Monthly Archives: October 2015

Four Things I like and Four Things I don’t Like About Autumn

Things I Like

  1. Pumpkin Pie. I learned to make pumpkin pie when I was teaching in an International school in Italy, and an American parent gave me the recipe. It is absolutely the best thing to do with a pumpkin. It’s a bit like a custard tart with added pumpkin puree. Start with 1lb of pumpkin puree. You can either boil the pumpkin flesh and then squeeze out as much water as you can, or you can roast it which gives a more intense flavour. Once you’ve pureed it with a hand blender, add a can of condensed milk, 2 eggs and some lovely autumnal spices such as cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg (freshly grated is best). Then mix it all up, pour it into a pastry base, and bake until a skewer comes out clean. This is a great way of getting vegetables into my vegetable-phobic son. Other things you can add to vary the flavour include maple syrup or brown sugar, although the condensed milk is so sickly that you won’t need any more sweetness. You could use cream instead of condensed milk if it’s all a bit too sweet for you.
  2. Autumn Leaves. I am lucky enough to live in Gloucestershire so I am within east reach of lots of places – such as the Forest of Dean – where autumn colours can be seen at their most glorious.
  3. Pears from my tree. I love fruit, and there is nothing better than home grown fruit. This is the kind of gardening I like because the tree does all the work without the need of any input from me. It’s so much more satisfying to go out and gather pears from the garden rather than buy them in a shop.
  4. Fireworks. I used to hate fireworks as a child but now I love them. I love watching the pretty colours sparkle across the night sky.

Things I Don’t Like

  1. Dark Afternoons. After the clocks change, I have to drive home from work in the dark. The daylight is all gone before I’ve even finished work. My older son has a half hour walk to get home from school, and soon he will be doing that in the dark. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), every year there is an increase in the number of pedestrians involved in road traffic accidents after the clocks go back.
  2. The weather is cold and damp, and my washing doesn’t get dry when I hang it outside, so I have to have it hanging all over my small house.
  3. Wet Leaves. All those beautiful leaves fall off the trees and get all slimy and wet on the pavement where they mix with dog excrement.
  4. Summer feels like a long way away. I love summer. I love the light evenings and the warm sunshine, and being able to go out without a coat. In the Autumn it feels like I will have to wait a lifetime for summer to return.

Ten Crazy Things That My Cat Does

I have a tabby cat called Custard. She has a lovely personality. She is very loving and affectionate, but also a bit bonkers. Here is a list of some of her crazy habits.

  1. She likes to tease next door’s dog. She pokes a paw under the garden fence which drives the dog crazy. Then she quickly steps away from the fence and appears to be sniggering to herself mischievously.

2. She carries socks around the house, puts them in front of us and sits there expectantly as if waiting for thanks for the lovely gift. .

sock3. She loves to sit on my lap every time I sit down, especially when I sit on the toilet.

4. She likes to sit on the desk right in front of the computer screen. I think she might be doing this because that way I will look at her and pay her some attention. Recently I got a new computer with a touch screen which is infuriating as she manages to scroll the pages with her tail, and click on links – usually links to recipes.

5. Her favourite toy is the piece of blue plastic that you tear off when you open a bottle of milk. She carries it around in her mouth and fights with it viciously.

blue milk6. If she is in the garden and she sees me through the window, she will come running over and demand that I open the window and let her in, even though she could perfectly well use the cat flap. When I let her in, she sits in the open window. .window7. Other high up places she likes to sit include the top of the fridge and the top of doors. We have a calendar pinned on the kitchen door and she has been known to lean over from the top of the door and pull out the drawing pin with her teethdoor8. When I do workouts she always comes and sits on my mat. When I do a plank she sits underneath me, and when I do crunches she jumps on my hair.

9. She likes to watch over the boys when they sleep. Sometimes she sits on my son’s pillow with a protective paw on his face. When he had a sleepover she sat in the doorway of the bedroom and watched over everyone.

10. She likes to impersonate a banana.

fruit bowl

Nine Signs that David Cameron Might be a Psychopath

Psychologist Robert D. Hare developed the Hare psychopathy check-list to test whether or not an individual is a psychopath. Our Prime Minister, David Cameron, seems to display a worryingly large number of the signs of psychopathy.

  1.  Glibness and superficial charm. Oh yes, Cameron is a master of superficial charm.

2. Incongruity and contradiction. Cameron is full of contradiction, like the time when he announced that the Conservative party is the party for working people, and then in the next breath announced plans to cut tax credits and limit the right to strike. Or when he promises to improve social mobility while all his policies are designed to prevent it.

3. Grandiose sense of self worth. Yes, I’m pretty sure he ticks that box.

 

4. Cunning and manipulative. He has managed to manipulate the British public into blaming the most vulnerable for all the problems of our society when in reality he has caused them.

5. Pathological lying. Take your pick. “We are paying down Britain’s debts.”

6. Lack of empathy, remorse or guilt. Tax credits, food banks, refugees, bedroom tax. I could go on.

7. Failure to accept responsibility for own actions. It’s all the fault of the unemployed, claiming money from the taxpayers. Of course Cameron himself has never claimed any money at all from the British taxpayer.

