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Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Stroke - a bad day

It seems to be a pattern: if I have a few days that stress me physically or mentally, then I have a bad day when I feel totally exhausted all day. Today was such a day: I have felt washed out all day. Let's hope tomorrow I'll feel better, or at least not tired out totally.

Big FTSE 100 falls

The FTSE 100 index fell to 6773 tonight, which is a fall of 1.72%. I think further falls are possible as we run towards the next General Election, the outcome of which is very uncertain.

Rainbow and churches blog

See http://eachurches.blogspot.co.uk/ .

Rainbow
Today we visited Wilburton St Peter church located some 10-12 miles north of Cambridge.  Parts of this light and airy church date back to the 13th century.

Today was a showery and blustery day.   On the way home we saw a great rainbow, but it soon disappeared.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Poll tracker

We are now officially in the run-up to the next General Election here in the UK.The two major parties, Conservative and Labour are neck and neck with 34% of the vote. In politics 6 weeks to the General Election is a long time and the odd gaff could rapidly change things.

I am still undecided who to vote for but at the moment it is probably LibDem. If not "first pass the post" I'd probably be voting Green. In this constituency I shall be voting tactically.

For the poll tracker see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/politics/poll-tracker .

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Further stroke update

Taking B12 supplements had no effect whatsoever on my fatigue. Currently I am suffering from extreme fatigue, giddiness when walking and poor speech and swallow of some liquids. I am beginning to question if I shall ever be right again. I am determined to be my old self again but it is harder now as any improvements are very small.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Knox and Sollecito acquitted of Kercher murder

So the top court in Italy has acquitted them.

As long as justice has been fairly done I am happy. I have not been following this very closely but it was an odd matter. Amanda Knox seems to have had a strange life in recent days with the threat of extradition back to jail in Italy. As this was from the highest court in Italy I understand it is final.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-32096621 .

Clocks go forward tonight

In the UK, clocks go FORWARD an hour to British Summer Time (0100 GMT becomes 0200 BST). It means we get less time in bed, but the evenings are lighter again. It will not be dark until after 1930 BST, which will be good.

Of course, we are now in grass cutting season again. I did a small cut about a week ago and will probably cut again next week.

Friday, 27 March 2015

East Anglian Churches blog - updated again

See http://eachurches.blogspot.co.uk/ .

This has been updated today to include St Edward, King and Martyr in Cambridge. This little church has a famous place in the English Reformation as the place where Robert Barnes gave one of the very first Reformation sermons. Hugh Latimer also preached here. The very same pulpit is still in use to this day.

Our 7 year old grandson's day was made earlier this week when he was shown the bells and rang some of them.

Ali, who I think is the tower captain, was really very very kind. Thank you Ali for making his day.

Total exhaustion

Until I had my cerebellum brain bleed in Sept 2013 I had no real conception of total exhaustion. At the  moment almost any physical or mental activity rapidly leave me in a state of near collapse - I get totally exhausted and I just have to rest to regain my strength and equilibrium. At night I sleep very well yet it is usually after breakfast that I feel really, really exhausted.  I guess people with MS and ME feel like this often, but it is very hard for others to appreciate. I hate being like this.  Being on the computer is one of the few activities that does not tire me.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

North Sea jobs go

Jobs are being cut in the North Sea oil industry. Although, of course, I hope those losing their jobs soon find new work, we need to invest far more in renewables and less in the past. Oil and gas do not need subsidies. We should be looking to the future.

Also, whilst I can fully understand the short-term benefits of fracking, I see this as a backward step: far better we were investing more in better insulation and renewables.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-32065506 .


East Anglian Churches Blog - updated

See http://eachurches.blogspot.co.uk/ .

I have updated the East Anglian churches blog to include Isleham Priory. The entry for Isleham church has also been updated.

Letters from a future king to the government to be published

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32066554 .

