Archive for February 8th, 2016

Today’s blog was intended to be a light-hearted look at the Chinese New Year and a little bit about one of my photos appearing in a book by Alison Weir ‘The Lost Tudor Princess’, but then I got to watching The Wright Stuff….urgh….

How ludicrous that sounds; Benefits Britain. If there is one subject that is bound to increase my ire by levels unbounded it’s the question of ‘Benefits’.  As a South African I had never experienced the idea of ‘benefits’ from the government of the country. We grew up being taught the value of working hard in school, getting good marks, looking for a good job when you graduated, then working hard at our chosen career, paying taxes and paying monthly into an unemployment insurance fund…a fund that gave you 6 months of income should you fall ill, have a baby or become incapacitated by an accident. Only 6 months!! Not for the rest of your life!  You had to have proof of why you needed the money (even though you had paid it in yourself for however many years) – like a letter from your Doctor to say you had, had a baby, or were too ill to work. For the first 2 months you got a payout commensurate with your last income, over the next few months the level of payment went down to 50%, 40%, 30% and then the final stipend ended with however much you had left in the pot……the point here is that each individual who worked HAD to pay into this, it wasn’t optional, it was mandatory, and you only got out WHAT YOU HAD PAID IN!!!! You didn’t get a lifetime of handouts from the government. You had to have medical insurance that you paid for and savings for those rainy days.

And yes, lets call these so called ‘benefits’ by what they really are…handouts!

Now I know for sure that the chests of many British people will heave with indignation when I say this, but hello??? Why are people who have never done a day’s work in their lives getting ‘benefits’ anyway? What right do they have to receive a monthly payout from the government when they have done nothing to earn it?

And before you go getting all puffed up, lets stop for a second….I understand perfectly the reasoning behind the government supporting people who are disabled from birth, or someone who is incapacitated by an unavoidable disease or illness or the elderly, or someone injured protecting the country, but I do not and cannot, even after living here for 15 years, quite get my head around how it is that people who have never held a job in their lives and have no plans to, who have multiple babies get a monthly handout for each kid, and not only that, but they also get to demand a council house…and when there are too many kids to fit into that house they then demand a bigger one. Stop breeding for goodness sake. Contraception is readily available on your FREE National Health Service, it’s the 21st century, we all know where babies come from!!

And as for getting money for being out or work??? Seriously?? In all my 30 years of working in South Africa whenever I was retrenched or lost my job for whatever reason, I had to fall back on my savings to support myself and pay the rent…I didn’t get money from the government. I had to get out and look for another job or the rent/mortgage didn’t get paid. The number of ‘benefits’ levels is astounding. I won’t even go into those because the number of reasons you can claim benefits is unbelievable.

This morning on The Wright Stuff, the main topic of discussion was people who earned £30k per month, and who had subsidised rent in council houses….subsidised by my taxes!!! I truly object. I work extremely hard doing a job that many British people would consider beneath them (and I know this to be true because my job description has been met with expressions of horror in the past with an ‘I would never do that!!’ and to be fair, for balance, I have also been met with ‘that’s an amazing thing to do’), I earn below the minimum wage and put up with a lot of shit in many instances from people who think that because I’m from one of the old ‘colonies’ I’m uneducated and unable to find a proper job, who are disparaging, condescending, and rude and treat me (and other Carers) with disdain. And I pay my taxes….I pay more than bloody Google, Amazon or Starbucks amongst many others who pay 4% taxes on profit, or the super wealthy who move their money to offshore accounts to avoid paying tax. I pay 20% tax on my ‘profits’…..why? because I’m self-employed my whole salary except for the threshold are considered to be profits, and I work for my living AND more importantly I pay my own rent…I don’t get a handout from the government

My accommodation consists of a mattress on the floor of my daughter’s spare room. A room filled with boxes because I have nowhere to put the stuff in them…ergo, I can’t afford my own home! I can’t afford the rental on a place of my own. How else can I say that? and yet, there are people in the UK who are earning a good £10k+ more than me who get their rent subsidised by MY taxes! How is that fair? It’s bloody ludicrous.

Frankly I think the whole idea of the benefits system needs a major overhaul, and yes I agree that the large corporations like those mentioned above should pay wayyyyy more tax than they do in the UK. But that is another issue altogether that seriously needs to be addressed. Tax avoidance.

