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Thursday, 31 July 2014

Israel, you are acting like you WANT the world to hate you?

Why is "the West" so strongly pro-Israel? Especially the USA? It must be the strong US Jewish lobby. Madness. It is surely time for real peace and the USA (and UK?) to stop backing Israel. Give the Palestinians a fair chance.


Wonderful weather forecasting

According to the Met Office and BBC Weather apps, we are supposed to be experiencing a nice sunny evening here in Burwell.  It is actually dark cloud and it has started to rain. Can the forecasters never get it right, despite their super-computers? I actually get very annoyed by the inability to correctly forecast the weather now, let alone a few days in advance. It seems the only time they get it right is when there is a big high pressure system overhead. In that weather one has only to look out of the window!

UPDATE 20.20pm local time: the sun is shining, the flowers smell beautiful, it is a lively end to the day.

PS  Get Israel to make peace, not war.

Stroke - videofluoroscopy

This afternoon, I am going in to Addenbrooke's hospital as an outpatient, yet again, this time for a videofluoroscopy of my swallow. Although I can eat foods pretty well, I still have problems with some drinks. They video you drinking liquids to see why swallow is not easy.

UPDATE 1430z:  All went well. No choking on drinks and more advice on how to drink unthickened drinks. Advised to drink more by mouth so stomach PEG can be removed. A good day.

PS  Get Israel to talk peace, not war.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The best place on Earth

Thurlestone Rock and Bolt Tail (in distance)
Although somewhat biased, I believe this picture posted on the South Hams History Forum by Mike Wannacott tonight shows the best place on Earth.  I have seen many places but none match the South Hams.

Lapthorns (my family name) have lived near here for at least 500 years. A Lapthorn shared "1 fee of land" at South Huish (just off the left of this picture) way back in 1428.  We have lived in these parts for a very long time.  The coastline was probably quite different when Lapthorns first farmed or fished hereabouts.

I suspect my ancestors farmed on Dartmoor more than 4000 years ago before the soils were exhausted and when the climate was milder, living in Stone Age huts.

Parking on pavements

As a disabled person (with a blue parking badge for now) I get very annoyed with people who block pavements by parking half on them in rural villages where there is no need. 

How not to park!
Since at least 9am (probably much earlier) this morning a grey Vauxhall Corsa has parked in such a way that neither a push chair nor a wheelchair would be able to pass on Mill Lane, Burwell. Even just walking past is hard. It leaves the pavement about 12 inches wide only which is nothing. Do people not realise the nuisance they cause? I tried to ring the police on 101 and report it. The auto machine said expect a 10 minute wait. After 5 the line was just cut off! AJ07ZDK. Ringing the police will probably do no good.

If I was in a wheelchair this would be a major issue. I am sure their motives were good,but frankly the car is a damn nuisance.


The actions of Israel overnight attacking a school designated a UN safe area in Gaza, is nothing short of a war crime.  15 innocents killed and dozens injured - disgraceful in any language. There is absolutely no excuse for this slaughter. Even if rockets were fired from the local area it is no excuse to kill already traumatised children. Slaughter of the innocents.

See .
See .

For years, the state of  Israel has treated the Palestinian people like scum. They deserve to be treated as full humans and accorded the full rights all humans deserve. No more settlements on Palestinian land. After the horrors to the Jews in WW2 you would think Israel would want to help build a kinder world. Not a bit of it! They seem to want to spread hate.  I know Hamas must stop firing rockets at Israel and I know there are good Jewish people, but the war on Gaza is fostering hate and yet more resentment.

What is needed are real substantive talks leading to a comprehensive and fair peace for all in the region. Now is the time for jaw, jaw not war, war. Will Israel never learn? If you treat the Palestinian people as less than human what do you expect?

At the moment, Israel, supported by the USA and the UK amongst others, is not even seriously trying to get a lasting peace. Any eye for an eye seems to be all Israel understands.  Now is the time for real love and kindness to be shared and long-term peace to be given a real chance.   People of  Israel - wake up!   USA and UK: support the Palestinians at the same level as Israel.   Give peace a real chance!

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Sanctions against Russia?

See  .

I see the EU and the USA have increased sanctions against Russia. Russia claims these will hurt the west too. They may be right, but Russia has been too lax over events in Eastern Ukraine with its support for the separatists.By now, a thorough investigation into the MH17 jet should have been held, but still the Russians are prevaricating.  By doing so, they are as much as admitting their complicity.

Russia, I am sorry, but the whole world expects better of you than back in the dark days of the USSR and the Cold War. Play by the rules the whole world expects or expect the economic consequences.

This not East versus West.   At present it is Russia versus the whole world.

I agree with greater sanctions if it helps Russia to see how to regain its rightful place at the world's top table as a truly democratic nation. Currently Russia is doing itself no favours at all and thinks it still lives in a pre-1989 world. This is 2014 - times have moved on.

Salcombe (free) webcams

There are two (may be more?) free webcams in Salcombe that I enjoy looking at from time to time. On one occasion my brother phoned me whilst standing by the webcam! One is outside "Captain Morgans" cafe by Whitestrand carpark. The other is the view from South Sands. The link is to the one in town.

See .

Sepura shares

Shares in Sepura - the company that I retired from more than 6 years ago now - are still high at over 148p each.  In recent months the shares exceeded 152p briefly, whereas a few years they were less than 30p each. They now trade for more than the price when first listed twelve years ago.

