Will changing my morning routine give me more spare time?

Whilst browsing through my LinkedIn newsfeed I came across the article titled ‘You’re wasting your spare time and it’s killing your success‘ by Tim Denning. Although I’m not completely convinced by all the changes the author has implemented in his life to make him more productive I am interested in trying to implement the whole getting a better nights sleep and getting up earlier and using that time productively. I don’t think I can give up television or caffeine completely and apart from the odd slip up and binge weekend I do try to eat healthily. At the moment I don’t think I can get out of bed a full hour earlier than usual so am going to try and gradually ease myself in by starting with getting up 30 minutes earlier.

Tuesday 25 July

Alarm goes off at 6.30 and struggled to get out of bed

But the light shining through my window at about 5.20 waking me up meant I wasn’t fully asleep when the alarm went off.

  • I managed to tidy a few things in bedroom where I had left things strewn around in exhaustion from the night before. I had gone to a different body combat class, lets just say my stamina needs a bit of work hence the exhausted / my body is broken feeling.
  • Did morning yoga video.
  • Was showered and dressed in record time.
  • It’s usually too early for me to have breakfast, I generally have some milk to tie me over until I get to work.
  •  I was all ready to leave for work with at least an extra 30 minutes to spare, something I don’t usually have. In that time I was able to get petrol and check the tyre pressure on my car and was still at work 15 minutes early. Enough time to get myself settled and ready for the working day.

Wednesday 26 July

Things are not going well

Alarm went off and I’m still half asleep. Rolled out of my bed and rolled out my yoga mat for a wake me up morning yoga session. Maybe it is just me but in those short minutes of yoga I did manage to wake up enough to not want to crawl back into bed. I thought about switching my laptop on and doing a few things but realised there wasn’t really a lot of time to do what I was thinking of doing so decided to read a chapter of a book I recently got called ‘My soul to keep‘ by Jackie Sonnenberg, I’ll write a review once I’ve finished it.

By now I was fully awake and ready to get on with the rest of my morning routine. I was at work early and seemed to be in a bit of a hyper mode, my mood levels were at a high. Not sure if this was because of my new morning routine where I didn’t have to rush around and had extra time for myself. Lets see how the rest of the week goes.

Thursday 27 July

It wasn’t a great start.

The night before I did fall asleep whilst reading at a reasonable time, however despite being July the winds picked up and my guttering needs repair, so loose guttering plus strong winds made a lot of noise right outside my bedroom window.  I woke up again at 12.30, read a bit more and resorted to putting cotton wool in my ears which helped me get a few hours sleep at least. This guttering debacle, weather permitting will get sorted out this weekend so I can continue with this experiment without looking like an extra from The Walking Dead, which defeats the purpose of

Alarm goes off, bleary eyed and pressing the snooze button did cross my mind before deciding against it and crawling out of bed. Opened the curtains and rolled out the yoga mat ready to start my day. I didn’t get much else done this morning other than the usual getting ready for work as my movements and energy to do things was a lot slower this morning. I managed to do some food shopping before work.

Friday 28 July

Finally, I’m finding getting up at 6.30 easier!

This morning alarm went off and I was up and out of bed, yoga mat rolled out and ready to go on with a stretch here and there. Relaxed a bit before I washed and dressed for work. This is how crazy I think I must be, I had plenty of time this morning and decided to clean my kitchen sink and scrubbing away the lime scale & and tea stains. Of all the things I could have done with the extra time this morning I decide to clean the kitchen sink! At least it is one thing of my to do list.

Saturday 29 July

Still up early bright eyed and bushy tailed!

With it being a Saturday I wasn’t sure if I would make it out of bed but the alarm went off usual time and I was up and doing my morning yoga routine. I even managed to get a few things done around the house all before 9 am. This left me with approx. 1.5 hours spare before a body combat class at 11.

Sunday 30 / Monday 31 July

These two days I failed miserably

The late night Saturday didn’t help hence the 7.30 start on Sunday, I would say I’m allowed a cheat day. I managed to get a few things that morning that will save me time and not be rushing around. There were a few family drama’s that Sunday which resulted in myself and my partner being at the hospital late Sunday afternoon until about 7.30. Those who know me well know that I don’t eat much take away but by the time I got home I was too exhausted to even cook dinner and resorted to a McDonalds. I know it’s not the healthiest of meals but needs must and I needed something convenient. To top it all off the dodgy guttering still didn’t get repaired, lets hope there aren’t any hurricanes in the near future. We might be heading into August, month of the school summer holidays but also lets not forget we live in the UK and the weather doesn’t care what season it’s meant to be, if it wants to hailed down torrential rain in July then it will.

