Thursday, 29 November 2012

Nexus 7

At first the craze was on handphones.
Then it moved on to handphones with cameras.
Then it was handphones with higher megapixels camera and video recording.
Then it was the ipod, smartphones, androids.....
Now, it is all about the tablet.

Yesterday Hot UK Deals posted an offer for Nexus 7 32GB tablet for 179 pounds. A 16GB was worth 159pounds. So, the 32GB Nexus 7 was really hot stuff yesterday. It was not available for order from Carphone Warehouse.

I never wanted a tablet till yesterday. The interest in Nexus 7 made me do some research on tablets and I must say, after reading and watching a few youtube videos, I looked at my tiny Acer minibook on my study table and thought "A tablet would be better and so much lighter"


Then I started recalling when I was so happy to get my salary to buy my first laptop which was the Acer minibook. I was happy I could carry it in my handbag, like how Paris Hilton carries here chihuahua in her bag, instead lugging around with a not so pretty computer bag. To be honest, the Acer laptop was only light to carry in the handbag if I didn't pack the portable charger and socket into the same bag. But, what is the point of a powerless laptop, right? In addition to the weight issue, my laptop speakers has started giving me problems and it gets really heated up after using it for a while.

Hah, I am like writing out points as to why I should get a tablet. Just because I looked up tablets, Google ads on most sites I go to advertise tablets now, which makes it even more irresistible  Even my own blog advert is advertising about Nexus 7!

Postitive, light bulb thought: Maybe a tablet would make me read more scientific journals for my research?

Oh, there was a bit of snow today in Glasgow.

Boneless Chicken

This picture was taken by my dad's best friend on one of his travels. I guess it is a way to catch people's attention. Boneless chicken, anyone? ;P

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Bourbon biscuits

I have never heard of Bourbon biscuits until I watched Food Network channel here. It is my favourite channel to watch!

So, the chef on tv was making ice ceeam cake with bourbon biscuits. I wanted to make the cake hence I added the biscuits into my online Asda shopping cart. Yes, my housemates and I get our groceries delivered right into our living room from Asda. We found that Vegetables and fruits were fresher than Aldi and Asda's price was guranteed cheaper than Sainsbury, Tesco and Morrisons.

Anyway, back to the biscuits. I received it but I never gotten around to buy the other ingredients to make the cake. Hence, one day I opened the packet and tried it. It was really good.

I just ate some because i was so hungry as it is late and I had an early dinner. I know i should have a green apple instead;)


So today I was at the doctors again. I received my blood test results and I am perfectly healty.

The doctor said she will give me a referral letter to see a specialist... How long do I have to wait for the letter?

6-8 weeks!!!


Monday, 26 November 2012

Melanie C

I used to be a fan of Spice Girls.
I found these two videos of Mel C singing and Baby Spice duet with Mel C singing 'I know him so well".
I felt the songs were perfect to listen in December -xmas, winter, cold, dark

Overweight woman dies

This is sad.



Friday, 23 November 2012


I've just finished reading the Chronicles of Narnia.  Like many of you I read them as child, fell in love with the magical world, and every now and then I reread them as an adult.  They work on so many levels and many of the themes work as well, or better, for adults than they do as children.

This is simply a collection of random observations and thoughts: I'm quite aware that these books have been pored over by experts (particularly Christian thinkers) and there's a lot of debate on them.  I was singularly crap at literary criticism on my degree, so I'm not even going to attempt a thorough analysis!

The First Book, Published 1950

The Order of the Books

If you've read the books, you'll know there are seven of them.  They span the "life" of the magical world of Narnia from its creation in The Magician's Nephew, through to the "End of Days" in The Last Battle.  They weren't written in chronological order: the first was the most famous, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and the rest were bolted around.

This "bolting" round is most obvious in The Magician's Nephew, which strains to come up with an explanation for why there is a lamppost growing in the middle of the forest in Narnia, and why the wardrobe has the magical power it does.  The book has so obviously been written afterwards.

Similarly, given the fact that old Professor Kirke had visited Narnia as a boy in that book, his reaction to the children in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe doesn't quite follow.  I'd have expected him to jump out of his chair and scream "So it wasn't all that ganja I've been smoking: YOU'VE BEEN THERE TOO".  Or something.

We also find in The Last Battle the Professor hosting a dinner (in England) for the Narnia kids, where everyone was discussing Narnia.  Therefore presumably he'd admitted to having been there at that stage.  You get the point: it's obvious the books weren't neatly written in the chronological order that CS Lewis (apparently) preferred you to read them in.  Indeed, some academics engage in passionate argument about the order they should be read in and don't like this chronological order.  Whatever.

Now, where is Narnia? 

Through a wardrobe I hear you say!  Nope, it's in Italy: half way between Rome and Assisi. Apparently when asked, CS Lewis pulled out a 1904 copy of an atlas, and there on page 8 he'd underscored the name of the little town Narni.  He just liked the name.

The real Narnia

Christian Influence

CS Lewis was a committed atheist from the age of 15.  He apparently found Jesus in his room in Magdalen College in the Trinity Term of 1929, at the age of 30.  I'm guessing he was hiding behind a curtain or something.  In any case, Lewis described how he "gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England."

Many would say Lewis' Christian belief comes in most obviously in The Lion, Witch and The Wardrobe.  After all in it, Aslan the Lion (Son of the Emperor-Over-The-Sea) is betrayed by a Judas like figure (Edmund), is killed, comes back to life and saves the World.  Amazingly as a child I did not see this parallel at all.  I just read it as a story about a kick-ass place where animals talked.  I've heard other people say they also loved the story until they realised it was about the Crucifixion and Resurrection, and then couldn't stand it, as it is effectively about brainwashing kids with the Christian message.

I'm not Christian, but I certainly don't have a loathing for everything they stand for.  As much as I object to the really annoying ones trying to control women's reproductive functions and to stop my civil right to get married, and despite the general personal unpleasantness I've encountered from certain Christians, I feel quite the opposite actually.

As for brainwashing kids, come on, seriously: I was too thick to even "get it".  That is despite the appearance of a lamb in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, who turns into Aslan, and tells Edmund that he exists in our world.  It's about as a subtle as a 500kg of breeze blocks landing on your head.  And I *still* didn't get it:
".. there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there."
"Behold the Lamb of God"

What's interesting is that some Christians love the Narnia stories: there was a surge of enthusiasm for the first Narnia film, particularly in America.  Churches encouraged people to go and watch it and to see the Christ story represented in this way.  Others have taken a much more fundamentalist line and even object to the appearance of Father Christmas in the story, let alone all the pagan influences (nymphs, dryads, fauns, Bacchus, etc).  They describe it as "soft-sell paganism and occultism".  I've never personally felt like whipping out the Ouija Board after a hard sesh reading Prince Caspian but hey ho.

