Archive for June, 2010

What do plastic bags, packets of peas, Twinings foil bags and my brain have in common? …….they all live inside my head!!! Metaphorically that is and please note I said head, not brain. ūüôā

So today I was standing in the kitchen making myself a cup of tea and mulling over the fact that I just love tea, even though from time to time I do defect to the otherside and enjoy a cup of coffee; tea is my first love.

So while waiting for the kettle to boil and the tea to draw (?), I read the story on the side of the Twinings teabag box. Twinings it seems have made their boxes with wood from responsibly managed forests and are recycleable, which in itself is not really that remarkable since many other cardboard boxes are also recycleable, but what is brilliant is that the foil bag inside the box that keep the bags fresh, is biodegradeable!¬† And that is remarkable.¬† The story on the side of the box goes like this: “Forests are remarkable; they help to sustain plants, animals and the climate.¬† To help protect these places, we choose to use wood from responsibly managed forests to make our cartons.¬† What might surprise you is that even the wrap around the teabags (which looks like foil) is in fact made from wood pulp from sustainable sources.¬† This means it is full biodegradable, so pop it into your compost, along with your teabags and in a few months you will have ferliliser to help grow your own veg.¬† If home composting is not possible please dispose of in the waste bin”. (where else?)

So that got me to thinking about plastic and peas and recycling. I read an article in the New Scientist just the other day (a fab magazine if you want some great reading matter) about how plastic is not as we previously thought, totally indestructible.  In fact it does deteriorate and breakdown and eventually enters the mainstream of life via the oceanic creatures that we catch and eat.  The article mentions significant pieces of art by Russian-born scultor Naum Gabo housed at the Tate Modern gallery in London that have started to crumble without warning.

I recall that last year I started my own campaign to avoid buying or using anything that came in or was made from plastic, so that I could do my bit for the plant.  It was however, a futile attempt.  On closer inspection I realised that I would have to walk around stark naked, never buy or eat anything and not be able to ride in or on any vehicle in order to avoid plastic. It is everywhere.
The BP oil spill comes to mind when I write about this because of course plastic is a derivative of oil.¬† This then got me thinking about peas and I wondered if 99% of children growing up these days realise that peas come from a pod and not from a plastic¬†packet.¬† And should the saying “two peas in a pod” now become “two peas in a packet”?

I remember when I was a wee girl of about 7, my mother always shopped at the local greengrocers and we were able to choose ‘fresh, grown in the field behind the store’, produce.¬† We bought carrots that smelled like carrots, and peas that came in a pod and had to be shelled.¬† What fun that was and we usually ate more than eventually ended up in the pot!

So my endeavour to avoid plastic came to nil! We are surrounded by it.
I do hope that more and more companies will go the same route as Twinings and make their products biodegradable and meanwhile I will still avoid buying stuff in plastic wherever I can. Which leads me to why I hate Tesco’s.¬† Yes, they are convenient, but they are also invasive, much like the plastic and you can’t get away from them.¬† They could also send their staff on a customer relations/attitude course.¬†¬† The reason I hate them is that they don’t give a toss.¬† Buy a pint of milk, a loaf of bread, and various other items and you can be sure that the bread will end up at the bottom of the bag with the heavy stuff dumped on top.¬† The staff never look at you – the view outside is of more interest, they leave trolleys and stuff all over the store and if you happen to walk by, it is no problem to barge into and past you on whatever errand they are about. The shame of it is that yes their prices are cheaper and in these days of escalating prices sometimes you have to cave in and buy stuff from them. Like plastic they are everywhere; invasive and do the same to our high streets that plastic does to the environment.
I remember the days (a sure sign of old age) when my younger sister and I used to walk to the store to buy a loaf of freshly baked bread that came in a brown paper bag, lasted 2 days (coz it tasted so good we ate it pronto) and cholesterol wasn’t even heard of.¬†¬† Now, I can’t remember what a freshly baked loaf tastes, or even smells like anymore and am grateful just to be able to buy bread that will only expire after a week.¬† In those days we used to have our milk delivered to the door and it tasted like milk, today milk has no taste.¬†¬† It is completely mechanised from the poor cows that live in bulk in sheds all their lives, hooked up to machines, force fed and forced to mass produce babies so that we can buy it in yet another plastic bottle.¬† Which got me to thinking about how weird it is getting old.
The age stuff relates to my memory…. I can remember with total clarity (or at least it seems that way) things that happened aeons ago, but bugger me if I can remember stuff I did yesterday.¬† My brain has become a bit like a lump of swiss cheese.¬† I have a theory for that though….a few weeks ago my Doctors told me that my cholesterol was above 5.0 and I had to get it back below.¬† Now anyone who knows me knows I love my food and how much I hate dieting!¬†¬† ¬†But I think my brain (the bit that’s left), has gotten in on the act and decided to keep me active and induce me to get fit.¬† I’m upstairs and think of something I want to do or get from downstairs, so I dash down and no sooner do my feet hit the last step than the thought disappears in a pooff!¬†¬† Gone!¬† I stand in the middle of the kitchen like a dork, with my hand to my forehead desperately trying to remember what it was I was there for.¬† And I know for sure that the second I give up and trudge back up the stairs, I will just reach the top and voila…… I have to get back down….quick, before the damn thought disappears again.¬† This happens at least 10 times a day…I kid you not!!