8. Unconvincing emotional responses. His recent outrage at the lack of equal opportunities for women and ethnic minorities certainly had a hollow unconvincing ring to it.

9. Sexual deviance. Need I say more? Piggate.

 

Three Road Signs That Confuse Me

I am relatively new to driving. After passing my driving test at eighteen I didn’t actually drive again for about twenty-five years. A combination of not really enjoying driving, never having very much money, and mostly living in cities with good public transport meant that I didn’t buy my first car, a Peugeot 106, until two and a half years ago.  (I have since upgraded to a FIAT Panda.) So there are still aspects of driving that confuse me, including certain road markings and signs.

  1. SLOW Road Markings.

slow

I am very good at following traffic rules, but they need to be clear. This is not clear. What does it mean? Does it mean I need to drive slowly? And if so, then please be a bit more specific. Give me a number. Does it mean I need to slow down? But how does it know how fast I’m going? I might already be driving slowly. There is one example of this on my way to work. The road goes from a 30 limit to a 50 limit, and then I see this on the road. Well, why did you tell me to speed up if you were just about to tell me to slow down again? Why not just leave the 30 mile limit in place for a bit longer?

2. Slippery Road Sign

slippery road

I remember being puzzled by this as a child. I would stare at it, trying to work it out. How on earth did the car make that skid with its wheels? Surely the only way that is possible is if the wheels of the car actually changed places. that must be impossible no matter how slippery the road.

3. This arrow on the road.

arrow

This is the most puzzling of all. What is the meaning of this and why is it needed? It appears to be saying to the driver, “Get back over to the left! What on earth are you doing on the wrong side of the road?” I find it a little worrying that the people who make decisions about road markings consider  this little reminder necessary.

Ten Reasons Why Jeremy Corbyn Should be Prime Minister

 

I used to be a member of the Labour Party back in the early nineties, and I campaigned with Nick Raynsford in the 1992 general election in Greenwich where I was living at the time.  When Labour lost that election I went to live in Italy, declaring that I would not return to Britain until there was a Labour government, which is what I did. However, this New Labour Party that I found on my return to the UK was unrecognisable, and although I continued to vote labour, I didn’t really identify with them as I had in the past. That all changed with the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party, and I am now proud to be a member of the party once more. So why am I so excited about Jeremy Corbyn?

  1. He wants to tackle the deficit by investing in Britain and growing the economy, rather than stifling growth through cuts and austerity.
  2. He believes in renationalisation of the railways and the energy companies. These should not be run to make profits for individuals, but should be run by the government for the people.
  3. He would scrap university tuition fees so that young people can once more get an education without saddling themselves with tens of thousands of pounds of debt. Education should not be an investment that an individual makes for their own personal gain but an investment that the government makes in its people so that they can be an asset to society.
  4. He would bring academies and free schools back under the control of local authorities rather than private companies with their own agendas.
  5. He would introduce rent controls. This would mean that people have more money in their pockets to spend in the economy. It would also mean that landlords would not be so quick to buy up all the properties, pushing up house prices out of the reach of ordinary families. Rent control would reduce the amount that tax payers have to pay to private landlords in housing benefit.
  6. He would build more much-needed council houses.
  7. He rides a bicycle.
  8. He supports a national maximum wage. This would help to close the widening gap between the richest and the poorest.
  9. He wants an end to private involvement in the NHS.
  10. He has integrity. I am tired of the lies and the nastiness of our current government.

Some say he is unelectable. But people originally said he’d never get enough nominations to run for leader. Then they said he’d never win the leadership election. He will prove them wrong again.

Ten Things

Ten Things about Me

blog pic

I recently went to see Caitlin Moran at the Cheltenham Festival of Literature (she was fab!) and she said when she first started her career as a writer with Melody Maker, she basically just used to write lists, and she said this is a really easy  way of writing. Now I always like to find an easy way of doing things, and I’d been thinking of starting a blog for a while, so this gave me an idea. Why not blog about lists? This is how Ten Things was born.

So here it is – my first blog post. Ten things about me.

  1. I am a maths teacher – I teach GCSE maths in a Further Education college to students who failed it when they were at school. I love maths and try to inspire the same passion in my students, generally with little success.
  2. I love cats and I have a tabby cat called Custard.
  3. I joined the Labour party on the day that Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the party
  4. I am a mother to two sons.
  5. I am married to an Albanian man.
  6. I live in Gloucestershire.
  7. I speak fluent Italian because I spent 10 years teaching English in Italy.
  8. I am a vegetarian.
  9. I used to weigh about three stone more than I do now. I lost the weight a few years ago, first with the low GI diet and then with the 5:2 diet which I still follow in order to maintain the weight loss and also because of the many health benefits. I also do exercise videos at home to tone up and keep the weight off.
  10. I only have one kidney. The other one was removed ten years ago along with a large benign growth called an angiomyolipoma which weighed about 2kg .

This list will give you some idea of the things I will be blogging about – family, food, exercise, politics, maths, cats and anything else that inspires me to write.