MY NOT VERY SERIOUS STARS
Scorpio 24 Oct – 22 Nov
An astrologer will try and tell you what you should do with your life – but have you seen the state of their life?! Take advice with a pinch of salt as we are all just trying our best to cope with life. A nose job may give you the confidence to find a mate and start breeding.
Sagittarius 23 Nov – 21 Dec
A young person with learning difficulties will teach you something valuable this month. A comment about your huge bottom may make you think. It is a good time to start meditating and take up yoga. Drink more water.
Capricorn 22 Dec – 20 Jan
A young friend with anxiety needs your help at the moment. A new red bra may spice up your love life. Don’t listen to experts who tell you to abandon the white bread that you love. It may be a good time to do a parachute jump.
Aquarius 21 Jan – 19 Feb
Diarrhoea may be a problem this month for you so you should make sure you’re always near a toilet. Be careful before you go ahead and change your car. A religious man will try and convert you to his religion but do stick to your own beliefs as no one really knows the truth.
Pisces 20 Feb – 20 Mar
Let your hair down for a while and do some serious partying for you deserve this after all you’ve been going through recently. It is a good time to learn the tango. You may not be perfect but you are using your precious life well.
Aries 21 Mar – 20 Apr
A song you hear will make you think of times when you were happier. A charismatic person will come into your life but be careful what you tell them. Now is a good time to start saving money for your future.
Taurus 21 Apr – 21 May
This month you will have the chance to buy into a successful business but it may mean you would have little or no spare time – so think carefully before you act. A future star may ask you out but be careful of their motives. Remember a bird in the hand is worth three up your nose.
Gemini 22 May – 21 Jun
A bodybuilder may try to catch your eye but do make sure there is also a brain in there somewhere before you agree to go out with them. An American woman may promise you the world but her promises will prove to be empty. Try to lose some of your big gut.
Cancer 22 Jun – 23 Jul
It is a good time to take up D.I.Y. with money being so scarce. It may also be a good time to start laughing at your geekish boss’ jokes if you want to get on at work. A friend will amaze you with their generosity.
Leo 24 Jul – 23 Aug
This month you should refrain from undressing attractive members of the opposite sex with your eyes – and anyway you wouldn’t have a chance with any of them. A lady with spectacles may give you some precious advice but beware of her motives. An opportunity to better yourself comes out-of-the-blue, but remain true to yourself.
Virgo 24 Aug – 23 Sep
The opposite sex will find you irresistible at the moment – especially as someone has put it around that you’re a recent lottery winner. A place with flowing water would be a good place to stop and reflect on your life. The colour red will have significance for you this month. It is a good time to start learning Mandarin.
Libra 24 Sep – 23 Oct
Someone will offer to do some decorating cheaply for you – but remember you usually get what you pay for. You need to do something about your poor oral hygiene if you are serious about finding a mate. A no-nonsense friend will give you some advice that proves to be worth more than gold.
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AN INTERESTING INTERVIEW WITH BEN PARKER
Ben, can you tell me a little bit about yourself? At the moment I’m a meditation teacher and that’s my main focus. I have been meditating, on and off, for ten years, twice a day. I meditate for pleasure and for healing and for the feelings, experience or experiences. I was unwell for a period of time. I have had a history of mental health problems. Peer support, a listening ear, the desire to be open and express myself and definitely meditation & medication are the things that keep me well.
What got you into meditation? As a child I was always interested in the unexplained mysteries of life like the Bermuda Triangle, Ghosts, U.F.O’s etc. I remember the first curiosity of meditating when I was 18. I used to run a group in Leeds called ‘The Free Thinkers Group’ – it was to try and get people to open up about talking about these things.
Through meditation and other experiences, I feel I have experienced something that mergers into something I used to see as mysticism. I’ve tried to look for a label of who I am, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t need to do this. I’m really a person on a journey of discovery which is about me and my approach and my personal holism and overcoming the challenge to become in a sort of way all-encompassing.
