I spent all of this morning proof reading our magazine The Reporter which will be dropping through every door in the area pretty soon. It’s a really good read – we use it to tell people how we are spending the budget and if we’re hitting our performance targets but we do it with features about real things with real people. In this edition there are features about massive regeneration programmes with photos and comments from the people who live and work there, a feature on an entirely new primary school which is half-built, has just been named and has just had its head teacher appointed. There’s a feature about investment in community and leisure facilities and the joint working we do with the NHS with stories from the people we’ve helped back to health after heart attacks and other ailments. There’s a report on one of our schools which was the first and only school in Scotland to gain excellent marks in the new HMe inspections with some fabulous quotes from the pupils and really happy photographs taken in the science lab and the home economics kitchen.
I’m not sure that people will read the magazine as closely as I did but I certainly hope they’ll read some of it. There really is some fantastic work going on in South Lanarkshire and my favourite story was the innovative approach our roads department has taken with one of our country roads. It’s constantly needing repaired thanks to a combination of heavy lorries using it and the road being built on top of peat. They’ve dug out the peat and replaced it with wire cages of old car tyres then built the road on top. They’ll be keeping a close eye on how it fares and hopefully the method will be rolled out to other suitable road investment projects.
The afternoon was spent in a contingency planning meeting. There’s nothing like worst case scenarios to bring you up short. I do like emergency exercises though and I’m particularly looking forward to one later in the year when we’ll be testing the emergency plan for a whisky maturation plant we have on our patch. This place is huge and when I originally saw the warehouses going up I assumed they were something to do with the open cast mine in the area. One day on the way to my mum’s I was just about knocked out with a sweet alcohol smell but I thought the car in front had just put in too much screen wash. On the way back though I smelled it again and a few days later I realised what it was when I read our local risk register. Unfortunately the exercise won’t be done at the plant and there won’t be any site visits but it will be interesting.
We’ll also be doing a table-op exercise around the issues of flooding. This is another thing that interests me, having spent time listening to some families from Hull whose houses were flooded a few years ago. When you see flooding on the TV you probably think it’s just a bit of water and once it dries out it’ll all be fine. Nope! Chances are there will be sewage in the water and everything – carpets, furniture, clothes, personal belongings – will have to be taken away and disposed of. One of the men from Hull said that nothing in his house pre-dates the flood. He lost lots of family photos and when he looks around his living room now it’s like being in a hotel – impersonal. What always goes through my head when listening to people who have gone through emergency situations and even when I’m just on an exercise is that us Category 1 responders must remember it’s real people and real lives we’re dealing with, not statistics, customers, clients or numbers.
On other news I bought MiniMe a capo for her guitar – all we need now is a proper padded case and she’ll be a fully fledged rock chick
MiniHim finally got his MMR, today aged 5. MiniMe had single jabs at great expense, not because I was convinced there was anything wrong with the MMR jab but because had she developed Crohn’s or autism I’d have blamed the jab and myself. We always meant to get the single jabs for MiniHim but time has run away with itself and he’s obviously not got Crohn’s or autism so we thought it was time to bite the bullet. HimIndoors took him to the clinic and apparently he didn’t even flinch so he’s obviously made of sterner stuff than MiniMe who was a bit hysterical after all of her jabs.
Last night I moved on from ants to bunnies on my complexity course. We’re looking at population models on NetLogo and there’s a bit of algebra involved, although it was basic enough for MiniMe to have a stab at one of the questions and get it right. Maybe we do have a scientist in the house, and I don’t mean me
Today I have learned;
- council magazines don’t have to be boring
- there’s nothing like an emergency meeting to bring reality home
- MiniHim feels no pain
300g caster sugar
250g butter, softened
250g good milk chocolate
3 eggs and 1 egg yolk
60g cocoa powder
half a tsp baking powder
Line a baking tin about 23cm square with baking paper and heat the over to 180C/Gas 4.
Put the sugar and butter in a bowl and beat till white and fluffy. Keep 50g of chocolate aside and break the rest into a bowl. Sit the bowl over a pan of simmering water (not touching the water) and melt the chocolate. Remove from the heat. Chop the other 50g into small pieces.
Break the eggs into a bowl and beat lightly with a fork. In another bowl sift together the flour, cocoa and baking powder with a pinch of salt. Add the egg to the butter mixture then mix in the melted chocolate and the chopped chocolate. Fold in the flour mixture gently but firmly.
Tip the mixture into the tin and bake for 30-40 minutes. It will rise and will be softer in the middle than the edges. A skewer put into the middle should come out clean. If it doesn’t put it back into the oven and test every five minutes. It should be crispy round the edges and gooey in the middle. Serve cold on its own or 15 second in the micro will heat it up and serve it with cream or custard.