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Brazil 2014 – Footie

June 30, 2014

ballI wrote this post about the last World Cup, about winners and losers. Interesting reading 4 years on…orange is the new stuff.

Losers are:

  1. Lionel Messi He played some lovely football, but couldn’t hit a barn door with a bucket of paintballs. Argentina needed goals and he couldn’t provide any. The manager being stark, raving bonkers; taking cocaine and going to bed every night with a minibus of hookers (who are probably trannies) couldn’t’ve helped either. Ah, how the world turneth. Now carrying the expectations of a nation, the fate of the Falkland Islands and the profit margins of Nike Global football sales on his sloping shoulders…he has just realised that he is also carrying his team this time as well. He may be a galactico but his team mates are a bit journeymen…but he seems to be the Messi we all hoped he would be.
  2. Wayne Rooney Our very own granny-fancier looked like a third division pub footballer. He looked off the pace and seemed to be in a permanent strop about just about everything. I think he needs Regaine, because my theory is he is getting depressed about looking like an extra from The Sweeney. OMG, he is exactly the same footballer! Have we learned NOTHING?! He seems to have skipped granny prostitutes this time round but never looked match sharp and seemed to have one foot on the Marbella flight for his annual 2 weeks of all-day English breakfasts and wearing nylon. As my son said: he is only ever any good in the adverts…
  3. Christiano Ronaldo Ronaldo has always looked to me like a drag queen without make-up and a frock…he’s so…plucked. But aside from my overly bitchy comment, he was playing out of position, in a totally negative formation and was marked out of most games. I think he is a fantastic player who simply had a bad tournament. Exactly the same deal this time round. I think he is a fantastic player (though, obviously, a massive cock) but he was in a shit team more concerned about killing a game than actually winning it. 
  4. France I have already blogged about the French – but by anyone’s standards, they had a shocker. They need to sit around and play table football for a bit so that they can get to grips with formations, passing and having fun again. Ah, what a contrast! They seem to have some espirit du corps this time around and actually look like they are playing for their manager. Evra seems to have hung up his Che Guevara beret and Benzema is looking like the player we all hoped he would be. They could win it, damn them.
  5. Brazil Every time we have a World Cup the Brazilians saunter onto the pitch like the Harlem Bloody Globetrotters and start tapping the ball around for fun, doing mad tricks and generally making everyone else look like…Emile Heskey. But this World Cup there was a sense that they expected to be in the final. To me they seemed petulant. I also found their reaction to being fouled (i.e. looking like they have been shot by a sniper from 100 yards) to be reprehensible. They should have picked up more yellow cards for being a bunch of babies. Pele was a long time ago – man up! They still go down faster than a $20 hooker but they are a bit more steely this time around and have found a genuine Brazilian No. 10 in Neymar. Their only issue is that they have two of the worst strikers to play for Brazil in living memory. Romario, Ronaldo and Pele must look at Fred an Hulk and think: great names, but, are these the best we have?
  6. England I didn’t think it was possible that we could plumb depths lower than in South Africa but it turns out that the England team went out and bought a new plumb, that can go deeper than ever. We didn’t manage a single win and looked like a 2nd division side completely out of our depth.

But, on a more positive note, the winners are:

