The Real Junkfood Roadshow (Or – Educating People One Delicious Meal At A Time)

Poem by Ken Duddle (One of the “The Real Junkfood Project” Volunteers)

OK – so it wasn’t technically a “Roadshow” as such.  The “Super Saturday” event which usually happens at the West End Centre, Andrewes Street, Leicester, just moved itself to the Riverside Festival on Saturday.

Before I continue I suppose I had better declare an interest in this great bunch of people.  I am one of the Volunteers.  However, you won’t see me serving or cooking at any of their events (even though I helped out on Thursday afternoon).  I am more of the “Behind the scenes” Volunteer – as in – I do the Admin.

The “Pay As You Feel” concept is a very good idea.  You don’t even have to pay in money – you can volunteer your services instead.  This has the effect of allowing everybody to be treated as equals (whether or not they can afford to pay with money).

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you will probably recognise the “Menu” board from whenever I am having my Thursday night dinner at the “Pay As You Feel Cafe”.

I must admit that Thursday afternoon was an eyeopening experience for me.  Put it this way – I got a big shock when I saw the food which had been collected from various places.  There was lots of it.

At the Leicester “Pay As You Feel” Cafe they also have a “Food Boutique” where you can pick up some perfectly edible food which has been thrown out by supermarkets, etc, that you can use at home.

The motto of The Real Junkfood Project is “Feed Bellies Not Bins” and – if you could see the amount of food which the Leicester gang collect from various places – you may get some idea of the best way to solve the problems with people going hungry unnecessarily.  Use the food which Supermarkets throw away to feed people who honestly cannot afford the crazy prices you have to pay for thngs like fresh fruit and vegetables.

I am really tempted to suggest that the Police sign up to the Junkfood initiative – and either donate their excess food or serve food which has been prepared by their nearest Junkfood Project in their stations.

Is there any way of the Junkfood Project being incorporated into the Criminal Justice System???  Either as a volunteering opportunity or as a place where people can get a healthy meal without being judged???

What I love most about the Junkfood Project is not the food itself – it is the way of bringing the community together – and helping people to learn about each other.






The next recipe I have really enjoyed making for my family are baked soft pretzels.   I make a batch of these, freeze them, then pop one in the microwave when I feel snacky!  They are chewy, tasty,  salty (or sweet) and satisfying.   Yum!😋

Here’s how it’s done…..

1st make your dough.  Again, I use a bread maker to make my dough using this recipe:

1 1/2 c warm water

1T sugar

1 1/2 t  salt

1 egg, beaten

4 1/2 c flour

2 t yeast

After the dough cycle is complete  (2 hrs) place the dough on a lightly floured surface.


Break a small ball of dough off and roll it out on a clean, dry surface.


At this point you can create whatever shapes, balls,  rings, braids, twists you like.  My family loves pretzel bites, so from a strip (pictured above) just cut it into 10, 2cm pieces.

After forming all your dough into pretzels, it’s time to boil them in a large pot of water with 1/2 c of baking soda mixed in.

wpid-2015-04-15-14.25.08.jpg.jpgGently drop 3-4 pretzels in the boiling water and boil for 30 sec., flip, then 30 sec. on the other side.

wpid-2015-04-15-14.32.05.jpg.jpgCool on a drying rack, then place on a baking sheet.   First, brush on a little bit of oil,  then sprinkle generously with coarse salt or cinnamon and sugar.

  • Bake at 400° for 15-20 min.


Let cool (if you can wait😆) and enjoy! We sure do!

Your Simply Susan recipe of the day! 😆

Lies We Are Told About “The Body Beautiful” (Or – Why I Am Becoming Proud Of My Scars!)

I feel I should do the same as the Mainstream TV Media would do in instances like this blog post.  So – here goes;

WARNING – This Blog Post contains images some readers may find disturbing!!!

