My first Land Rover Defender

The 40th Birthday whizzed along far quicker than I wanted, but then again 40 years is 40 years whoever you are, it took the same time for me as anyone else so I shouldn’t have been surprised.  Midlife crisis?  Nah, I’m just as childish now as I’ve ever been, still with Helen wearing trousers.pngthe same dreams as I had as a little boy.  No tact, no boundaries and I am not changing, what a lovely feeling of freedom!  So was I after a fast car?  Nope.  I was in the mood for a Land Rover Defender, the last time I drove one of these was the year 1990.

I was on the lookout for one, but Mrs Frantony wears the trousers in our relationship and she’s aware I’ve had a few fads in my time.

Then the phone rings, it’s LWB Landrover.pngmy mother’s father’s auntie’s uncle’s grandson’s brother’s sister sons cousins fathers friend of a friend who knew someone who said he knew of a friend whose neighbours friend of a friend is selling a Land Rover Defender 110, “N” reg year 1996 and its orange.

 

So immediately I went on my way to see it…..and what was it?  Well it was a Land Rover Defender, so they got that bit right, but it was a 90 not a 110, and it wasn’t orange, it was blue and it was “D” reg, making it the year 1987.

First DefenderI test drove it with the owner sitting in the passenger seat.  Now for those of you who have never driven one of these, imagine you’re sitting on a milk crate, that’s on top of an 8×4 sheet of ply, balancing on 4 rocks.  Your hands are then holding on to a Ferris wheel that’s welded to a scaffolding bar……if you can?  That’s what it’s like!

YEP….You get the idea,woohoo.png thankfully by the power of the Land Rover Defender GODS…….The farmer…..back in 1987 when he bought it new, paid extra for the power steering option….WOO HOO!! Thank you Mr Farmer….whoever you are!

What am i doingThese were my exact words whist test driving the vehicle “What on earth am I doing?  I have no idea why I would want one of these?”

It clunked clanked, the steering wheel was so BIG, I had no elbows left after the test drive; the gear box is as loose as a cigarette swinging around in the Albert Hall (now that’s loose…I’m sure you’ll agree).

In fact this is what a Land Rover Defender gear box looks like compared to a normal car

 

Car      Normal gearsCompare gears     Defender

The clutch was heavy, my muscles were growingIMAG3024 every time I pressed the pedal, and I had only driven it 3 miles.  I wanted to cry, my mind thinking “Shall I still buy it or not?”  But I was in a bartering mood and I wanted to see what I could buy it for.  Well, after what seemed like days, he cracked before me and the Land Rover was mine.

 

Taj MahalAs I said this was a 1987 Defender 90, so if you turned the heating on HOT in the freezing cold and drove around all day, even if you drove to the Taj Mahal in India and back again….(by the way I live in Wales)…..it will neverIce Cube get warm.

When it rained it leaked, and if it was freezing cold and it rained…..well….. you’d be like a block of ice.

But let me tell you why I LOVE them and what’s GOOD about them and why they’re so UNIQUE! You can drive them anywhere and everywhere, mud or snow it stills feels like you’re driving on a clear road.  They take all the stress out of driving, you can park them at any angle in any space and it won’t get dented.  You’re able to drive through any gap because the car opposite you will always stop.  When it comes to curbs on the side of the road…..it’s impossible to scuff the alloy wheels.  The turning circle’s not great but then parking is easy as the front and rear are flat, so you can see each end.

But after five months Bye landroverI decided to sell it and within two days it was sold.

Now this where it gets tricky and something I didn’t see coming, it was as if an S.A.S Land Rover Defender visited me in my dreams and toyed with my psyche Landrover under skinevery day.  I wished I hadn’t sold it, I woke up one morning and I finally realised just how GREAT they are and I needed to be driving another one.  I knew that the Land Rover Defender was under my skin.

It was then I had to sit down with Mrs Frantony and tell her the news that I wanted Landrover_editedanother one but this time with a bit more creature comfort. It took me just over a year to find the right one I wanted, for the right price.  So here it is.

If you don’t have one…..then get one, you will smile like you’ve never smiled before!!

