Friday Links: £500,000 flight to Australia

Happy Friday!

This is going up a bit late because last night I didn’t get home until 8pm because I was in the office and I wanted to finish something before I left. I did finish it (and if I do say so myself it was a great piece of work!) and it had been that had been hanging over me so I was really happy I go it done but I didn’t have the time to sort out this for first thing this morning!

Here are this week’s links

Labour condemns ‘waste’ of Liz Truss taking private jet to Australia. Liz Truss is representative of everything that is wrong about this government and the Tory Party. The sad thing is that it doesn’t surprise me that she’s using government money wastefully, it seems like of course she would.

Inside Britain’s least-known art collection are works that should be ours to enjoy

In this debate over ‘missing words’, it’s marginalised people who are most at risk. This feels like trying to make something out of how oppressed you’d like to be rather than how oppressed they actually are. I remember my mother (who has some real issues with IVF and donor assisted conception) picking up a crying baby and saying to her which of your mummies do you want to go to? Because when I child is here, whether you agree with the methods used to get them here, you look out for the child, who is raising them is not as important as how they are raised, are they being cared for, their needs being attended to? Then you support their parents. It’s not hard. Is there a conversation we as a society need to have about why having children is viewed as a right not a privilege, absolutely. Do we need to talk about the children not being raised in loving and caring homes. Yes? Do we need to talk about what wanting children and not being able to have them in a society that seems to privilege parents above all?Oh yeah. More than anything else we need to centre children at the core of all of it. Not their parents, not their parents sexuality or gender. The children. What names we use for parents is irrelevant.

What Conservatives Really Mean When They Say Biden’s Potential SCOTUS Nominees Are “Unqualified” – This is the thing about conservatives, there is no appeasing them, there is no argument, no compromise you can make that will be enough. You have to decide what you are going to do and only deal with people that will work with you. It’s not going to be the headbangers…

Math Is Personal. At work we are talking about what it means to bring your whole self to work, it’s also relevant for the classroom too but its Maths not Math.

How “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” turned Encanto into a sleeper hit

The secret lives of baby teeth

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Allotment Adventures: On Track and a Bit Tidier

This week we went to the allotment and did something that wasn’t just collection or construction (although there was some of both!)

Tidy but sad

It’s tough on the allotment right now, everything is brown and damp and we do have things growing (leeks, kale, chard, spring cabbage, onions, garlic, herbs) they all look a bit sad and bedraggled.

We came to work but first we went to Wilko to buy bird food. The squirrels, pigeons and magpies have consistently wreaked the seed bird feeders. So we decided that we were not going to buy anymore and have instead gone to metal containers, so fatballs and peanuts are the way forward. The robin came and visited while we were putting them up, he seemed to approve and was already pecking at the peanuts when we left!

First things first, we sowed some sweet peas to be left in the polytunnel and then we put the obelisk that we bought for the transported roses in the new bed next to the polytunnel. Then I had to transport the roses!

First I had to prune the roses back (which is why this week my hands and arms look like I’ve been wrestling with a cat!), then get them out and put them in their new home. I moved one of the pink roses and the white one, leaving the other pink one to run amok in the rose garden but I’ve pruned that one right back too! I’m sure that they’ll survive but if they don’t, I’ll deal with it. This bed has pretty much all I want to put in it, in now. At the front are the peonies (which may sulk this year after their move), three white lavenders, and the roses. Yes everything in that bed is pink or white, no I didn’t plan it.

Behind that bed is a mess. There’s a boysenberry, some strawberries that we inherited and two gooseberry bushes that I need to put in the ground. So the plan is to cut the boysenberry back, clear as much of the grass as we can, and build a proper support for it. Then clear the strawberries, plant the gooseberries and woodchip that area. I know that is drastic but it’ll give us a productive, easy to protect from the birds area in a couple of years time! All that is a job for next week or more realistically, February.

Right back to what we actually did on Saturday. Ma was weeding the very weedy edges of the plot opposite the rose garden (so away from where I was working). It’s a horrible job and she’s so much better at it than I am! I need to get some cardboard and decent woodchip down here to preserve the work. It’s hard to see or appreciate unless you’re also fighting the encroaching couch grass in your plots or gardens, but it’s a huge amount of work. We’re also working on widening the path between the plots as it’s narrower that it should be so it’s tricky!

Clear of weeds!

I was sorting out the path between the iris bed and the rose garden. This bed has mostly iris type flowers in it that have really spread so I’m calling it the iris bed but the grass has also been spreading. So some weeding was in order. I build this and the rose bed in February 2019 at the time the soil was in rough shape, I’ve mulched with compost every spring and I’m really pleased at how much better it’s got. It’s full of worms, it both drains and retains moisture better. We are still fighting a battle against grass and bindweed but the plants we’ve put in it are doing well and in the rose garden I have two tiny lavender plants that have self seeded! I’m calling that success.

