Tony Blair and the Labour Party

Why on earth is anyone listening to Tony Blair’s opinion?

I’ll admit I’m not a massive fan of the Labour party, and it is true that if they go too far left they will alienate some voters, who may switch to the Lib Dems or Conservatives if they don’t feel Labour is reflecting their interests. However, as the fairly recent surge of  support for the Green Party shows, as well as Mr Corbyn’s supposed popularity itself, a lot of people do agree with these ‘leftish’ ideas and are likely to vote for them, particularly young people and first time voters. We need political parties that reflect the views of people in society, and if Labour becomes nothing more than a slightly watered down version of the Conservatives, why would anyone vote for them anyway? It would be better for them to offer a real alternative, even if that alternative alienates some people and has the potential to gain more voters, rather than offering no alternative at all.
I personally wouldn’t vote for them, but I would be even less likely to vote for them if they have nothing to stand for, and if they don’t even know what they stand for. I’m not saying they should be socialists, but they should offer some sort of  alternative approach, and I feel a lot of the disillusionment with them is that at the moment they look very much like the Conservatives. All I know is that they need to make themselves distinct from the Conservatives or admit defeat and open the floor to other parties, and if it takes a radical to make this happen then so be it. He may not win and his ideas probably aren’t good (I have to admit I don’t know that much about him), but at least he would be offering a new approach and if that doesn’t work (Which it probably won’t) it  will hopefully have opened the Labour party up to new ideas.

What is really annoying me about this though is that 1: Tony Blair thinks he still has a right to have anything to do with politics, and 2: People actually seem to be listening to him. I’m not anti war on principle, some wars are inevitable and some in hindsight had good long term effects. World War II for example, whilst it is debatable if it led to to or speeded up the execution of the final solution, and whilst the war cost millions of lives on all sides and was horrific on all accounts, I would say it was inevitable.  Not necessarily that particular war, but I kind of think that either eugenics would have become standard practice (which would have been very, very bad for mankind) or there would have had to be a war to show the true horror of what people who believed in it were willing to do.  Some wars will happen, and some wars on average probably needed to happen.
However, the Iraq war did not need to happen. I am not saying it wasn’t a bad place before the war, or that Sadam Hussein was a nice guy. He was not a nice guy, Iraq was horrendously corrupt and human rights were abysmal.

However, Iraq was by no means alone in that department. The UK and the USA cannot justify this war based on the need to ‘free the people’ when they continue to directly fund and assist corrupt governments, when they do deals with some of the most evil dictators in the world, and when after massively impacting Iraq and being largely responsible for a surge of civil unrest and fighting, they left Iraq in disarray to the mercy of extremists. If our government is so concerned about human rights, why did they turn a blind eye to so many other countries and focus on this one? The justification given was that they were linked to AL Qaeda and had weapons of mass destruction that could ‘destroy the US in 45 minutes’. Evidence for the Weapons was never found, and was not adequate at the time of the war. Also, whilst Sadam Hussein was a bad dictator, it is very questionable if he had direct links and was in alliance with Al Qaeda.
The war in Iraq was premature, it was illegal, it caused a lot of unnecessary deaths on both sides and the question of whether Tony Blair and George Bush should have been jailed is pretty reasonable. I’m of the opinion that the West should not run around trying to quickly ‘fix’ other countries and thus creating further problems and simply change the power from one dictator to another, but even if you feel this is the correct approach surely it has become evident that the war in Iraq was a failure on all accounts. Do you really think its better off now?

The rationale they gave us was that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction, and that it had links to al Qaeda, neither of which were ever proven and are rather unlikely. By this evidence, they were either severely misled or they outright lied. Even if you don’t believe they lied, the war was extremely premature, caused chaos and has left us in the situation that now it may be necessary to invade but no government wants to re-enter. I’m not saying for sure that Iraq wouldn’t have been over run with extremism without the war, but it has opened up a very real reason to resent the west, both for its invasion and future handling of Iraq, and this can easily promote  propaganda because it is true. The justification for war was wrong, and even if there were good intentions (Which I doubt) the fact is that the war was a failure, and the war was largely pointless and paved the way for current events to unfold. Whilst perhaps I am being rash thinking that George Bush and Tony Blair should be charged as war criminals, I do not think in the circumstances either should have any say in the future running’s of this country, and I question anyone who takes anything Tony Blair now says seriously.

