Saturday, 27 December 2008


My father and I had a most enjoyable short break of five days in Hong Kong just prior to Christmas. The weather was perfect, with blue cloudless sky throughout and a very comfortable 21 to 23 degrees centigrade each day. As this was my father's first trip to the former colony, we did the usual tourist things - firstly a ride on the Peak Tramway up to Victoria Peak to see the view over the harbour, by day:-

and also by night (although this time we cheated, beating the queues for the Tramway by taking a taxi both ways):-
(Picture since removed)
One day we did a full day excursion onto Lantau Island to visit the largest Buddha in the world. This involved a quite spectacular 4.7km cablecar ride:-

The monastery was surrounded by a very colourful display of flowers. It was easy to forget with the colours and the weather that this was the week before Christmas.
(Picture since removed)
The Buddha itself is set on the top of a small hill giving a excellent viewpoint over the island. It is one big buddha (to paraphrase my father).

We had another full day out at Ocean Park. This amusement park combines fun rides, excellent aquariums and shows. My 78 year old father went on the triple looping roller coaster. He was easy to pick out on the ride as everyone else had dark hair and they were at least half his age! He's on the back row of the third car.

We spent a pleasant hour or more, every morning sitting by the hotel swimming pool getting a bit of winter sun and having a daily swim. My aim was to combine the sightseeing with a bit of rest and relaxation each day. This is a view of the pool from the hotel bedroom window.
(Picture since removed)
The next photo shows my father relaxing by the harbourside near the Exhibition Centre that was used in the 1997 Handover Ceremony. The office buildings of Central are in the background. The tallest tower is "IFC Two" which at 1,350feet tall and 88storeys dwarves the other buildings.

The view of the Hong Kong Island skyline at night from Kowloon is quite unique. We sailed over on the Star Ferry but we also used the MTR underground system extensively to get around. The MTR is cheap, efficient and air-conditioned. If only London's was half as good.

Overall we had a most enjoyable and relaxing break whilst fitting in an active daily amount of sightseeing. Despite the eight hour time difference we had minimal jet-lag thanks to Virgin's flatbed seats. We can thoroughly recommend Hong Kong as long-distance city break destination or, perhaps more sensibly, as a stop-over to break one's journey on the way to the Antipodes.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008


According to the song then all Troy Junior should want for Christmas is his two front teeth. However he also appears to have a rather long list of material things he'd like for Christmas. We have been trying to manage his expectation levels and, in part at least, have succeeded. One of the pleasures of Christmas is filming him on the camcorder whilst he is opening his presents.

Meanwhile, here is proof that Troy Junior is challenged in the tooth department at present.

The Troy Family send everyone their sincere best wishes for the Christmas Season and for 2009.


Saturday, 13 December 2008


Having ducked out last week from writing about the “7 things I find attractive in the opposite sex” I’ve found inspiration this week. The reason for this inspiration will become apparent soon – be patient, first here is the list:-

1. Intelligence

2. Sense of Humour

3. Long hair

4. Eyes with a twinkle in them

5. Slim but curvy figure

6. Shapely legs

7. Not too tall

I haven’t put explanations against these attributes as I feel they are all self-explanatory and as well as being predictable.

What inspired me this week was someone in the news that VERY nicely combined all these lovely attributes into one glorious whole.

Ladies and Gentlemen I give you………

…the hostess of TV programme “Countdown” for the last 26 years, the gorgeous….


I was hoping to get a photograph of her that also had the 9 letters ILOVETROY on the board - but the odds on that are 26x26x26x26x26x26x26x26x26 or 208,827,060,000 to 1.

I must point out to all my readers that Mrs Troy is also extremely nice and of course caught my eye as a 21 year old with many of these attributes. However, if she has ever had a £1million a year TV contract she has kept it very well hidden. (Oh dear, I just realised that there are in fact EIGHT things I find attractive in a woman - aren't I shallow?).

Thursday, 11 December 2008


It is now over six months since I started blogging and it has become a way of life. What has kept me going has been the kind feedback I've received through your comments. Although I look enviously upon those bloggers with their regular 30+ comments against their postings I am proud to have a "gang" of small but loyal commenters. It somehow seems more exclusive. I'm using this posting to say a BIG THANK-YOU to my "Special Gang Of Eight".

Having time on my hands I compiled a little chart a couple of weeks ago with names down the side and ticks across the columns for each comment I've received. How sad is that? (Or perhaps not!). Now as I regularly update this list, my loyal band shine clearly through and I find myself thinking "oh, so-and-so hasn't commented yet"...but then a few hours later - there you are!

So the "SPECIAL GANG OF EIGHT" roll of honour, in order of first arrival on my blog is:

Crystal Jigsaw - you encouraged me from the very start - thank you! - I'm looking forward to meeting you next Summer in your beautiful part of the world

Hadriana - also a stalwart from virtually Day One. If its not the full B&B when you've set yourself up, then hopefully we'll have a nice cream tea together one day.

Denyse Kirkby - my Wednesdays wouldn't be the same without the challenge of your WW caption competition. What I lack in quality I make up for in quantity and I'm proud of my winner badges. I'm looking forward to meeting you and Chopper at your book launch - not long now.

Debs - I've never been to Jersey (although have visited both Guernsey and the lovely Alderney) but one day I'll get my family over to "Bergerac Island" and then hopefully will get the chance to talk in Real Life.

Trixie - I've very much enjoyed our "virtual acquaintance" and hope we meet up at DJ's book launch.

Carol & Chris - I was well chuffed when I saw that someone in Thailand was reading my blog. I felt I'd gone truly "global". I've just seen on DJ's blog that you too will be at the book launch. Great news!

Brit Gal Sarah - you've become a recent stalwart - and all the way from remote Okieland! I can't see me ever getting so far "up country" but I appreciate our virtual acquaintance - and long may it continue.

Ladybird World Mum - last but certainly not least in this roll of honour. I love your blog and our mutual feedbacks. Again I hope that at some stage the virtual will change to reality.

Gosh, all ladies too! If only I was that popular with the ladies in real life. No I'm only joking, I've got Mrs Troy in Real Life and I couldn't wish for better. But I do appreciate my "Special Gang Of Eight" out there in blogland.

Here's a special badge I've made exclusively for you all:-

After this weekend I'm away for nine days doing my Hong Kong trip with my father. After quitting work, I no longer have a laptop and, after much consideration, I've decided not to buy one now. So I will be out of virtual contact from the 14th to the 23rd....and then it will be Christmas! So let me take this opportunity to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Finally to my other readers who may feel excluded by not being in the Special Gang Of Eight. You too are truly much appreciated - all comments are welcomed here. There are lots of other blogs, besides those linked above, I call by on a regular basis. Next year you know what to do to become a member of my gang - let me know each time you call by.

I may get one more post in before I fly out - most likely another in the "7 things" series - if I can find the time with all my packing etc.

Monday, 8 December 2008


I’m going out of turn with this list in the “7 things” tag. On the “normal” running order as per all the tags I’ve seen so far, the next up in this series should be “7 things I admire in the opposite sex”. However I’m struggling to write this, not I hasten to add because I don’t find many things to admire in the opposite sex, but because most ideas either seem shallow and unworthy, or pretentious and cringe-worthy.

So rather than grind to an abrupt halt this week I’m jumping forward to the “7 celebrities I admire the most”. Even here I’m going to change it to include famous people from the past and the present rather the modern concept of “celebrity”. So here’s my list, set out in order of date of birth.

Sir Isaac Newton (b. 1643)
Newton was a brilliant scientist and mathematician. In 1687 he published what is considered to be the most influential book in the history of science. His work covered a wide range of scientific matters - astronomy, gravity, mechanics, momentum, optics and calculus, which together set out a framework for the next 300 years of study.

