Slimming World 19th November 2007

It was party time again, this time for the Miss Slinky competition…

Hello from us!

Here we are, posing patiently though dying to tuck in to all the great food.

Miss Slinky!

And here’s Miss Slinky! The lovely Angela.

As for me…

Party time!

I had my own celebration going on. After a week of being really careful, Mr Scale was more than generous, reporting a loss of 7.5lb which takes my total weight loss too 6st 11lbs or 95lb or 43kg! That more than made up for last week’s little glitch, and puts my big Christmas target well in sight, only 5lb away. There are so many exciting targets coming up soon, I have no shortage of motivation. Next week could see me once again reaching my ‘stone a month’ target. I’m basing my menus this week on what I ate last week, and I’m making sure I’m drinking loads of water. But as I’ve learned in the past, my body’s a tricky old unit so I can never be sure of how it responds week by week. I do have faith in the plan, though, and I’m sure I’ll have more good news to report next week when I join Miss Slinky and my other pals for another week of giggles.

The journey continues…!

Car Shopping

Bob - Front

We had rather a nice surprise on Tuesday. We had Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday off work, because we were going to see An Evening With Andy Rouse on Tuesday night, and since I had plenty of holiday left, figured we’d take a bit of time around it.

On Tuesday morning, just as we were wondering what to do with the day up until we went to see Andy, my mobile rang. It was my mum, just calling to check that she had the right mobile number for me, and delete the other numbers she still had lying around from phones long since gone. Oh, and while she was talking to me, would we do something for them while we were off? Would we mind picking out our Christmas present for this year? Any car we wanted, with a budget of up to £10,000.

Obviously, it took a while to lift my jaw back up and speak coherently (well, as coherently as usual, anyway), but once I had, I agreed to have a look around.

Mercedes/Smart

So, on the way to Street, we took a detour to Taunton. Our first stop was at the Mercedes dealer to have a quick look at a Smart ForTwo. It was very much a long shot, as we wouldn’t be able to even offer anyone a lift and would struggle to take anything more than our shopping with us. Even having our cameras somewhere accessible from the seats would be tricky. Also, the safety of them would probably rank as mediocre in a ten year old car, and is pretty poor these days. Actually, looking back on it, I’m not even sure why I thought it might be an option, but I wanted to check if we could fit comfortably in one. We’re both on the weighty side, though Sam is very rapidly becoming less so, and I’m quite tall, so the first step with any car is to find out if we could actually get around in it comfortably.

We parked up and walked in to the dealer. There was a salesman quite handy, but he was on the phone. We waited around until he finished his call, but he then made another call without actually acknowledging our existence. We found our own way to the Smarts, and did get a slight glance from the cleaners, but only because we’d walked on the floor they’d just washed. The Smart fitted. The dealer seemed to be coming over, but he took a turn and walked past us without a glance. We got the message – were are not Mercedes people. Not even, in fact, Smart people. We left.

Toyota

Our next stop was Toyota. We’ve had two of them, and liked them a lot. We’ve always loved the dealers, too, and this one was no exception. We told the salesman that we were interested in looking at the Aygo and the Yaris, and he showed us around both. I’ve already written up a few thoughts on them. The biggest problem was the gearboxes. I drive an automatic, and I’ve only driven automatics since passing my test in a manual. I have no wish to start stirring a stick around now, not when the car is quite capable of doing that part itself. All of the current model Toyotas that have ‘automatic’ gearboxes actually have a MultiMode manual gearbox. You can switch it to automatic mode, but even then you have to lift off the accelerator to let it change gears. Not quite as automatic as we were hoping.

They had nothing used to show us, so we left it at that for the day and continued on to Street.

Exeter Car Supermarket

After some chat with my dad, I figured the Yaris was head of the list so far, but the gearbox was a bit of a concern. Our search continued.

On Wednesday, we thought we’d do a bit of a tour around the dealers in the Marsh Barton area of Exeter. We started with the Exeter Car Supermarket, thinking that would give us a good idea what the money would get us secondhand. The salesman seemed keen to show us the wide range of automatics he had available, right up until he had to admit that they had two. He did show us them – a Peugeot 307 and a Rover 25, but neither excited us in any way, and he didn’t seem very keen either.

