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Mice Advice

Pest control advice for Sutton Coldfield residents.

Now that we’re well and truly into winter the insects have by and large died off or hibernated, and the mice and rats have begun to seek warmth and shelter, and your house could well be a target.

Try to spare a few minutes for a quick look around the outside of your house and garage. Any gap that you can put a pen through is large enough for a mouse to get in and should be filled in with filler or cement.

Pay particular attention the rendering around pipes or cables, under door-steps, around drains, door frames, under doors, inside meter cupboards. Don’t just look at ground level either, because mice are very agile and excellent climbers.

Garages are a common place for mice infestations as they are easily accessible and provide warmth and shelter. Garage doors invariably have a gap underneath, and the fitting of brush or rubber type strip along the base is usually enough to keep them out. If the garage is attached to the house don’t forget to check the dividing wall for holes, cables and pipes too.

Mice can also enter your house from an adjoining property, usually under the floor or into the loft, into the wall cavity and then into your house. It would be virtually impossible to find every hole or gap between the properties, so it is advisable to give your home a thorough internal check too. Sutton Coldfield householders are also advised to check pipes and cables, boilers, airing cupboards, under the bath, toilets, and the base of walls particularly under kitchen cupboards, in fact any small hole you find should be plugged.

Prevention is the best form of pest control of course but if you already have an infestation the mice should be dealt with before the proofing of any holes is carried out. This is because having established your home as their home too, they will go to extraordinary lengths to get back in and they will either breach where you have filled or will find another way in. 

Treating it yourself can sometimes be straightforward and baits that you can buy sometimes work, but mice can be very fickle, and a professional will not only have extensive knowledge of their feeding and behaviour patterns and the best places to bait, but also a winder range of more attractive and more palatable baits. Trapping usually has only limited success, as it is very random and may not eradicate the whole colony, and soon the infestation increases again. Many people think they just have a mouse but this is extremely rare as mice are very gregarious.
Mice infestations vary considerably. They can occur in the cleanest of Sutton Coldfield households, and less hygienic ones can get away with it. I’ve come across many with mice, who have lived in a house for years without any previous problems so please don’t think it could never happen to you. By taking these few simple steps you will considerably reduce the chances of suffering an infestation.

If you wish for any free advice about mice or any other pest matters feel free to give me a call (07984 88 88 87 or 0121 313 3305)

Neil Barnett
Complete Pest Management
Sutton Coldfield
www.completepestmanagement.co.uk


Local Magazine Celebrates 6 Year Anniversary

 

 

Walmley Pages has been serving the local communinity in Walmley, Sutton Coldfield for 6 years.  Promoting local businesses, events and news.  Special thanks were given to Jeff Gilbert of Jeff’s Useful Shop who contributes an article each month, most of which will put a smile on your face although some have more serious content.  Jeff is keen to promote our local parks and nature reserves in Sutton Coldfield and encourages us to appreciate the flora and fauna.  The ethos at Walmley Pages is Run by Local People For Local People.  Anyone wishing to contirbute an article, charity event or advertise can contact the editor Richard Barnes on 0121 351 6513.


Used Car – Old Rollers That Won’t Roll You Over

For over a hundred years Rolls Royce has produced cars that are the last word in luxury, quality and exclusivity. Have you spotted any recently in Walmley or Sutton Coldfield?  Naturally, they are extremely expensive but, if you shop carefully, you too can join the millionaires club and own a car that is also an investment. Here are the ones to go for:

 

Rolls Royce Silver Shadow      (1965 to 1980)

As stately as the queen and as understated as a Barbour jacket, the Silver Shadow was the first modern Rolls Royce. This car was an exercise in craftsmanship; the Connolly hide seats were hand stitched, the burr  walnut dash was hand polished and only the finest lamb’s wool would do for the carpets. The self levelling suspension gave a ride that is a match for a modern day Jag. Power from the huge 6.75 litre V8 was described as “adequate,” certainly enough to waft this hefty car along in near silence. Prices start at £2,500 but a pristine 1977 model with a scant 80,000 miles under its belt can be yours for £8k.

