Posts tagged: Fiat

The Nightmare Before Christmas

There was a different ending, in my mind at least for today. Even though I am watching The Girl Next Door on BBC One at this precise moment, I had more, much more planned for my evening. I suppose, I should start, as all my stories do, at the beginning. I got up, early for change and headed over to the office. The deserted car park spoke volumes, I was early but also one of the handful of people actually making that final trek into the workplace for 2006. There was a fun atmosphere, perhaps because were only in until 12pm and perhaps because we did not have any real work to do. To my surprise, I actually took five calls, a couple expected, others not so welcome. In any case I dealt with all the issues, to the best of my ability, finishing building two laptops and then decided to get into the party mood. We were in the Christmas mood the moment I had walked in, humming along to Jingle Bell Rock. I recall the song mainly from the High School Talent Show segment in Mean Girls (which I saw in 2005, when it screened on Sky) and we headed over to YouTube to watch the video in full. It had me in stitches again, just like when I had seen the movie at home, in my living room. This started a domino affect with both members of IT, logging onto the web site and watching clips. I would like to say I did the same, but I preferred to use my time more wisely and make final preparations for this afternoon shopping trip to North Buckinghamshire. You can perhaps imagine how I felt. I was excited and happy but at the same time a little apprehensive. I had to keep my emotions in check, for the next hour at least. My sisters sent me their lists on e-mail and I printed them off. I was set. Or so I thought.

There were only two key holders left, and thankfully one of them decided to stay a little longer, which enabled me to walk out the door promptly just before 12pm. The roads were foggy and this makes perhaps the most considerate of motorists, transform into apprehensive wrecks. I had no time for them. I hit the bypass and overtook most of these cars, driving at 40 while I prefer to be driving at 70. I mean, sure it is foggy but you can still see ahead of you. You just need to drive with care. Just as I was coming up to the Handycross Roundabout, there were drivers cruising in the fast lane, so I had to take some illegal undertaking maneuvered, just to get onto the M40. As I pulled up to the development site, I was behind three lorries, and decided to over take them and cut in and join the slip road heading northbound. I was on the motorway and heading to Thame. Fantastic. I had my Santa on, and was singing along to Hillary Duff (featuring the delicious Christina Milian) with “I Heard Santa On The Radio” (from her 2002 album, Santa Claus Lane) Any other time of year, this combination would have been executed by a combination of the fashion and style police. Thankfully, it was Christmas and I could get away with listening to what would be deemed by others as “tacky” Christmas tunes. More on that news story later. On the motorway, the fog was thick, so I transferred onto the fast lane, behind a black X5 and for the next 8 miles, it cleared a route for me, quite literally through the icy mist up ahead. I pulled off at junction six for the more hair raising part of the journey. Thick fog, country lanes and slow Renault Clio’s do not mix. However, I was not really that bothered, I had made excellent time, considering I had arranged to meet my friend at 1pm. It was looking more and more likely that I was going to be half an hour early.

It was when I pulled up onto my friend’s drive way I discovered I had left the lists I had printed on my desk back in the office. No bother, I could borrow my friends internet and print them off. Fantastic. Thanks to a unsecure wireless network I was up and running without any problems. Just after 1pm, we headed from Oxfordshire over to Milton Keynes, in cross country fashion. The fog was even thicker than on the motorway earlier in the afternoon and the roads were slightly busier. However we made good time, getting into MK just after 2pm. We were wondering where to go for lunch and I recommended the restaurant in XScape. I could not recall the name, but had been there with an old work colleague, two years ago. Tootsies may sound like the name of a seedy lap dancing joint, but it is in fact a cozy restaurant in the leisure complex. We had a nice lunch, while the hoards of shoppers past us by. If I was ever to write a book on how to shop at Christmas, one of the first would be directions would be to never shop on an empty stomach. A nice light lunch and then we headed back out to the car and drove the .3 miles to the Centre MK and eventually found parking there. It was not easy in the dense fog. We then headed over to the shopping centre, coming in from the street to find the The Entertainer toy shop to our right. We then decided to head up to the right, walk our way back down and end by going to John Lewis for some more bulky final purchases. I saw Clarks and headed into there but we did not make our first purchases until nearly 4pm. This may sound insignificant to you but buy our standard for our annual Christmas shop, this was pathetic. In some days we would have normally have been through both of our lists. I got a call from my sister and explained that it was quite busy and I had only made one purchases. My friend made the snide comment, “Are you going to ring them after you buy your next gift?”. We were doing badly but we picked up the pace for the rest of the afternoon and actually started making plans for our escape back home. Around 6pm we though, to fit in all the other retail outlets we needed to visit. Next stop was House of Fraser, then M&S followed by The Disney Store and then HMV. It was here that we end up almost every year and we know we are coming to the end of our trip. It was packed out but the customer service has improved dramatically over the past four years (my first trip with my friend was in December 2002). Sales assistants would drop everything and actually help you find the DVD, games or CD you were looking for. The only downside was waiting in queue for a good ten minutes waiting to be served. Then adding insult to injury, overhearing someone say that upstairs the tills were dead. After the music store, we headed over to Woollies, then finally John Lewis. We were ahead of schedule and got into my friend’s car. The time was 17:42. Dark and foggy, time to go home. Ignoring the satellite navigation we headed back across the country lanes to Oxfordshire. After a brief rest bite, when I wrapped up a present and got all my things together, I looked ahead at the journey ahead. Yes, that is right, I was not heading straight home, I had one last trip before Christmas could truly begin.

