Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Gorillas and Tigers and Elephants, Oh My! A Day at Howletts Zoo

Well, I've had a few days off work this week and decided to spend them productively so I have been busy busy busy! Yesterday I had my eyes tested and needed some new glasses so I shopped around and found myself some lovely DKNY frames, only £35 in the sale in Boots Opticians. For the past two years I have had black plastic specs and decided for something ever so slightly different and went for a red pair.

Today me and my younger sister took a little drive out to Howletts for a day at the zoo! Having only been to Port Lympne out of the two Aspinall founded zoos I thought it was about time I visited Howletts as well. The elephants were brilliant, and we got to see them at just the right time: they had just been fed and were all close to the front of the enclosure munching away. There was a huge matriarch elephant, adult, teenager and a baby elephant. The younger elephants were having a bit of a play and run around; unaware that their play was entertaining us all.

The rhino enclosures and safari are the highlights at Port Lympne zoo. But at Howletts, by a long way, the gorillas were the stars of the show. The Silverbacks, (who, by the way, were more than just a little bit smelly - the female gorillas must like it) were really impressive and quite happy showing off, banging the metal slides, thumping their chests and swinging the ropes. The other gorillas were either lazing around grazing through the hay for hidden food, or were at the edge of the enclosure seemingly just as interested in us as we are in them. The youngsters in particular enjoyed people-watching, and one little fella posed for ages while I took a few photos.

I highly recommend Howletts if you enjoy the gorillas, monkeys and lemurs, but if you are more of a tigers, lions and rhinos lover then Port Lympne is the place for you! Or, if you are feeling particularly greedy, go for the annual pass and visit both zoos as many times as you like!
For a link to the Howletts and Port Lympne website:

Friday, 21 August 2009

Ticket Touting - why do us fans have to foot the bill?

Hello Bloggers, I thought I would interupt my usual cake, shopping, and crafts based blogs to blog about something that is a problem to all of my fellow gig-goers. If like me, you love attending gigs and music events, then the chances are you have come across the infuriating situation where tickets have sold out in 4 minutes only to see those tickets on ebay or other auction sites for ten times the original price.

Me and my younger sister - who is a huge Paramore fan - found out about an intimate, one off gig in London. Tickets went on sale at 9am this morning and we were both on the phone and internet trying to get tickets. To our dismay the tickets sold out in under 4 minutes. Don't get me wrong, I was expecting there to be a lot of competition for tickets, and that they would sell out very quickly, but what I did not want to see was those same tickets that I was in an online queue to buy, up for sale on ebay mere minutes later. The tickets were originally priced at £5, and within an hour the tickets on ebay were up for sale with multiple bidders at £430... and the price just keeps going up. When I started writing this blog the touted tickets were being bidded on and were at £370, and in about 15 minutes the price has jumped up by £60 - over ten times the amount of the original ticket. It would not suprise me that the tickets will be sold for a hundred times the original ticket price. Now tell me this, how is that allowed? and what can we do to stop this from happening? It has been a hotly debated topic and problem as long as there have been gigs and sporting events, and the way that things are going, it will continue to plague us genuine ticket buyers for a while yet.

So what can be done?
Well to begin with, I would encourage you to sign this petition to urge the government to act in regards to ticket touting. http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/stoptouts/

Part of the trouble is that people do actually end up paying silly money on auction websites in order to attend gigs and events. I suppose, putting things very simplistically, if people just stopped buying the tickets from unofficial sources, the professional touters would not have a business. But of course, as long as there is a demand for tickets the touters will exploit that and use it as a means of making money. Plus, things are never as easy as that.

Glastonbury Festival has taken new measures to stop the ticket touting that had routinely robbed hundreds of people of their hard earned cash just because they want to attend a music event. All Glastonbury tickets have the buyer's name and photograph on, thus virtually eliminating the professionally touted tickets. The tickets are checked to ensure that the tickets have not been re-sold. Also, the buyers are limited to two tickets per person to prevent people from buying lots of tickets to sell on for a profit.

One of the issues that would arise if ticket touting for music events was made illegal would be what would happen with those people who genuinely need to sell their tickets on because they are no longer to attend the gig or their circumstances have changed? To help those people, ethical websites have been set up to allow fans to sell their tickets on without profit to other fans who still need tickets. But doesn't that just perpetuate the cycle? What is stopping professional ticket touters from cruising the "ethical websites", buying the tickets, and simply selling them on again at a profit? The internet has made the ticket touter's life very easy indeed and it is up to the music industry and government to find a way of avoiding this from happening.

It is currently illegal to resell tickets for football matches. This measure was brought about to help control football violence, but it has also lead to the end of football ticket touting. So is making it illegal to sell on gig tickets the way forward? What I can say is that it is a very difficult problem to tackle. But if something isn't done about it soon, it will certainly put me off attending mainstream gigs and gigs where, potentially, the demand is going to outstrip the supply. Until the government and music industry can come up with an answer that actually has an impact, fans, promoters and performers will always have to foot the bill and face the consequences of touted tickets.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Pirates, cakes and more cakes!

It is Hastings Old Town Carnival week and I have been loving the festivities, especially pirate day. I spent the day at work dressed as a pirate, singing sea shanties and face-painting. Then we all headed into the old town for some more pirate themed fun. There were supposed to be sea shanties being performed in a little old town pub, so me and the work colleagues decided to go check it out. But to our dismay the sea shanties had been cancelled! Not that that stopped us, we started our own impromptu sea shanties singing session instead, all good fun.
But on my travels from pub to pub I spotted the window display in Interior Illusions, a shop on Hastings old town highstreet. I loved the cute floral tea cups (even though I don't drink the stuff) the cupcake fridge magnets, the chocolate scented calculator, the polka dot cupcake trinket boxes and most of all, I loved the flannels and towels that were made to look like swiss roll and cupcakes! Who knew that something as ordinary as a flannel could be made to look so appealing!?
And now, after flicking through the Tv Channels I have spotted that 'Ace Of Cakes' is on, so I'm going to settle down to watch some crazy professional cake baking and decorating in action. I would love to work there... this crayons cake is one of my faves.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

bargains, soup and sunshine!

Well lovely Bloggers, it's a beautiful day! The sunshine is out and the shops are open, So I thought I would see if I could grab myself a bargain or two! I spotted a new shop in town that had only just opened, and decided to have a little peek. It is a clothes shop but to my delight they had some home bit and bobs at the back hidden away. I managed to buy this cute little mug complete with polka dot fairy cake design and the slogan, 'I love Fairy Cakes' on it, for £1! I also got two photo frames for £1 each and a lovely little floral material lined white basket, for £3... not a bad little bundle of purchases all for the princely sum of £6!

I also felt the urge to treat myself to a bit of a Marks and Spencer lunch. None of the sandwiches were really doing it for me, so i got a gorgeous slab of cheese, onion and mustard bread instead. It was delicious sliced up and dunked into my broccoli soup! yummmo!

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Rice Crispie cakes, Homemade Hummous and Peanut butter cookies

Well my fellow bloggers and blog-readers! I have been baking again this week, First on the Agenda... peanut butter cookies. There is something I LOVE about the slightly salty sweetness of these crunchy-on-the-edges-and-soft-in-the-middle cookies. They also make a perfect little treat for me to have for my lunch at work this week!

These are my special rice crispie cakes.... they are divine! The rice crispie base is made with a bit of butter mixed with melted Mars Bars... heavenly! Topped with creamy milk chocolate, and left to set in the fridge.

I also made (for the first time) my own hummous from scratch. It all went according to plan, making my own tahini paste, adding, garlic, oil, lemon, chickpeas, until it came to the addition of red peppers. Unfortunately they were quite juicy and it only served to water down the hummous and make it taste a tad bland. I think perhaps next time I might make a spicy hummous, with either chilli or jalapeno's. But loathe to waste food, I teamed it with some mini toasted pitta breads and some olives and it went down a treat!

Ooh! Me and my boyfriend have been putting our green fingers to use as well. We have been growing our own pepper plant... and this is the first of our mini harvest! It's great fun growing your own food and I highly recommend it! This little Pepper certainly isn't as large or perfectly shaped as the peppers from supermarkets but it is extra special as it was grown with my own two hands! :D