  1. South Africa Not the team, they were outclassed from day one, but the hosts who put on a truly marvelous World Cup. It seemed well organised, well attended and the stadiums were terrific. I loved the fan parks idea and the vuvuzelas will not be forgotten quickly. I think everyone can agree that Brazil have been magnificent hosts: fantastic stadia (at what cost, though?), incredible support and an incredible atmosphere. The football has been sensational as well.
  2. Refereeing Normally, I always have a good moan about the refereeing but this time – on the whole – I thought it was excellent. They seemed to encourage free-flowing football, tried to keep things calm and resisted giving out too many cards. The Spain vs Germany game was superbly referreed – where there was no time given to play acting and advantage was always played. Could have done with video replays, but that’s FIFA’s fault, not theirs… We have goal line technology! We have spray foam stuff! We have proper time added on! Refereeing has been pretty good again. Sepp Blatter is still a twat though.
  3. Sergio Ramos One of the best players in the Spanish team, in my opinion, who was never shy about getting forward. Has the ability to keep it simple or play delicate touches. Dodgy hair band though – I thought they went out with the ’90’s? 4 years have turned a match winner into a fallible mortal. Watching the demise of Spain is one of the most depressing things I have witnessed. The end of this – fantastic – team, the end of tika-taka and the end of the Del Bosque era. They were amazing but I think they got older and slower (if that were possible to get any slower) and the rest of the world figured out how to play against them. They needed to score and they brought on Torres. That says it all, really.
  4. Wesley Sneijder One of the stars of the Dutch team, who is almost a direct mix of Holland past and present: a simple up and down midfielder one minute and then a creative goal scorer the next. Have been very impressed with our Wesley. This time round the star of the Dutch team has been…the Dutch team. They look like a team. They look like they have all got their game faces on. They could win this. They really could.
  5. Miroslav Klose I have a read a bit of a Klose backlash in the UK media saying that he is just a box player with no real skill; relying on tap-ins to keep his tally up. I think this is total shite. His club form is so-so, but when he pulls on a German shirt he turns into Wonder Boy. I think it takes exceptional skill to get in a position to actually score a goal. It then takes skill to not miss. If it was so bloody easy then every game would end up 14-15. Finally, he not only scores goals but helps the rest of the team unconditionally. If he was English there’d be no complaints. Wayne Rooney cannot boast a goal, neither can Lionel Messi – it’s a hard thing to do. Duh. Still he scores. Still.
  6. Diego Forlan Been player of the World Cup for me. He showed skill, movement and deadly finishing all through the World Cup. His club form has been excellent and he has taken that form to the World Cup. Mad looking fella as well. 4 years has lost him a yard of pace and it showed. But Uruguay have Luis Suarez! Oh…the part footballer / part vampire has only gone and tried to get his protein during a match again. This Uruguay side – without the guile of Forlan and the genius of Suarez – looks like a cynical, mechanical unit 
  7. ITV Amazingly, ITV are quite good! They have some good pundits. Lee Dixon is class. Patrick Viera is entertaining and they seem to have not produced shit graphics. Adrian Chiles is – as ever – more annoying than mosquitos, their commentators are sometimes annoying and the continual betting adverts are a pain but the BBC (aside from Theirry Henry and Danny Murphy) is dull and emotionless. They also have Phil Neville. He is more boring that cardboard.
  8. Nike Their advert is amazing! Funny, entertaining and beautifully made. The only fly in the ointment is they eulogise about their sponsored players so much that when they don’t live up to expectations it can be a bit depressing.
  9. James Rodriguez Every World Cup there always emerges an incredible talent and this one is no different. This player – who is only 22 – seems to play half a second quicker than anyone else and possesses such delightful technique that one wonders how good he can be…

Digital Scrapbook

February 5, 2014

Since I have been using a Smartphone (yeah right – MrShev: Siri, can you find out whats on in the cinema near to me? Siri: Brocolli cannot ride bicycles. MrShev: Siri, can you play The Foo Fighters? Siri: There are no unicorns in My Fair Lady. MrShev: Siri, make an appointment at 2pm tomorrow for the dentist. Siri: Tomatoes are not the only fruit.) I have got over my first flush of smartphone lust and don’t bother with games anymore or pointing my phone around trying to get some lame augmented reality app to tell me things that are of no use to man nor beast like some medieval cleric divining water.

But! there is some joy out there in the digital Primark that is the App Store (or Play Store) if you bin-dive deep enough. Google Maps still knows where my house is when Apple Maps is struggling with where Swizzerland is. Instagram is still the best photo app. Spotify still makes me wonder if anyone in Apple’s hollowed out mountain knows what the fuck they are going to do with the ugly kid called iTunes. Ultralinga French dictionary when you just need to know what the french for ‘where the Marmite be at, biatch’ is. One of my other favouritist apps is still Evernote.

