Nothing gets my goat more than senseless regulation – and now the Westminster government want to clamp down on wood-burning stoves.

So a minute ago, we were all encouraged to put in wood-pellet fired boilers. Now, we're being told that the ones that sit in our house are ruining the planet.

And this is all at the same time as power stations are importing wood pellets from the US and Scandinavia to fire them up and anaerobic digesters are having crops trucked in to them from hundreds of miles away, burning many litres of diesel.

Sometimes, you just couldn't make it up.

Singing sensations

SCOTLAND'S famous Farmers and Farmers' Wives choirs are going international!

But, don't worry it's only for a small sortie over the Border to Carlisle at the behest of Carlisle Rotary Club, who will host the popular songsters at the Sands Centre Carlisle, this Sunday, January 27.

Both choirs were formed in September, 2013, to take part in a concert to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Scottish Association of Young farmers – that was the start of a journey that has seen the choirs perform at events all over Scotland, including a regular appearance at the Royal Highland Show.

Being involved in the choirs has brought so many people together, which, has not only renewed old friendships but created many new ones. To date, the combined choir has raised more than £33,000 for a number of charities.

For this concert, the choirs will perform free of charge with all proceeds being split equally between four charities – Meningitis Now, Eden Valley Hospice, Motor Neurone Disease Association and MacMillan Cancer Support.

Tickets can be obtained from the Sands Box Office (01228 633766) at £15 each plus booking fee. Get booked up, it's always great entertainment!

No excuses now

With less than 10 days to the Self Assessment tax return deadline – it's the end of the month – those who fill in their own forms are being advised to make sure their excuses are watertight for not filing on time.

This timely advice has been issued by DSR Tax Claims, a business which specialises in keeping people right. According to its David Redfern those with a reasonable excuse for a potential delay, will be able to apply to have their penalty quashed – but there are loads of of excuses which HMRC will not accept for late filing or payment.

HMRC has a hit list of the most unreasonable excuses it has received for late filing. Among its 'winning' excuses this year was a taxpayer blaming a broken boiler for them being too cold to type out their Self Assessment tax return, as well as a taxpayer blaming being cursed by a witchy mother-in-law for being unable to make the deadline.

As far as HMRC are concerned, you are responsible for the filing and payment of your tax affairs and any failure of your own making will not be reason enough to appeal. You have been warned that nothing short of a reasonable excuse, like being in hospital or suffering a life-threatening condition' preclude you from dealing with the tax demons!

It's all a bit Death and Dr Hornbrook ... one of Burns' best satirical poems!