Monday, 24 July 2017

Turnip Friendly Pubs

Overheard while The Chairman is checking his Freecycle emails:

Chairman: "One sack of diabetic cat food?"

Hay: "I don't think so. I presume the cat is no longer with us..."

All this business about President Turnip pardoning himself - doesn't pardoning oneself presume guilt in the first place?

Hay and I went for a walk from Nailsworth to Amberley and back yesterday. We both arrived at a word, but via totally different routes. I was thinking Manderley - similar to Amberley. I said to Hay; "What's the opening line of the book," nothing else, and she immediately replied; "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again." When I quizzed her as to how she knew which book I was talking about, she replied that there is only one book where she knows the opening line. She had no idea I was conflating Amberley with Manderley.

We called in at a pub on Minchinhampton Common. It was one of those dog friendly places. I wonder whether there are pubs that are cat friendly?

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Paper Veg

Overheard on returning from shipping at the greencrocer's:

Hay: "These tomatoes are nice - they're Dutch."

Chairman: "Didn't know tomatoes had a concept on nationality."

Hay: "Free movement for veg!"

Chairman: "I wonder if vegetables are racist when it comes to fruit?

Twice in succession now I've attempted to purchase kitchen paper and loo paper. I made the selection at the end of the stroll around Lidl, taken it out of the shopping trolley and placed it in a shipping basket, wanting it to go last on the conveyor due to its bulk, placed the rest of the shopping on the conveyor, and then promptly forgotten to put the kitchen and loo paper on the conveyor.

Once if forgivable, twice is a sign of something...

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Grumbling Adverts

Overheard on Radio 4:

Narrator: "Bull seals use a deep, throaty grumble to recognise each other."

Hay: "A bit like you."

Saw an advert son some news site yesterday with two pictures of a woman (possibly not the same woman); one showing her as gargantuan and the other reasonably slim. The words accompanying the ad were; "Bristol woman loses two dress sizes in 4 weeks using this simple trick." The trick could only have been the use of a photo of a completely different woman, or a lot of  very expert Photoshopping.

Had occasion to go into Bristol yesterday morning for a course about self-employment. Saw two ambulances, with sirens blaring, trying to get through very heavy traffic, with great difficulty. I know hospitals are usually placed in the centre of cities, as that's where  the greatest concentration of people is to be found, but I sometimes question the wisdom,given the traffic that has to be negotiated and the perennial lack of parking space for outpatients due to the high cost of land. Perhaps Accident and Emergency should be in the centre, but outpatients on the outskirts. It's a tough one.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Brexit Negotiation Tactic

Here's a tactic to get the Brexit talks moving, and fast too, without the UK negotiators having to do anything and getting everything they want - threaten to stay in the EU!

I see we're busy shovelling EU law (which means laws concerned with treaties signed between EU member states) into UK law as part of the process of 'reclaiming our laws'. Once we crash out of the EU, I wonder how long it'll be before we'll be replacing all the ditched EU law with WTO law, which governs arbitration between WTO members?

If you want to trade globally, according to certain protocols and treaties (and WTO membership entails a treaty, which is an agreement between countries on certain issues), there's no getting away from ceding some of your legislation to third parties. All free trade, of any description, is subject to treaties and treaties, by definition, are law and require an arbitration body - a bit like the ECJ.

So much for the myth of 'reclaiming our laws'.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Pensionable BBC

The age at which we die has stalled and the government makes the pensionable age 68. Can we therefore expect no further additions to the pensionable age in the future? No - more people in work are needed to support a single pensioner than at any time in the past. As the number of young people continues to decline with the decline in the birth rate (we're not even reproducing ourselves) it will only get worse.

Chris Evans and his pay? Ship him off to the commercial channels - please! Graham Norton is entertaining, but not Chris Evans.

The bloke's the physical manifestation of Marmite.

I see this publication of BBC starts' salaries as part of the Tory war against the BBC. On the one hand they believe in the free market and competition, while on the other they are doing their best to bring the BBC down - it's tantamount to a private firm opening its books to a competitor. If the pay of the BBC stars' reflects market conditions, then what's the issue? They have no issues with top CEOs in industry having astronomic salaries in the name of a free market.

