Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Beautiful Balloon Release...

Listening to Radio 4 about seabirds and plastic reminded me of this so I'm updating and re-posting.

Balloons are lovely aren't they. All shiny and floaty. Either being played with by children at a party or floating off into the wild blue after a wedding. Balloons are used for competitions too, whose will travel the farthest? And for sending prayers, or for memorials.  Like everyone else I think the sight of hundreds of balloons soaring up into a blue sky is a beautiful thing, trailing tags with notes of love to heaven, what a gorgeous idea...but balloons come down, and when they do they kill things, lots of things.

They fall into rivers, get snarled in trees, drift to the sea, and wildlife gets caught up or eats the burst 'skins' of the balloons (particularly turtles that naturally eat jellyfish drifting in the sea)

You wouldn't organise a mass litter. Please don't organise a balloon release.(Ditto 'sky lanterns')  Maybe you need more convincing, if so here are some links. I'd appreciate it if you spread the word.

But just telling people not to do something can be quite unhelpful, so I searched around for some celebration ideas. Here are some other things you could do that would not harm our planet.

I especially like this idea 

"Floating flowers- For a lot of people, the gently upward drifting of balloons gives them a sense of letting go, and at the same time thinking the balloon will eventually reach their loved one. Because remembering a loved one by potentially killing another life isn’t exactly the best feeling, there are many alternatives. Floating flowers or flower petals down a calm stream can give you the same sense of letting go. You will be able to be in nature and feel the energy of your loved one and all the life that surrounds you! Be sure to use non-poisonous flowers and not to let go an excessive amount."

We only have one chance, let's not screw it up - I want a beautiful planet for future generations. I hope you do too.

All Pictures Above Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Members of Parliament and their members. A Rant about Cock Pictures

So a Minister has sent a picture of his todger to a journalist who he believed to be a young female researcher. He is married with 5 children.

Is he sleazy? Yes. Was he wrong to do it? morally wrong? yes. Was he stupid to send a digital copy of his cock over t'interwebs to a woman? yes

Twitter seem to agree, among the humour and cock pictures are some angry tweets about his stupidity and lack of morals.

And at first I agreed, after all what sort of creep, married with 5 kids sends pics of his shlong to young women online? but then I had a rethink, what if the MP was a young woman and the journalist had posed as a man? What if the entrapment was the other way round. And again I wasn't alone, lots of people though the entrapment was the disgusting part. That the newspaper and the journalist were to blame, after all, being sleazy is not a crime, betraying your wife, while pretty vile, is a person's own business.

And again I was swayed. I thought 'yes he's been a fool but so what. the newspaper was in the wrong even more'

But then my husband pointed out that we are in a country in a state of high alert for terrorism, we have parliament recalled for talks on war, and during all that we have MPs that think it's OK to send pictures of their John Thomas to female researchers on twitter because they believe on the strength of a few tweets that the woman is who she says she is.

Because a Minister needs to be more savvy. If a journalist can take the time to set up an account and create a false persona online just to get a willy picture, then what would others do to get things they need? Using a cock shot as blackmail would be a beginning but leading to what? secrets shared, information accidentally given or even given deliberately assuming that this new twitter friend was a researcher in the House of Commons so she must have clearance...it's all ok right? Because people online don't lie do they?!

So for me after all the outrage at the Sunday Mirror, and the laughter at Brooks Newmark's paisley pyjamas, after all the moral outrage on behalf of his family, I'm left thinking that the biggest question is why we allow MPs onto social media with so little training, they do not seem to understand the basic lesson that I teach my 14 year old.
"On the internet, nobody knows you are a dog"

On the internet no one knows you are a dog
Peter Steiner's cartoon, as published in The New Yorker

It seems to me that the government needs to ensure that MPs and all who work for the government and use social media need some proper security training. And that is the issue this has revealed.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Small Changes in my shopping basket - organic additions

When Waitrose asked me to try some small changes to make a bigger impact, by adding some organic things to my shopping list, I was happy to help. I have bought organic meat in the past as I don't like the idea of the routine use of antibiotics etc in my food. And of course organic vs chemicals doesn't just affect the consumer, if affects nature too, the entire food chain. I like to buy organic fruit or veg when I can but it's easy to forget that other things have chemicals pumped into them too to increase the yield (and in the west, more often, the profit margin) so I was interested to look at all the other things in the Waitrose store that fell into the 'organic basket'.

I already mentioned that I bought a really nice organic wine, helped in my choice by the extremely pleasant and knowledgeable wine staff. But I also bought organic fruit juice (delicious!) organic coffee (fair trade too and I have bought this before so I know it's good) and organic tea bags (Clipper - unbleached bags, I am impressed with the strength and quality and may permanently switch from my usual Assam).

I bought organic sugar (how can I forget that's a plant too!) Organic milk (I really think I should try and only get organic milk - it makes sense if I like organic meat!) ditto eggs.

I added organic tinned sweet corn, herbs (no one wants to eat leaves that are sprayed with chemicals), and organic tomato passata , and organic pasta - I plan to make a pasta bake from those ingredients, with some cheese on top.

