Bog Roll :: stuff

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

25 Jun 2021

Brexit VI

We are now 6 months into Brexit and 5 years since the fraudulent referendum that has plunged the UK into a self inflicted crisis that I fear it will not emerge intact from.

Basically every promise that the Leave campaign made has turned out to be a lie that Remain said it was. The fishing industry has been thrown under a big red bus, Northern Ireland has been cut of from Great Britain, citizen has been abandoned, and the new trade deals are either basically the same as before or as for in the Australian one, worded as to kill off the British beef and lamb industry...

All the fears of the Remain campaign are slowly coming true, jobs have left, imports are down, exports are down, the pound is down, skilled people have left, costs are up, business are drowning in red tape, the economy is growing slower than it was previously, and inward investment has dried up. Northern Ireland and Scotland are pulling at the very fabric of the Union...

How things will actually pan out I don't know, but while the Brexit fruit cakes are enthroned in Westminster I don't any change in direction. Long term I suspect that Scotland and Northern Ireland will break away. Eventually England will be forced to rejoin the EU, but on much less favourable terms than the UK had, but that will still probably be a good thing...

07 Mar 2021

Le chat mange un croissant

I have been with a French person for quite a while. While I did make some effort to learn French, there wasn't much point really while we lived in England, worked in English and all our friends were English. Since we decided to move to France, learning French became more, critical, so I started lessons, and used various resources physical and on-line.

For nearly three years, I have been using Duolingo every day. I've pretty much got to the point that some stupid design flaws in French don't bother me anymore and I they come naturally. English has its own design flaws too, but you don't notice them in your first language until you try to learn another one....!

Every day before bed I plug away at the site, learning something new and repeating something I've done before. To be fair I've got faster, and lots of things come naturally without thinking, and I can now watch French TV (with French subtitles) and follow most of what's going on.

One thing that does bug me though is that in its limited form and to try to create some level of variety Duolingo varies the sentences a bit but that does mean you get a fair share of the silly ones, my favourite being Le chat mange un croissant.

01 Jan 2021

Brexit V

Well it has finally happened. The UK left the EU in 2020, and then a wafer-thin agreement was agreed and the transition period ended on the last day of 2020. Northern Ireland is de facto still in the Customs Union and there is now a border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Gibraltar is joining the Schengen area, and Kent is now a giant lorry park. After all the promises it turns out that the UK will have to follow most EU directives after all, and has zero say or veto in any of them, failure to do so will result in penalties.

This is probably the greatest confidence trick in British history, and was done so a few super rich people can avoid paying tax... One can only hope that a sane government is eventually elected in the UK, and moves to rejoin the EEA, and finally the EU. Though the terms will never be as generous as the ones the UK used to have, and it's also possible by then that the UK won't exist, Scotland and Northern Ireland may have left...

17 Oct 2020

Brexit IV

Brexit is the gift that keep giving. The UK is now heading for a no-deal BREXIT after Johnson's so called oven-ready deal has turned out to be a lukewarm turd. Not content with signing a treaty with the EU that he then decided to ignore before the ink is even dry, he's now turning large areas of the Garden of England into a lorry car park, breaking the Union up, throwing the economy under a bus and failing to deal with a second and predicted wave of COVID.

It's hard to know if the Brexit zealots are:

  • Incredibly stupid - and believe their lunatic rhetoric
  • Know what they are doing because they will personally benefit from the collapse of the UK

I'm not sure which is worst, being criminally stupid or being a criminal. Either way most of the current Tory party aren't fit to be in government...

27 Sep 2020


When this year started I didn't think the world could get any worse. Brexit was happening and panning out to be the utter disaster that I thought it was going to be. Trump was proving to be an even bigger moron that I thought was possible and the UK had just elected a lazy clown as PM.

First up my step father died, which was a surprise and not a very nice one. He had a decent innings and had a pretty decent retirement, and his illness had no symptoms until the final few weeks, so he didn't really suffer - which is the best one can take from the situation.

While attending my step-father's funeral COVID exploded and I was nearly trapped in the UK, with no where to stay and no clothes to stay in. I managed to get home, via a long, expensive and tortuous route, and then spent several days in bed sick as a parrot. I don't know if I had COVID or stress enhanced cold/'flu, as tests weren't readily available at the time - and I still wonder...

My favourite compact camera died, and I've not yet replaced it - but given the situation it's hardly surprising...

The UK went into semi-lockdown and France went into real lockdown, so I didn't leave the house for weeks and other than my wife, I saw no one, which was all very odd. As I already work from home that wasn't an utter disaster, but I have put weight on this year as I just haven't been out as much.

