Categories
Hobbies And Interests

Andy’s Hobby Blog : Past And Current Interests

Andy’s hobby blog is an insight into my past and current interests. The things that I like to do in my spare time.

When I was a youngster, in the dim and distant past, I was very interested in plastic scale models, you know, the ones from companies like Airfix.

Andy's Hobby Blog - Past And Current Interests

I used to assemble quite a few aircraft and motorbikes. I even painted a few and applied the little decals that came with them. A few were hung a few from my bedroom ceiling and thought they looked great.

Sadly I had a bit of an accident with a wonderful biplane that I’d built.

We went to see my grandmother, one sunny day, by car. I as eager to show her my biplane and she was very impressed. Once she’d seen it, I put it back in my Dad’s car, on the rear parcel shelf.

Later that day, as we were about to go home, I discovered that plastic models and the sun don’t mix. It had melted and the wings were very droopy 🙁

Andy’s Hobby Blog – Radio Controlled Cars

When I got a bit older, I discovered radio controlled electric cars. There was a club where I lived and they used the village hall for racing 12th scale electric cars.

I thought this was fantastic so I started saving my pennies. I saved enough to buy a 2 channel radio control transmitter and receiver.

Someone at the club made me a car chassis out of polycarbonate and I started to buy the rest of the components. Eventually, I built a car and, as a result, could start racing.

It was brilliant fun and I have very fond memories of this wonderful hobby. It was a wonderful interest to have and is a good reminded of the past.

If you’re interest in radio controlled cars them Modelsport could be the place to look.

When I reached my late teens, I discovered real motorbikes and other interests that appeal to a teenager. I forgot all about radio controlled cars..

Current Interests And Hobbies

Fast forward so and my hobbies and interests are very different.

I bought my first computer back in the early 90s and I have to say that they have been a life long hobby. I also discovered amateur radio and have held a transmitting license for around 30 years.

My computer interest led me to start a small business as a computer repair technician so something good came out of a hobby.

I closed that business back in 2020 and am now enjoying early retirement. I have plenty of time on my hands for new hobbies and interests.

One of my new interests is being a hobby blogger and it’s actually a bit different from writing about my pastimes. It refers to someone who writes blog posts for the fun of it and doesn’t want to make a living from it.

Anyway, thanks for reading Andy’s Hobby Blog, I hope you found it a little interesting 🙂

Categories
Hobbies And Interests

I’m a hobby blogger and I write for pleasure

I’m a hobby blogger from South Wiltshire and I write blog posts for the pleasure of it, not to make money.

I know that there are many blog writers that post to make a living from their websites.

It must be quite a pressured job, especially if they have to meet deadlines so I’ll stick to doing it for fun.

I’ve always enjoyed writing so I took it up as a an interest when I took early retirement.

I must confess that I’m not a natural writer and I’ve had no formal training in the subject. However, I do find that it’s a great way to keep my mind active.

Before retirement, I used to to be self employed and had a small, home based, computer repair business.

I closed it in 2020, during the Covid-19 and also moved to a retirement property. It was a great way of making some money but it started to become too stressful.

Hobby Blogger ; Pleasure Not Profit

Hobby Blogger : My Interests

I’m interested in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and technology so these tend to be the subjects that I write posts about.

I’ve you’ve got a new website and you’re struggling to get it well placed in Google’s search engine results pages, you might be interested to read my basic guide to On-page SEO.

I must add that I’m in no way and SEO expert, just someone who’s created a website for a small business and struggled to get it found online.

My other interests include amateur radio and simple electronics. I’ve held a radio license for 30 years although am not very active these days. The reason for that it that I’ve moved to a retirement apartment and am not able to erect external aerials.. Oh well.

Anyway, thanks for reading.. I’m off to think about the subject for another blog post.

Andy – Hobby Blogger – Pleasure Not Profit.

Categories
Salisbury

Start A Small Business In Salisbury : Become Self Employed

My plan was to start a small business in Salisbury back in 2007, and become self employed, after I’d moved here from Southampton.