Hendy Honda

We had actually tried to look at the Honda dealer in Taunton, but it had closed before we got there. So, we popped in to Hendy Honda in Exeter next. Our first impression of the dealer was that it was very much like a Toyota dealer – pleasant and friendly, with a quick greeting and a relaxing feeling. They told us that the Jazz was their cheapest car, but once it was up to a high enough spec to have the option of automatic, it was getting a bit beyond our price range, but they could show us some nice used cars within budget.

They had two Civics available, both nice, but one of a much higher spec than the other, and with a larger engine. They also had two CR-Vs, again, one rather newer and nicer than the other. And black.

I’d always fancied having a Toyota RAV-4, and the CR-V is Honda’s equivalent.

We had a bit to think about from that, so we headed home to ponder.

Ford

Next day, we decided we really should check out the dealers in Tiverton. Well, ok, so there’s a Vauxhall dealer, but we weren’t going to take the ‘consider everything’ policy quite that far.

We did call in at the Ford dealer, with very low expectations. The salesman was actually really quite good. The only thing he had there to offer us was a Fiesta, but it was a nice spec for a reasonable price. He also offered us what seemed like a reasonable price for our old Flossie.

Renault

Next, we headed for the Renault dealer, thinking that a Clio could be an option. He told us he had nothing at all in stock to show us, then said he’d take us out to show us both of them. We were confused, but he did show us a pretty nice looking Clio, and then a very surprising Scenic. The surprising thing was that we really liked it. It was only a year or so old, and not a bad price. He also offered us double what the Ford dealer had offered us for Flossie.

We had a new favourite. Right up until we got home and looked up Renault and the Scenic on the What Car JD Power Survey where the Scenic did badly and had a poor reliability record, and the Top Gear Survey where Renault were the second worst manufacturer.

Hmm. No.

Skoda

The very top ranking manufacturer in the Top Gear survey was Skoda, so we thought we’d have a look. They had nothing used available, and said that getting anything would be very difficult. They did have the Fabia (which I was careful not to call the Labia whilst at the dealer), but it was too far over budget, and they had a twelve week waiting list. That didn’t give them much incentive to give a good offer for Flossie, either, making things worse. Nice cars, and the dealer was very straight with us, but it didn’t seem like an option.

Hendy Honda

Back to Honda to poke the Civic and the CR-V again. Both were very nice. The Civic seemed much more sensible – a simple hatchback with good fuel economy. The CR-V was bigger than we need, drinks a bit too much petrol, and we don’t need to drive off road. We still wanted it.

We took both for a test drive. The CR-V was surprisingly easy to drive, and the extra height was good. It was comfortable, and had a bit more power than Flossie. Flossie is only a 1.3 auto, so she does struggle on some of Devon’s steeper parts. We’ve hit hills around here where we can only just creep up them at 10mph. The Civic felt a little firmer when cornering reasonably hard – roundabouts felt a little easier – but didn’t have such good visibility compared to the CR-V, and Sam came away with a bruise on her leg where the door was too close against her. I was a little more pressed against the centre console than I’m used to, but it was still quite comfortable. We left to ponder.

Decision Time

We had lots to talk about that evening, though Sam’s part in the conversation was mainly “WE CAN HAS HONDA CR-V?”. We finally concluded that yes, we can has Honda CR-V.

Sam called the salesman (Phil Sharpe – thanks, Phil!) on Friday morning, and confirmed that we would have the CR-V. My parents called him and paid the deposit.

Honda CR-V

We have decided to name it Bob. It’s a long story, and not actually very interesting or amusing, so I won’t go into it.

We filled in a bit more paperwork today, and although we still have a bit to do with changing the number plate over from Flossie, we’re pretty much all there now.

Anyway, pictures. Here we go – Bob:

Bob - Front

Bob - Side

Bob - Back

All being well, we’ll be picking him up in a week or so. We’ll miss Flossie – she’s been a good car, especially for a sheep, but we’re looking forward to the fun we’ll have around Devon with something a bit more powerful, and capable of pulling off the road wherever there are pretty things to photograph.

Two Toyotas – Yaris and Aygo

Not really a post as such, just a way of sharing more than 140 characters with @robertbook on Twitter – he was asking about the Aygo and Yaris, and we’ve just looked at them.

First off, although we’re in the process of buying a Honda, we’ve had two Toyota Corollas, and been very happy with them. We want a real automatic, though, and Toyota’s current autos are switchable manuals where you have to lift off the accelerator to let it change gear. Not as automatic as we wanted. Apart from that, we’d probably be buying another Toyota, and the main reason we’re going to Honda is that they seem very similar to Toyota in a lot of ways.

