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Friday, 30 October 2015


A few days ago I mentioned that I was now posting non amateur radio posts on my amateur radio blog which attracts far more visits than this blog.  So, don't expect this blog to be updated too regularly in future.

See .

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Blog - please change your URL

After much thought, I have decided that one of my other blogs gets far more traffic, so future posts will go there instead of here. This other blog is mainly about amateur radio but posts of general interest will have, "NOT amateur radio" in the title, so general posts are clear. Of course, you are very welcome to look at other posts there too!

So, in future please look at  .

The UK and China

The wooing of China bothers me. This last week we have bent over backwards to "love" China. I guess this is a move to get inward investment, exports and help with our nuclear power plants. At the same time China is carrying out a sabotage job on UK manufacturing (partly of our own making) and soon we will have no industry left at all, with all our manufacturing in China or its neighbours.

No, I have the feeling this is not in our best interests at all.

See .

Clocks - all change

Last night, the UK clocks went back an hour to GMT, so mornings are a little lighter for a few weeks but nights get darker sooner. It is not until the end of January that lengthening days are really noticeable, although days lengthen again around Christmas. I guess we just adapt to a more "indoor" lifestyle for the rest of autumn and winter. This autumn, the tree leaf colours are particularly good with the reds more intense than I recall. There is something good about every season in the UK. The dark nights are nice as are the very light summer evenings.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Grandson gone home

Our younger grandson has gone back to his home near Canterbury.  Dad collected him this afternoon. It was lovely to have him and we think he had a nice time with us. He is a very good little artist and interested in so much - just great.

Strictly Come Dancing

This is the only "reality" show on TV I watch. "Strictly" makes good entertainment on a cold autumn evening, with tea on a tray and a small glass of wine in front of the fire. My wife enjoys it more but I do enjoy it too. In my teenage years I enjoyed ballroom dancing, although that was a long time ago!

Friday, 23 October 2015

Park and Ride

Our young grandson and my wife at the Newmarket Road "Park and Ride"
Today we went into Cambridge to visit the Dinosaur Museum (Sedgewick Site) and John Lewis for a snack with our younger grandson. We used the "Park and Ride" bus for the last part of the journey as we can use our bus passes and it saves worrying about the city traffic and parking. In John Lewis we treated our grandson to some Lego too. At the moment I have a blue disabled badge and am able to park in the disabled spots.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Grandson here for a few days

We are lucky enough to have our younger grandson, aged 6,  staying with us. For some reason I was very tired today, but hope to be OK tomorrow. He is a very talented little boy who loves drawing. His parents pick him up on Saturday.

Today, he did some baking. Tomorrow we hope to see some dinosaur bones!

Solar Panels?

The subsidy given by the UK government drops dramatically at the end of the year. With new panels getting smaller all the time and more efficient I have decided not to bother for now. Existing panels are large and have a finite life.

I have decided to wait, especially as our electricity bill is already very low because we use LED and economy lights widely. I think the government should be doing far more to encourage the take-up of energy saving measures. This is surely a "win-win" approach?

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Tony Benn

Currently, I am reading the diaries of Tony Benn, lent to me by a friend. Tony Benn was very much on the left politically. He was well respected as an honest man even by those who were on the opposite side of the political divide. The more I read, the more I like him and his views. In the UK we have a very right wing media (papers etc.) and Tony Benn was often the person they liked to ridicule and misquote. He always "stuck to his guns" and talked much good sense. He died aged 88 of a stroke in 2014 after a long political career.

See .

Stroke after-effects

About 2 weeks ago I had a tummy bug. In the past, this would have hit me for a few days, but this time I feel it really "knocked me for six". I blame this on my stroke and my age. 2 weeks later I still feel unwell and tire easily. Gradually, I am improving - my appetite is back to normal, but I do hope I feel far less exhausted very soon.

This afternoon I plan to cut the front lawn, but no doubt this will tire me after about 20 minutes.

UPDATE 1307z:  Today the sun is shining, so I'd better get out in the garden soon! Tomorrow rain is forecast.

