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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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.

Since when was the Sound of Music about Nazis?

A couple of days ago I was browsing Twitter when I came across elenasquareeyes decision to blog every day in January. I’d been toying with the idea myself and decided that I would go ahead and do it. I’ve not been very prepared, however. Today I read her blog and decided that I wanted to blog about a similar thing; films you watched when you were a child.

Isn’t it strange that we watch films as children then believe that we understood them completely when we think about them again as adults. But did we?

I’m not so sure.

A few years ago I watched The Sound of Music properly, instead of as a background film whilst I did something else. I was shocked to realise that it was actually about the Nazis. I obviously didn’t pay much attention for a large portion of my teenage years. What a discovery! It probably happens a lot, the realisation that the film about the singing nun isn’t just a bit of fun and actually has a serious theme.

There are plenty of films I watched as a child and either have seen them again as an adult (The Mighty Ducks, Little Rascals, Little Giants), or have forgotten about them completely. One of those films was Baby’s Day Out. It was on television just the other day and I expected it to be such a cheesy, stupid film that I regretted ever liking, but it wasn’t. It had a similar feel to Home Alone, in that, with adult perspective, you realise how ridiculous it is for someone to survive so many serious bangs on the head. It was also a really funny and cute film, one that I’m sad to have forgotten about for all this time.

I watched Problem Child for the first time in quite a few years earlier in 2013, and that went in the opposite direction of Baby’s Day Out. It felt rather ridiculous for the most part and, in a way, it ruined the glory days of believing it was a wonderful thing.

I also watched Toy Story 3, finally, about a year or so ago. It was one of those film releases that makes you wonder why children get so hyped up about it – they weren’t born/were too young when the first two came out, so they didn’t really understand (some might have seen the first and second, but they might not have realised the enormity of the third’s existence). If anything, the third in the series was for the adults who had grown up with the films and it didn’t really disappoint. I imagine for the children watching, the ending was merely something that happened. How many of the younger children would have cried the way adults/I did?

I should probably try rewatching some of the other films I saw as a child and see what I discover.

I suppose that’s the true sign of a really good film – whether it can stand the test of time and continue to appeal to adults as well as their younger selves/children.