Author Archives: Elaine Beesley

Dreaming of a White Christmas

Number 19I wonder how many of you this year have visited a bookmakers and put on a bet for a ‘White Christmas’, not many I would imagine or maybe I’m completely wrong, one thing I do know however is as its more of a sure thing this year I can’t imagine any of them paying out. Well imagine my surprise when I visited a few betting sites just to see if they were taking bets on a ‘White Christmas’, do you know what, they are but at much lower odds! Pretty much an inevitable conclusion to expect one flake I would say, at least for this year.

Practically anywhere in the UK has roughly a 90% chance of seeing snow in the winter, it very rarely falls at Christmas (generally in January and February). However apparently it does occur approximately every 6 years.

I’m sure we all remember last year’s Christmas, 2009 and the start of 2010. The gritters had been out too early after the councils had not anticipated a big freeze, certainly nothing like we had seen previously since 1986. (I was 12 years old then and remember fondly the skiddy patches that would last for weeks). Britain was covered with thick lying snow which easterly winds had brought over the previous week. Travel over much of Britain was badly affected by ice and snow on the roads, and made more slippery by partial daytime thaw followed by overnight refreezing. It was the first white Christmas anywhere in the United Kingdom since 2004.

The second big freeze of this winter, due to start this week, is likely to last for as long as a month, putting the country on course for a winter which could be even colder than the notoriously treacherous 1962-63. This year however has been the coldest start to a winter for 100 years; bitterly cold winds from the ­Arctic will without doubt bring a blanket of snow to Scotland, the North, London and the South-east on December 25th. Wales, the South-west and central England will probably be a winter mix of sleet with snow on higher ground. So there you have it almost proof that this year will be a really cold, white Christmas. So wrap up, stay safe and warm and have a Merry Christmas.

No more kissing under the mistletoe!!

I have heard this warning before in the last few years from conservationists but it appears now to be a more serious issue; the future supply of traditional English mistletoe is under threat. Why I hear you say; mistletoe thrives in established apple orchards and if you follow conservation then you will know that our apple orchards have been in serious decline for the past 60 years, this has great impact on our traditional mistletoe.

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows attached to and within the branches of a tree or shrub, mainly apple trees but it will also grow within birch, hawthorn, lime and poplar. If left the mistletoe will eventually kill its host so it has to be managed, regular cutting will protect the host tree as well as ensuring a crop of mistletoe each Christmas time. Most mistletoe seeds are spread by birds; they eat the seeds and then spread them throughout the tree branches in their droppings. Mistletoe was often considered a pest that killed trees and devalued natural habitats, but was recently acknowledged as an ecological keystone species, an organism that has an excessively persistent influence over its community. A broad array of animals depend on mistletoe for food, consuming the leaves and young shoots, transferring pollen between plants, and dispersing the sticky seeds.

All is not lost however, The National Trust want you to help by buying home-grown mistletoe in the run-up to Christmas, which means asking where the mistletoe is sourced from when you buy it. Allot of our traditions we have lost over the years and it would be a crying shame if mistletoe disappeared as well.

There is so much more to mistletoe than its “romantic role”, buying mistletoe helps traditional British cider apple orchards thrive by removing mistletoe from the trees, so you are doing 2 things, helping a tradition to continue which in turn helps apple trees to flourish and let’s not forget it keeps us kissing!!

Go Success

Go was launched roughly three years ago and the overall aim was to make everything more accessible and easier for students. Specifically access to their Mail, File Storage, Discussion, Community, Library and Blackboard.

I would say over all Go has been a fabulous success, we have developed it a great deal over the past three years, improving it in ways more specific to certain groups of students. For example Health, Business School and Performing Arts students can all log into Go and see a taylor made area that allows them to submit assignments, get module updates and notifications about their course. Who’d of thought from this very first version we’d end up with something so dynamic.

The ‘news‘ area is split into four sections: general, support, learning and social. It serves to inform both staff and students of up and coming events; serious and fun alike and health and safety issues. It’s regulary updated to keep interest and to get out as much information as possible, too as many users as possible.

There are ‘panels‘ that can be moved around the page or removed completley, it’s up to you! In particular the ‘student learning‘ panel and the ‘student support‘ panel, they provide important information such as Term Dates and Exam Timetables.

Learning Services have created a video called ‘Learning Services 2010: Introduction to the Go Portal‘, it takes you through Go step by step: http://www.edgehill.ac.uk/study/accommodation/video/learning-services-2010-introduction-to-the-go-portal. It’s a very useful way to introduce you to Go, so if you are a student or a member of staff and you haven’t used Go, what are you waiting for!

Have we finally gone Christmas pudding mad!

The History

The ‘Christmas Pudding’ or ‘Plum Pudding’ has long been an old favourite, steeped in tradition and history.  The pudding as we know it today comes from the Victorians but it surprisingly emerged as far back as the 1420s, not as a desert but as an early form of preserving meat! The meat was kept in a pastry case along with dried fruits acting as a preservative. The resulting ‘Mince Pies’ could then be used to feed many people, particularly useful in the festive season.  The Pudding can also be traced further back to Roman times, when it started life as a ‘pottage’ prepared in a large cauldron, the ingredients being slow cooked with dried fruits, sugar and spices.

