Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Steve Jobs, CEO and co-founder of Apple and Pixar, at his Stanford University commencement speech in June 2005, urges us to pursue our dreams and see the opportunities in life’s setbacks — including death itself.

He talks about how you cannot connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards –  much like Søren Kierkegaard’s philosophy that: “Life can only be understood backward. It must be lived forward.

His anecdotes point to simple advice to: Find and do what you love, and never settle for less. And always to remember two basic truths:

  1. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.
  2. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.

How to live a good life – according to Benjamin Franklin


1. Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation. 

2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.

3. Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.

4. Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

5. Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.bf001

6. Industry. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.

7. Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

9. Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.Benjamin-Franklin-Quick-Quotes

11. Tranquillity. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

12. Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.

13. Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.


The Facebook intrusion

Sharing is caring
FB sharing
Facebook is open to just about anyone to create their own profile and share their every waking thought with “friends”. Everyone who uses it tends to like to share information about themselves in different ways, which has given us a range of different types of user – from the over-sharing archiver who has pictures and comments for everything, the humble bragger and keyboard warrior who like to give social commentary reserved strictly for online audiences only, and the proud parents and relationship partners who feel the need to profess their love publicly.  It certainly makes for an interesting mix and a kind of weird perspective on the world we live in today.

Is that really you?
Online personasWe don’t all use Facebook to detail every minor detail of our lives (- although some do!) but it has to be said, no matter how humdrum your life may be, Facebook does give all of us an outlet to feel important and individual by designing an interesting, online Self that projects a vicarious image to the world.

Are we being bias?
There’s an argument to say that Facebook decides what information we consume by what it’s algorithms dictate appears on our feed. After all, it makes sense that the posts we “like” most and those from people who “like” our posts be made most visible because Facebook deems them most relevant to us. But in turn, this makes all other posts (and challenging views) invisible to us, which could suggest we’re just seeing a picture of agreement that simply confirms our biases and gives us comfort in a homogenous perspective. So while we think the Facebook social media architects are giving us more personalised interactions, perhaps all they’re actually doing is amplifying our biases by killing diversity, and stifling us by telling us what information to consume.

You WILL share everything!
Facebook is one of the worst perpetrators of automatic disclosure online. This so-called “frictionless sharing” means that anywhere you go and anything you do online can potentially be posted straight to your Facebook page without you even realising it.

Facebook like to share too!
facebook-privacyWe have to face facts, Facebook is selling each and every one of us out. As soon as you sign into Facebook and accept their terms, you sign away all rights. The cookies embedded on your device to access the application can track everything you do, including accessing your private messages. (So I suppose it makes sense that Facebook would pay $22 billion for the hugely popular group chat application, WhatsApp, now too!)

A Bulgarian teacher, Salim Virani, has documented how Facebook has systematically violated our lives and sold us out again and again (over a dozen times) to make money over the years. And with the privacy change that happened from 30 January he details some scary findings that Facebook achieve from new powers that will irreversibly eliminate our privacy.

Virani wites: “Facebook is demanding to track what you buy, and your financial information like bank account and credit card numbers. You’ve already agreed to it in the new terms of service. It’s already started sharing data with Mastercard. They’ll use the fact that you stayed on Facebook as permission to make deals with all kinds banks and financial institutions to get your data from them. They’ll call it anonymous, but like they trick your friends to reveal your data to third-parties with apps, they’ll create loopholes here too.”

“Facebook is also insisting to track your location via your phone’s GPS, everywhere and all the time. It’ll know exactly who you spend your time with… They’ll know how many times you’ve been to the doctor or hospital, and be able to share that with prospective insurers and employers. They’ll know when you’re secretly job hunting , and will sell your endorsement for job sites to your friends and colleagues – you’ll be revealed.”

“They’ll know everything that can be revealed about your location, and they’ll use it however they want to make a quick buck.”

You can’t leave – no really, all your peers are here!
What the Facebook party looks likeNo one wants to be the first to leave a party – even when everyone is aware the exciting time has passed and the atmosphere is petering out. Instead you hang in there a bit longer and make the effort to keep up with everyone, no matter how mind-numbingly dull things get, simply because everyone’s there and you have to be a part of it. The same could be said for Facebook. It’s the big room you can’t leave because, ultimately, it represents the online You and you need to be seen at the party.

Amanda Hess puts it perfectly: “Facebook is the living dead: the most popular, least relevant social network where teenagers and adults alike gather out of fear of missing out on things that don’t even make them happy.”

Some people literally can’t live without FB
internet-addictionFacebook has such devoted fans that some people claim to be addicted and unable to live without it.  In fact there is said to be over 350 million people suffering from Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD) sucking up their time.

What is perhaps most disturbing, is that one in every three people who use Facebook and other social network sites say they often feel lonelier and more jealous after spending time on them.