Sir Winston Churchill (b 1874)
Although he made a great contribution throughout his political life, Churchill gets into this listing through his leadership during World War II. His oratory of defiance when Britain and its Empire stood alone against the Nazi tyranny inspired his people to carry on in their darkest hour. Who can fail to marvel at both his word craft and power of speech?

Sir Frank Whittle (b.1907)
Whittle was the inventor of the jet turbine that transformed aviation. Without his pioneering invention, which he stubbornly worked on for years with little official support, we would not live in the small world of today. Next week I’m flying off to Hong Kong, travelling nearly 8,000 miles non-stop in 12 ½ hours. Without the jet engine this journey would still be a slow, tedious and uncomfortable.

Benny Hill (b.1924)
In these politically correct times I know I’m going out on a limb here! From the late 1960’s to the late 1980’s Benny’s show brought tears of laughter to my eyes. From the start of the “Yackety Sax” theme tune I knew there would be an hour of clever plays on words, delicious double entendres, attractive young ladies and brilliantly constructed songs. Hill wanted us to laugh at lechery not condone it and the hapless men usually came to a sticky end. His shows were sold to 140 countries and attracted audiences of billions. Yet he died alone and disowned by the new alternative comedians with their socialist pretensions.

Margaret Thatcher (b.1925)
Well you either love her or hate her – I know there is no middle ground. Well I think she has made the greatest contribution to Britain in the last fifty years. She got a nation laid waste by Labour and the Unions in 1979 firmly back on its feet, although the medicine at times was painful. We need to see the likes of her again after another bad spell of Labour mismanagement!

Sir Richard Branson (b.1950)
A serial entrepreneur, a marketing guru, and a person with the common touch. I flew on one of the very first Virgin Atlantic flights from Heathrow to Newark, NJ. A breath of fresh air with so many innovative ideas compared to staid old British Airways. I’m looking forward to renewing my aquaintance with a Virgin flat bed next week and know that without the likes of Richard Branson the travel experience would be still stuck in the 1970’s. He may get some stick over Virgin Trains but in everything he does he tries to put the customer first.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee (b.1955)
Berners-Lee is a computer pioneer who invented the World Wide Web. It is difficult to imagine the world today without the internet. He took out no patents and receives no royalties. He has made it his mission to keep the internet free of outside interference and the technology available to all. A modern British hero.

So that’s my list. Not without contention for sure but all in their various fields are worthy of being “famous people I admire” for the reasons I set out above. I’m sure you have your own opinions of these people and look forward to hearing them.

Friday, 5 December 2008


When we moved over here to East Anglia two years ago, we bought a house that had been repossessed. As you can imagine, the garden had not had a lot of t.l.c. Once we had settled in over the winter, I did some garden design sketches and then through the following two summers we set about improving things.

Part of the garden looked like this when we moved in:

First I got in some professionals to build a nice decking area in front of our french windows. They did a good job so I phoned them to see if they would like to dig up some grass and lay some slate. They didn't seem so keen on doing this manual work. So instead I set about digging out the grass in front of the kitchen myself and with the aid of a neighbour's wheelbarrow I moved tons of soil. Over the internet I then ordered 2 tonnes of blue/grey slate and this was delivered in two giant bags onto my driveway. This we then moved over the space of two back-breaking days, using shovel and wheelbarrow, onto the area I had cleared. We also had a flat pack shed delivered and we built it and painted it white to match the house. The grass-banked area was then finished with wooden edging and some hebe type plants. The end result is:

At the top corner of the garden the previous owners had started digging out a deep hole for a garden pond. However rather than finish the project they instead used it to just dump a chest of drawers (as you do?). When we moved in it looked like this:

I removed the drawers and filled the hole using the soil and grass removed from the area by the kitchen. I then needed to turf this area. On the internet I found a supplier of good turf about 20 minutes drive away. I called by to see it and tried lifting one of their rolls - it wasn't too heavy. So I ordered the amount I needed having worked out it would just fit in Mrs Troy's 4x4. The day I picked up the turf it had been raining heavily, doubling the weight of the turf. I drove back home with the turf VERY gently using the gears to assist braking. Then we laid the turf (more back-breaking work). Spare wood from the decking was used to make another small decking platform in the corner and we put a double seat/table combination on it. This area of garden was transformed as follows:

I think you will agree that the back-breaking work over two summers was worth the effort. We are now looking forward to an nice easy summer in 2009 just enjoying our revised garden. And when it comes to sell the house in years to come we should get back our investment of time and money.

POSTSCRIPT : It was remiss of me not to acknowledge all the hard work Mrs Troy did in digging out the borders and planting them.

Monday, 1 December 2008


Here’s the third instalment of the “7 Things” meme I’ve been tagged to do. I’ve got to think of 7 things which I can’t do – so here goes:-

1 Sing and play a musical instrument : I can’t do either, I’d like to be able to do both. Of course I can “sing”. Yet not like I’d like to – in tune. I had a few piano lessons when I was a child and learnt to play a few hits of the day - badly. What is frustrating is that I love rock and pop music. I love to sing along in the privacy of my own home or in the car. And at home I can dig out my trusty old folding air guitar, quickly tune it up, and feel like one of the great rock stars. I try to imagine what it must be like, performing in front of thousands of adoring fans. Perhaps a bit like blogging (tongue in cheek!).

2. Go back in time : I’m interested in history. Not just the key dates they teach you at school but rather what it must have been really like in Roman times, Tudor Times, Victorian times. Also, I’ve done quite a lot of work on my family history but what I’d really like to do is have a time machine and go back and see it for real. I’d love to see my parents and grandparents and great-grandparents when they were kids and when they were setting out as adults. What were their dreams, their fears and their attitudes? One of the drivers behind my Book Project (see earlier post if you’re new here) was a desire to leave something of my real life to my future generations. And perhaps now through blogs we can do what few people did in earlier generations – leave a diary of ourselves to the future. Yet I suspect that ink on paper is the only safe way to preserve things.

3. Grow my hair back : If I had just three wishes one of them would definitely be to still have a full head of hair. Mentally I still have. My image of myself is still as a 30 year old with youthful looks and a full head of hair. The mirrors in my house unfortunately are more up to date. Having a full head of hair would get me at least halfway back there.

4. Get in the Christmas spirit : It’s the same every year – this time of year depresses me. So many people getting into the festive mood but neither Mrs Troy nor I ever catch it. I’m just waiting for the Spring, the warmer days, then long sunny evenings, lightweight summer clothes, going out on my boat or for long walks through the fields or along the beach. When I was working and the end of December marked our financial year end and pending audit I used to think that was the reason I didn’t enjoy Christmas – that it was always casting a shadow over it. But since I’ve left work my feelings haven’t changed. Fact is I’m just a summer person.

5. Buy bargain holidays : Since Troy Junior started school we’ve been stuck with taking family holidays during the school holidays. As a School Governor I feel obliged to set a good example and not take my child out of school. Yet the change in holiday prices between term time and school holiday time is sickening. I do like a bargain. We used to book late holidays, take a cruise round the Caribbean and then come home before it was time to pay the credit card bill. Now we need to plan months in advance and we choose to stay in the UK in the summer. Those Caribbean beaches are but a faded memory. When Troy Junior goes to University (2019) we are going on a world cruise. The next eleven years will fly by!

