Sunday 30 November 2008

The Return of the Attic Sale

Our return to doing attic sales after Jo's pleurisy proved a bit of a disaster! No other way of describing our attic sale on Saturday. It was only as we were packing up that we actually made our ‘table’ money and put ourselves into profit – by a massive £3.60. (That is assuming you don’t count the £2.00 spent on tea and mince pies, the £1 on a handbag, and the £1.90 on books. By my reckoning that made us £1.30 in the red.)

It was exceedingly misty and frosty when we packed the car which, as always, was full to the brim.

The weather put paid to my plans to take a sunny picture of Heswall Hall. There doesn’t seem to be one on the Internet, which is not surprising because it’s a pretty uninspiring piece of architecture.

We set up in plenty of time and had a wander around the other tables.

There were more customers than usual during the hour and a quarter that the sale takes place but sadly not at our table.

Ah well, another day perhaps...

What was Niki Lauda’s nickname?

There was a question on Eggheads the other day - “What was Niki Lauda’s nickname?" The three optional answers were – The Gerbil, The Rat and The Mouse. I would have guessed the Rat but I didn’t know. The Rat was the answer.

Upon checking (through Googling it, of course) I came across a site that said The Rat was a derogatory title given to Lauda. Another site, F1complete, also described it as ‘uncomplimentary’. However, Lauda himself is quoted elsewhere as saying ``The rat was my role model in the animal kingdom, with its high intelligence and instinct for survival,''

If there is any doubt which is the correct interpretation, in 1997 Lauda went to the launch of a toy by the famous German toy-makers Steiff. The toy - a cuddly Rat called Niki which came complete with gnawing teeth, red shell logo overalls, black boxer shorts and Lauda's trademark red baseball cap.

Saturday 29 November 2008

Attic Sale

It’s still early morning. That time of day when the windows are just black squares with a little bit of condensation on the inside. So I’m not sure what the weather is like out in the big wide world. I know it’s not too windy because the window is slightly open but the door isn’t banging too and fro. I know it’s not absolutely pouring down because I would hear that on the windows. I’m hoping it stays like that for the next couple of hours because this morning we have to load the car with half a ton of junk for an attic sale. Half a ton is, of course, an exaggeration. I doubt the car will take more than a few hundredweight. last time we went to an attic sale the front of the Nissan lifted off the ground so much it looked like it was begging. mind you, it probably was begging – to be unloaded!

Gary says that Heswall Hall is fully booked for today and because we didn’t book until the last minute (fortunately getting a cancellation) we won’t have our favourite table. I’m glad about that in a way because it may enable me to persuade Jo to leave all the clothes at home. I hate selling clothes. It takes me fifteen minutes of fighting with the clothes rail to get it assembled without falling over. And then I spend the whole sale picking clothing up off the floor where people let them drop while looking through them. I know I’m a bit anally retentive but there’s no way i could just ignore something if it came off the hanger. By contrast, most people seem to drop things on purpose.

I suspect that the profit margin on the day will be fairly small and if we get set up early it will be nil. There’s nothing worse than being set up half an hour before the doors open because it gives you a chance to wander round all the other stalls – and buy things. The next hour and half is spent trying to make back the money you’ve spent buying more stuff. For Jo the irresistible attraction is usually clothes, for me its books. Then there’s the occasional bargain that neither of us can turn down like a bread-maker, bedside table or a portable television. I wonder what today will see us returning home with?


David Was
David Is
But, Dear Lord,
Whatever happened to
What David might have been ?

David John Edwards
29th November 1986 – 20th February 1987

Friday 28 November 2008

The Walrus and the Carpenter

As readers who have visited before will realise I have changed my header (again). I have tried to keep the old familiar part with an appropriate quotation indicating that the subjects on this site include just about everything in the world – an eclectic mix. What I forgot to do was attribute the quotation. Hopefully my readers will be aware it is from The Walrus and the Carpenter by the wonderful Lewis Carroll.

Things I've Done

I got this one from Miss Rumphius who in turn got the idea from someone else.... Play along if you like. All the things I have done are in red.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis (Does a snake count instead)
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run (Does scoring a goal count?)
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo's David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant / cafe
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check (accidentally)
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar (Yuck)
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby (Difficult! But if I had it would have turned no. 37 red as well!)
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day.

