a love of airports (not Charles de Gaulle)

I’ve been lucky in that I left school with a few A levels, spent a few years stacking shelves before falling into a job which allowed me to travel. I have probably spent 500+ hours in airports over the years and unlike many other people, I find them fascinating. The concept that all these people are in one place at the beginning of the day, and spread out across the world at the end of the day just intrigues me. Yep, I’m a big airport fan. Apart from Charles de Gaulle.

Whilst I love being in airports, like everything else on this planet they do tend to piss me right off, mainly due to the fact that whilst you would think that customers (ie passengers) would be the priority of an airport, we are in actual fact at the very bottom of their ‘giving a shit’ list. Seriously, every airport has now turned into a form of Disney where every security checkpoint leads you into an interminable, wibbly-wobbly route to the departure lounge through the duty free shop, similar to how every ride at Disney exits through the bloody gift shop. It’s like Ikea, once you are inside you can’t get out and any possible short cuts are blocked by over-tanned orange sales staff trying to sell you various pungent aromas from the latest name to reach celebrity via showing their genitals whilst getting out of the back of a stretch limo at the latest Who-The-Fuck-Are-You awards ceremony.

I was in Finland last week. Beautiful country filled with trees and lakes and trees and lakes and lakes and trees. And a few more trees. Lovely, friendly people; great public transport and another country that I can tick off my ‘does a Big Mac taste the same in every country?’ scientific survey. (The answer is yes so far). Anyway, I flew to Finland from Aberdeen this time. Just for a change. I’ll mention the journey in the EV later on, but anyway I’m at Aberdeen and as usual, decided to get a greasy breakfast from the local Spoons/WhateverChainIsBig. The grease was good however I made the mistake of taking a table by the window as for some reason I didn’t spot the massive number above my head; I was sat next to a bloody gate. All this meant that everyone who started to queue up for the 7:50 to Humberside (does Humberside have an airport and is it actually a place?) was staring at me munching down my eggs and lorne sausage. Not that I cared – as mentioned previously, I would never see them again as they spread out across the globe by the end of the day. Or spread out around Humberside anyway.

Did you know Aberdeen airport has a smoking area? Either did I, but I found it. Awesome.

WTF? You have to pay a pound to open the fucking door? Not sure if that is genius entrepreneurial spirit or not? Anyway, there was a guy waiting outside for someone else to pay the pound and like a mug, I paid. I didn’t realise until I got inside that the trick was to just knock on the door. The guy who was waiting and followed me in didn’t even volunteer 50p to cover his cost. Then he started vaping.

I should also mention that it was another great experience with KLM. How one side of a partnership can be fantastic (KLM) whilst the other part (Air France) be a bunch of incompetent fuckwits I will never know. Bu they are.

As I said, I travelled to the airport using the Zoe so charged it overnight and set off. The airport was right at the edge of the range and given my late return flight, I hoped to give it a charge in Aberdeen which would provide enough to get home (no off-site airport parking places offer chargers yet). After a quick rapid charge at Asda I left the car. On the way back, I gave it a small top-up at Asda before setting off home but I miscalculated a little and as I got within 5 miles of home the car started going mental with lights and alarms and a big ‘you are running out of battery you muppet’ warning. Fortunately I managed to eek it home with around 3% remaining. Its the closest I have got to running out of battery but the adrenaline definitely kept me awake after being awake for nearly 24 hours!

 

 

 

Three months in…

Three months in to Electric Vehicle ownership and there isn’t that much to add to what I have already written! The car is performing well and done over 2000 miles although with an 8000 mile per year limit (I’m regretting making it so low already), I still have to use the old Volvo from time to time.

Maybe I should be become Chancellor as whilst stupid old George ‘face like an arse’ Osbourne seems to be cocking up his budget and missing all his savings targets, mine are pretty much spot on if not greater than expected. From the Kia that I traded in, I estimate I am saving around £150 per month which is pretty damn good. I don’t miss anything from the Kia apart from maybe the heated seats but with summer coming, who cares. With the seats down it has enough space to take a few bits down to the skip and the boot is big enough to get down to the shops – even considering how many bags we buy when all we go in for is bloody bread and milk!