6 Get a job : But wait a minute you are thinking, Troy is happily retired? Well yes I am, but in a perfect world I would still like to work from mid October until Easter. It’s the winter/summer thing again. I registered with an agency and I do look for suitable jobs on the internet. There was one perfect job last year – but they didn’t want me! Suitable, well paid temporary jobs seem few and far between out here in Suffolk – and I suspect the situation will get worse rather than better. Still as I type this, its 12.45, lunchtime, and the morning has flown by. I’m happy, life’s okay, mustn’t grumble.

7. Be bothered thinking of a 7th thing : I’ve already written a lot about myself in the six things above. A psychoanalyst would have a field day. And you are probably bored already (oh, you’re still here, thanks!).

Back next week with “7 things that I find attractive in the opposite sex”. A whole week to do some fieldwork!

Friday, 28 November 2008


Am I still in England? Do I still live in a democracy? I ask these questions because the event occuring in the last twenty four hours, which saw a member of Her Majesty's Opposition arrested, seems more like Zimbabwe than the England I want to live in. Damien Green is Shadow Immigration Minister and the information he has brought into the public domain is of vital public interest. Illegal immigrants employed by the Home Office and working in the House of Commons shows security was a complete sham. The public has a right to know these sort of things.

We are now on a very slippery slope towards a one party Police State. In the same context as yesterday's arrest, Winston Churchill would have been arrested in the 1930's for disclosing information leaks about our lack of preparation against the Nazis.

What are the chances come 2010 that ZaNu Labour will declare a State of Emergency due to the ongoing economic situation and not allow an election? And no doubt the EU would fully support them.

Perhaps you've just read that last paragraph and you are thinking "what overblown scaremongering". Well remember we've had the introduction into British law of the Civil Contingencies Act which gives the government the right to terminate democracy in an "emergency" of its own definition. Also the introduction into British law of the Terrorist Act which allows the government to prevent political demonstrations and hold people without charge for a month. To paraphrase Vince Cable "from Mr Bean to Stalin". Be Afraid - Be Very Afraid!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008


This is my second posting in the Seven Things series following my tag by rob clack. This time it is “7 things I do now” but I’m actually just going to give you four things. Pleased don’t feel short changed, I will explain in a bit of detail why I do them now. So four is enough!

Chill and Relax – the best thing about retiring early has been the virtual elimination of stress from my life. Mrs Troy believes, and I tend to agree, that if I’d kept on going as previously I wouldn’t have lived to the normal retirement date. The early rise, the commute to Central London, the manic and incessant e-mail demands for information, the staff out sick, or on holiday, or extended maternity leave. The work that still had to done to ever tighter deadlines. Stop! Stop! STOP! I want to get off!
And I did. Of course I miss both the money and the social aspects of working in an office. But I’m so much happier now and so much more relaxed and free of stress. So if you can (and I know it is far from easy) save, invest and try to retire early.

Enjoy long walks on the beach – I’ve always liked the coast. Now we live just a fifteen minute ride from the nearest beach and it is not much further to many other beautiful beaches. My favourite local beach is just south of Dovercourt leading on to the Walton Backwaters. The views are nice, the sand is soft under foot and it is frequently totally deserted. Well just me, a picnic in a rucksack, the waves lapping onto the beach, a gentle breeze and the sunshine. There are yachts, power boats, ferries and container ships offshore adding to the interest as well as many small wading birds scurrying along the tide line. Bliss!

Invest in Gold – gold (and silver) used to be everyday money. But then governments around the world decided we’d be better off instead with their bits of paper backed by just their written promises. A Gordon Brown promise – yeah right! So I wanted to find a way of investing in something that was independent of governments and I found gold. Not in the ground or in a stream, but after much internet searching I discovered “Bullion Vault” a company who facilitate the secure purchase and sale of gold bullion, simply and with low charges. . My gold is stored safely in vaults in London and Zurich, it is not at home under the mattress! Obviously I’m not recommending buying gold to everyone but many experts do advise keeping 5%-10% of your wealth in gold. Which is strange, after all it is just a lump of metal, but over the years it has proved a safe way to preserve the purchasing value of your wealth independent of governments. Follow the link above to find out more (but caveat emptor!).

Follow Ipswich Town FC – three years ago I didn’t give Ipswich’s results a second glance. But having moved to the area with a view to settling here long term I wanted a sporting interest. Now I’m totally hooked. I can’t wait until next Saturday afternoon to get down to Portman Road and cheer on my team. I feel strongly that people should support their local team not some distant Premiership team. Get a season ticket, get to know the players – and support them through the good and bad times.

I’ll be back next week with my 3rd posting in the Seven Things series. Please stay tuned!

Monday, 24 November 2008


What a totally disgraceful and pathetic pre-budget report I’ve just had the misfortune to sit through this afternoon. It is difficult to get one’s head around the levels of borrowing that Chancellor Alistair Darling will now be running up as a result of this Government's incompetence in handling the economy over the last few years.

£78,000,000,000 in extra borrowing in this financial year, plus

£118,000,000,000 extra borrowing in the financial year 2009/10, plus

£105,000,000,000 extra borrowing in the financial year 2010/11

At this rate it could soon add up to a big number!

And who pays the interest on these enormous borrowings? Me, you, and for many, many years to come, so will our children. Yes we are spending as if there is no tomorrow and our children will have to pick up the tab. To the next generation we leave all our worldly debts!

Perhaps you are cheering the 2.5% drop in VAT? Last week Marks & Spencer had a 20% sale yet I stayed at home. Debenhams had a 25% sale over 3 days last week and still I stayed at home. Now Mr Darling is expecting me to rush out next week on a personal spending binge once all the poor retailers have had the time to change all their prices to reflect a 2.5% reduction in VAT. Yeah right! Perhaps he wanted to reduce it further but the European Union doesn’t allow their EU regional governments to set the standard VAT rate below 15%.

There are lots of handouts of child benefits and extra payments to pensioners paid for by an increase in the tax on jobs – National Insurance.

Last week two Scots apologised and resigned due to the parlous state into which they had got their organisation (the Royal Bank of Scotland). It is too much to hope that the ultimate incompetent Scottish duo – Brown and Darling – will now have the decency to do likewise and call a General Election!

Sunday, 23 November 2008


How the weather has changed in the last two weeks. These two photographs were taken in our back garden only two weeks apart - on 9th November and 23rd November - but what a contrast!

A very autumnal feel here with many leaves on the ground but also many still on the trees. A nice bright autumnal sun adds to the view.

But then two weeks later we awoke* to this:-

The trees are virtually bare. Troy Junior woke us this morning with the news that the snow had arrived. We rarely get snow in this area of East Anglia and Troy Junior has yet to see a true deep blanket of snow. Perhaps he will get his wish this winter? I'm just glad I no longer have to commute to work in the winter.

(* for the avoidance of doubt - we hadn't been fast asleep for two weeks!)

Monday, 17 November 2008


I’ve been tagged by rob clack to do the “7 things” thingy. It appears that there are seven different categories altogether as follows:-

7 things I plan to do before I die
7 things I do now
7 things I can’t do
7 things that attract me to the opposite sex
7 things I say most often
7 celebrities I admire
7 favourite foods

Which means that I have to come with 49 items in total to interest you. That’s a big ask – so instead I’ll do one category now and do the other six categories in the weeks to come which should take us to the end of December (so stick with me folks!).