It is funny how you sometimes can look at something a million times yet not really see it unless someone points it out to you.  It is also funny how people can be offended by the strangest things.

After all – apparently photos of scantily clad (as in naked or near-naked) women can be printed in mainstream newspapers and hardly anyone complains.  The minute someone shows photos like the ones below – people start getting a bit squeamish and disturbed.




Yes – this blog post is about a recent phenomenon I am calling “Scar-shaming”.

Please note – all the scars in the above photos (whether or not they are blatently obvious or you need to peer really closely to see them) are the author’s own.  Not only that – they have been on my person for as long as I can remember.  The faint one on my torso is almost as old as I am.

As you can imagine I am slightly sick and tired of there appearing to be one rule for people who have “earned” their scars – be it as a result of a life-threatening injury (stabbing, etc), as a result of fighting for their country, or as a result of illness like meningitis – and another rule for those of us who have scars as a result of life-saving surgery.

The scars I have shown you in the above photographs are on “public display” most of the time (unless I am wearing something which hides them – as in – socks, a long sleeved top, a jumper, etc) and the chances are – if you have seen me – you have seen at least one of them.  (Most probably the one near my collarbone.)

It may surprise you to realise that there are very few parts of my body which do not look like someone has practised their embroidery on me for whatever reason.  You may have to peer closely at me – or catch me when I am wearing different clothes – in order to locate some of the needlework.

I count myself as extremely lucky that my scars only became an issue shortly after I had started secondary school.  I think I have told you about the time when I was getting changed for a swimming lesson and one girl pointed at my front and said “Ugh, what’s that???”?

I am now going to show you what she was pointing at.

(You have to imagine the rest of the scar from near my collarbone going down to meet the top of the vertical scar – I didn’t want to get arrested for putting pornographic photos on here!)

Forget the idea of “Page 3” photos giving me an inferiority complex due to my scars – that girl got in way before I had heard of “Page 3”.

Quite a few years later I managed to shock my Mum by telling a public audience about how the three scars on my torso made me feel.  (I had kept my feelings to myself before that point and she had thought I had found a way to cope with them on my own.)  I still don’t like looking in the mirror when I am in what some might describe as “a state of undress”.

So – in future – please be a little more respectful towards those of us with scars from lifesaving operations (be they scars which have been around for a lifetime or from recent operations for things like cancer).  After all – without the scars – the people they are attached to would not be alive today.

I am not asking you to go for the sympathy vote – as in “Aww – you poor thing”.  Look if you want to (don’t stare) – and ask me about them.  I am happy to tell you about them (as much as I can).

And if you meet a child (or your children meet another child) with serious scarring on their body – please please don’t make them feel ashamed of their appearance.  They have got enough to deal with when they are subjected to fashion and media photos of the “perfect” (unblemished) body.

I must admit this is yet another of those blog posts I really wish I didn’t have to type.  You can pass comment on whether or not you think I should have written it or included the photos – but – remember – this is an issue I have dealt with for most of my life in one way or another.  Just please don’t call me “brave” for doing it.  If you want to do something constructive – get angry at the people who make the decisions as to what is “palatable” for society to see in photographic images and complain about the fact that there are not more photos of scars which are presented in a “positive” way.

I am scared for the next generation of children who will grow up with serious scarring for whatever reason and feel forced to hide themselves away as a result of them  – and the lies the Media tell about them not being “perfect” because of them.

We are all special and we should all be allowed to present ourselves in whatever way we like – scarred or unscarred – without being judged by people who do not know the full story.

Talking About Being Prepared In Case Of Crisis (Or – We All Have Our Part To Play In Getting A Booklet Correct)

There are times when words just fail me.

I am looking at a booklet which I was handed on Friday by a friend of mine called Julian Harrison (yes – he has been mentioned in a previous blog post).

He would like your help with a consultation process relating to the information provided to people with Mental Health Issues regarding Advance Planning.  This is so people know what to do when your condition worsens to such an extent that you do not have the capacity to make decisions for yourself.

