Random Jottings Of Gildersleeve

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Location: United Kingdom

Perhaps you'll learn more about me as you read my blog. For anyone who translates my blog using the translator facility, don't forget if you wish to read the comments in your own language to click on the title of the post down the left hand side otherwise they will remain in english. Also I assume that the translation is accurate but I don't know, so please allow for errors.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

No Parking Sir...

Having been a driver I am usually very pro driver and sympathetic to the problems of finding parking spaces and appreciate that many towns are not designed for the amount of traffic they now have to deal with. many households that had no car of their own or perhaps one or at the most two...have three or four. There are only so many garages and/or spaces available to park on the roadside. Lay bys are rare and of course you should avoid parking in a dangerous manner(up on paths causing obstacles for both disabled and blind people to get past)or at junctions. Not forgetting double parking.

I think I've covered all bases there.

Well, the borough council do not like vehicles parking on grass verges, it's untidy and causes damage.

Today, I watched a car race down our road, come straight off the road via the lower part of next door's drive, straight onto the verge in front their house and continue onto our's. I usually chunter to myself about it not being right but today I went down and gave one of my looks.

He asked if I had a problem. He had a couldn't care less attitude, walked off to do what he had to do(looked like a debt collector or an insurance salesman)not even in this road and then upon his return tried to excuse himself by saying he couldn't park anywhere else.

There was a big space on the opposite side of the road(enough for at least his car, possibly two)and he could've always parked his car further down the road and walked back. It wasn't a long walk, seconds. He tried to start saying that it was a public highway and the verges are not belonging to any house. But I was already cheesed off and stated my point again that the council dislikes and does not allow(and I've seen it mentioned in council issued newspapers) parking on such areas.

Truth was he was lazy and couldn't be bothered to take the time to park. After he drove off, he did park further down the road to visit another property and remarkably he managed to park on the road itself and walk back to the premises he had to visit. It shows that it can be done. Whether our little "Chat" has had the desired effect and has changed things for the future if he comes this way again, time will tell. Thinking about it further I suspect he chose our verge because we have a hedge and he thought he could hide behind it.

Had he asked, I would've said he could use our drive. Or if he was staying minutes why park on the verge? He was in sight of his car, he could've parked at the bottom of the drive and nipped back had it needed to be removed. I am a reasonable guy, it takes a lot to get me angry and I think I grew more so because of his manner.

I am tired of seeing our verge always being chosen for cars to park on(they've another four to choose from)and it always seems to be being damaged or churned up. Something that seems to have only started to happen in the last two or three years.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Local Politics...

A couple of entries ago I mentioned how quite a large area of the North East of England has been designated to be run on assembly lines. In all but name after that failed another attempt is going on at present.

The original assembly idea would run alongside all the borough and district councils but now if it comes off the idea is that all the councils will be dissolved and run from one that covers a large area of North East England.

The first idea was just a a talking shop, as far as the local electorate and businesses saw it, an extra layer of bureaucracy with no power but probably financed by an increase in taxes from the local population(always denied)

The new idea might have more power and be able to act on what is discussed. Perhaps running everything from one council you rid yourself of a lot of un-necessary deadwood but that also flies in the face of localised government because one council is likely to have commitments to a particular part of a community and quite a few people in the community will be neglected. And at least the existing councils are fighting their own corner and you hope that means for the people in their district.

As long as those entering politics do so for the right reasons and there must be some. But more than ever the public becomes disillusioned.

Since the last local election the landscape of the North East has remained much the same as after any local or national election but some cracks have appeared and a chink of light has got through with some new candidates with different ideas of how things should be done and tired of the strangled hold the same old party and faces have had in the area.

Unfortunately, the local press (especially the local freesheet)has had letters from ex-councillors. Instead of giving the newly elected officials a chance to succeed or fail, criticism seems to be for the sake of it.

If the newly elected respond it can look like bickering, if they don't reply or try to refute what is written, the public may get the wrong impression and we're back into spin.

Time will tell if the public made the correct decision.

Some have lost their position on the borough council but are still involved in local politics having seats on the Town Council but that is now split 50/50 because new councillors belonging to no particular party secured seats there too. Politicians will be respected if they can work with rather than against the newly elected officials.

