Writing in Progress

Hi guys,just a quick post to show you a link to my new facebook page called ‘Writing in Progress.’ It is handy to jump to older blogs linked with their pics and also to see other extracts of my writing that I will be posting.

https://www.facebook.com/writinginprogresssamanthagray9

Cheers,

XSXS

Good Vs Evil

Last night, I went to see Jekyll and Hyde, a production put on by the Burton Operatic Society, and it was fantastic! This is not really a review but I will encourage any of you that live in the midlands to go and see it. The leads were amazing with very strong singing voices and the portrayal of the story was brilliant. All the cast, band and people backstage did a wonderful job. I always enjoy these shows and it is great to see one of my good friends come alive on stage… not that she doesn’t seem alive the rest of the time, but you know what I mean 😉

I loved the depiction of good and evil within the production like where Dr. Jekyll’s fiancée was up high getting ready for bed in her angel like nightie and in contrast at the same time, Lucy was down below being amorous with a man…very devil like. And Jekyll himself, at the end, was torn between his two selves and kept rapidly turning his head from ‘Jekyll’ to ‘Hyde’ and this was shown by his change of hair (half up for Jekyll and down for Hyde, which I thought was very clever!) and the colours of light blue/red. The language too… when Jekyll says to his fiancée ‘Night, my angel.’ and she replies ‘Night, my devil,’ very good hint at the future!

The production got me thinking about the idea of there being Good and Bad within all of us. Do we agree with this? Nobody is perfect so we all have good points and faults. But would we go as far to say that there is evil within us? If the evil within you became a person in their own right then would they be as sinister as Mr Hyde in the story? Would they go around killing people? It is an interesting thought that there are two sides to us. But I am not sure it as simple as that because like we are all different then surely we have different amounts of good and bad too.

Do we get murderers, rapists and paedophiles because they have more evil in them than good? I think probably so. I think it is a battle between the angel and devil we always see on TV but not literally. We have these two urges in our mind that represent good and evil and one will win. This explains why bad things get done and whilst some people are mostly ‘good’ but have their moments of nastiness…. human nature I guess. To back up with a little solid psychology theory: Freud’s structural model of the psyche can help us a little here. He believes that there are three parts to our brain to make up our personality structure; the Id, the Ego and the Super-Ego. The Id is what controls our instant gratification driven by what Freud calls the ‘Pleasure principal’. So when you just ‘need’ that chocolate bar then it is your Id that is winning the battle there….. I wish mine was a little more strong-willed! The Ego is based in reality (Reality Principle) and what should happen according to the situation but still getting what you want in the end. The Super-Ego is related to our morals, fighting the Id and acting on what is right for what we believe in. That is very simple summarising of it and I’m sure there is more to it. But if we take this and think of a situation where we really dislike someone and want to shove the ice-cream they are eating into their face… the Id will be all for this and doing it there and then, the Ego would want to punish the woman but maybe through another way? Or nick her ice-cream when she goes to the loo? The Super-Ego would then rationalise it all and think there could be a better way to deal with it as shoving food in her face would be wrong. So imagine these three battling it out and depending on who we are, how we have been brought up and what morals we have then who knows who will win? Someone with a bigger Id could be more evil maybe, every nasty, negative thought is acted on impulsively. This is just a thought of mine anyway, it could explain a lot.

I also think, that as humans, we are all capable of killing someone. This thought first came to me years ago when I studied Shakespeare’s Othello and Othello is a calm, gentle man and is driven to kill his own wife because doubts and rumours are planted his mind by the villain Iago that his wife has been unfaithful. Can we all be driven to killing someone? I’m not saying that if our mates tell us our partners are cheating when we will go and murder them but this example made me think about it and how a calm, gentle man was pushed to the limit. If we had family members who were killed, would we not want to kill the killer? We could all be in a situation where we want revenge and could be pushed and driven to acting in this evil way.

And yes we all have some good in us too… as hard as it to believe with some people as they keep it very well hidden! Tell their Id to go away 😉

A nice topic that ties in nicely with Halloween! Happy Halloween everyone… hope you get treated and not tricked this evening!

XSXS

Problems with Children

Evening everyone… oh wait it is still afternoon but it is so dark that I keep thinking it is way later! Honestly, I have my lights and heating on already!

I have occurred a few problems relating to children today…. and I’m on half term away from kids! This morning, I went to town with my friend (dressed in normal ‘muggle’s’ clothing – not Harry Potter attire may I add!) and we had a wander round the shops. I had my flu jab… partly because I have asthma and partly because I work with kids and all the lovely germs that come with them… so to protect myself from this I feel the flu jab helps! Immunise yourself against the youngsters = good plan! My arm hurts and I can’t raise it up but I’m hoping the pain will be worth it. Anyway, when we were in a charity shop before heading home, a woman came in and complained she couldn’t fold her grandchild’s pushchair down. She wanted to leave it there to pick up later. We, plus the charity shop worker all had a go at collapsing this pushchair to no avail. This is a problem with having children… all the accessories that come with them! She needed it to take the kids out but couldn’t fold it down. It was a right fiddly thing and she ended up leaving there (because it wouldn’t fit in her car boot upright either). My friend pointed out another thing too; the fact that she wanted to leave it in a charity shop, saying she couldn’t ‘think of anywhere else to leave it.’ Is  this another problem? That if you have big contraptions or toys, then the only place you can trust to leave them is charity shops?  She didn’t opt to leave it in one of the big chain shops but a shop that sells second hand goods for charity (in other words where her pushchair could have easily been mistaken as goods and been sold to a customer!). It does make you think that there are few people you can trust. I am assuming her thinking was that, ‘Oh they must be nice people to work in a charity shop, so they will look after my pushchair.’ I bet many elderly people would say, ‘Oh in the olden days, you could leave anything out in the open and it would still be there hours later!’ If only…..

