Monday, January 27, 2020


Shwmae from the banks of the River Lleidi!

The last week has been about dealing with the tax fraud shenanigans. Bloody hell, every time I’ve thought that it’s now being dealt with and that I can get on, I find myself back at square one. As a result things have been pretty dull and uneventful.

I’ve got into a good routine going to the gym three times a week, finding the energy to go that fourth time has so far eluded me. At the minute I’ve just been sticking to cardio while I get into the routine also I really wanted to be sure my dodgy tendon in my arm is undodgy. So the plan is this week to start doing 30 minutes of mixed weights and 30 minutes of cardio. And then after a few weeks start breaking the days into specifics: Cardio day, arm day, leg day, etc. If I still can’t muster that fourth day I’m just going to try and add 20 minutes to each session.

Thanks to the pestilence and its impact on my sleep pattern I haven’t done any circuit training this year. Usually I’d get up early and do 30 minutes before starting the day. This week will be about getting back into that routine.

Have also been blitzing my way through the Google Digital Marketing course that I mentioned last week. Currently at 56% complete. Aiming to finish that this week then gotta find some fancy paper to print my certificate on to… Unless they send out the certificate I’m not sure.

I’ve got back into the swing of Duolingo, currently in the promotion zone of the Sapphire league getting ready to move up to the Ruby league! 

