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huddro

huddro
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    • SS Thistlegorm / Sporting Venue / 6 Readings / 35 Ratings
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      09.05.2003 14:50
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      1941 It was the third week of September when the SS Thistlegorm moored at Safe Anchorage F in the Gulf of Suez to await passage through the Suez Canal to Alexandria. A journey that had started from Glasgow on the 2nd June 1941 and proceeded in convoy via Cape town then up the East Coast of Africa. The wait for passage was to last 2 weeks. The ships manifest simply marked MT (Motor Transport) covered a multitude of war supplies destined for the 8th Army at Tobruk from Bedford trucks, Bren-Gun Carriers, BSA Motorcycles, Armoured cars, Weapons, Ammunition, Aircraft, Radios, Boots, and more besides. Even the owners the Alban Line had taken the opportunity to load two sets of Railway rolling stock for delivery to the Egyptian Railways, carried as deck cargo. The drone of the propellers and the rushing of wind through the cockpit kept the chilled pilots of the two Heinkel HE111?s from Number 2 Group 26th Kemp Squadron alert as they searched the dark night sky for a sign of their prize. Having taken off earlier in the evening from their base in Crete after intelligence reported a large troopship was due to travel through the Suez canal carrying 1200 British troops they were beginning to feel they were hunting for a needle in a haystack. As the needle on their fuel gauges sank the pilots turned for home looking to jettison their cargo of bombs to lighten their load and make it back to base. As they headed down the Gulf of Suez, their fuel critical, a dark shape appeared on the water. The pilot now knew where to drop his bombs. Dropping altitude the pilot came in low releasing his bombs right over the bridge of the Thistlegorm. Both were on Target and penetrated number 5 hold aft of the bridge detonating a great deal of ammunition. On 5th October 1941 hell had come to the Thistlegorm. The explosions from number 5 hold ripped back the armour-plated decks sending the 2 locomotives and their rolling stock high into the air. With
      hardly time to launch the lifeboats the crew abandoned ship. The raging fires and heat forcing men to leap into the sea. The deck peeled back from the explosion like a tin can trapping an injured man. One member of the crew, Angus McLeay, wrapped rags round his feet and raced across the now red hot deck to rescue his comrade an act of bravery winning him the George medal. At 0130 hours 6th October 1941 the Thistlegorm sank with the loss of 9 lives. Captain Ellis and the 35 remaining members of his crew were rescued and safely taken to Suez. Present Day ?Mooring line attached if we go we go now. Kit on, follow the line, meet at the deck? the boat heaves in the swell as the dive master disappears beneath the waves the first divers jump, like freefall parachutists, single file the line moves to the back of the boat and as the stern drops off the swell the divers jump descending the line immediately, in conditions like this you do not want to be on the surface. It is 0600 on a November morning 2001 and we are the only boat to have moored at the Thistlegorm having left Sharm at 0200 and slept on the boat (very big tip if you do this take the inside cabin it may feel warm on the sun lounger in dock but after 4 hours at sea you will be freezing whereas those of us in the know have slept warm and snug inside!) We meet at the deck to starboard of the Bridge the waters calm not even a current. A quick check of my gauges to ensure all is ok, a signal from my buddy says the same and as the final diver arrives we swim for?ard for an external view of the wreck. Over the deck past the locomotive water carriers still standing tied down, past the gaping hole above hold 2 wondering how the deck can still be supporting these trains after all this time. We continue to head forward and drop over the bows dropping slowly to the seabed, to head aft along the port side. Corals form beautiful patterns and barracuda school above us. Looking a
      way from the wreck a steam train engine sits upright on the seabed as though placed, turning back to the wreck the gaping mess of hold 5, or what remains, shows why the ship sank so quickly. Here the ship is more or less ripped in two her stern tilted 45 degrees while the rest of her structure sits upright on the sand. Her cargo is spread and thrown, a jumbled mess of smashed army supplies. Continuing towards the stern her sole gun hangs disconsolate not having fired a shot in defence. Many fish have made their home here giant Barracuda hang off the port side, lion fish patrol below the wreck and scorpion fish sit waiting for the unwary. Finning round the stern we are faced with the enormous propeller now the size of this ship really sinks in the brass still shining in the water. We move forward again past the remains of hold 5 and ascend to the bridge to take the line for the surface. As soon as we are on the line the swell takes hold and as we near the surface are tossed like rag dolls. Breaking the surface shows utter confusion dive boats are everywhere trying to tie to the wreck and each other, Piccadilly Circus springs to mind, to add to this melee there is a 6 foot swell and exiting proves tricky. Back on the boat a quick tank change, a mixture test and we kit up, deciding to head back down for the second dive after only a 30 minute surface interval rather than have lunch and then dive. The weather is worsening and more boats are arriving by the minute. We use the same procedure to enter and descend clearing the surface as fast as possible. This is the big dive we are actually going into the wreck. We are lucky enough to be diving with Alastair from the Red Sea Diving College, who was a member of the 1991 team that mapped the Thistlegorm, and as such knows this wreck inside out. As we descend into the gloom of hold 2 our torchlight picks out the Bedford trucks with the BSA Motorcycles still lined u
      p as if waiting for unloading. We curve into hold 1 where aircraft parts are stored; looking up we can make out the trains on the deck hanging ominously over the hold. Dropping into the lower hold we find boxes of Lee Enfield 303 rifles set into their cases by the effects of concretion. As we swim back through hold 2 we can make out the vast store of Lorries, Motorcycles, trailers and various other cargo. While our eyes adjust to the gloom we need to take care not to catch on any of the jagged edges that abound or to put unwary hands onto spars in case scorpion fish lurk. Passing into Number 3 hold we come across box after box of Lee Enfield rifles and beyond this is what was the fuel store. Single file we move into a smaller passage and find ourselves in what was the galley, along another corridor we can peer into what was once the Captain's cabin. Dropping down a walkway we swim through the remains of hold 5 all are caught by a solitary boot laying on the seabed a grim reminder that this is a war grave and sailors lost their lives here. Moving on we find a Bren-gun carrier turned turtle, boxes of shells, more rifles, and more lorries faint markings for the 8th Army. Ascending slightly we start to swim for'ard encountering other groups of divers. All too quickly we are back at the line having completed a full circuit of this amazing wreck. Ascending I watch back as she is swallowed in the gloom. On board the dive boat we have a few more pressing problems some seasickness and more importantly a broken anchor. After much maneuvering and no lack of skill by our crew one anchor is duly retrieved and we head for home. A final treat though, we are escorted by a school of dolphins playing with the boat, what a day! Statistics The Thistlegorm was built in 1940 being 12.65m in length and 4,898 gross tones. She was owned by the Albyn Line and partly funded by the British Government as part of the war effort. Armed wi
      th one anti aircraft gun mounted on the stern she was designated an armed freighter. After being sunk in 1941 Jacques Cousteau rediscovered the wreck around 1956. Cousteau did not reveal the position of the ship and it was not until the early 90?s that the ship was marked. The Thistlegorm sits on the seabed at 32meters with the top of her bridge at around 10m. My Family and the Thistlegorm The Thistlegorm will always hold a special place in my heart. One of the men of the 8th Army waiting for her to arrive was my Grandfather, a tank driver pushed forward by Montgomery to break the Middle East deadlock. Although short of supplies their battle group still pressed forward from Tobruk against Rommel's Army. Unfortunately my Grandfather was never to know peace giving his life for his country in the desert in Libya. If you ever dive her take a moment and spare a thought for the brave men who sailed in her and those who relied on her cargo. Take care not to damage her nor be tempted to take items from her, allow others to experience her as she is now. Diving Trips Most diving centres in the popular resorts of Sharm Hurghada and Dahab run excursions to the Thistlegorm but these trips are not generally included in your standard dive package. There is also an entrance fee payable for the Dive Boat to enter the Ras Mohammad National Park, as this area of sea is designated due to the beautiful corals. You will also need your passport on this trip, as it has been known for Egyptian authorities to board Dive Boats and check identities. The cost of this for us was 60USD each. Conclusion This is one of the most outstanding wrecks in the world and well worth a visit. If you are qualified dive on Nitrox to enable a longer bottom time as there is so much to see and take in from this well preserved wreck, unfortunately you will need to be at least a PADI Advanced diver as this wreck lies much deeper than th
      e 18m open water limit.

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      • More +
        23.01.2002 22:19
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        This was a journey they took everyday. Leaving home at 0530 to travel into London to open their café. This morning was no different to any other, dark and cold, not the crisp fresh cold of previous mornings more a damp misty cold. As with every other morning traffic was light and the heater slowed reactions. Neither of them was prepared for the wrenching crunch of twisted metal as the motorcycle in front of them was hit from the side by a scooter. He braked hard, but she had nothing to do but watch as the motorcycle rider was flung into the air like a rag doll. She almost heard the thump of impact as the riders body broke onto the hard tarmac to eventually slide to a halt. The scooter rider was standing dazed but the motorcycle rider did not move. Seconds seemed like hours as she looked down on the riders crumpled body. Her husband busied himself moving the bikes from the middle of the road. Crouching she touched the rider, she had never felt so helpless she had no idea what to do. Another bike stopped behind her and a rider crouched she heard the words “I’m a St Johns trained Medic” relief washed over her as she was absolved from responsibility. Would you know what to do if you came across a person lying in the road after an accident? With the right training you could, as the blood donation advert says “do something wonderful…. save a life” I am not going to try and teach you First Aid in this opinion but I will pass on a little theory. So what is First Aid? It is defined as the treatment given to a casualty until professional assistance can be given. It is carried out to preserve life, prevent deterioration of the condition, and promote recovery. According to the RAC, over half of those killed in road accidents die before they reach hospital. And well over a third of those could have been saved by first aid at the scene. Thanks to the RAC for that comment.
        First Aid is as easy as ABC and that is exactly what you will learn. ABC is the priority to which you work and that is Airway, Breathing, and Circulation. For instance you would deal with an unconscious casualty who was laying on their back as their tongue could block the airway before you dealt with an unconscious casualty laying on their front. There are a number of recognized training organizations that teach First Aid skills, the most well known being the Red Cross and St Johns Ambulance. Before you decide what company you want to train with ensure they are recognized at the level you wish to train to. For example I am trained to the standards laid down by the Health and Safety Executive to fulfill the role of Appointed Person. This means I am the named qualified first aider at work. As a bonus to me it is also recognised by PADI the diving organization and means that I do not have to undergo their Medic first Aid training for my Rescue Diver Course as I have already covered everything and more in the HSE qualification. You may not wish to take things to this level but basic first aid awareness should be a prerequisite for everyone. According to statistics most accidents happen in the home and you are 20 times more likely to have a fatal accident at home than to win the lottery (thanks to the BBC website for that statistic) I have already mentioned the ABC of first aid but obviously not everything you come across will be quite so severe. As a qualified first aider you may treat everything from removing a splinter to rescue breathing for a casualty. So what will you learn on the HSE course: Incident Management The first thing you will learn here is to make sure that you are safe at all times. You do not want to become a casualty too. Incident management is based on a 5-point plan: Assess the situation Make the area safe Assess all casualties and give emergency aid Get help
        Deal with the aftermath Casualty Management This will enable you to decide which injuries and conditions must be treated first and to recognize the priorities of the ABC rule we mentioned earlier. You will be taught in this section the following: Mouth to mouth ventilation for a casualty who is not breathing Perform chest compressions on a casualty with no circulation Treat a wound be it a small scratch or a penetrating stab wound Treat a fracture Treat burns and scalds Recognise and treat various conditions from angina to hypoxia, from a heart attack to an asthma attack. Each of the above will be taught in regard to both conscious and unconscious casualties. The biggest fear most people have of becoming a first aider is the thought of the responsibility involved in treating a casualty. Please remember there are no expectations, all you can do is your best and any treatment you give to preserve life is better than the casualty dying. I hope this has given you an insight into First Aid and perhaps given you the encouragement you need to go out there and learn some new skills. Remember more accidents happen in the home than anywhere else so your skills are more likely to save a member of your family or a friend than a stranger! As you probably gathered the medic at the start of this opinion was me. To take you through the incident: I had the couple block the road with their car to shield the rider, as I checked he was breathing and then checked the scooter rider. The motorcyclist had complicated fractures to his left forearm (bones sticking out through the skin), had two fractures to his right arm, cuts to his hands, and concussion. I made him comfortable and stayed with him until the ambulance arrived whereupon I was able to give the crew full details of the guys name, age, what had happened, suspected injuries, and medication history saving them valuable tim
        e. The scooter rider ran from the scene before Police arrived. The passenger in the van spoke to me after the accident to find out where she could learn first aid. The motorcyclist has now left hospital and is at home with his family. We talk a couple of times a week after he contacted me to say thanks for looking after him. It is satisfying to know that I can help and could possibly save a life and I hope that if I am ever the casualty that there is a first aider to help me. St Johns Ambulance www.sja.org.uk British Red Cross www.redcross.org.uk ©huddro2002

