Category Archives: Life

Life observations

Memories Of Cars I Have Owned

Singer VogueMemories of cars I have owned came back to me this morning on my way to work as Radio Solent had listeners calling in if they had ever given names to their cars, or indeed other modes of transport.

This immediately set me thinking about the closest I have come to owning a classic car, my 1961 Singer Vogue (similar to the one pictured above). This was a lovely car  to drive, and I bought it in about 1982 when I lived in London. I called the car “Pearl”, because according to the song by Elkie Brooks “Pearl’s A Singer!” I owned the car for a couple of years, but ended up trading it in for aFrench built Matra Simca Rancho.

Matra_Simca_Rancho_ca_1980_virtually_in_profile_nbNow the best way to describe the Rancho is “Pope Mobile”, since it was for it’s time an SUV in the days before SUV’s had really been invented. Well, I say this, but the Range Rovers were probably the first SUV’s, and this was definitely a poor man’s SUV in many ways.

Although the Rancho had large windows and therefore good visibility, had a lot of luggage space both inside and on the roof, and looked flashy with it’s twin rotateable spotlights on the front, in reality it had poor road holding, was terrible to drive, and those spotlights only worked when the engine was off, which made them pretty useless.

It also kept going out of tune very easily, and one time after I had taken it to the Matra Simca dealership to be serviced, within a mile of driving it away it was barely moving and was constantly back-firing. Can you believe it!

I kept this a couple of years, but then had enough money to buy myself a brand new car, a Vauxhall Cavalier, which was a lovely car, with electric door mirrors, a remove boot release, and things like that which I hadn’t had on a car before.

Unfortunately, only a week after I bought it, a BMW drove into the back of me, crushed the boot, and when it was repaired the replacement didn’t have the correct mechanism for the remote boot release. I was too naive to complain at the time, so for the next 4 years I complained to myself every time I had to get out of the car to open the boot for someone.

Morris MiniI mustn’t forget my first car though, a 1963 Morris Mini which I bought to help me get back and forth from university in 1974.

While the Mini was in many ways a great car, mine did have some flaws, some of which were exploited by my “friends” at college. For example, the door locks were practically useless, and one student found that he could unlock it using the end of a tail comb. Hmmm! One time a group of them found that the car was so light that they carried it and dumped it in the middle of a flower bed.

The worst problem by far with my Morris Mini though was the windows. This model didn’t have wind down windows, it had sliding windows, and if you parked the car close to a puddle, any car driving through that puddle which splashed water onto the car would result in much of that water literally pouring into the car. In fact it was almost pointless closing the windows, just as much water would have come in I reckon if the windows had been open!

So what happened at university when I went to my car after it had been raining heavily was that I found 2-3 inches of water on the floor, a veritable paddling pool, and the carpets were of course sodden, and had to be taken in to dry. I actually kept an old plastic scoop in the car so that I could use it like you would a bailer on a boat, and could scoop the water out.

I have to admit the mini was a fun car to drive though, and I was saddened to let it go when I left university and moved to London, where there was nowhere to park a car, or if there was it was too costly for me, and in Central London you really don’t need a car.

Well those are some stories about some of the cars that I have owned. Do you have any about cars that you have owned, or indeed about cars the same as the ones that I have written about? If you do, please leave a comment for our other readers.


Nothing Wrong With My Poo!

bowel-screening-kitA few weeks ago the NHS sent me a screening kit for bowel cancer which I had to return in the mail. I got the results today and can claim “there’s nothing wrong with my poo!”

Bowel cancer screening is something that the NHS (National Health Service) in the UK offer free for anyone when they turn 60, which I did in October, and they do this using a screening kit that you prepare at home and then send back to them in the post.

It sounds very easy to complete the test, which consists of taking 2 smears from 3 separate bowel movements, and spreading these on small squares on the kit, which are hidden/protected under a flap.

In reality though, preparing the test results is not quite so easy.


First of all, the kit includes 6 cardboard sticks, 1 for each of the 6 windows, so 2 separate samples per bowel movement. Each cardboard stick must only be used once, and the samples taken from a different area of the poop.

Now, you can’t allow the poop to become contaminated, for example by letting it drop into the toilet and then “fishing” it out. They recommend either using toilet paper to catch it in, or a plastic container.

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t fancy the idea of doing number two into a plastic tub, so I opted for using toilet paper instead.

The first problem is of course that you have to have the kit handy for when you need to go, and of course you have to remember to take it with you into the bathroom. Now I wasn’t going to try and do this at work, so I had to time my bodily functions for either first thing in the morning or in the evening. As you probably know only too well, place any constraints like that on your body and it invariably doesn’t want to co-operate, so it was a bit of a stressful process that took 4 days, but in the end I did manage to get the samples.

Back to the task of catching the poo though, and if you have ever attempted to catch this on sheets of toilet paper, there is a certain stress involved, in case your hand is in the wrong place or you excrete a massive turd and it just overflows the paper.

There is a third posibility of course, and that’s finding that your poop is soft, sludgy or even just liquid. It doesn’t bare thinking about, but fortunately I didn’t suffer from any of the above and caught smaller samples than I imagined.

