Random Jottings Of Gildersleeve

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Location: United Kingdom

Perhaps you'll learn more about me as you read my blog. For anyone who translates my blog using the translator facility, don't forget if you wish to read the comments in your own language to click on the title of the post down the left hand side otherwise they will remain in english. Also I assume that the translation is accurate but I don't know, so please allow for errors.

Monday, June 30, 2008

One Size Fits All...

Well it probably doesn't!

For anyone reading from abroad. We have a voluntary public service called the Citizen's Advice Bureau. It offers legal and general advice to any member of the public who are worried or require help with just about anything you can think of from debt to problems at work, help with dealing with problems with benefit/welfare worries.

The important thing is that the service is free. Though I have no doubt they welcome a donation if it's available. It has to be because it does often deal with our most vulnerable of society. The other advantage is that it is confidential and when you are perhaps dealing with your most private matters, you wish to feel that what you are saying goes no further.

Therefore, yesterday Lunchtime at the end of a BBC Radio 4 News programme a report was broadcast how a part of the UK is angry and a petition of at least 10,000 signatures has been collected because a branch of the CAB has had it's finances reduced and I believe could close as the Government has decided to put out a directive that a variety of companies can try and offer advice and tend for the contracts and who can be shown to do the work for less will be awarded the contract.

The companies also being looked at will be doing the work on a profit basis. The information on the radio suggested the reason being given for change was that all advice on everything is under one roof and they would be able to stay open for longer. The new companies are working on a model which will be on a profit basis.

But my concern and I guess it is also in the back of those who have used the CAB and signed that petition is...How independent is the new service and how sure can we be that what we talk about remains private and confidential.

Especially, if some of the problems you take with you area against Government departments.

You may feel that you are unable to say all that you wish and find advice given is no longer as independent. The CAB will give unbiased advice but also advice from a variety of sources and leave you to decide the direction you wish to take.

If you go to a Government appointed agency they will probably advise one course. And if you have a complaint against a council or government department whereas an independent organisation like the CAB will work on your behalf, can you see one Government Agency working against another?

Are the new services being offered to save money? Are they being offered so that they can push a particular viewpoint? Or are they genuinely being suggested as an alternative to the CAB because they wish to offer a better service? I'm afraid I feel very cynical about the whole matter.

I know how much the CAB has helped me over the years and taken a lot of worry and stress off my shoulders and I fear for it's future.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

More Food Discoveries...

I'm saving this packet until next week and deciding what to do with it. It's a snack. I have never tasted before and I cannot decide if I can eat these as they are or need to purchase(and if so what)a dip of some kind to dip them in to give them extra flavour. I've never really been a dipping kind of person. But they looked interesting so I thought, I'd give them a go.

Update:I've tried them...they're ok but a little bit brittle, tastewise for me, I could not taste the garlic much at all, I think they will be improved if they are dipped in some kind of flavoured dip.

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As far as I know this is a first. I will, in a few minutes be eating Cream of Asparagus soup.

Update:I can imagine eating it again. Pleasant taste and easy on the palate(Get me with my fancy talk)not too strong. I can imagine eating it after coming home on a cold Winter's night to warm you.

Asparagus is a new vegetable to me. I tried it a few weeks ago having purchased a can of Asparagus under the Green Giant label. I was thinking of purchasing fresh Asparagus but the price and the fact I did not think I could use all that I would be buying it seemed a good idea to buy this can as it was from the illustration on the can what I needed. It had all been chopped into suitable sizes pieces and could be added to the recipe a friend had given me to try.

I had to salvage what I could as to be honest it was more like slop when I opened the can. I have another in the house which I hope will be better up on opening sometime. If not that will be the last I will purchase. I can't send an empty can back to the manufacturer's to make my point...I'm not sure it's worth the bother. The date on the can was fine.

What I have found the most difficult to obtain is a simple and plain(nothing fancy)Onion soup. Another friend happened to mention he was starting a special meal this weekend with this as a starter and I suddenly thought I fancy that.

I found one can(I forget the brand)but it was fancy and not what I was looking for. A basic Onion soup and nothing else.

Just as I was about to give up I found Baxter's have a version that is as close as I am going to manage to get to my original choice except that it is not a plain soup, I have had to buy one that has other ingredients added. So it is Carrot, Chick Peas and Onion Soup and I notice it also contains in the ingredient list Potato.

