Courgette Crisis

I had heard a few rumours and seen a few hashtags, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I fully appreciated that the UK is currently losing their vegetables. The leading front runner of this campaign is the courgette, which has quickly established a #courgettecrisis and for good reason.

Now while we can appreciate it’s easy to forget the small things, because credit where it’s due it has been one eventful week – Trump’s in the most powerful seat in office presenting us with “alternative facts”, and Marine Le Pen is leading an uprising of the far right – the courgette situation has not gone unnoticed.

Although the outcry is somewhat dramatic, it is not unprecedented. According to online sources the scarce show of courgettes is due to heavy snowfall in Spain, who sources the majority of the UK’s supply. Unfortunately this doesn’t stop here as it has been noted that other vegetables like aubergines, cucumbers, and broccoli are at risk of becoming less frequent dinner guests too.

Trying to adopt a positive attitude this new year, it would be wonderful to to think that such a catastrophe could encourage more British consumers into “home growing”, or at least look at sourcing one’s vegetables organically by supporting local farms and their other produce. Now, this doesn’t solve the crisis, I know, but it does logically seek an alternative as opposed to declaring a code red situation, like one Guardian reader:

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>> Link for full article by The Guardian <<

God speed Charlotte, I’m so happy you got through that ordeal… Luckily there are some more appropriate, and blunt responses:

twitter-quote>> @Parveen_Comms <<

I too addressed the situation on Twitter, albeit less outranged more “well this is happening”, to which Sainsbury’s swiftly restored my faith in humanity:

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I myself am a lover of courgettes, but it goes without saying that the crisis is not like swearing off something on par with the end of a species. The courgettes will return, but as demanding as we are, consumers can’t always have everything.

The reality of “reality TV”

// “Reality TV to me is the museum of social decay” – Gary Oldman //

[If you watch reality TV, I can’t promise you won’t be insulted]

First and foremost I feel I must confess that despite my distain for reality TV, I actually don’t watch it, so you’ll find little direct reference to programmes here. Now I’ve seen a few episodes for intrigue, like Gogglebox, but I haven’t dared dive into the depths of moral decent with something like Keeping up with the Kardashians (heaven forbid) – I’m more of a Planet Earth and Louis Theroux kinda gal.

To make my point valid I do want to share some of my reasons for being so anti “reality”.

// Keeping ratbags rich //

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Granted the likes of the Kardashians and Chelsea squad would be financially sound without their shows, however by watching these programmes we as viewers only endorse and fuel their finances. Think about it, the funding comes in for “reality TV” because of the soaring TV ratings which means another season of nonsense from what has been interpreted as consumer demands. Are you a demanding consumer?

Is it because we are fascinated by the lifestyles of the rich and famous? I have genuinely heard people say they like watching Made in Chelsea because they like seeing how people in London live. Well we can solve that argument for you! I used to live in London, and what you are watching is actually the 1% of Londoners aka the spoilt rich kids of the upper class. Thank you for keeping them that way viewers, great work!

// Encouraging shitty gossip and basic bitch behaviour //

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Are you aware there’s a Refugee crisis? Or that a racist/sexist businessman has taken the highest seat in office? No? Well, fair – there are “real” issues to attend to…

I work in an office, and while Love Island was being aired the previous night’s events were always discussed in the morning like the world news – I honestly felt like my ears were bleeding. Essentially what I got from the “news” is that he said, she said, now someone’s with someone else, and therefore they have left the island.

My fear is that the whole he said, she said attributes will become adopted into society as social norm, and the way one intervenes in business that is private and has absolutely nothing to do with them will also become acceptable. My fear has been realised… I constantly overhear (and try to keep out of) gossip infested conversations which revolve around hanging out someone else’s laundry for them – I do not find this discourse entertaining, I find it really alarming and incredibly boring.

My theory is that some people just can’t stand that they are not invited to the party.

// Lets become couch potatoes together – that makes it okay //

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The moment I watched Gogglebox I was terrified of it. Okay, I’ll admit that some comments made are entertaining, and I appreciate the concept of the programme is to convey and understand “real” people’s point of view, but no, just no.

Any time I see an advertisement for Gogglebox I have a little existential crisis in my head: people are sat on their sofas watching TV of people being sat on their sofas watching TV. *BRAIN CANNOT HANDLE*

Furthermore from a wider perspective, “reality TV” is just watching other people live their script-prompted lives (with no educational value). Does it make you feel like you’re living? I cannot help but feel that viewers watch these programmes because they are deemed as “reality” and this has ultimately normalised sitting in front of the TV watching/listen to mind dumbing (yes, I meant dumbing) material.

