Friday, 25 November 2011

Little Bird

Fly little bird fly
The sky is vast, 
And life is yours
To spread your wings, goodbye

Come back and see me soon
I'll wait until
We meet again
Each time that you have grown

Don't be afraid little bird
If you feel that
You have flown too far
Just turn back I'll be here

Fly little bird fly
The world awaits your beautiful song
And all the lands afar
Will love you for the joy you are

written by Cheryl Powling

Monday, 17 October 2011

Things about eggs..

Fact number 1.. Hens do NOT need a cockerel to lay eggs, unless you want chicks..they don't in fact have anything to do with egg laying...I get asked this all of the time, so here is some reading material for all of you who are interested in exactly how things work eggwise...

Egg Production

It takes different times for the egg to pass through the different areas of the oviduct (egg tube), the addition of the shell taking the longest time:
  • 15 minutes in the infundibulum (fertilised here if cockerel available plus chalazae added)
  • 3 hours in the magnum to add albumen (white of egg)
  • 1.5 hours in the isthmus to add shell membrane
  • 20 hours in the uterus/shell gland for shell deposition plus pigment
  • 1 minute in the vagina which is extruded out past the vent to avoid the faeces

This is an egg I cracked open to find it had been fertilised and was in fact alive .....

An egg takes a total of 25 hours to lay ,which is why the hens do not lay every day, they then ovulate again about 30 minutes after laying.
Brown eggs have pigment placed on the outside of the shell which can scratch of wash off  unless you are one of those gorgeous blue/green eggs from an Araucana which has pigment all the way through.
The other thing is that egg shells are porous so they must be washed with water that is warmer than the egg (with a disinfectant like Virkon or an egg wash)  so that the shell membrane expands and blocks the pores, because if the water is cooler the membrane shrinks and will draw in any bacteria on the shell.

If the eggs are needed to be fertile, there are semen storage glands in the oviduct so the cockerel does not need to be with the hens every day, important if the hens are exhibited so that their feathers do not get damaged. If another breed cockerel has been used and a different cockerel is wanting to be used (for instance, to change to a pure breed) you will need to wait 2 weeks for the eggs to be true to the new cockerel, due to the semen storage capacity

.The composition of an egg is shown.. 

This is important as it is how a fresh egg is determined. The airspace is very small in a new laid egg and gets progressively larger as the egg loses moisture through the porous shell. When a fresh egg is cracked onto a plate, the thin white and the thick white are easily distinguished and the yolk sits in a defined dome on top of the white. The chalazae can be seen. A not-fresh egg will appear to have only one type of white, no chalazae and will be flat when viewed from the side. Sometimes there may be a small brown mark in the white – this is a tiny amount of blood (known as a meat spot) and is not harmful, it just doesn’t look nice. Commercial eggs are candled (looked at in a dark room with a bright torch held to the egg) to remove any with meat spots. Fertile eggs are candled to check on the development of the embryo. The colour of the yolk depends on feeding and commercial feed has additives to enhance yolk colour. Carotenoids in green plants are the basis of yolk colour, so outdoor birds usually have darker yolks in the summer and paler in the winter.

The laying process is hormonal, and very much influenced by light levels, which is why you can hear me moaning when I have so few eggs during the Winter, for so many birds.. If I had Ducks I might have a good deal more eggs as they are less influenced by the light and light breeds do lay in the darker months.

What a cock! 

Monday, 10 October 2011

My children

My children are my energy
And in their eyes myself I see
And in their tears myself I see
My children are the best in me

When they are not here by my side
I wear the cloak that they provide
Of mother love of wealth of pride
No other keeps me safe inside

And from the belly that they came
The cord of life still has a claim
Invisible but still commands
The life long link like holding hands

My children are my heart and soul
My sustenance my rock n roll
I see their brilliance and their glow
And smile with ease because I know

That nothing in this world could alter
My life long bond my sons my daughter

written by Cheryl Powling

Monday, 19 September 2011

Me and my E-Cig

I haven't smoked for 25 years, but believe me since I stopped, I have wished there was a healthy alternative, I would never go back to puffing away at those sticks of tobacco that could send my body to a very uncomfortable and unhealthy downward spiral, which could be a big mistake, given also that quite a few nicotine addicts in my family died an untimely death, from heart conditions that I believe were helped along by the nicotine stick.

Then I discovered the E-Cig, and was quite excited so I bought one, but as I am no longer in need of nicotine I bought Zero mg nicotine cartomisers, just to experience the puffing and the smoke, and the inhalation that I used to enjoy so much, and I chose a company called VIP because they were UK based and, they did a Omg nicotine version.. take a look at their website.

I bought an Executive started kit which was just under 30 pounds, which was all I needed to experience the sensation of smoking, and I chose the menthol flavour, because the tobacco tasted nasty to me, and as an occasional shisha smoker (non nicotine type) I enjoyed the minty one the best, I also bought a nice pink case to keep it in !! 

When it came I was quite scared, and excited, because really I was being a bit of a idiot to introduce myself to something I had so successfully managed to free myself from, but for me it was rather like re-visiting an old love you never got over, and realising you were better off without it..

