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Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015

As I write this we have just under one hour to go of this year. In some parts of the world it is already the new year. For me, it has been a "challenging" year with only slow, slow improvements in my stroke. My voice is still poor, I still have problems with many drinks and I have not made the full recovery by now that I was hoping for so much. I just hope next year is better, or at the very least that I can better adapt to the "me" I am these days.

Horses at Newmarket

Newmarket, the worldwide home of horse racing, is just 4 miles away. We do most of our food shopping there - mostly in Waitrose and sometimes at Tesco. Today we drove through Newmarket and did a walk at nearby Dalham, which is a real "chocolate box" village filled with thatched cottages. A hundred and fifty years ago these would have been tithed cottages for agricultural workers living in abject and grinding poverty. These days they are worth a small fortune and they are probably homes for the well grounded. Many may be second homes for people coming to Newmarket for the races.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

All grandchildren now gone home after Christmas

Today, the last of our grandchildren went home to Kent with their mum and dad. The house now seems very quiet. At least it is tidy, although we prefer it with a slight mess and them around.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Mowing the lawns

At least 3 people were cutting their grass today, even though it was Dec 29th!  We've had the mildest December I can ever recall. 

OK, things could change to heavy snow very quickly, but if things do continue as they are, I shall be cutting our lawns all winter, which would be so different from normal.

No, so far, the extremely mild weather continues. Yesterday I did some work in the garden in my shirt sleeves.  It was not even cold!

Saturday, 26 December 2015

More on those lighter evenings

At the moment the evenings are lighter for 5 mins more at dusk than a week ago. The light follows a sine wave curve and the rate of change speeds up as we go through the winter into spring. As I said recently, the evenings are lighter by an hour at the end of January.

See http://www.timeanddate.com/sun/uk/cambridge

Friday, 25 December 2015

Lighter evenings

At long last, it is getting just a little lighter here in the evenings. For a week or so the mornings still get darker, but already the evenings are several minutes better. By the end of January the difference in the evening is almost an hour. Of course this means the year has turned again.

Christmas

I think it is partly a result of my stroke, but I find Christmas very stressful these days. Every Christmas things are expected to be calm and happy, yet I am sure that I am not alone in experiencing the opposite. Even eating the Christmas meal is a stress these days. Years ago at work I knew a couple who went camping in Scotland at Christmas. Just maybe they had the right idea?

For the little ones it is still a magical time and I'd hate to spoil it for them.

Bah humbug!

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Anglesey Abbey

We visit this local National Trust property most months. It is just 4 miles down the road. At the moment the seasons are crazy.

There are daffodils out (some were out in late November!), snowdrops, hellebores and others. Some trees are in blossom. I'd guess things are some 4-6 weeks early. Mad weather! It feels more like late February or early March than December before Christmas.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Grass mowing

So it is Dec 18th 2015 and as I write this I can hear someone cutting their lawn! Yesterday somewhere in Scotland hit over 17 deg C. The grass is still growing here - quite incredibly mild for mid-December.

I suspect the grass here will be cut later this month.  Unless we get a really cold snap, I suspect I shall be cutting the grass all year around.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Bletchley Park code breaker

Bill Tutte memorial (behind red car)
Bill Tutte was a local man (he lived near Newmarket) who worked at Bletchley Park as a code breaker during WW2.  He was probably more important than Turing, although his code breaking remained a national secret until not many years ago. The work Tutte did was used to intercept Russian traffic in the Cold War! There is now a memorial to him in Newmarket, as shown in the photo.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Fed raises interest rate

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35117405

It has started.  Gradually rates will rise across the world . People had better get ready for life when borrowing costs more. I can remember when interest rates hit 15% and mortgages were very expensive.

Pruning

At the moment it is unseasonably mild for December in the UK. Often at this time of the year it is very misty and cold but at the moment it is about 14 deg C and every chance of it getting even warmer. The grass is still growing.  

Today, in between bursts of total exhaustion (stroke after-effect), I pruned two bushes in the garden. Working outside it felt more like April than December. I also noticed quite a few bulbs pushing through. Unless we get a really cold January we will soon have daffodils in bloom in the garden. Another 2 weeks?

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

FTSE 100

At the start of the year, some commentators were predicting the FTSE 100 UK share index would end the year above 7000.  It briefly exceeded this, although currently it is below 6000. A late rally might see it end the year in the low 6000s. I think expecting it to end the year above 7000 is wishful thinking.

Getting ready for Christmas

Last year's real tree has been in the pot in the garden all year. To our surprise it has new shoots and, apart from a list (corrected by re-potting the roots when we brought it into the house) it is good for this Christmas too. The lights and decorations are now going on.

On Sunday the first grandchildren arrive. Over Christmas we'll see all the children and grandchildren.  It will be busy time, but I hope all the little ones and all their mums and dads have a lovely time.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Strictly

Actually, I watch very little reality TV but I do quite enjoy "Strictly" on BBC TV. This is a knock-out dancing competition. This year, the standard is very high and it is hard to see who will win. It is many years since I enjoyed ballroom dancing with Ann, my old girlfriend in my teens. These are distant memories now.

Climate change - progress

So all the countries at the Paris climate summit have reached agreement. This is just the start, but it shows a willingness to work towards a world which does not have dangerous warming. As someone pointed out on BBC TV this morning, the cost of choosing a non-carbon path has significantly reduced, so it is less burdensome to choose clean energy.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-35084374 .

Friday, 11 December 2015

Lunch with old friends

This lunchtime we enjoyed lunch at a local gastro pub (in the next village) with old friends who live quite close to us. The food was good as always. The friends came back to us for tea/coffee afterwards.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Poor voice

Today I had to go to Addenbrooke's Hospital for an outpatient appointment at the Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) clinic. This meant having a camera down my nose into my throat. Sadly, the diagnosis was that my poor voice is "neurological" and there is nothing that can be done to make it better. I am seeing the "main man" just in case, but it sounds like I am stuck with my poor voice unless it gets better over time. This is a blow, although at one time I was told I would never eat ever again. For the last year I've been able to eat just about anything. Moral? Never, ever give up.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Activity contests and antenna article

It must be my age!  My wife said last Tuesday "have you got a radio contest tonight?" I said, "no" thinking it was the end of November. Somehow I also read my email reminder of the 70cm UK activity contest too late last night.  So, I managed to miss both the 2m and 70cm December legs of the monthly RSGB amateur radio activity contests, thinking it was the end of November still!

Incidentally, my article on the big-wheel antenna for 2m is in the January RSGB magazine RadCom. If I had remembered, this is the antenna I would have used! It works well and is a horizontal omni with gain. Mine was very kindly erected by a fellow radio amateur David Tegerdine G0LRD, to whom I am much indebted.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Stroke exhaustion

It is perhaps surprising that well over 2 years since my stroke, I still get very exhausted so easily. We have had good old friends staying for a couple of nights and after helping to prepare lunch and washing the dishes, I was totally exhausted. After 10-15 minutes I am OK again, but anything physical or mental gets me very tired after a short time.

I guess I have to accept this is how it is going to be, although people tell me I am getting slowly better. They can see progress, although I cannot generally see it.

Sitting down  and driving are OK generally.   I find I get stressed more than I did and my instinct is to, "say it as it is". This sometimes gets me into trouble! I am sure I was more tactful in the past.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Floods

As I write this, Storm Desmond is dropping record quantities of rain over northern England and Scotland.  I can imagine little worse than having your home or business flooded out, especially at this time of the year.  My heart bleeds for those affected, who may be without homes for months and even when they get back there is the ongoing threat of it all happening again.  There is also the worry over insurance. No, flooding is going to become a major issue in the years ahead.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35019021 .

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Winter

The Met Office official "winter" is December, January and February.  To me, this makes a lot of sense. In just over 2 weeks time the evenings will start to get lighter again, although the mornings get darker still for a few more weeks. Once January has passed the nights are quite a bit lighter. By mid-February there are usually clear signs that spring is on its way. Mind you, snow is not unusual in January and February and the summer bird migrants don't usually arrive until April mainly.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Boring old fart?

I am officially a boring old fart!

