Monday, October 31, 2005

25 hours a day, every day please!

Here in the UK the clocks were put back on Saturday. Effectively we had an extra hour.

Sunday mornings are usually manic in our household as we try to have a lie-in (but not too much) and get ready for church. Well, yesterday, despite husband having to drive to Gatwick to make an unexpected pick-up (his brother lost the car keys while on holiday in Florida), son and I actually managed to get things done.

We even managed to get on the bus and got to church on time!

So having an extra hour a day does help. The problem is: we can't have this extra hour every day.

And then we lose that hour come summer.

You win some, you lose some.

Back to Organic-Ally.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Farmers' Market 2 and plastic bags

We managed to get back to the Farmers' Market this last weekend (see previous post).

Some of the prices were crazy. We got a large punnet of Egremont Russet apples for £1.50. Husband didn't mind the £1.50 but was thrilled that they were ER apples. We asked the stallholder to just tip the apples into our organic cotton string bag, which he did, and he was able to re-use his pl_stic punnet.

Later on we saw another stallholder tip a punnet of pears into a pla_tic bag another shopper had brought with her. Further along another lady shopper told the butcher, 'No, no, I've got my own bags.' She had a lovely wicker basket and several 'long life' pl_stic bags. At the baker's, he simply wrapped up our loaf in recycled paper and put it into the string bag I was holding open. None of that 'Would you like a plas_ic bag?' business.

I was really encouraged to see how in the space of a few minutes we could observe several people consciously doing their bit for the environment. It takes effort to clean out bags and to remember to carry those out with us. The sooner we make it a habit, the better.

Last stop, our soup man. He was there. Son wanted his soup. Again, my tiffin carrier came in handy. Soup man filled all three compartments with soup. Again, there was much curiosity -- and approval. No foam or pla_tic containers this time. Neat.

Back to Organic-Ally.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Child-friendly=family-friendly restaurants?

While on holiday I could not help but notice how much space some restaurants have 'invested' in play areas. One restaurant we went to had a space that could easily take another 35 to 40 diners devoted to children. They had built a wonderful obstacle course and soft play area that my son kept wanting to return to.

When I first worked in the UK the only children we saw at restaurants were Chinese ones, in one particular Chinese restaurant. There was, and still is, no play area for the children. Children were expected to sit quietly during the meal and ate just like adults.

The only distraction was a fish tank.

My own childhood experience of restaurants was just like that. We sat at huge round tables. We sat and made polite conversation. We sat and answered questions by relations we do not recognize at wedding banquets, etc. We sat and ate what the adults ate. When we got bored we were taken to the aquarium to watch the fishes.

Some restaurants have other types of fish tanks. Occasionally a member of kitchen staff would appear with a net, scoop up a fish from the tank, show it to the person who ordered fish, and return to the kitchen. Twenty minutes later we would have succulent steamed fish on the table.

In recent years I've noticed a movement towards more children being taken to meals at restaurants and pubs. The Italian pizza/pasta outlets seem most open to having young kids about. Colouring pencils/crayons and pictures/puzzles became a standard even at department store restaurants. Balloons are a hot favourite. One pub-restaurant near us thrives on being children-friendly. It is also my son's favourite.

But the noise level is horrendous for those not used to children.

I am not sure the whole idea of taking children to a restaurant is so that they could run wild in a soft play area while grown-ups eat and struggle to have a decent conversation amidst all that noise. While I appreciate distractions that would keep my son happy, I am not sure I like him disappearing between courses to play with new-found friends.

And what do children eat at these places? Chicken nuggets, hot dogs, hamburgers, scampi, all served with baked beans or peas with chips, spaghetti bolognese or pizza. O, and ice cream concoctions of one kind or another.

A large part of me wishes him to learn to sit and wait and eat a meal with the rest of the party. I look forward to taking him to a proper 'grown-up' restaurant when he's old enough to stay up late, to eat 'grown-up' food just like I had to as a child. Otherwise what's the point of taking a child to a restaurant?