This all ties in with my earlier posts about the development of the retail centre of my town. At last the free land that had remained empty for approx 20 years was given over to building a small public park and some new retail units and to attempt to attract a business with some clout to bring more money into the town and create jobs. I'll reserve judgement on the jobs front because other retailers are struggling, they were already but with new retailer doing so well we'll have to see if business suffers even further or more is attracted into the town.

Some existing businesses relocated and therefore property they originally occupied is empty and unused adding to the overall run down look of the shopping area. And the hold up in the development of connecting the older part of the town with the new, the fact that the health centre and library have been allowed to run down in their appearance does not help matters. It may be argued because the health centre and library was to be replaced as part of the improvements they did not want to spend extra money on something that is to be demolished but these buildings were looking rough long before the improvements were given the go ahead.

The local freesheet and the largest regional newspaper has in the past fortnight carried a story that the second stage is on hold and that the original constructor and the Council have reached an impasse. One side says that they agreed a certain amount to complete the task, the other side is demanding more money. So now the procedure starts to find another contractor willing to continue the job.

The week before the local election a leaflet dropped through my letterbox giving details of the existing councillor's who were hoping to be re-elected but giving a big part of the text over to what they had done for the town and concentrating on this new retail area and telling us in so many words that everything was in hand and everything was moving along reasonably well and that our Prime Minister had been invited/asked to take part in discussions. And yet within weeks, it's quite obvious that things are not as positive as that leaflet suggested.

For legal reasons I will suggest that the leaflet was as true as far as it went but a press release can be written in a way which avoids giving all sides and leaving the reader to draw their own conclusions. The decision of the local electorate may've already been decided(I'd already sent my ballot paper in at least a week before seeing it)but this would've made me take the same view.

So for now...the next stage is on hold. The older part of town is boarded up. It was due for demolition approx 6-8 months ago and is still standing. There is talk of the Library and Health Centre moving into temporary premises at a new location as they are really looking in a poor state(even the freesheet took a photo similar to one of mine on here)asking that it be given at least a lick of paint.

So we will just have to see how it all turns out.

Update:The local freesheet from the Borough Council and from what I see on the front page suggests the idea of a large Unitary Council may've been planned across the UK but I am unsure whether the postal vote to ask whether the population is for or against was being tried nationwide or depended on the results of certain areas being tested for their reaction. I say this because there is a picture of MP's, Councillors and others involved in government, some from as far away as Cornwall. Whatever, the result was an overwhelming no to the proposal.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


We've had some weather this past week and various towns and cities across the whole of the UK have had flash floods. Resulting in houses, businesses etc...being flooded. So living close to a river that swells and overflows its banks cannot always be blamed though a fair few incidents have been caused through living in such locations.

A few years ago, I discovered our outhouse was flooding and because I often had no reason to be in the room, it had been happening for some time and had been missed by me. The reason appears to have been caused by neighbours who share our downpipe. Instead of water going into the system it was spashing back onto the brickwork and seeping through the wall and then dripping off the damp course and onto the floor.

Luckily, it was fixed and so far since then...no problem. Until, today.

It had started again and I looked outside to find the guttering of next door over flowing and water seeping through joinings. What to do. I started to think, is it blocked, can I see a cause. I managed to get a pair of step ladders close enough to look over and thankfully reach the problem.

I discovered the reason. A child's soft ball blocking the downpipe(thankfully still enough of it showing)so I could get hold of it and remove it. You would not believe the amount of water that went gushing down the pipe having been held back by the offending item. I can see a tennis ball at the other end of the neighbours guttering and I just hope that it doesn't find its way to blocking the pipe as I have a feeling that could actually disappear down the pipe and not be so easy to retract. But for now, we have avoided the possibility of a flood once again, thankfully.

If only all problems were so easy to correct.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

If At First...

A few years ago our Government attempted to persuade by any which way possible to have what was to be called the North East Regional Assembly. It was to cover the population of a fair part of the North East of England. We had various public figures, celebrities and politicians(some rarely seen in this area, some not living within the area being affected)

It had no powers as such to make decisions and at best was a talking shop giving the impression of local democracy at work but the other downside was that it would cost the population more in the way of taxes and would be another layer of bureaucracy.

