Saturday, 1 October 2016

C & H

Calvin and Hobbes


What a superb way to come of age.  Shame the UK is leaving at some point, eh?

Plans to give all teenagers living in the EU a free Interrail pass on their 18th birthday are to be debated at the European Parliament. 
The proposal aims to give young Europeans a “sense of belonging” to the continent and comes after the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker called for greater cooperation within the EU during his State of the Union speech in Strasbourg. 
Under the initiative all EU citizens or legally residing individuals would receive a pass as soon as they turned 18, which they can use to travel the vast railway network connecting most major cities throughout the continent. 
Citizens of member states not part of the Interrail connection, such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Cyprus and Malta, will be allowed to use other modes of transport free of charge under the scheme, such as a bus or ferry. 


 Mexicans have 300 terms for corruption.

Proper Fucked, Innit?

The A127 is currently closed at the Fairglen Interchange. For anyone who isn’t familiar with the area, this basically means that the major route out of South Essex is basically fucked beyond belief, and they might as well build a fucking Premier Inn in the middle of the Sadler’s Fucking Farm roundabout. 
Local motorist Stanley Still said: ‘It’s not just fucked. It’s like proper fucked, like someone pissing Lambrini onto a soggy kebab wrapped outside The Kursaal on a Friday night.’
‘People should just use the A13. Oh wait that’s fucked as well? Even after they spent like a billion fucking quid on it. Bastards.’
A spokesperson for Essex Highways began to deliver a brief statement before falling to his knees and begging the Gods of motoring to forgive his eternal soul.
Steve Reynolds, chairman of the 2016 Lucifer Admission Committee, told Southend News Network that he could ‘fuck right off.’ He added: ‘That ship has sailed motherfucker.’

Well Said

You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.
Malcolm XMalcolm X Speaks, 1965
US black nationalist leader (1925 - 1965)

Shoo In

Sam Allardyce
Disgraced Ex-England Boss Sam Allardyce could take up a high-level position in one of several banks, it has been revealed.
“Big Sam would make a terrific banker,” said a financial insider
“He is happy to bypass regulations set in place to prevent exploitation, he commands a vast salary despite no one really understanding what his job actually entails, and he’s hugely overweight.”
“He could walk into any job in the sector.”
Big Sam himself was said to be surprised by the offers that came in from the banking sector.
“To be honest, I don’t really know a great deal about economics and finance markets and whatnot,” he said as he relaxed in his garden with a pint of gravy.
“But it turns out that you don’t really have to have qualifications or experience or anything, you just need to be a greedy bastard who enjoys a hefty lunch.”
“It’s like the position was created just for me.”
It isn’t just the banking industry that could prove tempting for Allardyce; retail magnate Phillip Green is understood to want to talk to him about a potential position administering pension funds for his companies.
However, it could be that Big Sam just stays where he is, because if there was ever a place for a grasping, corrupt fat bastard, then it’s the world of football.
Either that or politics.

Use them Sensibly

If you need these tips, you shouldn't even have a card.  We use ours as and when but way more cautiously abroad.  We always clear every bill in full and usually have credit on our balance- ie over pay to keep the card active.

Even if you religiously pay your bill on time, there are plenty of other credit card gaffes you might be making without realizing it. And any card mistake, no matter how small, can have steep consequences, thanks to high interest rates that can pile on debt in the blink of an eye. Make sure you avoid these common pitfalls and keep your finances under control.


Most expenses can go on a credit card, says Liz Weston, author of Your Credit Score and a NerdWallet columnist. But there are a few no-gos, including any charge that may be coded as a cash advance, such as a money order or a bail bond, that will trigger a higher interest rate. You shouldn’t swipe if the vendor is going to pass along the several-percentage-point card fee, either—scenarios that include federal and state taxes and school tuition. Weston also cautions against charging that scary-huge medical bill, as doing so will disqualify you from income-based discounts or interest-free payment plans offered by many medical providers.


These cards often have sky-high interest rates (a J. Crew card, for example, carries a whopping 25.24 percent APR—12 percentage points higher than the best rate available for a Citi Simplicity Mastercard). Pay only the minimum each month, and you’ll soon find yourself staring at a balance that far exceeds the cost of that perfectly chic pencil skirt.
There are other problems: A store card doesn’t feel as “real” as a Capital One or Citi card, so some shoppers forget or ignore their payments altogether. And while these cards often offer rewards, they come as incentives to shop more—which can trigger overspending.


