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What’s on your mind today?


Thought for today

I asked God “why are you taking me through troubled waters?” He replied, “Because your enemies can’t swim.”

But there are some dastardly enemies who have boats.

And long range accurate weapons

Engaging with an enemy immediately labels you another enemy. There are no longer any winners, only self destruction of the human species. Diplomacy is the only way forward, but it probably means keeping your head above a few troubled waters en route. Life is not a package tour, it’s more a big adventure.

Some think war, conflict, is the better way to solve disputes. ” Deaths directly caused by the war (including military and civilian fatalities) are estimated at 50–56 million, with an additional estimated 19–28 million deaths from war-related disease and famine.. “ That was WW2. Was that a good outcome?
There is no magic solution to solving conflicts when people want their own way. A bit like Convos sometimes. But, as in war, my guess is the vast majority of the population do not want conflict. So perhaps the answer is to take out those who do. Could we have assassinated Hitler or Saddam Hussein to protect the men, women and children in their, and other countries?

In the Isreali-Palestinian conflict: ” The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has been tracking deaths in the conflict since 2008 and its data shows that 5,600 Palestinians died up to 2020 while 115,000 were injured. 250 Israelis died during the same period while 5,600 were injured. ”. Many of these will be civilians, men, women, children, the elderly…… who are simply trapped. Where are the winners and benefits here?

Make peas, not war.

That’s what the General said from the helicopter – he had a bird’s eye view.

Oh – and his passenger was Weinberger..

I expect that will be of general interest.

malcolm r says: 9th July 2021

Some think war, conflict, is the better way to solve disputes. ” Deaths directly caused by the war (including military and civilian fatalities) are estimated at 50–56 million, with an additional estimated 19–28 million deaths from war-related disease and famine.. “

That was WW2. Was that a good outcome?

It was only one of many outcomes, some good and some bad. But WWII is interesting, partly because the circumstances leading up to it were many and complex. SciFi writers have long toyed with the notion of travelling back in time to assassinate Hitler. But that involves multiple assumptions, the most critical being that Hitler was responsible for everything.

The simple fact is that Hitler was elected democratically, partly as a reaction to years of austerity, and history has shown repeatedly that following a major financial crisis voters swing to the extremes.

So it’s really unsurprising to me that in the years following the 2008 crisis we’ve ended up with the court jester in charge of the UK and the US with Trump.

Getting back to Hitler, he was simply the spokesman for those who saw an opportunity to derive whatever gain they could, by further polarising German society. The systematic slaughter of millions of Jews, Gypsies, Russians and others to whom the circle surrounding Hitler took an instant dislike was almost unspeakable but perhaps the greatest problem was racism: the belief that some countries were peopled by different human species, which automatically rendered them sub-human.

At the root of everything was language which, according to the Racist manuals, meant many of those who didn’t speak German, or its derivative, English, were somehow unfit to be kept alive. They went further, of course. The first person to use petrol in an engine was Siegfried Marcus, and if that’s a name you haven’t heard before it’s because the Nationalsozialismus party deleted his name from the history books and burnt those in which it appeared. He had Jewish ancestry.

Without WWII’s outcome we might still be living in a society envisaged by those around Hitler. Possibly the greatest outcome was the partial unification of Europe, which sought to eliminate those appalling stereotypes perpetuated by those, such as the Daily Mail, who once actively supported Hitler. But the EU is under threat, our departure having done significant damage.

Not only were 70 million lives destroyed but many times more in the children, wives and families that were deprived of their loved ones.
I cannot see any justification for that.

But had the war not been waged, how many more, possibly countless millions, might have faced genocide?

War can only be eliminated by the evolution of human consciousness. It is not until conscious awareness matures and develops to the extent that it finally overcomes that of the conditioned mindset passed on from previous unconscious generations. Wavechange can then look forward to peas with everything. 🙂

Hold on until I have finished reading War and Peas.

This was, of course, the equivalent of the combined populations of the UK, Canada, Australia and Switzerland in 1939. I have no solution to the circumstances that create such a reaction. I firmly believe the vast majority of the world population would not see this as a solution.
However, lets hope diplomacy works, and the current conflict with the EU is resolved without bloodshed. I can live with a sausage war.

In recent times some of the more extreme groups in the world have had such a manic desire to impose their doctrines on the rest of us, and such a hatred of our societies, that they have seen it as a necessity to fight rather than debate. Some also see territory as being important for their power base and the only way to get it is to capture it. Once these organisations get started only force -thus war – can stop them. They may have secret backers from some of the more unpleasant states who see an advantage in destabilising areas of the world for their own future gain. The more peaceful states are also goaded into action when their people get killed and their infrastructure is destroyed in the name of some belief or other.
It is true that Hitler didn’t work alone but under his leadership there was a clear intention to fight and gain territory almost from the beginning of his “democratic” election in1933. It was only when enough of the rest of us saw that one piece of land grabbing would lead inevitably to the next that we decided to fight his regime.
Some of the World powers are still fixated on attacking other civilisations which they see as alien. They don’t go so far as to move tanks about but their clandestine cyber attacks and posturing make for an uneasy peace about the world. I suppose it is easy to classify nations as to those who want to live and let live and those who want to live and spread their own idea of living to those who don’t particularly want it. The need to be top dog in the pack and thus have influence over the rest of it seems to be a recurring theme in history and the human psyche. That’s rather sad.

