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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Thunder storms

This next few days we are at great risk of thunder and lightning. We are in the middle of a heatwave with hot, damp air moving up from the south. As a precaution I have disconnected my amateur radio rigs, PC, antennas and mains plugs.

Luckily I have never suffered a lightning strike but know friends who have. One was living in a very ordinary home, was not a radio amateur or short wave listener, had no big antennas, but his electrics were ruined. Earth's natural electrical activity should always be treated with respect. I don't like thunderstorms at all.  Even if not directly hit, the power surges can cause damage.

As I write this, Greece is having bad storms according to the maps.

See .

Monday, 29 June 2015

Hate and the internet

There is no doubt that the internet is a powerful force for good and evil. It allows people to connect, whether fit or disabled and irrespective of class, creed, or sexual orientation,and anywhere in the world. However there is also a dark side. People can use it to spread hate and violence.

There is a fine line between openness and censorship. I am a believer that what a person does in private is his or her affair as long as no-one else is hurt. What is acceptable to one person may not be to someone else. However, I believe it is right to take down anything that is hateful or incites others to act in a hateful way.

I don't think this is ambiguous or likely to lead to problems. Here I am thinking about social media, websites etc. Facebook, Twitter, and similar plus ISPs should act responsibly. All that is required is a light touch. If a post, or website is likely to encourage hate, then it should be taken down. If not, it can stay.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Lunch in the garden

 On a lovely summer day we ate our salad lunch in the garden. Such days are all too rare, but all the nicer when they occur. I'd hate a climate when it was warm all year around. We sat on the patio (LHS). Later, a friend called on the off-chance and we had cold drinks and biscuits outside too. The car needs a wash but this will have to wait until it is cooler.


I feel sorry for this nation which is bound to be adversely affected by the killings yesterday. Tunisia is a peaceful country that just wanted to get on with life as usual. Sadly, this will not be so for some time to come: tourists are likely to choose alternative destinations and desert Muslim nations. Surely in the end this is counter-productive?

Friday, 26 June 2015

Hot days

At last we seem to be in English high summer with high temperatures and high humidity. Although we have passed the  longest day, evenings are still light for weeks to come. The real change tends to come in September. It must be my age but it seems only 5 minutes since last Christmas! We'll blink and it will be Christmas 2015 and the nights will start to draw out again!

When we have long summer evenings it is all too easy to take them for granted. There is something nice about all the seasons: each has its own beauty. Of all the seasons, spring is my favorite with the cold winter gone and done with and new life in the earth.

Greece and falling stock markets

With the continuing uncertainty over the Greek debt crisis it is not surprising that the FTSE 100 is still falling. Until the uncertainty goes, I think we'll see further falls. At the very least expect markets to be erratic.

Thursday, 25 June 2015


One of the joys of an English summer is the sound of screaming swifts in the air. This is most common in May and June. The swifts are one of the first summer migrants to leave. It always seems a long time until they return again next spring. Usually the first ones arrive here by the end of April. Once, long ago, I found one on the ground. We kept it in a box overnight. The next morning it flew off as if nothing had happened. Swifts spend most of their time on the wing and if they do land on the ground it is not easy to take off again. I found this out much later. It was lovely to handle this scythe like bird.

See .

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Greece - still in trouble?

International creditors are still not happy with proposals from Greece over their debt. Talks are continuing  but I think Greece will have to make further concessions or leave the Euro. Although deep in the mire now, they would be in dire trouble out of the Euro with no support from the ECB for their banks.

See .

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Greece - market relief?

This may be just a blip but the FTSE 100 share index bounced back today on the news that Greece has been "saved" in the short-term, although they still have a massive debt to repay and Greece is in a real mess. As I see it, this is a temporary situation and Greece is still in deep trouble. The simple fact is that the Euro could simply fall apart if Greece defaults and Germany would be left with huge losses and they are desperate to avoid this.

No, the Euro is still in deep trouble. This crisis has a way to go yet. There is trouble ahead for sure.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Castle Trust - avoid?

The top of my Gmail seems to have regular ads for Castle Trust offering bonds with very good interest rates. I read somewhere that these funds are "dodgy" and you could end up losing capital. I have no idea whether true or not, but I shall be avoiding them.

Greece - a basket case?

Greece seems to be in a serious mess financially, although the EC seems desperate for the Euro to survive the current crisis. It would appear Greece became a member of the Euro club based on rather dubious figures. Tax avoidance and early retirement ages appear to be a way of life in Greece and this is anathema to countries like Germany. If Greece doesn't get kicked out of the Euro, they certainly need to change. We will see what happens. I expect we'll see yet another fudge and somehow Greece will survive, although it is not clear for how long. I'm very glad not to be Greek right now. Life there must be very hard, especially if you have no work.

UPDATE 1726z:  It sounds like Greece may be on the brink of a financial rescue. Time will tell.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Feedback forms

Whatever you do these days it seems there is a request for an online feedback form.Some of this data must be sold on so that you get bombarded with spam calls. I am sure many are genuine but the next time you fill one in think about ALL who may read it.

Friday, 19 June 2015

The hospitality industry and overseas workers

Workers from Eastern Europe work hard and earn every penny. However, when was the last time you were served by anyone English in a cafe or hotel? In our current (excellent) hotel everyone seems to be from Eastern Europe. In the Botanical Garden cafe all the catering staff seemed to be from Poland. There was a TV programme a few years ago suggesting British workers are work shy. Or is it cheaper to employ Eastern Europeans on minimum wages?