Coming back from my U3AC course on the buses today I could not help overhearing the word "like" interjected many, many times in every sentence by most youngsters! Also, most under 30 years old seem to be in love with their smart phones. In days gone by we'd actually talk, but these days this would be too much to ask.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Syria

It looks likely there will be a free vote in the UK House of Commons this week on whether or not to join the coalition forces bombing targets in Syria.

As much as I hate the despicable acts being carried out, I very much doubt more bombs are the answer. All the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan seem to have the opposite effect on the number of terrorists in the world to that intended: there are now far more than before!

I am against the bombing Syria and believe a long term, fair, peace deal would achieve far more good. This will never be easy.

Small steps?

My wife tends to do the major housework on Tuesdays and I usually try to clean some windows. This morning I managed far more than before. I also managed a 200ml glass (actually a cup) of orange in 16 sips. To me, both are progress. To "normal" people these may seem trivial but if you have had a brain bleed, like me, they represent small steps on the road to recovery.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Months passing faster?

Someone said that time passes faster as you get older. It certainly seems this way. November came and went in no time at all. October was just as fast. It will soon be Christmas, January will soon go, February is a short month and before you know it there will be buds and daffodils everywhere. I am not wishing my time away, but time does seem to disappear.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Sunset

We are at the "pits" end of the year as far as sunlight is concerned, but the evenings start to get lighter from mid December here even though the mornings get darker for a few weeks more. By the end of January the evenings are getting better light-wise by almost an hour. February is a short month. It is good to think the nights will soon be getting lighter again. It may be a little different where you live.

See http://www.timeanddate.com/sun/uk/cambridge?month=12&year=2015

Family weekend

Family weekend - a typical scene
This weekend we had our "London" grandchildren here with their mum and dad. As you can see, our grandson, aged 8 years old,  decided to play dead on the rug.  They left quite late in the afternoon.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Very early daffodils

This evening we went to nearby Anglesey Abbey, a National Trust property near Cambridge, to see the winter lights. To our utter surprise there were a couple of daffodils already out. This is only Nov 28th!! This particular clump is always early, but November is just odd.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Stroke update

Things here seem to be on a plateau with no real improvements for months.

Just after breakfast seems to be my worst time, as I am always exhausted. A short sit-down rest and I am back to normal - well normal as I can be for now.

My main issues are my voice, which is still poor, liquid swallow, giddiness when on my feet and bouts of exhaustion after physical or mental exertion.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Cambridge Parks

Cambridge has several parks and, of course, the famous Backs (of the colleges) along the River Cam.
This is the park that is behind Drummer Street bus station. Most trees are now bare.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Stroke after-effects

It is true to say I am really fed up with the after-effects of my stroke. Most of the time on my feet I am exhausted and giddy. My voice is still very poor. Nobody, and I mean nobody, seems to comprehend the hell I am living through. Outwardly I look "normal" and healthy. Inside is a different matter.

All I want is for things not to totally exhaust me and not to feel so wobbly. I feel so useless inside. Sitting down on the PC is fine, but the moment I try to do anything physical or mental I am soon "done in".

It seems a long time since I was my old self.

Made in China

Today is my wife's birthday and one of her presents was a Cath Kitson 3-tier cake stand for the table. Even this is marked "Made in China". Surely suppliers can source this from the UK? It is just 3 slabs of plates, a few screws and some wood.

In the end this "Made in China" rubbish has to end. The wealth of the UK depends, in the end, in adding value and making things. They must make huge profits on this stuff. A few pence more to source from the UK would mean a few pence less profit. So?

We are addicted to goods made abroad, mostly in China. Ultimately this cannot go on for ever. The sooner we make things here again the better.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Happiness

Seen on Facebook. Written by a 92 year old lady.

Remember the five simple rules to be happy: 

1. Free your heart from hatred. 
2. Free your mind from worries. 
3. Live simply. 
4. Give more. 
5. Expect less.

Not bad advice.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Getting older

I got sent a photo of my wife and I when we were about 19. It is hard to believe just how thin we were then. Our combined weight was about 17 stone. I won't say what it is now!

In some ways those days seem like only yesterday. All our futures were before us. On the other hand, it is an age ago.

Second chance

A very moving, but uplifting, account from a Paris hostage.
See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34889539 .

"We've been given a second chance - we have to live life to the full!"

No snow

We seem to have missed the snow.  But there is a biting cold noth wind, it is dry and the sun has come out. It would not surprise me if we got a frost tonight. This would be the first time this autumn. Up to now it has been very mild.

This afternoon we are doing a walk in the village, but we will have to dress up in warm clothes.

Friday, 20 November 2015

FTSE 100 and Dow

The FTSE 100 is recovering but it would only take a successful terrorist attack in the UK or USA to send both the FTSE 100 and the Dow into a downward spiral.

UPDATE 2045z: The FTSE 100 ended the day just marginally higher on the day.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Wind

We are about to get our worst storm so far this autumn with gusts later tonight of 60mph. The worst is expected at 2200z. This is very far from the hurricanes seen in the USA and Caribbean areas. 

Nonetheless, it should help to bring down the leaves which remain on the deciduous trees. I hope no-one has to cope with floods. The garden looks its best in spring. Now most of the leaves have fallen it is starting to look bare and "winter".  Thankfully the nights start to get shorter from late December. By mid-February, even though winter, there are clear signs that spring is on the way.

Who visits?

My blog visitors puzzle me.

My amateur radio (mainly) blog gets around ten times the visits of this blog and yet people still come back here! Already today this blog has had more visits than at the weekend for the whole day. As far as I can tell, there is nothing special today. This blog is updated most days. It is usually an eclectic mix of thoughts - some days politics, others finance, family etc.

FTSE 100 well up

At the moment the UK FTSE 100 share index is up well today. Currently it is 1.64% up on yesterday. A lot can happen still. The rally could just disappear or it could end even higher.

UPDATE 1408z:  It is currently up 1.88%.

UPDATE 1750z:  The FTSE 100 ended the day up by 1.99%.

Terrorism

One of the answers to the recent spate of terrorism is to work on the false certainty of those willing to die as "martyrs".  In any religion, anyone who sets out to kill innocents would not be a martyr at all.

No, they face hell or nothingness and their actions are reduced to pure criminality. We need to understand what really motivates these individuals. They have a grievance that must run very deep.

Yes we need fair societies in all countries but violence is not the answer.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Death

This remains a total mystery. Many religions talk about "life after death" and who knows? With talk of multiverses who knows, maybe the universe is unique to us only and everyone else experiences something different. Maybe what we experience when we die is a total absence of life, much like we before we were born. The only thing we can say with any certainty is no-one really knows.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Grandchildren


Just before cutting the cake
We have been to London today for our grandson's 8th birthday party, with his cousins. The day went well. We drove there and back and managed to get back just before dark.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Leaves

At this time of the year here in the UK, sweeping up fallen leaves from the lawns is an almost endless task! We have quite gusty winds (although nothing like those in Scotland), so I expect the remaining leaves to fall soon. I spent some time this morning raking up leaves, but the rear lawn will be covered again by tomorrow.

We have an ornamental cherry that lost its leaves a few weeks ago. The silver birch was next and a copper maple on our boundary is losing leaves now. The lilac next door is dropping leaves as well. Oh the joy of seasons.

It won't be too long before the nights start to get shorter again and a new cycle of life is evident. It is good to think that the fallen leaves help to produce the strength in the new season.

I like our seasons. In each there is something good. We have had rich colours this autumn and there is something lovely about a crisp winter day with a low sun and no leaves on the trees. There is also something good about drawing the curtains early and just watching the telly. Then, before you know it, it is spring again, with breakfast sun and lighter evenings and mowing those lawns! England - still lovely.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Churches blog updated

Today we visited Moulton Church not too far from Newmarket. The East Anglian Churches blog has been updated to include this.

See  http://eachurches.blogspot.co.uk/ .

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

War propaganda

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-34781225

War - you don't know who to believe.

One thing you can be sure of is that all sides will tell lies in the name of propaganda. In the end wars fought with military might rarely really solve a conflict. In the end the only answer is to truly understand what is behind all the anger and negotiate a just peace for all.

To this day, I do not understand Israel's appalling treatment of the Palestinian people. All sides need to recognise the rights of the other side. As for Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, clearly little good is being done by wars.