I was quite involved in setting up the new company as it was my teams' project that made the new company viable out of the ashes of Simoco - a TETRA portable called the SRP2000. Derivatives of that same product are still being made and sold even today.

See .

MRI scan today

As part of the ongoing treatment following my brain bleed operation last year, today I was back to hospital for an MRI brain scan. I get the feedback next Tuesday all being well.  I am told the results will be available by then. I hope that no further brain surgery will be needed.

The MRI should tell the neurosurgeons what is going on inside my skull. I believe I still have some vein malformation at the back of my head (this was in earlier letters) but hope the risks of just leaving things alone are low. I have generally been making steady progress, although drinks are still problematic and I still feel giddy when walking. Even these are improving.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Children and wars

Why do the innocents suffer in wars?  Just watched Lyce Ducet's very powerful drama on BBC TV about the young children caught up in the Syrian civil war. Tragic, not only because of the bad situation now, but also because they are becoming radicalised at such young ages - the sides almost don't matter - so the hatred will go on and on. The same story holds in Gaza, Afghanistan and other war zones around the world. It is a powerful lesson on how quickly things can fall apart.

See .

Sunday, 27 July 2014

World conflicts

In our ever more connected world, we hear about the troubles around the world very fast.

It seems to me, there are more trouble spots at the moment  than when I was younger, with trouble in the Ukraine, Gaza, Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan as well as in West and Central Africa to name just a few.

Usually, trouble flares up where there are underlying tensions as a result of unfairness to parts of the communities.  Some of these conflicts require long term changes of attitudes and sadly, these will take generations. Happen they must. In the end, the world has to grow fairer or we all suffer.

Ukraine and MH17 crash site

Time is marching on and still no proper investigations have been carried out. The separatists and Russia are looking ever more guilty by being ever more obstructive. If  they were guiltless they would have sealed the area and let in international observers right away. All the evidence now suggests they are trying to cover tracks.

Gaza and Israel

Sorry to go on and on about this conflict, but it sickens me. Israel is the real aggressor here, not Hamas. Yes Hamas has been firing missiles at ever greater range into Israel, but Israel has treated the people of Palestine like the scum of the earth for as long as I can recall. The people of Gaza and the West Bank deserve much better.

It is in the best interests of both Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate real peace that is fair to all sides. Israel should stop building settlements in Palestinian territory and stop its divisive war on Gaza. 

Is it any wonder the Jews are still hated? I hear anti-Semitic sentiment is on the increase. It does not surprise me.

Israel, the solution is in your hands. Elect a government that is serious about peace.  Treat your neighbours respectfully, as you yourself would wish to be treated. Did WW2 not teach the Jewish people anything?  WW2 was a great tragedy for the Jews of Europe, but why does Israel continue this hate?

What is missing is trust and guts. Now is the time for real peace.Get around the conference table and negotiate a just peace deal to end wars in the region for ever.

Small steps

The "My tracks" GPS app on my Samsung S4 mini phone is remarkably accurate. Today we walked to Budgens and back, and this is the track of the walk. Small steps - 1.27km in total.  A year ago,  this would have been a trivial little stroll. I have been further, but am grateful I can manage this.  

Walking as such does  not exhaust me: it is that I feel giddy that really tires me out.

I do want to be fully fit again soon.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Churches and little ones

What is it that fascinates very little children with old English churches? Yesterday we went to Snailwell church about 4 miles from Burwell.
In Snailwell Church yesterday

Both the "London" grandchildren love it. Neither go to churches normally. The little one  kept saying, "shhh" to us. I have no idea why! They have no religious association with churches, but they both love being inside them.

Snailwell is a very lovely little church with a round flint tower, more like a Norfolk church really. It dates back to the 11th century - very old. There are only about 10-11 regular attendees and they are finding it hard to meet the costs of repairs now.

Local taxes on large supermarkets

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All I can say is GOOD.

If this move helps councils to raise money locally all well and good. Some have called it the "Tesco" tax. Food prices might go up a bit, but more likely the profits of the big supermarkets will get trimmed. It must help smaller, local  traders.

What a sensible move, and not before time in England.  It already happens in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Giddiness and feeling so tired

Every morning I awake and ask myself if I'll feel a bit better today. My brain bleed was last September but I still feel giddy when walking. Some days it may be a little better, but not much. It seems worse when I am tired. Tired: the least physical activity just does me in. Totally. I am so profoundly tired most of the time. A mere shadow of my lively self I used to be.  People say I will recover. I hope so as my present condition is sending me crazy: I hate being as I am - an invalid unable to do any real work that needs any effort. We have a loft and I've felt too weak to even climb into it. Ladder work generally is out of the question, at least for now. Anything needing fine motor skills just about kills me.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Dangerous solar flares?

See   According to the New York Times NASA now reports we very narrowly missed a CME event in summer 2012 that could have set the Earth back centuries. There may be a touch of sensational journalism, but the dangers are real.   Apparently the odds are still quite high that if could happen again (12%).

We are moving past the peak of the solar cycle to less active solar times, so we may be lucky. Such an event last happened in the mid 1800s before wireless, PCs, GPS and satellites. Let's hope we are now more prepared for such an eventuality. Scary stuff.

