5 alternatives to the gym



The NHS recommends at least 3 hours of moderate exercise per week to stay healthy. But If you are like me and feel intimated by all the super-toned people at the gym here are some ideas you can incorporate into your everyday routine instead;

1. Fidgeting

Although this may annoy anyone you sit next, people who fidget burn around 300 extra calories per day. If you take the average calories content of a pound of body fat to be 3500, (300×365)/3500 = 31.3 pounds is how much weight you could lose in a year, besides the increased muscle tone you would eventually get. Fidgeting doesn’t have to mean simply tapping your foot; other ways include walking around whilst on the phone and getting up from your desk about once every hour to do a few stretches.

2. At-home workout videos

Thanks mainly to YouTube, you can now have a virtual personal trainer for free in your own home. My favourite channel by far is Fitness Blender who have videos for all ages/abilities/muscle groups etc. Alternatively, if you have game such as Just Dance, do a couple of dances for cardio and in between do a few minutes of strength training such as lifting weights (bottles of water work well if you don’t have dumbbells) or doing abs exercises such as crunches.

3.  Gardening

Gardening is a great overall workout that you probably you don’t realise you’re doing; 30 minutes digging followed by 30 minutes planting seeds burns around 400 calories! The best part is you’ll have an amazing garden to enjoy in the spring and summer.

4. Dancing

I went properly clubbing for the first time this week, and after a few hour of non-stop dancing my stomach felt like I’d just done 1000 crunches. Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but dancing burns 200-400 calories per hour (the crazier the dancing the  better the workout!), and you’ll probably be having too much fun to realise you’re exercising.

5. Ditch the car/bus

This may seem obvious but walk/cycle whenever you can. Although it may be more time consuming in that a 10 minute car/bus journey probably takes 30 minutes to walk, you get to enjoy the fresh air and see some wildlife early in the morning/late in the evening you otherwise wouldn’t see.

Easy Pasta Bake



Going to University means (unless you are in catered accommodation) that it is time to learn to cook! Here’s a quick and simple recipe I created by experimenting with leftovers from the week 🙂

Ingredients (serves 4)

12 oz pasta (I used Farfalle but any pasta shape will work)

1 packet cooked ham (the sandwich type)

2 handfuls spinach (frozen or fresh)

4-6 mushrooms (optional)

200 ml semi-skimmed milk

1 tbsp butter/margarine

Flour (ideally plain but you can get away with SR)

Black pepper



  1. In a pan cook the pasta as stated on the packet.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the spread in a second pan on a medium heat.
  3. When the spread has melted and the milk and stir well.
  4. Add a 2-3tsp of flour at a time to the milk/spread mix and stir well. Keep adding flour until the sauce is at your desired thickness (remember the sauce will thicken further in the oven)
  5. Chop the ham and mushrooms up into small pieces.
  6. When the pasta is cooked; drain and add to pan with the sauce along with the ham, spinach and mushrooms and mix together. Season with black pepper to taste. 
  7. Transfer the mixture into a baking dish and sprinkle the top with a generous helping of your preferred cheese (I used Parmesan)
  8. Cook for 25-30 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius.
  9. Enjoy! If there are any leftovers, simply put them in an airtight container in the fridge and eat within 2 days.

The Home Front Project Part 1 – Overview and Rationing


The Home Front was the name that was given to Britain and all that was happening inside it during World War 2, while its soldiers fought over seas battles.

The home front lasted as long as the war did, from 1939, when troops first left, and people’s lives first changed, to 1945, when troops returned and people’s lives started to slowly become as they were before.

Some of the main changes that happened in Britain were that Rationing was introduced. This was because German u-boats and submarines were sinking British supply ships, and there started to be a shortage of food, so it was rationed so everyone could get a fair share of remaining supplies.  Women were entrusted with the more masculine jobs such as factory and farming jobs. This was because many of the men who had worked in those kinds of places had been sent off to war and these jobs had to fall to the women as jobs in munitions factories, for example, were vital for the war effort.  Young people were split from their families and evacuated to the countryside. This was because there was a huge threat of bombings in major towns and cities and the government wanted to keep the children safe.



Rationing was when everyone was given an identity card and ration book. These books contained coupons that had to be handed in and signed by a shopkeeper whenever rationed goods were bought meaning people could only buy the amount they were allocated. Although in some rural areas farmers were able to keep slightly more back for themselves if they wished.

Rationing was introduced in early 1940, and lasted for around 14 years until 1954, 9 years after the war ended.

Rationing was introduced because German submarines started attacking British supply ships. This meant many items started to run low as imports dropped dramatically by around 75%. Rationing was vital so that everyone got a fair share of items that were hard to get hold of during the war.

