All posts by ACEOTT

Last Day on Saga Pearl II

The night had been awful.

My pills were maintaining my stomach but I was struggling to get comfortable, and the noise and movement of the ship were appalling. I did manage to drop off to sleep, and when I woke, it was noticeably calmer.

That was the moment I should have taken another pill, but thinking the worst was over, I just turned over and returned to sleep.

The next time I woke, it was mayhem again, and any chance of taking a pill had gone.

Eventually it was time to wake up, and I realised the day was not going to be comfortable.

Deb went for breakfast, and I simply closed my eyes and stayed put in bed. When she returned, I got up and dressed but the thought of eating or remaining vertical were not on my list of things to do. We went and sat in Shackletons where the movement was less noticeable, and I tried not to look out of the windows where the view was a continual change between sea and sky.

Deb wasn’t feeling very well either but, was able to go back to the cabin and complete most of the packing.

When she came and found me again, I was sent to see the doctor.

In reality it was just the nurse, and she stuck a patch behind my ear that was supposed to make me feel better.

Well, I struggled on, and alternated my time between laying on the bed in the dark, or sitting in chairs where the movement was just about tolerable, but my body was not getting any better. At least I managed to eat a bread roll, but the cup of coffee I tried made me feel worse.

We even attempted to be sociable by going to the afternoon tea, but that was a bad idea, and things were getting worse for me.

Late in the afternoon I returned to the medical centre, where a different nurse told me off for not coming back sooner. She gave me an injection this time and I went back to my bed as instructed. Deb had some food in the buffet while I slept, and when she came back to the cabin, I felt well enough to get up and face the world again.

I was hungry by then, and Deb accompanied me to the dining room, where we both ate a little food.

… but we refrained from having any wine.

By now I was feeling almost human again, and we took on the last quiz of the cruise before going to the show. A few of the ship’s entertainment singers and dancers were also feeling unwell, and their farewell show was abandoned. Luckily the Four Ds were OK and they teamed up with a couple of the entertainers who were feeling up to it, and an impromptu show was put together. It turned out to be quite entertaining for our last night on this ship.

Following the show, Deb and I went back to the cabin where I had another stugeron pill before we put out the final suitcase, and curled up in bed.

I was shattered, and had no problem falling asleep. The sea was still giving the ship a bashing, but the injection and the pill had convinced my brain and stomach that all was well again.

The next morning, Monday 10th December, we got up early. The ship was just entering Dover where we would be disembarking in a less than three hours time. Our breakfast was quite light, but at least I was enjoying the food again.

By about 8:30 we were sat in the Discovery Lounge as the luggage was offloaded. Unlike some experiences on the P&O ships, the lounge did not get overloaded with people and their cases, there was plenty of room for everyone.

Disembarking began as scheduled, and we were off the ship before 10:00 and being taken to the waiting car by our driver. We settled into the journey, and the roads were very quiet.

After a late morning stop to stretch our legs and have a snack, we dropped off our fellow passengers in Cheltenham before carrying onwards to home. It was a little before 2:30 when we brought our cases indoors, and said cheerio to the driver.

What a smooth operation Saga have for travel to and from the ports.

It had been an interesting six days where we had a chance to experience a different cruise line. There had been plenty of good moments and positive thought about Saga Cruising, but there were differences that we didn’t feel comfortable with, so we haven’t come to a final conclusion yet about possibly coming back on one of the other Saga ships.

Now it was time to unpack, get the washing done, and get ourselves ready for Christmas. It is only three weeks before we will be back on a cruise ship again, and this time it is another P&O adventure.

Our Day in Hamburg

Saturday morning and we have had a still night docked alongside Hamburg.

Deb and I had decided not to use an alarm to get up as we are both very tired. If we overslept then it would be good for us. Well, we didn’t have much of a lie in, and were awake by 7:30 and having breakfast a little after 8:00.

The weather was pretty dismal with a grey sky that suggested it was going to dump rain on us.