I like Duolingo but it really needs to let courses like Welsh include speaking exercises. My ability to read welsh is better than it ever was in school but without speaking exercises that verbal language part of my brain is useless. Friends will say something to me in welsh and I have to repeat what they’ve said, using my fingers the same way I did in school to work out sums except each finger is a word! Then by the time I’ve worked it out they’ve walked away chuckling. Despite this the learning continues. Araf, araf, dal i mwnci.
So in lieu of anything major happening I thought I’d unleash the first of the two politics related posts I mentioned last week. I originally wrote a modified version of this way back in 2016 and it is astounding how things have developed. So I decided to do an updated version for where we are now.
I wrote it because so many people, myself included, felt powerless and unsure how to engage with politics. And those who did seem more engaged just seemed to be spinning their wheels and not getting anything achieved.
The last three and a bit years have been a Pandora’s Box of awfulness, hate crimes and the general vitriol that have slithered into every corner of rational discourse. So I’ve tried to be more informed about Welsh/UK politics. And obviously whatever anxieties I’ve felt pale in comparison to how marginalised groups feel all the time, let alone right now. But despite all the bad I was inspired by posts appearing in my social media feeds from people in the US reacting after Trump got elected. They were posting daily or weekly ‘Resistance Reports’, the reports detail how they’ve been engaging with local and national politics and even providing quick and easy actions that others can do to help (I’m sure the first one I saw was from Calvin Starnes). I really liked this idea and wondered if anyone had been doing something similar in the UK post-referendum that could provide some actions I could follow and post about in my own reports. I didn’t find anything so then I looked for any guides on the best ways to engage with my local and national politicians with the plan to set my own actions and go from there. Again I didn’t find the bounty of information I was hoping for, a lot of US specific guides but barely any for the UK. So then I just went looking for relevant information that I could use to create a rough guide for myself before setting my actions.
I ended up falling down a rabbit hole of helpful and infuriatingly unhelpful information for anyone wanting to engage with UK politics without joining a political party. So I’ve made this post a resource dump for useful links along with thoughts and suggestions that I’ve gathered from social media and other sites on how best to use them and set your own actions. I’ll try and keep this as concise as possible but I apologise if this sprawls or rambles all over the place.
Now, living in Wales means there are devolved issues that don’t apply elsewhere, same with Scotland and Northern Ireland. So I’ve tried to keep as much of this applicable to the whole UK as I could but I am planning on doing a Welsh politics post soon.
Getting started:
Getting more involved with politics doesn’t mean you have to take to the streets with placards, although this is really helpful when the situation calls for it. It does mean finding your voice and dialling it up to eleven. It means shaking off your apathy, stepping out of your comfort zone and putting in some hard work. It is no longer possible to sit back and continue on under the assumption that it’s all going to work out for the best.
Possibly the most important step is that you have to speak up. Hate crimes soared in the wake of the referendum so it’s really important that we speak up for others when we witness attacks, verbal or physical. This is extra important for white guys. Don’t scream or engage, just calmly show that hate will not be tolerated. The Hollaback group have some great resources about standing up to hate.
The same goes if someone makes discriminatory comments in front of you, call it out as unacceptable. I know it can be intimidating; particularly with family but there are ways to criticise with kindness. Don’t let this kind of behaviour become normal.
If you live in a city or large town then there’s likely to be a cultural centres and organisations for migrants or other minority groups. They often have open days or other events. Go to them and take friends and family with you. It’s a small thing but it can help get rid of the us and them bullshit that the daily mail loves to stir up. If those groups do any community work then respectfully find out if you can help. This may mean learning how to be a good ally.
As an addendum to this: it’s vital that we find ways to build links between echo chambers. Particularly with those that we support but may not think to get involved with, such as groups campaigning for racial equality. Understanding that their fights are symptoms of the same disease that helped bring about brexit and Trump are really important for being a better ally and building a stronger resistance.
That being said some of those echo chambers may not contain people who identify as liberal so some thought has to be given to find ways to embrace imperfect allies, they’re imperfections may be rooted in their privilege but if we can’t reach out to them then it’s all too easy for them to see only the fear-mongering and to adopt the mindset behind nationalismI don’t have any firm suggestions for this, I’m the first to say I find it easier to completely ignore the people that voted for brexit or look at what’s happening in America as a good thing and not debate with them, but I also realise that’s not very constructive in the post-truth world we find ourselves in. If you have any thoughts or suggestions then I am all ears. (It’s been 3 and a bit years and I still don’t have any good responses to this)
Finding out who represents you:
It’s easy to find your MP. Their profile page will contain all their contact information as well as committees they serve on, questions they’ve asked in the Commons and the results of the election that made them an MP.
You can also find out how they’ve voted in Parliament at They Work For You. There’s also links for the voting records of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Scottish Parliament. Sadly there is (still!) nothing for the Welsh Assembly due to lack of resources. (If you’re willing and able, getting this much needed section up and running could be an action!)
When contacting your MP, phone their office. Letters and emails are all well and good but they can be put to one side and ignored. Answering a phone and dealing with (polite) questions and concerns takes time. Get enough people to call on the same day or over a set period of time then that’s harder to ignore. But if like me you don’t particularly enjoy making phone calls at all, then here’s a great guide to phoning your reps when you have social anxiety. I Know that there’s an ingrained British phobia against “being a bother” but if there is a running theme to this post, it is that you need to be a bother.
Protest and petitions are fine but how effective have they been over the last three years? A tiny bit of direct action could actually make the difference. A good list of ideas is by the Albert Einstein Foundation, they compiled 198 methods of non-violent action.
MPs will often hold regular surgeries to update their constituents on various issues and listen to concerns. Go to these whenever you can, if only to stay informed. Organise a group of people to go. If you’re attending a surgery with the aim of raising a concern don’t feel you have to go armed with reams of research on your particular issue.
Politicians respond to people engaging, silence and apathy are not protests, they’re giving up.
UK Issue Links:
It was tough to decide what to focus on and direct you towards. I didn’t want to prioritise any issue that was too regional or devolved. So the links below are broad but great starting points to get informed on specific issues, get involved and find other relevant links.
Liberty (also known as the National Council for Civil Liberties) are a cross party, non-party membership organisation that campaigns on human rights issues in the UK. They’re against the snooper charter and the use of facial recognition, providing this helpful guide to protect yourself online. Become a member, volunteer or make a donation.
Keep Our NHS Public is exactly what it sounds like. In Wales the NHS is a devolved issue but across England it is taking a beating. KONP has a ton of useful information, their social media has links to NHS campaign groups up and down the country making it really easy to get involved.
Stop Funding The Hate are a great campaign to convince companies to stop advertising with the Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express. They’re a really effective example of online activism using social media, so getting involved is easy and can take up very little of your time. You can also sign up for their newsletter.
Social Links:
These links are for those of you that may want to get more hands on with a group or issue and may even want to organise your own groups.
Arts Emergency are responding to increasing higher education costs by offering a network of mentors to help 16–19 year olds pursue and develop opportunities in the arts, media, academia and professions such as Law and Architecture. If you have a background in the arts and humanities then maybe consider becoming a mentor.
Do-It are a database of volunteering opportunities so if you looking to get proactive this is a good place to start.
Seeds For Change Is a great resource offering training and information if you’re looking to organise your own campaign group.
The Trussell Trust are the UK’s food bank network. Hundreds of thousands of people in the UK now depend on food banks. If you can please donate some time, money or the priority items your local bank is in need of. It really will make a big difference to someone.
The New European is a pop up newspaper that appeared during the referendum. It covers ongoing developments with brexit. It also covers a broad variety of news from around Europe which I think is important because Britain and America aren’t the only places far-right rhetoric are frothing up right now so staying informed outside our traditional news bubble is important.
Open Democracy Are an independent media platform that cover topics relating to democracy in the UK. Another great starting point for getting informed about a variety of important issues.

