Sunday, 28 December 2008

Xmas card recycling scheme (don't forget the stamps!)

The Woodland Trust are running their Xmas card recycling scheme again and full details can be found here, just take all your old cards to participating shops such as WHSmith and M&S and pop them in the bins between 2nd and 31st January. Don't forget, as I've blogged before, the RSPB would love all your stamps to help save the albatross. Send your stamps here. (Please help save these longbirds.)

Happy New Year!

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Started thinking up New Year Resolutions yet?

Uhoh.. if you're stuck on ideas or short on willpower these links might help.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Don't forget to track Santa at Norad...

You can track Santa's progress this evening here.

Wishing you a Merry and peaceful Christmas.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Strictly sillyness and no movement down on interests rates please...

Tonight sees the sequin-laden finale of this year's Strictly Over-the-Top tears n' tantrums celebfest with three couples trying to fandango (ok, so it's probably a quickstep!) their way to holding aloft the glitterball trophy. Quite frankly, I can't wait..about time too. I am entirely bored by the Beeb's inability to be able to run any kind of phone-in competition without it resulting in high-farce (see last week's pointless phone-in exercise) and refunds and apologies. It's not difficult Aunty...get the judges to score, get the public to vote...job done! Let's hope they don't bother with a dance-off tonight, there's no point phoning in if they do, just let the judges decide it instead - it's not like it's for charity anymore anyway, I'm just watching for the fab dresses, the professionals-only dance routines and the judges' hysterical hyperbole.

Lots of talk about parity and deflation and the dreaded 0 percent barrier. I hope next year that the Bank of England keeps interest rates at about 2% or certainly above 1.5% so that, even with euro-parity, we can encourage investment in our financial markets, offer something to overseas investors and keep UK savings bringing in returns for the large numbers of people reliant on them. There is no point pouring in vast tonnes/tons of money into the financial system to then not give the system a framework robust enough to work within.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Phew - end of very long poem in sight!

Anyone who followed my blog back when it was on MySpace (changed to blogger because of all the endless automatic emails trying to sell me stuff or get me to part with cash that took forever to get through each day) will know that I've been writing a long poem about the history of Blue Bell Hill in Kent (from prehistoric to present day)for the last couple of years. I think I have just about finished the words, just a rhyme or two left about the Jack-In-The-Green to go and then have the pictures/diagrams/maps and photos to get to grips with. I should point out that the poem isn't actually that horrendously long but that I've only had a few hours here and there to work on it.... I then have to try and see if anyone is interested in publishing 'The Ballad Of Blue Bell Hill'...
I must admit, I had no idea how rich the North Downs would turn out to be with history and folklore from neolithic burials, Roman occupation, Saxon Kings, smugglers, hell-hounds and ghosts...

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Friday, 12 December 2008

Please save those stamps to save the albatross!

This year I'm saving all those Xmas card stamps again help save the albatross. 100,000 of these beautiful birds are killed every year on fishing hooks (one every five minutes)and they can't breed quickly enough to keep up. They are at real risk of dying out. Should you want to do something to help, you can find details and address to send all your festive stamps to here...

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Winter weather was just a little grim today... here's a reminder of the summer, it's easy to forget how pleasant it can be (when it's not raining/snowing/sleeting/freezing!)...

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Climate Change Action Day.

There is a National Climate Change march this saturday if you are in London as part of the Global Action Day.
There are four main themes
1) NO to a 3rd runway at Heathrow and the runaway expansion in aviation expansion.
2) NO new coal - no new coal-fired power stations as planned at eg Kingsnorth in Kent
3) NO to the expansion of agrofuels - with negative impacts on forests, the climate and world food supply.
4) YES to a renewable energy revolution and green jobs - a "Green new Deal"
For more information see links above.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Pre-Budget Tension...

The burning question about this most leaked budget must be will it work? Will it tempt people back out into spending and borrowing and pretending like it's 1999 again?

The answer for a lot of people is probably no. Because if you have bought a house in the last five years, with a 100% plus mortgage, changed your job in the last couple of years or work part time and have little chance of a decent redundancy deal, if you are maxed out on your credit card limits or nursing big loans and only paying back interest every month, if you pay by direct debit for your energy and have just had a massive increase in payments, if you are in a part ownership housing scheme and the rent for next year is going up or being swallowed up by your property portfolio because there's now no profit in buy-to-let, if you've been offered a cut in wages to save the company, reapplying to justify your job, seeing department budgets slashed...will you really wake up today and shout 'fabulous budget, I feel so much better' and rush off shopping? I don't think a few pennies off VAT will feel like much of an incentive at all. ( National Insurance Contributions should probably have a change of name to National Debt Levy..)

Monday, 24 November 2008

Fish technology, spicy fatballs and meteor ahoy!

Engineers are beginning to find ways to harness the energy caused by votexes in sea currents. (Something fish do when they swim.)Harnessing just 0.1% of the oceans' energy would support the energy needs of 15 billion people. Hurray for engineers with green intentions and great inventions!
If you have been constantly foiled in your attempts to leave out food for the birds by big fat grey squirrels the answer could lie in a good old dusting of chilli powder in the seed mix. See this article by the RSPB for details.
Loved this clip when I saw it on the news, meteor ahoy!

Friday, 21 November 2008

strictly not cricket... but definitely fab footie..

So, John and Kristina bow out of Strictly and, whether for personal reasons, prior engagements, embarrasment or just plain can't be doing with all the negative vibes from the judges, it somehow feels seems yet another nail in 'Aunty's' coffin, I can't imagine how the BBC has managed to make itself quite so unpopular or so out of touch with public opinion in the last few years!

If the judges want a dance competition, go back to the original 'Come Dancing' format, use only professional or amateur dancers from dance schools around the country and stop taking all that money from the public vote. (I think they should refund the phone vote for the entire series because of the lack of transparency in the public vote, or publish the vote results.)

It's interesting to see their rival, X-factor manage to use the public vote to solve deadlock amongst the judges voting disputes and decide the final winner.

Fab friendly footie match for England this week, 2-1 against Germany and I'm not even going to mention that goal, read about it here.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Please support this Bill.

Private Members' Bill: Take Action

On 7 October, the Autism Bill (Draft) was launched in Parliament, in partnership with Angela Browning MP and with comprehensive support from the autism community. This Bill has been developed to challenge the exclusion from services that many people with autism face and we need your help to ensure that the Bill is taken forward as what is known as a Private Members' Bill.
On 3 December the annual Private Members' Bill ballot will be held in the House of Commons. MPs'names are picked out of the ballot at random and the first few that are selected will have the opportunity to introduce a bill into Parliament which has a chance of becoming law.
The Autism Bill aims to strengthen information about the numbers of people with autism and their needs, in order to improve local planning and commissioning of services. It aims to improve inter-agency working to secure effective transition for disabled young people who are moving from child to adult services. Finally, it aims to ensure access to appropriate support and services for people with autism in adult life.
(text from the National Autistic Society)

Friday, 7 November 2008

Stonebarrow watercolour, spot the giant and yes, more cat stuff

Thought I'd share progress so far..