My other problem with children today was that one wanted to come and live with me! My friend, an ex work colleague, came round for the afternoon with her two little boys. The youngest, as soon as he came in, exclaimed, ‘Can I stay here Mummy?’ I felt a bit like the witch from Hansel and Gretel, having a home that attracts children! His Mum explained that they had moved house, moved out of one and then gone to live with their gran for a while and also been on holiday a few months ago and he had been attached to that house too. So a lot of houses for the little one to get used to!

We had a great afternoon, Smarties and juice for the kids, tea and biscuits for us grown-ups and lots of Wii playing. So much that the youngest boy didn’t want to go home! I joked about finding him a bed and then started to worry that I actually might have to! Haha. He was most distraught when we turned the Wii off and didn’t want to go 😦 It was very sad. I said, though, that I was glad he was crying because he didn’t want to go and not because he wanted to go. So that was nice in a way but not nice for Mum! Maybe my Smarties, that I gave him, made him hyper. I hear that is another problem with children and sweets!

This evening, it is just adults… me, my sister and a friend of to watch another friend perform in a version of Jekyll and Hyde!

Have a good evening and remember if you have toys or push chairs that you don’t know how to take down, then don’t take them out 😉

XSXS

A Little Magic at the Weekend…..

I don’t know if there are any Harry Potter fans out there? But yesterday I was Harry Potter. My boyfriend’s sister had a Harry Potter themed party (well it was actually Harry Potter, Merlin, Disney, Percy Jackson and randomness but let’s stick with Harry Potter to keep it simple!) I painted some house banners, you know of Ravenclaw, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Slytherin to decorate the house and I wore a Daniel Radcliffe mask….. that I had to add a red lightning scar to make it authentic….. a wand, a cloak, a scarf and tie. Very funny.

Me in my Harry Potter gear………….Expelliarmus!

There was lot of activities supplied by my boyfriend’s Mum. We had to go and do a treasure hunt yesterday. This involved looking round our local town for random things such as flowers, bus tickets, leaflets, newspapers etc and ticking them off as we went! Bear in mind that I was dressed as above (though I must confess that I left the wand and mask at the house and in my long, black winter coat I looked quite normal… well for me!), my boyfriend’s sister and her mates were dressed as random Harry Potter students and Bellatrix Lestrange and my boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend was dressed brightly as Luna Lovegood! So yes, we looked a right sight and it made me think that it could be real. Like in the books where the wizards visit the muggle world. That is what it could have been! A group of people at one point were getting into a car dressed as witches (for a Halloween party I assume!) and they said,’Oh look, we aren’t the only weirdos about!’ I said to my boyfriend’s sister that it would have been really funny if they had exclaimed, ‘Err we aren’t in fancy dress… we are actually witches and just visiting your muggle world for the afternoon!’ That would have been really funny and an attempt to bring Harry Potter and the world of Hogwarts to life for the afternoon!

Anyway, the treasure hunt went well. The other team consisted of my boyfriend, his twin, their brother and his mate. So girls vs boys. They boys won, sadly, but I was really pleased with how we did because we didn’t spend a penny (on getting items like Macdonald’s wrappers… we hunted the floor…. or a bus ticket…. one of us charmed the bus driver to give us a stub.) We also went on foot, whereas the boys went in the car. This meant we were slower but not by much! So I think we did very well in that case. Shame we didn’t have actual broomsticks to use like in the film!

I want to end this post byexpressing my ultimate envy for J.K Rowling. Not for the money and the fame. If i was going to be famous, I would want it to be for writing a book and she just has it so good having written a great series of books that have appealed for years to all ages. And then eight great films get made too! It is just such an original idea (even though there was some controversy over her getting the idea from another book about wizards or something?) She not only created great characters but a whole new world, language and culture. I am in awe. I would love to come up with such an idea that I could write seven books about. Maybe it is in me somewhere!

Have a magical evening!

XSXS

I found some a lot of these points very useful so just had to share. XX

Cristian Mihai

I’ve been following and reading a number of blogs for over five years now. I remember this blog by a Romanian journalist; I would spend hours reading the posts, the comments — oh, the comments were so funny and great. It was quite addictive. He got an insane number of comments, and I was jealous of his success.

