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Saturday, 31 May 2014

Cambridgeshire Choral Society - concert tonight

Rutter's Magnificat, Parnell's Dew of Heaven and an organ piece played by Jonathan Lilley at St John's College chapel tonight (Sat May 31st) at 8.00pm. Tickets on the door.

In over 30 years I have only missed a couple of concerts due to ill health. They are usually good value, and of course St John College is in the middle of Cambridge.  Go if you can. You will not be disappointed.

See https://sites.google.com/site/cambschoral/ .

If you enjoy singing, next autumn why not join the choir? Details on the website,above. Please mention this blog.

West Stow - reconstructed Anglo-Saxon settlement

It was amazing how fascinated our 3 and 6.5 year old grandchidren were in this reconstructed Anglo-Saxon village. at West Stow.  They both enjoyed exploring the reconstructed thatched cottages and the 6.5 year old sat mesmorised hearing all about the odd medicines and potions of 1000 years or more ago.
Grandchildren (front left) at West Stow today
We had no idea this was going to be so successful. The Heritage tickets last 1 year so I expect we'll go again and also to Moysey's Hall in Bury-St-Edmunds.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Sleeping together

The two grandchildren started last night in separate beds but the 3 year old decided she wanted to sleep with her 6.5 year old brother in "mum and dad's" bed i.e the double bed used by mum and dad when they stay. Once asleep they were as good as gold not waking until about 0700 and creeping into our bed. We love them.

This morning it was off to Waitrose and Moon's toy shop in Newmarket.

Tomorrow,weather permitting, we are off to West Stow to the reconstructed Anglo-Saxon village so they can see what houses were like 1000 or so years ago. Tickets I understand are valid for a year and include Moysey's Hall in Bury-St-Edmunds.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Grandchildren for a couple of nights

Busy eating birthday cake
On the wagon
Our " London" grandchildren are staying for a couple of nights. This afternoon, we all went to our local Burwell Museum which the kids just love as there is so much to see and do.  Amandine is three this week so we had birthday cake.
Young archaeologists at the museum

Lucien with Grampy



Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Calais camps

Watching some of the refugees at the camps at Calais being dismantled by French police, I am saddened to hear some of their stories. Some are trying to escape wars in their homelands.  Surely we should invite some of these people into the UK as genuine refugees.

Others who are only there opportunistically as economic migrants should be turned away from the UK unless we have a real need of their skills. I wonder what the numbers of genuine political refugees coming into the UK would be? Not that many I suspect. If all EU countries also "took in" genuine refugees the numbers would be small and wholly manageable. I think we have to put ourselves in their position and try to think how we would feel.

The UK should be able to decide who comes to settle here, not the EC. I voted Green, but feel strongly the EC has moved too far now. The UK ultimately is the UK, not Brussels.

Stroke - even more

It is now 3 days without my morning (sickness) medicines and, so far, the sickness is definitely no worse and may be getting better.

Someone wondered whether the reduction in sick feeling is linked to the reduction in liquid (Peg) feeds?  Next Thursday the liquid feed should be ended completely. I hope it is.

At the moment my main issue are giddiness when moving and turning on my feet and general levels of fatigue.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Stroke - a further update

Having gone 2 days now without my "morning" pills - 30mg Fastabs, and Domperidone -  I think my sickness feelings are NOT helped by the medication at all. So, I propose to tell my doctor and stop taking them altogether leaving my statins and pregavelin at night.

My sickness has not been too bad lately and I think it may be improving. Giddiness I am less sure about. Walking is generally easier, but I still get giddy on my feet.

Today food and drinks have both gone down well. Dry toast is easier to eat than toast with butter on. I ate a suet pudding and veg at lunch, and chicken and leek soup, toast plus half a Ginsters pasty (soft pastry) for tea. For supper I had a Weetabix and half a banana in milk.

Background music on TV programmes

Am I alone in HATING programmes on TV with background music that is too loud and too intrusive?

Just been watching a documentary called "The world's weirdest weather" on Channel 4. It was a good and interesting programme nearly ruined by music so loud you could barely hear the man speak.

Do programme makers assume all that watch these programmes are brain-dead and HAVE to have loud music all the time?  Personally I'd prefer no music at all. This loud "epsilon semi-moron" rubbish music really annoys me. Some programmes, usually continental ones, are much better and get the levels right.

Goree Island

It is funny how some places just never appear on ones horizon. I always thought I knew a fair amount about small obscure islands but I'd never heard of Goree Island until reading about it in the BBC History magazine this month. It is off Dakar, Senegal, West Africa and was a staging post on long sea voyages hundreds of years ago. Only a few slaves were sent to America from here.