For: Luxury, presence, value, quality

Against: Doesn’t do corners, too many are used as wedding cars

 

Rolls Royce Camargue  (1975 to 1986)

The Camargue is a 2 door coupe based on the floor pan and mechanicals of the Silver Shadow. The Pininfarina styled body is  timelessly elegant and hugely luxurious. In 1976 this was the most expensive car in the world and the fact that only 500 were made makes it extremely collectible. Even so, I found a truly immaculate 1982 model with 64,000 miles on it for £43k. That may seem like an awful lot of money but this is a car that is only going to increase in value.

For: Glorious looks, immense style, a sound investment

Against: You’d probably never drive it

 

Rolls Royce Silver Spirit  (1980 to 1998)

The Silver Spirit was a new car for a new age. The 80s were all about brash, go    getting entrepreneurialism and this new Roller reflected that with its monolithic,    in-your-face styling. It was as big as the QE2 and as luxurious as Donald Trump’s penthouse suite. The owner was more likely to be boss of his own company than a titled landowner and more likely to be behind the wheel than sitting in the back. Unfortunately, it was based on the same mechanicals as the Silver Shadow and retained the same aversion to corners and lack of performance. This might explain the falling rock depreciation – these days you can pick up a ’93 model that has been barely run in over 49,000 miles for £7,500.

For: Huge comfort, road presence, the  bargain of the century

Against: Rather ugly, massive running costs

 

Rolls Royce Silver Seraph        (1998 to 2002)

By the time the Silver Seraph came on the scene, Rolls Royce had fallen into Volkswagen ownership (they kept the   Bentley brand and sold the Rolls Royce name to BMW). The engine was a 5.4 litre BMW V12 that finally gave the car the power it deserved. The electronics, equipment and running gear were all state of the art, but a lot of the craftsmanship that was a Rolls Royce hallmark had been lost. Visually, it was sleeker, curvier and more compact than anything that had gone before. Unfortunately, those compact dimensions also extended to the interior. You can pick up a ’98 model with a minimal 74k on the clock for £28,000; not bad for a car that cost £155k when new.

For: Looks, sophistication, ride comfort, road manners

Against: It’s really a high end Beamer


Gardening – Rain Dance Anyone?

ome would argue that our weather has never been the same since we started putting things up in space – including tons of metal ‘cans’ and the odd (and slightly reluctant) chimp and stray dog. Others would blame the wrath of the gods demanding some sort of sacrifice, or even an aberration of the sunspot cycle. I had this very debate only the other night in the local pub when, after much mirth and nine pints of foaming ale, it was  finally decided that Wayne Rooney was the most likely culprit!

 

As I write this, it is a gorgeous August day outside – perfect for lazing in a deck chair with an ice-cold drink and a decent paperback – but absolutely hopeless if you’re trying to nurture a newly planted border. I can’t remember the last time we had a consistent downpour to quench the ravenous thirst of my herbaceous borders. The Phlox and Helianthus are not looking good at all and most of the shrubs, such as Camellias, that enjoy a dampish root run are looking decidedly miserable.

Clearly I’m not the only keen gardener lamenting the lack of rainfall this  summer in Sutton Coldfield and the rest of the UK, the topic is probably second only to the re-launch of Big Brother in the ‘irrelevant conversation’ rankings. People are also talking about an early autumn this year – presumably because all their trees and shrubs are busy shedding leaves to help preserve any last vestiges of moisture. Realistically, it is a persistent drought that we are experiencing but, thankfully, in most cases the damage is normally only temporary and most plants should recover next season with few  apparent problems. In much the same way as last winter’s devastation of anything slightly tender, where plants have been left in situ they normally show dramatic signs of recovery given time.

