Christmas Guide to Movies

I am starting to let myself become excited now about Christmas. When the Manchester Christmas markets started to go up at the beginning of November, I was rather annoyed as the populace seemingly missed Halloween.

I remember the days when we all entered in the lockdown last March. How things have changed since then. People have gone and the world seemingly spins unbothered, but society is a very different place and now peoples lives are dominated by digital engagement….hmm, doesn’t sound right.

I am only recommending a few movies, as the list of actual Christmas movies is extremely long. I am only mentioning big blockbuster movies rather than b movies or anything with production value under one hundred million dollars. I won’t be watching any until the 1st December, that is a solid promise from this English gent. A rich gent. The order also does not dictate that the movie is better than the others.

  1. Home Alone

The most loved Christmas movie of all time… I think. Home Alone 2 recaptures the magic of the first movie and is probably the better film overall! All of them are great films for the family. So no worrying about Krampus!

2. Muppets Christmas Carol

Strange movies. The 2011 Muppets movie was great! A little old though.

3. Krampus

A horror Christmas movie! It is quite enjoyable!

4. Anna and the Apocalypse

If you thought zombie movies couldn’t get any more bizarre then think again. A Christmas musical not for the faint of heart!

5. Bad Santa

Brilliant, number 2 carries on the legacy of this old foolish alcoholic well. A real tribute to the alcohol consumed in the festive season.

6. The Polar Express

Probably my favourite on the list and I haven’t seen for many years. When this movie was released it was all the hype due to the special effects on live animation.

7. A Wonderful Life

Not a completed list without this movie about a man who is shown what life would have been like without him. It’s fantasy in case you wondered, mix in drama.

8. Elf

Not to keen on this although it is one of the most popular movies ever made regardless of the fact it is based around Christmas.

9. National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

I think I have watched this every Christmas. Nothing beats Chevy Chase!

10. Trading Places

Based around Christmas time, this movie has an important message about money. Ultimately life is not about money, but you knew that didn’t you?

11. The Grinch

Great for kids, great for old people, great for me! I really enjoyed the movie as a child but dare not ruin that as an adult. Based on the book!

12. Gremlins

Yes, it’s a Christmas movie, and yes, they eat people.

13. Jingle all the way

Arnold sure looked like he was gonna pop when his cookies were being eaten, and apparently he told someone off camera that he wasn’t acting.

Without Leave to Enter

“Without leave to enter”

The Immigration Crisis in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is facing one of the biggest migrant crises of recent times. Thousands of desperate and persevering individuals come to the UK each year with hopes of a better life. Then there is the other side of the coin, the groups who are not permitted to cross that channel, those coming into the country ‘without leave to enter’.

It’s not the safest route to take, but thousands do, every year. The Channel between France and the UK has become the rite of passage for many vulnerable people coming from outside of the EU. It has been argued that in order to reach the UK, one must travel through a safe country, perhaps those coming in feel that the multitude of EU countries they pass through do not provide as much safety, security and leisure as the UK.

It’s been a highly debated issue for many decades, with recent politicians such as Nigel Farage commenting frequently on the crisis, recently interviewing immigration lawyer Ivon Sampson on GB News, where Ivon disagreed with Farage’s assessment of the channel crossings where Mr. Farage had stated that many of the migrants crossing the channel were economic migrants, rather than asylum seekers, with the UK being the ‘holy grail’ for them in terms of work and living conditions. Ivon rebutted the statement by saying that…

… “I deal in facts, as a lawyer” before going on to further state that “two-thirds crossing the Channel are genuine refugees – that is a fact.”

His statement was met not met well, with the crowd jeering and disagreeing with him. That is not surprising, as the UK has seen surges in migrants for many years with numbers of 27,000 illegal immigrants being recorded in 2018, figures from the previous 4 years, with 28 police forces across Britain arresting migrants without leave to enter. Those arrests come from a combination of factors, such as intercepting the migrants in lorries and during raids, and after the migrant has committed a ‘low level crime.’

This undoubtedly puts pressure on the economy. Local communities see an increase in crime, and landlords see more properties ruined by the overcrowding that migrants frequently do to evade detection and live cheaply, sometimes freely. Tory backbencher Philip Hollobone said that “these people should be stopped at the border it shouldn’t be up to the police to arrest them.” There have been multiple calls by MP’s to increase funding to Britain’s borders. Would this resolve the issue though? The seas can only be policed to a certain extent, and denying a boat of migrants safe passage to the UK would begin to encroach on some very uneven moral grounds. The Home Office has reasserted that the government is in a position to deal with the immigration crisis, further stating the crisis can have a detrimental impact on the local communities.

The Channel is not the only means to enter the UK. Organized crime syndicates will be making money on shipping migrants on lorries, on planes and through a variety of other means. Will the government fund the monitoring of private airfields? Will funding come from an imaginary pot?

The Dublin Convention dictates the processes on how to return asylum seekers to their country of origin and lays out who is responsible for asylum seekers being processed, however the UK it no longer a part of this deal. Individuals seeking to return to their own countries, for whatever reason within reason, are able to go and fill out an online form for a ‘voluntary return.’ This allows migrants the chance to gain a passport and travel documents and pay for travel tickets, if you arrived in the UK without anything, against your will, then this might be a suitable option.

