Saturday, 30 May 2015


Overheard while Hay was talking to a male friend who has decided to become a woman.

Hay: "The default for all fetuses is female and it's the lack of something that turns a fetus into a male."

Chairman: "That would that be the brain I suppose?"

We went to our usual dining haunt last night - The Fox And Hounds in Acton Turville. Hay's sea bream was divine and led us to consider a website where you could track your favourite chef as he or she moved from establishment to establishment, We came up with www.StalkYourChef,com.

Friday, 29 May 2015

FIFA Mayoral Routemaster

Was watching Vintage Antiques Roadshow before the news last night and they had some London Transport Routemaster buses on the programme. It was a sad day when they got rid of the design and went for the driver/conductor model. The open rear platform of the Routemaster, combined with a clippy, ensured that buses stopped at bus stops for an absolute minimum of time, avoiding clogging up streets for several minutes while passengers queue to pay their fare to the driver. Added to this, passengers could board and alight at places that were not scheduled bus stops, adding convenience to the service - as well as the frisson of a modicum of risk. It was probably a result of a combination of the all pervading Health and Safety and halving the manpower cost; however, there are other considerations these days, like city centre congestion, more efficient services and customer service.

Spotted Putin on the news last night giving his endorsement (and hence the kiss of death) to Sepp Blatter. Putin's not exactly untainted by the whiff of corruption himself - more like the stink of corruption. Is it my imagination or did Vlad look like he'd paid a recent visit to the Wind Tunnel School of Cosmetic Surgery? He's definitely looking more Asiatic of late.

"Our bidding campaign was held honestly. Russia is not mixed up in corruption, everything is fair for our part," Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko assured reporters in Zurich. Well, based on previous official statements from the Russian government, it's now assured there was corruption involved.

One hears that other paragon of virtue, George Galloway, is standing for London Mayor. About as much chance of him becoming Mayor as Blatter or Putin have of being believed about anything.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

How Does She Do It?

Saw Mrs Queen reading the Queen's Speech on TV last night - with gloves! She must have little rubber ends to her gloves so she can turn the pages.

OK, I admit it - I bought a pneumatic pop rivet gun on eBay yesterday!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Who To Believe on Tenancy?

Was listening to the Today programme on the radio while driving to Gosport yesterday to see a customer. There was an item about the economies of the EU, where it was stated that the UK economy is in good health and growing due to the UK having taken the medicine of austerity. This was immediately followed by an item on Nicola Sturgeon calling for an end to cuts as it was damaging the UK economy. I'm more inclined to believe the economist than Nicola Sturgeon, especially as we hear that politicians have a propensity to tell lies.

People are getting all het up about Tory plans to extend the right to buy. I can't see why, though I'm no expert on council houses.

If someone can afford to buy their council house, then surely taking the property out of the social housing stock, releasing the equity and reinvesting it in more social housing for those who actually need it seems sense. If someone can afford to buy their home (admittedly with a discount), then surely they no longer need to be in social housing? It accounts for the fact that people's circumstances change, whereas keeping them in council properties is a waste of a resource.

The fact the ex council tenant may sell up immediately and make a profit is neither here nor there. As for the properties being sold to Tory chums, surely that's a fallacy, as the onward sale is controlled by the ex tenant. Even then the property is sold on at market value, which can't be all that high if located in a council estate where the majority can't afford to buy in the first place.

I suppose there is a drive for council tenants to over-extend themselves for a short period to buy their property in the hope of making a profit in a very short space of time, but they would still need to buy somewhere else, and fast.

The plan surely consumes less of our taxes than simply building more social housing, as the new stock would be partially funded by council tenants no longer needing to be in social housing buying their homes?

Perhaps someone can put me straight on this?

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

National Front Cooking

Overheard while watching a TV programme about Indian cooking. The Scots Sikh chef is eating with a local maharaja.

Hay: "So where does the Indian maharajas' money come from?"

Chairman: "Same place as our aristos - land, companies and the National Front - no, not the National Front. What do you call it? Oh yes, their equivalent of the National Trust."

Monday, 25 May 2015


Chairman: "My damned back is playing me up again. Need to see an osteopath."

Hay: "It's all that walking upright that's giving you problems. It's a vet you need to see."

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Judging a Fun Run

Saw a poster yesterday advertising a "Fun Run". Surely that's an oxymoron?

We had the first BBQ of the season last night and finished around 10:30 pm. Just before retiring we switched on the TV and tuned into the Eurovision thingy in time to see some voting and heard Conchita Wurst saying; "There's no judgement at Eurovision." I thought that was the whole purpose, or am I missing something?

