Archive for March, 2008

Enjoy your supper

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Some time last evening Little Miss sunshine and myself embarked upon the great debate of GM Foods. Not knowing a great deal about this subject other than the panic headlines I was only able to argue that GM foods should be labelled to give people a choice as to whether they buy or consume them. LMS decided that as every thing had genetically modified since the invention of cross breeding to improve live stock this was not necessary but mere scaremongering by the press. So I have spent some time on the Greenpeace website, a UK government web site, the World Health Organisation website and a couple of other officially sanctioned bodies to try and make some sense of it all.

Admittedly GM foods have had a bad press although I did not understand why. If cross breeding was such a good idea why were so many people afraid of GM? Well from the limited research that I have done it would appear that cross breeding within a species such as that performed to create Shire horses extends much further than cross breeding within a single species. I did not know that tomatoes had been cross bred with fish to give them a redder colour. I also understand that some tomato seeds have been created after genetic modification with other animals to give them a longer shelf life.

This to me defies the cross breeding and selective breeding such as performed by race horse owners. They do not try and cross a horse with a say an ear of corn. The New Scientist Magazine, a respected periodical with a great heritage has reported GM crops bred to withstand massive doses of insecticide to wipe out crop eating bugs has resulted in super bugs able to withstand all but the most severe of insecticides (those that are dangerous to humans). This has meant that the super bugs are now capable of destroying far much more than before the introduction of GM crops.

This has also raised the issue of cloning rather than natural selection. If all crops are cloned to be exact replicas of each other after some one has decided that is as good as they are ever going to be then all foods will be identical no matter where in the world you are. Local tomatoes will taste the same in Brazil as in Spain as will corn and coffee. It raises the spectre of potatoes such as jersey royals or King Edwards being replaced with genetically modified crops that will be grown the world over and we don’t know what animal DNA they have been crossed with.

I now understand the headlines such as Frankenfoods that have screamed at us from the daily tabloids. Pollination of one type of rose with another seems ok to me as this would happen in the wild anyway due to the way seeds are blown about and bees pollinate anything in their path. Crossing them with snake venom and fish DNA to make them last longer and give a deeper due of colour does not seem natural at all.

It is little wonder then that the Monsanto website does not contain as much information about GM as the Lancet or Greenpeace. I may not understand all there is to know about GM foods but I have discovered that Monsanto and Synergen are not donating any money to food agencies around the world but instead offering tons of GM seed crops giving agencies no option but to feed millions with no choice on GM foods. Happily the US government thinks this is OK. At least for now at least I know I want nothing to do with GM food or crop seeds. LMS may have tried to convert me but she has me joining the ranks of Greenpeace and wholeheartedly condemning the introduction and use of cross species GM foods. Enjoy your supper.

A long way off!

Monday, March 24th, 2008

Easter came and sorta went. Not much to report except that as usual Château Ghastanbury was busy and lots of people passed through over the period. The weather was a complete washout and some building work I had scheduled had to be cancelled. It’s pretty dangerous being on a ladder with a 40-50 mile wind gust factor. I guess the guttering and re-painting of the fascias and soffits will have to wait until some time in summer. I started work in the garden this morning and by 10-30am I had to stop for a while until the snow had stopped. A new shed that had been scheduled to arrive tomorrow morning has had to be put back by two days to allow the old flagstones to be re-laid and settle. The garden currently resembles a car boot sale with stuff everywhere as there is no place to put it. I have no idea how a person can collect so much junk in such a short time but we do and I have.

The financial crisis that has hit the UK in the way of a credit squeeze and so many building societies and banks cutting mortgage loans to only 75% of value has hit people around the world. The Printer emailed me to inform me of the state of things down under and the Tiler rang me during Easter weekend with similar tales of woe. The Traveller who is in the Baltic informs me that things are no better in Eastern Europe. In fact the only person who seems to be having a good time of it lately is Ted Magnum who is currently zooming around Brazil on his South American tour.

One piece of good news is that my favourite radio station, Planet Rock, has had a temporary reprieve from its scheduled closure on March 28th. It has been given a months grace in the hope that a buyer can be found before it shuts down for good. Well actually there are two pieces of good news. The other one is my diet which has seen me lose 6lbs over the last two weeks. I hope to keep this up and by summer be back to my svelte like self. With the prospect of worldwide food shortages this is a definite possibility.