As a child I do remember disliking two of the books: The Magician's Nephew and The Last Battle.  I just didn't get them and they didn't fit in with the simple happy story telling of the other books.  They are, to me now, the most overtly Christian stories.  They are thinly veiled Narnian recreations of the Books of Genesis and Revelations.  Although I didn't identify them as such, the "God Talk" is much more overt in these works including this line from Lucy "In our world too, a Stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole word".

Now I actually find these two books the most interesting, and in the case ofLast Battle the most moving, by a mile (I actually sobbed for about 5 minutes reading this recently).  I can't help thinking they are written for adults much more than for kids.

The traditional Christian way of looking at the books (btw) is: The Magician's Nephew (Creation); The Lion Witch and The Wardrobe (Resurrection);  The Horse and His Boy (Conversion of a Heathen); Prince Caspian (restoration of true religion); The Voyage of The Dawn Treader (spiritual life); The Silver Chair (Ongoing battle with forces of darkness); The Last Battle (Last Judgement).

The Ottomans and Islam

People have argued to and fro about whether Calormen, particularly as depicted in The Horse and His Boy is meant to represent the Ottoman Empire, and whether its god, Tash is the Islamic God, Allah.

Well... let's just consider that these people wear turbans, carry curved swords, live to the south of Narnia, have a mighty empire led by a fat, corrupt old leader (the Tisroc), worship a different god to the true saviour, Aslan, and are referred to repeatedly as "darkies" in the Last Battle.  They refer to Narnia as "white barbarians", when in fact it is the land of the free with its "sweet Northern air".  Weren't the 50s a wonderful time?  I don't think there's that much to argue about here.  It's a desperately un-PC depiction of a "proud, cruel people": the Muslim Ottoman Turks viewed from a 19th century north-European perspective.

Magnificent Istanbul (Easter this year)

However, I'm going to give CS Lewis his dues.  He was writing in an entirely different era, for a start. Much like Mark Twaine's use of "n*gger" this can be used to highlight to a child how things have moved on and how unacceptable such attitudes are today.

Next, it's a little bit more complex than all that.  The Last Battle is the end of the world: it is a fight between Good and Evil.  When the world ends people are judged on their deeds, not on their religion.  Emeth is a young Calormene who has believed all his life in Tash, but finds out that all the good things he has done have in fact been in Aslan's name.  He therefore enters paradise.  Aslan tells him that likewise if people claim to be acting in his name, but do bad things, they are actually serving Tash.

That all seems remarkably cool and open-minded, and is about faith instead of religion... until you realise that Tash is actually a Satanic character who is the "opposite of Aslan".  He leaves a stench of death across the land, has a hideous bird head, and encourages sacrifice to himself.  He claims the unsaved and disappears with dragons and giant lizards into a dark void at the end of the world.  Emeth is the only Calormene to make it to paradise: presumably every other worshipper of Tash was in fact entirely evil.

Therefore he has tried and gone further than many 50s Christians might have done, but let's not put CS Lewis on the Board of Christian-Islamic Interfaith Understanding - just yet.

Old Fartism

CS Lewis was an old fart.  Again, yes, he was a product of his time, but not everyone in the 1950s had his views, by any means.  There are lots of references to "what DO they teach them in school nowadays?" - presumably he was hankering back to the good old days of the Victorian education system, even from the standpoint of what to us is a very old-fashioned ethos.

The worst example of what an old dick he was is the beginning of Dawn Treader.  It starts off magnificently, with one of the best opening lines of any book ever:
"There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it"
But then Lewis goes straight into a horrible side-swipe.  Eustace's parents are "very up-to-date and advanced people", whom he addresses as Harold and Alberta, not Father and Mother.  They are vegetarians, non-smokers and tee-totallers and wore a special kind of underclothes (!).  Their house has very little furniture and the windows were always open.  Eustace liked beetles and is a repulsive, smug, lonely little boy with no friends - the price, presumably of all these "modern" attitudes of his parents.

Similarly in The Silver Chair we find a school, Experiment House, described.  It is Co-Educational (heavens, boys and girls educated together!), where bullying was rife and all sorts of thing, "horrid things" took place because of the permissive atmosphere.  Offenders were talked to by the Head (who was a woman!!) , rather than be punished.  CS Lewis' contempt of modern attitudes is abundantly clear if somewhat amusingly framed.  At the end of the book there is an inquiry into the school and as a result:

"the Head's friends saw to that the Head was no use as a Head, so they got her made an Inspector to interfere with other Heads.  And when they found she wasn't much good at that, they got her into Parliament where she lived happily ever after."

Again people have argued to and fro about this point.  There is little denying that the constant evil character is a woman.  In The Magician's Nephew Empress Jadis is a megalomaniac murderer who has destroyed her world, Charn.  She enters Narnia (a neevil!) at its very creation and sups greedily at the tree of eternal youth, with the juice running down her face like blood.  She comes up again as the White Witch who has placed Narnia under her evil reign, and who kills Aslan (Christ) with a stone knife.  She (or a relative) comes back in The Silver Chair as the "Queen of the Underworld".  She is a beautiful, but evil, witch who shift-shapes into a poisonous green serpent.  Again her aim is to murder, enslave and destroy the world.

The theme seems to be the forces of evil are represented by women and they are the antithesis of the positive male, force, Aslan.  It is worth noting that these women are always attractive: they are enchantresses and temptresses, who are also secretly witches or serpents.  It's actually amazing that Lewis forgets to give Tash a nice pair of boobs, so clear is he apparently in his determination to cast the baddie as a woman.

Then we come to the female characters.  There are plus points and negative points about the human children.  Yes, Lucy is a phenomenally annoying little oik, but she is honest and not a traitor like her brother.  The girls are generally portrayed as taking a second place to the boys and the major issue is that if the girls do "do well" it is because they overcome their femininity and start emulating the boys.
In addtion, every "animal" character of any significance is male, not female.  Mrs Beaver's main concern is her sewing machine: how befitting of a nice 50s role back at the dam. 

Know thy place, Mrs Beaver!

