Category Archives: swansea valley stuff

X is for Xtra, Xtra – read all about it!

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XThis is the newz according to Julz!

Readers of this blog may have noticed I have a campaigning streak – I’m not sure what you think about it, but its in my genes!  When I was doing blogging101 in January, we were asked to pick a prompt, and write a post around it.

I chose “Never Surrender, and I wrote about my Dad.  You are welcome to click on the link and read it.  At the time I was feeling a little awkward about publishing a series of posts about the “cock ups” the Royal Mail were, and still are, making – and wasn’t sure whether I should keep them up.  Writing that post convinced me I should, however silly it made me look – smile.

I thought I would use this last week of the A-Z Challenge to write an update of the results – or not – of my little personal campaigns.

me messing around with a picture of postboxes

messing around with a picture of modern postboxes

I am vehemently against the privatisation of Royal Mail – as are may other people who rely on it.  Shares were offered at the end of 2013 and the price was far too low, which resulted in the ‘company’ ending up in the hand of the money men, who are simply interested in reselling them for a quick profit,  and not interested in providing a good service for their customers!

The public service had served us well since 1840, when the first postage stamps were issued – costing just one penny.  They are worth a lot more now!

Privatisation and the need to make a profit, has resulted in the loss of previously stable jobs, and a very unhappy staff.  Worse, the people now running it, have never worked within the system, but have been drafted in from other industries, so they know nothing about its traditions and how to make workable changes.  They have messed around with the pricing structure for the last couple of years, and made major mistakes.

close up of notice - last collection on saturday - 7 am, weekdays - 9 am!

close up of notice – last collection on saturday – 7 am, weekdays – 9 am!

It was a silly thing that got me started on this complaint!

I went to my nearest post box, to post some small orders, one Saturday morning at around 8 am, only to find that, without prior warning, there was a notice saying that the only collection on Saturdays would be at 7 am – ie I’d missed it!  Saturday collections have been at noon for EVER!

Worse, as I was on my way to Asda, and passed another post box, I stopped to look at the notice there, and it still said 12 noon, and the post box at Asda said 9.15am!  Even the guy who runs the local Post Office knew nothing about the change when I asked him!

There followed a series of encounters with Head Office, who were as obfuscating as they could be, and with the local Sorting Office, where I got laughed at.

Even sillier, I finally found out that the notices had been put up but the changes hadn’t happened yet!  

You can follow the series of posts I wrote HERE if you can be bothered to – its a long read – smile. (You will have to scroll down to the bottom to see the first one, and then scroll upwards for the next instalment!

Although nothing specific came out of the fuss I made, a new sticker is to be seen on all the local post boxes, giving the phone number for any queries the public would like to make about collections etc.  I was very heartened to hear a whole section on complaints from all around the country about the change in collection times from rural postboxes,   on Radio 4’s programme, You & Yours, this week.  Whether much will happen after that exposure remains to be seen.

I still don’t know for sure when the collections are, and whether the changes have yet been put into effect- I wonder if they’d tell me if I phoned up the number on the sticker!

cropped-3vert-dry-stone-wall-version-2.jpg In January, I also wrote a post about the new VAT MOSS scheme, which seems to have been introduced to force large companies, like Amazon, to pay their fair share of tax, but is instead making it more difficult for small businesses, and especially craftspeople, to trade.  There have been various petitions, to the European Union, whose legislation this is, and to member country parliaments, but as far as I can tell, no one has done anything to change the scheme.  My plan to open a separate shop on etsy selling digital downloads of my old photographs is still on hold.

the large bin was replaced by the small bin

the large bin was replaced by the small bin

In February, the local council came and changed our large wheelie bins for small ones, apparently in an effort to get us to recycle more.

I was curious as to how much the new bins had cost and whether the old bins had been usefully recycled, so I asked them.

I did eventually get some answers, but did not pursue the issue to the bitter end – it was enough to be able to show that people all over the world had read my blogs about this.

The Council Officials were prepared for some criticism on this policy, but they do not yet have a culture of recognising that freedom of information means transparency and accountability.  It would be nice if they got into the habit or publishing information like this without having to be cajoled into doing so!

