Wednesday, 30 September 2020


 Can anyone explain why, when I roll out the hose on my jet washer, it always kinks?

It's on a reel and, as I unwind it by pulling on the reel, it should not, theoretically, kink. However, move toward the reel end with the hose and kinks start to form. 

The strange thing is that the kinks are, in sequence, in opposing directions, resulting in net zero kinks when you try to unravel them. I turn the jet spray one was by 180 degrees to unkink one kink, and then the other way 180 degrees to unkink the next kink, etc, etc - never a full 360 degrees.

It makes no sense.

Tuesday, 29 September 2020


Overheard in the house:

Chairman: "Well, time for a glass of wine."

Hay: "I thought you said you were religious about not having any wine before 6pm."

Chairman: "All religions lie."

No.1 Son started his new IT job about 6 weeks ago. He has yet to physically meet anyone from his company. The recruitment was done remotely, the on-boarding was done remotely and his work is being conducted remotely.

His boss maintains there will be no travelling to the office till January at the earliest. Welcome to the new normal.

Monday, 28 September 2020


Overheard in the van:

Chairman: "OK Google.... when do the clocks go back?"

Hay: "Last Saturday in October."

Chairman: "OK Google.... belay that, my wife gave me the answer."

We returned yesterday from a weekend away in the van to South Devon - Bigbury-on-Sea and Bantham, to be precise. We walked some of the South West Coast Path and I'm convinced that it's mainly women to perform the walk, as the worn path is so narrow that a man has to perform a mincing, catwalk walk, with one foot placed directly in front of the other, in order tread in the path. Walk with your feet slightly splayed out, or with a swaggering gait, and you're buggered.

We came across Challaborough (pictured below), which is a holiday village comprised entirely of expensive and not so expensive static caravans. You can buy them for anywhere between £50k and £72k, and very nice they are too. It struck me that these are a perfect answer to the housing crisis. They're inexpensive, yet very nicely appointed. Build a few villages comprising these statics near towns and I'm certain people would be queueing to buy them, or rent them. 

You purchase one of these caravans to be hosted at the site and, doubtless, there are all manner of restrictive covenants and additional, annual fees that make the site owner a fortune.

OK, they're a depreciating asset, but they are ideal for people who cannot afford, or ever will afford, to get on the traditional, bricks and mortar housing ladder. They're a bit like the old prefabs that were prevalent after WWII and people lived in right up to the 80s and longer. In fact, some in Southmead, Bristol, were demolished only as late as 2014.

While on the beach it struck me that I'm more fascinated by beach pebbles now than I was as a kid. As I get older, I appreciate the time it has taken to produce the perfect pebble.

We were walking along several narrow lanes, having to squash ourselves to the side of the road every now and again as cars wanted to pass us. Occasionally I wanted to shout; "Ow!" as a car passed us and then start jumping up and down as if in pain from the car tyre having passed over my foot. Hay sensibly stopped me. 

On one occasion we were walking along when Hay suddenly noticed a car behind us that must have been there a while. We hadn't heard it because it was electric. 

The place we stayed is a farm where the farmer has turned some of his land over to the hospitality industry. While he still performs some traditional farming, the hospitality sector must be bringing in far more cash than farming. Rather than farming vegetables and animals, he's now farming people, and who can blame him? 

With Covid and Climate Change putting the kybosh on international travel, staycations are becoming more prevalent and camping / caravanning are socially distanced forms of holidaying. While the UK is not self-sufficient in food today, it will only get worse unless farmers are paid subsidies that make it worthwhile to produce food.

Sunday, 27 September 2020

Here We Go Again

I've been seeing a lot of people posting the image below on Facebook:

The mere fact it's from a Leave Facebook page tells me all I need to know, and that's that it's divisive.

It seems many people are incandescent that anyone would stand up against racism, and I ask myself why? It stems from the All Lives Matter movement, which is a tactic to deflect the argument way from a glaring injustice.