There is only one possible outcome from this, BBC staff being poached and the BBC being relegated to merely a nurturer of talent. BBC contracts are going to have to last till pensionable age at this rate. As for pay equality - what's the status on the other channels? No-one knows, nor is likely to know. Talk about hamstringing the BBC.

There are only solutions to this; 1) force all companies wanting a transmission licence to publish stars' salaries (including those employed by production companies), or 2) privatise the BBC, which will lead to a drop in standards and dreaded adverts. The odds cannot be stacked against the BBC in this manner by a government on the run from criticism.

Ref my conundrum of a few days ago about the apostrophe - there is indeed an example of it replacing two letters - 'you'll' for 'you will'. Therefore 'they're' is perfectly legit for 'they were', if a little confusing with 'they are'.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Public Dr Who

Some interesting results on on Monday's YouGov polls.

The interesting thing in both these polls is the number of Conservative undecideds.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Time Aristocrat

Now for the most vexing question of the week - Dr Who is a Time Lord, not a Time Lady, nor a non-gender-specific Time Aristocrat. The regeneration thing is a plot device that merely allows actors to retire from the role, but of late it has become abused and they change every year or two - simply no staying power. Now they're even changing gender.

Apropos of yesterday's post about Hayley's concept of time and schedules, I believe The Doctor could well be a female, as The Doctor frequently overshoots his intended time destination and his/her completely cavalier attitude to time proves this...

There again, the mere thought of a female being in charge of a sonic screwdriver fills me with dread. There's no limit to the havoc she could wreak on the interstices of the space-time continuum.

Whatever next - Draculess, Winifed the Pooh?

It's all very well saying that The Doctor should be made more contemporary, but even the word contemporary is meaningless to a Time Lord; a Time Lord transcends time. What if the Time Lord's natural time affiliation, even after 2,000 years, is now Victorian? More importantly, what would The Doctor's granddaughter, Susan, say if The Doctor came back as her grandmother? Indeed - is Susan really a female?

There is a precedent, however, as the renegade Time Lord, The Master, regenerated into Missy. Whichever way you look at it, there is only one Doctor - Martin Ellingham. Why was he not asked to be the new Dr Who? He'd be perfect. Perhaps the next series will expose him as a Time Lord.

Doubtless it will all be sorted out, in time...

Monday, 17 July 2017

Chaff Time

With me, a time to leave for an appointment is a deadline - something that's inviolable, a law. For Hay it's seen as a suggestion or general guidance that can be ignored and the actual time of leaving can be 15 minutes later with no consequences. Causes no end of arguments when I'm sitting there tutting and swinging the car keys on my finger and she's obviously at least another 5 minutes away from being ready. Needless to say, I get the blame for her delay and it's obviously occasioned by something I've omitted to do.

Nearly  choked to death yesterday. The weekend before this one just gone, we went for a long walk which involved skirting a wheat field. I put a few ears of wheat in my shorts pocket in order to scatter them at the top of our field (probably totally pointless, as the chances are they're sterile hybrids). Anyway, yesterday we went to see my daughter in her new home and while there I had cause to use my Ventolin inhaler. I put it to my mouth, squeezed and inhaled - a mouthful of wheat chaff blasted down my throat, much to the amusement of all. It was not pleasant.

We say 'they're' as shorthand for 'they are', but not for 'they were' - possibly due to the accepted use of the apostrophe being to replace just one letter, not two. Perfectly acceptable, to me, though. They''re, perhaps?

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Doc Martin

Yesterday, on a whim, we went to Port Isaac, the setting for the fictional Portwenn of Doc Matin fame.

Overheard while driving along the A30 after Hay has taken a phone call from a neighbour:

Hay: "Veronica says there's been a power failure and it'll last for an hour and a half. I wonder what people with babies do."

Chairman: "Probably plug them into portable generators."

Hay: "I guess you could always put batteries in them,"

Port Isaac is a pleasant little Cornish fishing village, but the glare of the media spotlight is turning it into another St Ives. It won't be long before it's filled with Weird Face and Fat Fish clothing shops. It would be nice if the place could stay brand-free, but the lure of filthy lucre will doubtless mean it will end up on the road to brand perdition. That said, there's not much scope for additional shops, unless houses are converted.