The big debate comes in around Susan.  She is the only character excluded from entering paradise at the end of the Chronicles.  She remains in this world, apparently because she is now only interested in "lipsticks, nylons and invitations".  There is a terrible description of her as a vain, vacuous girl:
"She wasted all her school time wanting to be the age she is now, and she'll waste all the rest of her life trying to stay that age". 
However, Susan is also described as "no longer a friend of Narnia" meaning that she has lost her faith.  It is arguably for this reason that she does not enter paradise with the others, not because she's into lippy.  That's a bit of anathema to me: I believe that what matters (if there is such a thing as salvation) is how you lead your life, not what you believe.  The implication is also still there that she hasn't just lost her faith, it's been subsumed by being a pretty young woman.

Lewis didn't seem too keen on any of the female characters having any sexuality at all.  On the other hand compare the descriptions of Kings Caspian, Rilian, and Tirian as strapping young men.  Here's  how King Tirian appears, for example. Well HELLO. Sounds rather like my boyfriend @SteMcCormick, and were I not very happily attached, I defo would :)
"He was between twenty and twenty-five years old, his shoulders were already broad and strong and his limbs full of hard muscle, but his beard was still scanty.  He had blue eyes and a fearless, honest face."
Also, Ben Barnes as Prince Caspian. Mmm.

Anyway, the conclusion is: let's also not put CS Lewis on any Equal Opportunity Boards either, just to be on the safe side.


Lastly - one of the reasons I find the writing so glorious, despite ALL of the issues I've highlighted is the blending of sources.  Lewis was an incredibly learned man who drew on medieval Celtic, Roman and Greek elements which he blended in beautifully.  I can remember squeeing with excitement as we read the 1150 text "de Reis van Sint Brandaan" in Medieval Dutch at university.  It was The Voyage of the Dawn Treader!  He'd taken big chunks of this (originally Irish) piece and seamlessly sewn it into his Narnia story.

It's the Ruined City of Charn!

When I was in Turkey this Easter all I could think of was Narnia (yup, I'm odd, I'll admit it).  "Aslan" actually is the word for Lion in Turkish.  The description of Tashbaan, the capital of Calormen, was so clearly based upon Istanbul, with the Tisroc (Sultan)'s palace on the top of the hill.  The ruins of Ephesus looked like the destroyed city of Charn to me.  The City of the Giants was Hierapolis.

Even the imagery of entering paradise through a doorway in The Last Battle is entirely Islamic - albeit via the Christian Stable.  In every mosque you will find a representation of this door and you pray towards it.  Finally, we have the White Witch's offering Edmund Turkish Delight, which I stuffed myself with in the Spice Bazaar.  I wonder whether CS Lewis ever went to Turkey, or what his interest was in the place.


There are so many reasons to object to these books its untrue.  They are arch-conservative, sexist, racist, shockingly un-PC about Islam, full of heavy Christian proselytising AND (worst of all) they're anti-vegetarian.

Yet here I am, a signed-up Tofu muncher, in 2012, wishing I hadn't just finished reading The Last Battle and feeling that it won't be long before I start again at the beginning of The Magician's Nephew.  I love Narnia and I love CS Lewis's writing.  If you haven't had a read in a while, or have never read them as an adult, I'd encourage you to.  There is an awful lot there and they are so clearly not just children's books.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Flourless Chocolate Brownie

Flourless Chocolate brownie I made turned out pretty good. It was a hit with some because it was moist, while others preferred the dry type of brownie. I did emphasise 'flourless' which means its bound to be moist.

The top of the brownie was crispy while the inside was moist and rich with chocolate. The texture when one bite was taken, was sinful yet orgasmic!
Truthfully, I liked it both ways - either straight out of the oven or after being refrigerated. I also made chocolate sauce to compliment the brownie, but it was not necessary as the brownie was moist enough.

Flourless chocolate brownies are highly recommended for gluten-free diets.

The Disappearance of Sally Bercow

No, this isn't a story in a tabloid; no it's not the Mail attacking one of its favourite targets: it's the Independent, which is a newspaper that I, like many others, generally greatly respects:

How do you read that headline?  It seems to me that a court has made a specific order, possibly directed at Sally Bercow, and it has been established that she breached it.  The "AGAIN" is there just to emphasise what a truly stupid woman she is: she just never learns.  

Read the piece and you'll discover this was the latest "example of her Twitterrhoea" - yes, they are actually saying that liquid excrement comes out of her mouth on Twitter.  Perhaps it's just me, but the description of her as "fiercely independent" of her husband, "defiant" and a "complicated woman" is quite telling as to what the author actually thinks her role should be in the marriage.

The story relates to two things: let's deal with them both.

1) Breaching a Section 39 Order under the Children and Young Persons Act 1933

This section states that the Court "may direct that no newspaper report of the proceedings shall reveal the name, address or school, or include any particulars calculated to lead to the identification, of any child or young person concerned in the proceedings..."

The case we are talking about was widely reported in the press in September and October.  There was an absolute media frenzy, with pictures, video footage and the girl's identity produced all over the place.  The BBC reported last week that her teacher had appeared in court. 

What this legal provision does is to try to protect the girl from future reports and stories that affect her getting her life back together.   This is absolutely correct: the press used its power to help her be identified and eventually returned to the UK, and now it must butt out of her life.  That's why the BBC story talks only of a "teenage girl".

It is of course an absurdity to pretend that if you wanted to, you could not find out the girl's name by a a quick search.  There are of course literally hundreds of news articles that can be searched for from before the s39 Order that quickly reveal her name.  Newspapers are not required to remove old stories: she must simply be protected going forward from the date of the Order.  Once a tap is opened and water has poured out, you cannot put it back in the pipe.  The aim here, again, is to stop unjustified future media intrusion.

There is some suggestion that in this case the specific court order went further than prohibiting new newspaper reports, and stated that the girl should not be named "by any media" [postscript, see below].  If so, Sally's tweet would presumably have been covered.  How she, you or I was supposed to have knowledge of this is beyond me.  Ignorance is of course no defence, but even as a lawyer looking at the statute itself, I cannot see any culpability.  I would have to dig round case law to see how the provision has been interpreted or extended, and see this actual Court Order itself, in order for me to establish it.  

Moreover, Sally did not name the girl: she simply gave her first name.  It is not an uncommon name.  If someone had been in a coma for 3 months, awoke, and read Sally's tweet they could not identify that particular child from that tweet.

If this Court Order does say what the press is now reporting, arguably just providing a link in a tweet to a national news story from September or October is enough for you or I to breach it.  How far does it go?  As my pal "@StiffPigeon" pointed out, if you leave out an old copy of the Daily Telegraph in a dentist's waiting room, could you have named the girl by the failure to clear the paper away, and face a £5000 fine?  

