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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Volvo in new High Tech Big Brother Mode.

Swedish car manufacturer Volvo has announced it is experimenting with some novel safety technology which IN-VOLV(O)ES a special ignition key that will control the top speed of a car.

Wait for it……The Driver will be required to blow into an in-built, Breathalyser lock and then fasten the seat belt before the car will start!

This two-part safety check will ensure that if Alcohol is detected (which locks out the seat belt) or the seat belt is not fastened, the car won’t start! Great idea methinks!

The breathalyser lock is integral with the driver’s seat belt catch.
The figures from the EU commission show approximately 10,000 deaths on the roads each year in alcohol- related accidents! That’s not a figure to take lightly or ignore.

The wearing of seat belts, although well documented to play a large part in reducing death and serious injury in car accidents still has not been universally accepted in Ireland. Young drivers and young Parents are particularly at fault here. The example set by Parents when carrying their offspring, by always wearing their seat belts, will be picked up by the youngest of children and will set the kids on the right track when they themselves start to drive.

Volvo have for many decades been associated with the highest standards of safety in car manufacture and although a lot of their vehicles look like a cross between a Tiger Tank, a Sherman, and the Space Shuttle, they are to be admired in their quest for further safety on the roads. Of course, like most new technology in the Automotive field, it takes quite a time for something as innovative as this new gizmo, to be universally accepted, but it’s an excellent idea and will undoubtedly save many lives when implemented.

BUCKLE-UP and CLUNK-CLICK….it will save your LIFE.

The Astral Blog is at
The Astral Driving School web site is at

Safe Driving ……………………..

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Why Driving For Life is more important than The Driving Test.

Any one who has read any of my posts to the Astral Blog or any of my articles may be forgiven in thinking that I am a stuffy "aul fella". Old I may be ....fifty something .....soon to be sixty something.....However there is one great benefit in reaching elder statesman status...that of experience and hopefully Wisdom .
Think of the Television ad and the "Wrinkly Ninja". well I can tell you that getting old can be a rewarding time of your life because it's a time when you can give something back and help a new generation just as you yourself were helped and advised by your peers .
This is what I am attempting to do in my profession as my writing is expanded to reach hopefully far and wide in the not too distant future. Reaching far and wide is an aspiration that brings rewards.We have had pupils who have flown from several thousand miles away to take tuition from us so we are not exactly without wisdom !
Here's a brief precis of an earlier article relating to the waiting times for a Driving Test here in Ireland.

Driving for life means that you should take the whole process of learning to Drive seriously and spend whatever time and money it takes to reach an acceptable standard before attempting the Driving Test.The Driving Test is only a basic standard and still not close to European Levels but it is improving steadily,thankfully.
The focus on a Driving Test instead of learning more advanced skills in the early stages is a recipe for disaster, sooner rather than later.Following on from yesterdays mention, a recent pupil turned her car over into a ditch primarily because she had not taken sufficient tuition before venturing out on her own.The car was just three weeks old and was a write-off.Learning to drive is a lengthy process if you want to attain safe skills.If you want to write off your car in double quick time then don,t bother with Lessons.
While Eddy Hobbs may have a good point in blaming the Government for all our ills , the government is not totally at fault when it comes to waiting a year for a Driving Test.. Here's why ......
(1) Generally a large proportion of test candidates are just not up to it.They haven't taken the whole thing seriously enough and have not prepared adequately.How can you not take a Driving Test seriously ?. It's not only your life that's at stake but all the other Road users as well!
(2) A few hours with a Driving School a couple of weeks before a Test does not constitute "Adequate"
(3) A high proportion of Test Candidates just don't turn up.Recently in Limerick, four of an Examiner's first six candidates one day, failed to show.So that means that they are still on the waiting list; but worst of all, four fresh candidates on the cancellation list lost an opportunity to do their Test.
(4) There is a high percentage of cancellations, about 10 or 12 %. of course some of these will be genuine and others will be not.
(5) There are still a number of Cars that are being turned down on the day due to not being at the correct Departmental Standard, which means not safe in some instances, and paperwork not acceptable in others.
(6) Our Unique Demographics here in Ireland; with a huge population under twenty five years of age, together with increasing immigrant numbers make the existing resources of the Driving Test Department not appropriate .This is one area where the Government got caught out by underestimating the flood of non-nationals settling in Ireland over the last couple of years. This trend is set to continue, to add to the returning Ex-Pats over the last while during Celtic Tiger One.
Just for the record there are approximately 350,000 Learner Drivers on the road ..that's one in five cars! and as we speak just 120 Examiners nationwide.

That's it for today . Drive Safely

Astral Driving School

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Trans Continental Search for A Driving Test

There are numerous Learner Drivers trying to circumvent the lengthy waiting list for a test appointment by traveling ridiculous distances to strange locations the other side of the planet.
My advice is don’t bother. Better option is to continue to prepare carefully in your own home territory with the help of a professional Driving Instructor. You have much more chance in getting though today's Test by being familiar with your surroundings. Unfamiliarity breeds..........??
Recently I had a pupil who tried getting to Ennis for a Driving Test (from Dublin) and only made it half way before having an altercation (polite word for Prang!) with a truck.
So if you are really desperate to get your full License sooner rather than later. Here are my tips.
(1) Take sufficient lessons with a Driving School.(a couple of hours tuition just before the Test will not cut it)
(2) Practice your reversing maneuvers until they are Perfect!(even a moderately done reverse can still attract a mark-down ) the two maneuvers are really the only time on your Test when you have complete control of the situation ,so why throw marks away ?
(3) Do a little out of town practice and carriageway time. It will build your experience and your confidence and help with your demeanor on the day of the Test. Driving round and round test routes until you are dizzy from it is a polarized approach.
(4) If you are in employment a letter drafted by the Boss and sent to Ballina requesting you be added to the Cancellation List will give you an appointment usually in about two (2) to Six(6) weeks. A word of advice here will get very little notice for a cancellation slot soooo you have to be READY FOR THE last minute panic lessons.

I could go on and on and on ......... there are so many other variables to consider. You could improve your chances by visiting our Blog at and checking out all our articles some of which are published here on but you could speed up the search process by logging onto
Safe Driving and good fortune on your Test ........ Luck has nothing to do with it!

Friday, August 26, 2005

R.R.N.......Really Rural Nightmares

We follow on yesterday’s post with some more really useful info on safe Driving in the Country.

The level of danger on an Irish country road varies a lot depending on the time of day, the day of the week, the season of the year and the intensity of the Farming in any given area; and these are only the scenarios that the Driver really has no control over. The driver does, however, have control over how he or she drives when confronted with these variables and this will play a great part in staying safe and not ending up in a field or on top of a stone wall or in the case of my precious Driving School Car embedded in a Garden wall alongside another vehicle. More of that later. Just in case anyone dares to think that I was behind the wheel during this aforementioned Ballet, I hasten to add that at the time I was two miles away at my Computer Desk!

