Everything-as-a-service: Support and supplier management in XaaS

Adrian Hollister, Digital Transformation, August 2015

By now it should be clear that buying IT the old way has long gone:

tin + software + installation + maintenance + staff + training + management + support tools = expensive + slow + poor value

Cloud has been coming for some time, but it’s the everything as-a-service (XaaS) element of Cloud computing that is so compelling.  Removing the need for expensive and all consuming IT departments, thinning them down to an intelligent customer layer.

So what does that mean in practice?

Part 3 – Moving from legacy support to supplier management

Hardware and software become largely irrelevant as the key question becomes, “does this service meet the business need?”  The burden of complex supporting systems is moved to 3rd parties as part of the service they provide.  Help desk/technical support for the product also moves to the 3rd party.


With XaaS IT, ‘service management’ becomes a much less complex place to be. IT must move to act as the intermediary between the customer and the suppliers.

  • Manage multiple small suppliers and contracts
  • Maintain compliance and regulatory integrity of the IT service
  • Be trusted by the business, the IT team and the supplier community

Traditional IT teams must change.  They must transition from ‘service management’ to become ‘supplier management’, they must move away from their focus on technology to contract compliance and supplier relationships.

Example of the differences

Traditionalist IT people struggle to understand this concept, so let’s kick off with an example from a traditional service management function:

  • Help desk, call handling and 1st line support
    • Purchased for millions and supported by legions of staff.  Vast hidden quantities of money and effort are poured into bespoke and unique help desk systems.   All this for those ‘important’ help desk stats.
    • IT seems unable to work without its help desk and the unfathomable way people are expected to interact with it.
  • System monitoring
    • Another area tainted by the bespoke.
    • Multiple monitoring systems, plugged into master monitoring systems reporting to other monitoring systems.
    • Usually visually impressive, the stats and thresholds used are tweaked by IT who spend endless hours perfecting the meaning of red, green and amber.
  • Configuration management
    • Caught in a legacy trap, where IT consider people as a liability and risk.
    • People often go out of their way to remove monitoring, auditing software from their devices due to privacy concerns or because the tools stop people working effectively.

Now, compare that to the XaaS world:

  • Contracts include support and maintenance
    • Point services and solutions will include the whole life cost including the cost of support and maintenance
  • Pay by results
    • 3rd parties paid on results.  The business should not select based on the background technology.  The supplier should be chosen on merit and ability to meet the business need – technology is their problem.
    • Results = what your business values
    • Little point defining metrics that are irrelevant, unachievable or introduce undesirable behaviours.
  • Contracts designed to be flexible
    • Scale up and down; match peek times of demand, reduce at lower times of demand.
    • Agile.  Stick to 2 + 2 years.
  • Clear costs, known risk

XaaS Org Chart

The often traditionally bloated supplier management function does not even appear in the everything-as-a-service XaaS IT org chart.

org chat for service led it

Clearly this is a idealistic interpretation, as the need for help desk type services still exists, but they are provisioned by 3rd party experts and work for the supplier management function.

Is Xaas Outsourcing?

Outsourcing has sat in this territory for quite some time.  But the aims and goals of outsourcing are different to those of XaaS.  You can see my thoughts on the difference here.  Suffice to say, XaaS is surgical in nature, outsourcing is, by comparison, a shotgun approach.

It is likely that outsourcing is chosen by default as it resolves, in one hit, many of the problems experienced by poorly performing IT teams.  This though is created by an accidental slight of hand from IT:

IT support tend to work under the illusion that their IT service is unique and requires unique systems for support.  They talk about, document and create bespoke systems to maintain the mystery (their job and role).  This naivety helps to perpetuate the deception that IT is complex, impenetrable and poor value.

The more difficult the problem the more likely outsourcing is used to solve it; the more likely outsourcing is the more complex and bespoke IT make their systems; it’s a vicious circle that only culture can change.

There are plenty of reasons to keep internal teams, not least for the latent organisational knowledge; but often poor or out-of-date IT management skills push outsourcing as a quick fix.

Cultural change

One core aim of this approach is to fix the overly bureaucratic systems installed by management to create statistics, measurements, and controls.  The culture created by these systems often pushes the business to question why ‘help’ is included in ‘help desk’ and pushes IT staff to close calls as quickly as possible.

There is no need to create an IT team that everyone hates.  It is possible to design a service that meets the needs of the business in an affordable and sustainable way.

The goals of supplier management in XaaS

So you’ve decided the everything-as-a-service XaaS is the way to go, how do you convince your existing service management staff that supplier management is the way to go?

That’s not an easy one.  Those that embrace change are likely to be evangelised by the opportunities presented; others will struggle and may need to stay in their comfort zone through TUPE to 3rd parties.  TUPE may sound cold, but in the surgical world of XaaS IT, people can be moved into organisations that best fit their skills or ambitions.  This is no outsource shotgun.

Something you should do for every part of your organisation is to set key goals.  These should compliment and reinforce your vision for your IT organisation and should help people understand your intent and strategy.

Top 5 goals for XaaS supplier management:

  • Enable the digital workplace
  • Engage with customers, listen and take ownership
  • Form a sustainable relationship with the suppliers
  • Provide feedback to suppliers and customers
  • Create a sustainable and open financial model for IT services

Take note of the keywords here:

  • Ownership: alone taking ownership will increase the positive perception of IT.  It will create a shared sense of purpose, a shared need and a shared driver to help the business.
  • Sustainable: emphasises the need for practical and maintainable relationships, finances and business services.  This reduces the knee jerk IT management style prevalent in some areas.


Key take away points

Whilst brief, the paper aims to discuss the theory of everything-as-a-service IT and it’s impact on a traditional service management function.  The proposed move away from service management will scare most IT traditionalists and excite the visionaries, so please take these few points with you:

  • Service management in its current format is not sustainable and requires significant revision
  • Move to engage, listen and take ownership
  • Form a sustainable working relationship between business, customers and 3rd parties
  • Create a culture of change, innovation and partnership


INDEX or go back to Part 2 – How to manage change


Plymouth University apprentice shortlisted for IT Apprentice of the Year award

Scott WalkerI’ve pushed the apprenticeship scheme at Plymouth University for some time and took on Scott Walker to work in my IT Architecture team.  A former car mechanic, Scott moved from Carlisle down to Plymouth.  For Scott to be short listed for IT Apprentice of the Year is great news!