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        • Paintball in General / Discussion / 3 Readings / 57 Ratings
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          10.01.2002 23:08
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          I moved slowly, inching forward on my stomach through the long grass. The webbing straps determined to snag at every opportunity. The silence beneath the canopy of trees magnifying the sounds I make. The damp finally penetrates my combat overalls, my tee shirt underneath rubbing but it has to be this way, there is just no cover to move any other way. Approaching the tree line I strain my head slightly, scanning the area in front of me, nothing I could have been alone. I check my weapon and slowly pan the tree line nothing moves. Then I see him inching out into the clearing, amateur, he couldn’t rifle crawl to save his life. That thought makes me smirk as in about thirty seconds he is going to wish he had learnt to rifle crawl or maybe not as he is not going to be here much longer. I roll onto my left side bringing my automatic weapon into my shoulder. I spread my legs slightly and focus, he fills my sight but at 75 yards it’s a long shot. I wait watching. He is oblivious, turning to wave to a friend in the tree line behind him, thank you ….. now I know where your back up is. At 50 yards I take three rapid breaths to oxygenate my system then slowly breathe out as I tighten pressure on the trigger. Holding my breath I squeeze with slightly more pressure, there is a crack and almost immediately he gasps …. cannot believe he has been shot. I roll left into cover as his backup fires whump whump whump as ammunition hits where I was laying. Luckily my backup is more on the ball and pretty soon cries of marshal echo from within the opposite tree line as our two-paintball opponents retire from the game. Paintball can be as serious or as fun as you want it to be. A great corporate day out for team building, or a competitive sport to get the adrenaline flowing and test a number of skills. So what is paintball? Well the paintball I am talking about is skirmishing, the basic form of th
          e game where two teams face each other with a definitive challenge, maybe to capture the opposing team flag or take a fort. There are several more challenging games for the real enthusiast (or wanna be SAS man/woman) but we are entering a whole different realm there. The skirmish game originated around 1984 when a number of agencies that ran team building corporate days decided that outward bound type days were dated and as the Americans were running round shooting each other it would be a good way for yuppies to team build. Well the boys and girls in the City took to it like ducks to water and pretty son we found we were participating in the American banks paintball challenge the broker cup and we wanted to do it in our spare time too. Pretty quickly the paintball companies cottoned onto this and opened their doors to public participation. What happens? Well call up your nearest paintball center, these can be found in the Yellow pages or on the net and book a paintball day. They will advise you to wear some old clothes, some sturdy boots and give you a time to turn up. Do be on time as latecomers make it hard to divide into teams and interrupt the safety briefings. So on arrival you need to register and pay your fee generally around £20 for the day and this will include hire of the gun and gas as well as your safety equipment which we will talk about in a little while. You will need to buy ammunition e.g. paintballs which are generally sold now in packs of 50 and work out at about 4 to 6p a ball. You can also buy additional fun ammunition but again we will talk about that later. Once everyone has registered the marshals will divide you into teams, depending on numbers this may be two or four teams, and begin the safety briefing. Safety This is the top priority and the number of accidents over the history of paintball is exceptionally low making it a great sport. Not that it does not hurt! You
          will be issued with a number of items of equipment for your safety: Facemask and goggles This may be of one-piece construction or a separate mask and goggles. These stop you getting seriously hurt, as a paintball to the face at 80mph will cause a lot of damage to eyes, lips, and gums if you happen to have your mouth open! The masks are generally in two styles the hockey type that protects your face only or a wraparound type that covers the ears. I generally go for the hockey mask as technically headshots are illegal and do not count and the mask covering your ears limits hearing. When in the game area you must wear these items at all times and only ever remove them back in the safe area. I will explain these terms a little further down. Overalls Camouflage overalls not only make it harder for the “enemy” to see you but also protect you from the impact of the paintballs. The current weapons using gas fire the paintballs at around 300 feet per second as the leave the muzzle. That hurts when it hits you so as well as the enforced exclusion zone the overalls give you a little protection. They also soak up the paint and protect your own clothes underneath Terminology so far Safe area This is the area where loaded weapons are not allowed. You will remove your hopper (the bit that carries the pellets), clear your weapon and show to a Marshall that it is clear before entering this area. Game area Guess what this is the bit after you have loaded your weapon. It is any area outside the safe area and mask and goggles must be worn at all times. Exclusion Zone Due to the velocity of the paintballs and at this speed they will penetrate flesh causing a very messy wound the marshals will enforce a 6 to 8 feet exclusion zone. If you are closer than that to your enemy you may not shoot each other. Shooting results in disqualification! Ok the final piece of advice I can give you i
          s to wear gloves. Not only will your hands get sweaty on a hot day, and cold on a cold day (obviously) and affect your grip on the weapon but a shot ricocheting off your weapon will take a nail off and we are not talking a little broken nail I actually saw a guy have his thumbnail ripped right off! So lecture over on to the fun stuff the weapons. Weapons There are two types of gun in common use a pump action and a semi automatic weapon. The main difference being that one is a single shot manual weapon and the other a gas powered weapon that has the capability to fire for as long as you hold the trigger down. The gas semi automatics are by far the most common now and are pretty powerful. As I mentioned earlier the ball leaves the muzzle at about 300 feet per second and will travel accurately around 70 to 80 yards though you will hit at 100yards if your gun is in exceptional condition. These weapons make a great sound as well! Ammunition Paint balls .68 inch calibre (thanks markw-d)and made of a very thin plastic filled with a temporary dye that will disappear in plenty of time for your next game. You load up your hopper, attach it to the top of the gun and the paintballs drop vertically into the muzzle. Grenades…. now these really are fun. A paint grenade if thrown to explode at chest height will cover an area of about 6 feet so anyone in it is out of the game. Making a big bang these are ideal for games where you have to gain access to a building or any defended area. Games Over the day you will play a number of games against the other teams working on a league basis. You will have to capture enemy flags and bring them back to your base. You will storm buildings to neutralize the other team and many other variations depending on the imagination of the marshals. If hit a marshal will verify whether you are killed or wounded, if killed you are out of the game and will go to the a
          rea set aside for dead people. If wounded you may carry on until the marshal says you have died or until you are hit again but obviously if hit on an arm you may not use that arm the same for a leg etc. Conclusion Playing paintball will test your coordination, your communication, and your interaction with others. The team that wins is the one that can communicate and organize itself rather than having just a number of individuals charging around doing their own thing. Most of all paintball is fun in the fresh air and gives gym haters like me a little exercise and some good laughs with friends. Well I hope that’s given you a taste and perhaps you will try it one day, but remember stay alert and keep your head down. I signal to my back up and we move out from the tree line and into the recently vacated positions of our enemy. I signal to my left and the next two man assault team moves into position. A slight rustle on my right and our third team signals position. We edge forward looking for the enemy defence teams. Their flag hangs limply from the trunk of an old oak. Cigarette smoke curls from a ditch to the left of it and my assault team 2 signal that is where they will hit. I raise my hand and count off 3 with my fingers grenades whirl to explode above the ditch dousing the enemy in paint, smoke curls and we yell as weapons on automatic we storm into the smoke………….. For more information check out the Paintball federation site and find a war near you! http://www.ukpsf.com/

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          • Dive Computers / Discussion / 1 Reading / 44 Ratings
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            02.01.2002 21:47
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            Diving is a wonderful way to spend your time. Swimming along exploring a wreck, watching fish or beautiful coral. It can be all too easy to forget the inherent dangers of being too deep for too long. Scuba diving safety limits are based on recreational dive tables that allow for no-decompression diving and exceeding these limits can be extremely dangerous and in the worst-case result in death. So how do we make sure we stay within our limits? Good planning for your dive and sticking to your dive plan make sure you remain safe and to help you with this a computer is an invaluable asset. I have dived with a Suunto Stinger for the past year and would recommend Suunto computers above other makes based on the conservatism of their no-decompression algorithms alone. A Suunto will always give you a shorter bottom time at 30metres than an Aladdin keeping you that extra bit safe. So my choice of computer was primarily based on conservatism, my next priority was that I wanted a small computer that would also double as a watch while on dive trips. This narrowed my choice to the Mosquito and the Stinger, and to be honest the Stinger won on looks. With a chunky appearance in stainless steel with grey straps this computer looks like many of the more expensive sports watches available in the high street rather than the plain black Mosquito that looks like a cheap Casio. Also available is a stainless steel strap or a titanium version, for those with far too much cash! The titanium is also extremely shiney, I haven’t yet heard of a Triggerfish trying to take one but they do like bright objects!! So what functionality do I get on this computer? Watch Mode As a standard watch I get a clear display of the time and date with an option of showing a dual time so when in Egypt I can show London time. The time can be displayed in 12 or 24-hour format. Suunto also provide a stopwatch. The stopwatch allows meas
            urement of elapsed time, split time, and the ability to time two runners. The range on the timer is 9 hours 59 minutes and 59.9 seconds after which the timer beeps and returns to zero. An alarm function provides an alarm that is a lot louder than it should be in a watch and finally with a push of a button the entire display glows blue allowing me to see the time in the dark. Free Dive Mode For those of you who enjoy snorkeling and free diving this computer can track your dives. Providing a log with dive profiles every 4 seconds. The display during the dive will show the present depth with a choice of showing the maximum depth and temperature or dive time. The current time and dive number are shown in alternative displays. All of this data will be stored in date order under the Free diving Day History mode and can be downloaded via a Suunto interface to your PC. Gauge Mode Gauge mode shows the most basic details during a dive such as current depth, maximum depth, dive time, and temperature but care must be taken when using gauge mode as it is not possible to switch back into Air/Gas mode for 48 hours after a gauge dive (due to decompression calculations) Air/EAN Mode Before describing this section I am not going to go into details about the decompression options available, as I have never used them. Suffice to say this computer will enable you to undertake full decompression dives on tri mix gases. The main difference between air and EAN (enriched air nitrox) mode is the decompression tables used. A basic explanation of this is as follows: air is 21% oxygen 79% nitrogen. The no decompression tables are based on the rate that our bodies absorb nitrogen under pressure. The greater the pressure, the faster the absorption. Absorbing nitrogen gives you a feeling of drunkenness and while it is fun to see if the fish would like to borrow your regulator it is ultimately very dangerous! Enrich
            ed air allows us to take a different mixture in our tanks say 32% oxygen to 68% nitrogen. This would allow us to stay longer at the same depth than if we were diving on air. The computer automatically adjusts its calculations based on the percentage mix entered. So air mode will calculate the length of time you can stay at a depth based on a preset oxygen percentage whereas EAN allows you to manually enter the oxygen percentage and will then recalculate no decompression limits based on this. A word of warning you may not switch between air and EAN mode while the computer is showing you still have nitrogen saturation for example if you have already dived on air you cannot change to EAN for the second dive. The way round this is to dive in EAN mode all the time with the percentage oxygen set at 21%. So on entering the water the computer will activate giving a display similar to the free dive mode. The difference is that the computer will also display how long you can stay at a certain depth before breaking the no decompression limit. As you ascend from the dive the computer will monitor your ascent rate and audibly warn you if you are exceeding the recommended ascent rate (ascending too quickly can cause the absorbed nitrogen to leave your tissue in the form of bubbles entering the blood stream causing extreme pain!) All divers make safety stops at 5 metres to ensure that even though safety limits have not been broken we are totally safe. This computer will tell you when you hit the ceiling for the safety stop and count down your time for you. It is possible to set up the Stinger to your own personal requirements by entering your dive plan the computer will beep to warn you when you stray away from the entered details. Other personal adjustments can be made for altitude, cold exposure, obesity, and fatigue all of which will mean a diver is more susceptible to decompression sickness. After
            a dive the computer will track your surface interval and calculate any residual nitrogen in your body prior to your next dive. It will then adjust dive calculations accordingly. A great feature of this computer is the no fly warning. You should not fly for a minimum of 24 hours after diving to avoid decompression sickness. The computer displays a no fly warning until your residual nitrogen levels drop to a level where flying poses no risk. For me in Egypt this was 56 hours!!! Memory For me this is the fun bit the computer will store a combined logbook and dive profile. The data given in the logbook is the time entered, maximum depth, average depth, dive time, water temperature and surface interval. Each dive is logged by date, and dive number and can be recalled at the push of a button. The Stinger will hold approximately 36 hours of dives. The profile gives an exact profile of your dive taking a reading every 10 seconds; this does look good when played back on a pc. PC Interface Suunto provides software called Dive Manager, allowing you to keep a computerised logbook and visual profiles of your dives in chart format. This is great fun when planning your dive and following the dive the information in your Stinger can be downloaded via an interface and compared to the original plan. Points of interest during the dive can be marked and useful information such as air consumption can be calculated to help you better plan future dives! Conclusion I wanted a dive computer that would provide all the functionality I would ever need as my diving requirements change, be that wanting to dive deeper and explore full decompression diving or that I continue recreational diving. I also wanted the computer to look good, vain I know but hey what the hell. It must be a popular choice as nearly everyone on my last dive trip had one. The screen though is not scratch proof so definitely invest the extra £1.99 in
            a plastic scratch cover for your pride and joy. This is an expensive computer but probably the only one you will ever need to buy. I was lucky in that I managed to buy from a website at just over half the retail price. Alas this site has since closed but by shopping around it is possible to get some great deals. www.suunto.com