Am I being old-fashioned, asking too much of this younger generation, or am I right in thinking that I am not the only one who thinks that some restaurants have gone a bit too far in being 'child-friendly'?

Back to Organic-Ally.

Friday, October 21, 2005

See how they grow

Just back from a much-needed break with husband and son, to a holiday place with lots of children. 'Family-friendly' they are called these days.

It was fascinating to see very tiny babies being taken on holiday. Some didn't look more than two or three weeks old. We didn't go any where when our son was that young. I think my first trip out of the HOUSE was going to the local sub-post office two minutes walk away. Son was about three weeks old. Even then it took me a long time to pluck up enough courage to do that.

I was so nervous. Never used that pushchair before. Not sure how things click and unclick in and out of place. What if I failed to secure the seat and baby falls out?

After 30-plus hours of labour and an emergency Caesarean-section I was still feeling a bit sore where they had cut me open, and I wasn't sure I could lift the pushchair (just one end of it) across the threshold to get out, and then to come back in again. It was like I had to will myself to complete that little task for a long, long time before I finally dared to take son out.

So I marvel at the young (NB. young) brave new mothers who seem to cart their babies about with no fear at all, often with one or two older ones in tow. Ah, that's the point: practice makes perfect. After the first baby, number two and number three would be a doddle, I imagine.

Sadly, I will never know.

But this time away brought back many memories: especially of that time when I was completely at the mercy of my young son.

He slept well at night. We trained him to do that and he was fine. It was the days that I found difficult. When he had regular sleep times I could easily switch to academic mode to write my conference and journal papers.

Did I say 'easily'? Actually it required what I called elsewhere 'cerebral calisthenics'. It took a lot of discipline to switch between nursing a baby and singing nursery rhymes (in English and Mandarin) and writing serious, contemplative, academic papers (eg) on why some old people behave the way they do, and why they need the kind of support they need, and how best to prevent the same problems recurring with other immigrant groups, etc.

However, it was this academic outlet that kept me going as a 'full-time mother'. I couldn't cope with the idea of my mind turning to mush, or of watching day-time TV -- I did watch quite a few episodes of 'Diagnosis Murder' starring the incredibly talented Dick Van Dyke, but only because son would only sleep in the TV room -- or of incessant baking just so that a tiny tot could decorate some cupcakes, ad infinitum.

But then there came a time when son dropped his last day-time nap. For a period of some nine months he didn't sleep a wink in the day at all. He was still too young to start nursery (play) school. So, yes, Mummy was on call every minute of the day.

What kept me going was the thought that come September, son would be off to school and I would have three (THREE!) glorious child-free hours of my own, not just on Monday and Tuesday, but EVERY week day.

You see, children grow up.

It was funny how people used to say, 'You won't know what to do with yourself.'

What utter rubbish! I dropped him at school on that first day, rushed home, and promptly 'set up shop' in the warmest room of the house, reading a book. Having not done any empirical research for a long time, I had no material to write up papers with and had taken to reviewing books for academic journals.

On this holiday we could not help but notice how much son has grown. Physically he's bigger than most boys his age. I guess it helps that even his Chinese grandfather was above-average tall. Emotionally he's much less clingy (which I believe comes with being an only child). Whereas he used to be afraid to attempt new challenges, he now was eager to give most things a try.

Socially too it was heartening to see that he was beginning to relax and make friends with 'strangers' in play contexts. He befriended children in the play areas of the various restaurants and enjoyed playing together. He didn't cry when pushed but learned to cope with that all on his own.

It is wonderful to see how our children grow. At the same time I have to remind myself (and husband) that we must also soon learn to let go. Thankfully, both of us know that we can 'let go, and let God'.

Back to Organic-Ally.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Tiffin for two (or three)

Cousin took us out to lunch as she normally does during her stays with us. We went to Oriental City in Colindale where there is a 'food court'. It's a concept familiar with us Singaporeans.