 

The problem is what do we do in the  future? Do we keep persevering with our typical English garden favourites, or do we throw the towel in and accept that we really have been “globally warmed?!”  In that case, we might as well start stocking up on sun-lovers such as Lavenders,  Cistus and a few Cactii for dramatic    interest. Personally, I’m not convinced that our fair land will become the first European desert, but I do think that our weather has been ‘Wayne Rooneyed’ and we are in for more erratic and dramatic weather patterns. This shouldn’t mean that we necessarily have to change what we grow, but it will mean that we have to be more aware that we could get caught with our trousers down with intensely cold weather or, as is currently happening, longer periods of drought conditions. With a bit of judicial planning it will still be possible to garden the ‘English’ way and the use of organic  matter in the soil, mulches and companion planting will certainly help fight the effects of reduced rainfall. Equally, by having the right sort of protection measures such as cloches and some rolls of horticultural fleece, we can save some of the more tender species, provided you remember to keep an eye on the weather forecast/ pine cone and don’t mind a bit of extra work to wrap your charges up nice and snugly!

 

Apologies to anyone who thinks I’ve just joined the predictable ranks of the “English Weather Whingers” – I try to be a bit different but, when it comes down to the welfare of my precious plants, then I probably do get a tad defensive. Not sure if it would help but I may even go so far as enlist the local Druid faction to  organise a proper Rain Dance – partners please!

 

Jonathan Wild

Garden Consultant and Rain Dancer

Article provided by Walmley Pages Magazine in Sutton Coldfield

 


Travel – Goodbye to Ag Nik

Does anyone in Walmley remember the TV advert that features a chorus of alarms going off at 5:00 AM immediately followed by a stampede of German holidaymakers going out to put their towels on the sunbed? Meanwhile, a plucky Brit saunters out to his balcony and hurls his Union Jack towel so that it arranges itself neatly on a sun lounger. Sadly, the art of dawn sunbed reservation is alive and well, only now it is the British who are the culprits.

 

I mention this because it was probably the only black mark against my family holiday to Agios Nikolaos in Crete. We stayed the Hotel Hermes   located on the seafront near the centre of town. It was built in the 80s and it has vast sweeping lobbies and foyers occupied only by the         occasional sofa. Our suite was equally vast and featured flat screen TVs, a double width balcony and a separate bedroom for the kids. The Hermes is a trifle bland, though reassuringly efficient, but this was easily countered by the view over the vivid blue sea to the towering mountains across the bay. From my  balcony I could look down on the bustling port and watch a procession of cruise liners dock and then promptly sail away again.

 

The food in the hotel restaurant was good quality if uninspiring, but this did not matter because five minutes’ walk away was the centre of town and literally hundreds of restaurants. During my stay I enjoyed lobster, lots of freshly caught fish, a passable steak and the inevitable meze, all at reasonable prices by English standards. Ag Nik, as it is affectionately known, is a strikingly pretty town. It is built around a lake which is actually a lagoon connected to the harbour by a narrow canal. The lake is surrounded by cocktail bars and restaurants and is home to a Heath Robinson array of fishing boats. I cannot think of a better place to sit and watch the sun go down while sipping a Long Island Iced Tea and pondering what to have for dinner.

 

Although there is a disco boat that returns noisily to the   harbour each evening, packed to the gunnels with slightly intoxicated teenagers, Ag Nik is by no means Crete’s answer to Ibiza. In fact it is a resolutely middle class resort and decidedly cosmopolitan; I even encountered several examples of that very rare thing, a French tourist outside of London. I was puzzled by the plethora of shops selling Prada handbags, Rolex watches and even fur coats – hardly standard tourist tat. The mystery was explained by the presence of Elounda, one of the most exclusive resorts in the Med, a few miles up the coast. Ag Nik’s two main beaches are spotless, sheltered and surrounded by a pleasing plethora of bars and restaurants. Better still, there is not a jet ski hire or sunglasses sales tout in sight.

 

Crete has plenty to offer to the inveterate sightseer. We hired a car for a day, promptly got lost and discovered just how mountainous the island really is. Some of the mountain passes are truly hair-raising but the views make it worthwhile and the villages remind you that Crete had a culture before the tourists came. Eventually we made our way to Knossos where they have excavated an entire 3000 year old city. Sadly, little was left standing and it was just a  jumble of old stones; we didn’t stay long. A more worthwhile excursion is a visit to Spinalonga, a medieval island fortress that was used as a leper colony until the fifties. It is a poignant and slightly eerie place, fascinating to look round and you also get a boat trip and a swim.

