SeeRed has over 600 pages. Most are free to view.
Folk Dancing in the UK.

Experiences of helping to run a folk dance club

NEW: Folk dance diary - my 2016 year in words.

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

NEW: My contributions to Set and Turn Single magazine over the period 2011 to 2016

The most popular pages on SeeRed during 2016 to date are listed below - most popular first.

Each of these pages gets on average over 100 views per month, the most popular ones exceed 500 views.
All about Sunvic motorised valves - rather technical - yet incredibly popular over many years!
Folk dance - the basics explained
Index page for caravanning one of the ever popular technical advice sections of this website.
Sidmouth FolkWeek - the newcomers guide. It is factual and  perpetually popular!
All you ever wanted to know about mending old caravan heaters!
Alko tow hitch repair - suddenly this seems very popular - I've no idea why! Maybe it has been cited in an article somewhere..
Folk dance clothes - what to wear.
Trailer rebuild - how I mended an old garden trailer - there must be more than one person like me in the world?
Saab 900 headgasket repair - strange to be so popular now these cars are becoming so rare.
Fiat clutch and gearbox problems - From obscurity to very popular - maybe this page has been cited somewhere?!
Saab 900 oil pump, crankshaft seal and sensor replacement. One man in France even wrote to say how useful this was!
Folk festival showers - all about propane cylinders and showers at folk festivals - I have no idea why this page is so enduringly popular!
Councils have spent millions of pounds installing road humps that arguably do not work. Some are now being removed!
Dating analysis - nice to know some people have found this report! But did they read it all?
Camping - campsites around Sidmouth in FolkWeek - including in my garden.
Electoral rolls - how your details are still freely available, despite the introduction of an 'edited register'.
People's Network Computers - a very old page - why now so popular? Maybe it is all the interest in library closures.
Police overtime - it was never a popular page before - so why in 2016?
Busmaps - I have no idea why this is so popular - including outside of the FolkWeek season!
Gittisham - the original website for Gittisham Folk Dance club
SeeRed covers a wide range of topics.
It is written by a retired scientist who finally decided 'enough was enough' when faced with the incompetence and malevolence of local councils in England. Based in the seaside town of Sidmouth, the website was first published in February 2003. 'Hits' exceeded 120,000 in the first year with over 50,000 page views. The current 'hit' level is around 50,000 per month from around 5000 unique visitors.

The major sections are nowadays not those of the original website over a decade ago. If I ever get the time (if I should live long enough) I may delete more of the obsolete material. In the meantime expect many broken links as pages are reordered or renamed.
Review of Towersey Folk Festival 2015 and 2016 - what was good and what has become appalling!

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This is from 2015. I didn't see the same bird in 2016.

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

More recently the festival became a major highlight of the folk scene, including for ceilidh and other forms of folk dance and entertainment. I have attended every year since 2007.

In 2015, and because of changes to local farming practices, the festival 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 my website.)

The new site layout and management at Towersey have 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 have 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 may no longer choose to attend or recommend what used to be a highlight of the folk dance year.

Comments are welcome - these webpages will be in 'draft' form for some time.

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

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.

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 has changed!
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 is a huge and (as yet) largely unrecognised problem, addressed over many years by the campaigning journalist Christopher Booker in The Sunday Telegraph newspaper and by John Hemmings MP.

From waste collection, through child protection, car parking and planning, local officials now see themselves as masters rather than servants. Misuse of delegated authority is a widespread problem, with lazy elected councillors often being unaware what officials are doing.

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.

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 for 2016 - 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 was also an excellent year for social dance.

Many years ago, after personal experience with modern 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 and sometimes useless '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. More recently (2011), Sunvic appeared to withdrawing these products from the market. Later, new part numbers appeared - but the internal components seem much the same.
Town Planning and Conservation Areas.
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When is a tree not a tree? When it is both in a supposedly protected Conservation Area and in the way of proposed development?

If you know of similar documented cases, please let me know. Here is an example from Cumbria. The local MP is reported as having said it is a case of "wanton vandalism" by a property developer. In July 2011 the same developer (now apparently running a different company) applied for permission to build houses on the site - who says crime doesn't pay?