We all surf t’net a lot and see lots of great things. I use Spotify to keep track of my favourite sounds. I use YouTube to keep all my most favourite cat videos in one place but when I see a great piece of design or a totally cool image? Well, I used to book mark the site and then I’d forget what the link was for and forget about it forever…or the person hosting the site would delete the link or image (happens way more than you’d think…) so I use Evernote to keep track of of all of that good shit. I have no idea of the provenance of any of these images so you if you are a photographer with the rights to these and you are going to go crazy monkey in  my comments section then: sorry. So, here is some nice images and other stuff:

Autumn leaves fall onto early snowfall. Somewhere in America.

Autumn leaves fall onto early snowfall. Somewhere in America.

This is in England somewhere and makes me happy that nature can reclaim from man.

This is in England somewhere and makes me happy that nature can reclaim from man.

 

 

How clean the dress. How dirty the water. The timing is just awesome!

How clean the dress. How dirty the water. The timing is just awesome!

 

 

So, what happened here?!

So, what happened here?!

Dunno why it's so cool. Just is.

Dunno why it’s so cool. Just is.

The shadow tells the story

The shadow tells the story

Again, it's just really satisfying for me.

Again, it’s just really satisfying for me.

Just a really nice poster

Just a really nice poster

Push sign

Push sign

In a word: creepy!

In a word: creepy!

Just because

Just because

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Runnin’

January 27, 2014

homer_running

As I am now in the suburbia of life heading towards the commuter belt of middle age, the country bolt-hole of old age and my eventual arrival at the terminus of life that is Eastbourne…I am still endeavouring to retain some kind of fittness and fend off the middle age spread.

Middle age spread is not some kind of Cougar top-shelf periodical but a condition when people from the First World no longer give a shit, drink more wine than ever (under the flimsy justification that – because of their increased spending power – drinking good wine is not really drinking) and sit on their expanding arses watching Scandinavian crime dramas because anything with subtitles is instantly imbued with a sense of educational worth. So, you start to put weight on around your middle and before you can say the words elasticated waistband you have a gut. I don’t want this to happen to me, so I run.

Well, when I say run, what I really mean is that I jog. A couple of years ago I could run a 10k sub 50mins (and if you know anything about running then you’ll know that that ain’t half bad for a 40yr old) but now I just run for pleasure, not for times. ‘Pleasure?’ I hear you gasp. Pleasure? Yeah, it’s mad to say it out loud but I genuinely like running. I like pulling on a pair of runners and running 7 or 8k…listening to some music and forgetting about my troubles. For 45mins or so all I care about is the road and the lactic burn and the endorphin rush is still as good as it has ever been. I like the fitness as well. I like that I can keep up with my kids and kick a ball about without wheezing.

So in true MrShev style here are some bullet points:

  1. Shoes – Don’t believe all the bollocks about pronating this, arches that or whether you are a hell or toe runner. It’s all a load of shite. Get shoes that support your ankle (a wide heel in other words), feel nice and light, are cheap and are not a shit colour.
  2. Clothes – The only important thing is a T-Shirt that is made out of breathable fabric which you can pick up on Sports Direct for very little money. If you use a normal t-shirt the sweat just stays next you your skin and you will get zits. Lots of them. So, wicking (I believe is the proper term) t-shirt and have a shower afterwards. Ye mingers. Oh, and gloves. I tried running in ski gloves but I looked like a nutter so I bought proper running ones. Again, Sports Direct.
  3. Stretching & Warm Ups – It’s been shown to be better to do a warm up than stretch because your muscles and tendons should be warmed up before you stretch them. So, I tend to walk then slow jog and then get into normal running pace. Then I stretch at the end. Which is a lie. I always forget.
  4. Hydration – Apparently you should be drinking isotonic hydrating fluids. What I do is have an apple juice and a cup of tea before I go running. Then I only drink when I come back if I am thirsty. I am not going to die of thirst FFS.
  5. Music – I use Spotify because I get bored of my music very quickly. I also listen to podcasts. Apple headphones are utterly shit and won’t ever stay in your ears. Most cheapish ‘sports’ headphones are terrible and have awful sound quality. I use a cheap pair of Kitsound headphones as they stay in your ear, are nice and punchy and if they break (as they all do – but these have been going a year!) you won’t cry over them. You can run with the DJ style headphones but you’ll look like a wanker. Don’t bother with waterproof cases for your iPhone or Galaxy just stick it in a ziplock bag.
  6. Running Apps – You can, if you so wish, record your times using your phones GPS and then share this scintillatingly interesting information on Facebook so that it drops like a proverbial information stone into the netherworld of rolling bullshit because, really – you know this – no one cares. Yes you can see if you’re running faster or slower than normal but I have since given up giving a shit – you should too. If you really care about your times and what pace you are running you are an athlete and you should as it is your job.