They just don't get it. The BLM protests are an attempt to draw attention to institutional racism and the initiate change within such institutions. Such organisations are susceptible to criticism and can change. The problem with the above image is, exactly who are they trying to change? Drug peddlers, who it appears the shooter was. Trying to pressurise the criminal underworld to change is admirable, but futile. That is why I doubt the sincerity - it's yet another shot at the BLM movement.

I've seen some write that continuing to take the knee at sporting events will only make people more racist. That's exactly the kind of thing a racist would say, so as to justify their racism. I'd love to hear their logic on that one. 

They also seem sick and tired with the length of time the movement has been around, but the suffragettes didn't cease after one summer, nor did the civil rights movement in the USA - it's actually an extension of that.

The police sergeant in question was not shot because of his colour - he was shot because he was a policeman doing his job, a job that can be very dangerous. Many people are targeted for no other reason than the colour of their skin. 

There's another trope doing the rounds showing a blue line with the text; "Police Lives Matter." While I agree totally with the sentiment, a large proportion of those posting it appear to be those who also posted the All Lives Matter trope, thus I once more doubt that cohort's motive and sincerity. 

That's not, however, to say many have posted it with deep felt sincerity. I myself have reposted it, but I'm not an All Lives Matter drone using it as a shield. Indeed, one of my nieces is in the police in Merseyside and some of her stories are horrendous. She was seriously injured in a car accident while chasing a criminal, so I know exactly how testing the job is.

Racism is impenetrable to me. If you wouldn't discriminate against anyone because of the colour of their hair or eyes, then what relevance does the colour of their skin have? That said, they so say gentlemen prefer blondes and the blue-eyed blonde is revered as the pinnacle of beauty by many in the west.  However, there's a huge difference between preference and discrimination. 

Saturday, 26 September 2020

Sweets for My Sweet

Apparently artificial sweeteners can decimate one's gut biome, a side effect of which is to change the manner in which you process your food. It has been discovered than one of these side effects is to make you fat, which is ironic when artificial sweeteners are consumed in order to lose weight.

Seems the best option is to cut out sugar completely, use less of it, or stick to sugar, rather than sweeteners. Sweeteners, perversely, make you obese, so stay away from the diet drinks.

Interestingly, there's a growing body of evidence to suggest red grapes are beneficial to the gut microbiome - including red wine....

Friday, 25 September 2020

The Reason I jump

I'm reading a book called The Reason I Jump, written by an autistic, Japanese child by the name of Naoki Higishida, about what it is like to be autistic. 

The introduction contains these paragraphs:

"Now your mind is a room where twenty radios, all tuned to different stations, are blaring out voices and music. The radios have no off-switches or volume controls, the room you’re in has no door or window, and relief will come only when you’re too exhausted to stay awake. 

"To make matters worse, another hitherto unrecognized editor has just quit without notice -your editor of the senses. Suddenly sensory input from your environment is flooding in too, unfiltered in quality and overwhelming in quantity. Colours and patterns swim and clamour for your attention. 

The fabric conditioner in your sweater smells as strong as air-freshener fired up your nostrils. Your comfy jeans are now as scratchy as steel wool. Your vestibular and proprioceptive senses are also out of kilter, so the floor keeps tilting like a ferry in heavy seas, and you’re no longer sure where your hands and feet are in relation to the rest of you. You can feel the plates of your skull, plus your facial muscles and your jaw: your head feels trapped inside a motorbike helmet three sizes too small which may or may not explain why the airconditioner is as deafening as an electric drill, but your father who’s right here in front of you sounds as if he’s speaking to you from a cell-phone, on a train going through lots of short tunnels, in fluent Cantonese. 

"You are no longer able to comprehend your mother-tongue, or any tongue: from now on all languages will be foreign languages. Even your sense of time has gone, rendering you unable to distinguish between a minute and an hour, _ as if you’ve been entombed in an Emily Dickinson poem about eternity, or locked into a time-bending SF film. Poems and films, however, come to an end, whereas this is your new ongoing reality. Autism is a lifelong condition."

