Thursday, 28 January 2016

Fortress Britain

Our nation's current government would have us believe we we are assailed by potential invaders from all sides. 'Migrants' crowd at our edges, determined to stream in and rob us of all our jobs, homes and wealth, Europe wants to turn us into a satellite state of a 'United States of Europe' and take away our sovereign powers, the poor, disabled and elderly of our own population are contributing nothing to the bank accounts of our nation and their lazy expectation of being supported by our hard working families is draining the nation's wealth.

What unspeakable tosh!  What is actually draining the nation's wealth is a bunch of greedy so-called business people who have no idea whatsoever how to run a long term, healthy business and are asset stripping the country for the short term gain of themselves and their mates. As Britain discovered during the war, being able to supply your own country with the basics of survival is very important, exports are great to provide extra income, but if you rely on imports for the basics, you are soon in deep trouble if an emergency arises. On our trip to the seaside today, I noticed a new 'solar farm' being erected near Bristol - great, for our energy independence and ecology, not so great, when you realise it is being erected on good farming land, that could be grazing animals or growing fruit or vegetables.  Why are we importing low quality, tasteless food from abroad (which is superficially 'cheap' but of dubious nutritional, environmental and taste quality) when we have fed ourselves well, and deliciously, from our own farms for centuries, until very recently? Because it's not profitable for those who are already so financially wealthy they've lost all contact with reality, that's why.

Some of our greatest British companies, such as Cadbury, Fry, Rowntree, now, sadly asset stripped to multinationals for the benefit of said wealthy fools, started out, not to garner wealth, but to benefit the people of this country. All those famous 'chocolate' names were companies started by Quakers, to try and create an alternative to alcohol and pubs, in a time when alcohol had become just as serious a problem, if not worse, than 'binge drinking' today. The intent was to create places to meet and socialise without alcohol, and to make chocolate fashionable instead! They treated their workers well, valuing their contribution to the business to the extent of building top quality housing and communities for them, with schools etc, rather than the squalid 'back to backs' most of the other workers of the industrial revolution were stuck in. These employers also cared for their elderly workers, instead of tossing them into the workhouse. These business methods created multinational businesses, only when they ceased to be family businesses, cleaving to moral principles did they deteriorate into mere money creators.

Our worldwide economies today are run by gamblers, playing with other people's money and lives to generate short term profits for themselves - the losses always fall on those whose money they have been gambling with, never their own. This isn't just bankers, this is the many multinationals on the stock market - they are gambling with the money and lives of their workers and customers, not their shareholders, the shareholders are pulling the strings. Only when we cease to buy the ideas, values and goods of the merely financially wealthy and greedy will we change this set up - and it IS a set up, and we are the fall guys.

If they won't think long term, and they won't, for our own sakes WE must. We cannot have a 'fortress' at all when we have sold vast swathes of it to China, America and heaven knows where else. We have sold of most of our independence already, willy nilly, because those running our country are financial and social illiterates. We, the people, need to take our country back, by being VERY conscious of where the money we spend goes, by supporting small, local businesses, by building community.  If we have community, and stand together, we are greater than those who would harvest us as 'Stock' (yes, that's how the DWP, for instance, refer to us, the citizens of this country)

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Winter blues

I am miserable today. For most of the last 25 years we have lived in caravans or motorhomes,  which are small,  well insulated spaces - easy to get warm and to keep at a comfortable temperature.  This is our first really cold day since moving back into bricks and mortar,  and I am colder and more miserable than I can remember ever being in one of our little boxes on wheels.

We have central heating, and it's raised the temperature enough that we can just spread our butter, but my body has always been rubbish at dealing with temperature extremes - especially cold! My arthritic joints are aching like f@%$ and stiff as anything, and I feel miserable. I wish we could afford to go back to living in a tin box on wheels.  Isn't that ridiculous?

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Early history

On Christmas Eve 1951, my father was lost at sea off the Welsh coast in Cardigan Bay.  I was 4 and a half years old, and my mother had just discovered she was expecting what turned out to be my little sister.  This event left my mother destitute, as my father was a handsome, charming man, loving and a joyous companion, but prone to borrowing and putting bills behind the clock on the mantelpiece, metaphorically speaking, and never actually getting round to paying them! He left debts of over £3000, an enormous sum at that time.

We travelled wherever Mummy could find live in work, until my father's father also died, and left money in trust for my sister and I. My father's brothers bought a little terraced Victorian house in Canterbury (almost the exact twin of the house we rent now) for £500, and spent a further £500 gutting it, restructuring it and fitting it out to a modern standard.  That left a further £1000 to be invested to provide a little income, and gives a reasonable idea of the scale of my father's debt!

About 18 months after we moved into the house, I was sent to boarding school, just before my 8th birthday in 1955. My father's aunts had discovered that because he was a Merchant Navy Master Mariner, we were entitled to free education at the Merchant Navy School, which meant that my mother did not have to house, feed or clothe me for 2 thirds of the year - saving a fortune. So, in the spring, off I went to Bexhill, on the south coast,  near Hastings.

Let's gloss over how I felt, which was pretty bloody awful, to be frank. I knew this was taking an enormous load from my mother's shoulders at the time, and have only understood more deeply as the years have gone by - she was doing the very best she could for me, painful though it was for a frightened, lonely and bereaved little girl. I was fed and clothed for 10 years, better than I could ever have been at home, and taught to think.

