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Stop Loafing Around – Calling Young Bakers

Fancy doing something a little different?  Get your pinny on and enter the Tiptree World Bread Awards.

The annual Tiptree World Bread Awards with Brook Foods, is open to both amateur and professional bakers.  The purpose of the awards, is to celebrate the art of bread making.

The Kitchen Aid Young Baker category is looking for the next generation of young British bread makers and has two age groups;

  • Under 12
  • 12-17.

In addition to an Award, each winner will be invited (with an adult), to attend the VIP Awards reception in London in October and will also receive a Kitchen Aid Artisan 4.8L Tilt Head Stand Mixer (worth £499) in Empire Red.

If you want to see one of the iconic mixers in action, pop along to the new Experience Store in the heart of London’s West End on Wigmore Street.

The expert panel of judges for this category includes:

  • Martha Collison, the youngest ever Great British Bake Off contestant and now, food columnist for Waitrose Weekend.
  • Fiona Hamilton Fairley, Principal of the Kids Cookery School.

Bread is a huge industry in the UK with over 12 million loaves sold every day and the phenomenal success of programmes such as Great British Bake Off, have played a significant role in re-igniting Britain’s interest in home baking.

To enter, simply click here…

The deadline is 6 September 2017.

The overall winner of Tiptree World Bread Awards with Brook Food will be presented with a £1,000 cash prize, along with a Kitchen Aid Artisan 6.9L Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer, Artisan Toaster and Artisan Kettle (worth over £1,000).

This competition is not affiliated or associated in any way with the Scottish Mum Blog.  We are not responsible for any contact or entry you make into the competition.

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So, Can Burnt Toast Give You Cancer?

This topic smacks right back to earlier days, and the Edwina Currie scaremongering of eggs.  Poor eggs hadn’t done anything wrong, and I was pretty sure that slightly charred food was going to be in the same league….

No point in me just blustering though, as without any evidence, our ‘gut’ feeling isn’t ever going to be enough.  Most of us older people are probably not going to bat much of an eyelid at the claim, but for new mothers, or those with younger children, it probably did cause many of them a right worrying day or two.    And the news since, hasn’t toned it down much either.

And really, how on earth did burnt toast and poor roast potatoes, our Christmas staple, become linked with cancer?

If you read the Guardian, we find out about acrylamide and a 1997 happening in Sweden where cows dropped dead, fish floated lifeless and construction workers became ill.  A subsequent study later showed that the control group also had acrylamide in their systems and that it’s probably present in our environment in some way, despite the chemical being toxic and not found naturally in animals.  The link was eventually found to ‘probably’ be in processed food, more likely in starchy foods like bread and potatoes, cooked at high temperatures.

The Food Standards Agency

Acrylamide is a chemical substance formed by a reaction between amino acids and sugars. It typically occurs when foods with high starch content such as potatoes, root vegetables and bread, are cooked at high temperatures (over 120°C) in a process of frying, roasting or baking.

Acrylamide is not deliberately added to foods, it is a natural by-product of the cooking process and has always been present in our food.

The Food Standards Agency released their Go For Gold campaign.  You can read about it here, from the 27th January.   It aims to minimise harmful levels of acrylamide in our own cooking at home, by:

  1. Aiming for a light colour when frying, baking, toasting or roasting starchy foods.
  2. Checking the pack for cooking instructions and following them.
  3. Eating a balanced diet, with a mix of foods.
  4. Asking us not to keep raw potatoes in the fridge, as they say, keeping potatoes in a fridge can increase acrylamide levels.

Is There A Cancer Risk From Eating Burnt Starchy Foods?

How long is a piece of string?  I have no idea.  Everywhere I have looked, uses the words ‘possible,’ ‘probably,’ or ‘unlikely in daily living.’  Studies are likely to have been carried out at levels far above the consumption of humans, but we don’t know for certain.  Acrylamide could be classed as a possible carcinogen, but then again, so can many other things.

The advice not to burn toast, is likely just a help, to not compound any possible levels inside our bodies already.

Should We Stop Eating High Starchy Foods?

None of us can tell anyone else what they should or shouldn’t eat.  It’s very much a personal choice and we have to look at the potential, then weigh up the risks for ourselves and our families.  For me, that would be daft.  Bread and potatoes are almost a whole food group in our house.

