A Nokia comeback ?

So my year of study comes abruptly to an end.  It is extremely pleasing to have maintained a 100% first time pass record for all of my marine studies.  Those in the know, will be well aware how hard I have worked this year to achieve them all.

Earlier this week I overcame the last hurdle and passed my oral exam in Hull.  Very rapidly posted my documents off to get them upgraded and then at 6am the very next morning, got on a plane to Italy for a month of work.

Back to the grind for a month – while I continue the search for something .

I was also fortunate enough to be able to sit a speed awareness course.  You may remember I got flashed (sadly a speed camera – not a naked wench)  while driving up to Newcastle earlier in the year for two of my exams. It was an eye opener but not for reasons you may suspect.

There was a girl there that was telling a story about two guys that were crossing a road when they were hit by a car and killed.  She said the car was reportedly travelling at 50mph and she was shocked that a car hitting a person at 50 would be enough to kill them.  My thoughts – can people really be so stupid?

I blame Hollywood.  See, in the movies, you can be running a marathon, get hit head on by a speeding bus, bounce across the roof and over the side, brush off the dirt and finish the race while still setting a new world record time.  A bit like the A Team back in the 80’s – all those gun shots and no-one ever got hurt.  Makes the yoot of today think they are invincible.

Any road up – I am now more wiser to the operations of those new smart motorways – and I still have a clean licence.

Now, telephones – lets talk.  I dropped apple some time ago now and favour the Android system because of the freedom and options it gives you over iOS.  What miffed me though, was just how easy my Samsung ‘Gorilla Glass’ broke on my phone 4 times in one year.  Now, I am not generally a heavy breaker of phones.  In all the years with iPhone, I only ever broke 1 screen – in fact, I had only ever broken one screen since I got my first phone in 1995.

The Samsung replacements were not cheap either, nearly £200 for a front and £80 for a rear. Add that to the £750 purchase cost and you have a whopping £1310 over two years – if you ask me, that is taking the piss, plain and simple.

It gets worse – for each repair, expect to be without your Samsung for a full week.  That would be a real shitter if you didn’t have a spare.  You can’t walk into a repair shop with them, you have to courier them away.

I chatted with the guys in carephonewhorehouse about this. The spotty little oik had an answer for me – buy insurance at £80 a year! Now, I very nearly told him to fuck off but instead, I tried to explain.

I shouldn’t have to buy insurance for something when it is made with ‘Gorilla Glass’.  The name implies a significant inherent amount of strength – correct me if I am wrong.  I would never expect a phone glass to break while it was in my front pocket and I was laying on the floor.

They didn’t get it.  I wilted a little.

I had a cunning plan though………..NOKIA.

Remember them?  Those tech geeks from Finland are making a bit of a come back. I have been checking out their product for a few weeks now.  Their offering, a Nokia 6.1 plus comes with 64gb of internal storage, expandable up to 400gb, yep 400 – that’s enough memory to put everything I have on my macbook pro onto, 4gb RAM and a 1.8ghz processor.  16mp front camera and a 5mp rear will capture your wrinkles in every selfie.  It also boasts dual sim capability although I am not sure if that is at the demise of the expandable memory but time will tell because I ordered one.  It runs on Android so that means I can pick it up and it will work exactly like my Samsung – no need to learn a new operating system.

Do I sound excited?

Honestly, I am a bit.  The biggest part of that excitement is because of how much it cost.  I bagged all those specs, that will compete with any iPhone or Samsung for a fraction of the price.  Yep, my new Nokia rolled in via the postie at a tad under – yes UNDER …………………………….£250.

There is one downside – not splash proof.  My theory is at that price I can afford to buy a new one every 6 months for the next 2 years and still save over £300 on the Samsung experience across the same time period.

There was another angle I considered.  The new Samsung Note 9 with 1TB of storage and a Dex system and then when my Mac dies, I can do away with a laptop altogether.  Downside there is the Mac still works well enough even if I do believe it is on its last legs – the new Samsung is over a grand though – and as Mike Skinner so famously said – ‘A grand don’t come for free’.

