Food for thought – gifts that help other people

I’m determined not to leave my Christmas shopping to the last minute this year no more flapping about in a blind panic. I’ll aim to be like Muddy, calm, organised and on the sauce by the 24th.

The world and its inhabitants have gone through a lot this year with both natural and political disasters affecting so many, so I’m thinking this year’s present list should definitely be gifts that help other people, in the past we’ve sent cows and built toilets, here are a few new ideas to ponder on.  A £13 donation to Unicef will provide 100 polio vaccines for children, £18 will proved 3 quality footballs for kids to play, exercise and have fun or £322 will build a water pump for a school or community.

£20 to Macmillan will provide an hour of care for a patient with cancer, £10 to Refuge will buy a young homeless person a Christmas dinner, £30 will ensure a safe comfortable bed for the night.   A donation to The Trussell Trust, who partner with local communities, helps stop UK hunger through their 400 strong network of foodbanks.

You could give £11 to Save the Children and they’ll kit out a child living in freezing conditions with warm winter clothing, £78 will buy 2 goats, to provide a family with milk meat and an income selling future baby goats and £158 will secure a year’s education transforming a child’s life.  Embrace will take your £30 and provide food parcels for refugee families.  Or how about buying all your friends an Age UK Lottery ticket?

WWF offers the opportunity to help protect some of the world’s most vulnerable animals adopting a leopard or a dolphin perhaps for £3 a month.   Grab a family membership to RSPB for £5 a month.  Alan has asked for a calendar from Dogs Trust

We performed at the King’s Hall in Ilkley on Friday.  A beautiful venue lovingly restored by The Friends of the King’s Hall & Winter Garden formed in 2000.  The difference from my first visit in 2004 to now is spectacular and for £25 you can join the friends and contribute to their good work.  Speaking of fine venues Victoria Hall in Settle – the oldest music hall in the world, £10 makes you a friend of the hall, £100 you can sponsor a balcony seat which includes a little name plaque.  Food for thought.


Halloween madness?

I just read a cheery article in Business Matters magazine suggesting that we as a nation spent in the region of £277 million on Halloween treats!?   That’s just the trick or treat sweets – last year across all Halloween activities, parties, films and attractions etc, the UK coughed up £30.8 billion and generated 18,000 tonnes of pumpkin waste.

In our local supermarket an entire isle was dedicated to Halloween goods on the right and Christmas stuff on the left, presumably the Easter eggs were on the end with the batteries.

Some folks suggest preventing return visits from small sugar monsters by offering them sprouts dipped in chocolate, another good Northern option hand out sweets with a bill attached.

It’s the teachers I feel sorry for trying to control herds of sugar crazed kids, high as kites one minute and then grumpy as hell the next as all that blood sugar crashes and burns.  Luckily there’s no danger of that happening here as I’ve just enjoyed my first mince pie of the year. If you can’t beat them…

Mind you I better leave room for the toffee apples and parkin.  I hadn’t appreciated the subtle difference between the traditional parkin recipes of Yorkshire and Lancashire,  black treacle for the white roses and golden syrup and extra sugar for the red.  It’s clever stuff, and much better made a few days ahead of bonfire night, I believe the secret is to bake it to be hard, then allow to magically soften in a trusty Tupperware.

The latest Bonfire night trend supermarkets are literally falling over themselves to get in on is, foot long sausages in foot long rolls clearly designed to set proceedings off with a bang-er.

It’s a world away from the equivalent delicacies of the 1970’s.  Round our way, it was a small firework display put on by the scouts, a sausage roll and a sparkler with parkin for afters, possibly toffee if you were lucky.  Halloween was a funny smelling turnip and a blunt craft knife, bobbing for apples and singing a few choruses of Gobolino the witches cat wearing an old sheet with eye holes cut in it.

It sounds quite meagre in comparison, have we been deprived I wonder?  Nah I reckon we were just as happy, probably a bit thinner with less fillings, and with costumes a good deal less flammable… but those sausages do sound good.


Well fed = better results

Over the years Muddy and I have learned that musicians generally play better if they are fed and watered on a regular basis, and so have been applying this rule to the builders, working on the extension.

The kettle first goes on at 8am, 3 coffees milk no sugar.  Nick the brick was until recently having 2 sugars in all his drinks, on account of not hearing him say, “No I don’t take sugar thanks.”  As the weather is getting a bit chilly we’ve also discovered that hot rolls improve the general mood.  Rich is a definite bacon and egg man although he switches from coffee to Earl Grey after lunch he’s also extremely partial to yum yums.  Will prefers sausage and egg and Nick is happy with anything although drew the line at Mud’s fried egg and avocado sambams.

The extension is attached to the office so we sort of feel part of the team, although our tastes in radio station do differ.  If at a loose end, we sometimes play Name That Tune with Will, he has no idea we do this, but it stems from his habit of singing along to the wireless loudly with gusto.  It’s quite tricky mind, as Will only ever sings one random line from any given song, bonus points are awarded for guessing correctly over the added din of noisy power tools and cement mixers.  For example Mud just scored big with St Elmo’s fire over an intermittent nail gun – respect.

Biscuits are another good motivator, though avoid anything with marshmallow in it.  Individually wrapped items fare better than loose custard creams as they can withstand even torrential rain and dust/concrete, nor do they go soft if the lid is left off the tin all day.

Once the supplies of bacon, sausage and eggs are depleted we make soup. Both carrot, coriander and ginger and leek and potato have gone down well with a buttered granary bap.

Of course these guys are incredibly active all day, so can eat copious amounts without it affecting their waistlines, I on the other hand, being a more sedentary member of the team am finding that listening to vast amounts of music and writing songs just isn’t that great for calorie burning.

Round three, “To me it makes a lot of sense.”  Rich adds a “Woah yo yo” and Mud’s straight in again with Buffalo Soldier.