Next week I’m flying from Aberdeen and taking the car. I can make it up there on a single charge but as no Scottish airport parking places have chargers yet, I may as well give it a charge just before dropping it off so it will be reasonably full when I come home. I can’t be arsed getting off a flight at 22:00 on a Friday and having to add another 30 minutes to my journey home charging!

One moment of stupidity recently (well just one I am going to mention anyway) involved me making the effort to stop the Volvo looking like a outdoor khazi for seagulls and more like the comfortable, elegant, Swedish soft top cruiser that it was sold as. Meg cleaned it and I got it all nice and shiny with polish and elbow grease. The outside looks great but the inside and especially the leather shows its 135k miles! So I bought some leather restorer to make the seats look nice again. I bought the cream coloured restorer as the seats in the car I have had close to three years are cream.

Two days later, the cream leather restorer arrived.

I looked at the Volvo again.

The seats aren’t cream.

They are fucking grey.

In the whole time I have owned that damn car, the seats have been cream. As soon as I buy some stuff to make it nice, they change to grey.

WTF?

Anyway, I need to change it for grey. Maybe it is just senility. Or stupidy. Probably both.

 

 

 

 

Air France. Why?

Those of you who followed my Facebook over the last week or so will have an idea about the trials and tribulations recently experienced due to Air France, but in the interests of giving me somewhere public to vent my frustration all over again, I’m going to relive the incomprehensible levels of ineptitude again.

So, I went to Genoa. I went to Genoa on business. I went to Genoa for a project meeting; the project being an EU project based around cemetery symbology, cultural heritage, printmaking, performance art, music and digital applications – all with the aim of engagement with youth and both visually and hearing impaired groups. Now I am sure some of you will have already lost sympathy for me, but hold on…

I did try and avoid Air France, boy did I try and avoid them! I begged the lady booking the travel to find another carrier but alas there we no others available with the days/times we needed. As the confirmation came through, a shiver of despair shot down my spine.

Knowing I was flying AF, I decided to pack a change of clothes in my carry-on just in case. This turned out to be a good call as our outgoing flight was delayed due to the AF crew not having enough rest (which is fair enough I guess) which lead to a tight connection at Charles de Gaulle (worst. airport. ever) turning into a near impossible connection. However, after getting off the flight from Edinburgh quickly, I found myself on a bus that drove and drove and drove to the terminal. I swear we must have landed in bloody Belgium such was the distance we travelled. On arriving at the terminal I took one step inside, turned right for Flight Connections and walked another 3 yards, went through a single security detector which took up another 3 yards and turned left to wait for another bus. Seriously. But that isn’t all. No. This is CDG remember. The bus arrived and TOOK ME ALL THE WAY BACK TO WHERE I CAME FROM!!! We managed to catch our flight which was incidentally, on the aircraft NEXT to the one we arrived on, with seconds to spare and with joy in our hearts at not having an 8 hour wait at CDG until the next flight, we sat down and enjoyed the flight.

Arrival at Genoa was smooth. Even better in a strange way was the email I received from AF during the flight stating my bag hadn’t made it. At least I didn’t have to wait for the last bag to be unloaded to realise mine was missing so I headed to the lost baggage desk to have a strained and difficult conversation with a helpful lady who didn’t speak much English (although she spoke more English than I spoke Italian so the language barrier was wholly my fault for being useless at languages. If only I had listened more clearly to Miss Addey at school, rather than lusting over her! Eventually we agreed that my bag would arrive on the later flight that evening although I was then informed that the courier doesn’t work nights. Thank god for the clean pants in my carry on!

My case eventually arrived late the next day and all was well. Until the return journey.

