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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%.

The sun?

There was this very strange yellowy orange thing in the sky. Is this really what they call "the sun"? We have hardly had any sun for days now - just lots of rain. The sun had popped out from behind the clouds. I think I must have been seeing things. Anyway, it has gone again now.

Was that summer?

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Yet more rain

After breakfast I managed to cut our laurel hedge and the front lawn. Then it started to rain and it has been raining ever since!

We badly need the rain but the weather is just plain miserable. Apparently the jet stream has moved and now bang over us, although the forecasters suggest that later this week we may have more summer-like weather. At the moment, it feels like late autumn and we have the heating and the lounge gas fire on.

Saturday, 25 July 2015


This evening, in a further attempt to beat my giddiness, I went for a decent (for me!) walk. One of the joys of an English summer evening is seeing swifts on the wing high in the sky and hearing their calls - a high pitched scream. To me, this is the sound of summer. Their wings are scythe like and they spend most of their lives on the wing.

They arrive late (around the end of April) and go before summer is done. It an ephemeral sound that they make. When you hear it, it is truly late spring or summer. Soon the summer migrants will head south to warmer skies and we will be joined by migrants from the north such as whooper and bewick swans from the high Arctic and Russia as well thrushes like redwings and fieldfares from Scandinavia. To them we represent warmth and mildness!

For now I am content to hear those swifts, although they will soon be on their way. Hopefully, I'll still be around for their return in the spring. Seeing the first swifts in late April brings joy to my heart. The cycle of life that has happened for thousands of years goes on. No doubt this cycle went on when we still lived in caves and when Roman soldiers walked these lands and this cycle will still be going on long after I am dust again.

See .

Thursday, 23 July 2015

No internet most of the day (until now)

It is unusual for our internet and phones not to work, but we had been without both for most of the day. Our services come via fibre and our broadband speed is pretty good. So, this is my first chance to update blogs  and check social media and emails. Our service is via Virgin Media.

Monday, 20 July 2015

East Anglian Churches blog updated

Today we visited Clare church in Suffolk and I have updated the East Anglian Churches blog. It is a light, airy and welcoming church.

See .

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Ode to Joy

Just watching the Proms on BBC TV and they are singing Beethoven's "Ode to Joy". Wonderful. 

I do hope we manage to negotiate a sensible way forward so we stay in the EU. There is much wrong with the European Union, but there is also much that is very good. We have had peace in Europe (well almost) since WW2 and this must largely be due to the European Union binding nations together.

I have much respect for Germany - a nation with a wonderful musical tradition - and hope it continues its path of peace. WW1 and WW2 were sad blips and are history now. Germany is a different place these days. I have visited several places in Germany for work and holidays. It is a lovely country with beautiful countryside and hard working people.

See .

Brown lawns

We have just returned from a week on the Isle of Wight. Many parts of the lawns at our bungalow look dry through a lack of rain. There was a thunderstorm here a few nights ago, but I suspect little rain fell.
The lawns usually bounce back in the autumn, but this year everything is about 4 weeks late flowering and the lawns have actually remained green for longer. I think summer is finally catching up with the lawns though and I expect they will remain dry for several weeks now unless we have lots of rain or I water them furiously. If lawns are watered they need a lot of water that goes through to the roots. In many ways the grass is better left.  In order for them to look decent and keep the weeds down, it is tempting to cut the grass too short.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

MPs salary - too little?

The Daily Mirror newspaper reports that a UK MP is "having to count the pennies" on a salary of £90k a year. Poor man. Does he not understand how REAL people live? For most MPs their salary is to be £74k a year with lots of perks on top.

Home again

After a week away on the Isle of Wight with our son and family we have now returned home. Sadly the weather and the holiday home were both a bit of a let-down (it was wet most days) but we had a great time nonetheless. Funny how your own bed seems special. The little grandchildren didn't seem to notice the weather: they had plenty of fun.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

A hard life - just how do they manage?

So UK MPs will now get a basic salary of £74k following a 10% pay rise. If I understand right they also get a host of allowances and index linked pensions. What a hard life.