I scored 42 out of a hundred – pretty feeble and some of those I could have quite happily lived without like the food poisoning and the skinny dipping which comes under the heading of most embarassing moment - I didn't start our skinny dipping but my water-logged trunks stayed in the water as I got out! Anyone who knows me may be surprised at number 23. It was one day in October 1972 when I worked at Allerton Library and I still feel guilty. How sad is that!

Thursday 27 November 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

To my readers across the pond – Happy Thanksgiving.

That is unless you are in the northern part of North America since I understand the Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October which I missed. I didn’t miss the second Monday in October, I just missed wishing Canadians a Happy Thanksgiving...

Photojojo says Thanksgiving is their favourite holiday “because it involves: Hanging out with people you like, eating yourself stupid, and falling asleep on the couch in the middle of the afternoon.” (Sounds like our Christmas without the silly hats).

"Some friends of ours host Thanksgiving for all their pals who aren’t going home for the holiday. When they sit down to eat, instead of saying grace, everyone at the table says one thing they’re thankful for. Now that’s a tradition we can get behind. We don’t usually think about the things we’re grateful for, but today’s a good day to start.” Being a photographic site, Photojojo suggests "This week, take some pictures of the things that make you thankful".

I shall try that... Anyone got a Lottery win they can lend me. No seriously, here are a couple of mine.

A computer to communicate with the people I love, light in the darkness and the eyes to see it all by...

Latte and a toasted teacake in Linghams bookshop;

and Pensby Library with a whole lorra books....

Charity begins at Home

I think of this as my ‘Home’ Blog and I have decided to highlight a charity every now and then by putting a link in the left hand column (Between Friendly Bloggers and More Blogs to Visit). There will be no great logic applied to which I include except that they are a charity the aims of which I support.

I am beginning with the Prince of Wales’s Rainforests Project.

Wednesday 26 November 2008

Decisions, decisions...

Fortunately I am not the Chancellor of the Exchequer so I don’t have to take decisions about the national debt and trivia like that. Unfortunately I have so many blogs that at times my decisions seem even harder. What happens, for example, when I want to blog about a piece of news (my news blog) that is of general interest (here), books (my book blog), and incorporates memories from the 1960s (my memories are made of this blog). There’s no way I’m going to put the item into each blog.

I decided the answer on the latest occasion would be to put the news item in the book blog and make a comment here suggesting you may care to look at it.... So, you may care to look at the Biblioburro blog!


I never cease to be amazed at where I end up on the Internet. 0ne of the reasons I meander around is that I watch TV on the computer screen so the other night, for example, I watched Eggheads, Strictly – It Takes Two and a football match (yes, Steve, i know that makes me a moron) and while doing so I played on the computer. One of the sites I came across was a T-shirt shop called Threadless. They have some fine T-shirts but unfortunately the cost of three T-shirts is doubled when you add the postage from the USA. Not the shop’s fault but it does make buying them here impossibly expensive.

Here are a few of their latest designs.

Tuesday 25 November 2008

The kitchen is in Wales

The kitchen is in Wales and the lounge is in North West England. No, the house isn’t that big, it’s just what our televisions tell us. The lounge and study TV is courtesy of Sky and sends us the programmes which accord with our Post Code. The kitchen TV works of a rooftop aerial (though not for much longer – it’s not clear enough for digital) and the nearest, clearest mast signals are across the water in Wales. As result the local news in the kitchen keeps us abreast with what is happening in Wales while that in the lounge / study are from North West England.

I quite enjoy being a part of two different worlds but there are odd occasions when it is quite frustrating. If, for example, I am in the middle of watching an interesting Friday night BBC2 documentary in the study and pop downstairs for a coffee I suddenly find myself just approaching half time in a fairly obscure Rugby match on BBC2 Wales.


Watching the counter of unique hits creep up during the fortnight since I put it on this blog I began to have doubts as to its accuracy. Over 700 hits in a couple of weeks. Was it really recording unique visitors and not just repeat visits like my brother and daughters? I had my doubts.