All of the previously mentioned variables have always been there but today they have a greater significance due to the fact that there are many more houses now built and under construction in the country and on the outskirts of all Towns and Cities. This has lead to a huge increase in the volume of traffic on these roads. That volume of traffic, to a greater extent is now comprised of Learner Drivers who are coming onto the roads in ever increasing numbers. This leads to a much greater chance of an experienced Driver meeting many more inexperienced Drivers than previously.

The vast bulk of Learner Drivers are not taking sufficient Driving Lessons because the Legislation that we have or should have is just not being enforced. Therefore the chances of having to deal with a learner - created emergency on a country road are very high indeed. Even with all the skill in the world there is not perhaps a whole lot you can do if confronted with a car heading straight for you on the wrong side of the road round a bend! Before examining the particularly dangerous permanent aspects of a Rural Road its worth pointing out that any Driving School worth it’s salt should be training all it’s pupils on Irish country roads and introducing them to the hidden and not so hidden dangers. A very high proportion of your Driving career will be spent on rural roads so it’s essential to grasp the basics and be constantly aware of what you can expect around the next corner.

The time of day is an important yardstick…..during rush hours which are early mornings and homecoming times there will be a lot of drivers in a “helluva” hurry and add to their excessive speed, their lack of experience and you have a lethal cocktail. Of course excessive speed isn’t restricted to Learner Drivers; more adult motorists who have got away for years with sloppy or dangerous habits on their local road are getting closer by the day to an accident, when they meet their counterpart doing the same thing in the opposite direction!

The day of the week has a bearing on the volume of traffic wherever you are. The end of the week sees a much greater volume of cars on the road as Company Representatives head home from all corners of the globe; again in one hell of a hurry. Company car drivers who live in the big smoke are generally not so rural road savvy in their first few years on the road and present a big problem when navigating an unfamiliar stretch. Overtaking in a dangerous place is usually the main reason for the Big Bang theory here. You know the start of the Universe and all that, or in this scenario …the End of it, for the driver concerned!

I think I will save the comments on the other two situations for the next post, so until then safe driving and watch out for the Muddy Field where the Road should be ……….

(c) Astral School of Motoring 2000-2005

Astral Driving School.Limerick

Thursday, August 25, 2005 -- Alien Portal Hovers over Dublin is an excellent new Irish Portal...give it a look see

and "join in the spirit of the fun" .....Alvin Lee...Lead Guitarist with one of the best seminal bands of the Sixties...


Of course none of you out there have ever heard of them..just buy the Woodstock DVD (I assume it's on DVD now ) and you will see what I mean.
I was priviledged to see them Live at the Marquee in '66.. they would make most of today's so called Bands crawl into a hole!

Just a copy of a post to a friends Site this morning:-

"Hi Marcel,

Reckless doesn't even come close! "Star Trek" would be a more apt description. Have a look at this morning's post on my Blog "Arrive Alive" at ;-

where we (I ) discuss the wonders of Motoring in the Country. I just have to add, for the emphasis on our Mad behaviour on the roads, that a few years ago a Guy built a whopping big Mansion about 500 metres(yards) from my house. He used to overtake me with more than a little Verve on the way home, until not long after he moved in to his new house he proceeded to write off his Car (make disguised for anonimity ) not 50 metres from his front gate. How embarassing can you get.We stopped to offer help but he was already on his mobile ordering his new car. .I will let my readers know more in a subsequent post.

Any Editorial Career positions going at StartPAge....? I could get addicted to this BlogandPingO'Sphere!! "

Robin of ShareWOOD........

Do visit's better than "Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes"

Startpage Ireland

Use your Head more and your Feet less

(c) Astral School of Motoring 2000-2005

Astral Driving School

Mid West Monsoon Finally Arrives!

Monsoon Season Begins Early!!

This morning at 6.30 am it was obvious that Summer is over....if in fact it ever started; torrential rain, albeit only for a few minutes followed now an hour or two later by some nice sun !

Here in the Mid West we are blessed with a somewhat extra dose of Mother Natures soothing Elixir otherwise known to lesser Mortals as precipitation. See weather forecast for details…..
Our proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Stream sees to that .So it’s timely to start to prepare our Motors for the coming Deluge. One plus point about living in the West as a motorist is that we don’t get the same level of frost or snow as in Dublin and down the East coast so it’s not quite so hazardous in the Winter months.
Having said that, since we don’t have the opportunity to get much frost and snow driving experience, we have to be even more vigilant during the morning rush hour on the way to work , particularly if we live out in the Country. For years now it’s quite common for new residents, who are unaware of the treacherous state of these local roads in icy conditions, to still be driving at breakneck speed, overtaking everything in sight with disastrous consequences.
There is a particularly nasty section of road about three miles from Limerick , which is an undulating Z bend. Nearly every year, during the worst frost of the winter, someone fails to navigate this section and ends up through the hedge and into the Field. There have been some really serious accidents at this spot including one on a Bank Holiday about two years ago involving three cars .Two of which were learner Drivers. The road was blocked and two Ambulances ferried the injured.
This is a particularly dangerous spot as it is Farming country with usually far too much unmentionable plastering the road.

Farmers do have a job to do, but having had to negotiate four miles of crap, to put it mildly, for the last twenty five years I am not well disposed to the sport of turning a Road into a slurry track. New Drivers and residents of any rural community should be very aware of this feature of Irish country roads. They are death traps, even in summer conditions.

On the subject of Farming skills, only last year, during the local Sileage Grand Prix, my local telegraph pole got in the way of one of the front runners. While on almost full lock, and trying a daring overtaking manoeuvre, the number one driver of the East Limerick Grand Prix Team took out fifty houses in one go and left carbon fibre chards and a whole pile of wires in the middle of the Road. As well as losing telephone connections of course we went two days without Internet Coverage. Thankfully the Safety car, in the guise of Telecom Eireann, was reasonably quick on the scene but the Race continued with the culprit oblivious to the damage caused.
Just one of many stories that abound on the outskirts of civilisation. I am sure it’s the same the country over.
Spielberg’s “Close Encounters” wouldn’t even come close to the horrors of Rural motoring here in the West.
Talk soon with more Motoring news from The Wild West………..


(C) Astral School of Motoring 2000-2005

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Focus on Ford........Great Marketing.

The AA Driving School,in the U.K. has announced that it plans to continue its association with that doyen of car Manufacturers, the Ford Motor Company.
All 1800 AA Instructors will be receiving the new 1.6 litre Ford Focus every six months; a staggering 3,600 cars per annum.

Of course our resources are a little less ambitious, as Driving Schools here in Ireland. While it is wonderful to have a car changed frequently it is also a huge cost since depreciation takes a huge chunk off the value of any new car the day you drive it out of the showroom.Still I imagine Ford actually have full time chauffeurs employed just to deliver their Focus to the A.A's happy Instructors.

Personally ,I wouldn't be happy to change a car every six months,you are only just getting used to it by then and understanding it's foibles.For many years I was the proud Driver of a company car which was changed every two years and usually, at the end of a contract Hire agreement, you could buy the outgoing car at a very reasonable price from the Supplier.The advantage of this being that you knew the whole history of the car and how many times you had put it into the ditch or how many replacement parts had been fitted.

