How to Be a Good Ex

When you break up with someone, especially after a long time together, you go into a kind of mourning, unless of course you’re insufferably pompous like Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow and ‘consciously uncouple’ (pass the galvanized bucket and smelling salts please).

The longer couples are together, the more responsibilities they take on as a couple. House, kids, dog, loans, bigger bills and luxuries. It’s just what couples do. The more they earn, the more they spend, and they build a bigger and better life together.

But what happens when it all comes crashing down? It doesn’t matter the circumstances, whether she finds out her husband has a fetish for wearing lace underwear, or he finds out she quite fancies Gail in HR. Once a relationship is gone, there is no way of salvaging that part of the relationship.

It’s at this point, you have to both put all of your cards on the table. Clear the fog of war, so you both can see each other. The main thing is honesty, transparency, and keeping a level head.

If there are family aspects, you have no choice but to be a part of each others lives. You made the baby, you can turn your back on them now because you are no longer in love with the other parent.

You’ll have to endure graduation, weekly visits, milestone birthdays, weddings. Surely you can be civil for one night to each other.

The easiest way to achieve this, is to focus on the good times, and there must have been some, otherwise you wouldn’t have stayed together so long. Also, sending daily emails to each other is a good way to get the relationship (or lack thereof) alive without it being intimate. Simple ‘How are you?’ emails, Happy Birthdays and the like. Nothing too heavy, but still showing that although you’re not together, you can still actually care for someone and not want to take a sledge hammer to Great Aunt Ethyl’s priceless Ming Vase.

It is also imperative that you keep (in the early days) face to face contact to a bare minimum, even if that means you have to change jobs. That will only breed contention and resentment for both of you, especially if the other one moves on before you.

Eventually both parties move on, but be very careful with the subject. The last thing you need is a public bust up, especially on social media. Remove each other, block if you must, but for the love of Christ, I do not want to log into Facebook at 7am to have 300 updates on a spat between ex’s (you know who you are!).

Take time out for both of you to heal, but also think and discuss long and hard where you both think things have gone belly up, and how you think the entire situation could have been avoided for future reference. Ladies, pee on the toilet seat is not grounds for divorce!

 

Sorry Kids, But the World Isn’t Fair!

It’s a conversation we have every Monday morning up and down the country, from cradle to grave, ‘How was your weekend?’ ‘What did you do?’. It’s a simply human interaction that well have. Not our of nosey curiosity or even really that bothered, it’s just idle chit chat at the kettle in the office while we’re waiting for our first cuppa of the working day.

So for Brighton and Hove council to now BAN pupils from saying what they did over the weekend so as not to alienate poorer pupils is ridiculous. It is also a very good way for teachers to subtly find out a little more about their pupils home life.

It also reiterates to pupils that you can’t be busy every minute of every day you have off, and the average person doesn’t go to Alton Towers every weekend. Some pupils may well come from families with funds to take them into London to do the sites, but I doubt they do it every Weekend. There will be some weekends where one of the more impoverished pupils had a more eventful weekend than the wealthier one. It’s a fact that no 2 weekends are the same for 2 different people.

What about those that work shifts like nurses and doctors? They can’t have every weekend off, and occasionally alternative child care will have to be found. Or the miserable rainy weekends? Where no one wants to leave the warmth of their home, and so spend a day doing crafts of baking? How about grandma who you’ve not seen in 18 months coming to visit for a few days?

Are we no longer allowed to talk about our home lives for fear of offending someone? What’s next? We can’t get a haircut on a Saturday morning for fear of people noticing on Monday and them becoming upset because someone in the class may not have a resources to get their hair cut?

It’s absolute madness.

It’s a fact of life, some people come from wealthier families than others. It’s called ‘the lot we get in life’. We simply have to try and do better and to surpass the success of our parents. There is nothing wrong with not having much, and a study has found those who don’t have it all aren’t as materialistic, and see the beauty in things more readily than those who have everything.

Kids being kids today, will most likely have a games console, what if a group of them all had a weekend long tournament on Minecraft? Does the teacher not want to hear about how they got on? Or how about another group doing their ballet recital?

None of it is alienating, it’s just people having differing interests. When I was a kid, my weekends comprised of music, cooking and reading and I was quite happy with that. Occasionally we would go and do something, but as a family we are quite happy at home.

