A Tale of Three Overtakes

Originally posted on Helen Blackman:

I’m very fortunate with my current commute. It’s short, it’s on fairly quiet country roads and there’s so little congestion that there are no traffic lights. However, as any reasonably experienced person who travels by bike will know, there will always be flashpoints. The main two to watch for are risky overtaking and junctions (and that lovely overlapping set, risky overtaking at junctions).

Overtaking seems to spark vociferous debate as there is a clash between cyclists’ need to remain safe versus drivers’ need to get somewhere in a hurry. You would hope that, for the sake of basic humanity, safety would win but generally it doesn’t. As justification for their impatience, many non-cycling drivers just resort to a “why are you on the road” attitude as justification for their own, at best reckless, behaviour. But the other morning I encountered, in quick succession, three different types of overtaking behaviour that…

View original 1,564 more words

Dinner with No Voters or “What I wanted to say before the Pudding hit the fan”

Originally posted on :

10325374_842844915744161_1747748988925750116_nThis from Peter Arnott works as a part response to this conflict-averse piece by Madeleine Bunting (check the weird ethnic civic framing).

One thing that almost all of my friends who tell me they intend to vote No in September have in common is that they wish that this referendum campaign had never happened. They don’t see the need for it. They think it is needlessly sowing doubt, division and uncertainty at a time when nobody really wanted the debate to happen. They wish the whole damn thing would go away and be forgotten.

I have a certain amount of sympathy with that. I am sure Alex Salmond does too. After all, he didn’t expect the Labour Party in Great Britain and in Scotland to collapse quite so comprehensively as they did in 2010 and 2011, and thus make possible the election of a majority SNP administration at Holyrood that…

View original 1,746 more words

The Smell of Bullshit, part 56: further alternatives to Lush

See previous posts here, here and here for other alternatives I have tried.

Mainly I’m still looking for an alternative hand cream, as my hands are the part of me most prone to eczema. In The Smell of Bullshit part 54 I had started to try Arbonne. I didn’t get on too well with them. The nappy cream was way too heavy and made my hands sweaty and then itchy, but for other people with very dry but not too sensitive hands, I can see it would work well. It smelled nice too, if I remember correctly. The shea butter hand and body lotion was lovely – rich but not too thick or greasy texture, and a lovely rich scent. I would have liked this more if the scent wasn’t so powerful. It’s not a body lotion that you can use with another perfume; the scents would compete, but you could use it as a scented body lotion á la Future Primitive if you wanted. The smell was too rich for me for a hand cream, but it did work well. I didn’t find the FC5 ultra-hydrating hand cream to be hydrating at all for me – my hands were still as dry as paper after use. So, not great results for me for Arbonne but those of you whose skin is less particular, or is equally particular but in a different way might get on very well with it. If you’re in the Lothians area and you’d like to try Arbonne, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with my pal who sells it. I am getting on very well with their chocolate-flavoured protein shake though and bought a big bag of it the other week.

The other stuff I’ve tried recently and had poor results with is Niki’s Balms. I bought the smallest sizes of the Original Balm and the Lavender and Camomile Balms. I don’t like them. The Original Balm has a lovely light fresh scent; the Lavender and Camomile doesn’t smell of anything much. Both balms somehow manage to leave my hands oily but still completely unmoisturised and dry, and the Original makes them really itchy too. They’ll do for moisturising my shins when I get out of the shower or out of the pool, but that’s about it.

This month’s success has been Our Tiny Bees. By the way, have you read The Bees by Laline Paull? I love it. Buy it now! Our Tiny Bees make their products from beeswax, so not suitable for vegans. I have tried the Lavender hand balm, which smells lovely and lavendery, and the Uber Balm for sensitive skin which smells very neutral. Neither of these products are as actively healing for my eczematous hands as Dream Cream, but they’re the next best thing I’ve found. Both of them work well, soothing and moisturising without causing further irritation, although when my hands are going through a period of heat making them worse, the Uber Balm is a bit heavy and stifling for them. But yes, I really like these and at present they’re the front-runners to be my permanent Dream Cream replacement. The lip balm is nice too.


The end of Andy Murray’s Wimbledon is not the end of his world

When England won the men’s football world cup in 1966, they can’t possibly have imagined that the press would still be going on about it nearly 60 years later as if they had an unalienable right to win it every four years forever more, and that subsequent failures to do so would be treated as some great galactic injustice rather than with acceptance of the fact they just weren’t good enough.