However, I have just seen how many people have viewed my profile – 1,842. Wow! That’s amazing. That’s my third real boost of the week – the first being Sara’s lovely comments, and the second was ‘finding’ Sue. Apart from the enjoyment of expressing myself this blogging lark can be a real ego-enhancer.

The discovery that blogging is not just an antidote for one’s own health and mobility problems but also something that other people are enjoying is quite a boost. At least I assume they are enjoying it and not just visiting my profile to see ‘Who is this prat?’

(The spellchecker rejected the word ‘prat’. I must do a blog about that on Words, Words, Words... Who says I’ve added blogomania to my list of ailments?

Neither a borrower...

Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

W Shakespeare - Polonius in “Hamlet”

Talks are continuing between troubled retailer Woolworths and its two main banks in an attempt to establish if it is possible to save the iconic chain. Woolworths has a share price of 1.43p and is at risk of going into administration. The F. W. Woolworth Company (often referred to as Woolworth's) was a retail company that was one of the original American five-and-dime stores.

The first Woolworth's store was founded, with a loan of $300, in 1878 by Frank Winfield Woolworth. It now has debts of £385m. That's nearly as much as I owe on my Barclaycard and shows the folly of borrowing money in the first place!

(P.S. Ironically I drafted this a couple of hours before our dear Chancellor of the Exchequer gave us a speech as a result of which our national debt will be increased - effectively doubling in a mere five years a debt that has taken centuries to build.)

Monday 24 November 2008

Bring Back Margaret Thatcher

Having spent a few more minutes of my life following the goings on in American politics it suddenly occurred to me that in all my years of blogging I couldn’t recall having once mentioned British politics – except as an adjunct to some comment on the environment.

Could it be because we don’t hype up our politicians quite as much as the Americans or could it simply be that our politicians nowadays are so wooden that there’s nothing to write about. When did we last have a real personality in power (or bidding for it?). My daughters grew up in the Thatcher era, my son in the Blair days. Horrific though some of the former’s policies may have been at least they excited the general public to take an interest. Nowadays I suspect we could have a General Election without most of the public even realising it. And the “personalities” involved would be highly unlikely to cause street fighting by partisans.

“Bring Back Margaret Thatcher” - I didn’t say that; honest I didn’t. I didn’t even think it. Well, not really.

Sunday 23 November 2008

I’m so excited

I’m so excited. I’ve found one of the two missing persons from my youth. Ever since the Internet became a way of connecting one with folk from the past I have wanted to know what happened to two particular friends. And now I have traced one of them. This will mean a long, long e-mail once the link is formalised – i.e. assuming she responds to the Friends Re-united request to acknowledge my existence.

How do you sum up 35+ years. Even the most boring existence has quite a lot of events in it during that sort of period. I think there'll be a couple of long e-mails in the offing.

Although we were never romantically linked Sue and I often used to sit up into the early hours, usually in her flat, with Radio Luxembourg in the background, and philosophise. It is so easy to put the world to rights over a cup of coffee when you are twenty one years old.

A humiliatingly awful score

I’ve sort of won a competition. The last time I can recall winning anything (apart from the very occasional £10 on the Lottery) was a bottle of something alcoholic in a raffle at an age when I was too young to drink – and that is a long, long time ago! I won a prize in Sara’s competition by being so bad I got a minus score - “Scriptor Senex deserves a prize, even though he lost, really lost, with a humiliatingly awful score. (Sorry, SS; no offense.)”

Even better than winning a prize was being described as “the lovely and talented Scriptor Senex, who had a score of -2½, but who clearly made the greatest effort to be amusing, and who should also be applauded for taking the greatest risk by offering the largest pile of details, however ridiculous.... However, because of extraordinary effort and bravery, I'm also going to award ten house points to Gryffindor, as it were. Therefore, dear, amusing Scriptor Senex, if you will also be so kind as to drop me an e-mail at the above-noted address, I shall be very pleased to send you a lesser but hopefully still fun Super Secret Runner Up Prize.”

