Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

To Kindle or not to Kindle?

I’ve been wondering recently whether to put a Kindle on my birthday wish list.  It’s not my birthday yet folks so don’t panic but you have to realise that in my house I have to start dropping the hints early-on and at regular intervals so they become fixed into the minds of all my family because that way there’s a tiny, teeny chance that I’ll get at least one thing that I want.  Not that I’m bitter or anything.

Anyway, these kindle things.  They’re popping up in more and more places.  Every time I go into the rest room at work I see yet another colleague with lunch in one hand, kindle in the other.  And at swimming club, the bloke who sits next to me has one.  My friend bought one recently too because she says they’re great for taking on holiday and I have to say, that’s probably the biggest advantage.  It must be nice to read a book by the pool or on the beach without said book falling apart due to sand, beer,  salt-water, tequila’s, sun-cream, ice-cream, wine etc. getting all over it.

So Book or Kindle?  Let’s see . . .

  • Convenience – the holiday thing as mentioned above.  But at least you can share books.  I suspect that not many people would be prepared to lend out their Kindles.  You finish one book on holiday and then you lend it to your friend/sister/whoever and they lend you one back that they’ve just finished.  And there are book shelves in most hotels anyway where visitors take and leave books so you needn’t really take any books with you unless there’s a particular book you want to read.
  • Takes up less space.  Yes, but my book shelf wouldn’t look half as homely with one little kindle sat there instead of my musty collection of books.  In fact it would look really quite lonely.
  • Much easier to read in bed.  Got me there.  I find it really hard to hold my book when I’m led in bed, especially if it’s a large book or a hard-back.  I just can’t get comfy and my wrists start to ache after a while from trying to keep the book open with my thumb.
  • E-books are cheaper.  Yes but it would take a lot of e-book purchases to cancel out the initial cost of the Kindle.  In any case, there are second-hand book shops.  Used books are cheap.  And what about the little corner book shops?  Amazon, on-line Waterstones and what-not have already started to cripple the independents.  How can they ever hope to compete with a Kindle.  And there are the public libraries.  Oh, erm Gideon and Cammy-boy are getting rid of those aren’t they.  Well the central libraries will still be there (I think. Hope).  I can’t see those libraries lending out Kindles although I’m sure there will come a time when libraries are lending out e-books.
  • Kindles make great gifts.  Well that depends on how much you want to spend.  I often buy books as gifts for friends and family.  I love buying people books for their birthday.  It’s  so easy.  You just choose something that’s appropriate to their views or personality and they love that you’ve given them something so thoughtful.  And I love the ritual of writing a witty, personal message on the inside cover then dating and signing it.  How can I do that if the Kindle replaces real books?

Well, there you go.  I think I’ve just talked myself out of abandoning the lovely, pulpy book for a Kindle.  Yes, for me there’s just something about the good, old-fashioned book that can never be replaced by electronics.  It’s the smell.  The feel.  The look.  I love my books.  And I love my beloved book shelf that displays everything I’ve read over the years – each book instantly there to refer to, talk about, hold in my hand and marvel over how much I loved it.

But . . . . wait just one cotton-picking liddle minute you silly girlie.  You’ve forgotten one crucial factor.

Yes, how could I forget the most important issue?  The impact.  THE impact.  Me, who named myself after our lovely planet and consistently banged on about the protection thereof, has recklessly failed to consider the environmental impact factor of  both the Kindle and the book!

[Please turn away now while I partake of some serious self-beratement]

So I did some research and t’would appear that although the production of one single Kindle uses up tons more energy than the production of a seemingly pure and innocent book, from hereon-in it gets much worse for the poor book.  In fact, the pulped version turns into a eco-nightmare compared to the e-book. I won’t go into detail because it hurts too much but trust me, I’m mortified.

Gutted folks.  Truly gutted.  But I have to stay true to my eco-me and so, taking all things into consideration, I have come to the decision that (sob, sniff) the books are not as kind to the environment as Kindles are and it is with the greatest of sulking begrudgement that all my future book purchases will be either used books or e-books.