However, it misses one huge point, that migrants may not have access to the internet and may be unable to understand how to go about accessing this service, which is available for illegal immigrants. It provides a safe passage back for to their home country, but it doesn’t deal with the issues and only raises more questions on how this is going to work effectively on a large scale and how it can be enforced. The scheme is also not available to those being investigated by the police or who have been detained by the Home Office. The scheme offers financial support of up to £3000. Again, who is going to enforce this, the Home Office requires that the individuals need an address in the UK, how can they have an address possibly answer this is they are living rough, on the streets? It also requires an email address. I don’t expect many migrants crossing the Channel to have either, and I don’t think many of them will be capable of a) understanding the full extent of the UK system or b) understanding the English language. This puts them at a huge disadvantage, especially if they are genuine asylum seekers. Referring back to Farage’s point that they are economic migrants, that might add weight to the argument that they have become semi-fluent in English before they embarked on their expensive boat crossing. This would certainly aid them in returning to their home countries. But we don’t know for sure how many migrants have issues with accessing government or local services. The scheme ends by saying that the Home Office will contact the migrant within 3 days to confirm receipt of the application.

Not all migrants are illegal and not all have been refused entry. Migrants can come from another country, not being of British of Commonwealth citizenship and according to Sections 3 and 4 of the Immigration Act 1971, an immigration officer may give leave to enter for a limited period with or without certain conditions.

Those conditions being any or all of the following:

  1. Conditions restricting employment or occupation in the UK;
  2. Conditions requiring a person to maintain and accommodate themselves and any dependents without recourse to public funds;
  3. Condition requiring them to register with the police; and
  4. Conditions restricting his studies within the UK

(The above is not an exact wording).

There are options for migrants genuinely seeking to come to the UK. Why then do so many risk their lives trying to cross a wild, abhorrent section of the Channel? The number of boats containing migrants crossing the Channel in 2018 was reported by the Home Office to be recorded at 562 as attempting to cross, of those, 297 arrived. 144 were reportedly intercepted and returned to France and a further 121 aborted departures from France.

Those figures were significantly increased in 2019. Sky News collated figures of up the 1,456 migrants that had successfully crossed the Channel by small boat, almost 5 times the 2018 figure. Sky News also stated in a 2019 article that ‘just 6% of illegal migrants crossing the Channel since December are deported by UK.’ This came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at the time that the migrants would be sent back, meaning they would not be able to settle in the UK. Then Home Secretary Sajid Javid described the illegal crossings as a “major incident.” The report from the Home Office as concerning to say the least, with “over 85” being sent back in 2019. One migrant, asylum seeker Masoud Mohammadifar came to the UK after being accused of being a spy and was jailed for 6 months. His journey across the Channel was described as…

… “dark and we had nothing to help us find our way in the sea.” He also said that he “just prayed for my life, to Jesus Christ to save us.” It was also suggested that the French police did little to obstruct the migrants from crossing, in line with current reports that the French will refuse to act unless the UK pays them more money to manage the crisis. The UK has already paid tens of millions of pounds to halt the crossings, yet despite scrutiny from MPs and critics alike, this is not value for money.

Jeremy Corbyn, former leader of the Labour party was interviewed back in 2019 as saying that the migrants coming into the UK have come from vulnerable situations, from worn torn countries and that the UK needs to play its part in managing the international migrant crisis, whereas current conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that if you come to the UK illegally, expect to be treated as an illegal immigrant and face the consequences. Two opposing parties, and differing views, yet the crisis remains unchanged, in fact, it has grown worse.

How is the UK handling the record number of migrants in 2021? A record breaking 10,000 have supposedly crossed the Channel in the first six months, according to Sky News. The UK government must also accept an asylum seeker for the duration of their asylum claim, and they have a duty to process that claim, so it comes down in theory to determining whether the migrants crossing the Channel are genuine asylum seekers or mere economic migrants. Contrasting the UKs asylum applications with that of other European Union countries, Germany had in 2020 102,500 applications, Greece had 37,900, yet the UK had only 29,456. What does this tell us about the UK position?

It could suggest that our border enforcement system is merely not working, that our workforce is lacking, and that funding is seriously needed in order to patrol both the Channel and the beaches of Kent. But funding is only one solution. Creating a safe and welcoming application process and one which would enable a wider group of people to come to the UK may potentially offset the numbers who are embarking on an extremely dangerous journey across the Channel. But there is the argument that there is only financial gains to be had if one comes to the UK, and yet, those individuals are supposedly coming in illegally, surely making their own situation more dire. Local authorities and local housing and hotels have frequently been employed in housing the migrants, as we see in the current Afghanistan refugee crisis the system can work for those in genuine need. At the cost of the local economies, and the pockets of the taxpayers. A fine balancing act exists in which there is seemingly a ‘closed mouth’ approach to discussing the issues that are so blatantly in front of us, and yet, being able to talk openly about those issues without fear of persecution.

Current cabinet member, Home Secretary Priti Patel said in an interview on the Andrew Marr show, BBC, that “they are seeing unprecedent numbers of migrants,” and that “there is no magic solution to this,” noting work with shouldering EU countries France and Germany. The 140% increase of crossings since 2020, as a result of generally increasing migration numbers cannot, according to Priti Patel, be fixed with “short term solutions.” The measures of the coast guard are unsatisfactory and yet the government and home department seem reluctant to enforce any meaningful and useful solutions. Priti Patel does stipulate that there is an increased focus on targeting gangs who ship the migrants and intercepting and returning migrants back to France.

