Monday, 30 March 2015

Parliament Has Been Officially Dissolved After David Cameron Visits The Queen - General Election 2015

This is it!
Today is the official start of the General Election 2015.
At midday the Prime Minister David Cameron visited Buckingham Palace to see her Majesty the Queen to formally dissolve parliament.

The meeting of the Queen and David Cameron today, is absolute nonsense, it's simply an outdated tradition - and yet more proof of how out-of-touch those in power are with the general public of Britain.

Queenie Doodle

If I was a fly-on-the-wall during the brief meeting between the Queen and David Cameron I reckon this is roughly what I'd have overheard...........
David Cameron - ''Dear Queenie, 
I've had a good-run screwing over your peasants.
And if I'm re-elected, I'm certain you will be pleased to know that I will continue the noble tradition of 'the rich screwing the poor'.
I am going to make drastic benefits cuts, that take £12 Billion away from the poor and disadvantaged, but don't worry, rest assured, the biggest benefit scrounger in Britain will get to keep all of their benefits, and receive even more. So, yes, your family will continue to live in the lap of luxury, at the tax-payers expense - while the proles continue to struggle to survive, and are forced to use food banks - unless of course they die, which as we know has been happening; with suicides due to money worries increasing since the Tory party has been in power. So, that would save even more money, as there would be less scroungers to pay for.''

How do I think the Queen would respond to what David Cameron has told her?
Well, I doubt she would say much at all, because she cares even less about her people than the government does.

I wonder how many hard-working people will vote for the Tory party at the General Election 2015?
By hard-working, I mean the average person in the UK.
The regular man-on-the-street, or woman, the majority of 'us'. The people with 'normal' lives, living in their 'normal' houses, with their 2.5 children, struggling to pay their mortgages, stressed at the ever-increasing price of food and bills, angry about the fact our government gives away £14,933 billions in foreign aid (to corrupt countries, where the money does not help those most in need), worrying about the education their children are receiving at their state schools, and concerned about the reported failings of the NHS...........
I wonder how many of the 'average people' in the UK will vote Tory?
I wonder because it mystifies me , do they fully understand what they're voting for?
If any of the average people in the UK who can relate to any of the points I made above, realises that when David Cameron says he will make £12 Billion in benefits cuts, that those cuts may very well affect them - detrimentally.
David Cameron says he'll save £12 Billion by making further cuts in benefits, but he doesn't bother to mention that half of the people who are claiming benefits are employed. They are not, as the Daily Mail etc. would have you believe, lazy feckers who sit around watching Jeremy Kyle all day, and don't want to work.
Half of the people who claim benefits in the UK are employed. The reason they are forced to claim benefits is because of short-term contracts (which aren't worth the paper they are written on) and the fact that there's no fixed minimum wage.
So, I wonder if those people who are employed, but have to claim benefits, such as 'Tax Credits' realise that when the Tory party slag-off benefits claimants' - they are referring to them too?

I watched the Daily Politics on BBC earlier today, despite knowing that it raises my blood pressure - mainly due to the fact that the presenters, Jo Coburn and Andrew Neil are blatantly biased in their views about Tory and Labour (I think they should be impartial in their professional and public life), and yet again I ended-up ranting at the TV.
I find the whole political system in Britain so very frustrating.
For example -
We don't have proportional representation. We should have proportional representation.
Why haven't we got proportional representation? Because they don't want us to have it, that's why.
There was a referendum on proportional representation in 2011 - but apparently it was so deliberately made so complicated that people voted against it - or at least that's what the media reported.

The Tory party, by which I mean David Cameron keeps saying how well Britain is doing; there are more people with jobs; today he said that unemployment is the lowest it's ever been - which would be great if it was true. It's not true.
And even if it were, that wouldn't take into account the numbers of 'hidden unemployment' you know the people who are not counted as unemployed by the government because they need to skew the figures to make it appear as though they (the politicians) are doing a good job.

I also wonder how many people in Britain actually realise that people are seriously struggling to survive?
Do Mr and Mrs Average know that we have food-banks? Do they care? Or are they in so much financial trouble themselves that they can't afford to care?

David Cameron.  I no artist - clearly.

David Cameron also said today that things are going to plan...........
That we're paying off our debt.
That the economy is healthier - thanks to the work of the Conservative government.
It's all lies!
We are not paying off our debt we are borrowing more and more money, none of which appears to be used to help those in most need.
But the government obviously doesn't care about that, and why should they?
I mean, They're alright Jack!
They receive a decent wage, expenses, bonuses, good food and wine at ridiculously low prices in the House of Commons Bars and Restaurants, and they are protected from all that is wrong with this country.
They literally and quite obviously have absolutely no idea what life is like for the average person living in Britain today.

As usual I have wandered slightly off topic, and rambled on longer than I intended, so I think I'll end this blog post here...........
Except to say, you can read more about the 2015 General Election in the links below -
Tory claims about Labour's tax claims 'unfounded' - The Guardian
Ed Miliband gets into another row with business - The Independant
David Cameron attacks Ed Miliband in Downing Street speech - The Telegraph 
I want to 'see job through' says Cameron - BBC News
Ed Miliband wooes bosses with warning over EU exit risk - Financial Times  

The 2015 General Election will take place on Thursday the 7th of May.
According to the current opinion polls Britain is on course for a hung parliament.
A HUNG PARLIAMENT! Just as we had in 2010, which resulted in a coalition government of the Conservatives, lead by David Cameron and........... who? Oh yeah, Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats.
So, for the past five years the UK has been governed by a government that the public didn't elect, didn't vote for.
And sadly, it looks looks like once again we will be governed by another unelected Prime Minister - for the next five years - and if that doesn't prove just how archaic and ridiculous our political system is - then I don't know what does.
Hahaha! It would be funny - if it wasn't all so seriously outrageous.
And on that note.......
Do you intend to vote in the 2015 General Election?
Are you claiming any benefits?
Are you worried about your income being reduced by a further £12 Billion in benefit cuts?
Or are you blessed, independently wealthy, and living a life most people can only fantasise about? By which I mean you have the keys to Number 10 or Buckingham Palace etc.
So, which party will get your vote?
The Conservative Party?
The Labour Party?
The Liberal Democrats?
Or what about The Monster Raving Loony Party?
Or Al Murray, aka The Pub Landlord?

