This domain name and website relates to a car buying scam. We have a car advertised on Autotrader and we received a text offering to buy it at a slightly reduced price. It also said that they will send an agent round to buy the car with cash and take it away.

Here’s the scam:

On the website you key in an activation code and they say that they will confirm the time and date of purchase/collection. But first , as their time is expensive, they will need to take a refundable deposit of £75 which their agent will refund when he calls, regardless of whether or not they decide to buy.

Alarm Bells !!! Obviously Not!

I checked out the domain name and it was registered yesterday! There were no contact details that were at all traceable on the site and further google research found nothing at all further about ( hardly surprising as it has only been live for day .With any luck and a following Google wind, he can read about his site here soon though.)

Working on the basis that the scammers simply register a new name every month or so and use the same website,  I googled  a chunk of text on their website as follows:

Our car buyers sort through 1,000s of cars every week in the AutoTrader looking for cars to stock our Finance Car Warehouses

and that  threw up a variety of links to various scam sites including this one:

The further point is that the mugs will only lose £75 each, too little to be bothered with going to police ( who will probably just say that they dont have the resources.)

The usual moral of the story applies, if sounds to good to be true , it usually is !

If you read this on twitter, retweet

UPDATE 13.24 Wednesday 19th November

Autotrader are now warning users of this site and giving police contact details for anyone who has paid a deposit:

People say believe half of what you see, son
And none of what you hear
But I can’t help bein’ confused

Marvin Gaye
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Tour de France comes to Marple

Well not exactly but at 3 miles away close enough for this picture to seem like something from a dream. The reality of the the world’s third most popular sporting event came to Britain this weekend and stimulated many, many hundreds of thousands to turn out to witness the very brief passing of the race. My eldest son rode for three and a half hours on a mountain bike across desolate moorland to glimpse the first heroes to reach the summit at Oxenhope only to be distracted by an inconsiderate mobile call which almost caused him to miss the whole four minutes of excitement.


For my part, I extended the couch potato weekend of sport ( Both World cup games yesterday ) and some of Stage 1 of Le Tour into at least two hours of Stage 2 today. Only the last few games of the Men’s Final at Wimbledon to do. What was fascinating, apart from the nuances of the race itself, was the commentary by the ITV given by Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen. To pass the time, Liggett loves to season his cycling knowledge with poor French pronunciation and interesting facts about the history, geography and geology of the places the peleton passes through in a blur of rainbow lycra .

It is also remarkable for the sheer inaccuracy of most of it. The commentators probably get away with it in France as most of us couldn’t separate one King Louis from another and are not “au fait” with the finer points of the topography of Alsace-Lorraine, but,  Phil, you need to brush up on your Pennine reservoirs ( Woodhead is not Ladybower) and it was Henry the Eighth not the Seventh who was responsible for the dissolution of the monasteries.

Cycling must now be as popular as it ever was. My father was a keen cyclist, a member of the Altrincham Ravens in the thirties and the picture below is from that time. He looks as though he was taking part in a hill climb possibly near Hayfield ( not 3 miles from where the picture of the signs above was taken )


At that time Le Tour was as exotic as the South Pacific today, brand names on jerseys were of things beyond most people’s experience. My father’s only experience of France came a few years after this photograph when he was forced to retire from the Royal Artillery team in early June of 1940 at Dunkirk after a bad crash with an opposing German team.

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Football is back on, now!

I suffered from withdrawal symptoms yesterday , for the first time in 15 days there was no football on the telly. Partly due to my virtually retired status and partly due to the convenient timings of the matches, I have realised that I have watched over 20 games in their entirety and bits and pieces of many others.

In terms of quality, whilst not yet a vintage world cup, there have been some memorable games and incidents. Some of the expected big names have delivered: Neymar, Messi, Robben, Van Persie, Benzema, Mueller and Suarez. Some other names played well although lack of quality in the rest of their teams has meant that they will not grace the next round: Ronaldo, Rooney, Iniesta and Pirlo come to mind.


The failure of the Europeans and the not entirely unexpected dominance of the South Americans in particular and the New World (USA, Mexico and Costa Rica) in general has been more pronounced than many would have anticipated. What odds would the headless Ray Winstone have given on the failure of Spain, Italy, England and Portugal as a group to progress. ” Ere, Algeriah and Costa Ri’ah to go frew. Ave a bhang on that!!”


