Thursday, 27 March 2014


I always knew this day would come, just not as soon as this.

Yes, I've got to the stage where I can't help my daughter with her homework.

It transpires that in answer to Noel Edmonds' question 'Are You Smarter Than A Ten Year Old?' I would have to reply 'It appears not'.

It's the Maths that's got me stumped.

In fairness to me, they seem to teach Maths - sorry, Numeracy - differently to how I was taught back in the mists of 'O' level time.

However, even with looking at examples on-line courtesy of BBC Bitesize - please tell me, however did we manage without the internet? - I still can't figure it out.

I did my best, had to admit defeat and then mutter the familiar parental line 'We'll have to ask your Dad when he comes home.'

So, after dinner, with the whole family involved - OK the puppy took more of a supervisory role and simply stole slippers, but at least he was there being supportive - we managed to get the first question done in about an hour.

I jest not.  It's some sort of Sudoku-type puzzle - I imagine it's only found on a website proclaiming 'Maths is Fun!' - where you're given clues, then have to work out two sets of answers, and fill them in on a grid following instructions.

Once you've done this - which we did, eventually, after much scribbling, crossing out and starting again - you then have to do an extended re-mix version creating your own clues.

What fun for all the family!  No, it isn't actually.  It's really, really hard and I just can't do it.  I've tried, but it appears my brain just isn't suited to extreme Mathematics.

I think I've got to the Homer Simpson stage of every time I learn something new it pushes something old out of my brain.

My next move is to see if the answers are on-line so I can work out how it's done. 

I may even try to convince daughter and husband I figured it out myself, just for fun - I don't think they'll be fooled though!

For those who'd like to try the Maths question for themselves, the link follows - thanks for reading.  Hx 

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Where would we be without voluntary workers?

I'm fairly certain that this country would grind to a halt without voluntary workers.

The volunteer workforce is huge, often underappreciated, but absolutely essential.

I recently read a Facebook post which said that voluntary workers aren't paid because the work they do is priceless, and I think that's a good way of summing it up.

As we're well aware, the recent few years have been incredibly tough - indeed they still are for many people.

The country may be coming out of recession, but with wages having not increased for most, the 'good times' seem a very long way off.

The importance of foodbanks underlines this fact.

Firstly, let me say thank goodness that they exist - they do a terrific job.

But it also greatly saddens me that they are needed by so many people.

A so-called major world economy like ours still has people who have so little money that they need to use foodbanks to feed their families. 

Perhaps something for expense-scandal MPs, tax-minimising celebrities and millionaire-bonus bankers to think about?

But on a more cheerful note, I read a story a local foodbank shared on their Facebook page - I'm sure they won't mind me sharing it with you.

The volunteers had gone to a Church in the town to collect their weekly donations.

There they were given some bags donated by an elderly parishioner.  It transpired that she'd had a small win playing bingo, and had bought extra for the foodbank with her winnings.

Apparently, she did that each time she won some money.

I thought it was truly heartwarming that she shared her good fortune with others. 

Being an elderly pensioner, she probably didn't have much, but what she had she was willing to share.

A story which goes to help restore my faith in humanity - a faith which I have to admit takes a battering every time I hear about the aforementioned MPs, celebs, bankers etc.

So can I take this opportunity to say thank you to all the voluntary workers out there, and the people who donate their time and/or money to helping those in need - where would we be without people like you?

Thursday, 13 March 2014

In praise of the RNLI and Air Ambulances...

The Air Ambulances and the RNLI are life-saving organizations.

They also rely entirely on donations for their existence.

I can never understand this - we're an island nation, yet effectively the emergency service for our coastline is funded by charity.

Similarly the Air Ambulances.  We've heard that there's a 'Golden Hour' which is the important time between an accident happening and treatment being given.

The quicker you get the specialist care, the better your chances of survival and recovery.

The Air Ambulances save lives every day by transporting people to specialist hospitals far quicker than they could get there by road.

Please support them if you are able - they really do a fantastic job, and you never know when you unfortunately might need them.

On this note, on Friday 4th April a group of lads from Gretton Cricket Club are walking from Gretton to Skegness to raise funds for the Leicestershire/Rutland Air Ambulance.

The Air Ambulance came to the rescue of a couple from the village who were injured in a serious road accident near Oakham in December 2013.

The Cricket Club wanted to raise money to say 'thank you' for saving their lives.

The lads taking part - Lee Wright, James Bates, Harry Pavitt, Liam Park, Alan Coleman and Tammy Wright - are planning to walk the 77 mile journey over three days.

If you would like to support them reach their target of raising £1000, please visit or there are sponsorship forms and collection tins in various locations throughout the village (including Gretton Post Office and Stores, Lydia's Coffee Shop, The Blue Bell, The Talbot, and The Hatton Arms).  Thank you.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

The Lego Movie - one long advert or something deeper?