The Guardian newspaper has won a ruling that letters from Prince Charles to government ministers some years ago are allowed to be published.

Falling FTSE 100

Already this morning, the FTSE 100 share index has tumbled 1.27% and I have the feeling further falls are likely.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business/markets/europe/lse_ukx .

Rain

We seem to have had far more rain here in East Anglia in recent years. When I first came to this part of England 45 years ago it was pretty dry.   Nowadays we seem to get our fair share of rain. Climate change?

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

FTSE 100 below 7000 again?

Although there is still a chance it will creep back again, it looks like the FTSE 100 will close below 7000 this evening. With the continued uncertainty in Europe I can see it falling back quite a bit in the coming months.

Lady Day - March 25th

Today, March 25th, is Lady Day. This was an important day years ago linked to the old liturgical calendar, the courts and legal matters.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Day .

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

FTSE 100 falls a bit

Although still above 7000, the FTSE 100 index fell 0.26% today. It was in positive territory for most of the day.

I think we could see a lot of turbulence in the run-up to the next UK General Election and in the days and weeks that follow. All the polls suggest a tight result with a clear winner unlikely.

It would not surprise me to have another coalition government. In my view this would be no bad thing if the Lib-Dems were part. I hope UKIP do not do well as they seem to be a messy party with few thought out policies. All they really want it seems is the UK out of Europe. Most of us want a better deal with more control of our borders, but a vote for one of the major parties is likely to be more useful in a "first past the post" election

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business/markets/europe/lse_ukx .

Visit from my brother

This afternoon we picked up my brother John (4 years older than me) from Cambridge railway station. He travelled up from Totnes in Devon by train.  John was a regular visitor when I was in hospital. It was last June that he last came up as every time a visit was planned we seemed to have grandchildren. He is staying until Friday. It is great to see him again.

Monday, 23 March 2015

FTSE 100 reaches new heights

Today, the FTSE 100 reached new heights, some way above 7000. I wonder if it will crash soon?

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-32014998 .

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Stroke - further update

Although there are signs I am still making a slow recovery, I am really aware of my health shortcomings currently. Although my poor swallow of thin liquids and poor voice are perhaps the most obvious symptoms to others, it is my fatigue that gets me most. It appears that both physical and mental  activities exhaust me. Having 2 of the grandchildren for 2 nights and picking them up from Birchhanger Services has really tired me out far more than I expected.

It seems I have to pace myself more and not exhaust myself. It is not just physical activity. I need to be careful not to tire myself mentally too. I am told that it is my brain learning to rewire itself. Both physical and mental things are exhausting right now. Plenty of rest is needed.

In the last 1.5 years I have suddenly felt so much older and so much more more vulnerable.

Semi-tame ducks

For some time now we have had  a pair of tame mallard ducks waddling around our close. Today they were curious when we arrived home and came into the drive and front garden. The photo shows our granddaughter Amandine looking at them. When they realised there was no food on offer, they went down the road.

Grandchildren

We have our "London" grandchildren staying for a few days and nights. The house goes from order to disorder very quickly! 

I am still suffering the after effects of my cerebellum brain bleed in Sept 2013 so I get tired quickly. I really love seeing all my little ones, but wish I had more energy.

This is a recent picture of them all taken by one of my sons in Kent.

Friday, 20 March 2015

St Helena and its new airport

After hundreds of years of isolation being served only by the regular mail boat from Cape Town every few weeks, St Helena will have an airport (£250m) opening next year. The population is only 4000, wages are low and the opening of the air link is likely to change this small territory for ever. It was once the home of Napoleon after his defeat at Waterloo. Otherwise it has no real claim to fame. It is located in the South Atlantic.

Tristan da Cuhna much further south remains without air transport.
Relatively near Ascension Island has air links with the UK and the Falkland Islands.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31945384 .
See also http://sthelenatourism.com/ .

FTSE 100 - will it reach 7000 today?