Try a Salmon Dish for Easter

I do know a lot of people out there will be looking or something different to have for their Easter dinner and with that in mind I would like to pass onto you my recipe for Salmon Fillets with Prawns and Warm Dijon Mustard Dressing.

This is quite a decadent dish and is full of subtle and unusual flavours you wouldn’t normally put together. Breaking with my usual mould, I will provide the recipe for both the fish AND the dressing.

This recipe is simple and quick, however, if you wish to make this in larger batches, you will have to be careful when reheating it as you can easily overcook the Salmon and Prawns.

Ingredients for 2 Salmon Fillets

2 Salmon Fillets, 1 hand full of Prawns (cooked and shelled) approx 10 – 16, 1 Shallot, finely chopped, 6 Cherry tomatoes, Halved, 1tsp Butter, Freshly Ground Black Pepper, TINY amount Lemon Juice

Ingredients for Dijon Dressing

1tsp Butter, ½ Clove Garlic (crushed), ½ tsp Dijon Mustard, ¼ Glass Dry White Wine.

Method for Making Salmon Fillets

Pre-heat oven to 200C, trim and prepare the salmon fillets removing the skin if preferred.

Finely dice Shallot and halve the Cherry Tomatoes

Soften the butter and combine with the pepper and the lemon juice.

On individual sheets of foil (enough to make a loose parcel) place the individual fillets, and top with ½ of the butter mixture.

Sprinkle over the Prawns, Shallot and Cherry Tomatoes.

Wrap the fish up in loose parcels, and leave to stand for 5 minutes in the fridge.

Remove from the fridge, and place into the oven for 15 – 20 minutes checking regularly.

Method for the Dijon Dressing

Add all ingredients to a sauce pan, bring to the boil and simmer until the desired consistency is achieved.

Serve with 2 Vegetable Sides and a side salad.

 

Save our green land. Build on Brown Belt!

The UK has a housing shortage. Unsurprisingly, the government wants to build more housing. However, why the holy hell do they want to do it on green belt land? I’m going to sound like a pretentious snob, but I don’t care. The world is full of the have’s, and have not’s, and the one thing that separates us, is the value of our home and the area we live in.

So why is the government trying to devalue our biggest asset by flooding the expensive green belt land with ‘affordable’ housing. Affordable housing unfortunately attracts the ‘wrong’ type of person to the area, and in turn brings the value of surrounding properties down.

There are hundreds of thousands of derelict buildings in the UK, knock them down and build on those. Why should those who pay the highest council tax be subjected to their property values plummeting because Bingo Wings Bev has moved in and can’t be arsed mowing her lawn?

It is snobbish of me to say, but I really couldn’t care less. We work hard for the nice things in life, be that a dream home, dream car, expensive jewellery. It doesn’t matter what it is, we work for it, and the last thing we want is for some pikey to move in and make the entire street look like a travelling circus has come to town. Or even worse, treat the entire street like their own personal garage with a load of clapped out old cars being stripped down for scrap, spares and repairs.

The former mills in the UK, most of which are structurally sound, could easily be converted into affordable flats. There are housing estates that have been empty for decades. There are even entire towns and villages that are overlooked, and nature has taken over. Build on them, not on the sparse greenery that we have left.

Making expensive areas affordable essentially brings the entire area down, and these wealthy planners should remember, that if they don’t want something on their doorstep, neither do we. I don’t want to wake up in a morning and see into my neighbours bedroom window, nor do I want them to be able to see into mine.

The whole point of getting nice things, is that you work hard for them, or marry someone that works hard, and you look after them. You move up in the world. Start with a pokey little flat at 18, and by the time you’re 40 you’ve moved to a better area, with a nicer property, a better car and higher class neighbours who don’t hold wild parties every weekend.

There needs to be a divide, and affordable doesn’t have to be cheap, but it can’t impact the wealthy either. Build on the already unused sites that are crumbling, THAT is affordable, don’t give the good stuff away, because I assure you, it will only end in tears when the Nuevo Riche with the etiquette of a Walrus move in and drag the entire area down.

 

More Betting Shops But Fewer Off Licenses in the UK!

Yet another high street name is going. But am I sad to see it go. I think you’ll find the resounding answer is NO! Bargain Booze in the next 10 days is due to go into administration after failing to raise funds for a £30million tax bill.

This comes as a significant blow to the high street, but let’s look at the pro’s and cons of the situation as a whole.

