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RICHADA

RICHADA

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If my reviews entertain, amuse or brighten your moment in any way, then my task is done! ++

Reviews written

since 20/06/2004

299

Nikon D610 30/04/2016

NIKON D610 EXCEEDING ALL EXPECTATIONS

Nikon D610 A NON-TECHIE REVIEW If you want to read all about the many technical details of the Nikon D610, this review is not for you. Several impressively sized books on the subject are available, the one that I purchased, just after getting the camera, manages to baffle rather than de-bunk whilst the handbook supplied with the camera (thanks panamoz!) runs to 355 pages and is as dry as dry can be. Having now had time to get to know the camera I may actually get more value from the above two publications! In writing this review my aim is to explain how spending twice as much money on a Nikon D610 over (for example) a perfectly good D5500 can be justified by someone who is looking for almost the ultimate in amateur D-SLR photography. RICHADA AND PHOTOGRAPHY In July last year, I reviewed an internet photographic supplier, panamoz.com, who are based in Hong Kong and facilitated the purchase of this, my dream camera. At the time, I realised that this particular camera is such a complex piece of kit that, to review it, having had no experience of at least most of its features, would be to sell myself, the camera and you, the reader, short. Frankly it is a surprise to me that, in the year since the Nikon D610 was launched, I am the first to actually review it here, although, bearing in mind its full list price of around £2000 when launched, maybe not. I am a long standing Nikon single lens reflex (SLR) and digital (D-SLR) camera fan. My photographic hobby started at the age of about ...

Coventry Transport Museum, Coventry 23/04/2016

SENDING YOU TO COVENTRY FOR THE TRANSPORT MUSEUM

Coventry Transport Museum, Coventry ......AND SO TO THE COVENTRY TRANSPORT MUSEUM Having very recently visited and reviewed the British Motor Museum at Gaydon in Warwickshire, just a thirty minute drive from this one in the centre of Coventry, I realised that I was long overdue a return visit to Coventry and had, several years ago, fully intended to review the British Museum of Road Transport as it then was. As luck would have it, business called me to the NEC on the southernmost outskirts of Birmingham – it took me somewhat less than 30 minutes, by road, to arrive at the re-named Coventry Transport Museum from there. On at least half a dozen occasions over the last thirty years I have visited Hale Street in Coventry to see this museum, during that time not only has the museum itself grown and changed out of all recognition, but so too has most of central Coventry beyond the Cathedral Precincts – also well worth visiting whilst here, and barely a five minute walk from the museum. Unlike the British Motor Museum at Gaydon, there is plenty in central Coventry to make a day out worthwhile for all the family, or, if you are a solo car / vehicle enthusiast, you may just be tempted to visit both museums in the day – completely possible, but to do so would do neither full justice. THE BUILDING AND GROUNDS – FIRST IMPRESSIONS 10 / 10 Back in the 1980’s this was quite a rundown part of Coventry city centre and the museum was then housed in what looked like ramshackle interconnecting sheds, although outward ...

Youngman Odd Job Trade Work Platform 16/04/2016

YOUNGMAN ODD JOB CONSTANTLY HELPS OUT THIS OLD BOY

Youngman Odd Job Trade Work Platform WHAT IS THE MOST USEFUL GIFT YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN? A Youngman Odd Job, or, to give it its full catalogue mane: Youngman 310898 Odd Job Multi-Purpose Trade Work Platform. I did not have to think twice about the answer to that question! ODD JOB? THAT SOUNDS A BIT PECULIAR, WHAT, EXACTLY, IS AN ODD JOB? The Youngman Odd Job is a 600mm high, lightweight, aluminium decorator’s stepper or platform. It has folding legs, complete with yellow plastic feet, which when extended lock into place. When folded, the legs and stepper take up next to no space at all, it standing vertically against a wall. Unlike a step ladder, even an aluminium one, the Odd Job is extremely portable, light, and easy to store or indeed to pop in the car and take with you to carry out a job elsewhere. If 600mm does not sound very high, at an average 5ft 8ins in height, it allows me to comfortably reach any standard height ceiling. I do not like ladders, have always used step ladders, but the Odd Job provides a much safer, more stable and versatile platform from which to work. HOW DID I FIND OUT ABOUT THIS DIY’ERS FRIEND? This time four years ago we were deep in the midst of the awful trauma of having our bungalow converted into a house. This is a process that, should you have no choice but to live in the property whilst being carried out, I would not recommend to my worst enemy. Living in a building site from January through to April is injurious for both your mental health and physical well-being. The ...

