Advent 21: I Saw Three Ships…

p1170778p1170569I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day in the morning.

And what was in those ships all three,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day?
And what was in those ships all three,
On Christmas Day in the morning?

The Virgin Mary and Christ were there,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
The Virgin Mary and Christ were there,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

Photos of the Port of Southampton © Southampton Old Lady

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Advent 14: Silly Jumpers

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Christmas jumper party at the Southampton Christmas Market © SOL

As children we wore our Christmas sweaters all winter – They were more like the tasteful Nordic ones then only not as good crafting.

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Scene from Bridget Jones Diary (2001) 
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Presenters Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield wearing Christmas jumpers

For anyone that has read or seen the Bridget Jones Diary (2001) movie, they will know that in the UK we wear silly pullovers at Christmas. Knitwear presents are popular and if your aunt has spent the year knitting that embarrassing sweater for you, then the least you can do is wear it to family gatherings over Christmas.

But since that film these jumpers have taken off in a big way. Sixteen years later, we now even import cheap acrylic ones from China. We have a Christmas jumper at work day to raise money for charity and Presenters even wear them on television! There are nights out and pub-crawls where it is compulsory to wear your Christmas jumper.

Here are more photos I took from the Christmas jumper night out at Southampton’s Christmas market – click on to enlarge:

Some of my favourites:

Take a look at these Cheesy Jumpers on WordPress

What do you wear at Christmas?

 

Buy Nothing Friday  

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Upstairs in the Art House

Black Friday is a recent consumer sales hype adapted from North America which takes place after Thanksgiving Day (the last Thursday in November) despite the fact that the UK does not even celebrate Thanksgiving.

Buy Nothing Day is an annual event in Britain to highlight the issues around consumerism, especially in the lead-up to the festive season.  It’s a day where you challenge yourself, your family and friends to switch off from shopping and tune into life!

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Curb giving away food at a recent festival

To mark Buy Nothing Day in the City of Southampton, this Black Friday, the Art House Café is partnering with Curb, The Real Junk Food Project, Clothes Swap and Books for Free!

They will be taking over The Art House until 6pm on the 25 November, offering food on a pay-as-you-feel basis, clothes to swap or pay-as-you-feel and books by donation!

P1130006Food will be available until it runs out – a big part of waste reduction is challenging the notion that there is always ‘plenty’.  Be sure you get a plateful of delicious nosh made from food diverted from landfill.

Drop in any time to enjoy some nosh, swap your clothes, pick up a book and have a chat about the ways you can reduce waste in your own home.

178 Above Bar Street, Southampton, Hampshire, UK SO14 7DW

Copyright © 2016 The Art House Southampton CIC, All rights reserved.

 

 

Vomit Etiquette

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student vomit on a wall of a residential block

Horrible isn’t it?

But this is what residents in university cities face on a daily basis. I took this photo (above) of a wall of a residential block of flats, which means that no-one from the block will come and clean the offending spew, nor will the town council – so it might be there for well over a week. Thank heaven for British rain – but hell if it freezes over.

It has been freshers’ week and I have had to clean up three lots of the stuff. One lot on the pavement, one on my door step and another from my recycling bin. Recycled sick?  Come on guys I can feel the subconscious guilt – the well-meaning gesture, but no-one is going to re-use your puke!

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Fortunately while you are young your body take the abuse of alcohol and junk food
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behind the bush

Students are basically jobless alcoholics, but their parents are proud of them.

Well, it is a rite of passage, we have all been there. (Yes even me).

Fortunately, most students are at an age when their bodies can take all the abuse of alcohol and junk food. I am not giving advice on your choice of life-style. But you would do well to learn that this is not cool as there is in existence:-

Vomiting and Litter Etiquette

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A typical British street scene the night before bins are due to be emptied in a university town.

If you feel a need to chuck up, and it is better out than in, then it should be offloaded into the gutter, preferably on double yellow lines.

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Ideal place to chuck-up

No cars can park on them and these are usually cleaned by the Council each morning. This enables, say, a working mother to get her kids off to school and get to work in the morning, totally oblivious to what has happened the night before. If the chunder falls on her pavement, she’ll end up muttering “bloody students” under her breath and the chunks won’t be rinsed until she has time to do so in the evening, if she finds time at all. This also means that anyone passing the foul-smelling matter will also think: “bloody students” which does not make for good student-resident relations.