It sounded like a miserable place for a stop-over filled with nasty bugs and little fresh water. You live and learn.

Battle of Blackpool Sands, near Dartmouth, Devon

This is a little history I had no idea about: an attempted raid on Dartmouth by the French in 1404.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Blackpool_Sands . Well worth a read if you know, or have an interest in, the area. These days Blackpool Sands is a private beach famous for its clean sands.  It is located not too far from Stoke Fleming near Dartmouth.

Family history

Some years ago, my brother and I did some research on my father's side of the family. Using transcribed parish records, Mormon fiches (the Mormons have very good records) and local library searches we managed a direct line back to the 1500s in the South Hams of Devon and found one reference to land ownership in South Huish, S.Devon in 1428. With more effort we could probably get back further still. Lapthorn was Loppedethorn.

We are related (1700s link)  to the Gosport sail-makers Ratsey and Lapthorn who made the sails for HMS Victory.

As far as I can tell, we were "ordinary" folk: mariners, millwights, etc. I have not found links to nobility or royalty!

This represents 13 generations back to the 1500s. My research has been corroborated by fellow genealogist Norman Ford.

As yet,  I have not checked out other branches. For each generation back there are 2 trees, so go back 13 generations and there are a vast number of possible ancestoral lines! I am still humbled to think that ALL these ancestors had to have lived and breathed for me to be here today, right back ti the beginning of time. Life is indeed precious.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Ruined view (Salcombe, Devon)

This view, out towards Bolt Head, has all but been RUINED by insensitive development on what was the Marine Hotel. Slowly but surely developers, keen to make a profit, are destroying Salcombe as it once was. It was a uniquely beautiful seaside town, but is rapidly becoming a smaller version of Torquay.

In 20 years at this rate it will be ruined unless locals put up a fight to save its character.

On Facebook I have been encouraging locals to get more active in local politics as this is the only way that dodgy approvals can be rejected: locals HAVE to be empowered to fight these leeches who often have no real interest in Salcombe's long-term well being. Many are only interested in selling luxury pads at inflated prices - far too much for locals - to rich wankers (sorry bankers) and professional footballers to occupy for a few weeks a year. This HAS to end.

Oh for the day when Salcombe LOCALS realise they have the power to do something about the ruin of their town by outsiders.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Stoke - update

This is an update on my stroke symptoms.

At the moment I get totally exhausted doing anything physically on my feet. This afternoon I cut the rear lawn, but it took an full hour and 4 breaks to do it. Afterwards I was well and truly "cream crackered"! I still get giddy when walking although I think this is a little better when on my feet but not moving. Turning quickly also makes me giddy. My other main symptom is a sickness feeling in my stomach and throat that is perhaps more like indigestion. I am still not sure if my medication make this any better.  My liquid feed (via stomach peg)  is now down to 200ml (over 2 hours) a day and, if my weight is maintained, down to nil the week after next.  My sense of taste is mixed up: some foods taste normal.but my taste of sweet and sour is scrambled. Yogurts,toothpaste, fromage frais, tirramasu all taste bitter, now. Tea without sugar tastes sweet! I have no idea if this will ever improve.

Overall I still feel I am getting better slowly, but I still suffer with the above symptoms and get very fatigued very easily.  I am desparate to get my health back to normal, but realise my recovery is going to take far longer than I would wish. It is getting my wife down - it is hard for her too.

One thing I have found out is who your real friends are. Some of the "showy" public Christians have been noticeble by their total lack of interest in my health and well being. Other people have been genuinely kind and helpful. I shall be forever grateful to these good folk. Don't go by outward show: the real friends stick with you for better or worse. One lady I hardly knew broke down in tears when he heard of my illness - bless her. Some people comment on how well I look. Indeed I look better than I feel inside or indeed am.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Kent train trip


Chris, Lauren and their children
Because I still cannot drive (stroke) we went to Canterbury by train to see our son, his wife Lauren, our 2 grandchildren and the Australian in-laws . Everything went very well. The trains were fine - all on time and clean - and our son and family very good hosts. My main stroke issue still is my giddiness when walking.
Australian grandparents on LHS

Friday, 23 May 2014

Malcolm

Our old neighbour Malcolm dropped in for a cup of tea today. He now lives in Canada and is over in the UK for a few weeks.  It was very good to see him.

Here he is with me outside our bungalow next to the roses. Malcolm is on the right side. The last time he called was last summer before my stroke when I was fully fit. Malcolm looked the best I've seen him in years

Malcolm lost his wife to a nasty cancer a couple of years back -  he still misses her a great deal. Somehow I think he is slowly rebuilding his life again.