I’d always had an interest in computers so it was decided that it would be a small repair business in the City.

I got in contact with an organisation called Business Link and had a meeting with one of their new business advisors.

We discussed various options available for new starts and how to register with HMRC for tax purposes as well as advertising options such as a website.

Start a small business in Salisbury - Become Self Employed

Start A Small Business At Home In Salisbury

The best option was to start a small business at home, become self employed, in Salisbury and to see how it would develop.

I had a spare bedroom available could be used as an office and workshop for repairs. It would be a lot cheaper than renting an office space in Salisbury.

As I was going to be a self-employed sole trader, I contacted HMRC and registered for self assessment.

I also registered for a Government Gateway user ID and password so that I could sign into my new HMRC account.

A short time later I received a letter with my Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number that I would need for tax returns.

I didn’t need to become VAT registered as I never expected to earn enough.

I also had to come up with a business name but didn’t want anything fancy.

In the end, I simply used the key words that someone was likely to type into a search engine if they were trying to find the services that I was offering. Salisbury Computer Repairs seemed like a good idea for a business in this City 🙂

Advertising My Small Business

If I wanted to get any customers for my new business then I was going to have to advertise.

Flyers and leaflets seemed like a good idea so I had some printed. A lot of time was spent walking around the streets in my local area, posting flyers. I suspect that many ended up in the rubbish bin.

I also contacted the Salisbury Journal and arranged for a small advert to appear in the trades section of their newspaper each week.

The advert seemed to do the trick and my phone was soon ringing. The phone was now ringing.

A website to be able to advertise my services online was also needed but there was a problem. I didn’t know anything about them or how to create a website.

I did some research online and discovered one of the website builders that I could use to create my own site.

It wasn’t long before I found out that it wasn’t appearing on the first page of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPS).

In the end, I bought a web hosting package, registered a suitable domain name built my own.

I also learned about On-page search engine optimisation and it wasn’t too long before my website was on page one of the results.

As far as I’m concerned, budget for a website if you can and/or use Facebook to advertise.

If you’re not comfortable with creating your own website then look into something like WordPress. This website uses WordPress and it’s very easy to use.

That’s a brief guide to how to start a small business in Salisbury and become self employed. Good luck.

Categories
Salisbury

Computer Repair Technician In Salisbury : Retired

I used to be a computer repair technician in Salisbury but took early retirement back in 2020. I used to deal with many of the common PC faults that people had.

The main ones were usually a computer not starting (booting up) or running slowly. These were often software issues but hardware problems were also responsible.

My small business in Salisbury operated from a workshop at my home in the city but I retired in 2020. I’d always been a bit of a tech enthusiast so the business seemed like a good idea.

The business started back in 2007 when Microsoft Windows XP was the most popular operating system.

MS Vista came along that year but I heard quite a few negative reports about if from customers so never tried it.

We then had Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and then onto 10. Version 11 has been out for a while now but I’ve not installed that on my desktop computer yet. In fact, I don’t think my machine is compatable with that particular operating system.

I used to deal with a range of common PC and laptop faults for customers in Salisbury. Can you guess what the issue was from the photo below?.

Computer Repair Technician - Overheating desktop computer

Yes, it was overheating in a big way and the computer would cut out. Once it had been cleaned, and a new layer of thermal paste was applied, it was working perfectly.

Computer Repair Technician In Salisbury : Common PC Faults

I used to deal with a whole range of common PC faults as a computer repair technician, some of which were easy to deal with while some could be a bit of a headache.

Broken laptop Screens

It’s fairly easy to replace but they can be quite fiddly. The other problem is getting hold of a replacement laptop screen that will fit as they come in many sizes and fitments.

Touchscreens and digitizers are more awkward as they tend to need a hot air gun to take them apart. The screens are held together with a glue and this needs to be warmed up

Overheating PCs

As you can see from the photo, overheating can be a problem in older computers and laptops. It’s due to the dust and fluff buildup in the CPU heatsink and it restricts the flow of air needed to cool it down. Smoking is also a problem as the nicotene also gets drawn in by the cooling fan.

