Friday, 25 July 2014

Graduation Day (and 43 Wedding Anniversary)

At last all my studies have come to an close. Yesterday (Thursday 24 July) was graduation day at Westminster Cathedral. They said that it was 300 degrees, I am not sure if that was the number graduating or the temperature inside the Cathedral. Anyway it was a great day.
After the ceremony Julia and I went with Andrew and gaew to Gymkhana, an upmarket Indian restaurant in Albermerle Street. It was a fantastic meal, subtle twist on traditional Indian food. It is not cheap, but we dined off the early evening menu which made it affordable (just). We had the matching wines and they really did go well with each dish. Highly recommended!

Surrounded by young ladies!

With the love of my life

With John Hamilton - a fellow deacon

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Caen Hill Locks

Spent yesterday with old college friends on Martin's narrow boat on the Kennet and Avon Canal at Caen Hill Locks - we do not do them all just the last 7 (there are 29 in total!) A great fun day which started with a pub lunch.

Friday, 4 July 2014

More American Photos

Walking in the high country at Tahoe

View from a house that was for sale - only $10.25m

Overlooking Lake Tahoe with Joan and Bruce

Mirros Lake at Yosemite

Mirror Lake, sadly much reduced thanks to the drought.

Jellyfish at the aquarium

With the Underwoods

Our final day and only trip to San Francisco

At Sausalito

Back from the US of A

On Tuesday we returned to the UK after spending almost a month in America. The reason for the visit was a reunion of the IBM ITSO (International Technical Support Organisation) that I worked for when I was on assignment in San Jose. California. Over 80 people attended the reunion coming form 18 countries and the span of service ran from 1972 to the present day. The reunion ran for four days, starting on Wednesday 11 June and ending on Saturday 14 June. It was a great occasion and it was wonderful to catch up with friends from across the globe.
When we decided to attend we thought that we might as well make it special, as you get older you are never quite sure how health will affect travel. So we started in Boston, then flew to San Jose for the reunion, then it was off to Tahoe to spend time with our friends Joan and Bruce, then to Yosemite National Park for four nights then back to SJ spending the last four nights with our friends Tim and Pat. They put on a party for us on the final Saturday - a great event. All in all a wonderful holiday one we will remember for many years.

View form our balcony in Boston

We did a walking tour!

View of the city from the harbour

Jazz Sunday brunch in Salem

Pacific Grove - we loved going there

Julia with friends at the reunion

At the Wente winery for dinner - I was MC

View from the our friends deck at Tahoe

Joan and Bruce with Teddy and Julia

Bodie, a deserted mining town on the way to Yosemite

Overlooking Mono lake

Half Dome from Tioga Pass

In the giant sequoia's

Nevada Falls

Tim and Pat

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

England Football Team

A seven year old boy was at the centre of a courtroom drama yesterday when he challenged a court ruling over who should have custody of him.
The boy has a history of being beaten by his parents and the judge initially awarded custody to his aunt, in keeping with the child custody law and regulations requiring that family unity be maintained to the degree possible.
The boy surprised the court when he proclaimed that his aunt beat him more than his parents and he adamantly refused to live with her.
When the judge suggested that he live with his grandparents, the boy cried out that they also beat him.
After considering the remainder of the immediate family and learning that domestic violence was apparently a way of life among them, the judge took the unprecedented step of allowing the boy to propose who should have custody of him.
After two recesses to check legal references and confer with child welfare officials, the judge granted temporary custody to the England Football team, whom the boy firmly believes are not capable of beating anyone.

Monday, 26 May 2014

The Pro-EU group won!

Nearly all the commentators are viewing the Euro election results the wrong way round. In the UK the electorate is split into two camps; approx 70% are broadly in favour of the EU and 30% are against it. The 30% voted almost exclusively for UKIP, hence it won the majority of the seats. It is the pro-EU vote that is split three ways - Con/Lib/Lab. Now if the pro-EU parties would stop fighting each other and field a single list of candidates then this new amalgamated party would be topping the poll.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Is Fairtrade Fair?

A recent government study has found that sales of Fairtrade-certified products from Uganda and Ethiopia are not benefiting poor farmworkers as profits fail to trickle down to much of the workforce, says a groundbreaking study.
The Fairtrade Foundation is committed to "better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world". But a UK government-sponsored study, which investigated the production of flowers, coffee and tea in Ethiopia and Uganda, found that "where Fairtrade flowers were grown, and where there were farmers' groups selling coffee and tea into Fairtrade certified markets, wages were very low".
Christopher Cramer, an economics professor at the University of London and one of the report's authors, said: "Wages in other comparable areas and among comparable employers producing the same crops but where there was no Fairtrade certification were usually higher and working conditions better. In our research sites, Fairtrade has not been an effective mechanism for improving the lives of wage workers, the poorest rural people."
Researchers who collected detailed information on more than 1,500 people said they also found evidence of the widespread use of children being paid to work on farms growing produce for Britain's leading ethical label.
Fairtrade, started in Britain 25 years ago by development and consumer groups including Oxfam and the Women's Institute, has grown into one of the world's most trusted ethical schemes, with 1.24 million farmers and workers around the world. Fairtrade products contribute to the funding of schools, health clinics, sanitation and other "social projects" in rural areas. To join the scheme, farmers must agree to meet social, labour and environmental standards. In Britain it is a £1.78bn enterprise backed by government, Comic Relief, churches and supermarkets.

So the question is what should we as consumers do ? Do we buy bother to buy Fairtrade or do we go with the alternatives?