British Motor Museum, Gaydon 13/04/2016

THE VERY BEST (AND WORST!) OF BRITISH MOTORING HERITAGE

British Motor Museum, Gaydon THE BRITISH MOTOR MUSEUM There are some excellent motor museums in this country, one could almost say that enthusiasts are spoilt for choice; Beaulieu, home of The National Motor Museum, Coventry, home of the Museum of British Road Transport, Sparkford, home of the Haynes Motor Museum and, er, Gaydon, home of the British Motor Museum. Hands up all who have heard of Gaydon? (Aston Martin, Jaguar and Land Rover employees are excused). All are good and I would recommend visiting them all if you have the opportunity and are sufficiently interested. This collection and I actually go back a long way, to the mid-1980’s when, rather oddly, this homage to the Great British Motor industry and its products was located at Syon Park in West London. On that occasion, when I first visited, it was called the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust (BMIHT). My second visit C1993 brought me to the current site, in which an enlarged collection had been re-housed, just off of Junction 12 of the then newly completed M40 at Gaydon in Warwickshire. It was then, until the end of 2015 known as The Heritage Motor Centre. Over the winter of 2015 / 16 the museum was given a £1.1M total make-over and was re-launched as The British Motor Museum. My visit, in February, was exactly a week after the museum reopened so I almost certainly saw both buildings and exhibits at their best. THE BUILDING(S) AND GROUNDS – FIRST IMPRESSIONS 8 / 10 The first time that I visited Gaydon in the early 90’s, it felt as ...

SeaCity Museum, Southampton 13/04/2016

SEA CITY? THAT'LL BE SOUTHAMPTON THEN.

SeaCity Museum, Southampton BRITAIN, A MARITIME NATION In Britain, being a maritime nation, we are fortunately well endowed with maritime museums of all sorts, from the vast National Maritime Museum in Greenwich to the tiny, local, one situated in just about every coastal port and fishing village. Of course, some places have more of a claim to being a maritime city than others, prime of those being Liverpool and Southampton, both, now, homes to museums majoring on their respective connections to the ill-fated RMS Titanic. A couple of months before this visit, I travelled to Belfast, primarily with the sole intention of visiting Titanic Belfast, a splendid new, purpose built museum opened in 2012, on the 100th anniversary of the sinking. What I did not know was that on the same day a completely re-vamped and relocated Southampton Maritime Museum reopened as the appropriately named SeaCity Museum. Oh dear, not another RICHADA “Titanorac” review please…… ……well, no, not really as, like the Mersyside Maritime Museum, SeaCity has a rather broader scope, Southampton proving to have a more enduring link to ocean going travel than the legendary Titanic that merely departed from it in April 1912. Incidentally, if you are wondering about the Liverpool connection, Titanic was registered there, Oceanic House (now a hotel) being the headquarters of the White Star Line. “Merely departed from Southampton”? I have to issue an immediate apology now to the hundreds of Southampton families directly affected by the ...

Titanic Memorial Garden, Belfast 13/04/2016

BELFAST REMEMBERS - TITANIC

Titanic Memorial Garden, Belfast THERE ARE SOME WHO WILL NEVER FEATURE IN A TITANIC MEMORIAL The Titanic story is the stuff of legend and I am sure that you do not require me to fill you in on the whole story here, so I will keep the history lesson brief, however, without it, the “attraction” that is the feature of this review would simply not exist, at least, not here in Belfast. The original concept for three sister ships, the largest ships then afloat originated at a dinner in London in 1907. That dinner took place at the London home of Lord and Lady James Pirrie, Downshire House, in Belgravia – now Spain’s London Embassy. Pirrie was an owning partner in Belfast’s Harland and Wolff Shipyard, his guest that evening was J Bruce Ismay, managing director of one of the world’s foremost shipping lines – The White Star Line. Such were the times that these two men must have considered themselves virtual masters of the universe, how the mighty were to fall – particularly in Ismay’s case. Less than two years later, on 31st March 1909, the keel plate of the second of the three sister ships, Titanic, was laid, starting a three year construction process that would see this, in 1912, the largest ship afloat, depart Belfast on 2nd April. The pride of the shipyard workers seeing their 52,310 ton, 890 foot long creation steam down Belfast Lough and out into the Irish Sea must have been palpable. They had every expectation of their ship returning, after all, its sister Ship, Olympic had already visited Belfast in 1912 ...

