This web site uses Cookies.

Your choice is to accept cookies or to change your browser’s cookie policy before continuing to use this web site.

The reason we offer this choice is that recent EU legislation states that cookies may only be placed with the user’s knowledge.

There is an informative web site about cookies provided by the UK’s independent body set up to uphold information rights here: it explains more about cookies and how you can control their use.

What are the benefits of using cookies?

For you: they store information you enter on a web site so it “remembers” what you entered on a previous page or a recent visit so you need not type it in again.

For us: we can see what pages people visit and spend most time on. That can help us fine-tune the site and that too is to your benefit.

What is the effect of blocking cookies?

In general your experience of the internet will be poorer. Many web sites just won’t work. This web site will work but not fully.

We use cookies as follows:

  • Some are used to gather statistical (NOT personal) information like which pages are most or least popular. A better understanding of our website visitors’ interest helps us make our web site more informative and easier to use.
  • Cookies are often used to store the contents of a shopping cart or the name of a product about which you’d like more information.
  • All cookies have expiry dates appropriate to their function. The longest expiry dates are for the statistics so we can identify how many visitors to the website return at a later date. We can not identify who those users are.
  • We write a “cookies are OK” cookie to your computer so you don’t see the alert again (the cookie expires after a year).
  • We do not place (or allow anyone else to place) third-party cookies from our web site.
  • Any information we hold about your use of our website is private between you and us.
  • We do not store any personal data in cookies (such as your name).
  • Our access to information on your computer is limited to what we placed in the cookie when we created it.

Should you block cookies?

There seems no point in blocking all cookies, the vast majority are used for purposes beneficial to you. Unwanted “tracking” cookies (not used here) are easily blocked and in any case they are not dangerous. But the choice is yours. If you object to cookies you can set cookies preferences to block some or all of them. If you choose to block all cookies there are aspects of many web sites, including this, that will not work. A common choice is to just block the more intrusive third party cookies.

What are Cookies?

Cookies are small text files placed on your computer by a web site. Many are necessary to make the web site work the way it’s intended, especially ecommerce and online banking sites.

There’s a lot more to the technology than can be explained in a few words, some of it deeply technical. That’s why it’s not well understood by the general public (and EU politicians!). One good independent attempt at explaining the issues is provided by the UK’s independent body set up to uphold information rights is

Are cookies “dangerous”?

Any concerns relate to privacy. Recent versions of the main web browsers and good computer security packages help prevent any abuses.

The abuses mostly involve third party “tracking cookies”. These can be used to build a profile based on the web sites visited from your computer. This profile is used to target advertising. Some people consider that building a profile like this is intrusive. Browsers can block those cookies and security packages can remove them. Some people ask if a cookie could contain a computer virus. No such risk has ever been demonstrated.

Some people consider that “tracking cookies” are a benefit. They argue that if you are going to see adverts on websites, surely it’s better if they are relevant to your interests. In addition many useful non-commercial web sites depend on payment for running these adverts. You decide. If you would prefer this web site not to create cookies follow these instructions to change your browser’s cookie policy before continuing.