Thursday, 14 May 2015

Testing our Target Dry waterproof windproof fleeces when motor racing

"What to wear?"

That's the big question every day when motor racing. Generally we plan for all four seasons, often twice in one day. Circuits are mostly old aerodromes, windy, cold and we race from Spring to Autumn, which in the UK means from wet, through wet, with sunshine at any time.

As any walker knows, pulling on waterproof gear, then taking it off, stowing it, then putting it back on again - wet - is not an easy or enjoyable task. So the discovery of the Target Dry waterproof and windproof fleece was a bit of a boon.

The first downpour we had there was some suspicion whether the fleeces really were waterproof so the macinsacs came on. Yes, some initial confusion with the fleeces over the macinsacs...  Our racing team colours are important in the Paddock and Pits so in general we wear the bright macinsacs so the Driver can find us.

As team gear the Target Dry fleeces are great because they come in both mens' Titanium and ladies' Platinum fitting - properly sized, so for a change the ladies don't look like we are wearing ill fitting sacks. They are thin, unlike other waterproof /windproof products which has pluses and minuses. On the one hand this makes them flexible, easy to wear over other clothing, you can work / walk / move in them well.

They are waterproof to 5000, and so far have proved to hold out the rain. They do take a fair while to dry though and you need somewhere to dry them overnight so I wouldn't go camping with one, or I would throw a poncho over it in a downpour.

I haven't got warm enough yet in one to know how breathable it it is!

They don't have much warmth to them so you do have to wear something under them if you want to keep warm in cooler weather - though they are good for warm weather use. On a cold day at Silverstone I resorted to wearing a down jacket underneath mine.

They are quite smart - for fleeces - and for us double up as our team "going out" jacket.

Target Dry provide our us with our fleeces at cost, and in turn we provide them with some advertising on our race car.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Can't turn back; inspiring film about mental illness

Late teens and early twenties is traditionally a time for campaigning for or against something. It's part of nature's way of developing character. For some this takes place as an academic exercise, for others it's an on-the-street. torch wielding, stone throwing event - or something in between.

I've been worrying of late of the "middle class malaise" that I encounter; of the comfort and seeming lack of need of many youngsters to engage with the world around around them. They feel no need to vote, indeed they don't know how to. They may hold opinions but they don't do anything with those opinions and for me, it's that lack of action, the inability, or lack of willingness to act on their beliefs, that I fret about.

But it's not all bad news. Every now and then I trip over an inspirational young person who is full of opinion - and ready to act. Samuel Bassett is a young film maker; a communicator still studying his art yet putting his ideas out for us to see. The short film, "Can't Turn Back" is a team project, and tackles mental health. They could have chosen something easy and sexy, like the London Fashion Show, design of the Shard building - topics that would have got them entry to events and loads of You-Tube hits. Instead they picked a topic that mattered to them.  And they did it proud.

Watch this. All the way through. They are right, once you've watched it, you can't turn back. Campaigning for the rights of those with mental illness is long, hard work.

Well done Sam.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Lessons from litter

Once a year the call goes out to villagers to pick up the litter that others have left in our ditches and hedges. Suitably gloved, garbed and bagged we clamber over, under, through and around brambles, thorns, nettles, branches and puddles to retrieve what others have discarded because they are too lazy to take it home or throw in in a proper bin.

We live in a beautiful area. However, many people are lacking in their manners. These are my reflections from my 2015 Village Litter picking exercise, specifically covering my own road.

  1. The only fast food packaging I found, and I found a fair bit of it, was for McDonalds. The only drive through fast food restaurant within 5-8 miles of our village that I know of is a McDonalds.  I hope the Aylesbury Town Council never allow another drive through facility.
  2. There was more evidence of lunchtime meal deals - sandwich, crisp packet, drink, complete with the plastic bag - than any other food items, specifically on my own stretch of road where it seems people turn off the A418 to have their meal.
  3. I know know which field entrance is the favoured one for the nighttime (well I hope it is the night time) drinks party, and which farm gate is the preferred place to stop for a lunch time snack. The lunch time snack place is a hazard as it's right on a blind rise of a unrestricted 60mph road and an accident waiting to happen.
  4. The good news is the items I phoned through on the Bucks Fly-tipping Line had been collected. We get a fair amount of building rubble dumped in the ditches down our road. The Fly-tipping Line actions these quickly. 
I shall check how long it takes before the first lunch time bag arrives.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Target Dry Macinasac Diary: Why we chose the macinasac

The Marshall & Fraser Racing Team is celebrating it's 55th year on the Club motor racing circuit (more about that another day). Club racing is down and dirty, wet and windy. It's not the glossy motorhome, all matching outfits, scene that you see on TV. No - it's messy, cold, and at times, quite miserable if you're not wearing the right gear.

