FFS: Frightened, frustrated or sick and tired? You decide!

A dragon roars as Brexiteers duel amongst themselves on the best way forward. A few sit drinking tea while the rest of the country burns. Some shout “we were promised unicorns and a magic wonderland”. Others stay in from the cold April feeling the lack of food and medicine. From the recent snow were we also becoming Narnia? Along with the cold there are battles fought in a political sense. Talk of rebellion also brews. All that was missing was Aslan the lion to save us. Is spring on It’s way?

The real world comes back into focus. You would be forgiven for thinking a nightmare is where we are and heading into further. Brexit issues continue to dominate and consume parliament’s decision making. If Brexit was a tower of Jenga you could see Theresa May fighting to keep it toppling. Used previously as an analogy for worries in the City of London’s finance sector. In reality however the City is just one block. Others could include; the Northern Irish Border, the NHS, the EU Withdrawal Bill, Immigration Reform, the European Court of Human Rights and Animal Rights. The list goes on as the tower gets taller and more unstable.

There are strong views on both sides of the debate. Less than 2 months to go unless drastic changes. Thoughts of a no-deal Brexit are terrifying for some. Evidence from many experts shows hits to the economy. Along with food and medicine shortages. Others have a strong feeling of frustration in regard to the uncertainty. Some feel sick and tired that after two and half years we are no closer to their “prize”. Brexit brings out strong feelings in many up and down the country. There is no denying it.

Sharing concerns and facts about the future of the country isn’t scaremongering but a democratic right. There are those shouting we should get on it. Get on with what exactly? There are so many versions of Brexit. It could even be said to be over 17 million individual reasons if using the referendum figure.

The Irish border is a major issue that was hardly mentioned before June 2016. Writing from Warrington with a bombing in 1993 it doesn’t seem more poignant. A border would break the Good Friday agreement and could revive great tensions in Northern Ireland.  Citizen rights both here and abroad was also not properly discussed 2 years and a half years ago.

Another poignant thought of peace was also shared in Warrington recently.  On a street stall campaigning for the  People’s Vote an older gent stopped by. He said “I lived through the war, and any one who sees a person burn to death in front if you in a crashed plane, it doesn’t matter if they’re English or German, you just want peace, and the EU has given us that for the last 70 years.”

Some may argue the EU didn’t exist 70 years ago. The process that lead it to did however. Winston Churchill gave a speech about a united Europe. The last half of the 20th century and since has been the longest stretch of peace overall Europe has known for many centuries.

The issue of leaving and how the UK goes about it won’t end on the 29th March. Whatever happens in the next few weeks the debate will continue. Around 100 years ago the suffragettes didn’t give up their fight for the vote. The same could be said to those fighting for civil rights for all in the US in the 1960’s.  Equal marriage and pride is a more recent example where debate over rights lasted many years.

A parliament in impasse and unable to decide the kind of exit to take. Taking the deal or lack of one back to the people may be the only way. The future is at stake. In years to come this part of history will be viewed in horror. Books will be filled with empty promises and debate around “what were they all thinking?”


Get on with what exactly?

Yes there was a vote in June 2016 but democracy doesn’t stop, or there would be no more elections! Many argue with examples in my local paper, that we should “get on with it” and stop fear being spread. Sharing concerns and facts about the future of the country isn’t scaremongering but our democratic right. I would ask get on with what exactly? There are so many versions of Brexit, could even say over 17 million individual reasons?

There is also major issues like the Irish border and citizen rights both here and abroad not properly discussed over 2 years ago.

Around 100 years ago the suffragettes didn’t give up their fight for the vote, and the same with those fighting for civil rights for all in the US in the 1960’s, and the same with equal marriage and pride more recently.

I personally believe the people’s vote is needed, as parliament is divided on the way to approach Brexit over two years later. We need more democracy not less to fix our divided country.

Inspirational Stop Brexit Conference in Leeds

Thanks to Leeds for Europe for organising an inspirational Great Northern Stop conference in Leeds. I could share so many points, and will give 10 here:

1. We need to “convince politicians and people there should be another vote”, but the message needs to be positive. “Another close vote will continue the toxin of Brexit.” Richard Wilson, Chair of Leeds for Europe.

2. “The next 10 weeks are the most important in our lives.” If Brexit isn’t stopped “I will be a Returner”. Will Hutton, from the Observer.

