Footwear industry is damaging health for profit

Lowering standards of general footwear in recent years, is leading (I believe) to more injuries.

As people are forced into ever more expensive footwear purchases, made on the cheap but retailing at a premium, those buying "regular" footwear are seeing an ever increasing issue with injuries.

Example:

Buying a run of the mill pair of trainers from a so called discount retailer, first the "sale" price is no sale at all (was £28.99 now £19.99, the price they have been for months).
Secondly, the standard of these trainers, are a low quality. Thin insoles, can lead to leg/knee/foot injuries.

Now if I want to pay a premium price, say in the region of £45 to £60, I get slightly better insoles, but not always, regardless of branding.

Of course I could go for, "Running shoes," but these are in excess of £70 and above. Ridiculous prices.

Next up is the classing of footwear.
"These £19.99 trainers are no good for kicking a ball around, they soon fall apart"
Is met with, "They are not designed to play sport in!"
So why are they sold as trainers then? No reply.
They have little to no insoles, they are not fit for running. Kick a ball around or run around a tennis court for 30 minutes, nope, not designed for that either.
Even the £1.99 black or white PE pumps from the markets used to last longer than the cheap alternatives today.

So what options if I want a pair of trainers for comfort at work and to kick a ball around in, on a school yard/dry field then?
"All weather boots"
But the cheaper range (£25 to £35) have the same issues with thin insoles and with "all weather" soles, soon wear out. So not suitable for general wear in the workplace.

How about the expensive, "Running shoes"?
Not designed for kicking a ball around or general wear. Just for running.
But these have the insoles that were previously standard in trainers, with support and prevented injuries.
They are over-priced also, which makes them unavailable to a section of society that would most likely need them.
Children from low income families (and adults) cannot afford to pay such prices.

By definition, trainers are designed for sports of all kinds.
By redefining each style into a separate category (running/football/tennis) etc, they (retailers and manufacturers) are increasing their profits, at the cost of our health.

In my role as a sports coach, I see this more and more.
Active and very active children, enjoying their sports, are picking up injuries to knees, ankles, heels, hips and groins.
Each time, I look at their footwear and without exception, they are in run of the mill basic regular trainers/shoes. Fine for all round wear, but if they play sports regularly, then injuries occur.

One final example to prove this process is at play.
Football boots.
In recent times these too have been recategorised.
It used to be the case, where football boots were football boots. Now they have "soft ground," "grass" and "hard ground" "all weather" football boots.
Each of course with varying prices and levels of quality.
Insole standards are poor.
What used to be, metal studs (times six, four front and two back) are now soft ground boots.
Plastic studs or blades are now hard ground or all weather boots.
The combination of blades and metal studs is also resulting in more injuries.

Metal six studded football boots are designed to not only grip, but allow for turning when the foot is planted.
Boots with six studs and two blades near the middle might look trendy in the shop, but if you are on firm ground, plant your foot and try to turn with your weight on it, it jars your leg/joints and can/often does, cause injuries.

Investigations into the footwear industry are long overdue.
Costs of treating a twisted knee, pain relief, physio, GP visits, support equipment, etc. Soon mount up.
More importantly, as our children compete in sports as they develop/grow, it's vital that they don't suffer these injuries, many of which can be avoided if minimum standards are applied.

Google SEO is a waste of space

Are you chasing higher search engine rankings on google?

I wouldn't bother.
I've been doing a lot of reading and experimenting for this over the past 6 months, with a brand new website, which (for once) I thought I would sort out from the beginning as regards SEO (search engine optimisation).
It's just a hobby website (thankfully) not for a business.

I started out with a highly used, recommended SEO plug in, with features such as schema, breadcrumbs, meta settings, etc.
I have configured and reconfigured via this plug in far too many times. Each time, checking with google to see how it reads to the search engine.

One error, then I correct this (after hours reading into the problem) then run a test again to find another error and so it continues.

Finally it shows the post as being all good for search engine listing, days later I check google to see if it's at least being listed now, it's not *sigh*

Now it's being crawled, but not being listed, there's an issue with breadcrumbs for the post, so back into the read/try loop and tested until it shows no errors and it's submitted for listing.
Days later, again I look to see if it's being listed... it's not, there's yet another error preventing it from being listed. Where was this error days ago when I changed the settings and tested it? Who knows!

I submitted sitemaps, I've adjusted all the theme and plug in settings, a total waste of time and effort.
As it stands, after six months, 24 post pages are said by google to "be listed", only 7 post pages actually are.
The meta data is too long, then it's too short, then it's not there, then it's not used. You simply cannot win.
I'm beginning to think google is taking the absolute wass out of people with websites.

Too many internal links, not enough internal links, without me making any effort to have them or not.
Next, the style of the rare post pages that are listed.
Using schema makes SEO so easy... really?

It doesn't make a blind bit of difference to google.
Schema, for those that are not aware, is how the top paying websites get those lovely picture, caption, ratings, google results and push your website to the top of their rankings on a given subject.
Google "Chocolate brownie recipe" and look at the first few pages, you'll find they are using schema for the most part (search the page code), except in real life, your results look nothing like theirs!