We arrived back at Genoa airport in good time for our return flight to Paris but then heard that fateful bing-bong following by a stretch of Italian which I obviously didn’t understand. The groans and disconsolate looks of my literate fellow passengers told the story though – the incoming aircraft had been diverted to Nice due to a thunderstorm in Genoa. Annoying because as we were being told this, other flights were happily landing in the rain. And so came Air France to the rescue – with silence. Nothing happened for at least an hour until we were told we were being bussed to Nice to catch the flight onto Paris. Outside we went to queue up at the small info desk to arrange new connections, all the whilst we were being told by the staff that the bus was going to be leaving shortly.

Outside, bags in hand – no bus. FFS!

Then a mini-bus appeared. There were 60 of us. FFS!

After an age, a proper coach arrived complete with the grumpiest fucker of an Italian driver. Every case he had to put into the hold was greeted with a sigh, a rolling of the eyes and a (probable) expletive. Eventually we were on the road for the 2-3 hour drive to Nice. Fortunately I was sat next to an emotional Italian chap who spent the journey talking to himself. As we passed through the French/Italian border he pulled over, jumped outside and went for a smoke. Later we hit a French toll booth and his remote charging thing didn’t work which led to a funny five minutes of him screaming TELEPASS to the intercom louder and louder. After nearly three hours of this comedic journey, we arrived at Nice and were helped through the terminal to the plane.

Where we waited.

And waited.

And you know what, I have no fucking idea why we were waiting for so long.

We waited so long we missed our revised connection at Paris – as did everyone else. Muppets.

In Air France’s favour was the reasonably easy way they sorted us all out with accomodation and meals for our unscheduled overnight stay. However when we reached the Campanile it was full and we were pushed to the next hotel (although we still had to go back to the Campanile to eat).

27 hours after we left our hotel in Genoa, we arrived home following an uneventful return from Paris.

Air France – please, never again!

Photo by Jonathan Gross

Addressing the Wombles…

Haven’t posted much recently because all is good and the car is running like a dream and still costing me next to nothing to run!

Mind you, I did see an article on Autocar recently which got on my nerves, not the article but some of the comments from the cockwombles below it. So, to alleviate that Friday anger, I thought I would respond with a ranty-post even though they will never see it. Look, it makes me feel better okay?

The article is here: http://www.autocar.co.uk/blogs/our-cars/buying-renault-zoe-introducing-electric-car-convert if you want some context!

Five Grand Subsidy Ahoy!

It is quite literally. Stolen from the taxpayer, in fact.

–Norma Smellons

Well Norma, you are indeed correct. When I purchased my Zoe I broke into the Treasury and stole £5,000 of your hard earned pounds to go towards my car. Although I am surprised you haven’t mentioned the money I stole from the French taxpayers as well given Renault are (allegedly) subsidising Renault anyway. What a horrendous person I am! Actually no, I take all that back Norma you fuckwit. You may have noticed that the world is getting warmer and we need to do something about it (unless of course you are either a climate change denier or a member of the Flat Earth Society in which case stop reading now and hopefully evolution will catch up to you at some point). Reducing the reliance on fossil fuels is one and avoiding pushing out lots of crap into the atmosphere by transport is another. Unfortunately new technology costs and incentives are sometimes required. I have paid my fucking taxes for nearly 30 years so its about time I got something back in the form of a subsidy to drive a car that whilst not carbon neutral, is a lot better for the climate than the majority of vehicles.

I still don’t understand why I have to subsidise other people’s motoring (if that’s the word). Most days I go to a car-park underneath Waitrose at Canary Wharf where there are 6 Tesla re-charge bays that are nearly always empty even in this glass and chrome cathedral of excessive wealth. As it’s free of charge who pays for it? Is it Tesla, or me again? Genuinely not against electric cars and the technology is obviously coming on leaps and bounds. BUT they are not Green in any way, if take up accelerates we’ll have to build more power stations to cope with demand and, tbh, I just don’t understand the subsidy argument. I live in Mallorca and have a solar array so a little i3 BMW would make great sense I guess but the price is just absurd. I’m sure the Zoe is less expensive but I don’t want one.

