Tuesday, 30 March 2010


Ok, so in my attempt to blog more I'm sharing more of my Uni stuff (which is probably making most of you lose the will to live and for that I do apologise)...the trouble is that, at the moment, I have no life so if I don't blog about Uni then I don't blog!!

I've been working on a new drawing for my learning log around the concept of Identity. I took part in a social policy simulation called Vibe City (140 students from four different Universities) which I found extremely challenging. As part of the exercise I was representing the Business Sector so had to drastically alter how I would normally have approached the issues that needed addressed and that had an impact on how people dealt with me during the exercise. It got me thinking about issues of Identity...the social groups and catergories that form part of our self worth, the personal values and convictions that form our personal identity and also how what we do for a living are all tied up in what makes us....well, us (does that make any sense what-so-ever?). After the Vibe City experience I persuaded Tom to come with me to see the exhibition 'Identity: Eight rooms, nine lives' which is currently on at the Wellcome Trust which was absolutely fasinating...did you know, for example, that we now have cases of identical twins born five years apart? (That boggled my mind till I thought about it...same egg + same sperm + frozen = identical twin)

Erm, that was rather a long introduction to my latest scribbling....sorry about that...here it is (Click on it if you want to see a bigger version)

Monday, 29 March 2010

The Stupid Test

Well, we've not been up to much recently so I thought I would share this wee test I came across the other day.

Go on, have a go and let me know how you get on....

Take this quiz: The stupid test

My Results: Obviously I'm not as stupid as I look!!

The stupid test

My Quiz Result: You have failed the stupid test. You aren't as stupid as you think you are. Try living on with your smartness.

Take this quiz: The stupid test

Take more quizzes, myspace quizzes and fun quizzes on personality, love and other topics.

Friday, 26 March 2010

A worthwhile project?

I blogged about the big project I was doing for Uni and THINk last semester, The Community Profile on Housebound People, so I thought I would share what I'm currently working on....

First a bit of scene setting...

The NHS and Local Authorities have a responsibility to inform, involve, engage and consult the local population and current users of specific services including those on issues regarding healthy lifestyles and access to and improvement of health and social care services. As part of this obligation commissioners need to collect local information and ensure user and public engagement influences their commitment to driving up the quality of service's provided.

What currently happens is that they employ external consultants who paracute into the community and then seek input from overworked and under resourced community organisations who feel compelled to help them for little or no remuneration in the hope that it might lead to better services for their users. When the lucrative contracts end these external companies bugger off leaving little in the way of social captial or understanding.

(Social Capital is defined as the 'wealth (or benefit) that exists because of an individual's relationships. It's the value created by fostering connections between individuals)

My Project:

I am trying to set up a partnership of Voluntary and Community Organisations (VCO's) that have expertise in community consultation and engagement. I believe that a group of local VCO's could provide an effective alternative to what's currently happening by:

* Offering better value for money

* Obtaining more meaningful results

* Obtaining a higher number of respondents

* Reaching marginalised groups

The benefits of using this approach would be

* Capacity building takes place within the community organisations

* Local people gain new skills and feel empowered by the experience

* Money is recycled within the community

* Results are fed back to the community

* Ties are formed that can be utilised in the future

I believe, and it's been proven (I was involved in a similar project in Salford), that by joining forces the 3rd sector can bid for, and secure, larger pieces of consultation work which we would be discounted from if we acted individually.

And you want to know the best bit? THINk are actually willing to give me some of their consultation budget so that I can prove that the model works!!
I am so excited....

Whispers *and they may be able to secure some funding to pay me to implement the project*

Sunday, 21 March 2010

It's just the best....

The gorgoeus DJ over at Chez Aspie has tagged me to do a 'Best' meme. So here goes....

1. Best food? Curry...you just can't beat a good curry!! (which is why we had one on our wedding day!)

2. Best day of the year? I can't think of a best day of the year....any one that involves friends, laughter and food is pretty good in my book!!

3. Best day of the week? I love Sundays! Chris and I usually spend the day chilling or sometimes we'll go do some exploring and then we'll come back and cook something yummy.

4. Best de-stresser? Drawing and cooking (obviously not at the same time...that would just get messy!!)

5. Best toy as a child? I had a dressing up box full of my Mum's old clothes, shoes and make up and I loved it!! I would spend hours in my room getting all dressed up...the rainbow skirt was my favourite (Oh how I shudder to think of it now!!)

6. Best season? It's got to be autumn...crisp cold afternoons with blue skys and trees that look like they are on fire! I didn't realise how much I loved it till we lived in Thailand...they don't have an autumn!

7. Best living arrangements? Erm, anywhere Chris is! (Feel free to barf in the nearest bucket!)

8. Best flower? Orchids...love love love em!! I used to buy huge bundles of them for next to nothing when I lived in Thailand...the house would be covered in them after a trip to the flower market.

9. Best book ever? I'm with DJ on this one...Impossible to choose one!!

10. Best exercise? There's a best exercise?? Really??

I enjoyed doing this...thanks DJ :-)

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Emic and Etic Perspectives

I have 20 minutes before my train leaves for Malmesbury so I thought I would attempt to keep my promise to blog a bit more!

A while ago the lovely Molly over at Just pleasantly floundering around (a fab blog go check it out if you've not already) wrote a post based on Emic and Etic perspectives. In a strange coincedence I had just been introduced to the topic in my Social Structures and Policies Module and had produced a drawing for my learning log based on the concepts. I have to write 150 words each week on my learning so it's brief but I promised Molly that I would blog about it so here is Week 1 of my learning log.