So here’s the thing….if you see ‘pinkie’ anywhere, please ask him to send ‘brain’ over to my house. I don’t care a bit about conquering the world but I do need his services….my brain has gone AWOL and is RestingInPeace somewhere in Switzerland disguised¬†as a lump of cheese!

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What do you get when you mix Tradition, Pomp and Ceremony, a Queen, Princes, Princesses, Royal Artilleries, Horses, crowds of cheering people, and Red Arrows?

Trooping the Colour!

Troops marching by in Colour

The Sovereign’s official birthday is marked with a colourful mix of military bands,

Military Bands

precision marching, some 20,000 well-wishers, top hats and tails, flags and planes and a 41-gun salute, to create an exciting day of Pomp and Pagentry marking a tradition that goes back more than 4 centuries.

The event is an enactment of the traditional preparations for battle when the “colours”, or flags were “trooped” down the ranks so they would be recognised by the soldiers.¬†¬† This year’s celebration, marking her Majesty’s 84th birthday, saw the colour being paraded by the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.

This was the 58th ceremony at which the Queen has presided.¬†¬†¬† Looking radiant and dressed prettily in lilac with a flambouyant matching hat, sitting in Queen Victoria’s 1842 ivory-mounted phaeton drawn by a pair of horses, with Prince Philip at her side, she rode daintily down The Mall.

one of the carriages being driven to the Palace before the event

Queen Victoria's 1842 paheton drawn by two greys, on their way to the Palace to collect Queen Elizabeth II

Preceded by first Prince William and The Duchess of Cornwall in a carriage, then Prince Andrew with Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie in a second carriage, she was accompanied by the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Kent and the Princess Royal on horseback.

The Royal Standard flew colourfully and cheerfully above the Palace, while below, the streets were cleared of traffic and detritus in preparation for the Queen’s appearance.

The Royal Standard flapping jauntily above Buckingham Palace

The day began at 10am with slightly overcast skies and proceeded with Military precision till the fly-past at 1.30pm.   The British Military are renowned for their detail and each carefully choreographed display never missed a beat.

The enthusiasm of the crowds in front of Buckingham Palace, along The Mall and inside the Whitehall parade grounds was visibly palpable.  A ripple of excitement swept through the crowds that had gathered, standing 10 deep, when the first of the Regiments made their appearance. 

standing 10 deep

The Military Bands; 400 musicians, splendid in their colours of either red and black or black and gold, accessorised with enough bling to put any self-respecting Pop Star to shame, played a medley of military tunes and of course “God Save our Queen”.

all the Queen's horses and all the Queen's men...covered in bling!

The Troops; the different Regiments marked by their own particular colours and uniforms, marched past in snaking lines of Red, Black and Gold, boots shining, arms swinging jauntily in tandem as they made their way past the Palace to Horse Guards Parade.

snaking line of marching troops

The crowds watched in awe as the field guns, drawn by matching teams of horses rode past,

gun-carriages drawn by carefully matched horses

and in admiration as wave after wave of colour swept along The Mall.

