Monday, 24 July 2017

Ear, Ear!

I know this is a trivial thing, but... I have had sticky-out ears for all my life to rival those of Dumbo and Prince Charles [except I hide mine under my haircut] I thought I'd got used to them.
However, since I acquired a new mobile phone [OK, inherited my daughter's cast off smartphone] I am finding that mid call, my dumbo-ear somehow touches the screen and cuts me off, or redials someone else, or causes other problems. It happens whether or not I am wearing ear-rings, with both left and right ears. [no jokes about final frontears, please]

It's OK if I hold my mobile in front of me and use speakerphone, but sometimes that is not appropriate when it is a private call. Does anyone else suffer from this interfearence ? Any suggestions?

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Did You Say 118?

Perhaps 118 reminds you of the adverts for that company - 118118  - with the two crazy moustachioed runners. Firstly they were advertising a directory enquiries service

And then as their company had a dramatic reduction in profits, because their call charges were so high, they re-invented themselves as a loans provider.
But the number 118 reminds me of that Psalm in the middle of the Bible. It has some great, and familiar verses in it - The Lord has done this, and it is marvellous in our eyes...Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever...This is the day that the Lord has made, we shall rejoice and be glad in it...The Lord is with me, I will not be afraid.
118 118 have made two claims - the first was that they could help connect you with the people who will help you, and the second is that "you are not alone, we are a loan". In both cases, you will end up paying rather a lot of money for their assistance.

But look again at Psalm 118 - if you take all the verses in the Bible, the exact middle verse is right there - Psalm 118:8 says
"It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man"
At the very heart of our faith is the truth us that Jesus came to help us reconnect with God - and that we are never alone, because nothing can separate us from God's love.
If I have to choose one or the other, I will go for 118:8 rather than 118 118 - much more reliable, imho!
btw, it was suggested that the two runners modelled themselves on David Bedford, the British athlete who was so successful in the 1970s. When DB complained about his image being misappropriated, the American parent company said "We have never heard of him, we are basing our runners on Steve Prefontaine, the US athlete who died in 1975" Look at the picture and judge for yourself. I think the Psalmist had a point about where to put your trust.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Cracking Jokes

Sorry, no time for a proper blog post today. It has been a very busy week and unexpected urgent things crowded in and required time [and money] This morning we are off, bright and early to a gathering of the Almond Clan for some Significant Birthday celebrations.
Please note, technically the almond is not a nut but a drupe, and it is related to the peach. 
In the last 37 years since I changed my surname, I've been given a number of plaques similar to the one below. The first time it was mildly funny. Is it awful of me to confess passing on subsequent ones to the nearest CS?

Friday, 21 July 2017

Miss Austen, Take Note!

So we have been given details of the new ten pound note featuring Jane Austen.
The £10 note has security features that the Bank says make it very difficult to counterfeit. It is expected to last at least two-and-a-half times longer than paper £10 notes – about five years in total.

The new tactile feature is a series of raised dots in the top left-hand corner, developed in conjunction with the RNIB, the charity that supports people with sight loss. This is in addition to the elements already incorporated in UK banknotes for visually impaired people: the tiered sizing, bold numerals, raised print and differing colour palettes.
That is all very good - and the fact that a woman is featured is also brilliant. 
...lots of people are unhappy about the quotation printed on the note - I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading...In Pride and Prejudice, it was spoken by Miss Caroline Bingley as she flirted with Mr Darcy. She was a deceitful character with no interest in books. This brief clip explains...

I apologise that the voiceover is an American who clearly thinks he is the world expert on JA, and probably thinks she was an American too. This is a difficult one - quotations are often taken right out of context, because they make a good soundbite. This one is already on plaques and teatowels and notebook covers. 
Perhaps Mark Carney received one for Christmas and liked the quote without having read P&P himself [MC is Canadian after all, and probably had to read Anne of Green Gables, Margaret Attwood and Michael Ondaatje at school]
Another Austen Gaffe was by the Tory MP Andrea Leadsom, who declared JA to be one of our greatest living authors.
Can I state at this point that I think JA is okay, but I haven't really enjoyed her books as much as the rest of the world seems to. Sorry. That's just me - you will have to forgive me for my lack of literary taste here.
However, I am not in the same group as the guy on Pointless a couple of months back, who thought Jane Austen included Ford Prefect and Zaphod Beeblebrox as one of her characters in P&P.
Ah well, as JA said [in Mansfield Park, I think]
Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery
I shall endeavour to keep writing a cheerful blog. Dear reader, if you are a committed Janeite, and have any new tenners and are desperately unhappy with the quote, feel free to pop them in the post to me, and I will ensure they are spent with all due sense and sensibility.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Three Minute Thursdays #2 - Merry Berry

After last week's TMT featuring peas, this week is another freezer stand-by;  frozen mixed berries

I love these - they are so useful. 

