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Over to you!

What’s on your mind today?


Trying out my new found skill once more. I promise not to overdo this.

I just hope it doesn’t rain Vynor. 🙂

p.s. post away.

I always cut the packet using a bread saw knife in between about 6/7 biscuits from the top. You can then invert the empty cut bit at the top and replace it inside the majority of biscuits in the rest of the packet, keeping them fresh for longer.

It’s a sort of biscuit ritual acquired over the years, and I receive much satisfaction from the sawing of the package in been the biscuits without damaging them in the process, and the broken ones remain at the top of the package at both ends.

Since acquiring a very attractive ceramic biscuit barrel as a gift, I still enjoy the sawing process but all the biscuits are now tipped out of their package straight into their new home, well hidden out of temptations sight 🙂

I often resort to sawing, Beryl, when the “tear here” fails. Is it just me, or when packets come with instructions to “open here”, they don’t? I have just done battle with a prepacked kipper, kept fresh on a plastic tray with a film shroud; only a knife enabled entry.

Malcolm, I have the same problem with sealed prepackaging. The problem was made easier after investing in a large pair of dressmaking scissors that are carefully manoeuvred around the products shape (usually fish).

I have a similar problem opening a prepackaged sandwich, when bought in a restaurant, shop or cafe, and eaten inside or outside with no access to scissors. I have yet to learn the knack of tearing the strip at the side all in one straight piece.

Any remedies on how to perform this task without resorting to desperate measures by tearing open the whole package would be much appreciated.

I use a small knife with a retractable blade to tackle packaging and keep one in the car in case I want to examine a product before driving home. It’s possible to use these knives with only 1 or 2 mm of blade protruding so they are relatively safe.

You can get arrested for carrying a knife 🙁
I like gherkins with a beefburger in a bun. I tried to open a new jar – and I am not a 7 stone weakling -I’m actually an 11 stone one apparently. It was a large diameter lid but, try as I might, holding the jar with a cloth and turning the lid got nowhere. Luckily I have a lid gripper device, toothed semicircular bits of different diameters on shortish handles, that dealt with it. But if I had been an ill-equipped little old lady……… I understand the need for a tight seal to keep the contents preserved but, like Beryl, wonder if there are better ways to help make the initial entry easier.

This is the type of knife I use to open packaging, Malcolm. I don’t carry one in my pocket and the one in the car has most of the sections snapped off so the blade cannot be extended much more than shown in this photo:

I hope I am not doing anything illegal.

I have a number of Stanley et al knives, one with snap off blades, others with individual ones. They are invaluable. I also have a traditional pen knife that I keep sharp; good for traditional pencils. And another used in the garden, particularly good for preparing cuttings.

If you give the edge the jar lid a tap against something solid that should make the lid easier to remove without using tools. If that does not work, turn it through ninety degrees and repeat. Piercing the lid will ‘release’ the vacuum, which will make jar lids easier to remove.

I rarely eat biscuits, but have a different approach to opening a packet. It is a challenge to open a sealed end without it tearing, remove one or two biscuits then reseal with a bag clip.

The easiest way to remove a difficult jar lid, when all else fails, is to simply hold the rim of the jar under the hot tap for about 2/3 mins, repeatedly turning the jar. This is an old remedy passed down from my forebears and never fails to work.

Ems will no doubt be able to explain the science behind this age old solution to an old age problem 🙂

I think the pliers tool works well enough, Beryl. Banging the lid against a hard surface is worth trying, but it sounds a little like opening a champagne bottle with a sabre.

John, here’s how it’s done, including the science – and no tools or banging involved.

YouTube.com – How to open a stubborn jar lid.

Bash (gently?) the side of the lid with a wooden spoon and probably what malcolm mentioned that can wreck the lid if too much force is required:

By Brabantia, these are extremely durable (mine have no holes in the handle) and were bought some years ago when red was fashionable for the kitchen.

Hot water is usually the last resort as it takes a while to run through.

An unopened jar is under vacuum and the soft seal is held against the rim of the jar, making it very difficult to rotate. After the jar has been opened there is still the friction between the screw threads of the cap and jar neck but that is less of a problem.

There is a simple engineering solution that works very well: https://duerrs.co.uk/duerrs-new-jar-lid-solves-an-age-old-problem/ Sadly it has not been widely adopted but it could reduce frustration and accidents.

I have just encountered a jar with a stiff lid that I could not remove by hand. I found an Oxo cap remover that I gave to my elderly mother and recovered when her house was cleared. It did not work because the edges of the cap are chamfered.

Tapping the side of the cap against the worktop was all that was needed to make it easy to remove by hand. I presume that this displaces the seal slightly, helping to break the bond, and it causes no damage.

A tap on the side of the jar would enable the contents to be poured out easily. The jar would have to have a bunghole but taps could be interchangeable and after cleaning could be inserted in another product.

Will a tap on the ankle cure water on the knee?

I think a new cap may prove more effective than a tap for stemming water flow on the knee Wavechange 🙂

The smaller garden birds work flat out in my garden until about 11am. Nest building is a serious business and, apart from stuffing beaks with as much foliage as they can cram in, they seem to be most particular about what to choose. Not any old piece of straw/hay will do and they poke about for some time to get just the right one. After 11am they crash out somewhere and I don’t see them all that frequently. Blackbirds are into territory wars throughout the day. Currently I think nest building is almost complete and there’s quite a bit of nest sitting going on. Looking at the nests, one wonders how the first bits of nest stay put until there is sufficient to work with. I’d love to watch the construction techniques. I might learn a thing or two.


