My phone broke

Sunday afternoon.  Hubby is out at work and the boys are playing on their Xboxes before bed.  Hubby decided that he wanted a break from driving (taxi driver), so he calls me to see how the boys are doing.

It wasn’t long in to the call when I couldn’t hear him talking…  I thought he had drove through a “dead zone”, so the network had dropped.  I stated my thoughts with my usual, “I don’t know if you can still hear me, but I can’t hear you…  If you can hear me, call me back…”  He called me back straight away, but I still couldn’t hear anything.  Thinking it was a glitch, I repeated my previous statement, but saying that I would call him back.

I called him back, but there was no ringtone…  The display was showing that he had answered the call.  I said, “I haven’t a clue if you can hear me, but I think there’s something wrong with my phone.  Give me ten minutes, and I’ll try to call you back…”

I tried a few things.  I called the house phone, and I couldn’t hear anything from my mobile – but I could through the house phone.  I then had the idea of trying to play some music…  I went to the YouTube app, and pressed play on one of the recommended videos.  It started to play, but no noise.  I repeated the experiment with Google Music…  Nothing.  Then, all of a sudden, my mobile data stopped working.  I couldn’t connect to the internet…  Great.  I quickly texted hubby to say “my phone’s broke”, and to call me on the house phone if he needed me.

Monday morning.  My phone is well and truly “dead”.  After some research last night, I had found the phone that I wanted, and it would come with a free fitness watch.  It would mean that I would have to take on another contract (3 years), but I would get a “top of the line” phone…  I was ok with that, so hubby and I went to the phone shop to pick up my beautiful Huawei P20 Pro and Huawei GT Smart Watch.


All of the above had me thinking…  I am the last generation of so many “ends” of technology, and I am the first generation of many, many more.  I was planning on making a list of all of the technologies that have come and gone, but I’d just be here all day…  Instead, here’s a list of just a few:

Minidisc was a magneto-optical disc-based data storage format offering a capacity of 74 minutes and, later, 80 minutes, of digitized audio or 1 gigabyte of Hi-MD data.  They were first introduced in 1992, and it was hoped that they would replace the delicate compact discs.  Unfortunately, the Minidisc didn’t gain as much popularity as was first thought, and the last Minidisc was produced in 2013.

MP3.  There are many contradictory answers, as to when MP3’s first appeared, although I have discovered that the first MP3 player was produced in 1997.  Therefore, I think it’s safe to say that the MP3 came out prior to when I left high school!  The MP3 is still a  popular choice of audio today.

Audio CD’s were introduced to the world a lot earlier than people think!  They were first available to purchase in 1982; but, as with a lot of new technology, were rather expensive to own.  As the popularity increased, primarily because the compact disc could hold more information than a cassette, the prices went down, and almost everyone owned a CD player.

Cassette tapes were first introduced in approximately 1962, but were all the rage in the 80’s.  The personal “Walkman” was first released in 1980, and was a great source of listening to music “on the go”. By 1993, CD’s were outselling the cassette tape, and by 2000, less than 2% of the worlds’ audio purchases were on cassette.

8-tracks were another popular form of listening to music, but were not able to be “portable”.  The 8-track cartridges were common in car radio systems, and were “in season” from 1964 to 1988.

LP / Records. In 1888, a gentlemen named Emile Berliner invented the flat disc record. These very first discs were produced of a vulcanised rubber.  Later he discovered that a mixture of shellac (a secretion from the lac beetle) and slate dust produced an extremely hard wearing but very brittle surface and from this the 78rpm disc was developed.  The slate dust was used because the older acoustic gramophones used steel needles with a pick-up weight of up to 200 grams and the slate helped grind the needle to fit the groove more closely.  In 1927, a vinyl record was used for the very first talking picture (movie with audio) – “The Jazz Singer”.  Since 1927, popularity increased, and the LP was often sent to POW camps, during the second world war, to keep up prisoner morale.  Despite the devastation caused to vinyl sales by the rapid rise in popularity of the CD, the format still thrives among keen record collectors and club disc jockeys today.

