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Thursday, 31 March 2016

Nuclear waste and the fight against cancer - spin?

OK, I know I am becoming a grumpy old man but I was not impressed by the latest statements that the exchange of nuclear waste with the USA would benefit cancer sufferers. To me, this sounds like "spin" which we can well do without. You can almost hear the civil service man or minister saying, "we can make this sound a positive thing by dropping in the words "fight against cancer"".

Sorry, but we are not totally stupid! Stop treating us like idiots.

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Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Going home time

Our "Kent" grandchildren and their mum and dad returned to their home near Canterbury today after a few days with us.

We have our next guest staying tomorrow for the weekend. Busy!

The photo shows me with the "Kent" grandchildren outside the windmill next to our home.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016


One of the after-effects of my stroke 2.5  years ago is I get profoundly exhausted. Very little physical or mental activity and I am exhausted. As an example, our bird table blew over in the recent winds and fell apart. In years past fixing this would have been trivial but these days it has become a major job and by the end I was shattered. You cannot imagine how frustrating this is. My fine motor skills are still poor and ladder work is all but impossible. Life is much harder these days.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Windmill and Museum open

As it is a bank holiday here in the UK, our local museum and windmill in Burwell, Cambs are open.

There is an Easter Egg Hunt for the little ones, but there is loads here always to interest youngsters. Our grandchildren love it.

We can see the windmill and museum from our kitchen and lounge. Ours is the bungalow on the left in the photo. As you can see, we are very close!

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It is a very fine museum and windmill.

East Anglian Churches Blog
I updated the churches blog with our local church here in Burwell yesterday. It is a church designed by the same man (Reginald Ely) who the world famous Kings College Chapel in Cambridge. Tradition says he practiced on Kings College Chapel!


It has been very windy over much of the UK in the last 12 hours. It was worse in other parts than here although Storm Katie was enough to blow over our bird table and I notice quite a few fallen branches on the ground when I walked to our local co-op earlier.

The winds are subsiding as the storm slips into the North Sea, leaving behind sunny intervals and blustery showers. We have all the family here today.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

BST (British Summer Time)

If you are in the UK did you remember to turn your clocks forward an hour last night? We lose an hour but get this back in the autumn when we go back to GMT. At least we get an extra hour of light in the evenings, which is good.

I not sure when BST first started (WW2?), but it is good idea. There was even thought of adopting BST all year around. I think clocks are also advanced in some European countries too, but I'm not sure if they move at the same date.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Red legged partridge

We frequently get these birds wandering around our close. There are also 3 Mallard ducks that appear regularly. Red legs now far outnumber ordinary partridges.

I think red legged partridges were introduced, but they are now widespread in the UK. Like several introduced species these have become widespread.

The pheasant was introduced but you find these all over the place. It is a pity these don't have more road sense!  Pheasants seem to wander across roads just as cars approach.

Friday, 25 March 2016


There are probably another 6 weeks before we see the trees coated in fresh green, the blossom well out, and fields of yellow rape.

Already the first sand martins are returning to Devon and there has even been a report of a returning swallow in Devon. It will probably be into April before I spot swallows up here in East Anglia. Usually I see my first swallows here April 7-14th. Swifts are not usually seen (by me at least!) until the end of April.

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These returning migrants bring joy to my heart: long after I am gone they will still be doing this journey as their ancestors have done for thousands of years. I admit there have been times when I never thought I'd see this spring.

Lackford Lakes

Before lunch we visited Lackford Lakes, a nature reserve not far from Newmarket. There were plenty of water birds plus we heard at least 2 chiffchaffs, which have probably just got back from Africa although some of these now over-winter in the UK.  Driving through Lackford there was a red kite overhead. We also saw a tree creeper in the reserve.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Stroke update - doctor's check up

Today I had to visit the doctor for my check-up. Blood pressure and chest were fine and my PSA levels were lower than in December and "no action is required". Overall, I still feel wobbly on my feet, thin liquids are hard work, my voice is poor and I still feel not as I was. Any improvements are hard to see. I guess this is how it is going to be now and I'd better learn to adapt.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Riverside walk

This morning we did a walk from Mildenhall to the village of Barton Mills and back to Mildenhall along the River Lark.  It was classic kingfisher country, although we saw none. Instead lots of mute swans, mallards and Canada Geese. A delightful walk and probably my longest walk since my stroke a few years ago.