Cars cost a huge amount of money to run even if you don't do a whole lot of mileage.A company car is worth a large Salary increase( a very large one ) since you can take the car into the garage every time a pidgeon poops on it and not worry have you too much month left at the end of the money.

The age of a Driving School car is not a definitive guide to the standard of Tuition you will receive in it. Absolutely nothing wrong with a car that is four,five, or even six years old, providing the owner takes a pride in its appearance and has an understanding of sound mechanical principles.

Some small cars cost a lot more than others and you see a plethora(it's my Concise Oxford Day!) of vehicles with Driving School signs these days.Sadly a lot of these have come from Regions the other side of the Planet and are cheap and nasty and in my view not a good advertisement for a Driving School.These strange vehicles may be easy to put on the road, but will not hold their value and I believe, just like purchasing a house, the day you buy it is the day you sell it.

Frankly I would rather spend more money on a reliable marque knowing that it will still look good after five years,whether I am still driving it or not.I suppose it is a free country and Driving Schools starting off need to be aware of costs, which are considerable,and will be much more so when the much vaunted Agency for Regulation and monitoring of Driving Schools is in action.

When will that be? Anybody's guess.We have had three Government Ministers responsible for overseeing this dramtic event since it was first announced many years ago and one secretary to the Minister whose prime responsibility was the implementation of this legislation.This latter individual was found driving not so long ago the wrong way up a dual carriageway ; but we live in hope that one day our standards will be much improved and our accident statistics more in line with other countries in Europe instead of being almost the worst.
Safe Driving

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Attention... Diversion...This Way to The Delta

Since We are disciples of the Art form known as THE BLUES we decided to give you all a little break from Driving Test preparation and introduce you to the man who shaped the whole Music Scene of the last fifty years.This is a brief article published on the Web a couple of weeks ago.

Soon we will give you some of the Words of Robert's first Record...."Terraplane Blues" which is a masterful rendition of the similarities between a Love affair and the Motor Car .I guess I will have to give you all a brief glimpse under the bonnet(hood ) and investigate the workings of said Motor Car in order for you to understand the Lyrics!! Any way that's for a future post Hope you enjoy the article

The King of the Delta Blues Singers
By Robin Piggott

Probably the most enigmatic Singer and Guitarist of the twentieth Century is now one of the most revered and respected of all Musicians who make up the Genre of the “Blues “. I speak of course about the wonderful Robert Leroy Johnson . Born in 1911 in Hazelhurst Mississippi, in a Deep South plantation, he, in his pitifully short life has become one of the founding Fathers of the Blues.

He recorded only 36 sides over a period of a couple of months between November 1936 and June 1937 in San Antonio Texas .These remarkable recordings still bring tears to the eyes of Blues aficionados the world over and shaped the face of the music of today.
The post-war Blues of Chicago owe a great debt to Robert Johnson and it is sad to think what might have been had he lived! In just a few short years he matured from a young black guitarist into a superstar of his day .The often repeated legend was perpetuated by his contemporaries that he sold his soul to the Devil in return for his amazing guitar techniques.

His story is one of hardship tinged with great success in his own locality of the Delta and women were said to be rendered helpless as he sang his compositions. His death at the hand of a jealous husband at the age of twenty seven robbed the world of one of Americas finest ever Musicians and Blues artists.

Years after his death in 1938, a photograph was unearthed, one of only two in existence. It shows not only his inimitable style of dress but quite remarkable slender fingers which helped him to achieve his unique mastery of the bottleneck guitar technique. He is pictured in a chalk–stripe suit which would have been somewhat overstated for a man in his position at that time .When I first saw that photograph the one thing above all else, that stood out were his beautiful long fingers that enveloped the guitar fingerboard and obviously caressed it as though it was a Woman helpless in his arms!

What about his subject matter… well nothing much has changed in the passing of time; the age old, painful process of unrequited love; of restless yearnings to move on down the line to pastures new ; to unfaithful liaisons; and of course much sexual innuendo .

Robert Johnson’s skill as a poet of the time and place is absolutely unsurpassed in my estimation! For sure he borrowed words, phrases, and guitar licks from his peers, but moulded them into something quite unique that not only stands the test of time but has a relevance to today’s Rock music.

There cannot be any Blues Band on this Planet that has not been influenced by Johnson and his music and this is a testament to the greatness of the man! The list of recordings of Johnson’s songs by modern artists is endless and forms the backbone of the resurgence of the Blues in the early sixties in Britain and continues to this day! Most of the long lasting Bands of the R,n,B revolution of 62, 63, and on into the seventies have recorded several of Roberts songs. Notable amongst these would be The Rolling Stones, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Cream,The Allman Brothers Band, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, Elmore James, and many more. Johnson’s songs transcribed particularly well to the new Electric guitar line-ups of the fifties and on into the sixties. Probably one of the most popular of his songs, which I can’t imagine anyone not having heard in a modern format, is of course Crossroad Blues.

This song was recorded live at the Fillmore in San Francisco in 1968 by the great Eric Clapton and his two buddies, Jack Bruce on bass and stickman, Ginger Baker .This song also featured in Cream’s farewell concert at the Albert Hall in London in 1969. I doubt whether Johnson envisaged this treatment of his song when he wrote it or that his poetry would one day be the cornerstone of the Blues Revival of the Sixties.
It is a poignant end to his story that the great impresario John Hammond, who later went onto sign –up a young Bob Dylan in 1962, was just too late when he searched for Robert to appear in the momentous concert at Carnegie Hall in 1938. Robert Johnson was dead but his spirit and his music will live on for ever in the hearts and minds of the lovers of the music we call THE BLUES.

© Robin Piggott 2004 Key to the Highway Publications.

Visit our Web Site ......Astral Driving School. Limerick. Ireland

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Inaugural Turkish Grand Prix 21-08-05

Today marks a further addition to the Formula One Calendar with the first running of the Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul.
It's always good to see a new track come into being but of course a little sad to see some go by the wayside,after decades of activity.
Zandvoort in Holland is a case in point.The Grand Prix's of yester year have played host to some of the World's most renowned Formula One stars and the sight of Jimmy Clark battling his Lotus through the dunes of the Dutch Circuit will be a lasting memory for those of us no longer 21 or 31 or 51!!

I have to mention now a vivid memory of one of my first MotorRacing outings back in 1964 with a handful of my school friends ,including two of my closest, Ian Snelling and Ray Whitehead.After all this time, it still seems like yesterday when we travelled to the Crystal Palace Circuit on the outskirts of London to watch the battles between two future World Champions who at that time were quite unknown.

The Formula Two Race will remain etched in my memory as a young Scot..Jackie Stewart and a with a rather unpronouncable name..Jochen Rindt, did battle .It was a dry dusty day and sadly the Circuit no longer exists but the memory is as strong as ever.
Jochen Rindt (a jovial Austrian ) went onto become the only Posthumous World Formula One Champion and most of the public will of course have heard of the Legendary Jackie Stewart whose own Team Creation is now Racing under another Banner.

