Thursday, 30 December 2010

Someone Died Here

Late last night a car crashed at this spot on Newton Rd Torquay and the passenger, a 19 year old local woman suffered fatal injuries.

The driver, who was treated at the scene for minor injuries, was later arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

He has been released on police bail until 15 March.

Belgrave Rd Traffic Lights

Seven days ago I took an X46 up to Kenford to get some Photos of the snow. On the way I noticed the traffic lights at the bottom of Belgrave Rd weren't working. Today I was on the sea front taking some photos of the mist and I noticed the traffic lights still aren't working.
 
Mind you, the traffic seems to be flowing much quicker now than back in the good old days when the lights did shine. 

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Soon be 2011

I've just watched one of those end of year programs called, I think, The Most Annoying People of 2010. Only the first 50 were on tonight so I will have to watch tomorrow to find out who the most annoying person of 2010 is. Will it be Nick Bye our beloved mayor (elected but not for much longer if comments in the Herald Express are anything to go by) or his one time best buddy Chris Lewis ( the most photographed man in Torbay) or could outsider

Elizabeth Raikes (Torbay Council's chief executive) who put in a late run with her threat of police action over an unemptied bin. I am not sure I will ever find out because most of the annoying people were basically unknown to me being C or D list celebs I don't give a damn about.

But there are people out there who would I am sure have know every single one of the and known why they were so annoying. Take a radio phone in quiz show on earlier in the day. The contestant had to answer 7 questions correctly to win. The first answers to the first 5 questions consisted of people who had a good chance of being on the TV program mentioned above. It was clear the DJ asking the questions liked the girl on the phone because question 6 was a maths question. Not something simple like the value of pie to the tenth decimal place or 2 to the power 10 or explain Pythagoras's Theorem in 17 words or less. No this was really hard; What is 27 minus 3. America had moved several inches further away from Europe by the time she answered but she got it right. Final question, get this right and a World Cruise for two with 50 thousand quid spending money plus her very own detached villa next door to Wayne Rooney plus free TV licence for a year was at stake.

"Who is the Deputy Prime Minister?"

You would have needed an atomic clock to measure the time between the end of the question and the answer. Lightening could not have struck faster. The fastest gun fighter in the West would have had a bullet between the eyes before he had even reach for his gun. Cheetahs all over Africa would have stared in wonder. Light would have to admit it is a slow coach compared with our contestant. Absolutely not even a nano second's hesitation.

"No idea."

 

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Jumping on a Bandwagon

Aviation minister Theresa Villiers said an airport should be fined when it "does let passengers down and doesn't prepare properly for severe weather". (From BBC web site Sunday evening).

Yeh right. Make em pay. Just a couple of problems with this blatant jumping on a bandwagon. Who exactly will end up paying? I mean, where do the airports get their money from. That's right, from Joe Public that's who. The poor sods who have spent 2 or 3 days sleeping on the floor of some airport lounge when they should have been on day 2 of a midwinter holiday. The very people that, at first glance, the idea of fining the airport is supposed to protect. Now it will just cost them more to sleep on the floor of the airport next year.

Problem Two. Let's be fair, airports floors weren't the only place travellers spent an unexpected night or two. What about all the motorists stuck in their cars or in community centres because someone hadn't cleared the roads, that is, hadn't prepared properly for severe weather. And who was that? Well the government that's who. So if you are going to fine the airports for allowing severe weather to disrupt travel plans then how about fining the Department of Transport for the same offence?

Friday, 24 December 2010

Flu Jab and 112

About six years ago I walked into work one winter's morning and there was a nurse waiting. Stagecoach had arranged for any driver who wanted a flu jab could have one. So I had one. I can still remember how sore my arm was as I drove the bus between Brixham and Newtob Abbot that day and decided I wasn't going to bother again.

Yesterday I had an appointment at the doctor's, a regular check to make sure my heart was still going. It was. The nurse then asked if I wanted a flu jab. Remembering my sore arm from years ago I almost refused but only almost. When I got home 30 minutes later, sore arm and all, I put the telly on there was a story about how many people were in intensive care with flu. Not a bad idea this flu jab thing.



An item in the local paper prompted by the Coast Guards suggested that if you needed emergency services, Police' Fire, Ambulance, Coast Guard, Mountain Rescue or Pothole Rescue and are using a mobile and are unsure of your exact location you should use 112 instead of 999. True, not only is it true but it will help the emergency service you require find exactly where you are from you phone’s signal. While checking this fact out I also came across on item on the web that stated that your mobile would work even if there was no local signal available. How would it work? It would pick up a satellite signal, even if you were on the London underground. What a good idea. Then a bit more digging. Sorry this last piece about the satellite isn’t true. Your mobile just isn’t built to send a signal to a satellite. So where did this idea come from. What prick set this rumour going. Somebody must have. Own up now and don't do it again you naughty boy.

PS 112 works in most European Countries but hopefully you will never need that information.

PPS Merry Christmas from Santa's Grotto to all.


Thursday, 23 December 2010

Adrian Sanders Attacks!

Our local MP Adrian Sanders has had a go at the LibDem leadership in his blog. It's a bit of a rambling attack but basically he criticises them for getting into bed with the Tories and then instead of snoring loudly and kicking out all night long they appear to cuddle up close and whisper sweet nothings such as, "Look beloved leader, we might call ourselves LibDems but really we are Tories at heart and we will do what ever you want provided you will give us some power." What Adrian and most LibDems wanted was the getting into bed bit but with some very strong reminders that the present coalition could only stay in power if there was to be some bending by the Tories towards LibDem policies which so far hasn't happened. Adrian also cruised the failure of some (many?) LibDem MPs not to keep one of the most important pre election promises on tuition fees. Even the use the opt out clause would have been better than what happened. He goes on to ask if the leadership have any understanding of the long term damage they have done to the party not only at national level but to all those LibDem councillor through out the country who have run local authorities successfully for many years. (Prehaps they don't care. A bird in the hand as they say: my note). After the leadership broke their firm promise will these local councillor continue to have the respect of the local electorate?

There is more about the failure of his leaders to spend more time standing up and saying what LibDems have done so far to influence government policies so LibDem supporters will have something to cling to in the dark days ahead.

The whole blog can be read here.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Vince Cable, Why Don't You Just Move to Costa Rica? Or Maybe Sibera? The Andaman Ialands are nice at this time of Year.

And I thought that only our beloved Torbay Council could do stupid things. Turns out I was wrong. Actually I am not questioning Vince Cable's stupidity. Well, I mean he's a politician, egotistical, single minded, power mad and expected to make mistakes now and then. Though not usually on the scale of this little disaster. The long term ramifications aren't all plain to see yet but the more obvious problems are the damage to the LibDem party, that is if any more damage could be inflicted on the poor sods. Next there is the benefit to the Tory Party. Cameron didn't sack Vince because he now still has a senior LibDem, on paper, to prop up his so called pretend coalition government but one who has no credibility or power left what so ever. Also Tories can now say openly what they have always believed, that the LibDems are not a party with any idea how to govern. That will benefit the Labour party as well but there has to be a sliver lining somewhere. The chances now that Murdock will get what he wants, full control of a large section of the media. Long term this will be to the detriment of the BBC. Wait a few years and the Tory Party, which isn't exactly keen on old Auntie, will bow to pressure to reduce or get rid of the licence fee on the grounds that people now have the choice, Murdock or the BBC, so why should everyone who has TV be forced to Pay £145 a year even if they never watch BBC.*

So why didn't the editor of the Telegraph, upon listening to the tape immediately delete it's contents, then feed the tape through the shredder just to make sure it's contents didn't end up on Robert Preston's desk at the BBC. And why did Robert Preston not bin the tape as soon as it arrived from the whistle blower? Remember, The Telegraph have been campaigning for months to stop Murdock from gaining control of BSkyB and yet they hand, on a plate, the where with all that almost makes it certain he will get that control. Why? Is the desire for a story stronger than the instinct of self preservation. The same question could be asked of Robert Preston.