Do you think you’re important in life? I don’t think I’m any more important than anybody else although I think it’s good to be you and being happy. Your happiness is important! I don’t have a sense of importance and if I did, I would try and break that down. What I’m saying is that you are you and I am me and we are all as important as each other, and all want peace and happiness…
Can we just take a step backwards and talk a little about your life in general? Last year I got engaged to Joanne; I live in Thornhill, in Dewsbury and I’m 38, I’m a qualified teacher and I was an electrician for nine years and also used to be a support worker for vulnerable people.
Did you become ill yourself? Yes, I became ill in 1997 and so am just coming out of a twenty year period of illness. Everyday I’m dealing with something positive, fresh and new and constantly adjusting…
Have you got any hobbies? At the moment I’m interested in going out and seeing as much of life and nature as possible – I particularly like spontaneous days out. I have a strong passion for electronic music. I like Techno music and I D.J. Also I have a production studio in one of my rooms where I make my own music.
What kind of meditation do you do? It relates to things that I have learned from books, certain teachers, but mainly the way I naturally practiced and experimented myself; the Buddhist approach is good and its meditation practice is a very simple one, as it focuses on breath. I try to find a soft, inner, gentle and pleasurable focus – you can focus on breath, a part of the body or being grounded. At my group I also introduce simple silent mantras but I am always looking for new techniques; I teach five techniques focusing on a mantra, breath, a natural point of focus, etc. meditation is open to personal experience.
So during class I give a guided meditation with some music and the introduction of a technique to use and then people can go away and meditate independently. This is introduced to a relaxed social environment. It is also a chance for people to chat, philosophise and share wisdom.
I also teach the teachings of Babaji and Toltec/Artists wisdom, which helps you to deal with the human “World of Words” as I call it.
Where does your group take place and who attends it? The group is run above the Superdrug store in the room for yoga, in Brighouse town centre, on a Saturdays, every fortnight at 2pm. There is also, in April, a group starting in Hebden Bridge. It will be fortnightly Fridays at 7pm at Calderdale Yoga Centre, St George’s Square. It costs £5 to attend (with concessions 3% goes to local community). Refreshments like herbal teas and decaf coffee are available.
What types of people attend your classes Ben? All sorts of people come to the group including people who have been to Buddhist centres, people interested in philosophy and all those who meditate or are interested in learning meditation. So far it’s been good, everyone has come back and the reviews have all been positive. Meditation by nature is universal and it does not attach itself to any particular religion. Buddha reached his personal understanding of existence through meditation, that proves the power and things that can happen in meditation.
Do you have any faith yourself? I have faith that the life I live will be okay. I have my own personal approach to things but I have also gone to a Spiritualist church for four years. I am open to all and interested in all faiths. I think it is wise to be respectful. I have been very interested in many concepts and I have gone to groups covering Eastern Philosophies, certain Psychology, Psychedelic culture and research, and Shamanism. Mainly diverse areas of what you could categories as Spirituality. I just focus on Meditation now. I do think all experiential forms of spirituality can be accessed in the meditative state. I also have experienced and do believe in a creator or creation process that is a projection that layers itself very, very deep way back in the source of the heart.
So do you believe in ghosts? I believe in residual energy, I also have experienced my own soul as well as different souls. Some what you may call souls that you could see as inner energy planes can be classed as Ascended Masters or guides. I don’t call these Ghosts. I have also experienced something you could call Morphic Resonance. It’s as if energy is stored in the room, land or environment – like energy from a battlefield where horrific things happened.
Then there is the contrast that some energy of a more positive nature can be held. I think the nature of life is healing and because of that things just do eventually get better and life in general is good. Life can be seen as quite complicated but it simplifies it in my opinion if you look at things as just being energy or energies. And in meditation I try to get people to first discover their own energy.
What are your personal hopes for the future? I’m happy to stay relaxed, calm, and comfortable in my life. I would like my meditation group to continue to grow, I’d like to do a bit of Djing and have a few holidays. Me and Jo are hoping to get married in the couple of years.
If people want to contact you, how can they do so?
