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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Preserving British Values

See . On this, I agree with the Home Secretary.

Great Britain does have values and these are worth preserving. The latest moves, planned for the next parliament, will be controversial as some will see them as an infringement of civil liberties. On balance, I favour the move to keep extremism at bay.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Lunch visit

Today one of my old school friends and his partner called in for lunch. It was the first time I'd seen him since my illness and it was good to spend a few hours catching up on things.

Independent Catalonia?

See .

I am all for states gaining their independence, but they need to do it in association with the country they form part of currently. For example, Scotland had a vote to break away from the UK recently, but the majority wanted to stay in the UK. In Catalonia's case it would be fine to break from Spain if that is the majority view, but this is best done with the blessing of Spain.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Europe wins Ryder Cup

In the end, Europe beat the USA 16.5 to 11.5 in the Ryder Cup Golf 2014.   It was a convincing win, with none of the last day surprises as has happened in the past in recent years.

See .

Housing costs in the South Hams, Devon


The gap between house prices and average earnings is huge in the South Hams with a ratio of 14.8 times. This makes most homes unaffordable to locals who work there. Average house price there is £304,012 and average earnings £20,478.

Places like Salcombe will impact results and some remote inland villages, with poor infrastructure, will be a little less bad. It is becoming a very serious issue.

97th birthday

Had my mother not had cancer a few years ago, she would have celebrated her 97th birthday today. Both my brother and I thought she would make it to 100, but it was not to be.

Grandchildren gone home

Well, the house is almost quiet again after the visit of our son Chris and his family. Just an old friend Josie is still here. She will be leaving soon. Josie is God mum to our smallest granddaughter.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Family day today

At around 12 noon, we are expecting our son Chris and family to arrive from Kent. They plan to go to the annual Pumpkin Fair in Soham and then some are off to nearby Newmarket to see The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe performed at the Nomads Theatre. It should be a nice weekend for them and for us.

Image on LHS is located at .  

Image copyright is with originating website and link will be removed if requested, but you are getting free publicity!

Our granddaughter surrounded by pumpkins!

Friday, 26 September 2014

Stomach PEG coming out soon (stroke)

Having seen the dietician nurse in clinic at Addenbrooke's today, it is now likely that my stomach PEG will be removed "in the coming weeks".   Just how it comes out will be decided shortly.   It means that the water I currently inject directly into my stomach will have to be by mouth soon. As my swallow of liquids is still not that easy, this will be non-trivial, but do-able. Regarding alcohol, the dieticians could see no reason why the odd glass of wine should be an issue, but they suggested I discuss with my GP in case it is linked to the pills I take. I doubt this.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

"Deadly serious" computer security vulnerability

See .

Computer experts are warning about a new vulnerability that could affect many millions of computers worldwide.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Lower cost car insurance?

See .  It looks like car insurances may drop in cost soon. I hope so, as insuring cars is an expensive business. In my own case I have to declare my brain bleed a year ago to my insurer as "a pre-existing condition".  I have no idea what difference this will make to how much I shall have to pay. Not too much I hope.

Never trust a politician?

The last time I voted Conservative was in a local election some 40 odd years ago. I am what people call "a floating voter" as I vote according to my conscience and a have voted Labour, Lib Dem and Green in the past. Although I have sympathy with some Labour policies, I find it hard to trust the current Labour leader  who seems ineffective to me. See .

At the moment I am very undecided who to vote for in the General Election next year.  Maybe when their policies are better explained I'll be able to decide. Voting Conservative rather goes against the grain - their policies do seem to support the well heeled, but they have done a reasonably credible job so far in the coalition government in the last 4 years. Labour is likely to have stoked the National Debt even more. This worries me for the future.

The basic message is we have to learn to live within our means as individuals and as a nation.   Whichever party truly believes this and has the right policies will (probably) get my vote.   It is a long time since we ruled the world and had an empire that allowed us to exploit it.

UK wide webcams

See for a map listing many UK free webcams. A useful place to look.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Windy in S.Devon?