Town Planning and Flood Plains.
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When are Flood Plain planning policies not applied? When well connected people want to build on the flood plain?

When the wealthy owner of Sidmouth's Nissan dealership creates a new commercial car park by dumping hundreds of tons of rubble in a sensitive area and local councils and the Environment Agency effectively look the other way?

Or indeed when Erewash Borough Council apparently behaved in an appalling and unprofessional manner? Householders and insurance companies have been left to deal with the consequences of what appears to be blatant indifference to local flood risks.

This is all old material but as of 2015 - and after the floods of recent years - how much has really changed?

Are you still buying lottery tickets? Why is there so little analysis of how all the money is spent?
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An old section of SeeRed analysed how 120 million of lottery money was spent on computers in libraries. Arguably, the project should have cost far less. The then Minister, Tessa Jowell MP, refused to answer my questions perhaps because she couldn't think of any plausible answers. After all, this was the Blair babe who didn't even know about her own mortgage! She was later tasked with persuading us that the London Olympics were to be competently managed.

Since publication of SeeRed the number of gushing press releases about the P.N. scheme fell markedly. No connection, of course! In Dec 2004 I was invited to send views to the DCMS Select Committee

In subsequent years, UK public libraries began a steady decline. Many became more like noisy 'internet cafes' than places where proper study could be undertaken. In effect, libraries were dumbed down to incorporate a 'social inclusiveness' agenda. Cutbacks have now led to reductions in staff - most competent librarians have been replaced by casual part-time staff - who are paid peanuts.

Towards a surveillance society - the early years.
1984jpg.jpg (3552 bytes) Most people have little idea of the extent to which their privacy has already been compromised. Governments will soon be able to build a contact profile for every citizen - an appalling prospect in many countries. The technology is already being developed and tested. The now obsolete privacy section of this website outlined a few topics that were of interest in 2003/4. These were smart cards, CCTV, encrypted emails and rfid tagging of anything from cars to clothes. This section is now years out of date - it predates the Snowdon era for example.
In the new age of e-government, people who ask awkward questions may simply be deleted!

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Details of a dispute with Devon County Council, as a part of which DCC blocked my e-mail address for several years. They also prevented staff at DCC HQ and in libraries reading this website by making links "unavailable". Later, normal service was resumed. It was all a manifestation of the culture of fear that continues to dominate DCC and many other public sector bodies, especially the NHS.The dispute itself is in abeyance - I have more to do at present.
The Britain in Bloom campaign has been criticised for wasting public money on boring displays of garish flowers. In 2005, it spilled over into abusive comments about the SeeRed author by Sidmouth Town Council!
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For decades the Britain in Bloom campaign has been synonymous with garish arrangements of environmentally useless plants. Councillors waste hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money to create ever more outlandish displays.

Few Sidmouth residents take part. Maybe soon we can put an end to the cult of chequebook gardening? In 2008, Sidmouth in Bloom even had a competition for the most environmentally friendly garden - and what a mess they made of the judging criteria!

Serious gardeners (and even one or two government ministers) recognise we need to divert effort to growing more fruit and vegetables at home - it may be ten years before the 'bloomers' awake to such a sensible idea! 

Internet cafes in Europe and India.
libcompute.jpg (4395 bytes) In the UK, libraries have borne the brunt of public internet access. Bureaucracy abounds, and official policy is to provide little or no privacy despite draft Council of Europe guidelines. Things are different elsewhere. For example, in India, access is rarely a problem because private enterprise cafes thrive - as indeed they do in Germany.
Camping on a small site on the outskirts of Sidmouth
camperssmall.jpg (8501 bytes) Made popular during various FolkWeek events, a small camp site is available for motor-homes or small caravans. Further details on this page. Details are also available via the campinmygarden website.

This is a large site with discrete sections. If you get lost, return here and start again.

Contact email address: stevewozniak42 (AT) hotmail.com - and remember to replace (AT) by @

Copyright 2003 - 2016