Our Friendlier UK Festivals

UK festivals seem to be getting less friendly on the wallet and more restrictive to making our younger and canine family members welcome.  Here’s my breakdown of top child and dog friendly festivals in the UK in 2016…


Leamington Peace Festival
18th- 19th June 2016
A diverse and jam packed time table of events, workshops, talks, stalls and performances every year, showcasing local talent, crafts and causes as well as raising awareness on worldwide issues.


Dentdale Music & Beer Festival
24 – 26th June 2016, various venues, Sedbergh
A weekend of family fun held on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. This festival takes place at various venues, pubs, and the campsites in and around Dent.

The Sun Inn and the George & Dragon provide real ales, home cooked food and a great atmosphere in the centre of Dent.
A separate area on the festival field will be dedicated to entertaining the children with a number of children’s games with a mix of live entertainment as well.

The music is usually spontaneous (although occasionally organised) so you won’t miss out wherever you are.


Stainsby Festival
15 – 17 July 2016
£20 day – £55 full weekend

A well-established, intimate and family friendly event in a beautiful rural setting, held in large marquees on a greenfield site in the picturesque hamlet of Stainsby, Derbyshire.  Held in large marquees in the picturesque Stainsby in Derbyshire, Stainsby Festival is a charity event with a focus on live music: hearing, playing, writing, performing, and learning. There are lots of activities for children, great comfort food, and exciting live music. Dogs are warmly welcomed as long as they are kept on a lead and all poop is scooped.


Ely Folk Festival
8th – 10th July 2016
£24 day – £81 full weekend camping
Taking place in the pretty cathedral city of Ely, this festival provides the opportunity to enjoy folk music in an intimate and friendly environment. As a dog friendly and activity packed event, Ely Folk Festival is perfect for a weekend camping trip or just a day out in the sun.


Cropredy Festival
11th – 13th August 2016
£70 day – £120 full weekend (& kids under 12 go free)

Cropredy is a picturesque village, five miles North of Banbury, which plays host to up to 20,000 music lovers each August for the annual Fairport Cropredy Convention, a festival that specialises in music that’s all about fun and positivity. The festival has a truly communal atmosphere, giving kids a warm welcome with special events such as teaching circus skills, and admitting all dogs.


Farmer Phil’s Music Festival
12th – 14th August 2016
£35 day – £75 weekend
Nestled in the rolling fields of Shropshire, Farmer Phil’s Music Festival is an all-encompassing, family friendly event that features 40 live music acts in three days. As well as great music, the festival also features unique entertainment such as magic shows and comedy acts, making it a great option for the whole family, including your dog.


Shrewsbury Folk Festival
26th – 29th August 2016
£35 day – £160 weekend
As one of Britain’s favourite folk festivals, Shrewsbury Folk Festival prides itself on providing a distinctive mix of folk and roots music. The festival is a great option for all campers, featuring amazing music, great food and drink, incredible dance, and lots of kid friendly activities.


Foodies Festival at Alexandra Palace
27th – 29th August 2016
£16 day – £25 (3 day)
Foodies Festival is officially the biggest food festival across the UK, featuring pop-up restaurants, street food, cooking demos, wine and champagne theatre and a vintage tea tent. Spice lovers can take part in the daily Chilli Eating Challenge or if you have a more mellow palate head to one of the stages for an eclectic mix of live music. Dogs are permitted if kept on a short lead.



Isle of Mull

Wild Scotland is never more wild as in Mull.  Even in the coldest March on record for the UK (since 1962) the rugged island has been a beautiful picture of russet-brown and bracken-clad valley. The towering mountain ridges with babbling streams and still lochs are home to an abundance of amazing wildlife. And we were lucky enough to catch a few glimpses of some very special wildlife treats…

In just five days touring the island, exploring  each day from 0ur cabin lodge, we saw: White-tailed Eagles (what locals call “flying barn doors” because of their sheer size – given their 8ft wingspan)  soaring above the ridges and nesting in (“only the tallest”) trees;  red deer  everywhere you looked – including grazing in our garden and right in front of the car before leaping up a cliff-side;  majestic circling Golden Eagles cutting through the skies;  buzzards galore – often being harassed by unusual-looking “hooded” crows; a graceful Hen Harrier flying low over the grassland; not to mention the odd playful otter, swimming and diving in the shallows, bobbing in and out of sight.

What a trip!

Here are a few of my pics:

Our cabin –

Our cabin Mull 0313


The local loch –

Dervaig loch 0313 v1


Some picturesque boat wrecks –
Boat wreck Mull 0313   Icy loch Dervaig 0313

My attempt at a long exposure down by the river (- shame about the splash mark!) –


Long exposure - river running, Mull 0313

Local wildlife –

Hooded crow

Hooded crow Mull 0313


Highland cattle

Mull Angus bw 0313 Mull calf 0313

Tobermory –

Tobermory 0313

And here are some even better ones of our photo story from Mull, March 2013, where we even managed to get a quick snap of an otter!