Different stalls sell different types of food in a 'court' (ie large hall) and we can purchase from any of the vendors, pay for it, wait for our order number to be flashed up on an electronic board, collect the food, and eat it any where we could find room to sit.

There's a wide range of foods ranging from Vietnamese to Japanese, different types of Chinese to cuisines from different parts of south-east Asia (Malaysian 'nasi goreng', Singaporean 'Hainanese chicken rice', Thai green curry, etc).

We had our greasy fill -- we do indulge once in a while -- but found that we could not finish the Shanghainese ('little dragon') dumplings that cousin ordered. To be honest, I didn't like it all that much. Usually, that would have gone to waste. Not today.

Today, in my organic cotton string bag, is my stainless steel tiffin carrier (see a picture of one here -- sorry, link broken). I went prepared, like a good former Brownie Sixer that I was.

So dumplings went into the bottom tier of the tiffin. Son thought it was a novelty and wanted to put his Japanese bread rolls in the middle tier.

We went out into the concourse and bought some 'kueh-kueh', Malaysian cakes made from casava (tapioca) and stuff like that, all laden with grated coconut.

'I can give you a plastic box,' said the nice man at the stall.

'No, thanks,' I said. The 'kueh-kueh' went into the top tier of my tiffin carrier. It does not add to the landfill.

Back to Organic-Ally.

Going organic and chicken tales

Well, cousin has flown in again to attend classes as part of her PhD programme. She looked at the stuff we have in the fridge.

'Wah, you're buying all organic now.'

My reply was, 'You know, in my mother's time, everything we bought was organic. Then they brought in intensive farming. And now we are paying a premium for "organic".'

While we were both growing up in Singapore we could drive down fairly main thoroughfares and catch a whiff of organic manure. (I am thinking of Potong Pasir and Braddell Road.) There were vegetable farms and pig farms where now high-rise flats are standing. Fruit and vegetables were plentiful and not too expensive. Meat was dearer. Chicken was only for celebrations.

I remember my sisters having a school reunion in our little flat. Can't imagine how brave they were to even think of that. They gathered a group of school friends from primary school and they partied in our tiny little two-bedroom flat in Queenstown. The highlight of the menu: fried chicken wings.

It was the epitome of sophistication then to have chicken wings on one's menu. Pork and fish were everyday meats. The innards of pig -- liver, kidneys, intestines, stomach, etc -- were also used in everyday cooking. But chicken, it was only for special occasions.

My family was a bit different. Because my father sold pork in a 'wet market' and Mum and Dad were devout Chinese religionists, Dad always bought a whole chicken for the 1st and 15th day of the lunar calendar. The chicken was cooked with watercress which turned it into a tasty but slightly bitter soup, and the chicken was then 'presented' to the Chinese gods as an offering.

After the ceremonial bit Mum chopped up the chicken with her trusty cleaver on the huge wooden chopping board on the kitchen floor, and we ate it. Whatever chicken was left was braised in soya sauce the following day for another meal.

Chicken is plentiful and every where now, as we know. Why? We've seen those pictures of chicken battery farms where thousands of chickens are reared in a space scarcely large enough for them to stand in. Why are such chickens susceptible to disease? If you pack any living organisms -- chicken, goats, cows, human beings -- in a small space, eating and sleeping in their own poo, isn't it inevitable that when one catches an infectious disease, the others would have little escape? Wasn't that how huge human populations were wiped out in epidemics of any time?
Is avian flu a threat? Of course it is. Is it preventable? Of course it was.

British friends tell me that like us in Singapore, chicken was an expensive meat. Pork and beef were eaten every day, but chicken was special.