Sometimes paint dries/drys funny - spot the giant in the close-up not intentional at all..

And why cats can split hairs - the look on his face is saying..'You can't tell me off because technically, I'm not sitting on the table, I'm sitting on your source pictures...'

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Gone painting..back soon.

Inspired over the half term by Hardy country so will not be blogging quite so much for a while as painting calls. Review of Rothko exhibition to follow soon on Ripplestone Review....meanwhile here's one I did earlier..

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Did I hear correctly? Good news if I did.

I was half-listening to the Beeb this morning and I'm sure I heard that aviation will be included in CO2 emissions targets for 2050. Good news indeed if this is the case. I keep hearing '80% reduction by 2050' - Not sure what the starting figure is for that 80% and how much of that 80% target we have reached already... it will be interesting to see if this country can reorganise it's power supplies from profit-led large companies to smaller, community-led projects. Power without profit? Maybe still a vision for the future, like clean water for all and all trade as fair trade.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Strange days...farts, blogs, stickytape and sats fiasco,

Randomness in searching on the internet can often lead down strange paths, so far today I have learnt that:
...the smelly bit in farts might lower blood pressure,
...there are people getting bonuses this year for the sats fiasco,
...amateur blogging is being taken over by professional blogging,
...that sticky tape, when pulled off the reel fast enough can produce enough x-rays to x-ray a human digit... it's called triboluminescence.
(Word game - new word in play: triboluminescent)

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Earthships and solar ponds...

Was watching a documentary all about earthship houses while ironing, haven't finished it yet (ran out of t-shirts) but was beguiled by their gorgeously uplifting optimistic guilt-free greeness, quirky build and beautiful bottleglass walls. Was looking up something else and came upon the concept of solar ponds where water saturated with salt absorbs and retains heat for longer and now my mind is thinking of those walls full of empty glasss bottles and wondering if there isn't a way to fill them with a saturated salt solution to increase solar absorption... perhaps it only works on a large scale. There is an Earthship up in Scotland, you can find out about it here.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Yards of tittle-tattle in the papers heralds the return of pointless spin...

It's a shame to see the papers so full of yards of rubbish about who met who on what yacht to discuss this, that and the other while most of us in this country are concerned about rising fuel/living costs, the onset of recession, the lost millions of (council tax payers) council money and the effect that will have on services like education, police etc over the coming years.
Not to mention those now facing repossession and homelssness while the bankers still get fat-cat payouts and the fact that the country is borrowing huge sums of money to bail out the very system that put us in this mess in the first place....
Who said what to whom and sat next to who at whatever boat party is of no relevance to the current economic climate - and just goes to show how out of touch with the country, political spin now is. I am sure there are regulatory controls etc for party funding and any irregularities should be thoroughly scrutinised and investigated.
Let's hope PMQ's is not dominated by this load of silliness when so many people are facing such serious consequences in their lives.

Monday, 20 October 2008

credit crunch and the climate.... no time to stick our heads in the sand.

Thought that this was an interesting article about how the credit crunch could be disastrous for climate control measures...
I've long been a sceptic of all the carbon-trading schemes that governments around the world try and fool themselves into thinking they are being ecologically responsible with (if you want to produce less greenhouse gases use less carbon and less greenhouse gases!).

I keep hearing about ridiculous plans to build new airports, relocate new airports, allow more flights from airports... and even more silly, remove aviation emissions from targets! This might well become a moot point though as a global economic downturn will limit air travel anyway.

I do like the idea that councils are beginning to think of turning off street lights that aren't necessary, I'm sure there is all kinds of smart lighting technology that could be employed in some areas, street lighting that is activated by sensor when needed rather than lighting a whole arcade/street/underpass for hours for the two passerbys that might be using it. I saw an interesting article about how solar power technology is getting to the point that it can be wrapped around objects like buildings (and lamposts?) which would be great for city lighting.

Rather than carbon-trading we should be make commitments to fund innovative design and scientific progress into those old favourites...reduce, recycle, reuse. Not to mention championing green technologies. The difficulty will be, as the price tags for various green initiatives shows on this article, that individual homeowners will struggle during the credit crunch to find the kind of spare cash needed to implement these measures without subsidies and grants.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

3BT, three beautiful things in autumn

The sound of the wind in the trees while pulling out flints from the ground.

The colour of the leaves in the low autumn light.

The solid promise of the bulbs planted now for next Spring.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Kent Council madness..

The latest in pointless central government rulings handed down from on high is highlighted in this article... where now local schools have to hand back cash that has been carefully saved for several years and earmarked for specific projects that need large budgets and careful planning, such as special needs support suites ... once again, it will be the most vulnerable in the education system that lose out.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Found the lead thingy for the sprocket ... (see previous blog)

Spider safari....

Cobwebs in the rain and Hugh Jackman back to back..

Ahh, have lost the lead thingy that goes in the sprocket thingy to upload photos from spider safari, see previous blog.. never mind, have just watched two movies on DVD that both had Hugh Jackman in (chosen without realising he was in both) and it occurred to me that he has a chameleon ability to completely submerge into his characters and become unrecognisable.

I can recommend both movies if you didn't get to see them at the cinema. 'The Fountain' (Tree of Life/hero quest/eternal searching...that sort of thing - filming slightly obscures the interwoven stories but some damn fine imagery and acting.)and 'The Prestige', two magicians trying to out trick each other, nice twists to the plot but if you work it out early on, don't tell the person you're watching it with- you will only annoy them and get blamed for ruining it afterwards! (It is pretty easy to work out.) Nice to see Roger Rees in it and watch out for a cameo by David Bowie with a hugely scary moustache.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

42 day detention abandoned..creepy crawlies in the garden... and something to smile about

Glad to see this most dehumanising bit of legislation has been thrown out by the Lords and we that are not a police state quite yet.
The march of creepy crawlies in our gardens is underway, yet more if there aren't enough at this time of year, now we have to watch out for tube web spiders and false widows...
Off to go on spider safari in the garden...
While searching for the above BBC link I found these credit crunch jokes... something to smile about!

Sunday, 12 October 2008

‘Oh! Not in the chrysanthemums!’

A little ode in honour of
'Lets all post cat photos and dire poetry on our blogs' (LAPCPADPOUB*) day

I love my old moggy
- I really do
But I wish that my flowerbeds
Weren’t so full of his poo

(Just have to add to this - 5- 1! nothing to do with cats - all about football!)

Thursday, 9 October 2008

National Poetry Day

Find out more here about National Poetry Day

I sat down to write a poem
For National Poetry Day
But when I tried to think one up
I'd nothing much to say...

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Squirrel tracasserie...

