SeeRed covers a wide range of topics.
NEW, January 2024 Steering rack gaiter replacement on Citroen Xsara Picasso, Instructions, with many photographs, to show how to replace a steering rack bellows on many Citroen cars - Xsara Picasso, Xantia, Berlingo and others that use a similar or identical model of steering rack.

NEW, September 2023
Helium party balloons - why you shouldn't buy them and why they should be banned. Also, how relatives of the Royal Family (specifically the commoner mother of Kate Middleton) profited from wasting probably hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of this irreplaceable gas via sales from her company Party Pieces. (links and photos to be added shortly). Having made her millions from selling environmentally damaging products, she also benefited from Covid business support!

NEW, December 2021 Covid vaccine injections - discussion of a possible explanation for the very small number of deaths linked to blood clots after receiving the AZ vaccine especially - could part of the reason be simply that intramuscular injections are not these days aspirated in many countries - to ensure the contents of the syringe are not injected directly into a vein? Some doctors and nurses seem to think so. It has been suggested that vaccine effectiveness might also be reduced.

NEW, March 2020 Covid 19 (Coronavirus) - a record of Covid in the early months, with some interesting references that may have been lost in the deluge of more recent data.

NEW, December 2019 Carbon offsetting - a discussion of why it is a dangerous delusion. Also a review of the Australian environmental film 2040 - the making of which was claimed to have been carbon offset!

Repair of Honda Izy and other mower metal decks - an example of what can  be done!

Highights for folk dancing sections

NEW, November 2023  Free dance lessons - Devon and Somerset

Links to the main folk dance sections on this website.

Twenty Five Years of Folk Dancing - fun, frolics and feuds.

Folk dance diary - highlights from my 2016 folk dance diary - fun and exercise for a few pounds a month! Why don't more people take up the hobby?

Reviews of folk dance festivals in the UK - Eastbourne, Lichfield, Chippenham, Sidmouth and Towersey.

 My contributions to Set and Turn Single magazine over the period 2011 to 2016, those were the days - pre-Covid!


Other sections, as more detailed below.

One of the earliest topics addressed was the abuse of authority by local councils when implementing s.215 of the planning acts. This dated from 1998 through to around 2006. One case involving Chester City Council is well documented.

Subsequently the website was extended to include similarly chilling behaviour by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). My interest here arose out of experiences in folk dance clubs. Subsequent study of the legal aspects, undertaken early in 2016, showed how readily false allegations of sexual abuse or sexual assault had been accepted as fact. Again, one case amongst many is well documented on the internet. Another similar case reported in the UK press has now been turned into a book. Most recently, as of late 2019, the Metropolitan Police (at that time mismanaged by Cressida Dick) agreed to pay 900,000 in agreed damages and legal costs arising from false allegations made by a fantasist. The money will of course be paid out of public funds. No resignations or loss of pension rights will occur - the police are well above that sort of accountability. One highly publicised case of 2023 was that of Andrew Malkinson who spent 17 years in prison in the UK after being wrongly convicted of rape. He is probably one of hundreds. A whitewash public enquiry may be held.

An earlier twist to whole sexual abuse saga in the UK was that in December 2016 hundreds or maybe thousands of police officers were suspected of abusing 'vulnerable' members of the public. It was suggested the problem is much under-reported. Details are on these and many other links: Guardian, BBC, Telegraph.

As with the much earlier abuses of power by local council officials (many of which are not recorded on the internet), many innocent people have been imprisoned after false claims were accepted. There appears to be no governmental concern about major miscarriages of justice.

The paranoia and hysteria surrounding sexual abuse in the UK has led to a situation in which imprisoning 100 innocent men for ten or more years each is now seen as more acceptable than allowing one guilty person to escape justice. This represents a reversal of the historical norms of the UK criminal justice system.

Review of Folk Dance Festivals 2015 onwards - what was good and what has become appalling!

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This is from 2015 at Towersey. It typifies the festival atmosphere of the campsite.

The folk festival at Towersey began over 50 years ago as a small village event, and centred upon a normally sleepy village.

The festival soon became a major highlight of the folk scene, including for ceilidh and other forms of folk dance and entertainment. I attended for many years starting in 2007 - in many ways it was my favourite festival.

In 2015, and because of changes to local farming practices, Towersey had to relocate to the Thame Showground. At about the same time, management control passed more and more from Steve Heap to his son Joe. Steve Heap is perhaps best known as one of the directors of the Sidmouth International Festival, in the period to 2004. (He is mentioned 176 times in 77 pages of this website.)

