Thursday, February 19, 2015

Learning and Stuff.

My FutureLearn 'Our Hungry Planet' course is very interesting, I've fallen a bit behind even though I have now quit WoW, but due to trying to sort the house out, and it takes aggggggges (grrr) at least there are no dreaded essays or TMAs so it is not a big deal if I fall a bit behind I can catch up.

For the last couple of days I have been reading and learning about the history of food (for a history buff and a foodie this is like heaven). I've found it really fascinating learning about early agriculture and how hunter-gatherers became farmers and landowners during the 'Neolithic Revolution' around 10,000 years ago. It makes me wonder how they became land owners though, how did the hierarchy start? Who or what decided who was a landowner and who was a worker? How did they even get workers in the first place? So many questions. The course has lead me through the ages, from the earliest forms of agriculture and how culture and technology has changed up to the 21st century. From the buffalo pulling the plough in 100 BC in China to the explorers in the 1800's bringing home food from other parts of the world. The industrial revolution saw regional markets open up to the world through road rail and sea. Now we have tractors working the land we use fertilizers and pesticides and animals are artificially inseminated so supermarkets can make more money but at what cost?

This article makes a really interesting and persuasive argument that I am inclined to agree with The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race the title is rather emotive but it's a fascinating read touching on many of the questions I have asked above.

My opinion on the global food system is full of pros and cons. It's wonderful we can have anything we want from anywhere in the world whenever we want it. However, it takes its toll on the land, and the people growing the food. Poorer people are forced to eat less nutritious food and lack of food education does little to help. Pesticides are killing off the honey bee, travel miles mean that transporting the food 1000s of miles is not good for the planet. Food is processed and added too to make it go further and animals are farmed in horrific ways to make more money for the supermarkets. To alleviate the negative effects I think governments and local farmers should work together to encourage people to eat food grown locally and in season to reduce the carbon footprint of our food. I think more research should be put into finding more natural pesticides that won't kill off 'pests' and bees, merely deter them away from crops. I also think people should be encouraged to grow their own food and herbs in gardens and homes.

In other news I'm really looking forward to the weekend and the Birmingham Wildlife Festival and Badger March there will be lots of vegan food and stalls. There will also be loads of people uniting for a wonderful cause which can only be a good thing.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Starting the New Course

I'm really impressed with FutureLearn, it's actually a lot better than I thought it would be. There are a lot of discussions and debates on the course forum and so many different interesting ideas, as people from all over the world are both tutoring and learning on this course you get a really diverse range of ideas. The very first thing on the course is a really hard 'no real answer' question which has been left up for debate.

'Whose responsibility is it to ensure that everyone in the world has access to enough nutritious food?'

The majority of people seem to be saying either the government or us. I don't think it's that simple, there are so many layers to this. Morally I think we all have a responsibility to make sure people are fed, it is a basic human right. Practically there isn't much an individual can do. In a ideal world cities and communities would look after each other and make sure their neighbours are fed, with city councils making sure there is enough for all with each town/city being self sustaining, but the world is anything but ideal.

There is enough food grown and produced in the world to feed everyone, yet there are still people who go hungry, why? Where has it all gone wrong?  I sure do not have the answer, and I'm not well up on the subject to even give a definitive answer, but I'm pretty certain greed and capitalism has something to do with it. I get that farmers do have to make a living, they sell to the supermarkets, the supermarkets sell as high as they can to us, we are slaves to the best before dates and perfect produce - what happens to the wonky veg? Most of the time they are discarded although perfectly fine. But there is no way the supermarkets will give this food away, and if they did, who could or would decide who gets the 'free food'? And then how would we get the food to the people who need it, remember we are talking globally here.

