Monkwick Fun Day to take place 4th June 2016

Monkwick Fun Day

Following on from the successful Monkwick Fun Day in 2015, the 2016 date has now been decided as 4th June 2016.

Hundreds of people turned up last year for the community day, which saw local stalls, a disco, bouncy castles, free hotdogs and local organisations including 5th Colchester Scout Group, the Youth Bus and the Sure Foundation church group.

This year’s Monkwick Fun Day will be held on 4th June 2016 at the playing field next to TLA school and will start at midday. It finishes at 4pm. Anyone interested in representing their local community group or holding a stall can contact Cllr Dave Harris for more information – 01206 545889.

Essex and Herts Air Ambulance takes off from Blackheath, Colchester (HD)

Following on from my previous post about a spectacular helicopter crash in New Zealand, I was reminded of some HD footage I captured of the Essex and Hertfordshire Air Ambulance when in landed in a play park a few meters from my house a couple of years ago at Blackheath, Colchester.

Having a chat with the piolet prior to take-off, he promised a perfect pirouette when he left – and he did just that.

Notice that the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance helicopter as no tail rotor like conventional helicopters. Instead, this design known as NOTAR uses a high-powered fan to force air over the tail creating stability and thrust. Very cool…

Watch the full video here

Stanway Colchester: More homes as Lib Dems score own-goal on Tollgate Retail Park decision

Stanway Colchester

Every week for the past 5 years I’ve seen changes at Stanway Colchester. It seems more houses are popping up on almost a weekly basis. The Stanway Western bypass may have been welcome relief to the people of Blackberry Road and Warren Lane, but the Borough Council seem ignorant to the increased needs of the growing population as they rejected the new Tollgate development out-of-hand. This at a time when more homes are being built, the population of the Town is increasing and more jobs are desperately needed.

So why was the Tollgate development rejected? It seems we have to turn to the Colchester Liberal Democrats for the answer, and it’s a sad answer at that. In a statement on their website, the Lib Dem party said that “the site is strategic employment land” for uses like “research and development, studios, laboratories, high-tech, offices and distribution”.

The page went on to say that “such businesses seek land with good access to the strategic highway network. Tollgate, being close to Junction 26 of the A12, with excellent access to ports, is ideal. Such land is scarce and, once developed for other uses, is lost. Local people in search of opportunities will be forced to travel or even move away permanently“.

If that’s the case, why do so many of the buildings already built at Tollgate Business Park remain empty over two years since being built?

Why the Liberal Democrats got it wrong

Firstly, they’ve failed to recognise that retail also brings employment to Colchester. According to the February 2016 report by the Office for National Statistics, around 16% of people Nationally are employed in the retail sector. That’s nothing to be sniffed at. It increases spending input to the local economy and secures jobs.

Secondly, it increases competition which is good for the consumer and boosts spending. Currently the only supermarket in the Tollgate area is Sainsbury’s. Where’s the competition?

Thirdly, do laboratories and R&D companies look at West Colchester as a true business hub? There’s no direct railway line to the Tollgate area and carparking is scarce; which is why some larger insurers decided to move out of the town a few years ago.

Finally, and most importantly, they failed to listen to the voices of the people of Colchester. Immediately following the decision an online petition was started by Colchestrians unhappy with the decision. Perhaps not a great decision made by the Lib Dems with elections looming.


Another decision made in the war with the Conservatives

Immediately after the planning was refused by CBC, Tory MP Priti Patel launched a scathing attack against the decision, saying that she was “appalled”. Now I’m definitely not a supporter of the Conservatives but it’s fair ro say I’m 100% her in this regard. Building more offices to sit empty whilst refusing decent retails premises is extremely short-sighted and unlikely to result in a decent number of jobs for the local economy.

I also found it slightly amusing that on the Lib Dem article relating to the planning application they had a picture of David Cameron with the message “I’d govern like a true Tory is it wasn’t for the Lib Dems”; I think someone needs to tell them that they suffered a terrible defeat to just that person not so long ago…


Extract for the Colchester Lib Dem website
Panoramic view of Tollgate, Stanway, Colchester
Panoramic view of Tollgate, Stanway, Colchester

The Most Spectacular Helicopter Crash Caught on Camera

helicopter crash

Most people who are interesting in watching spectacular helicopter crash videos will have already seen this video, but if you haven’t then you really do need to.