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            • More +
              11.12.2001 17:22
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              Arriving from a week in Dahab, Sharm is a shock to the system. Rising like Las Vegas from the desert Sharm is neon lights, large casinos, and very flash resorts. Being divers we had very little room for luggage so a stay at the Sheraton or Moevenpick was out. We stayed with the Red Sea Diving College at Na’ama bay. I would definitely recommend this as a location as we were no more than 5 minutes walk from the center of town and the harbour. We overlooked the beach and more importantly we could fall from the Camel Bar into our room. You will learn that anyone who dives in Sharm hangs out at the Camel Bar and it is well worth it, cheap drink free monkey nuts (mainly to throw at each other) and cheap but excellent food make this a superb night out. Anyway, a little more about Sharm. Being only 1.5 hours from Italy this is where Italians come to play in the sun. Here we were in our dry dive baggies surrounded by well-dressed, scrubbed and polished people. Expect to pay more for food and drink here than in Dahab but the selection of fantastic restaurants on the beach and the exquisite food more than compensate for the extra cost. If I told you a chateaubriand for two with drink came to £20 would you believe me? The diving here is a totally different experience to the chilled out laid-back experience of Dahab. A typical morning here sees the Red Sea Diving College putting a 100 divers into the water…yes a 100 and the 20 or so dive boats leaving the jetty at once is a fantastic sight. Add to these day boats the liveaboards that cruise the area and you can see the dive sites get pretty busy. So anyway we’ve spent enough time dry and onshore how about we climb aboard what will be our boat for the week and head out for a days diving. The boat, Seastar 1, has a rear lower wet area where we store our gear and tanks and can kit up before entering the water. There is a cabin on this deck where we eat l
              unch and upstairs is a big sun deck to relax and catch a tan. Mohammad, our Captain, steers from up here and points out interesting stuff. Our guides Al, a padi instructor and tech diving nutter, and Emma, a Dive master will look after us this week. So today we are staying local so we can run check out dives for those who have just flown out and make sure everyone is correctly weighted. Ras Caty Located just south of Na’ama bay this is a wall Coral and it is here we notice the first difference from Dahab …. The fish are so much bigger. Entering the water we descend to 22 metres and swim along the wall when from the blue a turtle powers past and my god do they go, either that or this one was a racing turtle. For many of us this is our first glimpse of a turtle and we are seriously impressed. We continue to swim a loop ascending slowly over the coral seeing Giant Puffer and the biggest goatfish I have seen. The sea here is so clear it is easy after an hour of swimming to find our mooring line and ascend. All talk once back on the deck is of the racing Turtle. One dive = one turtle After a spectacular lunch on the boat of roast chicken, pasta, potatoes, and several different salads we arrive at our next dive site for the day. Middle Garden As with many dives this week Middle Garden is a drift dive, meaning the boat does not moor but drops us off and cruises back to pick us up at a different location. The coral here is good but it is the fish that make this dive Clown fish, Glass Fish, Puffers, and best of all a Napoleon Wrasse asleep under a rock whose head was a metre high. Apparently he is well known in the area and is just over 2.5metres long. As we swim over the next coral spur a turtle lazily flaps from the bottom to come and say hi. Swimming round and through our group this massive turtle obviously gets bored so to have some fun swims above our dive master and …
              230; dumps!!! Have you ever seen 6 divers killing themselves with laughter? not a pretty sight! 2 Dives = 2 Turtles All too soon this dive is over too and we surface to be picked up by the boat. The crew, being wonderful, brings round biscuits to go with our cokes and we head back in to shore. I should say at this point that on the boat you pay the crew 25 Egyptian pounds per person (£5) and this gives you soft drinks all day, just help yourself, and lunch on board which is some of the best food we had in Egypt. After a pleasant meal on the beach and the aforementioned chateaubriand we need some sleep so head back to the college for an early night. For day two we head to the reefs off Tiran. There are three reefs in line right in the middle of the shipping channels into the Gulf of Aquaba between mainland Egypt and the island of Tiran. This means that strong currents are prevalent in this area and things can get quite exciting (more later). Tiran itself is an island owned by Saudi Arabia but handed to the Egyptian government for military purposes. Nobody is allowed on this island and as it is heavily mined it is not a good idea to try. The reefs themselves are named after the English cartographers who discovered them Woodhouse, Jackson, and Thomas. Woodhouse Reef A wonderful drift dive we enter the water and allow the current to take us along the reef wall. Hordes of fusiliers rush past us. Puffers float seemingly effortlessly against the current and a plethora of smaller fish hurry around. I cannot believe how much life there is on this reef. As we rise over a saddle we have our third turtle, this one sitting quietly on the coral watching the world go by. Even when six gawping divers head past it doesn’t bat an eyelid. 3 Dives = 3 Turtles Today we are in for a treat. While we were diving the crew have caught a massive tuna so for lunch we have grilled tuna, tun
              a spaghetti, and baked spicy tuna with the usual potato dishes and salads. I have never tasted Tuna like this it is amazing. Jackson Reef A reef full of life but with a dangerous current as we are to find out later in the week but for today we descend to 25 metres and swim into the current. This is really hard work and after 20 minutes we are tiring but we have done enough to reach our goal, we are in what I can only describe as a “blizzard of fish” (Thanks to Al our guide fro that description). Thousands of fusiliers, angelfish, anemone fish, sergeant fish and wrasse flash round us, further out barracuda prowl and trevally swoop. It is totally amazing. But as we get to the edge of the reef we run the risk of a current in the opposite direction spitting us over the reef and into the shipping lane. Getting low on air we stop finning and allow the current to take us back along the reef but we get swept a little too far and the current tries to spit us out the other end. Finning hard we abort the dive and surface to be hauled back on board exhausted but excited by the adventure of such currents and so many fish. Oh did I mention we saw another turtle! 4 Dives = 4 Turtles. Tired we gratefully accept the sweet cake offered by the crew as we head back to shore. Normally we would have done a third dive but everyone is too exhausted. Day three sees a 6am start for the journey that takes us south, heading for the Dunraven, a wreck of a steam sail ship sunk in 1824 after burning on the surface for 12 hours. On the way down we stop at Shark / Yolanda reef for a dive. Shark / Yolanda Reef This is really one big reef but the Coral in the middle is lower than the outer pinnacles causing a current. Yolanda reef is so named after the Yolanda that sunk here depositing its cargo of bathroom furniture on the seabed. We descend quickly along the wall of shark reef, the water here being sl
              ightly darker and the massive barracuda patrolling give this reef a slightly spooky feel. We follow shark reef from anemone city, so named because of the sheer volume of beautiful anemones here, round towards Yolanda reef. Ascending from 28metres we spot a moray retreating back into its hole and then finally we see the mast that signposts the Yolanda. Low on air we fin round to see a seabed covered in toilets it is the strangest sight! We need to ascend now so swim up close to the reef to be collected by the boat. Dunraven Rounding the southern tip of Egypt we enter the Gulf of Suez and a short journey sees us mooring above the Dunraven. We descend the line to 28metres in beautiful clear water and can see the artificial reef created by the upturned hull of the Dunraven in spectacular detail. At depth colours tend to dull but here the vivid reds, greens, and blues of the coral seem to glow. Dropping below the stern we swim into the ship and forward under the boiler admiring the massive drive shaft and taking care to avoid the lionfish, we exit near the bow of the ship over two massive scorpion fish. Swimming back to the stern we enter again in the same place and this time swim over the boiler through a cloud of glassfish before exiting in the same place. The silence inside the hull gives the impression of being alone, despite another 5 divers behind you. Fish hang suspended watching us pass in the darkness. The brightness of the water on exit is such a sharp contrast to being inside the hull. Having been so deep for a while we are within 5 minutes of reaching our decompression limit so ascend and swim the length of the ship above the reef admiring the many soft and hard corals that have made this their home. With plenty of air we head across to the nearby reef over the top of a crocodile fish so big it could have been an actual crocodile. Eventually though it is time to surface and it is
              reluctantly we leave this beautiful site. Heading back we are still early so decide on a third dive. Jackfish Alley This is a nice shallow dive that has something for everyone. We exit the boat and drop 5metres to a cave entrance in the rock. We swim into this and left exiting at 6metres. After a short ascent to 4metres we enter another cave and wriggle into a small room where light filters down through the rock above creating a spectacular light show. We exit down a short chimney finning gently out at 9metres over beautiful coral and there layed on a pinnacle is a 2metre long maroon coloured Moray. Giving him a wide berth we swim over brain corals and blue spotted rays before following the sandy road along the reef bottom. Here we get our most spectacular sight a 2metre long white tip reef shark basking on the shallow bottom. Seeing us the shark decides to show us his good side and almost puts on a show; swimming effortlessly towards us he turns at the last minute with a flick of his powerful tail. Languidly circling the reef he gives us another close up settling briefly on the bottom as though receiving applause before disappearing into the blue. This is one dive we did not want to end. Thursday we get a lay in until 8am when we head back to Tiran. Thomas Reef This is probably the biggest of the three reefs and we descend allowing the current to take us along the reef. Swimming away slightly we pass over a canyon cut deep into the seabed where the bubbles from deep technical divers can be seen exiting up through the rock. This reef is teeming with life and we spot blue spotted rays, unicorn fish, barracuda, fusiliers and a school of tuna. We even get a starfish. The sunlight filtering through the water gives a marked contrast of colour. Near to the reef the water is almost clear but looking away into the vast depths the water darkens leacing you wondering what c
              reatures are out there. A lunch of fried chicken and rice sees us heading back to Jackson reef for another visit to the aquarium. This time things do not go according to plan! Jackson Reef 2 We descend and swim against a very mild current towards the aquarium. My buddy and I remain about 5metres above the group due to our no decompression requirements. We spot our 5th Turtle as well as blue spotted rays, cornet fish and triggerfish. Then we spot the shark. We follow the shark into the aquarium when a current from nowhere picks us up and onto the reef. Those in front are spat over the reef while the rest fin like mad to try and swim out of it. I watch my buddy ahead of me kicking hard and see the gap between us widen as she makes progress, I am further into the current and am not making headway. I dump all my air from my BCD and lay on the coral to get my breath back, concerned that she will turn round and come to try and get me. Being negatively buoyant works and I begin to make progress against this force. I gain on two divers and check they are ok when a current hits us the other way. Then changes again, it must be like being inside a washing machine. After what seems like an age my buddy gets out of the current then the next diver. I and two more divers join them utterly exhausted and look for the rest of the group. Of these there is no sign and we need to raise the alarm. I check that everyone has enough air and we ascend to undertake our safety stop while we swim back to the boat. Luckily on this part of the reef the current is with us and we make record time back to the boat. Surfacing we gain the crews attention, ever diligent they have already seen the guys who were swept away as they popped over the top of the coral and into the shipping lane and one of the other boats moored nearer is already on it way to collect them. Back on board exhausted but with adrenaline coursing through
              us we go over the dive, amazed at how quickly the currents can change and with such force. Our missing divers, including the dive master, are returned to us. Apparently they had a great ride and enjoyed the current while we all worked hard to struggle against it! All are ok and we look back on it in the Camel bar as a great adventure. Our final days diving and we have saved the best till last a trip to the Thistlegorm. The Thistlegorm was a Second World War supply ship moored at what was thought to be a safe mooring in the Gulf of Suez when German bombers returning to Crete from a failed mission spotted her. Unable to get more than one shot off she was hit on her fifth hold, just behind the bridge, that held ammunition ripping her deck back and throwing a steam locomotive that was stored on deck into the sea several metres away. She sank almost immediately and settled upright on the bottom. The time of her sinking recorded as 0130hrs 6th October 1941 Thistlegorm We leave dock at 0330, and here is some advice grab the downstairs cabin and get some sleep in the warm. We did and were soon joined by those who headed for the sun deck! Arriving at the site at 0830 there are already a number of boats moored and the sea has a swell of about 3 feet. Al jumps off to tie the first line then again to tie the second. By now there are really too many dive boats here and our boat is hit by another. Luckily there is not too much damage and we decide to dive. Jumping off the back we grab the line and descend as fast as possible the current below the surface pulling us horizontal. At the ship all is calm and we swim over the bomb blast area and round the stern, one anti aircraft gun still in the locked position, testimony to how quickly the bombing happened. The second gun hangs barrel pointing at the seabed. We marvel at the size of the brass propeller, each one of the wings is about 3metres
              long. A Churchill tank lies on its side as we swim towards the bow and the steam engine can be seen a little further away on the seabed. The contrast of these large man made objects against the corals and fish is strangely unsettling. Popping up over the bow the size of this ship is awesome. 4 Train wagons stand on the fore deck and the bridge rises towards the surface, you can almost imagine this ship under power cutting gracefully through the waves. We swim round under the bridge, seeing how as the deck slowly corrodes the train wagons are tilting further into the ship, and back down the port side of the ship to ascend the line. A full safety stop and a quick exit from the water, difficult in this swell. By now the swell on the surface is 4 feet and things are getting dangerous. We decide on a shorter interval before doing the next dive. I change from air to nitrox to give me longer on the bottom and we head back down the line. Swimming over the bomb blast we drop into hold 3 and swim through the now empty hold into the lower half of hold 2. This contains rows of trucks with motorcycles in the back, racks of Lee Enfield rifles, and jeeps. A full circuit takes us back to hold 3 and we rise to enter the upper level of hold 2 here we have crates of uniforms, small arms ammunition and more motorcycles. Even aircraft wings lay in disarray. We exit and swim forward seeing a solitary boot lying in the debris reminds us that this is a war grave. We swim into the captain’s cabin and wriggle down through a hatch into what were the kitchens. Down through another trapdoor and we enter the forward hold, here Bren gun carriers line into the darkness our torch beams send out eerie rays but cannot penetrate the murky depths how scary it must have been to try and exit this ship in the middle of the night with explosions and water rushing in. With not much time left we ascend out of the hold and back t
              o the line. This time we need an 8-minute safety stop just to be sure we are ok having dived right up to our no decompression limit. Back on board the sea is much rougher, the boat tossing on the waves. The Dive master descends to untie the lines and suddenly our anchor chain snaps. Buffeted by the wind and the waves we drag him back on board. Our crew eventually recovers the anchor and serves a hot lunch. It is only 1430 but we are all shattered and exulted to have dived the Thistlegorm. We were very lucky on this dive to have Al as our dive master. He has dived this wreck hundreds of times after being one of the first people to dive the rediscovered wreck in 1991. His route shows covers the maximum area within the ship and keeps within the recreational dive planning limits. On a personal note this was the best dive ever for me as this boat was due to resupply my Grandfathers regiment with ammunition before they went back into action in the fight for Tobruk. My Grandfather was never to return from the Middle East. A long trip home gave us the opportunity to play with a school of Dolphins who chased our boat and put on a fantastic show for us. Well another weeks diving over so we retreat to the Camel bar and for the first time in two weeks we can afford to have a hangover. So with the rest of the guys from the boat we totally over indulge on Sakara beer and monkey nut fights. What an end to a fantastic adventure. Info one Red Sea Diving College can be found at: www.redseacollege.com Again we booked with Travelmood speak to Carl or Francis www.travelmood.com

