Friday, 24 June 2016

#Brexit - where do we go from here?

I stayed up until half past five so I am way too tired to blog my disappointment properly. It might be bittersweet to watch the lies and mistruths unravelling over the next few days and weeks - I notice Farage backpedalling already on Good Morning Britain about EU money being diverted to the NHS. 

Instead I'll let the Buffy crew express how I feel right now and hopefully I'll be less depressed about it all tomorrow ...

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Make sure you vote today!

That large banner might have given a clue as to how I will be voting today!

Please, if you are eligible to vote in the UK, make sure you use your vote today, especially if you are female. British women have only had voting rights for less than a century. Respect the women who fought and died for this right and

Use Your Vote Today!

Yes, even if you are voting the Other Way, I'd rather you used your vote 'against' me than didn't bother to vote at all. I really don't want this vital referendum to be decided by such a low proportion of us as turned out for the General Election. 

Of course, if you are still undecided, I can wax lyrical about why I believe remaining in the EU is best for Britain.

Are you sitting comfortably?

My personal priority is freedom of travel. I like being able to travel in and between EU countries without restriction. I like that I often get free entry to museums and important historic sites because I am an EU citizen. I like the reassurance of my EHIC card and I like feeling European as well as British. My family history was traced back through many generations and it's highly likely I'm part Norman on one side, part Viking on the other and goodness knows what else in between. Everyone on this island is an immigrant if we look back far enough! Where would the line be drawn? And thousands of us Brits take advantage of our right to live, work and study in other EU countries. If we swing towards isolationism and send their people back home, they will send ours home too. It will still feel as crowded here and we haven't even addressed non-EU migration yet OVER WHICH WE ALREADY HAVE FULL CONTROL.

As workers, many of our current rights are due to EU laws, not UK laws. Priti Patel, a Brexit advocate, told the Institute of Directors: “If we could just halve the burdens of the EU social and employment legislation we could deliver a £4.3 billion boost to our economy and 60,000 new jobs.” That's great, but NOT when the 'burden' includes workers' rights to a maximum 48 hour working week, the right to be paid for Bank Holidays and a minimum number of holiday days, parental leave and equal opportunities legislation. Snigdha Nag, a Barrister and Senior Lecturer at The City Law School has written a great article about this. Please read it.

I could also tell you that after rebates, reductions and monies received, it actually costs us about £89 per person to be in the EU and that's actual cash without considering trade benefits etc. For contrast, Norway, a non-EU country, pays the equivalent of about £134 per person for EU trading rights, but they don't get any say in the decision making process. We do.

Then I could point out that the Leave campaign's 'We could spend that on the NHS' statements tend to only use the word COULD. Not WILL. COULD. If Johnson, Farage and Gove are on the winning side, you just know they very probably WON'T. 

The EU isn't the whole answer and no one is pretending it's a perfect system, but it has brought Europe together. These days countries talk instead of physically attacking each other - most of the time. British charities benefit from EU funding, our nature benefits from EU protection and our lungs benefit from EU air quality targets. We could do these things independently, but look at who is driving the Leave bandwagon. Do you really think they would?

Are you still here?

The polls opened at 7am and will be open until 10pm tonight. Don't leave it until the last minute. If you're late, you won't be allowed to vote. Go and vote now. Vote in your lunch break. Vote before you go home or to the pub. 

Please do vote today!

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

#TreatYourself - special offers that caught my eye

There's still over a week of June left to get through so if
you're trying to stretch your bank balance to the end of this month, I hope some of these deals and bargains will help! For readers, my new giveaway over on Literary Flits starts at noon (UK time) today and this week's prize is books. Last week's giveaway for a handmade hat is still open for entries until midnight tonight too.

A good cuppa is an essential in this house caravan and Twinings have got two good deals going at the moment. Get 20% off Fruit and Herbal Infusions until the 30th of June by using the code SUMMER at checkout or treat yourself to a whopping 25% off Loose Tea Caddies until the 27th of June with the code CADDY at checkout.

Are you a Camping And Caravanning Club member? If so, you might already be aware that you can get 10% off the discount card price at Go Outdoors BUT, to celebrate the first anniversary of this partnership, that discount is increasing to 20% for a limited time. To take advantage, visit the Go Outdoors website and enter code CLUBAVSRY20 at checkout. The double discount code is valid until the 17th of July and you will need to have a Go Outdoors discount card as well as Camping And Caravanning Club membership.

Fitness gets a boost at 66Fit until the end of July with 12.5% off all products with the checkout code AFF12. I have bought equipment from 66Fit before including weights and foam rollers and was pleased with both the speed of shipping and the quality of their products. Take a look at balance boards, exercise weights and balls, bands and tubes, supports and braces, tens machines, massage rollers, swimming aids, pilates and yoga equipment ... you get the picture! There's a great range to choose from!

