I was thinking last night of some of the random things I’ve been doing over the last few years (and how many of them I keep forgetting), so I’ve started writing a list, now detailed briefly on my Random Facts page.
- 175g – margarine
- 175g – caster sugar
- 150g – Natural Yoghurt
- 2 ripe bananas (mashed)
- 250g – Plain Flour
- 5 tsp – Baking Powder
- Strawberry jam & Freshly whipped cream
- Preheat oven to around 180 degrees Centigrade (350F)
- Prepare two non-stick 8 inch round cake pans (or grease and line if not using non-stick)
- In a mixer if you have one, (or a large bowl if not), combine the sugar and margarine until creamy.
- Add the yoghurt and mashed bananas, and mix well.
- Add the sifted flour & baking powder, and fold in carefully.
- Split between the two tins (around 500g of mix per tin)
- Bake for around 40 minutes (until a skewer inserted into the middle, comes out clean). Ideally leave in the oven to cool with the door open (to help reduce slight sinking).
- Add the middle filling when mostly cooled, and then dust lightly with icing sugar.
- This is a surprisingly sweet recipe, so don’t be tempted to add butter icing (like I did the first time), it’ll make it too sickly!
The following blog post, is a copy of one made on the 1st March 2006 (the day immediately after), and then updated over the following week. However, as I’m shortly moving the old website to a new location, it seemed appropriate to re-post here! Do scroll down to the images at the base for a better view.
‘Don’t try and dodge the squirrel‘!
So there I was, on Tuesday the 28th Feb 2006, at around 10:30am, driving confidently along the inside lane of the A329M motorway just by junction 10 of the M4.
Holding a steady 70mph, aware of the other vehicles around me, and the road ahead looking clear, ready to exit in around half a mile.
Suddenly, out of the tree line, a small brown squirrel starts racing it’s way to new pastures, attempting to dash as fast as it little legs could carry it, across 2 lanes of fast moving traffic!
Correlating it’s speed, my speed, and the distance between us, there’s a very high chance we’ll collide and Sammy will certainly not do very well out of it. Unfortunately then instinct (possibly from being a strict vegetarian for more than 10 years), means that I then attempted to take evasive action.
A sharp swerve on the steering to the right to try and avoid Sammy, means that at these high speeds the car begins to loose it’s feet. A counter turn to the left helps a little but the car is already unavoidably about to loose traction.
Should I counter again and try to compensate by going right, setting up an uncontrollable rock and roll around the motorway? That could mean moving across the lanes, and also potentially into oncoming traffic from the other direction (as there’s no central barrier on that part of the motorway). And that could be dangerous.
So knowing I was loosing traction anyway, the safest direction was to continue holding my slight left lock, hopefully then sliding onto the hard shoulder in the safest manner, knowing also that the cars behind were also traveling quite slowly and the motorway was still relatively clear on this side.
Unfortunately, the car continued to yaw slightly to the left, then loosing traction completely with all four wheels skidding sideways, but thankfully with the vehicle still moving in the direction of the hard shoulder.
“This might cause a little damage to the car” I thought.
Unfortunately a tree to the side of the hard shoulder wasn’t so happy about the intrusion to its space, and attempted to hold its ground despite the rapid application of the driver’s door against it.
The car, not wishing to give up entirely, continued it’s motion against the tree, but with nowhere else to go tried to leap over the top (not very effectively), by rolling its way up the trunk.
Not wishing to make things too difficult, the tree finally gave in, embedding itself into the roof of the car, folding the roof in, right in front of Jason’s eyes just to make it clear of its displeasure about the intrusion.
|‘I swerved and swerved to avoid a crash, but still hit the tree‘!|
“It’s likely this might damage the car a little more than expected” I thought, as the horizon span around in front of my eyes.
The car came to a gentle halt, right way up, and somehow I was still there, sitting upright, hands still both comfortably on the steering wheel, engine still running, windscreen wipers for some reason oscillating, wondering slightly why I couldn’t really see all that well out of the front or side of the vehicle but figuring I should get out as quickly as possible.
Not being able to see if I was actually blocking the motorway, and hearing cars still flying past beside me, I felt a second vehicle could hit me at any time. I hadn’t realised at this point how much the car had been crushed around my seated position.
Thankfully, on kicking my way out of the driver’s door, three guys were already running towards me to help out (seemingly slightly surprised I was just about out by the time they got to me).
Then taking stock of my location, I was surprised and pleased to see that the car had quite nicely parked itself onto the embankment, wasn’t even on the hard shoulder. All the remnants from the car interior had even been scattered into the trees without anything obstructing the motorway at all!
