What is the hype about hybrid cars

98FA74BD-8B07-4756-AE55-0B27FB00D24FI recently sold my 4 year old Volvo V60 because the environmentalist at the EU decided that modern diesel cars have to have very strict catalytic converters. So if you drive under 100 miles a day on motorways you will need to have your injector/squirty bits de-coaked every six months. That is a real pain in the backside as, if you ignore the warning light, it cripples the engine performance so you end up driving to the dealership at 4mph like Mr Magoo.

So given the bad PR about diesel engines recently, I decided to ditch diesel and get proper environment-wrecking petrol engine plus a some high-tec bits and I chose a Lexus NX. This is a hybrid SUV filled to the brim with wonderful but unnecessary technology.

If you remember the ghetto blasters of the 1980’s and imagine giving one to a child and telling them to use that to design a car; you would end up with the Lexus NX.

So let’s start with hybrid. Why would you want a car that is part electric and part petrol? It might be emissions and tree hugging or it might be fuel economy. The Lexus delivers neither. Emissions are 5 CO2 (Grams per km) worse than the Volvo and the fuel efficiency is 47 mpg for the Volvo vs. 36 mpg for the Lexus. Also on pure electric only the range is 1km. A distance shorter than I can run with a hangover.

So why bother?

Initially I was very sceptical and when you read the Lexus website it doesn’t promise fuel efficiently or environmentalism. Rather it offers quiet. I agree this car is staggeringly quiet. Not why I bought it, but a very pleasant byproduct.

So the promise of hybrid is protecting the environment and fuel savings but the Lexus does neither.

Why do I like it?

The satnav system is pretty good, not Google Maps good obviously but designed by someone who has actually driven a car. The rest of the in-car ‘infotainment system’ has been designed by a man who still uses of a Nokia candy bar phone and dreams of seeing his first smart phone. Tip for Lexus engineers. Go to Silicon Valley for three months and learn about interface design.

But I like tech. The hybrid system is useless, the fuel economy sucks like an old hoover but why do I love the car?

It is designed for those who want to travel in extreme comfort and who don’t care about money. I bought a second hand one but the list price is £39,000, so not for everyone.

The SatNav is good, the audio immaculate, the toys first class. My advice is to turn the stupid voice navigation off (if you can find the setting) and enjoy the wonderful ride and the 1km electric range which is rubbish.

Oddly, I’m very happy with it.

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Lumiere London 2018

Lumiere is a wonderful idea where light sculptures and installations are shown in towns and cities, free of charge. This year Lumiere returned to London and Elly and I went.

London Lumiere 2018-3There were about 50 pieces on display from Kings Cross to Mayfair, West End, Fitzrovia and the South Bank. It was a joyful evening in some ways like a firework display for adults and the atmosphere was glorious; happy people strolling around in the dark enjoying culture. It was brilliantly organised with enough stewards to stop you getting lost and more than anything it was a celebration of confidence and style.

London felt like a world-class city putting on something for those who live there and visitors like us. Hats off to the Mayor of London for organising the event – first class.

London Lumiere 2018
A nightingale sang………

We started in Berkeley Square where a single huge nightingale was perched on a tree and speakers softly played ‘A nightingale sand in Berekely Square’. It sounds corny but it was magical. Elly and I sat on a park bench and remembered a Berkeley Square Ball we went to in the 1980s.

Then we headed for Mount Street and up to Grosvenor Square, by the now disused American Embassy, before grabbing a cab to Regent Street and the Cafe Royal where we stopped for a cocktail and a chance to warm up.

Like any art gallery, not every installation was jaw-droppingly amazing. Some were and some certainly were not. Northern Lights in Grosvenor Gardens while massive was dwarfed by the space it was in. The projected foot on the side of the Haward Gallery was just a bit rubbish.

Then onto the South Bank and some less impressive displays before catching our train home. It was a wonderful reminder of what a great city London is and the value of publically provided art.

London Lumiere 2018-6
Elly as the Angel of the South

 

London Lumiere 2018-4
Trafalgar Square

 

Kingman Golden Circle: A train wreck and a tragedy

D37F52BD-63A3-456F-85E1-2836F6F77847The first Kingman film, Kingman:The Secret Service was unusual, funny and rather charming. Impossible special effects with some wry British acting. The second film Kingman The Golden Circle is a train wreck and a tragedy.

In this film the 300 executive producers decided that being too British was a liability and so they needed to fill the cast with Americans, supermodels and sexy older actresses to appeal to the older males audience (like me) and then bring in (dreadful) cameo performances from the likes of Elton John.