The new site layout and management at Towersey changed the 'ambience' of the festival. It no longer feels as though it has any connection with the village. In both 2015 and 2016 a separate 'fringe' festival was held in Towersey to raise money for local amenities. This only takes place on one day and there is no dance element - it would be difficult to compete with the main festival. Yet the villagers achieved a great deal - including an impressive website.

Sidmouth also has its 'fringe' events, both in town as a central (but unofficial) part of the event, and also as a separate smaller and wholly unconnected festival outside the town. Again these have no social or ceilidh dance element.

Recent changes to Towersey festival have mirrored those elsewhere, but are maybe more extreme. The critique given here is centred upon its recent history, and especially on dance events during 2015 and 2016.

In 2016 the unwelcome or unsatisfactory aspects included lax site security, poor site design, overly simple ceilidh dances (with several repeated by other callers), inept dance instruction and grossly excessive sound levels at both ceilidhs and concerts - even louder than in 2015.

On the positive side, a few of the dance events and especially that with the relatively new Anglo-French band Topette were very good indeed. With a few easily implemented changes, other events at Towersey could attain a similarly high standard.

Ceilidhs at Towersey in 2012/2013 were enjoyable and featured many interesting dances, a couple of which I still use myself. This page outlines the changes that were imposed in 2012. However, by 2016 the music for ceilidh dances had become absurdly loud. This is the reason why I and other dancers no longer chose to attend or recommend what used to be a highlight of the folk dance year.

One local dance band leader who attended Towersey with a troupe of dancers a few years ago told me that one particular band 'sounded better from a field away'.

Other festivals are reviewed including Chippenham, Lichfield and Eastbourne (which has transferred to Evesham for 2020 onwards, a much nicer town but still in school buildings.)

In 2020 the festival relocated from its temporary home on the Thame showground to a country park - Claydon Estate in Buckinghamshire, (MK18 2EX).

It is a superb venue - I first attended in 2023 but much of the dance music was still far too loud. Most folk dance festivals were of course cancelled in 2020 and 2021.

Detailed comments on 2023 will be added later.

Comments can be sent to:  stevewozniak42 (AT) hotmail.com

Folk Dancing goes back several centuries as a pastime for all social groups. Yet folk dance clubs are in decline in the UK, despite that they could help combat both loneliness and obesity - two of society's most pressing health issues.

Like so many 'minority interests' folk dance is beset by internecine rivalries, feuds and vendettas - but don't let a few miserable and dull people stop you trying to have some fun!
Within the many folk-dance centred pages on this website you will find my dance diary for 2016. This is a record of just how much enjoyment, exercise and social contact can be had from an expenditure of a few hundred pounds a year - far less than the cost of medical care were anyone to become chronically depressed. Maybe dancing should be available on the NHS?

Here are some highlights from my 2016 diary.

I wrote 'my year of dance' both as a record for myself and to help encourage further uptake of a hobby that may soon be consigned to history - unlike in Ireland where local dances are still very much part of the 'living tradition'. I suggest that the present high attendance figures for folk dance festivals and weekends-away may merely be a passing phase - characterised by a generation of older experienced dancers enjoying their wealthy retirement. The demise of local clubs and their ageing clientele points to a dearth of experienced English country dancers a decade or more hence.

It is in the more lively local clubs that by far the best value dancing can be found - assessed as cost per unit enjoyment. Sample calculations are presented to illustrate these points. My opinion is that most small folk clubs are dull, uninspired and lifeless - little wonder they fail to attract and keep new and/or younger members. 'Social glue' is identified as maybe one missing ingredient in many small clubs.

In a free country we are allowed to have theatre critics, film critics and restaurant critics. My review of folk dance festivals is an attempt at something similar. Yet according to some festival 'Terms and Conditions', publishing anything 'negative' about an event is enough to get you banned for life. We shall see..... It is maybe time also we had a 'tripadvisor' guide to local folk dance clubs as a spur to enhancing standards and raising the profile of the hobby.

Various disputes in the folk dance world remind me of Britain in Bloom in Sidmouth almost two decades ago. For expressing different views and for (not) tending my wild garden I was vilified in the local press over several years, told to leave town and threatened with court action by East Devon District Council. The arguments culminated in a BBC TV documentary 'Countryside at War' and with an extensive interview on Radio 4. Somewhere I still have the tapes. Maybe it is time for another TV programme?

Dance offers probably one of the most cost effective ways to meet people of the opposite sex - it can be far more effective than computer dating (see next panel below) and with a cost per dance as low as 30p. However, it can also be one of the best ways of spreading Covid : folk dancers breathe deeply, in close proximity to each other and hold hands with dozens of people within an hour. The key to safety is well ventilated dance halls, even if you do need to wrap up warm.