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              • Dahab / Sporting Venue / 1 Reading / 46 Ratings
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                04.12.2001 17:26
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                Are you bored with winter, tired of the long dark nights then I have the perfect place for you! A five hour flight from Gatwick takes you to Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt, the gateway to the amazing diving experiences the Red Sea has to offer, but more about Sharm later, what you need is to chill out and lose some of that work related stress so jump on the bus and head across the mountains of the Sinai to Dahab. Dahab is nothing more than an expanded Bedouin camel camp that is fast becoming a seriously popular resort boasting a range of accommodation from basic camps at 5 Egyptian pounds per night (a pound in real money) to the luxury of the Hilton. There is a good range of restaurants from Sharks, the biggest dinner you can eat for about £2 to La Petita a lovely Italian where dinner for two will cost about £6. But we’re not here to talk about resorts and hotels lets get to diving. Allow me to introduce Reef 2000 Dive Club based just north of Dahab attached to the Bedouin Moon hotel. What a location for a Dive Club, situated right on the beach with spectacular views across the Gulf of Aquaba to the mountains of Saudi Arabia. Reef 2000 is a British owned and PADI registered dive club run by Rochelle and David, unfortunately I did not get to meet these guys as they were off having a baby…Hope everything went well guys. Reef offers everything for the diver or beginner. From PADI Open Water through to specialty courses as well as offering guided dives for experienced divers. Equipment is available for hire from torches for night dives, to full kit for those who cannot be bothered to use their luggage allowance on their dive gear. Getting our kit is where we meet Art, who runs the counter, fierce as you like be nice to her, and a cracking dive master. Now all the diving here is jeep based so it’s a case of all mucking in to load up the tanks, the gear, spares, first aid kit, and oxygen, then we mount up and
                head off to our dive sites for the day, either North or South depending on winds and tides. As we’re off diving let me introduce you to the rest of the Dive masters, as you don’t want to be diving with strangers do you? First we have Warren, your typically laid back blonde haired Aussie dive guy, very relaxed and determined to spot everything that Matt sees. Matt in the water is everywhere and has the uncanny ability to spot a 2cm sea slug at 100 metres. Regis, known as Regi, is a cool guide and just doesn’t seem to breathe underwater, and last but not least Caroline so tiny her weight belt is no more than a fashion accessory. Oh, and not forgetting Ahmed who looks after the whole lot, alas we never did get him out of bed early enough to dive with him but he cooks a mean dinner to make up for it. There are other instructors and guides but these are the crew we got to know. So lets get onto the important stuff the dives, first we’ll head south towards the Southern oasis: The Caves So named as there are natural caverns in the coral table providing some spectacular light effects under the water. Here as we are about to enter a couple of Lionfish glide past. Once safely out of the way we enter and descend to a max depth of 21m swimming slowly along the Coral wall we see Unicorn fish, Snapper, Giant Puffers and the glorious coral. Visibility is fantastic at over 25 metres. Exiting proves to be more fun, with a slight swell we basically act like penguins and ride the surf back onto the shore. After a relaxing lunch in the hoocha on the beach we head a little further south to the three pools: Three Pools Our second dive today takes us to the three pools. These are three interlinking lagoons within the coral table. Swimming through these at a depth of 2 metres we exit and head left along the coral wall. The coral here is fabulous with a massive variety of smaller fish we even
                get to see a Parrotfish here. The water here is so clear and warm we dive to 17 metres and work our way shallower as we move along the wall. Finally we head back through the 3 pools and exit. After that wonderfully relaxing first day it is time to load the jeep and head back to write up our logs and partake of a couple of Egyptian beers. But you don’t want to go to bed yet, how about a night dive? Go on you know you want to. Octopus Gardens After kitting up at the center we take the jeep into town and arrive at the Lighthouse, this is the confined water training area yet a fantastic dive in its own right. But tonight rather than heading round the lighthouse, we swim right, to Octopus gardens but first some fun. We descend to about 6 metres and sitting on the bottom turn out our torches then flap our hands like mad, the phosphorescent in the water makes it look like glitter as your hand moves through the water, totally amazing. We swim deeper to around 12 meters over a nice sandy bottom interspersed with turtle grass. Here the night creatures are busy feeding, on our left we have a Moray looking from its hole and there asleep is a Giant Puffer. Clarinet fish drift by and what’s that? Red Sea walkers. But all too soon our dive is over and it is time to head back. After cleaning our kit its time to grab a bite to eat and an early night ready for more dive action tomorrow. Day two dawns bright and hot not a cloud in the sky and its time to head to what is probably my favourite dive site here in Dahab. Today we are heading north: The Canyon The Canyon is spectacular there is no other way to describe it. Entering the water from the shore we swim round the reef and head towards the fish bowl, a natural hollow coral full of glassfish. We swim into this on one side and spend a few minutes playing with the glassfish before dropping out the bottom into the canyon. As we exit headfirst the canyon opens below us dropping to around 60 metres the view is spectacular. This is just like flying. We descend to 30 metres and spend some time swimming along the canyon before ascending through a crack in the rock overhead. Still amazed by the totally awesome view we swim over beautiful corals and a plethora of fish, Unicorn fish, Parrotfish, Turkey fish, Puffers you just do not know where to look next. This 46minute dive flashes past and all too soon it is time to head back to the shore and some lunch. After a suitable break telling tall diving stories involving great white pike or in the case of the Dive Masters mad triggerfish we head for dive number two Rick's Reef This is a nice shallow drift dive allowing the current to gently float us along the coral wall, the scenery is wonderful and we relax and spot the unusual fish in the area. Moses sole and Crocodile fish lay on the bottom camouflaged with sand. A Pepper Moray ventures from its hole. Looking away from the reef we see Junior Barracuda swimming past and with Emperor fish, Wrasse and even a Triggerfish there is so much to see. But tonight we take it easy, as tomorrow is the Blue Hole. The Blue hole has claimed the lives of a number of divers over the years and it is spooky on arrival to see the plaques on the mountainside in their memory. A natural hole in the coral table the Blue hole drops to 100s of metres deep with an arch into the Coral at around 65 metres and a 15metre swim through to the outer Coral wall. Not something to be tried unless diving on tri-mix gases. To start our day we will descend the Bells and enter the Blue Hole: The Bells This is a chimney about 1.5 metres wide with an arch at the bottom. The most fun way to descend is to dump all the air from your BCD and rocket headfirst down this 30metre drop exiting under the arch to look down into oblivion. The Coral wall
                drops away as far as you can see and the sea is so blue you can get a real vertigo rush here! We swim right from the bells along the outer wall of the Blue Hole feeling totally insignificant against this massive coral wall. Finally we head over a saddle in the coral into the Blue Hole. Swimming round the inner coral to exit. I cannot describe the overwhelming feeling on exiting the bells I guess the nearest comparison must be how an astronaut feels when he walks outside the shuttle. The Blue Hole This time we enter the Blue Hole directly and swim round the inner wall to exit over the saddle. We head right away from the Bells descending to 20 metres. The coral on the outer wall is much better than on the inner and here we see our first ray, a Torpedo Ray, swimming lazily past. Day three takes us south again, by now thoroughly chilled out and putting together a list of fish we want to see. Um Sid Here we descend to 30 metres in warm crystal clear waters. Swimming lazily along the Coral admiring the wildlife. As well as the usual fish found around Corals we spot some large Trevally, a Peacock Grouper and a Lizardfish. It is here looking away from the reef that a dark shadow glides into view out in the Blue. By the time I attract my buddy’s attention it has gone. Imagine our disappointment on surfacing that the other group saw an octopus…..some harsh demands are made of our dive master for an octopus. There is also rather a lot of mickey taking regarding the shadow fish as it becomes known and Huddro is renamed “The Shadow” Golden Blocks Dive two takes us to Golden blocks, three rocks that seem to glow gold in the afternoon sun. We swim over beautiful corals the colours amazing. A Pepper Moray watches us swim past as cleaner shrimp wander the reef. Scorpion fish sit in wait for suitable prey and shoals of Mackerel, Trevally, and Grouper meander past. A ye
                llow Boxfish followed by a Triggerfish, there is so much to see. Suddenly Warren is heading for the reef and there it is, our very own octopus walking slowly up the coral. What a sight one of our group even manages to dance underwater, you know who you are!!! The day definitely complete after the Octopus we thoroughly deserve a beer. After a very pleasant evening of dinner and beer day four sees us heading north again: Coral Garden A gentle swim through a lagoon inhabited with Lion Fish and a slow wall dive takes us along the most beautiful coral. The colouring is amazing and the life on the reef both varied and plentiful. This dive is so relaxing we meander along gently ascending to finally exit via the lagoon. Eel Garden The tide is right, there is very little wind, and almost no swell. Ideal conditions for Eel Garden. We enter through a small pool again home to a number of Lionfish and exit left, descending over a gently sloping wall. As we progress and the bottom becomes sandier it looks like we are swimming over long grass, these are in fact Garden Eels reaching from the holes to feed. The sight is amazing as far as you can see these eels stand swaying in the gentle current. As we continue we come across more hard and soft coral with beautiful Angelfish, Puffers, Unicorn fish and even a Moray. The scenery here is spectacular and this has to be one of the most beautiful dives of the week. Day five sees us heading back to the Canyon this time to swim the dive in reverse. We enter the water and swim out over the coral to drop into the main entrance of the Canyon. At the bottom we watch as our Caroline our Dive Master reaches out her hand and waves it around (she later explains that apparently you can still feel the hot spring that formed the Canyon). We ascend up through the fish bowl and as we all still have plenty of air swim away from our exit point. Heading to the Coral wall we are pic
                ked up by a current and gently drift along the wall, with no need to even fin, we are delivered back to our exit. The afternoon sees us descending the Bells and heading to the Blue hole when suddenly my buddy starts leaping about she has just spotted her first Spotted Ray, and how beautiful it is, a vivid blue with white spots. Feeling energetic we decide to take a night dive and so head off to the Lighthouse again, but this time we leave Octopus Garden and actually explore the Lighthouse site. The Lighthouse We once again descend and play with the torches off, then we head out along the coral. Here we see anemones and fan corals open to feed. Fish asleep as the nocturnal predators feed. A sea snake feeds on the bottom as Feather stars reach for nourishment. The highlight of this dive is a bright red Frogfish that is actually swimming, general these are found sitting on Red Coral for camouflage. Alas this week has passed all too quickly and our final day sees us heading south once again. Glasshouse Pinnacle This is a Coral pinnacle located at 29 metres and teaming with life. After a short swim we spend some time hovering watching the hordes of Glassfish, anemones, Angelfish, and Butterfly fish. Examining the pinnacle closely we find the tiniest shrimp. We ascend over the pinnacle and follow the gentle slope towards the shore and it is here we see massive Barracuda. A slight current carries us inshore and to our exit. Our final Dahab dive sees us back at Three Pools; we swim through the pools and head straight on from the exit. The actual pools are very murky this time with visibility just like England but on exit the water is perfectly clear. We follow the bottom as it slopes away and find the biggest Cabbage corals I have ever seen and so many of them. It is a spectacular sight these massive green corals are amazing. Alas, it is time to say goodbye after a br
                illiant week diving. It is hard to leave our friends, both old and new and head to Sharm, but a whole new diving adventure waits. Diving with Reef is spectacular, the Corals are amazing and the guides know exactly where to look to show you the best fish. Make sure you take proof of your diving qualifications and if you haven’t dived for a while Reef will insist you undergo a check out dive. I thoroughly recommend Reef for their safety, their knowledge, and the fact that above all they are great fun. Enjoy your diving. www.reef2000.org Packages can be booked from Travelmood www.travelmood.com or call 08705 001002 and ask for Carl (who learnt to dive with Reef while we were there) or Francis