Yes, he led the Labour Party to victory, but he is also implicit in its demise and  furthermore whilst the middle way was a welcome innovation at the time, it is now commonplace and no longer seems to be working in their interests. The middle way of keeping both the poor and the rich happy is a good thing to aim for, but the middle way of not really saying anything at all but reiterate what others have said is not. They need to try something new even if it doesn’t work at first, to play with new ideas and try to be different from the Tories. This isn’t to say they can’t cut things, they need to cut things, and from saying all this as you have seen I’m not opposed to the Tories personally and agree with some of the changes they are making, but if there is going to be an opposition party they can’t just offer a watered down version of what the other party is saying with a sprinkle of the ridiculous stirred in. Maybe its time for a new party to take opposition that does not have the same ideological links that Labour does, maybe its time for a more Liberal approach, and maybe Labour doesn’t have enough of a vision or enough touch with modern society to stay as the second biggest party, who knows what will happen in the future but for the present all I would say is that they need an image makeover, and can’t stay the way they are.


Lazy Vegetarian Meal ideas #9 Black Sesame Tofu

A lot of people really don’t like tofu, and I don’t really blame them. Tofu is notoriously hard to get right and when its done wrong it turns into a soggy mess of horror. Don’t worry though, for when it is done right it can be really nice and its not that hard to get the hang of, you just need a bit of patience. This is a really nice and easy recipe and is quite different from my previous stuff, if you have some time to kill definitely give it a try 🙂


Note: It does take a while to prepare, and as a lot of tofu comes in water before you do anything else with it you are going to have to wrap it in kitchen towel and let the towels absorb as much of the water as possible.

What you need: Non-silken tofu unless you actually like the stuff, I absolutely loath it and live in fear whenever I order tofu in restaurants that its going to be silken so if your not sure buy regular tofu, one large onion, a pepper, mushrooms, sunflower seeds (optional),  dark soy sauce, balsamic vinegar

Spices: Sesame seeds, salt, pepper, chilli flakes, hot chilli

1. Cut the tofu into chunks and wrap in some kitchen towel to get rid of excess moisture and leave to absorb for a few minutes

2. After a few minutes, add the tofu to a large pot and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Now dry heat the tofu for about ten minutes/until browning on a low heat. Do not add any oil at this stage, as the tofu still needs to dry off a bit


3. As the tofu dry cooks, add some olive oil, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds to a second pot and turn to a high heat and toast for a minute or two,then  add chopped onions and fry until they start to brown. Then turn to a low heat and leave them for a few minutes


4. Add chopped peppers and mushrooms and fry on a high heat, after a few minutes add the tofu and fry for about five minutes


5. Add the balsamic vinegar and soy sauce. I don’t measure any of my ingredients, but make sure not to pour in too much and try to add similar quantities of each as they have quite a strong taste. Stir fry for a few minutes, then turn to a leave heat and wait for the tofu to absorb all the sauce (tofu is like a sponge). The tofu should absorb all the sauce and turn black

6. Enjoy with rice



Lazy Vegetarian Meal ideas #9 Black Sesame Tofu

A lot of people really don’t like tofu, and I don’t really blame them. Tofu is notoriously hard to get right and when its done wrong it turns into a soggy mess of horror. Don’t worry though, for when it is done right it can be really nice and its not that hard to get the hang of, you just need a bit of patience. This is a really nice and easy recipe and is quite different from my previous stuff, if you have some time to kill definitely give it a try 🙂


Note: It does take a while to prepare, and as a lot of tofu comes in water before you do anything else with it you are going to have to wrap it in kitchen towel and let the towels absorb as much of the water as possible.

What you need: Non-silken tofu unless you actually like the stuff, I absolutely loath it and live in fear whenever I order tofu in restaurants that its going to be silken so if your not sure buy regular tofu, one large onion, a pepper, mushrooms, sunflower seeds (optional),  dark soy sauce, balsamic vinegar

Spices: Sesame seeds, salt, pepper, chilli flakes, hot chilli

1. Cut the tofu into chunks and wrap in some kitchen towel to get rid of excess moisture and leave to absorb for a few minutes

2. After a few minutes, add the tofu to a large pot and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Now dry heat the tofu for about ten minutes/until browning on a low heat. Do not add any oil at this stage, as the tofu still needs to dry off a bit


3. As the tofu dry cooks, add some olive oil, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds to a second pot and turn to a high heat and toast for a minute or two,then  add chopped onions and fry until they start to brown. Then turn to a low heat and leave them for a few minutes


4. Add chopped peppers and mushrooms and fry on a high heat, after a few minutes add the tofu and fry for about five minutes


