Log in


Ramblings on life

Recent Entries · Archive · Friends · Profile

* * *
We had the fortnightly Grocery Delivery last night.  Knock at the door, frantic ten minutes ferrying trays of groceries from the front door to the kitchen and sorting and putting away into fridge, freezer and store cupboards.  Then slice some olive bread**, and breathe, and relax!

  Except, 'There's a packet of sliced raw carrots here.'  Said H, puzzled.  'Did we order sliced carrots?'

  'Can you see me ordering sliced raw carrots?'  I replied.  'Particularly when we already have some whole carrots sat in the bottom of the fridge.'

  So we caught the delivery driver just before he departed.

  'You'd better have them,' he shrugged.  'I don't know which delivery they're from otherwise.'

  As H said, if the Driver had taken them back to the depot, they'd most likely only have been binned.  So now we have a packet, 335g, raw, sliced carrots.  Should you, Dear Reader (or, far more likely, non-Reader) not have recieved the packet of carrots you ordered, it's in our fridge.  Sorry.

  Now I know people are increasingly pushed for time these days, but I wondered how 'time poor' someone has to be to order 335g ready sliced carrots when they can buy 1Kg whole carrots for considerably less (per Kilo).  It's not as if they'd need peeling, not the 'Hollywood Star'-style carrots most supermarkets supply.  All they'd require would be chopping.  And they'd work out considerably cheaper.

  In these days of 'austerity' I know a lot of people are also 'money poor'.  Forget getting ready-sliced carrots delivered from the supermarket and nip down to the local market.  There a kilo of carrots costs considerably less than it would in the supermarket, and really doesn't take that long to buy.  No, Dear Reader, I don't know quite how much they'd cost.  I haven't had to buy any recently.  As I wrote, I already have carrots (whole ones) sat in the bottom of the fridge.

  They're now accompanied by a small packet of pre-sliced carrots.  When I shall use them waits to be seen.  Until recently it's been to warm to do much more than grate carrots into salads.  I bet the supermarket sells packets of grated carrots too.  They know where the profits are to be made!

  Mind you, yesterday was cool enough to stand in the kitchen with two gas rings going.  We had ratatouille with diced, pan-fried (to give it a bit of colour and crispiness) tofu.  It was nice.  There was enough ratatouille left over for another meal.  So I thought 'pasta sauce or soup base' and liquidised it.  That's now sat in the fridge waiting for further inspiration.  Along with a small packet of sliced, raw carrots!

  Do you ever use pre-pepared vegetables, Dear Reader?  The only ones I use are frozen peas, beans and sweetcorn.  Oh, and tinned tomatoes.  Now I'd better go divvy up the chick peas we cooked last night into single meal portions and freeze them.  We like chick peas.  I like to have some ready for use and pre-cooked, frozen is cheaper than buying them in tins.

  No, I don't skin flints.  I do try to spend wisely.  Even now there are just the two of us.  Maybe I'm preparing for when we have to try and live on pensioners' income?

  'K, off to knit some more socks, before the jumper yarn arrives.  Y'all have a good day now!

   *A carrot, of course!

  **We tend to order a loaf of olive bread each time.  When everything has been put away (and odd items delivered sorted) we'll have a couple of slices, with butter, to celebrate.
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
thoughtful thoughtful
Current Music:
Victorian Kitchen Garden Suite
* * *
I am getting knitting commissions!  A daughter of the Friend for whom I knitted a blue Mercy cardigan has asked if I would knit her a 'Weasley' sweater for Christmas.

Of course, the daughter's sweater will be bigger than this.  And maroon.  And have an 'R' on the front.

  Hmmm, look at calendar; 13 weeks until Christmas.  Look at Projects Intended As Christmas Gifts (this year) List :- slipover for S (3 weeks?), socks for various family members (most in hand/already on needles) others in planning stage - considers setting up a spreadsheet a la YarnHarlot!  Yup, reckon I can squeeze it in.  Google pattern which, of course, is on the Web, order yarn.  There, that'll give me til about Wednesday to sort a few of the current pairs of sock WIPs.