Con’s

There will be job losses should the company fold, and there will be a significant knock on effect in the supply and demand chain to pubs such as Weatherspoon, resulting in prices having to go up.

Yet more retail properties will sit empty.

The big 5 supermarkets will take over a larger chunk of the market.

Pro’s

There will be fewer drunks staggering around.

Teenagers are much more likely to not be seen on the park on a Friday and Saturday night with cheap bottles of Cider and MD 20/20 (I’ll get to this shortly).

General behaviour of people will improve.

When I was growing up, I lived in a pretty, little village that during winter looked like a Christmas Card, and in summer had the stunning backdrop of the rolling countryside. We had, and still have even after Tesco opened a new store, independent Butchers, Bakers, Green Grocers, Fish Mongers, Chip Shop, Post Office, Pubs, Cricket Club, Rugby Club, Bowls Club, Sweet Shop, Newsagents. In all, it’s a very idyllic place, somewhere that families pay through the nose to raise their children.

HOWEVER, there was one blight in the Village, and that was Booze Buster. An off licence whose owners actions were nearly as dubious as the name itself. Booze Buster was part of a chain of shops, and it specialized in, well, booze and cigarettes. However, having a population of the grand total of no more than 4000, and the fact the police were never seen because there was never any trouble, the law never really applied.

This meant that on Friday and Saturday nights, the park opposite the cricket club was a regular haunt for teenagers ranging from 13 – 16, some a little older congregating there, clubbing together and buying enough cider, 20/20, lager and Lambrini to sink a battleship. This led to the usual rowdiness. Never any major trouble, the kids were, and still are, taught how to behave, but they were a nuisance, especially in summer when they’re off for 6 weeks. Booze Buster did shut down, and now it’s a very nice home.

When Tesco opened, that was the nail in the coffin for the underagers, because of Tesco’s name, anyone caught serving underagers will be sacked on the spot. HURRAH!

 

Don’t get me wrong, my 15 year old niece is allowed a couple of drinks at home, under adult supervision, but I am so glad that she isn’t able to trot off down to Tesco to buy a load of cider, because the last thing I want is to hear she’s been drinking on the park and thrown up all over someone’s car.

Temperatures Set to Soar So Here Comes Summer

Now that Summer is FINALLY coming, a few pointers to keep you safe.

If winter is anything to go by, the western world is in for a pretty scorching summer. This means we’ll have lots of picnics, garden parties, barbecues and our alcohol consumption will go up by an untold amount.

However, you must be careful with the heat, because although it’s wonderful practically baking and the tan is always a welcome addition, the sun can be dangerous, especially to the very young or the very old.

Always carry a bottle of water with you while out and about. This will ensure that you don’t get dehydrated or overheat. I’ve seen older people keel over due to heat exhaustion than I care to count. They seem to think they are immune to the heat. It’s also a good idea to have a drink of water between alcoholic drinks too, as alcohol raises the bodies core temperature.

You should always slap on the sunscreen at every possible opportunity. Skin cancer kills, and the harmful rays from the sun cause cancer. SPF 50 may sound a little extreme, but if you don’t want to look like a cooked lobster, you need to apply regularly, even more so on children.  You’ll still get a tan, it will just be deeper as it takes longer to develop, and you won’t get sunburn.

Try and eat seasonal fruits and veggies. Nature is a wonderful thing, and the fruits of the earth deliberately come out at certain times of year and provide us with nutrients we need for each season. I know it makes me sound like a Vegan that hugs trees and philosophically debates on the ethics of eating a lettuce leaf, but it’s true, the earth provides everything we need for each season, so eating seasonal stuff not only makes your shopping cheaper, but you’ll also be getting a boost of essential vitamins and minerals.

If you insist of being a sun god or goddess, try and keep tabs on how my time you spend in the sun, you’re meant to enjoy the sun, not turn yourself into a walking strip of beef jerky! Looking like Madge off Benidorm (UK TV show) is not a good look, and too much exposure to the sun can dry your skin out to the point where it resembles a Doc Marten boot!

When drinking alcohol in the sun, be very careful with how much you’re taking in, it’s not a race to get paralytic, take your time, even water it down. We are meant to enjoy alcohol; not drink so much of it we’re sleeping in the street and vomiting in Doris at number 39’s prized rose bushes at 3am.