What Do I Think?

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Should there be a sugar tax?

One of the things that’s really irritated me in the news recently, is the whole kerfuffle about sugar tax, and how adding a sugar tax is going to wipe the floor with our overweight and unhealthy population.

From the tone of my comments, you’ll probably realise that I think that is pure shredded cabbage, rotted in a pile for a month…..

Who will suffer with a sugar tax?  Well you can betcha it isn’t going to be the person who is addicted to sugar and who can afford it.  Actually, like smoking and drinking, other members of the family tend to have to miss out on other luxuries so the addictive substance can still be sought.  It’s by the by that sugar in itself might not even be addicting, but for people who have a craving for something sweet, and the means to get hold of it, it’s not going to stop.

If there was talk of a sugar tax and compulsory education for family purse wielders, to give them good alternatives, I’d be more happy with it.  I don’t like the idea of sugar, but I also don’t think it deserves to be demonised the way that it is.  Like everything else, it has a place in a balanced diet, if used sensibly.

If we’re going down the route of a sugar tax, why not a saturated fat tax, or a refined wheat tax, or a crappy butter substitute tax, or a chemical additive tax.  Actually, why not just tax everything apart from fruit, veg and whole grains, and the nanny state can decide everything we put in our  mouths.  Then, they’ll have to find the money to fill in for the space left by the lack of incoming tax from all the people who used to work in those industries.

Sugar tax – it’s ridiculous in my opinion.  If they’re going to go the route of diabetics and give everyone education on healthy eating, or report it to their doctor, then fair enough, but for heavens sake, they get enough tax from us all already, without upping an additive to food, that for some people might be the only food they can afford that day.

Look at it this way, if someone has a quid in their pocket and four mouths to feed, and on the reduced shelf, there’s a pack of lettuce leaves and tomatoes, and a whopping great trifle, which one are they going to pick?  I’m sure I’d take the processed trifle as it would stop crying bairns, but that’s possibly just me.


In that way, they’d be forced to find alternative methods and more healthy ways of adding sweetness or palatability to food.

Soap box over..

Leave sugar alone…

Sheesh, and I’m a diabetic who almost totally avoids sugar where at all possible.  The sugar is not the bad guy.

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Is it ‘right’ to ban high sugar products?

Ok, I’ve read the hype and the arguments and I have a point of view on this.  As the general consensus seems to have been bashing Tesco for deciding to ban some high sugar products, I thought I should add my balance to the argument.  For the record, this post is not sponsored or in conjunction with any brand of any kind, and is just my opinion.

The conversation seems to be based around the following principles:sugar

  • Tesco banning sweets from checkouts.
  • Promoting energy drinks as a healthier alternative.
  • Removing some high sugar drinks from sale.
  • Sugar Consumption.
  • Obesity.

Banning Sweets from Checkouts

Kudos to Tesco for this.  Every journey begins somewhere.

Ok, there is still a learning curve, and perhaps individual store managers have a say on what does get promoted, but on the whole, this is a great initiative.  I’m not convinced that dried fruit has a place here either, as the sugar content is still high, and our bodies treat all carbs as sugar, but if it’s a choice between candy and dried fruit, isn’t it better if children pick the dried fruit (and adults for that matter).

Promoting Energy Drinks as a Healthier Alternative

I guess we could say that this is actually true in some respects, though perhaps it would be better if we tried to work with retailers on what’s acceptable and what is not.  After all, we all have differing opinions.  As a diabetic who also has to manage someone else’s diabetes, I’d much rather deal with aspartame than high sugar, but if I can get rid of the aspartame, I will.  I don’t think we know enough about it to know how safe it is long-term.

It’s not the shop who is at fault with the sweeteners, it’s ours.  There are alternative ways to sweeten products, but we choose to buy ones loaded with aspartame.  I know I’d rather drink an aspartame product than an added sugar one, but that’s just me.

The caffeine element is not so easy for me to rationalise, as the drinks say they are not suitable for children.  Checkouts are very much driven by impulse last-minute buys by everyone in stores and I find plenty of shops that sell high caffeine energy drinks to kids.

Even my local shop does it.  It’s not illegal, and a couple of glasses of most brands of cola, or a few cups of coffee will add up to the same caffeine intake, but does not gather such vitriol as energy drinks.