In those 20 games, some have seemed like a waste of life’s precious hours. Iran v Nigeria, Most of the Russian games and the England Costa Rica dead match. Thanks go to world’s most talented footballing hyena for providing a compulsive reason to switch channels. Clive Tyldesley’s ” Bye-Bye everyone” is up there now  with “they think its all over..”

Brazil 2014 so far has given us Van Persie’s equalising header against the Spanish, Messi’s goals, Ghana’s temporary exposure of the Germans and their tribal dance, the Lucho Libre goalkeeping of Guillermo Ochoa, the streetfighters of Chile, Cahill’s goal for Australia and the best kit marketing stunt ever with those blue and pink boots.


So bring on the next round with no more cold turkey to suffer until Wednesday and Thursady next week.

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A point of view on Gogglebox

Who remembers the BBC tv comments show, Points of View? Those plummy voiced actors reading carefully selected viewer’s letters, often from some outraged retired colonel from Tunbridge Wells. Why did Yorkshire housewives all sound like a Debutante from Kensington? Why, oh why, oh why…did they take it off air (Apparently not! it is still running, hosted by slitherey Jeremy Vine) For those too young to remember Robert Robinson or Barry Took, here is a video of Barry Took presenting a programme in 1985:

But now, there is a new way to feedback our views of Television, and not just the BBC’s output. I tuned in last night for the first time to GoggleBox on Channel 4. This show is filmed using static cameras,  positioned as the TV looking out, recording  various familes and groups of friends watching TV. It’s like the Royle family but live ( the narration of Caroline Aherne provides another subtly suggestive nod to Wivvenshaw’s finest ) The real families are a cross section of 2014 Britain with young and old, black, brown and white, north and south.  You are basically watching a TV show where other people are watching TV shows that you have or have not seen It is strangely addictive on many different levels.

Each week they watch a series of different programmes, a remarkable mix of content from When Corden met Barlow to Andrew Marr’s politics show with Nigel Farage and David Milliband. This last one provided my favourite moment as posh pisshead, Dominic, shouts at Milliband “Answer the effin question you Tw*T”  Part of the fun is watching the interaction between the people watching. You see a lot of eating , swearing and a surprising amount of emotional involvment in the material broadcast. It is Britain today on both sides of the screen. Here is a brief extract of an episode from the last series:

What you cannot avoid is the urge to identify with some of the goggleboxers more than others. After just one show , I am already feeling like a synthesis of Leon, the eighty year old retired teacher, Dominic the posh one and a bit of the taciturn Siddiqui guys. You could also add in a splash of Sandra, Brixton’s answer to Carmen Miranda ( check out the nails ) for sheer madness!

I love the way everyone has their own seat in the lounge, just as we do. We are all different yet all the same.It’s out now, its OK to interact with the TV.  I am off to check out catch up Channel 4 for more. Which Goggleboxer are you?

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Pilgrimage to Cartmel

Cartmel in south lakeland has been a place of pilgrimage from the establishment of the Prory in the twelth century. Since my first visit to Cartmel some ten years ago, attending the excellent July Thursday race meeting, the picturesque Lakeland village has enjoyed a rapid rise in the foodie world stimulated by the restaurant L’Enclume and it’s chef/patron Simon Rogan. Once the home of four sleepy pubs and a Deli famous for Sticky Toffee pudding, the village now has three restaurants owned by Rogan, a high end bakery , an artisan cheese shop and a craft brewery. It is the Cumbrian answer to Padstein , sorry Padstow in Cornwall.

A meal at L’Enclume, now graced with two Michelin Stars, was an ambition fulfilled by a thoughtful and generous Christmas present from our sons who presented us with a voucher allowing to enjoy the full tasting menu at a future date. We chose to visit on St George’s day and take a very long lunch as the the full menu needs three to four hours. We  booked into the Cavendish Arms overnight rather than drive back after such a, hopefully, memorable meal.