Still they have come a long way from the petty officialdom that WAS once the prevailing culture – and unfortunately still is in many parts  of the world.  If I lived in India, China or Russia, to name but a few of the countries that abound with petty corruption – I might have found myself in prison just for asking those questions, or at the very least, would think nothing of having to pay a bribe to a local official to get my rubbish collected at all!

You can read the sequence of posts here.

photo of Matt Mullenweg, taken in 2014 (found on his website)

photo of Matt Mullenweg, taken in 2014 (found on his website)

My most recent campaign has stalled.

Ironically, its about WordPress and the changes they have made, and they seem to be the least open to discussion – or, if you like, on a par with the Royal Mail!

It would seem that Matt, who is a co-founder of WordPress thought it would be nice to be able to post short blogs from his mobile, so he wrote a program for it.

He thinks we all should use it – whether we are posting from our computers, i-pads or phones – but it doesn’t work!  I call it Edit Lite. See my postTest on Chrome“.

I spend a great deal of time formatting my posts, so that they are readable, and was finding that when I went back to edit them, the formatting got screwed up.

I was most upset to find this had happened to the last post of the Big Bin Swap series – see above – just at the time I had sent out invitations to the ‘Big Wigs’ from all the Local Councils to read it!

I have fixed it now, so the only thing wrong with it is that a paragraph in the middle has been squashed up.  I purposely haven’t been back to do that on the ‘Test on Chrome’.

I have tried contacting Matt – but he’s unreachable.  I put up a couple of posts, trying to get his attention – see “Message to Matt – 1 & 2“, but answer was there none, not even thro’ the very helpful Happiness Engineer – still makes me laugh, that title!

What she has told me is that they haven’t been able to fix it yet!  Edit Lite is the culprit, and we are being steered towards using it, whether we have up-to-date mobile phones or not!  I’m one of those who doesn’t!

The Classic Editor is now almost impossible to find.  However, I have followed the advice the ‘HE’ gave me, and returned to the Blog Post Page every time, religiously, where Classic Editor can be found by clicking “Add New” at the top of the page, and if I want to edit a post, I do it in that page – and have not had any real problems since!

I am steering well clear of any contact with Edit Lite – it has caused me too much grief!

I am not the only one who has had problems with this, and there are various forums and groups out there that I found when I was trying to get answers, who are extremely angry about the changes that are being made.

AND – it occurs to me that WordPress, of all organisations, should be listening to their customers, and be concerned about how the platform they provide performs.

The internets’ greatest strength is that it allows FREE SPEECH, and has been an important tool for the implementation of those ideals – its a shame to find WordPress, inadvertently perhaps,  acting in a similar fashion to those old fashioned, all powerful dictators!

 

 

is this the worst chip shop in Wales?

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this is a nicer plate of chips than I got!

this is a nicer plate of chips than I got!

I’ve just got back from a visit to someone in mid-wales, it was quite a drive there and back, and I have been getting up very early for some weeks now, so tho’ it was around 1.45 pm, I hadn’t had any lunch, and I was desperate for a cup of tea.

And I was falling asleep at the wheel –  I thought I’d better stop along the way.

I wasn’t even that far from home, but it was safer to top up with a bit of carbohydrate and caffeine – smile – than to go home and try and cook.

I knew there was a chip shop in a place called, for short GCG.  I managed to find a parking space and hobbled to the door – I was really stiff!  It was the kind of place the kids congregate in the evenings, buying just a bag of chips and a coke, and get up to mischief, but at this time of day, there were only 4 adults in there, standing at the counter.  I joined them for 3 minutes, but no one came.  I thought they had ordered and were just waiting for their food.

Oh no!  They were standing around waiting for whoever it was who was banging around in the back doing something or another.  There were two round tables with plastic tablecloths on them – I sat down at one – and waited.  We all waited about 15 minutes.  And then she took their order.  I got up to give her mine, but she’d gone into the back.

So another 15 minutes later, when she’d finally packed up their order and they’d left I walked up to the counter and asked her for a plate of chips and a cup of tea.  I had been going to order fish & chips and have a proper meal, but I didn’t think it would be edible!

And I said I wanted to sit down, not takeaway – I even told her I’d had to stop because I was getting too tired to drive safely – “thats 30p extra on both items” – OK.  Don’t think she’d ever had a sit down customer before, cos she add to add it up, and then didn’t put it thro the till!