I don’t like the promotion, but I can see where it came from, and to some extent, it applies to almost all shops that sell energy drinks and fizzy stuff.

Removing some High Sugar Drinks from Sale

I am really struggling to find the downside of this…..

I think people are perhaps confusing the removal of drinks with added sugar, with the removal of products that are high in sugar naturally.

In the Telegraph, David Beardmore, soft drinks buying manager for Tesco explained that it is part of a ten point plan against obesity, and that from September, they will only sell no-added-sugar drinks in the childrens juice categories.

Read that again.  no-added-sugar…..

It’s seems to have nothing to do with the brands of Ribena, Capri-Sun, Ribicon, or anything else.  It’s about removing products which are loaded up with extra sugar.  That’s sugar that nobody needs in their life.  Ever.

He also states, that most of the suppliers are supportive.

The manufacturers are free to modify products to contain no added sugar, and I suspect they would be stocked once again.  It wouldn’t be a bad thing for us to develop a less sweet tooth than we currently seem to have as a species overall.

Sugar Consumption

Look at the back of almost every processed product you buy, and in there will a label that tells us all about the carbohydrates.  Most of us tend to scan the list and take a look at the sugar content, forgetting that all carbs are treated as sugar in our bodies.

Let’s face it, even soups, pasta, ready meals and all sorts have sugar bumped into them.  Many bloggers make their meals from scratch, so we tend to consume less sugar, but on the whole, many of us, and our kids, eat plenty added sugar foods overall.

Sugar is addictive.  Apart from the lucky people who eat to live and treat food as fuel, the rest of us derive large amounts of pleasure and satisfaction from eating food, and food tends to taste better with fat and sugar added, even if we don’t always know why we like the taste.  Crucially, sugar is one food ingredient that we don’t need at all.  We get zero benefit from it, and it adds absolutely nothing to our diets.

If someone is a T1 diabetic and needs a sugar injection, there are many other choices to have on hand as a quick sugar release.  Added sugar products seem to be overkill, though I admit, it might be easier for a parent to persuade a hypoglycemic child to drink their favourite sugary drink.  The point being, though, that if it’s their favourite, they are more than likely consuming it when they don’t actually need the sugar, and then just topping up sugar levels that don’t need to be topped up.

I use sugar in my recipes for sweet things, but often reduce the content that other people recommend.  I suspect few of us would add sugar to our full meals, so why manufacturers think we need it in those products, completely flummoxes me.

Yes, I would like to see sugar content reduced, and products taken off the other shelves, but I’m old enough to know that a single step can eventually turn into cracking a mountain, if someone is determined to carry through their convictions.


Yes, I’ve read and listened to the arguments for other products listed in stores that are high in sugar, but those are not solely aimed at children.  The products being removed are directed specifically at children.

We can deny it all we want, but on the whole, kids are getting fatter.  Two of my kids are skinny and one is slim, but he did have a problem for a while, and we’ve managed to wean him off the taste of high sugar products, but like me, he’s an addict and will always have to watch how much he is taking in.

Being fat sucks.  I don’t care how many people dress it up, or say how happy they are with their bodies at a heavier weight, there are few people I would believe.

Along with the difficulty in getting clothes that fit well, there’s excess sweating, stress and pressure on joints, stress on the heart, cholesterol levels, the possibility of Type 2 diabetes, or being shamed and called names in public, at school, or anywhere else.  And those are just for starters.

I have been very fat, and I have been very thin.  I know which version I prefer.  I wish that all products, apart from desserts, had been made sugar free throughout my life.  It would have made my choices so much easier.

As someone who finds it very easy to be addicted to the one thing that also can make me ill, there is no escape from my poison.  An alcoholic can stop drinking and not have to pass another drop across their lips.  A food addict does not have that pleasure.  Every day, they have to face their demons and swallow a portion of what they are addicted to.

And sugar is addictive…. Craving carbohydrates is common, as is the carb coma that can make someone want to sleep after eating a carb rich meal, but at the same time, it’s impossible to ignore the plethora of products out there to choose from.

My Last Words

If a huge retailer can enter discussions with providers of added sugar products, to remove the excess, then I think it is one step in the right direction.

Yes, there are bound to be teething problems, and yes, I think it could have been done differently, but I really do like the principle.

