Summer Holiday 2011

July 9, 2011

I don’t ‘do’ Holidays in general.  I tend not to be good at taking myself off somewhere just for the sake of it but will go away to do things not just to relax and do nothing.  But I’m married now and married to someone who has the exact opposite view of holidays – looking ahead in the calendar to place the holidays first and then work everything else around these.  So we haven’t really worked out yet exactly how to make this work yet – of course we did manage to go to Barbados on Honeymoon this year but that’s different.

So it was due to a desire to visit D’s brother who lives in Coventry that we decided to stretch this into a longer break and spoil ourselves.  The plan was to go straight from Glasgow to Coventry for a couple of days then we booked four nights in a “Spa Hotel” in Yorkshire (going to avoid naming it for reasons that will become obvious).  We had no great wish to go to Yorkshire or reason to avoid Yorkshire but decided that because we had a deal with this chain of hotels and that one was half way home – why not Yorkshire!

We had a nice time in Coventry – saw the Cathedral and the Godiva Festival Parade and the weather was great.  Then headed to our Spa Hotel north of Leeds.  When we were booking we found that rather than a straight 4 night we could get a ‘walking holiday’ that was £30 cheaper and included packed lunch for the same 4 nights – so we were walkers!

In the end (details later if I can be bothered) our stay was fantastic! We had a spacious suite, fantastic food, great weather and as well as nice walks in the countryside, local towns and villages we had lots of use of the pool, hot tubs, steam room and sauna…. did I mention the food was fantastic.

After a couple of days we decided to stretch our break by taking another couple of nights in Windermere and booked into the Willowsmere B&B – we could highly recommend it!  We went for a cruise to Ambleside for the day, it was good weather for most of the day.  Then finally today spent some more time driving around the Lake District delaying the trip north in order to meet up with D’s other brother and family on their way back from Holiday.  This was fun as their kids had no idea we were arranging a rendezvous so were able to surprise them.

Among the highlights of a week in England for me was having time to unwind with my wife (sorry falling into all the ‘smug married’ traps, but can’t avoid it), relaxing in pool/hot tub/steam rooms, the weather, and listening to the audio book of Deathly Hallows at every opportunity.


Something I’ve never done before…

February 7, 2009

I’ve just had to give a sample of breath to a Police officer and I’ve never had to do that before.

Just after leaving a friends house at around 1am I was pulled over by a Police car.  This wasn’t too much of a shock as they were in front of me at first, but then went around a roundabout waving me on then followed for a little bit before switching on all the pretty lights on their roof.

It turns out I had a broken headlight :-(

Anyway, they asked me where I lived, what I did and where I had been, which was fine because I knew all the answers to those questions.  Then they asked if I had had anything to drink.  My reply of “no, oh wait yes, no – yes” didn’t inspire me with confidence, let alone them.  Then I said “Yes I had a bottle of beer – with the Pizza – so about five hours ago”

I’ve always wondered what it was like to blow into that little device, is there any resistance / pressure, can you make it whistle if you blow hard enough, those kind of things.  At no point was I in the slightest concerned that I was anywhere near the limit – which obviously I wasn’t and they sent me on my way asking me to get my light fixed as soon as possible.

I should have asked what the reading was out of interest, but didn’t think about that at the time.

I wonder if I’ll do anything else today that I’ve never done before?

Found my Passport.

April 29, 2007

There are some things it takes me a long time to getting around to doing. One of them apparently is dealing with getting a new passport. My old one ran out some time last year, but as I haven’t actually been abroad since 1997 there didn’t seem much of a need to get it updated. However, I do have to use it each summer to prove my identity to various people (who usually know me anyway), so that I can have police background checks run for taking part in children’s work.

