Sunday, July 26, 2009


A special telephone helpline service for victims of swine flu has just been launched in England this week. Capable of answering a million calls a week, the special phoneline is part of England’s National Pandemic Flu Service.

The helpline service has come under fierce criticism as it isn’t staffed by medical professionals but by call centre staff with no medical training. The idea is that it will take some pressure off the NHS hospitals and GP’s surgeries. The government argue that the helpline is a quick and easy way for patients to get access to Tamiflu and other anti-viral drugs, without a visit to a GP surgery or hospital. However it is all too easy for medical professionals to make a wrong diagnosis so there is a real risk that the helpline staff could wrongly diagnose somebody too. There is always a danger that swine flu symptoms could mask a much more serious condition like meningitis.

Suspected swine flu sufferers will have the option of either visiting the National Pandemic Flu Service and filling in an online questionnaire or phoning the helpline and answering a checklist of questions about their symptoms, over the phone. Any sufferers are advised to enlist the help of a “flu friend”. If they get a positive diagnosis of swine flu, they will be given a special authorisation number so that their flu friend can pick up their Tamiflu or anti-viral medication from a designated collection point. The service sounds good in theory. Only time will tell how well it actually works.

Over 100,000 people are estimated to have contracted swine flu over here in the past week alone, whilst approximately 30 people have died from it. Within a few days of being launched, the website has already been inundated with visitors. New adverts for the service have just been launched as part of a £2.4million advertising campaign to promote it. The adverts detail the symptoms of swine flu which include a fever or a high temperature over 38C or 100.4F. The government is also advising people of the importance of sneezing into a handkerchief or tissue, rather than into the air, “catching the sneeze and binning it” and also the importance of hand hygiene and washing hands regularly. Many companies (including the company where I work) have invested in special hand gel which kills any germs associated with the virus. In the case of most illnesses, including swine flu, prevention is definitely better than cure.

The website address for the National Pandemic Flu Service for England is and the phone number is 0800 1513 100.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Hello Everybody

I'm back blogging again after my break. I was only away for 4 days but we crammed so much in during that time. My Mum and I thoroughly enjoyed our trip. We spent the first day in Oxford. It's a lovely city. We saw Oxford Castle and also Christ Church College. We also went for a walk down to the river and saw all the punts on the river. It was very enjoyable and a nice way to spend a sunny afternoon.

Day Two saw us in Windsor. To get the best views of the city we took a ride on the little visitor train that takes visitors past all the best tourist attractions. Another good way to see the sights of this beautiful city is by taking an open top bus tour. However as it was raining heavily when we arrived, we decided to take shelter on the little train! Our trip to Windsor Castle was definitely the highlight of the day. I also had a ride on the Windsor Wheel, a mini version of the London Eye. It was fun and you get such great views over the city, whatever the weather. We ended the afternoon with a scenic French Brothers' cruise on the Thames, complete with commentary, passing singer Natalie Imbruglia's house and also Royal Windsor Racecouse, a fitting end to an interesting day.

We spend Day Three in Bath. We went to the Jane Austen Centre, which is well worth a visit, if you are ever in the area. We also visited Bath Abbey and the world famous Roman baths. It was also nice to admire the beautiful houses in The Circus, a curved millionaire's row of houses, situated in the heart of Bath. The prestigious neighbourhood was once featured in an episode of Inspector Morse, the film Vanity Fair and actor Nicolas Cage owns one, although we didn't catch a glimpse of him the day I was there!

The fourth and final day of our trip was spent in Cheltenham. Sadly it was raining quite hard that day. However, we consoled ourselves with some retail therapy. There are some wonderful shops in Cheltenham. It is also famous for Cheltenham Ladies' College, a college attended by one of my schoolfriends.

I've now back at home again. Glad to be back for a rest! I went back to work on Wednesday and it was busy, it now feels like I've never been away! I'll be posting some photos of my trip to share with you all very soon. Watch this space!

PLEASE NOTE:- The Windsor Castle photo shown above is courtesy of as we had some heavy rain the day we visited Windsor, it made taking some good photos a bit difficult!

