Friday, 31 December 2021

My Annual Letter

A corrected and slightly amplified version of my anual letter for 2021 is now on my website, here

Thursday, 30 December 2021

Mild mid-Winter

It was so mild today that, in the middle of my shopping, expedition I felt so warm I removed my scarf.

Tuesday, 28 December 2021

Farewell Turkey Crown

Yesterday I threw away the remains of the Christmas turkey crown. For many years we've had a duck for Christmas dinner. This year we decided on Turkey and thought just part of one would suffice. When the butcher offered me a choice between a 1 kg crown, and a 2 kg crown I recklessly chose the latter. Even though I put three portions in the freezer, and we had two dinners from it and I made a turkey sandwish yesterday, there was still quite a lot of stale turkey left over. Although I hate wasting food, I sadly threw the remains away.

Wednesday, 22 December 2021

Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Thought

People often consider Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Thought to be equivalent, but they often conflict. One person speaking inserts their thoughts into the minds of those listening, who may be thus prevented from following their own trains of thought. At one time libraries were places where conversation was discouraged so that thoughtful readers should not be disturbed, but compulive prattlers long ago overode those rules to assert their supposed 'right' to stop other people thinking.

Saturday, 27 November 2021

A Triumph for an Ancient Brain

When I went out to the shops yesterday I forgot my shopping so I had to shop from memory. When I got home I checked against my list and found that I had bought precisely the items listed, and nothing else!

Wednesday, 10 November 2021

A Floriferous November

Although we are now about half way through Autumn there are still plenty of flowers in the garden. Zonal pelargoniums, begonias, campanulas, mexican daisies, fuchsias, feverfew, Winter jasmine, and at least tree other plants the names of which escape me, are all in flower. In a couple of months time the early Spring flowers should start to appear, so we shouldn't be without flowers for long.

Saturday, 6 November 2021

Fireworks delayed.

There seemed to be few fireworks yesterday but rather more tonight, though not a great number on either night. Perhaps smelly explosions are becoming unfashionable, though mine is a fairly quiet area with quite a lot of elderly people who may be past getting excited by such things.

Friday, 5 November 2021

Fundamntal Units Confused in the Media

This afternoon I watched a television programme about the earth's atmosphere, and was reminded why I rarely watch television programs about science. Atmopheric pressure near the earth's surface was described as 1 kilogram per square centimetre, perpetuating the pernicious confusion of force with mass.

I prefer to state atmospheric pressure at sea level as about 105 pascals. A pascal is 1 newton per square metre.

Monday, 1 November 2021

Olive Trees in England

I often notice olive trees for sale at prices that seem rather high. I wonder why people buy them. I doubt if trees grown in England would produce sufficent fruit for people to press their own oil. Yet the plants strike me as very ugly, so there seem to be neither utilitarian nor aesthetic grounds for having them.

Saturday, 30 October 2021

Triply Jabbed!!

Today I had my covid-19 booster jab, bringing my score to 3.

Thursday, 21 October 2021

The last of my Homegrown Tomates.

Apart from a few half ripe fruit that just might ripen indoors, I finished my homegrown tomatoes yesterday. The season didn't seem to last as long as usual this year, mainly because the fruit didn't start to ripen until quite late in August. Still I did have them for about 9 weeks. I've collected seeds for use next year, but I'll miss having my own.

Monday, 18 October 2021

Cutting My Own Hair

It is now considerably more than a year since I last had my hair cut. I was on the point of booking an appointment with the barber when the second lockdown started in September 2020. By then it must have been well over a month since my previous appointment, so I estimate my locks have not been professionally shorn for at least 15 months. Ad hoc snipping seems to have kept things more or less under control, so I may be able to manage without the barber indefinitely.

Monday, 27 September 2021

Indiscriminate Grabbing

Grabbing used to be an indelicate procedure resorted to only in desparate haste, but these days people talk of grabbing almost anything, but especially chairs and cups of coffee. I'm surprised that more coffee isn't spilt in the rush.

