Friday, 28 August 2009

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Funday Monday

So christened by my husband because we actually went out for once! El Molino on Holloway Road is as good as ever, the best tapas bar I know. Saw Inglourious Basterds afterwards, thought it was excellent, Tarantino back to his best and Christoph Waltz (I think!) amazing as Landa.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Fun in the sun

Spent a lovely weekend with Tim, Sarah and Sadie-May - she's so adorable! Logan loves his little cousin.

After a 20-minute run

Proof that I am actually training for the 5k in a few weeks - I don't think I'll be challenging Paula Radcliffe for the marathon crown any time soon.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Give me all your hard-earned cash

Highbrow tweeting

In a radical move the Royal Opera House is staging an opera composed of Twitter postings to @youropera.

Get your tweets in now.

Very allergic little boy

Logan has food allergies (wheat and egg) and I often find myself apologetically asking about ingredients when we're out (ice cream often contains egg, sausages and burgers are sometimes bulked out with flour, the list goes on!). Kids' menus particularly seem to favour wheat products - burgers, sausages, chicken nuggets, pasta for the healthy ones - so we often end up paying for an adult meal when we know he'll only eat half.

So it's refreshing to read a blog post on the Guardian Word of Mouth site today and see that we're not the only ones. G2 has even taste tested some of the top brands (gluten free is all very well but soggy pasta is a sad trade-off!).

When Logan's allergy first emerged, I felt almost as if I was jumping on the bandwagon - so many babies seem to have allergies these days, and I was wary of being seen as an over-protective mother. But there is no denying the telltale spots that appear whenever he eats wheat or egg, or the breathing problems they caused when he was tiny.

Thankfully food manufacturers seem finally to be recognising that people with allergies don't want to survive on a diet of brown rice. The Free From section at our local supermarket has tripled in size since Logan was first diagnosed, and birthday parties will be a breeze when he's older, with gluten free breadbuns, cupcakes, caramel slices and even jaffa cakes to choose from.

Check out the Allergy UK and Coeliac UK websites for advice and a list of safe gluten-free products.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Eurovision gets political

All right, I know it's riddled with political voting and has been for years, but this time it's serious. Viewers in Azerbaijan who voted for the Armenian song have apparently had a 'friendly' visit from the police.

Monday, 17 August 2009

High Tea

Mark and I escaped for an hour to sample the tea and cakes at High Tea in Highgate village. Lemon drizzle cake and Russian caravan tea in the garden is the perfect way to spend a Friday afternoon!

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Baked goods of the week

Gran and mum have been down for a visit, so I set Gran to work in the kitchen making a blackberry pie, a real favourite from childhood. Delicious!

Spot the family resemblance!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Name that bird!

It's been spotted on the canal in King's Cross for a few months now (it's kind of adopted Holly), and it's obviously not a native to British inland waters. But what is it? It sits very low in the water, and spends most of the time diving for fish. Curiouser and curiouser.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

A walk in the woods

We went on a family outing to Coppetts Wood on Sunday, a nature reserve nestled behind Tesco by the North Circular. It's full of apple trees, plum trees and bramble bushes for foraging, and there are ponds and logs scattered around.

Bramble picking - made lovely jam!

Friday, 7 August 2009

Death of a legend

John Hughes died yesterday, of a heart attack; he was only 59.

Hughes was responsible for some of the best 1980s brat pack films, including my favourite film of all time, The Breakfast Club, as well as Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Weird Science, Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink. His films were a huge part of growing up for my generation. I can't hear the opening bars of Don't You Forget About Me without smiling.

A tribute night is definitely called for, any takers?

On a cheerier note

I baked bread for the first time ever today and I'm converted! All that kneading is very therapeutic, it's so satisfying watching the dough rise and the smell of baking bread is absolutely divine. What's not to love?

Spring onion and ricotta loaf - lovely warm with a slab of butter.

Ronnie Biggs

So finally Jack Straw has seen sense and agreed to release Ronnie Biggs on compassionate grounds.

I know there's little sympathy for Biggs, and I'm not about to defend his character or claim he's just been misunderstood - he was convicted for stealing £2.6m from a train, and had 26 previous convictions. A year into his sentence he escaped from prison and fled, spending 36 years sunning himself overseas. This is not a miscarriage of justice - he has served only nine years of a 30-year sentence.

But Biggs is not the master criminal his reputation suggests. His only role in the robbery was to secure the services of a getaway train driver, and to load the money onto waiting trucks. He wasn't the one who attacked Jack Mills, the driver of the targeted train (despite dubious suggestions to the contrary Mills died of unrelated luekaemia 7 years later). And he can hardly be said to pose a threat these days. He was already ailing when he returned to the UK in 2001, and over the past few years has suffered strokes that have left him debilitated. We're not talking about a criminal warlord who will go on the rob again as soon as he has the chance; Biggs is a frail and dying old man.

And there is more at play here. We have a system in this country where people who are convicted of a crime serve their sentence and then are released, with a clean slate, to live their life like any other free citizen. At least, that's how it should work.

But the media, in particular the tabloid press, loves to get involved in notorious cases like this, allegedly to protect the interests of the British public but really because they know scandal sells. The same happened when new identities were given on release to the killers of James Bulger, to Maxine Carr (whose only crime was to fall for the wrong man) and even to Mary Bell decades ago. They had served their time and it was only right that they were given a second chance, but the tabloid media attempted to wield their mighty power and serve as judge and jury above and beyond the law.

Jack Straw refused to grant Biggs parole last month because he was "unrepentant", but he must also have known the tabloid storm that would have followed had he allowed Biggs to go free. Too often it seems that home secretaries make decisions on high-profile criminals based on what the press thinks. Now at least Biggs is free to die with dignity.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Painting up a storm

Drying on the balcony


Footprint (he wouldn't get his hands dirty!)

Fish! Very proud of this one.

More fish (I think)