Category Archives: General wittering

The Big Move!

MY BLOG HAS NOW MOVED TO…

WWW.BITOFTHEGOODSTUFF.COM

Please come and visit me there! 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under General wittering

My Little Saviours

Okay, time to reveal the source of the ‘challenges and opportunities’ (known to others as ‘frustration’ 😉 ) that I encountered Tuesday night and Wednesday morning…

Here it is…

It looks so innocent doesn’t it?  Some might even call it ‘beautiful’.  Before it arrived in the post, I was even referring to it as the ‘Sexy Salsa’.  Now I just call it the ‘smartypants’ phone :-/

I thought it was about time that I embraced the new technologies of the 21st century and get myself an ‘android smartphone’ (I don’t have a clue what that means!)  This upgrade (£13.50 p/m) is actually cheaper than my old phone deal, so I should add it to yesterday’s ‘Big Budget Challenge’ post 😉 

Well, it turns out that the ‘smartphone’ is way too smart for me.  I didn’t have a CLUE how to use the thing.  I was chuffed when I finally worked out how to turn it on after 5 minutes of fiddling… but it all went downhill from that point onwards 😦  

The phone had automatically ‘synced’ with Facebook and my phone contacts list was then filled with the phone numbers of Facebook ‘friends’, rather than my regular friends.  I pressed the first name that appeared at the top of the screen to see if I could edit it.  To my horror, the phone started calling the person… Esther in Canada!!!  It took me ages to work out how to end the call (because I’m so thick when it comes to new technology).  THEN, I accidentally rested my finger on the phone… and it started ringing Esther in Canada again!!! aarrghhhh! 

I gave up and decided to have another try in the morning.

M asked me if I’d read the manual.  I checked the manual and no, it doesn’t mention how to make a phone call or send a text as it ASSUMES that everyone already knows how to do this.  The manual just talks about ‘Facebook Chat’, ‘Snap, tag and share’ and other things that I have NO clue about. 

I finally worked out how to send a text, but my fat fingers seem to press about 5 letters at once.  A 2 sentence text took me about 5 minutes because I had to delete every other letter.  I can’t wait to let my mum have a go (mind you, she can’t do worse than me lol!)

My second ‘challenge’ on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning was an attempt to move my blog to a new host.  My new hosting provider has a ‘1 click install’ which is described as being so simple that even a 4 year old could do it.  I’m sure a 4 year old probably could do it… but I failed miserably 😦  It’s still not sorted, but I’m hoping that my wonderful tecchie friend ‘E’ will be my saviour on this one 😉

So after a rubbish Wednesday morning (which I’m happy to say wasn’t a complete waste of time as it’s been a great source of amusement for my friends 😉 ), it was a relief to leave the house, the phone, the computer, and go to teach my kids’ meditation classes.  🙂 🙂 🙂

The kids were little stars as usual. Just watching them meditate filled me with such a sense of peace. 🙂  Apparently, Lil’ L and some of his friends had been meditating during playtime, before I’d even arrived at school.  It was a very chilled, rewarding afternoon.  This carried on after school too.  I sneakily took a picture of Lil’ L meditating in the garden…

And here’s a pic of another 2 of his classmates meditating Wednesday evening (emailed to me by their mum).

Don’t they look so peaceful?

And finally, here’s a beautiful picture that another one of Lil’ L’s friends drew on Wednesday afternoon.

What a beautiful way to end a crazy day!  

I’d love to upload these images onto my new smartypants phone but that’s one step too advanced for me.  Maybe I’ll ask a 4 year old 😉

Have a wonderful weekend everybody! xx

10 Comments

Filed under Buddhism & Meditation, General wittering

Yummy Scrummy Winner… and a Blu Animation!

Hello lovely readers!  Hope you all had a fantastic weekend and a great start to the week! 

Before I talk about anything else, I better put you out of your misery and announce the winner of the Yummy Scrummy giveaway. 

A piece of Yummy Scrummy will be on its way to one lucky winner tomorrow...

To select the winner, I allocated all the commenters a number (except Dan as it didn’t seem to fair to give him the chance to win his own chocolate brownie 😉 ) and then used random.org to generate a number. 

I’m excited to say that the lucky winner is…. Ragnhild (Vegan Aphrodite).  Congratulations Ragnhild!  I’ll be in touch shortly to get your postal address.

Thanks to everyone who took part.  I wish I could send you all a Yummy Scrummy!  I can’t do that BUT I have got another exciting giveaway planned for next month AND it has a chocolate theme again!  I’ll post a note on Facebook/Twitter once I know which week the giveaway will fall in.