When I get my Kindle that is.


Bluebells, Caves, Lakes . . . and not a lot more

Well what do you expect when we get two long weekends back-to-back and the sun shining throughout?  Nothing to do with the fact that my synapses are refusing to fire up and I can’t seem to put anything together that would be worthy of reading.  What’s that saying?  The mind is willing but the . . . erm . . . never mind.  The photo’s will have to do – taken in Rydal Water – a family favourite that we visit often over the seasons.  Although there have been some treason-like mutterings from within recently that go something like . . . not there again!  Can’t we think of somewhere different?  And that’s just the husband!  It’s mutiny I tells ya!

This and that and rather a lot more

It’s increasingly challenging for me to find the time to blog these days so it’s frustrating to say the least when there’s just so much to blog about.  For instance, George Monbiot’s nuclear-powered, shot0gun-held-to-his-head U-turn on nuclear power.  Well he must have had a shot-gun held to his head when he wrote this.  Either that or his body was taken over and possessed by an evil force from the nuclear industry.  I mean how else do you explain such an aggressive change-of-heart from someone who spent most of their life campaigning against nuclear power.  He appears to have based his newly-found affection for nuclear energy on the fact that Fukushima was hit by an earthquake and a tidal wave and didn’t cause a global catastrophe.  Oh!  He plays down his pre-Fukushima stance by describing his then views as nuclear-neutral.  Well that’s a load of tripe!  He was never nuclear-neutral.  He was blatantly anti-nuclear.  Here’s what he said a few years ago…

“…nuclear power spreads radioactive pollution, presents a target for terrorists and leaves us with waste that no government wants to handle.”

There’s loads more where that came from.  Hmph!  Bloody turn-coat.

And what about this quiet little item?  A new EU directive comes into play soon which will give more power to Big Pharma.  More power! I hear you exclaim.  I know!  Anyway, this new directive sounds ok at first glance. Indeed, but there are implications.  A EU-wide ban will be in place in a few months but from the 1st of May, hundreds of herbal remedies that have been used in the UK for decades will no longer be available to people who have been benefiting from their properties.  This of course may result in people trying to get hold of them via the Internet thus making the control of such remedies impossible . . . and there’s also the added risk that some of these Internet-acquired products will be of a much poorer quality.  It’s a big win for the pharmaceutical profiteers but let me just ask the politicians who’ve made this decision (I suspect muchly due to some sneaky hand-shaking and bribery from the drug companies) a question . . . What do you think people were doing to relieve their illnesses hundreds and hundreds of years ago?  And actually, an important thing to consider is that many herbal medicines are taken by healthy people in order to try and prevent illness.  And we all know the saying about prevention and cure.  But there’s no profit in healthy people is there.  Avaaz have a petition up here.

They’d better keep their hands off my herbal tea!!

Is there room to squeeze in a little personal message to David Cameron?  Yes?  Ooh goodie. . . .

David, do be quiet dear.  Do try to stop being such a condescending twit.  I know it’s hard to keep up the facade of nice, popular man-of-the-people but please try harder to hide your real chauvinistic, homophobic character.  We know you were only trying to be funny and clever and that, but you’re not funny and clever.  You’re witless and boring so do hush up.  Oh and David dear, please try to keep that arrogant, snot-faced, creepy little chancellor of yours under control.  His sneering, giggly, immature face is really making me want to vomit bucket-loads each and every time I see it.  Thank you dear.

Speaking of the patronising Cameron, I’m taking bets on how long after the Royal wedding will it be before Shallow Cam starts using the happiness of the event to spin his ideological visions for Britain.

And to finish, I’ll pop up a picture or two, just to keep the place alive, barely, but alive just the same.  Oh and I’ve sneaked a little video in at the end – a party political broadcast of the Green variety.  Go on – vote for the Green party.  You know you want to.

