my pension and bus pass will be here.

It has now been four years since I started this blog and although a lot has happened in that time it only seems like a few months ago since I started. My first post was on February 23rd 2007. I have no idea where the time goes but it slips by so quickly. I had plans to be well away from here by now but those plans are on hold indefinitely, or at least until the world returns to some semblance of normality. Judging by the turmoil in the Middle East it may be some time!

The turmoil has affected most people on the planet if not all with the increase in oil prices as fears mount that the supply may be cut off. For my friends in foreign parts petrol (gasoline) is now close to six pounds a gallon and is set to reach £6.50 within a few months and possibly £7 by the end of the year. You can do your own conversions to your own currencies. This will not help to end the recession and the bankers are not to blame for this particular incident although much of the current burden is theirs to share alone, unless…… Yes speaking not so long ago to one who works in a bank he reckoned it was the fault of ordinary Joe Public. You see he reckons that if us lot had repaid the money we owed to the banks then there would be no problem. It is out fault for borrowing so much and not paying it back you see.

There, the answer is clear it is not the banks fault at all. We should have kept our jobs and made the repayments and all would have been well with the world. Bernie Madoff was merely misunderstood and ponzi schemes are fine. Don’t you just hate it when everyone else expects you to pick up the tab for them? A little bit like our own nationals who decide to go and work abroad because they hate the UK and then pay tax to foreign governments until the shit hits the fan and then they start screaming about how the British government should get them home. In other words you and me have to pay tax to mount the rescue of someone who has pissed off on us. Wouldn’t it be nice of the companies they worked for to pay and arrange to get them home instead of UK tax payers?

On the bright side the weather is warming up and the days are getting longer. The blowy season will be here in a few days and then the clocks go forward again. That means the start of the Barbie season, if we have a summer that is. The last three years have been awful with the last two the wettest I have ever known. My chief partner in crime Ted Magnum comes home next week from a tour of Africa and I already have plans for this year’s highlights and events. The smoker is getting refurbished along with a good ole scrub and re-paint in readiness for plenty of action. I have not used it since Halloween and it has since been neglected and like the greenhouse looks a little bit sorry for itself. When the clocks go forward and it is light in the evenings I will be able to start working in the garden again and clear up the storm damage. I may even be able to give Rhonda a service. Without a garage this task is difficult in winter when spanners stick to your fingers because they are so cold and the rubber on tyres is so stiff you can’t lever them off the rims.

When I was in my teens most of my bikes were fixed in the kitchen, the sink was handy for cleaning engines although Elsie never thought so, but Rhonda is too big to get through the back door.  What I want is a garage or a decent size workshop, I have never had one of those in my life and I am starting to really feel the need for one. By the time the recession is over and in my experience these things last about 7 years, I may be able to move to somewhere that has one in which case I will probably be too old to handle Rhonda.  Yes time is flying so fast that before I know it my pension and bus pass will be here.


well F*** you!!

Yes I have to admit it I am baby boomer, born in the 1950’s. This is not something I had any control over it just happened. So, imagine my horror when I opened several newspapers to read that us baby boomers are responsible for the state of the world today. Yes the entire economic downturn has been caused by my generation with no thought for the past or future generations. We have been labelled as the want it all now and to hell with the consequences brigade. To top it all the youngsters are accusing us of not dying young or fast enough.

It would appear that the first boomers are ready for retirement and the fear is that there are not enough people working to pay for our pensions. This is hardly the problem of people who have worked since they left school. If it was not for the boomers then there would be no schools hospitals or any of the other amenities that people take for granted. It is the boomers that have been working since 1945 that have paid for everything we have today including the schooling and pensions of those born before them and since.

To label three generations as feckless, and self centred because they want a pension after working for as long as the government asked them to is a bit harsh. Maybe it is the fault of those who choose not to work or those who plunder the savings of the prudent in the name of profit that have ruined the economy. Banker’s bonuses are still being paid out in telephone number style. If they can afford to pay so much bonuses they can afford to pay decent interest rates on savings and pay back some of the loans that the taxpayer made to them to bail them out. In fact I have often wondered why people who are against the bonuses being paid out do not simply switch their bank accounts to a bank that does not pay as much.