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All this choice and you are unable to find a simple Onion soup. But I have not given up...just yet!

Update:It's mainly a carrot based soup and I'm not sure that I could taste any onion but it is a very tasty soup and a nice variety.

I can report that I have finally got around to having my French Onion Soup(Baxters)very tasty. It contained masses of Caramelised Onions with Sherry and Cider Vinegar.

You can spend a lot on speciality soups but what a simple and inexpensive dish soup can be and what choice. 68p for this variety and that gives two decent sized bowls. 34p per serving, which you can have with toast or a crusty roll?

By The Way in case you are interested...here's the recipe for that Salmon Dish...

Ingredients: Pack of lightly smoked salmon fillets(usually available in two's)



Asparagus chopped into small segments

Lemon juice

Creme fraiche

Cheese (finely grated)

Optional...Butter a sheet of tin foil and scatter with broken stalks of parsley. Place salmon fillet on top, douse with lemon juice, black pepper and a smidgen of salt.

Put in preheated oven for 15 minutes 220c

Boil kettle and chop rest of parsley.

Put linguine into boiling water and boil for ten minutes. Add the asparagus for the last minute.

Drain pasta and asparagus and put into great big bowl.

Flake the salmon and add it, chuck in the cheese and creme fraiche.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


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How many products that you remember from your childhood are still available? How many of those products have you forgotten about or have not tried for years?

It is amazing if you start a list off how long that list will become and grow and once you start talking with others, it triggers off that person's memories which in turn will set you away and your own list will grow even longer.

You'll also be amazed how many products have been around much longer than you realise. Also, what an interesting history many of them have. Many companies(especially in America)have serious archives of all of their history.

How many products are withdrawn from sale. Brought back after a period of time. How packaging is tweaked. Names change(why did a household cleaner known as Jif in the UK have to eventually become Cif)Hair Removal Cream known as Immac is now called Veet, Oil Of Ulay is now Olay(or vice versa)I forget, Marathon Bars became Snickers and are to be called Marathon Bars again.

And then I was thinking the other day(I'm sure it's still available)What about Maxwell House Coffee? I cannot tell you the last time I saw or heard an advert for that brand of Coffee and yet for best part of 100 years it has been one of the most popular brands of coffee worldwide. It was the sponsor of many popular tv and radio programmes in the States. Is it so popular, this product that simply does not need to be advertised? People still remember it's slogan "Maxwell House...always good to the last drop!"

I'm prompted with this blog entry because some items came up on a forum I belong to and Ritz Crackers were mentioned. It has to be over 30 years since I last tasted them.

They are still available so someone is eating them. I cannot remember why we stopped eating them, I know that we did. Were they mainly only purchased when people were planning a party. Would they now be superseded by all the other snacks that have come on the market over the years such as those crisps that are available in a tube "Pringles" with the slogan "Once you Pop, you can't stop!"

This proves that some products are pushed to keep up their public's awareness of certain brands, new products or try and get you to switch to another but I am realising that much of what is in shops rarely is advertised on radio or tv. Also, over the years I think you are more likely to see the advertising pushing financial services , debt consolidation, cosmetic products, legal services, banks and the like. Product wise I would say cars, alchohol, pain killers, crisps, frozen vegetables, crisps and chocoate gets the most air time. What does this say about our tastes and changing society? I think we go through certain phases where the range of what is advertised changes depending on the time of year. When Winter arrives they'll advertise items associated with staying warm and cosy.

It has prompted me to return to some traditional puddings/sweets I once might've had after my main meal. I always tend to stick to a healthy option such as fresh fruit and/or with ice cream.

But I occasionally make a fresh fruit crumble with some custard etc...and the other day I thought it has been years since I ate a very light and fluffy desert that I sometimes could eat as it is or sprinkle some biscuit over the top or hundreds and thousands. That was Angel Delight or the supermarket's own brand. Usually as good. Because unlike the old days the same companies that produce their own brand, will also manufacture the line with the supermarket's name on it. Also, whereas price plays it's part, a supermarket also wants to be associated with quality.

So I'm looking for an excuse to revisit an old memory again which I am sure will still be as pleasurable. And yet such a simple one and hey, it's only made by adding milk.

