Seeing as most members of our Agile Scrum team are based in India, and with Diwali coming up on 4th November, I wanted to facilitate a Retrospective that incorporated this significant religious festival.
Below is a simple board I put together for our team. It got an amazing response, arguably the best since the team was formed in April this year. For anyone else currently doing similar with their teams I hope it proves to be a useful kick-start.
A couple of videos that showcase just the level of my culinary abilities. I’d caveat it with something like, “it had been a long day in the office and/or it was 23:00 in the evening”, but it wasn’t. It was 19:00 and it was me, being me.
Part One – Preparation and Cooking
Part Two – Finishing Touches and the Taste Test
Oh, and here is the pastry I mentioned in the video, the free one.
I think it was a citrus tart. It tasted of lemons. It was going out of date that day, so someone came up to me and asked if I wanted it. Five days after said expiry date, I ate it (because that’s the kind of classy girl I am).
So, who wants to hire me as their private chef?
Enjoy this content? Please consider donating the price of a cup of coffee to my funding page:
It’s not often I hop onto my soapbox, least of all on anything bordering on political. That’s not what 99% of you guys came here for, to be quite honest it’s not really what I came here for. However it has now reached a stage where I cannot sit here in good faith and say nothing.
Back in March 2020, at the start of the first UK wide lockdown, all museums and attractions across England were forced to close. This included Swindon Museum and Art Gallery (SMAG), a small site located in the heart of the town’s oldest district. Like all respecting patrons of art and culture institutions up and down the country, I fully supported this government-enforced directive.
On the ending of the first lockdown in Summer 2020, Swindon Borough Council refused to reopen SMAG. While other heritage sites reopened their doors, awash with safety posters and guidance on basic handwashing, the chains around SMAG’s grand entranceway continued to rust with dejection. Now, in August 2021, dejection has slipped into acceptance, the rust into rot. It feels like culture was never here at all.
Throughout the assorted protests and disjointed cries from local residents, the council has strongly defended their decision, stating this move is only intended as a short-term measure. Other rumours speculate Covid being used as a thin veil of scapegoating the closure on underlying problems the council had been failing to redress for years, including low footfall, costly repairs and accessibility issues. This, and the proposed £33,000 per year saving it would make to the local budget, at a time when the council needs to urgently balance the books.
For the years I have lived in Swindon, I openly admit to being less that a frequent visitor to SMAG. In fact, one of the few visitations I made was on a first date with my (now) ex boyfriend, which dates it very well. It was a long time ago.
But, on the few times I went, I enjoyed it. Aside from the unchanging artefact exhibits (complete with the much-loved “Apsley the Croc”), there was also an extensive art collection which went through frequent rotations. I was never a fan of the 1960s extension, bolted on in the 1960s, but as far as the contents was concerned I respected and enjoyed the contents for what they offered. Only in hindsight do I realise how little I fully appreciated what we had; now it’s gone.
In some ways the council’s decision to close SMAG is predictable. For years, concern was tempered with optimism over plans to relocate the museum to a newly constructed “Cultural Quarter”, proposed as part of a 2019 bid for Heritage Lottery Funding. Housed closer to the train station, the site would also contain a digital media centre, dance studio, and an expanded 1200-seat Wyvern Theatre. It was estimated to cost £80 million to build, create up to 1200 jobs and pump in an estimated £35 million into the local economy. Sadly, this bid proved to be unsuccessful.
At the time of writing (August 2021), all capital investment projects are on hold. Headlines will often cite the pandemic as the main reason, however the pessimist in me would also cite that by the council’s own omission, work on constructing the theatre alone wasn’t due to start until 2025. In other words, this project was always going to be a slow burner.
During the course of writing this article, I’ve discovered Swindon Borough Council are now considering different options, including having an “Art Pavilion”, and/or touring Art and collections in pop-up spaces, in a format being referred to as “Museums Without Walls”. Citing the museum elsewhere is also being considered. But these conversations are incredibly early in the process, and this response is quite possibly driven by community action by the Friends Swindon Museum and Art Gallery group (and local news coverage). Where the preservation of Arts and Culture is concerned, it shouldn’t take a group of people shouting and screaming to force the hand of local government. When the justification reads as “temporary closure, due to Covid”, was the expectation that we’d all forget? That we wouldn’t care?
