Highwaycode rule #129 and Morden Rd

I hate this stretch of road sometimes. There are solid white lines to prevent vehicles from overtaking on approach to the brow of a hill, but this rule in the Highway Code gives car drivers the excuse to ignore them, make an unsafe pass potentially having to cut in to avoid an oncoming car they didn’t see.



Every night on my commute home I see cars, HGVs and coaches straddling these double solid lines to pass cyclists, most are not slowing down traffic and doing more than 10mph, so in effect these drivers are contravening rule 129. Over the brow of the hill is a 30mph speed camera that everyone brakes for, and only then, a cycle lane starts!

Morden Rd

Approach to brow of hill where no over taking appropriate


Needless to say I’ve never seen a car stopped for an unsafe pass.

My quick win #Space4Cycling suggestion would be “Do Not Overtake Cyclists” signs, then convert the path to a cycle lane and make the other side pedestrian only??? Maybe divert some police resource from red light jumping duties to watch this spot for dangerous driving.

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Campaign election candidates via #VoteBike

Campaign election candidates via #VoteBike

Campaign election candidates via #VoteBike





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Ruby, really?

rubyWe’re using Ruby to write cucumber step definitions in our test framework, a colleague was banging his head against a wall last night and posted this, it really is quite scary!


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Aeolian Islands

In July this year we chartered Maria Elena a Bravia 36 for a week from Sant Agata in Sicily.

The attraction of this holiday was not just about sailing but also the volcanoes!

Having travelled by train from Catania we got to Sant Agata in the evening. It was a Saturday night and we were told that no taxi drivers would be working?! Luckily for us the waitress offered to take all of us and our luggage to the pier in her own car. Two trips in a small hatchback later, the team at the charter company were keen to see us and did a quick handover at 7pm to save us hanging around in the morning.

Sunday 27th July: Lipara: After getting some supplies from the supermarket we didn’t get away until 12.30. We left for Lipara and Volcano, and anchored by North Connetto beach and ate dinner on the beach.


Monday 28th July: Panarea: We headed back to Volcano for the black sandy beach and the smouldering plume of smoke. The afternoon was spent on the beach while the others walked up through the village and on to the sulphurous plume.


Then it was a quick dash to beat sunset anchoring on the Southern coast of Panarea.


Tuesday 29th July: Stromboli (stuck on shore): We pushed on up North with a nice westerly on the beam, giving Basilezzo a close pass on the way up to Stromboli which we reached around 4pm.


We motored around the North to see the volcano and could even see lava erupting.


We anchored on the NE side by the town and ate at La Lampara. By the time we returned to the tender on the beach we realised how rough it had got and opted to sleep on the beach for a bit.

It turned out to be an experience not to forget, under the milky way, watching shooting stars, hearing eruptions and claps of thunder and lightening on the sides of the volcano from behind and the strong but warm wind that was crashing waves onto the shore in front. Once there was enough light to board the tender we got back onto the boat.

Wednesday 30th July: Stromboli (volcano walk): We weren’t going anywhere as today would be the evening volcano walk.


Thursday 31st July: Salina: set off early with coffee in hand by 9am. Had a really pleasant northerly on our backs until I came round the south of Stromboli into a 5 or 6 force westerly. With all the sail up it took everyone a little bit by surprise (we also lost a boat hook!) but it did make for good progress south towards Salina where we anchored at Lingua on the south east by 4pm. Nice restaurants, pebble beach and wifi.

Friday 1st August: Back to base, Sant Agata: Setting off at 8.30am I seemed to have no instruments, though I was sure the water looked deep enough! 🙂 A steady force 3/4 meant we sailed the entire way. Taking a heading due south to Capo D’orlando we found the wind swing to the NW allowing us to sail close hauled parallel with the beach over the turquoise water all the way back to base.


We had done more sailing that in previous years with a total diesel consumption of 43l for the week.

