Monday 29 November 2010

Private online shopping

Have you seen that advert for the bloke that is doing some online browsing and hides his computer from his wife? He's meant to be shopping but it always made me think of all those blokes I know who have been caught viewing porn online.
However, now it's Christmas shopping time, and you have to hide what you may/may not be buying for the other half. A few ways to do this:
  1. Don't let him/her use your computer (keep their sticky fingers off your keys on pain of death)
  2. Always sign in / out of your accounts of the various sites. The good ones will then hide what you are viewing in the privacy of your sign on name. Quel pain....I just google gifts and cannot be bothered with this one.
  3. Set your browser to clear your history when you shut down. Not bad as long as you remember to shut down.
  4. Use the browser on your phone.
  5. Employ the Private Browsing mode in FireFox (Ctrl+Shift+P). This mode had me in caters to the porn scenario so well. However, for Xmas shopping, I hope it works. I've just started using it and hope it will keep a few of the gifts I get as surprises.
Finally, did you all go mad on Black Friday and place tonnes of online orders. Apparently it's that day in the year when most orders are placed. Personally, I could not be bothered with the masses of "DEALS DEALS DEALS" and will probably pay more for some goods, though I suspect in this recessions more deals will appear in the days up to Christmas.

Sunday 28 November 2010

Event: 4th Dec Fairtrade Christmas Market

This is on the same day as the Charlton House event so it looks like we will be very busy that day :)
For all lovers of Fairtrade goods, it's a great place to get your xmas pressies in.

When: 4th December 2010
Time: 11.00 to 16.00 hours
Where: Eltham Centre, Archery Road, Eltham

The list of things you can get include:

  • handpainted Christmas decorations from Kashmir
  • jewellery from Chile, Nepal, India and Kenya
  • crochet shawls
  • purses and bags from India
  • men’s and women’s hand-loomed shirts from Nepal
  • fruit baskets from Uganda
  • skincare products from Ghana

Thursday 25 November 2010

Money can't buy you happiness

Have you heard that saying that "Money Can't Buy You Happiness"? Is it true? Especially around this time of year when people go into a buying frenzy for that one day that can make or break relationships and reduce grown, sensible, balanced people to weeping, quivering shadows of their former selves (I am just SO positive aren't I today!).
I've been dipping into a report (Mental Capital and Wellbeing:Making the most of ourselves in the 21st century) presented to policy makers in government a few years ago compiled from opinions / input of 400 experts. I've read half of the Executive Summary so far which is very broad. I think mental capital is our mental/cognitive and emotional abilities and mental wellbeing refers to our ability to achieve and respond.
In the summary it's noted that debt is a stronger risk factor in mental disorder than low income. So for the debt ridden, money would buy happiness. This does not bode well for the nation as the recession continues and more people fall into debt.
Today the Tories have announced they are want to find a way to measure the happiness of the nation, arguing that we should not measure progress solely in terms of economic growth. In part, this sounds good since there has been too much emphasis on how rich or not we are in terms of money following the "Greed is Good" / Thatcherite philosophy. The fact that there will be an attempt to move away from just assessing our growth in terms of wealth/poverty to a more richer understanding of the growth of our culture and our abilities as a nation to address the challenges in the future is to be welcomed.
But this is a Tory government and I'm sceptical. I can't help but laugh at the comic potential of Government determining future policies by how happy they make us. Will they like overindulgent parents ensure that the policies don't lead to one mass tantrum and stomping of foot - making sure in a patronising way that we are happy, smiley people all day long. Will it be shown that the nation is much happier when they are injected with happy pills and that this will inform the NHS policies of the future - come in for your daily does of the happy drug you little nation you. Is it going to unearth who among us is Ebenezer Scrooge and who is Bob Crachit (though in that story, ES gives money to BC and oh gosh we are back to economic measures of happiness)?
Unlike economic wealth, happiness is partly subjective. Yes you can measure seratonin levels but it's also a feeling which is a consequence of our past experiences which determines how we react to events. One person can become incredibly happy at the sight of a beautiful flower whereas another fails to see the beauty and so doesn't react in the same way. What do you think - what measure of happiness is valid to you?

