Saturday, 31 January 2015

Arriva - A word please?

Disclaimer - this is a post of my thoughts and ideas, while factual inaccuracies may result they are derived from the information available in public,

Arriva the shires we need to talk.

Over the last week you've announced changes to the Dunstable and Luton bus network with a consultation on at the moment. The problem is Houghton Regis News Desk broke the news of this first.

The Luton and Dunstable Busway made some positive changes to journeys for most of us but said busway misses out a lot of important services for the communities the buses serve. This means more stops for some but for now we have some legacy services left, like the 38 and the 24.

Now for many it's done the trick but the legacy services now suffer with dropping numbers, in some cases I see it's going to become unprofitable for them to run the legacy services as it is without changes. Problem is implementation of said changes made things worse for many, for instance. The 38 still runs, but on a 30 min basis over it's 15 minute basis (face it, one slowdown in bury park and everything bunches, and on the old setup it was really bad)

But from March, they want to delete the 38 and offshoot 39 buses. This will be detrimental to many people, from workers getting to the Woodside estate, parents and children going to schools, the elderly requiring medical assistance or rely on the service to be independent and the disabled/vulnerable who would not be able to make it to the busway due to it's distance or it's lack of options for those who require assistance.

The removal of the 38 (ignore the 39 for a moment please) would remove Ashton square, High street north and Houghton Road from any bus services bar council run ones that are not suitable for many commuters and not under the hiphop multi bus ticket scheme in place. cutting off access to three schools, doctors and dental practices, shops and access for those who require a bus service in specific areas.

Now here's the annoyance for me, Arriva have put a dedicated information page online with a survey but the information they've printed out tells you to go online, so those without internet or without the need for a computer will have no voice, plus the survey expires on the 3rd Feb. This is naughty Arriva.
Now for those offline Arriva have sent CBC Travel choices flyers about the proposed changes but as the staff have to be impartial as it's not being run with help from the hub. So unfortunately there's not much they can do bar pass you a flyer, but sends you to a weblink!

Now the community of Houghton Regis and Dunstable is split on the changes, many don't care as the busway serves their purpose and the others are worried as the 38 and 39 is their lifeline out of the home to town, doctors and other services. We'll not go in circles, it seems that's the Arriva Social Media dept's job.

Me and a few others want to represent those without internet access so their voices are not heard and in doing so wish to meet with Arriva staff to talk about this in a decent manner, the image below show's my fruitless conversation!

Well for now we have a few days left to spread the word. If you can help join this page, Tell your family who may be affected by the change, and please fill out the survey

I do have an idea for an alternate route which could fix a few issues for both residents and bring a good compromise.  A looped service, using smaller buses.

Arriva are trailing 7 electric buses in Milton Keynes, the buses previously used on these routes (according to spotters I've spoken to - this may not be gospel) were smaller vehicles, while the route is under trial could we not move the displaced buses here and try a looped service.

The service would serve Dunstable, Lewsey and Houghton Regis, but only certain buses would serve the L&D Hospital. Also on peak times for workers there could be a loop around the industrial estate.

These respective routes would be the
38L (loops to the busway,) similar route but goes to the busway to get back to Ashton Square.
38W for the industrial estate, missing out Lewsey park (a limited service for factory workers so they can interchange with other buses)
38H (loops to either the busway or the A505.) but adds the hospital into the route, the only one on the map that would actually stops directly outside the hospital.

All of these would interchange with other services on Ashton Square and opposite the Quadrant, High St.North, Dunstable, Morrisons in Houghton Regis and finally Dominic Square, Lewsey farm. meaning more services link up together, bringing more revenue for the company and a potentially better service.

Now before anyone says they want a complete service, it's going to be difficult to get this, especially with costs of operations compared to actual users throughout the day, not just in the peak times it becomes clear things do have to change. I wish it could be the same but this is the consequence of a fast services via the busway being introduced.

If you have something to say about this let us know below, and I'll try my hardest to get Arriva to respond!

Monday, 26 January 2015

Music monday - change

Well it's that time of the week - Music Monday

I was going to choose a theme but decided against it purely out of laziness today. That said the track I chose has it's own theme in a way, but for now I can't speak about it. (I keep you so out of the loop, there are reasons I assure you)

Take what you want from it - tell me your tune, it could be featured here too!

I'll be truthful with you now, this track I discovered on the white label scene many moons back - while the vinyl went missing years ago and many things changed it's still ripped on the hard disc and stacked on the phone, ipod, virtualDJ setup ready for a blast and a blat when the mood deems fit.

The tune is: 3rd Core - Mindless and Broken MJ Cole Mix

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

We're going to the London Bike Show!

Last year both me and Vee embarked on a journey into London for an event and a trip to the London bike show, part of The Telegraph Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show – Driven by SEAT. Sadly, we were only able to stay for a short while but in the time we were there it was a fantastic day leaving us wanting more in 2015.
And thanks to the lovely event organisers, we'll be there on the 15th February, with two monsters ready to try everything they can get there little mitts onto. If there's enough time and I can keep the tablet or netbook charged during the day I'll host a G+ Hangout if possible.

