Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Corby protest march, April 2015

Two years after my first protest march, I went on my second against the proposed waste plants for Corby.

I would estimate that there were over 500 people there, nearly double what we had in 2013.

Here are some things I learned from my second march:

1)  the words to 'We Are Corby, Mighty Mighty Corby!' thanks to Lee;

2)  you have to be careful holding a placard aloft in high winds - walking up George Street a gust of wind took my trusty sign and but for my swift evasive action I could have whacked Margot Parker and Tom Pursglove on the head;

3)  the only green items of clothing Rob McKellar and Andy Sawford own are a silk tie and a check shirt (respectively) - we had a brief discussion about our finest green outfits before the march started;

4)  in the interests of balance, Phil Bromhall from the Lib Dems and Jonathan Hornett of the Green Party were also there, but I didn't discuss clothing or nearly accidentally assault them with my placard;

5)  the people of Corby and surrounding areas show a great sense of community spirit and solidarity.

The march had a good atmosphere and was attended by a wide range of age groups.  It was peaceful, non-political - although supported by all the major political parties - because this is an issue that affects us all.

Rich or poor, young or old, we all breathe in the same air.  We all want that air to be clean and free of pollution.

I strongly believe that every Council needs to promote 'reduce, reuse, recycle', not leap straight to gasification and pyrolysis as quick-fix 'solutions' to landfill.

Private companies should not be profiting at the expense of local people's health, bringing technologies with questionable safety records and a history of catching fire in exchange for a handful of jobs sorting the rest of the country's rubbish.

The message is clear - Corby says NO to waste plants!

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Back In Time For Dinner

'Back In Time For Dinner' was so much more than a clever name for a TV programme, it was a little piece of social history served up week by week as a food show, accompanied with great music.

If you missed it, it featured a delightful family called the Robshaws who 'time travelled' via food.  They started in the 50s with post-war rationing, and then went through each decade sampling the culinary 'delights' from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.

Their home was transformed each week to resemble those from the past, complete with (or lacking) kitchen equipment, and the family also undertook traditional roles and dressed according to the era.

We saw Rochelle, the matriarch of the family, struggling with her role in the 50s where she was practically chained to the kitchen and had to prepare every meal from scratch, including offal.

As the decades past, her role evolved and she went out to work, but still did most of the cooking.  She seemed to perpetually struggle with tin openers though.

It wasn't until the 90s that husband Brandon got back into the kitchen - he apparently does most of the cooking now - but he had found it strange that he had to sit in the dining room reading his paper while Rochelle cooked dinner alone.

It was fascinating to see how the family shopped, and see the packaging from foods throughout the years.

They went from using small specialist shops in the 1950s and 60s, to the rise of the supermarkets, and the specialist freezing centres which occurred in the 1970s.  Mary Berry was even on hand to give advice too, as freezers were new-fangled gadgets that nobody knew how to use.

The 1980s saw the arrival of the microwave oven and the sandwich toaster, and nouvelle cuisine in posh restaurants.

After the BSE crisis in the early 90s some people understandably went vegetarian, there was more organic food and bagged salad appeared.  This was also apparently the decade of the Pop Tart - who knew?  It's available on iPlayer if you want to catch up.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Welcome to North Norfolk...

I'm just back from my annual holiday to North Norfolk.

Luckily the gales and the rain that had been a feature of the first week of the Easter break had gone, and we were left with dry weather.  Of course, the best day in terms of sunshine and warmth was the day we were leaving to drive home, but that always seems to be the way.

We visited the usual haunts - Cromer, Sheringham, Holt, Wells, Blakeney, Bewilderwood and went on the steam train which runs on the Poppy Line from Weybourne.

This always makes me feel nostalgic - not that I'm old enough to remember steam trains from the first time around - but transports me to a gentler time, allowing me to picture myself as Celia Johnson from Brief Encounter or perhaps an extra in Poirot.

What I did notice this time generally was the number of dogs on holiday.  Obviously with owners, they hadn't packed up their boxes of gravy bones and headed off of their own accord.

