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Sunday, 25 September 2016

UK Politics

Jeremy Corbyn has been re-elected as Labour leader in a national vote. He is on the left of the party and is popular with ordinary Labour members, but not with Labour MPs. The Labour party is in great danger of splitting. Corbyn is an honest and decent man, but I cannot see him leading Labour back in to power. Even in opposition, Labour looks a mess. Interesting times.

One possibility is the formation of a new centre party with members drawn from Labour, Conservatives, Greens and LibDems. This is logical but it takes a brave person to jump ship. Previous attempts (such as the SDP) failed to gain traction.

Corfu Sunrise

This was a sunrise in Corfu, Greece last week. As we are now home again, this is probably the last Corfu picture that I shall post on this blog.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Corfu

Fruit and veg for sale in Corfu Old Town
We enjoyed a lovely week on Corfu last week. We went with my brother-in-law and his wife and had a great hotel just outside Corfu Old Town. We ate sometimes in the town and sometimes in the hotel. It was a great spot to relax and read. The hotel had lovely gardens and a great view.

Now back home.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Anglesey Abbey

Every time we visit here there is something to see. It changes through the seasons although some things are beautiful at any time of the year such as the bark on this tree on the winter walk.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Renovation

For over 40 years there has been a grade 2 listed former farmhouse empty in our village. Slowly it was going to ruin.  Over the last 2 years it has been extensively renovated and is now for sale. Today was an "open house" so we went to have a look around. Someone will like it and buy it. It is on the market for just under £1M. It would make a good Bed & Breakfast house or large family home. It is just across the road from the church. This picture shows the view from one of the bedrooms.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Supermarkets and plastic

Have you noticed how much packaging, especially plastic, is used in supermarkets these days? When I was a child we had none, really.

Why is it so hard for supermarkets to make clear which plastics can be recycled? Why are not ALL plastics used in supermarkets recycled? They all have a lot of power over their suppliers and should INSIST on this.

Basically, I hate plastic packages for so much, especially when it cannot be recycled.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Our garden

The garden is still relatively colourful, although less so than in spring and high summer. Our sweet peas are past their best and the sunflowers have peaked. When the first frosts come - usually November - we will replace the  begonia sempiflorens with primroses, which give colour all winter.

We'll blink and it will be spring, but we have autumn and winter beauty to enjoy first. Luckily in the UK all seasons have their pleasures.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Football

My old "local" team, Plymouth Argyle, had a dreadful start to the football season, but have now won the last 3 games and are currently in the play-off places. Mind you, it is very early days.

My current "local" team, Cambridge United, is currently at the very bottom of the league. Unless they buck up they could lose their league place at the end of the season.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Swifts gone

It is now several weeks since I last saw (and heard) swifts overhead. I guess they have started their journey south. For a few months they are an English summer. Then one day you realise they've gone. I miss them and look forward to their return next May.

I had the rare privilege of holding a swift many years ago when one landed accidentally in the road. We kept it in a box overnight and fed it insects. The next day it just flew away. They really are lovely birds.

Farewell and safe journeying over land and sea. See you next year.

"London" grandchildren

All being well our "London" grandchildren are here next week. We love seeing all our grandchildren, but I shall be very exhausted by next Friday.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Frog

When getting some fresh parsley from the garden, I had a surprise when this fellow appeared! I am told it is a frog and not a toad.  As you know, I am not an expert on frogs and toads!

Butterfly

A picture of a brimstone (?) butterfly on the sweet peas. Taken a few weeks ago at Anglesey Abbey, a National Trust house a few miles to the east of Cambridge, UK.

One of our sons called them flutterbys, which is a much better name!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Stroke and not feeling well

Since my stroke, nearly 3 years ago now, I have felt giddy when on my feet. I tire easily but I am not sure if this is a separate issue or as a result of feeling giddy. To be honest, I have not felt well now for almost 3 years.

My health has prevented me doing so much. Yes, compared with many, I know I have come off lightly. But, I know how I was and the frustration is so great.  All my amateur radio field work is on hold and most amateur radio antenna work is impossible without the help of others. I am very grateful for the help that has been so generously given, but I would prefer to be able to do this myself.

