Thursday, January 5, 2012

Getting away from it all - with a free ride.

Internet Debris

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True Pampering

The Madikwe Hills Lodge

Being in the middle of nowhere has never been quite so lavish.

 by Neal McKenna  
Pampering  we all crave it, even though most of us are loath to admit it. But given the opportunity to luxuriate in an ultra-plush glass-fronted suite with wide wooden decks and a private plunge pool, well, wouldn’t you jump at the chance? 
Snugged next to the Botswana border in South Africa’s North West ProvinceMadikwe Hills Lodge delivers the absolute best of the bush plus all the comforts of a five star resort-spa. Tucked away in the 75,000 hectare Madikwe Game Reserve and over 30kms from the main road, it is one of the country’s best kept secrets.   
Each of the eleven chalets is designed with complete relaxation and comfort in mind  soft sofas, voluminous mosquito netting and embroidered linen. Air-conditioning, coupled with overhead fans, is truly a welcome respite from the harsh afternoon heat. And oh, my, my, there’s nothing quite like morning blue skies, warm savanna breezes, and an outdoor shower  with the privacy to really enjoy it. Trust me; being in the middle of nowhere has never been so absolutely lavish.

Elevated catwalks link the suites secreted among huge boulders to the main lodge, dining boma and Gym/Spa buildings. This is a good thing since the open reserve is home to cheetahs, wild dogs, leopards, hyenas, lions, elephants, black and white rhinos, buffalo, zebra, giraffe as well as various antelope. And let’s not forget the almost tame dassies that have made the large rocks around the entire lodge area their home.
Every day, there are morning and evening game drives, each lasting three-hours and come complete with appropriate snacks and drinks  sunrisers or sundowners  depending on the time of day. And, if you can form a large enough party to warrant it, full bush breakfasts and dinners can be arranged. 
Sumptuous evening meals at the lodge are shared around an outdoor family-style dinner table where the conversation is relaxed and easy. After spending six hours together on the day’s game drives, there’s always plenty to talk about late into the night.
Modikwe Hills is a deluxe escape from the everyday world  a haven where you can be as busy or as slothful as you like. It’s almost Heaven. 

The 2012 Renault Sandero 1.8 

Dacia Sandero Stepway img_1
Image via Auto World
Built in South Africa at the Pretoria assembly plant, the Renault Sandero 5 door hatchback is touted as a Super-mini car  meaning it's classified as a Crossover Mini SUV. Developed in a joint effort of the French car maker Renault and its subsidiary Dacia of Romania, the Sandero has been in production since 2007. 
The top-of-the-line Stepway model is fitted with the 1.6 L 4 cylinder petrol engine teamed with a 5-speed manual transmission. While the Sandero is a proven petrol miser  with a combined fuel consumption of 7.2 L per 100km  the fuel tank has and enormous 50 L capacity. 
Another plus is the car's braking system which is quite solid, featuring two front discs and two rear drums so it can be readily depended upon. The car is also equipped with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and the Borsch 8.0 system Anti-Lock brakes which come standard. The front suspension employs the Macpherson strut system with wishbone arm, while the rear has the H-type torsion beam with programmed deflection & coil springs. Optional power features include electric windows, mirrors, central locking and power steering. 
Those are the stats and the good news. There is, however, a flipside to this coin. The Renault Sandero is what it is  a small entry level vehicle. The cabin is cramped and the average sized male driver will have to push the seat back as far as it will go to get any semblance of enough legroom. That means no legroom in the back. 
Interior appointments are Spartan, decidedly plastic and the seats are less than comfortable especially on a long trip. The Sony audio system is pitiful largely due to very cheap speakers mounted each of the front doors. 
The Sandero is definitely a zippy city commuter car but is it a Crossover Mini SUV? Ummmmm... I don't think so.
The Renault Sandero 5 door hatchback sells for R184,210 ($22,334. US). The test vehicle was provided by South Africa's own Tempest Car Hire.

Tempest Car Hire

Affordable car rental in South Africa couldn't be simpler or more cost effective than with Tempest Car Hire. As one of South Africa's leading cost conscious rental companies we strive to achieve a perfect balance of offering our customers a competitive rental package coupled with friendly service and a high quality product. Our car hire fleet is varied and ensures that all our customers have something to choose from. So whether you need a corporate or leisure rental, a long term rental solution, or even an airport transfer, we can help. Additionally our branch network spans over 30 branches countrywide with kiosks at all major airports in South Africa. Welcome to Tempest, we hope we can be of service. Call us on 011-552-3900
Text via Tempest Car Hire
Tempest Car Hire Logo

'Plump my ride': luxury car makers create bigger cars for fat drivers

Luxury carmakers have been forced to upsize their vehicles as a result of drivers and passengers becoming more overweight, it has emerged.