  Then another friend has asked me to knit a couple of baby jumpers for two of her grandchildren who will be giving birth next year.  Yay!  A reason to knit baby clothes!  Shan't even think of them 'til about February.  Maybe later.

  w00t! for automatic washing machines.  It's dry, breezy and sunny (currently) so I've pegged out today's lot.  A Red Admiral butterfly visited the yard as I was doing so.  Unfortunately (for the butterfly) it seemed to find nothing of interest to it.  There are a few straggling lavender blooms, one of the Calendulas is flowering nicely and there's a rose.  Hmmm, hardly a smorgasbord for visiting nectar-seeking insects.  Time to invest in some Autumn flowering plants.

  Anyhew, just finished altering The Weasley Sweater pattern* to be 'knit in the round' rather than in flat pieces and seamed.  Why have the bother of sewing seams neatly when you don't have to?  For that matter, why bother with all those unnecessary purl rows?

  I'm experimenting today.  I have a denim skirt which is gradually fading to light blue-grey, as denim does.  I came across some fabric dye the other day.  Now I'm hoping I'm not blue-ing the washing machine as I dye it in there.  I shall be washing it out with detergent and bleach, as recommended, once the rinse water runs clear.

  Hmmm, look at the time.  Perhaps I should give some of the dust notice to quit.

  Y'all have a good day now!

  *Link is to original pattern, ie: knit flat, in pieces and seamed.  Should you be interested, Dear Reader, I could always send you a copy which I've altered.  If I were you, though. I'd wait until I've knit the actual pattern, just to make sure I've not introduced major bugs!
Current Location:
as usual, dyeing
Current Mood:
creative creative
Current Music:
Hogwarts Hymn
* * *
There now, Yahoo was hacked back in July last year by 'state sponsored' hackers.  They finally admitted the fact this August, but have only now gotten around to admitting that the breach was a whole lot bigger than they'd first thought.

  1. Should you have accounts with Yahoo, Dear Reader, go change all your passwords.  I mean, that was the second thing you did when Yahoo admitted trouble back in August, wasn't it?  The first thing was probably to think, 'Yahoo?  Dur?'

  2. Was my data part of the hack(s)?

  3. Why have they only admitted breaches so long after they'd happened

  4. Why didn't Yahoo have some decent protection in place?  Yes, I know, any kind of protection will only stand up for so long against determined hackers but . . .

  5. What kind of protections have/are they putting in place now?  And will they be updating it regularly?

  6. Should I be looking for another server?  And

  7. Are other servers any better?

  8. Which 'state' is this 'sponsoring' the hacking?

  9. Ooh look, Google is setting up Deep Mind - a storage of patient data.  How secure is that?

  10. Etc ? ? ?

A security expert discusses what to do and quite how severe this breach might be.  'Change your password, and change it to a good one' - 'good' being one which has a lot of different alphanumerics and symbols and isn't obvious to guess.  Then, If you're anything like me, you'd better write it down somewhere and keep the piece of paper safe and away from your online devices.  Do not, please, keep your 'secure' password on your onlne device - either stored in the memory or written on the outside.  That is just silly!

* * *

  I don't know.  While raiding the market yesterday I noticed two people busking and two obviously homeless in doorways.  One was taking advantage of the 'safety' the daylight hours and people being around to get their head down and catch up on some sleep.   Presumbably they'd discovered that if they tried sleeping at night the police might move them on, or some booze-fuelled yobs might attack them.  Or maybe, now that September's almost over, it's getting too cold at night to sleep?  Whatever the reason, it's not right.

  We are one of the richest countries in the world.  Yet homeless people sleep on the streets and the government continues to maintain the lie that we 'don't have the money' to look after people.  'Cuts must be made' in public services.  Again and again.

  Maybe things are different now under Prime Minister May.  I look forward to hearing Philip Hammond's Autumn Budget.  Will he 'be able' to 'find' money for things like the NHS?  Will he dare raise taxes to provide such funding?  Or will he maintain the lie?  Heigh ho!

  And yes, I realise that just throwing money at various problems isn't the answer.  However funding services adequately does help!

* * *

  Meanwhile the fragile truce in Syria has been well and truly broken with fighting in and around Aleppo continuing.  As ever, it is the ordinary people still left/trapped in Aleppo who are suffering the most.  Aid still isn't really getting through.