Every few days, I check the webcams in the South Hams.

Just looked at the one in Hope Cove where it looks cold and windy. See . As I write this, it is dark. The flag is visible blowing around in the wind. In the daytime it is a lot more interesting.

Hope Cove is where there were Lapthorns nearly 500 years ago, and possibly much earlier too. I have one record of a Lapthorn sharing a piece of land nearby (parish of South Huish) in 1428.

Anglesey Abbey with granddaughter

Today has been quite an energetic day for me. Firstly I walked to and from the doctors.

Then "Active For Life" at the gym in Newmarket and then, after lunch, a 1.82km walk at Anglesey Abbey (National Trust). The latter was with our son and his daughter. At the end I was very tired.

The picture shows a line of dahlia heads stretching nearly as far as the eye can see with one of our sons and granddaughters.

Monday, 22 September 2014


Today marked a milestone in the recovery from my brain bleed:  I managed to cut both the front and back lawns in a single session in the garden. OK, by the end I was very tired, but at least I managed it. The lawns are not that small either. The front lawn is tapered and is about 80 feet long. The rear lawn is about 15-20 feet wide and 70 feet long.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

A natural?

Our grandson has a way with animals. He loves them and cares for them and they seem to reciprocate.

Here he is holding a small bantam hen. Before long he will be wanting pets.

When he grows up, I can see him as a vet, but he may change. He is a very gentle and loving little boy.

As a child I had a tame bantam hen called Margaret that ate off the same plate as our cairn terrier. She was very tame. Our grandson reminds me of the love I had as a child.  When that little bantam eventually died, I was heartbroken.

Our house from the church tower

This panoramic view is on the Burwell Community Website. Our house is just visible as the roof in front of the windmill. Please visit the link for more information about the village and a bigger, clearer panorama.

Burwell Museum - worth a visit

I can thoroughly recommend a visit to Burwell Museum. It is PACKED with interesting exhibits and "punches above it weight". Ideal for everyone aged from 3 to 103.

Open 11-5 Thursdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays Easter to late October.

Anglesey Abbey (National Trust)

Anglesey Abbey (NT)
This afternoon we went to Anglesey Abbey (NT) for a walk of about 1.6km. The dahlias are still out but they are now past their best.  They have a novel way of using the old dahlias heads - see picture. Some are in a 220m line of dahlia heads and some are hung from a tree as in the photo.

Although still giddy and I tire easily, the walking itself is not problematic. In fact I enjoy it very much. We bumped into 3 old friends whilst there.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

From Al Jazeera news - does bombing help?

See .

Interesting piece by Rachael Shabi on the Al Jazeera website questioning whether or not bombings in the Middle East actually helps stop terrorists. In the past, these moves have failed.

Imams speak out

Imams have published a YouTube video pleading for the release of British taxi driver Alan Henning. They condemn holding him ("an innocent humanitarian aid worker") as being against Sharia Law.

See .
"Executing this man is totally haram," he said. "Impermissible, prohibited according to sharia for a number of reasons."

Friday, 19 September 2014

Salmond to step down

It seems a pity to me but apparently Alex Salmond is stepping down as First Minister of Scotland after not winning the referendum. See   Although he did not win, I thought he was magnanimous in defeat. It is a great shame he is stepping down.


It is amazing, although not too surprising, how just a few weeks can make so much difference.

Although the grass is still growing vigorously and needs cutting every week still, the nights are really drawing in now and it will be dark at 7pm very soon now. Some of the trees are turning golden.

We have had a very good summer and the autumn fruits and berries have been 4-6 weeks early. Most mornings I can still find wild blackberries on my strolls. I love all seasons - we are lucky in the UK to have 4 distinct seasons all lovely in their own special way. I agree with the Met Office seasons which, to me, fit well:

Dec, Jan, Feb - winter
Mar. Apl, May - spring
June, July, Aug - summer
Sept, Oct, Nov - autumn.

