20 November 2013

Are you human?

Yes I am, and that is why I find this virtually impossible!

I understand why some websites use 'captcha' devices in order to ensure that it's a real person entering their details, and not some automated process but, seriously, how can anyone be expected to read these?

Oh, and before anyone suggests it, I've tried doing the audio versions and there are equally unintelligible.

17 November 2013

Sunday shopping

Sunday shopping hours are an outdated, annoying pain in the posterior.

Surely, in this modern, multicultural and increasingly secular world, there is no need to restrict shop opening times to six hours?

This morning, I checked the Boots website to find their opening times. Seeing that it was listed as 10:30, I planned my morning round the 10 mile round trip to purchase one single item, which I really need to have this morning and which only Boots sell.

I arrived just after 10:30, picked up the item and went to the till, only to be told that the till doesn't open until 11:00.  Apparently they open the doors half an hour early in order to allow people to browse. Pardon? Who the hell spends half an hour browsing in a chemists? Really?

So, I decided to stay here for the half hour's wait and rant instead.

10 November 2013

The day after Halloween is...

the day that the cheesy Christmas adverts begin.  HELLO?  It's the beginning of November!  Christmas is 7 weeks away, almost two months.  Stop your unashamed, money-grabbing commercialism and pack it in!  I'm sick of it already, this constant bombardment of sweet, sickly, mushy sentimentalism.

Christmas is great, but please can we have it at the end of December, and not now?  I think that some of the TV adverts are going to make me barf.


01 November 2013

Just give me the bill!

Why does Vodafone have to make it so damn difficult to download a PDF of the full phone bill?  I don't want the 'quick breakdown' or the 'breakdown by product' or the 'vat summary', I just what the whole bill, with the summary on the front page, followed by the breakdown and then the itemisation.  I know they do it, because I've downloaded them in the past, but every month I have to spend ages on their website faffing around trying to find out where to get it, because it's not in a logical place. 

Even when you do eventually find it (which I haven't yet, this morning) it has a laborious and tortuous way of getting to it.  Why can't there just be a single link on the first page which says 'Open your bill in PDF'?  I can do that on all the other utility sites I have to visit.  Grrrrr.   The interface on the user accounts is awful and it wastes far too much of my time.  I have better things to do than spend 20 minutes looking for something which doesn't always appear to be there.  For now, I give up.  Maybe I will try again tomorrow.

Vodafone, get your act together and simplify your website, please.

30 October 2013

Reduced, but I still won't buy it

You know how it is when you're skint.  You go to the shop and head straight for the 'reduced' section to see if there's anything worth having.  You'll know from my previous rants that I usually find that the stuff in the 'reduced' section is the sort of stuff I wouldn't have for free, let alone at a reduced price.  I mean, what kind of person is too incompetent/lazy that they have to buy egg mayonnaise to put in sandwiches?  OK, stop.  Enough of that, I'll just go off on one again.

Anyway, I have discovered yet another major annoyance of the 'reduced' shelf.  Why do the store assistants insist on sticking the new price label right over the 'allergy information' section?  If I can't check that it hasn't got wheat or tomatoes in it, I'm definitely not going to buy it, even if it does look OK to the eye.  Stop it!  Please?

In the extremely unlikely event of any supermarket bosses reading this, please could you train your staff to be allergy aware and realise that some people do actually need to read this information, so don't cover it up.  Thankyouverymuch.

23 June 2013

Give me back my analogue TV!

"Digital TV will be so much better than analogue", they said.  
"Don't worry about the pixellation in bad weather", they said, "the signal will be boosted once analogue is switched off."

Oh yeah?  So why is the digital signal still crap?  It's windy and raining outside (i.e. a typical British summer) and the TV picture is completely screwed.  With analogue, you'd get a bit of snow, but could carry on watching.  Now, both the sound and picture keep bugging out and make things almost impossible to watch.  They call it the 'Digital Cliff' and it's bloody annoying.  Our analogue service was switched off at the end of 2009, so when is this supposed signal boost going to take place?

Before anyone says it, no I don't need another aerial or TV.  There's nothing wrong with the ones I have.  It's just the stupid crappy digital service.   I want my analogue back.

