Wednesday, 4 December 2013

All I want for Christmas is an electric car

I love electric cars, I’d love to have one, but I can barely afford to keep the car I have on the road, never mind an electric one too and let’s be honest, range anxiety is still a very real thing (and the sort of electric car I could afford wouldn't have range as a selling point). For sure the situation will improve with time and the network of charging points is increasing, but who wants to have to stop every couple of hours on a long trip?

That there is why I love what +Tesla Motors are doing with their cars, they’re starting from scratch and really thinking the whole problem through. They’re slowly working their way towards mainstream, but of course they have to start somewhere. More power to them, at least they’re taking the risk at being at the cutting edge of this, which is risky.

There’s reasons for the high cost of the cars, of course there is, as +Elon Musk mentioned in his recent blog post, but at the same time this slows down the time it takes for the technology to get mainstream. The more people who have electric cars, the more charging stations; more infrastructure will then push up adoption figures. Plus the more people who own electric cars and the more they can provide useful feedback and usage figures which will help improve the technology.

The sort of media coverage they've been getting recently may not help, even with great responses by Elon (see the above linked blog post); they need users who will actively push the good news into the social media and traditional media.

As a software developer I see it all too often that the best way to understand whether you've developed something right is to test it and take notes of how it is used and how the users feel about it and I think the situation is the same here.

I'm never going to afford a brand new top-of-the-line Model S, frankly it’ll be years before I’ll be able to afford a decent used electric car. So I did what any sane person would do, I wrote to them and asked them to send me a free car in exchange for regular reviews, blog posts and articles. Unfortunately I haven’t had a reply, but that doesn't mean I'm giving up hope.

If they considered a lease type offering, that could work out similar to the costs of running an internal combustion vehicle. You see with tax, insurance, fuel and maintenance that can cost a fair amount each month; and whilst there would be a hike in my electricity bill, I’d imagine that I’d be able to work around that considerably.

We've had a new Sainsbury's supermarket open in Penzance and that, rather helpfully, includes an electric car charging point. We simply change from monthly shops to weekly, change where we normally do our shopping and have a meal there in their excellent cafe to extend charging times. Our food shop bill will go up a little, but against the savings being made on our car running costs it’ll probably be negligible. Whenever we’re planning a trip away we’ll have to do an overnight charge at home (on Economy 7) and plan around en route charging points.

No, I haven’t thought much about this…

I really want an electric car and I can’t wait until they become mainstream! I want to be involved in making them mainstream.

The tales of an electric car towing a caravan and being used successfully away from home for a week or doing fairly ordinary journeys like Cornwall to Bristol, Cornwall to London, Cornwall to North Wales would make people rethink about range anxiety. Having an electric car that is fast enough to compete in races is one thing, but what about an electric car that can be used by a family with minimal or even no inconvenience? Now that’s something that’s going to encourage uptake, and in turn encourage the infrastructure to improve.

What I’d like to see Tesla do now is some sort of subsidised lease programme, with all costs included (except electricity), in exchange for enhanced coverage of the vehicles. Like an extended test drive crossed with Peugeot's “just add fuel” scheme… I can see the branding now, “Tesla, just add leccy”. But seriously, this would be a way to get an advanced electric vehicle in the hands of an average car driver for a year and really accelerate the whole process. I’d like to nominate myself for the scheme; I’ll take a red model S with a towbar please or a charcoal Model X, if they’re coming soon...

Sunday, 13 October 2013

And more than two months have gone by...

It's been quite a while since I last did a catchup post, over two months now! So this one won't be quite as detailed as the others, but more of a quick skim through what I/we have been up to. Be warned, it is long.

We've met up with some friends who have come down here to be the Corps Officers (Salvation Army church leaders) in St Ives. Lucy was meeting them pretty much for the first time, for me it was more of a huge catch-up, having not seen either of them for many years. Having now met a few times I'd like to think we're well on our way to becoming good friends. We're just trying not to think about the fact that they'll have to move away in a few years...

As a sure sign that Isaac is growing bigger, we bought a car seat and I blogged about our choice. We had been fortunate that he had managed to fit in his first car seat for almost the first two years of his life and went for a rear-facing model to maximise safety.

Also related, Isaac's gone from barely walking to now running around quite confidently (apart from the other day when he took a tumble on the road outside our house and managed to graze his forehead...)