I was quite sure that I would never become a successful blogger. I created some blogs on various platforms, but I never had the patience to build an audience. The thing is that I never asked myself whether I had something worth writing about on an almost daily basis. I think this is something a lot of bloggers struggle with. What’s worth sharing? What’s considered useful information? Also, I believe that a lot of writers simply focus too much on trying to come up with an original idea for a blog, a new…

View original post 1,033 more words

Time to Write

I actually felt really excited to write tonight. That is the reason for writing a blog, I realised. The want to write. That yearning to get your ideas out there. I mentioned a few days ago that I had been thinking about rejigging my blog or starting a new one. I am not going to do anything just yet as I am going to follow some advice that I read in a fellow blogger’s post. It is important to read blogs as much as write them. The advice that I read in Christian Mihai’s post ‘The 7 Golden Rules of Blogging,’ that said no matter what you write or how often, you should stick it out for a year. So that is what I plan to do and then decided on an extra blog or whatever. I will reblog his post actually after this as there are some great tips for bloggers in it.

The reason that I get excited about, well words really, at this time of year is because the clocks change. Time changes. It reminds me of one of my favourite lines from a poem. Carol Ann Duffy’s poem Mean Time:

‘The clocks slid back an hour

and stole light from my life’

I love this and it shows how that one hour can make such a difference. Every year when we put the clocks back I look at this poem. I go into my study and dig out my poetry collection also named Mean Time. I studied it at A level and it is a great collection of poetry. I sometimes get it out when the clocks go forward to and remember the reverse of how we gain light. I always remember which way round with the old saying ‘Spring forward, Fall back.’ Using the Americanised word for Autumn of ‘Fall’ helps me to remember that along with the leaves falling off the trees, the clocks fall back an hour. Yes, they slide back as Duffy so brilliantly puts it. They steal light from our life. The nights get darker. Funnily enough, the Britons always think of the positive in this case of ‘oooh we get an extra hour in bed!’ The bright side of a situation?! Mmmm very unlike us!

Duffy’s poem is quite depressing really but has some very interesting ideas about life and time. She says ‘these are the shortened days’ meaning that in general life is short and her references to death; ‘we will be as dead, as we know’ and ‘endless nights’ tell us that death is forever. It is life that has the time limit. Very depressing thought in one way but makes sure we make the most of life, I guess. She also talks about if the sky could lift one hour away from her life then that hour could have been full of angry words to her lover and that could have been the hour that was taken away; ‘If the darkening sky could lift/ more than one from this day/there are words I would never have said.’ It would be great if we could choose which hour of life got taken away… or which hour we gained. At A level we looked at the different meanings of ‘mean time’. Like it can mean ‘mean’ as in average. Average time. Life is just average. Or it can mean ‘mean’ as in cruel and that life is cruel to us. Very interesting poem and I recommend you take a look.

But in the mean time, what will you do with your extra hour?

XSXS

More Cheese Please!

I don’t know if any of you out there have heard of raclette? I only ask because I never had until we moved into our house and were given a Raclette grill. Raclette is the type of cheese. The grill and way of eating it seems to come from Germany/France/Austria. My boyfriend first had it when he was snowboarding in France and Austria and when we were offered this grill he was most excited! It is quite good actually and a very social way of eating.

Ours is like a teflon, round grill plate (some are made of marble/stone) – this is where you cook meat. Raw chicken, beef, pork etc. I know it is a bit weird to have raw meat on the table but the idea is to cook it together. Then underneath you have these heat elements and you put in little triangle trays full of the hard cheese and it melts. You then serve the melted cheese with your meat and we usually have cooked meats like salami, chorizo, parma ham etc with small, salad potatoes, salad and french stick. Yummy. If you break it down, I guess it is just potatoes, meat salad and melted cheese! But is the idea of cooking together and keep eating little bits. My boyfriend has boy’s nights and they get through nearly a wheel of cheese and have various rounds. They claim to get the cheese sweats! My boyfriend also claimed to have cheese ‘giggles’ once and he came to bed giggling uncontrollably…. it was the cheese, no not the beer of course 😉

This is the picture I found that is most similar to ours. Meat on top and cheese below!

 

You can be more adventurous too. I actually bought my boyfriend a Raclette book, which has ideas for social gatherings and different ways to use your grill. You can prepare vegetables/mushrooms/prawns and cook certain things in a pan before so they are a little cooked and finish them off with the cheese in the little trays after. Last night, I put some potatoes onto the grill to brown them and also peppers. So you can do what you like really.

We had Raclette on our French holiday in the summer. It was a little different though. you get a stand that holds the cheese (below) and then you scrape the cheese of either side. You get the cooked meats, potatoes, salad and bread but don’t cook raw meat. So not sure if that was something they added when they made these grills or what. It was still good though and nice to try it in a restaurant.

The raclette in France…. the cheese comes off either side….

The reason we had one last night, just us two, was that my workmate’s husband had been to France and bought us a pack of Raclette cheese back. So we thought it would be nice for a Friday evening. Sounds like we are getting old….. having a cheese evening! Haha. The cheese can actually be quite difficult to get. We have arranged to have 8 people come for a raclette evening before and then not been able to buy the cheese! Once, I was running round Lidl (who only seem to have it certain times of year), Sainsbury’s (who seemed to suddenly stop selling) and Aldi who didn’t have it at all! This may have been the time my friend bought some back that evening from a bigger Sainsbury’s in Conventry so the party could go ahead! At times. my boyfriend has gone to a cheese shop in a town 40 minutes away and then to Waitrose in another city! We are dedicated to our cheese!