21 June 2013

Nothing to see here, move along

Nothing to rant about.  Current mood: very happy :)

06 May 2013

New tent review

A couple of years ago I bought a new tent, a Khyam Sherpa:

The Sherpa is a reasonable size for a single person, despite being billed as a 3-man tent, but then they always seem to assume that people are happy to squash in like sardines and don't have any luggage.  However, I have to say that it is possibly the worst tent I have ever owned.  Despite my best efforts, and the efforts of several friends, I have never managed to get this tent to go up without some difficulty and, once erect, it has never been 'square'.  It always seemed to bulge out to one side and no amount of adjustment would put it right.  I have broken four poles on it, and the inner tent ripped on the very first use.  I am convinced that the poles are actually too long, as one needs the strength of Geoff Capes to get the blasted things into their respective holes.   Indeed, after a few pole breakages, a friend replaced the broken sections and made them an inch shorter, which did help quite a bit, but I am still very unhappy with the tent.  The doors are a stupid design, a pain to negotiate and if it's been raining, as soon as you open a door, a sheet of water pours into the porch.  It also leaks at the bedroom end.  When unzipping the bedroom door in the morning, condensation drips into the bedroom and all over your dossbag.  I keep the Sherpa in a holdall, because its original bag split the very first time I used it.

Anyway, with a new rally season upon us, I decided that I'd had enough of fighting with the Sherpa, and bought myself a new tent, a Vango Omega 350.  

The Omega's pack size is much smaller and lighter than the Sherpa and I can get the Omega into my topbox, which means that if, necessary, I could carry a pillion to a rally, although I have no plans to make a habit of that.

I used the Omega for the first time this weekend and it was superb.  It was quick and easy to erect and the lightweight alloy poles are so much better than the fibreglass ones.  Despite the smaller pack size, the tent is much bigger, being taller, wider and longer.  The pole sections are shorter than with most tents, which is why the pack size is smaller.  The tent comes with a 'bucket' groundsheet which clips into the porch so that it doesn't slide around.  If there's one thing I don't like about it though, the groundsheet clips are so strong that I couldn't get them undone again.  Three of my friends had a go at it and only one of them could undo them, and he hurt his thumbs doing so.  I intend to put some mini carabiners on instead, so that I have a fighting chance of removing them myself.

The O-shaped bedroom door is a great design.  It can be unzipped from the top or the bottom, which makes me happy; I like to unzip it from the top, but I couldn't do that in the Sherpa, because the zip only worked from the bottom.

Although it rained during the night, the inside of the tent remained as dry as a bone, both bedroom and porch.  There's lots of pockets down either side of the inner tent, big enough to hold my torch and other bits and bobs.  Other great features are the tension bands, which are designed to stop the tent bowing in high winds, the way that the bedroom door fits into a pocket to keep it out of the way when it's open and, best of all, the tent can be packed away with the inner tent still attached, making pitching quicker next time.

When it was time to put the tent down, I anticipated a battle to get it into the bag, yet it went in very easily.  Well, it did the second time I tried, once I removed my lantern from the bedroom.  Oops.

So, all in all, I love the Omega.  I hope to have many happy camping trips in it.  I should have bought a Vango in the first place; they've always had a superb reputation for quality and they are very good value for money. 

28 April 2013

Move over!

I don't know if it was the rain that was addling people's brains on the M61 at dinnertime today, but I passed no fewer than 9 cars in close convoy in the second lane, whilst the first lane was empty for miles.  Are they scared of the first lane?  Do they think that if they use it, they will somehow be magically transported to a parallel dimension?

I actually wonder if some of this second-lane-hogging could constitute 'driving without due care and attention', because at least two of them were on mobile phones, one had his finger so far up his nose that he could probably have scratched the back of his own eye, and another was gripping the steering wheel for grim death and staring straight ahead with a grimace that could frighten the devil himself.

25 April 2013

Dear road users...

This is a 'Give Way' sign.  What it means is 'Give Way', not 'put your foot down and drive straight at any vehicle coming the other way'. 