Anyway, you know if you order something like that, you usually get the cup of tea first.  Well it was, “I’ll bring your tea with your chips.”  No choice, was too tired to argue.

Another 15 minutes went by – one more person, who she obviously knew – came in and the chatted for a while, and finally served him.  Then she deigned to serve me up with an OK looking plate of chips.  I mean I even got a plate!  No condiments, only some salt and vinegar on the table.

Wasn’t worth asking for them, the chips would be cold before they arrived.

Then she went back behind the counter, and was supposed to be bringing me this cup of tea – I was parched and it was difficult to get the chips down without something to drink.

A delivery driver came in, with their order for sausages – I know this because she then spent 5 minutes on the phone discussing the order with someone after he left.

my mug of tea wasn't as nice as this!

my mug of tea wasn’t as nice as this!

At which point I called over – “Can I get this cup of tea please.”   Five minutes later she literally dumped it on the table.

No one else was in the place, there were no other distractions, I tried chatting to her, she just went in the back again.

Well I got thro’ half the plate of chips and decided I couldn’t eat the rest – so I was sitting there thinking, I’ve had a rest, I might as well go – but well – the chickens like chips, so I’ll ask her for some wrapping paper – she came out surly as ever, and lifted one sheet off the pile.  I asked for two, cos chips are greasy and they are never just wrapped in one sheet.

She gave it to me as if she was doing me a great favour.  I wrapped my chips and went out of the door – no bothering to say thanks, not for once, (smile – see my recent posts)  bothering to complain – I was just too tired, and it wouldn’t make one jot of difference if I had.

It was 3 pm when I left – I got home at 3.15 pm – but in a way it was worth it, cos I am tired and I’m writing this in bed!

So, if you are in GCG – I wonder if you could tell me the name of the chip shop?  Bet you could!

GCG is a real place, but as most of my readers are not from Wales, more’s the pity, I’d be surprised if anyone knows.

But do you know one as bad as this?  Do tell – lets have some fun in the comments section – smile.

The new bins cost; £475,916.20

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the large bin versus the small bin

For a week or more, the text spacing on this post has been mangled, making the reading of it pretty difficult!

I have asked for help with this, because when it was published, it was fine!  The problem occurred when I went back to update it, and add the last email from Mr Roberts, of Neath Port Talbot CBC.

If you would like to see what the problem was/is you can read all about it HERE.

I am now attempting to ‘repair the site’, and hope it will read properly when I update it! (26 March)

 

This is a follow up to my post of 3 February,

about the recycling policy of my local council, which was prompted by “THE BIG BIN SWAP” when they came and swopped our large bins for small ones – with the stated aim of encouraging recycling.

It was also a measure put in place to try to avoid the fines Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council (NPTCBC) is paying for using LANDFILL.

I posed a number of questions and thought you might like to know the answers.   Its taken a while, but I have now heard back from NPTCBC – to make sense of this email exchange – have a look at the original post by clicking HERE.

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MY SECOND EMAILlarge bin

Sent: 24 February 2015 08:10

To: Chief Execs

Subject: THE BIG BIN SWAP

Dear Sir

On 3 February I emailed both the media department and my local Councillor, to ask them to read the blog below, and reply with some answers to the questions I posed.

https://julzcrafts.com/2015/02/03/a-slice-of-life-the-big-bin-swap-recycling-in-the-swansea-valley-wales/

To date I have had no answer from either of them.

If you’d like to look at the comments section below the body of the text, you will see that there is great interest around the world about recycling, and many people are interested to know what Neath Port Talbot CBC are doing about it – specifically

  1. How much did the new bins cost?
  2. What did you do with the bins you removed?
  3. How have you funded this scheme?
  4. Is there another reason you have limited the size of the bins – ie:  can the new trucks take larger bins?
  5. How is the waste collected recycled?  Which companies do you use to do this and do you sell it or have to pay for its disposal?

I would be grateful if you could supply this information, which will be published in a follow up blog.

I truly do not want to have to put in a Freedom of Information request, as suggested by one reader. However, if I have not heard back from you within 10 days, I think this will be my next action. many thanks for your attention.

