I’ve been thinking about taking stock


It’s that time of year again! No, I’m not talking about New Years resolutions, revolutions, or recessions. Rather, it is time for London Zoo’s annual stock take in which keepers face the mighty challenge of counting every beast, bird and insect at the zoo.

Many years ago, my brother and I embarked upon the equally daunting task of holding a census for our esteemed collection of cuddly toys. No less than 210 soft toys were summoned to my bedroom and arranged in alphabetical order. Each toy went through a thorough preening process where umbilical cords (or ‘unbiblical cords’ as we called them) were removed and family ties were established. Naming ceremonies were performed for those that had not yet been named (such as ‘Bump’ and ‘Knock’ for a pair of slippers, ‘Norwich man’ for a knitted green thing, and ‘Flubble’ for a bizarre homemade pom-pom).

Each toy was given a unique number, and a strict rota was put into place whereby once a week the toys in our beds would be replaced by the next five on the list. The idea was that through the course of the year every toy would have had a turn in our beds. Of course, I had no intention of sticking to the rota as I was more than happy to keep my old favourites (Old Bear and Honey) as permanent residents in my bed.

What I didn’t factor for were weekly tantrums from my brother who screamed and wailed as he exclaimed— tears streaming down his face— that if we didn’t stick to the rota then it wouldn’t be ‘fair’ on the toys. Although I was more than happy to show preferential treatment to Old Bear and Honey, I didn’t want to protest too loudly with all the toys within earshot, so I conceded. However, I can’t say I cared much for the week when I was obligated to share my bed with ‘Throw’ (a ball) and my brother’s ‘Ultimate Warrior’ wrestling doll.


I’ve been thinking about Father Christmas


I’ve been thinking about Father Christmas and how, as a child with skewed theology, I would often confuse him with God; they are both everywhere, they both know whether you’ve been naughty or nice, and one of them gives you presents. We owned this rather garish door decoration which spent most of the year on top of my wardrobe in a bin liner:

I was convinced that Father Christmas was using it as eyes to spy on me, so I endeavoured to be as good as possible.

One winter, Father Christmas accidentally left his hat under our tree and I took great care of it for a whole year, not letting my brother too near it (“Karen, can’t we just keep it? He’ll never know!” “Of course he’ll know! He knows everything and you won’t get presents if you’re bad!”), and only trying it on at rare occasions. I left Father Christmas a note the following Christmas, explaining how well I had looked after his hat and hoping he hadn’t been too cold without it. I wanted to add that my brother had tried to steal it, but I figured Father Christmas knew this already and would punish my brother accordingly. The next day it was still there, this time with a bag of sweets and a letter; ‘Dear Karen, Thank you for looking after my hat. You can keep it because I have a new one. P.S. Share the sweets with your brother.

An early lesson in grace I suppose.

I’ve been thinking about peculiar search terms


More than 3,000 people have stumbled upon my blog whilst in search of better things. Of those, a significant number (I can’t do maths but let’s say at least 70%) of searchers were looking for pictures of people GURNING of all things! Search terms have included ‘gurning’, ‘gurning faces’, ‘gurning world championships’, ‘gurning smile’,  and, ‘old man gurning’. So being, I suppose, an expert on the matter, here are a few special gurns:

However, it’s not all about the gurning. Other searches have included ‘horse yawning through window at surprised boy’, ‘crowds of people cleaning the world’, ‘alien we come in peace hand outstretched’, ‘man being hit with a spoon’, ‘half human half rat baby’, and, ‘he quickly put the tin of soup into his pocket and moved towards the checkout’.

Three whole people found my blog by searching for ‘the plainest face in the world’, three more wanted ‘a reindeer wearing trainers’, and to my surprise, a total of four people arrived after searching for ‘a horse doing a poo.’ I’ll have you know there are NO horses doing poos on my blog. Well, except for this one:

I’ve been thinking about toast sandwiches


Priced at 7.5p a portion, the ‘Toast Sandwich’ has been hailed the cheapest nutritional lunchtime meal. Simply toast a slice of bread and whack it between two slices of bread and add salt and pepper to taste. Some butter is optional (don’t spoil yourself).

The meal harks back to Victorian cookery writer Isabella Beeton who also suggested ‘Toast and Water’ as a refreshing drink; namely toast soaked in boiling water. You must, however, allow the concoction to grow cold before you drink it because should excitement get the better of you and you drink the treat before it has fully cooled down, Mrs Beeton warns very seriously, “If drunk in a tepid or lukewarm state, it is an exceedingly disagreeable beverage.”