3. “The capitalism of 2018 is coming to it’s end” and we need reform which leaving won’t remedy. Will Hutton.

4. If a referendum is agreed in October “it won’t happen until the 28th March”, so an extension of Article 50 would be needed. Jessica Simor QC.

5. “Westminster has never cared about places like Sunderland”. The opportunities and jobs are all in London. Decisions are too far away. Femi Oluwole, Our Future Our Choice.

6. Remembering the impact on EU citizens here and the British living across Europe. Described by Cosi Doerfel Hill, In Limbo.

7. The case for Europe needs to be idealistic (about peace), pragmatic (small and medium sized countries working together) and selfish (trade with our neighbours). Richard Corbett. Labour MEP for Yorkshire & the Humber.

8. Far from “taking back control”, the irony of Brexit is giving our sovereignty away to Westminster. Professor A.C. Grayling.

9. “Britain is not a democracy” as we need decisions locally, not just one mayor, but assemblies. “Politics is something you do, not done to you”. Natalie Bennett, former Green Party Leader.

10. “Why aren’t we taking the referendum to court for undermining our democracy?” Kenya did it a week later after their election. Julie Ward, Labour MEP for the NW.

The campaign for a People’s Vote is growing, and Remaining for a prosperous future together with our 27 neighbours is still worth fighting for.

A beautiful day for a wedding

A beautiful setting along the River Conwy gave a chance for family and friends of Adele and Andy to gather. They couldn’t of picked a more peaceful place for the ceremony. The church of St Mary’s, Caerhun close to Conwy in North Wales, has a long history as was orginally a Roman fort before the church was built over 700 years ago. The church was bright and delicately decorated for the start of the journey ahead. Feeling honoured to be part of their special day we sat on the wooden pews around noon.

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Adele entered the church in a beautiful and graceful dress accompanied by her nephew. Andy wore an impressive suit with the bow-tie made from one Adele’s father’s shirts. The service went without a hitch in this quaint church on the 2nd of June. A small laugh was had as Andy said “I do” before finishing his vows. The Rev David Parry also used his sermon to describe marriage like a cooked meal. The ingredients have to be right although he thought of himself as no Jamie Oliver in regard to his roasts. Well chosen hymns of The King of Love My Shepherd is, and Lord of the Dance were sung. The readings and poem by Angela and Adele’s sister Lydia were thoughtful and from the heart. The church door gave the most charming photos to remember the day. Two lovely touches were the whisky left for Adele’s dad on his memorial outside and the chance to celebrate like he would have with an ice cream outside as we lingered under a clearing grey sky.

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Adele and Andy then began their married life by driving off to the reception at Portmeirion. The guests then followed from the field of cars a short walk away.

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Arriving in time for the sit down wedding breakfast at Castell Deudraeth, with the sun creating a warm afternoon. Guests were ushered into the dining room of this stunning hotel close to the Gwynedd coast. Finding our seats with tables attractively laid out we sat down to begin the next part of Adele and Andy’s happily ever after.

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A choice of wine was offered around the tables. Three delicious courses had been chosen well by the couple including terrine and heart shaped cheesecakes. Sparkling wine was then poured for the toasts and speeches. Andy’s dad David gave a heartfelt short speech along with Adele’s brother and sister. Andy’s words came together as we can all imagine his nervousness. The godfather was a nickname given to Andy by university friends. You may have to ask Best man Raj for more details if you weren’t there. Raj’s speech showed Andy’s fun side and another title for this blog could have been “The Godfather and his Princess”; only joking.

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A toast of whisky was also given by the top table to Adele’s father. After the toasts and tea/coffee guests all congregated out into the conservatory and terrace. The evening was still warm and the sun still bright. The view over the river and bay was also breathtaking.

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Time was given to relaxing and chatting with drinks from the bar before the music began. The flowers were done by Scent with Love, DJ and Magic Mirror was done by Event Lounge and the Heart lolly favours were from Maisies Chocolates in Llandudno. The wedding dress designer was Stella York and the Men’s Suits were from Trefor Jones Rhuthin. The cake was cut and taken away to be cut into slices. The first dance was me to you are everything by The Real Thing. A poignantly chosen song that fitted well into Adele and Andy’s special day.

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Everything came together perfectly over the day and evening. With that view of the North Wales coast and the setting of the hotel what more could you ask for while partying into the early hours? I’m sure Andy and Adele left with the best memories to cherish as their married life begins.

