Sunday, May 29, 2022

Hold my hand

Last night headed to see the Top Gun Maverick. We had been awaiting the arrival of the film for years, much delayed thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic we were excited to see Tom Cruise jet off once again.

We had decided to view it at the Light Cinema in Stockport. I met up with Ian to catch the train to Stockport only to find it had been cancelled. We ended up taking a taxi meeting up with Dan and Berger at the Swan with Two necks opposite the Red Rock complex. 

I haven't been in the Swan for many years maybe even a decade, it hasn't changed much with the wood panelling and anachronistic Smoke Room. Enjoyed a pint there before heading in the the Light.

I enjoyed the film, it was similar to the New Star Wars or Star Trek films been made to mirror the scenes and characters of the original in a way to keep old fans happy but have some new younger cast brought in. Interestingly as the film goes on the planes get older. Starting out with the experimental Jet to the F18, F14 ended the film with Cruise piloting a WW2 era prop plane. The cinematography was amazing, not a complete cgi lots of live action cameras strapped in cockpits and on the wing tips. It certainly was entertaining and well worth catching on the big screen.

On the way home another train was cancelled so we had to catch the very last train, after spending the day with Thom and in the Garden I was ready for bed. Think I am missing Cruises ability to still perform at the highest level in spite of his age.

Paramount have a twitter tool to generate you Top Gun Callsign, mine was rocket!

Everything's electric

Pre Race

Last Sunday was the Great Manchester Run. I had entered the 10KM so we headed out to Manchester on the train in the morning. I was in the White Wave starting 11:47 so had plenty of time. The trains were packed with runners and with city fans heading into town early to soak up the atmosphere pre game.

I had done the Great run a few times before, its a great event with loads of support on the course. The event started as part of the Manchester commonwealth games. I read that it's the third biggest participation event in the UK beaten in numbers only by the London Marathon and Great North Run.

While I was running Kath took Thom to relax in the peace garden. These are now part of the recently redeveloped Lincoln Square. At the moment its a slightly weird space with lots of new butemupty shop units. However the Lincoln statue now has more space to and the Peace gardens are back after being moved from St Peters square to make room for the second city crossing.

Waiting to start

I always found it slightly weird that there is a statue of Lincoln here, seems slightly incongruous to have an American president in a British city, Manchester supported the Yankee states and their desire to end slavery even though the blockade on the confederate states hurt the economy of Manchester.

I must admit that I had not done a huge amount of training for the run so I was pleased to come in just under the 1 hour mark. Far from my personal best it was still a great effort and I really enjoyed the run.

After meeting with Kath we headed for some much needed food then hopped on the train back home. Fortunately the train home was much quieter.

Post race in Lincoln Square
If you fancy doing the Great Run Manchester use this link to get £10 off your entry.

Sunday, May 01, 2022


Thom playing with the water table
This weekend I am looking after Thom while Kath is working. Yesterday, I took him to my parents on the bike in the morning then spent the afternoon playing with the water table. Ive also taken him to the park on the swings which seems to be one of the favourite things at the moment.

Last weekend we journey to Wales to meet up with Kath's friend Jenny and her daughter. Her parents have a lovely cottage in the valleys. It was really nice to see the children interacting and we ended up getting Thom a writing tablet.

Thom on the Swings

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Bunsen burner


I took Thom to nursery on my bike for the first time this morning. Even managed to load up some more nappies and wipes. It was a little bit cold, so I put his big coat and a hat on underneath the helmet. He was still a bit sleepy at this point but I think he enjoyed it at least as much as he would have in the car.

I bought he Thule child seat which I can remove (apart from the frame mount) when not transporting Thom. Pretty impressed with it so far and its a breeze to cycle with the electric assistance of the X3.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

The head that tried to strangle itself

COP26 is currently going on up in Glasgow, so far we have more delegates from the fossil fuel industry than anyone else. Lot of mention of the electric car future, no enough mention of active transport. To try and do my bit I have been walking to pick up Thomas from nursery. Only a small act but 2.5MK there and back but saves something, plus I often walk past a line of cars waiting to park.

I have ordered a child seat for my X3 which is going to arrive tomorrow so should be able to pick him up on the bike which should be fun. Though he looks a bit like a goomba from super Mario with the helmet on.

Sunday, November 07, 2021

If you say the word

VanMoof X3 Box
On Thursday I finally received the bike I had ordered back in September. I rather large box arrived containing my brand new VanMoof X3 electric bike. The X3 packs a 503w battery with a claimed range around 30 miles. 

