility criteria can be made via secondary legislation. The Bill will: Provide local authorities with a power to cancel badges that have become lost or stolen or which are no longer in the holder’s possession; Extend local authority inspection powers to officers in plain clothes; Enable local authorities to recover badges that have been cancelled, have expired, are being misused by a third party or are fake; Remove ambiguity from the existing Blue Badge misuse offences so that it is clear that it is an offence to use a badge that should have been returned to the issuing authority; Remove the requirement for the Government to publish the full badge specification in regulations; Extend eligibility for a badge to Armed Forces personnel and their families resident overseas on UK bases who meet the qualifying criteria for a badge; and Remove the route of appeal to the Secretary of State in cases where a badge is withdrawn for misuse so that the Local Government Ombudsman will instead review complaints against local authorities. Responses should be sent to: Sally Kendall Traffic Division Department for Transport Zone 3/26 Great Minister House 33 Horseferry Road London SW1P 4DR Email: bbes@dft.gsi.gov.uk When responding, please state whether you are responding as an individual or representing the views of an organisation. If responding on behalf of a larger organisation, please make it clear who the organisation represents and, where applicable, how the views of members were assembled.
Jul 2nd

Olympic newsletters to help Surrey get ready for the Games

By Mary B
Newsletters are being sent to Surrey residents and businesses within 100 metres of the Olympic cycling road race and time trial routes to help people plan ahead for the 2012 Games. The newsletters include detailed information about road closures, parking restrictions, maps of the route and tips for how to make the most of the once-in-a-lifetime events. Helyn Clack, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services and the 2012 Games, said: “Mark Cavendish could win Team GB’s first gold medal on Surrey roads so we’re expecting huge crowds. There’ll be road closures and parking restrictions along the route on event days, so please avoid driving in the area if you can. “If you want to catch the action, think about the best viewing option for you. We’d advise people to walk and stay close to their local areas because it’s going to be very difficult to get around. And think carefully if it’s a good idea to watch the races on the roadside if, for example, you have small children. “I’d ask people to read through the newsletters carefully and to plan ahead by visiting gosurrey.info for all you need to know to make the most of the Games. “We understand there will be disruption, but we’re doing everything we can to keep it to a minimum.” Businesses will receive a tailored newsletter that includes tips and advice about how they can benefit from the events and how to plan ahead to reduce disruption. The Olympic cycling road races will be staged on the opening weekend of the Games, with the men’s event taking place in London and Surrey on Saturday 28 July and the women’s on Sunday 29 July. The Olympic road cycling time trials will be held on Wednesday 1 August. Visit www.gosurrey.info for more information about Surrey’s involvement in the 2012 Games.
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