This is also a 'Give Way' sign. What it means is 'Give way to oncoming vehicles', just in case you can't tell from the words 'Give way to oncoming vehicles' written under the nice little picture.

Just in case you aren't aware, this is a sign 'giving an order'.  It is not a 'give way if you feel like it, but don't bother if you're in a hurry'; it is a legal requirement: Laws RTA 1988 sect 36 & TSRGD regs 10(1),16(1) & 25.  It's there to stop you crashing into people.

This also applies to drivers travelling through Chew Moor and Lostock, where driving standards seem to be particularly poor.  If your side of the road has parked cars on it and there isn't enough room for two cars to pass each other safely, don't just drive at the oncoming vehicles, giving their drivers dirty looks for having the audacity to have the right of way.  Wait ten seconds for the road to clear, and then go.

Where there's a 20mph speed limit, it's there for a reason, rather than to annoy you personally.  Obey it and stop tutting at those who do obey the law.  More so, don't overtake them in anger and then nearly run into an oncoming bus, like the idiot I saw last week.

27 February 2013

Straight from the horse's arse.

According to the news on the radio yesterday, the 'horsemeat' scandal has caused a 43% drop in the purchase of supermarket burgers.  Well that's hardly a surprise, is it? 

Giles Coren, writing in The Times, sums it up extremely well:

"What on earth did you think they put in them? Prime cuts of delicious free-range, organic, rare breed, heritage beef, grass-fed, Eton-educated, humanely slaughtered, dry-aged and hand-ground by fairies with a pinch of pink Murray River salt and a twist of black pepper?

"Jesus, no. At those prices (you pay only £1 at Tesco for a cheeseburger complete with bun, cheese and a portion of fries), I’d have thought a mouthful of Shergar is the least of your problems.

"Listen to the product name. When your first three words are “frozen”, “everyday” and “value”, that means almost by definition that the fourth word (in this case, randomly, “beef”) is to be taken with an armful of Maldon.


"It’s only 29 per cent horse, for God’s sake. What do you think the other 71 per cent is? It’s sure as hell not from a beef cow I would eat. Nor the bits of it you want to think about either. At that price, you’re into scrotum, eyelid, foreskin, lungs, mechanically reclaimed connective tissue ... the sort of scrapings from the abattoir floor that could only be improved by a nice bit of horse’s arse."

Tesco is now announcing that they will start to sell more British meat, rather than imported from abroad.  That makes me happy, not only because it will be supporting British farmers, but also because it will reduce the number of 'food miles', reducing the environmental impact.  I never did think it was sensible to transport animals and meat thousands of miles from abroad when there's plenty here in the UK already.  For some supermarkets, though, it's already too late.  The Vegetarian Society reports that it has had a massive increase in the number of 'hits' on its website, and omnivores are abandoning the supermarket meat shelves in favour of local butchers, where the butcher knows exactly where the meat has come from.  Hopefully, this will lead to a revival of our dying high streets.

For the past couple of decades, the general public has sleepwalked into a trance when it relates to shopping.  So many people just go to the supermarket and buy all of their produce there because that is what they have been trained to do.  Everything under one roof, convenience, free parking and supposedly cheap prices have duped people into forgetting that other shops exist, and all the while, the prices have slowly risen and most people have just accepted it.  

Not me.  I stopped shopping in supermarkets several years ago, because I realised that most of the food products they sold were just expensive rubbish.  On the very rare occasions I do go into my local supermarket, I usually have a look at the 'reduced' shelf, to see if there's anything worth having.  It's very rare that there is.  I look at some of the items there and think "That is a product I would NEVER buy; in fact I wouldn't even take it if it was being given away for free", for example the ready made burger-in-a-bun, to be heated in a microwave.  Even thinking about it now makes me feel nauseous. Why on earth anyone would want to buy ready-mashed potato in a plastic, film-covered tub, for heating in a microwave is beyond me.  It takes only 10 minutes to boil a potato and mash it yourself, for a fraction of the cost.  Just how lazy does one have to be?  Not only that, but you then chuck the plastic tub in the bin, which eventually (almost always) ends up in landfill.  You're wrecking the planet because you're bone idle, but that's a rant for another day.

Come on Britain.  Wake up!