I am hoping that the initiative is built upon and expanded.  I think I’m just pleased to see a large household name start to take responsibility.  The test is going to be whether they can keep it going, and alter manufacturers product ingredient choices as a result.





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Who’d Love a Giant Vending Machine?

Thanks to F Stop Press for allowing me to use their images.

Image Credit:  F Stop Press
Image Credit: F Stop Press


I just had to comment after spotting the story on the news yesterday about the Giant Vending Machine that engineer Peter Fox invented for himself because he couldn’t get a manufacturer to make one.    It’s classed in the line of Automatic Shops, whereby people can get goods where there are no shops.

What’s not to love?  Peter Fox also gets automatic notifications when stock is running low and needs to be replaced, so I imagine he is also the stockist.

Yes, someone would need to take responsibility for the stocking and ordering, and I’d be really interested to find out just how that works for smaller quantities, but I really do like the idea.

It really is a whole new wee store in itself, and it seems to have rocked up in two Ashbourne areas.  One in Clifton, a wee village in Derbyshire, and from the website, I can see there is also one in Mayfield Road, Ashbourne.  The automatic shops are selling product ranges from 7-up, to milk, gravy granules, beans, ketchup, breakfast cereal, toilet roll and even a brolly in Clifton.

I do have to admit to sometimes using the self serve tills at shops if I only one or two things to put through.  Quite often, my face goes red as either the food won’t scan, or the machine won’t take my notes, or the weighting bagged area doesn’t recognise the item I just placed into it.

I’ve also written about my experiences with some supermarket converyor belts which drive me crazy, but tech blips aside, having a local giant vending machine on hand seems a great idea to me.

I think what impressed me the most is the ability to sell eggs as well as milk, bread and other necessities.  With the demise of local shops in outlying areas, getting hold of the daily basics can often mean that it’s just a chore to go the distance of any of the larger supermarkets.

It takes cards as well as cash and Peter has designed the shop so that eggs don’t get broken on the way down.

Rod Kirkpatrick. F Stop Press
Image Credit: Rod Kirkpatrick. F Stop Press


I can think of a few problems that might come up, like a stuck machine, card being swallowed, vandalism or something mechanically going wrong, but on the whole, I think the downsides are massively overshadowed by the benefits these can bring to smaller communities without a dedicated shop.

Being a total Internet geek, it made a lot of sense for me to read that Mr Fox also lets customers see what stock is in the automatic shop before they head out.  How fabulous would that be for the busy mum needing to dress toddlers to pick up some milk, or making sure that you don’t have to step out in the rain to get some much needed bread for school lunches the next morning?

I love the idea.  What do others think?

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Talk Pants With Your Kids

Talk Pants With Your KidsI was asked to be involved with the underwear campaign for the NSPCC who held a Google hang out.  I couldn’t make the hangout, but I did commit to raising the issue on my blog.

Personally, I think parents and carers often leave it far too late to start talking to kids about the parts of their bodies that are off limits to other people.

The NSPCC stated that there has been a 16% rise in reported cases of sexual abuse of under-11s reported to the police in 2013-2014.   If those are the cases reported, I would imagine that there are many more that are NOT reported.  With that in mind, we all have to think how we can try to help our children to help themselves stay safe. In reality, we cannot be three feet from our children at all times, and they do need information at young ages to know what is ok and what is not ok.

The Underwear Rule Is A GOOD Thing

As hard as it is to talk to youngsters about what is private and what is not, we need to take responsibility for empowering our children with the knowledge that their bodies are private. The NSPCC also states that at least 1 in 5 of all recorded sexual offences against children are against those too young for secondary school.

Talking to Children Aged 5 – 11

The NSPCC has launched this phase of the campaign to encourage parents of children aged 5 – 11, to talk to them and help them understand how to keep themselves safe from sexual abuse.  The whole point of the campaign is to have simple and easy conversations.

The Campaign Video “Spare Parts” gives you some idea of possible simple terms that children can relate to.

Talking Pants 

It’s important to remember that talking pants is just the beginning.  The NSPCC campaign is a start, but it isn’t something we can say once, and then forget as children have a short memory for things that don’t interest them, and to be honest, talking pants with kids is boring for them or might make them just giggle.