I feel ashamed of the UK and USA who seem very biased in favour of Israel. We have to treat all sides equally. They are all humans like you and me.

Grandson's birthday

Our older grandson is 8 years old today. It is hard to know where the years have gone. It seems only yesterday he was born. All our grandchildren are special and each one is an individual. The youngest is 3.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

UK weather forecasts

OK, this is yet another moan about UK weather forecasts.

I checked the BBC and the local Burwell weather just 1 hour ago. Both said dry until tonight so I planned a last cut of the grass. Stepped outside to, yes you guessed, rain.

Yes I know that the UK weather is complex, but surely they can get it right just 1 hour ahead? Apparently not.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Back pain

Well, I have enough to contend with as a result of the after-effects of my stroke, but now I have a re-occurrence of lower back pain. Usually this goes within a few weeks. I am taking pain killers and I am OK if I am flat on my back. Walking is painful. My wife has given me a hot-water bottle for my back.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Grandchildren gone now

On bikes near "our" windmill
Our "London" grandchildren went home this afternoon. As with all our grandchildren, we love having them. Sadly, my stroke of 2 years ago means I can do less with them than I would have done in the past. Nonetheless, they had a great time. They enjoyed Halloween and played silly, simple games. In the picture they are enjoying bikes in our quiet close.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Moved

A few days ago I mentioned that I was now posting non amateur radio posts on my amateur radio blog which attracts far more visits than this blog.  So, don't expect this blog to be updated too regularly in future.

See http://g3xbm-qrp.blogspot.co.uk/ .

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Blog - please change your URL

After much thought, I have decided that one of my other blogs gets far more traffic, so future posts will go there instead of here. This other blog is mainly about amateur radio but posts of general interest will have, "NOT amateur radio" in the title, so general posts are clear. Of course, you are very welcome to look at other posts there too!

So, in future please look at http://g3xbm-qrp.blogspot.co.uk/  .

The UK and China

The wooing of China bothers me. This last week we have bent over backwards to "love" China. I guess this is a move to get inward investment, exports and help with our nuclear power plants. At the same time China is carrying out a sabotage job on UK manufacturing (partly of our own making) and soon we will have no industry left at all, with all our manufacturing in China or its neighbours.

No, I have the feeling this is not in our best interests at all.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34626936 .


Clocks - all change

Last night, the UK clocks went back an hour to GMT, so mornings are a little lighter for a few weeks but nights get darker sooner. It is not until the end of January that lengthening days are really noticeable, although days lengthen again around Christmas. I guess we just adapt to a more "indoor" lifestyle for the rest of autumn and winter. This autumn, the tree leaf colours are particularly good with the reds more intense than I recall. There is something good about every season in the UK. The dark nights are nice as are the very light summer evenings.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Grandson gone home

Our younger grandson has gone back to his home near Canterbury.  Dad collected him this afternoon. It was lovely to have him and we think he had a nice time with us. He is a very good little artist and interested in so much - just great.

Strictly Come Dancing

This is the only "reality" show on TV I watch. "Strictly" makes good entertainment on a cold autumn evening, with tea on a tray and a small glass of wine in front of the fire. My wife enjoys it more but I do enjoy it too. In my teenage years I enjoyed ballroom dancing, although that was a long time ago!

Friday, 23 October 2015

Park and Ride

Our young grandson and my wife at the Newmarket Road "Park and Ride"
Today we went into Cambridge to visit the Dinosaur Museum (Sedgewick Site) and John Lewis for a snack with our younger grandson. We used the "Park and Ride" bus for the last part of the journey as we can use our bus passes and it saves worrying about the city traffic and parking. In John Lewis we treated our grandson to some Lego too. At the moment I have a blue disabled badge and am able to park in the disabled spots.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Grandson here for a few days

We are lucky enough to have our younger grandson, aged 6,  staying with us. For some reason I was very tired today, but hope to be OK tomorrow. He is a very talented little boy who loves drawing. His parents pick him up on Saturday.

Today, he did some baking. Tomorrow we hope to see some dinosaur bones!

Solar Panels?

The subsidy given by the UK government drops dramatically at the end of the year. With new panels getting smaller all the time and more efficient I have decided not to bother for now. Existing panels are large and have a finite life.

I have decided to wait, especially as our electricity bill is already very low because we use LED and economy lights widely. I think the government should be doing far more to encourage the take-up of energy saving measures. This is surely a "win-win" approach?

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Tony Benn

Currently, I am reading the diaries of Tony Benn, lent to me by a friend. Tony Benn was very much on the left politically. He was well respected as an honest man even by those who were on the opposite side of the political divide. The more I read, the more I like him and his views. In the UK we have a very right wing media (papers etc.) and Tony Benn was often the person they liked to ridicule and misquote. He always "stuck to his guns" and talked much good sense. He died aged 88 of a stroke in 2014 after a long political career.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Benn .

Stroke after-effects

About 2 weeks ago I had a tummy bug. In the past, this would have hit me for a few days, but this time I feel it really "knocked me for six". I blame this on my stroke and my age. 2 weeks later I still feel unwell and tire easily. Gradually, I am improving - my appetite is back to normal, but I do hope I feel far less exhausted very soon.

This afternoon I plan to cut the front lawn, but no doubt this will tire me after about 20 minutes.

UPDATE 1307z:  Today the sun is shining, so I'd better get out in the garden soon! Tomorrow rain is forecast.

UPDATE 1451z: I managed to cut both front and back lawns, but now I am totally shattered!

Monday, 19 October 2015

UK weather

The UK weather forecasts are useless!! Today, even at lunchtime they were forecasting thick clouds this afternoon. What did we get? Blue skies and very thin clouds some of the time.

They say the UK weather is complicated, but the Met Office has spent millions on super-computers. I remain very unimpressed. It sometimes seems best to think the exact opposite to what the forecasts predict.

The USA and guns

I read today that the USA have banned Kinder Eggs to protect children. At the same time they permit automatic weapons. Such hypocrisy! All the Americans I have known have been kind, caring and generous-  lovely people.   I find this at odds with USA gun laws. The USA is a violent country but the widespread ownership of guns surely makes people less safe than those places where guns are rare.

Anglesey Abbey

Anglesey Abbey today
This afternoon we went to Anglesey Abbey, a National Trust place about 4 miles from home. There were plenty of signs of autumn, with many of the trees in spectacular colours. This autumn the colours have been particulary good. I am not sure why this is.

Some trees are still green, but many are changing. A few good gales and the trees will soon be bare for winter.

Quiet day

I am still not feeling fully back to normal following my stomach bug. I think this really did hit me. My immune system must be relatively poor. On top of the stroke after-effects I think I really suffered.

Today, my wife has her U3A course in Cambridge so I have had a fairly quiet morning so far. I shall prepare lunch later and there are a few household jobs to do, but I think one has to "listen to one's body". At the moment it is telling me to go easy and don't do too much.  I expect I shall soon be back to my new "old self".

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Apathy

I get appalled by the level of apathy in some people.

As many of you know, I was brought up as a child in Salcombe, Devon. Nowadays Salcombe is the most expensive seaside place in the whole country. The majority of homes are "second homes" and empty for much of the year. Locals struggle to afford places to live.

And yet....

When planning applications come up it is very unusual for locals to object. I write to the planning people but it seems I am a lone voice. Actually I don't know why I bother. If the locals are not prepared to use their democratic voice and if they don't care why should I? It seems apathy will result in Salcombe becoming a ghost town. Soon they will wake up to no bank, no post office, a very poor bus service and all tradesmen living elsewhere. I can see the writing on the wall, but it seems the locals do not care.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Autumn in the garden

The back garden in autumn
Gradually, the gardens are taking on a more autumnal look. The sunflowers have passed, the apples are ripening next door, we have harvested our crab apples and taken in the sunshade for the winter ahead.  Every season has something good about it and this year the autumn colours are splendid.

Electric Cars

Electric cars have been on sale for years but today I saw my first electric car in use. This was a Nissan Leaf. To me the electric car is not the best solution. The range, even with new batteries, is quite low. Battery technology is still poor and huge batteries are needed to get quite modest ranges.