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Rememberance: The Sikh Story

Last night I caught a BBC documentary Remembrance: The Sikh Story which was about the input of Sikhs in both World War I and II. They were marked by the British as a "Martial Race", as were the Gurkhas, and actively recruited to the conflicts.
The documentary was fascinating in briefly explaining how the Sikh religion did not start off as a warrior one... which was news to me as I had always thought they were the warrior class that got disenchanted with Hinduism. But I learnt that they only become warrior saints in their recent history.
The Royal Pavillion in Brighton was used as an Indian Military Hospital which must have been bizarre.
History is seldom a straight report of the facts - propaganda can determine what story we are told. According to the documentary this was true as after the Wars the contribution of many Commonwealth soldiers was "forgotten" as it was deemed important for the English to think they had won the Wars on their own. I can understand that, and there were millions of soldiers from the UK who bravely stood up to the ultimate evil, but it was good to see that, in this week of Remembrance, the people from other nations who fought are now being remembered.
The documentary is available on iPlayer so if you get a mo, have a look if only to hear about the dashing young WW2 Squadron Leader Mahinder Singh Pujji who must have made quite an impact wherever he went.

Monday 8 November 2010

Comedy on the Common

Me and the old man went along to the Comedy on the Common show for the first time on Saturday. As we walked up to the Pavilion on a rather misty and cold evening, I watched fireworks being let off on and around the Common (obviously some people did not remember, remember the 5th Nov and so had to do it the following day (and again on Sunday sheeesh enough already)).
With some trepidation, we walked up to the club and went in past a bunch of "youfs".
The Pavilion is a Rugby club hut and it looks like one. Nothing fancy, no niceties and very few beers on tap or in bottle but the room is a nice size, and I can see that an intimate atmosphere could easily be attained.
For some reason, despite the copious amount of moaning I hear about the lack of things to do around here, the place was quite empty. The show was delayed as the organisers waited for more people to turn up. As we had already paid, we stayed.
In the end the show began around 8.30pm and the MC came on stage. I did not get his name which was a shame as he was very good and came all the way from Bristol for the gig. He didn't know much about London but it didn't seem to matter as he was able to connect with some of the audience and kept coming back to them at each handover...including the youfs who turned out to be a nice enough bunch. It turns out being a pipe cutter is a prime source of ad-lib comic material but being a stay-at-home mum isn't ... the MC wasn't able to create any humour about the SAHM who was brave enough to speak up.
In all it was a good night. The people in the club were friendly and good natured.  I didn't really enjoy the act one Steve Allen as he was mostly going about being single (something I haven't been for some time HURRAH!) but his gimmick was his radio voice which was funny. The second act was Tony Dunn who was a cardigan wearing Scotsman joking about genital mutilation of Postman pat dolls and his dad's thriftiness. The third act, Tony Law, took some time to arrive (it was a long wait and many trips to the loo) but the wait was worth it as he was brilliant and had me laughing so hard I couldn't breathe - I would have loved to have seen the faces of people passing hearing the strange noises he made.
So yes, it's not a glamorous venue but when the quality of the entertainment is good, you forget and just enjoy the evening. I hope to go to more in the future and hope more Plumsteadians will join in the fun too.

Thursday 4 November 2010

The Plumstead Common Road Obstacle Course

I'd like to personally and profusely thank the woman dragging two very young kids behind her at the Burrage Road Junction with Plumstead Common Road - less than 100 yards from a traffic light crossing. Here's what I'm thankful for:
  1. She let me test my brakes as she decided it was fine to walk right in front of my moving vehicle
  2. That she taught the children with her the safe way to cross the road during peak school run time
  3. That she made my tot cry out and then tell me off for swearing profusely
Having just done the rather trying run from Charlton Peninsula Shopping Center you would think I would be ready for anything but rather like the weary game player, as I neared home my frayed nerves were getting the better of me and I was rather shocked by the behaviour of this so called Mother. Perhaps being in front of a church made her believe she would be protected by a higher power...I'm just glad my brakes work as I'd be bloody pissed off if I hit her and had to live with that for the rest of my life.