I had to collect my cousin from Heathrow. Well technically Sipson before I could turn around and hit the great drive which is has to be accompanied by Chris Rea‘s “Driving Home for Christmas”. However, by the end of the night, it would not be a song I would want to listen to. The drive back to the Handycross Roundabout was uneventful, the dark foggy conditions had meant most people had made their journey during the daylight hours or left it until Saturday. I cruised off at junction four and swung across to the by-pass. I was following a Volvo estate, which like the X5 earlier in the afternoon was on some crazy mission and cleared the road ahead for me. I had been worried that by the time I hit the M4 the traffic would be crazy and I would not be heading back home until past 10pm. I was write but for the wrong reasons. The M4 was relatively quiet. Quieter than your average Friday evening. I made excellent time and was at the hotel, waiting, a few minutes after 8pm. Fantastic. I could get home and still make something of my evening. Things never work out the way you plan, as I was about to find out. As the nightmare begins to surface.

We were on the M4, heading back and I noticed that the temperature gauge and it was on red. However as I drove, the temperature gauge returned to the middle and I thought nothing more of it. I would check the car over, on Sunday (as usual). However, as we came off the motorway and onto the by-pass the red led came on again. I had to stop. I had to let the car cool down. Perhaps here I made the stupid mistake. I called the RAC and explained I would wait for the car to cool down for a few minutes before heading for home. I was perhaps six miles away from home and it was desperately annoying. Thankfully the car had failed on me here, rather than on a foggy busy motorway. After twenty minutes, the car cooled down, I pulled off again but the engine was giving out a tremendous roar, even for a diesel but once I was above 2nd gear, it returned to normal. This was the main issue weighing on my mind, the temperature gauge started creeping up again and it was no way I was going to make it home. The warning light came on again and I lost power, crawling up hill at 40 miles an hour. Switching on the hazards, I tried to warn other vehicles that I was about to stop. Eventually a mile up the road the parking pay appeared. My car came to a stop. It is here it would stay for the next couple of hours as we waited for RAC breakdown patrol to come and get us running. The car refused to start about forty minutes in and things did not look good. This was not the start to the holiday season I had hoped for.

Saturday 11th November 2006

Was in Slough this morning, strangely too early even for me. I pulled up at 8am at the Thames Fiat dealership on the Bath Road. Then I decided to walk into town, while my car had a winter service check. Little did I know that the journey was three miles and not the two I originally estimated. Very strange to be walking for the first a time a route you would normally cruise in your car within a few minutes. It took me a good twenty odd minutes to get to into town. Although I am not trying to say that was a bad thing. Quite the contrary, I enjoyed the time to think, the fresh air and be the chance to put into perspective the events of the past few weeks and the wonderful things to come in the coming few days and weeks. This might shock you but before I passed my driving test in October 1999, I used to do a lot of walking. I used to grab my personal stereo cassette player and ear phones and walk into my hometown and back, ignoring the frequent bus service, at that time run by the now defunct Wycombe Bus Company. It enabled me to fully appreciate the luxury of being able to jump in the car and drive almost anywhere. So, back to the present. Why had I walked all this way? When I could have waited in the waiting area, drinking fun size cans of cola, watching Soccer AM on Sky Sports? I just did not want to. I wanted to get something done. Even though it was dead early on a Saturday morning, by the time I got to the town centre, shops were slowly coming to life. I had a few things to get in preparation for Wednesday evening. Sorry, but following will sound like a girl. I apologise. Although I perhaps had the write combination of clothes to wear, I wanted something new. Something different. It was a special, once in a lifetime occasion, after all. So I headed firstly to River Island. None of their jeans really appealed to me, but I bought a smart black pin tuck shirt. I only have a silky short sleeve shirt in my wardrobe, so this would work nicely. Heading over to Topman, well technically Topshop, in the Observatory Shopping Centre, I waited for the signs pointing the menswear section upstairs, but to my shock, it was a rather small corner at the front of the store. Disappointing. Now this is why I never come shopping in Slough and always go to Reading, Milton Keynes and Uxbridge. In any case, I found a nice pair of straight cut, kryptic basic jeans by Moto. Mission accomplished. Just the long walk back to collect my car and head home. Plus, I would be home just in time for Football Focus. Result!