Although politically a "good idea", I feel we will see better solutions. Maybe this will be hydrogen fuel cells or power buried in the roads and paid for by the actual amount used? The latter would reduce the weight of batteries. Even with large subsidies, electric cars are expensive. We definitely need a clean, efficient alternative to petrol and diesel cars but I am not convinced by today's electric cars.

I watch the next few years with interest and wonder what motorists will be driving in 20-30 years' time.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Old shortwave interval signals

See http://dl.dropbox.com/u/15047843/SWintervalsigs.mp3

As a child, I enjoyed making simple shortwave receivers and listening to broadcast stations from around the world. These were the days long before the internet and emails. Hearing stations from across the planet was magical. Most broadcasters used interval signals to say who they were. These are some from that time. Nostalgia!

Hearing some of these sends a tingle down my spine.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

FTSE 100 share index

The FTSE 100 share index fell earlier, but seems to be staging a recovery. It may even end the day slightly up. There is still over an hour of trading left and a few shocks could change that! At the moment (1634 BST) it is down about 0.3%.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business/markets/europe/lse_ukx .

Monday, 12 October 2015

Out the other side?

Last week, I had a nasty stomach bug. On top of my stroke after-effects, this really knocked me for six. Although the stomach troubles ended last week, I am still feeling "low" (tired, emotional and generally unwell) as a result of it. At long last, I feel that it is drawing to an end and I am returning to my new "old self". In the past this might have been a 48 hour bug, but in my present state I guess it takes much longer.  I've been lucky in that this is the first time since my stroke 2 years ago that I have been "ill". In many ways, I have been lucky. I still feel giddy when walking and drinks are still not right, but (when I don't have a stomach bug) I feel less tired than I did.

I just want my usual speaking voice back please!

Grass cutting

We are now clearly in autumn and the leaves are starting to fall. Today, I cut our front lawn (rear later all being well) but the intervals between cuts is lengthening as the grass is growing less. One, maybe two, more cuts and that should be it until the spring arrives. I usually give it a small tidy-up if needed on a dry winter's day.

The first cut of spring is usually March. The grass grows very slowly in winter. Unless we get a really cold snap, I don't think the growing totally stops. By January I get frustrated as the grass starts to look untidy. It always looks better after being cut. In the meantime, nights draw in and we have the pleasures of cosy nights in. There is something good in every season.

As Melanie Reid said in The Times on Saturday (she is tetraplegic since a riding accident in April 2010) there are those that live and those that live in fear. We are not in control, despite our best efforts, so let us all try to be with those who live and embrace all life.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Lifeboat Disaster Book

100 years ago next October, there was a disaster when 13 of the crew of the Salcombe lifeboat were lost at sea. One of my aunties  (Aunty Kitty) remembered this when she was a child. The RLNI has a book out about the disaster. In those days these brave men rowed out in very rough seas

See http://rnli.org/NewsCentre/Pages/Salcombe-RNLI-Launch-1916-Lifeboat-Disaster-Book.aspx .

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Give me a Nadiya

If you live in the UK and have a TV then the chances are you saw Nadiya, the 30 year old mother of 3 from Leeds, win "The Great British Bake Off" last night. She was the delightful girl who wore the world on her face and in her eyes. Her expressions of sadness and joy were just wonderful. She deserved to win, although they were all good.

All day my wife has been saying, "give me a Nadiya" whenever I have been pathetic with my stomach bug. Perhaps this will become an expression?

Wouldn't it be good if our politicians could let their guards down and show us the real people behind their facades? Go on David Cameron, "give us a Nadiya".

UK FTSE 100 up again

After a dodgy start, the FTSE 100 share index is up yet again this lunchtime.A lot could still happen: it could go yet higher or collapse later.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business/markets/europe/lse_ukx  .

Wanting to die?

At one time I could never understand this.

I have had the after-effects of a stroke for 2 years now and these last few days I have had a nasty stomach bug. Right now I feel truly "shite".  I really ought to go back to bed.

Although I am sure I'll soon feel quite a lot better, I can understand how some people, when their bodies are old and exhausted, just "throw in the towel" and say they have had enough of life.  Some patients with very high pain levels must feel like this. This is sad, but now I understand.

No doubt tomorrow I shall feel much better. Onwards and upwards. There is still a lot of living to enjoy in me yet!

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

IMF warns of stagnation

See http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/oct/06/imf-warns-stagnation-threat-g7-economies .

OK this is the Guardian and it is a paper of the left, but this is worrying.

The growth in the west is not based on firm foundations. For a long time I have advocated living within our means and not on borrowed money at low interest rates. This will not last.

At some point debts have to be paid.

FTSE 100 up again

It looks like the UK FTSE 100 share index will finish above 6300 today. At the moment it is clawing back earlier losses, but nothing would surprise me. The market wants over 7000 by the year end, but it could fall apart and end the year end below 5000.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Russian air strikes in Syria

Well, I have mixed feelings over these. It would be much better if Russia and the USA would agree who the real enemy is and sort things out. This is the first Russian air action since WW2 outside of the old USSR I believe. Russia clearly wants to be seen in the Middle East. It is also looking to Syria for forward bases in the region.

Devon webcam at Hope Cove

If you like to watch webcams, you may like this one at Hope Cove in S.Devon. It says the webcam is in Salcombe, which is total rubbish. For some reason it has been a bit intermittent of late. There are lots of others you can view in Devon. Usually there is a good view down towards the old lifeboat station at Hope Cove and the waves crashing on the beach. There is also a flag that gives a good idea of how windy it is there.

Hope Cove is where my ancestors lived in the 1500s.

See http://www.camsecure.co.uk/SalcombeHopeCove.html  .

FTSE 100 well up currently

At the moment, the UK share index known as the FTSE 100 is over 2% higher on the day. A lot can happen in the remaining hours of trading, but it is doing its best to claw back losses of the last month or so. It is following European, US and Far Eastern markets that all showed gains.

UPDATE 1337z:   Currently up 2.25% on the day.

U3A courses

One of the better things about getting older is being able to learn just for fun. My wife started her U3A course in Cambridge today and mine is on Wednesday. We are very lucky in Cambridge as we have a huge range of courses to choose from. Some are academic, some sports etc. There is something for everyone. I think the U3A (University of the Third Age) branch in Cambridge is somehow separate from U3A. In Cambridge it is known as U3AC (University of the Third Age in Cambridge).

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Even later swallows!

Well, this is extraordinary. Today along the River Cam, about 5 miles from Cambridge, I saw 3 more young swallows. It is Oct 4th 2015 today and this is weeks later than I have seen these locally before. There are quite a few in Devon still but this is late for up here. Maybe it is because I am looking for them or these young birds are totally thrown by our mild,warm spell? Anyway, I was very pleased to see them today. There was no doubt that these were swallows, by their appearance, flight and movement in the air.

Burwell Museum

As one of the volunteers was unable to attend today, my wife and I shared the 11-2pm slot on the kiosk at our local museum today. The museum is excellent.

As we live right next door it is easy for us to pop across if we are free. All our grandchildren love it and want to go every time they stay with us.

See http://www.burwellmuseum.org.uk/ .

Israel and Palestine

In my view violent actions rarely result in long-term peace. No doubt the Israeli reaction to recent violence will be yet more violence.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-34435197 .

The Benn Diaries

Tony Benn was a UK politician on the left politically. He was often hated for his views. Reading his diaries I am even more impressed. He comes across as an honest man, who was often wrongly pilloried by a press that is right wing. No, my views on Tony Benn have not been changed. His views deserve respect and a fair treatment. Although many may chose to disagree with his views you cannot fault his commitment and honesty. I am about 3/4 the way through the first of 2 books of his diaries.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

South Creake

Yesterday we visited South Creake church in north Norfolk. I have updated the church blog. This is a fine church - light and airy inside.

http://eachurches.blogspot.co.uk/

Football - Plymouth Argyle

A few years ago this would be the stuff of dreams but this evening Plymouth Argyle are TOP of League Division 2. Keep this up and they could even be promoted at the end of the season. Lots of games to go and a lot can happen, but how fortunes are transformed! It is years since I last saw them play live, but at one time they were my local club. I wish them well.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/teams/plymouth-argyle .