The people became tired and annoyed at the tactics used and the campaign information was for many heavily slanted and not unbiased. It took local business men and others interested in the area to put an alternative view and the local media to hopefully give alternative opinions.
The population gave a resounding "No!" It was a humiliating defeat. But to some extent capital centric media did not cover the story too much and after retreating various sources suggested that though the people had spoken, they might have another go and try to re-introduce it. And go through the procedure again.

And here we are two or three years on and the government are trying to persuade the population to accept one Uiitary Council to serve the whole of the area and scrap all the existing district and Borough Councils in the area. It sounds a good idea on paper but once again it puts too much power into one body and it's likely some areas will be neglected and money will be diverted from areas and concentrated on the largest towns and cities and the disadvantaged parts already squeezed will be squeezed further. And of course if this idea came in, it's basically the same idea as the North East Regional Assembly. I suppose this time they could say this time it had power.

We have received a postal vote asking if we are for or against this latest idea and I'm afraid for various reasons this is one occasion I did not manage to send in my vote. I misread the date it had to be returned by.

However, once again, the result has come through and the public have said "No!"
How many more times will they try to get this proposal through in slightly different ways? Why is it so important to get this idea through? Why do they want our area to say "Yes" and use us as the test case? If they say its to introduce more localised democracy and give us a say in our Region's future, the population has spoken and done just that.

I suspect it can only be a matter of time before some other idea is proposed and we have to go through all this again. Having said "No" I understand if they wish, the proposal could still be forced on those affected because this vote has no legal standing. So though I missed sending in my vote, I'm happy to see the rest of the area felt the same as me and it came out as I wish.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


I have mentioned on more than one occasion that I enjoy the fact I have access to a garden and hope that will always be so. I get much pleasure from watching or knowing that the birds that visit during the day for food and water(some making their homes in the trees or eaves of the house)

All are welcome in theory but I cannot help being upset if a Sparrow Hawk decides to invade this safe and sheltered area to take one because although more survive than are lost and their knowing that there is food and water helps them, you do kind of feel responsible for those on your patch because to some extent they are here because of me.

That is why I am unhappy with the changes neighbours have made that has made the area more vulnerable. I know this goes on all over the world every day and it's nature. In a way it is a privilege to see nature in the raw and on my doorstep too. I have a friend in the States who is fortunate to have Hummingbirds visit her garden and her own bird too and just as here a Hawk isn't too far away.

I have to confess I like most birds that visit but I have a love/hate relationship with one spices in particular. Mainly, because of the numbers they arrive and their behaviour compared to others. They always appear in a flock, do whatever they have to and move on. The garden can be covered. Of course all living creatures have a right to feed and water but the trouble is that when they arrive no other bird stands a chance and they cannot get near. It disappears too quickly and to be honest I could not afford to put any more out than I do. Blackbirds, doves, sparrows, finches and so on can make the food last hours possibly a day and they will make many visits.

So I am seriously having to think of changing the feeders I am putting out as if they are left full at bed time, come the morning the Starlings have found a way to hang on them and they stick their beak into the opening and manage to gobble the contents down very quickly or throw it everywhere so when I eventually look, there is nothing there for all the other birds. So I may have to consider buying feeders that have a kind of cage around them which allow smaller birds access but keep larger birds out. I wish I did not have to but I suppose you have to adapt to the situation.

One thing that happens every year since I can remember is that every year throughout Summer we have either Swallows or Swifts that move into the eaves of the house and at various times of the day and especially early evening until virtually it is dark they fly around doing wonderful acrobatic stunts and chasing after each other, going very high in the sky and almost to ground level and yet when they fly into their homes, I have yet to see one get it wrong, no matter how small the opening.

I have mentioned about how I saved a dove some years ago and brought her(I think it was female)back to health and all her feathers returned after being attacked by a bird of prey. Sometime later I found a sparrow in the passage that runs alongside the house and tried to save it initially by keeping it warm and safe over night(and to make a decision the following day what to do)but through shock as much as anything it did not survive.