A new wonderland

Two campaigns both alike in reach,
In fair Westminster, where we lay our scene,
From post-war grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil protest makes civil hands unclean.

There may be no star-crossed lovers involved here although you never know what is on the horizon.

From the late winter snow recently were we also becoming Narnia? Along with the cold were battles fought in a political sense. Talk of rebellion also brews. All that was missing was Aslan the lion to save us.

“Wait, wait” the Queen of May shouts from her castle at number 10. “This isn’t a Shakespeare play or Narnia here. We are entering a new wonderland. Blue passports and a global Britain for all. Free from the shackles across the channel we rise!”

The orange Jaberwocky across the Atlantic roars as his power takes a knock. The Bandersnatch from the east causes further misery as a substance is released. The Queen of May sighs as the campaign propelling her in place hits a new snag. Exploited data from old Cambridge and spending controversy spreads abound. One of her minions shouts “utterly ridiculous” while others keep quiet. A cat with a huge grin laughs while throwing fish into the mighty river. “This is the only way to get our fish back” he growls.

The real world comes back into focus. You would be forgiven for thinking a nightmare is where we are and heading into further. Brexit issues continue to dominate and consume parliament’s decision making. If Brexit was a tower of Jenga you could see Theresa May fighting to keep it toppling. Used previously as an analogy for worries in the City of London’s finance sector. In reality however the City is just one block. Others could include; the Northern Irish Border, the NHS, the EU Withdrawal Bill, Immigration Reform, the European Court of Human Rights and Animal Rights. The list goes on as the tower gets taller and more unstable.

However as has been said before “nothing is agreed until all has been agreed”. From Belfast to Brighton, Paisley to Plymouth, and Liverpool to Lowestoft the uncertainty is felt by both sides of the Brexit divide. Businesses, Scientists, Healthcare professionals and those in Education have all shared their concerns over the future.

A wonderland is not on the cards. It may seem with the recent news of progress on the EU-UK negotiations moving forward being positive. All we can do is watch and wait. The deal offered will be wanted to be be debated and voted by parliament. As whispers and changes of opinion spread within the public, a second vote could still occur.

Grenfell and the changing housing landscape

Grenfell Tower was a tragedy with a very human cost. The shocking footage of the burning tower made international headlines, and continues to be a significant part of the public consciousness.  No arrests have been made and the investigation into the fire continues. What is more, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick has said it will be unlikely to be completed until 2019, based upon the amount of evidence.

Campaign group, Justice 4 Grenfell, is still fighting for answers. A recent billboard campaign saw three vans driven around London to mark the eight-month anniversary. Placards with the words “71 dead”, “And still no arrests?“, “How Come?” drove past many landmarks in the city, including the Houses of Parliament. The lives lost in the tragic event should not be forgotten as the whole industry strives to make positive changes. This includes the culture surrounding safety while offering value for money.

It appears supported by the interim report, that the regulatory system for fire safety is unfit for purpose. This is both during construction and occupation stages. Current regulations and guidance can seem complex and sanction processes considered weak. A better way for residents to escalate concerns also needs to be addressed. The Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government confirmed that, while 299 of the 312 buildings tested in recent months have failed safety assessments, only 26 have had the dangerous cladding fully removed.  Only three have had replacement panels installed. The costs of new safety measures are also likely to be over £1 billion.

A better balance needs to be made between price and quality of housing. Landlords need to remember this when undertaking new builds and refurbishing existing buildings. Alan Heron, director of procurement at Places for People (PfP), is one who believes the landscape has now changed. “It took something as horrible as Grenfell for people to realise there’s a consequence to looking for the lowest price,” he asserts. “It’s refocused everyone away from ticket price and back to value, which is where it should have been all along.”

The UK is in an unprecedented housing crisis. One figure has put the amount of social housing needed as enough to fill the city of Leeds by the end of this parliament. Temporary accommodation should only be a stop gap. New quality homes are needed to create trust and security across the country. There is no price to be put on human lives, which are more than numbers on a spreadsheet.

Second Worldwide Wednesday 2018

This Wednesday (7th February) saw two fantastic speakers bring together people who have travelled, worked, studied and/or lived abroad. Professor Michael Dougan of EU Law at the University of Liverpool spoke about his five main reasons for the EU existing and worth fighting for. Tabitha Morton of the Women’s Equality Party in Liverpool spoke about gender equality. The setting Avenue HQ is a great venue on Liverpool’s waterfront offering space for these regular WWW monthly events. Every month this enables people from different backgrounds and nationalities to meet, learn from and share with each other in an informal, relaxed environment.