However, back to the subsidised rents of council house tenants who earn £30k+, why is this happening? Why are they not, like thousands of others, paying market price rentals? I would much rather my taxes are spent on increasing the salaries of Junior Doctors, increasing the wages of Nurses (who I might add do a dreadfully stressful job), or paying our Police a better wage and employing more instead of retrenching more and more, or spent on training more teachers, mental health service practitioners, or spend it on the infrastructure of the country, like better flood defences, or the RNLI – services that each year are stretched to the limit. It’s bad enough that ‘benefits’ are paid out to families who through decades of getting handouts on the dole believe it’s now their right to get money from the government without any prior contribution, but to subsidise council house rents for people who are earning not only more than I do and I warrant many others, but get their rent paid off the back of my hard work.

I object!! It’s not only day-light robbery, it’s downright disgraceful.

As for tax-avoidance….don’t even get me started on that subject!!!

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One of the advantages of living in Broadstairs is the accessibility to the sea. We also live within walking distance to Ramsgate.

IMAG4176 - walk to ramsgate

the Broadstairs clock tower on the way to Ramsgate

My daughter and I often walk along the beach at low tide to Ramsgate Harbour, sometimes it takes a lot longer than others, depending on the day and the weather. If it’s a good day it takes at least an hour…it’s such a photogenic walk that we can’t help but stop to take photos.

Yesterday we woke to a day of blue skies and sunshine, albeit very windy so decided to make the most of us both being home on the same day and no rain, and walk to Ramsgate, where we planned to have toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches at one of her favourite cafes.

The tide was high so unfortunately we could only walk part of the way along the beach walk…which is a shame really as that’s part of the fun. There have been many storms  alongside a raging sea, waves crashing against the side of the esplanade which was just thrilling.IMAG2153 - walk to ramsgate  Finally at Dumpton Gap we climbed to the cliff-top and made the rest of our walk with a somewhat different view of the seas; a churned up brown expanse of raging waves.IMAG4912 - walk to ramsgate

Further along and just past the King George VI Memorial Park we walked back down the steps to the Marina Esplanade and so the harbour. It’s such a beautiful little harbour with plenty of quirky and lovely boats and lots of quirky little shops and restaurants along the esplanade.2015.11.08 (37) - walk to ramsgate

Just before you reach the funfair and harbour you pass the entrance to the WW2 tunnels. I’ve yet to explore them fully but I have been into the museum which is just within the entrance.  Besides the charming harbour, the WW2 tunnelsIMAG4936 - walk to ramsgate and the quirky architecture, Ramsgate has many links to the royal family and Charles Dickens. Princess Victoria convalesced at Albion House in Ramsgate for 6 months while recovering from a serious bout of typhoid.2015.11.08 (22) - walk to ramsgate2015.11.08 (23) - walk to ramsgate Besides that Ramsgate Harbour has the unique distinction of being the only harbour in the United Kingdom awarded the right to call itself a Royal Harbour; bestowed by King George IV as a thank you for the hospitality shown by the people of Ramsgate when he used the harbour to depart and return with the Royal Yacht Squadron in 1821.IMAG4837 - walk to ramsgate

Ramsgate was a chief embarkation point both during the Napoleonic Wars and for the Dunkirk evacuation ‘Operation Dynamo’ in 1940, due to its proximity to mainland Europe. I was lucky enough to attend the Operation Dynamo 75th anniversary event of Little Ships that sailed across the English Channel to Dunkirk for the weekend.

We so enjoyed our sandwiches(although they’re not as good as mine 😉 ) at Rileys, a café my daughter frequents rather frequently…they do serve the most delicious hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows. Afterwards we went for a bit of shopping and then caught the bus back to Broadstairs. I do so enjoy these excursions with my daughter. I spend so much time away from home, and of course I’ll be moving on soon as will she, her further south, me west (at least I think Rochester is west), so these times are really precious.

2015.11.08 (42) - walk to ramsgate

Royal Ramsgate Harbour – magical at night

I recorded a bit of our walk to give you a glimpse of Ramsgate. Excuse the wind….it’s been seriously windy the last few days as you’re probably aware and currently we are experiencing the fury of storm Imogen.

Here is the video.

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