Well, I think I lost another sparrow yesterday. Throughout, the afternoon in the front garden was a tiny and obviously new sparrow, how it got there I'm not sure(I suspect it probably had followed it's mother out of the eaves of the house)most of it's feathers were there but still some down were evident and it was wasn't strong enough to lift itself and fly. But it's mother kept feeding it all day. I had made a decision(rightly or wrongly)that if it was still there as darkness came I'd try and put it somewhere safe and warm and decide what to do the following day.
I found it had disappeared so I hoped that was good news. Then before bed I found even though doors had not been opened it had managed to get into the passage through a hole in a door that has rotted and needs replacing.

I attempted to put it into a small container but there was no way it was going to stay put so reluctantly I opened the door and allowed it to go into the back garden and have kept my fingers crossed its found a place to survive and maybe be found by it's parent again as daybreaks but it's doubtful it would've survived if I'd kept it indoors anyhow.

You can only do your best and this will go on all the time with birds who fly the nest too soon. It looked healthy enough just had decided to leave too soon and wasn't ready.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Something very few of us go through life without suffering to varying degrees. Some of you who have read my blog over the months know that I posted a big entry about my condition. Not just putting my own situation there to be read but to tell anyone reading how important it is(without becoming a hypochondriac)to have a check up once in a while and in particular to get a blood test taken and your blood pressure reading. Because so many conditions show little if any signs of anything being wrong. If spotted soon enough they can be corrected or controlled and therefore the problem can be cured or controlled.

Often, if something goes wrong, if not corrected the imbalance of what is happening will cause further damage, often to other organs not originally affected.

Now, as I write this approx 3 weeks ago I had what was called a full blood count when I visited my consultant for my regular check up. Not receiving any news from the results has to be good news. I was told if things ever were bad I would be contacted very quickly and some form of treatment would be started ASAP. My own Dr has not had any word which also pleases him as he sees it again as proof that my medical problems are controlled and to some extent in remission. I am always asked by my consultant if I have any questions and I always tend to say no.

Maybe I should ask but if I did I may not like what I hear and perhaps ignorance is bliss. If in the future I have something to worry about(say in ten years time)do I want to worry for the next ten years? If I worry and then things are OK, I have also wasted the time doing so un-necessarily. It may be that my treatment has halted the problem altogether or slowed it down enough so that by the time it could become a problem, something else will have taken me away.

Don't let this give you the impression that I am depressed because I am not and I feel positive.

What prompted this entry is for two reasons. A relative has been diagnosed with a medical problem. Well, she was some years ago and spent time in hospital(not related to my condition)after a long time in hospital she was allowed home. At the time she pressured me to look on the internet for information about her treatment. I did not like what I read because of what the medicine was being taken for and the likely outcome. So there was a bit of being economical with the truth and I kind of believed that any further information should be obtained via her own Dr by her asking questions directly of him or asking her son to enquire but then it depends how much you should find out and as said earlier whether its better to know more or remain ignorant.

Well, today results came back from a big test for my relative and there was more good news than bad but the original cause of concern came back as abnormal. No more news of improvement or deterioration. Years on she asked for the condition to be looked up again on the net(the information was as it was years ago when I looked it up)so once again we left out the negative points and gave the basic information. And all the points of how to look after yourself.

The point is, it's a no win situation. Leave out information...she'll worry what you haven't said. Tell her all you know, she'll also worry. The suggestion is that the condition can be slowed down but that it will get worse and we don't want to think about the possible outcome. I also think, if her own Dr hasn't told any more than he needs to, that's a good sign or he knows that for now its better for his patient that he protects her. I also do not think it right to override his way of dealing with his patient, in his own way. And though I know where I have found the information to be genuine, maybe I could still have some things wrong as on the net or as in any medical reference book, they can only talk in generalised terms. That's where you need the expertise of Dr's and specialist experts.

The other reason for this entry is that a friend is also going through difficult and worrying times with someone very dear and close to them(and to some extent there is a connection)because its a variation of conditions connected to myself so we do have something in common. Wish it was something more pleasant and happier.

