On Aug 7th, 16 members & friends left Stoke ferry on a Harrods mystery coach tour. Our first stop was at the Norfolk Broads town of Wroxham. Left to do our own thing, most people opted for a relaxing lunch sitting by the water, where we watched boats of all shapes & sizes enjoying their day on the Broads. After a bit of retail therapy, we all returned to the coach & travelled to our 2nd destination, which was Horning. Here we all boarded a Mississippi river boat called the Southern Comfort, for a trip up the river Bure. As we glided along past the beautiful riverside properties, the Captain pointed out places of interest, such as the lovely house once owned by Charles Kingsley, author of The Water Babies, and the Ferry Inn, which had been bombed by the Germans during the 2nd World war, because it was known as a favourite watering hole for pilots, including Douglas Bader.
Many properties are thatched, & the reeds are grown on the surrounding marshes, Norfolk reed for the main roof, & sedge grass for the crests. Houses are expensive to build as the land is soft, so they must be put onto oak pilings, which are driven 60-80ft into the ground. However, many are available as holiday lets, the most expensive being £3500 a week, but it does sleep 10 people.
There is a speed limit of 5mph on the water, to reduce wash. This is policed by the Broads Authority, who patrol the whole area.
There was also plenty of wildlife to see, including many swans & Egyptian & grey lag geese.
After turning round on Malthouse Broad, we cruised peacefully back to Horning, where our coach was waiting to take us home, arriving back in Stoke Ferry at 6pm. Everyone thanked Gillian Smith for organizing such a relaxing day.
Our Sept meeting will be a Jewellery workshop by Liz Murfitt.
Claire Lankfer

Ron’s Rambles – September

An inequitable tax
I think I have said that before, but it bears repeating. I don’t have a diesel engine car, I bought the car I have before the government tried to encourage people to buy diesel cars by lowering the ‘road tax’ on them. Their aim, of course, was to reduce the CO2 generated by road vehicles. Now that they realise these engines produce far more nasty particulates than petrol engines, they may have regrets. But the tax disparity goes on. My neighbour, with a diesel car pays one fifth of the road tax that I pay, admittedly my car produces double the amount of CO2 per mile that his does, but he does four times as many miles in a year, thus he produces twice as much CO2 in a year as I do but I pay so much more. Many of the older petrol cars are relatively low mileage cars owned by pensioners doing a low annual mileage, like me, and they are the ones suffering the injustice.
Of course, the fairest way of taxing vehicles with the aim of reducing emissions of all kinds is to tax the fuels, the more fuel used the more CO2 and particulates will be produced. Increases in fuel prices will always greeted with howls of protest, even if there was to be the abolishment of road tax, so no government is going to be keen to implement it.
A further, although less significant, inequity is the decision not to allow the transfer of the tax with vehicle when the vehicle is sold. A refund is given but the refund only dates from the next remaining full month. Thus, if the car is sold on the first of the month the refund will only date from the first of the next month, but the new owner will be required to tax the vehicle from the first of the month in which he bought it, the result is that the government gets the tax for that month twice.
It is not all bad news about road tax, however, nowadays DVLA have it all on computer, their computer will flag up a vehicle that has not paid tax (or declared off road) immediately, similarly they know if a car has no MoT, or no insurance. That means there are no more uninsured cars on the road, no more cars without an MoT and no more road tax dodgers. Oh no it doesn’t!
The latest figures available from DfT are for 2017, in that year, they say, 2% of cars on the road were not taxed (the AA put the figure much higher). 2% doesn’t sound too bad, but that is one in fifty cars untaxed, almost one in every street. The actual figure was 755,000 untaxed cars, if the average road tax is £200 that corresponds to a loss to the treasury of £155,000,000. The interesting fact about these figures is that the situation is worse than the last year when we had to display a tax disc.
How can that be? How can DVLA fail to ensure that tax dodgers are caught out when they have all the information on computer?
[The CEO of DVLA, Oliver Morley, was awarded a CBE for ‘digital services to the public sector’.]
I do find decision making on the home front increasingly difficult. Like everything else that is getting more difficult I tend to put it down to old age but in this case I am not so sure.
It seems to me that these days we have so many choices that it is more difficult to make up one’s mind. Compared with the situation in the 60s, for example, we have so much on offer, especially for home entertainment – a whole range of TV channels and films on line, in those days you had maybe 2 or 3 channels to choose from. Shops offer a wide choice and that was all we had, now you have to choose to buy on-line or go to the shops, the choice offered on-line can be staggering. Think about holidays! How that has changed and the holiday options you can consider nowadays. Should I be switching my energy supplier? Should I fit solar panels? Diesel or petrol car, or perhaps electric? It just goes on and on.

