Thursday, 28 February 2013

World Book Day, an admirable celebration, is being held on Thursday 7th March this year.

I’m all for it, and I think this is a great way of getting children interested in books and reading. 

Long live the printed word - world e-reader day doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?

Yet, if I’m honest, this day also fills me with dread.

Why, I hear you cry?  Because it’s inevitably followed by the words – ‘Everyone can dress up’.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m not in the least bit crafty in any sense of the word. 

Yes, I did a bit of sewing at school, but this masqueraded under the title of ‘Art Textiles’, and involved drawing a cross section of an apple and then making a pin-cushion using coloured felt.

Not very useful for making costumes in later life I can assure you!

So, not only do I have to create an outfit for darling daughter, but because I help out at school that day I also have to arrive in fancy dress.

The idea is to dress up as your favourite book character, which presents me with yet further quandaries. 

Do I go with something studious like Cathy from Wuthering Heights, or something the children can relate to – like Bella Swan from the Twilight saga?  Twilight could be considered, I would argue, as a Wuthering Heights for the i-Pod generation.

Ultimately, I think it’s going to have to be something that already exists in my wardrobe and can be adapted.  Or better still, does anybody know of any literary characters that wear my usual ‘uniform’ of jeans, hooded tops and chunky boots?!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

The only time I go to the cinema now is with my daughter to see family-friendly films – the last I saw was Hotel Transylvania.

Her grandparents kindly took her to see Wreck-It Ralph this half-term so I was spared that one.

I tend to catch up with the big releases once they are released on DVD (my broadband connection is so slow it’s like it’s steam-powered so watching on-line or downloading would be impossible) and this weekend I finally managed to see Skyfall.

Oooh, it’s good isn’t it?  I’d tried not to read the reviews, watch the trailers or see the programmes of how they’d done the stunts because that tends to spoil the film for me.

So, if anyone else hasn’t seen it (but I appreciate that may be unlikely), stop reading now because I don’t want to spoil it for you.

I didn’t know ‘M’ died!  The way Daniel Craig gently cradled her whilst she passed away in the Chapel was genuinely moving – yes, I admit it, I cried.  But in my defence I think you’d have to have a heart of stone not to feel some emotion during that scene.

It’s a very good Bond film.  Daniel Craig is a fine actor, and an accomplished James Bond, but I don’t know if I’d agree with everyone who says he is the best Bond. 

We’ve had this discussion in the Bach household.  Hubby says ‘Connery is Bond’ like it’s a definitive.  Personally, I liked Brosnan and Dalton.  Daughter is too young to have seen the Bond films yet, but, when she does, I’m fairly confident she won’t be saying ‘Lazenby’ (sorry George!)

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Thank you – two little words, but they can mean so much.

I don’t want to get into an awards-acceptance-speech list of thank yous, but need to share some please.

I joined Facebook on Wednesday which has proved very useful in getting my Brookfield Plantation articles out to a wider audience.

I’d just like to say thanks to everyone who’s ‘friended’ me and passed the message on.  Collectively we are stronger than we can be individually, so hopefully ‘the powers that be’ will take notice.

Just a quick thanks too to everyone who knows my real identity but has kept it quiet – I really appreciate it because I wouldn’t have the same freedom to write under my real name (but I’m not a secret agent or in witness protection just in case you wondered!)

I also wanted to say thank you to my international readers as well as those in the UK.  To date I have people in the USA, Germany, Russia, China, Romania, Thailand, Australia and Ireland who read my blog.

We’re getting the message about stopping the development at Brookfield Plantation out to lots of people, which is fantastic.

So a very big thank you to you all.  Hx

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Brookfield Plantation update

In the interests of balance I went to both the Developer’s information event and the Gretton Parish Council public meeting about the Resource Recovery Park at Brookfield Plantation this weekend.

The developer’s information was very professional and slick, complete with glossy pictures and lots of technical talk.

