Rob Davis Home Page
Home is Telford, Shropshire. I am a retired data analyst and database developer. You are welcome to email me but manually remove the extra 'z' from the address. Due to spamming I don't accept email traffic from public email services such as Hotmail, Yahoo, MSN, Gmail etc which do not contain the word zooble in the body or subject line, or unless the sender is on my whitelist.
There are three cats in the house; one whose name tells you all about him - 'Tabby', I think he's four or five years old. There are also two rescue twin cats, 'Poppy' (a tortoiseshell) and 'Biggles' (a tabby-and-white) who are two years old.
Access 2003 "Record deleted" error - how to fix this problem.
Powerpoint CAN play MP4 High Definition (HD) video!
How to obtain and program additional key fobs for NECO remote garage doors
Telford and West Midlands weather - Shropshire Star News - Google
Links to my own other pages, and sites of interest
How to plan and carry out a successful Motorcycle Touring holiday.
The Dams Raid. This is not an exhaustive history, but does explain the pertinent details of the famous raid on the Mohne and Eder Dams, 16/17-May-43.
The Great Escape On the night on March 24/25th 1944, 76 Air Force officers escaped from Stalag Luft 3 at Sagan, Silesia. 50 were murdered by the SS and Gestapo. This is a highly detailed account of what happened, and afterwards compares the real events and people with those of the celebrated 1963 film.
Military Ranks Table. This compares all World War 2 period military ranks across various services and nationalities.
Prague : Scenes at the Church of St Cyril and Methodius, where the Czechs who assassinated Reinhard Heydrich in 1942 made their last stand.
Ypres and the Somme No-one who has not visited the battlefields of the First World War can appreciate the terrible slaughter which took place in the Ypres Salient and the Somme. Where to go, where to stay, what to see.
As a boy I listened endlessly to Michael Holliday's Runaway Train; and Billy Cotton's Dam Busters March. A great version of Barrett's Privateers. Here is me on the Spanish Pyrenees and the Millau Viaduct; and enjoying Indoor Skydiving and enjoying the Longest Zipwire in Europe.
The Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate, Ypres. This clip shows what life might have been like in the Death Star Canteen and is one of the funniest things I've seen, as is Frank Kelly's masterpiece parody of "the Twelve Days of Christmas".
Footage from the Great Escape site in Zagan, Poland are linked from the 'Great Escape' pages.
Recommendations for Good Service
City & Guilds qualified, ELECSA Registered
Bill did a thorough and very professional job in January 2017, installing a proper armoured power supply to my new shed, fitting a flourescent light and electrical sockets. I recommend him for any similar work you may need around the house, garage or garden.
SHOTS DIY SOS - Kenneth Tinsley. 01952 404805 / 07944 109250. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Kenny did an ace job on a bathroom in late 2017, removing damaged and tired parts and repairing, re-tiling and redecorating, even refitting the bath, sink and toilet for me. Definitely recommended!
R S Salop Ltd, Unit 7, Hortonwood 33, Telford TF1 7YT. 01952 405846 / 07825 869614
The entire set of gutters, soffits and weatherboards were replaced with uPVC units and this company did a thorough, professional job at a competitive price.
"Ginger Plumber and Heating"
Keith Bown, 17 Ercall View, Overdale, Telford TF3 5AP
0781 363 4089 or 0800 335 7057.
From the moment Keith walked in it was clear that a craftsman was at work, who knew exactly what he was about and who was completely capable of replacing the ancient Baxi with a new combi boiler, under the 2010 £400 scrappage scheme. Keith and his assistant worked hard to fit the new boiler and coped fluently with some unforeseen problems.
In April 2011 Keith stripped and refitted the bathroom, removing the bath, sink and toilet as well as the wall tiles. Keith made a superb job of re-equipping with a walk-in shower, running off the new boiler he had fitted the previous year, and new sink, taps and toilet. Here is a real expert at work!
