Another summer of rail issues for Harwich?

trainIn the past I have publicly asked why the various folk in Harwich, Tendring & Essex do not co-ordinate their efforts to ensure local events are not ruined by a logistics nightmare – particularly if such nightmare could have been prevented?

Last year, in May, the Tour de Tendring cycle ride was held on a day when there were no trains on the Harwich Branch line. Riders were then faced with cycling from Manningtree (or Thorpe-le-Soken) in order to reach the start on Wick Lane, prior to their 6, 20 or 60(!) mile charity ride.

I’ve therefore been paying particular attention to this year’s event, which is on the same day as a stage of the Women’s Tour – bringing visitors & the international media to Harwich & NE Essex.

This time around, the branch line appears to be operating normally, however trains from London are disrupted.

For anyone travelling from London, the first direct train from Liverpool St  on Sunday 11th May is the 07.55 to Harwich International, arriving at 0925. There is an earlier service from Colchester (only) at 08.18 stopping at all stations and arriving in Dovercourt at 08.46. Passengers from Ipswich can leave at 08.09 and connect at Manningtree.

All told, it’s not as bad as I’d feared but anyone wanting to be at the start by 08.00 will be disappointed!

The full timetable for Sunday 11th May is here. I’ll update this post if I hear of any changes.

Moving on, I’ll be checking any weekends on the Great Anglia website when there are Harwich events this year and I’ll post info as when I find out.

Posted in Dovercourt, Events, Harwich, Tourism, Transport | Comments Off on Another summer of rail issues for Harwich?

Collected articles on IT matters

I have now moved almost all of the IT advice articles from the front page of this blog onto a dedicated IT Advice page. Archived on that page are articles on Computer Security, Routine Maintenance and some Linux-related articles.

If the advice you require isn’t in one the articles, please use the contact me page.

Posted in Administrative, Internet, Security, Technology | Comments Off on Collected articles on IT matters

The Hangings – updated

Cycle pathMy article about The Hangings has been receiving some publicity over the past week and appeared in the Harwich & Manningtree Standard on Friday 21st Feb 2014, and more recently on their website.

I’ve also been contacted by a local councillor and Essex County Council with regards to the signage along The Hangings.

Update 03/04/14: I have been in touch with Essex County Council and will be meeting a Highways Officer over the next week (or so) to discuss signs & routing. If you have any suggestions please leave a comment.

For those wondering what on earth I’m talking about, The Hangings is  a footpath & cycle-way from Parkeston Road (close to Lidl) to Dovercourt Station that bypasses all the major roads.

Posted in Administrative, Dovercourt, Harwich, Tourism, Transport | Comments Off on The Hangings – updated

New links page

networkAs part of the re-organisation of the blog, I’ve put together a new links page which is aimed at tourism, community, learning, sport & charity in Harwich, Dovercourt & Parkeston – although Ramsey, Oakleys & Wix will feature as I add & verify sites. Continue reading

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Website design & management

Very few websites these days are ‘hand-crafted’ with the pages written from raw HTML, CSS or PHP code. Instead, Content Management Systems (CMS) are used. The most popular of these is WordPress.

One of the most useful things about WordPress is the ability to choose and change the Theme (design package) for a site. Unfortunately, most themes are quite different beasts than the last one you might have used!

I was asked a few days ago to help someone with their wordpress site, getting it ready for this year’s events. This site did indeed use a Theme that I was not familiar with, but all the work I was asked to look at has been completed (I hope).

WordPress is infinitely adaptable, from just a blog, to a discussion forum, a charity site, a school site, a shop, a festival site or a survey site. The only real problem is choosing the theme that best fits your needs then adjusting it to make the best design. Knowing in advance – what you want it to look like – helps!

Contact me for helping with your existing WordPress site(s) or to talk about creating a new one for you.

Posted in Internet | Comments Off on Website design & management

Blog housekeeping

folder_icon_01I’ve done some housekeeping this evening and moved all but the most recent IT article onto pages under the (new-ish) IT Advice menu. All the recent articles giving IT & IT Security advice are there and more easily accessible. Comments are enabled so you can ask questions, if you wish. I’ll add relevant information as questions arise.

I’ve also moved my business page to the same menu to simplify the menu bar. All the previous content remains, albeit some has moved! Eventually I will do the same with the older Harwich/Dovercourt articles. I might even (finally) add some of my local photos to the site.

Posted in Administrative | Comments Off on Blog housekeeping

Is your memory good enough?

Cool-Red-Question-Mark-PicturesAs we get older, trying to cram new information into our brains sometimes means that information from a few years ago may disappear.

In many respects, the same can be said of computers. Here I am referring to the internal memory (known as RAM) that the computer needs in order to run programs, rather than the hard disc (or flash memory) used to store the system files, programs and your documents, photos, music etc.

If your computer is now slower than when you bought it, chances are there have been some major updates to the system itself, plus you will have installed many new programs, some of which are running from the moment your start the computer; any program that has an icon near the clock would fit this category.

Every program that’s running uses up memory. Stopping programs may release some memory but this would mean a program was then not available for use, stopping antivirus software is simply not an option!

When memory gets to around 60% full, the computer will move programs that are running (but inactive at that time) from memory onto a special place on the hard disc, moving it back when there’s room or when you need that program again. This process is called swapping.

Swapping slows the computer down, sometimes it might just ‘hang’ for no reason, often that’s when swapping is happening.

How can you speed things up? If you install more memory, the swapping will happen much less often, if at all. Remember, this has nothing to do with the size, capacity nor contents of the hard disc!

How do you increase memory? With a desktop PC it’s a simple matter of opening the box (with the power off) and installing a new module – hang on! No, it’s not that simple! Memory comes in a multitude of sizes, physical and electronic, different speeds, different connections etc etc. Buy the wrong one and you’ve wasted money. Laptop memory in particular may be very easy or incredibly difficult to install, depending on the make & model.

I would recommend at this point that you speak to a competent computer engineer/technician about what memory you have, and what you might need. Windows 7 (and 8) prefer to run in 4Gb of memory, whilst 7 could run in 2Gb (at a push). Memory of 1Gb (or less) is simply inadequate for current needs.

When your computer starts (boots) it may show you a screen with some basic information, including the amount of memory that’s installed. Otherwise, in Windows, go to the Control Panel and double-click on the System icon, this will tell you the memory size. For most desktop and laptop PCs this would be between 1gb and 4gb. 1gb is one Gigabit, or ~1000Megabits.

Adding new memory to a sluggish system can improve performance by up to 50%. Memory itself costs anything from £20 to £100 for example but would depend on exactly what type was needed. This would not include any engineer charges. All told, it could be several £100 cheaper than replacing a sluggish PC.

Posted in Technology | Comments Off on Is your memory good enough?

Events in & around Harwich do what I can to publicise events around Harwich but I concentrate on those that are free to the public or have a wider appeal. Other events are listed on several websites but I can recommend What’s On Tendring both for checking out what’s on (!) and also for adding your own events.

They are also on twitter at

If you can recommend others, please use the comments

Posted in Dovercourt, Entertainment, Events, Harwich, Social Media | Comments Off on Events in & around Harwich