Breakfast

Breakfast
This was me eating breakfast in the kitchen this morning. The photo was taken from the front garden outside and you can see the windmill reflected in the window glass.

Toy tractors

Amandine
Last Wednesday we went to La Hogue farm shop for lunch with our son Tim and granddaughter Amandine. She just loves the toy tractors and the slide there. Here she is about to pedal down the slope on one of the larger toy tractors. She is three years old next week.

Magazine junk

Some while back, we subscribed to Saga magazine as the deal was a very good one and the articles are pretty good on the whole.

I know this must be why it is not expensive but I just HATE all the junk flyers that come loose within the packaging. Usually, I shake the contents out and immediately recycle all the junk flyers, then you find there are even more loose inside the magazine itself! So darn annoying! None of this rubbish is ever read in our household.

As an example the Saga magazine has just arrived, so I'll count how many loose flyers there are inside the packaging. Seven. Personally, I'd prefer a few extra pages of ads within the magazine itself. The adverts might then get looked at!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Too late to vote now

The UK polling booths closed at 2200 UK clock time so if you did not vote by then I am afraid you've missed the opportunity to influence the result.

The next big test for the coalition government will be the general election next year. It is quite possible that people will adopt different voting patterns then. The EU election will be seen by many as a chance to protest.

I have a sneaking suspicion that UKIP will achieve less success than some have predicted. I personally hope the Green Party has a good show and wins a few more EU seats.

Privatisation of "core" esssential services

To me it is puzzling that "core" essential businesses are nationalised: that any profits go to shareholders rather than the general public. Likewise I cannot understand why the Royal Mail had to be sold off. Our postal service should be owned by us, the great British public. We should be re-investing any profits back into the Royal Mail, maybe reducing prices rather than improving dividends for the few.

I understand the arguments about "competition" but for energy services - gas, electricity, oil, coal, etc plus postal services, rail and buses surely should all be in public ownership? Yes, the power of irresponsible unions has to be curbed, but the argument for public ownership is a good one. It is wrong for services we totally depend on being in private hands.

I am totally against privatisation of "core" businesses such as energy.

Also, I have grave doubts over fracking.  Although it has the potential for low cost gas, how much better to  invest in clean renewable energy instead? Billions will be invested in fracking which is essentially trying to extend the life of fossil fuels with all the carbon released threatening climate change.

Plastic banknotes

When on holiday in Canada a couple of  years ago I was very impressed by the plastic banknotes which are very hard to wear out. I now see that a Scottish bank is introducing plastic £5 notes.   See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-27517606 .

It would be a good idea if the Bank of England also introduced plastic notes. It surely must save money in the long run as notes would last much longer.

If I remember correctly, the Canadian notes had different smells for different values, helping those with poor sight to distinguish between note values.

Use your VOTE today

Whatever your political allegiance today is your chance to use your democratic right to help elect the MEP that you chose.

My wife and I chose to vote for the GREEN PARTY.   As this election is by proportional representation even votes for minor parties are not wasted.  I very much hope the GREEN PARTY does well and wins more seats. They would act as a moderating influence in Europe.  Their policies seem very sensible, unlike some others. Their catch phrase is "for the common good". These days they have moved on a lot and some forecasts expect them to out-do the Lib Dems.

In a democracy, of course, you are free to vote for whoever you choose. USE your vote.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Stroke and phone calls

Not sure quite why this is, but when friends phone why is it that several of them decide they have to speak "down" to me as if I was stupid? This happens time and time again and is very annoying. As far as I can tell my intellect is fully intact and I am very far from stupid! Maybe it is because my voice still sounds odd (a bit) and I have to speak more slowly to be understood? It must be even more of an issue for others with physical impairments much worse than mine.

If you are a friend phoning me please treat me absolutely normally. I am NOT an idiot and do NOT want to be treated as if I am.

Tides Reach Hotel (Salcombe) - good news!

The plans have now been made public and they please me! I was expecting a large hotel complex quite out of step with  the environment, but I am very pleased to say the developers have good plans that manage to blend a larger, modern hotel well with the existing surroundings.

See www.tidesreachdevelopment.com and look for the display boards from the Cliff House public exhibition held yesterday. I am well pleased this is not going to be an ugly concrete mess.

Designers - thank you, and well done!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

A greener future?

In the Eastern Counties, Rupert Read has a real chance of becoming a Green Euro-MP this Thursday, not least because of proportional representation and voting, so every vote counts and minor parties have a great chance. Last time he polled 9% and he needs 10% to get a seat. Your vote could be the decider!

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bm-KaOzqJw4.

Use your vote on Thursday May 22nd. A vote for the Greens is very much NOT a wasted vote!