My middlie taking part in the May Pole dancing for St. George’s day.  So there, BNP.  You can stop spreading the myth that celebrating Englishness is being outlawed.

Bolton Abbey Priory.  I took that picture with my broken little Nikon Coolpix L22.  Impressed?  I am.

Newscloud of sorts

Big Fish Rugby Tour in Swansea . Fabulous rugby-playing by our Under 11 boys . Much bad sportsmanship displayed by winning team’s coaches by-way-of entering two teams separately and doing some dubious jiggery-pokery with said teams . Me-laddie getting pushed about by huge brute of a boy of the ginger-haired variety . Me trying in vain to mask my blatant glee when me-laddie got his revenge on aforementioned huge ginger brute by making an enormously heroic tackle on him thus sending him flying into touch and me-laddie going on to score a magnificent try .  Magnificent try disallowed by dodgy and quite clearly biased ref . Gorgeous weather . Lot’s of freckles .  Too much beer . Too much food . Too little time . Late nights/early mornings . Back to work . Off work again! . Lot’s of pain and soreness, mostly caused by a confused immune system that wouldn’t know a healthy joint (that does not need it’s owners immune system to kick in and randomly attack it and all its brother and sister joints thankyouverymuch) from a real live streptococcal throat infection (that actually does require some attention by said immune system . . . and promptly if you pleaseandthankyouverymuch) . sigh .  Much outpouring of misery and feeling sorry-for-oneself . Back to work . double sigh . Much team conflict . sigh, wail, gnash teeth . Lot’s of regret for having returned to work instead of prolonging sickness leave by exploiting existing condition .

Thank the gods of mercy for weekends.

Arts cuts, police cuts, nursing, crime and tangents . .

Isn’t it strange how the news regarding police cuts doesn’t seem to get the left as animated as they get towards other cuts.  I know the police have not won many public hearts lately due to their public displays of aggression and intimidation at recent protest rallies and suchlike – and quite right too.  We’ve seen some appalling police behaviour and the lack of accountability is downright criminal but I guess they’re not all our enemy.  Just as there are good and bad nurses and good and bad teachers, the same surely applies to the police.

I had three police officers at my house this morning.  Two officers came and went followed by a crime scene investigator.  They were here, in short, because my eldest daughter’s car was broken into.  The poor girl has only had the car for one week.  She was chuffed to bits about it.  What with the sky-scrapingly high insurance costs for new, young drivers, she thought she would never be able to afford a car.  But to her credit,  she somehow made it happen.  She chose the smallest, cheapest, cutest little car available – one with low economical running costs and not so harsh on the environment.

Being a student nurse,  she receives a little bursary each month which just about pays for said car.  But crucially, being a student nurse, she has to go on placements far and wide and at all times of the day and night so a car is really quite essential.  I was very tempted, incidentally, to talk her out of nursing.  She was all set up for university.  Had a guaranteed place at Liverpool and everything.  She couldn’t wait to start.  Why she changed her mind, I’ll never know.  And why she chose to go into nursing befuddles me even more but I suspect her boyfriend, and the reluctance to leave him, had something to with the decision. Ho hum.

Anyway (tangents dear girl, tangents), her shiny, new little car was violated right outside our house the other night and she was gutted.  The perpetrator just popped the lock right out of the door.  Nothing was taken because there was nothing to take.  The police officer said he was probably looking for spare change or hoping to find an ipod because the car came with an ipod thingy where you can plug in your ipod and listen to your playlist.

The first two officers who attended were very nice and helpful.  They showed care and concern towards my daughter and were very attentive.  After they’d completed their bit they left and told me a crime scene investigator would come along later to take fingerprints and stuff.  They asked my daughter if she would need to use the car today and she said yes – she had to go into uni at 12 o clock so they said they’d try to get the forensic guy to come before then.  I didn’t expect this to happen but lo and behold, the lovely lady turned up at about 10.30 with her little black bag of forensics tools.  I was impressed.  She too was very caring and concerned but she couldn’t do any dusting on the car door because it was raining.