Once the Colour was trooped, the Guards in their poppy red tunics and well-brushed bearskin hats filled the arena with a display of precision marching, after which the Royal family then returned to the Palace, stepping out en-mass onto the balcony to welcome back the Queen and Prince Philip.

After riding out along the route of cheering citizens come from all corners of the earth,

they come from all corners of the earth

the Queen returned to the Palace

Queen Elizabeth looking radiant returning to the Palace

and within minutes stepped onto the balcony to an enthusiastic wave of clapping, cheering and vigorous flag-waving! 

waving flags and cheering crowds greet Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip as they step onto the balcony

We were then treated to a Royal Air Force fly past, featuring the old stalwarts of World War II Рthe Spitfire II and Hurricane, as well as  fighter-jets and the Red Arrows which left a stream of blue, red and white plumes across the sky in their wake.

The Red Arrows - a plume of red, white and blue behind them

On the balcony the Queen waved enthusiastically, encouraged by the cheers of the crowd below.

And then….it was all over.¬† The crowds milled about, not sure what to do with themselves after all the preceeding excitment, and slowly but surely they slipped away to spend the rest of the day enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of London.

milling about after the excitement

I strolled into Green Park for a bit of rest and relaxation and to have a squizz at some of the delightful little elephants, part of the Elephant Parade, that are dotted about the city for the next few weeks.


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I read this article in one of the daily papers a few days ago and felt compelled to put my thoughts (aka irritation) on paper.

The title and story read as:


Ministers in New Zealand used official credit cards to buy porn movies, champagne, flowers for a partner and an aeroplane charter, it emerged today.¬† After official details of the 2003-2008 expenses were published, former housing minister Shane Jones admitted paying for the films, saying: “I’m a red-blooded adult.”

Now, as you are probably aware, we here in the UK have had our own share of Ministers expenses being abused.¬† Duck-houses being one of the most ridiculous!¬† And many of the Ministers have ‘apologised’ for their mis-demeanors and in some instances have paid back some of the funds they ripped off.¬† Call a spade a spade, they abused their expense claims and getting caught out was just an inconvenience.¬† I have no doubt if it was not brought to the attention of the powers that be and the public, whose taxes pay for all this, they would not have paid anything back and would most likely have continued to do what they had ‘accidently’ been doing for years.¬† Fortunately this has now come to an abrupt end and their expenses are more closely monitored.

Coming back to the article in the paper, I have no quarrel with a ‘red-blooded’ males buying porn movies if thats what it takes to make him happy, and good luck to them.¬† What I do take total exception to is the fact that as a Minister he blatently used public funds to accommodate his own personal tastes and thinks that being a ‘red-blooded’ is justification, and seems to be amazed at the fact this was questioned!

How about if the ministers of our various Governments who are voted into these positions of trust,¬†remember that they are meant to be working for the good of their constituencies and not using the position to rip the public off, thereby¬†satisfying their greed.¬† By all means claim for legitimate expenses, but for ‘porn movies’, under no circumstances is that acceptable or excusable.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

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One thing is for sure….my life is not boring!

The last few days have been weird to say the least with two very early morning wake-up calls. (long story for another time).  Needless to say I have been feeling somewhat like a zombie today.

So what a lovely surprise to have a ‘springwatch’ moment all of my own this morning.¬† I was in the kitchen doing whatever I was doing when I heard a calamitious noise outside.¬† A quick look out the window revealed a ‘fledging’. ūüôā Yes, my very own¬†viewing of¬†our resident¬†family of Blue-Tits on their first outing.

Now I am taking a bit of licence here coz I am not exactly sure this was the first outing, nevertheless it was my first sighting of the chicks with Mama and Papa, and my word what a din!

I got some great, albeit somewhat blurry photos Р(due to distance from where I was standing to where the family were perched).

