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Thursday, 29 December 2016

Facebook "deaths"

There must be plenty of us on Facebook these days.

I am appalled by the ads I see on the RHS which purport to give notice of deaths of famous people. In my experience these are all untrue.

How can people do this? If I believed all I read there would be hardly anyone left! I guess these are designed to grab attention so you click the links. Don't.

Welcome to the post-truth world?

Recurring Dream Themes

It is probably a very common theme to dream about upcoming exams and not having done any or enough revision. At one time I repeatedly dreamt about catching trains to Devon where I came from. Both are probably easily explained.

In recent years, I dream of being at work and about to retire again. Usually I am wondering how I am going to manage (again) on my pension. I have been retired now for almost 8 years! I have no idea why I dream this! In my current state of health there is no way I could work again. Apart from my health issues, I am very happy to be retired and I have no wish to return to a job.

Monday, 26 December 2016

British TV over Christmas

From the BBC website, Christmas TV viewing figures.

I am not a royalist at heart but cannot think of a president who would do as well as our current queen. At 90 years old she does a remarkable job. Her husband Philip is 95! Charles will have a hard act to follow.
  1. The Queen at 3pm - BBC One and ITV - 7.7m
  2. Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special - BBC One - 7.2m
  3. The Great Christmas Bake Off - BBC One - 6.3m
  4. Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas Special - BBC One - 6.1m
  5. Call The Midwife - BBC One - 6.1m
  6. EastEnders - BBC One - 5.9m
  7. Coronation Street - ITV - 5.8m (not including ITV +1)
  8. Doctor Who - BBC One - 5.7m
  9. Frozen - BBC One - 4.7m
  10. Emmerdale - ITV - 4.2m

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Lighter Evenings

In this part of the world it gets darker in the mornings until about Jan 8th, but already it is getting a bit lighter in the evenings. At first the change is very slow, but this evening we put the lights on a little bit later. By the end of January it is about an hour better.

Happy Christmas

I wish all my readers a very happy Christmas and all the best for 2017.  Most days this blog gets updated, unless I am away or too unwell.

For some, Christmas can be a difficult time: others seem happy and cheerful, but some feel lonely at this time of year. To those who think they are unloved I wish you especially a very merry Christmas. May 2017 bring you peace and love.

Stroke update

Over 3 years on now, and I am still affected by my stroke.

My main issues remain my poor voice, drinks, and giddiness/tiredness when on my feet. Overall, I am frustrated, although I know the sooner I come to terms with the new "me" the better. I feel unable to do the things that once would have been so easy. Compared with many I came off lightly. Outwardly, I look fully recovered, which is probably why I feel so frustrated. If there are now any improvements, they are painfully slow.

Nobody, and I really mean nobody, really understands: doctors and others think they understand, but they do not. For years now I have been living a sort of half-life.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Israeli Settlements

Israel is a small country, but that is no excuse to build on land that belongs to the Palestinian people. The UN has condemned them. Israel will simply ignore this and carry on. They are heavily supported by the USA and this will be even worse under Mr Trump.

Long-term peace can only happen when each nation respects each other and treats others with simple human dignity.

Nebula Picture

This image of the Christmas Tree Cluster (2500 light years away) was on the Twitter feed from @marsrader.

Although I have a Twitter account I rarely use it, but get sent an email about postings most days.

Eating Dahlias

Lis (my wife) is reading a Winston Graham book that mentioned eating dahlia roots as an alternative to potatoes. So, as you do, I googled "eating dahlias". It turns out that these were originally from Mexico and were, at one time, a low cost alternative to potatoes. I never knew this.

See .

Friday, 23 December 2016

Trees at Anglesey Abbey

  • Not much to see at this time of year, but new growth is just around the corner. These were some trees at Anglesey Abbey yesterday.

Bridge at Anglesey Abbey

Everything looks wintery at this time of year. It is little wonder that Christmas, and before that a pagan festival, is held close to the winter solstice.

Another month and new growth starts to appear clearly. By mid January there should be some snowdrops and daffodils. Dark nights, short days - roll on spring!

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Climate Change

At the moment, the jury is still out for some, but most seem to be saying the Earth is getting warmer and that this is largely down to Man in recent times. Some argue this is just natural variation and we should ignore it. A recent Guardian article makes you wonder.


In the USA, there seems to be a "Canute" attitude: it is all a Chinese conspiracy and it will just go away. I am far from convinced! We ignore these worldwide risks at our peril. Some cities and island states could be inundated and we should get all the facts and act accordingly.

Our local museum


May I suggest all locals visit in 2017? It is probably the biggest and best local museum, certainly in the area and probably in the whole of the UK.  A real gem with so much to see and do. When they can't go, our little grandchildren cry!