I had been listening to the news all morning and there was much talk about the police cuts and cuts to the Arts.  Objections to the Arts cuts, by the way, are easy to dismiss but I don’t mind admitting that I object to these cuts almost as much as other cuts, not least because Art enriches all our lives but more importantly,  there will be many-a knock-on effect by way of employment, education and suchlike and will result in only the well-off being able to afford to study an Arts degree or pursue a particular ‘Arts’ talent.  And youth theatre groups, sports groups . . . what about all those youngsters who are committing time and energy to something fulfilling that they enjoy . . . something that helps to keep them fit and healthy.  We already know that too many unfit teenagers spend their time hanging around streets with nothing to do and nowhere to go.  Tell me what’s beneficial about taking away their facilities when those things give them a focus, where they can learn about commitment, self-respect and teamwork.  The Arts have the power to transform and vastly improve lives.  I’ve seen it working.  Dance teachers are creating community dance-groups everywhere.  It’s classless, genderless and available across the scale.  The kids who attend such groups are growing daily in self-esteem and self-confidence.  And they’re active for god’s sake!  Off the streets.  Not being thugs!  Not being a nuisance!  Not committing crimes!  Isn’t that the goal?  You need look no further than the absolutely fantastic Dance United to realise just how effective and empowering such groups can be.

Basically, Arts funding is there to provide equal opportunities for everybody to have their lives enriched and improved. The Arts cuts are regressive and will make Art and Culture elite and inaccessible to all but a privileged few.   Osborne’s few.

Anyway, where was I? (More tangents.  Focus girl!) My police experience, although brought about by a nasty and annoying crime, was an altogether positive one but it got me thinking about the cuts and how it might affect the three nice officers who dealt with our case.  I don’t know anything about the structure of police forces.  I know that like nurses, doctors, paramedics etc. police officers take a lot of crap from the public.  They deal with aggressive and abusive people on an almost daily basis and are always the first in line for a bashing and being blamed for everyone’s problems.  I do stand by my belief that a lot of officers join the police force for the wrong reasons (ie: power, means to bully etc) but generally speaking, I like to think that, like nurses, teachers etc., most of them are decent with a genuine desire to help others and like most of us, they face worrying times and insecurities.

There’s more to a police force than the images we see of police thuggery on our TV screens and the government’s promises not to cut front line jobs is meaningless given that front-liners depend on non-front-line staff to do their jobs properly so no matter how they spin it, the cuts will detrimentally affect the police and how they protect the public and no matter how bitter the relationship between activist and policeman is, it’s surely in our interest to support them at this time.

Gosh!  It’s all or or nothing with me.


Have I really been away for that long?  What happened to February?  And March!  March downright sneaked right by me without so much as a wave or a by-your-leave.  Well technically March hasn’t gone yet but it’s almost the end of another month.  Time really does fly.

Well anyway . . . how are you?  T’as been a while.

And, making every effort to avoid the doomsday talk, it’s been quite a weekend folks.

We had that lunar perigee and would you know it, it even came with a full moon – and a clear night!  Who the heck planned that?  Not me that’s for sure.  In all honesty, although it was all very pretty and enchanting, I didn’t notice old Mr. Moon looking any closer than he does any other night but then, as  my wise son told me, if we looked at the moon sans perigee and compared it to the perigee (a kind of ‘before and after’ picture) then I’m sure we’d see a difference.

Moving on –

Drum roll if you please . . . England went and won the Six Nations which of course is just as it should be.  And then – even bigger drum roll ( and hey, let’s add huge trumpet fanfare . . . . . . . . . . . me laddie scored the winning try at Sunday’s game in the local rugby tournament.  He also came off the pitch sporting a lovely swollen and bruised cheekbone but, being the roughy-toughy, steely-eyed boy that he is, my concerns were abruptly (not to mention disgustedly) rejected.  [Note to self: must stop calling him me laddie, especially in front of his rugby buddies].

