Author Archives: Steve Morley

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Body Power 2018 – Review

This years Body Power was in some ways a Giant Leap forward and in others a little bit of a step backwards. I’m going to focus on the leaps forward, as it demonstrates the organisers are listening and are taking steps. On the whole the show was a huge success I’d say, you can see my photo-set here

USN Stand at Body Power 2018

USN Stand at Body Power 2018

The ubiquitous USN was the central stage again, with almost non-stop give aways and a little bit of a Vegas themed slot machine action, where you could win something. Mostly people won protein bars and whey samples but was some other stuff. They had William “The Conqueror” Bonac and The West Twins, don’t get me start on those little monsters. Such cool lil bundles of energy, mad as a box of frogs those two. Along with various other athletes, there was a little grenade rivalry going on with shots being fire which was kinda fun but don’t think was serious. Speaking of Grenade they had Jamie Alderton who I’m sure thought we was stalking him. We saw him at breakfast, then in the show, then at dinner in the restaurant, then at the bar, then at the evening event and again at breakfast, it was like ummm “Hi Jay”, if he had been a woman I’d swear we would have been arrested for stalking.

The Body Power Expo

Each year there is a crop of complaints, one of the usual is the aisles are too narrow, this year the whole place was set out like city blocks (a tic-tac-toe board), so was huge vertical columns staged as Vegas strips which doubled as chill out / seating areas, and was wider horizontal alleys, easily 50% wider than previous years, this meant there was very few pile ups and “no cross” areas. Even where muscle food was showering the crowd you was still able to get by easily. This ground to a halt a few times like the queue for BodyBuilding.com which was just soooooooo long, you had to walk through the queue, a few other people had similar queues as well but no where was impossible to pass. 

There was also an addition of an in-show cloak room, which was operating as a “shop and drop” kiosk, so you could do your shopping and buy everything then drop it off into storage and enjoy the rest of the show, just pick it up on the way out. I used this myself, and previous years I used to take my bags out to the normal cloak room, so step forward and very useful. 

Special Mentions

Every year I pay extra attention to the athletes who seem to go that extra mile, who genuinely love their fans. Others will bad-mouth those who don’t or are having a bad day but I prefer to focus on those who go the distance, and 3 days solid at Body Power is enough to wear anyone down. 

5% Nutrition aka Rich Piana

5% Nutrition at Body Power 2018

5% Nutrition at Body Power 2018

I have said many times my views on Rich, like him or not the man loved his fans and had nothing but time for them. It was really specially to see the “5% Family” at Body Power, Martyn Ford had his missus and kid(s) at the show running around, Jens Dalsgarrd had his missus at the show, everyone seemed to be a family oriented. It was more interesting to see Martyn and Jens fooling around, and various others almost teasing each other like proper friends do. Rich always said 5%ers was his family and he was big on the camaraderie, it was really nice to see this same vibe on going. Everyone on the stand too time to chat to fans who asking questions and getting demonstrations, not a single fan was rushed or cut short. Which explains why the queue stretched back to Martyn Fords’ Gym, but everyone in the queue I spoke to seemed fine with the wait because they know they will get there time too. I even saw Jens and Martyn eat (when I say eat I mean destroy) their lunch and meals on the stand between fans rather than vanish, so fans got maximum time.

It was strange not seeing Rich there, but its good to see his legacy and family are still going strong. 

Michelle Lewin and Jimmy Lewin

Michelle Lewin and Jimmy Lewin at Body Power

Michelle Lewin and Jimmy Lewin at Body Power

I was there as Michelle and Jimmy arrived on Friday, and was setting their stand up. Rather than tell fans no thanks, we’re busy setting up the stand and getting things ready, Michelle had the platform setup, while a steady but orderly queue formed. She posed with fans, did some videos, some selfies while Jimmy set things up, every time Jimmy was wanted he came over for pics and such, while searching through boxes and cases for products people wanted to buy from the One-0-One (One Zero One) clothing range. 

I hung around an hour to help fans taking pics and leave Jimmy to set the stand up, and the whole time Michelle was lovely and chatty. I remember a few years ago, she was due on the stand (FitFuel) for 2 hours, and after about 3 hours, with a queue a mile long (literally) Jimmy got on a megaphone and was like “Michelle doesn’t want to leave without all you getting your pics and stuff, so we’re going to come down and everyone gather around, please have your phones ready or things to sign and just quickly in and out, sorry no time for questions” and she spent about another hour getting everyone done.

