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

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Public Transport – the Lifeblood of Britain

It’s been a little quieter the last few days after a hectic week of travel. After leaving my car at Newcastle airport for the week I came home on Friday by train which meant getting the Metro from Newcastle central station to the airport itself.

Alighting from the train at Newcastle central station I noted the new stiles were in operation – meaning they now have to have 4 employees standing around doing nothing instead of none – that’s progress. This was to be my first metro ride of the century! I used to use the metro years ago but have never had need for it since we moved out into the countryside to evade the crime in Newcastle.  I went down the lift from central station to the underground and waited the few minutes for the next Metro to the airport – very interesting… the first shock was to realise that the machines down there don’t take credit cards, only cash – and the only cash machine was out of order.  I managed to scrape enough coins together for a ticket and headed off down to the platform.

tmpB1AFThere was a multi-ringed couple standing next to me looking for all the world like a circus act. At one point the young guy pinched his girlfriend’s face (no idea why, I’m guessing boredom) at which point she yelled “Divn’t f***n pinch me f***n cheeky bas****d, f**k off” -  and that pretty much describes the level of their conversation as we alighted the metro for the airport – no conversations about share prices down here! Finding absolutely no-where to put my heavy bags (people arriving at train stations tend to have large bags so as they have travelled, but this doesn’t seem to have filtered down to the metro designers!) I had no option but to take up 2 seats – thankfully there were plenty –6pm peak time – no-one on the (no doubt expensive to run) Metro to the airport – see pic). It didn’t take long to realise that the entire carriage smelled of poo – I don’t even want to consider where that came from. 5000 stops later (or so it felt) we arrived at the airport. No lift but just a long up-hill walkway greeted me as I dragged my bags up to ground level. I missed the courtesy coach by a couple of ticks and so half a dozen of us stood outside freezing our parts off waiting for the next coach which duly arrived 10 minutes later and off home I went to warm up! You would think it more sensible to have a warning light INSIDE the airport – at least in the winter so people could stay WARM while waiting for the bus.

An enlightening experience – I still hate public transport.

Merry Christmas

Scargill Cats Rosie and Ollie

Bejeweled

One of the world's best scores at Bejewelled - Peter Scargill

No comment….

Solar power good for who?

So… I was watching Horizon on the BBC tonight (briefly) and they were ranting on about a village who are making a bomb out of solar power. Apparently they came to a deal with the solar power company who fitted a windmill and they share the profits.

So every year the villagers get their cut and they’ve thought of all sorts of ways to spend the money.  Sounds like green HEAVEN.

But hang on a minute.. is it not the case right now that the windmill manufacturers are heavily subsidised by the government… that means US.. So logically, following on from that, does this mean that the windfall these would-be village capitalists are enjoying, is not being made available because of the green-ness of their purchase – but because WE’RE subsidising them???  Tell me if I’m wrong…

VAT Attack

This morning I received my regular “Dickinson-Dees” Vat Bulletin – something I normally ignore… until I noted… “On the 1st of January 2010, there will be a major change to the VAT and administrative treatment of services supplied cross border.” – with of course MORE penalties for non-compliance.

New to you? Well, I must admit it was to me – and I should know better. There are so many things going on right now that one could at least dream that the government would be giving us all a break from their constant changes – but no, never let a recession get in the way of another excuse to squeeze more money out of us.

Meanwhile a report from the FSB says “FSB survey reveals eight in ten could go to the wall, and calls the Government to listen to its ‘Give us a Break’ campaign.” referring to changing tax rules on holiday properties. Under current rules, businesses run in the holiday sector – known as furnished holiday lettings – must be available to rent for at least 20 weeks of the year and must be rented out for 10 weeks. As a result, they receive a number of tax breaks. Following Government proposals to change the tax rules, businesses in the holiday sector will be considered as residential landlords rather than as trading businesses. The FSB’s survey results on the subject show that these tax changes could stifle trade, threatening the existence of the 60,000 self-catering firms across the country and costing jobs. The tourism industry alone could lose £200 million a year.

It simply beggars believe that in the worst recession in living memory, our stupid government STILL can’t see through their long-established political anti-business goggles. Of course, after more businesses go bust, the people will soon throw these idiots out and elect a new government. Posts will shuffle but all those responsible will keep their jobs in some form or another…. and their houses and cars… more than can be said for the businesses they are destroying through their incompetence.

Ignorance is Bliss

I always get a chuckle when the “mums-against-masts” brigade end up in the papers as some kind of local heroes. Totally oblivious to any source of scientific common sense, the protesters line up to stop yet another mast being erected, hence ensuring that the Northeast of England remains a communication backwater (rural Northumberland being a prime example – signals on the A69 from Hexham to Carlisle are almost unusable for any meaningful conversation (hands-free of course). If only these knowledge-free people could see phone signals visually, they’d realise they are barking up entirely the wrong tree.  Almost all kids today (and most adults) have mobile phones and they take them wherever they go (ask any teacher). Whether on silent or not, these phones are TRANSMITTERS, just like the masts, but closer. The signals they put out are small,  but not insignificant in comparison to masts, but then it’s not all about signal strength – distance is important too. 