I don't think any one organization could or should be in control of feeding the world, if it was that perfect ideal world it would work, but the world is corrupt, politics would come in to play, and where would the line be drawn, or how would hunger be measured? Who decides what counts as nutritious?
I do not know the answer, but I think there are things we can do to help, food banks are a start but they're not enough, volunteer groups like Food Not Bombs are an amazing source of food for the homeless and the poor, but they do not have the means to provide food daily. I believe that we should start with education, teaching children (and in many cases adults too) where their food comes from, how and where it is grown and how to grow it for themselves along with how precious it is would be a good place to start for a long term plan.

I could write my uninformed opinion for hours and hours on this subject, so for the time being I will leave it here. I am interested to see if or how my opinion will change as the course progresses.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Oh, It Has Been Too Long.

I had almost given up on writing here, my initial creative spark had fizzled out and I have not been on any adventures in these cold winter months so felt there was nothing really worth writing or sharing. But now this is all about to change as I have signed up and am starting two FutureLearn Online Courses. They have some really interesting courses from universities all over the world, and they're free, bonus! I think everyone should go and have a look.

The first course I signed up for Our Hungry Planet: Agriculture, People and Food Security (from the University of Reading) lasts six weeks and looks at how the food we grow, eat, buy and throw away relates to the global issue of food security.

The second, from the Open University which starts next week, called: Introduction to Ecosystems. This one is basically what it says on the tin, a look at the natural world and how the 'web of life' works, it is also a six week course.

I'm really looking forward to starting these courses and seeing how my opinion changes as I learn

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Doctor Who and Peter Capaldi

I don't really want to do a review or anything like that, had enough of critiquing with the OU. And I'm not a weird fan girl, in fact those fandoms usually annoy me. Women bitching about companions and how pretty the Doctor is, OK, OK I admit Matt Smith and David Tennant are pretty, but that's not what Dr Who is about.

I loved Doctor Who when Doctor Who was really not cool. At home, my fridge and my bedroom would be filled with pictures of Daleks and Tardis(es) hmm, what is the plural of Tardis? From pictures I had tried to draw to newspaper cuttings. I had toy daleks rather than the latest doll. I had a big fat pen with Doctor Who written on it that my Dad bought me, it had a chain thing and that was my sonic screwdriver for years and years. I actually got it when my Dad took me to see Jon Pertwee in Doctor Who the Musical back in the late 80s, I cried all night because we didn't meet him afterwards. I wanted to be Sarah Jane Smith and Ace (I even named my hamster Ace), I was even in the fan club! This was in the mid 80's and my seven year old self was a Doctor Who geek. It helped me later in primary school too, I remember amazing my year 6 teacher who told me I was too thick to do anything in my life by telling him that "the circumference of a circle by its diameter equals the Greek letter pi", I knew this because it's a line Tegan used to the Master in the Five Doctors.

I've watched every single episode of the 'new' Doctor Who, I loved Peter Eccleston and the energy he brought to the role and the amazing new stories being written for the show. I loved David Tennant, I didn't even mind the Rose thing too much, even though I knew it shouldn't be happening. Thanks to Deb I've even seen David Tennant live in Straford in my favourite play (Richard II), I think he is one of the best actors on the planet at the moment. I just found it sad that his Doctor started to turn into some kind of Messiah. And Matt Smith, maybe I did turn into a bit of a fan girl (tiny, tiny bit) with him, I first saw him a few years before in 'Ruby in the Smoke', I had to warch the credits to find out who that yummy bloke was. I've seen most of his t.v stuff since then. OK he was not the best Doctor, I don't blame him, he had rubbish stories and was a little  too slapstick at times, but I loved River Song.

And now we're onto the Twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi (I first saw him in Dangerous Liaisons in the late 90s when I was going through a Glenn Close is an amazing actress phase, and loving everything Sunset Boulevard). After six episodes I can already say that he, is the best Doctor of all time, despite the naff story lines he has had so far. My favourite Doctor was always Jon Pertwee, and Peter Capaldi reminds me of that Doctor, but he (Peter) is just so much better. I've noticed that there has been a lot of robots in this series of Doctor Who, I wonder if that is because of how wonderful the word 'Robot' sounds when Capaldi says it in his Scottish accent adding around five or so more r's to the word.
I loved Capaldi as Malcolm Tucker. I LOVE 'The Thick of It'. (Was also a nice surprise when Chris Addison who plays Oliver Reeder made an appearance on Doctor Who).

