Apparently 26,000 cattle in England had to be slaughtered last year after contracting bovine TB. And it’s all because of the damn badgers! Sorry, but I’m pretty sure these 26,000 cows were going to die anyway. The only difference is that the farmers obviously never made any money out of them. So what’s the solution? Well, let’s shoot 100,000 badgers! You’d think only a thug or a knuckle dragger could come up with such idea. But that is what it’s been proposed by the government and most likely to happen. It’s a culling process…, one could say. Well, it sure sounds more like if animals will have to be slaughtered, it better be the ones that will cost us less.

Is this really the best approach and the only alternative? The Welsh government, for instance, opted for a vaccination system. So what’s all this cruelty, sorry “culling” for?

Also, watch Brian May pleads to vaccinate cattle, rather than shoot badgers.

One afternoon at work, my husband calls me laughing and saying he had written an email to me, but sent it by mistake to a designer he was exchanging emails with earlier that day. So he forwarded the email to me and I saw that the girl replied back to him saying “sorry Rob, I don’t speak Portuguese”. That got me thinking how did she know it’s Portuguese? Usually people think it’s Spanish or, trust me, even Italian. Google translate! Now I’m very curious to see what the translation would be and decided to check it out.

Ok, so here’s the email my husband sent:
“Agora vou ir comer a comidinha gostosa que minha gatinha fez para mim”, which means “I’ll go eat the tasty food my sweetheart made for me”. But Google translated it to “Now I’ll go eat my hot pussy Comidinha made for me“. Wow! How did Google manage to make it sound so pervy?!

The thing is in Brazil the word “gostosa”, which means tasty, is also used for sexy, good looking, hot. And we use “gatinha”, which means kitten, as an affectionate way to call someone love, honey or sweetheart.

I called my husband straight away, obviously laughing my socks off, saying have you tried to Google translate it? He was so shocked! Specially because he barely knew this girl. “Fuck! What do I do? How do I explain it? Should I call and apologise? What if she’s never really used Google translate and I tell her about it? What if she’s shown it to more people? Fuck, Fuck, Fuck!” were some of the questions he made in the course of a minute. Well, to this day we don’t know the answer to any of them. He decided to simply hope for the best.

ImageShanty towns in Rio de Janeiro, better known as favelas, started in the 18th century when the former African slaves had no land ownership and were forced to settle in these areas. But it was mainly during the rural exodus in 1970’s that the number of favelas in Rio grew rapidly. And it was still during the 70’s, while Brazil was under military dictatorship, that removal campaigns started and successfully placed over 100,000 residents in public housing projects or back to the rural areas.

Nowadays the number of favelas in Rio has doubled. And because these areas have been illegally occupied, there are many issues involving not only violence and drugs, but overpopulation, pollution leading to diseases and lack of basic infrastructure such as electricity, water and sanitation. Not to mention the great risk of landslides for the residents living on hillsides.

Many investments have been made by local governments to promote the urban development for the favelas and cultural programmes to reduce the gab between social classes. But that doesn’t solve all problems. According to 2009 statistics, 25 thousand families were living dangerously in hillsides. Up until last year 17,4 thousand families have been relocated, and the aim is to relocate the remaining families in the next four years.

Being 2012 a municipal election year, Rio has announced last week the revised plan to reduce the area favelas occupy by at least 5% until 2016. Rio had 46,84 million km2 of favelas in 2008, and has now managed to reduce this number by 2%. The aim is to complete the remaining 3% by 2016.

And for the favelas that are staying, just like the cable car that have been introduced to ‘Complexo do Alemão’, and the public library located on ‘Complexo de Manguinhos’, a project to build escalators and make the access easier for the residents of ‘Rocinha’, ‘Mangueira’, ‘Complexo da Penha’ and ‘Complexo da Tijuca’ is being discussed.

It’s a very controversial situation as the project makes a lot of sense and it’s clearly easy to see improvements are being made with more on its way. This will be a great gift to the city of Rio de Janeiro just in time for the 2016 Olympics. But it doesn’t sound as good if we look at it from the people being evacuated point of view. They’re being re-located to the suburbs further away from opportunity and economic advancement. This could end up increasing the homeless population living in the urban centre of Rio.

You might also want to read: Rio’s favelas to be removed

I’ve always been a huge animal lover. To the point I would cry if I saw my mum killing a little spider when cleaning the house. I thought the right thing to do was to catch it and release the little spider in the garden.

But growing up in Brazil, where meat is always at the centre of the table as the main dish, becoming a vegetarian certainly wasn’t an easy decision. And to be honest, things were very different when I was a kid. We didn’t hear much about animal cruelty and not so many people were concerned that live stock should have a better life – despite it being a short one. I was okay with meat from the supermarket purely because I didn’t have to associate it with any dead animal.