I am told it has been 950 years since the Battle Of Hastings when English King Harold was killed and the new Norman King Guillaume le Conquerant (William the Conqueror) was crowned instead. English Heritage are celebrating with a fun treasure hunt that might just last all summer. They have hidden 1066 arrows at 257 English Heritage sites across the country. Each has a unique code and there are prizes for every one found. It's the perfect time to get yourself and your family that English Heritage membership you've been planning(!) and you can save 10% of the cost with checkout code EH2016 which is valid until the 30th of June.

Finally for this month's bargains, Waitrose have just announced a deal for new online shoppers - £60 off your first 3 online shops when you spend £100. There's free delivery too when using their codes. Orders must be placed for delivery before the 17th of July.

I hope you find these offers useful and I will keep my eyes open for more to share in July.

Monday, 20 June 2016

A festival weekend - Feastival Sunday at Eastbourne

Decisions ... 
What a difference a day makes! I am so glad that Eastbourne's Feastival this weekend just gone wasn't drenched in the constant rain we had overnight and this morning. I wonder how much of a quagmire Princes Park is right now?

Considering this was only the second occurence of Feastival, the organisers put on a great display with dozens of stalls cooking up foods from all over the world to appeal to any palate. The website lists Spanish, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, French, American, Mexican, Italian, English, Eastern European, Greek, African, Portuguese and Turkish food on offer. We had to walk right around the field twice just to make up our minds what to have for lunch! Considering the current migration hysteria which has taken over Thursday's vote, it was great to see such a positive illustration of a benefit of immigration to Britain.

I chose a vegetarian Yakisoba noodles from Yoshi's
Decisions ... 
Catering which was a tasty and filling mix of fried Japanese ramen noodles with cabbage, carrots and other vegetables, topped with dried seaweed and a ginger and soy sauce. Dave chose beautifully slow cooked Hogget Verdi (lamb) from Forgotten Cuts Co. The meat was served with chips which soaked up the delicious juices, but did go cold a bit too quickly in that chilly seafront wind. For afters we shared a tub of Churros And Chocolate from Pepe's and sat back on the grass to enjoy the music in the sunshine. I did briefly wish we had festival chairs like we borrowed for Broadstock on Saturday, but the ground wasn't too bad.

On the downside, while the bands we heard were good, we
Decisions ... 
both thought that it would have been nice if some cultural diversity had been offered through the music too instead of the all white, all male line-up we saw. Perhaps it had been more varied on the Saturday?

Our soporific sunshine began to cloud over in the late afternoon and instead of digging more clothing layers out of the car (£3 for all day car parking) we decided to stay to the end of Frankie Says and then call it a day. We didn't manage to get away easily though because I spotted the Yummy Things Bakery stall had reduced the last of their chocolate brownie slices to a frankly unrefusable 50p each. We snapped up a Chilli And Lime and a Salted Caramel brownie slice to take away and both were very good.

Decisions ... 

Sunday, 19 June 2016

A festival weekend - Broadstock Saturday at Crowhurst

Continuing our run of busy weekends, we are cramming two festivals into this one! Yesterday we were fortunate to have been invited to join our friends Steve and Frances at a fabulous little festival local to their village of Crowhurst, near Hastings in East Sussex. Broadstock Music Festival has been running for several years now, with a brief hiatus last year, and takes place in the beautiful grounds of Broadwood. Limited to just 300 adult tickets, it's a perfect size of music festival for me and its proceeds are reinvested back into the village. There is a camping field, children's activities including a very good face painter, one music stage and two food options - pizza or cupcakes!

Before I mention the music, I will say thank you to
The Pizza Laundry 
everyone who baked cakes and womanned the refreshments stall. I should have taken a photo of the selection early in the day because it was certainly an enticing display! I thought the pizzas were tasty too and was glad to see the van doing a steady trade. If you spot this Pizza Laundry van anywhere, do give them a try! They really do have a wood fired oven in there and I was impressed with our very thin crust red onion, pine nut, mozzarella and basil pizza. I did mean to find out why the Pizza Laundry name, but forgot to go back and read the sign. If anyone knows, please Comment!

The main event for me was, of course, the music and,
Sharpe And Larsson at Broadstock 
although we only stayed until about half past seven rather than until the death at ten, we got talented musicians and a well-thought through variety. I was pleased to finally meet and hear local guitarist Hratch. He and Dave played together in pre-me days and we both loved his set. Entirely new to us were bluesy trio Sharpe And Larsson and this was perfect laid-back music for a sunny festival afternoon! If you liked their sound as much as I did, further dates are on Helen Sharpe's Facebook page and they are playing at a jazz breakfast in Crowhurst sometime in October. I'm not sure if we will be back this way again then or not.

Brief mentions also to two other sets that particularly caught my ear: we only got to hear Son Of Kirk as a duo instead of their usual four piece, but I loved their sound and lyrics and we tracked them down online when we got home to experience the full sound with cello. Love cello! My other favourites were Tunbridge Wells-based Island Cassettes with their fun indie/worldbeat music which reminded me a little of Graceland-era Paul Simon.

Huge thanks to everyone who made this festival happen. I'll finish with a few YouTubes so you can hear the great music too!