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                  25.10.2001 18:26
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                  What do you look for when buying a Dive mask? For me it was a comfortable fit, a good seal, and low internal volume. Mind you doing the nose test in the middle of a crowded shop did make me feel a bit stupid! For those of you who are non-divers and looking to buy your first mask let me explain the nose test. Place your chosen mask onto your face but do not put the strap round your head. Inhale through your nose and let go of the mask with your hands. If the seal is correct the mask will remain on your face. This basically means it will not fill with water every time you submerge. The reason we consider the internal volume of the mask is that in the event that the mask does fill with water the way to clear it is to exhale thorough your nose forcing water out of the lower edge of the skirt. So a lower volume means less water to shift and the less water the easier it is to clear the mask. Allow me to explain the construction of a dive mask. A mask is made up of four basic components: The frame Generally constructed from rigid plastic that not only holds the lens in place but also provides the outer shape of the skirt The Skirt This is the soft part of the mask that provides the seal to your face and keeps the water out. This used to be made from rubber but most manufacturers now use a silicon product, as silicon has proved more resistant to corrosion from seawater, direct sunlight, and any other abuse from divers! The Lens The lens can be either a single glass lens or two individual lenses. Preference is down to individual choice but if you want to use corrective lenses in your mask you will need to choose a mask with twin lenses. I have used both and do not notice and difference in vision. The Strap This does exactly what you would think and holds the mask onto your head. Now we have endless fun watching novice divers tightening their straps so the skirt digs into their
                  face.……. the resulting red outline can remain for hours!! You don’t need to over tighten the strap, as external water pressure will push the mask onto your face as you dive helping to create a good seal. Once attached to your face you look down and if lucky you can see the tips of your fins but to find any of the numerous gauges, instruments, and other dive paraphernalia attached to your BCD at chest height it was just a case of feeling for what you want but…… A revolution has taken place in the mask-manufacturing world the: Cressi Big Eyes. Finally after years of not being able to see our feet Cressi have bought out a mask that not only gives great peripheral vision but also gives great downwards vision as well. This means with this mask you can now see your air gauge, your second stage, and anything clipped to the D rings on your BCD. At first glance the Cressi does look very different to other masks on the market. The main factor being elongated lenses that finish almost half way down your cheeks. I was very self-conscious putting this mask on for the first time and noticed other divers looking, what was nice was that most other divers wanted to try it! These lenses allow fantastic peripheral vision along with good downward vision. That means I can now see where everything is. Now you would think that bigger lenses equal greater internal volume, but Cressi have thought of this too, and have tilted the lenses at an angle of 18 degrees so at the top of the mask the lens is about the same distance from your face as a standard mask but at the bottom the lenses almost touch your cheeks which really reduces the internal volume. At my last visit to Stoney Cove I flooded the mask and found it extremely easy to clear. The improved vision due to the tilt is not limited to just finding your gauges easily but also means when descending down a line you have a greater field of vision below
                  you, very important when watching trainee divers who are ascending as you descend! A concern was the loss of upward vision but if anything I have found this mask just as good as any other for this. The top of the mask acts as a kind of sun visor when on the surface giving a little shade to your eyes. The next innovative design on this mask is the skirt. Cressi have finished the skirt with a double edge this gives, in effect, two contacts with the face providing a much better seal than a standard mask. One word of warning the skirt on this mask is very soft and over-tightening the strap means the skirt tends to collapse resulting in a mask full of water. As I mentioned before, though, the skirt is so good that a relatively loose fit still provides a great seal. As with all good quality masks the strap incorporates a spreader at the back giving a nice wide area in contact with your head rather than a narrow strap that can feel uncomfortable. The spreader also prevents the strap from twisting when placing it over your head. This improved vision of this mask is not apparent when looking at distant objects but up close is far superior to any previous mask I have tried. Cressi claim an all round increase of 30% in a divers field of vision and I would have to agree with this. To suit all styles the Cressi Big Eyes comes with a blue or yellow frame and a clear or black skirt and is a one size fits all mask. Overall the mask is very comfortable, provides good vision, a good watertight seal, and a very low volume. For those who need corrective lenses these are available. I would recommend this mask to everyone. I would also recommend shopping around. Prices range from RRP of £69 to £29.99. I purchased mine from Divemaster Scuba Ltd for £29.99 and as there were three of us buying masks they offered a reduction in posting costs. Divemaster can be contacted on 0870 900 7707 or 01246 470707 My recommend
                  ation for corrective lenses is Dive Optrix and lenses cost £34 per pair. To order or for further information call DCM Sales on 0208 399 7049 The full range of Cressi products can be found at http://www.cressi-sub.it/uk/

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                    12.10.2001 16:59
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                    Let me take you back a month or so. Driving my girlfriends car, I join a very straight road, with fields either side, linking Buckhurst Hill and Chigwell. The traffic is moving at a brisk pace and I maintain that speed. Parked at the side of the road is a little red Citroen van and as we pass Lordpercy informs me there is a mini Gatso on a tripod in front of it … Bugger! Now let me bring you forward a couple of weeks, I wake up on a cold Monday to find a nice letter from those friendly chaps in the Essex Police force stating that I have been photographed at 45mph in a 30mph and what is worse in a Volvo!! May I state at this point that I do not condone speeding but I do object to cameras being used to raise revenue for the boys in blue especially on roads where the speed limit is too low for the road conditions. There is no way anyone can tell me an unmarked red van taking pictures of speeding cars reduces accidents, perhaps if it was sign posted then people would slow down but hey I am getting off the subject now. I decided that I did not want to become an unofficial source of revenue for Essex police and so thought it was time to look into some sort of detection equipment, if Essex police are not going to warn me of cameras I may as well warn myself. Overall the effect is better as I slow down well before any speed trap thus slowing other traffic and we have achieved the Government aim of reducing road speed and none of us drivers have been hit in the pocket! First I looked at Geodesy, by Morpheus, see Lordpercy’s review, but this only maintains a database of fixed permanent Gatso camera sites and lets face it most people know where all the fixed cameras are in their local area. What I wanted was something that would identify the mobile Gatso cameras, and the hand held Laser speed detectors. Discussing this at work I realised I knew nothing about this subject then a good friend offered to lend me his Rad
                    io Shack model 22-1654 to see how I got on and a little research later I was fast becoming an expert on this technology. Now, to tell you about this, and pass on some relevant information so you can make a considered opinion on detectors. I need to explain some basic details on how radar and laser detection equipment works so a little lesson: Radar Technology The name Radar is derived from the term radio detecting and ranging. It is a method of scanning by means of high frequency radio waves. The radio waves are transmitted out in a cone shape and reflect back from objects in their path. The reflected beam gives information on the speed and direction of the target vehicle. Civilian radar frequencies were established at the end of the Second World War in the USA and the frequencies adopted by nearly all the other countries in the world. The government originally used a frequency range called X band (10.525 Ghz +/- 50 Mhz and 24.150 Ghz+/- 100 Mhz), introduced in the 60’s but this is now commonly used in such things as automatic shop doors and thus can cause your detector to beep constantly. The next switch was to the lower frequency K band (24.150 GHz+/-100Mhz Frequency Range 24.050-24.250 GHz), in the 70’s as this was more difficult to detect. Ka band, (33.4GHz-36GHz. +/- 100Mhz), was introduced in Europe in the 80’s and is in widespread use throughout Europe it was recently introduced to the UK and is the common source of frequency for Gatso cameras. The latest frequency is Ku, (10.70 - 12.75 GHz. +/ - 100Mhz) utilised in mini-Gatso cameras and very difficult to detect due to the low power employed by the actual cameras. There are two types of radar unit: a permanent broadcast where a constant signal is transmitted and the reflected waves analysed (no longer very common as too easy to detect) and instant ON (Pulse radar). Pulse radar transmits only after the operator has sel
                    ected a target, and only long enough to get a speed-reading, for example a Gatso speed camera. This makes pulse difficult to detect. The one down side to radar is that the beams bounce off of static objects in a number of directions in an effect called radar reflection. It is therefore possible to detect these waves even before you have turned a corner! And now there is a new threat, the new kid on the block so to speak, Laser detection! Laser Technology Laser stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. It transmits electromagnetic radiation a little like your own microwave. The major difference being that light has a much higher frequency than a microwave. The light beam from the laser is very thin at a range of 1000m it is only 3 metres wide compared to the similar radar beam that is minute! The biggest detection problem is that it takes only 0.3 to 0.7 seconds to acquire and register a target at an operational range of 800 metres. Laser is used in Lidar type detectors (Lidar meaning Light Detection and Ranging). Now as you can see trying to detect a pulse of laser is pretty difficult. Basics for a detector Well we have seen that in order to counter all threats we need a detector that will cover X band, K band and the variations, and detect Laser. We also need to be able to switch off or reduce the sensitivity of X band in order that we do not get false alarms every time we drive past Boots and the doors open. Most 5-band (detects all the above frequencies and Laser) detectors are basically the same. They have a radar sensor, and a visual warning. Some even have audible alarms. All are mounted facing forward and passively (they do not transmit any signal, a radio licence is required for a transmitter) receive signals. The major difference between them is their range and filtering. Some have a good range but do not filter that effectively
                    , some are good at both and some neither. One important piece of advice I can give is do not buy a 4 band as these will not find the new Ku band and therefore not detect mini Gatso cameras, and ensure that whatever detector you buy it will detect Laser. Radar Detector in practise Radio Shack 22-1654 (Does not have Ku) Appearance This little black box smaller than my palmtop (L12cm, W7.5cm, H3cm, all taken from the maximum points) has the receiver at one end, an LCD display at the other, with a volume adjustment to one side, the plug on the other and 3 function buttons giving a very discreet look. How it works The detector sits on the dashboard or clips to the sun visor with the receiver pointing forward. Receiving power from your cigarette lighter when it detects either radar or laser it alerts with a tone and visual signal. This particular detector has built in suppression to prevent false alarms caused by other forms of radar transmitter such as jamming devices without reducing its sensitivity to actual speed detection radar signals. Turn it on and the radar goes though a self-test; giving a tone and lights for each band and signal strength indication. Next it is necessary to select the mode: Highway, maximum sensitivity across all bands, or City, the detector needs to receive a much stronger x band signal than say a door opener would give off before it activates. Ok time for the test. Drive one We travel along a road I know to have a Gatso. I can see the camera and still nothing closer I slow down and pass through the camera at 30mph the detector beeps as we go past. About 200 metres before the next camera the display lights under K band and the detector starts to chirp. By the time we reach the camera the tone is almost constant and then slowly fades as we pass the Gatso. On my return home it finally clicks. Being the only car on the roa
                    d at the first camera, no signal had been transmitted by the Gatso. I prove this again on my second drive. Drive two The first camera does not show up on the detector until we are level. Rounding a bend though, at 50mph on a 50 limit the detector lights up and the alarm sounds. I slow to just under 50mph and about 500metres down the road, with a constant tone in my ear, is Mr Plod in a fluorescent jacket randomly bouncing his laser off passing vehicles (by the way according to legislation a police Officer can only use an instrument to verify his first impression that a vehicle was speeding, using a Laser gun indiscriminately is a breach of this legislation). (Do you know how many miles I had to drive to find one of these speed traps?) Drive three A nice Motorway at 70mph we approach a sweeping right hand curve and I know there is a camera located half way along it. Increasing to 80mph the Radio Shack detector beeps with plenty of time to slow down to 70mph safely and pass the camera. I try this at 90mph and again have plenty of time to slow down before passing the camera at 70mph. At night time switch this to dark mode and the visual display dims or turns off although to be honest I did not find the small flashing lights a distraction. The mute button allows the audible warning to be turned off relying only on the visual warning. I would not recommend this, as you are likely to be watching the display rather than the road. I have since carried this in my vehicle and found that apart from the x band detecting every set of traffic lights and every automatically opening door that the detector does work all be it in a limited way. Unfortunately this is due to the detector being designed for the US market where the Police utilise different frequencies to ours. Conclusion on the practise Overall a good detector but originally built for the American market it will not pick up mini Gatso whic
                    h are the biggest threat to the driver at this time, being more popular than the Lidar detectors, particularly in Essex. The tone can become annoying and I did suffer with a few false alarms although not enough to make me ignore the tone. Although I have to state at this point that Lord Percy road tested this as well and had very little success apart from being able to identify traffic lights! I will be investing in a detector but the price range from around £100 to £500 leads you to ask what is good and what is not, bearing in mind that possibly in a year or two it will be necessary to purchase a more modern unit as new speed detection systems such as SVDD are introduced. My recommendation would be to buy the detector that will suit your biggest threat and spend as little as you can in doing so. My recommendations based on talking to lots of people who have used them and reading lots of test articles are: At the cheaper end of the market the Snooper 815 at £254 (inc VAT) from www.snooper.co.uk a good range but can be prone to false alarms in town. Next comes the Snooper S5 at £349 (inc VAT) again from the above web site. This gives much better filtering than the 815 and better range. My final recommendation, for those who cannot afford to be caught and therefore are willing to invest a little more, the Bel Euro 550 at £399 (inc VAT) is reputed to be the ultimate in detector. With good range and excellent filtering no tester has failed to recommend this product. Available from www.beldirect.co.uk Personally I will order the Snooper 815. I have just got my first 3 points in 18 years of driving but as I do not do that many miles a year cannot justify the extra almost £200 fro the Bel product. Finally Remember the whole point is to drive safely and make sure you arrive at the end of your journey!

