Who’s a lazy blogger then, Oh its me? Nowt from me since January, but I have had a lot of personal stuff going on. In and out of hospital so often they have given me free parking pass which is nice, and as I Blogg I am waiting for a date to go in and have “major surgery” so they tell me with glee. They give me the impression that they cannot wait to knock me out and get started, with their new bit of kit to do their “robotic surgery”. Ah well Hey Ho one day at a time. I just hope they practice using with it first. Anyway, enough about me, how have you all been then my muddy chums? It’s gone a bit Bodmin, as they say down in Cornwall at the Happy Valley off road site that I manage in Kent. A few months ago, we were thinking of packing it in with just a few rocking up for a day out with us, but now we have over 300 members on our Facebook page. We can now have a tea/burger wagon on site, so it’s a good day out with our friends. On most sites it is very weather reliant as to what members can expect when they show up for the day. As the name suggests mine is one side of a valley, and the whole site slopes away with varying degrees of difficulty to drive up them again. Me and the team are always on hand to help and advise, and to help drivers that have lost traction. But it amazes us all after we have given so much advice on how to deal with a failed hill-climb, just how many still go back down under braking, instead of selecting reverse gear.
BAD MANNERS (who remembers Buster Bloodvessel?)
I am talking about bad road manners and it seems to me it’s getting worse every day. It is very frustrating driving around where I live with pinches with no give way signs on one of the entries to traffic. So, it’s the more aggressive driver who comes up fast and makes you pull over and give way. These idiots put this down in their peanut brains as a win against you. They drive off laughing, while you must swallow your angst and drive on. Within one and half miles from my front door there are 90 lumps of concrete now in the estate roads, so called sleeping policemen. All these things make drivers angry, and as any sane person knows this is not cool, driving whilst you are angry. My favourite moan is drivers who don’t seem to know how to negotiate roundabouts. Its very simple give way to traffic coming from your right. I bet all of you have had drivers pull out from your left as you have moved forward on a roundabout at some time. I am a keen mountain bike rider, and when I am out on the roads to get to the tracks and the woods, that is when you really notice the decline in dangerous driving and bad road manners. I was on my way home the other day after a 16-mile ride and I nearly got took out twice in a couple of minutes. I was on a cycle/pedestrian pathway and I came to a local shipping port and a hotel/supermarket complex. I came to the pedestrian crossing and there were 2 loaded trucks waiting to get out of the dock. On the pole opposite was a green light for me to pedal across. The light for the trucks must have gone amber and the driver of the far lorry drove into me, and I just made the pathway in time. It was a bit of a shock I can tell you, 60 odd tons bearing down on me. 25 yards further on another crossing and again I have a green light to cross over. The traffic is now coming to turn left behind over my right shoulder on a red light. Yet again as I pedalled forward this twat in a G4s van collecting money from a Tesco Metro beeped his horn and drove at me. This is enough about this, so I won’t bother to tell you about the idiot in a transit truck that came haring up behind me and Hazel and proceeded to drive almost on my bumper flashing his lights in anger in anger as he couldn’t pass me (not my fault). He actually tried to follow me all the way home to confront me I suppose, which would have been a big mistake for him. It really is getting bad out there people.
Apart from when I am at Happy Valley, I don’t get to do much off road driving lately. We have a turn around the site when we turn up before we unlock and set up etc and that’s about it. I am going to Salisbury Plain in a few days though for a break with some of my chums. I always go on line and check about possible military manoeuvres on the Plain before we set off from Kent. That way we can avoid any area where the chaps are out playing their games bless them, getting tuned up for possible deployment.
The Home Fleet
They say pride comes before a fall so with digits crossed, I will say my old Discovery 2 TD5 is going well, and our new posh car to take Mrs T shopping etc, my Ford Edge so far has been faultless. It has just passed 3,850 miles and has had its first service. The service at the Ford dealership for oil and filter change, as well as cabin filter and general look around was way too expensive, way over £200. So, I went to a local all makes service MOT garage near me. They said they would do the same service procedure, using all Ford approved parts and oil, and staple the receipt for Ford parts to my bill for proof, stamp my service book and it saved me £75. All in all, a bit of a right touch. 75 quid an evening out with Mrs T thank you very much. I have a couple of jobs to get around to on the D2. I have yet to fit a new tow 7 pin electric socket for towing, and I need to straighten the rear heavy-duty bumper as it sags down a bit on the offside. This was after a did a recovery for one of the chaps towing him home on my straight heavy steel tow tube. I hooked him up to a strong U bracket welded into the bumper on the offside and as I braked the slack in the tow pole shackle kept banging into the bumper and sagged it. I’m sure I can fix it, just got to whip it off to sort it sometime, and probably give it another lick of Hammerite whilst it’s out.
Dash It All, Jeeves
So, what do you think of these dashcams then? I must say I have one in each car. I got them after some of the appalling things and bad behaviour I saw posted on social media/Facebook. I suppose we install them so that if we are involved in an accident, we can take the evidence to the police station or a solicitor/insurer as proof. On doing a check though it seems that not all police authorities have signed up to say that they would be willing to help you and prosecute with your dashcam evidence. Only 16 of the regional police forces in England and Wales of the 43 forces have signed up to the Nextbase Portal (whatever that is). The rest are not taking dashcam evidence. I followed some correspondence sent in by readers about this issue in a magazine sent to me. One correspondent wrote that although he lives in one of the areas where the police force doesn’t prosecute using dashcam evidence, when he showed it to the attending officer, he was so appalled by the other driver’s dangerous behaviour that it led to a successful prosecution anyway. Then another wrote in to say that we are turning into a nation of informers and grassing people up. He found it depressing and he asked” what sort of society are we creating with this”? I though that was a bit strong, but there you go playmates, we all have our opinions.