Aygo

My first thought on sitting in the Aygo was that it felt cheap. The dashboard felt like a cheap plastic thing stuck to the front of the car – no real feeling of quality. If the Aygo was the only option, I’d have been very tempted to just keep the 1998 Corolla we already had. The mechanical bits will be great, I’m sure, and if the interior feels ok to you, then go for it. The price is good, and it’ll be a reliable little car. I’d be surprised if it didn’t handle at least competently, too.

The other plus side was that even though it’s a very small car, it still felt reasonably roomy inside. Not big, but quite comfortable.

Well designed, and well made, just to a tight budget.

Yaris

The Yaris felt much nicer inside, much more like a ‘real car’. It’s a little bigger, and the extra space has been used to add bits of trim and padding, which makes everything inside feel more luxurious. It’s not a Mercedes S-Class, but it was a nice place to sit. There are more toys included, too, which is always nice.

Choice

I wouldn’t have felt good about switching from what we already had to the Aygo, but the Yaris would have felt like a step up. If you just want a reliable little car, especially for city driving, the Aygo may well be a great option. The Yaris felt like a lot more car for a little less money.

If you’re considering both, go have a look for yourself, though – Toyota dealers are nice friendly places, and they won’t pressure you into anything.

Slimming World 12th November 2007

Last week I talked about how it’s never a good idea to assume you know everything. And since last week’s adventure resulted in a weight gain, I must kick off today’s post by reiterating that. On this journey I’m learning all the time, and on Monday night I learned that a succession of days on the Green plan do not do me any favours. I’ll explain… the Green version of the Slimming World plan is the one that has things like potatoes, pasta, beans and peas as foods that can be eaten in unlimited amounts. Now, I like potatoes. And pasta. And beans and peas. If you tell me I can eat as much of this stuff as I like, I will eat vast quantities of the damn things.

At the time the amount I consumed didn’t seem like much (and in comparison to my pre-Slimming World life, it wasn’t). But I noticed on Sunday and Monday of last week that I feeling a bit ill – tired, sluggish, everything was a real effort… that feeling that often comes with the darker evenings and the colder nights. I only gained a pound, so it hasn’t scuppered my plans too much, but I doubt I’ll manage to lose a stone this month with 10lb to go and only 2 weeks left.

So, this week I’ve kept on Original, and kept everything fairly high protein and fairly low carb. I’ve still had some – bread, cereal etc. – but nowhere near the volumes as last week. Sneaky peeking on my home scale is showing encouraging results so I’m hoping that Mr Scale will be a bit more charitable next week. Michael will be joining me next Monday. Nope, I haven’t forced him to sign up… it’s party night to celebrate the Miss Slinky competition, and he’s taking photos. Of course, if he wants to say hi to Mr Scale, I’m not going to stand in his way. ;)

The journey continues…!

An Evening With Andy Rouse

Yesterday evening, we attended An Evening with Andy Rouse at the Stroud Theatre in Street. No, not in a street – a town called Street. It’s a whimsical name for a town, but the South West is rich in natural whimsy.

For those who don’t already know, Andy Rouse is a wildlife photographer who has won many awards, and taken an amazing number of truly great photos. He’s also known for his humour and love of West Ham (for non-Brits – that’s a football club, not a type of meat).

We had a great time. Before the show even started Andy was running around meeting people and joking with them, and selling books and calendars. I jumped in early to pick up a copy of his latest book, Understanding RAW Photography, getting it signed, and taking the chance to hand him a Moo card.

The show itself was great – a whole series of stories and anecdotes, all built around a huge number of slides. It was just like going to a friend’s holiday slideshow, except your friend is very funny, and he spent his holidays with a bunch of gorillas, penguins and bears, with a little help from the Royal Navy. We saw penguins surfing and skiing, bears catching salmon, and a very violent capercaillie attacking Andy.

We learned a few new things, too. If you’re a male osprey, bring sticks to the nest, not moss. Moss won’t get you laid. If you’re in the arctic, don’t bang on the toilet door to scare whoever’s in there for a laugh. They may well have a gun in one hand and a frozen turd in the other. Kingfishers are very speedy things. Oh, and West Ham are, apparently, excellent.

If you have an interest in wildlife, or photography in general, I’d certainly recommend seeing one of Andy’s talks if you get the chance. He’ll be touring again next year, and you can find out about shows in advance from his blog.