Saturday 21 November 2015

Moving forward after Paris.

I didn't get to post my Friday Five News this week.  The week ran away from me.  Of course the news has been dominated by the events in Paris and the subsequent follow up in Belgium.  Then of course there was the attack on the hotel in Mali.  It's been hard to turn on the TV or pick up a paper without the atrocities being thrust at us in glorious technicolour showing us the full horror of these events.

These are frightening times and everyone is on high alert.  This was brought close to home on Thursday.  During the afternoon I noticed that a police car was blocking my road at the end of our block.  An area of the common by the road had also been taped off.   Next they taped off the road and van loads of police arrived. I initially assumed that maybe an incident had taken place on the common and that the police were going to conduct a search and maybe make door to door enquiries.  Instead they were knocking on doors and asking us to evacuate our houses.

I was told that there was a suspicious package on the common that needed to be checked out.  My neighbour said he'd been told there was a possibility of a bomb in a van.  Whatever it was, given the current risk of terrorist attacks no one was taking any chances.

Fortunately a friend of mine lives further along the road beyond the cordon so I was able to call on her and have a cup of tea while we waited.   Fortunately it turned out to be nothing sinister, although I didn't get to find out what it was - by the time I'd had my tea and a good catch up with my friend all the police and cordons had gone.  It didn't even make our local news site.  It's good to know that whatever gave cause for concern was taken seriously.

Living in a major city that is on a terrorist's target list is a worry but like most Londoners I'm not going to change the way we live "in case".  Of course when warnings are issued by the police or security forces they cannot be ignored but if we change our routines etc we let the terrorists win.

We also need to remember that all our neighbours deserve to be treated fairly.  There has been such horrible things posted on social media this last week.  The events in Paris and Mali are truly awful but they have been carried out by extremists.  They are not the actions of ordinary law abiding people or those who believe in a God.

The problems in the Middle East are complicated but we will not help solve them by making cultural assumptions and we have to be tolerant of and kind to one another.  You might say that living in London makes that a daily necessity but actually if we aim to be decent human beings we should all be doing that all the time. 

Thursday 19 November 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge 18/11/15

Wednesday's Hodgepodge is brought to us courtesy of Joyce at 

Pop over there to see other posts and if you want to join in add the link to your Hodgepodge blog post to the Linky List at the end of Joyce's post and don’t forget to visit at least your neighbours on the list.

Have fun!

1. What's surprised you most about your life, or about life in general?
Well that’s a bit deep – or at least it could be.  Life is full of surprises.  Some nice, some not.
2. Among others, these ten words were added to the Oxford English Dictionary this year...awesomesauce, beer o'clock, brain fart, buttdial, cat cafe (apparently this is a real thing), fatberg (gross-read the definition here), fat shame, hangry, Mx (gender neutral), and skippable.
Your thoughts? In looking over the list, which word do you find most ridiculous? Which word would you never in a million years say out loud? Which word would you be most likely to use in conversation?
Well they’re all a bit ridiculous.  Hopefully, having checked out the definition, I won’t have the need to bring fatberg into conversation.  I don’t think I’m likely to use any of them.  I might ask if it’s wine o’clock though!
3. Do you like gravy? Is there a food you'd rather not eat unless it comes with gravy? Do you make your own or buy the canned or store-made variety? Turkey and gravy, sausage gravy, mashed potatoes and gravy, country ham and red eye gravy, biscuits and chocolate gravy, pot roast and gravy...which one on the list is your favorite?
I love gravy.  Mine comes in granular form but hubby will make it from scratch.  Sausage and mash just has to have gravy.  We like to have suitably flavoured gravy as well, i.e. chicken for chicken and so on.
4. Do you have a plan? Do you need a plan? Have you ever had a plan fall into a trillion pieces? Explain.
I always sort of have a plan.  I definitely need a plan because without one I don’t get much done.  I guess the plan that fell into a trillion pieces was earlier this year when the plan to stay at work until retirement age came to a premature end.
5. November 19 is National Play Monopoly Day. Do you own the original or some version of the game? Do you enjoy playing Monopoly? How likely is it you'll play a game of Monopoly on November 19th? Ever been to Atlantic City? Ever taken a ride on a railroad? Is parking in your town free? Last thing you took a chance on?
We have an original UK version of Monopoly and I do enjoy playing it although playing with my kids becomes very competitive at times.  I’m not likely to be playing on the National Day (who thinks up all these days?) and I’ve never been to Atlantic City.  (Although I have been to a lot of the places on the UK board.  I’ve been on a railroad including travelling from Washington DC to New York via Philadelphia last year.
Parking in London is a nightmare.  Free parking does exist but most car parks charge.  Many residential areas are also parking zones where permits are required.  Charges vary from borough to borough.  Our borough doesn’t charge for the first car but subsequent cars attract a fee.  Visitors also have to pay.  Zones usually operate during working hours Monday to Friday although some operate on Saturdays too.  There is also a congestion charge enforced if you travel into central London during the working day. 
I took a chance yesterday and decided to call in on my mother-in-law and she was out.  Won’t make that mistake again.