Vynor, you have very eloquently described the mindset of people without conscience, (unconscious). The person who negated a thumbs up in my comment above is a classic example of an unconscious individual, inasmuch as they are quite unable to grasp the significance of conscious awareness and the depth of the meaning behind it.

At least 66 000 civilians were killed in the Iraq war. 207 000 in Syria including 25 000 children. I do not see that it is “nations” that initiate violence, but regimes. Nations then intervene violently without properly considering the aim or outcome of a “war”. And it is the innocent people who suffer. A sad world with a significant proportion of unpleasant people. I cannot see it changing. The danger is the mass damage they could cause.

The innocent have always suffered, along with the truth. But we probably need to bring things down to a more pragmatic level.

You hear a scream as you’re walking home, and, upon investigation, find a young, teenaged girl being attacked by three older, teenaged boys. As you approach two of the boys move away, but the remaining boy pushes the girl to the floor and stands above her, wielding a baseball bat. clearly incensed with rage and alcohol or drugs. He raises the bat and brings it down, hard, on her arm. He raises it again, by which time you’re close enough to intervene.

What do you do?

You don’ t kill him:-)

I hope you wouldn’t consider that as grounds to start a war!

Agreed, Malcolm. but what do you do?

Ian, to put your question into context, give an unconscious man a gun and he can rob a bank, make him CEO of Goldman Sachs and he can rob the world.

Until all humanity evolves into becoming more consciously aware of the self beyond a conditioned mindset, it is under threat from unconscious people. In the meantime, if diplomacy is not an option, you still need to protect yourself and others from unconscious people, and probably more so if their mind is made more unconscious by over consumption of alcohol or illicit drug use.

My initial reply to Ian’s question is that, in this modern age, one’s obvious reaction should be to whip out a smart phone and video what, if anything, the boy then does to the girl. Hopefully you’ll get a film that will either earn you money from the tabloid press or will go viral on social media. You might even then call the Police.

Alternatively, in olden days and even recently (see:-https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-50608315 ), adults been commended for successful interventions that have stopped attacks, even if those required physical intervention.

Rather cynical, Derek, if worryingly accurate 🙂 And nice analogy, Beryl. I’ll not say more until Malcolm’s formulated his response.

Thought for today

One day I’m going to make onions cry.

Just tell them it’s Frieday

Just give them a lecture on the chemistry that that causes the lachrymatory response and that will make them cry.

Nah – they have a wooden heart…

I like onions and possibly eat them more than I should – raw mostly, with strong cheeze in fresh bread.

But one thing has always baffled me: who on earth thought it was a good idea to try an onion and decide it was good to eat?

You should be fine as long as you don’t suffer from abominable abdominal pain.

A strange phrase. Seemingly of unknown origin.
When I was a sprog my Dad occasionally would boil us each a large onion and serve it with butter. I have never tried it since but I remember enjoying it for supper.

Here are a few more PHEV stats for you. The first is for the period when I last reported, up to yesterday. In that time I had done 263 miles with the milometer registering 1189 miles instead of 926 miles.
The motoring was mostly battery only round town plus three or four longer runs which used petrol. In addition it took me to the boat last Tuesday.- 116 miles of mainly motorway running.
Those 263 miles gave me a running consumption of 62.17 MPG… 4.23 gallons to refill the tank.

Yesterday I took a journey of 197 miles, mostly on A and B roads, mostly on petrol. This gave a consumption of 42.73 MPG… 4.61 gallons to refill the tank.

Today I have returned from the boat and completed the journey, except for the last two miles, on petrol alone. Filling up here gives me a consumption figure of 44. 44 miles per gallon. 116 miles and 2.61 gallons of fuel put in just now. The milometer now reads 1502 miles, which is where I will begin my next report from.

It seems as though ordinary road running, plus a couple of town centres that the sat nav insisted on, is more demanding on fuel than steady motorway driving. On ordinary roads I let the gearbox sort itself out. On the motorway I use top gear manually and only shift down when there is a speed restriction.

If you look at the instantaneous mpg figure you should see that frequent speeding up and slowing down increases fuel consumption, Vynor although that will be partially compensated for by the lower speed than on the motorway.

I’ve just checked and see that in the last 903 miles I have averaged 59.2 mpg, unfortunately in a diesel.

My current average for my 11 year old 1400cc petrol Nissan Note is 54.5mpg, covering all the miles I’ve done since I reset it trip computer several weeks ago.

This figure is helped by cruising at 60mph (or thereabouts) when making non urgent journeys on dual carriageways and motorways and also my 50mph limits on many local country roads. I also strive to avoid driving in town centres, if I possibly can.

Many years ago, a colleague who was asthmatic persuaded me to stop up owning and driving diesel cars. Before that, I had a diesel Fiesta that averaged over 55mpg.

Thought for today

A friends business “Cooking with Spices” has not been successful. His bank have now called in the bay leafs.

They have taken his caraway.
This was also “Thought for 15th June”. How thyme flies. 🙂

I am collecting a series about cooking with herbs and hope that the latest book will appear soon. It’s about Thyme.

Crossword clue : Oh No! Here we groan again! (7).

Is that groan or Goan?


Vynor scores on the rebound.

I don’t know about you, but what ever Boris says tomorrow, I shall be buying a few more masks on my next shopping expedition and will be keeping away from crowds indoors for some time to come.

I think that is exactly the choice we are being given. Many people seem to have made that choice some while ago, so it is probably a pragmatic move.
I will wear a mask in shops, try to keep reasonably socially distanced, use alcohol to treat my hands (and a gin and tonic to protect my insides).
I hope the vaccinations most have had are effective and any Covid we pick up will, at worst, be mild. We have tolerated the flu virus for years without masks and isolation.

