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And now the long haul to Gold is on!

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since 28/03/2014


Members Advice on Autism 20/08/2017

Normal is as normal does.

Members Advice on Autism The following review tells the story of my own journey in to the world of autism, which I hope you find useful and interesting in some small way. Growing up at school, I was always seen as being a bit of a loner – I had very few friends; I suffered with a really bad stammer, and I just kept my head down and tried my best to study and get some fairly decent grades. I wasn’t very much in to sport, or even not even very good at it when I put some form of effort in – apart from swimming and surfing, which was something that I knew that I could do in my own time and at my own pace. Dates; facts, and in fact anything technical in terms of maps and similar things always fascinated me – I could also pick something up and start doing it almost instantly, including learning to use a computer (or laptop or any other electrical piece of equipment that is used in day to day life) and even driving a car (which is good in the job that I am currently doing!). However, there were certain things that would always throw me rather much off course in my life – I like to know how and when things are going to happen (or at least have a general idea of how the day will pan out), although this is something that in recent weeks or months I have learnt to adapt to a little as my current job is one whereby anything could happen once the initial plans have been made (but with the changes actually being nothing to do directly with me as such). I also need to have fairly clear instructions laid out ...

Mercedes Vito 111 CDI 18/08/2017

I never realised Mercedes made vans too!

Mercedes Vito 111 CDI Following on in my more recent run of reviews on vehicles that I have had the privilege or pleasure of using and abusing during the course if my daily working life, I would just like to carry on with this in writing a review on the van known only as the Mercedes Vito 111 CDI. It has to be noted from the outset however that this is the van model that I am reviewing, and is not to be confused with the Viano which is the people carrier version of it - the main difference of course being that in the Vito the only seats are the three that are to be found in the drivers cab (one for the driver and two for the passengers), with the Viano being of course one with at least two further rows of seats behind the front ones. Coming with a 1.6 litre diesel engine with six forward gears (some only have five or have automatic gearboxes), this particular brand is one that is in the same league as the Ford Transit; Vauxhall Vivaro, and the perhaps slightly less publicised Renault Trafic. Sizewise they are all pretty much the same size inside and out, however the Vito does have the added advantage of not only having the luxury of a Mercedes badge on it but it is also much more comfortable - both in terms of when sitting in the cab whilst driving, and also in terms of the way in which it handles the road. With an average fuel consumption of 34.9 miles per gallon, the tank can hold up to 75 litres - which at today's prices, can be about £65 - £70 give or take a pound or two. I have found this ...

Old Station Yard, Cullompton 10/08/2017

Good for a quick stop,but not much else.

Old Station Yard, Cullompton Having travelled up and down the M5 on a number of occasions either for work purposes or to go further afield to visit family, we are often making use of the various motorway service stations that are on route. Normally going for the larger ones at Bristol or Taunton there was on one occasion when we missed them, and ended up at the Old Station Yard - or as is more commonly known in local circles as Cullompton Services. And unlike most other services that are only accessed from one direction of the carriageway (with quite often there being services found on both sides of the carriageway as you travel in one direction or another), this particular one is slightly more different - inasmuch as although it is only really signposted more properly from the northbound carriageway as you are travelling away from Exeter towards Bristol at Junction 28, you can in fact access it from the southbound carriageway too as the service area is to be found off the main roundabout that services the junction. But with its position on an area of old reclaimed land on the main Bristol to Exeter railway line, this did in fact used to be an old station yard - hence its name. And this with its position right next to the main motorway, it is not as big as one would expect from other motorway service stations - but it is in fact almost more of a quick top shop than somewhere you could relax for rather more longer. Owned by Extra MSA, this particular company also run a further eight or nine sites ...

TomTom Start 52 08/08/2017

Please do tell me where to go!

TomTom Start 52 In line with some of my more recent reviews on cars that I have driven, I would just like to write a review on something that has helped me whilst driving some of those cars - this being a satellite navigational system known in this instance as the TomTom Start 52. A fellow work colleague of mine actually sold me his after he left for £20 because we got on well and he wanted to see me do well, even though he said it cost him over £100 last year through the Halfords website - anyone else he said he would have charged a lot more, but as we got on well he was happy to offload it to me for a lower price! With a five inch screen from bottom left hand corner to top right hand corner, it came with an extra device to attach it to the windscreen of the car; a USB cable and car charger, and the relevant documentation to it including some of the sites to go on to seek extra advice or support. It came with a guide of having a one hour battery life when being used, however this is without the car charger being put in to use - this is something that links in to the cigarette charger or equivalent, and thus allows you to use the item for however long you need to use it for. Upon turning the device on, I find that I am presented with a number of options - including a system update device; the option to start a new journey, or the option to upload a previous journey that I have already done (the latter is useful if I know that I am returning to the same address to deliver a car if I am ...