Around 7 billion will be paid out by the top five banks in the form of shares or bonuses to employees; this is on top of their wages. The top five? According to these people,
They are HSBC, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Lloyds and Standard Chartered. They are making around 200 million per day. Now how much of that is going to savers in the form of interest payments and how much is going into the government coffers in the forms of corporation tax? Sadly not very much but some quarters, including the young and the middle aged are blaming the baby boomers for this sorry state of affairs.

I did not ask to be born when I did, I have worked continuously since the age of 21, I have no debts and I consider myself to be careful with my finances. Given this I take exception to the arseholes who blame me and many like me for the state of the world.

For those who do, well F*** you!!


The theory of relativity

Finally January went out with a whimper and February roared in, quite literally. After coming back from a camping session in Cornwall I stood helplessly in the kitchen watching 50 mph gusts of wind tear my greenhouse to shreds. It also tore down some of the trellis and many of the plants. Sadly the greenhouse is only fit for the skip and the trellis will go the same way, strangely enough the neighbours trees which have blighted me for so long are still standing. (I am sure some readers will chuckle at this)

The bad news on the economy front rumbles along and unions are planning strikes and demonstrations in protest. Even the students have got in on the act bemoaning the end of the EMA. EMA? I did not know it existed; it stands for educational maintenance allowance and is paid to 6th formers who stay on in school. For gods sake we have been paying kids to go to school. I have no idea how this sorry state of affairs happened or even when but it has and now the new coalition government want to stop it.

At long last it seems as though the Government is standing up to the European Courts. Britain has been told it has to give prisoners the right to vote. Now I may have misunderstood here but if you are in prison it is generally because you neglected your moral duty or just walked over some one else rights. The Bigwigs in Europe seem to think that just because you don’t care about any one else rights you should still be entitled to your own and so you should have the vote.

This seems to me like asking Turkeys if Christmas should be abolished. Anyway our own government has a rebellion on its hands as many backbenchers have said no to the idea even if it is enforced upon us. This could mean us even pulling out of the European human rights act if the courts of Europe reject the UK’s own elected Government in what is essentially an internal affair.

I have never been a fan of the European human rights act and to replace it with something that incorporates human responsibilities seems a lot fairer.

It is not too long before spring arrives and the clocks go forward again. I am sure my old friends the collared doves are hanging around somewhere just waiting to reclaim their old nest in my neighbour’s tree. The mercury is no longer falling and even the snowdrops are poking their heads through the frozen soil. It will seem strange not having a greenhouse this year and I will have to decide what if anything I am going to attempt to grow in the space the greenhouse used to occupy.

As the seasons change another birthday approaches and it seems to have come around even quicker than the last one which was faster than the one before. I am sure that even if Einstein’s theory of relativity was written about the speed of light it was inspired by birthdays as they come around faster each year relative to your age. When you are six years old your seventh birthday seems a long way off, when you are in your fifties it only seems like weeks since your last one and that to me is the theory of relativity.


Camping in Cornwall

It has been a while since I took Rhonda out for a spin. In fact the last time proper was a trip to Yorkshire in September where I discovered most of my gear was wholly inadequate. Reading the HUBB forums, I discovered a winter camping trip in Cornwall and figured as my ribs had healed it was time to test out the new gear I had purchased and meet some new people. My travelling partner, Diehard fancied the idea and together we made arrangements to go.

The day arrived and after programming our respective satnavs, his a Tom Tom and mine a Garmin, more about this later, we set off at around 8-20am. The ride down was hairy to say the least and at one point whilst trying to cross the bridge over the Bristol Channel I struggled to stay in one lane and could not reach speeds above 60mph. Rhonda when fully packed has the aerodynamics of a flying brick and due to the high wind speeds and much fuel consumption with several much needed pit stops we finally landed in the Cornish town of Darite at 3-40pm.

It was a welcome sight to see a village hall in which we were greeted and met with hot tea. After so many hours against the wind, yes I know it is not exactly the Patagonian highway but I am not a young man, my arse was killing me and every bit of me ached. The town or should that be village due to its size, was very welcoming and our camp site was to be the school playing field which doubles up as the village green outside of term time. For those not wanting to brave the elements the option of sleeping in the hall was open to those who wanted to take it. Me and Diehard being the big roughty toughties that we are opted for the field and the fresh air along with the opportunity to test our new tents, cookers and other assorted toys.

