The new Alpina B3 Touring

cars bmw estates
415 Words

It’s a funny time to be into cars. The rate of change is astonishing, they’re like mobile phones. You buy a car this week and by the next, lookout, there’s a better version available. You can see this through the window into the cabin with things like digital dashboards that are now pervasive, but it’s no less striking under the bonnet. We’ve killed diesel, downsized petrol, added at least one turbo to everything, resurrected diesel, gone to 48v, pre-spooled superchargers and seen all sorts of software hacks.

Five Alive. #3

five-alive listen
86 Words

This week, five tunes from this year(!) with the kind of beat and flow you were seeing 25 years ago. Ace. So many collabs going on at the moment, when I was putting this together it was tough to find something without Anderson .Paak on it. Hit play to hear DJ Shadow, De La Soul, Cordae, Dfonk, Smif n Wessun, Skyzoo, Pete Rock, Barney Artist and Anderson .Paak. Obvs. As ever you’ll need to be logged into Spotify to hear the full length at decent quality.

Replacing the badge on a VW Transporter T5.1

cars vw transporters
262 Words

Here’s how to replace the badge on the front of your T5.1, aka a Volkswagen Transporter built between 2010 and 2016. Don’t try to ‘just twist it off’. Despite what you might have read on forums, unless your current badge is fitted incorrectly this won’t work. You’ll break the badge, or the grille. If it were possible to twist your badge off a your local Beastie Boys fan would have already done that, so follow this guide to avoid breaking anything.

Five Alive. #2

five-alive listen
63 Words

This week a Beastie Boys theme. What’s surprising about this is that nothing off Pauls Boutique has made the cut, despite it being my fave Beasties creation. Please enjoy Brass Monkey, Sabotage, Get It Together, Units and 3 MCs and 1 DJ - The tune that got me listening to scratch DJs, my own turntables and my record collection. Till next time five-fans.

Five Alive. #1

five-alive listen
59 Words

A new series highlighting five tunes for your ears for right now. This weeks choices inspired by the unmistakable appearance of Autumn in the UK. Autumn is great for weekend walks and for camping, but makes commuting to work by bike, train and bus, suck. So please enjoy; The Milk, Captain Beefheart, Lady Wray, Lootpack and Nancy and Lee.

Mortimer and Whitehouse Gone Fishing

reccommend watch
441 Words

This is a delicious little show which does much more than it says on the tin. It’s how Telly should be. Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse do indeed go fishing, but their honesty, frankness and genuine affection for each other really make it something special. Both comedians suffer from heart conditions and the show is the result of Paul dragging Bob out fishing in real life, following his triple heart bypass.

The New Van

cars vw transporters
395 Words

I had a campervan that you might remember that I was super proud of. It was one of the vehicles that I kept hold of for more than five minutes. I had it - wait - over three years. Oh my! It was a T4 from ‘03 (the last year they made this model). It had a 5 cylinder 2.5l TDI (the good one) and it looked the mutts nuts.

The Bike

fletch remarkable
258 Words

I don’t make many financially sound decisions but here’s one you can’t argue with. 9 months ago today I bought a secondhand bicycle to commute to the station on. Previously I was walking there and back which was tedious and dreary and took about 25 minutes each way. Cycling has revolutionised this part of my day, each way is now about 5 minutes. Of course, that isn’t the full story. When I say “walking there and back” what I actually mean is “getting a taxi home 2-3 times a week” which costs a fiver each time.

Circles, Messaging and Control

technology comment
416 Words

About three years ago I was lauding Google Plus to anyone that would listen. I loved the ‘circles’ feature for its ability to tailor your online content and personality to match the situation - like we do in the real world. Context. Circles provided control over the reach & visibility of the things you put on the Google Plus platform which was excellent. Unfortunately Google got almost everything else about it completely wrong and today although it exists, Google Plus is dying a slow and painful death.

Winter Tyres

cars fletcher-lecture
515 Words

Car tyres, are well-important. They are the things that attach your car to the road, which is key to making sure it goes in the direction you want when you turn the steering wheel. Most tyres do what you want most of the time. Which is fine if you only drive most of the time, but you don’t. In the UK you drive all of the time. When it’s hot and when it’s cold, when it’s wet and when it’s dry.

Be Inauthentic

self-improvement remarkable
79 Words

This is a worthwhile thing to spend 20 minutes watching. A man called Mark Bowden giving a talk at TEDx Toronto in 2013. I suppose there are lots of resources on the internet and in the bookshops about body language, but Marks talk is short, excellent and entertaining. It explains why you need people on your side in the first place. If you ever have to give a talk or present something or convince someone, this will help you.