Swifts

For the last week or more, swifts have been a common sight on the wing in the skies overhead. Swifts return from Africa around the end of April and the start of May. Usually, most have gone again by late summer, although I suspect many linger in Spain where in September they are still plentiful as are insects.

At this time of year swifts are very common, perhaps more common than many other species. There are a good number of swallows around, but, so far, I have not seen a single house martin. I may just have been unlucky but fear numbers are down yet again. The returning swifts are a real sign of summer. As the poem goes, "all's well with the world...".

Monday, 19 May 2014

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Cambridge United promoted (back) into Football League

After several seasons in the Conference League, Cambridge United beat Gateshead at Wembley this evening to gain promotion back into the Football League Division 2. So next season they will be pitted against the like of Plymouth Argyle.

It was a tense end to their season  as they lost against Gateshead at Wembley last Sunday. The promotion is well deserved and, although (mainly) a "fireside supporter" it pleases me enormously.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/27360422 .

It is a pity the BBC or ITV don't broadcast League 2 games live. MUCH less expensive than Premier League and the clubs would benefit enormously from the broadcasting rights.

Friends visit

Today we were visited for lunch by our old friends Jean and Alan who live in Letchworth in Hertfordshire. This afternoon they visited Burwell Museum and Windmill. These are friends from university days. We see each other not too often, but when we meet up it is as if we last saw each other just a few days ago. This is a measure of true friendship.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Salcombe (South Sands)

Some days ago I mentioned how my old hometown Salcombe was in danger of being ruined by out of character developments, mainly by profiteers from outside only really interested in profits and not the longer term best interests of the town.
From http://www.tidesreachdevelopment.com/plans-and-images/
Next week (May 20th, Cliff House) there is a public meeting on plans to develop the Tides Reach Hotel site at South Sands. See http://www.tidesreachdevelopment.com/plans-and-images/ . This is a chance for the general public to influence the planning decisions. In my view, apathy could take over and the whole plan get approved even  though it could ruin the area. Go on-line and get your democratic voice heard or visit the exhibition and complete feedback forms!

Maybe I am totally wrong although recent planning decisions make me think the developers have BIG ideas and they are assuming the plans will just be waived through.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Bizarre sounds this afternoon

This afternoon our ears were hit by a couple of bizarre sounds.

Firstly the sound of a bagpipe sounding a lament leaving a house in our Close to accompany the coffin of a neighbour who died having had Altziemers for many years.  Later the bagpipe could be heard as the coffin left the church.

Then the sound of a Rag and Bone man's van with the song "Any Old Iron". This I had not heard for years and years. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Any_Old_Iron_%28song%29 . At one time this was a familiar street sound, but not any more.

Chippenham


This is the OTHER Chippenham (near Newmarket) rather than the one in Wiltshire.  This Chippenham has a hall with a massively long wall than must have cost thousands when made in the 1700s. It also has delightful cottages (see above) which look like alms houses, or cottages for workers on the local estate.

Snailwell



Snailwell is a small village a few miles from here.  It is nothing special: a collection of delightful houses and cottages in the older part and a few more nondescript houses in the rest of the village.  It does have a splendid little church with a round tower. These towers are common in East Anglia but far less common locally.  This was the first church in which our grandson rang a church bell some years ago now when he was about 4.

Profound tiredness

One of the effects of my stroke is I feel profoundly tired when awake a lot of the time. This feels more like M.E. as this tiredness is like nothing I have known. Every thing I do requires immense effort.

Gradually, I hope these feelings will subside, but right now, coupled with my giddiness on my feet and a slight sick feeling all the time, life is a struggle. Some days are better than others and I tend to remember the worse days.

My pattern does feel like 3 good days forward followed by 2 bad (worse) days.

Roll on getting properly better.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Floating homes?

One possible measure to ease the problems of rising sea levels and inland flooding are homes that float. This is not a new idea: such homes have been a common site in Holland for many years. It has even been suggested that entire cities should be made that float. By the end of this century London and New York could both be regularly, or even permanently, flooded.

For ideas see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-27425225 .

Why I am voting Green next week

See http://reasonstovotegreen.herokuapp.com/ .

No political party perfectly matches my wishes but the closest are the Greens and they will be getting my vote next week. I do not see this as a wasted vote at all, rather a chance to say how I feel about many matters.

UKIP may pick up some  protest votes but I want to vote for a real party with real policies. UKIP seem to be strong on getting out of Europe but very little else. The Green manifesto looks well thought out. They have changed. Make up your own mind.

Use your vote next week.

The Greens - a wise choice.