Thursday, 16 September 2021


I had my flu jab today. I checked with several chemists' shops to find out when they were doing it, and found a shop that was jabbing on demand without appointments, so I joined the queue of just one person, and was duly jabbed.

I now await the doctor's summons for my third covid-19 jab.

Saturday, 11 September 2021

A Late Spell of Summer

Several weeks ago I put away my Summer suit expecting not to need it again until next year, but this week weather was hotter than at any time in August so I got it out again and went shopping in linen suit and white hat.

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Government Sponsored Cruelty

I was quite upset by televised coverage of an Alpaka being taken away for execution. It was alleged to be infected with bovine TB but look to ne in very good health. Its owner had objected strongly. I gather the official policy of killing animals infected with TB has been questioned but I'm not sufficiently familiar with the arguments to debate that. What I do question was the way in which the operation was varried out. The animal, clearly frightened and distressed was dragged away by a rope fastened round its face. That must have been very painful. Tha animal seemed to me to be a pet. When pets have to be put down we are usually concerned that the procesdure should be quick and painless and the pet should not be distressed but comforted by its owner. In this case the animal was dragged into a van and driven away to be killed elsewhere. The owner was not able to witness the event. The registration number of the van was blacked out. That alone should have been sufficient grounds for the police present to have charged the driver with a traffic offence.

My interpretation of the proceedings was that DEFRA staff wanted to punish the owner for objecting to the killing and arranged that she see the animal suffer as punishment for inconveniencing them.

DEFRA has a bad record. At one time it almost created a dustbowl in East Anglia by paying farners to remove hedges. DEFRA needs a tough minister with a mandate to remove senior staff and sort things out.

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

A Compliment

When I shopped at Grape Tree today the lady serving me said I was always their best dressed customer. To return the compliment, I strongly recommend Graoe Tree's yoghurt coated raisins.

Thursday, 19 August 2021

Selective Safety

When Parliament met yesterday hardly any Conservative MPs wore face masks. Many people consider that, with covid-19 deaths at only about 90 per day we can afford to relax safety measures. However 90 deaths per day is about 32 000 per year, much greater than the number deaths in road accidents, of which there are only about 2000 per year. Does the Goverment plan to relax road safety rules by permitting drunken driving and making the wearing of seat belts optional?

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Home Grown Tomatoes

Today I gathered my first barch of this year's tomatoes. There are many more on their way so I hope they'll last for a couple of months at least.

Monday, 16 August 2021

Even CoolerShopping

A few days ago I noted how few opportunities I've had this year to wear my Summer clothes. Today I wore light overcoat when I went to the shops and returned my Summer hat to its Winter quarters.

Friday, 13 August 2021

Cool Summer

Usually there is a period of several weeks in the Summer when I wear my white Summer suit and white hat when I go shopping. This year I've only worn those garemnts for four or five days. I don't complain. My prefered temperature is in the low 20s Celcius, and my tomatoes have started to ripen around the usual time.

Saturday, 31 July 2021

Enjoying Fossil Scones

From time to time I've noticed that a cake tin in the panty rattled if I moved it. Investigation revealed two ancient scones - I estimate they were are than a year old. They were quite dry, and when I handled them I found they were quite brittle. They crumbled when I squeezed. I ate a fragement and found it quite palatable, like a very thick crunchy biscuit. I look forward to enjoying a fossil scone for tea today.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Having Fun with HTML

I enjoy creating web pages with that versatile text editor notepad.exe. I've been preparing a talk for the Science Group of my U3A. Many people use power point for that, but I prefer to produce a set of interconnected html pages. I enjoy tweaking the style sheet until I get just the layout I want. Supplementary material can be made to pop up on mouseovers, and I manage pictures with lightbox.

