27 June 2016

Why did my partner vote to leave?

After the 2nd world war, to encourage peace the EU was created. Britain joined in 1973, when I was just 3. So basically I don't have a concept of Britain not being a part of Europe.
In 1995, Austria became a part of the EU. In 1996, I went over to Austria to work and met and fell in love with Gunter Hollenstein. I was able to stay there without a problem, open a bank account easily, be taught German, have a job as a singer and a dancer and sometimes barwork too, all easily because we were united. Gunter came with me back to the UK to live and to work, he easily got a NI number, he easily got German speaking jobs and a bank account. I went on to broadcast the traffic and travel news for ten years and we had Joshua and Elijah on the way. Then Gunter and I decided to open a coffee shop in this country and for a while we had two coffee shops in this country.
Then one day, somebody decided we should have a referendum about something that I thought had already been decided in 1973.
So, I went along and voted. Gunter is Austrian and wasn't meant to be able to vote but he had a polling card and his name was on the list at the polling station. I told him he'd better vote, just in case he is allowed and he did.
We are living history, that is why both sides of the debate feel so passionately, that I can see but what I don't think I'll ever understand is why an imigrant in the UK would vote leave, after enjoying all the freedoms that EU gave him.
Why would a man with two sons in Britain and two sons and a Dad and brothers, sisters and lots of family in Austria vote for the UK to leave the EU?
Being in the EU was a strategic idea to keep the peace, that worked. I still do not understand why my own partner would vote leave. I wish I could.
At the moment I am in bed with flu, I'm calling it the Flexit virus because it bowled me down on Friday when the Leave win was announced.
Illness always makes me think things through and think about life and I've been mulling that one over big time, I can tell you. When I saw the online petition stating the grounds for a second referendum, I thought that it was a very good idea. I posted it onto my Facebook profile to encourage a friendly discussion but generally leavers accused remainers of 'Throwing their toys out of their pram' and 'Childish-like tantrums' and yes my glee was delightfully childlike when it was revealed in the press that the petition was started in May by a Leave campaigner, in case the vote hadn't gone his way!
Like many others, I am left wondering why a person so close to me voted for something that would tear his family apart and give his two youngest sons less opportunities than they ever had before.
Hey, forget the 2nd referendum petition, the poll wasn't run properly and no one is even admitting it.
The truth will out in the end but at the moment each one of us is living with this great divide, this great rift and one day, when people read our history they will wonder why we let it happen and how it came to pass.

22 June 2016

Bin There, Done That But...

What a great job, in front of the iconic Pyramid Stage!

The reason that I find it difficult to imagine enjoying Glastonbury Festival is because I do not enjoy being in any type of queue, the traffic chaos of last night (June 21st) is something that I would not be able to put up with at all, I cannot tolerate changes in temperature very well at all, especially cold, so being wet and muddy and feeling cold doesn't appeal to me whatsoever. For many years I thought I was just a snob, as I felt the only way I could enjoy the festival would be in a special bit away from the crowds and with no queues and looked after properly. Then after photographing Collett Festival, the other week and being able to go backstage and right up in front of the stage, to get my shots, I realised that perhaps I need to be just working at Glastonbury Festival, in order to enjoy it, rather than being a member of the public. I need to be involved from the inside. I find the whole concept rather overwhelming and the space huge and the amount of choice of what to do just incredible, so for me the whole thing is about getting myself accustomed to the sensory overload that I would experience in these conditions. I've suspected for a long time now, that I am on the high functioning end of the autistic spectrum and that is why I have these issues, that 'Neuro Typical' people just don't seem to have. So, when a very special family, customers of our shop, told us that they were organising bin painting at the festival, I was very interested in seeing what it was about. They told me that if I did 10 shifts of bin painting, that I would be able to get free tickets to the festival! I didn't know if I would like the vibe, or painting bins, or even if I would be able to do it, or anything, so I just kept saying 'No'!

From left to right: Andy, Thali and Holly.

However, Holly, Andy, baby Thali and brother Sky, are lovely, lovely people and really encouraged me to do it, even if it was for just one hour. (Well baby Thali didn't encourage me verbally but he has such a lovely way with him and a gorgeous beaming smile too, very hard to resist!) My problem was I was just very, very scared! I was worried about going there, finding them, doing it and just everything. I was frozen by the thought of stepping a bit outside my comfort zone. So frozen that I dressed in old clothes specially for bin painting for three days in a row before I finally managed to convince myself to get into my car and drive down to where I didn't know where I was going.

