One of those days

Grrrrrnnnnnnnnnneeeeeeeeeechhhh!

The sound of my back brakes every time I slowed or stopped. Even I, a mechanical dunce, knew something was wrong. So the Freelander got booked in to the garage and this morning they went to work. When I collected it this afternoon, I found that they’d had to replace the back discs (as the Grrrrrnnnnnnnnnneeeeeeeeeechhhh! was actually the sound of the brake pad bases lathing lovely symmetrical grooves in the surface of the discs). As an aside, the mechanic said I needed a new tyre as well.

Looking up tyre prices online, I found that it was highly recommended to replace all four tyres at the same time on any vehicle with full time 4 wheel drive. Something to do with the traction sensors not coping with the different diameters of worn and new tyres. Applying a bit of logic, I decided that as the rear tyres were fairly new and the front tyres were both worn (with one being right on the limit of legality and the other a tiny bit better), I’d replace both fronts and trust that the rear tyre diameter wouldn’t be that different. I guess I’d find out if the computers in the car suddenly crashed shortly before I did.

Funnily enough,  Grrrrrnnnnnnnnnneeeeeeeeeechhhh! was also the noise I made as I looked back on the receipts for all the work I’d had done today.

Unashamed Plug

You’ve read about my plans to climb Kilimanjaro in October. I’m doing it to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

Have a look at my Just Giving site for more information on how you can support and donate.

Thanks

Me and the Yeti

My walking companion in the Himalays

It is resolved

Happy new year.

I’m not one for new year’s resolutions. If I make any, I tend to be just setting myself up for a fall. So here are some of the resolutions I shall not be making this year.

1. Give up chocolate. For good. Yeah, right. If there is no chocolate in the house, then it’s easy. But if there is, then it shall be eaten. I’ve eaten some today. And the emergency rations I take with me on walks is usually chocolate coated, so I can’t give it up or I might die, weakened by intense hunger, on some lonely mountain top.

2. Do more exercise. I’m a member of the works gym. I should go more often, not because it’s January 1st, but because I’m paying a monthly fee to use the facilities and I’m currently only using them once a week – which makes it an expensive gym. But more exercise will mean I can go for longer walks, up higher hills and mountains and be reasonably fit should I decide to undertake another trek.

3. Take more photos. Well, last year I don’t know how many photos I took, but I kept 12,548 of them, which probably means 16-18,000 taken. I’ve been sifting through them recently, and ones from previous years (66,997 in total) to identify the best. It started out as something to do when the rain was too heavy to venture out, but became a project in itself. I’m just finishing 2011 now and I’ll be starting on 2012 later this week. If there was any resolution here, it should be to increase the number of good photos I take – so far from the total, I’ve identified only around 600 I would put forward as portfolio candidates. A hit rate of less than 1%. Not good at all.

One thing I will be trying to do this year is uploading a photograph taken every day for the year. Risky, I know, because if I miss a day I may not continue (that’s how my mind works) but an interesting exercise that I’ve seen loads of times before. I used to take part in an occasional ‘1-a-day’ project but it would only last 30 days at a time. Lets see how long this one lasts. Check out my Flickr account for the photos.

One thing I won’t do is post a blog a day. That would be too much for me, and as it would rapidly degenerate into even worse drivel than it is now, it would be torture for you. But Flickr will publicise the photos on here.

4. Save money. I took a big hit last year with the car and the work on the house. So I have to try and make some of that back. On the other hand, I no longer have to hold back a chunk of cash in case the house starts to fall down. Free capital. I guess if there’s anything to aim for this year, it’s using the money wisely and getting a good return – whether it be in interest or value.

5. Improve. Actually, I don;t have a problem with something like this. By improve, I mean get better at the things that interest me. So that’s photography, music and hill walking. Practice makes perfect, they say. So that’s what I’ll do.

Whatever you decide, whether it’s a set of strict rules and guidelines, a loose ‘enjoy myself” or anything in between, I hope your new year brings you what you want.

New Car pt 2:

If you read my earlier post, you might be wondering what car has caught my eye and will, hopefully, scratch the itch. Or you’ve stumbled on this because of the clever keywording and taging I’ve done and you thought it was a blog about deforestation in Bolivia. Or scantily clad women.

No such luck, I’m afraid. I’ve never been to Bolivia and I’ve never seen a scantily clad woman (ahem). My next car will almost certainly be …

… expensive. They always are. I start off with the perfectly logical and emotionless attitude that it’s only a metal box with some wheels and a lot of plastic and it’s only function is to transport me from A to B. Then, there is a period of revelation and enlightnement, usually when I’m thumbing through motoring magazines or jealously gazing at my friend’s car. I begin to realise that it’s more than an inanimate object. All my cars to date have had stories and memories attached to them; good and bad. And they have all called in to various places (C, D, E, F etc) on the way between A and B, as I believe in adventures and exploration.

I spend a lot of time in my car, so it has to be a pleasant place to be. It has to be comfortable, secure and I have to have a really good radio. It has to be a pleasure to drive over long and short distances. ‘m not particularly fussy over colour, as long as it isn’t a silly colour (like the pale pnk muscle car I saw the other day leaving work) or white.

Suddeny the cost starts rising. But I don’t drink or smoke and I usually like the simple things so this is one of my indulgences. I tend to plan in advance for the next car, so the money is saved up over a few years.

So here we are. The money is being gathered into a central pot as we speak. All those copper coins I’ve saved up over the years are being counted and carted off to the bank. My lottery winnings have been deployed.

It merely remains to finalise the choice of vehicle, which will come from a shortlist of two ot three. And you’ll be surprised to learn that they are all…