// It’s not like we don’t have good TV //

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Everyone has their own taste and ideas of what makes TV good, and I’m all for that, but unfortunately “reality TV” is the limit for me and is not a valid recommendation in my eyes.

Personally, I think if you’re going to show interest in reality, then why not raise the bar with some highly acclaimed documentaries? I mean, by one’s enthusiasm towards “reality TV”, it suggests that you are interested in real life events…? Well brilliant, try some of these: Blackfish, The Cove, Bowling for Columbine, Searching for Sugarman, anything by Louis Theroux, Frozen Planet, Planet Earth, Cowspiracy, Fat Sick & Nearly Dead, and Grizzly Man (to name a few). Hola if you need more!

Alternatively sometimes we do require some escape from reality, so by all means give yourself a break. This year we have season 3 of Twin Peaks coming our way (SO excited), and we’ve been graced with the likes of Westworld, Stranger Things, House of Cards, The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, and Breaking Bad (to name a few), so we have plenty of other options that won’t make us brain dead.

// I like to think humans are better than this //

Lets face it, the content of “reality TV” is first and foremost superficial, often encouraging and resulting in conflict over money and consumer goods – y’know the whole, “mine’s better than yours”, so you’re watching big children.

Secondly it’s not exactly promoting a healthy outlook on relationships and how to resolve them should a problem arise. Based on my minimal but sufficient knowledge on these programmes, everything’s centred around a lot of drama, yet as a real entity, or person, I know quite few friends in relationships and they do not act in the manner. Effectively, my friends seem quite happy and rational.

Thirdly, the majority of these “real people” are just bloody stupid. Call me arrogant and up myself, but I’d prefer to watch something/someone with a bit of substance *turns on QI*. Thank you for reading.

// “Reality TV” made me realise that boys can be basic bitches too //

Lost in Swindon?

[Opinion]

// Best venues to visit in Swindon, according to me //

I moved back to Swindon in October 2015 and I won’t lie I’ve been a hermit for most of it, and/or retreated back to London for long weekends. Naturally a small town cannot realistically compete against the capital city, but I often find myself spending most of my time on the GWR.

Now despite my reservations, I eventually decided to try and not act like a petulant child and take a wonder to see what improvements my small town had or hadn’t made since my return.

// My Swindon go-tos //

I can’t lie, I was not exactly psyched about trying to adjust back into Swindon – the town’s market for eateries is not enticing compared to say Cirencester or Bristol, but I had heard of some new competitors up in Old Town which instilled some confidence and curiosity.

// Helen Browning’s Chop House //

Where: 19-21 Wood St

I had been excitedly anticipating my visit here – I’d heard great reviews and, for me, it’s reputation alone had already outdone the greasy Spoons and influx of restaurant chains at Regents Circus.

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The main thing that is swiftly brought to your attention is that the produce is sourced organically, and the meat itself is brought in from Helen’s farm Eastbrook which is only 6 miles away from Swindon. Unlike the Spoons and Greene Kings, the Chop House does not advertise cheap processed meals, it is instead not shy of high quality and fresh dishes, which have been put together thoughtfully. I’d seriously recommend going in for brunch!

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// Balula’s Delicatessen //

Where: 9 Wood St

Just a few doors down from the Chop House is Swindon’s very own Deli come cafe. I had always noticed Balula’s but hadn’t ventured in until now – I was full from brunch but fancied a peruse and some inspiration for dinner.

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I was pleasantly surprised as I hadn’t realised there was a large dining area, or “coffee lounge”, and so much on offer to purchase at the counter. Balula’s reminds me of the cafes in Cirencester; independent, charming, and homemade. Unlike many of the coffee chains in Swindon’s down town, the cakes don’t look processed or as though they have been sat out for too long.

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As well as sweet treats and a lunch menu, Bulula’s also offers fresh meats, cheeses, fruit, and veg. I myself purchased some chorizo for my favourite scrambled eggs and a risotto dish – they were both spectacular.

// BAILA Coffee & Vinyl //

Where: 85 Victoria Rd

My favourite coffee shop in town has always been Darkroom Espresso, but I’ve now found a fantastic surrogate. Edgy, trendy, and contemporary – this has been a much needed establishment for Swindon’s young and alternative culture.

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Although I like to be alone when I get my writing done, I also like to be in a venue with some atmosphere – whether I want a flat white in the morning, or an Aperol Spritz in the evening, this progressive cafe come bar offers me both. BAILA also hosts a modest sized record collection to browse and purchase from. Furthermore come day or night there is always great music to be heard here, and that’s not just on vinyl – it also accommodates live music and DJs.