Friday, 27 March 2015

1994 Imperial Pale Stout, 20th Anniversary Brew, The Durham Brewery - Beer Review

One good thing about living in County Durham is that The Durham Brewery is a short drive from our house. Hehe!
We popped in to the brewery a while ago, and purchased a few of their beers, one of which was the 1994 Imperial Pale Stout, 20th Anniversary Brew - it was seriously good.
This white stout is 10.2% so the alcohol hits you from the very first sip, then comes the lovely hoppy flavour followed by pepper and fruit.
Mr.R and me shared the bottle we'd bought, and it didn't last long, it was so good we found it hard not to quaff it at speed.
Once we emptied the bottle we both said we wished we had another bottle - or two.
It was a really delicious and moorish beer, and one we would most definitely love to drink again.

Seriously good pale stout. πŸΊπŸ‘πŸ˜Š #blog #blogger #blogging © #TheDurhamBrewery #DurhamBrewery #ImperialPaleStout #PaleStout #Stout #RealAle #ale #1994ImperialPaleStout

From the bottle -
A celebration of 1994
20th Anniversary Brew

Peachy aroma, full-bodied bitterness packed full of Columbus hops with a spicy kick of pink peppercorns. 
750ml 10.2% ABV

Ingredients:- Malted barley, hops, yeast, wheat, pink peppercorns and orange peel.
Allergy advice:- Contains gluten 

Maximum units as recommended by UK Chief Medical Officer:-
Men 3-4 units per day.
Women 2-3 units per day.
This bottle contains 7.7 UK Units

Cheers! Strong, and lovely. πŸΊπŸ˜‹πŸ‘ #blog #blogger #blogging © #TheDurhamBrewery #PaleStout #Stout #realale #ale #beer #bottleconditioned

The Durham Brewery,
Unit 6a,
Co Durham,
DH6 5PF.
Have you tried any of the beers from The Durham Brewery?
Have you had a bottle of 1994 Imperial Pale Stout, 20th Anniversary Brew?

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Be Still - Rumi Quote

Be still. The soul has been given its own ears to hear things the mind does not understand.
- Rumi

I like this quote by Rumi.
And I like being by the sea.

So good to feel the sun on our skin. 🌞 #beach #sand #sun #clouds #sky #CrimdonBeach #CountyDurham #England #noedit #nofilter

I shot this photo last week, when all three of us; me, Mr.R and Barley our Lurcher were having fun on one of our local beaches.
Bring by the sea always raises my spirits.
It was really good to get some exercise, breathe in the fresh sea air, and to feel the sun on our skin.
What do you do to lift your spirits?
Do you like Rumi?

Friday, 20 March 2015

Solar Eclipse 2015 - County Durham, England

This morning, me, Mr.R and Barley, our Lurcher decided to pop out for a short walk by the sea in the hopes of seeing the solar eclipse.
Well, I say we decided, but in truth Barley didn't voice an opinion about watching the solar eclipse, he was just happy to be going out for a walk. Hehe!

Anyway, we'd arranged to meet a friend and one of his dogs, a beautiful Bull Terrier, overlooking the sea by our house.

The three of us, me, Mr.R and Barley arrived at about 9:10am, our friend arrived a few minutes later. The solar eclipse was to occur at about 9:30am.
When we walked up to the pit cage (a monument for the closed down coal mine) there were a few other people waiting and watching the sky.
We'd chosen this place as it's the closest high point to out house, and as it's open countryside overlooking the sea, it seemed like a good place to view the solar event.

Very cloudy here, but the Universe blessed us with a small gap in the clouds. πŸŒ˜πŸ’«πŸ˜Š #eclipse #SolarEclipse #sun #moon #clouds #sky #CountyDurham #England
Solar Eclipse 2015 - County Durham

Anyway, as I said there were a few other people there too; a couple of blokes with cameras set up on tripods, and a lady with her two dogs.
Me and Mr.R stood chatting to the lady, and our friend as we all waited, hoping the clouds would clear enough for us to get a glimpse of the solar eclipse.

Thankfully the Universe answered me; I'd been standing asking for a good view of the sun, and the clouds parted, leaving a small gap through which we saw the sun, and a decent amount of the actual solar eclipse.

The last time Mr.R and me experienced a total solar eclipse was when we lived in London and we were standing in Trafalgar Square watching it. I think it was August 1999, but as my memory is not good, I may be incorrect. Amnyway, it was a surreal moment, as everything stopped, even the birds were silent, and as the day darkened, there was an eerie atmosphere - but in a good way. It was a wonderful experience.

