Sunday, 1 February 2015

When Loyalty Doesn't Pay

Loyalty is one of the traits I with which I was fortunate enough to be born.

I tend to be loyal and I tend to assume loyalty in return.

One thing, however, that does its best to try and keep destroying my faith in that quality is big business where loyalty is demanded (though bribery, loyalty schemes and so on) but not earned. And therein lies the crux: loyalty has to be earned.

I know that what I am about to say is reasonably well known and, indeed I blogged about insurance fair deals a few years ago and suggested shopping around each renewal. Of course I've never taken my own advice: the principal reason being that I'm in NZ when my principal policies coe up for renewal.

Anyway my latest irritation stems from my house insurance renewal. This year the sum came in at just under £1400. My house is a modest pad in an extremely safe part of the world from almost every point of view. I got fed up and went to a very reputable insurer which gets great plaudits from consumers. They wanted £550 for similar cover. No contest there then. What's more there is a linked price rise guarantee so I won't suddenly find myself in year 2 with a huge hike in premium.

Now it looks like I'll be able to go to another reputable insurer and more than halve my car insurance premium.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Stopping Nuisance Calls

I recall many years ago how my Mother worried about telephone calls which she answered but where the person had rung off or didn't speak. Even then cold sales calls were common and a considerable irritation.  I think I disliked the people who made them to an irrational degree because they upset my Mother so much. She couldn't believe that sales people could be so thoughtless and so believed that they were trying to see if anyone was in the house so that they could burgle it. 

Until recently I received many such calls each day on my landline. I could have barred international and withheld calls but many of my legitimate calls are international and some friends have withheld numbers. 

Now I have solved the problem with one of the best gadgets that I have ever bought : the BT 8500 phone with Call Guardian which, for numbers not in your address book, enables you to hear who’s calling before you answer, and block those nuisance calls. As nuisance callers never leave a name and are often automated anyway they never even ring out. Brilliant.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Thankful Thursday

Despite hurricane force winds, torrential rains and even some frosts (unusual for this house because it's so close to the sea) these two Snowdrops have decided that it is spring.  Such optimism and such a positive attitude reminded me that it's been a while since I wrote a Thankful Thursday post. 

To be honest I've found it very hard in the moments (and there are many of them) when my mind finds itself on the other side of the world: I miss The Family and my friends and croquet and The Handbag. So much is happening there but perhaps most of all I miss seeing Catriona and Fraser grow from childhood through their early teenage years.

At Seilabost 2010 - Fraser doing what Fraser does!
Catriona being Catriona - 2010
Fun in the Lews Castle grounds - 2010
Catriona being impish - 2010
So I concentrate on the Good Things I have experienced this winter: seeing more of my friends here  on Lewis and in Scotland; going to concerts in Glasgow (something I haven't done regularly since I left Cheshire in the early '70s); seeing my garden through the winter and knowing that I will be able to do things in the garden in the early spring that I haven't done for a decade.

And I will see daffodils: mine are already showing their shoots through the ground all over the garden.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Buy Locally

Last year I was travelling through the Highlands when I stopped in a little town that I hadn’t been in for many years. I had a little walk and came across a rather twee little gift shop with a notice in the window exhorting people to buy locally or lose the local facilities.

I had a good look at what was on offer wondering just how much of it was from the area or from Scotland or, indeed, even from the UK. The answer was virtually nothing obvious. It was almost all from low cost/income economies such as Bangladesh and China.

This got me thinking in the wider context. In Napier, New Zealand, I am used to fresh food in season. For the most part greengrocery comes from New Zealand and as locally as possible to the point of sale. Fortunately New Zealand has a climate such that many more fresh foods can be grown and for longer periods than in the UK. Of course many foods such as apples and potatoes can also be stored for eating all year round. I got used to eating things in season and still find it strange that in Stornoway I can buy anything at all all the year round: it is just sourced from wherever it is available and transported often half way around the world. The exception is water melons!

We want to be green. We want the people of Bangladesh and such countries to have better working conditions. We also want food (and everything else) to be available all the year round and not to pay a true market price for it (food is, I believe, often substantially subsidised by the EU i.e. by our taxes) or, in the case of clothes, a price which would allow companies from whom we buy things to insist on good working conditions for suppliers’ workers.

I’d love to support the ideals in the words at the top of this post. Will I ever have that opportunity? History would tend to suggest not.