Monday, 19 February 2018

Winter Olympics 2018

It's happened again - I've gone from being an Olympics avoider to a keen viewer within the space of a week.

This time of course it's the Winter Olympics.  It did amuse me when the presenters, competitors etc were talking about how cold it was in Pyeongchang - I did feel like mentioning to them 'The clue's in the name, it's not called the Springtime in Paris Olympics!', but refrained, because I'd probably have moaned about how very cold it was there too.

'Super Saturday' lived up to its hype, thankfully.  I watched the Women's Skeleton with my heart in my mouth.  For the uninitiated - me until last week - the skeleton is the one where they lay on a tea tray and career down an icy slope, head first, like you do, using just your body to steer and your feet to brake.

Utter, utter madness, but so proud of Lizzy Yarnold and Laura Deas who were much braver than the rest of us and won Gold and Bronze for Team GB.

It did make me wonder though, how do you decide this is the discipline in which you want to specialise?  I don't recall this ever being on the options list for my school's PE lessons.  Even if it had been, I would have point-blank refused.  The very patient Mrs Merchant had enough of a task to get me to climb the apparatus and perform forward rolls - even at that tender age I was painfully aware of my athletic limitations!

Back to South Korea though, and I'm with Mr T (not a phrase I ever thought I'd utter) - I also pity the fool that doesn't like curling! #curlingiscoolfool

What's not to like?  It's gentle, a bit like bowling on ice, and it's something which we think we could all have a go at.  Now that's my kind of Winter Olympic activity - just fetch me a pair of stout brogues and a Vileda supermop and I'm there!  

Thursday, 15 February 2018

The swimsuit challenge

I blame myself really.  I should have made it much, much clearer.  When I asked the shop assistants in various Leicester clothing emporiums (or should that be emporia?) for swimsuits, I should have stated that I'm not a contestant on 'Survival of the Fittest' or 'Ibiza Weekender'.

Honestly - I've seen more material on a hamster's jock strap!  Three tiny triangles of lycra-infused polyester and metal hoops does not constitute any swimming costume that will, or even could at maximum stretch, clad this nearly middle-aged bod.

Perhaps I should have been flattered that underneath my coat, scarf and jumper combo, worn to see off the harshest February winter weather, they considered the possibility that there was hidden a physique suitable for this minimalistic ensemble.

But, then again, as that was all they had in stock, perhaps no compliment was intended at all.

I thought to myself maybe it's the wrong time of year, although naively I assumed that some people these days holiday in exotic climes all year round, therefore swimsuits of some description would be freely available.

It may have been my choice of shop - I didn't want to spend a fortune on something I wear briefly a couple of times a year at most, so budgetary considerations came into play and I selected the High Street's, or in this instance Highcross's, finest womenswear stores.

Whichever of the above scenarios was the explanation, I still think I can't be the only person that would prefer a more encompassing, fuller bodied brief and top that flatters rather than exposes too much flesh can I?

Thankfully, my local supermarket back home came up trumps.  Whilst doing the weekly shop I spied just the job - a pretty swimsuit that covered all the right places and even had a little skirt to camouflage the only thing I will ever have in common with Kim Kardashian.

Not for the first time did I give thanks for George Davies and the clothing lines he created. 

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Don't die of embarrassment

Have you ever met somebody, said 'Hello, how are you?' in a friendly way, only to be greeted by a blank stare, absolutely no recognition, just a look of slight puzzlement?

This happened to me quite recently.  I'd gone out for a meal with a group of friends, went to the bar to get a drink and on my way back to our table met a lady I thought I knew and greeted her in the above manner.

Now, I pride myself on my memory for faces - I just can't always remember from where I know said person, hence this incident.

As I sat drinking my G&T waiting for the food to arrive, I mused quietly on how I knew this woman.

I then remembered quite clearly - she was the nurse from my Doctor's surgery who'd done my smear test.  In a way, I suppose it's reassuring and a relief for all concerned that she didn't remember me.

The reason I'm sharing this story with you now is that I recently read that the number of younger women going for their smear tests has fallen dramatically, one of the reasons they gave is because they are too embarrassed.

But as this story from the Helen book of personal experiences illustrates, the nurse performing your test won't remember you.  It's just part of her job, she's literally seen everything before, and there's no need to be embarrassed.

Having had a friend die of a gynaecological cancer in her thirties, I cannot emphasise how important it is to go to the Doctor's and get your check-ups done.

Please go and have your smear test, or if this isn't relevant to you, encourage your wives, partners, daughters, friends etc to have theirs done.

During the 80s, the slogan used for the AIDS campaign was don't die of ignorance.  I think we need to adapt this and say to women please don't die of embarrassment. 

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Mamma Mia, can I go again? My my, it was bloomin' brilliant!

Regular readers - I'm hoping there are some! - will perhaps remember me saying that I was way behind with my cinematic viewing and had only just managed to watch Mamma Mia.

That was a couple of years ago now, and since then I've watched it at least once more as it seems to be a regular fixture on the ITV2 schedule, not that I'm complaining.

I adore Abba's music, I love Pierce Brosnan, so a film which combines the two is up there with my all time faves - yes, before you ask, I can even get over Pierce's singing, although only just.  I'm also looking forward to the sequel, due out this summer.

So when I heard that the stage show was coming to the Royal & Derngate in Northampton I was a little bit excited, to say the least.