5. Add the balsamic vinegar and soy sauce. I don’t measure any of my ingredients, but make sure not to pour in too much and try to add similar quantities of each as they have quite a strong taste. Stir fry for a few minutes, then turn to a leave heat and wait for the tofu to absorb all the sauce (tofu is like a sponge). The tofu should absorb all the sauce and turn black

6. Enjoy with rice



Indie Noir at The Islington 17/07/2015


Last night I went to an Indie Noir live music event at The Islington in Angel, London. It was organised by the fabulously unique and talented Mishkin Fitzgerald and featured live music from four diverse singers and bands from the dark side of indie music, as well as art work by my friend and uber talented artist Audrey Bishop who draws the best and weirdest faces, and stunning masquerade-esque masks and merchandise by costume designer Hippy Poppins. The night was dedicated to celebrating independent artists who explore the dark and melancholy side of life through music, art, fashion and film, and the atmosphere was set by the black drawn curtains and a showcase of clips from black and white horror films which was displayed in the background throughout the night, the artwork was displayed on the walls and everywhere you looked there was something ‘noir’ going on.  Some of the audience came dressed for the occasion in dark and gothic clothes which I loved as I adore goth fashion, but there were also people in jeans and t-shirts and everyone was equally accepted.

The great thing about intimate live music shows as opposed to large overcrowded gigs is that the performers and audience are so much friendlier and relaxed, you all have something in common just by being there and it is such a laid back and accepting environment. You genuinely feel more like friends than fans, and for someone of my height you can actually see the stage most of the time! It was a really good night, I highly recommend each and every one of you check out the following performers regardless of whether you normally listen to gothic rock or not, because last night there really was something for everyone.

First to perform was Mishkin Fitzgerald, the lead singer of BirdeatsBaby who last night played an acoustic solo on the piano. I am a big fan of her and her band and I’d seen her perform several times, but I’d never seen her soloing before and yet again she exceeded expectation. This woman’s talent is truly something else. she has an incredible voice and the ability to perform songs in a way that is otherworldly and yet totally relatable. Her first song of the night titled ‘Sailors Wife’ tells a melancholy story with powerful imagery that,although she may be singing about abstract far away characters, you feel you can personally relate to and understand. Her songs convey real and often tragic emotion and have the power to move you, sadden you and even make you angry, and her writing style is elaborate and filled with dark and thought provoking imagery that is truly timeless and sometimes even has a neo Victorian feel.
Its hard to pigeon hole her into an exact style of music, some that come to mind are dark caberet, dark wave and orchestral rock but she has a really diverse set of songs and has something to offer pretty much anyone who likes deep, powerful, imaginative lyrics and beautiful female vocals. We also got to hear three brand new songs from her tonight that I am very excited about and can’t wait for the release. I honestly can’t rave about her enough, she is fabulous and you really ought to check her out :https://mishkinfitzgerald.bandcamp.com/

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I’d never actually seen or heard of the next band in the running order before, and Sumers loud metal guitar music was quite a change from Mishkins accustic ballads, but I definitely got into them and found myself dancing along to the music. They had a diverse set  of songs that were lively, full on and exciting and were excellent to head bang to, the audience really seemed to like them and they had a great attitude.
Again, their sound was hard to pinpoint into one genre and having looked them up they refer to their style as “post metal and progressive rock” which sums them up pretty well., some of their songs reminded me of some of Muse’s better work, and I especially enjoyed their song ‘The Animal you are’ (check it out!). They were a lot of fun to watch on stage, had great energy and a great repertoire with the audience and were very likeable, plus one of the guitarists was a beautiful, beautiful man, and I’m definitely going to listen to some more of their stuff.  Look them up:  http://www.sumerband.uk/

The third band of the evening was female fronted Cherry White, who were instantly likeable, had great energy and had great stage presence, especially the lead guitarist. They seemed really confident and at ease with the audience, and they talked to and joked with the us and seemed really at home on the stage. They performed like they were having a great time and really immersed themselves in their songs, and it was great to see.  Cherry White played a mixture of blues, rock and even had a slight country sound at one point and often had the audience dancing away.
They played an anti austerity song, which although it may not be entirely consistent with my own views was very catchy and honed in on Camerons often dubious claims that we are “all in this together”,  and I really loved their song ‘Staring at the Sun’. They played a mixture of upbeat and foot tapping blues and more melancholy, angry rock songs and I loved how versatile they were. I think with a slightly better sound technician they could go really far, as the one negative thing I would say for them is that the instruments were a little too loud so you couldn’t always understand the lyrics, which was a shame as they were well written. All in all though, they had great energy and charisma and you should definitely look them up:   http://www.cherrywhitemusic.com/


