19 October 2010

out and about...a very early start, for me at least

Here is a bad photograph of the Tyne and some its bridges at 7.30 this morning from the train going to Middlesbrough from Newcastle for a training course. It's proof that I can get up on a morning...although perhaps the quality of the photo snapped with my fancy phone shows I can barely function. Or perhaps it's the moving train what done it. And *hushed whisper* there are even people with bikes! Imagine doing that kind of exercise at this crazy time in the morning.

18 October 2010

a spot of culture and something a bit more serious...cafe culture - philosophy and feminism

I went to another cafe culture event this evening for a spot of light hearted entertainment!

So, the blurb said: Kay Black [a lecturer in politics and feminism at Newcastle university] will consider the contribution feminism has made to recent developments in moral philosophy. 

What it all boiled down to is that traditional philosophy ie male-dominated philosophy says that women have a poorly developed sense of morals and ethics because we get stuck at a state of being overly concerned about what others think of us, always eager to please and always wanting to avoid conflict.  This is an emotional response, not a rational response, which is male and considered to be superior.  Feminist ethics says that it is a nonsense to compare the two and that one is no more advanced or better than the other because we all, men and women, have both rational and emotional states of thinking, and that we must employ both for effective decision making.  And, if we try to separate the two we make poor decisions or are unable to make decisions at all because we need passion or emotions to stimulate and motivate ourselves to make decisions.  The speaker illustrated this by saying it has been tested by working with people who, after an accident or something else, have damaged the part of the brain that controls emotion and they find it very difficult to make a decision, even only using rational approaches.  It is also evidenced by those people who have been abused as children or as adults and have suppressed their emotions to such an extent that it too affects their ability to make decisions and to function.  I can't comment on this because I don't know enough about it.

So, ultimately, the feminist approach to philosophy is about using the whole self, holisticism if you will.

The questions and discussions part of the evening after the talk was very interesting too touching on a huge range of issues...
* the early sexualisation of girls
* the impact the media has on young women, their body image and self esteem
* whether feminism is a dirty word and if it could or should be re-branded - we didn't think so though I think that there was a feeling that holisticism would be closest
* the confusion we all have about what feminism actually means and the many branches of the political movement - radical, lipstick, liberal, post-modern, marxist, etc - and how radical feminism in the 80s, while responsible for many advances for women, also gave feminism a 'bad name' as it was lead by many loud, vocal women, some of them definitely card-carrying men haters
* the use of words
* the steady, continuing drip, drip of misogyny and how women are complicit in this


One of the key points we came to was how we as women shouldn't try to fit in with how men have set up society and the structures we live and work within, instead we should push for a system where it works for us both, not just one group...again a holistic approach, where no one loses.

A true challenge, I think, but one I'm certainly up for.  What about you?

16 October 2010

getting crafty...pom pom crazy, pom pom mad

Little balls of wool waiting oh so patiently to become a pom pom garland for a christmas gift...I'm taking my cue from other crafters and getting my skates on, looking sharp, and other assorted metaphors, for homemade gifts this year. I'll have a pom pom photo shoot as soon as I can!

13 October 2010

eating out...another relaxing evening in pani's cafe

I'm slightly worried that my brand new shiny blog appears to be only about food when it's supposed to be about all kinds of stuff...hmmm...

Anyway, Tuesday I went to a Newcastle restaurant called Pani's, which is tucked away down a cobbled side street.  It's a wonderful Italian eatery, very relaxed with fabulous food.  I had ravioli con scamorza, which is ravioli filled with aubergines and scamorza cheese in a butter and olive oil sauce topped with percorino cheese.  Even though the cheese sounds like a James Bond villain, it was lovely, all fresh and bright tasting, yum.

My friends had ravioli filled with lobster with a tomato, cream and prawn sauce and pork fillet with a mushroom and olive sauce.

The affogato al caffe - ice cream with an espresso poured over the top - was as fabulous as usual.  And something I've never succeeded at recreating at home...must try harder!

Panis also has a special place in my heart as it's where my boyfriend and I went on our first date (I'm smiling now...).

eating in...what i ate when i was poorly

I made myself eat lovely food when I was poorly at the weekend, even though I didn't really fancy it...