The London Bike Show is the UK’s largest cycling exhibition, taking place 12 – 15 February 2015 at London’s ExCeL, As well as being able to see the latest bikes, clothing, components and accessories, you will also be able to enjoy our fantastic attractions free of charge (*although you will require premium tickets for the Training Hub.) From 1-2-1 assessments through to stunt displays, there's a host of family fun entertainment waiting for you all at the London Bike Show 2015
Vee With a Vitus Vee 29 bike! 

The London Bike Show, an event, perfect for riders of all ages, abilities and ride types. It looks to be one of the largest bike events in the capital, 

If you're looking for a family day out it'll be one to look forward to, as they've thought of everything for all riders - big and small.

The DMR Pump track offers visitors of all ages the chance to take part in taster sessions for a to see if dirt riding is for you in a safe environment, while it's not for everyone it offers you the chance to chuck around some serious hardware on a fast paced test track.

For children under 10 who don't wish to blat the Pump track they have the chance to check out the latest bikes on the market around their own dedicated test track. Perfect for parents who want advice and guidance to ensure the smalls get the best out of two wheels. Luckily, they get the chance to see Sir Chris Hoy who'll be showing off his latest Hoy bikes with his Hoy Kids under 10 skills clinic on the 14th Feb, It's a shame we'll miss it but it would be unfair for my two to take places from people who'll benefit more. I do hope to get chance to meet Sir Chris on the Sunday but we'll see.

For the grown up's you'll have the chance to try out the adult test track, with experts on hand to guide you into your perfect bike, be it road, hybrid, mtb or insane stunt rig they'll let you try it out, the kids love this as an opportunity to high five the riders last year. For the more competitive you've also got the Cytech Fastest Wrench Competition where you can win prizes, I know it'll be hard so I'm training for this now. With props to fellow nutter Fester

Hold on, you do more than ride?
Well, you're in luck then - on purchasing a London Bike Show ticket  you gain access to a plethora of amazing shows and events hosted at The Telegraph Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show – Driven by SEAT. These include The London Bike Show, the Triathlon Show: London and the London International Dive Show (Saturday and Sunday only) with one ticket allowing visitors access into all four shows. Offering not only great value for money, but the chance to explore new interests making it an action packed day out suitable for the whole family.

With six exciting zones the Show offers FREE have-a-go attractions, inspirational guest speakers, a range of information on everything ‘outdoor, adventure and travel’, no matter your passion, be it travelling, photography, climbing, watersports or exploring the British countryside - you'll find everything here for you under one roof. As well as the chance to take home some of the latest gear & equipment at special prices.

I was sent the list of speakers this morning and it blew me away in an epic scale with some amazing people coming to speak and that's just bike related. I hear the other shows will have top speakers like Steve Backshall, Kenton Cool, Sam Branson, Monty Halls, The Brownlee Brothers & James Cracknell along with 50+ other adventurers, travel experts, photographers and special guests. Even better - All talks are free on entry, it’s a fantastic opportunity to come and meet the UK’s most adventurous stars and get inspiration for your next adventure, be it on two wheels, tackling a cliff face, scuba adventures or just the chance to hear some legendary adventurers tell their tales I can promise you The London Bike show, part of The Telegraph Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show – Driven by SEAT will be the event you don't want to miss in 2015!

We'll be using instagram and Swarm/foursquare for impromptu meetups/G+ hangouts and much more too.

Me, Vee and Lissy will see you there.


Tuesday, 6 January 2015

The first ride of 2015 #familyfun

Muriel at the junction of Route 6, 574 and the Totternhoe Hills and Green Lanes

It's been a madly busy Christmas and new years here at imwellconfused towers, despite the omission of more two wheeled fun, while some of that was down to meeting family, tacky festive films and the rebuilding of Naughtybike.

Also that darned weather played an annoying part here with it's inability to make it's mind up. While we did go for a few small rides around town we've been quite lacklustre on larger rides to the disdain of both Lissy and Vee!

That changed on Monday when we unleashed the beasts onto NCN Route 6 and 574 on the outskirts of Dunstable and Totternhoe, for one of our ' do what you want rides.' I'll not hide the fact I'm a sponsor of 574 (link here) as it's an awesome place to ride, de-stress and get out of town for a few hours.

On entering the Sewell Greenway  both girls decided they wanted to let off some steam and thrash their bikes. considering how fast they can be when they want to it was good to see them doing this rather than screaming at each other, while it turned into a "hoon it" moment, it was what the doctor ordered.  Especially with one afternoon of freedom before they're back to school, it was certainly needed.

At the sewell bridge and 574/green lane junction we admired the recently installed murial advertising the Totternhoe hills and lanes. featuring some beautiful carved animals. Eventually they wanted to move on and they chose the muddy track, Oh hell no - there is no way I'm getting all of us coated in muck, world war z is not needed today (trust me I'd be in a world of pain here.) Thankfully they decided to go on the more stable route back into town, while it's still muddy it's not going to cause hell for all of us.