Very cloudy here, but the Universe blessed us with a small gap in the clouds. πŸŒ•πŸŒ™πŸ˜Š #eclipse #SolarEclipse #sun #moon #sunrays #sea #seaview #countryside #NorthSea #clouds #sky #CountyDurham #England
Solar Eclipse 2015, sunrays on the sea - County Durham

Anyway, today the solar eclipse was a lot more than we were expecting simply because the sky was almost all clouds, so we didn't really think we'd be able to see anything.
But the Universe blessed us and we did get to see the spectacle in the sky.
As the weather was so very cloudy we didn't have such a good view as some areas of the UK and it didn't go particularly dark at all, but we were happy that we'd decided to go out to see the solar eclipse.

Unusually for me, as I always take hundreds of photos of everything, I didn't take any photos of the solar eclipse, not a single shot.
Why? Because I was too engrossed in talking to the lady with her two dogs. Ha! Typical me, a compulsive chatterbox.

When I'd first see the two men with the tripods I thought to myself that I'd take their photo later, because they were in silhouette, sitting inside the pit cage monument. It would have been a good shot, but as I didn't take the photo, you'll just have to take my word for how good it would have been. Hehe!

Solar Eclipse 2015, short video - County Durham

Thankfully Mr.R is the strong silent type, so he wasn't chatting, and he shot lots of photos and some video too - which I've borrowed for this blog post.
The video is silent, Mr.R had to strip the sound off - it was full of me, the lady with two dogs, and our friend all chatting. Hahaha!

I messed about with the two photos I borrowed from Mr.R, but if you want to see more photos and video here's a couple of links to todays newspapers -
Solar eclipse 2015: highlights - The Telegraph
'Breathtaking' solar eclipse witnessed by millions - BBC News
Did you see the solar eclipse today?
Did you make a special outing to see it, or were you lucky enough to see it from wherever you were?

Graves de Vayres Bordeaux, Chateau le Tertre 2012 - Wine Review

We drank this wine, Graves de Vayres Bordeaux, Chateau le Tertre 2012, one evening last week.
I intended to write a wine review blog post about it the following day, but as usual I didn't get round to it, but despite my bad memory I do remember that I liked this wine.

Chateau le Tertre 2012  Bordeaux

The wine poured a beautiful ruby jewel colour in the glass.
On the nose were ripe red and black fruits, plums, a little touch of spice, and vanilla.
On the palate Chateau le Tertre 2012 had a strong earthy flavour, with graphite, black cherries, raspberries, juicy plums, tobacco, mocha, and vanilla.
Graves de Vayres Bordeaux, Chateau le Tertre 2012. 13.5%vol
Have you tried Graves de Vayres Bordeaux, Chateau le Tertre 2012?
Did you like it?
Would you buy it again?

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Beach Fun With Our Lurcher, And His Friend, A Bull Terrier

Yesterday morning, Mr.R, Barley, our lovely Lurcher, and me, all went to one of our local beaches.

We'd arranged to meet a friend there, who brought one of his dogs with him, a gorgeous Bull Terrier called Mandy.

Happy boy. 🐢😍☺️ #Lurcher #dog #sighthound #rescuedog #beach #sea #CrimdonBeach #CountyDurham #England

The weather was dull, but that didn't stop me taking lots of photos of Barley and Mandy.
I couldn't resist, I am obsessed with our gorgeous boy Barley, and Mandy is a sweet girl.

Mandy! πŸΆπŸ’› #BullTerrier #dog #beach #sea #CrimdonBeach #CountyDurham #England

Unfortunately, because the sky was all clouds, and everything was so dull, the shots I took yesterday are not as punchy as they could have been, but I like them - despite the lack of sunshine.
And because neither Barley or Mandy were still for more than a nano-second it wasn't easy to actually get any shots of them at all, so I'm happy with what I did manage to snap. If any part of them was actually in the frame I was pleased. Hehehe!

Legs. πŸ‘¨πŸ‘¨πŸΆπŸΆ⚽️ #BullTerrier #beach #CrimdonBeach #CountyDurham #England

All five of us, three adults, and two excited dogs, had a really good time walking along the beach for a couple of hours.
By the time we'd all walked back to the cars we were feeling quite exhausted, but in a good way.
I love being by the sea, breathing in all the salty fresh air, and getting some extra exercise.
My right thigh felt particularly tired after I'd spent most of my time, when I wasn't taking photos of Barley and Mandy, kicking the football for the dogs to chase.

Friends. πŸΆπŸ’›πŸΆ #BullTerrier #Lurcher #dog #sighthound #rescuedog #beach #CrimdonBeach #CountyDurham #England

I'm no David Beckham, but I think the dogs appreciated my footballing skills, as they continued to run off after the football every time I kicked it. Bringing the ball back to me seemed to be asking too much from Barley and Mandy. So not only did I get to kick the ball for them, I also had to run and retrieve it, so I could kick it again. Hahaha!
They did bring the ball back to me sometimes, just not every time.
And it wasn't long before Mandy proved just how sharp her teeth are - the football didn't stand a chance. Ha!
But even after the ball was punctured, and full of seawater and sand, I still managed to kick it for them to chase.

Come on human, kick the ball! 🐢🐢⚽️ #BullTerrier #Lurcher #dog #beach #sea #CrimdonBeach #CountyDurham #England #ILoveMyLurcher

We'd also taken a tennis ball for Barley and Mandy to run after, but that also suffered a fatal puncture wound. Hehe!
Burst balls, aching legs, fresh sea air, lots of exercise, and two very happy dogs - a perfect morning.
Does your dog loves playing fetch?
Do they bring the ball back to every time?
And how long do your footballs or tennis balls survive?

Friday, 13 March 2015

Don Pelayo Tempranillo Garnacha Reserva 2008 - Wine Review

It's always a good time for a glass bottle of wine!

