Monday, 31 March 2014

Pinch punch, last day of the month...?!

Welcome to the last day of March! April sounds so much more spring like, I'm beginning to get excited for summer...because April means spring, and spring means it's nearly summer, you see the logic?!

Regardless, it should hopefully be a sunny month coming up, I know we often get a bit of a cold and snowy spell in this month, but also we can get heatwaves, that's what we're hoping for this year, it's been far too long and cold a winter to keep it going into April! The blossom has been out a while now, and as long as the frost stays away we can expect to be seeing more flowers and blossom...and all things summery around outside.

Time to did into the Phonebox magazine and follow our latest walk (have a look at the online copy here) and enjoy some real spring-time scenery!

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Happy Mothers day!

We at the Phonebox would like to wish all Mothers out there a very happy Mothers Day! Whatever you may be doing today, we hope that you feel valued and appreciated for all that you do every day!

Mothers day is celebrated across the world on different days, and is all about showing respect and acknowledging the hard work mothers do each day, and remembering those mothers who are no longer with us.

Mothers day is an opportunity which it would be nice to continue throughout the year, of showing appreciation to those who care for and gave birth to us, or for those who have played mother-like roles in our lives.

Mothering Sunday in the Christian church was originally (as early as the 16th century) where people returned to their mother church for a service on the fourth Sunday of Lent. As children would also be returning to their 'mother church' with their parents, they would often pick flowers for their mothers. Eventually, the tradition evolved into the modern, secular Mothering Sunday where children traditionally give cards and gifts to their mothers.

Whatever you do today, have a great Sunday!

Saturday, 29 March 2014

What's on in MK?

There are a couple of events we can tell you about on today in the Milton Keynes area...

There's the open day at the Newport Pagnell tennis club, Willen Sports ground, from 10am-12pm. It's the opportunity for anyone to come and have a go for free as the start of the season kicks off, and also the day for adult registration.

In the evening in Sharnbrook, is the Ouse Valley Singers, hosted by the Sharnbrook Bowls Club at the Sharnbrook Village Hall. Set to be a great night, tickets are £5 and are available from Sharnbrook Post Office.

In the centre:MK, the kids club is all set for Mothers day, with the option of having their photographs taken for their Mothers day cards and then being able to decorate them with their own special touches.

The Newport Pagnell Lions Club are hosting a Spring Artisian food festival, held in the United Reformed Church between 10am and 4pm. Free entry fro all, so check out some yummy food!

This is just a selection of what's going on around MK today, make the most of and enjoy a (hopefully sunny) weekend whatever you do!

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

SuBo comes to MK!

It's been a sell-out tour, but if you were a fan of Susan Boyle when she first appeared on Britain's got Talent, you may already be planning on going to see her UK tour.

She will be singing at the MK theatre tomorrow (Thursday 27th March), performing a variety of tracks, including those songs she is most well known for: 'I dreamed a dream' and 'wild horses', as well as some other classics not seen by Susan before. If you've missed out on this one, she'll be performing in Northampton on the 17th April, you might still have a chance of getting some tickets if you're quick!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

International waffle day

Happy international waffle day! Waffles are a great invention, most commonly eaten as desserts here in the UK, but also popular for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks... you name it, the waffle is a pretty versatile food!

Waffle day began in Sweden. The day historically (apparently) marks the beginning of spring and is celebrated by eating (lots of) waffles. I'm not entirely sure how these two are linked, but like many of these national, or international, days, the reasoning often seems irrelevant- it's just an excuse to eat waffles isn't it!

So why not make or buy some waffles this evening, try them savoury for dinner or do what I'll be doing as a dessert with some maple syrup and maybe a bit of banana... my stomach's rumbling, time to get home I think! Enjoy!

Bletchley artwork unveiling

Artist David Appleyard is well-known for producing artwork to be displayed in the public realm. Tomorrow, a piece of his work is being unveiled by the mayor of Milton Keynes, Brian White, at the roundabout at the entrance of Bletchley station. The piece of art is titled: "NURP 40 TW 194" and takes it's name from a carrier pigeon found in the area during WW2, believed to be on it's way to Bletchley Park... a title which appears to fit well with the code-breaking themes surrounding Bletchley Park!