Cowheel but not as we once knew it

I could not resist reading about the food beforehand and it contained many things that would have  terrified me, a  faddy ten year old child,  fifty years ago: cow heel, eel, duck gizzards, raw shellfish, ox tongue, sweetbreads, raw deer. Furthermore there were two cheeses in the middle of the meal, four desserts without a hint of chocolate or  sugar, an ice cream made from a root vegetable, a drink from a conifer. Written down it sounds like a meal from wartime Britain , the products of Dig for Victory or a poachers bag and yet, and yet….

..each small dish was a triumph, outstanding favours and a delight to the eye. Each course, often no more than a canapé or tapa was presented on different stoneware crockery or bespoke pottery and was perfectly timed. Simon Rogan’s food is described and photographed now in great detail on the internet. I will not describe each dish or attempt to fill this post with food photos. If you want to see what we ate and what it looked like then click on this link to Uber Food Blogger Hungry Hoss’s description here to see an exact replica of the meal. The highlights were many and various but the Venison  with mustard mayonnaise and the Langoustine dish will live long in my memory.

2014-04-23 14.06.31

The restaurant is  housed in the old village blacksmiths, the interior is understated with whitewashed walls and simple wooden tables decorated with pebbles. The front of house staff were thoughtful, affable and very professional and added to the experience, explaining in detail all the 20 courses (more if you count the three different types of bread and butter and pork dripping). No one called us “Guys”.

Rather than take the full wine package, we gave the sommelier our budget and asked him to provide wines suitable to the food. After glasses of Henner’s English champagne , we shared a bottle of Piemonte white, Favorita from Umberto Fracasi, I took two glasses of Gamay, a red wine from Savoie and we shared a glass of the more famous Nyetimber semi sweet English Champagne with our dessert courses/

After three and a half hours we were replete but not overstuffed. Was it worth it?  Absolutely yes. The cost was, well,  a lot! There has been an event this week where people have been living on a £1 a day or less to show solidarity with some of the world’s poor. You would be living for several months or more on the cost of this lunch.

If asked to describe the best meal I ever ate, I used to reply that it was a bowl of tinned tomato soup in a cafe in Llanberis after a cold November hike up and down Snowdon. I am going to have to revise that now.

Could I do this type of food all the time? Probably not . But three or four times a year would be often enough to enjoy without losing the magic.

L'Enclume on Urbanspoon

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Christmas Quiz 2013

The other day I read that a tradition can be said to be anything that you have done at least three times. So , following on from that logic, here are links to the quiz I put together this year for our annual lunch at Stockport’s Arden Arms.

I like to use a theme and this year’s theme was loosely based on the number 7.

2013 quiz

xmas 2013 picture quiz

2013 quiz answers ( Spoiler Alert)

2013 quiz answer sheet

Previous Year’s quizzes from 2010, 2011 and 2012 can be found in these posts:

2010 Quiz

2011 Quiz

2012 Quiz

Feel free to use any of this material as you wish, plagiarism is actively encouraged. If you use any of it and enjoy it, then please let me know in a comment below.

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An Alpine traverse by the Bernina Express

Today is without doubt the planned highlight of our trip. A one way trip through and over the Alps on a scenic train from Switzerland and down into Italy. Echoes of Hannibal, Otzi and Edward Whymper. The Bernina Express, a panoramic train, takes four hours to travel just over 100 km, through 55 tunnels  and over 196 bridges. It climbs to 2250 metres. This part of the journey was pencilled in first and the rest of our travels effectively planned around it.


We check out of the Post Hotel in Chur after a good breakfast and make our way on foot back to the station to await the 8.34 am Bernina Express. It will be on time; this is Switzerland after all: regimented, just a bit anal, fussy, tidy,  litterfree, well behaved  and all in all  a little too “German”.


The Bernina express exceeded all our expectations, the 4 hours went by so soon. There was good overall visibility but rather overcast during the first part of the journey along the Albula line as we saw castles and churches on precipices of rock with distant views of the approaching mountains. The railway climbed ever upwards until we reached the Landwasser viaduct , an astonishing feat of engineering which delivered the train on a sweeping curve into a tunnel entering a vertical rock face. The view from an open window was remarkable.


The section from Bergun to Preda climbs over 1500 feet in just a few kilometres , this increase in altitude achieved with a bewildering series of viaducts and tunnels, some of which are complete spirals, which constantly change your view of the valleys and peaks. At the end of this section the line descends to the valley of the Inn river and the town of Samedan. So far, Every corner has brought a new chocolate boxtop or jigsaw view, with green alpen fields, cows and swiss chalets all in an immaculate manicured landscape.


