Posts Tagged With: chocolate

Birthday Cake Auguste Style

Eat to the Beat(er)

Eat to the Beat(er)

As promised… Auguste decorated the choccy sponges that the Snail baked yesterday. Amazingly, he even found time to go and find chocolate mint from the garden, making this cake one of my five a day (fruit and veg, not one of my five cakes a day. Although…).

The, um, Icing on the Cake

The, um, Icing on the Cake

For Decoration Only

For Decoration Only

Chef's Perks

Chef’s Perks

Now I need a nap before dinner tonight at the Harbourmaster! What a nice birthday!

Just the one slice then...

Just the one slice then…


Categories: Auguste, General silliness | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

Turn up, Turn out, Turn in, Turnip


Those regular readers of will know that she was unhappy after the elections we had here in Britain because of the low turnout. I wasn’t exactly pleased myself and not only because once more I felt that my writing “Buy my book!” on the ballot paper in crayon had gone unheeded.

It seems that democracy and the process that goes with it has lost its appeal across most of Europe, and in other countries too. I decided to see how true this assertion was, if only because it meant I could play with Excel and graphs. After my last post, I was going to plot the graph of Turnout on my kitchen cupboards but decided against it on the grounds that I would only have to clean it off afterwards.

The good news is that the UK weren’t the most apathetic country in Europe (and don’t think that Italy, France or Ireland were, it’s just their turnout percentages weren’t quoted on the BBC website from whence I extracted these figures). Look at Slovakia – now find a ruler and measure the figure off the y-axis. See? 13.1%. Now that’s voter apathy!

I suppose we could let them off because they are newbies to the whole EU massive-waste-of-money-unless-you-happen-to-be-on-the-gravy-train, er, Parliament election process. In fact, if you are going to be kind then I guess all the countries up to Romania can be ‘let off’ for a similar reason. So, really the first country that should hang its collective democratic head in shame is…Portugal. You thought I was going to put the UK, didn’t you? Well, I nearly did because we’re next.

In fact, if democracy requires a majority of people to vote for someone or something, then really any election needs more than 50% of the eligible voters to actually get off their backsides and put a cross in a box. So, a big shoutout (I believe that is the kids’ hippy-hop street talk term) for Sweden (just), Denmark, Greece, Malta, Belgium and Luxembourg.

The last two merit a huge parade with beer and flags – their turnout was 90%. Perhaps voting is compulsory in those countries, or perhaps the BBC put the decimal point in the wrong place.

So I wondered, as a world of Excel graphs beckoned, are there any common factors that could predict turnout in each of these countries? I took a serious, well-considered approach and multiplied numbers with other numbers to create a graph that fits on the page. I chose factors that are likely to influence voter turnout (or that I could find figures for in a quick Google search). Rulers at the ready (and possibly a magnifying glass):

Proof if proof were needed...

Proof if proof were needed…

I am pretty sure that with some analysis, that a combination of chocolate consumption and Eurovision wins will reliably predict the turnout of the next election.

My ideas for ensuring a good turnout? I’m glad you asked.

  1. Make voting compulsory. People not voting will be forced to watch ALL party political broadcasts at one sitting. Plus they won’t be entitled to the free chocolate and wine that people who DO vote will be allowed
  2. Actually, there should be an age range which if you fall into, you have to vote. Set it from 15 to 70, and I won’t tell their parents if the 15 year-olds drink some wine afterwards. If you are older than 70, you don’t have to vote unless you want to as you have most likely earned the day off, what with paying taxes, being unpaid carers for your children’s children and all that sort of stuff.
  3. Have bouncy castles, picnic sites and bands playing at polling stations so that families can make a day of it.
  4. Have a box to tick on the ballot form marked “None of the above. Please select some more candidates for me to choose from.” If a majority of voters tick that box, start again with different candidates. But I’m not sure what to do about the wine and stuff – it might be used as an excuse to have another day out with free choccy and the like. Perhaps THAT could be an issue that people could stand for.
  5. Link the number of seats available in the European Parliament for each country to its number of Eurovision wins. Or chocolate consumption. Or both.

Right, that’s that sorted. Now to deal with climate change and making nuts in chocolate illegal…





Categories: General silliness, News | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Eleventh Month Madness That Is NaNoWriMo


Right? Write!

I see from the many posts about NaNoWriMo that there is a summer version happening right now – they have called it ‘Summer Camp’ which doubtless resonates with American readers more than us Brits.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of NaNoWriMo*, basically you write 50,000 words of a novel** in a month. If successful, you can proudly print out a certificate to say you did it and can legitimately use the artwork you see to your right on my sidebar. There’s no other reward save for the satisfaction of knowing that you can write an amazing amount of a novel in just 30 days. Just starting it is a huge achievement in itself.

For a daystreaming procrastinator like myself, last year’s NaNoWriMo was the kick I needed to start BATDIG. I was actually writing another novel and, despite the reams of notes, had fallen into the classic ‘First Chapter Paralysis’ trap. I had also discovered the equally tricky ‘Last Chapter Paralysis’. So, I had a beginning, edited about fifty times and an ending, edited about fifty times. Just no middle. Now, this might not be a bad thing but this particular story needs its middle the way a chocolate-covered chocolate sponge cake needs a filling of say, chocolate buttercream. No matter how I tried, the main characters just refused to show me the way. I needed to take drastic action.

That’s when I heard about NaNoWriMo one morning, on the radio. I signed up that night with two hours to go to the start. The following day, I began to write another novel. That would show those pesky main characters!

I feel a little guilty about them now. They have remained, frozen at the moment that November 1st 2011 came along and took their creator away to a different universe where there are yellow packages and something happens at nine twenty five one morning around St Paul’s cathedral. They are frozen still, as I find out who did what that fateful morning in London. But I hope that they will have learnt their lesson when I return to them sometime in the Autumn.

One of the most helpful things I found about NaNoWriMo was the graph that showed you how many words you had written and how many you had to go. I have started to create a Microsoft Excel tool that will draw a similar graph but will read the file(s) associated with your novel automatically, without you having to cut and paste text into anything. Then, you can see at a glance how you are progressing. I found knowing the number of words I had written in one day really useful. I now know that I can write 5100 words if push comes to shove, in fact I reckon I can do better. Before NaNoWriMo, I wouldn’t have had a clue.

Above all else, if you like writing, irrespective of whether you want to try to make a living out of it or not, NaNoWriMo is fun. There are daily messages to give you inspiration and it doesn’t matter if you don’t reach the 50,000 word target. Starting to do it is the main thing. 1,666 doesn’t sound a lot of words a day but actually after a day of working at a ‘real’*** job, 10 words can be a trial.

Sometimes, starting is the most difficult thing to do. Sometimes, ending proves to be the obstacle. Occasionally, unlike chocolate sponge with chocolate buttercream filling, the middle is the hardest thing to deal with.

However, just like I know NaNoWriMo will be there, beckoning in November for my attention, I know my characters from ‘The Writing House’ will still be waiting for me when I return to them. I just hope they’re feeling more cooperative!


*NaNoWriMo = National Novel Writing Month, pronounced na-noo-reee-mooo (or nah-noh-reh-moh if you live in Boston, MA).

** An original novel, I mean. It isn’t just a typing contest or a test to see who knows how to copy and paste the contents of an e-book.

*** By which I mean, one that pays now rather than one that will pay one day, honest.

Categories: BATDIG, NaNoWriMo, Nerves, Writing | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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