That education was an enormous, incalculable gift - because it truly was an education, rather than mere processing through a schooling system. I met some extraordinary people, both fellow pupils, and fascinating and dedicated staff members. In the post war years there were still many British service families posted residentially all over the world, sending their children back to Britain for their education, and many of my peers only saw their parents for the summer holidays.

Many of the staff, too, were still in recovery from their experiences in the war, seeking out their way forward in the peace time world, emotionally  and physically battered by their war time lives. However, with few exceptions they cared deeply for the children in their care, and we were lucky. I remember the first few weeks of my first term, when I, and a couple of other little girls, were desperately homesick, the head master came to tuck us up at night, chat to us and sing us to sleep!

I was a funny little scrap, desperately short sighted, but not yet with spectacles, so I couldn't see the blackboard, and buck teeth to put a rabbit to shame. I was also desperately shy and unconfident - a bully's dream! It was a mixed school, unusually for boarding schools of the day, and the boys got much entertainment, for much of my school life, from pressing my buttons.

I was taught to have an open mind, to ask questions, and to understand,  rather than merely store information, and do/be what was expected of me. I was taught to respect others, but that respect needed to be earned, too. I had an education, while most of my contemporaries got schooling. I shall always be grateful for that.


I confess I am much better at socialising and being a good friend online than I am in the flesh. Face to face I am socially awkward, and get more and more uncomfortable the larger the group, so most serious social occasions completely freak me out - a wedding reduces me to an incoherent puddle. When I can give all my attention to one person it's fine, I can listen properly to both what they say verbally and their body language, and give them the considered responses they deserve. Put me in a crowd and there is simply more input than I can process comfortably at the speed required.

I suspect that this makes me seem both stupid and anti social to many, but it's not the case - I love people, and am distressed when I can't give each person my full attention. I just can't do the superficial thing that becomes required when in large groups. Perhaps I simply care too much about everyone! As I was once told "your circle of concern is larger than your circle of influence, so you get overloaded." As good an explanation as I've heard so far!

So, thank you to all my online friends for giving me the opportunity to be the kind of supportive friend I've always wanted to be, and apologies to all my face-to-face family and friends who never got my best because there have always been too many of you at once!

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

A posher potage!

Since my last post seems to have aroused a certain enthusiasm for old fashioned, simple food, here's some more!

Ingredients: one onion, 2 chicken breaststroke (cubed), 2 parsnips, one carrot,and a handful each of green lentils and barley. Mix them all together with a tin of chopped tomatoes, plus another tin full of water and a stock cube in a slow cooker/crockpot or a casserole in the oven and cook slowly for at least 8 hours.  This batch also included the remains of some creamed vegetable soup (puree of carrot, parsnip & sweet potato with seasoning and a dollop of creme fraiche)

Serve in a bowl with crusty home made bread and butter,  and maybe some cheese for a contrast of flavours. This made enough for our dinner tonight,and 3 more bowls worth to freeze and take down to have as lunch with Aunt Barbara. 5 meals for less than £5.

Healthy eating, old style

Just had one if my favourite meals for lunch - fruity porridge and a mug of green tea. Anyone who's ever actually read the Bible will know the word "potage", which was what the cast majority of human kind lived on for millenia - a kind of cross between porridge and veggie soup/stew. We eat quite alot of it, actually,  it's cheap, satisfying and good for you! Oats are great for both your digestion and your blood - lots of soluble fibre. If you don't want to be a vegetarian, you can chuck a small quantity of meat of your choice in, or you can have a bowl of it with home made bread and some cheese or cold meat - but you need to cook it from scratch!

Too often what you buy even part prepared is stuffed with the products of companies like Monsanto - preservatives,colours, emulsifiers, flavours and fats that have been so processed that the body cannot do anything useful with them, so just deposits them as potential energy stores for future use - that it cannot then find a way to use.

I have been teaching my extremely undomesticated husband to make bread. It is actually so easy, given modern strong wheat flours and modern 'fast action' yeast, that his very first attempt was really good! Vastly more enjoyable (and good for us) than the papery stuff that you buy in most supermarkets, and quite as good as some I've paid a packet for from some artisan bakery.

Learn to cook the old way.  You'll save a bundle and get healthier!

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Inconspicuous Reduced Consumption

In our bathroom there is a little basket ( one of many lovely gifts from @bagladee!) which contains some scrappy rags. We no longer use toilet paper, which clogs drains and uses vast quantities of wood pulp (the production of which uses enormous quantities of energy and water, and puts poisonous chemicals into our environment) but use these rags, which are much more comfortable on one's tender portions, and go into a tub of disinfectant and are quickly washed every couple of days. Since we started doing this in October, we have bought no toilet paper, though we keep some for guests.
Talking of washing, we put our used clothes in a tub of detergent solution at night, and I was the contents by hand every couple of days. It takes me less than half an hour for 2 days accumulation of washing, uses a fraction of the detergent and hot water used by a machine, and, courtesy of a spin dryer donated by a dear friend, is usually dry within 12 hours.
We also use no shampoos or conditioners, having given them up nearly 2 years ago, in favour of bicarbonate of soda for washing our hair, and cider vinegar for conditioner. We no longer have dandruff or eczema, and my hair is healthier and stronger than it's ever been.
There are so many ways we can live without commercial products, why don't you explore your options and save yourself money, as well as reducing your costs and hitting the corporations in their wallets!