Brilliant Idea: Free Fruit Bonanza

Sometimes you see a new idea which is so brainy, it makes your eyes water.

In the UK, Woolworths is sadly a thing of the past. Many of us still fondly remember Ladybird kids clothes and  Pick’n’Mix. It is a thriving supermarket chain in other countries though, and has recently successfully trialled offering a free piece of fruit to all kids entering all of its (961) Australian stores, from a complimentary basket of apples, pears, bananas and mandarins. The idea was originally put to the test in their New Zealand shops (which trade as Countdown) and seems to be popular. Woolies expect to be giving away about one million pieces of fruit a year and assures consumers that the cost of fruit will not rise to compensate.

If you have ever had a child in tow who could name 107 places they’d rather be than in a supermarket with Mummy (unless she is going to provide biscuits/sweets/chocolate/magazine and toys from the shelves at will) the offer of a piece of fruit sounds to me like a welcome initiative. Anything to help keep mum sane and Little Jonnie happy.  And of course this option is healthy, one of your 5-a-day, and it will presumably encourage the habit of healthy snacking when sitting in the trolley. Better than a packet of Wotsits.

Tesco has already trialled it here in the UK at one, forward-thinking store in Lincolnshire and have decided to roll it out to 15 Glasgow branches. Hopefully it will  prove popular enough to go nationwide.

It won’t end  the sound of the screaming kid in the trolley ~ and lord knows we have all been there. It might help though and I imagine it could be an incentive for parents to shop at that supermarket rather than another. Let’s see.

supermarket children

My own trips to the supermarket are a bit like Groundhog Day but without the humour. Or romance. I might not be screaming out loud  but inside my head there is often an ear-piercing silent yell. Perhaps the free piece of fruit will eventually be offered not just kids but exasperated shoppers in their 50s. We can but hope. Great if you are on a diet. Blood sugar dropped? Have an apple. Feeling rough after a long night at the bar? Help yourself to a banana. Bored with the duties of being the Fridge Fairy? Here’s a pear.

I think it could work.

Annie Bee x

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What’s In A Name?

I am a part-time music teacher and one of the things I do with my groups of 2-3-4 year olds is clap the rhythms of their names. Some are very interesting indeed: “Maximus Henry Wittlestone” takes some beating ~ and may say something about the area in which I live, not to mention that he goes to a private nursery where snack time involves blueberries and chia seeds rather than marmite sandwiches. For every Maximus, there are plenty of Harrys, Olivers, Scarletts and Poppys. When we do this exercise, I often point out that my mono-syllabic name is very boring indeed to clap. I love my name though and wonder what it would be like to dislike a name for life ~ it must be awful.

One problem I do have with my moniker is that I am called by my middle name. This has led to a lifetime of doctors and dentists calling me by my first name; I drew the line at my first wedding when the registrar referred to me incorrectly. I let him continue for a while before an aunt of mine tapped me on the shoulder and suggested I correct him.

Both my parents were called by their middle names, so you’d have thought they might have thought twice about landing me with the same problem. Mind you, to further confuse things, my mother was too nervous on her first day at boarding school to correct the teacher reading out the register, so everyone who knew Mum after she was 11 call her one thing and her family call her another. Some people are deeply suspicious that I chose my second name, and hate my first, but the reality is it was my parents who welcomed me into this confusing -enough -already world, that called me by my middle name.

My Name Is

When I started this blog I was very amused to see that there is another “Annie Bee” who describes herself thus,

   I used to be a professional disciplinarian and I spent much of my time spanking, caning and tawsing naughty boy’s bottoms. Those days are over, but I still regularly thrash my partner…..

She writes books as well as a blog, and it delights me to wonder whether people might be mixing us up at the google search stage. Those wanting a few pointers on corporal punishment might be surprised to find me ranting about the menopause or discussing the importance of portion control when dieting.

So if you have come to this page expecting instructions on using ‘hellstraps’, you are forgiven  the confusion.

Have a super weekend

Annie Bee x

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Surprising Finds #6

Not far from where I live, in the neighbouring county of Bedfordshire, there is a very pretty church on a winding back-road, which is notorious for speeding fines, if little else.

Officially known as The former Holy Trinity Church, it is in the small hamlet of East Hyde.
Holy Trinity Church East Hyde
It was designed by Benjamin Ferrey in a Neo-Norman style and built between 1840 and 1841. It has two large Norman piers flanking the entrance, with open staircases with Norman colonettes turning left and right, culminating on the left in the single asymmetrically placed turret. It is a Grade II Listed Building. It was declared closed for public worship by the Diocese of St Albans in 2008, but is currently in use as a Greek Orthodox Church dedicated to St Charalambos.
Holy Trinity Church East Hyde
Just north of the church, through the graveyard, is an incredibly impressive mausoleum which is a listed building in its own right. It is the tomb of the family of Julius Wernher whose country pile, Luton Hoo (now a Hotel) is a mile or two up the road. German-born, at the time of his death in 1912 he  was one of the richest men in the United Kingdom with a fortune of £12 million ~ much of it made from diamond mines, and much of it spent during his lifetime, on art.
mausoleum 1
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East Hyde Holy Trinity Church mausoleum
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mausoleum @ Holy Trinity Church East Hyde
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It is often worth stopping at small churches such as this one. They can be little gems. On a wet, muddy and windy day in November, it was well worth a visit.
Annie Bee x
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The Everlasting Menopause ~ Is There An Upside?