Online computer dating is now a multi-million pound industry in the UK and spread over scores of different websites. World-wide it is claimed to be a billion dollar industry. Many claims are made for the effectiveness of online dating, yet there seem to have been few objective studies.

A basic statistical analysis is presented here - it is based on the author's intermittent study of two mid-market computer dating sites in the UK over the period 2008 to 2012. Unfortunately it has not achieved a wide readership because the internet is so swamped with 'dating' websites and related articles it simply doesn't get noticed. Most of the readers are people who have chanced up my website for other reasons.

honesty on the internet.jpg (57299 bytes) It is argued that the industry is inefficient in delivering a service to some types of subscribers owing in part to profiles being spread across a wide range of often unconnected websites. It is shown that whilst dating websites may claim to have 80,000 to 90,000 members, the number that are both active and able to contact other members may be less than 10% of the headline figures. 

Some of the problems experienced by users are outlined. New charging structures such as ‘pay-as-you-go’ are proposed which, together with use of simplified but equally effective matching models, should enable a more cost efficient service to be delivered to a much increased number of users. It is argued that present day sites are characterised by dishonest presentation of data, restrictive fee structures and models for matching people to one another that are both overly complex and largely useless. As of 2016, little had changed, except that many 'app' based services were available for smartphones and these continue to grow in popularity.
Despots in local government: public servants would become our masters.
Decades ago, local government was an inefficient and overstaffed mess - but at least 'public servants' knew their place and many tried to do a decent job of work. Nowadays, local government is characterised by spin, glossy brochures, excessive 'management' salaries and pay-offs and an increasingly high-handed approach to dealing with the public.

Of particular concern are social services departments who utilise the slightest and often imagined excuse to take children away from their parents and place them into 'care'. Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary (as of March 2012) said that 'there are 'far too many experts' involved in producing expensive reports for low grade and often neurotic and self-serving council officials - who then use them within the ultra secretive family courts system to remove children from their families. The parents are forbidden even to talk to any advisor. It seems to be a largely unrecognised problem, addressed over many years by the campaigning journalist Christopher Booker in The Sunday Telegraph newspaper and by John Hemmings MP.

Either local councils need stripping of many of their powers, or new arrangements are needed to ensure that abuse of authority is curtailed.  One option might be to make local officials responsible for legal costs - just as they can now be held personally responsible for Health and Safety breaches.

In recent years the Crown Prosecution Service has been heavily criticised for decisions to prosecute in cases where the evidence was completely (and obviously) without foundation.

Sidmouth remains famous for its 'folk festival' - once one of the largest, most colourful and peaceful music and dance festivals in Europe. What does the future hold? New in 2010/11 and updated every year since,  a Newcomers' Guide to FolkWeek.
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For 50 years Sidmouth hosted its International Festival of Folk Arts amidst the scenery of East Devon. Families travelled from across the UK for their annual 'spiritual renewal'. 2004 was the last year for this amazing spectacle.

Read the full story here of how FolkWeek arose from the ruins of the International Festival. 2005 was a very small affair yet 2006 was a great success. And so was 2007! For 2008 the organisers cut costs to try to shore up the finances. 2009 was rather wet at times. 2010 was a perfect year for weather - but not for social dancers. 2011 was a challenging year - the recession was supposed to be hitting disposable income, yet many folk festivals were a sell-out. And Sidmouth's 'fringe' event became more popular. 2015 saw a real revival of social dance with some hugely popular contra workshops by American caller Tom Hines. 2016/17 were also excellent years for social dance.

Many years ago, after personal experience with electronic Sunvic central heating motorised valves, I took a few to pieces to establish exactly why they had failed prematurely.

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Little did I foresee that the ensuing webpages would become one of the most widely read sections of SeeRed. Of course, most householders are fearful of taking their central heating system to pieces - they rely on often inexperienced 'heating engineers'.

It is particularly disappointing that many years after these webpages were first published, Sunvic were apparently still telling customers that they knew of no failures of these products - yet because of the inherently questionable design, many or maybe most may fail within a few years. Some householder experiences are here and including where these actuators are sold as part of expensive Worcester Bosch space and water heating systems.

Sunvic still sold these products into 2021 when apparently the company filed for liquidation. It was a sad end to a once competent British company that once made products that lasted 30 years. Some of their more modern offerings were appallingly designed (in the UK?), manufactured using Chinese and Korean components and they lasted sometimes as little as 18 months. Internet coverage centred on this website may have hastened the demise of the company - at least I like to think so!
Town Planning and Cons