I realise later that as we started our journey on this train , any rainfall we saw would eventually end up in the Rhine and arrive in North Sea, at this point of the journey though the Inn river drains into the Black Sea and the odd flake of september snow that we saw at Alp Grum ( see below) would drain into The Po and the Adriatic Sea! The watershed of Europe.


From Samedan the train climbs ever higher to Lago Blanco, the high point of Ospizio Bernina ( 2253 m or almost 7400ft) and then a pit stop at Alp Grum. Here the passengers disembark to stretch their legs, photograph the train and the glaciers, and there, to the distant south Italy and its sunshine beckoned. The Italian peaks in the distance are highlighted with blue sky.


After the stop the train begins an incredible descent towards a distant blue lake at Poschiavo. We are still in Switzerland but the on-train audio guide has told us that Alp Grum represents the boundary of language and we are now in Italian not Romansch or German Switzerland. The houses are less tidy, graffiti appears and occasionally people are possibly late for work! Eventually we reach the last major landmark of this trip; the Brusio viaduct which is completely circular and reminds you of a snake swallowing its own tail.


The train arrived in Tirano, Italy had now taken over completely, joyously scruffy gardens, doing something tomorrow is a good excuse and laughing out loud is not punishable by a fine. We left the Rhaetian Railways station and entered the other Italian railway station across the toytown square. We bought 2 rail tickets to Milan for 22 euros, two and a half hours away. Don’t tell Richard Branson. A small cafe is a useful source for  sandwiches, water and wine. The aged train with its 60’s rolling stock had possibly 15 to 20 coaches but only 60 people on board. Very inefficient, if this was run by the Swiss they would have  a fit!


Signs in the loo tell you not to use the facilities at the station, there are dirty windows and it’s all a bit decrepit  but after Switzerland, we loved it. The journey is warm and sunny, Mediterranean smells come through the open windows as we picnic on wine and substantial sandwiches. The  initial part of journey is through Valletina borderd by the Rhaetian alps, vineyards and forests. From Colico to Lecco the train runs alongside 25 miles of Lake Como affording  brilliant lakeside views, tantalisingly broken by tunnels of unknown length.


After passing through Monza, we arrive in  Milan’s huge grand limestone edifice of a station. This must be a Mussolini legacy , all quasi-Roman Empire. We take a taxi to Hotel Berna as we were hot, bothered and want to avoid hassle. Ten euros for what was effectively a five minute walk. But our generosity to the local economy was repaid as the Hotel Berna gave us an upgrade! Our room had everything, a large bathroom, lots of mirrors, free soft drinks, jacuzzi bath and more pillows than John Lewis.


After a quick wash & brush up we get out to see city. Three stops on the underground, direction San Donato bring us to Duomo. A Perfect time to see this marvel of a cathedral as the late afternoon sun lit up the white marble western end in  glorious luminance against a cobalt blue sky. Along the northern edge of the piazza ran the huge 19th century Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Forget the Meadowhall and the Trafford centre, this is the original shopping mall built in 1865, filled with designer shops and expensive cafes and restaurants. After spending time in the piazza, we passed through the galleria into the Piazza la scala and sat in the little park below the statue of Leonardo da Vinci.


We wandered around the streets looking for somewhere to have a meal. We decided not to have the 19 euro sandwich in Trussardi despite the chic interior. After much debate, we ended up in a virtual takeaway eating gnocchi bolognese , aubergine parmigiana and chicken with fried potatoes. Water and two glasses of wine, 25 euros. Eventually found our way back to duomo where it was still busy and the cathedral was now lit by lights. Just by the entrance of the galleria was the stylish bar Camparino, which specialises in a drink not dissimilar to the name! Here I was obliged to enjoy a Negroni and the free bar top snacks whilst OH used the “facilities”. The things I have to do!


Back on the metro, and a last, somewhat overpriced, drink in a pavement cafe before bed. Venice tomorrow.

Stop that train: I’m leavin’ – today!
Stop that train: I’m leavin’ – anyway!
Stop that train: I’m leavin’. And I said:
It won’t be too long whether I’m right or wrong

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