Ultimately the weight of the problem will be in the limelight when it suits. Dealing with human beings in a compassionate and understanding way and making sure that potential criminals and economic beneficiaries do not come into the country unchecked, leaves a big hole. That hole I believe cannot be fulfilled. The UK needs to start to respond to the crisis by allowing more time and effort to be allocated to the issues, both of policing the Channel, and catering for those who wash up on our shores. Migrants need to be educated before they reach France, before they pay thousands for the boat ride across the Channel, in order to fully understand the consequences of being an illegal migrant, so that the system can be seen to be deterring individuals, rather than merely ‘turning them back’ or ‘having police arrest them.’  Until the government has fully embraced the situation and accepted that they need to do more, I feel that nothing more will be done.

The Dangerous Realities of Social Media

The 21st century phenomenon known as social media has swept and dominated the online mindset, along with polluting our daily lives and starting some questionable trends… ice bucket challenge anyone?

Not to have a social media account of some variety, or to be informed at the click of a button every 5 seconds of current goings-on, would make you out of touch, old and just why?

Why would you not engage with millions, wait, billions of people over the globe and connect in some small way to help make the world a better place? I can think of a dozen reasons. But wait, what’s that calling in the background? It’s not the chant of the crowd that changes anything, it is what that crowd does to the outsiders.

A dangerous, cult like reality has dawned on society over the last 10 years. Although prior to 2010 there was still the issues of online fraud, bullying and death threats, the recent decade has seen these issues amplified and made worse by the obsession with constant media and information in take. Hunchbacks abound as they slog to the local shop to pay with their phone. Who are They? The ones with little conscious thought of reality, to anything beyond the screen, so doped up on insensitivity and mind numbing tweets that not less than a terabyte could enter their minds at any given moment.

Hunchbacks abound as they slog to the local shop to pay with their phone

People suffer from fatigue at various levels. People suffer headaches, backaches among other pains. People can have emotional breakdowns. People can become mentally fatigued. People can suffer sleep loss.

When someone ignores the symptoms, they can develop into something far more serious. I suspect this is what is happening with chronic social media users. I use the term ‘chronic’ because the average daily user of social media will spend on average 109 minutes a day on it, according to statistics from 2020 (https://www.statista.com/statistics/507378/average-daily-media-use-in-the-united-kingdom-uk/). Average daily time using the internet on any device was a whopping 386 minutes. I think we can make an assumption, something accepted as true (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/assumption) that most people spend too much time using a digital device and too much time engaging… or should I say absorbing useless information from social media.

To what end though? We are only aware of a small percentage of online social media users who were subject to torment and abuse for prolonged periods when the news shows it. A lot of people are quite public, so to speak, about wanting to commit suicide and end up posting highly disturbing content on their social media pages, which can result in help being given, but not unusually will the social media site simply remove the content and nothing more is done. It cries out in large bold letters that suicide is a public health crisis which could not simply be fixed by removing the suicidal content of its depressed users from the internet. If you want to read more about the correlation between suicide and social media check out this: (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3477910/).

There has been suggestions in the not so long ago past that social media can lead to obsessive behaviour, depression, anxiety and a number of other conditions. Conditions expanded, radical groups (https://www.internetmatters.org/hub/expert-opinion/radicalisation-of-young-people-through-social-media/) use these friend sites to create and target young, sometimes angry and impressionable teens and children into becoming a part of their extremist groups. One example is the fairly recent case of Maysa – real name withheld – who was first contacted through social media (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/26/radicalisation-islam-isis-maysa-not-thinking-my-thoughts-not-myself). The initial contact quickly led to radical life changes, behaviour changes and general out of the ordinary goings on with the youngster. It was developing into a real life radicalisation, the young girl being ‘given’ a ‘phone and sim card’ to keep secret, with which she received the communications from the group. The even more recent cases that we don’t here about, highlight that more needs doing in regulating social media sites, rather than allowing extremist content or profiles.

Another issue that is overlooked is the idea that social media users can be anonymous. I do not believe that true anonymity exists online. You cannot for example make a fake name Facebook profile, as you need your number and email to verify your identity. YouTube is a little easier to navigate, but you now require a Google account to use a YouTube account. The companies still know the I.P address you registered from, they know your email and possibly your phone number, you may have uploaded pictures. Whatever information you give them, they keep and they use. This is also at risk of being hacked. Individual sites have become victim of such attacks, like the Adult Friend Finder 2016 breach, which saw 412 million accounts exposed. If you follow the rabbit, you will find blackmail somewhere along the line.

If you follow the rabbit, you will find blackmail somewhere along the line.

My point is not quite made yet. The invention of the social media trend. The sheep obeying the master, just as the sites intended them to do. They cannot fathom disobeying the digital code or the demands that seemingly random users place on them. A snake pit where the prey is in no shape to be trying to escape, just to accept its fate. If and when the trend emerges, so will those desperately seeking that elusive 200 followers, or subscribers, or those exhaustingly pursuing the dopamine highs of likes and comments (https://www.businessinsider.com/what-happens-to-your-brain-like-instagram-dopamine-2017-3?r=US&IR=T). Dangerous past trends, which have been miraculously branded as ‘safe’ just because the social media consensus is so, doesn’ tmean it is. Take the ice bucket challenge, just say its for a good cause and that will eradicate the risks. Take the recent dry scooping trend, people have posted videos so it must be safe right? What about the ice cream challenge, open that store tub, lick the ice cream and return to freezer… ******* seriously? The choking game, the boiling water challenge…must I struggle on, the idiocy is unbearable.

