Penne Carbonara

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So yeah, first post. Should have been something appropriate like egg fried rice but fuck it, this is what I made the other day, so here you go. This is a standard carbonara with penne. Nothing diff…

Source: Penne Carbonara

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The EU – should we stay or should we go?

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EU Referendum? What EU referendum? What is Brexit? Sounds like a new cereal? Bremain? Capital of.. Westeros? Gonna wade into this referendum thing that’s been clogging up my newsfeed and which continues to reinforce my belief that UKIP are a one-trick-pony party  (racism immigration) My friend asked me to pull together a guide on what the consequences of leaving EU are. She asked for a page, I got carried away and wrote an essay. Woops. I’ve tried to distill some of the key complex issues – my general aim was to dispel the big (massively reduced down) myths that have become reasons to leave as put forward by Brexit side, followed by a short rant on why we should stay!

*SPOILERS* I’m voting in.

The Myths

Borders:

  • Controlling more borders is more than just who we do/do not let in. The UK already has strict border controls; we have opted out of the Schengen Agreement meaning that even EU citizens have to present a form of national ID before they can enter our country. We 100% do control our borders in terms of LEGAL movement.
  • It is illegal movement where we have less control, and being a part of the EU means we are part of an intelligence network which helps police these borders. By leaving the EU, then, we will no longer have access to these groups, our borders are in fact LESS SAFE.

Terrorism

  • EU causes terrorism because of the open borders argument is a questionable causal link. Terrorist attacks nowadays, in UK, are home grown threats. They are radicalised individuals who perhaps travel to ISIS/Al-Qaeda territories for training and return armed. The terrorists are already here, leaving the EU will not make them disappear from inside our borders.
  • You can take the counter-example of Brussels planned attack in Paris, but again as stated above there is no passport control between Belgium and Paris. However, you cannot enter UK without being scanned, this already exists so leaving the EU would have no impact on something that’s already happening.
  • Staying in Europe gives us access to intelligence sharing, we also vote on how intelligence is shared. Terrorism is a global issue and isolating ourselves by leaving the EU won’t help us at all.

Overpopulation/Migration

  • Mass migration into Britain been happening since the end of WWII, it has been accompanied by perennial (essentially) racist driven campaigns (Enoch Powell, BNP, Nigel Farage etc). Every single decade foreign people are blamed for UK problems. Every single decade we’re told Britain’s about to be swamped, deluged and invaded by black or brown people. Fine lines between integration and invasion apparently.
  • This blind patriotism has now turned its sights on the Eastern Europeans. They in fact only account for less than half of the EU immigrants in UK, there are as many Spanish university graduates as there are Polish builders[1].
  • The official stats of Sept 2015 migration: EU migrants – 172,000. Non-EU migrants – 191,000[2]. If you were to blame our apparent “overpopulation problem” on anyone blame non-EU migrants.

Jobs

  • Workers’ rights and social protection are formalised and implemented by the EU, without them the government of our time would be in sole control, there would be no bottom line.
  • EU has increased average UK salary by 1800 per year (Frontier Economics)
  • Staying in the EU will create 790,000 UK jobs by 2030 (Centre for Economic and Business Research)
  • Sterling Exchange rate is already falling with recent uncertainty about EU and leaving the EU would make it plummet. Our currency would devalue, it would not be worth as much globally.
  • The Bank of England, OECD and IMF all think we’re better off in, the out campaign have been unable to name any reputable economic body which has estimated we are better out. Ok sure, they’re all supposedly corrupt, evil capitalist filth. But in terms of economic predictions (which economics only ever is – they’re the best minds out there and this mystical thing called the “economy” which runs our lives behind the scenes is their line of work)
  • Many industries agree we are better in the EU, to name but a few: airlines, Royal College of Midwives, scientists, universities – industry experts thinks it’s best for jobs to stay.

The NHS

  • An article claims [3]“The NHS is dogged with problems caused by the EU. Open door immigration means they can’t know how many patients they are going to have this time tomorrow, let alone this time next year.” From your own experience, name the last time you saw a non-English sounding or looking person in GP/hospital. What is the majority “race” you see? In any case if you’re gonna diagnose the waiting times the causes are : government cuts and aging population.
  • Some people also blame TTIP for shooing in private healthcare over NHS; causing the destruction of NHS. 1) legistlation is in place to prevent this and worst comes to worst, UK gov can simply veto the agreement 2) Private healthcare exists for those who want it, the NHS will continue to provide its services regardless. 3) Moreover, it is the current Tory government’s policies which are causing more harm to the NHS than some distant TTIP agreement.
  • The NHS entitles us to free healthcare across the EU with the EHIC card, leaving the EU means we will have to pay for any healthcare, including emergency – when we’re in Europe.