I know this is far from complete or perfect but if you’ve felt overwhelmed and powerless to make an impact on UK politics this should give you some options to get involved. There’s no excuses. I know it’s not going to be easy, doing good in the face of adversity seldom is. But you are needed. If you believe in democracy, diversity, compassion and equality then it’s never been more important for you to speak up in defence of them. To resist anyone who tells you that they are unnecessary or incompatible with a civilised society.

Brave Heart, Dear friends and don’t let the bastards grind you down.

Monday, January 20, 2020


Shwmae from the banks of the river Lleidi!

I am a mostly healthy human being again! The gods heard my gross mucus filled sobs and saw fit to restore me. Praise be!

The rain seems to be finally giving way to actual winter and this week feels like the proper start of the New Year, as opposed to the three weeks of limbo and recovery we’ve just had.  I’ve slowly managed to start getting back into a routine. My sleep pattern is still messed up from the pestilence but it’s slowly improving. I’ve managed to go to the gym three times since the last Blog and have done a lot of walking on the days I didn’t go. As an additional aid I’ve downloaded the Wizards Unite game on my phone, just as something to do while I’m walking, looking inconspicuous in my Newt Scamander Hufflepuff scarf!

Don't know how useful it will be or how often I'll actually play it. I managed to get to Level 7 pretty quick without leaving my house!

For the last week I’ve mostly been dealing with a case of tax fraud/possible identity theft (as mentioned in Blog #1) that has been a Kafkaesque farce from the start. When it is eventually resolved I will tell you all about it. Until then #PrayforDai

At some point when I wasn’t dealing with that I found GoogleGarage, which is basically a hub for a load of online courses. There’s also a free Google certified Digital Marketing course which I’ve started. It’s only 40 hours and I’ve been breezing through it whenever I’ve had a free half hour. When I finish it’ll be a good addition to the CV. A problem I’ve found having a work history like mine is that when you then focus on working in the non-profit sector, your stock standard manager doesn’t really understand any of it. So I’m hoping ‘GOOGLE CERTIFIED DIGITAL MARKETER’ will cut through that a bit.

Also managed to start doing some meal preps for the freezer. I made a massive chicken casserole, with dumplings.

I bloody love these 16oz tubs; they’re the perfect for when you’re trying to keep a check on your portions sizes. In each tub is a good amount of chicken, one dumpling and a load of veg. Do a small bit of mash or roast potatoes and you’ve got a really filling meal.

Scenes from the battlefield!

This is absolutely why I could never make it as a professional chef; my mise en place would drive everyone insane.

I’m currently reading my second book of the month, The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihra. It’s interesting, without spoiling it, at the beginning of the book you’re given two conflicting perceptions of another character.  As I’m working my way through the rest of the book I’m constantly weighing up those two perceptions to figure out which is true. I’m intrigued to see which one it is.

Also now that my brain isn’t fogged up my illness and copious amount of cough mixture I’ve started using Duolingo again to learn Welsh and I love that whoever puts the lessons together has a sense of humour.

OoOo! Have just read that all the Studio Ghibli films arecoming to Netflix! Porco Rosso is probably my favourite. I see a Ghibli Marathon in my future!

Have you seen this? Australia’s wombats being absolute legends.
I have read that the herding part may not be entirely true but I want to believe. We’re 20 days in to 2020 and the world is in such a state that I need to believe. Look at that chonky boi! How can they not be the hero we need right now!?