Simeon Panda

Simeon Panda and Chanel Coco Brown at Body Power 2018

Simeon Panda and Chanel Coco Brown at Body Power 2018

When Simeon arrived at the Body Power After Party, I had double take, he was with Mike Rachid, and I totally thought it was Jamie Foxx (dark club lights), when Simeon smiles he has that same look. Anyway Simeon spent most his time outside the VIP with the fans, chatting and taking pics and having a good time.

He was accompanied by Chanel Coco Brown who looked spectacular (see right).

At the show, he spent time talking to fans, doing video clips, shout outs and generally being a total superstar. I didn’t see him disappear for hours at a time, in fact at no point when I passed the stand he was on (Just Lift), did I see him not there with a steady queue of fan. He was always happy and smiling and a pleasure to chat too.  

Paige Hathaway

Paige is genuinely lovely, and at one point she even declared her love, she was dying of thirst and we (NJF and myself) kept taking her Sport Sense Water, Bang Energy and RockStar Energy to drink and a bag of MaoaM Sweets. She was seriously jet lagged, having difficulty sleeping and putting in long stints and still maintained a smile and took loads of time for her fans. 

Paige Hathaway at Body Power 2018

Paige Hathaway at Body Power 2018

After a long day at the show on Friday, she still attended the Pink Carpet event to launch Muscle and Fitness HERS, where she in the inaugural cover girl, where she spent a great amount of the night in a rather hot looking bandage style dress posing with fans and other names. At around 1am in the morning, she was on her way out and was stopped by a fan who wanted a magazine signing and a video message, she stopped putting her stuff down to do the message. She could have very easily kept walking with her manager/friend/notsurewho and ignored them but instead she stopped. 

On the Sunday she stayed an extra hour until her stands queue was essentially gone, then spent another half hour chatting and fooling around with the staff from the stand. At one point there was a young, small, slim guy and Paige was trying to pose for a photo where she was carrying him like a bride over the threshold. At various times some fans wanted to get pictures hugging paige or carrying her, and she was happy to oblige. 

Flex Lewis

Flex Lewis, Clarence De Vis and Olivier Richters

Flex Lewis, Clarence De Vis and Olivier Richters

Flex usually has a beast of a queue and crowds form around him like no ones business, at the After Party event, Flex spent much of his time NotInTheVIP but outside chatting with fans, other Athletes incl The Dutch Giant, Clarence De Vie, Mike Rachid and varios others. He was happy posing for pics, doing autographs, video messages and generally being around the fans. After a whole day in the show hammering it, he was still happy to carry on with fans. 

At one point was a conversation between multiple athletes and fans, where they was all sharing ideas, how often do you get names like Ulisses, Flex, Mike Rachid all in 1 place discussing work outs and techniques ? some lucky fans got exactly that. 

The above photo was during the time Flex and Clarence was fooling around with The Dutch Giant, for such a beast of a man, Flex looked tiny next to Olivier. 

The West Twins

The West Twins at Body Power 2018

The West Twins at Body Power 2018

Lucy and Jennifer West, what can you say about these two ladies, they are machines. They was bouncing around the show, running between commitments and stands, all day, then they hit the Pink Carpet event (Friday), then back in the show, then hit the After Party (Saturday) and still going 100mph on Sunday, they are absolute beasts wrapped up in a pretty bow. Everyone else who did the same looked like they was extras on the set of walking dead but these two looked ready to hit the town again Sunday evening. 

Both of them was a pleasure to chat too, they stopped randomly with any fan who asked, even stopped to graphiti my t-shirt with #WestIsBest hashtag, I joked they must be tired after the weekend and had confused my t-shirt with twitter which admittedly is a terrible joke but they was polite enough to giggle.

I can also confirm those bums are spectacular up close, and the ladies love shaking them, at any moment. 

The Pink Carpet M&F Hers Launch

 

Pink Carpet Event at Highline Bar

Pink Carpet Event at Highline Bar

The Pink Carpet launch for Muscle and Fitness HERS magazine was held at the Highline Bar in the Genting Casino, at the nearby Resorts World. I used to stay at the Crown Plaza alot, and it seems very bizarre still that such a huge complex fitted in there. It was a very much fun affair all around, a sound mixture of top athletes and general public and industry names. I was a little disappointed the organisers didn’t have an actual Pink Carpet, as its always a fun spot to joke about with them. 

