Tuesday, 16 October 2012

shy and retiring

Coming to the end of the trial period and the car is starting to hide away . Perhaps it doesn't want to go back to Nissan

Monday, 3 September 2012

I love to go a wandering

This is early morning at possibly the most isolated charging post in the North East at Alwinton at the foot of the Cheviots. It is clearly not a frequently used point as various creatures emerged as the socket door sprung open rubbing their eyes and groaning. It is, however, a crucially positioned post for us hill walkers. We may well have been left scratching our heads and buying 3a batteries in the local pub had the post not been operating or, heaven forfend, occupied by another set of booted and knapsacked electric ramblers.

This is the end my friend

Well to be more accurate it is Wallsend on a Friday night re charging while I help to erect scaffolding stands for a series of illuminated balloons mounted along Hadrian's Wall in honour of the Paralympics

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

side by side

its not often i fetch up against another leaf - but here at the Customs House in South Shields I found a charging friend. The journey to and from South Shields is an ideal one for electric miles; you can hardly go above 40mph so the mileage rate is very good and miles used seems almost to match miles travelled.
This is not the case when travelling to Darlington or even Newcastle if you cover a stretch at 60 or 70mph. Miles disappear at an alarming rate - i call it double time. P

cave drawings

worked with young people at The Cave in South Shields this week. The car co-ordinated well with their graffiti logo. p

health check

Called at Pallion Health Centre the other day and was able to use the charge point for the first time. Its not a publicly listed point and on previous visit it was occupied by a non-electric pharmacy van. P

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Batty Batty 123 Count

Devotees of the great sesame street will remember "The Count" and his numeracy song. Last night incorporated a visit at dusk to Stanhope to meet a bat survey team resplendent with not quite enough  midgy protection nets to go round, prepared for a bat count. Good job the local police had been tipped off in advance as this sort of dress code in the half light might be misconstrued.

In addition it is a good job that there has recently been a fast charge point installed just to the east of Durham City. Access to the very  top of Weardale and back  is now no problem. Excitingly the entrance to this new charge point is via a magnificently marked "Bus and electric vehicle only lane" which somehow makes me feel extra special .

Monday, 23 July 2012

Abbey Road

No pedestrian crossings- just a trip up to beyond Blanchland against a force 50 wind necessitating an emergency drop down to the evening peace of Hexham  to use the quick charge point outside the leisure centre and waitrose (with a distant view of the Abbey) in order to get enough puff to get back home.
On an unrelated note our attention has been drawn to the Nissan leaf's record breaking reversing speed attempt at Goodwood this year (70 mph apparently) . I am assuming that results in one big flat battery.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

This is cruise control to Major Tom

In a very long and informative conversation with a traffic warden ( lets call him David)  at a charging point the other day he tells me that they as a group of peaked caps have access to a pool car Leaf and they have an informal "ladder of achievement" in terms of maximum miles per charge. His discovery is the use of the cruise control button. To date I have ignored this button as a piece of nonsense but there is no doubt that it is better at using fuel than is my foot on the accelerator. Here am I sitting in a tin can with both feet free and only a steering wheel to play with. Time to practice some Irish dancing.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

My Way

Over the last two days I have zipped from Sunderland to Blyth and back , then to Newcastle and back , then to Wolsingham and back with small forays to Whitburn and Dawdon in between. I have purposely driven very economically and not exceeded 50mph . These are pretty representative local trips with Wolsingham at a 58 mile round trip being the longest. I, like Mr Sinatra, have travelled each and every highway, and while Mr S is obsessed with his own way of doing things, I have slavishly  followed the recommended driving methodology and can report that top wack distance on these sort of trips from a fully charged battery is 75 miles allowing a residual 5 miles to limp to a charging point.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Art for Arts sake

Up to Alnmouth to view the wonderful art and craft show in hidden nooks and crannies throughout the village. This requires another stop at Willowburn sports centre for a 30 min charge which only provided a 50 mile boost. Luckily this time we were able to start the charge again and squeeze an additional 30 miles in a 45 minute lunch stop regaled by the soft twang of the ukelele.
A brief chat with a curious sports centre user confirmed in a nutshell the general man in the carpark opinion of electric travel or rather the leaf in particular as follows:
" Is that one on those Leafs?
Don't they cost 30 grand and only do 100 miles. Maybe at 15 grand I would think about it"

Nissan marketing - think ont

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

look out it's coming in your direction.

