Sunday, 24 June 2007

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2007

Alison and I spent a great day out yesterday at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Here are some of the highlights....

Colin McRae Rally 2007
Colin McRae was on form showing off to the crowds. We had him doing doughnuts up the hill climb course and bombing around the Goodwood Forest Rally Course. As you can see below, Colin certainly likes to show off for the cameras :-)

2007 Subaru Impreza WRC, originally uploaded by xrrr.

Porsche Driving Experience

We queued for about an hour to have a passenger ride in a Porsche Cayenne S being blasted around a muddy field. It was one of the brand new ones with 4.8 litre V8 engines. We were only out for about 10 minutes being driven around by a Porsche driver but it was well worth the wait. Before we started on the track I said to the driver that I can't imagine spending £70,000 on a car then risking the paintwork blasting around a field. Within 10 seconds of going sideways all 4 wheels spinning in a semi controlled power slide I changed my mind. Everyone who owns an SUV absolutely must do this at least once!

2007 Porsche Cayenne S, originally uploaded by xrrr.

Car Exhibitions
In between sitting and watching the cars going up the hill climb we went for a stroll around the car manufacturers stands. Lamborghini had the fantastic Lamborghini Murcielago LP640. It looks bloody amazing when parked up in the show room and I know I would feel a right cock driving it around Guildford. However, if I could afford to buy one I would be parking it somewhere where I would not feel like a show off. Monte Carlo maybe?

2007 Lamborghini Murcielago LP640, originally uploaded by xrrr.

Audi had the amazing new A8. Lots of carbon fibre, a bit like a TT on the inside but still bloody amazing looking.

2007 Audi R8, originally uploaded by xrrr.

Mercedes were showing off the new soft top version of the SLR called the Mercedes Benz McLaren SLR Roadster. Price is currently TBC but the normal SLR is around £300,000 so I can only imagine this is going to be more. I think I would rather have the Lambo to be honest.

And Then It Rained
Just as the Red Arrows were about to start their display the heavens opened. Fortunately Alison and I were in the grandstand a few rows back. I had left the umbrella at home so it was a good job we were under cover! 25 minutes earlier we were picnicking by the car so it was a flipping good job it did not start then as otherwise we would have been trapped in the car :-)

Goodwood but not Goodweather, originally uploaded by xrrr.

At the end of the day we were walking back past the Porsche driving experience after a thunderous deluge and an afternoon of showers and came across the Cayennes we were in at the start of the day when it was dry. Now that is a dirty car!

2007 Porsche Cayenne S, originally uploaded by xrrr.

All in all a fantastic day out despite the weather!

[All Photos]

The White Elephant

Day 330 - Before the apocalypse, originally uploaded by xrrr.

Our crappy summerhouse is jinxed! I put it on eBay last week and it sold for £45! Great I thought, someone is going to come and collect it and pay for the pleasure of taking it away. Or so I thought.

The winning bidder was supposed to come on Saturday but went AWOL. She stopped answering her emails and the number registered on eBay was disconnected so I was stuck.

Mindful of the fact that the builder is starting work on our garden and patio on Monday I need to make sure that the summer house is gone.

The buyer finally replied to my email on Monday afternoon with some excuse about not being able to borrow their boss's van after all. Rubbish.

So I hit the internet. Emailed all the other bidders and put an advert on Freecycle. I had an email within 3 minutes offering to come and collect the following evening. Fantastic. Or so I thought.

15 minutes later I received a phone call from one of the other bidders offering to drive from Wells to Guildford to come and collect and pay me the same price as the other winning bidder! I had to turn them down because I had already accepted the other (for free) offer.

The next morning I contacted the Freecycler to double check arrangements and she told me that after thinking about it that it was going to be too much of a rush and was not going to bother. I was not impressed. I mentioned the turned down offer and laid on the guilt. She agreed to send her husband round that very evening.

The chap turned up and I thought I was going to be lucky. He told me he used to be a set builder for the BBC so I thought we would have things down in a jiffy. Or so I thought.

Turns out the "crappy" summerhouse was not so crappy after all. It was very well built. It took us 2 hours just to rip out the internal panels and take off the doors. Leaving us with this progress:

Day 349: Going..., originally uploaded by xrrr.

Depressed at our lack of progress I told the guy that I would not mind if he did not come back the next day. That chap remained optimistic and said he was going to come back the next day with his teenage son to carry on with the demolition. A quick remaining job then. Or so I thought.

The next morning I got an email from the Freecycler saying that she had discussed it with her husband and they decided not to continue and would not be coming back. In other words she talked him out of it! I am not surprised to be honest.

When I got home I had a go at removing all the plastic and the glass from the windows. After 2 hours of (quite fun) demolition work I ended up with:

Day 350: ...Going..., originally uploaded by xrrr.

At this point I had to stop because there was too much junk in the way. I called a rubbish collector guy and told him the situation and he offered to take the junk and dismantle the rest for me. Great no more work for me. Or so I thought.

The man with the van quoted £350 to demolish the rest and take it away. That sounded a bit steep so I asked him to just take the stuff for the skip and I will do the rest.

I phoned my mate Rob and we agreed to have a go today at taking down the rest. I am not surprised the guy quoted £350 as it took us almost 5 hours to cut down and break up the roof and frame.

Because we did not have a skip or a van we (Rob mainly) had to chop up the wooden blocks to make them fit into the car.

I made 3 trips to the skip with Alison's car literally crammed with stuff each time. The boot was full floor to ceiling and the passenger seat was pushed forward to get even more space. It is amazing how much stuff you can fit into a Ford Ka!