Finally, some people like running with other people. I hate it. They always want to talk. ‘Look how fit I am as I  run and talk at the same time!’ If you wanna talk we can go for a coffee or you can run and zip it.

Anyway, I will try and post more in future. I have simply been a combination of busy (though not that busy, really) and lazy (this bit is true) and procrastinating (this is undeniably true) but I promise I will

Déménagement

September 4, 2013
'We got professionals to move our shitty bowl that will just end up full of keys and old batteries...and look how deranged we are now?!'

‘We got professionals to move our shitty bowl that will just end up full of keys and old batteries…and now look how insanely happy we are at finding the bloody bowl’

Or moving house, in English.

I moved house recently. Just up ‘road, a little less space, a better view but smaller rent cheque every month. That’s the Swiss deal. If you can see a mountain – even from one window whilst standing on an apple crate half in and half out of the window, only in winter…on a clear day…with a mirror – then you pay extra. The mountains are bloody everywhere, but if you can’t see them then you have rented ‘a bad appartment’ and you have to console yourself by looking at a Toblerone dusted with icing sugar whilst forlornly tooting on an alpine horn. It’s true.

The Swiss don’t move house much. They have hotels for that. The reason being is that moving house costs about the same as buying a house and you’d think that the Swiss removal men are using African elephants to shift your gear. So in order to make that mathematical equation work it was decided that myself and a couple of strong lads would do it ourselves.

This proved to be a fundamental error in judgement.

I got myself super organised and put everything that could fit into cardboard boxes (as I had seen removal men do) and piled them high like the end scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark. I was, to not put too fine a point on it, smug. I was ready, organised and prepared for a couple of hours of heavy lifting but essentially relaxed and over confident about the small matter of moving house.

So, strong lads duly turned up and worked like bastards – they had to as I had the flu. But I discovered something about having the flu and doing physical work – if you drop two Lemsips into a double expresso then you can do your stuff for about six hours…then you want to die.

What proved to be my undoing is that although most things squeezed themselves into cardboard boxes there still remained (by my retrospective reckoning) 3 vans loads of shite to shift. Bikes, plastic kids crap, old boxes from the previous move

All of this was difficlut and stressful and near death inducing but the final sting in the tail comes from something called Le Etat de Lieu. Just to help us all out here is a summary of renting in the UK versus renting in Suisse.

RENTING IN THE UK

You see the property advertised on a website, get shown around by a barely sentient, nineteen year old happy-hour binge drinker (AKA estate agent) and then decide to rent it and put down some money (normally a month’s deposit) and you have secured the flat…mainly because the Landlord has a mortgage on the flat and if they don’t rent it out ASAP they are in Double-Dip-Financial-Shit-Creek-Buy-To-Rent-Pyramid-Scheme-Mortgage-Brokers-Are-Idiots. You rent it because it is ‘quirky’ or has a great location…or is a period property.

The flat is cleaned (badly) by a ‘professional’ cleaning contractor who misses out the toilets, the fridge and anything else that would potentially be life threatening so that you end up spending the first two days of your tenancy cleaning the whole place again because the bogs have more skid marks that Heathrow‘s runway and the freezer still has some Fishfingers that have mutated into the next evolutionary stage. You have an inventory which lists most things that cannot be nailed down and seems to be a tick list rather than an accurate list. You normally have a washing washing and sometimes a dryer.

