Election, reflection, progression

2015-02-14

So the UK General Election has come and gone, and despite everyone and their grandmother saying it was going to be terribly close and drawn out for weeks, it turned out we had a majority government by the next morning. Not my choice of government, but I’ll have to deal with it. I was very conflicted this year – as one who usually identifies with Lib Dem / Labour ideals, I was fed up with the Lib Dems and sorely disappointed with Labour; I’m entirely for the UK union, but intrigued by the SNP and their other, progressive policies (and I was never a fan of Nicola Sturgeon but I’ve been impressed by her since she took on leadership). I stood at the polling booth longer than I thought I would.

Though many seem to think the SNP are the reason Labour didn’t pull it off, the maths tells us that even all 59 seats in Scotland would not have made up a Labour majority. I strongly believe that it was Labour themselves that played a big part in the SNP result – their split personality (trying to out-Tory the Tories) and lack of understanding of Scotland’s ideals regardless of the independence issue. And I don’t even know where to begin with the huge number of votes UKIP received, but I take comfort in knowing that Nigel Farage, a crucial part of this one-man-show of a party, will no longer be joining us.

Onward with the positives: A record number of women and ethnic minorities in this parliament, and while it is certainly not enough (in Westminster or in Holyrood), it is these gradual steps that finally get us there.

Most excitingly of all during this election period, the Women’s Equality Party was formed, and they aim to put forward candidates in the 2020 general election. Sandi Toksvig left her Radio 4 News Quiz role to help set up the party, having decided that she’s had enough with making jokes about politics and needs to participate in changing politics. This may be a single-issue party, but that’s how the Greens started, and they now have a comprehensive manifesto and are right up there with the other main parties. Equality is a huge issue, and I have great hopes for what this party can achieve (and gleefully look forward to being a ‘card-carrying member’).

So, interesting times…what did you think of the election outcome? And is the saying “may you live in interesting times” a blessing or curse? Perhaps it depends on what one considers interesting. I have no control over when in history I live – these are the times I live in, and whether interesting or not, I shall do what I can to make the best of it.

Easter gardening

Since moving into our home Easter has brought us nice weather, and usually marks the start of ‘proper gardening’ for the year.

In front the big daffodils aren’t out yet, but round the back the little ones are happily enjoying the sun.
2015-04-05 Easter gardening

2015-04-05 Easter gardening

The back garden has been (mostly) weeded and tidied, and Wilf is back out to supervise progress. Rocket, chard, and cornflower seeds have been sown today.
2015-04-05 Easter gardening

Gareth’s also constructed a wigwam, ready for sweet peas. This year (like the past years) we have declared we won’t plant too many seedlings that later turn into a sweet pea jungle. We’ve been restrained and sown only 20 seeds, so hopefully we’ll have a controllable mass of flowers this time!
2015-04-05 Easter gardening

Over in the far corner the hellebore has been flowering for some time and still looking well, although I often think it’s a shame the flowers face downward, as they are very pretty.
2015-04-05 Easter gardening

2015-04-05 Easter garden

In the same corner you can also see that the ‘fairy flower’ plant on the ground has spread well. The more it grows the less we’ll have to weed each year, so I’m glad they’re doing well! We inherited this plant with the house, and moved them here from another part of the garden – the photo below shows last year’s pretty flowers, which will appear in the next couple of months.
They are very delicate and fairylike, hence my name for them, but they are a type of saxifrage.
2015-04-05 Easter gardening

Lots to look forward to as the new season gets going. Happy Easter, and Happy Spring!
2015-04-05 Easter gardening

International Women’s Day 2015

This International Women’s Day I shall be reading Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman.

Untitled

With chapter titles like these,

Observations on the State of Degradation to which Woman is Reduced by Various Causes

Morality Undermined by Sexual Notions of the Importance of Good Reputation

Of the Pernicious Effects which Arise from the Unnatural Distinctions Established in Society

I’m looking forward to an interesting read, and to finding out what women were thinking and feeling about their place in society back in 1792.
The text is in the public domain, and is available to download here.

If you’d like some other ideas for Women’s Day reading, here are some books by and about women and girls, which I’ve read in the last few years and which made an impression on me:
The Duchess, by Amanda Foreman
Purple Hibiscus, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson (aka the Bloggess)
How To Be a Woman, by Caitlin Moran

I haven’t read these ones, but they sound very interesting indeed:
11 new and recent books for the feminist reader – a bit of a cheat as this is a list, but they all sound exciting!
The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty, by Amanda Filipacchi
Elizabeth is Missing, by Emma Healey
When I Grow Up I Want To Be Mary Beard, by Megan Beech
The Bees, by Laline Paull
The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly, by Hwang Sun-Mi  (ok, these last two are about female animals, but the lives they depict sound very similar to human female lives…)

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

Norwegian sardines

When I visited (and fell in love with) the Norwegian Canning Museum in 2013 I bought a souvenir that came from the very last sardine cannery in Norway. 2015-01-04 Norwegian sardines

I’ve been torn between wanting to eat it and wanting to keep it forever…but in the early days of this new year I finally decided to open it up.

Don’t they look beautiful, so precisely arranged? 2015-01-04 Norwegian sardines

Gareth fried them up with lemon juice and capers, and they were delicious on toast. 2015-01-04 Norwegian sardines

Also, as we had friends coming round that day, we’d made cupcakes the night before, and went a bit mad with the icing and the sprinkles left over from Christmas… 2014-01-04 Cupcakes 2014-01-04 Cupcakes

A look back at 2014

I probably say this every year, but this year *really* felt like it went by in a flash.
This is the year that I turned 30, obtained permanent residency in the UK (no more visa applications, yay!), and kicked off plans for two weddings.

Work has been very busy this year (in a good way) which probably also contributed to the year flying by so quickly. But I did also manage to visit some alpacas and seals, see Scotland and England play some cricket, attend a friend’s wedding in Belfast, have a lovely summer holiday in Jersey, have a short but very useful wedding-planning-holiday in Kuala Lumpur, complete 100 days of happy photos, and attend a 1930s murder mystery party (and figure out who did it!).

At home we got another fishtank (240 litres – imagine all the yarn I could fit into that space!),
2015-02-01 240L tank

and spent the first three months of the year turning our hallway from this
2012-03-16 Kitchen door before

2012-03-16 Stairs before

into this.
2015-01-02 Kitchen door after

2015-01-02 Stairs after

2015-01-02 Hallway after

The garden was lovely in bloom again this year, particularly the lupinarium, and we did well with some other flowers like sweet pea and cornflower too.
2014-08-02 Sweetpea and cornflower

In the news it has felt like 2014 was full of tragedy: floods everywhere, more and more terrorism and killing, Ferguson, Crimea, Ebola, three heartbreaking air disasters which particularly affected my homeland. But the achievements of 2014 stand out for me as well: a spacecraft landed on a comet for the first time ever, the Scottish independence referendum happened (regardless of which side you were on, it was amazing to participate with so many others in such a significant act of democracy), Scotland also hosted a brilliant Commonwealth Games, and I think 2014 was a very good year for feminism. It has gained more ground than ever, people talk about it more, more celebrities declared themselves feminists, and I felt it was all nicely rounded off with the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi, campaigners for children’s rights and education for all – surely the starting point of awareness, humanity, and equality.

As for the people in my life, my eldest brother will be getting married in early 2015 and my other brother got engaged as well (so two sisters-in-law to look forward to!), we’ve had to say goodbye to some old friends who left Aberdeen, but new ones will also be arriving, as three of my friends are expecting little ones next year!

So a Happy New Year to you all, and here’s to a whole new year of adventures!