Farewell Denis Healey (98)

You have to be over a certain age to remember Denis Healey in his heyday. He died today at the ripe old age of 98.  At one time he was a key player in the Labour government. These days there are very few like him in any UK political party. He will be missed. He was famous for his big eyebrows too. Who can forget the Spitting Image take-off of him!

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34434378 .

Friday, 2 October 2015

Late late swallows

A surprise today was seeing 2 late (for this part of the world) swallows at Little Walsingham in North Norfolk.  I was not expecting these at all.  I am pretty sure this is the latest I have ever seen these in East Anglia (Oct 2nd). They were probably a late brood and no doubt our settled warm weather is leading to some confusion!  I am sure that if you actively look for these you will see a few stragglers but most have now left.   A few sharp frosts will soon trigger them to get a move on and head south on their long migration.

Little Walsingham is a delightful north Norfolk village a few miles south of the north Norfolk coast. Lots of the cottages have flint rendering, which is common in north Norfolk.

There are a few religious shrines in the village and a few shops selling terrible "religious tat". These include gaudy statues, probably made in a sweat shop in China. Someone is making fat profits on this rubbish. I honestly cannot believe intelligent people actually buy these, but they must. Thankfully, Little Walsingham is still a lovely Norfolk village and these few kitsch shops do not spoil it.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Free market?

I have mixed views over "the free market".  In many ways I think too much competition is a bad thing, leading to silly prices e.g. for milk here in the UK. I still feel competition in essential services like transport and energy is daft. Yes, I know, competition is in some ways good, but why should shareholders make profits? Surely, we the taxpayers should be the shareholders? I know this very left wing, but to me it seems "right".

On the other hand, competition can bring overpriced goods down to reasonable levels. There has been a recent example where an overpriced Japanese radio transceiver has already dropped from £1299 to £991 as a result of competition. Dealers were not passing on the recent improvements in the exchange rate.  Each was happy to cream off profits, at the expense of the consumer, until competition encouraged the price to fall. I think a price war is inevitable.

Windmill


They are busy re-tarring the sides of "our" windmill next door. It looks good. The colour is black which makes the white sails and cap stand out. Currently they have a problem with the cogs that mean the sails cannot be rotated by the wind to grind corn.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Late swallows

Today we went for a walk around Wicken Fen and afterwards we ate at the "Maid's Head" in Wicken village. We went all around the boardwalk route and got back in the car when we saw 4 swallows overhead and quite close. This, I think, is the latest time I've seen swallows up here in East Anglia. I have seen them much later in Devon, but most have gone south by now.

As I get older I keep thinking this might be the last time I ever see a swallow in my lifetime. With luck, I shall see them return again in the spring and for many more springs yet to come, but there is something comforting in this cycle of life that will continue long after I return to dust. Many do a 12000 mile round trip and often return to the very same site to nest. Remarkable. My heart sings when I see the first bird migrants back in the spring. I am sure my ancient ancestors, now long dead, watched in amazement just the same.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Trident Nuclear Subs

Although I suspect Jeremy Corbyn will result in Labour not winning the next UK General Election, I agree with him 110% over Trident. What a total waste of money this is! The total cost of replacing Trident is estimated as £100 billion. Would we be any safer than, say, Denmark or Italy? No, of course not.  Much better to use this money to make defences against 21st century threats such as terrorism, cyber crime and the like. No Trident is a stupid, stupid waste of money! My opinion and proud to hold it.

Friday, 25 September 2015

FIFA

The world of soccer is in turmoil. Now we hear Sepp Blatter is being investigated. I have no idea if he is guilty or innocent (he claims he is an honest man) but FIFA seems to be another word for "corruption".  Recent decisions on World Cup venues have been controversial.  The sooner FIFA is able to make a fresh start the better.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34363289 .

Saudi Hajj deaths

With 717 reported dead after the Saudi Hajj stampede, there are lots of unanswered questions. There were about 2 million people there so the authorities will have had a job keeping order. Nonetheless, this is a real tragedy.

FTSE 100 up on the day

The UK stock index, the FTSE 100, ended 2.47% higher today. So far this year has fallen around 10% but, barring a real meltdown in China and a resurfacing of the Greek issue, I suspect it will regain some of the lost ground later in the year. Nothing is certain though. Basically, the UK economy is recovering after the crash and traders are "willing" it higher.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

VW - in deep ****

Well it looks like VW have got themselves in deep deep ****. OK, they may have defences (for their own good I really hope they have) but to the casual observer it looks as if the Company is in a real mess legally. Who in their right mind would deliberately cheat? Surely they knew the consequences if found out? This looks like corporate suicide. They were fools - no ifs, no buts.

7 inch x 5 inch glossy photo paper

I have just bought 30 sheets of 7 x 5 inch glossy photo paper via Amazon for £1.38 including 99p delivery. This is an incredible bargain. For this price it is hard to go wrong. Even if the paper turns out to be rubbish it is far less than a cup of coffee in a cafe.

Saudi Arabian deaths yet again

Many are reported killed in the latest tragedy in Saudi Arabia. This comes on top of the recent disaster when a crane toppled over killing and injuring many Muslim pilgrims.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-34346449 .

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

VW head man resigns

The BBC is reporting that the chief executive at Volkswagon has resigned. He had little choice and could still be in deep legal trouble in the USA. I would have thought that the entire board at VW could face prison in the USA. To be caught cheating is simply unacceptable corporate behaviour.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-34340997 .

House Martins at Anglesey Abbey today

Well, there are still house martins around. We saw at least 6 this afternoon at Anglesey Abbey. These may be the stragglers or young ones. They will soon be gone to warmer climes. We also heard long tail tits and saw a buzzard.

The grounds here are very large and there is always something to see at any time of the year. The picture shows pompoms hung in trees made from old dahlia heads. They dig up the dahlia bed Oct 4th. The dahlias have been splendid for a couple of months.

More on the brewing VW (and others?) scandal

At the last count 11 million VW cars are involved. VW are in trouble big time and it is all their own fault. The executives and many at the top will rightly have to "carry the can" for this mess up. Surely, they had no need to blatantly cheat?

Sorry, but I have absolutely no sympathy for this unethical business behaviour. They deserve to suffer for deliberately deceiving the public and the testers. It would not surprise me if some senior executives get lengthy prison sentences.

As investigations continue, I expect we will hear of others (not VW) involved in similar cheats.  I have no sympathy as there is absolutely no place for unethical "carrying ons" like this in the 21st century. VW should have been above this sort of behaviour. They got caught cheating and have to take the consequences. This means money and prison.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-34332452 .

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

VW - if reports are correct they should have known better

Assuming the reports in the media that VW cheated in emissions tests are correct, all I can say is they must be stupid and they should have known better. If the reports are correct this is a scandal and is unforgivable. VW should be banned in the USA for this unethical behaviour. Heads will roll, but at a corporate level they should not have cheated. Bad, bad, bad on their part. Almost unbelievable from VW.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-34325005 .

FTSE 100 well down

When I last looked (about 11.25am UK time) the FTSE 100 share index was down over 2% on the day at 5972.09. It would not surprise me if it goes lower still. We are in turbulent times. The recent Greek elections and China continue to weigh heavily on the markets.

UPDATE 4.38pm UK time:  The FTSE 100 is down 2.51%. 

UPDATE 4.43pm UK time:  Meanwhile shares in my old company Sepura are up on the day at 174p each. 

UPDATE 4.57pm UK time: The FTSE 100 is even lower, down 2.83% on the day so far. I expect tomorrow it will rise?

Swallows - not quite gone yet

This morning, there were 6 swallows feeding over the allotments about 200m from our house. These may have been passing through and getting a good feed before the very long journey ahead.

Fair thee well and see you in April, if nature is willing.

Monday, 21 September 2015

China

Today I heard the Chinese are selling a rip-off of the RaspberryPi called the OrangePi.

Before long, all our consumer and professional goods will be "Made in China". China is still a low cost manufacturing area and we are happy for them to have low wages and sweat-shop working conditions which would not be accepted here.

We complain about their pollution yet are happy to pay low costs for underpants, fridges and everything. Nothing, it appears, is made in the West.