Written by Ruth Minich
Lying in bed the other night I heard a dog bark. ”I love hearing dogs bark” I thought “-why do I love hearing dogs bark?” These days we don’t let dogs bark, we worry about what the neighbours will think, but closing my eyes, I let my mind drift back to a time when dogs’ barking regularly mingled with other sounds, and there I was – 8 or 9 years old, lying in the sun on top of our coal shed roof, it was quite high, having been converted from an outside lavvy. I was always climbing in those days, never happier than when up aloft.Sunny Friday dinnertimes (never lunchtimes – dinner was midday) I would eat my fish & chips in the branches of our sycamore tree, Mum and Nanna would be mildly amused but never bothered. So back to the coal shed roof – weekdays, in school holidays I liked nothing better than to take a book, climb up the back wall, up again, and onto the coal shed roof, I’d read a bit & then finally I would lie back in the sun, close my eyes and listen to the working day sounds all around meSounds that I heard:Dogs barking – most households in those days let their dogs out with the children in the mornings, and they would all arrive home together again when they were hungry.Cockerels crowing all times of day – there were allotments nearby. I can remember digging up worms for someone’s hens, we also saved the peelings for the pigs, nothing was wasted. Any leftover dinner was for the dog, although there wasn’t much left over in our house – I had to sit and eat up all my dinner whether I liked it or not, and couldn’t leave the table until I had done so. This must have taken some training on my parents’ part, I can remember as a small child throwing tantrums on the floor.Women calling their children, children shouting.Working mills – I lived in Dewsbury Moor, nearer to Heckmondwike than Dewsbury. There were 2 woollen mills further up the hill – one small, one medium sized. The clatter of machinery rang out, also the constant hammering and banging from the engineering and wire works in the town below. Factory sirens – one to call people to work, one to tell them it was dinnertime, one to call them back and one at the end of the day.The sound of the trains bringing in the coal was never ending. Nanna used to say that if you could hear the trains in the far distance bad weather was coming.“Rag Bone” – the rag and bone man with his horse & cart. If you could find some old clothes for him he would give you a balloon, find something woollen and there would be a couple of pennies in it for you. Nanna always sent me out with a bucket and shovel for the horse muck afterwards – for the roses. There was a rag merchant’s mill a few streets away where people could take their rags to be weighed in exchange for (a little) money, we were in the centre of the shoddy industry – rags were ground up to make new cloth. Not much was actual waste then, the milk bottles were refilled and we could take some empty bottles back to the shop and collect a refund (I don’t remember plastic bottles), newspapers were wrapped around fish and chips.The coalman – standing on the back of his waggon, shuttering the black stuff into the sheds and down the cellars from off his back. I live in a small Pennine village now where coal is still burned, the smell of our village chimneys in winter takes me straight back in time. Fire brigade bells too – people were always having chimney fires, even in summer!There weren’t many cars. I remember the big wool waggons though, so overloaded with bales of raw wool they swayed as they rattled down the hill, miniature clouds of the stuff blowing in all directions and rolling along the road. Some of the pavements were very narrow, just 12 inches wide – I preferred walking on these of course, but when a wool waggon swayed past I would be paralysed, convinced that this time it would all crash down on me. I can still remember the smell of the wool and diesel.
Many trades people called door to door in those days – the baker delivered on Saturdays, some people had the pop man deliver – imagine it – a van loaded up with nothing but fizzy drinks. My mum and dad had a fish & chip shop for a while and I remember delivering wet fish with Dad in his little Jowett van (I remember going with him to the fish auctions on the docks in Grimsby too).
Friday teatime was a busy time on our doorstep – mum and dad paid the coalman weekly so he would call, followed by the milk woman for her money, then the insurance man. Some people did the football pools so they would call weekly, catalogue money had to be paid weekly too. Of course most people were paid weekly in those days, Dad would draw money from Martins Bank on Saturday mornings – always in ten shilling notes (50p now), but for a lot it was cash in a pay-packet.
Gypsies knocked from door to door certain times of the year – when there was a feast (fair) nearby – selling lace and clothes pegs. They would tell your fortune if you crossed their palms with silver, Nanna was superstitious and so always did, she said she was once cursed by a gypsy in Blackpool and had had several years of bad luck.