Monday, 15 June 2015

Further FTSE 100 falls

Not unexpectedly, the FTSE100 index has fallen further today and is now about 400 below its recent peak.

Saturday, 13 June 2015


Even though we have had some rain today, our garden is very dry. The grass is very dry and starting to turn yellow. In East Anglia it is not unusual for the lawns to be dry in August, but it is only mid-June!  Usually things recover well when cooler weather returns in the early autumn.  I gave everything a good soaking last night, but we need some heavy rain for a few days really.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

"The Gondoliers" G&S

Nearly every year we go to a summer theatre held in a barn in a nearby village. They always do a Gilbert and Sullivan production. This year it was "The Gondoliers". As usual, for a totally amateur group, it was excellent. This has become part of our June landscape now. The Gondoliers was first produced in 1889.

FTSE 100 - up a bit?

The FTSE 100 share index is currently showing very modest gains, although a lot can happen in a day. Based on the continuing uncertainly in, and about, Europe, I'd expect volatile markets for a good while longer. Maybe after the situation in Greece becomes clearer and after the new budget, things might become more stable, even if lower?

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Visit from old work colleague

This morning I had the pleasure of a visit from an old work colleague who retired a few years ago. It was good to catch up.  He finds plenty to do to fill his days including country dancing and restoring clocks.  Like me (I retired in 2008) he wonders how he found time to go to work!

Grass lawn

We have been fighting a battle with our front lawn. Despite it not being the warmest of springs, the garden is very dry (more so than usual) and we have patches of rough grass as a result of grass seeds blown in from a neighbour's garden which is kept partly wild on purpose. We are watering these patches regularly and they have been especially treated so the grass does not need as much water. We shall see.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

FTSE 100 share index

The FTSE 100 share index has fallen back quite a bit from its recent highs. I am not too surprised. Greece is still filled with uncertainty and we, in the UK, have an EU referendum coming up, probably next year, the outcome of which is far from certain.   Personally I think Greece will default and eventually leave the Eurozone.  Greece is not a good place to be currently. The UK referendum is bound to create a climate of uncertainty. Markets like stability.

I hope we, in the UK, vote to stay in the EU, but that some of its ways are changed. It does seem bogged down with rules that work against an open market, which is really what we joined in 1975. Some of our population issues are of our own making due to our relatively good economy, but I still feel we, the UK, should have the last word on who can stay and work here, not the bureaucrats in Brussels.  At the moment, the EU seems to have the last word.

If we do not want a federal Europe that is our decision. We have always been "on the edge" of Europe both politically and geographically and I hope this continues. Yes to a common EU market, but no to the UK in the Euro and a federal Europe. Fine for those that want it.  Actually the whole EU would benefit from some reform. In many countries the pressure is building and the politicians need to listen to the voice of the people.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Ebola - no longer in the news

Certainly here in the UK, and I suspect the USA, Ebola went out of the news late last year.  Although the West African outbreak was the worst on record, it is sad that it soon became not newsworthy. It looks like the outbreak is now under control but it is a sad indictment of our society that when things go "off the radar" we hear little about them. It is a warning that what is considered "news" is filtered.

See .

Saturday, 6 June 2015

British Gas - are they ALL totally clueless?

A few weeks ago we were due to get a free Smart Meter upgrade and we waited in all morning for the appointment that never happened. Subsequent emails, despite a request that they ring me, resulted in them (or their not joined up computers) arranging 3 inconvenient new appointments.  Really they are a basket case!

Nearly a month later and I have still not been told why the very first appointment did not happen. They really really are useless. I am sick and tired of communicating by emails to, what would appear to be, computers or humans without brains.

I have heard similar stories from others too.  The trouble is I suspect the alternatives would be just as bad.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

London Theatre

London has some excellent theatres, but they are expensive. Add the cost of train travel and parking and you need a mortgage!

Our village (60 miles from London) arranges theatre coach trips which are excellent value as they take you door-to-theatre door (just about) with plenty of time for a meal before the show and the price includes the coach and the theatre ticket (good seats too). We used to go on these trips regularly and went today to see "Beautiful" at the Aldwych Theatre. We ate just around the corner at Garfunkel's where a 3 course meal was £11.95.  Not bad either.  The theatre musical was first class with lots of songs from the 1960s.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Noctilucent clouds

This is the best time of year to see these wispy, high altitude, clouds. They are most commonly seen in the night sky from 20 days before to about 50 days after the summer solstice. They form in the mesosphere at high altitudes and are seen in the northern night sky in June.

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Tuesday, 2 June 2015

June snow

I am reminded that 40 years ago we actually had snow on this day! At the moment, it is still windy and wet although the temperatures are not too bad. Later this week we may get better, although there is now a threat of thunderstorms! You cannot win. British weather! I love it.

Monday, 1 June 2015


Usually our lawns look pretty good and weed free. They ought to as we pay Green Thumb a decent amount each month to treat, scarify and tine.  The last time they treated the lawn they scarified and removed a fair bit of moss. I have removed the dead moss and reseeded in places, but there is a lot of course grass and there are brownish patches.

My wife is very cross and wants them back to fix the lawn, which looked far better last year. They are coming again on Friday and have promised to put things right. We shall see. If not, they will lose our business and I am pretty sure my wife will "go viral" with her displeasure.

Green Thumb ought to have done a better job as lots of people have looked over the front garden wall and asked, "what happened to your lovely lawn?". The front lawn is right next to the local windmill and museum and should be a showcase for Green Thumb.