The main attractions was the lovely Paige Hathaway who as always made so much time for fans and photos, even to the point where she was a walking jet-lagged zombie at 1am and she still stopped outside of the highline bar to do a video message for a fan. The following day (Saturday) Paige was back to her sweet smiley happy self despite sleep issues, she was a trooper.

Joel Corry was flitting around between mixing and taking photos and at one point, I could have sworn he was Joe Swash, just a look on his face and the way the lighting hit, that made me have a swash-flashback. Others such as BuffBunny (Heidi Somers), Jen Selter, The West Twins (these ladies are monsters, just go go go go go, non stop bundle of energy and smiles), along with the Editor of Muscle and Fitness Carl Walker and other members of the team like Nick Orton and his daughter Lucy Orton.

There were loads more I didn’t get every ones name and so many looked different out of active wear too but I gave loads of business cards out so if a hairy apeman took your pics and you want copies do email me or comment on this thread. 

The After Party

Ulisses at Body Power After Party

Ulisses at Body Power After Party

The official Body Power After Party were held at the NEC Hall 6 on the Saturday night and again were well attended Jay Alderton, Flex Lewis, Mike Rachid, The Dutch Giant Chanel Coco Brown, The West Twins, Clarence De Vie, Simeon Panda and loads more who I forgot. 

There were some entertainers such as clowns, stilt walkers and various other entertainers, along with Las Vegas style Casino Games and Dodgems Car Rides. A great number of the athletes spent most their time outside of the VIP room for most of the night and socialised with fans. Flex Lewis went from a casual conversation with a few other athletes to a mile long queue for photo’s, autographs and more, and spent half his night doing that. He could have hidden away in the VIP or kept out the way instead he had spent the time.

There are some funny photo’s from Flex and the Ducth Giant talking, at at one point flex was shouting “I can’t hear you” holding his hand to his ear because the other dude was so big, there’s photos of them messing about and having a giggle. 

Around 1,000 people attended the after party, and by all accounts it was a good night for all. 

Stand Out Stands

Sport Sense Artesian Water

Sport Sense Artesian Water

As has become tradition I single out a few stands which are worthy of a mention, on this occasion there are a few Rockstars, and some loud Bangs in there too. 

Rockstar energy was keeping everyone hydrated as was Hemp Water, Bang Energy and Sport Sense.

Sport Sense Water

I was really impressed with Sport Sense water, a Polish Artesian Water, which has a neutral 7.4ph and limited supply and what really impressed me was the bottle is bio-degradable, in around 15 yrs it turns into mush and minerals and is absorbed into the soil. Which means even if they end up in landfill or the oceans the bottle will eventually vanish. IF we can’t ensure they don’t end up in the wrong places, we can ensure they ain’t around for 100s of years. 

NOCCO

Year after year for the last 4-5 years at Body Power NOCCO has been knocking the ball out of the park with their drinks, and starting last year their protein bars / mousse via Barebells, and this year is no exception. Who knew those crazy swedes could create absolutely amazing tasting drinks. My conclusion is, the fact they are not at all cheap, is the reason they are low calorie, low sugar, and taste amazing, because they haven’t made it to a price, they have made them to a taste, regardless of the price.

Barebells New Protein Shakes

Barebells New Protein Shakes

I don’t think there was a single product I sampled by NOCCO or Barebells which wasn’t delicious and I would happily make myself ill gorging on them, its so bad I refused to start this year because last year I ate and ate and ate them.

Bang Energy

Bang Energy are BCAA and Amino based energy drinks, and their Cherry and Vanilla flavour one tastes EXACTLY like a cherry sherbet dib-dab, they also had a small army of promo-girls half of which was clearly insane. 

At under 10kcal per 500ml these was also a really top end product. 

RockStar Drinks

Rockstar Energy Drinks

Rockstar Energy Drinks

RockStar Energy drinks was a traditional caffeine, ginseng, b-vits based energy drink, and their new mixed berry flavour drink is outstanding. Unlike many other similar drinks this doesn’t get sickly, and at under 30kcals a can (500ml) its quite a lightweight too. I think this is because of the 5% fruit juices. 

All four of the above companies (Nocco, Bang, Rockstar and Sport Sense) really stood out in the drinks sector. 

Food wise the BareBells as above, their new range of protein shakes, the Banana and Chocolate was amazing but also the stand with the Vac Fried Broccoli Crisp was delicious, shame they are so expensive, around ยฃ3 for a standard sized bag ๐Ÿ™ but they was outstanding and way better than potato chips.

