Saturday, 21 September 2013

Brookfield Revisited...

I've heard it said that there's no such thing as an altruistic act - I think it might have been Phoebe in Friends who mused about it.

Well, actually, I think there is and I think the Brookfield campaign is an example.

A calendar featuring photos taken from this area of untamed beauty is being created and partly funded by a local man to be given to all Corby Councillors to remind them of what is at stake.

A local pensioner has spent her own money challenging Corby Council's decision to now call this area 'Brownfield' when it's been previously labelled as 'Greenfield'.

Volunteers are spending hours campaigning, updating websites, delivering leaflets, organizing meetings, marches, publicity events, talking to councillors at their Saturday surgeries - anything that keeps this issue in the public consciousness.

OK, the cynics amongst you could say it's about house prices but you'd be very wrong.

It's never been about house prices, it's about health, quality of life, clean air, preserving trees, protecting wildlife, looking after what little bits of green space we have left.

Northamptonshire is a beautiful county, with arguably some of the finest buildings and historical sites in England.

So why then are some people determined to destroy this 'green and pleasant land', to quote William Blake?

Are they really so short sighted that they can't see past their bank balances?  Is money so important to them that they don't care about the health issues for local people and their children?

TATA Steel own this land - perhaps they'd like to explain to us why it appears they're not listening to local public opinion on this matter?  Do they really want all this negative publicity surrounding their company?  Do they not care about their legacy?

Decision time is looming, where Corby Councillors will vote on the future of the Brookfield Plantation.

This is their opportunity to try to make amends for mistakes of the past - let's not list them here, we all know what they are.

I would ask all Corby Councillors to please listen to what local people are telling you on this issue - save our green spaces, our trees and wildlife.  Our children's futures are in your hands; that's a huge responsibility.  Don't let us down, you really do owe us that much.


Thursday, 19 September 2013

What's Swap Shop?

Isn't it amazing how a casual comment can make you feel old?

As we were having dinner one evening my daughter - who's doing inventors and their inventions at school - asked me about old-fashioned telephones.

I confirmed to her that my parents did indeed have a black Bakelite telephone with a dial.

I then mentioned to my husband and daughter that I could never get through to competitions on Swap Shop because by the time I'd dialled 01 811 8055 - at least that's the number I think I can remember from 30 odd years ago! - somebody else had already got through with the correct answer.

'What's Swap Shop?' both of them asked me.

Now, fair enough the ten-year old has no memory of Noel Edmonds other than on Deal or No Deal.

But really, I did hope that hubby might be able to share the 70s memories.  Apparently not.

No memories of Noel and his jumpers, Keith Chegwin trying to swap a chess set for a Chopper bike, Maggie Philbin doing whatever she did, Posh Paws the dinosaur sitting on the desk looking slightly menacing - nothing.

While we're on the topic, whatever happened to Saturday morning TV for kids - or hangover TV as it became known as we reached our late teens/early twenties?

Surely there's room in the schedules for a modern day Swap Shop, Saturday Superstore, Number 73, SM:TV or Tiswas? 

Then again, maybe not... I'm not sure how today's 'health and safety' world would cope with the Phantom Flan Flinger!

Monday, 9 September 2013

Life skills, 2013

Life skills.

What would make your list?

Cooking, driving, good manners, being a decent human being perhaps?

Well apparently top of the list of 20 skills essential to know now is Googling.

Yes, using the Google search engine is the top essential item for life according to a new survey released.

Next is operating a mobile phone, followed by connecting Wi-Fi, online banking and only then does learning to cook feature.

Scary, huh?

Using electronic devices is more important than knowing how to cook – quick, somebody tell Jamie or Nigella!

Turning to the skills now considered to be redundant, top is darning, followed by knitting, polishing the brass/silver, baking fresh bread and putting up a tent.

Other skills thought to be no longer necessary are being able to service your own car, change a tyre and speak a foreign language.

Now, call me old-fashioned if you like, but there’s no point in being a whizz on Google if you can’t sort out a flat tyre on a deserted country road late one evening.

Yes, I know a lot of cars don’t even have a spare wheel now, just a can of ‘jollop’ with which to fill the punctured tyre so you can drive on it a bit longer until you get to a garage.

But that’s no good if you get a shredded tyre is it?

Plus, should this scenario occur whilst driving abroad on your camping holiday, not only can you not change your tyre, but you can’t ask anyone for help as you can’t speak the language, and when you eventually arrive at the campsite in the dead of night you can’t put up your own tent!

Still, I expect you can Google all that and find out how it’s done on YouTube...

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Seven Wonders of Northamptonshire...

Can you name the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World?

I could remember two at a push, but apparently I’m doing quite well as most people can name only one, according to a recent survey by travel agency

Just in case you’re interested they are the Great Pyramid at Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (the two I could recall), the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes and the Lighthouse of Alexandria.

As most of these now don’t exist, it’s hardly surprising people can’t name them is it?

This survey then also asked people to suggest their modern wonders and the resultant list is the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, the Great Barrier Reef, Table Mountain, the Northern Lights and Mount Vesuvius.

This then got me thinking, what could be considered the seven wonders of our area of Northamptonshire?  I came up with the following:

Harringworth Viaduct
Kirby Hall
The Triangular Lodge at Rushton
Lyveden New Bield
Boughton House
Rockingham Castle
Corby Cube

Yes, I appreciate that the Corby Cube is perhaps a controversial choice, but it is a very striking building. 

But it also made my list because it made me wonder why it went so much over budget, wonder when it would actually be finished, and wonder why another £600,000 is needed to fix what is, in effect, a flat roof?!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Everyone's a critic...

Do you ever read the reviews on TripAdvisor or similar sites?

Everyone’s now a budding ‘Alex Polizzi’, passing judgement on everything from a hotel’s d├ęcor to the service they’ve received and the quality of the food.

Personally, I think it’s brilliant.

It means that hotels and restaurants are almost instantly accountable (particularly in the age of the smartphone-equipped client) to the whole world, and I feel that it’s made them ‘up their game’ with regards to customer service.

A recent example, if I may.

My family and I headed off to North Norfolk for a brief break after the August Bank Holiday weekend.

We stayed overnight in a nice hotel, having first, of course, read the reviews on TripAdvisor.

The welcome from Reception was good, the room was fab and everything was going swimmingly – until we had dinner.

Now, a bit like my Labrador, I can eat most things.  However, the main course I was served was pretty much inedible.

In hindsight, I perhaps shouldn’t have gone with a dish described as Vietnamese Shakin’ Beef – not sure why it was called this, perhaps the chef named it as a tribute to Shakin’ Stevens? – but I thought I’d try something different.

Of course, when the waitress asked if everything was OK, I did that typically British thing of saying ‘Yes thank you’ when I really should have said ‘Actually, no’, but credit to her, when she collected my nearly untouched meal and asked if I couldn’t manage it, I then told her that the meat was tough and I couldn’t eat it.

She told the chef, who agreed with me and sent his apologies.  She offered me a free dessert, which I politely declined, and then she told me my main course would be deducted from the bill.

I thought that this was very fair, and felt better about the whole episode – and wished I’d complained in the first place!

However, I did also wonder to myself would this great piece of customer service have happened in the days before internet accountability?

Or would I have been left feeling disgruntled and merely been able to mutter just to family and friends about the experience, having first bought a bag of crisps from the bar to stave off the hunger pangs?!