  • Scott’s has created over £650,000 of potential savings for Plymouth University and averted £7million of potential risk
  • Scott excelled in driving forwards a city-wide project to connect 100 businesses to super-fast broadband in collaboration with Plymouth City Council
  • Completed 2 Year NVQ Level 3 in less than 1 year
  • Heading for a Distinction in BTEC

The recruitment process for is often tricky, but from the first moment that the panel met Scott, it was obvious that we’d found someone special…  his motivation, confidence and professionalism far exceed his years.

Over the past 18 months, we’ve seen Scott’s ability grow exponentially.  It will be a bittersweet day (for his colleagues) when Scott’s Apprenticeship is complete.

He is a trusted colleague and an inspirational person. I wish him every success for not only this but every venture that he undertakes in his career.  I have no doubt in his continued success.


Strategy & Architecture apprentice shortlisted for an award

Adrian Hollister, Head of Strategy and Architecture, Plymouth University

Congratulations to Scott Walker who has been has been shortlisted for IT Apprentice of the Year at the UK IT Industry Awards.

The UK IT Industry Awards 2015 benchmark outstanding performance throughout the UK computer industry and focus on the contribution of individuals, projects, organisations and technologies that have excelled in the use, development and deployment of IT in the past 12 months.

Being shortlisted for one of these prestigious awards from Computing and BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, is a major boost for Scott’s career prospects and the IT apprenticeship scheme.

Scott has to attend a Finalists Judging Day in Reading on 25 September and the winners will be announced at an awards dinner on 18 November.”


So congratulations Scott Walker and all fingers crossed for a win!  To find a little more from Scott himself, head on over to the Plymouth University Strategy and Architecture blog.

Everything-as-a-service XaaS vs Outsourcing

XaaS vs Outsourcing: It’s a theme brought up at alt-c this week and something that most people are confused about: Outsourcing and everything-as-a-service XaaS are not the same things.

They may be used to achieve the same results but when you compare the intent of each they clearly show their differences.


Whats the difference between XaaS and Outsourcing?

XaaS is granular, focused and can be applied surgically to key areas that need attention.  Outsourcing is expensive to negotiate and apply.  It takes time, introduces additional cost of purchase and sale and implies a reduction in flexibility – details are lost or hidden in contractural obligations, service level agreements, the transfer of assets, liabilities and risk.

  • Outsourcing tends to apply to larger elements of business.  Whole teams or departments moved.  The impact to IT itself is structurally significant.
  • XaaS tends to apply to surgical strikes.  Moving clearly defined elements to a 3rd party.  The impact to IT is small and can be managed over time.
Which is best? XaaS vs Outsourcing

That’s going to depend on your organisation, neither may be suitable.  To help you decide in the XaaS vs Outsourcing debate, think about the following Top 6 reasons…

Top 6 reasons to go XaaS
  • Focus on business need
  • Speed and Flexibility
  • Standardised, transparent pricing
  • Access to global high skill resource pools
  • Improvement in image
  • Increase in competitiveness
Top 6 reasons to Outsource
  • Pass risk/staff to 3rd party
  • Create a structured framework of IT services
  • Focus on core business
  • Long term stability
  • Access global high skill resource pools
  • Known cost framework


Find out more about Everything-as-a-service XaaS or look me up on LinkedIn.

£3K grant for high speed Business Broadband

If you have a business (even home based) you can get connection vouchers for up to £3,000 to cover the cost of installing high speed business broadband.  The voucher scheme can be used against a package from one of the registered suppliers in the area.

If I read it right, you can put multiple vouchers together from businesses on the same premises.  This could enable business parks or multi-occupancy offices the ability to collaborate on the cost of a much bigger internet pipe.

business broadband PCC logoThere is a page for Plymouth with the specialist providers listed.

Seems to be a rather overlooked opportunity for business to make the most of some free money to give them high speed business broadband.  So, make the most of it now and apply as soon as you can!


Everything-as-a-service: How do you manage change in XaaS?

Practical theories for using everything-as-a-service XaaS

Adrian Hollister, Digital Transformation, August 2015

By now it should be clear that buying IT the old way has long gone:

tin + software + installation + maintenance + staff + training + management + support tools = expensive + slow + poor value

Cloud has been coming for some time, but it’s the everything as-a-service (XaaS) element of Cloud computing that is so compelling.  Removing the need for expensive and all consuming IT departments, thinning them down to an intelligent customer layer.

So what does that mean in practice?

change process

Part 2 – How to manage change in XaaS

General change and projects need to be self funded.  I’m going to say that again – they need to be self funded.  The cost of IT should be the cost of the provision of the known service.  The unknown cost of change is given to the business to empower them to choose the priorities and provide the flexibility to select services not provided by IT.

IT should not be scaled to provide endless change and project support, but should be scaled to be the technical conscience of the business: facilitating change, translating business need to technical deliverables, engaging 3rd parties and providing an oversight into the IT elements of change.

Think SME not 3rd Party

Engaging with a 3rd party for delivery does not force you down the consultancy route.  Think of the SME approach – dynamic, agile, best of breed skills to best of breed solutions. 

Suppliers will thrive in this environment if they are allowed to part of the team and part of the journey.  The relationship with suppliers must be sustainable and based on trust between both parties.  Suppliers must be able to make a viable and sustainable profit and should run open book integrated into the IT accounts.

Remember: there is little point engaging with a supplier based on the lowest possible cost.   Underbidding suppliers run the risk of attempting to make up the money with change control, delivering a valueless service, or withdrawing from the contract.

It may even be viable to export any existing delivery team via special purpose vehicle (SPV) to allow them to work more dynamically, realistically with efficiency and energy.

Moving to an SPV could also be a quick enterprise that moves money around the balance sheet and reduces the headcount numbers.   An outsource may also achieve the same result, but costs will need to be carefully controlled and understood – change is often used as a source of profit in such enterprises.

Move away from bespoke code

Poorly executed Agile and similar methodologies often create swathes of poorly documented bespoke code.  With projects being self funding the sustainability of the solution must include on-going run costs.  Bespoke may be cheap to write, but it’s not cheap to maintain or support.

In the SPV model, the SPV is incentivised to pursue efficient, sustainable delivery models by owning the maintenance of the code and solutions.  Inefficient, undocumented, or poorly designed solutions will be financially and materially expensive to support and maintain.  The SPV will quickly have to become more efficient or loose contracts to 3rd parties.

The back catalogue of legacy and bespoke code created using agile or similar methodologies is likely to follow this SPV.  A contract for maintenance and support must be provided and at a fixed, but sustainable cost.  The risk owned by the SPV with clear incentive to reduce and remove the costly bespoke code elements.