Let’s start with 7 THINGS I PLAN TO DO BEFORE I DIE ----

Go on a world cruise – this will have to wait until Troy Junior goes to University; pencilled in for October 2019. A long time to wait but also a long time to save up for it. If Mrs Troy is good, I’ll take her with me.
Tour New Zealand – having seen it in a number of films, like Lord of The Rings, I’d like to experience it for real. Also I’ve recently been given this strange ring to dispose of carefully.
See the Great Barrier Reef – why are these places all on the far side of the world? Perhaps in years to come the much heralded sub-space flights taking a couple of hours to get there will really come to fruition. And hopefully I’ll still have some Virgin air-miles to use up.
Buy a place abroad overlooking the sea – we had a weekend holiday home, we called the Beach House, overlooking the sea at Clacton but I sold it when I retired. You may think that was a strange thing to do on I retiring, or, you may be impressed that I sold it at the top of the market in August 2007. Clacton is convenient but it sure as hell ain’t exotic.
See England win the football World Cup – I’m hoping that England get to stage the World Cup in 2018 and that my Dad, Troy Junior and I can go and see England play in it at Wembley. In 2018, my Dad will be 88, I’ll be 63 (!) and Troy Junior will be 17. It will be great if the three generations of the family can enjoy this experience together. [Late addition : if our England "Reserve" team can beat Germany 1-2 in Berlin then anything is possible!]
Complete the Book Project (see earlier posting) – this should take 20 years to complete. If it proves to be a best seller it may fund some of the other items above.
See Troy Junior grow up to be a fine, confident and independent man - with only the one heir, I've got all my eggs in one basket. I hope he’ll be happy in love, happy in his chosen career and happy with his inheritance (that’s good genes; did you think I meant money!?!).

I hope you’ll return next week for my next instalment.

Monday, 10 November 2008


Oh dear, I’ve been tagged! Well actually a part of me is quietly pleased that someone took the trouble to tag me (thanks TarteTartan) but now I’ve got to come up with six random facts about myself which may (or more may not) be of interest to you, my dear readers.

I independently discovered a Comet
I’ve always had an interest in astronomy and in the early 1970’s I discovered quite independently a faint comet whilst observing the night sky with binoculars. At that time there was no internet to consult so instead I wrote to the TV Astronomer Patrick Moore. I got a reply, written on his old battered typewriter, telling me that yes I had indeed discovered a comet but it had been first spotted a little earlier by two Japanese observers. If I’d been a little quicker I would have had a comet named after me. Instead I’ve still got the treasured letter from Patrick Moore (now Sir Patrick).

Dealing with customer complaints in person at Butlins
Whilst I was a student in the mid 1970’s I worked the summer holidays at a Butlins holiday camp. I dealt with customers' complaints when they came to see me in my small office at the end of one of the chalet rows. This was my first experience dealing with members of the public and I tried to handle it with a smile and with humour. I must have done quite a good job because when I applied in the second year for this temporary seasonal work they took me back on and on arrival I discovered they had fired the incumbent when they knew I was returning! The great part about this job was my commute to work each day – a two mile walk along the beach.

A most useful invention – especially for students
I’m very proud of this invention – the folding air guitar. Again this goes back to the mid 1970’s when I had to travel each term from my home in Yorkshire to University at Nottingham (the real one, not Trent Poly). With so many things to pack and carry I found having a folding air guitar invaluable. This is so useful for anybody who likes music but does a lot of travelling. I’m disappointed that I’ve never had the recognition this great invention deserves. Perhaps I should take it onto the Dragons' Den?

Impressing the neighbour’s son with 850 million dollars
I recently told my neighbour’s son (Troy Junior’s friend) that I had 850 million dollars. He didn’t believe me. I actually had to physically show him the 850 million dollars before he would accept I was telling the truth. Then he was impressed. He would have been less impressed I think if he fully understood the implications of the words “Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe” on the banknotes.

I’m taking my elderly father to Hong Kong this December
My father spends his days caring for my mother who has very advanced Alzheimers. Every three months we encourage him to have a “Respite” break when my mother goes into a care home. This December I’m taking him to Hong Kong. He has never been before, and at 78 years old this may be his first and last visit to the “Far East”. He’s got a flat bed both ways on the plane and five nights in a five star hotel. He deserves it (and much more) for all the love and devotion he gives to my poor mother. Alzheimers is the most truly horrendous thing – I’m praying for a cure before I get old.

The Troy Family may be on TV next Spring
I’m not giving away the details yet but there is a chance that the Troy Family may feature in a Channel 4 documentary next Spring. The idea is at a very early stage so I’m giving no further clues but will of course let everyone know more if it does come to fruition.

Well that’s six random facts about me that you didn’t know before. I hope you found them interesting. I think I would have struggled to find a seventh one – I lead a quiet life. Regarding the book project (see below) – I’ve got my short list drawn up now and will contact the “victims” and move things forward this week.

Friday, 31 October 2008


Yes, I thought that was a heading that would catch the interest of my readers. I have had what I hope is a brainwave – an idea that could result in the production of a best selling book. The good news is that I want to share this project with several other people, each taking an equal share of the profit. The bad news is that the benefits, by the nature of the project, are to say the least, some way off in the future.

“So what is this brainwave for a best selling book?” I hear you cry. Here it is:-

I’m looking for four or five other people, as well as myself, to record a typical day in their life each year for the next twenty years. On that specific day each year (say for example, the first Wednesday in May) they would attempt to do the same things, year after year, whilst making observations of the changing world around them. They would record what was making the news headlines, the latest crazes, the sort of clothes they were wearing, the price of their purchases; whilst doing a collection of the mundane and interesting things that go to make up an average day.

Imagine if this had been done for say the period 1956 to 1975. What a lot of interesting changes would have been observed and recorded even by people going about their everyday lives. Or the period from say 1978 to 1997. In fact I suspect that for any 20 year period in history the changes would make a fascinating read.

I think we would need a variety of people – male and female, urban and rural, married and single, from their late twenties to their early fifties – to get the most out of the project. It would need people in a somewhat settled routine for continuity. It would be no use for example for a 7 year old to transition into a 27 year old (from CBBC to Panorama) as that would be about their own transition rather than the changes in the world about them. Likewise people shouldn’t be too old at the start of the project as we would want them to complete the project whilst still being healthy and active (and alive!).

If each person’s annual observations ran to about three pages of text that would produce 60 pages over the 20 years. With five or six people that would give a 300-360 page book.

I think if it was then published in 2029 it could have the potential to catch the public’s imagination and become a bestseller. Best case scenario – it would be on everybody's Christmas present list and ultimately become the Samuel Pepy’s Diary of 21st Century. Worse case is that no one would interested, but even then, the people undertaking their project would have collected some interesting observations for their own family history and their future generations.

So is anybody interested? I would look to share the future proceeds in equal shares so I’m looking for no additional reward for the initial concept. Some outline legal and confidentiality agreement would be needed for everyone’s protection. Everyone taking part would have to commit to the project for 20 years – effectively agreeing to maintain as far as possible the same activities on one unique day each year for twenty years. So what do you think? And more to the point, are you interested in taking part?

Sunday, 26 October 2008


Do you have that horrible little EU symbol on your car registration plates? If so, you are in a small minority here in the UK yet if you travel on the Continent they are displayed, presumably with pride, on virtually all their cars. This, perhaps more than any other tangible sign, clearly shows Britain’s contrasting antipathy to the EU.

When Mrs Troy and I have purchased new cars over the last few years one of our first instructions to the car dealers has been to ensure, most emphatically, that the number plates do not include the EU flag symbol. We would not be seen dead with it. Mrs Troy does have an EU flag sticker in her car window but as it also has a big NO in the centre her feelings on the matter are quite clear. She got her car sticker off eBay and it looks like this:-

Quite a lot people in the UK have decided to put the national flag – of England, Scotland or Wales – on their car registration plates. They have done that in the belief that this is legal. In 2001, following a Mail On Sunday campaign, a Labour government minister assured motorists that they could continue to display the Cross of St. George, the Scottish Saltire or the Welsh Dragon. DVLA officials at the time advised that legislation would quickly be enacted to ensure the legality of these symbols on vehicles. But now we learn that never happened. Seven years later, following questions in Parliament, it has emerged that the required legislation was never put in place.