 

So……. on 29th January 2016, at 10am, the last LandRover Defender Crying.pngwill roll off the line.  What a sad day for such a great iconic vehicle, there is no other vehicle on the road like it…. I think I might cry…….

 

As this is the Easy blend, I’d thought I’d let you know what I’m listening to. Today it’s Bruce Hornsby and the Range – The way it is.

You can find out more about my book ‘Farrago: Ten Tall Tales’ and buy it here…. (click on the cover)

Full cover single

Until the next Easy Blend blog……….. 

Stay warm and fuzzy……..

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A Mini Power Ranger

Mrs Frantony had left for the hair dressers.  As well as having a hair cut she was having lots of colours put in her hair, and I mean lots of colours, so I knew I had an easy 3 hours to myself. Mrs Frantony.png

Now before Mrs Frantony takes all my pocket money away and puts a curfew on me, she doesn’t really look as bad as I’ve drawn her.  Although in the mornings…….No…No!  Stop it Dave!  And before you think it, Mrs Frantony doesn’t walk around like she has silly string on her head!

Anyway it was a lovely sunny day with no more than four clouds in the sky (I know….I counted), so there was only one thing to do, and that was to go for a long ride on my motorcycle up into the Brecon Beacons.

I wheeled my lovely bright green Kawasaki Ninja out of the garage and onto the drive.  ThFeet in concreteen it was time to put on my two piece leathers (which by the way can be an ordeal).  Taking deep breaths, I slid into my leather trousers and eventually they reached my waist.  Now for the boots…..

When I bought them in the shop they looked awesome, but when you’re wearing them it’s like having your feet set in two blocks of concrete.  So before zipping up my fly and doing up the button, the boots have to go on first – I just can’t bend over enough otherwise.

The jacket is next, then the buff around my neck and……Picking money upand let this be a lesson for all bikers around the world, the helmet is next and THEN the gloves.  Because even if your life depended on it, you’ll never find or feel the strap, it’ll be like trying to pick up coins off the floor with boxing gloves on.

Alright, this is the bit that is top secret but it’s been awhile, so I’m willing to tell you my super-dooper trick that helps Traffic lightsme ride the bike that little bit easier.  I’m not the tallest of people, so when I sit on the bike my both feet cannot touch the floor.  Sports bikes are very high….or I’m very small.  Now, the trick is that I have to bend over in the kitchen and spray polish on my backside.  Yep it works; it helps me slide on the seat ready to put my one foot down on the floor at traffic lights.

So I’m ready for the ride out when the phone rings…. off come the gloves and the helmet.  It’s Mrs Frantony, “Dave…I’ve forgotten money, bring me some down to pay the hair dresser.”

I de-tour my ride-out to the hair dresser’s with the money in my pocket and pull up outside; in front of the huge window where everyone in the world is Camberhaving their hair cut, apart from me, and this is where it all starts to go wrong.  There’s a huge camber in the road next to the pavement that was modelled on a camels hump.  There was a sign up saying “NO PARKING.”  It should have read “Can’t park!”

This was a problem for me with my short legs, I lean the bike to the right with my right leg down so my left leg can put the stand down.  But the stand only goes halfway down because it touches the camber in the road and I’m unable to push the bike forward from being tip toe with my right leg.  The window of the hair dresser was as big as a cinema screen; I could feel my head boiling up from the heat of everyone’s eyes looking at me not being able to get off the bike.

Mrs Frantony sees it’s me and looks the other way  burying her face in a magazine as the girl putting the colours on hair shouted out to the other people having their hair cut “Look hoHairdresser windoww small he is on that bike! He looks like a mini Power Ranger.”  After what felt like days, even weeks, I decided that my wife will have to pay the hair dresser another day.  I started the bike up shaking my head, not sure whether to laugh or cry, wondering if I’d be stuck on my motorcycle for the rest of my life never to get off!

Luckily no one knew it was me with my full face helmet on and dark visor, I quickly rode off to the Brecon beacons psyching myself up for either Mrs Frantony to laugh when I get home or just shake her head in disbelief at what she has married….