I shall be carrying on with click & collect where someone else can collect my groceries. No need for masks outdoors if you can keep away from others.

My scientific advice is to complete vaccination before lifting restrictions.

I will be also be joining the society of maskeraders for some time yet, possibly for all of my remaining time!

By which time those who were the most vulnerable and vaccinated early will be requiring boosters. And, as vaccines are not 100% effective and a significant proportion of the population refuse them, total vaccination protection will never be achieved.
There will never be a good time to return to normal because, inevitably, as restrictions are lifted cases will rise, and some can then say “we told you so”.
It is down to personal attitudes and responsibility.

Are you now happy with permitted foreign travel, Malcolm?

At what point do we permit foreign travel? When the whole world we are likely to encounter has been vaccinated?
I would not holiday abroad, I’d stay in the UK, and I expect many people will. But even staying here exposes you to inevitable dangers from “irresponsible” people, such as those who travelled to England to support the clash with Scotland. That was permitted.
Should we ban foreign travel for a couple of years? I have not seen a consensus view from the informed scientists but I presume they have offered a view.

I know of several anti-vaxxers and they all have one thing in common – they all say they had the virus – before most people were even aware of it. One of them refuses to wear a mask and has obtained fake exemption proof.

I do think lifting restrictions should have waited a few more weeks until more of the population was vaccinated.

And I don’t think foreign travel should be allowed in or out of the country unless you are fully vaccinated. If you can’t or won’t get vaccinated then tough, the health of the majority should come first.

As far as I am aware you do need to be fully vaccinated to travel to amber list countries (if they will accept you). Not children but I believe they need to be tested.

The ultimate aim is to achieve Herd Immunity which can only be achieved with global vaccination. The following excellent website explains in full, exactly what herd immunity means and how it is possible.


If this website can’t be found, try: jhsph.edu/covid-19 – What is Herd Immunity and How Can We Achieve It With COVID-19

Em says:
11 July 2021

We’ve been wearing masks indoors for the last week, as one of the family has tested positive for Covid-19 (lateral flow, then PCR test that afternoon to confirm). We are in self-isolation for another few days.

Yet we have all been double vaccinated. The culprit had his second AZ dose in April. So it would seem from our practical experience that the AZ vaccine does not prevent transmission, but does lessen the impact. He had mistaken it for a cold and cough, until we insisted he take a test.

So if any anti-vaxer is imagining that other people being vaccinated is going to save them from getting Covid-19, please think again. We could so easily have ignored the symptoms and be out there, giving it to you!

A friend had two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. He continued to be very careful about being in proximity with others, but unfortunately he had to go into hospital when away on holiday. He felt ill soon after being discharged, tested positive for Covid and was quite ill before making a recovery.

I hope all goes well, Em.

The vaccines were not claimed to be 100% effective, nor prevent the spread of infection. This is 6 months old and there may be better information. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210203-why-vaccinated-people-may-still-be-able-to-spread-covid-19

I cannot remember anyone who has claimed that vaccines are fully effective and perhaps the known effectiveness should be used in risk evaluation, for example in relation to foreign travel.

More alarming to me is the number of people who assume that wearing a facemask will protect them, when the evidence is still that their primary role is to prevent transmitting infection to others.

My understanding was that (decent) masks do protect others from those who are infected. Wearing a mask is respectful others.

As more become vaccinated the less the disease is likely to spread too rapidly, the less the severity of most infections and the less the pressure on the NHS, giving more scope to treat other health problems.

That’s my point, masks are primarily to protect others, although more effective designs are available.

With over 30k people in hospital, and rising, it may be premature to hope that the NHS can do much to clear the waiting list of people needing treatment.

Last week there were two days when the ducks were tame and didn’t fly off when one got close up. One or two were looking for food, which is forbidden. Come Thursday and they were back to being wild and cautious. Curious. On Thursday night around 1.am they were having a party outside. Lots of quackery and flapping about.

Different ducks Vynor? The party might have had a fox as an uninvited guest.

We used to have regular mallards and mandarins visiting our garden every spring. The mandarins were never tame, but the mallards were.

The mallards were always led by the female who would come to the back door for food. One year she obviously had a new mate who didn’t quite know what to do. The following year he knew.

Then he had a new mate. He sort of taught the female the ropes but she was never as tame as the original. They seem to mate for life until they need a new mate.

That was some years ago now. A pair of mallards visited us this spring but they no longer know why they come. They wandered about the bottom of the garden for a while then left.

Patrick Taylor says:
11 July 2021

From California this is an aspect of gardening machinery that W? does not cover.

“Today, operating the best-selling commercial lawn mower for one hour emits as much smog-forming pollution as driving the best-selling 2017 passenger car, a Toyota Camry, about 300 miles –approximately the distance from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. For the best-selling commercial leaf blower, one hour of operation emits smog-forming pollution comparable to driving a 2017 Toyota Camry about 1100 miles, or approximately the distance from Los Angeles to Denver”

This talks of commercial machines which are , as far as I can see, a third more powerful than the domestic variety.

Obviously electric power either battery or corded is hugely less polluting. I have run my B&D strimmer on the end of a 40m [130ft] extension cable and I would thing that adequate for many gardens. W? unfortunately does not discuss ways to accomplish garden tasks but rather what new machines are available.