Being in this constant stimulation state cannot be healthy. Endlessly seeking a rush, or dopamine hit, a small wave of comfort is not how humans should live. It creates a competitive and dangerous world. A world where people will fight, even kill to be the best, the most liked, the biggest social media icon. Why? That hit, the rush, the thrill. Once they come back down to earth, the reality punches them so hard that it can resemble a mental breakdown. That’s called withdrawal. (https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-11-abstinence-social-media-symptoms.html) Even brief week long periods of abstinence from social media was enough to induce symptoms like boredom, and a sense of peer pressure to return, along with reduced mood, or unhappiness.

… reality punches them so hard that it can resemble a mental breakdown

I think I have got across my point. The systemic and epidemic usage of social media in the UK, among other countries, is at a critical point. Users have become drones who are being fed information that they believe they asked for, when in reality the social platform dictates your behaviour, and sneaky and intelligent advertisements can also dictate what you do offline as well along with buying habits.

If the world doesn’t want to walk straight into the fiery pit of hell that is artificial intelligence taking over, then this is what they could start to do:

  1. Start socialising

I don’t mean online. It’s okay to do it occasionally I guess, the issue is chronic and daily use where the usage becomes a habit which you cannot live without. I’m guilty of it, but I now only use WordPress and Twitter, and that is really the extent of my online interaction. I do watch YouTube, but I don’t personally consider that as dangerous as other sites, simply because you don’t need an account to use it.

Develop social skills or improve your existing skills by having real, sober, present and real conversations in person with other people. Do not use your phone, do not refer to the internet. Try abstaining from your mobile in the morning on the train or bus, or wherever you are in public and observe people. You will start to realise just how many people on that train are on their mobiles, sat in silence, scrolling absolute nonsense which they couldn’t care less about, yet are only doing so they don’t have to interact with anyone. I really, really don’t get this.

  1. Think for yourself

If you don’t start to form opinions for yourself, and you are already using smart phone and social media at 10, then you will grow up with a completely and utterly different perspective of the world. A viewpoint dictated by algorithm and code, where the news becomes your go to because you can’t get your ‘fix’ without that devastating ‘action’. The same applies to adults. Again I am guilty of this, of letting the internet and social media ‘news’ dictate how I feel and how I see the world.

These are the 2 best tips I can give to myself, and I wouldn’t tell you about them if I didn’t follow them myself. It’s hard to give up on something that is used by billions, is part of daily life, is rammed down our hungry throats and which will persecute you if you do not use it.

You have the strength.

The Failing Universal Credit System

It’s called universal credit because it’s designed to combine multiple state benefits into one. It is not called universal credit to blankety support people all over the country. On the contrary, the fairly new installation of the ‘universal credit’ system into England has been a complete and utter disgrace and catastrophe and proves beyond reasonable doubt that the UK government do not give a monkey **** about its sick and disable citizens. Please, do read on.

It has left millions struggling to pay rent, buy food and even heat their homes and yet, the government continues its blindfolded march over the disabled and vulnerable and single mothers who are depressed and stressed because they are being told to search and apply for work when, in reality that is both not possible or there simply isn’t work. Chase the cheese little mouse, so I can keep pulling it away from you.

Chase the cheese little mouse, so I can keep pulling it away from you

Those on this universal credit are subject to variations in their payments, so it could change each month depending on income. What if that single mother is working part time to supplement the poor amount she receives to feed her two children and then the government takes that away? She’s left worse off. Where will all the people with long term health conditions go when the lights go out and they can’t cook a microwave meal? Where does the conservative government stand… they stand aloof on top of a mountain of dead poor people, smoking cigars and waving their black flags. They are not in the dark about the reality of the situation, quite the opposite, just as with the legal aid ‘reforms’ they have blatantly lied and deceived the public so they can justify cut after cut after cut. They have hit the bone and they are still cutting.

A BBC article, Universal Credit failing millions of people, say peers, highlights the issues that universal credit is responsible for, such as “soaring rent arrears and the use of food banks”.

Labour government say that the system is “pushing people further into poverty and debt”… and The Lords report (The Lords’ Economic Affairs Committee) says “…cuts to social security budgets over the last 10 years had caused “widespread poverty and hardship”.

(https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-53599763)

The system designed to implement this new welfare benefit is run by evil little minions. Claimants have to use an online journal system to communicate with them, and at the minions discretion, they get a response. They could be waiting over an hour on the phone, and the staff have been reported as ‘unfriendly and uncaring’ at best. This is the system the taxpayer funds, and those who find themselves having to claim will soon realise that the money was literally better off going straight into the claimants pockets.

Since the pandemic started and since March 2020, there has been a huge increase in new claims for universal credit of over 1.6 million. The Trussell Trust also found a strong connection between universal credit and food bank usage. In the executive summary, The Trussell Trust state that they are… “concerned that, given the links between Universal Credit, financial hardship, and foodbank use, this next stage could lead to increased financial need and more demand for foodbanks.”

These changes were implemented as early as 2012, with the introduction of the Welfare Reform Act 2012. This legislation combines the 6 big benefits into one. Granted that the system has been going for a few years without a full transition, however, over the last 3 years, they have pushed hard to get everyone who already claims the ‘legacy’ benefits onto the new universal credit. Claimants do not have a choice in some case, most do not consent, a basic right in the law. The right to be subject to legislation is at your consent. If you do not consent to it, the legislation should not apply to you. Many people are unaware of this, and again, it’s unlikely that it would work, because the system will oppress and ruin the lives of anyone trying fight for their rights. Those who can think and feel will be shut down, and those who obey and follow will be rewarded.