–johnfaganwilliams

World class trolling here. The guy lives in Mallorca yet shops in Waitrose in Canary Wharf? What the actual fuck????

Firstly I don’t understand why I have to subsidise London and all the high capital projects that go on there (HS2, Crossrail and all the other shit that will not affect me in any way, shape or form) but I do. Some of my taxes probably paid for your fucking underground car park to be built so you could travel from your home and couple of thousand miles away to get your kale, quinoa and overpriced unicorn milk. Also, you didn’t pay for the Tesla bays you dick – Tesla paid for them.

As for not being green – they are a lot greener than the fucking flight you have to take to get to fucking Waitrose from your house. Sure they aren’t carbon neutral but I’m not sure any transport is, however one of the main charging networks uses fully sustainable power so it is closer than many other vehicles. Demand may well increase but what is the problem with more power, especially if fully green rather than brown power is being generated and used? What is your fucking problem? Your solar array isn’t very fucking green either you tool and it was pretty damn expensive when the technology came out, just like current EV’s and the BMW i3!

Jim Holder and other electric car “owners” are just like Google etc that legally avoid paying their share of taxes. The only reason for most to buy an elctric car is the tax reduction, and tax discount, not desirability of ownership. Until most, if ever, electricity is produced by non fossil fuels electric cars just shift the pollution from the car user, to make them feel good and saintly, onto others. Just like dog owners that take their dog out for a regular walk so they crap on others land and not their garden.

–campervan

I’m losing the will to live. Just use a green tariff you dick and your argument disappears. Not sure what tax reduction I am getting from my EV apart from saving £15 a month on road tax – £15 a month isn’t enough of an incentive. You really don’t know your fucking arse from your elbow do you, as proven by your dog-walking point. You really think that is the only reason dogs get walked – really? Sometimes I wonder if my own efforts to do my own tiny little bit to be green and give the next generations a planet they can live on is worthwhile – when nuggets like you were there one in a million that managed to get to the egg first. How the fuck is that possible and given ‘survival of the fittest’, how bad where the rest of the sperm if you won???!?!

 

Happy Friday y’all!

Photo by andeecollard

as smooth as…

I was going to finish the title with a reference to a topical news story here in the UK, then I realised it was in serious bad taste so rather head down dark alleyways filled with Frankie Boyle levels of depravity, instead I am going to tell you a happy story.

And it involves Zoe.

And charging.

So, those of you who noticed the last post will know that today was the day I did my first journey in the Zoe which involved charging en-route. Meticulous planning using a combination of PlugShare, ZapMap and Google Maps provided me with a route for my journey to Edinburgh which wouldn’t leave me waiting for the cost orange arms of the RAC man to lift me onto a flatbed. I needn’t have worried as with a full charge I got to Kinross services without issue allowing me the sole use of the fast charger there. Easy.

RBS itself had a charger in its car park that I pre-booked and although it was very, very slow (3Kw I expect), it provided enough over the two hours to get back to Kinross and do another 30 minute charge to get me home. I didn’t see any other EV’s charging whilst there and it was refreshing to plug into a rapid charger and see an extra %age of battery appear every 35-40 seconds. At my age, after drinking a few coffee’s during an event, you need to stop to get rid of it so the stop wasn’t an issue (although I hasten to add that I am not yet at the age where prostrate problems mean a pee can take 30 minutes!).

The journey there took around 50 minutes more than it would have done in the Volvo due to me driving at 60, but it was fine. I even spent 20 minutes harking back to the F1 days and slipstreaming behind a truck which made a marked difference in the range.

So there you go. A good EV journey story. It’s not all faffing around and apart from the £1.00ish of power I used overnight to charge before the journey, the 150 mile round trip will have cost me nothing in fuel (although it did cost £3 bloody 50 for a Costa. Thieving swines!)

