Note

This is just a quick note for anyone who might find themselves on this version of the site or anyone who is signed up to receive new blog posts via e-mail.

I am still blogging but have moved the blog over to Blogger. The new address is:

https://dan2point01.blogspot.co.uk/

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Meat

It feels like there’s more pressure to be a vegetarian in 2018 than ever before. I try to live ethically and do as much as I can to protect the environment and make the world better. The next logical step is to become a vegetarian but it’s not something I’m going to do.

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In principle I am against killing things. There has been talk on bringing back the fox hunting ban recently and grouse shooting still happens every year. How can killing an animals ever be fun? It’s not sport unless the animal you are trying to kill has an equal chance of killing you. Ruthless murder is not a hobby.

Sometimes it’s argued that foxes are pests, as are many other animals. The usual answer is to kill them (it’s still perfectly legal to shoot foxes). I have some sympathy here but culling should be a last resort if an animal is genuinely having an adverse effect. It’s society’s fault that animals are causing us problems, not the animals. Deterrent and relocation has got to be a better method than killing.

Though fur farming is illegal in the UK it’s still something which goes on across the world. There’s some debate into issues with faux fur using plastics but there’s no way wearing fur is right in the modern world. Killing an animal because you want a nice coat is not OK.

But then we get to meat. Part of me agrees with the argument that animals shouldn’t be raised just to be turned into meat. There are debates about it but generally humans are considered to be omnivores and meat is part of our diet. It’s not something I’m comfortable with but something I accept.

There’s overwhelming evidence that farmed animals contribute to greenhouse gases and therefore climate change. This is obviously not good. When I have looked into vegetarian options in the past I have found it difficult. If you live in a city then you can easily find meat substitutes but here in a small town it’s not so easy. It’s likely my carbon footprint would be larger travelling to get meat free substitutes than eating meat. I also can’t help but think farmed animals are a drop in the ocean compared to the vast amounts of fossil fuels that are used.

For me it’s all about doing things as ethically as possible. I try to make sure meat I buy comes from the UK which means it has less food miles, isn’t destroying a forest somewhere and follows tighter regulations than other places. There’s absolutely no reason why animals being raised for the meat industry can’t have a perfectly happy and comfortable life. It doesn’t always happen but as a consumer I do my best to only buy products that can claim that. The same goes for other food products like eggs and milk. Both can be produced by animals that are treated really well, and should be.

There are things to look out for when shopping. You’ll usually see a clear union flag on meat from the UK and many products have some sort of description about where the food came from. Initiatives like the RSPCA Assured can tell you very quickly that the animals were well treated. You should ignore farm names on supermarket foods which are usually fake and the word ‘organic’ just means few chemicals have been used and does not mean the same as free range.

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Maybe one day we’ll all be vegetarians but I can’t see that happening any time soon. The food industry is gradually getting better at treating animals how they deserved to be treated though in some areas there is still a long way to go. I believe we can still eat meat and animal derived products in a way that does limited harm to animals.

This is a controversial issue for some but I am happy to accept polite comments from anyone who wants to share their thoughts.

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Winter Adventures

2018 is so far proving to be a particularly odd one in term of weather. It wouldn’t surprise me if I saw an old man herding pairs of animals onto a sizeable vessel given the amount of rain we’ve had over the last week.

Before that, it was snow. Anything more than a few flakes here in the South of England is quite unusual and I have to confess to being delighted when it meant I ended up with an extra two days off work. Whilst it can be immensely inconvenient if you need to travel in it, I love the way snow can make anywhere gain a magical quality- it’s like the ultimate Instagram filter.

The cold temperatures remained for a few days and so all the snow froze making getting about something of a challenge. The roads were like speed skating tracks which inevitably led to me falling over dramatically twice. It turns out dyspraxia and a shit load of ice are not a good combination.

Two weeks later and we had another barrage of snow, an unprecedented occurrence (in my lifetime at least). By this point we were all hardy survivors and made our way as if we were Ernest Shackleton, no longer phased by the white sprinkling. Give it another year though and we’ll all have forgotten and it will be snowmageddon again.