Then we spent some time cabbaging on the sofa with the TV on, mostly Tracy Beaker (yes, you heard! Well he’s a big softie at home).  Tracy Beaker is a childrens TV show based on Jaqueline Wilson’s series of books all about a childrens care home.  Well after watching a couple of back-to-back episodes me laddie (sorry, old habits and all that) now thinks I should put him into care because apparently kids in care have much more fun that he does.  Well that may be so if all care workers were like the ones in Tracy Beaker, and it has to be said, the ones in Tracy Beaker are pretty cool and fantastic, but they are actors – with written lines and stage props and stuff.  And the sad reality is (and to our  great shame my friends) that we are failing our children in care.

And on that note, before I pour out a torrential rant, it’s ta ra for now.  My comeback has gone back and there’s no telling when it will come back again so in the meantime I’ll leave you with this timely little video by the very lovely  . . . .

Erm, it’s been a while . . .

T’is rather hard to know where or how to start when one has been so ludicrously absent from blogs and the posting thereof but I shall give it a go, somewhat sheepishly but hey ho.  No. Actually.  Forget the sheep.  I think I’ll start true to form – with a rant.  Here goes . . .

Yule Tide

Another Christmas has been and gone and I made the same mistakes.  Every year, no matter how much I try to resist, I fall under the spell of consumerism.  Not obscenely so but enough to make for some serious self-berating.  I argue with myself and finger wag at my kids that we’re cutting back this year . . .  don’t expect so much because I really mean it this time!!! . . . but Captain Capitalism always manages to bewitch me at Christmas and forces me to buy all kinds of crap that no-one really needs (and probably doesn’t even want that much if truth be told).  The food wastage alone is a sin of biblical proportions but it’s the whole Xmas package (and packaging!) that gets so mental.  Well what’s done is done.  I tried to be as green and as ethical as possible but if I’m honest I failed on more levels than I care to admit.  Anyhoo, here are some UK Christmas eco-facts:

  • Every year some one billion cards are used and only a fraction of them are recycled.
  • Almost 3000 tonnes of aluminium foil is used to wrap around the 10 million turkeys we eat every Christmas.
  • Almost half of the toys given will be broken or discarded within three months and because most of them will be plastic, they will be destined straight for our delightful landfill sites.
  • Approximately 23 million jars of pickles, mincemeat and cranberry sauce will be consumed. If all these glass jars were recycled, it would save enough energy to boil water for 60 million cups of tea but alas only a small percentage are recycled.
  • Over 83 square km of wrapping paper will end up in UK rubbish bins, enough to cover an area larger than Guernsey
  • [End of rant]


The snow queen visited her lovely self upon us for the second year running (well I know we’ve had snow other years but not with any intensity worth mentioning).  T’was another beautiful Winterval with some delightful bright snowy days and our enchanting moon providing some gorgeous nights with its orange silveryness above us (I know. Just use your imagination).  I sometimes find myself wishing I had a really good camera that would do justice to some of the moons I’ve enjoyed this Autumn/Winter.  Mind you, a proper, decent camera would be wasted on the likes of me so my little Nikon will suffice for my limited technical knowledge.  I don’t even use that to it’s full capacity . . . and I dropped it once so now an elastic band keeps the battery cover closed.  I’m really rubbish sometimes. Anyway, some piccies:

Comfort and Joy

Lovely Middlie provided the joy by dancing in the local theatre panto again and of course she was brilliant.  This year it was Mother Goose and it was hilarious.  And in a rare, out-of-character moment, I was actually organised enough to book tickets early enough to get the comfy seats with optimal viewing.

And finally:

The best thing about 2011 is going to be

England lifting the rugby world cup on my rugby-mad son’s 12th birthday.  Yay!

Well that wasn’t so bad.  TTFN folks.