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Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Free market?

I have mixed views over "the free market".  In many ways I think too much competition is a bad thing, leading to silly prices e.g. for milk here in the UK. I still feel competition in essential services like transport and energy is daft. Yes, I know, competition is in some ways good, but why should shareholders make profits? Surely, we the taxpayers should be the shareholders? I know this very left wing, but to me it seems "right".

On the other hand, competition can bring overpriced goods down to reasonable levels. There has been a recent example where an overpriced Japanese radio transceiver has already dropped from £1299 to £991 as a result of competition. Dealers were not passing on the recent improvements in the exchange rate.  Each was happy to cream off profits, at the expense of the consumer, until competition encouraged the price to fall. I think a price war is inevitable.


They are busy re-tarring the sides of "our" windmill next door. It looks good. The colour is black which makes the white sails and cap stand out. Currently they have a problem with the cogs that mean the sails cannot be rotated by the wind to grind corn.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Late swallows

Today we went for a walk around Wicken Fen and afterwards we ate at the "Maid's Head" in Wicken village. We went all around the boardwalk route and got back in the car when we saw 4 swallows overhead and quite close. This, I think, is the latest time I've seen swallows up here in East Anglia. I have seen them much later in Devon, but most have gone south by now.

As I get older I keep thinking this might be the last time I ever see a swallow in my lifetime. With luck, I shall see them return again in the spring and for many more springs yet to come, but there is something comforting in this cycle of life that will continue long after I return to dust. Many do a 12000 mile round trip and often return to the very same site to nest. Remarkable. My heart sings when I see the first bird migrants back in the spring. I am sure my ancient ancestors, now long dead, watched in amazement just the same.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Trident Nuclear Subs

Although I suspect Jeremy Corbyn will result in Labour not winning the next UK General Election, I agree with him 110% over Trident. What a total waste of money this is! The total cost of replacing Trident is estimated as £100 billion. Would we be any safer than, say, Denmark or Italy? No, of course not.  Much better to use this money to make defences against 21st century threats such as terrorism, cyber crime and the like. No Trident is a stupid, stupid waste of money! My opinion and proud to hold it.

Friday, 25 September 2015


The world of soccer is in turmoil. Now we hear Sepp Blatter is being investigated. I have no idea if he is guilty or innocent (he claims he is an honest man) but FIFA seems to be another word for "corruption".  Recent decisions on World Cup venues have been controversial.  The sooner FIFA is able to make a fresh start the better.

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Saudi Hajj deaths

With 717 reported dead after the Saudi Hajj stampede, there are lots of unanswered questions. There were about 2 million people there so the authorities will have had a job keeping order. Nonetheless, this is a real tragedy.

FTSE 100 up on the day

The UK stock index, the FTSE 100, ended 2.47% higher today. So far this year has fallen around 10% but, barring a real meltdown in China and a resurfacing of the Greek issue, I suspect it will regain some of the lost ground later in the year. Nothing is certain though. Basically, the UK economy is recovering after the crash and traders are "willing" it higher.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

VW - in deep ****

Well it looks like VW have got themselves in deep deep ****. OK, they may have defences (for their own good I really hope they have) but to the casual observer it looks as if the Company is in a real mess legally. Who in their right mind would deliberately cheat? Surely they knew the consequences if found out? This looks like corporate suicide. They were fools - no ifs, no buts.

7 inch x 5 inch glossy photo paper

I have just bought 30 sheets of 7 x 5 inch glossy photo paper via Amazon for £1.38 including 99p delivery. This is an incredible bargain. For this price it is hard to go wrong. Even if the paper turns out to be rubbish it is far less than a cup of coffee in a cafe.

Saudi Arabian deaths yet again

Many are reported killed in the latest tragedy in Saudi Arabia. This comes on top of the recent disaster when a crane toppled over killing and injuring many Muslim pilgrims.

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Wednesday, 23 September 2015

VW head man resigns

The BBC is reporting that the chief executive at Volkswagon has resigned. He had little choice and could still be in deep legal trouble in the USA. I would have thought that the entire board at VW could face prison in the USA. To be caught cheating is simply unacceptable corporate behaviour.

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House Martins at Anglesey Abbey today

Well, there are still house martins around. We saw at least 6 this afternoon at Anglesey Abbey. These may be the stragglers or young ones. They will soon be gone to warmer climes. We also heard long tail tits and saw a buzzard.

The grounds here are very large and there is always something to see at any time of the year. The picture shows pompoms hung in trees made from old dahlia heads. They dig up the dahlia bed Oct 4th. The dahlias have been splendid for a couple of months.

More on the brewing VW (and others?) scandal

At the last count 11 million VW cars are involved. VW are in trouble big time and it is all their own fault. The executives and many at the top will rightly have to "carry the can" for this mess up. Surely, they had no need to blatantly cheat?

