Sunday, 28 April 2019

Climate crisis

Person Holding World Globe Facing Mountain

You can hardly ever turn the TV on recently without seeing or hearing about demonstrations in respect of climate change. World seminars, documentaries and international agreements.  We hear about the climate heating up, the fact we are using up the earth's resources too quickly etc.  Anyone driving a fuel hungry car is chastised and being taxed to the hilt and in many cases governments are subsidising replacing resource guzzling equipment.

Yet NO-ONE is challenging the massive use of resources used to run the worlds advertising boards, lights etc.  We would find it hard to live without heating in the western world, hard not to be able to travel etc. but we can live without brightly lit adverting hoardings, shop fascias and blinding internal lighting. During the fuel crisis in the early 70's in the UK retailers were told to remove every other fluorescent lighting tube, to disconnect all  illuminated advertising signs and many other energy saving measures were introduced.  A massive saving can be made if world leaders were to consider the banning of unnecessary lighting alone......

Now let me guess why they don't!   Ah yes, there would be less income for energy producing companies, that means less tax paid to governments. Far easier to just tax the people and raise even more income......Are they REALLY interested in climate change ?

Saturday, 30 March 2019


It has been quite sometime since I last typed a blog and more than "a lot" has happened.  As many of you know I live most of the time in France after retiring from work in the U.K., and part of the year in Greece.  Over the years I have travelled extensively in Europe, mainly by car so have experienced many cultures.

So what has prompted me to write this blog?  B R E X I T......

Sadly mainly by frustration with people who continually say and think because I live in Europe Brexit will not effect me.  Well how wrong they are!

To start with even after paying the U.K. national insurance & taxes all my working life Brexit could mean my state pension could become frozen, that is what I get now may never be indexed linked to match inflation. It could stay the same amount for the rest of my life......

I will not be able to legally be resident in another EU country without formal application to live there.

My health care (which again I paid for all my working life in the UK by NI contributions could be taken away from me, and I may have to pay for private health insurance, that currently can cost well in excess of £350 per month !

Even dogs gets affected by Brexit as they need a blood test if they travel to the UK and then return to mainland Europe....(truthfully in my dogs case she has a Greek Pet Passport so will be OK as she had the test some years back)

So how did I vote in the referendum, well you can guess how I would have voted if the local authority had posted my election papers on fact they came too late for me to be able to post them back in time for the deadline!!!!!!
What is more I have spoken to many people in France, Spain and Greece that had the same thing happen.  A fair referendum?  I think not!

Saturday, 5 September 2015


Time after time we are hearing about these poor refugees on TV, radio etc. and yes one has to have a concern about their well-being.  However give a thought to the actions of our ancestors.  Did they flee from war?  NO they fought for their country, to make it a safe country for their descendants.  So safe others now see it as the "place to be".

Ask yourself the question why are all these young men capable of military service leaving their country, leaving their families etc. and not fighting to make their country a better place for their descendants?  Perhaps part of the solution to the current situation is for Western governments to place those capable into military service, train them to fight and help them return to fight for the freedom of their own country from tyranny. Fight to make their country safe for their dependants and descendants. 

These actions would also immediately stop the flow of economic migrants, the thought of being placed in the military would not be that appealing would it?

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Come on holiday

As another tourist season is well and truly under-way on mainland Greece and it's islands there is of course hope by the local communities the season will bring "big spenders".  With the Euro exchange rate against other foreign currencies at a 7 year high Greece needs all the tourist income it can gain to offset it's massive "imbalance" in the economic balance of trade and indeed it's massive EU debts.  However the Greek Tourist Board seem to be doing very little to help win the tourists, is this because there is no money for advertising, or just plain lethargy?

Few places in Europe can offer the brilliant blue sea and unspoilt beaches Greece can offer, if partying is your thing some of the island resorts may be your ideal location. If you want peace and quiet, then again the choice is massive.

Do not let the political situation in Greece put you off coming to this magnificent country for your holidays, this will not effect you as a tourist and your support for the local people who have business in tourist resorts will make all the difference!