  What also doesn't help is that America and Russia still seem to be fighting each other by proxy.  I suppose it's better, on a global scale, than them actually fighting each other, because that would mean it would only a matter of time before some eejit pushed the Nuclear Bomb button.  But it's no comfort at all to those stuck in Aleppo, or refugees around the world.

* * *

  And Finally - the Ig Nobel Prizes for this year have been awarded; one to a man who spent three days living as a goat.

  Which reminds me, what do you call a striped goat?

  Baa Humbug!

  Y'all have a good day now!
Current Location:
as usual, enjoying the sunshine
Current Mood:
cheerful cheerful
Current Music:
High on a Hill Lived a Lonely Goat Herd - Rogers & Hammerstein
* * *
Today is the Autumn Equinox - the sun crosses the equator on its way south to give the southern hemisphere its summer.  Now 'tis, to quote Keats, 'the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.'  Time to net your pond, should you have one, against leaf fall.  Among other things.

  Yesterday afternoon turned out to be so nice, after three days of low cloud cover, that I walked most of the way home from Bible Study.  Through the local cemetery - which is actually much nicer than it might sound.  The cemetery has been there and in use for well over one hundred years.  It is a green open space - rare enough in the centre of this city, the central path lined with mature lime trees and there are other mature trees among the burial plots.  There are grey squirrels which will approach to see if you're one of the people who has come to feed them peanuts; and there are goldfish in the pond at the southern end.  I reckon it's a very pleasant walk.

  Though I did find myself feeling sorry for one poor woman.  There was a polished grey granite 'edifice' edging the central path.  A monument to a beloved son, aged 21.  Mother went on to live until she was 80.  There was no mention of Father anywhere.  Further along the path was another sad-making monument.  The Father and Mother had had a large number of children (ten or so) all of whom died before their third birthday.  They also had one son who survived to manhood, just.  He died when he was 21!  Life was tough and, possibly, very short if you were a Victorian.

  Then in 1947 antibiotics came into use, mainly penicillin to start with.  Suddenly all those bacterial diseases which had been fatal, or liable to cause life-changing injuries, were cureable.  People survived.  Injuries didn't get infected, or if they did the infections could be stopped.  People no longer died of infected cuts and scratches.  Antibiotics were the new wonder drug.

  Of course, bacteria being sneaky they gradually developed immunity to first penicillin, then other antibiotics as they came into use.  What was even more worrying was the speed with which these immunities could be transferred between bacteria.  Now if you go into hospital for something, you could be sent home with some dread anti-biotic resistant infection.

  The practice of routinely adding antibiotics to animal feed to promote their growth rate has also served to promote the rise of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.  In fact now, if we are not very careful, we could be returning to a time similar to that of pre-antibiotic days.  Just think, all those nasty bacterial infections could so easily become untreatable again.

  So what are the drug companies doing?  Are they researching and developing more and better antibiotics?  Are they researching alternatives to antibiotics?  Perhaps.  But drug companies are businesses, often big businesses.  They have profit-hungry shareholders to satisfy.  Why invest considerable time and money to produce a pill which will only be effective for a few years?  When you can manufacture anti-depressants - one of the most commonly prescribed drugs these days - which people will take, in increasing numbers, for, possibly, years and years.  Of course, if a family member of the drug company bosses contracted some kind of antibiotic-resistant infection it might just concentrate their minds, but . . .

  What can we do?  Well, Dear Reader, if we get ill, don't insist that the doctor prescribe antibiotics.  If we have a seriously bad cold or flu - it's a viral infection and antibiotics are useless for fighting viruses.  And maybe we could start agitating for and buying antibiotic-free meat.

  Right, writing of buying, it's time to go raid the market - for fruit and veg.  Now, the forecast reckons it isn't going to rain.  Do those clouds agree?

  Y'all have a good day now!
Current Location:
as usual, more or less
Current Mood:
thoughtful thoughtful
Current Music:
A Gaelic Blessing - John Rutter
* * *
There now, I've finished the stocking stitch band after the first lace/beaded band on the Vanity Fair shawl.  I printed out the lace charts and, to avoid further difficulties, wrote 'start here' with arrows pointing to the appropriate squares in the charts.  This is probably necessary as in the 'lace' bit I got three-quarters of the way along a row when I realised that [(K1, W3K 4 times) 15 times] actually meant [(K1, W3K, W3K, W3K, W3K) 15 times] and not the (K1, W3K) I'd been doing so far.