We have started to work on the house, which is going well, but is absurdly expensive. The original quote was €100k, which I thought was way to low, and in my mind budgeted for €200k, but the current quote is now €240k, and we've already spent €50k on essential work... When it's all done, well probably add €1 to the value of the house for every €2 to €3 that we spend. Not a good return on financial investment, but it will be good for us.

At this very moment France and the UK are hurtling towards a very nasty second wave of COVID, and while France is dealing with it better than the UK, it's only marginally and in both countries there is a strong current of idiots opposing the scientific advice and trying to make things worse - though at least in France they aren't in the government...!

Finally the UK is heading towards some kind of absurd no-deal Brexit, or some kind of weak to useless deal Brexit, which will make things very hard in the UK for a while - which I'll at least be partially shielded from...

20 Aug 2020

Brexit III

Here we are hurtling towards a no-deal BREXIT. The only way to stave disaster in Ireland was to agree to a border between NI and the rest of the UK. To add insult to injury the whole of Kent will now be treated commercially as the EU to provide enough space for all the customs clearances that will be required.

Taking back control over our borders seems to mean losing the cooperation we had before, so now we have less control than we started with. For example from 1 Jan, refugees can't be deported back to the EU anymore, the UK will have to deal with them!

Getting rid of red tape, appears to mean thousands of new civil servants, and millions of new forms, so there will be more red tape than people could possibly imagine, though it now looks like the stronger green laws, will actually be weaker food standard and environmental protection so that the US can export their vast and highly suspicious agricultural surpluses to the UK, wiping out British farming.

The easiest trade deals in history have turned into one utter farce after another one, and so far the UK has made deals for only 10% of the UK's global trade so come 1 January the UK will be trading from a worse position than before for 90% of the foreign trade. While the EU has improved it's trading position by more than the total value that the UK contributed in trade to the EU totals.

Foreign companies have pretty much said in the event of no deal, then they will up sticks and move most or all of their operations to the EU, and so far that seems to be mostly happening, bye-bye British motor industry. This seems to be already happening, and is expected to accelerate.

So far it's safe to say everything that the remain side said would happen, is happening, and everything the leavers promised has turned out to be a lie. Hardy surprising really, reality is what it is... If Trump goes down in November then things will look a lot worse for the Brexiters than they do now.

I don't like being this right, with something as important as this, but I (and many others) did say this at the begining... Brexit II

01 Apr 2020


Not sure which flu I had, but I was sick as a parrot. I'm recovered now but I have a lingering cough. If there is a test then I would like to take it to know which virus I had...

25 Mar 2020

Cold or flu?

Well I spent Sunday and Monday in bed with a scorching fever - you could have cooked eggs on me! Felt a lot better on Tuesday and was able to get out of bed, today I logged on at work because I'm bored not because I'm fully well yet.

Not sure what I've really got, I'm still not recovered. I'd not described the symptoms as mild, two days in bed isn't mild, but at the same time so aspects have been mild.

  • Fever: Yes, scorching and lasted several days
  • Cough: Yes, very slight and intermittent - mostly when I move about
  • Headache: Yes, intermittent and severe - ? dehydration related ?
  • Sneeze: No
  • Blocked/runny nose: Not initially, but developing now
  • Chest pains: Sort of, could be a result of coughs none while actual breathing
  • Difficulty breathing: Never
  • Appetite: None
  • Throat: sore a little
  • Fatigue: flat out for two days

It's hard to know. I've been under more stress than normal, which can make a cold hit you like flu, or it could be seasonal flu or it could be COVID-19. Who knows? I tend to think regular flu ticks most boxes, but without a test I'll not know, and in the absence of proof one way or another I'll avoid contact with others.

21 Mar 2020

Cold virus

Last week I had to travel to England for my step-father's funeral. I did my best to keep my physical distance from everyone, but on the antiquated and overcrowded rail system that was a bit of a challenge...

On Thursday I had a headache, which I put down to exhaustion, dehydration and caffeine, as I'd had caffeinated drinks while in England which I don't normally have anymore, and been travelling since before 5 am all day Wednesday. On Friday the headache has gone away, but I'm clearly suffering from a cold now. Feeling a little tired, slight cough and generally a bit lethargic.

About 20% of colds are caused by corona-viruses, so there is a 1 in five chance that I have a corona virus infection. Next week I'll find out if it's the current world famous SARS-CoV-2 or a more mundane one...

France is in lockdown, you don't go out of the house unless you have a good reason and a signed form, England was partying like nothing is happening, and I must admit I found being in England very surreal to say the least...

Given my travels and current cold I think it's best to self-isolate for the next fortnight. If my symptoms deteriorate the COVID-19 test station is in the playing field at the bottom of the street, so a 250 m walk at the most.