'Plump my ride': luxury car makers create bigger cars for fat drivers

British government statistics show that more than 60 per cent of adults in England and a third of 10 and 11-year-olds are obese Photo: ALAMY
Typical family cars have become more than a foot wider and almost double the weight over the past 50 years as manufacturers struggle with the world’s obesity crisis.
Consequently some luxury manufacturers have begun road-testing the next generation of larger-sized vehicles. Officials say this will allow bigger people to maintain their comfort on the road.
In plans dubbed “plump my ride” 
 in a play of words from the television show Pimp My Ride – BMW has recruited 800 volunteers, ranging from the slim to the obese, for a study to gauge how obesity affects mobility while driving.
The unnamed volunteers were last week put through a series of tests designed in part to examine factors such as getting in and out of cars or looking over their shoulder while reversing.
"People are getting more obese and we want to find out how that limits their range of motion and how our vehicles can adapt to the changing needs of our customers,” Ralf Kaiser, a member of BMW's ergonomics team, told the Sunday Times.
We know that a lot of overweight and obese people have problems in daily life, and in the car this starts with getting in and getting out.
In general, these aren’t sporty people. We already have things like the parking distance control, which shows obstacles on a screen when you are reversing.”
He added: “For someone who can find it difficult to turn 140 degrees to look behind them, they can now just look at the screen.
The study will mean we can look at things more scientifically and build a car that at least 95 per cent of people can use."
Mercedes has unveiled plans to strengthen grab handles above its doors, in part to help heavier passengers support themselves.
Porsche, meanwhile, is installing “electrically-powered steering columns” on top-of-the-range models that rise when the engine is switched off.
Over the past decade, Honda has widened its seats by up to 2in to accommodate larger bottoms while its new range of vehicles will also have buttons that will allow for so-called "sausage fingers".
Other manufacturers are installing reversing aids and blind spot detectors as standard.
According to the latest figures a Ford Prefect was 4ft 9in wide with an 18in long seat cushion in 1953. This compared to a 2011 Ford Focus that was 6ft 1in wide with a 23in long seat cushion.
Government statistics show that more than 60 per cent of adults in England and a third of 10 and 11-year-olds are obese.
In August The Lancet medical journal said: by 2030 more than 11m would classed as obese, with a body mass index (BMI) above 30, compared with a healthy BMI score of between 18.5 and 25.
Obesity and chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes cost Britain £20 billion a year in terms of lost productivity, it was claimed last month.
It was recently disclosed that over the past five years Yorkshire Ambulance Service spent nearly £10 million on specialist vehicles to transport obese patients.
Speaking earlier this month at a launch that unveiled plans to cut obesity levels by 2020, Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, said Britain had to become a nation of calorie counters to counter the obesity crisis.

THIS is still my kind of car!
I was the third owner of a '67 T-bird exactly like the one above 
right down to the colour - and I loved it!

Her name was 'Miss Piggy' and she could pass anything 

except a gas station!

1967 - '71 Ford Thunderbird (fifth generation)

1967 Ford Thunderbird Fordor
The Thunderbird's fifth generation brought the second major change in the car's design direction since its debut in 1955. From 1958 to 1966, the Thunderbird had remained fundamentally the same in concept as a sporty two-door coupe/convertible with two rows of seating. However, the introduction of the Ford Mustang in early 1964 had created a challenge to the Thunderbird's market positioning for it, like the Thunderbird, was also a two-door coupe/convertible with two rows of seating. Where the Mustang had an advantage was in the point that it was substantially cheaper. To prevent overlap between the two cars, Ford's response was to move the Thunderbird upmarket. The result, introduced for 1967, was a larger Thunderbird with luxury appointments more in line with a Lincoln.
The new Thunderbird abandoned unibody construction in favor of a body-on-frame construction with sophisticated rubber mountings between the body and frame to reduce noise and vibration. A pair of significant departures from the previous generation Thunderbird was the elimination of a convertible model and the addition a four-door model, which used suicide doors for rear seat access. The available four-door design would remain a unique feature to this generation as it was not carried on after 1971. One of the most noticeable design elements of the fifth generation Thunderbird was the gaping, fighter jet-inspired grille opening that incorporated hidden headlights.