In April 2012 Keith came back again, extending the heating system to fit a radiator in the conservatory, making as always a superb job of work and again coping with some unforeseen problems.
Keith came yet again in early 2016 and replaced the downstairs toilet cistern and washbasin, again doing a superb job. I've lost the details of Jo, lady tiler he recommended, but she also did an excellent job and completely re-tiled the room.
In 2017 having bought an apartment in Telford and a house in Leicester, I have had no hesitation in engaging Keith to refit the former's bathroom and install a modern condensing boiler in the latter. Keith also removed the old gas hob at our own house, and installed the new hob.
He is thoroughly recommended to anyone considering similar work.
Oswestry Windows and Doors
0161 680 998
This company did a first class job in removing the 16-year old polycarbonate roof from our conservatory and replacing it with a proper thickly insulated hard roof, complete with opening skylight and ceiling lights. The sales and consultation process was painless and informative and once on site the team worked diligently to complete the job, ensuring that any unavoidable disruption was kept to a minimum. They are thoroughly recommended.
Their electrical colleagues CNE (01691 437 720 / 07754 562 720, www.chrisnorriselectrical.co.uk / email@example.com) completed the electrical installation and added some extra features we requested.
Aquasoft Systems Ltd
It is extremely hard water here in Telford but after Aquasoft installed a TwinTec water softener machine under the sink, the difference in water quality was immediate and quite astonishing. It's no longer necessary to buy bottled water as the tap water is pleasant to drink without any additional filtering, and the dishwasher no longer needs rinse aid or salt added. Furthermore, no limescale cleaning products are necessary and our water produces a fine lather and generally feels completely different to how it was before. If you too suffer from hard water woes, you won't believe the difference a proper water softener machine will make to your property's water supply.
Belford is a good jumping-off spot for Alnwick, Berwick-Upon-Tweed, and such lovely places as Bamburgh with its quite stunning floodlit castle. Here, astonishing and spotlessly clean beaches are the best I have ever seen and are almost completely empty, not only from other visitors, but also from anyone trying to sell or rent you anything. At low tide you can walk for five or six miles along these magnificent beaches and never see another human being. The water comes straight from the North Pole in terms of temperature but I am not one for anything but paddling. If you like the high life with discos, pubs, and such noisy past-times, avoid Northumberland. For kiss-me-quick entertainment travel a few miles south down the coast to Seahouses. The chip shops here are excellent.
Head instead for Warkworth, Etal, Dunstanburgh and Norham Castles, preferably after you've joined English Heritage. Etal particularly has a fine Walkman tour of the ruins. Lindisfarne Priory is worth a visit, and you can't go without trying the celebrated mead; however check the tide tables first on the causeway approach, or you may find yourself marooned on the island until the next low tide.
One Northumberland delicacy not to be missed is the famous Singing Hinnie, available at café in Belford just to the right of the Salmon Pub. I won't go into details about this dish but can thoroughly recommend it with jam and a large pot of coffee or tea, ideal for either "elevenses" or a mid-afternoon snack.
Kinlochbervie, Sutherland, Scotland
I just had to visit this remote spot on the north-west Scottish coast after working on a production of Brian Friel's play Faith Healer. Kinlochbervie is a tiny but busy fishing port "as far north as you can go in Scotland" and I found a thoroughly excellent Bed and Breakfast B&B at "Braeside", 01971 521325. The establishment was spotlessly clean, the bedroom was warm and comfortable and this is recommend this if you are staying in the area. I didn't quite find "where the baby was buried" but I liked the place nevertheless! The B&B is easy to find - just follow the B road into the village and as you see the school buildings in a small valley on the right, "Braeside" is immediately on the left. If you get as far as the petrol pumps on the right, you've gone too far. I paid £27.50 for a twin bedded room, and the breakfast was as good as the accommodation. (September 2005)
Ofir, Esposende, Portugal
Having spent two weeks at the Hotel Axis Ofir on Portugal's Costa Verde in late September/early October 2009, I can recommend this location if you want a quiet holiday at this time of year, when it is free from noise and rowdy youngsters. The hotel is 4 star with attentive and unobtrusive staff, the rooms comfortable and well maintained with aircon, tv and safe, but without kettle and tea/coffee facilities although they do have fridges. Food - buffet style - was well presented and prepared, with inexpensive good quality house wine and other drinks. The pool area is modest but well kept and the amazing miles of sandy, shallowly shelving beaches are literally a stone's throw from the hotel and quite magnificent. A short walk brings you to the adjacent village of Fao from where you can ride the local bus north to picturesque Viana do Castelo or south to Blackpool-like Povoa de Varzim, from where the superb Metro electric tram takes you directly into Porto. I'd be pleased to amplify this information for interested readers. See Youtube and Tripadvisor websites.
