Monday, November 30, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Dear Secretary of State [for the Environment],
My friend, who is in farming at the moment, recently received a cheque for £3,000 from the Rural Payments Agency for not rearing pigs.. I would now like to join the "not rearing pigs" business.
In your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to rear pigs on, and which is the best breed of pigs not to rear? I want to be sure I approach this endeavour in keeping with all government policies, as dictated by the EU under the Common Agricultural Policy.
I would prefer not to rear bacon pigs, but if this is not the type you want not rearing, I will just as gladly not rear porkers. Are there any advantages in not rearing rare breeds such as Saddlebacks or Gloucester Old Spots, or are there too many people already not rearing these?
As I see it, the hardest part of this programme will be keeping an accurate record of how many pigs I haven't reared. Are there any Government or Local Authority courses on this?
My friend is very satisfied with this business. He has been rearing pigs for forty years or so, and the best he ever made on them was £1,422 in 1968. That is - until this year, when he received a cheque for not rearing any.
If I get £3,000 for not rearing 50 pigs, will I get £6,000 for not rearing 100? I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself down to about 4,000 pigs not raised, which will mean about £240,000 for the first year. As I become more expert in not rearing pigs, I plan to be more ambitious, perhaps increasing to, say, 40,000 pigs not reared in my second year, for which I should expect about £2.4 million from your department. Incidentally, I wonder if I would be eligible to receive tradable carbon credits for all these pigs not producing harmful and polluting methane gases?
Another point: These pigs that I plan not to rear will not eat 2,000 tonnes of cereals. I understand that you also pay farmers for not growing crops. Will I qualify for payments for not growing cereals to not feed the pigs I don't rear?
I am al so considering the "not milking cows" business, so please send any information you have on that too. Please could you also include the current Defra advice on set aside fields? Can this be done on an e-commerce basis with virtual fields (of which I seem to have several thousand hectares)?
In view of the above you will realise that I will be totally unemployed, and will therefore qualify for unemployment benefits. I shall of course be voting for your party at the next general election.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Officials at the authority said that to have a bonfire they would require five qualified fire marshals and metal barricades to keep onlookers at a safe distance."
Thursday, November 19, 2009
NORTH DEVON’S EXTREME ADVENTURERS
Barrister and writer Tim Kevan meets an Everest mountaineer and the leader of the Lundy swim challenge
With the its surfing beaches and the rugged cliffs and Exmoor hills behind, it is perhaps no surprise that North Devon attracts more than its fair share of adventurers. Two such are Dr Rob Casserley who is about to row the Atlantic and then climb Everest for a sixth time and Paul Irwin who led the first swim from Lundy Island to Woolacombe. What they both have in common beyond stretching the limits of their own endurance is a desire to help the wider community through raising money and awareness of particular charities.
The Everest Summiteer
If you'd told Rob Casserley ten years ago when he was a medical student in Newcastle that by now he would have summited Everest five times he would have responded with disbelief. He undoubtedly had an aptitude for sport, having played rugby to county level at school. He had also climbed the trekking peak of Mount Kenya during a gap year which he took with the army. But it wasn’t until his elective as a medical student in Bolivia and Peru that he climbed his first serious mountain, Huana Potosi at over 6,000 metres. Kilimanjaro followed, after which he decided to take a climbing sabbatical in 2002-3 during which he climbed Europe’s highest, Mount Elbrus and the world’s sixth highest mountain Cho Oyu. Then, at the end of the sabbatical he reached the summit of Mount Everest becoming the 64th British summiteer.
Since then he has been on numerous expeditions but is best known for having summited Everest a further four times, most notably in Spring 2007 when he became one of only three westerners ever to achieve two summits in one climbing season. He did it in the space of a week which was memorably filmed for the TV programme ‘Everest ER’.
In 2008, he worked as the official cameraman and personal physician to Sir Ranulph Fiennes on his Everest attempt and in the process helped to raise £2.5 million for Marie Curie Cancer Care. This led the way for another great charity adventure Ocean 2 Summit which will start on 6 December. Rob and fellow North Devon medic Stuart Burbridge will set off from La Gomera in Gran Canaria in an attempt to row the 2,700 miles across the Atlantic to Antigua. This will involve some two months of a grueling rotation system in which they will alternate two hour rowing shifts and live off re-hydrated Army style ration packs. This will be followed in the Spring of 2010 with a joint attempt on the summit of Mount Everest. Once again they will be harnessing the goodwill and publicity which such an extreme adventure will garner in order to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care. As their fundraising website puts it with characteristic modesty, they are simply “two doctors from North Devon who have a passion about putting into the community as much as is possible, whilst putting our bodies and minds through some of the toughest challenges around.”