No, not a recipe...anyone who watched Marco Pierre White's face as he tasted squirrel on the Great British Menu will know why 'tree rat in a basket' never features on pub menus... but what happens at this time of year when the squirrels, in a desperate bid to bury a winter's worth of nuts in my flowerbeds and pots, take up swearing at anything and everything that ventures into what they consider their territory.
It occurred to me that I haven't resurrected the word game on this new blog and tracasserie is too good a word to let slip by so here are the rules:

The Word Game

1) Award yourself ten points for dropping the word casually into conversation without anyone rumbling that you are playing the game.
2) Ten points for getting it into print.(Newspaper, magazine.)
3) Fifty points if you get to use it, in context, on a tv/radio broadcast.
4) Blogs, emails, letters - five points but only first use counts.
5) Ten points for spotting it used by another person.
6) The word stays in play until I change it...

The word in play is tracasserie.

(Disclaimer: Should you want to play you will be entrusted to keep your own scores, you can let me know the score for each word, if you want, when the word is no longer in play and I might even set up a scoreboard. Any trouble you get into for playing silly games when you should be working etc is entirely your own fault and I accept absolutely no responsibility at all! Play at your own risk.)

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

1.6 million litres a year and we all pay...

It was revealed yesterday by The Sun that Starbucks was wasting 1.6 million litres of water a year in the UK by leaving taps running. Apparently they are now going to turn off the taps which is a relief as it is exactly this kind of big, corporate waste that we all end up having to pay for with higher water rates.
I hope that this water was metered and charged for, if not there should be a mechanism for the water companies to reclaim the cost of that wasted water rather than passing it on to the domestic user because what is the point of us all fitting water efficient taps, showers, duel flush cisterns, smaller baths, water efficient washing machines, water butts etc if the commercial sector are, quite literally, emptying it down the drain?
(rant over)
Thought this was a great idea for an alternative power source, the hot water mines as this article in the Times yesterday revealed. Why isn't the UK investing in this sort of industry? Localised power for communities from a raft of green technologies (renewable wood/rubbish burning, wind, water, solar, ground heat etc) coming under a nationalised overall umbrella is exactly what we should all be investing in, not these sub-prime money markets. It means we stop reliance on the power giants and give people a really viable alternative local green economy to invest and work in. Well, I am sure there will be a million reasons why this is a rubbish idea...

Sunday, 5 October 2008

3BT, navel gazing, Strictly not enough time and gardening on the web...

Haven't done a 3BT for a while and so 'ere tis:

1) In a moment of random navel gazing indulgence I discovered that if I add up the day, month and year of my birthday it totals 2000.

2) Last night's Strictly...sadly I haven't the time to devote to blogging about it this year but if you are a fan you can relive the last night's action on the Strictly website (check out Tom and Camilla's black and gold brilliance!)Also Jaye's blog has updates and news...

3) Garden blogs, great for when it's hounding down with rain like today..try: Blackpitts Garden (lots of links as well to other well-known gardeners)
The Garden Monkey (blogger online) and
MyFolia where you can not only blog yourself but organise, share and track your garden's progress and that of the online community. (You'll find me in there somewhere...)

Saturday, 4 October 2008

government reshuffle just a case of the cabinet's new clothes...

I can't imagine anyone in the country will be fooled into thinking that shuffling an already chaotic government (does anyone actually know who's in charge of what department anymore?) will help.
Interesting report about people in the south east turning to wood as fuel to help beat rising gas/electic prices. It is only when customers start leaving and there is real competition in the market that the power companies will have to redress their profit margins and start introducing lower prices. It would be great to see wood coppicing returning and regenerating our native woodlands.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Maidstone Museum's new statue and 150 years of collecting...

Being one of those people who likes to collect stuff (objet trouve, memories....) I couldn't resist the chance (training day at school - child to entertain for a day!)to check out the Kaleidoscope Exhibition at Maidstone Museum & Bentliff Art Gallery which celebrates 150 years of collecting. The exhibit runs till 26th October and features some great and gruesome items from the museum's store cupboards, including a tigerskin from the days of the Raj complete with bullet holes. It also meant we were able to see the newly unveiled statue commemorating the 60th anniversary of the raising of the Queen's Gurkha Engineers by Sussex sculptor Mary Scott.
The museum continues to be a great local resource and of huge value for teaching younger generations all about our history and our community.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

On this website you'll find a slideshow of some gorgeous horse photos from Tim Flach's new book Equus.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Friday, 19 September 2008

Question Time is back and more Metallica tonight...

Watched last night's Question Time, great to see the series back. Some very interesting topics were raised, not just about the recent financial trading debacle, the US election and Labour's leadership no-contest situation (let's be honest, no one with a political career to worry about would want to be the PM who loses the next election for their party...) but also about the longer view over the direction that UK politics is going in terms of 'celebrity' and presidential-style leadership. In a popular culture that feeds off soundbites and youtube footage and where news stories, good or bad are immediately googled, texted and emailed around the globe, how politicians present themselves and their media impact is becoming vital in a race for poll points and ratings. This 'surface-culture' where the right outfit/hairstyle/lipstick is more important than ideaology seems to be importing itself into UK politics more and more, whether media or consumer/marketing-led and it will be interesting to see where it leads.
Just noticed that after 'Later..' on BBC 2 tonight there is a Metallica documentary abour their European tour.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Adult social care consultation and NAS conference(National Autistic Society)

A couple of reminders for those who care for or support people with Autism - the NAS has their conference in London this weekend on 19th/20th Sept and there is a chance to have your say on the reform of adult social services as the government are consulting with the public until the 28th November on their directgov website. Full details of both can be found at

To go to the goverment consultation site directly go to:

Beijing Paralympic Achievement...102 medals..congratulations!

Fantastic to see the GB team do so brilliantly in Beijing, coming second overall with 102 medals.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

ooooooh! glued to two tonight - Horizon and Later... (eco towns and transport earlier)

Tonight a couple of new series start on BBC Two - Horizon is back with what sounds like a corker of a show called 'The President's Guide to Science' in which leading scientists give words of advice to the future US President. Then at ten pm 'Later ...with Jools Holland' is back with stonking line-up including Metallica, Kings 0f Leon, Carla Bruni, Nicole Atkins and Sway. TV has never been so entertaining! I almost forgive the BBC for not having live coverage of the US Open tennis semis and final.
Talking of coverage I've managed to grab a few half hours here and there of the Lib Dem conference in Bournemouth and thought there were interesting points raised about Ecotowns and trunk road tariffs.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

October's looking interesting...VP debates and the LHC

So, the Large Hadron Collider (or Colander, as I heard it referred to on one news bulletin) successfully started up and should be giving results by next month which would be excitement itself if were not for the thought of the upcoming Vice Presidential debate on October the 2nd at Washington University. Palin v. Biden.
And I hope America will pay particular attention to the debate and remember what happened in the UK. Blair stepped down after winning an election for his party and we got Brown instead.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Rumple back up and running...