Professor Dougan’s 5 points were:

  1. The EU plays a central role in peace on the continent and has created consolidation between France and Germany, and  Ireland and the UK among others.
  2. Co-operation between states has led to sharing of information including science, and the ability to travel freely.
  3. Cross-border challenges like trade and the environment are met through collective actions.
  4. There is a unity of European values through the political model and a forum for cross-border collaboration.
  5. Each member state is sovereign and the EU is our representative on the global stage and successful at it.

He added if didn’t already exist we would have to create it.

Tabitha Morton who last year stood for the Mayor of the Liverpool City region, spoke about equality for women. This referenced the 100 year anniversary of the Representation of the People Act 1918 which gave many women over 30 the right to vote for the first time. Even though we have come so far there is still a way to go. Tabitha spoke of the pay gap which still is in national news, the attitude towards care giving, the productivity gap and roles each gender feels pushed into, how the top boards of organisations are still in the majority male and the ways the media plays a part.

The evening was well attended and the next will be the 7th March, the day before International Women’s Day with i’m sure more great speakers.


Time for a Change in Tactic.

After two interviews over the last week which didn’t go well, I feel I need to change my approach when going through the application process. Maybe these two roles weren’t for me, I can’t be sure. The main point I do know is leaving with the feeling that they didn’t get to see the real me. That was either because of my nerves showing, little detail in the answers given, and leaving with many regrets of what I could have included.

I beat myself up over it saying: “you’re 33 and experienced many interviews by now?” In the five years since completing my degree (I started for a second time as a mature student) I have felt stuck and not knowing which roles should be trying. I began studying Public Relations with Business Management thinking it would lead somewhere positive. This hasn’t been the case so far anyway. Flitting between part time roles in customer services, many I don’t enjoy has left me dreading going in at times. Looking at adverts online doesn’t help as I get drawn to the experience or attributes I don’t have. Therefore I get put off with thoughts of it’s not worth trying.

I admit have made mistakes in jobs in the past. Now with the gaps in my C.V after temporary roles leave me the feelings of a bad impression from potential employers.

However over the last two years especially I can mention many positives. This blog itself I have just realised is two years old. I have enjoy writing and feel have a passion for it. It is still developing as I go but has led me to writing for Warrington Worldwide and the website “The What and the Why.” The EU referendum result has also re-invigorated my interest in politics. This also led me to join the campaign group Liverpool for Europe, through which have met some fantastic people.

I also have become involved locally in Friends of Warrington Transporter Bridge, Warrington Arts Council and Warrington Civic Society. I have enjoyed living in Warrington for the past 8 years, and feel it has a lot to offer. I was also proud to enter and win a prize in the Warrington 2021 Capital of Culture Art Competition with a design for an Warrington Underground or tube.

Reading now you may be thinking that doesn’t sound too bad. I am proud have got as far as two interviews lately, one for a local newspaper. I still have to work on my confidence which I feel has held me back.  I am keeping positive looking ahead as know life is journey and will get there. A change in attitude and outlook however slight will help here.

Lastly I want to thank some people who have helped a lot over the last few years. Gary Skentelbery published a few press releases by myself in Warrington Worldwide. Gary does much for Warrington and is always busy covering stories or helping others. David Waywell has helped me format and work on articles. Something I am still learning as he well knows. Margaret Ingham, chair of Friends of the Warrington Transporter Bridge for giving me advice, and helping with my driving test. I may have failed my first but the second one isn’t far off. The great people within Liverpool for Europe are also worth a mention, especially Steve, Brenda and Pauline. I could mention many others including Molly (from her twitter namesake), Andy have remained in contact from University and is getting married soon, Ali who feels like my other mum, and Sue Jones who is always a Facebook message away. Finally I can’t forget Paul, how have you put up with living with me for 7 years?

November Cruise to Bruges and Amsterdam

After a speedy boarding, myself and my partner Paul embarked the ship earlier than we were expected. This was our third P&O cruise, this time on the Arcadia. The ship looked like new as had a recent refit for two weeks. The bars, restaurants and public areas were adorned with new furniture,  wall design and carpets fitting in with the nautical theme.