To spare the embarrassment of people who have succumbed to them we politely call scams ‘sophisticated’ and the perpetrators ‘clever’. Alfa challenged this recently and I have to agree that most of the scams that get reported here are elementary and relatively easily spotted. Some of them are actually incredibly dumb with give-away errors, misspellings, and other faults. We patronise those who have not heeded the enormous number of warnings by telling them they didn’t do anything silly, they fell for an exceedingly cunning ploy, anyone would have been duped by the ‘professional’ con artists, and so forth. I have usually taken this line out of sympathy for the victims but I think it’s now time to take a different stance.

There are some exceptionally cruel and heartless scams, and indeed some remarkably multi-layered ones that not only catch people out with the initial contact but then get them on the rebound and then again with another twist. One such was described in the personal financial problems column in The Daily Telegraph a few Saturdays ago and it should serve as a warning of where simple scams [like the parcel delivery one] can lead.

Which? does a good job in alerting people to current scams and there are plenty of other sources of such information. I get an update every week from our county council trading standards department, they appear in the popular press, they are featured in radio and television programmes, and described in money advice websites, blogs, and other articles. Which? has also produced a long line of its Conversations about the most common scams and gathers information about them from hundreds of contributors [I am not sure where all this data leads but it helps to publicise the issue].

So do we still need to show so much tolerance to people who have been caught by the blatantly obvious? Should we still support the compensation culture whereby people run to their bank for redress when they made an unwise move?

There have always been rogues and tricksters, charlatans and mountebanks, snake-oil pedlars and rip-off merchants of every shade and hue. Is it not just one of life’s learning curves? Access is easier these days through the telephone and the world wide web, so society has to reinforce its defences to defeat the frauds and extend its radar range to spot them coming. This won’t happen until people recognise that they must take some simple precautions, count to ten before doing anything with something that pops up in their inbox, and refuse to engage with strangers who badger them on the phone. I am not suggesting that we label all who fall for scams as fools, but there is only one answer to the question “What sort of person would be so easily parted from their money?”.

It’s worth recognising that there is not a clear distinction between dubious sales techniques and scamming except that the latter is clearly illegal. Doorstep callers, unsolicited phone calls and marketing emails have made me very suspicious and that has done more than anything else to make me resistant to scams.

Yes we need to be more wary as John has suggested but a great deal more could be done to protect us all by making life much harder for the scammers:

1. Large scammers will make use of banks and card services and at present money might not be recovered. Perhaps these banks should be required to take a hefty deposit before the account holders are allowed banking services, much in the same way that a tenant pays a deposit before they can rent a flat.

2. Online banking has its benefits but being able to transfer money almost immediately has major drawbacks. In the past there was a delay before a cheque could be cashed. I suggest that payments to new payees should be delayed BY DEFAULT for two or three days to allow transfers made in haste to be be investigated and if necessary stopped. If I order groceries online a pending payment shows up in my account but there is time to contact the supermarket if there is a good reason for making changes, for example in the case of substituted products. Some people are losing large sums of money and may realise they have been scammed when they put down the phone.

3. Some scammers are based in other countries, making them difficult to pursue. Perhaps we need to make everyone aware of this. There are other benefits of purchasing from companies based in the UK or at least with a UK operation.

John says “So do we still need to show so much tolerance to people who have been caught by the blatantly obvious? Should we still support the compensation culture whereby people run to their bank for redress when they made an unwise move?“. No. Sympathy is one thing, compensating lack of care is another.

Delaying payments may help but would not deal with fake traders when a duff product turns up – sunglasses for Clarkes shoes for example. Increased awareness is needed and I believe banks should send booklets out to educate their customers; ignoring that advice should put responsibility on the customer. Just as insurers are unlikely to pay out if you leave your keys in your car when told not to.

Certainly banks should be more diligent when they open accounts and should be held liable to make refunds to the sending bank when they are negligent. But where are these negligent banks? Do we have any information on which banks are most implicated and where they are located?

“Delaying payments may help…” Perhaps the banks could make this the default because it would certainly help those who realise immediately that they have been scammed. I have no problem with anyone who wants to forgo this protection doing so.

It would be interesting to know more about receiving banks that are failing to refund payments made to scammers’ accounts. I hope that is not happening in the UK.

Perhaps Which? could investigate the receiving bank issue to see if there is any information available. The banks and their regulator should know this. @gmartin, George, can Which? help with this?

I don’t want my bank transfers or other payments automatically delayed by default. I have suggested earlier that perhaps banks should offer a small range of accounts with different features tailored to the different types and abilities of their clients. I think a delayed payment is only useful if it is referred back to the payee to double check and citing a fraud guidance booklet to remind what to watch for and what not to do. I suspect many pay and forget until they discover they made a mistake when the transaction goes wrong.

Limiting the amounts that can be transferred in a transaction, requiring a second person to authorise a significant transaction, paying to a known payee list rather like those stored under confirmation of payee, for example, and questioning whether you are confident that a new payee is legitimate.

I would like to see anyone duped in a way that shows some irresponsibility, even if they are compensated, have some restrictions placed on their account to help protect them for the future. We all must learn to try to look after our own financial affairs.

We must, I think, be fair to all involved, including all the customers who will foot the compensation bill.

While I agree (until I’m caught) that many scams are easily detected, one of the key ingredients is a bank account that can receive money so that the scammer can process his/her gains. This is where I think the banks could do more. It must be possible to get a profile of a likely “criminal” bank account. Even if the scammer is clever enough to set one up without triggering an alarm, a new account should always be regarded with suspicion until it is established. I doubt (though maybe wrongly) whether a scam account is set up too far in advance of the need to use it. Money coming in and no regular outgoings should also be a clue as should addresses that don’t belong to home owners. Another clue is the instant withdrawing of funds after a payment into the account, within hours or less and then the closing of an account. These actions need to have a time lag attached to them. The bank can also look at the type of payments coming into a new account. Are they all bank transfers? Where from? If we are unable to nail the criminals -and it seems we are unable – then the next best thing is to disrupt their activities. The banks are best placed to do this and have more tools at their disposal than we do as private citizens. Whether we are sympathetic to those who have lost money through negligence, or blaming them for their ineptitude, it is a fact that scammers succeed and cream off a good profit for their activities. We have to look at all avenues of approach to this problem. Maybe, if a bank has to compensate someone for a scam they should have the right to manage the account from there on in as a condition of its continuation. Like taking a driving test, the account holder needs to show that he/she is capable of running it.