Photo by Elessar

Parking woes

Today I headed into Dundee to do some project work. ‘This should be easy’, I thought as I drove down knowing there are a few on-street charging points in the city which also allow for free parking.

Yeah, right! More chance of Trump becoming President…

oh…

anyway,

South Tay Street was my first port of call. When I worked here I swear there were more parking wardens than people walking its 200 yard length. Typically, both charging bays were full; one with a ‘CarClub’ car, the other with a tatty old Fiesta which looked like it didn’t even have a petrol engine, never mind an electric one. Properly ICE’d 🙁 I consoled myself thinking that the culprit would get a ticket for parking in a space which had a massive ‘Electric Vehicles Only’ sign all over it. Hopefully they will get three…

Onwards, there are more I thought as I got lost (again) in the one way system before arriving at Dock Street. Yay! A space. Five minutes later I set off on foot with the high pitched charging sound sending all the local cats running. Five minutes after that I wondered if it was truly free on-street parking for EV’s in Dundee. Google would save me; well it would if my phone hadn’t crashed. Reboot. Another five minutes. Search, search, search.  Nothing. Not a single reference to parking charges for EV. Head battered, I walked back to the car not wanting a £60 ticket like the guy behind me. The confusing thing was that the parking area said 1 hour max, but the EV sign said 3 hours max. WTF?

Anyway, drove around the corner to the multi-storey where I know there are two chargers – and one bay is free. Park. Exit. Swipe card. FFFFUUUUUUUCCCKKK! The previous user had left their charging cable in (obviously it hadn’t been released) which meant I couldn’t use it. By this time my will-to-live o-meter was quite low until renewed by the other EV owner turning up and allowing me to use their space.

So, I managed to get a charge although it did cost £1.90 for parking. Later on, I did find a site that said on-street parking was free for charging EV’s so I’ll know for next time. You live and learn….

As for the image on this post, all I could find doing an ImageInject search for ‘sigh’ was images of the damn bridge. So here is the damn bridge….

Photo by worldaroundtrip

Plan, Plan, Plan

Unlike with an internal combustion engine (ICE) where you can spend 5 minutes feeding your car with 300+ miles of range (James May called it ‘fuel density’ which is good phrase), a longer EV journey without having a Tesla calls for a bit of planning.

I am heading down to Edinburgh on Friday to attend the eSpark launch at RBS and going to take the EV to help save a few trees. Unfortunately there isn’t a charger at RBS and at 75 miles, it is right at the edge of my range given the current temperatures. The plan at the moment is to give myself a quick 20 minute charge at Kinross services which should give me an extra 20% – enough to get me back there again on the return journey if the chargers at Ingliston Park and Ride are full of bloody hybrid owners.

It does mean that the normal 90 minute journey is likely to take nearly double that due to the charging en-route, and parking away at the Park and Ride before taking a tram to Gogarburn. If nothing else, it should be interesting but if it all goes to pot you could see me screaming and ranting on Friday night.

So the plan is to leave at 07:00 with a full battery. Around 8:30 I’ll reach Kinross and hopefully use a Rapid charger for 20-30 minutes which should take me up to around 50% full again. Get to the Park and Ride around 9:30 and hopefully fully charge there whilst I jump on the tram one stop to Gogarburn. One the way back, if I am fully charged I can probably make it all the way home if I drive carefully.

With me luck!

Ker–ching..!

So someone asked what the price differentials were.

So, at the moment in the current weather conditions, I am getting just over 3 miles per kilowatt of charge – however apparently it averages out at 3.5 miles over the year. I’m paying 8p per kilowatt so to try and provide a comparison of ‘fuel’ costs against a traditional ICE (assuming 50mpg and £1.00 per litre):

EV: £0.80 for 35 miles driving

ICE: £3.00 for 33 miles driving

Quite a bit cheaper then, even more so when you consider zero road tax, zero congestion charge and reduced insurance. Considering I charge most of the time at public points whilst at work, it makes it even better. I think I have probably used about 40Kw charging at home (ie. not that much), and have done 600 miles for that £4.50 worth of electricity — bargain 🙂

What puts people off is the initial cost which did used to be pretty high. However, if you can catch a decent offer then it definitely makes financial sense. For a two year PCP, I am paying £80 a month for the car and £80 a month to lease the battery – £160 a month. I was paying £200 a month for the old Kia along with £120 a month fuel and £15 a month road tax.

