GRANNY FLAPJAX – THE BLUE PLANET

 Granny Flapjax Intro. Final Logo 2 1Mb

 

To kick off my second blog post, I have a question for you: Have you been watching Blue Planet II? If you’re located overseas, it’s a British nature documentary shown in the UK on Sunday nights – and it has had me hooked. Even if you’re not a fan of oceans (which can’t be too many people), the incredible photography and revelations about what lies beneath these vast expanses of water would surely captivate and stir up emotions within even the hardiest of human souls.Vancouver Whale 2-1Mp

Over the past 30 years I’ve been extremely lucky to experience, first-hand, some of the seven wonders of the ocean world. And it makes me nauseous to think that the way we are living our lives today is gradually destroying, not just the coral reefs, but also some of the most intelligent and resourceful marine life that grace our oceans. We’re poisoning the waters these sublime creatures call home, and for what? For our own selfish needs—that’s what.

My first wonderful ocean experience was watching the orcas (killer whales) pass by Telegraph Cove in Vancouver, Canada. We were on a small tourist boat – so were able to share what was a truly amazing experience with everyone on board. To see men and women alike reduced to tears by these magnificent specimens was humbling, to say the least. As well as being beautiful and extremely clever, these creatures also really care about each other. Us humans could certainly learn a thing or two from them!Orcas on Vancouver Island

The second sample of nature at its finest I enjoyed was also in Canada – during a boat trip from the town of Tofino, on Vancouver Island. This time the vessel we boarded was a RIB (a rigid inflatable boat) – and that’s all there was between us and the Pacific Ocean! I’m not a great swimmer and panic if I can’t touch the bottom of a pool or the seabed. However, when treated to an hour of humpback whales playing close by you, that vulnerable feeling simply washes away. Enriching the experience were the things we learned – such as whales engaging in tail-smacking to either clean themselves or be playful. And when their tail is in a diagonal position, the message is you’re getting too close and invading their space. It’s all such an adrenalin rush – and difficult to put into words exactly how it makes you feel. 141a-DSC_0542 copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

My third and most memorable experience out on the ocean ‘road’ was during a three-week holiday on our friends’ sailing boat in La Paz, Mexico. We had no idea what to expect… which made it all the more exciting! On our first big trip out into the Sea of Cortez – off the Baja Coast – we travelled to the island of Los Islotes—where sea lions famously go to breed. As we approached the rocks ready to drop anchor we were greeted by a group of playful pups (infant sea lions), who came right up the side of the boat before leaping out of the water towards us. Our friends, who are extremely competent swimmers and divers, plunged into the water to swim with the sea lions. It was amazing how the pups interacted with them—and I was very tempted to jump in too! The near-perfect scene was given a sharp reality check as we noticed the bulls laying sedately on the rocks to keep a protective eye on their young. Our friends had forewarned us they can turn vicious in an instant if feeling threatened – so you always have to respect their private space.Granny Flapjax Intro. Saving the Blue Planet 1Mp

On another trip we sailed to the Bay of La Paz, an area where whale sharks – the biggest fish in the ocean – make an annual visit. On organized excursions, people are allowed to swim behind them for a short period, getting quite up, close and personal. I feel that’s a step (or stroke) too far—but it is providing a source of employment to those running the tours, and there are strict rules and regulations in place to protect the whale sharks. These formidable fish are actually quite harmless and gently glide along just below the sea’s surface—making them easy to view. Upon our arrival, out of the blue, two humpback whales breached alongside the boat and said a warm hello. It was over so quickly… but what a treat! During that trip we saw some more breaching humpbacks, flying rays, and a personal favourite of mine—dolphins! What a joy. They came right up to the bow of either side of the boat and played in the wash. It was truly spectacular!220-DSC_0912 copy I recently heard someone call into a radio show and make a comment about Blue Planet II – saying: “once you’ve seen one dolphin you’ve seen them all.” Believe me, that couldn’t be further from the truth—and was quite an arrogant, naïve remark.

Our final whale experience was arguably the most special of all; on a boat trip to see the gray whales in San Ignacious Lagoon. The female whales travel here every year to give birth to their calves – and the boatmen all know the whales by name. We were privileged to have a mother gray swim right up to the boat with her baby; even allowing us to stroke her head and taking great delight in spraying us with water through her blowhole. To be fair, it didn’t smell great! But the special connection we made with them over-powered everything. Incredibly, to top things off, her calf then appeared alongside her, rolled over and allowed us to tickle its tummy. These whales are enormous, and when they approach the boat it looks like a submarine heading right for you. However, as they reach the boat they dive down underneath it and appear almost magically on the other side. You don’t feel a thing. Simply incredible!Whale & Calf Mexico

While the three weeks interacting with an array of wonderful sea-life will forever live in the memory, I also came home sporting the powerful realization that we, as humans, have an obligation to protect these beautiful oceans and the masses of majestic creatures and plants contained within them. They are such an important part of our planet – and if we don’t start to reverse the damage we are doing, future generations won’t get to enjoy similar life-changing experiences.