A couple of days ago we enjoyed a bottle of Don Pelayo Tempranillo Garnacha Reserva 2008.

Don Pelayo Tempranillo Garnacha Reserva 2008. £6.98 reduced to £4.37 at Asda. 🍷

Mr.R purchased this wine from Asda, it was reduced from £6.98 to £4.37.
Tempranillo, Monastrell. 11.5% vol.

Don Pelayo Tempranillo Garnacha Reserva 2008. £6.98 reduced to £4.37 at Asda.

This wine pours a rich deep cherry colour in the glass.
The aroma was of ripe fruits and oak.
On the palate we tasted raspberries, chocolate, a hint a spice, subtle vanilla, oak, and it was pleasantly smooth wine.
For under a fiver, it was a decent red.
Have you tasted Don Pelayo Tempranillo Garnacha Reserva 2008?
What did you think about this wine?

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Top Gear Presenter Jeremy Clarkson Reportedly Punched Assistant Producer Oisin Tymon

Jeremy Clarkson, the presenter of BBC2 programme Top Gear is in the news headlines, again.
This time it's for reportedly punching assistant producer Oisin Tymon.

The BBC have reportedly suspended Jeremy Clarkson while the incident is investigated.

As I write this blog post 300,000 people have signed a petition supporting Jeremy Clarkson, asking the BBC to reinstate the presenter.
The online petition was set up by political blogger Guido Fawkes. Hahaha! I'm laughing at the name of the blogger, not the fact there's an online petition to Save Jezza! 

I've spent quite a while online today reading about what the BBC are calling a 'fracas' and what has reportedly been confirmed as Jeremy Clarkson, 54, punching Oisin Tymon, 36, in the face.

From what I've read it all seems like Marmite, there doesn't seem to be any grey areas as far as the general public are concerned.
There are people who have voiced their opinion that Jeremy Clarkson is the best thing since sliced bread, that violence is funny, and that Top Gear wouldn't be Top Gear without him.
And there are people who have said Jeremy Clarkson must be sacked, and that violence is not O.K.

I realise that Top Gear is a serious money-maker for the BBC.
It's syndicated World wide, is incredibly popular, and that jeremy Clarkson is also much loved by a lot of people, and considered by many to be excellent at his job; presenting Top Gear.
I don't agree that without Jeremy Clarkson there'd be no Top Gear.
Yes, initially the programme would be different without him, and people don't always like change, but after a while, presuming the beeb gets the right presenter Jezza could be replaced.
Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond all bring a certain something to Top Gear, but if any of them left the show, their replacement would soon become as popular.
Things change, maybe it's time for a change at Top Gear?
Maybe Jeremy Clarkson will be offered a great new deal with ITV or Sky, as has been reported in the news.
Who knows?

But if Jeremy Clarkson does lose his job presenting Top Gear, then I think Vicky Butler-Henderson would make an excellent replacement.

I am in no way a hater of Jeremy Clarkson.
I have always enjoyed his presenting style, it's refreshing to hear somewhere say what they think without constantly checking themselves in the ever-increasing PC World we live in - but...........
But, as far as punching a colleague is concerned, that's taking things too far. Way too far.

According to the news the reason Jeremy Clarkson punched Oisin Tymon in the face was because he was hungry.
Jezza punched a colleague in the face because he was hungry.
What a Prima Donna!

The media reports say that Jeremy Clarkson had been busy filming, it was late, he was hungry, there was no food for him to eat; a catering problem, and so he punched Oisin Tymon.

I often feel grumpy when I'm tired and hungry, but I've never punched a colleague in the face.

Jeremy Clarkson  Doodle

Doodle of Jeremy Clarkson - not sure about his hair. Haha!

As soon as I read the news about Jezza thumping his colleague, I immediately saw in my mind, how I thought the whole thing would play out. It went something like this, but necessarily in this order...........

  • Jeremy Clarkson would be 'told-off' by the BBC
  • BBC employees involved in Top Gear would be told to keep schtum - or else
  • Jeremy Clarkson apologises - or not - depending if he feels like saying sorry
  • The BBC play-down the whole thing, saying something like, 'it was a simple misunderstanding...'
  • Oisin Tymon is 'encouraged' to make light of the assault, understanding that to take it any further would damage his career.
  • In the not-too-distant future Jeremy Clarkson gets a pay rise to keep him sweet

My ramblings may sound as though I'm not a fan of Top Gear, or Jeremy Clarkson, but that's not true at all.

Both Mr.R and I liked to read the weekly columns written by Jeremy Clarkson for the Sunday Times.
And we enjoyed watching Top Gear for many many years.
Top Gear was our favourite TV programme.
Was! Yep, I said 'was', we used to really enjoy watching Jeremy Clarkson and his fellow presenters James May, and Richard Hammond, having fun, travelling the World, and messing about with cars.

But that was then and this is now - now we don't watch Top Gear.
We didn't stop watching because of any of the previous headline making things said by outspoken Jezza - we just went off the motoring show.

Some of the things Jeremy Clarkson has said which reportedly caused offence include -
Calling lorry drivers serial killers.
Saying Mexican food is 'sick with cheese on it.'
And as The Telegraph helpfully reminded us, 'Allegedly claiming that staff at Hyundai - a South Korean car company - had all eaten dog, and that a particular car's designer had probably eaten a spaniel for lunch.'
You can see more so-called faux pas made by Jeremy Clarkson in The Telegraph

As this is a developing news story here's some more from just before I published this blog post -

  • BBC faces multimillion-pound bill from Jeremy Clarkson's suspension - The Guardian
  • Jeremy Clarkson suspended: Top Gear presenter 'considering leaving BBC anyway' even if he's cleared - The Independent
  • Jeremy Clarkson suspended: Top Gear presenter 'may quit BBC even if he is cleared over fracas with producer' - The Telegraph 

Obviously not everyone is going to agree about what should happen, if anything, to Jeremy Clarkson after this, some want him sacked, some want him saved.

