Peter Rhodes on insurance, name-changes and an extraordinary encounter between man and whale

I renew the house insurance and a couple of days later an email arrives asking: “Would you recommend your Home Insurance?”

Who pays? (stock image of a fire-damaged house)
Who pays? (stock image of a fire-damaged house)

No, I'm not going to recommend any insurance policy because, like any other customer who has yet to make a claim, I've no idea whether it's good, bad or indifferent. The proper test of a policy is when your boiler explodes and a hard-faced agent tells you they won't pay out because one of your door locks doesn't conform to sub-clause iii(b) of clause 3345 of the T&Cs. And how could you possibly argue your case when, two days after buying the policy, you had recommended it warmly online? Endorsements are valuable. Save yours until you've seen the product working.

When this blazing and occasionally threatening summer has passed, we will huddle in the cold, wet misery of a typical September and lament the passing of those glorious long, warm evenings sipping something chilled and cheerful under a blood-red harvest moon. Rupert Kirkwood, a keen kayaker living in Devon, will certainly remember this tropical summer for the sea creatures he encountered - especially one 30-ft Minke whale which circled his tiny boat for 20 minutes.

He says: “The beauty of them (whales) – which always makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck – is the noise of the blowhole. . . it guided me to it with the noise.” He's a lyrical and talented naturalist and you can find his work at The Lone Kayaker – Rupert Kirkwood's Wild World of Water. As seen from a Kayak.

Kirkwood's tale proves an old rule of maritime travel – the smaller your boat the more you use it. While superyachts rarely leave their moorings and weeds grow under boats on their trailers, kayakers swarm into the sea at the drop of a hat and come home with memories the rest of us can only envy.

I think I'm going to stop telling people I've got Covid. I'm fed-up with the same response: “How? You never go anywhere.”

Standard Life Aberdeen was roundly mocked last year when it compressed its name to Abrdn which it claimed was “more modern, dynamic and engaging.” Anyway, after a cancelled deal, Abrdn has just plunged deeply into the red. Obolox.

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