Cultural vandalism

I care not what the religion is, but I detest when one religious group or another believes they know better than history and destroy artifacts that have been religious icons for centuries. A few centuries back it was King Henry 8 vandalising English churches believing statues there were idolatrous. Not long ago it was Buddha statues in Afghanistan. Now we read ISIS has destroyed the tomb of Jonah. Once gone, these artifacts are gone for ever. We have no right to decide we know better than history whatever the case.

See .

Home quiet again

Our "London" grandchildren were collected by their mum and dad this afternoon, so everything here is quiet again. Their untidiness is "clean mess" which my wife soon vacuumed up.

 The house is now quiet for about a week until the other grandchildren and their parents come for a few days. The "London" grandchildren return here after their stay in Brittany which will be at the end of August.
Breakfast time - Food Doctor is a favourite!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Commonwealth Games - Glasgow 2014
Don't quite know why, but I cannot get excited by the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Although  not a keen sportsman (even when in normal health and fully fit) I found the Olympic Games quite inspirational and uplifting. I am not quite sure why the same "magnetism" is missing from the Commonwealth Games. Maybe this will change over time?

Weather still promising

We have been blessed with good weather this week whilst our grandchildren have been staying here and we hope this continues until they go home tomorrow afternoon.  One of their pleasures has been playing with the hose spray in the garden.

Although there is thunder/lightning in France, it looks clear here.  See  . The forecast for the morning is for some rain though, but a higher chance after lunch. We amy just be lucky.

Anglesey Abbey picnic

As the weather was so glorious today, we took our two "London" grandchildren to Angelsey Abbey today for a picnic and races.

The image here is just after the picnic of of our eldest grandson (6.75yrs old) racing across the lawns and our little one finishing her picnic.

The final picture was taken before the picnic.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Bury-St-Edmunds this morning

This morning, we went to Bury-St-Edmunds with the "London" grandchildren. It was so nice to do normal things  such as buy some toy cars in Toymaster,  have a drink and cake in Baileys and visit the toy train shop Model Junction.  Our grandchildren mean the world to us. It is so lovely to see them so happy. On the way home Amandine fell fast asleep in the car.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014


For the next few days our "London" grandchildren are staying with us. Like all our grandchildren, they are delightful.  At the moment with my (still) poor health, I find having the little ones here very tiring. This is a picture of the two grandchildren with me after a short walk. We are all sitting on the front garden wall.

Missing "the promised land"

My dad, who died in 1987, used to call Salcombe in the South Hams of Devon "the promised land".  Whenever we returned from being away he would say "the promised land" out loud in the car. Maybe to him it represented real home, security and a freedom, away from the horrors of WW2 in those dark years before 1945.

Because of my illness, I have been unable to get to the South Hams this year, so far.   I really miss it.  It is, without doubt, the best place on Earth. Some of the unspoilt coastal walks are just spectacularly beautiful. I hope to get back there before too long.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Front lawn cut

This afternoon I managed to cut the front lawn. It took me 35 minutes, without breaks, which is the fastest yet. Last time it was 45 minutes.  At the end I was well and truly "cream crackered" but again I managed it. Weather permitting our son will cut the rear lawn tomorrow.

Burwell Windmill

Although this has recently been refurbished and now sports four fine sails, there is still an issue with the cap rotation. This is currently being fixed.

Today there has been a man on a hoist undercoating the cap - rather him than me! This photo was taken from our front garden. The man is visible more clearly if you click to enlarge the photo.  He is painting the cap. Imagine doing this on the end of a rope, this far off the ground, and managing not to spill a drop of paint!

See  .

Newmarket and Bury-St-Edmunds shopping

This morning, my wife and I went into our local market town of Newmarket. We usually shop in the local Waitrose but today also had to call in to the local Halifax branch there as well.

Newmarket is an excellent place for local shopping as it is just 10 minutes away by car. Parking is free at Waitrose for a couple of hours. For clothes, we usually go to Cambridge or Bury-St-Edmunds.

For the next few days we have our "London" grandchildren staying so a visit to Bury-St-Edmunds is likely. Prevsner loved Bury-St-Edmunds describing it as "one of the loveliest little towns in Britain". Indeed it is. A real gem of a place. We love trips there. Our younger son got married there too.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

McIlroy wins the Open today

I see McIlroy has won the Open golf today.

Although I usually follow the golf when on terrestrial TV,  I managed to miss most of the British Open this week. I see McIlroy won by a couple of shots, although he had a 6 stroke lead at one point. He held his nerve in the end. In previous attempts his nerve has failed him.

See  .

Storms abating

The worst of the bad weather seems to have ended. It got very close (nearly overhead) but the centre now seems to have moved away to the east. The sun is now trying to shine again! Whilst it lasted, it was very nasty weather with thunder, lightning and heavy rain. I admit I am glad when nasty storms have moved away.

See .

Approaching storm

This week we have missed the worst of the storms but, right now, one is heading our way. Currently it is a little to the west of us, but the thunder is audible and the lightning map shows it moving our way. The skies are darkening. Somehow I think we are going to soon feel its full force quite soon.

UPDATE 1742z: It is here now! Lightning very close and heavy rain.

MH17 crash in Ukraine

If Russia is innocent then why is it not doing far more to help international investigators gain full, unhindered, access to the crash site? Why am I suspicious? If they have nothing to hide why all the secrecy?  All the Russian actions appear to show ever more complicity.