Life can be cruel, but my limited energy is better focused on making the best of what I have and not hoping to be fully mended and as I once was.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Paralympics

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/disability-sport/37135083 .

Brazil is struggling, but this is a major setback for disabled athletes. Up until this Olympic Games the outlook for disabled athletes was getting better progressively.

Garden Birds

Young Starling
We have lived at our bungalow for 3 years now. We see fewer small birds than at our old house despite lots of cover and an orchard right next door. Here we see a young starling on the seed feeder. I am sure there are more starlings than a few years ago. Also great tits and long tail tits seem more plentiful. Starlings are greedy birds, but lovable.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Railways in Burwell

Our local museum has an exhibition about railways in and around Burwell. Passenger traffic ended in the early 1960s but freight traffic limped on for a few more years. They also had a video of the branch line to Mildenhall from Cambridge which went through Burwell.

UK Pound

At the moment, the UK pound seems to have stabilised since we voted to leave the EU. The value (about 10% lower) should work in favour of exporters, although less so if their raw materials are imported.

Imports become more expensive.  Does this mean we will buy more UK food like UK bacon? At the moment we import far more than we need.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business/market_data/currency/default.stm .

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Rio Olympics

It seems hard to believe that the London Olympic Games were 4 years ago. At the moment, the UK is 3rd in the medal tables, which is very good.

Preparing for the Olympics takes hours and hours of dedication and very hard work. To all Olympians from any country my thanks and best wishes. There is no place for cheats. For those who perform at their personal very best, my praise. Thank you.

We will blink and it will be time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

BREXIT

It is still too early to tell how this is going to pan out.

The euro, yen and dollar exchange rates have moved in favour of UK exporters and making imports from these nations more expensive.

I have the feeling that the euro will collapse in value in the next 18 months as the remaining EU nations wake up to Greek debt (there is no way they can repay this) and the likelihood of the Greeks defaulting and leaving the EU. This would really hit Germany.  In the end I think the UK will be fine. The UK was a net contributor to the EU and we voted to leave. This puts an even greater burden on the richer EU members.

It would not surprise me if we had a snap General Election here in the UK, especially if the Labour party commits self-imposed suicide and splits in two. Our current Prime Minister, Teresa May,  did not vote for Brexit and neither did any in my family. If a General Election was to be called then the Conservative Party is likely to get a huge majority.

I am currently reading a book on the history of Europe 1789-1989. I had little idea how the borders and alliances changed so much in the 1800s. Clearly Europe is still evolving.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Stroke update

Every now and again I give an update on my recovery from my stroke in 2013. There is very little change! I seem to be on a plateau now with most (all?) foods OK but I still have problems with drinks. Beer and orange are OK in small sips but I find tea (especially Lapsang Souchong) and coffee hard work. I used to love these!

All the time I feel giddy on my feet and I still tire easily after any physical or mental activity of more than about 15 minutes. My emotional threshold seems lower - I worry and cry more. I have a sick feeling most of my waking time. Sleep is fine, although I sometimes muddle dreams with reality: for example I was convinced my younger son had decided to break a journey to the Lake District here next weekend. He is coming but they have no plans to visit the Lake District. I must have dreamed this! I can drive and most cognitive functions are fine. My fine motor skills are not as good as they were.  My voice is poor.

In summary, I am having to adapt to the new "me". If things improve, great, but after all this time I am beginning to, reluctantly, accept my limitations. The main problem is people see me and say how well I look. Indeed I do look well. Inside I still feel unwell. In some ways it would be easier to have a disability that people could see.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Church Blog Updated

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


This now includes Mildenhall in Suffolk. Supposedly, the largest church in Suffolk according to Simon Knott who knows a few things!

Friday, 29 July 2016

Flying Ants (again)

Even though we thought we'd seen the last of the flying ants in the house last week, we unusually had a second "invasion" yesterday. Normally we see these once a year and then they are gone. Perhaps it is the wet and warm weather?