Come Monday morning and I’m still drained, skipped the 6.30 alarm and morning yoga instead getting up at 6.50. I was a bit concerned about looking like an extra from The Walking Dead where they have just been turned into the zombie and that was with makeup!  Lets see if I’ll have recovered by Tuesday and be able to go back to the routine.

Tuesday 01 August

I started of this experiment quite well

Waking up earlier, morning yoga, feeling relaxed. But the past few days I have fallen of the wagon, not enough sleep, not sticking with the morning routine and running the risk of falling back into old habits.

Today was a bit different, I got up early to go and meet a friend for breakfast before work. The food itself was so so, but the company as always was worth dragging myself out of bed for.

Conclusion

Will I stick with this new morning routine?

I’ve only stuck with it for a week to see how I would fare, I need to stick it out a bit longer to see what the long term effects will be. What I did discover is that waking up earlier in the mornings wasn’t easy, it was the initial being woken up by the alarm that I struggled the most with. Most days by the time I had finished the yoga routine I was more alert.

All in all I do think this little experiment taught me that with a bit of organisation I do have more time to get things done. I also found that;

  • I felt a lot better within myself and how I approached the day
  • I slept better
  • Had more energy

Lets see how long I can keep this up, at the moment the morning aren’t as cold so the temptation to stay wrapped up in the warm duvet isn’t there yet.

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Learning difficulties, autism and employment

‘…6% of people with a learning disability and 15% of people with autism are in full time paid employment

I would like to say I’m surprised with the number of people with learning difficulties and autism who are in paid employment but I’m not. Unfortunately a large number of employers can’t get past the conventional way of employing people; CV, Interview then a choice is made to hire the appropriate person. In most cases this is the standard hiring process and works for many companies but not for those with a learning disability and/or autism.

This topic is close to my heart with a brother who is diagnosed with Asperger’s who finished university last year and is looking for work. His degree in graphics and animation and in my opinion he is talented; he is constantly working on something and expanding his skills and knowledge. However I also know that the conventional type of interview is a daunting experience for him. The interview tips that are given to people are not going to work for him. His body language and lack of eye contact doesn’t mean he’s not interested in the position it’s just he doesn’t understand that what is the right amount of time to hold eye contact or that crossing your arms are the slouching can show him in a negative light. He is passionate about what he does and has a great imagination not to mention his witty and sarcastic sense of humour that occasionally makes an appearance. But an interviewer will not see all this because they may not understand Asperger’s, have not been able to make changes to the interview setting to accommodate him or they just can’t be bothered to think outside the box. I may seem like I’m making sweeping generalisations here and unfairly vilifying interviewers and companies but the statistics don’t lie, they can be manipulated but in this instance they don’t lie. I am biased but personally I think employers are missing out on a valuable talent pool.

‘Normal’ is such a generic term

A disability of any kind does not automatically mean that person is incapable of being employed & being brilliant at their job. Like the rest of us they want to have some kind of self worth, feel a sense of achievement. Despite all the attention surrounding the lack of people with a learning disability, autism or both, I wonder just how many employees ‘get’ what it means to have learning disability, autism or both? What cookie cutter employee mould do they consider normal? ‘Normal’ is such a generic term these days, what is normal? We live in a day and age where people decide to pick which gender they relate better with or no gender at all, they are gender fluid. Yet there is difficulty finding gainful employment for those with a learning disability, autism or both.

So what can, needs and should be done about this?

As I sit here ploughing my way through a box of Mikado I browse through the intrepid world of Google seeking answers to this very question. To begin, with autism and learning disability are not the same.

Autism is not a learning disability, but around half of people with autism may also have a learning disability, which will affect the level of support they need in their life. Some people may also receive a ‘dual diagnosis’; ­ for example, they may have Down’s syndrome and autism.

A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability and difficulty with everyday activities – for example household tasks, socialising or managing money – which affects someone for their whole life.

Network Autism offer useful pieces of advice for both Jobseekers and prospective employers. If you prefer a more visual guidance visit autism.org to view the video’s.