Our original plan for Hamburg was to visit the Miniature World, but still feeling exhausted we thought that a gentle and short walk around the city would be a better idea. This proved to be a very good decision. The tours desk had said that there would be taxis outside of the cruise terminal to take us to the Miniature World site, but when we eventually left the ship, there were none.

Instead we took the shuttle and then strolled along one of the shopping streets in the general direction of the Christmas Markets. We found a small market after about 200 metres, and after looking at the generally very expensive clothes and souvenirs on sale, we opted for a Bratwurst. That was enough exercise for me, so we turned back to the bus station to catch the shuttle again.

Back on-board the Saga Pearl II we had a light lunch, followed by a relaxation break, and then Deb had a swim while I cycled for 10 minutes.

It was quiz time again, and as Deb and I drank a refreshing Pepsi (diet of course) we battled several other teams with 20 general knowledge questions. Today I was surprised to know that the official language of Greenland is Greenlandic. Obvious I suppose, but I never knew.

We were not the best team, but it was an enjoyable 30 minutes.

Well, it is just coming up to 4:30 and we will be leaving Hamburg in the next hour or so. It’s getting dark and the wind has risen. My checks of the weather suggests a stormy trip down the North Sea and Channel towards Dover. I might not be doing much tomorrow if that proves to be correct.

Not long until we will have to get ready for dinner, and I wonder who will be joining us for a chat over the meal tonight.

Tonight is the second formal night of the cruise, and the cabaret features a return of the Four Ds, which should be enjoyable.

Aaggh!

At 5:00 the captain has announced that there are more free drinks tonight. We missed that on the programme, but we will do our best to maintain the standards of Saga cruising and join in.

Sadly, he also announced that once we leave the River Elba late this evening, we will be fighting against a force 6 to 8 wind as we get into the North Sea. The swell will be five metres plus. Our captain warned us that there will be some movement.

To non-maritime professionals that equates to “bloody rough!”

Well the evening was one of the best. After a couple of drinks at the farewell cocktail party we had another chatty meal. From there we took on a challenging quiz from the amusing Resty. His quizzes are very much about fun, and no prizes given.

Now it was time for the show, and we got our seats for the return of the Four Ds. Once again they were superb, and to round the evening off, they brought on Resty who sang with them. As Deb and I left the Discovery Lounge we asked one of the singers if he might be on P&O in the near future, and he replied that they were on one in March, and he thought it was Arcadia.

If this is correct, the Round the World cruisers are in for a treat.

By now we had left the calm waters of the River Elba and the North Sea was doing its best to tell us who was the boss. Little Saga Pearl II was being bounced and blown around. I had already chewed my Stugeron in  an attempt at keeping my stomach and brain in sync.

We took to our beds and I was already feeling uncomfortable.

It looked like the final moments of this cruise were going to be less than pleasant.

Sea Day to Hamburg

After a slightly bumpy night – well actually worse than that – we woke to a grey day at sea.

It was cool, and there were very few moments during the day when it wasn’t drizzling.

Our morning was not exactly energetic. Deb and I sat for a while with our tablets, and then while I listened to a talk from the Chief Engineer (and the Captain)  Deb went for a swim.

The talk was primarily about what happened when Saga Pearl II was in dry dock for a refit, but ended with a brief look at how the building of the new ship (Spirit of Discovery) is getting on. There were photographs taken during the construction period, including a handful taken while we were in Bremen yesterday.

I was quite impressed, but a fair number of the much travelled Saga cruisers are unhappy about having such a big ship.

… “A thousand passengers, what ever next?

Lunchtime was heralded by a cocktail party for members of the Britannia loyalty club, plus the first timers like us. Yes there was more free booze, and another talk from the captain that ended with a joke.

Lunch itself was rather disappointing. The dining room had just filled one side, so we were shown to the other side and were soon joined by four others to fill our table. Food was ordered, wine was poured, and then service seemed to grind to a halt. Our waiter obviously didn’t like us and although the first table in his station, we were overtaken by most tables around us.

I left feeling quite annoyed at the level of service.