*Just a note for when some future government does think of getting rid of the BBC as it exist at present. I would have no objections what so ever if the minister in charge of such an idea plus a staff of civil servants were to fly first class to Australia and stay in the best hotel for a couple of weeks provided the spend at least 4 hours each evening watching TV. Then an other first class flight and a couple of weeks in a top class hotel watching TV in the Good Old US of A. If the still want to get rid of Auntie then it will confirm what I have always believed. Politicians will always vote at their parties beck and call even when it is totally against the best interests of us poor Joe Public. After all we must be stupid, we voted for them in the first place.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Private and Confidential. I don't think so

A few minutes ago a large envelope dropped through the letter box addressed to me. It had the words Private and Confidential printed on the front so the contents were for my eyes only. But if you look at the photo you can see that the nature of the contents was clear to anyone seeing the envelope. What if I had never told my partner I was getting a Stagecoach Pension? He'd know now.

The envelope didn't actually contain anything personal to me, just general information the Pension Trustees have to send out every year. It's printed on shinny, very high quality paper and mostly consist of stuff I have no interest in reading other than the bit that said Stagecoach Pensions weren't going bust and my pension will continue to be paid. It will end up in the recycle bin just, as I suspect 99% of all the other copies sent out to my fellow receivers of a Stagecoach Pension (and many other pensions run by other companies). I don't know how much this cost to send and what it's carbon footprint is but I have a feeling it could be sent by email much cheaper with almost no carbon footprint at all. Give the matter some though pension companies and help save the planet.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Palm Court and Stupid Parking

A couple of photos today. The first is the Palm Court Hotel now the smoke has cleared, well some of it, and the firemen have left the building. Hopefully the council will do something quickly. I mean we only have 4 months till the summer season starts and we don't really want a burnt out building as the main attraction do we? The balloon is bad enough. Even if they just flatten it and plant a few trees would be better than the various factions on the council using it as yet an other excuse to slag each other off whilst doing exactly nothing. The cafe and fish and chip shop at the other end of the building should be OK, they were quite far from the fire.

The second of the two photos is of a big 4 wheel drive parked on the main road outside the Princess Theatre (showing Aladdin for the next few weeks). Now this big, off road, gas guzzling 4 wheel drive thing was showing a blue badge. The blue badge shows that the driver or a passenger is disabled and therefore can park anywhere, even on the double yellow lines that are painted on this main road. Even if it is a major obstruction and a possible danger to other road users. See the bus having to go right out onto the other side of the narrow road to get past. Actually there are one or two exceptions to the park anywhere rule and one of them is even if you have a blue badge you can not park on a loading ban. This road has a permanent loading ban and now this big, off road, gas guzzling, 4 wheel drive, blue badge showing thing has a parking ticket. Now I don't have a car so I am not up to date on what a parking ticket costs these days but I hope it will teach who ever dumped this big, off road, gas guzzling 4 wheel drive thing that it is a good idea to read the rules carefully. Merry Midwinters Day.


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Saturday, 18 December 2010

Some Sad But Not Unexpected News From Torquay

At 06:30 this morning, Sat 18 Dec 2010, someone or something set fire to the once much love Palm Court Hotel. At one point there were 8 fire engines in attendance but about one third of the building has been gutted.*

The hotel part of the building has been closed for years so there were no guests in residence. The left hand end of the building (looking from the sea) had been used as a bar over the last few summers but had closed at the end of the season just before the police were going to close it down anyway due to inappropriate behaviour on and around the premises.

A couple of years ago a developer signed a deal with the Council to pull the place down and rebuild as a mix of bar, hotel and apartments. Months and months went by and nothing happened. Then, eventually the council asked the developer why nothing was happening. He replied that he was still looking for backing for his project, please be patient. So the council was patient for months and months and even more months. Then the developer announced he had gone bust. There has been a for sale sign on the hotel ever since.

Judging by the damage the fire has caused the whole building will probable end up being knocked down and turned into a car park.

This isn't the first time fire has gutted an empty hotel in the Torbay area. There is the problem of squatters in empty hotels and it was very cold last night so a small fire to warm cold hands could have got out of control. Or maybe some local decided that the building was a continued blot on the beautiful landscape of Torquay and decided to speed up the process of turning the site from delerict building to block of flats or car park.

Also I am a bit concerned for the future of the hotel I used to work at which is presently standing empty and boarded up. Sorry Sherwood, it could happen to you if a buyer isn't found soon.

Friday, 17 December 2010

A Bit More from the Herald Express

This is what the Herald Express reporter who covered the council meeting the other night said about it.

 

The debate, predictably, soon slid into an outraged playground pantomime slanging match of who did what, when and why.

Thankfully chairman Matthew Phillips stopped the slapstick with a verbal slap on the wrist before my will to live finally expired.

It was just yet another wasted professional hour of my working life in covering full Torbay Council meetings.

Grow up boys and girls. The needs of the Bay have been too pressing for far too long for this to continue.

 

Just a reminder to the people of Torbay and something to think about in May next year. We are the people who voted these clowns into office. Lets not make the same mistake again.

Who thinks our council is wonderful?

 

Big row in the council chamber last night, not unusual here in Torbay. This row was about the position of elected mayor. About 7 years ago central government decided that the people of a local authority could have an elected mayor if they wanted. We, the people of Torbay decided that anything would be better than letting elected councillors run the place. A brief note here to show you what I mean. I have lived in Torquay through 4 local elections. Each time there has been an election, power in the council has changed hands from LibDem to Tory and back again. There are no Labour councillors, nor to my knowledge have there been any over the last twelve years. When I arrived the Tories were top dogs but defeated by the LibDems. One of the things the LibDems did was perdestrianise the bottom end of Union Street. As soon as the Tory party got in at the next election they promised to change this "monstrous mistake" and re-open the road to traffic even though just about everybody else said it was the best thing since sliced bread. The held at least 5 council meeting to discuss this idea at a cost of thousands of pounds per meeting before bowing to public pressure and leaving things as the were. Next election in 2005 the LibDems got back in. Now for this constant see sawing to be taking place suggests that neither party managed, in three years, to convince the voters that they knew what they were doing. Or more to the point had the best interests of Torbay at heart. Also in 2005 we had a slightly dodgy referendum about the election of a mayor and we ended up with Nick Bye. The general feeling is he hasn't done overwhelming well. The LibDems made a complete cock by voting to close public toilets around the Bay as they were costing too much to run. Now this idea wasn't very popular. We tend to have a lot of people living here who were born before or during WW2 and as you get older knowledge of where the nearest toilets are gets more important. Many of our summer visitors are of the same ilk so Torbay could have ended up with the biggest number of people arrested for peeing in public in the country. Not a good reputation for a holiday town. Anyway a few weeks after the toilets were closed we found out why the councillors wanted to save money when the LibDems voted themselves a pay rise, a big pay rise. Nearly a million quid. It came as no big surprise when at the next election the LibDems found themselves on the losing side.

Now we have had two and a half years with Tories in power and they seem to have done next to nothing to improve the place. OK there is the balloon on Abbey Gardens. It flies about 2 days a week if we are lucky. And there is the Fish Restaurant in Babbacombe. Actually there isn't, it got scrapped because there was too much public opposition to it. And there is Rock Walk. Three million quid and 3 years disruption for stair way up a cliff face. And not even a hot dog stall at the top. Oh yes. The development of the old Palm Court Hotel. Except the developer went bust 2 years ago and still no sign of a new developer.

I could go on but I'm not going to. I you don't live in Torbay you wouldn't believe me if I listed all the things that have made some people loose confidence in our council and elected mayor. Like I could have mentioned the Churston Golf Club grand sell out.

No. Back to last night.

The LibDems, because they know their man won't win. want to see if the people of Torbay can vote to get rid of the position of Elected mayor before next May . No we can't. Central government rules say we have to wait for ten years to change our minds about having a dictator run the place. And the LibDems should know this. If the don't, then what else don't they know? The Tories put in a blocking amendment and everybody had a good old slanging match so the council leader said they were behaving like a bunch of 'overgrown schoolboys." and brought the debate to a close.