I know I am biased but do think employers are missing out on a valuable talent pool. With a bit of tweaking here and there, a bit of adaptability and understanding employers could tap into this hidden workforce which for far too long has been ignored.

Resources
Mencap
The National Autistic Society
Network Autism
Dimensions

Find your online voice

When I first looked into developing my online personal brand I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing or where to begin. After reading a few articles with their own tips and words of advice the fog is starting to clear a bit I realised I was approaching things all wrong. Some of the articles I read said I should keep my online persona and my actual persona separate, maybe this works for some people but not for me. I have a varied set of interests and that I should focus on one topic and work on building an audience around that subject felt like I wasn’t giving a clear picture of the type of I am by neglecting my other interests such as baking and reading. The problem with this approach is I can’t give every topic the full attention it deserves, at the moment my Twitter feed is full of posts relating to mental health, social media, technology with the odd post about baking and exercise adding the personal touch showing that I do have a life and interests that may attract a new group of people who also bake and have an interest in robots being developed to mimic human traits.

I need to find a happy middle ground that worked for me, a mixture of posts that Once I had worked out that in order for me to be comfortable posting online and building up a network I needed to be more ‘human’, more myself. Remain professional but understand the people I engage with online and whose posts I share haven’t met me in person, they don’t know my personality all of which I need to convey through an online post.

This new approach seems to be working with Twitter and I’m trying to utilise some of the resources on there to help my bother find a job by sharing his digital artwork. His Asperger’s does hinder him in some ways, new people can unnerve him but don’t feel sorry for him as his has a lot of positive traits that any employer would be lucky to have him once both parties get past the initial obstacles. LinkedIn I’ll keep it more professional for now until I find a voice for this network that I am comfortable with, this is still a work in progress.

I know I have been lax in posting on this blog, but on here I have always tried to be myself. Blogging is the one place where I have written about my interests, things that have caught my attention in the news to work related pieces. I probably should have put more thought into the type of image I wanted my blog to have or what personality I wanted it to have, but over thinking all this would just stress me out instead of having fun with it. Which I think I do, I’ve written about random people fly tipping to the lack of forks in the work kitchen, I have also been serious when writing work related articles.

If you want to know about creating an online personal brand than there are lots of articles out there to help you, some will get straight to the point others will be very long winded that you will lose interest within the first paragraph. They will have one thing in common, be you; be genuine, be real. This is your selling point, talk about the things that interest you, make you laugh, make you cry, share your knowledge and experiences but don’t be fake. You can’t please all the people all the time but the first person you might as well please is yourself the rest will eventually fall into place. For some an online persona is about building an audience for their brand for others it is a therapeutic experience. You can think about how you want network, market yourself and your blog once you have found your online voice. Once you achieve that there will be no stopping you.

Weekend; Body combat, guttering & eating

Body combat

I survived another week at body combat and lived to tell the tale. I thought I was doing okish in the class, was doing my best to keep up if it got too much then slowed it down to my pace and only had to fight the urge the vomit once, pretty good going if you ask me. There I am feeling all proud of myself when as we’re walking back to the car my sister comments that at one point she was genuinely worried about as she thought I was going to pass out. Her reason for this was I looked worn how and my cheeks had gone very red, how red I can’t say as I wasn’t wearing my glasses during the class to see in the giant mirror opposite us. By the time we had got home my cheeks apparently had calmed down but not enough for her to worry our mum that I should stop or slowed down if I start to feel that I’m pushing myself too much. It doesn’t help that our dad passed away last year from heart failure and in general our family has a history of diabetes. The reason we exercise and try to eat a bit better is because we are not ready to given into our family’s medical history of diabetes and heart disease.

The problem with a high intensity class like body combat is that I am always so hungry afterwards, can’t be a bad thing as food is required to replenish energy and nutrients. The problem is this weekend in particular I even surprised myself by how much I could pack away, the share bag crisps were shared between me, myself and I on top of normal lunch, dinner, trifle, rice pudding, bagel and generally whatever else I could get my hands on. I personally don’t think it was all a bad thing as my body seemed to recover a lot quicker and I could lift my arms above my head without crying by Sunday evening.

My sister who has discovered the physical and mental benefit of exercise and making full use of the gyms is trying to get me to go to a spin class with her. I’ve seen the videos I’m not putting my knees through that, that’s the excuse I’m sticking with!