Neighbours would knock too, if someone had died, a lady from Moorside Avenue would collect money from people for the funeral. Children knocked – penny for the guy, carol singing, showing off new Whitsuntide clothes before the Whitsuntide walk – people would give money (Mum wouldn’t let me do that). Friends of Mum and Nanna called regularly for endless afternoon cuppas from a big teapot, leaving with “I’ll get off, you’ll need to be getting the tea on, your hubby will be home soon”.
Only 50 or so years ago but a different world. I reach out to catch this world for a little while; it slowly fades away as I drift into sleep. The dog has stopped barking.
BRENDA CONDOLL TALKS ABOUT HER BELOVED GRANDMOTHER
Brenda, what was your grandmother called? Miss Lucille Claxton.
How old was she when she died? 94 or 95.
How did she die? Old age.
Where was she born? In Nevis, in the Eastern Caribbean.
Did she stay in Nevis all of her life? Yes, she only went to the sister island St. Kitts. She never visited another country.
What do you know about her when she was young? She had a garden where she planted all sorts of vegetables and fruits like mangos, yams, tangerines, pawpaw and manse port.
Were you brought up by her? Yes, because my mother’s husband never wanted me to be amongst them. My mam lived in St. Kitts and I lived with my grandmother in Nevis.
Did your grandmother treat you like a daughter? Yes, but we were very poor and lived mainly hand-to-mouth. She used to sell her produce from her garden and she reared chickens and sold eggs in exchange for a bag of rice. It was a hard life.
How many children did she have? Well two of her older children died when they were small and that left my mother Stephina Veronica Claxton and my uncle Sidney Anderson Claxton.
Are they both still alive? My uncle Sid died out in England and my mam is still alive and lives in Gledhow Christian Care Home in Leeds – she had a stroke.
Why do you think your grandmother never travelled – do you think she would have liked to come to England? Since my mam came to England in the fifties, she would ask my grandmother to come but she refused as she didn’t want to travel to cold countries like England.
What would you like to say about your grandmother? She was hardworking, decent and did her best to help me and my half-sisters. She was a Christian. She was a good person and I miss her.
DEMENTIA…..WHERE DOES IT BEGIN?Written by Jan Sloane
I am sure this is the question that many people ask and it is only with hindsight that we have some clue.
My dad died on the 3rd April 2011 which was coincidentally Mother’s Day and his grandson’s 21st birthday.
His journey began around ten years before, with just the odd comment of well you didn’t tell me that, and as dad had always been a bit Bolshie all his life, we thought he was just being a little awkward. A few years passed with just the odd comment but life for him was relatively normal. He still drove his car, went out shopping with mum, did his garden etc. But one day we were travelling to Southport where my auntie lived as she was ill, and he said he didn’t know how to get there. I drove and it was only later that the first inkling of dementia arose.
We kept an eye on him and eventually it became apparent that something was wrong and vascular dementia was diagnosed. This is the type that is a terminal illness as it produces strokes.
As time went on and he got progressively worse, he did become housebound as he walked with sticks and didn’t like a wheelchair, so I would sit with him while mum shopped etc. but it became so hard for her to care for him.
On a plus side, his softer side emerged and we became very close, but repeating everything every few minutes did take its toll. Dad got worse, couldn’t get up stairs and couldn’t control his bodily functions – which was awful to see in such a proud man.
We had lots of support from family doctors and social services but it was decided that he had to go into a home….an awful day. He would get infections and we had several calls saying he wouldn’t make it but he would rally again and all the home would hear him shouting and we even managed to have a few laughs with him! But as he regressed further, he went back through his life eventually thinking I was his mum.
On the 2nd April, I went to see him….he could barely move his arms, didn’t open his eyes and was obviously near to the end of his life…..I told him I loved him and he should go if he wanted to…..he died during that night. I loved my dad but I was glad he was no longer suffering.