Perhaps equally important is the matter of noise and two-stroke leafblowers are percived to be up to four times noisier than battery versions because of deeper notes and this at various disatances – up to 800ft from source. I have no details on cabled leafblowers.

So noisier, polluting, requiring maintenance, there are many reasons why petrol-fuelled garden machines are not desirable. The maturing of the battery driven market now provides an alternative for those where cabled tools are not practicable.

Given that one is buying into a battery “ecosystem” the consideration of the manufacturers range, using the same batteries is important – for instance Makita has over 27.

I hope readers find this thought provoking and consider the value of :
looking beyond individual machines,
the noise and air pollution of petrol engines,
and how extension cables may be useful allowing cabled tools, cheaper then petrol and lithium batteries, can be an answer.

I concur with that Patrick.

Our petrol hedge cutter gives off a lot of fumes when it starts up. We have a B&D battery cutter but the rechargeable batteries didn’t last long giving a very short run time. The batteries also failed and after replacing them once didn’t bother a second time. We then bought a corded trimmer and that is brilliant. Available on demand, and much lighter to handle, it’s a no-brainer really.

It’s quite a complex subject, Patrick. Most petrol-powered garden machines for domestic use still use carburettors, whereas cars have used fuel injection for years. Unlike cars they don’t have a three-way catalytic converter to remove toxic chemicals and soot from burning petrol and oil – rather a lot of oil in the case of two stroke engines. On the other hand these simple engines are not ‘lean burn’, which significantly reduces nitrogen dioxide emissions.

A new problem was introduced with the move to E5 petrol, containing 5% bioethanol, since this can cause problems if allowed to remain in a carburettor during storage, especially with small two stroke engines (strimmers, chainsaws, etc.). The move to E10 petrol later this year (in the UK) will only make matters worse. Husqvarna, Stihl and possibly others sell ethanol-free petrol, which is cheaper than a new carburettor. It’s always worth at least running engines until they stop to drain the carburettor. Some small engines, such as those fitted to Honda suitcase generators, don’t allow this to be done but aftermarket kits are available to allow the carburettor to run dry.

I would strongly agree that using extension leads for garden electrical equipment is the best approach and it may still be working long after your neighbours have scrapped their cordless tools. I would make an exception for small hedge trimmers because it is so easy to cut the cable.

Battery operated hedge trimmers, like petrol versions, are relatively heavy and tiring to use for long periods. You just have to keep the extension lead cable on mains powered versins clear of the cutter bar. No different to a portable circular saw.
One view on E10 from down under. https://www.burkesbackyard.com.au/blogs/don-burkes-blog/petrol-warning/

Yes, I have cut quite a few cords and cursed. Nevertheless, my Al-Ko mains heavy duty hedge trimmer is able to trim most things in my garden and I doubt that a cordless machine would be as effective. It has a coil of tube round the cable close to the cutters and this helps to prevent accidental severing of wire. My petrol chain saw is noisy and very smoky, it being a two stroke engine. I bought it for its ability to reach high up, but even that doesn’t go high enough and the drive shafts are not that strong and fiddly to fix together. Other attachments could be useful, but the brush cutter is not easy to assemble and rather than mess about I’ve gone in and done it by hand clippers. I also have a corded Flymo grass trimmer which works well on thick grass and has one of the better cord systems. Most battery ones are rather feeble. I do like my petrol mower. There is no visible smoke from the exhaust and the oil doesn’t seem to drop from oil change to oil change. This too has enough clout to cope with long grass for as long as there is petrol in the tank and it drives itself. Granted, I haven’t played with a battery one recently, but they do seem to be rather plasticky in construction. Talking of smoking exhausts reminds me of the Arial Arrow motorcycle that was around when I was young. More smoke from those exhausts than from a bonfire.

Vynor – I suggest using a well known brand of pre-mix fuel for your chainsaw rather than mixing it yourself. It may contain less oil but the grade will be right for the job.

Modern two stroke motorcycle engines usually have a separate oil delivery and produce much less smoke than your Ariel Arrow did.

Em says:
11 July 2021

I bought a new Honda “suitcase” EU22i generator three years ago, to replace a faithful, but 30-year-old and very heavy Kawasaki, and for which spare parts are no longer available. The Honda has a switch position that does allow you to run the carbuettor dry before storage. It’s also a one-person job to carry about.

However, it had to go in for a fuel tap recall and the dealer recommened I use Aspen for this and other petrol engine tools that are occasional use. Apparently, this has a shelf life of about 3 years and won’t gum up the carb like regular fuel. It is also ethanol free. I got a few gallons in before the first lockdown and have no complaints.

Thanks Em. That is a worthwhile difference from the EU20i model. It looks as if the smaller EU10i model has not yet been upgraded with a run-dry switch.

The Aspen fuel is often recommended for small two stroke and four stroke engines, and with E10 petrol round the corner the fact that it is ethanol-free will become the key selling point.

As far as I know E5 will be available at many fuel stations for at least 5 years.

Yes, it should remain available as E5 premium grade petrol but ethanol-free fuel is a better choice for the small engines used in chainsaws and strimmers.

Remember to leave your hedge trimmers in the garden shed until after the breeding season. See Hedge cutting and the law –


It is not illegal, but sensible advice. March to August is the main growing season for most hedges and many need trimming in that period.
Hedge cutting and the law
Some mature hedgerows are protected by law but this wouldn’t normally apply to garden hedges.

We recommend avoiding hedge cutting during the main breeding season for nesting birds, which usually runs throughout March to August each year. This can be weather dependent and some birds may nest outside this period, so it is important to always check carefully for active nests prior to cutting…….