Thursday, July 09, 2009


Well it's that time of year again, I'm heading off down South on holiday tomorrow so this will be my last post before I go away. Like many people here, I'll be holidaying in England this year. I'm going to be spending a few days touring around the Windsor and Bath area. Fingers crossed for good weather! Hopefully I'll be able to get some good photos to post on here.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my friends Kyle and Svet from
Windows to Russia for the great little vacation banner they made for me. Windows to Russia is a wonderful site and well worth a visit. It's full of very interesting and informative posts and gives a great insight into life in Russia by a couple who live there. Kyle is originally from the States and moved to Russia after meeting his Russian wife Svet. Kyle and Svet also maintain several other sites too; Windows to Russia - Video, Windows to Russia - News, Windows to Russia - Sports and Windows to Russia - CCCP. They are all great sites and well worth a visit.

I'll be back posting again very soon. See you when I get back!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


A memorial to the victims of the 2005 July 7th bombings was unveiled in London today. Situated in Hyde Park, the memorial consists of 52 stainless steel pillars, representing the 52 lives that were sadly lost that day. Prince Charles spoke of a day of “cruel and mindless carnage”. It was certainly that. Whilst Boris Johnson, the Major of London stated that we would never forget the tragic events that took place that day. They are etched in all our hearts and minds forever. Let us not forget those poor people who were injured and killed in these deadly and mindless acts of terrorism, which left 52 people dead and many hundreds badly injured. The memories of that terrible day will stay with us all forever. Our hearts go out to all those poor people who were injured and to those who sadly lost their lives that day and to the families they left behind. May they never be forgotten.

Sunday, July 05, 2009


William Shakespeare has been voted Britain’s greatest national treasure. The Bard beat Buckingham Palace into second place, whilst fish and chips came in third, just ahead of Buckingham Palace at number 4. The writer of such famous works as “Hamlet” and “Romeo and Juliet”, Shakespeare has always been regarded as a British icon. He is considered by many to be one of the greatest playwrights of all time. Apart from writing some of the most powerful tragedies, he has also written some of the funniest comedies ever to appear on an English stage. His plays are classics and feature as set works by many examination boards here. I enjoyed studying Shakepeare's plays at school and remember seeing "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" performed at the RSC as a student. It was excellent. "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare" containing all his plays still takes pride of place on my bookshelf. Much of the beauty of the Bard’s work lies in the language more than the actual plot. Many of Shakespeare’s plays contain finely crafted passages. “Some are born great others achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them”, in the words of Malvolio a character from Twelfth Night, one of the Bard’s most famous plays. Well according to the results of a poll by Mivvi icecream makers, now it’s official William Shakespeare is the greatest of them all!


For the first time in over 20 years, the EU has relaxed its rules regarding misshapen fruit and vegetables. In the next few weeks, nobbly carrots, bendy bananas and curly cucumbers will be returning to a supermarket near you! In years gone by the EU made a rule (at the food industry’s request) that only the best looking fruit and vegetables would appear on our supermarket shelves and dinner tables. Any produce not up to standard would be discarded by suppliers and thrown away. At a time when the government is encouraging consumers to try and cut down on the amount of food being wasted and trying to reduce landfill, it certainly makes sense to sell misshapen fruit and vegetables rather than throwing them away. Farmers will now be able to use more of their crop. Many people forget that apart from being wasteful, throwing away food damages the environment too. The majority of waste food goes into landfill, producing methane, a greenhouse gas much more powerful than carbon dioxide.

Also at a time when food prices are soaring in Britain, selling wonky shaped fruit and veg gives consumers a choice and a chance to save some money when doing the weekly shop. They can either buy perfectly shaped fruit and vegetables at a slightly higher price or choose their misshapen alternatives at a fraction of the cost. The shape of the fruit and vegetables certainly does nothing to affect their flavour or the amount of vitamins and minerals they contain. They still count towards one of your five a day. I’m sure they will prove very popular in these recession-hit times, when shoppers are looking for a cheap and satisfying way to feed their families healthily.