So at some point last year I started picking up the form from the Post Office, filling it out I must have realised that I would have to get my photo taken and then never got around to doing that. At some later point I thought I must get a passport… oh I signed that 4 months ago, I better do it again… and so begins the cycle again. All the time never actually completing the process and frequently re-finding the half completed forms and thinking I must do something about this.At some point I added in the complication of another form to get a new photo ID drivers licence (yes, I still only have the old paper version). I initially thought that I might as well get these both sorted out but then found out that an easy way of getting your ID confirmed on the drivers license is to give them permission to check the details held by the Passport office… hmm. paperwork

These forms have lived  (and multiplied) in various folders that I occasionally take to work with the thought of getting some pictures done at lunchtime. This is how they seem to have been mixed up with my insurance claim documents, which have also had to travel to and from work with me for some time (as the idiot who did a U-turn right in front of me back in November is now (well about a month ago) refusing to take any blame).

So, in conclusion:
good news – I found my Passport, forms, driving licence, more forms and photos
also good news – I’ve completed yet another Disclosure form for child protection
not so good news – I can’t get the drivers licence till I’ve got the new Passport
more not so good news – I need to start carrying these in and out of work again in the vague hope that I actually get around to doing something sensible with them…
even worse news – I still haven’t found my sunglasses!

Paperwork cartoon

Christmas Eve ‘Service’

December 25, 2006
A lovely watchnight service to see in Christmas day.  As ever there was a strange mix of visitors and guests (I’m making the distinction between people with St Silas regulars and those with little or no regular connection).

Christian Okake spoke and then straight after the service went on to serve by helping Alison change a flat tyre.  OK, so I say ‘helping’ Alison change the tyre, but with three ‘wise men’ from the church around there wasn’t much they would let her do.  In addition to this there was soon an audience of four to cheer on / supervise and then I came along and did the only thing left to do – take photos.

And so begins Christmas day with a good deed among the fellowship of St Silas.



Car Crash 5 – the end

December 22, 2006

10 Nov – Car Crash

11 Nov – Car Crash 2 – forgiveness

14 Nov – Car Crash 3 – The Phone Calls

16 Nov – Car Crash 4 – Written Off

And so it ends… on Monday 18th Dec the insurance company had paid up and came to collect the hire car (well sort of, the pick up was changed to the next day, and as I couldn’t be around the lovely Lou and Colin at Biblocafe stepped in and held the car keys for me so that the collection could take place).

I began this saga saying “I don’t have much luck with cars”. I don’t have much luck in general which kind of makes me thing about ‘luck’ itself and should Christians believe in ‘luck’. However, as I was pondering this I got a phone call from Andy – the mechanic I’ve been using for years… it went something like:

Andy: Are you still looking for a car
Me: yes
Andy: This one has come in, same as you had before, one year newer at 2002, ehh it’s racing green, same engine size, 30000 miles, they are looking for £3000
: ehhh [ Think Think – I should ask some sensible vehicle related question ]… does it have a sun roof?
Andy: I don’t think so, around 2002 they started putting in AC instead of sunroofs
: [Think Think – Ohhh AC = Air conditioning ] great that’s fine, I never really used the sunroof anyway. OK, that all sounds good I’ll go for it.

So, it looks like I will only have ended up off the road for a week or so and will have got a newer, lower milage car for a few hundred quid. Well, a few hundred quid, lot of phone calls, forms, lifts, time off work, parking permits, road tax, parking permits (again), insurance again and another parking permit still to come! – what are the chances of all that before Christmas!



One thing I will state publicly have been excellent. Have dealt with every enquiry quickly, called back promptly if needed, paid up, helped out and given me a good price on my new insurance. Other than the slightly crap TV adverts Elephant have been great!

As you can probably tell from the above (and from the fact that I’m buying a second Rover) I am not a petrol head and only watch Top Gear for the entertainment not to find out anything about cars.

Car Crash 4 – Written Off

November 16, 2006

So the car is a write off .

This seems to be mainly because it is a Rover and as they went out of business parts are expensive and hard to get.  The list of damage is also more than I expected, but perhaps that is just once you list everything.

So now the insurance company will come up with a settlement value based on the age, mileage and condition (before the front end shrunk on impact of course), and once they pay that cheque the hire car disappears.  When I got the car I took out a loan, so I can only hope that the settlement value covers whatever is left on that loan then I suppose I’m back to square one sorting out another loan and finding another car.  Hassle!