Now based on my experience with Samsung after sales and the running costs – I opted for the Nokia – I will update you soon on the demise of Samsung.

And Finally

 

I found a little note tucked in my shoe of the morning of my oral exam earlier this week.  A little surprise from the missus as I was getting dressed for battle.  She likes to do that when I am travelling, just to remind me she is there – waiting patiently.  I thought I would share it with you.

 

 

 

 

 


A steely gaze

Has it happened to you?  You are sitting somewhere, locked in an unfocused gaze.  Your friend pipes up ‘what are you thinking about?’ and your natural response is

‘I was just wondering if I have PPI’

Well, it never happened to me but it does turn out that I did indeed have PPI.  A text message from my bank this morning showing a credit of nearly £1600 – with a reference ‘PPI’.  Of course, the company took a hefty chunk – 25% + VAT but still, money for old rope.

The biggest surprise was not the fact I had PPI without knowing – oh no.  The biggest surprise was finding the culprit.  See, over the years I have borrowed from many institutions and there were a few that I was sure would come up positive.  Years ago there was a company called HFC Bank, I was sure they would have ripped me off.  Then Alliance and Leicester, had a few loans with them – but nothing.

The shock came when I found out that First Direct – my wholly trusted bank since the 90’s had charged me twice.  First Direct, part of that giant HSBC had charged me on a loan and a mortgage.  Honestly, I was stunned by that.  I would have almost trusted them with my life.

Sad thing is, they are very good at looking after their customers – so much so, I have recommended them several times in the past.  It’s a sad day when an old friend lets you down so badly.

 

Years ago, I ventured into a Lidl store to try it out.  When I say years ago, it was when they first came to the UK.  If you remember, and you tried it back then, you will remember what a complete cluster fuck it was.  No amount of saving money would have me putting up with that nonsense twice a week.

All that has changed my chums.  Earlier this week, I ventured into Lidl again.  Long gone is the shit fight that used to be. Brands laid on shelves waiting to be picked up.  I was astounded (and I don’t use that word lightly) by the amount of goods that were produced in Britain or contained produce from Britain – this alone should be a good enough reason to shop there, especially ‘post brexit’.

What was even better was the price.  My two full ‘bags for life’ cost me less than £21 and have fed me quite happily for 5 days now – I am sure I will also survive the weekend on what I have.  Admittedly, it was all food. no cleaning, hair & beauty, alcohol present, but damn it was cheap.  I suspect the same bags of stuff at Sainsbury or Tesco would have cost 50% more.

‘How does it taste?’ I hear you cry

Well – bloody good I would say.  The soups have been spectacular, the wraps stupendous, cottage cheese way better than Sainsbury or Tesco, fruit and veg going strong still, the chicken was delicious but breakfast cereal will be a little boring wherever you buy it from.  I did have a problem with the eggs but I suspect that may have been down to operator error not waiting for the pan to be on the boil before inserting the eggs.

So – I am a convert.  The only thing missing was cucumber.  I will get that at Tesco later.

 

Still studying.  My last results came back as two passes.  One was just a scrape through but a pass is a pass and that’s all I needed.  Honestly thought I had failed that one and was preparing to re-sit in October when my results landed.  I opened the envelope to see the results.

The SQA that manage the exams send a summary page of all of the exams you have sat with them, usually these are in date order.  When I opened the letter my eyes dropped to the last two lines on that page.  Both said passes.  Convinced I had failed one, I didn’t believe it and looked at the top two lines – both of those said passes.  Still not convinced, I scanned the whole column – each line said ‘PASS’.

Still not convinced, I went back to the top and started reading the subjects.  This time, the latest subjects were at the top. I read them, both passes.  Read them again – still both passes and then, those immortal words echoed from my lips while I stood with both of my parents in their kitchen – ‘ Fuck Me – I passed them both’.

Now either their hearing aids were not working properly or they decided to give me that one on the house considering the circumstances.  All was well.

I remained in shock as I was convinced – without doubt, that I would re-sit one of them.

 

Do you ever catch yourself saying something stupid?  I did the other day.  The missus is away on holiday and I am looking after her dog.  We were getting ready to go out in the car and as we were going in the Range Rover, he had to go in the boot so he didn’t scratch the leather.

I started the car and found the dog opened the tailgate and put him inside.

As I put him down and prepared to close the tailgate – I said to him, ‘Roshea (that’s his name) – Stay There’

I mean, what a dumb thing to say right, where was he going to go?  The gate was still closed on the driveway.

 

Back to studies – last exam on 3rd October – here’s hoping to maintain that 100% 1st time pass rate


If I ran the country

The first thing I would do is ban the mobile network three.co.uk

These ever so decent chaps have just hiked the cost of international calling by more than double. Naturally I had to call them.  My suggestion was simple – as they had changed the cost of my contract mid term, the should release me from it without penalty.

Pretty straight forward I thought but the guy on the other end of the phone was having none of it. He gave me two options.  I could leave without penalty but couldn’t take my number with me, you know, that number I have had for more than 10 years? Or, I could pay the early termination penalty and keep my number.

I desperately explained how unfair that was as they had changed my tariff mid contract but he stood his ground.  Eventually I lost my cool and called him a bully.  That made him scuttle off to talk to someone else.

On his return he was somewhat apologetic.  He was just beginning to realise how much my calls had gone up.  He explained that there was nothing they could do as it was a company policy but as a gesture of goodwill (apparently I am a good customer) the offered a £30 credit on my bill. I took it, naturally.

Then this month I wanted to check to see if the credit had been applied to the bill.  In this modern, environmentally leaning society that we live in, I have paperless billing and instead use their app to see my bills.  Of course, their app wasn’t working.  I contacted them and after 20 minutes and 3 different operators, I hung up.  Some stroppy bitch on the other end of the phone really did get my goat.  They tried calling me back but I blocked their number.

 

 

Seriously – what a hike.

 

Other things I would change revolve around motoring.  See last week I got a speeding ticket.  1st one of this millennium I might add but nonetheless it is still a ticket.  What happened?  Heading north on the M1 in South Yorkshire, 4 lanes of motorway at probably 20% capacity, one lane completely free, lane 3 very light, lanes 1 and 2 not even moderately occupied.

The little matrix at the side of the road said 60mph, so like most people, I dropped my speed and prepared to see a reason ahead as to why we needed to slow a little.  After a short while of seeing nothing out of the ordinary I hit ‘resume’ on the cruise control. I carried on for a while when suddenly I saw the double flash on a car in front of me – oh shit I thought, then it flashed again, this time on me.

My crime – 69mph when the gantry said 60mph.  No workforce in the road, no obstructions in the road, clear sunny weather (heat wave actually) and nothing between me and the end of the 60 zone that warranted a reduction in speed. I got my ticket 2 days ago.

It got me thinking a little bit.  See to me, it was completely unneccessary to reduce the speed, there was no reason to.  Then I thought – I could drive past a school at kicking out time at 30mph and not get flashed by a camera – that would be more risky in my book.

Then of course there are the phone users – wedged to their ear as they negotiate roundabouts and corners or the people that have a beer or two and drive.

So I would change a few things.

Motorways – 80mph in the dry – 60mph in the rain – works for the French and it is very easy to cross France in a car.  At 85mph (65mph) in the wet – you get your points and a fine.

Schools at kicking out time – 20mph max for half a mile either side of the school gates – no tolerance here, 21mph gets you a ticket.

Caught on a phone? 6 points and £500 fine – no exceptions. Come on, a bluetooth kit is as little as £15!!

Alcohol when driving – ZERO.  I say this based on my own beautiful experience.  See I am one of those cheap dates that can actually get a little shit faced from one bottle of beer.