Even then, only chicken breast was eaten. My hypothesis is that the Brits never ate any bit of any animal that they could not cut and pick up neatly with a knife and fork. But chicken wings, drumsticks, and even chicken feet have now crept into our ordinary culinary experience. (Think of pizza outlets and a certain colonel who's supposed to have a special recipe for cooking chicken.)
A Chinese acquaintance from Hong Kong is convinced that it was the Hong Kong Chinese who taught the white men how to eat chicken wings. O! The joys of eating with one's fingers and chewing the crunchy cartilage on the joints of chicken! With the Chinese, no part of the chicken was wasted, right down to the boney chicken wing tips and feet (which they call 'Phoenix claws' or 'fung jao'). These are boiled to make tasty stock or enjoyed on its own as a gelatinous treat dipped in a nice sauce or rice wine -- but only if you know how to spit out the tiny bones with some finesse!

As usual, I've drifted, but I'm allowed to do that in a blog. 'Organic' was the standard and only type of agriculture when I was growing up. Then someone came along and told us using animal manure was dirty and unhygienic and we were prone to catching horrible diseases and we needed to clean up our act. Was that 'someone' involved in providing 'cleaner' alternatives?

'Cleaner' as a result of feeding animals substitutes eventually meant cheaper. But 'cheaper' came with poor animal welfare, indiscriminate use of antibiotics, and a new generation of human beings that seems to be susceptible to allergies of all sorts.

What about fruit and vegetables? Pesticides and chemical fertilizers replaced the organic manure that had served previous generations well. These chemicals cannot be washed away. They merely seep into the soil, into the water, which then gets into our bodies. Any wonder that the incidence of cancer and other similar diseases has rocketed?

And now it is so much more expensive to buy organic.

Back to Organic-Ally.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Because Mummy is an old woman

I was brushing my son's teeth. Once or twice a week I feel I have to make sure his teeth are brushed properly.

While I was doing this he raised his hand and ran a finger down my face. 'What's this?' he asked.

'What's what?' I replied, being a bit miffed.

'What's this?' son repeated, running finger down one side of my nose and past the corner of my mouth.

'That? O, I suppose it's a line. Your mummy is old. She's an old woman. Old women have lines on their faces, you know. You don't mind your mummy being an old woman, do you?'

'No,' son said, 'I don't mind.... Actually I do, because that means you would soon die, isn't it?'

'Yes, but I hope to live a lot longer and not die so soon.'

That is what happens when one has children late in life. We have never tried to hide from son the painful realities of life -- like death. And he has worked out that Mummy and Daddy, being older than most (possibly all) of the parents in his class, are likely to die, well, a bit sooner.

People often tell me (some ask nicely, but others TELL me) that it is time we had another child. I maintain that if a woman requires reading glasses to read dosage directions on medicine bottles, she is past having any more babies. Many people do not accept that husband and I are older than what they think we are.

This morning I asked a friend at church how it was possible that they were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. 'Did you get married at 18?' I said.

'No! I married at 25.'

'Gosh! That makes you 50. You can't possibly be 50. I was sure you were younger than me.'

'Well, I chose my parents very carefully.'

We might have 'chosen our parents' well and look younger than our age, but our bodies feel our age. I pray that, by the grace of God, both husband and I would live long enough to see our young son accomplish something special in his adult life.

Back to Organic-Ally.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Exploding Chestnuts!

Went to the French Market happening around here last weekend. Bought some chestnuts for son as we could not find any conkers around here for him.

Thought I should roast some of these in the oven, it being a cool-ish evening. BANG! went one. Oops! Better get the rest out of the oven quick. Retrieved the tray, put in on the hob, and BANG!! went another one right before my eyes.

Bits of chestnut every where in the kitchen. Bother!

Back to Organic-Ally

Sunday, October 09, 2005

My tiffin arrived

It has been an incredibly hectic week. There was a fund-raising event to help organize at son's school and a major church project to take care of.

At very short notice we were given a video project to sort out. I ended up having to edit 90-plus minutes of video footage into 12 minutes. On Friday I had to, unexpectedly, shoot some new footage to add to these 12, and eventually had to sub-title the whole project.

