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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Happy New Year

May I wish every blog reader a very happy new year.  None of us knows what the future holds - as far as we are able, the future is ours to determine unless health issues scupper these.  Whatever your circumstances, I wish you best wishes for a happy, healthy and fulfilling 2015.

FTSE 100 share index

After a moderate start, the index has been drifting lower during the morning. Although just higher than it started the day, I fancy it will be in negative territory by the close. 

Most forecasters are expecting a new all time FTSE 100 high (7000 +) by the end of next year, barring any shocks.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Early spring?

We have just been to Anglesey Abbey and there were just a few daffodils in flower already, which is very early for up here. There were some snowdrops and hellebores coming out too. Spring early?
Early daffodils (Dec 30th 2014) today at Anglesey Abbey

Slipping FTSE 100 index

At lunchtime the FTSE 100 had fallen about 1% and it look like it could go lower still this afternoon. In the whole of 2014, the FTSE 100 has fallen about 4-5%.

UPDATE 1615z:  The FTSE 100 index has fallen about 1.42% so far today.

Ebola - case in the UK

So, a case of Ebola has been confirmed in a health worker returning from Sierra Leone. She is now in isolation. Let us hope she recovers and few others have been infected.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Greece to Italy ferry fire

This was a stupid incident,which smacks of incompetence or poor training.

Why were the crew so poorly trained that the fire was still burning away after 24 hours? Why did people have to be 24 hours or more in some cases waiting on the upper deck to be rescued? Why did anyone have to die? Apparently, 10 people died.  All survivors are now reported to be off the ferry.

I know the seas were bad, but one gets rough weather and crews should be able to deal with this. Sorry, but someone needs to be held accountable.

Broadchurch - series 2

Not sure how we came to miss the first series on TV - we saw it on DVD instead. There is a follow-up series (series 2) on ITV starting on Jan 5th. We will be watching this as the first series was very good dr

See .

FTSE 100 index

This morning, the main UK share index started up a little bit but seems to be drifting lower as the day progresses.  It looks likely to end little changed on the day, unless there are late surprises.

UPDATE 1712z:  The FTSE 100 ended the day marginally higher.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Another plane goes missing in S.E.Asia

Although the indications so far are that this is a tragic bad weather accident, the mind inevitably goes back to the loss of MH370 earlier in the year, of which no trace of wreckage has ever been found. AirAsia flight QZ8501 flying to Singapore with 162 passengers has not been heard of since requesting a change direction due to bad weather.

UPDATE 29.12.14 1237z:  Indications suggest it crashed into the Java Sea. Tragic. There is a search and rescue mission  in progress although hopes of finding any survivors are slim.

See .

Simple pleasures

Over the Christmas period we have seen all our family and all our grandchildren. This is a picture of our "London" grandchildren walking up the lane to the windmill that is next to our house. I am ahead of them.  Our house is to the right, just out of the shot. You can just see the hedge bordering the front garden  on the right hand of the picture. The windmill has recently been restored. It is nearly 200 years old.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Service of 9 lessons and carols from Kings

We have just watched and listened to this service. We recorded this earlier over Christmas. Since the end of WW1 in 1918, this service has been held in Kings College Chapel. It is now broadcast worldwide.

Kings College Chapel is one of the world's most famous buildings. We
have a free pass to get in. Being local, it is all too easy to take all the splendid buildings in Cambridge for granted. Since retiring, I have taken them for granted far less than when I worked in Cambridge.   My wife and I often say what a wonderful city it is. If we were on holiday here we'd enjoy it!  We really are very lucky living so close.

See,_Cambridge  .

See .

Christmas time

Whether you celebrate Christmas as a Christian or simply as a time in mid-winter when you can enjoy some good food and family company, I hope Dec 25th was a very happy time for you.

What happened in the Middle East over 2000 years ago this Christmas may never be properly known, but just perhaps something extraordinary did happen back then. The stories about it have passed down over the centuries. They may be inaccurate, mixed up, partly myth, or totally wrong. Somehow though I have a deep sense that in this muddled, often contradictory, set of accounts there is something timeless and important we need to respond to.

And here is the famous poem by John Betjeman that senses this. In the midst of the humdrum activities of Christmas - the presents and the food and the decorations - there is that mystery. What really happened? What is the message?


The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain.
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hooker’s Green.

The holly in the windy hedge
And round the Manor House the yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The altar, font and arch and pew,
So that villagers can say
‘The Church looks nice’ on Christmas Day.

Provincial public houses blaze
And Corporation tramcars clang,
On lighted tenements I gaze
Where paper decorations hang,
And bunting in the red Town Hall
Says ‘Merry Christmas to you all’

And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.

And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children’s hearts are glad,
And Christmas morning bells say ‘Come!’
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.

And is it true? and is it true?
The most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window’s hue,
A Baby in an ox’s stall?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me?

And is it true? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant.

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare -
That God was Man in Palestine
And lives to-day in Bread and Wine.

— John Betjeman (1906 - 1984)

Template for blog?

I am experimenting with a more cheerful template. Please let me have any feedback on this e.g. is it clearer? Is it worse? etc. The basic content should still be as before.

British Rail

Yet again,  British Rail is in trouble. Over running engineering work has closed Kings Cross station in London and poor passengers are badly lacking information. This is not excusable. British Rail need to try harder to ease the problems for passengers.

See .

Friday, 26 December 2014

City Link administration

Some 12 years ago I witnessed first hand the entering into administration of Simoco. Happily I survived and entered the new company Sepura that came out of the ashes. Grown men who had worked for years left with virtually nothing. Some were in tears. It was a very sad day.

So, when I heard about the administration at City Link, announced on Christmas day, my heart sank. Apparently the company had been in trouble for some while, but an announcement on Christmas Day is the ultimate in bad timing. I wish those who will lose jobs every hope they soon find new work.

Family gone home

After a couple of hectic, but enjoyable weeks, during which we have seen all our family including both our sons, their wives and all our grandchildren, the house is again very quiet. It was lovely to see them all, but I was very tired.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014


We have family here from Dec 24th until Dec 26th so blog updates will be infrequent during this period. May I wish all readers a very happy Christmas whether with family or alone. For some this can be a difficult time. It is the season of love and kindness. My hope is you find love and kindness whatever your situation. 

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Birthday today

Today is my 66th birthday. There were times in the last year or so when I thought I would never see this day or this Christmas, but slowly my body is recovering, thank goodness.

This last year has been very tough for my wife and I, so I sincerely hope that 2015 will be a better year for us.  Lis has been my carer as well as my wife and I am so grateful for her love, patience and kindness.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Stroke update

Of late, I have become frustrated that I am not making improvements at the rate earlier in my recovery. I still get giddy, still get tired too easily and still have issues drinking thin liquids. I expected to be back to full health by now. Maybe in 2015?

Hope Cove webcam, Devon

See .

It is a while, because of my illness, since I have been to Devon, so I enjoy looking at the various webcams from there. The one above is at Hope Cove, where our family used to live centuries ago. The weather looks cold and windy down there today.  It is windy here today as well.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Spring on its way?

Our visit to Anglesey Abbey this week was cheered up by the sight of blossom and budding daffodils. I reckon 2 weeks and these daffodils will be in flower. Considering the weather, this will be early.
Blossom at Anglesey Abbey - Dec 19th 2014

Conditions in Chinese factories and their supply chains

Last week, BBC's Panorama programme did a frightening documentary on factories used by Apple in China and on their tin supply chain in Indonesia. If such poor conditions are used by Apple, many other products will be produced in even worse conditions. As a user of Apple products I am appalled.