The entries seemed to be the usual array of dated power ballads or circus acts. Hideous stuff having more to so with spectacle than taste. That said, we caught a reprise of the Austrian entry, which we both agreed was a half decent song from a different mould that would probably do well if untainted by Eurovision and released in the normal way. Looked up the results this morning and needless to say, Austria came joint last.

My winner was Nigella reading out the UK votes. She won - no doubt about it. No need for glimpses of flesh or displays of acrylic Euroboobs. She's classy - but let herself down badly by being associated with the show in the first place.

Electro Velvet - who chose that name? Sounds straight from the 70s.

It's called Eurovision, but the voting seemed plagued by video link failures.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

The Sicilian Defence for Tools

We share a drive with Hay's dad. He has the most annoying habit of taking his car out of his garage and then leaving it in his famous Sicilian Defence blocking position, which leaves me unable to get out.

I haven't the foggiest why he insists on doing it and it has become a popular joke within the 3 households of us, Hay's dad and her sister. When quizzed about it he says he has to go out, but it could be 6 hours later! It's a war of attrition. Going to leave a stinger across the drive...

Finished the trailer mudguards last night. Well, I say finished - I need a stronger pop rivet gun than the one I have.

So the trailer cost me £200 and the mudguards have cost me £10 for the drums. Then there was £30 for the sabre saw, £29 for the air shears, £79 for the compressor, £15 for the drill mounted nibbler (never used), £30 for the cordless drill, £40 for the angle grinder..... The strange thing is that I could have achieved everything with just the sabre saw - inexplicable - just as well I had bought one.

OK, not the prettiest mudguards this side of Suez, but it's the first time I've ever made anything from steel. Must have saved myself a fortune by using the old oil drums..... NOT. At least I have a near-full complement of tools - just a few more to get. Bending the flanges in a common or garden vice wasn't so easy - need a mini rolling mill.

People are increasingly complaining that politicians are nasty, stupid people. Looking at some of the nasty, stupid comments on newspaper articles posted on Facebook, it seems to me that politicians are simply becoming more like the people they represent, rather than a political elite.

Nicola Sturgeon is calling for Alistair Carmichael to resign following the leaking of a fake pre-election memo suggesting she wanted Cameron to remain as PM, calling it a blatant dirty trick. Aren't all words uttered by politicians during an election blatant dirty tricks?

Talking of stupid people - I was reading this story on Facebook about a guy in Texas who was told to take a US flag down from his apartment by the apartment manager because it offended Muslims. Now the overwhelming number of responses were from Rednecks not reading the story and telling Muslims where to stick it. The thing is that no Muslim actually complained - it was a stupid Texan apartment manager who told the guy it would offend Muslims. The Texan is entirely to blame, yet the Facebook Redneck lynching mob are all blaming Muslims. Shades of Kristallnacht.

Eurovision tonight! An object lesson in how Europe is fatally divided, if you ask me. Won't be watching it - it has become a kitsch circus.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Chip off the Old Block

Bought a potato chipper off eBay last week. Flimsiest piece of crap ever - it accommodates only minute potatoes and the cutting blades are wafer thin. They crumpled on the 2nd potato. Asked for my money back.

I wanted a good, old fashioned, bomb-proof chipper like my mum used to have. Searched high and low on eBay, but to no avail. Finally twigged that I should perhaps include the word vintage, and hey presto!

Solid, wooden handles that roll and blades that are fit for purpose. Just look at the quality - it has lasted since the 60s, unlike modern garbage which lasts only 60 seconds. Made in England too, not China. An Earlswood - probably made from girders by shipwrights at Cammell Lairds or steel fabricators in the Black Country. Why can't we make stuff like this anymore?

Have you noticed you can no longer mark an eBay transaction as crap? They force you down the route of resolution, which simply takes so long that you get fed up and give up. I suppose it's because you're actually marking the seller, as opposed to the product.

Talking about a chip off the old block - I had a go at making some mudguards for the trailer last night out of the old oil drums. Used just about every new tool I've purchased over the last 6 months.

Not quite finished yet - need to fashion some flanges to pop rivet to the base to make it secure. Told Hay I could now make a BBQ from the other drum - but I'd need a welding kit for the legs....

Our neighbour, Veronica, regularly has coffee mornings or dinner parties, some of which are cancelled at the last minute (I have no idea why). The cancelled ones result in her having a glut of cake, biscuits and all manner of goodies from Marks and Spencer or Waitrose, which she invariably off-loads to me. We could practically live off Veronica's hand-outs.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Discriminatory Top Trumps in Yate

Apropos of yesterday's gay cake post - I wonder if we shouldn't have a hierarchy of anti-discrimination. A kind of anti-discrimination Top Trumps.