I think he should be sacked.
As far as I'm concerned workplace violence is unacceptable.
I mean it's not as if Jezza was fighting for his life, from what I've read it wasn't self-defence.
From what I've read, it was an unprovoked act of aggression, and definitely not something that Oisin Tymon should be expected to put up with.

Top Gear logo  Doodle

Doodle of Top Gear Logo - excuse wonky lines. Hehe!

I wasn't going to write a blog post about this, but there's been so much news coverage, and it's also been mentioned on various other outlets too, that I haven't been able to stop thinking about it.

For example, Matthew Wright spoke about it this morning on The Wright Stuff.
He seemed to think similarly to me, that what Jeremy Clarkson has done is out-of-order.
But two of the panel guests, Lowri Turner, and Terry Christian seemed to think it's funny, with Terry making several jokes about it, and Lowri saying that she understands how long working hours, hunger etc. meant Jezza lashed out, and that it was acceptable.

I think that says a lot about the kind of people Lowri Turner and Terry Christian are - but that's changing the subject too much, so I'll say no more.

The fact that 300,000 people have gone online to to sign the petition; BBC Bring Back Clarkson - makes me very sad.
Presumably that means 300,000 people think it's perfectly alright to punch another person in the face, that there's been no wrongdoing, and that the perpetrator should not lose their job.

What does it say about the UK (assuming that's where the majority of the signatures are from) that we condone violence?
Nothing good - that's what.
And it's news like this that shine the spotlight on what a violent country we are, and how violence is being viewed as less and less serious, and more the norm.
Sad times.

I'm sure the BBC are closely monitoring what's being said about Jeremy Clarkson and Top Gear, in all of the social media networks, and no doubt they're in serious talks with their legal team etc. They'll want to make sure they don't do anything to damage such a lucrative relationship; Jeremy Clarkson, Top Gear, Worldwide syndication etc.

Who know's what will happen?
I guess it's just a matter of time before all will be revealed.

But whatever happens to Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson, I hope Oisin Tymon is not forgotten, after all he is the victim, he was seriously assaulted.
Jeremy Clarkson is not a victim - he doesn't deserve any sympathy, and he's most definitely not getting any from me.

Right, well, that's just about it for now -
Except to say, I'm not writing this as a PC obsessed hater of Top Gear or the BBC.
As I've already said, I was a serious fan of Top Gear, and I've had many a laugh at the non-PC ramblings of Jeremy Clarkson, but speaking your mind, and physical violence are two very different things.

If the BBC do what they have a history of doing; covering things up, I doubt any of this will affect Jeremy Clarkson in a negative way.
And knowing how us Brits love an 'underdog', it'll probably be spun to make Jezza appear as the poor victim.
Do you watch Top Gear?
Are you a fan of Jeremy Clarkson?
Do you think Jeremy Clarkson should keep or lose his job?

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Spicy Vegetable Soup - Seriously Delicious!

I love soup, and so does Mr.R which is why last week on a very chilly afternoon, I got busy in the kitchen washing, peeling, and chopping lots of lovely vegetables.

But before I prepared the vegetables I raided Mr.R's spice stash.
We eat a lot of spicy food so we have a lot of spices.
Mr.R has a whole cupboard just for spice, it's chock-a-block full of different spices to choose from, but as I'm incredibly indecisive I found it difficult to just pick a couple of spices - so I chose a lot of spices.
I didn't want any of the spices to feel left out. Hehe!

So many good spices and seeds to include in my spice mix

Mr.R has an electric grinder, that he often uses to make spice mixes. Actually it's a coffee grinder, but it does a good job at grinding spices too.
Having said that, I didn't use the spice grinder because both Mr.R and Barley, our Lurcher, were having an afternoon nap.
So I used a pestle and mortar, which was much quieter than the spice grinder, and it gave my arms a bit of extra exercise too.

The spices and other ingredients I used to make the spice mix were, turmeric, fenugreek, sumac, fennel seeds, black mountain pepper, coriander seeds, hemp seeds, mustard seeds, linseeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, and Himalayan pink salt.
That may sound like a strange concoction of ingredients, but as I said I'm indecisive, and also OCD so I got a bit carried away opening jars and packets, smelling the contents, and then thinking, 'Yes, I'll chuck some of that in too...'! 
Odd spice mix? Nope! It tasted seriously good, and it was full of healthy ingredients.

Smells seriously good.
It took a while to crush the seeds to a fine powder, but it was well worth it

As I began to crush the spices with the pestle and mortar and the aromas introduced themselves to each other, the spice mix was making me salivate, they smelt seriously good.
I used the pestle and mortar for a few other ingredients too, including lots of garlic.

I love veg.
Cavolo Nero - Black Cabbage 

I used whatever vegetables we had in the house.
So the soup was made using, onion, garlic, carrots, courgettes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, peas, sweetcorn, potatoes, Spring greens, Cavolo Nero (Black Cabbage), and last but most definitely not least my wonderful spice mix.

I didn't peel all of the vegetables, potato skin adds thickness to the soup

I'm very slow in the kitchen, it takes me ages to do anything, but eventually I'd made a really lovely spice mix, and prepared all of the different vegetables I wanted to use in the soup.
All there was to do now was saute the onions until they were sweet and golden brown, then cook the spice mix for a few minutes, before finally adding the raw vegetables to the saucepan.

