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Married couples allowance

I haven’t written anything for ages as we have been quite busy for semi retired people. I have been helping a friend with some filming and been driving in The Lake District and Glasgow and I’m heading up there again tomorrow.

Listening to the radio this morning though I heard the latest stupid proposal from another party desperate to win votes from a disinterested public. This time it’s the Tories ahead of their Manchester conference saying that they’ll give £200 a year tax breaks to married couples.

For fooks sake. I’m in my mid sixties, reasonable stuck in my ways, a lover and supporter of the sanctity of marriage, but that’s just so utterly irrelevant and in fact insulting I don’t know what they could be thinking of. What must the hundreds of thousands of single parent families think of that? What must the poor sods who’s other halves have died think of it? And all the perfectly normal strong families that aren’t married?

I’m not sure which is worse. This crap from the Cons or Ed Milliband’s stupid idea of freezing energy prices. OOK, prices are hefty and going up scarily fast, but freezing them isn’t going to help a lot, and is only expected to save people a hundred odd quid a year.

Bloody hell I try not to pay attention to politics and it’s stuff like this that makes me turn against it. Complete bollocks from Eton. I hate the principles of that other arse Farrage, but he might be the only one talking sense at the moment.

Whoa! Calm down old man and take your medicine! Yes, a pint of Landlord for the old man please!


The Lakes

Oh blimey.

How has a month gone by without me writing anything at all?

I’m sure we’ve done loads of stuff, we have certainly been down to Cornwall to our mate’s luxury self catering cottage New Forge. That was at the start of September. I think we had the last of the great British summer that weekend.

I was treated to a night in a lovely boutique hotel as well for my birthday. Called The Old Coastguards, Mrs BB and I had a fabulous dinner and a comfortable night in a huge four poster with the windows thrown wide open and the gentle roll of the sea lulling us to a deep and beautiful sleep.

But right now we’re in the Lakes, in Ambleside’s Salutation Hotel. After heading up a few hills this morning Mrs BB is taking her reward in the form of a massage in the spa, and I thought I’d catch up on a bit of story telling. It’s a shame I didn’t think of this before.

I even had a swim yesterday morning in a lake just up the road called Rydal. The chef told me about it and said that he often swims there in the dawning light before he starts service in the kitchen. It’s supposed to be the warmest of the lakes, but it was still pretty chilly to me, but I was the only one swimming without a wet suit.

The hotel breakfast is amazing, but the place is full of old biddies. When I said that to Mrs BB she pointed out that they aren’t any older than me – older in spirit though I think!

Less rant, more joy.



View from Y WarrenThis is the view we have woken up to for the last couple of mornings.

It’s pretty spectacular. And the scenery around us is even better, there’s mountains and the sea, and if you’re lucky, both together.

I can’t initiate another rant when I’m looking at this. We have had great company, and some pretty deep and interesting conversations, including one on our understanding of gender – that was sparked off by an essay title and catching a news item that had us all in stitches.

It was a piece on the American Serviceman called Bradley Manning, the guy who leaked three quarters of a million state secrets (that takes some thinking about doesn’t it? can you even contemplate 750,000 of anything?). So Manning’s trial must be a pretty serious event in the US, tantamount to treason I guess, but then he came out on Thursday and said that he considers himself a woman and from now on wants to be know as Chelsea! What the heck is that about?

It’s so completely off the wall that it’s a story in itself.

I guess unless you know someone close to you who has a trans gender crisis it is a difficult situation to understand or believe, and as we aren’t in that category I have to admit we’re just going to sit back and laugh. Sorry Bradley, or is it Chelsea.



And another thing! VAT


Yesterday I quite enjoyed my little rant about the bastards at HSBC charging even the smallest businesses for holding their accounts. I did actually spend the rest of the day plotting how I could raise people’s attention to the amount of money they have in their accounts, and the fact that they could be earning if not lots of interest, then at least some by simply moving it around.

Then I was caught out by someone I bought off who advertised their price, but didn’t state that the VAT had not been added in.

That really gets my goat!

It’s not a real price if the VAT is added after because everyone has to pay it, but only bigger businesses can reclaim it. So if you’re an individual, or a small business then the price you pay is not being fairly displayed.

Blimey what is happening to me? I’m supposed to be the benign geezer gently supping his pint in the corner, offering wisdom when asked, but otherwise keeping his own council. It’s not like me to get all het up about stuff. But I bloody well am at the moment.

Let’s see what else I can find to rant about over the bank holiday! Given that we’re driving out to North Wales later today I’m sure traffic and other people’s driving will feature in the equation.

HSBC out to nobble small businesses?

The banks are yet again under scrutiny at the moment, this time for a new scandal over proof of identity.

Hot on the heels of PPOI, I knew this one was coming as a mate of mine is working at CPP in York trying to sort out the shit storm that’s going on there.

However I want to know why HSBC is being able to get away with using the bad news as a moment to bury other potentially damaging PR as it has now introduced bank charges for even the smallest of businesses.

I still have a business account that has a trickle of funds in it which I maintain pretty much solely for paying tax dues on my previous businesses. It has a large credit balance (well, to my mind it’s large, anything above a grand is a lot of money in my book), very few transactions, and all of them online, and yet they now want to charge me for the account.

If I had the energy I’d kick off a campaign to alert people to what’s happening and encourage them to leave the smallest possible balances in their accounts. I’ve checked my business savings account and it’s paying a measly 0.01% credit interest on balances up to £100,000! Are they taking the piss or what?

If all the busy business owners wised up to this they’d see that their money is actually depreciating while sitting in the bank. If we all just left the smallest amount in then the banks would have to reverse their strategy and do stuff to encourage us to pay more in.

Angry Bee Beard!

Getting away.