The countless Zillions being invested in Formula One is of course good for all involved but many of today's technical motoring innovations that we take for granted stem from developments in this field and I am sure will continue to do so well into the future.

This season so far has been much more enjoyable as the Ferrari and Shoemacher star begins to wane and others are given the opportunity to shine. Good luck to all the Teams today, in just two hours time, and to all of you out there Safe Driving

Have a look at our website which hopefully won't go the way of the Crystal Place Circuit or our School which is buried under an Industrial Estate now I believe.near Tadworth in Surrey England.
Astral Driving School .Limerick .Ireland

Irish Driving Test Tips ...continued

We have previously dealt with setting the Scene and preparing your car for the Test.Let's now have a look at a few do's and don'ts that will make a difference to the outcome and have you on your full license in a few short months instead of years.Yes, until recently there were many Adult Drivers quite content to spend their lives on a Provisional License , sometimes as long as Twenty Years! The new Laws are preventing this and rightly so ....... read on please..

(1) It's a myth,hopefully long since forgotten, that the slower you drive during your Driving Test the more chance you have of passing. You must be at, or close to the Speed limit (whatever that is )providing of course that traffic conditions allow you to do this.
In a 50KPH zone ,which is now the new built -up area speed limit you should be close to this speed and definitely not just over it! Providing you have learnt how to travel in fourth (4th) Gear at 50KPH, keeping a reasonable distance from the vehicles in front, you will not lose marks for lack of progress.

(2) Travelling at a low speed in a high gear takes a bit of getting used to.It's a question of training that right foot to be both gentle and totally awake.By this I mean that to maintain a constant speed (say 50kph) you need to be aware of undulations and gradients in the road.If you approach the brow of a hill at 50kph and then do not ease off, or feather the gas pedal as you proceed down the hill,then very soon you will be at 60kph which on a driving Test will obviously lose you a mark .While we don't have that many hills on Driving Test routes this is an important skill to develop. You might say that it would be easier to change down to third gear(3rd) for the downhill stretch and you would be right is easier but it's not the correct technique.
As a motorist we have to be both safe and economic, the two go together and most, if not all, correct techniques in Driving will give you both these benefits.Being in a higher gear is giving your Engine and Bank Balance, longevity.Engines live longer when less stressed and use a lot less fuel in a higher gear.

(3) There are usually several stretches of higher speed limits on a Driving Test Route that will be one click up from 50KPH.. in other words 60KPH. Again providing the Traffic is moving steadily and not backed -up then the correct speed should be 60KPH and the Gear Fifth(5th).All modern cars take fifth gear quite happily at 60KPH which is just under the old 40mph.Using this correct technique will show an Examiner that you have good observation i.e the speed of the traffic ahead; good knowledge of correct gears for a given speed i.e fifth gear for 60KPH; and an ability to put all this into ACTION without any fuss.In Limerick we have one 60KPH stretch on one test Route that is a mile long and several other stretches on other Test Routes that are shorter but that can still take fifth gear providing Traffic is not too heavy.

(4) While it's usual to be taught the rudimetaries of sequential Gear Changing when you are a raw novice , there is a useful and advanced technique for the more experienced ..that of the "Block Change". This is shifting from Fourth (4th)to Second Gear (2nd) and skipping the third gear selection.This needs to be practised to gain good fluency, preferably on quiet stretches of road with no other Traffic to begin with.
It's often left too late to go down through the gears when say approaching a Roundabout or junction and the time saved by the "Block Change" will make the process much smoother and create a very good impression with the examiner.This does need plenty of practise to perfect and we should be totally confident with our sequential gear changing before trying to master this new technique.
What's the primary purpose for skipping third ?..Well, since it's second gear you are looking for, to commence most manoeuvres, why bother with a gear that is not appropriate (3rd!) if there is another alternative!

(5) A quick tip for all manoeuvring situations...Don't attempt to change gear during the operation, select the correct gear, usually second (2nd),BEFORE you commence the turn, or roundabout or whatever, and keep your hands on the steering wheel throughout. When you have straightened up After the Manoeuvre then you may select a different gear as appropriate.

Hope these few tips will continue to help you to improve your and the chances of better success on the Irish Driving Test.

See you the meantime check out our main web site for other assistance and don't hestate to e-mail us for additional help or enquiries.

Copyright (c) Astral Driving School. Limerick 2000-2005


Saturday, August 20, 2005

Driving Test Tips Continued......

There are a number of simple things that you need to check on your Car before presenting yourself for the .The examiner will do an inspection of the vehicle before getting into the car for the drive and if any of the following are found to be not up to standard, then its bye bye Test and come back next year!

Yes.. the waiting list for the Irish Driving Test is approximately one year and more in some areas.This is due primarily to our unique Demographics here in Ireland and not to most of the Examiners being on Holidays!

(1) Check that your windscreen is free from Cracks.A cracked windscreen will continue to spread and will be in a dangerous condition before long ..Answer= Replace.

(2) Tyres should be well above the legal limit of 1.6mm Tread Depth (across the central 75% of the tyre).No cuts splits or bulges should be visible.As soon as you see any of these the Tyre should be replaced.

(3) The best Tyres should always be on the front Axle.The front tyres do all the work and wear out twice as quickly as the rears.So if you have good tyres on the rear and semi-worn on the front then switch them around.

(4) All loose rubbish and clutter should be completely removed from the car and nothing on the rear parcel shelf.All "Danglies" no matter how attached you are to them, should be removed.That's furry dice, air freshners, nodding dogs, humourous stickers, cushions, and anything else! Why ? because any of these items can be distracting and in a worse case scenario can impede controls.

(5) Brake light and indicator light bulbs must all be functioning perfectly .You should always carry a couple of spare bulbs in the car so that when they do blow you can fix them in a jiffy.Don't know how? Ask your Instructor to show you ..its not Atomic Physics and only takes a minute or two.

(6) Electrics must all be functioning perfectly. Why? Well you will be asked to demonstrate all your secondary controls before the drive and if something isn't working it is quite probable that the Examiner will abort the Test An electric Drivers window must be functioning. It's vital to be able to wind down the window in bad weather conditions to check if the road is clear when turning right.You can't see adequately through a wet window!.Also it's useful to get a better audio impression of approaching traffic at a blind junction.

(7) Know how to open your Bonnet.Remember the weekly checks you should be doing under the hood( that American for Bonnet!).These technical checks are now part of the Irish Driving Test since February 2005.

(8) All of the above and some more are contained in my Articles published on the Web and hidden in the Archives on this Blog.All our writings you can find at Ezine just click on the Boxlink at the end of this post.We also write about other subjects that are not related to Driving or Learning to Drive

That's it for now come back soon.