The only downside to this is the first hill, it's a pain in the behind, I can defeat it but i do struggle on both Naughtybike and Grampsbike here. We walked this bit it as it was easier on little feet as we can't wear them out when there's hooning to do on the flat!
Walking the hill bought a few special surprises and views, including the chance to see the horses and other animals out and about, a good chance for little explorers to see nature, bug hunt and play in the mud at the same time!

Home time was looming so we made tracks on the flat, passing the mighty Maidenbower Hillfort and plenty of beautiful scenery on the way through, on the final half mile to home Vee alerts me to a wobbly feeling on her bike, a loose steerer caused this issue for her hand tightened to get us home without dirt destroying the tube. *this is why it's important to check a bike*

On the final stretch I get asked the question of question.

"Dad! For our next ride can we go to the Enchanted Wood?"

Oh boy, Vee's certainly got the bike bug!

I'll be doing more rides like this throughout the year so if anyone wants to join our little rides say the word! If there's enough demand I'll organise some lead guided rides through Sustrans.
(More on the enchanted wood will come soon) 

If you wish to see the route we cycled click here for the Endomondo route



This post has also been shared on the Coombe Mill #Familykids linky too!
 Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall 

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Dunstable Cyclists Unite!

2015 Let's do this.

There is an enormously large amount of people who cycle in Dunstable, many of these co-exist with nobody noticing as they get on with things like the rest of us. Then you have a few who want to make a difference. I'm one of the latter, let's do something together.

January is a time for change for all and many have bikes, do you think you could ride a few miles? I bet you could easily ride 5+ miles within a month and not notice? a few more months and 10 miles will be easy. On top of this you get a good workout, seeing beauty spots in the area and get to meet other people you'd never think of speaking to and spark off a friendship or two.

The project I'm creating is coming to Dunstable but for now I want to try a few beta test or two.

One evening we'll arrange a little meetup of people who ride or want to ride regularly. All are welcome including those who aren't as confident on two wheels, I promise you now the less confident will be looked after. (I still struggle so I promise no pressure.)

The ride date will be announced in the next two weeks.

Requirements as follows:

Helmets - Optional (let's not go into that debate here please)

Lights - Required as it'll be an evening ride. Halfords do some very basic lights for £3 or £5 with
batteries included at the moment, or Poundland sells basic lights and batteries for £3

Bike - As long as it's working and roadworthy. Considering the test ride will be a mix of both on and off road make sure the bike is up to it.

Drinks - It's a ronseal moment there!

If  interested please get in touch and we'll arrange it.


Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2015 is just around the corner. CRIKEY

And with it comes challenges,

Forget resolutions, many of us we may like, dislike or hate them.  This time I'm saying sod them and setting a challenge or three!
This year will be my chance to do things different, and with so my little piece of the internet may get busier, that said it may not. It's down to how I manage my time next year, but we'll see how it goes.
Challenge one: A precursor to Balls Of Steel, more like an evolution with more collaborative genius and less cockups! Best of all it'll be localised and can be used in more than one area so said charities can benefit more, I'll not tell you the details yet as planning stages are in places now but it's coming soon.
This does not mean Balls Of Steel is over however. For now I'm planning at least one more Box Hill to Dunstable ride, going back to it's roots and with that I'll be speaking to the people who helped it go from silly idea to seriously huge ride for a fat guy on a grumpy, knocked about bike. If I can't get the old school support on it we'll look into something else, but I want to make it spectacular! May even do it on the single-speed Naughtybike as she's nearly ready, or GrampsBike If I'm mad enough!
Challenge two, 
Get Bikefit running by the summer! Again I can't talk much about this as it's in currently in the submission stage once the tidyup of the documents are printed out, 
Challenge three:
Smile more, with an emphasis on more time with the family. It's something I need to do or it'll fizzle me out! 
How about you?

Let me know in the comments below. 
Happy new year all! 

The Larry Lizard book review #DaddyReads

Well it's the final Daddy Reads post of the year and to go off with a bang with the first in a new series of Little Mouse Bedtime Stories. With the first book named Larry Lizard by author, Alison Murtough and illustrations by Chris Jaffe. 

Now Larry is a Lizard who becomes a wizard one stormy night by counting his way through the thunder and lightning, while counting shapes he grows fond all shapes, especially Hexagons. While it may sound a bit different it's not a bad read, but it's well worded and pulls the kids in 

The book is very brightly illustrated and Chris Jaffe has done a spectacular job here and both girls loved the artwork throughout the book and I agree with them, it's lovely. And to show the book off we've uploaded this for your pleasure. I make no apologies for these somewhat hyper but tired children in this clip!

On speaking to both girls after they'd had a sleep Lissy told me she loved the book and all the pictures, asking me to read it over and over whereas Vee loved the story but she felt there was a lack of describing words in the story but she's been on a mission to pick out words left right and centre, I prefer this to a tablet/video game staring zombie.

To wrap up, being the first in a new series of books it's off to a great start in what looks to be an exciting series of bedtime stories that I'll be more than happy to purchase more once the next books in the series are published.

If you'd like to pick up a copy of Larry Lizard It's available here in digital and print and for more info on the Little Mouse Bedside Stories series click here.