Someone once said that we get the politicians we deserve. If they didn't then they should have.

Foot note. There are only 11 elected mayors in England out of 346 local authorities and one of those, to get elected, ran round dressed in a money suit and promised free bananas for schools. Says it all really.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

More Fly Posting

Dear Weight Watchers

I have said this before and I have no doubt it will get a mention again. Fly Posting is illegal and makes the place look a mess no matter how well intentioned the person doing it is. So don't do it.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

New Tree

A new tree, a Hungarian Oak has been planted in Princess Gardens near the place where an 80 year old tree recently was cut down. It will take a few years to get anywhere near the size of the Holm Oak it's replacing. The Holm Oak had developed a large crack in it's trunk and had to go. Personally, while it is sad to see a tree cut down, I think the area does look better. The old tree was big and a bit overpowering for the position it was in. I shall watch the progress of the new tree with interest.

Something else that happened today was the announcement by TOR2, the bin and recycling company, that from now on there would only be two persons on each wagon instead of three. Now it doesn't take a genius to work out that it will take longer to collect both the rubbish and the recyclable stuff. While I haven't had any problems with collections, except last week when I forgot to put the rubbish out, I have noticed that there is a bit of a build up of traffic when the TOR2 wagons come along our road (lots of parked cars in a not exactly wide road). And what a nice time to tell one third of your work force that their services are no longer needed. Just before Christmas.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

News re Tree. From the Herald Express

A NEW tree is to be planted in Torquay's Princess Gardens.

The deciduous Hungarian Oak will replace the giant Holm Oak which had to be felled for safety reasons.

The replacement Hungarian Oak (Quercus frainetto) will be planted on Wednesday next to the site of the removed tree.

Cllr Dave Butt, cabinet member for community services, said: "Unfortunately, the Holm Oak had to be removed but we have endeavoured to find a suitable replacement in a location as close as possible to the site of the removed tree.

"The new Hungarian Oak, which is currently around five metres tall, is a lovely tree and will add to the beauty of the promenade for years to come."

Council tree officer Neil Coish said: "A huge amount of hard work goes into the Bay's tree planting programme for residents and visitors to enjoy.

"We take our responsibility for our trees around the Bay very seriously and will only cut one down as a last resort if it is found to be dying, diseased or a hazard.

"In this instance, where it has not been possible to save the tree, we are really pleased to be able plant a new tree close by."

**********************                                                                     **********************

That was quick. Has the Town Hall finally got fed up with constant critisim regarding their tree felling policy. So far the score seems to be 700 cut down and 60 new trees planted in the last few years.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Well Done Adrian Sanders

Well done Adrian. Yesterday, just in case you missed it, there was a vote in the Mother of all Parliaments (which is looking increasingly tatty these days) to make poor people ineligible to attend University. Turns out to get into university these days it's how many pound coins you've got, not how many "A" levels you have. Nine thousand pound coins and you can go to Uni for a year, the average course is 3 years so twenty seven thousand coins is what you need to get a degree. Plus what you have to spend just to stay alive. Mine cost less than a hundred quid but that was 30 years ago. No I didn't buy it from some fake American University, it came thanks to a great idea by Harold Wilson. Which proves that politicians can have good ideas from time to time.

Anyway, back to Adrian. He is our local MP and a LibDem. Before the last election the LibDems tried to get our vote by promising to vote against any rise in fees for students. The head LibDem made this promise but the moment he got a sniff of power he began to look for ways to rationalise the fact that he would have to break his promise in order not to fall out with his new lover that nice Mr Cameron.

The story I did read was that Adrian Sanders wasn't going to vote yesterday as he had an important meeting here in Torquay with a government minister about Health Care in the Bay. As Adrian wasn't going to vote with the coalition on this occasion and the government minister was obviously going to side with Mr Cameron their absence would have cancelled each other out. The fact that Adrian Sanders voted against must, I think, mean the government minister didn't come down to Torquay to make sure Health Care in the Bay was being catered for but decided putting up university fees was more important. All this mean is there was one more vote for and one more vote against which didn't make any difference to the outcome but showed that the government don't care about Health Care in the Bay. Sad state of affairs but not surprising.

Now voting against your side when you are in government isn't some thing you do lightly. Then up at the top don't think, "Oh well he cast his vote according to his principals therefore he must be a good chap." No, what them at the top think is, "He voted against us, the bastard."

So well done Adrian.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

An Other Tree Turned to Sawdust. Council caught up in conspiracy plot.

What it used to look like

Now

When a tree comes to the end of it's life out there in a forest where there is nobody about to hear it fall, it does so without a sound according to some philosophers. Others maintain that even if there is no one standing in the forest waiting patiently for the tree to fall it will still make lots of noise when it does. Who cares? The tree doesn't, it's just a tree. Usually out in the forest trees dies slowly, they get old and a branch falls of and then an other and then a few more. The tree ends up with gashes in the truck and water gets in and the poor tree slowly rots from the inside out. All this can take years and the only ones who have any interest in this process are younger trees hanging around waiting for enough space to grow up in. Plus the local insects that make a living on rotting wood. Or maybe a tree will get struck by lightening and depart from life in a loud bank accompanied by lots of heat. Or an other tree will suffer the millions of volt of electricity sent down from the heavens and set the forest on fire and our poor tree will be consumed by the flames. Or our brave hero who has been growing tall and straight for a couple of hundred years will live in the Amazon Rain Forest and meet it's end, more and more often these days, like so many of it's colleagues, under the deadly assault of a chain saw.

Now a tree living in an urban environment is almost certain to face the chain saw style end. Councils everywhere can not afford to have trees dropping rotting branches on passers by. You could lose too many council tax payers like that given the number of trees planted in urban areas.

One of the problems round here is that Torquay is basically a town that change from a few hovels round the harbour to a fashionable watering hole in the mid to late 19 century. And one thing Victorians loved to do was plant trees all over the place. This trend continued through the Edwardian period and still continues today. So its not surprising some of these trees are getting on in years and are reaching the stage of dropping branches on to the heads of passers by. The council sensibly have a quick look at all it's trees to see if action is needed to prevent this happening. Given the "I'm going to sue for every penny I can get" culture we have imported from America you can't blame them.

A couple of days ago a large Holm Oak in the Princess Gardens near the theatre developed a large crack, nice friendly tree this, giving the council a warning it was in dropping branch mode. So down it came but not without some controversy. The council here have a history of doing things in a way that would baffle most people. I mean we live here and we have to put up with it but it doesn't mean we like the way our town is run. Headless chickens, sometimes vindictive headless chickens, or even single-minded headless chickens spring, to mind. So when the Herald Express ran the story about the tree coming down there were about 30 comments downloaded suggesting an ulterior motive for cutting the tree down. Sorry the tree was in a sadly dangerous state. A two foot long crack had opened up and a branch weighing about 5 tonnes was likely to end up crashing on to a nearby shelter. A shelter used mostly by visitors to our fair town. If the council hadn't cut the tree down I can imagine the headlines in the Walsall Gazette or the Rotherham Recorder, " 20 Tourists Killed When Tree Falls" "Torbay Council didn't do anything for fear of upsetting locals."

So one this occasion the council have got it right, I wish they would get into the habit of getting things right.

PS Oh yes. Nearly forgot. The person, a professional protestor by the sound of him, who went down to Princess Gardens yesterday and called one of the guys cutting the tree down a Nazi didn't do his cause any good either.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Birthdays

It was my birthday yesterday and I got 3 emails and a text message from various family members reminding me of the fact. When I was a child I liked reminding, usually with a birthday present, that I was a year older. But now I am not so sure. Then today I checked my bank account and there was a little present from The Department of Works and Pensions which was nice. Only £10 but it all helps. Now I couldn't remember getting this gift last year so I had a look through my old bank statements and there it was, the same amount, £10, paid in early December 2009.

Haven't the DWP heard of inflation?

