Crumble cake

Today I baked a cake. I really wanted to try something a little different, and different I did. I have a few baking recipe books, so after trawling through those and finding some lovely looking rhubarb at the market, I decided on a fruity option.

The recipe I actually found was for ‘plum streusel’ but to directly translate that into language I understand perfectly – it’s crumble cake! I substituted the plum for rhubarb, added a little banana in place of some of the butter, and grated in some lemon zest and then cooked it all up.

The result? A pretty tasty rhubarb crumble cake, with a lovely layer of crunchy crumble, slightly blackened (but still yummy) rhubarb and a final (well, on the bottom) layer of cake.

And here is a photo of my creation.

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French Harry Potter

No, it’s not a thing…I just happened to have access to a DVD of a couple of the Harry Potter films in French. It was quite an experience I’ll tell you.

I was originally going to watch Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, but the moment it came on, I remembered that I watched it in English just a couple of weeks ago. Instead I opted for the Order of the Phoenix (because my only other option of the Goblet of Fire wasn’t in any of the cases).

It was a very well dubbed film. For a vast majority of the time I couldn’t really see any issues with the syncing of words/mouth movements. I don’t know if being French (or being fluent in French) would have affected that at all. It’s probably easier to pick up issues with your own language syncing than someone else’s.

One thing that really worked well, though, was the voices they chose. Sometimes the dubbed voice choice isn’t a good one and that just makes it laughable. But the voices fit the characters enough. For example, Bellatrix Lestrange was really high pitched and screeching which really fit the scene/character well. The voice of Harry and the other main characters were so good that I barely even noticed that they were dubbed. I just got lost in the story.

There’s something really enjoyable about watching films in another language, or at least dubbed in another language (with subtitles) or listening to music in another language. I’m not sure what it is, it just feels like something else entirely.

Milk? On my hands?

I suffer from very dry skin on my knuckles during winter, so much so that this winter I’ve had bleeding knuckles at a couple of points. My lips get quite dry, too. But it’s my knuckles that hurt most because of the broken skin.

I have moisturiser but it’s hard to use because it’s very greasy and I’m always on my iPad, don’t think that really mixes well, do you?

The only thing I’ve found that does help is putting moisturiser on the most painful/cracked parts of my knuckles and covering them with plasters whilst I sleep – it works.

Today I Googled dry knuckles because it’s not necessarily easy to cover my knuckles in plasters in the daytime and I discovered a secret moisturiser I’d never considered before; MILK.

Apparently, milk has moisturising properties. It makes sense, since they sell ‘milk and honey’ cream and body wash. They said warm milk, but I imagine that’s partly so your skin doesn’t get a fright when it’s dipped into fridge cold liquid.

I tried it tonight and it’s worked quite well. I had to resist the urge to wash my hands after soaking them because drying milk is rather sticky. Thankfully a coating of water didn’t so too much damage. My knuckles now feel a little better. A night of sleeping with my knuckles covered in cream and plasters should top this off nicely.

Tomorrow will be a non-dry knuckle day.

Are you alone?

Loneliness is a strange concept. You can be alone physically, but you can also be alone when you’re surrounded by crowds of people. We consider loneliness to be something where we do not have a partner to share our lives with, or have less family than others. I wonder how those same people would feel about loneliness if they really had no one. Not a brother, or an uncle, or a parent, or any friends.

Are you really alone if there are people in your life who you care about? Technically, yes. But in reality, probably not.

I’ve spent the day cat/house sitting. I find being in empty houses a little scary, which doesn’t really help. What is worse than that, however, is this almost overwhelming feeling of emptiness.

I’m enjoying spending some time alone, having the freedom to cook whatever I want, watch anything I’d like on TV and generally relax in a house where I’m not about to be disturbed at any given moment.

Aside from the positive aspect to this experience, I’m also faced with some less than positive thoughts. The idea of living alone, like this, every single day. I’ve enjoyed cooking for myself and sitting down at the table to eat, but really, it’s quite sad that I was sat alone tonight. I do it every single day of my life, anyway, but the difference is my parents are usually downstairs whilst I’m holed up in my bedroom.

It’s stranger still that we can feel loneliness before it’s even happened, we can anticipate the feeling of being without as though it’s a real thing that’s already happening. I’m worrying that there is loneliness in my future when it’s not something I really need to worry about right now.

I spent the morning with other people, so it’s not like I’ve spent every waking moment alone. I’ve had my share of socialisation for today.