For a variety of reasons I’ve ended up visiting various towns I wouldn’t normally go to over the last few months. Salisbury was the first with its magnificent cathedral always catching your eye.

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By sheer coincidence I found myself at a spot near where famous British artist John Constable painted one of his paintings of the cathedral. Of course I had to have a go at re-creating it in photographic form. It hasn’t changed too much in nearly two hundred years though John had more favourable weather!

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Another trip saw me go to Bath which was really cold considering baths are normally warm. I haven’t visited the town for many years and though it had a lot to offer it’s not the same without the Cadbury cafe that used to be there. I did take this rather lovely photo of Bath abbey however.

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My most recent town trip was to Wareham which it turns out is a really lovely little town.

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Wareham is one of those towns which doesn’t appeared to have changed much for hundreds of years. During my explorations I even discovered the Town Pound, where stray animals used to be taken and incredibly still exists.

Sadly not everywhere I ended up was lovely. A few weeks ago I ended up going to the Somerset town of Yeovil which was like Hell only with wetter weather. Everything was grey and dilapidated, there was dog poo all over the place and I even witnessed a group of teenagers shouting abuse at a man in a mobility scooter. My top tip for visiting Yeovil? Don’t!

That’s it for today but with any luck I’ll be back with some other nonsense next week.

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Another Year Older

I’m currently doing my best to enjoy the Easter holidays, even if the weather is doing it’s best to prevent that. It was another really challenging term at work and the long nights didn’t help. But despite all sorts of challenges I made it through.

A few weeks ago was my twenty-sixth birthday. I’m not sure how I feel about being twenty-six- if anything it feels like somehow has miscalculated or I spent a few years in a coma.

This year I tried the revolutionary strategy of not telling anyone it was my birthday. I don’t like being the centre of attention and I feel like people should be celebrating the life of someone who deserves it. Obviously my family knew as did a few friends but I made no effort to celebrate.

I removed my birthday from Facebook too. Whilst some people actually do care, I know the majority of birthday messages on the social network are insincere. People write a message because Facebook tells them to and if they really did care they might actually show some interest in you.

Therefore no-one at work knew it was my birthday and so it was a perfectly normal day. Since then I’ve noticed some people mentioned that their birthday is coming up excessively and to me it just feels selfish. Perhaps my way of going about things is not particularly normal but I’d rather do this than the opposite extreme.

Aging is not fun. Over the last year I saw I’ve gradually started to go bald. I’ve always had a high forehead (it turns in my family) but now my hairline has started to recede even further. It’s also thinning around the crown. Weirdly the hair at the back of my head is as thick as it’s always been. I only have to look at my uncle to see where my hair is heading- as I understand it, he too started to lose his hair from a long age.

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I’m gradually turning into Charlie Brown…

Going bald is not something you really think about and certainly not something I would have imagined might happen to me any time before retirement. It’s not something I think about that much because after all you can’t see your own head. But when I catch my reflection in something or see a photo of myself I immediately notice how thin my hair is looking.

Is a future of being called “egghead” on the horizon (and not as part of a teatime quiz show as I dream of)? I don’t know. I’ve never been too bothered about my appearance but for some reason this does bug me. It’s something I can’t control and unlike my teenage acne something which will get worse over time rather than better. It make me feel less attractive, and I wasn’t exactly brimming with physical attractiveness in the first place.

I suppose it’s time to buy a range of hats.

Still, getting older isn’t all bad. Though I still struggle with my self-confidence age and experience does help. I meet new people all the time, especially at work, and though I still find it incredibly difficult to talk to strangers I at least feel I have knowledge of my work and plenty of other things around me. Like the fact that the word ‘panini’ is actually plural- if you are eating a ‘panini’ you are really eating a panino. It makes me squirm now when I see it written incorrectly on menus and signs. Anyway, the point is I am gradually, if painfully slowly, beginning to find a place in the world.

I am hoping to start writing more regularly here again, about once a week if I can. It’s an opportunity to flex my writing muscles if nothing else. You can comment on this entry or the link that sent you here if I so move you to do so. See you soon.