When you move out (after giving a months notice), everything  – including picture hooks, holes in the walls, blue-tac, carpet stains, dents, dings, marks, abrasions, scrapes and scratches – is loosely filed under the ‘it’s wear and tear, innit?’ and ‘cost of being a landlord, innit?’ unspoken small-print of the contact. Besides you have the small claims court and no one wants the hassle. The tenants get their deposit back, the landlord redecorates (badly) and sticks the rent up by a couple of hundred quid and the whole cycle starts again.

RENTING IN SUISSE

You see the property advertised on a website, get shown around by someone who drives an Audi who looks like they should be on holiday in the Maldives and they really don’t have time to show poor peasants around a property and they are generally on the phone anyway. You decide to rent it but thirty other people are interested in it so you have to submit a ‘resumé’ about what a great tenant you are (i.e quiet, boring and anally retentively clean) and how easily you can afford it. You first (and only) questions are: Does it have a view? Does it have underground parking?. You put down three months rent as a deposit. The flat is cleaned to a point that it is like a new apartment by someone who is obviously under duress.  There is no dirt, no toilet paper, no lightbulbs and no picture hooks. You have an inventory that lists every….single….tiny….detail about the apartment. You never have a washing machine but a communal wash room with a rota (joy).

You have to give your notice in three months in advance or you have to find another tenant to take on your contract (sometimes the contact might only give you one exact date to hand in your notice and if you miss it you have to wait a year). If you are Swiss you do not hang any pictures on the walls because art equals holes in the walls and that equals fuckage with the deposit (of which there is a lot) but if you come from anywhere with some kind of artistic tradition then you are buggered because you bang holes into the walls and the swiss finish their walls with something called creperie which is like woodchip but socially acceptable and is like some kind of 3D watermark that only Swiss estate agents can see – if you try and repair it they know. They can see something in the patterns and they just know.

So, they will do you for redecoration (4000-6000 chf), then the parquet floors (200 – 1000 chf), damage to domestic applicances, loss of keys (they will just change the locks if you do not return the correct amount of keys) (500-700 chf) and any other little thing they can find. Your car dripped oil on your space in the underground parking? That’s going to cost you. Scraped the paint on the floor of your storage area? That’s a re-paint.

Go to court? You are having a laugh. It will cost you your deposit in legal fees and you will lose and end up paying anyway because the contract is the contract and even if it is a shit contract it is still a contract and that is it. Dress like a chicken in Sundays in your contract? You didn’t? Well, you’re fucked then because a contract is a contract and the judges are merely gatekeepers. FFS.

The estate agents might as well print their logo on an invisible dildo because no matter how many oriffaces you think you have sealed they will still find a way of fucking you.

 

Anyway, I’ve moved.

Cliché Ridden Cod Philosophy / Advice

June 30, 2013

Yeah, I know (again) I have disappeared off the face of the planet but I got involved in something (a big work project) that was like a free-time black hole and I am just, nearly, almost out of it – not quite – but nearly. I don’t want to hex it though, so I am still in it, oh yes.

Anyway, where was I? Ah yes Cliché Ridden Cod Philosophy / Advice. You probably have no idea what I am talking about.

I am on Facebook (who isn’t?) and i am starting to find that trawling through the feed is starting to feel like sorting through my post after I have returned from holiday. The crazy thing about Facebook is that in order to start using it effectively and securely you have to firstly install AdBlock or something similar so that you don’t see advertising everywhere that is targeted specifically at you because Facebook have sold your data to their ‘business partners’  who are also getting screwed because everyone uses Adblock.

Then you have to go through your security settings so that random lunatics in maximum security prisons can’t stalk you virtually  so that when they are on medicated release they can hunt you down and use you as a sadistic plaything…and then post the pictures on Facebook so that all your friends can comment and say ‘LOL’ or ‘I wish there was an unlike button :(‘

Then you have to click through your feed and indicate that you do not care about Farmville or that some person you met in a telemarketing job fifteen years ago has beat their high score on Bejewelled.