Now – I am not exactly the most highly intelligent person on the planet but I am having trouble trying to break the information into manageable chunks in order to wrap my brain cells around it.

It is written in a language which is theoretically aimed at patients and their carers.  However, it appears to have been written by someone who has never experienced the situation for themselves.

What Julian would like to do is find out how the information can be more accessible to patients, carers, and the “Generally interested”.

If you have any experience of Mental Health Issues – and you would like to help Julian – please email him at or call him on 07767297566.

My Favourite Holidays

I thought that – seeing as there is a Bank Holiday coming up I would tell you about the difference between the single Dutch Christmas I experienced and the English ones – as well as my all time favourite “Bank Holiday” of New Year – Dutch style.

When I was young my parents decided to ring the changes one year and go over to Holland for Christmas.  This was before the commercialisation of Christmas had hit Holland – so the Dutch had “Sinterklaas” on 5 December, when they got their presents, followed by a quiet and somber Christmas, followed by “Oud en Nieuw” (or – New Year’s Eve).

There is one thing I still love about Christmas and New Year’s Eve in Holland.  The Dutch go in for white Christmas Lights.  So – when you drive on the motorway between Hoek van Holland and Rotterdam – you see what look like white fairylights strung along the edge of the motorway.  (I was really disappointed when Dad ponted my “fairylights” out as we were driving to Hoek van Holland one day and all I saw were cranes.)

As I said at the beginning – my favourite “Bank Holiday” is New Year’s Eve – Dutch style.

Because my parents and I had Christmas with my English Grandparents at the proper time we did the present giving with my Oma (Dutch Grandma) on New Year’s Eve.

My two favourite things about a Dutch New Year’s Eve are food and fireworks.  Put it this way – If you would like some indication of what the Bombardment of Rotterdam must have sounded like during World War II – go over to Rotterdam on New Year’s Eve.  The best place to experience it (as I found out after Oma had died) is on the banks of the river Rotte – looking back towards the city centre.  It looked fantastic with the fireworks and the laser show.

(To say the Dutch are fond of fireworks is something of an understatement.  To say that they are not so keen on the crashes caused by the smoke hanging around the next morning is also a bit of an understatement).

I mentioned food didn’t I???

There is one foodstuff which is traditionally munched at New Year’s Eve in Holland – they even have TV programmes showing you how to make them.  One memorable programme I saw on the subject of the best way to make “Oliebollen” involved a chipshop fryer and an ice cream scoop.

I had better explain what “Oliebollen” are, hadn’t I???  The literal translation of the name is “Oilballs”.  What they actually are is the original fruit doughnuts.  (Yes – Doughnuts originated in Holland.)

My Dad makes them at New Year’s Eve even now.  This keeps the memories of both my Oma and my Mum alive.

In fact, I remember when I had my first New Year’s Eve over here after Oma had died.  I walked around Leicester City Centre asking in different shops and supermarkets whether I could buy any Doughnuts.  You can probably imagine the shop staff looking at me as though I had completely lost the plot???

I was pleasantly surprised when – at 11pm English time (Midnight Dutch time) – my Dad produced a plate of Oliebollen.  We got some more at Midnight English time.

Sorry – did I forget to tell you that my parents and I celebrated the New Year twice (Dutch and English)???  My Dad and I still do.

Even though I haven’t been back over to Holland for New Year’s Eve for nearly 20 years my Dad and I still keep up the traditions associated with it.

The funny thing is that now the Dutch seem to have two “Christmas” times and the English seem to have two Guy Fawkes Nights.  I am sorry but I think the English should leave New Year’s Eve fireworks to the Masters (Dutch).


A Uni”Form” Of Honour

I have to admit my sense of humour can be a little difficult to understand at times.  Put it this way – it took someone a few minutes to work out what I meant when I informed them that something ‘served a “Ronseal” function’ (in this case I meant that it did “exactly what it said on the tin”).