Guttering

It’s no secret I’m not the most sociable person, sure I can fake it if I have to but otherwise I’m the person who may smile and say morning to the neighbours but that’s as far as it goes. So you’ll be proud of me when I say that I spoke to a neighbour to ask if I could borrow his ladder to fix some guttering on my house. I had the guttering redone a few years ago and one of the clips had come loose, seeing the size of the screw that had been used it is no wonder the clip had come loose. I had so much trouble with the company used and cannot find the paperwork that I’m not rushing to phone them to see if there was a warranty of some kind on the guttering and if they could search their records. I could find payment details for the company as proof they had done the work but the question is can I face the headache when I now have obtained a ladder and a friend has offered secure the clip that has come loose and add another one for extra measure.

Cooking

20170724_131718Now that you have finished laughing no I didn’t cook as such, because I got a bit too eager with the rice measurements I had plenty of boiled left over and didn’t want to throw it away so decided to make something with it. I discovered recipes for Kheer (rice pudding) and Zarda (sweet rice) both Asian sweet dishes on the veg recipes if India website. which turned out better than I had hoped. I would have taken pictures of the kheer but it got eaten, like I said my eating habits were on a roll this weekend. The zarda I improvised a bit as I didn’t have all the spices to go in the mix but I had the rice, sugar, cardamom pods and threw in a few sultanas because I like them and it was too shabby. Definitely edible.

Rest of the weekend

Remainder of the weekend resulted in me vegetating in bed with the not so share bag of crisps and watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix. There was no yoga before bed, I didn’t get out of bed in time for my 5 minute morning yoga session this morning either. Think my vegetation moment is over and I need to leave the crisps and equally bad food alone until the weekend and get back into a healthy week routine. I had fruit for breaksfast….after the cinnamon and raisin bagel but I promise I will be back on the porridge oats once I have finished the bagels, don’t want to waste them now. 

How do your hobbies make you better at your work

I came across this question from Dave Kerpen on LinkedIn; How do your hobbies make you better at your work?

Exercise, reading a book, painting picture etc things we associate with winding down, relaxing and forgetting about work. Many of us try so hard to keep our personal life separate from our work life that we don’t always realise that experiences in our personal lives can actually make us better at our jobs. This question got me thinking about how my own hobbies and without realising how they have helped me in my work and shaped the person I am.

Kickboxing

Over the years my range of hobbies have varied, up until the middle of last year I regularly attended a kickboxing class. Finding the right class with the right people is important, the activity itself is a contact sport but it also teaches discipline and respect for each other. We don’t all walk into the class as black belts, it takes hard work, determination and practice to get the moves right. None of this happens if you don’t have the support of your club, your team and your instructor. Everyone at all levels working together to encourage and teach, you have no idea the positive effect a few words of encouragement can have when you think you haven’t got enough energy to survive that last minute in a round of sparring or if like me your lower body isn’t very flexible when you can finally get your round kick that little bit higher. It is those qualities that can be transferred to the workplace. Support and encourage your team, we all fall down sometimes and need a little help to get back up again knowing you have your team in your corner can make all the difference to how you progress, handle certain situations and projects.

Reading

My other hobbies include reading. When needs must, I have resorted to reading a book on my mobile phone using the Kindle app, but you can’t beat reading from a physical book. Yes they take up space and to the untrained eye can be seen as clutter, however there is something about a good book that can help you escape from the drama of life and help you relax. I’ve recently discovered audio books on YouTube and when I want to block out the world oddly enough having my headphones on and a book playing in the background helps me to concentrate, maybe I’m just odd like that but whatever works to help make me productive can’t be a bad thing.

Yoga

I’ve not ever been a fan of yoga until I discovered the online videos which I can do at my own pace and to my own ability. I’ll not ever be able to move in those pretzel shapes but just doing the short bedtime and morning yoga videos help me feel a lot calmer, the tight muscles and knots get stretched out and I feel much better within myself. The breathing techniques learnt from yoga help me bring myself back to a much calmer place when I’m feeling stressed at work. I have been known to have essential oils at my desk like peppermint to help my sinuses and altogether feel ready to tackle the task at hand. The office can smell of peppermint but who doesn’t like that scent?

As individuals we are always learning and changing, I’m a believer that depending on the job role our personal and work lives can and do influence the other. I know from working for the NHS has benefitted me and changed my thinking for the better.

So, how do your hobbies make you better at your work?