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Dalmatian islands in the Adriatic

In the first week of May through our friends at Bareboat Sailing Holidays we chartered Nana a Gib Sea 37 for a week starting and ending at the Sail Croatia base at Kaštela Marina, near Split, Croatia.

Date Location Wind Distance travelled (miles) Notes
Sat 3rd  Kaštela Marina 0 Very wet, handover boat 4pm
Sun 4th Kaštela Marina to Bobovisca, Brac 50knt gusts NE  15 Broad reach South, half a main. Buoys in bay Bobovisca 200 kuna
Mon 5th Bobovisca, Brac to Stari Grad, Hvar 4/5 N  17 Broad reach/run to Stari Grad. Marina 375 kuna – no buoys until July
Tues 6th  Stari Grad, Hvar to Vela Luka, Korcula 2/3 NE   35 Very calm, motored. Free buoys town quay
Wed 7th Vela Luka, Korcula to Komiza, Viz 3/4 SE 32 Broad reach West to Viz, Buoys in harbour 250 kuna
Thurs 8th Komiza, Viz to Bisevo to Milna, Brac  3/4 N   35  New marina with WC under construction, €40
Fri 9th Milna, Brac to Kaštela Marina  3/4 NW  17 Calm until afternoon, then close hauled North back to base marina
Sat 10th Kaštela Marina 0 left boat 9am


“Taxi maybe?”

IMG_5488 The day started early with the flight to Split leaving Gatwick before 6am. Knowing the boat wouldn’t be ready until later in the afternoon we had the day to be tourists, albeit in heavy rain. The staff were really helpful allowing us to leave bags in the office and Trogir was a short taxi ride (200 kuna) away. Our friendly driver Ante was keen to show us everything when we got there. In marketWanting to look around ourselves we were pleasantly surprised his tour consisted of parking on the zebra crossing in the centre and pointing, “this is the market, this is the old stuff, you might be interested, around there is the castle, and over the bridge the marina. Call me I’ll take you back, if you like.” We decided quite quickly Croatia is pretty laid back.

Setting sail, first leg south to Brac

4 May


Grey startWindy NE gusts were forecast up to 60 knots. So putting off departure and another Gratos cash & carry run later, we waited for a queue of boats to come in and eventually set off about 2pm. With 30-40 knots wind and 50 knot gusts, we sailed with only 1/2 the main out. We made such good progress we almost overshot Milna, Brac then sailed E to Bobovisca where we arrived 6pm.



Fresh Seabass grilled on an open log fire, we used tender from anchorage buoys.


Island hoping to Hvar, on to Stari Grad

5 May


on a run10am off the mooring it was nice and sunny, we sailed with steady winds around South Brac. After lunching on the boat and had broad reach / run to Stari Grad where we arrived 4pm. The main jammed in the mast when furling just as we come in, there were no buoys available (until July turns out) so sorted that out and moored on the town quay.

Calamari & ZucchP1000472ini was followed by some G&T’s then we ate at Antika restaurant.



Further South, on to Vela Luka

6 May


Vela LukaLeft 11am after speaking to a Scottish couple moored next to us who recommended moorings at Komica, Viz where you can take your tender into caves under a restaurant (Jastozera) an hours sail from the Blue Caves. Motored out of Stari Grad heading West around coast to Hvar town. No wind so continued motoring on to Vela Luka, a little wind later and free buoys in the town harbour, and helpful neighbours when the boat hook started floating away! 🙂


Walked up the hill to Vela Spila caves, they were closed but the views of bay were fantastic.

Ate Scorpion fish at Casablanca, expensive but nice, with oysters and mussels to start, really recommend.

As the sun went down we listened to Floyd, Wish You Were Here. Well, we were glad we were!

West to Viz

7 May


short swimTendered into town to exchange money and get supplies. I took a short swim after coffee, 17C water temp, and was reminded it was still only May! Motored out of Vela Luka 11am heading West to Viz on broad reach. Good wind (15-20 knots) until South of Viz, then motored round to Komiza arriving 6pm.