See Panorama, Apple's Broken Promises .

Of course, we in the West milk the low costs that such poor working procedures/conditions permit. With time, conditions will improve and the West will look to other low cost manufacturing areas for our low cost products. Sadly, our greed feeds this process.

Frighteningly, other products we buy are probably made in places that are far worse. By buying these products - most consumer goods in the West are now made in China - we are complicit. Slowly things will get better in China. Then we'll seek out other low cost areas of the world to do our dirty work.

In the past we have blamed China for pollution but at the same time we expect it to make goods we want at ridiculous prices. It s our wish for more and more consumer goods at stupid prices that encourages the Chinese to slash wage costs and make workers work like slaves. In the West we would not allow it.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Sony film hack - how will the USA strike back?


USA President Obama has vowed to strike back at North Korea for its alleged hack of the Sony Film Studios. I wonder what action he has in mind?

The USA allegedly does far worse with regard to cyber-crime. It would not surprise me if, as we talk, the USA is busy trying to tap into Russian, Chinese and North Korean systems, amongst others.  The difference is the North Koreans were caught in the act, allegedly.

In the dirty game of cyber-crime the golden rule seems to be, "don't get caught in the act".

Lighter evenings again

It seems no time at all since the summer when it was light until well past 9pm here. Well, the good news is that from yesterday here in Burwell, Cambs, the evenings are now once again getting lighter, although the mornings get darker until early January. At first, the evenings get lighter by about just 1 minute a day, but this speeds up as the winter progresses. By the end of February, the evenings will be very noticeably better.

See .

Thursday, 18 December 2014

FTSE 100 index - up again.

Following a jump of 2% in the main USA markets yesterday following hints by the Fed that rates will be pegged for some time to come, the FTSE 100  share index  here in the UK is around 1.8% higher, although it has some way to go to make up for earlier losses.  I don't think it will end the year higher than at the start of the year.

UPDATE 1716z:  The FTSE 100 ended 2.04% up on the day.

Being fat a disability?

The highest court in Europe has made some strange rulings. It is no wonder the UK is seeking to be excused from its rulings. See .

The latest nonsense from the European Count of Justice seems to be a ruling that, in some circumstances, being obese counts as a disability. Sorry, twaddle.

Collapsing North Sea Oil?

See .

If the continuing fall in oil prices results in a shift to carbon-neutral fuels, then this may be a blessing in disguise: for far too long we have subsidised fossil fuels whereas our focus needs to be on renewables.  I hope any who lose jobs in oil in the North Sea oil industry find alternative jobs fast in the renewables sector instead.

Boko Haram

See . Yet again, the news is of senseless killings and captures by Boko Haram in Nigeria. Violence is not the way to win support for any cause: all it does is alienate innocent people. This is true everywhere: in Nigeria, Syria, USA, everywhere. All societies need to be fair to all.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

FTSE 100 and Sepura shares

After losing ground over the last few days, the FTSE 100 share index has staged  something of a recovery during the day.  Sepura (SEPU) share also have edged upwards too. No way the FTSE 100 will end the year at 7000 mind you.

USA and Cuba

See .

After far too many years, it looks like Cuba and the USA are set to resume "normal relations". It has amazed me that this has taken so long. Like a pair of children squabbling. Both countries should benefit.

Obama and Castro met at Nelson Mandela's funeral.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Sunrise and sunset calculator

 See .

If you are like me, you want to know when the sun rises and sets locally. This calculator may be what you need. Here, near Cambridge, the nights start to get lighter from this coming Thursday (Dec 18th) although it is not until Jan 10th until the mornings start to get lighter.

Nearing the shortest day

As we approach the shortest day, we can soon look forward to lengthening days again. This morning, we awoke to a bright and spectacular sunrise.   The late mornings don't bother me, but I am looking forward to lighter evenings.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Ebola news

See .

Even the survivors of Ebola are facing new issues including blindness. Worrying. The ebola outbreak, mainly in West Africa, seems to have gone out of the headlines.

Australian cafe siege ended

Thankfully the siege is over although innocents lost their lives.

We do well to remember that the world is full of good and kind people with hearts filled with kindness and forgiveness.

Sadly, a very few people know only evil.

More Anglesey Abbey

Last night's visit to the lights at Anglesey Abbey was a great success.

This is another picture, this time of the illuminations near the mill. I think the light show has ended for 2014, but I can thoroughly recommend a trip to the lights next Christmas 2015.
Anglesey Abbey lights - near the water mill.
Of course Angelsey Abbey is good for a visit at most times of the year. Soon the winter garden will be open to see the newly emerged spring flowers. We usually visit in February.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Football results - League Division 2

It was a good week for the Devon clubs in League 2.

Plymouth beat Northampton 3-2 away from home and Exeter won 2-0. Both teams are currently in the play-off zone. I do hope they manage to get to the automatic promotion places.

It is a pity that Torquay were relegated to the Conference last season. There is an outside chance they could be back in the league next year, but they need to keep winning every game.

Local team Cambridge United who were promoted from the Football Conference this year are doing pretty well too.

Anglesey Abbey lights

This evening, we visited Anglesey Abbey, our very local National Trust property, as they were illuminating some of the trees and shrubs, and the house. In fact the illuminations were excellent.  On the way around we stopped for some food and drink. Luckily the rain that was forecast held off.
Anglesey Abbey - the house illuminated this evening.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Strictly Come Dancing BBC1 TV

See .

Like many men I suspect, I watch this with my wife.  Frankie very much reminds me of my wife Lis when we first met.  Frankie is also a very good dancer, so most weeks I go online and give her 3 votes. Voting online is totally free, whereas phone votes are charged.

Years ago, I used to ballroom dance with my then girlfriend Ann. These were special times, long ago now.  I still treasure those days, even though I have been happily married to my current wife since 1971. Somehow ballroom dancing was with Ann, and only Ann. I want that to remain so.

I have not really ballroom danced since the 1960s. These days I am still too ill to dance because of my cerebellum brain bleed in September 2013. This has been a strange year and I shall be glad when I am better again. Life is still hard.

Dutch marriage proposal

See .

In the Netherlands, a man proposed to his girlfriend from an unsecured crane which managed to topple over onto a neighbour's roof causing great damage.  By the way, I understand the girl accepted. Not sure if the roof damage would be covered by insurance.

Meteor shower peak

Meteors should be good overnight as we are at the peak of the Geminids shower. The weather here is overcast, so I probably won't see anything

Friday, 12 December 2014

Computer glitch we are told

See .

We are told that UK airspace has been restricted due to a "computer glitch". The cynic in me says there may be a far more sinister explanation: either terrorists have compromised the NATS computers or there was a terrorist threat to a plane or planes and the "powers that be" closed  (some of) the airspace.  Of course it could all be perfectly true and there really was a computer glitch.

Also we have still not seen a single piece of evidence that Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 crashed in an ocean. Surely, after all this time something of the wreckage would have been seen?

NS&I Pensioner's Bond

See .

Starting in January, pensioners over 65 years old can apply for a Pensioner Bond  up to £10k with a return of 4% before tax. This is a better rate than anything available currently. Interest will be paid at the end of the term. For 4% gross, this is in 3 years time.

Lighter evenings from next week!

Even though the mornings get darker for a while yet, the evenings start to get a little bit lighter here just before the winter solstice.  I think this will depend on your location.  By the end of next week the evenings here stay lighter by 1-2 minutes. By the end of January it is very noticeable. The change is slow at first but speeds up: by early March it is light until 6.30pm. I think the rate of change follows a sine wave with the fastest change around the equinoxes.