This is where the first of our problems started. The high winds stopped us from putting up the basha which was to be our cooking area and it prevented us from using the home made charcoal burners we had brought along with us plus a supply of charcoal to keep us warm and dry stuff off if we got very wet. I had learned my lesson from the last trip! However we did manage to put the tents up and to peg them suitably. The gear I had brought along worked out and everything was bone dry. My waterproof clothes kept out the water on the trip and the boots along with the sealskinz socks worked a treat. The new sleeping bags along with the Exped airbed kept me toasty warm and I was feeling quite pleased with myself.

After a few beers in the village hall with the infamous “Doom Bar” local brew it was time for bed and an early night, very unusual for me. On the Saturday morning full of sleep and still feeling tired I was greeted with “Oi gert orf moi lorne” by some of the local kids. It must have put the fear of God into them when I shouted back there is a “tarmac crew coming along in a few minutes and we have an application for retrospective planning permission lodged with the council”.  I can only imagine the panic caused when some of them went home and the locals thought “shit, the Pikeys have arrived”. Even more so when delivered by some one with an Irish accent and another with a scouse one!

A ride out had been arranged and as I had road tyres on I elected for a relaxing day at the camp. The off road mob headed for the hills and the slippy stuff as me and Diehard prepared breakfast. This is when we heard sounds from the next couple of tents and two guys who generally looked the worse for wear appeared wondering where they were and what time it was. Apparently they had a heavy night and arrived back at camp somewhere around 2-30 am, my kind or people! The slippy stuff was not for them either and as Diehard and me headed to the local shops for provisions they disappeared for a “walk” asking for directions at several pubs along the way.

Getting back from the shops was a mini adventure. Those narrow Cornish lanes all look the same and none have street name plates so if you do not know where you are then you are basically shagged! We went over one enormous hill at least twice as the two satnavs battled for supremacy. Narrow country lane followed narrow country lane and some more lanes that led to dead ends. Obviously the Tom Tom and the Garmin have issues with each other as who ever was in the front followed the instructions in front of them while who ever was at the back wondered why the hell are we going this way. I had visions of spending the night seeking refuge in a local pub named the Slaughtered Lamb. Thankfully and after some time we managed to make it back into camp.

Later that evening when we reconvened at the village hall I asked one of the brave souls who had ventured out for the off road ride where he had been. He said there and back. There and back was supposed to be some sort of answer? Anyway I asked how far they gone from here to there and back again and he said 30 miles. Me and Diehard had travelled more miles and probably over rougher terrain to the supermarket and back due to the fact the Tom Tom and the Garmin could not agree which route to take.  Anyway after a few more beers it was time to go to the local pub for a meal which was fantastic and then back to the hall for some slide shows and some talks.

The talks were great and I met some people who I had corresponded with but never actually seen and was offered accommodation for the following night. This seemed like a great idea and would have been an extra day in Cornwall. It was with a heavy heart that I stumbled back into my tent realising I would have to go home soon. All too soon morning arrived and I started to pack up. This is when the weather really pissed me off. We had had gales of around 25 mph all weekend but with gusts much faster and as I took down the tent it turned into a kite and disappeared into the brambles some yards away. By the time I had retrieved what was left of it, it was full of holes and tears and beyond economic repair. It ended up in the village skip.

I was so pissed off and the weather report for the following day was horrendous that both Diehard and me decided it would be better to pass up the offer of an extra night and try to get home while the going was good. After saying our goodbyes we set off with the wind that had been in our faces coming, at our backs and we actually made good time coming home and the fuel consumption was noticeably lower. It must have helped that I took a lot less home with me than I had brought.

The lessons learnt this time are that you can do something about the rain and the cold but you can do nothing about the wind. You can make yourself warm and waterproof but you cannot stop gales from blowing everything you have about. With this in mind I think I can say I have everything I need at long last except for a tent of course!

Full marks to the organisers and the people of Darite, a fantastic place with wonderful friendly people and I cannot wait to go back there again if they will have me, hopefully in summer when the weather will be better.