Fisherman KomizaMooring buoys a plenty, later in evening harbour master took our boat papers and said to pay at the office before leaving, caught!! 250 Kuna ca-ching!

Back up North, get as far as Brac

8 May


Showers to start the day SE wind forecast changing to N. So we set off to Bisevo / Blue Cave 9.30am. Turned out Blue cave was closed because there wasn’t sunshine so no light effect to be seen. We came along side the quay just to be told the “cave men” had just left. After also hearing stories of Irish canoeists having been rescued after capsizing days before we considered our original plan of heading directly North to Rogoznica and decided instead to motor more to the NE  keeping closer to Hvar and Brac in case the weather turned.

P1000521We made good time though arriving in Milna at 4.30pm which gave the opportunity to chill out watching the other boats come in.


Last hop back to base

9 May


Milna, we had moored at the new marina next to fishery. The shower block was still under construction, the showers were in use but to get in you had to walk under the ceiling as it was still being painted!

NanaAfter setting off we hit a dead calm after an initial light breeze, we motored  for an hour then the NW/W picked up to around 25 knots and we made about 5+ knots close hauled up to Kastela marina. After filling the tank up (for 439 kuna) we were berthed at the marina 4.30pm.

That gave us a chance to explore Split in the evening eating at Fife, pronounced Fee-Fee which we’d highly recommend serving a beef goulash with gnocchi that really hit the spot.

Saturday morning we had to say good bye to Nana who had served us well before another “Taxi maybe?” to Split and a bus back to the airport and flight home.

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space4cyclingPlease take action by visiting http://action.space4cycling.org/

Watch Jon Snow, CTC President, on the CTC’s campaign page or YouTube. See also Build it & they will come: Jon Snow on cycling

Last week my 6 year old daughter joined me on my commute with the tow-a-long and yesterday I cycled with the girlfriend out to parks and around.

In both cases I didn’t want either put off by being close to cars (and lorries) so we stayed on pavements and, when I could find them, cycle routes.

It has been an eye opener! In fact on the way home my daughter just asked “Can we just go on the road Daddy? it’s easier…”

You might expect to see signs like this on pavements (or maybe not)


But what I wasn’t expecting was to keep coming across these


The path narrows, and cyclists are given nothing. It just stops. Not even paint on the road.


And paint is just paint at the end of the day, it’s not much good either if it just stops because some pinch point or narrowing of the road means there’s not room for a vehicle and a cyclist. It’s as if the planners just gave up, rather than give the more vulnerable road user priority or some warning to all road users alike, you just see the cycle lane stop, and then start again when there’s room further down the road.

If you are reading this I’m probably preaching to the converted anyway. Hopefully the need for these will be reduced if the cycle routes were just joined up in the first place!


And why is this a warning sign anyway? Cycle routes increase the safety for everyone. That’s the psychology gained of being in a metal box Jon Snow talks about creeping into the Highway code.

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VHF Licensing and Operating


Thank you Ofcom (and the Oban canoe club) – had my license within minutes – for free! 🙂

 Licences are FREE if done via the website: https://services.ofcom.org.uk/

Below shamelessly copied from http://www.obancanoeclub.org.uk/resources/8-sea-paddling-info/57-vhf-licensing-and-operating.html 

VHF Licensing and Operating

Researched by Rowland Woollven, January 2011


I have done some research to clarify the position on ourselves and VHF licensing and operating. All of the technical detail can be found on the Ship Radio Licence part of the Ofcom website: http://licensing.ofcom.org.uk/radiocommunication-licences/ships-radio/?a=0

The site includes a lot of information and guidance. You may have to dot backwards and forwards, but the website is fairly user-friendly.