Early in September we bought a caravan, to allow us to take some holidays away from home. We wanted a particular model of folding caravan (a Rapido Export-matic) so I travelled all the way to Kent to pick one up at a very good price. Unfortunately on the way home one of the tyres burst and did some damage to the floor, but it's all repairable. The caravan also turned out to be the slightly older Export model, but it's not much difference. We're looking forward to getting her out and exploring some more of this country near and far. We've already decided that our first week away needs to be the New Forest, but we'll probably take her for a weekend somewhere closer to home.

Now we just need to get that garage sorted so we can fit her in!

Mid September Isaac had his second birthday! Woo hoo! I took the day off and we headed to Lappa Valley Steam Railway. We had an awesome day, despite some dodgy weather. Here are some photos:

Towards the end of September Lucy's family all came down to see us, which was lovely. We saw Mousehole and St Ives and on their way back up the county we popped into St Agnes for lunch on the Sunday. Isaac had loads of fun throwing stones into the sea with Nanny in the rain!

When they'd all cleared off we set to work turning the spare room of old into Isaac's bedroom (so now there's even more in the garage... oops). There's no rush to get him to sleep in his own bed, but he's loving having his own space to play in etc.

This last week I've been off work, which has been lovely. We originally planned the week off to use the caravan, but circumstances meant we had to adapt. We used the week to get some stuff done around the house, and make a bit of room in the garage (thanks to a car boot sale on Sunday). We didn't waste it all in the house though, we went to soft play, visited Lands End, went swimming at a great pool with slides and we also went on walks around the village.

Last but not least, here's some highlights from various parts of the internet:

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Jesus Is Lord!

Having started a series on the fundamentals of our faith, some time back, it seems like I missed a step really. So in this post I'm going to backtrack and start from the very beginning. Since I started the series on this blog, I'll keep it here, but future posts of this nature will probably be posted on the Mission Cornwall blog.

We absolutely believe in Jesus of Nazareth, called the Christ or Messiah, and that He was the son of God.

We believe in a trinitarian god-head, or as the old song puts it "God in three persons, blessed trinity". We believe that there is a Father/Creator, the Holy Spirit who is the breath of God and Jesus, the son of God and son of man.

We believe in the Bible, although we don't believe the story ended there - I guess that one is a post all in itself.

We believe wholeheartedly that Jesus came to save, to heal and to inaugurate the new covenant and the coming of God's kingdom. The arrival of God's kingdom is, for us, simultaneously past, present and future. That is, it started with Jesus and, to quote Jesus, it is "at hand" - that is to say both here-and-now and also imminent.

We believe that Jesus started a movement that would be announce the coming kingdom and catalyse it's creation. They became Christians and they, in turn, became paganised by the Roman establishment.

So today we find ourselves Jesus followers, but not always 100% sure of what that means, hence the need to explore our fundamentals in the first place!

I think that's enough for a fundamental, I'll get working on some more posts soon, otherwise these won't be "Fundamentals 2013" any more...

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Win an iPhone 5C

I'm pretty fortunate to be able to review a fair few bits of technology, thanks to my awesome writing skillz and some great contacts. OK, so mostly is the good contacts, but anyway, I digress.

This is a quick post, I'll be posting a humongous catch-up post soon, hopefully, but in the meantime I have some news to share with you. Following the announcement of the new iPhones, one of those aforementioned awesome contacts, the wonderful people at, have announced a competition to win an iPhone 5C.

I'm quite impressed with the concept of the 5C, to be honest, I like the fact that Apple are slowly widening their portfolio and introducing a cheaper (if not exactly cheap) iPhone with all the same attention to detail they are known for. I can't see them ever bringing out a truly budget phone, but this is a step in the right direction.

Back to the competition, it's incredibly easy to enter and it's one of those competitions where you get more entries the more you share etc. Of course the more you share, the more other people get a chance to win... make a wise choice! ;-)

If you win you will, of course, be needing some accessories for your iPhone 5C, and of course Mobile Fun just happen to cover everything you could possibly need.

If you win, please thank me in the form of £50 notes... Or chocolate will do...

In terms of getting back to general blogging, watch this space, the last month and a half have been jam-packed, so there's plenty to tell you!

As they say down these parts, cheers and gone!