There was no script, no guidelines, no concept to work with. It was just: produce 15 minutes of video that we could show to the public.

I like hard work. I like the adrenalin of getting things done by a deadline. But I was so tired by Friday evening. When I started making mistakes and a pain was creeping up my wrist, I knew it was time to stop.

Saturday morning found me frantically splicing the video. Husband took care of son while I did this. Then it was his turn to complete the technical bit while I entertained our son ... well, more like getting him to complete his homework. Had to drop in at son's school to make sure someone was indeed making the salad for the evening event.

The video was required at 2pm. We finally completed it at 1pm. Got it down to church by 1.30pm and found a machine -- not the original one intended -- that would play it.

The good news is: my cousin arrived later on Saturday evening with my stainless steel tiffin carrier. Took it to the French market happening in our town this afternoon. The friendly French vendors did not know what to make of it, but were very happy to comply with my request.

I am chuffed.

Back to Organic-Ally

Truancy, poverty and food

The title to this section of Letters to The Times is 'Poor kids can't have their cake and eat it'.

One letter-writer pointed out that the 'humiliation of poverty is a reason for truancy' as poor families 'are unable to respond to the peer pressure in the playground that results from brand targeting by advertisers'.

When in my first year of school in Singapore I was asked to bring in twenty cents to buy a plastic cover for a workbook. My mum could not find those twenty cents. Instead my eldest sister sacrificed an old plastic cover from one of her old books.

A wealthier girl at school laughed at me. I was so embarrassed I went home and cried my heart out. The following week, Mum squeezed twenty cents from the housekeeping money and I had my new plastic cover like everyone else in class.

So I understand where this letter-writer is coming from in terms of peer pressure. But he goes on to note that the same single mother of four children on unemployment benefits could not afford a computer for the child to surf the net and complete her homework. As a result, the child decided not to attend school.

Many public libraries now offer subsidized or cheap Internet services. So that is not a fully valid excuse. In any case, teachers could be told of the child’s predicament, and surely some suitable arrangements could be worked out.

The difference between myself and this kid is that I had parents who pounded the importance of a good education into my head. There were six of us kids and no unemployment benefits.

We had no luxuries, no new clothes, no family holidays. No TV, no fridge, no nice furniture, until hand-me-downs from richer relations became available. My clothes came out of a trunk that Mum kept under the bed. In it were dresses that belonged to my cousins. I had one pink dress which I wore on the first day of Chinese New Year every year for about five years. (The dress was very big when I first wore it, and very small when I wore it last.)

Mum would collect old textbooks from relatives so that we had books to read. My parents always made sure we had both English and Chinese newspapers to encourage us to read. I was taught to use the public library from a very young age.

Dad worked as a butcher every day of the year bar three rest days at Chinese New Year for years. At one point he had to borrow money from loan sharks to pay for uniforms and textbooks.

If you want to talk about poverty, come talk to me.

Other letter-writers to this section commented on junk food being sold in and around schools. Ironically, because we were so poor we could not afford junk food.

Back to Organic-Ally

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Stomach Ulcers and Barry Marshall

Dr Barry Marshall has just been awarded a Nobel Prize for Medicine for his work (with colleague Robin Warren) in the research of stomach ulcers. Having injected himself with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, Dr Marshall developed the symptoms of stomach ulcers and then proceeded to treat himself with antibiotics.

I've come across the name Barry Marshall about ten years ago when I saw a documentary featuring his work. I was interested because my selfless mother nearly died from stomach ulcers back in the 1980s. Thankfully her doctor managed to control her condition by drugs, but she was then put on a very expensive drug for years.

Dr Marshall's finding suggested that sufferers of stomach ulcers could have lived in poverty at some point where a combination of poor nutrition and bad hygiene could have allowed the bug to enter the body. The bug could lay dormant for years and manifest itself only years later.