Betamax and VHS were first released in 1975, and although VHS are still available (rarely though), they faded out with the release of the DVD in 1995 (DVD’s have also decreased in popularity, since the introduction of the Blue-Ray in 2003).

The Internet is another thing that has been around a lot longer than people think.  We can trace the development of the first internetworking back to the early 1960’s, and was developed primarily for business use only.  Commercial Internet Service Provider’s (ISP’s) began to emerge in the late 1980’s / early 1990’s, and by 1995, the internet for home usage was fully commercialised throughout the UK.

The list is not exhaustive, and I will address this topic again, after having done more research.  In the meantime, just have a think as to how far the world has come, technology wise, since you came along.  Did you see one of the first TV’s?  Do you remember when it was incredibly rare to own more than one car?  Do you remember what the connection is between a pen and a cassette tape?

 

Diet and Exercise for Lazy People – Introduction

Hey all, happy new year!

As with the start of every new year, 2019 is full of promise to be an amazing year.  I have several wonderful events coming up this year that I am really excited for, and with the attitude make-over that I had in 2018, I know that nothing can stop me from getting what I want…  Nothing.  Apart from me.  That is where the title of this blog post comes in to effect.  “Diet and Exercise for Lazy People”.

Let’s not beat around the bush.  I am lazy.  There’s nothing I like best than lounging on my couch, either binge-watching something on Netflix, YouTube or playing on the xbox; but I have to get real.

Later on this year, we’re going to Disney World, Florida!  We went there for the first time in October, 2017, and I’ve been hooked ever since.  Well, since we’ve booked the holiday, I’ve watched our home video a couple of times, and tonight I mentioned to hubby, “oh, I’ll need to get myself some more shorts…  I like those ones,” referring to the beige coloured ones I had on in the video, “where did I get them from?  Bon Marche?  Does that even exist any more..??  I’ll have to have a look.”  Then the next photo appeared in the video.  Oh my God.  I have no shape.  I have no figure.  I am, literally, a walking blob with an overhanging tummy.

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This was the guilty photo…

It all started when I was about 21…  Maybe even up to 24.  I had given up with my weight and exercise, and I started to pile on the pounds.  Previously, I had always been a “perfect 14” (size 12 in the USA), and I was so happy and confident.  I don’t know why I decided to “let go”, but I did.

Several years and two boys later, I’m 38 years old, and I’m averaging a size 22/24 (USA 20/22).  It’s time to be honest with the world, as I’ve never really said this out loud.  I am not happy.  I have big legs, a big bum and big arms, but all of those combined don’t bother me as much as my “mum tum”.

With me, it’s not really about the food that I eat, because I can eat and stick to diets – it’s the fact that I don’t move  enough.

So, I’m now on the lookout for a suitable exercise plan that is effective but gentle for lazy sods like me.  

I’ll keep you all posted on my progress, but in the meantime I’d love to hear any thoughts that you may have, including any recommendations.



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1916 Trench Cake – Recipe

As this coming Sunday is the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1, I decided to make, what is known as, a “Trench Cake”, made from the original recipe from 1916.

Whilst men were fighting overseas, they longed for pieces of mail from home, and it soon became a tradition where the women back home would bake a cake that would not spoil quickly…  They would wrap it up securely, and the soldiers would often share the cake with the rest of their regiment.

Here’s how to make it:

Ingredients

8oz plain flour

4oz butter

3oz dried fruit (raisins, sultanas, dried cherries, etc.)

1/2 tsp bicarb of soda

1 tsp vinegar (malt)

1/4 pint milk (full fat)

2 tsp mixed spice powders (nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, etc.)

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 180C (160C for fan assisted ovens).
  • Grease and line your cake tin (I used an 8 inch tin).
  • Rub the butter and the flour together with the tips of your fingers, until the mixture resembles crumble.

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  • Add the fruit, sugar and powdered spices, and continue mixing together with your fingertips.

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  • Measure out the milk in a jug, and add the vinegar.
  • Add the bicarb of soda to the milk and vinegar, then quickly add the liquid to the dry mix and beat well.

