I know that I am from the old school, well I have been told that a few times and I have to say that it is something that I am very proud of. If someone kindly loaned me a piece of equipment I would ensure that it was taken great care of and retuned clean and undamaged. Therefore it was with, I have to say, utter contempt for the way that some of the British holiday makers treat and leave holiday homes, both here and abroad after they have presumably enjoyed the facilities that were hired out to them.

This was brought to my attention by a friend who showed be an article in “Backpacker Trade News” which was highlighting the results of a survey which had been carried out by a holiday home insurance company, that showed that a majority of Britton’s that stayed in holiday homes didn’t treat it with respect.

I find this attitude very poor indeed especially when I read that three quarters admitted that they did not treat the holiday home with the same respect as they did their own and nearly half of those surveyed left heating or air conditioning on when they were out for the day! A third somehow managed to get make up and fake tan all over the sheets, do not replace anything broken and allow their dogs onto beds and furniture. What is it about people that makes them do this I wonder, is it some sort of envy that someone has a second home, or is it just that maybe it is the attitude of well someone else is paying so it does not matter, very sad indeed.

holiday home

As a long time follower of motor sport as well as being a little bit of a “petrol head” I was sad to learn of the death of “Black Jack” as he was fondly referred to; I understand that he had had a long illness caused through kidney failure.

Aussie Sir Jack was the first driver in our history to have been knighted for “services to motor sport” in 1979, he was also the first driver to win the world championship in a car which was of his own construction.

Now in those days for the younger amongst our readers, driving a formula one car was very different to the cars of today, in fact I am going to make a very controversial point and say that many of the drivers of today who would have trouble driving a real car, one without all the electronics, paddle gear shifts and dozens of helpers in the pit monitoring everything that goes on in the car, but things change of course, I’ve even got a mobile phone!

I have to say that he was one of the last of the iron men who raced a Grand Prix car, surviving along with others like Sir Stirling Moss. He had a good life, living all but the last of his 88 years doing what he loved, rest in peace Sir Jack.

I gave up watching strictly come dancing a couple of years or so ago, for two or three very good reasons, well good in my opinion anyway! The first and most important thing for me is the fact that you cannot hear the excellent band and singers for the inane, raucous screaming and off beat clapping every time the dancers take to the floor.

I also felt that the dancing had become somewhat over exaggerated, but that is purely a matter of opinion of course. Now I know that my next reason for not enjoying the show is going to upset an awful lot of people, but I felt that Bruce Forsythe was long past his “sell by date” and should have been put out to pasture years ago. To me he was really great when he compared Sunday Night at the London Palladium, but hey that was moons ago and his rather childish comments and first form schoolboy jokes were better seen on CBBC and not a Saturday night adult entertainment programme!

So now the job of hosting the programme has been given to Claudia Winkleman, I may then just take a quick peek in the autumn when the show returns. However, will they please cut out that thoroughly annoying clapping that drowns out the singers and very good band, I’ll bet they don’t.

I have been reading and I am completely shocked, about a case in an Essex Care home, highlighted by an undercover team from the BBC Panorama programme, showing abuse of residents.

What I find surprising is that allegations of poor care and mistreatment were first raised by 11 whistleblowers in August 2012, but and this is the serious point, whilst the Panorama team were there in November 2013 filming undercover at the home, at the same time, the home was inspected by the regulator and passed for the first time in 18 months.

I will not go into the details of the abuse that the residents were subjected to, you can see for yourselves by downloading it from the BBC iPlayer if you did not already watch the programme on the 30th April, and it is very distressing.

Now I know a little about residential and nursing homes and the biggest problem faced by all of them without exception is getting good staff. Also the standard of care and the way that residents are cared for is all down to one person, the manager. He or she can make or break the home, but the sad thing is that I know that many are frightened that if they come down to hard on staff, they will soon have a problem keeping them.

It’s a vicious circle and even though they may be charging £100 per day, this is what you would expect to pay in a decent hotel, but without four meals a day and 24 hour nursing or residential care, that is the problem. If they doubled the charge, they could then get and pay top staff, but who is able or going to pay £1,400 a week, the local authorities will not, they don’t even pay £700 now!

We live today in a fast moving technological age and it is one in which I have recently joined, well it is thanks to “er indoors” who has given me a nice new smartphone! I think the reason for her generosity was my constant references made by me such as “oh look at him walking about with his finger stuck in his ear” that was the last straw and as she pointed out to me, “I’m going to drag you out of the last century if it’s the last thing I do”!

Well this generous gift was a few months ago and I have been trying to come to grips with this amazing piece of kit and I think that at last I can do things that would have been unheard of by me at the beginning of the year. I can now text as well as call people but it is the amazing apps that have really impressed me, who’d have thought it, touch the funny little picture on the screen and you are transported to a company web page or train timetable.

However for my personal use I have downloaded a new app from a company called Send My Bag that I use a lot that saves my back a lot of aches and pains when I have to go on a business trip. They collect my bag or golf clubs from my door and transport them safely to my destination, door to door waiting for me at my hotel, send my bag is just what it says and they do it brilliantly!

The app will do amazing things such as get me an instant quotation; also track my bag so I can see where it is, amongst many other things. I really am beginning to like the 21st century and who knows, I might even begin to check for emails on my smartphone next, well that could be taking things a bit too far, we shall see.

As someone who has to commute quite a lot I was totally baffled by a news article that a commuter who travelled from Sussex into central London managed to ride the train for nearly five years without buying a ticket. I had to look twice, because if any of you have travelled the train from any part of the country, you will know that it just seems impossible to get further than a few miles down the line without being asked for your ticket.

