Friday Links: As unplanned as it looks…

Happy Friday!

Bill and Melinda Gates and the problem of the “good billionaire”

The Snowflake in Chief

Why I fought for the right to open up family courts to greater scrutiny. I’m mostly going to come down on the side of Social Services, it’s a horrible job done in extremely difficult conditions. Having said that, this case is scary and should be reported, the problem is that the other cases still won’t be, we won’t hear about the neglect and abuse that other children taken into care suffer from their parents. We are all the heroes of our own stories and every parent with a kid in care will tell you that it’s because Social Services are stealing their children. They won’t tell you about the unchanged nappies or the rotting teeth or kid wandering the street at midnight because mummy was busy or any of the other things that happened to provoke a care order. So you’ll see these stories and think that social workers are  all about snatching children from their parents and into the hands of nice middle class adopters, instead of understanding that they are human beings in a highly stressed job who make mistakes.

A child in a bedsit has more ‘character’ than a braying public schoolboy, Mr Hinds. Or to quote my nephew “it’s the moneys”

Javid’s decision on Shamima Begum demeans his office. I wrote last week about how conflicted I felt about this. I’m still not advocating for British personnel to be sent in to pick her up and bring her home, actions do have consequences but idealistically, I want the leaders of my country to do better than me. Leaving Shamima Begum stateless might play well to the mob but I’m really uncomfortable about what that means for all of us. So I’m going to leave the quote from A Man for All Seasons here. Because it’s worth thinking about…

Roper: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!

More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you — where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.

Covington Catholic student’s family hits the Washington Post with $250 million lawsuit. Like hell it’s not political.

Angela Smith has left Labour. Who do I complain to about her ‘funny tinge’ comment? Are there elements of Labour that are anti-semitic? Yes.  Has the Labour Party dealt with it well? No.  But Baroness Warsi talked about islamophobia in the Conservative Party and it was a story. Angela Smith gets a pass on this one and Nadine Dorries on another fine. It seems we only care about some racism..

You get the heroes you deserve. And Brexit Britain has Gavin Williamson

The new household rules: ditch your toilet brush and wash much, much more.

The Surprising Reason Zebras Have Stripes

About a Dozen Lawmakers Just Made Brexit More Complicated

“I suppose everyone is looking at this thinking, It can’t be as unplanned as it looks,” Anand Menon, the director of the London-based U.K. in a Changing Europe research institute, told me. “But the thing is, maybe it is.”

The Gun Violence That’s a Bigger Threat to Kids Than School Shootings

Who’s the Cutest Little Tyrannosaur? Is It You?

Death-Cap Mushrooms Are Spreading Across North America. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know that you don’t eat mushrooms that don’t come from the supermarket.


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Allotment Adventures: Destroyer of Raspberries

It’s nearly the end of February and I still haven’t sown one seed! We did have an incredibly productive Saturday of work though. First we bought 500 litres of compost and wheel barrowed them to the plot. We filled up and covered several beds. Actually I say we, I did the two squash boxes at the end of the plot we both did the larger bed that will be the three sisters bed, and then Ma did the other four while I dug up the raspberries.We re-sited some of them to one of the long beds at the bottom of the plot and the rest we left for anyone that wanted them. I think quite a few of them will go to the newly made communal fruit plot which will be used for the preserves stall for the open days!  We’ve decided that the 4 long beds are eventually, going to be fruit beds, with the other two being boysenberry (another plot holder has some going spare) and something else maybe a blackberry or some more gooseberries…we’ll see.We’ve had a look at the space and we think we’ll get two of the bigger (2m by 1m) beds in and another meter square bed, which makes up for the beds we lose to perennial fruit. Over the last couple of years, we really worked that area with weeding and mulch and the ground is in great shape. I’m sure that the raspberries will try and come back but like everything else it’s a case of keeping on pulling them up!Next up on the work list, leveling the ground I just dug up, putting in and filling up beds, weeding and trimming the edges of the plot, painting the shed and putting up guttering and a water butt, tidying the shed before Ma loses her mind at the state of it, sowing some seeds and doing something useful with the pallets.

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Monday Miscellany: No hearts but some flowers

Happy Monday!

Last Thursday, I was off for the afternoon and I walked home via the plot, the crocuses are coming up….