KefaloniaThe lovely thing about being retired is that you have so much time.

The down side is that you’re no longer earning as much money as you did, and even though we don’t have to scrimp and save, we do worry about spending money, and we don’t go on holidays as often as we’d like to.

However Mrs BB recently found this site which is brilliant for booking family holidays which is ideal for us as we often take the grandchildren, or nephews with us if we do go away. We know each other a bit too well to just spend time away together.

We often discuss whether we spoil the children. I don’t think we do, largely as I’m not very patient, and I don’t like them running around shouting, so they get told off as often with us as with their own parents. I was thinking of that after we got the dog back recently after she’d spent time with friends who must have let her run riot as it took ages to get her back to the behaviour I expect. I wouldn’t want parents thinking the same after we’ve had their kids.

Anyway we’re looking at Kefalonia for the next trip. But that might be just the two of us so that we can get a much cheaper holiday.


Frack off.

I’ve been interested in the whole fracking debate unfolding in the south of the country and the mounting pressure the drilling company is coming under.

I don’t like the idea of fracking, but then again I don’t really understand it. I remember seeing pictures of Canadian tar sands burning years ago, but I don’t think that our potential reserves are likely to deliver anything as exciting.

To my mind if there are reserves of a resource that we need for the continuation of life as we know it, and one that we are currently being held to ransom over by the scary Russians, then we should do what we can to get the damn stuff out. It would be nice to limit the environmental damage, but that’s not very realistic a hope I doubt.

This morning there was some professor on the radio from Keele University saying that fracking has been going on in over 200 sites in this country already, and I guess until it goes wrong then no one is likely to get that concerned.

But also this morning they were saying that operations were being scaled back down south as there was a perceived real threat of direct action from the protesters.

I reckon that it’ll all eventually quieten down and the work will just go ahead as they wanted it to. But I’m sure that there were supposed to be much bigger reserves in the Lake District than down south anyway.

We’re all just far too dependent on our fossil fuels and powered stuff. I heard of friends renting a completely off grid place in the north of Scotland for a fortnight holiday and saying that it was the closest they have felt as a family ever.


What is important?

I’ve been dwelling on this potentially deep title for some time. I can feel a series of BeeBeard ponderances coming on.

I think it has a lot to do with being in my sixties that I even think such things.

I remember my father saying to me, and horrifying me, on my 35th birthday that I’d reaching my middle years. I was still so vibrant, bursting with life and only just beginning to learn what it is all about, and yet the old man was telling me that it was half done already. I guess he was working to the old three score years and ten life expectancy – that has changed a bit these days, though he conformed almost bang on (I avoided saying dead on, I still miss him).

I never had philosophical discussions with Dad, it’s a shame as I’d love to look back on his gruff responses to my youthful questions about life. But I’m confident he’d tell me to work hard. Never owe money. Repay debts of favour as fast as I could. Finally I know he’d tell me to find a good woman.

And although there’s no soft edges to these points, it’s not a bad basis for life. And now I want to spend some time considering what my thoughts to pass down would be.

That point of “Find a good woman” would be phrased a bit differently these days I guess. It’s probably my first point rather than anything as worthy as working hard. So let’s start there:

Find love. I’m lucky. I have. It has grown on me in the most wonderful way. And the older you get the softer its edges. You forgive faster, appreciate more deeply. So whatever you need, be it a man, or a woman, I hope you find the right one. But don’t expect it to happen by magic. You both have to work hard, it’s the most important team you’ll ever join.

I know I haven’t written a word in ages, but I hope to be back with more on this topic soon.

Olives. In the north!

I love my garden, although I don’t spend anywhere near as much time out there as I thought I would when I left work.

The last few weeks have been really great weather though and I have spent a bit of time tidying up, just doing jobs I should have done a while back, like tying the daffodil stalks back, even cleaning up some of the leaves.

I’ve done a bit of gentle pruning of my prized olive tree too.

I love the thing, if only because it is so incongruous to be growing it so far north – and it gives fruit! It’s in a perfect position, close to a big wall that shelters it well, and south facing so that it gets all the light there is to be had, and warmth from both the wall and the house. I was in trouble when I bought it as I spent over a hundred quid on the thing, but it was probably twenty years old already – I reckon that’s good value when you consider the investment in time that someone made.

It does bear fruit as well, not that they are of any use, they have to go through all sorts of processes to get to the funny things we eat.

images-3 Given that mine is still not much more than a sapling I reckon this lovely one must be several hundred years old – I wonder how long they last?

What I really need now is some good garden seating. I happily sit on the wall, but you won’t catch Mrs Beard doing that!


Smokin’ Baby!

I used to actually enjoy smoking, but that’s probably because I only ever when through periods of smoking full time, generally I’d have a little mellowing tobacco with friends, generally buying some flavoured Virginia rolling tobacco if we were off out, then leaving it in the pub deliberately, or giving it to a mate.

I graduated onto smoking silly fags just because I thought they were cool, Marly Reds were only a fall back if I couldn’t find filterless Camels, or some French blend.

Even writing this now I have a great taste memory, which I know is a deception brought on by my silly belief of how great life was when we were young and nobody cared, and no one could possibly get older.

I haven’t yet tried any of the electronic cigarettes, although I am certainly tempted. I have a few friends who go out for a puff on one, even though I think you can smoke them inside, yet the taboo against smoking probably makes people think that they need to go outside anyway.

I remember one particular work trip when a mate and I had to drive over to Belfast for a two day event and we just smoked ourselves silly all the way – I can’t imagine we smelled too good by the time we got there, but that was to only get worse as we then proceeded to try to drink the country dry of Guinness!

So I wonder what happens? I guess you just get that slight relaxing sensation from the nicotine. I’m going to have to try soon. I’ll let you know!