Everything that starts with U ... 06/03/2016

U* MAY WELL ASK WHY......

Everything that starts with U ... ......RICHADA HAS BEEN AN ABSENT CIAO MEMBER OF LATE *With profuse apologies for the awful textspeak title there – I am not about to make a habit of it here on Ciao - these A to B categories test my headline writing skills to the limit unfortunately. Whilst at it, I must also apologise to a small handful of amazingly patient and supportive Guest Book friends here who will be familiar with some of this, but we all have to thank Simon (sirodar) for inspiring this review by asking “how could that possibly all happen in one day?”...... ......Well, it did, but there was a lot of back story leading up to 3rd March 2016. Apologies also then if you do not enjoy reading long RICHADA reviews because I have a feeling that this may be something of a blockbuster! WARNING! The following review contains descriptions of RICHADA under extreme pressure and in highly stressful situations; it may therefore contain some mildly offensive language. If you are of a nervous disposition I suggest not reading on – alternatively continue to do so and, hopefully, have a damned good laugh at my expense! ARE YOU SITTING COMFORTABLY? ......Then I will begin...... ......on the Wednesday before Christmas (16.12.15) and I am stranded, on my own, just north of Northampton on the M1, I had a horrible gut feeling when the engine on my superb seven year old, 96,000 mile, Subaru just cut out at 72mph in the outside lane that it would be the last time that I would drive my favourite car. There was no bang, ...

The Garage Door Company 13/02/2016

THE OPEN AND SHUT CASE

The Garage Door Company THE PROBLEM – RICHADA’S EXPANDING GIRTH In 2001, when choosing our new home, I had a requirement list set in stone as far as the facilities were concerned, one that any place we were to call home, would have at least one, decent sized, garage. As estate agents often are, ours was cagy whilst at the same time “bigging up” the property: “yes the bungalow has a garage, no I don’t have dimensions for it but the seller has a BMW, a “big one” which he garages religiously”. It turned out his car was a 3 Series, then bottom of the BMW range – I had an Omega, right at the top of the Vauxhall range. Until the first day that we arrived here I still was not sure if the car would fit the garage…… ……it did, just, the up and over door kissing the rear bumper as it clicked shut. I christened our garage ‘The Omega House’, indeed I still, twelve years after the Omega went, think of it that way. You could not pass a cigarette packet between the door and the Omega’s bumper, in terms of width though, there was no problem opening either passenger or driver’s door and getting out. In 2004 the Omega gave way to a Honda Accord, which, in turn was replaced by a Subaru Legacy in 2008, both of the Japanese cars were smaller than the Omega and allowed enough space not only to get out of the car but to walk around the back, open the boot even…… ……Following the demise of my Subaru the week before Christmas, it took a month for me to obtain a replacement; enter on the scene one Volvo XC60, ...

Subaru Legacy 2.0 TD 21/01/2016

WHY WAS OURS THE ONLY ONE IN EUROPE?

Subaru Legacy 2.0 TD PLEASE NOTE: that the car shown in the Ciao picture is NOT a 2.0 Diesel version of the Legacy, but a 3.0 litre R Spec B. The Diesel has a very distinctive bonnet mounted air intake, different wheels and a completely different front bumper. Please refer to my own photographs for identification purposes. ** IMPORTANT WARNING – January 2016 If you are thinking of purchasing ANY diesel engine Subaru, manufactured between early 2008 and late 2010, it is VITALLY IMPORTANT to ensure that the engine has been replaced with the later Euro V compliant version of the Boxer Diesel. If it has not, do not entertain the idea of purchasing the car – ALL of these engines fail between 85,000 and 105,000 miles due to the failure of the crankshaft – the second hand value of these, now, eight to ten year old cars is so low that an engine replacement - £11,000 at an authorised Subaru dealer, £6,000 for a “grey import”, is simply uneconomical to carry out. With a new, £11,000 replacement engine, my car was valued at £3,250 trade in value, £4,250 from a garage forecourt. Indeed, supporting this, I found one, a year newer than mine for sale at £2995 on the Autotrader site - that from a second hand car dealer. Since the engine seized at 70mph on the M1 on 15th December, my wife and I have done considerable research into Boxer Diesel engine failures, it was my intention to put this car back on the road – economically it turned out to be totally unrealistic to do so. All across Europe you will find ...