 

So it is not goodbye to Ag Nik, but adieu. I will return someday soon.

 

Howard Clemmow

 


Daffs and Laffs

Nights are really drawing in and Autumn is upon us. This year the leaves started to turn to their fall shades in early August. This was a result of our very very dry June and July. It seems that the rest of the country was getting drowned while we just got drier and drier. However there seems to be plenty of food in and on the hedgerows for our feathered and furry cohabiters. How do blackberries, plums, damsons and sloes manage to be so juicy and plump eve when there is hardly any rain? It is one of Mother Nature’s miracles, like the turn of the year and the daffodils in the spring. Oh did I mention Daffodils? Funnily enough Getreal Community Group are again having a Saturday Daff Planting Day. They’ve got the Bulbs now all they need are the bodies to do the planting. Look out for the Gazebo in the village on October 15th, grab some bulbs and plant, complicated it aint. Last years bulbs were a delight this spring and you can add to our display for next year. The cycle path extension through to Pype Hayes and Eachelhurst Road seems to be a great success. A sunny Sunday stroll showed happy groups, all genders, all ages, all promenading a la continent. A delightful sight to see as part of our community. The Valley Boardwalk, in Newhall Valley Country Park, Walmley, has now been reopened and rebuilt thanks to this community. Many turned up and many worked. The sound of sawing and hammering was interspersed with the sound of laughing and coffee slurping. Not only is it a stunning achievement but a good time was had by all. It was a big task but we are a big hearted community. Pat yourselves on the collective back. (if it has stopped aching by now)

Jeff Gilbert – Jeff’s Useful Shop, Walmley Road, Walmley, B76

 


Ant Problems in Sutton Coldfield?

No doubt many Sutton Coldfield residents are by now starting to see ants around the home. The ants you see above ground represent only about 3% of a colony so by far the best way to get rid of them is to find the nest. Spend a little time identifying where the ant trails are and place some ant bait as near as possible to them. I find the gel type poison baits work best, although other methods such as powders or sprays can sometimes work too. Once the ants have found the bait they will take the bait back to the nest and the whole colony will then feed on it.  When deciding where to place the bait be mindful of the risks to children and pets so ensure that you read the precautions label first. 

Ants are often difficult to control, and complete eradication is hard to achieve so if you wish to have a go yourself you just have to keep plugging away and try to eliminate or cut down the infestation as best you can. Pest control companies are able to use a wider range of baits and insecticides, and of course their expertise too, and this should be an option to consider particularly if you are having difficulty controlling an infestation.

Later in the year, the queen produces winged ants (commonly known as flying ants). Both male and females are created by the queen specifically for mating purposes. When the conditions are just right, usually on various days from mid July until the end of August and on humid or thundery afternoons when the air thermals are conducive to good flying, they leave the nest and take flight, mating on the wing (this can even happen occasionally at other times of the year inside a well heated home).  When this happens, Sutton Coldfield residents are advised to open your windows to let some of them fly away, and treat the rest of them with a flying insect aerosol spray. Once mated all of the males die as do many of the females too, but some of the mated females (next year’s queens) survive and seek out places to hibernate in readiness for making a new nest the following year when the cycle begins once again.

If you need any free advice regarding ants or any other pest species please give click here.
Neil Barnett
Complete Pest Management, Sutton Coldfield.