When I found the Worthy Farm Festival site, the security where wonderfully smiley and welcoming and not intimidating at all and there was a very friendly lady in the office called Emma, who offered me chocolate biscuits as I awaited Holly to pick me up in her 4x4.

I eventually got dropped off in a field and Sky, Holly's brother was my leader. I was introduced to his team of bin painters and then given brushes, paint, a bin and instructions to do something happy and bright! So before lunch, I painted bunting going round my bin and then after lunch, which was a very delicious vegan option from Goose Hall, the onsite restaurant for staff, I painted flowers around the bottom half. I took a sneaky peak at some other finished bins to get an idea of the technique that I could use to paint some pretty flowers. I LOVED being let loose on a bin! It was a happy, relaxing time. I didn't really want to chat, I loved being in my own little world just happily painting, whilst someone blared out some tunes from their phone and a speaker. ( I think I was expected to interact a little more though, as John, another volunteer bin painter told me about the bonding exercise that they had done as a team and how it was really good to break the ice and so on). After I finished my bin, I said goodbye to everyone and planned to come back again the next day.

My first and only bin so far, with bunting and flowers.

The next day, I had to park up in a lay-by and then walk into the site. I found a great little spot to park up and due to my inexperience with Glastonbury Festival and where everything is, I ended up walking, not knowing where I was going for a couple of hours, I was completely lost and found a perimeter fence, there was a sign about a gas main and phoning the site office for permission to dig, so I decided to phone that number to find out where I was and how to get in, then as I dialled the number, Michael Eavis' office number came up, I described to them where I was but they didn't recognise it either, there are a lot of places looking the same, so they advised me in the end to just keep walking around the fence and I would bump into someone to help me eventually. I had actually got straight through to Michael and I was really shocked that it was him who answered the phone and he was just as shocked that it was me who was phoning, different reasons to my shock of awe and admiration, I think! After a quick chat his PA, was the one who gave me the guidance to follow the fence and there was I imagining special treatment, like a rescue helicopter loaded with food and drink for me and a special guided tour by Michael himself but I really should have known better!

Eventually, I came across the right people to help me and I marched all the way to the Bin painting field where I discovered, there was no-one and I realised that it was lunch! Yippee, so after walking all that way, pass The John Peel Stage, pass The Pyramid Stage and taking some pictures too, I arrived just in time for lunch. There was a queue, I didn't have a meal ticket but for some reason the very lovely security took pity on me and put me at the front of the queue and asked a bin painter, with purple paint marks on her face to explain why I would need a meal. Then I bumped into Sky! So synchronicity was starting to kick in at last and it kicked in so perfectly, that as I sat down to enjoy another beautiful vegan meal at Goose Hall, torrential rain banged on the tin roof of the structure we were in and I felt extremely lucky to be fed, watered and dry and not still lost!

In the afternoon, we were told that we wouldn't be painting bins but we would be painting a mural! Which sounds really exciting but I just wanted to go home, as I find working in a team really difficult indeed, unless I have my own role nicely mapped out, starting to panic a bit, I made a joke about there being no 'I' in team, so I'd better F@*"k off then but Andy told me to stay and paint my own little piece of wall on the end. That felt ok to me, so I stayed. It suddenly felt very not ok when other painters came by looking at what I was doing, maybe thinking I must be a really good painter to get my own bit of wall, until I explained to them that I'm rubbish at working in a team, that put the score straight for them and immediately lowered their expectations of what was going to appear on that wall. I was blown away by the murals that they were creating, I couldn't understand how they managed to communicate with each other within about 5 minutes what they were going to map out and how they were going to paint it, they were all extremely talented! The rain was relentless whilst we were painting but we kept going as luckily we were undercover. Then, when I finished my piece, Holly, Thali and her Mum picked me up and very kindly gave me a lift to my car.

Do I want to do this next year? Oh yes please! Would I like to do the ten days for a ticket to Glastonbury Festival? Absolutely! So yes, I've 'Bin There, Done That But...' I haven't done the festival yet and I really would love to because now I see that the festival is a place that pulls many like-minded people together! How could I, a lover of performing arts, not be involved in the festival in any way, when I live in the nearest town? So, yes, I am a convert, I admit it, I am a Glastonbury Wannabe and I want to paint those bins next year!