Parents need to take the lead role in this, and not expect schools to do all the work.   The NSPCC have supporing materials for parents and give us plenty of guidance with their guide called “Talk PANTS

The Rules 

  • Privates are private.
  • Always remember your body belongs to you.
  • No means no.
  • Talk about secrets that upset you.
  • Speak up, someone can help.

Special Needs

Getting the message through to my special needs child is really not easy, but hopefully we will get there eventually.

He trusts everyone and no-one, but is fairly open about his body and really doesn’t think there is anything to be worried about.  He goes to respite and is looked after by people outside of my control, so this is a very important lesson for him to learn, even at an age where talking pants is past the point of being helpful for young adults.

The knock on effect is that this learned behaviour will follow him in other settings where he is with new adults or ones that we don’t really know, and for respite, we really don’t know the people who are looking after our family members.

Parents and carers tend to avoid or just not talk about private parts in case the words used end up being spouted at full volume while they are in a kids playground, but for the safety of our special needs children, they really do need to have the same conversations and knowledge as any other vulnerable person, but in a very simple fashion.

At the age of 11 last year in a French swimming pool, a girl eating a hotdog slipped and the hotdog flew up in the air and bounced off him and his trunks – dollops of tomato ketchup and all.  With around 100 people in the immediate vicinity, he instantly whipped off his trunks in full view of everyone before picking up a towel to cover himself.

Because of that incident, we talk underwear at every shower time now.  I just mention it as I put down the towels and make sure the water isn’t too scalding for him.  Most of the time he isn’t interested, but I know that deep down the memory is being planted for him, even if he doesn’t answer me, and I really trust that the memory will come back when it’s really needed, to help him know what is appropriate and what is not.   

By learned behaviour, he is now covering himself up to go into the shower and closing the door to get dressed so it is thankfully sinking in – even if he gives me no reaction whatsoever when I talk about it.  

Find Out More

Visit the website for more information.  NSPCC – The Underwear Rule

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Is it fair to call any kids animals?

This has been opened up by a Tweet.  This is what KT Hopkins actually said on Twitter.

Mums hearts are broken by school bullies. Yet schools continue to support these animals and ignore those keen to learn. Let me at them.

The Telegraph had said:

Michael Gove: teachers should punish children with litter duty, lines and more.

I don’t know what planet either of them are on, but I did take some satisfaction out of the video doing the rounds on Twitter of Michael Gove falling on his jacksy.

I could whack myself with a long wooden stick, or sit with my mouth open in horror at how I think the things that come out of these two people’s mouths really need to be projectily vomited in the general direction of the nearest waste paper bin. What bothers me about the self imposed upper echelons of our society, who clearly think the rest of us are the dirt under their fingernails, isn’t what they say so much, as how it makes me FEEL.

  • I FEEL angry that Katie Hopkins is so nasty about almost everyone apart from herself.
  • I FEEL angry for all the struggling kids at school whose behaviour escalates as they are unsupported, but who will get more lines instead of help, or even worse, be humiliated by picking up their classmakes litter.  How to trash a child’s self-esteem is more what I’d call the sanctions mooted.
  • I FEEL sad for Katie Hopkins family.  How awful to have a mother who thinks the rest of us are so crap at everything.
  • I FEEL incredulous that Katie Hopkins can find it in herself to be so nasty about children.

I want to take Katie’s statement and break it down:

Mums hearts are broken by school bullies. Yet schools continue to support these animals and ignore those keen to learn.  Let me at them.

  • Mums hearts are broken by school bullies.   How does that happen then?  Who cares what mums hearts are?  It’s the kids that count.
  • Schools continue to support.   Well, yes, that is their job.  Each child is a living, breathing thing that deserves a chance.
  • Animals – well, all I can say about that one from Katie, is “what you say is what you are.”
  • Let me at them.  Please, please do go and take some classes in inner city schools, try to teach the children who’ve heard you call them animals, and see how well you sort them out.

I have three children who all struggle at school.

Between them, Gove and Hopkins would technically call them animals that need to pick up litter as punishment and write copious lines while other kids learn.

I just call them kids who deserve the same future as any other kid. It’s not the kids fault that schools do not have the funding to support them properly.

Instead of targeting the kids, why don’t they do something novel and find the ways to help all kids meet their potential instead of blaming them.

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Burns Night is the 25th January – What is it?