Although there is something nice about cosy evenings in, I prefer light nights.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

More on over-wintering swallows

Well, apparently it did happen in 2008 and again in 2009.

See . This details BTO observations of a single swallow in a Cornish village between December and the following February. As our climate warms more swallows may decide to give the 12000 mile round trip south a miss. It is a chancy thing, as a cold snap could see off all the insect food.

The image of the swallow is actually located on the RSPB page linked below. It will be deleted immediately if so linking infringes any copyright. I don't think it does as it still "resides" on the original site.

See also .

From a Yahoo group in 2009:
Records of birds hanging on (over winter) include single Swallows at Penzance and Marazion in Cornwall. The latter site was home to four birds until recently, with an earlier cold spell killing three, and the last bird is surviving on insects in a 20m by 4m patch of seaweed washed up against the sea wall. This is remarkably similar to the earlier winter occurrence of four Swallows at an oil refinery in Pembrokeshire, with a single bird surviving until at least 6 January.
N Ireland

Labour policies

See . I don't much care for many Labour politicians such as Ed Milliband and Yvette Cooper. I am totally skeptical that Labour would really cut the underlying deficit. On the other hand I quite like David Cameron (Conservative) but feel the coalition could do more to help those in genuine need and be harder on those with inherited wealth and privilege: the Tories still come over as a bunch of toffs.

At the moment I have no idea who I'll be voting for in the General Election next spring.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Over-wintering swallows?

A swallow was seen in South Devon just a few days ago. I have seen swallows in the South Hams as late as Dec 7th.  It makes me wonder if a handful now stay for the winter, and survive, and do not migrate to Africa? Certainly in places like South Cornwall, South Devon and the Channel Islands this must be a possibility if the weather is mild and there are enough insects around.

I have seen no records for swallows in January in the UK. Such records would tend to suggest over-wintering. Those that remain late could be indicative of very late broods or those that somehow lost (if they ever had it) their ability to migrate and perished when the weather turned colder.

Here in East Anglia, I rarely see a swallow before April 7th. When they return from Africa it is an important day for me. Swifts are usually first seen here around the end of April. Hearing swifts scream in the spring air makes me glad to be alive: it reminds me that all is still well with the world.

At the moment, we are approaching the shortest day with long, dark nights. Long light evenings seem a way off. Mind you, in just a few weeks' time the nights start to shorten and the days start to get longer. We'll blink and it will be spring again.

We are very lucky to have our seasons as each has its special features to be enjoyed.

Earth's water may NOT have come from comets

See .

Rosetta's probes have indicated that water did not come to Earth from comets. Results were posted in the journal Science. This contradicts some earlier analysis of water on other comets.

Al Jazeera news


It is surprises me how often news items on this Middle Eastern news channel never appear on the BBC. Sometimes it is good to look at the news from different angles to be sure it is reasonably free from bias. The BBC is pretty good, but it sometimes misses important international news.

Sepura shares

My old company, Sepura PLC - I am very out of touch these days - makes TETRA radios which are widely used in public security. Today,at 1600z, the shares were up to 149.75p. I wonder  if its shares are seen as a safe haven when the world is uncertain?  Certainly, the company has always been profitable as far back as I remember. When first floated, shares were 140p.

Meanwhile, the FTSE 100 has been drifting lower on international worries over growth and EU issues.

Weather bomb

See .

Looks like a so called "weather bomb" is to hit the north of the UK today.  Even the south could be hit later.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Threat to serving police officers

See .]]

Apparently the West Midland Police have received credible evidence of a threat to capture a serving officer. I assume this came from IS or Al Qaeda, but I don't know this is so. Clearly worrying times for all police officers anywhere.

Monday, 8 December 2014

South African Court dismisses Dewani murder case

See .

I was not there so it is unfair to make any real comment. If he was innocent the man should rightly be freed. If the case was thrown out simply because they could not prove "beyond reasonable doubt" his guilt then what? It was a strange case. Why travel to a rough township at night anyway?  Odd.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Poor voice

One of my frustrations with my stroke is my very poor voice. I want to say more but am told my voice is weak and indistinct.  I get very breathless talking. I get SO frustrated.

Alex Salmond MP at Westminster?

The BBC website reports that the ex SNP leader Alex Salmond is to stand for a seat at Westminster in the next General Election in May 2015. He wants ti ensure promises made at the Scottish Referendum are kept.

Stroke update

Now  15 months since my brain-bleed, I still feel "poorly". People who casually see me think I am better than I am inside. When walking I still feel drunk and giddy, I still get tired easily and my liquid swallow and voice are still poor. By now,  I was expecting to be back to as I was before my brain-bleed, but think this is still months away sadly. I am still clumsy and far from my old self.  It is very frustrating for me and my wife, kids and grandchildren.

I still feel progress is being made but the steps are small ones. In earlier months I could clearly see improvements, but now they are small. For example, I think I feel generally less tired, although I still feel totally exhausted at times. My giddiness must be getting better as I can look through a much wider angle when turning my head.

Guess I have to be patient and never give up.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Climate change

There is now little doubt that we live in a warming world and the evidence suggests Man's influence has played a large part. Even if globally we managed a big switch to renewables we'd probably still have warming but I feel we should try to minimise the impact.

A USA website says the average sea level rise over the last 100 years is 7 inches (178mm). Personally, I think the problem will be solved by a combination of global agreements and good engineering. We simply cannot ignore this issue: it will not just go away.

There is a chance that we are entering a Maunder Minimum. This may help us a bit.

USA and UK growth and debt

The BBC News reports that the US economy is growing at a greater rate than expected and that the number of jobs created has averaged 241,000 a month this year. They say the USA economy powers the world. It all depends on whether or not an economy really can live on debt.

It seems to me that both the USA and the UK economies depend on debt to exist. This is not sustainable. Every nation has to live within its means or ultimately wither. When nations like China will no longer buy government IOUs (gilts) the game is up. The debt game cannot go on for ever. In reality, we all know this.

We no longer rule the world. We no longer have an Empire to exploit. We live in a new world order and the sooner we wake up to this the better for us all.  Up to now, the UK has always paid those it owes money to on-time. There may come a time when it cannot or the pound will be devalued and people will no longer want to buy our debt.

See .


Sometimes it is hard to separate fact and fiction. The recent US TV series "Homeland" was about the dynamics between the USA and Al Qaeda. Today we hear news that the latter's leader has been killed. in Pakistan. This is very much like the latest series.

See .

Friday, 5 December 2014

Orion's successful test flight

This may (eventually) be used on a manned Mars mission possibly in 2033. Today, NASA carried out an unmanned test flight of this crew module. It splashed down in the Pacific.

See .

FTSE 100 and Sepura shares

Both the FTSE 100 and Sepura (SEPU) shares have made gains today. The FTSE 100 index closed well up on  the day and Sepura also continued its recent good run ending the day at 149p, close to its all time best. In recent weeks Sepura has done well.

Books for prisoners


What total nonsense!  Of course prisoners should be allowed to receive books.   How else are they meant to reform?

Rail Fare Rise

Yet again, rail fares are risng, but this time by just 2.2%. This is still greater than the rate of inflation, squeezing yet more the incomes of commuters. I am very glad I don't have to use trains into London every day, often without a seat.

See .