My favourite season of all is spring when things come alive again with fresh new growth and the migrant birds return from winter in Africa. In the meantime, let us enjoy autumn and winter for their special charms. On dry days, usually in January, the light is low and wonderful.

I hope next year that I am fit again. This year has been hard as I have been so unwell.

Scotland votes to stay in UK

Good news but more devolved power likely across UK as "yes" to an independent nation was quite strong.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Archbishop admits doubts about God.

See .

The Archbishop of Canterbury explains that it was acceptable to occasionally have doubt, and still be a Christian. He added: "The extraordinary thing about being a Christian is that God is faithful even when we're not. When we get into the wrong place he comes alongside us and says, 'Right let's go from here.'"

His remarks were made at an event in Bristol Cathedral in which the Archbishop spoke about why he believes in God and how his faith in Jesus has transformed his life.

Scotland decides

By tomorrow morning we should know if Scotland is to leave the UK or stay as part of the union it has belonged to for 307 years.

Although I hope people there stay in the UK, it is their decision. If they leave, I suspect it will prove hard.  Most results won't be known before breakfast, so I won't be glued to the TV overnight, fun though it might be. Breakfast TV will have all the results probably.

We have some affinity with Scotland. One of my sons was at university in Glasgow for 4 years and then worked there for a year.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Ebola and economies

See .  The World Bank believes the current Ebola outbreak could ruin many West African economies. The Ebola outbreak is killing thousands. President Obama has warned of the dangers to the world from it and has offered more troops.

There are some vaccines being tested, but it is early days for these. The real danger is if it spreads to more populated nations when further spreads could be even harder to contain. Imagine Ebola on a tube train.

Scottish Referendum

The vote tomorrow in which Scotland will decide if it is to leave the UK will be a close call according to the experts. Whatever the outcome, we have to respect the views expressed.

At the moment it looks like the "yes" vote i.e. Scotland votes to leave the UK, may just win. If it does, I suspect that Scotland will find it gets quite hard quite soon.

Personally, I agree with Mr Salmond on Trident: it is a total waste of money and Scotland will be better without it. Mind you, the vote is very important for far more reasons than this. I urge all Scots to think carefully.

See .

 Apparently the .scot domain name will soon be available.  See .

UPDATE 1625z:  There are a lot of people in the "don't know" or "undecided" category. A lot will depend on these votes. It could go either way. The latest opinion polls show a narrow lead to the "no" campaign, but there are lots of undecided voters who could swing the result either way.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Spare £1.95M anyone? Landmark, Salcombe.

See .

This fine "Arts and Crafts" house, which was once owned by author Paul Gallico, is on the market for £1.95million.  I fear the developers will simply sell to the highest bidder and the site will be extensively redeveloped, mainly for greed and a quick profit. The sellers own sales literature even says, "Possible redevelopment opportunity". It is pretty clear what they want.  This is a very fine house, which should be kept as it is. It has real history with it once being Paul Gallico's home where many of his books were written. It is a rare gem.

See . This building should be listed and developers prevented from making "a fast buck" by selling such houses! Salcombe is rapidly being ruined by the greed of those with no real interest in the town.   Already locals are being priced out. In 20 years Salcombe will be dead - just a playground for those with "loads of money" and very little sense. My dad used to call them the "Hooray Henry" brigade. You know the type. Salcombe is beng bought up by those earning silly money such as Premier League footballers and bankers and the like who earn millions in bonuses for basically gambling with OUR money. Sorry, but I get very angry when I see good, hard working locals unable to afford to live in their own town.

I have no idea whether listing a building that is on the market is possible or not. To try, write to .

Monday, 15 September 2014

Spelling mistakes

It is taking me a long time to discover some of the subtleties of my stroke last year. Some after-effects are very obvious, but others more difficult to discern.

I am finding that I am quite slow to notice spelling errors in my blog posts. Usually these get corrected but on my other blog I had a spelling mistake in a title for most of the day before I spotted it! I think my intellect is fine, but I do seem to have more problems with spelling and short-term memory.