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Yet another sunny day and flying ants

For about a week now we have had better summer weather in this part of the UK. Temperatures have been in the mid 20s to low 30s (deg C) all week. We had one big storm which dropped humidity, but yesterday and today are hot.

It is also "flying ant season". Whilst I was out yesterday we had hundreds of flying ants in our bedroom. I gather these larger,flying ants are queens.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuptial_flight .

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Humidity dropped

A few hours ago we had a violent storm pass through with heavy rain, hail and thunder. Now the storms have moved east towards the coast (now in the North Sea) and we are having a lovely evening with much lower humidity and pleasant evening sunshine. The image shows the storm at its height a few hours ago.
See www.lightningmaps.org .

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Hot day

We have had the hottest day of the year so far with a temperature of 32 deg C, so we spent some of the afternoon in the garden. We had tea outside. There was a gentle breeze.

Here are a few images in our garden. The first is our Crocosomia "Lucifer" and the second a cobweb on our birdbath. The latter was being well used by the wasps today. There was a sparrowhawk chasing the young swifts high above us. The frog (?) was spotted when we watered the garden.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Trident

This evening, the UK Parliament votes on whether or not to renew the Trident submarines which carry our "independent" nuclear deterrent.  I personally think this is a TOTAL waste of money. Most nations don't have this. Are we really any safer? Personally I'd rather spend the money (£100 billion?) on things that help us with 21st century threats such as terrorism.

What amazes me is why so many in the UK parliament think this is "a good idea". Sorry, but we are in NATO and are very very unlikely to fire nuclear weapons. In my view, Trident should be phased out as soon as possible.

Sorry if this is political, but I hate the whole idea of the UK having nuclear weapons at all. Were these ever to be used, it would be the end of civilisation. We should be setting an example for others to follow.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Summer at last?

Here in eastern England we have had a bad summer so far: it has been very wet and temperatures have been lower than normal. Oddly, my brother in Devon has had a good summer. Next week they are forecasting warmer weather here with sun. Temperatures of 25-22 deg C are possible here. The jet stream has been right overhead and we have seen low after low roll in with very few long sunny spells. Maybe things are changing?

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Mr Bean - sacked

The man, allegedly, who stabbed Boris Johnson - a possible UK Prime Minister candidate - in the back (metaphorically) has been sacked from the new UK Cabinet. I for one, although not a Conservative, agree with this. There is no place in the UK government for such people.

I am told Mr Gove is a bright man. His recent behaviour has left me speechless. I only hope that all around the Cabinet table are people who take theĆ­r jobs with great seriousness. They will be married to their jobs and all will have to work long, hard hours.

The Future

We now have a new Prime Minister and Cabinet. We voted to leave the EU. The future is a book still to be written. I very much hope we welcome genuine refugees fleeing conflict in their own lands.

I wish the new PM well, but it is a VERY long time go that I voted Conservative! Leaving the EU and still remaining good friends with our European neighbours will not be easy.

As I have said before, we like the idea of free trade but not free movement of people to our small island. We already are crowded with a high population density. Unlike Germany with a falling population we do not actually need people.

Of course, genuine refugees fleeing conflict are always welcome. We welcomed Hugenots, German Jews and others in the past and I hope we are still a welcoming place for those fleeing trouble in their own lands. Most British have always welcomed refugees. I remember being at school with a boy from Hungary in the late 1950s. I hope he soon felt at home.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Battle of the Somme WW1

It is 100 years ago today that the Battle of the Somme started with a huge loss of life. The whole of WW1 was a slaughter of innocents. It should never have happened.

If we learn anything, it is that wars like this one are futile and it is usually the innocents that are killed or injured. We should do all in our power to ensure such futility never occurs again.

I am not a Quaker but I have great sympathy with their policy on non-violence.

BREXIT

It is now over a week since the UK voted to leave the EU. Although the pound has fallen the stock markets seem to have taken things OK so far. The UK seems to be on a self destruct route at the moment with the Labour party in civil war and the Conservatives thrown into confusion by Boris not standing for PM. It will be some time before the fog clears and we chart a new path.