My sister started a new job last month. Rather than go into the details, her job involves an extensive amount of traveling so my Dad decided this would be the ideal time to buy a satellite navigation device. There was only one name to go for, really. Having seen Tom Tom in action on a PDA on our trip to the Nurburgring back in April, there was no doubt this would be the brand to buy into. It was more a case of find the right product from their now quite extensive range. In the end, I opted for the 510. It had the right balance between features required, such as handsfree Bluetooth and the added benefit of iPod control. Thanks to some price comparison web sites, we placed an order late on Tuesday evening and the device arrived on Thursday. Only had a chance to connect it up to the home PC this evening, switch over to a 1 gb SD card and actually activate with the product key. What can I say? A fantastic solution, all fully working straight out of the box. Bringing truth to the magic of plug and play. I have yet to use it on a car journey, but as it is portable it can go between all our cars. Although looking forward, there are no long journeys to unknown destinations coming up in the foreseeable future, but things may change. It will be there, if I ever need it. Much better than a paper print out from MultiMap dot com.

Tom Tom Go 510

Although I am already listed on four blog directories plus Technorati but I have submitted this blog to yet another directory last week. It was posted onto a FlickR group I subscribe to, called, yes you’ve guessed it. Bloggers The amateur blogger, is starting a directory from scratch using a similar keyword system to Technorati. My link can be found over here. It is very early days but I hoped to that as the directory grows more people will come and at least take a quick peak at my blog. Hopefully there will be a blog badge of some description I can upload in the next few weeks.

I could have taken the whole day off. If I really wanted to, I could take off the whole week, but I didn’t. Instead, to the hysterics of my work colleagues, I chose to just take a half day on Wednesday. Why? Well if I took the whole day off I feel I would get overexcited. Does that make sense? (No, I bet it sounds completely irrational) I can imagine I would do very little different and I would still take my little sister to school, so as I’m within a few miles of the office I might as well head in. A full day off would be a waste. I would perhaps get involved in the online euphoria with other London based fans, gagging with excitement. Listen to HIStory back to back and then watch back to back music videos on my XBox at high volume (to the disapproval of my neighbours). I prefer the idea of earning my few hours off. I will leave the office around 1pm, knowing I have done a solid morning’s work and can then go absolutely crazy on the drive back home. By that time I will be running on pure adrenalin, and nothing will be able to stop me.

Saturday 23rd July 2005

All of a sudden, I had weekend worth looking forward to on my hands. Yet, there was not the time to anticipate, before I knew it, I was on this roller coaster, heading to the peak of the big one. What would it be like on the other side, on the way down? I was about to find out.

I woke up early, to an eerie silence around the house, everyone else was a sleep. With my Mum and youngest sister over in India, there was the added feeling of awkwardness. My weekend morning ritual, should be well known to you by now. Instead of eating my cereal in silence, there is the added comfort of the soundtrack from the music television. As I have said before, I must be a really annoying person to live with. Perhaps going someway to explain, while I only do this in the morning. I surf the channels, 440 all the way to 473 and only stopping for a few minutes on songs I like. The clock was ticking and it was soon 8.30am, I had to get a move on. As usual, a ‘I love this song’ moment stopped me in my tracks, but eventually I dragged myself away from the television and headed to get ready. As I headed for the car, my Dad stopped me (for the second time) and said, “Thank you for the DVDs…” I smiled, as I headed out into the dull day. Today was going to be a make or break day for me. Little do I know it now, little will I know about it for years to come. I cruised to Slough, with my head in the clouds. It would only be a matter of time before something, someone would burst my bubble. For the moment, I was going to enjoy, living part of the dream.

Handed the keys, I saw down comfortably in the leather seats and turned the key, to hear the engine roar to life. The sound so unique, so special, so soothing. I pulled away and wondered what to do with the next four hours. Revving the engine at the red lights, I switch over to KISS 100. As I drove past Trade Sales complex, an smartly dress employee was crossing the road. His jaw dropped as he saw me drive past, stopping in the middle of the road to awe at the sports car. His face was a picture. Shape I could not capture the moment. I watch in amazement as I put my foot down to watch his reaction in my rear view mirror. The stereo CD player had what I original thought, Songs About Jane as Maroon5 – ‘She Will Be Loved’ was playing the moment I had switched on the electrics. Yet it was actually, Now That’s What I Call Music Volume 59, so I skipped across some of the tracks and then found a song. Perhaps not the most ideal, but something I thought was appropriate for the lift off. Busted – ‘Thunderbirds A re Go’. Those of you not from the south of England (or the United Kingdom for that matter) will be unfamiliar with a famous stretch of road. Perhaps the most famous stretch of tarmac in the whole of Slough. The Bath Road, or A4 runs across the town, linking it with Maidenhead and the M4. Most of the biggest companies in the world, have their UK if not European headquarters on this road. By it’s very nature the road is extremely busy, with retail parks and big business centres throughout, which are broken up by an American highway style traffic light system. The speed limit is 40, but all the camera (three in total) are clearly visible. So, at the lights, you can show your street credentials, lightly touching up the gas pedal, as you look across to your driver across in the other lane. I looked in my rear view mirror and a young black women, was half asleep behind the wheel of her silver Nissan Micra. Just at that moment, my hears tuned into the song on the radio, Naughty Girl by Beyoncé Knowles. Need I say anymore? The car was quick, but in bright red, I must have looked like a bit of a joy rider, and I felt a presence of several cautious eyes. The 18″ OZ alloys, looked the part, just a shame there is the name of perhaps the most famous true German, (after David Hassleholf, of course) planted all over the car.