...soft boiled eggs and soldiers

...eastern potatoes with spinach and poached egg

...pea and pancetta risotto

...and some cherry bakewells from the evil supermarket up the road that's in walking distance.  I was obviously thrilled that one had two cherries but just look at the state of the others.  I sent a funny email to the evil supermarket in question suggesting they do a bit of quality control at their cherry bakewell factory so I hope to get a voucher for even more cherry bakewells!  Who knows?!

08 October 2010

home sweet home...poorly sick at home

Well this is unexpected, a day off work feeling all rubbish and sorry for myself.  It's lucky I've got my get better soon tray sorted out, which features teapot of tea, my favourite orange mug, milk in grandma's jug and magazines.  We've got Living etc and Elle decoration to marvel at, frankly impossible, interiors, super cool, full of mid 20th century furniture, all the pieces you've ever dreamt of, plus Vogue to transport me to a place of fantasy, especially useful when bundled up in pyjamas.  I think an article on 21 ways to evening chic is especially useful on a day when I haven't even washed my hair.

The weather is awful today so it's maybe a good thing to be stuck inside feeling sorry for myself.  It's what the Scottish would call dreich - grey, a bit foggy, with a touch of drizzle thrown in for good measure.  I wonder where Newcastle's so-called Indian summer is...?

04 October 2010

a spot of culture and something a bit more serious...cafe culture - british prisons: fit for purpose?

I went to a Cafe Culture debate for the first time in ages tonight, which was on the fascinating topic of prisons and crime.  The blurb from the leaflet says 'leading criminologist Dr David Wilson will argue how our punitive penal system fails to tackle the causes of crime and explores the alternatives.'  Tonight we learnt that the most common murder victims are boys aged under two who are murdered by someone they know, whereas only six children per year are murdered by strangers, and that's a figure that hasn't changed for decades.  We also learnt that in England and Wales we spend on average £45,000 keeping someone in prison for one year yet crimes committed by people newly released from prison cost us £13billion per year, a staggering amount.  Just imagine if we could save half of that, what positive difference that could make.

Dr Wilson told us about a forward-thinking idea taking root in America called justice reinvestment, which removes money from the criminal justice system and spends it in communities that face the most crime on what local people need to tackle the reasons why crimes are committed there.  And it makes a difference to those who suffer the affects of crime and those who commit crimes, and it saves money.  The money is used for education projects, hostels, employment skills, developing community infrastructure, anything that works with those people who typically commit crimes and go to prison.

He also casually dropped in how there is a direct correlation between children who are excluded from school and committing crimes and being sent to prison.  And that a culture where everyone is valued the state and by others is one where there is less crime and fewer people in prison.

Churchill said that we judge a civilisation by how it treats its criminals, and I think this is important for us all to reflect upon.  We need to think about how we can value people more in our daily lives, to ask questions of those in power and to be involved and engaged in our local communities.  This is a challenge, even for me as someone who works in the voluntary sector, but we need to make a start to make our local communities, our cities and our country a better place to live in.

Oops, went a bit lecturey there, sorry!

02 October 2010

eating in...pork and pie and plums

No, not together, that'd be to unusual, even for me!

Instead we have a glorious small pork pie from Newcastle's farmers' market (which is on the first Friday each month by the Monument) served hot with mushy peas and brown sauce (I tend to have HP but my boyfriend prefers Daddy's).  I haven't met anyone else who has this but I remember occasionally having it as a child so maybe it's a Yorkshire delicacy.  I now have it once a month at least during the winter months.

I also poached some plums.  Look at the glorious blushing around the edges of the yellow flesh with a fabulously pink juice at the bottom of the pan.  I think I'll have some with Greek yogurt and flaked almonds...mmm!

01 October 2010

out and about...love letters straight from your heart

I stumbled across this lovely message in Heaton Park walking home after work the other evening, the only day it hasn't rained this week.  What a wonderful thing!

out and about...in a street near me

Even the dreariest, foot-soaking, most depressing day in Newcastle gives you something to smile about...