Monthly Archives: February 2017

RIP 8,715 trees

We’ve just had a letter from our electricity supplier telling us how we could have saved money by signing up to a fixed-price deal or paying by monthly direct debit. It’s very kind of them to go to the trouble of doing this, though there is, of course, a suspicion at the back of my mind, that the letter isn’t really for our benefit.

A thought crosses my mind at this point. If they send one letter a year to their 33 million customers (I take this figure from Eon’s Wikipedia entry) and if each letter costs 50p (for ease of calculation) that costs £16.5 million. Sounds like a lot of money. They could do a lot with that money.

But…

From 2006-10 their sponsorship of the FA Cup (including the Women’s and Youth Cups) cost them £40 million.  They spent money on other sports-related sponsorship too, but that’s the only one that has a figure attached on Wiki.

The question is, did this make them any money? I don’t know about you but “What sports do they sponsor?” isn’t top of my list when selecting an energy supplier.

Similarly, they spent around £28 million on supporting the Museum next to their corporate HQ over the years 1998 – 2014.

Again, it wouldn’t really influence me in my choice of supplier. I might feel good about indirectly supporting a museum, but it would come a long way after price and green credentials.

It may be that sponsorship pays its way. It may be that sponsorship is just a massive vanity project.

The only thing I do know for sure is that if they sent out one less letter per customer per year they could probably pay for all the sponsorship, and save 8,715 trees a year.

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Woodland – Rufford Park

(I calculated the tree usage from this website).

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Trees are Good for You

The sun has just broken through the clouds, bringing a welcome brightness to a wet, grey day. I’m typing and watching antiques programmes on TV after a late lunch of home made pea and mint soup. Today has been productive and pleasant and all is right with the world. The only thing that could improve my mood is an invitation to stay at Blandings Castle.

So why am I wound up to the point of homicide?

Because yet again I’ve had to go to the phone to answer a call from an overseas call centre. I’m registered with the Telephone Preference Service but unfortunately this doesn’t stop the overseas calls and we are getting one or two of those every day. We notice them more that we are at home.

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Trees at Arnot Hill Park

As a general rule I try to be polite because the callers are only doing a job, but today I wasn’t in much of a mood for manners. I was forthright rather than rude, but I don’t suppose I improved their day. In fairness, they didn’t improve mine either.

As part of my on-going process of self-improvement I’m going to stop being irritable and start letting karma take its course. As I always told the kids, you shouldn’t let the actions of others dictate your behaviour.

From now on I’m going to stay polite and let karma sort things out. It’s just that I’d find it easier to do if I was allowed to pick karma up and hit people with it.

The trees are archive shots because if you want to be calm, trees are good for you.

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Sunset in Sherwood

Pictures Loaded, Menu Sorted

I finally worked out how to load pictures from my phone to the blog. I’m sure a five-year-old could do it, but I can’t. When I was that age telephones were attached to walls at home, or red boxes when you were out and about, and you took photos with cameras which had film in them. Just to complete the picture of the technological desert of the 1960s, computers were so big they had their own rooms and TVs showed black and white pictures from a choice of two stations.

Makes you wonder how we got by.

So yesterday’s post now has photos.

It’s time to cook now – Pea and Mint soup (again) for a couple of weekday lunches, Cottage Pie for tonight with lots of healthy green veg, meatballs to be precooked for tomorrow, Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry to be refrigerated for Tuesday.

I’d better stop watching Pointless and get cooking before I pick Julia up from work or I’ll be in trouble. The fact I got a pointless answer won’t impress a hungry woman.

Books, Books, Books…

I’m in the middle of sorting my books out. They aren’t necessarily the biggest problem in my life, but they are one that I can do something about. I don’t feel too bad about getting rid of books because they can go to friends, neighbours and charity shops.

Clothes can go to charity shops too, as can various other things, but I feel guilty about merely throwing things away. After years of keeping things “because they may come in useful”, I have a lot of useless junk, but keep hold of it because…well, you can guess.

Some of it is actually second and third hand, having been passed on to me by my father and grandfather. If you ever need a tester for thermionic valves or a magnifier for a 1950s TV screen I have one. (My grandfather was part of group that built their own TV sets in 1953 in time for the Coronation, in case you were wondering.) On the other hand, if you want stationery in pre-decimal sizes, my father has provided me with a large selection.

However, back to books.Do you know how many words there are to describe conditions related to books?

Try these.

Bibliophilia – love of books

Bibliomania – accumulating books, including multiple copies, books of no collectable or financial value and numbers of books far beyond the collector’s capacity to read them.

Bibliophagy – book eating

Bibliokleptomania – compulsive book theft

Bibliotaphy – book burying

My favourite is a word my sister recently emailed me, with the words “I think this applies to us.”

Tsundoku, a Japanese word meaning the state of buying books and storing them without reading them.

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So many books, so little time

I hold my hands up to bibliophilia, bibliomania and tsundoku.

I’m even considering Bibliophagy, on the grounds that books are high in fibre and low on digestible calories.

If you put them through the shredder a book has to be at lest as tasty as the spiralised butternut squash “noodles” we had last week.