Thumbs up

 

As this is the Easy Blend, I thought I’d let you know what I’m listening to.  Today it’s The Damnwells – Golden Days

Don’t forget, you can buy my book Farrago: Ten Tall Tales here…. (click on the cover)

Full cover single

Until the next Easy Blend blog……….. 

Stay warm and fuzzy……..

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The Doctors appointment

Suit 2.pngSo we’re in the Doctors surgery, my seven year old son had just been called over the speaker. I knocked the door as I entered (I’m a nice polite person you see).  The Doctor was sitting on his chair.  He was a big guy, unlike me (a small guy), but it looked like he was wearing one of my suits….his jacket sleeves were just past his elbows and his trousers were like shorts.

“Close the door! Are you the Dad?”

“Why, YES!” I answered, thinking that was a strange question!

 

“Hello little boy…..would you like some stickers?” My IMAG2886son looked at me then nodded YES.  I’m sure you’re thinking the same as I was…. Batman, Spiderman, Sponge Bob, Angry Birds……..  But no…. this is what he meant by ‘stickers’.

 

My son looked back at me with the same look as I had on my face, thinking this Doctor cleshocked face2.pngarly needs to order himself a tight fitting straight-jacket and change the magnolia paint on the walls for some padded cushions.

So after composing myself and explaining about my son’s Tonsillitis and that he’d had a bad run of it for over a year when he was much younger, the Doctor, from his short suit pocket, pulled out his mobile phone and switched on his flashlight app (I am now shocked to the core of my bones at what I am seeing!).

 

“Hmmmm….. I can’t see much?”Phone light.png

I thought to myself “DUH!”

There were two pieces of equipment on the wall to the side of me. “Dad, pass the trumpet looking one off the wall to me?”

Not knowing which one he meant, I took a guess. “NO, not that one!  Does that look like a trumpet?”

At this point I decided that whatever respect I had for him had gone right out of the window.  So for legal reasons, and for this story we’ll call him “Muppet”

“Well to be fair ‘Muppet’…. technically….. none of them are actually, a trumpet!” I passed him the right piece of equipment and he then began to take a look into my son’s throat (this time able to see).

He looks at my son “So….I think your Dad wants me to give you Antibiotics…… even though they’re not going to do much.” He turned to his computer, pressing on a few Bus stopbuttons till the prescription came out of the printer.  He turned to my son, “Go to the printer and get the prescription for me.”

Now the printer wasn’t in another country that required a passport, it wasn’t even three bus stops away.

It wasn’t even in another room in the Doctors surgery! It was an inch away from his elbow.  I quickly looked around the room to see, if I was being filmed for a Saturday night entertainment programme.  You know the ones where they put your face in a little square at the bottom right of the TV Screen, as I watch and laugh at myself in the hope that after this, the TV presenter thanks me for being a good sport and sends me on a free holiday courtesy of “You’ve been made to look like a right twit on national television.”

But NO! I wasn’t even in the twilight zone….this, my friends was a real moment in time…he was actually a real life Doctor.  Yep….in a surgery with a proper roof, walls and windows and a reception area with a real receptionist, in a real town with people made of flesh, it has real roads……and the sky was above us…..staying up in the air (not like in Chicken Licken)………. it was all real!

 

As this is the Easy Blend, I thought I’d let you know what I’m listening to. Today it’s Matt Nathanson – Come on get higher

You can find out more about my book ‘Farrago: Ten Tall Tales’ and buy it here…. (click on the cover)

Full cover single

Until the next Easy Blend blog……….. 

Stay warm and fuzzy……..signature

First Monday after leaving school

Hi there! So you’ve found my first Easy Blend Blog, the first of many.  Every short story that you read will be true, all seen through my eyes, my beautiful brown eyes.

Well……. who am I? Bit of a tricky one that, but I will do my best to explain.

On leaving school in 1989 on a Friday afternoon with only a few qualifications to my name, I started an apprenticeship on the Monday as a Panel Beater (what a bizarre place full of odd people!). On the first day, at 16 yrs old sitting in reception I knew I wanted something different, something unusual for myself, but not knowing what or how to get there?  After qualifying and trying another garage I needed to move on and try something new.