Still no snow in Torquay.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

More Blood Letting But Still No Snow

No snow in Torquay but still fairly cold, down to -4 Thursday night and day time never got above zero.

What else? Oh yes after dumping Nick Bye, Torbay's best ever and least loved elected mayor the con party have also ditched the leader of their councillors here in the Bay. For the second time in less than a year. After getting rid of Councillor Kevin Carroll last April he got re-elected on the promise he would be a "cuddlier" councillor from then on. It turned out he wasn't "cuddlier" enough for a majority of his fellow con party councillors who backed a vote of no confidence in the poor guy. Then the deputy mayor Councillor Chris Lewis quit his post so he could run for mayor. saying, "I think Nick (Bye) has done a good job but I couldn't criticise some aspects of what was going on if I remained in the cabinet and as Deputy Mayor. I thought it would better to have a clean break and a new approach. To be the leader you have to put forward your own manifesto. I am now free within the group to say what I believe in." He wants to be mayor and leader of con party.

Quick question here Chris; Why couldn't you criticise what was going on if you thought it was wrong when you were deputy mayor. You just had to stand up at the time and do the honourable thing and say, "This is wrong. I quit" or have you just become aware that it's wrong now you are no longer deputy mayor.

So what we have got at the moment is a mayor who because he doesn't have the backing of his party, doesn't have much power. There is no deputy mayor and no leader of the party. So the Con Party could be considered to be in a state of disarray, not a nice state to be in with an election in 5 months. I know a week in politics is a long time but not when you go round shooting yourselves in the foot, or even both feet.

Mind you the opposition round here might not be in a position even to catch up with, never mind overtake the heavily limping con party. People round here still call a local barn the Spanish Barn because some tourists from the Iberian Peninsular slept there for a week 400 years ago. With memories like that we can still remember that 4 years ago the Lib Dems closed most of the public toilets in the Bay to save money. What did they want to save the money for you might ask? Well a few weeks later they voted for a massive increase in their out of pocket expenses; by a million quid more or less. The Con Party and the public protested this nonsense and we managed to get the toilets open again. And as soon as the Con Party got elected they did absolutely nothing about the expenses increase. Well what did you expect? Miracles?

Maybe it's time for the local Labour Party to re-invent themselves. No. No, lets get that right. It is TIME for the local Labour Party to come in from the wilderness like a joyful prophet riding into town on a donkey.

Either that or we could join Devon County Council and have done with trying to run the Bay ourselves because we have made a right mess of the job over the last 10 years.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Russia

So Russia get the World Cup. What a disappointment. Why didn't Ronald Regan bomb them while he had the chance? Sorry, only kidding but it does now mean England will not be able to stage the World Cup until I am in my nineties at least.

PS That 3rd goal against Germany. It was never over the line.

Monday, 29 November 2010

FA Cup 3rd Round

On Saturday Torquay United made it through to the 3rd round of the cup by beating Div 1 team Walsall one nil. The draw was held this evening and Torquay didn't get the dream draw, Man U at home, instead they came out of the pot 2nd to last to get a home game against Carlisle United. It may not come up as the most interesting draw of the round but is probably the round where a team has to travel the furthest. I feel sorry for Carlisle supporters. OK a trip to beautiful Torquay is something to look forward to, but not in deep midwinter. An other interestin draw is FC United of Manchester will get to play Portsmouth if the beat Brighton in a replay on Tuesday. Getting this far in the Cup isn't bad for a team that was only formed 5 years ago.
 
We had some snow here this evening, that is if you call 28 snowflakes snow. Tuesday is going to be a bad one, -3 overnight followed by a 30mph wind with Made in Siberia stamped all over it. I have a feeling I might ignore my doctor and not bother going for my usual brisk 30 minute walk on Tuesday.
 
A new pub opened in Torquay yesterday to buck the national trend of pubs closing down all over the place. True it isn't a brand new pub built from scratch but a re-opened second hand pub. Chaplins in Union St had been closed for a couple of years but it's been given a paint job and it's selling beer, food, tea and coffee. I might pop in and have a look tomorrow.
 

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Hollicombe Duck Pond


This is the duck pond in Hollicombe Park. That is it used to be a duck pond. It sprang a leak in the summer and most of the water went somewhere else. Bad news for the fish in the pond and bad news for the ducks who ended up living on the nearby beach before other accommodation could be found for them. Bad news for the small children who used to be brought here by their mothers' to feed the ducks.

The pond as you can see is circular. This is because when it was created the base of a gas holder was used back in 1970 when the gas holder became redundant. It had been hoped that the leak would be fixed, that would involve pumping out the remaining water, digging out a couple of thousand tonnes of soil and cleaning down to the brickwork. Once the brick work has been cleaned the leak has to be found and repaired. Then the soil put back and suitable vegetation planted and fish re-introduced. Not a massive job compared to building the International Space Station but never the less not one Torbay Council wish to undertake in these times of financial worry.

Next to this former gas holder is a smaller circle which is completely filled in and grassed over and

Ali-Way Community Recycling Enterprise which is based Hollicombe Community Resource Centre have a plan to use these two stone circles. The smaller one will become a Wild Life Garden and the larger one, the former duck pond, will be the site of a

Recycled Sculpture Trail. A what? I hear you mutter. No they are not going to tour the country looking for unused Henry Moore sculptures and plant the in the circle. The scrap sculptures will be made out of the materials we are presently and carefully putting in boxes every week to be collected by TOR2 and sent of the be recycled in a desperate but futile attempt to save the planet. Actually I don't have a problem with that idea. What I do have a problem with is where it's going. I.E. in the former duck pond. In order to create a Wild Life space in the smaller circle it will have to be dug up to some extent and to make the sculpture trail on the old duck pond it will have to be filled in. The old duck pond is half way towards being a wild life park as it is so why not make both it and the smaller circle an even larger wild life space and use the large space that is available future down the park where a 3rd gas holder once stood. (See 2nd photo).The area is doing nothing at the moment and is already covered with asphalt and perfect for the job. Then if money does become more freely available we can easily restore this much loved duck pond, even if it is only loved by the ducks, generations of whom have lived there.


To tell the truth the only way I can see the duck pond being restored is if a large enough group of volunteers come along with buckets, spades and bags of cement and do the job themselves. Back in the sixties all over the North of England canals had become clogged up and overgrown and no official body had the money or the will to fix them. That hundreds of canals are still in existence today is because they came under the care of such volunteer groups.

Poor Nick Bye

Poor Nick Bye. He's our elected Mayor by the way. His term of office is to end in May next year and he wishes to stand again. However he hasn't been the most popular elected mayor we have ever had. Come to think about it he has, but then he has also been our only elected mayor. A day or two ago he attended a selection meeting of local leading members of his party (con party) and they told him they didn't like him. They went even future and suggested that nobody liked him all that much and they were going to pick someone else to represent the con party next May. One slight puzzle about this meeting. Nick is mayor of Torbay yet senior members of the con party from Totnes, which is outside Torbay apparently attended. What's it got to do with them? We don't tell Totnes what to do so why should they have any say in the matter?

Nick is reported that he intends to challenge the decision and if the 2nd vote goes against him he might even consider standing for mayor anyway as an independent. Personally I wouldn't bother Nick. Now what I would do if I was a vindictive person would be look round and decide who amongst your party (con party) stabbed you in the back and spend the next 5 months you have left in office repeatedly stabbing them in the back. Metaphorically of course. I'm not suggesting actual bloodshed or real violence. But if you are not a vindictive person what I suggest you do is go into your office on Monday morning as if nothing had happened and continue trying your best for Torbay just as you always have. You never know, you might even pull something spectacular out of your hat and be carried shoulder high through the streets of Torquay by a grateful public. Remember what the late, great Harold Wilson said about a week in politics?

What ever you do, Nick, do it with either a very sharp, knife, a metaphorical knife that is, or with dignity.

PS Even though I voted in the referendum for an elected mayor I now believe the post should be scrapped. I would vote for any candidate who agrees with me to the point of saying, "If I am elected I will do absolutely nothing apart from telling the councillors the run the council like they are supposed to." The candidate would also have to take at least a 95% pay cut.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Am I alone in thinking this is Insane?