Quadcopters

At a BBQ a few years ago one of the guests had a small quadcopter controlled by wi-fi from an iPad. Equipped  with stabilisers and an in-built camera it was able to fly over the assembled guests and we could all see ourselves on the iPad from about 20-30m above ground level. Prices then were around £200 but I expect prices have dropped. Great fun with iPad control and in-built camera. Of course drones have war uses, but this was a nice benign application. The design looked robust enough to survive the occasional crash although most have algorithms to land safely if out of wi-fi range, I believe.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-27403761 .

Weather and moods

It is funny how the weather influences ones mood. Today here we have started the day here with very bright sunshine and I feel much better: still giddy and still slightly sick inside, but feeling much more positive.

At the moment I am on 400ml of liquid feed via my stomach peg. Next week this reduces to 200ml, all being well.  I am eating 4 meals a day by mouth (breakfast, lunch, tea and supper) and have 2-3 drinks by mouth. I am maintaining the same weight I was when on 900ml of liquid feed, which is 11 stone.

All being well, I shall be off the peg feed (directly into my stomach) during June and that will be a real milestone on the road to full recovery. I still have to conquer the giddiness and sickness.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Sepura shares

Sepura shares have been "on the up" recently. They fell back to around 132p but have climbed back to 140p. Not too long ago they were worth about 30p.   Unfortunately shares can fluctuate widely, but recent movements suggest Sepura must be doing something right.

Lawns

Most weeks, our "London" son visits us with our granddaughter Amandine. Whilst here, he usually cuts the front and rear lawns, bless him. To save him time, my wife Lis mowed (part of) the rear lawn.
Granddaughter Amandine (nearly 3) being a butterfly today
Lis dislikes me being ill: in days gone by I would do both lawns in about 1 hour. These days it is a real struggle for me. I wish it wasn't so, but I cannot help it.  I'd love not to depend on anyone. Roll on that day, please.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

3 steps forward and 2 back?

This is the pattern my stroke recovery seems to take. Some days are good and I feel things are improving, only for this to be followed by a day or more when I appear to slide backwards.

Today has been a bad day: although food and drinks have gone down OK, I feel very giddy and tire easily. I very much hope I can overcome the giddiness. This and the uncomfortable sickness feeling in my stomach and food pipe are making life very hard.

If  I am honest, only sleep is a release.  Days are long and uncomfortable and I am sure no-one (not even my long suffering wife) understands just how miserable life still is for me. I very much want to be well again and able to do all the things I used to be able to do. But almost everything I do exhausts me. A slight bit of gardening and I am zonked out

I keep going because people tell me I will get better given time. God, I hope they are right as life as it is now is unbearable for too much longer.



Gym referral

As my physio sessions for my stroke draw to a close in Ely I have now been recommended "on referral" to the Newmarket Leisure Centre for further work on balance and stamina. Being referred, one gets discounted rates for the 12 weeks of group sessions twice a week for 30 minutes each. Hopefully this will help my recovery.

I  am not really a "gym" sort of person, but I am game for anything which will help me recover my "old" self.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Sepura

Can you believe it - it is over 6 years ago that I retired from Sepura.  For the first few years I still felt "connected" to the old place but these days it is just a distant memory. Most times were good ones, but towards the end things were getting silly and I was glad to get out and realise there was more to life. When fully fit I really enjoyed my retirement: time to do what I wanted, when I wanted, for a change. Our grandchildren came along when we had time to see and be there for them. At the moment, with my stroke, retirement is harder work and I cannot do as much as I'd want. Hopefully this will get better again soon.

Sepura shares are doing well, having risen from around 30p to 137.50p currently, although they were even higher earlier in the year.  Most of my Sepura shares have gone, but I do still hold some.

Of course, I wish all my old Sepura colleagues every success.  It must be even harder working there now I expect.  I have no idea about projects or people there these days. It is several years since I have been in.

Hedge trimmer

Our (quite old) hedge trimmer is lost: we have checked the garden shed and garage and cannot find it. The Qualcast 500W hedge trmmer is £39.99 in Homebase, less 10% OAP discount on Tuesdays, which seems a fair price. I bet it does NOT last as long as the old one though!

Sadly this stuff is made in China (I expect) and almost guaranteed to fail within a few years. My son had a so called " decent" fridge that failed after just 2 years. Although the parts were under warranty the labour was not and it was actually cheaper to buy a new fridge. What a crazy world we live in!

Flight MH370?

Notice how this is no longer news worthy?