The Lundy Swimmer
Much closer to home but no less inspiring are the efforts of Paul Irwin and his fellow participants in the inaugural Lundy Swim Challenge which was completed in August and in the process raised thousands of pounds for the Children's Hospice South West. In fact after fellow team member and GP to the Hospice Dr Bruce Hughes came up with the idea, many people may have thought they were mad. I mean, four people swimming around twenty miles in a stretch of sea which has some of the biggest tides and worst currents in the world. But for Braunton-resident Paul it was the challenge he was looking for. He’d already completed triathlons at sprint, Olympic and half-Ironman levels and raised money for charities along the way. But above all he is someone who dreams of adventure, of pushing forward the frontiers and boldly going and suddenly here was an opportunity to complete a first on his own doorstep. No-one had ever swum from Lundy to Woolacombe and he therefore jumped at the opportunity to lead the team. Along with Bruce he then recruited Simon Mathers, a P.E. teacher at Kingsley School in Bideford, Jon Parker and a reserve swimmer and swim tactician John Jameson.
Despite the difficulties involved, they somehow managed to convince key sponsors such as Saltrock, Sailfish Wetsuits and Gatorade that it was possible and the show was on the road. Then, besides the arduous training, they needed to recruit not only a support crew but a small flotilla of boats as well. This was where the final piece of the jigsaw fell into place when Bristol Channel Charters, Rudi Lancaster and the indomitable Ilfracombe Yacht Club stepped up to the mark.
After that it was all down to the weather. When they set off for Lundy the conditions were sufficiently rough to bring down a number of the support crew with sea sickness. Oh, and there was just the small issue of a bunch of Portuguese Men o'War being washed up at Combe Martin on the same day. But hey, nothing was going to stop these North Devon pioneers by this point and despite the fact that the seas remained rough for the swim the next day, the team made it through to Woolacombe in just over seven hours.
As for what’s next, they not only intend to repeat the event and open it up to more teams next year but they also have another North Devon first planned which will be open to even more members of the public. Another crazy idea set to inspire the region and one which they intend to make public when the time is right. Now I admit that I’ve already been told but if I were to divulge it now they claim it would just spoil all the fun.
But there is one thing of which we can all be sure and it is that in Rob, Stuart, Paul and the rest of the Lundy swim team the spirit of George Mallory and the romance of adventure is not only alive and well but thriving in North Devon.
To support Rob and Stuart’s fundraising visit www.ocean2summit.com and to support the Lundy Swim Team’s efforts and for more information about next year’s events, visit www.justgiving.com/lundyswim.
Tim Kevan is the author of the comic novel ‘BabyBarista and the Art of War’ (Bloomsbury) and the co-author of ‘Why Lawyers Should Surf’ (with Dr Michelle Tempest). http://www.timkevan.com/.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
29th November 2009. Start 11am.
Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), with the support of various local businesses, is calling for volunteers to help with a community beach clean from the rocks on the north end of Saunton beach all the way to Crow Point on Sunday the 29th November. This beach sits at the heart of a UNESCO biosphere reserve, and unfortunately due to the strong winds and swell recently, it has seen a greater than usual influx of marine litter to its shore. SAS is requesting the assistance of volunteers from the local community, especially those that rely on this beautiful natural resource for business, or use the beach regularly for enjoyment, to come down on the day and help give the beach a good tidy up. Wild Thyme café from Braunton have generously offered to keep the troops well nourished with soup and rolls, with veggies supplied by Edds the grocer. Other businesses lending assistance and support are Loose-Fit surf shop, Surfed Out surf shop, Tiki surf shop, Second Skin surf shop, Gulf Stream surfboards and Saunton Sands Lifesaving club amongst others. SAS are also looking for a horse and cart on the day to help with rubbish removal from the far side of the beach, so if anyone can help with this please contact Mikey Corker on 01271813300, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. All hands will be greatly appreciated. If you would like to be involved please contact Mikey, or otherwise just come down on the day. Note: Wear warm, appropriate clothing for the day including sturdy footwear. SAS will provide biodegradable bin bags, gloves and full instructions, including health & safety advice, for the beach clean on the day.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Update: I eventually managed to speak to a customer service representative who told me that it was probably because it took me too long to sign in and therefore it 'timed out' and instead decided to charge me. Very odd indeed but I am told that it will now be sorted and a refund made.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Hey, how are you? First of all, thank you for giving me the opportunity to come talk to you all on career day. Now, I’m not Mr. Carl Peterson and I don’t have a career per se. I guess you could say my career is living and loving and I do that to the utmost. I see all you fresh faced “kidlets” sitting there in your neat little rows and you’re all just pods. Pods waiting for your instructions. Now some of you are gonna get zapped right away and be 15 year old prodigies, little midget Olympic gymnasts with their pictures on cereal boxes. Some of you will go on to college and you will find your rhythm there and then go chase down the titans of industry or maybe straighten out our problems at the UN. But some of you…and this is the group that no-one ever comes into career day and addresses, and it’s criminal...not to…some of you, are just going to float along. Eating spicy foods, humming black people’s music into your thirties—well into your thirties…languishing. This group of pods is going to do a lot of languishing and you’re going to take some heat for it…sadly, you will. Europe is a little easier, it seemed to understand a little better, so did South America. I went to Argentina one time and everyone just seemed to be sitting around and it was beautiful. But that’s ok! Stay loose, stay liquid, laugh a lot–but be ready! That’s what Dupree is doing in his life’s little pod–staying nimble, until I get the call from the mothership. Then I bite. Then you’ll see Dupree coming in here throwing seven different kinds of smoke. Boom, bam!...[Pause]...That’s fine, pods that were supposed to hear this, did, and it will kick in when it needs too. I’m done here.
If you like this, you might also like the song by Baz Luhrmann entitled
Everybody's free (to wear sunscreen) which is based on an article written by Mary Schmich for the Chicago Tribune.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
'Sexy and scandal-studded, it's a sneak peek beyond the red carpet' Cosmopolitan
'A twinkly comedy of tinseltown manners' You
'How dare Alison Bond write a debut novel this good? We defy you not to be glued to its pages from beginning to end' Heat
'Sassy and fun. A great read' Closer
Friday, November 6, 2009
I have not at any stage said that I don't support the Bill, and as you know it went through last week unopposed. Had there been a vote I would have supported it.
As originally drafted, the Bill put limitless liabilities onto coastal landowners. It would have left - for example - campsite owners obliged to allow absolutely anyone to come onto their sites, invalidating their insurance policies and opening them up to responsibility for thefts from tents and caravans, or worse still allowing unknown people to walk through swimming pool areas where kids might be playing on their own.
These were the issues I and many others - mainly in the Lords - took up. Happily, sanity prevailed and the Government took these problems on board through amendments and crucially the ability of landowners to have their individual cases assessed.
It is a distortion of my view to say that I was not supporting the admirable environmental and social objectives of the Bill. I was simply flagging up to you and others who wrote in that I had some reservations on specific points which I wanted to see resolved. I am pleased that they now have been and the Bill is through.
MP for North Devon
Thursday, November 5, 2009
I have since had an answer from Nick Harvey MP in which he clarifies his position. It can be read here.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Or that’s how they’d have you believe it if you heard them in the bar after a few drinks. Yet they rarely leave - or even come close to leaving - blaming the mortgage or the school fees and the like. Perhaps the reality is that, despite it all, most lawyers like being lawyers. It might be the money, or the sense of belonging to a recognised profession or institution. It might be the thrill of the chase. Getting the bit between your teeth and fighting your corner on behalf of the client. Or it might even be trying to do some good in the world. I mean, hey, let’s not push the boat out and all, but just maybe.
All of which has been wonderfully captured in this book. The daydreams of telling the boss exactly what you think and throwing all the years of hard work down the drain in a moment of liberating honesty. The fantasy of truly chucking it all in and going out and doing something less boring instead. In this book, anything goes. There are no restrictions and the liberated lawyer is given free rein. The imagination can run wild and the result is an hilarious collection of cartoons which encapsulate the ultimate fantasy not only of many lawyers but of anyone who has ever worked in an office. This is the brilliant Alex Steuart Williams at his very best and it is a privilege to introduce this book.