Icon apologies, my fault! but can’t rectify the mistake.

What concerns me most, is the affect these scammers are able to exert on the minds of society as a whole over time, when you read of professional highly intelligent people becoming their victims.

Can we now look forward to a nation of schizophrenic type thinking people, whereby they will all develop a paranoiac mindset that renders them continuously suspicious of one another and repeatedly questioning who can I trust?

There are a number of people in every society who are predisposed to schizophrenia, which only needs a trigger in the form of a traumatic event or circumstance to cause this debilitating mental illness to surface, bearing in mind the susceptibility of young developing minds whose future lives will inexorably depend on computers et al to survive. What protection will they have against this toxic computer infiltrated disease that can induce such distress, both at a mental and physical level, to so many innocent victims, and what kind of society can we expect to live in, unless these scammers are caught and brought to suffer the consequences of their evil deeds?

This has now become an insidious problem of global proportions which needs to be addressed at G7 global level, sooner rather later, along with climate change and current and future pandemics.

I agree we should deal with scammers, but how? The world is, and always has been, littered with bad people and we have been unable to deal with many of them. I think all we can do is try to make people more savvy, add precautionary measures, but accept that clever crooks will always stay one step ahead by devising ways around the precautions.

Logic tells me this is essentially a media and computer problem. If scammers continue to use the media as a means of contacting their victims, it is the ultimate responsibility of the computer and media giants to monitor and moderate the source of this toxic infiltration of peoples private lives, their monetary systems and accounts.

We have alarms and security systems to protect our homes and businesses, MI5 operate more intensive security systems to protect us from unwelcome infiltration from foreign spies and invasion, banks have their own security systems to protect themselves from theft, computers will have security systems to protect their users from hacking, so why can’t the computer giants share some of the responsibility of protecting their patrons from fraudsters.

You can continue to educate people about the dangers they face each time they switch their computers on, but, as already discussed, you don’t have to be gullible or naive to be taken in by these manipulative fraudsters.

Thanks, who ever did that! I occasionally slip and forget to sign in properly. Once the box is clicked there’s no going back.

Thought for today

Two of Pavlovs dogs were engaged in conversation and one said to the other, “Watch what I can make Pavlov do; as soon as I drool he’ll smile and write in his little book.”

From what I have been told it’s not a good idea to feed dogs with pavlova.

Unless you happen to be barking mad 🙂

Thought for today

It’s amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper.

When news is in short supply it’s easy to recycle old content, like the joke about the news exactly fitting the newspaper.

” It’s getting harder to remember what a slow news day looked like.
But 87 years ago, on 18 April 1930, the BBC’s news announcer had nothing to communicate. “There is no news,” was the script of the 20:45 news bulletin, before piano music was played for the rest of the 15-minute segment.
There must be other days like that. When my kids ring me for a chat we often ask “any news?” and, often, after a short pause “no, nothing really has happened”.
Maybe on such a day newspapers could appear as blank sheets of paper, maybe with a CD (or a 78) of Liszt to fill the time?

A day with no news is well worth reporting and maybe deserves a pull-out supplement. After all, when did it happen last?

Don’t worry, everything’s fine:-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=caXeAMseve0

From 1937/8 we always had The Dandy and The Beano to fallback on when news was either scant or too depressing, including the likes of Desperate Dan, Rodger the Dodger, Denis the Menace, Minnie the Minx, Ivy the Terrible, Korky the Cat and of course, not forgetting Beryl the Peril 🙂

The latter could explain the reason why my parents decided to address me by my second name!

I rely on Private Eye. In their world news only happens every 2 weeks.
I have to wonder why football figures so prominently in the news. 100% of my family have absolutely no interest in “the beautiful game” (why in earth do some think it “beautiful”). Are we alone?

You could change your username to Beryl the Peril, but that might not be wise. 🙂

…and Keyhole Kate. I thought Gnasher was a good name for Dennis’s dog.

When I had the Beano I am pretty sure it cost 2d. Easily bought out of pocket money. In today’s terms, given inflation, that would be 66d or 5 shillings and 6 pence or 27 1/2 new pennies. I see it actually costs £2.75.

50/50 there’s a TV in the other room.😴

“People should not have to shop around for mandatory tests if they want to travel, or have their hand forced as to who they book with based on limited provision of cheap tests. The government must work to reduce the cost of testing across the board, rather than have consumers rely on a system that is currently fragmented and flawed” https://press.which.co.uk/whichstatements/which-comments-on-tui-introducing-20-covid-tests/

My personal view is that going abroad on holiday at present is too risky because you do not know who else is being let into the destination from other countries, just how effective their precautions are, who you will come into close contact with in the other country, when travelling in close proximity to others and when queuing at airports. The risk is not just to the traveller but more importantly to the rest of the UK.

@jon-stricklin-coutinho, Jon, I may be in a minority believing that holidaying abroad should not be allowed yet. It would be interesting to see what others think. Would Which? like to carry out a survey?

Malcolm, I have no problem with folk being allowed to go on holiday abroad.

But letting them back into the UK afterwards? That’s another matter entirely.

I 100% agree with you malcolm.