Some typical rations for an adult per week were; 50g of butter, 225g of sugar, 50g of cheese, 56g of jam, 100g of bacon/ham, 1s.2d worth of meat (6p today), 1 fresh egg a week, ¼ packet of dried egg, 100g of margarine, 2-3 pints of milk, 50g of tea, 88g of sweets. People were also given points (16 a month) to use on whatever other food they wanted. Foods such as fish, potatoes and fruit were not rationed so could be eaten regularly, but most other things would have to be savoured. 

It wasn’t only food that was rationed in the war. In 1941 clothes were also rationed. They were rationed in a similar way to food, as every item was worth a certain amount of coupons. Children (and adults alike) were originally given 60 coupons, though it was later reduced to 48 a year, so parents and guardians had to think carefully before buying new clothes. Most people had to “make do and mend” and just re-use and re-cycle old bits of clothing and either mend the old or use the old to make something new.


There was an almost constant lack of food at times, so many people skipped lunch and had two main meals a day. People used dripping (a spread made of fat from a roasted joint of meat), and it could be used as butter. This saved some money and points. People also grew vegetables as extra food for themselves in their gardens, or if they had no garden, they would find an allotment (as many school playing fields and commons were used for this purpose in the war.)

When people needed new clothes they would perhaps trade with friends, family or neighbours, or in some stores younger children’s clothes could be swopped for bigger ones that fitted.  Many people mended or adjusted old clothes to fit, or used scrap material to make new clothes for the changing seasons.

Moral Decisions

How do Christians make Moral Decisions?



  • A moral decision is a decision in which you need to decide if something is right or wrong e.g. abortion or euthanasia

Your conscience

  • Your conscience is the moral sense or knowledge that lets us feel the difference between right and wrong.
  • Christians believe that God gives each of us morality and as God is good, our conscience guides us to choose the right path, and also that is Christian’s duty to do the will of God.
  • Consequentialists make their decisions based on possible outcomes and use their conscience to help decide which outcome is best.
  • Many Christians listen to their conscience through prayer or visions.

The Bible

  • For some Christians such as Jehovah’s witnesses, the Bible is the most important source of authority there is.
  • Deontologists are those who follow the teachings of the Bible when making moral decisions.
  • Some Liberal Christians interpret the Bible for the modern society removing ideas such as sexism before using the teachings to make a judgement.
  • Christians consider what Jesus said in the New Testament; answer stranger’s cry for help, love your neighbour as you love yourself, forgive your enemies, and don’t test the Lord.
  • Some Christians look to the Bible to see what Jesus would do in a similar situation.
  • All Christians use the 10 commandments to help aid decisions, and some argue this is the ultimate source of morality


The Authority of the Church

  • Some Christians believe that God speaks to the world through the Church, i.e. the Church leaders such as Bishops, Priests and the Pope.
  • Christians can often go and talk to the leader of their local church when they seek guidance on moral issues.

Situation Ethics

  • There are 4 main principles;
    1. Pragmatism – the main goal is love and you must try to achieve love no matter what.
    2. Relativism – each time you make a decision it’s not fixed rules, it’s always different and relevant to that one situation
    3. Positivism – you have to try to be achieving the greater good.
    4.  Personalism – it’s personal to you and it’s not up to anyone else, it’s your conscience talking to you.
  • Situation ethics give flexibility as there is not one rule for every occasion, so you’re more likely to come to a good decision.
  • Christians follow situation ethics because it allows them to decide what is right for them.



  • Blessed are the spiritually poor – theirs is heaven
  • Blessed are those that mourn – they will be comforted
  • Blessed are the humble – they will receive God’s promise
  • Blessed are those whose biggest desire is to do God’s will – they will be satisfied
  • Blessed are the merciful – they will receive mercy from God
  • Blessed are the pure in heart –they will see God
  • Blessed are the peacemakers – they will be God’s children
  • Blessed are the persecuted – they will inherit heaven
  • These show how different behaviours will be rewarded, and these influence some Christians when they make decisions.

“Treat others as you wish to be treated”

  • This quote is from Matthew 7 verse 12, and is part of the Sermon on the Mount
  • This is the heart of the Christian law of love. (Judge not unless you are judged, be kind so that others may be kind to you, care so that you may be cared for etc)

Example and Reason

  • Some Christians try to emulate or follow the example set by experienced Christians or more famous Christians in the Bible.
  • Many Christians believe God gave them intelligence so they use reason to try and work out the most logical solution.