You can actually use different cheeses in the grill and the book I bought shows this. But we just think that for how often you use it, you might as well use the proper stuff!

Hope, I’ve given you some new ideas for your Saturday tea. A tip: if you have a teflon one like ours, make sure you use plastic cutlery to put the meat on/take it off.. (my girl mates love making fun of my boyfriend who is the ‘fun police’ with his plastic on teflon!) Haha

Have a good day,

XSXS

Not Always Worth it…

Well tonight guys, I am off for a meal with ex-work mates. No, not at my previous school but at Woolworths. I can’t remember if I have mentioned to you that I used to work for them…. right til the end when they went bust. Ever since we have all met up a few times a year for a cavery meal and a few drinks. There may have been a gap when we first left, since we had to wait until everyone had new jobs and could afford it! The meals are actually a family affair for me, as funnily enough, my Mum and sister both worked there when it shut down. My Mum had worked there years and was the one to get me a job after Uni and sister was a Christmas temp (very temp!).

this was the actual branch I worked at… just after we closed. It is now a PoundStretcher!

Working there was interesting. Yes, interesting, that is the best choice of word. At the time, I loved it but when I look back now, I didn’t really know what it meant to have a job you loved. It was awful hours, twelve-hour shifts, evenings, weekends. A lot of physical labour too and you got a lot of crap off the customers. Don’t get me wrong there was some lovely customers too… but they aren’t the ones that you moan about over dinner and a glass of wine that evening or the ones you remember years later. I do, however, remember a certain woman from when we were working through our last days. Stock was shrinking along with out patience and dignity. Customers were vultures and just wanted a bargain.. at any cost. (Never mind the 30,000 people losing jobs!) There was one lady though who donated £20 for us. To buy some buffet food to cheer us up, as it was Christmas and we were losing our jobs. Such a lovely thought and I will never forget that.

I will also never forget the time I found a pooey nappy on my department. I used to run the clothing department. We were only a small store so kid’s clothes was all we did. It was enough. A Mum clearly had to change a kid’s nappy one day and slid the nappy under one of my shelfs. Not at item I would want to sell! disgusting! And it is the likes of this that you get when you work with the public! I had to get a plastic bag and fish it out. Yul. I was definitely not on enough money for that! Occasionally too, I mopped up wee (but I told myself it was apple juice as I did it!) and one morning when I opened up (I used to run the store on Sundays) and some of the ceiling had caved in and bits of mushy ceiling were all on the floor. Dear me. We had to open a little later that day.

There are hundreds more stories from my short 1 and a half years there. I’ll share some more with you another time. Just one more though because this is really funny. I actually though of this the other day because, at school, we were on about people and pupils in particular who tend to have intelligence OR common sense but not both. As I said, I used to be in charge on Sundays, meaning I used to be in charge of quite a lot of teenagers, who needed a job whilst at sixth form or college. One boy started as a christmas temp and I was told he was extremely clever and got straight As… iI didn’t think he would have any trouble working a till. Turns out we didn’t even get to that hurdle easily. I told him at the beginning of the shift to put a bag in his bin for rubbish. You would know what I mean right? I even gave him the roll of rubbish bags as I said this. He then put the whole roll of bags in the bin! I said ‘no, just one bag in the bin’ meaning to line it. He ripped off one bag and put that in the bin. I think I walked off at this point! No common sense… or any kind of sense at all!

I’m sure, we will relive some of these stories tonight….. hope you enjoyed the insight into life at Woolworths and realise it wasn’t always so ‘worth’ it!

XSXS

Use Faces and Books not just Facebook.

Well today, I attended my first webinar. If you can say ‘attended’ as I didn’t even have to move from my chair; just click a few buttons. It is another step I guess for the internet. Another way for us to do things through a screen. Is it lazy? Or is it just common sense? I mean, I didn’t have to go on a course today to hear that seminar, travel somewhere and miss school for the day (as much as I would have liked to 😉 ) or spend money in order to do this. So it saved me from having a day off work, time and money. All good right? I guess in that case it is, except from the fact that it just isn’t the same as actually being there. You get muffled talk every so often and it was funny when the moderator hadn’t turned off her ‘mute’ button so you could hear the ‘click click’ of her typing (something you would hear if you were actually there though) and to ask a question you had to type in a box. I didn’t write one because there was nothing I wanted to ask. Would people ask things they didn’t normally dare? Or did they ask less things? Because sometimes being there in person you feel under pressure because the talker keeps looking at you, so you ask a completely random, irrelevant question.

To move onto other internet communication devices, Facebook has become world-wide phenomenon. I find it ironic that it is called Facebook, since you never have face to face conversations and people read statuses more than they read books! I love Facebook, don’t get me wrong, but I think it does stop people doing things physically like talking, sending invitations, printing photos, getting together etc. Why send invitations when you can create an event group? Why pop round to your mate’s house for a cuppa when you can type ‘hi’ on instant chat? Why text that mate personally when you just comment on their status? Why read a book before bed when you can just read a Facebook article? Facebook does have its uses but we need to make sure it doesn’t stop us from actually speaking to people. I have a rule that I don’t add or speak to someone on Facebook who I have never spoken to in real life.