Nor can I really be considered as alone – I have two cats (one snoring one) for company. So how can I still feel that loneliness?

Considering loneliness is supposed to be quite simple, it doesn’t half become complex when you look at it in greater detail.

What about the rest of the vulnerable people?

Someone thought it would be a good idea to put mental health nurses into police stations and courts. This move is to help diagnose people before they reach prison…where they get diagnosed.

I’m in two minds about this idea. Is it a good idea to have someone on hand to assist with mental health issues? Yes. If someone is in a prison cell and they’re feeling suicidal or in distress, it helps having a trained professional there.

Some people who are arrested are vulnerable adults, some of them are children or teenagers, and their mental health should be as high a priority as their physical health. Placing mental health nurses in police stations and courts would enable them to better care for those who are at risk of suicide and those who have mental health issues who need other forms of immediate support.

Having a mental health nurse in a police station or court merely to diagnose someone seems a little pointless if they’re going to be diagnosed anyway as soon as they reach a prison. But having one there to ensure that those with complex mental health conditions are cared for effectively and those at risk of suicide are properly cared for…then that would be a better idea, as far as I’m concerned.

But I am puzzled.

Who decided that mental health nurses in police stations and courts was the best idea, above all other options?

Police stations and courts are not the only place where vulnerable people are at risk, where people are suffering from undiagnosed mental health conditions.

I’ve heard stories aplenty of people going into A&E departments because they’re suicidal. You’d expect them to get a high level of support, but no, some are treated horrifically. It’s as though, if you can’t see the injury, what the hell are you doing in A&E? What is an emergency if not a person whose life hangs in the balance? That doesn’t have to just be because someone has been in a car accident, it can also be because they’re on the verge of ending their life and they want to be saved. Where are the mental health nurses in the HOSPITAL where emergencies are dealt with? It’s surely the most basic option, to have a mental health nurse in an A&E department to deal with those who are at risk and in need of help.

Then there are schools. How many children and young people must suffer from undiagnosed mental illness? There are plenty of children who are suffering every single day from the affects of bullying. Then there are children and young people who have difficult home lives, something which makes them struggle with day to day life. There will be some who have diagnosed mental health conditions and merely need additional support. Where are the mental health nurses for schools, colleges and universities? How many young people end their lives because things are just too difficult?

It’s great that somebody has had the common sense to finally employ mental health nurses to be in places where vulnerable people may need help. It would be even better if they could think further than prisons and/or use this pilot to not just appeal to those who are faced with criminal offenses.

(News article – BBC News)

New Year, New You vs New Day. New You

The whole world can change in a second. That’s what we seem to believe as one year ends and another year begins. We put pressure on the fact that a year’s number is different, as though it makes things better, alters them somehow.

I think we’re all old enough to understand that New Year isn’t a quick fix, it doesn’t make everything better and nothing really changes.

People still struggle financially. Family members still die. We continue to live with the same old habits of last year.

It’s a sad fact that I wish wasn’t true, but it is.

I had a difficult 2013, which made me glad when the clock struck twelve and time finally moved into a new year. I was hopeful, I was expectant and I believed that I could be luckier, all because the year is now 2014.

I haven’t done much since New Year, partly because I wanted some time to relax after the Christmas period. I wanted to spend some time alone, to process my thoughts and enjoy my own company.

I forgot to try to live 2014 as though it’s something different and, aside from reading a book very quickly, I’ve slipped very quickly back into doing very little to pull my life together.

On New Year’s Day I watched a man running down the street in the pouring rain and I wondered why anyone would be so crazy as to do so. I suppose it was somebody deciding to start a resolution, regardless of what the weather is like.

I promised that 2014 would be the year I began editing my novel. It’s day 4 and I’ve not even opened the document. It’s not a good start, I will admit.

That doesn’t mean that I can’t make an effort in the future. Maybe I just needed some time to relax before putting things into action, or maybe I’m just a bit lazy and love to procrastinate.

My point being, New Year is but a day when we decide to make changes. Whether we do, or not, is entirely up to something other than a new year, or a new day. We can decide to start our lives again at any point throughout the year, we can start diets, we can begin an exercise regime, we can climb a mountain. January 1st is not always the day to do that.

So that’s why I’ve not really made any resolutions this year. Are there things I’m hopeful for? Of course there are. Do I think they’re going to happen? Some might. Do I care if I achieve everything I want to? Not really. Life will keep rolling and I will keep trying to make changes here and there.