Queen Bean

Quote: “One can’t decide which is more exciting.”

The Queen of England is said to be delighted at the new arrival; aren’t we all? We all try to do our bit to save the planet, don’t we? Oh, maybe you’re a little confused. We can brush aside the birth of the third in line as we have something much more exciting in the coffee world: a brand, spanking new coffee cup recycling facility. The Queen and the Princess Royal were present as they opened the plant on Wednesday 17th July 2013.

Daily Coffee News By roast Magazine reports that, “Most paper coffee cups contain approximately 5 percent plastic coating (…) making the cups non-recyclable.” So, all you take-away fanatics you can now drink guilt free because, “British speciality paper manufacturer James Cropper Company [which specialises in luxury packing materials and high-quality paper] says it has a solution, unveiled at its new facility in Cumbria”.

Like all successful innovators and inventors this company has taken a simple, everyday problem and come up with a solution. Around 2.5bn coffee cups each year go to landfill in this country alone. The James Cropper Company said, “The plastic is skimmed off, pulverized and recycled, leaving water and pulp.” Which can apparently be used again in papers and packing materials: offering a much needed solution to this cup crisis.

The Queen was at the birth of this new, pioneering facility, but she left Kate and William alone at the birth of their child (or maybe she didn’t get an invite. Does the Queen need an invite?). I think we can see which one she prioritises. Kidding!!!

Anyway, congratulations to Kate and William who, like most new parents, have no idea how important coffee will become in their daily lives. I’m sure they’re grateful and relieved that this new coffee cup recycling plant will be off-setting their future, caffeine fuelled, carbon footprints.
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The Thread Review

The Thread

 

Victoria Hislop’s, third novel, The Thread is an intimate tale of the lives of the people in Thessaloniki, Greece.   The tale deals with wider issues of war, politics and immigrants influencing this city and uses these to look more in depth at how individuals’ lives are affected.

 

The reader follows the life little Katerina after the Turkish army destroy her home in Asia Minor.  Her life is changed forever as she is forced to flee with nothing.  In Greece, Dimitri is born to a wealthy textiles owner.  But devastation shakes the community when an accidental fire ravages the city mixing the inhabitants and wiping out homes and businesses.  During this, Dimitri and Katerina’s lives are bound together forever.

 

Through poor Katerina we are exposed to an ever evolving community.  Dimitri’s life plays more of a political role and offers us access to the inner workings of the wealthy.  The community itself is one of contrasts and struggles; the tight-knit, multi-cultural working class never to be found with a closed door contrasts, yet co-exists, with the wealthy inhabitants, locked away in their mansions.

 

Hislop ties these people’s lives and relationships together through their continual struggles; some of which are self-imposed and some of which are cast so brutally upon them by both God and man.   Each character is a well written individual, yet is tied to the community and unified by their connection to Thessaloniki.

 

The Thread by Victoria Hislop

 

A thread is woven through this story with the modistra (seamstress), Katerina.  It weaves through a hard working Jewish family, wealthy Greeks, Muslims, friends, family, the rich and the poor.  Using what has traditionally been seen a female pursuit, the craft of sewing is used to tie the pieces of this community and story together.  This thread offers us an opportunity to see how characters utilize this skill: from domestic pleasure to purely commercial gain to hiding important secrets.

 

Hislop uses sewing in a similar way to Alice Walker’s Colour Purple and Tracey Chevalier’s The Lady and the Unicorn.  The oppressed are brought together through a common craft and skill.  It is, more importantly, a support network.  The Colour Purple, for all its trauma and devastating events, uses this technique to offer the protagonist respite and a glimmer of light.  The companionship, support, a little piece of serenity, safety among female confidantes and a tiny bit of self-confidence at the completed job, are all positive elements which have been used throughout history to unite; now, these elements are being used to tell a story.

 

There is so much more to traditional crafts and Hislop is another writer who shows us just how important this seemingly insignificant past-time is.

 

The book’s not perfect: sometimes elements are a little over explained, but it’s definitely worth a read.  Not just for the story, but for its technique too.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and it’s pace makes it an easy page-turner.   It’s an entertaining, fascinating and even an educational read as Hislop’s historically factual details are mixed with fictional lives.