Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Tiger to Die Before Xmas
For the last couple of years we have been riding the Tiger Line (or tiger-lion as I heard a young lad call it recently)
This bus service between Aylesbury and Chesham has built a strong and regular passenger base of workers and twirlies. (Those with bus passes who enquire of the driver of any bus around 9.30am  Are we twirly?)

The operating company has recently sold the Tiger Line routes and they are to cease on Friday Dec 23.  They have provided a sterling service with a smile and it is a shame to see their demise....

....Even if some of the passengers were a little unusual.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Horace Foster R.I.P
We leaned today that Horace Foster sadly died yesterday.
We were privileged to spend a week cruising the BCN in the company of H, as he was known, in 2009. As one of the last commercial boatmen on the BCN, he was a real gentleman. We joined the BCNS Explorer Cruise in June 2009 along with 24 other boats and H, as he was known, was steering nb Jjinad with his friend  Trisha Higgs.  Each morning H would be set off before some of us were out of bed travelling the canals he had worked on day-boats in the past. Each evening we caught him up and enjoyed a relaxed chat with him and Trish. I always marvelled at his tolerance of us who only play at canal boating but I don't think he ever thought of us in that way. He was so generous with his time we shall miss him. 
The only photograph I have of H is this one from the 2009 Explorer Cruise of him at the tiller of Jjinad - a typical and memorable stance.
Winter is coming?
Woke this morning to the first ice of this winter.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Smaller Staples
You might think, as She who must be obeyed does, that I spend all my time on the Internet. That is not true, as my spend at Staples for paper and ink jet cartridges  illustrates.  Over the past three years I have, according to the company itself, spent about £350 in various of their stores around the country. I thought the other day that it was about time to check the status of my Rewards.  Dreaming how I could spend my 2% cashback I called Staples Rewards office and was informed that I had not spent enough to qualify for anything at all.  Apparently in the small print there are conditions which I had not read regarding the level of spend in each calendar quarter.  They have recently changed the scheme reducing the spend level and changing the discount to 10% but only on paper and ink jet cartridges. That sound like good news until you see how they are financing it -
By a 13% reduction in the contents of the ink cartridge

Sunday, 4 December 2011

I agree with de Gaule
Every year since UK has been in the Common Market we have paid more into the organisation than we have taken out.  Some years this has been in a ration of 2:1.  Mrs Thatcher clawed some of this back but Mr. Blair partially relinquished this rebate.

When the Euro was created we, wisely, declined the invitation to join. Events recently have demonstrated the great weakness of this arrangement: it has always been run by politicians rather than economists.  When it was established the applicants were set financial and economic convergence criteria to achieve in order to join. Italy did not meet the criteria but as a founding member of the EU it was politically unthinkable to exclude it.  France then insisted that Greece should be admitted as it was philosophically unthinkable for a European organisation  to exclude  the country of Socrates. A single currency area by definition must behave as a single economic area: funds must flow from the strong to the weak area within the zone. If not, the individual countries remain individuals.  Germany has a strong economy: if it left the Eruo its currency would strengthen significantly reducing its economic competitiveness. so why is it reluctant to pay the debts of its weaker members?

I have always been a strong supporter of a well-planned and executed customs union. However, when we were given the opportunity to vote in a referendum 35 years ago I read through the Treaty of Rome and concluded that I could not agree with the political implications  of joining what was then called the Common Market but which has morphed through the European Economic Community to the European Union. Next stop is United States of Europe.
During our recent visit to Lille I was reminded of how Chales de Gaule kept the UK out of the organisation and the newspaper headlines
- NON! 
Charles de Gaule was born in Lille

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Every Little Bit Helps
Ten years ago the major museums and galleries removed the entry charges for permanent exhibitions.  In London alone there are 46m visitors each year to these establishments. If a charge of £1/head were introduced the exchequer could pocket £46m/year without causing hardship to anyone. Perhaps even £2 at peak times. For the cost of a few turnstiles the museums woould benefit considerably. If they used the Oyster card it could be made even  more painless.
It is not much of a vote winner though, is it?

Friday, 2 December 2011

Where are the men of vision?
When Lord Coe led the bid  by London to host the 2012 Olympics one of the elements which swayed the vote away from the rival bid from Paris was the plans by the Olympic Park legacy Company to morph the world-class facilities into local resources. Despite no Olympics since Los Angeles in 1984 having made a profit, the IOC believed them.
We are now less than one year from the 2012 Olympics, the budget of £2.4bn is now nearly £10bn and OPLC have not even been able to find a satisfactory customer for the main stadium - the most marketable property on the site.
Six months ago the Wellcome Trust made an offer of £1bn for the whole site - lock stock and barrel.  They have a 20 year plan to create a Global Hub  for research and innovation in the areas of health and sports science creating 7000 jobs with close liaison with Loughbrough University and UCL. But they want it all - good bits and bad bits.  The OPLC seem to think that because the houses will be attractive to builders that the whole site is equally attractive.  They have already disproved that premise. And why should we listen to the Wellcome Trust?  One good reason, in the current parlous state of our economy is this:  The Wellcome Trust is the only organisation in the country, outside our government, which has the AAA credit rating.  It is more financially sound than Greece, Italy and Eire put together.  They must have been doing something right over the last 75 years!
Why must people in public office be allowed to make short-term decisions regardless of the long term future of the country? When the swimming pool was being designed the local authority offered to buy it after the Olympics for the local community but they would need it to be easily adaptable to leisure use like the addition of flumes.  Their wishes were ignored and it will not be viable for local  use. If you are wondering why the Olympic housing stock will need the involvement of builders to sell it is because the units built for athletes do not have kitchens and all the other facilities expected by normal people.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Why should the Chief Executive of BW miss his targets six years in a row and still get a bonus greater than some of his staff's annual pay?

Why should any of the directors get a bonus when the BW remuneration committee has said there will not be a bonus this year?

If you share my concern over the fat cat rewards for incompetence and under-performance then click on the heading above and read the e-petition.
If you agree with it please sign it and see if we can put a stop to at least some of the nonsense at BW. 
If everyone who signed the petition to stop HS2 sign this one it will be debated in parliament.  So come on you land-lubbers - support the water gypsies for a change
Proud to be a NIMBY
The government is proposing to build a high speed railway - HS2- between London and Birmingham which will reduce the journey time by 20mins and will cost the equivalent of £1000 per head of population.  Whilst  discussing this recently I was called a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) because I do not support the idea. This was intended to be derogatory. It was, in fact, inaccurate on two points.  Firstly I no longer live on the intended route of HS2. Secondly my objection is to the rail link entirely regardless of any route it takes. I am not alone in this objection: there is even support within the  House of Commons.
The Stop HS2 movement summarise their opposition succinctly as:
No business case
No environmental case
No money to build it
Of course their case would receive much more support if the project was going to wipe out a national treasure - Blenheim or Stonehenge for example.  
All it will damage is :
The Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
4 Wildlife Trust Reserves
10 Sites of Special Scientific Interest
50  areas of Ancient Woodland
Nothing very special, then.
In the National Trust Magazine recently Simon Barnes of The Times made the case for a Society for the Protection of Nothing Very Special.
Sing me up Simon.
If the NIMBYs don't fight for these kinds of minor treasures who will?

Some of the Not Very Special contryside which HS2 will destroy,