Martin's Blog

from a Slovenian living in Wales

Ladyclough woods, Ashop valley and Stanage Edge

A nice little tour of the Peak District.

Aberglasney Garden

This lovely estate is about 20 away from Carmarthen on the road to Llandeilo.

I am Fox

Uber blunder in Essex

Bit the bullet and ordered my first Uber ride in November 2014 when I was in London. It went very well but it was for a very short trip.

The second one was in April 2015 and it was from stansted airport to a nearby b&b about 15 minutes away. I loved the fact that you know beforehand who will be picking you up, what the reg number of the car is and where the car is on a map. The driver then called me to pinpoint the pick-up location. So far so good.

Then it all went a bit pear-shape. The driver obviously wasn’t local but that shouldn’t have been a problem as all they have to do is follow their sat-nav on their phone. The driver was supposed to get off the A120 but failed to notice this and continued the journey eastwards towards Braintree. The problem is that there were no exits for quite a while so we actually ended up near Braintree. As the driver was trying to manoeuvre the roundabouts to get back on the westbound A120 he missed yet another exit but this blunder was easier to correct.

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Finally ended up at the b&b after a MUCH longer journey. I was already thinking how many stars I will be giving the driver. However then I felt sorry for him and he did say that he will sort it out that I only pay the fee as if the journey was correct. However when I later checked I was charged for the sightseeing version of the trip. Very few stars ended up being given.

The reply I received from Uber support was comforting and I received the refund before I woke up the following morning.

I took a look into the trip and it does seem like your driver took a less than ideal route. I’ve adjusted the fare down to better reflect the typical cost of this trip if a more efficient route was taken. This should reflect on your account within a few business days.

I’ve also shared this with our driver operations team so they can follow up with Caner about his city knowledge and remind him of the standards that riders expect from Uber partners. We only want the best for our riders and that includes a driver with a good grasp of the city so you can be assured that this will be addressed as soon as possible.

Not sure, I might still give them a go next time. I guess its just down to poor driver training.

Carriacou – the island surrounded by reefs

Hillsborough

View of Hillsborough from the hospital in Belair

There are two public routes on and off the island. The Osprey ferry and the SVG flight. Now it seems to be an established fact that the ferry is a much more adventurous route meaning it is often a nausea inducing experience even for the more seasoned sea travellers. Anecdotally the trip to Carriacou is usually worse than the trip back. I managed to keep my stomach content down but it was touch and go for about half an hour.

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts the island is relatively small, only 3 by 7 miles and with 8,000 inhabitants. There is very little tourism which is great if you want to experience an unspoilt and “original” Caribbean island but so so good for the locals who often struggle to make a living. The big cruise ships can’t even tie-in (or whatever the correct term is) at the island – as the name Carriacou actually means – the island surrounded by reefs. While I was there there was one big cruiser nearby but it had to anchor about a kilometre out from Hillsborough.

I found most people on the island very very friendly and hospitable and I hope to be back there in the future, enjoying their great island and helping out their four-legged critters at the same time.

 

DVLA on speed

Well, you know how many complain about government institutions being very slow when applying for documents. Just recent memories from the passport scandal flood back.
Well on Monday I had to file for a renewal for my drivers licence. Did it online as advised by the DVLA letter. Filled out all the forms, was able to use my passport photo that they had on file and to my complete amazement I received y shiny new drivers licence in the mail today.
It must have been sent in the post at least yesterday!

Appeal for donations for Carriacou Animal Hospital

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Photo by CAH

What a great experience. Lots of memories and and a moderate skin tan that will disappear quite quickly in this Welsh winter.

Although there were a lot of nice relaxing moments on the beach there were also lots of animal care that we were involved with. The beautiful scenery of the island should not conceal the tremendous work Kathy, Shurlyn and all the people that are involved and help out with the Carriacou Animal Hospital (CAH).

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!This is why I would like to appeal for your help as the hospital is not government funded and relies only on charitable donations. One of the vets in the UK has opened a Just Giving page here:

https://www.justgiving.com/carricaouanimalhospital/

All proceeds go to buying supplies for CAH. Alternatively you can also donate to the Worldwide Veterinary Service (WVS) who organise volunteer work in projects round the world and provide help for various causes.

First impressions

Writing this at least a couple of days into my stay. The passport control people nearly didn’t let me in the country as they seem to pretend they didn’t know about Carriacou animal hospital and to top it off the donated medical supplies got seized by customs. With the great effort from Penny in Grenada we managed to get them back the following day which meant I missed the morning ferry to Carriacou.

Setting off

Don’t think I have ever travelled with so much luggage. Besides my own stuff I will also bring over some consumables like surgical gloves, flea treatment and so on. Got some great plastic containers that are nice and waterproof.

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Those 4 boxes above was how I got everything from the WVS. I was a little worried about how I am going to get all the luggage from the long term car park, on the bus and then on the terminal. Found a great solution as BA who I am flying with has early check in so I was able to check in all my luggage the day before (between 4pm and 10pm). Parked in the short term car park and plenty of trolleys about. No queues at check-in … brilliant 🙂
So tomorrow when I set of I don’t have to be at the airport 3h prior to flight but later. Also I just need to cary hand luggage from the long term car park.

Had a little walk round the North terminal … didn’t feel at all like a vagrant.

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Improving the chance you are reachable when on-call

Recently I have been on-call a lot – as a veterinary surgeon, of course. However the village I am staying in has very poor mobile reception, especially indoors so I have come up with a system to improve my chances that the clients can reach me when I am on call at home. I also do not have use of a land-line, but I do have a WiFi connection.

As often the case when staying in an area with a poor mobile signal the indicating bars can come and gome at will and I often end up with a nice stop sign that indicates I have absolutely nothing, zilch, nada of a mobile signal. Moments when this happens are impossible to predict. So how will clients be able to reach me if that happens?

I found a solution in FlyNumber and a separate voip provider. In my case Sip2Ssip however you can now use Fly Number as a voip provider as well. Not to be to technical, Fly Number provides you with a local phone number which you can use to redirect calls to a VOIP (voice Over IP) provider, which is a fancy abbreviation for a internet phone connection. This internet phone connection can be established for example on you PC, laptop or, even better, on you smartphone.

Prerequisites:

  • an account with Fly Number or any other phone number provider (however I found this one the best by far)
  • an account with a VOIP provider like Sip2Sip, Fly Number, Skype…
  • a WiFi signal with a working internet connection
  • smartphone

Basically I setup a new UK number (as this is where I live). I set the number up so that all calls get forwarded to an ITSP – I already had an account setup with Sip2Sip which FlyNumber recommended. I have a Samsung smartphone where I have installed Zopier and linked it to my Sip2Sip account. However after the recent JellyBean upgrade I seem to have got the phone to take incoming voip calls through Sip2Sip.
I am working at this current practice for 2 months so I went for the three month FlyNumber account but with no repeat subscriptions.
I also setup my phone to redirect all calls when I am unreachable to the FlyNumber I purchased.

So as long as I am logged onto the wifi in my accommodation – or anywhere else and if the mobile signal is lost, then my calls will go via voip to my mobile phone. Brilliant.

Update February 2015

I have been contacted by Fly Number about this post as they monitor any mention of their company on the net. They offered me three months credit if I put a link to them. Well as this was after I wrote the article and as I don’t get a lot of free stuff I said Yeah 🙂

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