Gaza in ruins

See . Exactly what are Israeli aims in Gaza? The wholesale destruction of the state? Looking at these images, one could be forgiven for thinking this.

It is high time the Middle East states around Israel accept Israel's right to exist in peace with its neighbours, and high time Israel forged real peace deals with its Arab neighbours. Live and let live, in a just peace, fair to all.

Stroke update

I read one of my posts from very early in the year. In it, I was hoping that after 6 months at home I would be fully fit. That proved optimistic!

It is now September and I still have great fatigue, speaking is poor (breath is short with little expression/modulation)) and effortful - people find it hard to understand what I say unless I speak very slowly and very deliberately - my balance when walking is not good and drinking can be hard work. Food is, generally, little problem now. Overall, I still have a way to go.

I believe I am now ready to drive the car again (I wrote a reminder to the DVLA this weekend as the neurosurgeon wrote to them in June saying I was fine to drive. My U3A course starts October 8th or 9th I think. It would be good to be driving again by then.

My aim is to be off my PEG before the end of this year and to be fully fit again before the spring. Please.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

A delightful photo of our two "Kent" grandchildren taken this autumn in a field near their home this weekend. They are lovely children. We love them lots.

Hope Cove, Devon - webcam

See . This webcam is not always on and is best viewed in good daytime light. They suffer from slowish broadband speeds in Hope Cove. You get a good view of the top of the beach from the Sun Bay Hotel, when on.

There are several other Devon webcams listed on this site.

For a full UK index see .

David Haines - RIP

I cannot understand why, in this day and age, we have to descend into the barbarism of the Middle Ages in defence of any religion. I thought mankind had matured? It beggars belief that some young men choose the path of violent extremism. Surely hearts and minds are better molded by acts of kindness and love? Kindness and love encourage the same to be nurtured and grown. Violence is evil, by anyone.

Stroke - one year on exactly

It is exactly a year since I had my cerebellum bleed and operation. I am still giddy, still have difficulty with some drinks, but my limbs all work and I can eat most foods OK by mouth. At one (low) point I was told I might never, ever, eat or drink again by mouth. I still get frustrated that I am still not "right", but I guess I have come a long way and I should be grateful to have recovered as well as I have.

Peter and Linda visit

My second cousin Peter and his wife Linda called in on their way back from a wedding near Beccles today. They live in a lovely house on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon. It was really good to see them both. It is many years since we last met up.

Peter sees my brother quite often in Devon, usually when Plymouth Argyle (football) are playing at home. Peter is a keen supporter.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Stroke - thoughts

Maybe I am being unduly maudlin, but since my stroke almost a year ago I have thought about death a lot.

There is every chance that I will, given time, make a near full recovery. However, I have been far more aware of our short span and "dust to dust, ashes to ashes".  I have no idea if we survive death in some form or other. Maybe death is like before we were born - we know nothing about it. Maybe there is something. I'd like to believe that when I know I am about to die I shall be at  peace with the world and with myself. Hopefully this will be many years in the future. It is just that I nearly died a year ago and this colours one's views.

Death is not far from any of us. We normally prefer not to think about it and our finality.

Motorway speed limits? 70 or 80mph?

See .

Apparently, the government is consulting about whether or not to lift the motorway speed limit from 70 to 80mph. I am against this move. All that will happen is people will drive even faster including 40 ton lorries. Far better, in my view, that they enforced the current speed limits better. I'd be in favour of reducing the limit to 65 or 60mph , which is plenty fast enough.

Church 550 years old

Our local church has been celebrating its 550th anniversary this weekend, although parts of it go back very long time.
another 400-500 years. There has been a church on this site for a

Today they had an "open" day with exhibits, an open tower and open crypt. I was on duty guarding the chalice and other items, some of which date back to the 1500s.  Very old and still in use.