And then when a friend of mine organised a coach trip to gather us all up and safely transport us half way across the county and deposit us at the Derngate's door, I signed up straight away.  Many thanks again to Julie for sorting out the tickets and the bus.

I was so glad I did go - it was a fantastic night.  The production was amazing, the quality of the singing and dancing was superb, and it was a fabulous show all round.

But the best part for me?  When the entire theatre got up and sang and danced along with the cast at the end of the production in a spontaneous show of feel-good lack of self-consciousness.

The atmosphere was brilliant, and everybody was having a good time and belting out Dancing Queen and Waterloo at the tops of their voices.

I may or may not have been singing in tune, I haven't a clue and I don't really care.  I adhere to the rule of dance like nobody's watching and sing like nobody's listening - although perhaps I need to reconsider the last one when attending weddings and funerals!

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Plume Plotter

I'd never heard of Plume Plotter until a couple of weeks ago.  Then towards the start of January, I started noticing Facebook posts people had shared about the emissions from the proposed waste plants in Shelton Road and Gretton Brook Road, Corby.

From what I can see, what Plume Plotter do is look at the wind direction and speed every day, and then calculate from the size of the stack at the waste plants potentially how far the emissions will go.  They also mark on their maps what schools fall within that area, and the residential areas affected.  Take a look yourself at

I'm sure the developers of said plants will argue that the emissions are actually dependent on so many other factors and variables etc and try to blind us with science.

But would you rather listen to a voluntary organisation who puts this information out there to warn residents about the risks involved, or to the developers who are only interested in making profits?

The front page of the Corby Telegraph on Thursday 18th January made sobering reading.  Campaigners claim that the combined emissions from both of these plants would increase the Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) levels equivalent to an extra 8000 diesel cars driving continuously at 30mph - and that's before you factor in the fumes created by the lorries bringing waste to these plants.

The Plume Plotter spokesman said:  "Should people be concerned?  That's hard to answer.  The point of Plume Plotter is to show where the pollution is likely to fall so that people can decide for themselves.  Personally, I wouldn't want to live near one of the incinerators."

Neither do I, which is why I, and others like me, have been campaigning against them for nearly five years.

Northamptonshire County Council didn't appear to listen to the valid concerns of residents of Corby and its surrounding villages, and granted planning permission for these facilities to be built.

With the current situation at County Hall, perhaps it's time for these decisions to be looked at too?

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Unwanted text messages

I think it's safe to say that had I received the Hawaii text message about an inbound ballistic missile, my digestive system would have reacted quite violently.

I can only imagine how frightening it must have been to hear your phone 'beep' and then read a message advising you to seek shelter immediately as a nuclear missile was heading your way.

Thankfully in this instance it was a false alarm, but it did get me wondering if we have a similar system in this country? 

What about people who don't have mobile phones - yes, there are still some, I happen to know a few - will they be blissfully unaware of the imminent crisis and just carry on regardless?

In a way, that's perhaps the best way to handle these sort of situations, as I'm pretty sure there's not much you can do if a ballistic missile is indeed due to arrive shortly, other than gather your nearest and dearest and tell them that you love them.

Often though in these emergency scenarios people are instructed to head indoors and keep doors and windows shut.

Now I can't answer for you, but I'm fairly sure that when my house was built it wasn't designed to withstand a nuclear missile or its fallout,  and I sincerely hope never to find out.

But it also made me think, where's the best place to take shelter once in your home?  In Hawaii, I believe some people sat in their baths.

The cupboard-under-the-stairs (aka the pantry) was an option for me.  However I was fearful of being knocked unconscious by a falling tin of beans or similar, and then realised the dog - who would of course be with me - would eat the entire contents of said cupboard in the interim and I'd later be discovered with an extremely poorly Labrador, which nobody wants to deal with.

Perhaps I'll stick to hiding under the dining room table or behind the sofa - most people's preferred childhood location when confronted with the prospect of The Daleks in Dr Who, etc.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

January, sponsored by Lemsip, Benylin etc

Ah, January my icy friend.  Yes, we're still wading through seemingly the longest month, but in reality it's just 31 days.  Feels very different to those balmy August ones though, doesn't it?

If months were sponsored, like TV programmes on commercial channels, I think brand names like Lemsip, Benylin, Night Nurse, Beechams etc should have first dibs on January.

Do you know anyone who hasn't yet succumbed to the dreaded Christmas/New Year/most-of-January lurgy?

So many people have been felled by this bug, including those who've had the flu jab I'm told.  But don't let that put you off having the flu vaccination if you're in one of the at-risk groups who are recommended to have it - better safe than sorry, and proper flu, Australian or otherwise, is no joke.

They say you can tell the difference between if you've got flu rather than a horrendous cold by doing the '£50 note test' - please note, this is not a real medical test; I have no medical knowledge other than a First Aid course.

Imagine there's a £50 note just outside your house, in the garden - if you've got proper flu, you won't care and won't be bothered going out to fetch it in, whereas if you can be bothered to go and get it, you've just got a bad cold.

Having said this, my husband is adamant he would go and get the money even if he had to crawl on his hands and knees - I may just test this out next time he claims he's got flu!  I wonder if it works with lower denomination notes too, as I don't think I've ever had a £50 note.

I'm really trying hard to be more positive about the winter months, and January in particular though.  I'll sign off with an inspiring quote @RuralRootsPR shared on Twitter, something her Granny had said:

"Darling, did you know I'm an octogenarian?  And when you're an octogenarian you have to live for every day, so I'm going to learn to love January and February as much as April and May."