Why does it matter?
I get it, not everyone is big into History; not everyone enjoys stuffy old exhibits and random bits of art. And that’s absolutely fine. But here’s the thing, when you’re sat in a boxy little room, planning ahead for the future, it becomes increasingly harder to pitch your town as being a “place to be”, “up and coming” or a “desirable” if with the other hand, you’re eroding the cultural bedrock on which it stands.
It’s why most towns in the UK will have a heritage centre of some size. It celebrates and brings communities together or, to be a bit more cold-hearted, it adds to the sales pitch. “Move to Swindon, we have…houses”, it doesn’t quite butter the parsnips.
Yes, the museum had a small footfall and yes, there were many areas in which it was crying out for improvement, but we’ve slept-walked into losing another thing that celebrated this town for what it was. With it, and an increasing trend of young professionals adopting WFB (Work From Bedroom) jobs, I fear we’ll start losing the point of why any of us are here at all.
So, where does this place the arts and culture in this sprawling town? It seems the future is set to remain uncertain indefinitely. And this post only relates to one type of cultural attraction; novels could be written of the erosion of a good deal of other services (libraries, community groups etc) in the years leading up to 2020.
In light of all this, I have only one thing to ask of the local council; don’t use Covid-19 as an excuse for a move that can only be described as closure culture. Because, at the end of the day, I think we’re all smarter than that, don’t you?
Remember the post I did, titled Very Cotswold Problems, #3001? It turns out Mr Maverick Lawn Mowing services (catchy name) liked the video upload, and they liked it a lot.
24 seconds of top-notch video footage of my Mumma B and her lawn mower shed antics and the dude has both liked and subscribed to my YouTube channel (still working on getting them to like the actual blog content).
If that doesn’t scream quality comedy, I don’t know what does.
Hang on…have they liked this just because of my Mum?
Seesh. Anyway, moving on…
UPDATE: Maverick has taken down their comment. Rats.
There is more to the humble spam folder than missed opportunities and utter junk. Exactly, there’s missed junk opportunities!
Ladies and gentleman, may I kindly introduce to you this email…
I admit, it’s not the easiest to read on the photo. Let me detail it below:
HiAeb I am glad to know your demand for the tissue market. We have specialized in providing customized tissues for more than 8 years, and have provided sources of supply for many domestic companies. We are eager to expand channels and we are eager to cooperate with you. Samples will be sent to you for evaluation. Thanks, and best wishes
Ms Luo (General Manager) Chengdu Dixuan Trading Company
I know! Cutomized tissue paper?! Where have these opportunities been in my life? In my spam folder, that’s where!
Oh my, I think I’m getting giddy with all the possibilities. “Expanding my channels” – I can see it now, my face in toilet cubicles up and down the country. No, not the country, THE WORLD!!
I’ll be quite honest with you, I can’t think of anything much better.
Or, I could do as my email provider recommends and just delete the email, or, do nothing and let my email provider automatically delete it for me. (I’ll let you guess which I ended up doing.)
And people say I excited over nothing…oh hey, a shiny bit of foil blowing down the street!
Back when I was living in London I had the absolute pleasure of attending the Tate Modern’s critically appraised exhibition Picasso 1932: Love, Fame, Tragedy. It ran between 8th March – 9th September 2018.
I didn’t attend “1932…” until late on, days before it was due to close. Why? Because I’ll be honest, Picasso had never really been my bag. I appreciated his reputation and there’s no denying Guernica is a masterpiece of political demonstration, but otherwise I just saw the man as someone who took a lot of credit for not a lot.
Don’t shoot me.
In the end, it was a little voice inside my head that urged me to go, that I’d only regret it if I didn’t. (Also, because at the time I could get in for £5. Minor detail.)
I’m so very glad I went. For one, turns out the man is just as trigger happy on the paint brushes as I am on my blog. In one year he produced over 100 works of art (mostly of his mistress). Secondly, some of his work isn’t too shabby.
Don’t get me wrong, I still had questions. Most of my secondary school art projects were on par with Yellow Belt.
And yet God knows, you never saw my Art teacher praising me as the Second Coming. I took a snapshot and sent it to my Mum, she still insisted I keep the day job.