Sara, from Massachusetts, " a happy, ordinary, middle-aged, suburban woman who paints odd pictures, gardens in a straw hat, lives with the love of her life, is owned by one cat and the ghosts of several others, and walks a little funny 'cause she has a fake leg. She started this website because there's more to life than what we lose, and we need to let each other know what's possible, even if it's only a happy, ordinary life. "

It took but a minute or two to make my entry in Sara’s competition and the reward has been considerable. I’m not talking about my Secret Runner-up Prize but about how much of a boost one gets when someone says nice things about you. In a world of so much pain and iniquity it is so pleasant to be reminded how many lovely people there are, right across the globe.

G8 agree to cut carbon emissions 50% by 2050

The headline read "G8 agree to cut carbon emissions 50% by 2050". The reality was a bit different - "We seek to share with all parties to the UNFCCC the vision of […] the goal of achieving at least 50% reduction of global emissions by 2050," read the G8 statement released in July this year.

So they "seek to share" a "vision" of a "goal". That's a hard target. Even more uselessly, no reference date was specified: 50% compared to when? 2049?

I wish I was back in the political sphere - I'd love to have written a statement as clever as that! I'll have you know it takes real skill!

Radio City Tower

Having received a very pleasant and complimentary e-mail from Neil Prendergast about putting photos of Liverpool on my blog I thought I’d better make the effort and put a few more on. This series is of the tower being built as a part of the St John’s Precinct project in the early 1960s.

The Radio City Tower was completed in 1965. Originally it housed a rotating restaurant, but this soon went out of business. It was then vacant until 1990 when a local radio station, Radio City, took over the tower. It is now open to the public at specified times as an observation platform.

For those who wish to see more of my Liverpool photos there are some hidden away among the postings on my Memories are Made of This Blog.

Saturday 22 November 2008

Anthony Burgess

On this day in 1993 Anthony Burgess, author of the violent and unpleasant novel “A Clockwork Orange”, died, thirty four years later than advertised! He had been diagnosed with a brain tumour in 1959 at which time doctors gave him less than a year to live. Isn’t it great when you can prove them wrong like that!

Oldies Rule OK

I just love this video -


If you were looking forward to Europeana and exploring what it contained - hard cheddar.

The European Digital Library, Europeana, will not now relaunch until December after users overloaded its servers as soon as it started. Having experienced problems on Thursday, its first day, a messsage on the home page now reads: "The Europeana site is temporarily not accessible due to overwhelming interest after its launch (10 million hits per hour). We are doing our utmost to reopen Europeana in a more robust version as soon as possible. We will be back by mid-December."

By saying ' mid-December' they will hopefully get around the 10 million hits all happening in the same hour which is what occurred on 20th November. That's the problem when you announce the launch of anything on the Internet.

I look forward to trying again some time in 'mid-December'.. ....

Friday 21 November 2008


If anyone ever doubted the seriousness of Google, the skill of its developers and the effort they are putting in to maintaining their place as number one (well above anyone with a hope of calling themselves number two) search engine just have a skim through the latest Google blog.

And yes, I know my blog is begining to sound like an advert for Google but I am so impressed.

Support science

The Guardian set up a Flickr group where people could post messages to U.S. President-elect Barack Obama; and the messages have been pouring in. Many of them have been simple good wishes. Some offer help. Others ask for help or give well-meant warnings.

At least one asks, “Support science.” Not sure about the mad scientist but in the light of the direction the US might have taken under a Palin Vice-Presidency I have to endorse the sentiment.


A number of friends of mine say “I haven’t got time to do a blog” or “I haven’t got anything to blog about”. As though they needed lots of time and required especially exciting lives to create a decent blog. Neither premise is true.

One of the attractions of many blogs is that they represent the ordinary lives of ordinary people (in so far as any individual can be ordinary). That is why I thoroughly enjoy reading people’s published diaries. A comparatively boring and ordinary life of the late seventeenth century becomes absolutely fascinating with hindsight.

For people who have vaguely thought about creating a blog but are not sure of a subject you could do worse than visit the ‘One Minute Writer’.

Without having to confine yourself to a single minute you can use his site because each day's blog gives a Writing Prompt. Two recent examples were - Write about a memorable party or gathering you attended and describe the first pet you remember having. (If you haven't had a pet, would you like one? What kind?)

And cameras and camera phones are so accessible that nowadays most people take photos – family, events, countryside, nature, pets... All these can make a super contribution to your blog.

If you’ve thought about writing a blog – do it now!

