Life, The Universe and Small Things all covered in one friendly blog.
Remember DON'T PANIC! .

27 February, 2009

A Very Expensive Plant Tray

I went into a DIY store the other morning, I was looking for a specific kind of plant tray for the new greenhouse, when I spotted a sign "End of range clearance ", it was not so much the sign as the items that were on the display that caught my attention.

Unless you have been looking for one then a shower curtain track may not sound all that exciting. Note that I say track not rail here because that is important. I needed a track because it allows the curtain to go all the way around the bath and have additional supports on the ceiling, a pole doesn't allow this.

The curtain tracks are end of range clearance for just under ten pounds, about one Euro for anyone reading from mainland Europe. I looked at the curtain tracks and although they seemed to be an excellent deal to tell the truth they also looked a bit flimsy and being the stores own brand I began to see why they were going for so little.

This is where I made a big mistake. Instead of remembering that I was there to buy a plant tray I headed for the bathroom section to see if they had other curtain tracks. They had one made by a well know manufacturer but it was £45. I had been wanting to replace the inadequate short rail for some time and not seen the tracks so decided to get one.

The shower track takes two shower curtains so I had to buy those and then I though, well if I am going to put the curtain around the bath then it will allow us to have a more powerful shower in the bathroom. We have a good pumped shower in the en-suite so I looked and yes the store sold them. Now I had the curtain track, two shower curtains and the shower pump, I needed a few electrical bits and bobs to wire it all up (pull cord, RCD, junction box etc) then off to the till.

Over £200 of bits there was not the end of it, after removing the old shower rail there were the holes in the ceiling to fill so the ceiling needed painting, (£18) now the walls looked dirty so they needed painting too, the old extractor fan that didn't work properly might as well be replaced (£15).

So my trip to the DIY store had cost me rather more than anticipated, oh and I still need to find the plant tray.

19 February, 2009

Jacqui Smith, Expenses Fiddle

You have to wonder what expenses require you to claim £500 a week for a second home especially when you say you live most of the time with your sister. Still who are we to question Gordon's Government, always right and always above the law.
It is interesting that Jacqui Smith "got advice on the matter" from someone, an M.P. also on the fiddle no doubt, isn't that a bit like asking Reggi Cray if its ok to nick sweets from Tesco.

I have been sent a transcript of a phone call between Jacqui Smith and Gordon Brown on the matter of this £100,000 of expenses:-

Smith. - Hello, Gordon its the Home Secretary.

Brown. - Hello.

Smith - I am being accused of fiddling my expenses and thought I should speak to you about it.

Brown - OK.

Alistair Darling - Who is it?

Brown. - (hand over phone) its some secretary, caught fidding with someone.

Smith - I heard that, its your Home Secretary, Jacqui, its not fiddling with someone, I'm fiddling my expenses, I mean accused of.

Brown - Oh Jacqui, right yes, sorry Darling and me are just playing the new Monopoly, have you played it yet, its rather good. I have just bought the Royal Bank of Scotland for £100 billion and built a hotel on its HQ.

Darling - An Hotel, its an Hotel not A, and its not monopoly Prime Minister, I told you before this is real money.

Brown - Well its still jolly good fun.

Smith - ach hum, excuse me Gordon shall I call back, you seem distracted and this is rather important.

Brown - No no, go on, so you want to resign then?

Smith - NO! I don't want to resign I want your advice.

Brown - Well don't worry about it, this is New Labour we don't have to stick to any rules.

Smith - OK, but the press have got hold of this and it could cause a bit of a stink.

Brown - (hand over the phone to Darling) Do you want to be Home Secretary?

Darling - No I don't! I am already Chancellor.

Brown - Oh yes, sorry I forget that isn't me too.

Smith - Ill call another time this isn't working out.

Brown - Ill get someone to call you about this, where will you be.

Smith - At home, I mean at my Sisters home which is my home really, where I live most of the time any way, it cost me well over that £500 a week to run my other house, I am never there but it still costs me money just to buy new things for it all the time.

Brown - Yes, yes goodbye (click) She is going to ruin this for everyone if we don't watch out, We must keep an eye on that woman.

The Plight of The Bumblebee

Life, the universe, and now for the small things .

There was an article in the paper a year ago about bees, it said that they are dying out. Its OK though the Minister responsible for that kind of thing said the experts are all wrong, "UK bees are just fine". Here we go again, if a Minister says its OK, we are in trouble.