Testing only gives results for that moment in time. 30 minutes later the result might be positive, but by that time the infected person is on the flight.

As an absolute minimum, people must be vaccinated before they travel between countries. That is also the carrot the younger generations need to get vaccinated as proved by my friend’s daughters who still think the virus is a government conspiracy (fakebook news).

That’s an interesting question @malcolm-r. A great deal of people told us they didn’t want to travel soon when we asked the question on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/whichuk/posts/4071270086267210 . I’m interested myself, and we’ll have more on this to come in the near future

I agree Malcolm. My daughter has a friend who was nursing covid patients on the IC ward in the local hospital, many of whom claiming they didn’t think covid was real! It’s this kind of mindset that is responsible for spreading the virus to others, and justifies carrying on doing whatever they want, and by travelling to other places, irrespective of the danger posed to others.

Unfortunately, harrowing pictures of distressed people struggling to breathe on their TV screens are to some, just that, as if they were another sci-fi film or video game they can switch on or off according to their own distorted hedonistic perception of reality. They live in their own little comfortable bubble, until one day realty suddenly kicks in and they end up in intensive care, being cared for by my daughters friend, who eventually became so exhausted was compelled to take a month off to recover.

When a prime minister speaks to a nation about singing “happy birthday twice” whilst washing hands, and seems oblivious to the fact that masks worn at the start of the pandemic could have prevented the virus from spreading to others, instead of focussing on the futility of wearing masks to prevent you catching it, a lot more lives might have been saved.

Boris’s bubble unfortunately burst when he realised that just washing hands was not enough to stop a global virus from mutating and relentlessly spreading.to it’s uninitiated, unprepared, and unsuspecting disbelievers.

alfa, I support your suggested theory regarding a data base for travellers to other countries, and this may be an appropriate time to take it further in order to prevent the incoming and outgoing spread of covid and other highly contagious diseases.

I don’t know what’s wrong with the world. I find social distancing a very agreeable state of affairs, and the greater distance the better if they’ve been socialising here or travelled overseas.

I like DerekP’s approach. It accords with mine. Quite why we allow sport people to travel – India for example – and why we have to export footballers to Turkey to play a game just defeats me.

Thanks Beryl, but I don’t suppose the suggestion will go anywhere.

It does seem absolutely ridiculous that 2 English teams travel to Turkey to play against each other, kick a ball around a field, come into contact with goodness knows who at airport, coaches, hotels, restaurants, stadium when Turkey is reporting 26,000+ new cases every day that will likely comprise of African variants.

@chiragkhetiya, thanks Chirag. It is interesting to see the diversity of view and, particularly to my mind, the lack of understanding of some of just how the virus is picked up and transmitted and the danger of that to the rest of us.

PHEV. I’m writing this on the boat. The journey across, about 120 miles, was done with the “Hold” function engaged so I can use the battery round here. (No suitable charging point at the marina.) Nevertheless, about 10% of the battery has been used. The progress here was mostly quite leisurely and I let the car slow and accelerate as it felt like it. The gearbox was in constant use and the battery seemed to be used in any very slow traffic to keep in the queue. The car now tells me that it is doing 45.5 mpg so that has reduced a little despite driving as the car seemed to want to go naturally. On one stretch of road I came across a mobile, mobile home taking a good proportion of the carriageway and it seemed a good idea to pass it quickly. For the first time, I floored the throttle –avoiding the kickdown button at the end of the accelerator travel. It was one of those “bloody hell” moments. The car took off like a rocket and I was somewhat non-plussed for a couple of seconds before dissolving into a fit of giggles, regaining order –and restoring the speed limit. That’s not something I shall be repeating very often. I have just over half a tank of petrol left so when I return, I shall fill up and divide the gallonage by the odometer and let you know the result.
The engine braking , when B mode is engaged, is very useful and really helps on steep inclines. It seems to be progressive, and, approaching a roundabout with no accelerator, the result is a steady increase in retardation so that when all is clear, no brake is needed to go round the roundabout. I’m getting to like this feature and learning when to take the foot from the accelerator before the end of the road.

Ps. The cruise control is easier to use than the instruction manual suggests. A couple of dabs on the steering wheel engages it. It defaults to a distance keeping mode and the default setting is activated quite a long distance from the car/lorry ahead. This means pulling out to overtake earlier than usual or using the accelerator to compensate. The distance control is adjustable, but I haven’t got that far yet.

The by-election result in Hartlepool is a bit of a stunner for Starmer. As landslides go it’s quite dramatic already but I am guessing that to achieve an absolute majority [almost 52%] against fifteen other candidates must be almost unheard of.

We live in interesting times.

A stunning result indeed. But even if the result had gone to Labour, the present Conservative majority would have remained intact. Also, wasn’t Hartlepool strongly pro-Brexit in 2016?

You are right Derek, but I am more concerned about the results coming in from Scotland, which could warrant a new referendum for Scottish independence, and the beginning of the breakup of the UK.

Thanks Beryl. I enjoy your morning thoughts.

If that’s what the Scots really want, then we should let them go instead of fermenting discontent. They will live to regret it, but why hang on to Scotland when it shows its contempt for the rest of us. Having said all that, I think a separate Scotland would be a major tragedy and a very sad day for them and the rest of the UK. I hope that when it comes to the vote, they will see sense but it seems that the nationalist mood has traction north of the border, though why, is beyond me.

You are right Derek – the overall arithmetic at Westminster is not changed by the result. It is arguable that if the Brexit Party had not stood at the 2019 general election the Tories would have won Hartlepool anyway. It shows how important it is for the parties to pick the right candidate for each seat according to the inclinations of the electorate. Too many candidates on all sides try to dictate what the electors should think without regard to the circumstances of the constituency. The new MP for Hartlepool might just merge into the background and then rise without trace.