Check out our main Website at


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Irish Driving Test Tips

Passing the Irish Driving Test today has nothing to do with how long you have been Driving, but how well you have been taught? how much you have learnt? and how much you put into practise on the big day.
The longer you have been driving without taking Lessons, the greater the opportunity for a Driving Test fail.There have been many changes and additions to the in the last three years, all for the greater good,and primarily fueled by EU Directives.

Three years ago the new marking sheet was introduced, which details the peformance of the candidate and is given to all on completion of the Test.This is an effort to highlight the areas that need improvement and for those that are unsuccessful a chance to practise the weaker skills before the next Test appointment.Previously only failed candidates received a marking sheet, so it led to the situation that a person who just squeaked through on the fault limit had no idea how close they came to failing ! This of course led to the common wave of the pass certificate with a false sense of achievement and a delusion that learning to Drive was now finished and you were a competent, practised skillful Driver.

Even Drivers today who have done exceptionally well on their Test still have several years to clock up behind the wheel before they can consider themselves competent.Its a fact that many serious accidents occur during the first year or two following the passing of the Driving Test.Those Learners who take several attempts to pass their Test are also at risk during this early period and quite often will become much better Drivers ultimately than those that Pass first Time. Euphoria, together with youthful exhuberance and enthusiasm is, in my estimation, a lethal cocktail.

Passing the Driving Test is not a endorsement of super-human driving skills but merely a statement of a range of basic skills that were demonstrated adequately on the day ! Competent and advanced expertise behind the wheel comes only after several years of regular Driving in all conditions and is allied to an understanding and appreciation and adherance to our Driving Legislation.
As a stark reminder to all Country Drivers, and a large part of the population live and drive most of the time on these Rural roads,every day of the week; I can recount at least six write-offs on my own stretch of road outside Limerick over the last few years...just a less than two mile long stretch.Included in these accidents were two fatalities. Enough said for now .. Drive carefully won't you?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Driving in Ireland

A very brief post today for visiting motorists and the hazards awaiting them

Ever thought why Ireland is so green? and not just on St.Patrick's Day .
Well,thanks to the Gulf Stream we are blessed with a very temperate climate which in lay terms means lots of rain! ( and I really do mean lots).

What does this mean to the Motorist and particularly the Novice Driver?

(1) Roads that are difficult to navigate in the dry, become very treacherous in the wet.

(2) Tyres that may not be in peak condition due to wear or incorrect inflation will give substantially less grip in the best of situations and will be lethal in the worst of situations.

(3) A much higher degree of both awareness and handling skills need to be demonstrated during bad weather.This is not something that a couple of Driving Lessons will instill and will only come with lots of practise and some heart-stopping moments!

(4) Ability to operate heater controls and juggle with their settings without taking your eyes off the road is another essential skill that will go along way to staying safe on the Road.For Drivers in hire cars that they are not totally familiar with, it is certainly worth spending some time getting to grips with the car manual,before driving out of the Airport.It may be a scorching hot day and bright sunshine one minute and be a heavy cloudburst the next.This is not the time to be wondering how your controls work.

(5) Since Ireland's total Driving Population is comprised of 20% Learner Drivers, most of whom have not taken Driving Lessons (no mandatory tuition at present!) then it's very likely that cars in front of you, cars behind you, and cars all around you,are piloted by Drivers who have not yet built up the skills to cope with adverse weather and road conditions.Since in -car skills are pretty scarce, don't expect outside-the-cockpit abilities to be any better.They are quite likely to be non existent!.Sorry to have to be so blunt .....but its a fact.

(6) Since January 2005 our speedlimits and distance signs are now in Kilometers,and yet, naturally most of the vehicles are still calibrated predominately in MPH.This will take quite a while for the general population to become acclimatized to so that wide variations in adherence to speed limits are commonplace. Speed cameras, which are just on the way, will sharpen up a lot of Motorists who are oblivious of the Law so ultimately it will be apparent that there is (hopefully ) a better compliance .
Thats it for today ....perhaps I will dredge the archives for some more positive trends soon ..but they are an endangered species!

No Need to Click Here - I'm just claiming my feed at Feedster


Sunday, August 14, 2005

Economic Driving Tips..continued

In Today,s issue you will find some useful tips on Economic motoring and we all need to be more economic with our Euro don't we!

How to be more Economic in your every day motoring.

(1) Make sure you check your tyre pressures weekly or every 500 miles.Incorrect tyre pressures are not only unsafe but will wear out your tyres in double quick time.
Underinflated tyres will pick up foreign bodies; nails; glass etc; and provide a great platform for a puncture very easily. Also the ride will be severely affected as the car is likel;y to be lop-sided! Overinflation of tyres, which is a less frequent phenomenon will tend to flat-spot tyres quickly. Obviously tyres that are wearing out rapidly compromise your safety and lead to poor road-holding and an increase in your fuel consumption!
Driving on Irish rural roads is not easy since they are narrow,often unmarked,and particularly during the Monsoon season, full of pot holes.It's essential,therefore, for safety, to have your tyres in peak condition and correctly inflated.

(2) Still on the subject of tyres its worth pointing out that, since the front tyres wear out more quickly than the rears it's worthwhile swapping the tyres round at proper intervals. Taking a good to average mileage on a set of tyres to be 30,000 miles; at the fifteen thousand mark your fronts will be at least half worn and the rears not worn much at all. At this point you should switch the rear tyres to the front and the fronts to the rear, bearing in mind the directional indicators on the side wall of the tyre. What does this do for you! Well firstly, you are evening out the wear so that when the "new " front tyres are half worn then the rears will be at approximately the same wear level. Secondly, but probably more important is that you have the best tyres on the front axle giving you the best grip, roadholding and therefore safety. Remember it is the front tyres that do all the work and the rears just go round and round!

(3) Ease off on your accelerator, or "gas" pedal long before you come to your stop ..if you slow down gradually when coming to a stop, instead of using the brakes heavily you will not only save fuel, you will save brakes and hopefully prevent the closely following Driver from rear- ending you. Brakes are expensive to service and it's not a one hour job and on the road again! A brake service will almost always mean a full day in the Garage and a bill that you wish would go away!

(4) As an addition to number (3) when you are trying to maintain a legal limit in a built up area watch out for undulations in the road or even inclines and ease off on the gas pedal as you reach the brow of the hill and you will probably not need to use the brakes then on the downhill stretch; this saves fuel and brakes. Of course we all know that even when we are trying hard to obey the speed limit we quite often will be overtaken ... so constant rear -view mirror is essential and we can then apply the brakes more gently if the overtaker gets into difficulty and causes an incident with on-coming traffic.

That's it for this Post. Watch out for more tips soon from Astral Driving School.Ireland

© AstralMotoring 2005


Friday, August 12, 2005

Rollin' and Tumblin'....Real Life Learner Blues !

A quickie this morning to warn against the dangers that Learner Drivers face before they have reached a sufficient skills level.

