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Thursday, March 05, 2009

5 Minute Chocolate Penny Cake

My wife just made this for me after a hard day at the office. It tasted great and took 5 minutes to make including the 3 minutes in the microwave! No measuring, no weird ingredients you don't have.

Try it and add a comment to this post to let me know your thoughts, adaptions, etc :)

5 Minute Chocolate Penny Cake Ingredients:
4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips or chopped up chocolate or anything really (optional)
a small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in the milk and oil and mix well. Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract (if using), and mix again.

Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes for a 1000 watts and 4 minutes for lesser wattage ovens. The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed! Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.

Let me know how you get on.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Surrey School Primary School Selection Process

I have just gone through the horrific process of applying for a school place for my first child. While I am happy with the outcome. I realise from talking to many of my parent friends that the application procedure is completely flawed. In fact, I would go further and say that the advice given to parents is utterly misleading. The result being a lot of unhappy parents.

It works like this. You have a form with 3 boxes. In them you write your first, second and third choice school.

Apparently THIS YEAR, the preference i.e. the 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice rankings, are ignored by the school you are applying to. Each of your choices will say yes or no irrespective of the preference you give. Purely based on your circumstances, i.e. distance from school, siblings, other special conditions. So a central body then get 3 responses back and your HIGHEST preference that said YES will be granted to you. They might ALL be YES, but the highest will count.

So you would be tempted to put a really top school that is miles away from your area and totally oversubscribed as your first choice right?

We are very lucky. Our closest school was, in our opinion having visited them all, the best in the area. So we popped the form in to them. We didn't have to worry too much about deciding how to play the game.

Here are the two ways people have played it, Person X is following the advice and taking a chance. Person Y is playing it safe.

Person X puts school c, b, a in that order. (putting "c" which is the best school but oversubscribed, "b" a school miles away that got good reviews and "a" the local good school). Person X is taking the advice that the preference is actually ignored and trying to get the best school. She knows that c will say yes because it is the local school, so why not have a go at trying to get in the other school?

Person Y puts school a, b & c in that order. (c is a great school but over subscribed, a is a good school and more local). Person Y is playing it safe.

It seems that Person Y will almost certainly get accepted into School A. Whereas Person X may be rejected from all 3 and dumped somewhere they don't want to be, perhaps MILES away from their area. This suggests that the local authority may have changed the preference system to be 3 equal choices, but nobody told the schools.

Here is another important paradoxical bit of advice. Once you have decided the order, you can either hand the form to your first choice school or submit it online. Hand in to your first choice school??? That doesn't sound like a process that would ignores preference?! So in respect to this, it seems that if you submit online you are unlikely to get your first or even your second choice, in fact you might be unlucky and get none of your choices. But if you hand it in you get a much higher chance. But this seems logical right? Why have the option of handing it in to the first choice school. Obviously the first choice school will give preference to the applications it has in hand. Because the first choice school KNOWS that it is first choice and doesn't want to say yes to a bunch or second or third choices which ultimately will result in more administration as they have to reprocess other applications when they say no.

Confused. Welcome to world of Parents in Surrey. Playing this stupid bureaucratic game, jumping though hoops and having to gamble and guess in order to get a better education for our children. Thanks for the added stress!

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Credit Crunch

It has been a while since I wrote anything on this blog. Since I last wrote it seems the entire planet's financial system have gone into meltdown and the optimism and growth of the early 00's has turned into a dark, cold, depressing, homeless person vomiting on a puppy reality that we have today. People are loosing their jobs left, right and centre. Friends are getting laid off in other companies. I have to say (touching wood as I type this (I really am)) I have been unaffected, but that really isn't the point, the fact is that everyone, me included, feels like they are walking a tightrope between stability financial ruin. My house, my families greatest asset, seems to be shrinking in value every minute. This point alone doesn't really concern me, but so many people now have negative equity, it is frightening and adds to the sense of worry building in the UK today. Of course, being the miserable bunch of b*stards that we British are, we are sure to be the LAST to escape a recession. The US will pull through first, yanking most of the world with it, but the UK will continue to squelch around in our own media driven self-pity, it is what we do best. So, it looks like this cold depressing winter will be showering snow flurries of instability for a few years longer, I just hope I can stay on the tightrope until I get to the other end and make it to the springtime of financial growth, - I love a mixed metaphor coupled with a nice stretched analogy :)

P.s. I hate the term credit crunch.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

2.4 Children

Never considered myself "average".  I am a unique and interesting, I am one of a kind, an individual - just like every other bugger on the planet.   Well, Penny is 40% through her pregnancy.  So I officially have the stereotypical UK average 2.4 children.

Oh yeah, Penny is pregnant with number 3.  Had I not mentioned that :)

I am now looking at distinctly average family cars.

All I can say is that my life feels significantly greater than the sum of it's average parts.  I am very happy and looking forward to the third big adventure.  Here we go again!

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

JJ conducting an Orchestra in Wii Music

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Video: JJ not waking up after his nap

SUCH a sweet kid :)

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Podcasting India

I am in India this week - I am going to be too busy with work to make posts to my blog so I have setup a podcast so I can quickly record my impressions of this interesting country. It is really just an audio postcard to friends and family back home. To avoid cluttering up this blog (any more), I have a travel blog that automatically updates with new podcasts as soon as I post them up - here is the link: http://podcast.kitt.net

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ripley dancing to the wannadies - you and me song

I just love the look on Jayjay's face as he starts laughing

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