  Yes, I'd read the instructions several times, looked up W3K (wrap the yarn around the needle 3 times when you're doing a Knit stitch) and had a think about what the whole line meant too.  Ah well, the tink wasn't too bad, it is sock yarn on 4mm needles after all.

  Then I got on with knitting H's work sock - currently halfway through the German Short Row heel.  Think I may've got the architecture sorted and understand what I'm doing.  Yay!  These socks aren't going to be a matching pair as the colour pattern repeat length in the Lana Grossa Meilenweit Cotton Stretch Malibu yarn is quite long, so I cast on the second sock from where the first ended.  As I shall be knitting four or five pairs of socks in this yarn, you never know, some might actually match (almost!)

  'K, non-knitting Readers might like to start here!

  This is the time of year when wasps start making nuisances of themselves.  They investigate picnics - as if the ants weren't bad enough, they raid fruit in the hedgerows and our gardens, they even come into our homes in search of sweet stuff.

   Social Wasps (Vespula germanica) building their nest.  They chew scrapings of wood and mould the resulting pulp into beautiful paper nests.

  Apparently this year there are actually far fewer wasps than usual.  The winter wasn't cold enough for them to hibernate properly, so they died off.  Then April was cold, so the expected blossoms and insects weren't there and more died.  Only now, around end of August into September, are they beginning to make their presence felt. Come to think of it, the same applies to bees.  No, Dear Reader, not the entering of houses in search of sweet stuff, the fact that there have been very few around this year.

  Now we all know what to do about prospecting wasps, don't we, Dear Reader?  We sit or stand still and let them buzz around.  They'll get fed up and move on, eventually.  If they're indoors maybe we open a window good and wide in the hope that the creature will find its way back out.  Bees can do this, flies are dead useless at it - unless the open bit is right in front of them!  If the wasp is in a room at night - open a window, turn off the light and shut the room door, preferably with you outside.  They're bright enough to find their way out.

  What we do not do is panic, flap about or attempt to swat the wasp*.  Apparently when attacked they send out a 'help me' pheromone, which calls in other wasps in the immediate area.  Do not attempt to swat a wasp, or you may well find yourself surrounded by still more wasps!

  There seems to be an outbreak of wasps in bathrooms.  This could be, I suppose, because we tend to leave bathroom windows open 'for ventilation'.  Then there are all the sweet-smelling and fruity shower gels, shampoos, conditioners, etc we use.  How could a hungry wasp resist?

  If your bathroom, like ours, doesn't have a window it will have an extractor fan.  Wasps have been know to build their nests in vents.  That'll require the services of a Pest Control Officer - and no, your local council won't do it for free.  Still, some time over the next few weeks it will, we hope, get colder and the wasps will die off from natural causes.  Should you have had them nesting in a vent this year, worry not.  The queen wasp will go looking for somewhere else to make her nest next year.

  Now there're only the Daddy Long Legs's (Crane Flies) to deal with!

Though they tend to be trouble only if you live near large areas of rough grassland.  People living near the local parks might be troubled by them.  We're far enough away not to get them.  See, there are advantages to living in a heavily built up area!

  Y'all have a good wasp and Daddy Long Legs free day now!

  *Yes, Dear Reader, I have been stung.  Fortunately I'm not allergic to wasp stings.  If you are, all the more reason to keep still!
Current Location:
as usual, knitting
Current Mood:
cheerful cheerful
Current Music:
The Wasps, Overture - Vaughan-Williams
* * *
* * *
It's cooler, w00t!  Thing is, it's so much cooler.  Like around 17°C, and I'm still, kinda, dressed for above 20°C.  I know, I know, go get a cardigan.

  Then it's also dampish outside, and I've towels to dry.  They're currently hung around the dehumidifier.  After all, if the rose bush is still covered in raindrops and there really isn't much in the way of a breeze, how well are the towels going to dry out on the line?

  To think that only last Tuesday the sun was shining so much temperatures were up in the low-to-mid-thirties!