Given the precedent of the UK having now left the EU, I see it as perfectly reasonable for Scotland to leave the UK, especially if they’d want to rejoin the EU.

Agreed, Derek.

On Scottish independence, if the UK government is put in a position by an overall SNP majority in the Scottish Parliament whereby it virtually has to concede a referendum then it could decide to require a two-thirds majority for breaking away. I share Vynor’s general sentiments about Scottish self-determination.

If Scotland did secede perhaps it could be on condition that anyone in the rest of the UK with a Scottish grandparent would have to migrate there to bolster the country’s economy.

Looking at how divisive Brexit has been, perhaps that should also have needed a two thirds majority.

1,661,191 Scots voted to remain – the majority by 1.6:1
2 263519 Londoners voted to remain – the majority by 1.5;1
Will we see a London referendum to leave the UK (maybe become the capital of the Republic of Scotland?)
I think the Scots should decide for themselves, as should the Irish, but live with the consequences and not expect financial, military or other support from England and Wales.

I think we can easily construct divisive issues. None more so, perhaps, than after a General Election but where, once the result is known, we settle back and live with the incumbent government. We don’t riot in the streets, behead the traitors, not pay our taxes (well, not any more than normal), and we don’t storm Westminster. We accept the majority decision and get on with our lives. We are doing the same with Brexit and should stop reopening old wounds. Some engineer divisiveness to cause trouble; I don’t recall any, or many, occasions when it has been a mass issue and achieved much that was worthwhile.
I suppose the beheading of Charles 1 was a bit divisive, though, that did have a major impact.

Thanks Vynor, I have missed your poetry! Have the creative juices ebbed a little since leaving the tranquility and peace of the river?

It’s the boat! No internet access. I’m tethering my phone just now. There are a couple of verses in the Rhyming Room a few weeks old, but when I have time (pressure washing this afternoon after TWO trips to B&Q – some idiot put a box on sale with half the contents inside!!!) I’ll write something especially for you. Maybe not immediately though.

Patrick Taylor says:
9 May 2021

The downside of first past the post ? I loathe it as the rationale for voting is who you loathe most rather than are their candidates standing who one wants to vote for who will win some representation.

An article from the Independent claims that but for a small number of votes …

Jeremy Corbyn was just 2,227 votes away from chance to be Prime Minister

Winning seven Tory knife-edge seats could have put Labour leader in Downing Street
Harriet Agerholm
Friday 09 June 2017 19:50

Jeremy Corbyn was just 2,227 votes away from having the chance to become Prime Minister in the general election, an analysis of marginal ……

That’s a worrying thought

Thought for today

Yesterday is history
Tomorrow is a mystery
Today is explicitly
The present,
An enduring consistency

I suspect that the virus has something to do with it. The Government has, by default, run the campaign against it and while we might criticize what has been done, perhaps there’s a feeling that the other parties could not have done any better. Maybe the last Labour regime is still to much of a recent memory for some voters and Sir Keir has more work to do to change minds? As you say, interesting times and not something obvious considering the various negative press reports from within the Conservative party. An analysis of the poll will be most instructive to see what motivated the voters here.

I see from a bbc report that some UK residents returning from the Indian sub continent are avoiding expensive UK hotel isolation by staying over in cheaper accommodation in Turkey. Are we confident that Turkey is sufficiently well protected to ensure that these people are safe to return to the UK with no risk of importing infections?

Thankfully Turkey has been added to the Red list of countries from which arrivals must isolate and quarantine in a bid to prevent this avoidance tactic. The UK government is also seeking to repatriate an all-England soccer final from Istanbul to Wembley to enable supporters to watch it without needing to travel abroad. Common sense at last.

Thought for today

Being spiritual has nothing to do with what you believe and everything to do with your state of consciousness.

That is a profound truth, Beryl.

I woke up this morning. That’s good enough for me for the time being.

I sometimes wonder whether I am ever fully awake.

John, you may enjoy the following:

A Zen master was tutoring a new pupil, explaining, “What you need to understand is that you don’t really exist.” To which the pupil replied, “Well to whom are you addressing that.”

PHEV. A couple of vital statistics for you. From a full tank of petrol I have covered 462 miles. Filling up for the second time, today, I put 7.5 gallons of petrol in the tank (33. 86 litres to be precise) This tells me that during that time the car has been returning 61.6 MPG. Now for the bad news -well, not that bad really. Returning from the boat I drove 116 miles starting with the full tank mentioned above. The battery was half empty. Filling up again here at the end of this journey I put 3 gallons of petrol in to top the tank back up (13.48 litres to be precise). This gives me a very wet motorway/ dual carriageway journey of 38.6 MPG. If left to its own devices, the car gobbles up the battery first and when it is empty goes onto petrol, just allowing the battery to start the car rolling or crawl in traffic. If I set a destination on the Sat Nav, it will eek out the battery for the whole journey. The petrol gauge seems to be accurate and drops at a regular speed. That is more than can be said for the prediction of how much range I’ve got. I left the first filling station with 510 miles of range. 20 miles further on the range had dropped to 420 miles of range. Another dashboard gauge that isn’t worth its space on the display!
I’ve learned to adjust the cruise control properly now and it is intuitive except for the fact that I can not have a simple cruise setting. It automatically defaults to a distance controlled cruise. It spots a car ahead about a hundred yards away and reacts to it as one gets nearer. This means either using the accelerator or changing lane to keep the set speed I have chosen.
The phone app tells me the car will be fully charged at 10. 45 tonight and I have 437 miles on the full tank of fuel I’ve just put in. The car went on charge at around 4. 30pm so that’s believable even if if the range isn’t. (38mpg x 13 gallons =497 miles) . Using posh petrol the journey from the boat cost me £18 46p that’s 16p a mile.