Malcolm, it is not illegal to cut garden hedges during March to August, but it is illegal to destroy nesting birds or their eggs in the act of doing so. All birds, their nests and eggs are protected under The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Therefore it is sensible to delay hedge cutting between March to August until after the nesting season.

It’s important to include the whole feature when commenting, not just to the section that may conveniently relate to each individual persons requirement or needs.

The full RSPB text was available to anyone through your link, Beryl, so I did not see the necessity to quote it in its entirety, simply the bit to clear up the illegality question. The ……… indicated it was not a complete quote.

The link should, I think, have a . instead of a , after www? The link failed for me.

Deliberately destroying birds nests, eggs and their young has been illegal for a long time.

Malcolm, the link was easy to locate for most, even with a comma instead of a full stop, but your original response succinctly evaded the salient point, which was, trimming a garden hedge during the nesting season is going to disturb a nesting bird and her eggs, resulting in abandonment of both..

That is not the same as deliberately destroying a birds nest and eggs, but you are still contravening The Wildlife and Countryside Act if you cut your hedge when birds are nesting within it. If you or your neighbour decide to cut your hedge when birds are nesting there you are still breaking the law.

True nature lovers will already be very aware of this fundamental piece of factual legislative information.

The link goes on to say ”It is an intentional act, for example, if you or your neighbour know there is an active nest in the hedge and still cut the hedge, damaging or destroying the nest or contents in the process”.

I most certainly was not “evasive” and anyone following the link can read what the RSPB say in full.

The link did not work several times for me; I can’t comment on how other people were affected. I found my way by another route.

I am in no way disagreeing about the need to protect nesting birds. I take care when trimming my hedges but, regrettably, like many people they do need keeping in order. I provide food, nesting boxes, and watch for activity.

Beryl – Here is the full link that is I believe the one you tried to provide: https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/gardening-for-wildlife/plants-for-wildlife/garden-hedges/hedge-law/

I no longer have any hedges but still have to be careful about birds nesting elsewhere. I’m involved with a society that works with Natural England and we once had to wait for grey wagtail to finish nesting in damaged brickwork before we were allowed to carry out planned repairs. Ground-nesting birds can abandon their nests if disturbed by dogs but few seem aware of this.

It took a while, but we got to there eventually! Links don’t often work, but most recognise a typo when it occurs without too much ado.

If a link doesn’t work, even when there isn’t an obvious mistake, in this case you could have logged onto The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 – Garden Hedges Birds and the Law. No doubt the complete article would appear for all to read and comment on.

I can’t comment on cuckoos, but I imagine they are aloud to take over another’s nest without fear of prosecution, but I think JW is better qualified to advise on cuckoos than I 🙂

I am having the same problem with bees Wavechange, and they are not yet lawfully protected, but in my bumble, sorry humble opinion they ought to be. 🙂

Your machine is not displaying full URLs, Beryl, the missing part being replaced with …

Perhaps it would be best to doing what you did before, which usually helped us to track down articles.

I wonder if anyone uses hedge funds to save for a new hedgetrimmer.

Beryl – I believe the main threat to bees is the use of pesticides and although neonicotinoids were banned they can now be used for certain purposes.

So far as managing garden hedges, shrubbery and trees during the summer months is concerned, I think formative pruning, thinning and shaping should be done over the autumn and winter followed by a light clip and trim before March each year. Further infrequent light work may be carried out during the spring and summer provided there is no risk of disturbance to birds’ nests in the area to be managed. Ample provision of nesting boxes can help the birds but many species naturally and instinctively build their nests in dense vegetation. The dedicated gardener is constantly aware of what is going on in the garden and needs no lectures on how to protect the wildlife.

I have nothing to say in respect of the cuckoo in this context other than it is usually the mother bird of the occupied nest who chucks out her own eggs or fledglings to make space for the parasitic cuckoo’s offspring [although sometimes the faster-growing cuckoo chicks evict the competing young]. This particular variety of cuckoo — they don’t all behave like this — is a thoroughly disreputable bird but is just as protected by law as all other wildlife in the UK.

Bees are protected by law. It is a crime to inflict cruelty on wildlife but this allows humane methods for controlling pests or nuisances where it is essential in the interests of public health or safety to the minimum extent necessary .

Nature tolerates natural attrition.

I wasn’t expecting a lesson on the birds and bees this afternoon.

Young owls at their smaller brother or sister if they get hungry. That’s practical but not very nice.

The bees I disturbed when emptying my compost heap were carefully relocated in a large terracotta pot and seem to have settled in nicely.

Then, today, while digging out a pile of pile of old turves that I created a couple of years ago to make some loam, I came across another settlement of the same type of bee. So I, as carefully as possible, separated what I thought was their nest on a shovel and put that in another broken pot nearby. I don’t think I got all of it so another removal day tomorrow. They are not aggressive. I would have been very upset.

I wonder if they are similar bees to yours, Beryl. About the same size as honey bees but perhaps a bit rounder.

The pest control guy said they were bumble bees. They are black with yellow stripes and quite big. I am unable to remove them as they are inside the foundation bricks under the UPVC door sill and entering and exiting in the gaps between the bricks. If they don’t take off by the end of July, I will contact a local beekeeper to smoke them out. In any event, I will have to arrange for the gaps to be filled to prevent their return.

Patrick Taylor says:
11 July 2021

So would it be correct for W? to provide this sort of overview? Experience that may help a buyer. !!