He can sing:

and was the lead singer in a Punk band, back in the day: 

He is great at swearing:

He looks great as a woman (dammit) he looks better than I do:


He is an incredible artist to see here and here for example, he also knows his stuff about art too:

And now, think I've babbled on enough today so, as Malcolm Tucker would say.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Witley Court

I am slacking at doing this blog, I feel very uninspired at the moment so not really done much lately. This week we went to Witley Court in Worcestershire, it's very peaceful and beautiful there. I didn't really take many pictures as I was just enjoying the countryside, I liked the area more than the house. I liked the way the sunlight hit the building though.

There was one little building I did fall in love with there, it looks so Romantic, I love how this photograph shows the fields in the background.

And no trip to Witley would be complete without getting a shot of the fountain.

And lastly I found a fairy tale mushroom.

So yea, I highly recommend Witley Court, it's around 45 minute drive from Birmingham, it's not vegan friendly though, so if you want to visit the tea rooms as a vegan bring your own food and milk as they have nothing. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Some Drawings and Paintings and Books.

Finally got round to taking those pictures of my pictures.

Excuse the 'curling' I've not got frames for them yet and guess it just happens with painting huh? Anyway, this is one I made for Wib's room he loves yellow and I thought the symbols suit him, altohugh I think I got wisdom a little bit wrong, the two boxes should be under the sticky out bit, grr.

Acrylic and Felt Tip

This next one I have made for my Bedroom, May paints are running really low and I'm almost out of all the colours so I tried to use up bits. I may make this one again when I get some more paints as the orange bit and dark green seemed a really good idea at the time but I'm not so sure now. This is my hippy sun.


I had to go to the library today to take some books back, but ended up bringing a load home with me and as the Co-Op is just over the road I had to go in to get some vegan doughnuts.... mmm Custard vegan doughnuts, sweet awesomeness with custard treasure, oooh with coffee and dunking and.....sorry I digress. Where was I? Yes, I got a loads of cool looking books out (and doughnuts) and I will try to do a drawing a day.

The Books I took Out

Hey, no such thing as reading too many vegan cookery books. the rest are all art, they had crafting ones too, but I think seven books is enough for now. I started on the Fantasy Art book right away, I've not even got to the instructional bits yet and felt a bit of creativity come over me, so here is my charcoal wizard. He doesn't look very happy but I'm kinda pleased with him.

Charcoal and pencil

I've never really drawn people before in my life, except piss take pictures on the guild website so this is my first real attempt, and boy how hard are eyes and noses to draw?

I'm going to Merry Hill tomorrow and will hopefully get some more acrylics AND finally get some glass paints, can't wait to try glass painting, I've been saving up coffee and jam jars to practice with.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Bit of a Break.

It has been a over a week since my last post, I've been suffering from 'man-flu' which has now turned into a chest infection, so I've been feeling like death. The five a day challenge is on hold and now Wib has picked up my bug too *sigh*.

I have however been up to stuff. Last week was non league football day and we went to see Halesowen Town play Workington. It was a really good match, Workington were quite a dirty team though and we (Halesowen) lost 1-0. It was a great day out (despite losing my voice through man-flu and feeling urrghh) and I'll defiantly be going again.

I spent the rest of the week sleeping mostly and making nice homemade soups, but Wednesday I went to Edgebaston to see The Bears play Northampton. What an amazing day out. Saw Trott and Hain get a century each, had a look around the museum  and generally relaxed for hours and hours of wonderful cricket in the sunshine. I got some nice pictures of Trott and I'm gutted in a way that he has not made the England team but that has to be good news for the Bears as he is immense.

I have also been doing some painting I'd post them but I have no idea where Wib has put them, so I'll post them later when he gets back from the shop. But I think I've flooded this blog post with pictures already.