Ch ch changes

Ch Ch Changes

As David Bowie warbled, on his seminal album Hunky Dory.

There have been, so far this year, a number of pretty major changes, a few of which I’ve not mentioned here, a few of which I have.

In an attempt to get back into the blogging habit (which is not an item of apparel I wear when I sit in front of the keyboard, I’m going to mention one or two.

And we’ll see if I get the blogging bug again.

Blogathon 28/19: The patter of little feet

Today there will be an addition to the family.

We’re all very excited about the arrival. Except for the cats, who haven’t quite grasped the concept of extending the family – despite having it explained to them all on several occasions.

Robyn (for that is her name) is a 9-week, 2-day old Sprocker Spaniel. She will be arriving about 4.30pm.

There will be some disruption to the household routines, a lot of ‘stuff’ will have to be moved from chewing range, and other ‘stuff’ will have to be moved around.

And there probably won’t be much sleep for the first few nights. This will be a heartbreaking time during which Robyn will be crying for her mummy and siblings. It’ll be equally heartbreaking for us humans too.

But we aim to give Robyn the very best home, full of doggy fun and walks and laughter and other things.

It’ll be interesting to see how the cats take to the new arrival…

Blogathon 27/19: Death and Taxes

(and the lies of politicians, obv)

Like it or not we all have to pay taxes. Unless we are millionaires who live in Belize, or the Isle of Man, or somewhere else that isn’t the United Kingdom.

Yesterday I reeived a Notification of Tax Rate from HMRC.

Hang on a minute, let me say that again.

Yesterday, exactly one month after the previous one landed on the mat, I received a new Notification of Tax Rate from HMRC.

What’s changed in my personal circumstances in the last month (I hear you cry)?

Well. Nothing.

Nothing has changed in my personal circumstances.

And yet the A5-sized envelope arrived automagically, one month after the last one.

Two months after the Notification of Tax Rate before last.

Three months after the one before the one before last.

What changed in my personal circumstances over the last two, three, and even four months?

Absolutely. Nothing. At. All.

And yet each one is different.

Oh, not big differences, just a couple of hundred quid different in my personal allowance section.

I realise the generation and posting of the A5-sized envelopes, and the inclusion of the three double-sided pieces of A4 inside it, are system events but this is ridiculous.

Note I didn’t say ‘this is starting to get ridiculous’ and the reason I didn’t say ‘starting’ is because in 2018 I received 15 Notification of Tax Rate letters from HMRC.

Now that’s ridiculous!

Blogathon 26/19: Death By Pot Noodle

Last night I needed to put something on top of the Welsh Dresser (Boyo) and something got in the way.

I had a rummage around and found, on its side, an unopened pot of Pot Noodle. King Sized.

When I was single I used to eat a lot of regularly eat Pot Noodleses.

The expiry date for this King Amongst Snacks is April 2018.

I’m tempted to eat it now, but a part of my brain says I should wait two ore months, so I can eat it exactly two years past its expiry date.

It’ll be an interesting biological experiment. I mean it’s only freeze-dried food so it isn’t going to have any latent germs. I’m only going to add boiling water to it and, when it has cooled, inhale it.

Nothing could go wrong, right?

Blogathon 25/19: Upstairs

I have been upstairs all evening, almost like one of the many punishments my mother used to dole out in my younger days.

Except this time there was no punishment involved.

*pauses for thought*

It occurs that when I was younger a punishment was being sent to bed early. These days I’d consider that a reward.


I read a book whilst watching a film on Netflix.

Because multitasking comes easily.

During a brief break, I did a small amount of googling that informed me the reason the ZX10R has been so frisky.

You remember I had a new battery fitted recently?

Well it seems that all computers switch back to their default, and the engine management system default is full thrust.

What does this have to do with being upstairs?

No, me neither.

Blogathon 24/19: Nothing On

I do surveys for money. I love it when the £50 bank credits drop in to my account. Three so far this year.

The surveys are random; they can be about anything. Topical news stories, music tastes, radio or television viewing, shopping. Anything.