Compensations drives behaviour

The move to SPV or outsource must have effective incentives for the staff and SPV.  The business may need consistency for a number of years after the structural change or the business may require immediate cost savings, either way, the team moved into the SPV must be motivated to achieve these goals.  The SPV route is a great way to move constrained exec’s out of the core and give them the flexibility to excel as a commercially driven arms length body. 

What about general day-to-day change?

It would be fair to assume that in the everything-as-a-service model there is strong reliance upon the need for the contracts with 3rd parties to include the cost of maintenance and support change.  These elements are needed to ensure that services are compliant with regulatory and security standards and to ensure that services can continue to interoperate.

The contractual obligations of 3rd parties should also be extended to allow the IT team to plan and organise change between the various solutions and 3rd parties.  This is standard IT practice, but here the intelligent customer becomes more relevant.  It requires a strong understanding of enterprise architecture, governance, the contractual commitments and a timetable of key business events and priorities.

Remember that purchasing on cost alone will fail in this model.  Whilst this is not unique to this model, purchases do need to be made on value to the business and support the everything-as-a-service model.  Excellence is required in supplier and contract life cycle.

Allow the business to change direction

Once in a while the business will need to change direction.  To scale up or down.  To create a new branch or brand; or to remove a few.  IT should not constrain the business from doing what it needs to do.  The contracts put in place with 3rd parties should be designed to allow the business high flexibility.  

Services procured could be based on metrics key to the business:  the number of products, staff or turnover.  This variation of the standard usage model often applied by suppliers may require significant negotiation and contractual skills.  Not all 3rd parties will be keen to work differently, so careful and pragmatic selection is required. 

Key take away points

Change is embraced as part of the everything-as-a-service IT model through the use of 3rd parties that are incentivised to be more performant, flexible and cost efficient. 

How to manage change in XaaS IT:

  • Cost of change is given to the business to empower them to set priorities
  • IT must not constrain the business from doing what it needs to do
  • Use dynamic and agile 3rd parties for delivery
  • Remove bespoke code by accounting for whole life cost of services


There is an opportunity to move existing delivery teams into a special purpose vehicle (SPV):

  • Allow radical reduction in delivery headcount
  • Allow constrained exec’s to flex their wings
  • Facilitate cost reduction through the removal of bespoke code
  • Facilitate competition with 3rd parties


Read the next article Part 3 – Moving from legacy support to supplier management go to the  INDEX or go back to Part 1 – Impact on the IT organisation

Skinny service provision is the way forward: theories about the everything-as-a-service model

Practical theories for using everything-as-a-service XaaS

Adrian Hollister, Digital Transformation, August 2015

By now it should be clear that buying IT the old way has long gone:

tin + software + installation + maintenance + staff + training + management + support tools = expensive + slow + poor value

Cloud has been coming for some time, but it’s the everything as-a-service (XaaS) element of Cloud computing that is so compelling.  Removing the need for expensive and all consuming IT departments, thinning them down to an intelligent customer layer.

So what does that mean in practice?


Part 1 – Impact on the IT organisation

As cloud based services are being adopted the approach and model of the IT department needs to change.  Services move from local data centres to the cloud, storage moves to the cloud, telephone to the cloud, even network controllers and authentication are moving to the cloud.  Office365, Skype, BYOD (bring your own device), Dropbox, etc. That natural convergence of IT services doesn’t leave a lot for IT does it?

There is plenty of value IT can still deliver, just in a different way.  No longer about flashing lights, complex help desk systems, and the mysteries of poorly documented services; the IT team can now focus on delivering real business value.

But IT has seen a number of organisational models already in widespread use today, so let’s do a brief comparison:

  • Centralised IT.  The most commonly used model.  Line of business are beholden to a CIO who controls the pace and priority of change.  Attempting to be a compromise and usually perceived to be driven by cost and technology not business value.
  • Decentralised IT.  Usually with this type of model, each line of business has their own IT Director.  Priorities are set at board meetings controlled by the line of business (LOB) and facilitated by the CEO.  Multiple IT teams, development teams, help desks and support models.
  • Federated IT.  IT services are owned by a number of parties and the LOB may choose not to use the central IT service.   It is quite common to see this after a merger or change and is usually short lived.  Complex arrangements of interlinked services, support and development teams.
  • Service led IT.  A core set of IT services are provided from the centre but are provisioned by 3rd party.  CIO focus is shifted to adding value to the business, away from commodity IT provision.  Move from developing code to buying services.  This is the core to everything-as-a-service (XaaS) led IT departments.

The service led model is a variation of the ‘intelligent customer’ approach taken when business move towards a heavily outsourced model.  They key variation is that contracts in the service led IT model are numerous, short and with pinpoint focus.  Creating the opportunity for numbers of smaller, specialised and high value businesses to apply.

This creates a level of competition and introduces flexibility to end failing contacts early and pursue new ideas when the business needs change.  This also shifts the work that the IT department needs to do, from a hardware and bespoke solution focus, to one of managing their customer and their suppliers.  In this approach, the organisational model looses ‘IT support’ but gains ‘supplier management’.

Being commodity, the help desk also goes, replaced from a specialist supplier; and perhaps this commodity element is the big differentiator.  Anything that is not a core function of the business and is readily available to procure from a 3rd party should be considered commodity IT and provisioned by expert 3rd parties.

The delivery function also losses out.  Without the need for vast quantities of bespoke code the delivery teams can be paired down to a core set of PM, Architects and developers for legacy code and integration maintenance.   It’s important to note that all change in this model has to be self funding.

Example everything-as-a-service XaaS org chart

org chat for service led it

Change is not quite so difficult with as-a-service

Any new model or approach is going to be difficult: there must be a clear strategy for IT.  Not only a sense of what is needed today, but also tomorrow; and that strategy must be understood and agreed with the business.  The change however, can be quicker than a re-organisation with staff being redeployed in new roles or moved (TUPE) over to suppliers.  As such the impact on the organisation and staff will be low compared to traditional reorganisation methods.

The financial considerations will also be different to a traditional reorganisation.  Moving head count into supplier contracts will reflect good on in-year savings and savings may be had by purchasing more efficient services, returning floor space and reducing risk.  Costs are also likely to be moved towards a standardised monthly fee, giving the business good visibility of often hidden IT costs.  Finance will thank you for being able to plan clearly and provide consistent and open costings.

