This week's throwback Thursday takes us back nine years, with a post from 30 November 2008.
It has been a cold week. I think we have been down to about -4°C, maybe lower, as I don’t have a working sensor to record outside temperature overnight. We have had rain, snow and, a couple of times, quite high winds. It hasn’t been a week for doing a load of outside stuff.
We continue to keep an eye on Sterling – not that there is anything we can do about it. When we first came here, £100 would buy us almost 150€ (we can usually get about 2c below the official rate). At one point last week, it was struggling to buy us 115€. In real terms, as we are paid in sterling and have to buy Euros with it, that represents a pay cut of almost twenty-five percent in two and a half years. And that mostly thanks to a combination of four things (in no particular order):
- Irresponsible lending in the US encouraged by their government
- Irresponsible lending in the UK
- Irresponsible borrowing and spending by McBroon and his cohorts and
- Irresponsible, selfish and aggressive tactics by grossly overpaid financial speculators
Add to those factors that the UK now actually makes next to nothing and bases its economy mostly on these nebulous ‘services’ that are largely the cause of the problem, and I wonder where we could end up. Is there, perhaps, an unspoken determination to bring the Pound to parity with the Euro to make it easier for the UK to join the common currency? Is that, perhaps, one of McBroon’s famous five tests (of which nothing has been heard for some time)?
Each Sunday morning, before starting to compose the blog entry, I look at two things to bring to mind what has happened during the preceding seven days. I look at email, sent and received, and I look in my photo management database. During the last seven days, it seems I have not used a camera in anger and there is little of great moment in any of the mail folders.
Not that I have been idle – having now received all that I need to get my TESOL studies under way, that is becoming an important part of my day. French lessons are going well – although we have only just started, we both get on well with the teacher and are finding the lessons helpful. It is also particularly helpful to me to be taking language lessons whilst I start learning how to give them! Dance lessons are also going well, and progress with the fiddle is, as expected, slow but steady (or is that slow but slow?).
The moves toward getting the revamped web site for the Trust are progressing nicely, and we hope that the new format will make it more visually appealing as well as easier to navigate. The very large section of the current site that gives detailed information about over 200 species of birds of prey will not feature in the new site. When we started it in 1996 it was something that was hardly being done anywhere else. Today there are many sites, mostly better funded and well staffed and including a a number of University sites, that are, frankly, doing it better and are better at keeping it up to date. That section served a very useful purpose and won the site a number of awards and a lot of accolade, but it has now run its course and the site will switch to its primary aims of promoting the Trust as a conservation and research body, and promoting it as an attraction. There are a couple of new (for us) innovations on the revised site, at least one of which – TV quality video – is already being trialled in the existing setup.
Another significant matter this month is the going live of the December edition of The Accipiter. What makes it significant is that it is to be the last one. After a run of three and a half years, it has been decided to incorporate into the main site those parts that are suitable and have people who will prepare the copy without the need for excessive persuasion, and the rest will simply stop. Existing copy will remain permanently online, although the URL www.theaccipiter.com will cease to be used after April next
and it will be accessible, as now, at http://accipiter.hawk-conservancy.org/index.shtml.
Work to identify the best vehicle for the Réseau Rural en Combrailles web site is progressing and should move to its next step shortly.
One of the first things that happened after the accession to power of Mr Sarkozy was the introduction of a way of making it easier to start, run and end small businesses. It seems to be aimed, amongst others, at people who have a main income but wish to supplement it. Any income derived through commerce or work has to be declared for taxation and for contributions to social costs (healthcare, retirement, unemployment etc.) thus, by the letter of the law, if I sell something on eBay and have no registration as a vendor of things and thus do not declare the income for tax and social charges, I am potentially in wall-to-wall excrementals. Existing legislation makes it difficult to set up a small business if it is not my sole activity and, for contribution purposes, until I have a track record, my turnover will be assumed to be the average for the business I am in. And you don’t want to know what difficulties can be achieved if I choose to be, for example, a web site author (classed as a service industry and regulated by the appropriate body) and photographer (classed as a liberal profession and regulated by a different body).
As I understand it, and I may be totally wrong, the combination of a couple of changes means that, from 1st January next, I can register with a single body to do web work (service) and language teaching (liberal profession), declare my turnover monthly (or quarterly) and pay tax and contributions monthly (or quarterly) based on the last month’s (or quarter’s) turnover. That doesn’t mean I am exempt from other regulations. I still need to check whether registering as a web author requires any other qualifications and/or professional insurance, and I am sure there will be a qualification and registration requirement to act as a professional language instructor. I have made the preliminary steps and await a reply from the appropriate person. Disclaimer – I may be totally wrong, but that is how I currently understand the situation.
Christmas is approaching again. It doesn’t look as though we shall have any visitors, although our friend Carin is coming from Holland for the new year. We are, however, ready to take requests for visits in 2009.
If you want to check when we are available, the link is here.
Meanwhile, if anyone would like to send me a bag of humbugs …