So what has all this got to do with socks? Well, sometime after the exhibition I was browsing the wonderful world of Far Eastern shopping when I came across some socks printed with the iconic painting The Dream.
I’ll spare you my cobble-dash description on this painting but yep, the way he painted the face is intentional (classic playboy Picasso). More information here.
Short story, shorter, I found a pair of socks online depicting this masterpiece (or, as the sellers called them, “style #3 sleeping lady”). Don’t ask how or why, it’ll be easier for us both. Neither did I enquire as to the copyright, given the same people were also selling “magic man” socks of Jesus.
12 million months later my socks arrived, looking something like this:
First observation – no way in hell were these made for a ladies foot-size 5 (EU 38). Definitely men’s socks. But still, the print detailing was alright and the image had been flipped. Without disclosing the price, (*cough* 99p), you get what you pay for.
I couldn’t wait to try them on.
Then I looked down…
Because the socks were bigger in size than expected, I’d had to pull them up higher, and because my calves are the size of tree trunks, the print was stretched-out even more.
Far from looking mellowed after a bit of artist lovin’, Marie looks genuinely pained from having her face stretched to that of a horse. And let’s not even go there with where that places Picasso’s perceived manhood.
I’m still gonna wear them though. I mean, Picasso socks! How cool is that?!
1998 this song was released, 19-flipping-98. Still a belter but golly, are we all getting old. And please, don’t come back to me saying you have no memory of this track or, worse, you weren’t even alive then. I-I just can’t.
After the questionable success of my previous post, My Sister, On…, here is the “me” version of that. Don’t worry if you haven’t read said post, you’ll get the hang of this very quickly.
Alice, on…Responsible drinking
Alice, On…Effective conflict resolution
(For context – I picked a fight with a pavement.)
Alice, On…Tropicana on a budget
Alice, On…Workplace integration
Alice, On…Open bars
Alice, On…Bathroom fittings
“Alice, why are you taking so long to rub the sun cream in?”
“Well then, can I get up?”
“DON’T YOU DARE GET UP YET!!”
Alice, On…”Does my bum look out-of-proportionately big in this?”
Alice, On…Any kind of headwear
And finally (for now), Alice, On…Basic photographyskills
Oh, trust me, you’re welcome
Please support unpaid writers, like me, by donating to my funding page:
First off, a massive thank you to everyone who has given me monetary donations to support some of the, quite frankly, kooky writing I do, even though no one ever really asked for it. Mumma B is baffled (really; she often asks me what people are on).
While I was always aware of the fees incurred by the Buy Me a Coffee (BMC) website/platform, aka the money they take out of your donations as admin, I wasn’t quite aware of the competitive alternatives.
After conducting research, I’ve decided (at least for now) to switch my funding platform to Ko-fi. Unlike BMC, Ko-fi doesn’t charge fees for handling donations (the company make their money from users paying for “gold” subscriptions and hahahaha if they think I’m going to be doing that anytime soon!)
This is why the link at the bottom of my posts will now refer to Ko-fi.
On Ko-fi I still pay PayPal fees, but no platform costs = more money for moi. Understood? Great.
Look! I even recycled this super high-brow video to convince would-be donors who happen on my funding page:
I used to dabble in video editing/production back when I was at University, you know? No, really, I did. I used to love meddling about with film equipment, me. And, even after all these years, I think it really shows. #TeamWindowsMovieMaker
(Even if you don’t watch the video, the thumbnail should sell my charity case by itself.)
Again, this doesn’t diminish what I’ve been donated so far. I’d rather be given £1 on BMC than nothing at all. My BMC page will continue to exist and if you have a burning desire to donate there instead, a) might want to get that checked out, but in all seriousness, b) go ahead.
As per usual a quick update has turned into me rambling and now I’m telling you to get that rash looked at by a doctor. Wonderful.
Oh and PS, in return I’m going to start making a point of thanking people for donations – on social media, possibly here if source material gets tight (it’s a wonder to us all that a year into a pandemic I’m still finding shizz to type about). If you’re a bit shy you can always donate anonymously. (You’ll be like the secret valentine I never had.)
Argh, going off topic again! In short, give me your money and give it to me on Ko-fi. Thanks!
Please support unpaid writers, like me, by donating to my funding page: