Party, Party!

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Well, we haven’t done this in a while! It’s fair to say that many of our immediate circle of neighbours have all had significant things to ‘deal with’ these past few months, so tonight was the perfect opportunity to get together.

We played to our strengths, Ann weaving her magic in the kitchen and creating a couple of cheesecakes and me – washing the car! 😁

With our strengths played-to, we picked up Paul and Karen and headed off in the direction of long-time friends, Tom and Julie (Georgina was celebrating her birthday today – and we’d all been invited!).

At the last minute, Trish and John couldn’t make it, but it still felt like a house full with aound 40 people there!

Safe to say, Ann’s cheesecakes went down a storm!

We stayed until around 10.30 leaving everyone else to finish the food and drink! It had been a really good ‘do’ although Eileen – Tom’s Mum – did manage aggravate her her knee along the way resulting in some much needed TLC – and an extended period on the sofa!

I’m tempted to say tonight was a great ‘knees up’ – but that wouldn be sooo corny! 😉

Film: The Lion King

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We headed over to Cineworld at Rushden Lakes this evening to catch the latest cinematic incarnation of ‘The Lion King‘.

Featuring the voice-talents of Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Billy Eichner, John Kani, John Oliver and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter (as well as James Earl Jones reprising his role from the original film) the movie is directed by Jon Favreau.

But more about the movie itself a little later!

And what could be better than seeing a movie in a spanking new(ish) cinema? Well, seeing it in 3D… And what could be better than seeing a movie in 3D..?
…seeing it in 4DX of course (whatever that is!).
Everyone knows that 3D is a well-worn tactic for getting people to go to the Cinema, but what about this new fangled ‘4DX’?

What is ‘4DX’ anyway?
According to Cineworld: “With stimulating effects like water, wind, scent and strobe lighting, that thrill you in your moving seat. It’s fun on your own, but better with friends – 4DX is Cineworld’s most exhilarating way to watch a film”.

This was our first experience of this technology to augment a film, and we roped-in good friends Jo and Janet to share the experience! Ahh! that’s what friends are for! 😁

And after our now familiar routine of plugging-in ‘Robert‘ for some free ‘leccy’, courtesy of Pod-Point, we headed for the special ‘4DX Screen’. Given the promised reality of this ground-breaking multi-sensory experience, I noted they don’t provide sick-bags! 🤮

But what about the Film?

Much has already been written about this new release – and it’s only been out for a few days! After all, it was as recent as 1994 that Disney released ‘the all new The Lion King Animated Movie’. So, is the world ready for another remake so soon? Well, if they can do it with SpiderMan, and pull in new audiences, surely something as cuddly as a lion-cub is going to be easy! With visuals touted as ‘hyper-real‘ and ‘photorealistic‘, we’re going into this with high expectations! 🤩

And we weren’t to be disappointed! With those two particular adjectives ringing in our ears, and just when you think animation can’t get any more real, along comes this movie, that blurs the lines between ‘real’ and CGI.

OK, I think everyone knows the story, so I won’t re-tell it here. Instead, let me concentrate how it all felt...
Breathtaking is an under-statement – and that would have been our view without the addition of 4DX. With every hair of the lions clearly possessing a life of their own, you have to wonder what the next big jump in screen animation will be like. At times it really was impossible to tell that none of these animals were actually real (apart from the fact they talked!) With the addition of the 4DX effects (strobe lighting, vibrating and pivoting chairs, scents and smoke), it made a brilliant movie totally unforgettable!

Go see! 😁👍

PS…

Even if the movie doesn’t break records, the weather is heading that way! Up here in Northamptonshire we’ve got it cooler (relatively) than those in the south-east, and across Europe, where temperatures are promising to hit the high 30s! 🥵

Coolio! (relatively)

Guilty as Charged!

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It’s been a week of experimentation whilst we tried out various Public Chargers for the first time.

Tuesday: Our first public charge (almost!)

First stop (on Tuesday) was Rushden Lakes where there are 7 chargers (5 x 7.2w + 2 x 22w, all shiny new) – and better still, they’re all free! Pity then, that I was guilty of not RTFM, because after plugging-in and going shopping, we returned an hour or so later to find that Robert had not charged at all! 😕 I’d forgotten to take the car off off-peak charging. Doh!! 😕👎

Friday: Our second Charge (success!)