  Yesterday evening I looked at the three pairs of socks I currently have on the go*, and thought 'Nah!'  Then dug out some different yarn, wound it into a ball, found the pattern and cast on for Anniken Allis's Vanity Fair.  This is 'a beautiful one skein shawl which combines some simple lace with crossed elongated stitches and beads for a fun to knit and wearable accessory.'  To quote Ms Annis.

  I bought a kit - 100g sock yarn in light grey, plus tube of glass beads in turquoise.  Then I looked at the light grey yarn, the turquoise beads and the pattern (I'd post a pic but they're all copyrighted, so you'll just have to check out the link, Dear Reader.)  And I thought.

  Then I saw that The Knitting Goddess had some sock yarn in a light grey/darker grey/turquoise colourway with flecks, Freckles, so I nabbed it.  The plan, so far, is to knit the stocking stitch in Freckles and (at least some of the) lace bands in the grey, with the turquoise beads.  Sound good?

  One thing I do know is that it's a simpler knit that Iris was - I still have to block that.  Here's hoping I manage to remember the crek waiter reed nittin chartz.  Before I start trying to knit from them!

  And while I'm on the odd spellings - H showed me a Lolcat last night: -

  Top caption - I'm reachin' to find my nip mousie

  Picture of kitten reaching down the side of sofa cushions.  Kitten has very wide-eyed expression.

  Bottom caption - Somethin's reachin' right back!

  Y'all have a good day now!

  *That'll be one pair for 'afternoon knitting' when I need to concentrate, on second sock.  One where I'm working my way up the leg of the first sock, approaching a bit which will need concentration and I might adapt.  And one, a second cotton-mix sock for H for everyday wear - I really must get the pair done!  The other two pairs are for BiL.  They are all 'long-footed' socks, though not as long they'd be if I was knitting them for S.  Ho hum!  It's not the dreaded 'Second Sock Syndrome'.  More like 'too much of the same'.  I shall work on them sometime today.  Probably.
Current Location:
as usual, knitting, possibly socks!
Current Mood:
creative creative
* * *
There are sandbanks in the Solent.  These provide a hazard to passing shipping.  Also, being sand banks, they tend to change shape over time.  One particularly large sand bank, the Bramble bank, appears 'above' water for a short while at very low tides every month.  Yesterday it 'surfaced', more or less, for around fifty minutes.  In this time two teams, from the Royal Southern Yacht Club from Hamble and the Island Sailing Club (from Cowes) played their annual cricket match - pictures here.

  As you can see, 'above sea level' was a bit questionable at times, parts of Bramble bank were still ankle deep in sea water even during the 'driest' part of the fifty minute match.  However a great time was had by players and spectators alike.  The Island Sailing Club won by 80 runs to 79, and everybody promptly got back into their boats and sailed away as the tide came back in and returned Bramble bank to a 'mere' shipping hazard.

  Come to think of it, there are three sea forts in the eastern end of the Solent - Horse Sand, Spit Bank and Nomansland.  Each year, at a particularly low tide in the summer, it becomes possible to walk out to one of the forts from somewhere nearby on the Isle of Wight!  It's a brisk walk there and back and people are advised not to hang around en route.  One of D's friends and her mum did it one year.
I know, I know,
  'Ils sont fou, ces Anglais!'

  As a further example of this folly, Offwat - the Regulator for water provision services, has suggested that retail water supply market be 'opened up to more competition'.  This probably means that the price of water will end up going up!  That's the usual result of 'competition'  in the UK when 'markets' are 'opened up'.  Supply companies proliferate for a while, before being swallowed up by a few megacorporations; most of which have 'interests' in a whole range of other things.  Thus the supply of particular 'goods' or 'services' are at the mercy of profit-hungry shareholders and annual dividend paid to shareholders becomes more 'important' (to the company) than customer satisfaction.

  Now I know that might sound cynical, but I've seen it happen with gas supply, electricity supply, bus services and rail services.  Heck, if you've been even vaguely following the debacle that Southern Railway has become, Dear Reader, you'll know what I mean.

  Last week two announcements were made.  One by Southern Railway saying that they'd made (maybe) £20 million profit this year.  The government also announce that it was 'investing' in Southern Railway to the tune of a very substantial amount to help it get its act together.  I don't know about you, Dear Reader, but something is definitely not right here.