I came home and did very little, but to attract the weary eyes of my neighbours who were clearly just stirring from their Saturday morning lie ins. There was no one to go and see, no one to come and enjoy this special moment with me. It is shame really, I have often said that without the people around you to share in your aspirations, the aspirations tend to lose their value. Heading back to Slough, I knew I was about to sign up to something that was perhaps, just a few racks above my station. Was I really ready to make this sort of financial commitment, so early in my life? While the finances have never been in question, this added strain would perhaps cost more to me than British Pounds Sterling. Salesmen are a funny bunch, yet when it comes to the crunch, they move aside and let someone else come out with the calculator and do the real work. The gloss is gone, the voice is stern, the language is forceful and at times demeaning. I hate finance people, particular the brand the come in the opposite gender. Sure, I should not judge, after all she was just doing her job. Yet, looking beyond her Gucci glasses, came their air of a women, with more at stake than the sale of a single automobile. I was so disappointed that, when she pulled out her hand to wish me goodbye, for a spilt second, I stared it and did not want to return the gesture with a handshake. I did, nevertheless. For, life is about rising up these people, regardless of the situation. Having written to the Managing Director, turned out to be a waste of time. What does it take these days, to go from a meaningless number in a queue of faceless nobodies? When I find out the answer, I will be sure to share the secret with you all. For the time being the dream fades away, to the other side of the world.

Driving home, with an unpleasant taste in my mouth, the reality slowly started to kick. Perhaps today, I made a decision, that I will go on to be grateful for the rest of my life. The process I was going through, I will describe, as stepping back into myself. When I got home, there was good news. My replacement motherboard had arrived. As excited I was by this news, it did not hold the same level of ecstasy as it would have done, over a month ago. Yet, I put this down to a mixture of experience and bad luck on my part. (Or is that the same one thing?) After a quick lunch, my sister departed to go shopping, as most girls do on a Saturday afternoon. The destination was Reading, so they would be gone some time. Composing myself, after my lunch, I motivated myself with the small incentive, that when I was finished my PC would no longer randomly shut down or reboot. That was enough to get me off the sofa and start rearranging the living room into computer building workstation. I took my XBox off the network and grabbed my toolbox. I meant business and there was no chance that this motherboard was going to let me down. Funny, how with the added knowledge, I had gained from over a month ago, I was working, almost blindfolded to get everything in place and together in time. There was only one response to seeing my monitor light up with the ASUS boot screen, I punched the air and let out an all mighty scream. (Just a bit of frustration coming out there!) Windows XP SP2 was loaded without a single hitch, this was too good to be true. I am Andrew Tegala, something must go wrong. Quickly I installed my wireless internet link and while here, upgraded the firmware on my Netgear router. Then, came the task of transferring across all my personal ‘stuff’ from the old Mesh computer. It took nearly half an hour to transfer the e-mails, documents, and web sites (including my beloved blog) but it was well worth the wait. I was making excellent time and then began the task of transferring my world famous audio collection onto it’s new home.

While all this had been going on, I had been playing music television to keep me focused and provide some light background music. There was also the rare occurrence of ITV screening two Bond films over four hours on a Saturday afternoon and not a Bank holiday in sight (not for several weeks at least!). I needed a quick lift me up. It came in the form of a song. Blue have always been a favourite boy band for me. Perhaps giving me some street cred with the ladies. (Who knows?) While I feel the first member to make a break for the debut single, looks lost without his band mates, Webb, Simon, is a different prospect. He knows the industry, having formed and then seen the break up of his own group, VS. So, perhaps his debut single, ‘Lay Your Hands’ is perfectly pitched, with all this in mind. I was down, with a strong empty feeling inside. Not only had I let myself down, I had let other down, pursuing an achievable dream, too heavy hearted, too soon. Almost in an instant, I was comforted by the soulful lyrics of Lay Your Hands. You can listen to a snipped on the official site, which counts down to the single release.