The efforts of Diana Ross to attract someone's love and affection probably did not go completely unnoticed to the party concerned ( although I contend that you cannot "make " someone love you - this lyric ignores the concept of mutuality ) but this was clearly not the case with the EV on Saturday at the Sunderland festival at Herrington Park. We could have done with some of DRs somewhat unnecessary shrieking warning that she "is coming in your direction" while maneuvering around a wet muddy grass carpark along with thousands of drenched visitors to the great Olympic Torch event. I am not persuaded ( and neither was the carpark attendant ) that the Leaf makes enough manufactured noise at low speeds to give sufficient warning of our approaching "Lurv". There is supposed to be a low rumbling noise to warn pedestrians but I rather favour the idea that I should be able to select a noise of choice related to the specific situation. The car instantly recognises my iphone when I get in and starts to play selections form my itunes library . Why can't I at least select relevant  a ring tone as an approach  warning, or better still the chimes of an ice cream van.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Why do you build me up,Buttercup baby just to let me down

On a "slightly damp" friday evening we needed a quick electric boost and called in on the fast charger at Gateshead stadium. We had about 40 miles on the clock and assumed that the 30min charge would take us up to 100% . Apparently not. We reached a total combined charge of 82 miles in the allotted time. For obvious reasons of allowing other users access to charge, the system does not allow you to reconnect immediately following a charge,which was fine for where we needed to go that evening and is also a good idea in terms of fair access, but it has shot a hole in our plans to use the Hexham fast charger to give us enough boost to get to the Lake district. Its a good job we have the Foundations on the side lines always ready to ask the important questions in life.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Keep a knockin' but you can't come in

A well planned circiut yesterday started at Sunderland and took me to a meeting at Consett with a 32 amp recharge at the Albert road car park during the meeting. Then on to Newcastle followed by an evening return to Robert Soden's exhibition opening in Sunderland. Its a long climb up to Consett and me and the Leaf were feeling the strain so imagine my concern when the recently installed space age pod refused me access. Various phone calls later and a 30 min delay Roberto had to inform me that all his silky remote computer skills were not going to make my card open the correct charging door in the near future. Intermediate recharging had to be abandoned but I can tell you (and any C2C cyclist  will confirm this) its down hill all the way from Consett to Newcastle resulting in no battery miles being consumed over the entire route from Albert Road to the Scotswood bridge. Still, I have to say my confidence in the welcoming charge pod system has been slightly shaken.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Charging between points

I have just spent the last few days needing to drive back and forwards to newcastle more than once a day. The battery top ups required are  achievable now that we have a 32 amp charging post in the carpark beside the office. It's achievable that is as long as I am the only one using the post. As soon as Ged2 appears for his top up we will both have a timing problem. So the qualification is that I can manage relatively high daily mileages at the minute but probably only because I have a virtually dedicated network at my disposal.
In terms of charging point chats ( this is replacing the "water cooler") I had an interesting 10 minute discussion yesterday with someone I know that quickly moved from electric cars , to battery storage in general   to his own detailed need for an energy efficient flood lighting system all stemming from a little blue car with a wire stuck in its nose.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

multi coloured swap shop

Just been up to Newcastle and back in the Leaf , but in a conversation with a taxi driver taking me and my mother to the RVI ( there is no way to successfully drop Kate off safely while parking and there are definitely no special privileges for EVs in that hot bed of taxi and ambulance activity) he made an interesting point regarding the need for  "pit stop type" battery replacements for taxi drivers if EVs were ever to have any relevance in his working world. His vehicle cost him £25000 and needed to be run almost permanently to make the repayments, fuel costs and a living (possibly a tad on the sob story side).

Thursday, 17 May 2012

quick charge in Thornaby - a building site near a viking settlement

Travelling to Darlington from Sunderland - although it's only about 32 miles took half of my allotted pretend miles - 'electric miles' we know them as. It used up 50 of my electric miles due to driving on the A1 for part of the journey. so i decided to play it safe for the return ( another 52 miles were offered to me on the clock - but I can do without the ignominy of running out of power just before i get home thanks very much. So there's a quick charge point at Thornaby - a bit off my A1 route but only a small detour which would bring me home up the A19. The point didn't show up on my satnav and when i reached the nearby streets i was told that Wylam Court didnt exist, yet. Turns out it's a bit of a building site - just go through the site entrance and you'll find it. So after a tour around among the rows of parked white vans, lo and behold - my saviour - the quick charge point. It's called Electrobay Rapid Charger and it does what it says on the label. 10 mins should be enough and a chat on the phone to Anna while i wait - sorted. After about 8 mins, I said to anna - i'll have to go there's a security chap striding towards me. Mr Lindo he said his name was - and he was chuffed to see the charge point being used, he thought, for the first time. we chatted for quite a few super charged minutes - which luckily arent costing us anything during this trial otherwise i might have had to cut things short. Forgot to go and visit the 'facilities' which were advertised on the charge your car website - toilets and vending machine in the Cablecom reception. Must try them next time; sure to be back. p