The Museum of the Miltary Ordinariate, Warsaw 04/01/2016

OPEN YOUR MIND TO THE MUSEUM OF THE MILITARY ORDINARIATE

The Museum of the Miltary Ordinariate, Warsaw Now, if you are anything like me, a child of the 60’s of middle class upbringing, I would lay money on you having been brought up with the mantra drummed into you that ‘we don’t talk about politics or religion’. From the age of about sixteen I was, amongst my peers, relatively politically aware, whilst not having particularly strong views either way, politics was a subject that yes, on occasion, was raised in conversation by myself. Having confessed to this sin, I guess I can go on to boast a 50% success rate in that religion, having been drummed out of me at boarding school, due to circumstances totally irrelevant here, was a subject that simply did not enter into my everyday life, and therefore conversation, for over twenty years after leaving school. Religion, as a subject of discussion, rather than faith, re-entered my life at the age of 38 when I first met my Polish wife, I rapidly learned far more about all religions than I had previously known. If the tone of this is starting to make you feel uncomfortable, please put the thoughts that you may now be having out of your head, the subject of this review is of far more general interest than I could ever have believed possible and, in a very important and graphic way opened my mind to just how important, ultimately, faith is to those who believe. Poland is a staunchly Catholic country, 98% of the population are Catholic and the vast majority of them are still practicing. A touchy subject with the church perhaps, but ...

Everything that starts with P ... 22/12/2015

P Is for Sweet PARTING

Everything that starts with P ... P FOR PREAMBLE Having thought that I had, many years ago, run out of A to Z categories to use here in the Ciao Café, the letter P after much searching has PROVEN me wrong – and here I am, once again bringing you a ‘from the coalface’ review of ordinary, well, maybe not, life at RICHADA Enterprises. Being so very long ago since I last wrote on the subject, a brief refresher for those not familiar with my circumstances, a background for those fresh to this type of “review” from me. I am a member of the third generation of family management in a small engineering business founded by my late, great, Great Uncle Bill – a man who, through these pages became legend here on Ciao some years ago. Indeed, this is an auspicious time to write this review as dear old Bill, with his business partner, Graham, founded the business in 1940. Yes, in July we celebrated the 75th anniversary of his founding RICHADA Enterprises. Over those 75 years the Company has very much remained a family business with the workforce very much being seen as an extension of the family. There are currently five of Bill’s descendants employed by the business, in turn we have no fewer than three father and son teams (not including our family members) working on our shop floor, one of those teams also have a cousin alongside them too, we also have an uncle and nephew – truly, in more ways than one then, this is a family business. Without going too deeply here into the politics of family businesses everywhere, ...

Ciao Competitions 04/12/2015

THE FRAUDSTER AND SPAMMERS DREAM COME TRUE

Ciao Competitions RICHADA AND THE CIAO COMPETITION Those who know me well, or even have only spent a few months here on Ciao will be aware that I do not take part in Competitions, Products of The Week or the Raffles either. There is one glaring exception on my part to that; the VAG scandal, a subject that I would have waded into even had it been an unpaid one. VALUING THE INTEGRITY OF CIAO – A CONSUMER REVIEW SITE I am a slightly unusual Ciao member (there are a couple of others that I can think of) in having never done what I do here for cash. I do it due to a love writing, hoping to inform, educate or even entertain, and yes, after all these years, there is still an element of vanity too! Having said all of that, I do pride myself in that whatever I publish has been as thoroughly researched as is possible, is based on sufficient experience to allow me to write a review that I myself, if reading it, would find offered all the information required in order to make – or at least assist – in the making of that vital purchasing decision. Perversely, I am not a member who actively bangs the “ownership drum”. I understand that there are many products that you need to own and experience over a period of time, but I would, having written several dozen car reviews – on cars that I do not actually own, feel hypocritical in criticising fellow reviewers who maybe review a mouse, computer or toilet roll actually paid for by their employers for example…… ……With rates and comments I will come down ...