I'm pretty sure the law would not be applied so idiotically, but no matter: Sally has already been charged (and found guilty) by the media.  This is despite the fact there is no suggestion she is actually being pursued by the Police for her tweet that mentioned only the girl's first name in the context of an honest question.

2) Defamation Action Linking Lord McAlpine to a Paedophile Scandal

If reports are correct, Sally Bercow has received a letter before action because of a tweet that said “Why is Lord McAlpine trending *innocent face*”.  It may have to be for a court to decide whether that is defamatory or not.  All I can note is that she did not accuse Lord McAlpine of anything in that tweet.  She was commenting on the fact his name was already trending because of the entirely inappropriate gossip and libel that was already circulating about him on Twitter.

I read *innocent face* as being ironic; other people may take it at face value - in which case there is no culpability and it's simply a question of fact and a statement that she does not know the answer.  I personally think the tweet was foolish, and that the views she tweeted that Lord McAlpine's lawyers are "bullies" and "ambulance chasers" should have been kept private.  If it does come to a defamation finding against her, these statements may adversely affect the level of damages awarded.

What I do not think she did, on any level, was engage in the malicious gossip and blatant defamation that many people on Twitter did.  She was foolish: we are all foolish at times in our life and she has admitted that herself.  She was, however, substantially less foolish than other people around this time on Twitter.

Bullying and Sexism

I like Sally Bercow's tweets.  I do not always agree with them, but that applies to most people on Twitter.  The whole point of the medium is for us to share views and discuss things.  

What I have repeatedly seen in reporting of her is a poring over anything she tweets, unfair extremely personal criticism, and a narrative that frankly suggests she is a woman who should shut her mouth and know her place.  She, like Louise Mensch, is an attractive, eloquent and woman who is not afraid to voice an opinion.  There seems to be a level of sexism and bullying applied to them both which is unfair and wrong.  This applies both to the way the press treats them and to a level of personal abuse applied to them both.

Sally Bercow's "latest gaffe" is not idiotic to me. It is not stupid, it is not spiteful, and it is something anyone could do.   It is far from clear to me that she has actually breached a Court Order and it does not justify the Independent saying liquid shit comes out of her mouth or establishing in the Court of Media that she has done so.  On the libel front, it is up to her lawyers and possibly a court to determine if she defamed Lord McAlpine with her "innocent face" tweet.  Her case is far less clear cut (morally and legally) than thousands of others.  She, however, is an easy target to go after.  

I'm sure her lawyers' advice is prudent at the moment, but it is sad to have seen her tweet last night: 

"Looking at tweets but (sadly) can't reply (#lawyerswhippedmyass #asdidMrB). So text/email/DM me if you're a mate. Hope 2 b back soon. xx."
I hope she, and other women tweeters who are routinely bullied because they are high-profile, is not hounded off Twitter and that this a temporary thing.  There is also some suggestion that it could be the action of a hacker that has led to the deletion.  She has 28 days to reactivate her account - I hope for her, for general freedom of speech, and for the presence of someone I regard as a kind, interesting and refreshingly honest person on my feed, that she does return.  

You don't have to agree with my personal view of Sally, but I'd hope you see the point as it relates to others.

Postscript: I've been sent a link to this interesting High Court case by lawyer @ljanstis that was published yesterday.  

This in turns makes we wonder about the accuracy of the Sky News article that the specific S39 order did in fact encompass "all media".  This, along with my concern about Sally having not actually having given the girl's full name, adds to the fact that press reporting of this issue was even more unfair.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Everything is fine

Maybe there was a reason for me to be here, at this time, this year.
I am happier this time... That is all that matters :)

Updates on Stirling, Loch Awe and Oban soon... lol.. maybe

Photography love

I am so in love with these photographs! In love and impressed.. Gives me a calming effect
Just a few favourites below:

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Newsnight and Twitter Smears

It was announced earlier that the BBC is to pay Lord McAlpine £185,000 because of the Newsnight programme that carried an interview in which a victim of child abuse said one of his abusers was "a leading Tory politician of the Thatcher era”.

Newsnight did not name the politician, so you may be wondering why it is they have agreed to pay out such a substantial sum.  Read this post, which deals with that point better than I can - but as far as I can tell, essentially, they are liable because of the fact Lord McAlpine had falsely and widely been named on Twitter involved before the programme was aired.

I'm a huge fan of the BBC in general.  I think they do a superb job.  However, a responsible editor would have pulled the story with the knowledge that names were being circulated on Twitter.  That said, it's also easy to see this as "damned if you do, damned if you don't".  If they had pulled the programme there would have been screams of protest of cover-up and backing down.

There are two other big failings of the Newsnight team which also mustn't be forgotten.  A responsible editor would also have put the photograph of the suspect before the victim - that would have led to the central allegation that it was a "leading Tory politician of the Thatcher era" having been cut out of the programme.  They should also have contacted the alleged perpetrator to hear his side of the story.  They did not do so.

On this occasion the BBC failed badly and they have admitted their mistake.  We licence payers will foot the bill.
I perceive BBC conduct as negligent, rather than malicious.  In my view, the malicious parties in this instance is every person who gossiped on Twitter with absolutely no personal knowledge of the truth regarding who the person involved was.  This includes those who RTd names.  It is absolutely no defence morally or legally to say that you are repeating an allegation someone else made.  It was an angry, ugly group brandishing their now famous Twitchforks.

At least Newsnight had interviewed the victim and done research, no matter how imperfectly.  What those who hit the RT button did was to name someone with no more basis than "someone else said it was him, so it must be true."

If you think none of this matters - so what he's a millionaire Thatcherite - etc, I wish you had heard the interview with Lord McAlpine on Radio 4 today.  He is a frail 70 year old man who has a weak heart.  He is absolutely innocent of this crime.  The victim has accepted that.  The BBC has accepted that.  It was horrendous to hear him speak, actually with great dignity and a surprising lack of anger considering his life has been torn apart in the last two weeks.  If you think it doesn't matter, just put yourself in his shoes, or imagine it is your grandfather.  It is a very odd, callous, supposedly caring lefty who says "so what" because they object to his politics, no matter how strongly.  How grotesquely inhumane.

Two wrongs do not make a right - they create a bigger wrong.  There is a man out there who was repeatedly abused as a boy and now the entire media show is instead concentrated on another wrong.  This was caused in large part by the users of Twitter who were so desperate to find a guilty party without a court of law or any due process involved.  Do you feel good about that?  I don't. 