It would be better for Russia to "come clean" and admit that Russian backed separatists shot the plane down. Admit Russia was unable to control rebel factions and then move on. As it is, Russia is likely to face tougher sanctions and yet more isolation in the international community. Both actions are not in Russia's best interests.

It would be in Russia's best interest to agree a permanent downing of weapons in Ukraine and to hold elections to decide the future of Russian speaking regions of Ukraine, perhaps under UN control (of elections)? If some parts want to move to Russia, then let them go.  Bombs and bullets do not solve such conflicts.

UPDATE 1612z:

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Visitors since coming out of hospital

My wife tells me we have had over seventy different visitors come to see us since I came out of hospital back in January.  Many have returned time and time again. Not being able to travel so easily at present, it is lovely to see people in our home. Most ring first to make sure it is convenient. Although people say I look well, inside I am still giddy and feel sick a lot of my waking time.

Some visitors are noticeable by their absence. Some admit they hate illness and are afraid to come. Some of the non-visitors are more surprising as outwardly they claim to be good Christian people. Sham!  As I have said before in this blog, illness certainly shows who are your kind and loyal friends and who are the friends one can do without.

It is not that some people don't call that hurts: it is the sham of some people who claim to be "upright citizens" when really they just don't want to know or to get involved.

It is the sham that hurts.

Storms tracking east of us?

At present the nasty storms coming up from France and Belgium are over Ipswich and Clacton. The storm path seems to be moving north, suggesting we might miss the worst. It certainly feels as if we are in for a storm, but who knows? We are certainly in for a hot uncomfortable night in bed.

See  .

The storms over NE France and Begium currently are very intense. I really hope these miss us later.

Storms over Kent

See  .

Although it certainly feels stormy here at present - very close and humid - the main storms seem to be some 60-70 miles west of here. Down in East Kent, where our younger son lives,  there are active storms now, with several lightning strikes occurring. His main risk is flooding from rising ground water, although river levels are currently very low, so they should be OK.

School room at museum

Last Thursday our grandson Edward (5) visited our local museum. He he is as the schoolmaster at the reconstructed village school room.

Water fight

On Wednesday, we had 2 grandchildren and their dads here. It was very hot, so the grandchildren had a water fight with the hose on fine spray. Both cried when they went their separate ways.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Red legged partridges

Since before we moved in to our bungalow last August there has been a pair of red-legged partridges strutting around the Close as if they owned it. They frequently come into our garden. Well, today they have been joined by a third one. It looks fully grown, so not sure if it is male "chancing his luck" with the female. Anyway, we now seem to have three wandering around the Close. They all seem perfectly happy! As with all photos, just before taking it they all scattered down  the road, but they are definitely red-legged partridge I can assure you.
3 red-legged partridges in the Close (sorry for the poor shot)

Moving - mixed emotions

Today my wife's brother and his wife are moving home from Ilkley in Yorkshire to Goostrey in Cheshire where they will be very close to one of their sons and family. This will be a strange day of mixed emotions.
They were very content in Ilkley so moving will be quite an upheaval.  They are the sort of couple who will soon make new friends, especially in the local church. I give it a week (or less) before their new home feels like their real home. Having one of their sons and his family nearby (2km) will be a real bonus. We hope to stay with them before too long.

Messing about on the river

Today our "Kent" grandchildren enjoyed going on a local river in a friend's boat. They appear to have had a great time. Our grandchildren are the two in front wearing lifejackets. Today it has been 32.5 deg C -very hot indeed. An ideal day for messing about on the river.
Grandchildren on the river (front two)

Thursday, 17 July 2014

MH370 disappearance

I am still puzzled by the disappearance of this aircraft. Surely the USA with all its spy satellites must know where it is. As far as I know, not a single item from the plane has been washed up - anywhere. Sorry to be suspicious, but was the USA in some way complicit in the plane's disappearance?  Surely, if the USA is innocent they would have volunteered data by now?  I smell a rat.  Perhaps I am wrong? Could the plane still be intact somewhere?

The latest Malaysian plane crash in E.Ukraine at least should have retrievable black boxes. I am told that the IR traces of missiles should also be detectable, so someone will be able to tell who fired the missile that downed the plane, if indeed this is what happened.

Spam comments - will be immediately deleted!

In the last 24 hours on both my blogs I have had SPAM comments from someone in India extolling the virtues of yoga and meditation. Nothing wrong in the right context, but the comments are totally out of context and therefore SPAM. Both have been deleted as soon as noticed.

A word of warning to potential SPAMMERS: similar irrelevant and totally off topic comments will always be treated as SPAM and deleted.Go away or expect such comments to be immediately deleted.

Clean car and a haircut

This morning my younger son Chris has kindly waxed and cleaned our car - it looks great. Yesterday he cut my hair -  now looks tidy, and later he is trimming the hedge. It has been good having Chris and grandson Edward (5).

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

La Hogue lunch surprise

Lunch at La Hogue today
Today our son Chris and grandson Edward are staying overnight. As a complete surprise, we went to the La Hogue farm shop/cafe and met our other son Tim and granddaughter Amandine. We had lunch together and the little ones enjoyed the slides,swings and toy tractors. It was delightful. We then all returned to Burwell.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Evening stroll

Every morning and every evening, usually, I do a walk "around the block" of around 400m, without any walking aids and alone.  This is to help me with core strength and to improve my balance. My physio sessions in Newmarket gym on Tuesdays and Thursdays also help with stamina and balance.