I note the problem with hedgetrimmers and I have cut a cable a few times myself. The addition of a thicker protective tube is noted and I considered a lightweight hose.

The note on the ethanol fuel is always worth mentioning. I am curious in the mention of fuel stored in metal cans does not include a reference to plastic ones.

I have a mix of petrol and cabled electric equipment and a bit of a crossover from the workshop – a battery reciprocating saw which with a long coarse wood blade is excellent for heavy pruning. It is a Parkside 20V which brings on the subject of “battery families” and how long they will be available and the number of devices driven [and whether they are all relevant to a purchaser].

There is certainly a need to provide a warning about ethanol in petrol and with E10 fuel coming soon, now would be a good time. Just tonight I have been speaking to a friend who has ordered a new carburettor for his strimmer because of fuel problems.

The future availability of battery packs and interchangeability are points that are easy to understand but might not be thought about before purchase. Whether a battery pack has ‘active cell balancing’ is very important. What this does is to compensate for the differing capacity of individual cells during the life of the product by allowing the strongest cells to charge their weaker neighbours. Without cell balancing the run time will progressively become shorter, and with lawnmowers it tends to be on the low side when they are new, and can only get worse. Long-term testing could reveal differences but it’s quicker to open a battery pack and look for tell tale wires between every cell.

I have seen a hobbyist dismantle both 12 and 20V Parkside battery packs and he concluded that the latter had cell balancing but he did not go far enough to demonstrate this unequivocally.

A length of hosepipe secured over the vulnerable part of a hedge trimmer cable can provide good protection if the blades are sufficiently close together to exclude the pipe and cable.

Agreed on Aspen. Not being able to drain carbs on strimmer or ride-on (both Honda), last fill or two of the season it’s worth using Aspen. I get through probably 15 gallons in a season so to use Aspen all the time would pay for several carbs!

Had to replace the carb on (20+ year old) Howard Rotavator – everything totally gummed up. Certainly run the carb dry by turning off fuel tap and letting it stall – but how dry is dry? When the float chamber get about 30% full it will stop through being too lean. Only way really is to slacken the bolt and let it drip out. Unsatisfactory.

It’s certainly best to drain the float bowl before extended storage, and often there is a separate screw to do this. When allowing a carburettor to run dry, gradually opening the choke when the engine starts to run lean and hunt will help remove more of the remaining fuel.

Would that it were not a bistable-driven flap!

That made me laugh, Roger. Sometimes I yearn for the days when life was simpler.

Our neighbours (4 houses and almost 40 years ago) had a Mk 4 Cortina automatic and the auto choke was in dire need of adjustment. It idled too fast, and unless he let it almost fully warm up in his drive, as soon as he put it in gear the car stalled.

For what it’s worth I know I could have fixed it (despite the flawed concept they were actually quite straightforward to adjust) – and I also know I could have almost certainly managed to overcome the problem just by throttle control while selecting a gear.

I remember the foibles of automatic chokes, though I never had the displeasure with the cars I owned. I remember a neighbour who would spend ages cranking his Hillman before setting off for work. Sometimes it was push and go whether it would start.

Phil says:
12 July 2021

I had much the same problem with the automatic choke on a car I had. I converted mine back to manual and as Halfrauds sold kits for that purpose I deduce that it was fairly common.

The point for discussion was which marque had the worst auto-choke and I think the result was a draw.

Modern cars can be fun too. I had one where the CD player refused to eject any of the CDs. I just disconnected the battery for a few seconds and normal service was resumed.

Em says:
12 July 2021

Be careful how you apply that. My Toyota RAV4 developed a faulty DVD reader as used by the sat nav. We just ignored that and bought a Garmin when we found out the staggering cost of a repair. The radio and bluetooth hands-free phone still continued to work fine.

When the car needed a new battery, the Toyota dealer obviously disconnected the battery. They could not re-initialize the sat nav system without a functioning DVD player … . Toyota had no solution to this other than to use the broken sat nav as a door stop. Found a reconned unit for £180, which I installed myself.

It was years ago and at the time I was not aware that disconnecting a battery except for the need to use a code to activate the radio.

I had fun with a TomTom sat nav that occasionally refused to operate. The solution was to either disconnect the internal battery or wait for it to discharge, which could take several days. I bought a Garmin and that has worked impeccably.

It’s bad when a main dealer struggles. My car failed the MOT recently because the horn did not work. It’s not something I use. The main dealer took two days to diagnose the problem as a fuse in the wrong position, which is the strangest diagnosis I have ever heard. I presume they reset something to do with a computer. At least they only charged me £114 for the privilege.

“The main dealer took two days to diagnose the problem as a fuse in the wrong position, which is the strangest diagnosis I have ever heard. I presume they reset something to do with a computer. At least they only charged me £114 for the privilege.”

If this car was main dealer serviced since the previous MOT/since new if younger than 3 years old, I think I’d have challenged that.

Unfortunately the MOT garage had tried to fix the problem but failed, so they refused to accept payment. It’s possible that they had accidentally moved the fuse.

The last time the main dealer saw the car was when they carried out work in connection with the VW emissions cheat. They happened to notice that both rear shock absorbers were leaking and offered to replace them before the forthcoming MOT. My trustworthy garage said that there was nothing wrong and suggested that the main dealer had ‘sprayed WD40’ to simulate leakage. I did send Which? a link to a video showing the ‘leaking’ shock absorbers but heard nothing. Years later, my shock absorbers are still fine.

