Friday 19 July 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus, Avian Flu and other virus UK and World News Update 19th July 2024

 COVID-19 Coronavirus, Avian Flu and other virus UK and World News Update 19th July 2024

"More from COVID inquiry on UK preparedness - strategy “outdated and lacked adaptability” , “fatal strategic flaws”, “lack of adequate leadership” by ministers, advisers and officials, Planning and policy  “failed their citizens” , system was “unduly complex and labyrinthine”"
Hugh Pym,  BBC News Health Editor, with the release of the first report from the UK COVID Inquiry. 

WHO Immunization has saved over 154 million lives text with image of baby receiving oral immunisation

Wednesday 17 July 2024

Mölkky Outdoor Finnish Pin And Skittle Game Review (Sent for review by Tactic Games).

The Summer holidays are on their way, and once your children get older the opportunities for playing outdoors together become more limited. Tactic Games have sent us the Finnish skittle game Mölkky to review, and it is perfect for the whole family or group to play together - pretty much wherever you are. 

Molkky Garden Skittle Game in wooden crate as delivered with plastic sleeve

Suitable for 2 or more players aged 6 or over, Mölkky involves throwing a large wooden skittle at a group of pins on the ground. Your game comes in a very neat crate for carrying, transport and storage, and is 100% wood (except for rope handles), plastic-free and solidly made. 

You'll need some outdoor space and fairly level ground to stand the pins, but it can be played on grass, sand or any hard surface. Because the skittle is thrown, not rolled, you don't need a very large flat area as you would for bowling. Brilliant for home, visiting, days out or holidays, Mölkky is so easy and quick to play that it's also a great way to entertain everyone at a barbeque or other outdoor get together with friends or family. 

Molkky game in carrying crate sitting on grass outside

When I first opened my set, I was a bit disappointed with the finish on some of the wood, but after playing a couple of games on grass you can already see that it really isn't important. After a few rough throws your skittle and pins will have developed their own unique dings and dents to go along with the memories you make playing it. The crate could be better finished, but again, it's sound and robust, and if you are going to place it on mud, sand and grass, you probably don't want to be too precious about it. 

Molkky wooden crate not perfectly finished

Mölkky has a really clever scoring system, which is a cross between darts, snooker and skittles. It's really easy to understand, and there's a free Game Tracker app. you can use to keep score as you go along, which is most useful when you have a lot of players. There are also scorecard pages in the included instruction leaflet, or you can trust everyone to keep their own score. Each game lasts about 15 minutes, it's turn based, and there's very little waiting or frustration. Set up takes 2 minutes, and the rules are so simple, you can play immediately. 

molkky garden game collage of pages from instruction leaflet showing free scoring app.

The 12 equally sized pins are numbered, and the aim is to get a total score of exactly 50. You aren't expected to score 50 on your first throw alone, scores add up. Go over 50 and you drop back to 25. This happens a lot.

Because pretty much everyone exceeds a total score of 50 and ends up aiming for 25 (repeatedly), younger family members shouldn't feel demoralised or get upset, and any player actually has a pretty fair chance of winning. 

Molkky garden game pins in formation on grass

When pins fall over, they must be flat on the ground to score, any pin leaning on other pins doesn't count. Add up the score and stand the pins back up exactly where they fell. This is where you realise tactics can make all the difference - if you are a good enough shot to actually use tactics, obviously. 

Molkky gameplay pins spreading out as you score

At the start of the game all the pins are in a diamond formation tightly standing together, but once throwing starts they begin to spread out. It's often an advantage in later turns, because it means you can aim for the score you want far more easily, and you can try to separate any pins you might want yourself for the next turn. That makes it sound pretty easy to do, but the reality is that by their second turn everyone is searching for the lowest scoring pins, so you won't only benefit yourself!  

Molkky gameplay showing the pins scattered after a big hit from the skittle

Mölkky is incredibly inclusive. It is very gentle exercise, and can be played by people with a vast range of physical abilities, including wheelchair users. Officially it's suitable for 2-6 players, but we found you can add more without losing pace or gameplay. The suggested age is 6 or over, and it isn't suitable for young children because these are big, heavy chunks of wood and wild throws might head off in a direction you aren't so pleased with. There are no complicated rules to put anyone off, and there's a large element of luck involved as well as skill, so anyone can end up being the winner. 

