Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A font of uselessness I, within our growing danger
My thoughts slip away like the wasps in the autumn
Stinging in rapturous abandon they elude and betray.
Make of me a grey shadow of empirical knowledge
Yet I must bear this insult and retreat back to lucidity
Concealed deep within labyrnthic memories is truth
Remember that which has been hidden by the enemy
As the swallow returns in Spring so shall our resolve

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Robbie aged 2

Not yet all asleep as this madam la reine from the kitchen tonight shows.

Where wind and rain may never hide
Can be found one man to turn the tide
In glades of winter so summer shall come
The lessons learned shall equal the sum
Sunday 27th Nov 2011

Some more general autumn shots and an amazing wasp’s nest discovered in a tree. It’s pretty big and was very close to the footpath. Must have been abuzz during the summer and the great thing is the wasps appear to have been left to their own devices rather than being unceremoniously killed as a nuisance. People need to wake up to the good insect control they do. Seems the honeybee gets all the cuddly credit which is unfair.

I’ve got a sourdough bread starter bubbling on the dining room table. Assuming all goes well it should be ready to use in about ten days. It’s a long, if not overly complicated process, but might just be so rewarding. Then the plan is to make my own bread (but not crumpets) exclusively as a way to cut down on my carbohydrate intake. In fact I’m trying to cut down on my intake all round to shed some of the excess ballooning around the middle regions. I don’t have (or want) the luxury of exercise like Nick to keep me in shape so need to eat less...simples (not!)

Friday evening went out for a meal with a neighbour for her 80th birthday which was great. A small foodie restaurant in Ramsbottom called ‘Ramsons.’ Got a very good reputation and it lived up to it. (Look it up.) Other than that it’s been a quiet weekend, very grey and wet and currently very windy...though it may improve as the day goes on. Let’s hope so. Robbie is asleep at the minute but soon the monster will awaken.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

To walk within fluid, cool, night airs
Flowing in endless chains down to sea

On silvered lawns with paths of onyx
I pass and see sorrow revived into bliss
Amidst a thousand newborn elves waking
In May under a gilded mantle of stars

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sunday 20th Nov 2011

Cool day filled with long rolling mists that never quite lifted. I think you can see it on the pictures. Now it seems a little more like winter is coming. As of yet it’s not quite arrived yet.

Friday went to Settle (N. York’s) for a day out. Nice day out ad I took a photo of the view at the station. Quite a nice kept station in the old style. Quite a lot of steam trains pass through still as the Settle to Carlisle is classed as a picturesque route.

We’d gone to the station because Mike wanted to visit the museum (but there isn’t one.) Turned out he was thinking of Carnforth and the museum there. Carnforth is where ‘Brief encounter’ was filmed. If you haven’t watched it then it’s worth seeing. It’s a very atmospheric black and white movie.

Recipe for the perfect garlic bread, (courtesy of Nick) – not to be eaten every day obviously

1 French type baguette of good quality. (Not Ciabatta – too many holes inside.)
1 clove of garlic for each 2 inches of baguette (sounds a lot but absolutely necessary and apparently counteracts the effects of cholesterol and blood pressure.) Look it up on Wikipedia if you don’t believe me.

1oz Butter for each 2 inches of baguette (this might seem a lot but is absolutely necessary.) There is nothing worse than garlic bread loaded with a mean amount of butter. For me it must always be butter, but alternatives might work just as well.

Finely chop garlic and mix with the softened butter. Make a slit lengthways two thirds down into the baguette and spread it open without breaking it in half. (Don’t cut slits across the stick as it becomes harder to fill.) Spread butter and garlic mixture along length, wrap in foil and bake at 180 degrees C for 20 mins. Remove foil at end of cooking if you want crispier bread. It is perfectly delicious.
For variation add a cheese into the garlic butter mix or finely chopped herbs such as parsley, thyme or rosemary. Don’t overdo it though as additions need to be frugal or the bread just doesn’t work.

If you’re scared of butter remember it’s a natural food without many additives or chemical processing. That’s got to count for something. If reported health issues associated with some foods bother you don’t eat so much refined and processed food. If you buy readymade garlic bread look at the ingredients next time you shop. It can be an eye opener.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Between the soft rock and hard earth grows hope
It is fragile, uncertain and longing to be forgotten
Yet while it endures and gutters I shall guard it solely
Nurture it; protect it, if I may, till it roots in the dirt
Grows up again strong, to assuage all this evil hurt
Then I shall sleep with your name on my lips in joy

The British Medical Association has called on ministers to ban smoking in cars to protect children from breathing in toxins. Smoking should be banned in cars to protect drivers and passengers – especially children – from breathing in toxins far worse than those found in smoky bars, the nation's doctors have demanded.
The British Medical Association (BMA) is urging ministers across the UK to extend the ban on smoking in public places introduced in 2007 to all vehicles in a further effort to protect people's health. "We are calling on UK governments to take the bold and courageous step of banning smoking in private vehicles," said Dr Vivienne Nathanson, the BMA's head of science and ethics. "The evidence for extending the smoke-free legislation is compelling."