Some people prefer to use special html generators, but that misses the fun, and usually produces grotesquly bloated code. Press control-U while reading a webpage to see what horrors lurk behind the bland pages.

Tuesday, 27 July 2021


A few days ago I bought a copy of PC Pro. I hadn't bought any computer magazine for many years and fondly remember the days when I bought at least one every month and read it from cover to cover. This time I read the article about CIX attentively and skimmed quickly through the rest. Computers used to be so exciting!

Monday, 26 July 2021

Second Thoughts about Wallflowers

A few months ago I blogged about long living wallfloweers. Recently the oldest of my wallflower plants, having flowered prolificacally for a third year, died soon after producing a sparse second crop of flowers shortly after I pruned it. Perhaps my pruning was too drastic, or perhaps three years flowering is the limit for ordinary wallflowers. I wonder what will happen to the surviving plants. This was only their second year of flowering and they still look healthy.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Shopping Carefully

Shopping in the local Sainsbury today I was pleased to notice that almost everyone there was wearing a face mask.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Don't Talk With Your Hand In Front Of Your Mouth

So I was taught. In a televised interview broadcast this evening Mr. Cummings appeared not to have learnt that lesson. He looked very shifty to me, but I've never liked him. That our Prime Minister made him a special adviser is one of many reasons for doubting the PM's judgement.

Thursday, 1 July 2021

Odd Pricing

I needed a small quantity of single cream today, and almost bought a carton of 150 ml, until I noticed that it cost 70p, while a 300 ml carton cost only 75p. I thought that strange.

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Sweet Strawberries

I rarely buy strawberries, except occasionally as decoration for a trifle, but recently I did buy some, hoping they were locally grown. I was pleasantly surprised. Instead of the hard, sour, although decorative, fruit I'd become resigned to, these were sweet and tender.

Friday, 11 June 2021

Out and About

For more than a year I have restricted myself to just two shopping expeditions per week. I've now increased that to three, hoping that more exercise will help to control my weight.

Thursday, 10 June 2021

More Praise for Zoom

On Tuesday the U3A's monthly meeting was held on Zoom. The speaker was a photographer displaying a collection of splendid photographs taken all over the world. In normal times we'd have met in a church hall and seen the pictures projcted on a screen of which only a few members of the audience would have had a clear uninterrupted view, and even those few would have seen only a rather poor rendering of the pictures. Using Zoom we could see bright high resolution pictures. We could also adjust the sound level until the speaker was clearly audible without deafening us.

I shall be very sad if we ever resume physicsl meetings

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Summer Clothes

Today, for the first time this year, I went shopping in my white Summer suit and Summer hat. Nothing remarkable happened during my excursion, but I still think it worth mentioning.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Shopping in the Sunshine

Today I wore my summer hat to go shopping, the first time I'd worn it this year. I also dispensed with a tie, but still felt a little hot. I may soon consider wearing my white summer suit.

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

An Expensive Repair

Recently I had new heela put on an ancient but much loved pair of shoes. The repair cost £19-95. I can remember when new heels cost five shillings!

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Exploring Zoom

I've just found out how to use the Zoom whiteboard. It's quite a simple thing, allowing one to make freehand drawings, create a few standard shapes, enter text from the keyboard, and perform a few simple manipulations of whatever is on the screen, but it could still be useful.

Any reader who'd like to explore in my company should send me an email and I'll do my best to oblige.

Friday, 7 May 2021

Timely Blossom

My apple blossom is now almost over. The pear blossom was finished a few days ago. This is the first year for quite a while that the fruit trees have blossomed close to the time gardening books say they should. Presumably stimulated by global warming, they've been coming into bloom rather ealier. Last year pear blossom appeared in March.

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Welcom Spring Sunshine!