Using schema for SEO on my website, shows the title (ok so far) then the website address (ok again) then nothing from the meta data typed in on each individual post, nothing about the breadcrumbs, again different on each post, instead preferring to list "comments, please sign in to comment again" where the actual text should be!
Absolutely useless!
Even when google does actually list a post page, it hides the text/meta text in the results. What is the point of that!

Try submitting sitemaps then?
First it shows all four site maps listed, days later it claims only one has been submitted, then it says it has four submitted but cannot use them due to their format? (xml format is an industry format, does google want me to submit them in written ink on paper?)

One final throw of the dice, I'll try submitting sitemaps/website to another search engine, Bing.

"Do you want to import your website information from google?" Yes.
I log in and let it import from google. One single sitemap is showing on google and nothing else.
It appears that after six months of submitting pages, sitemaps, posts, tags, categories, etc. Google has only got information on one single sitemap.
Google cannot even get that right.
So was it any better with bing? Nope.

Exactly the same waste of time.

How does my new website compare to this old website on google search?
It doesn't.
Without any SEO on this website, it ranks far higher for subjects and gets hundreds of hits per day.
The new website, after 6 months of being messed about with SEO gets from 1 to 5 hits per day.

If you wish for your website to be listed - never mind rank on their first page of results for whatever topic - with a normal topic of your choosing, then the only way to achieve this, is to PAY for it (despite what all those SEO experts tell you).

The Christmas cupboard

Living on a tight budget, means changing ways to approach different times of the year.
A little planning goes a long way.

One such planning, is around Christmas.

You know the score, it's all around you, friends, advertisements, etc.
Christmas, Christmas, Christmas!

The Christmas cupboard in our gaff, is one of many ways to alleviate the costs of a wonderful, but expensive, time of year.
Two weeks ago, it started with the sale price of a tub of roses.
Last week it was two bottles of branded lemonade, which is always in short supply during the festive period.

The rules are simple.
Is it a "sale" price?
Will it still be in date during the Christmas holidays?

You'd be surprised how it mounts up, not only helping the savings, but the heavy lifting and madness of the festive period.

UPDATE: 
Week 3: Chocolate coins for the tree, Matchmakers (discounted and in date), good old after eights (reduced), tonic, ginger ale and soda water (bottle of each)

Covid lockdown support for local business

When lockdown struck, food was scarce.
Faced with ridiculous queues at supermarkets, or starving.
Step forward local butchers and fruit & veg wholesalers.

A ready supply of eggs, fruit, veg, milk, meat and the like, without hiking up their prices to exploit a need in their customer base.

They really kept us going.
But it wasn't unusual, it was business as usual for them and us.

Using local business for as much as possible, just kept on going.

Real heroes in our house, huge thanks to them.

Dyson ball animal 2 (upright)

* Unsponsored product review

After battling with the Shark NV681UKT Powered Lift-Away True Pet Vacuum Cleaner, for almost 2 months, their tech help people decided we had, "the wrong type of carpet" and issued a code for me to return it to Argos and exchange it for another model.
The good people at Argos (tip of the hat for great customer service @ArgosHelpers) made the whole process very easy.
A quick ring to check the code out, at the store and we were good to go, to choose another vacuum.

We opted to pay our last remaining £100 (emergency budget) on the Dyson ball animal 2 vacuum.

So for your perusal, here's our review of it.

Positives:
Outstanding cleaning!
Picks up animal hair with ease (on medium power), leaves no lines where it's dragged back, the suction is A1, the best we have had for a vacuum. One to two passes over the hair and it was gone.
Some behind the radiator dust I brushed out over a week ago, right up against the skirting board, was gone in seconds (the shark machine couldn't get near it). At last, a true "pet" vacuum cleaner.
Very quiet, remarkably so, one of the quietest machines we've ever had.
Very long cable - ideal for an open plan house layout.
Usual selection of attachments, including a sideways roller adaption for the furniture and an extension head for getting under stuff with a suction powered attachment.
Cleaning our front room carpet, the shark took around 1 hour 10 minutes (still leaving bits that had to be scraped up with a rubber soled foot) - the Dyson ball animal 2 took around 8 minutes, without any bits left on the carpet!

Negatives:
The price.
We paid £299 in total, but considering all the messing about with our previous shark and it's performance, it still represents good value.

Overall:
Pet cleaning - outstanding!
Does exactly what it claims to do. 10/10
Suction - superb, even on the medium setting.
Suction remains strong on uneven surfaces 10/10
Gadgets - all the usual plus a pet hair settee adaption and an adapter to reach under furniture (suction powered) 10/10
Cord - almost 11 metres, very good for our open plan house. 10/10
Edge suction - very good, especially when head on. 10/10
Price - the only thing that lets it down a bit, but it is a new machine and one of the top of the range. 8/10

It's fair to say we are very pleased with the dyson, so much so, the better half and I have been hoovering up twice a day. This, in our house, is very rare!