Thursday, 21 July 2016


Nothing really to do with the car itself.

A spin-off use for some left overs from the cooling system.
An off cut of silicone tubing, section cut out, makes a perfect sprung heat proof 'pot handle grabber' for the kitchen...

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Adaptive feedback update

Approx 1,500 miles on the clock now since shifting to fully adaptive.

I get a larger spread of feedback adjustments and the start of some changes in the higher rev range - car doesn't stay there for long on normal driving though so not yet a smooth graph.

0-500 rev range is excluded from the feedback process.

There is the expected top-left to bottom-right diagonal of feedbacks - consistent with relatively flat running and smooth acceleration in high gear, and the top row of values at zero throttle when lifting off and coasting. Not many hills on the Berlin run so only a little feedback on the left vertical - high throttle/low revs.

The original powermap high inputs at low revs are not great, I presume they are to stop the engine stalling, the car tends to bog down at low revs when pulling away and I suspect it's moving into this area. I may let adaptive adjust the 500 column in around 10% throttle and see if that helps.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Berlin and Back - Home!

The final leg,
Across Belgium and towards the ferry at Dunkirk.

An interesting lifting bridge along the way.

Nothing really more to tell other thank losing my debit card to an automated petrol garage in France somewhere. Luckily had enough cash for the final fill up. Rang up the bank to cancel my card and they asked me where I was:
   "er, not really sure, somewhere in Belgium or France..."
   Made the bank assistant laugh anyway.

Arrived at Dunkirk just in time to catch the 16:00 ferry.

The boat was reasonably full, and somewhat shock to the system with so much noise, people and genral hubub.  It was nice to have a complete english conversation with the lady behind the coffee counter - I mean just full sentences rather than broken english and signs, then a little people watching while I supped my hot coffee and ate a warm danish pastry.

Its only a 2 hour crossing, the route first running west along the French coast then north into Dover. 
I spent a fair amount of time on deck in the wind - the wind just makes me feel alive!

All parked up at home, car needs a wash.
Time for a proper cup of tea (in my experience tea is just not the same outside the UK), feet up and then a long bath.

All done.

One European road trip: complete.
Countries visited: UK, France, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany.
Languages: English, please/thank-you in local language, smiles and pointing.
Weather: roasting heat to torrential rain
Miles Travelled: ~1,578
Car issues: None

Thank you to all the locals, petrol station owners, restauranteurs waiters and hoteliers for being patient with communications. The waves and nods from general public also appreciated.

Hood down all the way while driving, used a couple of times for overnight waterproofing.

Roads - no mountains, but plenty to see, lots of places I have never been to before and a few on a shortlist to re-visit.


Thursday, 30 June 2016

Operation Chastise - Dambusters Dams

A fair few miles to get through, with the overnight in the Netherlands, but on the way, based on a tip from a RhoCar member visiting the Dambusters Dams.

More chocolate box German half timbered towns and villages.

along with some nice sweeping curves and great wide open views.

The Dambusters attacked tMohne then Eder then Sorpe sequence - my sequence is based on my arrival traveling east to west.


Just before elevenses I arrive at the Eder, the winding road around the reservoir is an awesome drive in terms of views, but unfortunately limited to 50kph and not so great as a challenging drive.

However the Dam itself - fantastic.
There is a finess/cleanness and lightness (odd adjective for a Dam) to the design.

The tale-tale missing sluices and lighter stone work mid-dam betraying its past - the sluices were not re-installed after the re-build post Dambusters run.

You can imagine the bombing run, first using limited space to line up on the approach over the reservoir.

Then the pull up on the other side to miss the hillside, looks like plenty of space for a smaller plane, a Lancaster still with enough fuel to get home or even with its Upkeep bomb still in place for a go-around is probably a different challenge all together!

These places for some reason send a shiver through me - theres some memory of the history present in the location - the effort of one side to destroy, one side to defend, and the collateral damage. The feelings seem to remain in places even when the people move on.

Decent bit of engineering, and some style too, the structure has a really open/positive feel to it.


Different in design, the Sorpe is an earth bank - so not much to see; I just stopped for a couple of snaps and a breather. I believe this one was not breached, a bomb bouncing over the top - but the sink on the reservoir side and explode mid Dam was just not going to work on the sloped sides.


This is the daddy. Compared to the Eder a more brutal design - really heavy imposing towers. The weather closing in a little too and helping the overall feel. Incredible build in the first place, and incredible that anything could damage this structure.

A memorial to the approx 900 civilians that lost their lives in the aftermath.
Notwithstanding the efforts of the allies and impressive achievement of the mission the only guarantee with war is everybody dies.

