Wednesday, 25 October 2006

Ready To Go Nowhere

The seller pulled out of the sale, according to information my solicitor obtained. And yet the estate agent thought he was ready to exchange! Now the sellers phone is just on answerphone only.

Code for Alan's image links:

Tuesday, 24 October 2006

House Moving

At the end of July I put the flat up for sale. 3 days later I had a buyer. Within another week I had found the place I wanted to buy.
I'm still waiting to move.
The place I'm buying is holding everything up.
I had hoped to exchange contracts at the beginning of October.
Last week I was told we would exchange contracts a week ago, and complete on the 27th.
Today, we're still waiting to exchange.
Last week the hold up was the house at the top of the chain, being slow to send some paperwork to the solicitors of the person I'm buying from. This week its the person I'm buying from who has got a redemption statement from finance people he's dealing with, who have put the wrong date on that statement. I was told it could be another week before they get the paperwork with the right date on it.
Completion on the 27th? Yeah, right. I sit surrounded by cardboard boxes in my flat, waiting to see if I'll be out before Christmas.

Monday, 5 June 2006

The Times & The Sunday Times, Malta

That'll be OPC jobs moving off the streets into booths. Good. No one likes being hassled on the streets especially when they are on holiday. The days of the timeshare hard sell in Malta may be on the slide.


Wednesday, 31 May 2006

The Luton International Carnival 2006

My slideshow of the Luton Carnival 2006
Luton Carnival 2006 shows a mixture of fun, brilliance, and chilled out people putting on a show in spite of two torrential downpours during the actual parade.

The British Transport Police apparently took 90 weapons including pepper spray, kitchen knifes, stanley knives, from some 7,000 people who were scanned at Luton's railway station. So, how many were hidden away by those 93,000 other people who did not travle by train? Worrying.

Saturday, 8 April 2006

Speed limits gone mad?

On the M1 in Hertfordshire/Bedfordshire a 40mph limit came into force as work began on road widening. This is scheduled for the next 3 years. Driving at 39.9mph (!), my first experience on joining the M1 was to see 3 lanes of traffic behind me, all gradually but surely, catching me up and all destined to overtake me. I put my flashing warning lights on for a few seconds. That did the trick. For a moment or two. They all slowed down, and for a few seconds I actually thought all lanes would not be overtaking me. On the whole, most drivers seem to be resigned to this slower limit, especially now that speed camera notices have gone up.

At work they're going to bring in a 10mph speed limit. For the longest drive around the site, it'll take 5 minutes from the entrance to park up... and road rage behind those who keep to the speed limit. I don't know what the powers that be think they're doing with a ridiculous speed limit like that, and I'll bet the ones that dreamt the limit up drive at least twice that speed on site, themselves.

Speed cameras on one of my regular routes seem to give other drivers the feeling that they can drive at whatever speed they fancy elsewhere. They know where the cameras are, and slow down for them. Then speed up again when they've got through them. One guy accelerated around me doing probably 50 in a 30 limit this week.

The next day, in a 30 limit, another guy tried to go around me. Well, sorry, but I decided to turn right, so signalled and maneuvered. Nearly crashed into me, he did. Tsk tsk, shouldn't be driving so fast. Further down the route he undertook me on a 30mph dual carriageway. As I moved back to the inside lane he moved back to the inside lane to prevent me overtaking him, not that I had any intention of doing so, as he was already in excess of the speed limit.

It's speed limits that can cause road rage. There are times when a slow speed limit is inappropriate, and leads to silliness, and downright bad manners, not to mention plain childishness. And it's not usually the single incident which brings about bad behaviour on the roads, its the culmination of incidents.

Earlier this week, someone flashed me and stuck 2 fingers up when I was driving at 30 out of a small Herts village. I could see their mouth opening and shutting, in my rear view mirror, presumably as they shouted obscenities. I don't make the limits. I just keep to them. Tough if you're the one behind me, I just hope that one day a mobile speed trap will catch you.