The artwork takes the form of a hut, which is in reference to Bletchley Park. It has been commissioned by Milton Keynes and West Bletchley councils, and was initiated in 2012 following extensive community research into the West Bletchley area.

Head to the roundabout outside Bletchley station, tomorrow (26th March) at 2pm, to see the unveiling.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

World Water Day

World Water Day has been a National day since 1993, when it was initiated by the UN. The day is set apart to focus on water issues across the world. This year, the key aims are to raise awareness of the links between energy and water through a variety of ways. The day focusses on water, sanitation and improving water and electricity efficiencies, to name a few. The focus on energy and water has been especially outlined by the findings from the World Water Development Report, which found that it is often the same people who lack access to improved water sources and sanitation who also lack access to electricity.

Events will be happening all over the world today, all with the aim of coming together to think about and work on ways of improving peoples' health and lifestyle through their ability to get clean and safe water. Around 780 million people lack access to clean water, that's one in nine of the whole population, and more than 3.4 million die each year from issues linked to water, sanitation and hygiene. This proves the need for action, and this is what World Water Day aims to do, in raising awareness and coming up with action plans to help people have access to the most basic of human needs.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Sport Relief

It's that time of year again, and today marks the official start of Sport Relief! Although you've probably seen merchandise in the shops and adverts on the TV and radio for the last month or so, today actually kicks off the Sport Relief weekend.

Events are taking place across the country, with the Sainsbury's Sport Relief games; the swimathon, the mile and the cycle, which are taking place in a number of locations, allowing for everyone who wants to get involved to do so. Sponsorship raised through these events goes towards the work Sport Relief are doing, which helps people both at home in the UK and abroad, helping create safer lives, stronger communities, healthier finances, better futures and a fairer society. In the UK, Sport Relief provide young people with shelter and protection for those living on the streets and suffering domestic abuse, and further afield providing communities with clean water and life-saving vaccinations.

As well as the big three Sainsbury's games, there will be numerous other events and activities taking place across the country today and over the weekend. Today will be a big one for schools and workplaces I reckon, with various sponsored events taking place all in aid of Sport Relief. There's a song that's been written with the idea of getting it sung in school assemblies, some schools will be holding Sport themed events which the children have been fundraising for, as well as fundraising sales, mufti days and more!

How do you feel about the event? It's clearly a great way of raising money and helping loads of great causes, but is it a bit too hyped up or do you think that's just the necessary way of getting the message across to thousands of people at the same time? We'd love to hear your thoughts on Sport Relief, let us know if you're doing anything for the weekend in order to raise money. Or maybe you're the less sporty type and are planning on watching the night of Sport Relief TV tonight (7pm)… I know which I'll be doing!


Thursday, 20 March 2014

National Proposal Day

This may well be one of the weirdest of the national days we've come across so far!

Proposal day is apparently an opportunity for those people a bit shy about asking their partner to marry them to be able to do it at the same time as others…in a big group of people. I can't imagine that would actually be beneficial to those lacking confidence, for starters, what if they reject the proposal?! A rejection amongst a big group must be much more embarrassing than one on one! Apparently people use social networks to arrange a date to meet up and all propose together… I find it hard to imagine that it would be particularly romantic, but then again everyone is different, maybe that would be just somebody's cup of tea! If you are out there proposing today, good luck, I'm not sure it's a very well known event but you never know! Look out for a group of people proposing to each other near you I suppose; let us know if you see any large-scale proposals happening!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Money money money

Quite a talking point in the news over the last week or so has been the figures put forward by Oxfam regarding the shockingly brutal differences between the rich and poor divide in the UK. Oxfam found that Britian's five richest families are worth more than the poorest 20%, and even more stark is the fact that just one family are richer than the bottom 10%. I find it quite shocking when looked at like this, and considering that the richest family in the UK own £7.9billion, it's hard to almost comprehend what that money could do! I very much respect working hard for a living, and these people clearly have done to get to such a place, but the worrying part is that bottom 20%. That's approximately 12.64 million people all living on the same amount as just those richest five families.

It's hard when you hear about something like this, with no idea or physical way of changing things or making things 'fairer', but I suppose it's just being aware of what's going on in our own country. Sometimes we can see poverty as something faced by those in third world countries, when actually it's right here on our doorsteps, so being aware of that and doing what we can in the smallest of ways is probably the best way to respond to facts like these, donating to a local food bank, for example, is just one way to help in a small but effective way.


Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Saint Patrick's day

So yesterday was Saint Patrick's day- did you celebrate it?! I always find it a bit bizarre how the day has become such a big thing in the UK, understandably it will be so for the Irish, as Saint Patrick's day is their cultural and religious holiday, but why do so many others seem to celebrate it? Do we really know what the day is about or just want an excuse to drink Guinness?! I'm not too sure but am leaning toward the latter so decided to refresh my memory on what it really is about...

The 17th March is the death date of the the most commonly recognised patron saint of Ireland; Saint Patrick. Back in the 17th century, Saint Patrick's day started as a Christian feast day, celebrating the introduction of Christianity to Ireland, as well as Irish culture and heritage in general. The tradition of drinking alcohol to celebrate began with lifting the lenten ban on alcohol for the day, and with Guinness being the Irish drink of choice it has become something of a tradition. Another tradition for the day is wearing shamrocks and green clothing/accessories.

What did you get up to yesterday? Are you nursing a sore head from consuming one too many drinks in celebrating the day? Did you attend one of the many Saint Patrick's day events or parades?- There were a few here around Milton Keynes, clearly you don't have to be Irish to enjoy the holiday! Whether you celebrated or not, we hope you had a good one!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

"No smoking day" - "V for Victory"

No smoking day, run by the British Heart Foundation, is what it says on the tin. An opportunity for all smokers out there wanting to quit to try and go the day without smoking along with plenty of others around the country. Those taking part are also encouraged to raise money for the British Heart Foundation to help with their life-saving research, which could maybe be what you need to get you that little bit more motivated if you are looking to quit- knowing people are sponsoring you to do so I would imagine piles on a bit of (motivational) pressure! The health benefits from quitting smoking start to kick in just 24 hours after your last cigarette, which is pretty good inspiration if you're the type that thinks 'maybe tomorrow'- by tomorrow the effects could be already taking place!

There's a website dedicated to the day where you can find out some facts about smoking, reasons to quit and tips on how to stop. As well as hints and tips, the we site also includes a number of "victory stories". No smoking day this year has been given the theme "V for Victory", with the aim to inspire thousands of individuals to quit smoking for good, being more aware of the health, financial and personal victories overcome through quitting smoking.

Of course you can quite smoking on any day, but knowing that thousands of others are in the same boat as you is a pretty good motivation… For those of you working or living with quitting smokers on this day, maybe give them a bit of a wide berth, as well as support and encouragement, of course! If you're one of those quitting- good luck! You can do it!!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

World Plumbing Day

Whether 'world plumbing day' means we all call the plumbers out or do a bit of DIY, I wasn't too sure.

Having done a bit of research, however, it seems that the day is in fact an international event, initiated by the world plumbing council every year, in order to recognise the important role plumbing plays in societal health and amenity. Countries around the world spend the day drawing attention to the importance of good plumbing and sanitation, and how that links to human and environmental health. So it seems to be a bit more of a bigger picture than giving your local plumber a high five for all their work, and instead thinking about how you can raise awareness of the need for good sanitation around the world, even if that is simply being thankful you live in a country where that is largely the case! It's a good opportunity to think if there is anything you can do to help, maybe a bit of fundraising, or just raising awareness by telling others about the need for good plumbing and sanitation and the ways this can be done. Have a look at the official world plumbing day website here for more information and for some ideas of activities you can do to celebrate the day.

How did we get here?

It's not often that we back-track our trains of thought out loud to work out where our conversations started, but this is something I found myself doing last night in a local Newport pub having a post-work drink with a few friends. Stopping ourselves in fits of laughter as we had ended up talking about relationships, from the new film 'her' where a guy falls in love with a female Operating system (apparently, I haven't seen it!) to catfish, to pretending to be pregnant to get away with eating more food… we stopped to work out how we had arrived at these bizarre topics, and it turned out the conversation sparker had been me telling them about writing a feature on fracking for the Phonebox magazine. Fracking, probably one of the least interesting topics for a group of girls to be discussing in the pub, and yet we had found ourselves talking about one loosely related thing to another... Along the way also discussing how one would keep track of their kids while out shopping (introducing conversations about tracking devices, mobile apps and voice activated controls) as well as reminiscing over our childhoods- 'accidentally' stealing trikes, and all things Scottish. So what, you might say, but I'd challenge you to think back in those bizarre conversations you may have down the pub, because realising how you managed to get from one topic to another can actually be more funny than the conversation itself… or maybe we'd just had a few too many J20s…

The national day yesterday was the day of awesomeness: 'A day for celebrating all things awesome, and everything awesome that you, your friends, and everybody else does.' I think random pub conversations can fall into this category!