Car Crash 3 – The phone calls

November 14, 2006

Starting about 3 hours after the accident I called my insurance company. Now, I managed to do this without knowing the policy number, or in deed as it turned out my own registration number. But I did have a fair idea of what the web address for “” was. However, the ‘elephant bloke’ (as I choose now to call him) dealt with all my lack of knowledge in polite and efficient manner.

With only a description of the facts involved he quickly came to the same conclusion as I had that this wasn’t my fault and could be dealt with as a no-blame incident. So no-claims bonus should be intact, and I should (for once) see all the benefits of motor insurance swing in my favour.

Having made that decision, he could then transfer me to a different company (Albany Assistance Limited) who seem to deal with everything now. So nearest repair garage is located (one of the Arnold Clark group) – they will contact me… the courtesy car is arranged, Fleet Services will ‘deliver to wherever you want” (I decided it should be delivered to somewhere I will be, to make it easier to use) – they also will contact me… anything else?

me: “what is this going to cost?”
him: “in a ‘no-blame’ situation we get all costs back from the third party insurers, it won’t cost you anything and you keep your no claims and there is no excess”
me: “but, what if they argue and the question of blame comes back?”
him: “the other guy was doing a U-turn!”
me: “I see your point.”

A couple of hours later ‘Fleet Services’ (hire car people) call
“Hi you need a car, when would you like it”
“tomorrow would be great I’m going somewhere”
“Sorry, can’t do it till Monday”
“OK, how early?”
“all we can say is it will be morning, but the driver will contact you on the day to give you a better idea” “Fine – thanks – etc.” (I don’t think I actually said ‘etc.’)

The next day: Arnold Clark called (well a representative not Arnold himself)
“Hi you’ve got a car we need to look at, can you bring it in for us to take photos?”
“no it’s not drivable, the radiators been damaged” I didn’t mention that I’ve got a camera it didn’t see helpful.
“Well you’ll have to arrange for it do be delivered to us, get in touch with your insurers they should deal with this.”
[not happy] “OK, can’t right now but leave it with me”

2 minutes later Arnold Clark calls back:
“OK, can get a recovery company to collect it. Can’t do it till Monday”
“What time”
“Cant tell you till Monday”
“That’s no good, I need to know at least morning afternoon or evening…?”

2 minutes later Arnold Clark calls back:
“Monday morning as close to 9 as they can”
“Thank you!”

skip forward to Monday morning….

9:30 Arnold Clark called
“Hi, just to check – a recovery company will be collecting your car some time today is that still OK and can you confirm the location?”
“hold on I was told they would be here around 9am”
“no, we can’t guarantee when they will be able to be there”
“OK, no ‘guarantee’ but when do they aim to be here”

2 minutes later Arnold Clark calls back:
“talked to the recovery driver, he has a load at the moment and then you are next on the list”
“how long will that be, where is he, where is he going…. what time roughly will they be here?”
“we don’t know”

“Hi there I’ve got a car to drop of for you at the ‘University of Clyde’ ?”
“Yea, that’s Strathclyde – and I’m not there, looks like I’ll be stuck at home for a while”
<give him change of address>
“Great that’s even closer, I’ll be there in 20 minutes according to this SatNav”

23-minutes later, honestly I checked (there was very little else to do) – bloke drives up and unloads my hire car, which because of the parking restrictions I have to get a ticket for.

“Hi, Arnold Clark, I’m waiting for my car to be picked up it’s now 11:30, what’s happening?”
“I’ll just put you on hold”
<held>“hi there, spoke to the driver and he is on his way to you, but is stuck in traffic. Won’t be long”
“how long”
“I don’t know”
“stuck in traffic where so that I can guess how long he will be”
“I don’t know”
“thank you”

12:10 – truck arrives and takes my sick car away… before they do I remove the parking permit (I will rant about that in a separate blog) and wander about removing the road tax. I decide not to – will this come back as a problem… car going away

The score so far: – excellent, simple service, easy to deal with
Albany Assistance – fair enough, seem to be dealing with things well so far
Fleet Services – Fantastic, good service, funny delivery driver, quality car, couldn’t be better (so far)
Arnold Clark – famously according to one site – now sadly removed – “Arnold Clark Sucks” and so far they haven’t done very much and they haven’t done that very well – so a lot of ground to make up.