Platinum Jubilee: So What?

Anyone who reads this blog must already be aware that I am not a Royalist. I am the opposite of a royalist, not in favour of a monarchy, whoever represents that institution.

Now we are faced with a seemingly endless ‘celebration’ of Elizabeth II being queen for 70 years. Commercialism run riot. Souvenir coins, Queen face masks, special edition magazines, crockery, mugs, cakes, T-shirts, flags, even special packets of biscuits and sweets. The sycophantic newspapers and TV channels are getting set for a season of ‘Jubilee Tributes’ and broadcasts, and millions of ordinary people are staging Jubilee parties in streets, schools, parks, and other venues.

Elizabeth Windsor is one of the richest people in Europe. Her ‘personal wealth’ (that inherited wealth stolen by her ancestors over the centuries from other people and the colonies of the former Empire) is estimated to be around £350,000,000. As well as that, the taxpayers contribute millions to her upkeep, and that of some of her extended family. Many members of that family live in reasonably luxurious rent-free ‘Grace and Favour’ apartments or palaces, also at public expense.

2022 may be her 70th year as monarch, but it also happens to be the year when the cost of living in Britain has never been higher. The year when food prices, gas prices, petrol prices, and electricity prices have become unaffordable for many hard-working people on low wages. When there are more Food Banks in most British towns than actual banks, and many families will not be heating their homes properly this winter because they simply cannot afford to do so.

It is also the year when a discredited, lying, and corrupt Prime Minister refused to resign. When his lies were discovered, he changed the Ministerial Code of Parliament so he would no longer be subject to it. A dictator in all but name, using Royalist ballyhoo to cover up his own shameful political record.

The estimated cost of all this wonderful Platinum Jubliee celebration to the nation? £1,3000,000,000. That is ONE POINT THREE BILLION POUNDS.

I can think of far better ways to spend that, in a time of crisis.

You will find me celebrating when the monarchy is abolished, and not before.

Sunday Stuff: On The First Sunday Of April

The weather remains sunny but cold. Beetley escaped the forecast snow, though there was some snowfall as close as two miles south.


It might just be me, but this year seems to be going by very fast. Three months in, fourth month on the calendar, and it still seems to me that Christmas was only a couple of weeks ago.


Ollie has stopped moulting so badly, so I am hoping his new summer coat is fully grown now. He is still rather sluggish on his walks, becoming stiff-legged after less than 90 minutes.


We have our grandson here. He stayed overnight yesterday, and Julie took him to the cinema to see ‘Sonic 2’. He loved it, she dropped off to sleep in the warm dark auditorium. When they got back, we took him for dinner at a local pub, and later this afternoon Julie will drive him home.


Panic buying of petrol and diesel has started again, following climate change protesters blocking some fuel depots. Now all three petrol stations in town are closed, as they have run out of everything. I believe it is high time the fuel retailers imposed a minimum/maximum purchase limit of £50, to stop people constantly topping up car tanks.


Still no news about my driving licence. I contacted my member of parliament by email, and his staff have assured me that he will investigate my case with the DVLA. The small irritations of me not being able to drive are beginning to bite. Julie was asked to work extra hours next Thursday, and would have welcomed the additional salary. However, Ollie has a long-term booking at the groomer for that day, and we are unable to change it. So she has to decline working overtime, as she will have to drive Ollie to Scarning. This also impacted with Ollie’s Vet trip to get his annual booster jabs. We cannot tie in a time when a Vet is available and Julie is around to drive. Now she has to try to change shifts next week so we can arrange to take Ollie to Swaffham.


All of us are feeling the pinch of prices rising on everything. The biggest rises are yet to come, especially on bread and flour, as long as the war in Ukraine continues. Even if it stopped now, Ukraine has been unable to plant wheat, and it is one of the biggest exporters of that staple. I am expecting things to get much worse by late summer, and possibly far worse than that by October, when the utility companies add their second massive increase on gas and electricity prices just before we face the winter months.


I hope you can stay chirpy, and make the most of your Sunday.


Free Or Paid Plan on WordPress? Read this!

WordPress is about to change the variety of plans available to bloggers. In their ongoing quest to pander to business users, (and to make more money) only TWO plans will be offered in future.


*There will also be a monthly limit on views of your blog! So much for expanding your community!

The Free plan will allow ONLY 0.5 GB of storage space. If you use more than that, WP will potentially delete the photos in your media library. The Pro plan allows 50 GB, and retains the features of Premium, with some extras. Bloggers already getting the free 3 GB allowance on the Free plan, or 13 GB on the Premium plan will retain that.

For now.

But the cost of the Pro plan will be $180 a year, paid in advance. This is going to impact millions of WP bloggers around the world, at a time when the cost of living is increasing to levels not seen since WW2.

Read this post from Bookstooge, for a detailed explanation. Then get angry!

S.A.D. Lamp: An Update

I promised to update everyone about my S.A.D. Lamp.

(Seasonal affective disorder)

Winter is almost over. The daffodils are out now, and we have temperatures approaching 17C today.

So how did the SAD lamp cope through all those months of gloom? Dark at 15:30, rain, sleet, and snow, and me blogging away in a small office room lit only by my special lamp.

Well, it does seem to be positive.

I didn’t stop blogging. If anything, I posted more stuff.

My general mood was good overall, and I have been sleeping well.

Is a SAD lamp worth trying? I have to say ‘Yes’. As long as you don’t pay too much for it, and only leave it on when the sky outside is dull and unispiring.