There were so many yummy products to try, but those are the ones which stuck out in my mind. 

Missed Names

CT Fletcher

There was a number people who I was hoping would be there or have been missed from previous years. For me Lacy Kay Summers who is always a delight, Jade Katy is is a home town (Manchester) babe.

CT Fletcher

I was hoping the Vegas theme would have brought more of the American Names, the guy I missed the most was CT Fletcher who has just had Heart Surgery, by that I mean a heart transplant, the man is recovering well but certainly missed, get well CT, and Its Still Your Mother Fucking Set brother. 

Eddie Hall

Eddie “The Beast” Hall was missing as was the Xplosive Ape stand, which I have bought about 20+ t-shirts off every year, which meant Krzysztof Radzikowski wasn’t around either, however Donna Moore was on the SBD Stand but all 3 are usually on Xplosive Ape, sadly missed.  

Brian Shaw

I was also hoping with Hathor Bjornsson, Zydrunas Savickas, Laurence Shahlaei, Terry Hollands, and various other big names that Brian Shaw who is also a really nice guy would also be there, could you imagine Zydrunas, Hall, Thor, Brian and Kazmeier all under one roof, little too much to hope for I guess. 

Robert Oberst
Some others like Robert Oberst wasn’t there, despite his shit-talking about England and his heel like behaviour at UK events he’s a sound bloke, and very friendly.

The Unexpected

Colin Bryce at Body Power

Colin Bryce at Body Power

I wasn’t expecting to meet Colin Bryce, oddly I’ve never met him, I’ve met nearly everyone else but never come across Colin, so when I saw him on the SBD Stand, I literally made a bee-line for him. We had a little chat, about Giants (as in the really big people, not Giants the contest).

Really cool guy, and later I heard him shout Steven.co.uk as I went by, so joked that’s my new name then. Will be looking forward to seeing Colin on the 15th September for the Manchester Finals of Giants Live which could be Eddie Halls final outing. 

I also ran into bunch of Bikini Competitors, including Cesca (mtb_bunny) who lovely and tried at hand at the Classic Strongman event Thors Hammer Hold and to be fair, she held it up for about 45-50 seconds, which is longer than I saw quite a men do it for, and she declared that 4 wines made her do it. She was a trooper though and really fun, a few of the other competitors was really chilled and nice too.  

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Worlds Strongest Man 2018 – Hafthor Julius Bjornsson

I said it before, Hafthor would be in the with a shot, with Big Z’s injuries and surgeries and Eddie retiring, it leaves only Brian Shaw and Hafthor from the old guard to contest the throne.

Worlds Strongest Man – Hafthor Bjornsson

I haven’t looked at the official final finishing results at the time of writing this paragraph. This is mostly because I wanted to see if I could guess the top 5 finishing positions. I think Brian Shaw has to be second place, Shaw and Bjornsson will be like Capes and The Viking going blow-for-blow. I’m also betting the other 3 spots will be the future stars I tipped last year, so I’m saying 1st Hafthor Bjornsson, 2nd Brian Shaw, 3rd Mateusz Kieliszkowski, 4th Konstantine Janashia and 5th Matins Licis will the line up. Those 3 newcomers have huge potential to change the landscape of Worlds Strongest Man, Kieliszkowski has so much explosive power, Janashia raw untapped strength and Licis just has all around ability, they are three to watch out in the coming years.  

The Final Results

I’m about to see just how silly I look because I’m going to open the final results, and see if I got the top 5 right or at least the podium right. I’ll be amazed if the Big Z is in there, he’s just not ready to make his come back. 

1. Hafthor Bjornsson (Iceland) โ€“ 51.5 points
2. Mateusz Kieliszkowski (Poland) โ€“ 45 points
3. Brian Shaw (USA) โ€“ 44 points
4. Martins Licis (USA) โ€“ 38.5 points
5. Jean-Francois Caron (Canada) โ€“ 35 points
6. Johan Els (South Africa) โ€“ 30 points
7. Matjaz Belsak (Slovenia) โ€“ 30 points
8. Konstantine Janashia (Georgia) โ€“ 22 points
9. Robert Oberst (USA) โ€“ 19.5 points
10. Zydrunas Savickas (Lithuania) โ€“ 9 points (withdrew after Event 4)

I didn’t see that coming, Kieliszkowski has knocked Shaw down to 3rd, and Licis isn’t that far behind. Next year we could see a repeat of a decade ago  with Zydrunas Savickas and Mariusz Pudzianowski was duking it out, only for Brian Shaw to enter the mix followed by Hafthor which lead to a decade of Zydrunas, Brian and Thor dominating the top spots. 

