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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


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.



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


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


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 .

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 .

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 .

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 .