Lots of Millennials are wary of credit cards in the first place—and for good reason, says Matt Schulz, a senior analyst at, a site dedicated to helping consumers make smart credit decisions. “If you have a credit card and handle it poorly, it can cause major problems,” he says. But that doesn’t mean you should just stick with your debit card. A credit card is the easiest way to build your credit history, according to Schulz. Lacking such a history will contribute to a low score, because lenders like to see that you have an established track record of paying loans back. Bad credit translates to higher interest rates, “which can cost you thousands of dollars over the years,” Schulz says.


Forget a payment, even for a day or two, and you’ll be hit with a $25 to $35 fee and an interest payment on the balance. And it quickly gets worse: If your payment becomes 30 days late, card issuers will report you to the credit bureaus. “A skipped payment can knock 100 points or more off good credit scores,” says Weston. There’s no excuse for not setting up an automatic payment from your checking account, preferably for the full balance every month.


While auto-pay can be a godsend, it can also tempt you to not check your statement carefully. Tracking your purchases carefully is not only a fundamental part of budgeting, it’s also critical in this era of identity theft. Federal law requires you to dispute a fraudulent charge within 60 days of receiving the first statement that contained the mistake. If you ignore your account for months on end, you could be missing problems and losing money.


We know, we know—reading the fine print sucks. But if, for example, you open a card with a zero-percent A.P.R and then don’t transfer a balance over for a few months, you likely just lost out. “There’s often a deadline, generally 60 or 90 days, under which you have to make the transfer,” says Schulz. You also have to commit to doing the math when it comes to rewards to make sure the card’s annual fee is justified. If you pay $450 for a Chase Sapphire Reserve card but don’t travel much, you’re not recouping the cost.


Weston and Schulz agree: Your number-one job as a credit card user is to pay the balance in full every month. Contrary to popular belief, carrying a balance does not improve your credit score. In fact, the three major credit reporting agencies like to see a utilization rate of less than 30 percent of your available credit. To boost your score into "excellent" territory, you need to push that utilization percentage down into the single digits or teens, max, says Schulz.


What happens if you do screw up? As much as you might want to pretend the card doesn’t exist, you have to ask for help—immediately, says Weston. “The worst thing the credit card company could say is no, and there may be options you don't know about, such as a payment plan if you can't handle your debt or a fee that can be offset,” she says.

Spurs/City (Tomorrow)

  • Tottenham won both of last season's Premier League meetings with Manchester City, having lost eight of their previous nine against them.
  • There have been 22 goals scored in the last five Premier League encounters between these sides at White Hart Lane (nine for Spurs, 13 for City).
  • Spurs have won 22 of their 38 Premier League games against City; should they win this match, they will have beaten them more often than they've defeated any other Premier League side (they have also beaten Everton 22 times).
Tottenham Hotspur
  • Victory would give Spurs their second-best start to a top-flight season, bettered only by their title-winning 1960-61 campaign.
  • Tottenham have the best defensive record in the division, conceding three goals. They have yet to concede a league goal from open play at White Hart Lane.
  • Son Heung-min has scored five goals in five games for Spurs in all competitions this season, as many as he did in his last 37 games of the 2015-16 campaign.
  • Mauricio Pochettino's first match as a head coach was against Pep Guardiola - he led Espanyol to a 0-0 draw against Barcelona in a Copa del Rey tie on 21 January 2009.
  • A month later, Pochettino claimed his first ever win by guiding Espanyol to a 2-1 league victory against Guardiola's Barca at the Camp Nou on 21 February.
  • However, that is Pochettino's only win in nine meetings with Guardiola as a coach (D3, L5).
Manchester City
  • Pep Guardiola could become the first manager to win his first seven Premier League matches. He is currently tied with Carlo Ancelotti, who won his first six games with Chelsea in 2009.
  • The only team to win their opening seven Premier League fixtures was Jose Mourinho's Chelsea in 2005-06. They started with nine successive wins on the way to winning the title.
  • The only time City have begun a league season with seven successive wins was in 1897-98, in the second tier.
  • Sergio Aguero has scored 28 goals in his last 27 Premier League appearances.
  • Aguero averages a league goal every 106 minutes in England - the best record in Premier League history, ahead of Thierry Henry (121 minutes).