Molkky skittle large chunk of wood being held in a hand

Most of us have played skittles or been bowling, so from the outset there is a familiarity to Mölkky, but because of the scoring system, the huge wooden throwing skittle and the way the pins are replaced, you have an entirely different and more interesting game. It really is loads of fun. 

Molkky gameplay a throw in action

Mölkky is great, and I'm fairly sure will become an outdoor staple for my family. What could be better stress relief and entertainment than throwing a big bit of wood at other bits of wood, and with a competitive reason to do it? It appeals very much to people of all ages and temperaments. A really excellent all rounder that will last for years... 

Molkky game pins lying on the grass in close up

Mölkky is sold in the UK by Tactic Games, and available to buy now priced at £39.99 rrp (at the time of typing discounted to £34.02 on Amazon). That's a fair price for any game, and it should last you long enough that your Grandchildren can play it with their children. 

We were sent our game to review, but were not paid or given any incentive. My teenagers no longer wish to fully feature in my blog, which is fair enough, so gameplay images are a bit lacking in people. I shall however attempt to photograph the Grandparents next time we get them playing... 

Friday 5 July 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 5th July 2024

 COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 5th July 2024

“The NHS saved my life. Now I’m determined to save our NHS. That work starts today.”
Gawd bless him. High hopes Wes, high hopes. Don't let us down. 

Hands up who stayed up all night watching the election results? Thank heavens there isn't a huge amount of news to share, because I am not my most productive self today. I'm not even sure if I'm actually still awake, but I'll do my best. Overall I think a very positive night for the UK, and a clear message that we aren't best pleased with politicians or parties who serve themselves rather than the people who put them there.

Stuart McDonald COVID Actuaries BMJ vaccinations compared to excess deaths

The UK election results saw the end of several key players in the UK COVID response, including the Conservative Party itself. The new Health Secretary has been appointed, and it is Wes Streeting. He was applauded as he arrived at the Department of Health. Hope returns. 

Friday 21 June 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus, Avian Flu and other virus UK and World News Update 21st June 2024

 COVID-19 Coronavirus, Avian Flu and other virus UK and World News Update 21st June 2024

"We've not made as much progress on cutting waiting lists as I would have liked."
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Sky News
Errrm, no. 
The NHS waiting lists for planned treatment in England alone rose in April to 7.57 million. In March it was 7.54 million. This relates to 6.33m patients (it was 6.29m in March). 
With the longest waits it's a mixed story. The number of people waiting over a year is down to 302,500, but of those, more people have waited over 65 weeks - more than 50,000 of you. (I waited 21 months for my last operation, so you have my honest sympathy.) 
I don't think this story is entirely negative, let us not lose hope. The NHS and it's workers managed to reduce waiting lists for 7 months straight, and in latest figures yeah it's up, but it's a relatively small 0.4%. Fingers crossed we can get back into the groove again, and fix some more of those people who have had their life on pause for over 15 months... 

Text be a blood doner and save lives and image of reclined person donating blood

Friday 7 June 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus, Avian Flu and other virus UK and World News Update 7th June 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus, Avian Flu and other virus UK and World News Update 7th June 2024

"If H5N1 does jump to efficient H-H transmission in the future, we would probably look back and say: "The cow farms with PB mutations, the sea lions with an a-2,6 favorable mutation, the infected workers... the signs were there, and we didn't do enough to stop it"
Jay.P.Weiland, Infectious Disease Modeller and Data Scientist.

Advice for food safety following an emergency

In the UK excess deaths have levelled off at the recent low figures, and are now steady and close to 2019 levels.
"So on any reasonable calculation basis it is clear we are no longer experiencing the significant excess deaths seen from 2020 until early 2023."
Stuart McDonald of the COVID Actuaries:
Ahhhh, that's better. 