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For many years, I have believed that, after the age of 65 or so, major surgery knocks out part of the brain function, especially in relation to memory and language ability. I have, until recently, struggled to find anyone who would agree with me. However, on our new estate, in houses near to us live seven doctors, one next door! One of these doctors is an anaesthetist and she actually agreed with me in a conversation about six months ago. Because of my convictions, I had my (first) hip replacement under spinal anaesthesia just over three years ago and, so far as I could tell, the brain was OK afterwards. However, there followed five major general anaesthetics over the next 18 months and, after those, the brain was definitely not OK. I could not remember my grandchildren’s names (Yes, I hear you shout “But you have 18 grandchildren so don’t beat yourself up”) but I never had any problem remembering them before the anaesthetics. In addition, I found myself very often unable to complete a sentence as I forgot where it was going and I had enormous problems remembering the names of plants and common items, confusing words like colander and teapot or confusing restaurant with ship, etc. It was all really hard for Management who, much of the time, had to guess what I was trying to say. Happily, much of the mental acuity has returned but I still have problems with memory and occasionally have to stop in the middle of a sentence. So the jury is still out. Did the anaesthetics cause brain damage, have they brought forward the onset of dementia, will the improvement in mental function continue…….?
Last week, the British Medical Journal published a study of 7,532 male and female British civil servants who were tested for mental ability four times between 1997 and 2016. The study demonstrated that those who underwent major operations were twice as likely to suffer substantial cognitive decline than those who had no surgery. Although the research did not cover dementia, cognitive decline is known to precede or speed up its development because of a reduction in brain resilience. The actual cause of the problem is not yet known but potential mechanisms of brain injury during the surgery process include strokes, mini strokes and inflammation. Potent pain killers given following surgery may also play a part. If I add in my own experience – near fatal sepsis and and fatal collapse after surgery requiring 12 litres of fluid and some heavy resuscitation, I am not reassured! Enough of that!!
An elderly farmer built himself a large pool, big enough for swimming, at the far end of his land. He planted fruit trees around it and provide loungers and tables. One night, he wanted to pick some fruit and wandered down to the pool with a bucket which he would use to carry the fruit home. He arrived at the pool to hear shouts of glee and found several young women skinny dipping in his pool. When they saw him, they all went to the deep end and one shouted “We are not coming out until you leave”. Our farmer told them “I didn’t come down to the pond to watch you all swim naked or make you get out of the pool naked”. He held up the bucket and said “I only came down here to feed the alligator!”
A young programmer was nearing the end of a job interview when he was asked whet salary he would expect. “About £75,000 per annum plus a benefits package” he relied. “Well” said the interviewer “How would you like £85,000, 6 weeks annual holiday, full medical and dental cover, a company matching pension fund to 50% of salary and a new company BMW every two years?” The young man sat up “Wow, are you kidding?!” “Yes, but you started it” replied the interviewer.
This joke takes us seamlessly back to the beginning of this article: Roger, 88, married Jenny, a beautiful 45 year old. In deference to the age difference and not wanting her husband to feel obliged to over-exert himself, Jenny opted for separate bedrooms. Half an hour after settling down, she heard a knock on the door; Roger appeared and performed really well between the sheets. He went back to his room but, half an hour later, he reappeared and performed equally well. Half an hour later, he reappeared and repeated the performance. Jenny said “I am really impressed that,at your age, you can perform so well and so often.” Roger was really embarrassed and said “You mean I have been here before?” Best wishes to you all Ian Nisbet

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