Friday, May 25, 2012

Worn Tyres

As you drive down any of the UAE highways you will see endless trails of rubber from blown-out tyres. In the UK you may see the odd one every now and again, but here they are honestly everywhere. Heat, of course, is a contributory factor, but basic maintainence is the main issue I believe. People just keep driving on worn tyres and do not check them regularly enough.

Today our friend had borrowed a 4x4 from his neighbour to move some furniture.  Below are the pictures of his tyres as a case in point. All 4 were exactly the same. Death trap.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Milo and Archie on Yas beach

Hemel Hempstead High Street

We recently took a trip back to the UK and I went to see my parents at my home town of Hemel Hempstead. Now, Hemel has never been the most exciting place to be in the world, but I enjoyed growing up there. It is a place with plenty of green spaces, close to all road/rail links, close to London for when you wanted to go there and it had a bustling town centre. When I was a kid, I loved meeting up with my mates to "go down town" and just hang, ride around on our bikes or preferably meet girls. The town centre, like most towns of the time, had the main drag of shops on one main shopping street, for Hemel it was called Marlowes.

This is how I remember it from the 70s/80s...

For anyone interested, there is a nice "trip down Memory Lane" from the local council website here.

The town centre always seemed to be bustling and dodging the traffic was part of the fun! I remember having my driving lessons driving down the Marlowes and being told it was good training for emergency stops as it should be called "Suicide Alley" ! The main Post Office was there, there were loads of good shops and especially smaller independent shops. 

In the 1990s they built an indoor shopping centre which opened onto the Marlowes, called imaginatively, the Marlowes Shopping Centre! They also pedestrianised the Marlowes. That was the beginning of the end for Hemel's high street. I really think it was just downhill from there. Other factors certainly played their part - big out of town supermarkets and DIY centres, a major indoor shopping centre in Watford and lately, the general financial crisis. But now the town centre just looks like a dump. There are a few nice bits where they have tried to build new stuff, but generally it just looks like Pikeyville. 

I took a few pictures while I was there to illustrate....

So in one small row we have, a shop to exchange your crappy old mobile phone, a Pawnbroker (yes they still exists!), Cashconverters, a charity shop and a betting shop. Lovely.

The obligatory Poundland (every town should have one - even Dubai has one of these!).

B&M Bargains where Woolworth used to be before they went bust.

Bright House traces it's roots back to Radio Rentals, which was also on the Marlowes when I was a kid. Still serving people who want to pay for their electronics and white goods on a weekly rental. Room201 was a nightclub. I remember it as Scamps and after that The Living Room. Always a dump.

'Nuff said.....

Game - one of many chains killed by the financial crisis.

 Another shop that didn't make it...

Another Pound shop....

No one reads books or sends letters anymore it seems.....

The best value shop in Hemel - only 99p, not even a Pound!

One of the original independent shops that still survives - god knows how, but I wish them well and hope they keep trading!

The Olympic Torch is due to pass through the town on July 8th - let's hope they spruce the place up a bit! 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Newspaper stories

Some stories from the paper caught my eye today, especially as they were all on the same two page spread.

So... a few observations: 

8 out of top 10 - Emiratis
Other 2 , Egyptian and Indian
What no Westeners??

I seriously think that fines and impounding are not a deterrent, especially to Emiratis who mostly have more than one car, some several - and even if their favourite car is impounded, they just go out and buy another one the same! They just don't care about fines and impounding. Send them to jail - maybe that would work?

So, next two stories that have an interesting contrast...

So four years for having a bit of puff and 1 year for killing someone while drink driving. The sentencing here is so inconsistent and often just defies logic. The drug guy even volunteered a lot of information he didn't need to, admitted what he had done and was very helpful to the police - and then gets 4 years. This place is just mental sometimes....

Thursday, May 3, 2012

New addition to the family ...

Well it was time to say goodbye to the Passat, so now hello a Mitsubishi Outlander.

In some ways it is very similar to the Audi R8 V10 ....

  • Leather steering wheel
  • Automatic
  • 4 wheel drive
  • Paddle shift
  • 4 wheels

*sigh* - ...clearly I'm still not over her yet!