“More is lost by indecision than by wrong choices” – forge ahead… Even when in doubt, assert yourself!


“You don’t s**t where you eat. And you really don’t s**t where I eat.”  – don’t piss on your own chips. Moreover, don’t let anyone else piss on your chips either!


“How can you trust a guy who can literally go f*** themselves?” – Paulie explains that snakes have both male and female body parts… “That’s why somebody you don’t trust, you call a snake.”


“You know, Tony, it’s a multiple choice thing with you. ‘Cause I can’t tell if you’re old-fashioned, you’re paranoid, or just a f**king asshole.” – Carmela to Tony


“There’s an old Italian saying: you fuck up once, you lose two teeth.” – do it right or pay/ die trying!


Joseph Kony

The KONY 2012 campaign started as an experiment. Could an online video make an obscure war criminal famous? And if he was famous, would the world work together to stop him? Or would it let him remain at large?

The experiment yielded the fastest growing viral video of all time.  3.7 million people pledged their support for efforts to arrest Joseph Kony.

Thousands rallied in Washington, DC and the KONY 2012 Global Summit on the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) brought together seven leaders from international institutions and the affected region to talk about what they are doing to stop Joseph Kony and his rebel army.

The KONY 2012 experiment sparked more international activity focused on stopping the LRA than ever before. But Kony is still out there.

Kony 2012 is the fastest growing viral video in history.

RAW …  It’s time to start thinking before we eat.


IF we were to stop the factory farming of animals:

  • Billions of animals will benefit from the end of the confinement, overcrowding, excessive growth rates and overwork that characterise intensive farming.
  • And millions of hungry or malnourished people could benefit too.

That’s why Raw has joined ‘Enough Food for Everyone IF’ – a powerful and diverse group of 80 organisations working together to lead the fight against the global hunger crisis.

Join the campaign… See an end to global hunger and factory farming too – Sign up here:

Day-to-day we can help… Think before you eat.

  • Stop polluting your body with contaminated factory-farmed meat.
  • Buy local, high-welfare meat and dairy, reduce your consumption of animal protein, buy local, seasonal food and  reduce food waste.


Wine faves

This is my growing list of select favourite wines:

White wines

Black Cottage Sauvignon Blanc 2012 Marlborough
Grape: Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand)
Cost: £10.99
Lovely crisp, fruity white wine. Can only be described as having the personality of some of my favourite red wines – packing some punch!

Split Rock Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Grape: Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand)
Cost: £9.99 (Laithwaites)
Easy-drinking, notes of gooseberry and citrus. Crisp, fresh, fruity and smooth.


Red wines

Porta 6 2012 Lisboa
Grape: Castelão, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional
Origin: Alenquer and Cadaval mountain regions, north of Lisbon, Portugal
Cost: £9.99
Full-bodied with smells and tastes of forest fruit flavours and touches of spice. Goes down far too easily! 🙂

Churchill Estates 2008/2009 Douro
Grape: Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca
Origin: Portugal
Cost: £11.49 (Special offer £9.99)
Smooth, fruity, full-bodied, velvety red.

Red Heads Rack 1 Shiraz Cabernet 2008
Grape: Shiraz
Origin: McLaren Vale, Australia
Cost: £9.99 (Laithwaites)
Immense, dark, fruity flavour with an interesting layer of toasty vanilla complexity. A big, ripe wine with lovely structure.

Wolf Blass Red Label Shiraz Cabernet 2008
Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz
Origin: South Eastern Australia
Cost: £7.49 (Special offer £5.99)
A sumptuous, juicy red delivering plenty of ripe plum and red berry fruit flavours on both nose and palate, lifted by a subtle hint of spice and soft tannins on the finish.

Trio Reserva 2009
Grape: Cabernet Franc, Shiraz
Origin: Chile (D.O. Maipo Valley)
Cost: £8.99
A three grape blend that has distinct tastes of blackcurrant, plum and cherry. The Cabernet Franc adds something a bit different to add to the silkiness.

Montgras Reserva 2011
Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon – Syrah
Origin: Chile (Colchagua Valley)
Cost: £8.99 (Waitrose special £6.74)
Medium-full bodied, deep red wine with rich berry flavours and subtle cocoa and spice aromas.



Codorníu Reina Maria Cristina Blanc de Noirs 2010
Grape: Pinot Noir (Austria)
Cost: £14.99 (Special offer £9.99)
A lovely Cava that beats many higher priced champagnes hands down. Rich, creamy, full flavour, not too fizzy with dense bubbles.