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Monday, 29 February 2016

Kingsbridge Passageways

 I spent about 10 years living in Kingsbridge, Devon. It has some famous "backways".


Morrisons via Amazon

Morrisons is signing a deal to sell its food via Amazon in the UK. Does this spell the beginning of the end of the high street as we knew it?  I have to confess to buying quite a few things via Amazon, but never food.

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Long before the internet and multi-channel TV many of us listened to the world on shortwave radios. This is a recording of the interval and announcement signals of long ago. Most are long gone now. For those of you that recall these, happy memories!

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Chippenham Park, Cambs

This afternoon the sun was shining and we fancied a different walk, so we visited Chippenham Park (sometimes called Hare Park), at Chippenham, Cambs. This is a private property but it is open to the public on certain days. The spring flowers were out. Kings Edward VII and George V came here for shooting parties in the early 1900s.

Don't confuse this with Chippenham in Wiltshire. This park is surrounded by a wall that would have cost a small fortune when it was built centuries ago. The wall is many miles long.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Shaking off a cold

I have had a cold for a week now. Last weekend I was rough with it and felt really under the weather. A week later, although I no longer feel unwell, I still have a runny nose. It is taking longer to shake off the symptoms. It is some years since I last recall having a classic cold.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Son visit

Our son Tim came to see us this afternoon. As usual, he was only able to stay a few hours but we always appreciate visits by our boys. In years gone by he came up from London with one of our granddaughters, but she is at school now.

Stroke after-effect

I  have mentioned this before, but I seem far slower at noticing errors than in the past.  As an example I used the Roman phrase caveat emptor on one of my blogs yesterday.  Only a day later when this appeared on did I notice that I had the wrong spelling caveat emtor.  On my amateur radio blog I have corrected the mistake, but I had not seen it! Sometimes it is a keying error, but I should have noticed this. The error has also been corrected on the Amateur site.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Helping children of war torn lands?

Mixed views. I do not like unrestricted EU access into the UK and firmly believe it is up to the UK to decide who can live and work here.

At the same time I feel so sorry for the true refugees who have fled war and conflict who wish to come to the UK for a peaceful life. Some of these people are really desperate. 

In all conflicts it is the children who suffer the most. One woman is trying to make life in Calais just a little better for some children.  She is trying to raise money to buy a double-decker bus to convert.

If you would like to help just a little see

Whatever your views, the little ones are the innocent victims. Life can be cruel and hard. You could help just a little?

Continuing stroke after-effects

One of the post stroke effects I think I have mentioned before is driving the car.  I have done some quite longish drives in the last year but my brain "feels" like I am going faster than I am. To me, 40mph feels like 50mph and 50mph feels like 60mph. So, I drive at slower speeds than I did.  I have no idea why this should be so.  I assume this is to do with the way my brain is processing data.

Also, time seems to be different. I take longer to do things and yet time seems to be going along faster - but this may just be me getting older!

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Guided busway to St Ives

Today my wife and I took the guided busway up to St Ives, Cambridgeshire. With our bus passes the trip was free.  The sun shone and we ate out inexpensively in the cafe at the URC church which is in the heart of the town. Food, service and prices were excellent.  St Ives is on the River Great Ouse and has some fine buildings.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Friends Day

We had friends visit us this morning and this afternoon we called on local friends for afternoon tea to help celebrate a birthday. Altogether a lovely day in the winter sunshine.

Tomorrow, we may venture further afield. The weather forecast looks good.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Cambridge U3AC day

On Mondays I go into Cambridge on the bus for my University of the Third Age course. As I have an hour to kill after the course, I usually grab a bite to eat choosing different places most weeks. This week, I tried one place, which was busy, and ended up getting the £3 lunch deal (filled roll and drink) which was very good value at Subway. Sadly, because of my poor voice, the assistant treated me as if I was simple-minded: she spoke very slowly as if I was stupid. I found this very frustrating, but for many it must be far worse.  Never, ever, assume someone is stupid just because they have a disability.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Long weekend in Canterbury

My wife and I were down in Kent, just outside Canterbury, visiting our son and his family including 2 of our young grandchildren. So I have not blogged for a few days. Sorry, but family comes first. The photo shows my wife and grandson. Canterbury Cathedral, where he was Christened, is in the background.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Winter so far

Apart from a brief snow shower a few days ago when we had a little snow on the ground, we have had a very mild winter so far. Most spring flowers, and blossom, are out early. We even saw a few daffodils out in late November, which is very early for here.