  I am old enough to remember the debates, and strikes, over whether diesel trains 'needed' two men in the drivers cabin.  In the days of steam trains it was obvious; you needed a Driver to drive the train and a Fireman to shovel coal into the firebox to keep the steam coming.

  The various railway unions, particularly ASLEF, the firemen's union, tried to argue that it was safety critical to have two men in the drivers cab.  In the end the gave in and now driver's cabs have only the driver.

  What Southern Railway is trying to do is to say that, now their trains have electric doors etc, a Guard on a train isn't necessary.  Driver only operated trains are perfectly safe.

  Yes, well.  I'm inclined to think that having a Guard on a train is a Good Idea.  The Driver can concentrate on driving - which s/he needs to do, and the Guard can concentrate on the passengers.  Do they all have the correct tickets?  Do they know where to change trains?  Are they behaving themselves?  Are they all clear of the doors before said doors are shut?  For that matter, does a wheelchair user need help with a ramp?

  Yes, Dear Reader, Station Staff could help with the ramp thing.  But the tendency is for more and more unmanned railway stations - people can buy tickets online/with an app/at the machine outside.  Never mind the fact that experienced station staff can advise on the best routes for journeys and the best priced tickets.  And we're back to the whole 'profit-driven, shareholder answerable' thing of modern businesses again.

  Station staff cost money - both in wages and in selling lower priced tickets to people who otherwise wouldn't have found them themselves.  Guards on trains cost money - in wages; never mind the money they save train companies by catching people travelling without tickets or defusing potential 'situations'.  For that matter, if someone is taken ill on a train, a Guard can contact the next station, arrange for the train to be met by an ambulance, and ask the Driver to get there as fast as he safely can.  I've seen that happen.  I think the person who suffered a heart attack on the train survived as a result.

  But then, I suppose the profit-hungry company shareholders don't travel by train themselves.  Otherwise they might be a tad more sympathetic to those having to drive/guard their trains, and their longsuffering passengers.

  Yes, I know, companies have always been about profit.  Time was though when they were generally smaller and also about providing goods or services for their customers.  Heck, some of them even cared for their workers.  Now that's something which could really do with returning.

  And Finally - it's apparently 'Talk Like a Pirate Day'.

  Psst!  Want a copy of the latest blockbuster film?  Arrr!

  Here's hoping y'all have a good day.  Specially if you have to travel by, or work on,Southern Railway trains!
Current Location:
as usual, enjoying the cooler weather
Current Mood:
thoughtful thoughtful
Current Music:
The Water Music - Handel
* * *
Ooh look, they're going to double the penalties imposed on those who use their mobile phones while driving!  This after a cyclist was killed the other day by a van driver who was texting, going at 65mph, on a clear road.

  The van driver was a repeat offender, he'd been caught eight times in the past.  That's caught eight times.  Out of goodness knows how many times.  Clearly he hadn't learned from whatever had been done as a result.

  From what I've seen, it's not so much the size of the penalties, it's that the law isn't enforced.  I see people all the time driving with one hand and using a phone or texting with the other.  When I had a camera in my mobile phone I would consider snapping the offender and their registration plate and sending pictures to the police for them to pursue.

  It would appear that the main problem is not that we don't have laws, or adequate penalties, but that far too many people think that they are above those laws and can ignore them with impunity.  Then there's the 'everybody does it' thing.  As I used to tell the children, when they were small, 'Just because everybody does something doesn't mean that you also should do it.  Or that it is right!"

  The thing is, Dear Reader, also Dear Anyone Who Routinely Ignores Laws, those very laws have been put in place to protect people.  Motor vehicles are potential killing machines.  You need to exercise constant care and vigilance while driving.  It's a pity so many people are so accustomed to driving that they forget this.

  Meanwhile it is around 15°C outside today, which has come as rather a cold shock after the temperatures earlier this week - 34°C in Gravesend on Tuesday.  Boy are we glad we don't live in Gravesend.  For several reasons, not just the record high temperatures they seem to experience.