Sunday, 12 July 2015

UK weather

Is it any wonder people in the UK enjoy talking about the weather? For several days our son and family have been on holiday on the Isle of Wight. The weather dad been appalling with lots of rain. There is little prospect of it changing any time soon.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Budget reaction

Although for those in work with 2 or fewer children the budget is probably neutral, I think it is fair to say reactions have been mixed. Overall, I think it was quite reasonable, although it would have been better to have gone after the very high earners too.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

The UK budget and FTSE 100 - up 0.91%

The UK budget seems to have been generally liked even though it is quite hard if you were heavily dependent on benefits. The FTSE 100 ended the day up 0.91% on the day. I think it will take several days before people properly understand the full implications of the budget. There are quite a few hidden tax rises as well as some tax changes which reduce income tax for some.

China - worse than Greece?

We should be afraid of what is happening in China. There, stock market losses are huge in the last month and these will affect China and the West. The article linked shows parallels with the 1929 Wall Street Crash. Worrying. With Greece and China the world is facing another financial crisis.

See .

FTSE 100 recovering?

OK, this is just a snapshot and all could change, but at the moment the FTSE 100 is up. I guess the real turbulence will be after Sunday when the situation with Greece becomes clearer. Clearly the countries in the Euro are doing everything to keep Greece in the Euro, but the Greeks are not wanting to play ball" and want things on their terms. Tax avoidance and possibly corruption seem endemic in Greece. Things have to change or they will be on their own again.

Thunderstorms in UK

At the moment the nearest thunderstorms seem to be in the east of Germany and in the Alps, with none in the UK.  Of course, this situation can soon change although it is definitely cooler here today with the winds more from the north. It is probably 8-10 deg C less here than a week ago.

See .

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

FTSE 100 - on the slide

As I write this there is great uncertainty over Greece, which rejected the latest financial rescue package at their referendum last weekend. The FTSE 100 share index fell quite a bit today (down 1.58%).  It looks increasingly likely this "Greek tragedy" will end with Greece defaulting on its debts and leaving the Euro and possibly the EC.  The financial markets will be hard hit especially in those countries that use the Euro. A last minute deal is still (just) possible but I think the markets have assumed Greece is out. Certainly the European finance ministers and heads of government have run out of patience. If Greece leaves the Euro many nations will be impacted, not least Germany that stands to lose an enormous amount. For the Greek people, the future looks very bad for many years. No doubt they will eventually bounce back, but they risk civil war in the meantime. No, this is a real crisis for all of Europe.

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Egypt's disgrace?

A replica of a world famous statue of Queen Nefertiti of Egypt has (rightly) caused outcry. The locals think it  is amateurist and downright ugly.  Even I could have done better. The statue has now been removed. I hope they manage to replace it with something decent.

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Very old films now available on the BFI website

Since lunchtime the BFI ( British Film Institute) has made available online, many digitised old home movies, some of which are well over 100 years old.  Incredible.

See .

Monday, 6 July 2015

Cranial osteopathy

I have now had 4 sessions in Cambridge to help with my stroke after-effects. I am now less tired (I still get tired but I seem to recover more quickly), still have problems with swallow and speech and still feel giddy when walking.

Some think cranial osteopathy is a "snake oil" treatment but it helps me relax so, for now, I am continuing. Time will tell if it really helps. I just want my symptoms to recede. I still feel below par. The tiredness is better. I just hope the other remaining symptoms get better too.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

House quiet again

We had our "London" grandchildren for a couple of nights and for once the weather was hot and sunny, so they were able to enjoy being in the garden and spraying themselves with the garden hose. Our grass was turning brown in places so any hosing helped!

Friday, 3 July 2015

Hot weather and the grass

I am battling to cut both lawns in this intense heat. I have cut the front lawn but still have to do the back lawn.  Later, I think this heat will break and we will get a downpour. Off to do the back lawn now.

UPDATE 1530z:  Both lawns cut now, but the grass is becoming brown with the heat.  Both front and rear lawns need a good long soaking! A good storm with lots of rain for a few hours might help. Watering with a hose really only makes the surface damp unless it is done for a long time. Even in the driest of summers, lawns seem to bounce back when real rain does arrive.

See .

UPDATE 2048z:  Watered parts of the front grass for more than 30 minutes as well as the flowers. Wonder if the dry patches will recover?

Hot weather

The intense heat continues with temperatures in the 30's deg C expected here. The thunder risk remains. As I write this at 1010 local time it already feels HOT here. This very hot weather is unlikely to last. In true British fashion, we are always moaning about it being too hot, too cold, or  too wet! We should be glad the weather is so good. It is good that the nice weather is happening around the time of long, light evenings. It is light here until after 10pm.