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You know it’s a Chalky trip when…

Posted by Chalky on Oct 13, 2009 in Bad Luck

There’s lots of Bad Luck! I really should have probably guessed that my trip to Sri Lanka wouldn’t quite go according to plan. I didn’t, however, expect it to start going wrong before I’d even left the country!

A couple of days before my departure, I received an e-mail with my Schedule for the week. The original plan was to leave on Saturday afternoon, arrive Sunday, work for 4 days, enjoy a day off in Colombo and then return Saturday afternoon. As it turned out, I was now working 5 days with no time to do much sightseeing. It was a bit of a blow but I thought I’d at least have the Sunday afternoon to play with… How very wrong I was!

On Saturday afternoon, I embarked on the trip down to London. We set off at about 12:45 and popped to Meadowhead Post Office before heading towards the M1. We were not due to Check In at Heathrow Terminal 4 until 6pm but I set off really early because I was expecting there to be a lot of problems with Road Works and general weekend traffic. I was pleasantly surprised that despite there being 4 lots of 50 MPH SPECS controlled Road Works that we managed to get to the Purple Parking (just a few miles away from the airport) in very good time. We arrived at Terminal 4 just gone 4 o’clock and was immediately greeted with the Departures board informing us that our flight had been delayed until 01:00,the original flight time being 21:35.

After the bitter disappointment and as the Check-In Desk wasn’t yet open, we decided to get some dinner before embarking on our imense amount of sitting around. We headed over to Cafe Rouge, which I’m pleased to say, went without a hitch. I know there is a Cafe Rouge in Sheffield but I have not been for many years, and even then, it was only for a Coke. I treated myself to a Leffe Blonde which I’ve not had since I was in France last Christmas. We also ate there, I had a rare Bavette steak which was lovely. I’m used to expecting sub-standard food from Airport eateries, but this was as I’d expect if I’d bought it elsewhere and reasonably priced!

After the meal, we headed over to the Check-In Desk which we were still expecting to be closed but we though we’d start queueing up so that we could get a decent seat. To our horror, the Check-In Desk had opened early and there was already a huge queue for the flight. By the time we had got to the front, all the window seats had been taken so we ended up being stuck in the middle of the aircraft. This certainly didn’t help matters as I often get Travel Sick unless I am next to a window and I was a bit disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to see the Maldives as we came in to land as I’ve been told the view is beautiful. But, never mind, I would much rather have had the meal in Cafe Rouge than have been stood queueing any longer that we had already.

After clearning security, we had a wonder up and down the Duty Free area to get our bearings and see what was about. It was disappointing to see that a large number of the shops were actually closed for refuribishment, typically the ones I would have actually like to have gone in too! I’m unsure how we managed to pass most of the time but eventually, we decided that we should probably go for a beverage. The terminal only has one Public Bar which, as you’d expect, was absolutely rammed! So we wondered around some more. Eventually, we were the only people left in the Terminal and I managed to sneak a quick pint of Gaymers in before Last Orders and the bar closing. But, it was still only 10pm so we had another few hours to kill. By this time, everything was shut so we had even less to keep us entertained.

The Depature Screen was updated to show that we were now expecting to leave at 24:00 so we were hoping that would lead to one less hour of sheer bordem. This was not to be the case because as we arrived at the Boarding Gate at 23:00 as advised, it was clear we were in for another wait. We didn’t actually start boarding until about midnight.

After boarding the plane, I’m happy to say that the flight went without a hitch and I managed to have a nice long sleep through most of it and then watched The Proposal when I woke.

When we touched down in Colombo, I was expecting to be bombarded with people wanting to carry my bags for me. I was pleased that this was not the case. It took a little while for my bags to come round on the conveyor belt but eventually I was wondering towards the exit looking for my chauffer over to the Cinnamon Grand. Unfortunately, with a mix up with the dates and the added delay of the flight, there wasn’t actaully anyone to pick us up. Luckily, there was a representative of the hotel at the airport who quickly called for someone to come and pick us up.

