The Luxuries in Life.

The costly expense of childcare and how many families are suffering as a result, hit our screens as breaking news last week. I did not need a study and some arbitrary statistic to tell me sending DS to nursery is expensive, I just have to review my finances.

This is hardly breaking news; I could have told you last week, last month and I can tell you today, that families are feeling the crunch. There were once a time when being a housewife and a kept woman was seen as a privilege. You did not need to work because your husband could support the family on a single income, so you would spend your days shopping, baking cakes and reading classic stories to the children. You would consider yourself as lucky to be in such a position and dismiss the world accordingly for an afternoon episode of Loose Women.

Nowadays, being a housewife is probably cheaper on the whole for families. It is ludicrous to think the expense of working makes getting a job not worthwhile; surely having a duel income should better your family financially, rather than be a hinderance? Childcare has become a luxury and exclusive to those families who can pay.

The Guardian states, ‘for four out of 10 families the cost of childcare is on a par with mortgage or rent payments’; on par is probably your limits, because you would not pay more for childcare than the cost of your home. But the reality is, if DS was to attend nursery full-time five days a week, it would set us back £835 a month. The average cost of a two bedroom property in Gravesend is somewhere between £650 – £800 a month, do the math. Fortunately DS only goes to nursery three days a week, but the cost is still excessively high for not much return.

The cost of a commute (be it trains or topping up on petrol) has drastically risen over the past few years, coupled with the increase in rent/mortgage repayments, electricity, food, childcare, the list goes on. With stagnant salaries, low wages and pay freezes, how is the average family going to survive in the long-run, Mr Cameron?


They had it comin’

They only had themselves to blame
If you’d’ve been there
If you’d’ve seen it
I think that you would have done the same..

Okay, enough of the Chicago Soundtrack.

It is very easy for me to position myself with the students and to recognise their anger towards the Tories; after all, I was one not long ago. It seems to me that the students are fighting their own corner, dismissed by elders and unappreciated for what they will provide to our society in the future.


'The Guardian' - A student dressed in bank notes before the start of the protest march in London.

Those who opted out of university appear to have taken the higher ground and are disgusted with the violence from the minority of protesters. They chime ‘university isn’t the be all and end all’, ‘I worked my way up and now I manage graduates’, ‘what’s the point of non-qualifying degrees anyway’. The argument is not whether university is a necessity, whether a particular degree is worthy of honours, nor is it a comparison to progression through work. It is that the opportunity is being robbed from the poor; people who once wanted to take this route are having second thoughts. It should not be that only the middle-classes and the rich can aspire to be doctors, teachers, lawyers, everyone has the potential to be whoever they want to be. Yet no matter how hard one works, without a degree professional jobs are limited to the ones who can afford to take out a second mortgage.

If the future means students will only study professional degrees, thus leading to professional jobs and hopefully earning a higher income; what will happen to teachers, midwives and nurses? We all know these professions are poorly paid and overworked. The banker who is to blame for the economic crisis pockets all his hard-earned cash, whilst a midwife who is working night shifts trying to pay off her tuition fees and her mortgage is left penniless.

‘According to analysis by Institute for Fiscal Studies and the National Union of Students, the total cost of repayment for those earning £35,000-£40,000 per annum would be £37,800, assuming a 30-year repayment period. For those earning £100,000, the cost would be £31,849, based on a repayment period of only four years.’ (Target Courses)

Yes we want professionals who look after us, fight our court cases and whatnot. Yes we also want labourers who fix our pipes, heat our houses and sweep our streets. On top of that, we want social mobility and justice for those earning average annual salaries in a career they enjoy, which they probably acquired from their ‘mickey mouse’ degree.

By ‘we’ I am speaking in reference to society. We should be fuelled by aspiration, not greed.

Drowning sorrows.

'The Guardian', Sangi, Paksitan: A Pakistani flood survivor hangs onto a hovercraft and appeals for relief food distributed by naval officials.

The world seems to be falling apart with intermittent natural disasters. We can never fathom the suffering and loss North Korea, Pakistan, China etc have experienced in the previous month. It is reassuring to know that the UK have stepped up a notch and increased the aid sent to Pakistan, for those who are faced with one of the most catastrophic natural disasters known to modern-day.

Sell out.

Clegg launched a manifesto pledge at Barnardos to introduce a Pupil Premium which would raise the poorest childrens school funding to private school levels.

You would think that as time moved on, I would start to get over the deceit and bury the memories of being cheated for my vote. A hundred days later, Clegg still stands by his sham of a government, stating in The Observer; ‘we will govern for the long term and we’ll stick to our plan’. I almost find this quote comical; what is this plan you speak of? I am very sure I watched you live on television, listened to you on the radio and read articles reassuring our nation that you were eager to protect our schools and our public sector. Why is it now that we find ‘Building Schools for the Future’ scrapped, less university places are available and the inevitability of privatised universities? I wonder how many more times we will find Clegg negating his policies in favour for a bigger pay check.

I will be forever resentful that my first vote was not towards bettering our country, but to aid the rich in getting richer. Clegg, you sold out.

Grease lightning.

I was very interested to read an article that distinguishes the difference between real authentic Chinese cuisine, to the greasy variations we find in a typical Chinese take-away. It is tragic that many see Chinese take-aways as ‘the real thing’, and neglect to realise that this is not what we actually eat. The western take on Chinese foods is to submerge everything in oil and fry it.

I am a bit of a snob when it comes to Chinese food; I will not eat anything Chinese unless it has been cooked by my grandma or in a respectable restaurant. I only really go to restaurants for Dim Sum; the Chinese equivalent to Spanish tapas. It is a shame Dim Sum is widely unknown, I would like a restaurant that is closer than 55 miles away.

Dim Sum, har gow (prawn dumplings).

I strongly recommend finding your nearest Chinese restaurant and trying something new. It pains me to watch people actually enjoy their Chinese take-aways in delusion. The majority of Chinese foods are steamed, not deep-fried, and they taste incredibly better than anything you buy over a counter. My favourites are prawn cheug-fun and har gow (prawn dumplings); I like anything with king prawns (another qualm I have is the quality of king prawns in supermarkets, lets leave this one for another day).

My husband converted a long time ago and now favours my grandma’s cooking and Dim Sum; he boldly had a taster of chicken feet and tripe, much to his surprise, he liked it. He also grew an addiction to jasmine tea, which is another part of the Dim Sum tradition. Each table receives a teapot full of loose jasmine leaves and hot water to share. When the teapot is empty, it is custom to place the lid upside down as an indication to the waiters that they need to refill the pot.

I think it is healthy to experience other cultures, be willing to try different foods and appreciate something for what it is, not a replica of it. I mean, what the hell is lemon chicken anyway?