Company Culture

self-improvement comment
449 Words

Whatever your business is at some point it involves human beings. Making sure that they are happy and into what you do is key to being very successful. You can tick along without thinking (or caring) about the culture in your organisation but any time and effort saved will likely cost you in other ways. Recruitment, retention and managing the quality of your employees will all become more difficult . If you don’t run an organisation that people want to work for, then salary is your only weapon.

VW T4 For Sale

cars vw transporters
207 Words

Please note, this van is now sold! It is with some reluctance that I put my van up for sale! I won’t be too sad if no-one wants to buy it! It’s the right one; A late model T4 2.5TDi and it’s only done 74,500 miles. First registered in 2003 it is in excellent condition. It is a rare (VW OEM) colour called Scarab Green and it looks the businessz.

Working Under Pressure

fletch remarkable
154 Words

This fantastic write-up of the nightmare situation a lobster fisherman found himself in has lots of lessons in it. A Spec in the Sea - New York Times [https://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/05/magazine/a-speck-in-the-sea.html?_r=1] I sent it out to my engineering team over the weekend to read and asked them what they thought about it. There are loads of lessons here that apply to working under pressure. The things he did really well were; staying calm, remembering all the traditional advice on what to do, and then not being afraid to ignore some of it.

Owder and Madder

grandad listen
1018 Words

This is a transcript of an audio-recording made by my grandfather some time before I was born and uncovered by a cousin of mine decades later in a loft. Finding these recordings was the first time I heard his voice. If you right click and save-as you can download ‘Owder and Madder’ for posterity. Pretty sure my Grandad would be buzzing if you did that “In the spring” so William Shakespear once said, “A young mans fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love”.

Jumble Sale

grandad listen
1355 Words

This is a transcript of an audio-recording made by my grandfather some time before I was born and uncovered by a cousin of mine decades later in a loft. Finding these recordings was the first time I heard his voice. If you right click and save-as you can download ‘Jumble Sale’ for posterity. Pretty sure my Grandad would be buzzing if you did that It was five minutes to zero hour, our positions were strategically sound.

The Coop Hall

grandad listen
1860 Words

This is a transcript of an audio-recording made by my grandfather some time before I was born and uncovered by a cousin of mine decades later in a loft. Finding these recordings was the first time I heard his voice. If you right click and save-as you can download ‘The Co-op Hall’ for posterity. Pretty sure my Grandad would be buzzing if you did that – On a particularly cold day last week I stood in the entrance hall of a huge block of offices awaiting a lift which seemed very reluctant to call, however temporarily, at the ground floor.

New Job

fletch travel
274 Words

I lived in the middle of London for five years. Proper middle, Zone1, London Bridge, Borough. No messing. Fuck your Clapham or Brixton and all that. During that time, although my head-office was but ten minutes stroll away I worked daily with my clients at their offices. Over those years that meant three different commutes. A five hour round trip to Surrey on tube/national rail, a three hour on the train to West London and a slightly shorter one, also to West London.

Samsung Chromebook

technology comment
749 Words

Last week I purchased a Chromebook, (the cheap Samsung one not the £1050 job announced yesterday, I haven’t completely lost my mind) and I think it’s a really really awesome little laptop. I’ve been met with intrigue and derision in roughly equal measures since starting to walk round the office campus with it this week. Let me tell you why I understand the sneers, why I like it and why it works for me.

The Half Marabastard is Complete!

fletch running
875 Words

Well, I completed the Marabastard but it wasn’t all plain sailing. It took me 2 hours 34 minutes, which was way over my target and disappointing, but I wasn’t in the best state… I had three days off work immediately prior to race day. Stinking headache, a cough and lots of snot. I was feeling much better by the Saturday night but even on the Sunday morning of the race I was considering just going to watch.

Marabastard Training 2

fletch running
229 Words

Despite the lack of marabastard updates I have been keeping my hand in to do you all proud I promise. In fact I have recently run a couple of much quicker times after Googling “how to run”. It turns out their is a technique to it which has taken me 32 years to discover, it has taken minutes off each mile and I’m LESS knackered as a result. Even so I still absolutely hate running.

Luton Airport. Bend me over the fucking barrier.

fletch mild-rant
237 Words

I was looking at airport parking for a holiday I’m off on. Last week it was £60 at the long-stay and £80 for valet parking right up to the terminal. Seemed OK. I look the day before I’m due to fly… It’s now £90 at the long stay and £120 for valet. Patronisingly called “Last minute saver”. There’s no such thing as “last minute”, it’s just called “doing stuff in time”.

