Britain is missing out on one of the joys of winter

Carefree moments are rare things – especially in the middle of winter. That’s why I don’t get why more Brits aren’t keen to embrace the cold, and enjoy the past-times winter can offer.

A CRISP, winter morning has a special quality to it. There is something wonderful about walking outside to see grass covered in frost and your breath in the air.

These kind of moments are pretty rare in the UK, with winter characterised more by rain than by chilly weather.

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An immigration policy that is both condescending and unfair

In today’s dire economy, immigration is increasingly seen as a cause of social problems. But not only do the ideas put forward by the government not address the problems, they’re also an insult to hard-working, low-income earners (who happen to be born elsewhere) who are putting tax revenue into government coffers. 

I couldn’t help but baulk at today’s announcement by Immigration Minister Damian Green.

The minister wants all non-EU immigrants to be commanding salaries of £31,000 and above. If you aren’t “adding to quality of life in Britain” in this way he said, the UK doesn’t want you living and working within its borders.

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I’ll admit it, I do feel “freakish” and “hideous” sometimes

There are plenty of reasons to ignore fashion and beauty advice. Here’s another one. My experience shows that even if women are the “freakish ideal” size, they won’t be satisfied with how they look. It’s human nature.

I’M about to write something that could make me extremely unpopular.

It’s a response to the various blogs and articles I’ve read this month on the subject of body image.

Many of these articles, and I’m particularly thinking of Mary Anne Sieghart’s January 9 story, What women see in the mirror is self-loathing, are in response to the ridiculous pressure put on women to lose weight in January after the excesses of the Christmas period.

Ms Sieghart has hit the nail on the head with a lot of her points, but I think she has missed a crucial one.

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If you don’t mind, darling, we’ll keep on improving the English language

Language in Britain is evolving and Americans are being blamed for what many consider to be abuses of the English language. But I have created a list of words and phrases that suggests Brits don’t always know best when it comes to their native tongue.

I have met many people during my career who have complained about “Americanisms” in the English language.

As a Canadian living in the UK, I am often corrected by my British peers when I use certain phrases. There are language choices that seem to annoy Brits, particularly writers. One lives “in” a road, not “on” it, I’m told, and one does something “at” the weekend not “on” the weekend.

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Plastic may be fantastic but only a real Christmas tree will cut it

Christmas is coming — and it’s time for the annual tree panic. If an  artificial tree just won’t cut it, then you might want to join the growing numbers  “choosing and cutting” their own Christmas tree. I visited a farm  to get the whole festive experience. South Wales Evening Post, Wednesday, December 7, 2011. 

I HAVE really fond memories of my childhood trips to get our Christmas tree.

My dad would take my sister, my brother and I out in our estate car, armed with an axe and some twine, and we’d travel up a snow-covered country road to find somewhere where an evergreen would be growing. The outing usually culminated — after a big argument over which tree to choose — with my dad strapping a less-than-perfect-but-still-beautiful tree to the top of the car, and packing us all home where mum would serve hot chocolate.

​If this sounds unlikely to you — a bit too Hallmark-card perfect — it might not surprise you to find out that I grew up in Canada.

Not just Canada, but northern British Columbia, where trees outnumber people by about 82 million to one, give or take, and there’s always a white Christmas. It has meant that, for me, the fake Christmas trees you buy in the supermarket just won’t cut it.

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Local journalism – the weird and wacky stories that, unbelievably, make the cut

From swimming guinea pigs to custard shortages, Britain’s newspapers have everything covered.

After spotting the excellently titled “Whitstable Mum In Custard Shortage: …And Other World Exclusives From Britain’s Finest Local Newspapers” in Sainsbury’s – I had a thumb through it.

It’s a collection of absurd stories from around Britain and it’s very funny and very familiar, if you’re interested in local journalism. (The story that the title is derived from is a good read, especially the comments section).

Now, I have a soft spot for Aberystwyth, having done an exchange year at the university there.

Not only does the book contain Aberystwyth’s Cambrian News headline “I didn’t know guinea pigs could swim!” but it also contains a story from the newspaper I used to work for, the Surrey Advertiser. I don’t have a copy of the story, but it ran under the headline “Mystery after hanging basket stolen – then returned”.

Researching the book online led me to another brilliant discovery.

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