When I moved to the UK, back in 2004, I started paying more attention to what was going into my mouth. And I felt like a hypocrite! I couldn’t bear the thought of any animal being slaughtered, but I would still sit down at a restaurant and order a large steak. And what kept me from changing to a meat-free lifestyle was the fact I didn’t want to be a pain and make people go through the hassle of cooking something else every time I was having dinner at their places. But that quickly changed after a horrible incident involving my dog and a poor sheep, which I rather not bore you with details.

I know some people out there might not be as sensitive to this kind of events and probably think this isn’t enough to put anyone off meat. But for my husband and I that was the last day we had meat. And we’re felling much better now – both consciously and physically.

I’m not here promoting vegetarianism! But that decisions in life should always be made according to what makes you happy, and not based on what other people will think of you. That tragic morning made me see things this way and it’s just so much easier. I wish I had changed my thoughts a long time ago…

Changing car should be a rational decision. But we all know when it comes down to test driving we let our emotions make the final decision. And so it happened to my husband and I a few months ago when we left the car dealer with a beautiful Nissan Qashqai Tekna.

This model of Qashqai is the one with sky roof, leather sits and all sort of electronic bits and bobs – sorry, but you must remember I’m a woman talking about car! My husband can’t get over the fact what really sold the car to me was that the driver’s sun visor had a mirror with built-in light! Anyway, the car is very comfortable and we’re both very pleased with our choice.

One day I’m half way cooking when noticed there was a missing ingredient. My husband quickly offered to drive to the small shop at the bottom of our road to buy it for me. “… and I’m taking Benny with me!”, he said fetching our over-hyped Jack Russell Terrier. “Fine. Just try to be quick!”, was my reply. About 15 minutes had passed when my phone rang.

“Hi, please don’t be mad… Can you come to the shop with the spare car key?”

“Why? What happened?”. I was really concerned something serious had happened.

“I don’t know why I can’t unlock the car…”

I put the phone down and started walking towards the shop thinking it’s probably an electronic malfunction and maybe a car with so many electronic stuff wasn’t a good idea after all. But when I got there I couldn’t help it but laugh to see my husband outside the car looking rather puzzled and the dog jumping from seat to seat as if it was a bouncy castle. What a situation!

What had happened was that my husband left Benny in the car for 2 minutes whilst he went in the shop. Benny, being a Jack Russell, started jumping everywhere and stepped on the button to lock all doors located in between both front seats. So, because the keys where inside the car, my husband couldn’t unlock it for the life of him. Anyway, of course at the end we successfully opened the door and learned never to leave our Jack Russell alone in the car with the keys ever again.

Candy FlossLiving in London can be challenging at the beginning, but it certainly doesn’t take you too long before getting used to the new lifestyle. And for some people one of the biggest advantages of being here is the diverse mixture of people, cultural traditions and beliefs which makes the city so vibrant and unique.

My husband and I have always been great explorers, travelling around and meeting new people every day. Through all these years, many people from various places in the world have come and gone in our lives. And although far away, we try to keep in touch with most of them – if not all of them.

Last spring we were very excited indeed when a very dear French friend contacted us saying she was coming to London. What a nice surprise! It had been ages since Amelie came to London! We made so many plans and very anxiously waited until the day she arrived.

One of the things we did with Amelie was the rather pleasant boat ride on the not so known Little Venice canal. It starts near Warwick Avenue tube station, passes behind the London Zoo and goes all the way to Camden Lock. And what made this day even more fun was the fact there was an event happening that weekend and the canal was very colourful with boats from many parts of the country, decorated flags, music and a lot of happy people. And it was at this very nostalgic fair near the canal that we had most fun.

It truly felt like going back in time. The small cafes, the stands and what were being sold. This nice atmosphere combined with the warmth of an early spring sun made this a day to remember. And the highlight of this day for me was this conversation we had over a traditional cup tea with cake.

Amelie’s English was a bit rusty after moving out of London, and she was trying to tell us how she loved candy floss as a kid in the South of France. The trouble is she couldn’t remember ‘candy floss’ in English. So she was trying to describe it to us, saying that in French it’s called ‘barbe à papa’, hoping we would know what she meant. I’m still puzzled, but my husband, being a big joker, says to the poor girl “oh yes, I know what you’re talking about! In English it’s called bum fluff.” And Amelie very relived continue telling us the story of how pink ‘bum fluff’ was her favourite.

I know, very cruel! She was mortified when we explained that bum fluff wasn’t the same as candy floss, but we had a good laugh at the end.