Thus autism is, essentially, stimulus overload and the inability to focus. Just think about the implications for creating sci-fi, sentient robots. Without this mysterious, but crucial 'editor' to filter out, but yet continuously monitor unnecessary stimuli in the background, they would be autistic.

Facial recognition software performs this function, but only in one specific, very narrow area. The programming implications for a sentient android would be enormous.

Thursday, 24 September 2020

Economic Dichotomy

On the one hand, the government stands accused of putting the economy before the health of the population. On the other, it's pressing ahead with a plan for the economy that could wreak 3 times the economic devastation that Covid will have - there's certainly no uptick to Brexit. Could someone please explain the logic?

The only conclusion I can draw from this dichotomy is that Boris doesn't want to go quite as far as the EU nations in terms of Covid safety, in the hope of stealing an economic advantage over the EU once Covid burns itself out next summer. Can there be any other explanation?

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Anti-social Gatherings

So we're not allowed in pubs after 10pm. Not since I was a teenager have I been in a pub at 10pm, never mind about after10pm! Even if we go out for a meal, we're usually home by 8.30 at the latest, so no great problem there.

The curfew has been criticised by some scientists as ineffective and merely driving late night drinking into less regulated venues. I suppose it could see the introduction of the old, Australian 6 o'clock swill, but at 10pm.

Large social gatherings with a total lack of distancing seem to be the main vector, which appears logical; parties, family gatherings, protests where protesters are confined, crowded beaches. Just as well I'm not a social animal, preferring my gatherings to be small and seeking out more isolated areas for holidays. If I see a crowd in my path, I change direction immediately.

A small number of idiots complain that the precautions to prevent the spread of Covid are designed to control us and we should all be responsible for our own decisions. Yes, restrictions are designed to control us, in the same manner as traffic lights are designed to control us. Imagine travelling from A to B with no road markings or signals and everyone making their own decisions - the accident rate would skyrocket, never mind about road rage. It's OK for people to make their own decisions, providing they can recognise objective reality, which a large number seem incapable of.

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Electric Kitty


Chairman: "The cats seem to have gone off their food - even Kitty sniffs at it, licks off the jelly and buggers off."

Hay: "I always give Kitty only half a pouch. If she wants more, she simply looks at you - or attacks you."

I'm thinking of getting a couple of electric blankets for the motorhome. I note that you can get 12v blankets, but are they less power efficient than 240v blankets?

volts x amps = watts.

Blankets are generally 60W, so 60/12 = 5 amps and 60/240 = 0.25 amps. Therefore I'm going to get much longer on the leisure batteries from a 240v supplied blanket than a 12v one, which seems counterintuitive. OK, the inverter itself draws amps while operating, but the calculation unequivocally shows a 240v one will last 12 times longer on any battery than a 12v one.

Assuming 80% efficiency on 2 x 110Ah batteries, 0.25A gives 704 hours of use. Seems rather a lot, unless I've made some fundamental mistake around resistance.

However, the blankets would only be on for a short time before going to bed, just to drive off any damp from a winter's evening, not all night.

Monday, 21 September 2020

The New Luddites

I have come across a strain of Ludditry within the family. When I bought the rotavator there were looks of consternation at this allegedly, new-fangled technology; technology which is thousands of years old, albeit mine is petrol driven. 

There's a dedication here (meaning Hayley and her sister) to the 'No-Dig' method of cultivation, which is fine if you have a flat patch of land and a couple of raised beds on which to practice your 'No-Dig' religious cult. If you have excavated a huge pond and the spoil has been piled around the edges, comprising clods of clay and turf, then 'No-Dig' is going to result in an area of 'Do Nothing' scrub that's impenetrable to a mower, let alone plantings. The No-Dig Taliban won't even touch it, regardless of the promises made. My plan is industrial in scale, with enough 'taters to keep us self-sufficient. You ain't going to do that with carboard and tiny raised beds.

