BIRTHDAY UPDATE: . . . . Birthday Gift Cash still unspent! Sigh. But, from my Oakley shopping travels around the north of England in the past week, I have at least learned the following: 1) Shadestation: Regular forum readers will know that I hold this store aloft as being the best online retailer in the UK. No question. UK Oakley fans, stop your internal arguments about it, "But Herb, what about . . . " No. You're wrong. Good prices. Up-to-date website. And uber-fast shipping. End of. Well, I made the pilgrimage to their retail store in Leeds on Saturday, and I was very impressed with that too. Loads of frames to try out - split into sensibly-grouped sections - and staff that were attentive but without that 'hanging around pestering you constantly' thing. Good stuff. But - erm - I still didn't buy anything. But that's Oakley's fault - not the shop. 2) Oakley Vault in York (McArthur Glen): I've beat around the bush on this for too long, so I'm just going to say it. This store has REALLY gone downhill under new management in the last few years. Absolutely lost the plot. The prices are just COMPLETELY made up. Signs up everywhere saying "Up to 50% Off" and "Extra 25% Off Today" - so you go in, and all they've done is stuck high price tags on everything at double RRP, and then "marked them down" to around RRP (or higher!). Their range is poor too. Yes there are a good few glasses, but all of the same range. Two double-wides (which is half their men's section) full of different colours of the same sports frames - M-Frames, Flaks, loads of Half-Jackets etc. Now I'm not knocking sports frames. I'm sure someone on here like RustPot would have had an accident in his trousers at the sight of this store. But come on - let's have a bit of variety here! No Metals?! Or Special Editions? Or anything else interesting?! Here's an example of the ridiculous pricing in Oakley Vault York: Herb spots a pair of Oil Drum 2s. Non-polarised mind you. He knows these retailed when they were new out for around £100/£110 or so. He knows that the above-mentioned website is selling them for about £50. Herb looks at the price tag. Have a guess. Nope. Not even close. "Reduced from £240. To £157." Are they having a fking laugh? So I walked out. AGAIN. I used to put hundreds of pounds into that shop years ago. All the time. Nowadays? I'm honestly surprised the place is still open. Completely ridiculous. And a shameful mis-use of the Oakley Vault name. 3) Things about current Oakley range (from my Shadestation visit): a) People on OF, who have said that the size of the Crankcase frame is pretty much between Gascan and Fuel Cell, are correct. b) Pit Boss suit Mrs H better than me. (Well, I suit them too, but man do they grip hard behind my ears. So that's them off my list.). c) Deviation are weird. I look like a complete 70s TV police detective in them. And I'm sorry gents, but the brown camo one is soooo for girls. The most effeminate men's (unisex?) frame I have ever seen. d) Black Tort Antix look surprisingly cheap in the flesh. Nice on the website. But rubbish in real life. e) I still can't rock Dispatch. But i do like trying them on - along with PitBull - so I can pretend I am a little person in 'Land Of The Giants'. I always think I should have a huge 5-foot safety pin with me attached to some knotted rope/string, for the full effect. Man they are huge frames! f) I can carry off Eyepatch 2, but just can't get myself excited enough to buy them. (I already have an EP1, which I pretty much never wear.) g) I do really like Jupiter Camo. The proper paint-job one with black/green/yellow/red fades - like on the Dispatch. Not just a pair of red Holbrooks with a JC name ) . So I'm tempted to ask Dr Chop to rustle up a JC Jinx. Hmmmm. So perhaps Dr Chop is the answer to my Oakley Rut Blues . . . . ?