I enjoyed a very pleasant and comfortable time in October 2011 at the Four Star Butterchurn Guest House in Otterburn, Northumberland.
Unering, Bavaria, Germany
I've spent three summers on my annual motorcycle holiday with bike friends, staying in a rented cottage in the very quiet village of Unering, Bavaria, Germany. This is owned by Dr Karl Neppel (firstname.lastname@example.org) and consists of a bedroom with three single beds with ensuite; a twin bed room, kitchen, living room with TV, downstairs toilet and shower room, cellar with Z-Bed and small play area. There is an integral garage and room to park two more bikes alongside the house. The cottage easily sleeps five and would sleep seven if one is content on the Z-bed and another on the living-room sofa. An Aldi is close by.
Unering is midway between Seefeld and Starnberg and between the Ammersee and Starnberger See, 25 miles south-west of Munich which is very easily reached by the most highly efficient public transport - electric train - from Seefeld. It is a good jumping-off- spot for exploring the beautiful Bavarian countryside and if you go southwards for 30 miles you strike the foothills of the Alps, a ride or drive to Innsbruck via Garmisch-Partenkirchen being particularly picturesque. The fairy-tale castles at Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein near Fussen and the adjacent cable ride are memorable visits.
If you would like details of this terrific holiday base please see the recommendation on my Motorcycle Touring page.
Estoril and Cascais, Portugal
I stayed in the Vila Gale hotel at Estoril in October 2012 and found the hotel excellent throughout with friendly English-speaking staff (although I re-learned my 'tourist' Portuguese beforehand). The room on the 7th floor was clean, tidy and very well maintained by the efficient and unobtrusive cleaning staff. Meals were buffet-style with a good selection and I liked the house wines. The only aspect I didn't like was the proximity to the main road, which means quite noisy traffic at morning and late afternoon rush times.
Walk over the road outside the hotel and sample the magnificent cakes and snacks at the Pastellaria Garrett - unmissable! For mid-day snacks or drinks try the Piccadilly bar, a couple of doors down from the hotel.
Estoril itself doesn't have much going for it, although the beaches are excellent. The only place of note is the massive Casino - reputedly the largest in mainland Europe - and worth a walk though, especially if you keep a tight hold on your wallet! The ground floor has wall-to-wall highly complex one-armed bandits and slot machines, which seemed to me to be the equivalent of an airliner flight deck in terms of complexity. But the polished black marble floor reflects the red-squared roof lights in a freaky effect, looking like you're walking over a giant chasm. Quite an experience in itself. The upper floor has the serious stuff; roulette, poker and so on, where you'd need to know exactly what you're doing if you intended to play.
I have also stayed at the Pousada in Cascais, this is a very comfortable hotel located in the old medieval castle.
Lisbon is an easy train or bus ride to the east, but take the 20 minute walk along the attractive sea front or a 5 minute local train journey west to adjacent Cascais, where there is far more to keep you interested. Many museums, bars, restaurants, parks and a huge marina are well worth exploring.
The Tripadvisor entry is here.