Cooking. So vibrant.
The soup was beautifully bright during the cooking process, almost neon

Cooked. Seriously good vegetable soup. πŸ΅πŸ‘πŸ˜‹
Voila! The finished dish, seriously delicious, healthy, and hearty vegetable soup

A couple of hours later (I like to cook soup slowly so that all of the flavours can mingle nicely) the soup was all ready for dinner that evening.
We had some bread with it, made by Mr.R. The soup was seriously delicious!
Are you a lover of soup?
Do you like to make your own soup?
What's your favourite soup?

Monday, 9 March 2015

Murder at Crufts Dog Show 2015 - Irish Setter Named Jagger, Thendara Satisfaction, Poisoned

I was seriously saddened when I saw the news about the death of champion Irish setter, three-year-old Thendara Satisfaction, known as Jagger.
Jagger,came second in his class at Birmingham's NEC on Thursday.

He is owned by Belgian Aleksandra Lauwers, and breeder Dee Milligan-Bott, who is based in Leicester.
Jagger reportedly collapsed and died on Friday after returning home to Belgium from Crufts.

Mrs Lauwers' husband Willem said the couple were "devastated" by the death, adding, "My wife has to go and give a statement to the police tomorrow and we'll see what happens. We're quite successful and that can of course make people jealous."
He also said CCTV from the Birmingham NEC was being analysed, but due to the sheer number of dogs and members of public in attendance at the event, it could possibly be very difficult to find the culprit(s).
He added, "I can only hope it wasn't an act of jealousy by another competitor, but just a lunatic."

Dee Milligan-Bott, the co-owners of Jagger reportedly said that she couldn't believe it was a fellow competitor who poisoned Jagger, saying, "We compete week-in, week-out against each other and we have one thing in common, we all love dogs. I think and hope it was a random act by someone who hates dogs, an opportunist. We've had support from fellow competitors from all over the world. These are people I compete against and many of them have been in tears.

As a dog lover the news of any dog dying is sad, but what made this news story so upsetting was that initial news reports were saying it was likely that the dog was deliberately killed.
Later the news reported that it had been confirmed, the Irish Setter was indeed murdered.
The owners said the dog died after it had been fed steak laced with poison, which they discovered after their vet performed an autopsy on Jagger.

I was sitting watching the final of Crufts 2015 last night, when Clare Balding commenced the programme by telling viewers that an autopsy had confirmed the dog was poisoned.
So, it seems Jagger was definitely murdered.

Doodle.  Irish Setter.

When I think of Crufts my initial thoughts are of dogs, obviously, closely followed by the people; the dog owners, trainers, and handlers, all of whom I imagine are genuinely lovely 'dog loving' people.
But then my thoughts do a bit of a u-turn because I know that sadly that's not completely true.

Of course there are many many people who compete in Crufts and various other dog shows, who absolutely love dogs, but unfortunately there are others who are only in-it for the competition.
They are seriously competitive people who just happen to be in the 'dog World', using dogs to compete, because the enjoy the challenge and want to win.
I guess they could just as easily be competing in a baking competition, or a car racing competition - I mean for some people it's not really about the dogs, it's about the preparation, the atmosphere, the adrenalin, the chance of winning a shiny trophy.

As I said, initially when I think of Crufts dog show, I think of a group of nice, like-minded, 'dog people'.
But on seconds thoughts I can all too easily remember stories of foul-play occurring at dog shows.
I remember past reports of chewing-gum being deliberately put into the coats of long-haired dog, and on-heat bitches being deliberately walked close to the male dogs in the hopes of sabotaging the competitors performance in the ring.

That is most definitely not the behaviour of a true dog lover.
Deliberately causing distress to an innocent dog is not the way any decent person would behave.

So, when the news about the death of Jagger the Irish Setter was first reported, although I was very sad, I was not all that surprised. I was shocked, but not surprised; some people will stop at nothing to get what they want, and that includes killing an innocent dog.

I can only imagine how Jagger may have suffered as his system slowly declined before his death.
His owners are obviously heartbroken, and possibly in shock that something like this could happen at Crufts.
My thoughts are with the owners, trainers, handlers, and everyone who loved Jagger.
RIP sweet boy.

According to a news article I just read, it's thought that finding out who actually committed this awful crime is unlikely.

I don't know who murdered Jagger, but I have my own ideas.
My theory is not the same as the organisers of Crufts who seem to be implying that it was probably a member of the public; possibly someone who hated dogs...........
I'm not sure I believe that, I think it's more likely that it's someone closer to the professional side of Crufts.
Who knows?!
Maybe we'll never know exactly what happened, and why?

The news about the murder of Jagger the Irish Setter has been getting a lot of coverage, both in the printed press, and on TV.
One of the other things I heard the organisers say was that maybe in the future they will make the backstage area private, only dog owners, trainers, handlers, groomers etc. will be allowed to enter, and unlike at the moment members of the public are free to wander round looking at the dogs, chatting to people etc. they will not be allowed to do so in the future.

I don't think that's the answer.
If I'd bought a ticket to Crufts I'd want to chat to the dogs, and their owners etc.

Maybe it's a knee-jerk reaction, but I think Crufts should be stopped.
At least I think I think that. I'm not sure.
I watched Crufts this year, not all of it, but quite a bit, and like previous years when I've seen the odd few minutes of it, I felt simultaneously good about watching it, and bad.
Good because I love dogs, and watching Crufts is a good way to see lots of different breeds of dog, and possibly some I've never seen before.
But it also makes me feel bad, because I'm not sure it's ethical. Is it right? Is it good for the dogs?

