Angela Merkel is NOT to blame for the Berlin terror attack

Berlin terror attack angela merkel

It was just a matter of hours after the terrorist attacks in Berlin before the press and right-wing activists started pointing the finger at Angela Merkel and her Government.

The accusation was that the terrorist attack which rocked Berlin were caused by Mrs Merkel’s efforts to house around 900,000 refugees in 2015. Opponents were quick to jump on the bandwagon and suggest that those who died in Berlin did so as a direct result of her policies.

Incredulous, of course. How do stricter border controls stop a brain-washed nutcase from driving a truck into a crowd of innocent people?

It was always possible that such an attack could have been carried out by a German born fanatic. After all, there have been plenty of people born in non-Islamic countries who have converted to the religion and later gone on to commit acts of terrorism. So to blame the attacked so simply on immigration is trite and flawed.


Dark times ahead for German politics

Right-wing parties in Germany immediately seized the opportunity to use the Berlin attacks as a way of confirming their views that migrants should be banned from the country.

The leader of the AfD Party (Alternative für Deutschland) , Frauke Petry, accused the German Government of mistaking humanity for political correctness just hours after the bodies of the 12 dead were being put into refrigerators in the morgue. Petry was on a rampage to insure that she used the opportunity as a way to instill more hatred of migrants and asylum seekers.


The beautiful city of Berlin mustn’t let terrorism turn it to hate

Anyone who has ever visited Berlin knows what a beautiful city it is and there’s much more to Berlin and Berliners than just buildings and people. Berlin is the city of hope and liberalism for the German people. In fact, Berlin might just be the city of hope for the whole of Europe.

Berlin conquered the divide of the Wall. It must now continue to conquer the divide of terrorism.







Ireland Commercial Register Scam

The Ireland Commercial Register Scam is just the latest in a long line of scams targetting businesses. It attempts to con unsuspecting business owners and sole traders for €993. It is a copy of other scam letter just like it such as the Commercial Register, the Scottish Commercial Register and the England Commercial Register.

If you read into the comments of the aforementioned scams, you’ll see that the company behind it call themself Direct Publisher S.L.U and are based in Madrid. However, the letter usually has a French postmark on it.

The letter is made to look official and gives the impression that it is linked to or affiliated with the Irish Government. It isn’t.

Don’t pay – just file it in the bin

I strongly recommend that you don’t pay or converse with the Ireland Commercial Register in any way. Just throw the letter in the bin where it belongs along with all the other rubbish.


Using brake cleaner to save a mobile phone from salt water

Using brake cleaner to save a mobile phone from salt water

First of all, I need to be very clear about this: if you do use brake cleaner to attempt to save a broken mobile phone you do it at your own risk. Whilst it worked for me, it may not work for you. I take absolutely no responsibility if you decide to try this yourself ad it kills your phone forever. It should be done as a last resort.

Now we’ve got the disclaimer out of the way, his my story. My son had a Samsung mobile phone and whilst at the beach with his friends decided to film them all playing at the water’s edge. Not his finest hour. The inevitable happened and his phone got full of salt water. It stopped working, and by the time he got home it was completely dead.


The problem

Salt water and electronic devices are a bad mix. I knew that drying the phone out would only result in salt eventually corroding the electronics and the PCB and the changes of saving this phone were very slim. In short, I had nothing to lose by trying to fix it myself other than the cash for buying a replacement.

Using brake cleaner to save a mobile phone from salt water

I work in a garage, so decided I was going to do two things. The first was to blow the phone over with a compressed airline to remove any excess water. The second was to spray the phone with vehicle brake cleaner (we use this one at our garage) in an attempt to dissolve and remove the salt and hopefully also aid the evaporation of any remaining water.

Brake cleaner is generally made up of quick drying solvents which degrease and clean as they go. It was worth a shot. I had decided on Using brake cleaner to save a mobile phone and it was time to do it.