DC jacks (charging sockets)

Sometimes the charging socket will wear and lose its contact with the charging plug. You can often hold the plug at an angle and it will charge but it really needs replacing.

Some laptops have a DC jack that is soldered to the motherboard. These can be fiddly to change even with a decent soldering iron. In other cases, the jack come with a short cable that plugs into the motherboard.. much easier.

Failed hard drives

Hard drives do fail and sometimes you know that they’re heading that way because they’re making a clicking sound.

If you’re lucky, you can recover the important data (photos, documents etc) from them by taking the drive out of the computer or laptop and putting it into a hard drive caddy.

If you can recover the data and transfer it to another hard drive or memory stick then the customer is likely to be happy. I’ve been very fortunate in the past but it’s not always easy.

If you own a computer or laptop, please make sure you backup your documents and photos on a regular basis. You might be very thankful one day

Software Problems

Quite a few of the problems with computers relate to the software. Sometimes if needs a good clear out of temporary files and cookies.. Sometimes a file has become corrupt.

There are so many reasons why a computer won’t start and far more that I have time to write about 🙂

If you can discover the reason then that’s great. Sometimes it’s easier to reinstall 🙂

Many thanks for reading, I hope it was of interest.. I have to say that I enjoyed being a computer repair technician in Salisbury but retirement is also very nice.

Categories
Salisbury

How I Created A Website For My Business In Salisbury

This is the story of how I created a website for my business in Salisbury and how I started to learn about On-page search engine optimisation (SEO).

I wanted a website when I started Salisbury Computer Repairs back in 2007 but I didn’t have a clue. I opted for one of the website builders that I found online and it seemed to do the job at first.

It looked ok but my phone wasn’t ringing and I wasn’t making any money.

It wasn’t long before I found out that it wasn’t appearing on the first page of Google’s results pages. I decided that there’s no point in having a website if no one can find it.

I started to do a lot of research into web design and soon realised what was wrong. That was that website content was the most important factor when it came to ranking well in the search engines. This content need to be written text, not just pretty pictures.

How I created A Website For My Business In Salisbury

I found out that I could look at the source code behind a website as this was what the search engines were seeing.

I decided to look at the code behind the original site that I’d created with the website builder and found that the title tag was ‘Home Page’. <title>Computer Repair Salisbury | Laptop repairs Salisbury</title> would have been so much better.

No wonder my website wasn’t showing up in Google search.

How I created A Website For My Business In Salisbury

After the trouble that I’d had I decided that I was going to create a website for my business in Salisbury. There are things that you need before you can start designing your dream site:

A website hosting package

You’ll need some for of web hosting before you can create your own website as opposed to using a website builder such as Wix or Weebly.

The web hosting package will provide you with web space on a computer server and it’s where your site will ‘live’.

You web host will also be able to provide a lot of other services such as SSL certificates to secure your site.

A Domain Name

You’ll also need a website domain name. The is the website address and typically starts with http://www.

As an example the domain name that I used for my business was ‘http://www.salisburycomputerrepairs.co.uk’.

You will also want to create an email address for your website so that your customers can contact you.

I think that a professional email address that is consistent with your brand has far more credibility.

In my case, I used andy@salisburycomputerrepairs.co.uk although this address is no longer in use.

Website Editor

You’ll need some sort of website editor to create your website. It’s possible to design a simple one with notepad or, better still, notepad++ which is free.

You will need to learn a bit about HTML so that you can create the ‘container’ for your web content and CSS. You can learn about all of these things at W3Schools.com

Upload Your Website With FTP

Once you have created your website, you’ll need to upload this to the web space.

One of the easiest ways to do this is via FTP (File transfer Protocol) and with a small, free program called Filezilla.

Categories
Ham Radio

How I Became A Licensed Radio Ham

A little story about how I became a licensed radio ham and issued with a license to transmit on the amateur radio frequencies.