Update:We tried the Butterscotch Angel Delight tonight...in a word Delicious! I think we'll be having that again. Light and fluffy as it says on the packet.

On the other hand they keep making Bourbon biscuits and they are one that I have never found appealing and if they are in a selection they will be the last biscuit I'll eat and more likely they'll sit there in a tin and remain there until someone throws them out.

I'm tempted to say promotions instore are probably more successful these days and catching us on the spur of the moment in a moment of weakness. Appealing to us on the three important points of selling...price(value for money)taste and how something looks.

I mean...I came across these by chance on promotion in the supermarket...who can remember(they were larger)Joosa Jim's in the shops when on your way home from school? Well, they're back...kind of :-) and they were half price. Real fruit juice and mineral water being used.

Update:More or less as remembered. Lovely and cold. The shape does mean that they last longer and take ages to melt but I could see me buying more. And I have now taken to bashing them with a rolling pin before opening them as it means I can eat them straight away and they resemble those drinks many shops sell known as Slush Puppies where they are like crushed ice.

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During my shopping trip I discovered Tortelloni, A fresh Egg Pasta Dish from Italy which I hope to try and looks a little like Ravioli only where that looks like little pillows, these are parcels containing fillings other than Beef. Do I serve it as it is or add a sauce? I suspect that's expected as most Pasta dishes use sauces based on tomato, herbs and olive oil. Do I serve it with other items such as meat or vegetables? Not sure because many Italian dishes that use Pasta use only the one ingredient. Most of the Mediterranean diet is good for your health and tasty so I have every hope it's going to be good.

The verdict:A quarter of the packet was enough of a portion for each of us so we still have half a packet to use. I poured some sauce over the pasta and oven fries containing Tomato, Virgin Olive Oil, Garlic and Basil(it wasn't over powering)

The pasta parcels softened and expanded practically doubling in size.

The sauce gave everything extra flavour. I could imagine eating it again and I felt good afterwards, not bloated. It was a light dish.

And for a treat afterwards instead of fruit or ice cream, we had a small portion of custard with a muffin packed full of Blueberries.

Followed by a coffee with a smidgen of Brandy.


(Remember by clicking your mouse over an image they can be enlarged)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

As Reported On The Radio...

One in ten children are obese...according to some survey or statistics issued by a British Government department...and surprise, surprise they say poor and deprived areas are more likely to see their young in this state.

Hearing this on a London based station's news, an area suggested as being poor is Hackney. At the end of the story, the reporter said the trimmest in the UK is...

Children in the North East of England...in particular Country Durham.


That's worth repeating again...County Durham.

If there is anything bad health wise or telling us that too many are on benefit, unemployed and so on. they always single out towns and cities in areas like here.

So we are obviously doing something right for once...

I do wonder though throughout the day on various media outlets and in the press anyone will mention this fact and give it the publicity it deserves. Rather than leaving it all down to a station in London to mention it.

I did find a reference to the story in a local regional newspaper and guess what...they found and printed practically a negative story with little acknowledgement to improvement here for once.

Midnight Snacks...

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For a long time I have taken a flask of tea and some toast to bed so if I am hungry or thirsty through the night or need upon waking something on my stomach to before taking my medication I can save going downstairs and having to start preparing breakfast or a drink.

Now, I have a mini-feast lined up...

I take boiled water upstairs in a jug and a flask. And I can make up tea or coffee using powdered milk. I have toast but also a bowl sometimes ready to put cereal in and fresh fruit. Some Brandy to add to my coffee. Depending on how I feel, I may switch to Porridge instead if in the morning and/or change from toast to a Bacon Buttie as a treat. My choice of fruit with my cereal or Porridge could be Blueberries, Strawberries, Blackberries or Banana.

Sometimes I mix my cereals...At present I have returned to one I used to eat ages ago Fruit 'N' Fibre and value wise for the minute it's worth doing so because the local supermarket has halved the price so I can have it cheaper or spend the same and have two boxes. (The others being Special K and Alpen/Bran Flakes.)

Some of this has to be prepared in the morning as it has to remain fresh in the fridge(such as the milk)but it makes things easier and quicker.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

The last few days I have been so sleepy. Able to drop off at the drop of a hat. And knowing my check up at the Dr's(Blood count)was due as well as my appointment with my consultant, you wonder if this means a set back.