The fourth and final act was Hana Piranah. She is an extremely talented gothic rock singer and violinist, and I love how the violin was incorporated to the more rocky sound of some of her songs, it was a great mixture of classical and rock and sounded awesome. She has also mastered the violin and I hear that is rather difficult. They were passionate, professional and a lot of fun to watch
She has a very powerful and strong voice, and even though she said it was her first time playing guitar on stage she really stood out as one of the best acts of the evening, and I can’t wait to hear her more of her songs. One of the three band members bared quite a resemblance to Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance which although it may have looked like a gimic looked really good on him, and as I love men in those kinds of clothes I wasn’t about to complain.
.One of the songs from their set  titled ‘Chipping myself away’ was so catchy that I still have it caught in my head! It was clearly a favourite with the audience and I can see it being played on the radio and tv, its a really good song and you people shouldn’t miss out on it: http://www.hanapiranha.com/





I would seriously recommend  that anyone in the London area who appreciates good music and art regardless of whether they normally listen to these genres of music should come along to the next Indie Noir night and celebrate the strange, the sad and the beautiful side of indie music and art.

Check out Hippy Poppins: https://www.facebook.com/hippypoppinsshop and http://www.etsy.com/shop/hippypoppins

Audrey Bishop’s fabulous art work: http://audreybishop.co.uk/, https://www.facebook.com/audreybishopart?fref=ts



Lazy Vegetarian meal ideas #8 Chickpea and cannellini curry

I know I keep doing curry recipes, but  this one is actually quite different to the others. I was originally trying to make a rice/bean confusion thing which didn’t really work out as I planned, but it turned out well and tasted really nice (and healthy!) and is yet again very easy to make and requires minimal skill/effort.


What you need: Fresh tomatoes and mushrooms, half a tin of chopped tomatoes (optional), a tin of chickpeas, a tin of cannellini beans, one white onion, crushed garlic (fresh), rice.

Spices: Fenugreek, Asafoetida, curry leaves, cardamon pods, chilli powder, coriander seeds, salt, pepper, sprinkle of chilli flakes, cumin seeds, pilau rice seasoning

Note :Add full cardamon pods to the rice, whilst cracking them open and adding the seeds to the curry. I’m not sure if that’s how your meant to do it, but it works for me 😛


1: Add some oil to a large pot and stir in some Asafoetida, turn to a medium heat

2: Chop the onion and fry until it starts to brown and become translucent

3: Turn to a low heat and chop some fresh tomatoes, mushrooms and add to the onions after about 10 minutes, also add curry leaves and a bit of salt and stir through

4: Add chickpeas, cannaellini beans and half a can of chopped tomatoes (try not to add too much because this curry shouldn’t be too tomato centric). Also add some crushed garlic and more spices and turn to a low heat, if it gets a bit thick add some olive oil and stir occasionally


5: I did the rice a little differently today. You can make really nice rice without the seasoning (will do a blog post about it soon) but today I was a little lazy. Add the rice, cardamon pods,curry leaves and seasoning to a large pot and fry with some oil for about a minute, then add boiling water and cover with a lid. Let it boil for about thirty seconds and then turn to a low heat and leave for about ten minutes I think some people fry their rice after cooking it, but this has always worked for me and I’d recommend you try it 🙂

6: Add some soya sauce, sprinkle some more chilli flakes and enjoy 🙂



Tory budget and maintenance grants: Is it really that bad?

A lot of people are angry about the new Conservative budget, particularly the way it will effect young people as they seem to be the social group most effected by the cuts.

I agree that excluding under 25s from the living wage is a poor move, many people in their early twenties have worked for several years and/or take on as much or more responsibility and workload as their older colleagues.  I don’t see any reason why the under 25’s are being excluded from the living wage if they do the exact same jobs as those over 25, this is age discrimination and its not fair to pay a young adult less based solely on their age. Many young people have to pay rent and bills and travel just like those over 25, and many cannot rely on their parents to house them until they are in their mid 20’s.  I am 22, and in my job I have taken on supervisor roles and have to do extra stuff that some of my older colleagues do not, so the idea that I would be paid less doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, particularly as I may well have trained a new person who would then go on to earn more simply for being a few years older. Of course this might encourage companies to employ younger people, and yes that is a good thing, but younger people have a lot to offer (as the first generation of working age to grow up using computers,  surely we are very well suited to the digital age and may have developed specific IT based skills without the need to be trained) and should not be employed because we are cheaper, but because we have a lot to offer the present and the future.