Thought I'd let anyone who was a fan of the imaginary band know, it's back up and running at it's new internet home:

Monday, 8 September 2008

US open radio tennis tonight...

Looking forward to the tennis tonight and will be cheering on (Muscles) Murray to win against Federer. Great commentary on Five Live over the last couple of nights covering the Murray/Nadal match but such a shame that the BEEB can't in some way offer tv coverage. No doubt it would involve large sums of money and re-scheduling effort to get tv rights etc (sometimes it seems like these big sporting events don't actually want people to watch them!) but I'm sure there are a lot of tennis fans who'd love the chance to see this kind of tournament available rather than have ridiculous amounts of money spent on retainers elsewhere in the service. We should champion the UK's sporting stars with the UK's tv station if we want to give the next generation of kids a sporting chance of being inspired.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Mass events…

Two events worth looking out for this next week that are likely to polarise opinion:
On Wednesday 10th Sept there will be the much anticipated first attempt to circulate a beam in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN followed by the worldwide release of the new album from Metallica, 'Death Magnetic' on September 12th .
You can find out about both at:

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Do they really think a vote is worth £150.00?

According to the Times everyone with kids will get a £150.00 pay out towards rising fuel bills this winter. Personally, considering the damage done by the 10p tax fiasco, I think the last thing this country needs is to have the noses of the very poor rubbed in the fact that the 'middle class' will get a perk (nice meal for the family or a couple of takeaways or a new set of scatter cushions...) while they just get a sop towards the crippling price of energy now. (Average bills must now be about £1000.) It is bizarre that a Prime Minister who is so concerned about global poverty and global child welfare is so unconcerned about the very real levels of fuel poverty in this country. I guess it's another way of sidestepping the issue instead of confronting the energy companies over their excessive profits. This payout shows how mad the economy is because it seems that even the government is admitting that most people will struggle to pay their energy bills this year, I mentioned 'middle class' earlier in this little rant, the truth of it is that New Labour have not made the majority or people wealthier, just a very few and we are now all 'working class' and fuel poor.(My vote is never for sale.)

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Paris Hilton's spoof campaign hits the spot...
After reading about it on the BBC website I had to check out Paris Hilton's spoof 'running for President' ad at Funny or Die. A brilliant bit of 'straight back at you and then some' attitude, after McCain used her to highlight Obama's 'celebrity' status. You go girl!

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Horn of Africa - Don't wait for the disaster, donate now.

Rising food prices, poor harvest, you don't have to wait till people are dying, you can always donate now at

Tuesday, 22 July 2008


It seems sats are fast becoming the educational equivalent of the ID card. Why do we need such a flagrant waste of public money? Just as what's the point of an ID card if you have a passport and photo driver's licence surely just make the passport compulsory if you really must have some form of ID, what's the point of sat's if they are not worth the paper they have/might have been marked on?
A little common sense and a little trust in teachers and head teachers to monitor the progress of their pupils acurately, within the school year and with the minimum of stress would be far more useful in those years before external exams such as GCSE's. Sats seem to do nothing but cause stress, cost money and ultimately, as seen this year, are worthless if they are incorrect. The schools are monitored by Offsted to see if the teaching is up to standard so why these extra exams?

Friday, 18 July 2008

Buckmore Park - local sports centre still closed?

Anybody know what is happening with the Buckmore Park Sports centre in Chatham? It was such a great asset to the local area and it seems a shame to think it's just sitting out in the park unused, especially as Lottery money helped to fund it. How many years has it been standing unused? With the London Olympics on the horizon it seems crazy that such a great sports facility (climbing wall, badmington, gym, pool etc)is idle, probably tied up in legal wrangling etc.

Talking of Olympics, as Beijing has temporarily closed down factories and industries etc to try and solve their pollution problems, it would be interesting to find out what the knock-on efffect of lack of raw materials on manufacture in the UK is. It will take about six months for materials to be shipped back round after the Olympics which means there could be some problems with supply and demand....

A day out a Hampton Court Palace Flower Show...

This was the second time I have visited the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, the first some ten plus years ago, and it was interesting to see how the show has grown. Last time the northside of the Long Water was for picnicking on with no stands or marquees or show gardens but provided a place to escape from the frantic bustle of the show and, on a sunny day, just chill for a while. Now the show is twice the size and the northside is as busy as the south and as such, makes for a long day to get round the whole show.
This time, arriving late-morning via park and ride (never underestimate the delight a short ride in an old Routemaster double-decker can give to kids!), we headed straight for an early lunch to avoid the queues and get a chance to orientate ourselves and work out what we wanted to see. Lunch was in the King’s Food Court, resplendent with its chandeliers and music from the nearby bandstand.
We had a small shopping list, a shade sail for the garden and a rose for the new pergola and a desire to see the show gardens, the children’s zone and scarecrow competition, the climate zone, the Thai floating market, the Daily Mail pavilion and the Festival of Roses... anything else, given the time frame, would be a bonus.
The crowds have grown in proportion to the show as well and I was pleased that the children had been issued with safety wrist bands at the entry gate, a good precaution, as the people with trolleys were on a mission to shop and had no scruples at all over barging past and splitting us up into the crowds. One lady even ran her plant-laden trolley over my foot without so much as a sorry in her hurry!

The Daily Mail pavilion was a delight, if a little disconcerting with its birdsong soundtrack. ‘The Beyond the Garden Wall’ garden by Hardy’s Cottage Plants was beautiful with sweetpea Matucana and a purple Ipomoea catching my eye among the fantastic long borders. There were two water rills and water was definitely a recurring theme throughout the show this year, both in the show gardens and falling from the sky! A couple of donkeys were a distraction for the kids and then we moved on through one of the Floral marquees.... read the rest of the review at

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Marco's Great British Feast and Bonekickers

The trouble with cooking on the telly is it starts to make you think about food and so after last night's second helping of Marco Pierre White's (MP3) gastronomic tour of the best of British, I couldn't stop trying to compile my own menu... summer pudding, potted shrimps, devilled kidneys, game pie, gooseberry fool, brandy snaps, kedgeree, junket, buttered leeks...ok, not necessarily in that order but... hmmm, extra time on the Wii fit for me today!
Last night saw cockle picking in Morcambe Bay(a poignant and lonely place), real ham for a real pig fed on real acorns, then hung up a real tree for a really long time and herring fishing in Clovelly, I remember a great cream tea in a wet Clovelly, donkeys and an old moto guzzi... and therein lies the genius of food on the telly, nothing evokes memory quite like a favourite dish.

I also caught up with Bonekickers, which, with all the hype seemed to be the next big thing after the Da Vinci Code...oh dear! It's from the Life on Mars team but there is little of the genius evident from that series. Crass.

More of MP3'S recipes at:

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Are hybrid cars a greener solution?