Although too wobbly to climb the tower myself, someone posted a Facebook photo showing the museum and windmill from the top of the tower today. In it, you can see our bungalow.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Stroke getting me down

My life is a continual struggle. Most of the time I am so tired it is untrue and I feel giddy when on my feet. Life is just a hazy fog.  To others I look fine, but few people, apart from the professionals, appreciate just what a daily struggle life is for me. I desperately want to be fully well again. I have now been suffering for a year. God, I want the agony of this condition to go away. I must be a pain to live with. I beg people to try to understand how I feel inside. Yes, I HATE being like this.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Pistorius not guilty

See . I hear Oscar Pistorius has been found not guilty of the murder charge but may yet face a custodial charge. Not being there, I am in no position to judge. I just hope the final verdict is fair to all involved. Clearly Pistorius fired the gun, but what s unclear is whether he intended to kill the occupant of the toilet where his girlfriend was. Even if he believed that an intruder was in the toilet, were 4 bullets needed?

Late swallows and house martins

Earlier this week I sat next to the Mere in Knutsford. Cheshire. Several swallows and house martins were seen. Most swifts have now gone south, but it was good to see so many swallows and house martins still around. There was even a nest with 3 young martins in at Little Morton Hall.

In past years I have seen house martins in the South Hams (Devon) as late as the end of October. One year there were still swallows near Salcombe, Devon as late as Dec 7th. Not living in the South Hams, I don't know how common this is i.e. this late. The return of house martins, swallows and swifts is something I welcome each year but sadly at this time of year we bid these migratory birds farewell before they fly thousands of hostile miles to lands with more plentiful insect food. With the Sahara getting bigger their migration routes are getting more and more hazardous. There seem fewer of these birds than there used to be, presumably as more die on migration.

Fare thee well little friends and see you again next spring when the cycle of life goes on, I pray. The return of these little fellows between early April to early May fills me with renewed hope and joy. I tend to have tears in my eyes when the swifts return. I pray I'll be around to see these return in the spring.
Since my stroke a year ago, these simple affirmations of the continuance of the cycle of life mean even more. I guess I am more aware of how finite our lives are.  Somehow I think Henry Williamson was right about the cycle of life.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Time to return home

Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope
After 3 nights in Goostrey, Cheshire, we traveled home today. We have both enjoyed the change a lot. Jodrell Bank was only about 1.5 miles from my brother-in-law's home and apparently is visible in winter when the trees have lost their leaves.
Our hosts - David and Rosemary
We used Virgin Trains Euston to Crewe and back and trains from Cambridge to Kings Cross. A word of warning: 35 minutes to get from Kings Cross to Euston by tube was cutting it fine, if you are disabled.
Breakfast time in Cheshire

Little Moreton Hall

Today we visited this National Trust home in Cheshire. I sat in the garden whilst my wife and the others went around the house. Splendid moated house little changed in hundreds of years .

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Pub lunch

Having a pub lunch
It was good to go out for a pub lunch today with my wife's brother and his wife. I managed to eat chicken sandwiches and drink tomato juice. Not quite normal yet but getting there!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Train ride

Later we are traveling by train to stay with my wife's brother and his wife. Should be a nice change especially for my wife.

Strictly Come Dancing

Is this a women's show? My wife seems totally blown away by this. I enjoy watching this as a background whilst doing something else. I am afraid I just cannot get that excited by this. As a teenager I enjoyed ballroom dancing, but that was a long time ago.

Scotland independence vote

See .  The outcome on the vote in Scotland on independence is anyone's guess. What I do know is that the people of Scotland will find it quite hard in the years ahead. There would be many challenges, but ultimately it is their decision.

Personally I hope they vote to stay in the United Kingdom but either way won't matter too much. England and Wales would be fine whatever the outcome.

Pure commercialism

Normally I like John Lewis: their business model is that basically the staff own the shops and bonuses are based on performance and shared by all, not shareholders, but I was appalled by their latest email. Titled, "What's hot for September" it was trying to persuade me to part with my money to "go with the fashion" this season. Sorry, but I am NOT interested. I visit their Cambridge store regularly and am perfectly able to decide what to buy based on my needs. This blatant email served no purpose in this household. Sorry John Lewis 0/10.