UPDATE 1451z: I managed to cut both front and back lawns, but now I am totally shattered!

Monday, 19 October 2015

UK weather

The UK weather forecasts are useless!! Today, even at lunchtime they were forecasting thick clouds this afternoon. What did we get? Blue skies and very thin clouds some of the time.

They say the UK weather is complicated, but the Met Office has spent millions on super-computers. I remain very unimpressed. It sometimes seems best to think the exact opposite to what the forecasts predict.

The USA and guns

I read today that the USA have banned Kinder Eggs to protect children. At the same time they permit automatic weapons. Such hypocrisy! All the Americans I have known have been kind, caring and generous-  lovely people.   I find this at odds with USA gun laws. The USA is a violent country but the widespread ownership of guns surely makes people less safe than those places where guns are rare.

Anglesey Abbey

Anglesey Abbey today
This afternoon we went to Anglesey Abbey, a National Trust place about 4 miles from home. There were plenty of signs of autumn, with many of the trees in spectacular colours. This autumn the colours have been particulary good. I am not sure why this is.

Some trees are still green, but many are changing. A few good gales and the trees will soon be bare for winter.

Quiet day

I am still not feeling fully back to normal following my stomach bug. I think this really did hit me. My immune system must be relatively poor. On top of the stroke after-effects I think I really suffered.

Today, my wife has her U3A course in Cambridge so I have had a fairly quiet morning so far. I shall prepare lunch later and there are a few household jobs to do, but I think one has to "listen to one's body". At the moment it is telling me to go easy and don't do too much.  I expect I shall soon be back to my new "old self".

Sunday, 18 October 2015


I get appalled by the level of apathy in some people.

As many of you know, I was brought up as a child in Salcombe, Devon. Nowadays Salcombe is the most expensive seaside place in the whole country. The majority of homes are "second homes" and empty for much of the year. Locals struggle to afford places to live.

And yet....

When planning applications come up it is very unusual for locals to object. I write to the planning people but it seems I am a lone voice. Actually I don't know why I bother. If the locals are not prepared to use their democratic voice and if they don't care why should I? It seems apathy will result in Salcombe becoming a ghost town. Soon they will wake up to no bank, no post office, a very poor bus service and all tradesmen living elsewhere. I can see the writing on the wall, but it seems the locals do not care.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Autumn in the garden

The back garden in autumn
Gradually, the gardens are taking on a more autumnal look. The sunflowers have passed, the apples are ripening next door, we have harvested our crab apples and taken in the sunshade for the winter ahead.  Every season has something good about it and this year the autumn colours are splendid.

Electric Cars

Electric cars have been on sale for years but today I saw my first electric car in use. This was a Nissan Leaf. To me the electric car is not the best solution. The range, even with new batteries, is quite low. Battery technology is still poor and huge batteries are needed to get quite modest ranges.

Although politically a "good idea", I feel we will see better solutions. Maybe this will be hydrogen fuel cells or power buried in the roads and paid for by the actual amount used? The latter would reduce the weight of batteries. Even with large subsidies, electric cars are expensive. We definitely need a clean, efficient alternative to petrol and diesel cars but I am not convinced by today's electric cars.

I watch the next few years with interest and wonder what motorists will be driving in 20-30 years' time.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Old shortwave interval signals


As a child, I enjoyed making simple shortwave receivers and listening to broadcast stations from around the world. These were the days long before the internet and emails. Hearing stations from across the planet was magical. Most broadcasters used interval signals to say who they were. These are some from that time. Nostalgia!

Hearing some of these sends a tingle down my spine.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

FTSE 100 share index

The FTSE 100 share index fell earlier, but seems to be staging a recovery. It may even end the day slightly up. There is still over an hour of trading left and a few shocks could change that! At the moment (1634 BST) it is down about 0.3%.

See .

Monday, 12 October 2015

Out the other side?