The video was captured by photography Murray Job at Auckland Viaduct Harbour on 23rd November 2011. Whist erecting a seven story high structure, the rotor of the ZK-HIG Aerospatiale AS350B2 helicopter struck a cable causing the aircraft to crash to the ground. The video showed the Rigger appear to tighten a cable which in turn caused another to tighten and come into contact with the rotors of the helicopter. The forces of the damage caused to the rotor mechanism in turn put extreme forces of the structure of the helicopter causing it to break apart and fall the ground. It was the helicopter crash video footage to top them all.

Luckily, no one was killed in the helicopter crash, although the pilot did incur some minor injuries and can be seen being helped away from the crash site.

‘Secrets of Severalls’ film to be released

Secrets of Severalls

Severalls Hospital has long been a topic of interest to me and I was therefore very interested to discover that a film called Secrets of Severalls about the current site and it’s history will be produced by a British film maker.

‘Secrets of Severalls’ is currently being produced by Beyond the Point, an award winning organisation which is dedicated to revealing the unseen history of South-East Essex.

It’s fair to say that I’m very excited to learn of this new project and will be following the progress closely. Beyond the Point have already released a teaser trailer which can be seen below.

The problem with the name Ritchie


The problem with the name Ritchie is this: no one really gets it. I’ve had this name for 36 years and people still get it wrong. On an almost daily basis I’m called “Ricky” or “Richard”.

People can’t spell it properly, either. For example, I’ll send an email to someone and close if with my name, Ritchie. Yet nine times out of ten they’ll reply with “Hello Richie“.

How difficult is it to read a name and then type it properly?


Ritchie isn’t short for Richard, either.

I get really annoyed when people tell me that my name is short for Richard. Both the names have the same number of letters in them. The idea of shortening a name is to make it shorter so your theory doesn’t work.

Rant over. I feel better after getting 36 years of Ritchie name-related stress out.

Police Refusing to Give Third Party Details After an Accident? Don’t let them.

Police refusing to provide third party details

We have begun to notice an increasing trend with various police forces across the UK, in particular the Met Police, when attending Road Traffic Collisions. The Police refusing to give third party details after an accident; but they shouldn’t be.

Lately, the police are taking reports from all drivers involved in the collision (and witnesses) and then telling those involved to tell their insurers to contact the police and quote an incident number. Customers of insurers – perhaps still in shock or confused as they have never had an accident before – leave the scene with no third party details. In some cases we have seen the police are failing to provide drivers with the minimal information required to make a claim (i.e. third party vehicle registration) which can cause a real headache when it comes to making a motor claim. The Police know this, which is why they’ll try and charge you for the third party details.

Police refusing to provide third party details
Some PC plods don’t understand the law themselves. You are entitled to 3rd party details by law – the police must also abide by that law.

In most cases where you hold fully comprehensive insurance this isn’t a huge problem unless you need a replacement hire vehicle. Most credit hire companies will require the details of the third party before they will hire to you and without the third party details you won’t get a hire car. The problem then starts when you call the police to obtain the details, at which point they tell you there will be a charge (around £85) for the police to release them. Not only is there a charge but also you have to apply in writing and it can take weeks – sometimes months – for them to arrive.

This is an even bigger headache if you only hold third party cover as your insurer is unlikely to request the information at all.


What to do if the Police are refusing to give third party details after an accident

What the police don’t tell you is that you are legally entitled to the information completely free of charge by simply requesting them under Section 154 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. Section 154(b) of the Act states:

(1)A person against whom a claim is made in respect of any such liability as is required to be covered by a policy of insurance under section 145 of this Act must, on demand by or on behalf of the person making the claim—

(b)if he was or would have been so insured, or had or would have had in force such a security—

(i)give such particulars with respect to that policy or security as were specified in any certificate of insurance or security delivered in respect of that policy or security, as the case may be, under section 147 of this Act, or

(ii)where no such certificate was delivered under that section, give the following particulars, that is to say, the registration mark or other identifying particulars of the vehicle concerned, the number or other identifying particulars of the insurance policy issued in respect of the vehicle, the name of the insurer and the period of the insurance cover.

It goes without saying but if you are involved in a collision make sure you get the third party details and, at a minimum, the vehicle registration and regardless of what the police say to you. It will cause you fewer problems progressing your claim and save a potential headache. You’d be surprised at the number of customers we have who “forget”.

So, if Police refusing to give third party details after an accident is becoming a problem, put your foot down and remind them of your rights. If they still refuse you should complain.

