August 16, 2015

A Sunday Drive in the New MX-5

Everyone knows that I'm a big fan of the Mazda MX-5, the best selling roadster of all time.  If this is news to you then you should check out my posts Happy Birthday, Little MX-5MX-5 Owners Club National Rally 2014, and Goodwood Festival of Speed.

This month marks the UK launch of the fourth generation of MX-5.  I'd already seen the new car on a static display at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, but was delighted to be invited by Mazda to a VIP event in the Cotswolds where I'd be able to drive the car.  Needless to say I took my camera along too...

It was great to be able to compare the new MX-5 to my 20 year old first generation model and see how the design and technology have moved on.  For a start, the 1.5l engine of the new car is great and so much more spritely than the 1.8l in mine and I guess more economical too.  There is a 2.0l version of the new MX-5, but I can't see why you'd need it.  That said I did have some fun with a fellow test driver who had the 2.0l model - he couldn't match me on the corners (due to my skill, I'd like to think!), but on a hill climb he beat me comprehensively.

The short-throw gearbox makes for quick gear changes and the brakes are really sharp compared to my car.  The accelerator pedal seemed odd at first but I quickly took to it.  The new car certainly has a lot less rattles too!

The gadgets and gizmos really put my car to shame.  Integrated satellite navigation and entertainment system, power steering, built-in USB chargers, nifty cup holders (which I found also make great lens holders!), climate control, heated seats had me drooling with desire.

For me it's an almost perfect car, greatly doing what it's designed to do.  The only three niggles I could name are that the steering feels too light for me (I think it's 'fly by wire' and you get very little feedback), the two exhausts are on one side rather than one on each side (my OCD likes symmetry), and the lack of pop up headlights (due to pedestrian safety laws).

So, will I be buying one?  Absolutely.  Well, in a couple of years when the prices fall.  Of course, if any readers want to do a car swap or buy me a new MX-5 then get in touch!


A fellow test driver zoom zoom zooms past.
Damn you red light!
The flared arches make for a nice wide look.
X marks the spot.
Luckily I took my friend Ryan along to do some driving, giving me chance to take some photos.
The detail of the coloured seat stitching.
Looking good!
The pearlescent white paint looks beautiful close up.
The exhausts give a characteristic raspy note.
I still think my car is better looking, if only it had everything else from the new model!




August 11, 2015

Shaun in the City

Sometimes it's hard to find inspiration for photography.  Sometimes it's easy, especially when someone does the most of the work for you.  That's what happened with Shaun in the City.  Lots of interesting photography subjects, many with people willingly posing for photos, and even a map to guide you to the subjects!

Shaun in the City is a charity art trail in Bristol.  It's organised by Wallace & Gromit’s Children’s Foundation to raise money to support children in hospitals across the UK.  The trail features Shaun the Sheep, a character from a TV series and movie by Bristol-based Aardman Animations.  There's a flock of 70 Shaun's across the city, each one sporting a different pattern.

The trail is on until the end of August and if you do it then I'd recommend you use the mobile phone app to find your way around.  It's a small cost, but gives a map to find where the Shaun's are and gives you a little reward each time you register one!  I won't give too much away but it really adds fun to the experience.  Just remember to turn your volume right up.

I spent a couple of hours walking around the city centre area of Bristol and managed to see fourteen Shaun's.  Just ten of them are featured below.



Green Poems for a Blue Planet at Bristol 2015 lab.
Lily at Lower Castle Street.
Woolly Wonderland at St. Nicholas Market.
Beach Boy at Cascade Steps, Harbourside
Bagpuss Shaun at Cabot Circus
Cecilia at The Galleries.
Shaun on the Cob at Broadmead.
Baa-Wulf at the Bristol Hippodrome.
Lamb Chop at Bristol Bus Station.
Life Aquatic at Bristol Aquarium.


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