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  • Pour the cake mixture in to your greased and lined cake tin, and place in the centre of the oven for anywhere between 1 and 2 hours – A big difference, I know, but you can tell that your cake is ready by inserting a skewer in tot he middle of the cake, and if it comes out clean, it’s ready.  My cake was ready after just 1hr 5mins.

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  • Carefully turn the cake out on to a wire cooling rack, and allow the cake to cool fully before slicing and enjoying.

As you enjoy this cake, give a little thought to all of those who fought, and lost their lives in the Great War.  Lest We Forget.

 

Cowboy Casserole – recipe

It’s been a little while since I last posted, so I decided to come back with another classic type of post…  A recipe.  This recipe is called a “Cowboy Casserole” by my two boys, but others may call it a simple sausage casserole.  It’s super simple to prepare, and makes for a filling and beautiful belly-warmer of a meal – especially now that it’s starting to get colder!

This whole recipe cost me £3.50 to make, and easily serves 4 or 5 people, meaning each serving is between 70p and 87p.  What a cracker!

Ingredients

16 sausages (I bought a double pack of Richmond’s)

1 tin of peeled, plum tomatoes (I used Asda’s own)

2 tins of beans (I used Asda’s own)

1tsp dried chilli flakes

1tsp paprika

Splash of oil (for frying)

Method

  • Add a splash of oil to a frying pan, and part-fry the sausages.  I managed to fit 8 sausages in my pan, so this took me two “goes”.  Once the sausages are almost cooked, and are a browny colour, transfer them on to some kitchen roll to remove any excess grease from the pan.
  • Chop each sausage in to a “mouthful” sized piece.  I cut each sausage in to four.

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  • Leave the cut sausages on your chopping board, and add two tins of baked beans in tomato sauce, the tin of peeled, plum tomatoes, the chilli flakes and paprika to your slow cooker.  Add the sausages, and stir the mixture with a large spoon until all the sausages have been coated.

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  • Set your slow cooker to “HIGH”, and set the timer for 5 hours.  Don’t forget to put the lid on the slow cooker.

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  • You can serve your Cowboy Casserole on its’ own, or (my recommendation) mashed potatoes.

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  • Enjoy!!

First Day of School – 2018

First Day

Donut’s first day of school, and Gning’s first day in “year 2”

Merseyside Bucket List

From the moment I was born, up until 2009, I lived in the borough of St Helens, Merseyside (north-west England).  In 2009, I moved to Huyton village (in the outskirts of Liverpool).  I have lived within this 6 mile radius all of my life.

Last night I decided to start making a list of all the important, and wonderful places to visit in the area.  Museums, historical buildings, green spaces, and more.  I have visited many, thanks to my dad who loved to teach me the history of where I live, but there are still so many places that I have not been.

If you live in, or know the county of Merseyside, I would love to hear about your favourite places.  Do you have a favourite park?  Is there a particular building, or museum that you enjoyed visiting?  Do you know of any “hidden gems” in the area?  Please comment with one, two or more of your favourite Merseyside places, so I can add them to my list.

As soon as I have compiled my list, I shall post it here.

Back to School

Schools went back, yesterday, after a fortnights holiday for Easter.  Gning went in to his class with a big smile on his face, happy to be with all of his classmates again.  Donut, on the other hand, wasn’t able to return to nursery, as he is having belly problems again.  The earliest he can go back is tomorrow, as schools & nursery settings have a 48hr no-return policy after a final bout of diarrhoea or vomiting.  It’s a shame, as he’s quite taken to another little boy in his nursery school, and all over the Easter break, he’s been “talking” on the phone to this boy…  Pretend, of course, as we don’t actually have his phone number.  I am starting to be concerned though, as I’m sure there must be an underlying problem with his stomach somewhere, due to the amount of times he suffers with diarrhoea.