As the Chinese get richer they will expect better working conditions and will refuse to be sweat-shop fodder. When this time comes China will become another Japan. No doubt, we will look to other countries with sweat-shops and low costs: we are addicted to low costs.

In the end this cannot be compatible with "living within our means". Our low costs for borrowing will end and we will catch a cold. The only answer, in the longer term, is to bring back manufacturing to the West and pay realistic prices. The writing is writ large on the wall. China is gradually ruining the West and we are all fools to be so taken in. Sadly, it is very hard to fight.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Migrant birds

Around this time most of our summer migrant birds are heading south for warmer weather and more insects. Most swifts will have gone now to return here at the end of April or the start of May next year.

Today I saw a swallow and that may be the last this year. Some young birds may be around for a few weeks and it is just possible some may remain in South Devon and South Cornwall all year. Just a few may survive on the coast where there may be insects near seaweed all year. I once saw some swallows in South Devon on Dec 7th but that is very late. No, most are now gone to return next spring, at least gone from East Anglia. Some travel thousands of miles all the way to South Africa - a truly remarkable journey -  often returning to the very same next site they left. Quite remarkable.

The migration of birds is almost miraculous. I am sorry to see them leave but my heart is always glad when they return.

Of course, to some birds we are seen as warm! The Whooper and Bewick swans join us for our winter as do the fieldfares and redwings.

Waxwing
If really lucky, we might even see a waxwing. I keep looking but have failed so far. Some winters there are thousands, but I have not been lucky, as yet. They are often seen on berries in supermarket car parks. You just have to be in the right place at the right time.

See http://www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/discoverandlearn/birdguide/name/w/waxwing/ .

There is something good in every season.

UPDATE 1750z:  There were 2 swallows overhead in the pleasant afternoon sunshine.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Burwell Museum and Windmill

Burwell Museum now includes the restored windmill. Entirely manned by volunteers it is a truly exceptional museum and there is so much to see and do. Our grandchildren love going there. Luckily we live right opposite the windmill and can see it when we eat our meals!

See http://www.burwellmuseum.org.uk/ .

Several updates to the East Anglian Churches blog

Today we visited the delightful Norfolk town of Hingham with its greens and fine Georgian houses. We ate lunch at the Lincoln Tea Shoppe and Bistro which is across the main Norwich-Watton road from the church and just off Fairgreen. Onthe way there and back we visited several churches and I have updated the church blog to include this.
Earlier this week we returned to Dalham church so I have updated the entry last February for Dalham too.

See http://eachurches.blogspot.co.uk/ .

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Stroke

Stroke - I am still finding things out. The latest revelation seems to be an inability to realise when spellings are wrong. In the past I could easily tell when things were wrong but sometimes it is days before I spot a spelling mistake or that a word is missing.

I also struggle with words - I just cannot bring to mind the right word. I know this did not happen before. I have been struggling since Saturday for one word. I still cannot recall the right word! FRACTAL! Now I have looked it up I shall probably remember it. It is almost as if dragging things up from some parts of my brain is harder than it was.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Jeremy Corbyn elected Labour leader

You either love him or hate him it seems. Jeremy Corbyn has been elected as the new UK Labour leader by a huge majority that would not have been believed just a few months ago.

I cannot see his left wing views finding favour with the voting public and I cannot see Labour regaining government at the next General Election due in 2020. He has radical views (very left wing). Personally, I think some of his ideas are good ones. We live in interesting times.

After WW2 a very left wing government was elected (ousting Churchill) and introduced the NHS and nationalised the mines and the railways. Who can tell what people will want in 2020? Maybe when Cameron leaves office we will see a big swing to the left?

Churches blog updated

Last week we visited Blythburgh and Ufford Churches. I have updated the East Anglian Churches blog to include these. I may add further photos later.

See http://eachurches.blogspot.co.uk/ .

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Yet another stroke artifact?

Something else I have noticed is I find it harder to spot spelling mistakes. In the past spelling mistakes were obvious: words just shouted out as wrong, but these days I find I struggle more to even realise the spelling is wrong. Sometimes it is my keyboard but more often it is my inability to spot the error. This is I'm sure an after-effect of my cerebellum brain bleed and not old age.

Also, I tend to forget some things. I may have posted something along these lines before! If so, you may have read this already in the last few months - please accept my apologies. Thankfully, my intellect is still sharp.

Aldeburgh trip

Cottage next to Ufford Church
Today we went to Aldeburgh on the East Coast of East Anglia. We stopped at Snape Maltings for lunch and stopped at Ufford Church on the way there and Blythburgh Church on the way home. Both are famous. At Aldeburgh we saw the famous shell sculpture on the beach. Some hate it, but it is quite dramatic. I like it. It stands about 4m high. At 154 miles, round trip, this was my longest drive since my stroke. At the end I was tired, but it was a lovely day in the September sunshine.  The drive to Devon (where I come from) should be doable with a break on the way there and back.
Sculpture on beach at Aldeburgh, Suffolk, UK
See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldeburgh .


Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Longest reigning monarch

Later today the UK queen will beat Queen Victoria as the longest reigning monarch in British history. I have mixed views on monarchy: it seems to work here (at least with the current queen who is well respected) and I cannot readily think who would be president if we were a republic. Yet somehow the idea of rank and privilege grates on me: why should someone be queen just because her "line" is royal?  No,  I think our queen has served us well, but I have mixed views on the monarchy as a concept.

UPDATE 1856z:  It is official.  The present queen is the longest reigning British monarch of all time.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Syria needs fixing!

I am no politician, but Syria is being torn apart by civil war. An end to the conflict has to be ironed out or the deaths and displacement of millions will go on. The refugee crisis now unfolding is a symptom of the deep unrest in that troubled nation.

It is high time the major powers (USA and Russia in particular) worked together with all sides to forge a fair and lasting peace. No vested interests please, just the well being of all the people in Syria.

It still puzzles me why not a single Gulf state has taken any Syrian refugees.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Butterfly


This morning we did a walk at nearby Anglesey Abbey (NT).  I think this butterfly was dying as it allowed me to get very close indeed without moving. It was on a bush in the herbaceous border.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Weather

According to the Met Office records we had 10% more rain last month than average for August. We seem to have had a very dull summer here with few settled periods:  we seem to have had a few good days followed by rain and yet more rain. We seem to have had no big blocking high pressure systems that give good weather for several weeks.  Maybe we will see this in the autumn?

Thursday, 3 September 2015

China and the FTSE 100

Despite the bad times in China that are rocking markets around the world, the UK FTSE 100 share index is currently up 2.11%. It seems like it wants to recover lost ground but is being held back.

My own view is that what is happening in China is deadly serious and we are heading for another huge crash that, especially for the average Chinese, will make the Wall Street Crash of 1929 seem tame. This could result in revolution in China and real turmoil over there. We will not come out of this unscathed. The world is just shutting its eyes and pretending it is "business as usual". It is not! 

The age of low cost imports from China is gradually ending and the world has to adjust. No doubt sweat shops in other poorer countries will replace China, but personally I hope it means more real manufacturing in the EU and USA.  At the moment almost everything you buy is "made in China".

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Mr Cameron

Yet again Mr Cameron talks out of his backside WRT refugees. We should be doing our part alongside the rest of the EU to help genuine refugees. Does he REALLY expect the rest of the EU to be on his side when thinking of changes ahead of the referendum? He is doing everything to alienate most EU countries.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

More spooking by China

This afternoon the FTSE 100 share index is down by around 3.5%. The main reason is weak economic data from China. The markets are getting clear signals that China's economy is far from healthy and this is well and truly spooking the markets. It could still fall further in later trading.

More stroke artifacts

Yet another stroke artifact seems to be an inability to spot spelling mistakes as easily as before. Sometimes it takes me ages to think how a word is spelt (or is it spelled?). Often it is hours (or days) later that I notice the mistake! In writing this short piece I made at least one mistake whilst writing it.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Singing for the UK Prime Minister

This evening we are off to a concert in Ely Cathedral and this reminded me of the occasion many years ago when my wife was singing a choral concert in the same venue when the Prime Minister of the day, John Major, turned up! He was surrounded by bodyguards and wanted to just be "ordinary" but the committee insisted he got front row seats! His daughter was playing in the orchestra.