Elgin Marbles

These should be returned to Greece, no arguments. They are not ours to keep or to loan to the Hermitage Museum in Russia. All such artifacts should be returned to their rightful homes. We accuse the Nazi's of stealing but conveniently have excuses when we are guilty. By all means let us replace them with excellent copies.

See .

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Huge spending cuts ahead?

Whichever party forms the next government, an independent think tank (IFS) has warned we face colossal spending cuts ahead if we are to "balance the books". Labour want to do this slightly more slowly than the Conservatives, but either way we are in for more austerity.  Of course, in the lead up to a General Election no party wants to tell the cold truth.

See .

Raspberry Pi rival?

Chip maker Imagination is to sell a rival to the famous Raspberry Pi PC. At the moment, we don't know if this rival will out-do to Raspberry Pi.

Feeling more vulnerable

Later this month I celebrate my 66th birthday. Since my close call with death following my brain-bleed in September 2013, I have felt far more vulnerable.

With luck and a full recovery, I could live for 20-25 years or more, but on the other hand I could face death at any time. My father died at 68 and his dad at 64, both of heart related conditions. Thankfully heart and health care are better nowadays.

At one time I felt as if I would last for ever. Now I feel older and know that I have a limited life remaining. Whatever the future brings, I hope I don't waste my precious years to come. I have lots more living that I want to do.

Bristol tragedy

See .

The bodies of a young mum and her little baby have been found. It looks like suicide. What a tragic loss of life for all involved. So, so sad.

The Imitation Game film

Today, for the first time since before my stroke, we went to the cinema in Cambridge. We saw " The Imitation Game" about the work of Alan Turing (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) who was very involved in de-crypting the German Enigma code.

It reckons de-crypting this powerful code saved 14M lives and shortened WW2 by 2 years. He was a brilliant man and it was so sad that he committed suicide some years after WW2 because of his gay leanings. These days sexuality matters not one bit.

Anyway, it was an excellent film and at £10 for two with free tea or coffee if we wanted it I can recommend the Cambridge Picturehouse cinema on Thursdays.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Tax return

Today, I started my online tax return. I usually do it about this time of the year, although last year it was later (in early January) because I was in hospital. I think I have all the data I need: usually finding these is the hardest bit. I hope to complete this next week.

John Kerry says....

The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has said IS has been "significantly weakened" by coalition air strikes.  Does this mean the opposite is true?

UPDATE 1945z:   John Kerry approves of Iran airstrikes against IS. See .

Should we ever believe our politicians?

Today, our Chancellor of the Exchequer revealed his Autumn Statement on the economy. Yet again the government has missed its declared targets on deficit reduction. We are still living well beyond our means.  The opposition was as bad. It seems you can promise what you want, then miss the targets. Moral - DON'T ever believe what our politicians say.

Supposedly we are "getting out of the red". Who is kidding? Sadly I see little chance of better economic news under a largely Labour government. It makes voting in the General Election next year even more important. I may end up voting for the team I detest least, rather than the party I most like.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Flood defences

The government today revealed how it intends to distribute £2.3bn in flood defence measures. My younger son very narrowly missed being flooded last winter in Kent. I hope they will be OK this coming winter and spring. This is, I believe, money that was originally earmarked but was never spent earlier in the life of the government. My son was given sandbags but thankfully his house escaped, but it was a close thing.

See .

Is Prof. Stephen Hawking right about AI?

See .

The world famous Cambridge scientist Professor Stephen Hawking has warned that AI may result in the end of the human race. He has been suffering from Motor Neuron Disease (MND) for very many years now, but his brain is as sharp as ever.

I have only seen him once in Cambridge, in his wheelchair.  When he eventually dies, the world will have lost one of its very best minds. It is amazing he has beaten his condition for so long.

FTSE 100

Today, it looks like the FTSE 100 stock index will end the day about 70 points up on yesterday when it lost a bit of ground. On the other hand, Sepura shares have fallen back a bit.

UPDATE 1845z:   At end end of the day the FTSE 100 index closed 85.73 up at 6742.10.

Monday, 1 December 2014

University of the Third Age in Cambridge

After a few years break I am attending some interesting lectures this year. I drive to the local Park and Ride and take a free bus into the city. After all my health issues it is good to be with "normal" people just interested in their subjects. This term I am studying "Human Evolution" and the founding of Australia and New Zealand.

My poor voice (stroke)

For reasons I don't understand, my brain is unable (at present) to communicate properly to my (fully working) voice box. My voice box was checked with a camera (down my nose) a few months ago.

Although my speech sounds OK to me (clarity and loudness) apparently it is a whisper and hard to understand. All the time I feel breathless.I am told this is all a result of my brain bleed and it will, in the end, recover. I have to be patient! Hopefully thing will improve in 2015.

Paedophile doctor sentenced to 22 years in prison

See .

22 years,which may mean he will be released in 11 years. What a tragedy for all involved - his victims, Addenbrooke's hospital, his family and  for a ruined career that was worth £100k a year.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Hong Kong

See .

The recent political unrest in Hong Kong could just fizzle out or result in one of 2 outcomes: firstly the Chinese could clamp down hard on Hong Kong along the lines of Tienanmen Square or secondly it could result in yet more liberalism. China is still dangerous and I fear the former:  don't rattle their cage too much.

Next week, my brother and his wife visit HK to see their daughter, husband and their child. I hope they steer clear of the troubles.

After all.since 1997 HK has been a special region of China with its repressive regime and one party rule.   Interestingly, the one party system seems to have done China plenty of good economically.

Black Friday - pure commercialism

Individually, practically every US citizen I have known has been kind, warm hearted and generous. I like them - they are genuinely a kind people.

But, why do we have to copy them all the time? We now seem to have adopted "Black Friday" which was unheard of until this year. Soon we'll be celebrating Thanksgiving holiday, just to copy them. Let us enjoy our uniqueness and not forever try to copy those in the USA.

Black Friday is pure commercialism and belongs in the gutter. It is "in your face" big time in the UK. Whilst having a good moan, why does Christmas start in October?

NHS - more money?

See .

Apparently the chancellor has found another £2bn for the National Health Service. To me, this seems like cynical electioneering.  Although I fully support the NHS - health care should NOT depend on the money one has - there is no doubt in my mind that billions could be saved each year if they learnt more from the private sector.

In particular, communication within the NHS and to its customers could be vastly improved. From just my own experiences and those close to me, I can see ways to save literally thousands. The more people I talk with, the more waste I hear about.

Career politicians

There seem to be far fewer UK politicians who are there for genuine altruistic reasons. Maybe it was never so and ALL politicians are/were there for their own gain?

I think not. In the past there seemed to be far more politicians in positions of power because they genuinely thought they could help build a fairer and better world. These days the House of Commons seems filled with toffs who went to public schools, work in share dealing or the big banks, make a career (on the side) of politics because they may be able to modify policies to their personal gain. Sadly, I think this applies to politicians of all parties. It is dangerous to generalise I know. I hope that those to whom we grant power to create and modify our laws do so with care,humility and for good reasons. It would be a very sad day if we totally lost faith in our Parliament.

Last night we went out with close friends to a concert at the West Road Music School in Cambridge given by the CCSO (City of Cambridge Symphony Orchestra) and it was excellent.

See .

Their next concert is Feb 14th 2015.

Saturday, 29 November 2014


Yesterday, as the weather was mild and sunny, we decided to visit the grounds of Ickworth House, a National Trust property near Bury-St-Edmunds. It was very autumnal there with most trees now without leaves. Come the spring it will look quite different.