As a team, what do we need from our clothing?

Firstly, we spend virtually no money on the clothing as it all goes on the car! We are totally self funding, and over 55 years have only matched three rounds of sweatshirts and fleeces - we make things last! One of the 1980's sweaters is still used regularly.  However, it's time for a bit of an upgrade.

Why we chose the macinasac
  1. Visibility; when the driver scoots into a busy pitlane he needs to be able to find his pit crew and on a wet day when everyone is in navy or black waterproofs this can be a bit of a trial and a safety hazard.  This is where the macinasac wins. We are also hoping we can put a macinasac on the driver so when he wanders off around the paddock we can find him again. Plus, we found a colour that is almost identical to the surf blue colour of our car which has been our brand colour for almost 55 years.
  2. Suitability; this is a huge, huge, issue. We need something that will work for all team members and in all situations. In particular, we need something windproof as this is one of the biggest weather challenges at motor racing circuits. We are a team of all ages and sizes - and many opinions. In the end, we figured you can put a macinasac over anything and anyone! We also discovered the Target Dry Platinum Fleece for the Men and the Titanium for the Women and are hoping this will work well as it is both waterproof and windproof.

  3. Ease of use; the macinasac packs small so it will be a piece of kit that can be kept handy. . Time will tell how easy it will be to use - or lose. There's been some debate about how easy it will be to wash and whether it will stand up to the rigours of the racing circuit. We'll see.

Working with Arran Andrews at Target Dry / MacinaSac we now have a supply of Caribbean Blue macinasacs for the Driver and Pitcrew/Engineers and Support Crew, and the Driver and Pit Crew/Engineers also have the Titanium Fleeces. Two of the ladies have purchased Titanium fleeces to test as well.

We're testing at Silverstone on Friday 27th March and the forecast is rain so expect the next update of this The Target Dry Macinasac Diary quite soon.

Customer service delights

Service that exceeds expectations depends on the level of expectation. I set off on a trip to Aylesbury with very limited expectations as I had a list that included transferring my ISA's from one bank to another, changing some personal details at another bank, discussing some end of year issues with my accountant, posting a parcel at the Post Office and providing my identify at my solicitors. Anticipating a lengthy morning I paid for three hours parking.  I was back at my car in under an hour.  That's right - under an hour.

The ISA transfer took less than two minutes with no queuing and no form filling. Stand up and take a bow, NATIONWIDE. I've yet to see the fruits of the transfer but, heavens. if the process worked, I am voting for Nationwide to take over the NHS.

Next up, the HALIFAX. I was expecting a tortuous administrative drama, but no, it was all sorted very quickly.

I hit some magic seam of no queue at the Post Office and that I will put down to luck.  The accountant and solicitor usually do a great job so my expectations were on target there.

The only negative in all this is I overpaid for my parking...

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Girlguiding County President for Buckinghamshire - What an Honour

Spring. New beginnings. A new blog and what a fabulous way to begin! I was delighted to be asked to work with the Buckinghamshire County Team and the County Commissioner for Girlguiding, Pauline Hall, as the County President for the next three years.

It sounds ever so posh and my grounds for agreeing included making sure I could still camp, get down, dirty and ordinary with the girls and young women, and do all the wonderful things that Girlguiding is about.  I'm so looking forward to being an active President and having the chance also to put my business experience to use as well.

When we lived in Lesotho in the 1960s, I was a Brownie and had the ignominy of my mother and her best friend, Pat Hancock being the joint Brown Owls. All I remember is they did a lot more giggling than we did. My best friend Edwina (Pat's daughter) and I, were a lot more serious than they were.  I expect the standards have improved.

My experience of the Guides was in the early 1970s in Bloemfontein, South Africa when I was at St Michaels School as a boarder. I worked out very quickly it was a way to get out and about, outdoors and into activities that I enjoyed. It was a godsend for someone like me and I treasured the weekly hour. We were a ragbag bunch and I don't think there was a matching uniform amongst us!

I understand I get a badge as County President.  I hope it's not one I have to sew on, as I don't think I ever managed to get the "sewing Badge" as a Brownie or a Guide.

Girlguiding is so important to young women. Did you know it's the largest youth organisation dedicated to the growth and development of young women in the UK today with nearly half a million members between the ages of 4 and 24? In the UK a quarter of all 8 year olds are Brownies and 1 in ten of all 11 years olds are Guides. If you'd like to get involved in your area then please get in touch via the Girlguiding UK Website