Wednesday, 22 March 2006

Smoking Ban Scotland

From the 26th March 2006 smoking will no longer be allowed in commercial vehicles being driven in Scotland. This does not include company cars but will include vans and lorries. Yippee!!

Can't wait until this is law in England, too. But the ban has to apply to all kinds of vehicle, at least to the driver. I mean, if its illegal to drive holding a mobile phone to your ear, then what's the difference if people hold a fag up to their mouths.

Monday, 6 March 2006

Secondary School Selection - Not!

As the parents of a child looking to gain entry to a secondary school in September 2006, the exercise for us became one of not choosing the school we wanted her to go to, but more one of making sure she didn’t end up going to the “wrong” school.

For the record, school A would have been my first choice for my daughter. School B would have been 2nd choice, and given our financial and religious circumstances, and our daughters academic ability, no other school would really have done.

We used various map web sites to calculate, postcode to postcode, the distance from home to the schools. School A 2.0km away; School B 1.5km; School C 1.9 Km.
Applying the previous rules on entry and looking at the numbers of pupils being accepted under each rule in the past I drew up my analysis.

Admission rules for community and voluntary-controlled co-educational schools. The rules are applied in order.

Rule 1: Children who have a Statement of Special Educational Needs which names the school. – So maybe 4 out of the available 180 places are allocated. We would not qualify under this Rule. Result - 176 places left at school A.

Rule 2: Children for whom it can be demonstrated that they have a particular medical or social reason for attending the school, and those who are in public care. Forecast: 4 out of 176 places are allocated. We would not qualify under this Rule for School A. Result - 172 places left.

Rule 3: Children who have a brother or sister at the school at the time of application. Forecast: 30 out of 172 places are allocated. We would not qualify under this Rule. Result - 142 places left at school A.

Rule 4: Children of staff permanently employed at the school where the Local Authority has determined, having regard to the wishes of the Governing Body, that this is necessary to reduce recruitment and/or retention difficulties. Forecast: 4 out of 142 places are allocated. We would not qualify under this Rule. Result - 138 places left at school A.

Rule 5: Children who live in the priority area for the school and who demonstrate an aptitude in the area of the school's specialism (with those demonstrating the greatest aptitude being given priority). This rule applies to 10% of places in those schools determined by the LEA having regard to the wishes of their Governing Bodies. This rule will not be applied to any community or voluntary-controlled school this year. Nobody qualifies. Forecast: 138 places left at school A.

Rule 6: Children who live in the priority area and for whom it is their nearest Hertfordshire maintained non-faith co-educational school. Where more children qualify under this rule than there are places available, places will be allocated to those who live nearest to the school.
We don’t qualify under this Rule for School “A” as it is not our nearest school. Forecast: 138 places allocated. Forecast: No places left at school A.
School “B” is the best bet to gain admission under this rule, but even this school may be over-subscribed.

Rule 7: Children who live in the priority area who live nearest to the school. We would qualify for School A under this rule but on past admission rates, there will be no places left. Entry to School “B” may be via this rule, IF it still has places to allocate after applying all the other rules.

Rule 8: Children who live outside the priority area and for whom it is their nearest Hertfordshire maintained non-faith co-educational school. Where more children qualify under this rule than there are places available, places will be allocated to those who live nearest the school. School A would not need to allocate any places under this rule as it is already filled up under the rules above.

Rule 9: Children living outside the priority area who live nearest to the school. School A would not need to allocate any places under this rule as it is already filled up under the rules above.

The County Council School Admissions apply these rules in the order they are printed above. If more children qualify under a particular rule than there are places available, they use a tiebreak by applying the next rule to those children.

So, our choice 1 was School B, choice 2 School A, choice 3 was school D (and that would have required a quick conversion to Catholocism if she had got a place there!).
We since learnt that people who might have qualified under rule 5 did not get in to School A .

ConclusionAnyone who thinks they have a real choice is badly deluded.