So when Andy Murray became the first British man to win the Wimbledon singles title last year, it was obvious that the press would struggle with the thought that he might not win again last year – he’s won it once therefore he should automatically win it again until he decides he’s had enough. He played very well in the first week and didn’t lose a set. Then yesterday he played badly and lost badly, and Wimbledon 2014 is over for him.

The press seem to be taking it as a personal affront. How could this happen? WHY DID YOU LOSE ANDY TELL US WHY DID YOU LOSE HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO US WHY DID YOU LOSE? There must be, according to the assorted British press (and by British, I mean based in England), some sinister reason for his poor form and defeat. Accepting that he had a bad day, played badly and was beaten by the better player seems to be beyond them.

And now the doom merchants are trying to suggest that his career is over – he’s lost a tournament and it’s the beginning of the end. Because of course when someone raises our expectations and sense of entitlement by winning something, if they later go on to lose, it must be because they’ve somehow become intrinsically rubbish.It’s not just they played badly, or someone else played better.

Dear England-based British sports media – Andy Murray is a great tennis player. He played really well last week, played badly yesterday, and will probably play really well again in the future and sometimes he might play badly. It’s not the end of the world, or his career. OK?

(and don’t even get me started on the “it’s because his coach is a woman” brigade. Seriously, just don’t).

Grebbies and Eech

The Commie Pool is now closed until mid-August because of the Commonwealth Games, so today I went to Warrender. Warrender is a Victorian, 25 yard pool, with the tiles shaped to make sloping surfaces where the walls meet the floor. I know I’m very lucky to have an Olympic-standard pool less than a ten minute walk from my flat, but after swimming at the Commie, Warrender is like swimming in a big dirty bath.  Maybe the Commie is that dirty too and I just can’t see because the bottom is so much further away.

The floor of Warrender pool is on a gradient to make a steady transition from the 6ft deep end to the shallow end, unlike the Commie which is set at either 2 metres or 1.25 metres deep. This is going to sound bonkers, but I found swimming towards the shallow end much easier and swimming towards the deep end much harder – like swimming downhill and uphill!

Also, there was a woman doing head-out-of-the-water, very slow old lady breaststroke – with her eyes tightly screwed shut! I think she might do better if she treats herself to goggles.

Stroke development class is finished until the end of August. I’ll miss it. It’s defnitely helping me improve my technique and fitness and become a better swimmer. The other week we tried butterfly again, and I found I can do a 25m length of almost competent butterfly kick, as long as I’m wearing pool fins and have a float under each arm. :-D For our final lesson of the term, we spent some time doing porpoising. I hadn’t done it before – it’s when you sort of duck dive to the bottom of the pool and put your hands down on the bottom and then bring your head and your top half down and through and then push off from your feet up and into another dive. It’s ace fun, and I was so good that teacher asked me to demonstrate to the rest of the class. :-D #teachers’pet #waterupthenose I think teacher missed the bit where I got so carried away I forgot to breathe, turned purple and thought I was going to die. It’s such good fun I want to do it again, but you can’t really do it in a lane for public swimming!

The 40-minute round trip to Warrender is going to be a pain compared to the 15-minute round trip to the Commie, and I’m slightly concerned that 2 months of a 25 yard pool will decondition me for a 50 metre pool. As much as I’m looking forward to the Commonwealth Games, I’ll be glad when the Commie opens again.


Well done Andy Murray, and congratulations Amelie Mauresmo

I know very little about tennis, and nothing at all about Amelie Mauresmo, but in a year where the misogyny inherent in sport has been so apparent, I’m delighted that a top sportsman would appoint a female coach, recognising that she could be* the best person for the job and shouldn’t be discounted because she’s a woman.





*I say could be rather than definitely is, because we won’t know how successful Murray’s new coach will be until we see his results.

The deaths at Tuam: a voiceless testimony

Originally posted on Edinburgh Eye:

Tuam Babies unmarked graveThere is an unmarked mass grave in Galway which has become briefly famous by the work of historian Catherine Corless, who spent years tracing the death records of each child whose remains may have been buried there. (You can hear her being interviewed about her work on the mass grave here.)

Timothy Stanley, a Telegraph blogger who converted to Catholicism from the Anglican church, argues that the mass grave is “a human tragedy, not a Catholic one”. At more length, Caroline Farrow, a spokesperson for Catholic Voice, explains that first of all, this wasn’t really so bad, and anyway, everyone except the Catholic Church is probably lying. (I note for the record: the sheer quantity of misinformation and distortion provided by both Stanley and Farrow is quite astonishing.)

View original 2,265 more words