Some outline rules:
  1. Objective fact trumps philosophy - thus race, gender, sexuality trumps faith.
  2. ......
Hang on - we've run into the gay cake issue already....

However, as A Heron's View pointed out to me yesterday, the matter at hand was actually a mixture of contract law and anti-discriminatory legislation - a contract had been entered into by the bakery and money had been exchanged. That puts a slightly different light on the matter.

I'm all with my friend Steve (no, not in that sense) about the issue being trivialised by this court case over a bloody cake; it's liable to create a backlash. Save the court cases for more serious instances of discrimination.

Imagine a scenario where you're at a disco and it's request time. Gay person asks for a particular track and the DJ replies; "Nah mate - too gay." Discriminatory, or just good musical taste?

Did a search on "motorhome hire in Yate", meaning a motorhome hire business in Yate. Got something back that simply inserts the word Yate into a prepared script. Here's what it said:

About Yate:

Yate is one of the great places located in the county of Gloucestershire in England. Gloucestershire is definitely one of the most popular counties in England and Yate is ideal for motorhome breaks or holidays. And if you decide you want to hire a motorhome in Yate then you will have free reign to visit any location in Yate. Just another benefit of motorhome holidays!

Now if anyone knows Yate they will be rolling on the floor laughing at the thought of any holiday in Yate, never mind about a motorhome one - it's like having a holiday in St Helens. Total anathema.

Yate - ideal holiday destination.

Interestingly, do a Google search with the word Yate and on the images you first get several pages of superyachts - images not exactly synonymous with the town. Yate obviously means yacht in Spanish.

Getting rather fed up with seeing Twittersphere comments about the Tories scrapping human rights. Those commentating have latched on to a popular meme without doing any basic research into what the government actually plans. Comments from air thieves are based on a totally fallacious assumption and flights of paranoid fancy. I despair of the intelligence of the average Brit, I really do. They should try reading the proposals rather than latching on to scare stories. I guess that's the problem with society today - people read rumour and take it as gospel without further analysis or critical thinking. Because of political bias, the left-wing newspapers are guilty of perpetuating the memes.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Gay Cake Debacle

A bakery in Northern Ireland has been found guilty of discrimination by refusing to make a cake with a pro gay marriage slogan.

I do think things are getting out of hand with this anti-discrimination law.

What if you were a baker with a predominantly Catholic clientele who was asked to bake a cake celebrating the Battle of the Boyne. Could you argue that making such a cake could affect your business - possibly leading to your business going bust as a consequence?

What if you are a gay baker asked to make a cake with the slogan; "No to Gay Marriage"?

Of if you were say Jewish and asked to make a cake emblazoned with the Nazi flag? Wouldn't you be justified in refusing?

It's not as if the buyer didn't have the choice to go somewhere else. Makes you wonder if the bakery in question was specifically targeted just to make a point.

There's also the matter of the use of images of Bert and Ernie - copyright infringement?

What cake would you refuse to bake? A Creationist cake would feature high on the list for me.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Top Gear

I hear the Saudis are advertising for some new executioners. I wonder if Len McClusky will try his hand? He does seem to be doing an admirable job with the Labour Party.

Had an amusing exchange yesterday on eBay with someone who is selling a Mercedes SLK 320 V6 (been looking for one to replace Hay's 230, but eventually gave up after Hay said she'd attend to the slight rust on it). 

He has it on at £4,900, which is over £1k more than market value for a perfect example, which his is not - it has some rust on the wheel arches, which is a common problem with the SLK - they were made when Mercedes lost its reputation for over-engineering their cars (my 300SL is 22 years old and has no rust whatsoever).

I contacted him with some friendly advice on the price, to which he candidly replied that he'd put it on at such a high price in an attempt to show his wife it wasn't worth selling - and so he could keep it. A man after my own heart.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Barnfield Towers II

Well, I finished oiling the west and east facades yesterday - one more two storey window to do and the tower can come down - the only problem is I like it (and I don't have anywhere to store it - Colin has no immediate need for it either).

May leave it up in the middle of the garden as an art installation....

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Barnfield Towers

Overheard in the restaurant:

We are discussing sensation.

Chairman: "Is your experience of say red the same as mine? I'd say yes, as we as a species have the same thoughts about contrasting and complimenting colours.  .....except ginger people. I mean, where did their obsession with purple come from?"

Hay: "How about synesthesia?"

Chairman: "I have no problem with same sex marriage."