Roll on Friday, where, on the way to Bishop’s Stortford, I dropped into Birchanger Green Services (M11, junction 8) in search of their two charging stations. What made these slightly different was that all Ecotricity’s electricity comes from renewable sources, and therefore my conscience was as clear as the Charging Stations’ parking bays! 😊. There were three plugs on offer per Charger (although they all looked a bit battle-scarred and un-loved) of which two of the three, in theory, suited the e-Niro.

So, me being me, I chose the biggest plug on show, meaning it was a rapid type (a CCS Combo pushing 50kW, since you asked). These generally aren’t free, but at ‘only’ 30p per kWh, it’s still a cheap way to ‘fill-up’. I plugged-in and the App on my phone – and the Charger’s screen – confirmed the car was charging (after I remembered to switch off off-peak charging! 😉)

40-or-so minutes later, Robert was fully juiced – Mission accomplished!! 👍👍🏁. Around 50 miles had cost me just £4.50!

We Haven’t Saved the Planet!

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Well, after exactly a week of ownership, we may not have saved the planet (yet!), but we’re saving something! 😁👍

#GoElectric #eNiro

The Kia e-Niro ‘First Edition’. For more info, click HERE

Fully Charged Live 2019

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It seemed appropriate that our first major outing in our very first EV would be the Fully Charged Live Show at nearby Silverstone!

After picking up Chris and Mark in Northampton, we headed for this iconic location, where, in addition to plenty of ‘talkie-bits’, there was also an opportunity to test drive the latests EVs and look round at the numerous electricity-related Stands. I’d got my eye on test-driving the Jaguar i-Pace.

Hosted and organised by Red Drarf’s ‘Kryten’ aka actor, Robert Llewellyn, this was a Show for anyone with an interest in electricity and its role in the future of the Motor Industry.

Plenty to see and do!

Before going, I had a feeling this might be an event just for sandle-wearing envronmental hippies, but I was totally wrong! I’d go as far as to say, it was pretty ‘mainstream’ judging by the amount (and type) of people there (on both sides of the microphone).

..and plenty of experts on hand

We arrived just after 10 am, and judging by the Car-Park, it was already very busy. In addition to the numerous ICE cars, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many privately-owned Teslas – and even more pleased to NOT see another e-Niro! 😉👍. I’m sure there were going to be some – but ours was the only one when we arrived. It was truly a ‘rare beast’!

Our first big decision of the day was whether to take the short journey to the Show by Bus or by chauffeured Tesla. Ordinarily, this would have been a no-brainer, but with what seemed like the whole world queuing for Musk’s supercars, we took the free Bus instead!

Ten-minutes later, we’d arrived and we took a quick look round the exhibits inside before our first coffee.

It didn’t take us long to realise that this was no niche-ey event – it was very well supported by us the Public, as well as the very wide range of Exhibitors. From solar roof experts, petrol-to-electric engine conversions, solar-storage batteries the size of your radiators and many (many) home-electric charging companies, it seemed to cater for everyone with an interest in electricity as an energy source!

Nerd Alert! BP ChargeMaster showing off their brand new 150kW Charger

…and if the exhibits inside weren’t enough to get you interested, then there were plenty of organised presentations arranged throughout the day to discuss and explain in greater detail, electric cars and their impact.

The Most Polluted Road in the World

Did you know that Oxford Street here in the UK is the most polluted road in the World?

Almost more cars than people (almost!)

Time for a look around outside… And it didn’t disappoint! Although I did try and book a test-drive of the Jaguar i-Pace, it seemed the rest of mankind had the same idea, so as consolation, I took a closer look at a static model!

Jaguar i-Pace (A bit cramped in the back and the massive LCD screen in the front was of weird proportions!). However… “Yes please!”

After a quick Lunch, we took a look round the specialist exhibits. Some of which were iconic ICE cars converted to run on electricity…

…plus some that were all-electric by design…

…and I’ll have this one too, please! 😁👍

So, all-in-all, a GREAT event – and to make it even better, we even managed to get our coveted journey in a Tesla to get us back to the car-park…

Very flash!