The ride-on mower is tolerated because I'm the only bugger who ever mows the lawn. Granted, Hayley mows a postage stamp around the house with an electric mower, but it wouldn't make a dent in the rest of the garden. After having transformed the field into a verdant patch some 6 years ago, using said ride-on mower (actually, a prior one), I stupidly acquiesced to leaving some patches unmown - for the sake of 'bio-diversity'. These patches have grown in area and now comprise the majority of the land. I wouldn't mind, but outside of our boundary is a bloody huge common that's only cut once a year.

We've got acres of bio-diversity just a stone's throw away - we don't damned well need any more. I want a garden to enjoy, with a few flowers and veggies that don't take up half a year to manage because I eschew labour saving machinery.

Yesterday I tackled the pond spoil, which had become overgrown with weeds and stuff, making a good fist of getting a decent tilth and grading it such that the mower can at least get up it.

Pleased with the result, I wanted an area where I could use modern technology to grow my own 'taters. Well, you'd think I'd asked for all wildlife to be decimated.

I was finally granted a play area - but look at it! It's the worst patch on the whole damned property. It's the last remaining residue from the spoil produced by digging out the cabin foundations and is almost 100% clay. I'm a refugee in my own bloody garden.

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Sixes and Sevens for Youth

Yesterday we were meant to be going to see my younger daughter in Bristol. It suddenly struck me in the morning that she has a partner and 4 children, meaning that if Hay and I turned up we'd be a group of 8 - two in excess of the Rule of 6. We cancelled, which was a pity, as I'd already made a pot of pulled pork and crackling.

I'm going off a lot of TV programmes. The One Show used to be quite interesting, but they now have presenters I've never heard of and guests who seem about 12, having their 5 minutes of fame and talking about shit I'm not even vaguely interested in. TV has gone all 'youth culture'. I long for the days of Wogan interviewing interesting people.

I think I'll become a youth culture influencer...

What passes for news these days isn't much better. A whole section of Points West the other day was taken up by a report on the funeral of 4 lads from Calne who had died in a car accident. They'd been in a car at 3am and had ploughed into a house when the driver lost control. Everyone was eulogising the boys, whereas they - or the driver, who must have been speeding - could easily have killed someone in the house the car partially demolished. I don't think much eulogising would have taken place had that happened. Their death was news; their funeral, while tragic for the families, wasn't. Is that harsh of me?

Covid. Cases are ramping up, but the massive increase in testing is highlighting more cases than would have appeared without it, so it's not an accurate measure of what has happened, but a measure of now, which shouldn't be compared with the period up to lockdown. Case numbers in the run up to lockdown were, in all probability, far worse than reported. This seems to be shown in the deaths vs cases. Deaths are currently low as a percentage of cases, but there's no logical reason for this, unless cases pre-lockdown were far higher, which would bring the percentage down to current levels. The death figure is what we need to look at, not cases.

Saturday, 19 September 2020

Blood in the Streets

There is not a shred of evidence that Brexit will be good for the UK - not a single, credible economic forecast gives an uptick. 

The much-vaunted Japan trade deal is, on current estimates, no better for the UK than what we would have gained under the EU-Japan deal; the Japan deal actually puts greater restrictions on state aid than the EU is asking for, which undermines the UK's position with Brussels; an American deal is unlikely if Boris impacts the GFA negatively in any way. 

At the very best, Brexit is a hope that's supported by nothing more than vapourware coming from those pushing for it and who stand to make a killing from the fallout of economic mayhem.

It's an indisputable fact that seismic shifts in an economy produce opportunities to make a bundle for those with a bit of dosh stashed away. Ask yourself why it is predominantly older people who support Brexit - they are the demographic with the least debt and, very likely, a wedge sat in the bank earning zero interest.

Yes, there is a group of people with a penchant for totalitarianism who would be happy to be forced into living in a cave, providing it meant not seeing coloured faces or having to come into contact with people for whom English is not their first language; however, they are a small and rather sad minority. The powers that are pushing for Brexit, such as Farage and the billionaire press barons, however, are harnessing the ignorance and gullibility of this vociferous minority for their own gain.

