Kent: Passengers on South Eastern Railway take their dogs to work today

It is National #Takeyourdogtowork day which is great for mental health in the workplace, and gets the dog out too, and, of course, immensely spoiled.

I was pleased to see some railway passengers taking their beagle to work this morning, on my way to London Bridge. The lady took the dog after 10am and avoided the crowded rush hour so he was quite comfortable.

Hope to see more and more people take their dogs to work, perhaps more often than a day, to help animal welfare charities and reduce workplace stress and sickness. It also makes the workplace more fun and ‘human’.

To take part next year, keep a note of this website: https://bringyourdogtoworkday.co.uk/ for details.

London Review: DIY Orange & Lemons, Lavender & Poppy Seed Natural Hand Lotion

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I made this gorgeous hand lotion this afternoon and I really was pleased with the results.

To make this lotion, I was inspired by the traditional English children’s nursery rhyme and singing game, “Oranges and Lemons” which refers to the bells of several churches, all within or close to the City of London:-

“Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement’s

You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin’s

When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey.

When I grow rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch.

When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.

I do not know,
Says the great bell of Bow.

Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!
Chip chop chip chop the last man is dead”

INGREDIENTS (I eyeballed these)

Coconut oil (in solid form (I got mine from Tesco which was under £3) (Avoid being ripped off by specialist health shops)

Shea butter (I always keep some of this in my cupboard)
Grated Lemon Peel
Grated Orange Peel
Lavender Essential Oil
Lemon Essential Oil
Poppy seeds
Lavender Flowers (edible version, I used some lavender tea)
Orange, Tangerine or Mandarin Essential oil
Olive Oil (a nod to the Romans)
Organic Beeswax (from a local farmers’ market)
A silicon soap mould of your choice or you can use the ‘square’ of a milk box

I heated the ingredients up by putting a bowl and saucer as a cover in the microwave for a few minutes (I checked it every so often). Hot oil is dangerous so keep away from small kids.

I then poured the content into a silicon mould, left it to set outside and then put it in the fridge.

Tips: Be more liberal with the beeswax to make the mould harder. Be generous with your grated orange and lemon peel but it needs to be dried so the lotion lasts longer. Try to keep the lotion in the fridge, away from each other.

Suggested uses: As gifts and, even better, as a random act of kindness! Love to hear if you do that….

REVIEW: 9/10 The first time I did this, I forgot the beeswax, which meant a lot of it was used really quickly as it was too soft. This time I used the beeswax and the lotion didn’t fall apart. I also used too much olive oil the first time, so it was a bit oily. This time it was perfect and I didn’t have to use much for it to go a long way. It has a really lovely vintage, summery smell, great for wellbeing too.

Inexpensive ideas for a super budget 50th birthday

I was struggling to think up ideas for a boyfriend’s 50th, I wanted something special and meaningful, and a bit lastminute as I wasn’t well leading up to his 50th.

Here’s what I came up with:

1) A trip to Syon Park. I got a good deal from the South Eastern Railway 2 for 1 offers. A stately home they have never been though is great for ‘first time’ memories.You can get two tickets for £14.50 as long as you have a train ticket valid for the day of travel. To make it more interesting, make it a ‘mystery trip’. A lot of stately homes can be really expensive to visit. It has a bonus for me as I am related to the family that owned it.

2) Photo Frame – preferably one with several photoframes in it. I picked mine up from the poundshop. My theme of the birthday is ‘memories and making positive memories’

3) An office plant (my boyfriend has a fake one as he is rubbish with plants but it looks great and will last practically forever!). You can make it more ‘real’ with a bit of olive oil.

4) DVDS – thought provoking DVDS, and light humour. Being 50, could be depressing, let’s make it awesome

5) A trip to up to The Monument in London to make more memories and photos. At every major birthday, you make it a family custom to do this. The Monument has tons of local London history too. It is also cheap if you have a South Eastern Railway Offer (which is £5 per person).

6) Make a handmade cake. I made banana and date loaf and covered it in home made rum and poppy seed butter icing. If you can find a local cake shop which has fun decorations, that would be brilliant. I chose to make a ‘summery cake’ as his birthday is in May, and make it more football oriented with an Everton theme colours, his favourite team.

7) A book on Nostalgia (I found a look about the history of sweet wrappers) and when you are 50, you can often remember them all!

Below, just finalising my cake in the kitchen:

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PS: If I could spend more I would but I couldn’t. I would say that his relatives are also taking him out for dinner too, that will be nice.

Bayeux Tapestry Anniversary: First Ever British Rectangular 50p Coin

To mark the 950th Anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, the Westminster Collection (http://www.westminstercollection.com) have created a rectangular coin.

The coin is struck from 2.5g of solid 999/1000 Silver. Only 19,500 Silver Coins have ever been made.

Update: 10th October, 2016: There is also another 50p coin to commemorate this: BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/37610910

Peckham Riots: Reminicences

I was staying with a friend at the time in Peckham, about five minutes walk from the train station.

We were ain an internet cafe where they watching the  BBC Live News about the riots. We were on edge as it looked like it was going to spread, and it did.

It all happened quite quickly within about twenty minutes from the broadcast.  Initially we saw about thirty people of all ages running in Peckham High Street and  went outside the cafe to see what was happening. The fear of the faces was something I would always remember. It reminded me of that famous Vietnam War photo. Peckham is such a relaxed, friendly place generally so all this stuff going was all surreal.

People were shouting that some  youths had burned a nearby car and ‘something was happening around Morrisons’, a five minute walk away.  There were no police about whatsover. We were reliant on chinese whispers. It was all getting a bit close, so we warned the guy in the internet cafe what we had heard and he closed the shop. I think he was really pleased that we told us, otherwise they could have smashed his computers. and wrecked his business, they didn’t care.

We didn’t know where to run that was safe. We heard that young people were burning houses  on the news and I didn’t want to be stuck in a burning flat. I wanted to run to East Dulwich and just get away to safety. In the end, after a bit of a  ‘Mars v Venus’ dispute with my friend,  we stayed in the flat. In our living room we could hear  the BBC helicopter buzzing overhead whilst watching the news on the  TV . “God, we are making the news

Some residents of Peckham chose to watch the crowds, hide or take part in the looting. We saw parents  in their thirties who lived on our road carrying stuff that clearly had been stolen looking like the cat that had got the cream.   It was quite disgusting that some locals, and fellow neighbours, and women too,  would have looted their own shops,  places they would shop regularly at. Our friendly, Peckham streets, just went ‘rogue’ – it was just so weird.

I remember feeling very annoyed at the stupidity of some people  that so many of them actually wanted to join in this criminal protest.  There was just no point even speaking to these people, they were totally off their heads, clearly thinking that what they were doing ‘was the right thing to do because everyone else seemed to doing it’. Most people  I expect didn’t even know know what it was about. There were no placards too.Disorganised mayhem. It was back to that ‘Group Think’ mentality again. No self responsibility.

Afterwards there was the infamous Peckham clear up. We  also took part in the Peckham Post It campaign which was good, but an apology from the yobs that took part in the crimes would have been good too.

I remember having this ‘middle class problem’ after the riots when I noticed that the lingerie shop, that I always liked, was set on fire. It also symbolised how pathetic the riots were and  that they didn’t achieve anything at all.

I remember how quiet it was the next day…. as if all the thieves and arsonists were having a good old lie in, thinking they would never be caught…. but fortunately there was a massive police campaign to catch them, and many were caught fairly easily by numerous CCTV coverage and call for witnesses.