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                      13.08.2001 23:32
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                      Looking for adventure I dived (excuse the pun) into Sport Diver magazine and Diver Monthly to see where I could go to practise my new found diving skills. Imagine my disappointment on finding the wreck of my choice was 8 metres deeper than I was qualified to dive. Not a very happy bunny but all that changed when I discovered that I could complete an Advanced Open Water Course and then dive to see my wreck! The PADI Advanced Open Water course is designed to further enhance your diving skills to allow you to dive deeper and in a variety of scenarios by providing you with the theory and practical experience necessary. The only requirement for completing this course is that you have achieved the PADI Open Water qualification or equivalent. Dive Types The course itself is made up of five dives, two of which are compulsory dives and three of which you can pick from a number of different specialities. Each speciality dive is part of a course in itself and your dive for the advanced qualification counts as the first of the four dives that make up that speciality course. The compulsory dives are: Deep Dive, and Underwater Navigation The list for the optional dives is as follows: Altitude Diver For diving in lakes above 1000 feet Drift Diver For utilising currents to pull you along Dry Suit Diver Does what it says on the can… Multilevel Diver For planning dives that will encompass time at different depths Underwater Naturalist Introduces the underwater ecosystem Underwater Photography Guess what you learn here AWARE Fish Identification How to identify and report fish species as part of the PADI global commitment nature preservation Boat Diver Takes you through the differing procedures when using boat based diving Dive Propulsion Vehicle You learn to use those hand held James bond style mini submarines Night Diver Will give the chance to experience the totally different feeling encountered when diving at night Underwater Videograher Make movies of your dive And then there are the three we completed: Peak Performance buoyancy Search and Recovery Wreck Diver We were somewhat limited in our choice of optional dives by the dive site we were attending, as Stoney Cove (a purpose built inland dive site and totally separate op) does not have currents to allow drift dives nor the exotic varieties of fish to allow AWARE fish Identification so you need to check with your Dive School for the dives on offer. The Course After completing our required reading from the supplied Adventures in Diving book and logging the answers to the questions set in the knowledge reviews we were ready for our dives. We completed our course over one weekend starting with three dives on the Saturday and two on the Sunday. Although after taking four hours to drive to Stoney Cove (normally a journey of half that time) on Saturday there was some urgency to get all our gear on and get in the water Saturday Dive 1: Peak Performance Buoyancy Entering the water for this 40minute dive we start by ensuring we are correctly weighted to assist descent. We then descend and practise maintaining neutral buoyancy (remaining weightless so as to be able to hang suspended in the water). We complete a number of exercises then have all sorts of fun hanging upside down performing head over heels without touching ground well you get the idea. We spent a lot of time just hanging around!!! Oh god sorry for the puns. Saturday Dive 2: Underwater Navigation This dives teaches you how to use a compass and navigate underwater. Why do you want to navigate I hear you ask, well the sea is an awfully big place and imagine diving from a boat, swimming for an hour, then popping up anywhere….the odds on being back
                      at the boat are remote. So navigation teaches you a number of tricks for finding your way back to your point of entry from using a compass to navigate a square, to counting your kick cycles to calculate how far you have travelled, to using landmarks (I was going to put bottom marks there but sounded a little rude!) on the bottom to follow a path. It obviously worked as we then managed to swim off and after about 20 minutes arrive back at our exit point. Saturday Dive 3: Search and Recovery Be near water long enough and you are going to drop something in it, and as we know, what with currents, uneven bottoms, (no rude comments) and different bottom types, (look stop it I am talking about rock silt or sand) the odds on the object being directly below where we dropped it are remote. So this dive taught us how to find stuff, and it is really cool. Our instructor swam off and deposited a little blue rubber duck attached to 30 pounds of weight and we had to find it and bring it to the surface. Using our theory knowledge we commenced a circular sweep pattern and on the third sweep located the object. As it was too heavy to lift ourselves we had to attach a lift bag, inflate it and float the object to the surface. I am no good at knots on the surface try tying them 7 metres down in cold water! This has to be the most satisfying dive of the day. It was such a good feeling finding an object the size of a mobile phone in an area of about 100 square feet. So at the end of day one we packed up the gear and headed home tired but quietly satisfied and looking forward to the next day, and the “Big One”. Sunday Dive 1: Deep Dive (The Big One) Following the Open Water qualification I was authorised to dive to 18 metres but I wanted more. The Advanced Qualification allows diving to a maximum depth of 30 metres and this was it. Stoney Cove has a maximum depth of 36 metres so we had
                      to be careful to stay within the laid down recreational dive limit of 30 metres. As Stoney was a quarry there are a number of shelves that drop off to the next depth, but the big advantage is that the old road for the lorries to get to the bottom is still there so we decided to follow this slope down to our required depth. The other big issue to keep in mind is an effect called Nitrogen Narcosis. I will not go into a full explanation of the gases that make up air but suffice to say at a depth of around 24 metres some divers suffer narcosis caused by the narcotic effect of breathing the nitrogen component of air at greater than normal pressures leading to loss of judgment and motor skills. To assess this we had a simple task: on the surface we were given a number in hand signals, we repeated this number then added one and gave the total as a hand signal. This we would do on the bottom and see the reaction time difference! Descending down the road we passed 6 metres, no problem, water temperature still ok visibility still about 5 metres. At 20 metres the water is really cold, my hands started to hurt and visibility was only 3 metres. 29 metres, our final stop the water was freezing my fingers were going numb and I could only see about a metre. Still I managed to give the hand signals and watch as one of the guys obviously suffering narcosis took about 45 seconds to add 7 and 1 to make 8. Turning we began our ascent stopping and remaining neutrally buoyant at 5 metres for 3 minutes to allow any nitrogen build up to in our bodies to dispel to a level where we could safely surface. What a feeling! Diving that deep is totally amazing and I cannot wait to dive in clear waters with lots of wildlife and good visibility to enjoy the full effect. Sunday Dive 2: Wreck Dive After a good surface interval to ensure our nitrogen levels are safe we plan our final dive of the course. We are to descend to 20 metres to expl
                      ore the wreck of a tugboat sunk specifically for this purpose. We descend from the marker buoy using the line as our guide to drop us directly onto the stern. Descending to 26 metres we enjoy the view of fish swimming through the propeller before we make our way to the bows. Popping up over the bow we can put our heads into the old wheelhouse and watch the bubbles caused by our exhalations ripple on the underside of the roof as the pressure creates a surface 20 metres down. Moving back to the stern we peer into hatches and watch the escaping bubbles from qualified divers inside the wreck. Alas the instructors insurance does not allow unqualified divers to enter the wreck so we have to make do with swimming round and over it. Time as usual flies past and 37 minutes later we are again ascending to complete our safety stop and exit the water. Qualified I am now an Advanced Open Water diver and can dive to 30 metres with a buddy of equivalent or higher qualification. If I want to take an adventure course specialising in say wreck diving I have already completed the first of my required dives to complete that certification. Information Once again I completed this course with the guys at Scuba Zone, thanks go to Barry and Sam for another excellent weekend of diving. Their web site is shown below. The course itself cost approximately 200 pounds and includes all training materials, and equipment, except mask fins and snorkel. Stoney Cove is rated as the best inland European dive site and well worth a visit. It costs 9 pounds to dive for a day there. I hope this had given you a taste for the options available to you in diving. There are so many courses to choose from that there is something to suit everyone. www.scuba-zone.co.uk Stoney Cove, Stoney Stanton, Leicestershire, LE9 4DW Tel: 01455 273089 www.padi.com

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                      • Peugeot Speedfight / Motorcycle / 2 Readings / 37 Ratings
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                        03.08.2001 18:13
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                        A better ride I hear you say, what are you talking about Rob? Well alas despite accepting my order for the Piaggio Typhoon (see A Great Ride) the said Motorcycle dealer was unable to supply me with the scooter I wanted, and not wanting to commute by tube I was forced to look again. So I cancelled the order and went back to the drawing board. Lucky me what a total result because… I have just got a fabulous deal on a scooter that was originally totally out of my price range. As of Tuesday I am the proud owner of a Peugeot Speedfight2 and what a machine. The Peugeot is a 100cc, although also available in 50cc form, 2-stroke engine as opposed to the 125cc that I was looking for, and initially I was worried that the acceleration would suffer. The designers at Peugeot had already thought of this and in order to beat the competition have shaved the weight of the scooter down to 95kg, this means it is on average 20 to 30kg lighter than its nearest 125cc rival. Thus, the smaller engine can keep pace with and often out accelerate rival scooters. The improvement in appearance over my original choice is amazing. My choice for a scooter was based on functionality, and keeping costs down. Alas, this meant a compromise on looks, but not anymore. The raking front of the Speedfight2 is set off with twin triangular headlamps below a pointed black “radiator” grill giving the impression of speed. The centre of the handlebars is sculpted to give the impression that the instrumentation is housed in individual pods and this trim curves down to a point finishing the “v” look on the front of the bike. The faring sweeps round behind the front wheel and rather than the flat floor, of the traditional scooter, Peugeot have moulded the frame so that the rider doesn’t sit knees forward ankles together but sits semi-astride the scooter with feet tucked into the cut outs behind the faring.
                        Air intakes in the faring direct cool air onto the engine in addition to providing further aesthetic enhancement. Peugeot have a couple of limited editions available in “racing team” colours such as the Prost version giving a powder blue base, with red and white transfers, chrome foot plates, and red wing mirrors. Personally I prefer the more subtle approach provided by the standard colours. Available in black, technium grey (silver to us), and pulsar blue the Speedfight2 looks a classy scooter. The seat is sculpted to give a more comfortable feel and being slightly narrower again give the impression of a motorcycle riding position rather than the sit on scooter position. Not only do I find this more comfortable but feel more in control having the bike between my knees rather than feeling like I am balancing on top of it. The rear of the seat is slightly smaller than that of the Typhoon but with a grab handle on the rear and better positioned foot pegs the ride experience for the passenger is more agreeable. Remember though no carrying of passengers unless you are properly licensed! The raised rear of the bike curving into the rear light below the seat sets off the sporty line off the bike perfectly. The ride on the three spoke alloy wheels is fairly smooth and any reservations I had about the single front swing arm assembly, most bike have two front forks the Peugeot has one swing arm on the left hand side of the wheel, have long since disappeared with the crisp handling and manoeuvrability of this machine. As I mentioned earlier I feel more secure riding this bike in a more sit astride stance than a sit in position but this may not agree with everyone so I would definitely recommend you ride this before buying. Acceleration feels a lot smoother and more controlled than other 125 and 50cc machines I have ridden. This does not take the fun out of the ride but does give a more refine
                        d feel to the scooter. So I have told you so far that this scooter looks the bees-knees, rides well, and handles beautifully but what about stopping? Peugeot have done it again, fitting disc brakes to the front and rear rather than the disc and drum combination found on many competitor machines. The levers have been thoughtfully positioned for easy reach and pulling them provides positive, firm, smooth braking giving a controlled feel to the whole stopping process. Peugeot have come up with a complete package on this bike including security features that other manufacturers do not supply as standard and you may want to take this into consideration when deciding what scooter to buy. The first security device is the key coded immobiliser that prevents the bike being started without the correct ignition key. The second is the retractable boa lock. What I hear you ask? Well, rather than having a thick chain that you have to store in your box and thread through the wheel the Speedfight2 has this lock fitted inside. You simply pull the lock from out of the rear of the bike, wrap it around the post or whatever you want to chain the bike to, and lock it on to itself. When you return undo the lock and it slides back into the bike. Final bits; the under seat storage box is big enough for a helmet or a small back pack, the mirrors actually do allow you to see behind you (I have found some allow you to look at your won shoulders!), and the Speedfight2 is quieter than most scooters I have tried. Insurance supplied through a Peugeot dealer is your best option, and I found that the quotes were around 20% cheaper than other agencies. The Peugeot Speedfight has been voted scooter of the year 1997, 1998 and 2000 being highly commended in 1999. With the further improvements made to the Speedfight2 I foresee that Peugeots dominance of the scooter market will continue and rightly so. Why did
                        I not buy this bike to start with? Well it was £300 over my budget and this is where the fabulous deal I mentioned comes in. Ringing round for a Typhoon I found Scooters Direct. After chatting to the very helpful Paul and explaining what I wanted and what had happened he offered me a Speedfight2. I mentioned these were too out of my price range and he offered a £200 reduction for a brand new silver machine and included free delivery (from Bristol where they are located to London…. not bad eh?). I have to say I am very pleased with the fact the Typhoon never turned up as I now have a cool look on top of all the other advantages I listed for commuting on a scooter. Definitely a better ride! Information Peugeot Scooters www.peugeotmoto.co.uk Scooters Direct Ltd Lewins Mean Bristol BS1 2l Tel: 0117 925 7666 Fax: 0117 925 7333 www.scooters-direct.co.uk (this site is being reconstructed so does not work properly at the moment)