Could Licis and Kieliszkowski be the new Shaw and Bjornsson, making Shaw and Bjornsson the New Zydrunas and Pudzianowski ? Setting the tone for a new era of podium domination ? 

Body Power 2018

I am lead to believe Hafthor Bjornsson, Robert Oberst, Zydrunas Savickas and possibly Brian Shaw (unconfirmed but mentioned along with Eddie Hall) will be at this years Body Power. I’m not sure Thor and Eddie in the same building is a good idea, but sure be interesting. Bill Kazmier, Laurence Shaelei, Terry Hollands and a number of big names are on the listing too.

If you’re at Body Power keep an eye out for me, and I’ll be looking forward seeing the monsters again. 

WSM Photo Courtesy of Hafthor’s Instagram.

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Body Power 2018 – 10th Anniversary Vegas Style

I have been to 8 of the 9 Body Powers, and I’ve seen it grow and become all encompassing and now in its 10th year, they are going with a huge event complete with a Las Vegas theme, starting Friday 11th May 2018 running until Sunday 13th May 2018, it should be huge. 

Body Power Aerial Shot

Body Power Aerial Shot

The very first Body Power Event if I remember was only 1 hall, and mostly protein / supplement companies and body builder types with just the odd smattering of other companies like equipment and clothes. I wish I had taken some aerial photos but as mere customer it wasn’t possible sadly. Fast-forward 10 years, yes a whole DECADE!! and now its impressive filling a huge 4 halls, and last year broke over 100,000 visitors over the 3 days of the expo. This year there is a Body Power Trade Expo, The Vegas Party, and what looks like a blast the launch of the Muscle and Fitness HERS Magazine party party complete with Pink Carpet Event. Anyone who knows Nick Orton the organiser will likely rib him a little about the cost of the pink carpet ๐Ÿ˜‰ 

The Main Event

Eddie Hall at Body Power 2015

Eddie Hall at Body Power 2015

The main event is looking like it will be huge, with big names in the boys corner like Flex Lewis, Kai Greene, Christian Guzman, Ryan Terry, Martyn Ford, William Bonac, Aaron Lambo, Dorian Yates, Kris Gethin, and over in the ladies corner will be Paige Hathaway, Louise Rogers, The West Twins, Gal Yates, Courtney Black, Carly Thornton, Char Borley and I hope to see the lovely Kate Errington sporting her pro card too. 

Over in the “Something Else” corner we have the amazing Bionic Body, a double amputee who proves you can success if you want it badly enough, and along with Terry Hollands, and Bill Kazmeier we have The mo’fo’in MOUNTAIN! Yes Hapthor Julius Bjornsson, Game of Thrones The Mountain will be in the house, along with Zydrunas Savisckas. All we are missing is Eddie Hall (who is in York on the Friday doing his Tour) but could make an appearance Saturday or Sunday, and Brian Shaw who was sorely missed last year. 

Sadly this will be the first year, the late Rich Piana won’t be around but the 5% Percent stand should still be there to offer drive and advice to the 5%ers, and worth a visit if only to see the monster that is Martyn Ford. 

Body Power Trade Expo

Mountain of NOCCO

This year it also has a large Trade Village with B2B Sections (Business to Business) located in Hall 6 to stock up for your business needs, which is free to register and attend (doesn’t include the main show). If your a website owner, affiliate marketer, or in anyway selling products via a Gym, Shop or Concession, or even if you want to get into the sector, you really should make your way down there.

You can get samples of the products so you can provide some SOLID reviews, I never review or endorse any product I haven’t personally tried, and events like this provide the opportunity to try out and discover new products. You may also be able to source boxes of samples to send out to customers as well.

A few years ago, The Curse gave me a box of 250 samples, which I sent out 200 customers (I gave 50 out in my gym) and out of those 200 customers, I gained almost 35% orders for that product. I targeted customers who IMO bought a weaker pre-workout and would really notice The Curse kick. I was able to do this as I had sampled many pre-workouts at shows like this. 