The approach to contracts needs to change.  By using short 2 year or 2+2 contracts the business can choose to change provider.  This will help the agility of IT provision to meet the changing needs of the business.  Some may be tempted by cheaper longer term contracts and for some core services this may be appropriate, but it will limited your ability to grow and shrink to business demands.

There is a significant change in culture, from employment of vast teams of developers, support, help desk and technical specialists; the IT function needs to move to professional supplier and contracts managers and experts within EA, Security, BA and relationship management; and more importantly, projects and business change must be self funding.

By moving to a self funding business change programme, IT wont change things for IT’s sake.

IT for IT’s sake

It’s the bane of any business – IT doing the best thing for IT.  Techies wrapped up in their technology, their brand or the latest toys.  There is a place for this, but not in the provision of core IT services.

A pragmatic as-a-service model will force IT to move away from looking at technologies and brands and force them to think about what services can be used to meet the business need.  It will force a move away from bespoke development to commercial off-the-shelf software and services (COTS).

  • COTS – remove the need for developers to create endless unsupportable bespoke code.  There are specialist applications and services that are likely to meet the majority of the business need.  Start here and be flexible with expectations.
  • Software as-a-service (SaaS) – remove the need to worry about the platform and the supported software layer.  Just get up and running with the service provided.  Flex to need.
  • Platform/Infrastructure as-a-service (PaaS/IaaS) – remove the need for people to touch or play with hardware, brands, upgrades.  Why do this in house, when you could be using industry experts who do this day in and day out.

It will be a substantial shock to the IT traditionalists.  By taking a step away from the coal face of technology provision IT can work closer to the business; for the business; delivering real business value.

The move towards Cloud and as-a-service is inevitable.  Will IT be able to keep up with the pace of change?


Key take away points

This is a big subject area that I’ve condensed into a couple of pages, but even if you do not have time to go through the text, here are my key take away points:


The value of everything-as-a-service (XaaS) led IT

  • Vastly reduced in-house IT team – keep just the experts
  • Vastly reduced in-house IT footprint – services in the cloud only small on-site d/c
  • Focus on relationships with the business – IT only exists to support the business
  • Clearly accountable IT costs – no hiding project, development and support costs


5 core rules of everything-as-a-service (XaaS) led IT

  • Focus on being the intelligent customer
  • Drive innovation and business value
  • Commodity services should be provisioned by a 3rd party in the Cloud
  • Restructure the organisation to focus on business value
  • Document, plan ahead and agree your strategy


Read more:  Part 2 – How do you manage change in an XaaS IT model?

Carnival Float for St Neot Cornish Fairy Queen

Well, it’s been a hectic few weeks getting the carnival float together, but it is finally completed!   It’s looking darn good I have to say.  So here we are in Liskeard where we came first in the Fairy Queens category.

St Neot Carnival Fairy Queen


Not long after we have visited Lostwithiel carnival where we came second.  Brilliant to see the Rotary club running these events so well.  The streets were completely lined with people and the atmosphere was amazing.

St Neot Carnival Float

Another weekend and another carnival.  Does the party ever end in Cornwall?

Innovation is difficult, but game changing.

At times of corporate difficulty, it’s often the innovation and the speculative research that is first to be dropped. Yet, it is this very innovation that businesses need to survive and evolve beyond their situation.

We all know innovation is difficult, often consuming more effort and resources than available and often returning no results or dead ends. But the occasional flash of brilliance creates a game changing and lucrative shift if adopted timely and wholeheartedly.

We all know that innovation is not always successful. Painful lessons must be taken from the likes of Nokia.  A brilliant innovative and leading edge company that was over taken, not by a feat of technical genius, but by marketing innovation. With it’s focus on technology, Nokia sleep walked into technical dead ends, whilst the market just walked away into flashy packaging and branding.

So innovation doesn’t just have to be a product. It could be a business process; it could be new people; or a new way of working. Each could be the differentiator that pushed a business beyond its competition.

Innovation does usually equate to risk, either through change or divergence, so it’s not easy to capitalise on innovation.  It takes clear vision, entrepreneurial spirit and luck.

Take Amstrad as the example.  In it’s day Sir Alan Sugar took the business to dizzying heights through the home computer boom.  His engineers found a product that he could market and sell with great profit.  The business grew throughout the 80’s.

Sir Alan Sugar struck lucky through his early products, but this was just luck.  Stuck like Nokia, he continued to seek that spark of differentiation from his engineers; but with his competitor’s focus shifting to price the market moved on.

So it takes a little luck to be successfully innovative.  It takes good clear vision to deliver upon that innovation.  It’s takes entrepreneurial spirit to deliver them both.

Superfast Rural Broadband – is it really impractical? #ruralbroadband #the5percent

It will always be impractical to implement superfast broadband for every household, especially for those with rural broadband.  But why?

Roughly 5% of houses will not be covered by real superfast broadband.  This is commonly because they are geographically dispersed, have long lines to the exchange or have no BT fixed line service.  All of these premises, people and businesses are stuck in a time warp drying up their ability to use the digital world and preventing growth of smaller businesses.  The internet is now so pervasive, I would argue that it is far more important than traditional telephony, especially when it comes to  inclusivity of our society (leaving people behind), and inspiring the next generation.

High speed Internet is essential for our society going forward.  If we are to compete with the likes of the asia block, we must invest and bring real superfast speeds to every household.  Aiming for 100Mbit for each household should be a minimum; and not in 10 years but we need to start working now.

A world of connected devices, Internet of Things, real free sharing of information, open honesty from governments, financial transparency, all of these rely upon an open and inclusive Internet.  As the barriers between countries become lost into an electronic world, we should be at the forefront, the pioneers, the innovators.

But we are stuck in the international slower lane, and told that fixed telephone line is not always the answer to super fast internet.  We are told this as the 5% left are expensive, complicated or just not profitable to service.  Let’s first think of the alternatives:

  • Mobile providers are now slowly distributing faster data services, but for the 5%, they are not going to be anywhere near the top of the list of telecoms masts to upgrade to 4G.  When we can’t even get good mobile internet coverage on the train, how are we going to expect good rural coverage?
  • Satellite broadband services are available – offering up to the ‘slow’ end of the superfast spectrum (10Mbits), they are very expensive; bandwidth limited and they introduce large time lags making it virtually impossible for computer gaming and time sensitive security applications (VPN’s etc).
  • There are also a few wireless initiatives, but these are few and tend to focus on ‘slow’ speeds for defined communities (such as villages) and still backhaul over BT fixed line network.

In essence, whilst there are a few alternatives, none of them live up to a sustainable and high quality service that we have come to expect over the BT fixed line network in towns and cities.