Sailing down Southampton Water after dusk we caught a glimpse of Cunard’s Queen Victoria in dock, before cruising towards the Solent and the Channel.

Our inside cabin on C Deck was very comfortable, and our steward welcoming. The food at the Meridian Restaurant was delicious with a great choice on the menu.

Waking up in Zeebrugge to a crisp morning we had the buffet breakfast before heading out into Belgium. The bus tour of Scenic Villages and Chocolates took us to the quaint village of Damme, Roose’s Chocolate World on the edge of Bruges and Loppem Castle. Driving through beautiful scenery with our expert tour guide Bert made it thoroughly engaging. Bert even threw in a few jokes about Ernie not being here and the most famous Belgian’s seeming to be the fictional Tintin and Hercule Poirot. I would recommend this tour to get a flavour of the area outside of Bruges , especially if you are fan of chocolate.



The second morning brought us right into Amsterdam. We also had longer until early the next morning due to a forecast of strong winds. Packing a full day into the city gave us time to see the main sights while walking around and on a canal boat trip.


I would recommend Gassan Diamonds for a free tour to see how diamonds are cut and a chance to see some close up with a small exhibition. There is also a large shop full of watches and if you feel the urge can have diamonds set how you like.


As cats are one of my favourite animals also took a moment to stop by the poezenboot, being a canal boat for stray cats. In mid afternoon also stopped by a museum showing the more seedier side Amsterdam is known for, which does give a few giggles.


In the evening after a filling and fantastic meal on board at Sindhu, a select restaurant with Indian inspired dishes, we need the chance to walk it off back into the city. This took us to a nice bar for a drink called the Cat in the Vineyard when translated. It was quiet as a slightly windy Monday evening with the barman friendly and welcoming.

The third day gave us some time to relax at sea on the voyage back towards the Channel and Southampton. There is something about cruising I enjoy. There is much to do in board with the entertainment and venued to socialise or just take a book to read by the covered pool area. The Arcadia has a different show each night with British movie theme songs and a Queen tribute with the band’s songs worth seeing. I have already booked on to the next for December 2018 aboard the Aurora heading to Hamburg, Copenhagen, Oslo and back to Amsterdam.

At 500 days to go hope still remains!

On a November Friday evening in the City of Liverpool a group of North West MPs, MEPs, Councillors and concerned members of the public met to discuss the huge issue of Brexit. Alison McGovern MP, Maria Eagle MP, Julie Ward MEP, Louise Ellman MP and Theresa Griffin MEP attended from the Labour Party. Liverpool City Councillors Richard Kemp of the Liberal Democrats and Tom Crone of the Green Party also participated.

The panel was chaired by Michael Dougan, Professor of EU Law at the University of Liverpool. Michael has shared concise videos online surrounding the referendum and since.

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The government may like us to think the country has come together to support the Leave direction, but there is much evidence to say this would be to the detriment of the country. This is also an attempt to keep the Conservative Party together by rallying to an extreme faction, words mirrored by some of the panel.

Alison McGovern, MP for Wirral South began with the ironic words of Brexit Secretary, David Davis that in a democracy you can change your mind. As the lies and approach of Theresa May’s government continues to unravel there was consensus this may be sooner rather than later. Maria Eagle, MP for Garston and Halewood spoke about how close the Conservative government is to falling apart with a possible election on the horizon. Julie Ward MEP for the North West spoke about constituents’ concerns regarding immigration which can be challenged in the right way.

Cllr Richard Kemp shared his story about his neighbours being from all over Europe and the world. This helps to showcase the city being open and tolerant.

The questions and answers covered the Brexit Withdrawal Bill, a possible second vote, the Northern Irish border with the Republic of Ireland, likely independence for Scotland and fascist similarities in words and actions of the current government. Prof Dougan himself spoke of the current government being proto-fascist in the context of the Henry VIII powers, giving them more control. This especially comes following the letter from MP Chris Heaton-Harris to University Vice Chancellors concerning whose lectures cover Brexit.

The clock is ticking with around 500 days to go until the date Theresa May has set for officially leaving the European Union. This is not a done deal however, as many stumbling blocks exist within parliament; votes in both houses, and changing public opinion will make a difference to the final outcome of the referendum. There is always hope that the UK will not turn its back on the 70 years of peace we have had since the end of Second World War. As quite a poignant thought at the time of Armistice Day, we should not forget all we have achieved together.