It would not surprise me if some of the bird migrants arrive back earlier than usual unless we suddenly get a very cold spell. As they say, "n'er cast a clout 'til the May is out". March could be extremely cold.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

FTSE 100 - sliding?

At lunchtime, the FTSE 100 UK share index is down 0.38%. It was higher, but still negative on the day.

We should expect it to gradually slide in the months ahead as investors are still nervous about Greece, the EU, China and the world economy at large. It always bounces back, although this could take years. My expectations this year? I think it will fall to around 5000 then bounce back to 6500. Of course I am only guessing and it could end up between 4000 and 7000.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Kia diesel issues?

Just (a few days ago) received this from EMG in Cambridge. I wonder if Kia also needs to quietly update its software? This is the first time I heard about this. Suspicious or a genuine product enhancement?

Dear Mr xxxxx

Service Action notice

We have been advised that a product enhancement is available for your car, xxyyyzzz.  It is important that these improvements are applied and we have been requested by Kia Motors to do so.

As your Kia dealer we like to take care of our customer’s cars.  We believe in Family-Like Care, and that extends from our service to you and to the care we give your car. 

While your car is in our care we will complete a comprehensive Vehicle Health Check to make sure that it is in the best condition possible and will advise you of any actions required. 

We can provide collection and delivery at your home or workplace and we can also arrange alternative transport if required.  You are also welcome to wait in our customer area; we’ll make sure we don’t keep you waiting any longer than we need to. Just let us know what suits you best.

Remember that if repairs are needed we will always use genuine parts from Kia, which are covered by a 2-year warranty and the correct specifications of the latest lubricants.  Our technicians are trained by the Kia Academy and use Kia specialist tools.  At the same time we will use the Kia Global Diagnostic System to make sure the latest updates from Kia are applied to your car.

Please get in touch with us on 01223 478478 to arrange a convenient appointment.

We look forward to seeing you soon.

Yours sincerely

Grandchildren in Paris

This afternoon both sets of grandchildren are in Paris. The "Kent" ones are just there for a few days holiday and the "London" ones are there visiting their grandparents. Both sets went by Eurostar train. The picture shows the "London" ones on the train with their mum.

Centre of London to centre of Paris by direct train in about 2.5  hours. Wonderful.

Monday, 15 February 2016


We had our first real snow of the winter briefly this morning. It was on the ground, but soon went. Our "London" grandchildren thought it was magical and enjoyed eating the snow, having a snowball fight and making a very small snowman. Like childhood itself, the snow was soon gone.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Walk in the cold

At this time of year we go for a walk at nearby Landwade to see the daffodils, snowdrops and aconites. This year, everything is early. It was a cold and dry day with a strong east wind. The temperature was 3 degrees C, though it felt much colder. We went with our "London" grandchildren.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Gravitational Waves

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It amazes me how some astronomical experiments are done. Some work require mS timing and staggering distances. Often, the co-operation of researchers scattered across the planet is needed. The hunt for gravitational waves is no exception.

Thursday, 11 February 2016


This afternoon we enjoyed a walk at Ickworth, a lovely National Trust property near Bury St Edmunds. It is about 20 miles from home. The sky was mostly sunny, but it occasionally popped behind the clouds. It was about 7 deg C.  We saw some tree creepers (birds).

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

USA Presidental Elections


The people of the USA continue to trouble me.

If it was just the USA that mattered, then I could not care less, but the leader of the USA has his hands on the nuclear trigger and will be key to so much in the world. Is a rich billionaire really who many in the USA want as their leader?

I have no wish to get embroiled in a debate over the US presidential elections, but if a large number of Americans think their best interests are served by a rich billionaire then this says a lot about American society as a whole.

I am not advocating any candidate or any party, but this vote matters for the whole fragile planet we share. All I ask is that every single person in the USA thinks very carefully.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

FTSE 100 and Sepura Shares

Share prices, certainly in London, are falling on the continuing uncertainties over China, Greece and the World. The FTSE 100 index has fallen from a peak of over 7100 last year to about 5630 as I write. Things do recover but this can take years.