The 1970 Thunderbird continued with the same platform and many of the same parts and styling cues used in the 1967 to 1969 models, including the sequential turn signals incorporated into the full panel tail lights in the rear of the vehicle. The most noticeable change was in the front fascia where there was now a large prominent projection resembling a bird or eagle's beak that was in line with long angular lines in the hood. Semon "Bunkie" Knudsen, the former GM man now President of Ford, is said to be responsible for this dramatic change. The T-bird was offered in coupe or sports-back models for these two years, the latter being a further distinction from the '67 to '69 models.
In 1971, Neiman Marcus offered "his and hers" Thunderbirds in its catalog, with telephones, tape recorders and other niceties. They retailed for US$25,000 ($166,550  in 2012 dollars) for the pair. The 1971 Thunderbird was mostly a carry-over from the 1970 model as Ford prepared to release a new, larger Thunderbird for 1972. It was also the last year to offer a four-door.        Text via Wikipedia

Spooooky Reading...

What lies beneath...

Now, for something different...

It's raining apples! Traffic grinds to a halt as 'mini tornado' dumps a hail of fruit.

Freak storm 'caused by wind vortex' lifted fruit from garden or orchard

By ANDY DOLAN 15th December 2011

After a series of storm warnings, drivers in the evening rush hour were prepared for almost anything. Except, that is, for it to start raining apples. Scores of them battered car roofs and windscreens before landing in the road at a busy junction in Coundon, Coventry.
Downpour: Dave Meakins holds one of the apples which fell from the sky in Coundon, Coventry, on Monday nightDownpour: Dave Meakins holds one of the apples which fell from the sky in Coundon, Coventry, on Monday night
The core after the storm: A street in Coventry is littered with mushed-up apples after the freak incident on Monday eveningCrumble: A street in Coventry is littered with mushed-up apples after the freak incident on Monday evening
The deluge of fruit brought traffic to a standstill at 6.45pm on Monday. A 20-yard stretch of the B4098 was left strewn with green slush after the incident. One motorist, who was travelling with her husband, said: ‘The apples fell out of nowhere. They were small and green and hit the bonnet hard. Everyone had to stop their cars suddenly.’


On October 5, 1967, thousands of maggots fell like rain over Acapulco, Mexico, after a heavy storm.
In 1996 dozens of frogs were reported to be falling from the sky in Llanddewi, Wales and again in Croydon, London in 1998.
More recently, on August 18, 2004, fish fell from the sky on to the village of Knighton, Powys.
In August 2007 fish also rained down in the streets of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk after a mini-tornado at sea. 
The explanation is down to a typical spell of British summer weather, where a few hot days are often followed by a thunderstorm.
Vigorous updrafts on a hot day may have sucked the frogs, fish and other small creatures into a developing thunder cloud, only to deposit them again in heavy rain downwind.
The phenomenon is believed to be down to a mini tornado which touched down elsewhere, sucking apples from the ground or from trees. 
Such a powerful vacuum could have traveled for many miles before the tornado’s energy dissipated, depositing the fruit over Coventry.
Another theory is that the apples could have fallen from the hold of a plane.
Brian Meakins, 63, was stunned when he opened his front door and found his garden full of smashed apples. The retired forklift truck driver said: ‘At first I assumed kids must have thrown them because we do get the occasional egg and apple thrown but there’s way too many for that.’
Jim Dale, senior meteorologist from British Weather Services, said the event was probably caused by ‘returning polar maritime air.’ ‘Essentially these events are caused when a vortex of air, kind of like a mini tornado, lifts things off the ground rising up into the atmosphere until the air around it causes them to fall to earth again.
Returning polar maritime air is such an unstable condition and it basically means air returning from the polar regions which is very unstable.
We’ve all heard of fish and frogs falling from the sky and apples is certainly unusual because they have some weight to them but it is not out of the realms of possibility.’
Strewn: The freak apple storm could have been caused by a high pressure wind vortex
Strewn: The freak apple storm could have been caused by a vortex of water pressure - when wind and rain form a powerful vacuum that can lift items and dump them up to 100 miles away
The Met Office yesterday warned that a storm expected to hit the south coast tonight and tomorrow would bring more 70mph winds lashing seafronts along the coastline.
Cold air coming in with it to the north could result in snow across the Midlands and parts of Wales, and higher ground in the South.
Other than snowfall seen around Bath, Somerset and higher ground in Gloucestershire yesterday, this will represent the first of the winter for England and Wales beyond the far North.
Spokesman Dan Williams said: ‘At lower levels we expect snow to fall as sleet, but some places will see settled accumulated snow, as high as 10cm (4in) falling on higher ground in the North.’
He also warned drivers to beware of ice across most of the UK today and in northern areas through Friday and Saturday.
On Tuesday night, a five vehicle pile-up on the M5 in Gloucestershire left a Royal Mail lorry driver dead and the carriageway closed for the night. Police described the road surface as ‘an ice rink.’
Text and images via The Daily Mail 

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