Recommended Guide to Bumblebees

I find that many people confuse bumblebees with honeybees. Species of Bumblebee come in various shapes, sizes and colours but are generally the large and round (ish) ‘furry’ ones, unlike honeybees which are the same size and shape of wasps.  They do not produce honey as such, so unfortunately beekeepers are not interested in removing them. Bumblebees like honeybees, are diminishing in numbers and should be left alone if possible. Although they look rather intimidating, they are in fact quite placid and very rarely sting. They are also difficult to kill using the conventional methods, as their ‘fur’ protects them from the insecticide. A common place for them to nest is in garden rockeries or compost heaps, and if a customer decides that they cannot live with their presence I am able to dig out the nest and re-locate it in places such as Sutton Park , New Hall Valley , or Plantsbrook. If however they are nesting inside a wall cavity or under a floor (often using an air brick as the entrance) it is extremely difficult to deal with them. There are sometimes ways of getting round this though. I’ve had instances where they were nesting under the floorboards and accessing through an airbrick near to a door or window. A simple solution to this was to temporarily cover the air brick thus forcing them to use another air brick further round the house and away from the door/window.

Another common place for bumblebees is underneath garden sheds and I had some last year that were flying in and out from under a shed right next to the children’s sandpit, and the householders were concerned that their kids may get stung. The simple solution of placing a plank along that side of the shed meant that the bees instead used the other side, well away from the children’s play area.

If you wish to take any of these actions yourself, do not under any circumstances block the entrances of bees or wasps unless you are certain that they have an alternative way in or out. I’ve lost count of the number of cases I’ve come across where someone has blocked a hole thinking that bees inside will then die. Instead they will almost certainly find an alternative and very often one that leads to the inside of the house, and before they know it their house is full of very angry and desperate bees or wasps. With one such case I came across a couple of years ago, a lady had over a thousand bees inside her kitchen.

Another reason to consider leaving bumblebees alone is that unlike wasps which are active until October, bumblebees are not around as long and have usually finished by mid to late August.

If you would like any advice regarding bumblebees, honeybees, wasps or in fact any pests, please give me a call and I will be glad to help.

Article supplied by Neil Barnett of Pest Free Solutions of Sutton Coldfield, Director, National Pest Technician’s Association

Pest Free Solutions, Sutton Coldfield ; Tel 313 3305


Gardening – En-suite Gardening!

 

The other day I had the great pleasure of surveying a lovely, untouched garden surrounding an equally lovely Georgian house in a beautiful village. The house is just about to be sympathetically restored and I’m going to (hopefully!) make sure the garden does the result justice. As it sits in a conservation area and the locals are taking a justifiable interest, I did a bit of market research as to any possible features they consider worth retaining. Virtually every one I spoke to said that ‘ye olde Privy,’ sat in the far corner of the plot, was fantastic and should be spared any clearance that may be needed – which only confirmed my own feelings on these iconic (and very useful!) garden features. 

Thankfully, there seems to be a very benevolent movement (please excuse any further unintended puns of this nature!) towards the retention of these, once absolutely essential, facilities. Most of them have now taken on a secondary role as a tool store or simply somewhere to shove all the kids’ clutter. I couldn’t even see inside the privy in question as the key had gone walkabouts so it was impossible to confirm if it was still sporting the original seating arrangement. I did, however, find the exit from the “long drop” which goes straight into the lovely trout stream which runs through the plot. No doubt the trout and eels which were flittering around my Wellies were pleased when the village finally got itself on main drains in the 1960’s!!

InAmerica, privies were called “necessary houses” and were often highly decorated. Paintings of the period when their use was commonplace show them often styled in the same way as the house with Greek portico facades, some even topped with a bird house! Thomas Jefferson designed octagonal brick privies with domed roofs to echo the main house which made them look like elegant pepper pots. In good old Blighty we tended to take a more utilitarian view of the privy, but it was interesting to note that when Mr Crapper kindly invented the flushing loo there were a great many folk who lamented losing the nightly ritual of freezing your nether regions off at the bottom of the garden.

 Personally, if I inherited a privy in any of my gardens and I had a bit of spare cash I think I’d be tempted to re-instate some plumbing and actually “bring it back to life.” Not only would it be very useful for comfort breaks whilst gardening, it would also be the perfect hideaway – second only to the shed. Imagine being sat there with your torch reading back copies of Gardeners World with just the resident spiders for company while the wind rattles the door on its hinges?!