More on Backwards Technology - The Perils of Infinite Scroll.

fletcher-lecture technology
256 Words

I have had a word about backwards technologies before so here’s something else that doesn’t need any further improvement: Infinite scroll. This is the javascript technology that automatically loads more content as you scroll down a page. It is supposed to save you from having to click “next” to load up another batch of articles on a blog, making stuff all tablety and easy. It’s bollocks. I don’t need my browser to decide anything this simple for me.

Marabastard Training. 1.

fletch running
135 Words

Well the first of the bastard marabastard runs have taken place. It was meant to be five miles, according to my virtual trainer Jeff Gaudette on Runkeeper. Five miles for the first run, I mean for fucks sake. Anyway I managed 4.69 miles Jeff so I hope that’s ok. Frankly I could have done a bit more but it would have meant running back past my house again and then returning which I simply could not face.

The Half Marabastard

fletch running
252 Words

I am doing a half marathon in aid of Woking hospice. Jesus Christ. Here, straight from justgiving.com/halfmarathonnightmare/ [http://www.justgiving.com/halfmarathonnightmare/] is my reason: Woking Hospice really looked after Rob Kinsey and his family during his illness. Kinsey was a total top-banana and the hospice deserves this incredibly modest donation to keep providing formidable support to people. Please donate generously I absolutely hate running half marathons, I did one in reading 8 years ago and it was horrible.

The end of Free?

technology comment
467 Words

The novelty of publicly sharing all of your stuff online is definitely coming to an end, I can feel it. Lots of my friends are techies and have always had pretty tight privacy settings online, but even my non-techie pals are getting in on the action. Gone are the days when you could click on a friend-of-a-friend and see their most intimate nights out on the town, no chance. People are rightly wising up.

Tamar Tantrums

fletch rant
201 Words

Drove over the Tamar Bridge today and those sneaky Cornish buggers make you pay for that privilege on the way back (I notice it was bloody free to drive over it on the way into Cornwall a few days before). Obviously because I live like the Queen I don’t carry cash so the £1.50 that they wanted wasn’t forthcoming - I handed the cashier my card and he looked at it like it was the first piece of plastic he’d seen before asking me if I had my chequebook on me.

Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee

photo fletch
162 Words

Here is a picture of me with Paul Daniels and the lovely Debbie McGee that I just uncovered at my parents! I very clearly remember remember this, we were on holiday in Devon and the Paul Daniels Magic Show was being filmed at a pub near to where we were staying, in fact the final trick might even have been broadcast live from there. The pub was called ‘Pack o Cards’ and the final act involved Paul appearing to guess the wrong card at the end of an illusion then saying something like “oh heck, well is it this one?

Dream Phone Service

technology mild-rant
302 Words

Is there a mobile phone provider that offers a proper converged service? I’d like to be able to open up my account online, and have access to all the features I currently have through my handset but fronted on the web. Send a text, reply to a text, add someone to my address book, all synced properly in order with my phone. I want to be able to look at the MMS I received on a big screen and search through my text history for that restaurant recommendation someone gave me a couple of months back.

Billionth Birthday

fletch
734 Words

For the most part these “milestone” birthdays are a lot of utter nonsense, and I’m going to tell you why. Initially the ages that we celebrate have a real cause. The 1st, 13th, 16th, 17th and 18th are all proper milestones because they can be associated with either a particularly impressive feat or some sort of eligibility level. A right being granted to you. At age 1, you’ve just managed to get through the most fragile year of your life, hooray!

Poem about Biros

fletch poem
166 Words

I’ve written a poem about BIROS, the little PENNY BASTARDS. I’m fucking sick of finding biros they’re everywhere I look they’re stuck in mugs lost down the couch in every single nook I don’t know where they fucking come from I never write things down and yet when someone phones me up there’s never one around I can’t ever use the hoover without one going up the tube and then I have to dig around

Top Five Fish

fletch top-five
314 Words

5 - Herring The Herring is utterly abundant, there’s fucking LOADS of it left which is great for the sea because herring are well into plankton and they consume a massive amount of it. It’s also great for us because they’re bloody delicious. Get it down your neck, grill some whole herring and eat it with some spuds and a few veg. TOP TOP TOP. 4 - Kipper Kippers for breakfast, delicious with knob of butter.