If the answer is the fixed line network, there are a couple of scenarios that should be considered:

  • UK plc should invest heavily into this fixed line service to upgrade all lines to FTTP.  This will help bring us inline with our international competitors, allow the country to aim higher, facilitate home working and create a platform for sustainable business innovation.
  • UK plc should bring the fixed line network into public hands, take the cost/risk away from a public company and return an asset to the country.  Whilst some may consider this to be BT’s crown jewels, it is essentially run as a separate entity, it would allow BT to fairly compete and grow it’s business base.

The risk here is that the R&D investment BT has made into the broadband network would get lost.  That spark and driver for innovation forced by competition may be lost.

  • Perhaps the compromise is the formation of a UK Openreach – a publically owned shell organisation that distributes contracts to 3rd parties for the provision of a fixed line network.  This would have to ‘own’ the local loop connection from exchange/green cabinet; but not the back haul to the ISP’s network.  This should not stop at just BT though; Virgin Media’s fibre network etc should also have to give up their wares to competition.
  • Amend the universal service obligation to focus on broadband and Internet speeds and not calls – after all, mobile or IP telephony is simple with sufficient speed to the Internet.

What ever we do though, we cannot afford to lose world class technologies companies like BT. There needs to be enough incentive to be creative, exciting and excellent in their use of technology; innovative enough to provide them with a business platform that is sustainable; and produce companies that are internationally competitive and world leading.

Long term review of Tea Pigs


It’s been quite some time now since I wrote my original review on Tea Pigs, so it’s about time I revisited that review.    So I’m still a big fan of the Redbush tea – the Rooibos crème caramel is still part my daily routine, especially when working late into the night.

That smell of the caramel with the Redbush is just amazing.  There are quite a few others now jumping onto this band waggon now – with Redbush flavours popping up all over.  Even the big brands are starting to introduce options.  But even their vanilla flavours have nothing on the Tea Pigs crème caramel.  So if you like your Redbush tea’s, give it a try.

On the run up to Christmas they have introduced a couple of new tea varieties.  I’ve tried out many of them, but my favourite two are the Apple and Cinnamon and the sweet ginger.   Clearly the Apple and Cinnamon has apple pie and christmas written all over it.  The smell and taste put you in a right spirit; and there is a genuine and wonderful apple taste with a good lingering hint of the cinnamon.   It’s just one of those drinks that seems to evoke memories of warm evenings and the festive season.

Sweet Ginger is not something I would have traditionally looked to try.  Ginger can be too strong a flavour and not something I would instantly think of for a tea; but this is not harsh at all.  It’s wonderfully warming and calming.  Perfect for the festive season, it makes you want to sit around a warm fire looking out at snow falling.  I take this in my flask on the way to work and the number of people on the train sniffing the air to gulp in a little more of the smell is amazing.

Tea Pigs have now launched a ‘subscribe and save’ option that allows you to put in a regular order for a little bit of discount off your third shop.  I’ve given this a try for the regular stuff and will report on how well it goes later.

It’s great to see the numbers of boutique tea shops growing and I certainly won’t stop trying the competition, but for my day-to-day tea requirements, I’m still shopping at Tea Pigs.

A person with a dream and vision is more powerful that a person with facts and a budget


A person with a dream and vision is more powerful that a person with facts and a budget

I know this has been doing the rounds for a while, but it always makes me think.  Can be thought of on many levels, but this is most clearly demonstrated with religion – people give their lives and those of other people to perpetuate that dream and vision.

Let’s hope that these visionaries use their influence to perpetuate tolerance, understanding, and a sustainable future for all.

Recipe for Marrow Chutney

Marrow ChutneyHere is our version of Marrow Chutney – it has a little bit of bite, but nothing to worry the kids and quite warming for a winters day.  There is nothing complex about this marrow chutney recipe and uses up the last of the marrow from the garden.  You can also use Courgette if you have them spare.

So, let’s start with the ingredients…

1.5 Kg of Marrow (we also use Courgette)
250 g shallots
250 g cooking apples
250 g sultanas
20g bruised root ginger
4 teaspoonfuls of spice mix (see our simple blend below)
120 g brown sugar
1 pint (about 570 ml) vinegar

Our simple spice blend is as follows:

2 tablespoons of dried chilli flakes
2 tablespoons of white mustard seeds
1 tablespoon of cumin seeds
1 tablespoon of coriander powder
1 tablespoon of turmeric

First step is quite simple and ideally needs to be done the night before.  Chop, peel and de-seed the marrow – what you want is some small cubes – about 1cm or so.  Put into a colander in the sink and sprinkle liberally with salt.  This will help to remove water and take some of the rather bitter taste out.  We usually do this last thing at night and leave covered until the morning.  Don’t skimp on the salt as it will be washed off.

Salted Diced Marrow

Next step is to do the washing.  You want to get rid of all of the salt, so wash carefully.


Put your marrow in a large pan and start to add all of the other ingredients.  Apples and shallots need to be cut into similar sized chunks and added.  Our spice mix is simple, but you can use something like pickling spice if you wrap it in muslin and take out at the end.



With all the ingredients added, bring to the boil slowly.  Remember there is quite a bit of vinegar in here, so this is going to be a little bit smelly.  Keep the lid on and slowly simmer until completely cooked with a thick sauce.  You can stir as you go along and this certainly does help even out the contents, but don’t over do it.

Spicy Marrow Chutney


Allow to cool slightly and put into steralised jars.  Best to use hot jars and lids, add hot contents and leave to slowly cool.   Once the marrow chutney is cold store in a cool dark place.  A good larder or top of the fridge is ok.   Remember to put a label on it – especially the date.

iPhone 6 launch but nothing too interesting

After all the hype of Apple Watch, big screens and iOS 8, the launch of new Apple products went ahead last night.  I just can’t help being underwhelmed.  Big screens to catch up with the competition, NFC support to, err catch up with the competition and an iWatch to catch up with the competition.  I’m not sure there is enough there to make people want or need to upgrade.

Still, I’ve no doubt that Apple will do what they do best – they will make it easy to use, make it pervasive and perhaps more importantly create an unstoppable frenzy of consumer demand.

Repairing Discovery 300TDI Auto Cruise Control

Just a quick guide here on repairing the most common problem with Discovery 300TDI Auto cruise control – the vacuum hose.  These rubber hoses seem to quite easily perforate or crack over time and it’s very easy to fix.  Firstly, if the cracks are small and near the joins just cut the hose and reconnect.  This only works if you have enough hose.  In my case the hose has already been cut too short and is actually just dangling in the engine bay.  So a quick trawl over to ebay found new silicon hose cheap enough.