It is similar to litter. If you cannot bear to hold on to your left-over take-aways and drink cans until you find a public bin, then we would rather you used our bins than throw it at our front porch or hide it behind a bush in our green spaces. But please use the ordinary green-lidded rubbish bins, not the recycling ones.

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Squashed chips better off inside the bin

Find out from your council’s website what the recycling policy is in your neighbourhood. Students can also arrange to have their old mattresses collected cheaper or free in some areas, so you don’t need to dump them on parking spaces.

If you accidentally drop your take-away chicko-land & chips, then try to kick them into the gutter. This will prevent them being trodden on and squashed, and any that the gulls don’t breakfast on will be swept away in the morning.

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Too good to use?

Okay. I realise that not everyone who makes a mess is a student and that not every student trawls around the streets at night screaming drunk. But you will be stereotyped, unfortunately, as it is predominately students who do this.

I know that coffee shops, ice cream parlours and shisha lounges have become more popular in student areas and open later now to meet the demands of the alternative life-styles. The pendulum seems to swinging more towards an addiction to healthy green drinks and gyms these days.

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ice cream parlours open late for students

But until I stop having to check my bins for contamination, I will give my pennyworth.

Energy Switch Inertia

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By now the term ‘energy-switch’ has probably already caused you to yawn and click off. If you are outside of Britain then click-off anyway as it won’t affect you.

According to the BBC, a new generation of energy switching services is emerging, claiming to offer better ways for millions of people to cut their gas and electricity bills.

Apps will soon be available that can switch you to these automatically to suit your needs.

You will just receive a text message informing you of who your new supplier is.

“They are designed to help overcome the problem of inertia – the seemingly stubborn refusal of more than 17 million UK households to switch energy suppliers regularly, despite the large potential savings available to those which do.”

The poorest amongst us often have to make a choice between eating and heating in the winter. Government Ministers and regulators endlessly encourage non-switchers to seek out better deals for gas and electricity as the key to forcing the energy market to become more consumer-friendly.

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But with fewer than 15% of households switching last year, this strategy seems not to be working.

The way the energy market now operates, people who switch suppliers benefit from the attractive low-price deals companies offer new customers. Those who rarely or never switch mostly end up paying companies’ notoriously expensive Standard Variable Tariffs (SVTs).

I personally, hate apps, but have just switched energy supplier as I came to the end of a great deal that included £240 worth of shopping vouchers a year. If I did nothing, I will have had to pay nearly 50% again and without vouchers. So I went on to a comparison site and changed. It only took 5 minutes online and they do all the work and notify your old supplier etc. I will be paying an estimated £280 less than the good deal last year, with a newly formed company.

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There is no ‘best’ supplier, we all have different needs.

For some people it is not just about the money, some have commitments to the most ecological energy. If you are elderly or disabled a company which has the best customer-care service may be your priority. If you are Scottish, as an example, you may want to support a supplier from your country as opposed to say a German one.

Those continually on the move, such as students, may have payment meters or need tariffs with no ‘exit fees’ (which can cost up to £60 for each type of energy). If you are out most of the time, then some are now offering free weekend electricity, or a tariff 7 just for night-time users.

Often when you change there is a two-week cooling off period, and you existing supplier will more than likely contact you about cheaper tariffs. If the energy supplier is named in your rental contract, you can often find out if you are on the best tariff with them this way.

Each time your tariff changes your company is obliged to let you know your kw that you used for the year – this will give you the most accurate estimate of savings on a comparison site. You can call them for this or you can just use the monthly bill rate to see if you might be better off somewhere else.

The government has done much in the way of regulations to make it easier to change nowadays.

I myself switched via these: https://switch.which.co.uk as they use big and small companies to compare and give review ratings. There are sites like GoCompare and USwitch but I think that they are more biased towards switching you to the bigger companies, which is fine if that is what you feel safer with. There are plenty of comparison sites out there, it is worth looking at a few.

As a general rule if you have dual fuel, pay by monthly direct debit and are prepared to do your own meter readings online it will be cheaper, but not always.

One thing is for certain, the more we are prepared to switch, the more accountable the energy companies have to become.

Why not do a check?  Or, let me know your thoughts and tips.

All photos © by Southampton Old Lady