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

A quieter week

So following an adventurous week with family last week was a little quieter, which has it's advantages.

That way Dada!
Sunday we went to Godrevy to walk a little further around the headland than we'd been before, which was lovely. We enjoyed seeing the wild ponies grazing around there too and we even managed to see a seal! There are apparently usually loads there but never any when we go, so to see one was a significant improvement!

Ponies, sea and a lighthouse

Also at Godrevy Isaac had his first ice cream! He's had tastes of ice cream before, but between his early dairy problems and the coldness of it he's never been that interested. It was a pretty hot day and we could all do with some cooling down so we got an ice cream. Isaac managed to eat pretty much the whole of his ice cream with only a little help from Mama and Dada, it wasn't what we were expecting!

Monday I had a bright idea and I'm now using IFTTT (If This Then That) to aggregate all of my online activity into a Google Drive spreadsheet, making it easy for me to see at a glance when I come to write this weekly summary. If you haven't come across IFTTT, I wrote an article on it some time ago for Other than that it was a quiet day.

Tuesday Canonical/Ubuntu announced the Ubuntu Edge campaign on IndieGogo, and I just had to dream about being able to get involved!

That evening we went to the library to return, renew and checkout books; Tuesday is their late opening day, which means we can get there after I finish work and not feel that we have to rush!

Whilst we were there Isaac decided he would help the staff and rearrange some of the children's books. I took plenty of pictures and Google+ animated it for me!

Thursday the weather turned quite dramatically although it wasn't as stormy as other parts of the country had it. That didn't come until Sunday.

Friday I signed/shared a petition asking for Stricter Controls Over Bumblebee Imports, relating to how some imported bees are bringing parasites into the country and negatively affecting our native populations.

More importantly (!) Friday was our 5th Anniversary! We celebrated at a lovely Italian restaurant in Penzance.

Saturday morning I was at the village Farmers Market, trying to flog some beautiful books. Isaac and I then made the most of the break in the weather to do a bit of gardening, but was rudely interrupted by the ice cream man...
Photo by +Lucy Lumm
That afternoon despite the weather starting to look a little dodgy we decided to head to Praa Sands to walk a little further along the coastal path than we have previously. It looked like it might rain, but we decided it wouldn't be too bad.

When we got there the weather was glorious. The water was so warm we both regretted not having our costumes! Thank goodness we always carry essentials in the car: bucket and spade, beach shelter and blanket!

Only, it was the wrong type of sand for building sandcastles... too dry:

So instead we had lots of fun walking in the sea!

Whew, well it took me until Wednesday to write it all up, better get started on this weeks report!

Friday, 26 July 2013

A fabulous week with family

When I originally started writing this post I got very excited that I'd managed two weeks in a row, but unfortunately life happened and it's taken me from Saturday until now to finish it. Oh well, I tried...

This week, from Saturday to Saturday we had Lucy's sister and brother-in-law (also known as Aunty Siân and Uncle Rich) come and stay with us; I took the Monday and Friday off to spend some quality time with them and we had a fantastic week!

via Instagram
Saturday started by preparing for our guests, after a long and hot journey we weren't sure what they'd want to do, but thankfully they choose wisely: a trip to the beach.

We went to Carbis Bay and had tea on the beach (our usual pasta). Despite being late it was still plenty hot enough to get in the water. Later on Isaac found a pre-dug hole and played in it with his aunty and uncle, telling them when to run in and when to get back out.

Crotched bike at Heartlands
Sunday we took Uncle Rich to see Heartlands, which was a project his company had worked on, and Isaac showed off his walking in the Red River (Instagram video).

It was a very hot day and we really felt for the guy wearing Victorian dress driving a horse-drawn omnibus. After that Rich had to travel back to Bath for the evening, so the rest of us chilled out in the garden with some help from the paddling pool. This was interesting given the back door is still broken...

Once the evening cooled down we went for a walk through the village.

Monday, my day off, we went to St Ives. We crammed in lots that day, including a train ride, a meal out, cream tea and a trip to the Barbara Hepworth garden (a new one for Lucy, Isaac and I). I'll let the pictures speak for themselves:

Over the next few days I was back at work and Lucy and Isaac stayed at home to allow our guests to explore on their own. They were on holiday after all! I'm not sure I can remember what we did on Tuesday evening, but I do know that Isaac took his first unsupported steps between the two of us:

Wednesday evening we joined Siân and Rich in Mousehole for a little stroll. The tide was right out, so Isaac made the most of the revealed beach:

Google+ generated this animation
via Instagram

That evening Isaac decided he'd rather co-sleep with his aunty and uncle, which made for a pretty cute photo opportunity!