6. A song you like that has the word (or some form of the word) thanks in the title, lyrics, or meaning?   
Well not sure it would be a favourite song of mine but the one that needled its way into my head was Thank you for the music by Abba.
7. In keeping with this month's theme of gratitude....what is something you're taking for granted that when you stop and think about it, you're grateful for?
Electricity.  I’ve very rarely had to manage without it and certainly not for very long (camping holidays excepted) but some areas lost power this week due to the storms we’ve had.
8. Insert your own random thought here.
Our honeymooners are home safe and sound so I’ve had to give the cat back :(

Friday 13 November 2015

Friday Five News 13/11/15

The INTERNATIONAL  news that caught my eye this week was the US political debate that had a British guy on the moderating team.  This caused quite a stir on Twitter.  Hopefully he understands more about the US political system than I do!

The LOCAL  news item I’ve included is all about benefits and in particular how David Cameron is trying to negotiate reforms with the European Union.  I don’t actually advocate reading the article, the main point of which seems to be highlighting that under new proposals people would be better off not working.  It’s a bit long and a lot complicated.

Complicated just about sums our benefits system up.  Here’s a thought.  Wouldn’t it be easier if we had a minimum wage that actually allowed people to manage on it?  Wouldn’t it help if private rents were capped at the same levels as social housing?  What about if people are out of work just providing them with an amount that would enable them to live in a basic way, i.e. put a roof over their heads, food on the table, clothes on their backs and provide basic necessities? This might then encourage those who want extras to find jobs that give them the extra money needed for these. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m in favour of the welfare state and the National Health Service.  But it’s too complicated at present and who can blame people for not trying to find work if it pays less than benefits?

Moving on to SPORT: This was dominated this week by the report on doping in Athletics where Russia has been highlighted for allowing athletes to slip through the testing regime and compete “unclean”.

Again it’s a long article amongst many others on the subject.  The decision on whether or not to ban Russia from future events is due to be made public some time today.
This is another hard topic to agree or disagree with.  I think it is totally wrong for athletes to take drugs to enhance their performances.  I know it can’t be as simple as doing tests just before an event to weed out those at fault so that no-one has to be stripped of medals afterwards, robbing the true victors of their victory at the time.

However, a blanket ban on a country risks those “clean” individuals from being able to take part in events because of the mistakes of their country’s governing bodies.  Should they be penalised in this way?  One could argue that it would be hard for athletes to be part of this system and not know what was going on and that by doing nothing they are as guilty as those who took the drugs.  I’m not sure I would want to be a whistle-blower in Russia though so perhaps clean athletes can be forgiven for not taking a stand while trying to avoid being pressured into taking drugs (which I believe they are) and just getting on with trying to do their best.

In ENTERTAINMENT the news today was that Terry Wogan will not be presenting the annual Children in Need show tonight due to health issues.  He has been an anchor of this programme for many years and it will be hard to step into his shoes.  I usually watch the programme which is an annual charity appeal with funds going to support projects in the UK that help Children in Need.  The programme is usually entertaining but it is also very poignant with highlights of where the money is spent and stories of children that are in need and how projects etc are helping them.

The MISCELLANEOUS item I picked out this week is rather apt for me as I hate getting up.  If you can spare a couple of minutes it’s quite an amusing clip and who knew there were so many types of alarm clocks?  Personally I still prefer the cup of tea brought up by hubby as my wake up call ;)

All links are courtesy of the BBC website. Opinions are my own.

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge 11/11/15

Wednesday's Hodgepodge is brought to us courtesy of Joyce at 

Pop over there to see other posts and if you want to join in add the link to your Hodgepodge blog post to the Linky List at the end of Joyce's post and don’t forget to visit at least your neighbours on the list.
Have fun!

1. In two or three sentences tell us what Veteran's Day means to you?
It’s a time to remember all those who fought and died, or survived to make our world a better place.  We can debate the rights and wrongs of war but most of those veterans were just doing their jobs and hoping they would make a difference.
2. What's your favourite film with a patriotic theme woven into the storyline?
I hardly ever go to the cinema and am useless on film trivia.
3. Flu shot-yes or no? If you answered no, do you plan to get a flu shot? If not, why not? Have you ever had the flu?
Yes.  I've had mine for this year.  I had the flu years ago and would not want to repeat the episode.  I ended up with a chest infection and it was a good month before I had a day where I thought “Today was a good day – I feel better.”

4. I've seen lots of people posting pictures of their Christmas trees up and decorated. Many stores have had Christmas on display since well before Halloween. Red cups are back at Starbucks, sans the holiday decor, and that has some people up in arms. What are your thoughts on all the holiday ruckus this second week of November?
It’s way too early.  Seems to get earlier every year.  Whatever happened to the advent season being just in advent? As for the cup saga – not entering into that debate.  Being politically correct these days is like walking into a minefield.
5. What 'critter' are you most afraid of encountering unexpectedly? Why that one?
Probably a rat or maybe even a fox.  Mainly because they have become so commonplace in urban London and they are quite fearless and wouldn’t always just turn tail and run at the sight of you.
6. Do you like building things? What's the last thing you 'built'?
Well that would probably be self-assembly furniture and yes it’s quite satisfying when it all comes together and there are no pieces or screws left over at the end.  (And it doesn’t fall apart when you stand it up!)
7. In keeping with this month's theme of gratitude...what are you most grateful for that brings beauty to your daily life?
The changing seasons.  The trees on the common are turning gold right now and falling.  The sunsets are pretty.  Even the fog we experienced last week was good to look at when it came down in the late afternoon.
8.  Insert your own random thought here.
I need to improve and apply my time management skills to full time home life!