Wednesday, 28 January 2009


I’m not being big-headed, but my son is a genius.  Dave relayed this story to me.

Ethan left the table to go to the toilet.  After a short while he wandered into the kitchen with pants and trousers around his ankles.

Dave asked him whether he had wiped his bum, flushed the toilet and washed his hands.  The answer was no to all three.

Dave ushered him back out of the kitchen and started to help him sort himself out.  While this was happening Ethan was looking in the “pan” and said “my poo looks like South America.”


Sunday, 25 January 2009

Assisted death

A bit of a gloomy title I admit.

I fell across “A Short Stay in Switzerland” starring Julie Walters tonight (BBC1). There wasn’t much else on.

Julie Walter’s portrayal of Dr Anne Turner was inspired. She, and her fellow actors, brought me to tears.

I read an interview with Julie Walters and, in preparation for the role, she met Dr Turner’s three children. She also found that, during filming, the insomnia that she used to suffer from, but had overcome, returned. It was clearly a role with impact.

I know one shouldn’t really be influenced by drama. Drama is fiction and and can never completely and accurately reflect reality. But, I believe assisted dying should not be illegal in the UK.

I hope that if I’m ever in the same position as Anne Turner that I would be able to demonstrate the same level of courage that she had.

Friday, 23 January 2009

The tipping point

I think this year is Twitter’s year. I think their tipping point has been reached and passed.

They must be into exponential growth.

I think the great Stephen Fry might be partially responsible. He’s a great Tweeter. He started tweeting on October 9th 2008 and was prolific and interesting. He has a significant following and other celebs have also started to join the fray.

Once there is interesting content, then a buzz is going to be created and more and more people will want to join for fear of feeling they might be losing out if they don’t.

It’s not often I’m ahead of Mr Fry in any arena. He had the second Mac in the UK, second only to Douglas Adams. He now has nine Macs and seven iPhones. But I did my first tweet on May 3rd 2008, 5 months before the great Mr Fry.


The tumble dryer went on Freecycle and, despite the description that mentions it leaving black marks on clothes, we had a lot of interest.

I wrote to everyone who was interested letting them know that whoever came back to me first would win the prize of an unwanted tumble dryer.

Chris won the e-mail race and came to pick up the dryer. I had some trouble lifting it and undoing the wiring. I need to talk to Dave and explain that when he dies I’ll have to do stuff on my own, so don’t do screws up so tightly, in case I have to undo them.

Chris and I got chatting. He’s a lighting engineer. What a coincidence, I need a lighting engineer.

We have a light that we bought about six years ago. It was intended for the stairwell but has lain in the back of the under stairs cupboard instead.

The light hanging point is really difficult to reach. We have high ceilings and a simple ladder won’t get you close.

Anyway Chris was recently made redundant and is looking for work. The difficulty is that he has a 4 year old and 18 month old to look after.

Not a problem as far as I’m concerned. Ethan can play with his 4 year old Harry and Hannah can help me look after Thomas, the 18 month old.

Maybe it was fate that meant Chris responded to my e-mail, or maybe it was the fact that he had the time to be sat at the computer during the day.

Thursday, 22 January 2009


Sorry if I’m preaching to the converted, but Freecycle is brilliant.

I think that maybe Freecycle has crossed a tipping point which means there’s likely to be a group near you.  Let me explain the concept.

Everyone has stuff they don’t need and want to get rid of.  There are different ways top get rid of stuff: ebay, a garage sale, local classifieds, loot, charity shop, a trip to the tip, donating to friends or family, storing in the garage or shed.  Oh wait, those last two options are what we do and don’t constitute getting rid.

Freecycle sets your stuff free.  This is how it works.  Freecycle allows people to tell a community what they want to get rid of, and gives that community to have it for free.

Freecycle is a Yahoo group and you start by clicking  Search for a town near you to find your nearest local group.

When you find a group near you, read the blurb and click to visit the group and then click the blue button on the right to join.

Complete the details and hit the Join button.

I can post things that I want to get rid of by starting a message on the Yahoo group page with the title OFFER: Thingamagig (Brentwood) and people can e-mail me directly if they are interested. 