[1]http://www.adamsmith.org/blog/immigration-is-no-reason-to-leave-the-eu

[2]https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/internationalmigration/bulletins/migrationstatisticsquarterlyreport/february2016#net-migration-to-the-uk Section 3, Table 2

[3] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/12196908/Britains-NHS-cant-survive-staying-in-the-European-Union.html

Deep breath..

Those who agree with me, great. Those who don’t have probably been reading this article through Brexit-tinted glasses. When world leaders and wide-ranging bunch of important international figures have given their two-pence to stay; they’ve been criticised for not having British people’s best interests at heart. When leading figures in Britain have given their two-pence to stay; they’ve been accused of not having the British people’s best interests at heart. I recently read through the comments of a post on the Facebook page Scientists for EU, where four eminent scientists did the whole “stay in Europe, an opinion from people with a lot titles/honours attached to their name”. The most liked comment was along the lines of “you care more about your funding than the British people”. Firstly, (as a rebuttal) it’s not as if the scientists themselves were not British people. Secondly, this vote is not going to be won by statistics or even by facts. Both have been used merely as props in the whole EU debate – misused, misappropriated and ignored for the benefit of both sides of the campaign. If you want to be in a position to truly get a grasp of *all* the facts, you’re gonna have to do a PhD in EU policy. In reality, many people have already long decided how they feel about the EU, and this will be reflected by their vote. The EU is being used as a trophy referendum by some politicians and it’s used as a scapegoat by many members of the British public for the many of issues and challenges our society face. Yes it is to blame to an extent, BUT if you really want to solve these social, economic and day-to-day issues “us Brits” face (whatever these problems may be – and there’s plenty to pick from) we need to start fixing our sights on the actual causes, instead of blaming our membership of the EU, which up until quite recently you probably wouldn’t have even cared about.

and breathe out

Coffee and Dreams

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Last week I was fortunate enough to have had this collection of poetry nominated for the University of Exeter’s Paddon Award, unfortunately I was unable to bag a top prize with it! Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed writing this collection titled – Coffee and Dreams, which I present in its entirety below. 

Just to say a bit about it.. this collection of poetry explores an intersection found between two seemingly different ideas. The first idea – once you have dragged yourself out of bed on a cold Monday morning, one of the first things you put on is the kettle, coffee maker or whatever device you use to make your first coffee of the morning. You need coffee to get you going throughout the day. The second idea – we dream in the night and in the day, when our conscious mind takes a moment of hiatus our inner, deeper thoughts surface. The physical process of dreaming I describe is of course slightly different to the more abstract notion of dreams. Those hopes, wishes and desires that drive us forward. You also need dreams to get you going through the day. I have written a collection of poetry which explores the idea that we need coffee and dreams in order to live our daily lives. My collection plays with the metaphorical possibilities of these two latently dissimilar concepts. 

1) Email to dad

Lola’s Coffee and Cake Place is for let.

Contacted the landlord

And he gave me an estimate.

It’s a bit expensive,

A bit more than I can afford right now.

I know this isn’t the first time,

But I promise it won’t be like my degree,

Or that law conversion –

Or the deposit on that flat,

Cheers dad –

Know you won’t let me down.

2) First attempts

Hot milk erupts –

Coffee scolds and scalds –

Like the burn of a corpse

Dipped in molten.

Lava flavour milk –

Off white melted rocks –

Float softly.

3) Coffee stains

Coffee spills, a jolt

Like the moment you wake up,

And your dream spill into the day

A stain you can’t wipe away.

A brown halo tattoo –

On the favourite page

Of the book you left

On the coffee table.

The brown burden

Weighs heavy on the book,

Like an image you dreamed

A dream shaped stain.

An overflowing mug of coffee

Can’t be held back,

And when it spills

It’s there to stay.

 

4) Walking into a well-known coffee shop

Grande skinny cappuccino, no chocolate sprinkles,

Venti cappuccino, thank you,

Venti gingerbread latte.

