I count myself very lucky. Lucky in that throughout my life I've made some very good business contacts who have helped me in all my weird and wonderful business ventures and have contributed in all sorts of ways to the successes of whatever has been my latest adventure

    The number of times I've cruised across the Channel when all I wanted to do was to sail across. Now with Norfolk Lines my car or van gets stuck on a ship in between a hundred lorries, I get a plate of steaming hot beans and toast and a kip in the corner of a deserted lounge, all for a price that should make other Channel-crossing companies blush with shame.

    Ryanair gets a lot of stick in the national press about isolated airports, no free coffee, no free food, surly staff and so on. Well, so what? If you want a limousine service then you hire a limousine. If you travel on the local bus, you get a bus service. Ryanair is the flying bus and if you check on the link to see the prices, you see that compared to prices other lines charge, this is bus fare. I pay my own fare, so I know what's important to me, and it isn't free cups of coffee.

    I drove 900 miles from Denver, Colorado to Flagstaff, Arizona, to visit these people, and then drove 900 miles back. I was only there for two hours and I can safely say that the service and help that I received during that couple of hours that I was there made the trip - all 1800 miles of it - worthwhile. I would do the same trip again to get the same help. Thanks to them, I now have two Air 403s. You can read about my adventures in acquiring these if you have a week to spare and a fast modem. It's ... er ... rather long.

    John runs a company called Bay Solar Power Design in California, and I came across his number by accident. I called him up to ask him a few questions. He wasn't there but called me back - all the way to Europe. That was impressive. Talking to him, I realised he knew what he was on about (makes a change these days) and he was able to source me my 12-volt heater elements to use as current dumps off my wind turbines. He also got for me my charge controllers. Not only is he the right guy to talk to if you're not really sure what you want, he's beaten every price I've ever got from anywhere else. So save yourself a fortune and contact him first - even if he is in the States. Tell him you got his details off my website.

    Those people who missed out on a university education, or want to improve their qualifications, or too busy to follow a traditional university course, or who are housebound with plenty of time on their hands, will appreciate the Open University.
    At one time or other I've fallen into all of those categories, but I now hold a B.Sc (Honours), a Diploma in Computing and a Diploma in Environment and Pollution Control, and now I'm studying for a B.A (Honours) in European Studies.
    I've learnt an awful lot of really useful knowledge and the virtual Students Union and system of on-line chat rooms and discussion groups means I've made lots of firm friends too.

Lucky too, in that I've made several friends throughout my life who have helped me greatly along the way and have stuck by me when the going has been tough (and believe me - sometimes tough isn't the word!)

  1. PAUL
    Paul and I go back to our wild days in Stoke on Trent and spent many happy days together pulling cars apart (in fact we still do now!). He finds all kinds of interesting things for me, like "sit upon" lawn mowers, old central heating systems, stationary diesel engines, and tows me back from Dover when I break down on my way to pick them up. Generally knows what I want, why I want it, and what I'm going to do with it, and gone out and found it down the tip, before I've even told him. First position in this list, in fact first position in any list. Without Paul I'd have been sunk a million times over and many of my projects would never ever even have left the ground. Here's to you, mate!

    Carole is my pal from up on the Scottish borders. She and her family are extremely nice people to know and when I travel up and down the United Kingdom, they always make me very welcome when I call by. They live about 25 or 30 miles off whichever route I'm taking, but it's a 25 or 30 mile detour that I am always pleased to make.

  3. MIKE
    Mike is another friend from my "Stoke on Trent" period.

Thirdly, what can I say about music? That's what drives me along. There's a lot about on the web and many people put their music up for free for downloading. I've downloaded music off the web, and it's provoked me to buy thousands of CDs off Amazon since. So download the music, but pay the artist later.

    From Vermont, USA. One advantage of having broadband here in Brussels is that you can get live internet radio from all over the world, and when you find a radio station that plays your kind of music, then you tend to have it playing all the time, which it used to be until it closed down.

    Band from the USA I first heard on Onion River Radio. Singing - well, sort of-ish, interspersed by long rambling guitar solos much like the 1970s. Right up my street. They have a free new download every week. If you download nothing else look out for live versions of "Pigeons", "Pleas" and the ubiquitous "Little Lilly"

    Quicksilver Messenger Service, "Mona", "Who Do You Love"? What more can anyone say? I remember sitting on the side of the stage at the Liverpool Empire in 1975 as he, Micky Jones and Deke Leonard blasted out "7171 551" (Michael Nesmith"s telephone number, incidentally). There never was another night like that.

  4. MAN
    We talked about Micky Jones and Deke Leonard (or at least, one of us did) a short while ago, so why not include them in. When I lived in Chester, Paul Grindlay used to play nothing but "Man" and was always dragging the rest of us along to see them. After the first time I didn't need no draggin', and even now I can be tempted to kickstart the zimmer frame and stagger down if they're playing in the vicinity. Unfortunately not too often these days; but none of us is getting any younger

    There are a few tracks to download, so you can hear why they get a listing on my "links" page. Or, rather, why Karen Peris gets a listing on my links page. Yes, she can sing to me all night.

    Masters of Spacerock. Another group from the early 70s that is still touring today. Another group for whom I would move mountains and cross deserts.

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