 **********

NPTCBC’S REPLY: 11 MARCHImage

Dear Miss Barnett,

Firstly, apologies that no one has contacted you with an explanation with regard to the questions you posed. With reference to your e-mail of the 24/02/2015, I would inform you that;

  1. The new bins cost; £475,916.20
  2. Both the plastic body and steel axles of all the bins removed have been recycled via the Civic Amenity site in Briton Ferry.
  3. The bins were partly Welsh Government grant funded and partly Council funding from reserves.
  4. The reason for reducing the bins size is the statutory waste targets and associated fines and Welsh Government’s ‘Collections Blueprint’.  The aim is to encourage people who were not already recycling to do so and encourage those already recycling to participate further.
  5. All waste collected for recycling is taken to a purpose built transfer building at the rear of the Materials Recovery and Energy Centre at Crymlyn Burrows.  The operator of the facility, NPT Recycling Ltd., has contracts in place with reprocessors and the income is essentially netted off the cost of managing and treating the Council’s ‘black bag’ waste which is also taken to the plant.

I hope the above information is helpful.small bin Yours sincerely, Mike Roberts Head of Streetcare Environment Directorate environment@npt.gov.uk

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Before going ahead and publishing Mr Roberts reply, as a courtesy, I replied on 11 March –

MY THIRD EMAIL

 Dear Mr Roberts
 I am very relieved to receive this detailed reply from you regarding the list of questions in my email of 24 February.
You will of course have noted that I intended to publish your answer as a follow up to the original ‘blog post’ “The Big Bin Swap” dated 3 February.
Before I do, could you please confirm that you are happy for me to do so – and whether you wish your name to be published or just your title?
I was careful not to name which council I was talking about in the original blog, but in view of the details given, I think I should be able to verify that this is a genuine reply.
Re: Your Point No 4:  Is there any evidence that this strategy is working, or is it too soon to evaluate it?
Re: Your Point No 5:  Whilst the general information you gave is revealing, the real concern of everyone who recycles their waste is whether it is being    processed properly and put to good use.  Could you please provide a couple of specific examples of what is done with the various separated materials?
I am copying this email to my local councillor, with whom I spoke on Sunday, and I thank him for his help – and of course, yours.         Julie Barnett
**********

I also re-sent the email on 18 March, asking for a reply and telling Mr Roberts that I would be publishing this today.  As I got no reply, I think that its time to publish!  I also think that you can all draw your own conclusions, and would welcome your comments below.  
Of course, it you would also like to contact Neath Port Talbot CBC, that is up to you – smile!

**************************** 

20 March 2015

I got a reply to the email above, late yesterday, most probably after someone had read this post.  As promised, I am publishing it here, and I have, of course, thanked Mr Roberts for his contribution and sent him a link to this post.
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Dear Miss Barnett.

Thank you for your further correspondence.  With respect to your additional requests for information, I can advise as follows:

I enclose details of the immediate impact of reducing bin size in the pilot area undertaken in 2013.

Overall in the County Borough, as the smaller bins have been rolled out participation across the County Borough has similarly increased from 62% in 2013 to 71% in 2014 overall, and now stands at over 80%.

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Average
24% 38% 20% 37% 29.75% Baseline
40% 56% 32% 56% 46% Participation after excess bin removal and reduction to 140 litres(commencing 28th Oct 2013)

It is noted that tonnage data also suggested that many residents were using the capacity released in the larger wheeled bins through recycling to dispose of green garden waste.  With switching to smaller bins the Council’s recycling and composting figures continue to increase and we are hopeful of hitting the next statutory target in Wales of 58% a year early at the end of this current year.

With respect to examples of material destinations I can inform you of the following, as reported to the Council by Neath Port Talbot Recycling at the end of last year. 

 

Example 1:  After delivery to Crymlyn Burrows, plastics collected at the kerbside in Neath Port Talbot are bailed and transferred off-site to Carmarthenshire Environmental Resources.  From there they are sent to EcoPlastics in Lincolnshire.  EcoPlastics produce raw materials which may be used in the manufacture of plastic containers. 

 

Example 2:  After delivery to Crymlyn Burrows, food waste collected at the kerbside in Neath Port Talbot is bulked up and transferred off site to an Anaerobic Digestion Facility in Avonmouth, near Bristol.  The facility produces renewable energy and a nutrient rich fertiliser.

