Sunday, July 30, 2006

Blogging highs and lows

I have just been looking over my blog. I discovered that my highest number of posts in a month was 27 in April 05 and the least was 5 in May 05.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Interesting Fact No.6

Proportionally more French people write a blog than do Americans. 1 in 10 have a blog (about 6 million). It is called "un blog". So now you know...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Edinburgh- part 4

Just in summing up my time in Edinburgh I wanted to say how lovely the city was, how vibrant and distintive. It was like a foreign holiday because the experience was so different to what I would expect from Norfolk (steep hills, dark stone buildings, men in kilts, etc!) and yet I love that we English have a bond with Scotland. I must admit that on the whole I just shopped and ate but I did walk a lot and saw lots of sights, fantastic views and places of interest. Part of the reason for my journey was to check out Edinburgh's potential as a place for Lauren to go to university. It scored highly on all counts, the only thing that I think was a negative were the sheer number of tourists, equivalent to London. Still the positive aspects more than compensate for this.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Letter sent to Charles Clarke

Dear Charles Clarke,

I have been taking a lot of interest recently in green issues as I guess most of us are becoming aware that we consume far too much and our limited resources are rapidly depleting. It is with concern that I have read about the Energy Review especially with regard to the emphasis on not only maintaining but increasing our nuclear power systems.
There are several reasons for my concern:
a) safety- not only the day to day safety for workers and people living in the area but also safety from a potential terrorist strike
b) environmental impact- nuclear waste is radioactive for thousands of years and needs disposal. We cannot leave this legacy for future generations to deal with as this is cavalier and thoughtless
c) limited reserves of radioactive materials- I believe that there are only enough nuclear resources to sustain the level of power stations proposed by this review for about 40 years so this solution seems so temporary to be worthless
d) impact on CO2 emissions- without taking into consideration the environmental damage already impacting the environment by using nuclear fuel, producing toxic waste that is with us for thousands of years and building power stations that have a limited shelf life, the statistics seem to say that nuclear power will have little impact on reducing CO2 emissions. Greenpeace state that nuclear power provides 20% of our electricity but it only represents 3.6% of the UK's total energy use. In order to make a lasting impact on CO2 emissions, we need to have a more realistic total energy plan including a look at a decentralised system in order to use the currently wasted heat from power stations and to have a stronger policy on using renewable resources.

I am sure you are aware of all these factors and I wanted to know what your opinion is of a decentralised energy system? It would appear that by producing and using power locally using Combined Heat and Power stations, a staggering 61.5% of the energy currently lost could be reclaimed and used. This would have a significant impact on CO2 emissions and is obviously much less wasteful. What is your opinion and what is the recommendation of the Energy Review in regards to CHP stations?

I'm sure you will agree that this is probably our most pressing issue for this and future generations and I look forward to hearing your opinions.

Yours sincerely,

Helen Bouttell

*Visit my Green Blog for further information on these issues.*

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Edinburgh- part 3

I can hardly believe that this time last week I was there! Very surreal! I think the flight made it feel like a foreign holiday. Any how back to the post...

I was amazed while I was there, how many men were wearing kilts- not just the guys playing bagpipes for the tourists but the ordinary men about town. There were some younger women too who were wearing kilts. That was interesting and I'm guessing cooling in the heat although most kilts are made from quite heavy wool so I'm unsure that they make that much difference.

Anyhow, there were a lot of bagpipe players busking but one busker that really caught my eye was a girl of about 8 or 9 who was dressed in full traditional Scottish dress with kilt and sash. She was playing the same Scottish jig or reel on the fiddle over and over again, outside Jenners department store. I passed her several times. She was standing in full sunlight at around lunchtime and had what I would describe as a typical Scottish complexion- pale, milky white skin, very freckled and light ginger hair. Sitting a few feet away was a man and a younger boy who were obviously her father and brother. She was there at least 2 hours but I have no idea when she started and when she finished. It made me really cross for lots of reasons:
  • Was she earning money for her family or just herself?
  • Should she be working in direct sunlight regardless of her skintone?
  • She didn't look happy or comfortable
  • What if anything should I do?
Later as I had a picnic lunch nearby, I saw the three of them with their own packed lunch on the grass. She looked hot but happy as she took a long swig of drink and for the world, it looked like it was just an ordinary family picnic. I was pleased that I have that image in my head because I didn't like to only think of her as exploited.