I can also see what people are getting rid of and it’s amazing what people are shedding.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

The right decision

I bumped into someone yesterday that I haven’t spoken to for a long time.  We had a corridor conversation.

We chatted about a number of things, including my husband.

I would like to think people would talk about me in the same way that this individual was talking about my husband.  I know they don’t.  It did make me feel good about some of the choices I’ve made though.

I knew I wanted to marry Dave on March 28th 1991.  That was one good decision.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Security versus stupid

I’m not quite sure what’s right here.  I’ve just had a call from the credit card company checking my expenditure.  Could I confirm some purchases?  So I did.

  1. Train fare and parking at station
  2. Tesco groceries online
  3. Amazon purchase
  4. Farm shop
  5. Sainsbury in store

“Excellent, thanks for confirming.  Did you try and buy something online this evening?”

“Er yes.  Well I didn’t try, I succeeded.  I bought a tumble dryer

“That one’s been declined”

“What?  Why?”

“Because it’s an online purchase and there’s a lot of online fraud right now.  The company you bought from are bound to get in touch, and when they do you can tell them we’ll approve the transaction the next time it’s put through.”

“That doesn’t help me right now does it?  In fact it’s jolly inconvenient.”

On the one hand I don’t want to have my credit card abused but, this isn’t an abnormal purchase for me, so don’t decline it and give me the inconvenience!

Healthy choc krispies

OK, not overly healthy due to the butter, chocolate and syrup.  But the rice and oats are good for you and I do use plain chocolate which isn’t too naughty.

The reason this is being posted is that I knew I had the recipe somewhere but didn’t know where.  Because I’ve blogged so many I searched the blog to find I hadn’t blogged this one, or if I have I couldn’t have tagged or labelled it well.

I did find that I have blogged the winter trifle twice.  That serves to illustrate how easy and successful the recipe is, and also how bad I am at admin.

Apologies if you’ve seen this recipe before, but I couldn’t find it.

  • 75g butter
  • 100g golden syrup
  • 60g plain chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 50g rice krispies
  • 50g rolled oats

Put the butter, syrup and choc into a small pan and melt over a low heat. Mix together the rice krispies and oats and stir into the syrup mixture. Line a bun tin with paper cases and put a spoonful of the mixture in each. Chill until set.

Try not to eat them all immediately.  Actually it’s quite good that one has to wait for them to chill because that delays the opportunity for scoffing.  Kids love them but it does make them very chocolatey in a “please don’t touch the furniture” way.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

The art of Marketing


I had the joy of a trip to Basildon this week.  The office car park is adjacent to this building.

I work in Marketing, but clearly lack the vision of the talented people at Weston Homes Plc.

I don’t know about you, but I see this building and I see the signage.

The words Luxury and Apartment don’t seem to fit with the building.  I’m not sure Basildon is ready for such sophisticated marketing techniques.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Running versus walking

I’m trying to create a website from scratch.  I’m struggling a bit.

I have zero training and zero experience (current job aside).

I have considered doing some evening classes to learn about this but I think all I will learn will be a sanitised antiseptic approach.

This means I’m trying the bull in a china shop approach.  At the moment I’m breaking a lot of china and it doesn’t seem to matter which way I turn, it doesn’t get any better.

I honestly think that a little bit more patience and more reading of documentation would fix the problem, but I’m hoping a friendly soul will spare me 30 minutes which will achieve the same results.

Sunday, 11 January 2009


Ethan wants to drive fifteen cars.

It’s quite sweet really that he’s decided the way to achieve this is to become a rockstar.

As a mother I’m more worried about him having a drug dealer on speed dial.  Condoning violence towards others and anorexia are also concerns. 

I guess if he dates a glamour model who has expensive tastes then I’ll have to try and bite my tongue.

I’m not sure I should be concerned about him taking baths with ten friends though.  I mean that’s what rugby players do.

