< link rel="DCTERMS.replaces" href="http://trappedcivilservant.blogspot.com" > Aginoth's Retirement Ramblings: August 2007

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

New gardening toy

So there I was facing a large pile of branches having recently decided to clear the jungle like growth at the end of my garden, pear tree and all.

The pile of wood and plants dwarfing my poor meager incinerator...oh the horror of all that work breaking it down into small bundles to burn.

Branwave !!! I'll go buy a Garden Shredder.

So off to the DiY stores I go, PDA in hand to garner reviews of the powerful machinery I am looking at. I looked round several stores, but baulked at the £150 plus price tags of the shredders that would have the power (2000W and over) and the feed capacity (thick branches) that I needed.

Eventually I entered The Wickes Store in Weston-super-Mare. Bank Holiday sale in fll swing, I still easily found a member of staff who was able to help me out, and pointed me to this piece of machinery, the Wickes 2500W Garden Impact Shredder.

I was struck by the price £67.99, less than have the price of com[arable models from other manufacturers, so of course I was wary of the build quality. The shop assistant assured me that the model was as robust as those more expensive models, and the price was a reflection of the fact Wickes still considers itself a supplier to tradesmen rather than the public.

Well it had all the features I was after:

40 mm cutting capacity (branch diameter)
2500W Motor (nice and powerful)
Wheels for easy moving
Safety Cut-out on Electricity supply
Safety interlocks on hopper lid

It was a little Heavy at 19Kg but on wheels not to much of a problem, and this actually reassured me as to it's robustness.

So I get it home and assemble it, 2 screws, 2 bolts and a couple of plastic widgets later it's built and ready to go.

I notice the clear warning signs in the manual and on the unit of the sound level it produces...103DbA, so it's in with the earplugs before using it, as well as Rigger gloves and safety glasses.

103DbA is about as loud as a very loud Nightclub btw.

I immediately set to work and test the unit with a branch that should be on the limit of what it can shred...a 40mm Pear tree branch. I feed the branch throught he top of the hopper (a window limits the size of branches that can be inserted). The 4 foot length of brach is pulled through with a very loud grrrrrrrrrrrr, and exits into the included collection bag as thousands of 5mm chips....bloody good.

and so after a couple of hours I have reduced a very large pile of branches and undergrowth to a bag of chips, which is duly put in my compost bin.

Guess I'd better go cut the grass next....

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Back and busy

Hi all,

Yes I am sporadically blogging again , for the first time in months. Been very depressed, still am really, but felt the urge to blog again.

Still waiting to hear about medical retirement from work, haven't been to work since the end of March though.

Felt quite good joint wise today so I have been hard at work shifting rubbish and dead wood in the back gsrden.

Been playing with a review site


best thing about it is they pay you in dooyoomiles for reviews of anything (and I mean anything) plus you get extra dooyoo miles everytime you get a review rated as useful by another user.


Well they can be cashed in for Amazon Vouchers or Cash, or given to charity.

I have written 7 reviews in 24 hours and currently have almost 3000 dooyoo miles, that’s nearly £3 in vouchers (you can cash them in when you get to 10000)

Unlike many pay for users sites this one actually l;ooks like it is worth using, I reckon I could easily get £20 - £40 in amazon vouchers in a mnth without a lot of effort.

Btw my user name is Aginoth as usual….be sure to rate my reviews if you come on and add me to your circle of friends.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Haven Holiday Hell

Woe is me.

My family and I (3 adults and 3 under 7 children) have just returned from a weeks "holiday" at a Haven Holiday's Site.

The Tale....

We were booked into Apartment 2 at Weymouth Bay Haven Holiday Park on 18th August 2007.

I am disabled (walk with a stick due to arthritis) and my mother has recently come out of hospital after a bout of Pneumonia and suffers from Obstructive Pulminary Disorder. Haven were told of my Disability and inability to walk long distances when we booked.

We booked in at 1330, having paid for Gold Standard Accommodation, and all seemed well, until the map came out to show us where our accomodation was. Now remember we have 2 disabled persons in our party and they had been informed of my mobility problems...the Apartments are about as far as it is possible to get from the central facilities area, I measured it on our car odometer at over half a mile...this is a BIG Site.

Not overly impressed by this we thought we'd make the best of it, after all there was disabled parking by reception, so resigned ourselves to having to drive accross the camp several times a day.

So we go to our accomodation. From the outside the apartment looks excellent, and large, then we open the front door (security provided by abysmal 3 lever mortice lock). That was when we encountered the beginings of our woes.