The town, like so many in the area, has spread inland and there are concentric circles of dwellings from many different decades. Certainly worth a visit, if indeed a full holiday. The locals must make a packet from renting their places out to the film crew.

This is the School House Hotel , which doubles as the exterior of Portwenn school. Amusingly decorated.

Mrs Tishell's Pharmacy - a fudge shop where the window display of a pharmacy has been retained as a tourist attraction.

Doctor Martin Ellingham's surgery - a holiday home.

Bert Large's cafe /restaurant.

A couple of views of the harbour.

Islamification has already taken hold, even in Portwenn!

A wrong turn during Hay's navigation over some public footpaths led us to the cove next door - Port Gaverne - a lesser metropolis that hasn't had as much development, but is about to be transformed, as evidenced by the work going on.

This boarded up hotel on the cliffs above Port Gaverne has been used in some scenes in Doc Martin, as an out-of-town hotel / meeting place, the Headland Hotel. I believe it's being refurbished, although it looks suspiciously derelict to me.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

The Chairman is Away

Last minute decision to head down to Port Isaac for the day at sparrow's fart, so no blog.

Back - - -  whenever.

Friday, 14 July 2017

First Flight at the Jobcentre

I was reading a story about a 116 year old man who flew for the first time in his life to visit his family in New York.

I remember my first flight - I must have been about 8 or 9 years old and flew on my own from Manchester to Hamburg to meet my father and join him for the coastal voyage around Europe on his ship for a couple of weeks before returning home with him. 

My mother said goodbye to me at passport control, where an air hostess took charge of me. I don't believe they have the staff to do that these days.  I believe it was a BEA DC3, although I could be mistaken on that.

How old were you when you first flew?

Being redundant and now setting myself up for working for myself, I signed on at the local Jobcentre yesterday until such time as I'm generating some income, which hopefully won't be more than 3 months away.

Being the age I am (62), they wanted to know all about my pensions - what I'm getting now and what will mature in the next 3 years. Having had a large number of jobs over the years, I have some 8 or 9 different pensions, which required half an hour of photocopying on the part of the Jobcentre clerk. I was pleasantly surprised to discover one of my pensions becomes payable next year, but even combined they're hardly worth anything - wish I'd put the money into bricks and mortar.

In order to qualify for the Self Enterprise Allowance I have to attend a 3 hour workshop next Friday in Bristol, which I'm not looking forward to, as I know exactly what I'm doing and have been doing it for half my life, but for myself now. A bit of advice on the tax implications of being a sole trader (what expenditure can be offset against tax) would be welcome though, as I'm a complete neophyte where that's concerned. £62 a week isn't to be sniffed at though while I'm getting the business up and running.

My trip to Holland last Tuesday will hopefully eventually convert into my first customer, as all the signs were good and the feedback excellent. Not a massive contract by any means, but a start. The main problem I face is the long decision period, in my line of business, between offer, acceptance and revenue, although the returns can be phenomenal if you put the hours into finding customers.

I'm working for an old friend, but on commission only in a new market area that I know well, so it's a risk, but one worth taking, especially at age 62. The main concern is paying off the final instalments on the mortgage, which has another year to run. Once that's cleared, we're immediately £1,600 a month better off.

When I look around me, it's surprising how many of my friends and neighbours are sole traders. Time to have a chat with them.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Pimp My Fridge

Trump and his railing against a witch hunt - can't help feeling he's confusing his witches and his moles. It's strange when patriotism includes collusion with the enemy. Strange times...

Remember that VW themed fridge I posted a picture of a week or so ago? Well, I've pimped my fridge and for under a fiver I've transformed it from a £40 eBay fridge into a rather expensive and rather unique Mercedes fridge.

Didn't even have to spray it, as most Mercs are silver anyway. Possibly the addition of an AMG decal would be in order.

I have a leaping Jaguar mascot on my desk. Wonder what I can pimp with that? Given its shape, it would double quite well as a handle for something. A Cona vacuum coffee maker, perhaps...

