11 Februry 2024

Sadly, the numerous chiropractor and acupuncture appointments have not resolved the issue of my sciatic pain and we had to take the disappointing decision to abandon our trip to Hawaii, LA and New England. Thank you to those who got in touch to wish me well – those of you who have suffered similarly know how absolutely brutal it is – and the plethora of donkey tranquilisers our GP gave me have only marginally dented the pain. So, we’ll look forward to making that trip on a later occasion.

On Friday, the day we were due to fly, I spent much of the morning imagining what we would be doing at such and such a time. 9.00 am, get to the airport and start the check-in process, 10.00 am queue to get through security, etc., 11.00 am boarding and 11.15 take off. Just out of interest I looked at one of the travel apps I use and discovered that our flight had been cancelled! I wonder if we were the only two people on the flight? I guess they would have put us on a later flight but that would have made the transfer in LA quite fraught and tricky. While I’m not in any sense keen on the sciatica, I guess every cloud has its silver lining?

In anticipation of our almost three-week holiday, we had arranged for a Trusted Housesitter to take care of the house and, perhaps more importantly, the delightful Daisy in our absence. When we decided that we couldn’t go we let her know but her plans included coming to the UK anyway and her next house sit is just down the road in Honington near Shipston (and, in anticipation Penny had already spent several weeks deep-cleaning the house). So, the lovely Elise arrived on Tuesday evening and she is a delight. She’s a very interesting woman – a digital nomad – who can work more or less anywhere as long as she has decent WiFi and she has indeed been all over. She came to us following a house/pet sit in Spain and has a couple of other gigs in the UK after Honington. When stuff like this happens – hosts having to cancel their plans – the company allows her to find some alternative accommodation for the period when she would have been staying here. So, she’ll stay with us until she’s able to get that sorted and, as I say, she is a delightful houseguest.

The minister responsible for electricity pylons – who knew there was such a thing – has lost his role as it turns out that he is opposed to pylons. He was quietly reshuffled after it emerged that he was campaigning against pylons. Honestly, you had one job! And you can’t even do that because it turns out you don’t like pylons. Why take the job? Was it the glory or was it the money? To be fair, this is a very low-ranking ministerial post and he’s a very low-ranking non-entity whom no one has ever heard of.

More pylons are necessary in order to expand the National Grid, which needs to happen if enough electricity is to be supplied to UK homes and businesses while allowing for growth and decarbonisation. But, pylons are unsightly and it turns out that he is not the only Conservative MP who opposes them. There is even an Offshore Electricity Grid Task Force made up of 14 MPs who are campaigning against them. They’re OK with the expanded electricity infrastructure but obviously opposed to the pylons required to deliver the expanded electricity. Its members include the former secretaries of state Priti Patel, Kemi Badenoch and Thérèse Coffey. So, not the sharpest knives in the drawer.

Patel brought their case to parliament in November, asking why the pylons could not be built in the sea. She demanded that ministers opt to “build an offshore grid” and “pull the plug on these awful pylons”. Sadly, it’s beyond the wit of Patel, et. al. to understand that, even with undersea infrastructure, the electricity has to come ashore at some point if it is to be delivered where it is needed. Perhaps in her imagination it just flies to where it’s needed or is delivered, like milk bottles.

The proposed grid investments already include coordinated undersea cables to connect up the UK’s vast offshore wind potential, but at some point those lines have to come onshore to reach customers, otherwise it’s like a ring road without any routes into town.

Simon Cran-McGreehin, Head of Analysis at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit

Yes folks, these people walk amongst us and even masquerade as sentient beings.

Quick update on the “Continue Reading” bug . . . It seems that this has been fixed (to a degree). Clicking the link in the email to continue reading opens a browser and, eventually, loads the content. It seems to my untrained mind that it is a bit slower than perhaps it used to be but gets there in the end. On the other hand, you could always consider this failure to load the remaining content a “feature” to protect you from the remaining rubbish.

And finally, some of you know that I play around with our family tree from time to time. I use MyHeritage and they recently added a new feature – an AI generated biography of anyone in your family tree. So, I decided to have it generate a biography for my folks.

What it came up with was a pretty ordinary description of the basic facts of their lives and where they lived along with some “historical” context. I reckon a five-year-old could have done as good a job and might have avoided the one glaring howler I found in my mother’s biography. If you are interested at all (my brothers and sisters might be) you can find them here.

Robert Stragnell
Elizabeth Stragnell

Meanwhile, keep happy, keep smiling, keep exercising, be good, be careful, and keep safe. And be gentle to wasps and bees.

Lots of love to you all,


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