After returning from my evening meal, I found that my door kept ‘beeping’ at me. I couldn’t get to sleep because the door was ‘beeping’ so loudly. I went up to the door to see what was up with it; I opened the door to see if the light on the front was flashing. As the door closed behind me, I found out what the ‘beeping’ was, the battery had died in the Card Key lock! So I couldn’t get back into my own room! I went down to the Reception desk, but I don’t think they quite understood my explaination of what was wrong with the door. They issued me with another Card Key which after waddling 7 floors back up to my room, I found didn’t work. So I waddled back down and this time the Receptionist followed me up to the room with a key. He then sent for some Hotel Engineers to come and attend the door. Three sets of batteries later, I then had a working door once again!

Obviously, I have and will have a lot more to talk about, but with the amount of bad luck I had at the beginning, I thought it deserved its own post!

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Prostitution is revolution. You can hate me, until you pay me!

Posted by Chalky on Jun 21, 2009 in Bad Luck, Music, Review

Last.fm Mock PosterI can’t believe it’s been over a month since this actually happened.. Anyway… After two cancelled gigs, on Wednesday 20th May Afternoon I finally ventured down to Nottingham to go and see Cobra Starship. I ended up having to go on my own but I wasn’t going to let this spoil my enjoyment too much.

The journey down to Nottingham was much quieter than I expected was going to be, indeed it only took me 50 minutes to get down there despite the roadworks on the M1 and the fact that the VMSs saying that there was long delays between Junction 27 and Junction 25. There wasn’t any traffic and I was getting off at Junction 26 anyway.

Nottingham greets its visitors by lining the streets with SPECS cameras and Red Traffic Light Camera which makes you feel extremely welcome(!)

The Premier Inn that I was staying in, the Nottingham Centre (Goldsmith Street), was pretty easy to find and was very convenient as it is on the same road as The Rescue Rooms. They were originally meant to be playing Rock City, but ended up in the Resue Rooms instead. This Premier Inn was the most expensive I’ve ever been to (when you include parking which is normally free) and is the first I have been to where you have to surrender your Car Keys. I’m sure I’ll do a more detailed post about it later.It turned out that most of the Cobra Starship Crew were staying in the same hotel.

pit_and_pendulumAfter settling in the hotel, I decided whether or not that, dispite being on my own, I should stick with my original plan for the evening. After mulling it over whilst having a long soak in the bath, I decided that I might as well go for it. So I headed off in search of the Pit and Pendulum Errie Pub. After leaving the Premier Inn, it took me a little while to get my bearings as it’s been nearly a year since I was last in Nottingham. After walking past the, already, queing Cobra Starship fans (it was only 5pm and doors opened at 6:30) I managed to make my way over to Victoria Street, passing by the Hostel that I stayed in for the Paramore gig last year.

They had a 2 for £6(ish) offer on their Seven Deadly Sins Cocktails so I decided to treat myself to a couple before going for their Double Burger with Cheese and Bacon which also included a pint of Fosters, oops! The bar staff were very friendly however the burger was the greasiest thing I have ever eaten! Didn’t stop me polishing it off though!

I headed back to the Resue Rooms where there was now a long queue which remained civilised until it starting pissing it down whereby everyone rushed under the large umberella’s outside. Once in the venue, I noticed how small it is! I’ve only ever been in the other half of the Rescue Rooms and hadn’t been in the Gig bit before.

MiMi SoyaThe first Support Act MiMi Soya from Brighton were OK but really failed to get the crowd going which made them a bit disappointing. I can’t really remember any of the songs they played. During their set, I started getting a tight chest which I first attributed to the drink but promptly decided it was a mini Asthma attack so I had to drag myself back to the Premier Inn, get my keys back for the car and grab my inhaler. I then sat back in the bar for a while with a glass of iced water. A good start to the evening(!).