However, I agree with the maintenance loan cuts. Before writing me off as a soulless, evil Tory (which I’m not) please read my arguments and if you disagree please let me know why. I do notice that some people are against education cuts on principle, and are thus automatically against them without necessarily looking into it that much.

Firstly, from what I understand they are not cutting the amount of money students will receive from the government per year, rather they will convert the maintenance grants into a larger maintenance loan. People keep arguing that changing the grants to loans will stop the poorest going to university, but I don’t see why that would be the case as they will not be more disadvantaged whilst they attend university, they will simply pay more back when they have a reasonably paid job. The maintenance loan will be increased, so the total amount they get from the government will be the same, its just that none of it will be free. This may be more worrying to those from poorer backgrounds as they may be less able to pay it back, but please do keep in mind that they will not pay anything until they earn more than £21,000, and the amount they pay each month is unlikely to be a large amount of their actual wage, and will probably not even be that noticeable. Yes, being in debt for a large portion of your life isn’t ideal, but you would be in debt anyway if you chose to go to university, and personally I can’t see how adding a grand or two more to the debt will make that much difference to someones life as it is paid back gradually in small amounts each month, it is not suddenly demanded back all at once and it does not have a high interest rate. The debt itself might scare some people off, but the students financial situation whilst they are in education shouldn’t change that much.
Now, obviously some students with rich parents get loads of money from them, and some people don’t even need to take out a maintenance loan at all and some richer parents pay for their children’s accommodation, and I understand that this may bother people who don’t have those advantages.

However, it is also wrong to assume that a parents yearly income is the only indication of how much money the parent will be able or willing to spend on their child’s university education. As it currently stands (stats taken from the Guardian at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/budget-2015-maintenance-grants-for-poorer-students-to-be-scrapped-in-next-round-of-cuts-10373507.html) students in England and Wales from families with annual household incomes of £25,000 or less qualify for maintenance grants of £3,387 a year.If the family’s income is £30,000, the grant falls to £2,441; at £35,000 to £1,494 and at £40,000 to £547. It is not paid when household income is more than £42,620. This means that if someones parents earn £26,000-£30,000, they will get almost £1,000 less money in grants per year. This does not mean, however, that their parent will have more money to give their child. The way the tax system works at the moment is that someone who makes £31,000 a year may actually keep less than someone who earns £25,000 as they will be in a higher tax band, so income is not necessarily representative of that parents financial situation and does not necessarily mean they can afford to fund their child’s education. It is also important to remember that not all parents who earn over a certain amount actually give their student children any additional money, and many students do rely on their own income through student jobs and the maintenance loan entirely even if they have  wealthy parents. This is not to suggest that those whose parents earn less than £25,000 a year do not deserve the money, but I just want to point out that family income is not the only indication of a students monetary status and the way the grant system works at the moment isn’t ideal.

I’ll admit that when I went to university in 2011 I was in the last year to pay the lower university fees and therefore I might not understand how much the new graduates are going to have to pay back. However, I still have a considerable amount of debt myself and I only pay back around £30 each month, so realistically I don’t think someone who had the £9,000 a year fees would pay more than £60 a month (if that).  I appreciate it is a debt, but it is manageable. Some people complain that the debt weighing over you is bad in itself, but those who did come from poorer backgrounds won’t necessarily be in a worse position as when they pay it back they will be earning over £21,000 and may end up earning the same or more as someone who came from a more affluent background and theoretically they will not be relying on their parents finances anymore. I agree that the amount of debt students will be in is ridiculous and when you think about what you actually got from the degree it may not seem worth it, but as I will now discuss the reason university prices are rising is a more complex issue than simply the Tories trying to keep the poor down.

A lot of people keep suggesting that universities in the UK should be free as they were in the 1990s, but I don’t see how this would be possible in the UK in 2015 particularly because more people than ever before are attending university in this country. Yes, Norway, Sweden,  and Finland do not charge university fees, which is great. However, Finland has ten universities and five specialized universities, Sweden have fifteen,  Norway has eight universities and nine specialized colleges.  Scotland has free university tuition for Scottish students, but they only have fifteen universities and the rest of the UK (and wider world) has to pay tuition fees. It also doesn’t appear that most of these countries offer government funded maintenance loans or grants, which means that although the tuition is free you would have to provide for your own living/accommodation etc. If we had far less universities, or cut the maintenance loan altogether than tuition fees themselves might be free, but as we currently have 91 universities in Britain and offer maintenance loans to cover accommodation and living costs I don’t see how under our current system we could realistically have free universities, nor personally do I think we should.