Muscle and Fitness Hers Launch

The M&F HERS Launch Party looks like it will be a killer event, hosted by Paige Hathaway who is absolutely lovely, and takes time with her fans, along with the Late Rich Piana, Michelle Lewin, Steve Cook and Kai Greene I’ve not seen many people take so much time with their fans but Paige took time answering questions, offering advice and encouragement to so many. 

Muscle and Fitness HERS Launch Party

Muscle and Fitness HERS Launch Party

Muscle and Fitness Magazine is launching a womens only version of the magazine, which is probably long overdue, male based magazines just don’t cut it. Men want big arms, big chests and muscular legs but women a toned waist, a perky bum and firm thighs so the more magazines aimed at women the better. 

Personally I’d like to see a magazine aimed a more Average Joe, or newbies-intermediate to the gym, which really digs down to the basics, maybe I should pitch the idea at the Pink Party ๐Ÿ™‚

Body Power Vegas Party

The Body Power Vegas Party looks like it will be a stonker too, to celebrate the 10th Anniversary, BP are going big, indoor fun fair, an interactive pool, casino games and more. I’m not quite sure what to expect but it sure as hell looks fun and I’ll be there. 

Body Power Las Vegas Party

Body Power Las Vegas Party

Flash Back

I figured I’d post a little flashback set of images from the previous few Body Powers where I have been taking photos. I really need to dig up 2012 and 2013 images. When I come across them I’ll post them as a flashback. 

As you can see its going to be a hell of an event, you can find more information out on the Body Power Website

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

New Honda Civic mk 10 / X

Well after having the hardest time getting information out of Honda, I swear they make it as hard as possible to find about the cars. It actually took about 2 months to arrange a test drive, then 3 months after that to get literature and booklets to tell me about the car and specifications and around 2 months to actually get to the point of buying one. 

Honda Civic mk10 Blue

Honda Civic MK 10 Sporty Blue

I really liked the look of the 10th Generation Honda Civic, since the 2006 Model they have been slowly progressing from a Hot-Hatch into a saloon style model while maintaining the Hatchback appeal (and boot hatch). Honda this time around have produced a Saloon, Coupe and Hatchback, sadly the UK only gets the Hatchback at this point but I suspect there will be a Coupe with the Type S or Special Edition TI / SI model. The whole world is actually getting the same basic shape, where as different regions have always had slightly or very different shaped cars, some of them as different as a Ford Fiesta and a Ford Focus, so not just like different grills and lights units. This is what they do between Mk 9.0 and Mk 9.5 where they changed the daylights from a row of LEDs to Neon Wire type stuff.

My Test Drive

When I finally got my test drive, I was given the Honda Civic with the baby 1.0 litre 3 cylinder turbo engine, paired with Honda’s CVT Gearbox in Cosmic Grey for a full 8 hour test drive. First up, I really didn’t like the colour at all. The engine was nice, nippy and the turbo was perky and fast. I’ve read there is a few seconds artificial delay in the turbo’s spooling up, but I really didn’t notice this. What I will say is, CVT’s are quite loud, but add in the 3 cylinder and its generally quite loud when you push it. The trim was really nice, lots of gadgets.

Cosmic Grey Civic Sport Plus

Cosmic Grey Civic Sport Plus

I later tried the 1.0 Litre 3 cylinder engine paired with Honda’s 6 Speed Manual Transmission in the standard SE Trim. Again the engine is plucky and nice, but wasn’t a fan of the manual box, not as nice as the older 6 speed used used in the 9th Gen or even with the 8th Gen both of which was really nice. Lastly I test drove the 1.5 litre 4 Cylinder Turbo with the Sport Plus Trim and CVT Transmission which was really really nice but horrible seats, so very many toys.

I had settled on the 1.5 litre 4 cylinder turbo engine with the Prestige luxury trim, the CVT Transmission and in Brilliant Sport Blue Metallic Paint. I also went with the Black Line Edition so it has a front, side and rear splitter and body kit all in Black, 2 rear spoilers and really quite nice gadgets.

Fully Loaded Gadgets

Its amazing how many Gadgets the Japanese have crammed into this car, many of them come as standard on even the basic SE Trim, such as all around parking sensors, traffic sign recognition, traffic migration, auto hand brake, capless fuel tank and intelligent cruise control, lane keeping tech, adaptive speed control and more are all standard. 