 

Regards,

Mike Roberts

Head of Streetcare

 

a slice of life: “the big bin swap” – recycling in the swansea valley, wales

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This is written as part of the Slice of Life shared blogging scheme, which is used American school children; I am submitting this is a possible teaching resource.  Terms that I expect you may not totally understand, are highlighted in red, and explained at the end of the blog.

TO FIND SOME OF THE ANSWERS TO MY QUESTIONS – PLEASE SEE THE FOLLOW UP BLOG HERE.

I came back home last Thursday to find this leaflet rolled up in my letterbox, as I pulled it out, I thought, what on earth is this?  Normally leaflets like this advertise things you really don’t need, and I throw them away before I even look at them!

the english version of The Big Bin Swap leaflet

the english version of The Big Bin Swap leaflet

As I was putting the shopping away, I glanced at it before putting it in the recycling bin.  As you will guess, it never got there, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to scan both sides, English & Welsh, in case you were wondering, and put the two scans up on this blog.

My first thought was, my neighbours weren’t going to like this!  They have 6 children, and on bin days, there is so much rubbish outside their house that you trip over it!  So even with a large bin, they can’t cope, and yes, before you ask, they do recycle too – the recycling sacks are stacked up above the bin, and tend to fall onto the pavement.

Now, before you start thinking – oh what a good idea – taking the large bins away and replacing them with smaller bins will ensure that everyone recycles their rubbish – what environmentally responsible Councils they have in Wales, let me tell you why they are doing this.

A few years ago, the EU made a new law, that fined any country that used too much landfill to bury their rubbish.  This was supposed to force everyone in Europe to recycle waste.  A good idea, in principle.  It has now become UK law and, as the Councils are responsible for collections and disposals, they are the ones that get fined, if they go over the limit they have been given.

the welsh language version of The Big Bin Swap

the welsh language version of The Big Bin Swap

“The Welsh Government has set out a requirement for all Councils in Wales to increase their recycling rate year on year, with a 58% recycling rate having to be achieved by 2016 and 64% by 2019/20. Strict fines will be imposed on local authorities if the targets are missed.”

As they are local councils, and we pay council tax, that means we, the residents, will end up paying the fine.  So, it may be a good idea, but, did we agree to them spending money on the new bins – no, we never knew about it!

Do we know what they are doing with the old bins – no idea?  Are they being sold, recycled, or just dumped in a big bin mountain! Most people generally agree that recycling is a good thing, but it has got a bit ‘over the top’. (SEE HERE)

In our Council area, we have small bins for food waste, large plastic boxes for tins and bottles, and free thin plastic sacks for paper and cardboard, which must go in separate bags, and another one for garden waste.

In the neighbouring council area, they have three differently coloured boxes, as well as plastic sacks and bins.  There are different schemes in different parts of the country.  Recycling policy is up to each Council, and so is the way they dispose of their collections.

Our Council does compost the garden waste, and they sell it on to market gardeners – altho sometimes the compost contains things that wouldn’t normally be there, because not all the waste has been sorted properly. I’m not sure what they do with the tins and bottle and paper and cardboard.  Maybe I will ask, and let you know.

But I do know that lots of our waste gets exported to ‘Third World Countries’ where young children sift through it and try to make a living out of selling what they find. Slumdog_millionaireIf you have watched the film, Slumdog Millionaire, you will know that sometimes they get sick, because they don’t even bury the waste in India or China, they just dump it somewhere, and the gases affect the people who live near it.

Is that being environmentally responsible?  Are we colluding in this abuse?

People here are liable to get fined if they do not recycle their rubbish, and there have been known to be “bin wars” where people steal others bins, because they haven’t got enough space in the large bins, let alone the new small ones.

Most people now paint their house numbers on the bins! There has also been a rise in illegal dumping, as companies now have to pay to have large amounts of waste collected.  Rogue operators, collect the rubbish for a fee, and then dump it on remote mountain tops and fields, sometimes even paying small amounts to the farmers for ‘looking the other way’.

“The Council investigates environmental crime along with partners such as the Environment Agency. If anyone is found responsible for causing crimes such as littering, dog fouling and flytipping action will be taken against them. There could be an on the spot fine of £75 or even prosecution in some cases.