The FTSE 100 share index has been up and down recently.  However, it is edging (on average) ever closer to the 7000 barrier and as long as it continues its climb today, it could end the day above 7000. We'll soon know. If not today, it seems likely this barrier will be broken, although it could fall again just as fast.

UPDATE 1508z:   At the moment, the FTSE 100 index is at 6991.41.

UPDATE 1614z:  Well, it climbed over 7000 and currently is at 7013.

UPDATE 2005z:  It ended the day at 7022.5 i.e. way up.   I wonder how long before it has a dramatic fall?

Eclipse - a non-event here

As there was quite thick cloud here, the partial solar eclipse was a bit of a non-event here, although it was better elsewhere in the UK. I did a walk at the best time. Although the clouds were dark and it looked like it was about to rain, the sun was not visible here sadly. This was a partial eclipse but at 95-98% in the UK still pretty full. I remember the full eclipse in 1999 as we were on holiday in Gloucestershire and got good views. The next chance is in 2026.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

East Anglian Churches blog

Today we went up to the north of the fenland area (these days pretty dire!) to visit Walpole St Peter, which A.Clifton-Taylor called the loveliest church in England. The East Anglian Churches blog has been updated.

See http://eachurches.blogspot.co.uk/ .

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Israeli Elections

So exit polls suggest no clear winners, so no surprises then. Coalition governments are a way of life in Israel and there will no doubt be some tough bargaining in the coming weeks.

All I hope is that whatever coalition is formed that it takes the peace process seriously for once. The Middle East has too many conflicts and a good, solid peace deal with Israel's neighbours is way overdue.

I am always amazed that the Israeli's seem to choose  conflict and violence to settle old scores. Let peace blossom.  Israel, you know it makes sense.   I know it takes at least 2 to forge peace, but frankly Israel has not even been trying for as long as I can remember. I was born in 1948.
  .
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel .
.

Oil prices

Funny (strange) how oil prices have fallen again in the last week or so, yet prices at the pumps have increased. Of course, the big oil companies will have many reasons for the lag. Let us hope prices for oil and diesel do actually fall again.

Judges and porn?

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31920906 .

Although we live in a free country and, within reason, people are free to choose what they look at and read, the judges who were caught with porn on their work PCs must have been stupid. My personal view is you should be free to watch/read whatever you like in private as long as no-one else is impacted. Using a work account is not acceptable.

Monday, 16 March 2015

UK Met Office weather forecasts - rubbish?

We spend millions on new super-computers yet our Met Office seems incapable of making a decent weather forecast! We planned to meet our son and granddaughter at our local  farm shop in the (promised) sunshine so our granddaughter could enjoy the slides, swings and toy tractors. Sadly the forecast is now for light rain! Honestly, even over a few days the forecasts change so much that they cannot be relied on. Basically a piece of wet seaweed would be as accurate.

UK General Election - May 7th 2015

Well, this time I really have no-idea who to vote for! Historically, this was a safe Conservative seat but the standing MP (Sir James Paice) is not up for re-election. Tactical voting is probably essential. As stated previously  there are things in the policies of all parties I like. There are also bad things about most parties. I think I shall be using my "first pass the post" vote to vote for the least bad party.  There is no single party I want to vote into power. At the moment it is either Labour (but I cannot stand Ed or some of his shadow cabinet) or Conservative (David Cameron is a good leader, but I dislike many of his policies). Last time I voted Lib Dem, but fear wasting my vote this time around. I voted Green in the European  elections, but here it was not "first pass the post".

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Upcoming Cambridge Concert

This is advanced warning of an upcoming CCS concert April 25th 2015 at the West Road Concert Hall in Cambridge. This is a great venue with good seating, great acoustics, warmth and local parking. This should be a great concert.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Sand martins in Devon

Spring has (almost) sprung! There have now been several sightings of 20+ sand martins in South Devon. These are among the first of the migrants to return. They are the smallest hirundine.  Sand martins have dark brown upper parts and they winter in Africa.  In recent years sand martin numbers have plummeted and they are now on the RSPB's "amber" list.  There are estimated to be 54,000-174,000 nests in the UK. This sounds a lot, but numbers are dropping because of droughts on their migration routes in some years.