It should really be common sense; however, it always seems to take its leave when the sun comes out, and humans seem to think they are indestructible and immune to the sun and the affects it can have on us. So just be careful when enjoying the good weather.

Ball Tampering Infuriates Cricket Bettors

The captain of the Australian Cricket Team, Steve Smith has admitted to cheating in a game against South Africa by tampering with the ball.

This has justifiably outraged many, Australians and South Africans alike.

Simply put, the bowler tampered with the ball by rubbing it with a rough piece of tape, which then affected the way the ball behaves. This then gives the bowling side an unfair advantage, thus making it easier for them to win.

Now I’m not a cricket (or any sport) fan. But even I know that tampering is against the rules. It’s like giving a huge middle finger to the authorities and ICC, and displaying such behaviour is not a good thing for our children to look up to.

It’s a GAME. You should be PLAYING it for the joy of playing it, not because someone is paying you a huge amount, or even more shady, there’s a large gambling firm offering a handsome sum of money for you to tamper with it.

Seriously, seeing a load of grown men cheat, and I’m not only talking in the world of Cricket. Football, rugby, cycling, the Olympics. It doesn’t matter, dishonestly giving yourself an advantage is very low. Especially when it’s these very sports people that bang on about not cheating and how it damages the reputation of the game.

Err, hello. What do you think ball tampering is?

Fans are calling for the entire team to be sacked and it could very well lead to hefty fines and even bans for the players involved. Why on earth, when you have a job that only us mere mortals could wish for, would you put it in jeopardy?

From this day forward, they will only be known as cheaters and frauds. A damning description for anyone to have to carry. Not to mention a sports person who is known the world over. Furthermore the fact the senior players and the coach knew what was going on makes this even more shambolic and diabolical. It’s no wonder the UK never win against Australia if they adopt dirty tactics like this.

So I’m with the fans. Sack the lot of them, because there are thousands of other proficient players who would happily take their places and probably for a fraction of the pay too.

Coming from a little village, I’ve seen my local football, rugby and cricket teams play, and if a player was ever discovered to be cheating, they would have a lifetime ban from playing at all of them and most likely be snubbed by the entire village.

Cheating in any sport is bad, doing it so you can get financial gain is even worse. You’re literally being paid to play a game. Count yourself lucky! If I was being paid to play games all day, I’d be a happy man!

Is it Bad to Teach Kids to be Scheming?

The wealthy father of 2 children who were held hostage in their own home for several minutes by an armed gang, along with their grandparents has spoken out about how his 12-year-old son had the sense to conceal a landline phone on his person during the ordeal while the robbers ransacked the house to steal valuables.

Now to some people, myself included, being one step ahead is second nature, for others, it’s something that has to be learned. But with the number of break ins at wealthy addresses on the rise, it is important that we teach our kids how to scheme and be sneaky.

From bugging rooms with concealed mobile phones while on the line to the police, to showing lack of interest, ‘go on, have it, it’s insured’. Even goading them ‘have the phone, but give me the SIM card and Memory Card please’. There are all kinds of ways you can play these types of people, and given the description, they sound to be travellers, which usually means they lack the intelligence to know they’re being played at their own game.

In these large houses, there are loads of nooks and crannies, attic spaces here there and everywhere, all you’d have to do is install a panic button in one of them that links direct to the police and let the family know where to find it.

Concealing things is the oldest trick in the book, but armed robbers like this aren’t looking for minor things like laptops and TV’s, they’re looking for jewels, watches and anything that is near as damn it untraceable. Pepper Spray is always a good option, especially in a girls room, kept next to the hairspray and other hair and beauty type stuff, while in a boys room, next to the collection of Deodorant.

I’d even go as far as concealing weapons, though I don’t condone violence, a baseball bat and Retractable knife can really put the fear of Christ in people, especially if you show you’re not afraid to use it (you’ll have to call the plasterers later). There is also the alcoholics trick (it works every time), wrap something in a plastic bag and hide it in the cistern. No robber is going to think of checking your plumbing, and if they do, ask them for a quote on getting the entire bathroom re-plumbed.

Being blasé is a powerful tool in these situations, especially because if like the family in question, you have CCTV that also records audio, the more you have them talking, the more their voices are heard and the more chance of voice recognition software picking them up.