The Parish Council’s was less slick, with some councillors sitting around a table and a corded microphone which nearly strangled the Chairman on a couple of occasions when it was passed from person to person.  The turnout from the local area to this meeting was high, with approximately 200 people present.

What both these events demonstrated to me was that we don’t need slick presentations, we just need the truth, and people who are prepared to tell us it. 

In yet another example of politicians putting aside party differences for the sake of the bigger picture (is there something in the water in Northamptonshire?!), we have Borough Councillors Rob McKellar (Conservative) and Phil Bromhall (Lib Dem) joining forces like a Gretton/Weldon version of David Cameron and Nick Clegg (but more likeable) to oppose the development of Brookfield Plantation.

From attending both meetings, I have come to the conclusion that the Resource Recovery Park isn’t a good idea because it’s destroying trees, flora and fauna in a designated Greenfield site.  A Greenfield site, incidentally, which Corby Borough Council stated in a motion in 2008 that it would protect.

I can also tell you how close it is to residential areas – the Middle Age travellers who are adjacent, the Stephenson Way and Pen Green Lane residents who are 1.5km away, the villages of Gretton (2km), Priors Hall (2km), Weldon and Rockingham (both 3km away). 

I can also tell you about the increase in the number of lorries which will visit the site every day, further clogging up our already busy, potholed roads in and around the town.

I would also ask you to consider these questions - can the developers guarantee that there aren’t any dangerous materials buried under this site?  What are the long-term health implications of these gasification plants?  Are they sustainable and actually good for the environment – because Friends of the Earth don’t seem to think so.

But, perhaps you don’t remain convinced.  So in that case please have a read of the comments section on the planning application area of Corby Borough Council’s website. 

The National Grid have commented on the high pressure gas pipeline which the developers propose to divert and about the cost and complexity of doing this.

The Health and Safety Executive have advised against the granting of planning permission in this case. 

So it’s not just a bunch of tree-huggers, or NIMBYs worried about house prices, it’s also independent organizations with nothing to lose or gain by saying THIS REALLY ISN’T A GOOD IDEA.

This is an issue which affects us all, whether we live in the town or in the villages nearby.  Objections can be made to Corby Borough Council before 4th March 2013, by post or on-line.

Friday, 15 February 2013

I listen to Popmaster on Radio 2 every weekday if I can.  I keep a mental record of my score, and the best I’ve achieved was a respectable 33 points.

But before you say ‘You should ring in!’ I’m well aware that if I was live on the radio talking to Ken Bruce I would end up with a Norwegian entry Eurovision Song Contest score (i.e. nil points)!

I like to do the ‘Three in Ten’ bit as well, where, for the uninitiated, you have to get three chart hit singles for a singer or group in ten seconds.

I have managed to get them on some occasions, my greatest triumph being for Guns ‘n’ Roses where I shouted ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine, Paradise City and November Rain’ well within the ten second deadline, beating the contestant who was actually taking part.

It’s harder than it sounds – when you have some spare time, give it a try.  Even for your favourite singers or bands it can be quite difficult to think of three chart hits in ten seconds. 

But it’s a great way of keeping your brain active, particularly if you’re a fan of music.  At least that’s my excuse anyway!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Lent has started, and there was a discussion on the radio about what people were going to give up.

Apparently Matt Damon has said he’s giving up going to the bathroom until all the world has clean water.  His sentiments may be admirable, but I don’t think his kidneys will thank him.

One lady had texted in to say she was giving up cheese, but that she didn’t really eat cheese anyway – I must admit I thought to myself, what’s the point then?

I believe the idea is to sacrifice something, otherwise I could just say that I wouldn’t eat horsemeat for forty days and forty nights – here’s hoping that I haven’t been, I always try to buy British, so fingers crossed!

I started thinking what I could give up.  I’ve tried giving up chocolate in the past, but as tomorrow’s Valentine’s day and there’s a vague possibility Mr Bach has popped to Asda in his lunchbreak for a last minute box of chocs, I feel it would be somewhat churlish to tell him that I couldn’t eat them.

