Friday, February 17, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things: Snowdrops and Springtime

Hello again. It's Friday and I'm casting around in my mind for some small things to celebrate, a la Friday Blog Hop, which is kindly maintained by Lexa Cain and her assistants. Click the link on the right of this page and you will be redirected to Lexa's blog and a list of participants in the blog hop.

It has felt like a very long dreary winter this year but the first snowdrops have opened and other Spring bulbs are pushing up in my flower borders, so Spring is just around the corner and we will soon be experiencing some warmer weather and some sunshine.

The lack of sun is a good introduction to my next topic - Vitamin D. As we all know, vitamin D is manufactured in the body by the action of sunlight on the skin and is important for our bones. The UK government recommends that people in this cold Northern climate should take a supplement during the winter months. It's particularly important for the elderly and young children. But this week has brought news of a further benefit of supplementation -  NHS backed research, published in the British Medical Journal, found that vitamin D supplementation can help to ward off flu and other upper respiratory tract infections. It is estimated that in the UK 3.5 million upper respiratory tract infections could be avoided each year. This is important news, not only for the elderly, who are particularly at risk of needing hospital care but also for the NHS, which is bursting at the seams. There have now been suggestions that the government should require bread manufacturers to add vitamin D to bread. Read more about the findings of the research here.

I will be having a quiet weekend at home and am looking forward to snuggling down in front of the tv - The Voice, Taboo, and The Young Montalbano are all on my viewing list for Saturday evening. Wishing you all a lovely weekend.

By for now xx

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Eggless Chocolate and Beetroot Cake

My Sunday baking was an eggless chocolate and beetroot cake. I can almost hear you groaning but, trust me, as chocolate cakes go it stands up well to comparison with less healthy alternatives. I have to admit that this is not the sort of thing that I would normally conjure up in my kitchen but I was inspired to bake it after seeing it made during a recent episode of Eat Well for Less on BBC television.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Friday Blog Hop: I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore

What a week! I have never followed the news so avidly. It's like watching a soap opera. First, we have the ongoing saga of Donald Trump's wrangle with the Courts over his decision to restrict immigration and then John Bercow's extraordinary and jaw-dropping speech in the House of Commons.  I admire Mr Bercow's moral stand but it is the responsibility of the Speaker of the House of Commons to remain impartial, hence the general amazement and the fury of those Conservative MPs who do not support his views on whether or not President Trump should be allowed to address Parliament. Meanwhile, Mrs May, saddled with the difficult task of extricating us from the European Union, frequently has the startled appearance of a rabbit trapped in the headlights. There's an old British saying (attributed to Lord Robens of Woldingham) that today's news is tomorrow's fish and chip paper. Not so, I fear, in the case of current political wranglings.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Book Review: Sod 70! by Muir Gray

Hello there and welcome to this wintry outpost of Northern Europe.

I'm guessing that you have been drawn in by the earthy and arresting book title. I too found it irresistible, perhaps because of the note of defiance conveyed by the author. I ordered a copy from the public library and it arrived yesterday. It's a short little guide so I have already read through it. This book was brought to my attention by my younger sister who at some time in the past has worked with the writer.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Book Review: The Road to Little Dribbling

I have just read The Road to Little Dribbling. I love Bill Bryson. That is to say, I love his books and the character and personality that emerges from the pages. Sadly, I am not personally acquainted with this American who we seem to have adopted as a British national treasure. But I am sure that Bill and I would get along famously since we appear to be kindred spirits, united in bemoaning the State of the Nation and how things just ain't what they used to be. I wonder if this is because we are both getting a bit long in the tooth now, or are some parts of Britain and aspects of life here truly as parlous as he reports? Yes, and yes.

Mr. Bryson's latest book is laugh out loud in parts and if you want a snapshot of English quirkiness this is a good place to start. I enjoyed it but a tiny reservation is that it's just a little samey in parts - he visits somewhere, wanders around, likes or dislikes it, has a cup of tea, checks into a hotel, has dinner, goes to bed and the next day moves on to his next location. Perhaps a different editor would have taken a different approach. The parts of the book that I most enjoyed were his observational wit and his anecdotes.And, as I said at the outset, the author's character emerges in the pages and I like it. He is evidently a decent man with a great sense of humour.