Thursday, 24 December 2009


Regular readers that have been with me for over a year will recall that as the year draws to a close I announce who are my "Troy Stalwarts" for the year. I do this by reference to the number of times fellow bloggers have left comments on my postings.

I think one of the greatest things about blogging is that it creates the opportunity for a two way dialogue - allowing fellow bloggers to leave their thoughts and observations in the Comment section. It is always a thrill for me to open my blog and see that someone has left a new comment. I like to acknowledge my Troy Stalwarts who regularly comment on this blog. I'm sure several other readers regularly call by to catch up at things "Chez Troy" without leaving any virtual footprints on my blog and I apologise for not being able to recognise you as Troy Stalwarts - but you know how easy it is in future to remedy that - just leave me a comment, even a simple "Hello".

In a rather sad way (to paraphrase the thoughts of Mrs Troy when I first showed it to her [no sniggering]) I set up a spreadsheet to record who has left comments and thereby facilitate the awarding of Stalwart honours. Here's a photo of part of the said spreadsheet (click on it to enlarge):

Names are down the side and the 37 various postings during 2009 are across the top. When a comment is left then the relevant cell is filled in dark blue and the digit 1 inserted to generate a total per person and per posting.

This year I'm pleased to announce the creation of The Most Excellent Order of Troy Stalwarts. There are three membership catagories - Dame Commander (for indeed they are all female this year), Elite Officer and Cherished Member. I suggest the designatory letters CTS, OTS and MTS are used respectively for these awards.

So without more ado here is


The award of Dame Commander of the most excellent Order of Troy Stalwarts in 2009 go to:-

DJ Kirkby
Ladybird World Mother
(who each left 30 or more comments during 2009).

The award of Elite Officer of the most excellent Order of Troy Stalwarts in 2009 go to:-
Crystal Jigsaw
(who each left 25 comments during 2009).

The award of Cherished Member of the most excellent Order of Troy Stalwarts in 2009 go to:-
Catharine Withenay
Cheshire Wife
(who each left between 17 and 20 comments during 2009).

It looked for a time that both Kitty and Sarah had fallen by the wayside during 2009 but I was pleased to see them back here as the year drew to a close.

It was also my great pleasure during 2009 to actual meet in real life four of the ten Troy Stalwarts - at book launches, farmhouse lunches and speedboat riding.

In total 49 different people have left one or more comments on this blog during 2009 and (with the exception of one that May be deemed abusive) all were much appreciated.

To all my blog readers - to the those in the most excellent Order of Troy Stalwarts, to those who leave the occasional comment and to those who pass by leaving no virtual footprints - to you all on behalf of Mrs Troy, Troy Junior and your's truly, we wish a Merry Christmas 2009 and a Happy, Peaceful, Stress-free, Prosperous and Healthy 2010.

Friday, 18 December 2009


The snowflakes were falling gently as we went to bed last night (which was good as I hate noisy snowflakes) and the forecast was for anything up to eight inches overnight (which for some reason put a gleam in Mrs Troy's eyes). However on waking this morning we had hardly had a blizzard overnight. Just a modest covering of snow; a couple of inches, at best (or worse). Mrs Troy set off to work in her trusty 4x4 and then I walked Troy Junior down to school. It was very quiet everywhere with few people about. There was not the usual throng of people by the school gate - were we late?

No, the school was closed! A couple of inches of snow and the public sector grinds to an abrupt halt. So yesterday, by default, was the last day of the school term and Troy Junior would today have a day of leisure to enjoy the modest snow fall. But first we walked into the village to get my newspaper.

No newspapers! (So not just the public sector!).

I got out my camera to record the scene as snow is such a rarity in East Anglia. This photo is taken close to where I live although it doesn't actually feature our house. All these houses are less than five years old but have been built to resemble older looking houses. I refer to it as "very late Georgian". I personally like that concept as you combine modern build quality with a splash of character.

Here are some other pictures taken within a stone's throw of our home featuring the local village recreation ground and the fields beyond.

Friday, 11 December 2009


No, please keep on reading, this isn't a rant about Brussels interfering with our lives. Honestly, this is a much more intriguing local story.

We've had some issues relating to car remote controls. Mrs Troy's in particular has been playing up and she has taken to keeping a spare remote with her after changing the battery in the remote yet continuing to have problems. Last weekend she spoke with the neighbour on our left and he said that his remote wasn't working and he suspected someone was using a "remote blocker". When Mrs Troy relayed this news to me I just shrugged as I thought it was a quite far fetched notion.

Mrs Troy then noticed that another neighbour, across and down the road, who has remote controlled gates, was leaving their gates open which was most unusual. However with the cold weather and the dark evenings we didn't see them to query it. Last night Mrs Troy noticed that the next door neighbour to our right, who also has electric gates, had left their car out on the road overnight. At this stage you are probably imagining Mrs Troy to be like the neighbour in "Bewitched", always peering out from behind the curtains. That's a little unfair, she's just quite observant. It's more Neighbourhood Watch rather than Neighbourhood Witch.