If I were a smoker I would definitely use these to ween myself off, the amount of smoke you can draw off of one of these things is really impressive, you get the hit at the back of the throat and you can even blow smoke rings, to be honest it was much better than I could have imagined, and the pack it came in had two nicotine tips to try and I gave them to smokers, and they all were very impressed.

They are cheaper than smoking cigarettes, no smell, you can smoke them inside, no staining of teeth, and you get your nicotine without the 6,000 chemicals and 66 known carcinogens associated with tobacco smoking.

This is a table of the typical ingredients of an E-cig

Propylene Glycol >50%
Glycerol <30%
Nicotine 0 to 1.8%
Water <10%
Alcohol (ethanol) <1%
Coriandor <1%
Solanone <1%
Citric Acid <1%
Benzel Alcohol <1%
Orient Tobacco Absolute (flavor) <1%
Pepper Oil <1%
Guaiacol <1%
Menthol <1%
Fragrant Orchid Element <1%

I am no scientist and I have searched the net for possible advise against use, and to be honest these are a relatively new product so there is much argument for and against the sale of these cigs, but I think you have to form your own ideas.. and there are plenty of facts on here..

So in conclusion to all of this, I would say, yes, I do think this is a very good product, and worth a punt of £30 to possibly break a habit of a lifedrain.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Chilli Crab Apple Jelly..

Today I made Chilli Crab Apple Jelly..
We have a Crab Apple tree in our garden and every year the little red apples sit there on the ground waiting for me to do something with them, and today for the first time I did..

The recipe was quite simple I collected 3 kilos of Crab Apples and washed and de-stemmed them

I cut then in half and put them with 5 large chopped red chillies into my jam pan with just enough water to cover them and boiled for about 30 mins till they were pulpy and well cooked

I then poured the fruit and liquid through a jelly bag, or muslin and let drip until it stopped which took about 2 hours, I then helped it along by squeezing all the thick pectin through the bag with my hands making sure no bits went in

I then measured the juice and for every 500mls added 1lb of sugar to it in the washed jam pan and boiled until sugar was dissolved
I skimmed it and boiled until jam setting point was reached.

I allowed it to settle for about 5 minutes then spooned into sterilized jars, and when the jelly was semi-set I popped some fresh chilli slit lengthways into each jar, which looked great

Then I dipped some waxed discs in brandy and put them on top and sealed with my lid.

The glorious colour of this jelly is vibrant and cheering, it tastes great aswell, and can be added to sandwiches, cold meats or cheese, I was thinking that next time instead of adding chilli I could use fresh mint..  :)

Job Done!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Hip hop all the way down..

On the 4th August there was a fatal shooting of 29 year old Mark Duggan, who although was a drug dealer and hardened gangster known to police, also was, according to his fiancĂ©, a family man who was hoping to turn his life around and move away from the Tottenham area and start afresh, but this wasn’t to be, as the police caught up with him, and he was killed. And this sparked of the worst outbreaks of rioting that we have ever seen in London and other major cities, starting on the 6th August after a march to protest about the police’s heavy handedness, resulting in vandalism, looting many injuries and death of innocent people.

But all through this and indeed before all of this, I have always felt that the music business had a lot to answer for, as a lot of our fashionable rapping and hip hop music and mentors are promoting people to not only carry guns and knives but to be rascist and homophobic, not to mention the disrespect towards women.

It promotes a ‘live dangerously’ lifestyle, which cannot be a healthy thing for young people to be humming to whilst trying to concentrate on building a good foundation to live in a difficult and awkward society where we are all living cheek to jowl, and are constantly made aware of the class divides.

And who are these artists, with their gang related tattoos and trophies of bullet holes and scars, and why do we allow them to advocate such behaviour through something so hypnotising and influential as our music industry?

Our cable and satellite channels are bursting with rap videos of young, primarily black men , who swagger through grimy estates, with fingers that pose as imaginary guns, looking cool, looking confident, acting as if they above the law, and the marketing executives grow richer and richer from the sales of hoodies and trainers, worn and made current for trend, by these figureheads, who I believe are actually letting down the young kids who follow them, because they are telling them that you don’t need an education, or a job, but you do need all the materialistic things, and how you get them is by flaughting the rules and with violence.

There’s rape, there’s gang life, there’s much bling, but where’s the job to pay for it all?
And it seems at the expense of these kids welfare, and life, there are the guys at the top who are making a living out of this, while we the public are trying to keep a grip and encourage our kids to stay safe and get a good education.

These are not good role models, they are getting rich and famous at our children’s expence, and the subliminal messages that have come out of it all, that has slowly tainted our young people. 

Sincere love and sympathy goes to all those who families who's lives were changed by this mindless thuggery.
and let's hope for change ...

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Blackcurrant Jammmmmming..

Today we went fruit picking with a bit of veg aswell it was a splendid day, a great day out..

When I came home I made Blackcurrant Jam here is the recipe I used

Ingredients:   1kg (2lb) blackcurrants- 
750ml (1 and a quarter pints) water- 
750g (1 and a half pounds) preserving or granulated sugar-
a little brandy to seal..