During the afternoon we relaxed again with the main activity being a ‘True or False’ quiz that our table of four won. We got them all correct based on skill, plus a serious dose of luck.

Late in the afternoon Deb went to a Yoga session while I watched our arrival into Hamburg. The weather was still grey and drizzly so I didn’t stay on the decks very long. I was actually resting on my bed when the sounds of side thrusters announced docking time at 5:00.

We had no intention of going into the city this evening, so after a wine free dinner, we took part in a music quiz where we did very well, but not quite good enough. Fortunately there were no prizes as we were in port by then.

The entertainment was a quartet of musicians, but we had already decided to try out the Sundowners Bar up on the top deck. This is a small bar with seating for about 20 people, and perfect for a chat with just gentle background music. We were joined by a couple and chatted until about 10:30.

We planned having an early night as we are both exhausted from lack of sleep, and rather hard mattresses. Also there had been a warning that the water would be turned off at 11:30 until 3:00 overnight for urgent repair work.

Tomorrow we have plans, but unless our bodies recover from the tiredness, we might be changing our ideas.

Bremerhaven

Thursday morning, and not such a comfortable night.

We were up for an early breakfast before going on a tour to the German town of Bremen. We had lunch in the buffet again, and as soon as Deb mentioned the semi-skimmed milk, a waiter disappeared and came back with a glass of our favoured milk from the carton in the fridge. They may not have it for general use, but having asked for it, they have come up trumps.

After breakfast we had a few minutes before going to the Discovery Lounge with our tour tickets. As soon as we reported to the person in charge, we were shown to the packed lunch queue. It offered a pretty good range of bits with sandwiches, cakes, fruit, cheese and biscuits, as well as water and fizzy drinks. Our lunches were stored away in a plastic Saga bag and we sat until our tour was called.

It wasn’t long before we were in our coach with our guide Doris explaining what was to happen.

I won’t go through it in detail but we began with a coach trip from the port of Bremerhaven to the city of Bremen. From our coach we boarded a vintage tram for a scenic ride around the city. This showed us the differences in the city from historical times through to the modern areas. The architecture has significant differences as we toured the city, and our young male guide described so much with huge amounts of passion for his city.

After an hour on the tram we alighted for a short walking tour that ended at the city’s Christmas market area. This is where we spent the next two hours looking at the stalls, enjoying a Bratwurst and a cup of hot Gluhwein, and buying a few presents.

That was the end of the tour, so we found our coach again and settled into the seats. We had been standing or walking for nearly three hours and I was glad to sit, and quite soon closed my eyes on the journey back to our ship.

Our evening began with a cocktail before another delightful dinner. Our table mates included a couple from the first night. He was the sports journalist, and as well as talking about his meeting with Muhammad Ali it seems he also knew Frank Bruno well, and Lin Davies the long jumper. The couple also have a grand daughter who is a speed skater.

What a family, and what a lovely man.

From dinner we tried another quiz, and did very well, but not winners. Sadly we forgot about the evening show from the Explosive troupe and arrived late for their cabaret based on the music of the sixties.

Well, what we heard was wonderful, and the costumes and dancing were spectacular.

Our night rounded off with a hot drink from the buffet before heading to the cabin, and our beds.

I took no chances, and swallowed a sea-sickness tablet. The sea was quite active as we crossed the north sea towards the next stop at Hamburg.

This had been another rather nice day.

First Sea Day

Deb and I slept quite well on our first night. The beds are a little harder than preferred, but we were both tired enough, and I had a sea-sickness pill to aid my sleep. The sea was a little bumpy as we made our way up the Channel towards the North Sea, but I woke the next morning with little more than a slightly confused tummy and brain.

We had our breakfast in the buffet (Veranda) and the choice of hot and cold food is very good. There are a lot of waiters who do all they can to help passengers, and it was a little confusing initially as they wanted to do far more than we expected. Every ship is different, and it will take a time to get used to the system.

There was one issue. The ship does not offer semi-skimmed milk as standard. There is skimmed and whole milk and neither of these suits our taste for tea. After a chat with one of the waiters, we now have a carton of semi-skimmed in the fridge with our cabin number on it.