Mildenhall is better known for its US airbase, which is closing. I am not sorry as I found this base very threatening. Mildenhall is actually a very pleasant Suffolk town with some fine buildings, church and museum. Barton Mills is a delightful village too.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Moulton Packhorse Inn

We ate lunch with our son (pity the other one wasn't there too) at the Packhorse Inn in Moulton near Newmarket. The food was very good and it was very busy, which is always a good sign. This is our third visit. This medieval packhorse bridge is just a few metres away.

Our rear garden in early spring

Rear garden in early spring
This was our rear garden taken this morning. In a few weeks time all the blossom will be out. In the distance, in our neighbour's garden is an apple and plum orchard.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Frog (I think)

When it comes to frogs and toads, I am no expert. We'd not seen one in the garden since last summer, so it was good to see this chap today.

FTSE 100

After an early fall, the UK share index is recovering. As I write it is just in positive territory.

Sunday, 20 March 2016


We bought some meat from Waitrose on a "3 for £10" deal, which was good meat at very good prices. As there is some beef left over from the stew at lunch today, the plan is to make some homemade pasties for lunch tomorrow.  My wife will do the pastry and I'll do the rest. I love pasties!


Today we did a walk at Quy, knowing that nearby Anglesey Abbey (National Trust) would be quite busy at the weekends. On this walk we saw very few people, but quite a few birds including 2 little egrets and 1 buzzard overhead. We heard a couple of green woodpeckers and saw mute swans, tits, a coot and several mallard ducks.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Getting ready for summer?

As we walked past today, it looks like the Burwell cricket team was getting ready for the new season.

The Tan House is the biggest house in the village and was once the home of Francis Pimm who was at one time Foreign Secretary in the government.

Friday, 18 March 2016

FTSE 100 roller coaster

After rising earlier, the FTSE 100 UK share index ended the day down 0.19%.

Dull, wet winter

We have had a mild, wet winter here in East Anglia, UK. There have been more muddy, wet puddles than I can ever recall. I have lived in this part of the UK since 1970.  They were forecasting a very cold winter. Mind you, they said this last year! At some point they will be correct. Most spring flowers came out very early.

It re-enforces my view that the most reliable forecast is to look out of the window! We had rain last night, but I don't think it was forecast.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Ickworth (National Trust) walk.

As members of the National Trust, we are very lucky to have several properties with fine grounds nearby.  Today, as the sun was shining, we went to Ickworth not far from Bury St Edmunds. Although there were lots of lambs, the daffodils are still not out, in the main. A few are, but most are still in bud. All the NT places nearby are very different. We also made use of our free "tea for 2" voucher which came with a card.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Summer bird migrants arriving

The wheatears have started arriving back in Devon and soon it will be martins and swallows. The long winter will soon be behind us.

See .

The image below is not on this site but at the link below. You may have to wait for it to load. The link to the image will be removed if a problem.

FTSE 100 on a roller coaster ride

The roller coaster ride continues. Presently, the FTSE 100 UK share index is up 0.35%.  It was higher still.

This is budget day in the UK so a lot can change later. I am still expecting big falls once the punters wake up in the real world with all its problems.

I would not be surprised to see the FTSE 100 at 5000 rather than around 6161. It will recover later, but we have uncertainty ahead.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

FTSE 100 UK share index

At the moment, the FTSE is down on yesterday.  I am not too surprised, although as I speak it is trying to come back.

UPDATE 1124z:  Currently it is down 0.59% on yesterday.

UPDATE 2300z:  The FTSE 100 index ended the day down 0.56% on yesterday.  It fell a lot then hovered around at this lower level most of the day.

Syria and Russia

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I am no expert on Middle East politics but this move by Russia surprised us all. They still keep their bases in the region, but I think no-one (except maybe the US military?) was expecting this. Does it make peace in the country more (or less) possible? I only hope that all players work towards a peaceful and fair outcome for all in this war-torn land. The people of Syria have suffered too much.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Disappearing Patio

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Thank goodness no-one was sitting on this patio when it disappeared into a 300 foot mine shaft!

Sunday, 13 March 2016


Mondays this term I have been attending a University of the Third Age course in Cambridge. I go into, and out of, Cambridge on the bus using my bus pass. As I usually have some time after the course, I get a bite to eat in different places in the city. At the moment my favorite is Le Patissier, opposite St John's college. This is a small place but prices are reasonable and I have found the service very good.