Middle East politics

The politics of the Middle East is hard to fathom. Over the years there have been plenty of injustices and many continue even now. I do NOT have the answers but wish that the people of the region could live in peace and mutual respect - many are different e.g. Arabs and Jews, yet surely more is gained by acceptance of each's right to exist than forever trying to annihilate the other?

It saddens me to see a region so troubled.

I wonder what will happen when the world learns to live without oil? Our heavy dependency on a peaceful Middle East will end. I suspect the West will just leave them to their own devices.

See . In Egypt I have no idea about the rights or wrongs of recent events, but I am pleased the judge dismissed charges of murder against Egypt's past president.  All should learn that forgiveness is the most powerful force in the world. It has always been so since the dawn of humanity.

Plebgate multi-millionaire?

According to The Times newspaper, the MP at the centre of the so called Plebgate scandal will be selling some of his property empire to fund his legal bill. Often reporting such matters is wrong but I don't wish to be ruled by people living in a parallel universe.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Falling oil prices

Oil prices continue to fall worldwide for many reasons.  See I think North Sea Oil is a minor part of our trade figures these days. Had Scotland become independent, the falling oil revenues might have been very serious.
"Welcome to the new world of oil," said Michael Wittner, Societe Generale's senior oil analyst. "Saudi Arabia and Opec will no longer be the mechanism to balance the market, they have relinquished that role. Instead, the market itself - prices, in other words - will be the mechanism to rebalance the market. We cannot overstate what a dramatic and fundamental change this is for the oil market."
I think this is good news. The Middle East is no longer holding the world to ransom. Also, we are (too) slowly weaning ourselves off oil.

Paedophile Doctor

See .

How sad that a doctor was so driven by his unhealthy sexual interest in young boys that he has ruined his career and is likely to face many years in gaol. His sentencing hearing has been adjourned until Monday when his fate is likely to be known.

I think questions need to be asked why he was able to commit his offences for so long. He betrayed trust and must face his punishment. It is sad he was not helped to overcome his addiction long ago.

Stroke update

In the last few weeks, I seem to have made little progress. I still find many liquids hard to drink, I still get giddy when walking and most physical activities exhaust me, although on many days my level of stamina may be a little better. I do so want to be back to my old self again.

Immigration and the Conservative party

With not long to the next General Election here in the UK, the Conservatives are now trying, against the odds, to win hearts and minds in the debate on immigration. The latest idea is to grossly restrict benefits for 4 years for people who immigrate to the UK. Unfortunately for a small island like ours (?) we find ourselves real magnet for people wanting to move within the EU. Those that move and work here help our economy with growth in the UK stronger than in the rest of Europe. Whether or not this latest idea will reduce nett inward migration I do not know.  UKIP is making its voice heard and the Conservative party is rattled.

I still have no idea which party to support in the General Election next year. The outcome is likely to be close with minor parties holding the balance of power or being asked to form a coalition with either Labour or the Conservatives.  I actually quite like David Cameron, but slightly prefer Labour values. Sadly I think the Labour leader is not too charismatic or good as a leader. Last time I voted for the Liberal Democrats.  In the EU elections (not first past the post) I voted Greens.

See .

Sepura (SEPU) shares and FTSE 100

Sepura (my old company) shares gained even more today to end up at 147p, 2% up on the day and the strongest level for some time now. After a day largely in negative territory, even the FTSE 100 index made very slight gains by the end of the day.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Sepura (SEPU) shares

Shares in my old company have increased in value by around 10% lately. Good, but they have been even higher.

La Hogue cafe

We went to place our Christmas order in the local farm shop, La Hogue,  and then stayed for lunch. For the first time (since my stroke) I managed a full coffee.  I also had a ham and cheese Panini with all the trimmings and managed most of it.

BBC and FTSE 100 data

See .

The BBC seems to have fixed its glitch with market data. Their main news page is again showing this information. For a few days it was either missing or wrong.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The Royal Mail

Once upon a time, a letter posted locally in the morning would be delivered locally the very same afternoon. Not any more - just one delivery a day and most of that is JUNK delivered to help profits and promptly just binned. Such a WASTE. Collections are as bad. Things go backwards. Progress?

As far as I am concerned the post is like energy - an essential service that should not be run for profit. It seems odd to me that we have to have a postal service that is not cheap, is run to make profits and very dependent on JUNK mail. Stupidity.

BBC News and the FTSE 100 index

The main BBC News page seems to have given up on reporting the FTSE 100 stock index: for several days the BBC  reports have contained errors blamed on a  technical error. The BBC Business page seemsto be valiantly plodding on.

Now only 3 of the 4 stroke symptoms?

In the last couple of days I seem less tired.  This does vary though: 3 steps forward and 2 back etc.

Although my swallow of some (thin) liquids is not good and I still feel giddy when walking - although I do not fall - my level of fatigue seems (generally) lower. This is a good sign.

My speech is still hard to understand and I get very frustrated by this. To me, it sounds fine, but clearly others do not understand me. My wife says I need to sound first and last syllables more clearly and that I am very quiet.

My recovery is taking far longer than I expected.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

My brain

I am still puzzled by my brain. Most mental functions seem fine, but when I do an email or blog post I seem slow to spot errors like spelling mistakes or missing full stops. Usually I try to correct errors before sending, but looking back I still spot mistakes that I've missed.

If you see errors please let me know. I want to correct the errors and know when my brain is not doing its job right.

Driving again

After a ban on car driving of around 14 months because of my brain bleed,  I am now allowed to drive again.

In the car I do not get giddy and feel safe, although I drive slower than before, at least for now. In the last year,things seem to have got faster, although I am sure this is me!  My wife thinks I should be wearing a hat!

Up to now, I have driven fairly locally and my wife is usually in the car with me. The exception for the last few weeks has been a solo drive to the Newmarket Road, Cambridge,  Park and Ride site, where I catch the bus into the city for my U3AC course on Human Evolution, a course I am really enjoying. For several years I was too busy for U3AC, but this year is different.

Although I am usually suffering from at least 2 of the following, it is good to be doing "normal" things again and mixing with healthy people.  My remaining issues are (1) giddiness when walking. (2) poor liquid swallow, (3) tiredness following physical work of ANY kind.  Today, I don't feel tired whereas for several days previously I had been totally exhausted.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Al Jazeera - news from the Middle East

Occasionally, it is good to get news from totally different sources. One example is to see how Middle Eastern broadcaster Al Jazeera has covered Ebola in recent weeks.

See .

Sometimes Al Jazeera has news that we never hear about on the BBC.  For example I had no idea that Tripoli airport in Libya was recently attacked by unidentified jets. If the BBC covered this then I must have missed it.

Nations spying

See .

It looks like some nation state is intent on stealing our data.   Regin is a newly discovered computer spyware program recently discovered by Symantic.

My voice

My poor speaking voice really frustrates me. On the phone I say, to me it is clearly, that my wife is out and "please ring after 2". Then the caller says, "when shall I call?". Darn it, I just told you, but you clearly did not hear me!

The problem is at my end - either I speak too fast or not clearly enough to be understood.  It really does cause so much confusion and frustration. Stroke! I have to learn to speak much slower and much more clearly.

Saving government money

Although I welcome my free bus pass and winter fuel allowance, I am sure money can be saved by targeting these at people in real need, and not just shelling these out to all over 60?

Surely they can address the winter fuel allowance another way, for example by increasing the tax free income allowance? Much lower cost and it targets those in most need.  Most would pay tax on this allowance whereas those on really low incomes would not pay tax.