I became interested in amateur radio back in the early 90s, I’d recently moved house and the chap opposite had a large aerial in his garden. It turned out that he was a CB radio operator and that the aerial was a half wave vertical.

I popped over to see him sometimes and started chatting to people on the radio. It wasn’t long before I’d bought my own CB radio.

How I became A Radio Ham - Andy : G7MJV

One of the chaps that I started speaking with lived close by and invited me round for coffee one day.

He happened to mention that his brother was a licensed radio amateur ( I think he held a G8 callsign) and that some radio hams could use the HF bands (Shortwave) if they’d passed the morse code* test.

This sounded much more interesting than CB and I wondered how I could listen to radio hams in other countries.

Very soon afterwards, I bought myself a Sony world band radio (ICF-SW7600) and started tuning around the HF amateur radio bands.

I’d already found out what the ham frequencies were and that they mostly used single side band, either upper (USB) or lower (LSB)..

Within a short space of time I was listening to 2 American hams on 20 meters 🙂

Some time later I bought a radio scanner from Nevada Communications and discovered the local amateurs on 2M and 70cms. I often used to listen to a semi-local repeater in Portsmouth on 145.775 MHz called GB3PC.

*UK radio amateurs have not had to learn Morse code to obtain their licence since July 2003.

How I Became A licensed Radio Ham and Was Issued with a Callsign

Now that I’d become so interested in ham radio radio, the 2 of us went to evening classes at Southampton Technical College to learn about radio and study for the RAE (Radio Amateurs’ Examination)..

We sat a 2 part exam. Part 1 (Licence conditions and transmitter interference), and Part 2 (Operating procedures, practice and theory).

When we sat our exams, in the early 90s, the RAE was run by the City & Guilds.

Towards the end of the 90s, it was taken over by the RSBG ( Radio Society of Great Britain). They introduced the Foundation, Intermediate and Full radio license.

We both passed the RAE

I’m pleased to say that, after a long wait for the postie, we both passed the RAE first time 🙂

I seem to remember that I had to send off my certificate to Ofcom and wait for a letter.

Within a short space of time, I heard back from them and was allocated a ‘B-class’ callsign. I became G7MJV while my friend was allocated G7MLS. We were now licensed radio hams 🙂

Not long after this, I bought a second hand Alinco DR-112 for the 2 meter band and a Diamond X-300 aerial. I was finally on air and enjoying amateur radio.

I’ve recently started early retirement so this is a great hobby to keep me busy.

That is how I became a licensed radio ham and granted the callsign of G7MJV.

Categories
Ham Radio

Licensed Radio Amateur : G7MJV

I’m a licensed radio amateur and DMR user from Salisbury and hold the callsign of G7MJV. I’ve been licensed for 30 years.

I occasionally use the local 70cms DMR repeater, GB7SP, located at the local Hospital which links to the South West Cluster.

I studied for the RAE at Southampton Technical College back in the early 90s. My license to transmit was issued after passing the exams and sending my application to Ofcom..

licensed radio amateur and DMR user - G7MJV

My first experience of listening to radio amateurs on VHF was when I bought a scanner from Nevada Radio when they were in Munster Rd, Portsmouth.

I regularly listened to the radio activity GB3PC, on 145.775 Mhz, which was located on top of a tower block in the city.

In those days I had quite a good RF path to the local repeaters and could operate quit a few of them including GB3SN at Fourmarks.

I’ve also written a short history of how i became interested in shortwave radio and how I became a licensed radio ham that you might be interested in.

Licensed Radio Amateur and DMR user

I’ve just returned to amateur radio after a long break and now have very limited space available for aerials.

The radio that I now have is an Anytone AT-D878UVII Plus that is capable of both analogue and DMR.

The thought of having to get my head around a UK DMR codeplug did put me off to begin with but I seem to have managed.

I bought the radio from Martin Lynch although a did download a Moonraker code plug.

It gave me an idea what was involved in deiting and creating a codeplug. The UK DMR network is huge.