I haven’t quite worked out how many days that the person, an un-named City executive who is a hedge fund manager, travelled on the line but it has to be in the region of 200 journeys a year each way, so let us assume it is about 2,000 rides!

Apparently he boarded the train in a Sussex village and got off at London Bridge where he caught another train to Cannon Street and then ingeniously used an Oyster Card at the barrier paying the maximum cost of £7.20.

Well I’m pleased to say that he has been caught by a ticket collector and so he must have confessed to his five years of free rides because he settled the matter out of court but had to pay £42,550 in dodged fares and £450 in legal costs.

I have to say that it was a bit expensive for him, because if he had bought an annual season ticket at £4,548 it would have been £22,740, but single tickets would have cost more than £42,000 so hedge fund manager got a just reward in the end. I imagine that the rail company will be checking tickets more carefully now!

I have to say that it was with great sadness that I learned of the death of the author of the Adrian Mole books Sue Townsend, after a short illness. Now I did not know Ms. Townsend, but I did read some of the Adrian Mole books. If you have not read them I thoroughly recommend that you do and if you do not laugh out loud when reading the exploits, I have to say that I will be very surprised.

The first book in the series was of course “The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾“ and as a male myself I know that at that age the ¾ bit is very, very, important to a boy going into the teenage years. It is written in diary style and was set in the years 1981 and 1982 and refers to event of that time, including The Falklands War and Prince Charles wedding amongst other events. As a self-confessed supporter of the Labour Party, Ms. Townsend makes reference in the book of Mole being a fierce critic of Mrs Thatcher the Prime Minister of the time, but nonetheless it is a very funny book indeed.

Ms. Townsend died at a relatively young age of 68 and it was known that she was not in the best of health suffering from diabetes, had gone blind and her last book had to be written from a transcript that was dictated by her.  It’s sad that we shall have no more Mole books, but at least we can still re-read the old ones. Now where did I put those books?

It may just be me, but I always like to stick my personal details onto the back of an envelope, parcel or if I am being really lazy and someone asks me for my telephone number I tear off one of my labels.

I have had the opportunity to get these on numerous occasions, but when I have, they always come on sheets of about thirtysix and if you are like me these often get stuck into a drawer and inevitably they get lost between other items, or become crumpled and left looking rather dishevelled.

So when I needed some new sticky printed labels I thought that I would search around on the internet and see what other people were offering, if I could not find what I wanted I would go back to my labels on sheets from my old supplier. I first made an enquiry from my old supplier to see if he would give me a price for a re-print and keeping this in mind, I set about trawling the net.

Well as you would expect, there are hundreds of suppliers of printed labels to be found, most appeared to be in America though which was no use at all and then I found just what I was looking for. A supplier in the south of England who would supply me with just what I wanted quickly, in less than 5 days, but importantly they were on rolls and the price was competitive too.

The company could not have been more helpful, all I did was send them one of my old labels and they matched this perfectly. I could have chosen different colours if I wanted but decided to stick with what I have, although I may consider a change the next time.

I can now store my rolls of sticky printed labels that have my name, address, ‘phone number and email on them without them becoming damaged. I can also tear of three or four, put them in my wallet for use when out if needed. Problem solved easily and quickly, simple as that.

Well I think I’ve just about heard it all now, I had no idea that holiday companies were into the mating game so to speak, but before you all get too excited and start a stampede to Thomas Cook to book onto one of their flights of fancy, it is strictly aimed at our friends in Denmark, so calm do as they say.

I read that apparently our Danish friends are not producing as many children as the tour operator would like and in a Do it for Denmark video they show such things as empty playgrounds and pictures of decrepit pensioners, as they are concerned that the birth rate in the country has dropped to a 27 year low. Presumably they do not have dwindling school attendances in mind; no it’s more about their own particular concerns about future business if there are no young people coming along and the population is ageing!

I was amused to learn that in an effort to get couples having children, they are showing some pretty depressing scenes of a grey Scandinavia and they contrast this with a shot of a young happy Danish couple, naturally shopping for some sexy underwear and jigging the light fantastic in front of the Moulin Rouge. Now I find this beats it all, wait for it folks, the tour operator is offering “an ovulation discount” that’s right you read it here, in order to choose the best time to travel! Now I haven’t finished yet; anyone who can submit pictures of a pregnancy test that is positive will get a chance to win a three year set of nappies, oh no!

I think that I might look for a cheap flight to Copenhagen, anyone care to join me!

 

I am from a seafaring family and although much to the disappointment of my father, the sea was something that you paddle in when you went to the seaside and it was wet and usually cold.

Nonetheless, I’m very proud of our naval history and still consider that, although no longer the size it was, we have the finest navy in the world. Therefore I was very moved to read that in about 100 days from now, Her Majesty is to name Britain’s biggest ever warship, I hope the ceremony will be televised so I can tune in and watch it.

The latest aircraft carrier is something to behold, it has taken a record 16 years to complete, and cost around £6.2bn (over budget of course) weighs in at 65,000 tonnes and has a flight deck that is a massive 4.5 acres! Now before we all get too excited folks, unfortunately she will still not enter service until 2020! However, when she does, she will be a formidable strike force, have forty of the new F35B joint strike fighters which will incredibly be able to deliver bombs very accurately with pinpoint precision hundreds of miles from the target. If that is not enough she will also have Apache helicopter aboard as well!

The new carrier is very 21st century bristling with computer equipment and to illustrate the advances that have taken place over the years; she will only have a crew of 679 and an addition of around another 1,000 to operate the aircraft. Now compare this to the U.S. Nimitz class of carrier, which is much older of course, but still a force to be reckoned with, these need 3,000 seaman and a further 1,800 to operate its aircraft.

Well God bless her and all that sail in her I say, what say you?

H.M.S. Queen Elizabeth