When I set out for the shops today I was wearing a light overcoat, but I soon took it off and put it in my shopping trolley, and still felt quite hot by the time |I got home. It was my first outing this year without an overcoat.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Strange Prices

Yesterday I wanted some single cream. I was surprised to find that 300 ml cost 75p, but 150ml cost 70p. Having reistered the anomaly and my surprise I can think of no furher comment.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Compensation for a Cold Spring

This year my daffodils have lasted for an unusually long time. Moderately mild weather brought them into flower in February, and a chilly March and early April preserved them. They are fading now, but they still provide some splashes of yellow to brighten the garden. Grape hyacinths and some other bulbs whose names I've forgotten, have also lasted well, though the crocusses and snowdrops are long gone.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Lime and Lemon Marmalade

A few weeks ago it occurred to me that although I've made marnalade with various citrus fruit, either alone or in combination, I'd never tried lime and lemon. So last week I tried it and was delighted with the result - quite sharp but also sweet and fruity. I think it may be my favourite marmalade.

Recommended quantities are limes 1, lemons 1, water 1, white sugar 3. Wash the fruit, halve each one and put in a saucepan with the cold water. Heat very gently - I use the lowest setting on my electric hob. Check from time to time. With about 1 kg of fruit and 500 ml of water it took about an hour to come to the boil. I let it simmer until the fruit was soft. Allow to cool. Remove the fruit from the liquid and remove pips. Strain the liquid to remove pips from that, and then put fruit and liquid together through a blender. Then heat with sugar in the usual way. It sets extremely easily. I think that limes must be very rich in pectin.

Sunday, 28 March 2021

Daylight Saving, Saving

The tedious part of changing the clocks is changing my wrist watch. The process requires pressing several buttons in the correct order and the buttuns are stiff, often requiring both hands to produce a response.

Last time we put the clocks back I left my watch alone. Apart from the bathrooom and utility roon every room in the house has a time piece of some sort - so I wear a watch only on my twice weekly shopping expeditions when I've just subtracted an hour from the time shown on the watch. Now my watch shows the same time as every other timepiece. I'll just need to remember not to subtract an hour from the time shown.

Saturday, 27 March 2021

Qualified Pride in my MP

Neil O'Brien MP for Harborough has been 'sanctioned' by the Chinese Government for criticising that Government's persecution of minorities. I feel quite proud to be one of his constituents. I disagree with many of his policies, he did, for instance, support the Government's idiotic 'Eat Out to Help Out' campaign to revive the epidemic just when it seemed to be slowing down, but I'm still proud to have an MP who's been denounced by the odious bunch of Socialist hypocrites who rule China.

Friday, 26 March 2021

Twice Jabbed

I had my second corona virus vaccinnation this afternoon. After more than seven hours I've experienced no ill effects.

Monday, 22 March 2021

Celebrating Video Recordings

When I first saw pictures of recent riots in Bristol I was inclined to wish aremed police could have shot the lot. Then I realised that would have created a bad precedent and invited comparisions with toxic states such as Myanmar. I now realise that the police have numerous video recordings of events and can from time to time release clips from these inviting people to identify the culprits, as the Americans are doing with the rioters who attacked Congress early in the year. An advantage of that policy is that the guilty will be kept in suspense, wondering if they are to be exposed.

Sunday, 21 March 2021

Long Lived Wallflowers

Wallflowers are usually considered biennials, planted in the Autumn to flower, and then be composted, the following year. Two years ago, instead of discarding all my wallflowers, I kept one, just pruning it as one would a rather leggy shrub. The following year it was much larger and flowered much more profusely that the plants put in the previous Autumn, so last Autumn I kept all my wallflowers, pruning them instead of discarding them. Having survived a distinctly cold spell in February they are now all thriving as little shrubs and are covered in buds.

There are some special variants of the wallflower that are sold as perrennials, but mine were ordindary garden centre generic wallflowers. It appears that all wallflowers are perennial.

Sunday, 14 March 2021

A Perverse Demonstration

The Metropolitan Police are being condemned for trying to disperse a demonstration on Clapham Common. A picture I saw showed hundreds of people very close together. They appeared to be mourning the death of a murder victim by spreading the covid 19 virus as widely as possible. I wonder how many more deaths will result from the gathering.

