Shiny new gadgetry in the sunshine

Having spent my last week of Juneathon blogging from a tent using an iPhone that hovered on the edge of battery life from about 4 o’clock on the day we arrived, I could have done with having some kind of mobile charging device. Unfortunately, I didn’t have one then. However, it appears that mobile charging devices are a bit like buses and, all of a sudden, two have come along at once.

The nice people at Mobile Solar Chargers sent me two styles to try. Both of them can be charged by mains, solar and USB or can trickle charge (I’m learning the technical terms as I go along) your electrical gubbins purely from the sun.

My plan for testing these was to give them a full charge and discharge three times for the sake of the battery and then take one to work to test it on one of my staying late days. Unfortunately my natural level of disorganisation let me down. The first time I tried, I remembered my phone and the charger, but not the right adapter. The second time I tried, I remembered my charger and the right adapter, but forgot my actual phone (it was awful, I felt lost). Anyway, what followed was a much more haphazard approach to my trials.

The Lite mobile charger has a nifty light on a stalk and an LED indicator on the back to show how much charge it has. I tried to charge this on the window sill but after a full day, I couldn’t get it past 80% so I gave up and charged it with the plug. Since then, I haven’t really tried out the charging technology, but the light on a stalk has proved to be bloody brilliant for reading my Kindle in bed.

Lite charger – with nifty light on a stalk

The second charger is the Pocket mobile charger. This doesn’t have a light on a stalk but instinctively I prefer the look and feel of it. This is purely a shallow judgement because it looks sleeker and swishier than its Lite counterpart (which seems a bit boxy and clunky in comparison).

The swishy Pocket mobile charger

Again, I haven’t had the organisational skills to try it out using its stored charge, but did carry out the following selfless scientific research. If you want to replicate the experiment you will need:

  • A sunny Thursday (preferably a birthday)
  • A beer garden
  • Some lovely beer (to be truly accurate reconstruction, this should be a pint of Lancaster Straw)
  • Splendid company
  • An iPhone and a solar charger

First of all, fritter away a good amount of battery power by messing around on twitter and the internet.

Do not judge the prioritising of my apps. Just look at the lovely sheep.

Next, locate a suitable beer garden, purchase a pint of lovely beer and take up residence in the sunshine. Bask for a moment in the joy of being in a beer garden on a Thursday afternoon.
Whilst basking (there’s no point stopping just for the sake of science) plug charger into phone and wait.

After an hour or so, marvel that your phone is fully charged.

Oooh look! Charged! I had a very nice slow cooked pulled beef sandwich while this was doing its thing.

This bodes very well for future camping trips.

Oh, and another thing that I have been very impressed with is the sturdiness of the various adapters – I’ve had another charger in the past and that ended up with me having to use a pair of tweezers to remove half a mini-USB lead from some gadget or another.

Both the Lite (£24.95) and Pocket (£19.95) chargers are available from Mobile Solar Chargers (and I do intend to carry on with my haphazard experiments).

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Nagging voices (real and imagined)

The battle between head and legs has started. I have developed another mental block on long runs and the really annoying thing is that it’s kicking in after, ooooh, a couple of miles. A couple of miles! Ridiculous. To try to get past this (and because he’s managed to nearly lop off the top of one of his fingers and can’t do his normal gym/training stuff) Ginge joined me on an after work long run of 10ish miles.

The negative nagging head kicked in after an unbearably short while at which point Ginge looked disappointed and nagged encouraged me to stop being a slacker. This lasted until I next ground to a halt when he decided to introduce a penalty system where I would have to do an extra 0.1 mile for every time I stopped. Apparently this was a carrot and stick system where the stick was having to do the extra distance if I stopped running and the carrot was not having to do the extra distance if I didn’t stop running; I still feel that I’ve been duped on this one.  To be honest, I carried on being a bit rubbish and there were little walking breaks throughout the whole thing.

On the one hand I know that this is a perfectly acceptable way to approach longer distances and I know that they weren’t the best conditions for me. I had underfed myself (salad is not pre-run food) (although Ginge had eaten the same as me and he was fine) (but I’m soft), it was a lot warmer than I expected and I was somewhat distracted by an impending stressful work thing the next day. On the other hand, I know that these are just excuses and I can do this if I put my mind to it and start to ignore the negative little voice that lurks in the back.

By the end of the run (which ended up as 10.5 miles because of route mismanagement rather than punishment) I felt as if my knees had been put on backwards and my aching ankles (caused by traipsing around Manchester over the weekend) were grumbling even more. All of this makes me suspect that a new pair of trainers might be in order. I was hoping that my faithful New Balances and the cheeky new upstart Asics Kayanos (that have tried to replace the NBs in my affections) might survive until October and then I could treat myself to a shiny new pair post-Royal Parks. Now I’m not so sure. I think that there’s certainly enough time to break in a new pair before the start line and the idea of running on bouncy new soles is rather appealing, but this wasn’t part of the plan. I think I’ll give my Asics a run out and see how they go over a distance. Or maybe think of a new post-race treat…