Fly tipping of waste is a serious criminal offence which carries a fine of up to £50,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 12 months (or an unlimited fine and up to 5 years imprisonment if indicted to the Crown Court). Any vehicles involved in incidents of fly tipping may also be seized. We have a successful prosecution history and will prosecute all caught offenders.”  (quoted from the Council’s website)

How is this change going to affect me? A small bin is fine for my household. I recycle most of the waste in the ‘old fashioned way’. I have a compost heap in the garden, where all the food & garden waste that can’t be eaten by my chickens goes, and after a year, when the bugs have done their work, its great for the garden.

my kitchen fire

my kitchen fire

In the 1920‘s the owners of my stone built terraced house, dating from the 1860’s,  must have been very proud when they made a major improvement to the kitchen.  They replaced the open fire with a Chattan.

It’s a cast iron fireplace, with an oven on the side, and must have been very expensive at the time. So I recycle the paper and cardboard into heating, for the room, and, the fire also heats a tank of water connected to the back of the Chattan.  Old newspapers and unwanted leaftlets are great for starting the fire, especially if they have been soaked in the old oil from my chip pan!

For once, the Council was very efficient about The Big Bin Swap (get it?), the very next day, as we get a collection every other Friday here, they came along with three huge trucks, one to empty the rubbish, one to collect the old bins, and another one to dole out the new, smaller bins.

*****//*****

Councils – the local tier of government – in Wales we have the Welsh Assembly and the UK Parliament. EU – then we have the European Union, who seem to make most of our laws these days! landfill – literally what is says – digging huge trenches in waste land – filling them with rubbish, and then covering them over with soil. rubbish – you use the word ‘trash’ in the States. council tax –  this is based on the value of your property, the more expensive it is, the more you pay as a contribution to the services the council supply.  These include waste collection, street lighting and road mending, schools, and all kinds of other services. chip pan – for frying chips or ‘french fries’

Suggested tasks: 

  1. click on both the versions of the leaflet, and see if you can work out which welsh word means thank you.
  2. write a short piece describing what you do in your house to recycle waste.
  3. how important do you think recycling is?  write a short piece about the place it has in the environmental issues facing us today.
  4. do some research and find out what measures your local state takes about recycling.
  5. start doing some recycling in your school.

Going back in time – photographs of a small mine that still worked with pit ponies in 1981

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This original 12″ x 10″ print is available on etsy

sepia1 - miner copyright_Fotor

set of 4 mining postcards available at etsy

Whilst working on this blog, with the help of the WordPress Team, and the other hundreds of people on this online course, who come from every part of the globe, I have been reviewing and rethinking, and struggling at times with layouts and exactly what to say.

In my first blog for this course, I put up a couple of images that I published as sepia postcards, and I wondered why I did that, because I took them so long ago!   You can see that post HERE.

For whatever reason, I am prompted to put up two more of this set of images, my favourites. There was a small mine a little way up the hill from where I live that was still working with their well-loved pit ponies, in 1981 (the year I moved here from London).

I’d heard that they were there, but wasn’t sure how to find them.  I was out with my old olympus early one morning and just happened on them.

The mine was family owned and just above their house. Their land, their farm, and their mine, that had made them rich.

They were lovely people,, and at that time were happy in their work.  They must have had some stamina, because it was certainly heavy manual work, and they were no longer young.  They were part of the old Wales, the close knit mining community, and they knew there was no one to follow them into the dark.

Their ponies didn’t seem overworked – but it was such a strange sight – a tiny little industrial pocket in a dip of the grass and shrub clad hillside and the grazing sheep.  I could easily have passed them by and not noticed them – if it wasn’t for the noise of coal going down the chute.

They knew I’d published these photos, I gave them some of the originals, that I printed myself from the negatives, and some of the professionally printed ones I have for sale.

Because the morning mist had not yet disappeared, the negatives were really difficult to print from, and I tried many different variations, in my little darkroom.

Well, the darkroom is now dark, damp and unused, coal is no longer mined nearby, the mine closed sometime around the 1985 strike, and these are images of men and work that have passed into history and the Welsh Heritage Tourist Industry.

When I have these pictures on display, or give one to someone local as a gift, they all say, oh, I knew him, he was a lovely man – he was – you can tell that from his face.

Bye Bye 1981, and manual cameras – I’m in the digital world now, and learning more about it every day.  And oddly, despite the melancholy mood I have been expressing, I’m looking forward to something good happening in 2015.