I’ve purchased some silicon hose – 5m of 5mm internal diameter and 10mm outer.  This gives 2.5mm of wall which should be enough.   5m is overkill too, but it leaves about 1m for the toolbox.

Discovery 300TDI Auto Cruise Control Vacuum Hose - simple tools required

Tools required are very basic – a good knife, some pliers and some nice hot water.

First off, I’m starting at the auto speed controller unit thingy (I’m guessing there is a real name for this unit).  The hose here for me has already cut by a previous owner, but clearly this was too short and didn’t reach the t-piece.  So that’s a timely reminder to measure twice and cut once :)

So, taking the old hose off (very easily in my case), I use this to measure the length of new hose required.  Remembering in my case that the hose was too short, so I’ve added to the length (best to measure long and cut back later if your not sure).  Using the hot water to warm the silicon doesn’t seem to make any difference, but as a homage to the old rubber hoses and to make me feel better I’ve done it anyway.

Discovery 300TDI Auto Cruise Control Vacuum Hose - hot waterWith one end connected to the Auto unit, I warm the other end going to the t-peice.  Once connected up it’s time to look at the longer pipe.  Remove from the T around the bulkhead and into the aux battery/jack area.  Here the pipe dives under what would be the battery tray and into the pump.  The pump is not easy to see and whilst it can be removed, I’m not looking to waste time.

Drilling off the jack mounting plate to gain access to vacuum pump


So with that thought, I’ve drilled the rivets holding the pump base into place and removed.  This gives just enough access from the top to do the job and I can replace later if needed.  Removal of the old hose shows that it was completely perished and not even connected to the pump.

Now use this pipe to measure a new length – as always a bit longer is better and remember it can be cut back later.  I’m starting by connecting at the pump end.  On the right hand side of the pump are two projections – your aiming for the back one, slightly shorter.  Push it on as far as you can and give it a tug – it should be a secure fit.

Discovery 300TDI Auto Cruise Control Vacuum Hose - to the pump


The picture above shows the red silicon hose that I’m using and just visible through the left hold is part of the pump.  Now route the hose back around the bulkhead using the clips where available and trim if required at the t-piece.

Discovery 300TDI Auto Cruise Control Vacuum Hose - T piece connected


Connect to the t-piece and you should have replaced most of the hose.  There is one more that goes through the bulkhead into the drivers footwell, but this one is in good condition for me and I’m stopping at this point.    So final picture from me shows a little more of the engine bay and the new red silicone hose.

Discovery 300TDI Auto Cruise Control Vacuum Hose - complete


So did it fix the problem… oh yea :)  fully working Cruise Control now on my 300TDI Auto!  Simple fix and only 10 mins of my day used.

Just found a nice guide to the rest of the system – it can be found on Landyzone here.


Minions offers some amazing walks

Minions is perhaps not on the top list of Cornwall destinations to visit, but it should be.  This small and sleepy village hosts a whole bunch of Cornish archeology – mining being the most obvious.  The views are stunning and it’s only a few miles to walk to the Cheesewring (cheese ring or Keuswask for some) and the Hurlers (stone circles).  So if your near Bodmin Moor have a look and bring your walking boots as most could walk there all day.

Old Mine Workings near Minions

Old Mine workings

The Cheesewring / Keuswask

A view of Cheesewring / Keuswask

Saving energy with LED replacement MR16 Bulbs

LED lighting is moving forward at a pace at the moment and prices are dropping quickly.  7dayshop have started stocking ‘Ecolight’ branded MR16 bulbs running at 5W.  These are produced in China but are made by the Daewoo group, so at least they meet EU standards.

MR16 24 LED 5W 12V Bulb


So, from first looks, they are the typical multi LED configuration and as the ones I’m testing are ‘warm white’ the LED’s are the typical yellow colour when not turned on.   It’s also good to see that the packaging in minimal with no plastics, just recyclable card/paper. The specification of the bulb is good on paper too.  They are 12V MR16 bulbs consuming 5W putting out 370lm of light (about the same as a 40W halogen).  They have a 120 degree projection angle, so are good all round lights.

In line with most LED based bulbs, they are IP44 rated and A rated for energy consumption.  At a hefty 50,000 hours of lifetime, they put all but the most expensive halogens into the shade.  Perhaps one downside is that they are not dimmable.  Not too much of a problem for me, but if you like to change the intensity of your lighting then you will need to look elsewhere.

Installation is a simple as removing the old bulb and installing a new one.  Retrofitting these into an existing installation may cause you problems though.  Some traditional 12V inverters don’t work at such low power consumption levels and you may need to replace them with an LED driver.

So if your MR16 LED bulbs are flickering, you will need to find a lower power constant current driver.  I’ve switched to a Halolite unit, but there are plenty out there to be found.  This will impact your total price as these units are not cheap, so if immediate cost saving is your goal, you may need to look to alternative forms of lighting.

ecolight led mr16 light pattern

The light pattern is good and unless filtered, it’s difficult to see the LED’s.  The Ecolight MR16’s are bright with a warm light – something of a departure from standard halogens that seem quite cold.  I’ve replaced 6 35W halogen bulbs with 6 5W LED bulbs, so my consumption levels have dropped from 210W at 12V to 30W at 12V.  Quite a substantial reduction.  The light levels are higher and with the new drivers installed, flicker free.

Overall, these are an excellent way to reduce the total power consumption, increase the general light levels (compared to 35W MR16 bulbs) and offer a warm light alternative to cold halogens.   If your goal is to save money though – the additional cost of constant current drivers may push this to a long term cost saving measure only.

St Neot Carnival 2014

outrageous grannies at st neot carnivalvisiting carnival queen st neot carnivalpirates! st neot carnivalst neot carnivalkernow pipe band st neot carnivalugly sisters st neot carnivalamazing kernow pipe band st neot carnivalwinning at the tombola st neot carnival

Great picture taken by my 11 yr old daughter Hattie at the Eden Project yesterday #edenphotocomp

Yet another amazing day out at the Eden Project in Cornwall.  So much to see at the moment and some completely scary dinosaurs.  All mine got the bravery stamp :).   Hattie had some fun with the phone though and took a million pictures, her favourite is this lovely green lizard that walked past her!