Doodle.  Protestors

For example, this year I watched quite a lot of the agility shows, and from what I could tell the dogs that were taking part were very happy to be doing so.
But I also saw some of the, er, what shall I call it, more serious? bits of the show. The serious walking round the ring, being firmly touched by the handlers, and then prodded and poked by the judges, and a lot of those dogs didn't look particularly happy.
Yes, some did look happy, and seemed to be enjoying the experience, but many others looked unhappy and uncomfortable. That's perfectly understandable, the arena is large, noisy, and unfamiliar, and then there's the other dogs, the people, the smells, the travelling...........
I'm just not sure that Crufts, or any of the other big dog shows around the World are in the best interests of the dogs.

The existence of Crufts Dog Show is partly responsible for pedigree breeding programmes, which result in the continuation of animals being born with serious health problems, and deformities.
Crufts is all the about the appearance of the dogs, which some think is cruel.
The BBC stopped broadcasting Crufts in 2009, the decision was reportedly made after concerns were raised about the welfare of the dogs.

Mr.R and I know someone who breeds dogs, and they told us that Crufts is considered by many top dog breeders to be a seriously cruel event, with lots of nasty behaviour by the dog owners, trainers, and handlers, and cruelty to the dogs.

I am not a killjoy.
I am all for people, and dogs, having fun and enjoying themselves, but Murder at Crufts!
Maybe it's better to stop now, before more innocent animals are harmed or worse, killed?
Maybe it's time to say goodbye to Crufts forever?
Are you a god lover?
Do you watch Crufts?
What's your opinion about Crufts, should it be banned. 

Friday, 6 March 2015

Baron de Ley, Rioja, Reserva 2008 - Wine Review

We drank this wine a while ago now, but unusually for me I can actually remember what I thought of it - it was good. Very good indeed.

Mr.R is a fan of Rioja, me not so much - usually. But lately I've been enjoying them more and more, and this bottle of Baron de Ley, Rioja, Reserva 2008 was a particularly good buy.
I think it cost about £9.

Baron de Ley, Reserva 2008 Rioja. Spanish wine. Red wine.

It poured a rich ruby red colour in the glass.
Rich aromatic aromas of fruit, powerful cassis, coconut, toffee, spices, and tobacco.
On the palate this wine has a silky smooth velvety feel, with rich flavours of cassis, blackcurrant, black plum, blackberry, cherry, strawberry, caramel, oak, and vanilla.
Tempranillo grape, 20 months in oak barrels, 13.5%.
We don't bother decanting wine, but as this wine has quite a lot of sediment, you may want to.

Sediment. 🍷 Baron de Ley, Reserva 2008, Rioja.

My description of Baron de Ley, Rioja, Reserva 2008 may sound as though this wine has a lot going on; possibly too much, but it most definitely does not - it is a very well-balanced Rioja full of delicious palate pleasing flavours. Most enjoyable.

Baron de Ley, Rioja, Reserva 2008 is an award winning wine -


  • Challenge International du Vin, 2013: Bronze 
  • Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, 2013: Great Gold 
  • International Wine & Spirit Competition, 2013: Bronze 
  • International Wine Challenge, 2013: Bronze 

Baron de Ley, Reserva 2008 Rioja. Spanish wine. Red wine.

From the label -
This reserva was aged for 20 months in new oak casks and then in bottle for 24 months to complete its evolution.
Its deep cherry colour and complex aromas best express the quality within our 300 hectare estates.
This wine has been bottled unfiltered, which might result in the appearance of natural sediments in the bottle. 
Have you tried Baron de Ley, Rioja, Reserva 2008?
What did you think of it?

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Tongue Cleaner. It May Change Your Life - Dr. Tung's Tongue Cleaner - Product Review

Ages ago I bought a couple of dr.tung's tongue cleaners, one for me and one for Mr.R.
I ordered them from Amazon UK and they arrived quickly, and then they sat on the table for a few weeks before I even opened the packet.
And by a few weeks I really mean several months.

Tongue Scraper

Tongue Scraper

Anyway, eventually I remembered I had a new oral gadget to try (the table was, and is, covered in stuff which is why I'd forgotten about the tongue cleaners) and so I finally opened the packet.

Tongue Scraper

I'd read lots of reviews on Amazon, several of which said using a tongue cleaner had changed the reviewers life.
Having read that, I was expecting magic, or at least something spectacular to happen when I scraped my tongue with the tongue cleaner.

I'm not sure there was any magic, and spectacular would be a bit of an exaggeration, but using the tongue cleaner was very nice.
Well, nice, isn't the correct word, it wasn't nice, it wasn't anything particularly, but the after effect was most pleasant.
My mouth felt happier.
Yep, for want of a better, more appropriate and suitable word, I said happy - my mouth was happy.

Tongue Scraper

I've always known that cleaning your tongue is a good idea, but never used a special tool for the job.
I just did what no doubt millions of people do - I used my toothbrush to give my tongue a good brushing.

But now, having seen the crap that the tongue cleaner removes from my tongue, it's quite disgusting to think that previously all of that crap was being smeared all over my toothbrush. Yuck!

Tongue Scraper

Anyway, I'd never used a proper tongue cleaner before I purchased this one from dr.tung, and I only bought it because I'd read an article in a health publication about the supposed benefits of regularly cleaning the tongue with a tongue scraper.
And I'm glad I read that article, and I'm glad I bought a tongue cleaner.
I chose a metal tongue cleaner, as it sounded better than the plastic ones; I thought metal would be more hygienic or something - I don't know. Ha!
Using the tongue cleaner is quick and easy, no fuss, and the result is, well, it's a clean tongue.