Ye’ve a heard o Rabbie Burns, the bard o Auld Lang Syne fame haven’t ye?

I thought we all did.  His best known song gets pulled out every Burns Night and New Years Eve as we all link arms and sing the popular year-end anthem.

We’ve visited the birthplace of Robert Burns but sadly we forgot our camera and have nothing to show for it.  We’re not allowed to take photographs inside anyway, so all you are missing are some outside ones.

Every year, on the 25th January, we celebrate his birthday, all around the world.  People get dressed up in tartan kilts, often birl to the tunes of ceilidh music and sit through an ode to the haggis before it’s served.   It’s celebrated in massive style in some places, and in others, it’s simply a boozy knees up or a quiet meal for the family.   The traditional way to celebrate is the eating of haggis, neeps and tatties, washed down with Scotch Whisky and works of the Bard being read out to the attendees.

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties

Having watched an ode to the haggis at my sons special school, I found the after effects to be a traumatic event as he spent a week trying to get his hands on the big kitchen knives, similar to those the storyteller swathed above her head and across the front of her body.  It was a bad choice of celebration and rather strange to see a woman brandishing knives in front of kids we try to keep away from sharp implements.

My kids tend to celebrate in school, so we do little more than have haggis, neeps and tatties of some kind for tea.  It’s customary to recite some of the words of the bard, so a wee bit of poetry with that dram of whisky (or irn bru for kids and non drinkers) to wash down that easily eaten food.

Burns night is all about cameraderie, friendship, fun, and laughter.  Burns suppers are very popular, and up here, they seem to be everywhere.  There is little chance of avoiding hearing about, taking part, or even just smiling at the songs, poetry and reverence that Robert Burns name coaxes from people.  Burns night is meant to be all about “taking part.”  It’s Scotland, and we don’t expect guests to sit back and wait to be entertained.  Everyone is responsible for making it a good, nay great experience for everyone else.    Even if it means you borrow a poetry book from your host, get involved.  You’ll be glad you did.

Robert Burns is often spoken about as Scotland’s favourite son and the format changes little.  After the general welcome and address, the Selkirk Grace is usually said.  From there, the ode to the haggis with the cutting and serving and then people can start to eat.   For the Selkirk Grace, the story goes that on a visit to St. Mary’s Isle, he was asked to say grace at dinner.  The quick lines he came up with are now known as the Selkirk Grace and are as follows:

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thanket.
Source (Wikipedia)

After the meal come the literary readings, and at the end of it all – everyone usually sings “Auld Lang Syne.”

If you’ve never been to a Burns Supper and you get an invite, make sure you go.  You will enjoy it if you get involved.  Everyone should go to at least one.


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Scots Independence – Who Cares!!

Well, if David Cameron is anything to go by, he does.

Somehow, I can’t quite believe that.

I’m a heathen, or is that an atheist?  I’m never quite sure what to call myself, but I believe in very little in the way of religion, nor of politics.

At the moment, independence and religion are on a fairly even keel for me.  I can neither see the point, nor follow the arguments and reasons for either, yet, I am headed to the yes group.

Scottish Flag

It’s quite simple really.

  • My vote matters absolutely not in the decisions of which party rule the UK.  Scotland’s vote rarely seems to make any more than ripples in a very big pond.
  • We’re already pretty much devolved to such an extent that I see little “joining of the nations” as it is.  Our heath, education and legal systems are very different.  From my point of view, we’re paying for everything twice as it is, so why not cut out one share of the pie in Westminster.
  • It “looks” very like a group of people who were born wealthy are making all the decisions for a public, whose lives they cannot hope to actually comprehend.

But, this is not about political parties is it?  It’s about independence from the rest of our wee UK.

Only, it is about political parties and always will be.  With a government I believed in, I might have been more inclined to support the “better together” campaign.   Alex Salmond reminds me of Neil Kinnock somehow.  I can’t explain why, but the imperfection of the Scottish First Minister and his ruling style draws me into a highly irrational comfort zone.

I don’t care about history, and the shock scare tactics increasingly make me dislike the no campaign, so to be honest, it’s Cameron and Clegg and their cronies who actually pushed me to see the yes side favourably.  I’ve heard people say that we’ll get invaded, be undefended, have higher prices, may have to leave the EU, there might need to be a border set up to keep us out of England and more…….

