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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! ++ If you like this site and want it to survive, better yet, thrive, then read and rate. Otherwise carry on publishing, not reading and rating and it will die. R. ++

Reviews written

since 20/06/2004

304

The Meeting Place, Brighton 28/05/2016

OH WE DO LIKE TO BE BESIDE THE SEA SIDE!

The Meeting Place, Brighton WHERE IN THE WORLD? This time we are right here on the English south coast, in our home city of Brighton & Hove, a short, 55 minute train ride from Victoria Station in London. You are joining me, quite literally, at the sea-side for this one, any further south, without taking a walk on Brighton Pier, and you would be in the English Channel. WHY DID WE CHOOSE THE MEETING HOUSE CAFE IN BRIGHTON? At the top of Dyke Road Drive where it meets the A27 in Westdene is located the Hilltop Cafe, this is a lovely twenty minute walk from where we live, across green fields, and we have recently fallen into the habit of walking up there for breakfast on Sunday mornings. Brenda, the lovely lady who runs it, mentioned that the same owner has The Meeting House Cafe on the Brighton and Hove border; naturally we were curious to try it on a sunny day, last Sunday proved to be that day. We knew that we would not be eating rubbish as the basic ingredients used at the Hilltop Café are very good quality. LOCATION & ACCESSIBILITY: 13 / 15 The Meeting Place Cafe is ideally located on the Brighton and Hove border on the sea side of the Peace Statue, literally two steps from Brighton (or Hove) Beach and at the eastern extremity of Hove Lawns. The main A259 Sea Front, Kings Road, borders Hove Lawns and, if you are lucky, offers you somewhat expensive parking - £3.50 for an hour on Sunday morning when we were there. There are many buses using King’s Road, some travelling from as far away as ...

Volvo Polestar Performance Upgrade 21/05/2016

POLESTARED OR POLEAXED?

Volvo Polestar Performance Upgrade “THINK OF THE MOST UNLIKELY BRAND OF CAR THAT YOU COULD IMAGINE ME DRIVING…….” ……Was how I emailed an old friend of mine earlier in the week. Since buying a Volvo XC60 in mid-January, I have spent the last four months almost learning how to drive again. Let me explain….. …..After over seven years with a superb, but in many ways surprisingly conventional Subaru Legacy, the Volvo XC60 has proven more of a sea change than I expected. Yes, it is a very different car visually, but it is the driving characteristics and modern gadgets such as the electric handbrake that have taken the most adapting to. For a start, unlike most XC60’s on the road, and indeed my Subaru, my particular XC60 does not have four wheel drive. In order to save me a fortune in tax over the coming years it is an ultra-low CO2, front wheel drive, D4 R-Design model, in spite of its fancy diamond cut alloy wheels and rear air diffuser, it actually has far more “go than show” in the performance department. In Volvo’s slightly odd engine line up, in the XC60, the new VEA D4 unit is the bottom of the range, it is however destined to be the largest engine offered in Volvo’s car range as the brilliant, but, theoretically, less efficient, five cylinder diesel is phased out over the next few years. In the new S, V and XC90 models this four cylinder unit is available with as much as 225bhp and 470Nm torque, to achieve that it has two turbochargers. Volvo are now staking their entire engine future on a single four ...

Sony Xperia Z2 18/05/2016

SONY XPERIA Z2 - IT WORKS!

Sony Xperia Z2 GIVE ME AN I – “i”, GIVE ME A PHONE - “Phone”, WHAT HAVE YOU GOT? Er, actually, no I haven’t...... ......I do have though a SONY Z2, presented to me by my wife who knew just how much I hated my nearly new Nokia Windows phone. You could at this stage be thinking ‘why is RICHADA reviewing a now obsolete smartphone here?’ Well, they are still available new, as listed by Ciao underneath this review and I hope that I can, in non-tecchie terms, explain to you why, in light of experience with mine, I would buy one tomorrow, were my current phone to be in need of replacement. I am not someone given to carrying the latest technology “just because”, indeed, in matters technical, it has always been my policy to be a late adopter, letting others iron out the bugs in new devices of any type. Recommending a phone to you, this or any other, depends very much on your own requirements from such a device, so this review examines the Sony Z2 from my own personal point of view. RICHADA AND THE PHONE Whilst I always considered myself one of the least demanding mobile phone users that I know, I always had certain requirements of a phone that, due to the pressures of modern life, I am seemingly forced to carry around with me at all times. I was also extraordinarily late into carrying a mobile phone, a device that, in truth, I had happily lived without for almost forty years, and, in all honesty would probably to prefer to live without today! By nature, I guess that I am out of step with our ...

Boston Tea Party, Honiton 14/05/2016

BOSTON TEA PARTY - HONITON'S NEWEST EATERIE

Boston Tea Party, Honiton WHERE IN THE WORLD? There is a fair chance that most reading this will have heard of Honiton, famous for its lace making past, in Devon, whilst a fair few of you, if never having passed through or round it, may be rather vague as to where it is situated. I have known this attractive little town since I was about eight years old, making the annual summer pilgrimage, in August, to visit my late, Great Uncle Bill, who retired to Torbay. We drove through Honiton, seemingly, never stopping there...... ......forty years later and with my brother in law, his wife (and now) their baby, not to mention Lord Frederick Jack-Russell, living and working on a farm nearby, we have, over the last five years, visited Honiton fairly frequently. It is located at the junction where the main A35 road through southern Dorset meets the A30 which turns into the A303 to the north east; in turn to the south west you rapidly join the M5 just north of Exeter. In short, Honiton is at the centre of the East Devon road network and is the perfect stopping point on the way to Cornwall. WHY DID WE CHOOSE THE BOSTON TEA PARTY IN HONITON? Having rushed to get to an Easter Sunday Church service, we missed breakfast and, at 9.30, when the service finished (delightful lady vicar by the way), we had a very short walk up the High Street and discovered the Boston Tea Party. Thanks to its floor to ceiling front windows and extremely tempting looking open food counter, we were enticed in. Sadly, the many other ...

Pet Peeves 09/05/2016

AND FOR MY 300th REVIEW......

Pet Peeves RICHADA'S PET PEEVES I find it very hard to get peeved with pets, there are two reasons for this: 1) I love pets, they are great stress busters and, as such, we forgive them when they destroy the interior of our cars (yes YOU Freddie!) drop hairs all over our carpets, eat our slippers and sick-up on our, sorry their, favourite arm chair. 2) Apart from the goldfish in our pond, we do not have any pets to get peeved with...... ......So, I guess you will just have to put up with another RICHADA rant about his current annoyances in life, and, without going over too much old ground, 2016 has been an all-time vintage year for getting RICHADA wound up, and yes, it is only the last week of April as I write this – if the next eight months follow the first four, I will be lucky to get to Christmas this year let alone see in the New Year. For the benefit of those for whom this momentous statistic passed you by, I will point out that this is the three hundredth RICHADA Ciao review published since joining this site twelve years ago....... FROM PET PEEVES TO CIAO FLEAS – TRPSR* 1.7 *The RICHADA Peeved Scale Rating explained at foot of review. .......I would be curious to know just how many words that I have published here, not only combining the previous 299 reviews with this one, but also, and here’s the killer, all the words contained in my 46,146 comments on all of your reviews to date! Oh yes, I am nothing if not a commentator, and here, on my 300th review I lay claim to the ...

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 ...
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