 

Dodgy number plates and front windows with illegal tints – prohibition on car at roadside, cannot be driven away with said defects.

Uninsured drivers – cars confiscated. Instead of crushing them, they are sold at public auction, the proceeds of which are returned to the police to assist with funding.  In fact this should be extended to all items that can be sold if they have been purchased with the proceeds of crime

Mobile speed detection vans (don’t give me that safety partnership bullshit) – could only work at sites where either there had been an accident in the last couple of years OR residents had requested its presence. Any fines to go to the local council who use the funds directly to improve the accident black spots to make them safer. And no more camera vans at the bottom of steep hills unless one or both of the criteria above are met. See, I have a real issue when they say safety camera team.  The issue is that they are nearly always positioned in spots that provide them with the best results.

 

After all of that, I also had a killer thought.

 

If the money, time and effort that local authorities have invested in camera vans, smart motorways with gantry cameras, average speed cameras, road humps, chicanes etc etc had been spent on combating knife crime – they would probably save more lives pound for pound.

But that’s just me trash talking because I just got a speeding ticket.

Anything else in the news?

 

 

 

 

 


Caught a bolt of lightening….

Some things we don’t appreciate until they are gone.  There is a very significant comedienne that fits this category.  I never really appreciated her when she was alive, maybe it was an age thing? By crikey this old bird was sharp.  Sharp, funny and not afraid to say what she wanted.

Stop for a moment and enjoy this old bird at her finest.

 

 

Yeah I know, not to everyone’s taste but by crikey she makes me laugh.

 

So – my silence. Let me explain.

 

Studying.  Taken over my life so far this year, certainly over the last 2 months or so.  I have been consumed with pushing myself to improve my marine licence and get onto bigger boats with a more acceptable schedule.  So for the last few days I have been in sunny Newcastle to sit what should have been my last two papers of the year.

Newcastle hasn’t been kind to me over the years.  A few years back you may remember I came up here for the Great North Run aiming for a 1 hour 45 min finish time, instead missing out by around 17 minutes.

On the way up on Tuesday afternoon, I triggered a speed camera on the motorway.  I reckon I was doing about 71mph when the gantry suggested only 60mph.  Doesn’t matter that there was sod all on the roads and sod all reason to issue the 60 limit.  I was over.  Amazes me to be able to do 30mph past a school at kicking out time but 70mph on a 4 lane motorway on a bright sunny afternoon when only 2 lanes are busy is a no no.

Yesterday, Newcastle continued to be unkind.  I was served up an exam paper that was an absolute fucker !  I am pretty sure I have not done enough to pass that one. A resit is on the horizon.

Its weird really because Newcastle and the locals are superb.  I have never met such a cannie bunch in all fairness.  As far as accents go, a geordie accent is as sweet and sexy as an East German.

I once worked with a geordie at LeasePlan, Brian Cairnes I think was his name.  He told me once, if you can master these 3 words in Geordie, you can master the whole lingo.  Try it for yourself

Kawasaki

Photocopier

Conjunctivitis

Anyway – I now have a few weeks to either get back to work or sit and wait for my results to come through.  There are a few things I would like to catch up on, including just seeing friends.  I have been so consumed over the last few months that I have seen no-one.

 

Is it just me or are Fire Engines getting smaller?  I was at the birds the other week.  As we pulled up, I could hear a smoke alarm.  I wandered to the bottom of the street and sure enough a house was on fire.  Being fully trained for that sort of shit I checked with the owner that everyone was out then had a cheeky gander myself to see if there was anything I could do.  In all fairness, everyone was out, no pets missing and the back bedroom was well alight so I retreated to the street to pass the info onto the brigade when it arrived.

I could hear the sirens in the distance, I knew the were coming.  Surely they could see the smoke too.  When they arrived – I was shocked.  That engine wasn’t much bigger than my Range Rover.  I also noticed at my local station that they too have one of these smaller units.  Maybe fires are just not as big as they used to be, all these flame retardant modern materials and stuff?