 All of which brings me back to my privy, which is now going to have pride of place in the new design of the garden. It is not a thing of beauty and I doubt that throughout its 152 year existence it’s ever been given any sort of makeover. As the client is keen on using it as an alternative to a shed, it’s going to have to have a path leading to it and some electrics. To reflect its former use I’m thinking of utilizing one of the plain brick walls for a suitable water feature – I think I’ve got the perfect one in mind which will look great with the right planting to compliment it. The idea will be for a continual flow of water into a container which will give the appropriate sound effects but without the aromatic qualities you would normally expect. I’ll post some pictures of the final solution later in the year so you can all see ‘The Privies Progress’! 

If you’ve got an interesting privy then please let me know as I’d love to come and have a look or, even better, if it’s still working……………..!!
Gardening article provided by Walmley Pages, Sutton Coldfield community magazine advertising local business to the Sutton Coldfield public


Great British Inventions – The Lawnmower

 

Lawns were popular in the estates of the landed gentry and to keep their grass short, the rich employed large numbers of gardeners who used scythes. If they did not mind some faecal pellets, they used the cheaper option of having deer or sheep graze their parklands to keep the grass short. 

In 1830 the inventive engineer, Edwin Beard Budding, invented the first lawnmower. It was made of cast iron with a large rear roller and a cylinder with blades at the front. Budding and his partner, Ferrabee, licensed their design to other manufacturers and the most successful of these was Ransomes. Ransomes still manufactures mowers to this day.

Shanks inScotlandintroduced his patented design. These mowers were usually bigger than those of Budding and were pulled by a horse or pony.

In the late Victorian era, powered mowers appeared. They had lightweight petrol engines or steam engines. One of the most successful early motor mowers was made by Atco from 1921.

At this time there was a trend towards making smaller mowers for suburban domestic gardens as well as further development of large motorised mowers for estates and parks. Electric powered mowers were developed in the 1920s and rotary mowers soon made their first appearance. 

In the 1960’s rotary hover mowers appeared. These were electrically powered and were made possible by the use of lightweight plastics.

Great British inventions article provided by Walmley Pages, Sutton Coldfield community magazine advertising local business to the Sutton Coldfield public

 


Designing and wording your Sutton Coldfield magazine advertisements

Designing and wording your Sutton Coldfield magazine advertisements

Magazine adverts can produce fantastic results especially in nice areas such asSutton Coldfield

But beware magazine advertisement can be difficult to get right

•           Your magazine advertisement has to generate a desire to act quickly / immediately!

•           Headlines must be creative and pack a punch.

•           Your sales message and the product which you are offering has to be clear & concise

•           Your advertisement must create a strong desire for the user to call you rather than your competitors

•           Create the impression that you are easy to contact, and a nice person to deal with

Richard Barnes director of Think Big Publishing Ltd , publisher of Sutton Coldfield magazines Walmley Pages and Recommended magazine


 

Does your advert pass the Think Big test?

If you are looking to advertise your business inSutton Coldfieldthere are a few rules that you really should follow, over the coming months Think Big Publishing will be providing tips on how to advertise your business and grab the attention of theSutton Coldfieldpublic.

What do you think the most important part of your advertisement is?  Your telephone number?  Your address?

 What stands out in your advertisements ?  If it’s your company name or logo ?

The most important thing is THE HEADLINE!!

Without an attention grabbing headline it won’t matter much how great your business or latest offer is as few will ever read it.

Think Big Tip :The main objective of a headline is to get the reader to read the first paragraph of your Sutton Coldfield advertisement. Your headline should be big, bold, and easy to read.  But more importantly, it must entice the reader to read on.

“HEADLINE TEST”

How do you know you have a powerful headline to attract the Sutton Coldfileld public?

Would people be impressed if they saw your headline in isolation? i.e

“Ace cleaning, great service and hard working  For details,
call 0121 354-0000.

This is pretty uninspiring

How about

“6 Things You Must Know Before employing a cleaner”

 Free Report or advice call  0121 354-0000″.
This works as people are likely to call this number before calling a competitors, they need to know these 6 things before they appoint anyone!