Take it off the plinth (which I put it on anyway), some judicious bending of the base, couple of retaining holes in the Bakelite handle and voila - an automobilia themed, Jaguar vacuum coffee maker. Perhaps not...

Hay's sister suggested door handles for up-cycled wardrobes. Now that's a good idea.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

William the Tiger Moth

Saw the strangest thing at the Calais to Dover ferry yesterday coming back from my business meeting in Dordrecht; a car with a complete Tiger Moth engine in the back. Unfortunately, the car owner had just shut the boot lid by the time I got my mobile phone out to take a snap.

You can just see the engine in the rear window and the Tiger Moth decal next to the number plate (if you click to expand the photo).

I haven't been on a ferry for ages, so it was a novel experience.

It's amazing to think William the Conqueror did almost the same trip in 1066 and invaded England with just 7,000 troops. the equivalent of two high season ferries, and became king of England.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

The Chairman is Shopping

Book shop, clothes shop, furniture shop, ironmonger's shop, corner shop - but department store. Yet to Americans all shops are stores. Perhaps we call it a department store because the concept originated in the USA. Do they go storing instead of shopping?

Not much bloggy stuff today - urgent meeting in the Netherlands to try and drum up some business. Quick flight from Gatwick and then the ferry back. from Dunkirk. A chance to stock up on Dutch gin...

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Honesty is the Best Policy

Spotted this on one of our weekend walks around the neighbourhood.

I's a shelf for home grown produce, with a pipe into which you put the money for the goods. The money goes down the pipe into a box that's in the ground behind a locked gate. OK, it's not 100% secure, but better than nothing. A thief is more likely to nick the money than the produce.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

The Toilet Roll May or May Not be Finsihed

I see that world leaders have failed to bridge the intelligence gap between themselves and Donald Trump over the vexing subject of climate change.

Heard someone on the radio use the expression that something; "...may or may not," something or other. When you think about it, it's rather a pointless turn of phrase. It's usually used when someone wants to emphasis one or other of the options, yet it really indicates uncertainty, so why not just say something is uncertain?

I'm fed up having to replace the toilet paper in the downstairs bathroom. It's predominantly used by No.1 and No.2 Sons, and they never replace the toilet roll when it's finished. There has been one occasion when I've been phoned while in the garden to bring a roll of toilet paper to the bathroom and leave it outside of the door. No more - they will henceforth suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous embarrassment.

I'm constantly shocked by the number of politicians - particularly pro-Brexit ones - who believe an FTA with the EU is exactly the same as membership of the Single Market. The Single Market means no tariffs of any kind, whereas an FTA has exceptions, depending on what the parties want to protect domestically. The exceptions could be whole swathes of products, like any agricultural products. Norway, for example, faces huge tariffs on fish exports to the EU. Simply put, it's just more Brexit lies by those who should know better, hoping that the radicalised illiterati will lap it us, as they undoubtedly will.

Tariffs, in general, are a bad thing, as they result in inflated domestic prices for whatever it is you want to protect. Take steel as an example - some say we should protect our steel industry, but the consequent higher price of steel would have a knock on effect on anything made from the higher priced steel - like cars - making those products uncompetitive on the global market. To grow and survive under our present form of economy (not that it's the best) is to participate in a global market competitively with no tariffs. Hammond seems to be the few cabinet members who has his head screwed on.

Another phrase that's coming into the popular lexicon - especially in relation to Jeremy Corbyn's manifesto, despite it being fully funded - is that of national bankruptcy. A country doesn't go bankrupt, Just read this to understand why. A lender can't simply seize national assets and invariably the lender takes what's known as a 'haircut'. The Greek currency wasn't devalued as a result of its default, as it was the same currency that the lender used. Neat trick...

Trump is apparently prepared to do; "A very, very big deal, a powerful deal," with the UK. The use of those superlatives is guaranteed to mean that either it won't happen, or it will be loaded in the USA's favour, like TTIP, and the US buying up lots of the NHS.

Talking of radicalised Brexiteers, s final word on Rees Mogg's 6th sprog; they should have called him Ludicrus Sixtus. Any more kids and Rees-Mogg will have to change his name to Biggus Dickus.