The Cambridgeshire Choral Society starts rehearsals for the new season later this month. You are welcome to join. Men are especially welcome.

House quiet again

All the grandchildren have now gone home and the house is quiet again. It was lovely to have seen them all in the last 10 days. Having them is great, but we do get tired these days! Would I have it any different? No. We love them all.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Blair - oh, DO shut up

As if anybody would pay good money to hear what this "left wing" (so called) politician has to say. He is rumoured to earn £150k for just one after dinner speech.

Yet again he is telling us all that Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable. At least Mr Corbyn has guts. No, Mr Bliar, shut up - you had your chance and showed your true colours later. I am afraid I trust Mr Corbyn a lot more than you. Who can say what the electorate may want in 5 years' time? I have not voted Labour for several years but like what Mr Corbyn has to say. Maybe a strong left winger and left leaning party is what we will need?

Simple pleasures

It is surprising how the simplest of things give pleasure. Today, for example, our "London" grandchildren took great pleasure in collecting conkers and helping to make tarts with the blackberries collected yesterday.

This evening I enjoyed yet another game of chess with our 7 year old who this morning wanted to vacuum clean the house! No it is often the simplest things that we, and they, remember.

The photo shows them helping in the back garden before lunch.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Daddy-long-legs

It is that season again with lots of spiders in the house and plenty of daddy-long-legs. Luckily neither worry me. In fact, I quite like both.

One year we had 15 daddy-long-legs in our bedroom! I love the way these creatures just bumble around bumping into everything.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Yet more stroke after-effects

This morning my wife was talking about a road in our village. I could not remember at all where this road was. Most things I remember well, but it was as if this part of my memory has been erased. I am pretty sure this is yet another artifact of my stroke and nothing else. Of course, I wonder what else is missing! I need triggers to jolt my memory. Oddly, since the jolt this morning I have had no problem at all remembering where this road is. It is as if I needed the jolt to recall the memory.  Another thing: I seem to be far more emotional than before. Things that would not have made me tearful can bring on the tears nowadays. I am sure this is my stroke. Overall, I still feel giddy, still have problems with many thin drinks and certain things still exhaust me. To others I look perfectly well, whereas inside I still feel very poorly. In many ways if I looked less well I might be better understood.

More on the climbing FTSE 100

The FTSE 100 share index here in the UK recovered further today, presumably based on better short-term news out of China.

UPDATE 2004z:  The FTSE 100 ended the day well up, climbing 3.56% on the day.  People seem to think the crisis in China is over. Think again.  As they say, "we ain't seen anything yet". Batten down the hatches we are all in for a very rough ride. This will make 1929 look like a walk in the park.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

FTSE 100 recovering?

It is too early in the day to be sure, but at the moment the FTSE 100 index is well up on the dramatic falls seen yesterday.

China is still spooking the stock markets around the world. Investors are worried by the slower growth in China and are wondering if its engine is losing steam and the impact this will have on the world. Lots of us are dependent on China as big pension funds may have invested heavily in China.

Monday, 24 August 2015

East Anglian Churches - blog updated

Last week we called at delightful Aylsham in north Norfolk on our way to Blickling (NT). We visited the church there and I have updated our East Anglian Churches blog.

See http://eachurches.blogspot.co.uk/

Summer?

Unless we get an Indian Summer I think we have now seen the best of the summer weather. There has been no prolonged good weather all summer. Today it feels much cooler and there are 3 lows waiting to drop rain on us. We have had heavy rain over parts of the UK today. A few years ago we had our best weather all year in early October.

Park and Ride services

It always puzzles me why some local authorities make it cheaper to park in the centres of busy cities than use Park and Ride services, when provided. Park and Ride services should be priced so that they are always the less expensive option otherwise why bother?

Another stroke side-effect?

Another after-effect of my cerebellum brain bleed seems to be a degree of lack of inhibition. Sometimes this is seen as being tactless,  and this may be so, but maybe I see things "as they are" more clearly now and am prepared to express this? There is no doubt this gets me in to trouble at times.  In many social situations it is better to say nothing than the wrong thing.

BTW, I am on no medication for my stroke, just statins which I have taken for years which keeps my cholesterol in good limits with no side effects that I am aware of at least.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

BBC loses Met Office as weather forecast provider

Next year, the BBC will no longer use the Met Office for its weather forecasts. I have no idea who they will use instead. I very much doubt the forecasts will be any better, but at least they will be able to buy better seaweed.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Brunch at our local farm shop

All being well, we hope to treat our "Kent" grandchildren to brunch at La Hogue later this morning.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Grandchildren

This weekend we have our younger son from Kent and his family staying. The grandchildren are still very little and quite a handful! Later next week we have our "London" grandchildren staying. Quite a week.

FTSE 100 well down today

The FTSE 100 is down to close to its lowest point for a year. Maybe, just maybe, things will recover a bit next week, but this looks serious. Personally, I think it will fall well below 6000 before we see any recovery.

The markets now have a new worry on top of all the other worries - a snap election in Greece. What with the slow down in China, the risk we in the UK will leave the EU, falling oil prices, there is a lot of uncertainty around. This spooks the stock market.

As someone famous once said," you ain't seen anything yet".

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Starlings

We live right next to a restored windmill which is almost 200 years old. As I write this the starlings are gathering on the windmill sails. I think they congregate on the windmill before heading off to a roost. At the moment there are about 40 birds, but sometimes I can see more than 100. At one time starlings were quite rare, but we see a fair few!

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_starling .

Sepura shares up today

Despite the falling FTSE 100 share index, I see that shares in my old Company, Sepura, are well up today.

Sepura makes and sells TETRA digital radios which are sold worldwide mainly to public safety organisations. They also sell DMR radios.  Since I left, many years ago now, the shares have done well and have risen a lot.

Maybe it was me going?

FTSE 100 - further falls

It has fallen even further and I am sure it will go even lower before we see any recovery. When I last looked it was down 0.51% on the day and well below its peak of 7103 earlier this year. Stock markets are OK in the longer term.

UK weekend weather - take your pick

Yet again the Met Office here in the UK really has no idea of the weather this weekend. OK I know our weather patterns are "hard", but the best forecast seems to be to look at the forecast and assume the exact opposite! With all the super-computers and remote weather stations I expect better.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Alibris vouchers

In the past I have bought several second hand books via this company, but I wonder if they are in trouble? Just about every day I get an email offering money off. I have never used these knowing that tomorrow there will be yet another offer.

UPDATE 20th Aug 2015:   Yes, you guessed, yet another discount offer in the email today. Nearly every day I get these offers. This company seems to be best choice for second hand books with lots of suppliers to choose from on their books. I hope they do not go out of business. The book business is tough at the moment, but I am surprised if Alibris is in trouble too.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Stroke update

My cerebellum brain bleed was in September 2013.  This is nearly 2 years ago.

I am so fed up with my stroke symptoms, although I know I came off better than many. One person my wife knows was a teacher and only 49. He has been left very disabled. Likewise Michael Schumacher who, I understand, is a shadow of his former self since his head injury whilst skiing.

Me? Well I can still only take liquids in small sips, my voice is still very poor and I feel giddy all the time when on my feet. I still get exhausted doing physical or mental tasks taking over 15-20 minutes. My wife tells me I am far less tactful than I was: in the past I would have been more careful, whereas I tend to say it "as it is" nowadays and often regret it later. I blame this on my brain. Honestly, I have no wish at all to hurt anyone, but I know some of the things I have written have hurt others, which has never been my intention.

On the positive side I seem to be less tired than I was, but I still have a way to go. I now enjoy cheese again and I can drink (and taste) most liquids, albeit very slowly. I can eat most foods. The occasional beer is nice. I enjoy eating out again and can drive, although I find this tiring and needs lots of concentration.

I am not someone who gives up without a fight, but maybe some of these symptoms will always be with me?  I do hope not and so much want to be as I once was. I miss being fit.

Bangkok blast

Violence must be carried out by very desperate people who feel they have no options left. In my mind, violence achieves lots of heartache and no lasting good.

