Kirstie Allsopp and nesting

Finally a woman has had the balls to say women should not be expected to do everything and this is from a feminist standpoint.

Kirstie Allsopp’s views have divided opinion, like all views on life choices, there is not ‘the best’ choice and KA is by no means suggesting that women should give up entirely on higher education, it is simply a matter of priorities and like it or loathe it, most women would like to have children so why not do it earlier rather than later? Why should we bust a gut getting qualifications, salaries and everything else ticked off before children? Only to then exist on an endless and exhausting merry-go-round of work deadlines, bedtime routines and house-work, by which time we are too tired (and a bit too long in the tooth) to enjoy any of it?

In an ideal world, men would also carry babies and deliver them so partners could play swapsies with career progression and childcare. However we still live in a society where it is less acceptable by men to take a break from work and look after children, therefore women take up this role in the majority of cases. I believe being a mum is the best job in the world, but it also helps to have a bit of money coming in, not lots, just enough to pay the food bills and mortgage and enjoy  the occasional break and holiday. Not many couples can afford to do this on a single income. To get a job that pays 20k plus, most employers require a degree, so then we are back to square one again.

Hopefully degrees will not be such a pre-requisite for high-paying jobs and the value of experience, on the job training and apprenticeship schemes will once again come to the fore. This approach will help people who are young and unsure which career to follow. So many are under pressure to make these decisions at 17, work hard to get a degree in the relevant subject, only to be completely disenchanted when they enter the world of work.

I think my advice to my daughter and son would be to do what they enjoy and work and careers will come and find them . As for relationships and babies, i think these are better left unplanned because none of us ever start life knowing when we will meet the right person or whether we can have children, so to start life expecting to have this ‘ticked off’ by a certain stage in life is doomed to disappoint. If it happens, it happens.

If you make plans in life, God laughs.

Just like the Mummy and Daddy bluebird who returned home tonight to find their Oak tree gone and their nest full of babies gone with it. My husband thought he had checked the dead Oak before he felled it, but obviously not close enough. As he glanced down he saw a nest and three babies on the ground, one dead the others still alive. Cursing their misfortune and blaming himself, he moved the nest to the nearest safe place. Life happens and rarely in the way you had hoped or expected.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

£10 million to change the world?

So, what would you do with £10 million to conquer some of the world’s biggest challenges. That was the question posed by the BBC tonight when they launched the concept of the Longitude prize, a historic award that had previously achieved revolutions such as putting Greenwich and worldwide timekeeping on the map, thanks to a grant given to a carpenter and watchmaker, who succeeded in making a watch that would keep time at sea.

The Longitude is essentially about humanity and sustaining humanity for the future. The biggest issue facing us and our outlook for the future is climate change so this featured highly in the options. I was tempted to vote for the search to find a carbon neutral power for flight, as planes do the most harm to our environment. However, the winner of The Longitude prize would only have to enable a flight capable of a distance from London to Edinburgh, which I don’t think is enough to make a significant change. I am also unconvinced that aviation companies would be falling over themselves to adopt this new energy as there would surely be significant cost implications and we all know how squeezed profit margins are on airlines already. For this work it would take some Government intervention to put pressure on airlines to adopt the cleaner fuel.

I voted for a sustainable and nourishing food source that could be easily farmed, highly nutritious and wouldn’t cause pollution and waste to create it. The current alternatives are insects – which actually looked quite good and ticked all the boxes in terms of nutrition. For 1kg of beef, 22kg of cow feed needs to be produced – for 1kg in insect meat, only 2.2kg feed is required to give to the insects. I can also see insect farming providing a source of income for farmers in the developing world too. This idea had been developed in the Netherlands and they said the challenge to adoption in the West is changing people’s mind set. I think Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall should step forward and come up with some cunning insect recipes – it would all get us grazing on grasshoppers in no time. The other option is GM food, which has received so much bad press it is hard to understand whether it is good for us or not, apparently it is and is far more nutritious. Whoever wins the prize if food becomes the goal will ave the power o improve people’s diets world-wide, help to eliminate the harmful consequences of malnutrition, such as rickets and scurvey and help those countries who suffer from famine because they are unable to source nutritious food. It may also provide a new source of income and transform farming and agriculture plus reduce pollution as it has to be a sustainable food solution.

If you live in the UK and want to cast your vote, visit the website on the Longitude Prize.

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading.

Changing education (part four)

I wholeheartedly agree with the questions we pose. Pupils and students are the best judges of a good education, yet they are often the last to be consulted. They say education is like Piccadilly Circus – if you stand there for long enough it will come back round again – this is what is happening with the current Government’s approach and it is deeply concerning and thoroughly depressing.

This blog is for UNICEF – please support the campaign here.

Today a Sudanese woman who faced 100 lashes and execution for renouncing Islam and marrying a Christian was sentenced to death. She is also 8 months pregnant – angry? Then sign the petition by Amnesty for her immediate release – here.

Surviving with grace

4: It all adds up

So far I’ve looked at the systemic failure of our current system, explored some of the external and internal pressures demanding radical change, and suggested what that change might begin to look like. In this final part I’ll consider the influence of formal exams and the need for a different approach.