Hertfordshire County Council has been fined £100 000 for faxing details of a child sex abuse case to a member of the public. This penalty has been imposed under the Data Protection Act because the fax was sent by mistake to the wrong address. This mistake has cost Hertfordshire County Council dearly but should serve as a warning to other councils who are equally lax in their Data Protection.

Dead right except for one thing. If I do something wrong and end up in court and get fined the fine comes out of my income, so it is me, the wrong doer, who gets punished.

Now the person who sent the fax to the wrong address isn't paying this fine off at 10 quid a week for the next ten thousand weeks (192 years and 4 months). The county councillors who are in charge of running the council aren't either. So who is paying the fine? Yes that's right, 100 poor council tax payers who pay £1000 per year council tax for council services like roads kept clean, rubbish collected ever week, street lights, police driving around in cars  upholding the law and schools etc,etc. Not to pay fines.

So who gets the £100 000? What do they do with it? Why fine a county council in the first place when it's the innocent council tax payer who was nowhere near the fax machine when the send button was pressed who has to foot the bill? Or some drop in centre for old people or venerable children gets closed because the council have spent the money paying fines that end up in the treasury who wont even notice a sum like £100 000?

Madness.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Banksy is being watched



In case you are worried that some might walk off with our very own Banksy, remember the Boy drawing a Robot, worry no more. Someone has installed a Closed Circuit TV system to watch over the picture. Up there in the top left.

Con Trick

Still without work so I decided to work out a confidence trick to see if I could make a bit of extra spending money. I sat up in front of the computer half the night working out the details. I wrote everything down in Microsoft Word and decided to make a folder on my desk top to put the documents in. What to call the folder? Well Con sprang to mind (short for confidence trick) so I right clicked on the desktop and clicked new folder. Then I renamed it Con and clicked again. It still was named New Folder, I tried again and again con disappeared and New Folded reappeared. 5 times I tried before decided that my computer didn't want me to turn to crime as a way of making a living. Anyway in the cold light of day I don't suppose pretending to be a bank clerk in a Nigerian Bank with millions of pounds to give away would work too well.

PS Apparently CON is MS-DOS short hand for console and could cause your computer to blow up if you used it, so you can't. As the old saying has it, you learn something new every few months or so.

Fleet Street Closed To Buses

Santa came to town today and Fleet Street was closed to all traffic, including buses. A little demonstration for anyone who thinks buses should be banned from Fleet St. Chaos reigned in case you are wondering, but only on the buses. The rest of the town was going to be closed later for the procession to celebrate the switching on of the Christmas lights. Sorry there aren't any pictures here of the lights but I have seen most of then before. Anyway there are 4 bus stops in Fleet Street, each one had a notice explaining the problem and the solution, i.e. where to catch a bus from. Now these notices were placed over the timetable Stagecoach conveniently place on their bus stops but the difficulty here is that regular bus users don't look at timetables, they know when the buses are due and there for might not notice the notice. To this end Stagecoach had someone on duty to watch for people waiting uselessly at the stops.



As soon as someone appeared to be waiting she, the young lady who was on duty when I was down there would go and explain the situation. I noticed that on some occasions the people waiting took a little persuading, "Are you sure? I always catch the bus here."

Anyway I didn't wait for the main parade, just the Mass March of the Santas in aid of "Torbay Hospital League of Friends." It was headed by the most unlikely Fairy Godmother I have ever seen.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Dear Kate and William


So Wills and Kate, you are thinking of having the big do in Westminster Abbey. Come on, guys. Spread the jam about a bit. Your loyal subjects down here in in deepest damp Devon wouldn't mind is you used one of the many churches or even the registry office Torquay has to offer. I even know where there is an empty hotel handy for the sea front you and your entourage could move into for a few days while you were here. Think of the delights we have to offer, you could go for a balloon ride, not as exciting as a helicopter but much safer. (Something a married man has to consider). Once back down to earth you could have a look round Torre Abbey, built in the 11th century and quick glance at the Spanish Barn, used to accommodate 400 Spanish tourists back when the First Elizabeth was on the throne. Next day a bus ride to Brixham ( £4.50 for a day explorer, each that is, were not that generous). A trip round the Golden Hind, the new Fish Quay that everybody loves and maybe a look at Berry Head with stunning views of Torbay and visit the Napoleonic Fort. The council are doing it up at a cost of £0.6 million even though it is practically inaccessible to all but determined dog walkers, your grandmother would love it. Then there is Babbacombe with Bygones, a Victorian Museum followed by a stroll hand in hand round the Modal Village then down to Oddicombe Beach on the Cliff Railway, buy return tickets, much cheaper. On the beach watch out for falling rocks, the cliff down there is unstable but that just adds to the excitement.

For some shopping you could catch a 12 into Torquay. Ask the driver to put you off at Castle Circus so you can walk down Union Street, Torquay's very own Regent Street with many, many shops. Lots of them are closed at the moment but we do expect they will re-open at some time before the next ice age turns up. Try the charity shops by the bus stops, there's quiet of few of them so there is a big choice. Then there are a couple of big shops, try Primark before heading down Fleet Street past the recently to be opening soon Coyote Ugly pub. If it is open, it should be it's been 'Opening soon' for a long time, go in and have a dance on the bar, that's what it's there for. Go on, enjoy yourself. Anyway even if that isn't to your taste head down Fleet Street to the busiest shop in town. No, not Tesco's, not even the Edinburgh Wool Mill. The shop we are after is a bit further down on the right. Just before KFC. That's it, Poundland.

Well, that's just a few of Torquay's attractions. Before you dismiss it from your mind as not really practicable, I mean there is the problem of the Kingskerswell Bye Pass, why don't you pop down and have a look round. Millions of other people have, you might even like the place.

PS Next time you see your grandmother could you ask her to mention the Kingskerswell bye past to that nice Mr Cameron next time he pops over to see her. I believe he does come fairly often nowadays, there's nothing going on there is there? No, of course not, silly me.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Storm, rain and flooding

We had a bit of wind and rain down here in the South West. Mostly in Cornwall, here in Devon we got to slight edge of the rain. In some parts of Mid to South Cornwall over 50 mm of rain fell in a few hours. That kind of downpour can have only on result. If you have been watching the news today you will have seen the devastation caused. So far, thankfully it would appear no lives have been lose but many people have had their homes flooded and belongings destroyed.

Is this a sign of climate change? Well it could be, or maybe not. I've been around a long time and don't recall from the fifties and sixties the number of reports of flooding that have occurred in the last 15 years. What I do remember from when I lived in London about 20 years ago is a drainage engineer on TV who was concerned about the vast increase in the number of cars now on the roads. His concern wasn't the polluting or greenhouse gas effect of all these extra cars but the fact that so many households were moving toward two and three cars per house (even more by now) and the covering over of front gardens to provide car parking space would mean water ending up in the drains that previously would have been absorbed by the gardens. Could it be that the increase in the size of roads and urban spread is having a similar effect on a much larger scale.

Anyway as the photo shows we did have a lot of water on our roads here in Torquay, didn't slow the cars down much though.

PS Average rainfall in Cornwall is 850 mm per year. That's 70 mm per month so a lot of rain fell.

PPS I got soaked taking the photo but the camera was OK.

 

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Yearly Medical

Today I went for my medical. I have to have one every year now I am over a certain age. When I worked for Stagecoach the company paid for my medicals but now I am on my own so to speak it can cost a lot of money. My own doctor's group practice charge £105 but I found a place in Teignmouth that does it for £45. So a phone call (01626 777730) to arrange a time and date and a free bus ride later I have had my eyes tested and my heart listened to and a couple of other things there is no need to go into here and the medical was done. The doctor, a delightful lady who is even older than me expressed a desire to see me in a year's time and I expressed the same desire to see her also in a year's time. At home I checked the application form to renew my licence and posted it of. In a week or two I should get a licence back that will allow me to drive until next December.