There are the shops too. Amazon, Play.com, Ebay as well as Tesco and all the other online supermarkets. Is this why the nation is getting fat? We no longer have to leave our settee to get food or hurl it back to the house. Plus online we may buy more. At least before if you were buying a KG of chocolate at least you would lug it back with you along with 4 pints of milk and a bag of spuds. You would feel you had burnt some calories in order to deserve the chocolate treat! I do like online shopping for other things though. It seems cheaper to buy books and DVDs anyway and you can browse and compare prices much easily. So, I must admit that I do about 80% of my Xmas shopping online. It is sad though that the high street is dying because of this. The high street, where people had to walk, socialise and get fresh air.

So, the internet is a good thing but sometimes you need to get out there. Go and look at a real face, see a real shop, go to a proper seminar and don’t just be glued to that screen all day. Besides, it’s rude to stare 😉

p.s I do note that the irony of this blog is that I communicate my ideas to you everyday via the web… so anyone fancy coming round for a cuppa and c chat?! Haha.

XSXS

Today, I saved a life….

Yes, today I did something amazing…. I gave blood.  You know their slogan that says that? Well, it is kinda true, even if it isn’t directly. It is the only thing that gets me going down there and giving up my time anyway. I make sure I do donate the red stuff regularly for a few reasons: I am fit and healthy, I feel OK after doing it and also I am a rare blood type (O- , which not many people possess but it can go into anyone). The thing is though, even the people who have ‘common’ blood (sounds like a mud-blood typed character from Harry Potter doesn’t it?!) then they are just as needed because there are people out there who need different types. It is something I feel quite strongly about and I do think that people who are medically and physically well should give. It should perhaps be a legal requirement to give. Because it takes an hour of your time just three times a year and yes sometimes I feel a little sore after an a little light-headed but that is all. In strong contrast it can save someone’s life just by giving something that can easily be replaced in 24 hours.

The statistics that go with giving blood are shocking. I had a leaflet delivered about a year ago (so apologies that the numbers may not be completely up to date) and it said that 5% of people who are able to give, do. 5%! I hope that that figure has changed actually and increased a lot. My blood type O- is only possessed by 7% of the nation. So I feel I need to do my bit for this small percentage!! Imagine out of the 5% who give with O-? 35% of the nation have A+ blood, this includes my boyfriend. I teased him saying ‘trust you to always get an A+!’ A- is also only 7% but the whole A group can go into half of the people out there so also just as vital. I won’t go into all the blood groups but I just wanted to give a taster of how important it is because no matter what blood group you are, someone needs it! So if this blog, encourages just a few people to give then I will feel I have helped a bit more.

This brings me onto another problem though, which brings me onto a bit of a catch 22 situation. They want people to give, need people to give and encourage people to give, yet there isn’t always the facilities to give. Today, I actually went to my old school (where I did my A levels and worked for 3 years too). I have donated at many different places in our small town, mainly because places stop doing it after a while and find another building. Really, we need all the buildings putting on regular sessions and the nurses to staff it in order to cater for these extra donors that they want. They encourage you to make appointments so that you don’t have to wait but then people who do not have an allocated time, get turned away. So really the appointment system is just a first come first served basis. New donors are then never going to get to donate. More places need to exist, certainly in our town anyway. I don’t know if anyone has experienced that in their towns? So, I could be encouraging you to donate your blood and you could then get turned away.

Today, there was six beds and 47 people had appointments in the first hour. Each donations takes roughly 20 minutes. Does that add up?  My maths isn’t great but people would be waiting a long time I imagine. The sad thing is some would give up and go home after the long wait and those appointment free people, who got turned away, could have given. Hopefully, this will improve eventually.

The process of giving blood has changed a lot in the ten years that I have been giving. It’s funny how they change how they do certain things but that is the world of medicine improving and developing all the time I guess. It’s little things like them wiping you with an antiseptic wipe before hand. It used to be a quick wipe and now they have to wipe you vigorously for 2 minutes. you have to hold your fingers firmly on your wound afterwards for 3 minutes after to ensure it is not still bleeding. Everything is about time. The main change this time was the chairs/beds. They discovered that it is better to sit upright to give, yet they then found some people were getting dizzy so they recline people back in them anyway. Good to have the option though. You also used to have to lie there for 10 minutes after before you sat up but now you pretty much do straight away. Oh another change is that you have to drink a pint of water before you give now. To make sure you are hydrated. With this and the teas and biscuits (which happily have never changed!!) at the end, I am always dying for a wee! So I normally donate two lots of liquid in the building haha.

The hydration thing is a great thing. My friend once fainted when we went to give. This was a few years ago and me, my boyfriend and our friend went to donate blood after a night out the night before. Our friend was dehydrated from lots of drinking and hadn’t had a drink that morning. He gave blood and we were sitting having the tea and biscuits after and mid-sentence he fell to the floor. I thought he was messing about because it seemed to comical. He had fainted though. He was fine in the end but that is what can happen when you aren’t hydrated.

