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Archive for January, 2011

Royal Mail – Britain’s Last Great Joke

You would think that under the threat of the Internet, the Post Office would be trying to make itself more attractive but now – along comes the news that in April, anyone sick of waiting for the postman to turn up – which can in some cases be as late as 3pm, is going to be CHARGED for picking up the mail themselves, referred to by those in the know as “Mail Collect”.

How can it cost MORE to go pick up the mail yourself as against sitting around the house all day waiting for the mail?

They have absolutely and completely lost the PLOT!!! Meanwhile the price of stamps is going up – the first class stamp is to go up an inflation-busting 5p to 46p – and the second class to 36 pence.

Isn’t it a shame we can’t send parcels by the Internet – then we could tell the post office to go SHOVE IT UP THEIR BACKSIDES!

Dearer food, dearer petrol, dearer post, lower house values… higher VAT…  for how long I wonder will patient brits continue to take this. The last government and the banks caused the current situation – not the ordinary guy in the street, not the small businesses… how long before we say ENOUGH is ENOUGH?

Are we MEN or MICE… sadly, I feel, the latter.

A Grim Winter’s Morning

The view from the dining room at the Number OneGenerally speaking I tend to be enthusiastic about life… not today… it’s cold and miserable outside… I started the day getting up half an hour late, breakfast at the Number One in Blackpool – which I have to say is very nice.. he does a mean bacon sandwich… and off to FSB headquarters.. only to find that our servers are still down. Yesterday the data centre had a power outage which took out our email and web… most of the stuff was quickly restored but the website remains stubbornly dead despite engineers being out there from first thing this morning.

I’d not quite grasped just how dependant many of the jobs I do are on that stuff working and so I’m reduced to watching emails trickle in and hoping one of them is a note to say the site is back up and running. What’s frustrating is that I don’t even know who to get annoyed with until we get to the bottom of this.

Meanwhile I’ve all but given up trying to get some public sector support to help market a new venture we’re doing.. local government officials appear to be more concerned about scraping in as much money as they can from the private sector to “promote the Northeast” than actually help businesses. Mind you they’ve never been that keen. Seems to have escaped their attention that successful private industry is what actually makes the public sector possible.. but I digress… I’ve an important meeting tomorrow with my small committee – made even smaller by one of them giving up the organisation and the other being rushed off to hospital…   it seems this week is just doomed…

The Price of Promotion – public sector strikes again

I’ve spent the early hours this morning looking for help in promoting a small business in the Northeast. Of course I don’t REALLY expect help from the public sector – I’ve been around long enough to know they are self-serving (I’ve dealt with One-Northeast since they first promised us the earth, screwed it up, changed personnel around and started all over again)… but I had not really realised just how bad things have become.

To explain: regular viewers will know that Maureen and I have a new holiday cottage accommodation in Bellingham called Hollyberry Cottage. I’ve done the website of course and we’re starting to get business – but it would be nice to fill up the calendar for the coming months so we have a definite income from the cottage – always a good way to run a business.

To start the ball rolling I started to Google “tourism help in the northeast”. I came across the “Northumberland – an Independent Spirit” site and went from there. No matter where I turned they were after money. Indeed due to recent cuts no doubt, the whole thrust of the site seems to be about how to get YOU as a small business to pay THEM to promote Northumberland, though I may just be an old cynic.

Rip off fees for accreditation for self-catering accommodationI noticed the one FREE thing you could get was an entry in their website – that’s a good start I thought – but they ONLY take “accredited businesses” – so off I went in search of how to get accreditation. Guess what – it’s ANOTHER attempt to get money out of you.

In order to get accreditation so you can get the free listing, you can fill in some tick boxes to find out how much it will cost. So along I went, ticked the absolute minimum necessary and… I’m thinking …. NO !!!!!

Is this where nearly 40 years of paying taxes and getting absolutely ZILCH back gets me? Is this how Northumberland County Council helps start-up businesses?  I’ve written to the various contacts on the site and elsewhere to ask the question. No doubt a later blog will provide answers if and when I get responses.

I started off utterly cynical of the public sector – I remain utterly cynical.

Sterling Engine

This is great..  Note the components of this engine – a test tube, some marbles, a pipe, a plastic cork and a syringe !! Marvellous..


Sterling Engine – of a sort

A Pleasant Welcome to the New Year

For the first time in living memory, we didn’t overdo things on New Year’s Eve this year, instead we had a quiet night out with friends in a nearby restaurant. The parting came January the first, as is the way in the village of Wark, folks tend to go first-footing and taking a piece of coal with you is an old tradition that many follow! In our case, a couple of bottles of wine went with us and for someone who  never drinks during the day I have to say we had a good time.. of couse there’s a reason why I never drink during the day… by 7pm I was out cold 🙂

Since then I’ve been working – it’s pretty hard to ignore work when there are issues to resolve and people can get hold of you by a variety of electronic methods… but at least we’ve been able to get out and do some shopping and I’ve been hard at work on a new plan I have for the FSB… and working on my pet website at Hollyberry Cottage.

Tomorrow I start in earnest, car has to go in to get the transmission fluid checked and I’m expecting a huge backlog of incoming emails.

Oh, I did get a nice Christmas present this year… an SO32 Metal Series Remote controlled Helicoptor. I definitely recommend this as a stress-buster for anyone with more than 40 sq ft of clear living room space! Wonderful.