The initial result

Initially, things weren’t looking good. Although the battery was still out of the handset, the display had become discoloured. I could see that the phone was by no means dry so decided to place it in direct sunlight for a couple of hours (it was a very warm summers day).

I placed the phone on top of a car in the carpark and basically let the sun roast it for a couple of hours. That’s probably against the rulebook for mobile phone care but I didn’t really have much option now.


It worked!

After a couple of hours I replaced the battery and switched on the phone. To my astonishment it worked. The touch screen was fine as were all the buttons.

I don’t know if it was luck, or the air, or what. Nevertheless, the phone has been working for 4 months now without the hint of a problem.


And on that bombshell…

If you decide that using brake cleaner to save a mobile phone is the way to go, you do so at your own risk. Don’t blame me if it goes terribly, terribly wrong!

Setting Rules for Grandparents

Setting rules for grandparents can be a difficult (but often necessary) task. Grandparents are often more relaxed with boundaries than they were with their own children, and the rules that applied to you as a child may not be translating to your own children by Nanny and Granddad.

The problem with setting rules is that without gentle approach and appropriate discussion, tensions can develop between parents and grandparents resulting in misunderstanding, tension, and sometimes even arguments.


Set boundaries early

It’s important that you set boundaries early on to define your rules clearly. If you don’t allow your children to eat a certain food or carry out a particular activity, make it clear from the beginning.

For example, if you only allow your children to eat organic food then your parents should respect that decision. Just make sure that you provide the food for them – there’s no reason that should be expected to pay for your expensive decisions.

It’s at this point when it may be necessary to acknowledge the advice of grandparents, but at the same time nip it in the bud. Rather than dismissing their advice out of hand, perhaps saying something like “thanks for the idea, Mum. I’ll have a think about it” or “we have already discussed that Dad, but decided it’s not the way we want to go forward”. Be firm, but tactful.


Prepare to be flexible when setting rules for grandparents

You can’t expect to ask your parents to look after your children without being a little flexible. One of the reasons that children form such strong boundaries with their grandchildren is that grandparents are allowed to be a little less strict than mum or dad. Even a little twist of a rule can make grandparents more fun, but never-the-less when setting rules for grandparents they should be respected.

Thousands of grandparents now take the place of babysitters on a daily basis. Don’t expect your parents to look after your child – for free – and then expect to treat them as a childminder. That’s unfair and will eventually result in arguments.


Grandparents are allowed to spoil their grandchildren once in a while

No one wants their child to grow up to be spoilt, but it’s a grandparent’s prerogative to spoil their grandchildren every now and then. It may be that they allow your child to have that bar of chocolate before bed against your usual rule-set, or let them have hot chocolate for breakfast. Accept this as being what makes being with grandparents that little more fun than being stuck at home in the daily routine with mum and dad.


Stand your ground

There will be times when you have to enforce your rules, and that’s OK. I can think of a couple of occasions where my own mother has gone ‘too far’ with stretching the rules and my partner and I have had to take this up.

It’s never easy to have this conversation without feeling a little guilty, but it’s ultimately important that you do before things boil over into a huge row.


Remember your parents have done this before!

It’s easy to get stuck in your own little world of routines and rules, but remember that your parents have been here before. They raised you, afterall!

Accept that they have experience in most matters of bringing up a child and value their opinion. You don’t have to do everything they suggest, but you may find that listening to what they have to say will help you.

Setting rules for grandparents should be about fair and clear boundaries, not being a dictator.

Tread carefully around your in-laws

However close (or not!) that you are to your in-laws, the chances are that it’s likely you’re not as close to them as your other half. It’s therefore vital that you exercise caution when speaking about your concerns as this may be viewed as a criticism. It may therefore be necessary for you to ask your partner to approach them with any concerns rather than doing it yourself.

Lego Mindstorms EV3: your Child’s first route into Robotics

Lego Mindstorms EV3

With our World becoming increasingly autonomous, it’s not a case of if robots will take over many of our day-to-day tasks, but when. Now the people at Lego have come up with a real-life way for children to build, program and control their own robots at home. Lego Mindstorms EV3 is set to be your Child’s first route into Robotics.