It still strikes me as VERY odd that not a single piece of wreckage has been spotted by anyone anywhere. My guess it was secretly landed somewhere. The USA remains extremely quiet considering they must have the spy technology to have located it by now.  Is the USA in some shape or form complicit?  Who knows.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Day in Canterbury

For the first time since my stroke last September I ventured out of the county (Newmarket and Bury-St-Edmunds, Suffolk excepted), with my wife, to visit my son and family who live near Canterbury, Kent.

As I cannot drive (currently, as a result of the stroke) we did a day return by train. It was seamless and travel in both directions was fast. We had from 12-4pm with our son and family and about the same time in travel on fast trains, especially in Kent.

Now we have done it once we may well do it again. Being a Sunday, parking at Cambridge station was easy and cheap. Our son picked us up at Canterbury West station. There were no delays because of engineering works.

Booking in advance, via http://www.thetrainline.com/, and using our Seniour Railcards, the fares were reasonable too. 

All in all, a very good day.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

What does my stroke feel like?

People who see me say, "you do look well" and similar.  I have then to explain how I feel on the inside.

Outwardly I do look pretty good: I have put back lost weight, got colour back in my cheeks and am looking more and more like my "old" self.  Inside it is (still) a very different story. The best way to describe how I feel is by saying I feel wobbly all the time when walking - like I have had 8 pints of beer -  always giddy and unsteady when on the move. Any physical exertion, like a tiny bit of gardening, leaves me shattered and in need of a sit-down and rest. I also feel near constant, low level nausea in my stomach and gut.

Overall, I AM making progress but this is too slow!  I desperately want to be "normal" again . At present, it seems 3 steps forwards and 2 backwards. I should be off  the stomach liquid feed by June/July and already the amount through the peg is vastly reduced compared with when I first came out of hospital. I think my giddiness and sickness/nausea are slowly improving.

So, I may look OK but inside I still feel rough at the moment. Normality is a way off yet still, sadly. Thankfully I sleep very deeply: when I drop off it is (usually) a long and good quality sleep. Sleep is the only time in the day I feel OK. The rest of the time is still a struggle.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Anonymity in sex cases?

With many people accused of sex charges recently being acquitted, is it not time to grant those accused of sex charges anonymity until proven guilty? In English law a person is innocent until tried and found guilty but the press coverage of many recent trials makes a nonsense of this. What is worst, mud sticks. Even if found not-guilty the harm to reputation as a result of the early sensationalist press and TV coverage is extreme.   This coverage is usually sensationalist in nature.  If found guilty the accused will usually have to serve time in prison i.e. they have to pay back to society.

As an example, Ralph Harris is already being judged guilty even though his trial has only just started. If he is acquitted, the bad press will still be there to haunt him.  This serves no good.  See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-27340134 .

Personally, I think both sides in sex trials should be granted anonymity. To do otherwise is grossly unfair on those accused and then often found not guilty. A non-guilty verdict should leave the accused able to walk free with head held high, not to be forever in fear of the press baying for yet more blood.  When the accused is guilty the sentence is the punishment.

I am all for justice, but let us have justice for all. To judge a person guilty before a trial has ended and all the evidence has been heard is totally wrong.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Salcombe, Devon - how to destroy it

In the last few years, Salcombe is being taken over by rich bankers and the like with silly money and very small brains. Homes and flats are being sold for millions, hotels are being converted into penthouse suites, and now the Tides Reach Hotel at South Sands is being redeveloped at a cost of £12M as a boutique hotel for yet more of the stinking rich. It makes me sick.

Salcombe and harbour from Snapes Point
At one time, Salcombe was a pleasant seaside town enjoyed by many. Now it is becoming the holiday home from home (for a few weeks a year) of the rich and famous and a ghost town out of season. It cannot go on: the locals can no longer afford to live in the town. In 20 years tradespeople will ALL live out of Salcombe.

It really saddens me to see how my hometown is changing.

Wet (at home) day

This morning I had a 1 hour visit from the speech therapist because of my stroke. This was uneventful. This was followed by a visit from an old work colleague, Ted Williams. We talked radios most of the time.

After Ted went home we had lunch which was more important than usual: my dietician has advised me to reduce my liquid feed (via Peg into my stomach) down from 600ml a day to just 400ml, meaning I now need to eat more substantial meals by mouth. I had a pie. potatoes and spinach - it was a decent helping. I must also eat more soft snacks between meals.

As the weather is so wet, I doubt we will go far today.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Afternoon tea at Simpson's garden centre

Amandine "reading" Mr Men earlier
This afternoon our son Tim and daughter Amandine came up to see us. Tim cut the grass and afterwards we all went out to our local garden centre for afternoon tea.  My wife bought some plants afterwards.  Amandine loved her trifle and fruits. Here she is tucking into her fruit bowl.
Amandine and our son Tim

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Branson's visit


Peter Branson
Today we had the pleasure of our old friends, Peter and Chris Branson who were in Burwell for the day. Chris went out with my wife Lis for lunch and Peter had lunch with me at home. A long time ago I worked with Peter and Lis has been friends with Chris since our boys were babies.

