26 January 2014

Flooding in SomersetGood morning to you all on what is expected to be a wet and windy day in beautiful downtown Byfield and throughout much of the UK. Just what we need! We have had a few glorious days this past week – bright, bright clear blue skies with mild temperatures and, of course, lots of mud for Molly to attract on our strolls. We’ve also had a couple of very frosty mornings when no hosing of the dog is required but this weekend, apparently, we are due to be “back to normal” with dull, grey skies and more and more rain. The Environment Agency is predicting more flooding and in Somerset they have declared a “major incident” which is rather similar to what happens in the States when a “state of emergency” is announced. Places in Somerset have been underwater since the beginning of January and whole villages have been cut off and indeed even abandoned.

I had a very exciting day last week. When I was driving home from Banbury on Sunday after toiling at the gym I spotted, across on the horizon, the new wind turbine which has been erected by the reservoir. It’s been about five years in the planning and there were considerable objections to its erection from local “NIMBYs” (Not In My Back Yard) – those who are all for doing something about climate change as long as whatever is proposed is situated nowhere near where they live! The interesting thing about where it has been sited though is that it really is nowhere near where anyone lives. It’s in the middle of a field and I would guess there are three or four houses in Upper Boddington which can see it. The original plans called for three to be erected but that was rejected. Apparently, the basic objection was that it would spoil the view. Since there is really nothing there to view I can’t quite understand the complaint. Still the objectors persuaded the council to allow only one to be erected and it was reduced in height, presumably so that it didn’t spoil quite so much of the view.

Wind Turbine

I just don’t understand it – where do these people imagine we are going to get our energy from? I appreciate that wind turbines are not the most efficient form of power generation and that the best bet, if you are going to use them, would be to put hundreds of them out in the middle of nowhere. But I really like it – I think it looks majestically magnificent.

Those of you on Facebook will know that I had the pleasure of babysitting Annabelle for about an hour and a half on Tuesday. Lucy keeps thanking me profusely for doing so; I keep telling her that it’s me who should be thanking her as it is a joy and pleasure to be able to spend time with Bubble. Facebook “friends” will also have seen the photo that Nick posted on their return but I will include it here for those of you who have not seen it. Honestly, that room was spotlessly tidy when her parents left and they were only gone for just over an hour.

Grandpa babysitting Annabelle

Annabelle certainly knows who’s boss when it comes to our relationship. As soon as her parents had left she started directing my activities. I was instructed what to do, which book to read, which toy to play with, which DVD to put in the player, which castle to build with the megablocks, where to sit, when to fix her lunch, etc. And, she even “fooled” me by telling me she had done a poo! My heart sank but when we got in there, she laughed and said it was only a wee after all! I have to confess, I struggled to work out which way round these modern nappies go but we got there in the end.

Ordinarily, of course, I wouldn’t be trusted to look after Annabelle on my own but unfortunately Penny was tied up looking after her mother. Pen and I both had appointments last Monday so Beryl had gone to Penny’s brother Jeremy’s for a couple of days. Unfortunately, while there, she had another fall and they spent the Monday in Accident & Emergency at Northampton Hospital. Fortunately, she sustained no broken bones but emerged with 50+ stitches in her face and forehead. She came back to us on Tuesday but now needs full time supervision and care which meant I had to fly solo with Annabelle. Still, we both survived and I think she had fun. I know I did!

Another week, another politician telling lies. This time it’s David Cameron (again) and the Chancellor George Osborne (again) declaring that people are better off this year than last. The independent Office for National Statistics and the Institute for Fiscal Studies, however, tell a different tale. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

How refreshing then to have a politician tell the truth! Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP (the UK Independence Party) was interviewed on television the other day and, essentially, seemed to know nothing about the policies his party stood for. By the end of the interview he had disowned virtually all his party’s policies as outlined in their 2010 election manifesto and on their web site and, even better, said that all the party’s policies were under review and new policies would not be announced until after the European elections in May. Given that UKIP is essentially a one-trick pony (their only real policy is to withdraw from Europe) to go into an election without any policies is perhaps a novel approach. At least you can’t be accused of ignoring the policies you go into the election with if you don’t have any!

Still, I for one will be disappointed not to see the fruition of many of their policies as outlined in the 2010 manifesto. In particular, I would welcome a dress code for taxi drivers, “proper dress” for theatre goers, repainting all trains in traditional colours as well as making the Circle Line in London’s underground circular again.

Finally, a really nice interactive display of all the planes in the air in real time as well as a little potted history of passenger aviation over the past 100 years.

Flights around the world

Love to you all,

Greg