Thanks Vynor, some interesting details. My recently acquired 11 year old Note has simple cruise control. I’m finding that quite useful for economical cruising on quiet roads. With such measured driving, I have now averaged about 52.8mpg since my recent trip computer reset. As we move into summer, I might see a further small improvement. On my old Yaris, I used to get slightly more mpg in summer, presumably because less fuel is needed to warm the engine up to operating temperature.

The engine temperature can make a significant difference in fuel economy and one reason is that the oil is more viscous when cold. A temperature gauge usually shows the temperature of the coolant, which is regulated by a thermostat. Some cars also show the oil temperature and this makes it easier to understand why an engine becomes more economical when warm.

It’s interesting to see Vynor’s figures. I’ve never driven or even been in a hybrid car but I would like to be able to reserve battery power for built-up areas to reduce pollution and for use in traffic jams where it’s wasteful to keep the engine running. On the other hand, you would not want to freeze sitting in a traffic jam in cold weather, so it might be worth running the engine. All very complex!

I’d expect a BEV and perhaps also a PHEV to offer electric heating. I once drove a hire car with electric seat heaters that had been left on. Not long after driving away, I discovered an urgent need to turn off that heating, before I was toasted by it. Luckily I did manage to find the switch without any problems.

That’s must be what it means to be in the hot seat. Electric heating in a BEV will, of course, reduce the range. I don’t know how many use heat pumps to increase the efficiency. I presume that in coolish weather, heated seats will be enough to keep the occupants warm without the need for additional heating, in the same way that using an electric blanket uses less energy than heating a room.

Electric seats only warm the posterior and, in my experience, are not suitable for general heating. I use mine rarely, only first thing when it is very cold, and it makes the seat (car and mine) more pleasant but I switch it off after a few minutes when the car heater has begun working as too much local heat becomes uncomfortable.

Does anyone make an electric onesie that can be plugged into the cigarette lighter?

Not quite onesies, but electrically heating clothing is used by some all weather motorcyclists.

My “pipe & slippers” BMW R1150RT had heated handlebar grips – and they were a great help for riding on cold winter days.

Mine offers petrol heating -not something I would have chosen and hopefully not too inflammatory. There is a unit located under the right wheel arch which might smoke from time to time. I don’t know how automatic it is and what control I have over it yet. This compensates for the usual heating when the car is used electrically in winter and preheats the car before entry. The heated seats, etc are usable what ever the power used to drive the car, and I assume that, if the battery is flat, the petrol engine will start up to supply the power for them. Since I last spoke about it, I have adjusted the air conditioning so that it works in any power mode, though probably less vigorously under electric traction.
I mistook the charging time last night. It began at about 6. 15 pm and finished, as promised, at 10′ 45pm.
Using the “Hold” function I can use most of the battery power when I choose and not when the car decides.

The first time I came across a petrol-fired heater in a car was when watching Wheeler Dealers restoring a VW Thing. Never knew such a heater existed these days. I wonder what the emissions are in your car, Vynor, and whether they are taken into official account?

Have you considered converting your boat to electric propulsion, using solar cells as a part source? Or is it wind powered?

The cost of converting the boat would be more than I paid for it. When I investigated this, an engine and batteries were in the tens of thousands of pounds. This surprised me, but I couldn’t find anything much cheaper. I currently have two Ford Cortina engines doing the job!
I would expect burning petrol to heat would be bad for the climate and hope I can avoid using this. It is peculiar that Volvo have chosen this method, though, in some markets (unspecified) the heater is electric.
I suspect that, on the motorway, the car battery range is about ten miles or so. I will try and turn it off in future now I know what the car is doing.

Diesel-powered heaters are widely used for heating vehicles such as HGVs, motorhomes, buses and boats and can use red diesel which is cheaper because it subject to only 5% VAT, like heating oil. I doubt we will see these heaters used in electric cars.

Heat pumps could work well in boats, making use of the cold water they float in. Their efficiency would presumably be between that of air-source and ground-source heat pumps.

Thanks for the extra information, Vynor. This and linked pages explain the petrol heating system: https://www.volvocars.com/uk/support/manuals/v60-twin-engine/2016w17/climate/engine-and-passenger-compartment-heater/fuel-driven-heater

I don’t know how many cars have pre-heating or general heating directly powered by diesel or petrol. I can see advantages in cold climates and maybe that is the origin of Vynor’s. Preheaters are available to retrofit as well as original equipment. https://www.eberspaecher.com/en/products/fuel-operated-heaters/product-portfolio/additional-heaters.

” Diesel-powered heaters are widely used for heating vehicles such as HGVs, motorhomes, buses and boats and can use red diesel which is cheaper ”. They can only use red diesel for heating, of course but not for propulsion. I wonder if they have separate tanks? Electric buses will, of course. It makes sense to have heaters independent of waste engine heat in motor homes, boats and hgvs (with rest accommodation) as heating will be needed when stationary for extended periods.

My understanding is that there is currently no requirement to have separate tanks for propulsion and other uses including heating and electricity generation. I have some knowledge about boats because my family has a yacht with an inboard engine and I know others who have boats or did until recently. With steel boats the tank can form part of the hull and it would be a major job to split it into two tanks, so that a single tank is permitted, but additional taxation is paid for propulsion use.

Some sellers of red diesel for boats use an arbitrary 60:40 split for propulsion:other uses, with additional taxation on the amount intended for propulsion use. Other sellers allow purchasers to declare their own split based on planned use, so if you have a houseboat without an engine you could pay the price for red diesel. I believe that commercial vessels such as fishing boats and trip boats are allowed to use red diesel for propulsion.