Rees-Mogg is named by political sketch writers as the Honorable Member for the Early 20th Century.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Japanese Phone Box


Hay: "What shall we do tomorrow?"

Chairman: "A bike ride?"

Hay: "A bike ride?"

Chairman: "No, I didn't say that..."

We found some, what I'm sure is, Japanese knotweed on the main road yesterday. Going to have to report this to - actually, I'm not sure who to report it to. Council? Environment Agency? Any suggestions?

Here's a photo of the village phone box, which a number of  villagers volunteered to bring back to life earlier in the year - Hay and I did our bit and spent a couple of mornings scraping and grinding this thing, and it looks beautiful now.

John, who lives in the village, donated some money to buy the defibrilator and it's also used as a book exchange.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Time to Leave Home


Chairman: "It's strange to think we're married - we lived together for 10 years before we took the plunge and I have to remind myself occasionally that we are indeed married. I even have to remember our wedding anniversary. 7th September."

Hay: "9th!"

We got back from our holiday a week ago to find the fox we've been feeding was still coming every evening, but for the last four evenings she's not appeared and we're at our wits' end to figure out why. 

Last night we had a wander up the road just to check she hadn't been hit by a car and was lying dead at the roadside or in a ditch, but saw nothing.

We can only assume she's a young vixen, born this year, and may have been forced by her mother to leave the den and establish her own territory a good distance away.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Women, eh?

These daily YouGov polls are quite revealing. Yesterday it was the turn of women and it seems Ukip aren't that enamoured with their capabilities. Given our situation with Mrs May, I'm surprised more don't think the planet would be worse off...

Why is it Ukip, when it should be UKIP - especially the UK bit?

This really made me laugh yesterday:

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

The Grim Reaper Fridge

Interesting poll result yesterday:

The closer it gets, the less you want to know when.

Spotted this in Facebook yesterday - want one! Or, rather, will make one (if Hayley will let me), but a Merc, which means I don't have to repaint the entire fridge.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

In Clover with Ties

I banked my last quarter's feed in tariff cheque yesterday for the solar PV and it struck me that I've been getting a much higher cheque of late than was expected. I checked the figures that accompanied the cheque and was pleasantly surprised to find I've been getting quite a bit more than the 43 pence per kWh that was initially contracted - it was 49.43 pence till March and has been 50.67 pence since then. It added over a hundred quid to my last cheque. Seems it must be going up with inflation, which a check on the figures confirmed - 2.5% p.a.

Ties in Parliament was the subject of Sunday's YouGov poll, and it revealed a marked contrast between left and right wing.

The difference between ages is also quite stark, yet to be expected.

Not much difference at all between genders or regions though.

Monday, 3 July 2017


While in County Mayo I took a snap of a tower on Achill Island. 

It apparently was one of Ghrianne's defence towers, Ghrianne was also known as Granuaille (Anglicised), or Grace O'Malley - the Pirate Queen of Mayo. 

On our final day in Mayo I spotted a biography of her in a Westport bookshop. She was the daughter of a local, 16th C. chieftain and rose to become a chieftain in her own right, based in Murrisk, and a woman making her own way in a very male dominated society.

She led an extremely interesting life that's well worth reading about.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Glasto Fox

Trump says his use of social media makes him 'modern day presidential'. Pity his policies are pre-Enlightenment presidential.

Foxy is getting more used to my presence and doesn't run away if I'm outside.

Apparently, while we were away last week, No.1 Son took Foxy some food in one of those black, plastic food trays and she took the entire tray off with her to her den. She'll be asking for a knife and fork next.

You'll have to forgive the background music in the video. We were watching some of the Glastonbury sets on iPlayer and Hay insisted on watching someone called Katy Perry. Not my thing.

I was going to say to Hay that it would be nice to go to Glasto one year, but then I looked through the bands playing and realised I only knew of a small handful - Foo Fighters, Radiohead (Thom Yorke is looking more like Willie Nelson by the year), Biffy Cliro, Barry Gibb, Chic, Liam Gallagher (who was obviously expecting bad weather, what with the kagool he was wearing) and one or two others. As far as new music is concerned, I'm more into esoteric jazz fusion and ambient stuff that few have ever heard of; Greyboy, Gramatik, Big Muff, Gary B, Howie B, Jjos - that kind of thing.