This afternoon Mrs Troy saw that our neighbour was approaching her car, parked on the road, so she dashed out of the house (pink slippers a blur) and she asked her if she was having problems with her remote control. It seems they couldn’t get their gates to open despite having four remote control units. I was beginning to see a common theme developing here!

So Mrs Troy knocks on the door of the neighbour who lives immediately opposite us (this is someone I haven't mentioned so far). She told Mrs Troy that her husband had been having problems with his car's remote control but every time he had taken it to the BMW garage it had worked there.

Let's recap. Our car remotes play up. The neighbour to our left - his car remote doesn't work. The electric gates of the neighbour to our right won't open by remote. The neighbour directly opposite us has problems with his car remote but it works elsewhere. The neighbour further down the road also has problems with their remote controlled gates. Yes there is definitely a common theme working (or not working) here.

Mrs Troy phoned the local District Council and got put through to Environmental Health. They were puzzled and had never heard of a problem like this before. They couldn't help her. I've Googled "remote interference" and the only thing I can find is OFCOM but their website just refers to interference affecting TVs and radios. There’s nothing on their website about car and gate remote controls.

Its Friday teatime (5pm) and I doubt I'll get any answers from anywhere any time soon. That's unless via the power of the World Wide Web any of my readers can shed any light on this intrigue. Any clues anybody? HELP!!

Thursday, 3 December 2009


Firstly apologies for the virtually three week gap between posts. I've been very busy.

Readers who have been following this blog since last year may recall that one of the things I wrote about in November 2008 was investing in gold. Following months of research I discover in early 2008 a great place to invest in gold without paying silly premiums and high storage charges, whilst keeping it safe in a secure vault. I put a link on my posting and have subsequently put a link on my sidebar. £10,000 invested at the end of November 2008 could have bought 598gm of pure gold. Selling it now would have generated a profit, after all charges, of £3,930, or 39.3% in just over 12 months. A US investor, investing dollars, would have made an even higher percentage gain. By no means a risk-free bet but with the parlous state of most economies, gold looked one safe haven in the storm. Of course there is absolutely no guarantee the next 12 months will be the same. Many experts see gold peaking very shortly although the long term outlook for gold still looks good with the risk of inflation from all this funny-money printing by governments round the world.

I'm conscious of course in the present harsh economic climate that many people are being tempted to sell their old gold jewellry as they hear reports of record gold prices. There are several adverts on the TV and in newspapers with companies offering to buy old gold. I've heard some pretty disturbing stories about people sending off bracelets worth about £500 and only getting about £80 and failing to get their item back. A much less risky alternative is to sell to a local jewellers. One in my town has a board outside advertising to buy old 9 carat gold. Today it is quoting £5.42 a gram. I wonder how many are tempted in by the sign?

In my view that is not over-generous, being only 61.5% of the gold's market price. I've discovered on the internet a company based in Hatton Gardens, London that today is quoting £8.40 per gram.

The present price of pure gold is £23,500 per kilo. So 9 carat (37.5% pure) is £8.81 per gram. So the Hatton Garden outfit is paying 95.3% of spot gold price compared to 61.5% at the local jewellers. I've not tested the internet company but on a heavy bracelet the difference in price is quite significant (say £150+).

The reason for my research on this matter is that I found myself discussing the price of scrap gold with another jeweller yesterday. Last week I took a gamble and bought a diamond ring at an auction (as you do!). It was described as a 1.1ct brilliant cut diamond in a 18 carat white gold ring. Here's a picture.

A nice piece of "carbon". The estimate was £800-£1,200. High street jewellers, in store and online, seem to charge upwards of £2,500 for a 1 carat diamond ring. So I closed my eyes (figuratively) and bid at the auction getting it for £840. With buyer's premium and VAT it came out at £1,013. It was five ring sizes too big for Mrs Troy's finger so we took it in the next day to be resized and cleaned. For £35 the jeweller also offered a written insurance valuation. We returned yesterday to collect the ring and both held our breath whilst the jeweller opened the envelope with the written valuation in it.

This certifies the ring, describing it's 4 C's (carat, cut, clarity and colour), as well as it's valuation. I asked the jeweller what happened to the gold removed to reduce the size of the ring as even a gram is worth £17 for18ct gold. That's when we discussed scrap gold prices and he told me that there was no way I'd get anywhere near £17 for a gram of 18ct gold. We took home the sliver of gold as one day we might need it to resize the ring upwards.

Oh, I forgot to say what was on the written valuation...£4,500.00
That came as a relief - I hadn't bought a piece of cut glass! Now it is where it was always destined to be when it was being created millions of years ago deep in the earth's crust - on Mrs Troy's finger.

If you know of any young men thinking of getting engaged then perhaps you should advise them to buy their engagement rings at a reputable auction. For the same money, they should get three times the ring at auction compared to a high street jewellers. And with bigger rings come more kudos from both their fiancees and their future mother-in-laws!