My body combat class experience

I have thought about going back to a kickboxing class but due to financial constraints this isn’t yet possible so in the mean time I’ve been on the lookout at the gym for a class that can give me the same release as kickboxing and came across the body combat classes. Plus side with the gym is that it is already paid for and fortunately my monthly membership isn’t extortionate as long as I go the gym every week. The class my youngest siblings and I attended was on Saturday morning, double bonus in the way that I get fit and I save money by then not going shopping and spending money on things I don’t really need. See how I am bigging up the positive points of trying out a body combat class on a Saturday morning? Now comes the evil part!

The class is intense, being my first time at this class I should have taken things a bit easier but with the music pumping and the instructor shouting out her words of encouragement you get caught up in moment until every part of body, inside and out, starts screaming at you to stop. But did I stop…person of course not! There were people in that class that were at least 10 years older than me and then there was my siblings who 10+ years younger than me, there was no way I was going to show weakness and give up.

e7e9c9e574890a90f57082e2a51fdb57--body-combat-les-mills afterFast forward as we come towards the end of the class, although I’m breathing deeply fortunately I’m still conscious. I thought when we were asked to use the mats to cool down I would have the opportunity to lay down, getting up would be a different story but laying down sounded good. Through my exhausted, sweat drenched state I was clearly getting this class confused with body balance where the cool down  involves laying down and closing your eyes. This ‘cool down’ involved sit ups and planks! My experience of body combat did remind of my first kickboxing lesson at a new club which I did have to leave early to go lay down in my car whilst I fought of the urge to vomit, I did go back again and went on to achieve two belts.
With the body combat class I felt like a part of me had died and my legs were feeling like jelly but I was able still able to drop my siblings off home and sit down for a bit before I drove myself home, by this point I also desperately needed a shower.

After shower and food I was good for nothing and spent the rest of the day on the sofa reading a book & my appetite shot through the roof, I kept eating what felt like every hour! It has taken my body nearly two days to recover and be able to raise my arms without the muscles in my upper arms and shoulders screaming in resistance. Crazy as it sounds, though my body was put through its paces and pushed to its limits it was worth it, I slept well that night and know that if I was to keep up with this class my stamina would improve as well as my recovery time. I’m being over dramatic but it does make for a good blog article.

All that said and done I’m no quitter and am aiming to attend the class again this Saturday, guess I’m just glutton for punishment.

Punctured tyres & eventful journey to work

What a start to the day, I woke up early to take my car to the garage to get one of the back tyres looked at before work. I already knew there was a slow puncture as I have been having to pump it up every few days. Got there, got the pressure checked it was low again and the mechanic found a nail in the tyre, 45665b770c045e69459c50c723b00e5e--silver-lining-quotes-cloud-quotesbecause of the position of the nail he was able to save the tyre. Excellent news or so I thought. At this point I was feeling quite positive and thought while I’m there ask him to check the pressure on the other three tyres when he discovered the pressure on the other back tyre was also very low. I had only checked the tyres a few days ago and the pressure was fine, another bloody nail only this time the tyre wasn’t salvageable. Plus side I now have a car with four road safe tyres, always look for the silver lining.

I had already messaged ahead to let work know what was happening, if it wasn’t the second punctured tyre I would have been in on time, realistically at least not as late as I was. The roads were clear so at least that worked in my favour but clearly I have peeved someone off somewhere as they didn’t want me to get to work so easily, or it’s a sign that it could be time to find a new job, just a thought. A driver in front of me couldn’t make up their mind which lane they wanted to be in and kept swaying into my lane until they had figured it out, either they weren’t sure which lane to use or they were distracted by something. 

I get closer to work and am on the roundabout in the right hand lane and about to turn off when the car in the left hand lane decided he wants to go all the way round the roundabout and cutting in front of me close enough that my heart momentarily stops, I still managed to find the horn on the car to let him know that any closer and I would have been sitting in his lap. Give me the crazy drivers during the usual work rush hour, the quieter the roads the more dangerous the roads seemed to me!

As I’m writing this you can tell both me and the car got to work in one piece. In comparison to my morning work day has been a breeze, busy but who wants a day where you’re clock watching. My office doesn’t have air conditioning and is prone to create sauna like conditions that we have at least three fans on the go, either myself and my work colleague have climatised the conditions but the temperature hasn’t been too bad, put it this way it has been a lot worse.

