The road is long, with many a winding turn #nissanLEAFcar21

Yes, you can move large iron post hole tools in a LEAF

This is my last post in the Nissan Big Turn On competition. Yes, you can all breathe a sigh of relief now! From the breathless two weeks of driving the LEAF around, and taking 30 odd people out for mini test drives, to the latter two weeks of writing blog posts and canvassing support, it’s kept me busy. I think I’ve spent around three or four hours a day at it, which on top of a full time job and a family has been hard work I couldn’t have done it without the incredible support from my lovely wife, or my wonderful friends I’ve made through twitter.

It’s been an interesting month. My competition URL on Nissan’s site changed 3 times, without redirects from the old address being put in. One of these happened at 5pm on the day 45,000 newspapers with the suddenly defunct address hit doormats. A redirect wasn’t put in for 16 hours.

Things like this were a minor distraction though. What started off as a competition to promote, and hopefully win a car, for me turned into a challenge of not letting the incredible support I’ve had down, as well as promoting and trying to win a car. It is in many ways humbling.

In the last week I’ve had over twice the number of people engage on the #nissanLEAFcar21 hashtag as my nearest competitor. In the last 24 hours I’ve had 200 tweets in my hashtag, almost 3 times that of my nearest rival, and I’ve reached 100,000 people, twice that of my nearest competitor.

I feel genuinely blessed, whether my (and your) efforts have been enough to win the competition or not. I’ve had Turn Ons from some of the biggest names in parent blogging, and even from other competitors. Electric car and eco-nut Robert Llewellyn has voted for me and wished me good luck. I feel popular in a way that I certainly never did at school :)

I’ve also had a few people comment about spamming their twitter timeline. They are of course absolutely right, and I did apologise to each and every one of them. It’s a fine line between popping a few tweets for promotional purposes into my timeline and over-egging it and on occasion I over-egged it.

I don’t think I could have done anything more, overseeing the publication of more than 30 blog posts on 15 different sites, appearing on local radio and featuring in the local newspaper. I feel genuinely satisfied at my attempts in the competition.

I think it’s sad that IP limiting and catchpas had to be introduced to the competition- I understand outside of the blogger competition, in the general one individual got 14,000 votes overnight, which necessitated this- but I do hope when the independent adjudicator that Nissan have appointed review my attempts, they are happy that everything stacks up and that my votes are supported by my activity.

Win or lose, and I sincerely hope that it’s “win”, I’d like to thank everyone who has been behind me in this competition. I intend to trawl my hashtag over the rest of the week and thank you all individually. If you didn’t tweet, then you’ll have to take this “thank you” as your reward.


Backronyms, silent running and daft noise laws #nissanLEAFcar21

When I picked up the Nissan LEAF for a two week test drive on 30 March, I did the typical bloke thing. Yes, I completely ignored the manual and just drove the thing. Two weeks later when I returned the car (*sniff*), I realised I still hadn’t read the manual. Fortunately, unlike some of the other competitors, I didn’t run out of juice or have any technical issues but I did think I should probably read up a bit on the car.

So I have. At length. I don’t just incessently ask people to vote for me you know. (You can vote of course) As well as making me respect the car on a whole new level, there were a few obscure juicy titbits I dug out that I thought I’d share. I mean everyone knows the incredibly low running costs (£1.91 a mile) or how sensible the range is (100 or so miles, when 95% of trips are under 25 miles) but did you know that LEAF is a backronym?!

Welcome to the world of the backronym then. A backronym in a portmanteau* of backwards and acronym, which means that rather than taking the initial letter of a phrase to come up with a word (like RADAR, radio detection and ranging), you take a word like LEAF and come up with a phrase that fits it: Leading, Environmentally friendly, Affordable, Family car.

I was a bit flabbergasted by the whole concept of the backronym to be honest. It turns out I’ve spent the first 5 minutes of every single quiz night we’ve been to trying to come up with the best backronym rather than an acronym. The St Albans Holistic Intelligence Team would be shocked to know…

I’ve had a few people ask me whether the LEAF has an electronic noise system to stop you (me) killing pigeons. Well Nissan actually delayed the launch of the LEAF in the UK in order to remove the Leaf’s electric warning sound for pedestrians. UK law mandates that any hazard warning sound must be capable of being disabled between 11:00 pm and 6:00 am, and the Leaf’s audible warning system does not allow for such temporary deactivation. So until UK law catches up with technology, you’ll just have to keep your eyes peeled.

Another great fact I read was the LEAF is going to be made in Sunderland (Why Aye Man!) from next year. Nissan have pumped a considerable amount of money into their plant to produce the car in the UK. Wave the Union Jack chaps.