For many years I contributed to off road magazines as a photo journalist until I decided to call it a day a few years ago now. Every now and then a few kind people say they miss my articles and the monthly column that was in one of the magazines, which is nice of them. I got rid of all my high-end cameras and lenses I used to lug around to do photo shoots, and to spark up my enthusiasm for photography again I had a big change to movie cameras. I got a lovely piece of kit a used CanonXC10 which takes films and stills in 4K which is TV quality as well as MP4 which is Ok for Facebook etc. I sold on my Go Pros and my friend Nicholas Thomas Alexander Enston who is a top photographer, advised me to go for my Sony Action Camera which is a little peach of a thing. Small light and unbelievable results. Even better now that I have stopped the wind noise as I ride along with it on my mountain bike handlebars. I started to miss just an ordinary camera though, so another great photographer friend Paul Sparham suggested my Panasonic Lumix bridge camera to me which means it’s not point and shoot or an expensive top end camera it is in between the two hence a bridge camera, and I love it.
Occasionally I get asked why I stopped doing journalism. The reason is that over the years I developed a style of writing, and I know that the readers liked it, because the magazine did a reader’s survey and to my surprise, I was told that I came top as the journalist they like to read best. My idea was to try to be a bit matey, just a bloke like a lot of the readers. I didn’t have much money and it was a struggle to keep my old Land Rovers going. I tried to be somewhat amusing as let’s face it what a lot of us do is a bit mad. We polish our 4X4s and fettle them, and then every now and then we go and get them covered in mud and crap driving off the road, and potentially they can get trashed and broken.
I’ve kept quiet about my reasons for quitting until now, but it was due to sub- editing or as I call it “re-writing my words/text that I submitted so I didn’t sound like me anymore”. A lot of my regular readers noticed it, and a few asked me if I had swallowed a dictionary or taken some sort of dodgy English Lit course. I know and appreciate that a lot of my writing aint right. There you go there’s some more, no such word as aint. I know about correct text, verbs, adjectives, nouns the whole lot, but try as I might I could never get the magazine staff to stop murdering my submissions and for them to accept my matey off the wall style. I used to send photos and text off and then wait with bated breath for the next issue to plop on the mat. In the early days I used to read it voraciously every page, but in the end, I used to dread opening the pages to anything I had submitted, as It just wasn’t written by me. It was heart breaking and put me in a bad mood and made me very unhappy. I used to throw the magazines out for recycling. I will give you some examples. I went as a crew to the Scottish Hill Rally in the loaded service barge with my mate Dean Cowcher. When the magazine arrived, they changed that to Dean Coucher all thru the article. Did they seriously think that I didn’t know my pals name? Then one day I got a call from a lady with a little wee voice saying, “when are you going to send your next column in so that I can sub edit it”? I pointed out that I had a few days to deadline, but I said if she gave me a few minutes I would re-read and send it for her. I rang and said it was on its way and I surmised this young lady with the soft voice worked at the magazine. I asked if she was coming to Billing with the magazine staff, and that if she did, I would show her the off-road course and let her have a drive around in my Land Rover thinking she was a new member of staff a motoring journalist. She said she never had a licence and she was only 15 years old on day release from school to get work experience. I was gob smacked. At the time I was about 20 odd years into my journo career around 50 years old, and the magazine editor wanted this 15-year-old to correct and possibly re-write my text. Looking back, I should have left then.
Another one was when I was writing about rear view mirrors and I mentioned on a Chevrolet Corvette that I had been driving recently had the legend “objects in the rear-view mirror may appear closer than they are” engraved on the rear views. Oh no not grammatically correct Charlie lad. When the mag came “objects in the rear-view mirror may be closer than they seem”. The sub had never heard of the multimillion zillion selling album by Meatloaf Bat Out of Hell, I can hear him singing that line now in that song over and over again. Another one and this one’s a doozy, and the original text is on the article Grumpy’s Toy I submitted and you can see it on my website at charliethorn.org. The opening line I sent in reads thus. “When someone told me that I really ought to go over the water to Essex and meet Grumpy and take a gander at his Range Rover I didn’t know whether to take a baseball bat with me or to go with a smile on me face carrying a generous gift for the feller. Anyway, when I got there and met up with Jon Norman and after extricating my crumbling hand from his big fist after a real manly handshake John Wayne would have been proud of, I was glad to see a big smile spread all over his face”. This is I would say was typical Charlie banter, funny and friendly, harmless, just what my readers expected of me. Oooh no we can’t have that. The article printed just read something like I went to Essex to meet Jon Norman. However, that article Grumpys Toy one of my photos was on the front cover and it sold out and there were no returns from retail or wholesalers. So that was cool, and I was pleased. But when you’ve slaved over text to make something as mundane as looking at a blokes LR and taking shots and talking to him and you come up with witticisms to ramp it up, it just used to do my head in when stuff was wiped out.
I honestly feel much happier now. Ok I haven’t got such a big place to voice my opinions anymore, and there are not so many bells ringing in my belfry, and I have the retention skills of an amnesiac goldfish, but as long as a few of you read this from time to time it makes me so happy I could kiss a porcupine for you all. Before, waiting for the next issue to come back then, it was like going for a bit of a swim knowing there’s a shark out there somewhere but you’re not sure where the bastard is. Time to say cheerio my good friends so as the man said as, he jumped off the Post Office Tower to a resident on the first floor “SO FAR SO GOOD”.