Backwards Technology

fletcher-lecture technology
347 Words

Why do technologies sometimes go backwards? Take the humble mouse. Years ago they had three useful buttons. Then they dropped down to two and got scroll wheels. There have been exciting forays into side-buttons, built-in rollerballs, mice that accept gestures or squeezes and of course there was the truly terrible mighty mouse which only had one button but was supposed to detect when you were trying to use it as a two-button.

Where are you!?

technology remarkable
548 Words

ok so the experiment was interesting. For those of you not paying attention I’ve been running an app on my phone - N82 - that uploads the phones gps position to a third party every minute or so which I can stick on a google map and then display on here. In other words anyone that fancies it can comes here and view a map with a little person drawn on it that represents me live right now!

Ziggy Plays Guitar

fletch boozing
792 Words

To celebrate a year of being in their new house, Paul and Jen had a fancy dress party - the theme of which was “Heroes and Villains”. For a change I had loads of ideas and loads of time to prepare but I still ended up leaving it till the last minute. First off I was supposed to be going as a box of cadburys heroes.. see what I’ve done there?

Poorhouse

fletch travel
556 Words

OH DEAR it’s a sad state of affairs when you can’t even buy two records on a Saturday morning without your credit card melting. Yep it finally decided to stop talking in the Vinyl Exchange forcing me to GASP pay in CASH. Yes real money. In fact it was the last £20 note I had and handing it over left me with just a tenner in the whole world. Of course this was wisely invested later on in the day on a “Six Summer Sausage Selection” and 24 “Bierre D’or” from Tesco.

Metrosexuality

travel kathmandu
367 Words

Getting hold of western toiletries etc is not as easy as popping down to the local Tesco/Walmart and picking up your fave items. At least in the places I’ve been to recently Thailand, Tibet and now Nepal trying to find most of that stuff is nigh-on impossible - even in capitals like Kathmandu. So yesterday when I spotted a shop window full of bottles, “Colgate” logos catching my eye, I went straight in to stock up.

Tibet and the High Plateau

travel china
562 Words

Recently I’ve been feeling really travelled out. Zero motivation and all that.. over the past 10 months I’ve seen more picturesque lakes, mountains, temples, churches, cathedrals.. visited more hilltribes, villages, unique markets than any man should ever have to and so landing in Cheng-Du, which however you dress it up is just another big city, made me a bit depressed. I couldn’t see the point of being there at all so I revisited my reasons for going.

I want to ride my bicycle

thailand travel
1419 Words

The devil is in the details. Lots of funny little things go on in Chiang Mai none of which really make a story in themselves but if I tell you a few things at once you might get a feeling of what it’s like to spend some time here.. First off the town is split into two parts.. not old and new but day and night. Daytime Chiang Mai sees lots of Thai people shooting around town on mopeds, often carrying anything up to three other passengers, planks of wood or poultry on the pillion.

Lhasa to Kathmandu

travel tibet
963 Words

Pretty much the journey consisted of driving past lots and lots of amazing scenery. The roads varied from freshly surfaced tarmac (rare) through to potholed rock-riddled tracks (pretty much all day) and sometimes we just drove down the side of mountains or up streams dodging yak, sheep, shepherds, yak, more yak and the occasional guinea pig. Each time we stopped, whether it was to visit a significant monument or in a village to stay the night the locals might attack you for provisions.

Jungle is where it's at.

travel thailand
324 Words

The record for biggest shit-hole I’ve ever stayed in (previously held by the “Turtles Refuge” in Victoria BC) has been eclipsed by the “Chaing-Mai Guest House”! It was pretty bad. Lizards everywhere (both human and reptile) no glass in the windows (which were barred) and a bedroom door that had clearly taken multiple kickings. The shared bathroom on my floor was vile, there’s no light, which is probably a blessing. I guess that’s what you get for the equivalent of 68p a night.

Auntie Pats Loft

grandad listen
362 Words

My Auntie Pat is moving house and has unearthed a load of old photographs and slides that my created Grandad created throughout his life. This is exciting sort of stuff for me because my Grandfather who was my namesake, died before I was born and although I remember seeing a few photos of him, I’ve never had any to flick through myself. I have on quite a few occasions wondered what he was like and of course what he might have thought of me.

Kiwi Tom

travel canada
770 Words

I don’t think I’ve dedicated a post entirely to one person before. Although Kiwi Tom - my current roommate in Nelson - is intensely annoying I do have a soft-spot for him. Certainly my time here cannot be accurately reflected without writing about him. Tom smokes a lot of powerful weed, he smokes it all day every day like you or I might breath air. He looks a bit like a figure in a Lowry painting or like Jack Skellington from ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’.