Why is it that it's always women on men's shoulders in the audience and not the other way round?

There was a band called British Sea Power and Hay said she'd never heard them. Told her they just go BOOM very loudly. She grimaced.

Watched that new band - Corbyn. It was more a stream of conscious prose session than a proper set. Performance art. Liked the words, but the tune was execrable, especially as it transpired it was pro Brexit. As I said yesterday, he's principled and supports the will of the people, even if the people are clearly deluded. I have no such principles and believe public ignorance should be challenged at every opportunity (as should my own ignorance).

There's a rumour that Michael Eavis would consider having another Glasto in 2018, rather than having a fallow year, if he could get one particular band to reform. That has to be Led Zep - now that would be worth paying to hear, even if Robert Plant's vocals may not be up to the job anymore. That didn't stop Barry Gibb, and he got a rousing cheer. It's more about the nostalgia.

A parting thought: the right accuse the left of wanting everything for free; isn't that the same as paying much lower tax but still having education, roads, an NHS, social care, etc? At least the left would support higher taxes to pay for all this, so it's not exactly free...

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Hubris of Galaxy S8 Plus Camera Focus Issue

Trawling through various publications for their slanted views of the latest news, I alighted on an article in the Daily Express (not exactly noted for it's support of the EU) which accused the EU of hubris in wanting the ECJ to have oversight of the UK long after departure. I can't see this being any more hubristic than the UK wanting all the benefits of EU membership, but without the cost. The words pot, kettle and black come to mind.

I see Jeremy Corbyn has sacked a number of front benchers for rebelling and he's being accused of hypocrisy by the right wing press by dint of him having voted against his party some 500 times. The truth is that before he was the leader of the Labour Party he was never a front bencher, and therefore never in a position to be sacked from the front bench for dissent.

The right wing do get their knickers in a twist at times and come out with the most ill-considered and inconsistent drivel. Another word comes to mind - desperation.

Corbyn has at least nailed his colours to the mast and come out as a Brexiteer, and he certainly can't be accused of wanting to thwart democracy (although I see it as a process and not a binary event). He's many things, but he is consistent and principled, and it's difficult to successfully accuse him of hypocrisy. Still too far left for me though.

More phone problems. Over the last 2 weeks the camera on my new Galaxy S8 Plus has been acting up and refusing to focus. Putting a finger near the lens at the focal point and slowly drawing the finger away occasionally cures the problem - for a while - as does pressing in on the lens a couple of times.

Looking this behaviour up on t'internet, it would appear I'm not the only owner having this problem. I feel yet another trip to the Vodafone shop coming on.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Eire Sandals in The Annexe

Back to Blighty this afternoon. This week in Ireland has been one of the best holidays I've had in a long time and I can't wait to do it again - but for two weeks, rather than just one. The scenery is simply stunning and if you're into outdoors stuff, then this is the place for you - well. the west of Ireland certainly is.

What has surprised me is the lack of branded shops in some of the smaller towns, like Westport and Cliffden. Just about the only ones that are branded are supermarkets, with the rest being independent retailers. That makes town centres a lot more vibrant - Westport is like Totnes (the place that banned brands), but bigger and better. Whereas Totnes hasn't encouraged much beyond independent coffee shops, Westport is a veritable entrepot of entrepreneurial activity. It's no longer the English who are a nation of shopkeepers, but the Irish.

Castpebar is another story - branded shops abound and it looks hideous.

The roads here are now much better than when I last visited for a holiday some 20 years ago. Then they were littered with potholes.

Looking for somewhere to stay? Look up The Annexe in Murrisk on AirBnB.  Perfect location and an excellent host in Helen (we were work colleagues over 10 years ago). I can heartily recommend it, whether for one night or a week (or longer).

Click on the above image to expand it and look at the sign on the wall...

Last night we went out for our final evening meal here and I wore socks with sandals. Yes, I know it's a fashion faux pas of the highest order, but I just didn't care, which means I'm officially old.

I'll leave you with a few random photos.

And my personal favourite.