Overheard later while talking about maca powder (allegedly provides relief from menopausal sweats):

Hay: "I've been doing some research on this maca powder stuff, seems there are different strengths - there's white, red and black."

Chairman: "I guess the Moroccan Black is the best psychoactive stuff that all the ladies do in the clubs. What's the street price for Afghan Red?"

Overheard this morning:

Hay: "What do you want to do today, Badger?"

Chairman: "Some jobbies."

Hay: "Not in the house please."

When building the house we purchased a £1,000 modular, snap-on scaffold tower for Colin, our builder, to use. On finishing we lent it permanently to Colin, and very grateful he was too. What with doing all this oak window renovation, I needed to get up to the upper floor windows and I certainly wasn't going to perform sanding and oiling from a ladder.

Having just completed his latest project, Colin brought the tower round on Thursday evening and I commenced to erect it on Friday evening. It was so simple and I could do it myself. Managed to do one small window and the entire west face on Saturday. Best £1,000 I've ever spent. Every man needs a modular, snap-on scaffold tower, so go out and buy one today! Lidl need to do a 'special' on them.

This photo shows it with just 2 sections - there are 3, so I could easily get right to the top of the house.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Manual Trousers in Iceland

Apparently when you get to Iceland (the country, not the shop with frozen crap that very poor people eat) you can get a phrase book. As with other phrase books, it contains useful phrases. Unlike other phrase books I am led to believe it also contains useless phrases. These include:

  1. Where is the train station?
  2. The weather is nice day today, and
  3. Is there anything cheaper?
Believe it or not, Iceland has no railways.

Decided to give all my manual shorts and trousers to the charity shop yesterday. A  bit like manual cars, I think manual trousers are an anachronistic nuisance. God wouldn't have made zips if he thought men's trousers should have button flies in perpetuity. It's automatic trousers and shorts for me from now on.

Friday, 15 May 2015

The News at a Glance

ITV staff staging a 24 hour strike - will anyone notice?

Claudia Winkleman talks about her daughter's burns - popular on the BBC website, but hardly news since it happened last October.

Some people I've never heard of are vying to become leaders of Labour.

Farage does what Farage and UKIP do best.

Some people in the north of England want to join Scotland - sounds like a recipe for seriously considering a federal UK, but even a federation has one party in overall charge. I wonder when Scotland will further fragment into independent clans fiefdoms?

Exercise makes you live longer - you don't say!. I wonder how much research money went into that previously unknown fact?

Can anyone recommend a decent website for real news?

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Greeks Bearing Manufactured Service Gifts

Finally got round to reupholstering the two dining carvers last night in a contrasting material (I say carvers, but they're really just end chairs) - the carvers are done in the material on the right - a lighter and less pronounced tartan.

Halloumi cheese is apparently undergoing a boom in sales in the UK. The reason totally eludes me - I think the stuff is redolent of that Silly Putty stuff and has no relationship to real cheese whatsoever. Cheese that squeaks when you chew it? Nonsensical. Got some for Hay from Lidl, and some halva - oily sawdust with a hint of pistachio - filthy foreign muck! Think I'll go UKIP...

Next economics issue  engendered by No.1 Son's Economics AS Level - the decline of manufacturing.

It's said that the UK's decline in manufacturing has been offset by the exponential growth in service industries. I believe that to be true, but there's one fatal flaw with a migration to a service based economy - service based industry is generally difficult to export and is primarily targeted at a domestic market (there are exceptions, like finance). That won't do the balance of payments much good. Not only that, but whereas economies of scale are relatively simple within manufacturing, it's almost impossible in service industry without a drop in the quality of the product (imagine a teacher improving productivity by doubling the class size). 

As a consequence, importation of manufactured goods will increase as consumption rises, but service based exports will reach a natural peak, meaning an unsustainable deficit.

Any solutions?

I work in a service based job (MD) within the UK for a foreign (Israeli) manufacturer, so I'm improving the balance of payments with my services, but can do little to grow my contribution to the balance of payments without doing two simultaneous jobs, which a) isn't allowed by my employer, and b) would result in my effectiveness (hence quality of service) in each job becoming substandard.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

It's the Rrich What Gets the Pleasure....

Cameron is supposed to have appointed his cabinet, but Hay's dad was complaining he'd yet to hear who is running the Colonial Office, the Ministry of Food or indeed the Ministry of Information.

Last night we had some walkers turn up on our doorstep at 8pm asking if they could camp in our field. They're doing a sponsored walk from Cardiff to London in aid of some mental health charities and I was surprised to find from Google Maps we're slap-bang on the route.

Yesterday I was thinking about inequality - the reason being that No.1 Son did his AS Level Economics exam on Monday and had been asking me all manner of silly questions that made me think.