Recently a pupil decided to be really smart and voyage across the country to circumvent the long Driving Test delay in Dublin.He had already failed once and thought to try his luck in Ennis, noted Technology Town and location of some of the narrowest streets in the civilised world.
The day of the test was approaching and he set off with an accompanying Licensed Driver.......Good point this and oft overlooked by enthusiastic learners.Mid way to destination and the need to refuel suddenly caused a complete mental block and said candidate decided to turn round to head back to the Petrol Station he had just passed......Bad point this considering he was now in the middle of the worst bottleneck village between Dublin and the West!
Disaster now only seconds away! Attempting to turn right against the flow of Juggernauts, tourists and other nasty moving objects said candidate tussled with something very large and naturally came off third best. No injuries thankfully but car rather the worse for wear and Driving Test no longer a consideration.

Moral here.....Don't take a journey of Epic Homerian proportions to take a Driving Test..It's just too much for a novice Driver and as we previously said many of these small villages dotted on main arterial routes out of Dublin are extremely difficult to navigate , particularly at peak times.There are many of these hot-spots and it's hardly likely that they will all be by-passed in the near future.

A far better course of action would be to get better acquainted with the Rules of the Road..Yes that seldom read publication ...and spend the time recconoitering your local area getting to know all the hot spots.Local knowledge of your nearby Driving Test area will go a long way to improving your chances of being successful first time on the Test.

There are many difficult situations and hot spots on all Driving Test routes but they vary in intensity depending on the day of the week,the time of day, the month and the Season. An in-depth study at these times will without doubt improve your chances and reduce your stress level on the day.

Another recent Learner Driver story of rather more dramatic consequences will follow shortly. There is no shortage of these dramas in my Instructors Diary but there is a painful shortage of plain old common sense amongst today's Irish Learner Drivers even with those who have been warned.

Oh by the way for students of The Blues.... Rollin' and Tumblin' is one of the most famous and well recorded songs of the genre.. penned by the great Muddy Waters (aka McKinley Morganfield) who was something akin to the Juggernauts described above.Not someone you would tangle with!

Some of the Artists to have recorded this song would be Eric Clapton; ..Willie Dixon (who recorded for many years on the famous Chess Records label);...Canned Heat( whose melodies can be heard today advertising Bus Eireann)and the wonderful Ten Years After (who played a blinding set at Woodstock and feature in the film of the momentous Concert).

Watch out for more Learner Driver Blues shortly.........and while you are waiting for updates please visit our web site which is getting fresh content now on a more regular basis.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Visiting Limerick? Take a look at the Castleoaks House Hotel

If you are contemplating visiting Limerick, in Ireland's Mid West Region then take some time to check out the beautiful Castleoaks House Hotel, nestling in the pretty village of Castleconnell.
Situated just six miles from Limerick City, this Hotel is on the banks of the Majestic River Shannon and in fact the River is visible through the Hotel Carpark.

The River Walk below the Hotel is unsurpassed and for lovers of Birdlife there is plenty to be seen...Swans who are resident along the whole stretch, Ducks, Wagtails and the Lordly Heron are just some of the delights.This stretch is World renowned for its Salmon Fishing.

As a resident of County Limerick for 25 years my Family has used the Hotel throughout this period for casual drinks and more formal Dinners; for Christmas functions and for more sombre Family gatherings.It is a restful and calming location with excellent food and service.

On the occasions when the Sun does shine you can sit outside and sip your drink and let the Shannon wash your cares gently away.

Since the village of Castleconnell is right in the middle of one of our Learner Driver Circuits it makes an ideal spot for a welcome break. We have coached numerous students from the area over the last few years and in fact the current photos on the Astral Driving School Web Site were taken in the Hotel Car Park with the Shannon as a backdrop.I expect we will take more in the future since it is a magical spot.

As a secluded spot the Hotel makes for a wonderful quiet tete a tete with a close friend or loved one, and the flower garden and shrubbery should be very pleasing to the keen Gardener.For the fleet of foot and Gym enthusiast the Health club offers great facilities.

For those less energetic, a gentle stroll along the River Walk will provide a healthy option and give you a great appetite for lunch.My favourite lunch or early evening meal would be the inimitable Chowder which is surely the best I have tasted in my life.As a Fisherman for more years than I care to remember I do know my seafood!

For Drivers leaving the Hotel, take care as the the road can be rather busy during peak holiday times and particularly at weekends.

Check out the Hotel Web Site which has much to's at :-

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Non Nationals Driving in Ireland

Non Nationals Driving in Ireland

It is extremely important for all non – national Drivers or all those who are contemplating taking up Driving in Ireland for the first time to acquaint themselves with all the regulations before starting off! Ireland, as a member of the European Union, has strict standards which are evolving continuously and ignorance of the rules, regulations, and legislation is no excuse in breaking the Law! It is worth pointing out that because of many insurance breaches and the incessant rate of accidents on the roads ,that we are all paying an excessive rate for our Car insurance .When this situation continues to improve we will all benefit .

In the next few lines we will summarise under headings the steps that a new aspiring Driver must take in order to legally drive on the road.

(1) License Requirements
(2) Theory Test
(3) Provisional license
(4) Road Tax for vehicle
(5) Insurance
(6) National Car Test (NCT)
(7) Tyres
(8) The Driving Test
(9) Foreign License Transfer

We will firstly look at the Complete Beginner Driver, someone who has never driven before and then take the Driver who has driven in his or her own Country

 You must first sit and pass the Driver Theory Test.
 You may then acquire your Provisional Driving License.
 With your provisional license you are then legally allowed behind the wheel.
 You MUST then have an accompanying Driver who holds a full Irish Driving License.
 The car you are driving must be insured for you to drive .This can be insurance in your own name or as a Named Driver on a relatives or friends insurance policy.
 The Car you are driving must have a current Insurance Disc displayed.
 The Car must have a Current Tax Disc Displayed.
 The Car Must have an NCT Certificate displayed where necessary.
 All equipment in the car must be functioning correctly, Lights, Brakes, Indicators.
 Finally Tyre tread depths must be a minimum of 1.6mm across two thirds of the width of the Tyre.
 The first Provisional license will last for two years and once you are using your second Provisional License you will not be able to renew this without having sat your Driving Test.
 The waiting list for Driving Tests is approximately 12 months so it is advisable to apply for the Driving Test when you commence lessons with a Professional Driving School.
 Please don’t waste your time and that of the Dept. of Transport by attempting to sit the Driving Test without having had a substantial course of Lessons.
 Part of the reason for the lengthy wait for a Driving Test is precisely because too many Applicants are not sufficiently well prepared for this Exam and are having to sit the Test on subsequent occasions
 When you have passed your Driving Test you should exchange your Provisional License for a Full Irish Driving License which will enable you to reduce your Insurance costs and of course drive throughout the European Union.
 If you do not exchange your Provisional license for a full License you will not legally be entitled to drive on a Motorway.
 Your License (Provisional or Full) must be carried with you at all times.