Then you have to filter out the messages from people who have subjugated their entire identity to their work and use Facebook as some kind of rolling billboard to flash advertising at their friends for goods or services that you would never possibly need, afford or in any way, shape or form find vaguely interesting.

Roach Investments annual free party for rich people was a peasant-whackingly successful blow out  – Ivana Crimptom-Smythe-Xing trashed her Gucci dress. Great PR for Roach investments: using child labour to secure your future. See you next year!

Fuck. Right. Off.

Or:

Our new website headlining our new product line of active matrix super compressors for turning bauxite into turbine emulsion for large hall turbines is gone live – check it out!

Why? Why would I check it out? Yes, I would love to buy some emulsion because I happen to have a $2Bn turbine sitting in my garden shed?

THEN there are the chain letter type status’ imploring you to post the same status to highlight some issue and if you don’t you are, by implication, evil:

Post this in your status if you have ever, or know anyone, or know anyone who knows anyone, who knows someone who has suffered from irritable bowel syndrome. Scratching your arse continually is no laughing matter and if you don’t post this you might get it yourself and then you’ll regret not posting this, won’t you? Hmm? Hmm?

But my personal pet hate is cod philosophy/ advice. You know the stuff:

Friends are like rainbows. They come in all colours but they’re all beautiful colours and if you follow them to the end you’ll find a little pot of gold coins and every gold coin will have love printed on one side and happiness printed on the other with a little dancing leprechaun called Hope.

Or:

People may knock you down, push you into a hole, fill it with concrete and then blow it up with shape charges and then send the debris into space on a rocket with a self destructive AI computer…but as long as you have love in your heart and hope in your eyes you will persevere.

No. No you won’t. You know what? Everyone likes giving out advice, very little of it useful. The Dalai Lama is seemingly on Favebook 24/7 posting various bits of wisdom that I think he nicked off The Waltons  – they’re more like a collection of clichés rather than tangible nuggets of truth that you can apply to your life. Heres an example:

Today, more than ever before, life must be characterized by a sense of Universal responsibility, not only nation to nation and human to human, but also human to other forms of life.

Thats great buddy, but any solutions? Or just bumper sticker quotations? It’s all well and good sitting around like Mr Mayagi talking shite but someone needs to paint the bloody fence, you see what I’m saying?

Anyway, heres my bit of advice:

Life is hard. For most it is very hard. It is relative to your own experience. The percentage of people who are arseholes remains constant though.

 

Snow Driving Tips: part 1 of 1

January 19, 2013

Commission Col0010871 Assigned. DT NewsI know.

Before you say it, I know.

I could fabricate some kind of glamourous and exciting explanation as to why I have not blogged since forever but I have simply had too much shit going down and I had to deal with each situation in order they came at me and something had to give. That something was my blog. Some of the things I have had to deal with are learning to become a teacher (yes, me), moving house, some heavy personal stuff that I am not willing to share on the public internet stocks and some broken bones. The second half of 2012 was like the audience of Glastonbury. Intense.

But enough of my whining. From what I can glean from the UK media the motherland has had a couple of inches of snow so the whole country has come to a complete standstill and people have started eating their pets and are eyeing up their plumb offspring with hungry, culinary appraisal. We are talking a national crisis here. We are talking provisions, burning your furniture and panic buying of cheap, brittle plastic toboggans.

The other aspect of living in a post-apocalyptic Britain covering in a couple of inches of snow is that you are at sometime going to have to drive somewhere just so you can buy a can of baked beans because you saw your Ocado delivery truck skewered off the side of the road on regional news and feral locals looting your Organic Houmous and Line Caught Tuna Steaks. So, you’re going to have to get into your Ford Focus and, like Scott of the Antarctic, brave the bitter outside world and get to a Tesco Metro (the shame).

After living in Switzerland for three years (oh, how time has flown) I can now – with some confidence – impart some small amount of advice on what I have learnt about driving in the snow. We obviously have a number of advantages over UK citizens in that the Swiss councils plough and grit both the roads and the pavements almost immediately and everyone in Switzerland fits their cars with winter tyres. Most people also travel with some snow chains, a spade and a big bag of salt just in case it all goes Pete Tong. But even without these advantages I can still give some advice. Most of it is common sense, but you might still find some things useful.