The common mantra of the left is that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, and I wanted to see if this is true. I started off by thinking back some 100 years, when even middle class people had maids and domestic servants. Few, if any, middle income people retain staff these days - good staff are so hard to come by, don't you find....

In the 1800s, some 10 to 14% of the British population was engaged in domestic service. These days it's a luxury item reserved for only the very wealthy - 0.3% of the population is engaged in domestic service today. Or so I thought.

When you think about it, domestic service has been compartmentalised and outsourced.
  • We go out to eat, having other people cook our dinners,
  • Some people send their laundry out to be washed or dry cleaned,
  • Some people have a gardener come once a week or fortnight,
  • Tesco and their ilk will even do your grocery shopping for you,
  • Many have a woman who does, doing it once a week,
  • Childcare is performed by 3rd parties.
There are so many instances of us having domestic help, but sharing it out and no longer having to house our staff.

That said, the domestic service figure for Germany is 0.7% and for the USA it's 0.6% - double the UK figure - although it's only 0.005% in Sweden. In Brazil, apparently, it's not unusual for a teacher to have one or even two servants.

Domestic servants are not necessarily highly skilled and can be said to be at the low end of the pay scale, yet very few can afford to hire a dedicated body on a minimum wage.

At the other end of the scale, rich people (and I mean very rich) can simultaneously lose half their worth in a single market downturn, leading to a large drop in inequality,

The chart below shows the UK inequality index (using a variety of metrics - Gini and percentiles) since 1961 (BHC means before housing costs and AHC means....well, you guessed it):

As you can see, inequality jumped in the 1980s with Thatcherism, deregulation and the free market, and again under the last years of the Blair government, but curiously it has reduced since the 2010 election on all scales of measurement. The 2009 crash probably had much to do with that and fortunes being wiped out at a stroke.

Now the left may go on about the use of food banks increasing, but food banks are a relatively new innovation, and if you provide a service then people are going to use it, and as more people get to hear of it, even more people will use it. Therefore using food banks as an argument for an increase in inequality is somewhat disingenuous. My own theory is that the increasing use of food banks also has a lot to do with a creaking social security system whereby social security payments are delayed, and not an actual rise in inequality. At least that's what people who frequent food banks or deal with people on the poverty line seem to be saying.

However, having said all the above, the drop in the percentage of people being employed in domestic service had a lot to do with the advent of domestic appliances, which freed up women to enter the workforce.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Leadership Linseed

I do wish the BBC news site would get its act together on facts. There was an article yesterday on David Miliband criticising his brother's leadership, which ended by saying Miliband Senior could not be the next leader as he's not an MP. Well, in that case, how the hell did Farage become (and remain) the leader of UKIP - he neither was nor is an MP? A party leader does not have to be an MP, else how would any party start off?

What would be a bit difficult is PM's Questions - wouldn't be much fun with the leader of the opposition not being there, as only MPs are allowed to sit in the Commons. The usual solution is to ask a backbencher with a decent majority to fall on his sword, accept a peerage and initiate a by election, whereby the new party leader is is shooed-in.

Been doing some window renovation, The stuff the oak windows came painted in has not stood up to even 2 years of weather. God alone knows what it was, but I've been busy sanding it down and wiping the wood with good old boiled linseed oil.



We used to use linseed oil on the doors to the accommodation on the ships I sailed on. They were made of teak and prey to all weathers, including salt spray. We would rub them down with wads of canvass and sand from a bucket, with the addition of some caustic solution to help remove any staining, then 3 coats of boiled linseed oil (rub down the 1st coat with some fine wire wool to ensure a smooth finish) would seal them for 2 years at the very least - bearing in mind they had to put up with a lot more than 2 English summers and winters.

Another benefit of boiled linseed oil is that it's as cheap as chips compared to other wood finishes and preservatives (around £20 for 5L, which will easily do a whole house) and can be wiped on with a rag.

Sometimes the old solutions are best.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Kingfisher Hot Flushes

Took this on our morning walk around Chipping Sodbury. Look very hard in the middle of the photo and you'll see a kingfisher sitting on a stick over the water.

Hay heard about maca powder, which allegedly combats the hot flushes associated with menopause. The effects seem to be entirely apocryphal, but being the scientist she is, she decided to give it a try and has ordered some from t'internet.

Maca powder is the ground root of some native Andean root vegetable, and the women of that area are supposed not to suffer from menopausal hot flushes. I posited that the reason for this might be the fact they never reached menopause, succumbing instead to maca poisoning in their mid 40s.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Out-of-Body Memories of Foster Wives

We were talking about memories yesterday. Here's a question; when you recall memories, do you see yourself from another person's perspective, or do you see things through your own eyes, as you would have seen them at the time? 