The rest of the week was better, mostly because it’s getting lighter and that’s having an affect on my mood, spring is getting closer and I can feel my sprits rising.

The weather was lovely for some of this week too. There were end of the week aperol spritzes too.Miracles in the form of Ma cooking her ‘signature dish’, roly poly (it’s a sausage thing and that’s it’s name, I don’t know why!)And a really busy Saturday of work, with unexpected Christmas presents, this view and other good things. This week is work, a movie, a walk with Sarah and Fred and dinner at Mike and Christelle’s, which means I’ve written Sunday off for reading and sleep, the weather this week is not looking as delightful but we’ll soldier on!


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Recommendations: Body Shop Ginger Shampoo

I have a really terrible dandruff/itchy scalp problem. It’s been an ongoing problem since my teens, I’ve tried T-Gel, Nizoral, Head, a fancy L’Oreal Professionnel three step system, Baby Shampoo, Kérastase, Lush’s Snake Oil bar, essential oils. I’ve run the gamut. I’m really careful to thoroughly dry my hair when I wash it because putting my hair up wet, seems to make my scalp worse in terms of itch. I stopped using mousse because that made my head itch. As you can see, I was less worried about the dandruff and more worried about the itch.

The only thing that worked was the L’Oreal Expert Anti Dandruff Shampoo for Men, it’s orange and it worked for years, it was my unicorn of a shampoo (worked well, didn’t require a mortgage to buy). A couple of years ago, L’Oreal rebranded it as being for men and it gradually became harder to get. So I tried the one that seemed to have replaced it and it didn’t work, I added essential oil to it, it didn’t work. My hairdresser started to comment on the dryness of my hair and asked if I’d changed conditioner (I hadn’t). I gave it over a year, I started washing my hair more often, I itched a lot. There were red and flakey patches of skin where my hairline met my face. It was not pleasant and a solution needed to be found.

Someone suggested the Body Shop’s Ginger Shampoo and because they sell in in sample bottles, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try it. Over December I did and angels started singing because within three weeks, my scalp was better, not itchy, minimal dandruff. Which is a result.

I think that the products you use on your body and what you spend on those products are personal decisions, I try to use the cheapest thing that works and this shampoo is the cheapest thing that works on my head. It’s about double the cost of the L’Oreal that I used to use, the large bottle is £10, but as I only wash my hair once a week, it’ll probably last me most of the year and for me, it’s worth it not to have an itchy head.

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Friday Links: National Emergency

Happy Friday! So the Brexit nonsense is continuing on and Trump has called a national emergency and the entire world is going to hell in a frigging handcart. On the plus side France and Italy aren’t at war…

I want to be optimistic about the world but it seems to me that the first world just squandered the peace after the Second World War.

Anyway onto links…

I’m not even going to link to news of Trump’s ‘national emergency’ but this is the best take I can find on last night’s vote

Shamima Begum is just a teenager. Britain should be strong enough to take her back. This is when it’s hard to be a Christian. I believe, truly believe, that there is no one that God won’t love and forgive. I believe that our values are more important when they are hard to live up to. So I think that if she comes back, we should make sure that her child is safe and well. I also think that she’ll need to be watched and that child shouldn’t be raised by her. The crux of the issue for me, is that to be forgiven, you have to ask forgiveness. She’s 19, she scared for her child but she’s not sorry at all. There are all sorts of reasons for that and I’m not unsympathetic to them but all you can go on ultimately is actions and words and none of hers are very good. So right now my belief in redemption is wrestling with my instinct that she should be left to rot. I don’t like it in me, but I have sympathy for both sides of this argument.

The Churchill row is part of the glib approach to history that gave us Brexit. I don’t understand why he didn’t just say both. No one is all villain or all hero, (except maybe Napoleon and really not even him). But yes, if you are going to study history you have to see both sides if you don’t you get the stupid “two world wars and one world cup” nonsense.

Pret a Manger charity to invest in homeless hostel in London. It’s great that Pret are putting their money where their mouths are but it seems to me that chronic homelessness caused by the cost of rent, is something that Government should be doing. People who end up homeless because of alcohol or drug problems are harder issues to solve but that homelessness is rising for people who are holding down jobs is appalling.

