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  1. The boot that can crush a diamond.


    The feel of sand between my toes took me back to my childhood. I lay on my stomach staring into a rock pool with my eleven-year-old granddaughter. We found a masked crab, a sea cucumber, sea anemones, tiny silver fish, transparent shrimps, clams, barnacles, limpets, dog welks, shells and tiny creatures of all shapes and colours we couldn’t identify, and a variety of seaweeds and kelps. I have never lost the wonder I felt as an eleven year-old at the diversity of life and the miracle of how it all came about: the sheer wonder that everything we have, everything ever made, has come from earth, fire, air and water.


    Our planet hangs in a void so vast the human mind boggles. I’ve read that there are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on the whole of Earth. The universe is unending? And if it has an end, what’s beyond it? This is the point at which my mind rebels and thinks of frilly pink socks and matching knickers…


    Our planet is small and ‘mostly harmless’ to quote Douglas Adams in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The fact that this one planet out of trillions of trillions is the only one with life seems unlikely, yet, as far as we are concerned, we are alone, since any life out there is far too far away for us to travel to meet. This one planet somehow, depending on whether you are a Creationist or a Big Bang theorist, manages to support the miracle of life. Not just any life but the most wonderful and beautiful variety of life in a breath-taking landscape. Our world is a truly miraculous place, a jewel – a diamond of a planet.


    Why then does mankind fail to realise its uniqueness, its fragile beauty? When there are millions of life forms depending on Earth for their existence, what makes us homo sapiens (was ever a species more misnamed?) think WE have the right to wear the boot that can crush a diamond? Those who take the bible at face value might tell me these other life forms were put here for human benefit. What facile arrogance. If anything, we have a duty of care for ours is the species that is over-populating the world, tearing huge chunks out it in profligate over-production of unnecessary, badly-made, throw-away consumables for a quick profit: raping the world of its millennia-old resources and be damned to future generations. How much could be achieved were we to join forces as one people: put religion, race and boundaries aside, and work for the good of all, for the good of our planet.


    I shudder to think how they will view our selfish greed, our stupid warring ways. I wish I could make those world and industry leaders who, surely, have to be megalomanic sociopaths to put power and personal profit above their planet and its inhabitants, feel the sand between their toes and lie on their stomachs and stare into a rock pool and be eleven years-old again.

  2. What makes the perfect bacon butty?

    I stopped in a lay-by near Brecon some years back and had a long discussion with the mobile snack-bar owner about this very subject as I was waiting for him to cook me one. I got it just the way I like it! Firstly, the rolls, buns or baps, depending on where you come from, have to be fresh, and for me either crusty white bread or granary… wholemeal is too dry. They have to be liberally spread on with real butter… if I’m going to be naughty once in a while and eat junk food, I want to enjoy it, dripping down my chin. The bacon has to be unsmoked, back bacon. I can smell it cooking, yum. Now to the most important part. All that fat has to be crisp, while the bacon is cooked but not browned. The best way, while turning several times is to press the fatty bits firmly down on the hot pan with the flat of a spatula, and then stand the bacon on its edge against the side of the pan to crisp the edge without overcooking the meat. It takes time and attention. When ready slap at least three slices in a bap, roll or bun and eat very hot with a nice cup of tea. I could eat one right now!

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