Bradley Walsh singing at Hemsby Beach holiday park

Bradley Walsh singing

It was the summer of 2007 and I was performing at Hemsby Beach holiday park as part of my Blues Brothers tribute. We’d just finished our first set and were having a cigarette back-stage (one month before the smoking ban came in) and little did I know that I would soon see Bradley Walsh singing.

Suddenly, the door opened and in walked actor and gameshow host Bradley Walsh. We were a little surprised to say the least. Bradley asked if it would be OK for him to sing a couple of songs, which naturally we agreed to, as we definitely hadn’t expected to hear Bradley Walsh singing at a caravan park in Norfolk that night. He went on to sing a Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra number and I recall that he was actually very good.

It’s no surprise that Bradley Walsh has released an album, which you can buy here.

The next morning we popped for breakfast at Del’s Cafe just down the road (which is a great little food house officially called ‘Two Ways Cafe‘). Turns out that Brad is brother-in-law to the owner. Also turns out that there’s a West Ham -v- Arsenal battle between the pair.

I was just going through some old photos on a backup drive and found this photo of him which I took at the time.

Bradley Walsh Singing
Bradley Walsh singing at Hemsby Beach holiday park


Are pickled eggs Paleo?

So Are pickled eggs Paleo? Yep, they sure are.

Eggs were available to our ancestors and would have been a highly sort after source of protein. I always keep a jar in my fridge at home and also my desk draw at work for an emergency protein source in case I’m hungry and need a quick “fill me up”.

You can do all sorts with eggs, picked or plain, including curried eggs. They can also be a nice accompaniment to a salad, cold cuts of pork and a ploughman’s style lunch. Or just eat them on their own!


Beware of smells

Eggs can sometimes be a bit smelly. Some people are also very sensitive to the smell. In my office there’s a lady who has a very sensitive nose to eggs so I tend to eat them in the kitchen or outside. Just remember that your belches can also get a bit wiffy!

How to get rid of Condensation in a Car

How to get rid of condensation in a car

During this damp winter I’ve found it increasingly difficult to demist my old Volkswagen Golf in the morning. I’m guessing that I have a leak somewhere, but I’m not able to find it. So it left me wondering how to get rid of condensation in a car.

The causes of condensation

Working out why you’re car has condensation is going to help you prevent it in the future. The problem with older cars is that they develop lots of places where water can ingress over time. For example, as door seals begin to perish and crack it may allow rain water to enter the cabin of the car. A sunroof can also leak as can a boot seal.

Understand that water always takes the easiest path

Just because you think you know where the water is coming from, doesn’t mean it actually is coming form their. Understanding how to get rid of condensation in a car means understanding that water can enter from all sorts of places. A leak in a sunroof, for example, can run along the inside of a roof to the back seats and drip on the seat.

How to get rid of condensation in a car


Evaporating water is causing condensation in your car

Whenever you get water in your car (even from old coffee cups or the like), the moisture will evaporate and eventually stick to the cold glass windows. This then causes condensation on the inside of the glass. Even wet shoes can leave water on the carpet which in time will evaporate and cause condensation.

How to get rid of condensation in a car

There are a number of things that you can do to get rid of condensation, and most of them are free and easy. These include:

  • air the vehicle as often as possible – leave a window open slightly
  • use a garage if available
  • remove all rubbish, in particular drinks and food
  • remove wet clothing such as coats
  • use your A/C – even in the winter the A/C will remove moisture from the atmosphere (which is why you get a little puddle under the car in the summer)

Don’t use silicon based products

There are a number of different silicon based products on the market which claim to reduce condensation, called ‘anti fog repellents‘. The products leave a horrible film on the inside of the glass which can blur your vision and which are horrible to get rid of. Don’t be fooled by the claims of the manufacturers as these make a real mess of your car windscreen and offer nothing more than a wiping the screen with a synthetic chamois.

Other reading on How to get rid of condensation in a car

I recently discovered an article called ‘How to Get Rid of Condensation and Damp in your car‘ which was packed full of loads of information on how to prevent the constant damp problem in the car. It also provide lots of ways to stop condensation appearing in the first place.

It led me to a video which described how to make a free damp preventer for a car using items that you can find around the house.

Both resources where very useful and although I haven’t been able to completely cure the problem, I’ve definitely been able to improve it. So if you’re wondering how to get rid of condensation in a car, take a look at those articles or better still, leave your own ideas and tricks below.