I had some jam and some really tangy and tasty organic orange marmalade too, it seems that I don't think about processed foods or fruit and veg used in recipes so much, so I shall be thinking organic where I can in future. I may not be able to afford to buy totally organic but small changes...

What could you swap for organic in your shopping basket?

Stuck for ideas? Check out Waitrose's excellent organic inspired recipe selection here 

An interesting read on the current news about insecticides can be found here

Disclaimer - I was sent some vouchers towards the cost of my organic purchases but all thoughts are my own

Thursday, September 25, 2014

When I am in charge....

Imagine you were in charge. I know it’s a daft fantasy but just imagine for a minute that what you wanted or decided could change things. I would, for example, like to rid the world of guns, and bombs too probably. People could settle scores with hand to hand combat or a chat over a pint instead. But that’s a huge change, even in my little fantasy of being in charge. So what a ‘realistic’ changes that I would make to improve things?

Copyright: sellingpix / 123RF Stock Photo

Here are my top 7

  • I would ban buskers using amplifiers. Sorry but no more electric powered stuff for buskers. No blaring backing tracks, no amplified electric guitar. You play an instrument, or you sing. That’s it. You are a busker, you are not an act trying to entertain an entire town at once. People like you, they will stop and listen, they don’t and they should be able to get out of earshot PDQ

  • I would bring back a dog licence. I’d add all the usual clauses for the truly hard up and the elderly etc but I’d bring back a reasonable licence. I’d use the money to pay for more bins for dog mess and some fenced and dedicated dog parks in all towns. I would consider a test before you get the licence too – maybe updated every 5 years like a dog owner’s MOT. Breeders would have to have a special licence on top of the individual dog ones, and they would remain responsible for every pup they sold. Microchipping would be compulsory.

  • I would set up a Parentline, a sort of hotline for parenting questions. So that when your child says “everyone else is allowed” you could ring and check. There would be a lit of ages and bedtimes too, and a guide to TV shows and Films that ‘everyone is allowed’ to watch. Finally you would have some backup! “I rang Parentline and no, not all 10 year olds have their own iPad” “I’ve checked with Parentline and it seems that Bride of Chucky is not watched by all 7 year olds as you claim” “Parentline has confirmed that all 5 year olds DO have to eat their peas” – also there would be an official ‘Wine o’clock’ text sent to anyone that registered.

  • I would hire both Grammar and fashion police. They would patrol in distinctive uniforms of bottle green and royal blue respectively. The grammar police would correct signs and might have a dedicated social media team. The fashion police would watch out for extreme hipster behaviour, see through leggings and shuffling teens in Uggs. On the spot fines would pay for these police forces. Especially well turned out people would receive vouchers to spend in local coffee shops.

  • Voting would be a legal requirement for anyone over 18, though there would be a ‘none of the useless twats’ box that you could tick to show how you felt, next to this box would be a comments area that the candidates would all have to read by law. I’d also investigate a simple online/telephone voting system.

  • I would ban eating food while walking, or on public transport. All food would be consumed at cafes, home or dedicated food benches set up across towns and cities. People would be encouraged to sit and chat while eating (though not with their mouths full) and there would be free iced water and wifi,

  • which brings me to – free wifi. There would be free wifi everywhere practical. It would be easy to access without having to fill in 2 pages of details about yourself. Though to get full access to all sites you would need to have signed up somehow and prove you are over 18. Maybe just give people a PIN?

What about you? Any pet peeves you could fix with new rules if you were in power?

If you are inspired to blog your own changes - I've added a Linky thing - do link  up!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Organic September - Pancakes!

I was asked to help Waitrose celebrate Organic September. Waitrose are supporting the Soil Association's 'Small Changes, Big Difference campaign'.

They challenged me to add some organic products into my daily menus. Luckily they sent me some vouchers to help with the change. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that not all the organic options cost more, or if they did, not too much more.

This evening for example I had some Organic yoghurt, they were on offer, so that 8 pots of yoghurt were £3 (I haven't eaten all 8 yet, though they were so nice I did eat two)

But yesterday we started with a bang! Straight in with a proper treat and some proper cooking!

a bag of organic flour

I love making pancakes, but I never ever measure the ingredients, well, I count the eggs but I'm not sure that is the same as measuring...I have taught DD to cook in this way too - I suspect any family recipes will have to be passed on by the 'teach the next generation' method, writing them down is hard...

pancake ingredients

So here is my recipe: I use 'some' organic flour (Duchy no less, probably ground by royalty), two organic eggs (laid by the Prince himself - Duchy again - those hens must be the most pampered in England surely?), some Organic milk, and a splop (technical term) of organic sunflower oil.

two eggs in a bowl with flour and milk

pancake batter

So into the pan my mix went. And then when perfectly cooked - I served the pancakes with banana and maple syrup.

organic pancake with banana and maple syrup

An excellent start to my organic week I think. Oh and I opened a bottle of really nice Organic Italian Wine at £7.79

organic wine