Now the other fun part is trying to take a smear to put on the small squares in the testing kit. In my case, every movement that I did was hard, not soft. In fact they were about the hardness of cheddar cheese.

Have you ever tried cutting a small piece of cheddar cheese with a piece of cardboard, then attempting to smear just a tiny bit onto a square of plastic? I tell you, it’s nigh on impossible, and I ended up smearing this stuff all over the place, just trying to take a teeny weeny sample.

Other than that the test was easy, but it was a humorous experience that albeit rather gross to discuss, I felt I had to write about it for those of you who can see the funny side of this type of experience.

And in my case the results have come back all clear, phew! No sign of bowel cancer or any of the other things that they test for fortunately. It doesn’t mean I don’t have any problems, but the tests didn’t show up anything at least.

I’m good to go for another two years at least.

Well I hope you enjoyed that read and weren’t too disgusted at the gruesome details. Do you have any medical procedure stories that are humorous? If so, please leave us a comment and share.

My Digital Tyre Inflator Saved My Bacon This Morning

In the Spring I bought a digital tyre inflator because I was fed up with having to go to the service station every couple of weeks to keep tyres on my car pumped up. The rear tyres keep losing air, and this inflator has proved to be incredibly useful, so much better than the analogue one that I used to have.

This morning I managed to leave the house 10 minutes early on my daily commute to work, and on my way up the hill about half a mile after leaving home I noticed a strange sound, but didn’t pay too much attention. I was more concerned about whether leaving home early would help me to beat the solid traffic jam that I have to face every day, and if you live in Southampton and have to drive over the river at Wood Mill every day, well you know full well what I mean. It usually takes me 20 minutes to do the first mile from home, and by the time I get over the river, the traffic has built up on the other side.

By the time I reached the queue and stopped, about a mile from home, the queue was nice and short. But then the driver behind me got out of his car, ran up to mine and said “did you know you have a flat tyre”?

Well to put it mildly I was rather peeved, having noticed that the rear tyre on the driver’s side was a little low, but I didn’t think it was THAT low!

So, I pulled the car over onto the pavement, got my tyre inflator out of the back, and set it going to put some more air into the rear tyre on my side, which is the one that goes down most often.

I left this running for a minute or so, then to my horror I saw that the tyre on the passenger side was completely flat, just like a pancake!

“Oh crap!” I thought to myself, I hope it inflates ok, or I will be really late for work, and it’s a busy day today for me.

Fortunately the tyre inflated ok, and I got to work ok, albeit barely before the buzzer went to start work, as by the time I got going again the traffic had really built up.

If you don’t have a tyre inflator and suffer from your car tyres going flat on occasions, I highly recommend the Polco Rapid Digital Tyre Inflator, which is the one that I purchased after a lot of searching and reading reviews.

I certainly haven’t been disappointed with this handy inexpensive gadget, and what I do love is that I can set the pressure that I want the tyre to inflate to, connect it to the tyre, turn it on and it stops automatically when the tyre has been correctly inflated.

I purchased mine at but also have a wide range of Digital Tyre Inflators.

A Nice Carvery At The Master Builder

The Master Builder, Southampton
This photo of Master Builder is courtesy of TripAdvisor

We had a nice carvery yesterday at The Master Builder which is only a couple of miles up the road from where we live.

The pub changed management a few months ago, and so we thought it was time to see what the food was like there, as we felt like going out for a bite to eat, but with the weather being horribly wet and windy we didn’t want to venture too far from home.

The last time that we went to The Master Builder we left very disappointed, as the vegetables were simpley terrible, being undercooked and in the case of the carrots quite obviously re-heated from the previous day.  Yesterday, however, we fared rather better.

There was a choice of ham, beef and pork, all nicely cooked, with what I can only class as “exceptional quality” Yorkshire puddings and roast potatoes for a carvery.

There was a good choice of vegetables, and other than the peas and sweetcorn, there was swede and carrots, red cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and stuffing and gravy.

The place was pretty busy, and as usual we sat in the conservatory area looking out onto the patio/garden at the back of the pub, which was being lashed by strong gusts of wind and rain.

The carvery is a bit pricier than in some other local pubs, but as long as the quality is good and there is a good choice of vegetables you don’t mind paying a bit more for a meal that you know you are going to enjoy.

It was definitely nice to get out of the house, as the weather this weekend has just been more of the usual wind and rain, and we will be going back to The Master Builder in a few months no doubt.

If you are still not quite sure what a carvery is, here is a good article about carveries.

Sunshine And Heavy Rain

It’s quite easy to get fed up with life in the UK at this time of year, especially if the weather consists of sunshine and heavy rain.

Granted it’s unseasonably mild for the time of year, with temperatures during the day around 10C (50F) but it still just wants to rain, and everywhere is just sodden.

We did get a brief sunny interval this morning, and again just now (early afternoon), but in between it’s been more heavy showers and torrential rain.  It just gets a bit hard to take at times, very frustrating.

Still, I guess I shouldn’t complain, because the alternative would be freezing cold with snow and ice. Given a choice I prefer grey skies and rain I guess.