Smart Cruise Control

Honda Civic SE Steering Wheel

Honda Civic SE Steering Wheel

This is a masterpiece. Basically using the cars on board radar and proximity sensors, the car detects how close to the car in front you are (its variable from the full Audi to a fall back position), and maintains an active speed lock, both slowing down and speeding up with traffic and keeping the distance. It can also detect when a car cuts in on you and brake appropriately. It gets better, with the lane guidance the car uses the on board front facing cameras and radar to steer the steering wheel with the lines. 

It feels a little weird the steering wheel pulling and turning without you doing anything. Honda also have sensors in the steering wheel to ensure you don’t take your hands off for safety reasons. 

Speed Adaptive Power Steering
This is the MOST bizarre feeling, basically the slower your travelling the lighter it makes steering so you are more agile. The faster you are going (I’ve only gone 73 mph), the heavier it makes your steering so you can maintain smooth control. This means you can change lanes gently without worrying about flipping the car or any sudden jerking movements. Its ultra smooth moving lanes and fast at turning in the road.  

Fully Keyless Operation

Honda Civic Keyless Door Handle Prestige Trim

Smart Keyless Entry Door Handle

Touch Locking is a nice little touch, you can lock, alarm, and fold the power folding mirrors without taking the key out of your pocket. There is a button on the door handle which One Press locks and alarms the car, a Second Press folds the power mirrors and super locks the doors. 

Inside the door handles by your index finger is a sensor which will unlock the door drivers door only, or if using the passenger door it will unlock all the doors. Lastly the boot has a sensor with unlocks when you touch the button, and then locks and alarms when you close it, this doesn’t unlock the other doors when using the boot only. 

You can also use the remote, 1 press of the unlock unlocks the drivers door only, 2 presses unlocks all 4 doors. There is also a boot unlock button on the remote which auto locks when you close it. 

Triple View Reverse Camera

Honda Civic SE Parking Sensor

Honda Civic SE Parking Sensor

This is really quite fun, you have a 150 degree camera view, then you can change to a 90 degree camera view and finally a camera which points downwards so you can see rear bumper and whats directly below said bumper making it easy to see and park.

The Standard Edition or SE Trim, doesn’t include the camera but it does have all around parking sensors, with a nice big display which shows you which sensor is close, on a car layout plan. I’ve seen other cars which just tell you front or back but the Honda shows you which corner or which end, with increasingly loud beeps. 

The prestige trim shows you a little diagram in the corner of the rear camera or in the map when going forward. 

 

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Northern Bar and Restaurant Show 2018

Today I attended the Northern Bar and Restaurant Show 2018 and I discovered a revelation which I’ll divulge later. There was some top quality items which I will absolutely be suggesting when it becomes suitable. 

Northern Block Vegan Hazelenut Rose Ice Cream

Northern Block Vegan Hazelenut Rose Ice Cream

Right sit down, take a seat and get ready for the shock of the year. Northern Bloc are an ice cream company, with flavours like “Milk Chocolate and Salted Caramel” and “Hazelnut and Tonka Bean” but the shocker is “Peanut Chip” and “Hazelnut and Rose” are V… Ve…, that thing which means no dairy, no meat, no animal products, Vega… erm *deep breaths* Vegan, I said it, that V words. They are V#gan Ice Creams, and they are actually really nice tasting. I have tried gluten free bread and other stuff which has been “trend of the day” and honestly I like gluten an I like dairy, but those 2 ice creams especially the Hazelnut and Rose as delicious. I couldn’t really taste the rose or anything which was rose like. I think it was an accessory flavour, where it enhances the flavours. Either way I actually liked a V-word, plant-based, dairy free, lactose free, gluten free and all natural ice cream. I NEVER imagined I would say a thing like that, ever!!

Yorvale Dairy

Speakng if Ice Cream Yorvale the real dairy ice cream company also had a surprising offer, a Kefir based ice cream and smoothie drink. Sour Cherry and Jaffa Crumble ice creams was delicious. Kefir is the next big health food product, its an amazing product. Probiotic and very good for you. The smoothie / yoghurt drinks are little gloopy but the health benefits easily outweigh this. 

TeeTotal Company

TeeTotal Company Cuba Libre

TeeTotal Company Cuba Libre

TeeTotal Company‘s offerings was outstanding, I’m not a fan of Gin, so the TeeTotal G’n’T or non-alcoholic Gin and Tonic wasn’t to my taste, but the Non-Alcoholic Cuba Libre (Rum and Coke) was absolutely amazing. My second choice of alcoholic drink after Bourbon is Rum. I usually for Woods Old Navy or Appletons 7 yr Reserve, but as a Driver I generally need to stick to non-alcoholic.