If you would love to be a volunteer bin painter for 2017, then you need to email Holly! 

15 May 2016

Easy 5 minute Raw, Vegan Soup

Sometimes it is really hard trying to eat healthily and especially when you're hungry, rushing around, trying to do so much and have hardly a moment to think about nutrition. That's why I created this Easy 5 Minute Raw Vegan Soup Recipe.

Influenced by the tastes of my customers and a lady who came in the other week and told me what I could do with my copious amounts of wild garlic!

This is so easy, so good for you and so very enjoyable, so, here goes:

1/ Put the following into a blender.

A handful each of WildGarlic, SpringGreens and Spinach.

A quarter of a Kallo stock cube.

3 generous teaspoons of MellowBrown Rice and Soy Miso.
Chilli to taste.

A drizzle of Clearspring Japanese Toasted Sesame Oil.

Organic Tamari Soy Sauce to taste.

A shake of Turmeric.

And around 600ml of hot but not boiling water.

2/ Whizz blender until required texture. I whizz until there are still little chunks of leaves but you might prefer it throughly blended and smooth.

3/ Pour into a mug or bowl, drink to your health and enjoy.

This recipe creates around 4 portions but of course that depends on the size of bowl or mug that you are using.

10 May 2016

Powerful and Passionate Protest Comments to Support Library Petition!

I started the Leave our Library Alone petition with just my own voice. I do have a habit of saying out loud what everyone is thinking, which usually causes some offence and is generally something I have to try hard to control but when it comes to creating a petition, that's when my weakness is a strength. I write it from the heart and write what I feel is my truth and if people agree with it, they sign the petition, it's as simple as that. A petition isn't just about what I as an individual think, it is a tool to accumulate power for our collective voices to be heard and that's why, I think that if you sign a petition, it's really important to write your own personal comment about what you think about the issue. A petition isn't always a perfect document and society is of course made up of many individuals, each with their own story or angle on the situation. The petition I have created isn't a list of perfect wishes of mine, that need to be magically turned into reality, it's a starting point to attract like-minded individuals, to campaign for what our town needs and to encourage discussion with Somerset County Council. The people on Somerset County Council are real people too, they are not some ogres and I truly believe that when they understand how much our library means to us, in the position it is, that we can come together and create a solution. Nope, I don't know what that solution is but that doesn't mean that I can't campaign against something that is just plain wrong!

So, the petition that I created has three main points:

1/ For our library to be left where it is at the heart of our town.

2/ For opening hours to be longer.

3/ For staff to be supported by automation and not cut because of it.

In just a few days, the campaign has been gathering momentum and there are several powerful comments already on the petition which is just about to reach the 400 signatures landmark!

Please join your voice with ours and get our message heard:

Please sign and comment on the petition, here. 

Please share this article on Facebook and encourage your friends and family to sign too.

Thank you so much for all your support so far.

Here are some of the other voices joining the protest.

It's a vital resource for the community, and should be kept in the centre of the community.

Mary Boston, Cranmore, United Kingdom

I do not think that Mendip will be happy until the whole of Shepton has become a dormitory town with only the shops at the top of the town to serve the town. This is a beautiful town and yet the agenda of Mendip is a brain teaser. LEAVE the library where it is, at least when people go there then they are passing shops who may benefit from a visit from them also, if it is at the top of town in Mendip then what is the point?
Lindy Wilson, Glastonbury, United Kingdom

Libraries AND librarians are a wonderful resource that help reduce crime, improve social mobility and make people happy especially older people and children
Helen Clemence, Shepton Mallet, United Kingdom

Libraries are important for the future of our children and should be kept in the heart of the town

4 May 2016

Leave our Library Alone!

have the opening hours of the library in Shepton Mallet Town centre have already been cut, to even less than than the short hours that were already in place BUT plans are being discussed about:

1/ Moving the library from the centre, to the so called 'Hub', on the edge of our town.

2/ Automating it, so that it is a self-serve facility. 

You know what, one day, they will tell us that it's all available online anyway, so why on earth do we need to pay rent for buildings to house books? Slowly, slowly and then not so slowly they are taking away and eradicating our library.

Please support our campaign and sign the online petition.

Why should our Library stay in the centre of our town?