Friday, 1 August 2014

UK retail scene...

Having spent quite a lot of time away from the UK over the last few years and having retired from the retail grocery trade some 6 years ago I decided to take a closer look at the current supermarket trade that appears to be going through a difficult time.

The grocery trade has seen difficult times before, in the mid 70's discount stores like Kwik Save & Lo-Cost rapidly grew at the expense of the mid market and upper end supermarkets. So the rise of Lidl & Aldi today should be no surprise for the "big four". The problem is memories are too short, and of course many true grocers from those early days have long since retired. 

So is this just a repetition of those early days?

Well truthfully, yes and no.........certainly interest rates are a fraction of what they were in the 70's. Yes unemployment is high, yes money is tight (isn't it always) and yes people are more demanding.  However the question must be asked have the modern day supermarkets (the big four) lost their way?

I am more inclined to answer a   B I G   yes to the last question.

Tesco built its early growth on a "pile it high, sell it cheap" philosophy, in later years growth was through expansion both at home and overseas, now instead of being satisfied at being a leader in the "middle market" it is trying to be all things to all people. Consumers do not need to see Tesco store staff dressed in fancy dress costumes "making shopping fun" and being told to raise money for charity.  Staff "forced" to make idle conversation so you "feel" welcome.....what most consumers want is choice on the shelves (not just the current trend of 75% Tesco own brand that make higher profit margins), good prices across the whole retail shop (not just special offers on demand lines, and massive mark ups on toiletries and less price obvious items) and quick, efficient service.

Morrisons also have moved away from its true roots, whilst early Safeway trading practices were sound and solid, latter year Safeway policies and customer facing practices faltered. Ironically Morrisons seems to have been enveloped in those latter year practises.  I have little time for Ken Morrison but he was a "grocer" and knew how to watch the "pennies" with a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach to trading.

Sainsbury still take the approach that they will allow you to shop with them and who can afford to do a whole weeks shop in Waitrose?

Is it any wonder "Joe Public" are voting with their feet and walking to Lidl & Aldi?  Frustrated as it can be with queues at the checkout all too often, but there is a fine balance between price-variety-service. The two main discounters are on the whole clean and simple stores, no frills, no pretence to be something they are not but just offer an acceptable product for an acceptable price.  Now if they can address those checkout queues currently I see no limit on what they can achieve in the UK.

Let us now look at food producers, have you noticed not just how prices are increasing, but in many, many instances how weight of items has been reduced. Compare for yourself, one example is the now 190gm jar of coffee that has always been 200gm (think this was Dowe Egberts, but I stand corrected). The biscuits that drop to 185gm instead of 200gm and so on. Look closely, you will be amazed and I am not even mentioning the quality of some supermarket own label items that have greatly deteriorated, especially in the processed food and ready to eat ranges.

Net margins in the 70's were as low as 2-3% in some cases, now its in double figures and of course shareholders want more.

So to use another catch phrase, come retailers.....GET BACK TO BASICS.

Simple, well stocked shelves......Two brand leaders and one own label of any item only......find out what the customer wants, not what buyers think should be stocked.....efficient checkout service.....a basic greeting not a life story or the Spanish inquisition from staff.....concentrate on YOUR role to provide food not sponsorship or fund raising in your stores.....a fair price and quality across the whole range of goods stocked, not high / low prices....

because if you don't it will definitely be:-

 Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, Über alles in U.K

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Road tolls and FREE Britain

Come to Britain and drive on our roads FOR FREE for up to 6 months in your European car.......It never fails to amaze me why the UK government have not imposed a road toll tax on foreign vehicles that enter at our ports. Certainly an easy way to raise funds for the Exchequer. 

I have just driven through Italy from Bari and entering France through the Frejus Tunnel the toll costs added up to 186 Euros !!!  Of course on top of that I have French toll road fees also. 

Come on Mr Cameron, reduce some of our taxes...and introduce boarder fees on foreign vehicles......