Okay I’m out. I have to go protect the wizarding world on my way to the gym.

Brave heart, Dear friends and don’t let the bastards grind you down.

Monday, January 13, 2020

It's Still Counts as Moving Forward If You're Crawling.

Shwmae from the banks of the river Lleidi!

I would like to request a do over! Day 1 of the New Year I woke with a teeny bit of a sore throat. No big deal me thinks and I pre-emptively took some medicine and thought that it would all pass after 3 or 4 days… Here we are two weeks into 2020 and I only now feel human again. I’ve either been bedridden fever dreaming my way beyond thought and time or sat in a chair scribbling notes and occasionally doing shots of cough mixture like a heartbroken gunslinger with nothing left to lose. I did manage to go for a walk once and I think I may have died at least 4½ times.

I also shaved my head, mainly as an embrace of my male pattern baldness but possibly also as ritualistic plea to the gods to rid me of this medieval pestilence.

So in lieu of cracking on with resolutions I’ve used the time between delirium and coughing up what I hope aren’t vital bits of me to put together to do lists. I started with the garden, at the end of last year I drew up a plan for how I’d like it to look by the end of this summer.

A lot of stuff will have to wait for dryer weather but I’m hoping I can sort out the corner bed so that it makes better use of the space sometime in the next few weeks. Then I will turn my attention to bed two. It’s currently only half full and most of that came from tubs and barrels I’d finished with at the end of last year. I’ve also been composting in situ there. So at the end of November I added in compostable materials and covered it over. At the end of December I took a garden fork to it and turned it adding more compostable materials before covering it again. I’ll do the same at the end of January and maybe February then I’ll get some more soil and top the bed up before starting to plant in it. Then my schemes to bring down the industrial salad complex begin! Or y’know, just surviving brexit on whatever I can grow and/or trade.

Another to do list I scribbled was stuff I want to blog about. The whole point of blogging is to be a more wholesome supplement for social media so I’d like to blog about stuff people can engage with that isn’t just what I’m up to. Once I get properly stuck back into the garden I’ll post about that. One other idea I’ve started putting together is a script chat blog for a pilot I wrote at the end of 2017. I rewrote it over 2018 with the plan of doing something with it last year but that didn’t happen. So I was thinking that I’d break the script into 5 segments and write a breakdown for each one. Even if you’re not interested in scriptwriting it’ll be a serialised story for you to enjoy.

I’ve also got one maybe two politics posts I'd like to write – I know, I know I said wholesome just now but it’s stuff that’s been buzzing around my brain pan something fierce and if I don’t write it out I’ll turn into one of those people that mutters arguments to themselves in public. So you have that to look forward to.

I’ve got a few other bits and bobs that may evolve into posts I don’t know yet. It’s Sunday night as I’m writing this and my plan right now is to shower and then go to bed and pray for a restful night’s sleep. Then tomorrow I am absolutely going to get on and write the first three pages of the feature film script and then I am absolutely going to go to the gym. These are things I am going to do because being ill can piss off.

This is only a short post this week on account of me being a partially reanimated corpse. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers.

Brave heart, dear friends and don't let the barstards grind you down.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020


Shwmae from the banks of the river Lleidi!

And so the world turns setting us once again off around the sun. Good luck everyone.

My 2019 was something of a nightmare. Lost my job thanks to the never ending joy that is brexit; a friend passed away, serious health situation with a family member, found new job, new job turned out to be not what was advertised, lost new job, before rounding out the year unemployed and a victim of tax fraud that has yet to be resolved. As well as, y’know… politics.

I also went to a friend’s wedding in Holland which was lovely. And I moved house, where I’m slowly turning the front garden into an allotment fortress against the industrial salad complex (I’ve been documenting it over on Tumblr under the hashtag #Veg Fort) and has included building a bench, table and a cold frame. 

So while last year wasn’t a sob story from start to finish there was a lot of time feeling miserable, catching my breath and just dusting myself off.

So I’m aiming to make 2020 a little more positive. I will do this by setting myself some goals. Resolutions if you will, for the New Year.

·         GET A JOB:
Not so much a resolution as a wild reckless dream I’d like to see fulfilled sometime in 2020.