When I first did this walk, months ago, I used a walking frame and my wife used to come with me in case I fell. Since I have been home from hospital (January) I have not fallen once.

So, my walking must be much better than it was. Trouble is I find it hard to remember how I was back then.

The walk is around our Close and back past Burwell Windmill. These days, my wife says I look "normal" when walking, with no "old man" stoop. I long for the day when I do this walk and feel properly fit again.

Stroke "progress"

I am still very frustrated by my slow recovery: although I can eat many foods now - all by mouth - drinks are still a problem by mouth. I still feel slightly sick in the stomach all the time when awake and am still giddy, as if drunk, when walking. I just hope these issues will all improve given time. I am hopeful that I'll be able to drive again in a few months.

Tomorrow, all being well Nutricia will be collecting all my unused liquid feeds and the pump to put them into me via my stomach Peg.  All I now use is a syringe to put water and some medicines into my stomach. When I can get all my medicines and liquids in by mouth, the stomach Peg can be removed.  I am looking forward to that day.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Ken Clarke

See .

So Ken Clarke is leaving high office. He was a smoker and supported the smoking lobby (if I remember rightly) , but overall I though he was fair and was a good representative for the Conservatives. He came over as "the common man" and not a toff. I wish him well on the back benches. He is probably the best Conservative Prime Minister we never had.

Real kindness

This morning, I was reminded yet again just how kind people are.

Already, I have had three kind and generous offers to build and test my Ultimate-3 beacon kit, an  amateur radio project  which is currently beyond my building skills because of my brain injury. I still hope to build this myself, but may wait a few more months until I'm less wobbly and clumsy.

This is not the first time I have been touched by the genuine kindness of others. It restores one's faith in humankind: there are some truly kind people around. These people seek no reward, no money - they are offering because they are genuinely kind and caring.  Thank you all.

Sometimes we hear about all the bad things in this world. Believe me, the world has very many kind and caring people in it. This last week I have be so touched by the love of caring people.

I have come to the conclusion that there are far more kind and good people than evil, cruel people. It is up to us all to share this love with others.

Museum Fete

Yesterday,  our local Burwell Museum held its annual grand fete to help raise money. This shot shows the restored windmill with the WW2 Nissan hut and the blacksmith's forge on the right. There were quite a few stalls out of shot.  Unfortunately, weather was mixed.

I keep recommending the museum, because it is so very good. Believe me, there is so much to see you are very unlikely to be disappointed. Many hours could be spent here seeing the many exhibits.

Our grandchildren love going.

Rear Lawn

Our rear lawn is about twice as big as the front lawn. I cut the front lawn a few days ago. Although I started on the rear lawn, I've had to take a break as it is still much too wet in places. Another hour or so and I should be fine.
Rear lawn
The last time I cut the rear lawn it I needed 4 breaks, but think my stamina is a bit better now, so fewer breaks were needed. Although not perfect, it is much better for being cut.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

World Cup football

Germany has just scored in extra time, and unless Argentina produces a miracle goal now, Germany will win the World Cup. They certainly deserve to win after their trouncing of Brazil the other night. Should the Argentinians level and then win on penalties it would be a cruel end.

Germany have won. Thankfully there was not a need for a penalty shoot-out.

Profound tiredness

One of the hardest aspects of my brain bleed after-effects is the profound tiredness I feel most of the time. People say I look well, but most of the time I am very, very tired. The smallest physical job: hoovering, having breakfast, any gardening etc leaves me so exhausted.

I guess the nearest analogy is M.E.  Some days are a bit better, but most of the time I just want to rest. My physical stamina is improving slowly, but I am looking forward to the day when "usual" physical activity leaves me with energy still.

Seaweed and better seaweed

Call me a real cynic but the BBC weather (based on the Met Office data) said for Burwell "dry" all morning and "showers" after lunch. At breakfast time (around 0800z) it was raining heavily! The Met Office recently upgraded their computers. I think they should buy better seaweed instead!

Why are their forecasts so bad, even on the same day? I am sure they could do better. When there is a big "high", forecasts are easy. Surely they could do a better job in more mixed weather. Usually the best forecast is to see what it says a few days out and assume the opposite. This is crazy with all this investment.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Israel and Gaza

See .

Surely Israel wants to be treated fairly and so do the Palestinians. It is in BOTH sides best interest to negotiate a fair and lasting peace. The war that basically started the current mess was fought in 1967 when  I was doing my A-levels and now I have retired! Surely it is not beyond both sides to jaw, jaw not make war, war?

There are precedents for warring parties to make peace - South Africa, Northern Ireland for example. The endless cycle of violence does no good at all and just makes hate stronger. Make true and lasting peace and let's have mutual respect. Both sides are different: accept these and make a lasting settlement. It both frustrates and puzzles me why the cycle of violence goes on and on.  No-one wins.

Cutting the lawns

Both our sons (and one grandchild each) are due up on Wednesday. In the meantime, if the weather dries, I hope to cut both lawns, front and back. The lawns here are larger than at our old home. It takes all my strength to cut them these days, whereas in the past it would have been effortless.
Front lawn with windmill back right. Laurels trimmed yesterday.
I managed the front lawn today. 0.75hrs rather than 1hr the last time I cut it. It is 2 weeks since it was last cut. It left me "cream crackered" but I managed it. The back lawn is larger. That is probably a job for Monday or Tuesday, if the weather is dry.