Had I been in charge of the police at the scene I'd have been inclined to fire tear gas grenades into the middle of that crowd to disperse it.

Monday, 1 March 2021

Twelve Months Without a Bus Ride

Yesterday ended the twelfth successive month during which I did not use any form of public transport. Somewhere I still have a ticket issued on 27 February 2020 kept as a souvenir of my last bus journey.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Compelling People to be Careful

There has been some talk of making covid 19 vaccinnation compulsory. It may help to consider cases where careful behaviour is already compulsory.

A quick potter through the Internet suggests that use of seat belts in cars may have saved about 16 000 lives per year, and motorcyclists' helmets may have saved aroung 2000 per year. Some people would have used seat belts or helmets without compulsion, so the benefits of the legislation must be somewhat less than that. It appears that upwards of 10% of the British population are refusing vaccinnation. Although it is hard to estimate how many lives would be saved if the refusers were vaccinnated, a saving of around 10% of the covid 19 deaths so far recorded seems a reasonable first guess, suggesting that the case for compulsion is stronger than that for motor cyclists' helmets, but perhaps not quite as strong as for seat belts.


Sunday, 21 February 2021

Winter Flowers

What we used to call 'Spring flowers' are now blooming in the garden, much earlier than they would have done in my youth. They've bloomed early for several years now, but I'm not sure if the daffodils flowered so early last year. What is certainly different this year is that snowdrops, crocusses and daffodils are all in flower together. The hardy cyclamen are flowering too; they've been in flower continuously since late Autumn.

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

A Pleasant Surprise

We received two unexpected presents today - half a dozen eggs from a neighbour who keeps hens, and a packet of chocolate from one of the neighbour's cats. The cat stole the chocolate from the neighbour's shopping bag and left it on a plant pot in the garden.

The cat, called Sox, has been interested in our activities since she arrived next door as a kitten a little over three years ago, but while our cat was alive she didn't come into the garden, just watching us from the top of the wall, or lying in wait for us on the driveway. After our cat died in July Sox has annexed our house and garden as part of her territory, and has been keeping our premises mouse free. Now she's shown her appreciation of our friendship!

Friday, 22 January 2021

Coming to Terms with my Antiquity

Today I had a stair lift installed on the main staircase. Climbing the stairs had become a challenge - I could do it, but it was enough of an effort for me to treat it as a serious undertaking. Now I can go up and down as often as I like. As I no longer need to cling to a handrail I can also carry as much as I like on my journeys.

Thursday, 21 January 2021

A Triumph for an Aged Brain

When I went shopping today I forgot my shopping list and had to shop by memory. When I got home I checked my shopping against the list and was delighted to find that I'd remebered to buy every one of the fourteen items on it.

How wonderful that my memory still works - sometimes !

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Relief !!

I don't usually pay much attention to the details of the inauguration of American Presidents, but today I followed news from the USA closely. I wanted to make quite sure that Mr. Trump had indeed been replaced.

At last he has departed to a golf course. I hope the bunker goblins will keep him occupied

Saturday, 16 January 2021

A Delightful Discovery

Yesterday I found some Bath Oliver Biscuits in the local Waitrose.

For quite a few years Waitrose has been my only source of those elegant companions for strong cheeses, but since last March they've been out of stock. Yesterday they were available once more. I was delighted.

Sunday, 10 January 2021


I was vaccinated today. The Medical Centre unusually opened on a Sunday to vaccinate ancients, who attended in great numbers. We had to queue outside on a chilly, but fortunately dry day, but eventually the protective jab was delivered.

Saturday, 9 January 2021


Snow fell yesterday mrorning and some of it settled on the ground. That didn't happen at all last year. It had all melted by the time I went shopping around midday, but it was still quiite a shock. I detest snow!!