By the time I’d finished expiring and got back to the Rescue Rooms, MiMi Soya had finished their set and it was the turn of Cash Cash. <CONTENT REMOVED>

Sing It LoudThe final Support Act was Sing It Loud who were by far the most recongnised by the crowd. Indeed, some of the crowd in front of me got so excited that they started jumping up and down and managed to hit me in the face, leaving me with a nosebleed. At which point, I was beginning to think that the evening couldn’t possibly get any worse!

I had never heard them before, nor any of the other Support Acts but I will certainly be looking out for their EPs and Albums as well as Cash Cash. I’ll be looking forward to seeing them again at some point.

Cobra StarshipAt 8:30, it was the turn of Cobra Starship themselves. As soon as they came out on stage, you could tell that the wait was going to have been worthwhile. Everyone at the gig were true fans and all knew the words to every song that was played. They played all of my favourite and was probably, despite the set backs, the most enjoyable gig I have been to.

Cobra Starship apologised for it taking them so long to get back to the UK and are currently working on their third album. I hope it’s not too far away and they get their act together next time round.

The gig ended with Snakes on a Plane from the movie with the same name.

After the gig, I stumbled back to the Hotel and had a drink in the Hotel Bar and then headed up for an early night after battling with the Key Card for the Lift for some time!

¡Viva La Cobra!

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XBOX 360 in Disgrace

Posted by Chalky on Nov 29, 2008 in Bad Luck, Technology

Well, it was inevitable really wasn’t it. I should have known from the first crash that with my Bad Luck it was a sign that my XBOX 360 was slowly crawling onto it’s deathbed! Pretty annoying really when I’ve just bought 2 games for it and I’m getting Guitar Hero World Tour for my Birthday from Jill.

I was a bit worried at first because my XBOX 360 is coming up to its 2nd Birthday which would mean that the Console is out of warranty. Seeing as my XBOX was fine before the installation of NXE I thought I’d give them a ring to see what’s what. I endured the torture that is Max. Max is the name of the XBOX Support Line Automated Voice Activated System. Unfortunately he is seemingly deaf and has been programmed to respond to an American persons voice, meaning that he has completely incapable of understanding what I was saying. However, I eventually managed to get to talk to a real person, for future reference, the trick is to keep saying AGENT and he’ll eventually dial out to the Call Centre. 

Luckily (I know, it surprised me too), the 3 Red Lights of Death/Doom/Unhappiness is covered by an extended warranty of 3 years which means that my XBOX 360 will be repaired for free. So really, it was quite lucky that it happened now and not a year down the line! I’ve just got to try and get the game out of the XBOX and remove the Hard Drive before I package it up and send it on it’s merry way. They said it’ll be returned 2-3 weeks after it has been picked up. I’m hoping it’s the former because otherwise I won’t have it for my Birthday!

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Microsoft XBOX NXE

Posted by Chalky on Nov 23, 2008 in Bad Luck, Technology

Well, after having my XBOX sat in a corner unplugged and unloved for such a long time, I thought I’d better wipe of the dust and give it a whirl. What sparked me to do this was a discussion at work about the New XBOX Experience which, for those who don’t know is the latest (and biggest) overhaul since the XBOX’s release. 

It’s not been a particularly easy journey getting it to work on my XBOX. When I plugged it in I immediately got a message telling me an update was available which lead me to think that the process would be completely plainless. WRONG! As usual, the Chalky Bad Luck kicked in and my XBOX crashed quite a few times during the installation.

Anyway, I got it working in the end and I have to say I’m quite impressed. Where it is clear in many places that they have “borrowed” a few ideas from the Wii. However, in a complete opposite to the normal Microsoft way of doing things, they have managed to make an improvement on the idea.

I haven’t explored all of the new features yet, but I have made my Avatar:

I found that there was 100′s of different ways to change the Avatar’s face but they’d skimped a bit on the clothing department. The Shirt I chose wasn’t ideal but it was the only one I found that I fancied. I was also a bit disappointed that there wasn’t any trainers either. I’m sure that this is something that Microsoft will keep adding to!