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                        • Stoney Cove / Sporting Venue / 1 Reading / 41 Ratings
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                          31.07.2001 22:42
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                          Stoney Cove Leicestershire is now the premier inland dive site in Europe. Most UK Divers take Stoney Cove for granted as a regular weekend dive site but for those of you who do not know it let me take you on a tour: Location Stoney Cove is located on Sapcot Road just outside Stoney Stanton, Leicestershire. From London take the M1 north to junction 20 and then about 10 minutes after this you arrive in Stoney Cove. The total trip takes a couple of hours and it is worth setting out early, as Stoney is incredibly popular. Dry Tour Arriving at Stoney you will be asked to sign in on their registration scheme that costs £9 for a days diving. If you plan to be a regular visitor it is worth applying for their ?Diverlog? registration scheme that gives a discount on entry and means you do not have to complete paperwork every time you visit, obviously this is for a small fee! You have the choice of two car parks on site and a third across the road. The waters edge car park fills extremely quickly and I have only ever managed to park there once. Neither car park is a million miles from the water but on a hot day with all your gear on the top car park can seem like it! Walking towards the water the first building on the left is the dive centre. This comprises of an air station, although at weekends it is worth taking spare filled cylinders yourself as you can wait up to 2 hours for a refill. Next door to this is the dive shop selling a good range of equipment and accessories to replace those broken straps and clips. Here you can also book PADI approved courses. To your right is the water and as you walk you will see the first entry point known as the ?Bus Stop?. This is a timber and scaffold pole assembly that looks like a bus shelter allowing entry to the novice area. The next entry point on your right is the slipway at the end of a low path area, again giving access to the novice area. Pleas
                          e exercise extreme caution using this entry point, as it does get slippery, as my fractured thumb shows! Opposite the slip way is the shower block and changing area, my advice is to change by your car as most people do and wait till you get home for a shower. This is a cramped building and gets a little dirty towards the end of the day. Next door to this is the wet counter selling snacks and drinks and then a little further round is the pub selling, well pub stuff!! Wet Tour OK enough of this wandering round lets get geared up and take the plunge and I?ll give you the full underwater tour, and I won?t even insist you are fully qualified. Entering from the bus stop we find ourselves in the novice area with a total depth of 7 metres. Checking we are clear we descend slowly and today we are lucky we have 3 metres visibility. Alas with Stoney cove visibility can get down to about half a metre. Swimming northeast we come to an open room that we can swim through, this is the basement of the pub above. After a quick pint we swim southwest to the edge of the novice area, follow the slope towards the intermediate area and encounter our first wreck. This is the cockpit of a viscount aircraft we can swim to the rear of this and inside for a pilots eye view of the bottom! You may have noticed by now the number of fish here. I bet you are surprised at how close they come to us. After many years the fish are not at all worried by the divers and live quite happily together. Sometimes if we are really lucky the pike will come pay a visit near the aircraft. At about a metre in length with a mouth full of teeth he is a fantastic sight; guess we are not going to be lucky today. Leaving the plane behind we descend further down the slope to 20 metres, this is only accessible normally if you have completed the PADI Advanced Diver qualification, as it?s you I?ll take you anyway. We turn northeast and swim for a few
                          minutes and find our first wreck here, a submerged Wessex helicopter that we can explore. Turning southwest we swim towards the edge of the intermediate ledge passing a bus that if we wanted to we could swim into. We carry on swimming watching as the bottom drops away and we hang suspended in the semi darkness and experience fully that amazing weightless feeling divers achieve. A few minutes more swimming sees us over a solid bottom where we also find another submerged aircraft and also the latest addition a tugboat sunk with all its hatches welded open so we can swim inside and explore the darkness of the sunken ship. After a quick air check we prepare to head down again to the expert area and bottom at 30 metres. Swimming northeast we descend again feeling the eeriness as the light fades, good job we bought those under water flashlights. Down this deep all the fish seem very pale. We head south east swimming round the base of the intermediate area shelf to find our final wreck a sunken galleon long taken over as an artificial reef by all sorts of plants and algae. Alas down here we use up air very quickly and it is time for us to ascend and head out of the water. Turning north we start to swim slowly towards the surface up through the intermediate area again up again to the beginner area, there seems to be so many new divers learning here after the solitude of the expert deep area. Finally we surface at the slipway and exit the water taking a final look across the surface where not a bubble shows from the hundreds of divers below the surface. Well I hope you enjoyed your first swim at Stoney time for a cuppa. General Information The dive site is open weekdays from 8.30 to 4.30 and weekends from 7.00 to 16.00 the shop is open weekdays 08.30 to 17.00 and weekends 07.00 to 17.00 and with an approximate 100,000 divers visiting last year you can see why I recommend getting there early. Night Div
                          es are available on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday every month if you want to give this try. To be honest I personally think night dives are only worthwhile where the coral will give a light show, somewhere like the Red Sea. As with all dive sites you and your dive buddy must be qualified to either PADI Open Water or the equivalent BSAC as a minimum standard, or be training with a registered agency or club. Stoney Cove does have its own website http://www.stoneycove.co.ukfurther information or you can contact them directly: Stoney Cove Sapcoat Rd, Stoney Stanton, Leicester LE9 4DW. Tel: 01455 273089 (shop) 01455 274198 (The Cove public house) Enjoy your diving

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                          • Piaggio Typhoon 125 / Motorcycle / 2 Readings / 36 Ratings
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                            24.07.2001 00:38
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                            Finally after 16 years the commuter blues have got the better of me and I can no longer stand the tube. So I set off on a search for an alternative means of commuter transportation. What are you gonna do Rob I hear you ask, well a motorbike was out, the car impractical, too far on the mountain bike and I don’t earn enough for a chauffeur so there was only one choice left; yes it had to be a Scooter!!!!!! Now we have all seen those Mediterranean folk on their scooters bombing round in the sun looking cool and we have all seen the poor guys and girls over here done up in their wet weather gear on their mopeds looking well not quite as cool, but for commuting in town a scooter makes a lot of sense. Let me put it simply even with the purchase of a brand new scooter this year I will save on the price of my annual tube ticket. Next year I will have only to buy insurance and road tax and even after petrol calculations I reckon on saving £1400 pounds! Ok so that’s the financial sense. If I told you I could also cut my journey time by 25 minutes and of course no delays due to signal failure, no pressed up against sweaty people (ok I’ll miss that bit obviously!!!) and no seeking alternative means of transport, making even more sense now? So what Scooter, after looking at a number of sites and shops I decided on a more modern looking bike rather than a retro Vespa type. This was mainly to keep the initial purchase cost down. My other criteria being a 125cc engine rather than a 50cc just to keep me amused playing in the traffic. This narrowed down the choice of manufacturer to: Aprilia, Peugeot, and Piaggio. The final analysis came down to purchase cost and the Scooter that did it for me was the Typhoon XR. So tell us about this scooter I hear you say, ok here it comes: The Typhoon has a modern angular appearance with chunky wheels designed to smooth the, shall we say not always so perfect r
                            oad surface and provide good feedback to the rider. Combined with front telescopic hydraulic forks the ride is smooth and there is none of the older scooter trademark vibration through the handlebars. The seat is large and comfortable enough to accommodate a rider and pillion passenger but obviously you may only carry passengers if your licence allows. Under the seat is a large lockable box to store a helmet or a small bag and on the reverse of the front shield is a bag hook for the odd carrier. The shield provides good protection from the wind and rain for the lower body and the slim profile and floor allow easy access to mount and dismount. The second advantage of this profile is a more natural position when supporting the scooter at traffic lights. Climbing aboard we have electronic ignition, with a back up kick-starter should the battery ever go flat. Starting the bike is dead easy then and with “twist and go” transmission, power delivery is smooth through the range and the scooter is surprisingly reactive and nimble. This scooter is also extremely agile nipping through the crowded streets of London is a doodle the handling is sharp and cornering tight. This is due to the relatively short length of the scooter at only 1280mm. The air cooled 2 stroke single cylinder engine delivers 11.9bhp coupled with an overall weight of 106kg this is a pretty quick machine and is as much fun on a clear road as it is in town, although I still prefer my car for a good blast. While fun fuel consumption is a respectable average of 80 to 100 mpg and with an 8.5 litre tank my commute will mean very infrequent trips to the petrol station. The dash comprises of speedometer, fuel gauge, digital clock, and warning lights for main beam, indicators, oil and low fuel. Finished with a brushed aluminium surround giving a trendy look. Security is supplied in the form of a steering lock though I would advise utilisin
                            g a sturdy chain to lock your scooter to something immovable and investment in an alarm that may put off would be thieves. Available in black, dragon red, or Aluminium and with a range of accessories to customise this bike to your personal taste the Typhoon XR is a total bargain at £1695. Especially with the free insurance and road tax deals being offered on new models. Having driven one for a couple of days just to see if I still enjoyed playing with the London traffic I have just placed an order with Motorcycle City for a nice shiny black one! Information For those of you who are now tempted to consider a scooter as a means of commuting and want to give it a try RAE Motorcycle training offer a range of scooters and motorcycles for hire they can be found at http://www.motorcycle-training.f2s.com/hire.html Motorcycle City can be found at http://www.carnellbikes.co.uk Piaggio Scooters http://www.uk.piaggio.com/ Update 3rd August Well alas due to popular demand Motorcycle City cannot supply this bike :-( but...... Scooters direct have just come up with a fab offer on a Peugeot Speedfight 2 a much more expensive scooter so I feel another op coming on!

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                              16.07.2001 18:56
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                              I have just completed my PADI Open Water certificate and have to say WOW what a feeling you get when you experience the sensation of weightlessness (is that a word) under water. Hanging there watching the fish go by as you breathe underwater is like nothing I have ever experienced before it is totally amazing. This is to introduce you to the PADI Open Water qualification that allows you to travel the world and scuba dive to a recommended maximum depth of 18 metres using compressed air with a buddy (friend or partner) of the same standard or higher. PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) PADI is the worlds largest diving organisation, although the others such as BSAC (British Sub Aqua Club) are just as professional and train to a similar standard. I chose PADI just because the certification is so internationally recognised and anywhere in the world, even if the guys at a dive centre cannot speak very good English, they understand the word PADI. Although I learnt through a dive school based in London they are registered by PADI and all the training and course materials are supplied by PADI. The best thing to do is ensure the centre you are planning to learn to dive through is a 5 star, registered centre. This means that not only are the instructors trained and regularly examined by a PADI professional but all the kit and facilities are inspected as well. PADI OPEN WATER This is the first major instructional level for scuba diving. Before embarking on a full course if you have never tried the sport, and I thoroughly recommend it, you should go for the PADI Discover Scuba Diving Experience that gives you a chance to wear the kit and go for an accompanied dive to 12 metres just to give you a taste for diving. Sorry enough of me waffling lets get on with how the training works. The open water course is divided into five modules and combines course work, confined dives, and open water dive
                              s to put into practise the theory and a final exam (don’t panic more later) Course Work If on holiday and learning to dive you will probably cover the theory in a classroom environment. At the end of each module you will almost certainly take a confined water dive to put into practise that module. Learning as I did I studied the book and educational video at home in the evenings before attending my confined water practise sessions. Don’t worry you don’t need to be an academic to understand dive theory this is the man who hasn’t taken an exam since he passed his driving test 14 years ago and even I managed to pass. Each model covers the basic diving principles to be applied and introduces you to the kit you will be wearing. There are some facts and figures to remember as you work through, such as the pre-dive buddy check (you always check your buddies equipment and then they check yours before a dive) : BCD (Buoyancy control Device) Weights (to help you descend) Releases (to get rid of the kit in an emergency) Air (to breathe!!!!!!!!!!!!!) Final Check So how do you remember that order for the test ?…how about Bruce Willis Ruins All Films or Blonde Women Really Are Fun (apologies to Bruce Willis fans and Blonde Women who are not fun) As you can see pretty simple stuff so far! At the end of each module is a knowledge review, a kind of self-test with questions that prepare you for your final exam. The book and video (typical cheesy American training type video) take you from an introduction to the sport through to planning your dive, calculating your dive plan, looking after your equipment, reading the currents, and most important of all how to ensure that you and your buddy remain safe at all times Exam The exam is in the form of 100 multiple choice questions broken down into 5 sets of ten questions that are basically to test your knowledg
                              e of each individual module in the course. The remaining 50 questions ask a general mixture of questions across the entire 5 modules. Not too hard even I scored 98% at the end of the day. Confined Water Dives So now we move onto the fun part getting wet. Please note that you only have to complete the first module of the manual in order to start your confined water diving it was just easy for the purposes of this review to put the course details in this order. This part of the course normally takes place in a swimming pool or a very sheltered piece of water. You will be accompanied at all times by an instructor and a dive master and usually with PADI there are no more than 6 people to a group. In our case we took over the swimming pool at a girls school in Baker Street which was fine for the ladies in the group but us guys and the instructors had one gents toilet cubicle between us to change in believe me it makes you very good friends! The instructors will get you to take a swimming test to ensure you can swim 200 metres and float / tread water for 10 minutes. Obviously if you cannot swim there is no point diving, as swimming like a brick will always take you to the bottom but never up again! During these sessions you will practise assembling the kit, wearing it, and most importantly moving through the water in it. Other skills taught are emergency procedures such as mask removal and refitting underwater, sharing air, emergency ascents, and getting another diver to the surface. The 2 most important skills you learn to achieve at this stage are the never hold your breath underwater rule and how to achieve neutral buoyancy with the aid of your buoyancy control device. Getting this right means you can hang weightless with no effort whatsoever the most amazing feeling ever. So you have mastered all the skills and now you only have the final task to complete, this is it from now on it’s real.
                              Open Water Dives To gain your PADI Open Water Certificate you now need to make 4 open water dives in lakes, quarries, or the sea. This is still under the supervision of an instructor and is fantastic. You can either do these dives in England with your existing school or after completing the modules and confined water dives receive a referral certificate and finish your diving in a nice warm sea at a holiday resort. Now being the foolhardy sort and not being able to afford a holiday just yet I decided on diving in good old Blighty. So off we set to Leicestershire, of all places to Stoney Cove a purpose built quarry for diving (ooh another op there methinks). My thanks here go to Scuba Zone my dive school for providing very thick semi dry suits to keep us warm. The dark murky waters were not only freezing cold but visibility was about 6 metres meaning basically you could see nothing! The open water part of the course again gets you to practise all the skills you learnt in the pool but in a much harsher environment especially in England. At the end of all this you are a Diver, congratulations. Now one word of warning on exiting the water be very careful as a small slip by me ended with a dislocated thumb fractured in two places!! Cost Most dive schools will provide you with a wet suit or a semi dry suit, buoyancy control device, air tank, and regulator. You will need a mask, snorkel, and fins, how much you spend on these is entirely up to you. I bought my mask for about £5 a few years back just to do some snorkelling and have since found it is a proper dive mask, so a great cost saving there. The best thing to do is consult your dive instructor and take his / her advice on kit. The Open water course itself costs approximately £200 this includes all your diving fees, the equipment (supplied as listed above), course workbook, manual, video (refund of cost on return of video), divers
                              log book, and dive charts and manual. The time taken to do the actual dives for me was 2 evenings for about 3 hours each, the studying I did in my own time took about 5 hours, and the open water dives were conducted over one weekend. Conclusion All of this seems exceedingly like hard work and believe me when the cold water in England hit I did wonder what the hell I was doing, but thoughts of swimming in the red sea in crystal clear waters with an abundance of wildlife (her indoors heehee) and beautiful coral made it all worth it. The instructors are all very professional and make the learning easy and most of all great fun. I learnt with Scuba Zone in the Kings Road but that is a whole different review. I am off to do the advanced course in July that means I can dive to 40 metres and dive wrecks so I will tell you all about once I have completed that course. So it’s now off to get the brochures and head off to see friends who run a dive club in Dahab at the end of the year for some warm diving. Then next year South Africa to see some friends who run a dive club, and then after that Australia to my brothers old dive club honestly this sport is not addictive!! A cautionary note If you do learn to dive abroad in warm waters then decide to venture in to colder waters please talk to a local dive master and learn the kind of adjustments you need to make to dive in colder waters with less visibility and remain safe. Info PADI information can be found at www.padi.com Scuba Zone can be found at www.scuba-zone.co.uk