Silence over.  Maybe I will write some really interesting shit this summer.  Maybe I will find something that completely mesmerises me, maybe I will work on my fitness and lose some weight, maybe maybe maybe…….

 

I was reminiscing the other night, the good old days of early Saturday morning starts to be on the break in Cornwall by 9am.  The SRI Vectra dropped on its arse, boards on the roof and The Distillers for company on the 4 hour drive down. Leaning forward as we approached the ‘Welcome to Cornwall’ sign on the motorway then shouting at Mr Richer that ‘I was in Cornwall before you’.

So I guess I should treat you to Ms Brody Dalle………..hot hot hot hot hot.!

 

 

But remember, I am a classic Libran – perfect balance, a yin for the yang, a feng for your shui, a McDonalds for the Burger King.

So lets balance the musical mood with a Dance Classic from back in the day (you can see my previous rants about that phrase further down the page).  I remember this tune with fondness.  I was working in Royal Leamington Spa at the time, and , if I say so myself, it was an insanely buff period of my life – I turned heads even when fully clothed.  I went into a record shop (youngsters ask your parents about those!) and asked for this track by the artist.  So cool was my Mojo that the mofo behind the counter said ‘Who?’

 

Enjoy

 

 

They just don’t make ’em like that any more eh?

So what next I hear you ask?  A summer of indecision I think.  Do I work or wait for my notice of exam failure and get straight back on it?

I will let fate help me with that decision I think.  I have a few chores to catch up on at home, at the birds and the birds’ daughters so surely I can keep busy for a coupe of weeks at least? Hell I might even win the euromillions tonight.

 

But in case I don’t – I have a plan.  If you have a plan, stick to it.

 

 

 


38º 10.7N – 32º 31.9W

Or for those of you with less sense of direction, about a day west of the Açores.  Once there, a quick refuel and shopping trip and we can leave on the last leg to Palma – a further 7 days away.

Its been a long old slog.  Starting from just above Venezuela, a slower boat than promised, lacking in fuel range and we have had to take our time. Two weeks from Grenada to the Açores, which , if you look at the picture below, could still easily be classed as mid atlantic.  A cockroach infestation to keep you on your toes, a Captain that doesn’t want to fill the fresh water tanks as it will slow us down – no concern that one of our water makers has failed, a broken heat exchanger that I repaired with epoxy 5 days ago, running the generator for just 5 hours a day so no air conditioning, random hot water for showers, bilge pumps that don’t work …….the list goes on – and this boat is commercially registered, so you could charter it if you can stomach the smell of diesel fuel from one of the leaking tanks  !!!

 

 

 

All that said, I will be very happy to see land in about 24 hours time.

We did encounter a pod of migrating hump back whales a couple of days ago.  Close enough to hear the thundering as they slammed back into the water – that was a first for me.  Only had the trusty Samsung to hand and didn’t get a chance to zoom in.  Thankfully they were quite close.

 

 

Plodding on, I noticed this add in a paper the other week.  I kind of admired its bluntness. I might just bear them in mind for when my time comes.  Not much straight talking in the world any more, was a tad refreshing, like the yellow snow in my last post.

 

Hoping to get into Palma on the 11th and shall instantly whisk the missus in for a couple of days R & R before hitting the study books hard again on the 21st .  Looking forward to catching up with some old chums that I haven’t seen in a while too.

 

That’ll do for now – 3 exams down, 3 more to convert !  I am amazed that since my switch from Sainsbury to Asda, Sainsbury have noticed my lack of custom to the point that they now want to merge with Asda – they must miss me, who can blame them?

 

 

 

 


Watch out for Yellow Snow

Apparently this weekend there is going to be an abundance of it according to MSN News.


I never said why exactly.

I would like to point out that, due to its northern location, Glasgow is considerably colder than the likes of sunny Warwickshire.  Bone chilling.