After breakfast we made our way to the gym/indoor swimming pool. Deb spent a few minutes swimming up and down the pool while I had my exercise bike workout for ten minutes. This short burst of cycling has done wonders for my knee.

With our bodies toned to perfection we relaxed a while in the lounge area where there are numerous chairs and settees to suit comfort choices. That was how we spent most of this first day, with odd breaks for coffee and lunch in the main dining room. Various gatherings were going on around the ship for single travellers, or those wanting to learn Bridge, plus formal talks. Deb and I were quite happy to relax and absorb the atmosphere of the ship.

There was one burst of mental activity in the afternoon when there was a quiz, but as we arrived far too late to join in we simply listened. A group near us were struggling with a question, and Deb offered them the answer…. in fact several answers. They won the quiz and very pleased with themselves, and Deb’s assistance.

Late in the afternoon it was time to get ready for the Captain’s welcome on board cocktail party. Dressed suitably we gathered in the Discovery Lounge for a couple of glasses of champagne while we chatted to an officer. The captain introduced the senior members of his team and cracked the obligatory joke to round off his speech. Laughs and applause all round, and it was time for dinner.

Our table mates for the second dinner on board were equally as chatty as the first, and the menu again came up trumps, plus a top up of alcohol to accompany it.

Show time. Tonight it was four young singers called the Four D’s. They were really entertaining and sang a selection of songs of our era. We will be back for their second show later in the holiday.

We are settling into the atmosphere of Saga Pearl II and finding lots of good things. Contrary to many of the reviews I have seen about Saga cruises, it is not full of old people sleeping. The majority of the passengers are lively. Of course a few close their eyes occasionally, but no more than I have witnessed on P&O ships.

Anyway that is a quick catch up of the day. We were back in the cabin to get some sleep again before midnight, and the clocks were put forward an hour to match the time in Germany before our arrival in Bremerhaven in the morning.

My first experience of Saga Pearl II

We have been on board this small ship now for more than 24 hours, and having had a less than pleasant booking experience, things are improving.

Our journey from home was in a comfortable four mini-bus style van. Yes the driver was late arriving at our house, but almost everyone trying to find us has a problem. Anyway he drove smoothly and we were at Portsmouth ferry/cruise terminal before 2:00pm.

As we climbed out of our chauffer driven carriage, the porters were already unloading our cases. After a short discussion they looked up our cabin number and wrote it on the luggage labels. Finally we know our cabin number.

Check-in was smooth and in a handful of minutes we were out of the terminal on the ship side, awaiting a shuttle bus to the vessel.
Sitting on the bus waiting for it to fill took five minutes, and then we were whisked off around the harbour to the ship.

I think that it was less than 15 minutes from arrival at the port to walking into Saga Pearl II.

Our cabin was on the same level as the entry doors and we were shown to it by one of the smiling meet and greet team. Cabin 307 is an inside one and is comfortable big enough with lots of wardrobe and drawer space. The bathroom has a real shower cubicle with a closing door rather than a flapping curtain. The beds are in twin layout and perhaps not the biggest we have had, but perfectly OK.

The luggage had not appeared yet, so we went for an exploration of the ship. One flight of stairs up and we came to the Discovery Lounge where they were serving a buffet, and of course we made the most of some food. Sausage rolls, scones, and cakes were quickly consumed but the tea was less enjoyable with either full fat or totally skimmed milk. That was to prove an ongoing issue for Deb who cannot abide anything but semi-skimmed on the ships.

With tummies happy, we set off around the ship. We were on Promenade deck initially that has the lounge at the front that is the main venue. Going towards the stern we passed through Shackletons which is another lounge with a small stage area and bar plus lots of seating. Beyond that we found the main dining room, It has just one sitting in the evening from 6:45 to 9:45 where you can come when you like. It is a bit like freedom dining, but the tables are only used once. It really is a small ship with less than 500 passengers, but the venues are big enough for virtually everyone.