Much tidier

After this bed and the path, I started on the rose garden. I cut back the lavender, and the oregano stalks from those plants, pulled up the weeds and the bonarieses that was were it shouldn’t be. Cut back the bonarieses that was where it should be and also cut back all the dead knautia stalks and trimmed the roses.

It’s a bit tidier but the pond area is really weedy and I need to sort it next week. It also needs a compost mulch and I need to reduce the pond plants by half!

So more tidying and weeding in February, I would also (funds permitting like to sort out the raspberry fencing). March is for topping up all the beds with compost and sowing carrots, peas and beetroot, then I’m going to spend from March to June, fretting about sowing and planting out!

The first crocus is up and spring is on it’s way.

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Monday Miscellany: Another Week

Happy Monday!

After today January only has one more Monday and that Monday is the end of January! 2022 has not wowed us yet but it’s got time!


Last week was more of the work/home/sleep treadmill but slightly sore throat aside, now over the cold, I’m feeling much more on top of life in general and my team’s diaries in particular. On Fridays, I have catch up/organise next week meetings with a couple of people, one of them is a Spurs fan and was hoping I would have a bad Sunday, sadly for him, it was not to be. Chelsea won 2-0, we’ve had a rocky post Christmas string of results but we have beaten Spurs twice in that time. Other than work and football, I got to walk with Sue on Tuesday and with Christina and Edie on Thursday, both were delightful, Edie is such a good natured baby, she reminds me of the littlest nephew as a baby, just a lovely, charming small person!

We allotment-ed on Saturday and while in January, the plot never looks exactly brilliant, it’s on track for Spring. Ma’s knew went out on Sunday so I travelled home with her and back. Which was fine, I didn’t want her to have to carry anything when she was limping and I got an hour and a half of extra reading in. It did put me a little behind on my Sunday prep but it’s easily caught up with during the week. I’m in the office for one day next week, I’m not entirely convinced it’s wise but I’ll enjoy catching up with the people that I know are also in the office, which is a good thing.

Look up

Plans for this week are more of the same, a bit more exercise. Next Saturday we are going to the Elizabeth and Mary exhibit at the British Library. I’m currently reading my way through P.F Chisholm’s Robert Carey novels, which are set in the last 10 years of Elizabeth’s reign and after she’d had Mary executed. (I’m team Elizabeth, I generally refer to Mary as an airhead, she made terrible decisions and handled it all wrong. I’m also very fed up of the young Mary/aged Elizabeth narrative. Elizabeth was nine years older than her and when Mary went back to Scotland, Elizabeth had been on the throne for about 3 years. That she didn’t knock her head of for plotting (there were three she was involved with) sooner than 1687, is great restraint. Both Elizabeth’s grandfather, father and sister would have done it much sooner.

Ok, Tudor rant over, have a good week!

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Friday Links: No one told me

Happy Friday!

I’ve been missing for a bit and anyway the last couple of weeks have been an exercise in waiting for the PM’s lame excuse machine to crank up. This week it’s ‘no one told me it was against the rules’. You made the rules! Last week was ‘I’m sorry I got caught’. But he’s gonna ride it out and the Tories won’t get rid of him until at least May, if the local elections are bad. Who wants to lead a government presiding over the worse cost of living crisis in 20 years and a collapsing NHS? He’s also taken all mask mandates and wfh directives as a sop to the hardline nutcases in his party…

Anyway here are some links…

Boris Johnson’s non-apology underlines his utter contempt for the British public

It’s not just Johnson: the whole culture that cheered him on needs booting out

Who’s really leading Britain – Boris Johnson or the crazy-face emoji?

Spiralling energy prices will turn the UK’s cost-of-living crisis into a catastrophe

For the Conservatives, scrapping the BBC licence fee is more complicated than it sounds

The empty promise of instant delivery

We’ll never have a normal flu season again. This is in the US but this is what ‘living with COVID’ means.

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Monday Miscellany: Sick

Happy Monday!

I woke up the Tuesday before last, with a cold, I’d had an itchy throat for a couple of days, but was testing negative on the many LFT’s, I couldn’t get a PCR test because they didn’t have any but it just felt like a bad cold and that’s what it’s proved to to be, but I’ve spent most of the first two weeks of the New Year indoors, working, dealing with nose bleeds and sleeping.

If my new year has not got off to the best of starts with the cold, the flat seems to be having a moment too. The toilet flush is broken (basically it won’t stop flushing unless you lift the cistern lid up!) and the centre bracket of the curtain rod in the living room has decided to come away from the wall. They are being fixed but it’s a pain.

On paper it’s not been a brilliant start to 2022 for me, on the other hand other people are having a worse start to the year (Boris Johnson, the England Cricket Team, Rafael Benítez, anyone working at 10 Downing Street!). All that to say, it’s not been the best start to the year but I’ve seen worse and I’m committed to survival.

So, in good things in 2022, despite a cold and the flat being a tiny bit broken, things are good for January.