The Victoria Hotel, Oldham 27/11/2015

SAY HELLO TO BOB - HE ADDED A STAR TO THE RATING!

The Victoria Hotel, Oldham WHY DID WE BOOK THE VICTORIA HOTEL IN OLDHAM? Quite simply because it is – and always was – superbly situated for my specific business purposes. I guess I had better let you into a little secret here, shhhh, please do not tell Ciao, but I reviewed this hotel some years ago. We stopped staying there due to the standards, at the Bower as it was then called under the ownership of Swallow Hotels, dropping to a level that we could simply no longer tolerate – even at the £19 I once paid for a night there in 2009! It has been in new ownership for around eighteen months and I was rather keen to revisit, especially as there is no hotel better located for my business calls at this time of year. I have now posted a link in that, redundant, review to this one. With less than good memories lingering of the place, I was only prepared to risk one night – the Sunday, which would allow an early start on a full day’s work on Monday morning. As it was, we arrived there at about 6.00pm after a very early start from home, arriving in Liverpool at 10.10 and having a late lunch in Stockport at 3.30 on the way to Oldham. HOTEL DESCRIPTION / OUR PERCEPTION FROM HOTEL PUBLICITY This is oh so hard, we had stayed at the Victoria – nee Bower – probably six times in the past between 2004 and 2009. It was a business hotel which had very obviously seen better days, each year it was increasingly neglected. Last year it popped up on booking.com, I could hardly believe my eyes, there were no exterior ...

Swallow Bower Hotel, Oldham, England 27/11/2015

"YOU'LL NOT LIKE THIS VIEW Mr R!".....TWO YEARS LATER AND.....

Swallow Bower Hotel, Oldham, England Three years further later.......PLEASE NOTE: The Swallow Bower Hotel has now been re-branded as the Victoria Hotel and is no longer part of the Swallow Group. From photographs on the webside it would appear that the "front of house" has seen major alterations. We have not returned since 2009, but would be keen to hear from anyone who has since the re-branding. To save you further reading this, here is a link to my review of The Victoria as this hotel now is. The following link makes this review redundant: http://travel.ciao.co.uk/TheVictoriaHotelOldhamReview6164276 (Two years later and......)......IT'S NOT ONLY THE VIEW THAT WE ARE NOT LIKING! Sometimes one feels that returning to favoured places, hotels in this case, may prove to be a mistake - but if, in having published a glowing review, I am urging you to stay there, then the very least I can do is to follow my own advice and use it...... ......use it at least until I can no longer recommend it and no longer choose to use it myself, as, sadly, has become the case here. 2009 has been a year of some considerable hardship to the majority of us, both in business, and as a result, personally too more often than not. Many industries are having a very tough time of it and in the very specific case of the formerly more than acceptable Bower Hotel, it appears that every cost has been cut in order to survive; the trouble is that you can cut costs to the point where your business will fail anyway, in the case of a hotel, ...

Belfast in general 13/11/2015

BELFAST - FROM MR ANDREWS TO THE ZOO

Belfast in general WHERE IN THE WORLD? Back in Belfast, Northern Ireland for this one, just a short hour and five minute hop from Gatwick Airport to George Best City Airport, then a ten minute taxi ride to the city centre or any of the many hotels. Indeed, not much more than an hour by air from any UK airport, Belfast is more easily accessible than you would think. THE BIG PICTURE….. …..in spite of the length of this review, isn’t really all that big at all, as Belfast is a surprisingly compact city, especially the city centre which is a very easy place to orientate on foot. It is unusually well signposted too and sectioned, in the modern way, into “Quarters”, however, even as a first time visitor I found it an instinctively easy city to explore and never once found myself lost. It is also a comfortably flat city so not a tiring place to explore – unless you seek an invigorating uphill hike and wish to visit the Zoo and Cave Hill on foot, that will have taken you well out of the city, but does provide superb views of it, as well as Belfast Lough, from above. This is a location that will give you the biggest picture of Belfast possible and, while you are up there, do take a look at Belfast Castle, open to the public and a dreamy location for a wedding. Scottish Baronial in style, the Castle was built in the prominent position in the late 1860’s by a local architect and builders at the behest of the Third Marquis of Donegall. The city centre is really quite grand, as Victorian “power house” ...
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