The United Kingdom is a first world, modern and developed country and yet, it will not help and assist the vulnerable so that can eat food. This is something we all need. Food banks rely on donations and most of the time volunteers. Where is the food bank going to source these people from when millions are struggling to feed themselves and where they simply haven’t got the time to volunteer? The agenda seems to be to paint a picture of this group of people and brainwash society into believing that they are worthless and deserving of nothing. Reminds me of Nazi Germany, you?

I totally disagree with how this government has approached and dealt with multiple areas of society. They have flipped a bed upside down and now refuse to clean up the sheets. They deliberately skew the public perceptions so that the cuts can be justified because half of the misinformed public are chanting outside the hospitals for more cuts and to kill off the sick and disabled.

To end, the new system is not working, does not support anyone and does not help to create a universal credit system. What it is doing, is creating a system of distress and worry for the most vulnerable, leaving them hungry and cold and without help. The legal aid cuts means that these individuals are on their own, unable to appeal decisions at tribunal and unable to do anything to fight the injustice. Is it too much to ask that the sick and the vulnerable are cared for and that they have a warm meal and warm bed at night?

This has been an article looking at the failures of the universal credit system.

A day out to Intu Trafford Centre Manchester – New brands to consider

Yesterday I had the pleasure of travelling to the Manchester Trafford Center. The photo above is not mine, courtesy of Bing images. I haven’t been to the shopping center for maybe 3 years, not kidding, partly because of the pandemic. There has been closures of many shops. It was busy but I remained distant and wore my mask.

The first mission was to eat when arriving. The Tampopo eastern cuisine restaraunt was selected. The food chosen was a vegan share meal. I also had a side of noodles, cooked well and tasty. I also noticed that the restaurant offered 20% off for students, yes, you heard that correctly! I used that and it took roughly £6 off the total. There was also a queue to get in, but that was common at all restaraunts walked past. After your food you are given a small phone device to leave a review, I gave 5 stars in all categories, because again, the service was friendly, fast, efficient, tasty, it catered to vegans and had student discount. I would recommend checking this out.

Tampopo – eastern cuisine.

I want to tell you about two brands that are both new too me and relatively new in general. First we have Rituals. The shops specialises in well-being and beauty products.

“Rituals takes inspiration from the impressive power of natural ingredients, as well as ancient Eastern beauty and wellness traditions. At the brand’s core, is the belief that happiness can be found in the smallest of things. In a hectic and sometimes overwhelming world, simply taking the time to enjoy a warm bath, a cup of tea or a relaxing massage can take on a special significance. It is our passion to transform daily routines into meaningful moments. Rituals celebrates everyday luxury, sustainable measures and the art of slowing down. At Rituals, we go beyond just products, we live and breathe well-being through our insightful articles, yoga videos, delicious healthy recipes and guided meditations, shared via our social channels, magazine and app.”

Rituals in the Trafford Centre Manchester

I was in search of soap and instead discovered hand washes that smelt absolutely fantastic. I was treated kindly by staff and given multiple samples and could request samples of anything. What did I choose? After sampling many hand washes, hand balms and shower gels in a variety of ‘flavours’ including jasmine, sandalwood (not a fan) and rosemary, I ended up choosing eucalyptus and rosemary hand wash and the same scent hand balm. The image on the left of the white can was a FREE gift with my first purchase of a white rice and cherry blossom foaming shower gel. I had sampled some and had not been keen but as it was free I took it. I did have to sign up, but I had a pleasant experience in store and did not hesitate.

I will be returning as a shopper to Ritual. Great products that smell great, excellent customer service and treatment – how it should be, although that is why I love the Trafford Centre Manchester, all staff are lovely and friendly. It was also surprisingly cheap for the hand wash and balm, total just under £20.

Next we have The Couture Club. It sounds and looks expensive and I guess it is, but there was a sale on which I did not realise. I managed to buy joggers with the accompanying hoodie for £37 which included the current sale offer. Without a sale the price would of been around £45 for the hoodie and around £40 for the joggers, so total of £85 if the clothes weren’t on sale; a huge saving of £48. That is not too expensive in my opinion, because it looks good, and the quality is excellent. I went in hoping to find trousers as I’d had no luck finding my size in a few other shops. You know the average size for clothes has increased so those who are the correct weight have to struggle to find the right size. 40inch waist? Size 20 shoes? Seriously, it’s like they are preparing for giants.

Photo by: Tom Biddle (www.tombiddle.co.uk)

So, I found some white joggers with a very soft texture that look like night wear, sort of like pyjamas. I guess they can be worn everyday use, but I will use them to relax in. Sort of like a spa or sauna robe. The accompanying hoodie is likewise great. I didn’t need to try them on, they fit me fine and they are the small size, with options of xs, s, m, l, xl… basically normal sizes and none of this European number nonsense. The shops sells men and women clothing, another reason I enjoyed it, it isn’t obvious when you go in either, remaining rather gender neutral and being hip and modern at the same time.

A model wearing the set of clothes I bought. You can’t see, but there is bumpy and soft texture and it’s called ‘waffle’

The service in the shops was quick but not as personal. I don’t deduct points on this occasion. There were a few shops where being left alone was preferable and this is one of them. I don’t like help when choosing clothes or washing products unless it’s personal like Ritual.