Teignmouth beach and Pier on a beautiful November day.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Cockington Hall

My walk to day took me to
Cockington Village, get the number 12 from Torquay or Paignton to Livermead Cliff Hotel and walk up Cockington Lane. It's about a mile and very slightly uphill and an easy, mostly road free trip. As well as the village there is a large park with Cockington Court at the centre. There are renovations going on but there is still something to see. One of those things I had a brief walk round was the organic kitchen garden. There was a sign proudly proclaiming the compost used was peat free and an other suggesting, quiet strongly that buying a water butt would be a very green idea as the average house could catch enough water to fill a water butt many times over in a year and help to save water and therefore the planet.


There was also a small cafe selling drinks, sweets and other odds and ends. So I decide to have a cup of coffee. £1.50 and served in the cup you can see in one of the photos. It took me about 10 minutes to drink the coffee and a few seconds to throw it in the bin provided. It will from there head to a land fill site where it will last for ever. Now that's what I call consistent.


Friday, 12 November 2010

Post in Fleet Street

These things get hit regularly but I don't think a bus did this as the drivers all keep to the company speed limit of ten mph and this looks like it was hit by something going faster than 10 mph.

Nick Bye is a masochist.

Nick Bye, our elected Mayor here in Beautiful Torbay is obviously a masochist. Newspaper reports in today's Herald Express confirm a rumour that has been going round the Bay for years now.

After years of suffering the slings and arrows of high office he has decided to come out and admit that the abuse that some of the inhabitants of Torbay have been throwing at him virtually from day one of his kingship hasn't put him off trying to have an other four years of taking the nastiness that went with most of his first 4 years. He has announced that he intends to put his name forward to be the conservative party candidate in next May's election. Personally I think he is a very brave man, but then again there is a £65 000 salary at the end of each year. Not that I believe that would have influenced him one little bit.

One other piece of good news, the bomb in Plymouth has been removed and dropped in the sea and blown up. Good news for the people of Plymouth but not so good for any fish that happened to swim up to the bomb as it was sinking thinking, "Does that look like food. I'll just give it a quick nibble and see." One mistake they are not likely to repete in a hurry.

An other piece of news is that the weather forecasters appear to have got their predictions wrong last night, round here anyway. Storm force winds and heavy rain never turned up so the roof is still intact.

And finally I had a look on the job search web site a while ago. Three new jobs posted so far today. One was offering 4 hours work and an other 7 hours. That's a week not a day. Not worth getting up for. Woops. Does that count as one refusal of work, or two even. One more like that and I'm out. Benefits stopped; that's me done for, I'll soon be living in a church hall. Hope it has an internet connection.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Plymouth, Boom Town

There is an unexploded bomb turned up in Plymouth 65 years after the Second World War ended. There were over a hundred air raids on Plymouth due to there being a big navel dockyard there so it isn't surprising that at odd bomb turns up from time to time. When I heard the news I had visions of people spending the night on camp beds in some local church hall or school. A TV reporter would talk to elderly people who would mention the wartime spirit and children would run around in the back ground excited by the unusualness of the days events. A police or army spokes person would explain that, "A device has been found and for reasons of security we feel that moving people out of their houses while it is decided what action needs to be taken to make the area safe. Sorry no other comment." (Why don't they just say an unexploded bomb has turned up and we don't want anyone blown to pieces).

The next item was a bit more serious but it evoked a similar vision of people being put up in church halls on camp beds with children running round while mum or dad explained that the hadn't taken the third job that had been offered and their benefit had been stopped and the church hall was the only place left for them to sleep. Thank god for the Church of England having so many under used church halls. Hang on a minute; There are 2.5 million people unemployed in the UK, I have a feeling that the country is going to run out of church halls before we run out of unemployed people that just don't wont to work. No no, no. Hang on an other minute. That's not right either. I know that most unemployed people (I am one myself) would sooner work then live of the state. Shouldn't they get first crack at any jobs that are available. I mean picture the situation; Person A and person B don't have jobs. Person A wants a job but can't find one. Maybe he/she doesn't have any experience or is over 50 or maybe there just aren't any jobs going. Person B doesn't want a job even if there was one on offer 5 minutes walk from home. So who should the job centre send for any job that does turn up?

Well in truth the problem isn't that the government are spending too much on benefits for people who don't want to work but that they are doing nothing to increase the number of jobs available to those of us non workers who do want a job. Not only are they not spending money on creating new jobs, they are about to spend billions less on jobs that at present exist but wont this time next year. What clown voted in that nice Mr Cameron? It wasn't me. Text, Twitter or email this to Mr Cameron before it is too late; "Get a couple of million of us into work and the Tax revenue would easily pay the for the benefits of those who really don't care if the never work in their entire life."

PS I titled this post "Boom Town Plymouth". but a recent report stated that for every advertised job there are at least 7 people looking for work. Not exactly Boom Town and I would like to apologise for misleading you, my reader.

PPS Some one has added something to our Banksy. Vandal!

Friday, 5 November 2010

Get Rid of Cap Locks Key

A few days ago I heard an item on the radio about a web site that asks people to write a novel in a month, the month being November. The novel had to be over 50000 words long which means writing 50000 ÷ 30 = 16667 words per day. So why not make a start thought I. So far I have written 267 words in 5 days but I have plenty of time to catch up. Even if I don't make the 50000 word minimum I will still publish my effort. It's working title is "Aliens Land in Torquay and No One Notices."

One of my problems with this project is that I never learned to touch type, never really needed to. So it's two finger stuff and look at the keyboard whilest typing. One of the things that happens when I AM DOING THIS IS A LINE OF TYPE IN UPPER CASE WHICH i HAVE TO DELETE AND WRITE AGAIN > It happens because I press the caps locks key instead of the shift key and is a pain in the neck and a waste of time. So I thought of taking the keyboard apart and diconecting the caps locks key so this wouldn't happen. Then I looked on the web for an easier solution. And boy, was it easy.

Click on this shortcut and then click on Disable Caplocks Key . Then click OK a few times, switch the computer off and back on and now your caps lock key acts as a shift key. Bit of a problem if you do want to write in UPPER CASE LETTERS ALL THE TIME BUT THAT'S LIKE SHOUTING at someone and should be discouraged. This will not work on Windows 7 but it works fine on XP. For Windows Vista and 7 you might need to look a bit further. Try here

PS You might be wondering why the picture of a Rolls Royce engine from a Qantas A380 is up there at the top of the page. In Jan next I am going to Australia and I have the picture on my desktop to remind me to write my will before I go.

 

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

You Can Tell It's Been a Quiet Week.



There was a report a few days ago by an expert who stated that alcohol was more damaging to society than crack cocaine or heroin. This is an expert speaking so I guess we must all give up our beer and wine and the occasional nip of whiskey and learn how to recognise a drug dealer when we see one on the street and learn how to take cocaine and heroin. Should do wonders for the economy of certain South American and Far Eastern countries. Then when we are all hopelessly addicted the so called expert can have an other go at compiling a report that will almost certainly be as useless as this one.


It also seems, much to that nice Mr Cameron's obvious distress, that the European Human Rights people (note; they are not the same as the EU) have decided that prisoners should, correction must, be allowed to vote in elections. The problem is do they vote in the constituency where the prison the are currently staying in is situated, or where they were living when the midnight knock on the door announced their sad change of status from voter to non voter. A third alternative; considering how many prisoners there are at the moment maybe they should have an MP who's constituency is Her Majesties Prisons. If this alternative is adopted, and I don't think it will be, 99.9% of my brilliant ideas are ignored, then might I suggest the Nick Glegg gets his name down pretty damn quick because it the only chance he has of being an MP after the next election (sadly over 4 years off).


An finally after 700 years the war with France is finally over. No more fighting. Just squabbling over who's turn it is to play with the Aircraft Carrier. Oh, and the Nuclear Bombs. Should be fun.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Waiting in the rain.