Day 353: ...Going..., originally uploaded by xrrr.

Unfortunately I ran out of time before the skip closed and still have about 2-3 car loads of stuff to take. Hopefully the builder who starts the garden work tomorrow will let me put the stuff in his skip rather than me going to the skip another 2 or 3 times.

The site is now cleared, and the White Elephant is no more! Hurrah!

Day 353: ...Gone!, originally uploaded by xrrr.

At least now we can see out of our dining room window:

Day 345, originally uploaded by xrrr.

Fine Art

Las Vegas Strip, originally uploaded by xrrr.

Last week I got contacted by artist Fabrice Spies who creates photo realistic paintings of photographs. He wants to use this photo for his next piece! How cool is that?! I had to sign away any claims of royalties for his picture but I do get a signed print out of it. The stuff he has done to date looks really good so I look forward to seeing it when it is done!

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Smart Design

Smart!, originally uploaded by xrrr.

Alison bought be some Smarties today as a reward for doing some gardening. I have not had Smarties for ages and the last time I had them they still had the plastic lids with a letter on the back.

Initially I was disappointed that something from my youth was out of date and then I examined the new lid. It is an incredible design!

Why? The overall cleverness of it that is why. The entire tube is made up from a single piece of cut card, nothing unusual there, but the lid design is the bit I love.

The secret is that "lip" that sticks out of the top of the tube. On the bottom side of the main tube in my photo above.

The lip does 2 things:
1) Inside the lid there is a bit of glued cardboard. That provides the structure for the lid and keeps it rigid. The lip is just the right size and shape that when you press the lid down the lip 'clicks' into the glued cardboard with a satisfying click. The lid is now held reasonably secure by the lip.

2) When you want to open the Smarties the lip acts as a spring. So as you push with your thumb there is a bit of resistance, then sudenly the lip pops up propelled by the little lip.

It might not sound like much but I think it is amazing industrial design and a great example of "keep it simple" engineering.

Well it is worth a try!

Well it is worth a try!, originally uploaded by xrrr.

We have an old uPVC Summer House in our garden that we were planning to put in a skip. Our builder suggested that someone might want it so I have put it on eBay for £1.

I very much doubt that anyone will want it but you never know....


Thursday, 7 June 2007

Visit to Concorde & Mercedes-Benz World at Brooklands

Last night Jon and I went to an IET lecture at Brooklands. I have not been to Brooklands for years but was impressed by the changes.

The two biggest changes were Concorde and the Mercedes-Benz super-dealership.
Concorde, originally uploaded by xrrr.

The Concorde is fantastic. It is the first ever production spec Concorde to be flown in britain and only the third ever built. This particular Concorde never actually made it into commercial service and was used by BA for spare parts. When Concorde services stopped, BA gave the Concorde to Brooklands. The entire nose section of all Concordes (English or French) were built in Brooklands along with the tail section.

From the outside the plane still looks futuristic and I cannot believe how it must have looked in the 1970s. It is a shame that it no longer flies.

The IET lecture was from Christopher Orlebar, an ex BA Concorde pilot and author of "The Concorde Story". He was funny and had a really interesting talk about the history of Concorde and how it works.

The second part of the lecture was from David MacKay a pilot at Virgin Atlantic and soon to be a pilot at Virgin Galactic. Lucky man! The talk was perhaps a little less technical than I hoped. There was little content of the science and it was mostly an advert for the spaceline service. How long will it be before "Spaceline" and "Spaceport" are as common (or even replace) "Airline" and "Airport"?


Virgin Galactic looks fan-bloody-tastic! You get to fly into space, experience weightlessness for around 5 minutes and get the most amazing view of the planet all for a mere $200,000. The experience is so intense that you have 3 days of training before you get to go on the spaceship.

It is incredible to believe that in around 3 years time we will be able to experience commercial space flight. I am hoping that the cost comes down quickly because I want in!

They are already talking about point to point travel via space between 2 points on Earth in two hours. London to Vegas in 2 hours! Cool.

Lastly a word about the venue, Mercedes-Benz world. Wow.
Mercedes-Benz World
Mercedes-Benz World, originally uploaded by xrrr.

It is a three story mega-dealership with 3 floors of EVERY production Mercedes-Benz car you can buy today including the SLR and Maybach plus a fair sprinkling of classics too. There must have been around £10,000,000 worth of vehicles in that building. You can sit in the cars and do anything other than drive them. If you want a drive, then there is also a test track that you can pay to test the cars on. Wow. I wish BMW would open one up nearby too!

2007 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren x7
2007 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren x7, originally uploaded by xrrr.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

New wish list item

Rhinefield House Hotel
Rhinefield House Hotel, originally uploaded by xrrr.

We were driving in the New Forest today as we were in the area dropping off something I sold off ebay and saw this place from the road. We stopped off for a quick look. Very nice looking hotel. Unfortunataly based on its website I don't think we will be staying there any time soon. A bit pricey!


I came across this pretty good info site called flickrInspector. It summarises your flickr account (public pages only) and presents it in a swish interface. The search section is quite interesting. It allows you to find where your photos have been used elsewhere.

For instance this picture:

10 Year Pen, originally uploaded by xrrr.

Turned up in this collage:

Good stuff. That is what creative commons is all about.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Funny light

Warren Hill, originally uploaded by xrrr.

I am still trying to suss out the best way to take good photos in light that is not full sun. This one was taken with my tripod and then tweaked in Adobe Lightroom to attempt to bring out the colours a bit more. It still looks a bit flat though.

I bought Understanding Exposure a couple of weeks ago and am trying to make sense of all of the variour techniques. Good book by the way.