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Taken on an iPhone 6, in September 2014, at Dutton Locks, Northwich, Cheshire, looking over the River Weaver.


Mountain stream - Glenridding, Ullswater.

Taken on an iPhone 6, during a short walking holiday in The Lake District, in October.


I think I'm losing the ability to write.

The lead up to Christmas is the period when most people, myself included, pick up a pen and write more than we've probably written all year.

The annual chore of Christmas cards comes close to generating the same level of enthusiasm as completing my tax return - another seasonal necessity.

Throughout the year, I may pick up a pen probably once or twice a week; to sign my name or scribble a short Post-it note to stick on the front door, instructing the postman not to bury the expected package in the garden if nobody answers the doorbell. 

December arrives and boxes of Christmas cards are bought; totally forgetting that I probably still have a dozen or so cards left over from last year, lurking in the bottom of a drawer.

The new cards sit there until the last possible moment, usually the date given by the Post Office for latest guaranteed delivery before the 25th.

Reluctantly I start to scribble the same overly long, vaguely festive message, that I soon realise will take too long if applied to the whole pile of cards - and, to be honest, some of the people due to receive these cards probably wouldn't appreciate anything longer than 'Best Wishes'. 

So, 'Best Wishes' it is.

As I write this, and the usual 'From... etc. etc' I become aware that I'm finding it difficult to form certain characters in my cursive script, particularly the letters e and s. It's a combination of a mental and physical block. The more I think about it, the more difficult it becomes. Cursive soon turns to curses. 

Like most, I learned to write in primary school, far too many years ago. We used to form letters over and over again, then link them together to eventually form a flowing script that was almost as easy as thinking the words onto the paper. Now I'm struggling through lack of regularity to write a simple phrase.

I used to like to write, but now most writing is keyboard generated, be it real or virtual.

In a previous post I wrote about buying a good quality notebook and a fountain pen to rekindle a joy in writing.

The book remains empty, and the ink in the pen has dried up.


Oh well... Best wishes, everyone.


It's been almost a year.

Nearly twelve months ago I posted '2013. Not the best of times...' and subsequently gave up adding anything new to my site.

Over the last few weeks, I've found new interest in it, and have been working on a new design which is almost ready to go live. It is currently at www.disjointedreality.me whilst I test it to make sure everything works, not just on desktop and laptop computers, but also on tablets and smartphones.

Any feedback is very welcome.

Soon I will move the primary domain over to the new layout and start to post new content to it.

I really look forward to welcoming back people who have visited Disjointed Reality in the past, and to any new visitors too.



2013. Not the best of times...

Those who know me, will appreciate what a terrible year 2013 has been. It started with the passing of somebody close, and has ended in much the same way. The months in-between started with hope and promise, but descended into anguish and despair.

It would be unfair and improper; even harmful of me to go into details of events that have occurred during this year, but suffice to say, they have been life changing.

With a year so full of negatives, at least there have been a few positives to ease the way.

Friends and family have been there throughout, though there have been the odd chattering gossip-mongers who really aren’t worth any further time.

This year has brought me closer to my younger sister - we have become friends again. After too many years of very different lives and interests, she has been an enormous support - and, has become a cyclist too. Cycling is one of my great loves and though I don’t currently do enough, and I’m not as fit as I would like to be, or should be - just getting out on the bike, whatever the weather, is immensely satisfying and calming.

Other support has come from unexpected places and from people I know, but yet I don’t know. The strange world of social media. With the Internet, you are never alone. It sounds a bit of a cliché, because it is; but it is an undeniable truth. Whatever level of contact I’ve had on Twitter, in online forums, in comments, exchanges and likes (and dislikes) on the many web based services I use to post my thoughts and ‘creative’ output, and here, on my main site, it has all been welcomed and has all helped.

A rather fragmented, disjointed social circle, but one that has seen me through 2013.

In a way, my disjointed reality.

Thank you.

Very best wishes to everybody, for a happy and successful 2014.


The great spare wheel scam.

When you buy a car, it comes with four wheels and a spare - well, not always.

Space saver wheels and tyres have been with us for many years now. In an attempt to cut weight to increase fuel efficiency, the spare wheel was an easy target. With a certain amount of grumbling, we accepted it as a compromise as fuel costs rose. After all, it still works as a spare wheel, even if it is only a 'get you home’ solution. Of course, there will always be those who drive around at normal road speeds and above, for weeks on end; taking little or no notice of the limitations of the space saver.
From the manufacturer's point of view, the space saver is also a money saver. A car equipped with a set of decent alloy wheels with high rated road tyres is then supplied with a narrow steel rim and a deep section general purpose tyre. The rim will invariably be smaller than the main wheels on the car and the tyre will be of a depth to make the rolling diameter the same as the original wheels. This enables further cost savings as one size fits many vehicles.
More recently, in further efforts to meet even stricter fuel efficiency targets, manufacturers are opting for the no spare wheel option. This solution varies across the industry, but generally comprises some sort of repair kit, intended to get you home. The kit provides a method of injecting a sealant into the damaged tyre, hopefully to seal the damage and allow you to re-inflate the tyre. Of course the scenarios under which this will work, are limited. It may be okay if you have a straight forward puncture, but it certainly won't work on cut tyre damage or damaged rims. Even with minor tyre damage, the repair techniques are often beyond the comprehension of the majority of motorists. No doubt this will be the first time many of them look into the car boot and think "where the hell is my spare wheel?".
Motor rescue services like The AA and RAC have reported huge increases in call outs for people with tyre and wheel damage. Frequently the only course of action is to return the car to home, on a trailer.
I started to write this post around the time my wife bought a new Honda. Unhappy with the goo injection kit supplied, she contacted the Honda dealer to order a spare wheel. “£285”, they said. Our response was one of disbelief. I know main dealers rely heavily on up-sell of accessories and extras, but really… £285 for a steel rim and a utility tyre?
Reluctantly, my wife agreed and placed her order. We did look at third party suppliers on sites like ebay, for compatible wheels, but felt, as it was a new car, we should have the correct wheel and tyre for the vehicle.
When the wheel arrived, we were surprised to be presented with a huge box, containing not just the wheel, but also a large high density polystyrene boot sub-floor insert, a fixing bolt and washer and a completely new carpeted boot floor. Everything, except for the fixing bolt and washer is totally unnecessary, and now sits in our loft, waiting to be passed on to future owner of the car, when we eventually sell it.
If we had known that we were going to be paying for all this stuff, we would probably have chanced a third party wheel from ebay after all.