However, there are times when even I find things too twisted for words.

For example – take the baseball caps the Police are now being issued with in place of their helmets or flat hats.

If you would like to read my full thoughts on this crime against a Police Uniform please click here – The Meaning Of A Uniform

I know that uniforms are supposed to include some aspect to make them comfortable to be worn for long periods of time.  However, is it really necessary to sacrifice Smartness for comfort???  I can only think of one uniform which has been changed for the better by people who do not wear it – and that is the one worn by the Brownies (I can still remember the horrible brown dress I used to have to wear as a Brownie).

If people are no longer allowed to take pride in their uniform – how can we expect them to take pride in their work for no other reason that they are doing a good job in difficult circumstances???

Bring back the smart hats.


Different Countries Have Different Rules Of Behaviour

If I was a jar of food I suppose my label would read “Product of more than one country”.  After all, I have got a surname that originally comes from France, a Christian name that comes from The Netherlands, a parent from The Netherlands, and a parent from England.  Oh – and I think I may have some German blood in my Dutch family as well.

However, you could say that my connection with The Netherlands also appears on every single official document which includes any personal information about me – even if it doesn’t explicitly state my late Mum’s nationality.

(If I want to confuse people I just tell them that my Mum and I were both born in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.  This is actually true up to a point.  My Mum was born in the actual city of Rotterdam.  You just need a diary and a telephone directory to find out how someone who was born in Kings Lynn in Norfolk, can claim to have been born in Rotterdam as well.  If you look up the international Dialling Code for Rotterdam you will find it is +31 10 – which happens to be the same as 31 October – my birthday.)

This may seem really strange to you but I feel more at home in Holland – even though I have never actually lived over there.  I have been over a couple of hundred times during my lifetime.

Something else which may surprise you is that there are a lot more rules and regulations about how to conduct yourself in Holland than you might have been led to believe.  (The idea you can get away with anything in Holland is something of a myth – unless you happen to be a tourist.)

There are two rules (which I consider to be “Dutch”) which I was brought up with.

The first one is always calling a stranger Mr or Mrs So-and-so until such a time as they tell me to use their Christian name.  I feel seriously uncomfortable when someone who is a lot older than me introduces themself to me by their Christian name alone.  I honestly don’t feel I am treating them with sufficient respect if I call them by their Christian name on first meeting them.

The second rule I was brought up with (and I later found out that they have the same thing in French and German) is the difference between “formal” and “informal”.  That is one thing I really miss when I am in England – I just hate the “one size fits all” you.  As in – “you” as both formal and informal.  “U” and “je” I can live with – same with “Vous” and “tu”, and “Sie” and “Du”.  In fact – this may surprise you but when I was in Holland a few years ago there was a discussion which made front page news in one Dutch National newspaper – whether or not to get rid of the formal “U” in the office environment.

Another couple of things I really love about Dutch people are – their insistence on shaking hands even when entering and leaving someone’s home – as well as their habit of blunt straight-talking.  Put it this way – the Dutch aren’t exactly known for tact and diplomacy.

I will leave you with something I found really confusing when I was growing up.

In the UK – if you are in a large group of people you are only supposed to speak to the people closest to you???  This is what is known as “being polite”.

In Holland – if you are in a large group of people feel free to bellow at the person sitting or standing across the room from you.  This is apparently seen as “being polite”.

There was one occassion when something else got my “oh oh – there may be trouble here” radar buzzing in Holland.  I had been half-listening to a discussion between two of my Mum’s uncles and my Dutch Grandma’s next door neighbour when I heard “Madam – you are wrong” (in Dutch of course).  For some reason my brain had switched itself into English mode (which explains why I started to feel nervous when I heard that remark) conveniently forgetting that Dutch people are programmed to call strangers “Sir” and “Madam” in conversation without being accused of sarcasm.

