Archive for February, 2011

Where are the kids?

I?m going to to start this post off with a story of something that happened to me. In December 2009 my Dad and I, enticed by my talk about local work with the Kington Blackboard, went to the Kington Christmas fair to take a look around the town, sample what the markets had to offer and watch the Christmas lights switch-on. It was a lovely weekend of good shopping, good food, good drink and very good company from our hospitable bed and breakfast landlady. At the end of the weekend, my Dad dropped me off at the nearest train station in Knighton to catch a train back to Birmingham whilst he drove home to Caerphilly.

A couple of days later I was delivering a talk about local training session when I started to feel my mobile vibrate silently in my pocket with numerous phone calls, texts and voicemail messages. I checked it during a break to find many appeals from my family to contact them straight away. Psyching myself up for bad news of some sort, I phoned my Mum.

?Where are you?? Mum asked

?I?m at a training session.?

?Oh. Well Dad said he?d dropped you off at the station on Sunday and you didn?t call him to say that you?d gotten home  safely.? Oh dear.

?Ah. Sorry about that.?

?And then I checked your Digbeth website and you?ve not updated that since Sunday either.?

?No I haven?t?

?Well, why not??

?Er…..I?ve been busy….?

The conversation ended with me telling Mum to check my Twitter profile before panicking next time and one big realization – my parents check up on me by looking at what I?ve been saying online. Not in a weird stalker-ish way – just to see if I?m alright, what I?m getting up to and what?s new in my life. It?s fine and dandy by me – it?s all stuff I?ve consciously put into the public domain, they?re more than used to my strange and sweary ways and it?s nice to know they care. It seems to be one of the main reasons my Dad switches on his laptop and goes online at all and definitely the reason Mum progressed from looking at my tweets to creating a Twitter account for herself.

Karen Strunks has experienced the same phenonemmon – her mum @createdineire?s tweets started off with mainly messages to Karen but has grown to include the highlights of her day and conversations with Karen?s friends that have prompted her to paint pictures of raccoons.

When people talk of the benefits of learning how to use the internet they do talk about how great it is for keeping in touch with loved ones but they don?t tend to highlight to that it?s also a great way to gain a new insight into their lives and eavesdrop on their conversations.  It would be great to see a digital inclusion campaign/project that exploited parents? desire for this as an incentive for getting online.

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A whole lotta cheese

Well the great cheese Birthday party for Sas and I happened and what a fab night it was.  Many thanks to everyone who came and to Pete Ashton for taking a great set of photos whilst there. Even more thanks to those who brought some cheese to share – I know I asked you to, but I was truly flabbergasted by the amount of cheese that ended up on the big dining room table-come-cheeseboard.

Just some of the cheese at the party

Just some of the cheese at the party

There was cheese of all shapes and sizes – from Midge?s Dairylea triangles to Michael Grimes’ gorgeous Gruyere, from soft to hard, from yellow to blue. As the night drew on and people started leaving I made them take big blocks of cheese home with them, party-bag style, but despite this party-host Carl still ended up with a fridge full to bursting with cheese, which we have been trying to gobble our way through since.

The Gruyere from Michael Grimes was well flavoursome

The Gruyere from Michael Grimes was well flavoursome

Every meal was either cheese based or garnished with a heavy sprinkling of grated cheese. Snacktimes consisted of cheese and crackers. Breaking point came when Carl suggested a night-time snack of cheese on toast. I put the bread under the grill and took out the last piece of leftover Birthday party cheese – an unopened block of strange looking yellow-greeney-blue stuff. As I started slicing it, the cheese just seemed to crumble up. Thinking ?sod it, it needs using up anyhow? I put the whole lot onto the four slices of toast.

Lots of very smelly cheese on toast

Lots of very smelly cheese on toast

I was of the opinion that more is more with cheese but it seems I was wrong – this cheese tasted and smelled like fungal feet and my overly generous helpings did the toast no favours. We only got about halfway through our first slice before chucking the rest away. I never thought I?d be glad to see the back of a fridge full of cheese, but I?m very thankful that was the last of it.

Some of our preserves and pickles

Some of our preserves and pickles

Now Carl and I now find ourselves facing a new challenge – although all of the cheese has gone there?s still plenty of pickles, preserves and other cheese accompaniments people kindly brought along to the party. Thankfully these have a much later use-by date than the cheese did, so there?s no need to gorge on them, but I?m enjoying snacking on pickled gherkins and onions, and starting the day with some gorgeous Raspberry Preserve with Amaretto on my morning crumpets (thanks Nikki Pugh). Nom.

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