You do the maths 🙂

Not prime-time ready…

So it has been a month since I got the Zoe and whilst it is a great car to do the commute in with minimal costs, I now feel that it could be another 10 years before EV’s tip into the mainstream? Why? Ignorance…

There was a phone in on the radio earlier this week and it was astonishing how little these auto experts knew; or maybe they did know and decided to just provide untruths in order to further their own agenda? No idea, but anyone listening would be put off an EV at the moment. Which to be honest, is fine with me as the charging infrastructure just isn’t ready for an upturn in EV numbers.

So lets try and counter some of their bullshit. Firstly ‘Range Anxiety’ which is indeed a thing amongst EV owners, but the majority of the UK has some form of charging available and lets be honest, if all owners got a home charger installed (I’m looking at you Leaf owners), then most drivers don’t cover 100 miles between visits home. Of course there are some but the majority don’t and when you can charge at night, range anxiety doesn’t become a problem. For longer journeys you just need to plan a bit better and yes, it will take longer to get there but you’ll have far more money in your pocket to get ripped off at KFC/McDonalds service station mark-ups!

The second point that was raised was the ‘cleanliness’ of EV’s. The argument was that they use electricity therefore they aren’t clean. Now I’m not sure if anyone has ever said they were, but the lack of emissions has obviously got to be better for the environment than the carbon monoxide and particulates pumped out by ICE vehicles and VW’s!

There was more but to be honest, I have better things to do with my time that counter bullshitting bellends who are terrified they will lose the ability to appreciate a purring V8 (which they wont).

In other news, the warm temperatures earlier in the week (for warm, I mean above 5 degrees) meant the range shot up and a full charge was showing 80+ miles on the Guess-O-Meter. Roll on summer, not that it matters that much to me given I can charge at work!

Finally, I am down at RBS in Edinburgh next week and trying to work out how I can get there in the EV. It is right at the end of the range and there is no destination charger but I think I can stop at Kinross and use the Rapid Charger there for 15 minutes to give myself a top-up, and leave it on charge at the Park and Ride and jump the tram. Be the first ‘longer distance’ journey so fingers crossed!

Photo by eRUDA.de

Not posted anything for a wee while so thought I would provide an update on the EV after the first month. Now that it is back from the dealer with the brake switch repaired, it is driving like a dream. Regenerative braking no longer applies a 3G force to you and the range has definitely improved.

Interestingly, the range-guess-o-meter was showing just under 70 miles from a full charge with the outside temperature around 2-3 degrees over the New Year. Since it has become milder outside, this has risen at least 10 miles and seems to increase with every warmer degree. Looks like 100 miles from a full charge should be achievable once the Scottish summer kicks in and we get into temperature double figures.

The installation of my home charger also means I don’t have to try and cope with the cockspangle Leaf and PHEV drivers who hog the charging points for days upon end. Mind you, I haven’t taken a long trip yet – the first one will be in a few weeks where I have a meeting in Edinburgh. The plan is to drive to the park and ride where there are charging points, and jump on a tram. Can’t find any long term airport car parks that provide a charging service yet so not too sure what to do regarding two business trips I have coming up in March.

Anyway, all is well and if the price of the Zoe comes down again (the deal I got seems to have gone now), I would heartily recommend it for anyone with a commute of under 20 miles, or anyone with a charging point near to their workplace.

Oh, and did I say that with no gearbox that the torque delivery is awesome meaning the 0-30 acceleration from the lights is amazing – boy racers in their dustbin exhausted Corsa’s just can’t keep up 🙂