But there were dogs pretty much everywhere - which is fine, I love dogs; in fact, I would rather have well-behaved dogs in pubs and restaurants than badly-behaved squawking people of either the large or small varieties.

On the downside though it does also mean that there's a lot of what dogs tend to 'create' (please note that I put it delicately in case you're eating while reading).

On arrival at Brancaster Beach on our first day we were greeted with the unedifying sight of seriously overflowing dog poo bins.

Admittedly this was better than it not having been collected at all, but still, it's not a great 'Welcome to Norfolk'.

It also makes me think that when in many thousands of years our children's children's grandchildren (or whatever it will be) discover all these bags - because there's no way they're decomposing any time soon - will they wonder why we valued our dogs' creations so highly we treasured them by encasing them in plastic for all eternity?

Friday, 10 April 2015

What if Lakeland did parties...

My daughter and I were watching an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond one morning at breakfast.

Deborah, Raymond's wife, was hosting a Tupperware party.

My daughter asked me what Tupperware was; so I told her, plastic food containers, storage etc.

She looked at me amazed, and said 'But why would you have a party to discuss plastic lunchboxes?'

And, do you know what, I couldn't answer that.  Because when you think about it, what on earth was that all about?  Why did groups of people gather in each other's homes to have a demonstration of plastic containers?!

Confession time here, though - I'm actually quite a fan of Lakeland homeware.  I used to get the catalogue, and spend time browsing through the numerous items on offer, reading the recommendations by their customer ambassador Wendy Miranda.

So, amongst other things, I'm now the proud owner of tumble drier balls - plastic knobbly balls put into the drum of the tumble drier to shorten the drying time - an egg poacher, used once, not very successfully, and candles in tins to eliminate all-known cooking odours and repel mosquitoes (but probably not at the same time).

In fact, I had to stop getting the catalogue, because every one contained a cornucopia of culinary-utensil delights that I thought I should have - husband, however, didn't tend to agree and still comments on the uselessness of the egg poacher.

Which then got me thinking, I wonder if Lakeland do parties?  Wouldn't that be the ultimate in home shopping experiences?  Endless demonstrations of useful little household gadgets and products that you never thought you needed before but now can't live without?

Gravy separators, piping bags which pipe two different coloured icings simultaneously, Bar Keeper's Friend, Oven Mate cleaning gel, the Remoska table-top cooking sensation, poachpods designed to give the best tasting poached eggs ever.  Perhaps they could show me where I'm going wrong with mine - I imagine it's down to operator error!

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Camp Brookfield

It would be remiss of me not to mention how one man's peaceful protest woke up a town to the dangers of waste plants and incinerators.

Lee Forster, along with his partner Corinna Milligan, Cllr Rob McKellar and a small group of people called CARRP, have been campaigning for two years about the proposals for Corby.

Originally they were protesting about the 'resource recovery park' on the Brookfield woodland, plans which were thrown out late last year by Corby Borough Council.

But since January they have been fighting plans to lift the 30-mile limit on from where waste could be brought to the DRENL gasification plant on Gretton Brook Road - without which the plant would not have been financially viable.

While NCC's development control committee met on 17th March, Lee set up Camp Brookfield on Gretton Brook Road, outside the industrial estate where the plant would be built. 

His peaceful, non-political protest managed to attract the attention of over nine thousand people, and his Facebook Group is growing and bringing media attention from far and wide.

He, and his group of supporters, have succeeded in alerting Corby to what incinerators will bring with them - the health risks, the increased lorry traffic, the fact that Corby will become a dumping ground for the UK.

At the DCC meeting where the limit was lifted to allow waste in from a 90-minute drive of the plant, it was also said that Brookfield could soon face another application for the 'resource recovery park'.

Brookfield is the home of Chalky the white stag and his herd, great crested newts, many other animals including protected species, and a host of beautiful trees, all of which will be under threat from these new proposals.

Well, Corby and its villages won't let that happen.  Everyone is rallying round, and there's a renewed determination to stop these waste plants blighting our lives.  It's about time NCC, DRENL and whoever else wants to dump waste on Corby listened.