We went to see The Lego Movie in the February half-term.

As predicted by every review I'd read, I came away from the cinema with a tune stuck in my head.

But thankfully it's not 'Everything is Awesome' - no, the ear-worm I'm suffering from came from an advert shown before the film.

I hadn't seen it on TV before then, and it did make me smile.

It's the one with the little girl on the pink bike with a cat in the carrier at the front - which admittedly I first thought was going to be about road safety and/or cycling proficiency.

Yes, ever since then, I've had Starship's 'We Built This City' going around in my head.

Adverts have a lot to answer for when it comes to tunes I can't stop singing - I bet I'm not the only person who still knows the words to the Shake 'n' Vac song (then again, perhaps I am).

Getting back to The Lego Movie, I think it's safe to say that it divided opinion in our household.

Daughter thought it was fabulous, and keeps singing the aforementioned 'Everything is awesome' at every opportunity - my eternal thanks to the composer who came up with that tune.

Mr B felt it was just one long advert, and the ending was too schmaltzy - that's my translation for the words he actually uttered.

I thought it was good because I felt it worked on a number of levels.

Without spoiling it for those yet to see it, I think it encourages creativity, and reminds adults to be less stuck in their ways - literally as well as metaphorically.

I think it may even be a plastic building brick interpretation of the George Bernard Shaw saying:  "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."

Then again, I might be over thinking it having seen the adverts for the movie tie-in Lego sets on TV this morning...

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Pie in the sky...

I've seen some unusual stories in the press lately.

One involved a lady being buried in a coffin with Costa Coffee's logo emblazoned on the side.

Apparently, this was her favourite coffee shop, and the casket even had her particular choice of beverage inked on - one shot extra hot skinny latte.

That was her wish, so fair enough.

However, I do hope that it doesn't lead to coffins being sponsored by companies, as that would seem a little inappropriate.

But my absolute favourite story had the following headline:

'Wedding brawl started over pork pie'

Yes, I kid you not, this was from The Telegraph on 17th February

To cut a long story short, a wedding reception in Bradford turned nasty when a pork pie was thrown.

The ensuing brawl involved 30 to 40 guests, and the bride's white wedding dress got ruined when someone spilled beer and WKD on it.

Apparently, all's now well and they can have a laugh about it. 

I'm not sure that's how I'd react had it been my wedding, but each to their own as they say.

Now, I like nothing better than a good pork pie, but I'd never get into a fight over one.

But this story also caused me to muse was the fight over the quality of the pork pie?

Did a guest take umbrage at the pie on offer and decide to throw it instead of eat it?

Was it one of those bright pink ones, as opposed to the delicious Melton Mowbray variety?

I'm guessing that's not what the paper intended when they published the story, but I wanted to know more about the manufacturer of said pie.

I'm a Dickinson & Morris purist when it comes to my pork pies.  As I've mentioned previously, pilgrimages are made at Christmas and Easter just to buy them.

I know I'm not alone in this quest, because where I used to work a 'pork pie run' was made on Christmas Eve Eve to Melton Mowbray specifically to secure their purchase.

I can't imagine it was one of theirs involved in this wedding brawl story though - theirs are far too scrummy to be used as a missile.

But before anyone suggests it, I don't want a coffin with a pork pie picture or Dickinson & Morris written on it thanks!

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Happy St Patrick's Day - shamrocks have three leaves ASDA!

I settled down with a cup of tea on Friday night and started flicking through my March copy of ASDA magazine.

There, on page 13, was a St Patrick's Day feature.

Nothing strange there, you might be thinking, as St Patrick's Day is 17th March.

Yet, I couldn't believe my eyes - ASDA have chosen to illustrate their St Patrick's Day advert with four-leaf clovers instead of shamrocks!

Shamrocks have three leaves!

It's a symbol of St Patrick demonstrating the Holy Trinity when he converted the Irish to Christianity - the idea of three-in-one.

Now, I know some of you are perhaps reading this and thinking 'So what'.

But how would you feel if they used a random root vegetable instead of a leek for St David's Day for Wales, a dandelion instead of a thistle for St Andrew's Day in Scotland, or even a red carnation instead of the red rose of England for St George's Day?!

It's not on, is it?

I would have thought with all the marketing that now goes on for St Patrick's Day - thanks to a certain black and white stout beverage - a shamrock would be a familiar sight to most people.

While we're on the topic, perhaps we could celebrate St George's Day in the same way that St Patrick's Day is celebrated?

How about having a Bank Holiday on 23rd April instead of the first Monday in May?

Just a thought...