The Met Office (our UK weather bureau) treats the start of spring as March 1st. Well, there was no doubt that here it is now spring. Today I cut the back lawn for the first time since the autumn. It was a day of b's: bench, beer (on the garden bench after doing the lawn), buzzard (overhead), bees, butterflies, blooms and blossom. Today really felt like a spring day. We have had a mild, wet winter but it has seemed endless. Today, the garden was calling.

Oh to be in England now that spring is here.

Honestly, there were times when I thought I would not see this spring.

Stroke update

It is hard to see any improvements now 2.5 years after my cerebellum brain bleed. If improvements are occurring then they are so small they are not noticeable. I still feel giddy on my feet and I still feel sick most of the time. My liquid swallow is still poor as is my voice. I still get exhausted very quickly. If any improvements now come, they are a bonus, but I guess I have to adapt to life as it is now, much though I would like my "old" self back.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Jews - why do people (historically) hate them?

I have great respect for all people whether they are Jew, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist or whatever. But, I must relate an incident yesterday.

We were in NE London and my wife was taking a very innocent photo of a squirrel up a tree. We happened to be outside a synagogue. A Jewish man, driving a car, stopped us and asked us to stop taking photos. My wife was very angry. Clearly the person was fearing we were taking photos with a view to attacking the synagogue. Nothing could have been further from our minds.

If any race in the UK wants to minimise risks they should blend into our culture and not try to be a race apart: NE London is full of Hassidic Jewish people in their unique dress. In 15 minutes of trying, I managed to get 2 Jews to acknowledge my existence. They prefer to live separate lives. No, the Jewish community is its own worst enemy sadly.

One of my good friends is Jewish. In my illness she has been kindness itself.

By the way I managed to shake hands with the man. Shalom my friend.

Friday, 11 March 2016

London Grandchildren

We have just returned from a few days in London looking after 2 of
our grandchildren whilst their mum and dad had a short break. This is me with them in their lounge on their settee. The second photo shows our granddaughter painting.

Parakeets in the wild

We have been "grandchildren sitting" in Stoke Newington, London, but are back home today.  See previous post.
One difference is hearing parakeets first thing in the morning. There are lots of these in nearby Springfield Park. I see these Australian birds have now reached Plymouth. They are becoming naturalised and spreading widely. At one time these escaped cage birds would have been rare indeed here in the UK.

It is hard to believe that collared doves first appeared in the UK in 1955. Little egrets were virtually unknown in the UK before the late 1980s and now they are all over the place.

There are different species of parakeets, but I think those spreading are from the same core stock, but this may not be the case: several escapees may have survived and bread in the wild in the UK.

 See .

Grandchildren sitting

For the last few days and nights, we have been in Stoke Newington in NE London looking after our young grandchildren. This has included getting them to school on time. Their parents were away in Brussels.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

FTSE 100 - are we living in the real world?

The FTSE 100 ended the day up 0.34%. I am still expecting large falls but so far this has not happened. Sentiment is pushing it higher but reality should push it well down.

I can't help thinking we are living in a parallel universe where reality does not apply.

With all the debt and uncertainty in the world, I think those who invest in the companies listed in the FTSE 100 are living their lives with their eyes and ears closed. At some point, reality will set in and the brown stuff will hit the fan big time and all hell will let loose. At some point, the world faces a MASSIVE re-adjustment and no-one will be immune.

Growth cannot continue in a world with limited resources. Also, living on debt cannot go on for ever. When interest rates are very low it may make sense, but what happens when these rise? China is a real danger and so apparently is Japan.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Mark Carney - leaving EU would be biggest domestic risk

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It seems a bit suspicious that the banks and big business want us to vote IN. At the moment I am in favour of IN, but I could well be persuaded otherwise if the facts are clearly presented without the spin.


Just had a free upgrade on broadband from Virgin Media on their cheapest package. Pleased. It was even faster when I tried it earlier - and this is over a wi-fi connection for the last bit.

Jordanian refugee camp - enormous

The size of this is truly staggering.

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FTSE 100 - the rough ride continues

At the moment the UK share index is down 0.77%, although it is trying to come back. Further falls are likely as there is so much uncertainty about.

UPDATE 1622z:  At the moment it stands at down 0.99% but it was lower.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Pacers: UK trains that should have gone long ago

According to the BBC website, these diesel trains were stop-gap and should have been replaced long ago.


The image below is located on the BBC site and NOT on this blog.

Visible Northern Lights

This image is on the BBC site and NOT this blog.

