Friday, 19 September 2014

Permits pains

Fun and games with Croydon Council parking permit renewal. Starts off OK: enter old permit and pin from renewal letter, displays new permit number and gives a link to the payment page.

The latter, however, just has a list of things one can pay for - Council Tax etc... Find Parking Permits at the bottom - and immediately get asked for the permit number which is now two pages back and no longer accessible!

So to make payment one has to find the email with the new permit  load the payment page, enter the permit number...

First thing it now asks for is the address. It should know this: it goes with the permit.

3 minutes wasted faffing around - plus another 5 blogging about it!


Sunday, 3 August 2014

Car overheating remedies

Let's start with prevention is better than cure. Many motorists never check their coolant level but it's worth doing at least once a month. If it needs a regular top up then this also suggests a fault which needs investigating.

If, however, after all this your needle does start to rise ominously in that holiday traffic jam then there are a few things you can do.


  1. Turn off the air conditioning. This will take some of the load from the engine so it will produce less heat.
  2. Switch the heater to Hot, point the air towards the windscreen and turn on the heater fan. You'll get a little heated but it will cool the engine.
  3. With automatic gearbox, when stationary, put the car in Neutral instead of Drive. Less heat and better coolant circulation.
  4. On downhill sections, leave car in Neutral and let it roll (but at no more than 10 mph). Don't turn the engine off as this will rob your ability to break and steer. 
  5. Turning engine off for short periods may actually aggravate the problem. If the needle goes off the scale though, turn off and consider yourself broken down!
  6. Try and get out of the jam as soon as you can - either to park or take a side road where speeds of 20 mph plus will (hopefully) cool the engine.
  7. When you can do so, park for at least 30 minutes to let the engine cool then top up the water. If you are not familiar with how to do this then call the RAC or whoever, otherwise you might scald yourself or damage the engine.

Keep cool!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Good at Gluten free

Coeliac friendly restaurants which really understand gluten-free requirements.

Alchemist (Middle Eastern), Croydon
Bunga Raya (Malay), Thornton Heath
Castaways, Norton Lodge, Yarmouth, IOW
El Piano (Veggy/Vegan), York
La Tasca (Spanish), Everywhere
Lazzaris (Italian), Croydon
Lebanese Grill Express (Middle Eastern), Croydon
Mum's The Chef, Croydon
Pie and Vinyl, Portsmouth
Thahn (Vietnamese), Croydon
Windmill Pub (Indian), Croydon

List being constantly updated.

Twenty is Plenty fast enough

I had some responses to my Twenty is Plenty entry suggesting that such a move would significantly slow down journey times.

Not so! I shall try to demonstrate.

The limit applies to residential roads, not A and B roads.

There are very few residential roads which are more than half a mile long.

One cannot enter or exit a residential road at speed, certainly not at 20 or 30 mile per hour. It is reasonable to assume that the car might stop or be slowed to a few miles per hour at the start and end of each road.

With that in mind, I'm going to construct a worst-case scenario for a 5 mile urban journey. This assumes:

Only residential roads are used.
Each such road is half a mile long - therefore 10 roads are used in total.
The car never stops, just drops to 5 mph to leave one road and enter the other.

(I am indebted to my son, a maths 'A' level student, for helping with the calculations).

At 20 mph, after allowing 17 feet needed for acceleration and braking between 5  and 20 mph, the car will travel at its maximum of 20 mph for 863 feet in approximately 29.5 seconds.
Over the whole journey, distance travelled at 20 mph is 29.5 x 10 = 295 seconds.

At 30 mph, after allowing 25 feet needed for acceleration and braking between 5  and 30 mph, the car will travel at its maximum of 30 mph for 855 feet in approximately 19.5 seconds.
Over the whole journey, distance travelled at 30 mph is 19.5 x 10 = 195 seconds.

The 20 mph journey will therefore take just an extra 1 minute and 40 seconds for 5 miles.

This, however, assumes absolutely ideal conditions. In practice, the car will come to a halt several times, the roads won't be a nice half a mile long and maximum speed won't be achievable because of other road users.

Because of this, the 20 mph limit probably costs the driver less than a minute over 5 miles in what, in urban terms, is quite a long journey.

And perhaps saves the live of a child.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Twenty is Plenty

Croydon Labour councillors have proposed a 20 mph speed limit on residential roads.

Tories on the other hand say that lowering the speed limit won't work "...given most drivers don't obey the current 30 mph limit".

The Tory position is unclear - do they not want speed limits reduced? Perhaps they do but see it as unworkable. Might one also cynically suggest that they approve reduced speeds but see it as a vote loser?

Reducing speeds maximum speeds from 30 to 20 will reduce accidents and near misses. I reckon that can just about be proved mathematically. The time cost to the motorist is, by my calculations, no more than 30 seconds per mile which is not a lot in the course of a day.

