Perfect Pesto Gnocchi

This filler upper of a dish will leave you fuller longer and looks as good as it tastes. The best thing is it takes less than 10 minutes to prepare so it’s ideal for a quick after work fix.

You will need (based on 2 servings):
500g of Gnocchi
1 Garlic clove
4 tbsp Olive oil
2 tbsp Roughly chopped nuts (either the pine or cashew variety)
Half a handful of parsley (chopped)
Half a handful of chives (snipped)
Juice of a lemon
Salt & Pepper to season

Method:
1. First things first, put the kettle on.
2. As the kettle boils roughly chop your nuts and parsley add to a mixing bowl and snip in your chives while you’re at it.
3. Add some finely chopped garlic (I used 1 whole clove but I could probably have made vampires eyes smart from ten feet afterwards, if you don’t mind a bit of waste then half a clove is quite enough).
4. If the kettle is boiled add the boiling water to a pan, wait to reach boiling point again and add the Gnocchi.
5. Add the oil and as much grated Parmesan to your pesto mix as you like and do the same with the lemon juice.
6. Season with a dash of salt and pepper and mix well, if the pesto is a little thick then add a few drops of water.
7. After the Gnocchi has been on the go for 2 minutes take it off the hob and drain. Add the cooked Gnocchi to the pesto and serve. Yum!!

I would have added a photo with this article but it looked so good I had to eat it straight away.

PS – if you’re not a dab hand with a knife then consider using a mini whizzy chopper contraption. You can pick them up pretty cheaply and it will change your life!

Posted in Food & Drink

Only Men Aloud: On the Road

OMA

What a treat was in store for visitors of Monmouth’s Savoy theatre last Friday night (15th May) as Only Men Aloud visited town as part of their latest On the Road tour.

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Newport tattooing and piercing update

Around 400 clients who used a piercing and tattoo studio in Newport have attended appointments for precautionary health checks.

Concerns were raised after five people with serious skin infections were identified as having had a piercing carried out at the premises. The individuals were all treated as hospital in-patients.

The confirmed cases of skin infection could also indicate a low risk of transmission of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C and an extremely low risk of HIV transmission for all clients of these premises.

A simple blood test to check for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV has been offered to clients that were pierced or had a tattoo at either premise.

Letters were sent to 550 clients identified from records offering a precautionary blood test.

Molly Ormond is 17, and has received a letter “I went in and had a piercing last year then last week I had a letter asking me to come in for a blood test.

I was worried when I received the letter, obviously that’s natural when you think you may have one of these diseases. It is easy to panic but I just thought I needed to be sensible about it. It’s obviously for precaution so I rang and made my appointment and went in for my test. The test was really good, very quick and very easy, I felt very comfortable.

I would re-think about having piercings again because there is always a risk you could get an infection. For me personally it’s not worth everything that myself and everyone else are going through at the moment. It is so worrying.”

Director of Public Health at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, Dr Gill Richardson said “As people have been calling in to make appointments or calling our advice line, some of them have told us that they were admitted to hospital and we are now connecting these cases.

We now know that there are 9 people that had a skin infection, all of whom were admitted to in-patients, one of those was in fact hospitalised for three weeks.”

We have written to everyone whose records we have and anticipate there will be many more people who used these premises.

So far we’ve received around 345 general telephone enquiries. Of the 400 tested so far we know that about 60% of those received letters and 40% from those who we hadn’t yet identified. We’re really asking if people think they have been affected by this please come forward and call the helpline.

If people have missed their appointment or not made it to the clinic for any reason please recall the helpline no questions asked we will re-book you a new appointment” she said.

Heather Lewis, Consultant in Health Protection for Public Health Wales, said: “We are delighted with the response so far to our call for people to come forward for testing. This response is a credit to the hard work of professional NHS staff at clinics and on helplines. They are ready to help and to listen, and the blood test they are offering is quick and easy. It could really help to put minds at rest if people are worried.

“If you think you had a tattoo or a piercing at the shop in question, or if you have missed an appointment at one of our helpful clinics, please call 02920 402528 to speak to a member of our staff who can help you.”

Regulation

Councillor Bob Poole, Newport City Council’s cabinet member for licensing and statutory functions, said: “As a council, we support the call for tighter regulation of the tattooing and piercing industry.