I got one yesterday afternoon that went in to great detail about adverts (as seen on every kind of platform imaginable).

The survey asked if I’d seen adverts for XYZ product in the last 30 days. And so on.

XYZ product manufacturing company has obviously spent a significant amount of money on developing, testing, manufacturing, shipping and, of course, advertising the XYZ product.

And advertising the XYZ product across a range of digital, print, and broadcast media (judging by the questions I was asked).

But unfortunately I have a blind spot for adverts (across the entire range of digital, print, and broadcast media).

Because of this blindspot I was unable to name a single time, place, or method of advertising when I saw the XYZ product.

All my life, it seems, I have been carefully developing an immunity to commercials.

Unfortunately, of late, this carefully constructed skill has been wasted.

Wasted because I have ‘consumed’ (as the media folk have it) almost no mainstream media at all.

Because there is actually nothing on.

With all the many Freeview channels available you would think I’d be able to find *something* to watch?

Something that all the family can watch?

Well, that’s just not the case.

Apart from The Chase, which we will all watch, but (wo)man cannot live on The Chase alone.

It’s ridiculous, though; so many channels of nothing to watch.

If it wasn’t for Netflix and Amazon, the television would hardly ever be on. I’m just trying to work out if that’s a good or a bad thing.

Blogathon 23/19: The ULEZ Tax

Driving in London (though why anyone would want to do such a thing is beyond me) is about to get much more expensive.

On top of the Congestion Charge (a tax for driving in London), the ULEZ (ultra low emission zone) Charge (it’s just another tax) will be dropped on London’s motorists on 8th April 2019.

The ULEZ Tax will be in operation 24/7*365 and will cost £12.50/day. And that’s on top of the Congestion Charge Tax.

One thing about the ULEZ Tax is it will apply – across the board – to ‘older vehicles’. But it won’t take any note of whether those vehicles have been scrupulously maintained or not.

This is plainly bonkers and so far beyond any kind of logical comprehension it actually sounds like a Marx Brothers plot.

Another thing about the ULEZ Tax is it’s a flat-rate tax. The £12.50/day taxation rate applies equally to small cars, large cars, 4x4s and (wait for it) motorbikes.

I can’t roll my eyes hard enough to match the idiocy in that ridiculous scenario.

Seriously. If you want proof of people in power being hard of understanding, you have it right there.

The lunatics really have taken over the asylum.

Blogathon 22/19: Is it safe?

We will spend both days this weekend:

  1. Shopping, and
  2. Making the house and garden safe(r)

The weather forecast is so good I might even take the mower out for a spin.

This is a ridiculous statement, especially when you think that just a couple of weeks ago the average daytime temperature was -5c and every hour threatened a fresh snowfall.

But in the last two days of this week that we have been back from Wiltshire, the ZX10R has been out and about and I have enjoyed every mile she’s given me.

On that point (ZX10R in general, but motorcycling in particular, and circling back to my ‘safe’ theme), I read an interesting comparison published by a traffic consultant, earlier this week.

Whenever there are cyclist accidents in a cluster in London, or a London-based cycling fatality, the Mayor of London (backed by TfL) pumps significant amounts of £s into making that route (or those routes) ‘safer’ for cyclists.

But when motorcyclists have accidents in London, the physical, strategic, tactical, or financial action of the Mayor of London (backed by TfL) is always the square root of naff all.

Which is odd, really, given that motorcycling can move people across the whole of Greater London and nearby counties.

But still, the Mayor of London (backed by TfL) has decreed that motorcyclists must pay the ULEZ charge. So that’s alright then, isn’t it?

Blogathon 21/19: Eventing by the numbers

The sport of Eventing (whether One-Day Eventing, Two-Day Eventing, or the long-form of Three-Day Eventing) has been through a lot of changes over the years.

When the sport’s governing body was the British Horse Society (BHS), the sport was known as Horse Trials. And the rules of the sport and the design and restrictions that governed the shape of the sport were very different to how they are now. BHS Horse Trials was all about jumping expertise. Yes, BHS Horse Trials had the Dressage phase, the Showjumping phase, the Cross-Country phase (and, in the long-form Three-Day Event, also had a Steeplechase phase). But the competition was weighted towards being largely about the jumping.