…plus a few mementos of our visit…

A very well organised event in every sense! 👍😁 I’m sure I’ll be going again next year.

SPECS and the City (not!)

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They say you always remember your first time!

Mine was on the road between Catford and Lewisham back in the late 70s at 10.47 – a Sunday I think – and it was over in a flash. Dad was horrified, Mum was angry mortified – and I was very embarrassed having been caught in the act. And silly me, for not using any protection!

Now I know what your thinking, but at the time, getting nicked for speeding was a relatively novel event, and the protection of a camera detector was financially out-of-reach for me back then. I must have needed specs, even back then at the tender age of 22, because PC Dixon was so obvious standing at the side of the road with his speed gun!
Sad smile
I don’t mind saying that after being pulled over by the ‘boys-in-blue’ (there were no girls-in-blue in police cars during the late 70s) for doing 52 in a 30, I spent the 29.9 mph return journey home see-sawing between emotions. Emotions of fear (how to tell Mum and Dad) and surprise (that my highly customised first car – an already ageing bright red 848cc mini-van was actually capable of going that fast!).

Fast-forward (sorry, controlled acceleration-forward) 40+ years, and the more things change, the more they stay the same. After a points-free Licence since May 22, 2011, I’d always planned to keep it that way – but Fate had other plans!

I was caught doing 46 in a 40 last December not by one of these new-fangled SPECS (average) speed cameras, but a fixed one in my old stomping-ground – the city of Peterborough.

Ahh, so that’s where the Blog Title came from!

Back to the story! Luckily, I could still remain points-free courtesy of a ‘Speed Awareness Course’. I hadn’t realised that these sort of Courses were such a regular event. When I was sent the list of venues and dates, there was more-or-less two-per-day for the foreseeable future – clearly a popular alternative to three points then!

So, I arrived at the Marriott Hotel in Northampton just after 8am today, and the class was already filling up for the 8.30 kick-off! We were introduced to our Trainers-for-the-day – Stuart and David – and made to feel very welcome. On the stroke of 8.30, the class was full and the 30-or-so of us were probably all thinking the same as me: “What’s today going to be like?”
Disappointed smile
Well, I’m pleased to say (having spent quite a few years ‘up-front’ as a Trainer) that it was a thoroughly well-run and educational event. Rapport was quickly built with the group – not easy when it’s mandatory… on a Saturday morning… at 8.30! Both Stuart and David treated us like adults (not like naughty children) and quickly tapped in to our driving experience. It certainly was NOT death-by-PowerPoint, instead, we had quite a few individual and group exercises to build on our experiences and help us to improve our driving skills.

The days when these sort of events relied on shock tactics showing mangled cars and mangled people, thankfully, were a thing of the past.

We were offered plenty of ‘tips and tricks’ to help us become more aware of the surroundings when we are driving, and I guess that’s the point of all of this.

Having been behind the wheel since I was 18, I wasn’t sure I was going to learn anything – but I did! And I really do think it will help to calm that lead right foot of mine!
Thumbs up Thumbs up Thumbs up Thumbs up Thumbs up

Return to Netherfields

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After last night’s late-night curry-fest with the Costellos, what could be better than a lie-in this morning? Well nothing actually, but instead, we sped off to Nick and Celina’s to continue with helping them re-model their garden. After a quick faff-around in the kitchen clearing up the final debris, we hit the road early and arrived just before 9.15am.

Netherfields

The four of us soon got stuck in – pruning, digging, dumping, planting and re-planting, stopping only for the short break for a cuppa and then a ‘picnic on the lawn’ around 1pm.

My goodness, we got so much done today, and even though the promised heatwave never really arrived (probably a good thing!), it didn’t stop us making great progress.


It’s fair to say that by the ‘close-of-play’ just after 3, we were all ready to call it a day. And we did, said our farewells and headed home. Fortunately, our navigation around the road closure at Upplingham was a lot more successful than Friday’s near Oundle and we were home by 4.30.

A rewarding day in every sense – I feel a hot bath coming on!
Smile