WEEK ONE - AN INTRODUCTION TO BRITISH SOCIETY (Lecture took plane on the 10th Feb 2010)

The session covered:

- The importance of exploring a topic/policy from Emic and Etic perspectives.

- An introduction to the demography of the British population with particular emphasis on critical analys of statistical data.

- Participatory exercise regarding the policies relevant to settling a refugee family into Britain.


It is essential to understand, and learn to question, what perspective an issue is being viewed from.Jargon automatically alienates but it never occurred to me that my perspective, whether from an Institutional perspective (Emic) or from a community-minded one (Etic), could also alientate.

I need to make the time to reflect on my own personal experience as well as look at the environment in which I live from outside that experience.

Conscientisation is a process through which people become critically aware of their surroundings (Freire, 1972) and, with regard to statistical data, it is one I have gone through. In future I will question!

Application of Ideas:

During a discussion regarding the trial of a 999 emergency text messaging service, changing my perspective from Emic to Etic automatically produced a different set of questions to ask.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Have I got news for you....

This last week has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster!!

Last wednesday we were told at Uni that our results would be out on Monday. The guy that told us then went on to say that not everyone had passed everything and as he said it his glance landed on me....so what did I do?....managed to convince myself that I had messed up and had failed a section of one of my modules. It didn't help that when I was working on my last assignment for the course I had been working from three different computers on four different drafts and had got myself in a bit of a fankle when i discovered that I wasn't actually working on my latest draft!!

I felt a bit sick on Sunday night and then on Monday when I checked the website....nothing!! I called the postgrad centre and they told me that the results didn't come out till today!! Great...two more days of stressing!!

This morning I sat down, logged in and...there were only results of one module!! The one that I wasn't worried about!! So, another phone call to the postgrad centre and they told me.....

I passed both modules!!

and I didn't just pass....

I got two A's!!

I can't tell you how relieved I am and pleased and relieved....


On a slightly different note, for those of your interested in all writerly things the blog Type M for Murder now has five different writers, each blogging one day a week, writing about well, erm....writing!!

On Moday's it's Vicki Delany who writes everything from standalone novels of suspense (Burden of Memory) to traditional village/police procedural series set in B.C. (Valley of the Lost). She has also written a light-hearted historical series (Gold Digger) set during the Klondike Gold Rush.

On Tuesday's it's Rick Blechta who writes about his two passions in life: mysteries and music.

On Wednesday's it's Debby Atkinson who's mysteries portray an insider's view of Hawai'i, a perspective the tour books never show.

On Thursday's it's John R Corrigan who is a teacher of English and Mystery Literature and writes the Jack Austin mysteries, set amid day-to-day life on the PGA Tour.

On Friday's it's Peter May (yes, another shameless plug for my Dad) who has written six thrillers set in modern China, several stand-alones including a thriller set in the virtual world, Second Life, and is currently writing the Enzo Files cold-case series set in France, where he lives.

and on Saturday's it's Donis Casey who writes the Alafair Tucker series set in Oklahoma circa 1900.

Worth checking out if you've not already!

Monday, 1 March 2010

I have discovered a new love...

but before I tell you that...can someone please tell me where the hell february went? I was full of good blogging intentions but they seem to have gone to pot!! (Must try harder)

Anyway, yes, new love...

My new love is....wait for it....The Fondue (now you didn't expect that did you and before you ask....No, not a cuddly toy in sight :-D)

We had our first one ever the other night and I absolutely loved it!! (I made one about five years ago, in a crappy fondue set, which was lovely for about two minutes till the cheese burnt at the bottom and then it just tasted...well....burnt....so I'm not counting that one!) We have been talking about trying to have a get together with our neighbours for.....oooohh nearly a year now and on Saturday we finally managed it!!

Rhiannon provided the fondue set, bread, mushrooms and a few other bits and pieces for the recipe, Steve and Michelle brought the wine (and numerous bottles of whisky...) and Chris and I provided the venue and bought the cheese. The recipe was stunning...we had Crumbly and Creamy blue cheese mixed together with port and walnuts and it was absolutely dreamy!! (I was so inspired that yesterday I bought a fondue set (Cast Iron and a bargain at £19.99), gel and a cookbook from Amazon....I can't wait till it arrives!). We had an absolute hoot and drank waaaay too much!! We got through two bottles of champers, six bottles of wine and then we went onto the whisky (who's silly idea was that then?).

Rhiannon is only little and can therefore only drink a little....she ended up with her head on the table saying 'I'm fine. I'm still listening but I can't move my head'. She wasn't the only one struggling....I have to admit that I did suffer slightly the following day!!

If any of you are interested...here's the recipe:

Blue Cheese, Port and Walnut Fondue


· 1 cup tawny port wine

· 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

· 2 tablespoons cornstarch

· 3 cups blue cheese, crumbled (we used three quarters crumbly and 1 quarter creamy)

· 1 cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped

· 2 tablespoons sour cream

· Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


In a medium size, heavy bottom sauce pan, bring 2/3 cup of port wine and lemon juice to a simmer. In a separate bowl, mix the remaining port with the cornstarch until smooth and add to the pot. Cook for 1 minute. Once the mixture is quite dense, gradually stir in the cheese. One the cheese is melted, remove from the heart. Add the walnuts and sour cream and incorporate well into the mixture. Season with the sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Transfer to a fondue pot. Service with walnut bread, mushrooms and broccoli.

(It would probably be lovely with sausage or chicken too but Rhi is a vegetarian so we went with the bread, mushrooms and broccoli)