What do you guys think about it all?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Edinburgh- part 2

Journeys to Scotland are normally long. It's a long way. Admittedly I did get up at 5.30 on Saturday morning and was out of the house by 5.55 but I did find myself walking out of Edinburgh airport at 8.08 and was by Edinburgh Waverley station at 8.35. That felt very surreal!
And I really have to sing the praises of FlyBe. I could check in online and as I only had hand luggage, I sailed straight through to the departure lounge. It was all very easy and very civilised. Even coming home (with no online check in) I didn't have to wait and was sorted in less than a minute.

The only thing that bugs me about budget flights is the hidden charges. My flights were £1 and £14 and yet with airport taxes and baggage charges, I paid over £70 in the end. But still it was worth it in the end for the ease.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Cow Parade is a community arts project that takes plain white fibre glass cows and gets local artists and community groups to design and colour the cows. These are then exhibited throughout a city and then at the end of the exhibition are auctioned to raise money for local charities.
Cow Parade has taken place in many cities across the world and I first became aware of it in 2002 when it took place in London.
I love the idea and anything that gets people talking and involved in art in this way has got to be a good thing.
The highlight in Edinburgh was seeing a young girl lying across a cow's back for a quick snooze. The bad news is that some cows have been attacked and vandalised. I don't find that a-moo-zing at all...

Edinburgh- part 1

I have spent an enjoyable long weekend in Edinburgh. An added bonus for me is that they had a Cow Parade. I currently have pictures on my phone of some cows but will need the assistance of one husband to get them from the phone to show you on here. Will say more soon...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Political Correctness- revisited

OK so you know where I stand with political correctness but my attention has been brought to this: the case of the Rev Alan Barrett, vicar of Tamworth, Staffordshire who kissed a girl on her cheek for doing well in maths during a school assembly. There was a police enquiry and he was asked to stand down as governor of the school. The diocesan spokesman said: "The conclusion that Mr Barrett had acted inappropriately is not a finding of guilt or negligence, but recognition that in today's climate, previously acceptable innocent behaviour is now subject to misunderstanding and suspicion.
As the complaint and subsequent police investigation demonstrates, the simple act of a kiss on the cheek - a common greeting throughout the world - has potentially damaging consequences."

How very sad. BUT he ought to have known better. As someone on a Christian forum says
It was uninvited and untoward. Adults should keep their hands and lips to themselves when dealing with unrelated minor children. Anyone who works around children knows this.

I'm sure some of you have strong opinions on this...

Also I was unaware that this had happened too.
Russian President Vladimir Putin kissed a boy on the stomach in what he describes as a spontaneous gesture of affection.
Mr Putin came across Nikita, five, in the Kremlin last week, lifted up his T-shirt and suddenly kissed him.
"He seemed very independent and serious... I wanted to cuddle him like a kitten and it came out in this gesture. He seemed so nice," he said. Apparantly Nikita has had no lasting trauma from the incident, infact he is refusing to wash the area and wants to be president himself one day.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could all respond with small gestures in this way without the taint of suspicion? That would be a step closer to heaven...

Sunday, July 09, 2006

David Cameron- youth champion?

An unlikely ambassedor for young people, Tory leader David Cameron is calling for a change in attitude to teenagers wearing "hoodies". He is to say that teenagers who hide under hooded tops are trying to "blend in" rather than appear threatening. I like this fresh approach from Cameron but instantly thought that it was an attempt to win favour with a younger voter. According to former Tory MP and newspaper columnist Michael Brown however, he will be alienating his grassroots voters with this stance and suggests he will have to wartch his back. If this is the case and he has gone for what he believes rather than a new spin and a funky image, I admire him for speaking out in this way.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Youth related blogging

Firstly in the local news, this little starter for ten:

The reputation young people have for being tearaways or self-centred brats was completely blown away after a group of children spent 12 weeks working on projects with the disabled and elderly.

The article continues that young people from Bignold Middle School have been doing activities with OAPs from a nearby sheltered housing project. This is lovely news but rather tainted by the opening gambit above. The article finishes with

Do you think young people have got an unfair reputation as troublemakers? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE

And yes, because of your reporting I believe they do. I'll be off to compose an email just as soon as I hit "publish post"...

Secondly, what do you think of the news that the government are launching a consultation on raising the legal age for buying cigarettes? (BBC story here) I really can't see that this is anything but a waste of time and will probably increase the desirability of being seen with a cigarette hanging out of your mouth at the age of 14.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Official confirmation

I received the news in the post yesterday that I have completed my DipHe. For my final two essays I got an A and a C. Not only that but I shall be on the higher pay scale from today.