I saw the tv spot for it last weekend. I don’t want to call them commercials, when really they are just advertisements, or rather trails for an up coming movie. This was one of those movies that I never got around to seeing. I even missed the opportunity to watch it on DVD. Although, perhaps towards the end of my second year at University, an x-rated disc was kicking around. This was the jewel in the crown of my weekend, sitting down on Saturday night to watch a stupid, pointless teen flick, purely to laugh and be entertained by outrageous American comedy. As my Saturday afternoon panned out setting my computer, I was able to get my TV tuner working, so had the option to watch it in the comfort of my own room, rather than having to watch it over in the living room. Surround sound was hardly going to make a major difference, now was it? In fact, I started watching the movie in the living room, but my Dad wanted to watch something else, (TCM anyone?) So after quickly eating some delicious chocolate ice cream, I headed back to my room, to enjoy the movie in the privacy of my own room (please don’t take that the wrong way!). I regret now that I had not seen this movie with my Uni friends, as it would have the been perfect way to end the second year. Channel 4, usually save their network premieres for a Sunday night 10pm screening, so this was a rare event in itself.

The most outstanding thing about this movie is… well actually there are two things. The amazing, soft rock soundtrack, which I will around to later. The other is the Indian character. Played handsomely to a ‘t’ by Kal Penn who on the back of this movie, went to co-star in a movie for himself. I think you have to agree that he steals the show. Those whom know me well, know how much I hate Indian people speaking English, (particular Bollywood actors). You get the impress they are trying too hard? Anyway, Penn is able to reach the happy medium between fresh off the boat and Westernized coconut. You can slowly watch his progress, under the wing of Van Wilder, during the course of the film. He reviews more about his up and coming plans in a candid interview from April this year. To summarise, there are plenty of Penn movies to keep me busy over the next few years. Sure, some may be in poor taste, but I am not one to judge. (I always wanted to know what FOB meant to Americans?)

Let me quickly take you back to a blog entry from the archives, Friday 13th August to be exact (no, I did not plan it like this!) I discuss a movie I had watched the previous Sunday, 8th August, last year. The film was OC (not related to the television series at all (which, as you well know, I have not seen and aim to catch in weekly installments once I get around to getting the DVD box set). I am sidetracking, let me return to base. The OC, started Tom Hanks’s son and was in the same mixed up genre as this number, or rather the tentative steps to college rather than those seven wasted years spent there! The most intriguing aspect of both these movies, was the use of the same song to end the movie (well the visual elements anyway!). Hello by Sugarbomb, is one of those driving songs, that not only lifts you, it has the energy to take you to another place. The use of this track alone would have been significant and more than a coincidence, but there are so many other tracks on the album (most of the better ones are missing) which go hand in hand with the notion of the story. College kids, having fun! Sometimes, I think you Americans do not know how lucky you really are. Perhaps they are too blind to see that they live not only the land of the free and brave, but the land of opportunity. Not only is college a period of coming of age, the American system is far more ‘brotherly’ (or sisterly) because you can join one of many fraternities. Back to the music, before I lose my thread. There are numerous songs, some which I had heard before such as A Fool For You, by American HiFi, but numerous others that I had never heard before. Sugarcult boast three outstanding tracks for the movie, with my favourite Bouncing Off The Walls (Again) with sexy Tara Reid featuring in the video. There is the catchy, almost country sounding, Girl On The Roof by David Mead, which is a classic. (Within in minutes you too will be humming long to the chorus hook!). A great song, to describe the leading roles, who are forever searching after each other, is Okay by Swirl 360. What more can I say? Perhaps a little more when I have obtained the remaining few tracks. I will perhaps come back to some of these songs and many more, when I get around to burning them on CD and listening on the car, on a pleasant British summer evening, as I drive home from work on a Friday.

Tomorrow, Sunday I will be back, back to my normal life, the dream is over. I have a feeling it will rain and be a miserable day. The weather often reflects exactly how I feel. Trying to be positive and look at the plus points to my u-turn decision. You never know, perhaps in years to come I will come back to this blog entry and say that in the end I made the right decision for me and my future. Who knows?

Sunday 8th May 2005

As another weekend draws to a close, I use this time on a Sunday evening to reflect. This day of the week has changed, so much for me over the years. At University, particularly in my first year, it was a time to rest, get shopping done, perhaps go down to the local Odeon cinema with my friends from halls. In the second year, moving into a house, things changed. Located further off campus, it meant I had become displaced from many of my friends from the first year. The day was spent working, until 2pm. Returning to the house to have some lunch, get some work done and prepare for another week of lectures, trials and tribulations. My third year was spent on placement, weekends are blurred in between my 600 mile a week trek to Bedford. I am confident, that I spent Sundays recuperating. Then, the final year, once again in a student house, Sundays were strange. Sure, I had bucket loads of work to be getting on with, but I tended to take my time and get things completed as I saw fit. My housemates, both on a Masters course, tended to go to church around 7pm, so I was on my own for a few hours. While I did not mind this at all, I had plenty to occupy myself with, it is just strange, now looking back at those times. At times life was empty and I could not see the finish line, but now is not the time to mention such things. Anything of note has been recorded, and there is nothing that can be gained by going back with post mortems and what if scenarios. We are altogether a better person and heading, for once in my life, the right direction. Onwards and upwards.