Reading the Times newspaper today I was pleased to see Jodrell Bank's future was looking safe but concerned to see other new technological advances being heralded as the way forward. Namely, electic/battery cars. I don't think open -cast nickel mining is necessarily good for the environment in the short term, or dotting the planet with nuclear power stations to provide power for millions and millions of new of cars is great in the long term either. (What's the cost of clean up at Sellafield now? One billion?)
In looking at future transport needs, surely removing the density of cars on the roads and having an efficient, cheap public transport network are the first priorities, even if this might mean facing the cold, hard fact that the days of power hungry (oil or battery or electric) personal cars are numbered.

Monday, 7 July 2008

What a Wimbledon!

Wow, so busy having a rant in my last blog I completely forget to mention the fanatastic final in the tennis yesterday. Can't wait for next year!

Parsimonious sauce with the peas please, sir!

Ah, food waste. Surely the call should be to food manufacturers and food suppliers to stop pre-packagaging and incentivising bulk food sales with short shelf lives? The stuff that ends up in the bin is not where the problem starts. What is it they say, prevention is better than cure? I'm sure, in light of the current economic climate, there will be plenty of belt-tightening and leftovers on the menu over the next few years in the UK. On the subject of waste though, how about cutting back on spending £285 million on hosting a summit for 8 leaders, have they not heard of a telephone? One wonders how big the eco-footprint of that particular G8 jolly will be.
Anyway can't wait for next week's handy hints at 'how to live frugally now the cost of living is out of control even though the economy is fine...'

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Murray out in three sets to Nadal...

Great day of tennis yesterday, from Federer's first set - perfectly played in the half hour window between rain showers - to Murray's gracious defeat at the hands of an unstoppable Nadal. Safin is through too, just one quarter-final to finish off today for the line-up for the men's semi-finals.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

African Summit

It is a great shame that there has not been more outcry from Leaders in Africa over Robert Mugabe's sham election of intimidation and violence.
It got me thinking what happened to that shipload (An Yue Jiang) of weapons that China had sent to South Africa and port workers had refused to unload as they were destined for Zimbabwe. It seems it ended up in Angola, one of Mugabe's allies, but I could not find any more reference to it apart from that Angola would only unload what was destined for them. With only Zambia between Angola and Zimbabwe and the African Summit seemingly toothless in it's response to Mugabe's brutality, I hope that is the case.

Muscles Murray wins epic!

Talk about being on the edge of your seat watching the tennis last night - Murray's epic five set victory over Gasquet(whoever was booing him on and off court ought to be ashamed of themselves -when you've got to go, you've got to go!)was fantastic fun to watch - Wimbledon is really good this year. I think I said in my last post that I thought Tipsarevic would get through but he lost to Schuettler instead. Ladies singles quarter finals today - men's tomorrow!

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Wimbledon saturday..can't wait for monday!

Loving the tennis this year - although I think the bottom half of the men's draw will be a real toughy this year, Tipsarevic, Murray and Nadal are all looking unstoppable and I would think any of those three could be in the final with Federer, although Safin is looking pretty good in the top half of the draw..roll on Monday!

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Wimbledon, what a corker this year...

Well, it was a colourful start to Wimbledon this year as John McEnroe turned the airwaves blue with his no-nonsense commentary.. and that was just the start of it.
Chris Eaton upset the applecart and landed Boris Pashanski in a right old mess by beating him is straight sets leaving the crowds on Henman's Hill with a tough choice, will it be Murray's Mount or Eaton's Army this year.
Nadal dropped a set (actually I'm not sure he did drop a set, it might have been a tie-break thing!), Venus Williams dropped a set and Djokovic drops out completely in three straight sets in fantastic game with Safin today.
There's all kinds of fuss over clothing - personally I think you can't beat a nice cardie but what do I know about tennis fashion...I do think Wimbledon needs to get tough on those logos appearing all over the outfits again, leave them for the ad campaigns, not the court.
All this and it hasn't even started raining yet...

Friday, 20 June 2008

Mr. Ed Balls, please visit these schools and see for yourself why for some of our kids just getting an 'ology' isn't good enough..

638 schools have been put at risk for failing to attain enough gcse passes in their students. But I would chose at least one of the schools on this list for my son because what the school actually provides is not only the chance of getting a gcse (or five!) but also of getting a very real chance of learning how to forge an independent adult life.
Getting five GCSE passes isn't going to suddenly stop knife crime, reduce recreational drug use, stop violence within the home, an 'ology' or five isn't some sticky plaster with which to patch up a fragmented, over-stretched society. But going to a school where you have the chance to learn to overcome whatever your circumstances may be, whether it be learning difficulties, behavioural issues or family circumstances, may well mean the difference between an idependent, self-reliant, happy adult and one who relies on state support and care for the rest of their lives. Please visit these schools, see the tremendous work they do in building a future for our children and stop kidding yourself that poverty and exam ability are somehow inextricably linked and the root of society's ills.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Fabulous tennis final - one more week to Wimbledon!

Managed to watch the Artois Championships yesterday to see Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the final - great match, can't wait for Wimbledon.

Friday, 13 June 2008

A 3BT thing...

Three bumble bees on the same buddleja globosa flower.

The sound of recorders in a church.

A slice of carrot cake, because I've lost FOUR pounds - the WIIfit is truly a beuatiful thing!

Monday, 9 June 2008

42 days, tax fuel equally, 1 in 3 in poverty?

Detaining suspects for up to 42 days without charge seems to me, to be paving the way towards allowing 'Guantanamo Bay' style detention centres in the UK. Not a road, as a society, I would want to travel down.
A £10 billion tax let-off for plane fuel? To make green taxes work, fuels need to be equally taxed according to their damage to the environment.
One in three children still lives in poverty in this country, this figure is bound to rise as the credit crunch bites yet I am not hearing anything about how the government is going to tackle this.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

3BT address...

Just reread last post - website/blog for 3BT at

Three beautiful things...

I was directed to this site by a friend, lovely idea, so here goes.. 3BTs so far this morning:

Cutting love-in-a-mist for the house after the drizzly rain had finished decorating them with delicate diamonds.

Remembering to take my reusable shopping bags into the shopping centre rather than leaving them in the boot of the car.

Admiring the fish pattern made out of the coloured marbles on a chinese chequers board.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Wouldn't it be better to sell alcohol responsibly ?

Alcohol sales have got out of hand, supermarkets pile it high and sell it cheap (3 bottles of wine for under a tenner at Asda now...) as though it were bread or toilet rolls. But alcohol isn't bread, or toilet rolls, it's a luxury item that, when mishandled and misused, wrecks health and lives and blights communities.
Social responsibility for sensible drinking lies not only with families, in teaching their young how to drink sensibly and within safe, legal limits but also with the retailers in selling alcohol to the communities on whom they rely for their workforce and their customers. Social responsibility should not end as soon as someone steps through a supermarket door. We always hear lip service about supermarkets and their community values - are they prepared to put people's health and welfare before alcohol profits?

Monday, 19 May 2008

Mushishi, wiifit and papertoys...