Buttercup meadow.

A quick walk, close to home, during my lunch break.

The image can be seen at full size in my 500px and Flickr galleries.


Spring meadow.

An image captured during a walk on Saturday, close to Denbigh, in North Wales.


SMS to a land line? No thanks.

I recently bought a pair of Seimens Gigaset cordless DECT phones for my home office, and I'm very pleased with them. However, a couple of nights ago, whilst going through all of the features and functions available, I made the mistake of experimenting with SMS. I've never had a text enabled home phone before, so I assumed it would be just the same as on my mobile - I was wrong.

At about 10:30 pm I sent a test text from the home phone to my mobile. It was a little slow, but after about a minute it arrived. I assumed that this was because, as it was the first SMS sent on the landline, the network provider needed to activate the service.

I then sent a reply, just to confirm everything worked both ways. This is when things started to go wrong. The phones rang and when I picked up, there was an automated voice message telling me I had received a text, then reading it to me. This, apparently is because the phone is incapable of displaying a SMS message, though I can't understand why, as it has a large, full colour touch screen.

I checked the number that the recorded message had come from, which was an 0800 number, and discovered that it was an auto responder number from BT (British Telecom). I decided that I had no desire to have notifications like that again, so, using another function on the new phone, I set a block against that number.

Half an hour later, the phones rang again. It was the same auto responder message from the same (now blocked) number.

A little research online confirmed that it is possible to block these calls by contacting BT, but BT Customer Services were unable to help in my case, because, although they provide the infrastructure and line, I pay my bills to a third party - Plusnet.

At 11:50 pm, the phone rang again. This time there was no recorded message, it simply went dead within seconds of answering. The call was from the same number though.

I delved deeper into consumer forums and discovered that by default, this 'service' is set not to call between 11pm and 8am, though this was clearly incorrect. A number was given, to call to modify the settings, but this number turned out to be inactive.

At about 12:30 am, after receiving yet another notification call, I discovered the solution.

Dial 0800 587 5252 > 5 > 2. There is then a recorded message to say that an opt out will be activated within twenty minutes.

So far, I've not had any more calls; but I certainly won't be using the phone again for SMS messages.


Take a note of this number. If you are in the UK, and have a SMS enabled home phone, you may just need it.


Oh... Brother!

I've written before about the ups and downs of self employment, the concerns about keeping a regular flow of work, the sense of dread when everything seems to be slowing down, then the elation when everything starts to pick up again - as it always does.

I never tire of the feeling of satisfaction in doing a job well and not only being paid for it, but also being praised and valued for my work. For far too long I was a corporate drone, taking home my monthly salary but getting little appreciation for the work I did. It always appeared to me that there was a fear of praise, because that might possibly encourage the employee to ask for more money or increased status. Now, I do a good job and people genuinely appreciate what I do.

Every now and again I'm surprised by my customer's appreciation, and last week was one of those occasions. One of them called to invite me to look at a couple of jobs, and in conversation asked me if I would like their old printer, as they were getting a replacement. I recalled having seen it when I had re-fitted their home office last year and knew that it was an all in one A3 printer, copier, scanner and for what it's worth, fax.

I said that I was interested and when, a week later I arrived at their home, I was presented with a Brother MFC-J6910DW in immaculate condition.

When I got it home and linked it to my WiFi network I was even more surprised to find just how easy it was to set up and the depth of functionality it had. There was no installation process to go through, the drivers were already in place. It uses Apple's AirPrint which is great for wireless printing from mobile devices on the network. I use Printopia to achieve this with my large format Epson Photo and GCC laser printers.

The implementation of AirPrint means that the printer is not much more than 6 months old, and when I delved into the settings and specs of the machine, I discovered that it has only printed just over 130 pages from new. The ink cartridges are still about 75% full.

It's going to be a hugely beneficial addition to my home office, even if I don't use the fax.

I've since discovered that there is an iOS app from Brother which adds further functionality to printing and scanning when using my iPhone and iPad, although the app design is poorly implemented.


My customer refused to accept anything for the printer, but I have since made an appropriate gesture of my appreciation.