But no, I continue to seemingly move in the right direction(it's a long hard slog though)I can accept staying stable as opposed to going in the wrong direction.

All readings suggest I'm holding my own(so to speak)

As it happened today another Dr had come over to the out patients surgery with the Consultant and that was who I saw. Very approachable, again volunteering information about my results and condition, answering questions. Probably, telling more than I have heard in many years. Shaking my hand and introducing himself and when I thanked him for his time and help, he said that was was what he was there for or words to that affect.

We've heard stories and seen experts and consultants often portrayed in films and novels as being of a superior attitude and treating patients with contempt. It may still happen or such incidents are anecdotal but I have to say I have found the opposite to be true and I have always been treated with respect and kindness. I have never felt inferior or on a different level.

A change of attitude from the medical profession? Or does it also depend on the attitude of "Us" the patients. You go in with a pleasant manner and you'll get the same back in return. Plus with long term conditions(this has been going on for 10 years)maybe we all get to know each other.

And in something like the NHS where so many are seen, sometimes unintentionally where time is precious, everyone is busy, that personal touch is lost.

It's funny though this positive attitude has tended to follow me most of my life. If I am being served in a shop, the hospital restaurant, in a taxi...people want to talk or offer their help. Even, before all this had to be faced.

So steroids have once again been reduced and they've been explained more to me what they are doing in reducing the inflammation of the kidneys. The immune suppressants damp down my system which in turn tries to keep the steroids doing their job. The side effects being that you increase weight, can have an increased appetite and usually you have an increase in the size of your tummy(which can result in stretch marks)and an increase in the size of your face and neck)

Yep, I have those symptoms.

Anyhow, in recent visits I have noticed they are paying more attention(well, my ears have pricked up at little things said out of earshot)to my albumen and today this Dr told me more about it. That is where my protein leaks into and they try to reverse it. Yes, my cholesterol is high and that is due to the loss of protein. So I asked today, should I restrict myself on anything diet wise such as dairy products. Skimmed milk was mentioned(I don't have much anyhow)but I tend to use Semi-skimmed. The last time I used Skimmed...I really did not notice much difference in colour or taste so perhaps I could get away with it.

Or maybe it's OK in tea and coffee but Semi is best for use in food. I mentioned ways to try and get the cholesterol down so went into more detail what I was doing and he gave the green light to taking Garlic and eating Porridge. Diet restrictions? Avoid high fat and too much cheese. That would appear to be that.

My diet is mainly good and I mainly stick to fruit, vegetables, fish, chicken and I do drink a fair bit of good old fashioned water. I hope that I get enough variety of vitamins and minerals from the food that I eat and my only concession to any supplements are two Pomegranate tablets for vitamin C, one Zinc tablet for the Immune system, a Cranberry tablet for uniary health and I'd say that's about it.

So I suppose that's where we are at present and fingers crossed if nothing suddenly changes and throws things I return for my next appointment in four weeks time.

I don't get out much unless it's the weekly shopping trip by taxi a few streets away so I almost look forward to my hospital visits and the little snack we have afterwards in the hospital restaurant. Even it usually is just chips(french fries)baked beans and a buttered soft bread roll.

Followed by a mug of tea. Which I probably could cook at home(and do often)but having it done for you makes a change. For the two of us(Mum and me)I don't think £4.05 is bad value.

We choose an appointment time that allows us a little extra time to get ready.

They always had us down the hospital approx 9am-10am, now we aim for lunchtime...that way we get chance to wake up a little later, it's easier to get a taxi, we feel more awake and after the appointment manage to hit the lunchtime.

And upon returning home usually, the taxi drops me off to get some bread and milk, my magazine about the Internet and my TV listings mag, possibly to pick up a prescription that has to be collected. And that's me finished then for many days ahead. As I then rest and try to boost my energy levels. This is especially true with the other condition I have to be careful over.

All this on top of my computer problems(one requiring to be taken away for repair)but thankfully coming back with only a power pack being replaced(and sounding much quieter)but taking forever to sort out connections and to get it all set up as I had it originally so I can record my audio files. I thought it was going to fail me but I managed in the end.