KIA Optima 2.0 MPI (2011) 06/08/2017

The best ride I have had in years!

KIA Optima 2.0 MPI (2011) In true style to my latest run of reviews on cars that I have been having the privilege of driving recently, my most latest offering is that of the Kia Optima. It is of course as the name would suggest made by the Kia motor company, thus making it a Korean export. With its Korean name deriving from the characters used by their language meaning 'to come out of the east' or thereabouts, Kia is now a part of the much larger Hyundai motor company (although the two do still trade under separate names). The Optima was first unveiled in 2000 with production properly starting in 2001 and with production on the vehicle still being in process to this day, it took over from the Credos in the Kia stakes. Originally only being manufactured as a saloon style car, it has since 2011 also been made available as an estate version - the one in fact which is being reviewed here today. Coming with a six gear manual transmission generally (there is also a five gear automatic model that is also on sale), fuel tank capacity averages just under seventy litres with the average MPG usage on motorways being about 34 (with other styles of roads differing according to driving style; weather conditions, and so on). With the overall length and size of the car being not too dissimilar to the Astra estate in my mind, I was a little concerned when first getting in to it as I am a little on the shorter side in comparison to some of my work colleagues. And on sitting in the driving seat what also confused me ...

Peugeot 208 1.2 VTi 05/08/2017

One star will have to do...

Peugeot 208 1.2 VTi Having personally owned a Peugeot or two of my own in the past and being more than a happy camper whenever I have driven one, I am always keen to get my hands on another one to drive - hence I jumped at the chance in my current employment when I first got the opportunity to drive one, but was almost instantly bitterly disappointed. Needless to say that from now on, I am glad that I only have to drive this particular model of Peugeot about once or twice a week at best as I have to wonder just how they could make such a naff car. Being marketed as a supermini, it was first introduced to the unsuspecting car buying community in March 2012 as a three door model with the five door offering being made available from June of that same year. Roughly designed to take over from the 207 which ceased being made in 2014, the 208 is lighter in weight by about 170 kg - yet offers more space overall than it, a boot space of 285 litres (which is fifteen litres greater than the 207) and five centimetres more leg room for those who are sitting in the back seats. However to look at the car from the outside one would dispute this, and even on sitting inside the car and driving it do you really get the feeling that it is a lot more cramped. In comparison to many of the other cars of a similar size that have been made both by Peugeot and other car makers, this one feels as though you are almost sitting on the floor - with a front driving seat that tries to think it is in a much larger car, as ...

Ford Transit Connect 03/08/2017


Ford Transit Connect The company that I now currently work for is a vehicle rental company, and although the majority of what we rent out are cars we do quite often also rent out vans or minibuses that can vary in size - and the Ford Transit Connect is one of them. Marketed as a compact panel van (also known as a 'car derived van), it is a van that is smaller version of its larger counterpart with rear side windows (and often with no rear windows on the very rear of the vehicle either). It is one that has actually been based on the Ford Focus, and its overall size is that of a large car that is not a people carrier - if that makes sense! The van is made up of the driver's cab with one or two further passenger seats, and the rear luggage compartment that is accessed by one sliding side door and two rear doors that open out in the same way that the ones on larger vans or minibuses also do. It has a pretty bulk standard layout in the driving cab, with the gear lever being mounted on the front of the dashboard in front of the radio; the radio is also fairly common of the older style vehicles inasmuch as they are the more than usual bulk standard on/ off switch and tuner to get to whatever station it is that you are after. Generally speaking there is no satellite navigation built in, however on many of the models that I have driven there is a cigarette point which allows you to connect a portable one up to it. In terms of comfort there really isn't any comfort in this particular van, not like you ...

Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 CDTi Hatchback 30/07/2017

Sleek and stylish, just like me!

Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 CDTi Hatchback Carrying on with my series on those cars that I am currently privileged to be driving, my latest offering on this subject matter is of course the Vauxhall Insignia – and the 2.0 litre version in this instance. The Insignia first starting to be produced back in 2008 through Vauxhall’s sister company in Germany – Opel, and is the replacement car for the Vectra and the Signum. Being manufactured mainly as both a hatchback and an estate version, for the purposes of this particular review I shall be looking at the hatchback version (although vital statistics may not differ drastically between either one of the models). With it being at the larger end of hatchback cars that I have driven, you do certainly notice how big it is once you sit inside it to drive the vehicle. And what doesn’t help for those people who like me are slightly more on the shorter or smaller side of life, is that both the bonnet and the rear ends of the car would appear to slope away from view – thus limiting what you are able to see when attempting to manoeuvre the car in a more limited space environment, although there are course parking sensors and cameras in many of the more recent models. The models that I have had the enjoyment of driving have all had six forward gears (with the usual one reverse gear), and the handbreak has been the push button style as opposed to the older stick grab affair that all of the older cars have. All of the controls are fairly universal inasmuch as you have the indicator ...

Fiat 500l 28/07/2017

Flipping Fiat 500l!

Fiat 500l Having started in a new role a number of weeks ago whereby I get to drive a wide variety of cars and other hire vehicles by way of delivering them to or collecting them from a wide client base, one car that I have had the misfortune to drive on a number of occasions is the Fiat 500l. The car is one of a number of models made by Fiat in the 500 series, with this one being the mid range version of it - there is the smaller 'bubble car' version that was originally devised back in 1957 with its counterpart making a comeback in 2007; this particular model from 2012, and a slightly larger 7 seater version being manufactured in 2013. However for your information, the current model has been somewhat reworked for the 2018 offering - but the purpose of this particular review is the current model. The letter L at the end of the name denotes the fact that it is a larger model than the normal 500 car, and this is seen right away in the fact that this particular model looks a lot bigger overall - it has a sturdier and bulkier frame, and has five doors (including the boot). Although it is available in both manual and automatic transmission, the ones that I have driven have all been manual transmission with six forward gears and one reverse gear. Coming in both petrol and diesel, the engine sizes range from 0.9 to 1.6 - and having driven a variety of petrol styles and sizes, I have to say that regardless of the specifications the car brand overall is a very poor performer on any type ...

Autism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) - Uta Frith 23/07/2017

A good basis for understanding.

Autism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) - Uta Frith There are a group of books that come under the more general title of Very Short Introductions, and are books that have been written about quite academic type subjects by experts in their own rights in those fields - but in such a way that they don't come over as too academic or unintelligible, meaning that they are aimed at as wide an audience as possible. Published through the Oxford University Press disguise, the first in the series came out in 1995 and now cover such areas as The Bible; The Koran; Marx; The French Revolution; Citizenship; Music; Schizophrenia, and even Shakespeare - and so as you can see, the wide range of topics is so vast and continues to be so even with more titles being added with Scotland and Free Speech being just two of them. The reason that one feels that this is something that appeals to so many people is because to my mind it is something that falls in between two forms of thinking - it is not a comic book because it has obviously been written by an expert, but although it is something that has been written by an expert is not too over the top. And by this I mean that because it is meant to be a 'short introduction' (if there ever can be such a thing!), all of the information that has been provided has been kept perhaps just a little bit more compact than if the topic matter to hand had been the subject of a much larger study guide or handbook. Yes the information may come across as perhaps being a little bit over the tops of heads for some ...

Cardiff Castle, Castell Caerdydd, Cardiff 19/07/2017

Bread of heaven!

Cardiff Castle, Castell Caerdydd, Cardiff Having visited Cardiff many a time over the last few years, it wouldn't be right to not visit the castle at least once or twice every couple of visits. Being situated right in the heart of the Welsh capital, it is easily accessible by all forms of transport both public and otherwise - there are numerous car parks within easy walking distances; many local bus services stop almost outside (or again within a short walking distance), and the coach and train stations are also within a good enough distance. Originally a Roman fort believed to have been established in about AD50, it was rebuilt quite considerably during and after the Norman conquest with many further additions or alterations being done over the years. Having been passed through the hands of many wealthy families, in the mid 1760's came under the ownership of the Bute family who have been very influential in Cardiff and the surrounding outlying areas for many generations. Gifted to the city of Cardiff at some point during the early to mid 1900's, it was home to the National College of Music and Drama - and has since 1974 been open to the public for them to visit it and to marvel at its splendour and immense variety of history. It is fairly obvious as to where the main entrance to the Castle actually is, and there is so much to see and do once you are in there. This ranges from taking a look along the wall of the Castle a lot of which is meant to be the original Roman offering; the Norman Keep with its fifty plus ...

Game of Life 18/07/2017

Life is like a box of chocolates.