The codeplug that I used was one that I downloaded from the Facebook page for the Bristol 70cms Repeater Group (GB3BS).

One thing to remember about DMR repeaters. If you’re in the habit of keying up without saying anything your digital ID is still transmitted!

Hack Green WebSDR

Despite my lack of HF equipment, and space for aerials, I do like to listen to radio amateurs online. There’s an online receiver called the Hack Green WebSDR which is very useful. It covers the main HF frequencies and is easy to operate.

If you’re interested in becoming a licensed radio amateur then why no search online and see if there is a local club that you can visit and, maybe, join.

Kind regards,

Andy – G7MJV

Categories
Retirement

Keeping An Active Mind In Retirement : Mental Health

Keeping an active mind in retirement is very important for good mental health so I’ve started a blog to keep my brain occupied.

I do have a few other hobbies as well so should be able to keep myself busy.

Before retirement, I ran a small computer repair business in Salisbury for almost fourteen years and loved it. Before that I was a BT engineer in the Southampton area so have had a bit of variety.

I’m now enjoying early retirement living in Salisbury and it’s great.

Keeping An Active Mind In Retirement - Andy's Blog

Blog writing seems like a perfect choice and I’ve got a few articles that I plan on writing .

I will probably spend longer researching them but it will keep my mind active.

There will be days when I think “What shall I write about” but I’m sure that a subject will come to mind.

If my mind is blank then I will find something else to keep me busy.

After all, I am retired and don’t have any deadlines to meet 🙂

Keeping An Active Mind In Retirement : Mental Health

When I was thinking about creating this retirement blog, I didn’t know what to use. A simple website or not.

There are some writing platforms such as WordPress.com or Google’s Blogger.com so I did a little research.

In the end, I decided to use my existing webhosting package and install WordPress.Org. It was easy to install and seems to have many advantages over a plain website.

It is much easier to use and I’m very glad that I chose it for Andy’s Blog.

I’ve also installed the free Yoast SEO plugin because, I’m told that it works really well when it comes to Search Engine Optimisation.

It keeps an eye on how many words I’ve written in a blog post and also let’s me know what the keyword density is doing.

It also does a whole lot more but I’m a newbie blogger and I have much to learn. It’s going to take a while to get used to my new writing platform so please give me time 🙂

So there we are, Andy’s blog is up and running and I’m keeping an active mind in retirement and hoping for good mental health 🙂 All I need to do now is to write some posts.

Categories
Useful Websites

Websites For Bemerton And Salisbury

Here are some useful websites for Bemerton and Salisbury that you may find interesting. I hope that they will be of use to residents, visitors as well as anyone doing some local history research.

If you have a website that you’d like to see listed here then please get in touch. If I’ve listed one that you’d like removed then let me know.

Websites For Bemerton And Salisbury

Bemerton Websites

The Bemerton Local History Society website contains a lot of very useful information about the area and should be your first port of call. It contains a very useful property index with historic details of local houses.

St John’s Place is a Community Centre in Lower Bemerton and is available to hire for weddings, events, birthday parties and meetings.

 St Andrew’s Church is located at the junction of Lower Road and Church Lane. It is a very small church and the final resting place of George Herbert.

A very interesting Wikipedia page about the priest and poet, George Herbert and his association with Bemerton.

Bemerton St John School is a small, Church Of England primary school located in Lower Road, Lower Bemerton. SP2 9NW

Hedley Davis Court is a retirement housing complex located off of Cherry Orchard Lane in Lower Bemerton.

It was originally built for the Royal British Legion Housing Association but is now run by Housing & Care 21.

The flats were opened in 1982 by General Sir Patrick John Howard-Dobson GCB. – https://www.housing21.org.uk

An interesting article about the lorry problems in Lower Bemerton and the danger that they pose for residents.

Salisbury

The Salisbury Information Centre is located at the rear of the Guildhall in Fish Row. The staff can provide you with advice about local holiday accomodation, tickets for the Stonehenge Bus Tour, information and tickets for City and Ghost walks. 