Scottish modernist ruin awaits a saviour – a photo essay. I’ve heard about St Peter’s before, it seems to me that if a building has ongoing issues with maintenance problems when it’s not even 20 years old then the architecture can’t be that great. Surely it’s a failure of architectural design if it looks pretty but isn’t durable? And yes it does look like a carpark…

Emma Glass: ‘Game of Thrones is overrated. Give me The Lord of the Rings any day’. She’s wrong. I’ve read both and there is no doubt that George R.R Martin is right about now in need of an editor and a storyboard but LotR’s also needed an editor and to lose a bunch of pretention. I think both authors lost the fine line between credible world building and getting lost in that world. JK Rowling is getting there with Harry Potter, with the way she’s retroactively introducing things to that world too. Also Dickens, he can be difficult (all the women in Dickens are either wet or horrible) and wordy and for sure there is too much coincidence (A Tale of Two Cities is particularly bad for this) but I’ve read Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, A Christmas Carol and Our Mutual Friend, which is my favourite. I always think I’ve read Dombey and Son, Pickwick Papers, Little Dorrit and David Copperfield but actually I’ve just seen the TV or heard the radio adaptions. Or worse read books where the characters are reading them!  I do have Bleak House which I really need to get around to reading. Little Dorrit maybe something I tackle in retirement.

Brett Kavanaugh Just Declared War on Roe v. Wade. If I were in the US, I’d be really worried about this. We don’t tend to think of the ability to have a termination as a right, but it is. This series of Call the Midwife is set in 1964/65 and has had two stories so far about backstreet abortions. In this country we don’t have abortion on demand but women have been able to have them since 1969. We have a tendency as humans, to think that the conventions we grew up with will always be there. I know people who had illegal abortions prior to 1969 and the only thing that banning abortions does is make them unsafe, it doesn’t stop them.

Speaking of which. I Run a Support Group for Women Who Had Late-Term Abortions. The Past Few Weeks Have Been Hell. This was not me, but it hits really close to home for my family. It’s the very definition of hell and limiting late termination is a stick to beat women with, I know lots of women who’ve terminated pregnancies, but only three who did it late, and there was nothing good about the experience for any of them and it was deeply upsetting. None of them would have done it if they believed there was a better way, not one…

I’ve talked with teenage boys about sexual assault for 20 years and this is what they still don’t know. I’ve been asking for years why the response to sexual assault is to tell girls to be careful, not to teach boys about consent.

If You’re Often Angry Or Irritable, You May Be Depressed. I powered through my teen years on a wave of anger, this absolutely rings true for me. I have been depressed and angry about being so. But I think the key for me is dysregulation of emotion generally. When I’m depressed, I’m less able to regulate my feelings, I’m all over the place. I learnt to handle that by being more regulated generally, so I had more space to deal with my feelings.

What a rutabaga does better than any other vegetable. It’s a swede and I thought it was grow in winter….

Trump offers socialism for the rich, capitalism for everyone else

British ‘lethality’? Gavin Williamson’s brain has gone absent without leave

The Afghan Government Is Missing From Afghanistan’s Peace Process

The Religious-Liberty Claim the Justices Didn’t Want to Hear. This is bizarre, Alabama is all about Christianity but also about executions. Christian Capital Punishment is an oxymoron.

Workplace Theft Is on the Rise. The trick is just to order the cheap stuff no one wants to steal! Which is what’s happened with pens and notepads at my place.

The Sad Story of a Rare Cat and Its Loyal Parasite


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Allotment Adventures: Dreaming for Next Year