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*Note: BAILA has been refurbished rendering my above image outdated – I prefer the white walls though*

// Los Gatos //

Where: 1-3 Devizes Rd

I would strongly advise booking in advance (excluding weekends) when planning a visit to Swindon’s Tapas hotspot – it is a gem that consistently supplies high quality Spanish cuisine. Los Gatos is also a great alternative to the popular pub dining scene, boasting an array of delicious dishes which are designed and intended to be shared. As expected from Tapas, there is an impressive range of dishes on offer which accommodate meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans – the menu has been crafted and influenced by the owners’ travels in Spain.

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So far I’ve only visited of an evening, but each time I have remained pleasantly greeted by a buzzing yet intimate atmosphere. Furthermore there’s a smooth aura generated amongst the guests and staff, and it’s probably because this popular venue delivers on excellent value for your money leaving satisfaction levels high. I’ll certainly be returning soon to also check out the Los Gatos Paella Sunday specials!

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// Old Town Thai //

Where: 23 Wood St

Swindon is full of greasy Asian “restaurants”, so shamefully I was quite reluctant to give Old Town Thai a go, but I am pleased to conclude that I’m so glad I did. The food here is delightfully fresh tasting and not shy of flavour or authenticity – we ventured in as a group of three and because we were tempted by so much of the menu we ordered a selection to share (a manoeuvre I’d recommend).

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I feel I must also comment that the staff here are so accommodating and ready to take fire from guests who don’t really know much about Thai food – this enabled us to choose accordingly, leaving us extremely pleased. If you yourself are not familiar with Thai food, I would highly recommend opting for the classic Pad Thai, because here they guarantee an exemplary first time try.

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What’s more is that the venue itself is cushy, decorated with delightful Thai treats like mini Buddhas and cultural wall art.

// Give them a go //

If you’re like me and have unfortunately encountered some shaky experiences in Swindon, I hope I have been able to comfort you with some faith and enthusiasm (as well as alternatives to barricading yourself in at home). I am confident in suggesting you try out some of my selected favourites should you find yourself in the local area.

Essentially the rule is to stay up town and avoid the restaurant chains like our infamous teenage pregnancy trend – apparently this is now under control, but unfortunately the same cannot be said for our apparent love of unimpressive cheap eats. Although I have no intention of settling in Swindon, I’m glad that for the time that I am here the town is showing signs of progression.

// If you take a chance on some of my recommendations, I’d love to hear your thoughts! //

My 2017 Reading List

I was very humble with my Christmas list last year, the contents of which revolved around practical items such as socks, make-up remover, and of course books! In tune with my new practical outlook it seemed fitting that my new year’s resolution followed suit: READ MORE!

As an aspiring blogger in pursuit of a job in content writing I wanted to introduce some variety into my material for 2017. My top author’s thus far are Patti Smith, Miranda July, and Raymond Carver (I’m a big fan of short stories), and I am keen to expand and broaden my horizons.

1. A bit of lifestyle:  The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking

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I was told about this little gem by a friend, and then having seen The Times rave about it the curiosity killed me. I’d visited Copenhagen last July and fell in love with the Danish culture, food, style, and what I have now learned to be known as “hygge” aka: enjoying the simple things (in a nutshell).

Wiking explores the way in which one can encompass hygge into everyday life and the results are both therapeutic and positive – everything me and my well being need for 2017 – from cooking and clothing, to the outdoors and happiness

2. A bit of philosophy: Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche

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I was first introduced to Nietzsche while studying Film at university and was very much captivated by his theories on “Will to power” and “Superman”. When applying his “Will to power” theory in film I loved analysing the concept of humans as desiring machines which then spiralled into a discourse about “becoming”.

I selected Nietzsche’s most known work Thus Spoke Zarathustra for his nihilistic and atheist approach towards humanity, which incorporates one of my favourite ideas about the “superman”, or as my lecturer labelled, the “superhuman”.

3. A bit of humour and guidance: Not That Kind Of Girl by Lena Dunham

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    “I am a girl with a keen interest in having it all, and what follows are hopeful dispatches from the frontlines of that struggle” – relatable, well said Lena.

    I am a huge fan of of the TV show Girls and cannot wait for the last season. I love what Dunham has created with the script by depicting the honest, hilarious and brutal troubles of what life is like in your 20s (especially when you don’t have it all figured out). With the latter in mind, as you can imagine, I have been wanting to get my hands on her book for awhile.

    4. A bit of Art & Film: Incomplete Control by Sarah Keller

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    “Avant-Garde” was one of my favourite modules at university, for which Maya Deren became a key figure in my essays and education. Known best for Meshes of the Afternoon, Deren is one of the most influential American avant-garde filmmakers who introduced me to new ways in which one can express and convey ideas through film.