So the government action to exempt UK drivers from the EU legislation outlawing national symbols never happened. Perhaps it is because, as with so many things, this Government is happy to say things but never action their words?

More disturbingly however, it could be because our Government humbly approached their bosses in Brussels to get their kind permission for the exemption but that exemption was refused. I suspect it is the latter – WE ARE NO LONGER A SOVEREIGN STATE.

Saturday, 18 October 2008


October is a busy time in the Troy garden. The good news is that we have some lovely beech and oak trees in our back garden. The bad news is that in October all their leaves choose to fall to the ground. I can’t overstate the gravity of the situation. Clearing away these leaves is a major undertaking.

The trees are a beautiful feature of our garden and when we bought the house we were told that the trees were subject to a TPO. To the uninitiated I should explain that a TPO means Tree Preservation Order issued by the local council. The council feel that our trees enhance the environment and therefore they want to protect and safeguard them. Unfortunately though the council do not want to come and clear up the leaves from their protected trees – that is our job.

So in early October our trees look like this:-

That’s not all of them just the ones I could fit in.

Then by mid October the garden begins to look like this (2006 picture):-

And then we all have to get down to the hard work of collecting them up. We have several goes at clearing the leaves and each time a couple of days later the garden looks the same. Last year in total, over a period of about four weeks, we collected 40+ black bin bags of compacted leaves. After the first year (2006) I went out and bought an electric leaf vacuum to suck up the leaves but we also rely on manual methods as modelled here by Troy Junior.

These giant plastic scoopers are very effective and highly recommended. They cost about £6 from Robert Dyas - and are a cheap way of keeping a child amused for hours. If you do buy them we can sell you some leaves for your child to play with!

Tuesday, 14 October 2008


Is it time for a change in time? That is what the good folk of Jersey CI will be voting on tomorrow (Wednesday 15th). They are having a referendum (that’s like the people having their say, Gordon) on whether to move their clocks forward by one hour to Central European Time. That would put Jersey one hour ahead of the UK throughout the year. Supporters of the plan say it would improve the quality of life in Jersey. The main objection of opponents is that it would put them out of sync. with the UK.

I would certainly vote for that change here in the UK. It would mean that in winter we are on GMT + 1 hour and in summer on GMT + 2hours. During the long summer evenings the sun would set about 10.20pm. It would rise about 5am instead of 4am so effectively we’d be getting an extra hour of daylight during our waking hours. If you’ve ever been in France during the summer you will know how pleasant it is to have this extra hour of daylight.

But what about winter you ask? Well during the month of shortest daylight – December – the sun wouldn’t rise until about 9am and would set about 5pm. Some people argue against the change because for a few weeks in the year English school children would be going to school in twilight conditions. I suppose schools and offices could move their start times by 15minutes from November to January.

However there would be savings made on power usage in the evening – so this would be a green adjustment – and there would be fewer road accidents. Apparently, and I don’t remember this, the UK experimented with the extra hour between 1968 and 1971 and there was a fall in the number of people killed in road accidents.

So what’s to stop us changing? The Scottish don’t like it because they would suffer from dark winter mornings more than the English due to their northern latitude. They wouldn’t see any winter daylight until well after 9am. Also, I understand that farmers don’t like the idea, again because of the darker mornings but I would have thought they would have more flexibility over their working hours anyway.

I think this is a debate worth having. I look forward to the result of the Jersey referendum with interest. And courtesy of my blog you can also have your own mini-referendum : I would welcome your comments on this subject.

UPDATE 8.20AM 16TH OCTOBER : We are about 1,058 comments short of a statistically valid sample.

Friday, 10 October 2008


Whilst controversy raged on my blog yesterday there was excitement of another kind outside my house. Minutes after the morning school run had finished there were three school mums desperately trying to get into my house. And I was there. At this point, dear reader, you are probably imagining three yummy mummies trying to break down my door whilst I’m inside trying to decide on which one to bestow my “morning favours”.

I like this image. When I took early retirement this image had crossed my mind.

Unfortunately the excitement was of a different sort yesterday. I had locked myself out of the house although I still had my keys with me. “What???” you ask. Well my front door effectively locks itself when you close it so I ’m always careful to ensure I have my keys with me at all times. What I hadn’t noticed was that my son had previously opened my door from the inside using a spare set of keys and then had left them in the lock.

So at 8.35am the other families who we walk to school with were walking up our road as usual and my son and I raced out to join them. I closed our front door and went to double lock it. My key wouldn’t fully go in the lock as the inside key was in the way. I could neither double lock it nor unlock it – I WAS LOCKED OUT. Anyway, school beckoned so we all completed the walk to the school (with me cursing my son under my breath all the way). Then two of the school mums came to help and give moral support. One of the school mums had explained that a few months earlier she had had a window changed and the workman had easily removed the outside beading and then the window pane. Hey presto! An easy way in? The school mum emerged from her kitchen with a variety of implements with which to attempt our break-in.

First though we tried working on the front door – trying to shift the inside keys. One mum had a daughter aged about three. Perhaps the daughter’s thin arm could reach through the letterbox to these keys. Not a good idea – it was soon apparent that we were more likely to have a young child with its arm stuck in the letterbox. Just then another school mum walked by – “trying to break-in?" she asked breezily. She quickly got hold of the long wire which the other mum had brought and try to get to the keys through the letterbox. After several attempts she got them but the wire just bent. “I’ll come back with a stronger coat hanger” she said and promptly left. In the meantime we went round the back of the house to look at the window beading. We tried to dislodge it but it wouldn’t shift.

A car drew up outside the front – the third school mum returning with a straightened coat hanger. She sat on our front door stairs and began to poke at the keys through the letterbox again. Minutes passed by, neighbour’s young daughter got bored “Can we go now!” she wailed. Two of the school mums gave up and started walking down the road but meanwhile the third mum had hooked the keys with the wire but couldn’t budge them. I quickly grabbed the wire and frantically twisted it. Suddenly the keys came loose. I put my key in the outside lock and the door was opened. “I’M IN!” I shouted to the other mums as they walked down the road. They rushed back. Congratulations all round – a job well done.

Meanwhile I had put my wife in the picture and from her office she had contacted my bank with whom I have emergency cover. They asked her if the doors and windows were all locked. She replied “Yes, [duh!] that why he’s locked out”. Their reply? “Well if the house is secure we can’t help you, we don’t class it as an emergency!”.

If you are in trouble there is only one place to call – “SCHOOL MUMS TO THE RESCUE”.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008


I've just read that we, the British taxpayers, are to bail out all the cretins that put more than £50,000 into that dodgy foreign bank (Icesave) that was paying an excessive rate of interest. How stupid is that? In future should we move all our savings from the UK banks and put them with whichever minor, previously unheard of, foreign bank is paying a better rate of interest? Why be content with 6% when the Bank of Timbuktu may pay us 7%+. After all there will be no risk - our Labour Government would come to our rescue with taxpayers' money! Unbelieveable!

POSTSCRIPT : It now appears that 20 local councils in the UK have deposited hundreds of millions of pounds with these Icelandic banks. Heads should roll in these councils and the "responsible" officials who put public money at risk in these Icelandic Casinos should be named and shamed. UPDATE : Ipswich Borough Council have £5million deposited in Icelandic banks. That's the annual Council Tax of 4,000 hard working Ipswich families.