Anyway, thanks Nickelback.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Chocolate pudding in a mug

This was posted by a friend on Facebook and, because it was easy, I tried it.
It’s sooooo easy and when my children ate it they told me it was the best pudding I had ever made.
  • Get a mug, yes a mug! I used a very big mug, the sort used on the continent for dunking breakfast baguette or croissant.
  • Throw in 4 tbsp plain flour (I used SR flour and this seemed to work very well), 4 tbsp sugar & 2 tbsp cocoa & mix well.
  • Add 1 egg & mix again.
  • Pour in 3 tbsp milk & 3 tbsp oil (I used corn oil) & mix well.
  • Add 3 tbsp chocolate chips (I used chopped up chocolate coins) & a splash of vanilla (I omitted this because I forgot to put it on the shopping list this week).
  • Mix, then cook in the microwave for 3 minutes!!! Don't panic if it goes over the top of the mug.
  • Tip out onto a plate, cut in half serves 2 adults very well with a dollop of ice cream on top (I didn’t do the ice cream because the kids would have exploded)
Very yummy.

Following feedback and experimentation I revised this recipe here

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Discrimination at the BBC

Ever wondered why it’s usually a man that wins the BBC MasterChef competition?  I have the answer – sex discrimination!  Let me explain.

I’ve watched two of the programmes this week and the men have an unfair advantage.

In each programme they start with six contestants: three men and three women.

The first challenge is to cook a dish from a surprise selection of ingredients in 60 minutes.  After the food has been tasted, the judges retreat to decide which three wannabes will be kept.

This is where it starts to go wrong.  The judges discuss the contestants in turn deciding whether to keep or reject people. 

They start by discussing the men in turn.  In the first programme I saw, two out of the three men were selected to stay in the game. 

Then the women are reviewed.  At this point three women are being considered for just one place.  Earlier the three men were being considered for three places.

Later in the programme we see the remaining three do a stint in a professional kitchen and then they cook two dishes of their choice in another 60 minutes.

After the tasting of these dishes the deliberations start again with just one place in the quarter final up for grabs.

Once again the order for consideration is men first.  By the time they got around to discussing the one remaining woman there was no point as they had already found their quarter finalist.

In the second show I watched, a woman managed to make it through to the quarter finals but that was just because the men were really talentless.  In the first show where a man prevailed the women, who were rejected, did demonstrate talent.

So, on behalf of the talented women who didn’t make the cut, I’d just like to say “It’s not fair.”

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Banana and chocolate muffins

Makes 12 yummy muffins and is handy if you have ripe bananas.

  • 280g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp soda bicarbonate
  • pinch salt
  • 3 large well ripened bananas (weighing about 450g in total) will yield 140-190ml when peeled and mashed
  • 110g granulated sugar
  • 1 egg beaten with fork
  • 60ml milk
  • 90ml corn oil
  • 85g choc chips (although I substituted with unwrapped and chopped chocolate coins)

Prepare muffin tins (put paper cases in muffin tin).  Preheat oven to 160 deg C for fan oven.

In a large bowl, sift together (or if lazy like me stir with a fork): flour, baking powder, soda bicarbonate and chocolate.

In another bowl, mash bananas thoroughly with either potato masher or fork.  Add sugar, egg, milk and oil.  Stir well.

Put wet ingredients into dry.  Stir until just combined.  Batter will be lumpy but no lumps should be visible.

Spoon into tins.  Bake for 20 mins.  Tops should be lightly browned and spring back when pressed gently.

(If you only have SR flour then omit baking powder but don’t alter soda bicarb)

I should say that these are best eaten on day they are baked, but they do freeze very well.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Unwanted mail

TV Licensing have written to “The Present Occupier” at my Dad’s address. Dad died in April, aged 86. The age at which TV Licences are free is 75.


“You are hereby notified that we have authorised officers from our Enforcement Division to visit your home, as our records show there is still no TV Licence for this address and as yet we have received no response from you to our previous communications.

If evidence is found that you watch or record television programmes without a valid licence, our officers may interview you under caution. Your statement will then be taken in compliance with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and you may be prosecuted. If found guilty….”

I had two thoughts when I read this:

  1. It is perhaps a little heavy handed
  2. Have they not heard of the Bereavement Register?