Then there’s alcohol.  I could give that up, I gave it up quite easily whilst pregnant and didn’t drink for a long time once baby was born.  But I’m a busy Mum, I work full-time at home, part-time paid, do voluntary work too, and I have to admit I look forward to my glass of red on a Friday night.

I could give up cheese, but as that’s my main source of calcium these days (other than chocolate) I feel that I need to keep that in my diet to stave off osteoporosis in later life.

Um, it’s a bit of a quandary.  Perhaps I’ll just give up thinking about what I’m going to give up...

Monday, 11 February 2013

I don’t suppose there are many jobs which actively recruit a 78-year old and can then be surprised when the postholder resigns at 85 saying he's too old to continue.

However, Pope Benedict XVI’s news has indeed shocked the world, and apparently those closest to him in The Vatican also.

I’m sure it’s not an easy job (massive understatement), and, as the Pontiff’s statement says, he feels that strength of mind and body are necessary to competently fulfil this role.

So, there will be a job vacancy for the role of Head of the Roman Catholic Church on 1st March, and a Conclave will have to be formed to find his replacement.

This is no ordinary interview panel, and none of us will ever know how their decision is reached as it remains highly secretive. 

However, if it’s anything like the Eurovision Song Contest (which I’m fairly confident it probably isn’t!) we can expect that the English candidate won’t win as nobody votes for us anyway. 

We’ll just have to wait for the white smoke and the bells of St Peter’s Basilica to ring out to announce that a new Pope has been elected – which seems very old-fashioned, but I don’t think we’re quite ready for the Cardinals to Tweet their final decision, that just wouldn’t seem right!!

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Well, Monday is going to be a sad day, the end of an era.  I hadn’t realized until I got my trusty TV guide today that it’s the last ever ‘Lewis’.

I guess the hints were there in last week’s episode when dear old Robbie was talking about retiring, but I just thought it was him musing about his future with Dr Hobson, not a serious warning of things to come.

Will Hathaway step up and take his job?  Will the next series be ‘Hathaway’? – hasn’t got quite the same ring to it as ‘Inspector Morse’ or ‘Lewis’ though, has it?

I loved ‘Inspector Morse’ – it was essential viewing in our house.  I happily remember the days of my aerobics class, followed by a Chinese takeaway from the pub in the village (yes, I know, probably undoing all the good work I’d done by exercising!) watching Inspector Morse solve crimes set amongst the beautiful dreaming spires of Oxford, accompanied by the ever-patient Lewis.

Lewis was the perfect match for Morse, the yin to his yang, the ordinary bloke to his intellectual.  I think Morse secretly wanted to be more like Lewis who had the loving wife and family waiting for him at home, while all Morse had was his work, Wagner records, crosswords, real ale and loneliness.

I’m pleased that Lewis got his own show, and it’s been great having the younger Hathaway accompany him as he’s obviously cast in the same intellectual mould as Morse, albeit perhaps less pompous with it.

Perhaps Hathaway could carry a show on his own, as I’m sure Laurence Fox is a good enough an actor to make this a possibility.  However, with the ‘Endeavour’ prequel also being made I can’t help but think this is unlikely.  Too many ‘Morse’ spin-offs would surely become unwieldy and lose some of the impact.  You could also ask how many murder mysteries can you actually set in Oxford, but that doesn’t seem to bother the makers of ‘Midsomer Murders’!!

So, farewell Inspector Robbie Lewis, we wish you well.  Thanks for the five or so years of two hour shows (even though the last series has annoyingly had each episode split in two).  Here’s hoping your relationship with Dr Hobson works out and you enjoy your retirement – you’ve earned it.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Yet again, an MP has been caught out by lying.  Not about expenses this time, but about speeding and who was (allegedly) driving his car at the time of the offence.

As Chris Huhne has discovered, to the cost of his political career, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. 

There’s an expression in common parlance that the truth hurts.  Personally, I’m not sure that is correct, as I believe it is lies that can be truly damaging.