To state that "most drivers don't obey the current 30 mph limit" is rather an indictment of the motorist and also something of a cop-out.

Most drivers do take some note of the limit and it does influence their driving even if they do do a few mph too fast. A motorist who typically drives at up to, say, 35 mph in a 30 limit is probably going to do no more 25 mph in a 20 limit.

Tories go on to mention width restrictions, one-way roads and traffic cameras.

Width restrictions don't slow traffic down - if anything the absence of larger vehicles allows other traffic to go faster.

One way streets also mean faster traffic as there is no slowing down for oncoming vehicles. This is aside from the inconvenience to residents and the extra fuel and pollution as cars can no longer take the shortest route to their destination.

Speed cameras? Well just fine, but if they can police a 30 limit why not speed cameras and a 20 limit?

Time for a rethink please!

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Twitter Hack

There is a popular method for hacking into Twitter accounts. I see this several times a year. The scenario:

  1. You receive an intriguing Twitter reply from somebody whom you follow.
  2. This contains a link.
  3. You click on the link.
  4. A Twitter login form appears.
  5. You innocently enter your details 
  6. You get admitted to a spam site of some sort.
At stage 5 you were had! It's not Twitter but an impersonator who now has your password! They will then send a fake message out to all of your followers and the process perpetuates.

So, treat with suspicion any message from somebody which does not seem quite right.

If you are presented with an unusual login screen (it might say you need to log in again for security) then be even more suspicious.

If you do get conned then change your password (if you still can!).


Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Not THAT computer again!

off to fix my least favourite computer tomorrow.

It was obviously designed with the expectation that it would never last long enough to need dismantling and the case design is cheap and awful.

Annoyingly, the Windows Vista - installed half a decade ago - is running uncharacteristically well instead of just slowing down and giving up the ghost and yielding an excuse to get a replacement computer.

The CD drive is playing up. This means 2 minutes dismantling, 5 minutes fixing the problem, then half-an-hour to put the ruddy thing back together again.

Ho hum.

Friday, 7 February 2014

The Lawyer

A lawyer spends his morning off working in his garden.

At lunchtime, still clad in old overalls and scruffy boots he pops in the pub for a pint.

Pub is empty and there's a new barman with whom he strikes up a conversation.

After a while the barman asks: "So what do you do?"

- "I'm a solicitor".

Barman looks him up and down and says "Honest?"

- "No, just an ordinary one".

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Humpty Dumpty - a cover up?

"...and all the King's horse and all the King's men..."

I'm puzzled why there is no other reference to Humpty Dumpty in myth, story, fable or rhyme.

"Why?" you might ask, there's only one mention of Jack and Jill.

Well, Jack and Jill were nobodies.

Humpty, however, had celebrity! It takes some clout to get the Royal cavalry to one's assistance.

Who was he? What hold over the King? Why is he not mentioned elsewhere?

Blackmail? A secret lover? His dealer?

We should be told.


Yes, I will eat that banana

I picked up a banana today. Just outside the Nestle building.

Another pedestrian observed this with a scowl of disapproval and unspoken "you're not going to eat that are you?"

Well, that banana spent several weeks on a ship among rats, bugs and the odd weevil catching up on its 5-a-day.

I figure a Croydon pavement can't do too much further damage!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Going Underground....

Some great signage which has managed to find its way on to the Tube, find out at Prosign on Tumblr

Monday, 3 February 2014

Addiscombe Carnival - 25th May 2014

Addiscombe Carnival takes place on 25th May 2014 in Ashburton Park, Lower Addiscombe Road, Ashburton, Croydon, CR0 6RX

Full details at : http://www.addiscombecarnival.org.uk/index.html

Friday, 31 January 2014

Paradox Of The Unexpected Egg

Here is the scenario. You are presented with 10 little boxes labelled one to ten.

If you open them in sequence (1-10) then you fill find an unexpected egg.

Before you start opening the boxes, consider this.

It cannot be in box 10. By then you will have opened the other 9 so it can only be in box 10.

That means it cannot be in box 9 either.If we open boxes 1-8 and find no egg then it must be in box 9 as we have eliminated box 10.

Boxes 8, 7, 6…. all fall to the same logic. Even box 1 is eliminated.

You are paradoxed and think “to hell with it!” and start opening the boxes one by one.

In (say) box 3 is an egg.


You weren’t expecting that!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Top Tweeters

A few tweeters who have caught the Dog's attention in recent months.

With the country poised for a New Year's invasion, @4mBulgarians arrived in Dover one morning (a lot more than the 124 shown in official figures) much to the annoyance of that nice Mr.Farage.

@UKIP 's credibility was not helped by member David Silvester's proclamations on gay floods which inspired the creation of @UkipWeather who garnered over 4,000 followers within 24 hours.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014