Last week, I had a nasty stomach bug. On top of my stroke after-effects, this really knocked me for six. Although the stomach troubles ended last week, I am still feeling "low" (tired, emotional and generally unwell) as a result of it. At long last, I feel that it is drawing to an end and I am returning to my new "old self". In the past this might have been a 48 hour bug, but in my present state I guess it takes much longer.  I've been lucky in that this is the first time since my stroke 2 years ago that I have been "ill". In many ways, I have been lucky. I still feel giddy when walking and drinks are still not right, but (when I don't have a stomach bug) I feel less tired than I did.

I just want my usual speaking voice back please!

Grass cutting

We are now clearly in autumn and the leaves are starting to fall. Today, I cut our front lawn (rear later all being well) but the intervals between cuts is lengthening as the grass is growing less. One, maybe two, more cuts and that should be it until the spring arrives. I usually give it a small tidy-up if needed on a dry winter's day.

The first cut of spring is usually March. The grass grows very slowly in winter. Unless we get a really cold snap, I don't think the growing totally stops. By January I get frustrated as the grass starts to look untidy. It always looks better after being cut. In the meantime, nights draw in and we have the pleasures of cosy nights in. There is something good in every season.

As Melanie Reid said in The Times on Saturday (she is tetraplegic since a riding accident in April 2010) there are those that live and those that live in fear. We are not in control, despite our best efforts, so let us all try to be with those who live and embrace all life.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Lifeboat Disaster Book

100 years ago next October, there was a disaster when 13 of the crew of the Salcombe lifeboat were lost at sea. One of my aunties  (Aunty Kitty) remembered this when she was a child. The RLNI has a book out about the disaster. In those days these brave men rowed out in very rough seas

See .

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Give me a Nadiya

If you live in the UK and have a TV then the chances are you saw Nadiya, the 30 year old mother of 3 from Leeds, win "The Great British Bake Off" last night. She was the delightful girl who wore the world on her face and in her eyes. Her expressions of sadness and joy were just wonderful. She deserved to win, although they were all good.

All day my wife has been saying, "give me a Nadiya" whenever I have been pathetic with my stomach bug. Perhaps this will become an expression?

Wouldn't it be good if our politicians could let their guards down and show us the real people behind their facades? Go on David Cameron, "give us a Nadiya".

UK FTSE 100 up again

After a dodgy start, the FTSE 100 share index is up yet again this lunchtime.A lot could still happen: it could go yet higher or collapse later.

See  .

Wanting to die?

At one time I could never understand this.

I have had the after-effects of a stroke for 2 years now and these last few days I have had a nasty stomach bug. Right now I feel truly "shite".  I really ought to go back to bed.

Although I am sure I'll soon feel quite a lot better, I can understand how some people, when their bodies are old and exhausted, just "throw in the towel" and say they have had enough of life.  Some patients with very high pain levels must feel like this. This is sad, but now I understand.

No doubt tomorrow I shall feel much better. Onwards and upwards. There is still a lot of living to enjoy in me yet!

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

IMF warns of stagnation

See .

OK this is the Guardian and it is a paper of the left, but this is worrying.

The growth in the west is not based on firm foundations. For a long time I have advocated living within our means and not on borrowed money at low interest rates. This will not last.

At some point debts have to be paid.

FTSE 100 up again

It looks like the UK FTSE 100 share index will finish above 6300 today. At the moment it is clawing back earlier losses, but nothing would surprise me. The market wants over 7000 by the year end, but it could fall apart and end the year end below 5000.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Russian air strikes in Syria

Well, I have mixed feelings over these. It would be much better if Russia and the USA would agree who the real enemy is and sort things out. This is the first Russian air action since WW2 outside of the old USSR I believe. Russia clearly wants to be seen in the Middle East. It is also looking to Syria for forward bases in the region.

Devon webcam at Hope Cove

If you like to watch webcams, you may like this one at Hope Cove in S.Devon. It says the webcam is in Salcombe, which is total rubbish. For some reason it has been a bit intermittent of late. There are lots of others you can view in Devon. Usually there is a good view down towards the old lifeboat station at Hope Cove and the waves crashing on the beach. There is also a flag that gives a good idea of how windy it is there.

