Evening out to see Ennio Morricone



On Thursday we had our first trip to the O2 arena to see My Life in Music.  Ennio Morricone took the orchestra through some of his famous movie scores. Many were done well before our time in the 1960’s but I was pleasantly surprised that I recognised about half of them. You might have heard of the most recent films to use his music  – Chi Mai, Casualties of War and The Mission. If you haven’t heard of them – then you will almost certainly know then amazing theme tune of The Good The Bad and The Ugly.  He writes very emotional scores on themes of war and slavery for example – we had to cover his work when I did GCSE music. However, I obviously paid little attention as I didn’t realise that Chi Mai which I’d been studying for 2 years was composed by him. Hmm Fail.

We had seats very close to the orchestra and didn’t really know what to expect. Morricone never spoke once – just came on and got on with it. We had no clue who the orchestra were or the soprano singing (which was apparently Susanna Rigacci – and she was amazing). The Guardian described the sound she made as a human theremin … which is rather good. I’d describe it as akin to the vocal range and sounds from Star Trek the original series theme tune.

We also had a bit of a back stage tour in the quest for the loo and to get to our accessible seating area.  The accessible seating was good – one of the few times we could actually sit next to each other to see a concert which was nice.




Snowing in my shrimp tank!



I had a free sample of Snowflake food from Pro Shrimp UK. I put 2 pellets in which exploded into snow! This aqua snow is made from soybean hulls – a fungus grows and the vegetative part contains proteins and other nutrients that the shrimp eat. My shrimp took several minutes before approaching it. I guess it will stay in the tank and grow the fungus …. not sure really on this one!








Minerals and the loss of Mrs Blueberry



Mrs Blueberry died on Sunday. I couldn’t see any obvious cause but when I checked my TDS –  the amount of dissolved solids in the water, it was low at 150. Ideally it should be 270-300 so I’m betting it was lack of calcium and other trace elements. My blue shrimp have always been the first to die when there has been a problem – maybe they are very fragile when it comes to water parameters.

So, I’ve started remineralising with Salty Shrimp 7.5.



It said an evenly full measuring spoon (about 3.5 g) to 15 litres of water is sufficient.  I added it bit by bit, dissolving it in a beaker of tank water before I tipped it in. I used half of the enclosed spoon and took it from 170 this morning to 250. Tomorrow I will take it to about 270 and see how it goes.

The pot is full to overflowing  and gets everywhere! Whatever you do, don’t sneeze.

It is designed to raise the hardness in a ratio of KH/°dH = 0.42/1.0 (TDS approx 270-300) and adds all the minerals and trace elements that shrimps need (if you use rainwater or RO water which has had it taken out).

It is supposed to make the water identical to the lakes of Sulawesi where many shrimp come from (mine aren’t from that area but it does say it is ok for Neocaridina.

It is likely to raise the dH to 6 and buffers pH to 7.5 – not sure how far I will take mine as views are mixed. Trial and error.

A step backwards in wheelchair transportation?

When I saw this I cringed: Drive away car invented

It’s basically a single person electric bubble car where wheelchair users can enter in their wheelchairs through the automatic ramp at the back, and then just drive away. How amazing is that – the inventor gave up her job to set up a company to make these cars which are steered by a motorbike-style handlebar and costing only $25.000.

WHOAAA ….. hang on a moment, I can do better than that!

I have a car, where I also stay in my wheelchair!

I also wheel straight in the back up a ramp (which could automatically fold up and the doors close if I needed it to)!

If I were medically able, I could also drive off. (I can’t drive so others drive for me).

Not only does my car pootle around the town locally – I can drive on main roads and motorways! It doesn’t end there – even more amazing is that rather than drive round as a lonely single wheelchair user – I can be in the car with friends, family – and even carry luggage to go on holiday or put my shopping in the back. All for around £7-8 thousand pounds. Match that then bubble car.

Thinking about it – handlebar steering, electric vehicle….. isn’t that called a mobility scooter?

I think I have the better deal, socially and financially with my car and power wheelchair combo. Good luck America with your new invalid carriage for single people with no friends!

Arrival of snails


It is said that shrimps benefit from living in habitats that would naturally have other creatures – so I bought some snails. I read somewhere that snail poo in the water is beneficial for shrimps so I thought I’d add some to my tank. Also, my fish community in the lounge had a terrible algae problem – and I had a plan to naturally restrict the algae quantity using algae munching snails.

These snails cost around £2.50-3.00 and don’t breed when kept in freshwater (they need slightly salty water to breed).

I chose three types of nerites (aquatic snails).

  • Clithon Diadema (Zebra Thorn snail)
  • Vittina semiconic (Indonesia Red Onion Snail aka Orange Track aka Dot Snail)
  • Sulawesi Yellow Diamond Nerite

My Zebra lasted 24 hrs and although introduced into the water the same way you introduce fish, he still died. I did dose with Melafix to boos my new shrimp and also Paraguard (which some keepers says is invert safe) so maybe this was the problem.

