Thursday, 22 May 2014

Apathy is the enemy of democracy

When I feel apathetic about voting, I remind myself that there are still places where women aren't allowed to vote, and indeed what the Suffragettes went through in this country to secure votes for women.

I read a quote from John Stuart Mill someone had posted on Twitter - 'Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.'  In fairness, this is very similar to another favourite of mine from Edmund Burke - 'The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.'

These neatly sum up for me why we should all vote.  We need to keep our politicians in check.  They need to be reminded that they serve us, not the other way around.

People get the Governments that they deserve.  Realistically, if you don't vote, then you can't complain about who you end up with.

The rise of UKIP over recent years has been interesting/worrying, depending on your viewpoint.

The party which David Cameron dismissed as 'fruitcakes, loons and closet racists' has apparently gained popularity with a disillusioned public who felt the mainstream parties weren't listening to their concerns.

Which leads me onto Europe, and the question should we stay or should we go?

Actually, I'm not sure.  Is it even possible for us to untangle ourselves from the EU, even if that's what the majority of people in this country want?

I'm not sure if it's desirable either - are we better off being in there, having a say, than sitting on the outside looking in?

If we leave the EU how will that affect businesses and trade?  Will we see companies leaving Britain and re-locating to mainland Europe?

We need unbiased information on which to base a decision, but who can we trust to give us this?  I wish I knew - it seems everybody has their own agenda.  Answers on a postcard please...



Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The Stilton Cheese Classic Vehicle Run 2014

I'm guessing that you've heard of the Cannonball Run or the Gumball Rally?  Well, did you know that we've got a smaller scale version in these parts called The Stilton Cheese Classic Vehicle Run?

Open to any classic vehicles - including modern classics - it starts in Uppingham, then follows a route via New Lodge Farm in Bulwick onto Stilton in Cambridgeshire.

It's apparently designed to commemorate the route taken by traders of old who used to fetch the prized Stilton cheese, and raises money for the Air Ambulance, so it's all in a good cause as well as being a lovely day out for classic car enthusiasts.

It was our first time taking part.  We arrived in Uppingham to see 'The Stig' - who posed for photos and signed autographs - plus an array of Jaguars, Minis, a WWII Willys Jeep, Morris Minors, Triumph Stags, a couple of VW Campervans, some TVRs, a few Porsches, MGs, Audi Quattros, some Citroens, a Bentley, a Rolls Royce and a very fine 1960s Ford Mustang (my personal favourite).

After registration in The Falcon Hotel, we had time to view the cars before setting off to our first destination.

Our route took us through picturesque Northamptonshire countryside including the villages of Harringworth and Laxton, and a hog roast was waiting for us on arrival in Bulwick.

After refreshments and time to chat with our fellow participants, we then we meandered through Bulwick and Southwick, headed to Oundle and onto Polebrook.  From here we went straight to Stilton, where the main street was packed with classic cars and enthusiasts outside The Bell Inn Hotel, our final destination.

The event raised £2000 for the Air Ambulance, which is fantastic.  There was a great mix of people taking part, young and old alike - I thought it was lovely to see a Mark II Jaguar (like Inspector Morse's) with a baby seat in the back for one of the youngest entrants.  I'm looking forward to next year's event already.

Monday, 12 May 2014


If, like me, you went to primary school in Northamptonshire in the late 1970s/1980s you will probably remember Mr Keeling.

At least I think that was his name - he was the chap who toured the schools in the area with his menagerie of animals.

My husband and I were discussing this the other day; we seem to remember he was missing an eye and a couple of fingers, so he really looked the part of somebody who kept dangerous creatures, which made it all the more exciting for us.

I seem to remember a couple of snakes, an owl, possibly a hawk of some description too, but I'm sure there was much more.

We were thinking about him because we recently visited Bugtopia, located between Loddington and Cransley, with our daughter.

Bugtopia is home to a host of different creatures including lizards, snakes, chameleons, spiders, stick insects, millipedes etc.

We'd never been before, and in truth, I'm slightly scared of spiders, snakes and the like so I wasn't sure what to expect.

But it was excellent.  Really enjoyable, with a very knowledgeable keeper who had lots of fascinating facts about the creatures (and appeared to have both eyes and all of his digits).

I'm a bit nervous when it comes to holding small animals but I happily held two chameleons (not at the same time), Pascal and Colin, while my daughter was straight to the front to hold a tarantula. 

In fact, she carefully held most of the creatures and wasn't scared in the slightest of anything, which is brilliant and just how it should be.  Thankfully it appears she's not inherited my phobias.

It's a great place to visit and costs £4 per person for the hour-long session.  The keeper told us that they're planning on opening a nocturnal centre at the garden centre off the A43 soon, and are going to renovate a bus to take the creatures out to visit schoolchildren.  I'm sure Mr Keeling would approve.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

In praise of the NHS...

I had to go to the Doctor's the other week and while I was waiting for my appointment I overheard two elderly ladies chatting to each other.  It transpired that somebody they knew had died. 

One lady imparted the news of the death to the other - whose response was 'That'll be another house for sale in the street then.'

I was slightly taken aback by this at first, but, giving her the benefit of the doubt, I concluded she was perhaps just being practical.

When you reach a certain age, perhaps you think of death in a more matter-of-fact way, particularly if it's someone of a 'good age' who has died. 

Back to the Doctor's, I hadn't realized that the price of prescriptions had increased - they now cost £8.05 per item, which I thought was quite expensive.

But I hadn't had to pay to see the Doctor, and I didn't have to pay for the blood test I needed either.  So while my prescription did cost, I'm guessing what I paid probably just about covered the price of the medication.

So yes, this is a round about way of saying how lucky we are to have the NHS, we shouldn't take it for granted, and we need to protect it and make sure it stays free for those who need it.  I certainly don't want to see charges for visiting the GP introduced.

Anyone who saw the recent BBC4 comedy The Walshes will have realized that in Ireland they have to pay to see a physician (about 50 Euros, approx £40), hence the character Graham's keenness to ask his daughter's new boyfriend, Doctor Burger, to give his opinion on a decidedly delicate medical matter.

Unfortunately, due to a misunderstanding, Doctor Burger wasn't the boyfriend's name, it was where he worked as a fast food cook.  Now none of us want to find ourselves in a similar situation, do we?