How I was introduced to Lego Mindstorms EV3

In 2016 I was invited to Colchester Royal Grammar School for an open day, and would eventually see these strange little robots walking around a large table. I enquired as to what they were and a very enthusiastic design and technology teacher gave me a tour. These little robots were built from Lego and had a completely programmable control ‘brick’ attached.

Sensors included touch, colour, and infra-red, meaning the robots could be programmed to follow colours, avoid obstacles and become ‘aware’ of their surroundings. To be blunt, there were the dogs wotsits. Very cool indeed and my 11 year old son though exactly the same.

Lego Club

We discovered that there was a Lego Club at the school, where students could learn to build and program the robots. This was done using a PC or tablet computer and ultilising the various sensors on the robot. During the Lego Club, the students would need to command the robot to carry out various tasks, such as releasing a model spaceship from a docking station and transporting other items. This would need to be done completely automatically and would eventually result in a national competition against other schools and groups.

The future of engineering

Whether we like it or not, the next generation of engineers are likely to be required to understand and program robots. The world needs more engineers and programmers. Lego Mindstorms is an intuitive ‘toy’ which will provide out young people with the basic skills to allow them to progress into serious robotics in the future.

Lego Mindstorms EV3 really does appeal to all ages from 10 to 100. If you can build with Lego, and understand basic programming, you can build your own robot at home.

The birth of the Terminator is upon us…


Lego Mindstorms EV3 has been priced from around £200 to £300, which may sound expensive. However, once you’ve seen how intuitive the system is and the types of robots that can be constructed, you’ll be hooked. I know I was.

Amazon currently have some good deals for this product. Check them out here.

Repair Cafés – now there’s even less reason to throw something away

Repair Cafe

Manufacturers are deliberately making household items have a limited lifespan. The reason? To make you buy more. But now there’s a new method of saving this items from the scrapyard: Repair Cafés.

Repair Cafés originated in Amsterdam-West and bring professionals and amateurs together to fix things which would normally be thrown out. From Xbox remote controls to Microwave vans, if it can be fixed, it will be.

How Repair Cafés work

Free Repair Cafés are usually advertised in advance and may be held at a local school, community hall and even church. Professionals such as engineers and electricians volunteer their time to help people repair broken items where possible.

The tools are usually provided at the sessions (people are also encouraged to bring their own).

Coordinators will usually match volunteers and members to ensure that people are paired to the correct person to help them.

What can be repaired at a Repair Café?

Well, that’s up to you! Pretty much anything can be repaired including car parts, lamps, computer equipment, boiler parts, TV’s, pretty much anything.

In fact, one Repair Café in Palo Alto, California, claim that there repair rate is around 70% with over 2.000 items being tackled to date.

Teaching new skills

As well as repairing items, Repair Cafés work to help teach people new skills such as how to solder and how to use a multimeter. The can also help to improve problem-solving skills.

Social cohesion

By bringing together different people with different backgrounds, experiences and ages, Repair Cafés help to form social cohesion, especially when they are conducted in local communities.

In addition, the cafés help to instil a feeling of satisfaction and pride.

Helping the environment

Waste is one of the biggest issues facing mankind. The fact is that dispute increased in recycling across the Western world, we still throw far too much away on a global level.

Not only do we throw to much away, but the waste can often end up in poorer countries, polluting waterways and damaging the people who are forced to informally recycle the waste to pay for food. It is not uncommon in poorer countries for people to be put at risk of mercury poisoning and some forms of cancer from the chemicals and gases released during informal recycling.

Where can I find out more about Repair Cafés in my area?

Repair Cafés are a relatively new concept in the UK and events are still very limited. As more people become aware of these events the numbers are expected to increase.

Maybe one day I’ll put together a free website for people to advertise their sessions…if you think this would be worthwhile then get in touch. With enough interest I’d be happy to oblige.