Wiltshire Tourist Information, an informed guide of Wiltshire attractions, landmarks & the history of Wiltshire.

Salisbury Cathedral is over 800 years old and has a 404 foot tall spire. It is famous for housing an original copy of The Magna Carta as well as the oldest working mechanical clock in the world, which dates from about 1386.

St Thomas’s Church is located in St Thomas’s square and is just a few hunderd yards away from the Cathedral Close. The Church is home to the famous Doom Painting as well as 3 medieval wall paintings in the Lady Chapel.

Arundells – The former home of Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath until he died in 2005. The house and  garden are open to the public 5 days a week but check the website for details.

The Salisbury Museum – The Kings House, 65 The Close.

Mompesson House – The Close, Salisbury SP1 2EL.

The Wardrobe housing The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum.

Boscombe Down Aviation Collection has a unique display of military fast jets such as the Hunter, Meteor, Lightening and Sea Harrier. You can climb into a lot of the cockpits and get a feel for what it was like to fly them. It is located at Old Sarum Airfield.

Wiltshire Creative has all the information that you need about Salisbury Playhouse, The Arts Centre and the International Arts Festival.

River Bourne Community Farm is home to a wide range of farm animals and an education centre employing full and part time teaching staff. The farm is located in Cow Lane, Laverstock. SP1 2SR

Waste Collection Calendar – Wiltshire Council area residents can find their rubbish, recycling and chargeable garden waste collection days.

If you know of any more useful websites for Bemerton and Salisbury then please do contact me so that I can add them to this list.

Categories
Salisbury

Places To Visit In Salisbury : Tourist Attractions

There are some wonderful places to visit in Salisbury including the Cathedral, St Thomas’s Church and Stonehenge as well as many other tourist attractions.

The Rifles Museum and The Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum are also very interesting places to visit, you can find them in The Close.

Places to Visit in Salisbury – The Cathedral

Why not visit historic Salisbury Cathedral set in the beautiful surroundings of the Cathedral close. It’s over 750 years old and features the tallest spire of any cathedral in the land at 404 feet. It is the most popular of all of the tourist attractions in Salisbury

You’ll also find that It contains the oldest working medieval clock in the world, made by 1386.

There are guided tours of the Cathedral Tower available and they can be booked online at the Tower tour times and booking page. Salisbury Cathedral is usually open from 09:00 – 17:00 in the summer and 12:00 to 16:00 in the winter.

Places to visit in Salisbury - The Medieval Cathderal - Tourist Attractions

Other popular Attractions in Salisbury for you to enjoy

The Salisbury Museum – The Kings House, 65 The Close. Includes the King’s House Cafe.

The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum – The Wardrobe, 58 The Close.

Mompesson House – The Close, Salisbury SP1 2EL. 

Arundells – The former home of Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath.

St Thomas’s Church is located in St Thomas’s square and is just a few hunderd yards away from the Cathedral Close.

The Church is home to the famous Doom Painting as well as 3 medieval wall paintings in the Lady Chapel, information about these can be found on the website.

Interesting Tourist attractions outside of the City

Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in South Wiltshire, about 2 miles west of Amesbury and 8 miles north of Salisbury. There is a visitor centre on site and it’s well worth a visit if you want to know more about the history of Stonehenge.

Wilton House is an English country house situated at Wilton near Salisbury in Wiltshire. It has been the country seat of the Earls of Pembroke for over 400 years.

I believe that it’s also one of the locations for the filming of Pride And Prejudice.

The House is generally open during the summer from 11.30am – 5pm although it’s best to refer to their website. The grounds are open for most of the year.

Located on a hilltop north of Salisbury, Old Sarum is the site of the original city. The Bishop relocated Salisbury Cathedral to its current location in 1219.

Most of the site is free to enter, although there is a charge to enter the Inner Bailey. 

As you can see, we have a wonderful range of places to visit in Salisbury and should keep everyone happy. The City is also a popular destination for those considering retirement.

I hope you enjoy the City and all of its wonderful tourist attractions, it’s well worth a visit.