Hope Cove is where my ancestors lived in the 1500s.

See  .

FTSE 100 well up currently

At the moment, the UK share index known as the FTSE 100 is over 2% higher on the day. A lot can happen in the remaining hours of trading, but it is doing its best to claw back losses of the last month or so. It is following European, US and Far Eastern markets that all showed gains.

UPDATE 1337z:   Currently up 2.25% on the day.

U3A courses

One of the better things about getting older is being able to learn just for fun. My wife started her U3A course in Cambridge today and mine is on Wednesday. We are very lucky in Cambridge as we have a huge range of courses to choose from. Some are academic, some sports etc. There is something for everyone. I think the U3A (University of the Third Age) branch in Cambridge is somehow separate from U3A. In Cambridge it is known as U3AC (University of the Third Age in Cambridge).

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Even later swallows!

Well, this is extraordinary. Today along the River Cam, about 5 miles from Cambridge, I saw 3 more young swallows. It is Oct 4th 2015 today and this is weeks later than I have seen these locally before. There are quite a few in Devon still but this is late for up here. Maybe it is because I am looking for them or these young birds are totally thrown by our mild,warm spell? Anyway, I was very pleased to see them today. There was no doubt that these were swallows, by their appearance, flight and movement in the air.

Burwell Museum

As one of the volunteers was unable to attend today, my wife and I shared the 11-2pm slot on the kiosk at our local museum today. The museum is excellent.

As we live right next door it is easy for us to pop across if we are free. All our grandchildren love it and want to go every time they stay with us.

See .

Israel and Palestine

In my view violent actions rarely result in long-term peace. No doubt the Israeli reaction to recent violence will be yet more violence.

See .

The Benn Diaries

Tony Benn was a UK politician on the left politically. He was often hated for his views. Reading his diaries I am even more impressed. He comes across as an honest man, who was often wrongly pilloried by a press that is right wing. No, my views on Tony Benn have not been changed. His views deserve respect and a fair treatment. Although many may chose to disagree with his views you cannot fault his commitment and honesty. I am about 3/4 the way through the first of 2 books of his diaries.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

South Creake

Yesterday we visited South Creake church in north Norfolk. I have updated the church blog. This is a fine church - light and airy inside.

Football - Plymouth Argyle

A few years ago this would be the stuff of dreams but this evening Plymouth Argyle are TOP of League Division 2. Keep this up and they could even be promoted at the end of the season. Lots of games to go and a lot can happen, but how fortunes are transformed! It is years since I last saw them play live, but at one time they were my local club. I wish them well.

See .

Farewell Denis Healey (98)

You have to be over a certain age to remember Denis Healey in his heyday. He died today at the ripe old age of 98.  At one time he was a key player in the Labour government. These days there are very few like him in any UK political party. He will be missed. He was famous for his big eyebrows too. Who can forget the Spitting Image take-off of him!

See .

Friday, 2 October 2015

Late late swallows

A surprise today was seeing 2 late (for this part of the world) swallows at Little Walsingham in North Norfolk.  I was not expecting these at all.  I am pretty sure this is the latest I have ever seen these in East Anglia (Oct 2nd). They were probably a late brood and no doubt our settled warm weather is leading to some confusion!  I am sure that if you actively look for these you will see a few stragglers but most have now left.   A few sharp frosts will soon trigger them to get a move on and head south on their long migration.

Little Walsingham is a delightful north Norfolk village a few miles south of the north Norfolk coast. Lots of the cottages have flint rendering, which is common in north Norfolk.

There are a few religious shrines in the village and a few shops selling terrible "religious tat". These include gaudy statues, probably made in a sweat shop in China. Someone is making fat profits on this rubbish. I honestly cannot believe intelligent people actually buy these, but they must. Thankfully, Little Walsingham is still a lovely Norfolk village and these few kitsch shops do not spoil it.