20 October 2013

Thursday last week was one of those delightfully glorious, bright, sunny, “fresh” autumn mornings which provided a welcome alternative to the dank, dark, dreary, drizzly days we endured for much of the rest of the week. I mowed the lawn and Penelope continued with her task of re-pointing the patio. Still, I guess it’s true – autumn is really here and winter won’t be far behind. Hmmm.

I didn’t get a chance to mention last time our trip to Oxford with Nick, Lucy and Annabelle on Saturday which was a lot of fun. Our friend, Sue Heap, is an illustrator and occasional author of children’s books and on Saturday we attended the launch of the latest book on which she has collaborated, Very Little Red Riding Hood. The launch was held at Blackwell’s, perhaps Oxford’s most renowned and revered book shop, and it meant that we had to drive down to Oxford and then get on the Park and Ride double-decker bus into the town centre. For Annabelle, that was probably the most exciting adventure of the day! We went up to the top deck and occupied the seats right at the very back (where all the naughty children usually gather). Annabelle was able to see everything and wave to the motorists behind us, several of whom waved back which, understandably, made our day.

Pen had made Annabelle a very little red cape (complete with hood) so Annabelle, at least, was in costume. I suppose I could easily have passed for the big, bad wolf. We arrived at the book launch just in time for the first reading to which all the children listened with rapt attention. The reading was followed by cake (which, I have to confess, was one of the main reasons I went)! Unfortunately, there were hordes of small children and I had to wade over and through many of them in order to secure a piece for myself. Half the fun for Annabelle and the rest of the kids was the opportunity to browse through the huge section of children’s books for all ages – certainly, Annabelle made herself right at home.

Annabelle on the bus
Annabelle listening to the reading
Cutting the cake
Annabelle waiting for cake
Annabelle reading at the book launch

Annabelle on the bus

Annabelle listening to the reading

Cutting the cake

Annabelle waiting for cake

Annabelle reading at the book launch


On Sunday we had a lovely time “entertaining” our friends Julie and Ian who were here from Australia and Jo and Colin Heydon and their delightful kids who provided such sterling accommodation for our Molly during part of our extended absence at XCstravaganza over the summer. We had a wonderful lunch (complete with liquorice ice cream) and it stopped raining long enough for a pleasantly leisurely stroll around the reservoir.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uhLZPSjlRk


We had a lovely afternoon on Friday last week – it was Annabelle’s birthday and we drove across to spend a couple of hours with the birthday girl. Unfortunately, we are away next weekend so cannot attend her birthday party with several thousand young children (some of you might suggest that is a good thing) so we were delighted to be able to pop over on Friday to have a bit of fun. Equally unfortunately, “silly” Grandpa forgot to take his camera so the following are from amongst those Lucy posted on Facebook. Penelope made a delicious birthday cake, we sang, Annabelle blew out her candles (twice, because it was so much fun) and the wooden train set was a hit.

A couple of comments by government spokespeople which could have sparked a rant on my part but their actions are so absurd it’s not worth the effort. Firstly, the government has been hammering on for months (indeed years) that the UK is being flooded with immigrants who are flocking here to take advantage of our overly generous benefit system. And, of course, it’s all down to the idiocy of the European Union which allows citizens of member states to travel freely and work in any member country.

For three years, it seems, the EU has been pressing the UK government to provide evidence that immigrants are really flooding into the UK and claiming benefit. So far, the government has not been able to provide the evidence, mainly because it’s simply not true.

The vast majority of migrants go to the UK to work, and they actually contribute more to the welfare system than they take out, purely because they tend to be younger than the average population, and of working age. They [the UK government] have completely failed to come up with any specific evidence that there is systematic or widespread abuse of the system. On the contrary, EU nationals are net contributors to the UK welfare system. They pay more in tax and social security contributions than they receive in benefits. So the more EU migrants you have the better off the UK welfare system is.” – Jonathon Todd, spokesperson for the European Employment Commissioner.

Of course, in times of austerity it’s easy to distract attention from the government’s failings by blaming other groups, especially “foreigners”. It’s just another example of what we’ve been saying – this is a government of ideology, not evidence.

And finally, just for a good laugh, there are times when government spokespeople should probably just say nothing. During the government’s time in office there has been a significant increase in “food poverty” – the number of people making use of Food Banks has tripled in the last year. A government spokesman tried to rebutt the criticism by blaming the increased numbers of people resorting to food banks to feed themselves and their families on, wait for it, the increase in the number of food banks!

The Trussell Trust itself says it is opening three new food banks every week, so it’s not surprising more people are using them”, a government spokesperson said.

A lesson in cause and effect might be appropriate. You really couldn’t make this stuff up!

 

Love to you all,

Greg