Thursday, 27 August 2015

The Great British Bake Off, 2015

It's that time of year again, when friends and family know not to call me, invite me to any sort of social gathering, and try not to have a major emergency between the hours of 8pm and 9pm on a Wednesday evening.

Yes, The Great British Bake Off is back, and I'm hooked again.

Rooted to my sofa with my Labrador at my feet, I sit and ooh and aah at the various creations on screen, critiquing the baked goods like I'm some sort of expert (I'm really not), whilst still fearing for Mary Berry's teeth on the sturdier offerings produced - the biscotti were particularly nerve-wracking in this regard.

Marie went from star baker to bus fare home in the space of a week, which surprised me, but if you can't switch on the oven then chances are you're not going to win Bake Off any time soon.  (I appreciate that's ruled me out then, those fancy Neff ovens must take a bit of working out and could be my own personal technical challenge.)

So far my favourite bakers are Sandy from Yorkshire and Mat the fireman - because he's a good baker, nothing to do with a man in uniform before you ask - although I think the youngest competitor, Flora, has a good chance of winning too.

Paul, the Prison Governor, appears slightly scary and I wouldn't want to upset him over rating his sponge cakes, and although I like Nadiya, she always looks terrified when presenting her bakes on the gingham altar of judgment.

Then there was Dorret; I will confess to gasping in abject horror at her collapsing Black Forest gateau - and I for one didn't think I'd ever say that without borrowing a time machine!  At least she kept her cool and didn't fling it straight in the bin like Iain did with his not-baked Alaska last year. 

Who would have thought that a wholesome pursuit like baking could turn responsible adults into snivelling wrecks, obsessed about soggy bottoms?!

Wednesday, 19 August 2015


Regrets, I've had a few - so sang Frank Sinatra in My Way, but it turns out he's not the only one if you can believe what you read in a recent survey.

It's been reported that the average Brit has three major lifetime regrets and spends more than five minutes a day reflecting on them.

This made me think a couple of things - really, they spend more than five minutes a day thinking about things they haven't done, or have done, but really wish they hadn't?  And, that's actually quite sad, in the true sense of the word.

It was a nationwide survey of 2000 people, and the top three regrets were not travelling enough, losing touch with old friends, and spending time with the wrong partner.

The cynic in me also thought this must have been commissioned by a holiday company, and true enough it was by (billed as 'an affordable accommodation alternative for independent travellers of all ages').

But while that explains the first regret, losing touch with friends and feeling you've wasted time in relationships aren't travel related - unless, perhaps unluckily, you lost friends whilst also travelling with the wrong partner!

With regards to losing touch with people and relationships, these are things to which we can all relate, particularly as we get older.

The advent of social media has surely helped with this though - I've reconnected with old school friends and work colleagues this way, and we now keep in touch on a far more regular basis than we otherwise would have.

But I think it is very sad to regret time spent in relationships, because, good or bad, we surely learn something from each of them, and the experiences go on to make us who we are today. 

Instead perhaps we should borrow the sentiment from Edith Piaf and let our mantra become 'Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien', because life's too short to spend time each day looking back and regretting what you've done or not done, isn't it?

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Mamma Mia

Although I haven't listened to it, I'm told there's a Radio 4 show called 'I've Never Seen Star Wars', where people confess to having not seen or done something which appears commonplace to the rest of the universe.

I'm guessing that this was inspired by the lady admitting on Radio 1 many years ago that she'd never seen Star Wars, or a Bond film, and her video was a BetaMax.

So, here's my confession - until the start of August I'd never seen Mamma Mia.

I know that puts me in a minority and I'm not entirely sure how this happened.  I genuinely felt that I was destined to never watch it, having not seen it at the cinema, caught it on DVD or managed to see it when it was shown seemingly-endlessly on ITV2.

This cinematic omission started to became a source of acute embarrassment - when other people talked about it, or said they were going to see the West End show, I would have to admit that I'd never seen it, and they would look at me incredulously like I'd said that I didn't like wine or chocolate.

I feared that I would never discover who Sophie's father was - the thing is, I still don't know, I'm guessing it's Pierce Brosnan's character, but they never really made it clear did they?

I'd heard all the discussions about Pierce's terrible singing, but previously had to just nod and smile because I hadn't a clue.  But now I do!  Now I can join in such discussions and say 'it's not that bad, I've heard worse' with a slight air of authority.

I really enjoyed the film, and sang along with the songs to the obvious despair and embarrassment of husband and daughter respectively.

I'd forgotten how much I love the music of ABBA - I might even be tempted to go and see ABBAMANIA at The Corby Cube on 17th September.  Perhaps it's time to dig out the platform shoes and the blue eyeshadow - Mamma Mia, here I go again!

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Burn, baby, burn - waste plant inferno

I've not talked about waste plants for a while, however I feel that the major fire at Recycleforce highlighted a number of issues on which I need to comment.

Firstly, the importance of retaining, or indeed increasing, the level of fire cover for Corby and its villages.

Secondly, with the increasing number of waste plants - recycling facilities, call them what you will - planned for Corby, this could become a regular occurrence.  There are reports on the news with frightening regularity of waste plants somewhere in the country catching fire, due to the nature of the business and the items being stored and processed.

Thirdly, and very worryingly, is do we know exactly what's being processed in these various facilities and what toxins can been released into the air if they do catch fire?

I know it's sensible to keep your doors and windows shut when such an event occurs, but unless your house is hermetically sealed, how do you ensure that these particles don't get in there?

What about the people living close to this and the other planned waste plants?  There's the Travellers' Site at Dunlop Close and the Settled Middle Age Travellers just up Gretton Brook Road, all the new housing at Priors Hall, not to mention all the houses off Rockingham Road in Corby itself and the nearby villages.

There's been a campaign about the plants planned for Corby for about three years.  We've just been informed that the approved plans for an anaerobic digester and a pyrolysis plant at Shelton Road are now being amended for another gasification plant.

What will it take for Northamptonshire County Council to start listening to the people of Corby?

We don't want these.  We don't more lorries bringing who knows what waste from the rest of the UK to be processed on our doorsteps.  We certainly don't want to live downwind of them, and we have major concerns about their safety given the number of fires.

Councillors, please ask yourselves and answer honestly, would you live next to these, or have your children go to school next to them?  I somehow doubt it...