Should you pay for a night in the cells?

police cell

I was quite intrigued at the newly elected police comissioner David Lloyd’s idea to charge anyone who spends a night in the cells. Firstly, it was quite ammusing to hear that he’d asked his constituency for their opinions on the plans before even finding out if it would be legal! Somehow I feel that delightful piece of legislation called the human rights act would quickly put at stop to any such brainwaves after a quick once over by lawyers (not that I’m completely against it, but the current version needs improvement as it is prone to abuse, although why anyone really has a right to anything I do not know, but that’d best be argued in a seperate post methinks).

The second reason this story instantly grabbed my attention is that he said on radio station LBC that a charge of £400 would be sufficient. £400?! I’ve been looking at hotels in paris recently and that much money would get me 2 nights for 2 people in a double room plus breakfast in a 4 start hotel mere metres from the centre of the city! So why on earth one night in a 6 by 8 foot concrete box wiith only a thin matress for comfort would be equivlant to such a price tag beats me.

Then there’s the moral issues. What if the person was later found innocent of whatever crime they were arrested for? Should they still have to pay? Common sense would say no. What if the person cannont afford to pay or is on state benefits? Perhaps a suitable alternative would be a set number of hours of community service. Yet this leads to the question of whether a blanket charge should be used, or if a tiered charge would be more appropriate, because £400 to someone on £50,000+ a year is nothing compared to the same charge for someone who earns something close to the minimum wage, and how many hours of community service would this equate to? Should parents have to pay if their under 18 children spend a night there? Maybe you straight away think yes, but why should they be punished when they didn’t do anything? Although parents are responsible for their children, short of permanently locking them in their rooms, there is not a lot they can do about how their child behaves in their absence.

Furthermore, is it right to punish someone twice for the same thing, which is effectively what this charge is? Yes, it may be a deterrant from relatively minor crimes like being drunk and disorderly, but not only do those arrested have to suffer once by staying in uncomfortable conditions overnight, they then must pay for the privelege! Okay, they may deserve it, but I thought it the 21st century we are better than the times when we’d enjoy burning people at the stake.

Lastly, it could, sadly, be used by a few poice officers and council members (anyone who believes there are large organisations in the world without at least one corrupt member must be kidding themselves) as a money making scheme in these austere times. Admittedly the money would go straight back into the police budget, but that doesn’t make it acceptable. A better way to increase the budget would be to go directly to the government, even if the chances of success are slim, but if enough people signed a petition for it then it might stand a chance of being heard.

So, what do you think about this scheme? Are you glad someone has thought of it or do you have your doubts?

Homeostasis: Maintaining Body Temperature

Key Definitions:

  • Ectotherm: regulates body temp. via external sources e.g. the sun
  • Endotherm: can generate heat internally to regulate body temp.  e.g. metabolism in the liver.
  • Negative feedback: brings a reversal of any change of conditions back to the optimal conditions.




• Need less food as less is used in respiration, so can go for long periods of time without food and more energy obtained from food can be used for growth.


• At greater risk of predation as less active in cool environments and may need to warm up in the mornings before they can become active.
• May be incapable of activity in winter months so need to build up large energy store so can survive without eating.
Ectotherms change their behaviour or physiology to react to environmental temperature changes:
• Expose body to sun to enable more heat to be absorbed
• Orientate body towards sun so larger S.A for heat absorption (or away from sun so less heat absorbed)
• Hide in burrow reducing heat absorption
• Alter body shape to expose smaller/greater S.A to sun
• Increase rate of breathing so more water evaporates
welcome and be happy
• Fairly constant body temp. despite any external temp. changes
•  Can be active when it’s cold i.e. night/morning/winter and so can live in colder parts of the planet


• Large proportion of food intake used to maintain body temp, so more food is needed, and less food is used for growth.

Physiological adaptations:

• Water can evaporate from lungs/nose/mouth or from the skin when the sweat glands produce sweat
• Hairs on skin can be raised/lowered to trap greater/smaller insulating air layer
• Vasodilation/vasoconstriction in arterioles leading to skin to increase/decrease radiation of heat at skin surface
• Liver cells can alter their rate of metabolism
• Skeletal muscles can contract spontaneously ti generate heat via respiration in muscle cells (shivering)

Behavioural adaptations:

• Move into shade/hide in burrow
• Orientate body towards/away from the sun

 Remain inactive and spread out limbs to increase S.A, or roll into a ball to decrease S.A


Body temperature in endotherms is controlled by negative feedback:


The body also contains peripheral temperature receptors located at the extremities so there is a quicker reaction to external temp. changes as core body temperature may take some time to decrease enough for the hyperthalomous to detect a significant change.