There were good views of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) over much of the UK last night, although I was in bed and missed it all.

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Sunday, 6 March 2016

Record highs?
Two of my blogs are heading towards record highs for daily visits. OK, I have put a few more posts than normal on, but I am at a loss to explain quite why there have been so many visits today. My posts are a complete mixture.

The photo shows the latest post on one of these.

Dressing up

This is a recent photo of our granddaughters at our bungalow. They love dressing up. Is this a "girlie" thing?

The costume belongs to the elder granddaughter but she was quite happy for her cousin to wear it.

They both have elder brothers they adore.

Biscuit shortage?

Sorry, but I had not even noticed that we are supposed to have a shortage of biscuits on the shelves of UK shops as a result of floods in Cumbria. Perhaps we don't buy that many.

See .

Migrants (Refugees)

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The migrant crisis in Europe is a real headache. The only viable long-term solution is a fair and just peace in Syria plus fairness and peace in other countries. As I write, the ceasefire in Syria is largely holding.

In the meantime, some continue to try to make life bearable for these poor people, many of whom have left everything in their bid for peace. The link shows an example of practical help on the ground.

No, no-one chooses to uproot everything and live/walk in harsh and dangerous conditions unless there is little hope left. Most of these people are truly desperate people, true refugees in need of our help.

Our son turns 40

It is hard to believe our elder son is 40 this week. Our other son is 2 years younger. This weekend the whole family came up and we all enjoyed a meal out. The photo shows our elder son with all our little grandchildren about to share in a cake in our kitchen.

Our mortality

This has been mentioned here before. 

Currently I am 67.  As we get older, I guess we think of mortality more and more. With not having been well for 2.5 years I guess you think about this even more, knowing that it is likely you will die before too long. It could be next week or it could be in 30 years. It comes to us all.

No-one really knows what happens. Maybe it is just to dust that we turn, even though most religions talk of an afterlife. We knew nothing of before we were born so would nothingness matter?

I guess no good is done by worrying about this. It all depends on individual consciousness. Does anything exist after our bodies turn to dust? What is the nature of that thing we call the mind? One thing is certain, we have small brains and the mysteries of life are great and mostly beyond our understanding.

Life after death? Honestly I think  no-one knows.

Friday, 4 March 2016

More FTSE 100 shares - Friday March 4th

After an early climb, the FTSE 100 share index has been pretty stable all morning. It is currently up 0.52% and been around this level most of the morning.  Sentiment is wishing it higher whereas in the real world it should be much lower.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

FTSE 100 UK share index

It is currently 1114z and the UK share index, the FTSE 100, is up by 0.40% on the day after a shaky start. It could still tumble later.  At its peak, early last year, it was over 7100.


UPDATE 1354z:  Currently the FTSE 100 share index is down 0.22% on yesterday.

UPDATE 1615z:  The FTSE 100 is down 0.25% but climbing.

A picture a day

For some years now my wife and I have done a photo a day as a record of our daily lives. I stopped when I was ill and started again in Jan 2015. It is interesting to see what we did. Unlike some, who go for very "arty" pictures, mine is just a record of ordinary daily life. If you pay $19 annually you can have more albums and private viewing. It is great fun to look back. When people say, "we last came to see you in June" you can say, "actually you came on May 27th" or similar.

See .

Wednesday, 2 March 2016


Yet again the FTSE 100 UK share index is up on yesterday at 6163.97 when I last looked.  It rose sharply earlier, but has been falling for a while. I guess it could go negative later. 

With so much uncertainty I think it will fall sharply soon, although I am frequently wrong! In this case, I very much hope I am proved wrong. Looking at China and Greece I somehow think that emotion rather than reality is driving the markets at present. 

Sooner rather than later the world will wake up to several facts:

  1. Growth cannot go on for ever with limited resources.
  2. Oil will run out.
  3. The population has yet to peak in the world.
  4. All the world needs feeding
  5. All the world deserves a decent standard of living.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016


This came to me via Steve G1KQH:-

See .

Any slowdown in China matters to the West.

FTSE 100

It is now 1238z and the FTSE 100 UK share index stands at 6143.2 which is up 0.73%. With all that is happening in China, I was half expecting a dramatic fall. It seems the stock market wants a recovery, whereas world events are pulling the other way. I reckon we will see dramatic falls before things start  to recover. The world will move away from China, much as they did with Japan. China will become too expensive.

"We ain't seen nothing yet", as the famous phrase went.