Mum fitted this profile exactly. During the Japanese Occupation, Mum, an uncle and grandmother were moved to a little village in a rural area of Malaysia. She called this place 'Wun lau' in Cantonese. The closest match I could find to this name is 'Endau' somewhere in deepest, most rural Johore, just north of Singapore.

There they eked out a living, growing vegetables and rearing chickens to feed themselves. Mum always loved flowers and had green fingers. I wonder if it was during this period in her young life (about 14 years old) that she found the growing of flowers such a pleasant departure from having to farm for food.

It was here that Mum learned about coping with want and lack. Her parents were fairly well-to-do people. Grandmother told me of the three servants that she had at any one time before she was married. But Mum recycled and reused everything, as I noted in Becoming Mother
.

One of my enduring pictures of Mum is her sitting at a table counting her Zantac tablets before her regular visits to the consultant at the university hospital. (She was also diabetic, had high blood pressure and eventually died from massive organ failure when her heart couldn't hold out any longer.)

She counted these tablets out very carefully because we had to pay for every single one of those. She needed to know precisely how many to order when she got to the pharmacist. The doctor invariably prescribed more than she needed and she refused to have a stockpile at home. (The excess was due to her intermittent hospital stays which resulted in tablets not being used up at home.)

Singapore, for all its wealth and advances, still does not have a free health service. Mum was a heavily-subsidized elderly patient, but she (and us as family) had to bear much of the cost of her care.

A bit primitive? I hear you say.

Well, contrast this to the picture of a 90+ woman I befriended in the UK. Under her all-purpose table is a huge bucket of unused medicine.

Every time she went to the doctor or called out her GP, which she did very often, she was given new prescriptions which, as you know, she could fill for free being 90-something. She took the medication for a few days and because she still felt a little unwell, would get the GP to call again. More prescriptions, more drugs, and they simply pile up.

You won't see this 90-something great-grandmother counting out her tablets. Not when all these drugs are issued 'free'.

Anyway, back to Dr Marshall. I think he is a most deserving recipient of the Nobel Prize.

Back to
Organic-Ally

Junk food and bad behaviour

Would you believe me if I said my son has never had a M... hamburger?

He's had their chicken nuggets and fries but never a hamburger. He only had those nuggets because we were a 'captive market' at the Science Centre in Singapore.

From a very young age we talked about 'junk food' and 'good food'. Maybe too much. For a long time he had problems with children's party food. Took him a long time to bite into his first pizza. Now that he has tasted it, he likes it.

He's also not allowed fizzy drinks and salty crisps, especially if they are laden with MSG. Are we weird parents or what? Thankfully I've found other parents who are just like us. We sit around at parents' committee meetings enjoying the crisps and hula hoops, etc, because 'We don't get to eat these at home.'

It all goes back to one blue M&M.

Took son to a Christmas story-telling session at the local library. He was coming up two. A kind lady there gave him one blue M&M. Son went completely loopy when we got home. We were convinced there was something in that bright blue M&M that affected his behaviour.

What I fear most is the party bags that come home with him. They invariably have 'coloured sweets'. Until recently we had to throw them all away. We kept telling him that he had to wait till he was 25kg to eat those. We substituted those with chocolate raisins instead. After a while, he accepted that.

A few weeks ago, he wanted to have one of those jelly bottle sweets. We decided to let him. After all, he was above 21 kg. And?

He kept his cool. He didn't get loopy at all. So he's now allowed those sweets as a treat, with other food he's eating.

Does junk food cause bad behaviour? I'm convinced it does. Why do blue M&Ms not turn adults loopy? Simply because we have a bigger body mass.

So tell your children to wait until they are bigger if they want those sweets. That would also give them another incentive to eat proper food at meal times.

Have you got other stories to tell about junk food?

Back to Organic-Ally

Spotted this newspaper article after I first posted this.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Mother's care is best. Really?