The Law

Licensing. The law is quite straightforward and unambiguous: your VHF set MUST be licensed (there are big penalties for failing to do this, and then getting caught.) Licences are FREE if done via the website: https://services.ofcom.org.uk/

(So, given that the process is free, relatively straightforward and gives you a T number (callsign for handheld VHF) and/or an MMSI number for a DSC set, it does not make a great deal of sense NOT to do it!). Note also that you do NOT have to hold a Certificate of Competence in order to obtain a Ship Portable Radio Licence.

Operating your VHF. The legal requirement here is perfectly straightforward and unambiguous (taken from http://licensing.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/spectrum/ships-radio/of168a.pdf) :

13. Maritime Radio Operator’s Certificate

13.1 Whilst it is not necessary to hold a Certificate of Competence in order to obtain a Ship Radio Licence or a Ship Portable Radio Licence, a maritime radio may be operated only by or under the direct personal supervision of a holder of the appropriate Certificate of Competence and Authority to Operate (normally granted by the Secretary of State. This is to maintain operational standards and ensure knowledge of current distress, emergency and safety procedures. The certificate holder is required to produce these documents when requested to do so by a person authorised by Ofcom.

13.2 The minimum Certificate of Competence that is required for use of a ship radio is the Short Range Certificate. This certificate covers use of both standard VHF and VHF/DSC equipment under the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System in sea area A1.

However, note also the exemption made under: http://licensing.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/spectrum/ships-radio/of19a.pdf

4. Maritime Radio Operator’s Certificates

4.1 International legal requirement

Even if your radio is covered by a valid WT Act licence, you may not use it for general transmissions until:

  • you have passed the relevant examination and possess a valid operator’s certificate and authority to operate; or
  • you are under the direct and personal supervision of someone who has done so. (This requirement applies to all ports and marinas, as well as vessels, that use radio equipment with access to international maritime frequencies.) However, you can still monitor the radio for safety purposes or use it to summon assistance in a distress situation, without one. (My emphasis).

4.2 Why are operator’s certificates necessary?

As maritime radio exists primarily for the safety of life and vessels at sea, it must be used effectively. Operator’s qualifications have been agreed internationally to ensure that users:

  • possess the necessary operational skills; and
  • know the procedures for general calling, and especially the procedures used in distress or safety situations.

To obtain an operator’s certificate, you must prove that you:

  • understand and can use the correct procedures for radio use; and
  • will not cause a nuisance to your fellow radio users (including other vessels and HM Coastguard).

You must also show that you are familiar with the procedures required if you have to use your radio in an emergency situation. If you need to send, respond to or relay a ‘MAYDAY’, you will be able to do so effectively – this could save someone’s life.


Reflecting all the above:

a. You MUST licence your radio. Go to the website now! https://services.ofcom.org.uk/

b. You OUGHT to obtain your Short Range Certificate to operate it – but you are completely within the law to operate your VHF for distress and life-saving purposes with no training or certification whatsoever.

c. If you decide to operate under the legal exemption above, bear in mind that knowledge of the phonetic alphabet and the procedures for Mayday and Pan Pan calls may save YOUR life; so at the very least, buy a book and learn them! Also bear in mind that using the ship-to-ship channels for inter-group chat, or contacting the Coastguard for anything outside a Mayday/Pan Pan, is unlawful.

The reality is that the Coastguard would much rather hear from you than about you – so don’t be afraid to use your VHF when you need to. Ofcom do carry out inspections in marinas and similar locations, but their interest and emphasis is on licensing, not certification – so go to the website now and licence your radio! https://services.ofcom.org.uk


The RYA are the nominated competent authority for delivering Short Range Certificate training and assessment to ‘the public’. Charges have two components: the training/assessment course fee (set by the organisation doing the training under the auspices of the RYA), and the RYA administration fee (which at £30 you may consider a lot to turn a results sheet into a certificate!). Course providers have no latitude over the administration fee, so it is worth checking to see if any stated ‘course cost’ actually includes the fee, or whether it is an additional cost…

Rowland Woollven

25 Jan 11

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