Drivers who have an existing License from their Own Country:-
 Nationals of Countries belonging to the European Union may exchange their full Licenses for a Full Irish License if they are intending to reside permanently in Ireland.
 Provisional Licenses held by European Union citizens, including the United Kingdom, are not transferable and therefore an aspiring Driver must undergo the full action described above of Theory test; Provisional License; Driving test in order to achieve a Full Irish Driving License.
 Non – E.U.Nationals driving on a full license from their own country will mostly need to undergo the full system of Theory Test; Provisional License: Driving Test; in order to qualify for a full Irish Driving License.
 There are a few exceptions to this rule and the list of acceptable Licenses for Transfer to an Irish License can be found on the Dept. of Transport web site.

 Driving without insurance, which is a serious offence and can lead to heavy fines and Penalty point on your license, increases the insurance costs for all motorists!

 All Drivers pay a percentage of their Insurance premium into a fund to cover the costs of accidents incurred by uninsured drivers!

 Getting insurance cover even for a vehicle which has only a nominal value is extremely expensive, particularly for the Provisional License holder .Therefore it is imperative, for the beginner driver to accept this fact and spend the necessary amount on Driving Lessons and pass the Driving Test as soon as possible.

 With a full license, insurance will still be expensive, but with an accident –free record this will reduce year by year.

 One final reminder about Insurance Discs; if they fade in bright sunlight, they must be replaced as otherwise a Driving Test could be forfeited if the Examiner cannot read the Disc!

Legislative changes are a fact of life for us in the Motoring Community and indeed as we continue to be brought in line with our larger and better regulated E.U.neighbours, it is essential to be aware of these changes which have been continuing for several years now and will continue into the foreseeable future.

© Copyright Astral Driving School.Ireland .2005

The Need for Driving Lessons ?


With the ever increasing number of road accidents culminating in not just tragic deaths but many life changing injuries, it is essential to train with a Professional Driving School! This is a costly exercise but will be repaid in time since you will be much less likely to be involved in one of the constant daily incidents (AKA Accidents !) most of which are TOTALLY avoidable ! !

A Professional School will teach you above and beyond the current standards required to pass the Driving Test! The Current Driving Test regulations, while a significant improvement on previous years, still have a long way to go before reaching the top of the European ladder!

It is anticipated that Mandatory Tuition will be introduced for Car Drivers before very long! It is imminent for Motorcyclists and as I write this page there have been nine fatalities in the last 24 hours ……… two of these tragedies involved Motorcycles!

To give you an example of a top European Standard, take Germany for example…….Here one has to complete fifty hours of tuition (yes 50 ! ) before you are allowed to sit the Driving Test! This comprises 25 hours of Theory and 25 hours of Practical! As a Parent who has needed the services of two Au-Pairs in the last few years, both of whom were German, I can honestly say that their standard of Driving was so far ahead of the average Irish Driver it was embarrassing. Both these Girls were 21 years old with full German Licenses and had been driving on these for approximately 18 months!

All the recent changes to the Driving Test and those coming in the future are as a result of E.U.Directives which have to be implemented by the Government and are really long overdue.

Copyright-Astral School of Motoring © 2004

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Voyage of Discovery...60 Years on....

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the destruction of the Japanese City of Nagasaki,following the dropping of the Worlds second Atomic Bomb known affectionately as "Fat Boy".
75,000 people died in the blast, following 100,000 who had died three days previously when the Japanese city of Hiroshima was levelled by the first bomb dropped by the "Enola Gay" B29 Bomber.
The vagaries of the weather had spared the initial target ...a city called Kokura, and what ever one may think about the morality of these events the war was shortened dramatically and no doubt spared hundreds of thousands of lives of both Americans and Japanese.
It has been estimated that the proposed invasion of the Japanese mainland would have caused the deaths of about half a million Americans not to mention similar numbers of the defending forces and civilians. Japan surrendered six days later
Today it is a day of both celebration and regret, for all those families worldwide who were affected by the Second World War.
For myself,whose family were inextricably involved in the hostilites,in the European theatres ,I rejoice that on the returning Space Shuttle Discovery, just a few hours ago, there was a Japanese Astronaut.

Technology divided us and then united us in the quest for Human survival.

In my own way ,and in the way of many colleagues here in Ireland, the pursuit of Human survival is a daily undertaking as we try to instill some skills, some sense and some purpose into our Learner Driver Pupils; attempting to pave the way for them to a long and safe Driving career.
Learning to drive is not quite Astronaut training but does require dedication, committment and a willingness to overcome difficulties by sheer hard slog.


Learn to Drive with Astral Driving School. Limerick and take Your Voyage of Discovery

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Gas Pedal Blues...A few tips for better economy .

Any of you who have waded through the posts on this site to date may be forgiven for thinking that I spend my life trying to create the longest possible article.We are utilising this blog to get Driving information published instantly as opposed to waiting weeks and weeks to get something done on our main website.
We are, of course, learning the ropes, so to speak,and will be shortly launching our own fully operational Web site that we will have total control over.In other words there will be no third party WebMAster.
Check out our articles published on which is a great site for anyone wanting to know everything about anything.All our articles however are published on the blog here.

Better Gas Performance can be achieved with some simple adjustments to your Driving Habits.

(1) Think ahead.....and when you know you are going to be stopping,or there is a good chance of this, then ease off the gas pedal slowly and steadily as you approach your stopping point. This will reduce the gas usage, be nice and smooth,and will reduce the need for heavy braking .This then will also save on your Brake Pad wear.
It's a fact that most drivers use their brakes 70 -80 % too much because they don't think far enough ahead.
(2) Check your tyre pressures... regularly.
Incorrectly inflated Tyres will increase fuel usage, due to excess drag, and of course will wear out the tyres very quickly indeed.If you notice that a tyre is visibly soft, then it's a certainty that it is substantially down in pressure; sometimes by as much as 75%.It may mean that you have a nail in the tyre and a further check in 24 hours will confirm this fact if the tyre is back down again.One of the best investments a Driver can make is with a small compressor that works off the cigarette lighter.This will enable you to check tyres regularly at home when they are cold.Hot tyres do not give an accurate reading.

(3) Use Fifth Gear sooner......rather than later.Pretty well all of todays cars will happily take fifth gear at 40mph-62kph and the difference in engine revs and therefore fuel consumption, by being in fifth gear as opposed to fourth gear,is dramatic.

Check up for more useful tips soon

Astral Driving School web site... Learning to Drive in the Limerick Region. portal... Everything you could want to know about Limerick.

RSS Feeds Experiment.The Drive for Perfection

For those of you who may decide to scroll to the bottom of the page please bear with us as we strive to get a handle on the whole RSS feeds situation.We are trying to set up suitable feeds relating to Learning to Drive and Driving in Ireland.
For those of you visiting this blog from Countries that drive on the right hand side of the road some of our articles and posts may need a little interpretation as road lay outs etc will be different .
However principles of good driving and basic car handling techniques remain the same the world over.We would really appreciate any comments on our content since the objective is to help and assist new and visiting drivers and not just to while away time on the computer.Any feed back will receive a response from us .
If you, like many are finding the whole RSS scene a bit confusing (as I do )then read the attached article by Colin Maddocks just will certainly help you a lot if you wish to implement this technology on your own blog or website.