Friday, 17 June 2016

We see art in Worthing - Open Houses and along the Pier

I will admit that I had never thought of Sussex seaside
Trees by Frances Cheeseman 
town Worthing as being a particular hub of the art world so I was pleased to have this perception challenged on Friday when Dave and I visited the town to meet up with his daughter, Chrissie. We began by getting a preview of a few of the venues for the Worthing Artists Open Houses art trail event. This year promises to be the biggest and best yet seen in the town with sixty venues showing work by over 250 artists. The venues are open over three weekends - 18/19 June, 25/26 June and 2/3 July 2016 - and the work on show includes paintings, jewellery, sculpture, prints, stained glass, textiles and pots.

We took a look around Venue 39 which is Andy Manuell's Stonemason shop on South Street in Tarring. Work here includes painting, drawing, photography and collage and I was told that the shop enjoys keeping pieces on display all year, not just for the three weekends. I particularly liked a series of windswept trees by Frances Cheeseman (four pictured above) and also mixed media llama images by Jacqui Lauder.

Swordfish sculpture on Worthing seafront 
This swordfish sculpture is high on a wall outside Venue 8 - Coast Cafe Des Artistes on Beach Parade. There is a line of beach huts here too which are now artists' studios. Only a couple were open on a windy Wednesday afternoon but we did get to admire work at The Book Hut where Maudie Gunzie works to conserve and preserve vintage books by rebinding them and also sells elegant hand-bound notebooks and journals in varying designs and sizes.

After a lunch at the Indigo Restaurant - I enjoyed my Chickpea Chilli Burger, but Dave was a little underwhelmed by his Slow Cooked Pork Belly - we strolled onto the Victorian pier. Designed by Robert Rawlinson and opened in 1862 this beautiful structure is an attraction in its own right, but it also hosts the Creative Waves Art On The Pier initiative which is now in its fifth year. 2016-17 work showcases creative selfies made by local schoolchildren in a variety of media including clay, textiles and collage. There is also work by Northbrook College Art And Design students and a heritage exhibition of historic local postcards.

We needed to walk almost right to the end of the Pier to see all the art so, if you visit too, don't turn back too soon and miss it! On the way there are stained glass panels which caught our interest. They all have a Worthing theme and pictured below is one of two by Ferring artist Chris Brown. It commemorates the vast amounts of wood that washed ashore in January 2009 from the Ice Prince sinking off the Dorset coast  (remember that?). If you would like to see more of Chris's work, her Open House is Venue 60 on the Trail!

Plank Attack by Chris Brown 

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Review: Where To Invade Next, a documentary by Michael Moore

I'm quite a fan of Michael Moore films having enjoyed being both educated and shocked by Fahrenheit 9/11 and Bowling For Columbine. Therefore I was happy to spot his newest documentary Where To Invade Next in the Ritzy Cinema listings for the very evening when we were staying up near Brixton. The film was only released here on the 10th of June so, for once, I was one of the first to see a movie!

'Academy Award-winning director Michael Moore returns with what may be his most provocative and hilarious film yet: Moore tells the Pentagon to "stand down" — he will do the invading for America from now on. Where to Invade Next is an expansive, rib-tickling, and subversive comedy in which Moore, playing the role of “invader,” visits a host of nations to learn how the U.S. could improve its own prospects. The creator of Fahrenheit 9/11 and Bowling for Columbine is back with this hilarious and eye-opening call to arms. Turns out the solutions to America’s most entrenched problems already exist in the world—they’re just waiting to be co-opted.'

It's an unusual premise for a film and the three of us - myself, Dave and his daughter Carrie - were engrossed throughout the two hour screening. It helps that the Ritzy has very comfortable seats! I did feel a bit uncomfortable about Moore's marching everywhere carrying a large Stars And Stripes, but I guess that would appeal more to the folks back in America and it was a successful parody of their current imperialism. What fascinated me was the difference in views about work-life balance and how to live well between many of our European neighbours and ourselves. (Well, between them and America obviously but much of the UK's self-perception seems similar to America's.) We gawped at Italy's standard eight week holiday entitlement and Slovenia's universal free university education, and were impressed by France's school meals system - both the food itself and the the children eating as though in a restaurant - Tunisian women's bravery is inspiring and Iceland's gender laws with regard to company board composition could have prevented the banking crisis. Plus having not so long ago read One Of Us, about Anders Breivik, seeing Norway's rehabilitating prison system was particularly interesting especially as it was contrasted with brief glimpses of the brutality of American prisons.

A timely release considering the current Brexit hysteria, I wondered whether the common sense portrayed in Where To Invade Next will persuade any Leavers that some European ideas are actually pretty good. After all, we in Britain have EU legislation to thank for the 48 hour working week and paid annual leave (great article about this by Snigdha Nag here). Moore does present a rather one-sided view by plucking the best idea from each country he visited and not always presenting a realistic view of the struggles needed to achieve it. However these isolated idea grabs were pretty much the idea of the film and, overall, I thought we were left with an uplifting utopian view, but one which could actually be very achievable - if there wasn't always more emphasis on profit for a few rather than good lives for many.