After (many) years, the sport got a new governing body, the British Horse Trials Association (BHTA). BHTA introduced new rules which altered the shape of the sport, updated the safety measures built into the sport, enhanced the protections for horses and riders, and changed the design-restrictions of the on-track obstacles. The Dressage phase was enhanced and made to have a higher bearing on the overall result. The Showjumping phase was left unchanged, but the Cross-Country phase started to feature less ‘normal’ obstacles; fewer big-spread hedges and walls. Technical and water-obstacles were introduced; arrowhead fences were brought in.

More years passed. Dressage and jumping tests became more difficult and the Dressage phase became ever more influential on the overall scores/results. And new and more imaginative technical jumping obstacles were introduced.

Decades later, and after many more changes in the rules of the sport (at home and abroad), Eventing got a new governing body: British Eventing. And the sport was no longer called Horse Trials.

Where am I going with all of these memories?

I’m going to the venues.

In the 2019 Eventing Calendar there are a grand total of 172 competition opportunities.

I appreciate this sounds like a lot, but a great many of those competition opportunities are not for the amateur ‘own horse and full-time job’ rider.

I’ve been looking at the 2019 Evening Calendar for a different reason; I’ve been looking for the competition venues that are no longer there.

It’s terrific that some landowners are prepared to run two, three, and in some cases, even four Events in the season, but where’s the strategic sense behind that?

Where’s the geographical spread from running Events in different places? Where’s the difference in terrain from running across different types of countryside?

And where’s the longevity in pursuing the strategy of asking landowners to host more than one Event in a season?

I look at the range and breadth of the 2019 British Eventing Calendar and I feel good for the competitors. They have a solidly-run sport which protects the mental and physical welfare of horses and riders.

But I look back at former Calendars and I feel sad that so many great venues are no longer open to the sport.

To me this is a management issue. If one’s local competition venue is XYZ and XYZ runs four Events in a season, that’s terrific. But it’s also dull.

What started as a bit of pre-Christmas idle thinking has expanded into a solid list.

There are seventy-five BHS, BHTA, and BE Event venues missing from the 2019 Calendar – and some of these missing venues ran more than one Event.

To my eyes, this doesn’t look like a healthy trend for the future of a sport in which I (still) feel heavily invested.

The list of missing events is long and I wonder if British Eventing should look to safeguarding the Events on the current Calendar, and devising and deploying a strategy to recognise and build on the diversity of the Events.

It’s a long list. Seventy-five losses:

Arley Hall
Bath & West
Belmont Park
Berrington Hall
Borough Court
Builth Wells
Church Crookham
Dynes Hall
Great Missenden
Great Tew
Harewood Hall
Little Mattingley
Littleton Manor
Lulworth Castle
Milton Keynes
Mount Ballan
Nutwell Court
Peper Harrow
Purston Manor
Shipton Moyne
Somerley Park
Ston Easton
Stowell Park
Tetton Hall
Tythorp Park
Urchinwood Manor
Witton Castle

Blogathon 20/19: Roadtrip 4! (the conclusion)

We went to the market in the middle of Marlborough this morning.

As a commercial event it was a bit dull; there were maybe nine stalls covering (amongst other prospective purchases) second-hand furniture, cheeses, DIY stuff and other random goods.

So as I couldn’t trump Sam’s purchase of yesterday I bought a large lump of Gala Pie and we jumped in the car and drove home. Because it was the last day of the short break and I have to be at work tomorrow.

It’s been a fun, relaxing break. We all enjoyed ourselves. And speaking personally, it was great not to have to do any rushing around.

It’s good to be home. The cats are still speaking to us (the cat-sitter kept them fed).

And right now we’re watching The Martian (we started out watching Robinson Crusoe On Mars, but this was an easy transition to make after the first 15 minutes).

I’ll upack my rucksack later. There’s a little something we brought back from Darkest Wiltshire