Sent in by Michael Blackburn
An oversized cello case looks exactly like a coffin, so as I pushed mine through the facility for juvenile offenders, I attracted plenty of attention. I was on my way to the chapel, after getting roped into performing for the young inmates by Sister Janet Harris, who co-ordinated volunteer activities. The project closest to her heart was a writing course she had helped to create on which I’d recently started teaching.My students were high-risk offenders, who’d been charged with murder of armed robbery and were waiting for their cases to be tried.
Somehow Sister Janet had learnt that I played the cello as a hobby and asked me to perform. I tried to reason with her, recalling the last time I played for a group of kids. It was a birthday party where the birthday boy kicked the end pin of my instrument and declared that the cello stupid. Only the accordion is more uncool.“Sister Janet”, I said” Have you ever been to a school assembly where classical music is on the programme? It can get ugly,”
“Ah.” she had replied, smiling “but that was school. The boys here would never behalf like that.” “Here” was the Central Juvenile Hall in Los Angeles.After passing through a maze of chain-link fencing, I reached a building with a cross on its roof. Over the roar of amplified music coming from inside, I introduced myself to someone with a clipboard and a walkie-talkie, and he leafed through a schedule until he found my name. “You’re up next.”He led me to the chaplain’s office, where I could unpack my cello and warm up. “When we call you, go through that door and you’ll be right on the stage,” he explained.After he left. I decided to open the door just enough to peek in; I was curious to see what kind of act I’d be following. It was a hip-hop group; their music was heavily amplified and the audience of prisoners was swaying and clapping along. One of the performers was an attractive young woman wearing tight jeans and a shirt that revealed her belly button. Although she did not sing and her use of the tambourine suggested a minimum of training, a glance at the all-male prisoner audience confirmed that she was the star of the show.I closed the door and slumped into the chaplain’s chair. “Am I disturbing you?” a voice asked from behind me. It was Sister Janet.
I don’t think that having me play was such a good idea.” I told her.“Why not?”“Listen to what’s going on in there! They’re stamping their feet and working up a sweat, and that’s just from watching the girl in the bikini, never mind the music. Can you imagine the let-down when I go out there?”“They’ve got a girl in a bikini?” Sister Janet asked.“It might as well be a bikini. This isn’t going to work.”“Have a little faith,” she urged.
At precisely two o’clock the amplification was unceremoniously turned off and the group left. Unlike most concerts, where people cheer and shout for encores at the end of a performance, this audience had to sit quietly. But no-one looked happy.
A man with an ill-fitting toupee shuffled down the aisle between the pews, turned to face the audience, then read from a clipboard: “And now, Mr Salzman will play the violin. He shuffled away out of the chapel.
The silence in the room so unnerved me that I failed to see the raised platform on the stage, I walked right into it, stubbing my big toe and careering forward. I narrowly avoided a fall by using the cello as a ski pole, planting the end pin into the dais and pivoting towards the audience. I hadn’t intended to enter like Buster Keaton, but that’s how it came across and the inmates rewarded me with laughter and a round of applause.
I stalled for time explaining to my audience that almost everything they saw on the cello, except for the metal strings and the end pin, had once been part of a living thing: the spruce top, the maple back with its tiger-stripe grain, the ebony fingerboard, the snake wood bow with hair from a horse’s tail and the pieces of ivory from the tusks of a mammoth frozen in the tundra for tens of thousands of years. When we play the instrument, I said we bring these pieces to life again.
About then I ran out of little-known facts about the cello, so I told the boys that the first piece I was going to play, “The Swan” by Camille Saint-Saens, always made me think of my mother. Then I started to play. With its high ceiling, bare walls and hard floor, the chapel was as resonant as a giant shower room. The cello sounded divine in that room, which excited me, but then a rustling from the audience brought me back to reality. The boys were bored as I had feared.
The rustling grew in intensity. It wasn’t quite the sound of fidgeting and wasn’t quite the sound of whispering. I glanced at the audience and saw a roomful of boys with tears running down their faces. What I’d heard was the sound of sniffling and nose wiping – music to my musicians ears.
I played the rest of the piece better than I’d ever played it in my life, and when I had finished the applause was deafening. It was a mediocre cellist’s dream come true. For my next piece I chose a Sara band from one of the Bach suites. The boys rewarded me with another round of applause. Then someone shouted, “Play the one about mothers again”. A cheer rose up from the crowd. I realised then that it was the invocation of motherhood that had moved them so deeply.