Bargain Basement Skies


Carry-on baggage: 55cm x 40cm x 20cm (10kg weight limit), plus one small bag up to 35cm x 20cm x 20cm
Checked baggage: a 15kg bag costs £25 each way, 20kg is £35
Food: sandwiches, snacks and hot food including flatbreads and chips; lasagne costs €6 
Seats: non-reclining, with 76cm pitch, 43cm width; choosing a seat costs from £4
Online check-in: available 30 days to four hours before departure; airport check-in costs £45 on the day of departure
What we say: “Ah, Ryanair, the airline we all love to hate - but perhaps that’s because it’s the airline that loves to hate you, too. Probably the most irritating element of the Ryanair experience is how the baggage fees push the majority of passengers to bring carry-on, when the overhead lockers have absolutely no hope of accommodating it all. This results in passengers being forced to check luggage anyway, without charge, which might be a bonus it weren’t presented by staff as some sort of public shaming ritual, and it didn’t hold up the boarding process. But, on reflection, the most irritating thing about Ryanair is this: despite the company’s flagrant disdain for its customers, we take it like the globe-trotting masochists we are, because few can beat the big blue-and-yellow bus in the sky on price.” Laura Chubb


Carry-on baggage: 56cm x 45cm x 25cm; no weight limit
Checked baggage: 20kg in the hold costs between £13 and £30 each way, depending on the route
Food: sandwiches, porridge and snacks; meze selection from £4.50  
Seats: non-reclining, with 72.5cm pitch, 44cm width; choosing a seat costs from £1.99 (up to £19.99 for first row)
Online check-in: available 30 days to two hours before departure; easyJet has no check-in desks but you can check in for free at airport bag-drop desks if necessary
What we say: “Among UK airlines, easyJet has done more to democratise aviation than anyone else — cutting fares and expanding choice. It also has a very generous cabin baggage policy. My one request: sharpen up on punctuality. With Ryanair, I expect to be on time; with easyJet, I anticipate a delay.” Simon Calder


Carry-on baggage: 55 x 40 x 23cm, plus one small bag up to 25cm x 33cm x 20cm (15kg combined weight limit)
Checked baggage: from £40 for 20kg 
Food: on short-haul flights the menu includes sandwiches, salads, chicken tikka and porridge; a wrap and a drink costs £6; three-course meals are included in long-haul fares
Seats: reclining, with 74-79cm pitch, 44cm width; seat reservations from £7 on certain flights, while on others seats can be changed free of charge at the airport
Online check-in: available for most flights within Europe from 24 hours to one hour before departure; not available on certain routes; airport check-in is free
What we say: “I’ve flown Norwegian a few times, most recently to Chania, Crete, just last week. Seats don’t recline much, but the service is friendly and efficient (much better than I've experienced on other budget airlines), and the fact you can change seats for free is a bonus.” Nicola Trup


Carry-on baggage: 55cm x 35cm x 20cm; 10kg weight limit
Checked baggage: £18.50 for 15kg, £19 for 20kg, £24 for 23kg
Food: sandwiches, pastries and snacks; sandwiches from £4 
Seats: reclining, with 76cm pitch, 43-45cm width; choosing a seat is free at booking  
Online check-in: available 36 hours to two hours before departure; airport check-in is free
What we say: “I flew to Edinburgh with Flybe recently and was pleasantly surprised by the simple, no-frills ease of it all. Well, on the outward leg, at least. Coming back to London, however, was less relaxing: a 90-minute delay without a whisper of explanation, and then I was arbitrarily (and might I add gruffly) hauled out of line to check my hand luggage on the grounds it was 'too big' and the flight was full. Never mind that the bag demonstrably fit the measuring cage of doom, and the yawning space in the overhead bins once I boarded mocked me happily until take-off.” Laura Chubb


Carry-on baggage: 56cm x 45cm x 25cm; 10kg weight limit
Checked baggage: from £10 for 22kg 
Food: snacks, sandwiches and hot meals including macaroni cheese and chilli; snack boxes £3.60
Seats: non-reclining, with 71-78cm pitch, 43cm width; seat reservations from £8.50
Online check-in: available from 28 days to five hours before departure; airport check-in costs £12 at time of booking, £17.50 on the day of departure
What we say: “I recently flew Jet2 from Rome to Manchester. The flight itself was perfectly fine, the seating felt a bit more cramped than Ryanair or Monarch but the crew were helpful and friendly. At Manchester however, it took over 90 minutes for Jet2 to get the baggage from the Tarmac to the baggage claim. This would have been a lot less annoying if Jet2 staff hadn’t told us our luggage would be there very soon.” Joe Vesey-Byrne