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Ashley Heath

I spend a lot of time wandering around the local countryside and I’m constantly finding out interesting things about the places I’m in. Today I’ve written about the local village of Ashley Heath…


Ashley Heath is a village in Dorset, England. Confusingly address’ in the village state it as being part of the nearby town of Ringwood, though Ringwood is actually across the county boundary in Hampshire.

Ashley Heath is home to what is purportedly the smallest high street in Britain.

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A plaque on the building tells us more about it- for ease I’ve transcribed it below.

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William Webb// 1862-1930 // Father of Ashley Heath

Came to Ashley Heath in 1920 and reclaimed 1500 acres of heathland to build a garden estate to be called “Hampshire Heath Garden Estate”. Dwellings were built, most in plots of 1 acre. They included “Moorside” (now Struan Hotel) [Struan Hotel later became ‘The Struan’ pub but a few years ago was demolished.] and the High Street. Illness struck and he died in January 1930. He is buried at Purley in Surrey where he has build a garden village before the First World War.

The High Street// Ashley Heath// Smallest in Britain

This building is exactly as it was when first build in the 1920s, consisting of four shops. The construction is of a unique form designed by William Webb. They were the centre of the village to be known as “Hampshire Heath Garden Estate” to serve the need of the villagers who were to live here. The clock, bearing the inscription “The Night Cometh”, struck only between 7.00AM and 10.00PM to indicate the working day and the period of rest. A few buildings of the original village still remain.

Now there is some debate about whether Ashley Heath does have the smallest high street in Britain or not. The town of Holsworthy in Devon claims the same and claims it is 100m long and has three shops. Now Ashley Heath does have one more shop but there are no records of exactly how short the high street is- by my reckoning it’s shorter than 100 metres though.

For a while a railway line passed through Ashley Heath, the Southampton and Dorchester Railway. The railway first opened in 1847 but it wasn’t until 1927 that Ashley Heath Halt station was opened- by this point the village and those near it were now deemed big enough for a station. The station closed in 1964 as part of the Beeching cuts.Despite serving what is small a fairly small place, the station had two long concrete platforms, each with a shelter.Despite having been closed since the sixties one of the platforms and the sign still exist to this day.

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Ashley Heath Halt in 1960

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The former railway line is now a walking and cycling route called The Castleman Trailway. Though nature is slowly reclaiming signs of the railway, every now and then you stumble upon something from that time.

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Everywhere has a story if you look hard enough! I may do an occasional series of this sort of thing if there’s any interest in it. That’s all for now though, thanks for reading!

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The Problem with Men

The news has been dominated recently by news of powerful people in Hollywood, Westminster and beyond. It turns out various men in positions of power have been sexually assaulting people. I don’t think it’s a surprise that this happens but it’s horrible to hear of the specific people involved and the horrific things they’ve done.

Before I go any further I want to make it clear my views on this in case my writing doesn’t make it clear. I have no sympathy for the perpetrators of this type of crime and every sympathy for the victims. I can’t begin to imagine the psychological effect this has on victims and how hard it must be to come out and tell the world a terrible moment of their life. Some still accuse victims of bringing it on themselves but the only person to blame is the abuser.

The whole situation is really unsettling. Is this what men are really like? I’ve never been the most ‘laddish’ of guys and I’m glad of that if this is what it means. This isn’t about me and I’m not going to start with the ‘not all men’ argument. What I am trying to do is understand why men do this kind of thing.

Specifically, these men have been raping and touching victims, verbally degrading them and showing their genitals. They’ve got away with it by using their position to intimidate their victims into staying silent.

How can these people live with themselves? To go so far to get their end away and destroy someone’s life in the process. Surely they know just how wrong their actions are?

I think some of these people, especially those who commit the very worst crimes, have mental health issues. They either don’t care that they are a monster or can’t resist temptation. I don’t think there’s a whole lot we can really do about these people- all we can do is ensure they are stopped when they do something awful. How many of the celebrities currently in the spotlight had accusations towards them ignored or not investigated fully?

I think other people, generally those who commit what society would describe as “less serious” crimes, genuinely don’t understand what they are doing is wrong. It probably stemmed from being a teenager surrounded by friends who all thought objectifying and groping women was something to be proud of. No-one has ever convinced these people that this is totally unacceptable.