How to Add RSS to Your Website - Simply
Posted by Colin Maddocks on: 2005-08-06 14:11:50

Self SEO > RSS Articles

I am primarily a web-based travel agent, making my living from selling travel arrangements from leads generated from my specialist travel websites. Over a period of time I have built many websites and when creating the last few sites I have added an RSS news feed to generate up-to-date news about that particular travel niche.

In doing so I have added another valuable resource for my potential clients and site visitors but at the same time I have added a source of continually changing content that helps my sites with regard to their search engine optimisation.

However, initially I found the great mass of articles, ebooks and software really confusing. All I wanted to know was how to be able to set up an RSS feed and then add it to my site.

After many, many hours of researching RSS feeds and buying quite a few, reasonably expensive RSS feed creation programs, I finally came across this solution, which for me, is easy to use, straightforward to set up and, more importantly, is free.

To set up, say, a “Cruise News” feed, I would find a suitable feed from sources such as, or visit Yahoo’s news feeds at .

For example, to create a feed in Yahoo I would enter my subject in the “search” box, which would result in a new page of news, relevant to cruises and cruising. I would then click on the orange RSS feed icon that will be shown on the page and the copy the resulting feed URL, (e.g., that would appear in the IE address bar.

Next I would visit “FeedJ2s”, at and enter that Cruise News feed URL. Then, by pressing the “Generate Feed” button I would be able to generate the relevant “Cruise News” RSS code that I could then enter in the relevant place on my new website.

Now I am not suggesting that this is the best way you could create a useable RSS feed for your website. There are plenty of other ways and other programs out there and you can visit my dedicated website which will tell you all about RSS feeds and products.

However, if you don’t’ want to spend a lot of time or any money on setting up RSS feeds for your website, this must be the easiest way by far.

About the Author

Colin Maddocks is a web-based travel agent and marketer who operates several successful websites including You are free to use and distribute this article with the proviso that you add the above author details and web address.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Success of your Web Site with King Content.

I am putting this article in today with my observations on the development of a web site and how setting up a Blog can be a very useful way of improving its exposure.Nothing really to do with my main topic of Driving related content.

A guide for Newbies to get under the Radar of the ever increasing mountain of technophobia that faces a Web site owner starting off.
There is of course a huge amount to learn in setting up and running a Web Site, which is why, I believe, that most newcomers tend to put their trust in a web designer, aka webmaster and leave them to get on with things hoping that all will go well. Big Mistake!

It’s only when, having spent quite a lot of money, you find out that your pride and joy is not giving you the results that you imagined, that alarm bells can start to ring. In my own case this took approximately four years to sink in. After a promising start, with some enquiries from the other side of the world, things not only didn’t get any better but got worse!

Of course, if you are running and developing a new business, which takes a colossal amount of time and commitment, you don’t initially have time to worry too much about the success of your web site. After all, a web site will make you a zillionaire quicker than you can spell the long version of SEO! Big Mistake!

I believe it is just as important to designate sufficient time to understanding how a web site is developed, promoted and maintained as it is to spend time on all the other many facets of a fledgling business.

Many new business owners, myself included, thought in the past that just by having a web site and on-line presence AND a webmaster, that everything would be fine. Visitors and sales would surely follow and increase exponentially. Not So!

Probably the pace of change on-line is more rapid than most businesses realise and therefore if you are going to build a site AND do some reasonable level of commerce from it, you have got to study and learn a number of basics.

1. Key word research should really begin before you set about building your site, because it can help with the choice of a suitable Domain name and continue to assist in the titles and scope of your eventual articles.
2. Original and fresh content related to your prospective field is a necessity, and needs to be uploaded on a very regular basis. Unless you are a very large company with an in-house webmaster, this is probably the most crucial aspect of developing a site in terms of getting good search engine results.

3. Writing new pages can be extremely time consuming and unless you have a suitable C.M.S. package installed, enabling you to become your own webmaster, it’s highly likely you will commence the slow but inexorable slide to oblivion, other wise known as Zero traffic.

4. Build your site by all means but make sure that you become your own webmaster, having taken a crash course in the do’s and don’ts. You absolutely must have the facility to control what goes on within your site. If you miss out on this vital aspect of developing a site, the chances are that you will lose interest and stop creating ideas and content.

5. Learning to write your content, even if this seems a bit beyond your reach to begin with is another essential skill to be fine tuned and believe me, once you have got under way it will become easier with each passing day. Looking at how other web sites operate and the standard of their content will help you along the path.

6. Articles on your area of expertise, submitted to a number of reputable Directories, will almost immediately get you noticed and start to build credibility. These can be modified for use as web pages and will provide ideas for new content on a never ending basis. It has been my experience in the recent past that articles can have a very advantageous effect on search engine results. Credibility is something you can never have too much of.

7. Search engine optimization, a very fancy term, with nearly as many, so called, experts as there are sites on the Web and similar in number to the droves of Web site designers! This is a thorny topic and one best left to the experts, for the behind the scenes work. However, it is my belief that the best results come from fresh and original content put up on your site on a regular basis. Results from my blog of only two months existence, in terms of link popularity, are outstripping my web site that has been on-line for five years. This is all down to regulararticles on my chosen topic.
8. A newsletter or ezine, is a very good way of encouraging traffic to your site and building your subscriber list that you can eventually turn into clients, customers and sales. Offering an incentive for your visitors to part with their e-mail address can be by way of a free mini course or e book.. In the case of your newly published
offering a free download of one complete chapter is something worth considering and is a very popular technique. This is all part of the credibility building process. Once you get used to making regular posts to your newly set up Blog, a newsletter should be relatively easy to produce, without too much stress.

9. A Business Blog is I think, the way forward, for many web site owners who would like to see an increase in traffic of a targeted nature. They are easy to set up and have the advantage of being virtually instant. One of the great things that can help you in becoming more adept as a webmaster, utilising your own blog, is that learning the rudiments of html is not the nightmare that it may appear to be. You can practise away to your heart’s content adding and subtracting code from a blog post and see immediately the result in the preview pane. You don’t even need to publish this post. Again, getting used to viewing the source code of other web sites and seeing how they do things will give you no end of inspiration.

10. Control is the key to success in developing your skill as a webmaster. In a follow–up article on the experiences of a complete Blog novice we will have a look at some of the more interesting facts, figures, and activities that will take you where you want to go, and contribute to the success of your web site, providing you are prepared to allocate sufficient computer time
and are not expecting to retire a millionaire in six months!

It is, however, an achievable goal to go from Meek to Geek in just a couple
of weeks, with a little effort!

Car Loan Genie features a Quick Auto Loan, Vehicle Quotes, Short Car Loan Application at Low Interest - Bad Credit, no problem with our multiple Car Loan Lenders for Used or New Cars.

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Startpage Ireland--The Best Irish Links & Websites for Ireland

Used-Car-Japan.Com : Japanese Imports

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Castle Oaks House Hotel:Charming Country Elegance

Atlanta Music Music from the Deep South

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