    In Incomplete Control, Sarah Keller discusses and explores Deren’s successful career as a female experimental filmmaker/artist, but also examines her unfinished works as well. Although I may no longer be at university, I’m definitely still a loyal disciple of film studies.

    5. A bit of fiction: Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney

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    Having expressed my interest in short stories and fast fiction, I was given this book to borrow by a friend. The title rings familiar, but to be honest I don’t know too much about the book itself or McInerney. Before committing to the idea of another book, my friend and I had a little bed time read – I was astonished and completely sold when realising Bright Lights, Big City is written in the second person! How intriguing!

    A few pages in and McInerney proves witty, thought-provoking, and brilliant, so it’s of no surprise at all that it had to be added to my list.

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    Given my inability to speed read, I am sure that my 5 top picks will keep me occupied for the majority of 2017. If anyone has a read of them, or has any other recommendations, then please do share!

    // Happy New Year //

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// British bullshit at it’s best, aka Piers Morgan //

One would like to believe that over the course of centuries our social values and norms are only ever evolving and broadening, however recent comments made by Piers Morgan spiralled me into a moment of disbelief and contemplation.

Scrolling through my Facebook feed an article about Janet Jackson would hardly stop me in my tracks, but one particular article with Piers Morgan’s name on it completely blind sided me. Now, the content alone did not disturb me, but Morgan’s views regarding the news flipped my stomach.

On Wednesday 5th, Good Morning Britain TV hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid discussed Janet Jackson’s news of becoming a mother at the age of 50. According to Piers there are double standards when it comes to an appropriate age of becoming a parent for men and women. The news of Jackson becoming a mother at 50 seemed preposterous to Piers, despite admitting that he became a father at 46, adding that it’s a different situation because “I’m a man”.

Accordingly to Piers, should an older woman arrive to pick her children up at school the immediate response would be “well why did granny come?”, as opposed to an older man which would be deemed completely and socially acceptable.

Yes, having a child would seem more tolerable when one is more mobile and in fighting fit health, but what if you are at 50? It seems to me that the issue being ignored in this instance is that we would condemn the older woman for having a child when it is she who has a higher chance of retiring while the child is growing up, which would effectively enable more time to be spent on the reason we surely want children – to raise them. Furthermore, an older woman by 50 would surpass most with life knowledge and experience, not to mention financial backing over the years – in fact, the older woman would probably have enjoyed and established a full career and therefore cease to feel the need to fill that void, unlike the younger woman.

It’s somewhat baffling to me that there has become an increasing fear of being perceived as an old mum to the point where time is running out and we must have children before we’re 30, and I’m calling bullshit on it. I’m 24, living at home, and trying to figure out what I want to do. In my eyes, I have plenty of time. I do however want to draw attention to the fact that I am dying to pursue and establish a healthy career, but I also still want to prat about while I can. Why? Because I’m only twenty-fucking-four, and it’s completely okay to not have it all figured out by now as I still have much more growing to do. Mortgages, diapers, organised fun… It doesn’t actually sound that appealing to me, but I might contemplate it (dare I say) when I’m an older woman.

The funny thing is I do believe that even in my position, if I were to announce some sort of misfitted pregnancy (no financial backing, no life direction, and a mountain of mental health issues) many would be overwhelmed with glee for my news (my therapist hopefully not included), yet an accomplished woman at the age of 50 is under scrutiny. By god, if I was pregnant at my age I’d probably seek a 50 year old to give my child to, because yes, the older woman would more likely be capable of the repsonsibility – now Piers Morgan, this is “just a fact”.

One thing that also rings clear, particularly amongst my small town peers, is that no matter what age you are once you’re a mother you’re immediately more mature than other women. Can I get another BULLSHIT? Despite the fact that many have concrete opinions on the cut off age for motherhood, I find it hard to believe that the majority of the underage groupies of the local pram parade are deemed on par with the older woman in any respect, but apparently more apt and able to raise a human being in comparison because physically they are in better shape and look like a better representative at the school gates.

It would appear that despite the advances made by women we still have much more of a way to go. It goes without saying that if a woman desires the urge to become a mother, then she does have the right to consider it. I believe it’s not age that is the alarm bell when setting limits to motherhood, but whether or not (any parent really) is mentally and financially stable. Why would you want to bring your new human into an unstable environment? We don’t have social services because the government is bored. Essentially, lets not forget, parenthood is a selfish act. Does anybody need a baby? No. They want one. So when actively making the decision to be a parent there are a few more things to worry about first, rather than age.

It’s now 2017 and I’m actually excited for more progressive talks. I’m intrigued to look more into why some women are not wanting to have children at all and discuss why I’m siding with them. In a dominating world full of ladies who latte, I’d rather be an Anna Kendrick or a Samantha Jones.