Before I sign off tonight, I just wanted to share a surreal moment that I had at the weekend.  On Saturday morning, Lil’ L and I went along to the kids club at The Little Theatre Cinema in Bath.  The session was described on the billboard as ‘Animation Extravaganza’.  Considering the average age of kids at the club is around 5, I imagined that they would be showing a series of short cartoons like Tom & Jerry.  I was wrong!  Very wrong! 

One animation involved a zombie (eyes popping, bits of brain dripping out, blood splattering the pavement) chasing a chicken down a road.  Even Lil’ L buried his head into the back of the chair!  I sat there in amusement, taking sneaky peaks at the other parents to see the looks on their faces 😉

Whilst still inappropriate for 5 year olds (IMO), the next animation absolutely blew me away.  It’s by the graffiti artist Blu and is called ‘Big Bang Big Boom’.  It’s described as ‘a short unscientific story about evolution and its consequences’.  I found it utterly mesmerizing.

 

Maybe I’m just ‘not down’ with what 5 year olds are watching these days! 😉

 

7 Comments

Filed under General wittering

Schools out!

The school holidays are here!  Hurray!  🙂   

To mark the end of their time in the Infants, Class 3 performed a rendition of ‘Wonderwall’ by Oasis for the parents.  It was very sweet. 😉  

Lil’ L decided that he’d like give his teachers some gingerbread cookies as a ‘thank you’ gift.  We made gingerbread houses for Jon, and gingerbread hearts for Jackie.

 

For our first trip of the holidays, we travelled by train to visit family in Dorset.  As soon as we arrived, we headed to Burley (Hampshire) for lunch in one of my favourite tearooms.  They bake the most delicious vegan ginger cake I’ve ever tasted! 

I forgot to take my camera so I've borrowed some photos from the wonderful website http://www.geograph.org.uk. This image is (c) Derek Harper

For me, Burley is a place filled with wonderful energy.  This might be, in part, explained by its historical association with white witches.  Back in the late 1950s, Britain’s most famous white witch, Sybil Leek, lived in Burley.  She later emigrated to America and her son lives in Melbourne Beach, Florida.

There’s a number of shops in Burley that sell witch and wizard-related items, such as the ‘Coven of Witches’…

Coven of Witches Shop in Burley (c) Richard C

 and the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

(c) Graham Horn

One of my favourite past times is walking through the ancient woods that can be accessed from Burley.  There’s something very magical about these woods…

Another beautiful experience we had during our visit was seeing all the New Forest ponies and their foals grazing on the Common. 

(c) Trish Steel

 These ponies have roamed free in the New Forest for over 1000 years.  It’s funny to see them in places that you would never expect.  During our last visit, we saw ponies and baby donkeys outside the newsagents and pub, and two highland cattle sitting on someone’s front lawn!

(c) Chris McAuley

 
We had two bonus viewings of the ponies on the way to the train station, as I left my handbag at mum’s house and we had to drive back again.  Sorry mum!
 
 What a wonderful start to the school holidays!  Just need to plan special activities for the next 44 days 😉

3 Comments

Filed under General wittering

The Agonies of Dairy

When I was doing my degree and PHD (many moons ago) I spent a lot of time to-ing and fro-ing to Paris.  As soon as I arrived, I would head straight to Bastille to buy a pancake from this little crepe stall that I adored.  My favourite pancake filling was nutella and banana.  After savouring every mouthful of the pancake, I would then spend the next half hour or so sitting on the steps of the Opera de Bastille, clutching my tummy in agony! 

I've spent a lot of time sitting on these steps!

It would take me another 4 years to realise that I was actually allergic/ intolerant to dairy.  Throughout my student life, everything I ate seemed to give me stomach cramps and upset stomachs.  Being a vegetarian, it was likely that most dinners I ate at university would have contained dairy (this was a long, long time ago when the classic response to ‘I’m vegetarian’ was to serve you pasta or vegetables covered in cheese).  

I went to the doctor’s a few times over the years, but they would put the stomach problems down to ‘student lifestyle’.  I put up with it for years (with a little help from bottles of kaolin and morphine).  The ‘lightbulb’ moment came when I complained to a friend that even a cup of tea would leave me in agony with stomach cramps.  Ding!  I realised the culprit must be dairy.   As soon as I stopped consuming dairy, all the symptoms stopped.  No more stomach cramps, no more upset stomachs… and even the patches of eczema that I’d had all my life completely vanished! 

Since I’ve stopped eating dairy, I’ve never looked back.  I feel far healthier, my skin’s clearer than ever, I weigh less and I have no more stomach pain.  People ask me if I feel that I’m missing out but the answer is no, not for one moment as I’ve never felt so good. 🙂  

I’ve subsequently found out that most of the world’s population is lactose intolerant.  Studies have also shown strong links between the consumption of animal protein and increased risk of heart disease, hypertension, obesity, diabetes and the common cancers.  More than ever, I’m glad that I’m unable to consume dairy.