Early dinner in the restaurant overlooking the reservoir, and then on the move again.

Return to the Netherlands

The road east now a straight run for the hotel. A little traffic around Essen and Duisburg, and then virtually as soon as I cross the border into the Netherlands, more rain.

My patent waterproofing system - plastic bag + clothes peg - re-installed on the sat nav. Works well, the touchscreen even works through the bag.

...and another chance to give the wipers some exercise, at speed its not so bad,

... but the rain got heavier, and as soon as I slowed it covered the inside of the windscreen too!

Arrived at the hotel, opposite the church in Meijel. By the time I had her wrapped up for overnight and checked into the hotel the rain stopped! Its only water though.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Headed West

Return journeys always have a different feel; thoughts return to being home and the feeling to meander lessens. Today is about getting back into that driving mood.

I did plan in some key waypoints on the way back, the route taking me a little further south to some higher ground, a few more hills en-route to Brocken.

Some fantastic scenery in the Schulenberg im Oberharz area on the drive around the reservoir.
Dams always have a gentle side with reasonable drop to the water and a downright scary side, this one with cargo nets to presumably catch anyone falling over the edge?

 Everything suddenly getting very swiss chalet style for the overnight stop near Munden.

Weather good again, but cooler now, nice driving temperature, more like a warm breeze than feeling like I'm inside a fan oven.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Berlin - Sightseeing

No cars on this post; just a record of some sightseeing in Berlin before the return journey.

I'm not really a city person  - but - if you can explore on foot, wander around and find things, then its a good fit for me - I don't particularly like guided tours, much prefer exploring and finding things. On the downside I probably miss a lot, on the upside its like some sort of personal adventure!


After work a bite to eat  in the evening and a wander down to Modersohnstrasse Bridge and catching the end of the sunset with a beer in hand. The rest of the team have more sense than me - one colleague and his girlfriend live in Berlin, my Boss and his wife flew in.


Pariser Platz

I  go for a general wander - everything in walking distance from the hotel:

Pariser Platz & Brandenburg gate, strange angles due to a huge TV screen and hoardings  setup on the other side of the gate which I'm trying to hide in the pictures. Ironic really - the wall has been down for 27 years, but I still can't walk or see through the gate due to some 'capitalist' event.


Then to the Reichstag,

Some more modernist government buildings opposite, I'm not the only one attracted to this building - there was some sort of fashion photo shoot going on in front of it at the same time.

The Berlin Wall route marked running past it and down to the river, Crosses showing failed attempts at crossing in the 1961 to 1989 period - the last of them only 9 months before the wall came down.
All the buildings surrounding the river modernist and striking.

Friedrichstrasse Station

Along the river bank towards Friedrichstrasse Station - looks interesting - and I found out later not just to me - apparently used in a scene from one of the Bourne films - Jason jumps from the bridge during an escape.

I pick up a city tour boat here, the weather is perfect for a river trip - still warm and a little cooler nearer the water. The ticket seller a very gruff middle aged lady - my imagination has her as some sort of Rosa Klebb figure - not to be crossed! She turned out really helpful and a character - let me on the boat first, and saluted as I passed on the tour in either direction - worth a tip.

...the view from the boat a chance to look for things to visit next ...

Some typical? concrete faced blocks in the old East Berlin,

Next to the modern buildings the old Cathedral,

... and some interesting optical illusions on the facade of these office blocks, architecture 'of its time' is fascinating...

Fernsahturm de Berlin

...after the boat, a wander along the river bank towards the TV tower,

... and inside - built in 1969 it still shows off some of the stlye of that era - dark wood, aluminium cast handrails and fittings -  awesome,

There is a fair queue for tickets and to get to the top - but I've come this far...

...230m high to the viewing deck the lift very smooth but apparently runs around 20kmh & has a skylight so you can see the lift shaft above.

I can see the pub from here!

Olympic Stadium

Then a trip outside town to the 1936 Olympic stadium.
It has had a number of re-builds since then, but retains many of the orginal features from the games as well as features recognisable from scenes in the Quiller Memorandum filmed in the mid 60s.

This is a must visit - and the guided tour excellent.

Feels like George Segal or Alec Guiness will be hiding around a corner somewhere.


Checkpoint charlie

Somehow the leaving American sector direction is more appealing!

Jewish Memorial

Quiet in the centre of the city.

Great city - especially the old East Berlin if you are into Spy Movies!
English is the second language almost everywhere to-boot and everyone I met friendly and helpful.

I do find cities tiring though - so many people - but also lonely places at the same time, need to get back on the road and find some space.