rashbre central: August 2022

Tuesday 23 August 2022

Floating along

We decided to visit the River Exe Café which floats on the river, off of the Exmouth coast.

We had to use a boat to get to it and once on board we were in for a treat. We'd also planned to be there for the sunset, so we'd get both a good view and then the approach of the magical evening.

As we were in the middle of the Exe Estuary we had been warned it might be windy, but no, it was a beautifully calm. Outside we could see sailboarders and small motor boats spinning around. We felt it had an almost Santa Barbara vibe in the sunshine.

Excellent food with west country accents and a wide variety of tipple. Luckily we'd come by taxi so I could also try some cocktails.

Delightful. And only a half hour from home.

got a feel for my automobile

A couple of friends and a neighbour have got electric cars. In each case they are insanely enthusiastic about their decision. All of them have different types of car too, with unfamiliar names like ID.3 and Ioniq5. I'm still in the era of 3,5,7 Series and A, C, E, S Class, plus the occasional Mondeo and Focus.

I didn't even realise that the S 3 X Y names were supposedly sexy, nor that Ford grabbed first dibs on the E, which scuppered Musk's plans. 

But since I started to drive electric I've become another one of the enthusiasts. What's not to like about having a space in the front where the engine would normally go? The Frunk. And all those dials that are no longer necessary. Oil Pressure. Water Temperature. Revolutions per minute. All gone.

Four wheel drive - yes, but no transmission tunnel. No complicated plumbing. No gearbox, no clutch.

I was sceptical about not having a separate speedometer and  just having one big screen with largely the sat-nav on it. But now I've used it, it is so much simpler. I've also received about four over the air (OTA) updates containing new features. And as for one pedal driving, with regenerative braking. Nice.

And I've realised that the Operating System has actually been designed for a car, not as an afterthought. And to think, in my novel Sleaze, a couple of characters said to one another that blokes in bars wouldn't be able to talk about cars after they all went electric.

Monday 22 August 2022

Queuing Theory

That's not a picture of the Passport Office, although it is in Peterborough. I arrived the previous evening and then was early to my appointment. I asked if I could go in early. The security man politly laughed. He suggested I come back 15 minutes before my appointment time, which I did. 

"Get into the Queue," the next security man suggested. 

"What Queue?" I asked.

"Behind that lady." 

I was now in a queue of two people, waiting for my 1pm appointment. By the time we were let in, I was at the front of a significant queue. Then for the airport security and the dishing of the deli-counter style raffle ticket. I was quite a high number and I noticed that the system was running late. I suddenly realised that all 50 or so people from my queue had been booked for the same slot as me 13:00-13:30. 

I could see that there were only 2 interview stations open and they both had quite long and earnest sounding stories running.

"You lost it? - where?"
"I can't remember."
"When did you lose it?"
"I can't remember that either."
"Have you some other proof of identity?"

... and so it went on. I thought it would be a miracle if that person was able to get a passport.

My turn at the desk.

"Photos? Form? Old Passport?"

The whole thing took three minutes and I was given piece of paper saying I would receive a new passport by courier within week. Guaranteed.

I was just worried about the Bank Holiday and the various strikes. Then back to the car for a four hour journey home. The Superchargers at Rugby were quite pleasant and I had a tiny picnic at a table on the grass.

Wednesday 17 August 2022

Wot? No Passport

One of my recent routes is not accurately portrayed on the map in one of my prior posts. I had to make the trip from Exeter to Peterborough and back in one extended journey. I realised we were going abroad, and was just checking my passport. It expired on 22 September, so I would not have the requisite 3-6 months grace at the end of the trip. 

Panic Stations. 

I used to always keep two passports running for work, but didn't bother to renew them both the last time. I even had the passport office call me to check. Then, since we were in Iceland, I havn't been anywhere over the last couple of buggy years. I can vaguely recollect that my passport expired in 2022, but that seemed ages away. 

Except now it isn't.

I had to enter the competition on gov.uk to get a Fast Track Passport. It used to be possible to get one from a Post Office in a week, but now they were quoting 10 weeks for the fast track. Instead I tried the Fast Track bidding process.

From Exeter, the nearest place was initially Belfast. Then London, but they all went in seconds. Then a lone early appointment appeared in Peterborough. I clicked it and plunked down my £large_sum to get a interview at the Peterborough office. Only 250 miles each way. I could do the whole journey with only one recharge of electricity.

Still, it would give me a chance to try out the new car.

Tuesday 16 August 2022


I'm part way around a complicated trip at the moment. I worked out that I've got 24 nights in hotels between now and the 15 September, and then a couple more nights away in the latter part of September. I guess it is a fitting end to my time with my current car, although about half-way along the route I should pick up the new one. The route map only shows the middle part of the journey, but it is enough to be indicative of the rest.

Monday 15 August 2022


I've driven Mercs for years, ever since I worked in Stuttgart, I even collected a couple of the cars from the factory and drove them back on German plates, to be re-certified in the UK. It used to be a thing. Personal collection from Germany. Fly out, drive back.

Now I'm swapping to another manufacturer. Some might say a disruptor. And quite a shock to see how the car trade values my previous car. 120,000 miles, admittedly, but still drives fresh. Someone, at auction, will pick up a bargain. 

Thursday 11 August 2022


The little app that runs on the iPhone is deceptively simple. I can order an entire car with it, selecting options in much the same way as I'd configure a new iPhone. Input the model type, how many motors? type of wheels? colour and a couple of options for the level of driver assistance. I selected a high level, because I was used to the cleverness of my old Merc. 

Once I'm in the game, it suggests the installer for the wall charger, the finance package available from a reputable UK provider and so it goes on. I can tell I'm running on the rails of the App now.

One thing they don't tell you about is the length of the waiting lists for the different models.

However, my friends at the farm shop seem to have a few clever hacks.

Wednesday 10 August 2022

Wall Charger

I decided to take the plunge toward an electric car. The local farm shop has a glass shed with a small sales office and I went along for a look. To be honest, I'd never even noticed the sales office before - and I think they want to call them -ahem- Galleries. 

I took a look and they persuaded me to come back for a test drive. I was sceptical but then hooked. 'All it takes is a small deposit, of say £200 to get into the queue of people waiting for these cars'. 

More to follow.