I haven't been updating my blog, but will be back to normal next week when back in Kenya and twiddling my thumbs between staving off the almost certain school holiday boredom that my three daughters will complain of.
Our trip to England has been great but is now winding up. Each time we come home in the summer, (this is our nineth year of doing it), there are new buzz words in the UK media and while things look the same, things have changed in an intangible way.
This year it's all about:
The Credit Crunch - everyone is tightening their belts ready for the possibility of a recession. Sunday newspaper suppliments are expounding the benefits of 'make do and mend'. High Street spending has fallen and the summer sales are offering record discounts in an attempt to lure shoppers.
The Property Slump - Having had at least ten years of booming trade, the housing market has suddenly fallen flat on it's face over a matter of two months. Housing developments have been put on hold unfinished and house prices are falling for the first time in a decade.
Recycling - Many County councils in England have imposed new, strict measures with regard to rubbish collection and the rules vary from County to County. When we rented a cottage in Devon for a week, I nearly had a nervous breakdown over the bewildering instructions over how to separate the rubbish into colour coded bags. Tins and plastic bottles (without lids) in blue, newspaper and cardboard (but not big boxes) in clear, cooked food and fruit and vegetable parings in brown and remaining rubbish in grey bags. (It took me over an hour to work all that out and even now I'm not sure I got it right). One week rubbish for recycling is collected, the next 'other rubbish'. Predictably the holiday cottages had a rather nasty rat problem because rubbish sits around outside for weeks and an enterprising private 'rubbish collection services' guy was called out at vast expense. He said: 'This new rubbish collection system is hopeless but I've got a good business out of it. I get called out to cart away rubbish every day in this area.' If home owners fail to separate their rubbish correctly, there are harsh fines and council workers have the right to refuse to collect improperly sorted bags. My mum tells me that old ladies she knows no longer buy newspapers as they are terrified about how to dispose of them.
Poor Gordon - Gordon Brown, the UK Prime Minister's popularity is at an all time low due, largely to the state of the economy.
Rising costs - particularly of fuel. Not only has the cost of petrol risen dramatically (filling a car now costs not far off £100) forcing people to think twice before climbing into their cars, but last night British Gas announced a 35% price rise. All this means that the average Brit has less and less disposable income. It could be a cold winter.