Wednesday, 15 February 2006

BBC NEWS | Politics | Campaigners welcome smoking ban

In my teens I helped out at the local scout's bingo night. I had to give it up because my eyes used to stream with all the smoke, not to mention the fact that my clothes always stank afterwards. There were issues in my family about smoking, and I never took it up. I dabbled in my early twenties with cigars - the wanting to feel cool factor played a big part in that - but I soon stopped. I formed an anti-smoking attitude. In 1985 I first noticed and was impressed by the Anti-Smoking campaign that certain persons conducted, particularly by waving placards in the background when politicians were being interviewed on tv during the party conference season. In driving rain, this silent protestor would give up his time to stand solidly behind his placard. I salute you, Sir.The smoking ban will make pubs, clubs and restaurants in England from the summer of 2007 nicer, fresher, and healthier places to be. It will make the UK a great place to visit. GREAT NEWS FOR BAR STAFFNo longer will they have to suffer burning eyes, coughing at customers, having to scrape cigarette ash out of glasses, having to go home with clothes reeking of tobacco.GREAT NEWS FOR EVERYONENo-one need go home with clothes reeking of tobacco after a night in a pub or club. In smoke free homes this has long been a nuisance. WAKE-UP CALL TO PUBLIC PLACESDon't worry about the decreased sales of ciggies over the bar... just think, your customers will be living longer and coming in to spend their money for a longer period. But if you want to keep them coming, clean those beer soaked carpets stinking of stale beer, because if you don't the fag stench will no longer hide it.A CRACK DOWN ON FAG ENDS, PLEASEThe fag ends that get thrown down outside, in the street, out of vehicle windows really cheese me off. It is litter. It is anti-social. It is fineable if you are caught. That's another campaign. The outdoors is my space, too. And I don't want it littered.


Tuesday, 31 January 2006


There was a piece on BBC tv this morning about a "fast growing" website called

Far from offering to lose a noisy neighbour's dog for you, this site actually helps people to locate their missing pooches. It's all free of charge. List your dog-napped details, or look through the site for a dog you fancy helping to track down, download and print off a poster. You stick that up on a nearby lampost to annoy the hell out of the local council trying their utmost to stop illegal fly-posting (or in this case dog-posting), and hey presto someone spots the dog, or in the case of a spotty dog, spots the spotty dog, and owner and doggie are reunited.

I haven't checked around, but there's probably a site somewhere that helps track down missing kitty's. Personally, I'd have a look down the local Chinese take-away shop first, to see if it's fur isn't in one of their bins, LOL.

To most westerners the thought of cats (or dogs, or lizards, or whatever else could possibly be a family pet) being used as a foodstuff is repulsive. But as westerners I think it hypocritical to judge those people who kill these animals for food, so long as we westerners go on killing pigs, sheep, calves, and cows, for our own foodstuffs.
Check out Google for more discussion on this topic, before coming back at me on this topic.

Thursday, 26 January 2006

Haven. Visit the Haven site

Went to one of Haven's places in Cornwall for a weekend break. Now the weather wasn't their fault (it chucked it down), but the "luxury" accomodation was a disgrace. It stank of dogs, cigarettes, the place was freezing, and I considered the whole place needed reconstructing as it seemed to be made of cardboard! Needless to say, we went back home after just one night.


Monday, 16 January 2006

Pixel Explosion Fizzles Out - The Million Dollar Home Page

After an astonishing turn of events, the last 1000 pixels went for a mere US $38,100.00 on This was down to a succession of winning bidders getting cold feet and retracting their bids.

lost.river.trader claimed they Entered the wrong amount of $160,009.09
ast1155td ast1155td claimed they Entered the wrong amount of $175,000.00
latentauthor Changed User ID says "Seller changed the description of the item" Retracted: US $153,000.00
all4freeuk Changed User ID Cancelled: US $140,200.00 saying it was a fake bid.
onlinepokerandcasinos Retracted: US $2,100,000.99 saying they entered the wrong amount.
And so it goes on... there was even a fake bid of $25,000,000 bid placed by a first time ebay user.

