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?


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.