Different countries do have their own rules of behaviour – don’t be surprised if someone from another country does something you do not expect – instead try to learn a bit about their rules and customs.

And Now For Something Slightly Different

Up until now I have kept the blogging I do on here more directed towards things which could be useful in a “Business” setting – or more about me and my life.

I am going to try something a bit different today.  This was inspired by a conversation I had with someone on Friday (I will put a link to the blog post which resulted from that conversation near the end) and by the fact it is “Mental Health Week” this week.

What you may not know is that not only have I had time off work in my last job due to depression but one of my friends happens to be a retired Clinical Psychologist.

You could say that I have an interest in Mental Health (some of my friends have Mental Health issues) and I am fascinated by the differences and similarities in attitudes people have to Mental Health and Physical Disabilities.

If you have had a dig around in my personal blog you may have come across Mental And Physical Health Portrayals In Soaps which tackles that exact subject.

However, the conversation I had on Friday was a kind of flip side to the same subject.  It was more connected with attempting to educate people about how Mental Health issues and Physical Disabilities affect the person themself.  After all, you cannot expect people to have the same experiences as you.  I know how my sight affects me but I have learned to ration that information on a strict “Need to Know” basis.  (Nobody would be prepared to sit down for a very confusing lecture on exactly how my sight affects me – they would be mummified corpses by the time I had finished expanding on every little detail.)

Have a read of this blog post and see whether you agree with it – How Can You Give Someone Else Your Experiences??? (Or – We Are One But We Will NEVER Be The Same)

Why “Branding” Is More Important Than You Might Think!

We have all come across “Brands” in places like supermarkets, etc.  (Did you know that “Brand” in Dutch means “Fire”???)

However, there is another sort of “Branding” which may not be obvious to you – The colour schemes you find on Emergency Service vehicles.

In fact – I got the idea for this blog post from seeing three ambulances as I was on my way home.  For further information click here – The Ambulance Puzzle

You could say I rely on “Branding” more than most people.  After all, it tells me if the motorised vehicle I am attempting to flag down is a Minibus or a Tesco van (yes – I did try to flag one of those down once by mistake – it was dark and the lights on the front looked like a minibus).

So it can be a bit of a problem when there are several Brandings on the same kind of vehicle.  Take – for example – Arriva and their buses of many colours.  Correction – buses of many colour combinations (how many combinations of turquoise and white are there exactly???).

To be perfectly honest it wouldn’t be so bad if the Branding on the buses didn’t change so regularly.  (I would prefer it if they decided to make the Destination Boards big enough for me to read at a distance.)

What I am trying to say is – please find a “Branding” which works for you and stick to it.  Especially if you want me to feel confident about recognising it and associating it with your company.

It Is Not Only The Road Conditions Or The Weather Conditions You Should Worry About…

The condition of your passengers should also be taken into consideration.

Allow me to explain.

I admit this concept is more aimed at Bus Drivers (please see Please Drive For The Condition of Your Passengers for further explanation) but I think it is something that all drivers could do with considering.

This is not a way of treating all car drivers as idiots (although – sometimes I do wonder if I would actually make a better driver than some of the apparently blind and/or deaf drivers on our roads).  I intend this to be more of a “brush up”.

We have all seen the advertisements and other information advising drivers to consider the condition of the weather as well as the roads – as well as the “Think Bike” campaign and the “Fatal 4 (or 5)” campaign run by various Police Forces.

The strange thing is that the condition of your passenger(s) is never mentioned.  Are they secured into their seats properly? Are they comfortable with your style of driving? Would they feel comfortable in warning you if they weren’t?  (Maybe that last question is more important than the other two.)

We have all been around idiots who failed to pay close enough attention to the road conditions, the applicable speed limit, and the car’s speedometer.

As summer fast approaches – please take extra care when you are driving around – both with and without passengers.  Remember – the aim of your journery should always be to “Arrive Alive”.

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