Thursday our guests treated us to a lovely home-made lasagne, despite having spent all day at the beach. Whilst they were busy sweating in the kitchen us three got out of their way and went to one of the parks in the village, although it was far too hot to be outside without any shade... whew!

Friday I took another day off and we all headed off to Kynance Cove. Siân and Rich had discovered it earlier in the week, which was exciting as we had never been! Unfortunately the tides weren't on our side and we started out squeezed on the beach - but that was fine as we spent lots of time in the water.

Isaac also practised his walking even more, and really enjoyed walking in and out of the sea! (Google+ animation supplied to prove it)

Despite the wind and the slightly chilly seas it was really nice to spend lots of time in the water.

The plus side of arriving at high-tide was the slow reveal of the next part of the cove. In fact we got a little impatient and walked through chest-height water to get around to it.

I carried Isaac round on my shoulders, something he loves doing anyway!

Because the tide was still separating several parts of the cove it was like being on a tropical island! There were also bits of beach you could only get to either by walking around the cliffs through water or by walking through caves; very exciting!

Friday ended with a rather disastrous attempt at a barbecue, but we did our best to enjoy ourselves anyway!

Saturday we had American pancakes for our breakfast and said our goodbyes as our guests headed home. But did we rest? Oh no, we headed down to Penzance for a nice stroll and a go in the big park!

Right... it's taken me so long to type this one that I'd better get working on writing the next weekly summary!

Friday, 12 July 2013

What a lovely week!

It's time for a weekly catch-up! Surprised I'm following through? Me too... That being said it's been too good a week not to share ;-)

So last Friday after I finished work we went to St Ives for the evening for some fish and chips (or pizza in Lucy's case). It was a great evening that finished with us overlooking Porthmeor beach:

On Saturday we travelled further up the county to see St Nectan's Glen, something I blogged about on the BackRods Blog. If you can't look right now, in short it's amazing.

Here's an animated gif kindly generated by Google+ of Lucy and Isaac in front of the waterfall!

On Sunday we went to Trengwainton Gardens, a lovely National Trust garden in Madron near Penzance. We had a picnic lunch (picture below) and then a lovely stroll around the gardens. Isaac was particularly impressed by all of the bamboo, pointing it out to us as we walked around. The weather was so hot we felt like we were in another country!
"Picnic under the flowering dogwood at Trengwainton" Instagram @cyberneticiandave
Unfortunately towards the end of Sunday our inside back door decided it would be fun to smash into a million pieces so since then we've been avoiding using the door in case the remaining glass decides to also jump out. This would have to happen when the weather is hot and we might actually want to go out in the garden. Still, Lucy has been making up for it by visiting both of the parks in the village (we're so blessed to have two) most days this week!

Monday called for a trip to the beach, complete with Lucy and I swimming in the sea (not at the same time). Photographic proof was required, as this is not a regular occurrence, especially for Lucy, unfortunately no such proof exists for me.

When I wasn't helping Isaac splash in or walk through the little pool that had formed on the beach I was cooking our tea; it's not unusual for us to make some pasta on the beach after work using a little gas ring, but we've never seen it quite so busy. Lots of others barbecuing etc, but no one else eating freshly cooked pasta... we're unique...

Tuesday was a slightly quieter day, some shopping and a little walk around the village in the evening. No photos for you of those special moments...

Wednesday we got back on the adventures and a trip to Penzance after work. We had a stroll up and down the promenade and threw pebbles in the sea. Isaac had so much fun doing that he wasn't keen on finishing our stroll, but eventually he followed us up the stony bank and rode on Dada's shoulders the rest of the way.

Apart from the pebbles another Isaac highlight was looking at the lighthouse (that may not be) and saying "flash flash".

Thursday involved collecting a load of firewood, thanks to freegle, a bit more shopping and chilling out at home.

And finally today, we went back to Penzance after our tea to play in the lovely park there looking out to sea.