In a grand unveiling of the ‘Toast Sandwich’ last week, the RSC (that’s the Royal Society of Chemistry, not the Royal Shakespeare Company) offered £200 to anyone who could come up with a cheaper meal.

I’m not sure if it’s the cheapest thing since sliced bread, but it’s certainly one of the dumbest.

I’ve been thinking about idiot-proof advertising


I was going to write a really insightful blog post about instructions for idiots (such as, ‘Use like regular soap’ on a bar of soap, and ‘Some assembly required’ on a jigsaw,) but the disclaimer at the end of this commercial really needs no further introduction…

I’ve been thinking about doing everything at once


A technical hitch meant that twenty minutes of fireworks were released in 50 seconds during a display in Oban.

It made me think about the implications of applying such a method to everyday life. For example, I could get all of life’s boring stuff (like cleaning) out of the way by doing it all at once.  Apparently, the average housewife spends 46,800 hours of her life doing housework… so if I begin now I’ll be done in five and a half years (with no time to sleep or eat, mind you). HOWEVER, once it was all over, I would never need to do it ever again and I could get all my allotted chocolate as my reward (10,354 bars) then laugh non-stop for 115 days. By then, I expect I’d be rather tired so I could take my allotted 26 years of sleep (which would include 104,390 dreams). Upon waking, I would drive 452,663 miles, go to the toilet (for a while), and eat 15 pigs.

I’ve been thinking about SEVEN BILLION people


Apparently, the world’s population has just tipped over seven billion. Now, that’s a LOT of people.

The BBC has a nifty little app to help you understand where YOU fit in at this momentous time. According to this app there were 4,750,722,928 people alive on the day I was born. It is nice to know that although I may never be the oldest person on Earth, I was once the youngest.

I’ve been thinking about a cake named Herman


I’ve been thinking about a cake named Herman. He’s kind of like a chain letter except he smells of yeast and comes with instructions to be stirred and spoken to every few days. After ten days, and some added ingredients, Herman splits into five parts (you cook one and pass the remaining four batches onto friends so that they can continue the chain.) Legend has it that this cake has been doing the rounds for years, leading either to a whole lotta love, or a mass pandemic of food poisoning.

I thought it was just a Leeds thing, until my sister-in-law in Suffolk texted me with the curious offer of sending me some ‘unbaked cake’. Fearing that it could be a Herman and I would be responsible for keeping him ‘alive’, I politely declined, feeling only slightly guilty that Amanda hadn’t found anybody who would take a batch off her hands. So imagine my joy and surprise when a COOKED Herman arrived for me this morning!

I gazed at it in wonder, knowing that this was no ordinary cake. This was Herman, the cake with a destiny. The cake who has endured for years. The cake whose siblings are being eaten round the country as I type. The cake which SHOULD have arrived unbaked forcing me to follow the instructions and multiply him in ten days time… Yet this Herman was not multiplied– he was baked before his time– so this is where his line ends, and oh, I don’t mind, because he tastes so good and eating him is so easy.

In closing, what’s better than a friendship cake that lasts forever? A sister-in-law who breaks the chain and cooks the cake for you instead!

I’ve been learning about Love


There are things in this world that make me afraid. There are things about others that make me angry. There are things within myself that make me ashamed. And I have spent a lot of time trying to change those things. But I’ve been learning that it all boils down to love.

‘Jesus loves you’ is a cliché because far too many people are more familiar with the idea of God’s ‘judgement’ than His love. Often, when the topic turns to God, it’s not disbelief I see in people’s eyes; it’s disappointment. Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you, He rises to show you compassion[1]. He is not looking for a fight.


I could complicate things by making this blog entry at least a hundred times as long, but really it’s quite simple. Love God and let Him change you. Love others and let God change them.

Text from 1 John 4, made with wordle.net

[1] Isaiah 30

I’ve been thinking about dogs dressed as people


Whilst on a recent visit to Robin Hood’s Bay, I was alarmed at the sight of a small dog wearing a French maid’s outfit. Unfortunately I didn’t get my camera out in time, but it looked a little bit like this:

It got me thinking about the kind of outfits I would like to wear if I was a dog. I imagine I would quite enjoy a baggy red hoodie with holes for my ears, fluffy slippers, and a long skirt to preserve my dignity. I was also drawn to this little number, which according to one website has a drawstring waist to ‘accentuate your dog’s girly figure’:

On the other hand, I might like to be the kind of pooch who dresses as my favourite film character, or superhero… or a turkey. And this is probably the point at which words cease.