I didn’t get to the plot last weekend, Ma and I went to the allotment the weekend before last. We dug up leeks for lunch (leek, anchovy and goats cheese tart), we refilled the bird feeders and we chatted to people.It’s was a lovely sunny day but we need warmer weather before we can work because I can’t dig up the raspberries if the ground is frozen! So the list is still the list, I now have almost all my seeds for next year (although next month I’m going to buy two more blueberry plants…my soft fruit empire grows!) but still haven’t sown anything and the plot looks pretty much the same as it did last week.The continuing Brexit mess has concentrated my mind on winter growing, I’m not in any way self-sufficient we’d need a much bigger plot and I’d have to give up my sweet pepper addiction which I might have to do anyway post Brexit. However, I think that food will be more expensive after Brexit because 99% of fruit and veg pickers are from the EU and if we have a repeat of last year’s weather then farmers are going to have lower yields (in 2018, potato yields were down 20-25%, the fourth lowest harvest in 60 years, onions down 40% and carrots 25%). That’s a lot of figures but for me, it makes sense to try and increase what we grow so we can eat more of it and use the food budget in other places and as Ma and I put £20 a month in the allotment account every month (and spent most of it on compost!), it makes sense to really stretch that money as much as we can.In the summer we are pretty self-sufficient for vegetables, less so for fruit but I can’t plant trees so we do what we can with soft fruit, which this year means summer and autumn raspberries, two gooseberry bushes (which will hopefully produce more fruit this year!) and four blueberry bushes (two of them very little so probably we won’t get much). Hopefully we’ll get more plums this year and lots of rhubarb.In winter we grow much less.  This year we have leeks, chard and kale, we also had a fair bit of winter squash (we have two squash left, one tiny butternut and the massive boston squash.) The black radishes, mustard and pak choi didn’t really get going. Next year we are growing more squash (large butternuts, Georgia candy roaster, uchiki kuri and burgess buttercup) and I want bigger beds for the chard and kale but I also want a later sowing of carrots and beetroot to stretch into the autumn (I’ve been envious of the allotmenters who were digging up carrots and beetroot in Jan) and to grow fennel, celery, more winter salads and turnips and swede. I’d love to grow cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts and parsnips but they take up a lot of space for a lot of the year and on half a plot I’d have to really cut back on growing summer and winter squash and tomatoes and all of the other good things about summer. Maybe if I get another half plot, I’ll have a go at them but at the moment that’s not happening.So it’s a very modest stab at more winter veg. We have rust on the allotment site, on the leeks it’s not been terrible this year but I am very worried about the two beds of garlic I have, so I want to see how this year goes for that. Even Charles Dowding reckons that he gets better garlic growing undercover and that is something I definitely need another half plot for! You’ll also notice that I’m not growing onions because of space issues but I have bought some walking onions and I want to get some perennial welsh onions which won’t by any means replace my current onion dependence but will give me something else for the winter.In the summer, we eat a lot of our tomatoes fresh but I will make a stab at canning more of them and we are growing gerkins, just to pickle them, I’ll also have a stab at doing that to our cucamelons this year. Hopefully the roots will have survived winter in the shed and when I take them out they’ll be raring to go!For flowers, we have the carnations and verbena bonariesis as perennials and I have no doubt that the california poppies, nasturtiums, borage and aramanth will sow themselves (the poppies and borage are still green and on the plot)  I will sow some marigolds and some calendula around the place in the hope that they take. Apparently calendula are like poppies for self-seeding so that’ll be fun. Last year’s stock plants are still standing, they didn’t really get going in summer and we didn’t pull them up. Assuming they survive the next couple of months, I’ll leave them in and see what happens.

With herbs, the rosemary is going to need cutting in spring, but it and the sage, oregano and thyme are all fine. The tarragon and lemon verbena finally succumbed to the weather last week, but I’m confident they’ll come back in the spring. The mint is coming back too and the self-seeded lemon balm is sitting in the ex-tomato bed. I’ll take it out and put it in a pot in spring and hope it lives. Most of the lavender seems to have come through the winter. I’m hopeful that some of the summer savoury and rocket will self-seed from last year.  I managed last year to harvest seed from dill, coriander and chives. The coriander has sown itself already but more won’t hurt and the chives are surviving in the herb patch but I think that more near the carrots is no bad thing. I’ll sow more parsley and basil too.

There is going to be a lot going on this year, lets see if I can keep up!

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Monday Misc: Good Sport

Not gonna lie, I’m finding everything difficult right now. PMT, SAD and some sort of stomachache with a side of throwing up this weekend (Ma had some kind of bug last week so I’m blaming her!) is quite honestly kicking me up the bum. I would just like to stay indoors until the clocks go forward..

This week there were consolations, UNO with Nephew 1 who didn’t win one game but was a consistent runner up. He was a really good sport about it though, which I’m glad to see! Nephew 2 was his usual sunny self, and arranged himself into a Hungry Hippos box, variously announcing that he was a hippo, a robot or Tree-fu Tom. Nursery has been so good for him!

There was also a catch up with JessI don’t miss much about working at the last place but I miss her and Laura.

This week is all about rest and recovery, I have nothing but work both paid and housework. The weekend is another epic compost buying spree and a trip to the dump!

If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room!

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