By the reign of Elizabeth I, prunes were added to the pudding recipe, this new addition was so popular the dish became known as ‘Plum Pottage’.

By the eighteenth century, as techniques for meat preserving improved, the savoury element of both the mince pie and the plum pottage diminished as the sweet content increased. The mince pie kept its name, though the pottage was increasingly referred to as plum pudding. Although the latter was always a celebratory dish it was originally eaten at the Harvest Festival, not Christmas. It was not until the 1830s that the flour, fruits, suet, sugar and spices, all topped with holly, made a definite appearance, and the Christmas pudding was born.

The Wish

Traditionally puddings were made 5 weeks before Christmas, known then as ‘Stir-up Sunday’, traditions stated that everyone in the house, especially children, would give the mixture a stir, and make a wish for future prosperity and happiness.  It became common practice for the Pudding to have a silver coin in it usually a thrupence or sixpence, to be kept by the lucky person who had it in their portion! This would hopefully symbolise wealth in the New Year!

The Reality

As our ever growing society strives harder, faster, further for those special things in life that we all must have, our humble Christmas pudding has not been spared. A special edition Christmas pudding created by celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal for the super market chain Waitrose has almost sold out in stores up and down the country and is now appearing on eBay for up to £250.

The Hidden Orange pudding has a whole candied Valencia orange inside and went on sale for £13.99 in Waitrose less than 2 weeks ago.

Tens of thousands have quite literally flown off the shelves and last night Waitrose said there were only 2,000 left in the country.

The store said it was trying to produce more, but it is understood that the oranges take seven weeks to cure, meaning there are unlikely to be any new puddings ready in time for Christmas, which is why this pudding has become the most sort after food item of 2010.

There are currently 151 Hidden Orange puddings on eBay. Some are ‘Buy it now’ offers at £250 and £99, and others are attracting bids of up to £102 or more.

We really have gone mad but I prefer to leave it to chance, so if you missed out on Heston Blumenthal’s Christmas pudding this year maybe you should make your own and stir in a wish for one next year, I know I will!

Electronic Waste or e-waste


Day 20“Electronic waste” can be defined as all secondary computers, electronics, mobile phones, and other items such as television sets and refrigerators, whether sold, donated, or no longer wanted by their original owners.

E-waste is one of the fastest growing types of waste, much of it ends up dumped in Africa and Asia. Take a look at Greenpeace’s electronic waste trail map.

The United Nations tells us some, 20-50 million tonnes of electronic waste – or e-waste – is produced every year. The recycling of electronic waste in developing countries such as India causes serious health and pollution problems because electronic equipment contains some very serious contaminants such as lead, cadmium, beryllium and brominated flame retardants. Exposure to these dangerous chemicals is rewarded with as little as $3 per day, picking through these parts leaves people, many of them children, with constant cuts, scrapes, watering eyes and headaches.

Even in developed countries like our own, recycling and disposal of e-waste involves significant risk to workers and communities and great care must be taken to avoid unsafe exposure in recycling operations and leaching of material such as heavy metals from landfills and incinerator ashes.

We all want to be part of developing technology so we owe it to ourselves and our planet to recycle responsibly. Manga-Fu and PDC are two companies within the UK that can help you recycle that unwanted IT and Electrical equipment. So if you get a new mobile or computer for Christmas, think twice about what you will do with the old one!

Green is the new White!

Day 8Liverpool city centre is to have the city’s Greenest most environmentally friendly Christmas tree ever to celebrate the city’s Year of the Environment.  The project comes after the city has basked in the lime light as European City of Culture and also enjoyed its Bicentennial celebrations. 

Thursday 19th November 2009 saw Liverpool’s  greenest Christmas tree  unveiled.

The tree, takes centre stage in Church Street, the city’s main shopping street and is decorated with miles of eco-friendly Christmas lights.  A record-breaking 9000 eco-LED lights are helping save energy and reduce the tree’s carbon footprint considerably; the tree also has 298 baubles decorating its branches.  The eco friendly lights are also making their debut in the Cultural Quarter and will illuminate the streets all the way to William Brown Street and the sparkling new Liverpool One development, a major part of the new look Liverpool City centre. Year of the Environment 2009

The tree has been sourced from the sustainably managed Kielder forest in Northumberland, saving even more energy from previously Scandinavian sourced trees.  The tree is part of the city’s best and greenest ever Christmas light show, with 4km of cables illuminating a staggering 139500 individual eco friendly lights, the lights will also entertain record Christmas crowds for the rejuvenated City where hundreds of thousands of festive visitors will celebrate the Christmas period.

Amongst the special displays this year are the Go Penguins Winter Trail, 2010 Shanghai EXPO display and Bold Street traders amongst many other superb displays, all in all the City despite having more lights than ever will use 44% less energy than just 2 years ago in 2007.  A massive positive step in the right direction for a city determined to make Liverpool’s Year of the Environment make a real difference. 

Culture

Heritage

Christmas Tree

Blue Coats

Lord Street

Ballbells

Happy Green Christmas.