I see myself as if I was viewing the situation from a 3rd party's perspective - like an out-of-body experience, or a film director's perspective or observer perspective - which seems strange, as it's a perspective that could never have happened in reality.

We were also talking about foster children, foster parents, etc., and wondered why the concept of foster wives and foster husbands has never been thought of....

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Illogicality and Nespresso Sagas

Well, the polls show that not only are politicians not to be trusted, but neither are the bloody electorate. The lying bastards - who do they think they are, changing their intentions at the last minute!

If the swing away from the Lib Dems was due to broken promise on the issue of university fees (which is all the swing could be blamed on in terms of broken promises), why on earth did so much of it go to the Conservatives (as they did in our constituency), who were the very party who increased university fees to £9k in the first place? Totally illogical!

People moan incessantly about waiting to see a doctor and the Tories selling off the NHS, and then they perversely go and vote in a Conservative majority! The UK electorate never ceases to amaze me. However, I think we can safely say that Labour can either blame the Scots or themselves for the result. I guess it may have been down to one of three things (or even an amalgam of the three):

  1. A fear of a Labour / SNP alliance, 
  2. The economy, stupid - the psychological fear losing what you have gained, also known as the bird-in-the-hand is worth two in the bush effect, and
  3. A desire for a referendum on Europe (which I think is a mistake, as most of the electorate - myself included - is as ignorant of the effects of leaving as they are of quantum entanglement. Leave it to the experts).
If the second point is valid, then there was only one way the economy could have gone after a crash, regardless of who was in power. Governments don't really have that much of an effect - it's the markets that count, and confidence. There again, politicians are great confidence tricksters.

Spotted Douglas Hurd on the TV at about half past five in the evening talking utter bollocks, Thought he was going to have a thrombie during the interview.

The SNP could have put Kevin Phillips-Bong up as a candidate, and the Scots would have voted for him.

Farage resign? No - UKIP is lost without him, he's their strategic weapon. Clegg resign? No, I think he should stay - he has good potential and is a natural. Just a pity the electorate was so fickle. Miliband Minor resign? Yes, then I might be persuaded to vote Labour, unless it's the unions who shoe-in the next leader.

Continuing with the saga of the DeLonghi Nespresso coffee machine. Well, the rubber seals worked, as evidenced by the photo below (the pod on the right shows the seal in situ):

It provides just the right amount of additional thrutch to ensure the pod lid is evenly perforated. Even works with just a lid made of common or garden tinfoil crimped over the top of the pod. The taste was still dishwater though, but I believe the Lidl cafetiere coffee is unsuited to one of these jobbies.

Now for the Lidl pods, which work out at £0.175 per pod, just over half the price of the Nespresso ones.

No added thrutch required, as they fit perfectly. Also, the coffee is somewhat stronger than the standard Lidl brick of coffee, so a good taste. Not only that, but the construction is very similar to the reusables in that they don't get fatally pierced in the bottom, meaning they can be reused with simple crimped tinfoil, but you need to find a coffee of suitable strength. I wouldn't use the bought stick-on lids on these, as the remains of the old lid adhere to the pod and is difficult to remove in order to get a good seal.

Note that you can get stainless steel reusable pods on eBay which can be reused 100 times. I've yet to try them.

Hay's still not convinced it's worth it. Her main gripe is that it takes up too much kitchen counter space. She thinks they're just a middle-class style statement with no practical use whatsoever. I was of that opinion till I tried the Lidl pods.

Friday, 8 May 2015


It seems we have a Conservative child for our local MP and Steve Webb (ex Minister for Pensions - Lib Dem) has lost his seat.

What with Nicola Sturgeon's recent transformation to svelte femme fatale, I somehow sense her fat, frumpy hubby will be dumped shortly.

As for the Labour vote collapsing in the face of the Conservatives - perhaps the Brand effect combined with the Alan Partridge effect. Will we see Miliband Senior rejoining the Labour ranks - I do hope so.

Overheard while feeding Kitty:

Chairman: "With all that fur round her bum, how the hell does she keep it clean? Ah yes, she licks it."

Hay: "Well, she's grooming herself all day. You keep your bum clean."

Chairman: "Yes, but I don't lick it!"

Hay: "You would if you could."

Overheard in the patio:

Hay's Dad: "I was watching a documentary about Eastern Europeans coming over here to get jobs. The business owner in the documentary said he paid above the minimum wage, but couldn't get any white people to take the jobs, so he employs Poles."