UPDATE - FRIDAY 10TH : The country of Iceland is now for sale on ebay. Hopefully this link will work

Friday, 3 October 2008


The news is full of doom and gloom – with banks having to be rescued and shares plunging. However this week I’ve attended two interesting auctions and the results from these do show that some people certainly have money to invest. On Tuesday in Colchester four hand written letters from the late Diana, Princess of Wales, to her childhood nanny sold for nearly £25,000 and a three page letter written in 1937 by the Duchess of Windsor sold for over £13,000.

On Wednesday I went to the Spink auction in central London where a banknote sold for over £78,000. In a hushed room the bidding increased firstly in one thousand pound increments then in two thousand pound increments. The only other existing similar note had sold years ago for £8,000. Some other banknotes in the auction went for nearly £45,000, for £35,000 and £27,000 to mention just three more examples (all these prices include buyer’s premium and VAT). Several expensive ones sold to a gentleman sitting directly behind me which was a little disconcerting as the auctioneer appeared to be looking directly at me as he took the bids. So I was sitting there wondering whether I had blinked or rubbed my nose!

Of equal interest (well to me at least, as Mrs Troy yawns) was the price realised on Tuesday in Colchester for some run-of-the-mill gold Sovereigns. These had been estimated at £92 - £115 (including buyer’s premium). As you probably know (?) each sovereign contains 0.2354 troy ounces of gold – so their intrinsic value at that date was about £115. They sold for an average of £156 with the cheapest at £138! Dealers this week were offering £110 to buy sovereigns so several bidders were happy to pay well over the odds for gold. (If you do want to buy gold for a sensible price and which is safely kept in a secure vault I recommend the website).

Finally, I read today that 100oz pure silver (99.9%) bars are selling on eBay (US) for in excess of $1,500 whilst the “market” price for silver is under $12 an ounce. More than a 25% premium is being paid for just a lump of the metal (no craftwork or aesthetic content).

So people in these times of crisis are putting their wealth into alternative investments and real money (gold and silver – not government issued promises) whilst others struggle to pay their utility bills or to stave off repossession of their homes – it’s a strange old world! What do you think?

Tuesday, 23 September 2008


There is a vote this Thursday in the European Parliament that seeks to regulate blogs and stop people blogging, like Troy, anonymously. Typically, it a centre-left politician who wants to interfere. They can’t abide the idea that people want to criticise the European integration movement. A British Conservative MEP rejects such regulation and points out that blogs have become the life blood of a vibrant democracy.

Apparently a European Commission report found that the EU was losing the battle for hearts and minds online. Big Brother is not happy! You MUST learn to love Big Brother! Expressing thoughts of your own, especially anonymously, is dangerous.

Troy supported the “Common Market” when it was put to the vote all those years ago. However I am vehemently opposed to the concept of a European Union run on continental socialist ideology by primarily unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats spending unaudited billions on their pet integration projects.

Troy fears he may have to end his days as a geriatric freedom fighter in the English Independence Army. Let’s hope it doesn’t have to come to that and instead I can enjoy my old age on the beach, in a deckchair, with a good book and my Daily Telegraph!

Friday, 19 September 2008


Gordon Brown calculator

I hope you enjoy playing this Gordon Brown Tax Calculator which comes from The Tax Payers' Alliance. I would also recommend their blog - a link to them is shown on right hand side of my blog.

I couldn't get the image above to quite fit my blog. It is too large - a bit like Gordon's public sector!

Although I loathe Gordon Brown intensely I do sincerely hope he is still the leader of the Labour Party at the time of the next General Election.

Monday, 15 September 2008


Today is turning out to be “One Of Those Days”. They are so, SO frustrating. The problem started at about 8am but I had to take Troy Junior to school so I left home just hoping for the best. I collected my newspaper from the village store and walked back home in the sunshine. How was the morning going to turn out? A quick nervous look on my return home confirmed the worse!

I phoned my wife at her office – “We’ve got a complete disaster here at home”

“What’s the matter, what’s happened?” she responded, full of concern.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do – I can’t seem to fix it”

“Tell me what’s wrong!” she demanded.

I couldn’t hold back, I had to give it to her straight - “The internet is down, it’s been down since 8am!”

East Anglian Troy is a man of habit. That habit is seriously tested when the internet is down. And today of all days; with Lehman Bros. going into bankruptcy protection and stockmarkets around the world going into freefall. It’s no time to be cut off from the information superhighway. Had I been a little calmer I suppose I could have looked on Teletext, but that now seems so 20th Century.

I fiddled around rebooting the BT Hub – nothing. I unplugged the mains lead – nothing. I just need that one particular light to be green – it isn’t. It’s completely ungreen.

Then it turned green. I hurried off an e-mail to Mrs Troy at her office. Subject heading – “Life Just Got Better”. She should be the first to know I’m back online. It’s sent, it went!.

Then that truly awful click sound – and all the lights are flashing on the BT Hub, and then they all go out. Spoke too soon. Yes, it is going to be “One Of Those Days”. I left my study, went over to the Hi-Fi and put on Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” CD, closed my eyes and enjoyed her melodic voice (Mrs Troy calls it a screech). Several times I checked back into my study – no internet – so I rebooted or unplugged/replugged the box. Quickly between each CD track.

The relevant light finally came back on. I’m no longer alone – I’m reconnected. Quick check on my e-mails. Mrs Troy has replied to mine. It reads:-

“Oh thank God for that. I was very close to calling 999, but wasn't sure whether to ask for an ambulance for you...or the police to investigate the matter!”

And so, dear readers and fellow bloggers, it seems I must turn to you for a little sympathy…….

Friday, 12 September 2008


Mrs Troy is spitting blood. It appears that some of you may have mistaken her e-mail (which I reproduced in my last blog) which read “You don't fancy doing some ironing instead of pissing around with blogs all day!!!!!” as suggesting that I'm the one who does the ironing in the Troy household. In all my life since I’ve lived with Mrs Troy I think I’ve only ironed three shirts and one pair of trousers. In fact every time I do get the iron out I find it is a different and more complicated model to the one I used previously and I don’t know how to use it! So that must be about once ever six or seven years at best (or worse, depending on your viewpoint).

In a feeble attempt to redeem myself with my female readers I should like to point out that I do enjoy vacuum cleaning. I do the vacuum cleaning in the Troy household. Me and my Dyson are like Fred and Ginger. We waltz around our rooms in perfect harmony. (Just to avoid any more confusion – Fred and Ginger have never waltzed around our rooms – it’s just either a metaphor or simile, don’t ask me which). I also wash up our breakfast items after Mrs Troy has gone to work and walk Troy Junior to school.

After all that excitement I then just like to spend a few minutes at my computer screen to catch up on the world events, see how my investments are performing (usually woefully) and explore the “wonderful world of blogland”. And surely I’m allowed a few minutes to compose witty, winning captions for DJ’s Wordless Wednesdays? Mrs Troy should be proud to be living with a two-times award winner. I mean when was the last time Hugh Grant or Pierce Brosnan (her heartthrobs) got such an award?

And do WE seriously think THEY do the ironing in the Grant and Brosnan households?????????

Sunday, 7 September 2008


Over the last few weeks my eyes have been opened to a wonderful world out there in “blogland”. I’m indebted to my good friend, John Woodman of “Thoughts from the North” for introducing me to the concept of blogging. His earlier blog, charting his attempts to roll back the yellow peril in Northumberland, inspired me to start up my own blog. However my real joy has been in meandering from blog to blog and discovering a whole new world out there.