Eden Project Chair Eden Project You Are Here  eden project med dome

Didcot A Power Station’s Towers Demolished

For a long time, anyone walking along the Ridgeway between Oxfordshire and Berkshire will have used the cooling towers from the Didcot Power Station as a clear landmark.  The first three of these from Didcot A’s coal guzzler were demolished Sunday.  There is lots of media coverage, so no need for me to waffle on, so here are some links to help you learn more:

The Guardian – Didcot power station demolition draws hundreds despite warnings to stay away

GetReading – Where to watch Didcot power station being demolished

Oxford Mail – Didcot’s tumbling towers


Is #Gaza Israelis ‘final solution’ to the Palestinian people?

Concentrated into a small strip of land, surrounded with an iron curtain of walls, mines, and machines of war; is Gaza just an extermination camp to allow Israel to wipe the Palestinian people off the map?

It sure looks like it. Over 200 dead to date of writing in the latest conflict to just one Israeli death. Palestinian chrilden slaughtered at play. Trial by bomb and gun.

And yet for all this Israeli fire power, for all their technology and anger, all they are doing is creating another generation with passionate hatred towards their oppressors. Until Israel dismantles the Gaza concentration camp; until they stop the killing and show humility all they do is breed into a nation a passion and belief in the injustice and slaughter they experience.

There is no Plan B here for Israel. They are generating the very thing they are fighting against.

So, the only and final solution for the Israelis must be to destroy their sense of nation, community, and every single life. Gaza is the worlds largest concentration camp with what appears to be just one aim – the complete destruction of the Palestinian nation.

The shame and guilt we should be feeling is that we all let this happen. We buy Israeli goods, supply then with arms and do nothing to help the people of Palestine. I can only hope that both sides see sense, put down their arms, remove the barriers and seek a long lasting peace based on knowledge, co-operation and tolerance.

Review of TP-Link TD-W8968 ADSL2+ Wireless Router

If you don’t have a problem with a crowded 2.4GHz spectrum in your area, then a very low cost ADSL2+ wireless router may be your answer. The TP-Link TD-W8968 is almost too cheap – at around the £30 mark from the likes of Argos, this device is clearly aimed at the lower cost bracket and the consumer market.

So in a house full of Internet addicts, how does this device perform? Well, much better than expected. For comparison here, it’s replacing the BT Home Hub 3.0 a very common device out there and for such a low price a much more viable option that the replacement cost of a BT Home Hub.

TP-Link W8968

A quick look at the specification and both devices are very similar, both run only on the 2.4GHz spectrum with 300Mbit wireless n support, both have four ethernet ports, USB and ADSL2+ modems built in. Ascetically, the TP-Link TD-W8968 does look cleaner and more professional, but the Home Hubs are so common I would suspect that no one notices them any more. The TP-Link TD-W8968 could also be wall mounted and has directional aerials, so there is a touch more flexibility.

At look at power consumption puts them level pegging and on packaging both have minimised the non-recyclable elements and clearly don’t waste packaging materials. Here though you can clearly see BT’s commitment – no fancy colour printed boxes, everything marked with the material type and everything is colour co-ordinated. So wot? well this stops waste, shows people what each item is for and where it’s connected. I wonder how many generic grey cables have been binned before they true need has been recognised.

So how does the ADSL connection compare between the two devices? Our BT Home Hub 3.0 connected to the Internet with a reasonable error rate at 1124Kbps downstream and 448Kbps upstream. Given our distance from the exchange, this is nothing but a miracle. How does the TP-Link TD-W8968 compare? With almost no error rate, the TP-Link is getting 1976Kbps downstream and 448Kbps upstream. I’ve left the TP-Link TD-W8968 two weeks to settle on this speed and the performance improvement is very noticeable – almost double the speed previously achieved and with few errors.

I’m guessing that the BT Home Hub 3.0 is configured with some very conservative settings, on the other hand, the latest firmware for the TP-Link is almost a year newer, so this may be down to highly tuned software settings and hardware capabilities.

But what use is the Internet if you cannot get to it? Just about everything these days requires wireless. Wired is dead. So performance is all. There are going to be no records set with only 300Mbit Wireless N available, but range, especially through walls and bleed into outside spaces becomes more important (last thing I need is daughters complaining at the lack of Internet whilst sunning themselves in the garden). The BT Home Hub 3.0 always seems to lack some get up and go. Wall penetration is limited and it does seem very directional – point the hub in the right way and you get a good signal in one direction.

The TP-Link TD-W8968 is not like this at all. Penetrating through my 1m thick stone walls, the signal bleeds into external areas well and provides good coverage. Nothing is lightning quick here, but good enough for basic browsing, email and limited youtube action.

So far, the TP-Link TD-W8968, has owned the BT Home Hub 3.0 for ADSL and Wireless performance. It’s a draw on environmental issues and ascetics. But whilst the BT Home Hub 3.0 is very simple to set up and get working, it’s biggest let down is the lack of useful features and any real configuration.  The TP-Link TD-W8968 scores highly here with features like:

  • Guest WiFi
  • Customisable settings (such as DNS, QoS, Parental Controls, SPI Firewall etc)
  • Support for USB 3G modems

In conclusion, it’s clear that TP-Link have done a great job with the TD-W8968.  The Home Hub 3.0 wins only on ease of configuration, in every other respect, the TP-Link TD-W8968 is head and shoulders above the BT offering.  My recommendation:  if you need a replacement or new ADSL2+ Wireless Router, then look no further than the TP-Link offering.


A project to enhance the internet connections across Plymouth University’s campus has earned recognition from judges at a national awards ceremony.

The major upgrade, part of a programme of investment in state-of-the-art technology, included an overhaul of the wired and wireless networks in more than 1,700 student rooms and other communal areas.

Real IT Awards

The project has now been named runner-up in the Best Use of Cloud category in the Real IT Awards, which aim to recognise outstanding IT innovation across the private and public sector.

Plymouth was the only educational institution on the awards shortlist, with other nominees including multi-national giants such as Volkswagen, E.ON, GlaxoSmithKline and Pepsi, as well as Government departments and public sector bodies.

Adrian Hollister, Head of Strategy and Architecture in Plymouth University’s Technology and Information Services Directorate, said: “When we saw the calibre of the other nominees, we realised that just being on the awards shortlist was a major achievement in itself, and a vindication of all our hard work on this project. Our students expect to be able to access internet services wherever they are on campus, and it is vital we do not rest on our laurels and remain in a position to meet those expectations. Enabling them to stay connected is a key part of their academic and personal development.”