Thursday 20 November 2008

Google Earth

What did we do before Google?

Google Earth is fun as well as useful. A trip to the website yields some of the fascinating things that can be seen on Google Earth – from elephants to aeroplanes.

Clinton Lite

I apologise to many of the people who celebrated so spectacularly after the American Presidential elections. I commented how many of them seemed to expect the world to change overnight. I said “Massive change accomplished by one man – I think not.”

What I had failed to appreciate was how many of those celebrating were like Ron Sullivan in Berkeley who thought “Obama doesn’t have to walk on water. I’m expecting Clinton Lite. I’m relieved enough to yell, just that my nation hasn’t been evil/dumb enough this time to elect McCain.”

Wednesday 19 November 2008

It's one of those days

Blog List

I love the gadget that enables me to have a list of the family blogs and other blogs I regularly visit down the left hand side of my Blog page. Every time I open up my blog I have a quick check down the list and if anything is blue I know I haven’t visited that posting. I visit. And the next time I go down the list that blog posting has turned grey like the others.

The disadvantage is that if someone writes two posts in between my visits I miss one of them. I’m not overly bothered with the “More Blogs to Visit” but I don’t want to miss any in the “Friendly Bloggers” so instead I click on the Blog Title and read any posts I’ve not read before. Then I go back and click on the blue latest posting, which opens the window, and I promptly close the window again. The title of the post has then turned grey.

The only time that doesn’t work properly is if a blog has its feeds turned off or if there is no title to a posting – hint, hint.

All in all it is a brilliant time-saver.

Double delight

I had a double delight a couple of days ago. Firstly, Helen asked if I would like to visit Maonki with her and Ian at Christmas. Yippee, I love going out with Helen and Ian, I love the Chestnut Centre and especially chatting with Manoki the Giant Otter who whistles and chirrups away to his heart's content. The second delight came when I put Giant otter into Google image search and the very first image on the page was - my own (of Manoki, of course) from this very blog. Made me feel quite important for all of two seconds!

Tuesday 18 November 2008

Home remedies

The Internet is never short of home remedies and money-saving ideas. Here a few I have come across recently.

Before you head to the chemist for a high-priced inhaler filled with mysterious chemicals, try chewing on a couple of strong Peppermints. They'll clear up a stuffed nose.

Colgate Toothpaste makes an excellent salve for burns – allegedly. (Why Colgate and not others I don’t know – or perhaps Colgate was the only one tried.)

Quaker Oats for fast pain relief.... It's not for breakfast anymore! Mix 2 cups of Quaker Oats and 1 cup of water in a bowl and warm in the microwave for 1 minute, cool slightly, and apply the mixture to your hands for soothing relief from arthritis pain. Spend next half hour getting the resulting mess from your hands and under your fingernails. Ugh.

Achy muscles from a bout of the flu? Mix 1 Tablespoon of Horseradish in a cup of Olive Oil. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes, then apply it as a massage oil, for relief for aching muscles.

Sore Throat? Just mix 1/4 cup of vinegar with 1/4 cup of honey and take 1 tablespoon six times a day. The vinegar kills the bacteria and the taste is so horrible you get better in self-defence.

Cure urinary tract infections with Alka-Seltzer. Just dissolve two tablets in a glass of water and drink it at the onset of the symptoms. Alka-Seltzer begins eliminating urinary tract infections almost instantly -- even though the product was never advertised for this use.

Cover skin blemishes with a dab of honey and place an Elastoplast over it. Honey kills the bacteria, keeps the skin sterile, and speeds healing. Works overnight.

Listerine therapy for toenail fungus... Get rid of unsightly toenail fungus by soaking your toes in Listerine mouthwash. The powerful antiseptic leaves your toenails looking healthy again.

Easy eyeglass protection.. To prevent the screws in eyeglasses from loosening, apply a small drop of Crystal Clear Nail Polish to the threads of the screws before tightening them.

To disinfect a broken blister, dab on a few drops of Listerine.. a powerful antiseptic.

For bruises - soak a cotton ball in white vinegar and apply it to the bruise for 1 hour. The vinegar reduces the blueness and speeds up the healing process.

