Archive for December, 2015

Floating rouble and progressive nationalism

December 31, 2015

The first half of the programme garbage (crude pro-Russian propaganda), the second half little better.

The reason the Russian Central bank has hiked interest rate to 17%, is to try and help the rouble that is in free fall. A sign of failure, not success.

Try talking to Russians in Cyprus, ask them about the buying power of the rouble.

Biblio Globus, a Russian tour company, a trail of unpaid debts.

Oil prices have collapsed, because of a glut of oil, collapsing world economy, and post-COP21, a move away from fossil fuels.

Money is cheap for the rich, not the poor. The rich are pouring money into silly projects like Uber.

Uber offers no technological innovation, it is a cowboy outfit offering unfair competition to a legitimate taxi sector.

EU is a malignant, undemocratic entity that should be smashed. The euro an unmitigated disaster.

The year closes, having seen the rouble go into free fall, oil at record low, Russian economy collapsing.

When Max Keiser peddles this level of crap, he loses all credibility. You can almost see Valdimir Putin pulling his strings.

Festive lunch at Washingborough Hall

December 31, 2015
bar

bar

menu

menu

dining room

dining room

When you book for lunch, asked to wait half an hour before being invited into the dining room, then find no one else there, maybe this should send warning bells clanging.

celeriac and pear soup

celeriac and pear soup

Celeriac and pear soup, strange mix, was excellent. Creamy, bits of pear, slightly sweet, something strange floating on top that was like chewing on bits of paper.

The same could not be said of the main course, roast turkey with the usual trimmings. The turkey appeared to be hotted up slices of somewhat inferior turkey,  undercooked carrots and brussel sprouts, a red mush, difficult to know what it was, maybe red cabbage but very sweet, whatever it was, in contrast with the brussels and carrots overcooked, the roast potatoes surprisingly were excellent.

I would have expected a quality bird, roasted, carved.

Christmas pudding

Christmas pudding

Christmas pudding served with white sauce. Not a lot can go wrong with a Christmas pudding, so long as buy quality or make with quality ingredients.

All servings, the portion size was generous.

tea and fudge

tea and fudge

Pot of tea served with a piece of fudge.

Water served in a glass bottle. The wire holding the top in place was rusty.

Unpleasant loud music blaring out in the dinning room during the meal.

The table rickety. It needed a beer mat or two under one of the table legs to stabilise the table.

Waitress doubled as a receptionist.

Locally sourced ingredients but without saying from where, a meaningless statement. Contrast with Stokes on High Bridge in Lincoln, where locally sourced and they say from where.

Washingborough Hall is a Grade II listed building, a Georgian manor house,  set in its own grounds.

It is unfortunate the food served does not live up to the promise of the surroundings.

But even the building has been ruined. An appalling extension has been stuck on the side, out of character with the building. Begs the question how it ever managed to obtain planning consent.

Washingborough Hall has a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor.  It is not deserved.

Failure to address fake reviews, issuing of Certificate of Excellence when not deserved, TripAdvisor is losing all credibility.

Washingborough Hall is located half way up Church Hill in the cliff-edge village of Washingborough, not far from Lincoln.

Floods

December 30, 2015
 flood victims turn on David Cameron

flood victims turn on David Cameron

York flooded. Manchester flooded. Cumbria flooded. Scotland flooded. Wales flooded.

Two winter’s ago, when large swathes of the country were flooded, David Cameron said lessons would be learnt.

Zealot George Osborne savagely cut public spending, including that to the Environment Agency.

The only surprise is the hypocrite dared showed his smug face in the areas flooded.

COP21 in Paris was a failure.

What were 1 in 100 extreme events are now every decade and now every couple of years.

Bad flooding two winter’s ago, now this winter.

Similar patters are seen in the US.

We are seeing this now with 1C global temperature rise.

Warm air holds more moisture. High temperatures, more energy in the system, more frequent and violent storms.

We have known this for at least a decade, and yet no mitigation measures in place.

Hard flood defences do not work, soft flood defences do.

We have to retain water water upstream, re-afforest the hills, re-wild the hills, re-introduce beavers, wolves and lynx.

Our hills have been denuded by sheep.

We have seen flash floods caused by unprecedented heavy downpours, now the norm, causing a sudden surge of water, one day a town in Cumbria dry, next day under several feet of water, next day dry.

We have to slow that water, spread over time.

When water sheets off a hill, hits a line of trees it vanishes, it sinks into the ground through tiny channels caused by tree roots. The soil absorbs water. The trees slow the rate at which the water hits the ground granting it time to be absorbed.

Pickering used to flood. It is in Yorkshire. Pickering did not flood. It did not flood because debris instead of being cleared from streams, is introduced into streams, trees cut down across streams. Work that beavers will happily do for free. There is also a small damn upstream of Pickering.

We have to have emergency legislation to revoke any planning consent for building on flood plains.

Flood plains are meant to flood.

The irony is, with cuts to Environment Agency funding, responsibility for local flood prevention has passed to local councils, bodies that know nothing about flooding, that are only too happy to pocket from developers to enable building on flood plains.