I care about how much money they take from me and how much it leaves our family to live on.  I care about the support for our elderly, infirm and disabled – and how they are treated.  I care about how education and health works.  If our systems were all aligned, I might see it differently and most of us are going to have our own private reasons for why we choose the yes or the no campaigns.

I just wish I had a clear-cut vision and understanding of it all.  Making a guess based on others guesses just doesn’t fit my logical brain.

I think it’s a mistake for Cameron to turn down the invitation to debate with Salmond.  It comes across as if he has something to hide.

Whatever happens in the referendum on independence on the 18th September this year is just something we’ll have to live with.  In the meantime, I’ll keep my totally selfish and narrow-minded reasons for which side of the fence I’ll eventually fall on limited to my social networks, as I really have no idea what I am talking about.

I suspect few people do.



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Where are the missing kids? #blogging4madeline

I am taking part in the #blogging4madeline campaign this year.   Yes, I can just hear some of you sigh, begin to switch off and think about clicking away, but just wait a minute and spare a few minutes for the kids who have all gone missing, including Ben Needham, April Jones and many other nameless and faceless children.  What if they were your children?


If your children had been taken, no matter what the circumstances, would you click away then?

This isn’t about the parents, or the press, or the stories of who did or didn’t do anything right or wrong.

It’s about the children and nobody else.

I have watched people crucifying April Jones parents for having her out playing late at night, or the McCann parents for leaving the children alone, but neither of those things changes the facts that the kids are still missing.  I think that we would all clutch at hope of any kind if our children went missing.   I’ve accepted that I don’t have to agree with what parents might or might not have done to offer my support with helping to find those missing kids.

I’m posting for the kids.

Madeleine went missing from Praia da Luz, Portugal on Thursday 3rd May 2007.

I agreed to join the blogging4madeleine campaign to raise awareness that Madeleine McCann is still missing and to spread the word about her and the other missing children around the world.  There are thousands of children missing from the UK, but far too few people know about any of them.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (run by the police) operates a website called Missing Kids UK that shows many of the children who are missing.    I’ve added their widget to my blog footer.  If you want to add the same as mine which is smaller than theirs, the code is.

<iframe width=”150″ height=”195″ src=”” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

Why are we posting now?

  • Children deserve not to be forgotten.
  • There are thousands of British children missing.
  • Madeline McCanns birthday is the 12th May 2013.  She would have been 10 years old.
  • The 25th May is International Missing Childrens Day.   Get involved over on Facebook.

Contact information to report any sightings or information of Madeleine and other missing children.

  • Your local police force immediately, AND
  • +44 845 838 4699 or
  • OR Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555111
  • OR

This is what Madeline could have looked like at age 9.

madeleine have you seen me image


If you’re interested in joining the #Blogging4Madeleine campaign please contact CJ from A Mummy’s View blog via Twitter, Facebook or by emailing

I’ll leave you with part of the message from Kate McCann on her website which stated that most children who are missing in the way Madeline was are for sexual exploitation.  I found the statement she made further on very disturbing.

“What are the benefits for our children of being in a European Union where several member countries offer child pornography as a LEGAL past time?  The most vulnerable members of our society are our children and they deserve better than this. Lack of sex offender registers, lack of reliable tracking systems for known offenders and no CRB check requirements , not even for those working with children are other major areas of concern within many parts of Europe. My eyes have certainly been opened to a whole new world out there – a very worrying one.” 

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R.I.P Lady Thatcher

Downing Street S1

Driving along Union Street we were faced with board after board after board with the huge letters instilling fear into everyone who had taken out a mortgage in the last few years. Suburbs became festooned with placards stuck into grass, onto windows, and at the end of roads.

“For Sale”

As a young adult, the Thatcher years meant that the first home I bought rose so much in the cost of the badly advised endowment mortgage of the time that I had to sell it at a loss as I couldn’t keep up the payments on it AND afford to pay for heat, light and food too.

I became very anti the Thatcher Government politics of the time. The only thing they did controversially that I approved of was the poll tax which they bailed out on.

As a party, they decimated the working population, but let’s not kid ourselves that they did it alone. Or even worse, blame it all on one woman as the figurehead.

The ruling classes have claimed power again and again, and they all blame it on the party that’s gone before.