Likewise free bus passes. Maybe a nominal sum for all trips (20p?) or only make the bus passes free for OAPs receiving an old age pension? Males over 60 but not yet getting an OAP would have to pay a bit longer.

On both these the government should be able to save millions. The free bus pass and winter fuel allowances are "good things",  but surely in this age of austerity they both need to be better targeted at those who really need them?

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Immigration - the OTHER side of the story.

See .

A lot of UK citizens chose to live or retire in other EU countries. When we talk of restricting immigration into the UK we must remember that many also want to live elsewhere in Europe.

I think the real issue is we remain a very small, overcrowded, island.

Strictly Come Dancing

When a teenager I enjoyed ballroom dancing with my girlfriend Ann. It is very many years since I have danced. I really want to keep those memories as they were.  We made a good dancing couple.

These days, I watch "Strictly" on TV, but pretend not to! I hope Frankie wins as I vote for her most weeks on-line for free. Lis votes by phone.  Frankie looks a bit like my dear wife Lis when we first met. Frankie is a good dancer, of course.

"Strictly" is a "feel good" programme, ideal to cheer you up. I never take it too seriously. It is the nearest I come to reality TV.  I absolutely abhor "Big Brother". Every time I have (accidentally) watched small parts people are either sleeping or arguing. I just do not see what fun it is to watch.

Hamilton wins F1 championship
I do not follow F1 racing, but I see Lewis Hamilton has won the championship for a second time. I have no ideas what his future plans are. This remains a dangerous sport. I admire his bravery.

See .

UK immigration

See .

The Home Secretary has said on TV that UK immigration target are unlikely to be met.

The Conservatives published some very ambitious targets, that frankly, were a joke unless the immigration pattern was drastically changed. This remains a very contentious issue central to the next General Election. Making such STUPID claims about immigration targets serves no good at all.

We are a small, overcrowded, island and HAVE to be able to manage our immigration numbers. Currently we are a magnet for people and we need to understand just why this is so. I hope we can find a way of controlling immigration and stay in the EU, but if we don't we may have no choice but to leave.  If we go, others will follow us.

Incidentally, free movement within the EU means about 800000 UK people now live in Spain. It is not just people coming into the UK,although our small size makes net immigration an acute issue. Some skills we definitely need and this is likely to continue to be the case. We just need better controls, whether by looking at points, welfare or whatever.

I am no UKIP supporter, but I do understand the issues.

Grandchildren have gone home

Our "Kent" grandchildren and their parents have now returned home. They come to stay again before Christmas.

Although the house is now quiet, I am still very tired, as a result of my stroke. People tell me this will get better. I do hope so as I still get profoundly exhausted with any physical effort, quite unlike how I used to be.   I want to be able to do all I did with my grandchildren before,  but I get so exhausted.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Profound tiredness (stroke)

These last 2 days I have felt more tired than at any time I can remember. I think this related to my stroke, but I have been PROFOUNDLY exhausted.  I have no understanding just why I have felt so very tired.  I hope it will pass soon. I thought my tiredness was lifting, but like so much about my stroke, it keeps surprising me.

Friday, 21 November 2014

FTSE 100 and Sepura shares

With about 15 minutes until UK markets close, it looks as if the FTSE 100 index and Sepura (SEPU) shares will end the day in positive territory.  This year, both the FTSE 100 index and Sepura have lost some ground, but in recent weeks these losses are being clawed back.

 UPDATE 1900z:   Both the FTSE 100 and Sepura (SEPU) shares ended the day in positive territory.

UKIP recent successes

In the last few months, UKIP has gained its first 2 MPs taking votes from the Conservative, Labour and the Lib Dems. As I said before, in the General Election next spring it could all be very different At the moment  UKIP is picking up protest votes and this is unlikely to be the case in a General Election when people are electing the party to govern us for the next 5 years. Both the major parties will have been rattled by the results of the by-election results from Rochester and Strood. The Lib Dems did very badly indeed with the Greens polling higher than them.

See .

I still do not know who to vote for in the next General Election, but it will not be UKIP.   To me, this party is maybe OK as a protest, but it would be a disaster if they helped form the next government. They seem to stand for just one thing: get the UK out of the EC.  Personally, I believe our relationship with our European friends will change somewhat, but I hope we remain close partners with our friends in mainland Europe.

Stroke update

I had my cerebellum brain bleed (stroke) in Sept 2013 and in all honesty I was expecting to be fully fit again by now. I think my wife and I had no idea how serious this was and just how long recovery was going to take. Nearly 15 months on it is a mixed picture.

All my limbs, my eyes and ears and my cognitive functions seem to work OK. But I still have poor liquid swallow, poor speech, giddiness when walking and I tire on the least physical exertion such as washing dishes or gardening. My stamina is better than it was, but it is still far from right.  I am still clumsy.

I am told a full recovery is probable, but this will take time. This last year as been very hard. I sincerely hope 2015 will be a better year for us.  In summary, I have felt old suddenly. Until last year I felt as if I would last forever. Now I feel far more vulnerable.

God willing, I'll see quite a few more seasons yet. My greatest wish is to see my grandchildren grow. At the moment they are all very little.

Thursday, 20 November 2014


In WW2 my dad was a flight engineer in 582 squadron, flying Lancasters.  In his lifetime he rarely wanted to talk about those days.

Last night I went to a talk on the Pathfinders. My dad was incredibly brave and one of my greatest regrets was not telling him so.  He was lucky to survive the war. I can only imagine the sheer terror of getting into those cold, cramped planes in the dead of night knowing that he risked being killed over enemy territory on every raid.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

By Election this Thursday.

Tomorrow is the Rochester and Strood by-election. Although UKIP is expected to win, I think this would be a protest vote which could be reversed at the next General Election.   UKIP is a strange party: I can see why, between General Elections, it picks up protest votes. Voting in the party that will actually govern the nation is an altogether more serious matter.

See .

Sepura and FTSE 100 shares

Sepura (SEPU) shares rose again today ending up at 138p today. The FTSE 100 fell very slightly, but it would not surprise me if it returns to positive gains tomorrow.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Dawlish Railway Station

See .

I cannot help but think this delightful line along the coast is going to have to go. It has been there for over 150 years and was once on Brunel's 7 foot gauge. At one time there was an inland route from Newton Abbot to Exeter but this was lifted about 50 years ago and now part of the A38 uses the route. The only other alternative would be to re-lay the Tavistock to Plymouth line. This would be expensive and would leave the Dawlish area with questionable rail services. I don't have the answers,  but think the time is drawing close when some serious decisions have to be made. One positive, it would create jobs whilst the line was being created.

FTSE 100 and Sepura

Markets puzzle me: on a day when inflation has risen slightly, the Middle East is likely to erupt in yet more violence, the world outlook is "challenging", the FTSE 100 index looks like ending 30-40 points higher!

Likewise, Sepura has today gained a few percent on recent days.

All odd.

UPDATE 1720z:  Brent Crude Oil (spot and futures) is now around $78 a barrel - very low.  The FTSE 100 ended the day 37 points higher.

Middle East

I fail to understand Hamas.

The latest attack on a Jewish synagogue is an open invitation for yet more revenge attacks in Gaza in which yet more innocents will be killed.

To my mind, such attacks serve no purpose and help to RUIN the cause of the Palestinians. Why do it?

Monday, 17 November 2014

Oscar Pistorius - appeal

The prosecutor in this case is appealing that the prison sentence is too lenient. Not being at the trial, it is hard to know if this is so. He is likely to be out under house arrest after about just 10months and that does sound not much for shooting dead someone. My inclination is to let South African justice take its course.