Okay, pigeons might not be safe, but there is a great safety feature that I spotted when one of my chums who’s an engineer asked me about what happened with all that high voltage electricity in the case of a crash. The Nissan Leaf’s battery pack is shielded from crash damage by structural steel reinforcement. To prevent shock and fire hazards, the Leaf  also has a battery safety system that’s activated in a crash. The airbag control unit sends a signal which mechanically disconnects the high voltage from the vehicle. Apparently, the two dozen LEAF’s that were caught in the Japanese tsunami all made it through without catching fire and with their batteries intact. Obviously they were pretty broken though!

The competition is ending midnight on Monday. According to I’ve generated more buzz on twitter in the last week than the other 9 UK competitors combined. I’m not winning but your vote could help! Thanks.

*from Alice in Wonderland, a word made out of two words put together. This is a minefield of learning isn’t it?

28 Days Later #nissanLEAFcar21

Lovely people, every single one of them

I can’t believe it’s been 28 days since a handful of us descended on the O2 Arena to pick up our Nissan LEAF’s for a two week test drive. Plenty has happened in those 28 days too. I’ve had great fun driving the Nissan LEAF around, marvelling over it’s funky reversing camera, astounded by it complete silence and wowed by it’s practicality :

There is also a series of “How many bloggers can you get in Nissan LEAF posts by the various bloggers who took part:

Finally, there has been some great coverage elsewhere:

  • There is also a brilliant all-you-need-to-know post from Being Mrs C called Nearly everything you ever wanted to know about the Nissan Leaf – #NissanLEAFcar21 that explains a lot of the science behind electric cars.
  • Is this the Future? A post about looking forward in time from the past, and foreseeing many things but maybe not electric cars.
  • Adventures in #nissanLEAFcar21 my wife’s perspective on the LEAF
  • There’s a post on Finding Kirsty about electric cars here, which is well worth a read too.
  • St Albans People have also featured the challenge, and you can read all about it here (as well as seeing the uncropped profile picture of me!)
  • The Herts Advertiser have me on their website and in print. The web version is here.
  • West Herts Drive Time had me on t’wireless for half an hour on Friday. You can read about it on their blog.
I’ve been genuinely overwhelmed by support I’ve had from so many different people, some of whom I know (one of whom I’m married to), some of whom I’ve never met before but chat to on twitter and some I don’t really engage with on twitter or facebook. In many ways it’s been humbling to see the parent blogger community get behind me by voting for me and writing posts for me and cramming themselves into a Nissan LEAF for me. 
I’m sorry to all the people who follow me on twitter that must be getting a bit sick of the endless promotion too, it will all be over come Monday when the voting closes and the results are scrutinised by an independent adjudicator before the winner of an actual Nissan LEAF is announced. I’m sorry for all the posts and promotion I’m going to do in the last three days- if it genuinely annoys you, unfollow me until 1 May :)
If you’ve not voted, you can click the vote button on the sidebar or click here. If you are kind enough to vote, could you click the tweet button and the facebook like button that appear after voting too? 
It looks like it’s down to me and Laura Driver as we enter the final straight. I’d like to think I’ve done enough promotion and written enough engaging content to be in with a chance, even though I don’t have a dog for an in car photoshoot unfortunately but the competition wont be decided on who’s done the best content, it will be decided on who has the most legitimate votes. So please, vote for me!

RIP the “yellow peril” #NissanLEAFcar21

Twelve years ago you came into my life, sporty, more than a little yellow, and a real head turner. I remember the excitement of picking you up and the illicit joy of taking you on our honeymoon down to a lighthouse in Cornwall.

I worked you hard for the first few years, and put up with your faults- bits of you were more than a little unreliable. Like when I was driving to work and lost all the gears above 2nd. I limped along to the garage with you and they said it was probably just a coupling, it was impossible for the gearbox to go in a car that had only done 8,000 miles. Well, they replaced the broken gearbox but it was only a few months before the on/off button broke on the stereo, locking it permanently on.When it took SEAT 4 months to replace the radio, over the coldest part of winter, I chuckled in the cold and cursed. Cursed because the aircon was wired in to the same unit as the radio and I froze half to death. Still, at that point I could still wind down and wind up the drivers side electric window with impunity- it wasn’t until three years later the motor packed up with typical Spanish bad grace.

Yes, in many ways you were always a bit flawed, much like me. I should have realised really, picking you up a few weeks before I failed my accountancy finals in spectacular fashion. But 12 years and 80,000 miles later, I am sad to see you go. I’ve had a car, you or a little red peril, for half of my life now, but since the trailer came and took you away to the big breakers yard in the sky on Saturday, I am car-less.

RIP the yellow peril.

If you would like to help me replace the yellow peril, with a peril of indeterminate colour, you could vote for me in Nissan’s Big Turn On here. Ten of us are competing for the grand prize of a Nissan LEAF. I’m the only driver without a car in the competition (HINT HINT).

