Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Stroke of Luck

March In Pembrokeshire
I've just come back from a long weekend in the country. Bluestone in Pembrokeshire National Park to be precise. It's was a beautiful, indulgent weekend and the weather shone on us the whole time. I attempted archery (turns out I'm not very good), cycled (which I haven't done in almost 20 years and it turns out, I'm not very good!), and spent far too much time lounging in outdoor hot tubs (at which, i'm awesome). Absolute bliss. The highlight of the holiday however came on the last day . . .

We decided to visit Manor House Wildlife Park which was bought a couple of years ago by interior designer Anna Ryder Richardson and while it's very much a work in progress it's a beautiful place and is aiming (and succeeding from what I saw) to be an eco-friendly conservation park.

The park is pretty special because you get to stroke animals. I'm a big fan of stroking stuff so I was in my element. Things I got to stroke include: Wallabys, blind albino wallabys, the weirdest looking chickens I've ever seen & a variety of goats. All good stuff!


The highlight however was when Anna Ryder Richardson drove past in a Jeep, stopped and informed us that one of the camels had just gone into labour. We ran down to the camel field and got to watch the whole birth. It was rather remarkable. 

We witnessed the birth, the first very wobbly steps and it's many failed attempts at feeding. I'd also like to add that we would have missed the whole thing had Anna Ryder Richardson not stopped to tell us as we had already been to see the camels. An incredible holiday and an incredible experience.

Alas it's back to reality now and with that work. Still, I have some great things lined up in this coming week so hopefully reality won't hit me too hard.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Scientific Appeal

Isn’t science fascinating? Seriously, I can’t get enough of science/nature based documentaries and with both ‘Human Planet’ & ‘Wonders of the Universe’ on TV at the moment I feel like a kid in a universal candy store.

Currently I'm brimming with fascinating factoids about my world and my species , yet for all this insight I am still baffled as to why I find Prof Brian Cox sexy! No offence to the lovely Prof Cox but he’s not the standard heart throb is he? Still, he just seems to do it for me. I’m going to ‘out’ my sister at this point and say she also thinks the Professor is hot. So I know I'm not alone in this. 

The obvious explanation is that I’m attracted to his brain. That can't be the extent of it though. I'm not attracted to Jeremy Paxman or Patrick Moore* etc. Brains alone do not make the man it seems. 
Having given it far too much consideration I've now come to the conclusion that it's his energy & enthusiasm I'm attracted to. He is clearly deeply excited by what he does and that's pretty damn sexy in my book . He seems as fascinated by what he's telling you as you are listening to it. Who'd have thought enthusiasm would be such a turn on?

Sexy science ladies and gentlemen. It's the future!

* I'm ashamed at how long it took me to remember the names of just 2 brainy celebrities!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Things That Go Bump In The Night

For the last week or so I have had my sleep interrupted by a wailing, gnashing., screeching sound that seems to come from the devil himself. Yep, you’ve guessed it. Cats have been shagging outside my window.

Now I don’t know if it’s normal for cats to have crazy, violent lovin but these cats gotta ‘ave it and it’s driving me insane. In actual fact I’ve opened the window to shout at them several times but nothing says crazy to the neighbours like shouting out the window at 3 am at what appears to be a bush.

So what can I do? On the occasions I have shouted at them they simply stop and look at me then carry on. I’ve also tried ignoring them but alas it’s a bit difficult to get to sleep with their wee furry selves boinking up against the wall. I’m at a loss. Any suggestions welcomed on how to put an end to their freaky shenanigans so I can get some sleep.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

And Now For Something Completely Different

Unusually for me, this may prove to be a rather serious post! I apologize and will return to my normal programming soon, I promise. Also, look, it’s really long and not particularly coherent so again, apologies. In all honesty I’m not even sure I should post it but hey I said I used this blog for cathartic purposes so following that logic I thought I should.

Channel 4 recently launched a new political satire show called 10 O’clock live. Funny and rather more informative than you’d expect for a show in which Jimmy Carr is involved, it’s a mixture of serious hard-hitting interviews, comedy sketches and my personal highlight of the show, David Mitchell’s, generally spot-on, rants.

Now it may come as a surprise to people who know me but I am interested in world affairs and do try to keep up with the news. I will however hold my hands up and say that, more often than not, it deeply confuses me and I don’t understand it nearly as much as I wish I did. I rarely take part in political discussions because of this and also because I feel I’m not eloquent enough to express my feelings on the truly important things going on in the world. So you would be forgiven for thinking I didn’t have a clue what is going on. That being said, I’m currently very angry!

The final straw for me came on Thursday’s 10 O’clock live; David Mitchell’s rant was all about Lockheed Martin’s involvement in the 2011 Census. Now I had no idea who Lockheed Martin was prior to this but looking into it, it appears they are ‘an American defence & communications’ company. I’m sure that’s hugely simplifying their portfolio but I think that’s pretty much the gist of what they do. Basically, the UK Government has paid an arms firm from the US, £150 million to help with the 2011 Census.

There are several things about this that deeply anger me. Firstly, why the hell do we need to pay a company £150million to do this? The Office of National Statistics should surely be able to do the work. I understand the Census is a gargantuan undertaking but it’s not unprecedented. It happens every 10 years for Christ’s sake. Surely by now we can manage it ourselves. And if not, were there no UK companies that put a bid in for the contract?

Secondly, why give the contract to a US Arms firm?! This is the company that is responsible for Trident nuclear missiles & cluster bombs, a company that provided private interrogators to Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay. I mean surely this is just insanity? It appears Lockheed Martin was involved in the 2001 Census as well but that doesn’t make it any more justifiable does it?!

There are currently calls from some to boycott the Census but, like Mitchell in his rant, I don’t think that’s the right way to go. In fact I have no idea what I can do with the outrage I feel in response to this. This anger isn’t just aimed at the Census thing. The census merely was the final push into maddening rage for me. Things such as the tax dodging revelations of Barclays Bank last week (see Jon’s blog re that, he can express that stuff a lot better than I ever could), the BBC’s belief that the Oscars Red Carpet is more worthy of news coverage than the goings on in Libya and more locally, the absolute immorality of a local council in the treatment of its longstanding employees have combined to have me seething for the last couple of weeks.

It’s quite obvious to anyone with a bit of sense that the world is falling apart right now. Now I’m not going attempt to comment on the things currently going on as I honestly don’t know enough but I know how I feel and what I’ve seen. We’ve had disaster after disaster and war after war. Will any of it actually prompt me to do anything though? The honest answer is probably not, and that’s what has unsettled me so much.

I recently heard a song called ‘Hurricane’ by a man named David Ford. It’s a song about our inaction both personally and as a generation, to respond.  It has really touched a nerve with me:

“Well, this land is your land, this land is mine,
Now pull up a chair and we can watch the decline, 
And it's never enough,
The surroundings are just too damn comfortable here”

This blog post is by no means a call to arms. I know my anger will pass, more quickly than it should in fact, but I had to express my frustration. If nothing else I know I can read it back in years to come and think: “Hey, at one point in your life you cared (almost enough)”.

Two links if you’re interested:
Ok, rant over!