Put the blackcurrants and water into the preserving pan, bring slowly to the boil stir until the sugar has disolved, then reduce the heat to a simmer for 20-25 minutes stirring occasionally until the mixture has reduced by a third.

Add the sugar to the pan, slowly return to the boil, keep stirring until the sugar has disolved, then boil rapidly for 15-20 minutes or until setting point is reached.
Remove the pan from the heat, and leave the jam to stand until coldish..
Ladle the jam into the sterilized jars, Cover each jar with a waxed paper disc dipped in brandy then seal..

The shelf life for this is two years, but when opened must be stored in the fridge.

Job done ;D

Thursday, 7 July 2011

'The person I would most like to meet'

Never fading, never loosing his energy and 'Raw Power' you have to admit when it comes to Iggy Pop there's  no-one quite as outrageous and wild, but I love him...

Almost every rock and punk band, of the past or present has either knowingly or quite naturally been inspired by him, and I cannot see anyone who has managed to capture the essence of Iggy and bottle it in quite the unique way he has done.

Iggy is 64 now, and is still selling out, wherever he goes, and his music is still enjoyed by his oldest of fans.. I saw him play many times over in my youth, and went to see him a few years ago at Hammersmith, and thought he was as breathtaking then as he was, when I used to follow him to his every London concert 35 years ago.

After living in New York for 20 years he now lives in Miami in a Mediterranean style bungalow with his partner Nina and a houseful of cats and dogs.

He has always been my fantasy, and if asked the question, who is  'the person I would most like to meet' ?
he would undoubtedly be my number one ....

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

My beautiful little baby..

There's a little chicken I think you should all meet, he hatched last week and although he was originally one of ten eggs he was the only survivor, so he is all alone..
He is the tiniest little chicken ever, which is why they are a little harder to hatch, he is a 'Serama' chick.

Serama bantams chickens are truely delightful especially for people in urban areas, as the cockerel has a much quieter crow, and they are so small that they need much less of a living area, they are friendly and confident, and come in so many different colours and two white parents can have a speckled one and you never know what will occur which makes breeding them fun, except that they are very difficult to hatch.

They lay cute little eggs much smaller than a normal sized egg, and I think they are lovely.. here is the Wikipedia link about this fascinating breed

My little chicken has another 10 potential little friends in my incubator, and fingers crossed he will be joined in the next few weeks I will keep you posted.

Nice book shame about the quantities!... ;(

I received this book and was delighted with the content until I actually began to make a cake.The quantities for Grams didn't match up with the Pounds and Ounces equivalents eg: Butter 715g/1lb 7oz.. Flour 175g/6oz so I thought 'now which one do I follow?'

The other ingredients that were in teaspoons and amounts like the numbers of eggs required were obviously fine but if I got it wrong by the conflicting measurements the whole thing given how scientific a cake can become when it comes to the right amounts could be vital.

I called the publishers 'Murdoch Books', and they were very nice but seemed unaware that EVERY recipe for everything was faulty, I also noted that this has been reprinted over the last 10 years about 11 times over and NO-ONE noticed it ..

Over the phone I was told to follow the metric quantities but then I just felt as if I couldn't trust the whole book, the kitchens that tried and tested the recipes were in Australia so I was told, and now to be honest the book is nothing more than a great book of nice photographs and ideas.
Shame on the publishers.. for putting a book together that they really knew nothing about..

Lovely Pics though.......

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Mindfulness, or just putting it off?

'Ever wonder where the good and enjoyable times go as we rush through life? Do you find that you are spending a great deal of your time thinking about the future or the past, while the present slips by? Is your mind racing, thinking ahead, worrying, judging, whilst you are feeling stressed to the max, anxious or overwhelmed? Do you often find yourself on automatic pilot?'  

At 'The Priory' they encourage you to attend the 'Mindfulness Class', it's all about learning to relax, and 'let go', it is the intentional process of paying attention and being aware of our moment to moment experiences in a non judgemental way ...

It's about being focused, but not with unhealthy thoughts or neurosis, I think it's a fabulous thing, but I must point out that I found it almost impossible, and I was more stressed in that class than any other, and found myself fidgeting almost uncontrollably, just like I did in every school assembly, but then that's why I was at The Priory, because I have an anxiety disorder.

I was taught that I was supposed to be developing a tranquil attitude to the frustrations that caused my instability, and practice daily whilst doing household chores, or going to Sainsburys.

Mindfulness can also be practiced by being mindful of body sensations, thoughts and emotions, and there was a body scan meditation process that we were taught which was designed to help observe any sensations throughout the body, from the toes to your head, and I did at the time find this very difficult.

It is excellent for our stressful lives, our addictions and our pains, and I don't think enough people are aware of it or know anything about it.

A beautiful engagement with oneself, is what I would describe it as, a selfish moment.. Time for you....Mindfulness is a very good thing.
The funny thing is in my therapy class I was so against it, I was always dreading it, and I was so disruptive during it, but I have come away realising that it is so beneficial and that I would like to practice it and learn from it.. and also share this with you.

This is something I am seriously thinking about developing for myself..

Please take a look at this link.. It is something that could change your life.