Sunday, 15 July 2012

Campsites on the West Country Way

Last year I cycled from Bristol to Bodmin.

I've just found some notes I made about different camp sites along the way and thought I would share them. I went in May 2011. It wasn't school holidays so managed to get in everywhere easily. The busiest site was also the uglyist.

Quite a pretty (and small) camping field in a nice little village. I managed to get a space along the stream. It's a very pretty town and has a couple of nice pubs selling local cider. The showers worked.

The site did remind me how caravans do make for ugly sites. Hard standing is not attractive.

It's at the bottom of a very steep hill which is apparently not appropriate for Charabancs.

There aren't many facilities in Wookey Hole and no cash machine. I had to pay by cheque and the owner insisted on a cheque guarantee card.

I cycled the two miles into Wells in the evening, partly to get to see the town (SEE XXX)

It's hard to find much nice to say about this site. It's almost 2 miles from town. "1 1/2 miles from everything except the motorway" joked the owner. I feel misled that it uses "farm" in the title.

If you haven't a car it's a very dull place to stay. it features possibly the most annoying shower I've ever experienced on a camp site, switching off every 10 seconds and varying in temperature. It did have wifi and there are some local pizza places which will deliver to the site.
Despite it being a pleasant evening no-one was out in front of their caravans. All seemingly sitting watching tv.

Taunton on a Sunday night is dull. Nothing is open.

This site is up a very steep hill on the edge of Exmoor. It's about a mile from Winsford. There is a pleasant local pub (link). But it was a bit of a walk away and very dark on the way home with no street lighting.

I didnt actually get to meet the owner but left cheque in letter box.

A very affable farmer welcomed me. It was pretty good value and they sold eggs from the farm. There were few other tents the week I was there. A clean and nice shower block. I really liked the site.


I was the only tent in the field and felt a little lonely. That said I didnt arrive until late. I was welcomed by the owner (and the pigs).

I suspect the showers get busy when full. I probably wouldnt have chosen this place except for its convenient location between two other stops. It's actually an angling farm.

Again, I was made very welcome. The owner made me a coffee on my arrival. They had a nice little room where I could plug in my phone and watch the TV. I was the only person on the site. It is a steep walk down 1.5 miles down to sea at Cracklington. Sitting in the pub felt like being an extra in Home and Away. Showers included a mop. All very nice.

Terribly Clever Creamy Watercress Sauce Base

Dear Marks and Spencer

This terribly clever creamy watercress sauce base is not so clever. You need to add cream and watercress.

A Las Vegas Wedding

Finally got round to putting our wedding on youtube.

And you can find the story of the honeymoon here.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Photos of London Marathon 2011

I've already blogged about London Marathon 2011:

But I've just got round to buying the photos. They cost quite a lot so I thought I would post a few here.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Big Slide - Grand Opening

3rd June saw the Grand Opening of the Bognor Slide. After a final clean, George cut the ribbon and had the first go on the slide. We celebrated with wine, a BBQ and a failed attempt to light a fire.

Saturday evening in Gorky Park

Possibly the highlight of my trip to Moscow was a lovely Saturday evening (30th June) spent strolling around Gorky Park. I wasnt expecting much from the park but really enjoyed it. There was a "fan park", lots of stages with entertainment, an outdoor cinema, and lots of people enjoying the evening sun. I had a beer in the sun and watched some Europop. I liked it. A lot.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Running near Travelodge Heathrow Terminal 5

I recently (28th June) stayed at the Travelodge Heathrow Terminal 5. I discovered a really nice local park which was perfect for a little jog around in the evening.

Turn left out of the industrial estate where you can find the travelodge. Jog to the roundabout near the pub and go into the park through the pub car park.

I've only just started to try and do evening runs. On this occassion I lost energy about 1km in.

The hotel itself is pretty good. It has a cafe and serves dinner/breakfast. It is typically very cheap. And the shuttle from Heathrow T5 is £4.50 (Cheaper to buy a return).

Chessington - 16th June

To celebrate Nanny and Grandad Ford's anniversary, we went to Chessington.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

A day out at Amberley Museum

When Nanny Nette visited Bognor recently, we popped over to Amberley Museum.

