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It’s been another busy and varied day here at Bigland Towers, most of it spent holed up in my office, tying to clear-up a backlog of picture editing, paperwork and other administrative chores. I’d hoped I might have got out with the camera for a while, but it wasn’t to be. The weather’s improved slightly in that we’ve not had wall to wall rain but the low cloud and grey skies have hardly been conducive to slipping out. Instead I made the most of my desk time. I’ve almost cleared the picture editing/captioning backlog. You can find new additions from my Singapore sojourns on My Zenfolio website. The travel shots are here and the rail shots are here.

Of course, today was also budget day. I resisted the temptation to watch as I was working as I knew I’d only end up shouting at the TV at the sheer brass-neck of Hunt and Co claiming what a wonderful job they’re doing of running the economy and how the country’s safe in their hands. As soon as they have to claim the budget won’t just help the rich you know the opposite is true. Meanwhile, the OBR predicts the UK will avoid recession in 2023, but the economy will shrink by 0.2% and we’ll have the biggest fall in spending power for 70 years which makes Hunt’s budget look like little more than tinkering to shore up the Tory vote (hence the pension changes that benefit the rich), Some of the other stuff announced was so trivial and banal it gave the game away. Levelling up? Nah, we’ve ditched that idea by deferring building HS2 North of Birmingham for two years to ‘save’ money (although that’s been proven to be a lie by the leak of the Government’s own assessments) instead Hunt announced £200m this year to help local councils in England repair potholes. Well, that’ll really turn things around, won’t it? Honestly, talk about a Government without an ambition or vision – or contact with the real world! Oh, and don’t get me started on the freezing of the fuel duty escalator for the nth year in a row. That’ll cost £6bn this year and hardly help the government reach its net-zero target. It’s yet another populist measure that shows winning an election is all that matters. The environment (and the planet) be damned!

Meanwhile – in that real world – the banking sector is in danger of going into another meltdown. The collapse of America’s Silicon Valley Bank has been followed by a crisis at Credit Suisse which has spooked the global markets even more. The FTSE lost 3.83% of its value today, the biggest fall since the start of the Covid pandemic, wiping out all of 2023 gains to take us back to December 2022. The global economy – already rocked by the Ukraine war – could be entering even choppier waters and with the UK’s economy having so many underlying weaknesses (and an incompetent Government) we’re more susceptible than many. I genuinely hope I’m proved wrong on this one as I’m fed up of living in uncertain times.

All this has meant I’ve been in pensive mode today. Having returned from Asia I’ve tried to remain optimistic, but when I see the state of the UK it’s hard to maintain that sometimes. I visited one of our local supermarkets today to pick up some more shopping and the way prices have increased just in the two months I’ve been away was a shock. Inflation may be going down later this year, but does anyone seriously think that means prices are going to decline? When I look at the cost of living here compared to Malaysia and Thailand…

Anyway, I’ll try and find my optimism again soo. I’m sure it’s here somewhere…

In the meantime, here’s today’s picture – which is another from my Asia trip. Regular readers will know of my interest in and love of architecture. Whilst I was wandering around Singapore I spotted these old spiral staircase fire escapes. I love the style, shapes and colours so couldn’t resist grabbing a picture.

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