Etoile d'Or Caravan and Camping Site, Taxo d'Avall, Argelès-sur-Mer, France
My motorcycle touring party stayed in a rented 40-foot static caravan at the end of May 2013 and found the site extremely pleasant. Although there are many hundreds of caravans, each pitch is carefully shielded from its neighbours by high hedges, bushes and trees. There is an excellent onsite bar/restaurant and other facilities such as sauna, hairdresser and shop. Although the pool was closed when we were there (it was rather pre-season) it looked like a fun place and the location is quiet, but close to a good shopping centre with Aldi, Intermarché and fuel. The Pyrenean mountains dominate the skyline and are easily reached in a day's drive along sometimes challenging mountain roads, but have a go because the scenery is stunning. Go into Pas de la Casa in Andorra for tax-free shopping, and explore the coastline south towards Collioure, Banyuls-sur-Mer, Cerbère and Portbou. The castle at Perpignan is worth a visit.
Try the local rosé wine - delicious, and easily obtainable on tap at local wineries or in bottles from Aldi.
Directions to the site : southbound from Perpignan, exit the motorway at Junction 10 and at the first island take the 3rd exit back over the motorway. Another island follows immediately; take the 3rd exit again marked Taxo d'Avall and follow this along two dog-legs. The road then straightens out and has speed bumps; continue to the end of the straight and Etoile d'Or is on the right hand side, clearly signposted.
Shopping : retrace your route back and at the first island take the second exit back over the motorway. At the next island take the first exit and continue towards Argelès, you'll soon see the large shopping precinct on the right. The Intermarché is expensive - use the Aldi on the extreme right edge of the site. The Saturday market at Argelès is also good for shopping.
Congratulations to the following fellow students who passed the 1994/5 MScIT Course:- Rob Alleway, Colin Altuccini, Mardizyah Arshad, James Barrett, Andy Binning, Paul Buckler, Ajit Chall, Gi-Wing Cheung, Chris Clayton, Steve Davenport, Lloney Eyole-Monono, Antoine Gresset, Simon Hawkins, Ed Haynes, Simon Hutchinson, Tim Ingall, Richard Jacklin, Richard King, Steph Lewis, Paul Martin, Ashvin Mistry, Tommy Moore, Imtiyaz Mulla, Kaussar Parveen, Robert Sands, Jane Smith, Nigel Turner and Winnie Wu.
Rob Alleway was until 19-7-2001 working at Aldermaston, for a small Computing Software House. Still doing database work in MS-Access but now more involved in web page design. (July 2001). In late 2016 he showed up on Facebook.
Mardizyah (Maritha) Arshad returned to Malaysia, married, and is working as an IT teacher. She emails sporadically, most recently in January 2013, saying that she has now an 8-year-old adopted daughter. She now has a Facebook page.
James Barrett - news is welcomed.
Andy Binning was IT Manager for a labels manufacturing company in Barwell, Leicestershire. (July 1997)
Paul Buckler says "After the MScIT course I moved to London and worked for a company called Menhir for 9 months then joined Raft International in 1996 as their first employee. I have seen the company grow from nothing to a plc over the last 8 years. I worked in London for 3 years then went to work in India for 18 months, 6 months in Denmark and 6 months in Texas. I got married in 2001 to Vanessa, who I meet at Leicester University and have two sons named Mack and Elliot. I am currently based in London doing sales and project work which is mainly Credit Risk solutions for energy companies. I keep in regular contact with Simon Hutchinson." (Sept 2003)
Bob Butler spent a while in full time in landscape gardening and then worked for an electronics company in Hinckley. Not having been able to complete the dissertation for his MSc, he received the Postgraduate Diploma. He also worked as an NT site engineer, delivering, installing and configuring computers, and moved to Wolverhampton. He was last heard of working as a network technician at Sandwell College, Birmingham. (August 2001).