It is actually very, very simple and this is something everyone on Twitter is going to have to learn.  Do not spread or repeat serious allegations and smears that can destroy someone's life, without personal knowledge of and/or research into the truth of those statements.  It is just demonstrably wrong to accuse someone of something such serious crimes on the basis of blind gossip.  It goes against the basic assumptions of being innocent until proven guilty, it removes the protections that exist in court regarding evidence, and it prejudices a fair trial.  It is lynch-mob "justice".

Twitter is such a powerful tool, but it can also injure and cause huge harm.  I want the issue concentrated back on the abuse that took place: thanks to Twitter I'm not sure that's ever going to happen.

It's Right to Drive on the Left

Anyone wondered why we intelligent Brits drive on the wrong side of the road?  You may well have been to other parts of the world and seen it's not just us who have this peculiar habit.  I'd like to set out the story here of why we're actually absolutely correct - and naturally the rest of the World (well, much of it) is wrong.

A Scene from Monty Python

Clippity clop. You have to imagine you're on a horse and you're riding down some lane in the Middle Ages. It's pretty much a scene from Monty Python.  You spy a stranger coming the other way. Do you veer to the left hand side to pass him, or do you veer to the right?

The answer is obvious. Given that most people are right-handed, you will choose to head to the left hand side. Then your left flank is protected by trees, bushes or whatever else is by the side of the road, and more importantly, you can protect yourself with your right (sword) hand. The stranger will do the same.

This is how it ever was. It's not just in the Middle Ages: we have some evidence that the Romans drove on the left. There is an ancient stone quarry in Swindon in England that show ruts going into them that are less pronounced on the left hand side. The carts went in empty and came out full of stones. The ruts are far deeper on the right (as you face the entrance): ergo, the traffic moved on the left.

Blame the French: They Messed It Up

What a sensible state of affairs! Now who could we possibly blame for messing this up? Well one story says it was the French and that Napoleon changed first France, then the countries he conquered, to the right. Another says it was the Americans and that is was related to large freight wagons where the driver sat not on a seat, but on a horse. For some reason it made it easier to ride on the right with this arrangement.

Whatever the reason, there was a steady drift from traffic moving from the left to the right during the 19th century. Much of continental Europe converted during this time, but it was by no means universal. I've seen photographs of Budapest from 1910 where all the traffic was on the "correct" side. I've visited the spot where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was shot in Sarajevo: his car was travelling on the left when it took its fateful wrong turn.

When the Austria-Hungary Empire broke up at the end of the the First World War, many of the former territories considered it as modernising step to switch their traffic to the right. However, check out the Captain's car in the Sound of Music. It is a pre-1938 model, which was designed to be driven on the left. It therefore has its steering wheel on the right hand side. Only in 1938 was the whole of Austria finally forced to drive on the right after the German Anschluss.

If you go to Prague you will see vintage cars that offer tours of the city. If you want to know which ones are original, and which ones are modern day copies, look where the steering wheel is. The original pre-1938 ones have the wheel on the "British" side, just like the ones below. The Germans forced Czechoslovakia onto the right, just as did Denmark (1940) and Norway (1940).

old fashioned cars in Europe

By the end of World War Two, we therefore have the whole of Europe on the left, with the exception of countries that were never occupied. Sweden and Iceland changed over in the 1960s: in Sweden the traffic switched on 3 September 1967 which was designated as "H-Day". It was a massive endeavour: every road sign, traffic light and road junction had to be changed. Speed limits were temporarily lowered to a snail's pace to prevent accidents. The poor Elks were terribly confused.

This just leaves Britain, Ireland (and former British colonies Cyprus and Malta) on the left within Europe. We stand proud! The Channel Islands, the only part of Britain occupied by the Germans during WW2 and forced to drive on the right, were actually the only place to switch it back to the left the moment the troops had left. We can be terribly stubborn.

The Rest of the World

How about the rest of the world then? Broadly (there are exceptions), anywhere that Britain was the former colonial or dominant power drives on the left. This means Hong Kong, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, India (that tiny country of a billion people), Bermuda, much of the Carribean etc. Even in Canada, where US influence is strong and there is a long land border, four provinces remained on the left until the 20s and Newfoundland was on the left until 1947.

Where France or Spain was the colonial power, they drive on the right. This means much of Africa, South America and some of Asia. Some countries were never under colonial influence: Japan remains on the left.

Sensible Samao and My Dirty Secret

So there we have it. It is not random as to which side of the road you drive on. There is a good historic reason for driving on the left. We can also blame either France or US for this new-fangled driving on the right nonsense, and we Brits can rest assured that it's not just we who drive on the left, as is often thought. In fact 164 countries and territories in the World drive on the right and 76 countries and territories on the left. This equates to 66.1% on the right and 33.9% on the left. One terribly sensible country, Samao, bucked the trend by switching from right to left as recently as 2009. They did so to take advantage of cheap second hand cars from Australia and New Zealand, but never mind, it was a good move anyway.

Where do I prefer to drive? You might have noticed that this piece is a little tongue in cheek.  Despite living in Britain and being well-used to driving all round the world on either the left or right, I have a guilty secret. I never find it hard adjusting to driving on the right. It comes naturally to me. I do have more of a problem remembering when I get back to Dover and have to be on the left again. But shh, don't tell anyone, will you?

This piece by me was originally posted on the ACIS Tours Website

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Blood test

Free - in Scotland because I am a student :)

Medicine with prescription is free of charge too! This encourages me to visit the GP more than going straight to a pharmacist, eventhough I might just be having a minor ailment.

Monday, 12 November 2012


MY sleeping pattern is such a blunder right now. I can say I only recall one day in Glasgow where I slept like a baby for 8 hours at a decent time too! Other than that day, I sometimes sleep at 12am, 3am, 4am... and wake up by 8am regardless of how late I slept...... Then sometimes during the day I get sleepy.. but there are plenty of things to do so I hardly nap, I do my stuff and then its midnight again......
This means that I am having insufficient sleep till I am tempted to get some drowsy cough mixture to make me sleep.

Maybe its jet lag syndrome??? I mean, when its 12am in Glasgow, it is 7am in Malaysia...... I am so awake at 12am!

Some people might think I am still in Malaysia........

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The Times They Are A Changin'

I'm on a complete high.  Despite predictions of a narrow victory, Barack Obama seems to have swept back to power.  The latest results I have is that he won the popular vote by 59,298,913 votes to Romney's 56,801,964.  If Florida does go to Obama, as looks almost certain currently, the President will have 322 electoral college votes to 206.  It is what I think they technically call a landslide.

There is another big story of interest to me here though, apart from the general rejection of right-wing, conservative philosophy.   There are six US states where same-sex marriage is permitted, but marriage equality was achieved either through law suits or by lawmakers, rather than as a result of direct votes by the population.

