21 March 2021

Time For a Staycation

Last year my mum was due to have a milestone birthday (80 but don't tell her I told you!).

As she is a lover of all things theatre related, I decided to find accommodation through hotels.com for a room in Manchester together with tickets to see Sister Act at the Palace Theatre.  Sadly, due to the pandemic, the show was cancelled and as such, our plans.

In current climes, it is important that when you make any plans, you bear in mind current Government guidelines so that you can prepare and organise accordingly.  This was especially important when starting to arrange her birthday this year.

Looking at the Government road map going forward, restaurants are due to open with the ability to eat indoors from the 12th May, with hotels opening from the 3rd July 2021.  We are due to be out of lockdown by the 21st June and with any luck, everyone able will be vaccinated by the 31st July 2020.

Bearing in mind the above, I decided to book a staycation for my mum and I for September; with as much luxury as I can think of, whilst being mindful of the rules and what is safe to do for ourselves, and all.  

Rather than taking public transport to Manchester for our staycation, I have organised a car to transport us to and from our location.  This both adds a little luxury touch, whilst reducing our contact with others where possible.

With restaurants eager for diners to return to their establishments, we already know that proper distancing between tables will be in place and enhanced hygiene practices will be well established.  I plan to choose a few different restaurants for both lunch and dinner options for our two day trip.

With the theatre option not being available, I am looking at visiting the Manchester Museum to see the fantastic T-Rex, as well as a not to be missed visit to Chinatown.  We may decide to also utilise one of the free walking tours around Manchester which allows you to see many of the old and new architecture around the city.  Although at 81 by then, I suspect that the walk will be more of a stroll!  Again, don't tell her I said that!

For our accommodation, I have chosen to book an aparthotel which offers us both privacy and an added safety aspect rather than mingling with other guests; whilst maintaining a high quality of accommodation and a high level of cleanliness.

All of our bookings and planned trips will of course be subject to Government guidelines as well as any travel restrictions in place.  By then, both my mum and I should have had the vaccine so will also be in line with any Covid checks that are in place for any of activities and bookings.

Now is time the time to start planning your next staycation; where will you be going to for yours?

Images from Unsplash

In collaboration with Hotels.com, but all views are my own

18 March 2021

Simple Ways To Stay Looking Youthful In Spring



Spring is finally here and it’s time for us to get back out in the world as the pandemic comes to an end. Spring is a time for a fresh start, and many of us want to go out with our best foot forward and look our best. 

Today we want to share some of the simple beauty tips you can use to help you feel more youthful and fresh in the spring and into summer. There are so many simple ways you can look and feel great at home and we want to share them. 

Wear colors that suit you 

The first thing you can consider doing to help you feel your best this spring is wear colors that work for you. We all have a different skin tone and certain colors will suit us and others might wash us out. Try to figure out if your skin is cool or warm toned by looking at your veins - if they are blue then you have cool toned skin and if they are green you have warm toned skin. Once you know this you can look at the different colours that suit each tone. For example, cool skin often suits jewel tones such as deep red, blue and green - whereas warm toned skin looks great with yellows, browns and pastels. Dress to suit your skin and you will look more youthful right away. 

Moisturise your neck 

If you have been considering a neck lift or you simply want to prevent wrinkles in this area you need to start moisturising your neck properly each day. It is so important that you moisturise your neck at least once a day when you moisturise your face. When applying moisturiser to your neck make sure to go in upward and outward motions to ensure that it is able to penetrate the skin and keep it looking smooth. 

Hydrate your eyelashes 

Eyelashes can be a great feature of your face if you maintain them - and there are some simple ways to make them look both thicker and longer. One way to do this is to use argan oil and apply this to your eyelashes after a shower - and take the time to massage the oil into your eyelashes and the follicles of your eyelids and it will promote hair growth and help them stay both longer and thicker. 

Cleanse with a face mask 

If you want to help your skin look and feel more youthful every day it is important for you to cleanse it with a face mask once a week. A face mask is a deep cleanser that will draw out all of the dirt and grime under your skin, leaving it feeling tight and clean. If you apply a clay or charcoal mask once a week you will soon notice a glow to your skin and it will feel much younger and healthier. 

Rid your skin of acne 

Acne is something no one ever wants as an adult - and it’s easy to see why. Acne can be uncomfortable as well as unsightly and it’s never nice to have it when you are an adult trying to make your way in the world. To get rid of and prevent acne - you can cut a lemon in half and squeeze some honey onto it before rubbing this in circular motions around your face. Leave it for 20 minutes and then rinse it off. Lemon will help to dry out the acne, and honey has antibacterial properties that will kill the infection. This simple natural remedy will leave your skin feeling youthful and glowing. 

Moisturise with oil 

If you are looking for a simple way to make your skin look more youthful and plump this year, consider moisturising your skin with oil. Vitamin E oil is a great choice and this is highly hydrating for the skin and will provide the essential nutrients your skin needs to keep it plump. You can use vitamin e oil all over your body after a shower and it will soak right into the skin. 

Keep your hair silky and soft 

Your hair is a huge feature and if you want to look youthful and happy during the spring, your hair could do with some TLC. A simple way to get your hair looking silky and soft during the spring is to apply a conditioner and leave it in your hair for an hour before rinsing it out and washing. If you do this once a week or so you can keep your hair soft and supple for years to come.

12 March 2021

Is It Time To Abolish Hate Crime Law?

*This piece was written before the advertised tabling of The House of Lords debating an amendment to hate crime law, adding misogyny.  Comments added at the end of the post in this regard.

Apologies for the sheer length of this post, but it turns out, I had a lot to say.

Image Credit

Firstly, lets deal with the facts.  What is classed as a hate crime and what is a hate incident?  