Ajit Chall worked for a while in Leicester, but now says "I have moved from the stock broking software stuff, got a bit bored with it. So now I am a consultant working for a large consultancy. I am living in London at the moment. As one person put it 'Living Like a rock star, without the sex drugs and rocking roll'. It was good to read about all the other people on the course and where they have got to." (September 2001). He continues "Nothing much to write about. Still in London on the same project. Got in contact with Jane thanks to your web-site. (<Thanks>). I'll probably be off on to another project somewhere else in the country in a few weeks, I'll write then. Have not found out where. Things are good." In October 2004, he adds : "Unfortunately , I have still not made my million and retired, so I am working as software dogsbody. It's fun, but not as much fun as bumming around on a beach." He continues "Would you believe it I was to be in London for a month and two years later I am still here. Looking for a new place to live. Thing are pretty good down here. Haven't seen any one in ages." (October 2002)
GI-Wing Cheung - news is welcomed.
Chris Clayton says "Hi Rob, hows it going? Thought Id send you a quick mail to tell you my address has changed. I still regularly look at your site. Been here now for almost 12 years. Still enjoying myself. Kids are now 8 and 6. Bettina is teaching at a vocational school and Im still working for ECG. Nothing much more to report. Still come to England 3 or 4 times a year, visit my parents and brother in Worcester. I hope you and your family are well. It would be good to see all the guys from the course at some time again. All the best and say hi to anybody I know, Chris" (January 2008)
Steve Davenport - I believe he went to work for Andersen Consulting, but I'm not sure, so news is welcomed.
Rob Davis is now enjoying retirement. Having returned to motorcycling after some years' absence, he now owns a 2017 BMW F800GT and a 2003 Honda NT650 Deauville, taking an annual European motorcycle touring holiday and has resumed playing the piano accordion. In summer 2012 he returned to an old hobby of Campanology (church bell ringing, despite being completely nonreligious) and now rings bells all over Shropshire, as well as anywhere else he can find!
Lloney Eyole-Monono (now known as just Lloney Eyole) says "I left Bristol a while ago and worked in Belgium with Alcatel Bell Space for close to two years and returned to this country whence I pursued an MBA with the University of Leeds Business School .... tough it was, yet I came through and graduated in December last year ... I am back in the world of consulting and it's business as usual ... I enclose a picture of my graduation." (Oct 2003)
Antoine Gresset returned to France after finishing the MSc course and started his 2 years' National Service, which would finish in late summer 1997. More news is welcomed.
Simon Hawkins moved to Cramlington in Northumberland where he is now working in the New Media department of a newspaper, designing and developing websites. He is not involved in the design, but writes code in Cold Fusion to create dynamic pages from a database back end.
Ed Haynes works as a civilian IT specialist for the Leicestershire Police Authority (some of the early time was with Chris Clayton). He and Loretta married on September 9th 2000, and he acquired a delightful stepdaughter, Marianne. (October 2003). Ed still works for the Police but he an Loretta are now separated (October 2007).
Simon Hutchinson says "Been
a long time. Hope you and the family are well. Just wanted to touch base and
see how you are. Have moved to Reigate now. Still work in London for Morgan
Stanley. The kids are growing up quick. Ellen is 5 1/2 and Flynn is 3 1/2. I
still see Paul Buckler from time to time. He is working for Lloyds and has 3
kids, living in Hazelmere." (June 2012)
Tim Ingall worked in Leicester as a senior technical product specialist for Philips business communications part of the Philips electronics group, evaluating new telecommunications management systems and provide technical support to any one in the UK. What he described as a "buck stops here" situation. He and Helen have a daughter Alice, born in September 1996. (April 1999). Tim is living in Cambrideshire, working for the NHS. The cottage at Cressbrook where he, Bob, Steph, Kaussar, Jane and I did our exams cramming has been renovated and sold.
Richard Jacklin ran an Internet consultancy in Leicester for a while but now works for Unipart in Oxford, as intranet manager. (February 1998)
Richard King - news is welcomed.
Steph Watkins (formerly, Lewis) is the mother of Ben (1998) and Charlie (2003). Having taught IT in schools for many years, she is now married to Pete Watkins (July 2017).