Personally I do not trust Gove and think Theresa May would make the best PM, although I am not a Conservative voter.

If a snap General Election is called my inclination is to vote Liberal Democrat again.

UK Weather - summer?

We are now in July and certainly here in East Anglia we have had one of the worst summers I can remember so far.  We have had just a few continuous days of sun and settled weather. Most of the time it has been a mixture of rain, cloud and some sun.

In the west of the UK it has been better, but we have had a real absence of high pressure over us with long settled, warm, sunny, weather.

Roll on summer!

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Our elder son

Our elder son came up from London to see us this afternoon. He is a professional jazz pianist, so works odd hours. When he comes up, he helps us in the garden. It is always good to see our boys.

Hedgehog and Muntjac Deer

This morning, we found a hedgehog in the back garden. For those unfamiliar with these, they are about 15cms long, prickly, and cover about a mile on their, mainly nocturnal, walks. We used to see them often at our old house but this is the first seen here.  See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedgehog.

Muntjac deer seem to have taken a fancy to our sunflowers as the tops have been eaten! See http://www.bds.org.uk/index.php/advice-education/species/muntjac-deer

Friday, 24 June 2016

BREXIT - the new reality

So the referendum has taken place and the UK people have chosen to leave the EU. All of my close family voted to remain IN. The future of the UK is unknown. Indeed, the future of the EU may now be very different. All I hope is that we remain friends with our neighbours in Europe. We have always wanted the EU trade, but we have never sought closer political ties. The future is ours to forge and we must chose a good future that unites its people not divides them.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

The EU referendum - vote!

If we vote to leave the EU I shall not be too surprised. It is vital that everyone votes as this will impact the UK for years to come.

The REMAIN campaign has been very negative and focused on the harm to the UK if we vote to leave and not the benefits of being "in the club".  A vote to leave will probably mean that Scotland will want another referendum and lead to the break-up of the UK. If we leave the EU then I think others will follow and the Euro will collapse. This is serious for the world.

It is entirely possible we could vote to remain in the EU. One thing is certain: the outcome is too close to call.

It is possible David Cameron will continue as UK Prime Minister for years to come. On the other hand we could see Boris as PM as early as November. What is certain is that politics is changing. If we leave I suspect a lurch to the right politically will occur. This is happening in many EU nations and this is dangerous.

Although my wife and I voted IN (remain), the outcome could go either way. The EU cannot continue as a weak protectionist club. It has to change or it will fall apart. The danger of this happening has never been greater.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Tim Peake returns from the ISS

Thankfully, Tim Peake who had spent 6 months on board the ISS, has returned safely to Earth. He has done much for the UK in space. We must not forget that space is still a hazardous environment. Getting back from space is still very hazardous.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Anne's House

We have a friend who has been to visit me most months. She lives in a VERY old house. Today we walked to her house for tea and scones.

This roof, to the rear of her house, is a real problem in heavy rain as gallons and gallons of water flows off it, causing her cellar to flood. She has taken measures to minimise the problems but she is always nervous with heavy rain around

Sunday, 12 June 2016

UK Weather Forecasts

OK, I moan about weather forecasts a lot and here I go again. 

Yesterday the forecast for OUR VILLAGE on the day said rain showers all afternoon. It was dry until we went to bed. Luckily it was dry for our Fete.

Today OUR VILLAGE was supposed to be dry all day. Guess what? It is raining! 

If you cannot rely on the forecast for NOW, what IS the point? Before readers tell me how complex our UK weather is may I say, yet again, our forecasts are rubbish.

The only reliable weather forecast in the UK is to look out of the darn window.

Millions have been spent on super-computers to enable better forecasting - oh yes?

The UK Queen at 90

Although not a royalist, I think the UK queen has done very well over her long reign. The very survival of the institute of monarchy is in no small part due to her. The money that royalty brings in must more than make up for the expense of the royal household.