According to the Met Police, a hate crime is:

'Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person's race or perceived race; religion or perceived religion; sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; disability or perceived disability and any crime motivated by hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender.'

According to the Gov.uk website, the number of hate crimes since 2011 were reported as below:

2011 -2012                43748 
2013 - 2014              44480
2015 - 2016              52528
2016 - 2017              94098
2017 - 2018             103,379
2019 - 2020             105,090

As can be seen from the figures, following the Government's introduction of "Action Against Hate" in July 2016, the hate crime figures have doubled.

A hate incident is: 

'Any incident which the victim, or anyone else, thinks is based on someone’s prejudice towards them because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or because they are transgender.'

Evidence of the hate element is not a requirement. You do not need to personally perceive the incident to be hate related. It would be enough if another person, a witness or even a police officer thought that the incident was hate related.

Non-crime hate incident reports were introduced in 2014 after recommendations were made by the independent Macpherson inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

The College of Policing’s definition of a hate incident is “any non-crime incident which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice” towards a person because of their characteristics.

Police guidelines have also been updated so that they apply to schoolchildren and state that hate incidents can include “ill-will, spite, contempt, prejudice, unfriendliness, antagonism, resentment and dislike”.

School children, can be prosecuted, for a hate incident.   A simple falling out in a playground can now lead to prosecution. 

In the past five years, 120,000 non crime hate incidents have been recorded by the police.  Yes, that is a non crime hate incident.  

As we know from the case of Harry Miller, a hate incident can be reported to the police and investigated for as little as someone being merely told about a retweet, not even related to or about them, but that might cause them offence.

What we also know is that the person reporting the hate incident is automatically called "the victim" in the report, and following a consultation by the CPS started in 2016, worryingly, in order to treat a crime as a hate crime for the purposes of investigation, there is no need for evidence to prove the aggravating element.

These non crime hate incidents can be recorded against you, without you ever been informed of the fact.  Barrister Sarah Phillimore recently discovered, after a Twitter user boasted that the police had a record for life for hate crime against her, that the police held twelve pages of tweets that had been recorded by the police as non crime hate incidents.  These records stay on your DBS checks for six years.

As an experiment, she posted a tweet joking that her cat was a Methodist and asked a friend to report her for a hate incident.  After all, what is one more report when you have twelve pages of "incidents" against you?

When reporting the tweet, her friend was asked why he thought her tweet was hateful, to which he replied that she meant to imply that Methodists were "wandering pests were that defecate in people's gardens".  South Yorkshire Police dutifully recorded the incident.

In the title of this post I asked whether it was time to abolish hate crime law?  The answer, for me, has to be yes.

Whilst inciting violence against other or a protected group is wholly wrong and should be dealt with as a crime, the definitions of a hate crime have been stretched and broadened to the extent that anyone saying the most innocent thing, or, a biological fact; can be investigated.

Think of Paul Lancaster for his airport tweet.  Think of Mark Meechan aka Count Dankula for recording his pug doing a "Nazi salute".   Think of Harry Miller.  Think of 120,000 people who have non crime hate incidents recorded against them, for no crime committed.

You might disagree with what these people have said or done.  But free speech cannot exist only when you agree with it.

I read many things on the internet every single day.  I see abuse, harassment and threats made against people like me for example who believe that biology is a fact and that sex should remain a protected class.  Unlike with Scotland's newly amended hate crime law which omits to include sex as a protected characteristic.

I have removed the identity of the poster in the image below, but all details are documents in the link above.

Can you imagine if that tweet had been made about one of the protected characteristics just as religion, sexual orientation, race or transgender identity?  The police would be at your door.

Hate crime law needs to be abolished because it is no longer fit for purpose and is being actively used as a weapon against people. 

Hurt feelings should not be a crime.  A disliked comment should not be a crime.  Someone being rude or who offends you might be a cruel person, but cruelty is not a crime.  Someone stating biological fact is not a crime.  A childish insult in a playground should not be a crime.

All that current hate crime/hate incident law is creating is a generation that cannot cope with life.  A world where words are actual violence.  A world where a slight against you becomes a crime.

How far can this go?  Well look at this article from July 2020 (see image at top of post).  A hate crime investigated, because of a car tyre track on a road.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to live in that world.  And neither should you.

**ADDED to cover The House of Lords proposed debate to add misogyny to hate crime

From what I understand from the proposals, the policy will not criminalise anything that was previously legal i.e. a sexual assault against a woman is still a sexual assault, but would additionally be recorded as a hate crime.  

My comments as above still stand in that anyone advocating violence against other should be a crime.  Adding a hate crime factor to something that is already illegal I do not have any issues with.  But, in all honesty, I do not think that it will help women.  At all.

Adding a hate crime element to an already existing crime does not help women.  It will not make those men who would wish to commit a crime against a woman think against because he may also have a hate crime against his name.

Reporting will still be split into hate crimes and hate incidents.  An article which reported on a study done on a trialling of misogyny becoming a hate crime in Nottinghamshire noted that 174 reports were made by women between April 2016 and March 2018.  73 were classified as a crime and 101 as a hate incident.  

The report noted after concerns about the policy being trivialised in the media, that things wolf whistling would not be a hate crime.  As this is not illegal.  It could however be recorded as a hate incident.

Here is where I will probably receive, ironically, hate from some circles.  

Wolf whistling is not a hate incident.  A builder catcalling you from a scaffold is not a hate incident.  It is, as a woman I know, irritating at best and can be intimidating.  But I do not think that the answer to this is recording these incidents as a hate incident.

I do not know the answer for improving women's safety.  But I do not think that "hate incidents" being recorded will help.  Recording a non crime hate incident on someone's record, on their DBS check, will not help.

I think that it will increase misogyny.  I think it will put a greater divide between men and women.  And that is the last thing we want.