Airports are Getting Way Too Greedy

Airports in the UK are on a cash grab again, and have been for decades. This time it’s Manchester Airport, who are removing their free drop off zones which are close to the entrances and charging for the privilege. The free drop off zones are now more than a mile away, and you’ll have to get a shuttle service into the airport.

This isn’t the first time that airports have used dirty tactics for extracting every last penny out of travellers. Leeds Bradford airport, last time I flew in, force you into a one way street, with the only exit having a £3.00 charge, despite not even stopping for more than 2 minutes.

Needless to say, my sister in law (all 4’9” of her) was having none of it. She got to the bollard, removed her key from the ignition and refused to move until she was let out. Causing chaos behind us as no one else could get out. They soon let her go on her way!

This is just more and more proof that airport bosses are becoming so consumed with profits they’ll stop at nearly nothing and stoop to any level to squeeze as much revenue out of customers.

At least Newcastle and Edinburgh have the infrastructure in place (a tram from the city centre) to actually warrant not requiring as many drop off and pick up spaces. But still, for Manchester to do this with only the train, which at best is about as comfortable as sitting on an old church pew, is diabolical, especially when Manchester Airport isn’t paying for the tram at all! Metrolink will be paying for the service to be extended to the airport.

It also riles me, that most people don’t carry exact change with them, and the use of contactless payments is somewhat dubious, especially at unmanned stations, as they can easily be tampered with to allow fraudsters to clone cards and use data.

There are a lot of things that are wrong with Manchester Airport, one of which is that the revenue they do make, doesn’t seem to go into improvements of the Airport itself, yet the Chief Exec is on a 6 figure salary!

All I can say is that, unless they start making some serious improvements to the airport itself, I’ll be boycotting it like the plague, because it’s like a stealth tax. It wouldn’t surprise me if they invoiced the NHS for picking up an ill passenger. That seems to be the type of business they’re running.

What if there was an emergency like a fire that couldn’t be contained solely by the onsite brigade? Would they charge fire and rescue for putting it out? What about police if there was an incident?

This is money grabbing at its lowest, and if they are unprepared to put a reasonable infrastructure into place, then why should punters have to pay for a substandard service when the airport already makes millions in revenue off retail?

 

Cooking Back in the Good Old 1970’s

The 70’s was a pivotal decade for the cookery show, with the likes of Fanny Cradock, Delia Smith and a whole host of others exploring the potential of making food a little more interesting, especially as the UK had only just really managed to claw its way out of recession and quality of life was on  the up.

Food is a bit like fashion, it goes in circles. I’m currently wearing styles similar to those my parents wore in the 80’s, and I bet in 2028, I’ll be wearing styles I was wearing in the 2000’s. So why should food be any different, after all, prices rise and fall depending on supply and demand, and because of that, certain dishes come in and out of flavour (excuse the pun).

The BBC is releasing 50 of their cookery show episodes onto iPlayer to give us a glimpse of what chefs and cooks were really doing in the 70’s. A fascinating insight, considering a report has claimed that My generation could be lacking Vitamin D as they are shunning more traditional dishes, such as Tripe and Jellied Eels for more trendy (and aesthetically pleasing) foods.

It also will highlight how the Vegan diet isn’t a one size fits all, and diets have to be constructed around an individual, not an entire group

We’ll probably be treated to Craddock’s green mash, Delia’s entire episode on how to boil an egg, and possibly some of the more exotic cuisine that the Brits started to enjoy during the 70’s.

There is something to be said however about these older shows. They didn’t take for granted what a ‘Julliene’ cut was, so this was explained, as was how to ‘Flambé’ and other terms the new generation of chefs take for granted that they think we all know. Even Good Housekeeping magazine does it, which can make some catering tasks very daunting, especially when it involves booze, fire and putting it out.

So let’s see these older episodes, it could be pretty educational for wannabe home cooks who aren’t sure where to start.

After the revelation that poorer children are getting fatter due to junk food being cheap, I say that’s a load of cods whollop, to put it politely. I can make a meal to serve 10 – 15 people for under £10. All it takes is a little bit of common sense, a bit of forethought and looking at what is in season. How hard is it to look at your seasonal produce and pick your own?

It’s lazy people literally giving their kids ready meals morning, noon and night which are full of sugar, saturated fat and salt. This is why people are piling on the pounds. A ready meal is like a take away. A convenience to be enjoyed only rarely, not as a staple of your diet. If you want to make your own ready meals, that is much healthier, and cheaper than any supermarket offering.