Alternative thoughts –  

"The evidence for extending the smoke-free legislation is compelling. People must be made to do whatever we tell them. It simply isn’t good enough that they can simply do whatever they like.” 

"The evidence for extending the smoke-free legislation is compelling. I don’t like it”  

"The evidence for extending the smoke-free legislation is compelling. We do not want people actually relieving a small part of their misery. They need to suffer. This will help remind them.”
"The evidence for extending the smoke-free legislation is compelling. The NHS is done for so we need to find ways to save money because we’ve used all the smokers’ revenue paying for the PFI.”
"The evidence for extending the smoke-free legislation is compelling. People may be smoking in front of their pets or people on TV.”

"The evidence for extending the smoke-free legislation is compelling. “You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.”  

"The evidence for extending the smoke-free legislation is compelling. It gives me a chance to impose my values on the rest of you and more importantly my huge salary rests on me coming up with new ideas. I don’t care what happens anyway as I’m retiring to the Bahamas soon.”
"The evidence for extending the smoke-free legislation is compelling. We just haven’t found any yet.”

Who would ever have thought that buying a packet of fags would make you feel like a freedom fighter rather than just the silly mug you are.  

Sunday, November 13, 2011

On this Remembrance Sunday we need to understand why all these brave people lost their lives in 2 great world wars (and any other wars.) The answer was that they thought they were creating a better world by doing it. We just keep on disappointing them I am so sad to say. But we do and will always remember their sacrifice.

Hale and vibrant lives cut short by the unfairness of life and the unpredictable nature of time

Told you so ...

The first private company to take over an NHS hospital has admitted in a document seen by the Observer newspaper that patient care could suffer under its plans to expand its empire and seek profit from the health service.

Circle Health is already feeling a strain on resources due to its aggressive business strategy, the document reveals, and the firm's ambition to further expand into the NHS "could affect its ability to provide a consistent level of service to its patients", it says.

The company, run by a former Goldman Sachs banker, was awarded management of Hinchingbrooke hospital in Cambridgeshire last week in a ground-breaking move lauded by ministers as a "good deal for patients and staff".

However, the government was forced to answer an urgent question in the Commons after the move sparked furious accusations that the deal was privatising the NHS and putting jobs and health services in jeopardy. Concerns over the future of the health service were further heightened when David Cameron, in a speech on regulation and the economy, said he wanted the NHS to be a "fantastic business for Britain".

The revelation that the company shares some of the fears of its critics has caused fresh uproar.

The quest for profits at any cost begets this absolute madness I think. After all a Goldman Sachs banker in charge of the whole thing, and a Tory party idea - what could possibly go wrong?? Oh just about everything I predict!!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fibre and whole grains 'reduce bowel cancer risk'

High fibre cereals are just one type of fibre which were shown to help prevent colorectal cancer. Eating more cereals and whole grains could reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer, a BMJ study says. Researchers from Imperial College London found that for every 10g a day increase in fibre intake, there was a 10% drop in the risk of bowel cancer.

So according to this if I eat a 100g more fibre each day I will never get this type of cancer. What a pile of lentils! (no pun intended)
Bye, bye NHS we'll miss you - especially if we get ill.

A private company, listed on the stock market, has been given the right to deliver a full range of hospital services for the first time in the history of the NHS, reigniting a debate about the use of business in the health sector. Circle Healthcare will take over Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust in Cambridgeshire as part of a £1bn 10-year contract.

Circle will become the first ever non-state provider to deliver a full range of NHS district general hospital services.

Circle Healthcare, a John Lewis-style partnership valued at around £120m, will manage the debt-laden Hinchingbrooke hospital in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, from February after the government signed off on a decade-long contract on Wednesday. Although private sector firms already operate units within the NHS – Circle, one of Britain's most prominent healthcare providers, is the first to take over an entire hospital.

The takeover is not considered a full privatisation as the buildings will remain in public hands and the employees retain their pay and pension on existing terms. However, Circle is viewed by ministers as a model "mutual" with 49% of its ownership in staff hands. (So who has the other controlling 51%.) It operates a scheme to allow more shares to be gained through a performance-related rewards system. Significantly this allows doctors to take a slice of the profits – and this landmark deal, the government hopes, will lead to other cash-strapped NHS hospitals consider outsourcing their management to private companies.