She’s been out of power for 20 years, but the other parties didn’t change what was started, although they’ve had 2 decades since to change our country and it’s economic direction.

It’s not her fault that the bankers messed up or that the government bailing them out left the small people as the biggest losers yet again. That’s all down to greed.

She’s a woman with a family and yes, her party made what I think was a mess, but we can’t take away the determination, the brain and the respect that the woman commanded.

I didn’t like her party politics, but blaming her for all the ills of the UK is just plain wrong. She’s passed on and no doubt left a massive gaping hole in her family.

As to the ceremonial funeral, if they plan to give that to all Prime Ministers, I’d find that easier to take. As it is I struggle with it, but the decision has been taken and I hope her day passes with as little malice as possible. We all make mistakes and perhaps it’s time for people to stop blaming her for everything that’s gone on in the UK for the last 30 years.

R.I.P Lady Thatcher. I wish you a peaceful day and hope your family are allowed to mourn without hated.

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Cervical Cancer Prevention Week – Why would women put their daughters off having the vaccine?

Cervical Cancer Prevention week is: 20 – 26 January 2013

I really had to get involved with this one. I really had no right to let it go past.

I’m not going to go in detail with the symptoms of cervical cancer as this is prevention week, but if you want to find out more about what could indicate cervical cancer, please head on over to Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.

Twenty years ago (yes, I am that old) I finally went for my first smear. I’d put it off as I had severe endometriosis and pain was often so incredible that I couldn’t touch my stomach from the outside, let alone have something shoved up my inside. I watched a programme which put the fear of death into me and decided I’d have a try.

Two nurses, a doctor, and yes, a lot of pain later, they finally got my smear. With the endometriosis damaging my cervix, they couldn’t even see it.

It came back with severe abnormal cells – Cin 3.

Another year and I probably wouldn’t have been here today. I was lucky.

After a few weeks nervous wait to see if it was confirmed, it was on to the laser treatment, which was not as bad as I thought it would be, but then again, I think they inject enough freeze into the cervix to stun an elephant. The injection to freeze is a little like the dentist freezing the roof of your mouth, but just a bit more stingy. Thankfully, after that, there was no pain. The burning smell is not too clever though, and does make you realise that they really are burning off the bad cells.

I really want to take the mothers who persuade their kids not to have the vaccination and shake their shoulders. How stupidly silly can they be? A simple vaccination and their daughters are protected.

Do they really want their daughters to go through the nightmare of results, re-smear, laser treatment and then the constant smears afterwards to make sure it hasn’t crept back?

Do they really want their daughters to risk cervical cancer?

Why are they not persuading their daughters to do it?

There’s nothing “seedy” about it.

I just don’t understand it.

Most cervical cancers are caused by a common virus – (HPV) human papilloma virus. Some women are susceptible to it, and others are not. Changes can show as abnormalities of the cells of the cervix and when they become severe, they can develop into cancer.

Jo's cervical cancer trust

Cervical screening detects early changes in cells, and although the vaccination for HPV can only prevent infection from two of the 20 highest risk strains, to me, it’s not worth the risk of not taking it.

Far too many girls and women are not getting screened when they are at the age to be screened. I wish they would screen every girl from the year she begins to become sexually active, but sadly, that is never going to be the case.

The UK scheme offers girls the vaccination programme from age 12 – 18. If I had girls, I’d be beating down the door of anywhere that they could get the vaccination done.

The choice for me would be simple – an injection into the arm to reduce the potential of having the stress of tests or nether regions burned by a laser, or even worse – living and fighting cervical cancer.

Vaccines are given by injection into the muscle, usually the upper arm. Three separate doses are needed. The second does is given one or two months and six months after the first dose. It’s not a guarantee, but it removes a high factor of the risk.

A lovely and very young lady who used to be on Twitter had advanced cervical cancer. She was pilloried, given a hard time and abused to the point of having to leave. Those of us who used to chat to her, miss her. She was hounded and treated like rubbish by other women. There is absolutely NOTHING to be ashamed of in having pre-cancerous cells or cervical cancer. The time between smears, and the age of screening means that at times, it may be too far advanced before abnormal cells get picked up, even if women have had all their smears.

Get your smears on time and get the vaccination if you are eligible for it. Your life may just depend on it.