In the space of a few weeks I’ve learnt about :-

- Falling off ladders and wind farms
- Kissograms, Morris dancing and handbag contents
- Blackberry jamming and the challenge of writing photo captions
- Spirits visiting a Northumberland farmhouse
- Learning Latin at home
- Mothers’ thoughts about children returning to school
- Front doors and heroic levels of volunteering
- A love letter from a secret French admirer
- Elliot Cowan being divine (from a female perspective)
- States of Emergencies in Thailand
- Home selling adventures in France
- Demolishing cooling towers
- Sandcastles on the Yorkshire moors

Hopefully you’ll recognise yourselves somewhere among that list. I think I've got most of your links shown on my sidebar. Thanks for being out there, and for being both entertaining and educational. And thanks to everyone who has dropped by here and left comments – it is nice to know some people are out there and finding my musings are of interest. I hope you’ll keep returning.

One thing that has struck me – just an observation not a scientific study – is that the ratio of female bloggers to male bloggers out there in “blogland” seems to be about 7 : 1. I’m wondering why that is? Mrs Troy, who works part-time, reckons it is because so many women are at home all day and have time on their hands!! She even sent me an e-mail from her office last Thursday - quote “You don't fancy doing some ironing instead of pissing around with blogs all day!!!!!” What do you ladies (and gentlemen) think about Mrs Troy’s point of view?

Friday, 5 September 2008


I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has becoming heartily sick of the extensive BBC coverage of the 2008 US Presidential campaign. This was especially so during the earlier part of the year with the coverage of the race to the Democratic nomination between Clinton and Obama. There seemed to be some frankly obnoxious hero-worshipping by the BBC of the “first black candidate for the White House”. Whoever becomes the leader of the USA is, of course, an important matter for us here in the UK but the contest could have been covered as a regular but minor item on the news rather than taking up the first ten minutes of the programme virtually every evening.

However I must make one exception to that general observation. This week “A STAR IS BORN”. In the space of less than one week I’ve become a top fan of Sarah Palin. I think there is a very good chance in 2012 that she will become the first female President of the USA. Full marks to McCain for plucking this woman seemingly out of obscurity and having the guts and foresight to choose her as his running mate.

The similarities with Margaret Thatcher are many. In her speech on Wednesday, and in her general demeanour, she comes over as warm and genuine. Compared to that bitter old harpy Hillary, Sarah is a breath of fresh air. As with Mrs.T., the left-leaning liberal media are sticking the knife in and deriding Sarah Palin’s small town, provincial background. As with Mrs.T., Sarah is obviously no shrinking violet but rather she is a woman of strong convictions and an articulate, clever fighter for the things she believes in. As with Mrs.T., she will be an intensely partisan figure, loved and hated in equally measure depending on where you stand on the political spectrum. However, like Mrs.T., I think Sarah Palin will connect with “the common voter”. They will regard her as someone like them, someone who understands the everyday ordinary problems that real people face. And understanding them in ways that the average affluent, left-wing, patronising politician just doesn’t.

So “Rock On Sarah”. Now the race to the White House is very open. If her presence on the Republican ticket isn’t enough to get McCain elected in 2008 then I’m convinced she will be odds-on favourite to get there herself in 2012. If I was American, she’d have my vote.

Monday, 18 August 2008


During the build-up to the Olympics, East Anglian Troy must confess that thoughts of the event weren’t firing his imagination. However I decided to watch the opening ceremony just out of curiosity (mainly to see how high the bar was being set for London) and I was VERY impressed. It was never my intention though to get over excited about any particular event.

My attitude has certainly changed over the last few days! Can you believe Team GB being THIRD in the medals table (at the time of writing at least*)? There have certainly been some heroic performances. I knew we were strong in sailing and cycling but Rebecca Adlington’s Gold medal in the 400m swimming seemed to come out of nowhere. It was heart warming to see her joy at winning and to hear the interviews with both her and her family who were watching back home. Then to find out that the 800m was actually her real forte wetted the appetite for weekend. I can’t actually imagine swimming 800m against the clock – I’m a weak swimmer (like to keep within my depth) and at the end of one length of the pool (a constant 1.2m deep at the gym) I need to stop for a breather. “Becks” can certainly swim – we have a new national hero in the “Mansfield Mermaid”. Back in the Spring it seemed a no-brainer that Lewis Hamilton would win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year – but the odds now must be on Rebecca, and quite rightly.

I can remember back in the late 60’s and the ‘70s when we were pleased to see GB achieving a single Gold at the Games. How times have changed. A neglected hero here is Sir John Major – it’s lottery money from the National Lottery which he set up that has made this great improvement possible. Someone on the radio was complaining about the money spent on the Olympics. I understand where they are coming from, but the Olympics will inspire millions around the world – to take up swimming, sailing, rowing, riding or even the “hop, skip and jump”. So let’s celebrate something positive. Even if not a penny was spent on the Olympics we’d still have to suffer news of Saddam, Mugabe, Putin, Bin Ladin and our local villain, Gordon Brown.

* we finished fourth overall - a brilliant result

Sunday, 17 August 2008


The Troy family have recently experienced very contrasting levels of service whilst eating out in English pubs.

Two weeks ago (Friday 1st) we were enjoying a week’s break down on the south coast and had just driven down that day from Suffolk to our rented holiday home in Rye Harbour, East Sussex. Having settled into our cosy and comfortable cottage we went out for an early evening walk and to have supper in the local hostelry. The pub sign said “Meals 7pm to 9.30pm” so as it was about 6.45pm we had an enjoyable walk by the harbour in the fresh air to build up our appetites. We then entered the WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR pub, chose one of several empty tables, picked up the menus, read through the many Specials written in chalk on a blackboard and made our choice. Mrs Troy went to the bar to order. “The food will be about half an hour, is that alright?” asked the barman. Mrs Troy looked at me and I nodded – we were in no rush, we were on holiday. The handwritten receipt had 7.20[pm] written in the bottom right hand corner. We had chosen simple fare – fish & chips; gammon ham, egg and chips; and for Troy Junior, chicken nuggets and chips. About 8pm the first sight of food arrived, but for another table – we’ll assume ours is next. At 8.10pm (after 50 minutes of waiting) I went to the bar for “a progress report on our order”. The barman checked in the kitchen then mouthed to me “about 5 minutes”. Good, we were getting peckish and Troy Junior normally goes to bed about 8pm. By 8.25pm with Troy Junior visibly wilting, Mrs Troy was getting annoyed when more food appeared which wasn’t ours. Meanwhile we had seen someone sitting at the bar smoking, with the smoke drifting our way – completely against the law! She went to the bar. “It’s been over an hour – where’s our food!”. The barman called the chef. Mrs Troy complained about the wait. “Have you ever worked in a kitchen?” asked the chef. “You can have it now but it will be raw” he kindly offered. If we hadn’t paid upfront we would have left. At 8.32pm (72 minutes after ordering) the food arrived. It tasted excellent and I wolfed mine down leaving a completely clean plate. Mrs Troy picked at hers because she was by then “passed the hunger stage”. Troy Junior was very sleepy but ate most of his.

And here is the contrast. This Saturday (16th) we went to our local village pub – THE CROWN at Claydon, Suffolk. It’s a very busy pub, especially on a weekend evening with 20+ tables of which 2 were vacant. At the bar I ordered – Lasagne, Mini Grill (chops, liver, sausage, chips and peas) and for Troy Junior a hot dog, mash and beans. The Troy family eat simply when out! The order was timed on the Visa receipt as 19.04 (7.04pm). At 7.19pm all three dishes arrived. This, in a crowded pub with many, many families eating at the same time. Delicious food – we eat there once or twice a month and know we’ll get good food, served quickly and very reasonably priced [see August 1st posting for significance of the last criteria].

In summary – WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR pub at Rye Harbour took 72 minutes to serve three simple main courses. Very rude service, price £22+ including drinks. THE CROWN at Claydon took 15 minutes to serve three simple main courses. Polite prompt service, price £18.62 including drinks. WHAT A CONTRAST!