However the choices are pretty limited when I or other non-drinkers or drivers are out and about, but now if I can find places which sell it, I have found a new drink of choice. This stuff is made by a scientist who built up the drink layer by layer to make a non-alcoholic rum blend which tastes just like rum.

Its a light coca cola base flavour with just a hint of rum, a little rum flavour on the top. Its almost like you have poured a cola then a small amount of alcohol is stirred in to make a lightly flavoured rum and coke. I have yet to try it chilled over ice with a slice of orange/lime/orange in a high ball glass but I’ll post pics when I get hold of a few to experiment.

There are a number of other companies which stuck out, such as The Sweet Potato Spirit Company, Jarritos and The Food Porn awards, amongst others but I’ll post more about those in the coming days. The Food Porn awards really caught my eye because I used to be STM Photography (My initials are STM) but then I changed to Steven UK so it was kinda a little deja vu, although they are Shoot The Moon but still made me smile and more about their products soon. 

 

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Amazon Give Alexa Follow Up Mode… Finally!

There are a few irksome things about Amazon’s Alexa which are a bit rubbish, the fact you don’t have an “Owner Mode” and a “Guest Mode” and the fact you can’t set which search engine to pull results from and the fact 90 times out of a hundred it tells you “Sorry I don’t know that”, which brings us to follow up questions which the AI doesn’t get at all. 

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo

Lets say you want to find out where your nearest Sainsburys store is and the opening hours, then you want the phone number, it currently goes like… 
Me: Alexa Where is my nearest Sainsburys store?
Alexa: I found a Sainsburys store nearby, its approx 5 km away on London Road. 
Me: Alexa What time is my nearest Sainsburys Store open ?
Alexa: Your nearest Sainsburys Store on London road is open from now until 4pm.
Me: Alexa What is the phone number for my nearest Sainsburys store?
Alexa: The phone number for your nearest Sainsburys store on London Road is 0161…

Which is clunky as hell, that’s on the assumption Alexa doesn’t have a tantrum and tell you “I don’t know that but I’m working on adding more local businesses”. However this “Follow Up Mode” in theory means it should work like…

Me: Alexa where is my nearest Sainsburys store ?
Alexa: I found a Sainsburys nearby, its 6km away London Road.
Me: What time is it open ? 
Alexa: Its open from now until 10pm.
Me: Whats the phone number  ?
Alexa: The phone number is….

How It Works!

Amazon Echo Follow-Up Toggle in Alexa App

Amazon Echo Follow-Up Toggle

This new “Follow-Up Mode” is disabled by default and needs to be enabled using the Alexa Mobile Phone app, otherwise it won’t work, its as simple as flicking a toggle switch. You need to go to the Alexa App, then select Settings then choose the device you wish to enable it on, and scroll down to “Follow Up Mode” and flick the toggle. 

All Amazon Echo Devices will give users approx 5 seconds after their first query to ask a follow up question, during this time frame the blue ring on your device will be lit to make you aware Alexa is still listening. The Follow-Up mode is smart enough determine what is general chatter in the room verse what is a follow up question. Its not clear if it recognises the original enquirers voice or just recognises a question but its said to work. 

Its worth noting that if music is playing or an audiobook or similar it won’t remain active as its a fair assumption you won’t be asking follow up questions. Also if you wait too long and the blue ring stops flashing, you’ll need to use your chosen wake word, which is “Alexa” by default. 

Saying “Alexa”, “Stop”, “Cancel”, “Thank You”, or “Go To Sleep”, will end your session so you need to start from scratch should you do this. Its also worth noting if your query ends with these it can end your query too. 

Owner and Guest Mode

I really want Alexa to have an Owner Mode and Guest Mode, by Owner Mode, I mean so Alexa recognises the owners voice much like “OK, Google” google can be set to recognise the owners voice pattern but it can be set to accept anyones voice. Owner Mode would be great for general commands, but Guest Mode for when your having a party and you want guests able to adjust the music or change the playlist or control the lights stuff like that. 

This would also open up the option of Alexa recognising multiple people, so “Turn my light on” could turn your light on, and when the missus says it, it turns her light on, and the same for any other command, playlists being a key one, adding to your diary and such.  

This is available in the USA only for now, but I would expect it to drop in the UK soon, the updates usually roll out quite quickly. 

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

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