At the weekend The Times magazine had much more on the plight of the bee and it makes disturbing reading:

Forget global warming, forget the polar bear struggling to stand on the last ever Foxes Glacier mint and forget all the hot air about CO2, bees must be the number one concern for us all, and right now!

If you have not seen anything before on this you will be forgiven for wondering why it is important. Bees are essential for the pollination of plants, not only flowers but many things we depend upon for food as well as bushes that sustain the hedgerows. When bees go it is not just honey that we don't see any more but apples, soft fruits and many many food crops are no longer sustainable.

There are already places in the world where bees have been wiped out and whole orchards are now pollinated by hand, requiring hundreds of people climbing trees with feathers and pots of pollen. No, I am not joking.

Once bees go so does the sustainability of the world population. Unlike CO2 and global warming this isn't something that will happen in fifty or one hundred years, this is expect to happen in eight to ten years because bees are already dying out at an alarming rate.
In as little as ten years we hit the point of no return and begin the slide into starvation.

So why don't we hear this on the news all the time, why doesn't the government put billions of pounds into rescuing the Really bad Bee Situation (RBS). I assume that there is no money in it for them, they can't have a bee tax, or bee offsetting. Instead they are happy to sit back and watch the most dangerous extinction of mankind and send out a Minister to say everything is fine.

There is some hope, a ray of good news. We can all play a part and try to save the bees. By planting bee friendly flowers in gardens or even window boxes. It might sounds a long shot but if the other option is starvation.
We have already planned a new section of our garden with plants just for bees.

A useful website for more information on saving the bee is:

13 February, 2009

New Fords Help You Crash

I am going to sound a grump in this blog, but its my blog and Ill grump if I want to.

My brother-in-law has a new car. As people do when they have a new car he wants to show if off so he came to show it to me.
I can't get excited about new cars, I have driven so many different ones and now as long as there is a wheel at each corner, something to control it by and a reasonably comfortable seat, then, yes its a car I am pleased you have one.

His new Ford car struck me as possibly the most dangerous car I have seen.
It is equipped with a hands free telephone, climate control, trip computer, entertainment system, sat nav and somewhere I think was a button to make toast.

All these "clever" functions are controlled by way of a computer screen on the dash and a series of buttons on the steering wheel; well why not, steering is so old fashioned.

To make a "hands free" call you have to take your eyes off the road and look at the screen, you then have to move your hands to the buttons on the steering wheel, putting yourself into a position difficult to properly steer, and select a screen from a menu list. Scroll down the screen to telephone, select telephone select something else and eventually you can dial your hands free call.
All this is done with your eyes off the road obviously, the last thing you want to do is to ring the wrong person so better pay attention to that computer screen. It is the same for selecting something from the entertainment system or for getting the car to just the right temperature so that when you inevitably drive under the back of a lorry the emergency services are nice and warm as they remove your body.

There was a really good reason for the law that said a driver must not be able to see a TV screen in his vehicle as he is driving but because the law referred to "cathode ray tube" and now its all LCD, the manufacturers are adding screens all over the place.

Driving standards in the UK are getting worse and with the help of manufacturers like Ford and cars with computer screens you can be sure of one thing, undertakers and the air ambulance will not be out of work in this recession.

Duvet Dilemma

We have guests stopping over in a few weeks time and in this cold winter I am concerned that they are not cold in the night. I thought I should put the winter duvet on the guest bed. The trouble is that on our main bed we have a wool duvet which is an all year one so I am a little out of touch with all this TOG rating that goes with feather bedding.

I decided the only way to solve this was to ask our guests. I thought I would share the email with you:-

Hi .
I have a strange question to ask, possibly one to refer to your wife but here is the background to the question .

I woke up very early the other morning, feeling cold, and thought crikey if I am cold whatever will your wife be in this house, see at night we turn the heating off as it makes too much noise and keeps me awake, which is strange because I was now awake because it was off and I was cold.

Anyway, I thought I must go into the loft and get the winter duvet down to air for the guest room for when you are over, I like to plan ahead, infact I already have the potatoes peeled, the chicken in the marinade on the worktop and the wine open to breathe for when your over.

I digress.

Yesterday I got the duvet down and remembered it is one of those you have two bits and you add them together to make the winter weight, they are not as easy as it sounds there is only one correct way that they will fit and I think it was 23 ways that they don't.

I am getting near to the question here so stick with it :-)

I added the 9 tog to the already on 4.5 tog so there is now a 13.5 tog duvet on the guest bed. I put it into a duvet cover, eventually, and as I put it on the bed thought crikey this weighs a ton do people really manage to sleep under this much duvet.