The four-week upgrade was carried out by leading technology service company CAE, and involved providing a 600Mbit Wireless N service and a 100Mbit wired service, giving students full access to the University’s suite of online resources on all their desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile devices. It enables families and friends to access the internet anywhere on campus during visits.

The upgraded service also includes a commitment to enhancing student employability by recruiting ambassadors for the service, who will become the first point of contact and providing out of hours help if required.

John Wright, the University’s Chief Information Officer, added: “This praise is due recognition for our outstanding technology team, who are consistently pushing the boundaries to keep the University ahead of the game. Through constant innovation, we have created an environment where students and staff can stay connected, and the new high performance wireless network has enabled us to achieve our ambition of supporting learning and leisure for all.”


Notes to Editors

The wireless upgrade involved the installation of 400 sector-leading Cisco Meraki wireless access points in halls, which have fast data throughput of 600 megabits per second. These devices are connected to the network using 12. 5km of high-tech cabling – CAT7 is the latest standard of cabling and is designed to work the next generation of technology and last around 20 years. An additional 8 Cisco Meraki wireless access points have been installed throughout the student village to provide students with WiFi access in popular outdoor areas including North Hill.

For more information about this press release, contact Plymouth University Press & PR Officer Alan Williams on 01752 588004 or email alan.williams@plymouth.ac.uk.

About Plymouth University

Consistently ranked as one of the leading universities in the UK, and awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2012, Plymouth has a strong record of excellence, enterprise and innovation across its teaching and research activities. Distinguished by its long-term engagement with business and the community, the University enjoys outstanding links with employers and plays a key role in civic and regional leadership. It is the only university in the world to have been awarded the Social Enterprise Mark in recognition of its work in support of the sector.

With around 30,000 students, including those studying higher education at its partner colleges throughout the South West, the University is one of largest in the UK. It enjoys a high rate of graduate employment and has recently invested more than £150 million in its estate and facilities to enhance the student experience and support world-class research.

Plymouth has embedded sustainability across its operations, and is the overall best performing university in the People & Planet Green League. It is the first modern university to found a medical and dental school – the Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry – and is the leading provider of Higher Education in Cornwall. For more information, please visit www.plymouth.ac.uk

Think Green Party in European Elections 2014

What a great advert for the Green Party. If your ever thinking of an alternative just spend a minute or two watching this and decide what’s best for you, your family, community and country.

Wantage, Letcombe Regis, East Challow Circular Walk

Circular route from the centre of the market town of Wantage. Good selection of road, gravel, mud with excellent dog walking potential. Ends walking via the old Berks & Wilts canal and back into the centre of town.  Only 5 miles and a good selection of views and walking conditions.  A great one for the dogs.  There is a full description of the waypoints and route on ViewRanger.  Enjoy.

Bodge after bodge – amateur hour

The electrics in the new house scare me slightly.  Just replacing bulbs with energy efficient LED and CFL bulbs has revealed a whole bunch of hidden problems.  The electric shock off the porch light was interesting, though I couldn’t feel my arm for an hour (lighting circuit power was turned off); but the second kitchen lights are type of what I can expect here and what needs to be fixed as soon as possible.

Placed directly on top of a 12V halogen bulb this component is toast.  I am surprised that there was not a fire or at least a loud bang.  Previous owners of the house seemed to have continued on oblivious to their bodges though.  Let’s hope I can get around to fixing it all before one of the bodges comes to bite me.

Theft of lightbulbs in Brightwalton village occur unabated as neighbours go around stealing others people external lights. Why this phenomenon is occurring is a mystery, though speculation is that old wannabe middle class nimbys are looking for nocturnal pleasures. Others say that it’s part of a fantasy jacuzzi cult. Who knows…

Heading to the European Elections

We are on the run up to the European Elections and it’s fascinating to see how little media coverage the Green Party receive. Others, who are more controversial and more extreme seem to get the attention. I guess this is in the interests of the broadcasters, who are after controversy to sell their stories, but it would be nice to think that the Green Party, with ever increasing local, national and EU representation would get the opportunity to put opinion forward.

I guess though this debate goes back to the state and privately owned media. A more transparent process, would certainly help to unlock our democracy and perhaps even make it a little more honest and accountable.

Fukushima ground water exceeds 2 million becquerels per litre

It’s been quite some time since the triple melt down at Fukushima Japan.  Whilst the Japanese struggle to clear up and manage the situation, TEPCO announced that values ​​of 2.1 million becquerels per litre were measured on Friday 27th.  The Japan Times recently reported:

Tepco found 950 million becquerels of cesium and 520 million becquerels of beta ray-emitting radioactive substances, including strontium, in the water from 13 meters [~43 feet] underground.

Water from 1 meter down contained 340 million becquerels, and a sample from 7 meters down contained 350 million becquerels.

Let’s all hope that they get on top of the situation soon and that nations around the world will rethink their strategy on nuclear energy.  Imagine a similar incident in the UK – could we survive if a county or two were so highly irradiated that we had to abandon them?

Satsuma Toilet Roll Fire Lighter

So with the festive time of year approaching fast and the numbers of satsumas and clementines filling the shelves, most people love to sock up on this fruit.  So this is a neat little tip that combines the waste skin from these fruits and turns them into a fairly good fire lighter.  What you need is a toilet roll tube, lots of skin and a bit of time.  Start with the tube on it’s end and slowly pack it with the skins.  Each new layer must dry completely before adding the next, so you may need to do several of these at the same time.  Once full, leave to completely dry – south facing window should be enough, even in winter.

What you end up with is a solid tube of orange peel which is very flammable and burns for enough time to get a good wood fire going.  Smells nice too when burning!

1st world middle class petitions – locals with no lives

Doesn’t seem like two years ago, but to the day, my middle class NIMBY neighbour knocked on the door and ask me to sign a petition.  The middle classing revolting?  No, it was a petition against the white van parked on the opposite side of the road to their house.  What a first world problem, how trivial and pathetic.  The neighbour opposite works at least 5 day a week gardening and these NIMBY’s were out there to seek to stop him working.  After making him redundant unable to continue his business, I can only assume that a petition would follow complaining that the poor chap was now on benefits and eating into the tax they pay (or perhaps largely avoid paying).

I do wish that the energies of these people could be used for something good for once and not to try and keep their social status (as the van was surely reducing the price of their tiny middle class house and the oiks living opposite must surely belong in another village [sic]).  Why these sorts of people go to a small community I’ve no idea.  They contribute nothing positive and spend their lives disrupting others to keep their old fashioned middle class ways.  Perhaps a ‘secondment’ to a 3rd world country would put their trivial lives into perspective.

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