Have you had any similar experiences in contrasting service levels?

Friday, 1 August 2008


August 1st is Yorkshire Day. Today all Yorkshire people celebrate the historic county of Yorkshire recognising it as it was prior to the boundary re-organisation of 1974. East Anglian Troy is a born and bred Yorkshireman and proud of it! You can take the man out of Yorkshire but you can't take the Yorkshire out of the man.

I was born in Otley and spent the first four years of my life in the village of Calverley. Then we moved as a family to Harrogate - "the posh end of Yorkshire" - where I spent the rest of my childhood. After a three year spell at the University of Nottingham I returned to live and work in the City of Bradford where my family roots go back several generations. In 1983 I moved to work in Coventry for a short while (no, I wasn't sent there!) and then spent the bulk of my career working in London and living in Hertfordshire.

In 2006 I retired to Suffolk. Mrs Troy wouldn't let me move back to Yorkshire as she prefers the warmer weather here in the South East of England. However Suffolk has proved to be an wonderful compromise. Like Yorkshire it is a mainly rural county with some beautiful countryside and tranquil coastline. We settled in quickly, I bought my season ticket to Ipswich Town FC and feel very much at home here. We have found the people, like in Yorkshire, to be open and friendly. However on the 1st August a Yorkshireman's thoughts return to home and to toast the historic county of Yorkshire.

Sunday, 20 July 2008


I’ve been watching the progress made in restoring to flight the Avro Vulcan XH558. At times the project came close to failing but with Lottery grant aid, extensive donations plus philanthropic assistance from Sir Jack Hayward the old V bomber finally took to the air again in 2007 and now has its CAA flight approval and public display authority.

East Anglian Troy remembers as a boy watching these loud but graceful machines flying over the Yorkshire coast. At air displays they also stole the show with their impressive displays. Most famously, prior to its retirement two Vulcans took part in the 8,000 mile bombing raid on Port Stanley airfield in the Falklands War – at that time a record distance for a bombing raid. So I was keen for Troy Junior (aged 7) to have a similar experience (to see the Vulcan in flight, not to bomb Stanley).

So armed with advanced tickets, Mrs Troy, Troy Junior and myself headed off to Farnborough Airshow yesterday. From the traffic queues it seems the rest of Britain had the same idea. Having finally got into the show Troy Junior seemed well impressed with the Red Arrows and the fast jets (Typhoon, F-16, F-18) as well as with the pilot who threw the giant Airbus A380 around the sky (memo to self – don’t fly with that pilot on holiday). Just after 3pm the Vulcan XH558 taxied onto the runway. It very quickly got airbourne – they obviously didn’t restore many of its 1,000lb bombs with it – and it was great to see that familiar delta shape in the sky again after all these years. Yet Troy Junior didn’t seem over impressed. The pilot handled it very gently, it did a couple of flypasts then landed again.

My lasting memory of past Vulcan air displays was the fast low level flypast then a near vertical climb at full throttle at the end of the display area – the whole ground would shake, the noise was ear-shattering – you really felt the immense power of the plane. The RAF certainly knew how to burn fuel – a delta shape with a carbon footprint to match.

So in some ways yesterday was an anti-climax. However the “Vulcan To The Sky” people must be applauded for the way they succeeded against the odds in restoring Vulcan XH558 to flight. And a great use of Lottery money in preserving an important part of Britain’s flying heritage (our main nuclear deterrent prior to Polaris).

Wednesday, 16 July 2008


East Anglian Troy is feeling guilty. Could it be that Gordon Brown saw my picture of Southwold (see “Coastal Suffolk” photo on this blog) and thought “we must go there for our Summer Hols”? Perhaps Gordon doesn’t read this blog. I hope that’s the case as I would hate to be the cause that lumbered the good folk of Southwold with our Prime Minister.

Gordon will have the chance to see a beautiful part of our country and the Brown family should have a wonderful, enjoyable holiday. However I’m wondering whether Southwold is a good choice for Gordon to see the state of the country following the 11 years of Labour mismanagement.

I think Gordon should have taken the family for a holiday in Glasgow East. Here is a constituency that has been solidly Labour for many many years. It is in places such as
Glasgow East that the true effects of Labour ideology can be most clearly seen. Here has been lavished loads of public spending, enhanced by the Barnett formula which favours Scotland over the English. Here the life expectancy is lower than in Iraq. Here, 50% of the population is unemployed and have no qualifications. Here the welfare state has removed the incentive to work. Labour has enjoyed a stranglehold in the local politics for many decades and this constituency epitomises how the whole country would look if the UK didn’t have the collective sense to regularly return Conservative administrations to power to undo the chaos and mismanagement of the economy by every Labour Government since the 1940’s. Gordon could proudly tell his children that all the country could have looked like Glasgow East if only Labour could have emulated Mugabe‘s approach to elections and clung onto power since the 1970’s.

Perhaps Gordon is waiting until his children are older to show them the Facts of Labour Life. Hopefully by then, Scotland will be an independent nation and England can be ruled by the party to which it gave the most votes in the last General Election. It is a great disappointment to me that the Conservatives cling to the Union when the people of Scotland and Wales clearly believe in a collective ideology quite alien to conservative England.

Friday, 13 June 2008


If I was looking for inspiration well this has certainly been an eventful news week. So where to begin? I think the best news has to be the Irish No vote. Only 0.6% of the entire electorate of the European Evil Empire has been given the opportunity to vote on the Lisbon Treaty. But didn't they do well! And that No vote was achieved with all the main Irish political establishment going for a Yes vote. I could never have imagined twenty years ago that I'd be on the same side as Sinn Fein!
I'm proud to say that I was one of the several thousand people who protested outside the House of Parliament on 27th February with a "Where's Our Referendum" placard. It was the first time I've protested outside Parliament although I had previously taken part in the march through Central London against the Hunting Ban. The interesting thing in both those protests were what thoroughly decent people were there. Having seen the normal rag-bag collection that usually grace political protests (remember for example the Poll Tax riots) it was nice instead to see the "silent" majority making a protest. In both cases I wanted to have a souvenir of the day - for the Hunting Ban protest I got a discreet lapel badge but with the Referendum protest the small sticky badges they handed out almost immediately came unstuck. So instead I decide to take home the placard I'd been given. That involved carrying a two foot red placard on a six foot long wooden stick on first the District Line tube and then on the overground railway back to Suffolk. I tried, and I think succeeded, in looking quite nonchalant whilst carrying a bright red "Where's Our Referndum" placard all the way home. No one commented, which in some ways was a shame but in most ways was a great relief!
So what next for the Lisbon Treaty? It ssems that the unelected elite that run the EUSSR are already moving on with their implimentation with complete disregard for the Irish plebiscite. But then that is how they regard the electorate - as plebs. Creating their European Evil Empire is far too complicated a project to let the common people get involved.
Lots of other interesting things happened this week. I should have started this blogging business earlier - soon I could be detained for 42 days without trial for making adverse comments about Gordon and ZaNu Labour. But I'll leave further comments for later posts.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008


I've enjoyed reading other people's blogs so now I've decided to start my own. I've changed my name - I was calling myself "East Anglian Tory" but after I posted a comment on Crystal Jigsaw's blog someone later referred to me as "East Anglian Troy". I liked that. I want to make some political comments along the way but also want to comment on life and its foibles in general. So its nice to be Troy as well as a tory.

So I've got to think of something to say that is interesting and witty. I seem to have suddenly got writer's block so I'll give it a few days (or hopefully sooner) until inspiration takes over and the fingers dart swiftly and usefully across the keyboard - fingers crossed! Well obviously not crossed whilst I'm typing.