So all in all, a good week. Next week we have visitors and I've got a couple of days off, so that should be good. The weather is forecast to continue too! :-)

Friday, 5 July 2013

What is blogging?

I have to be honest, I tend to try and use my blog (or rather blogs, I have a few that I maintain about as well as this one...) for big thoughtful posts. I tend to write short essays on deep topics, "articles" or reviews and things like that; but that sort of writing takes time, it takes time to think about what to write and how to write it.

A blog, short for web log, is a public form of journalling.... Dear diary, today I ate a sandwich... etc. But I write short updates about my life on Facebook, share geeky things on Google+ and publish pictures through both Facebook and Instagram.

I like having a blog, for those times I do have something to share, but perhaps I'm not making the most of it...

So here's what I'd like to do:
This blog becomes about me, I'll start trying to journal interesting events in my life, projects I'm doing (unless they're software-related in which case the TwinkleBob blog might be the place to do that), books, geeky stuff and perhaps a weekly update of my activity elsewhere across the interweb.

The BackRods blog I would like to become much more a journal of our family and our adventures in autonomous education, as well as the articles on our parenting choices (which is how it is primarily used at the moment). Again a summary of relevant updates from across the rest of the web might be nice.

The Mission Cornwall blog becomes the place to share all of my/our updates on deep faith related matters as well as adventures in serving God in this beautiful part of the country. Not that all faith-related stuff will leave this blog, but if it relates to both of us or specifically to our calling then that'll be the place it'll go.

And of course there'll be geeky/tech related reviews and articles on

Let's see how this goes!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

What about prayer?

Our recent journey of effectively de-churching has led us to question pretty much every aspect of our faith and how that affects our day-to-day lives. This post is going to be part of a series on the fundamentals of our faith. Our first fundamental is prayer; what is it, why is it important?

I remember a chorus I learned when I was younger that claimed that prayer “is like a telephone for us to talk to Jesus”. I always found it a little trite; prayer is supposed to be more than that, more close, more intimate. But here’s what struck me recently, prayer changes as we move along the journey of faith. It changes purpose, meaning and method, but sometimes it is like a phone!

The journey of faith starts when we start to think about faith. Do I or don’t I believe? Is there a God? What does he want with me? In these early steps prayer is like a long-distance telephone call, one where our receiver doesn't always work very well. We take the tentative steps of reaching out to a God we are yet distant from to see if he will reach back. Perhaps it is less like a telephone call than a letter that can only be answered by a very short telegram (or to put it in modern parlance, half a tweet!).

This journey of faith doesn't take us along some cheery, easy-going yellow-brick road, but on a series of tough climbs and gaping chasms. As we make each leap of faith we get a little closer to knowing God, and as we do we become a little more keen to listen to our new friend and to do the things he wants us to do. Our conversations are still quite selfish, we spend a lot of the time asking for what we want and listen to maybe a quarter of what God has to say to us.

Our early “phone” conversations are very formal, the way we might phone a business or someone in authority, but it changes over time, it has to.

I'm not always good at keeping in contact with my friends, but when I speak on the phone to my friends I can easily get into deep conversation, even if we haven’t spoken for ages. That’s what prayer has to become in us, a moment of connecting with God deeply, of listening to the other (sometimes more than we speak) and finding that you don’t want to stop and look forward to the next time. That’s something I've not got to yet, the thing is I don’t really know God all that well yet.

Often our church practices keep us far from God, it’s a side-effect of our paganised religiosity, not least the bizarre practice of calling Him by a vague title (capitalised to keep it distinct from other gods) rather than by His name. He has many names, I'm trying to find out what His name is for me and us at this point in our lives - and why not ask Him, rather than look somewhere else for the answer?

Prayer must be a conversation, a two way process of getting to know one another. God knows me, because of who He is, but He’s not intrusive (at least that’s what we’re led to believe) so a part of prayer has to be me telling Him about myself, opening up and sharing some intimacy with Him.

Although I enjoy partaking in the Nortumbrian Daily Office and I love the thought that I'm part of an unbroken chain, this is mostly a meditation for my own benefit. It is a time to allow me to refocus on God, to feel some rhythm to my faith, but it is not a two-way thing.

So basically, what I've been trying to say is that yes, prayer is definitely a fundamental, but the structured repetitive prayer we often use the most is not enough. Let’s use prayer to get to know our Father God.