Circle's chief executive, Ali Parsa, said: "At a time when some healthcare commentators say the solution for small district general hospitals is simply to merge or be shut down, we believe the NHS Midlands and East's courage and zeal for innovation will enable us to show how clinician and staff control can provide a more sustainable alternative."

When private money and state healthcare or any other service get into bed together you can be sure it wont be healthy. Nothing good can come from this in the long term. Privatisation only ever means cutting costs. They can never do it better - only cheaper. Unless you course you have the means to pay. Sad thing is most haven't.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

10th Nov 2011
It’s a 99% full moon tonight and there are very few clouds so it may look better than the big one tomorrow. Other than that it’s been a quiet week overall. Generally mild overall and with a warm weekend forecast.

Tonight for tea it’s free range chicken breast £2.99 stuffed with Boursin 50p and wrapped in Parma ham 50p and accompanied by purple potatoes (Albert Bartlett) 39p and carrots 29p. You can see what was in the cheap for quick sale aisle today... but not bad for under £5. I also bought 2 pints of double (full fat) cream (£1.29 a pint). I don’t know why I am putting on weight and wheezing a lot. Yes I do it’s the dairy, carbs and 20 cigarettes a day. He-he!

We have a saying up north for all this, but the dementia is kicking in now (aka red wine) and I can’t remember it. Oh I remember now - Cheers (hic!!!)
Have a lovely weekend and just for the record I am being slightly capricious

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Rhubarb and Mango crumble

Thought i'd invented a new recipe last night but looking on Google this morning I see there are hundreds of different one's out there. It was very nice though especially adding some ground almonds into the crumble mixture to give it a boost.

500g Rhubarb and 1 medium Mango - Roast rhubarb with sugar to taste and then add mango. Make cruble topping and add ground almonds into mix. Bake till golden brown...then scoff.

Tip 1 - Cook rhubarb and sugar in the oven in a wide shallow pan to evaporate the excess water and stop it going too mushy.
Tip 2 - Plant some rhubarb in the garden
Tip 3 - Move to the equator if you want to grow mangoes
Tip 4 - If you dont know how to make a crumble mix you really need to start to cook more

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Sleep was slow to come so far underground. Once the flaxen light of the staffs was dimmed the darkness was absolute and impenetrable. In this place devoid of light her hearing sharpened and she heard water flowing strongly in the long distance.  Its subterranean roar was pitched at the limit of her hearing so she could not be sure of how far; but probably it was a large flow falling down in to the depths of the earth. Maybe tomorrow they would see its path, if it crossed theirs. The distant sound wove around her thoughts and its repetitious, soothing, comfort she found sleep. As her eyes closed she bethought that a tinkling piece of music like the spring wind on winter dry reeds or over desiccated leaves could be heard.
She awoke to find lights all around her. Has she not counselled Ibbero to stay his staff light this far underground. Yet this was no staff light, small points of cobalt appeared to hang randomly in the air and then like an exploding firework the points expanded uniformly in a star shaped blossom. For a few seconds the shape held like an iridescent lily before the lights began collapsing and rushing together to form a bright, luminous block shaped apparition. Spectral and yet solid it moved toward them and as it came the features of a man emerged. Keenly she felt Ibbero’s touch on her hand and instinctively knew she must still her questions and wait. In the dim cerulean light the mineral in the rock walls shone like ice crusted sheets of water. The watcher of Arast-falls had arrived and Ibbero as always, had proved her to be right. Yet as he drew near to them his countenance was furious.

The rage of disappointment was curdled in his throat. He could expedite this stupidity in his vengeful wroth but that would serve no purpose.  Above ground trees bereft of leaves in the autumn pointed branches skyward like accusatory fingers as he lifted his solidifying finger at Asthralain.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Ibbero and the rest of the Ishanntari were vegetarians. How could they not be; exalted and ancient beings of reasoned logic. There could be no other way to live harmoniously within the world.  After all, was not the world created to exist as a living instrument in balance and purpose within its hale, green world of renewal? It was never meant that we should turn on the fauna around us, enslave or hunt it and feast upon flesh like carrion. Justifying it all by sophistic progression of man’s superiority into the dominant ascendancy. That was the way of the enemy to hide the truth behind clever-sounding and plausible logic based on shallow or dishonest thinking.