Most of us wouldn’t think twice before referring to sticky notes as ‘Post-its’, or flying disc as ‘Frisbee’ and in-line skates as ‘Rollerblades’. These are just a few out of so many brands that have become more widely used than their original names. I believe even a term has been invented for it: Genericide.

And just like anywhere else in the world, Brazil also has many similar examples. One of which being adhesive tape, where people refer to as Durex – a famous brand of tapes in Brazil, but also a famous brand of condoms in the UK.

Now with that in mind, I’ll tell you a story of this Brazilian English student who left Brazil a few years ago for the first time to visit the United Kingdom. Let’s call this guy Pedro.

Pedro is very keen on practicing his English and is taking every opportunity to talk to people, ask for directions, recommendations and so on. One morning Pedro walks into a WH Smith, a well known stationary shop in the UK, looks around for a while, doesn’t find what he wants and walks to a member of staff. “Excuse me. Can you help me, please?”

“Yes, how can I help you?”

“I’m looking for durex.”

The salesperson, obviously very confused, replies “I’m sorry, but you won’t find this here. You need to go to a Boots store. There’s one just down the road”.

“Thank you.” Pedro says even more confused. He walks out of the shop towards Boots. And at Boots he goes straight to the till point. “Hi, I’m looking to durex.”

And the quite helpful salesperson “Yes, what type are you looking for?”

Pedro’s reply was “the one you can write on”.

Of course Pedro learned some new words that day. But I wonder what was the first thought through the staff’s mind…

This true story still cracks me up every time I remember it.

We all need to thank Jon Morter for starting the campaign that made history. He started a Facebook group on December 13th 2009 along with his wife, Tracy. They managed to get Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Killing in the Name’ the number one spot at Christmas, beating Simon Cowell’s music machine. It would’ve been the fifth year in a row X Factor won the number one spot at Christmas.

The Facebook group has a massive 529,000 members and received support from celebrities such as Bill Bailey!!!

Well, I was one of the 40,000 lucky winners of a free ticket to see Rage Against the Machine gig at Finsbury Park on 6th June 2010! They rocked the park to it’s foundations!!! I couldn’t believe when they started playing the great classic ‘White Riot’ by The Clash.

Okay, I have to confess I wasn’t a huge fan of Dio. I never really liked Rainbow and being a great fan of Ozzy Osbourne, I didn’t have that wow thing everybody seemed to have when Dio joined Black Sabbath.

Having said that, I feel sorry to see another great legend leave us. Dio had one of the greatest voices in all heavy metal, poetic lyrics and popularised the iconic devil’s horn.

Although it’s difficult to see beyond sorrow today, looking back at all great moments in memory will help comfort you, fan, family and friend, tomorrow.

Good bye and rest in peace!

British Gas note

British Gas note with incorrect time

Our boiler broke down and we had no hot water in the house. We called British Gas and booked an engineer to come and have a look at it. They said someone would be here at any time from 13:00 to 18:00, and because I work only 5 minutes from home, I asked if the engineer could call me on my mobile when he was on his way. Well, it never happened. I got home and there was a note on the door from the engineer saying he was here at 14:00.

I called British Gas again on the number provided on the card and had to book another appointment for the next day, this time between 8:00 and 10:00. Since it was only two hours, I decided to take no risk and wait at home. At 10:00 I called British Gas to find out of the engineer’s whereabouts, and apparently he was stuck at his other job and would be late. Because I didn’t know how long that was going to take, I asked to be contacted on my mobile when he was on his way and went to work. This time he did call me at 10:20 saying he would be at my house in 5 minutes (just the right time I need to get home, I thought). For my surprise, I encountered another card on my door saying he had been here at 10:30!!! How exactly I don’t know, because I was in the house calling British Gas at 10:30!!!!

The girl on the phone contacted the engineer who had the courage to say when he called me he could hear a dog barking on the background, but when he arrived nobody was in. I do have a dog, but I can guarantee he wasn’t with me at work nor my work colleagues were barking on the background!!!! She then said she could read on his notes he was here at 10:26. So why did he write on the card left at my door that he was here at 10:30? Well, she said, there might be a clock difference. What? You mean a difference on his own clock? She also said he had no obligation to wait (in this case a couple of minutes) and the conversation ended with her saying – on her own words – “That doesn’t really matter. What matters is that he was at your door and you weren’t there”. I bet you they don’t talk to you like that when you’re joining them.

After such a rubbish service, I realised British Gas wasn’t really keen in helping me and my only alternative was to find an independent engineer. Without any effort at all, I found a really nice turkish guy who came in just an hour, fixed the problem and charged me £45 for something British Gas would have charged £210!!!

I’ve decided to cancel my account with British Gas and find a company that doesn’t use the “Am I bothered?” and “Computer says no…” policies. And I hope you do the same!