Asia Delight, Chinese takeaway delivery, Colchester

Asia Delight Chinese food takeaway re-opened in 2016 with new owners and a new menu. The restaurant has had a makeover with the reception area now much more cleaner and with nice new seats. It offers takeaway only.

The company can be contacted on 01206 548881.

Asia Delight deliver within a 3 mile area (or for a small fee over 3 miles).

The restaurant can be found at: 9 The Parade, Queen Elizabeth Way, Colchester, CO2 8LY.

5 out of 5 food hygiene rating

At the time of writing, Asia Delight had been awarded a 5 out of 5 rating on food hygiene.

My rating

The new takeaway has improved considerably since it re-opened. The previous owners were somewhat rude but the new owners seem much more friendly. The quality of the food has also improved and the new management have clearly made an effort to improve the cleanliness and hygiene of the business.

Recommended dishes

I recommend the lamb and ginger with spring onion (49a) and also the Happy Family (44b)


You can view Asia Delight’s menu below (click the image to make it bigger):

Lack of GP appointments, yet even more homes coming to Colchester

It seems peculiar at the time of the announcement of more homes coming to Colchester, GP practices are already struggling to provide appointments; and there seems little planning is being made for extra provision any time soon.

Most doctors surgeries in Colchester now offer a ‘same day only’ appointment system. Patients are expected to call in the morning that they want an appointment and almost no surgeries will offer an appointment for the next day. Booking an appointment in advance can be very difficult, and patients are often palmed off on a nurse practitioner. If the practice runs out of slots, it leaves the patient either waiting on the emergency list, waiting for hours in the surgery to see the emergency doctor, or being sent to the Walk-in Centre.

Many GP Practices admit that they are struggling to recruit enough doctors to see patients and the GP’s that are working are under extreme pressure to get their patients in and out as quickly as possible. This increases the risk of mistakes being made or a diagnoses being missed completely.

Meanwhile, Essex County Council plan to build 2000 homes on Middlewick Ranges, as well as building a completely new town on the outside of Marks Tey which could having as many as 14,000 homes.

Walk In Centre and Accident & Emergency already under huge pressure

Once a patient is declined an appointment it leaves them with very little choice other than go to the Walk In centre. In some cases, the patient may go to A&E.

In many cases, both of these services would be under less pressure if the patient could see a doctor at their own practice. In fact, patients are being turned away from Colchester A&E meaning the Walk In centre is the only place for them to go.

Lack of Infrastructure

Asked anyone who lives in Colchester about the traffic, and you’ll almost certainly receive nothing but complaints. The same can be said for GP appointments where there seems to be a huge contrast in the availability of appointments (and this appears to vary depending on what area of the town you live in).

The problem with Colchester is that new and updated infrastructure never seems to follow the thousands of houses being built. The Praecedo estate saw hundreds of new homes built on former garrison land but no new GP surgery. The local primary school – St John’s Green – did get a new campus. However, this was for a school that was already bursting at the seams prior to completion of Praecedo and which has since had to apply for planning permission for a two-storey extension just two years after opening.

Of course, the problem with the lack of GP appointments is a more deep routed. General Practitioners have been under attacked by the Conservative Government. Just like teaching, people are leaving the medical profession in the droves due to the constant attack from the Government. Building new GP surgeries is one thing: providing suitable staff is quite another.

Colchester is close to bursting

Of course new homes are needed for our growing and ageing population. Unfortunately it feels as if Colchester is being forced to take more than it’s fair share of growth. Thousands of new homes have popped up all over the town including Copford, Stanway, Turner Rise, Severalls and now Middlewick.

It seems Colchester is destined to turn from a Market Town to a sprawling city, and I find this very sad.

Would you pay £10 to see a GP?

Would you pay £10 to see a GP?

Front-line NHS services are struggling and seeing a doctor is more difficult than ever, so would you pay £10 to see a GP?

This is just one of the many suggestions that has been put forward recently in an attempt to reduce pressure of vital front line NHS resources and raise money for the underfunded service.