Having explored that deck, we went up one (well the only other real one actually) where we found the Veranda Buffet. This has 24 hour hot drinks as well as breakfast, lunch, and dinner servings.

Outside of this room is the swimming pool and sun lounging area. We took a quick look, but I doubt it will be used much on this cruise.
That was enough exploration for now so we returned to the cabin and unpacked the suitcases. Yes the cabin is smaller than we are used to, and it was a bit of “No after you” as we moved our clothes from case to wardrobe. The ceiling is obviously lower than usual, and one drawback of this was the air conditioning being closer to us, and quite noisy.

Next it was time for muster drill. Our assembly point was the Discovery Lounge, and it is so roomy that there were plenty of places to sit in comfort.

With the muster complete it was time to relax for a moment or two.
With dinner getting nearer, we had our showers, and put on some clean casual clothes. It was time for a drink, so we went to Shackletons for a glass of Prosecco. The prices are similar to those on P&O and possibly slightly cheaper. As we sat and chatted, the waiter put a little card on the table announcing a special cocktail hour from 6:00 until 7:00 where various Prosecco based cocktails were cheaper. So we had a second glass of fizz that cost us £1 less than our first glass.

This special hour was noted for the evenings to come.
Dinner time, and although the dining room had been open for 15 minutes, we were ushered to a table immediately. There were six of us on the table, and we spent the meal chatting comfortably while we ate our food. Personally I found the food was better than on P&O, but we all have different preferences. The service was wonderful, and the wine glasses were kept topped up (free) during the starter and main courses.

After multiple glasses of wine we merrily made our way to the Discovery Lounge for cabaret time. Initially there was some dancing where the ‘hosts’ danced with a favoured few women. I am no Fred Astaire, but these hosts were not the best dancers either.

The show started with the entertainment team being introduced before the show troupe (called Explosive) took to the floor. There were three singers and three dancers, including just a single male singer. There were all very good. The show was ‘Best of British’ which Deb and I believe should quietly fade away from the cruise ships. It has amused people since the end of the war in a similar way of all the British ships, and personally I think that maybe it is time to move on.

It was 10:30 by the time it finished, so we went up to the buffet for a cup of hot chocolate from the 24 hour self service drinks area. For the peckish, there were chocolate cookies as well. We chatted to tomorrow’s cabaret called ‘The Four D,s’ who are a singers, and they sound like something we will enjoy.

That was enough after a very long and tiring day, so it was time to go back to the cabin for a quick read before going to sleep.

So far our Saga cruise experience has been enjoyable with some positive thoughts, but maybe this particular ship is a little too small for me.

Test from Saga Pearl ll

If you can see this, it means Saga cruise ship internet is better than P&Os and it is free.

So far the ship is a pleasant experience, although being so small, makes it a little strange.

The food was excellent last night, and free wine very nice. Our dinner mates were very talkative, and included a retired sports journalist who had interviewed Muhammad Ali.

The sea this morning is a lttle bumpy, and our little ship is rolling around a bit, but this is what I expected from such a small vessel.

I will speak again soon.

It’s getting colder

It certainly feels as if it is getting very cold, or is it just because I am getting older and feeling it more.

Whatever the reason we have slowly cranked up the thermostat over the recent evenings to keep ourselves warm.

Never mind, we are going on holiday tomorrow morning.

If it all goes to plan, our chauffer driven limousine, will be picking us up at 10:05 (very accurate) and we will be driven to Portsmouth to board our ship.

OK, so it will probably be a taxi.

This will be the first time we have sailed with Saga cruises who will be taking us up to Germany for some Christmas Market magic.

Last week was rather busy, and since I last posted on here, we now have a new Electricity and Gas supplier, plus a different House Insurance.

We knew about the power company change, but I have to say the process was painless, and hopefully it will not be too much of an expensive change.

The house insurance swap was more of a surprise.

I called my previous company to advise them we would be going away for a long period in the Spring, but they said that since we have already used the empty house cover before, this time they would not cover us.

Slight panic set in.