If you click on the link on the captions of each photograph, it will take you to the listings on etsy.  On the other hand, you could just look here, but please don’t grab them off the screen, they are my copyright, and part of my life, and they don’t belong to you – smile.

I thought I’d see if I could link the to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Gone, But Not Forgotten.”

Now Royal Mail can’t even deliver letters to itself!

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ceramic milk carton money box actually!

Yesterday morning, early, I’d run out of milk.  Exciting yes?  I’d got up about 4 am, thinking, ” I can’t write all these blogs without letting the local sorting office know”.   So I printed off copies of all the posts – yes printed them – and on my way to the newsagent,  (who still opens at 5 am, and somehow always manages to dress immaculately at that hour),  I posted the letter. It was a wad of pages in a white C5 envelope, on which I had scrawled, “TO ALL THE STAFF AT P……….SORTING OFFICE – hope you like this!”.  I also scrawled in the top right hand corner a little square and wrote “NO STAMP BECAUSE IT DOESN’T NEED ONE” (I’ve done that before, and its fine).   And  “What time is the collection from this box?” 

my nearest post box - says 7 am on saturdays

my nearest post box –says 7 am on saturdays

The only flaw in this plan was that there are roadworks in front of the local box I am on about (see pic – if you click on the caption, it will take you to the first blog) – the one with the notice that says, “Last collection – 9 am Mon – Fri – 7 am Saturday” and I doubted anyone would be collecting from it this week,  so I took the envelope down to the very reliable post box outside the Post Office, which is emptied several times a day.  It should have got to its destination before lunchtime, especially as that’s where the van goes with all the post that’s collected – to the SORTING OFFICE!

Later in the day, I got the email from Customers Services,  and,  because I felt I’d kept everyone informed, I didn’t worry about publishing it.  And despite having put some considerable time into this innocent query – it takes me ages to write and edit a long blog – I fully intended not to bother wasting any more time on it.  It is, on the face of it,  a very small concern.

And I certainly wasn’t going to contact The Escalated Complaints Resolution Team (what a name!), and play their game for months on end.  I was never after compensation, I just wanted to know whether, if I didn’t feel like getting dressed on a lazy Saturday morning, I could put a coat over my pyjamas, and slip down to the local postbox, with the large letter envelopes, and not have to bother going to the Post Office.  Hope that made you laugh!   The Post Office, and its post box, are a drive away.  The local postbox I can sometimes manage to get to without petrol – smile.

By an odd twist of fate ….. there was a failed parcel delivery.  The postman knocked when I was in the garden.  I didn’t hear him, and, several hours later, I found the red bordered notice on the floor, saying I’d have to go down to the Sorting Office, several miles away, to collect it.  I tut-tutted, and was annoyed he hadn’t delivered it to the designated neighbour.double new postbox pm_Fotor I went down to the Sorting Office this morning, having printed off a copy of the last blog for them, to pick up my parcel.  It’ll give me a chance, I thought, to ask them what time the collections ARE!

As I pulled the form from my sodden jacket, (there was a ferocious storm last night) so that he could find the parcel, I saw that the postman had put a note on the back, that the neighbours hadn’t answered the door.  I was inordinately pleased he’d tried, whoever he is.

I used know who delivered my post, and what time it came, and over the years there had been many friendly conversations.  The sorting office used to be down the road, and I was a frequent early morning visitor!  These days, you never know who’s doing the round, or when.

When I’d got my parcel, I casually pulled out the piece of paper in my pocket and put it down on the hatch top, and asked if the had got my letter yesterday.

What letter?  I described the letter as above.  No, I haven’t seen it? I think I was talking to the manager/supervisor because he had that attitude.  Who did you address it to?  To ‘all the Staff.’ Oddly he didn’t turn round and ask the lads sorting the mail behind him if they’d received it, and I know  they’d heard me, and no one came out to say, Oh yes, THAT LETTER! So I had to explain what was in it,  and that I’d brought the last instalment of the blog with me, and he looked at me in amazement. What post box are you talking about ?– I told him, and he immediately said

“Oh the last collection is after 5 pm”

close up of notice - last collection on saturday - 7 am, weekdays - 9 am!

close up of notice – last collection on saturday – 7 am, weekdays – 9 am!