In general, the business leaders vigorously pushing for Brexit are those who own their businesses and are ruthless in their business ethics - they don't give a toss about the consequences of their actions, providing they make money. CEOs of companies with fiduciary and legal responsibilities to their shareholders are vastly against Brexit. Very rich people simply don't want their tax havens eliminated.

When all is said and done, you can't blame people for wanting to make some money; having cash in the bank means that I will probably do well from Brexit if I make some wise investments. The key difference though is that I'm not pushing for making money on the back of the misery of others. If the economy is going to crash, as it surely will, the best I and others like me can do is to invest my spare cash in order to ensure a quicker recovery by my cash providing employment somewhere in the economy.

Will Brexit, once and if we have recovered, produce a more resilient Britain? The jury is out but, if you're rebuilding something, it generally results in an improvement in efficiency - providing your chassis is solid and you have a design in mind - but a Utopian fantasy is highly unlikely when you have a inept government that that continually undermines objective truth and has turned lying into an artform. Past governments' attempts at laying the foundations for a new industrial revolution proved pitifully inept and resulted in numerous, costly white elephants; Concorde, Blue Streak, Hinkley Point, etc.

What is highly probable is that equality, which is already low (see chart below from 2017), will take a nosedive and we will become a much more unfair society - the plutocrats will rule the roost and will be looking after their own, ethical-free interests. 

Polarisation of politics is a symptom of an unfair society and Brexit, with its consequence of increased inequality, is laying the foundation for further, lethal polarisation and possible societal unrest - even the potential for revolution. We reap what we sow.

I take great delight at perusing the Daily Express' headlines, which exist in an alternate reality where every disaster for Boris is a national triumph and every statement from Barnier is manipulated and mangled into a huge success for Brexit. What you can put money on is that every so-called triumph reported in the Express is reported very differently in all reputable newspapers and news outlets. Objective reality and the Daily Express are mutually incompatible. 

Bloomberg, on which I put a lot more credibility on financial matters than the Daily Express, or any Brexit supporting organ, is reporting that the Bank of England is considering experimenting with negative interest rates post Brexit to lure institutions away from keeping cash in the bank and making it work to stimulate the economy as a hedge against deflation. The consensus among economists is that this strategy can easily backfire with the consequences of greater unemployment and lower overall economic activity. 

I wouldn't be surprised to find that people smugglers will discover a nice trade in smuggling Brits to the continent once Boris and his cronies have had their way with the country. It will be one way of using up the excess inflatables we've garnered.

Friday, 18 September 2020

Lord Lake District

I'm a fan of Melvyn Bragg's radio 4 programme, In Our Time. but I haven't listened to it for some considerable time.

Yesterday I tuned into it while driving - it was a programme on Pericles - and thought for a minute that Bragg was away and another presenter had taken over for the week - he sounded like an old man; his voice has become reedy and raised by an octave. Just listen to the broadcast on the BBC Sounds app and see if you don't reach the same conclusion. He also sounded quite cantankerous and impatient at one stage.

I always thought Bragg was around 10 years older than me, but I looked him up on Wikipedia and discovered he is an old man now - he's 80.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Don't Play With Your Food

 We caught Kitty playing with a mouse...

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Pot, Kettle & Black

Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has said she would call the police if her neighbours acted illegally by breaking the Rule of Six. That's probably illegal only in a specific and limited way.

What would she do if the government, of which she's a member, acted in contravention of international law, specifically Article 56 of the Vienna Convention, to which her government is a signatory, regarding the denunciation of treaties.

The air around her and many in her party reeks with the stench of hypocrisy.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Six of Six

 So, according to our government's latest advice (has anyone checked whether it's legal?), we can only gather in groups of 6, unless we're at work, in which case the law of reason ceases and we're miraculously immune to C-19.

However, due to the Six Degrees of Separation heuristic, that means we can meet up with just about anyone we want, providing we connect the dots.