My Sulawesi snails are doing well – one in my shrimp tank and the others in the fish tank.

The best ones of all are the Onion snails – and after a week, they have almost cleared the thick algae cover across the front half of the tank. They are known for being amazing munching machines and are living up to expectation! They like 20-27 degree C of heat so ideal for fish or shrimp tanks and a pH of around 6.7-8.  They eat decaying plants and left over fish food too – so win win!

Here is one of them having a munch – watch its bony ‘teeth’ munching away.




Disability, Torture and Human Rights

Today is Human Rights Day and this year’s slogan, Human Rights 365, “encompasses the idea that every day is Human Rights Day’.  These are principles of equality, fairness, dignity and respect which human beings aspire to – and which nations sign up to in the various Declarations.

I love Article One

  • All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

and Article Five ‘

  • No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

However, according to this article some of the methods of torture include things that some disable people experience:

1. Denying access to the toilet so that people who had their movement restricted were forced to urinate and defecate over themselves was described as a degrading element of torture.

But it’s ok for an immobile person to lay unable to move in a urine soaked bed or chair because they don’t have access to care or equipment?

2. Being restrained in painful positions for long periods or being forced into ‘unnatural positions for extended periods’ is a method of torture.

Having to sit in a wheelchair, because of a severe impairment,  (or lay in a bed) that forces your back or limbs out at the wrong angle to cause nerve pain, pressure sores, dislocations etc is torture – yet people are in these positions for what could be years, with no pain relief, waiting for appropriate support/equipment/assessments. You may never experience a life without pain if you live in a country that doesn’t provide equipment. A pain where the only relief is death.

When your body is already twisted and contracted and placed in a position where you are not supported – the weight of your   body pulling against other body parts that refuse to stretch from their contracted state is like being on a rack. The agony is indescribable.

3. Sleep deprivation is defined as a method of torture.

Poor pain relief, pressure relief and postural support for disabled people can cause extreme sleep deprivation that brings on cognitive problems, hallucinations, memory loss, communication loss and many problems. Carers who might only get a few hours sleep experience sleep deprivation – night after night, month after month – yet this torture is ignored.

Where are our rights?

So spare a thought for the elderly neighbour, disabled friend, the person being the closed curtains who can’t leave their home …. because torture isn’t just the experience of terrorists or prisoners … it’s happening in our streets, in the UK, every day of the year and it’s not going to stop until it’s recognised.

Welsh cheesecakes


These go back to the 1800’s and I loved them as a child but never baked them myself.

They only take 10-12 minutes to cook and despite the odd name, contain no cheese.

The pastry base is crumbly and more like shortbread.

8 oz plain flour
4 oz unsalted cold butter
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
cold water to bring it to a dough texture.

I used a muffin tin to lay out the tart shapes and form a deep well. Make them at least 5mm thick.

Then you plop in a bit of raspberry jam and cover with this cake mixture – only a teaspoon in each just to cover the jam. Cook on 200 C.

2 oz plain flour
2 oz unsalted butter
2 oz caster sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp baking powder

Marlowe Theatre in Kent fails wheelchair users




A few weeks ago I tried to get tickets for a show at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury (I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue) with my husband. It was going to be a quick sell out so my Personal Assistant called on the advertised booking line as soon as they went on sale at 9 am.

After 20 minute she got through to an answer machine message saying due to expected high demand people must book using the online booking system.

However, here is the problem – wheelchair users can not book a space on-line which the theatre later confirmed. Also, it appears that the ‘carer and family seats’ next to the wheelchair spaces can be booked by anyone on-line – even if that person could have sat in another available seat.

We were both really angry that this show (rarely visiting Kent) was not open to wheelchair users on the advertised booking number.

It is  unlawful discrimination to offer such an unfair ticket booking system. Whilst they offer an ‘access mailing list service’ for priority booking, nowhere do they say you have to sign up to this just to be able to book a seat (and that this was the only way to get them at sell out shows). Also, how would this be handled – would all wheelchair users get a fair chance?

Anyone else with an impairment such as vision loss may also have found it impossible to use the online method of ‘picking a seat’ from a visual theatre seat plan. If the box office can’t handle sellout shows and opens them only to non-disabled internet users – then this is incredibly unfair.

I tried to use their web site to contact them about this … but it actually took me about 15 attempts because the form didn’t work – clicking in the next box deleted he previous box!! They really are useless.

Note to self – spend your money where your custome is appreciated.

We have been to other venues who have wonderful access and a separate booking line for wheelchair users or people who might be unable to use on-line systems  – so these spaces can be booked fairly, at the same time, on a first come first served basis. I am disappointed and frustrated that the Marlowe Theatre makes it so difficult to book tickets without being on a ‘special’ list and then having to unsubscribe from future mailings if you only go there once in a blue moon.

Well Marlowe – I’m Sorry YOU didn’t Have a Clue.