My main problem when I give, is my small or very hidden veins! They always struggle to find a juicy one, which means they have to probe and poke at me… sometimes both arms…. in order to find a suitable vein. This makes it very uncomfortable and my arm has been sore all day actually and I bet I will get a nice bruise. But it is a badge of what I have done and I won’t let it put me off. And you do get a real badge too if you do enough donations. I received my bronze award badge last summer, which quite frankly could be a silver or gold by now because there have been periods where I haven’t given. I didn’t give during my Uni years because quite frankly my blood was pure alcohol haha! No, seriously, I couldn’t give for 18 months after going to Dubai because there was a reason that ou couldn’t give back then if you had visited Asia. (I don’t think that’s so anymore.) Also, I had a tattoo so couldn’t give for a year and sometimes I have missed donations. So I feel guilty for missing the odd one, do you feel guilty for not giving at all??

I actually drafted a couple of poems a while ago when I received that leaflet. I wanted them to be persuasive poems and I was going to send them to the newsletters. A flaw in the plan though; only donors receive the newsletter! It is the non-donors that we need to get through to, so any ideas where I could re-post this blog or send my poems would be great. I haven’t actually finished the poems either but see what you think of what I have written so far:

Giving Blood – (orginal title I know! needs work)

We cringe when we see it,

in its deep red form,

but we need it to be fit,

from the second we are born.

You can be positive or negative,

you can do the right thing,

(That’s it so far of that one.)

I like to Give

Yes, I work full-time

do the housework too

but I never commit the crime

of not saving a life or two.

I remember birthdays

sometimes presents as well

I never forget those other days

when I give another gift … (needs work to rhyme)

It doesn’t matter what the type

A, AB, O or B

you need to listen to the hype

your blood is precious, you see?

Only 5% are generous

out of those who are able

so do think about it

and get up from the table.

Any feedback would be good. Today is a long blog, but it is a subject close to my heart (just like my blood is!) so if I have persuaded just one of you out there to find somewhere to donate then this blog has done some good. Go on, do something amazing!

Now, I will bloody well shut-up 😉

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British with extras….

Do we all consider ourselves to be ‘born and bred British’? (If we are British to begin with that is). What makes us British? I received a text recently; a  joke one. Some can be great but I hate those ones that you have to send to twenty people before midnight or you will die a painful death. Luckily, this was one of the funny ones. It goes:

‘Being British is about driving a German car to an Irish pub for a Belgian beer, then on the way home grabbing an Indian curry or a Turkish Kebab to sit and eat on a Swedish sofa whilst watching USA shows on a Japanese TV.’

definitely something to think about! We think of ourselves as pure British and moan about people ‘coming into the country’, yet we don’t moan about all these things we use, eat and watch every day from other cultures and countries. Also makes you think, what actually is made in Britain?! Well we do get British cars and other made items and another take away could be fish and chips to be fair… and British TV wins over American a lot of the time. Whats makes you think of Britain though? I think of red letter boxes, Buckingham palace (and the queen inside!), good Cadbury’s chocolate (they have it in other countries but it just doesn’t taste the same), certain writers and books, roast dinners, amazing countryside and of course the unpredictable weather! It is important to embrace other cultures though. So the above things that we do are fine yeh, but we can’t complain about other people being over here. I don’t have a problem with it to be honest. There is no physical barrier or rule saying people have to stay living in their own countries. As long as people work, give to economy, pay their way and respect the people they are with, then that is just fine.

I work in a school where being a white and British is the minority. There are black Caribbean, Indian, African, Polish, japanese, Pakistani and lots more. I love it. It is great to learn about their cultures and religions. The names were very tricky to learn though, since I was used to being in a White British based school previously. Since January, I have learnt the names and noticed certain patterns of cultures and religions and the names they have. Hussain seems to be the British equivalent of ‘Smith’ I think. Two Japanese pupils have told me this week though that they are going back to Japan at Christmas and not coming back. This is the effect I have on the kids you see! It seems some come over for work and then go back after a certain period.

Oh to tell you the rest of the text by the way, it says: ‘Only in Britain can you get a pizza to your home faster than an ambulance. Only in Britain do banks leave both doors open but chain their pens to the counter. Supermarkets make  ill people walk to the back to get their prescriptions, yet ‘healthy’ people can get fags at the door. We might be British but we’re funny.’ So it seems we are excused from these things because they are amusing! Does seem daft, especially the bank one. My pizza always takes a while to come and luckily I haven’t had to ring for an ambulance so I can’t say about that one!

We may get some things a bit wrong but as I said above, we do roast dinner riiight! This weekend ,on Sunday, My mum is making Christmas dinner. No, don’t worry it isn’t Dec 25th already… we still have what? Ten weeks? Don’t panic. My mum wants to do this for the Aussie relatives to give them a proper ‘British’ Christmas dinner before they go back. And they need showing, since when we went there in 2005, we had a BBQ for Christmas dinner. Plain weird. So that will be nice.. and we will bask in our Britishness.