The Finance Bill intended to end the use of red diesel for propulsion but I am not aware that there has been any change.

It is illegal to use red diesel for private propulsion, buses, hgvs, boats and the like as far as I understand it. The tax relief – apart from for heating – is mainly for agriculture, fishing and such like. I don’t know how the use for propulsion and heating could be split easily for tax when it all comes from one tank. Having a separate tank for heating seems quite an easy thing to provide. Self declaration is open to abuse but maybe that is tolerated.

I have looked up the rules about leisure boats and it remains legal to use red diesel supplied from a single tank. I have explained the declaration system and that some suppliers can charge on the basis of a 60:40 split. Following a consultation, the government published this document: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reform-of-red-diesel-entitlements/reform-of-red-diesel-and-other-rebated-fuels-entitlement

“At Budget 2021, the government announced its decision not to change the treatment of private pleasure craft in Great Britain, where they will continue to be able to use red diesel and pay their fuel supplier the difference between the red diesel rate and that for white diesel on the proportion they intend to use for propulsion.”

So it is NOT illegal to use red diesel for propulsion.

As I said, the diesel tank forms part the hull in some boats, making it difficult to create a separate tank for diesel used for propulsion and other uses.

The requirements for leisure craft come under the Recreational Craft Directive. It is possible that this may now specify installation of two tanks but I have not checked.

As you say, self-declaration is open to abuse, rather like declaration of all income for tax purposes.

Perhaps Vynor can explain how his marina charges for diesel.

To clarify, by red diesel being misused for propulsion I was referring to that on which only low duty (11p/l) and low vat (5%) had been paid. If HMRC allow a split tax payment when heating is also involved then I hope that is sensibly applied.

To the best of my knowledge it doesn’t stock red diesel. It has two pumps on the river front, one for diesel and one for petrol. We are not allowed to bring cans of fuel on to the marina or fuel our boats at their moorings. Most outboards are petrol, my Cortina engines are petrol and I have to put in a lead substitute as well. Marina staff operate the pumps. I don’t know what prices are charged for fuel as these are not advertised and I haven’t filled the tank for more than a year now. My craft has a separate petrol tank of steel in the stern as it is a fibre glass boat.

Thanks Vynor. The rule about not refilling boats at their moorings is probably for safety and environmental reasons. The lead replacement additive is used to reduce valve seat recession that could otherwise occur as a result of using unleaded fuel in older engines.

I found a marina that advertises its fuel prices online: https://www.sheppertonmarina.co.uk/moorings/marine-fuel/

This shows the 60:40 split I referred to before. This avoids the need to declare the proposed use for propulsion and other purposes.

For someone driving a boat regularly that seems an overly favourable split, particularly so in the summer when many leisure craft will be most used

Patrick Taylor says:
10 May 2021

Is it possible that more Conservatives have pleasure craft than do Labour voters?
The benefits to the UK aviation industry for fuel costs always irks me as a distortion of the market.

Malcolm – Small boats without accommodation will not use diesel for anything other than propulsion. The EU did try to end the use of cheap red diesel in boats.

Patrick makes a good point about the aviation industry.

Without going into any detail, Patrick, you are wrong as far as I am concerned, but then I don’t think of myself in the terms you describe above.
I relinquished the care of my late father in 2017 and, after many retirement years without the freedom to retire properly, I decided to push the boat out. The idea of a second home was unattractive, both in cost and in social terms; denying the local population a chance to live in their own houses. The alternative was a caravan or motor home. Both would need storage; towing was also unattractive and static sites tend to be large and crowded. It was a toss up between a static caravan and a boat. I think the marina is a nicer environment: I can get out on the river when I choose, I have a second home to enjoy without the guilt and, apart from the toilet and running water, the facilities on board are very good. I have described them here before so won’t do so now. The boat saved me thousands of pounds in hotel bills last year for the three months I lived aboard -that was a bonus. Maybe I am lucky enough to be able to enjoy this relaxation. Others may prefer to dine out frequently, go abroad for holidays or cruise, I spend my pocket money on the boat instead. The initial outlay was ten thousand pounds. I have probably spent another two thousand sorting out bits and pieces on board and a thousand on equipping it out. Marina fees are about two and a half thousand pounds a year. For that, I get toilets and showers and a launderette. There is electric access so I can heat and cook, and it is a place to keep the boat in a lovely environment close to all sorts of nature. Water is available on the pontoon and the site is kept clean and tidy by the staff, who are always ready to help. I can empty my own loo on site and buy calor gas if I wish to use the boat cooker rather than my electric hob. In addition I have to insure the boat at £160 and pay a river licence of £250. The only other outgoings are travel to get to the boat, petrol to run it about and electricity from the pontoon.
From the relaxation and enjoyment point of view this has been a good purchase and I am happy to keep the boat and explore the local environment on the water and by car. It doesn’t stop me going elsewhere if I wish to, but this is somewhere to escape any time I choose without booking.
Am I a decadent capitalist? That’s for you all to decide.

Vynor, thanks for all these details about your boat.

Relative to the cost of a caravan or motorhome, £10,000 for a boat that you can sleep in sounds like a good bargain to me.

Also, your marina fees do not seem to be excessive either. I’ve recently come across some holiday parks where the annual site fee was £6000, which I thought would be a lot to pay on top of the cost of a fully self contained holiday home.

Please carry on, Vynor. From an environmental point of view it’s better than flying to holiday destinations in other countries several times a year.

Your tale had me lost in a nostalgic reverie, Vynor. We had a boat some years ago – a sea-going, 44 footer with twin volvo penta engines.

You’re right; relative to motorhomes and caravans they’re no-brainers in terms of peace and quiet, lack of crowding and the gentle pace of life. Because we live in a coastal area. berthing costs are higher, and insurance, outside of the April – September period, prohibitive unless you agree to stay in the Marina for the over-wintering period.