I played “The Swan” again, some more Bach and “The Swan” a third time. When the man with the toupee signalled that my time was up, the inmates booed him… Then they gave me a final ovation.
* From a past article in Reader’s Digest.
ROBERT WILLIAM’S DESERT ISLAND DISCS
(1) Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin
One of my favourite songs when I was a young man, and still now
(2) Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I–IX) – Pink Floyd
Again a song from my youth with a liberating message
(3) Learning to Fly – Pink Floyd
A later song from possibly my favourite band of all time
(4) Der Ring des Nibelungen — Richard Wagner
One of the longest operas so a lot of content and time length
(5) Sleep – Max Richter
One of the longest pieces of instrumental music composed so a lot of content though also a lot of repetition – good to sleep to
(6) Thunderstruck – AC/DC
Again a top band of mine and a bit of heavy’ish metal mix up to headbang to
(7) Insomnia – Faithless
A great tune to dance to
(8) KLF – 3am Eternal
Another great tune from an early and seminal duet who infamously burnt 1 million quid and quit the music business with a stunt of firing a sub-machine gun (with blanks) into the audience at an awards ceremony. Seminal>
Read more here http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/music/why-did-the-klf-burn-1-million-in-cash-on-scots-island-of-jura-1-4275820
Tao te Ching – Lao Tsu
Can always be referred back to and re-read, an alternative would, and possibly could be, the Yoga Sutras of Pat Anjali, it’s a tough choice.
Solar Powered Freezer
Find water, make ice, it’s gonna be hot. Find some fruit, e.g. limes and make some lime-ice. If it’s big enough then put feet in it when it’s cripplingly hot.
Some words need deleting from dictionaries. One of them is ‘secret’. There is no such thing as a ‘secret’. Why? Because whoever told it to you broke the ‘secret’ so it no longer exists. Having a ‘secret’ makes us feel very powerful. We know something which no-one else knows (apart from the person who told us). So we can’t resist the temptation to share the ‘secret’ with as many people as possible and they in turn share it with as many people as possible. So take the word ‘secret’ out of the dictionary and replace it with ‘gossip’ which is what it is.Another useless word is ‘ultimate’. Nothing is ‘ultimate’. As soon as something is deemed to be ‘ultimate’ someone comes along with something which supersedes it. How do the washing powder manufacturers continue to make powder which is always ‘new’? Fifty years from now will they still claim to have the ‘ultimate’ washing powder? Perhaps one day they will invent a powder which gets rid of 100% of germs and not just 99.9%!Also let’s get rid of ‘unmissable’! It appears on the TV adverts of those who are trying to foist their products on to us. If it’s ‘unmissable’ how is it that I never want or need the product? The TV channels are most guilty of using this ploy to part us from our money. ‘Only £39.99 a Month’ they say leaving the unwary to calculate the annual cost of £479!A new phrase which has recently come into use is ‘Off-of’. This is used in the context of “We should be able to get a reduction ‘off-of’ the price. What nonsense. Why not just say “We should be able to get a reduction off the price”. This ‘off-of’ occurs in TV programmes. Listen out or it and have a laugh at the nonsense.A much overused word is ‘exclusive’. Those who use the word are trying to make us believe that only THEY have this vital story or piece of information. A read of any newspaper will prove that their so called ‘exclusive’ is known by almost everyone.
Some adverts which are for items we use every day such as toothpaste tell us that they give ‘twelve hour protection’. Why only twelve hours? – Because if they can get us to use them twice a day they will increase their sales by 100%.