More importantly though, I want to share a revelation. Something of a biggie if you ask me. A monster.

I am no longer a Sainsbury’s boy

I realise many of you will stumble as you read that but my time there is done.  I blame my recent revelations around the price of McVities Chocolate digestives and their pricing strategies.  So I have switched.  I now plan to head to Asda.  I like their no bullshit approach of no loyalty programs, no money off vouchers, no nonsense , just low prices.

A couple of chums have mentioned the likes of Lidl but I say to those people ‘slow down a little’ just one step at a time if you please. And remember, Asda always have lower fuel prices than Sainsbury and Tesco, Lidl don’t sell fuel.

I have long been concerned at the way things are marketed at us, a good time to look back a few pages and see my rant about stupid people.  Seems though, it is a world wide phenomenon. Try booking a one way flight to America say.  I promise it will be more expensive than booking a return.  And not just by a few quid either – it will be a significant difference.  I just got the train to Glasgow Central. A one way ticket was £1.90 but a return, just £1.70.  How can that be?  Someone please explain that one to me. Even harder to grasp, the cheaper ticket option also produced 3 paper tickets from the machine whereas the one way option would only have ejected 2. So for the cheaper ticket, the train company has used more ink and more ticket blanks.  Let me summarise that to remove any doubt – more product for less money !

If you are as confused as me, raise your hand.

On a lighter note – I have just finished my third trip to school this year.  Back in January I became qualified to handle refrigerant gases – important that one as they are ozone depleting substances – or ODS as I can now call them.  Last week, an Applied Marine Engineering exam was devoured in Liverpool and this week in Glasgow I have been covering HELM(M). HELM stands for something about human element blah blah blah – one of those ‘keep ’em well cuddled’ attendance only courses that generally don’t achieve much other than making your wallet a grand lighter. Thankfully – that one is a one off and not one of those ‘re-validate every 5 years’ things that the MCA like quite a lot. A bit like the diving instructor licence that I have with PADI.  That must be paid every year if you want to stay valid. Nothing stops me from never teaching but keep paying the fees but they don’t care.  See officially PADI stands for Professional Association of Dive Instructors but those of us in the know, have its true meaning etched in our minds – Put Another Dollar In.

So, back to school.  Been at a Maritime School in Glasgow this week and noticed something with the fire extinguishers.  I reported the issue but I bet nothing gets done – can you spot it?

 

 

 

Was chatting with the squeeze last night on text message. Chatting about a few things that are not suitable to be published here but there were two words that came in to conversation.  Two of my favourite words in the english language as it happens, Melancholy and at the other end of the spectrum, Kaleidoscope. Now, I will fully understand if you need to consult your dictionary for those words.

Melancholy I find mesmerisingly beautiful because of its contradiction. When you read it, or speak it – it most definitely has a happy, jovial, spring blossoms flowering for the first time feel about it.  Reality is the opposite – a heavy, deep sadness.  If a person were described to you as melancholy – you might imagine they were a happy, light hearted fun person to be around. Not so!

Kaleidoscope on the other hand, has no double meaning for me.  What it does represent is a scene of ever changing happy colours, an endless churn of goodness and mood lifting pleasantness.  Visually, I find it weirdly pleasing – the irony of that choice of word is about to be explained.

Kaleidoscope – not many words start with a K in English – even fewer sequence the E & I that way, weird huh ???? It looks different, non conformist, not following the crowd – I like that.

I had a couple of favourite words in Portuguese too – portanto and Foguetão – they just sounded really sexy – don’t forget to roll your R’s.

Anyway, that’ll do for now, I just paid £6.75 for a single glass of red wine in Glasgow Central and now have a dilemma.  That was more than I would normally pay for a bottle – but it was tasty.  I have 3½ hours before my train and could easily do another one.

The Double Whopper with Bacon & Cheese is long gone, as are the cheesy bacon bites.

 

Hmmm

 

 


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