Many people are understandably against paying £10 to see a GP. After all, when the NHS was created it was supposed to be free at the point of delivery. However, others already pay to see a dentist and some experts are arguing that people who are better off should pay for basic services.

Means tested NHS

The problem with asking those who ‘can afford it’ to pay to see a GP is that society begins to slide down a slippery slope of means testing use of the NHS. This could be an expensive and bureaucratic process for a service already under pressure from existing rules and regulations.

A free NHS is something to be proud of

Expecting people to pay £10 to see a GP means that the privatisation of the NHS would have commenced and it would open the floodgates for more areas to be privatised.

Our NHS must remain free – it’s the world leading example in how free healthcare should be.

Give tax breaks to those who pay for private healthcare

The lucky amongst us can afford to pay for private healthcare. Of course, the more people who pay for private healthcare the less stress their is on the NHS.

However, private healthcare is very expensive. Perhaps one answer would be to offer some sort of tax relief for those people who pay for their own healthcare? Private healthcare is already exempt from VAT but perhaps it would be more useful to offer another incentive.

Something needs to be done

The fact is that many NHS services in the UK are under pressure and something needs to be done to protect it. It is becoming increasingly common for people to say that they are unable to see a GP and A&E departments across the UK are complaining that they simply can’t cope with the pressure.

Perhaps asking people to pay £10 to see their GP would deter the time-wasters (no need to go to the doctor if you have a cold), whilst at the same time help increase funding for the NHS and recruit more trained staff.

Best Free Accountancy Software: Quickfile

Best free accountancy software

In 2015 I took over the bookings for my local Scout Centre and I needed some free software to help with the book keeping aspect of this voluntary role. Funds were limited and Sage was just too expensive, so I began my search for the best free accountancy software.

After reading many reviews and trying a few different free programs, I discovered Quickfile. Quickfile is a very powerful and feature-rich application.  Cloud-based, it allows access for multiple users and can deal with VAT.

Customised invoices

Even the free version of Quickfile allows you to customer your invoices. You can include your logo, add or remove the option to charge VAT, add your address and all manner of other customisable features.

Automated Recurring Invoicing

One of the features I love about Quickfile is that it can send automated invoices. I have different groups using the Scout Centre for clubs and most pay the same amount per month. The automated invoicing aspect of Quickfile means that I can set up a recurring invoice and it will be automatically emailed to that specific group without me needing to do anything.

Emailed invoices

Quickfile allows users to send invoices direct to an email address. So there’s no need to print of and post and invoice and no need to save and attach it to an email. As long as you have an email address in the system for your customer, Quickfile will send it straight to that person as a link or PDF attachment (or both). This cuts down my admin considerably.

Customer area

Another feature of Quickfile is that it allows you to create a customer area, where your clients can login and see all of their current and previous invoices. They can also see payment history (subject to you ensuring that you have reconciled payments).

Attach files to invoice

Quckfile is so powerful that it even allows you to attached PDF files to invoices. This is great if you want to send a personal letter, a report or additional instructions with your invoice.

Why we say Quickfile is the best free Accountancy Software

The massive features within Quickfile makes it an extremely powerful application. Even the free version allows use of almost all of the features and for a small business or charity it really is the best free accountancy software.

I can only touch on a few of the features of this accountancy software, but others include:

  • Profit and Loss (P&L) reports
  • Debtor reports
  • Creditor reports
  • VAT returns
  • Companies House reports
  • Banking
  • Receipt storage
  • and many more…

You really need to see it to believe it and I still can’t believe that I’m able to utilise such a power application for gratis and this options available really do make this the strongest contender for the best free accountancy software.

Perfect accountancy software for a charity

Quickfile’s free options means that most small charities can use the system completely free of charge every year. I’ve used it myself now for almost a year and I really can’t wax lyrical any heavier than I have already.

Free for small businesses and charities

Quickfile offers a completely free membership for small businesses and charities, allowing up to 500 nominal transactions per annum completely free of charge. Check out the Quickfile pricing structure.