Before you set off – Planning is everything

  1. Necessity. Do you actually need to use your car? Can you make your journey on foot? It might be easier, and quicker, to just walk to your destination.
  2. Plan your route. Look on a map (Google maps is great for this) and see where the hills are. Try and stay away from steep hills as the climbing of them is going to be tough and the descent tougher so plan your route via flat terrain. It sounds like an arseache but you won’t be saying that when you retrieve your car from a ditch.
  3. Practice. Try and find a carpark or some area where there is nothing to hit and drive your car around in the snow. See how it reacts to braking and turning. It’s loads of fun and will teach you a lot about how your car handles.
  4. Drivetrain. Find out if your car is a four wheel drive, front wheel drive or rear wheel drive. You’ll probably know if it’s four wheel drive as the car would have cost you loads more and will have some pseudo tough badge on the back saying Allroad, terrainio, ruggedrover or some bollocks. In most instances your car will be front wheel drive and your need to understand how that works – your car will be pulled through the snow and that makes it somewhat predictable. If you have a rear wheel drive (most Mercs, BMWs and sports cars are RWD) then it is really hard to drive in the snow, even with snow tires, because the drivetrain is pushing your car through the snow and this makes it unpredictable. If you have a 4WD then you are at an obvious advantage and if you have a FWD you can cope pretty well…but if you have a RWD I’d recommend staying at home and think about your purchasing decisions, mister.
  5. Check the snow. Is it powdery? That is the result of very cold weather and will probably mean there is a layer of ice underneath and will be very tough to drive on. Is it firm, good snowball making snow? Then it will pack up underneath your car and will be a slippery road surface but is driveable…just. Is it wet? Then it will be mushy and easy to drive in and the weight of your car will push aside most of the snow and is easy to drive in. Also, consider what time of day it is. Midday will be easier than midnight because of the temperature and how this effects the driving conditions.

Driving – Some hints and tips

  1. ESP. Lots of cars come with a system that stops your wheels spinning if you haven’t got grip and so stops the wheel until it has found grip. This is great in the wet but can be a massive hindrance in the snow – so turn it off.
  2. Traction. Snow driving is all about traction and grip. You won’t have much of either so you need to use momentum. You need to build your speed slowly (but don’t go too fast) and try and keep your wheels going around slowly rather than quick or you’ll wheel spin and just dig yourself a hole in the snow that you won’t be able to get out of. Remember: stopping is a bad idea in the snow…and is going fast.
  3. Braking. One of the most common cause of accidents in the snow (even over here) is because of braking. First off, give yourself massive stopping distances from the car in front. Secondly you need to always keep your wheels going around and be in control so try and use your gears to slow down. Pop your car into 2nd gear and coast down a hill (in gear, not with the clutch down!) whilst feathering your brakes lightly to keep your speed down.
  4. Climbing a hill. Inevitably you will encounter some kind of ascent. You need to be aware of when that climb is going to happen because you are not going to be able to climb it with grip so you need to build up some momentum. Try and anticipate how much speed you need to climb the hill with momentum alone and give it tons of welly. You might not make it the first time but you will eventually. If you don’t and you start slipping back down the hill use your accelerator to provide your braking and you can control your backwards descent relatively safely.
  5. Turning. If there is a lot of snow and you need to travel down a twisty road you will, unfortunately, be drifting (to pardon the pun) around the corners. Drifting is when you go side ways and use the throttle to control your speed and angle. The same is when snow driving. When you approach a corner feather the brakes (lots of light dabs on the brake pedal) and start turning into the corner, a bit like you are steering a speedboat). You will feel the back end sliding out from behind you and you should start to just lightly dab the accellerator. This will (in a FWD) pull you around the corner and you’ll straighten out. This is way harder to do in a RWD.

Emergency Measures – If you are stuck somewhere is very deep snow and absolutely have to drive somewhere.