I will return to the Couture Club in the future and recommend it to anyone wanting modern and high quality clothing. Despite the high cost, you should check it out, who knows, they could have another sale on.

So that concludes the two new brands that I recommend, not new to the market, but relatively new to the Trafford Centre Manchester and new to me. I really am glad to have found Rituals after discovering them on the Trafford Centre website.

Other shops I visited that are worth mentioning (not mentioning all of them) included a soap shop called Lush from which I bought a small but costly bar of soap for £5.50. I do consider that expensive when I could buy a pack of 4 Imperial Leather for £10. I also visited The Pen Shop, where I was gifted a lovely Cross turquoise fountain pen.

I had a lovely day and it is long deserved given the last 18 months. I also consider it a day out to celebrate my recent graduation in law.

So, thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post on my day out!

Stay safe, take care and lots of positivity to you all.

An increasingly popular water sport…

Water is essential to keeping our bodies functioning throughout our busy day. Without enough fluid or water, we become ‘dehydrated.’ Imagine leaving a grape in the sun for a few hours…

To compensate for lost fluids, to balance electrolytes and to maintain a healthy blood pressure, kidney function, heart rhythm and brain cognition, we MUST drink enough. This is especially important in hot weather when our bodies lose more water than usual, or when we exercise and break a sweat.

Most experts recommend up to 8 glasses a day. Let’s just break this down.

GLASS = 250ml x 8 glasses = 2000ml or 2 L.

Hold on… that doesn’t appear to be much given our bodies are on average around 55% to 60% water. Most of that in the blood, liver and kidneys.

See the source image

Let’s crank it up to 300ml. = x 8 glasses = 2400ml or 2.4 L. Again, not much.

Normal daily fluid loss in healthy people is supposedly around 650ml.

2000ml – 650ml = 1350ml

From the picture above, it is easy to see how dehydration impacts the body. Your kidneys will be strained and they try to maintain electrolyte and blood pressure levels. The liver will become sluggish and will not be able to work or filter toxins effectively and the blood will ‘thicken’ or become harder to pump making your heart work harder.

The cure? Surely you need more water.

“I am thirsty, I need a drink.”

“Here’s some cold tap water.”

This is what would have once been the norm for the thirsty. The kids who used to drink water at lunch and dinner rather than the sugar and soda fest that occupies most households and restaurants nowadays. Would you let someone who is dehydrated drink fizzy soda rather than water?

You decide to bulk purchase a big 24 crate of still water – ‘mountain p*** for idiots’ (a fake made up company for this post).

The family is sitting around the table for a roast dinner. You surprise them by telling them you have bought the finest mountain spring water in the country. You decide you are more sophisticated than the average ‘cock (coke) at dinner drinker’ and decide to pour your family a glass of the water. They all hesitate but after you reassure them this mountain p*** is the best, they gulp it down, and ask for more.

Soon, you can’t buy enough of this stuff, and it only cost 20p a bottle – you prefer glass bottles as you want to look impressive to your coking neighbours. The recycling bin has never has so much use, your neighbours are tripping over their garden fences to see what you are dumping in those bins…again! One day, you roll up to your driveway, a trunk of not three, but four cases of this still mountain p*** and begin to unload. You don’t mind the aching arms or the shriveling skin around your neck. You are eager to give this family the best water. Not the peasant tap water or the sugar laced cock cans.

You take it slowly, unloading the bottles into the fridge in the garage. You decide to examine with pride the bottle. Your eyes are drawn to the label at the bottom. Your world has just been crushed, the bottle is slipping from your grasp, but the tears weltering in your eyes literally blinds you are you smash it on the floor.

The bottle is made by the same company that makes the soda, the biggest soda company in the world. Enraged, you hop onto the computer to check mountain p*** and the company name on the bottle. The site confirms it, lots of those diabetic and dehydrated soda drinkers back this company, and this company has created some of the largest water brands in the world. Mountain p*** being the most popular and the cheapest. They have other soft drinks, like orange juice and fruit juices.

The big brand that sells the sugary fizzy drinks is in fact selling these healthy drinks; thus, the profits are funding the large stakeholder, the dangerous drinks. The water brand is a front and you and millions of others have been deceived.

21st century, spring, still, sparkling and an assortment of flavoured waters with toxic additives and flavourings and sweeteners have been added to the market. The bottle waters are over priced and the majority have things added.

The term natural in the water world has no meaning anymore. The only way to truly guarantee safe and clean spring water is to test it yourself. You will probably find that bigger brands are allowed a ‘certain level’ of harmful bacteria in their waters and that bottled water is safer and much better for people.

It doesn’t matter how it is packaged. Water is water. Hyping a natural substance to be more than, when in fact is less than good quality is beyond reason. Granted, a glass of sparkling water with ice in the sun is refreshing. On top of that, the companies have total disregard for public waste, the billions of plastic bottles from these companies will take millennium to remove and clear. Their excuse for not using glass, albeit some do and others use tin, is that the cost of glass bottles is higher. Interesting, your bonus last year could have covered the difference and for a better cause.

Given that companies and advertising agencies are intent on pushing these expensive products on us, they could at least have the decency to tell us what those natural ‘flavourings’ are, because they could be anything. Third world countries have had masses of land and natural resources stolen from them, Bolivia for example. The water is bought by huge multinational countries who build damns, block water to local towns and instead divert and send it to the first world countries. If that isn’t good enough to avoid buying these products, then what is?

If the world is thirsty then give it a drink.

A Vegan Diet – Benefits!