Chris Branson (nearest camera) with my wife Lis
Like all real friends, it is very easy to pick up where we last left off, almost like we'd seen them just yesterday, even though they now live 100 miles away in the Cotswolds and we've not seen them for many weeks.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Quiet again here


Grandchildren with their mum
Our "London" grandchildren,and their mum and dad have returned home, so we are quiet again here. We love having them come to stay.

Time to jam
Tomorrow we have some good old friends coming across from the Cotswolds for the day. It will be good to see them. They'd be welcome to stay the night but have to get back for a meeting Wednesday morning.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Cambridge United FC

Cambridge United ( the "U's") are off to Wembley for the Conference play-off finals. I sincerely hope they make it back into the Football League. They deserve it.

The play-off final kicks off at 4pm Sunday May 18th.

Vote Green?

See http://www.greenparty.org.uk/ .

Reading their values on their website (see below)  they are very close to my own. Maybe I should vote green in the EU elections in a few weeks' time?

"We live in unsettling times.
Many of the securities that our parents and grandparents fought for – a functioning National Health Service, free education, and an affordable home – now look out of reach for most of us.
Coupled with this, climate change is bringing unpredictable and threatening weather patterns.
People feel let down by politicians, and yet there has been an explosion in political activism. People want to do things differently and aren’t afraid to be bold and challenging.
We believe that public services should be for the benefit of the public, not sold off in bits; we believe that education is worth investing in and not something that should mean a lifetime of debt; we believe in leaving behind a better world for our children and grandchildren.
This is the only world we have and its welfare, above all things, should be the highest priority for us all.
Politics should work for the benefit of all, not just those who shout the loudest or have the deepest pockets.
We believe in “The Common Good”.
A vote for the Green Party is a vote for The Common Good."

Dead quiet!

My son is watching snooker on TV in the bedroom, grandchildren are both asleep in beds and in the lounge my wife and daughter-in-law are reading books.  The TV is off.

All is very quiet - lovely.

Family day

This afternoon our son Tim, his wife and their 2 delightful young children came to stay for the night. They go back to London after lunch tomorrow. We love their company and especially enjoy the little grandchildren. The youngest  of this pair is not quite 3 and her elder brother is 6.5 years old. They have cousins in Kent who are a little younger.

Gerry Adams released

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-27278039.

Gerry Adams has been released from custody following days of questioning over the 1972 murder of Jean McConville in Northern Ireland. A file is being prepared to decide whether charges will be brought later.  Mr Adams has always denied involvement in the murder.

One thing is certain: if Gerry Adams is summoned, justice may be served, but the Northern Ireland peace process will be irreparably damaged . In some ways,  a greater peace would be served if he was not prosecuted, even if the PPS believe he was involved. Sinn Féin are "engaged" in the peace process and alienating them would not be in the long-term interests of the province.  The next six months will be critical for the peace process. I am glad this decision is not mine to make.

In an ideal world the evil past would be history. One good thing would be for both side to say where "The Disappeared" are buried i.e. those killed by the IRA and protestants but whose place of burial has never been known. For the families this has been a nightmare. I am a believer in a amnesty for past political crimes and realise some who committed real atrocities would be free men.   Evil was done on both sides of the divide in the last 50 years.  Surely better to bury the hatchet of  history and to work constructively for a really long, peaceful future. One of the enduring images in recent years in Northern Ireland is of Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley - once sworn enemies - enjoying a laugh together (the so-called "chuckle brothers").  If they can make peace there is real hope.

Sadly, this is Northern Ireland and nothing follows sensible paths. We must now wait and hope.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Salcombe, Devon - where I came from years ago


Salcombe, S.Devon
These pictures came from Jacqueline Hanniford and show a couple of views of Salcombe, Devon, where I grew up as a child.  People ask why did I ever move away? The usual answer - work. Work brought me to Cambridge back in 1970 and I have lived and worked in this area ever since. Now retired here. My brother still lives near Salcombe and we visit most years for a couple of weeks or more. Homes are very expensive in Salcombe nowadays. It is a beautiful spot.
Looking out to sea  - Salcombe

Friday, 2 May 2014

Politics in Northern Ireland

Politics in Northern Ireland continues to puzzle me.

I am in no position to say whether or not Gerry Adams was in any way, shape or form involved in the murder in 1972 of Jean McConville.  In many ways I hope he was not.