It’s ridiculous in a civilised world that “lad” behaviour still exists. When I was a student a lot of my friends were women (there was a ratio of 8:2 female to male on my course). I regularly used to go out to clubs with them and find myself having to try and stop men from groping and grinding on them. I wasn’t that confident a person and probably didn’t do as much as I could have to stop it- I was intimidated by these people. I feel guilty about not having done enough but then I think no, it wasn’t my fault it was the idiots that were doing it.

That sort of thing remains perfectly accepted behaviour amongst young men, encouraged even. I don’t know why. What makes you cool, what makes you a true man, is knowing how to behave like a human being.

I hope at least some good things can come out of this scandal. I hope men start to understand what’s right and what’s wrong. I hope that organisations will now not protect the accused and investigate accusations seriously. I hope that victims are able to feel more confident about speaking up.

I’ll end with a few things for any men that happen to be reading this that still don’t get it, still don’t understand the effect their behaviour can have.

First of all, here’s a video which explains consent- using tea.

Finally, this is a really sad video that highlights what it’s like to be a rape victim. (This contains some detailed descriptions so be aware).

I hope I’ve done this difficult subject justice. It may be difficult but it’s so vital we talk about it.

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Rejuvenation

I’m sorry the old Dan can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, because he’s dead.

I couldn’t resist bastardising Taylor Swift to open this new post. Things are looking up. It’s difficult to explain quite why but I’m feeling more positive about who I am. I feel a little more confident in myself which is great.

I thought I’d get back into blogging. For so long I have been embarrassed about pretty much every aspect of my life but I feel it’s about time I was true to myself. Which is why I’ve shared this post on Facebook where people I know can actually see it. 

I’ve been blogging on and off since I was a teenager and it’s just become a thing I do. I started this blog in 2014 when I failed my teaching practice and didn’t know where my life was heading. The concept was, and remains, that I am trying to become a better version of myself, a Dan 2.0 if you will. It’s also a place where I can just write about stuff which is something I like to do.

An update then. Well, at the end of the summer term I applied for a promotion to become a higher level teaching assistant. I had to put together a portfolio essentially showing how I am good at my job. I was delighted when I was accepted and so I’m now a higher level TA. 

It’s lovely to get some recognition for my hard work over the last few years. After failing to qualify as a teacher it’s great to be recognised as a good educator. As a higher level TA I regularly lead the class and small groups but I don’t have the responsibility of a teacher. Ideally I’d want to be paid more but in many ways it’s the best of both worlds. 

I’ve also made an effort to be a bit more healthy. I’ve been making salads and other things for my lunches and cutting out unhealthy snacks. I’ve lost a fair bit of weight, perhaps not so you’d notice on the outside but I really feel it on the inside. I’ve not changed my diet too dramatically but it’s enough really made a difference. 

My other piece of news is that I bought a new car. My 2004 Renault Clio had an annoying electrical fault which caused the car to limit it’s acceleration. When the warning light went on my speed was limited to 50mph and I couldn’t accelerate properly. Little old ladies were zooming past me despite the fact my foot was on the floor. There were also lots of minor issues like both the sunroof and the passenger door leaking.
My new car is a 2013 Renault Twingo which had hardly been used before I bought it. It doesn’t leak, it accelerates and as a bonus I can plug my iPod into the stereo. I hadn’t quite realised how miserable it was making me driving a rubbish car every day and my commute is now much more positive. 

That’s not to say every part of my commute is positive. One day last week a driver somehow concluded that it was my fault they were a bad driver. They pulled into the lane next to me and crawled along shouting abuse. My main thought on this was that I work with autistic children and frankly this driver was failing to live up to the abuse I’ve come to know and love.

It may have been rubbish but I think you have a certain connection to your first car.  I was sad to see it go- cue silly video (you’ll need the sound on for this):

If this was your first experience of my blog then that was the sort of nonsense you can get used to here. I’m aiming to start writing weekly here and whilst some posts will be about things I’ve been up to, others will be discussing major news stories. Please do comment below or on the social media link that took you here if you feel that way inclined and I may well respond to any comments in a future post. Next week I’ll be discussing the wave of sexual harassment cases that have swept Hollywood, Westminster and beyond.

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