So, here is the question, probably for your wife, what tog rating is your duvet? Is 13.5 too much would you prefer a 9 tog in an unheated bedroom or should I put the 9tog and 4.5 tog in separate covers so you can decide. There is also the option of a hot water bottle, or two if I buy another one.

There is another option of course, we could leave the heating on for one night, it will probably keep all of us awake, but at least we will be warm :-)

I am sat in the guest room surrounded by bedding awaiting your reply.

Hope your well.

08 February, 2009

Things Parents say

I was reading an article in the paper the other afternoon about a married woman of 40 who's parents are still trying to control her life.
I started thinking of some of the things that are said, when your growing up.

"Take your elbows off the table, its bad manners".
Why? No its not. What better place is there to put elbows, chairs are designed to be at the right height for the table so elbows rest comfortably there. "Bad manners" are made up by people who want to think they are something better than they actually are.

"Don't take the last one".
Referring to anything that had been put out for eating. What the jolly heck was that all about. Someone has to take the last one, why not me.

"Oh your too sensitive".
Explain that if you can. Is there a level of sensitive that is just right, is anyone ever told "your just not sensitive enough". Sensitive to what. Because one person is not annoyed or upset by something, does it logically follow that everyone should feel the same.

"Smile for heavens sake".
Look at people as you go about your day. How many of them are actually smiling. The people who walk down the street with a broad smile on their faces for no reason are usually the mad ones.

"If your don't stop crying Ill give you something to cry about" SLAP!
I heard this one in a shop the other day, with the child already screaming the place down the slap did as you would expect, ramped up the scream by another 5 decibels.

I could go on with these but if I don't go and make the Sunday dinner I will get sent to my room until I learn how to behave.
Fat change of that happening at my age though.

06 February, 2009

Points from the news.

The government is breathing a sigh or relief because February has hit the country with snow, snow and more snow. At last there is something taking the headlines that Gordon isn't responsible for.

Hold that thought. Was there ever a time before when after just 3 days of bad weather the local council said "sorry we are out of road grit and the Highways Agency won't give us any".

The Labour Government set up the Highways Agency in 2000, another level of bureaucracy, replacing motorway police with Highway Agency Traffic plonkers and stores of road salt with billion pound computers to predict the next traffic jam.

Gordon Brown has been part of the country trashing government since before 2000 so by association, or maybe just because I hate him more than words can say, he must be indirectly responsible for the balls up on our ice covered roads.

Moving quickly on, or slowly if your path is still iced over, I have to go crazy about the Royal Bank of Scotland. Here is a bank that was run so badly that the tax payers have given it billions of pounds so it doesn't go bust. And now they are arguing that they have to pay their incompetent oafs of managers big bonuses because "they expect it".

They argue that "if we don't pay bonuses and high salaries we aren't able to attract the right staff". Let me get this right, the staff that crashed the bank are the ones you want to retain are they. For ........ sake!

Ayone with a RBS account should get their money out now, put it under a pillow, in a box in the garden or anywhere, just don't leave it with RBS who think it is only there to pay their salaries.

And breathe, think calm thoughts, relax. It's OK nurse Ill be fine just keep me away from the news papers for a while.

One Eyed Scottish Idiot

I was in the gym when I heard Jeremy Clarkson on the news and I chuckled. Never one to keep his thoughts to himself he referred to Gordon Brown as "a ones eyed Scottish idiot".

People, with nothing better to do, immediately took offence at this and the news rolled out a spokesman for the R.N.I.B. The two eyed idiot (strange for someone representing blind people) went to great length to say how awful the comment was and how blind people do amazing things and blind people are in all walks of life.

After losing the plot he said he would "like to talk to Clarkson when he returned to the country" so that they could "help Mr Clarkson understand the positive contribution people with sight loss make to society," they hoped he would agree to a meeting.
Id love to be a fly on the wall if that unlikely event took place.

Yes alright RNIB, some blind people are good people, just not the one eyed Scottish idiot we have wrecking the country. Getting David Blunket to speak on behalf of Gordon and Blind people was hardly a good move either.

Jeremy has not said anything wrong, the bloke has one eye, he is Scottish and he is an idiot, so why the outcry for him to apologise. Who knows.

I take offence on behalf of all the idiots of the country, how dare Clarkson call Brown and idiot, doesn't he know that idiots are in all walks of life and that people in top positions in the country are idiots. There are bankers who are idiots, politicians, chief police officers and even members of the house of Lords who are all idiots.

Without the contribution idiots make this country would not be what it is today.