And today in my rush to get out to the taxi, I was unsure if I had my mobile phone with me and in checking I managed to drop it outside my front door onto the path and see it smash and the back fly off. I expected it to be broken and scratched(it was a gift from my Uncle)I put the back on it again, checked it out in the taxi, no scratches, phoned a number, it worked. I got off lightly and then...noticed one corner had been damaged.

Upon getting home, I decided at the risk of making matters worse to try and take out the rough damage of the casing by using an emery board(all the time wondering if I may scratch the casing further)as it happens, I succeeded reasonably well and it's smoothed enough, the colour has not changed a great deal through sanding it down and I think I have been very lucky this time.

So as they say things happen in three's, I have had mine this week...the computer, the phone and myself which all came out well.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

There Is So Much Goodness In Our Food...

With a varied diet and common sense, we should all be fit and healthy and no one should ever be ill...WRONG!

All you can do allowing for your financial situation and access to good wholesome food is try your best. Just as you are told not to sit around and do no exercise, too much exercise can have a detrimental effect too. How many sports people(allowing for those who abuse their bodies by taking illegal substances)or pushing themselves to extremes find that they suffer with medical problems and are often in need of replacement parts. Or find themselves restricted in what they can do?

But I do believe that many foods are full of goodness and you have to take advantage of them in the hope they'll continue to keep you as healthy as possible or delay the decay as long as possible or stop it from getting worse.

So I'm going to link to some interesting articles I have come across in the last day or two in some British newspapers. There's nothing particularly Earth Shattering within the information but it's good, simple information that I don't think anyone of the most cynical nature could argue with and it would do no harm for any of us to follow. But as with any health information I will say take everything with a pinch of salt, don't take it as read and I'm not as such saying you should follow what it states...it's all down to personal choice.

Super Foods

Thyroid Health

Ask Jane

Latest Health News

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Food Glorious Food...

I don't know why but I seem to be on a health kick at present or thinking about food. So my blog seems to have taken a different direction from it's usual trend.

So even if I have little to say(and I know that's rare)if I find a safe site that I can link to that I think is worth sharing(and my virus software now checks sites to see that they are)I'll put them up and hope you'll enjoy.

So tie in with earlier sites I linked to when talking of food I have two new sites worth looking at.

The first is connected to one of the UK's most popular TV cooks who has also written many books over many years. I did look at her site ages ago and well...somehow forgot all about it. In that time it has improved greatly and it also now offers a lot of free content alongside some extra you can sign up for and there is a message board and much more. Delia has a section to help people with special needs regarding what they are able to eat.

Delia Smith

The other site is based in the USA and is massive.

Recipe Land

What you need more than anything is lots of time to look at everything and be able to decide with so many dishes to choose from what to cook for your meal be it a snack, main meal or some little treat.

I've added another link here that I have found that offers so much regarding finding products and services mainly organic based. Whether I can afford anything is another matter but it's seems a good resource to look for that something a bit special. In fact go to the home page and this resource offers much, much more.

A Lot Of Organics Search Engine

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Looks A Bit Rude...

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now that it's lost it's rigidness but last evening I was in the back garden and came across some toadstools that have been growing. Can you believe as many as 39 have had to be dug out!

But one of the biggest I have ever seen here is this example. When they grow...they do it fast. I reckon it reached approx 12 Inches in diameter before I removed it and probably it would've kept going.

Monday, June 09, 2008

It Must Be Summer...

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As I have actually spent some money on clothes.

I haven't spent much but I'm happy. I now have some shorts to wear around the house. At present I need room to manage my increase in size and to put things right at short notice so the shorts will allow for this and look a bit more fashionable. And the short sleeved shirts whilst colourful will be a little more roomy than a T-shirt. Also, I can avoid having to pull a T-shirt over a large head.

How much did all this cost? Well, if they only last a short while I'll have got my money's worth out of them. Buying two shirts meant a reduction in price, so everything came in at £16($23:80 US)

And I may part with more cash before I am finished. I may go for some T-Shirts next time but that have the open neck(or have the three buttons)so the opening is larger, something in the style of a Rugby top(but with more colour and design printed up on them)

The image above has suddenly brought home that over the years I have worn most colours but I have rarely had anything in green or a checked design. Usually, it's been plain or stripes. I cannot think of a reason why that is so.

It's not designer gear but it's good enough for me.