Getting up early, on Saturday, I got ready and headed off to Slough. I did not mention it at the time, but I had my first test drive in the Fiat Stilo Abarth in October (the exact date loses me now). Then, I had a quick drive which meant I drove home and then back to the dealership on the Bath Road. This time around, I wanted to make sure I got a better feel for the vehicle. This time around, I was given a black, 03 plate, hatchback, which had been on display on the forecourt. Due to this, I had to have those unlicensed plates on the front and back. Then, it was not until after I had driven off, and was way into my journey on the M4, that I realised that the salesman had not given me the Sat Nav CD, so no talked navigation, I had to settle for the radio. Eventually, I got it tuned into KISS 100. What can I say? The car feels so much like me? you put your foot down and the big engine roars to life! Yet, this car has a special feature, which I want to keep under wraps for now. It relates to a tale from my college days, and you will have to wait for a few months for that particular entry. Does that make sense? To read the full details of my obsession with this automobile, which started in April 2003, yes, I know two years ago. When I returned the car, just a few minutes after midday, I took my time, admiring the cars on show in the showroom. Fiat had just that day, launched the limited edition, Fiat Stilo Schumacher. Not only does the GP Champion give his name to this hot hatch, the whole package has been improved with thanks to Pro Drive. However, the specification in the UK still does not pull a single punch against that available on the continent. Therefore, I’ll be sticking to the Abarth, thanks very much. Oh, but I will be having the addition of the GP kit. Those 18″ alloys, just look too tasty. Planned to be dropping on my driveway towards the end of June. So, stay tuned.

Arsenal beat Liverpool to secure themselves 2nd place, with automatic qualification into next season’s Champions League. Fantastic game to watch, with Arsenal at their entertaining best in the first half, only to take the foot off the gas pedal in the second half to soak up pressure from the Mersey side European Cup Finalists. Thankfully, our little Spaniard, smashed home the third goal to take the tie beyond Liverpool. Joy in the blue half of the city. Did you see the intelligent, well waited pass by Bergkamp? For once, I disagree with Arse Blog, and he deserves one final season at Highbury. Now, what do I have to do, to get onto the waiting list for a season ticket?

Friday 21st January 2005

Bored of all listening to the same CDs in the car on my journey to work, it was time for a change. Mainly because about 4 songs, appeared across 3 of the CDs. Having only a 5 disc CD changer does limit the choice, when you have been used the unlimited supply of the MP3 CD. As I pulled up onto my drive on Wednesday evening, I took the executive decision. Ejecting all discs from the in car audio entertainment system, I quickly placed them in my CD carry case. The plan was to burn a new album. But did I get around to it? No, of course not. To be honest, my current collection is looking quite tired, with none of the fresh material, I had hoped to acquire. To this day, there are a group of tracks I listen to on a regular basis. The proof is always in the data collection. Avoiding radio, particularly commercial variety throughout the week, goes not give me the opportunity to hear new up and coming artists. Even my viewing of music television is down. More on that later.

Getting into my car on Thursday morning, I looked into my Case Logic 64 CD case to hunt for a music for the short journey to work. Mix 107 filled a small hole, while my chosen disc was loaded. I thought it important to catch up with the latest traffic news in the process. Startled to discover that my entire stretch to the office was busy, my mind raced to find an alternative route. Taking a risk and seeing very few vehicles on the road, I used my usual standard route, knowing that the alternative would add minutes onto my arrival time, which was not acceptable. Had my ears been deceiving me? The roads were clear and I got to the office in good time. Proof that local radio can not always be as accurate as they would make you believe! The disc I had chosen was labeled, ‘American Home’ which gave me rough guess at a creation date of around Spring 2003. I knew two of the songs that would feature, would be by Madonna and Bone Thugs ‘n’ Harmony. The remaining eight tracks (yes, I know wasteful use of an eighty minute disc). Switching over to track four I was greeted with an moving instrumental intro, the perfect song for the perfect moment? Maybe. The song kicked in, just I headed into the picturesque part of my journey, crossing into the Royal country just as I cross over the River Thames. Had I finally made that big leap and could finally stop wondering why? Another bundle of random acts, history seems to have a habit of repeating itself.

