Head Freeze

My Christmas present this year was a Bell Alchera bike helmet. For the past couple of years I've riden helmet-less, much to the disapproval of many.

It wasn't because I was arrogant to the fact that I was putting my life at risk not wearing a helmet, I knew I was, I just never felt the need to wear one around the country lanes of where I live. However now I'm getting faster and doing lengthier rides, which take in bigger A roads, I'm noticing that cars are getting closer and closer to me and each time I seem to have a close miss, dispite wearing reflective clothing. So, I've now got a helmet.

It took ages to find the right one. I tried on 30 in Evans Cycles, none of which fitted correctly at all, the Specialised Bike Helmets especially made me look like a mushroom head. I appreciate that the whole point of the helmet is safety first, but surely there must be a helmet which fits better around my head! Then I came across the Bell Alchera, it still sticks out slightly around the sides but a much better fit (looking on the forums Bell seem to be the best if you're looking for a neat fit).

So on Boxing Day off I went for a ride to give it a good roadtest. Now these helmets are designed to give you good ventilation and to keep you cool during the hot summer month's. You actually see pictures of guys wearing hats underneath helmets in the winter editions of Cycling Weekly and I always thought they were being too cool for school. 15 minutes in and I was suffering serious brain freeze. The amount of freezing cool air whizzing around my head was incredible. Air swirlled around everywhere, so now I need to invest in a bike hat to keep my head warm.

So, buy a bike helmet it keeps you safe and it's like sticking your head in a freezer.

Handbags At Dawn

Well I didn't make it to the Boxing Day sales, the Trafford Centre car park was full at 9am and throughout the day you couldn't get near the place for love nor money. Reports filtered in from around the country of people queuing up from the early hours of Boxing Day morning. One person at the front of a 2000 strong queue at Selfridges London had been there since 2am!! And the reason why? She wanted a handbag.

Selfridges had Gucci and Prada handbags at half price, such deals caused scenes not witnessed since the days of Take That back in the 90s. As soon as the doors opened there were screams, running, pushing and grabbing to be the first to grab a reduced handbag. At the Trafford Centre there was a report of a security guard having to seperate two people apart from fighting over a Gucci handbag, and that a huge roped off queue had formed at the Gucci store inside Selfridges.

Of course this is all great PR for Selfridges and Gucci. However away from the Gucci store there were little bargains to be had with reports of prices not being considerably different or certain sought after items taken off the shelves. People flocked to the recently placed in administration Zavvi only to walk out empty handed from the poor deals available.

It was interesting to see the range of adverts on Christmas Day, in particular from Marks And Spencer, who also sent an email to my inbox on Christmas Day morning (yes the morning!) informing me that the sales had already started.

Christmas Day afternoon is becoming a major area for marketeers. 5 million people shopped online on Christmas Day afternoon compared to the 4.5 million who went to church.

They've realised that the dead hours between 3pm - 7pm, where drunken minds and bloated bellys sit infront of the TV after watching the Queen's speech with nothing much else to do while waiting for Wallace & Grommit, is fastly becoming more important than the Boxing Day mafia. The shops may be closed but the website will always open. People popping online to simply preview tomorrow's Boxing Day deals are met with Christmas Day offers with the promise of further discounts if you buy online today.

So my advice for next year is to avoid the traffic jams and the prospect of a black eye from a shopping lunatic and get yourself online. There is more to be had, you can get it before anyone else and a lot cheaper too!

Twitter Crazy - Front Page Of The Times

While lifting up the front page of The Times this morning, I spat my half my cornflakes out across the room, for what did I see but a quote on an article featured inside about Twitter.

Written by Basically, if you're not on it now then you should/will be in 2009.

You can view the article here.

Pint of Insultation anyone?

Saw this while out on the works do on Friday. Ginger Tosser and what sounds like methalated spirit – Hydes Insulation. Eeeek!

Rally Disappointing News

Sad news today that Subaru have joined Suzuki and have pulled out of next year's World Rally Championship. I've already blogged about the disappointment of loosing MFI and Woolies due to the credit crunch, and now loosing one of rallying's top marques is another bitter blow.