Its good to talk, to offer support and I remain positive about matters but then as with many things, if the situation is bad, we have to then say, how do we make things better, where do we go from here? We must not give up hope. I know it often appears that prayer does not work but I do know that it has helped me through some difficult times. I do know that I have questioned my faith. But I know the feeling of well being it gives and if it has such an effect should we put it down or those who believe? I don't believe that.

I'm not however about to say which faiths I believe to be harmful. It's a personal thing. I'd say that most faiths have the same ideas at their heart but sometimes just have different ideas of how to reach the place we hope to go.

Sometimes, its difficult to know what to say but just knowing someone is thinking of you is all that is needed. That you are not alone. I know its also very easy to say.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


I've talked about rubbish and recycling before and in recent months it's become quite a hot potato.

Probably, on the back of protecting the environment and finding a way of tyeing it into the subject of Global Warming. On the grounds of trying to reduce the carbon emissions that many scientists see as the threat and cause of this problem. To some extent there is truth that landfill is not the best way to get rid of rubbish either and space allowed for this practise is reducing.

Here, in Europe laws have been passed by the European Parliament that will affect member states that will see Governments putting pressure on local councils and authorities to find ways to encourage them to make the population reduce how much is thrown out and what is thrown away.

This could result in householders being fined for putting out too much rubbish, reductions in the frequency of how often a collection of rubbish is taken away(some councils have tried to reduce the weekly collection to fortnightly)

It is believed that reducing the main collection can force householders to take up recycling. I am fortunate in that the design of my home allows our wheelie bin and recycling crate to be hidden from view in an enclosed passage that runs alongside the house. And because I do recycle what I am allowed to, less is being put into the main rubbish collection, little food is wasted(and if there is something we are unable to finish off, it's given to the birds that visit the garden as its mainly fruit and bread)

Because of this we have managed to make it so our main bin only needs emptying fortnightly(or shall I say, we could put it out weekly but it would only be half full)Smells and vermin are no trouble because of the passage being enclosed and we line the bin with a big rubbish bag, spray the bin with a antibacterial product and then over the weeks add one or two normal sized bags fastened closed. An odd few things that are not food can go in separately without causing a health hazard. Some people can turn household waste into something that can improve the garden.

The downside is that some people just can't be bothered to recycle. That doesn't help the rest of the population as this will give authorities the chance to introduce taxes and fines that could affect everyone. There is also(understandably)a back lash against these measures as in the UK we pay something called a Council Tax and this goes towards what would be called public services such as education, police, fire, environmental matters such as rubbish collection and so on. So to charge more for collection of rubbish or to reduce the service is seen as not acceptable.

As people, will say what am I paying my taxes for if the service offered is less acceptable or you are going to change additional fees?

Some households no matter how they try to reduce their rubbish are at a disadvantage because there are more than two people living there. Also, house designs are not friendly in that they are suitable for storage of many bins and crates and that's especially true of anyone living in a block of flats or in an apartment.

Many towns and cities have municipal sites where you can drive your own rubbish to but that defeats the argument because it assumes everyone has access to a car, they want you to use your own cars less so this is adding to the problem. Having to get rid of rubbish this way can also have people saying "I can't be bothered!"

In my own case I am allowed to put out paper, glass and tins/cans. That's it! If they would allow plastic(such as milk bottles)and cardboard. I could reduce the main rubbish even more. Some areas do. My own area does not.

By chance, I managed to talk to a person promoting recycling at the local library about a week ago. And discovered that collection of plastic and cardboard is likely to come to our area and has been considered. Hurrah!

The bad news is that there is a kind of pilot scheme being tried out by two councils on the furthest outskirts of their areas and if successful(why wouldn't it be)it will introduced in stages and work its way inward. How long is it likely to take to reach my area? This person suggested we are talking of around 4 years!

I understand that many things do take time to introduce but I must admit to being quite surprised at the length of time being suggested here with all the publicity being given to this in the media.

Funnily, enough in the local free sheet as I found this out myself, someone who has moved into my town from another part of the country had put out plastic and seen the recycle person picking it out of the recycle crate and placing it in the main bin. When asked why he said "We don't take plastic love!" So she was asking in her letter...why not!

We are being told how successful the scheme is in this area. Really?