This is turning out to be a weekend, sponsored by the Microsoft console. I will have to be careful of how I phrase the rest of this paragraph for sure. Mr. Gates’ lawyers are very expensive. Just look back at this feeble story from exactly a year ago. I received an interesting invitation in the post yesterday, in the now brand trademark green and black. Wondering what it was all about, I I opened to discover a final push by the marketing men, well in the UK at least. The Italian car manufacture has come on board to create limited edition, XBox cars. Seems like just another run of the mill gimmick by the PR men, with little being added in the name of small production batch, apart from the odd local plastered onto the dash and rear body panel. Although both models look impressive at first glance, looking beyond the image you find very little substance. Come on Microsoft, is this truly upgraded spec? Hopefully more will be revealed this weekend at the official launch. Am I just being cynical, or is this a way to shift a few more Puntos and Stilos off the forecourt with the temptation of a free console? As it would transpire, I am picking up some XBox titles this Saturday from a friend. This source will remain anonymous, but a full round of the games, reviews, screen shots will follow shortly. Plus I have the added bonus of the full Sony Surround Sound Home Cinema system, to literally blow me away! If only I can get my hands on the TV this weekend. :)

Friday 4th June 2004

A week ago, I was on my PC, applying for some jobs. I was quite pleased with myself having now secured two interviews for next week. The phone rang. It was my Dad. He said I should go down to the NEC for the British Motor Show. My initial reaction, was to decline the offer. I was not in the mood to trek to Birmingham and back, particularly on the train. However, my Dad persuaded me to go, so I looked into the various options of getting there. Train seemed an ideal choice, at first but I decided upon the National Express. The return fare was slightly cheaper than the train option, and it also allowed for me have a look around Birmingham city centre. Something which I had not done, for over two years. At that time, the Bull Ring was still in major development. However, I will discuss that amazing shopping centre, later. So on Saturday morning, I got up early to head over to the NEC. My main aim was to take my digital camera and take as many photos as possible. I just wanted to enjoy my day out and make the most of being able to see some of the most prestigious and expensive cars in one place. When I arrived, the first thing I did got through the entrance, was to head over to the test drive area. There was no queues, well apart for the Subaru Impreza WRX. I got in line for Honda, hoping that the Civic Type-R would be available to test drive. To my disappointment, it was not available, but the closest matching vehicle was the Civic VTEC Sport 1.6. This is basically a Type-R lookalike, without all of the go of it’s hot hatch brother! When I headed out to the test circuit, I asked one of the Honda guys, why this decision had me made. It was purely a management decision. Although the Type-R is highly desirable for those in my age group, it lacks general appeal. So the Sport was chosen to appeal to both a younger new driver audience, as well as the petrol heads. My navigator for my journey around the test circuit, was called, Andy. He was very friendly and helpful as he guided me around the circuit. It was basically a car park that had been coned off, and you were only able to get to a top speed of 30 mph as the majority of the time you were weaving in and out of the cones. Just as I am writing this, the post has arrived. Including my Civic Brochure from Honda. I think the Type-R in Nighthawk Black Pearl will do nicely sir!

You may recall that I also have my sights set on the Fiat Stilo Abarth. I enjoyed a full demonstration in the car on Friday 25th April 2003. At the time, I made the comment, that the Honda Civic Type-R had been blown out of the water by the Stilo. Well, I have to say that the Japanese manufacturer has made the come back I had anticipated. The facelift given to the new 2004 model has improved the presence it has on the road. Decisions, decision. What do we go for now? The street hot hatch, which screams out, I’ve arrived. Or the gentle cruiser, which is much more relaxed and less in your ‘face’. I will of course report more, after the test drive of both cars!

Other highlights from the show were of course the usual suspects and some rather unique concepts. I took around 160 photos on the day, but I have cut these down to the best 110 images and uploaded them to an album on the photos page.

Job hunting has been going very well. Much better than expected. If you had told me during my placement that I would have a handful of interviews on my return to Wycombe, I would have laughed at you. It just feels that with every interview the stakes are slightly high, and my nerves further on edge. I am hoping to have a job by July. That is aim, let us hope it becomes a reality.

May has been the most popular blogging month to day on the site. It beats the hold record held by November 2003. It was also the first time I had experimented with comments for all blog entries. My conclusion being that it has been an subtle rather than overwhelming success. My aim will be to have a month, sometime in the future, which has a blog entry for every day for at least 30 days. However, my view is that the entries would become repetitive and somewhat lack the quality of other previous entries. We shall see. I hope to get the blog back up to date, over the weekend. There are still a few things I need to mention from my last week at University.

Friday 13th June 2003

Supposedly an ‘unlucky’ day for some, but I must say that Lady Luck has been shining on me for the past week or so. I knew, that the week that lay ahead, was going to be hectic and challenging. Having to rganise an event for work, later in the week, was going to take up a considerable amount of my time, but this didn’t mean I would be able to lose focus on my main job role. However, the weekend has arrived again and it is for us to make the most of it.