In my mind the library is the cornerstone of all education. Reading is one of the most important life skills that we will ever learn, it is one of the most honourable pursuits of your time. Once we learn to read, we can learn almost anything because there is probably a book for every subject under the sun. Isn't it incredible that we can even learn another language just through the pages of a book. Reading is at the forefront of our education system, it is the backbone of our learning and the main centre of reading needs to be right in the forefront of our minds and in front of our eyes too. A library is a place to be proud of, standing where it is, right by our majestic looking Market Cross. Right in the centre of our town where it is easily accessible by everybody. 

The Friday Market is coming alive again and more and more people are enjoying this part of our town and altering their lives to either work in the market, or come and visit the market and then taking a look in the library, is an easy and natural progression of those visits.

Having the library in the centre of town reminds us to go and to use it. There is no way that such an important part of community life should be hidden away in the council offices.

I understand that in these economically difficult times we have to make cutbacks and sacrifices and we have to think sensibly about how we use our money. Maybe it is just not viable to pay the costs of a separate lease, when the library can be housed more cost effectively in the council's own buildings. However, maybe it is the council buildings that are in the wrong place and not the library! I understand that a few years ago, the council buildings were in the centre of town. Why did that change? Why make one mistake and then because of that mistake make another one and another one? In the short term moving the library will mean cheaper running costs. In the long term, a Library that is hidden away and automated sends out the message that reading is not important in our society, it is not worth investing in the future of everyone who lives in Shepton Mallet, it is more important to keep costs down. They say that actions speak louder than words, the action of moving the library from the centre of town to the edge of town says loudly and clearly that 'We don't care!' and the written words in books will disappear and not be read or 'heard', those words will be silent.

I taught both of my boys to read and the accessibility and visibility of the library meant that we had support and encouragement and it was very, very easy to incorporate it into our lifestyle. The position of the library is not just about convenience, or about people visiting to be too lazy to walk a little further, it is about the prominence of the library in our every day lives, the profile that it is given, its visibility and the respect that we give it. Moving the library and making it invisible shows us that the service is undervalued and will then be cut completely.

Why should we keep people employed in the Library?

A library with no one to serve us becomes a soulless place. A library isn't just a place to get books, it's sometimes a place to get warm, for someone on the streets, while they read and enjoy talking to someone about something other than their situation. A library for me, is sometimes a respite from the stresses of the outside world and that means the people who work in there too. I am not always in a good state of mind, sometimes I need help to look for a book and I need someone else's knowledge and enthusiasm and recommendation as a guide. Taking the people out of the library is just wrong. Those people are the very essence of the library, their helpfulness and personalities make the library a place that you want to go back to again and again.

Imagine an automated library! That would mean no person to interact with, no one, apart from you, again, to praise your child and encourage them when they choose their first book. No specialised personal knowledge, the knowledge that only comes from life experience and the infectious enthusiasm of another person, the kind of knowledge that can't be gleaned from a computer. There'll be no smile as you walk in, no chat at the desk, no sense of community. No-one for you to speak to, even if it's only about a book, if you've been on your own all day and have no family in the area.

Severing our links with our library is one of the worst ideas that I have heard of since I have moved to this area!


It is perfect where it is, right in the heart of our town. Right where everyone can access it easily. It is appalling that the hours have been shortened, it's appalling that they want to make it self-service and it's appalling that they want to move it from the centre of our town. No, no, no way will I as an individual resident allow this to happen. As individuals we are powerful together.

If you agree with me please like this Facebook Page, please sign our petition.

If you don't agree, come into my shop, buy loads of things and then I might spare a moment to listen to your point of view. 

Moving the library is almost as bad as suggesting Timpson's have a pod at Tesco!

3 May 2016

My Delicious Vegan and Gluten-Free Spicy Black Bean Chocolate Brownies

I am posting this yummy recipe, especially for one of our regular customers, who keeps asking me for it. So here is is for you.

I know most coffee shops and restaurants don't usually release their secret recipes but I am going to put them all into a cook book one day, so this is my little method of getting it all down before you actually have to pay for it! (I didn't want to write that bit but our customer Rob, who can hear what I am writing because I keep reading it out, keeps piping up with suggestions in the background and he said that he hopes you buy the book anyway, as a matter of fact, I agree with him).