 

The first part of this post happened a few days ago on the sea front. Imagine you are driving a number 12 towards Newton Abbot. A little way in front of you is an other number 12 also heading for Newton Abbot. The 12 in front indicates it is going to stop at the next bus stop, you on the other hand don't have to stop. You also know the bus in front isn't anywhere near full. So do you, A) stop behind the other bus at the stop and wait until it fills up and then follow it down the road and possibly do the same at the next bus stop or B) go past the other bus and continue down the road there by picking the people waiting at the next bus stop a minute to two sooner. A) is OK but b) is better.

Now change the situation slightly. The bus in front of you isn't a number 12. It isn't even the same bus company. It's a number X80 and it is indicating it's intention to stop at the next stop. There are people waiting at the stop, they could want the X80 but more likely they are waiting for the number 12. The X80 only goes as far as Torquay Harbour but the 12 goes to the top of town and then onto Newton. Also the people at the stop are more likely to have Stagecoach return or day tickets and therefore less likely to wont the X80 than your number 12. So what do you do? A) Stop behind the other bus or B) go past the other bus and continue down the road there by picking the people waiting at the next bus stop a minute to two sooner.

When you are the poor sod stood at the bus stop in the wind and the rain waiting for a bus to Newton Abbot in the first scenario you don't really care but in the second scenario you can get very upset when the bus driver chooses B.

 

The second part of the post happened in the early hours of this morning when

British Summer Time ended, hopefully we will never see it again. Right now we are working on Greenwich Mean Time and will continue with that until the spring. Then we should go onto British Standard Time which is the same as British Summer Time but without the inconvenience of changing back to Greenwich Mean Time next October. There is a move a foot to scrap the changing of the clocks in winter so we get lighter evenings at the expense of darker mornings. As I tend to get up late in the morning I know which I prefer.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Save the Lobster

You might have read the story about the Emperor being shot. No not some foreign country's head of state but a red deer that for the last 12 years has been running wild on Exmoor. He was believed by some to be the biggest wild land animal in the UK. He was 9 feet tall and had been photographed many times in his long life. Twelve is a good age for a wild deer. The name was given to him by one of the people who photographed him though it is doubtful the stag actually answered to his name. And the claim to be the biggest is in some doubt as well. Anyway he was shot, probably by a trophy hunter, right in the middle of the rutting season which was a bit unsporting if you ask me and people are up in arms about it. Him being shot that is. Now I should point out a couple or three things; if his name had been Snotty of Exmoor or Breaks Wind Easily of Exmoor no one would have heard a thing about his death. Shooting deer is an everyday thing. Thousands are shot every year, either for trophies or for culling. With out culling we would have the sight of elderly deer starving to death in quiet corners of moor land Britain. Deer, once they get beyond a certain age and their teeth wear down, don't have an NHS to look after then, younger deer don't take pity on them. They don't think, "That could be my dad", or "There but for the grace of God", and chew grass till it is nice and soft and mushy and walk up to the old deer and feed then mouth to mouth. Nature isn't like that, nature used to provide predators like wolves and bears to come along and 'take care' of the sick, lame and old. But we, people that is, got rid of the wolves and bears so we have to do the job, either in the form of trophy hunters or gamekeepers.

An other thing to think about if the shooting of the Emperor bothers you, when you drive down a country lane and see a herd of cattle or sheep, do you point to one of the cows and say to the kids "Look, there's Daisy. One day soon we could be eating part of her. in the meanwhile who fancies a Big Mac?" No, we don't think twice (well vegetarians do) about eating beef, chicken, lamb, pork or fish. We just do it. And why not? We'd soon run out of interesting things to eat otherwise.

If you want to get all gooey about one animal that is killed regularly but isn't on the diet of most people because a) it's too expensive and b) it's hardly worth eating for it's nutritional value then spare a thought for the poor lobster. Eaten mostly in expensive restaurants as a 'show off' dish but lobsters can easily live for well over 100 years. I mean would you go to the Galapagos Islands and eat a tortoise that could well have meet Charles Darwin? No. But people eat lobsters. Could it be because they aren't so well connected.

PS To those few who came across The Emperor of Exmoor regularly I can understand why you are sorry he is dead. If you get to know an animal quiet well it is always sad when they go. But all the rest who have just heard about it on the news; sorry I don't understand what all the fuss is about.

Any one got £130 million to spare.

Today appears to be the day. Will we get a bypass or will we have to sort out the road between Torquay and the Penn Inn roundabout ourselves. It's 5 miles from the outskirts of Torquay through Kingskerswell to Penn Inn. From Penn Inn it is possible to drive to Glasgow and beyond on either dual carriageway or motorway, only the first 10 miles of that is non motorway driving. It's just the first or last 5 miles that causes the problem. Now lets look at that 5 miles from my experience. If I leave Torquay at 9 am on a Sunday morning I can, in a coach, be at Collumpton Services in 45 mins (33 miles). But I don't always leave at 9 am on a Sunday morning, sometimes it's 3pm on a Thursday afternoon. The longest it has ever taken me at this time is 1 hour 10mins. The extra 25 mins was spent getting through Kingskerswell. I have known it worse coming back into Torquay, sometimes an extra half hour.

Now an other journey I made last Friday. Torquay to Hatfield, Google maps said it would take 4hours 5 minutes and as I wanted to be there by 10 am at the latest I left at 5, plenty of time. Actually I got there at 9:13 but I did take a wrong turn (old-fashioned satnav, not worth the paper it was written on) and had to drive 3 miles in the wrong direction before reaching a roundabout and heading back. Getting there at that time meant I could sit down and have a cooked breakfast which was nice. At 5pm I decided it was time to leave the family gathering and head for home. With a brief stop at Bristol for fuel I got home at 10:58. Not bad. No, hang on, that's two minutes less 6 hours. What the hell had I been doing to take 2 hours longer. I tell you what I had been doing, I had been driving on the M25 at evening rush hour. Nose to tail 5 miles an hour top speed between long periods of complete inactivity. On and on like that for miles and miles, road works to the right of me , road works to the left of me, on into the road to hell I drove. Even when I reached the M4 to situation hardly altered until I was passing Reading. Hundreds of thousands, millions maybe, all trying to get home from work, many of them from London where they do proper jobs, not like us down here in Devon who try and sell ice cream and boat rides at inflated prices to luckless visitors who only want a cheap holiday.

So if Big Brother is going to spend money on road improvements will it be for us few thousand down here in remotest LibDem voting Devon or those millions of Tory voters in Middle England?

We will see, but I wouldn't hold your breath for too long if I were you.

The photo is Kingskerswell on a bad day.

 

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Hi Wayne, You haven't got a hundred thousand to spare have you? I'd be most greatful.

So Wayne Rooney now 'earns' about twice as much more in a month than I will earn in my entire life. And that's even if I live to be a hundred and carry on drawing my index linked pensions for the next 34 years. Portsmouth almost went bankrupt last week. Wayne could have put the club back on a secure financial footing and not even have noticed. He could buy a house the same size as the one he is living in and pay off the mortgage in a year, it took me 20 years to pay of the mortgage in what I would describe as a discreet town house. I could visit my sisters in Australia 28 times with what he earns in day where as I how to save up for 3 years to be able to afford to go once.

What I can't understand is that people still go and watch football even though a day at a match for two people must cost a serious chunk of a weekly wage.

Once when I was selling a house I asked the estate agent how he decided what a house was worth. "What ever somebody will pay for it." was his reply. So I suppose as long as there are people out there willing to pay for their football then Wayne should be paid what ever he can get and good luck to him.

PS. I hope he starts scoring goals again soon or christians being fed to the lions will be a child's picnic in comparison.

PPS. Portsmouth are indebt to £120 million and their creditors almost pulled the plug. Man U are in debt to three quarters of a billion quid and that amount doesn't show any sign of going down. Will the day ever come when even the name Man U can not sustain that kind of debt. Think Northern Rock and other banking names before you answer.

PPPS. The total indebtedness of the Premier League and Championship League football clubs must be about 10 billion pounds. There's whole countrys out there who aren't even worth that. Is football living a little beyond it's means or is simply so far out it can never get back.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Had a day out today.