By the month end we should have house martins and swallows back in Devon who will have flown 6000 miles to be here in the UK again. When the swallows return here in East Anglia you know all is still well with the world:. they have been making this journey for many thousands , if not millions, of years. Most return to the very same nests they used last summer, if they can. I find the return of the martins, swallows and swifts a real joy. It makes me glad to be alive.

Tikrit

Saddham's old stronghold is currently being fought over in Iraq and may fall to Iraqi government forces soon we are told.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-31883430 .

Friday, 13 March 2015

Afghanistan war

Brave men and women fought in Afghanistan, but overall with hundreds of UK service men and women dead and thousands injured or scarred psychologically was it worth it? The British have fought in Afghanistan since the first half of the 19th century. We again left with a job half done. Wars are no way to win hearts and minds.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31866944 .

Thursday, 12 March 2015

365 Project

Both my wife and I are doing  the "365 Project". The idea is simple: just take a photo every day of the year. It makes a very good record of what we have been doing. Some choose to put up arty photos but we choose mainly "ordinary" photos i.e. the stuff of everyday life - things that may mean something to us but may not mean a lot to others.

Today we went to Wimpole Hall so I chose this tame robin as my picture for today.

See http://365project.org/ .

Wimpole Hall

As it was bright, mild and sunny (14 deg C) we decided to go for a walk at Wimpole Hall, the National Trust place west of Cambridge. We also stopped there for a simple lunch.

See  http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wimpole-estate/ .

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

FTSE 100 index and Sepura shares (SEPU)

The FTSE 100 share index has recovered a little of the big losses of yesterday when the markets were spooked by the slowdown in China and possible interest rate rises in USA. Sepura (my old company) lost ground a bit today.

Against the euro, the pound got better today ending up at 1.418 euros to the UK pound. I still think a Greek exit from the euro is highly possible as I cannot see a quick fix to their debt problems.   The Greeks still hate the Germans as a result of WW2. This could end in real disaster for Greece. A return to their old national currency would not be an easy move.

Have you noticed how the Japanese yen has weakened in recent years? Not many years ago it was about 125 yen to the UK pound. Now it is more like 183 yen to the UK pound and has been as high as 189 yen to the pound.

East Anglian Churches Blog

Today we visited a couple more churches near Cambridge and I have updated our churches blog.

See http://eachurches.blogspot.co.uk/ .

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

U3AC

Today was the last session of my University of the 3rd Age in Cambridge course entitled "Maps in the Digital Age". It was a very good course and taught me a great deal. It is amazing how far map data has come. Apparently, resolutions down to 30cm are now available on civilian satellite maps. One can only imagine the resolution available to the military.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Feeling so much older

Before my cerebellum brain bleed in Sept 2013 I felt like I would go on for ever. Since that eventful day I have felt ill and old.

Even the pace of improvements seems to have slowed markedly. Somehow I feel older and more vulnerable. I know my time left is limited. I always knew this but the traumatic events suddenly made me realise. My hope is still that I shall make a full recovery but it is taking much longer than I was expecting.

Sunsets

The evenings are getting much lighter now with sunset now 5.53pm. At Christmas the sun was setting here around 3.50pm. In a few weeks' time we go over to British Summer Time and then we really will be in Spring.

I am also waking up earlier, suggesting the mornings are getting much lighter too. Sunrise is currently 6.29am, although it is actually light about 30 minutes earlier.

Labour fear mongering?

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-31790067 .