Anyway…

A couple of months ago, I successfully completed both a teaching assistant, and an EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage – children ages 0 to 5) advanced teaching qualification.  It’s completely different to my experience in work, as I’ve always done some form of administration role – typist, receptionist, secretary, personal assistant, telephonist; and after departing my role of a telephonist of 8 and a half years, last July, I decided that I no longer wanted to be “the voice” of a company, and I wanted to work face-to-face with people.  Not any type of people though – children.

It was hubby, dearest, who gave me a push, by purchasing the two online courses for me.  He said that I should give it a go, as I’ve always had a bit of a knack for working with children and younger people (over 15 years experience in working with the aforementioned, teaching martial arts).  So, I sat down, when the boys were in bed, and I studied.  I completed a (super thick) journal with all of my notes, and then reviewed them the following day, before starting another module of the course.  The next thing you know, I’m “sitting” the exams, and I passed both with a Higher Distinction (97.5% on both exams).

The next question was, “what am I going to do with my new qualifications..?”

I immediately started job searching, for teaching assistant, nursery assistants, and EYFS teachers, however, all positions required a minimum amount of experience set within a learning environment.  None would accept my experience of teaching martial arts, as it’s not considered “academic”.

I had a thought.  I should push my luck, and send several emails off to local nurseries, asking if they would be interested in “hiring” me as a volunteer.  They wouldn’t have to pay me a penny – not even for expenses.  I explained my predicament, and asked if I could attend the setting for just a couple of hours per week, so I could gain the valuable experience that I required.  I only heard back from one nursery, and they stated that they wouldn’t be able to offer me any form of positions, as it wouldn’t be fair to the children…  They further mentioned that “children do get attached to staff members, it would be a shame if the children got attached to me, only for me to leave when I had the relevant experience, if they couldn’t offer me a paid job”.  I was a little disheartened, but not upset, as I completely understood where they were coming from.

So, I decided to try a job search again, and I stumbled upon a posting from a teaching supply agency, for a “Behavioural Support Assistant”.  It was temporary only, but did not require any school-based experience – only some experience in working with children.  Fantastic!  This was my chance…  And I applied for the job.

The following morning, I received a phone call from the agency, apologising that the posting had been offered to someone else that morning, but there was another post that I may be interest in.  He seemed really interested in me, however, the conversation ended when I confirmed that I have no experience in a school setting.  I thanked him for his time, and ended the call.  Not ten minutes later, I received a phone call from the same number…  I was expecting some sort of “survey”, but it was a female voice this time.

The voice explained that she had overheard my previous conversation (from the mans end), and said that I would be a perfect candidate to register with the agency, under the Extra Support category – which basically deals with students who have behavioural problems; and my martial arts and counselling background was more beneficial to me than my teaching qualifications…  For now.

The following week, I went in to the agency to register my details.  I met the female “voice”, and we were in the interview room for over an hour.  She was intrigued by my background, and said she would get to searching for an opening for me as soon as the Easter holidays were over.

Fast forward to yesterday.  It wasn’t just the boys who went back to school.

I received a phone call from a male voice, at about 10am, asking if I was free that afternoon.  He explained that a school, close to me, needs someone to supervise an exam, and if I would be interested to go in.  It didn’t take me long to accept the position, and he said it was a “simple” job, that would start my experience…  I was to be an “Exam Invigilator”; where I simply sit in the room of students, sitting the exam, and make sure there is no talking, cheating, etc., and to hand out any equipment necessary (rules, calculators, pens, etc.).  We finished the conversation, and ended the call.

For the first time in my life, going in to an unknown setting, I wasn’t nervous in the slightest.  The students were all really lovely, and were all well behaved – raising their hands when they needed something, and all said please and thank you.  The only strange thing was, was that they all called me “Miss”!  That’s going to get a bit to get used to.  I came out of the school, yesterday afternoon, with a big smile on my face.

I had only been home from the school for half an hour, when I received another phone call, from the same male voice from that morning, stating that the school had asked for me to return this afternoon, to oversee another exam…  I was only in the school for 2 hours, and I’ve already made an impression.

What can I say?  I’ve currently only worked 2 hours, and I love my job.

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