This is my original blog – all my blogs  since I started in 2009 - are here including those from The Ale Archive – all the beers I’ve sampled at home and on our travels since 2012. The Ale Archive is also on Facebook and Twitter.
Since 2012 most of our travel has involved a caravan. I now have a specific caravanning blog called (Get Your) Legs Down which not only documents all our trips but includes product reviews, site listings, storage locations, mobile service engineers and much more. It too is on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Fit2Go Tyre Pressure Monitoring System

The only part of your vehicle that should intentionally come in to contact with the road is your tyres – and if you take a moment to have a look, it’s a pretty small area that is actually in contact at any one time. To provide the best possible grip combined with handling and economy we demand three things from the tyre - first, the rubber compound is in good condition and not deteriorated through age, second, there is plenty of tread on the tyre, and thirdly, that the tyre is able to perform at it’s best by being inflated to the correct pressure. Step forward, a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System or T.P.M.S.

I would think most people reading this will know of the importance of a correctly inflated tyre, but I’ll re-iterate them anyway, as it fills space – sorry, is an important reminder!

An overinflated tyre will wear prematurely across the main tread area and may be more likely to puncture. An underinflated tyre will not grip properly either and can can overheat, again risking premature failure. That heat comes from somewhere and that somewhere is the engine working harder to propel the car, using more fuel – and costing you money. Now we’re talking! For those who watch the MPG closely – like me – the potential increased running costs – never mind the safety aspects – are a  sobering thought.

Many cars now have an on board monitoring system fitted as standard, but there are also a number of kits available for those of us without and the good folk at Fit2Go were kind enough to send me their kit to have a look at.

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The selling point of this particular product is it’s ease of installation – but we’ve all heard that before. To test their claims we went over to the storage yard last weekend to fit the system to our car and caravan – and filmed it. It really was a simple as they say – I’ll go through the steps below, but you can see our short video here:

Installing the Fit2Go Tyre Pressure Monitoring System

The first thing to do before fitting the kit is to make sure the tyre pressures are correct. This provides a reference point for the sensor.

DSC_0019Then the sensors are added to each wheel, replacing the existing dust cap. An anti-theft locking nut is screwed on first, then the sensor, then the nut is screwed back to the sensor with a nifty little spanner. A red LED flashes as the sensor calibrates to the current pressure of the tyre.DSC_0020

The receiving unit – the part that sits in the car - is solar powered, so there’s no wires to install. It’s the size of an old tax disc and has a self adhesive backing to affix to the windscreen. The unit must be switched on first by using a pen or similar to hold down the small button at the rear – this only needs to be done once – prior to fitting.

And that is it! As I mention in the video, even with checking the tyre pressure it barely took ten minutes – and that included the two wheels on the caravan. So, it was certainly easy fit, but what about operation?

Unlike some monitoring systems the Fit2Go doesn’t indicate actual tyres pressures and temperatures. However what it DOES do is alert you to changes that could potentially be dangerous – high or low pressure and high temperature. There is an additional alert if sudden pressure drop is noted, indicating a serious puncture or similar.

Of course, to truly test if the system was working correctly, what we really needed was a puncture! However, it was fairly easy to simulate by loosening off the sensor on one of the tyre and letting some air out. The LED on the sensor flashed accordingly as did the display in the car.

So, yes it does what it’s supposed to. Simply. And that’s the key with this system – no pairing of sensors with the main unit. So if, for example you change to a twin axle caravan, you just buy another pair of sensors, fit them as described above and off you go. There’s no wiring to hide thanks to the main unit being solar powered. I really liked the fit and forget nature of this product and would certainly recommend it to anyone looking for a Tyre Pressure monitoring System.

Fit2Go have put together some Frequently Answered Questions which you can see HERE

The main kit comes with four tyre sensors and additional sensors can be purchased in packs of two. Remember, you don’t need to program anything, they just pair up automatically.

The Fit2Go TPMS can be bought directly from the manufacturer HERE

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Bristol part 3 - a ship, a flat cap, and more pubs…

Right, following Wednesday nights er, research expedition it was a later start Thursday morning, jumping once again on one of the lovely Bristol Ferries from just outside the back gate of the site.

