Monthly Archives: February 2016

Four Reasons why Britain Should Stay in the EU

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This is a hugely significant time in British history. The EU referendum is an extremely important decision, but many voters still seem unclear about the ins and out of staying in or going out. Here are just a few reasons why, although the EU is certainly far from perfect, I’m in the “in” crowd.

  1. The European Convention on Human Rights This convention protects some of the most fundamental rights and freedoms of all of us such as the right to a free trial, and freedom of expression. leaving this protection behind could be a very dangerous move.
  2. EU Employment Law. This legislation covers such fundamental issues as anti-discrimination, equal treatment of men and women in the workplace, maternity rights, pension rights and parental leave. It regulate the contracts that employers have to draw up with their employees containing information about the length of the working day or week, amount of paid leave etc. Without this protection I fear that we could go back to an era where employers could exploit their workers in ways that seem unthinkable now.
  3. Freedom of travel. When I was in my twenties I decided that I wanted to travel, so I went to Italy and got a job teaching English in a language school. I was able to do this because of the EU. I made friends with an Australian girl while I was there and she was only able to work for language schools that were prepared to pay her cash in hand. I was able to work with a proper contract and I paid taxes to the Italian government. I want the same opportunities for my children and for everyone in Britain.
  4. Immigration. Research shows that people coming to the UK from other EU countries make a positive contribution to the UK economy. They pay more in taxes than they take in benefits. You can read about the research here. According to an article in The Economist, “Immigrants’ overall positive contribution is explained in part by the fact that they are less likely than natives to claim benefits or to live in social housing”. This is contrary to what certain political parties would have us believe. If we were to leave the EU, these immigrants would still come but they would find illegal ways of earning a living thus making themselves vulnerable to exploitation, working for less than the minimum wage and so threatening the livelihoods of UK workers, and paying no tax to our economy. There is much talk of “controlling our own borders” in the media at the moment, but how would we control our own borders without the support of the EU? Would we build a fence around our 18,000 km of coastline and police it 24 hours a day? It would be impossible. Immigrants would come; let’s just make sure their pay their share by staying in the EU.

These are just a few of the reasons I will be voting to stay in the EU. What do you think? Post your views in the comments.

Eight Not-So-Wonky Types of Vegetable

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Today I bought my first wonky veg box from Asda. In an effort to reduce food waste, Asda are rolling out the wonky veg box, containing vegetables that would normally be rejected by supermarkets for their imperfections, in many of their stores. At just £3.50 it is a bargain, especially when compared to what you can pay for a veg box of a similar size elsewhere.

This is what my veg box contained, and most of it is not wonky at all.

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I was disappointed that there was only one parsnip, but it doesn’t seem wonky in the least.

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One cabbage, also not in the least bit wonky.

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One of my two cucumbers had a little discolouration on one side.

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My box contained several carrots and I could only find one that could be described as wonky.

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A couple of the peppers had a slightly uneven shape.

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The leeks were a little on the small side but otherwise perfect.

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The same could be said for the onions – small but perfectly formed.

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A couple of the potatoes had some green patches, which I assume can be easily cut off. Most were perfect.

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I highly recommend this wonky veg box. It is great value for money and by buying it you are doing your bit against food waste, and helping the farmers to sell the vegetables that supermarkets have turned up their noses at until now.

Seven Things that Go with Peanut Butter in Pancakes

P1090347.JPGThe wonderful thing about peanut butter is that it can be sweet or savoury, just like pancakes! So why not put the two together on pancake day? Whether you prefer it crunchy or smooth, it adds flavour and texture to your pancakes. Here are some ideas.

  1. mushrooms, peanut butter and cream cheese

Mushrooms are delicious in pancakes, and the peanut butter adds a little saltiness.

2. cheese, peanut butter  and marmite

Love it or hate it, marmite adds a special savoury taste to any dish – even pancakes.

3. peanut butter and mars bar

Cut the mars bar into small pieces and roll it up in a hot pancake straight from the pan, with a dollop of peanut butter. The heat from the pancake will melt the mars bar making a gooey chocolaty caramel filling. The peanut butter adds that extra nuttiness.

4. peanut butter, chocolate and banana

These three things are perfect together, rolled up in a pancake.

5. peanut butter, maple syrup and ice  cream

It’s not pancake day without maple syrup, and it’s even more delicious with peanut butter.

6. Peanut butter, cinnamon and mascarpone.

Mascarpone tastes amazing in pancakes – so creamy and luxurious. The cinnamon and peanut butter add flavour to the creamy texture.

7. Peanut butter with Baileys

Pancakes are great with alcohol and the peanut butter adds a bit of texture.

Have a great pancake day and let me know if you try any of these ideas.

 

 

Three Reasons to Visit Newport in South Wales

Quite a while ago I won a £100 voucher to spend at The Co-operative Travel, so we decided to go for a family weekend away. We wanted to go to a hotel that wasn’t too far, with a  swimming pool, and some interesting things to do nearby. The Co-operative Travel only deals with a limited number of hotels so we looked on the website and we chose the Hilton Hotel in Newport because it ticked all the boxes and kids go free. My voucher almost paid for 2 nights bed & breakfast; we just had to top it up with a few pounds of our own money. Here is what we did (as well as a lot of swimming and sitting in the Jacuzzi.)

  1. National Trust Tredegar House.

I’m always keen to make the most of our National Trust membership so we took a trip to Tredegar House. Unfortunately the house itself is not open in winter but we had a walk around the extensive parklands. You can find out more about Tredegar House here.

2. Caerleon

Caerleon is a Roman village very close to Newport. There are lots of places of historical interest such as the Roman museum which is free to enter (hooray for the Welsh government!) and has lots of things to see and do. The kids can try on replica helmets and clothes. There’s also an amphitheatre which was built around AD90.

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The museum garden

 

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The Roman Amphitheatre

3. Big Pit

Big Pit is not to be missed. It’s an old coal mine which has been turned into a museum. You have to put on a helmet (so you don’t bump your head) with a torch on it (so you can see where you’re going) and you are taken down into the mine by an ex miner. Our guide was called Gavin and he was a mine of information. (See what I did there?) I’m not usually one for guided tours but his commentary was so fascinating that I was enthralled for the fifty minutes of our tour. he told us of the times when seven-year-old children used to sit in the mines for ten hours at a time in complete darkness to open and close the doors for the miners. Times when miners weren’t paid in money but in tokens which they could only spend in the shop belonging to the pit owner, who could then raise his prices as much as he wanted because the miners had no choice but to shop there. Big Pit is also free to get in. (Hooray for the Welsh government again!)

It made me stop and think how lucky we are to live in a time when we are protected by EU employment laws, and fearful of what might happen should the British public choose to leave the protection of these laws. I’m pretty sure the current government would be only too happy to go back to a time when it was possible to exploit workers in ways that seem unthinkable to my generation.

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Big Pit

And here’s a picture that my son took of the hotel lobby.

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