What you measure is what you get

There’s an old truth that what you measure is what you get, which is to say that examination systems can themselves introduce counter-productive bias. If you put a premium on narrow academic performance then you will skew the rest of the system around it.

This is not about dumbing down; quite the reverse. It’s about asking much more rigorously whether how we test is fit for purpose, which in turn means asking more seriously what the purpose is.

Consider this: if I was managing a call centre…

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Green cred

I have often mentioned the climate change in previous posts. My husband maintains that as I get older I get more like a tree hugger, ‘Why don’t you go and marry swampy?’ he says. The most recent issue that prompted this statement was a discussion on cars.

We are petrolheads. Ever since I was in my early teens, I have been an avid watcher of Top Gear (and inadvertently observed the demise of Jeremy Clarkson’s barnet). I used to join the sniggerers every time Clarkson mocked emissions over power. I will die a girl-racer, I enjoy speed too much to give it up but as I have matured and looked beyond the realms of me, myself and I, cars for me have a responsibility to be cleaner and safer.

I believe we have been going at a snail’s pace when it comes to developing cleaner and more efficient engines that can run on renewable fuels. This is because manufacturers have not felt enough pressure from customers to change engine power.

So when my hubby started scanning the market for a new car, all the usual suspects were off my short list because of emissions. Yet it is difficult to find a car that ticks that box and looks ok too.

Its almost as if you have to compromise streetcred for greencred.

The Royals aren’t exactly helping the cause either, with range rovers chuffing around their kingdom snow-ploughing through the paparazzi and the ozone layer.

So when we do get round to replacing the car, I plan to make a green statement and get the car with the lowest emissions possible.  The best is electric but we live out in the sticks and at least an hour away from our nearest ‘plug’. So why haven’t they made them more available?

Think we should go back to the original horsepower. At least I can do something useful in the garden with the waste products.

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. Check out the campaign here.

Thanks for reading.

miss misogyny

After almost passing out in ballet boot camp and then sewing numbers onto my daughter’s ‘cape’ into the small hours so that she could dress up for ‘maths day’ today ay school, I was all out of puff to write a blog post. So £1 in the pot to UNICEF for the missed post.

I confess I also got side-tracked by Kristy Wark’s BBC programme about sexism and how it may have worsened since the 70’s thanks to the internet. What I found most concerning was the attitudes of the young people she interviewed towards issues such as rape. One girl said that she overhears sexist remarks down the school corridors on a daily basis and some of those trivialise rape. Because of the internet, many young people find out about sex through pornography. They said this had skewed their interpretation of what is acceptable in sexual intercourse, believing that men should dominate and that girls can’t say no if they are uncomfortable with it.

Like Kristy I am concerned at this apparent breakdown in the social filter towards sexism. I do not want my son or daughter to think women are to be dominated, that rape is in anyway amusing and that women should be judged on their appearance alone. Professor Mary Beard received awful online and media abuse for daring not to look like a supermodel and have opinions. Every public figure expects to experience derogatory comments sometimes but when men receive insults it doesn’t lower to their sexual organs and how they could be dominated through a violent sexual act.

For example, I don’t particularly like or agree with the views of Boris Johnson and George Osborne. IF I had only matured as far as the playground gates, I could start to poke fun at their appearance, but would it be acceptable and common practice when commenting on their appearance to also judge how big their penises are and whether their bottom holes could accommodate a particularly large member? It would certainly look out place. Therein lies the problem, it is socially acceptable to be misogynistic towards women but not so towards men. If I was a female journalist it would seem weird if I talked about whether or not I would like to have sex with Jeremy Clarkson. It was apparently OK for Jeremy to comment in a national newspaper as to whether he ‘would’ with Professor Mary Beard. Its not OK for him to say a certain word in the catch a tigger tune.

I bought Grand  Theft Auto 5 for my hubby’s birthday last year. In the game he can do what he likes with prostitutes and then kill them.

Somewhere along the line we have gone wrong with attitudes towards sex and equality and something needs to be done so that the next generation stand a chance of an improvement not further abuse of how men regard women in the workplace and in society as a whole.

I am blogging for UNICEF, check out the campaign here. Thanks for reading.




For many tonight’s BBC programme ‘Vertigo Road trip’ is as interesting as watching paint dry. Big deal, they crossed a bridge, ascended a mountain in a cable car, served ice tea from a high balcony, jumped from a diving board.

I found the programme boring but every time they showed a clip of the drop from the bridge, the cable car, the balcony and the diving board, I couldn’t look.

I hate heights. As soon as I climb above sea level in whatever form: car, cable car, bridge etc I tense up and get angry, irritable and not very pleasant to be with. On honeymoon we went on a cable car up above the rainforest canopy. I was snappy with my hubby and when I got to the top I couldn’t get anywhere near the viewing platform, even when my husband tried to drag me to it I wouldn’t do it.

On the whole, I like getting out of my comfort zone but when it comes to heights……. nah don’t think so.

What I struggle with is that heights pull me. When I see a drop I just want to jump to  get over the issue of me being high up above the ground. I was once told I would make a good skydiver.

I think skydiving would be the ultimate challenge between me and the coffin. I wonder if I will ever do it?

In the meantime I will remain in awe of these guys and their bravery to climb tall buildings –

I am blogging every day to raise money for UNICEF – find out more here.

Thanks for reading.