“The powers local authorities have under the current legislation are extremely limited. For example, while applications to register both premises and practitioners have to be made to councils, they can only refuse a registration if they are aware a previous registration has been cancelled by order of the court.

“They are unable to carry out background checks, there is no statutory inspection regime and they do not have to power to close premises or stop someone trading completely – only a court can do that following a successful prosecution.

“While there can never be guarantees that such invasive procedures would be completely risk free; more stringent control measures along with age limits for piercing and compulsory training and qualification standards would give greater protection to the public.”

Dr Gill Richardson added “In the UK as a whole the laws around tattooing and piercing are inadequate. Ethical tattooists and piercers are actually calling for better regulations themselves, because they realise there is no protection for themselves or for their clients.

At the moment if you go to buy a sandwich you get a ‘score on the door’ for hygiene but there is nothing for tattooing and piercing premises. Someone could be working in a factory today, buy a kit online tonight and start tattooing and piercing by tomorrow morning, as there is no compulsory training or testing of ability or hygiene knowledge. There is simply not enough safeguards for the public surrounding these invasive procedures.”

Heather Lewis, Consultant in Health Protection for Public Health Wales, said: “This incident is a stark warning that there needs to be significant change to the law around tattooing and piercing in Wales, and across the UK. Many tattoo and piercing establishments currently observe good infection control procedures, but some do not. At present it is impossible for consumers to know with certainty which establishments are safe.

“Because current regulation is insufficient, we cannot assure the public that they are going into a secure environment if they decide to get a piercing or a tattoo. Until there are proper standards in place supported by training and accreditation, and underpinned by a proper system of inspection and enforcement, there will be no way of protecting the public from harm.”

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General Election 2015: a reflection – by Laura Watkins

Another election campaign over, and as the dust settles on what has probably been one of the most turbulent General Elections in my lifetime, my mind focuses on our country.

Regardless of the result later tonight, it has been a proud few months for democracy.

Britain has seen fairly big changes in political opinion, from the rise of UKIP to the Scottish Referendum and the challenge of the traditional Labour/Conservative dichotomy.

The recent mass engagement in politics, particularly among young people, has filled me with a growing confidence that we still value our democratic society.

My Facebook and Twitter feed has been awash with people talking about the election stating who they will vote for and, equally, who they wouldn’t dream of voting for.

As with every election, I’m incredibly grateful for the huge price women paid for me to be granted the vote. The rise of the Suffragette and Suffragist movements showed the eagerness and the desire women had to receive a voice. Their voice and need to be heard was so crucially important that they put their bodies, families and even lives on the line for what they believed.

I’m so grateful to these women, they not only gave me the right to have a say in who I want to run our country, but their spark was instrumental in igniting the Britain we live in today. I’m incredibly happy that I can work and don’t have to leave my job when I get married, I’m pleased that I have the same opportunities as men and I’m grateful I’ve never felt held back or discriminated because of my gender.

Undoubtedly we still have a long way to go for total equality but we have surely progressed a long way.

If you haven’t voted yet, then please do. Research what the parties stand for and who you would like to run the country. Don’t be swayed by public opinion. Get out there and make your mark, a mark for democracy.

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Make sure you register to vote

This is it! 20th April is your last chance to make sure you can vote at the UK general election

Time has almost run out to register to vote ahead of May’s polls, warns the Electoral Commission. The deadline to register to vote is midnight on Monday 20th April. Anyone who submits an application after that date will not be eligible to vote at the 2015 general election.

There have been more than 1.7 million applications to register to vote in the past five weeks. More than 1.5 million (1,563,176) have been made online at www.gov.uk/registertovote and approximately 170,000 have been paper applications. Almost 470,000 online applications (469,871) have come from 16-24 year olds.

Commission research indicates, however, that millions of people remain unregistered.

Jenny Watson, Chair of the Electoral Commission, said:

“This is your last chance to register to vote if you want to make your voice heard on 7th May. It takes just a few minutes to apply to register online, so do it now.

“We don’t want anyone to miss out, but if you miss the deadline on 20th April and then try to vote you will be turned away from the polling station on election day. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you.”