Exploiting the Rainforest (Amazon project part 4)


Humans have been exploiting the forest for thousands of years. Today, we still use a technique used in the early 20th century to make tyres. One man may look after 30 hectares of land, but only find 60 rubber trees. The rubber taper then scrapes some diagonal lines through the bark. A natural resin called latex; which lies just underneath the bark, comes out and is collected. They then turn this into rubber. A rubber tree can be harvested many times, and does little or no damage to the environment.


Now, most ways of exploiting the forest starts with a chainsaw, and cutting down hundreds of trees. Logging companies specialize in this field. They tend to cut down the most valuable trees like Mahogany. Mahogany is in great demand, especially in the UK. Mahogany is worth £500 per cubic meter, or around £10,000 per tree. These trees are rare as the logging companies can only find one to two adult trees per hectare.  To get to these precious trees, the companies must build roads, cutting down lots of trees. Then when they find a tree they want, they cut it down, pulling down and damaging others trees in the process. Next, they drag it out to the road and load it onto a truck. Pulling down one tree damages at least 28 others in the process. They then go back in to get about 20 less valuable trees for timber, doing the same amount of damage each time. In one area there may be to logging companies, where they have to cut down 30 trees a day ach, totalling 300 trees per week or a massive 15,000 per year. Only some legal companies replace less than a third of what they took, but the illegal companies do not care. The Lorries taking the trees are relentless. Whether they are taken away by river or road, the trees all end up in the same place, the sawmill. There is said to be over 4,000 sawmills in Amazonia. In the sawmills they cut extremely thin slices of the less valuable timer, and then stick them together to make ply wood. The Amazonian hard wood is in great demand. Before, we use to exploit the tropical forests of Asia, but that supply is almost completely gone. So more and more companies have come to Amazonia, causing vast areas of damaged land.


Another way of exploiting the forest is mining. First, they clear a huge area of forest, and then dig deep below the surface. The rocks underneath the Amazonian soil are rich in minerals such as gold, copper, iron, lead and many more. One of the big mines is translated as being called Great future, but others tell a different story. This mine now produces 3.000 tones of these precious minerals a year, compared to the 15,000 tones at its peak. They use high-pressure hoses to wash the unwanted soil away, making large ponds. Where there is unweathered rock, they employ hundreds of local people to use a pick and shovel to mine the ore out.  These people are lucky to get £10 a day. To make the tin that we use for cans, the ore is heated and ground several times. They then wash it in water, and the tin sinks to the bottom, where as all the other minerals wash away. The tin costs $6,000 a ton and is sent to factories to be made into objects like cans. There are many mines like this across the Amazon, and now places where the earth contains oil, gas and uranium are being discovered.


Although logging and mining area both big causes of deforestation, the biggest cause so far is cattle ranching. When the government gave away free land, many took advantage, most of whom made cattle ranches. They cleared a huge area of land, so big; they have to use mobile phones to communicate. One particular ranch has 2,000 cattle in 3,000 hectares of land. Though compared to the Brazilian government standards, this is only a medium sized ranch. The neighbouring ranch has 15,000 hectares of land and s classed as a large ranch. The owners keep a specially bred type of cattle called zeboo cattle. To improve their herd, they use modern techniques and chemicals such as Artificial Insemination, where they make the females pregnant. Despite all this, there is o0nly enough beef for their own population.  After about 3 years, the soil becomes so acidic, the only thing that will grow is grass, grass so poor that even the cows don not like to eat it. As fertilizer is not available in large quantities n the area, the fields are just enlarged when the soil becomes infertile. If this continues, ranches will own a great deal of the land in Amazonia, but in Amazonia, clearing land is a way of claiming it as yours.


The last method of exploiting the forest is farming. 10,000 small farmers picked up the offer of free land, so roads were built through the forest. Over 1,000,000 people came to the Amazon, but nothing happened. They were promised a new start in a new place, with money and fertilizer, but the Brazilian government did not live up to its promises. Many people made them selves a 50 hectare plot, but the Amazonian soil did not live up to its promises either. So most people left the plot, and cleared more land somewhere else. For the few that stayed, life is hard. They grow coffee, coco, corn rice and fruit, but only for low prices. The soil is very infertile so the crops they can grow can not live up to their potential. They get by with what they can, and even though they continually beg the companies and the government for more money, the answer is always no.

Through all this, deforestation is the key issue; it affects the climate, the environment and the indigenous people within the forest. It is said hat the Amazon rainforest will be almost completely gone in 40 years time, but the Brazilian government disagree, saying it will not be gone for at least another 300 years time. Whatever the correct figure, can we really afford to lose one of nature’s best creation? The clock is ticking and it only so long before the rainforest is gone, unless we all do something about it.