Update:I have finished my little shopping spree...and now have another five(yes, five short sleeve shirts)some I found at the local supermarket and they had reduced some items from £15 to £5 and you could feel the quality. I found something a bit like a kaftan(but I'm not turning into a hippy just yet)and I found two T-shirts with a wide opening at the top. So they'll last me for quite sometime. I'm enjoying the extra room and being of cotton type fabric, I feel much cooler.

So that's ten items in total coming in at around £67. By today's standards that's pretty good value.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

I Love Food Part 3

I think this experiment has gone to extremes but makes a valid point.

I think it's interesting and ties in with earlier posts I have made about food wastage and the throwing out of food. Which costs money and possibly means not enjoying food that you might've enjoyed and unless you are a large family that can polish off something in one or two sittings, it often means if you are single or only a two person family you have to make a decision that some food will have to be wasted(but at least you get to enjoy some of it)or not to buy or do without in the first place.

Thankfully, I manage to buy foods that are well ahead of the use by or sell by dates and manage to plan to some extent what I will use the night before(because they have to be defrosted overnight)or that I can cook fresh or from frozen.

Most of the items I do not use in time are few and if I think it's going to happen, the birds in my garden benefit.

Since full recycling came in my wheelie bin is lucky to have half a bin of rubbish even after 2 weeks(I probably could go a month)and that will not be food related.

However, I am of the opinion in many cases food can be eaten up to and beyond the dates that manufacturer's put on their products(if the item is stored correctly)at the right temperatures in a fridge/freezer.

If you have bought some freshly prepared cabbage/spring green and leeks)shredded and you've not used it on the date on the packet and it's not been opened and is not wilting or going brown, I do not believe that you cannot use it the next day. If you have a sense of smell, that's one way to check if it's OK to eat and another way is to look.

And of course finally, taste.

I also sometimes purchase in bulk for cost reasons and there's no way I can eat 5 chicken breasts in one sitting or wish to at every meal. Often an instruction is attached saying once opened they have to be used immediately. But commonsense says if they have been frozen I can take one or two portions out of the packet and put the rest into freezer bags. And use them another day.

Besides, the important thing as much as anything is to make certain that what you cook is cooked thoroughly and to be sure, do it a little bit longer than the instructions suggest. I always do that.

I have added a link to a Government Agency site that offers information how to avoid waste, use leftovers and revitalise food that has gone "limp" at the end of this blog entry.

To some extent I am all for being careful where food and health are concerned(Food poisoning can be a killer)and I can also appreciate in this day and age food manufacturer's have to be careful of being caught up in legal complications but Health and Safety has probably gone too far.

And having medical problems I'm probably a person that should be extra careful.

A good friend has reminded me that some items(usually alchololic)improve with age and how do we know as that can take years to find out. I also seem to remember when food was first sealed in a can(if done correctly)there have been cases where up on opening, the contents have been ediable (decades after being canned)so storage would appear to be one of the main things to get right.

Anyhow, I found this link to an article very interesting but I do think this is probably going too far to make a point. If it was not tied into a TV documentary I doubt this person would've taken the situation as far as he has. I suspect someone was watching over him most of the time.

Out Of Date

Love Food, Hate Waste

Friday, June 06, 2008

One Reason...

Of many why people are disillusioned with politics.

I can accept that views and opinions of those who serve the public may change as our own may in our lifetime but you have seen in previous entries I have made reference to local politics regarding my town centre's future and how when the by-election took place because our MP resigned even though officially there was a number of years he could've worked and put something back into the area for the support he had received from the people who voted for him to be a member of Parliament and in turn allow him to be the Country's Prime Minister for around a decade. Arguments will be made that has happened, locally some will agree, others beg to differ. For various reasons in a recent local election, some people felt that they should stand as Independents and they gave the ruling party of many years such a worry, that many of those who had been unchallenged for years lost their positions. And for some it was a shock.

Which in turn meant that when the by-election took place, for the first time in living memory(In my own certainly)our town was made the centre of the campaign to vote for the next MP to represent this area. Usually the campaign happens elsewhere. I've not seen so many representatives of the highest level pay attention here. Those worried to hang onto power and those who could see that just maybe they could wrestle it away. And as the twon was where the main candidate set up his campaign HQ, it had to be so.

The main party did succeed again but it was a very close run contest and an Independent almost succeeded again. That same Independent has just about been the only remaining candidate to get onto the new Unitary Council that was voted upon in May representing this town and for another reason. That has caused some criticism in the local Free sheet.