Kills fleas instantly. Dish Washing Liquid does the trick. Add a few drops to your dog's bath and shampoo the animal thoroughly Rinse well to avoid skin irritations. Good-bye fleas.

Rainy day cure for dog odour... Next time your dog comes in from the rain, simply wipe down the animal with Bounce or any dryer sheet, instantly making your dog smell springtime fresh.

Smart splinter remover... just put a drop of superglue on the splinter, let it dry, and peel the dried glue off the skin. The splinter sticks to the dried glue.
(That’s the theory but I hereby add the caveat that I am not prepared to bear responsibility for disastrous results if you try any of the above ideas!!!!)

Sylvia Plath

Sorry cannot recall where I got this photo so apologies to whoever's arm it is for failing to acknowledge it (and to the photographer!)

Monday 17 November 2008

Swiss Chocolates

Bet you’re jealous. Jo was given these by a grateful client which was very kind of him/her but Jo doesn’t eat many chocolates so I was let loose on them. I shouldn’t eat them as they are migraine triggers par excellence but whattheheckarchie, I get migraines any way without any of the triggers so I might as well enjoy life.

Now let’s see, what should it be now? Arabia – smooth milk chocolate with rich fine coffee centre – or Sienna – smooth almond and pistachio filling with nibbed pistachios in dark chocolate. Then again, I’m very tempted by Alletto – walnut with crunchy roasted nibbed hazelnuts in a creamy milk chocolate.

Decisions, decisions...

Christmas approaches

And one of the problems about buying people books as Christmas presents is that one is so tempted to dip into them oneself. Looks like I’ll have to buy Jo this one as well...

Weather forecast

GB has commented about how much more informal and intersting the NZ weather forecasters are. How about this for a weather forecast - definitely made a bit more interesting!

Sunday 16 November 2008

European Rules to change

This is not a blog about the football offside rule - unfortunately. It is to advise you that next year the European Commission (EU) rules on fruit and veg will change and, for once, the change will be for the better - i.e. it will result in more sensible rules. "Marketing standards" for 26 vegetables are being repealed. Rules to be scrapped cover: Apricots, artichokes, asparagus, aubergines, avocadoes, beans, brussels sprouts, cauliflowers, cherries, courgettes, cucumbers, cultivated mushrooms, garlic, hazelnuts in shell, headed cabbage, leeks, melons, onions, peas, plums, ribbed celery, spinach, walnuts in shell, watermelons, witloof chicory. Rules retained include: Apples, citrus fruit, kiwi fruit, lettuces and endives, peaches and nectarines, pears, strawberries, sweet peppers, table grapes, tomatoes

In the 1980s the classic anti-EU story was that "faceless eurocrats" were banning the curved cucumber. It was all the more powerful for having a solid basis in truth. Namely, Commission Regulation (EEC) No 1677/88 of 15 June 1988. Class I cucumbers must "be reasonably well shaped and practically straight (maximum height of the arc: 10 mm per 10 cm of the length of cucumber)". Class II "slightly crooked cucumbers may have a maximum height of the arc of 20 mm per 10 cm of length of the cucumber". These are allowed to have some blemishes and discolourations. Any cucumber more crooked must be packed separately and must be otherwise cosmetically perfect.

Carrots are in the same boat. Commission Regulation (EC) No 730/1999 of 7 April 1999 says they must be "not forked, free from secondary roots". Every year tonnes of perfectly-edible produce across the EU is thrown away so that when you walk into the supermarket all you see is rank after serried rank of cosmetically perfect fruit and vegetables. Recently Sainsbury's withdrew a promotion of discount Halloween-themed vegetables, saying they had realised managers could get a criminal record for selling non-standard produce. This of course is discrimination. Fruit and vegetables have feelings too! You can't judge a carrot just because it is aesthetically challenged.

At this stage I must point out that the carrots shown above were given to us by Brian from his allotment. So far as I know neither gifts nor allotment produce are covered by the EEC Regulations so I don't think I'm putting Brian's freedom in jeopardy.


Without wishing to get into the 'cute or not' debate again I should put a warning on this posting... "Caution: These pictures are so cute they may make you throw up..."

Sea Otters by Tom amd Pat Leeson

Sea Lions by Kevin Schafer

Sea Lions by Eddie Schermerhorn

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