  1. Before you set off. Check you have fuel and a compressor in the back. Most cars don’t have spare wheels anymore and come with a puncture repair kit and an air compressor. If you do then you can let down all four tyres about 50% and this will give your tyres a much wider footprint and thus more grip. You can use the compressor to pump them back up again when you reach somewhere ploughed and gritted (otherwise you’ll damage your tyres).
  2. If you get stuck. You sometimes get stuck and your wheels just keep spinning. Stop or you will just polish the ice. Turn the wheel full lock, both ways, to clear a good area.Find something to dig out as much of the snow as possible (not your hands or fingers because you might clear enough for the car to rock onto them!) and stamp in front of your car to make a nice flat area for your car when you get going. Use the floor mats in your car to position under the driving wheels and turn the handbrake off and push your car onto the mats. You will not be able to drive it. If you can find any material like stones or twigs and leaves and branches you could stamp them into your runway to give yourself a certain amount of initial traction. Get yourself going and if there are two of you you can get the other person to jump out and retrieve the mats because you do not want to stop or the same thing will happen.
  3. Just leave the car. At the end of the day, it’s just a car and you can come and collect it when the roads are better. In the UK that will be sooner rather than later.

‘Lympics

August 3, 2012
200

200 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My usual disclaimer that I have been very busy now has a new variable: I have been glued to the Olympics.

My home town, where I grew up and where I consider my heart will always remain finally got to host The Olympics in my lifetime and I’ve only gone and moved bloody countries. FFS. Furthermore, we applied for lots of tickets and didn’t get a sniff (and we applied for some right random events). We’re only a few days in but here are my observations so far:

Opening ceremony I worried and worried about this (as you can read here) and my expectations were balanced with admission that we didn’t have a lot of money left to splash on it (and we’d have to make it out of old cereal boxes and double-sided sticky tape) and that Danny Boyle – a gifted film maker IMHO – was going to oversee the production. In the end I thought it was original, witty, occasionally funny and sometimes breathtaking. The coming together of the rings in the opening sequence was awesome, I thought. The only things that let it down were the references to Eastenders (really? are we that culturally bankrupt that we have to refer to a fucking soap opera?) and Paul McCartney at the end. I know he’s a legend but if we’re just going to organise a sing-a-long we could have got Chaz’n’Dave for a fraction of the price.

Women’s Football I think the women’s game is a growing sport and will, in the next few years, grow at an incredible rate. The players are getting faster, more technical and dramatically fitter and the game is starting to reflect that. So, why oh why are they stuck out in Wales? If this is the LONDON olympics then why are they shoved off into another city? London has a whole raft of stadiums – big and small – which could be ‘Lymped up no problem (in the pink livery that I think is awesome). Also, they started before the olympics actually started which meant that they missed the opening ceremony and they also don’t get the buzz from the Olympic village and when team GB wins a medal. I dunno, makes me pretty angry. Football generally doesn’t feel part of this olympics…

Archery I have decided that archery is proper fly. The combination of absolute concentration, strength and calm under the highest pressure is just brilliant television. There was one guy who admitted that in practice an hour or so before the final he scored 23 out of 24 bullseyes and the other was a 9 (the ring outside the bullseye) but with the pressure of competition, a packed stand with a few thousand people in it and the rest of the world watching on telly he managed to only (ha!) score around 10 bullseyes. After the hoohah of the ‘lympics has died down I’m gonna get medieval and take up archery and get Robin Hood on everyone. Rio 2016 here I come!!!

Basketball Over here we don’t have the luxury of the ‘red button’ to see all the various feeds the BBC has…so I have been able to only catch a few basketball games but I have been entranced by the USA team. They’re not the tallest team in the world and they seem to take an entire quarter to warm up but once they do they are simply majestic. It’s the speed that they traverse the court and the ruthlessness they punish the teeniest defensive errors that shows how far they are ahead of the rest of the world. James and Bryant are obvious poster boys, but as a team they are just superlative.

Volleyball I’d not really watched volleyball before but I have watched a fair bit now and I love it – it’s like tennis with shitloads of people and floor-shine ninjas who polish the court whenever they get a chance.

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