Weight loss

Since my brain bleed in Sept 2013 I have not been allowed to drink alcohol at all.  My weight has dropped from 12st 4lb to just over 11st, my ideal weight for my age and height. I am now allowed to drink alcohol again, but have yet to do so. When I do drink again, it will probably be just a very small glass of wine only.

Sunday, 16 November 2014


See  .

The latest G20 meeting seems to have "oiled wheels" on this trade deal between the USA and Europe. David Cameron is in a difficult place as the USA wants to deal with Europe and not with Europe less the UK and the UK.

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, comes out of the G20 on climate change policies. Australia is the worst emitter of greenhouse gases and did not really want to talk about it.

Ebola latest

See .

The press seems to have generally taken less interest in Ebola in the last week. This may just be because they have focussed on other more news worthy stories, or perhaps the number of new cases really is dropping off? The latter seems hopeful, but with treatments starting to appear we can hope. If Ebola spreads across the planet it could be hard to control.

Guess who caught a cold?

Last week my wife caught a common cold. Yesterday, I got it. Usually, common colds cause sniffles, sore throats and general feelings of misery. They tend to go, in their own good time, after a few days. My worst effect is my throat which makes drinking even harder.  You may recall my stroke last year still makes drinks hard work. Food usually is not an issue these days.

See .

UPDATE 18.11.14:  cold has nearly gone now.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Sutton Hoo trip

Today, I made my longest trip yet since being allowed to drive again after my stroke. We went to Sutton Hoo a National Trust location which is the far side of Woodbridge, Suffolk where a famous ship burial was discovered in WW2.  This was a round trip of around 122 miles, mostly on the A14.  Driving was fine:  I get tired when walking, but in the car I am fine. Whilst there I managed some soup and bread.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Oscar Pistorius

There seems to be a lot of comments in the press saying that Oscar Pistorius may NOT be released to house arrest after 10 months because they cannot tag to his prosthetic legs. I am sure this is a solvable issue. What bothers me is the number of people who seem to want to be judge and jury and think he should stay in gaol for a very very long time. Not being part of the trial I think we should NOT judge.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Convicted rapist - training with Sheffield United?

If I was Sheffield United I would NOT allow a convicted rapist, now out from jail on licence, to train with the squad. In effect he has served only half his sentence so far and is only out of prison to serve the remainder of his sentence. Any misbehavior and he is back inside. He committed a very serious offence and so should be made to pay for this. He should not have committed rape. Come back later, maybe?

See .

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Dawlish railway line

It appears that huge cracks have appeared in the walls built to protect the railway line in Dawlish, Devon and big gales are forecast. I can see that a new inland route will HAVE to be built before long. The current route is one of the nicest train runs in the country but it will not withstand storms and rising sea levels for too much longer.

See .

Mildenhall Museum

Mildehall is about 11 miles from here and today we drove over to see the Museum there. It is quite a bit smaller than Burwell Museum but it opens more often and entry is free. In my view, Burwell is the better of the two, but Mildenhall Museum is worth seeing.

There are lots of artifacts on show including the bones of the Lakenheath Warrior and very good quality reproductions of the Mildenhall Treasure; the originals are in the British Museum in London.
Mildenhall Treasure (very good copies)

Landing on a comet

See .

The Rosetta project culminating in the landing of a probe on a small comet, is still in doubt as I write as the harpoons designed to secure it to the surface appear not to have fired. The landing probe may actually have landed twice, possibly bouncing off the surface before settling a second time but only just resting on the very low gravity surface. It may be several days before things become clearer.

UPDATE 18.11.14:  We have found out that an old friend was Project Manager on Rosetta at Astrium.  Although now retired, he was invited back in to follow the landing. and was on TV.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Van Gall exit?

See .

Somehow I cannot see Mr Van Gaal lasting too much longer as manager of Manchester United Football Club.   He has not had a great season so far. The question is who will replace him?

FTSE100 climbing again

After a bad patch, the FTSE100 stock index seems to be climbing again. It has been higher earlier in the year and could again fall back but at least it is heading in the right direction.
See .

Meanwhile, Sepura (SEPU) shares have fallen back a little further. I used to work for Sepura.
See .

Baking and a well

When our "London" grandchildren came to stay over the half-term week, our little granddaughter Amandine did some baking with my wife. Here she is busy in the kitchen.  She had a lovely time.
The second picture shows her with her brother examining the miller's well next to the Burwell Museum. What is it about well's that so fascinate children? All our grandchildren enjoy throwing coins into it. It is about 10m deep.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Our grandson is 7 tomorrow

It seems a blink of an eye since he was born, but our eldest grandson is 7 years old tomorrow!   I can remember the day he was born so well. We had a lovely day with him and his sister and cousins in London today.

The birthday cake
Lucien today. 7 tomorrow.

Fall of the Berlin Wall

See ./news/world-europe-29974950 .

It seems amazing that it is now a quarter of a century since the Berlin Wall was removed.  I well remember it going up in 1961 when east-west tensions were high.  My dad died a few years before the wall came down and communism collapsed.  Had he lived,  he would have been amazed. The old certainties went in 1989.

In some ways the world is a now more dangerous and uncertain place. We have to help forge a kinder and fairer world in the 21st century. The future is ours to forge. It won't be easy,  but it never was. In many ways we are better able to forge that brave new world now than ever before. It is up to us.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

A new cold war?

Mikhail Gorbachev has warned that the world is on the brink of a new cold war with Russia. He now looks much older - not at all the fairly youthful leader we all came to like (LHS). Somehow I feel he is correct as the current leader of Russia seems to have got the date wrong.  Someone needs to explain to him that the USSR went a long time ago.

See .

That £1.7billion EC surcharge

I am unclear whether or not Chancellor George Osborne really got a reduction from the EC or not.  Mr Cameron's opposition parties are claiming it is all "smoke and mirrors" and the UK tax payer will have to pay the very same amount. To me, it does smack of political games.  Sad and pathetic.

See .

Wicken Fen walk

Wicken Fen lode - bleak in November!
This afternoon, we went for a walk, at a rather bleak, Wicken Fen. As it was starting to rain, we decided to walk a little way along the (non-NT) path to the left of the lode. We did not enter the main part of Wicken Fen, e.g. along the board walk. Wicken is the bleakest of the National Trust properties near our home. It is ideal in this sort of cold and windy, November weather.  Wicken Fen is rich in wildlife, but many times one has to look hard to see things. Just around the corner to the LHS beyond the image is a large hornets nest. We heard some talk of seeing snow buntings. I have seen these on the north Norfolk coast. Years ago I saw a bittern coming in to land at dusk.  A bittern is a sort of heron.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Poisonous garden plant

See .

The attractive flower called "Devil's Helmet" (aconitum) has been linked to the death of a gardener. Apparently, you have to be very unlucky unless you eat the roots but it is probably safer to avoid it. It is part of the buttercup family.


Today, we continued to tidy up the garden before winter sets in. It now has an autumnal look with leaves falling and summer plants pulled up. The last sweet peas were taken up Nov 4th.  These, along with the cosmos, were a great success and we'll try these again next summer.

Yesterday we planted an evergreen holly.  This should look good all year around.

FTSE100 and Sepura shares

The FTSE100 seems to be regaining some of the ground it lost in recent weeks. It has still some way to go to make up all the losses but it has been better in recent days.

Sepura shares (SEPU) though seem to be slowly falling, with them valued at 134p the last time I looked. SEPU was up to 150p earlier in the year. It is over 6.5 years since I retired from Sepura - I find this amazing and I am totally out of touch nowadays.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Should Ed Miliband (Labour leader) step down?