Sorry, but I have absolutely no sympathy for this unethical business behaviour. They deserve to suffer for deliberately deceiving the public and the testers. It would not surprise me if some senior executives get lengthy prison sentences.

As investigations continue, I expect we will hear of others (not VW) involved in similar cheats.  I have no sympathy as there is absolutely no place for unethical "carrying ons" like this in the 21st century. VW should have been above this sort of behaviour. They got caught cheating and have to take the consequences. This means money and prison.

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Tuesday, 22 September 2015

VW - if reports are correct they should have known better

Assuming the reports in the media that VW cheated in emissions tests are correct, all I can say is they must be stupid and they should have known better. If the reports are correct this is a scandal and is unforgivable. VW should be banned in the USA for this unethical behaviour. Heads will roll, but at a corporate level they should not have cheated. Bad, bad, bad on their part. Almost unbelievable from VW.

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FTSE 100 well down

When I last looked (about 11.25am UK time) the FTSE 100 share index was down over 2% on the day at 5972.09. It would not surprise me if it goes lower still. We are in turbulent times. The recent Greek elections and China continue to weigh heavily on the markets.

UPDATE 4.38pm UK time:  The FTSE 100 is down 2.51%. 

UPDATE 4.43pm UK time:  Meanwhile shares in my old company Sepura are up on the day at 174p each. 

UPDATE 4.57pm UK time: The FTSE 100 is even lower, down 2.83% on the day so far. I expect tomorrow it will rise?

Swallows - not quite gone yet

This morning, there were 6 swallows feeding over the allotments about 200m from our house. These may have been passing through and getting a good feed before the very long journey ahead.

Fair thee well and see you in April, if nature is willing.

Monday, 21 September 2015


Today I heard the Chinese are selling a rip-off of the RaspberryPi called the OrangePi.

Before long, all our consumer and professional goods will be "Made in China". China is still a low cost manufacturing area and we are happy for them to have low wages and sweat-shop working conditions which would not be accepted here.

We complain about their pollution yet are happy to pay low costs for underpants, fridges and everything. Nothing, it appears, is made in the West.

As the Chinese get richer they will expect better working conditions and will refuse to be sweat-shop fodder. When this time comes China will become another Japan. No doubt, we will look to other countries with sweat-shops and low costs: we are addicted to low costs.

In the end this cannot be compatible with "living within our means". Our low costs for borrowing will end and we will catch a cold. The only answer, in the longer term, is to bring back manufacturing to the West and pay realistic prices. The writing is writ large on the wall. China is gradually ruining the West and we are all fools to be so taken in. Sadly, it is very hard to fight.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Migrant birds

Around this time most of our summer migrant birds are heading south for warmer weather and more insects. Most swifts will have gone now to return here at the end of April or the start of May next year.

Today I saw a swallow and that may be the last this year. Some young birds may be around for a few weeks and it is just possible some may remain in South Devon and South Cornwall all year. Just a few may survive on the coast where there may be insects near seaweed all year. I once saw some swallows in South Devon on Dec 7th but that is very late. No, most are now gone to return next spring, at least gone from East Anglia. Some travel thousands of miles all the way to South Africa - a truly remarkable journey -  often returning to the very same next site they left. Quite remarkable.

The migration of birds is almost miraculous. I am sorry to see them leave but my heart is always glad when they return.

Of course, to some birds we are seen as warm! The Whooper and Bewick swans join us for our winter as do the fieldfares and redwings.

If really lucky, we might even see a waxwing. I keep looking but have failed so far. Some winters there are thousands, but I have not been lucky, as yet. They are often seen on berries in supermarket car parks. You just have to be in the right place at the right time.

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There is something good in every season.

UPDATE 1750z:  There were 2 swallows overhead in the pleasant afternoon sunshine.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Burwell Museum and Windmill

Burwell Museum now includes the restored windmill. Entirely manned by volunteers it is a truly exceptional museum and there is so much to see and do. Our grandchildren love going there. Luckily we live right opposite the windmill and can see it when we eat our meals!

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Several updates to the East Anglian Churches blog

Today we visited the delightful Norfolk town of Hingham with its greens and fine Georgian houses. We ate lunch at the Lincoln Tea Shoppe and Bistro which is across the main Norwich-Watton road from the church and just off Fairgreen. Onthe way there and back we visited several churches and I have updated the church blog to include this.
Earlier this week we returned to Dalham church so I have updated the entry last February for Dalham too.

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Tuesday, 15 September 2015


Stroke - I am still finding things out. The latest revelation seems to be an inability to realise when spellings are wrong. In the past I could easily tell when things were wrong but sometimes it is days before I spot a spelling mistake or that a word is missing.

I also struggle with words - I just cannot bring to mind the right word. I know this did not happen before. I have been struggling since Saturday for one word. I still cannot recall the right word! FRACTAL! Now I have looked it up I shall probably remember it. It is almost as if dragging things up from some parts of my brain is harder than it was.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Jeremy Corbyn elected Labour leader

You either love him or hate him it seems. Jeremy Corbyn has been elected as the new UK Labour leader by a huge majority that would not have been believed just a few months ago.