I bought this on cyclescheme a government backed scheme while enables you to purchase a bike via your employer. The payments are made over 12 months and are taken out of your pre tax income so you save paying the tax on them. 

Vanmoof bike toolkitBefore I was able to take it for a test spin I have to assemble a few items. Fortunately all the tools required come bundled in a neat little kit with he bike. The kit also includes a pump to inflate the chunky tyres.

The X3 is designed to be low maintenance, it uses hub gears which are covered from the elements. The chain has a good guard over it and the wheels are fitted with mudguards. It's all nicely engineered in a way to maintain pleasing aesthetics. 

The electronics and battery are all build into the frame. This helps the bike look quite normal, however it does mean that the battery can't be removed to charge you have to plug the bike in. This isn't an issue for me as I have a garage with power but for some might be a deal breaker.

Matrix display on X3 Bike
On the top of a the tube is a very basic matrix display which displays some status information  including the current speed while riding.

There is an inbuilt lock which with a tap locks the motor and activates at alarm. Anybody who attempts to interfere with the bike will be treated to a very loud alarm. There is an inbuilt modem and sim card allowing the bike to phone home with its location. I believe this is used by the bike detectives to track down stolen bikes. The X3 is also able to be registered in with Apples find me so you can view the location of the bike from your phone. There is also a manual method to unlock the bike tapping in a code if you phone is out of charge.

The Bike is controlled by an app on you phone, this controls some of the gear settings, the chime of the bell and records speed distance and assistance of rides. One thing I would have really like to see is some integration with Apple Health. While you are getting assistance you still have to pedal so some calories are being used!

I popped to the postoffice using the boost assist to ride up the steep Cow Lane in Wilmslow. This is exactly what I bought the bike for, I was able to quickly pop to the town centre and back at least as quickly as if I had used the car. It only used about 8% of the battery on using full assistance and boost up a steep hill so can make plenty of trips before needed a recharge.  

X3 post assembly
Overall so far very impressed will write up a more long term review once I have used it a few more times. 

X3 front wheel motor


Friday, August 20, 2021

Night City


This morning I completed Cyberpunk earning the Temperance achievement leaving Jonny Silverhand to take over Vs body. I had already completed as many of the ending the other ending branches. Personally I've found it an amazing game, in spite of the glitches (of which there are many!).

I bought Cyberpunk 2077 back in December. I got a deal with it on stadia which included a free stadia pro edition to play on. Its a huge world you can get lost in, it might not have been the groundbreaking event that it was hyped up to be. It is however in my opinion a solid and enjoyable game. I hope that they release some extra content for it.

Monday, December 28, 2020

All you're dreaming of

After a very hectic time spent mostly at the various hospitals or trying to catch up with deprived sleep, on Christmas Eve we finally made it home as a family. 

It all started last Wednesday when Kath went in for a routine scan. They decided at that point to keep her in the antenatal ward and induce the labour. It turned out not to be an exact science and with the labour ward being very busy it wasn't until Saturday evening her waters broke.

Thom was born at 6:03 on Sunday morning, I was handed him by the midwife while Kath was still asleep from the general anaesthetic. I sat for a few moments with my newborn son and wife wondering what just happened! It was a scary few hours after a labouring through the night, Kath ended up having to go back in to the theatre again to remove a blood clot and make sure there is no further bleeding. 

Thom's also had a rough time during the birth. He was rather bruised and one of his legs was swollen. They thought that the leg got injured during the birth, and after much faffing at Wythenshawe Hospital we were told to take him to Manchester Children's. It wasn't quite the first family outing that we had expected! Hardly a National Trust family fun site. Due to Covid only Kath and Thom were allowed in, it took them a few hours to decide to admit him. Initially they expected him to stay in Manchester while Kath went back to Wythenshawe. 

Fortunately after some conversations she ended up getting transferred to the Manchester Royal too. After an MRI scan it turned out his femur was fractured near the hip joint, this wasn't visible on an X Ray as with his age the hip growth plate is cartilage rather than bone. Initially we were told he would need a surgery to pin the bone, he was first on the list in the morning. When morning came however the consultant had done a MDT with others and some literature review and decided instead to treat Thom conservatively using a harness which Thom will have to wear for a few weeks. At which point we will take him back for another scan and see where he is at.

Christmas eve both Kath and Thom were discharged, finally we got to go home! It was a lovely feeling. On Christmas Day we got up a little tired but glad to be home. My parents brought round Christmas dinner for us, and they got to meet Thom. Fortunately even in Tier 3 there is an allowance for a support bubble for children under 2. We spent the rest of the day cuddled up watching TV, Kath had never seen "It's a Wonderful Life" before!