Thursday, 26 March 2009

A funny turn up

Bursting to get out

This is the last week of my two Survive the Credit Crunch courses. I am pleased with the results. In the early weeks, the women I lectured were sceptical and often disagreed with my prattles about budgeting and saving money, but as the weeks progressed I witnessed a shift. Despite their doubts many took on board much of what was being discussed. Hardened cynics who insisted they could never save money, would always take taxis and couldn't live without their tumble dryer, were proud to announce that the bus wasn't so bad and if the weather was good, the washing could dry on the line while they walked to where they needed to be.

Many of the women were already pretty shrewd when it came to household budgets. I learned loads from them and am pleased that I have now been given the opportunity to continue working with one group to take Surviving the Credit Crunch a step further by introducing them to growing their own vegetables. Their enthusiasm for this subject is inspiring. I can't wait to start in April.

Forced into daylight

Talking of Gardening

The March weather has been relatively dry and sunny and has been tempting me into the garden. I have been resisting the urge to plant my potatoes. Many years ago a wise old gentleman gardener, sadly now deceased, told me never to plant potatoes before Good Friday. Taking his advice was always a good bet and I have quite a few wins in the Grand National to prove that.

One thing I did do early on was pop a pot on top of my rhubarb. The result was my first ever forced rhubarb. I stewed the first crop with a lump of fresh ginger and served it with Greek yogurt. Yum.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Monty Halls’ Great big illusion-delusion

Sand Beach on the Applecross Peninsula - like Monty Halls, Colin left the MOD submarine base out of the picture.(photo Colin Baird)

It is no secret that one of my favourite places in the world is Applecross in the North West of Scotland. Colin and I had a house there for four years and know the area well. Imagine our delight on finding a programme made there. We watched it with interest last week and again this week. However after the first week my enjoyment was derived not only from the scenery and seeing old pals but also trying to spot how many distortions the BBC can cram into the show.

For anyone who hasn’t seen the show, Monty Hall has moved to a derelict shed on a deserted beach in the wilderness of Applecross, with the desire to live like a crofter. He was able to entice the local population into helping make the shed habitable, this included a guy who was impossible to get hold of when we were there. What the programme fails to point out is that the beach, Sand, is the busiest beach on the Applecross Peninsula and the ‘remote shed’ is only about 200 metres from a MOD submarine base. Like some alien movie the existence of this base has been evaporated and erased from the world of Monty Halls. Those are the most obvious fibs, there are loads of others. I will never believe another thing on the telly again. The programme is worth watch despite Monty Halls believing real life crofters have solar panels to power their iPods and seems to be incapable of catching mackerel with a full kit of high tech fishing gear. Maybe the friendly locals omitted to mention to him that if he drove his landrover four miles down the road to Toscaig Pier and stood with a rod for a couple of hour he would catch loads of mackerel.