Assisted dying law

So the old Archbishop of Canterbury, George Cary, has changed his mind on this subject and now will support a bill on it going though the House of Lords. I hope I never need this.

Dying in great pain and suffering must be truly dreadful. I guess it is a fear/hope of an afterlife that worries us most? If dying was just going into nothingness then there can be little argument against assisted dying to make ones end peaceful. If there is some form of life after death,who knows?

I wonder what the old archbishop believes happens when we die? I just don't know.

See .

Younger son and family in France

See .

Our younger son and family are in northern France on a camping break. The weather has been poor until yesterday. I think they are having a good time despite the weather. I think they have a caravan rather than a tent, which is just as well.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Not H.Pylori

One of the surgery doctors rang to tell me the lab results are back and I do not have an H.Pylori stomach infection. In a way this is bad news as if I had been, it would explain the symptoms and antibiotics should have cleared it. Now I have no idea what is causing my stomach discomfort or bad breath. More tests, more unknowns, more waiting.

Laurel hedge

Last summer, a few days before my brain bleed that changed my life, at least for now, I planted a row of laurel bushes to help define our front boundary. We don't intend the hedge to grow too high, but we do want it to thicken out.
Sorry about my reflection in the window glass!
Today I trimmed the tops so they are all roughly the same size and I hope this will encourage them to grow thicker with time. I don't intend to trim them again before next spring but they could probably do with a further bone meal feed. This certainly helped in the spring.

Missing South Devon

Usually, we go back to South Devon at least twice a year and stay with my brother who still lives in the South Hams. This is where I was brought up as a child (Salcombe and Kingsbridge). This year we have not been back because of my stroke sadly.

I get very emotional these days (stroke) and thinking of "home" - my dad (who died in 1987) used to call it "the promised land" - makes me fill with tears. I shall get back there again before too long, I very much hope. Strange how thinking of the South Hams makes me tearful, but it does.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Health (stroke) update

Lots of people ask how I am doing with my stroke recovery, so here is a summary. I look (externally) much better than I feel inside. Some people who see me think I am back to normal, but external appearances can be deceptive:
  • I am still suffering from balance (giddiness) issues. This an issue when on my feet and moving. When seated it is not an issue. It feels like everything sways and I've had too much alcohol,but I have not touched alcohol since before my stroke last September!
  • I can eat most foods by mouth OK. Some foods are easier than others, preferably softer foods are easiest to eat. Ginsters pasties and Mediterranean vegetables are my current favourites. All my food is now solid and by mouth. No liquid foods taken any more. This is a big improvement.
  • Each day I manage 3-4 drinks (tea or coffee) by mouth. Drinks are still not easy. I take 2 to 2.2 litres of water by my stomach tube each day as well.
  • Stomach discomfort is my biggest issue at present. Currently I am being tested to see if I have an H.Pylori infection. My stomach is "uncomfortable" all my waking hours and this is getting me down. I have the feeling this, and the accompanying bad breath, are not related directly to the stroke. If it is H.Pylori then it should be treatable and I should feel so much better.
  • Although not allowed to drive (although no-one has actually said I can't officially), I now feel able to drive. When seated in the car, I am not giddy and feel in control. This is much better than even a few months ago.
  • Walking is now without any walking aids. Distance is not the issue - it is the giddiness.
  • I am registered disabled (a blue badge holder) and this has been useful.
Overall, improvements have slowed. There are still improvements to be made but I feel these are going to take longer than I expected. I have another MRI brain scan and video fluoroscopy at the end of this month and an ENT (ear, nose, throat) examination near the end of August.

UPDATE 11.7.14 1800z:   For tea this evening I had pork tenderlon, marrow and roast potatoes - perfect! It tasted great and went down well.

Golf - McIlroy's amazing drive

See .

The length of drives in modern golf amazes me. No doubt clubs are better now than when I was a keen golfer in my youth. My best handicap was 16.  If I could hit a ball reasonably straight 200 yards I was pleased, but McIlroy managed to hit his drive a stonking 436 yards in the Scottish Open this week. That is roughly 4 soccer pitches! How do these people do it? Clubs help, but it must come down to swing, timing and raw power.


My brother-in-laws and their wives enjoy cruises. My wife and I do not like the idea. Maybe it is an age thing? At least you only have to unpack the suitcases once and the "hotel" takes you to each destination. I hate the idea of having to dress up for dinner. This whole idea fills me with horror! I prefer to go really casual on holidays but all I hear about cruises makes me believe that dressing up for dinners is "par for the course". If so, cruising will not be in my plans anytime soon.

By pure coincidence, our Australian friends, Pat and Ced, are on the same cruise to Iceland, the Faroes and Norway  as my brother-in-law and his wife. I understand they have met up for drinks.

Plane safe, just - amazing video (fake)

Just seen this video. The pilot remains cool and collected and manages to land the plane,less a wing, safely. This is quite remarkable flying. The pilot is safe and no fire. Quite unbelievable.

Indeed - quite unbelievable. This video is a viral FAKE. See
If you look carefully you can see how the fake was made.Very convincing.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Jean and Alan

As you may recall, my brain bleed last September means I am not allowed to drive for a while. I am still awaiting a decision from the DVLA as to when I can resume driving. Whereas a few months ago the thought of driving would have been stupid, I now know I could safely drive again.

