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This is the UK website for Peter and Maureen Scargill. We live in the Northeast of England and also on occasion in Andalucia in Spain.

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Photo Editing

Pete - alteredMorning all. For those of you who like to play with photo manipulation, you may well have come across Gimp. If you haven’t, that might be because you can afford Photoshop and it’s updates and that’s fine – but if not I suggest you take a look. I suggest you go straight to the site rather than searching for gimp which could return some surprising results.

I’ve used Gimp for years and it is very powerful but updates seem to be few and far between so I was delighted this morning while perusing Google+ to come across this link for G’MIC which is trivial to install and adds a whole boatload of filters to Gimp. I did note that the 3D options killed Gimp but the rest seem fine and there are SO MANY options, enough to keep the budding artist busy for hours if not days.

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Why the NHS needs Reform

We’re constantly told about being more efficient – and minimising un-necessary use of fossil fuels, yes?

Well, with that in mind, many weeks ago – I think in September I made an appointment to have a small bump removed from my finger – apparently something caused by bone wear and tear – not painful but REALLY awkward, embarrassing and prone to catching on things. I went to see my doctor who gave me a date a few days later – I agreed and she booked me into the local hospital. I went there a few days later and was checked out, given an MRSA test, photographed and X-rayed – and a few days after that, the bump was removed. How efficient is that?

No, just kidding. My doctor told me I’d have to wait until November (which was a while off at the time) for the local hospital but kindly offered to speed the job up by sending me to Washington (the UK version) hospital.  I agreed for the sake of getting it out of the way.

A 72 mile round trip, I headed off a week or so later to the hospital and saw the doctor – who arranged for an instant X-ray and told me he could not operate until November – completely defeating the object of travelling all the way to Washington. I cooperated as it was now too late to mess them about.

On the way out they said I’d have to come back in to have a photo of my finger taken… but not now!

Another 73 miles round trip a guy took a photo of my finger in ordinary light with an ordinary camera – the kind of thing I could have done at home with my mobile phone and emailed – or indeed the doctor or better yet the X-ray technician could have done that on my first trip while in the X-ray room!!

As the operation was nearing,  I got a call to say I could NOT come in for the operation before I’d had a test for MRSA. More time passed and another 72 miles round trip and that was over – and MAYBE they would have the results in time for my mid-day surgery that week, if not I would have to wait around for a while (not that anyone asked if this affected my job).

You just don’t GET any less efficient than this – nearly 300 miles of fossil fuels and the most convoluted business practice you can imagine! This is how the NHS operates today. Nothing wrong with the skills of the people I’ve met OR the politeness OR the hospital – but their organisation skills STINK. You don’t SEE the cost to the UK because the NHS will only record THEIR costs. By the time I was finished, I’d used 9 gallons or so of petrol and lost what, 2 days of productive hours? – all this for a tiny operation.

Now I will end this on a positive note, the service other than the efficiency was excellent, the people friendly, the operation done well. I arrived for my 1.10pm appointment a few minutes early and was seen almost immediately. An hour later I was out of the door with a bandage on my finger after something like 40 minutes of hacking or whatever the doctor did (I didn’t watch). Good people, good kit, good service but someone needs to sit down and consider the overall costs, not just theirs – that could have been handled in 2 visits.

Days later the finger is still bandaged to let the stitching heal, feels good, no surprises, I reckon the weekend will see the bandage off. Lovely.

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Sunny Cornwall

Cornwall

tmpAFFAI created the above imagery at the start of our trip to Cornwall, hoping that really, the umbrella would not be needed. Sadly it was.

Not so much rain but it was foggy throughout the ENTIRE trip. Click on any of the images in here for a larger version.

British MuseumWe started our journey from home, travelling down the A1M etc all the way down to London where we parked up at Heathrow where we were meeting Maureen’s brother. We spent a couple of days walking around the usual tourist traps as you do.

Maureen always likes to go see the mummies and so we started our tour at the British Museum – always pleasant.

We took Andy on the underground from place to place on Friday and Saturday and then he went off to the states and we started our car drive down to Cornwall – and that was the last we saw of the sun.

tmp623BI have to say, there were some great things down there, the Eden Project is worth spending several hours examining – it is MASSIVE and very impressive – but overall I can’t say as I was too impressed by Cornwall, most likely due to the weather.

Once in Cornwall, staying at a pleasant little cottage, we met our friends and neighbours from Spain and drove around – Monday night we were horrified to find that nearly everything was closed and ended up in a particularly greasy-spoon Chinese cafe as it was the only thing other than a pub that we could find open – very disappointing.

Route 38Not untypical of our experience we popped into the “Route 38” restaurant for breakfast. Looking as it does (see photo) we expected an American style breakfast.

Well, we didn’t get it – the place looked the part inside and the menu looked very American – but no corned beef, the bacon was that Aldi-style stuff that refuses to cook properly, the Maple syrup wasn’t or at least didn’t taste like the real thing – and on and on. Of course the “Route 38” actually referred to the A38 but there was no mistaking they were trying to give the impression of an American diner. We won’t be back there again.

Eden ProjectWe took our friends to the Eden Project, a very worthwhile experience and quite a walk – and after that we parted as they had to get back to work.

We had 2 days left and decided that as the weather was so atrocious we’d spend a day around Cornwall and then head up north, not far off Manchester for our last night. Overall a pleasant break but one I think might have been better placed in maybe July or August.

 

Portsmouth

Down at the South Coast

Eden Project

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The Benefits of a Mobile Access Point

It could be argued that with modern Android phones offering to act as WIFI access points, there is no longer a need for the likes of the THREE WIFI pocket Access points, the successor to “WIFI dongles”.

three access pointMine has been sitting in my case doing nothing for the better part of a year and it is only by chance that I’ve never handed it back. I use my phone as an access point and that generally works well for my laptop and tablet.

But this week, all of that changed. We’re having a week off for the school holidays and my wife Maureen and I are in Cornwall, staying in a little cottage.  When we got here, the promised WIFI never padded out.

The building was split in two with the owners in one half and us in the other. The access point was in their half and the walls were just too much for the connection – in addition they have a limited connection and asked that we take it easy – that is just NOT what either of us do as we have so many gadgets that need WIFI for updates, browsing, email, watching video etc.

In addition we had friends with us both of whom spend much of their spare time on the web – such is the modern world. 

To make things worse, I’d just installed some cloud software on the phone which wanted to back up all 8,000 photos from the phone to the cloud – not to mention the usual numerous updates of Apps and laptop programs and operating system.

A part-time next-door WIFI was just not going to do it.

My first line of attack was to use my phone as an access point – after all it has 4G and I have an unlimited use contract with 3. Well, that option vanished as I realised I had almost no signal.

It was at this point I realised I still had the dongle-type unit in my bag, a black THREE-based unit able to share a 3G connection with several devices/ people at once. I switched it on and… nothing – months of lying around and the battery was utterly flat – but within 10 minutes of charging it had enough power to run and I was delighted to find FULL SIGNAL.

Unlike phones these gadgets are designed for no other purpose than to take in a 3G signal and re-broadcast as WIFI… and they do it very well, In addition I could stick it in a window for best signal. The unit gave access throughput the tiny cottage without any problems for the week, left charging 24-7 and requiring a reboot only once in the process (most likely due to too many gadgets trying to access it).

If I don’t use this again for a while, the unit has well and truly earned it’s keep. The weather down here has been and continues to be ATTROCIOUS and so we’ve spent slightly more time indoors than we expected. The continuous, high speed, reliable connection has been more than welcome.

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