June 2013 in the Life of Ben (Blog)

  1. January
  2. February
  3. March
  4. April
  5. May
  6. June
  7. July
  8. August
  9. September
  10. October
  11. November
  12. December

28th Birthday Week (27th June 2013)

Took the whole week off work to turn 28 years old. Actually planned some stuff in advance and it turned out really well.

Spent time with all the friends I often see as well as my family.

Schedule for the Week

Tuesday 25th

7pm to 11pm:
Scalextric Club

Wednesday 26th

Blood Donation
Travel to Fleet.
Rest of day:
Sleep and eat, most likely!

Thursday 27th

All day:
Birthday with family!

Friday 28th

After lunch:
Return to London?

Saturday 29th

North Nineteen pub with Fiona. I had calamari with fillet steak and it was awesome!

21st Blood Donation (26th June 2013)

Sadly my iron level was 126 but it needed to be at least 135 to donate.

As part of the Interval Study this donation was just 12 weeks since my previous donation.

The next donation was scheduled for 12 weeks from today. They revised this after the iron test to be a couple of weeks later, so maybe it takes longer to recover the level?

Good excuse for some high iron full English breakfasts between now and then!

Tim Burgess & Lambchop at Barbican (26th June 2013)

Not really my thing but an interesting change of scene. Fiona is a big fan of Lamchop and Tim Burgess was in The Charlatans. Some big indie rocking out moments as well as the more intimate and traditional American music.

Took a couple of photos before and after the peformance. One turned out OK! We cycled there and back which was quite refreshing in the cool Summer evening.

35th Scalextric Club (24th June 2013)

Tonight, NASCAR brings the noise to the London Scalextric Club and Terry brought in a posh apple and almond birthday cake for me!

Usually my favourite class but this evening was frustrating. The cars had plenty of grip but most of them tipped out of the slot in ways I struggled to predict.

White Lane

Crashed onto the floor under pressure from yellow! Luckily everyone behind crashed a lot so I kept the position.

Fastest Lap 10.31s
Laps: 13.80
Position: 2nd
Crashes 1

Blue Lane

Fastest Lap 10.27s
Laps: 13.60
Position: Didn’t see
Crashes 2

Yellow Lane

My most satisfying race of the evening. A nice clean run.

Fastest Lap 10.26s
Laps: 14.30
Position: 2nd
Crashes 0!

Red Lane

Fastest Lap 10.46s
Laps: 13.15
Position: 4th
Crashes At least 4!

Green Lane

Terrible race. Car was tipping out of the slot all the time.

Fastest Lap 10.61s
Laps: 11
Position: 6th
Crashes 8?

Brown Lane

Another car I could not get to grips with.

Fastest Lap 10.69s
Laps: 12.55
Position: 6th
Crashes Lots

Tony’s Scalextric Track (23rd June 2013)

Visited my newest friend, Tony. He’s a big fan of NSR Moslers which he races at the London Scalextric Club. He sold me one of his for just £10 so a good friend to have!

Old Layout

Today I visited his home and he had the track set up. It was basically an oval with an exaggerated chicane that crossed the main straight and then looped back to the original side. Imagine looking at a pair of spectacles head-on and the nose support is a lot like this chicane.

The chicane was positioned tight to one end of the oval, though. This created a rather boring 270° loop. It was wedged right up against a wardrobe so there was no border, giving the outside lane a big advantage as they could speed around against the barrier.

The bridge supports were a bit weird in that they didn’t permit any borders. As they were midway between the long corners of the chicane, the slightly sideways cars de-slotted almost every lap.


The main straight was the maximum the room allowed and was a genuinely useful length. Especially for a home layout.

The double-apex turn at the kitchen end was like a mini version from the club and drove quite well, so that’s a keeper.

The corners were not that satisfying though so that’s the first thing I set about fixing.

New Layout

Inspired by a few key corners from the Wood Green layout at the club, we basically turned it into an asymmetric figure of 8 with a double-apex turn at one end and a standard radius 180° at the other.

The track crossed the main straight via an elongated S-bend. This featured a pair of 135° standard radius turns with a short straight in between, where it crossed the main straight.

We used literally every DVD in Tony’s possession to support this arrangement but it drove much better! We also had space for borders around every corner which was a huge improvement.

Finally we augmented the double-apex end with a quick right-left flick much like at the club. We used a pair of 45° standard curves to achieve this, followed by a short straight as that gave a really nice rhythmn for the speeds we were getting.

(The club circuit uses a much long arrangement for this turn. This allows all 6 lanes get the same left-right layout by starting with the inner pair of lanes, staggering the next pair after that and the next pair after that. The double-apex turn has 2 or 3 standard straight between the parts so it nearly drives like 2 separate corners. I don’t like its rythmn but it suits the higher entry speeds and is necessary with 6 lanes.)


(More to follow.)

2nd Visit (30th June 2013)

Went round again. We started the afternoon by watching the British Grand Prix whilst having lunch. I arrived just in time for the formation lap!