Likewise I get ANNOYED by daily emails from Amazon these days. Sorry, these get put into "spam" immediately and are not read.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Twice daily local walks

Every day, twice a day, I do a walk "around the block". Using my smart phone this measured 366m (just under 400yards) each time. The idea is to help me with my stroke recovery and to help improve my balance. I've used no walking aids now for months. The giddiness may be slowly improving, but progress is very very slow indeed. People who see me say how well I look!

Malaysia Airlines MH370 - mystery being solved?

See . Although "something" has been spotted on the seabed it may NOT be plane debris according to experts.Time will tell.

In the meantime, Malaysian Airlines is flying nearly empty planes, I hear, as people seem scared to use this carrier. This is a great shame.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Will it hold? Ukraine ceasefire.


I do hope the ceasefire announced for Ukraine holds. In the west we tend to hear one side of the conflict (I recall the same during the Vietnam War) so it is hard not to think the Russians are the "bad boys". I expect the truth is slightly different, although Russia has been its own worst enemy.

Whoever is right or wrong, it is better to "jaw, jaw" rather than "war, war". The fighting ultimately achieves very little. Far better to be fair and just to everyone and seek a just peace that respects all.

ENT clinic

Today I had to go back to Addenbrooke's Hospital for an examination (by camera into my throat  though my nose!) in the Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) clinic. Thankfully it did not hurt at all - I was afraid of the procedure - and the outcome was good.  My vocal chords are working correctly and the issue with my voice, according to the consultant, is the communication between my brain and my vocal chords. With time, this should get better.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Back to school

Today was the first day back at school for one of our grandsons who is 5 years old. This picture was taken earlier today. Very smart!

A little better?

Having done the gym (Active for Life) in Newmarket, I "think" I am feeling  a little better this morning. My stamina seems a little better and just maybe the giddiness is not quite as bad. We can only hope!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Each to their own?

See!bPeVS1 .

Apparently these are considered a delicacy by some!

Walk to Dalham Church

The walk up to Dalham Church from the village
When I was well (before my stroke last September), we used to do a lovely walk of about 1 hour around the village of Dalham. Today we did a walk from the village of Dalham up the hill to Dalham Church, through the long avenue of horse chestnut trees. The walk today was about 1.6km in total. Totally delightful. Dalham village is full of "chocolate box" cottages.

British Ebola patient recovering

See . The British patient who contracted Ebola in West Africa is recovering having been treated with the experimental zmapp treatment. He is no longer infectious and has been discharged from the UK hospital where he was treated in isolation.


As a result of my brain bleed nearly a year ago, I still get incredibly tired very easily if I do any physical work. This morning I vacuumed a couple of rooms and swept the kitchen floor and I was totally exhausted. People tell me this fatigue will, eventually, get better. I feel so hopeless and useless at times like this.

See .

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Boys at Whitstable, Kent

Tim. Jo and their children are having a night in Whitstable and this is a photo of our two grandsons taken when they met up with Lauren and children (our son Chris is in school today) this afternoon.

Thames Estuary airport?

 See .

For the moment, they seem to be rejecting plans for an "all new" London airport in the Thames estuary as Boris Johnson would like. It would certainly ruin bird life in the area.

The argument is that in the future existing airports,even with more runways, will not be big enough. Is that true? The arguments for a "Hong Kong" like solution for the longer term makes some sense. I doubt politicians are brave enough to make such long-term decisions. The environmental lobby will be against a new airport: in the end there may be no choice. Heathrow is a daft airport with poor access and facilities. If starting today, you would not build an airport there.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Lunch out

Lunch with Paul and Samara
For the first time in over a year (because of my brain bleed illness) we went out to friends today for lunch. Samara and Paul are lovely, kind people. They provided a great fish pie, green beans,  apple crumble and coffee, all of which I was able to eat and drink. For once, I was again able to be normal and do everyday things. Long may it continue.