Data taken from the Government’s Digital Service shows that since 16th March:

  • The day with the highest number of online applications so far was yesterday (16th April) with 110,000 applications, the same day the BBC aired the debate with opposition leaders.
  • The day with the next highest number of online applications was Monday 30th March. That coincided with the start of the official General Election campaign period and the dissolution of parliament.
  • Following a request by the Commission for Broadcasters to include registration information in key election programming, visits to Gov.uk/registertovote during yesterday’s debate on the BBC were averaging around 2,000 before increasing to almost 25,000 after the host gave information on how to register. During the leaders’ debate on ITV on 2 April, visits increased to 12,500 after the host provided registration information.

The deadline to register to vote is midnight, Monday 20 April.

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Carrot and beetroot fritters with Greek cheese and chive salad, by Michael Rowland

I thought the winter would never end. I have been itching to get in the garden and I’m looking far too pale for my liking. It is with great pleasure therefore that spring has appeared to have sprung off rather quickly and has landed in summer. Happy days. While it might not quite be warm enough for barbecues and beer gardens, it is certainly time for sunny salads.

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One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns… pudding

It was once thought that keeping a crossed bun from one Good Friday to the next would bring you good luck. But if, like me, you don’t flinch when a black cat crosses your path then this super simple recipe using left over crossed buns may be for you. As Stevie Wonder says ‘Superstition ain’t the way’…

By Michael Rowland

You will need:

A little bit of butter for lubrication

4 crossed buns that are past their best

3 large free range eggs

300ml double cream

300ml of milk (full fat if you’re crazy, semi if you’re sane, skimmed if you’re crazy)

½ tea spoon of vanilla extract

Caster Sugar (as much as you like)

The zest of an orange

This will serve two normal people or 3 to 4 polite people…

Find an oven proof dish that will fit your slightly stale crossed buns snugly and grease with your butter. Slice each bun in 2 and arrange the bottom half of your buns in the dish.

Whisk the eggs, cream and milk until it resembles a thin custard and then mix in the vanilla extract and orange zest. Pour over half of the mixture, pop the top half of the bun on top and cover with the remaining custard. Leave to stand at room temperature for 20-25 minutes (30 if you aren’t in a rush) allowing your buns to absorb the mixture.

Heat your oven to 170C / 150C fan / Gas 3. Sprinkle a liberal amount of caster sugar and add a little more orange zest according to taste to the top of your buns and you’re ready to bake. 30-40 minutes should do it. Stand for a few minutes once out of the oven and serve (with ice cream if you’re feeling frivolous).

Happy Easter

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INDIA: The Tropical South  

India 1

Journalist Nigel Heath of Mitchel Troy overcame initial doubts to enjoy a fabulous holiday in South India

Don’t let the fear of ‘Delhi Belly’  or any other vague concerns ever put you off visiting India.

This huge and exotic subcontinent, once the jewel in the crown of the British Empire and the subject of so many romantic tales, may be somewhere you have often thought one really should visit.

If so then overcome those initial concerns and treat yourself to one of the best cultural experiences you are ever likely to enjoy.

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‘There will be some healthy dishes, and some not so healthy…’

Michael Rowland

Hello. Welcome to my blog. My name is Michael Rowland, nice to meet you.
I’m 32 and living in Worcester. I am a self confessed ‘foodie’ and this is probably all you need to know. However, if you really are interested, I present a weekly local radio show, enjoy music and cinema, long walks and I am a massive rugby fan. By which I mean I really really like rugby, not that I am some kind of humongous 60 stone giant. I could probably do with losing a few pounds but then couldn’t we all…

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My Work Was Love Made Visible – a book review by Laura Watkins

Before reading John Hanner’s novel, I was confused as to how a tale about a tree surgeon’s career could warrant the above title.

It was only after I read the book that I understood. Mr Hanner’s work didn’t just involve caring for trees but actively loving his family, a job in itself.

Mr Hanner’s commitment to his wife and three daughters, while balancing his dangerous career, is a poignant reflection point, especially in the modern hustle and bustle of our own lives.

His work, where he very often risked his life to protect and preserve trees, really was love made visible.

Mr Hanner’s book takes us on a journey from his humble beginnings at Tynycae farm, Llanbadoc to countries around the world.

His career has taken him to Rome, Nepal, Finland, Japan, Ethopia and even to Iraq and Iran at war time.

The book is poetically written and Mr Hanner often makes references to the love of his precious Wales.

A perfect little read for those interested in a local man’s adventures.

The book can be purchased from Lindwalls newsagents, Usk and Raglan post office.

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