Cove Brook rises to the south of Farnborough Airport. Tens of thousands of trees were cut down in the catchment area. Drainage on the airport improved. As light follows day, properties downstream were flooded.

Properties downstream of Gatwick Airport experience similar problems.

Parts of Yorkshire flooded, are areas licensed for fracking. That is how much David Cameron cares about flood victims.

We know if we are to keep global warming below 2C, we have to leave at least 80% of known carbon deposits in the ground. For smug Dave lining the pockets of his slimy friends is more important than flood victims.

Widespread flooding, and where was the Chairman of the Environment Agency? Er, sunning himself in Barbados. £100,000 per annum for a couple of days a week. Yet another example of a public official taking the piss out of the public and laughing all the way to the bank.

And there are still morons who deny the existence of climate change. Morons who lack any understanding of science. Morons like failed Chancellor and has-been politician Nigel Lawson. Morons and thsoe in thre pocket of Big Oil, Big Coal.

Christmas dinner

December 25, 2015
carrots, celery, onion. to raise chicken above base of baking tray

carrots, celery, onion, to raise chicken above base of baking tray

chicken in baking tray on raised bed

chicken in baking tray on raised bed

Christmas dinner, fresh chicken, roast potatoes, broccoli.

Fresh chicken from local butcher, cooked guidance of Jamie Oliver.

Lay carrots, celery, in the base of baking tin. This lifts the chicken up off the base, allows air to circulate and aids cooking. Chicken smeared with butter (to stop drying out), add a little salt and black pepper (for flavour). Half a mandarin stuffed inside the chicken. No stuffing.  Cook for 20 minutes per pound, plus a extra 20 minutes.

Not sure of weight. assumed 4 lbs. Cook for two hours.

I was worried it would be overcooked, but no, cooked to perfection.

Potatoes added around the chicken for last hour, after par boiling.

After chicken was removed from the oven to rest prior to carving, green water added, a drop of very high quality Port. Excellent gravy.

Roast potatoes were crispy on the outside, soft on the inside.

To drink, champagne (strictly speaking sparkling wine a gift from Cyprus).

Christmas presents

December 25, 2015
Christmas presents

Christmas presents

Thank you everyone for their Christmas presents and cards.

Merry Christmas

December 25, 2015
Merry Christmas -- Ken Crane

Merry Christmas — Ken Crane

Christmas Mary and Joseph

Christmas Mary and Joseph

Merry Christmas

Feliz Navidad

Καλά Χριστούγεννα

С Рождеством

The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot

December 25, 2015

The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot, performed by Jewelia, originally sung by Vera Lynn.

Jewelia:

When I was young, one year was particularly tough for my family. My mum was ill, my dad had problems with his job. That year Santa sent me a letter apologising for misplacing my gift and promised to make up for it the following year. I was sad, of course, might even have cried a bit – I can’t remember that well – but I believed Santa and forgave him.

I had a home, a loving family and food of my table. My biggest problem was that I didn’t get what I wanted for Christmas. Now, there are many people who don’t have any of this. There are people who lost their homes, their families, people who have homes but are not safe in them, people who are spending their holidays in hospitals. There’s so much more than our ‘stressful’ Christmas shopping and cooking and petty day to day problems which might not even be as big as we think.

My point? Be grateful for what you have and cherish it. Wish and aim for more – always aim for more! – but don’t forget to appreciate and be thankful for what you have. Who knows, it might help make you happier. In fact, I’m sure it will. It’s just that it’s so easy to forget..

Christmas Tale : The music coming from the house

December 24, 2015
Merry Christmas -- Ken Crane

Merry Christmas — Ken Crane

On Christmas Eve, the king invited the prime minister to join him for their usual walk together. He enjoyed seeing the decorations in the streets, but since he didn’t want his subjects to spend too much money on these just to please him, the two men always disguised themselves as traders from some far distant land.

They walked through the centre of the city, admiring the lights, the Christmas trees, the candles burning on the steps of the houses, the stalls selling gifts, and the men, women and children hurrying off to celebrate a family Christmas around a table laden with food.

On the way back, they passed through a poorer area, where the atmosphere was quite different. There were no lights, no candles, no delicious smells of food about to be served. There was hardly a soul in the street, and, as he did every year, the king remarked to the prime minister that he really must pay more attention to the poor in his kingdom. The prime minister nodded, knowing that the matter would soon be forgotten again, buried beneath the day-to-day bureaucracy of budgets to be approved and discussions with foreign dignitaries.

Suddenly, they heard music coming from one of the poorest houses. The hut was so ramshackle and the rotten wooden timbers so full of cracks, that they were able to peer through and see what was happening inside.

And what they saw was utterly absurd: an old man in a wheelchair apparently crying, a shaven-headed young woman dancing, and a young man with sad eyes shaking a tambourine and singing a folk song.

‘I’m going to find out what they’re up to,’ said the king.

He knocked. The music stopped, and the young man came to the door.

‘We are merchants in search of a place to sleep. We heard the music, saw that you were still awake, and wondered if we could spend the night here.’