Watched Mushishi the other night and I have to say, I am still trying to work out what happened at the end, anyone has any ideas as to what happened please let me know...WARNING SPOILER! look away now if you haven't seen it ...why did he disappear?

Wii fit is proving to be a huge hit - aerobics has never been such fun although worryingly, I seem to be really enjoying the boxing...

This is a great website for budding modelmakers...

Thursday, 15 May 2008

PM's big plans...New coastal footpath ?!? we will all be able to take a nice long stroll around the island we can no longer afford to live on...

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

China's earthquake tragedy...

As the death toll keeps rising as more towns and villages are found to have been devasted, I hope the chinese authorities will start to accept more outside help, especially from teams ofering search and rescue support with sniffer dogs. At this stage the priority is not in recriminations but must be in locating and rescuing any survivors and, as with the Burmese cyclone, no country should have to cope alone in the face of such disaster beacause these tragedies are beyond political control and reach out to the wider humanity in all of us.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Myanmar/Burma Cyclone appeals - immediate humanitarian relief needed.

I hope the Burmese government immediately allows non-political humanitarian disaster relief agencies over it's borders to help with securing clean water, emergency food rations and medical aid to the flooded delta area. This immediate action would help to save lives, prevent outbreaks of devasting disease such as dysentry and typhoid and allow the government to continue to coordinate the huge amount of work that will be needed to start rebuilding the country's infrastructure.

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Voting and Beltane...

Tomorrow is May day, not the public holiday but Beltane. Out and about today and I couldn't help noticing all the new green leaves on the trees, the bank of cowslips bursting into flower and the swirling petals of pink blossom, dislodged by the rain, a change in the air with the promise of summer soon.
Let's hope voting tomorrow brings a change too.

(Someone pointed out that I write my posts in the small hours of the morning - in fact, they are written during the day - it's the clock that's wrong, I'll try and change it!)

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Grand Designs live week..

Building an ecological, energy saving house in a week? - what a great idea, starts on Sunday on Channel four for a week.

Monday, 21 April 2008

'Help for poor later' ????

How much later? When 5.3 million of the lowest paid have been pushed closer to declaring bancruptcy or voluntary insolvency because, as we head into credit crunch around the world because banks etc have been selling credit(most of it unregulated from the amount of wildly ridiculous offers of instant credit I get in the junk mail!)without looking at the consequences, 'New Labour' is going to maybe help out at some unspecified time... maybe, if we they can be bothered... meanwhile nothing is done to end the disparate charging of power companies to this sector of the population as well or the fact that house values have risen to the point of pure greed...if I am having a bit of a rant here and it's getting incoherent well, tough, I'm angry! These are my angry eyes!
If this is Labour's plan to head off a recession then quite frankly, God help us. This sector of society can not support the middle-aged, middle-class sector and if this budge was seen as some kind of vote-winning exercise, because that five point three million votes won't count, then I hope it backfires because it makes me sick to the stomach.
In fact, I'm so angry I'm going to stop. There is something deeply wrong with this govenment's moral compass if it honestly believes the 10p rate is justifiable, this isn't a plan for a thriving society..

Friday, 18 April 2008

Hoop Hoop Hooray...

Hula hoops have taken out all the additives, preservatives and MSG from their potato hoops..yummy!

Link to the 'Terminal Five' song on You Tube...

Saturday, 12 April 2008

You say potato...

My recent blog about hot potatoes has reminded me that this year is the Year of the Potato. I think the European potato crop for 2007 was 8% higher than 2006 and, considering the world food crisis over wheat and rice, we should be easing pressure in demand for wheat and rice in Europe by eating more of our fantastic potato crops.
I'm off in search for websites with potato recipes, meanwhile this is all about the year of the spud.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Juggling the Hot Olympic Potato...

The Olympic torch has become one big political hot potato as it is passed(jostled/ rugbytackled/bused) from country to country, presumably eventually back to China in time for the Games later this year. I can't believe that anyone actually thought China would be able to hold the games without having its human rights record put under the spotlight. Of course, Mr Brown has decided he was never going to attend the opening ceremony because that would be a waste of tax payers money to do so...(Didn't he recently go on a big tour to China with Richard Branson when they were deciding not to nationalise The Northern Rock? Was that trip at taxpayers expense?)

The real problem with the Olympics is that sporting endeavour has become eclipsed by trying to make the games financially and politically succesful for the host countries. Money and medals are never a good mix.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Running for water ...

Here's a link to Greenforce where you can read all about the six Maasai warriors who will be running the London Marathon in tradional outfits to raise funds for a clean well for their community.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Stonehenge Dig...

A couple of links should you be interested...

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

World Autism Awareness Day and 'postcode lottery' for early years setting

It is still shocking that early years provision, especially for children with special educational needs is still largely determined by the vagaries of whichever authority your postcode falls under. This is without doubt a most arbitary and cruel way to determine how we, as a society, provide for the most vulnerable in our society. There is no doubt in my mind that early years provision and support for children with special needs, particularly autism, ASD and Aspergers has huge benefits for not only the children, in helping to give them a solid foundation from which to cope with the challenges their lives will bring but also in helping parents and carers cope, understand and support the demands of their children. Today is World Autism Awareness Day. Let's hope that the Medway authorities are taking note.

Monday, 31 March 2008

Disappointed about Garden Organic Yalding closure...

Just been trying to sort out places to visit this (non-Easter) Easter hols and had been looking forward to finally visiting Garden Organic Yalding only to find on the website it won't be opening this year, I really hope a way is found to keep it open so the likes of me (amateur organic gardener without a clue)can be inspired from the expertise contained therein.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Lights off it's Earth Hour this weekend....

Invicta fm are organising an Earth Hour this weekend, encouraging everyone across Kent to turn off our lights for one hour between 8-9pm tomorrow, Saturday 29th March.
More info about the idea at:

Baggage hell, computer games, end of ashes to ashes...

Sometimes bigger isn't better, as ably demonstrated by the new baggage handling technique at T5 in Heathrow yesterday, which must be rather embarrasssing after watching a programme all about how they'd tested the baggage handling capacity before the terminal opened. Computer glitches are to be blamed, though I'm sure those passengers who have had connections missed, business plans destroyed, holidays ruined and a night on a T5 bench will consider it more than a glitch.
Talking of computer glitches, I am delighted that a review of the computer games industry has found that ratings need to be overhauled. First person shooter games, often devoid of moral reasoning or consequences of actions should have an 18 cert. and the ratings should be the same as cinema and DVD guidelines, nice to see someone is finally showing a bit of common sense.

I have been enjoying the 'Ashes to Ashes' series and was sad to see it end last night I hope it returns next year so I can continue saying all those things like 'Oh, I had shoes/a hairstyle like that, I loved this song! Look at that lamp!'

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Olympic parabolic miror focuses it's uncomfortable glare on Beijing...