Skimmed milk froths under the nozzle,

coffee shot splash –

brown and white molten mix –

cupped with a plastic lid.

Semi-skimmed milk froths under the nozzle,

coffee shot splash –

brown and white molten mix –

cocoa dust douses –

cupped with a plastic lid.

Semi-skimmed milk froths under the nozzle,

Thickly sweet syrup gloops  –

brown and white molten mix –

coffee shot splash –

cupped with a plastic lid.

next customer please.

5) Minutes from a meeting

Increase production in Costa Rica by 10%

But expenditure needs to go down 5%

We’ll call it “collaborative partnerships”,

Optimise social development links

In order to produce high quality coffee.

We’ll train locals to train other locals,

Reduce responsibility, minimise risk.

And we can tell the farmers

That air duty tax has increased.

They won’t check.

Also to the press –

Announce that we have paid their stupid tax.

Try to divert their attention to Amazon.

And let’s try to negotiate another tax deal –

Somewhere else in Asia –

Maybe we could set up a new branch there too.

Don’t forget to send a reminder

To put fairtrade on all of the labels.

Finally, any other business.

 

6) Walking out of a well-known coffee shop

The ghost of a chocolate cookie frappucino

Was clear in the empty venti glass –

Echoes of cream and chocolate flakes

and the rotting corpse of a blueberry muffin

decomposed, crumbly.

In the engraved initials

I see the laughter,

Careless chatter

As cutlery clatters

And the tink of teaspoons –

Clink as they cut through cheesecake.

Foamy dregs gather –

They haunt the table

As ghoulish coffee caked

Plastic mixy stirry things

Lay strewn on the battle scene.

7) Catch, catching, caught.

I missed my train once,

It stood on the platform –

I dropped my ticket, missed the slot.

The train pulled out

The one I wanted to catch.

It was easier to catch a cold,

It was December, so very chilly.

And I had forgotten my Vit C.

It was more of a snatch

My arm soared hopefully

At the cricket ball, that smashed

Into my hand – I shrieked.

My teammates thought I had celebrated

I was actually in pain –

My first catch in a cricket game.

I tried to catch coffee,

The lesson I learned

Was that it burns your hands.

I tried to catch my dream

One morning, my girlfriend kicked me

By accident apparently

And it was gone

Like when you blink at dawn

And the night becomes day.

 

8) In the morning

You definitely meant to kick me.

Unless you were sleep-playing-football.

I had a weird dream,

The coffee place finally opened,

But the maker broke

And coffee beans spilled and didn’t stop.

The beans ricocheted

One bounced into a glass of warm milk

It disappeared, dissolved deep

Brown swirls, spirals bubbles

A small pop.

 

Maybe it means I need to not be cheap

On the coffee maker

Or I need to stop thinking about coffee.

9) Every Wednesday, 3pm.

Maude and I have coffee

Every Wednesday, 3pm.

At Lola’s Coffee and Cake Place

It means I’ve had my insulin

And her daughter-in-law, Janice, can drop her off

On the way to pick up the kids

That is – Maude’s grandkids.

This place was called Joe’s Brews

It changed a few days

Before I met my husband, Michael

It was summer, I wore a blue frock

It was our first date

I sat in the same seat a week later

To tell Maude that I was in love.

I’d sit here with my mother

To plan the wedding

(she was right, July was the best month)

I brought her here again

To get her out of the house

After dad’s funeral.

I lost a scarf here once,

When I was 23

Or maybe 25.

But yes, about Maude

She still orders a cappuccino, no sprinkles

With a carrot cake

And for me – a black coffee

And sometimes lemon drizzle

I ask about Janice

And the family

And say

They have grown up rather quickly.

10) Menu

So obviously there will be black coffee.

White coffee, latte, mocha, cappuccino,

No, cappuccino, flat white then mocha

Then hot chocolate, white hot chocolate.

Fresh pastries and cake, sourced locally.

They can be listed on the other side

I could write it on chalk board

Make it look rustic

And update it with specials.

11) Letter to dad

You are cordially invited

On the 23rd June 2015

At 12:00.

To the opening of Coffee and Dreams.

Dress Code: Smart Casual.

A More United Kingdom?