In the meantime my wife is doing all the driving and I am extremely grateful that she can do so.

Today we ventured to Letchworth in Hertfordshire to see old friends Jean and Alan.

We have done this journey, with me driving, dozens and dozens of times. Why is it that my wife does not know the way? :-)  What is it about women drivers that makes them, apparently, such hopeless navigators?  Also, I anticipate trouble coming up ahead and slow down and change down. My wife seem clueless of such dangers. At the moment I have no choice but to be a passenger.

 I shall be very glad when I can drive again.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014


Last night, we were sent a copy of our oldest grandson's school report. He is 6.5 years old and lives in London. He is getting on really well, but the thing that pleased us most was that the school think of him as a kind little boy who is faithful to his best friend.

One thing my recent illness has taught me is you find out who your real friends are. Some people that I had expected to be overflowing with kindness and genuine love just don't want to get involved: they have avoided finding out how I am really feeling and this shows and hurts.   Others have gone out of their way to be genuinely kind and caring, bless them. Most times I try to manage but it is good to have genuinely caring friends and relatives. Genuine love shines brightly.

As an example, one of my hobbies is amateur radio and I normally enjoy building and experimenting. This week, two people, one a total stranger, have offered to build a kit I've had for some months. The kit has been left unbuilt as my hands are too clumsy. Such genuine kindness. I was overwhelmed by their offers.

I am so pleased that my grandson is kind and caring. We love him to bits and this is how we find him. I hope he grows up to be kind and loving.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Strangford Loch

This afternoon Jackie (of Jackie and Bill) called in for a chat and cup of tea. Their two sons work in the Far East, in Shanghai and Hong Kong.  Jackie is hoping they will move back to N.Ireland to a house not too far from her sister. 

N.Ireland is a very beautiful part of the British Isles, unknown to most in Britain. Recent political unrest did N.Ireland (Ulster) no favours. The distrust goes back centuries and make no sense in the modern world. 
Strangford Loch
Jackie and Bill hope to move to a place near the top of Strangford Loch, one of the best places in the Province.

See .

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Polish code breakers - the unknown story

Until reading the article on the BBC website I had no knowledge of the part played by Polish codebreakers in decyphering the German Enigma code. See .

There is little doubt that the work of the Bletchley codebreakers helped to shorten the war. I had no idea that Polish codebreakers were so important too.

Tour de France 2014

This year, "Le Tour" started in Yorkshire and tomorrow it comes to Cambridge en route to London. The crowds lining the route in Yorkshire were amazing - millions at a guess.

Some years ago (2010), when in Burgundy, we ran into the Tour de France quite by accident: Our route was barred off and we had to stop until the Tour had passed through. In all, it took 2 hours!

This short video was taken as we waited. All the cars leading the Tour were throwing gifts to the crowds. We got a frizby for our grandchildren. Others got teeeshirts, balls, drinks and sweets. It was quite an occasion.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Ely Consort Concert

This evening we went to a concert given by the excellent Ely Consort in Burwell St Mary's Church. The Ely Consort must be one of the best choirs in the county.

See .

The concert this evening was a very varied program with Madrigals, Folk Songs and arrangements of more modern popular pieces. Altogether excellent music.  The Ely Consort is about to do a tour of Germany.

The sung works were interspersed with music by Chinese, but Cambridge born, Hannah Brock (aged 15) playing Chinese music on the zither. Beautiful.

Cambridgeshire is blessed with many fine choirs. The Ely Consort is up with the very best.

Sadly, my health has not been good today. Both my stomach and giddiness were bad. However, I managed to walk to the church and thoroughly enjoyed the concert.


For the life of me, I find it hard to make sense of the crisis in the Ukraine.  The western media seems to put all blame on Russia, but I have my doubts.


This crisis seems to be about Russia being against the western leaning Ukrainian government and Russia wishing still to have a "sphere of influence" in the old communist states that once formed part of the USSR. The fact that Russia exports a lot of its gas to Europe complicates things.  I don't know much about Ukraine's history but know Crimea was gifted to Ukraine by Russia in the old USSR days. Maybe this part should again be Russian?

Whatever, I hope differences can be fixed and a peaceful solution found. It would be terribly sad if Ukraine fell into civil war. Surely peace is worth so much more? Maybe the answer is more autonomy for the Russian speaking parts?

Friday, 4 July 2014

Rolf Harris jail term

See .

It saddens me to see our childhood heroes jailed for sex crimes.  In many cases these took place years ago, but justice has been done by judge and jury. This is good English law.

Personally, I think ALL sides in such cases should remain anonymous until a "guilty" verdict is reached. This is to protect all parties if the person on trial is found "not guilty".  Sadly mud sticks and those found "not guilty" remain tainted for the rest of their lives.

Also today we hear of Andy Coulson, sentenced to 1.5 years in the phone hacking trial.

Personally I feel sorry for their victims and for the families of the accused who have to live with the shame and ignominy for years to come. In most cases, partners and children have stood faithfully by throughout the trials.

With good behaviour, these folks are likely to be released much earlier under licence. Of course. if they face further charges the sentences could be longer.