At such times people look for a safe haven. Many have chosen my old company, Sepura. Sepura make radios for (mainly) public safety. They recently bought a Spanish rival and now do DMR as well as TETRA.

See .

The EC and the UK

When it comes to our UK national referendum on whether we should stay in or leave the EC, I am undecided. In many ways the EC is a good thing. On the other hand it is a creaking bureaucracy in great need of reform. I like that Europe has been (largely) at peace in my lifetime. I like free trade in Europe. However, we are a small island running out of room, with creaking services and the UK should have the final say over who lives and works here.  I am in favour of a common market. Why do we need more?

I really feel for the genuine migrants fleeing conflict. Having had a nasty tummy bug in the comfort of my own home, I cannot help thinking how much worse this would have been if I was also cold,wet and hungry and thousands of miles from home. Even worse if you are a child who does not understand. Personally I think we should take more real refugees but not economic migrants.

No, there is still a great deal that needs fixing. Mr Cameron has NOT basically changed anything his recent negotiations. We are being asked to stay, when really very very little has changed.

So, in summary, I am undecided which way to vote. At the moment I am voting to leave, but I may well change my mind.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Stroke or old age?

When driving the car I seem to drive less fast than I did. To me, 50mph seems more like 60mph or faster. It is as if the world seems faster to me, at least on the roads. Also, I seem much slower doing things these days. I put these down to my stroke 2.5 years ago, but I guess I am getting older and slower.  At 67 I don't think of myself as very old though.

When our children were little we had a family joke about drivers with hats. There seemed a high correlation between drivers with hats and slow, doddery drivers. We put this down to age (most hat wearers were old) and maybe they started driving before the driving test became compulsory?

Anyway, I guess I am looked at as "a hat" these days,  even though I don't wear a hat to drive! Ho hum!

Friday, 5 February 2016

Kaifeng Scroll

There has been a fascinating TV programme narrated by Michael Wood about the history of China. I was particularly interested in the Kaifeng scroll  of the Sung dynasty.  Nearly 1000 years ago a Chinese artist created a massive scroll showing the capital city (of 1 million people even then) in immense detail. The scroll has been recreated with moving people and animals in a museum in Shanghai.

See .

Whatever your views on China today, it certainly has a rich history, much if it unknown in the West.


Today we visited the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and had a very nice meal at a cafe at the URC church just down the road. Cafe prices were very good, as was the food. All the cafe staff are volunteers and many have mental disabilities.

The Fitzwilliam has some famous exhibits.  It is funny how one takes this wonderful city for granted. People travel half way around the world to see sites we can see every day if we want, for nothing. I am sure a visitor would love Cambridge.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

East Anglian weather

Our village green in winter
Some have been forecasting a very cold winter here. So far, we have had very little frost and lots of dull,wet days. The ground here in East Anglia is wetter than I can ever recall. If we do get a cold snap, this will be the first real snow here for several years. I'd say our weather is changing. East Anglia used to be cold and dry, but not any more.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Stroke and poor voice

Today and in December I had appointments with probably the 2 best speech consultants in the UK. Sadly, both said the same - there is little wrong with my voicebox (both put cameras down my throat through my nose) and, as I have a neurological problem, there is nothing they can do for me. I hope my voice does improve, albeit slowly, but I guess I have to come to terms with the possibility that my voice might be poor for ever. There are things I can do to improve the situation - I cannot tell when my diction is poor or I am speaking too quietly (to me it sounds loud enough!) - so I need to work on these! Not long ago I was told I might never eat again and I proved them wrong. Let us hope I prove them wrong about my voice too.


Our son and daughter-in-law gave us an amaryllis for Christmas, which we potted in early January. After a slow start, it has shot up and will probably be in flower in the next week. There are 2 flower heads, one looks ahead of the other. The smaller flower head is around the other side. We turn the plant every day so it grows as straight as possible. It is on our kitchen table.

See .

Tuesday, 2 February 2016


On Mondays I travel into and out of Cambridge on the bus for my U3AC course. As a boring old f**t (BOF) I have a new hobby - "like" spotting. A teenage girl got on the bus and she said "like" 52 times in 2 miles. As a BOF I said nothing, you know what I mean like.