The legendary Colin Macrae and Richard Burns all won titles while driving with Subaru, with the Impreza notoriously known for it's sporting pedigree. My mate Hodge once owned a Subaru Impreza, it was the quickest, most sharpest thing you've ever been in. It had the ability to cover ground so quickly yet at the same time with so much ease. It threw you back hard in your chair, your adrellain rushed through you, hands grasping to anything you could find, eyeballs to the back of your head and all the while you knew you were in safe hands.

The only other car which has offered me anything near the same thrill would be a BMW M Coupe. It wasn't just the speed either, the Impreza gripped like a bitch, you could put it into any corner, at any speed and it would find the apex no problem.

It was an unreal car, and I'm very lucky to have spent time in one.

Manchester says NO to the Congestion Charge

Manchester has spoken and overwhelmingly the city has voted against the charge. In all ten boroughs a majority has voted no, a humiliating blow to the council with Sir Richard Leese in floods of tears exclaiming "This was the only opportunity to get £3billion of investment in public transport over the next five years and 10,000 jobs to go with it. So far nobody has been able to put forward a credible alternative to get those levels of investment".

I didn't want the charge, mainly because it would have been a pain in the arse and of huge expense to me - £5 a day to just get in and out - £1200 a year out of my wages!!

To compensate there would have been a huge injection of cash into public transport. This would have been good for those around the Manchester outskirts but not good for me coming from rural Cheshire. A sexy new and improved tram wouldn't call near to where I live, so I would have had to get a stinking, horrible 1978 train to Altringham and change over there, this is before having to drive to a train station near to where I live anyway.

The mad thing is that although I drive into Manchester, and that I would be affected by the charge, because I live in Cheshire I couldn't vote. My faith was in those from Manchester and well done to you all!!

This week I've been mainly listening to...

Journey Into Paradise: The Larry Levan Story.

I happened to stroll across this on itunes the other night. It's fantastic, it features a couple of my favourites including the original extended mix of Janice McClain's - Smack Dab In The Middle and Patrice Rushen's - Haven't You Heard. Chaka Khan's - Clouds, Change's - A Lovers Holiday, Lace - Can't Play Around and Bernard Edwards and Nile Rogers' remix of Sister Sledge's - Lost In Music also feature.

This is an incredible album and a great tribute to Larry Levan. It's such a shame he died of a heart attack when he was 38 as I'm sure today he would still be heavily involved with the scene, I certainly would have been on the dancefloor! If you dig good 70s disco, right smack dab out of the Paradise Factory then get involved!

Disc One
1. Paradise - Change
2. Weekend (12" Extended Version) - Phreek
3. Clouds - Chaka Khan
4. Haven't You Heard - Patrice Rushen
5. We Got The Funk (12" US Re-edit Version) - Positive Force
6. Smack Dab In The Middle - Janice McLain
7. Bad For Me (12" Long Version) - Dee Dee Bridgewater
8. Heartbeat (Club Version) - Taana Gardner
9. You Can't Hide (Your Love From Me) - David Joseph
10. Love Honey, Love Heartache (12" Vocal Version) - Man Friday
11. Don't Make Me Wait (12" Extended Version) - Peech Boys

Disc Two
1. Baby I'm Scared Of You - Womack & Womack
2. Lost In Music (Special 1984 Nile Rodgers Remix) - Sister Sledge
3. Why Leave Us Alone (12" Long Version) - Five Special
4. Love Injection - Trussel
5. Can't Play Around (12" Vocal Version) - Lace
6. Ain't No Mountain High Enough (The Garage Version) - Inner Life
7. It Should Have Been You (12" Vocal Version) - Gwen Guthrie
8. A Lover's Holiday (12" Version) - Change
9. Situation - Yaz
10. Once In A Lifetime - Talking Heads
11. Love Has Come Around (12" Version) - Donald Byrd & 125th Street N.Y.C.

I'm A Twit

I heard about Twitter ages ago and I thought it was a bit gimmicky, riding on Facebook's status update, so never followed it up. Now it seems every Tom, Dick and Harry is getting involved. So much so that if you were subscribed to Lance Armstrong's Twitter last week you would have heard before any of the news sites that he was taking part in the Tour De France this year!!