Hay: "Good grief, do you know what you just said? You didn't vote SS this morning, did you?"

Hay's Dad: "Slip of the tongue, you know what I meant."

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Gadget Woman (and Man) on a Windsor FlipBoard

Overheard in the kitchen:

Hay: "That Nespresso machine has to go. I'm not a gadget person..... although I love my NutriBullet."

Yesterday I suggested a kale, celery and whisky NutriBullet smoothie. Hay thought it was diverging somewhat from the overall aim of the regime.

Heard some younger people on TV last night complaining that politics and the election don't connect with them. Christ - what are we voting about? The economy, Europe, public services and specifically the NHS, jobs. What these young people are saying is that they are too thick to understand the very issues that affect them on a daily basis!

I heard someone say they're voting for Status Quo. Never knew they had a political party - probably just got 3 policies.

Bloody Samuel Windsor! Just because I bought some shoes off them 3 years ago they now inundate me with junk mail. Not satisfied with sending me 2 brochures, they even sent one to Hay.

Hits on the blog went stratospheric yesterday - must have been something to do with the keywords Nespresso, NutriBullet and e-cigarette all appearing at once.

Talking of gadgets, about a month ago I switched from my old e-cigarette to one of the newfangled jobbies with a huge tank and a battery that's more like a mobile phone charger.

The one on the left was bought first, but I was lucky to get a full day from it. Bought the battery on the right a few days later and I can get nearly 2 full days from it. The woman in the shop said she got about 3 days from the smaller battery and over a week from the larger one. Obviously she's not that serious about her nicotine addiction. Given the charger is a normal mini-USB phone charger, you'd think they'd add a USB port to the battery pack so you could use it as a phone charger in an emergency.

Totally given up on the BBC News website - too much like hard work trying to find actual news, as opposed to tittle-tattle and sleb gossip. I recently switched to FlipBoard, and it's wonderful.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Coffee Machine Holidays with Nutribullet

I saw in the news yesterday that the leaders of the political parties are doing separate tours of the UK. Don't they realise there's an election this week? Not what I'd call the ideal time to be going on holiday.

Gave in to pressure from Hay and made myself a Nutribullet soup for my skinny day last night. 2 carrots, a yellow pepper and some parsley. After a quick zuzz, I heated it up in the microwave. Tasted OK, if somewhat watery (due to the lack of flour or fat). Not a patch of proper cooked soup, but great if in a hurry. Also used it to zuzz some desiccated coconut, almond flakes, muscovado sugar and sultanas to make a Peshwari naan filling. It was only a trial, so I froze it and will use it later in the week when I'm baking.

Inherited an old Nespresso machine from the office closure (being MD I have first dibs). Not impressed with the cost of the damned pods (although I also inherited a 6 month supply), you either have to be George Clooney to afford them, or get them on the office stationery budget. Decided to do some cheap-skate stuff, as is my natural tendency when faced with exorbitant cost (except when it comes to tools).

First I bought some plastic reusable pods with stick-on foil lids from eBay (I was saddened to find they didn't have images of Princess Charlotte on them) and filled them with our own Lidl coffee. The result was dish water. Tried a coarser coffee - same result. Finally discovered the reusable pods aren't seating correctly against the perforator, so very little water, if any, was percolating through.

The machine.

Reusable pods with stick-on seals.

Close up of reusable pod.

Alternative arrangement - normal pod with crimped foil.

Side view

Reusable  with coarser textured coffee

Note the genuine pod seal on the left, and reusable on the right - not fully perforated.

Tried over-filling the pods and got a passable result, but that's a bit messy. Have ordered some seals; not sure what they look like but assume they form a collar below the lip of the pod and facilitate a few extra mills of push. Will advise the result when I receive them. although I have a vague suspicion the Nespresso machine will end up on Freecycle as I don't earn enough to run one of these gadgets full time. Nothing beats a good old cafetiere for taste, convenience or value.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Political Insurance

Hay added herself to her dad's car insurance policy yesterday and the cost dropped. The same happened last year when I added her to my policy. She asked the telesales woman why the price dropped and was told it was because the risk was spread among more drivers, but that's illogical, as with more drivers the risk of a particular car having an accident must perforce increase.

Russell Brand is apparently telling his adoring and mindless fans to vote Labour. He'll be endorsing products in exchange for money next. Brand and Miliband; one is a politician and the other a comic - not sure which is which though.

Even Steve Coogan is thinking his endorsement will sway voters. The sad thing is that he's probably right when it comes to a certain section of the population.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Car Tales & Nutribullets

Went to Exmouth yesterday to view an SLK 320 V6 intended as a replacement for Hay's Merc. It was advertised as rust free - you could have fooled me. It had more rust than Hay;s Merc. Total waste of a 200 mile journey!