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                                19.06.2001 22:08
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                                When travelling on business it is nice to find a hotel that is “home from home” and that is exactly what the four star Golden Tulip Hotel Washington Opera has become. Located on Rue de Richelieu this hotel is ideally situated for the financial district of Paris. Especially for me as our offices are next to the Bourse about a ten-minute walk away. For those looking to explore L’Opera is at the end of the road in one direction and a further ten minutes walk takes you to the banks of the Seine and the Louvre. Arriving at Gare Du Nord on the Eurostar it is best to take a taxi to the Hotel, costing from 38 francs (about 3.80) out of rush hour it is a reasonably priced trip to the hotel. The front of the hotel can be easily missed being only a double doorway in a marble entrance with the smallest possible sign on one side. This automatic door opens into the reception area with the desk on the left and a small seating area to the right. The front desk is staffed by a minimum of two people, both multi-lingual, so there is never a language problem. I have enough trouble with English and my French is just embarrassing really so this is a total bonus for me. A single elevator located at the rear of the reception takes you to your floor. Arriving at your destination the first thing you notice as you step from the elevator is that the soft lighting in each hall is activated by your movement, this is a nice touch rather than the usual glaring fluorescent lights found in most hotels. Entry to your room is via an electronic key card. Each room is incredibly large considering the small size of this hotel. A standard room includes a desk, mini bar/fridge, TV (with satellite channels), double wardrobe with safe, two armchairs, a small dining table, double bed (more later), two bedside cabinets, and a direct dial telephone. The décor is subtle yet classy with deep reds mixing with dark woods to g
                                ive a feeling of warmth, while remaining open and spacious. Each room has two sets of floor to ceiling patio doors opening to give an outlook over Rue de Richelieu on one side and I have to confess no idea on the other as we all seem to get the rooms at the front of the hotel on our trips, so if anyone stays here let me know and I’ll update the op. Drinks in the mini bar are reasonably priced with a coke costing 3 francs (about 30p at current exchange rates). There are no tea or coffee making facilities in the room but a call to reception brings a tray delivered to your room within 5 minutes, at a cost of about 2 pounds for a pot of coffee giving 6 cups this is really good value. Remember to ask for café au lait or ask for a jug of milk as otherwise you get a pot of exceptionally strong thick black coffee and will be awake all night! But I hear you ask what about the bathroom? Through a door in the corner of the room you find yourself in a marbled bathing paradise! The sink and bath are sunk into marble tops with chrome fittings finishing the effect. A power shower hung above the bath will revive you after a hard night in the bars of Paris and complimentary Nina Ricci bath products make you smell nice after all the garlic in the food. Now back to the bed, as promised. As I said earlier these rooms are very spacious and this can be demonstrated by the size of bed. It is possible to fit 6 people in a double here! No I haven’t tried but by lying on one side and rolling across you can work it out! Now you are thinking I am really sad but believe me there are only so many nights you can go out drinking during the week when away on business and those odd nights stuck in a hotel room do get very boring!! Breakfast is not included in the price of a room here but is available from 0700 to 1030 each weekday morning. Take the elevator to the basement and tucked away in one corner is the breakfast bar. A small sel
                                ection of cereals are available, and a much larger selection of pastries and croissants with Fruit juice and tea or coffee. To be honest a better option for the price is to head out to one of the many cafes around Paris for breakfast. There is no restaurant at this hotel but you have the choice of so many establishments within about a five minutes walk that it is never an issue. There is a bar located in the basement open until the last resident goes to bed and room service is available twenty four hours a day with hot food available until ten thirty in the evening. For those wishing to return from Paris with a guaranteed tan the hotel offers a solarium for that sun in moment. This hotel is very classy and could be a little stuffy if it were not for the relaxed and welcoming demeanour of the team and a willingness to try to accommodate your every need, don’t be so rude! This is an ideal base for the business traveller or for a weekend break to explore the sights of Paris. For those of you flying further travel information: Charles De Gaulle Airport approx 30 km Orly Airport approx 20 km Full Address: Golden Tulip Hotel Washington Opera 50 Rue de Richelieu Paris 75001, France Tel (0033) 01-42966806 Fax (0033) 01-40150112

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                                • Mazda MX-5 1.8i / Car / 0 Readings / 65 Ratings
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                                  05.06.2001 19:34
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                                  As the sun shines and the cold English winter fades to a distant memory what can be better then a sexy topless ………….. car! Well this year I finally decided that it was time to move from sports coupe to a full on two-seater convertible but not being what would be classed as the upper income bracket no chance of a Porsche Boxter or Mercedes SLK for me so the choice came down to three cars: The MGF, the MR2 Roadster or the MX5 Roadster. Following initial test drives we decided that the MR2 was ruled out as it had absolutely no storage space whatsoever so was not a practical option, but the handling and driveability nearly swung it. The MGF looked too dated inside, and that plastic rear window just makes putting the roof up and down a long-winded process. So it had to be the MX5. The main difference the MX5 has to the MGF and the MR2 is that it has a front mounted engine and rear wheel drive rather then the mid mounted engine, this gives it a classic sports car look. The current version of the MX5 is the Mark II a change in body style from the Mark I, the most noticeable feature change being the move from pop up style headlights to the glass teardrop, with a number of interior and safety specification upgrades. There are currently three main varieties of the Mark II a 1.6i, a 1.8i, and a 1.8is. The only noticeable external features to tell them apart are the 1.8is has an electric retractable aerial, mud flaps and sprayed alloy wheels as standard. The 1.6i and 1.8i look identical at a standard equipment level. On a technical note the 1.6i has a top speed of 118 mph and a 0 to 62 time of 9.7 seconds. The 1.8i and 1.8is share a top speed of 127 mph and reach 62mph from a standing start in 8.0 seconds. The major technical difference is that the 1.8is is the only car in the range to be fitted with ABS. Well I placed calls to a number of dealers for a used MX5 and drove a variety of
                                  the cars then came the call. A black MX5 with so many optional extras it was untrue, leather, air conditioning, wood trim, custom alloy wheels, a hardtop for winter use and a full Mazda service history and at the right price. Well to say I was tempted would be an understatement, there followed a test drive, and I now believe in love at first sight! As a word of advice, never buy one of these cars without a full UK Mazda service history. There are a lot of imports on the market beware! Those built to British specification and imported from Northern Europe are fine but those built for Spain, Japan, and the Far East have slightly different specifications, for example you won’t be able to fit the nozzle from a UK petrol pump into the filler on the car and the conversion costs about five hundred pounds! The only downside to this particular car was that it is the 1.8i rather than the 1.8is model. As an ex demonstrator this car was so well equipped I decided to forego the ABS, having never used it on my three previous cars. The MX5 is a true drivers car, the accelerator is responsive to the slightest touch, the gears precise, and the short shift makes for quick changes through the gearbox. The low centre of gravity and the stiff suspension set up allow the car to be pushed with late braking entering, and fast acceleration exiting a bend. The steering wheel feels precise with good feedback from the 195/50 tyres sticking the car to the road. Not that I have driven this car hard at all! If you do not want to push this car the suspension although solid gives a smooth ride and, though noisier than a hardtop, the road noise with the roof up is better than most of the cars in this class. With the roof down and the air dam up to protect your neck the sensation is that of wind through the hair rather than the usual sandpapering of the ears, even with the windows down the shape of the car deflects the wind round and over the drive
                                  r and passenger rather than directly onto them. The interior of this particular car has the leather and wood trim option giving black leather sports seats with a white piped trim and a lovely deep oak burnished wood trim around the centre console and air vents. Everything has been designed with the driver in mind, the switches are all easily reachable, the stereo well positioned so that you do not have to take your eyes too far from the road and the heater controls on two dials set at the flick of the wrist (no comments about wrist action thank you). Storage inside is provided by a lockable glove box which is massive, a lockable centre box that houses the remote boot and petrol flap release and doubles as an armrest for your passenger, a pocket behind the passenger seat, door pockets either side, and a pocket on the wind deflector. This car even provides two cup holders, but I’ll let you find them. I have mentioned the wind deflector or air dam a couple of times, this only comes as standard on the 1.8is model and is an expensive option from your Mazda dealer but believe me it is worth every penny. Drive any soft top vehicle without a dam and the wind whips the back of your neck causing it to ache and stiffen, put the dam up and you still feel the pleasant effects of a cool breeze but without the aches and pains. My car also has air conditioning. Now why do I need air conditioning on a soft-top car? I hear you ask, well, some days when stuck in traffic you need to put the roof up as the sun is just too hot and you can feel yourself frying. By the way suntan cream is an essential part of soft-top driving even on cloudy days with the roof down. On warm wet days and rainy winter days getting in the car with wet clothing on causes it to steam up pretty quickly as you will find with all cars of this size. Mazda provide several safety features: driver and passenger airbags, side impact door beams, and an in
                                  tegrated roll bar. The dealer showed us some pictures of cars that had been involved in horrible accidents and in all cases the cockpit area remained the same size and shape as before the accident. An immobiliser is fitted as standard but you may wish to think about locking wheel nuts for your alloys and an alarm to scare off would be thieves. The storage on this class of vehicle is negligible at best but the MX5 has the biggest boot of all. We have managed to squeeze two good size holdalls into the boot with a couple of big coats, sorry golf fans your clubs will just not fit. As I said this model is the 1.8i and I really wanted a 1.8is so we decided on some cosmetic extras. We added the mud flaps and the nice chrome scuff plates along the top of the sills, an electric aerial was already fitted, along with central locking and voila the car now looks just like the 1.8is. If you want to personalise your Mazda there are unlimited accessories available from companies such as Moss International or Scimitar but I recommend you check out the MX5 owners club for their recommendations at http://www.aesthetica.com/ukmx5/ My next improvement will be a grill to cover the massive air intake below the number plate as this big hole makes a lovely target for stones to fly through and damage the car radiator. Well the first thing I did on buying this car was to go home and take the hardtop off, drop the roof and enjoy the sunshine, after covering myself in suntan cream. Driving along I noticed another MX5 approaching and what was that? a flash of the headlights and a wave, this was not an isolated incident either MX5 drivers are a friendly bunch it takes me back to my days of driving a Beetle. We have owned the car for a couple of weeks now and driven nearly a thousand miles, unheard of in the Huddro household and the one factor that makes me love this car more than anything I still cannot stop grinning when I drive it.
                                  For more technical information you can visit the Mazda website at http://www.mazda.co.uk/ Update 8th August Well worth joining the owners club as you can make all sorts of useful contacts. I was advised to get a grill to cover the air intake in front of the radiator as Mazda don't fit grills (how strange is that?) Anyway I was recommended a company called Scimitar and picked up a lovely chrome grill at a very reasonable price. www.mx5parts.co.uk Owners club is www.mx5oc.co.uk Car is still running with no problems despite covering 3000 miles already !

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