Last night, the State of Maine became the first US state to introduce marriage equality.  It has been joined by the State of Maryland and (subject to finally counting) by the State of Washington.  In Mid-West Minnesota, a ballot to introduce a ban on same sex marriage into the constitution was defeated by voters.  These smiling young smiling young faces of discrimination who voted yesterday to enshrine prejudice won't be too happy this morning.

This is massive.  LGBT people are in the minority everywhere, but voters have shown that they do care about issues outside their own personal interests.  Social issues and equality do matter to them. 

There will now be 9 US states where same-sex marriage is legal.  Federal appeal courts have repeatedly struck down the "Defence of Marriage Act"* and it is likely to end in the US Supreme Court.  The President himself took the principled, risky and politically unnecessary step of declaring that he was in favour of marriage equality during the campaign.

Meanwhile, closer to home, yesterday the highest court in Spain declared that same sex marriage is legal and constitutional.  This was in the face of an aggressive challenge by the country's conservative party and the Catholic hierarchy.  Although mired in arguments, the majority of the population in France supports same-sex marriage and its government is drawing up plans to introduce it there.  This will bring to 12 the number of countries with full marriage equality.

Back in May I saw the above tweet.  Its words have really stuck with me.   The fight isn't over yet, but we will get there.  The times, they are a changin'.  They are changing faster than I would ever have thought even two years ago.  An acceptance that lesbians, gays and bisexuals should have equal rights rather than be classed as inferior is rapidly becoming a reality.  The forces of reaction, discrimination and social conservatism are losing.

I don't want to pretend the discrimination I face is anything like that faced by people who have suffered in the past.  It isn't, by a million miles.  However, this picture sums up beautifully how widely accepted societal norms can change in a very short space of time and how we look back on it with genuine incomprehension now.

Thank you America.  Thank you voters in Maine, Maryland, Washington and Minnesota.  Thank you Spanish Constitutional judges.  History is on our side.  Equality is right, it is just, and it is coming.

* Correction: thanks for the comment below. DOMA was penned by Republican Representative Bob Barr and was passed by the Republican dominated Congress.  Every Republican but one, in both houses, voted in favour of it.  A White House spokesman described it as "gay baiting" but President Clinton, not President Bush, signed it into law.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Sperm cooked

If you are a guy, and you and your wife are having difficulties making a baby, it could be because:
- You are a chef ie: the heat from the stove affects the sperms
- You use your laptop on your lap

I read it here: Daily Mail

Hmm maybe thats why guys were not meant to cook lol

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Anger measurement

So, you are not man enough if you get angry over tiny matters.

Friday, 2 November 2012

I am in Glasgow..

It feels like I have been in Glasgow forever already. Being back to Glasgow this time round did not feel as exhilirating like the first time. I knew where to get the bus to campus from the airport. I knew when to press the button for the bus driver to drop me off. I knew where I was lugging my luggage to. I was mentally and physically prepared to WALK and CARRY my almost 30kg worth of goods up the four flights of stairs, if I were to get the highest floor to stay... Which I did! Basically, not feeling clueless or not being a noob in this city practically makes Glasgow feel like home.

My housemate: Funny how we never spoke to each other for three years and now we speak to each other everyday!
The only huge difference compared to KL is that I do not have the luxury of sitting in a car to get from A to B... BUT I have the luxury of using my legs to walk to get from A to B. Heh it is a 'luxury' because in KL, the chances of me having to drag my heavy luggage for a 20 minute walk is slim. In KL, once I arrive at the airport, I collect my luggage and get a trolley and someone who loves me will have a car waiting.... :)The flight to Glasgow was bearable. I was always the kind of person that gets pretty comfortable in an airplane. I can sleep the entire journey, without meds. As usual, I requested for a window seat so I get to see whatever awesome view there is outside. Its not everytime I get to see views from up above. So, why not grab the opportunity when given :)
Emirates served awesome food! It was also pretty filling that I had to save the bun for another time. The list of in-flight movies were abundant. I managed to watch the movies I wanted to, but never got the chance to watch when in KL. I watched the Katy Perry's Part Of Me movie. It was so good, I loved it.
Then, I watched A Little Bit Of Heaven, a romantic comedy starring Kate Hudson. Damn that movie made me cry a river during the flight. I had to constantly cover my face with the pillow because I did not want others to see me cry. It was such a heart warming movie. Then, while I was watching another movie, I saw the person sitting next to me watching A Little Bit Of Heaven. She was a Japanese lady. I was looking at her to see if she was crying or not..... At first no emotions from her, so I thought I was the crazy sensitive one. But, eventually I saw her take a tissue and dab her eyes... Now, thats how good the movie was:):)

What is currently happening to me in Glasgow? The weather is so dry that when I eat m&m's with peanut my pimples start popping out like nobody's business. I tried so many times to call to make an appointment to see a doctor at the Infirmary but they dont bloody pick up the phoen. So, I have been delaying my doctor's visit since my arrival.I should really do it soon before the snow falls and ice comes and then I will have to wait till spring to see the doc *yes, I am exaggerating* Temperatures in Glasgow are single digits already.It is cloudy mostly.
There are days when it get sunny and everyone falls in love with the sun when we are in Glasgow. Such a rare sight! THe sunlight does not burn like the one in KL
To try to cure my pimples, I bought vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and carrots.... I left it in the shelf till some became mouldy. So, in one day I had to cook all the good looking vege and spent the entire week finishing it. That is why I hate buying vegetables. I procrastinate when it comes to cooking vegetables. Feels like too much effort to cut, wash and peel off the skin. And then have to stand in front of the stove and boil it which then makes my shirt stink. But for a better pimpleless face, I need to cultivate the habit of eating those greens. Heh, my apples were in the fridge for a month before I ate it :P
My hand itches when I am back in Glasgow to try to experiment new ways of making things in the kitchen. Basically, its making a meal with whatever things I have in my fridge.Heres one: Bread topped with garlic, butter, smoked salmon, mozzarella cheese and McDonalds chilli sauce! Its a pizza la. Absolutely fatty but satisfyin to my tastebuds.
People ask me if there was anything new in Glasgow. I found out there was a Morrisons nearby.
My brother's injured leg because he twisted it while playing basketball!
I am trying a more healthier approach to my food intake. So, to start off, I change my choice of breakfast. At first it was chocolate milk or mot milo. Now, because I can make yoghurt thanks to Easiyo, strawberry homemade yoghurt with berries cornflakes has been my daily breakfast staple.
My pancakes
Lamb beriyani
Two of my other housemates are Indian, so they were using these sauces which I have never heard of. Balti, Jalfrezi, Masala.... so on. I had the urge to eat lamb beriyani, so I googled and they said to use Balti curry paste. Its actually so easy to find these sauces in the supermarket. I ended up using the Balti sauce to mix with my cabbage, carrots and potatoes. It tasted like dahl. Jalfrezi is good to make curry chicken. I found beriyani sauce in Aldi selling for 99p. I made Lamb Beriyani with it and it turned out really well and spicy too :)thats all for now.....