In my Room 101, I’d put lies in there along with bad manners – an all encompassing category that includes lateness, disrespect, dropping litter, and unnecessary swearing – jobsworths, drink drivers and cruelty to people and animals.  This list is not exhaustive by the way, I reserve the right to add to it later!

I cannot tolerate lies and liars.  We have a rule in our household that no matter what happens, or what we’ve done, we tell the truth and then we can sort it out.  This applies to everything, from minor scrapes in the car (me... or maybe husband) to playground squabbles, etc (daughter... maybe me).

Believe me, I can handle the truth.  If I ask ‘does my bum look big in this?’ you don’t have to be so blunt as to say ‘yes, absolutely’, the answer ‘perhaps that’s not the most flattering fit, why not consider this instead?’ is an acceptable reply!

I have my faults – some might say the list is long, this blog isn’t big enough – but when I’m wrong I admit it, I don’t lie to get myself out of it, I ‘man up’, apologize, and move on.  Wouldn’t the world be a better place if others – especially our MPs and those in authority – did the same?

Monday, 4 February 2013

Poor old Richard III – you lie under a car park in Leicester for 500 years, then have the news-of-your-discovery-thunder stolen by a Lib Dem MP resigning.

In what would normally make top story news, the confirmation of the DNA results came further down the list thanks to Chris Huhne and his alleged speeding ticket misdemeanours. 

If any monarch was in need of good PR it was our last Plantagenet ruler.  Willie Shakespeare is said to have done a hatchet job on him character-wise in order to impress the Tudors, so we’ve all grown up thinking of him as the evil uncle with a hunchback who murdered his nephews in the tower in order to seize the throne.

I guess that’s the problem with History, it can be very subjective and manipulated to suit the mood of the time.  Even then spin-doctors were at work, but perhaps less potty-mouthed than Malcolm Tucker (from BBC’s ‘The Thick of It’).

Hopefully now King Richard can find a final resting place somewhere more dignified and fitting; Leicester Cathedral seems to be first choice, although as he was born at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire and was a Roman Catholic perhaps the Cathedral in Northampton would be more appropriate?  Now there’s a thought...

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Tell me something, whatever happened to holiday programmes on the TV?

I don’t mean holiday horror shows – I see Angela Rippon’s got a new vehicle starting this week; I saw a trailer for it complete with a cockroach – shan’t be watching that then.

I mean the proper, old fashioned, BBC Holiday or ITV’s Wish You Were Here...? type shows with vacations of an aspirational nature.

We all know it’s a bit grim out there at the minute – I didn’t even realize a triple dip recession was possible – so why can’t we have something cheerful on the tellybox to brighten our dull February nights?

I loved the holiday shows of the 70s and 80s, even later I guess.  Dear old Judith Chalmers with her skin the colour of mahogany and the texture of a leather handbag, reclining on a sun-lounger in Southern Spain and showing us that we too could age prematurely given too much sun.

It wasn’t all unattainable holidays either, they had a fair mix of UK holiday parks and campsites, to contrast with the USA theme parks and faraway beaches.

I think my all-time favourite though was The Travel Show which was on BBC2.  Simon Calder presented it, with Fi Glover and somebody else whose name escapes me.  It was a more ‘serious’ show, I think it included the weather, and also had a late availability bit at the end which my family would avidly watch and exclaim ‘Oooh that’s cheap, we could afford that!’ before the end title credits rolled.

It amuses me now that whenever there’s a travel-related story on BBC they wheel out Simon Calder for his comments.  There he’ll be, at silly-o’clock in the morning on Breakfast talking about the travel story du jour.  This is such a regular occurrence that if my husband and I hear that there’s been a holiday company failure or a merger, for example, we’ll look at each other and say ‘time for Simon Calder then’.  Whilst I appreciate he’s perhaps the font of all knowledge travel-wise, aren’t there any other travel journalists who could make the occasional comment and leave poor Simon to have a lie-in?!