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Sunsets - getting later from tomorrow here

Although mornings get darker until early January the sunset gets later from December 18th here. Winter Solstice is Dec 21st (Wednesday).

At first the change is very slow, but at least we are moving in the right direction!

We'll blink and it will be the longest day.  By the end of January the sun sets almost an hour later.

I enjoy all seasons, but look forward to lighter evenings.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016


One can't help feeling really sorry for Southern Rail passengers who pay over the odds for season tickets and get a rubbish service, with crowded trains, cancellations and strikes. The dispute is over who oversees the closing of doors!  In this case my sympathies are with the commuter who is getting a poor deal. The unions are wrong

It is beholden on unions to act on behalf of their members, but they have to act responsibly. Yes, I know they are concerned about jobs, but this is plain stupid. If I was in charge I would sack them all (union members that is). Normally my political sympathies are left of centre. We cannot behave as if we lived in the 1800s. This is the 21st century for goodness sake.

See .
See . The Luddites were textile workers and weavers who destroyed machinery in the hope of preventing job losses. We have to be efficient - end of story.

Southern Rail union members - grow up!!

Monday, 12 December 2016

MH370 mystery

It is almost 2 years since this Malaysian Airlines plane just disappeared. Now relatives are looking for clues as the official authorities seem to have all but given up. One can imagine the nightmare these people have been though.

See .

Cold Arctic?

See .

The Space Weather website has some great images of stratospheric polar clouds saying the Arctic Circle is getting very cold.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

More stroke after-effects

Even years after my stroke, I am still becoming aware of some of the after-effects. My short-term memory is poor and I seem unable to see quite obvious spelling and grammatical errors. Clearly my brain is not able to process things in quite the same way it once could. I try to correct mistakes as soon as I notice them, but if I miss things, you'll know why!

Saturday, 10 December 2016

South Hams, Devon

Until I went to university I was brought up in the South Hams of Devon where my family have been for centuries (definitely) and probably for millennia. I expect we were Stone Age farmers on Dartmoor thousands of years ago and we fished these waters long, long ago, probably when the coastline was quite different. The picture shows Bolt Tail  in the far distance from Thurlestone.

Old friends - thank you

This weekend we have old friends over staying with us. When I was in hospital, they regularly drove 90 miles each way to come to see me in hospital. Up until 2009 they lived in our village, but they moved to the Cotswolds, partly to be close to their daughter who has MS.

I have said many times that a real illness shows true friends.  In a time of real crisis, some people "came up trumps".  Sadly others just fell away.

A church-going couple next door never once asked how I was and never came to see my wife. Some people just don't "do" illnesses. It is some years since I was in hospital for 3.5 months, but our Cotswold friends are as close as ever. To them and others who were and continue to be kind, a really big thank you.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Family History

Many years ago I came from, and was brought up in the South Hams of South Devon. The picture shows where our family lived for hundreds of years. The earliest record I have is 1428, although I am sure we've ancestors in this part of the world going back thousands of years. Very humbling.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Packhorse bridge - very old.

On Monday, I mentioned we went out to nearby Moulton for a meal with my brother. Moulton is a small village not far from Newmarket.

It has a famous, very old, packhorse bridge as it was once the main route from Cambridge to Bury St Edmunds. Packhorses went over the bridge and horses and carriages went across the ford.

The bridge dates from the 13th or 14th century and is a mix of brick and stone.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Moulton, UK

My brother came up for a few days from Devon, so we went out for a lunchtime meal in the nearby village of Moulton. Here is my wife and my brother on our walk around the village before our meal. There are lots of thatched cottages in this village a few miles from Newmarket. As always, the food at the Packhorse Inn was excellent.

Soar Mill Cove

This photo was taken 4 years ago in South Devon, UK where I was born.  The cliff walk from Hope Cove to Salcombe is perhaps one of the most beautiful in the world, although I am biased!

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Getting close to Christmas

Father Christmas
We are now in the run-up to Christmas. The picture was taken outside our local village hall. There was a Christmas Bazaar inside.

Baby tooth

I am nearly 68 and an Old Age Pensioner. Today, I lost my lone baby tooth that was still in my mouth. For all this time it had remained until today. I guess my gums are shrinking.

Will the tooth fairy still pay out at my age? I guess not!

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Cambridge Christmas Lights

Today, Cambridge was ablaze with Christmas lights. Some shops have had Christmas displays since at least early October. This was the view on the way to the bus stop at Drummer Street.


Today is December 1st and how time flies. It seems no time since summer. The evenings (not the mornings) start to get lighter here from December 18th. The UK Met Office assumes winter starts today and it certainly feels like winter here!

The photo was taken yesterday, but we had a frost again this morning.