I have my summer school fete biscuit stall again this year so tonight I am preparing for my stall. Let’s home the journey home is uneventful.

Life changes, but it still goes on

Like most people I do have a side of me that tends to worry about completely unnecessary things but I wouldn’t say that I would get overly anxious. I don’t think I suffer from crippling anxiety issues and can’t even begin to imagine how those who do suffer from this condition. But ever since my dad passed away if feel that my own confidence has taken a bit of a hit. It is entirely possible the way I react to some things is an emotional knock on effect and that over time it will pass but it’s a case of getting a handle on things now.

It’s not even like the things I over think are even that significant for example part of my guttering has decided it would become lose, it’s not dangerous and not likely to fall down. But of course with my over active imagination every time there is a gust of wind and I hear the guttering rattle in the stop it has become loose I think not only will it fall down but it will also rip the fascia off with it!

cartoon_car_01_vector_156346Then there is my car, in all likely hood it is possibly just the way I drove riding the clutch a bit too much. The few times the car has stopped in traffic I thought there was something wrong with the car, every other time the car has been fine with no problems. No warning lights flashed up on the dashboard, took it to the mechanic where it was hooked up to a computer and no warnings flagged Fuel cleanerup there either. Spark plugs have been changed but because no warning signs have been flagged up the mechanics are going in blind as when they drive it they can’t find anything wrong, these are mechanic I trust and have been going to them for years.  Not content I still think the car is just going to stop in the middle of the road, I have now put a cleaner into the petrol tank. For £5.00 it was worth a try, if nothing else it will clear out any gunk from that side of things.

Prior to the above non problem with the car I had to drive to Hertfordshire for a work event. I have driven many places with varying distance by myself and not every been that worried about it. But even my sister asked me what the matter is as I haven’t ever been like this.

I think it’s because my dad was a bit like a safety net, if anything happened or went wrong I would just call him. I know I have RAC breakdown cover but it’s not the same thing, if things broke down in the house I would phone my parents who would come help me figure out what to do. Now I feel like life, fate has thrown me a curve ball where I feel not all but some aspects of my life have been flipped upside down. A lot of things just carry on as normal but then there are the moments when you realise that no things are not normal, you just have to try and create a new version of normal that hopefully doesn’t involve  worrying about situations that realistically only exist in your own head!

Sometimes I think I need to go back to kickboxing, punch and kick out those anxious feelings. Kickboxing was always something I loved to do, if I did no other physical activity that would be the one constant activity I took part in, when dad became unwell that all stopped and even afterwards my heart wasn’t in it. Now I tend to do yoga at home, body balance class at the gym and the odd Zumba class. I have tried out a kickboxing for weight loss aerobic style workout YouTube video at home, it is only 20 minutes long but I had to lay down afterwards the first few times I did the video. Baking helps, that also stopped for a period of time. Gradually I’m getting back into making other people fat again, I mostly bake biscuits to help raise money for charities friends and colleagues are taking part in, recently I baked some biscuits raising money for the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research. I have my regular spot at a school fete next month, it’s worth the hard work and effort that goes in making the biscuits and decorating the table. The whole event from the PTA to the children and their parents is always a great experience, I even have a few regulars.

I do feel that physically I am getting better, eating habits have improved, the exercise though different from before is helping and as I don’t feel like my clothes are suffocating me! Mentally I have my good days and bad days. Sleeping can be an issue at times, one week I’ll go to sleep at a reasonable time other weeks I would could be wide awake until gone 1. I have found that a bedtime yoga YouTube video, I can either do the 7 minute or the 20 minute version that reduce me to mush, ideal when I am trying to wind down to sleep.

I’m don’t expect I’ll ever be the same person I was before dad passed away but I do hope that I’ll be able to take something positive out of this heart breaking life event and the changes I do make will make me a better person.

Indulgent Asian food

It’s not often that I get to cook with my mum, it’s always an opportunity to experiment with new recipes.
This particular weekend we decided to make some homemade vegetable samosa’s with homemade pastry followed by some instant homemade jalebi. It was a completely indulgent weekend because both the samosa’s and the jalebi are fried so copious amounts of tea were drunk to help the delicious food to go down but then it’s the best way to eat this type of food.

The samosa’s were more my mum’s idea I simply assisted. She had already boiled the potatoes 20170604_132135before I arrived I simply had to make the filling. I had no recipe to hand so in my usual style I winged it, making it up as I went along tasting to see if there were enough spicies, salt etc.