Tonight though… we are being oh so tongue in cheek British and going out for an Indian curry 😉 It is the most popular take away in Britain funnily enough, so it’s important the Aussies experience this too!

Have a good evening drinking Belgian beer, eating Swiss chocolate on your Swedish furniture 😉

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No Woman is an Island

 

Today has been a good day. It began in a solo way, which I like sometimes. I went swimming on my own at 8.30 and when I say alone, I was pretty much the only one in the pool, except one family and about 6 kids on a swimming lesson in a separate lane. It was nice to have so much room. It used to be packed at that time so I can only think that is the looming cold weather that has kept people in bed and away from the water.

With such few people, it didn’t mean there couldn’t be any drama though. It seems to follow be around. I was on length 16 I think when an alarm went off. I thought ‘noooo a fire alarm… does this mean I have to go out onto the street wearing one of those tin foil cloaks?!’ That was my initial thought as I got out the pool. I was so engrossed in this that I hadn’t realised that a girl had ‘nearly’ drowned and that was what the alarm was for. One of the life guards was wet but I thought he was just pulling the girl out for our ‘fire’. Haha. It didn’t occur to me why we stood still by the pool for the 5 min and why they kept asking this girl if she was OK! I felt bad that I didn’t ask because I didn’t realise until they walked off to fill out paper work. I blame it on being 8.30 am on a Sunday! Turns out anyway that the girl had just gone slightly too deep and panicked but she was fine. I continued my swim anyway after as normal.

That was my workout for the day and meant I could pig out guilt free at the family party later… including my cheesecake (see my post from yesterday, A Cake of Cheese (Part 2) ).

From being alone at swimming, I spent the rest of the day surrounded by people. All of my close family was there today except from two aunties and and uncle. So close. But it’s hard to get everyone together at the same time and place isn’t it? So this was the closest we had come so I insisted that we took a huge group photo. I sensed it would be more trouble than it was worth with trying to get my Grandad out there from falling asleep in his chair, to get my aunties out there and my uncle who hates photos. People kept offering to take it and I was like ‘Nooo, I want you to be in it!’ God bless the timer function on cameras. We had two cameras balanced on plastic garden chair at the top of the garden steps as we all gathered around the patio area. You know when it’s pressed and you only have 10 sec to get ready? Well we did that and actually managed to all get together. The tall, broad men at the back and the shorter ones at the front. But being quite a tall family, some ducked. But it all worked and we got some nice group piccys. My gran also took one of all her children, a grandchildren one etc. It was really nice to get some recent pics.

It is important to get together with family and it got me thinking about we all need each other, hence my title ‘No woman is an island’. We all need people to be happy and the more family members there are, the better. The quote, ‘No man is an island’ is used in the film About a Boy where the young lad says at the end that there was lots of them now and it was good, always someone to fall back on. Extra support. And that is what family should be; a support network.

Anyway, the family party was good and my cheese cake went down well….. hope some of you have had a go at making it today! We have lots of things planned for next weekend with the Aussies…. just wish that I didn’t have to go to work in between. Their holiday attitude is starting to rub off and I have to keep reminding myself that I have to go to work tomorrow. Oh well, as I say, I am not an island and all my family will be there when I return!

See you tomorrow,

XSXS

A Cake of Cheese (Part 2)

Afternoon everyone. You may remember a while ago that I posted a recipe for a cheese cake in A Cake of Cheese. I have also shared with you, my love of chocolate in Sweet like Chocolate. I mentioned that I have a recipe for a dark chocolate cheesecake too….. one to take you to the dark side. 😉

It’s been a busy week with the Aussies. Tomorrow, we are having a huge family party and me and my Mum are sorting the food. This is where my cheesecake comes in. I am making one for tomorrow. The white chocolate cheese cake that I posted about previously is a recipe off my Aussie aunty, so it’s only right that I share my recipe in return right?

In the last few years, I have made this cheesecake probably ten times. I got the recipe from a Sunday magazine and it is a recipe of Tana Ramsey (Gordon’s wife). It requires a bit of messing and a lot of different bowls but it is so worth it! After making it so many times though, i still haven’t learnt that my cake tin is smaller than the one in the recipe so I always end up with too much! Hence, I make two mini ones too 😉 A happy mistake then really.

So without further ado… here is the recipe:

Chocolate Cheesecake

Preparation time: 15 minutes (though I swear it always takes me longer… must be the licking out the bowl!)

Cooking time: 45 min to 1 hour.

  • 300g of sweetened oat biscuits (they work well but I also use digestives a lot as some prefer them.)
  • 75g butter
  • 150g of good quality dark chocolate
  • 750g of mascarpone or cream cheese (Philadelphia or supermarket alternatives work well.)
  • 125g light brown sugar
  • 3 beaten medium eggs
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 (160C if fan oven). Line a 23cm nonstick springform tin with greaseproof paper (I just grease my tin with butter and it comes out fine.)
  2. Put your biscuits into a food processor until they are crumbs (or if you are unlucky like me, put them into a plastic bag and bash with a rolling-pin – another reason it takes me longer!) Then melt your butter, mix with the crumbs and press firmly into your tin to create the base. Put in the fridge for 10-15 min.
  3. Meanwhile, melt your chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of hot water and set aside to cool (but not too much because i find it separates otherwise.)
  4. Beat you soft cheese and add the sugar and beat again. The stir in the beaten eggs and the chocolate and pour onto the chilled biscuit base.
  5. Put the cheesecake in the oven for 45min – 60 min (I find mine always needs the full hour.)
  6. When it is ready it will still have a wobble to it if you shake it slightly. It will continue to cook as it cools.
  7. Let it cool and refrigerate until ready to serve! Yummy.

