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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Porridge: healthy, filling, tasty

  • 1 spoonful raisins
  • 2 scoops porridge oats
  • 2 walnut halves, chopped
  • 2 pecan halves, chopped
  • 2 brazil nuts, chopped
  • 4 almonds, chopped
  • cup of water
  • sprinkling of cinnamon

  • place raisins, oats, nuts, and water in bowl, quick stir
  • microwave on full power for 2 minutes
  • sprinkle cinnamon on top, stir in

  • if too wet, microwave for another 15-30 seconds
  • if too dry, quickly stir in 2 or two spoonfuls of water
    (or milk if you must)

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Disappointment - a short story

As business owners, we both work long hours in stressful jobs; the long weekend away with friends - also business owners in stressful jobs - was a lovely break. My overwhelming reaction on our return home was... Disappointment.

It was (almost) entirely my own fault - relaxing over the weekend must have softened my brain. We had left our teenage son, who was home from uni on a gap year, to fend for himself and we looked forward to seeing him. We had texted ahead and arrived home after a 7-hour drive via shopping at the supermarket, ready to make dinner.

We carried in our suitcases and shopping bags with no assistance from our loving son, who remained seated on the sofa, ignoring us. I wasn't disappointed just yet - this is normal behaviour that we are somehow resigned to. A dinner plate was by his side and we assumed that he had already eaten as we put away the shopping and prepared to cook just for ourselves rather than the family dinner that we had planned.

Meanwhile, my eyes had taken in the crumbs next to the sofa, the two dozen DVD/PS4 cases spread on the floor and a spilled pile of clean washing that I asked him to take up to his room before the weekend. Before I could hug my darling son, I expressed my disappointment and walked into the kitchen where I was met with a floor covered with all manner of foodstuffs - raisins, flour, toast crumbs, onion and garlic skin, dry spaghetti, carrot peelings (yes, I should have been pleased that he had eaten vegetables...)

I swept the floor whilst grumbling sarcastically in a low voice because I didn't want to walk in and immediately start an argument. I cleared the sink and filled the dishwasher. My husband cleaned the worktops and we cooked a quick meal. Setting the table, I was greeted by food spillage from a previous meal (or meals) glued to the place mat and table surface.

As we sat down to eat, our son informed us that he hadn't eaten - the plate was from his previous meal. Feeling guilty at the misunderstanding, I signaled to him to remove his headphones so that I could ask him if he'd like pizza (his favourite) which we'd brought home as a treat. Before I could ask, he announced that he would not be talking to me because I was mean to him.

No pizza, then.

Great homecoming/reunion, not! It wasn't until this morning that I looked in the shower room to find five wet bath towels (yes, yes, I should be pleased that he showers!!!)...

Sunday, 21 September 2014

DVD Film Review: I Love You, Man.

I Love You, Man (2009)

A John Hamburg Film

Starring Paul Rudd & Jason Segal
Co-starring Rashida Jones

Mike from Friends meets Marshall from HIMYM

Paul Rudd's character is an Estate Agent who proposes to his girlfriend and the wedding planning begins...

The groom-to-be has no male friends and is not close to his much older brother. He overhears the bride-to-be discussing his lack of friends with her friends and he sets out on a quest to find a best man.

After some desperate attempts to 'man-date', he is hosting an Open House to sell Lou (The Hulk) Ferrigno's property and starts chatting to Jason Segal's character about the food. They get along well and, despite Paul Rudd's character trying too hard to be cool, they become good friends but the friendship begins to affect the engagement.

There was a point where we were not quite sure if Jason Segal's character was trustworthy, as he asks for money for an investment but it was a valid, although unusual and interesting, investment.

The girlfriend, played by Rashida Jones, was charming throughout and everything works out well with the wedding going ahead at the end of the film. And we hope they all lived happily ever after.

Reviews of Recent Films, Summer 2014

Films viewed: A Long Way Down, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Postman Pat, The Amazing Spider-man 2, Captain America: the Winter Soldier.

A Long Way Down

Based on the book by Nick Hornby. Starring Pierce Brosnan (007), Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), Imogen Poots, Toni Collette.

I enjoyed A Long Way Down - despite the story being about suicide attempts which, in real life, are not funny. Four people determined to jump off a roof in London on New Year's Eve are surprised to find that they are not alone. The characters are sympathetic and the dialogue was often amusing. I just wish that I could remember some of the amusing quotes... sorry, you'll have to watch it yourselves.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Cast includes Ralph Fiennes, Jude Law, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel (but not Johnny Depp).