Bystanders seemed somewhat surprised as I walked around freely, assisting me in retrieving various items strewn from the rear of the vehicle into the embankment.
As I was okay, and the car quite clearly no longer drivable, I wondered how long it would take for the AA to arrive. No-one was entirely sure what to do next. However, in the meantime, one of the drivers of another vehicle was already calling the police and ambulance to come and ‘rescue’ me.
Within minutes, the ambulance crew arrived and saw me smiling and waving signs of ‘I’m okay’ to them. They were however slightly puzzled as to where the driver of the vehicle was, and who else must still be trapped inside, judging from how badly the vehicle was crushed.
Taking me to the ambulance to attend to the slight cuts on the backs of my hands (from the broken glass imploding onto me), one of the paramedics returned to the vehicle, expressing that had I not been walking around on arrival as I was, they would have expected to need to cut the roof off the vehicle, and only carry me out on a spinal board!
One paramedic expressed that it was “the worst accident he’d ever seen, where someone had come out alive”. Unfortunately Sammy the squirrel wasn’t so lucky!
So after the event, I booked myself in for a Sports Massage on Wednesday morning, an Aromatherapy treatment Wednesday evening, an Osteopathy treatment to reset a couple of vertebrae on the Friday morning, and another massage on the following Monday! 🙂
The week continued relatively as normal (although a couple of days did seem to pass by, without being quite normally balanced!).
Thankfully, after a series X-rays, (apart from the car, the tree, and of course Sammy) nothing appears to be broken!
(I wrote this, because the ambulance guys, the crash transporter guys, and many others enjoyed the humour of ‘stressed.biz’ marked across the car, in the crushed form you see above!)
Having recently taken over a hotel (accommodating for up to 16 guests 7 days per week), so far we’ve managed to reduce our landfill by at least 85%. We still have further to go, which will be progressing over coming months, but it’s a pretty good start.
This was quite simply achieved by seperating our rubbish, and putting most of it to recycling. (ie down from an 1100 litre dumpy bin, to the equivalent of around 2 dustbin bags a week of landfill: less than the average families landfill I see at the side of the road).
For example we now recycle:
- all suitable paper and card
- recyclable plastics (numbers 1-5), metals and tins
- recyclable glass
- tetra-pack cartons (lids seperated)
- Tassimo disks from our various machines at the hotel (2p for each one recycled also goes to charity)
- Nespresso capsules (recycled by Nespresso directly).
- Reduced food wastage by cooking great food, to order (so there’s also less left by our guests)
- Buy only fsc approved toilet and facial tissues (ie recycled, and/or sustainable)
- Use energy saving bulbs throughout most of the hotel (both halogen, and tube style)
- Turn off thermostats in our rooms when they’re not booked
- Open windows to naturally air the place as much as possible (rather than just using chemicals)
- fix leaking taps, etc
We’ve now found a suitable commercial recycle company, who can collect much our recyclable materials on a fortnightly basis. Those items they can’t recycle directly, but we can, we still keep aside and recycle ourselves through other companies.
We also reduced the visits by the waste companies (fortnightly or less), to reduce the environmental impact of their travel to us in their large heavy vehicles.
It’s unfortunately, that in my experience, most businesses aren’t willing to take these steps to reduce their environmental impact.
I do appreciate there is still a lot more we can do ourselves (and already have plans to do so), and we’re trying to maintain the balance of luxury and quality with our environmental impact.
However, speaking to the guy changing over our dumpy bin recently (to one much smaller), he was also sharing how for the farm he also works on, they are still heavily discouraged by price.
For example, on his farm, plastic bags and wrapping (from feed, etc.) can either be recycled, or put in a skip for landfill.
- If they put it in the skip, and it goes straight to a hole in the ground, they get charged around £200 a year.
- If they collect the same volume for recycling, it’s around 3 times that price!
Not surprisingly, and unfortunately, for immediate cost reasons they therefore choose to put it all in landfill.
I also remember, back in 2001 when I used to work in a call centre in a town centre, virtually all the rubbish we ever disposed of was shredded office paper. At that time, business landfill waste was free. Recycling the premium paper however was quite a considerable cost in addition!
Until these basics change, I can’t see many other businesses taking steps to reduce their environmental impact. I haven’t seen the figures, but I’m sure it will make a significant difference if more businesses are encouraged with their bottom line, to change.
It doesn’t take much once the changes are made, the biggest challenge seems to be in the change in work practices initially. Trial it for a couple of weeks if you need to (even if you still keep sending it to landfill), and when it works, you can make it company policy on a constant basis!