Another advertising tip is to arouse curiosity. 

I.e “What Your financial advisor Doesn’t Want You To Know”

 Use powerful attention-grabbing words.

ie Guaranteed, New, Now, Warning

Example:   “WARNING: Credit Card Users ARE Paying To Much”

Richard Barnes director of Think Big Publishing Ltd , publisher of Sutton Coldfield magazines Walmley Pages and Recommended magazine.


Four Alfas that won’t break your heart

Used Car Feature

Four Alfas that won’t break your heart

Alfa Romeos are known as cars that you buy with your heart rather than your head. With dreadful build quality, deeply flawed designs and appalling reliability being the rule rather than the exception, it is little wonder why. However, Alfas are much better than they used to be – here are four second hand bargains that won’t drive you to the depths of despair.

Alfa Romeo 159        (2005 to present)

The 159 is Alfa’s answer to the BMW 3 series and it makes a very good job of it. Top of its appeal are those ravishing looks with the distinctive triple headlights either side of the classic Alfa grille. It’s comfy, reasonably spacious and comes with bags of kit as standard. The handling is safe rather than scintillating but the ride knocks spots off its German rivals. There’s a range of engines to choose from but I’d pick the 185bhp 2.2 petrol which sounds fantastic or the 200bhp 2.4 diesel which delivers hefty performance. This car is a real bargain, £6500 gets you an 06 model 2.2 petrol with 75k on the clock. Expect to pay another £500 for a similar age 2.4 diesel.

For: Stunning looks, comfort, equipment levels.

Against: Lifeless handling, electrical niggles.

 

Alfa Romeo GTV Coupé       (1995 to 2005)

The GTV is a 2+2 coupé that is also available as a two seater Spider soft top. Oddly, while it looks sensational as a coupé, it looks distinctly odd as a Spider and removing the roof also turns the handling from bad to terrible. The interior is a lovely place to be and you have a choice of two great engines, a 2.0 litre 150bhp twin spark or a 3.0 litre 220bhp V6. The V6 delivers blistering performance but all that weight in the front makes the handling worse still, choose the compromise you prefer. The GTV is a true Alfa Romeo; the design flaws are many and various. You can’t open the doors in a car park, the turning circle is immense and the driving position is designed for an Orang-utan. They’re good value though; £4500 will buy a V6 ’03 model with about 60k on the clock.

For: Sexy styling, performance, Alfa Romeo character

Against: Handling, total impracticality

 

Alfa Romeo 166        (1998 to 2005)

The 166 is a big, well equipped executive saloon along the lines of a Mercedes E Class. It doesn’t have the most dramatic styling Alfa Romeo has ever produced but is still a pretty handsome brute. It rides and handles nicely and benefits from those charismatic Alfa petrol engines, though the diesels are a bit weedy if very refined. For some reason, executive car buyers stayed away in their droves making the 166 one of the fastest depreciating cars of all time. These days, £6000 will get you an ‘04 model V6 with modest mileage, luxury motoring at a bargain basement price.

For: Looks, charisma, comfort, value

Against: Mercedes drivers will turn up their noses at you

 

Alfa Romeo 147        (2000 to 2010)

This car is Alfa’s answer to the Ford Focus – compact, practical yet all wrapped up in a Hugo Boss suit. A base spec 1.6 litre model is a little plain Jane but the 2.0 litre Lusso with leather seats and gorgeous alloys is a car that truly stands out from the crowd. The styling got an upgrade in 2005 and the suit graduated to a Paul Smith. Throw in tidy handling, an easy ride and those peppy engines and you really have a winning formula. Like most Alfas, the 147 depreciates like a sinking stone so £5,000 puts you in a 2006 model with 60k under its belt.

For: Looks, practicality, fun, value

Against: A bit old hat now that the Guilietta has arrived 

Used car review provided by Walmley Pages, Sutton Coldfield community magazine advertising local business to the Sutton Coldfield public