As a real "floating voter" I honestly have no idea which party I shall be voting for in the General Election next year.  I have some sympathy with some of the policies of each party. We need to cut our deficit (we are living beyond our means), we need some control over our population explosion (mainly as a result of net immigration), the EC is still a mess etc.. I have no idea whether or not we should quit the EC. There are good points and bad about it. It is not what we joined years ago and I feel it lacks something.

At the moment, I am not happy with the leader of the Labour Party. Ed Miliband, who was elected Labour leader some years ago.  He seems poor: his speeches and actions seem weak and ineffective. There is some pressure for him to be replaced, but by whom? I scratch my head trying to think of a better Labour leader to replace him. The choice is poor. We lack real charismatic leaders in waiting. All seem to be "also rans".

No single party fits "my bill". In a way another coalition government would be good.  UK General Elections are "first past the post" unlike the recent European Elections in which I voted Green, but voting for the Greens in a General Election is likely to be wasted, in this constituency certainly.  I need to vote for a party that has a realistic chance of being "first past the post". That means voting Conservative, Liberal Democrat or Labour. Although I quite like David Cameron, I feel the Conservatives are more in favour of the rich, whereas Labour is more concerned with "the common man". Lib Dems, we are told, will lose lots of seats. I cannot abide UKIP, who seem a "one issue" joke party.

See .

Anglesey Abbey - Nov 6th 2014

This morning we went for an autumn walk at Anglesey Abbey, our local National Trust property. In the weeks, it is quiet and at this time of year a lovely place for a walk. Even at weekends, there are plenty of places to roam to get away from others.

Actually, it is beautiful at any time of year: there is always sometime to see in the gardens, and the house is also lovely. See .
Anglesey Abbey - Nov 6th 2014

Windmill at dawn

We are very lucky to live overlooking a restored 200 year old windmill. The sails turn some Thursdays and Sundays.

This was the view from our kitchen window early today, before breakfast time with the autumn sun shining on the mill from the east.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Safer cycling

I know of 2 decent local cyclists who were killed by cars. In my view headphone use should be totally BANNED when cycling, it should be compulsory to wear bright, reflective clothing and a cycling hat should be a legal requirement. Also if cycling lanes are provided their use should be compulsory. Cycles and cars are NOT good together.

It is true that most accidents are a result of motorised vehicle driver error, but cyclists often make it harder for motorists because the cyclist is hard to see. Cyclists give yourself a decent chance!

Senate now under Republican control in the USA

See . After mid-term elections in the USA the Republicans now control the US Senate. This must weaken the powers of President Obama, who is , of course, a Democrat.

I keep out of US politics but the so called Tea Party faction does seem to be a group of head-cases.

Last sweet peas

Yesterday (Nov 4th) we cut our last bunch of sweet peas from the garden. They have been flowering since June. We have put a fresh vase of sweet peas on the kitchen table every few days since June. This is a picture of Lis with this last bunch.  We'll grow more next year.

Also, our cosmos flowers have been good.  We took them out a week ago to make way for daffodil bulbs. Every day Lis dead-headed these at a rate of about 100 dead heads a day!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Rolls Royce cutting 2600 jobs

Sad news that Rolls Royce is to cut 2600 jobs next year. It is not yet fully clear where the jobs will go but most probably the aerospace division.

In WW2 my dad was a flight engineer in the Pathfinders, flying Lancasters with Rolls Royce Merlin engines. He was very lucky to survive the war. Many brave men did not survive the war on both sides. Wars are always a tragic waste of lives. WW2 was no exception. Fighting the evil of the Nazis was arguably "right" but many innocent people on both sides lost lives as a result. Was there a better way?  My dad rarely spoke of his war years. I think it troubled him that innocents died as a result of his actions.

See for more on Rolls Royce job losses.

FTSE 100 volatility

The UK stock exchange has been very volatile in recent weeks. After a few days of improvement, today it fell a bit further. This matters for those who have pension funds tied up in the fortunes of such companies. I think the other UK stock markets have been up and down recently (more down than up). If the UK decides to leave the EU in a few years' time, I wonder what will then happen?

Lewis Hamilton

It looks like Lewis Hamilton plans to do charitable woek when he retires from Formula 1 racing in the very near future.

See .

Stomach PEG removed - no pain during operation

I was in Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge, this morning, to have my stomach feed tube (PEG) removed. As I was sedated it was totally painless. My worry beforehand was totally unnecessary.  I think I fell asleep as, apart for the initial things on the op trolley (being sedated by cannula into the back of my hand and insertion of my mouth guard) I was unaware of everything until I was recovering afterwards. Another stroke milestone for me. Still get giddy when walking, tired and speaking is hard work. Unthickened drinks are not easy. But I can eat most foods, all by mouth and, gradually, things are getting better.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Stomach PEG removal tomorrow.

All being well my stomach PEG (feeding tube) should be removed tomorrow. It has been in place almost a year since the day I was told I might NEVER be able to eat foods by mouth ever again. That was a day of many tears but thankfully I have eaten all food by mouth since June.

Chicago tightrope walker - he must be mad!


All I can say is "rather him than me"! See the daring feat of this person in Chicago, USA.

Sepura shares

These lost some ground last month, but they seem to be recovering a bit.  The last time I looked they had risen to 137p a share.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Fossil fuels must be phased out

See .

Fossil fuels must be stopped by 2100 or we face the prospect of irreversible climate change according to the IPCC. We need global agreements FAST.

Will we leave the EU?

See .

So Germany would rather see us leave the European Community than modify immigration rules. It now looks quite possible that, following a David Cameron referendum in 2017 (assuming he forms the next government) we could exit the EC/EU. We have always been "on the edge" in more than just the physical sense (as an island). I have no idea how this would impact the UK. We may end up better or worse as a result. For good reasons, the UK has never quite got on board "the European experiment". On this issue, I really have no idea how such a referendum would go.

Recent history might suggest we might be OK, but really no-one knows.

From the BBC website:

This is the first time that Mrs Merkel has acknowledged that the UK's exit from the EU is possible, Der Spiegel said.

According to the Sunday Times, Germany has already rejected a proposal to impose quotas on low-skilled EU migrants by limiting the national insurance numbers issued to them.

Der Spiegel reported that Mr Cameron was now looking at a plan to stretch the EU rules "to their limits" in order to ban migrants who do not have job, and to deport those who are unable to support themselves after three months.

On Sunday, Conservative MP and former justice secretary Kenneth Clarke defended EU migration.
"If you're going to have a sensible single market, if we want to compete with the Americans and the Chinese and so on and modern world, we need the free movement of labour," he told BBC's Sunday Politics.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: "The prime minister will do what is right for Britain, as he has repeatedly made clear."

Saturday, 1 November 2014

The "new" Tides Reach Hotel, Salcombe, S.Devon

South Sands is about 2 miles out of Salcombe, S.Devon. There is currently a proposal to redevelop the Tides Reach Hotel located there at a cost of £13.5 million. If successful, the locals are hoping more jobs will be created for locals, but most hotel work attracts immigrant workers on minimum wages, shipped in from outside the area. It is very unlikely to provide many jobs for real locals.

To my mind, it looks a typical Spanish hotel like those found on the costas - grossly out of keeping with the surroundings. Salcombe is in danger of being developed in such a way that its unique identity will be forever lost.

If you want to see the proposals and comment see: 

I can see the hotel being converted to luxury apartments at a later date.