St Albans, electric cars, and some facts and figures about Romans #nissanLEAFcar21

courtesy of

Yesterday a dual car transporter came to St Albans to pick up the Nissan LEAF I’ve had for just over two weeks. The weather was wet and miserable, a fitting send off really because against all expectations, I’m going to miss the LEAF.
St Albans, if you didn’t know, was one of the 3 major Roman settlements in the UK. Of course it was named Verulamium back then, and only got it’s current name because Saint Alban, the UK’s first Christian Martyr, was executed and interred here. Although we’re called St Albans, some websites stubbornly insist on spelling St as Saint but we live with it.

With that in mind, I thought I’d mix a few Roman statistics up with some of my own from my period with the LEAF.

  • We did 263 miles in two weeks with the LEAF, that’s 18.8 miles a day on average.
  • The minimum distance a Roman Legionary had to be able to march in a day to pass basic training was 20 Roman miles. That’s 18.1 of our British miles. 
  • Roman Legionary’s would then pitch camp and put up fortified defences after all that marching.
  • We just pressed the “off” and locked the car- job done!
  •  Icelus carried the news of Nero’s death from Rome to the exile Galba in Spain in only seven days, which would have required a speed of around 10 miles an hour to cover the 700+ miles. He needed a relay of horses, that the Roman Empire kept for spreading urgent news to do this. He would have covered 100 miles in a day.
  • Our Nissan LEAF has a range of 100 miles on a single charge.
I think the distance we travelled is fairly typical of a local family- not a huge amount of travel during the week and a few longer journeys at the weekend. The LEAF did this admirably, so no complaints there!
Even though the car has gone, you can still vote for me if you’d like to (I’d certainly like you to!) here

Just how many bloggers can you get into a Nissan LEAF? #nissanleafcar21

The masses gather!

When I commented how spacious the Nissan LEAF was, little did I suspect the way my blogging buddies would offer to help illustrate this quite so graphically! But on a damp Sunday afternoon, the masses descended upon our house to see just how many bloggers we could fit into a Nissan LEAF. Watched on by the police (he was washing his car down the road), we piled in as many people as turned up and truth be told, could have had another one or two in if we had asked more people!

The LEAF took:

  1. Mediocre Mum
  2. AnnieQPR
  3. Cbolam
  4. MummySphere
  5. ActuallyMummy
  6. BeingMrsC
  7. Zooarchaeologis
  8. GardenMum
  9. CocoonPhotography
  10. Veggiexperience
  11. MuddlingAlong
  12. Daddacool (me!)
But I know what you’re really looking forward to is the video, so without further ado, here we go:

#spotify playlist for #nissanLeafcar21

If you’re driving an electric car, there are certain songs you just have to play aren’t there?

If you’ve got a spotify account, have a listen to mine, if not you can sign up for a free one (follow the instructions)! What would you add to it? Suggestions in the #nissanLEAFcar21 hashtag on twitter would be great!


We’re in a competition as part of the Big Turn On to win a Nissan LEAF, you can read about it and vote for me (if you want to) here.

Local paper ahoy! It’s me and #nissanLEAF21 in the Herts Ad!

It’s nice to generate interest locally in the Nissan LEAF I’m currently trialling as part of Nissan’s Big Turn On campaign, so when the local paper got wind of what was happening, I was more than happy to have a chat with them on the phone and pose in as cheesy a manner as possible for some photos. Reaction has been very positive, apart from one elderly gent in a Citroen who got cross with me because I wouldn’t mount the pavement so he could drive on my side of the road.

As it says in the picture (click for full size), I have been really surprised by how much like a normal car the LEAF is when it comes to practicality as drive-ability. So much so, I’m going to be sad to say goodbye to it next week when the trailer comes to pick it up. Wonder if they’ll let me keep the decals as a memento..

Only problem is, I forgot to hold my tummy in…

It’s the way my shirt is hanging, I’m not that fat. Honest

I’m in a competition as part of the Big Turn On to win a Nissan LEAF, you can read about it and vote for me (if you want to) here.

How silent is silent? #nissanleafcar21

You might have noticed how I accidentally did for a pigeon in my trial Nissan LEAF last week. To say that the car is quiet is an understatement really.

To show you just how silent the Nissan LEAF is in motion, I’m turning to my buddy and fellow Shell V-Power Network of Champions dude, Rutger Middendorp. Rutger had a LEAF for 3 months last year and was so impressed with the silent running, he made some videos to illustrate it:

That’s right, Rutger actually turned the Nissan LEAF into a mobile recording studio. Funky or what? It ties in with my personal experience (albeit with slightly less in the way of musicians and musical instruments). I spent last week taking people from my office out for a spin at lunch time, and every time I got them settled in the car and turned it on, they were all really surprised as they could hardly tell the difference between off and on.

I’ve noticed when I’m out on my peddle bike cycling round the woods, I have to be very careful when I approach horses that are between bridleways. They don’t hear a bike and occasionally get spooked when one zooms past them. When we pop round to visit my parents next week and take this route, I’ll have to be extra careful.

I’ll leave you with Rutger’s second video in his silent session. Enjoy! In the mean time, if you would like me to run a mobile recording studio from a Nissan LEAF, please click here and vote for me