The babies were so funny, landing in a flurry of wings onto the washline that is strung across the verandah, then flipping over upside down and hanging on for dear life.¬† Mother Tit flapping about, pecking at the food and feeding the chicks in turn (depending who was nearest and squarking the loudest ūüôā

Surprisingly, the babies were quite a bit larger than the parents, ever so very cute and boy did they make a din!!

here are the photos…(excuse the blurriness)

a blue-tit fledging

hey! I got here first...me first!!

the whole darn family is lined up..

hang on kids...grubs a coming

hiya Pop, what you doing down there?

oooppps....wheee this is fun ūüôā

no worries Ma, feed me anyway

look Ma, no hands!

so Mother, you reckon he's for the circus then!

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What is it about the early morning smell of percolating coffee that sets the olifactory senses in a whirl and the tastebuds drooling! 

I arrived back in Highgate this morning (Wedn June 2nd), a glorious summer day in London, bright and early (too early), so I stopped off at Costa Coffee to hook-up to the internet.  As I walked through the doors I was assailed by the heavenly smell of percolating coffee.

Costa coffee in Highgate


I often visit Costa Coffee in Highgate (one of my favourite places in London) and meet up with friends, my business coach and sometimes my daughter (although we more often go to High Tea of Highgate).¬† Coming back to the same place again and again is like the feeling you get when wearing a favourite jumper…warm and cosy, and I have been back so often that¬†I have qualified for a Costa ‘Coffee Club’ loyalty card.

Costa Club loyalty card


Although I am a dedicated tea drinker, my favourite being Twinings English Breakfast, my day cannot start without the first mug of tea; like nectar on the tongue Рthere is something about the smell of percolating coffee that assails my senses.

So here I am hooked-up and hooked-on to the internet, enjoying the cosy ambiance of fellow patrons sitting relaxing, the quiet buzz of conversation and the heavenly smell of my cappucino.

Cappucino with chocolate sprinkled on top ūüôā


and yes I do take four sugars with my coffee, but I make up for it by not having sugar in my tea ūüôā

I am back in Highgate for the next three months – in sha’a Allah, and love the feeling of visiting the same place again and again;

warm and cosy inside Costa coffee shop


That is the corner of my suitcase you can see in the foreground!¬† I do indeed¬†live like a gypsy, although these days it feels more like a tortoise ūüôā

And just to make it perfect, in the background I can hear the sounds of ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon ūüôā

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Hello.  Thanks for dropping by :).  I found a flyer the other day that piqued my interest; Cycle Slam 2010.  Anything with the words cycle or with the hint of travel, always catches my eye. 

On closer inspection I note that it is an advert for a Bike ride across Europe (London, UK to Timisoara, RO).  Now that is exciting. 

so here are the details: 

What: Bike ride across Europe (as above) 

When: From 1st to 20th August 2010 

Where: Europe (United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania) 

Why: To raise money to help Romania’s abandoned children¬†

Who: A core team of 20 cyclists plus anyone who wants to join

 The flyer appears to have been printed by a young man who goes by the name of Bogdan Christea.  He and his fiancee are two young, ambitious and hardworking entrepreneurs who want to raise money to help disadvantaged children live better lives. 

They are planning to leave in August this year, hopping on their bikes in London and won’t stop pedaling till they reach Timisoara in Romania.¬† Their route will take them through 9 countries and along they way they will visit some of the most beautiful cities in Europe.¬† They will be supported all the way by Amway and team NUTRILITE and hope to make this an experience of a lifetime; for themselves and of course for the children who will benefit from the funds they raise.¬†

map of Romania


He has chosen his home country of Romania, where children are still suffering in a childcare system that was left deeply damaged by the Communist regime.  Their dream is to help rebuild the system and thereby ensure that children there have a brighter future to look forward to. 

Timisoara, Romania


If you would like to take part in this ride for one or more of the dates across Europe, raising your own sponsorship, then this may be for you. 

For more information on this visit http://www.cycleslam.eu  they are also in twitter at http://www.twitter.com/cycleslam 

So if you are a keen cyclist, and fancy raising funds for a good cause then why not contact these folk and see what it’s all about. NB; do make sure that any event that involves raising funds are bona vide and have a registered charity number.¬†

Thanks to http://www.wseas.us/conferences/2009/timisoara/sse/location.htm for the picture 

Thanks to http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Timisoara_Romania_CIA2006.png for the picture

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