Well it has stopped snowing and the sun is trying to peer through the clouds. I had better get back into the garden and make the most of every ray of sunshine available before the weather turns again. The barbecue season seems a long way off!

Until next time………

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Busy, busy, busy. Yes that is how things have been for the last few weeks and I am not sure where to start! In fact I have been so busy that I have not had time to make an entry so my apologies to regular readers who thought I had disappeared. The weather has been strange; it has been neither cold nor warm, not overcast or sunny. In fact it has been nondescript. With this in mind I have booked time off work as holiday time to start work on the outside of the house. Imagine my surprise then when the forecast prior to the coming Easter showed heavy rain and thunder and then snow over the period. I reckon I will be stuck indoors watching the rain beat down for the duration of my holidays only for the sun to come out the day I go back to work.

As most people who take in the world news will know, a recession is about to hit us. Billions of dollars have been lost and both pound and dollar have fallen against other currencies. Many people are in negative equity as house prices fall, interest rates go up and they face owing more money at a higher rate than the assets they own. If jobs start going the same way then a return to the late eighties will be more than a pessimistic outlook, it will be reality. What does this all mean for me? Well as the value of my house has fallen and the cost of foreign currency has gone up a place in the sun and early retirement looks as far away as it is possible to be. Land and properties that only two weeks ago would have cost me 30k sterling will now cost over 34 as the pound buys less and less.

The papers have this week focused on benefit Britain and shown that in over 50 towns in England and Wales over 50% of those of working age are claiming benefits and out of work through one reason or another. As usual the figures have been massaged by the government to show less people out of work but do nothing to hide those not working but still claiming benefit. The bill to the country as a whole? Well more than the total bill for running the NHS. It does make you wonder whether or not it is actually worth going out to work when those on benefits will be protected during any economic downturn and those in work will not be.

Regular readers will know that few previous posts of late have not finished without an update on Genghis. He has had his final injections and has been let out on the loose. This morning he wondered out of the house after finishing his breakfast and chased a bird up the Cherry tree at the bottom of my garden. This was at 8-50am and he was still up there howling to get down at 9-15 which is when I have to leave for work at the very latest. I had no choice but to leave him to his own devices and hope he would be back on Terra Firma by tea time. Arriving home this evening I could see him at the back door howling for his tea. He had obviously figured it out for himself how to get down. Pictures will be posted in the gallery over the next week or so.

Until next time………

She proposed and the earth really did move for me

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

Its an odd thing, you wake up in the morning full of ideas and ideals and by the evening when you get chance to write them all down you have forgotten them. With most writers this is called “Writers Block”. However as I am not a writer my own condition which is often very similar is called “Bloggers Rite”. It’s like a rite of passage for bloggers that we all go through at some point or other. In some case bloggers never recover and simply let the blog slide into obscurity with not so much as a further post or explanation.

My birthday which is on Valentines Day came and went. BC took me to a five star hotel in the Lake District and I spent some time driving land rovers up almost impossibly steep inclines and forded some rivers. After this I spent some time doing the same thing on a quad bike which was immense fun. All in all it was a fantastic birthday with marvellous food in very swish surroundings and great company.

February has finally passed away for another 12 months. With this year being a leap year a few young ladies that I know took full advantage of the fact that its ok to ask a man to marry you and popped the question to the men in their lives on February 29th. Some men said yes and the best of luck to those happy couples. This concept came out of the 5th century when St Bridget complained to St Patrick that women should not have to wait so long for men to propose. The first recorded and documented practise is from Scotland in 1288. More facts for those who are interest can be found here. http://marriage.about.com/cs/holidays/a/leapyear.htm
Whether this custom will continue or go the same way of dowries and breach of promise remains to be seen but it has lasted for at least 1500 years and shows no sign of abating.

Onto earth moving facts and there was a minor earthquake in Lincolnshire on 27th Feb. There was no real damage as such other than to the pockets of the insurance companies. There were no droughts, famine or pestilence caused by it and by no means anything like the humanitarian catastrophes that we see around the globe on an all too frequent basis. However it did wake me up and to be honest I thought I had burglars in the house. I tiptoed downstairs, heart in mouth to see who the intruders might be. On discovering no one except a cowering cat I came back to bed convinced that Genghis had yet again knocked over some large object. Indeed it was only when the news came on in the morning I discovered what the disturbance had been.

Now if only this had taken place on February 29th then so many young men would have been able to say “She proposed and the earth really did move for me