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Not So Premier Hand Car Wash

Posted by Chalky on Nov 6, 2008 in Bad Luck, Driving, Rants

If, like me, you’re too lazy to wash your car properly yourself you’ll probably take your car to your local car wash. I’ve always been told not to use a mechanical car wash that uses brushes and I’ve heard a tale or two about the consequences. Now I have my own story!

For the past year I’ve been using the Premier Hand Car Wash on Queens Road next to Halfords. I’ve taken all 3 of my cars (Pipsqueak the Seicento, Percy the Punto and now Clarence the C3) as well as my friend’s Daihatsu Terios and not really had any problems… until now (and they certainly made up for it)!

I took my car in this afternoon because it was well overdue for a wash, I think I must have left it a couple of months and with the recent bad weather it was looking a right state. So I popped down to Queens Road and got my car washed. Everything appeared to be OK, but I noticed they seemed to be taking an extraordinarily long time to clean my car and kept blasting it with the pressure washer. I just assumed this was because my car was extremely dirty. 

However, once I got home and got out of the car, I realised the real reasoning for the extra time spent:

 

Front-Right Door

Front-Right Door

 

Rear-Right Door

Rear-Right Door

 

Between Right Doors

Between Right Doors

 

Aerial

Aerial

It’s pretty much the same on the other side too. Suffice to say, I wasn’t best pleased so I went straight back down to Queens Road. To be fair, they were very apologetic and did take full responsibility, but that doesn’t stop my car looking a complete wreck.

It turns out that they’d managed to spray the Acid that they use on wheels (to loosen dirt) all over my car and that they had realised which was why they kept spraying my car… Nice of them to tell me first time round! They’ve arrange for their bodyshop man to come and sort my car out next week. I’m a bit miffed that I’m going to have to drive the car for nearly a week in the state that it is in but I suppose there’s nothing I can really do. I certainly won’t be settling for anything less than the handles looking in perfect condition as they were pre-washing. If not, they’re going to have to pay for them to be replaced.

Whilst they’ve assured my that this won’t damage the paint work on my car, I’m not really convinced so I’m going to get my Uncle Nigel to check the whole car over. He’s hoping it will be OK but he says I’ll find out by Sunday if it’s not going to be (by the very fact that the paint will start to come off)!

So, the moral of the story is don’t be lazy and wash your car yourself! But, if you are still far to lazy to wash it yourself, you might want to think more carefully about where you take it!

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Clarence in Disgrace

Posted by Chalky on Oct 9, 2008 in Bad Luck, Driving, Scunthorpe, Work

 

Clarence, a literal shadow of his former self

Clarence, a literal shadow of his former self

On Monday, I took the extremely long way home, via Recovery Truck! I 

Whilst on the M180, I began to smell a funny smell. I’m almost certain it wasn’t actually my car that was causing the smell but by this time, I was so paranoid about the whole thing that I didn’t really want to carry on. I pulled onto the Hard Shoulder and called the AA. They said that I would be placed on the High Priority list seeing as I was stranded on the Motorway rather than being in a safer location. An hour later, a Recovery Truck pulled up behind me.

The Recovery Man was a very friendly man and had lots of interesting things to talk about. He had been a roofer for 22 years and then one day, a voice inside him said that he couldn’t do it anymore and explained that a few of his friends had had similar experiences, ignored them and then died a few weeks later from accidents at work. He decided to follow the voice in his head and gave up in favour of his current job.

We also talked about the current drinking culture in the UK and about Christmas and the New Year. It certainly made the journey a lot easier as I had visions of sitting in silence for the whole one and a half hour journey. 

After arriving just across the road from my house, we un-loaded the stricken Clarence and, after directing him to the local KFC, limped the C3 the rest of the way home. 