Wizz Air 

Carry-on baggage: 42cm x 32cm x 25cm, larger cabin bags of up to 56cm x 45cm x 25cm are £12.50; no weight limit
Checked baggage: £28.50 for 30kg 
Food: meal deals cost £5, which includes a sandwich, drink and a snack  
Seats: non-reclining, with 71-73cm pitch, 45cm in width; choosing a seat costs from £2
Online check-in: available from 30 days to three hours before departure; airport check-in costs €5 at time of booking, more on the day of departure
What we say: “Oh, the things I could say about Wizz Air. I actively avoid it now, after the absolutely terrible communication on my most recent journey with the airline, when the plane was standing on the Tarmac at Luton for several hours without explanation, with a very similar experience coming back from Warsaw. And their hand baggage policy is absurd.” Nicola Trup


Carry-on baggage: 56cm x 40cm x 25cm; 10kg weight limit
Checked baggage: £15 for 20kg 
Food: snack boxes, sandwiches and hot meals, from English breakfasts to Thai curries; sandwiches are around £4.80
Seats: reclining seats are being phased out; 71cm pitch, 51cm width; seat reservations from £3.99 one way
Online check-in: available from 28 days to six hours before departure; airport check in is free
What we say: “Monarch is a good, mostly reliable airline that has been commercially outwitted by its upstart rivals. In my experience its crew are excellent. But its odd policy of insisting that you must pay for a seat if you want to check in online is exasperating.” Simon Calder

How Come?

We have a smaller netbook computer that was original in all its glory with full Windows 7, MS Office and the usual trappings.  The problem was that it started to run very slowly and in the end we took it too Cambodia and got them to do a fresh rebuild with extra RAM.

It flies now but somehow last night it informed me it was updating itself.  How? It was shonky copy, so how come we got updates?

I just don't understand computers.


Man flu.

Slightly Better

I am now eating far more healthily than ever before and regularly have a salad for lunch followed by a double portion of melon.  I have even had the odd yoghurt or two in a moment of madness.

I also really need to start making our veggie soup again but the problem is that they don't really offer smaller portions of vegetables.  Usually you get enough bulk to make a week's worth and not only does it not keep for so long, but it gets far too repetitive.

60's Review

Wifey decided to give the massage a miss yesterday and joined me for a 60's session on the TV.  Not only did she not complain but she really quite enjoyed the programmes.  Dept S, Jason King, The Saint and plenty more, we had a right good nostalgic soak.

Perfect Timing

It's taken wifey almost a full month to shake her horrible cold and even now it is still lingering.  I thought I had beaten the inevitable and got off resisting the lurgy but no, yesterday I noticed a tickling cough and heavy head and today it's really set in.

I can take the feeling like crap but I wish my timing was slightly better.  We're off to the circus this afternoon and the last thing I want is to put off the acrobats with my racking cough or infect other guests.

And we're off to meet Francois at his local tonight.

All I really want to do is go back to bed and lie there with me telly and piles of food.  Guess that's going to have to wait until tomorrow now.


Another month on the odometer away from Britland and I reckon there can't be many, if any, left who thought we weren't being serious about leaving the country.  :o)