Unfortunately, the councils the length and breadth of the UK are being disolved and becoming Unitary but instead of letting them run the term of the previous local election held only one year sooner, new rules brought in by the Government means that they have/are being wound up so quickly, the Independents had to stand again and this time only a few managed to be elected.

The main reason I believe is that many more candidates came forward(many unknown)and the ballot was too diluted across too many people.

And so once again the National and local political scene is practically as it was.

And now our local free sheet is full of information that has resulted in lots of letters appearing heavily critical of two Independent Councillors who were successful. There are a couple that do offer limited support but the ratio is weighted against.

Why? They stood as Independents and therefore were voted for by the public as Independents.

However, they have now changed(after being elected)and joined the Labour Party. So electors feel that the election should be held again and they should stand under their new colours and see if they would be voted in again.

And we have a photo on the front of today's free sheet with them standing and smiling side by side with our Member of Parliament.

It does also mean that the make up of the Unitary Council has changed further as two of Independent councillors have tipped the balance in the favour of the winning party.

I write the above purely as an observer. And the impression given.

It does mean some genuine Independent Councillors who stood and lost may've succeeded had the public known this was to happen and a few remaining Independent Councillors that were elected are issuing apologies for what has happened and to say that they will not be following the others by switching allegiances. Such action has weakened their hand it has to be said as there are few if any Independents now on the Unitary Council and the few that are still involved locally are serving at the most local level possible as town councillors and you wonder after all this when the elections roll around again, the electorate will feel betrayed and their position on the Town Council will diminish further.

Also, people are wondering if this was always the plan, and when and if any meetings between the players took place or whether it all happened afterwards by chance? But that smacks of conspiracy theories. What do you think?

I Love Food Part 2

I don't think I'm eating more food than I have in the past and put my weight increase down to the effects of the Steroids. Can I eat less? Perhaps, but all the lovely food in the fridge/freezer has to be eaten. I only eat what is said to be a healthy variety, I have to admit that yesterday, I have been let down by the local supermarket in that whilst I was able to purchase plenty of salad items and some items were half price as part of some promotion that is running, fruit such as Strawberries, Blueberries and the like were missing so the only fruit I can add to my breakfast is a Banana. So I may have to consider adding some tinned fruit at some point.

I have put some weight on since I saw the consultant in May(I reckon 5lbs)and I see him again in 10 days so I wonder if I can shift that before I see him again. I seem to remember when I first took ill all those years ago and was on the same treatment my weight was considerably more than I weigh now. And again, we decided it was the medication.

I cannot fasten my trousers always and annoyingly yesterday(I had managed to)as I got in the taxi I felt them open suddenly as I say down and I thought I'll refasten them as I got out of the taxi...except I have discovered that the eye on the top of them that hooks into the other side has pulled off so if I could fasten them again unless I can find a spare eye on an old pair that I can use and I lose the extra inch or so they will always remain open but that is hidden so they can still be used.

Maybe it is time to invest in a larger sized pair of trousers at last, I've said that I would often enough. Thankfully, they are not terrifically expensive, If I am fortunate the last few only came in at around £6-£8 for a pair and I was able to shorten the leg length myself and save the extra cost of alterations which can work out so expensive the trousers are then overpriced. I cannot sew so don't expect I am a capable, I cheat, I use a kind of tape that when you put a warm iron over it if it's placed in a hem, it joins the two pieces of cloth together and they adhere to each other.

Now it's nearly lunchtime so forgive me if I think about preparing it. What am eating? Some salad on an open wholemeal bun. Not large one's and only the one. So I cannot do any less than that can I?

Update:I split a Soda Farl(under the brand name of Paul Rankin, a popular Irish Chef)the first time I have tried one(I think it's known as Soda Bread)gave half to Mum and I had the other half. She avoided some of the toppings I had.

Toasted it...and on my half I had..Lettuce, Tomato, Spring Onion, Celery, Egg, Cucumber and Prawns with a very small amount of Reduced Hellman's Mayonnaise and three small slices of a small Melton Mowbrey Pork Pie. And seriously if you looked at what was on my plate it was not a large portion. And there are not many calories in salad items. And since Lunchtime and afterwards I have not had anything else. No cakes and no biscuits.