My sisters will be returning from University this weekend, and how my thoughts drift back to some 12 months previously when I too, was coming back from University. Life, my life was so much different then, and I had no idea. No idea at all of the mountain that lay ahead and the struggles that would need to be faced. I was caught up in the hysteria, that is the greatest show on Earth. The FIFA World Cup 2002. Looking back now, I feel I made the right decisions and followed them through to the end.

As always, there was a turning point in my week. It was aptly Wednesday evening, as I drove home. My Punto was in for its 36k service, so therefore I had a courtesy car. It was an Active Sport Punto, in Spirit Blue. (HGT wannabe anybody?!) Not too bad, and quite nippy, mainly as its a three door. I wasn’t intending to drive over to the Stevenage office that day, purely because I hadn’t considered the journey when refueling that morning. However, due to circumstances beyond one’s control, I was compelled to make that journey and provide my services. The England game was on my mind most of the day, along with the the 43288 jobs that needed to be successfully completed for Thursday evening. I hit the motorway, in good time to make it home, with time to spare for the big qualifier. As you will note from my previous web blogs, I’ve started to listen to BBC Radio 2, and happened to be flicking between BBC Radio 1 with Chris Moyles. I was just cruising on the M25, past junction 20, for the M1, I heard the beginning of a song, that I hadn’t heard for several years. Immediately, my mind was filled with thoughts from 1999, and my time at Henley College. A song, that is able to numb your senses in such a way, is truly magical and an amazing piece of work. I recall vividly, this song being in the charts, and the album, also being extremely popular. In my mind was a picture of me, holding a copy of this album in my hand, not in the trusted compact disc format, but my friend, David Wynn’s Mini Disc. It was one of the few original MD’s that he had actually bought, along with HIStory by Michael Jackson. If I was to look back my life now and cast heavy judgments on all the years of my life, 1999, would be one of the few years when I would take a step back, smile and say, “It was great… it was better than great… I began to learn the lesson…the lesson of life…”

England were lucky to beat Slovakia on Wednesday evening. What now has become, somewhat customary, I viewed the game, next door at my neighbour Dave’s house. The first half was a very poor performance from the home side and all the threatening that the Slovakians had been making, provided them with a goal. The crowd at the Riverside were harshly silenced and I began to wonder if England were going to make any impact in the game whatsoever. There were further moments of nervousness as the away team had another three clear chances of scoring. There was a need for a change, and bringing on Owen Hargreaves for Danny Mills, provided the impetus that had been so lacking. The second half, was much more entertaining, with two great goals from Michael Owen. The penalty decision was debatable (highly in my opinion) but there are times when England need some luck and for a change, the referee was willing to point to the spot. One nil, but the second goal was a much carefully worked affair, with Gerrard crossing the ball, into the air, with Owen, making clear contact to send the ball into the back of the net. After comments from the commentators that England were lacking aerial superiority, with players such as Ferdinand and Campbell missing, Owen was there to prove them wrong. A great way to celebrate your fiftieth game for your country.

Busy weekend, but I will update more over the next few days. Take care for now.

“Live your life without Regret…
Don’t be someone they Forget…”

Wednesday 9th April 2003

I suppose, I’ve almost reached a moment in my life, that years ago, I thought would be 100% unattainable. But then, I think tomorrow morning, I’ll begin, to a certain extent to, ‘Live The Dream’. The dream, goes back to the summer of 1999, but ultimately, the autumn of that year. To read how I felt about the dream then, click here.

I don’t suppose, many of you can recall a commercial, or rather television advertisement off the top of your head? Well, back then the Fiat Punto (mark 1) was coming towards the end of its production life, and the Italian car manufacturer, was keen to clear out its last stock, that year. How would they make this a sure sell with the British, car buying public? They would bring create the ultimate dream for both the male and females of the world. Location, location, location – there could be only one place – the romantic Italy. The concept – summertime, girls and boys. Need I say anymore? However, the marketing guru’s at the ad firm, were missing a vital ingredient. Music! Cue, the 60s legend, Andy Williams and one of the smoothest crooners ever! The song title? Hello? There can only be one, “Music To Watch Girls By“. This song, originally from 1967, was remixed especially for the commercial. The commercial and song became so popular, that a single was released. For further on this and my other two UK single purchases, please click here.

Well, tomorrow morning, I’ll be listening to this song (full blast) and hopefully, I’ll be noticed by ‘others’ rather than just be noticing others on the street or in their cars. The irony? I’ll be driving a Mark II, Fiat Punto. The other classic moment, is a reality, but its more of a gift from the company than anything else. We shall see how the, perhaps not ‘new’ Teg, but more a re-conditioned Teg is perceived on the streets of High Wycombe, through Hazlemere past my old school, Sir William Ramsay, up into Amersham and onto the M25 and beyond….

I would like to thank Mr. Dave Maher, for his help in making my dream a reality. Onwards and upwards, as the saying goes. Still got my eye on that beautiful light blue, Fiat Stilo Abarth.

Dave: “Give it time, my son…give it time…” :)

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