Paul Martin says "Here's a bit about myself if you could maybe add to your next site update. The main news at the moment is that I get married to Barbara in September so I'm starting to get nervous about that one. She's from Chicago so there's all the joys of planning for an overseas wedding to experience! From there I'm not sure what we'll end up doing, but I can see us spending at least another couple of years in London. To be honest my job has been pretty much the same since '95 really - I arrived at BNP Paribas through a software house but now contract directly. The job was ideal - working in London for the New York desk and tons of trips out there armed with a company credit card, but sadly 9/11 put an end to all that. I've now switched a similar role on the Tokyo desk where it's pretty quiet as the project reaches 'maturity', though the upside is that I find time to organise a wedding & 5-a-side footie matches within the bank ! Anyway, I'm glad I found your website & look forward to reading your updates in the future." (June 2005).
Ashvin Mistry has also moved back to Leicester after working in Bracknell, and is working in Birmingham. (September 2001)
Tommy Moore - news is welcomed.
Imy Mulla says "Its been a long time, I visited your site today after many, many years. I saw a tweet this morning and was thinking back to the days when I used floppy disks. Was remembering the MSc and DeMontfort days and decided to see if your site was still there. I hope you are enjoying your retirement, sounds like you are enjoying doing lots of different things. My last update to you was in 2008, so it has been a very long time. Myself and my family moved to Toronto, Canada in 2010. We've been here 7 years now and are nicely settled Canadians now. There's pluses ad minuses - we have avoided Brexit, but are much closer to Trump. I'm still in the same field - enterprise software architecture, design and development. I work for BlackBerry over here - they relocated me, so the move was financially painless. You can probably chart the decline of BlackBerry from roughly 6 months after I started here! I'm still with them though - I'm enjoying being at the heart of the company redefining itself.
My kids are growing up fast (16, 14 and 10). They love it here. Unfortunately, only my eldest still has any hint of an English accent. The most homesick we were was 2015-2016. After so many years being a Leicester City season ticket holder, I was gutted to be the other side of the Atlantic for the clubs miracle Premier League win. I know how to ice-skate now and even tried to play ice hockey last year (did not go so well). Canada is a beautiful and diverse country, we have enjoyed discovering the many places of natural beauty here - it's well worth a visit.
Anyway, take care and I'll try and keep in touch more regularly. I'm happy for you to share my email address with others if you want to maintain a contact list for all of us who did the course." (October 2017)
Kaussar Bashir (formerly Parveen) went to London and studied for a PGCE which she passed. She then returned to Leicester and studied at Nottingham University for a PhD, which was cut short by a serious road traffic accident. Kaussar then disappeared for several years, but I was able to contact her in late 2002. Since then, however, she has not kept in touch.
Robert Sands - Since completing the course he's worked for two software houses in the Reading / Berkshire area as a VB analyst programmer, and is currently working for Drake Insurance in Brighton using SQL Server/VB. (Dec 1999)
Jane Smith says "I am still living in NW London, purchased my own property about 5 years ago after selling my half of a Guest House that I owned with my ex in Ruislip, Middlesex. I now live in Hampstead Garden Suburb in NW London. I got married last year (finally!) to Sascha (man not woman!) whom I met on the 102 bus on my way home from work. Well you know I could never do anything conventionally. He's a survivor of the Liberian/Sierra Leone civil war. He's an amazing husband. I was working at Network Rail as an IM Project Manager for a number of years, and after a restructure my position no longer exists, so I am currently looking for a new job. Enjoying being a housewife for now. No kids as yet, and no plans.....but let's see." (July 2010). Jane too has a Facebook page.
Winnie Wu worked for Eurodollar (later, National Car Rental) for a while but then returned to Hong Kong, at a time when most people were leaving there! (June 1997)
Robert Gibson did not pass the course. Gary Duncanson, having only achieved a pass by consistently cheating, does not deserve to be included in the congratulations.
Thank you for visiting.