The winner is still the UK whizz kid who had the idea. eBay is a possible loser since the credibility of bids placed and then withdrawn makes them look bad.

Monday, 9 January 2006

The Wonderful World of Pixels

The weekend had me all of a buzz while I caught up with the story of the 21 year old student who is selling one million pixels on his web site for one million dollars. The excitement mounts this week as the final 1000 pixels are to be auctioned on ebay. With over 2 days still to run on this auction the price of those 1000 pixels is US $160,109.09 .

As an ebayer myself, I would expect the final price to be much higher as it is common practice to try to nip in, in the last moments, with a winning bid. There are even programs around that will permit a bidder to bid "just enough" to win.

The student's success has spawned many copycats, some doing well, others floundering. But if the craze continues I might as well try it myself. As they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Tuesday, 3 January 2006

Speeding on Britain's Roads

Police in Bedfordshire have been clocking up their own offences for speeding. And the Beds force is the 2nd worse force in the country for being caught on camera.

According to The Highway Code in the UK, "You MUST NOT exceed the maximum speed limits for the road and for your vehicle (see the table below). Street lights usually mean that there is a 30 mph speed limit unless there are signs showing another limit."

So, why is it that when the speed limit is 30mph, that I get a trail of bumper to bumper cars in my rear view mirror, and yet the car nearest to me in front of me, gets further and further away from me? I make an assumption that the ones immediately behind me are cursing me. Well, tough. I didn't make the speed limit. I refer you to a higher authority.

Last summer I had some amusement. In a 30mph limit, the driver behind me was harassing me by driving too close, and a white van driver behind him was clearly harassing the driver behind me. A car ahead had pulled slightly out of a petrol station. I had no option but to stop to let him out. I stopped. The driver behind me stopped. And white van (man?) went into the back of the car. I saw it all in my rear view mirror. For most of the rest of my journey along that 30mph road I was not hotly being pursued by fustrated motorists.

And why is it that people in towns seem to think that just because they are on a dual carriageway, they are allowed to drive any faster than 30mph? Take A505 road through Luton town centre. Classic. Even speed camera signs have little effect. The Highway Code is quite clear. It states, "The 30 mph limit applies to all traffic on all roads in England and Wales (only Class C and unclassified roads in Scotland) with street lighting unless signs show otherwise)". So there you are. If there are no speed signs, the speed limit is thirty. Three zero. Nothing higher.

Now, let's look at motorways. A work colleague, who I would otherwise have thought to have high moral standards, told me "I never drive over 85 on the motorway". He quickly went down in my esteem. The highway code tells us that the maximum speed for Cars and motorcycles is 70mph. I have NEVER EVER made a journey on a motorway without being overtaken. I frequently cruise at 70mph. So, how come I am constantly being overtaken, no matter how short a journey I make on a motorway?

Now let's look at Cars towing caravans or trailers. On a motorway the speed limit for them is sixty. six zero. Now try telling me you have never seen a car towing a caravan doing more than 60. They are mostly hacking along at speeds well in excess of that.

I am not without serious accident. Almost stationery I had inexplicably not seen an oncoming vehicle, when I was turning right off a trunk road. For my sin I had to take a re-education course or face penalty points and a fine. Not once did the Advanced Driving Instructor, on the road with three of us sinners on board, admonish the other sinners for breaking the speed limit. One did 50 through a coned area with speed signs of 30, the other did 45 in a 30 limit. Not once did the Advanced Driving Instructor mention these offences to his pupils. And once, the Advanced Driving Instructor himself, entered into a 30mph zone at 50mph, and took several hundred yards to slow himself down to stop at a roundabout ahead. He boasted that he instructed police. It was left to me to bring the matter up afterwards.

It does not, therefore, surprise me to learn that police on duty were caught in speed traps in Bedfordshire 2,519 times in a year (Luton Herald&Post 29 Dec 2005).

What does apall me is that in 2004, according to the newspaper report, of 46 police officers and staff sent notices of intended prosecution, only nine resulted in punishment.