I’m currently using Percy, my Mk. 1 FIAT Punto to get me to and from work. Thank heavens I hadn’t got round to selling it yet! Looks like I’ll need to call in a few favours with my Uncle when he gets back of holiday! 

Thanks to Nitesh for suggesting my car should by called The Giddy-me-up to KFC Chariot instead of Clarence… He knows me so well!

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When is Contextual not Contextual? When it’s Facebook Contextual!

Posted by Chalky on Sep 5, 2008 in Bad Luck, Rants

Is it me, of has Facebook not quite gathered what a Contextual Ad actually is?

Here’s what our old friend Wikipedia has to say about Contextual Advertising:

Contextual advertising is a form of targeted advertising for advertisements appearing on websites or other media, such as content displayed in mobile browsers. The advertisements themselves are selected and served by automated systems based on the content displayed to the user.

This is what I also thought a Contextual Ad was. It is odd to me, therefore, that when I logged in a loaded up my Facebook profile today that I was greeted with this:

How charming is that. Get your contexts right Facebook, FIX IT!

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Poor Clarence :(

Posted by Chalky on Aug 25, 2008 in Bad Luck, Driving

Today, I woke up to the wonderful news that my car has been broken into. They got in through the passenger-side window and stole my TomTom and iPod out of the Glovebox. It’ll be a while before I can afford to replace them but I suppose a lesson has been learned.

On a more positive note, I have to say I am very impressed with the way that Admiral has dealt with everything. The phone was answered immediately by a UK call centre and the representative was both helpful and polite. I’ve decided to just claim for the Window to be replaced rather than putting in a full Theft Claim as I’d lose my (already none-existant) No Claims Bonus and they’d only give me £100 for the lot so it was hardly worth it.

Anyway, National Windscreens (who I’m also pretty chuffed with) should be here at 1:30 so we’ll see what’s what.

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Nildram

Posted by Chalky on Jul 8, 2007 in Bad Luck

The saga has finally ended! For those of you who don’t know, I’ve had a rather long standing battle with Nildram (my ex. Internet Service Provider).

Way back in January of this year, I switched banks from NatWest to Barclays. Barclays made the process very easy for me by transferring all of my Direct Debits and Standing Orders, all was left for me to do was inform John Leggott College so that my wages would go in the new account and The Student Loans Company for the same reason. Everything appeared to go swimmingly, all of my Direct Debits were set up and none of the companies I had them set up with were making any complaints.

Everything ticked along fine until mid-June where one day, my sister rang me up and informed me that the Internet at home was not working. When I went home at the weekend I went in my room to find a red light on my ADSL router. I immediately rang Nildram’s Technical Support department to find out what was wrong with my Broadband Service. 10 minutes later (on a national rate number) someone finally answered. They told me that my account had been suspended by the Accounts department. On asking why this had been the case the operator told me that he was unable to give me that information. I asked if he could put me through to someone who could, the operator told me he couldn’t, they only work weekdays. I asked for the telephone number for the Accounts department so that I could call them on Monday morning in order to resolve the issue. I was given yet another premium rate number.

I protested about the fact that my broadband had been cut-off without any notification and with no way of resolving the situation. Eventually, the operator begrudgingly gave me a ‘temporary log-on’ which he stated very clearly that it would be disabled first thing on Monday morning. I told the operator that I was disgusted with the service I had recieved and that I wanted my MAC code in order to move to another Broadband Provider. Yet again, I was sent around the houses, however, this time I was given a Freephone number for the Sales department (how ironic). The Sales department were surprisingly compliant and gave me my MAC code with the minimum of fuss.

I’m still pretty disgusted with the way I was treated. Nildram have always been pretty good, especially if any faults have occured. However, I have not had much dealings with them since they were taken over by Pipex. I think this probably pays a large part into why the customer service has slipped so drastically. Needless to say, both Nildram and Pipex will be going on the list of companies I will be avoiding from now on… Sorry Mr. Hasselhoff!

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