Monday, 14 September 2020

Bucket on a Roundabout

The authorities have been installing new cycle lanes down the road in Yate. As part of the work a major roundabout was fiddled with and a new thing - I'm not sure what to call it - was created.

An installation, an artwork, a memorial? It just looks like the workmen have left some of their equipment behind. Won't be long before passing motorists will use it for target practice and fill it with rubbish from their cars.

One is the bucket above and the other is a mechanical grab - they're meant to celebrate the area's historic involvement with limestone quarrying, but the juxtaposition of black equipment with white gravel (which is not local) is jarring and not at all aesthetically pleasing. On top of that, it was Chipping Sodbury that had the link, not Yate. One of the worst examples of civic art I've seen in a long time.

Collected the rotovator yesterday and managed to successfully smuggle it into the property, but had to fess up later in the day. Starts first time, every time and has had a recent new engine, which appears to be a Chonda - a Chinese copy of a Honda - but no less effective for that. Can't wait to use it in anger and rotovate a shed load of well rotted horse manure into the clay that passes for soil in our garden and grow some veggies in my own veg plot. 

Its main use will be to grade the spoil from the pond, and other tumps, and make it such that I can get the ride-on mower over them.

Sunday, 13 September 2020

One Man and His Butter Mountain

Hay's 84 year old dad lives on his own next door for 5 days of the week. On 2 days his girlfriend comes round, or he goes and stays at her house. However, from his butter mountain you'd think a family of 10 was living in his house.

He's obviously expecting a war and has stocked up. Pensioner, eh?

I'm still at the stage where it's tools that are stockpiled. I hope to be taking possession of a 2nd hand rotovator later this morning. I must get round to building that garage...

Saturday, 12 September 2020

Battletoaster Galactica

 We've only just discovered the most recent series of Battlestar Galactica, which first aired in 2004, and we're binge watching it on iPlayer.

I was struck by a quote on the episode we watched last night - "There's a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state. The other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people." That quote comes from Battlestar Galactica's Commander Adama. Apparently it is a very popular quote, but I've never heard it before.

I particularly like the manner in which technology of today and yesteryear appears in what's meant to be a science fiction future, but which actually takes place thousands of years in our past; the use of wired telephones and, in one scene, a Dualit toaster.

I used to have a 4 slice Dualit, which I loved, but Hay wasn't that keen on it and sold it. It's rather a pity, as I spotted a Dualit toaster converted into a lamp (below). Given my penchant for upcycling, that would have been a perfect kitchen lamp.

Friday, 11 September 2020


I bought two books on foraging, the intent being to go away for a weekend in the van and not take any food, existing entirely on foraged produce. The books are The Forager's Calendar and Wild Food. 

Reading through them I was somewhat put off by just about every entry in The Forager's Calendar containing the words 'not to be confused with' or 'looks very similar to', with the highlighted confusion and whatever it looks like being something very poisonous and likely to kill you stone dead instantly or have you frothing at the mouth in agony.

Wild Food makes no such distinction and merely presents recipes containing what's mentioned in The Forager's Calendar and is thus the more dangerous book.

The plants, seaweeds and fungi that are unmistakeable seem to rather insipid, plain or just hideously bitter. They generally are not the kind of things that can sustain you for long - more like ingredients to flavour proper food, sauces to go over proper food, or infusions to make a horrible tea. You certainly won't get fat on foraged food and it seems necessary to add some recent roadkill just to survive.  

I think I'll shelve the idea of a foraging weekend and we'll take a few bags of real nosh.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Cast Offs

The Beaumatic Royal Chiantishire cooker I prevented from ending up at the recycling centre has come up a treat. All the baked on gunge has been removed and it had a good go with the jet wash.

I've been doing the renovation at work, as that's where the necessary equipment is located. It came for the time to test it yesterday and I was in a quandary as to where to connect it, as a 20A supply is required. I spoke with our tame electrician who told me that, providing I tested only one element at a time, a standard 15A supply would do the trick.

