Thoughts from January 2016

eating in season - an innocent guide

We don’t just love fruit and veg professionally. We've got a few keen gardeners in Fruit Towers (Gareth even has an allotment) so we've put together a quick guide to what’s currently in season so, if you’re also thinking of growing your own, you’ll know the best place to start. 

It's good for you, it's good for the planet, it's more natural and, what's more, it's cheaper. Besides all that, it doesn't feel right eating strawberries when it's cold out. This is how it starts. One day you’re having strawberries when it’s below freezing, the next you’re celebrating Christmas in the sun and getting far too hot in your Father Christmas jumper. It’s not worth the trouble. Wait until summer for strawberries, it’s the only thing keeping your annual timeline intact. 

penguin awareness day - what is a penguin?

As it’s #PenguinAwarenessDay over on Twitter, we thought we’d take the time to write a quick guide to help you become more aware of penguins.

This is a penguin. It is black and white. It has a beak and some flippers. It’s bird-like but, at the same time, not bird-like at all. To recap, this is a penguin.

Is this a penguin? It’s black and white, yes, but where are the bird-like features? This is a panda. Not a penguin. An angry penguin can most likely be appeased by a healthy piece of fish, not so much a panda. Don’t get the two confused.

Yes, this is a penguin. Well-spotted. Ten points to Gryffindor.

But is this a penguin? Once again, it’s black and white but remember what we learned from the panda. That’s right, not everything black and white is a penguin. This is a zebra. You can tell the difference between the two because this isn’t a penguin. It is a zebra.

What’s that, you say? This is definitely a zebra? Close. This is a zebra crossing. That’s right, we tricked you. Sorry about that. We hope you can forgive us.

Wait, don’t answer yet. The numerous black and white lines might lead you to think this is a zebra crossing but stop, look again. That’s right, it’s a group of penguins. Excellent work. 10/10.

We hope this has helped you become more aware of penguins on Penguin Awareness Day. Thank you.

good news in the world alert

It’s cold, it’s dark and everyone’s in a mood because it’s January. It’s not all bad though. We bring you good news from our friends in the Netherlands.

Staff at Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn are being trained to recognise signs of loneliness or self-neglect amongst their older customers and, with the help of specialist volunteers, offer them the support they might need.

Shop staff are uniquely placed to spot decline in the well-being of their customers, especially amongst the elderly, who may not have anyone around to check up on them.

The initiative started when an Albert Heijn worker noticed something unusual with one of her regulars. They’d lost weight, were buying less fresh food, and one day had to be taken home in an ambulance. Instead of doing nothing, she contacted the charity Royal Zorg who helped set up the campaign.

It can be all too easy to overlook the needs of those you don’t know, but this initiative just goes to show that armed only with a good idea, and a willingness to make things happen, it’s possible to do a bit of good for your fellow humans.

The story of Thomas and Thirzah

A few weeks ago we sent out socks and Christmas cards to a few thousand of you out there in the real world. We didn’t have a reason beyond it being Christmas. It just felt like a nice thing to do. Loads of people then contacted us over Twitter and Facebook to say thank you. It was lovely. We were feeling all warm inside. Until Thirzah, that is.

Our Christmas was ruined. How could we have got it so wrong? ‘Thirzah’ isn’t even remotely similar to ‘Thomas’. All our hard work was for nothing. Yes, Thirzah seemed to take it well, but we knew that deep down she was disappointed with us.

And what about Thomas? Was he out there somewhere having an unexpected identity crisis? Would he wake up a few days before Christmas only to have his own sense of self shattered by an admin error? We spent the rest of the day worrying about Thomas, hoping that he was okay. Then, the next morning, he got in touch.

Thomas’s identity remained intact. We breathed a sigh of relief and introduced the two of them over Twitter. What started as a mistake we’ll never forgive ourselves for has become a beautiful meeting between strangers.

The next step here is obvious. Thomas and Thirzah will probably fall in love and we’d by lying if we said we’re not going to do everything in our power to make it happen. It’ll be one of the PR stories of the year. We’ll send flowers to Thirzah and accidentally sign ‘Thomas’ instead of ‘innocent’. We’ll arrange a big night out, invite them both under the pretence that loads of people will be there, and then leave them alone for the night in a fancy restaurant. Yes, there are ethical questions about toying with people’s emotions but we’ve seen romantic comedy films, we know how this works. It can’t fail. We can do this.