Ours is a constitutional monarchy: although the queen has weekly discussions with the Prime Minister of the day, she in no way influences the day-to-day running of the nation. She does open Parliamentary sessions in her "official" capacity as head of state (The State Opening of Parliament)

I cannot imagine us as a republic with a president. We are lacking people that we could all look up to and respect. Somehow I cannot imagine the monarchy after Elizabeth dies. It is bound to happen sooner rather than later. Will we still have a monarchy 50 years from now?

England Football Supporters

Yet again, I am ashamed of the England supporters abroad. Now, I am sure it is a small minority who cause all the unrest and violence, but these tarnish the game. Also, sometimes others start the violence knowing that England fans will be blamed.

Personally, I think a lot of this is due to drinking to excesses. Maybe there should be a blanket ban on alcohol within a certain radius of games? This seems unfair on "normal" fans who just go to follow the teams.

I am not a great football fan. Some games are watched on TV but I would never follow my teams abroad. It must be 30 years (at least) since I last went to a football match!

Saturday, 11 June 2016

SPAM?

A few days ago I got an email purporting to be from Microsoft saying that they think my email address was compromised.

Now, this may be a SPAM, but if you have received any suspicious emails supposedly from me, please accept my apologies. As always DO NOT open links you do not trust or know to be safe. If you have received anything odd, purporting to have been sent by me, please let me know.
Hopefully the issue has been dealt with and you should not get further trouble. If this is a SPAM please let me know too as my mail account did not see this as SPAM.

Church Fete

This is usually held the next weekend in June each year, but it was changed to coincide with the Queen's 90th birthday celebrations. Although thundery showers were threatened all afternoon, they kept off. My wife ran the cake stall, as she does most years. It is usually a good chance to meet village people not seen for a while.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

EU Referendum

As we are away on the day when voting takes place, we have voted by postal vote. We posted our votes off today. The outcome will be close.

Horses in Newmarket

We do most of our food shopping in nearby Newmarket, which is the world home of horse racing. Here everything stops for the horses! We don't mind.  After 40 years in the area I have never been to a horse race!

This was a string returning from Newmarket Heath earlier today. It is unusual not to see race horses in Newmarket.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Profound exhaustion

Since my stroke almost 3 years ago I have suffered from bouts of profound exhaustion after doing physical or mental work for more than about 20 minutes. No-one and I really do mean no-one seems to get it including medics, my wife, friends etc. They all say how well I look and assume I am fine. Well, I am definitely not right!

To be honest this gets me down. As hard as I try, this never seems to go away. I hate it.  In an ideal world I would rest more, but I know this is impossible.

I have great sympathy for others who have hidden disabilities: people may look fine on the outside but feel dreadful inside. This is how I am a lot of the time. Not always mind you. There are better days and times.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Summer?

According to the Met Office we are on the second day of summer. We have had better days in mid-winter! The photo shows the external temperature after lunch. It was taken in our car and it did not vary for the whole journey. In the meantime, the west of the UK is bathed in sunshine.

Begonias

Begonias in Front Garden
Yesterday (first day of summer - cold 12 deg C and drizzle!) I planted 46 begonias in our front garden. We have more for the back garden. Once planted, these need very little attention and they provide colour until the frosts in late autumn. I just dig a small hole for each, throw in some compost and plant each flower. Usually they are very easy plants for the summer and autumn. At the end of this I was very exhausted - still an after-effect of my stroke. In the past this would have been easy.

We usually put in winter flowering primroses for the winter.

The back garden begonias will probably go in later today. It is still cold and windy here!

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

The EU Referendum

With only a few weeks to go, the outcome is hard to judge. Yes, the EU needs to reform, we are probably better off as a nation IN the EU than out of it, the campaign has been poor, leaving the EU would be hard but not a disaster.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Plymouth Argyle in Playoff Final

Plymouth Argyle are playing AFC Wimbledon at Wembley tomorrow (3pm kickoff) in the League Two playoff final. I hope they win. If they win, they will gain promotion to League One.

UPDATE 2144z: They lost 2:0.