You can add grated chocolate to the top too to make it really calorific! I put white chocolate onto mine once when it went wrong. This was when the dark chocolate separated from the cheese and it went speckly! So it was a hiding aid… but it makes it look pretty as an added extra.

My next challenge is to get the cheesecake to my Gran’s house without dropping it! 😉

Enjoy your chocolately treat this weekend!

XSXS

Life Up Over

Sorry, it’s been a few days folks. I’ve been very busy with mu Aussie relatives and fixing that damn car wiper blade arm (see Driving me to Despair). My Aussie relatives have had a good stay so far and it got me thinking that if we call Australia ‘Down Under’ then when they visit here, do we call it ‘Up Over’? Well they are enjoying their time up over anyway.

I saw them last night for the first time in 7 years. I met them at the Bed and Breakfast they are staying at. I went to meet them in the pub so I could then drive them back to my house for dinner. It was about 6.15 pm when I got there. I couldn’t open the bar door. Typical, I thought. I haven’t seen them in 7 years and I can’t get to them! I can’t even open a door when they have travelled half way across the world! Turns out the pub was closed to the public so that was why. I discovered this when I said to the barman ‘Woah, it’s quiet in here!’ He said, ‘it isn’t quite; we just aren’t open yet!’ Haha. Anyway, seeing my relatives was weird but for only a second. They looked the same as the most recent pics on Facebook and it was like I was talking to my aunty on Facebook chat but without the two screens, oh and thousands of miles, separating us.

You soon start to spot the cultural differences, as subtle as they are. My aunty said she thought I was very brave for driving round the small, hilly, villages with a manual car. Quite frankly, I don’t know any different. I know we have some automatic cars over here but in Oz they all are pretty much. My Dad gave his ‘clutch’ foot a huge rest when he drove over there in 2005. The thing was, I actually used to want an automatic because I struggled so much with the clutch when I was learning to drive (it took me 18 months worth of lessons to pass… that is many other stories for another time!) So for her to say I was brave for driving round in a manual car was quite nice. I had finally for there!!

I cooked dinner for them plus my Mum, Dad, sister and her boyfriend. It was nice to catch up. My aunty actually had some sad news yesterday, which she told us about. Her step father died rather suddenly that morning and her Mum told her that day. Typical that something like that happens when she is on the other side of the earth. Not a lot she could do and her Mum didn’t want them to cut the holiday short and go home. Very sad news though.

We had many topics of conversation through the evening. One was how to pronounce the city of ‘Derby’ as they were visiting there the next day. We say ‘dar-by’ don’t we? My uncle pointed out that it should be said like ‘der’ as in ‘der, how stupid are you!’ It makes sense if you think about it. i was just trying to find some examples to prove this point. ‘Deranged’ sort of is but it seems that we say ‘de-ranged’ so we pronounce the ‘de’ separately. Like in ‘derisive’ or ‘derail’.Even more complicated! And the query came from an Aussie who also speak English! God knows what second language English speakers. I think we make things more complicated on purpose.

Another thing my Aussie relatives find funny is thhe fact we have a meat product called ‘faggots’. This comes up every time! It also means gay. We have that meaning too but they only know it as that. So if we say we are having faggots for dinner, then it is highly hilarious to them. Just as when I mentioned that they call flip-flops ‘thongs’. Meaning can definitly be misconstrued there too!

They also find the names of beers and pubs funny. My aunty was telling me that when she was over here years ago with a friend, they found a pub called ‘The Nun’s Passage’ and then they started to drink a beer called ‘Bishop’s finger’. So they would say ‘Let’s go for a Bishop’s finger in the Nun’s Passage!’ Gotta love the English for puns and sexual innuendos.

Our town is tiny so when they said they had been there yesterday, me and the pub owner laughed when I went to meet them. We joked that had they seen all the charity shops (Aussie’s call them ‘Op’ shops) and the card shops! I then had recommendations that they go to Ann Summers (our fun and slightly rude shop) and also look out for the blue building that is the rowing club where my boyfriend rows. Those are some sights to see! Our little town doesn’t have a lot to offer but we are lucky because we aren’t far away from a lot of pretty places. I would love to take them to Lincoln. I lived there for three years when I was at Uni and would love to show them the Uni, the castle, the cathedral and even more historic, the places I used to live! Working in a school though, as huge number of weeks off we get, we can’t choose when to have a week off. So, I’ll have to wait til they return when I am off school and can go out with them in the day too.

But they have the rest of my family to go out with and I hope they enjoy the rest of their visit Up Over!

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