Friday, 26 December 2014

Christmas Crafternoon

Now I'm not crafty - in any sense of the word.

In fact I'm filled with dread when my daughter comes home from school requiring a costume for a school play as my sewing skills are minimal.  Sadly, sewing on a button is about the sum total of my needlework ability these days.

We didn't do sewing as such at school - by the 1980s it had been re-branded as 'Art Textiles' and involved me having to draw a cross-section of an apple and then re-create it as a pin cushion, using felt purchased from the now much-missed Button Boutique. 

But when my friends organized a Christmas Crafternoon in aid of MIND, the mental health charity, I went along to help.

In fairness, my contribution amounted to me doing a very good impression of Mrs Doyle from Father Ted - 'will you have a cup of tea, ah go on!' - but as this was something that I could do well, I rather enjoyed my role as tea lady. 

There was a wide variety of crafts that people could partake in if they wished, or they could sit and chat and enjoy the refreshments on offer, which included some lovely homemade scones, cakes and mince pies - they wouldn't have been out of place on Great British Bake Off!

It was a fabulous afternoon and £100 in donations were raised for MIND.

Christmas can be a difficult time of year for some people, particularly if they have mental health issues, and it was good to do something which raised money for those in need but was also enjoyed by the people who took part.

In fact, it was so successful that we've decided to do it on a regular basis.  You never know, I may graduate from tea making to learning to sew properly, or do decoupage or decopatch - whatever they might be!

Here's wishing all of you and yours best wishes for Christmas and New Year - thanks for reading.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

'Black Friday'

I appreciate that by the time you read this there will already have been numerous discussions about so-called 'Black Friday'.

The name itself conjures up something sinister doesn't it?  The scenes shown on the news were shameful - when did we become a nation that would trample each other for a cheap telly?

But just to balance out all the negativity, I have two positive things that also happened on that day.

My husband by chance had that day booked off for our Christmas shopping, both of us unaware of the apparent carnage that would greet us should we step inside our local Tesco or Asda.

However, we visited both stores and can report that there were no scenes of fist fights over TVs, tablets or similar.

In fact, in Tesco where we were trying out expensive headphones because they were on daughter's suggested present list, a lady approached us.  She had seen we were looking at a certain brand and gave us a £10 discount voucher that she'd been given for them.

My husband thanked her, but mentioned that we might not be buying them.  She replied that it didn't matter because she wouldn't use it anyway.  She then went on her merry way, as did we, but we left the voucher behind for somebody else to use as we didn't need it either.  A little act of kindness from her which brightened my day.

On the Friday afternoon we had a Thanksgiving Dinner at my daughter's school.  Her current topic is America, so the Teacher and the year six class had bravely decided to cook a meal for their parents, from scratch.

This feast for 28 people included turkey with all the trimmings, followed by the best apple pie that I've ever eaten.

We then all had to say for what we were thankful - mine was for living in such a wonderful community and for the fabulous school which is at its heart, while husband was thankful for the apple pie.  Not such a 'Black Friday' after all then...

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Brookfield update - current application 'disposed of' by Corby Borough Council

One of my favourite quotations is from Edmund Burke - the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Sometimes, you know in your heart something is just plain wrong.

Don't sit back and think somebody else will do something, because we all know what will happen if everybody thinks like that.  You need to act.

This is what happened when we heard of the plans to destroy Brookfield.  We all did something. 

For two years we've been campaigning to save Brookfield from the plans to destroy 120 acres of trees and grassland - have I mentioned that's equivalent to 70 football pitches? - and replace it with waste plants.

Brookfield, a beautiful woodland, home to Chalky the white stag, his son Snowy, the rest of the fallow deer herd whose ancestors have roamed Rockingham Forest for centuries, plus protected species like great crested newts, bats, badgers and red kite.

One of the last remaining woodlands on the outskirts of Corby - yet it was deemed cheaper to destroy the trees and wildlife habitat than to redevelop other previously-used contaminated land that was standing empty.

Well, we weren't going to let that happen.  We've had peaceful protest marches, written numerous letters to the council, Lee and Corinna gave guided walks, we had a high profile media and social media campaign and kept on fighting.

As you've probably now heard, Corby Borough Council have 'disposed' of the application.  This means that they will not consider it in its current form, but it hasn't been rejected outright so the developer could re-apply.

So, as I've previously said, in the words of Lenny Kravitz 'it ain't over till it's over', and I for one won't rest until Brookfield is safe forever - we now need to get protected status for it to prevent future applications.

But for now at least Chalky and the trees are safe.  It's the best Christmas present Corby Borough Council could have given the town and its villages.  Thank you for all your support.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Seventies TV

What TV programmes do you remember from the Seventies?  For me it's kids' shows like Playschool, Bagpuss, Mr Ben and Trumpton.

So the recent Channel Four programme 'It Was Alright in the 1970s' was an eye-opener to say the least!

Of course, the title turned out to be ironic, because nothing about the programmes they showed was in the least bit all right.

Some will perhaps say that it's unfair to judge the past through our 21st century eyes, but I think that this programme served as a reminder of how far we've come and how dark some of the TV shows were in the decade that taste forgot.

It made uncomfortable watching - a bit like the 'talking heads' who were there to give their views having watched the same clips, I sat with jaw dropped at times, physically cringing at others.

Times have certainly changed - and what a relief they have.  The casual racism and sexism, which then passed for entertainment, was quite shocking.  And knowing what we know now about what certain celebs were doing, it made it all the more uncomfortable to watch.

We weren't allowed to watch Benny Hill in our house, and having seen some of his work on this show I feel I haven't missed much.

But some of the sexism was far more subtle - they showed Ted Rogers on 321 patronising a blonde-haired Danish assistant and making out she was stupid because her English wasn't perfect.  I wonder how good his Danish was?

Don't even get me started on the Black and White Minstrels - what on earth were TV producers thinking when they commissioned that show?  In one scene shown they managed to offend black people, women and Scottish kilt-wearing men simultaneously.

It will be interesting to see how programmes we currently watch and think are acceptable stand the test of time. 

In another forty years will people watch clips of 'I'm a Celebrity...' and say 'they made them eat what?!' and 'who is that?' - but in fairness, they're questions I'm asking myself now!