Category Archives: Randomaneous

In which I am not proud to be British

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At the moment, I am not proud to be British. In fact, I am anything but.

The campaigning around next week’s EU referendum has revealed a nasty underbelly to this country that I am disgusted to see. And with yesterday’s murder of MP Jo Cox, something that has really affected me, the tone has become even darker. While the motives of the killer have yet to be uncovered, and it is rumoured that he had long term mental health issues, there’s no denying that the referendum has become a catalyst for some people to reveal a darker side.

Whenever the topic of leave/remain has come up and I’ve found myself talking to people who want to leave, I always ask them for their reasons. And while I can’t agree with them in any manner, shape or form, I’m pleased, for want of a better word, that none of these have been on the lines of immigration (more on political power, governance and economics).

Unfortunately the majority of the Leave campaign has been conducted around the topic of immigration, leading to a nasty ‘us and them’ mentality that is exposing the racist, xenophobic views that so many people in the country seem to hold. Views that I thought had fallen out of favour in the 70s and 80s, and seem completely at odds with life in the 21st century.

The Ukip poster unveiled yesterday summed up just how divisive and horrible the Leave campaign has become, using the refugee crisis and the misery of millions to score a cheap political shot. All this talk of “taking back control”, “making Britain great again” – it’s pathetic, jingoistic nonsense.

We often joke with our German friends about Europe, winding them up when we say we’re “visiting” Europe when we come to see them, just to hear their comically exasperated cry of “but you live in Europe!” I do think that there is a difference between us and the continental mainland, and I have often felt a gap between the UK and countries such as Germany and France in attitudes towards the EU and the role that our country plays in it. But I still think the EU is a wonderful institution, one that I am fully committed to being a part of; one that has an important role to play. We already have a slight divide due to geographical location, and I have absolutely no desire to further distance this country mentally from our cousins across the water.

If we wake up next Friday and have left the EU, that’s sending a clear message to Europe, and the rest of the world, that we consider ourselves to be superior, different and better than other countries. This is not a message that I wish to be associated with. It makes me sad that so many British people do.

 

 

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In which a cat in a festive jumper is wishing you Merry Christmas

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Christmas card 2014

All I can say is, it’s a good job that Olivia doesn’t realise the indignities which I put her through each year! After last year’s brief foray into InDesign, we’re back in good ol’ Paint.

Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year, full of food, family, friends, books, films and sheer doing-nothingness.

 

In which we climb England’s sixth highest mountain

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Last week S and I took a week off work and headed off on a Northern road trip. First stop was Leeds, for the joint reasons of seeing S’ family (including our lovely nearly two year old niece) and also watching the Tour de France’s Grand Depart. While it wasn’t as exciting as seeing the mountain stage last year, it was still fun to be a part of such a big event, and to get our share of the random free stuff chucked out from the caravan. Shame the Brits are having such a bad year!

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The following day we headed up to the Lake District to camp it up for a few days. It’s not an area I’ve ever explored properly, so I was stunned at how absolutely gorgeous it is there. Sparkling water juxtaposed with brooding mountains – just beautiful. The glorious sunshine helped to make it feel even more Alpine.

Our campsite was on the edge of Lake Ullswater, so we were greeted with this view every time we unzipped the tent.

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The plan was to climb Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain, which would have brought our Three Peaks total up to two thirds. But unlike Snowdon, Scafell Pike is actually pretty hard to find and not actually signposted or anything. I know that sounds really stupid, but it’s dead easy to find Snowdon – there’s a railway, a tourist centre, some very clearly marked paths. Scafell Pike is just one of a mass of mountains, and while we had a walkers map showing us how to get there, we seriously underestimated how long it would take us to walk down from the Langdale side and reach the summit. After hiking for a couple of hours and realising it wasn’t going to happen, we settled instead for climbing Bow Fell, which at 902m is still nothing to be sneezed at. I’ve heard that Scafell is actually the hardest of the Three Peaks to climb, due to the loose rocks, and if it’s anything like Bow Fell I can see why. We were on our hands and feet for the last few metres, delicately picking a path through large stones to make it to the top. (The view and sense of achievement was worth it, however.) We realised afterwards that it would have been better to approach Scafell Pike from the Wasdale side, which the internet also backs up, so it’s on the list for next time!

To rest our aching muscles the next day (as a result of seven hours of walking over rough terrain, including a quite nasty two hours of descending over rocks which was not my favourite part of the day), we became proper Lake District tourists and headed to Windermere for a mooch around the town, a cream tea and a trip around the lake, which was just lovely. I also bought a piece of Kendal mint cake, but managed to not succumb to anything Beatrix Potter related!

And although when we came back on Wednesday we spent the rest of our holiday doing DIY, we also a friend over for dinner on the Saturday night, I caught up with another good friend in Knaresborough for a few hours, and our bifold doors were finally completed, making it a very good week indeed.

In which there is February so far in bullet points

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  • The month has so far been all about the cooking. S’ birthday involved making two dishes I’ve not done before (salted caramel brownies and beetroot tart tatin) and then the very next day we started on food to take to our friend’s 30th birthday weekend in West Wales. A picnic pie, chocolate chunk cookies and a carrot cake made the cut, although the caramel apple cake we initially made as her birthday cake turned out to be a flat failure and was therefore relegated to home consumption.
  • The way to my man’s heart was to buy him the Tintin TV series boxset. It brought back some very happy childhood memories.
  • I’m co-ordinating another photoshoot tomorrow and I’m very excited about the theme – think Georgian manor setting with lace dresses, pearls, cameos, gloves, parasols and afternoon tea. I’m not excited about the weather which is predicted to be 1 degree and cloudy.
  • I did this last night. But without the lunge. What doesn’t kill you, eh?
  • Turns out it wasn’t food poisoning after all, but something like norovirus – ten other wedding guests apparently had as bad a night of it as we did.
  • Olivia has taken a fancy to our fringed table cloth and keeps attacking it. The cold weather has made her a bit wussy about going out so she is venting her frustration at a lack of frisking on our interiors. Our sofa will never be the same again.