After a little while I had my laptop set up and plugged into their router through Ethernet. We were able to watch full-screen this way. We soon had the satellite speakers plugged in, too, making it a nice setup.

We got a lot more racing in as the track is already together. Lap times were under 4 seconds.

Having to marshal your own car makes crashing very expensive. The leader tended to wait for the chasing car but the chasing car didn’t have to wait for the leader! This kept the longer races close. We were wheel to wheel a lot of the time and there was no deliberate bashing.

Sunday Cycling

The weather was blazing hot but the ride to and from his house went smoothly.

The rear light rattled off a lady’s bicycle in front of me. I called out and stopped but it was on Camden Road – no chance of getting out to save it! The lady walked back to try and retrieve it but there was no way. It got squashed by a coach just before that traffic light sequence ended.

34th Scalextric Club (18th June 2013)

Another of my favourite categories, Grand Tourers grace the London Scalextric Club.

Tony let me try out a small selection of his rather large NSR Mosler collection. One had a little 25k rpm motor mounted at a very slight angle. This was my favourite by far; felt so low but really zips down the straights.

Quite a bit of weight in the front but this makes it super controllable. It slides before it spins out and is very progressive, really inspires confidence.

Yellow Lane

I was leading comfortably but could see 2nd and 3rd just gaining slightly. The pressure got to me and I crashed, restarting in 4th!

Worked my way back up to 2nd but should have won it. That’s motor racing.

Fastest Lap 8.76s
Laps: 19.60
Position: 2nd
Crashes 1

Green Lane

Fastest Lap 9.48s
Laps: 18.45
Position: 4th
Crashes 1?

Brown Lane

Fastest Lap 9.03s!
Laps: 18.60
Position: 4th
Crashes 0?

White Lane

Got chatting about the car so and missed the timing screen!

Blue Lane

Fastest Lap 8.77s
Laps: 19.80
Position: 2nd
Crashes A couple?

Tony Beats 9 Seconds!

His driving style changed in the latter half of the penultimate race. A few laps in a row were visibly smoother, faster and more accurate.

Unforunately he started pushing a bit too hard and had several crashes! I remember the same thing happening to me. Suddenly it just ‘clicked’ for a few laps, then I started to go faster and it was too much.

In the final race he drove like a pro, getting under 9 seconds on his fastest lap. Congratulations!

33rd Scalextric Club (11th June 2013)

The broad and powerful Classic and Can-Am class combines nostalgia with sheer grunt at the London Scalextric Club tonight.

It’s one of my favourite classes as Steve lends me a short wheelbase Porsche in a Gulf livery. It’s a zippy little thing but very easy to control and super agile on the fiddly green lane

We used 5 lanes and each race was 3 minutes long.

Blue Lane

Fastest Lap 9.21s
Laps: 18.50
Position: 3rd
Crashes 2

Yellow Lane

Fastest Lap 9.55s
Laps: 18.20
Position: 3rd
Crashes A small one

Red Lane

Scruffy drive by me but nearly stayed on for the whole race.

Fastest Lap 9.48s
Laps: 17.40
Position: 3rd
Crashes 4 or more?

Brown Lane

Fastest Lap 9.53s
Laps: 17.65
Position: 3rd
Crashes 2

White Lane

Cracking race, finished just behind Bob. We both couldn’t have driven any faster!

Fastest Lap 9.33s
Laps: 17.65
Position: 3rd
Crashes 0? Or a small one?


Blue Lane

Shadowed a limping Steve for an easy 2nd place.

Fastest Lap 9.48s
Laps: 12
Position: 2nd
Crashes 0!

Brown Lane

Finished 4th by 1 lap. Crashed twice trying to keep up with the rest but was fractionally slower than them, even when driving at my best.

iPad USA Slide Show with Dinner (8th June 2013)

Fiona returned from her 2 weeks in USA last Monday. Today we went to the excellent North Nineteen ‘gastro-pub’.

We took the iPad and flicked through Fiona’s holiday snaps. Great food with a relaxed environment and a captive audience. Ideal.

Remember the Food!

Fantastic rib-eye steak for me with rustic potato chips, fresh little salad and a little pot of dried herbs bathed in oil from the new Argentinian chef.

Bespoke veggie dish for Fiona, with spinach and calamari. The new chef prepared something especially for her as the new menu will only become available on Monday.

We bought a lovely bottle of red wine to go with it, too.

We both had desserts. I went for the very traditional apple and berry crumble. Fiona tried the chocholate marquise, I started looking up online to find out what it was. The owner came over and explained it to us as we were making our orders.

The presentation, taste, selection of ingredients, service, everything is outstanding. And it’s just a couple of minutes to walk there!

Our meal was just under £25 each. We left a 10% tip as it was so, so good.

Next Event

They are doing a barbeque in the evening on 14th June 2013. We might get to attend that.

My birthday is the next week so we’ll definitely be going there. I spotted a fillet steak with calamari on the menu and have pledged to try it then.

We should visit this local gem more often. Especially as we both have plenty of work.