It seems quite logical to me that as more people attend university and as the government issues more loans, the price of those loans will have to go up. This is not to suggest that the money is always used in a constructive way or that it is not a very large amount to pay, but I think it is inevitable that the prices will rise as more and more people attend university, and I can’t see a logical way around that. As more students study at university both the value of the degree goes down and there are more people competing for certain jobs whilst others are not filled as less people have the experience or vocational skills required to fill them. If it is harder to find work and around 40% of graduates end up in non graduate or degree related roles, less of them may pay back their student loans which would again make it harder to give out more money to more people at the same price. Therefore whilst I agree that everyone who wants to study an academic subject and benefit from a degree should be able to regardless of their financial background or social class, many people may actually be better off not going to university and instead may benefit more from developing the necessary skills to gain employment in their chosen sector by choosing an alternative path. We need to stop seeing university as the best or only way to achieve success, and start to give credit and attention to other options like apprenticeships and btecs and vocational routes.

People often talk about university as if its the only way to give young people a good start in life and help them onto a career. However, there are so many degrees that quite frankly don’t make sense as university subjects.I feel universities should be for ‘academic’ subjects like history, english, maths, science, and specific subjects like medicine (which offer placements and take a long time to become qualified in), and vocational degrees in things like event management, business studies etc may be better off as apprenticeships or alternative paths  so that those who do want to study for a degree can afford to and will have a degree that’s worth something at the end, whilst those who don’t will have gained the relevant skills and won’t be in a pile of debt. People who don’t want to do an academic degree shouldn’t see it as the only option to a good life, rather they should have choices and options with which they can train for a career and be employable at the end of it. People argue that education is a right. Education is a right, but university is a choice, and it doesn’t have to be the only choice.

Increasing numbers of students isn’t just bad for the students themselves. When I was in my third year of university I was speaking to my German lecturer, a completely eccentric and utterly brilliant man. He told us about his work schedule, and it was terrible. He lectured third, second and third year classes, he took seminar groups, he had to mark for all three years, he had dissertation groups in second and third year, he also had masters students and phd students to plan, mark and teach. In addition to this, to work at a university you have to have an active academic career, which means that as well as teaching he would have to do his own research and writing and go on research trips, whilst sticking to his own and the universities deadlines. University lecturers are overworked, and it makes me angry that people who insist everyone should go to university don’t seem to be considering them. More students means less resources and more work for the lecturers, and lecturers need to be considered in any discussion about university.

I could go on, but I don’t want this to turn into a long massive rant. Basically I think that, whilst the poorer in our society deserve to go to university as much as the rich, the changes the tories have put into place won’t make things nearly as difficult as people seem to assume. You will not receive less money outright, and whilst you will pay more back you will only do so when you are earning a reasonable amount of money. Whilst the cost of a university education is extremely high, and it may even be extortionate, I don’t think its logical to think university tuition prices can stay the same with the increased demand for them. Going further, I do not believe university is the only or even the best path for many people, and I feel a lot more should be done to ensure vocational options and apprenticeships are highly regarded and a viable option for young people to pursue their chosen career. University lecturers are already severely over stretched, and I do not feel like many people take them into account when discussing university places. I am not saying they all have it as bad as mine appeared to, but it does stand to reason that more students means more work for already overworked lecturers. Personally, I believe there should be less universities and far more alternative options, and this would lower the price of university places for those who want to study academic courses which would benefit the poorer students, whilst others would gain the experience they need to start a good career, and everyone would be better off. I’m interested in your opinions as I know many people are totally against the cuts, so please let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Articles:  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/budget-2015-maintenance-grants-for-poorer-students-to-be-scrapped-in-next-round-of-cuts-10373507.html





We need ‘average’ size models

As long as I can remember there has been controversy over the fashion industries traditional use of super skinny female models, and now and then there are allegation that the media and fashion industry are promoting an unhealthy body image and encouraging young girls to develop eating disorders to fit into the medias image of the ideal (thin) female body. There also seems to have been a rise in plus size models in recent years, whilst still nowhere near as prevalent as thin models in conventional magazines and fashion lines, most places now feature at least one plus size model who, in the UK, is normally assumed to be a size 16+.