Tonight...I think we'll make Potato Patties out of the Mashed Potato I have remaining from yesterday, add some Peas for the vegetable and some Quiche'. So still eating simple and reasonably healthy.

I found a blog of recipes on the net(I'm sure there are many more)but as I posted the link elsewhere...I'll do so here.

The dishes are simple(I'm unsure anyone will go to the trouble of presenting them as seen)but I don't think though the fare is good, they are very expensive. They are certainly adaptable so if you get the chance...enjoy. Otherwise, like I often do, you can go back to the old faithfuls like Beans on Toast but get pleasure imagining how these dishes taste and looking at the pictures.

Paul Heathcote

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I Love Food

...And yet in reality over my life I have not been very adventurous. In what I have chosen to eat.

My diet has been good and nutritious but probably on the grounds of time, availability, finances etc...we've rotated the same dishes and menu choices and lots of tastes have passed me by.

I have always been interested in the connection of food to our well being(without going over the top)I think there is a lot of fads and rubbish talked over food and health. Many, many reports are not worth the paper they are written on, all you need is commonsense and many so called experts are taking the public for fools and making lots of money with unproven research that looks impressive and is no more than the image you have of the Quack Doctor selling some home made medicine that claims to cure all ills and turns up at some local agricultural show in one of those old western films that were popular in the 40's and 50's.

You may disagree with some what I am going to say here and whether you agree with my opinion it comes to down to personal feelings so I will offer a disclaimer.

I can think of nothing worse(and I hope it doesn't happen to me)but am prepared that it could due to my medical problems that I will be told that I have to go on a restricted diet. That I cannot eat certain foods.

But of late with my cholesterol readings being high, I have taken to taken a daily garlic capsule, I have managed to get some milk and spreads that claim to reduce cholesterol because they have added natural plant ingredients.

If they work...fantastic but as I am regularly checked I thought to myself I can have a course for a month or two and see if things have improved. If not, I can give up.

A lot of nutritionists believe that our guts contain bacteria. That there is good and bad and it's important to help the good do their work at keeping us healthy and to break down the food that we eat. If we become ill the balance is thrown and you need to replace what you have lost.

So I came across an uncomplicated article in the online edition of the Daily Telegraph earlier today which I think is quite informative without being too complicated and I realise recently I have without knowing it(commonsense again)been eating a diet that is hopefully helping me. And a nutritionist that seems quite straight forward, Julia FitzGerald who avoids lots of un-necessary information.

10-minute nutrition

So today not so much a blog entry about myself but sharing something with you my reader.

I also offer a link to site that looks interesting and my virus checker says is safe to visit, it's all things about food...

Food Reference. Com

This site also has access to a book you may find facinating that was mentioned in the following article. Maybe I'm being unfair and if I tried what is suggested without preconceived ideas I would enjoy but I think I'll pass.


The book published in 1885 by the entomologist Vincent M Holt is entitled 'Why Not Eat Insects?'

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Aycliffe Head

Having mentioned the "Aycliffe Head" a new piece of modern art. A sculpture. One thing for sure is that information on this has been very scarce. The first I knew was when a letter appeared in the town's own free sheet criticising the cost and commissioning of the project but it appears that it's already signed, sealed and delivered.

It's personal thing and some people will love it but at an estimated cost of £165,000 possibly more, whilst it may be argued that sum cannot go very far, and councils try to justify what they spend and raise in taxes attempting to keep social and public services going, I personally see it as a waste of "Our" money and now feel more resentful of the design and erection of this "Thing" on the outskirts of my town. I am thankful that I do not live where I have no choice but look at it.

It will be bad enough seeing it when traveling into my town from the major neighbouring shopping centre but as it's been years since I went out of my immediate area I won't see it too often.

It may be said that my attitude would mean that much of the art from the past that is now treated with respect "Today" would not have been built and that critical response to such structures have always existed but whilst the artist intended it to be striking, past works seemed to sit well within the environment or location chosen to show it off. And often a monument had a reason behind it being commissioned in the first place. I can see no good reason behind this whatsoever.

I have searched the local press and the Internet and can still find hardly any reference to this so I give credit to my source and the image used. The article does try to put things in a positive light but it is obvious that there are reservations. Not least of all how the project has been seemingly handled so quietly.

Newton News