  H went out to get some new shoes wearing his jacket zipped up.  I'm seriously considering going upstairs to get my cardigan.  Yesterday I headed off to raid the market wearing a jacket - well, it was trying to rain at the time.  The jacket ended up in the shopping trolley about half-way through the expedition as the sun came out.  It's not forecast to come out here today, so I suppose we'll have to make do with cardigans and jackets.  Heck, we'll even have to dig around to find them, we've not needed such things for so long!

  But why should we be surprised, it's gone half-past September.  The days are currently shortening by nearly four minutes each day.  Autumn Equinox falls next Thursday.

  Did you catch any of the penumbral eclipse last night, Dear Reader?  I had a look shortly after it was due to start, but it was cladhs in between all the way.  The next time I remembered to look it was well after the eclipse was over.  The sky was clear and the moon shining brightly!  Ah well, there will be other eclipses in February and August next year.  Then there will be a couple of total lunar eclipses in July 2018 and January 2019.  Maybe the skies will be clear for one of them!

  So, Dear Reader, if you're driving today, take extra care.  If you're cycling or walking, watch out for drivers using mobile phones, and maybe report them!

  Y'all have a good day now!
Current Location:
as usual, knitting
Current Mood:
thoughtful thoughtful
* * *
So the government has decided to build another nuclear reactor electricity generating station at Hinkley Point.  £18 billion pounds worth of investment (at today's prices), built largely by the Chinese and French.  So much for 'securing our energy'!

  Apparently 'significant new safeguards' have been imposed - mainly to stop EDF (the French energy company involved in the building) selling off its share without telling the government first.

  What they don't tell us is that Hinkley C is a new design of Pressurised Water Reactor.  So new, in fact, that it's practically a prototype.  What 'significant new safeguards' have been imposed here are also not mentioned.  Apparently the default state of a lot of PWRs is 'nuclear bomb'!

  It's not as if Hinkley Point was stuck somewhere miles and miles away from any centres of population either.  It's on the south side of the Severn Estuary, handy for Bridgwater, Taunton, Cardiff, Exeter and Bristol; all major centres of population.  Come to think of it, it's also extremely handy for Hinkley A and B, more nuclear power stations.

  The announcement was made in parliament yesterday saying that Hinkley C would be a source of 'safe, clean electricity'.  Hmmm, see points about PWRs and location above.  Also nuclear power stations aren't exactly known for keeping all radioactivity inside, even during routine operation.  I wonder what the background radiation levels are in the area now; because they'll only be rising when station C comes online.  Doesn't sound that 'clean' or 'safe' to me.

  OK, so we have to stop using coal or even gas to generate electricity.  That's a no-brainer.  There's already too much carbon-dioxide being pumped into the atomosphere.  We don't need more.  Even the proposed new 'carbon capture' coal fired stations won't really solve the problem.

  We are investing in renewables, say the government, but we have to have something for when the wind isn't blowing and the sun doesn't shine (which is quite often here!)  Fair enough, but the tides still ebb and flow, the rivers still run.  What about hydro-generation schemes?  Preferably without flooding whole valleys to produce sufficient heads of water, or covering estuaries essential for overwintering birds.  And what about investing in electricity storage technology?  Electricity production techniques may have come on by leaps and bounds but electricity storage, eg: batteries, is still barely out of the stone age!

  What they also didn't tell us is that the building of Hinkley C by the Chinese is part of a greater project to build another nuclear power station at Sizewell in Suffolk and, possibly, another at Bradwell in Essex.  There may be even more intended in the pipeline.

  OK, so Hinkley C will provide 'up to 7% of our electricity needs' when it's up and running.  How, I wonder, did they come by that 7% figure?  Is that 7% of our energy needs as of 2016 or earlier.  Or is it 7% of what are projected to be our energy needs when it finally comes 'on line'; cos they'll have probably increased by then and 7% will be a generous overestimate.

  One more thing.  When the new station is producing, the government is contracted to pay EDF £92.50 per megawatt generated.  This will fall to £89.50 if the new Sizewell reactor is also built.  Prices!  £92.50 is way over the current cost of producing a megawatt of electricity.  Even £89.50 is more than twice the present cost.  That's at 2015 prices.  By the time the stations come on line it'll be more.  For how long we'd be paying these grossly inflated prices was not specified.  Either way it's estimated that it'll put the average household electricity bill up by around £10 (present prices.)