In Bangkok there are lots of dead and for what good? Likewise in Syria and Gaza, lots of people made homeless and deeply saddened.  No, I am sure all the problems of this world could have peaceful solutions if only all sides were honest and open minded. It seems many don't want peaceful outcomes.

Media reports suggest as many as 27 people have been killed and many badly injured.

FTSE 100 down 10%

This year, the FTSE 100 share index has fallen around 10%. It will rise again, although I am not sure shares have finished falling yet. Economics is cyclical and we have had a good few years since the very bad times.  Next year, it is likely we will see interest rates start to rise again. They have been low for a very long time now.

It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that we could be in to a few hard years. Greece and China continue to worry investors. If we are in for a dip then the FTSE could fall below 6000. At its peak it was over 7100 early this year. If in for the long haul, the FTSE 100 will come back, but it might be a few years away. Being fickle though, it could be over 7000 again next month!

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Tact (or lack of it)

Nearly 2 years after my cerebellum brain bleed and I am still coming to terms with some of the subtler after-effects. My wife tells me I lack tact now whereas before I was far more sensitive to others.  If I have ever offended you in the past (or do so in the future) I certainly do not intend this. Please accept my most humble apologies and blame it on my brain!

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Aylesham and Blickling, Norfolk

Today we did a 135 mile round-trip to Aylesham and Blickling in north Norfolk. We ate a light lunch in The Old Tearoom in Aylesham (this is our 3rd time here) before visiting the market square and church where they were celebrating VJ Day later.
Just outside Blickling - archetypal English scenery
Blickling Estate (National Trust) has fine grounds and gardens and was where Prime Minister Baldwin first heard about Edward VIII's affair with American divorcee Mrs Simpson. These days no-one would bat an eyelid but in the 1930s things were different. The house and estate were transferred to the National Trust in 1937.

On the lake was a great crested grebe with 3 chicks. Blickling has fine yew hedges on the approach to the house. If I was fit, there are lots of decent walks around the grounds. Sadly, just a walk around part of the formal gardens had me exhausted.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Son goes home

Today our elder son went back to London after staying with us for a few nights. It was good to see him again but the house is quieter and tidier again. He is a good cook but leaves a right mess!

He earns his living as a professional jazz pianist. Here he is composing his latest jazz compositions at the kitchen table. His family is currently in France visiting the French parents and grandparents. Today he is having a new bedroom carpet fitted.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

China - should we worry?

In a word yes.

China is changing. Many are getting richer and are expecting a better life. Exports have struggled more lately and soon China may become too expensive, just like Japan became many years ago. Many of the investors in China are the Chinese people themselves. The Chinese government is trying to manipulate the market but the stock markets in China are in turmoil. If China catches a cold we will all know about it. Yes, we should be worried, but I am not sure what we can do. It may not be too long before the words "Made in China" are a thing of the past. We have grown used to low cost products made in China, but for how much longer?

The Chinese have devalued their currency twice in 2 days to help exports, but are they fighting a losing battle?

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Perseid Meteor Shower

The next few nights you may see a shooting star as the Perseid meteor show reaches its peak. At its peak you may see 50 meteors an hour. Of course,this all depends on clear skies. I shall be listening for radio amateur signals reflected off their trails.

Greece and the FTSE 100

Apparently Greece has "all but" done a deal with its creditors on a new bailout deal, yet the FTSE 100 share index is currently down nearly 1%. The stock markets should surely be pleased that the Greek uncertainty is all but over.

Look out for Alphabet

Google is doing a major restructuring according to the BBC. Apparently this was a surprise move creating a new parent company called Alphabet Inc..

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-33857412 .

Monday, 10 August 2015

Distant distant memories

It is funny what lurks deep in the crevices of the mind.

This afternoon we visited some old friends, who live quite near us, for afternoon tea. On their hearth was a brass object of globular shape. Seeing it, I remembered an old bell owned by Jack White and his wife who lived in Slapton, Devon. They had an outside toilet.

I swear I had not thought of that little bell in nearly 60 years but in my mind it was crystal clear. This very very distant memory was there waiting to be triggered. The Whites were a lovely couple. I remember us playing the card game "Newmarket" at their table. One wonders what other memories are buried which will one day surface again.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Public Ownership of key industries?

The possible next leader of the UK Labour Party (Jeremy Corbyn) thinks many key industries like trains and energy should be publically owned again. Although this is very "left wing", it is a policy and philosophy that I agree with. However, I suspect such policies will keep Labour in opposition for many years after the next election in 2020.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-33839819 .

Friday, 7 August 2015

Migrants into the EU

For the genuine refugees who have struggled for miles to escape war and strife I have the greatest sympathy. These true refugees should be made welcome in ALL European nations including the UK. We have only to put ourselves in their place to think how these desperate people would like to be treated. No, how we dehumanise these people is shameful.

Rowing the Atlantic


Some fly across the Atlantic in a few hours. A few choose the hard way and row across! 2 young boys set off from New York back in May and made landfall in Salcombe, Devon this week. A great many turned out to welcome them back, including BBC South from whom this video came. They are the copyright owners.

National Trust

Ickworth's wild flower meadow
For a fixed amount each year we get no charge family entry into every National Trust property in the country. We are lucky to have several properties with extensive grounds near us including Wicken Fen, Ickworth and Anglesey Abbey. We have been to 2 already just this week!

Ickworth has a fine walled garden that contains a wild flower meadow. Anglesey Abbey has both wild parts and formal gardens.  The dahlias there are just out now at Anglesey Abbey but will be even better in a few weeks.

Windows 10

Microsoft is offering free upgrades to Windows 10, but beware. The DVD player is not a freeby and I understand this has to be paid for. Like the latest offering of MS Office all is not as it first appears. MS Office 365 is a subscription service so you end up paying more. I think Microsoft is having a tougher time of late. As for Windows 10, I shall not bother. If I was more adept at Linus I'd be tempted. My most reliable PC ever was a baby Asus with 7 inch screen preloaded with Linux. This just worked.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

East Anglian Churches blog updated

This Friday we went by train to Norwich with our "London" grandchildren. We visited the Castle Museum and Norwich Cathedral, which is definitely one of the finest in England.

See http://eachurches.blogspot.co.uk/ .

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

FTSE 100 recovery?

Based on some generally good economic news, the FTSE 100 share index is currently up on recent days. Gains are modest, but they are gains. We should worry about China.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Life after death?

What happens when we die? I really have no idea.

I have seen a few dead bodies in my time, including my father who died back in 1987. What struck me then is that it was like a butterfly and a chrysalis: that which made him "him" was no longer there.  His body was just a shell. Somehow, I hope we do fly above the world in immortality. However, I do not remember anything before I was born and if eternity was a total absence of life, like before I was born, would this be so bad?  However, without eternity we lose our moral compass perhaps?

At one time these questions were academic but in recent years my own mortality has come smartly into focus. Nearly 2 years ago I so nearly died. I survived and may yet live many more years. All the major religions of the world talk of life after death, but is this just a way of coming to terms with our mortality? No-one has come back to tell us what is beyond the grave.

Life and death remain mysteries. All I know is we are on a journey and it is the journey that matters, not the destination. Some would argue this is the key to all the major religions: concern yourself with living a good life now and don't worry what happens after we die.  I remain agnostic and open-minded.

Stroke update

Although overall I get less tired (but some things still exhaust me), I still have poor speech and I feel giddy when walking and turning. Thin liquid swallow is still not good - in fact I can only take sips of any liquids - but my taste is returning to normal. Real orange juice was a "no no" as was cheese and bread, but these are fine now.  Wine and whisky still taste odd and I have yet to enjoy these again. Very very slowly things are improving, although I was expecting to be my old self a year ago! Overall, I still feel not right. Others think I am fine. Inside I am not still.

FTSE 100

At the moment, the FTSE 100 has hardly changed and is just 0.07% lower. In recent weeks it has fallen quite a lot. With the uncertainty over the Euro and the UK's membership of the EU, I can see the FTSE 100 remaining volatile for some time to come. It amazes me that it has not fallen more.

UPDATE 1150z:  Currently the FTSE 100 index is down 0.55%. It took a nosedive quite recently. Not sure why - I'll check.

UPDATE 1307z:  Currently FTSE 100 is down 0.68%.