If, like me, you have been dealing with the menopause for absolutely ages (as my memory has been melted by the hot flushes, I am having to guess that I am now entering my 5th year) you might be wondering whether this mid-life cloud has a silver lining. My initial answer would be, ‘does it bollox’ but let’s see.

I turned to my Personal Assistant, Google, and asked the question.

First up is Web MD and a cheerful obs-gyny doctor from Maine who suggests that,

“The truth is that women over 50 are just hitting their stride,” she writes in the introduction of her new book, The Secret Pleasures of Menopause. 

So secret that they are certainly hidden from me. She goes on to say,

“You can turn yourself on. You can rewire your brain and your body to feel more pleasure. The brain is the biggest sex organ in the body.”


I must say there are plenty of listings on Google for what can improve the menopause (yoga, exercise, nitric oxide, acupuncture, hops, and a neck-cooler to mention a few) but not so many for the upside. I do eventually find some joker who says this,

“Menopause is a gift, a lantern lighting the way to significant transformation in all areas of your life………. menopause is not the wicked witch. She does not drain women of any vital function nor turn them old, weak, crotchety, or unattractive with a wave of her wand”.

As youngsters (for whom their 50s is light years away) might say: ~ LOL

There is some information out there which I do agree with: Yes, it is natural. Yes, it (eventually) means no more periods and contraception. But is it a stage during which, as this cheerful woman suggest,

“…. the door opens to receive the wisdom of our lineage”?

That may be a step too far, even for the most optimistic of us. I’m not sure I even know what it means.

My only hope is that it is nearing the end. I can’t say my symptoms (brain atrophy, hot flushes, poor sleep are the highlights) have left me feeling particularly cheery.

hot flushes

Menopausal rant over ~ I feel a lot better already and I haven’t even got my neck-cooler out.

Annie Bee x

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Monday Morning: Let’s Hear It For Teenagers

God love ’em! Teenagers! In the last few weeks there have been some notable teenager stories in the news, reminding us all that kids come in all shapes and sizes, all with different strengths and talents.

First we had the (alleged) teenage hacker who rummaged around in Talk Talk’s drawers, causing a media storm and much angst. Teenage hackers have been round since the beginning of the internet, and school-aged computer whizzes have not been able to stop themselves from hacking the CIA, the Pentagon, the NHS, Scotland Yard, Interpol, Sony and Apple to name but a few. A number of them have gone on to be employed by some very impressed tech giants, and some have ended up behind bars. All of them have hopefully highlighted security gaps which the adults, arguably, should have been on top of in the first place. Teenage hacker

At the same time, some other teenagers came onto my radar, this time for designing an app to promote healthy living. In light of the massive amount of bad press given over to social media and the effects it has on our kids, a pharma company (Astellas) put out a call to all 14-16 years olds in the UK. The winners were a group of five 15-year-olds from St Paul’s Catholic College in Burgess Hill, Sussex – Sacha Botting, Dominique Froud, Jack Gumm, Gemma Kelly and Zuzia O’Donoghue – who drew on their own experiences of the pressures of school, friendships, home life and social media to come up with the idea. Essentially the app, which is called Memory Star (already available here), is a ‘virtual memory jar’ – a place where youngsters can keep their memories (photos, messages etc) but not share themAnd that is the kicker: whereas so much of their lives is now out there for anyone to see, this is completely private.

O’Donoghue said: “There’s so much pressure to present a very happy image on social media. There’s something very competitive about it. Who can get the most likes? Who has the nicest life? You have this sort of perfect persona that you’re putting forward of yourself, but you don’t always feel like that”.

I for one would not go back to being a teenager for anything. Being one is difficult. Having them is arguably worse, and, while in my day (the 1870s – just kidding) there was a great deal of pressure to be popular, pretty, clever and have the ‘right’ shoes, today those pressures are undoubtedly worse. The burden is two-fold (playground and social media) and the bullies find it easier to be nasty from behind a smart phone.

So let’s hear it for the young ~ and while being in your 50s has its troubles (the everlasting-menopause is pushing my sense of humour to its very limits), the vast majority of teenagers go on to be delightful adults.

The Memory Star app could be a lovely Christmas present for a teenager too. teenage quote

Nora Ephron

Have a good week

Annie Bee x

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