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I am delighted that Scotland has decided to stay in the Union. It has been an admirable campaign led by Alex Salmond; his efforts to obtain 1.2 million YES votes, against the late cross-party campaign from Westminster, is no mean feat. But I am glad that Scotland has not taken further steps into what could have been an awkward separation. For me, this dabble with divorce sets a positive precedence, or at least example, for issues of nationalism the world.

Generally speaking, nationalism is on the rise throughout the UK. The rise of UKIP and the recognition of the Cornish people as a minority this year sets the scene for the Scottish Independence Referendum. Minorities want to be heard. I do hope that devo max will be able to be worked out for Scotland, and I hope that similar arrangements can be made for Wales and Northern Ireland. I wholly believe that we need to break free from old regulations and systems of governance that are centralized in Westminster to govern minority populations. But most of all, I think it is positive that these changes are made with these individual territories united as GB. As Gordon Brown said in his speech (which has to go down in the history books as the turning point for the No campaign) “Let us tell the nationalists this is not their flag, their country, their culture, their streets. This is everyone’s flag, everyone’s country, everyone’s street. And let us tell the people of Scotland that we who vote no, love Scotland and love our country.” (Daily Mirror) Patriotism does not always have to be nationalism. You can love your culture and still be British. We can definitely embrace differences ‘identity’ and we should definitely find practical and sustainable ways to translate this into our political systems.

There was a surprising amount of interest about the Scottish Referendum here in Germany (where I am based currently for my Year Abroad). On the centenary anniversary of the first of two World Wars which tore Europe asunder, Europe was watching to see if we could keep it together. The timing could not have been any more convenient. I was discussing with my European friends if such a referendum could occur around Europe, and there was agreement that there are many minorities within Europe which could easily break away from their state. As the case is with Catalunya right now. These spikes in nationalism is reflected with Euroscepticism as well. Perhaps it is too far to extrapolate by saying that keeping Scotland in the UK can be seen as an example of why the UK need to stay in the EU. But, at least, I believe we can say that it is important that we don’t led nationalism blindly influence our decisions and opinions of the EU. It has kept peace in Europe and provided stability in a time when it was most needed. And I’m certain that there will be many occasions in the future when the EU and its member states face challenges they would rather face together.

Arguably the biggest winner is democracy. The people got what they wanted. We really are lucky in the UK to have a system that works for us. Even if Scotland did vote yes, I cannot imagine that it would have dipped the country into the same levels of turmoil that South Sudan face – having been the most recent country to gain independence – and it really does show how the divergences in governance around the world. Another example is from this blog post from The Telegraph which describes the cross-party cooperation as a “truce”. We have seen the word truce used between Palestine and Israel recently, as with Ukraine and Crimea. Again the divergence of meaning – a truce in Crimean terms, in comparison to the “Westminster truce” – really is striking. The point of all this name-dropping is that in the UK our political systems are by no means perfect but they, by and large, work in order accommodate internal sovereign disputes. Our democratic system works so that every voice can be heard if they wish to raise a point. Another example is Hong Kong at the moment who are struggling to gain Universal Suffrage from the increasingly encroaching powers in Beijing. Beijing has been filtering candidates into the top offices of Hong Kong’s government since 1997. I can imagine that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would not stand for infiltration of their Executive Boards by Westminster.

As a British Citizen, I am proud today that the United Kingdom gave Scotland the chance to be independent. I am glad that Scotland (just) decided that we would be Better Together. And I am proud that I live in a system that gives difference a chance.

Sunday spent at a Braufest

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So I’m doing a year abroad this year, follow my specially dedicated blog to find out more about my time in Deutschland!

Blundering Around Deutschland

A Sunday in Germany is really quiet. Like really quiet. None of the supermarkets are open. A couple of cafés, or the odd Brezel (pretzel) stand is open and so are a handful of optimistic restaurants. The weather always contrives to be a bit dull. People drift like tumbleweed through the streets… The first time I experienced a German Sunday I sat rather lost in my room, not entirely sure what to do with myself. The second time I made sure I had some work to busy myself with. But this Sunday the sun made a surprise appearance, and I didn’t fancy my post-humanism reading. So I went to a Braufest !! (brewery festival)

The first thing you notice walking off the quiet streets is the seemingly infinitesimal number of empty bottles piled into plastic crates, which are then piled on top of each other to form walls. These were dotted…

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