Or when it is depressingly dark at 11 am.

Under £25, they are good value. But don’t pay more. I have links, if you need them.

Plugged into your PC, or laptop, they need no other power source.

Go for it. What have you got to lose?

In Vino Veritas

Regular readers will be well-aware of my love of red wine. For more than thirty years now, it has been the only alcohol that I drink on a regular basis. I don’t hold with the traditional idea that certain wines have to be drunk to accompany different foods. I always have red, even with fish and seafood. My fondness for the grape even led me to be given a nickname, when I was still living in London. ‘Merlot Pete’. Now I am older, I try to limit myself to two bottles a week. But I don’t spread that out, instead I drink one whole bottle, on two different days, and abstain on the other five.

A regular size bottle of wine holds three-quarters of a litre, or 75 centilitres, if you prefer. The provides me with three large glasses, each containing close to 250 millilitres. So, one glass whilst cooking diner, then usually two more glasses after eating. If I open a bottle just after 6 pm, it will be empty by 8. One aspect of advancing years is that wine-drinking has a tendency to make me sleepy, so I am often in bed by 11, on the nights I decide to enjoy a drink. Modern wine production has seen the introduction of artificial corks, followed by the ubiquitous screw top. You almost never need to have to taste wine anymore, as there is so little chance of it being spoilt by corrupted corks.

I thought I would share a few of my favourites with you. Perhaps you would like to try some, or maybe you have never liked red wine. Either way, it might be of some passing interest.

This plummy-tasting wine is often reviled by serious wine buffs. I like it, though I prefer this less-sweet Chilean variety, to the more common Californian products on sale.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.
This lighter Italian wine has a real ‘zest’ on the tongue. It is a wine that goes with anything, and can also be drunk without food.

Rioja Gran Reserva.
This rather dense and heavy Spanish wine is one of the few that still comes complete with a traditional cork. Best consumed with food, for the ideal flavour.

A grape from South Africa that became popular more recently. It has a distinctive flavour, and I soon acquired a taste for it. My second favourite wine.

Gevrey Chambertin.
For me, this is the King of Red Wine. The French Burgundy is dark, and full of flavour. Unfortunately, the high price these days means that it has to be reserved for special occasions.

A short introduction to red wine. If you like the look of them, most can be bought for between £6-£8 a bottle, in any supermarket. Except for the Gevry-Chambertin, which might set you back around £30.


Christmas Cards

There was a time when I used to send over one hundred Christmas cards. I was so obsessed with missing the posting dates, that I resolved to send them early, very early. For many years, I would ensure that they were all in the post by the second week of November. This understandably irritated some of the recipients, as by the time they were receiving more cards, my one had long been lost or mislaid.

The large number I sent was not only to family members, and long standing friends. It also included former school friends I had not seen since I was seventeen, work colleagues from jobs I had done in the past, and even neighbours next door to houses I had long since sold and moved from. And that amount didn’t include those I might hand out personally, to people I was working with, staff at hospitals, and people at places I encountered in my everyday working life.

This may seem excessive, I agree. However, I saw it as a way of keeping in touch, mostly with people I would never see again, or rarely met up with anymore. And most of them seemed to enjoy that contact; returning cards containing recent photos, family updates contained in short letters, and very often a change of address notification, as they moved around. I would generally receive almost the same amount, often more than I had sent. It made me feel good, to keep up that annual tradition of ‘touching base’ with so many people, far and wide.

Over the decades, I noticed some changes in my address book, and noted that some people no longer sent me cards in return. A few had died, and some had gone so far as to inform me that they would no longer be sending any cards. That was fair enough, I still sent them one anyway. The arrival of the Internet meant that some people began to send a generic ‘Electronic card’, adding every contact in their email address book, and just clicking ‘Send’. I could understand that too, as postage costs in Britain were becoming steep, with the price of a stamp far exceeding the cost of the card inside the envelope. But I budgeted for those increases, and carried on sending my hundred-plus cards every year.

Once I retired and moved here to Norfolk, I decided to send the cards later, waiting until the first week of December to post them off. Without the large salary I was used to, I did notice that the continued price increases in stamps was making it an expensive annual proposition, on a greatly reduced income. But I bit the bullet, and carried on regardless. During the last six years, my contact list has reduced considerably. More deaths in the family, friends lost too. Some people may have misplaced my change of address, or just decided that enough was enough. And the postage costs had risen to new highs. A second-class stamp (slower delivery time) now costs 58 p. In old money, that is over eleven shillings. For someone of my age, that seems to be outlandish, and almost unthinkable, to post one small letter or card. (For the benefit of my American friends, that is 73 cents)

So, sending one hundred cards would cost me £58, ($73) plus the purchase price of the cards. I can buy nice cards for around £2.50 for a pack of ten, each less than half the price of the stamp needed to send them. The few cards that I like to send abroad are also ridiculously expensive to post. A small card to America is over £2 by air mail, and similar cards sent to France cost almost £1.50 each. This year, I finally began to think seriously about my card list. I checked off all the people I hadn’t heard from in years, and crossed through all those I know have died. Then I went through some others whose addresses I am no longer sure about, and excluded them too. By the time I had completed my reluctant ‘cull’, I written just forty-one cards. They will be posted today, the latest I have ever sent a Christmas card.

So, if any of the sixty-plus people who didn’t get a card from me are reading this.
Sorry about that.