Every species that is lost through over-fishing, killing sharks for their fins and killing whales for cosmetic and other reasons, will ultimately destroy the food chain from which we all benefit. Let’s dump all the plastic that we don’t need – and if we have to use any, make sure it’s disposed of responsibly so it doesn’t end up in our oceans. We must stop the destruction! What kind of beings are we to ignore what is happening right before our eyes? These creatures have just as much right to be on this planet as we do. Oceans cover approximately 71% of our planet, and we have to wake up to what is happening before it’s too late. We have to individually and collectively take responsibility for all the damage that we, as a race, are inflicting on our marine life. Not least for the fact that our planet’s survival depends on it. It’s in our own hands – but the change needs to happen NOW. Not next week, next month or next year; right NOW! We can all make a difference—and we MUST!

Until next time,

Granny Flapjax X

INTRO TO GRANNYFLAPJAX

Hello… and welcome to Grannyflapjax.com!

My name is Maggie, but since my grandchildren were old enough to speak they’ve called me Granny Flapjacks ~ an homage to the baked treats I’ve conjured up most of my adult life—based on my mum’s special recipe. So, when it came to coming up with a name for my new blog, Granny Flapjacks (with the ‘x’ factor) got the vote.

For so long I’ve been threatening to start a blog, to share my views on life and this crazy world we live in. Well, now I’ve finally done it!

So why should you read this English granny’s blog? Well, though I’m a mum of three and grandmother of six, I’m not a grey-haired old lady with a blue rinse, bent over and walking with a stick… not yet anyway! Rather, I’m a retired businesswoman with 68 years of life under her belt who now feels empowered to speak freely about issues of the day; in fact, anything and everything.

While I’m happy to listen and discuss anything with anyone, I also like to voice my own opinions… and I don’t mince my words. I have strong views and won’t be afraid to stand my ground when the need arises. Call it one of the perks of being a more senior citizen!

Though I’m ‘retired’, until recently there wasn’t a day that flew by when I didn’t ask, “Where does the time go?” I’ve found that days, weeks, months and years pass by more quickly the older you get ~ and sometimes it felt like being on a runaway treadmill that I couldn’t stop.

However, recently events have conspired to ease my daily schedule ~ and freed up time for me to start this blog. Hallelujah!

I’m not expecting to change the world. But, equally, I don’t want to grow old gracefully. I feel there are many injustices in the world, brought to our attention on a daily basis by the multitude of media outlets that bombard our TV, radio and internet channels—things about which we form opinions, but never take action to resolve.

And so I want to play my part in changing that—via this blog… which I hope will also inspire me to finish the book I’ve been beavering away on for the past three years!

But what about those flapjacks, I hear you cry? How do you make them and why are they so special?

Well, the recipe is simplicity itself. Just three ingredients—oats, margarine and sugar —plus a pinch of salt!

As for turning these ingredients into the perfect flapjack? Well, it’s taken many years of trial and error—including a few disasters caused by trying to cut corners with cheaper ingredients—to turn my baking of them into something of a science.

The reality is, when you find the right combination of ingredients, stick to it. And if they’re a bit more expensive than the average, keep your eyes peeled for when they’re on offer, so you can stock up with extra supplies.

What’s worked for me have been Scott’s porridge oats, Stork margarine and, in fact, any demerara sugar—though my go-to store in the UK is Aldi’s. I’ve found that the Scott’s oats absorb the melted margarine better than some of the cheaper oats ~ avoiding the dreaded greasy flapjack! Mine are grease-free, which add to the quality and overall feel.

And now for the recipe specifics.

Line a 10-by-8-inch baking tray with baking parchment. Melt 12 oz. margarine in a large saucepan. Then add 16 oz. porridge oats, a large pinch of salt, and 12 oz. demerara sugar.

The oats must go in first, otherwise the hot fat will melt the sugar—which you don’t want, as it adds crunch to the finished biscuit.

Stir it well, then spread the mixture onto the baking tray, making sure it goes into the corners. Then press down with a potato masher or similar tool.

Bake at 180 degrees in a fan oven – or 350 degrees in a conventional one – for approximately 20 minutes. After 10 minutes, take the tray out and press the ingredients down again with the masher, repeating again when finally cooked.

They should come out of the oven lightly browned. When cooled, leave in the tray and place in the fridge for a few hours; this helps to set them, so they are firm when you cut them up. To do that, turn the tray upside down onto a chopping board, remove the parchment, then cut into whatever size you like. Enjoy!

You can, of course, also spice up the recipe by adding dried fruits, chocolate chips, cherries, coconut, or whatever takes your fancy. My family and friends are now addicted to apricot flapjacks… YUM!

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On my blog’s Home page I’ll have a link where you’ll find recipes, tips on how to ‘cheat’ when cooking, shopping tips and anything else home-related which I think you might find useful. As my blog grows, I’ll add more links to cover other areas.

I hope you’ll join me every week and feel free to respond with your comments and any questions I may be able to answer.

Bye for now.

Grannyflapjax X