Stonewall and Bigot of the Year

Stonewall, the LGBT charity and campaign group, has been widely criticised for its "Bigot of the Year" prize that is included in its annual awards.  Last night the prize was awarded to Cardinal O'Brien, the head of the Scottish Catholic Church, following votes cast by 10,000 supporters of the charity. 

The Catholic Church has responded and accused the "the depth of the intolerance" of Stonewall and a willingness to demean people who do not share their views.  Corporate sponsors Barclays and Coutts have both said they will rethink their support following complaints from Christian campaigners about the singling out of individuals for the bigot category.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien

I've seen members of the gay community both supporting and criticising Stonewall this morning and for what it's worth, here are my own thoughts.

Worthy Recipients

The people who were nominated for the award are as follows:
  • Lord Ken Magnnis: had the Ulster Unionist whip taken away from him after saying that homosexuality was "unnatural and deviant" and equated it to bestiality on BBC radio
  • Archbishop Philip Tartaglia: Roman Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow, who said the late David Cairns MP may have died because he was gay
  • Father Simon Lokodohe: former Roman Catholic priest and now Ugandan minister.  Suggested gay rights activists recruit children into homosexuality.  Supporter (but not initiator) of the "Kill the Gays Bill" which prohibits any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex and introduces life imprisonment for offences, or the death penalty in some cases.
  • Alan Craig: leader of the Christian People's Alliance and Member of Council of the Movement for Christian Democracy.  Coined the word "Gaystapo" by comparing compared gay equality advocates to Nazis
  • Cardinal Keith O'Brien: head of Scottish Roman Catholic Church.  Described gay people as "captives of sexual aberrations", has been at the vanguard of attacks on marriage equality proposals which he describes as "madness" and has likened to slavery
Pick whichever of these fine "Christian" chaps you will: I'd say their views were all pretty abhorrent and they deserve to be condemned for them, especially by a charity that is devoted to furthering LGBT equality and the well-being of its community.  These are vile views. 

I can't say who the obvious winner is, personally, but I would just say in passing that Stonewall is a British charity, with a UK focus, so the fact that Father Lokodohe did not win is not that great of a surprise to me.  I also know that Cardinal O'Brien's powerful position has meant his words have far more influence than the others'.  He has taken to the Daily Telegraph to set out his opposition to marriage equality, required every Catholic church in Scotland to read out a letter opposing the plans and has called them a "grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right".

The Word Bigot

Much of the criticism of the award has come from people pointing out the narrow linguistic meaning of the word "bigot".  They perhaps have a point: the term relates specifically to those who are strongly partial to their own group and who are intolerant of those whose opinion differs. 

I therefore can see why Stonewall's calling O'Brien a bigot for not agreeing on marriage equality could attract this response.  Stonewall objects to his views on marriage equality, and is therefore intolerant itself.  It becomes a bit of a silly tit-for-tat if we reduce it to this argument and we are missing the point. 

My suggestion is to rename the award "Homophobe of the Year".  We are not then framing the issue as intolerance of other people's views, but simply "fear of, or contempt of, lesbians and gay men".  Seems much more fitting to me: O'Brien has shown contempt of lesbians and gay men and of their dignity and basic rights.

Should there be such an Award?

Yes.   I'm afraid that as long as people feel it is appropriate to say that my behaviour is unnatural/ deviant, that people die early because they are gay, that gay people should be killed, that I'm a captive of sexual aberration, or that if I wish to marry the man I love this is a grotesque subversion of a human right I reserve the right to call them out on it, to object to it, and even to mock them for it.

I therefore think Stonewall's approach is broadly correct and that undeserved deference is being given to O'Brien.  I am quite sure that is simply because he is a Cardinal, and many think he is therefore deserving of some special respect for his abhorrent views and actions.  If an LGBT campaign group does not draw attention to them, who is supposed to? 

It is also a typically British response to try to mask the debate in terms of "reasonableness".  Oh, it's not polite to call such a terribly respectable and important man a bigot!  Oh, if we do that we risk removing all meaning from the term.. etc.  There is no need to resort to the type of abuse he has employed, but the strength of his repeated utterances and attacks on the rights of LGBT people makes me understand why many feel his has forfeit his right to polite reasonableness.  Keith O'Brien is in my view a homophobe who attacks LGBT people, and deserves to be labelled as one.

There are justified narrow linguistic reasons to object to the "bigot" word, but leaving that aside, let's praise Ben Summerskill for having the courage not to stand down on this, even in the face of corporate pressure and threats to funding from the banks.  I'm with Owen Jones on this:

Thursday, 1 November 2012

The Clocks Have Gone Back

The clocks went back last weekend and the long, dark evenings are with us again.  This little post draws together a few random reflections on this - given it's dark, wet and cold outside, sit down snug and give it a read.  I think my last few posts have been far too earnest: this lighthearted fluff on my blog is much my staple!

The Best Time for "Love"

I kick off my reflections with a wonderful little piece of medieval Dutch literature from the "Abele Spelen" collection of plays.  It is called "Vanden Winter ende vanden Somer" (About Summer and Winter).  It's all about shagging and I studied it as part of my ever-so-eccentric Modern and Medieval German and Dutch degree.  The little play dates from about 1350, and the original handwritten manuscript is a tiny fragile bound book that was found by chance.  It is housed in the Royal Library in Brussels and is one of the oldest surviving, non-religious, West European plays.

The play: It's actually just about shagging

It is a beautiful, funny piece, which essentially looks at the question of whether "love" is better in the summer or in the winter.  The character of Winter claims that his season is best because of long, snug nights to play the "game of love".  Somer counters this by claiming that with the beautiful weather and sunshine, his is the "happy season for happy hearts".

The two characters get into an argument, challenge each other to a duel, and the death of one or both of them is only averted when the Goddess of Love, Venus, intervenes.  She points out that the year would be completely out of kilter with one of the seasons missing, and that love is equal regardless of the season.  Harmony is restored and everyone can go home and get down to it.