I rang around and eventually was steered by one insurance company, who could not cover us, towards Saga again. They came up trumps with only a slightly more expensive premium because of the extended empty house cover.

… but, the policy did include home emergency cover, plus a boiler service, which actually made it cheaper than our old company.

Another drama was because of a major roof tile rattle in the last storm. We called in a roofing man who cheered us up today by saying there was nothing wrong up there.

… well except for a slight issue around our chimney that could do with some repairs.

We will think about that while we are away and make a decision when we return.

Last night, Deb and I, along with our neighbour Ken, won the pub’s monthly quiz. In fact, not only did we win the quiz, but we also won a bonus bottle of wine in the half time special round.

Ah well, that quiz glory is over, but at least we can forget insurance, power companies and roof issues for a few days now.

The suitcases are packed, cameras and phones charged, and Euros tucked away in our wallets.

Oh, and I have had my old age pensioner Christmas bonus of £10.

Now what shall I spend that on?

Free TV Licenses

I apologise if this post annoys or offends people, but this rant and rave is about something rather near to my heart.

One of the news items being announced this week is about television licenses.

In 2020, the government is stopping its subsidy to allow pensioners over the age of 75 to have a free Television license. Instead, the BBC has been asked to foot the cost of these free licenses.

Not surprisingly the BBC is not happy with this idea as it means a huge chunk of the revenue they get from the TV License will have to be spent giving freebies to the old.

Apparently the ‘Powers to be’ are also asking the BBC to focus on young listeners and viewers. So this means more programmes will presumably be more attractive to younger people. If the corporation has to subsidise the free over 75s licenses, there will less money to make programmes.

Running alongside this idea, a train of thought suggests that pensioners in this country are better off than young people, so why should they get free licenses.

Let me give you my thoughts as a pensioner (who pays for a license), and enjoys watching television.

Firstly, the quality and choice of television material on all the channels has gone down over the last couple decades. There are more repeats of all types of programmes, and sometimes a programme is repeated within the same week.

…and it could have already been a repeat of an older programme.

I enjoy a quiz show, but once again I am noticing that quite popular shows such as Pointless and The Chase are repeated. I recognise the contestants quite often, and the questions are rather familiar. I assume the television companies don’t think we take note of the date on the end credits that say when it was made.

or perhaps that is just an older person’s thing.

There are very few films on the free to air channels anymore. I remember a time when the BBC and ITV regularly showed full length films.

There seems to be a policy of cramming wall to wall soap operas, between over hyped reality shows, or fly on the wall series about every possible professional service. And then there are continual talent contests to find new celebrities, from which just a small percentage are still remembered after 12 months.

Hey, hang on there a cotton-picking minute. These programmes filling our schedules appear to already be targeted at the younger generation.

Add on the recent cluster of fringe TV channels where they show new wave alterative comedy shows. I am sorry but very few make me chuckle. In fact, I rarely understand what they are saying let alone where the humour is hiding.

Targeted at young people I believe.

To be honest I am surprised that very few people over 75 find anything they enjoy on the television, unless it is a nostalgic reminder of their lives when they were younger.

OK, let me turn to the idea that older people are financially comfortable.

Yes, Deb and I have a comfortable existence, but we are certainly not able to enjoy the lifestyle of the younger generation who spend more on a night in the pub, or a month’s subscription for their mobile phone, or Sky TV, than we can afford for several weeks of entertainment.

Worse still there are hundreds and thousands of older people who are not financially comfortable and have no option but to rely on their radio or television for entertainment. And many of these people are single and lonely. That free television license means they have something to enjoy on long, lonely nights.

The older generation are getting longer in retirement to enjoy themselves, but few are actually able to do anything really special, because it is too expensive.

For the people who say we have superb pensions, just realise that a pension is the only income that some people have.

There is no overtime, or cash bonus for Christmas.

They cannot pay for televisions the size of their living room wall.

They cannot afford the holidays that their grandchildren splash out on, and such holidays weren’t even available when they were young enough to have enjoyed one.