 

Where have all the Buzzards gone?

I didn’t see a single Buzzard today on the way to Peterborough, just three Kestrels and a Red Kite.  My first thought on seeing an increase in Kestrels and a decrease in Buzzards is that the Kestrels must have eaten the Buzzards.

According to point 4 in this document I couldn’t be more wrong: it looks like Buzzards may actually be eating Kestrels. As the ones I see are mainly lurking round roadsides waiting for a car to kill something, or even walking the floor looking for worms, I’m amazed they have the energy, or the speed to take a Kestrel.

This sounds wrong to me, as I don’t really think of birds of prey eating each other. I tend to think of them eating less well-armed prey. A quick look at the diet of the Eagle Owl demonstrates that birds of prey do eat other birds of prey – one record of a nesting pair in Scandinavia tool 13 other raptors in a single breeding season. Their favoured prey is the Buzzard. If we ever start a reintroduction process for the Eagle Owl they won’t be short of food for while.

In the end I’ve been forced to conclude the Buzzards were just somewhere else, possibly sheltering from the wind. On cold, wet days I’ve often noticed that they tend to hunch down at lower levels, and are more inclined to take to the fields looking for worms. On previous windy days I’ve also noted a lack of birds. I suspect that, like me, they look for shelter when it’s windy.

After seeing my father and being soundly beaten at dominoes I went to the services on the A1 for a bean burger (for research purposes only, you understand). I took some photographs of the Roman antiquities they found whilst excavating the foundations. I’ll load them tomorrow as I can’t get them off my phone.

 

 

Birds at Frampton Marsh

As you can see from the title we went to Frampton Marsh on the Lincolnshire coast today. Unlike some of our previous visits to reserves, it was an excellent day.

Apart from the massive flock of Brent Geese that arrived as we were walking to one of the hides, we say Golden Plover by the thousand and so many Dunlin that the air actually hummed with the movement of their wings. At one time the sky was so full, with half a dozen flocks criss-crossing, I almost got a decent photo. Of course, with my normal level of skill, all I could produce is a view of a sky that looks like I have specks of dirt on my computer screen.

The day in general, was pretty good. The weather, after the troubles of Storm Doris, was mainly sunny and quite warm at times. We saw a good variety of birds, including a Merlin chasing a flock of Lapwing, a lone Barnacle Goose, three Ringed Plovers, a Curlew, two Black-tailed Godwits and a Snipe.

The telescope is working well after someone with a similar model of tripod showed me how to cure the wobble problem, and it helped find some of the better birds. With the day being so sunny it also gave us some great views of distant birds. I am, however, going to have to get a harness to carry it, as it’s a lot heavier than you’d think by the end of the day.

The Visitor Centre is a bit spartan, but it had a machine for tea and coffee, toilets and a cheery volunteer looking after it so what more do you want?

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Julia’s New Project

Julia’s first project of the year was to make me fitter and thinner. I’m going along with it because it’s easier than becoming industrious and efficient.Two months in and I seem to have lost half a stone without inconveniencing myself too much. I can also walk significantly further than I could at Christmas, and my joints are feeling better.

So far it’s down to eating better, rather than eating less. The next stage is to start reducing portion sizes too. You will have to imagine the expression on my face as I type that last bit.

Storm Doris is currently whistling round the house so I’m cutting back on the walking today. I’m in the middle of an Amber Weather Warning at the moment, with gusts of wind of up to 80 mph. That’s the magic of the information age. When I was a lad “windy” would have been the only word I needed. I was certainly never on first name terms with the weather.

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Squirrel stealing bird food

Anyway, now that exercise I am (slightly) smaller and fitter she is transferring her attention to a new project.

The Danes have hygge and the Norwegians have Friluftsliv . Even the Germans have Gemütlichkeit, and they aren’t a famously cheerful nation.

Julia’s new project is to discover a suitable English equivalent. We have mindfulness, though I’m not sure it’s quite the same. I incline to morosity myself, which is about as opposite to hygge as you can get. Yes, it is a word. More than that, it’s a word I’ve never used before.

Looks like we need a new word for English-style happiness. I favour something with a Scandinavian twist, because they seem to be the leaders in the field.

Julia favours something more domestic, something along the lines of “middle aged man snoring in front of the TV, which sounds more like the basis of a haiku to me.

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Can you see it now?

I have translated  “middle aged man snoring in front of the TV” and my favourite (“ducks and sunshine”) into various Scandinavian languages.

English: Middle aged man snoring in front of TV – ducks and sunshine

Danish: Den midaldrende mand snorken foran TV –  ænder og solskin

Norwegian: Middelaldrende mann snorking fra foran TV – ender og solskinn

Swedish: En medelålders man snarkningar framför TV – ankor och solsken

Is there anything there we can use, do you think?

Julia doesn’t seem impressed; she’s just wandered off muttering “idiot with a laptop” and I don’t think it’s a suggestion for translation…

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Julia hiding in shrubbery

Photographs have been selected to show examples of things that make me happy. I don’t have a picture of ice cream.