I don’t think either is a bad thing. There are very slim people in the world, and there are also larger ‘plus size’ people, and both deserve to be represented in the media and  see how clothes would look on their body type, as well as having clothing ranges designed specifically for said body type. Whilst it is true that some girls may be influenced by thinner models and develop body issues, eating disorders can develop because of a variety of reasons and not all have to do with the desire to lose weight or are influenced by the media (friends, relatives and your own standards play a very significant role, as will various other life events and personal, individual reasons).  It is also very wrong to assume that all thin people are anorexic or unhealthy, which some people seem to believe. Some people are naturally thin just as some have a naturally larger body, and without evidence of health and/or eating problems there is no reason to body shame thin girls or suggest they shouldn’t be models.

However, neither skinny models nor plus size models represent those of us in between, who wear a size 10-14 dress size. Girls who are not ‘thin’, but cannot be considered plus size.  Girls that are neither thin nor fat, who have curves and a bit of a stomach and a cracking ass.  I can see all over the fashion world that it is those of us of ‘average’ size that are least represented in magazines and fashion lines, even though just from looking at women in the streets/shops this is a very common body type and has an equal right to be represented in the media and clothes shops/fashion lines.

It does not need and should not be represented as plus size. Suggesting a size ten is plus size is completely un-true, and marketing it in this way suggests that people go straight from being uber thing to plus size without acknowledging those of us in between. It may also encourage companies to use a size 10-14 model and pass her off as plus size, thus undermining the need for larger models to represent larger women and keeping plus size women out of the media. This almost binary way of seeing women  does not allow for slimmer hour glass shaped girls, athletic girls, pear shaped girls and many of the most common female body shapes. There needs to be a visible third option, and there needs to be acknowledgment for the ‘average’ girl.
As a side note (if any of you have read my earlier posts you will know I am quite passionate about equality for boobs, especially for larger breasted women) I also want to see some non lingerie models with bigger boobs, as it really makes a difference to how clothes fit on your body and it would show the world that yes, some women do have naturally large boobs without the rest of their body being larger.

I would also like to see shorter models, as it really makes a difference to how  the clothes look. A model may wear a size ten, but as she is normally at least 5’8 she is going to look very different in a dress than I, also a size ten-twelve, would in the same dress at 5’3. I’m not sure what the average height is for women (I assume it’s around 5’6) but there are many, many girls who are shorter than this. Short girls with asses and boobs deserve to be represented in the media, and deserve to see clothes that are marketed for them and shown on models who share a similar body type, so that everyone can see  how the clothes would work on their  individual body, and to encourage designers to take other body types into account (I would love to see a range for petite curvaceous girls).
I appreciate that modelling is more about the clothes than the models themselves, but surely the point of having fashion models is to make consumers want to buy the clothes, and I personally am more likely to buy something if I know it’ll work on my body. Especially for online shopping (places like Boohoo.com, Select fashion etc) this would be very helpful, as all the models are tall and you end up thinking something is going to look great as it really worked on the 5’8 model, and then finding it drapes to your ankles and makes you look like an old sack.

Modelling has a long way to go to represent ‘average’ women and their bodies, but with the simple step of introducing in between models who fit the gap between the super thin and plus size we can start to show a larger and more representative range of women in the media. There is nothing wrong with skinny or plus size models, but there is a large gap in between that often doesn’t seem like its being filled. I want to see short size 12 models, I want models with boobs and asses, and I want to see women who share my body type being celebrated and promoted alongside other body sizes.


Lazy Vegetarian meal ideas #7 Vegan pesto pasta


There is cheese in the picture, but the recipe itself is totally vegan.

This is the first time I have ever made pesto, and I will admit that half way through cooking it I was getting a little worried. It just looked like a strange green lump with some pine nuts on the edges and I didn’t have particularly high hopes at first, but I was really happy with how it turned out. I can’t normally eat the pestos you see in supermarkets as they have egg Lysozyme and I avoid eggs as much as I can, and its been annoying because I love pesto but wrongly assumed it was really hard to make. This is seriously one of the easiest  meals to cook and it ended up being really cheap (although pine nuts can be weirdly over priced) and it only takes about ten minutes to make! If you want to make pesto but are scared  by the specific instructions and fancy pictures, look no further.
Note: I don’t actually have a blender, so that’s why the pine nuts aren’t crushed and it looks a little different, but the toasted pine nuts tasted really good in the pasta so I don’t have any complaints 😛

Tip: Try cooking the pasta in some vegetable stock, it has so much more flavour (again I picked this up from my uni friend, that guy was an awesome cook).