There is a kind of uneasy peace in the province. In many ways, the sectarian violence of a few years ago has gone, yet the fundamental sectarian bad feelings are still there simmering just beneath the surface. A visit to Northern Ireland still has reminders of the past: the barriers between Catholic and Protestant areas are still there in Belfast, the police stations still have huge barrier fences etc. The politics is divided on sectarian lines even now, not politics in the sense we know it elsewhere in the UK.

It seems to me very little would be needed to change the current (uneasy) peace back to violence.

Why cannot the ordinary folk of this most beautiful province cast the past aside and really embrace peace? True peace can only come when forgiveness has a chance to flourish. We are still some way from this.

Max Clifford gets 8 years sentence

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-2725931 .

So PR guru Max Clifford gets a sentence of  8 years allegedly for sexual assaults on women. With good behaviour "inside" he will be out again in 4-5 years' time. What do I think? No real views, but he was tried on the evidence before a  judge and jury and found guilty, so he must serve his time according to English law.

This is one of the Operation Yewtree trials that has led to a conviction. I assume the evidence must have been convincing, whereas in many other trials it depended on very old, and somewhat hearsay, evidence that was never going to convince a jury, beyond reasonable doubt, of the defendant's guilt. In English law a man is innocent until proven guilty: the onus is on the prosecution to convince the jury of the evidence beyond reasonable doubt i.e. it has to be good and solid evidence.

My view is that a lot of people are getting on the compensation bandwagon now and many cases should not be brought to court.  If the evidence is strong and recent, then yes, but hearsay evidence that is 50+ years old, when our public morals were very different is not on.  In my place of work 50 years ago, the moral climate was quite different. Many a girl had her bottom pinched or was wolf whistled. I am not saying this was right, just that our standards today are different. What was acceptable then may not be by our standards today.

I also have a problem that it is only now these cases are coming into the open. Surely if a person was a monster 40 years ago he should have been brought to justice then and not in 2014? The argument that people would not have been believed then are not that convincing in really serious cases

 My views - you may well hold differing views.

Stroke progress

When I came out of hospital in January I was expecting to get better very quickly. That was early January and we are now early May, almost 4 months later.

Although walking is much better I still have major balance issues best described as feeling like I've just had 8 pints of beer. My eating and drinking by mouth are not that different, especially drinking which I still find hard.  However, I have much less liquid feed directly into my stomach and am eating a larger variety of foods by mouth though.  I must be making progress without realising.

The lesson seems to be to measure progress in many months and not weeks and to be very patient. Progress is slow and in fits and starts.  I have to "hang in there" and not expect to get instantly better. All in its own time. This is not as I expected. Some days I feel I'm actually sliding backwards and this can be disheartening. To be honest, I am very frustrated with the progress.
.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Peaches Geldof

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-27242721

What a sad loss of a young life. Heroin was found in her body so she may have died, like her mother, from an overdose? Whatever, it is too young to die for any reason, especially with a child. Sir Bob Geldof lost a young wife and now has lost a daughter. My heart goes out to him in his pain. It must be dreadful for him, especially with a world watching, when all he wants is to be able to grieve in peace.

Carbon Capture

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-27063796 .

We seem to be sleep-walking into the future with no real attempts to move away from a carbon based energy economy. Oil and gas are very heavily subsidised I believe in many western nations, so there is no imperative to make a switch to more sustainable energy sources. This being so we need to either change (fast) or move to measures that will mitigate the effects of high carbon use.

The UK looks to have been granted EU money (300M euros) to support a pilot project (see BBC report linked). This takes CO2 from coal power station emissions and buries it under the North Sea. If successful, CCS could be a useful technique as we make the switch to a lower carbon energy economy.

 We tend to forget the positive side of EU membership.

Just chilling

Yesterday one of our sons and a granddaughter came and this morning neighbours came for coffee.

This afternoon we are expecting no-one so we are just relaxing - chilling - in our cosy lounge. I am getting blogs up to date and my wife is reading her book. Perfect on a rainy day.

Salt of the earth people

A couple of our neighbours, Margaret and Brian, came over for coffee today. When I was in hospital they were very kind indeed and supportive of my wife.

Strange how a serious illness brings out the worst, and very best, in people. A couple of our "Christian" neighbours  (regular churchgoers and the wife a Sunday school teacher) have hardly wanted to know me - they have called to see me once since leaving hospital (we invited them)  -  whereas others have been totally and genuinely concerned and kind.

Two such are Margaret and Brian - genuine "salt of the earth" people, kind to the very core. Thank you.

I am not seeking kindness, but I can easily tell genuine love and kindness from "sham" kindness (doing good because it is a duty).