I promptly obtained a plug from my shed and got to work connecting it up. The small oven lit up for a few seconds, but then the showroom fuse tripped. "Ah," thinks I, "I wonder what fuse is in the plug? Of course, it was a totally inadequate 3A fuse. Managed to get a 13A fuse - still nothing. Water damage? It couldn't be - it had a week to dry out.

I then downloaded the manual and discovered it had to be put into manual mode, which I did, and - hey presto - it worked. A remaining problem is that the bezel with operating icons around the oven knobs has lots its icons - they'd been rubbed off with time - which makes it a bit of a mystery as to what setting it's on. Found the Beaumatic website and sent off an enquiry about replacement bezels. It would be my luck to find they've been discontinued.

I stove enamelled all the hob blackwork and needed to bake it at 220 degrees for 20 minutes to stove, but the 3 large pan supports were too big for our oven. However, my sister-in-law is a ceramicist and she put the items in her kiln. I told her that the sourdough programme should be OK.

My good friend and work colleague, Mike, with whom I collected the oven, is moving house today and asked whether I wanted a workbench he has no use for.

Naturally, being the magpie that I am, I said yes. Now I just need to build a garage around it...

It was our wedding anniversary yesterday - Hay and I have been married for 4 years. My God, she's a lucky woman. She's taking me out to dinner on Friday night to thank me...

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

The Problem With Carpet

Those who know me are aware than as a retirement job, and to keep me busy, I work in a 2nd hand car showroom. Since lockdown I was made redundant, but went self-employed and now work as a car valeter for my former employer, jokingly using the name Scratch and Stain (with hindsight I should have used Scratch, Smear and Stain), and have picked up a lot of information on dirty cars and how to clean them from watching the companies we used to use before lockdown.

I've also found some novel uses for some of the products used to clean cars - such as wheel cleaner concentrate being great for cleaning ovens and baked on food, and Traffic Film Remover being perfect for cleaning Cotswold stone floors.

I liberally spray Traffic Film Removed on a car's engine compartment, start said car, attack it with a jet wash and then spray the entire engine compartment with a product called Finish, is actually meant for spraying on plastic interiors. Finish dries to a brilliant shine on all plastic parts in the warm engine compartment and there's not an engine compartment that has defeated me - all the cars that leave my care look like the engine is brand new.

Some cars come into our supply chain in a truly disgusting condition with all manner of hideous detritus stuck in the carpets and the seats looking as if a chimps' tea party had been conducted on them. The most serious cases require a jet wash to be used inside the car, which is pretty drastic, but it can be done, so long as you're careful.

The best carpet I've cleaned was on a Jaguar XF, which was completely covered in long, white dog hairs and yet came up a treat with just a quick vacuum. Jaguar's secret is to use quality carpet. My secret is to use a 3,000 watt, industrial vacuum cleaner, which is actually 3 vacuum cleaners in a Dalek.

I do believe some car manufacturers get their carpet suppliers to send them the cheapest, nastiest carpet imaginable. Some, I'm certain say to their suppliers; "How about cardboard? Just put a light dusting of fuzz on it to make it look like carpet."

With such carpets, no amount of vacuuming will remove the ingrained dirt and using a jet spray is lethal to said carpet but, as most car carpets are black, a tin of matt black spray paint works wonders at regaining a clean, black carpet that looks new.

The only thing that regularly does annoy me is car windows - I have yet to find a product that gets rid of the smears on the inside of windscreens, and I've tried almost everything on the market, as well as home remedies - Windowlene, vinegar, car polish, automotive glass cleaner, etc. If anyone knows of something, let me know.

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

That Tiresome Subject

So Boris is threatening to renege on the Withdrawal Agreement and has set a date of the 15th of October for shooting himself and the country in the head. Of course, this is all part of the posturing that passes for negotiation and a last ditch effort to get concessions - we shouldn't be at all surprised.

While Boris says that a no deal scenario is no bad thing, he's flying in the face of every economic forecast and no-one is fooled, least of all the EU - if it's bad for the EU, it's far, far worse for the UK. He can bluster as much as he wants, but facts are facts. The currency markets certainly think he's bluffing.

