Posts Tagged ‘mirror’

Llangollen (Part 3)

You may remember I went on a two day break to Llangollen a while ago. Although I’ve done a couple of posts already on the trip (4.9.13 & 18.9.13) there is more to report on so here’s instalment no.3.

Let’s start with a view from the outside decking area of the Royal Hotel looking back towards the bridge.

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The Royal Hotel was originally called the King’s Head and after a certain Princess Victoria stayed there in 1832 it was renamed The King’s Head and Royal. (Remember she came to the throne in 1837.) Another famous guest was physicist & chemist Michael Faraday who stayed there in 1819. Well if it was good enough for Faraday it was good enough me!

Just along the road from The Royal is The Hand Hotel and it can boast Robert Browning & his sister as guests in 1866.

We set off to the station just the other side of the bridge as there was a bit of a steam festival thing going on. There were trips on the steam trains but we didn’t have time so we just looked round the stalls and exhibition stuff to do with the restoration of the line. The project began in 1975 to get track re-laid and into a condition in which trains would actually be able to run again. Today the volunteer-run railway has about 8 miles of restored track.

As we entered the station we saw this metal sign

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Note the proud boast at the bottom. The chocolate was apparently eaten by the Queen, the King & His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. Not bad eh? This year one of these signs in a worse condition to the one in my photo was sold for £150! Now in case you’re wondering, the chocolate making business was begun by a Quaker, Joseph Fry, in the mid 18th century. The Fry’s Chocolate Cream bar (which many of you will know) began in 1866 – it will be 150 years old a few years from now in 2016; Fry’s Turkish Delight began in 1914 and so will celebrate its centenary next year. That’s a long time for any chocolate bar to last! It’s also believed that Fry was responsible for producing the first chocolate Easter Egg in 1873. My favourite used to be the Fry’s Chocolate Mint Cream version (the green one).

Sadly however the Fry company (later owned by Cadbury which was later still taken over by Kraft) closed its Keynsham factory in 2011 and moved production to Poland with the loss of 500 jobs.

Interestingly Quakers were responsible for the founding of many of the household names we know today: Barclays Bank, Lloyds Bank, Clark’s shoes (Cyrus Clark), Bryant & May matches, Huntley & Palmer’s Biscuits (Thomas Huntley), Carr’s Biscuits, Rowntree’s (Joseph Rowntree), Cadbury’s (George Cadbury). Cadbury, as you will know, actually built a village for his workers (Bourneville, a few miles south of Birmingham city centre). The Quakers’ ethical stance on the way they did business was appreciated by the consumers of the finished products and also the producers of the raw materials used in the manufacturing process.

Bizarrely the Quaker Oats company, founded in 1901, has “no formal ties” with the religious organisation of the same name. It just used the picture of a man dressed in clothes a Quaker would have worn on its packaging to give an impression of honesty & integrity. If you didn’t know just how healthy these oats are check out this advert from a long time ago:

http://library.buffalo.edu/pan-am/img/quaker_oats.jpg

More protein than wheat foods & more carbohydrates than meat – so now you know.

Here are a couple of signs.

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Bird’s custard powder, first produced in 1837, contains no eggs; the reason – Alfred Bird’s wife was allergic to eggs. It appears from the sign that the gentleman bending down is not asking for the lady’s hand in marriage but for her to make him some Bird’s Custard (see the little box on the floor).

In the second sign underneath see how the Great Western Railway were trying to sell trips & holidays to Cornwall. Yep that’s right because Cornwall has a similar shape. What! You don’t need to go to Italy because we’ve got some land that’s the same shape. Right – what else would you go to Italy for except to see the shape? Oh and Cornwall apparently has a similar climate & similar natural beauties. However I’m thinking that Italy might just win on the Roman ruins front.

Could I just say that we have cancelled our holiday to Italy this year – you’ll never guess where we’re going instead!!

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In the post from 18.9.13 I mentioned we had eaten at a converted corn mill; it was originally started by the monks who the abbey, in 1201, a few miles up the road. This is the view from the pedestrian bridge over the tracks at the station and looking across the river.

Here’s one of the steam engines

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I saw a metal plate on the front showing it was built in Brighton in 1953 so 60 years old this year.

And inside the cab part where the driver & stoker stand.

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From the station we made our way over to the museum. It is only small but I tell you what they pack a load of info into it. There were lots of story boards and it’s well worth a visit.