Tongue Scraper

Tongue cleaners are said to have several benefits including
  • Removing toxins and bacteria from the tongue
  • Improve ability to taste flavours in food
  • Promotes general tooth and gum health 
  • Activates saliva production which promotes agni (bodys digestive fire) which helps with digestion 
  • Help eliminate halitosis 
A tongue cleaner is not a high end product, it doesn't require a lengthy thought process before making a purchase, and it may make your mouth feel happy. Hehe!

Tongue Scraper

How many photos of my dr.tung's tongue cleaner does this blog post need?
Enough to break-up my typically rambling writing. Ha!

Finally - As I am seriously indecisive, I could easily have spent ages deciding which tongue cleaner to order from Amazon UK - but I didn't, I simply ordered the number one best seller.
The tongue cleaner I purchased was the Dr Tung's Tongue Cleaner, it cost £4.99.
Do you use a tongue cleaner?
Has it changed your life? ;)

Monday, 2 March 2015

Liam Fox Says David Cameron Must Guarantee Defence Budget, and Other Various News

Liam Fox, the former defence secretary, has reportedly said that David Cameron will have problems with his fellow tories unless he guarantees a future defence spending budget of 2% of GDP.

Liam Fox voices defence sponding concerns - read more in the Western Daily Press
American should sort out their own country, before interfering in ours

The United States have also reportedly commented on our politics yet again, saying they're not happy with how little the UK is spending on its military forces - or something like that.
Whenever the US starts interfering in our business I tend to groan and ignore the news - hoping they'll bugger-off and leave us to run things how we choose.
Wishful thinking eh?!

US concerned about UK defence cuts - read more on Sky News

Anyway, it's Monday, the start of a new week, and already British politics is frustrating me...........
Foreign Aid, Defence Budget, blah, blah blah...........

I think our government should concern themselves with far more serious and important matters, like that fact that UK citizens are being forced to use food banks and community shops to feed themselves and their families.

It's hard to believe that the UK is one of the wealthiest countries in the World, and that it is the year 2015, when so many people are struggling just to survive.
The government should most definitely not be giving our money away in Foreign Aid, and nor should it be worrying about the defence budget.
If people continue to die from lack of enough food, and other issues associated with poverty, the UK won't need any military protection at all - because they'll be no one left alive to protect.
Yes! People are dying of starvation, in the UK, in 2015! Hard to believe, but sadly it's true.
There are at least 60 suicides currently being investigated where the cause is reported to have been money worries, or more accurately no money.

At least 60 British citizens were so desperate about their living conditions that they killed themselves.
If I hadn't read the news report myself I probably wouldn't have believed it.

How can a country as financially wealthy as Britain have so many people living in poverty?
Or should I say dying in poverty?

David Cameron.  I no artist - clearly.
Doodle of David Cameron

It's when I read these type of news reports that I wonder how our politicians can sleep at night.
But then I realise they probably sleep very well indeed, because the truth is they just don't care.
They don't care that people are starving, homeless, and in need of help.
Want proof? Look no further than the benefits sanctions that they are so keen on.
Just last week I read several articles about people who claim benefits having their benefits sanctions, which is less direct way of saying stopped because they were considered unworthy for various illogical reasons.
One lady couldn't sign-on at the benefit office because she was in hospital. Her benefit money was sanctioned and she fell behind with her rent, and ended up being evicted, so now she's homeless.
Another lady was struggling to feed her children, she had 6 children if I remember correctly, two of them were disabled, which meant the mother was their full-time carer, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Her benefits were suddenly sanctioned because she was unavailable for work, and she too is now facing eviction, with 6 children.

Benefit Sanctions and Suicides - read more in the Guardian 

I don't suppose David Cameron and his cronies are even aware of the existence of people like the ones I've mentioned.
They have absolutely no idea what's going on in Britain. They are so distanced from everyday life.
They live such over-protected lives themselves that it's almost as though they are a completely different species from the average man on the street. 

That's why, every now and then, you'll get a politician taking part in a TV programme, usually on Channel 4, where they 'prove they're just like us' and they'll 'live on £50 a week' or move into a council tower block for a week etc.
But that's the point, they are such complete muppets, thinking that 'living' in a council flat for 7 days on a budget of fifty quid enables them in any way to comprehend what life is really like for people for who that life is a harsh reality.

Seven days after filming commenced and they're back home living in luxury. 
In seven days it's highly unlikely that seriously soul-destroying depression will have gripped them, or that the ill effects of a basic diet will have harmed their health in any noticeable way...........
And that's not to mention the safety aspect, and the stress. Obviously being ever-so-important politicians means that during filming they are always perfectly safe, and not likely to be mugged or stabbed by a smack-head in the lift of the tower block.

I could go on, but I've already wandered off topic from Liam Fox, defence budget, and David Cameron, and I've more or less run out of steam now...........

So, to recap, the government should not be giving our money in foreign 'aid' or upping defence expenditure - not while we have British people suffering.

Ah, just one more thing before I finish -
I literally just read that a third of the Ebola aid money given to Sierra Leone is unaccounted for.
What a shock!
Proof that giving 'aid' to other countries is not what's best for Britain, or anyone else either.
Sierre Leone Ebola Money Missing - read more in the Guardian

When will Britain grow a pair and stop chucking good money after bad?
When will the British government put the people who pay their wages first?
Enough is enough!
Do you get riled-up over British politics?
If so, you're more than welcome to let it all out in the comments.