Back to basics

For the first time in two weeks I drove a petrol car to Newcastle and back yesterday. It is a very strange experience. There is no regeneration of power whenever you slow down or brake gradually and it genuinely seemed shocking to me to be wasting such potential. The heater filled the car with luxurious warmth without an apparent loss of mileage which was lovely - but then I got to thinking what an inately inefficient machine the petrol engine is to be throwing away that much heat as a matter of course.
I can honestly say that my driving habits in terms of fuel efficiency have been radically altered  as a result of the electric car distance limitations. I'll be investing in a trilby hat before I know it.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Kathleen Ferrier knows of what she sings

Blow the wind southerly is  a beautiful ballad but its basic premise of blowing one home does not seem to apply to electric vehicles. In fact the opposite seemed to be the case last night in that an evening trip to West Allotment up the A19 with a strong wind behind made little difference to the mileage but presented a considerable invisible "wall" on the return journey. However, the wind free tyne tunnel with its uniform entrance and exit slopes seems to present a power neutral consumption zone. Thats useful then.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

finding a mate

for the first time since trialling this car - we came across another leccy vehicle parked at our chosen charge point as we arrived. A range rover based in Gosforth so we were told. We did wonder how far you could go on a range rover's full battery - since our only offers 100 miles and thats when we are driving carefully. Apparently the battery is big enough for the car to go 200 miles - probably no room for the dogs, passengers or whatever else you wanted to take though as the battery must be massive.  Turns out the electricity for this one goes in where the petrol would have gone. makes some sense.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could

I think it is time to talk about so called zero emissions. One only has to refer to Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews to know that nothing comes from nothing ( mathematicians please discuss) . I accept the reality of carbon generated in the production of mains electricity and the transmission loss inherent in getting the stuff to a convenient plug.
However I am trying to get my head around the potential for long term storage that these vehicles might offer. After all they are just large batteries sitting waiting for something to happen and with enough of them about they may provide a useful way of keeping and using intermittently generated electricity.
In retrospect perhaps our strap line of a zero emission journey should have had a question mark after it.

Thursday, 10 May 2012


Isnt it great when things just work out. it turned out that there is a charge point right outside the Discovery Museum where we were last night to see the Unthanks.  The Great Hall made a great venue and i was all charged up when i got back out. the concert was great too - i dont only think about cars and charging. pauline

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

time to talk

to calculate journey time anywhere in this car you need to add on 5 mins at each end to chat with the car park attendant or whoever happens to be passing, who are always interested to know what its like to drive.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

highly charged

A trip to Alnwick and Alnmouth needs a 15 minute quick charge at the Willowburn Leisure centre . A 20minute  chareg might have avoided the slight degree of range anxiety with only 5 miles showing on our approach to Sunderland. The seaky silence of the electric car resulted in our approach to the residence of Daisy going completely undetected by this  usually most alert dog.
Electric turny in wing mirrors are a boon while parking in the beautiful but very narrow Percy Terrace in Alnwick.

Friday, 4 May 2012

my left foot
My first proper drive in the electric car yesterday - ie on the roads with other traffic and not just on the nissan test track. Its very easy to drive once you get the hang of the feel of it - sort of suped up dodgem really - although dodgems didnt have reverse gear, or brakes did they?
Great acceleration and then there's the eco tree game - if you drive carefully and regeneratively you are awarded eco trees while you drive - i got one and a half trees today. In the international league i'm pretty well at the bottom - there is a man in japan with so many trees - he must do nothing all day but drive efficiently!
Seems that my left foot is not needed as there is no clutch and the left hand is pretty redundant once you are in gear. Pauline

Thursday, 3 May 2012

To infinity and beyond

Stanhope and back for a site meeting uses almost a full charge with about 5 miles spare. Driving with the equivalent of a 2 gallon tank concentrates the mind on driving economy. There is nothing like the threat of not getting back to the office the instantly adjust your driving style. An hour and a half slow charge outside the office gave enough power to get to Newcastle where I sampled the joys of the Cat and Dog shelter charging point on claremont road while biking to Benton and back. The electric car and a folding bike are a great combo.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Feeding time

Nissan Leaf safely landed and feeding quietly outside the office.
Off up the Wear valley  tomorrow with perhaps an emergency unscheduled stop in Bishop auckland for for a little pick me up.

Monday, 30 April 2012

There's a space for us

I have never yet seen an electric car charging at this bay, just  30m from our office, but tomorrow I predict it will be occupied by a Nissan leaf

Thursday, 26 April 2012

source of great power

just had the car charging pod fitted in the garage

way to go

Starting on Tuesday 1 May, we'll be running a 6 month test with a Nissan Leaf - 100% electric car.... 100 mile maximum charge - it'll be a challenge to see where we can get to - and still be able to get home.