It’s the 21st century and the popularity of the vegan diet has soared. Over the last 20, or indeed 10 years, there has been an explosions of vegan cafes and restaurants cropping up over the world.

The increasingly hip, cool and hot topic of veganism has attracted many a person far and wide. But, what does the meat and animal produce industry continue to tell us? What is being taught in schools worldwide? They are continuing to tell us to eat meat, pull the wool over our eyes and ignore the mass genocide of animals that happens each and every day in every country in the world.

Veganism has gained attention due to the supposedly massive health-benefits, the environmental impact and cultural and lifestyle shifts that have flooded the consciousness since technology advanced and it became cool to post about that quinoa burger or lentil soup.

Of course, moving away from supporting the meat and animals slaughter industry is hard, deliberately so. Today it costs more to eat vegan products than it does meat…go figure that out! What I suspect and many others also suspect, is that the rise of the vegan has been a pain in the ass for the big cows at the corporate headquarters.

Seriously, though, do you want to eat a diseased cow, locked in a shed, sick, stressed and pumped full of hormones or do you want to eat something else that eradicates the need for mindless killing? Strong points, but the war is in full swing.

So, here are some benefits of turning to a vegan diet!

  1. A vegan diet is loaded with nutrients: Animal products cause inflammation and disease with little to justify that. Plant based or vegan diets are loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals and generally support the body to function at its best. With a better functioning body, there is time for the organs to heal and for the brain and soul to begin to function clearly and effective.
  2. Weight loss: Meat an dairy contribute to increased cholesterol and weight gain. Meat also increases blood pressure, decreases mental awareness and lowers our energy levels. A nutrient-rich diet with high fiber (Don’t forget the b12) can increase energy levels, mental alertness and contribute and even cause weight loss.
  3. Lower blood sugar levels: Some studies have found that the increased fiber and nutrients improve blood sugar levels more than medication. This will in turn lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
  4. Reduce the risk of cancer: Cutting out toxins and inflammatory promoting foods like dairy and meat can give the body more energy to protect itself. By adding those plant power foods, our bodies antioxidant capacity increases and our bodies begin to eliminate any and all toxins (they won’t remove them all). This may in turn reduce the risk of cancers as the body has the correct nutrition to find and kill these mutated cells.
  5. Improved mood: Naturally all that new energy and the building happiness and lightness that accompanies a vegan diet will lead to an increased sense of happiness and the feeling that you are more conscious. Why? Because those animal products have decreased your body functions and increased mental fatigue, brain fog and depression through the toxins and dangerous compounds within them.

So, with the amount of cattle exceeding the population of the human race and the food they require being able to feed the world 10 times over (you see, it’s bad), and the fact that they are degraded and tortured before death, leaves nothing for defence of the corporate bullies that are lying to us and our children.

You don’t need animal products, but you are more than welcome to indulge and live that lifestyle. The vegan life pushes it onto others which I disagree with.

You have to want to change in order to change.

Namaste.

Migraine Treatment & Prevention _ From A Sufferer

Migraine, classified as a primary headache disorder. Triggered by mere light, sound, smells, emotions, hunger, lack of sleep and tension along with many others. As a sufferer since childhood, I have learnt to live with these experiences, although mine have always been of the aura type without the head pain in most cases, but pain is a problem nonetheless.

I am going to share some natural remedies along with some other tips that may or may not help you. I can’t be liable if it doesn’t help you!

Supplements: The list is endless, but for migraine, specific ‘extras’ can help. Magnesium for muscle relaxation, vitamin C (works to stop a migraine in its tracks for me sometimes), vitamin d, b vitamin complex (all b vitamins at once) and green tea (caffeinated).

Exercise: It may seem counter intuitive, but walking, or cycling can help increase blood circulation, so after taking a supplement go for a walk. I’ve been in the midst of terrible aura before and forced myself to go out, it worked! I got back feeling much better! If you are in so much pain, don’t push yourself.

Sleep: I don’t use this option much, because it can be bad to sleep all the time. But, if you are out of options and are desperate, then maybe go lie down in a dark room. I did this, shutting my eyes and within half hour had the energy to get some remedies!

Food and Water: How many times I’ve had a migraine, and then eaten and drank some water and felt immediately better? A LOT. Food is essential energy, get it straight away, and make the meal light! Banana and water, cheese and crackers, you can have anything. I’m not a believer in food triggers, which brings me to the last point.

Exposure: Live with migraine, and just ignore it. I have struggled immensely with this condition, and yes I have avoided so called food ‘triggers’ but ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Over time, your body will adapt, and the so called ‘triggers’ will not affect you any longer.

All these suggestions are remedies and treatments. The order doesn’t matter. Although, food at the beginning of the attack is essential!

Psychopathy

‘Psychopathy, sometimes considered synonymous with sociopathy, is traditionally defined as a personality disorder, characterized by persistent antisocial behavior, impaired empathy and remorse, and bold, disinhibited, egotistical traits. Different conceptions of psychopathy have been used throughout history. These conceptions are only partly overlapping and may sometimes be contradictory.’

This is Wikipedia’s definition, and most likely one used by many institutions. Of course psychopathy is complex and out of my limited range of true understanding, or is it? I want to try and share my thoughts on this condition, in particular how the structure of society has created psychopathy unintentionally.

Firstly what causes this disorder?

Some causes of deviance include poverty, mental illness, learned behaviors and possibly even inherited traits.