The destination this time was another Brunel creation, this time the SS Great Britain, now lovingly preserved and sitting in dry dock. Although she started life as an ocean liner, she became a coal transporter and, after a massive fire in 1886, spent some years as a coal bunker in Ports Stanley in The Falkland Islands, before being scuttled and abandoned in 1937.

in 1970, thanks to some considerable donations, she was re-floated, mounted onto a pontoon and towed around 8000 miles back to Britain and Avonmouth docks before being re-floated and towed up the River Avon and returning at last to her home. What a sight that must have been for the gathered crowds, particularly when she passed under the Clifton Suspension Bridge. 

The dockyard is laid out as it would have been back in the day and you are directed first to the dry dock. Below the waterline is now enclosed – and dry thanks to glass plate. Whilst this gives the illusion of the ship still being on water, below it allows a giant dehumidifier to dry the air to help prevent further corrosion the ships hull. It also means you can get right up close to the hull and see the scuttle holes, the repairs to the hull and the giant propeller and rudder.

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The dockyard museum tells the incredible history of the ship – there are some great newsreel clips of her launch and you get to see the documentary showing her return from the South Atlantic to Bristol too. Then it was time at last to go on deck, and how great was that. Isn’t she lovely:

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We had a good look ‘below’ too from the plush public rooms and cabins from first class, the galley, offices and engine room to the rather more pokey steerage class.

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We could have spent a lot longer looking around – and perhaps should have done. At fourteen quid for an adult it’s about the going rate for this sort of thing, but that does allow you to visit again within a year. It’s an excellent attraction. There’s a lot of thought gone into it and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and would love to go again should we find ourselves back in Bristol – and I really hope we do.

Please have a look at the little video I put together of our visit HERE

Next up, was a walk along the harbour side past the Bristol Harbour Railway, replenishing reserves with a cuppa and beans on toast before arriving at the M-Shed, proudly guarded by a line of old dockyard cranes.

The M-Shed is a museum that tells the story of Bristol through three facets – People, Places & Life. It shows how Bristol has grown over the years, it’s contributions to engineering, culture and way of life and also, the slave trade.

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It was pretty hot in there but the balcony provided some fresh air and a good view across to the city too. The exhibits extend outside, with a 1934 fireboat moored alongside a 1935 diesel tug. A steam powered dockside crane can be found in operation at certain times. It’s a worthy addition to Bristol’s museums, although if you’re not a fan of out of control screaming kids you may want to choose when you visit carefully. Having said that it is free, which no doubt helps explain it’s popularity.

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A relatively early night ensued, catching up with our friends Neil & Dave for a quick drink in the evening, ready for our final day in Bristol on Friday.

You can probably guess by now how Friday started. Yes, on a ferry and into the city then heading north and east a little into the old city.

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The indoor market in the old Corn Exchange got a look in and Trev splashed some cash on a flat cap. With the Portly Partner duly attired in said cap we continued our amblings admiring some fine old architecture on the way as well as some of the murals that we remembered from our last visit in 2013. And some new ones.

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Someone on Farcebook had recommended a pub worth visiting. Now I always like to check out peoples’ recommendations, particularly if there’s a pint involved, so check it out we did.DSC_0070

The Bank Tavern sits like a  rose between two thorns and the contrast in architecture with it’s neighbours is stark. It was a welcoming place and a bowl of water was provided for our pals four legged friends. We didn’t get to try the food but what was coming out looked good.

Moving on and back into the heart of the old city, and the St Nicholas Market area, the sight of people queuing for some delicious smelling food in the covered alleyway whetted our appetite, so much so that we stopped, although for something far less exotic. At the pub around the corner – The Crown. The chip butties accompanied the beer perfectly….

DSC_0100We were heading now back now in the general direction of the ferry, but on the way we, yes, you guessed it spotted another pub – The King William Ale House, and it seemed only right to go in and er, admire the architecture Very nice it was too – and equally as welcoming for the pooches.

With a pub next door and more close by it could have easily turned into a pub crawl but good(?) sense prevailed and instead we made our way back to the ferry and thence the site. With most of the packing up done we met up with the guys again for the last supper. They would be staying for another night and we were sorely tempted to do the same – although it’s unlikely a pitch would have been available. So we said our goodbyes and thanked them for helping make it such a great week. We’d had a cracking time and so want to come back soon.

Our trundle home was trouble free – that is until  about half way along the A27, just a few miles from Patsy’s home when some numpty decided it would be a good idea to pull out of a layby straight in front of me. vlcsnap-2017-02-22-13h22m32s721Thankfully, there was nothing in the outside lane, a vehicle having just passed, so I lurched over to the right to avoid a collision. Patsy had a bit of a waggle on the back which wasn’t an enjoyable experience for any of us but the stabiliser soon brought her back into line. The dash cam captured the whole thing and there’s a link to the footage on YouTube HERE. It’s already had a tremendous number of hits – I wish all my videos were as popular as this one!