The result was that this elite British spy network, Kingsman, relies (yet again) on the Yanks to save their arses. It was very sad and lacked that suave quality of the original. Julianne Moore as the evil baddie was phoning it in and Colin Firth was counting the money live on screen to me. Also I stopped thinking the word “fuck” was shocking or avant garden when I was 14 so why does every character have to say it 15 times in the movie. Finally, why does the lead Taron Everton have to pretend to be a Chicago home-boy, he was from South London and sounds like a dick.

If there is a third one I won’t be watching it.

 

A Christmas dog’s dinner

I love animals but you can have too much of a good thing. Take our Christmas lunch at Stanwell House, a lovely boutique hotel in Lymington.

We booked a table in the conservatory hoping to enjoy the last of the pale December light over a Christmas lunch. What we hadn’t bargained for were the dogs. Out of ten tables, five had dogs ranging from the small quail sized Yorkshire terrier to the more meaty Cockerpoo. The problem initially wasn’t the dogs but their owners.

The humans had dressed their dogs up in everything from a stout Christmas lead to a frankly insulting Santa hat for the Yorkshire terrier. It was the behaviour of the owners that was the most revolting. They all seemed to think they had brought human grandchildren to lunch so they spoke baby talk to the dogs and fussed over them constantly.

Things came to a head; or should I say bottom, when one of the dogs took a dump on the restaurant floor. The smell of dog poo is bad enough but mixed with Brussel sprouts simply indescribable.

Thankfully, a waiter saved us and moved us to another room in the restaurant where adults were enjoying lunch, free of dogs.

 

A Facebook cesspit and the joy of leaving it

My home town of Lymington has a Facebook group called Lymington Rumour Control. This was set up to be the village pump, a place where wit and humour could flourish as local residents share useful and humourous news about our town.

Sadly, it degenerated into a playground for the terminally sanctimonious and the meeting ground for the staggeringly self-opinionated.

It was also the home of lazy sods asking the same questions like “can any one recommend a dentist/hairdresser/vet/tyre repair shop within 200 miles of Lymington “. There is a service on the Internet called Google you lazy bastards.

Lymington Rumour Control is now filled with tragic locals whinging on about parking, cyclist, litter, donkeys, parking, and puddles or pot holes…… and parking.

I began to hate the town I love.

It was like a never ending chorus of that Internet trope “what about the little children”; a self-righteous maelstrom of poorly spelled and inarticulate spleen-venting.

So I unsubscribed from the toxic hellstew that is Lymington Rumour Control and I now I love my town again.

I can see clearly now

4ABADF5E-5F1E-40FA-B7C5-FC90C99A559DSomewhere in the Eighties the National Health Service was partially privatised. By which I mean dentists and opticians. Neither of the changes are welcomed as a trip to the dentist now costs three figures and anything above the most basic scale and polish means selling a kidney.

By my rant today isn’t about dentists but rather opticians. In my hometown, Lymington there is an opticians that we shall call Grovel and Snobs. A stylish shop run by a man who clearly wanted to be a brain surgeon but had to settle for investing in some clever machines and selling overpriced Danish glasses to the socially climbing,townsfolk of Lymington.

My view is that the Opticians are as relevant as Saddle Makers and Milliners. Their job can and will be done by computers within ten years. Milliners will remain as long as weddings need hats. Once opticians have disappeared, then I’ll be spared stupid questions like “Do you do any hobbies where your sight is important”. Just think for a minute of a hobby where your sight isn’t important.

To cap it all off, I was quoted three weeks to make a pair of sunglasses for my wife. Boots in the High Street quoted one week but the kicker was trying to get a copy of my wife’s prescription. Rather than hitting Ctr+P and printing it from a computer, Grovel and Snobs insist on handwriting a copy of the 18 numbers and then charging you £17.50 ($24) for the privilege.

Unbelievable. Complete and utter nonsense. So they lost two customers in ten seconds.

Bring on the photo booth with iris scanner.

 

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

The 2017 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta was a fantastic experience. In many ways it all that is best about the United States. Impressive, friendly and well organised.

I arrived at Dawn on the first day for the Dawn Patrol which has a smaller number of balloons permitted to take off in darkness. The burners and colourful canopies roaring to life in the darkness is a spectacular sight. I described it as watching baby dragons wake up all snorting fire and noise.

Then the mass assent takes place as the sun rises with six or seven hundred balloons taking off and you can wander through them lending a hand when asked. It is so good natured and friendly without a hint of health and safety nonsense just sensible people having a good time.

Two things, apart from the balloons, spring to mind. At one point a grandmother had lost her grand-daughter in the crowd of 50,000. She was in a panic but a marshall got on the radio to the police who had her. A kindly visitor had handed her in. It was done so effortlessly it was a joy to watch.

The whole balloon festival is spectacularly well run from courtesy buggies to get you from the massive car parks to the gates. A lack of parking charges (normally $15 but I was never charged) to plenty of places to sit.

I had never been to a balloon event and this was the ultimate experience being among these giants in the New Mexico dawn.