If he manages to get concessions, then all well and good, as it may temper some of the worst effects of Brexit, but the cat was out of the metaphorical bag long ago concerning the UK's negotiating strategy - Boris hopes it's still a Schrodinger's cat, but to no avail. It's all well and good making threats when in a position of strength, but making them from a position of obvious weakness is foolish, especially when the government is planning huge lorry parks all over the country.

I somehow suspect another of Boris' famous U turns is in the offing. Some people defend the U turns as recognition of mistakes, and therefore good, but when so many mistakes are made, they are an indication of incompetence.

Talking of the EU, we may complain about the French farming lobby, but France is the only country in the EU that is self-sufficient in food.

Monday, 7 September 2020

Track & Trace

Before returning home from a stay in the Otter Valley in the van, we went to a restaurant with our friends Simon and Ellie. While waiting for our orders to materialise, I started filling in a contact tracing slip, which was entirely voluntary, as no-one was checking whether patrons did indeed fill them in.

Simon pointed out that, as all payments were now being made using contactless credit/debit card payments, all that was needed to trace patrons who were at the restaurant at a certain time was for the establishment concerned to analyse all the payment records on a certain day between certain times.

There would obviously need to be a link to the banks for the contact details of the owners of the cards to be made available to the authorities responsible for contact tracing, but that doesn't seem like an insurmountable problem - unless there are GDPR issues that make it insurmountable, although I can't really see that as being an issue in a crisis situation.

Sunday, 6 September 2020


I spotted this little beauty down the road from home on Friday.

A Mercedes W113 SL Pagoda. One of the most beautiful cars Mercedes has ever produced and worth a mint- at least £70k and up to more than £130k for a perfect example.

We're currently camped out in the van in the Otter Valley and yesterday we went to Ottery St Mary to walk into Budleigh Salterton, where there's a classic car emporium.

A nice array comprising an MGB, a classic Minis, a TR4A, a Merc SL230 and am old MG TF. Photos are a bit greasy, unfortunately.

I must build a garage in order to indulge my love of rebuilding classic cars.

Saturday, 5 September 2020

Predictive Ability

I use an App called Rain Alarm to warn me of impending precipitation. You can set the radius and sensitivity of the App, which connects to the international weather radar system.

When rain is within my set radius, an alarm on my phone vibrates and my work colleague, Mike, is constantly amazed by my ability to predict rain. I feel the alarm vibrating in my pocket, look out of the window and say; "I think it's going to rain within 20 minutes," with unerring accuracy.

I keep telling him it's an old sailor's trick.

Friday, 4 September 2020

Sausage Voice

The term 'sausage fingers' is used when you're a bit cack-handed, especially when sending texts or social media messages and you get the spelling all wrong, or predictive text renders your message either incomprehensible or highly amusing.

I use voice to text quite a lot and some of the results are very strange, leading Hay to wonder what the hell I'm on about - or even on.

I've coined a new term for this when messaging Hay - 'sausage voice', or sauce void, as it appeared in one message.

Tuesday, 1 September 2020


A mate of mine offered yesterday to dispose of a cooker for a lady in Hall End and wanted me and Hay for assistance - me for muscle and Hay to apprise said cooker. 

Well, it's just as well Hay came along, as this lady had the most wonderful garden and Hay was in paroxysms of delight.

A Hobbit house, dragon sculptures (she's Welsh), willow archways, ponds - you name it. It must have cost a fortune to create and she's only lived there 8 years. She does has a gardener though.

Said cooker was an ironically named Baumatic Royal Chiantishire dual fuel job. We decided it could be cleaned up and flogged for a few hundred, so I made a start on it.

It's amazing what some wheel cleaner concentrate can do on baked-on oven grime and rubbing compound transforms stainless steel - car cleaning products are so versatile. Someone is flogging one that needs cleaning on Facebook Market for £450 and this one will be spic and span.