NHS inefficiency

Let me say from the outset that I believe in the NHS (National Health Service) - that clinical care should not be a privilege of those who can afford it - everyone has the right to good care when they are ill. Creating the NHS was a highlight of the post-WW2 Labour government. The idea too that essential public services should be in public ownership is also fundamentally "right".  BTW, I am unlikely to vote for Labour in the next General Election in 2015. Still looking at issues and policies.

What I do have an issue with are the gross inefficiencies in the NHS,  especially when it comes to communications, both in hospital and when people are discharged. I have been involved in a heated Facebook debate over this.

It is my contention that the NHS could save billions each year and give patients a better, more caring service, if they "smartened up their act" on communications. I have countless examples I could give based on my own experiences and those of close friends. You may recall I was in a major UK hospital for 3.5 months last year.

Time and again I get cross when I see gross incompetence.  In the private sector such idiots (if working for me) would have been sacked. There are no excuses - it is not a shortage of staff or overwork - in most cases it is sheer sloppy behaviour and unbelievably bad communications. The NHS needs to sort its communications out and fast. Personally, I think people need to be accountable in a "private sector" way. The NHS needs to get a grip.

Recently it took letters to the NHS bosses and my MP to get action. It worked for me, but it should not have been necessary: poor communication is the single biggest cause of waste in the NHS in my view. It needs sorting.

As an ex-manager in private industry, the NHS is crying out for reform. It has to happen, no excuses.

I could give numerous examples where poor communication was evident. In some cases it was individuals and poor training, in other cases the systems were letting the NHS down.

It pains me to see public services letting themselves down. The NHS could be so much better, and at effectively no cost - just smarten up the systems to avoid waste. Tell me, if the NHS was your business wouldn't you be crying out for reform?  Because it is very large, not bothered about profits and publically owned it lacks efficiency and accountability.

Best man coming to stay

Every year our best man (Pete) comes down from The Wirral to stay with us for a few days. He enjoys the bookshops in Cambridge. We enjoy seeing him and chatting. My  wife and I will have been married 43 years on July 24th having got married in 1971.

Pete is a perfect guest: he mucks in and helps. Like all good friends, we just pick up where we left off and it seems like a few days since he was last with us.

He last came in November when I was still in hospital. I was so ill then I cannot remember him visiting me. 

A long solo walk (no stick) , and even a brief run!

Today I ventured out on my longest solo walk: to the local Budgens shop and the chemists. In days gone by, these would have been very easy, but nowadays the walk is a challenge involving crossing roads 6 times.  At one point, crossing the road by the bank I had to RUN across the road as a car came quickly around the corner!  I am pleased to report I made it there and back safely with the shopping from Budgens and medicines from the chemists.

On the way I bumped into our old neighbour (Hilary) and the lady who used to run the post office. It was SO nice to do normal things. Inside I still fell giddy and sick, but everyone says how well I look. If I can sort out my stomach I think I shall feel so much better.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Ex colleague and pupil

Today we caught up at our home with Pat and Cedric Fernandes, from Australia, and Chris Westgarth who lives locally. Pat used  to teach with Lis in the early 1970s.  Chris was an ex-pupil.
Pat with Chris Westgarth today
Cedric and Pat Fernandes with Lis today

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Salcombe planning decisions

In the past few days I have been posting on one of the Salcombe groups on Facebook (SPQR), urging the locals to be proactive in local planning decisions, making sure all applications are 100% legal and in the best interests of the town. It is no use people moaning after everything has been approved.
There are no accusations of past wrongs. Rather I am urging locals to look to the future and make sure everything looks good for the town. In the past several planning decisions were, arguably, not in Salcombe's longer term best interests.

At a recent council open meeting just 3 members of the public bothered to turn up. With apathy like this, they deserve what they get!

Garden looking good

Because of my brain bleed, I have been able to do very little in the garden this year so far.  I am now starting to cut the grass again (our son has been doing this most Wednesdays) , but most flower planting and maintenance has been done by my wife.

I think the garden is looking good. The laurel hedge in the front garden is thickening out now and roses have been colourful.

The garden at our bungalow is a little larger than at our old house. The lawns are about 50% bigger.

If anything, the flower beds here are easier to look after with few weeds blowing in from the fields.

We certainly like our new home and garden and have settled in well.

I am looking forward to the time when I can do a lot more in the garden without getting exhausted.

National debt

Like many in the UK, I get very confused about national debt levels. The Conservatives say debt is falling yet we are now borrowing more than ever. Who is right?  That we as a nation are living beyond our means is an indisputable fact. Personal debt levels in the UK are still very high but less I believe than they once were. It looks like spend under Labour would have been as high or even higher than the Conservatives with their cuts and austerity.
I'd like someone to explain the UK National Debt  to me, preferably without the politics! Are things getting better or worse? 

Sorry about the text colours in this Wikipeadia graph text. Debt interest alone costs us £30billion a year! Staggering.

See also

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Anglesey Abbey

This afternoon, we had a stroll around the grounds of our nearby National Trust property, Anglesey Abbey.

We sat on a bench under a Manna Ash and just enjoyed the warm summer day. It was a timeless moment.

Visit from Fuzzy

Richard Fusniak called on us today, on the way to feed his son's pigs. We owe Richard a debt of gratitude as it was his good sense that got my wife to take me to Addenbrookes Hospital with my brain bleed in a timely way last September. Any delay and I might be dead now. Here is Richard chatting to me lunchtime today.
Richard Fusniak today