‘You can find shelter in a hotel in the city. We, alas, cannot help you. Despite the music, this house is full of sadness and suffering.’

‘And may we know why?’

‘It’s all because of me.’ It was the old man in the wheelchair who spoke.

‘I’ve spent my life teaching my son calligraphy, so that he could one day get a job as a palace scribe. But the years have passed and no post has ever come up. And then, last night, I had a stupid dream: an angel appeared to me and asked me to buy a silver goblet because, the angel said, the king would be coming to visit me. He would drink from the goblet and give my son a job.

‘The angel was so persuasive that I decided to do as he said. Since we have no money, my daughter-in-law went to the market this morning to sell her hair so that we could buy that goblet over there. The two of them are doing their best to get me in the Christmas spirit by singing and dancing, but it’s no use.’

The king saw the silver goblet, asked to be given a little water to quench his thirst and, before leaving, said to the family:

‘Do you know, we were talking to the prime minister only today, and he told us that an opening for a palace scribe would be announced next week.’

The old man nodded, not really believing what he was hearing, and bade farewell to the strangers. The following morning, however, a royal proclamation was read out in all the city streets; a new scribe was needed at court. On the appointed day, the audience room at the palace was packed with people eager to compete for that much-sought-after post.

The prime minister entered and asked everyone there to prepare their paper and pens:

‘Here is the subject of the composition: Why is an old man weeping, a shaven-headed woman dancing, and a sad young man singing?’

A murmur of disbelief went round the room. No one knew how to tell such a story, apart, that is, from the shabbily dressed young man sitting in one corner, who smiled broadly and began to write.

(Based on an Indian story)

— Paulo Coelho

#ThisIsACoup Yanis Varoufakis in conservation with Paul Mason

December 24, 2015

Yanis Varoufakis in conservation with Paul Mason discussing the 20 February 2015 agreement with the EU. Bad as it was, it was not as bad as it could have been, as Yanis Varoufakis managed to obtain agreement on changing the worst aspects that had previously been imposed on Greece.

Additional film footage for the Paul Mason documentary #ThisIsACoup.

I was in contact with a Greek friend on the eve of the referendum. She was in two minds of how to vote. She had last her job a year ago, after much effort she had found two temporary jobs. She had voted for Syriza in January. She had lost one of her two jobs, had not been paid for the other. She was in despair.

After the No vote, rejecting EU austerity, I thought she would be happy. No, they will punish us.

My friend, as with many Greeks, showed great courage in voting Oxi. To only then be betrayed by  Alexis Tsipras and Syriza when they signed a surrender document.

Talking to Greeks in Athens in October, where there was hope in January, now there is despair. They have lost all confidence in politicians.

The exception is Yanis Varoufakis. He commands a great deal of respect. My Greek friends working in a coffee shop in Cyprus (there being no work in Greece) refer to him as their hero.

The way forward is for Greek people to resist, they cannot rely upon elected politicians, to establish alternative sharing economies, alternative currencies.

38 Degrees loses the plot

December 23, 2015
Lewisham choir

Lewisham choir

38 Degrees urge me to buy a single promoting the NHS, apparently if enough fools can be pursued to part with their money, it will make the Christmas No 1 spot. Does anyone actually care what is the No 1 spot?

It’s going to be close. In just three days time, the battle for Christmas number one could be won by a group of NHS doctors and nurses who have recorded a song about the NHS.

The Christmas charts are usually dominated by whichever X-Factor song Simon Cowell chooses. But this year, there’s just 2,000 record sales between the NHS song and Justin Bieber. And there are millions of 38 Degrees members. If just 10,000 of us spend the 79p to buy the song, we could make sure the NHS gets to number one.

It’ll mean millions of people will hear that the NHS needs saving over the festive period. The song will be announced on Christmas Day and it’ll raise lots of awkward questions for Jeremy Hunt as every radio station and TV chart show plays the song.Please can you stand with the NHS this Christmas and help get the NHS to the top spot? Just click one of the options below to buy the single and bump the NHS up the charts.

The winner will be announced on Christmas Day at 1pm. Imagine the NHS nurses and doctors switching on the radio during their shifts and hearing the nation has decided the NHS deserves the top spot this year. It might bring an extra smile while they’re looking after our loved ones this Christmas.

Putting the NHS at number one this Christmas will send a powerful message to the staff who make our NHS something to be proud of: thank you. And a ripple through government as millions of people hear the message that the NHS is in trouble. Can you help bump the NHS single to the number one spot and prove Britain loves the NHS?

I do not buy rubbish. Not when there is music around worth buying, musicians worth supporting.

And where do they release this festive  jingle? Er, tax dodging Google and Apple.

Methinks  38 Degrees has lost the plot and scored a massive own goal.

I can see their logic, but not directing to iTunes or Google Play.

Why not direct to bandcamp?

It is also on Amazon, and beggars belief being streamed on Spotify.

Full marks to Justin Bieber for directing his fans to buy the NHS festive jingle, not his own offering. And anything but the garbage promoted by Simon Cowel.