Written by Michael Blackburn
Whilst many plants are asleep awaiting the coming of spring there are signs of life in my garden.I have an early Azalea on which the buds start to appear in late January and which flowers throughout February. At the moment in early March it is magnificent and is in full bloom. Looking at the individual flowers I am reminded of the words of Jesus “Consider the lilies of the field…….even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these”. Matt 6 28-29.The Azalea is not the only colour in the garden; there is one other. In a large terra cotta pot there is a pink bloom about the size of a Hydrangea. It has large oval leaves about six inches at the widest. Perhaps someone can recognize it and tell me what it is. It could be part of the Hydrangea family.Otherwise all in the garden sleeps but if I look closely then signs of life appear. I have two Japanese Maples, planted to give colour; they are of slightly different varieties. At this time of year the buds are beginning to form which in the spring and summer will give rich golden brown leaves. In the autumn one them becomes bright red and although that heralds the coming of winter it is still a joy to behold.I have two Magpies nesting in a large conifer. They are noisy and aren’t against attacking small fledging birds. That is ‘nature taking its course’ and I can’t interfere.Mr Fox makes his night-time stroll through the garden. He continues to be very fussy. He refuses to east potatoes, including chips, carrots, bread, peas, and any vegetables. He is after one thing only: meat and especially chicken. Recently my wife and I had a chicken meal which neither of us could manage to eat. Mr Fox made short work of that!We have a Lilac Tree which is slowly dying. We got a few rather sad flower heads last year but this year I doubt if we will get any. We have a Quince bush which, twenty five years ago, when we moved here, was very healthy. But now it is mostly a skeleton of its previous growth. I don’t want to cut it down as it provides a safe haven for small birds when raptors come into the garden. The killer birds are too big to get into the Quince bush.Returning to the positive side of the garden I have a Forsythia which was given to us by a neighbour fifteen years ago. At that time it was just root with one branch. It is now a large good healthy plant which we planted just outside our conservatory. When in flower it offers a wonderful yellow glow which lets us know that spring has arrived.There are three Hydrangeas in the garden. All different colours. When they start to flower I will ‘drown’ them with water. They can never get enough water. They thrive on it.
Let’s get out into our gardens and appreciate all that is happening to give us a glorious display of colour come the spring and summer.
I would like to know what other readers think about what I have to say. As a single working woman with no children, I don’t think I should pay as much tax as people who have children. When you have children this causes much expense financially and as I have none, I can’t see why I should contribute to the results of other people’s pleasure.
Toni Swales, London
I am constantly fed up of being told by so-called experts what I should or should not eat. I am a firm believer that everything in life should be done in moderation. Death can call at any moment, but I think one should be prudent but not paranoid about everything we eat.
William Brookes, Winchester
I agree with the person who suggested you should include some sport and music in your magazine. I also agree that your magazine is evolving nicely and I think you should take it to another level by including sport and music.
Peter Downes, Colchester
Like many people, I think that the amount of money top footballers earn is ridiculous and cannot in any way be justified. I do have the view that the public is to blame for this situation as if they withdrew their interest, wages would come down to a more acceptable level. After all, these people are just being paid for kicking a ball around. It’s not rocket science!
Debbie Tyson, Bradford
I am tired of all the hero worship that goes on towards television personalities and other showbiz personnel. I think people should realise that many of the aforementioned rely solely on confidence/bravado to carry them through life, and don’t really have that much talent to talk of. Many ordinary people could do their jobs if they only had the opportunity to do so.
Damien Parker, Wolverhampton
This morning I got on a train only to see a brazen young man, sat across from me, with his feet up on the opposite seat. I really wanted to say something to him as we all have to sit on these seats, but I was afraid to do so for fear of being on the end of a torrent of abuse or worse.
The actions of some young people baffle me but I am afraid to say anything because of their physical presence.
Florence Morton, Cambridge
There are clearly enough resources on this planet to ensure everyone has a comfortable life without all being the same. If only governments would come together to redistribute wealth then I think we would all be in a better place.
Sara Williams, Leeds
Tea BreadIngredients: 12 oz mixed fruit
Cup of brown sugar
One cup of cold tea
Pinch of bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of mixed spice
One cup of plain flour
One cup of self-raising flourMethod: Soak mixed fruit overnight in one cup of brown sugar mixed with one
cup of cold tea. Stir in one egg, a pinch of bicarbonate of soda, a pinch
of mixed spice, one cup of plain flour and one cup of self-raising flour.