I cannot see his left wing views finding favour with the voting public and I cannot see Labour regaining government at the next General Election due in 2020. He has radical views (very left wing). Personally, I think some of his ideas are good ones. We live in interesting times.

After WW2 a very left wing government was elected (ousting Churchill) and introduced the NHS and nationalised the mines and the railways. Who can tell what people will want in 2020? Maybe when Cameron leaves office we will see a big swing to the left?

Churches blog updated

Last week we visited Blythburgh and Ufford Churches. I have updated the East Anglian Churches blog to include these. I may add further photos later.

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Thursday, 10 September 2015

Yet another stroke artifact?

Something else I have noticed is I find it harder to spot spelling mistakes. In the past spelling mistakes were obvious: words just shouted out as wrong, but these days I find I struggle more to even realise the spelling is wrong. Sometimes it is my keyboard but more often it is my inability to spot the error. This is I'm sure an after-effect of my cerebellum brain bleed and not old age.

Also, I tend to forget some things. I may have posted something along these lines before! If so, you may have read this already in the last few months - please accept my apologies. Thankfully, my intellect is still sharp.

Aldeburgh trip

Cottage next to Ufford Church
Today we went to Aldeburgh on the East Coast of East Anglia. We stopped at Snape Maltings for lunch and stopped at Ufford Church on the way there and Blythburgh Church on the way home. Both are famous. At Aldeburgh we saw the famous shell sculpture on the beach. Some hate it, but it is quite dramatic. I like it. It stands about 4m high. At 154 miles, round trip, this was my longest drive since my stroke. At the end I was tired, but it was a lovely day in the September sunshine.  The drive to Devon (where I come from) should be doable with a break on the way there and back.
Sculpture on beach at Aldeburgh, Suffolk, UK
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Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Longest reigning monarch

Later today the UK queen will beat Queen Victoria as the longest reigning monarch in British history. I have mixed views on monarchy: it seems to work here (at least with the current queen who is well respected) and I cannot readily think who would be president if we were a republic. Yet somehow the idea of rank and privilege grates on me: why should someone be queen just because her "line" is royal?  No,  I think our queen has served us well, but I have mixed views on the monarchy as a concept.

UPDATE 1856z:  It is official.  The present queen is the longest reigning British monarch of all time.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Syria needs fixing!

I am no politician, but Syria is being torn apart by civil war. An end to the conflict has to be ironed out or the deaths and displacement of millions will go on. The refugee crisis now unfolding is a symptom of the deep unrest in that troubled nation.

It is high time the major powers (USA and Russia in particular) worked together with all sides to forge a fair and lasting peace. No vested interests please, just the well being of all the people in Syria.

It still puzzles me why not a single Gulf state has taken any Syrian refugees.

Monday, 7 September 2015


This morning we did a walk at nearby Anglesey Abbey (NT).  I think this butterfly was dying as it allowed me to get very close indeed without moving. It was on a bush in the herbaceous border.

Sunday, 6 September 2015


According to the Met Office records we had 10% more rain last month than average for August. We seem to have had a very dull summer here with few settled periods:  we seem to have had a few good days followed by rain and yet more rain. We seem to have had no big blocking high pressure systems that give good weather for several weeks.  Maybe we will see this in the autumn?

Thursday, 3 September 2015

China and the FTSE 100

Despite the bad times in China that are rocking markets around the world, the UK FTSE 100 share index is currently up 2.11%. It seems like it wants to recover lost ground but is being held back.

My own view is that what is happening in China is deadly serious and we are heading for another huge crash that, especially for the average Chinese, will make the Wall Street Crash of 1929 seem tame. This could result in revolution in China and real turmoil over there. We will not come out of this unscathed. The world is just shutting its eyes and pretending it is "business as usual". It is not! 

The age of low cost imports from China is gradually ending and the world has to adjust. No doubt sweat shops in other poorer countries will replace China, but personally I hope it means more real manufacturing in the EU and USA.  At the moment almost everything you buy is "made in China".

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Mr Cameron

Yet again Mr Cameron talks out of his backside WRT refugees. We should be doing our part alongside the rest of the EU to help genuine refugees. Does he REALLY expect the rest of the EU to be on his side when thinking of changes ahead of the referendum? He is doing everything to alienate most EU countries.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

More spooking by China

This afternoon the FTSE 100 share index is down by around 3.5%. The main reason is weak economic data from China. The markets are getting clear signals that China's economy is far from healthy and this is well and truly spooking the markets. It could still fall further in later trading.

More stroke artifacts

Yet another stroke artifact seems to be an inability to spot spelling mistakes as easily as before. Sometimes it takes me ages to think how a word is spelt (or is it spelled?). Often it is hours (or days) later that I notice the mistake! In writing this short piece I made at least one mistake whilst writing it.