Thoughts from an active pensioner who is now somewhat past his Biblical "Use-by date"

"Why just be difficult, when with a little more effort you can be bloody impossible?"

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Lithium Batteries

My camera has a lithium battery. It looks like this. They are now quite cheap, but apparently they are highly dangerous and liable to burst into flames!
The one in my camera is getting old and I decided to order one over the internet. The cost of the battery was a trivial £3.49 and carriage was significantly more at £5.95!
The reason was that it would have to come by a carrier as the Post Office will not take packages containing such items as Lithium Batteries which are classed as dangerous goods by United Nations 3090 legislation.

Not only are such batteries in cameras, they are in almost every piece of portable consumer electronics from mobile phones to calculators and even in one's watch. I hadn't realised that I was surrounding myself with such dangerous items in my home.

Every day, people are carrying one or more of these items in their pockets or baggage onto aircraft and as far as I know this has not yet been banned. When I travel, I usually have both a video and a stills camera, each with spare batteries, in my hand baggage, and no one has ever questioned whether they are safe.

With the Post Office banning the carriage of such items, how long will it be before we are stopped from taking them on aircraft or other public transport?

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Facts are unhelpful !

I was reading an article in today's Mail with the heading

Bottle of wine a day 'is not bad for you': Leading scientist also claims those who exceed recommended dose could live longer than teetotallers

It continues :
"Dr Kari Poikolainen, who used to work for the World Health Organisation as an alcohol expert, examined decades of research into its effects."
He claims that drinking just over a bottle a day won’t harm your health and suggests that drinking only becomes harmful when people consume more than around 13 units a day.
His conclusion is that "The weight of the evidence shows moderate drinking is better than abstaining and heavy drinking is worse than abstaining – however the moderate amounts can be higher than the guidelines say."

But Julia Manning, from think-tank 2020Health, said: ‘This is an unhelpful contribution to the debate. It makes grand claims which we don’t see evidence for.’ She added: ‘Alcohol is a toxin, the risks outweigh the benefits.’

So a doctor, who was employed as an expert on alcohol by the World Health Organisation, and studied all the research that has been carried out on the subject is "unhelpful" because his findings don't agree with the policy of some "think-tank". Clearly this Julia Manning seems to be one of those people who adopt the attitude "I've made up my mind, don't confuse me with facts"!

I'm certainly not a heavy drinker and certainly would not want to consume a bottle of wine a day. But I do know quite a few people of my age who do drink that amount quite regularly, although probably not daily. Chatting to a friend the other day in the local, he reckoned that he needed a dozen bottles of wine for a dinner party at home for eight people. Judging by the comments of others present it seems that this was accepted as being a quite reasonable amount.

I usually go to the pub a couple of times a week after bell-ringing practice (a very old tradition!) and limit myself to a pint of beer, not because of worries about whether it will do me any harm, but because I have to drive home. At home, a bottle of wine lasts the two of us for a couple of evening meals. One of the ringers, now getting on towards ninety, always has a couple of pints and has been drinking this amount for the thirty or so years that I have known him. He seems to be thriving - he has just completed walking the Thames Path in ten mile stretches and is now tackling the Chiltern path!

I would like to see the real scientific facts about alcohol published so that we can make up our own minds, but it does seem that is unlikely to happen as there are too many vested interests who have already made the decision on our behalf.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Bluebells in the Woods

I can walk through a small wood on the way to the shops, I don't do it often now that I have stopped buying a daily paper as we normally drive to the shops because it's a bit to far to carry much shopping. However today was bright sunshine and we only wanted a couple of small items so we decided to walk. I was pleased we did as the bluebells were in full bloom and it was a very pleasant walk. Some of the trees had suffered badly as a result of the winter storms, but the council had cleared those which were blocking the pathway. Unfortunately, the only seat at the centre of the woods had been vandalised and so we were unable to sit and enjoy our surroundings. I simply can't understand the mentality of someone who is prepared to walk through the woods simply to smash a seat which was in regular use by both us oldies pausing for a short breather and by mothers watching their young children at play.

The photograph doesn't do the bluebells justice!

Monday, 14 April 2014


I've been under the weather since the end of February and haven't felt like blogging, or even doing much at all, but today with the sun shining, I decided it was time to do a bit of shopping, in particular to buy a new pair of casual shoes.
I found a pair that I liked in the local shoe shop and didn't pay any attention to where they were made, knowing that most footwear now comes from outside Britain.
When I got home, I was intrigued by the stylised Union Flag on the shoes and the attached label.

As you can see, it is not quite a Union Flag because apart from the strange shape, the red diagonals are missing. This intrigued me and I looked at the box which had the same symbol on the lid, and the words:
British Company.   British design   Since 1914 

But nowhere did it actually state they were made here, and nowhere on the box was there any indication as to the country of origin. Even on the shoes, at first sight, there was no indication of origin. The make, size and the above symbol were clearly printed on the insole, but country of origin, no sign. It was there, of course, to comply with the law, but it was tucked away on the underside of the tongue, printed in tiny type using ink of almost the same colour as the shoes: "Made in India".

I felt quite annoyed; I have no objection to buying goods manufactured abroad, but I do feel that it is wrong to give the impression that they were British when the only thing British about them is that they have apparently been designed in Britain and imported by a British company which has existed since 1914. Certainly, I believe that it is wrong of them to used a stylised Union Flag as it now makes me suspicious of other products which use our flag to signify that they have been made or produced here.

At the same time, I have to admit that the shoes are very comfortable and that the Velcro fastening is far preferable to traditional laces.

So much for my first day out for some while! At least it gave me something to write about!