There were, (if one understood clearly,) the parallel paradoxes of law in the world. To survive beyond the world we must eventually leave it as we have entered. We are born something that is given life by an unselfish act of love, nourished by food from the mother that creates us. If she chooses well we are born without regret and so we prosper in humility. There is no blame to those who have no choice in the manner of their birth, but having attained wisdom and a greater knowledge in life; only fools and brutally intentioned beings can ignore it. Once we see we are not bound within the world we become truly free.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Heady sepulchres raised under rain
Raise a mighty shade in united minds
To remember together the acerbic wit
That passed between us like omens
For within one masquerade or another
Everything now will come to pass.
No matter the smallest details of folly

Remember always each and every day
Not cancel all its hopes, fears and losses
Within sweet moments of temporal joy
Reach for the end with emboldened spirit
Ethics engendering noble beating hearts
For a journey begins rain, to river, to sea
Ends in animate reunion of you and me
Letting down a new generation

I was surprised (or not) to see so many red dots in the north of the country.
Blackspots for youth disengagement where high levels of youngsters are not in education, work or training (Neet) have been revealed in a new report. In Grimsby, Doncaster, Warrington and Wigan, nearly a quarter of 16- to 24-year-olds are Neet. In a further nine cities in England and Wales, drop-out rates for youngsters are about one in five.

The Work Foundation report blames a tough jobs market and cuts to youth services and education.

Its report for the Private Equity Foundation said: "In a difficult labour market, young people often find it harder to gain a foothold in work - and there is a real danger that youth unemployment could soon reach one million.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Asthralain grew both weary and impatient with the asinine machinations of Harabeth the emissary of Sandum. His words were honey coated but wreaked of treachery. How long had this creature served his master? How many lives had been marred and tricked into servitude by this black abomination wrapped in a cloak the colour of blood that reminded her of all that spilt by the innocents in the name of his sedition. She sighed inward and then replied “When the thews of this mortal life dissolve back into the earth, when the last breath has gone and the warmth of this body dissipates into the cold night; then you shall take me and do what you will emissary of Sandum. Yet now I see your perfidious scheme I will neither appease you, nor treat with such accursed as you. If your master will not show himself then this meeting is at an end. Be gone foul duskwraith, back to your shadowy domain, back to your master and back to prepare for your end.”

With that as if by some sign, the snow began to fall as the emissary retreated back to the shadows. Soon his shadowy figure swathed in its red cloak was hidden behind a thick swirling curtain of white. Asthralain shivered and looked toward Ibbero, but he gazed ahead deep in thought. She followed his eyes but could discern nothing through the thick, falling snow. Was he vexed in her response to Harabeth? She could not tell, but the thought troubled her. He was a mighty Isnnatari and she; but a mortal queen of a troubled land. Had she just condemned them all to a darker fate by her actions?

Then in that place among the falling flakes that stung her face like regret he turned to her and smiled. She smiled intuitively back though she did not understand and then his smile became a laugh as clean and as pure as the ice that forms on the coldest night.

“My queen have I not said you are worthy to this cause, no matter how doubt may restrain you, but in this matter you have done well. Harabeth will return to his master with more than you think you have given and yet nothing that may hinder us in the days to come. His master will of course see our deception immediately and fear will take him. In that fear we may hope that he will strike in the direction least suited to his purpose. Yes I say again, well met and well matched Asthralain.”

Ibbero arced his staff above them and the forbidding he created held aloft the snow as they walked back to the camp.

TIPS ON PUMPING PETROL - here are some tricks to get more of your money's worth for every Litre: (from a petroleum expert allegedly and not sure if this works for diesel)

Only buy or fill up your car or truck in the early morning when the ground temperature is still cold. Remember that all service stations have their storage tanks buried below ground. The colder the ground the more dense the petrol, when it gets warmer petrol expands, so buying in the afternoon or in the evening....your litre is not exactly a litre. In the petroleum business, the specific gravity and the temperature of the petrol, diesel and jet fuel, ethanol and other petroleum products plays an important role.

When you're filling up do not squeeze the trigger of the nozzle to a fast mode If you look you will see that the trigger has three (3) stages: low, middle, and high. You should be pumping on low mode, thereby minimizing the vapours that are created while you are pumping.

One of the most important tips is to fill up when your Petrol tank is HALF FULL. The reason for this is the more Petrol you have in your tank the less air occupying its empty space. Petrol evaporates faster than you can imagine.

Another reminder, if there is a petrol truck pumping into the storage tanks when you stop to buy Petrol, DO NOT fill up; most likely the petrol is being stirred up as the Petrol is being delivered, and you might pick up some of the dirt that normally settles on the bottom.