Here’s an exhibit

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You can see the Museum is on two floors and circular.

Couldn’t resist a silly picture with the twisty glass mirrors

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Llangollen is a great place to visit and we’d enjoyed our two days thus far. If you get chance to go you have to visit the bookshop (Café & Books) over the café in Castle Street. It’s massive and once you’ve looked at the shelves alongside the staircase and across the top you go downstairs and the shelves just seem to go on for ever. There are literally thousands & thousands of books and they kept us busy for quite a while – and of course we bought some.

After the museum it was time to start heading home but we had one more stop on the way back which we’ll do next week.

Danda and the little policeman jumper

I’ve just got a little story to tell you because there are children visiting and it is difficult to do anything of any length without them needing me to join in playing hide and seek or assist them upstairs to look under beds for dragons etc etc.

This story is about way back when Danda and I didn’t know each other very well. We had chatted a little, made polite conversation and he had asked me to dinner. We went to Wagamama’s, a Japanese chain restaurant with lovely food and great atmosphere. I often went for an hour before work and sat drinking green tea, nibbling on some noodles and reading a book.

We had been sitting in the far corner chatting, conversation was flowing and we found we had a similar sense of humour. All was well. I had dressed up a little for the occasion, in a batwing black jumper (bring back the 80s!), wraparoundy scarf thing that I had got in the Philippines, and grey trousers. I’d like to think I was channelling the shabby-chic look. Danda was wearing black trousers, a black V-neck jumper and a white shirt. He looked very smart.

At some point during the meal, Danda went off to the toilet and came back looking dismayed.

“Is everything ok?” I asked.

“No. I just caught sight of myself in the full length mirror. It’s this jumper. I look like a small off-duty policeman!”

And that was it. Our fate was sealed. Who doesn’t love a small off-duty policeman?

Freedom internet

The next installment of our guest blogger’s thought-provoking series on freedom….

After Freedom RulesFreedom MusicFreedom Art & Freedom Literature we now come to Part 5 which I’m calling Freedom Internet. As you probably guessed I’ve been covering elements of what most people call popular “culture” (music, art, literature). I think we have to accept that the internet has now become an element of culture in its impact and coverage. Not only is it an element of the culture here in our society but it also affects most cultures in societies across the world. Wikipedia has become the ubiquitous reference tool despite not having the reliability of the printed encyclopaedia. In the past, print had to be far more rigorous in what it published but today’s Wiki sites have only to say: “No ref” or “Citation needed” to indemnify themselves against claims of being conduits of false, confidential or potentially malicious info. And here lies a far bigger issue – unsubstantiated info appears alongside verified stuff with the result that people end up not being able to tell the difference.

The first thing to notice is that “the internet” or, as its altruistic creator Tim Berners-Lee called it, the World Wide Web, does not exist as a separate entity or area like which previous freedom subjects did. Remember his original idea was simply to enable scientists to share info & research without having to resort to paper, telecoms (telex, fax, at the time) & postal connections. There is no unique place called the internet. It exists only on computer chips, in telephone lines and on many different servers across the world. It is actually an open network of linked servers with various files which can be shared. It’s a bit like a library, not of books but of other libraries all across the world.

From that point of view what you see as “on the internet” may not be what someone else sees: take China, North Korea & other nations who severely restrict the access of their inhabitants to it. Their “internet” is not the same as mine or yours. One server owner may agree to content which others may not. These server owners then become the arbiters of what will or will not be released into the public domain. Quite simply they have now become the ones who, to put it mildly, “push the boundaries”. More bluntly they have become the source of much of today’s morality and the setters of standards apparently deemed acceptable. How so? Well think of it this way – to whom are they answerable? There is no ruling body for “the internet”, no high council (or committee) who decide the rightness or wrongness of putting a particular site up for public viewing. It is completely in their hands. The internet is an open network with no controls – except the consciences of the server providers! Comments made in print, film or artistic endeavour are more rigorously scrutinised because of the potential for libel claims. Where the internet is concerned, people can just “hide” behind made up names and identities.