  I can see Britain (that's us) paying through the nose for its electricity for many years to come - financially and environmentally (even if the PWR works properly.)  Time to invest in the LED Low Energy lightbulbs and work out how to use less electricity even more than ever.  And time to encourage our politicians to take a serious look at real 'alternative' methods of electricity generation and power storage.

  Come to think of it, maybe it's time to start seriously looking into capturing even fractions of the power of lightning strikes.  After all, it's estimated that the power in even single strikes could run whole cities.  We've had a lot of thunder storms in the past 24 hours.  They've dumped a lot of rain (35mm in an hour, anyone?)  There's been flash flooding.  Wayhay!  Thankfully not here though.  Here, so far, it's just damp.

  Should there be clear skies tonight over the UK, it might well be worth having a look at the moon. There is a Penumbral eclipse tonight.  Maximum eclipse around 19:54 BST (about five to eight this evening.  Total period of eclipse around 7:20 - 9:55pm BST)  Should the skies be clear it'll be worth having a look.  Nice, for once, to have a lunar eclipse at a reasonable time of evening too.  The last, total, eclipse was in the wee, small hours of the night.  I'd had to get up to visit the loo, so thought, being awake anyway, that I'd have a look.  Glad I did.

  Y'all have a good day now!

  *To be said in an 'Inspector Clouseau' accent.
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
worried worried
Current Music:
Claire de Lune - Debussy
* * *
Various gardening websites and programmes are saying things like,

  'It's time to plant prepared hyacinth bulbs so that they're in flower for Christmas.'

  Yes, well, I REFUSE to consider Christmas in September - I've a month full of female family birthdays in October to prepare for!  Apart from that, I don't want hyacinths in bloom for Christmas.  There's too much else going on.  Too many other smells to enjoy.  The time I do want hyacinths in bloom during the winter is through January and February.  So excuse me if I pass on planting prepared hyacinth bulbs now and do so in October or November - when they'll be on Sale at Garden Centres and Nurseries anyway!

  Should you be less than keen on the scent of hyacinths, Dear Reader, you could always try Paperwhite Narcissi.  Again, I would advise planting them in October/November, in pots*, for indoor flowers in January/February.  They have a more spicy scent**.  H reckons it tickles his nose.

* * *
The other day Friend S said that there were lunchtime organ recitals on at the Cathedral (St Thomas's, we have two cathedrals) with 'light refreshments'.  'Would I be interested?'  She asked.

  Would I?

  So today we found somewhere to park for free and went.  'Light refreshments' turned out to be home made sarnies, crisps, biscuits and coffee or water, at reasonable prices.  Very nice.

  The organist recitalling (?word?) was Dr David Price, St Thom's regular organist.  He's been around a bit and he's good.

  The recital programme:

  • Fantasia in G BWV 572                             J S Bach  (1685 - 1750)

  • Prelude and Air                                          Daniel Purcell (Henry Purcell's younger bro) (1664 -1717)

  • Spirit of Elgar                                             Arthur Willis (b. 1926)

  • Hymn to the Fallen (from Saving Private Ryan)    John Williams (b. 1932)

  • Festival Toccata                                         Percy Fletcher (1879 - 1932)

  I knew Hymn to the Fallen, though I think it sounds better played by an orchestra, the other pieces were new to me.  I particularly enjoyed the start of the Bach Fantasia - cascades of notes tinkling down from the organ loft.  The Festival Toccata was fun too.

  We enjoyed our lunch, enjoyed the music, then had to get back as Friend S's daughter would be back from school.  Maybe we'll go again?  For that matter, I could go myself, but, unless I dig out my bicycle, it's two buses.

  And the really good news is that D finally got round to emailing us!  She's fine, in the UK, studying hard and hoping to do some Care work.  So that's all good to know.

  Y'all have a good day now!

    *As with hyacinths, you can also 'plant' them in vessels containing only water, like hyacinth glasses or on top of stones/glass nuggets.  Keep the water topped up and you can watch the roots develop too.

  ** Which is somewhat less overpowering than hyacinths.  Though that could be more to do with the size of our rooms!
Current Location:
as usual, now.
Current Mood:
cheerful cheerful
Current Music:
Festival Toccata - Percy Fletcher
* * *
* * *