08 Mar 2020

Home made laundry soap

If your water is soft, your clothes not too dirty, then you can make your own laundry cleaner. Most of the cleaning action is caused by clothes going into an out of the water as the drum turns. This isn't enough on it's own, so people add detergents and other cleaning agents to clean their clothes. Historically people used to use soap, but detergents are cheaper and work better in hard water.

Most modern laundry detergents are about 50% water softening chemicals, then detergents, enzymes to digest proteins, optical brighteners to make your clothes look clean, bleaching agents, perfumes and fillers. Some of these ingredients can cause allergic reactions, some aren't required if your water is soft or your clothes aren't very dirty.

This recipe makes perfectly good clothes washing soap:

  • 30 g grated savon Marseille
  • 15 g sodium hydrogen carbonate (sodium bicarbonate) - buffering agent
  • 15 g sodium carbonate (washing soda or soda crystals) - water softener - optional
  • 1500 ml hot tap water
  • 15 drops essential oil - perfume - optional

Boil the water, add the grated soap and allow it to dissolve. It can take a while. When it has cooled to tepid, add the salts, and stir well. It will form a soapy foam. Add essential oil and bottle.

To use, shake back to a foam mixture. Apply directly to any dirty spots. Normal usage is 45 ml - 90 ml per load. Will work as well as any other eco-detergents. Will not work so well if the water is very hard, or the clothes are very dirty.

16 Dec 2019

Artificial Christmas Trees

We have an artificial Christmas tree, it's nearly 20 years old and still looking perfectly fine. It has past it's ninth birthday, so now has a lower carbon foot print that a real tree which is killed and disposed of each year.

I don't dislike real trees, but I always feel that most cut real trees, like cut flowers, seems such a waste, as they just die. I suppose a small enough tree with it's roots can survive in doors for a while if it's properly cared for, though I suspect that central heating still kills most of them.

08 Dec 2019

Bike ride with Bernard Hinault

This morning I went for a bike ride with Bernard Hinault. When I say I, I mean there was a charity ride from his son's bike shop, and we went along. There were three groups: a 70 km group that left at 9 am; a 35 km group that left at 9:30 and a large group of walkers. We went in the 35 km group, which to be honest was a bit of a stretch, it was way to slow for a good third or more of the pack, and way to fast for a handful of stragglers at the rear. As we returned to town, the 70 km pack whizzed past at great speed, so we switched group and arrived with the the serious cyclists, including Mr Hinault.

My bike computer said we did 36.34 km in 1:40:18, but there were frequent stops to let people catch up, which at this time of year can be a bit chilly, and I hardly broke out a sweat - which given my lack of cycling this autumn shows, how slow we went. It would have been fairer to split the 35 km ride into two parts, one for the really slow and then let the faster stretch their legs a bit more, but with only so many motorbike chaperones, it was probably the best they could do.

I think they said they raised over €1 000 for charity, which is good, and the weather held out, so everyone had a good day.

13 Mar 2019

Brexit II

So the Maybot has lost another vote by a huge margin. What happens next? Who knows? The reality is that there are actually only three options, and two of them have problems...

The UK can go for WTO only with or without a transition deal. The problem with that is that it will break the Good Friday Agreement, which has kept the piece in Ireland. To keep the boarder open requires a deal of some sorts and the hard right Tories don't want a deal. May's deal has been rejected so leaving without a deal is possible but it will create a boarder in Ireland and cause chaos in the UK.

The UK could adopt a so called soft Brexit, like the Norway option. That basically means that the UK would not have any say but still be subject to most EU rules. It would work and solve the Ireland problem, but would be a pointless exercise, and is demonstrably worse than the deal the UK currently has. The Tory hard right don't like it because EU anti-money laundering rules would still apply...

Finally there is the option to revoke Article 50, and stay in the EU, though there would be much apologising to do, and much of damage that has already been done, will take a long time to recover, if ever.

The basic problem is that the referendum was stupid, it asked a question where one option was undeliverable without breaking the Good Friday Agreement or was leaving in name only.... Then there was the illegal activity by the leave campaigns, the foreign interference, the vote rigging and other irregularities... and only because it was non-binding it can't be struck down...

Not a lot has changed since I said the same in 2016: Brexit Mess.

24 Jul 2018


Up in London for work today. Had fun with the Tube in the morning, but I arrived early enough to walk round work today and get soe "fresh air" before I started work. What I had forgotten is how noisy London is. I'm glad I'm not up here every day.

20 Jul 2018

Nine Months In

If you have been following my blog you will notice that nothing seems to have happened in quite a while. Actually a lot has been happening, so much so that I haven't written much of it down here, or in fact anywhere else.

I have now been working for my new employer for about nine months. So far I've worked on two accounts rather a lot, and a few others just a little. I get to work from home most of the time and I've found most of my colleagues to be very professional and hard working.

Nothing in life is perfect, but overall I'd say that I'm mostly happy with my lot in life.