Ed Balls is claiming that, if the Conservatives get back into office there will be very large cuts in public spending.  I have no idea if this is correct or not.  What is clear is that further drastic cuts are probably needed whatever the flavour of government.  As a nation we have to live within our means.  No ifs, no buts.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Spring?

For the first time this year, we sat outside in the garden and had a cup of tea in the sunshine. It felt quite warm for a change. We visited the "Burwell at Large" exhibition at the village college earlier this afternoon. Inside the village college it was hot. I refilled the garden bird bath and was entertained by a blackbird who spent several minutes in it later, preening and washing himself. He clearly enjoyed himself.

My wife Lis did some weeding. I was rather too exhausted to do very much. By now I was expecting to be fully fit again, but I still get times and days when I am totally shattered, like today.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Stroke after effects

My brain is still exhibiting some bizarre effects. I still have problems with drinking thin liquids, speaking, getting tired and feeling drunk when walking, but it is not seeing obvious errors with words on my blogs that is fascinating. My problem, back in Sept 2013, was a cerebellum brain bleed, that was operated on.

For example, on another of my blogs I wrote "as" instead of "has" but it took a long time to realise this was wrong. It is as if my brain does not process words quite correctly, or at least not quickly. It is not a serious issue and I correct the errors as soon as I do spot them. It happens quite a bit so I think it is real and not just me being paranoid.

I am finding it harder to get absorbed in TV dramas too. It is as if my memory has been affected in some way. My basic intellect is still sharp, but recalling some things can be a problem. Maybe this is just age? I am desperate to get my "old self" back, but know it could be a long road. Knowing now how bad I was I guess I was pretty lucky and I could have ended up as a terrible mess mentally and physically.

Richard, an old friend, told my wife to get me into hospital fast in Sept 2013. Looking back, this probably saved my life.

See http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/cerebellum .

History destroyed

Whatever the conflict, I find it tragic when the history of a country is destroyed.

This happened in WW2 in Germany (e.g.Dresden) and is even now happening in the Middle East. Absolutely no society has the right to erase history for ever. The past is what made us now. We are part of that history. People, whatever their backgrounds, are vandals if they try to wipe out the past.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-31760656 .

Migrant population

According to recent research data the migrant population in the UK has risen by 565000 since 2011. This is a huge increase. We need to find more effective ways of controlling net inward migration, allowing in skills we need but perhaps turning away people we do not need.

True refugees are different and, like the rest of Europe, we should hold out the hand of friendship to those who come to our shores as a result of war and strife in their own lands.

Although I do not intend to vote UKIP in the May General Election, the EC has a lot to answer for. Some people we do need.  Many we do not. Where possible, jobs should be offered to UK citizens, although the work ethic of some from Eastern Europe is very good. The main attraction is the health of our UK economy: even low wages here in the UK are better than no work at all in their own countries. This requires a points system and needs to apply to all entering the UK for work and residency.

BTW, both my sons married citizens from outside the UK!

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31748422 .

FTSE lower?

Although there are only small movements, the FTSE 100 share index seems to be drifting a little lower today. It is early in the day and a lot can change still. As I write this at 1112z it is 0.18 % down on the day.

UPDATE 1142z:  The FTSE 100 is staging a fight-back! It is currently 0.06% lower.

UPDATE 2220z:  At the end of the day it ended down 0.71%.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Johanna Sallstrom

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johanna_S%C3%A4llstr%C3%B6m .

My wife and I much enjoy the Swedish language Wallander series on TV but were saddened to hear that the actress who played Linda took her own life as a result of depression. She was an excellent actress. She died in 2007. Tragic.

Miniature trains again in Kingsbridge, Devon

Recently I sponsored a short length of track for this miniature railway. I really hope they make a success of the venture.

See http://www.branchline.org.uk/bln/e-BLN_1223.pdf .