Friday 31 May 2024

Simba Orbit Weighted Blanket Review (Sent for review)

Last week Simba sent us their Orbit Weighted Blanket to try out, and I'll start this review by saying it's excellent. The Simba Orbit is a 15lb generously sized single blanket with a removable cover. Weighted blankets are great for anyone who likes to feel snuggled or secure when sleeping or relaxing, they're proven to help people sleep more deeply and soundly, and are often found useful by children and adults who have Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

Simba orbit Weighted Blanket with removable washable 100% cotton cover shown in front of packaging on a bed

One of my boys doesn't like the feel of a duvet, and has refused to sleep with anything other than heavy blankets for several years. He gets far too warm at night for much of the year, plus blankets can take an age to dry after washing and it really isn't ideal. He doesn't much like change, and wasn't sure about trying the Simba Orbit, but he agreed to a 3 night trial and he loves it! You'll be glad to hear the 'trial' ended after just one night, when he decided his old blankets are history and his weighted blanket is the future. 

Friday 24 May 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 24th May 2024

 COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 24th May 2024

"COVID19 ranked among the top 3 leading causes of death globally in 2020 and 2021, responsible for 13 million lives lost.
In most regions of the world, it was among the top 5 causes of death. In the Americas, it was the number 1 cause of death."
The World Health Organisation

COVID no 1 cause of death 2022 23

In the aftermath of COVID breaking out, the 196 members of the World Health Organisation have decided on some changes to International Health Regulations.
“The IHRs focus on building countries’ capacities to detect and respond to public health events which could take on international dimensions, whilst the draft pandemic accord focuses on a coordinated international response to pandemics, with equitable access to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics at the centre."
They haven't yet agreed on the wording for the Pandemic Accord, but discussions are at least ongoing and it's all become very civil.

Wednesday 22 May 2024

KatKin Fresh Meat Frozen Cat Food Review (sent for review)

We were recently contacted by KatKin to see if our cat Sonya wanted to try out their cat food. Unlike most canned and sachet cat foods, KatKin is not super heated to kill off any bugs or nasties. It means it won't last for months in your kitchen cupboard, but it also means it has retained more flavour and nutritional value. This is fresh meat, cooked, and frozen.

cat sniffing katkins food packaging

We were sent a 2 week trial box, with 14 portions of food in a variety of flavours (each approx 147g), plus Chicken Nibbles (50g) and Chicken Sprinkles, which are both made from freeze dried cooked chicken.

Friday 10 May 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 10th May 2024

 COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 10th May 2024

"Hospital admissions with Covid in England increased by 33% in the last week of April, having been low and stable for a month.
Most regions saw significant in-week increases. The fasted increases were in NE+Yorks (+52%), Midlands (+39%) and South East (+38%)."
Stuart McDonald, COVID Actuary. 
This is a pretty rapid increase, and while it started from a low point, it's not great.
It implies the highest 'R' number since last Summer, and sadly this surveillance is only reported once a month now, so we'll have to wait a while and delve into UK HSA (Health Security Agency usually have a big lag in reporting) stats to find out what happens next.
Variant surveillance does suggest the FLiRT variant has already taken over in the UK, despite me being so blasé about it last report, so that may be a factor and it might be a bit more easily shared than it previously suggested, and hardly vaccinating anyone won't bring down numbers either.

On the positive side, despite bank holiday reporting being likely to have a lag, mortality in England and Wales is below expected levels for 2024. Up until week ending 26th April, 6% below expectations. 

100524 England COVID hospital admissions by area chart

Monday 6 May 2024

Not/Coming Out Charity Anthology Book Review (Sent for review).

We all carry secrets, parts of our lives which we hide away and don't share. Not/Coming Out is an anthology of poems and short stories from people who have hidden away the biggest parts of who they are. Some of the LGBTQ+ authors or their fictional (semi-fictional?) characters tell us what happened when they did reveal themselves, some explain why they don't. For all of them it is a huge decision which is very often overshadowed by worry, even when they are amongst their closest friends and allies. 

Black and white line drawn image of a closet or wardrobe, containing various clothes and with a teddy bear sitting in front