So, that was Bristol. What a great city. We’re already looking to go again. The site though is extremely popular and very hard to get booked on to for more than a night or two. Moreover, it is under threat – the council wants to redevelop the site but opposition, particularly from local traders who benefit from the money the site brings in, is considerable. I do hope it stays.

Right, there we are. Coming next is our Easter break and once again we’re heading north, so lots to come.

Until then, links to those videos again:

Brandon Hill & Cabot Tower video

An Evening’s ‘Research video

Bristol Harbour video

Patsy’s Places  - Baltic Wharf Caravan site slideshow

‘Approach & Arrive’ to Baltic Wharf video

The S.S Great Britain video

Thanks for reading – and watching,

Rich & Trev

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Bristol part 2 - A hill, a tower and ‘research’

Yes, back again. Hope you enjoyed part one of my blog of our stay in Bristol, at the popular Caravan Club site at Baltic Wharf. It was a busy old week, so much so that I’m now back at home chasing letters around the keyboard in an attempt to commit to hard drive, more of our trip.

After the sunny yet hazy day Monday, the light grey cloud was back on Tuesday, as we once again availed ourselves of the services of the Bristol Ferry from almost right outside the back gate of the site.

The destination this morning – ok, it was nearly lunchtime, we were on holiday after all – was Brandon Hill, just a little to the west of the City nestled below Clifton. There were some lovely views to be had, thanks partially to the tree’s being free of leaves, although again it was a bit hazy. Anyone that watched Skins on Channel 4 here in the UK may already know that a number of scenes were filmed at Brandon Hill. It really is a lovely spot and I would imagine popular in the warmer months with those wishing to escape the office during lunch hour.

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At the summit of the hill is the Cabot Tower. Those who read Part 1 may recall that name. It was named after John Cabot and built in the 1890’s to celebrate the 400th anniversary of his sailing from Bristol to Canada.

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A narrow spiral staircase takes you up eighty-something steps to the first look out points on three sides of the tower. Another twenty or so take you right to the top and you are rewarded with all round stunning views for your efforts, even on a hazy day such as we had. Trev made the climb too, an effort his heart surgeon would have been proud of – and it’s a credit to said surgeon that he could do it at all. Well done both.

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In addition to the photo’s, there is a little video we’ve put together, which can be found on our You Tube Channel, or HERE. It’s worth mentioning that the tower is free – but some may find the stairway a little daunting. It’s worth the effort for the views though.

Our wanderings – after a quick caffeine infusion - took us up and around the leafy  and quiet suburb of Clifton. We covered some of this on our visit back in 2013 but it was good to have another look at the beautiful architecture and wonder at the house prices. I don’t think the Blogger in Black and Portly Partner will be relocating anytime soon!

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Dinner was taken in a different pub – but still only a few minutes walk from the site. The Nova Scotia was still a ‘proper’ pub if you know what I mean. Not an interior designers idea of what a pub should look like. Good honest and tasty pub grub and a selection of real ales made it well worth a visit and it was clearly popular with and well supported by locals too.

Wednesday – as you will have read it part one – was a bit of a wash out weather wise, but it at least meant I could bash one out. I am talking a blog, obviously. By the evening though, having spent all day in the van were were both getting itchy feet, and with the skies now clear, we decided to join our friends in a bit of er, research.

Needless to say, capturing the evening’s activities to memory card wasn’t high on my list of priorities, given the arduous nature of said ‘research’ but we did put together a little video that you can see HERE. All the pubs visited are listed in the description below the video and will be on the Pubs page of the blog soon too.

Whilst we caught, once again, the lovely little Bristol Ferry across to the first research ‘venue’ all can be reached on foot from site with the furthest being around 30 minutes away. It was a great evening.

Ok, a little shorter than planned, but that seems an appropriate point to call a halt to Part 2. There’s plenty more to come though, so come back soon. As always now though, some links:

Brandon Hill & Cabot Tower video

An Evening’s ‘Research video

Bristol Harbour video

Patsy’s Places  - Baltic Wharf Caravan site slideshow

‘Approach & Arrive’ to Baltic Wharf video

Cheers for now

Rich & Trev.

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