I also got a thank you postcard from Ms T, aka god-daughter number six, her mother and I met when we did history A level on Reformation Europe and we’ve been to Hampton Court twice this year. Jo has form for sending me Tudor postcards, I’m really happy to see Ms T picking up the baton with my favourite of Henry VIII’s wives, Anne of Cleves. (Look she didn’t have to stay married to him, kept her head, got a palace, and got out from the control of her brothers, who married her off in the first place. That’s the definition of living your best life Tudor style!)

I have a walk planned on two days this week, I’ve done all the food prep and I’d like to get back to yoga every day again. Mostly, it’s work and reading and sleep because who is really all that energetic in January?

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Recommended: Ethique Heali Kiwi

As part of my ongoing less rubbish, less plastic mission, I decided to try switching to solid shampoo.

I tried a sample of Ethique’s Heali Kiwi and it’s been life changing. It’s expensive but I’ve bought a full sized bar, I’ve been using it for a couple of months now and my hair is really shiny and clean after washing and while it hasn’t completely gotten rid of my dandruff, my head doesn’t itch, even when I haven’t washed my hair for over a week.

It’s lasted ages, even if you weren’t trying to reduce your plastic consumption, I’d recommend it!

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Changing up the hall bookcase.

Way back when I moved into the flat, I bought a bookcase to put in the hall to store my cook books. As you can see I ran out of space pretty quickly, as this photo ripped from my timehop proves.

So we went to Ikea on New Year’s Day, which sounds like the very definition of hell, but was actually really quiet. We were in and out within about an hour and I only bought what I went in for (shelves, food bags, tea towels).

We put it together, culled some cook books and there is now room for everything, including the cocktail books that used to live in the living room, and the phone and internet stuff. It’s a relatively small thing but it feels more tidy.

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Recommended: Little Silver Cloud

I have three pairs of earrings from Little Silver Clouds Co and they are all lovely and easy to wear.

I should declare at this point, that I found them via a Facebook friend. Rebecca who makes the jewellery, is the sister of the sister in law of an ex (which is overly complicated!), but I’ve never met her and and I bought the earrings on Etsy at full price, without mentioning this connection to her.

Everyone says that you should support independent makers or shop local and sometimes that’s difficult, because you don’t know who really is making the things you buy or if the things you buy in the local shop aren’t actually from China.

Rebecca uses seaglass from Seaham in Co.Durham and makes the jewellery herself (and her stuff is pretty without being fussy, which is right in my comfort zone. I’ve bought them for friends and I’ve bought them for me and they are always great, the one issue I had, she sorted out straight away and the things I’ve bought have always arrived beautifully packaged and in good time.

So if you’re in the market for one of a kind jewellery, I’d recommend Rebecca’s.

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Friday Links: Selfish…

Happy Friday!

So yesterday, childless people with pets were put on the Pope’s shit list but only if they are married. I guess he’s the Pope and not known for understanding the strain of everyday live but really….

Liz Truss wants to lunch, and only a Tory donor’s place will do. The corruption, it burns…

Here’s what a Tory donor and a lavish Liz Truss lunch in Mayfair tells us about British politics

Hiding behind the loophole of a dead sex trafficker? Stay classy, Andrew

A hard lesson for Novak Djokovic: patience with vaccine sceptics is wearing thin

The cost-of-living crisis is going to upend British politics in 2022

How Britain Falls Apart. Not sure I agree with all of this but it’s worth a read.

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Low Spend January

On Tuesday, I talked about what I want to do/achieve this month. One of those things was low spend January.

My intention is not to buy anything (aside from food) for the month of January. I live in a small flat and while I’m not the worst person in the world for this, I feel I have too many things and at the same time need to replace and repair some furniture (my living room chairs need re-upholstering and I still don’t have a wardrobe). So not bringing anything into the house while I think about what I actually need and focussing a bit to prevent some mindless spending is helpful.

There is also a money saving element to this, food and energy costs are rising, in April I’ll pay more National Insurance and I expect that other utilities and council tax costs will rise too. So I need restructure my spending to account for this and so it’s probably a good time to focus a bit on that.

I’m also choosing to use this month as a chance to make some space in the freezer and ‘pantry’ and reset my food spending a little. I used to spend £15 a week on food, I have an allotment and I use Oddbox and that doesn’t change this month. But I’ve decided that for January aside from my two Oddbox deliveries, I will spend no more than £5 a week. So £64 for the month or just under £12 a week. I try and have a week a month without food shopping (and I will pick that up again after January), it’s always helpful as it helps me think more creatively about food and cooking and I’m hoping that a low spend month will help me do the same and re-assess my diet a little and maybe stop me falling back on the same old meals.

I do need to point out that I’m lucky not to have to reduce my food spending out of necessity and to know that this won’t lead me to have a month lacking in food or nutrition. I will be blogging about what I cook and eat this month a little bit more than usual to hold myself accountable. Watch this space.

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