The potential for criminal activity is greatly increased. I don’t suppose there are many of us who have not received an email telling us that upwards of $100,000,000 is lying in a bank account somewhere in Nigeria and that we are the only ones who can unlock this vast store of money. Why would you believe a totally anonymous stranger would want to give you a huge chunk of money? Most don’t; email deleted, move on, no worries. But, and it’s a big but some DID believe it and sent their bank details. Their accounts were emptied, no-one was caught; they suffered the complete embarrassment of being taken in by the scammers. Then there are the internet sellers who simply take the money and no product arrives or, if they’re buying, receive the product and stop the payment. And so it goes on. Starting up a proper trading company takes a lot more effort than sitting in front of a keyboard and conning people. Are we surprised so much of it goes on?

Then there are the “Munchausen Syndromers”. The internet has many forums for people with various illnesses and disorders. It’s an ideal breeding ground for attention seekers. A recent UK radio prog discussed the issue and interviewed people who had gone onto cancer sufferers’ web forums pretending to have cancer and how they were managing day-to-day. Not only was their condition fictitious but they often invented other family members: girlfriends, boyfriends, children to make their situation seem believable. (I think most people will agree that it’s one thing to pretend to like sport on a sport website forum but quite another to pretend to have a terminal disease.) People were befriended and some completely taken in by the person who was not ill at all just pretending they were. (LLM’s “Chat” blog from yesterday referred to it in para 3 without actually naming it.) There is a further condition known as Munchausen by proxy but we don’t have space to go into that one here. In the internet world Munchausen’s Syndrome has become known as MBI (Munchausen by Internet). Those duped by such people are (rightly) devastated to learn that they have been conned, sometimes out of money they offered to help a situation which really didn’t exist. How can the forums’ hosts check out everyone who joins them? They rely on the trust and truthfulness of those who join to give the site the credibility so that people can feel secure revealing details, often very personal, of their condition and their feelings about it.

In real life, meeting someone talking like this you would pick up a number of signals from their body language, facial expressions and the like. On the internet all these human interface reactions are not on show. You are, or you become, what you type because no-one can see you. Only the perceptive or the ones who’ve been through a similar experience and pick up on stuff that doesn’t ring true will see through the lies. That incidentally is how a number of these cancer phoneys were found out. Very soon after they take their details down, disappear and some admitted they just create a new identity and begin the whole process again.

Recent surveys in the UK highlighted the age at which kids admitted they had first viewed pornographic material on the internet. Some admitted seeing it between 10-12 years old and from that I think we could assume that they had done so at a younger age but were wary of confessing to that so they said an age that to them seemed acceptable. Is a button asking them to confirm their age going to deter them?

Further areas of intimidation or “cyber bullying” as it’s called have resulted in a number of suicides over the past few years here in the UK and I suspect in other countries as well. How can it happen? Simply because if one person wants to call another person names or say things about them which are untrue they can. Until a complaint is made any comment is allowed, it seems. Even then the damage can be done and taking the comment down does not reverse the effect on the person hurt.

Without an overall arbiter of web content we should not be surprised that things have gone rapidly downhill in the moral sphere as well as the practical. The genie is well and truly out of the bottle; closing the barn door will be no good, the horse has clearly bolted and we’re not going to catch it. But how many really want to catch it?

Imagine standing at a bus stop and a bus comes along but it has no destination on the front. Would you get on or would you ask the driver where it is going? Even if it’s going the right way would you like it if the route was decided by the passengers shouting out where they want it to go next and not by the bus company. If I travel from say Glasgow to London I will see signs along the way telling me, as I get nearer, that London is 400, 300, 200 and so on miles away. It’s there on a blue metal road sign at the side of the motorway. I know where I’m going and I know how far it is. As you’re reading this you’re obviously on the “internet bus” and probably got on some years ago. Are you just on to enjoy the ride? A Magical Mystery Tour? Perhaps serendipity? Or do you worry about where the bus is going? Will you get off if the bus starts going down a road you don’t like and get on one that doesn’t go that way? A different service provider for example.

The internet has done so much good in many different areas and undoubtedly is greatly beneficial in the realm of study & research, commerce, communications for families and so on. That is to be welcomed and applauded. However we will reap what we sow and sadly we’re seeing a lot of negatives. Whilst I can only raise a few pointers to the current situation I hope you can see that unless controls are introduced the whole thing will continue down the road of decline. Freedom on the internet has had very serious consequences for us all. In a way it is breaking down societal norms and the differences between societies because those with unrestricted access can see what others are doing or how they are behaving. They then press their governments for change and, if successful, their society and culture changes. But to what? – To be more like ours? Why should ours be better than theirs?