I suppose that I should have reported this case to Trading Standards but on past experience they would not have taken any action unless they had other reports.

Thought for today

Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

Perhaps we should start a petition on change.org

You will need accesstocash.org.

Em says:
12 July 2021

I note a lot of scams being reported on Convo include a phrase that uses the word purporting:

“… contacted by … purporting to be …”

I wasn’t convinced that this usage is quite correct. The OED confirms my expected definition, but the Cambridge online dictionary defines purport as:

to pretend to be or to do something, especially in a way that is not easy to believe

In which case, why are these people being taken in? Maybe if more people relied on the Cambridge dictionary, we could reduce the number of scams 🙂

I thought purrporting was something to do with moving the cat.

I have just received an email quote from a Which? Trusted Trader to fix a problem with the cloakroom toilet.

I was quite happy with a quote of £84.00 to cover assessment of the problem plus repair, if in fact, it was repairable. I contacted them by phone to establish whether their original quote would just include assessment, plus repair, plus call out charge but not parts and labour if another visit was necessary, which they said was correct.

However, in the event of the toilet not being repairable but needing replacement parts, I would need another separate quote for parts, plus labour, plus another call out charge, when I have already paid their original quote of £84.00 for the first assessment and call out charge. I explained I would much prefer if they first come out, assess the situation and then submit one quote either just for repairs or another one just for labour, plus extra parts plus call out, whichever the case may be. They said no, which means I have to first agree to pay £84.00 for the first assessment without any repair in the event of it not being repairable, when I will then be expected to pay for another call out charge plus labour, plus parts.

I refused their quote on the grounds that I would not be duped into paying for 2 call out charges when only one was necessary.

Ouch. I would hope that a plumber would carry the necessary spares provided that the problem was with the filling/emptying mechanisms or a leaking seal, and that the toilet is not an unusual design.

The last twice I contacted Trusted Traders, no-one turned up. One was to do a routine boiler service and the other to measure up for replacement of several double-glazed units.

Unless it’s urgent, hopefully you can get a better price, Beryl.

Some months ago, the cistern of my brother’s cloakroom toilet was beyond repair. It’s ceramic body had cracked and was leaking.

I found a nice cheap replacement at Screwfix and fitted it in an afternoon.

B&Q also carry a good range of parts. Usually ball valves and flush vales can be replaced as complete items for little more than the cost of individual parts.

I’d hope a Trusted Trader would keep a good stock of such items.

I appreciate that not everyone can do this, but it certainly pays to live within five minutes’ drive of various plumbers’ and builders’ merchants.

It means jobs don’t have to stand still because there isn’t a particular part on the van. Our own trusted traders, of many years’ standing, always seem to have the right part or fitting when they come to do a job — I have not had any success with Which? Trusted Traders and sometimes wonder whether the assessment process is adequate.

I also keep a range of salvaged spare parts which can be pressed into service if necessary. I am currently having a clear-out and it is surprising what I have accumulated over the years. A trip to the car boot sale might be in order to downsize the hardware and ironmongery stores.

My plumber services my gas boiler annually. When it needed new flue sensors that had eroded he went to the merchant around 6 miles away to get the spares. He only charged for the time he spent actually doing the repair.

Travelling to and from a job is time a tradesman is not earning money and has to be paid for some how, either through a call out charge, higher hourly rates or excessive mark ups. In my case it probably appeared in the rate but the job was done at a very fair price so I am not complaining.

What a rip-off. We had similar happen with an Alfa Romeo dealership many years ago and haven’t used one since.

Beryl, do you have British Gas HomeCare or something similar? When we had a leaking pipe, I called them and asked if we added plumbing to the cover how quickly they could send someone out. By doing it that way, you know how much it is going to cost as all parts and labour will be included and you will have no problems getting them back if necessary.

That was a few years ago now, and they might be stricter on joining for instant work, but it might be worth a try.


I have now read your other posts so you won’t have annual cover.

I think the best way, if you can find one, is to get a local independent plumber. Asking around can often uncover one people have had good experience of. I have known of mine for around 10 years and while, apart from the annual boiler service, don’t use him a lot ((I’ve done my own plumbing repairs) over the last 3 years I have had 3 emergencies caused by leaks/bursts in thinning copper mains pipes ( all now replaced). Each time he came very quickly to sort it out and charged a fair price (no opportunity to provide an estimate!).

His only failure was when he’d an eye infection and wore glasses instead of contact lenses. Put his foot through the ceiling. But sent round his friend the plasterer who did a great repair job – a new name on my tradesmen’s list to use or recommend.

I take Derek’s approach. Around three years ago I visited B&Q to purchase a ball float valve for the downstairs toilet. The part cost about £8. We now have a Screwfix on the outskirts of town. They don’t have a display but tend to be cheaper.

My most recent plumbing job was to replace the stiff screwdriver-operated service valve used to turn off the outside tap over winter with a lever-operated ball valve, which is much more convenient. £5 from Screwfix.

Tradesmen have to make a living and the labour charge can far exceed the cost of parts for simple jobs, like the ones I have mentioned above. I would hope that potential customers are asked to explain the problem or job so that they have a good chance of bringing the parts needed.

No alfa, I was under the impression it was better to stick with the independents. The one I use usually does a good job. but, rightly or wrongly, I do think that once a Which? Trusted Trader, the charges go up.with the status.