For the pastry my mum found this YouTube video, (please note it doesn’t have any sound) my mum watched it mostly for the technique the lady in the video used to make the samosa pastry. She rolled out the round discs and cooked them slightly on a flat pan! It sounds odd but the technique worked, you have to watch the video because the way I would describe the technique wouldn’t do it justice.
This is a time consuming method and much easier when there are two of you making them or if you make them in bulk then freeze them but the end result is work it. The pastry when fried was light and crispy just how a samosa should be. My youngest sister is extremely fussy and even these won her seal of approval.

Jalebi is one of my favourite Asian sweets, it’s sticky and very sweet. Using a piping bag or squeezy bottle a batter is piped/squeezed into hot oil in a swirly round pattern until a nice golden colour then soaked in a sugar syrup to give it’s sweet sticky taste and texture. It is because of it’s sweetness that I can only eat one of two at a time so thought a homemade version to suit my taste would be ideal. A normal jalebi batter is expected to sit overnight to allow so the jalebi once fried is light in the middle and crispy on the outside. I didn’t have the time or the patience to wait almost 24 hours for a jalebi batter to be ready, luckily I found this instant jalebi batter recipe from Tarla Dalal, you can add colouring to the batter if you want but I left mine au naturel. This was my first time making them so my piping technique needs some work but I did make some interesting shapes and patterns with the batter.

This is how they are meant to look. 220px-Awadhi_jalebi

This is how mine looked.

20170604_170253

The texture of the finished jalebi’s is slightly different to the overnight batter mixture but they taste just as good and quite addictive. They were sticky, crispy and the right amount of sweetness for my taste. I personally found they weren’t as crispy the following day but still nice to have with a cup of tea.

This type of food it a treat, I couldn’t eat like this every weekend but it doesn’t hurt to be a bit indulgent now and then.

Delivery Robot coming to a doorstep near you

Us humans are an impatient bunch, we want things to be quicker, more efficient and slot in around our busy lives. If you order something online we want it delivered yesterday, unless it’s food then we want it immediately and hot, not lukewarm, not stone cold but scald the roof of your mouth piping hot.

The latest on the streets is the delivery robot, this isn’t exactly new but is being trialled by large company’s. Don’t be alarmed if a robot turns up on your doorstep delivering your online shopping or takeaway. How else will companies be able to keep up with the demands of their consumers without costing them extra money in man power?

Just Eat teamed up with Starship Technologies to trial these robots in London using them in place of takeaway delivery drivers. These little bots can travel at 4 mph for 10 miles, uses GPS and cameras to get around so in theory they won’t get lost or need to ask for directions.

More recently, also working with Starship Technologies was Tesco who trialled this very robot which can hold up to 3 shopping bags and will still work in 20cm of snow. Considering how our public transport grinds to a halt at the hint of a snowflake that is impressive.

Don’t worry about potential thief’s.. ‘Earlier tests found people who tried to break in by jumping on it ended up with it trapped on their leg’, that’s one way to stop a chancer. Customers can access their shopping by typing in a pin and voila access to your shopping.

Future of delivery jobs

This can be a cause for concern for some delivery driver if these mini bundles of circuitry takes off. There will be companies who will find monetary value in using robots for small deliveries, they can only carry up 10 kg or three shopping bags and cheaper to employ.

‘…is cheaper than the average human delivery, costing £1 to transport within a 3 mile radius, compared with the £3 to £6 it costs for a human courier’

There is also the lack of human contact. We do like to complain especially if we can get ventingsomething out of it, that won’t happen with a delivery bot. These robots will remove that human element of being able to complain to the delivery driver when your delivery is late, items are missing or your food is cold! Where is the satisfaction in that?
Off to customer service you go to vent, until to you discover the person on the other end of the phone has been replaced with a chatbot!

Lets look at the pros and cons before we decide to vilify the deliver bot ;

Pros

  •  They are efficient, the aim of Start Technologies is to have about 100 robots that would need one person to step in and take over if they needed to
  • Can make short distance deliveries
  • They are secure
  • Won’t get stuck in traffic

Cons

  •  No more friendly delivery driver until you yell at them then they are no longer your friend
  • Loss of jobs
  • What happens if they break down on route, malfunction or get lost?

 

So, what do think, fancy a relative of R2D2 turning up on your doorstep?