The first thing we noted was all the windows we're open; odd we thought as it was persistently raining outside and it was only about 14 Centigrade, hardly balmy. We closed them...well you would, and thought not a lot more of it...except there was the occasional waft of a "damp building" smell. The other thing we found was the beds had all been moved away from the walls, again we didn't really register what that meant. We unpacked, grabbed some dinner from the local Chip shop and settled the kids into bed that evening, not wanting to venture out into the foul weather.

Next Morning we awoke to a deeply pervasive musty smell of damp and mould, and my Mother awoke unable to breathe without constant use of her inhalers, thankfully it had stpped raining so we set up a table and chair outside for her whilst we investigated. What we found was abysmal.

- The Walls of the 2 twin rooms were deeply damp to a height of about 4 feet above the floor.
- The beds and bedding were soaked from where we had pushed them back against the walls.
- The was mould growth in small patches in virtually every corner of the apartment and around all the windows (we missed this upon arrival due to the poor light)

These 3 points in themselves made the accommodation unfit for habitation, and had seriously affected my mothers health overnight.

So we did a full survey of the property....I should add at this point I am a NEBOSH Qualified Health and Safety Officer and my wife is in the Legal profession.

This is what we found.

- Dead insects everywhere, sqashed on walls, desicated around the edge of the carpets etc.
- Mould everywhere (all around the bathroom/toilet, all corners, windows)
- Cobwebs and dust everywhere

The apartment had obviously not been cleaned properly in months (desicated insects...yuk)

And there's more the aparment was substandard against building regulations.
- the Toilet opened directly onto the Kitchen (building regs require a 2 door seperation for hygiene)
- the extractor fan vent from the toilet exhausted into the kitchen (against building regs) instead of to the outside of the building.

So I took photographs of all the defects and health risks and we went to the Weymouth Bay reception.

We went to reception at 9am, and refused the accomodation as it was not fit for purpose. We were expecting a bit of an argument, as it is high season, and they obviously would not be able to offer an alternative apartment as they were al occupied. We barely had to say what the problem was before they were agreeing with us that it was not acceptable .

This was quite odd; we got the feeling that they knew that it was uninhabitable before they even put us there! We gave them until lunch time to sort it out. Went back to the apartment, packed everything up again. Tried to explain to the kids what was going on.

Went back reception at 11.30. They offered us a standard class two bed caravan. We refused. They then offered a Gold 3 bed caravan on the next door site (Seaview) until Tuesday. We refused. We suggested they give us a full refund (£969) and we'd find somewhere else, and that we expected whatever happened to be sorted out by midday. We had already lost a day of our holiday.

The Supervisor on reception wen tto talk to the maanger...faced with a demanded full cash refund they decided the 3 bed caravan on the Seaview Camp was actually available all week.

So off we went, and spent the rest of the week in a caravan as opposed to an apartment, not ideal considering my mobility issues, and the fact my wife doesn't like caravans, especially considering our young children... my kids are not just like a herd of elephants but more of the full safari at 6am, and there is no escaping that in a caravan, whereas a cottage offers rooms to be sent to, and doors to be shut on.

Needless to say a long letter of complaint asking for compensation will be heading it's way to Haven this week.

And so onto the a review of the rest of the camp...

Staff - other than the lifeguards there were a total of 11 entertainment and Customer care/ Reception Staff...between 2 sites of in excess of 500 caravans, and maybe 2000 guests.

Swimming pools - Indoor pools on both sites were filthy, and over chlorinated to a level where my eyes were burning after a couple of minutes in the water. The Outdoor pools wer ecleaner, but only because they were hardly used, having had no sun on them in weeks to raise them to a usable temperature.

Onsite Shop - Well stocked, OK prices, totally incmpetent staff who were unable to answer the simplest questions, nor apparently were they trained to used the tills effectively.

Childrens Soft Play - Planted smack bang in the middle of the Amusement Arcades of both sites, very noisy, and deliberately placed to encourage spending in the arcades. The arcades themselves were very loud.

Entertainement venues - Overpriced Drinks from bars which were understaffed (£3.70 for a pint of Cider!!!), constant force feeding of camp mascot merchandise, Very loud (illegally so I felt). Mediocre entertainment, no adult bingo on Seaview Site.

Site Layout - Only stay at Weymouth Bay if you like long dull walks through caravan parks. Only Stay at Seaview if you like Steep Hills. Neither site is at all Suitable for disabled holiday makers

Epilogue: Unsurprisingly, come Tuesday, the cottage was occupied again - I expect they told whoever was suposed to be coming into the caravan we were now in that they had been given an upgrade!

It took until Thursday for my mother's Breathing to fully recover ruining her holiday.

Conclusion: We're looking at butlins next year, and will never stay at a Haven Site Again..ever !!!!