Stopped off in Budleigh Salterton on the way back for a spot of lunch at a local pub. For the first time in several years I was treated to an English salad - i.e. a bunch of salad leaves with no dressing whatsoever. Utterly tasteless.

As we were entering Budleigh Salterton we spotted a sign for a performance by the Lux Wind Qintet. Hay thought I should apply to join them, presumably playing the fartophone.

The Nutribullet was delivered yesterday (never had anything delivered on a Sunday before - not sure how they managed that). Had a good few hours playing with it - Hay was making hideous green concoctions while I satisfied myself with a banana milkshake. It does work much better than a standard blender, but I discovered you can adapt a standard blender and improve its performance by taking out the blender blade attachment and screwing it to a Mason jar. You get exactly the same result for a fraction of the cost.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Pedal Cars on Roads

Just saw a headline in the Sunday Times saying; "One in three 11 year-olds will fail new tests." I thought one of the political parties had spawned a proposal that 11 year-olds be allowed to drive cars...

Another good headline: Ajockalypse Now!

The new royal baby - Chenise? Chantelle?

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Blending Term Time Holidays

Don't you just wish all these politicians would simply go away and Mrs Queen formed a government herself?

Ref yesterday's post about the teacher who took her kids off school to visit that Andean place I have difficulty spelling - I had a good gander at the Facebook comments and the overwhelming majority of the ones in favour of the "educational value" of taking kids out of school for holidays had atrocious spelling or used text-speak. They obviously got their education while on holiday.

Hay is going a tad daft with the juice thing. Yesterday I tried to get her to use the lawn grass clippings in her juicer - I have so much grass to mow now that composting is no longer an option, unless I want to go commercial with it. She didn't seem impressed with the idea. 

She was in two minds about whether to invest a small fortune in a Nutribullet, so I was tasked with finding a few YouTube videos showing comparisons. This one just shows the dangers of juicing - obviously not good for the waist - however I'm mega impressed with the machine the woman uses. It looks like something from the US defence programme, but is over £400!

These Americans don't half go on  - they're fond of the sound of their own voices and witter on for ten minutes when they could say what needs to be said in two - it infuriates me!

Finally found a half decent video from an good, old fashioned Yorkshire housewife comparing a Nutribullet with other types of blenders. It also could have done with a bit of editing (she constantly disappeared to do the washing up).

The upshot is that the evidence speaks for itself and a £90 Nutribullet has been ordered. It uses the whole fruit (or veg) and doesn't waste the pulp, blending the lot into a smoothie better than a blender alone can manage. I guess it has to do with the shape, being wider at the bottom, creating a better vortex which increases the efficiency of the blending action. I suspect No. 1 Son's ideal juice would be a McDonald's and chips smoothie.

Going to video Hay's dad's girlfriend, Barbara, while cooking something indigenous to Yorkshire and monetise the result. People make fortunes from videoing themselves in their kitchens - I could do one on sourdough bread making, or tool collecting...

Talking of advertising, saw an advert for some concoction called PÜD and wondered if the umlaut was genuine, a play on Müller or an affected metal umlaut. And just who was Uncle Ben?

Friday, 1 May 2015

SNP Longevity in Term Time

Bad news for women - their menfolk are catching up in the longevity stakes. Wonder if this will increase the divorce rate among the elderly?

Was reading an item in the Economist yesterday where an analysis of the SNP manifesto pronounced it overwhelmingly identical to the Labour manifesto, with the exceptions of Trident (where they are not that different) and Scottish Independence. It would transpire that a Labour SNP alliance would not hold the country to ransom, as is commonly suggested in the media, as to do that Sturgeon would have to threaten to vote against her own manifesto on just about every issue - which would surely be suicide. So, if you're a socialist Scot but don't want independence, there's nothing to choose between Labour and SNP and so you may as well vote for a Labour majority.

Was reading a Facebook post by some teacher in Manchester who took her family to Macchu Picchu, Machu Pichu, Machu Piccu - oh dammit - that place in the Andes. She willingly paid her £240 fine and was crowing about the trip's educational value. The facts remain:

  1. She's a teacher and should set an example - and what was she doing being off in term time?
  2. The value of the trip being taken during school time undeniably had more to do with the cost of the trip than its educational value, else she could just as easily have gone during school holiday time (get out of that one, if you can).
  3. The £240 fine was tiny compared to the saving made by travelling during term time.
  4. Macchu Pichu, Machu.... is a theme park now and has the educational value of Alton Towers.