Perhaps I can finish with some crucial questions: “Where do you think we as individuals and society in general are heading in this very difficult area? Are we, in reality, just being led by the internet? Can you see any signs? Is freedom helping us get there?”

Now moment of truth! If you look in a real mirror you see what you really look like. If you could look into an “internet mirror” what would you see?

Are you who you are or are you what you type?

Diary of a desperate student

Now, I’m quite a strong willed person. I can put my mind to most things and can be strict with myself when necessary. The fact that I get up at 4.30am when I don’t need to attests to this fact. The following is a diary of what a law degree can do to a person in just one day.

07:40 – Woke up. Felt ok. Did twenty minutes of yoga and got ready for my day.

08:05 – Went to the deli in my pyjamas to collect some ripe bananas to make banana bread with. Decide to do it tomorrow. Today I will be focussed and will become the master of Land Law!

08:20 – Had some breakfast. Arranged my notes into a neat pile. Read over the notes I made yesterday.

09:00 – Did the dishes.

09:30 – Put the dishes away.

10:00 – Read over my notes again.

10:45 – Sat down with a question from last year’s exam paper about mortgages. Set myself an hour and got writing. Started out well. Felt good.

11:15 – Got disheartened when I didn’t really know how to move forward with the question. Got up to make a cup of tea. Checked Facebook. Ate a few Ryvita whilst in the kitchen.

11.30 – More Ryvita. More despair.

11.50 – Straightened my hair.

12:00 – More Ryvita.

12:20 – Finally finished all I could on the question on mortgages. The last bit had confused me so I didn’t attempt it. I thought I’d listen to the online lecture to see how to do it. Listened to the whole thing, only needing the end. Four minutes from the end, while finally addressing the bit I needed help on, it stopped, for no discernible reason. I became depressed and went to make tea. I found some hazelnuts and almonds whilst there and ate them all.

12:40 – Started a practise question on freehold covenants and felt overwhelmed just ten minutes in. Found the online lecture instead and figured I’d take extensive notes and try again later. I find the lecture and immediately tune out and start looking for things to buy on Amazon. Ate some dried figs and pecans from the kitchen.

13:00 – WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME! I HAVE EXAMS IN THREE DAYS! CONCENTRATE, LAURA!

13:01 – My concentration is broken by a large fly. I chase it around for ten minutes and eventually kill it with a study book. Also ate a yoghurt.

13:20 – I debate whether to get dressed.

13:21 – I decide against it. I eat a muffin instead.

13:30 – Finished the Ryvita. Found some walnuts and finished them too.

14:10 – Took up coffee drinking, which has never happened in my entire life.

14:25 – Made eggs and bacon and more coffee.

14:50 – Drew fake tattoos on my hands and legs for fun. Mostly pictures of catterponies galloping through forests. Ate some sunflower seeds and a muffin.

15:03 – Laughed because the lecturer said ‘argubably’ by mistake.

15:10 – Tuned in briefly to the online lecture which was running and heard him say something about ‘Prunella’s cows’ and realised, with amazement, that I hadn’t a clue what he was talking about.

15:30 – Something clicks, I sit down with some cases to read and a highlighter and suddenly my concentration arrives out of the blue and, with the help of two cups of coffee and nine cups of tea, stays with me for a few hours.

16:50 – My hand/eye co-ordination fails me as there isn’t room for it to continue operating whilst my brain is attempting to remember everything. I spill tea down my front and all over my leg and textbook.

17:25 – Still reading and highlighting. Have now eaten all the goji berries and pumpkin seeds.

18:00 – It was around this time that I lost the ability to spell or write legibly.

20:45 – Finally finished reading cases and had a barbecue to celebrate…

21:00 – Enjoyment guilt set in and I picked up my case book and kept reading til 22:45.

Vital stats from my day.

Amount of hot drinks I consumed = 21.

Amount of water I drank = approx. 2.5 litres.

Amount of ingredients I have left to put in cakes = 0

Amount of food left in the fridge = a few strawberries, blueberries and a jar of marmalade.

Amount of weight I estimate I put on = half a stone, easily.

Amount of times I checked Facebook = approx. 4000

Amount of times I checked my emails = approx 200

Percentage of time I spent despairing = 50%

Percentage of time I spent feeling ready for exams = 50%


POINTS TO NOTE –

1. I did not change out of my pyjamas all day.

2. I caught sight of myself in the mirror before I went to bed and I looked pretty rough.

3. I created 41 possible alternative careers for myself during this revision day.