Wes Anderson's quirky film is an interesting recount of the hotel's ownership over 50-ish years and how the current and previous owners came to own it. A gentle, amusing comedy-drama; well acted, well made.

Postman Pat: The Movie

You will recognise the voices of David Tennant, Stephen Mangan, Jim Broadbent, Ronan Keating and perhaps Rupert Grint. Quite a few plot holes but the under-7s will probably overlook them. Look out for the guest appearance by a Dalek.

I think I may have become slightly de-geeked, reaching saturation point for superhero films, but here goes...

The Amazing Spider-man 2

I really like Andrew Garfield as Spiderman and this is a great film.
Familiar storyline of Peter Parker losing the girl and having to battle with his best friend. If you've not overdosed on Spidey films during the past decade, you should enjoy this one.

Captain America: the Winter Soldier

Starring Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Redford.
High-level shenanigans in the USA as SHIELD is infiltrated by Hydra and can no longer be trusted. The mysterious Winter Soldier emerges to battle with Captain America. Good, exciting storyline but how will they rebuild the city, yet again, in time for the next film - and where's the money coming from? Still, not as much devastation and destruction as in the Superman vs Zod battle.


Friday, 15 August 2014

Beneficiaries of Cancer Financials

Put simply, the British public pours £millions into cancer research and we celebrate when there is a breakthrough. It then takes years for the drugs to be made available to the NHS at an extortionate price.

Recap: the public pays for the research then the public pays again for the results - or not, because there's not enough money to cover the costs incurred by the pharmaceutical company. Specific costs include further development, testing, manufacture, packaging and sales commissions; shared costs include constantly upgrading laboratories, staff salaries, general business costs and shareholders profits.

What is the money cycle? This is not a factual statement, not even an educated guess, I am just wondering... 
  • Charity donations presumably passed to universities and non-profit trusts to aid research?
  • Do the pharma companies then have to bid for the research information or is it given freely?
  • If no one buys the drugs, does the whole investment get written off as a loss? 
  • If so, wouldn't it be better to halve the cost of drugs to the NHS and recoup some of the expenses? 
Compassion and emotion drive the campaigns, creating a demand for solutions and providing the blueprint in terms of research information, but commerce controls the engine. The NHS holds the role of completing the circle by bringing the benefits of cancer research to the British public.

There is an imbalance of power. The moment that Joe Public hands over the money, any control over its onward journey has gone. This applies both to cancer research donations and to compulsory NHS contributions.

Who has a workable solution?

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Review - The Butler

On IMDB, The Butler has only 3.5 stars. Forest Whitaker's performance alone is worth another star.

The story is based on a real one and shows how the USA has progressed from apartheid to the election of President Barack Obama, as experienced by the lead character, Cecil. His family worked in the southern cotton fields and were brutalised by the owners. As a boy, Cecil was taken to the house as a servant and subsequently perfected those skills throughout his life to become a respected member of staff at The White House.

The story of his career is interlaced with his family life. He had a long, solid relationship with his wife (played by Oprah Winfrey) and a difficult relationship with his rebellious first son. He was proud of his younger son who was killed in the Vietnam war. Snippets of Cecil's life at The White House reveal insights into the administrations of several presidents over a number of years.

In Cecil's later years, he and his eldest son are reconciled and, towards the end of the film, they celebrate Obama's victory together.

Why Forest Whitaker's performance was incredible: I really believed he had become a frail old man in his 90s and found myself wondering if he was still alive in real life... he's only in his early 50s!

Other films to watch with Forest Whitaker: The Last King of Scotland, Good Morning Vietnam & The Color of Money.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Monuments Men - film review

Based on a true story, The Monuments Men (2014) stars just about everybody - George Clooney (who was also co-writer/director), Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean DuJardin, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Balaban, oh and Cate Blanchett who plays a Parisian.

It was like watching an interesting documentary but better, as the actors were masters of under-acting and seemed so natural . It was amazing to learn about the number of artworks that were stolen, stored or destroyed - and there was tons of gold stashed, too.

An enlightening and enjoyable film. If you want to know more, you can decode the following paragraph by pasting it into a text document and changing the font to something readable.

Guess which two of The Monuments Men team died - none of the Americans – just the Brit and the Frenchman!

Recommended. Give it a whirl!