So…

Deviant behavior is caused by complex interactions of psychological, sociological, economic and biological forces that encourage individuals to rebel against societal norms.

This disorder could be the result of constant pressure in life to be normal, it could be from the fact that there is no such thing as normal and these people have realised it and given up. Personally, I believe the monetary system and all the other rules and regulations in place have unintentionally created this condition, as humans we in our nature cannot be so controlled without consequence. Although the world is headed into a very controlled future where things are always by the rules and everyone has to be the same and all diseases will be considered disgraceful to society, how does this create a psychopath? It could be down to the fact humans, including themselves are feeling like aliens and that they shouldn’t have to care if the system doesn’t care about them or the individual behaviour.

It’s complex but when I hear anyone mention psycho in a conversation, it usually leads to predictable prejudice and insulting comments about these people being dangerous and abnormal. Yes, they can be because they lack normal emotions and empathy, but really if we continue to treat them like this then how can they even begin to imagine getting to a better place in the eye of society? We all need to open our minds and comprehend that they are still human and are putting up such a defence they make themselves seem incapable of any sort of remission.

We are all guilty of psychopathic tendencies, we all lie now and again, some more than others and compulsively yet are somehow normal, we all manipulate to get our own way, like psychos, we all feel emotionless at times, like psychos, we all have dreams of being better off or desiring something that is merely fantasy.

This could be a call out to the world, but we need to really start to change our perception and the way the world works before trying to treat a condition that I believe is the direct result of its workings, or failings.

How To Preserve Brain Function

Inside your skull is a network of billions, no, trillions of little cells called neurons. All firing at every second, they all keep you alive, and they all serve an important function. But with great responsibility comes a downside, these cells are constantly dying by a process called apoptosis, and constantly regenerating, a process that causes ageing over time.

Your brain is one hell of a hungry machine, consuming the most energy in the entire body, and it needs a constant supply in order to function well.

Now, the brain is extremely protected from damage and from toxic substances and pollutants. But sometimes, the brain becomes overwhelmed with the constant overload of poison we put into our bodies, in turn we need to take a step back and try to clear some of that junk out and in turn aid the healing process. Otherwise, we are possibly subject to brain fog, headaches, memory anomalies, confusion and even degenerative diseases such as dementia. So follow some of these tips to keep your brain healthy!

1) Avoid Drugs, Alcohol and Caffeine.

This should be common sense, but these 3 things are not only detrimental to brain health, but also to the entire body when consumed regularly. When I say drugs, I am referring to those things such as cannabis, cocaine and tobacco, all of which mess with brain chemistry, creating a viscous addiction, and once hooked you cannot simply stop, because you have programmed your own brain to want and need these things. Think about it, it will cause you to become depressed without them, and possibly delusional with them. Not very good for mental well being, a key factor in preserving brain function.

2) Reading & Writing

Do you read a book often? When was the last time you actually read anything substantial? You need to use the meat in your head if you want to keep it, that means reading, and doing it regularly. Just the simple act of sitting quietly and focusing on a story is a form of meditation, a good way to relax and unwind and in turn lower stress. Incorporate some crosswords and write letters rather than typing emails, as you engage more parts of you brain by using a pen. Both these things help maintain cognitive sharpness and improve memory, as you read more you will find it easier to remember details about the story and everything else in your life.

3) Cardio 

Every time you walk, run, swim or jog, you are increasing your heart rate and boosting blood flow to the brain. This is when more nutrients and oxygen are delivered, because as mentioned before the brain needs a constant supply of energy, and even more energy is needed for exercise. During a run, your brain releases a concoction of chemicals. Some of these are endorphin’s, which give you a runner high, and provide stress relief. But a greater benefit is that neurogenesis is increased during the run as well, where brain stem cells are created more easily. This is the perfect reason to exercise, it guarantees your brain will have an extra edge, and it will have more neurons!

4) Herbs

For thousands of years people have used mother nature to heal themselves, but as time has gone on, we have moved – it seems – almost entirely towards modern medicine, which has some very questionable practices and usually, the medications have dangerous side effects. If you have herbs regularly, then make them the right herbs, as these have definitive benefits for the entire body: Turmeric – this is bright orange in colour when ground and has been shown in studies to reduce amyloid beta collection in the brain, the deposits responsible for Alzheimer. It has also shown to increase neurogenesis in rats. Cayenne – this stimulates the heart and blood vessels to ensure a healthy circulatory system, this in turn can prevent heart attack and stroke. Ginger – the substance Gingerol is responsible for the health benefits, ginger has been shown to potentially lower LDL cholesterol, the main type that is said to increase risk of cardiovascular disease. It also helps nausea and indigestion. Green tea – the caffeine content is low, and green tea has shown promise for the following  : Diabetes, Heart Disease, Esophageal Cancer, Cholesterol, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, Tooth Decay and Blood Pressure.

5) Fasting

By fasting you force your body to enter a state of burning fat, and once this process starts you begin to heal from within. If you constantly eat or constantly eat too many carbs, then you will feel great after even a short 12 hour fast. During the fast, your brain relies on ketones to function, and it can function very well on them, despite the claims that we need constant carbs otherwise we die. While it is true that the brain needs constant energy, the energy can be sourced from the liver when we need it. The same changes that occur in the brain during fasting mimic the changes that occur with regular exercise — both increase the production of neurotrophic factors, and promote the growth of neurons, the connection between neurons, and strengthen the synapses.

 

So, try to use these tips to keep sharp, and if you have anything you personally use, then feel free to comment.