Interestingly, it seems "Winter" was actually correct  This table from the New York Times at least suggests quite convincingly that more babies are born in September than any other time of year.  Every single one of the top 10 most common birthdays falls between 9 and 21 September.  You may therefore be depressed about the weather and lack of light in the evenings, but there are, it seems compensations...  people shag on the dark, cold evenings of December!

The Clocks Have Gone Back

Summer time is, in my opinion, a wonderful idea.  It was first proposed by a New Zealander in the late 19th century, but wasn't introduced until 30 April 1916, in Germany.  It was a means of saving energy during summer time in order to help with the War effort.  It was quickly copied by other countries.

It wasn't until 1996 that the European Union standardised the dates when the clocks moved forwards and backwards: before that I seem to remember British clocks moved back in October, and most Continental ones moved back already in September.  That was quite confusing because for 4 weeks the time was the same in Britain as it was in France.  Now European Summer Time runs nice and uniformly from the last Sunday in March through to the last Sunday in October.  

That point is worth reflecting on: it's not 6 months on GMT and 6 months on BST for us; in fact we are on "summer time" for 7 months a year, and "winter time" for only 5 months a year.  If you don't like the evenings being dark early, that's some consolation.

Light, bright evenings - remember them?!

The Evenings are Drawing In

Next, it is obviously getting darker earlier at the moment.  What you might not realise, though, is that although the days are "becoming shorter" the speed at which this is happening is not by any means constant.

We all know that the "longest day" is 21 June and the "shortest day" is 21 December.  What happens after 21 June, is the sun rises later and sets earlier.  This process is at first quite gradual, but it picks up speed and is at its fastest around the Vernal (or Autumn) Equinox on 21 September.

To provide some examples of this, for London, this year:

22 June had 6 seconds less daylight than 21 June 
2 July had 1 minute 5 seconds less daylight than 1 July
22 July had 2 minutes 34 seconds less daylight than 21 July
22 September had 3 minutes and 54 seconds less daylight than 21 September

You can see what is happening: as we move away from the longest day, the speed at which we lose daylight speeds up.  The loss of light is at its fastest around 21 September, and then it slows down.  Tomorrow's daylight will be 3 minutes and 32 seconds shorter than today's: the rate at which the days are shortening is slowing down and will almost grind to a halt as we hit December.  There will be just 3 seconds less daylight on 21 December than on 20 December.  The days will then lengthen after the Winter Equinox, but very slowly at first.  By 21 March, however, we'll be adding a stonking 3 minutes 58 seconds light to each day.

If you want a play with all these times, then click here.  You can change the location and you'll find the speed of acceleration and deceleration is more extreme the further north you are: Glasgow loses 4 minutes 35 seconds on 21 September, while in Finland it is 5 minutes 25 seconds.

What does all this mean?  Well in a nutshell, the days are "shortening", but we're now over the worst in terms of the speed of this process.  Each day will be "shorter", but it's just 7 weeks to go until 21 December and the speed of the loss of daylight will be slower each day until then.  That's *great* news, isn't it?

Marking the Seasons

Plenty of people suffer from the very genuine condition of "Seasonal Affective Disorder" and I don't wish to belittle the way this affects them at all.  Others, like me, just get fed up with the long, dark evenings.  This is particularly the case if our boyfriends are studying at Manchester University and we can't do rude things with them to pass the time in an attempt to confirm that "Winter" of the Abele Spelen was entirely correct in his argument.

I've found that instead of being in denial about the longer evenings, I do a few practical things that mark the change from British Summer Time to GMT.  I switch my clothes over: my winter ones are stored away in boxes under my bed and come out when the clocks change.  This is a trick I learned from my Mutti, who always used to do this with us as kids.  I've never quite understood the English phenomenon of not wearing any clothes when the weather is freezing, particularly when queuing in a skimpy shirt or t-shirt outside a nightclub in the snow.  If it's winter, put a bloody coat, gloves and scarf on.

Save the Environment! Wear a Onesie

I wear thick sweaters indoors at home too, with the temperature at 19C - not a t-shirt, wasting energy heating the place to 22C.  It's great houses are better insulated, double glazed and centrally heated nowadays, but is that a reason to pretend it's still summer and dressing accordingly indoors?  Since discovering the the wonders of the Onesie I dress up as a tiger or a monkey when at home and can knock the heating down even lower.  They're sooooo snug and I look forward to the winter just to have an excuse to put mine on.

My winter boots for walking the dog also come out when the clocks change.  I change my duvet over from a light one to a thick goose down one and I light candles in the evening.  It makes the place feel warm and atmospheric.  I also have summer and winter curtains.  My summer curtains are light cream coloured.  My winter ones are dark chocolate brown.  I switch them over when the clocks change and they completely affect the look and mood of my little cottage.  The winter ones give it a warm, cosy feel, while the summer ones make it feel airy and bright.  I sound like some toss-pot from an interior design programme don't I?  Splendid.

Beige Mats! Useless in Winter, but oh so nice in the Summer
I also have two sets of mats for my car, which I also change over the clocks change.  I have black ones for the winter, which cope better with muddy shoes and dirt; and I have beige ones for the summer, which look and feel much more luxurious from March to October.  Having two sets of curtains and two sets of car mats is hardly a necessity and it's not cheap...  but I really do like it. 

Summary: Go With It
It's so easy to have that sinking feeling at this time of year... and it's even easier once the brightness and excitement of Christmas has come and gone.   I live on a frequently cold, rainy, dark little island off the coast of Europe.  I've come to realise there is very little point in wishing we had Californian weather year round: we don't.  Given this is the case, I try to make the best of it.

Therefore I've some funny little routines that mean I try to go with the flow of the natural year, rather than denying it.  I like marking the change in the seasons by bringing out a new set of clothes, and storing away the bulk of my t-shirts and shorts until BST returns.  I like the snug feel of the dark curtains and the look (and practicality) of the winter mats in the car.  Switching everything over to the "summer version" is also something I look forward to enormously during those long days of February when Christmas is a distant memory, and it seems it's truly darkest before the dawn.

I also try to realise that there are plus points to the dark evenings.  An evening cuddling the dog, reading a book or listening to music, with candles on is quite wonderful.  This is the natural flow of the year and by the time the clocks have gone back as they just have, the loss of daylight is actually slowing down.  It's only 5 months that we are actually on GMT, and in 7 weeks' time the days will be slowly lengthening again.  Last of all, as Venus noticed 650 years again in a sweet little Dutch play, if we didn't have Winter, we'd all be screwed.  Or not, as the case might be :o