Noticed this report in The Times today and couldn't help but feel -- only initially -- a little smug

Basically, what it's saying is that a child is better off -- in terms of developmental tests -- if its mum had stayed at home instead of palming it off to a nursery or other carer. Such children manifest less aggression, for example.

I have mixed feelings about this. I stayed at home to look after my child. He was a a few weeks old when I trotted off to a post-doctoral fellowship interview. While on the train I realised that I could not leave my baby to take up an academic post. When the phone call came later that evening to say, sorry, you were very good, but someone else was better, i felt a tremendous sense of relief that i didn't have to choose between son and a job.

That was five years ago. Now that son is in school, I am beginning to wonder if I did make the right choice.

What the researchers do not indicate in this piece of research is whether the birth order of the children made any difference. Research has shown over and over again that first-borns do better than their younger siblings. So my being the youngest of six (yes, SIX) would suggest that I should be a total failure.

I guess you could call me that if you think that someone with a PhD from London University should not be languishing in domestic chaos but should be out ... well, doing something else rather 'more useful'.

I believe that much of my achievements are in no small way due to my older siblings being very selfless in caring for me. They gave me opportunities that my parents could not afford to give them due to a sheer lack of money. At which point of the 'economic cycle of a family' is the firstborn/lastborn born into has a bearing on his/her success.

Likewise would 'only children' like my son who has no siblings be better off had I sent him to a nursery for at least a day of the week? I wonder because my son is not only naturally shy, he is very timid. As an only child he has no one to spar with, physically and mentally. Surrounded by grown-ups he resolves differences by reasoning and argument. He cannot always do this in the school playground.

The researchers are spot on about that 'lack of aggression'.

We are learning to help him cope with this. But the researcher in me wants to know: what other factors in the research have been overlooked when someone comes up with a headline like 'Mother's care is best'?

Still, my consolation is we can teach him to be tough in later years. If he had learned aggression or felt a sense of abandonment, it might not be so easy to get it out of his system.

I wonder if there are any other mothers with 'only children' who have anything to add to this.

Follow-up reading:
Letters
Mother of all debates

Back to:
Organic-Ally

Farmers' Market and Styrofoam Cups

The weekly Farmers' Market at Pinner started three Sundays ago. We've only managed to get down there for the first time yesterday. (Church service ended rather late the first week. Then last week we decided to celebrate our wedding anniversary at our son's favourite eatery.)

It was wonderful to see such a wide range of food being sold. Better still to see the delight on the faces of the people at the market. Then we got to the soup stall. Son wanted to have his vegetable soup, but they could only sell it to us in a -- horror of horrors -- foam cup!

I've been going on and on about how I hate plastics. So I was not impressed. However, i must not blame the nice guy there selling such delicious soup. I should be the one bringing a sensible container with me to the market. Just like we used to do when i was growing up.

Came home and quickly emailed my cousin. Please bring me a stainless steel tiffin carrier when you come next week.

The other disappointment was the sheer number of plastic bags being given out. Some stallholders were using paper, and that was perhaps a bit better (still, trees needed to be cut down for those). Can't help but wonder how i am to persuade more people to use string bags, especially the organic cotton version. (!)

So if you see a Chinese female walking down the street with string bag over one shoulder and tiffin carrier in a hand, then it might well be LSP at http://www.organic-ally.co.uk/ !!

Corporate blogging

Was reading my Straits Times Online that corporate businesses have taken to blogging seriously. While I had started my own business only very recently, I had been writing various bits on the News and Misc(ellaneous) pages about issues close to my heart. That was in essence, my bit of blogging. I enjoy writing those. But putting those pages onto the website itself can sometimes be hard work and I would rather be busy doing something else.

So i headed off to find myself a blogspot. Not sure how this would look. Even less sure if it would work. And cannot imagine how much of my soul I dare to bare. Check back, and we shall see.

Meanwhile, for those of you who've said you enjoyed my writing before, please check this blog for future entries.

As always, best,