Some of the managers I’ve had to deal with before the days of HR…… where do I start? One would say to me “Dave…..shape up or ship out”

Shape up or ship out

 

Or “Dave….I’m watching you!”

My reply would be “I know….because I’m watching you watching me!”

I once worked with a man who was retiring, both of us doing the same job both on the same pay, I knew then there was no growth for me if I stayed. I was thinking “Live one day here and you’ve lived them all!”

I called and spoke to a recruitment officer “I want a new job doing something different”

Dave on phone“Well Dave what else have you done?”

“Nothing, I’ve only been out of school for 7 years.”

And then this was the start of it all, he said “If I was you I’d just stick to that.” and he put the phone down. I thought ‘no way, I only have one life, you have to try things, in fact try as many things as you can.’  It’s what builds and gives you character.

 

Welding

From the garage I worked in a factory standing by a machine all day making seats for cars. I was also chief Mig welder, so if the robots burnt holes in them which very often happened, I would re-weld them by hand.

 

French factory2.png

 

Working there, I had the experience of working in a factory in France for a month.

 

 

Forklift2

 

The forklift drivers thought they were in formula 1, they could hardly see anything from the smoke in their eyes coming up from the cigarette that never left their lips.

 

Down the drain2

From there it was back to college and a change of direction, I had the chance to become a building engineer. So for the next 4 years I obtained my ONC/HNC in Building Engineering, but half way through the company went down the drain and in to liquidation.

 

I had paid for the rest of the qualification myself and carried on with my studies while at the same time starting up my own business in building and maintenance. After a few years it was time for a change and a good idea came to mind.  Now before I go any further I have since learnt that a good idea is not always a good idea.  So I opened up a Tapas Bar.

I loved the chase, and the organising of turning a derelict old shop and drug den in to aTapas Bar nice swanky up-market Tapas Bar, and I did. But you see, the very night it opened I stood across the road as it filled with people, I could hear the sound of the live band playing, see the name lit up outside and my heart sank and I thought “What now?”  As time ploughed on, I got fed up of the smell of money on my hands, (yep you read right) the smell of cash on my hands at the end of the day wasn’t a nice experience for me.  There are two sides to every bar, a fun side and a business side; well I recommend you stay on the fun side…. so it was time to sell up.

 

Now whilst all of this was going on I was also on the circuit of public speaking (I loved it) in schools and colleges, encouraging people how to think differently, to create new things and ideas in their lives. As the saying goes “Never allow your predicament to predict your future.”  Oooofff….. deep right?

Back burnerI was then involved as a Business Coach for organisational excellence. I love it, I was a natural at it, and that’s not thanks to me.  It’s just there, maybe where I’ve been and how I thought has shaped my mindset and this is what I’m searching for, the buzz word for me “Contentment”, that’s where the money is and it doesn’t smell, so back to University to do my PG.Dip in Business Coaching.  It’s still there on the back burner….

This got me thinking back to my school days and back to my childhood dreams, and for me it was acting and being involved in the Arts, so thats where I headed.

A lot of evening acting classes later, some small parts and voice-over work started to come in and eventually my goal was to have my Equity card.  A director at the BBC asked if I had ever done any radio if not then I should, so I was on the phone to the local radio station.

Man on radio

I was told to come in for a chat, they said I had the personality for it and the following month I was live on air. Several years later and still on the radio – I love it!

Finally I am writing alongside everything else,. Well, I have just finished my book of short stories ‘Farrago: Ten Tall Tales’ which will be followed by my novel which is in the editing stages.  My second book of short stories is about to begin so I’ll let you know once they are tangible enough to read.

The following observational stories of my Easy Blend blog are of the encounters through my life so far and there are so many. So I want you to join me on this journey in a hope you will smile and giggle whilst a warm and fuzzy feeling grows in you…….. it will do wonders for you.

 

As this is the Easy Blend I thought I’d let you know what I’m listening to.  Today it’s Peter Gabriel with Afro Celt – When you’re falling

You can find out more about my book ‘Farrago: Ten Tall Tales’ and buy it here…. (click on the cover)

Full cover single

Until the next Easy Blend blog……….. 

Stay warm and fuzzy……..signature