Pour into a 2 lb loaf tin and cook for 11/2 hours Gas Mark 3 – 4,
Lowering to Gas Mark 2 for half an hour. Serve slices with butter.
Ingredients: 10 oz digestive biscuits
5 oz butter
300 gram of cream cheese
60 gram of icing sugar
½ pint of double cream
Method: Crush biscuits and combine with melted butter. Pour into base of a spring foam tin. Mix 300 grams of cream cheese (at room temp)
to 60 grams of icing sugar and lemon juice.
Whisk ½ pint of double cream and add to cheese mix. Place mixture
over biscuit base. Sit in fridge for two hours. Top with preserve of
fruit of choice.
TWO MORE SOUP RECIPES FROM JUNE CHARLTON
Sweet Potato and Onion Soup
Ingredients: 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 lb sweet potatoes diced
1 carrot diced
2 onions sliced
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 to 21/2 cups of vegetable stock (1/2 pint = 11/4 cups)
Unsweetened orange juice
8 fluid oz/1 cup natural yoghurt
2 tablespoons fresh coriander
Salt and pepper
Method: Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan and add the diced sweet
potatoes and carrot, slice onions and garlic. Sauté gently for 5
minutes stirring constantly.
Pour in the vegetable stock and orange juice and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the saucepan and cook the
vegetables for 20 mins or until the sweet potato and carrot cubes
Transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender in batches
and process for 1 minute until pureed.
Return the puree to the rinsed out saucepan.
Stir in the natural yoghurt and chopped coriander and season to taste.
Serve the soup garnished with coriander sprigs and orange rind.
Red Bell Pepper and Chilli Soup
Ingredients: 8 oz red bell peppers seeded and sliced
1 onion sliced
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 green chilli chopped
½ pint/11/2 cups passata (sieved tomatoes)
1 pint/21/2 cups of vegetable stock
2 tablespoons of chopped basil. Fresh basil brigs to garnish
Method: Put the bell peppers in a large pan with the onion, garlic and chilli.
Add the passata (sieved tomatoes) and vegetable stock and bring to
the boil, stirring well.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until the
peppers have softened. Drain, reserving the liquid and vegetables
Sieve the vegetables by pressing through a sieve (strainer) with the back
of a spoon. Alternatively, blend in food processor until smooth.
Return the vegetable puree to a clean pan with the reserved cooking
liquid. Add the basil and heat through until hot.
Garnish the soup with fresh basil sprigs and serve.
ANOTHER FUN QUIZ FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH
(1) Who won the Men’s 100 metres in Rio?
(2) Who played Mildred in the hit 70s sitcom ‘George and Mildred’?
(3) Who was the original Beatles’ drummer?
(4) Who had a hit with their song ‘I’m Not in Love’?
(5) What does the French word ‘demain’ mean in English?
(6) What is the currency of Norway?
(7) Where is the Royal Albert Hall?
(8) What is Bill and Hillary Clinton’s daughter called?
(9) What makes up a ‘Bloody Mary’?
(10) Who played Colombo in the hit series of that name?
(11) What role did Jack Nicholson play in the Batman films?
(12) Which county is Derby in?
(13) How long was David Cameron Prime Minister of Great Britain?
(14) What is the common name for a man who likes to dress in women’s clothes?
(15) What is the Japanese word to describe singing along to prerecorded music?
(16) Who is the German Chancellor?
(17) What is the currency of Sweden?
(18) Who was the first aviator to cross the English Channel?
(19) Who wrote the book: ‘The Prime of Miss Brodie’?
(20) What position did Peter Shilton play for the England Football Team?
(1) Usain Bolt (2) Yootha Joyce (3) Pete Best (4) 10cc (5) tomorrow (6) Norwegian Krone (7) London (8) Chelsea (9) vodka, tomato juice and combinations of spices and flavourings (10) Peter Falk (11) The Joker (12) Derbyshire (13) from 2010 – 2016 (14) transvestite (15) karaoke (16) Angela Merkel (17) Swedish Krona (18) Louis Bleriot (19) Muriel Spark (20) Goalkeeper