A few weeks ago, McColl's packed up, went to the wall, ceased trading, went bust, call it what you will, it meant I was out of a job and bored silly sitting at home all day long. So I emailed a couple or 3 coach firms with my very impressive CV. OK I think it's impressive. A couple of weeks went by and nothing. Then one of the companies got in touch and said they maybe able to make use of my driving skills on a part time, as needed basis. Yes said I, no problem with that, just give me a day or twos notice and I be behind a steering wheel like I had never left. I did a trial run in one of their coaches just to make sure I wasn't lying when I said I could drive a coach. Then I sat by the phone waiting.

On Monday my persistence, I can be very persistent at sitting by a phone, finally paid of and it rang and a nice voice at the other end of the phone line said, "Can you do a day out to Looe and Polperro on Wednesday." Which is why there is a photo of me up there standing in Polperro looking out to sea with the harbour behind me. Hopefully the first of many such days out over the weeks, month and years to came. One little thing I did find out is the company only insure their coaches for drivers up to the age of 70 so I can't work on for ever. Probably not a bad thing.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Buses in Malta

A friend of mine is on holiday in Malta and he sent me this picture of a couple of buses waiting time in the bus station at Valetta. In March next year Arriva will be taking over the bus services in Malta which are run at present by driver owners and if you think Stagecoach get lots of complains about drivers and bus services it's a drop in the ocean compared with these guys. Smoking and using mobiles while driving, rude and swearing at passengers, driving past bus stops, not turning up, throwing people of the bus for not having the right change, unhelpful to lost souls. These are some of the compains I have read in the Malta Times.  But Arrive are going to replace the whole fleet with low floor, air con, fairly modern buses and employ all the bus drivers. Uniforms, ticket machines, code of conduct, etc. So if you have ever been to Malta and think the bus service is quite 'quaint' and the old buses are wonderful then you haven't long to get there and take loads of photos and go for some interesting if at times uncomfortable bus rides.  

Monday, 18 October 2010

A Public Service Announcement re Microwave Ovens

Microwaving  Water!

A 26-year old man decided to have a cup of coffee. He took a cup of water and put it in the microwave to heat it up (something that he had done numerous times before). I am not sure how long he set the timer for, but he wanted to bring the water to a boil. When the timer shut the oven off, he removed the cup from the oven. As he looked into the cup, he noted that the water was not boiling, but suddenly the water in the cup 'blew up' into his face. The cup remained intact until he threw it out of his hand, but all the water had flown out into his face due to the build-up of energy.  His whole face is blistered and he has 1st and 2nd degree burns to his face which may leave scarring.

He also may have lost partial sight in his left eye. While at the hospital, the doctor who was attending to him stated that this is a fairly common occurrence and water (alone) should never be heated in a microwave oven. If water is heated in this manner, something should be placed in the cup to diffuse the energy such as a wooden stir stick, tea bag, etc, (nothing metal).

General  Electric's Response:

Thanks for contacting us; I will be happy to assist you. The e-mail that you received is correct. Microwaved water and other liquids do not always bubble when they reach  boiling point. They can actually  get superheated and not bubble at all. The superheated liquid will  bubble up out of the cup when it is moved or when something like a spoon or tea bag is put into it.

To prevent this from  happening and causing injury, do not heat any liquid for more than two minutes per cup. After heating, let the cup  stand in the microwave for thirty seconds before moving it  or adding anything into it.

Here is what our local science teacher had to say on the matter: 'Thanks for the microwave warning. I have seen this happen before. It is caused by a phenomenon known as super heating. It can occur any time water is heated and will particularly occur if the vessel that the water is heated in is new, or when heating a small amount of water (less than half a cup).

What happens is that the water heats faster than the vapor bubbles can form. If the cup is very new, then it is unlikely to have small surface scratches inside it that provide a place for the bubbles to form. As the bubbles cannot form and release some of the heat that has built up, the liquid does not boil, and the liquid continues to heat up well past its boiling point.

What then usually happens is that the liquid is bumped or jarred, which is just enough of a shock to cause the bubbles to rapidly form and expel the hot liquid. The rapid formation of bubbles is also why a carbonated beverage spews when opened after having been  shaken.'

I have never come across this but is has happened so be warned.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

More on Banks in Torquay

It would seem that the art work on the Grovsner Hotel, opposite the now closed Sherwood Hotel in Belgrave Rd is by Banksy. The photo shows some workpersons covering the drawing, apparently with perspex to protect it and it will be unvailed on 19 Oct, no idea what time. The second photo shows that someone has already added a little extra in the form of what looks like a can of coke in the robots right hand. 
 
More photos here

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Last Miner Out

Well I stayed up last night to watch the first miner brought up and now I have waited up for the last miner, Luis Urzua to make it to the surface, he could be up by 02:00. This means it has taken less than 24 hours to clear the mine. A brilliently organised resue operation that does everyone involved it it credit. There are still 4 or 5 medics down in the mine who will be brought up shortly. When the last miner left after 69 days did he turn to the medics and say, "Would the last man out please turn the lights out."

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

From Chile



It's 0215 on Wednesday morning, or 22:15 in Chile and I have been watching a BBC special from the mine in Chile. It was hoped earlier that the rescue would have started by now but the rescue capsule has been lowered into the shaft twice now but has returned to the surface and minor adjustment have been made. Some of those adjustments have been made with what is known as impact technology; that is, with a hammer. I don't expect the problem to be serious but it is causing a delay. I had hoped to stay up until the first miner was brought up but all that is happening is the two reporters are wandering around the site filling in time.



It's now 02:30 and I have decided to wait until 03:00 to see if anything happens. The capsule has gone down again on a test run but without any news from the crew working round the shaft. The capsule didn't have a medic in so it is an other test run.



Now 02:45 and the capsule is still going down, hang on, it's stopped. Now it's going again.

02:58, the capsule is coming up, I'm going to wait for a while and see if anything happens other than talk.

03:04 The reporter has just said that the next time the capsule goes down it will contain a medic which will signal the start of the final stage of the rescue. The capsule has just emerged. The medic is getting in and has got out again and the oxygen tanks are being changed. Now more adjustments and at 03:16 he has got in again, no he's out and more work with a spanner.

03:19 The capsule has started down, in half an hour it should return with a miner. I'll wait up, it's not as if I need to get up early in the morning.



03:30 The capsule, we are now told, doesn't contain a medic but a mining expert who is inspecting the shaft. He will return to the surface once that inspection is complete before a medic will go down and the first miner will be brought up, hopefully in half an hour.



03:36 Pictures from inside the mine. The capsule has arrived and the miners are greeting the capsule's passenger.



03:55 The capsule has started up with not the mining expert but the first of the miners. We can now see the top of the shaft with the winch wheel turning pulling Florencio Avalos to the surface and a life that will proably not include going down a mine again.



04:10 Capsule has reached the surface.

04:20 The capsule is now going down again with a paramedic and I am going to bed.




Friday, 8 October 2010

Is this graffiti, Art or Banksy

YesterdayI saw this painted on the wall of the Grovener Hotel in Belgrave Rd.

I know it has wasn't there 3 weeks ago which was the last time I went down Belgrave Rd and I don't know who painted it. Was it Banksy, it looks like his style?

I wonder how long it will last.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Rock Walk after Dark

Must try harder, a lot harder.
 
The first photo was taken from the top of the cliff looking towards Tor Abbey Gardens and the Grand Hotel. That isn't too bad. But the second photo was taken from street level and I really tried to show the lights off but it was just about the best shot I could get no matter how hard I tried.
 
I am certainly not going to travel to Brixham to see if His Holiness, the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Chris Lewis's claim that Rock Walk would be visable from that far flung corner of Torbay.
 
A bank of coloured flood lights are needed to restore the cliff face to it's former night time glory. The third photo shows that some effort has been made but that is it. Three lights. All white. The sum total of all the flood lights lights illuminating the cliff face. Not exactly overwhelming is it? 
 
Torbay can be seen from space but I don't think Rock Walk can.