Before I am classed at someone who hates younger people, my rants and moans also apply to young single people and families who are working their socks off to exist on part time and zero contract slave jobs. I cannot envisage how hard and heart-breaking that must be.

It does look like there are groups of young people at one end of the population that are as badly off as the pensioners at the other end of life. Politicians say all the right words, and constantly suggest how they will improve life for everyone, but nothing ever happens. The young poor, and the older poor, are ignored.

Strange as it might seem, I am sure that if the struggling youngsters were paid a proper living wage, and the care services for the elderly were centrally invested in, there would be less stress on hospitals, and almost certainly less mental or depression-based issues eating the National Health budgets.

Statements from ministers assure us that more people are in work, and the average pay rise is higher than it has been for many years, and the standard of living is improving.

There is a flaw with this statement.

Yes, the majority of people in this country are quite well paid, and are enjoying good increases in their salaries. But when they have a ‘2% pay-rise’, that is 2% of a salary which is significantly higher than a state pension, or ‘living wage’ minimum earnings.

I look back, with a smile on my face, to a time when someone was paid a wage that was the same for all workers doing that same job. Each year there was a pay rise of a sum of money, and everyone knew how that stacked up against the cost of living.

e.g. we are spending £3 a week more this year, and we have received a £3.50 a week pay rise.

Now virtually every worker has different salaries that are kept secret. The workforce in a factory might get a 2% pay rise that could appear to be above the rate of inflation. But 2% of £40,000 is £800 per year, while 2% of £17500 (national minimum wage) is just £350, or 2% of £8500 (maximum state pension) is £170.

The cost of food, housing, transport, and entertainment is rising at the same cost for everyone.

Hey, and for a basic pensioner, that £170 annual pay rise would just cover the current television license fee.

This TV License topic is just the latest idea to ‘bash’ those people (young and old) who struggle financially.

The lowest possible measure of rate of inflation is used to calculate pension or benefit increases.

Governments hide behind the curtain of comfort, and pretend not to notice the hundreds of young and old people using soup kitchens, overnight refuges, or food banks. These invisible people are an embarrassment to political messages of success and comfort.

Britain is supposed to be a wealthy, and caring nation. Sadly, this only applies to the pictures and videos of busy highstreets, well dressed bankers and stockbrokers, pubs and clubs full of binge drinkers, and an increasing number of millionaires.

Politicians shut small local hospitals because it is more efficient to have a giant hospital in a central position with superb services. They can perform miracles for sick and injured patients, but they are not economically efficient for hundreds and thousands of mental strugglers, or old people with minor ailments that take longer to repair.

Those forgotten local hospitals with less of the senior consultants, and smaller teams of nurses, used to look after those older people.

We had institutions (horrible name) where depressed, stressed, and mentally poorly people could be looked after.

We had care homes for the long-term elderly that were not used as a profit earner for private or corporate owners.

Remember that state pension of £8500 a year? That will typically pay for about 4 months of care in these places.

I fear for my future. Who will pay for me or my wife if we have to go into care?

Power Shock

We are coming to the end of a 12 month fixed price contract with our electric and gas supplier. For the last 12 months we have had a very good deal, but with the fixed price contract nearing its end, I took a look at what else was on offer.

On Monday I spent a couple of hours creating an excel spreadsheet to let me compare various possible suppliers, and entering data from some of the numerous comparison sites. I had just about decided on a company to use, but this morning I returned to my challenge and checked some other suppliers.

The process requires various bits of information to be entered on their web sites. As I typed in our current provider, a message popped up to say that this company had ceased trading.

Aaggh!

After a quick check on a news site, I got confirmation that ‘Extra Energy’ had indeed ceased trading. There was also a message to say that we should not panic as Ofgem will sort out a new supplier to take over our contract.

We wouldn’t be cut off, and I don’t have to find a new supplier myself.

Apparently ‘Extra Energy’ is the sixth power utility company to cease trading this year.

So perhaps a warning for anyone else about to change suppliers to get a good deal. Be careful if you choose the cheapest, as you might have surprise in a few months time, just like us.