Another reason that I don’t feel that I’m missing out is that I simply substitute animal protein for vegetable protein when I cook meals and bake treats.  One such example is pancakes with chocolate sauce.  Inspired by a recipe by Jane Easton from Viva, I’ve created my own version of my Paris favourite.  Our family love having these pancakes for a weekend breakfast treat.  If there’s any chocolate sauce left over, Lil’ L loves to spread it on crumpets or toast as an afterschool snack.  Both the pancakes and chocolate sauce are low fat and nutritious, so we can all indulge to our heart’s content 🙂  Here’s the recipe.

Vegan Pancakes with Chocolate Sauce and Banana

6 Comments

Filed under Breakfast and Elevenses, General wittering

Glastonbury!

This weekend I went to Glastonbury Festival for the first time in my life.  It was an amazing experience and I’m glad that I got to see the craziness that is Glasto. 

 The place is so vast it’s mind blowing! 

Thousands upon thousands of tents... pitched in the mud!

It was very, very muddy.  I tried to not be too much of a princess about it.  I didn’t complain (much) and just concentrated on plodding on and not falling over.  Lil’ L managed to fall over 3 times in the first half hour!  It’s hard work wading through mud for hours, but at least it gives your legs a good workout. 😉

Glad I bought some boots!

My favourite area of the festival was ‘The Unfairground’.  This zone invites you to the dark side of the world where plane wrecks, mutants and freaks all groove to Bez’s Acid House.  I fitted in well there 😉

The plane wreck below was actually a tequila bar!  You had to pick your way through the debris, then prop up the bar in the company of a blood drenched aviator.  Lovely!

Lil’ L was a bit in awe and a bit freaked out by The Unfairground!

Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to Shangri-La – the “futuristic and dystopian wonderland”… as it didn’t open until 11pm 😦

Block9 was another late-night wonderland that we missed, but we did manage to see the incredible ‘London Underground’ – a 50ft tower block with a life-size, Tube train-cum-night club.  I would have loved to have seen it at night time when it was all ablaze.

The London Underground in Block9

I also loved the Greenpeace field.  Greenpeace is celebrating its 40th anniversary and it was great to join in the birthday celebrations with them.  There was cake, party games.. the whole sherbang!

The fish-cum-cafe below was actually made of old CDs!

There were some great installations by Greenpeace.

There were tons of vegetarian and vegan cafes and eateries at the festival.  We sampled the veggie burgers, falafel pittas and paella.  It was all delish.  My favourite refreshment had to be the fruit smoothie which was blended using pedal power to generate the electricity for the blender!  Very cool and fun to watch!

Blending smoothies through pedal power!

All in all, it was a great experience… and I didn’t get THAT muddy!!!

1 Comment

Filed under General wittering

Monkeys and Ducks

For this afternoon’s Wednesday Workshops, I chose a re-telling of the Jataka Tale ”The Monkey King’.  On You Tube, I found footage of adults and children at an NKT Festival re-enacting the tale in a very amusing way.  I thought it would be fun to show the children the NKT’s version, then we could re-enact the tale ourselves.  I quickly drafted the tale as a play suitable for the age group I’ve got this term (5-7 year olds), grabbed the laptop and mangoes and half walked / half ran to school (tight for time as usual), lugging my ridiculously heavy bag up and down the hills (this is my exercise for the day). 

The children seemed to love the play.  During play time, a few of them started to make costumes and props and they’re hoping to perform the play in front of their class.  I was very impressed with the reading skills of the children; there was one Year 1 boy in particular whose reading and acting skills blew me away!

It was swimming lesson night for Lil’ L and his friend Lil’ S.  On the way, I stopped to post a letter at Batheaston post office… and discovered 4 mallard ducks waiting to cross the High Street!  There were cars coming from both directions and a bike speeding down the hill.  I jumped in the road to try and stop the traffic and let the ducks cross safely.  The ducks weren’t paying any attention to my lollypop lady hand signals so I ended up dashing behind them and herding them across the road.  The guys outside the pub cheered and gave me a clap.  Cheeky things. 

As always on swim night, Lil’ L wanted spinach pancakes for tea with roasted butternut squash and pine nuts.  I thought I’d experiment with the filling tonight and make a white sauce.  Lil’ L took one bite, burst out crying and shouted “THIS IS RANK!!!!!”  It did make me chuckle as I’ve never heard him use this expression before… or look so disappointed with his dinner!  I think it was the mountain of wholegrain mustard in the sauce that did it for him.  Needless to say, I won’t be publishing the recipe.  I, on the other hand, loved the sauce and ate it all up 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Buddhism & Meditation, General wittering