Game of Life Coming from a family that enjoys playing games of any description including card games; board games or indeed any other sort of games, it was no surprise when as a young child seeing the Game of Life coming out at family parties - and in particular Christmas parties that were normally held on Boxing Day at the house of one family member or another. And even now when someone suggests us playing a board game in particular, it is quite often this one that first springs to mind. Originally being first on the scene all of the way back in 1860, the more modern version that is now the better well known game came about in 1960 in the USA. It is a game that is loosely based on one's journey through life, and of course it being an American invention holds on to the American way of thinking - thus, you travel from college to retirement (university in the UK) through gaining jobs and qualifications; marriage and relationships; babies, and things that life throws at you being all possibilities as you travel through life. How well you do in life in terms of monetary gains depends on which one out of the two possible starts in life that you take in the game, the first being a college diploma which gives you no real job prospects as you can't get in to university with it - or the second route, which allows you to become something successful such as a doctor or a teacher. Being played by between two and six people, the aim of the game is to make your way through life and end up being ...

Torbay (England) 16/07/2017

You won't find Fawlty Towers here!

Torbay (England) Without wishing to push any of my previous reviews, I have in fact written a number of reviews on the three towns that make up the more general conurbation of Torbay - therefore, this is going to be more of a general overview of the area rather than a more in depth analysis. Known as the English Riviera and perhaps most well known for Fawlty Towers, Torbay is to be found in south Devon on the coast surrounding the bay that gives it its name - that of course being Tor Bay (which is in fact two separate words as shown here but the name of the area is merged in to one word). It comprises three towns that have grown to merge the conurbation, which are the more tourist based towns of Paignton and Torquay and the more fishing based town of Brixham - although Paignton and Torquay are pretty much joined as one, Brixham is in fact separated by a mile or two of countryside although all three do come under the general term of Torbay. The area is accessed by the A380 dual carriageway which leaves the A38 Plymouth to Exeter road a couple of miles south of Exeter, which runs through the neighbouring town of Newton Abbot and through a newly built bypass at Kingskerswell before continuing on through the borough and then on to Dartmouth. There are also more minor roads that link Torbay to the A38 and beyond, as well as various coastal roads in the area. Torbay also has a branch line with a handful of stations in both Paignton and Torquay, with it joining the mainline at Newton Abbot. ... 14/07/2017

Another link in the chain? A few years ago when last looking for a job, I was advised by my then job advisor on joining the world of LinkedIn - something she said I could use to improve my chances of looking for work or making contacts, and then using the site to improve and build on different connections once in work. But not that it actually did anything for me as such as we shall soon see, as I have found all of my jobs in recent years through other ways or means. LinkedIn is a social media site on the internet, and it has been described to me on many an occasion as the more professional one out of the main three - Facebook being more of the social side of social media; Twitter as a mix of professional and social, and LinkedIn as more of the professional one whereby people would perhaps more contacts from a business type point of view in a more professional way than the others that I have already mentioned. My own personal usage of it has been on the whole to do what was advised of me in the first place, that is to find work - although potential employment is not advertised on here as one would be able to find it perhaps more freely in other places, although I have had almost as many links to potential jobs sent to me through here as I have had in other places too. It is completely free to sign up to LinkedIn, although there is a small area that requires you to sign up to a Premium Service if you wish to use this - this is around £23 a month, and all it lets you do is to fully see who has been ...

The Witches (DVD) 11/07/2017

Think twice about the sweet little old lady who lives next door!

The Witches (DVD) The Witches is a book written by Roald Dahl, which was then turned in to a DVD version which is of course the subject of this review. Being made in 1990, it is classed by standards of the day as a dark fantasy horror film - although it is of course still for children, and so therefore was rated as PG. Its plotline follows the story of a young boy who gets sent to live with his grandmother following the death of his parents in a car crash, who begins telling him fairy stories about witches and how they turn children in to mice as they despise them so much by putting a special lotion in to things they know they will like. According to her, witches are on the outside sweet little old ladies who try and trick children with their promise of some of their favourite things - sweets and so on. But underneath their outer masks are bald headed female creatures with no toes and long finger nails, who think that children smell - but they only smell when they are really clean and bath or shower every day. He of course doesn't believe her as such, but he does still enjoy listening to the stories that she makes up. However after being taken ill, she decides on the advice of the doctor to take her grandson away to the seaside - but lo and behold, there is an annual witches conference in the hotel that they go and stay at. And sure enough after a short time he gets found out by the witches who force him to be turned in to a mouse, but after raising his grandmothers' awareness they turn ...
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