·         WRITING:
I did very little writing throughout 2019. I wrote a few pages of notes for things I’d like to write but that’s it. So the plan for 2020 is to focus on one script idea, writing 3 pages a day. That should give me a rough draft one by the end of January-ish.

I also want to blog more. Social media is a hell-scape these days. I stopped using Facebook years ago and I use Twitter more for news and interesting links than connecting with people. So short of building my ownsocial media platform I’ve decided to build a home on the “Isles of Blogging” with this HTML graveyard as my shack on the beach.

The aim will be to blog once a week. It’s going to be a mixed bag of topics to begin with and we’ll see if anything settles.

  • Write 3 script pages a day.
  • Blog once a week.


So over the last 18 months due to some minor health issues I’ve been trying to lose a bit of weight. But for a myriad of reasons, both external and my own laziness, that’s stalled at the end of last year. I while I know that weight related resolutions are cursed I really want to get back to it. I go to the gym regularly but because of a dodgy tendon in my arm I’ve had to avoid weights for the last few months. I think my arm is okay enough to do some light weights; I’ve been doing circuit training exercises to help stretch the tendon and build up some endurance in my shoulder muscles, so I’m hoping it’ll be fine.

Food wise, I do a lot of cooking and I try to use lots of healthy ingredients but I am prone to snacking quite a bit. So that’s something I want to address. I’ve also decided that I will have no takeaways for 2020. Now usually I’d have a takeaway maybe once a month as a treat. But at the end of last year my treat takeaway would too often coincide with an unexpected takeaway with someone else. So I’m going to cut them out. I’ll still go out for food with friends and family; I typically have the vegetarian option anyway so I’m not overly worried about that.

  •          No takeaways for 2020.
  •          Exercise 4 days a week.
  •          Cut down snacking.


Now I’m the first to admit I am a pretty awesome individual. Definitely better than most. But there are things I’d like to improve over the next year.

I want to work on some mental health stuff; as I said up top last year felt like a thorough pasting. So I guess part of this year will be about asking for help.

A side effect of the 2019 rollercoaster was that I hardly did any reading. I think I read one and a half books all year. (October Man by Ben Aaronovitch and The Erstwhile by Brian Catling respectively) That is terrible, especially considering the load bearing stacks of books that make up a chunk of my house. So I’m aiming to read at least 2 books a month. I may even blog about some of them.

I really really really want to learn Welsh. I’ve been using Duolingo and a few text books over the last two years but I want to knuckle down with it. So as well as making better use of the resources I have, I’m going to look into signing up for classes. They’ll probably have to wait until I can find a job but if I can sort that then it makes the idea easier to realise. I’ve never really been keen on the idea of classes because I am such a terrible student but if I’m serious about learning the language then I think it’s something that I need to do.

I’d also like to do something community based. Not sure what. My last but one job was working for a non-profit and I really enjoyed using my creative skillsets in that particular field. Again not sure what I’ll do. Was considering something gardening related. My garden has been a haven for the last six months of 2019, I think it would be cool to connect with other local growers: maybe trade surplus, seed share, etc. There’s still a lot of work to do in my garden first, so yeah, I don’t know. Something to ponder over the next month or two.

  •          Better care of mental health.
  •          Read at least 2 books a month.
  •          Dysgu Cymraeg (tebygol araf iawn).
  •          Do something positive in my community.

Well that’s it. There are still a few long dark nights ahead but there are also bright warm days to come. There will always be change and struggle, My friend Chris, who passed away last year use to say that life was about people helping people, that’s all it’s ever been about. You can’t breathe money; prejudices won’t keep you warm or fed. But people helping people can do pretty much anything; we can’t survive without each other.

Brave heart, Dear friends and don’t let the bastards grind you down.


This is my beyond improvement recipe for custard. Because who doesn't like custard.


200ml double cream
700ml milk
5 large egg yolks
3 tbsp cornflour
100g light musgavado sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Pour the cream and milk into a pan and bring to just below boiling point. 
In a bowl, whisk the yolks, cornflour, sugar and vanilla. 
Then gradually pour the hot milk mixture onto the sugar mixture, whisking constantly.

Wash out the saucepan and pour the mixture back into it. 
Heat gently, stirring with a wooden spoon until the custard is thickened, but before any lumps form.