I said, (this account is not verbatim),  then why has there been a notice on it for over a month,  saying that the last collection is 9 am on weekdays.  “Oh well.”

So I told him the story, that you can read here  in the earlier posts, about touring the area and looking at the notices on the boxes, and photographing them, because I was so bemused.  And he laughed.  And said, well you could have gone to the post office.  (But I was going to Asda’s, and that’s the other way – was what I wanted to say, but didn’t – and I hadn’t read the notice properly anyway.  Just seen 7 am last collection on Saturday!)

And then I told him I had gone to the Post Office afterwards and asked what this change in time was about, and they didn’t know, and I’d phoned up the Sorting Office and he or his colleagues didn’t know, so I wrote the blog, cos I thought it was ridiculous. And he laughed.  So I said: well are they going to switch over to the new times or not?   Ah well, we haven’t been told yet. And I said: well how will I know?  Er well, its on the box. No it isn’t: (no one has put another notice up to say its “business as usual”,  was what I’d meant to say.) Er well, it will be happening, cos they want to save money, Well I know that, I said.  But they’re not going to save any money because the two boxes with the 7 am notices on them, are on the van’s route anyway, he goes from – to, and I named the boxes – and the route. (I actually said what I wanted to say this time!)

Ah well, there are rural places where it would save money.doubledx4   Yes but they won’t save on this route so why change it?    They’re cutting back and this will save salaries –  two of the four vans,  and their drivers will be going.    (That means that two men were going to lose their jobs, don’t you care, was what I wanted to say.)

I was going to ask him to explain to me about the changes, but he was laughing at me. Instead I said, well that’s obvious, and I know that, but why can’t Customer Service people tell me when its going to change?    I did say. (…….   Or if its not happening soon, why don’t they tell me, and change the notice.)  Well that’s what I meant to say, but by this time the guy was looking at me as if I was an alien.)  He just stood there watching me without bothering to ……..

answer

apologise

say he’d phone up head office and find out

take my number and let me know

he just laughed at me……. My image of this encounter had been a cosy chat commiserating about the idiotic changes and asking them all to “Like” the blog, and pass it around so that it looked like there was loads of support for my little campaign.  

(which is not really about the postbox, I hope you’ve realised that by now!)

  Nor did he seem that bothered about the cuts.  His job was obviously safe.  So I ended up repeating several times “then why don’t head office tell me” and pushed the piece of printed paper towards him and said READ IT – JUST READ IT and walked out! It took me quite a while, and a walk round Tesco’s buying extra print cartridges for my printer, to calm down. But it still begs the question – why did an unusually addressed envelope, with no stamp, not arrive in the hands of the staff that were sorting it, and if it was addressed to them, why did no one open it, talk about it, and pass the information around?

Or is my title true, and Royal Mail can’t even deliver letters to themselves???

Banner-template-email-receipt

Postscript:  

Later today,  I got another of the red bordered notices, and unlike last time, I actually looked at it. I couldn’t face going back to the sorting office, so I thought I’d phone and ask for it to be put on the van for Monday.  I phoned the number on the card and found it was an automated message –  a long introduction and: press 1 for….: press 2  for ……etc What amazed me was that it told me that I had to wait 48 hours before I could collect a parcel from the Sorting Office, and could only book a redelivery thro the website.  “Or you can have your item taken to a local Post Office branch for a small fee for you to pick up using our Local Collect service”.

if you look hard you can just about read this and decipher the 48 hrs inserted in the 1st paragraph, and the instructions I mentioned opposit.

if you look hard you can just about read this and decipher the 48 hrs inserted in the 1st paragraph, and the instructions I mentioned above.

I don’t belieeeve it – as Victor Meldrew used to say!

I wasn’t going to stand for this, so I tried looking up sorting office phone number in the directory: I couldn’t find it.  It was just after noon, and they closed at 1 pm – the parcel wouldn’t be available, but if I could phone, AND I could by-pass the arrangements above.

Then I remembered that the guy at the Post Office had written their number on a scrap of paper for me, when he had advised me to call them on 6 December – I thought I’d thrown it away, but after rummaging through some paperwork – I found it!

And I rang, and I’m sure it was the same man I’d spoken to earlier, but he wouldn’t acknowledge it.  He did, however, take my name & address and promise it would go out on Monday – hope I don’t miss it this time!