Looking into it you can update online through the Twitter website but most interestingly you simply send a text message to the Twitter number and it updates your status instantly online.

Big deal you think, I can do that on Facebook - however where Twitter comes into play is that it basically hooks up and works around blogs. Also Twitter updates should be more mini-blogs than simply a status update like "Andy is looking forward to getting really drunk at Spoons tonight".

However the most powerful part of Twitter is that instantly news, such as the Lance Armstrong example above, can be broadcasted worldwide in one simple text message. With the right contacts, in particular the press, this could be very powerful, especially with every news group fighting to be the first to release news headlines.

This is a fantastic tool for PR agencies and more importantly for those in the limelight. Going back to the Lance Armstrong example, he will be documenting his return to cycling in 2009, meaning you will have inside access to his thoughts and feelings right from the horses mouth. Lance is particulary honest and open at the best of times in a notoriously bitchy sport and this could lead to amazing fireworks seeing his thoughts from the tour bus on the way back to the hotel after the race. Imagine footballers doing the same from the dressing room? I've already seen Twitter reports from people giving their opinion during key conferences and seminars, most notably a David Cameron speech recently.

Equally having journalist contacts on your Twitter following will mean you can grab a sneaky story before it is broadcasted live on air or written in a blog.

I'm going to give it a go if my phone bill can handle it http://twitter.com/andywood86


I was down in London this weekend, Brad had a gig (which by the way as always was an excellent set).

I'm amazed that in such little time London will be hosting the Olympic games, the place is a dump. Ok you may be thinking cheeky Northern monkey, and yes I am incredibly proud of Manchester and my Northern roots however this is now my fourth time of visiting and I'm still not convinced. At all.

For one of the leading capital cities in Europe it is a disgrace. Although we didn't spend much time in the centre around the landmarks, at the same time we weren't out in the sticks, being based around the Kings Cross Islington area. Surely cleanliness and development has to stretch further than around Big Ben and Buckingham Palace??

It was dark, dirty, the pavement stones were crooked everywhere and full of holes. The place stank and looked like it needed a good power wash. Half the buildings were boarded up with the rest of the streets lined with small, poorly decorated shops selling computers and bags of crisps, drinks, magazines and other rubbish on the side. Add to that the ridiculous prices in the city and you leave disheartened, your British pride demolished and a huge hole in your bank balence with no memory to replace it.

I didn't see one Christmas decoration at all throughout the weekend, that's how morbid the area was.

I'm not saying Manchester is perfect, Ancoats and around Strangeways is in desperate need of a freshen up, however there is a warm, friendly atmosphere, beautifully kept buildings, proud shopkeepers and clean surroundings which London doesn't have at all.

I've visited a huge amount of UK towns and cities around the UK with my djing and ventured to a number of cities in Europe too; everywhere I've been to makes me proud, and realise how lucky I am to be near Manchester. If only Manchester could take on Paris' amazing public transport system and the sparkle of Dubrovnik and Zagreb!!

Never mind Weetabix!

I read in today's Insider e-shot that Mario’s CafĂ© Bar in Westhoughton is offering a breakfast comprising:
*ten eggs
*ten sausages
*ten rashers
*ten slices of toast
*five black pudding slices
*tomatoes mushrooms and beans.

It costs £10.95, but if you gobble down the whole lot you eat for free. The best bit though is that all diners must sign a disclaimer and a spokesman for the British Heart Foundation said “eating this amount in one sitting is not a good idea". Durrrr really!!

Snowthing to talk about!

I've not got much to say at the moment, nothing's been going on. I've just been waiting for the snow to fall and I'm still waiting now - rubbish!

Other than that I've just about shaking off a cold for the past week, and started back at the gym as part of my get fit plan for next year's cycle sportive season! I'm planning on kickstarting with the Cheshire Cat in March.

I also played footy for the first time in 2 years with the lads from work on Tuesday at JJB opposite the ChillFactore. I managed to last the 60 minutes relatively unscathed, however 2 days later I'm still very stiff and sore!

I've got a busy weekend ahead, I'm off to London on Saturday, Brad is djing at a night called Peg, next door to Fabric so looking forward to that. I've been saving up for the past 6 months as my understanding is a pint of Fosters darn Sarf is £200.