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I could get very used to travelling in a convertible. It's the human's 325i.

Lockdown Staycation Part II

So, this is the second part of our lockdown staycation. After visiting the Twelve Hotel in Galway, I got a taste for another adventure so last weekend we went off to another of my favourite places, BrookLodge in Co Wicklow. Because the weather was so nice, the humans decided to take that funny car with a tent instead of a proper roof. It was bought last year but it seemed to spend most of the summer in the garage with bits being done to it but it seems to be ready now. I only half listen but I believe it’s had softer springs fitted since I drove in it last and it really makes a difference. I can snooze comfortably in the footwell now and that’s all that matters. Even though rain was threatening as we arrived in Aughrim, the roof was folded down for the last bit of the journey, allowing me to sniff the air. As we pulled …

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Daisy enjoying the view over Galway Bay toward the Clare coast.

Twelve Stars for Barna Staycation

What a great weekend. I knew something was up when I saw the case coming down from the attic. I haven’t seen that since before the lockdown. I hoped I was going to be included, even though I love going to my dog-minder and I was reassured when I saw my bag being packed too. I knew we were heading North and I suspected we were going to one of my favourite places, The Twelve Hotel in Barna and I was right. As soon as I came in the front door it was like I had never been away as I was greeted by name before going to the dog concierge area to get my picture taken. I never get tired of posing. We just had time to look over our lovely room and have a quick stroll before it was time to go down to the bar for dinner. The Twelve is one of those enlightened places where dogs …

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The new Nissan Juke

Nissan reinvent the Juke

When the Nissan Juke arrived on the scene in 2010, it looked like it came from another planet. Based on a concept car, a lot of those features made it to production and the result, with its high, bug-eyed headlights polarised opinions but it was a quirky car that quickly found fans. In fact, it could be said to have started a new market segment for small crossovers, a segment that now accounts for around 10% of the overall market in Ireland. Now there’s a brand-new Juke just launched and we had the chance to drive it in Barcelona. Based on a platform shared with the Renault Captur, the Juke is new from the ground up and in contrast to the petrol and diesel offerings in the outgoing car, there’s only one engine choice, the 1.0 litre turbocharged triple petrol turbo that already sees duty in the Micra. For this application, the power output is 117bhp and there’s an over …

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James Hehir retires from the motor industry after almost fifty years.

Half century for James Hehir

A legend in Clare motoring circles is calling it a day this Friday. James Hehir, who started his career in the motor industry almost fifty years ago, will sell his last car this week at Sheils Motor Group, main Ford and Honda dealers on the Gort Road, Ennis. In a neat twist to the story, James’ career began at Sheils in 1971 where he started off straight away in car sales. At the time, the showroom and garage were located in the centre of Ennis, by the river near the CBS. There were only a few car showrooms in Ennis at the time with James recalling just Volkswagen and Morris. Ford, especially in the 1970s were seen almost as an Irish car company with their plant in Cork, the first to be built outside the US in 1917. That loyalty was repaid in car sales with Ford the undisputed number one. The big seller was the Escort, a revolutionary car …

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Night falls in Bourton-on-the-Water with the Christmas tree in the background.

Cracking Christmas in the Cotswolds

Just before Christmas my humans took me for my regular Christmas trip to Dublin and I was excited to meet all my friends in Mutt Ugly doggy day care and to take a trip around town to see the lights. Although I didn’t get to see the moving crib this year, I was smuggled into a lovely pub off Grafton Street and when the barman finally spotted me, he came over with a bowl of water so I took it that I was in the clear. It helps to be cute. The following morning I got us all up very early as I had a surprise for my humans. On my trawls through the world wide woof, I’d come across a company called Pets Pyjamas, who specialise in doggy holidays and I’d used my bone allowance to book us all Christmas in the Cotswolds. I directed them through the dark streets of Dublin (one woof for left, two woofs for …

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Audi’s A4 diesel flagship is a cracker

Every time I drive a new car, I play a little game with myself. Would I swap it permanently for my much-loved 2008 5 Series? Normally, the answer is no. Of course my head gets turned by powerful engines and swoopy styling but once I bring the practicalities of comfort, convenience and running costs into the equation, it’s rare I find myself yearning for something new. But there’s always one… and that one is the new Audi S4 TDi. Yes, Audi’s A4 performance flagship is a diesel and it’s a cracker. Power comes from a 3.0 litre V6 but instead of the usual twin turbo arrangement, Audi have chosen to use a single, larger unit. Normally, that would be a recipe for lots of turbo lag and a lack of low down power and to solve this, an electrically driven compressor, or supercharger, squeezes the air at lower engine speeds. It’s an idea that occurred to me years ago. I …

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The e-tron tackled the off-road course with ease. Here you can see the flat bottom of the car.

Audi’s shock SUV

Alright, whose bright idea was in to launch Audi’s first electric car in the oil state of Abu Dhabi? Either someone was having a laugh or there was a real sense of irony behind the choice. I’ve never been to the United Arab Emirates, or indeed anywhere near this part of the world, so it was quite a culture shock to see the city for the first time. Everywhere you go, you can see signs of serious money having being spent. You get the impression that if you came back again in five years, any scrap of desert you see would have another skyscraper built on it. The Sheikh Zayed Mosque, in the heart of the city, in my view is one of the wonders of the world. Completed only 2007, it contains €30 billion of white marble and if you ever get the chance to see it, grab it with both hands. Now, we’ve seen many Audi e-trons at …

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Competitors race towards their bikes at the start of the Brompton World Championships in London.

Brompton World Championships – again

Another year, another Brompton World Championship but unfortunately, this year I didn’t manage to win a place in the lottery to get an entry to the race. Fortunately, only a week before the event, I managed to ‘acquire’ an entry and made arrangements to ship both myself and my Brompton folding bike over to London. Last year, I competed with a bulging disc in my spine and the rain was incessant. I had high hopes that this year’s race would be better on all counts. On the day before the race, I met up with friends from the London Brompton Club near Buckingham Palace and we cycled through St James’ Park and Hyde Park to end up at the Brompton Junction shop in Long Acre, near Covent Garden for champagne and nibbles. It was an enjoyable run, despite the heavy rain that fell for most of the hour. I got talking to an Australian who had come over specifically with …

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