BG Homecare did give us peace of mind including an annual service and all parts and labour without quibble on any work that needed doing, but they put the cost up too much when we had a new boiler that was also guaranteed by the manufacturer, so in effect they wanted to charge us for a repair service for which we were already covered for 5 years.

Because of Covid, we didn’t have the boiler serviced last year so have now not met the conditions of the boiler guarantee – not really a problem on a new boiler except for the filter that must be replaced before next winter.

We don’t seem to fare well with independents but have a short list of local gas registered people to research. Sometimes peace of mind is worth paying for, knowing the problem will get fixed fairly quickly and you won’t be overcharged for unnecessary work, so there is a good chance we will be going back to BG in the not-to-distant future. Unlike car, home, buildings and washing machine insurance, at least we get a minimum of an annual service for our money.

Alfa – As long as the ‘filter’ (actually a magnetic trap) is accessible it is very easy to inspect and clean it after temporarily closing the isolation valves on either side: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JODyoK40uw0 I’m not aware of the need to replace parts since the seal should last for years, especially if greased as suggested.

Thanks for the link wavechange, doesn’t look too difficult. Unfortunately, the filter is on top of the boiler and just under the ceiling so not easy to get at. If hubby wasn’t around and it was lower down . . . . 🤔

I guess the fitter read the advice to fit it between the last radiator and the boiler, rather than a more convenient place, but I am not convinced that this is important.

I don’t have one on my old system and believe the top priority is to add corrosion inhibitor and to top this up occasionally, especially the system water has been drained to carry out any work such as replacing a valve or a radiator.

Thanks Wavechange, the last time this same company serviced my boiler, they recommended a new thermal coupling, although the old one was still working. I asked If he had a replacement in his van but because of the boilers age he was having to order it. This meant another call at a later date, culminating in a large bill that was more than the original service charge. I agree with you, a Trusted Trader should carry a selection of spares with them, especially a thermal coupling, as they are the most likely part that needs replacing, in older type gas boiler in particular.

Thankfully it’s not urgent as I have another toilet upstairs and the extra nexercise is helping to keep me fit.

I despair, Beryl. As you say, thermocouples are commonly required replacement parts for old boilers such as your Glow-worm Hideaway. If I was a Gas-Safe engineer or taking servicing requests on behalf of one I would ask about the make and model of boiler and turn up with relevant spare parts. Thermocouples are still widely available and inexpensive. B&Q charge £7.87 for one.

OMG Wavechange, I was charged over £100 for replacement coupling and labour plus call out by a Which? Trusted Trader, plus £90 I had already paid for service charge. Time to shop around for more reasonable traders that don’t come supporting a Which? emblem me thinks.

Here is the evidence, Beryl: https://www.diy.com/departments/plumbsure-universal-threaded-thermocouple-dia-900mm/178359_BQ.prd This type will fit the majority of old boilers and they are even cheaper in Screwfix. They don’t need to be replaced at every service and should last at least five years, but boilers can differ.

I am rather wary of service engineers because I have seen examples of perfectly good parts being repaired. What can happen is a new part is fitted, that does not fix the fault and then other new parts are fitted until the appliance has been repaired. The customer has to pay for the replaced parts. This is nothing new and my first encounter with the practice was in 1966.

I am not trying to criticise Trusted Traders and on the two occasions that I have managed to recruit one to do a job I have been happy with their work and charges.

Thanks for the link Wavechange, I think a course in electrical engineering for seniors could save me a lot of money.

Book me in please, Beryl. It’s difficult to keep up with change.

Will do when feeling a little more human Wavechange. Bad start today with tummy trouble, hence the ‘thought for today’ delay. Meantime, its chicken soup on the menu followed by gallons of water 🙁

Thanks Jon, I blame it on too much Wimbledon excitement over the past two weeks, followed by the footy at the weekend.

I read this morning that police have seized millions of pounds worth of crypto-currency from money launderers. Since this currency doesn’t actually exist in any real form, I wonder how they did that.

Perhaps they transferred it electronically bit by bit?

I wondered that. I know almost nothing about crypto-currency but there are images of ‘coins’. Does it ever appear in material form, or is it stored in a virtual ‘vault’? It must be exchangeable into folding money at some point otherwise it would have no point.

And what do the police do with the crypto-currency when they discover it? Does it get liquidated or converted back into real money?

Here is a simple explanation, John: https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/25622442

Physical bitcoins do exist but I’m not sure how much they are used.

My guess is that this crypto money is used to buy things and then these are sold on the regular market for actual cash.

Thanks, Wavechange.

I have decided to take no further interest in crypto-currency.

I shall not be investing, so, therefore, I am out.

It all seems a bitcoiny to me.

re bitcoins. I am really none the wiser when I am told this “Or they can be created using a computer..

I’m not planning to invest in Bitcoin, etc. The amount of energy used in Bitcoin mining is huge, though I do not know if the same applies to other cryptocurrencies. Avoid.

Thought for today

Q. Why did the bank teller leave her job?

A. She lost interest.

There are other activities from which withdrawal means a loss of interest.

She might have left to do an interesting job that does not involve money.

I wouldn’t bank on it. Perhaps she just wanted to work aloan?

Em says:
13 July 2021

Please, no Greta Garbo or Lone Ranger jokes.

Did you know that “Tonto” means fool in Spanish? How did they get away with that? Although I suppose it is better than being called a rap – ist by Trump.

I’m afraid my favourite loan joke is no longer pee cee, so I’ll refrain.

I think we should ban pc and just say what we think. At least that would be honest. Why should I abide by someone else’s opinions?