Lots of supermarkets sell them, under various names [berry mix, forest fruits, essential berries, summer fruits etc] NOTE - aboiv the ones called 'smoothie mix' - as they often contain pieces of melon and or banana slices. They are OK, but not as useful for the ideas below.
As with peas, I decant my berries into a box - to ensure none get lost, and also to make it easier to pick out specific fruits.
So here are some ideas as to what I use these little beauties for..
Just pick out a few to garnish a dessert plate - and throw a few into a basic cake or muffin mix to add moist, fruity flavour.
 Sprinkle some on your home-made natural yogurt
Just two or three fruits will transform the colour of a beige smoothie made with your leftover bananas into a more enticing pink shade.
Put some into a jug of water to make a cool drink. NOTE - if you use raspberries, serve and drink the water promptly. Otherwise they will make the water slightly pink, but lose their colour, and float at the top looking like sinister little bloodless brains. Trust me on this one!

...blast some frozen berries in the microwave for half a minute, and make a hot sauce for vanilla ice cream
...pick out some blackberries or blueberries to freeze into your ice cubes
...put a tiara of berries round the top of a plain cheesecake or simple sponge cake
Fresh berries are delicious when they are season - especially strawberries- but a punnet of the frozen ones is a thrifty way to add just colour, taste and vitamin C throughout the year. Strawberries do not freeze well - so I usually only buy British ones in the summer, and avoid out of season imported or frozen ones.
I am still delighted to have discovered that the first blueberries grown commercially in Britain were in a nursery just 2 miles away, right here in Ferndown. And they are in season again right now.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Soap Opera

Where is your washing machine? Mine is in the kitchen.
Kirstie Allsopp has provoked an outcry recently by declaring that keeping it in the kitchen is disgusting. 'Why mix your poo, pee and period with food?' she says - and 'why mix toast, marmalade and butter with clean washing?' She claims her life's work is in part dedicated to getting washing machines out of the kitchen.
KA spent some of her childhood in the USA, where her parents followed the custom of keeping their machine elsewhere in the house [btw her Daddy is 6th Baron Hindlip, former chairman of Christie's Auction house] and she points out that the Brits are unusual in their habits - continentals put their machines in other places too...
Under the stairs, in the bathroom, in the downstairs loo, in the garage, hidden in cupboards in the bedroom or dining room...or in the Utility Room.
Personally I have no problem with mine being in the kitchen. In fact I like it there - it is close to the back door - so it's easy to carry the basket of laundry outside to the rotary dryer in the garden. It is close to the sink, so it is easier to transfer stuff which has had a pre-soak to the machine, or to do a quick rub and scrub on Bob's shirt collars. And of course, there is good access to plumbing.
The idea of carting a basket of wet washing from the bedroom down the stairs, or struggling outside to the garage in the middle of a hailstorm to wash my sheets does not appeal at all.
And if it is in the dining room - what happens if it goes into noisy spin cycle in the middle of your dinner party?
At Cornerstones we have a relatively small kitchen - and both the dishwasher and the washing machine are in the Futility Room [that's in the extension built by the previous owners]. But many people I know just do not have the space in any other room for a washing machine. Furthermore, the majority of British bathrooms do not have regular electric sockets. 
Is she right - is it really 'disgusting'? I know that the Romani people will not prepare food in the same sink as they have washed their hands or their clothes - and some even have two washing machines - for clothes from the upper and lower parts of the body.
By Kirstie's own logic, you couldn't site your machine in the loo, because then clean washing would be in close proximity to all those bodily fluids...
Maybe the answer is to schlep your sweaty socks round to the nearest Laundrette [we have at least three quite close to us here] I've used these in the past, in student days - and more recently I washed a duvet in one. I honestly have no idea what a regular wash costs in a Laundrette now. Should one wash one's dirty linen in public, anyway?
KA has backtracked a little now, saying it was all a joke and people over-reacted.
What do you think? Is it worth getting in a lather about?

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Y Pray?

I am in London this week for my WWDP Committee Part of this will be planning the Y-Pray? Conference next May. 

If you - or someone you know - is in the 20-40 [ish] age bracket, this might interest you.
Y-Pray? is the WWDP weekend conference, held in alternate years at the beautiful King’s Park Conference Centre, Northampton.
The name Y-Pray stands for two things
Y-Pray means why pray? a challenge to grow closer to God, and develop a stronger prayer life.
Y-Pray means youth pray – an invitation to younger women to discover more about our worldwide prayer movement.
Why not encourage those you know to come and enjoy a great weekend of faith, fellowship and fun?
In 2018, the dates are May 4th - 6th and our keynote speaker is inspirational Emily Owen, Worship Leader is gifted Helen Pollard - and Saturday night's entertainment will be provided by brilliant illusionist Steve Price. Email me for more details