As the torch was lit for the relay around the world to unite atheletes to compete in the Olympics, the parabolic mirror managed to focus most on China's poor record on human rights and particularly the recent violence in Tibet. It will be interesting to see how China reacts over the next few months to the olive branch torch heading it's way, a symbol of peace, hope and a world sporting movement dedicated to competition without descrimination, retribution or fear.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Class sizes to keep increasing...teaching by proxy?

Just watched a depressing news article about a prediction of class sizes increasing from 20 to 30 pupils up to a super-size of 70 to 90 with one teacher in charge of a group of assistants attending to the class. Teaching assistants do a fantastic job and if you have a child with complex behavioural difficulties or special learning needs, they are an absolute necessity within the classroom but I'm not sure many teachers chose their profession so they can be supervisors. I am worried that this hierachical approach to class organisation would lead to a greater alienation of children within the education system, easily slipping into anonimity within such huge classes and becoming little more than a set of numbers and test results with little access to the main education provider in the classroom setting. Unless the ta's have a full teaching certificate how would parents ever have confidence in the system? Not to mention the problem these super-sized establishments would bring with everything from transport gridlock in getting pupils to school to epidemic and infection control nightmares.(Think back to the college campuses dealing with meningitis outbreaks.)
We have seen the results of massive hierachical structuring in public services such as the NHS - not been a huge success has it? I think eduation will become even more polarised in this country as those with money will pay for individual private tution or home-education rather than risk the sausage-machine approach of one class-fits-all. Education shouldn't be about profit margins and league tables. It is about building the foundations of our future society and about giving the next generation the best chance of being productive and happy members of society. A child lost in a huge, fragmented class with little sense of place or self image within a giant regimented system that only rewards uniformity and league-table positions is more likely to be a dissaffected and under-achieving adult in both the workplace and relationships with little regard for a society that sees no individual worth in them.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Banana Saucepan Cake


3 oz unsalted butter
3oz dark brown soft sugar
1 large banana or two small
6 to 9 oz self raising flour
2 free range eggs, whisked

Grease and flour non-stick loaf tin really well.

Place large saucepan on lowest heat possible and melt 3 oz unsalted butter in it.
Add 3 oz dark brown sugar and melt in together, stirring well till combined. Do not let mixture burn or boil. (Take care - hot butter and sugar burns!)
Remove from heat, place pan on heatproof surface and mash banana into mixture.
Then add 6 oz flour and whisked eggs, mixing well. Do not worry if mixture starts to curdle, add more flour. Keep adding flour to you hit a consistency of cake you are happy with, the drier the mixture the drier the cake.

Spoon mixture into tin, and cook in preheated oven, 175 Âșc for up to half an hour or so. Check cake after 15 mins to see if it is burning on top and not cooking through – turn down heat if this is case. Check with knife through middle of cake to test when cooked, if knife comes out clean cake is cooked.

Slide knife round sides and turn out onto rack to cool when cooked. Best eaten cold. Keeps well for a couple of days if kept in airtight container.

Maybe not holier, but definitely richer than you...

Apparently a Vatican Cardinal has drawn up a new list of sins for the modern world. Included in those is accumulating excessive wealth...not sure where the line is drawn but but it is worth remembering the Vatican has an accumulated worth estimated at $10 - $15 billion....

Monday, 10 March 2008

Photovoltaic cells...and water tanks!
The above link shows a picture of the kind of metal water tanks used to collect rainwater off roofs in drought affected areas of the world (we should be using this kind of rain-water collecting technology for every new house built in the south-east as there is not going to be enough water in the resevoirs to cope with demand in the future if we get incresingly hot summers. Also good for areas prone to groundwater flooding where you might not want to drink the local supply! Either underground storage for groups of houses or individual tanks for single builds.) I wonder if galvanised steel could have this new photovoltaic cells coating on it? Water storage and electricity generation together in your in your back yard - now that would be good!! (It would have to be engineered so it wasn't 'live'!)

Photovoltaic cells...fab idea!
The above link is an article about research being done at Swansea University for coating steel with photo-voltaic cells to generate power! What a fab idea!

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Koozac maths game

The Click programme on the BBC this week featured a nifty website for a tetris-style game that relies on your mental arithmetic skills! Get in training now at and hone up your skills for working out how we will be paying for the New Labour deficit, I mean budget!

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Scitech to end funding for the e-Merlin project

Article today in the Times about the proposed budget cuts to the UK's world-leading radio-astronomy project - e-Merlin.
(More info about e-Merlin at the Royal Astronomical Society and Scitech)

I hope some form of public/educational funding is found for the 2.5 million needed to keep this project running as this budget slashing seems to be aimed at the heart of the type of scientific inventiveness central to our national psyche.

Monday, 3 March 2008


Each year
A renewal
Each flower
A confirmation
Of life now

Email virus warning...

Apparently there's a email system-killer virus on the loose, do not open emails entitled along the lines of 'life is great' unless you absolutely can vouchsafe who they are from!

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Not eco towns but easy and cost-effective eco homes

Rather than new flagship eco towns being built, I'd like to see existing housing stock (and houses being built now)revitalised with affordable green schemes within reach of everyone. Green roofs for garages available at DIY stores for under a hundred quid - easy and effective way to help combat water run-off. Power suppliers offering community power generation schemes. Water authorities offering water collection and storage schemes...

Friday, 29 February 2008

Eco towns...or 'do as I say, not do as I do'...

The Labour proposal to build new eco-towns is laughable. What's the point if the rest of the country is full of energy guzzling housing, antiquated or external fuel sources (and I include nuclear in that description), inefficient public transport, overcrowded road networks, plastic bags and standby buttons? Talk about shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted! In a market where house prices are inflated to the point the next generation in this country have little hope of owning a home, let alone worrying whether the rooftiles are sustainable is a bit like offering cake instead of bread. Not to mention the fact that these towns are going on brownfield sites (like old hospitals and foot and mouth cattle pits...nice, you wouldn't want your kids digging any of that lot up in their sandpit would you?).
And who will live in these towns, will they be green too? Will there be a strict code of conduct? Lights out at nine pm, no plastic toys, biodegradable bicycles only, no imported lettuce?

E-day passed by without so much as a flicker of good-intent on the national grid-o-meter - there is still tonnes and tonnes that could be done in educating and changing lifestyles rather than embarking on a programme of vanity-building in places no one wants to live.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Runways and referendums...