Wednesday 3 November 2010


Oooooh Plummy Mummy's greedy heart is so very happy today as I have just returned with plenty of savouries and sweets. On an exercise walk last month (once a month is quite enough thank you), I passed Delhicious on Plumstead High street. It the new vegetarian Gujarati food shop that has been there for 3 months and I've never noticed as I don't often go further than Daddos on the High Street.
Traditionally, Gujarati housewives cook masses of savouries and sweets in preparation for Diwali.
Gujarati snack shops are common in India and also in areas of London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leicester with large Guju populations. I remember fondly going along to Wembley High Street to scoff up stuff or my dad coming home with bags of goodies from Kingsbury. It's also a part of celebrations to have these colourful box of sweets.
Today my shop came to just over £21 which isn't bad considering what I bought
  • a large box of mixed barfis - indian sweets that are often ghee and milk based. The different flavours are achieved using nuts and spices such as cardamon and saffron. Mr P.M. enjoys barfi so I'm going to have to ensure he doesn't sneak any out of the box before Friday. 
  • a box of sev - great for eating with tea or for a break from the sweet.
  • a box of bhusu - a mixture but with nuts, sev, channa and moong dhals. Tastes great with a bottle of cold beer
  • a very small box of sticky jalebis which are made of fried flour mix that is then completely soaked in sweet water to make them sticky and sweet. In our family, we often bought these on a Sunday morning to eat hot with tea and ghatia. They are my older brother's favourite and every time I eat one I think of him. Kids love them. 
  • some samosas and a few kachoris. Kachoris are balls of fried flour filled with a very spicy dhal mix.  I'm have to admit I'm not a big fan of shop bought samosas as my mother used to make the most divine ones (a recipe I soon hope to perfect myself) so in future may give those a miss but the other stuff will more than happily satisfy me. 
The people in the shop are really friendly and were happy to explain what the different sweets contained. It was also a quick chance to use my fast fading Gujarati. I'm pretty sure they will be busy in the next few days and I'm certain I'll be returning to stock up again too.  They told me they will also do special dishes at the weekend like chili paneer. If you do go along, take some cash as they don't take cards yet.

98a Plumstead High Street
tel: 0208 855 8832
Opening hours 9 - 11

Monday 1 November 2010

Open Forums

This is a plea to the Plumstead Integration Project and the Best of Plumstead site. PLEASE open your forums to guest readers. I think that if people are able to read what is on your forums without having to sign up first, they may be more willing to subsequently join in the discussions.
Apologies if you do so. If you do, please tell me how I can read your sites as a guest.

How safe is Plumstead?

A reader has asked me for advice on Plumstead, specifically safety in the area.
I'm not sure I'm qualified to answer. When I first moved to the area 3 years ago, I was frankly horrified at the frequent sightings of Police noticeboards about crime, the lack of transport and the very run down high street. However, these have lessened in the intervening years - either the police don't put them up or the area is becoming safer.
When I go out, which is very infrequently at night, I make sure to take my car or if I don't have that, to return in a taxi as I wouldn't want to walk back to our house in the dark. Part over caution, part laziness.
My elderly neighbour was attacked just by Lenton Path, in broad daylight at 10am. Her purse was nicked and she was pushed to the ground. The gutless git who did it managed to make off with about a tenner. However, this is not something that is unique to Plumstead - attacks on vulnerable people happen all over London.

There area issues with the area:
Transport - while much improved by the DLR, could be improved further. Crossrail anyone
Lack of things to do in the afternoons or evenings - no decent pubs or restaurants. Perhaps this help keep prices down
A council that acts as if Greenwich borough doesn't include Plumstead

I do believe Plumstead is improving. Also we are very lucky with the amount of green space round here and are close enough to historic places such as Blackheath and Greenwich without suffering the traffic issues they have - Plumstead is a wonderful haven if you want to avoid tourists.
However, I would welcome other insights especially from people who have lived here a few years in order to give the reader a balanced view of safety and the area in general.

Book Clubs

Has anyone ever gone to a Book Club? What are they like? I enjoy reading but don't do as much since having tot. However, I'd really like to get back into it but am nervous about ending up in a quiet (read: boring) group.