Wednesday, 5 March 2014

How are you recovering after your pancake feast last night?! We hope you managed to cook up a storm! Maybe you ate a few too many and now fancy something a little bit more healthy? Why not try making some soup from scratch to counteract any unhealthiness you consumed yesterday? The varieties of soup you can possibly make are simply limitless, from chickpea to chicken to thai pumpkin soup to the old classic tomato soup. Have a look over on the good food website for some healthy soup ideas, they're all pretty quick and easy, plus there'll be no need for feeling guilty about the pancakes yesterday- win win!
Being Ash Wednesday today, the start of Lent, if you're planning on giving up anything unhealthy etc. then making soup could have yet another positive for you! Or maybe you're on a delayed new years resolution… don't worry, there's still time- we're only just 3 months in!

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Byrne wins again!

Well hot off the press- she did it! Devon Byrne won the Olney pancake race for the third time running, and broke the record yet again by around a second!

Crowds flocked to see the race, lining the high street in the sunshine, many bustling for a good place to get some photographs from! There was a great sense of community as many came out to watch the race, as well as the children's races which took place in the morning and also received a great support.

There were pancakes left right and centre, with both those being used in the race and also ones being made and sold in the square and by celebrity chef Lesley Waters. Spectators watched and then followed the runners as they crossed the finish line, gathering by St. Paul's church to hear the winners announced before everyone piled into the church for the annual Shriving Service.

The sun was shining for the duration of the race, and it was a great day for it! Watch this space for more photos coming soon!

Happy Pancake Day!

It's that time of year again- the day where it's OK eat as many pancakes as we can manage! Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, initially came about as a way of using up all of the sweet and fatty foods before people had to give them up for Lent. Today, while some people do still give up foods for Lent, pancake day has become more of a tradition than anything else, and you can as ever expect to find your corner shop lacking in pancake mix on this day of the year!

Here in Olney, pancake day is that little bit more special, with the world-famous pancake race taking place on the high street. This is said to be the first ever pancake race, and has been going since 1445, when an Olney lady apparently heard the bells ringing for church while she was in the middle of making pancakes. She rushed out of the house with her frying pan and wearing her apron, ran down the street to the church. Thus began the tradition which has been continued to this day, with the pancake race, where contestants must wear and apron and scarf, and carry a frying pan and pancake. They have to toss their pancake at the start, once while running and at the end of the race, and run 415 yards to the finish line.

This year the question is whether the winner of the last two races, Devon Byrne, will win for a third time in a row. If so, she would be making a record for the first person to win three times in a row, as well as being the daughter of a three-time winner. Last year, she set a race record of 56 seconds, which also beat the then world record, held by the ladies of Liberal, Kansas in the transatlantic rivalry which takes place each year. This year all eyes will be on the racers to see if anyone can beat the time!

Get yourself down to Olney to see their most famous event of the year, and get into the spirit of pancake day! The race starts at 11.45am, and children's races begin at 10.30am.
Have a fun pancake day- try not to get them stuck to the ceiling while you're tossing them!


Saturday, 1 March 2014

World Compliment day

This is a nice one!  World compliment day seems to be pretty much just the reminder to be nice and share the love a bit! Imagine if everyone shared a compliment today, a genuine one that isn't just any old comment for the sake of it, people would undoubtedly be so much happier.

Strangers passing each other could say something nice for a change, or even just smile, when on any other day they might feel like they can't… which is kind of sad if that is the case. It's all too true that if someone were to randomly come up to you in the street and compliment your hair you may be a little weirded out, probably depending on the person, place etc., but still, we wouldn't find it normal would we? It just doesn't happen often enough. So here's your challenge- give a stranger a compliment today! You don't have to be weird about it, just act like it's the most normal thing in the world, and then maybe it will become so… what harm could it do?! You could even be really subtle about it, like try leaving a post-it note with a compliment on it on someone's desk, or tweet something positive to your followers, let's get involved!