Given a strong base signal, mobiles put out a weak signal to communicate back to the base – and they do this regularly. Given a distant base, they have to put out a stronger signal (anyone notice how quickly phone batteries go down in weak signal areas?). That means that by ensuring there are as few base stations as possible (economics and misguided protesters have ensured that in large parts of Northumberland, mobile phone communication is unreliable, just where it is needed the most), the phone which sit millimetres away from children’s skin, regularly transmit with the highest possible power, all day, every day. Even those who don’t have mobile phones are probably sitting inches away from someone who does and who’s phone is supplying a regular, close-proximity supply of radiated energy. In operation mobile phone transmitting strength drops to almost nothing if the base station is local, with a poor connection it can be as high as 2 watts, which might not sound a lot but your readers should read this next sentence over and over till it sinks in: The signals from base stations are but a TINY fraction of those received by users holding their own phone within millimetres of their ear!!

Just like the windmill and nuclear protesters, these people will not stop the march of technology, they never do, they will merely succeed in ensuring that we have the worst possible services thanks to lack of thought and lack of basic knowledge.

More Face, Less Burkha

Once again we have someone digging in their heels and insisting on wearing a Burkha in their job. I have a real problem with this – I’m as unhappy as anyone else that we live in a surveillance society but if I can have my face plastered all over monitor screens – so can everyone else.  What do these people have to hide I wonder??  I think we are FAR, FAR to accepting in the UK.

British Airports – the Pits

Bloody typical… we’re picking up Maureen’s mum this morning from Manchester airport so we figured we’d stop over at a hotel to make life easy in the morning…  7am flight arrival.

So before leaving the hotel, a mere 6 miles away from Manchester International, we checked on the airport website. 20 minutes delay… fine – just enough time to go for a sausage and egg McMuffin.

I’m sitting here drinking luke-warm Costa Packet coffee in the airport and doing the blog on my wonderful Windows 7 – equipped laptop.. because – by the time we got here, the delay had increased to 2 hours!  Someone tell me – on a 7 hour flight, how the hell can you lose 1.5 extra hours once you’ve taken off!! And there’s no McDonalds – just a SPA store. Awful place.

Meanwhile I note our local pub has won a silver medal for sustainable tourism! Amazing what a woodchip burner can do for your credibility tick-box. Personally I’d have liked to have seen them win an award for employing all local workers but I guess that’s not going to happen.

Oh and we’re down to one kitten – kept the little ginger one – called Ollie.  He’s my new best friend.

The Death of an Era – the Portable Cassette Recorder

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The era in question of course died years ago but as I’m having my “Autumnal Spring Clean” as colleague Simon put it… after many years of taking this item off the shelf, cleaning it and putting it back there, it’s finally going in the bin, leaving only a photo on the web in remembrance.

It’s not that there is anything wrong with this Panasonic stereo radio and stereo tape cassette recorder, capable of recording straight off the radio onto tape. It’s not even as if it looks terrible. It’s in good condition and not THAT ancient looking. I’ve ensured over the years that it remains fully functional and dent-free.

It’s more to do with the fact that I’ve not had a cassette tape in the house for years – my wife through out my collection of tapes, lovingly created over many years complete with Dymo labels and one album per side, storing my tastes in music from “Spooky Tooth” and “Black Sabbath” going back as far as the time when the Philips cassette took off… which incidentally was shortly after I won the Philips competition for the best new name for the device and came up with “musicassette” – which netted me the first Philips portable cassette player and a boatload of albums I  may add. She threw them out – because they were simply gathering dust with no hope of ever being used again (and contrary to what you might hear, cassette tapes most DEFINITELY degrade while sitting doing nothing)!

Not only do I not have any tapes but I cannot imagine why I’d go out and buy one. With the likes of Spotify on the web I can listen to any track I want to including most of the oldies.. at considerably better quality than I had on the tape… and if I want to do that on the road I can put the lot on a memory stick which is 20th the size of this Panasonic unit all without any loss of quality.

What’s sad is the amount of space in my brain devoted to a complete understanding of the operation of these antiquated devices, an understanding that would still defeat the average teenager of today, however, it’s totally useless!! Of what use is knowing the struggle manufacturers had to get the head gap down to less than a micron to get hi-fi out of a media that was never intended to be hi-fi, or the variation of bias-recording techniques used to stay in the magnetic linear region to defeat the 3 main basic issues with tape – distortion, noise and saturation. I followed developments from the old reel-to-reel Ferrographs, through the Sony (ferrite and ferrite) and Akai (glass-crystal heads), dual locked capstan…. I could rant about the various technologies for a week… and given a bunch of components could probably create something from scratch. But why bother, with 2 terrabyte drives as cheap as chips and enough storage for millions of tracks… why on earth would anyone want a tape recorder.

But it’s all permanently useless, we’ll never need this again any more than we’ll ever need DOS (typical start of the bios off the top of my head included jumps for cold start, warm start, keyboard check, keyboard input, screen out etc etc….) tons and tons of now totally defunct information.

Perhaps in the future we’ll be able to get out brains wiped to make way for new information… seems such a waste – hardly in the same league as childhood memories of sweethearts and winning the bowling…

Meanwhile, the bin today is just that bit heavier…. a sad occasion. The good news is I got 4 rechargeable batteries out of the deal.

 

 

 

And then there were three

We’re now down to three terrors.. the little one centre back has gone to a good home already4 kitties

1 kitty1 kitty

Ok…. anyone for a kitty?