Friday, 30 September 2016

C & H

Calvin and Hobbes

Simon Calder's Q & A on BA's In Flight Food

Q What’s changing, and when?
From 11 January next year, anyone in economy on a short haul flight – which BA defines as five hours or less – won’t get the familiar complimentary snack and their choice of drinks from the trolley. Instead, they will be invited to buy from a range of Marks & Spencer snacks, ranging from a packet of crisps at £1 to a Ploughman’s sandwich at £3. They’ll also have to pay for drinks: a cup of tea will cost £2.30, a gin and tonic £6.
Q How do I pay?
Not by cash; only credit or debit cards will be accepted. However, if you’ve got an excess of Avios – BA’s frequent flyer currency – you can pay with those, using the BA app on the smartphone.
Q So if we’re paying for inflight catering instead of getting it for free, will fares fall commensurately?
Not necessarily. At the prices being charged the move is not going to make a fortune for BA. Agreed, it will turn food and drink from a cost into a “revenue stream”. But the airline hopes it will actually make its offer more appealing, by offering passengers a better choice and quality of food. Its research shows that many passengers don’t value the free catering. In a ferociously cost-sensitive market, it seems it’s the headline fare that matters.
The move will also align BA with its sister airlines in the IAG conglomerate: Aer Lingus and the two Spanish airlines, Iberia and Vueling: at the moment if you buy a BA “codeshare” flight that’s operated by one of those airlines, you’ll have to pay for stuff, and conversely passengers who book with those airlines and happen to fly with BA find that they get food and drink. It’s a messy marketing message, which this move will solve.
Q But it could also get messy if people can’t immediately distinguish between BA long haul and short haul?
Yes. For most flights it will be obvious – if you’re flying to Asia, Africa or the Americas, that’ll be long haul, and to Ireland, Germany, Scandinavia and Europe’s Mediterranean nations, then you’re flying short haul. But there are some oddities: Moscow, which is a four-hour flight, is classed as a long-haul service, while Larnaca (500 miles further) is short haul.
Q What logistical implications are there for the cabin crew?
At present, on short flights such as Manchester or Newcastle to London or Heathrow to Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris, the time in the air when food and drink can be less than half-an-hour. At present that’s enough time to dole out a snack with a maximum choice of two items, and serve drinks without the need to collect money. With passengers now choosing from a menu of a dozen or two items, and paying for drinks – not with cash but by plastic or frequent-flyer points – it’s going to get quite exciting on board. But of course some passengers will decide they don’t want anything if they’re paying for it, or bring their own on board, or even see if they can last for a couple of hours without eating or dirinking anything,
Q What about people with bookings that they made on the basis of BA’s previous promise that: “Whenever and wherever you are travelling we offer a complimentary snack or meal and bar service.”
Tough. The airline is writing to such people, which include me, saying that if we were expecting free food and drink we should adjust our expectations. 
Q How does this new policy compare with other European airlines?
All the budget airlines – EasyJet, Ryanair, Norwegian etc – charge for all food and drinks. And the “full-service” carriers are moving towards that model, but very slowly and without any consistency.
SAS Scandinavian Airlines charges for food and drink – but does provide free tea and coffee. Also in the north, Icelandair charges adults except for tea and coffee, but under 12s get a meal free. And that applies long-haul as well, as I discovered on the trip from Reykjavik to Anchorage in Alaska… coming home, I packed a picnic.
Air France and its subsidiary KLM, as well as Alitalia, provide free food and drink, and Aegean of Greece serves generous meals even on short flights.
Lufthansa still gives free food and drink on all services, as do its subsidiaries Austrian and Swiss but its subsidiary Brussels Airlines charges in Europe – unless you are connecting from a long-haul flight, in which case you get a free soft drink or coffee on production of the boarding pass.

Thankfully I Shall be Long Gone

In 50 years, ‘muvva’ rather than ‘mother’ is probably going to be the standard way people address their mum, according to new research.
HSBC has released a new report which attempts to predict what British regional accents will sound like in 50 years, based on current linguistic trends.
The report, by linguistic experts Dr Dominic Watt and Brendan Gunn, writes about specific words that will develop to sound different to the modern day.
The reasoning behind the change is the general trend of shortening words and simplification of pronunciation. 
They also looked at trends in different regions:


  • Think will become 'fink'
  • Mother will become 'muvva' 
  • Trees will become 'cheese' 
An average sentence, for example:
I think that care is a beauty
will become:
I fink that car is a booty


  • 'Manchestohr' will become 'Manchestuh'
  • 'Aapeh' (happy) will become 'happee'
  • Toast will become 'terst'
An average sentence: 
Manchestohr makes me aapeh
Will be:
Manchestuh makes me happee


  • Proice (price) will become 'praayce' 
  • Yow (you) will become 'yoo'
  • Aom (home) will become 'haom' 
An average sentence: 
Yow are a great sing-guh
Will be:
Yoo are a great singuh


  • 'C-a-khe' (cake) will become 'Ch-ahhche' (emphasising the ‘–ch’) sound
  • 'Faav' (five) will become 'Faayv'
  • Top will become 'Toff' 
So the average sentence: 
A c-a-khe with faav candles
Will be:
A ch-ahhche with faayv candles
Francesca McDonagh, Head of Retail Banking and Wealth Management at HSBC, said:
Just like your fingerprint, your voice print is unique and even if your voice changes due to getting older, relocating home or feeling ill, our voice biometrics system will be able to identify you without needing to spend time remembering passwords that you may have set many years ago.
Our accents and use of language will be changing over the years, but our voice biometrics technology doesn’t make a judgement about how you sound; you just need to be you.

You can watch a video about it, below:
What Britain's accents will sound like in 50 years