George and Mummy discovered electricity.

George also discovered water.

And I discovered some signs to take us home.

A day on Bognor Beach

We like spending time on the beach in Bognor. Here are some pictures from an hour spent by the sea on 9th June.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

If not Dilnot, What?

On 29 May, Lord Lipsey hosted an event in the House of Lords, exploring the potentially contentious issue of “If not Dilnot, what?”. Whilst most speakers accepted that at this stage, Dilnot is probably “the only show in town”, the event considered how the Dilnot recommendations may need to be adapted to meet a changing political reality.
There was a recognition that Dilnot’s proposals were fairer than the current system in that for example, prudence is penalised less than under the current system. But also acceptance that the recommendations add layers of complexity to an already complex system. And the solutions are ‘expensive’.

Speaking at the seminar, Professor Julian Forder of PSSRU highlighted the current unmet need which will need to be funded on top of the cost of the Dilnot recommendations. He argued that the funding gap going forward under the current system would be £3.8bn. Under Dilnot the gap would be £7.3 bn (2025 costs). Even with assumptions of compression of morbidity, the costs are very high.

Most speakers, at the event, supported by Partnership, felt that taxpayer funded care was not going to happen. They felt that there isn’t the money or appetite for free care for all. And the public seems unwilling to pay higher taxes.

The event explored a number of potential adaptations to the Dilnot recommendations:
1: Whether there are adjustments that could reduce the cost e.g. changing the level of the cap
2: Whether there are clever ways financing that wouldn’t involve extra tax e.g. an inheritance based tax or redistributing funds from Attendance Allowance.
3: Whether there are things that can be done to mitigate some of the distributional challenges, e.g. Cap a low percentage of the wealth of very rich people.
4: Whether there was potential to review possible supplements e.g. the potential of Equity release/pensions to fund some care.

Les Mayhew explored the role (and potential) of pensions and other financial products in paying for long term care. His analysis included immediate needs annuities; top up insurance; disability linked annuities (like a pension annuity but higher rates if become disabled/need care); and long term care bonds.

But there was an acceptance by many speakers that the insurance market had failed so far. Steve Groves CEO of Partnership highlighted that there were only two providers of immediate needs annuity. 40% of care recipients are self funders yet only 4% take some form of insurance (costing the state £4bn). He argued, however, that there was no alternative to the state picking up the so called ‘catastrophic’ care costs.

During the discussion, a huge number of additional options (“Dilnot on a diet”) were explored including
* Raising the upper capital limit
* Setting a higher cap
* Changing the capital rules
* Restricting access to the very frail and those most at need
* Making integrated care work
* Clarifying the boundary between health and care
* Investing in prevention

Introducing the event Lord Lipsey noted that the Government had “gone relatively quiet” on the issue of care funding, although pointed out that this may not necessarily be a bad sign. “We can’t even find out from the press what is going on”, he said.
We can expect a draft Care and Support Bill, based on the Law Commission report, alongside a progress report on funding. The All Party talks continue. The issue of long term care funding has probably gone up to the quad of Cameron, Alexander, Clegg and Osborne, but their focus has probably been elsewhere over recent months. Lord Lipsey argued that either nothing is happening and the issue is being kicked into the long grass, or the decision has been made to incorporate this issue into the spending review.

Sadly, as one speaker commented at the end of the event, care funding still not an issue hitting MPs post bags. Whilst the event highlighted some very interesting options, what is clear is that for the Government to be motivated to act on funding, there is a need for further political pressure from older people and their carers. The “granny tax” debate has highlighted the power of this group. We need to find a way of focussing their energies on the need for a sustainable funding solution to the care crisis.

David Sinclair

NB. Counsel and Care are currently running a sweepstake on when the Government will launch its Care White Paper. What do you think?

Foreign Chains in Moscow

Last weekend I was in Moscow. I spotted quite a few foreign chains. Subway, Lush, Starbucks, Hard Rock Cafe, Mcdonalds, Wendys, Pain Quotient.