Friday 25 November 2022

Driver 308’s Commonwealth Games Adventure-Day 6

Day 6 July 9th  2022

Today we went to the sea-side, leaving our hotel, Dunstan Hall, just after 8am, for Great Yarmouth. A reasonably quick journey due east on the A47 and we parked up beside the Venetian Waterway. After dark this looks quite magical with illuminated boats cruising along the waterways, by day its still an interesting place though. Our BBs were waiting for us in the Furzedown Hotel. One of our BBs, Rachel was a Team England Shot Putter, whilst another Melissa, who had an untreatable brain tumour, had raised a lot of money for Cancer Research. On the Relay we met a lot of amazing Baton Bearers, all had been nominated for a variety of reasons; their volunteering, fund raising, overcoming illness or injury, inspiring and supporting others in sport. In many cases their activities had been performed throughout their life, over more than 50 years in some cases.

After dropping our BBs on the Promenade we left Gt Yarmouth at 10:15 for  quite a long drive to the West Suffolk Sports Centre in Bury St Edmunds, arriving at mid-day. Here we were able to join the rest of the crew for a sandwic lunch. Everyday there was a planned lunch stop, where possible we tried to be at the lunch stop as it meant we didn’t have to buy our own lunch, This was the first time our schedule allowed us to be at a lunch stop. We were responsible for picking up BBs once they had completed their segment, at the Cathedral we picked up a lady who had been involved with netball for over 50 years both as a player and a coach. After returning her to the Sports Centre our activities for the day were finished. We now had to find our way to Westone Manor Hotel in Northampton where we would be spending the night.

Now might be a suitable time to mention laundry. As we were going to be on the road for 25 days, in different hotels every night, with only a few changes of clothes there had to be a way of getting out dirty clothes washed. We were given a large black cotton ‘sack’ with our number on and a smaller white mesh zip bag also with our number on.

The male mesh bags had blue zips and the female mesh bags had pink zips. You might be wondering why……

All our clothes had to be marked with our crew number which was fine for coats, trousers and shirts but not practical for small items like underwear, socks and hankies. The mesh bag was for the un marked ‘smalls’ and they would be washed in the mesh bag. Larger items. Shirts, trousers etc would be placed in the black cotton bag and they would be tipped out washed and then returned to the correct bag using the crew number written on the clothing. The first laundry day most of the large items were in the black bags and all the mesh bags were correct. Despite being correctly numbered my trousers and a shirt were missing and I had to sort through all the unclaimed washing to find them.

As a result of chaos with the first washing day the managers asked anyone going home or past their home to drop washing off or do it there if they could.

Our route from Bury St Edmonds took us on the A428 to Bedford, A421 J13 of the M1, as I lived very close to J14 I was able to call in at home at exchange dirty clothes for clean. Ally was also able to go to Boots at Kingston and buy essential supplies for herself and her female colleagues.

As I drove up Brickhill Street past Japonica Lane the shuttle bus was caught on video.

Back to the Laundry. The next laundry day was an absolute disaster. The contents of the black bags were washed and correctly returned to the black bags. If only they had done that with the mesh bags! The mesh bags were opened, emptied out and washed together. Because nothing in the mesh bags was numbered it was impossible to return items to the correct bag. Two large boxes came back from the laundry; one contained the contents of the female mesh bags and the other the contents of the male mesh bags. That night there were 60 people rummaging through the boxes of underwear trying to find their items.

I can only say I had no trouble whatsoever identifying what had been in my mesh bag! Two weeks later at the end of the relay there was still a lot of unclaimed pants, socks, kinckers and bras!

We arrived at Westone Manor in time for the evening meal which we ate outside in the rather splendid garden terrace. I had a room to myself tonight and that was nice as tomorrow was an R&R day so I could have lie in.

Friday 18 November 2022

Marshall Amplification

Marshall Amplification is a British company that designs and manufactures music amplifiers, speaker cabinets, brands personal headphones and earphones, a record label and, having acquired Natal Drums, drums and bongos. It was founded by drum shop owner and drummer Jim Marshall, and is now based in Bletchley, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.

Marshall's guitar amplifiers are among the most recognised in the world. Their signature sound, characterized by sizzling distortion and "crunch," was conceived by Marshall after guitarists, such as Pete Townshend, visited Marshall's drum shop complaining that the guitar amplifiers then on the market didn't have the right sound or enough volume. After gaining a lot of publicity, Marshall guitar amplifiers and loudspeaker cabinets were sought by guitarists for this new sound and increased volume. Many of the current and reissue Marshall guitar amplifiers continue to use valves, as is common in this market sector. Marshall also manufactures less expensive solid-state, hybrid (vacuum tube and solid state) and modelling amplifiers.

Alex Fox

Friday 11 November 2022

Fun Day at Camphill Milton Keynes

Everyone needs a little unstructured fun in their day, and a Fun Day is perfect for having time dedicated to exactly that. It gives everybody the chance to unwind, relax, and get a little silly, released from the confines of orderly work routines to remember what life is supposed to be all about. 

In today’s high-speed world, with its constant pressure to go farther, get more done, be more productive, and climb in our careers, having a little fun often goes by the wayside. The stress of this lifestyle has been shown to have a constant and growing negative effect on the overall health of people. A Fun Day is a reminder to break the stressful line of day to day living, and to go out and have some Fun! 

Alex Fox

Friday 4 November 2022

Driver 308’s Commonwealth Games Adventure-Day 5

Day 5 July 8th  2022

This was Alison’s R&R day so I was working with Sarah again. Sarah had recently left  West Midlands after being a police officer for 19 years. She had two grown up sons and a teenage daughter. We got on very well and made a good team. The first location we had to be at today was the Lee Valley Aquatic centre which is a man made white water rafting and canoeing facility at Waltham Cross in Essex. One of our BBs was Olympic Canoeist Mallory Franklin.

Here is Sarah briefing Mallory on the left and Lyn who was to carry the baton in a raft, Lyn is wearing a life jacket under her baton bearer shirt. Lyn, who had swam the English channel many times had to change into a wet suit and take a water survival test when she arrived at Lee Valley. She had no idea that she would have to hold the Baton while riding the white water in a raft! She hadn’t even got a swim suit to wear!

Here is Lyn ready for the raft going down the white water run, she is wearing a yellow helmet.

At Lee Valley they had a very cool thing for getting canoes up to the top of the white water run, a sort of conveyor belt.

When we left Lee Valley to travel to  Wardown Park, Luton we had a police motor cycle escort. The short video shows some of the many highlights of this 45 minute journey out of Waltham Abbey, along the A10, M25 and M1. Much of the journey on the M1 was on the hard shoulder as the motorway was almost at a standstill due to sheer volume of traffic. Mid afternoon on a Friday is never good time to be travelling north on the M1 towards Luton.

The video of  full 50 minute journey is also available but at over 2gb is too large to be embedded in a blog.

As we had no BBs requiring a ride back to their collection point, which was exactly where we were at the big celebration in Wardown Park we were free to make our way to tonights hotel, Dunston Hall near Norwich. This was quite a journey and we had to refuel at Barton Mills. This did not go quite to plan as there was a problem with the fuel card. It was eventually sorted out with a 30 minute phone call and the use of a manual auth, paper voucher and Zip-Zap machine.

Dunstan Hall when we arrived looked stunning.