But we virtually brought the boys up on the sea; every summer we’d go to the Western Isles, Ireland or the Isle of Man and it was simply delightful. It was also absorbing to learn navigation, seamanship and marine etiquette and I occasionally have pangs of regret when I see a Princess X95 sailing around the Orme.

The good thing about having a cabin cruiser on a controlled mooring, compared to a second home, is that you don’t have to be there every ten days to mow the lawns in the summer and deal with the other maintenance issues that usually crop up over the winter.

My parents had a ten year fling with a second home near the coast and it wore them out when they were in their fifties; it also meant they rarely went anywhere else on holiday. I have several relatives and friends who have a hideaway in France, Spain or Italy which costs them a fortune and they use increasingly less often – this last year and a half has been a disaster because of the pandemic.

I am not personally a lover of the waterborne life but can readily see the appeal and Vynor is obviously doing something very enjoyable with peace and tranquillity to inspire his muse. If we had decided to have a boat I think the choice of vessel would more likely have been a canal barge for the extra space and accommodation provided but we don’t seem to have the right waterways in our area for that sort of boat – at least you never see any as yachts and motor cruisers seem to predominate. The occasional boating trip is all we get nowadays if the weather starts to look set fair, but at least we can walk from our home to the landing stage and have a day on the Broads with a minimum of advance organisation.

Thought for today

Don’t trust atoms, they make up everything.

Atoms make up molecules – and that’s true.

I need an atomiser for the mole-cules in my garden then.

Thought for today

A boat carrying red diesel crashed into a boat carrying blue diesel and the crew were marooned.

Brilliant Beryl. Cheered me up no end!

We have been discussing red diesel but I had not heard of blue diesel. It seems to be some kind of marijuana. Is the world going to pot?

This may cheer you up Wavechange 🙂

Watch YouTube.com – Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard – Its all going to pot HD (Lyrics)

Just AdBlue

They all look a bit haggard, Beryl. 🙂

It can be an expensive mistake to put AdBlue in your diesel, Malcolm.

@Beryl See the Rhyming Room for response to your post a few days ago.

I was blackly amused to see Johnson attempting to stave off another referendum by Scotland by claiming we’re stronger together. Since he had chosen to lead the Brexit campaign it seems odd he should now want the UK to remain as one country which, historically, we were not.

[Moderator: this comment and its replies were moved from its original location as they were not on topic with the original discussion]

Yes, but Johnson was a Remainer until it suited him to go down the Brexit road for perceived political advantage.

I don’t see the point of standing in the way of people who wish to leave an organisation or union of states. The thing to do is make the best of it. As a kingdom sharing a monarch I am sure Scotland would wish to remain in the Commonwealth if it seceded from the UK.

The notion that Scotland cannot have a referendum because it should be dealing with the outcomes of the coronavirus emergency is far-fetched opportunism. For how many years is CV going to be used as an excuse for doing nothing?

Scotland could be on its own in under a year if we got a move on; the border precedents have all been set and the functional models are in place. Football, rugby and the BBC are already properly organised, so what is the UK waiting for?

Ian, I’m afraid I share that sense of amusement. The UK must leave the EU but Scotland must not leave the UK. Resistance is futile.

I don’t trust any well known politician who decides to switch his allegiance to the opposition party. Likewise I don’t trust anyone who wanted to remain in the EU and after the result was announced now promotes the benefits of being independent of the EU.

I don’t live in Scotland now and recognise that I have no say in the matter of Scottish independence.

Continual reference to the past is not really conducive to the situation we find ourselves in at the present moment, which is:

1. Scotland has a clear majority in support of the SNP.

2. Wales has a clear majority in support of Labour.

3. England has a clear majority in support of Conservatism.

4. N.Ireland continues to be wavering between Unionists and Nationalists.

If you were running a nation with such diverse political affiliations, what would be your approach if your main aim would be to retain the unification of all four deeply divided countries at all cost?

I don’t consider it necessary to retain unification at all if it is not wanted.

However, Scotland’s “clear majority in support of the SNP” might be imperfectly informed at the present time as Gordon Brown has recently averred. Nevertheless, it could go ahead regardless and face the consequences as Brexiteers advocated in regard to the UK and the EU.

I think the issue of Scottish independence would be difficult if Scotland would not become a full member of NATO but self-interest would no doubt prevail.

I would like to have regional parliaments for parts of England. There would still have to be an overall government, however, because some regions would not be self-supporting and require subsidy from others.

Luckily the UK does not have a dictatorship so no one runs this nation – our government operates by consent so has to serve the people by whatever means the people think best at the time and in whatever granular form the people desire.

Thought for today

If all the other nations in the world are in debt, who has got all the money?

I have wondered that, Beryl, particularly since the Covid crisis. Life continues, the stock market rises, we have well stocked shops, businesses still exist, we are spending lots of money we don’t have on infrastructure. I suppose part of the issue is we still have the workforce and we can pay them by borrowing money from ourselves. As for materials, we just give each other lines of credit. We don’t need real money to do that, just numbers on (virtual) paper.

I agree Malcolm, money has now. become more a virtual numerical commodity in a kind of constant perpetual to-ing and fro-ing from one global medium to another, and which remains forever concealed, save for a few printed figures on a screen or a statement of account, and for this reason, it would be nigh on impossible to answer the question.

It was, of cause, originally intended as a thought provoking one-liner.

I prefer people to money. You cannot have an intelligent conversation with money.

It seems unbelievably easy to say “Goodbye!” to money though.

Apparently It was Euripides in the 5th century bc who declared money talks, and 2000 years later Erasmus spoke of the power of money. The precise current locution only began to be used about 1900.