What you need: Basil paste (mine was £0.50), Pine nuts, olive oil, a sprinkle of rosemary and thyme, some chilli flakes (optional), crushed garlic (I actually used fresh garlic for once), salt, pepper, vegetable stock, pasta.


1: Fry the pine nuts on a medium heat  in olive oil until they start turning brown

2: Add vegetable stock and some salt to a medium sized pan and add the pasta (I use shop bought cubes but I am sure you can make it quite easily) and cook as per pack instructions


3: Turn pine nuts to a low heat, add some more oil and add the basil paste, stir and then add the crushed garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Depending on how thick it gets add some more oil and stir occasionally whilst the pasta cooks

4: Once the pasta is done stir in the pesto, adding some more olive oil/butter if you wish. I would have normally added sun-dried tomatoes and olives, but unfortunately I totally forgot to buy them 😛

5: Enjoy 🙂



Lazy Vegetarian meal ideas #6 Easy Vegan stir fry


I love stir fries, and they are really easy to make! I didn’t have that many vegetables today, normally I’d add mushrooms and chilli’s as well (try it, its good) and I added some peas in pods which I’ve never done before. I wasn’t sure if it would work or even if you could stir fry them, but I was really pleasantly surprised and they tasted really nice, although  soy beans  are better. I also added some pumpkin seeds, and although sunflower seeds or cashews might work better they do add a nice crunchiness and compliment the vegetables quite well, but I’ll leave it up to you if you want to add them or not. I also use ready to wok noodles and they always taste really good, but this would also work with instant noodles and buying cooking noodles works out cheaper, I’m just lazy 😛

Note: Whilst I was at uni and was just learning to cook, I had a friend who taught me how to make onions tasty and we used to make stir fries together, so credit for this meal idea goes to my mate George, the man who stopped me hating onions.

What you need: Two peppers (I used green and yellow),one and a half large white onions, cabbage, broccoli, green peas, ready to wok noodles, crushed chili’s, vegetarian stir fry sauce (optional), dark and light soya source, olive oil, pumpkin seeds (optional), a seasoned wok.


1: Add the oil and thinly chop the onions. Stir fry until they turn brown and delicious (should take about 3-6 minutes)

2: Transfer onions to a low heat and leave them to slow cook whilst you prepare the other ingredients, chop the peppers to taste and very finely chop the broccoli leaves and cabbage.


3: When the onions are sufficiently brown, add the rest of the vegetables and stir fry on a high heat for around 2-4 minutes (it can be better to do it for a bit longer so the peppers have time to become soft and sweet.Add some vegetarian stir fry sauce (optional, but it tastes really good), dark and light soya source (enough so it turns the vegetables brown, but don’t drown them in it) and pumpkin seeds. Remember you have to keep stirring the vegetables and add some more olive oil


4:Add the noodles and stir for another 2-3 minutes

5: Serve and enjoy 🙂



Lazy Vegetarian meal ideas #5 Aubergine curry


Last week I bought two big aubergines and promptly forgot all about them, so today I had to make an aubergine based meal. I love aubergines and the aubergine sides you get in restaurants, but I don’t use them much myself in my own cooking so I was just making it up as I went along, and it didn’t turn out quite how I imagined. I wasn’t really meaning to turn it into a curry, it just kind of happened and at some point I’m hoping to do the chickeas and aubergines with much less tomato. However, it turned out pretty well and was really yummy, so here it is!

What you need: One and a half purple aubergines, olive oil (lots of it!), chickpeas, red kidney beans, tomatoe puree, vegetable stock, a medium sized onion

Spices: Fenugreek, Cumin seeds, Garam Masala, Salt, Pepper, Curry leaves, Hot chilli powder, Asafoetida

1: Cut the stem off the aubergine, cut it in half and then cut it into strips/chunks

2: Put in a medium pot and add salt, hot chilli powder, garam masala and pepper and stir so all the aubergines get some spice on them, leave to absorb for about five minutes on a very low heat


3: Whilst the aubergines are absorbing, thinly cut a white onion and fry in a saucepan on a high heat, remember to cook until the onions are browning and becoming translucent


4: Add the aubergine slices with a generous amount of olive oil and a sprinkle of all the spices and fry until the aubergines start to look and smell good. I added some pumpkin seeds just because they were there and they actually tasted really nice in the curry, but they aren’t essential. Whilst frying the aubergines you will probably need to add some more oil as they really soak it up, which is fine but if possible try to use olive oil as it is better for you.

5: Turn to a lower heat, add some tomato purée and vegetable stock and stir

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6: Cook on a low heat for around 7-12 minutes and then enjoy with some soy sauce