See also https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kingsbridge-District-Light-Railway-Co/837410829632854

From Branch Line News, p23:

"MR213] Kingsbridge Miniature Railway, Devon: Between 1969 and 1991 a 7¼" gauge miniature railway ran in the town, along Squires Quay (SX735440). Apparently, there are now plans to bring a miniature railway back. The Kingsbridge & Salcombe Gazette posted an article on its web site on 21 November 2014, titled Council backs railway revival. The question where has the train gone? is apparently the second most common one put to staff at the Tourist Information Centre - after where is the ferry? ACTIONWEST director Steve Mammatt made a presentation to the Kingsbridge Town Council at their meeting on 11 November, which was very well received. A photo of the old railway, posted on the Kingsbridge Old Locals Facebook page, had been received with over 300 'likes' and comments of how it was missed. This kicked Steve into action to see if he could get the much-loved attraction back up and running. The new line, due to the state of the pavement, would no longer be able to run along the same side - the car park side closest to the Quayside Leisure Centre. So Steve said he was looking to have it run along the other side, on Embankment Road. In the, admittedly early, plan it would run from the Quay end of the estuary down to the sheltered seating area opposite the recreation ground. A small shed by the shelter on the pavement would keep the trains safe when not in use.  A gauge of 7¼" gauge is suggested, with a 5" rail also added to allow enthusiasts to be invited to run their locomotives during 'Steam Weekend' events. Most of the cost of the locomotive and the carriages has been covered by sponsorship from a couple of local businesses. Tally Ho! Coaches are keen to have a carriage with their name on it and Steve also has had offers from Herring Shoes, Toad Hall Cottages, Ashby's Easy Stores and WM Construction."

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Oxburgh Hall

Today we visited Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk.  This is a  fine moated house that looks more like a fortified castle. It has excellent grounds that had lots of snowdrops out. At the moment the daffodils have still to come out. We had the fine homemade leek and potato soup for lunch.
Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk, UK
See http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/oxburgh-hall/ .

See also http://eachurches.blogspot.co.uk/ .

Monday, 2 March 2015

Red Legged Partidges

http://www.rspb.org.uk/Images/redleggedpartridge_tcm9-18426.jpg?width=530&crop=(282,326,936,694)
The image above resides on the RSPB website and not on this blog. The image and link will be immediately removed if this infringes any copyright law or is otherwise a problem to its owner.

When we first moved to our bungalow (19 months ago) we saw 2 red legged partridges regularly in the road and in the garden.Then we saw 3 for a day. After that (for the last 6 months) there has just been 1. Now, today, we have just seen 2 again. I hope it is a male and a female and they stop around and have young!

The red legged partridge is an introduced species, but it is the commonest partridge with 82000 territories. It is a very good looking bird. The ones locally seem quite content.

See red legged partridge RSPB page .

Female models - smile!

Why do most female models look so unbelievably miserable? Almost without exception, the "look" seems to appear as miserable as possible and never smile.  Surely, if you want dresses to sell then wear a smile at least! I am sure models used to look nice and smile.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Terrrorists

As I see it, the greatest deterrent against extremism would be for suicidal terrorists to be told that it is very doubtful indeed that they will go to paradise when they die. Most Muslims believe that it a sin against God/Allah to kill.  Many are prepared to die because of an incorrect assumption. I wonder how many would be prepared to die if a hell awaited them? Not many I expect.

They should not assume what they do is "in the name of the prophet" as it is not.

The world would be such a nicer place if everyone could live in a state of mutual respect and fairness. We are all different but all deserve the right to freedom, happiness and peace. It is usually an accident of birth what religion (if any) we follow. Some Jews could just have easily been Muslims and vice versa.

Spring?

According to the Met Office, March 1st is the first day of spring. Others say it is in a few weeks. Either way, it feels more like spring. This winter has been pretty mild but wet. There is far more mud this year.

In a few weeks'  time the first sand martins will be landing, then house martins and swallows. I am checking the Devon wildlife sightings page to see when the first arrivals are. Up here near Cambridge it is usually a few weeks later, at least.