I wanted to create a brownie that everyone could enjoy, the catch word I like to think of in our shop is inclusivity, (It's probably not a real word but it could be one day). I want everyone to be able to eat the same thing and not worry about allergies, or health issues, or weight gain and so on. So, I try to make things that all the different groups of minority eaters can enjoy together.

The great thing about these Brownies is if you swap the Divine Bar of chocolate for the Hasslacher's 100% Cacao option, they are perfectly suitable for a clean eating paleo diet, with no refined sugar in.

Here we go then:

1/ Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

2/ Take a 9" x 9" square brownie tin, line with grease proof paper.

Take one 400g can of drained black beans and put into a blender.

2/ Add two dessertspoons of Divine Cocoa powder.

3/ Meanwhile take 1/4 of a cup of Biona Organics mild coconut oil and put it in a warm place to melt. I normally put mine in a bowl of hot water.

4/ Take 1/3 a cup of Chantico Organic Agave Sweetner and pour into the ingredients that are already in the blender.

5/ Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of Taylor and Colledge Vanilla Bean Extract vanilla essence and 1/2 a teaspoon of Doves Farm Gluten Free Baking Powder.

6/ Take half a cup of gluten-free Glebe Farm Oats and add to the ingredients in the blender.

7/ Add a pinch of ginger and a pinch of chilli, or leave out, or put more in according to your taste!

8/ Pour your melted coconut oil into the ingredients in the blend and then blend. I use a smoothie setting on mine.

9/ Smash up a 100g bar of Divine Chocolate. This has sugar in it, so for a cleaner option, you could use Hasslacher's 100% Cacao. Just use about 8 cubes, as it is very intense, if you love bitter, you'll love it with this chocolate! Then stir whichever smashed up chocolate you have chosen into the mix.

10/ Then pour the whole mixture into the brownie tin and cook for 19 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Get the ingredients now for the Hasslacher's Version

Get the ingredients now for the Divine Chocolate Version.

Nutritional Information.

This recipe makes 9 portions.

The Hasslacher's Version is about 127 calories per serving.
13.5g Carbs Sugars 7g
6.8g Fat Saturated is 5.8g
2.9g Protein
64.6mg Sodium
5.3% Iron

The Divine Chocolate Version is about 165 calories per serving.
20.5g Carbs Sugars 12.7g
Fats 8.7g
Saturated 10.6g
Polyunsaturated 2g
Monounsaturated 1.7g
Trans 2.3g
Sodium 394.4mg
Potassium 284.3mg
Dietry Fiber 3.8g
Protein 3g
Calcium 1.5%
Iron 8.5%

2 May 2016

Secret Hero stops driver causing more damage.

Last night, I was sleeping, snuggled up in bed, when I heard an almighty crash. The sound was in slow motion, it was quiet and got louder and louder and seemed to slide slowly into my consciousness, until I was begrudgingly awake.
I couldn't see anything untoward from my window but heard people talking and then, upon looking again, I saw the edge of a group of people. I had no idea what they were talking about and what the intermittent shouts were but everything seemed under control. So, I went back to my bed.
Later on, my partner and son told me that there was a crash involving a car and a bollard and they oveheard a man saying that he was trying to avoid the scaffolding. I wondered what had happened exactly, sorry, journalistic tendancies after having worked in a newsroom environment for ten years. So, I went dowmstairs and after listening and chatting, this is what I picked up about what could have happened. I say what 'could' have happened because I didn't get to speak to the one who had been driving the car and it wouldn't be fair to presume exactly what had happened.
I heard that the car had been parked outside the pub most of the night, then after the pub closed, the driver got in and drove down the High Street and then crashed into the bollard. People gathered round to see if he was ok and to help him out of the car but I was told he was aggressive and just wanted to drive off again. A quick thinking individual reached out to grab the car keys to prevent him driving off and maybe crashing into some more street furniture, hurting himself, or even hurting someone else on the street that night. My partner and son were out together, coming home and I think how different things could be, if that person hadn't stepped in. That bollard could be one of my loved ones instead, or one of your loved ones, or maybe even you and if the driver is one of your loved ones, he was saved by that individual from hurting himself, or creating an even bigger mistake.
So, today I have woken up feeling very grateful to anyone in our community that is brave enough to do the right thing and this was the right thing for everyone concerned, even the driver. Although he was screaming and shouting outside the pub, once he realised that he could not drive away. I hope this morning his anger diminishes and he is able to say a silent thank you to our community's secret hero.