If you were watching The Daily Politics on BBC2 today you would have noticed that there were protests today at Westminster. One on the roof about airport expansion and a march for a referendum on the European Treaty.
One way to reduce carbon emmissions is to travel less.
Planes release lots of CO2 (amongst other gases and stuff)high up in the atmosphere, pretty much where you least want greenhouse gases to be. To fill a plane up with people you have to get them from their house to the plane and, while the notion of everyone walking or cycling round the M25 to Heathrow is rather appealing, I am pretty certain that a lot more CO2 is burnt getting them there. I still think the best bet is to reduce air flight as much as possible and encourage a better rail network feeding into Europe because less CO2 will be used getting people to local train stations than a centralised (southern!) airport.
Logically, if we really want to stop the rise in CO2 in the future, stop building larger and larger airports, stop building wider and wider roads and stop putting stand by buttons on power consuming equipment.
A referendum on Europe? Regardless of whether this is a treaty or constitutes a change of constitution it does feel like the general public is being sidelined by parliament about whether we have any say over what happens to us in the wider context of Europe. Trust, once lost, is always harder to regain.
Even if a public vote isn't necessary in this case and this treaty is simply a 'new improved lite' version of the constitution, a little more effort spent on explanation of the treaty and what it actually means for us all, wouldn't go amiss.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

12 day half term and south east gridlock...

Why do teachers need so many training days and why do training days never coincide with all the schools in the area but are tagged on to various holidays regardless of what other schools may or may not be doing? I've just finished a 12 day half term because the kids are in different schools and if you are a working parent childcare must be a huge headache! (I know I'm going to get it in the neck about how hard done by teachers are, the long hours they work, the kids they have to deal with, targets and assesments they have to meet....) Getting the kids to school is great fun in the south east now, roll on all these new Thames Gateway developments... loads more cars on the road, loads more congestion, loads more CO2! And no, before you say it, car sharing will not work. For a start, a lot of people are on flexi or shift work and not everyone wants to spend the first half hour of the morning with 'that bloke with the nervous cough from human resources who just happens to live half a mile away and never pays for the petrol, ever ...', most people are trying to get kids to baby care/school/grandparents and negotiate the endless supply of speed cameras, variable or otherwise that presumably prop up the government's road widening scheme. This sounds really ranty - you'd never guess I've got a cold! (I've obviously made up the guy from resources before you start wondering!)
This morning was like a scene from Doctor Who, everyone trapped on motorways going nowhere.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Sci-fi and space exploration blog back up...

Oola's sci-fi blog now has a new home at

Attila the Hun...

Watched the interesting mini-film about Attila the Hun last night, if you missed it you can still find on the BBC Iplayer. (Rory McCann as a six foot six Attila) There was a lot of blood and thunder re-enactment but not much in the way of socio-political context other than that he really annoyed the Romans. I would have like to have seen a bit more about the rise of the Hun empire. Whenever I hear the name Attila, I am reminded of the poet Attila the Stockbroker, you can find his work at

Thursday, 21 February 2008

All set for E-day?
(27-28 February)

Sick note - Pulling a sickie or a sign of a wider social malaise?

In the summer plans are afoot to try and stem the tide of the so-called sick-note culture which affects the UK. Doctors will be urged to try and find ways to write a well-note, outlining what parts of the job a patient can do, or steps to be taken to try and get the patient back to work (and off benefits) as soon as possible. While some see this as asking doctors to 'police' the benefits system, I can't help wondering if our sick-note culture is the price we pay for our 24-7 lifestyle.

A longer, harder look at our working hours, minimum wage, lunch breaks, smoking, eating and drinking habits, child care for working parents, burden of individual debt, long term caring responsibilities of the elderly, mentally ill etc., might well find evidence that we are pushing the fabric and pace of our society to it's limits and something, somewhere will give. There will always be people who think a hand-out is easier than a job but when a large proportion of society prefer to opt out, surely we should look for the cause as well as simply treat the symptoms?

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Lunar eclipse tonight/tomorrow morning...

Should you be a night owl, tonight there is a total eclipse of the moon... viewable in UK from about 3.00 am onwards. No internet links for this one - would suggest just try looking out the window....

Monday, 18 February 2008

Telephone trees and banking bungles...

Out and about yesterday and, having spotted several phone masts 'disguised' as the most hideous trees possible, I mean really, not realistic at all, I got to thinking why? Why bother, because mobile phone masts are part of modern outdoor furniture aren't they? I know, I know, no one wants to live near one and fair enough, nor should people have to but as a design object they have a certain invisible modernity. You look at it and think 'phone mast' and move on. But a fake tree? You look at it and think 'what it a piece of art masquering as an ugly tree..does it have a purpose, I wouldn't want that near my house..what is it and did it have to so tall and so oddly twigless?' At which point, if you are driving down a motorway in your fuel-efficient small car, you might have well missed your turning or worse, shunted the car in front which had slowed down to look at the weird telephone tree.
Northern Rock finally gets nationalised but after so much time wasting and dithering I wonder how many jobs will now be on the line? No matter how the government tried to dress it up it was still what it was, a bank in trouble that no one else wanted to buy. It seems Labour managed to turn this particular drama into a protracted crisis.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Steven Spielberg pulls out as artistic director for 2008 Beijing Olympics

Well done to Mr. Spielberg for putting the wider needs of humanity first. Read the full story at
(I am unable to log onto the IOC website at this present time!)

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

A Beautiful Dream

A beautiful dream like laughter in summer
A ripple of water over stones
A moment of silence before the song starts
A voyage home

A forest caught in the late rainstorm
A shiver from the open window
A cobweb of rainbows in the sunlight
A moment alone
And where the skies and waters meet
Pour my eyes to sleep
I'll wait and see
I'll wait and see a beautiful dream

Monday, 11 February 2008

First bumble bee in garden

The incredibly mild weather has bought out the bumble bees. Encountered the first one in the garden today but there isn't much flowering at the moment for it. Check out what's springing up now in the garden at

Sunday, 10 February 2008

17,000 reasons why equality under the British Law system should never be eroded....

There is a saddening report in the Independent today about the 17,000 victims of 'honour crimes' in this country. . Our legal system should never be hijacked by such discrimination but be there to protect the civil liberties and rights of the women as equally and rigorously as the rights of the men in this country.

Friday, 8 February 2008


One law for one, one law for another? Never a good idea. Are women allowed to be Archbishops yet?

Thursday, 7 February 2008

A 2-1 win in friendly...

Last night the new England manager, Capello, gave the fans a straightforward answer to why he's the man for the job, a 2-1 win in the friendly with Switzerland. While Rooney came within a whisker's breadth of some great goals, it was teamwork and making opportunities that forced the victory. (Jenus and Wright-Phillips scoring the goals.) Even the pitch at Wembley held up. More wins like that please, all the way to the World Cup.
(I can think of someone else who could do with practising some straightforward answers to questions!)

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Think differently...

Websites for budding engineers... learning fun!

Have you had a weekend stuck indoors due to bad weather/colds etc and wondered how to keep everyone entertained? These websites are endless entertainment for budding engineers and designers - but be warned - launchball has the whole family hooked!
(At the lego site the instructions are available to rebuild all those creations whose leaflets have long since been lost!)

back again, back again..moving blog home!

Yep, here I am... again, apparently some trouble accessing my blog on other sites so have returned back to blogger! I shall endeavour to make this the blog bit of ripplestone.. you can still catch me at and also (mini arts and nature ezine) and of course the ripplestone garden on flickr...