Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Dining Room

A long, long time ago, as a callow sixth-former in Tottenham, I joined some of the upper sixth who were trying to finish The Guardian's Cryptic Crossword. It was the final clue of a puzzle set by the great Arucaria:

“Begin description of dining room (8)”

I somehow saw it immediately: INITIATE.

And I was hooked.

So when in today's challenge we had 22 across: "They say solver had dinner late, to lose strength (9) - which gave ATTENUATE, although it was a weaker clue, I was joyfully reminded of that moment.

So thanks 'Philistine'!

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Tarta de Kent

I saw this recipe in The Guardian and thought I'd have a go at it.


There were cob nuts on sale in Nunhead (the inestimable Beaumont greengrocers).  So easy-peasy I thought.  What I missed was that the recipe started with blanched cobs.  Whereas what I bought were lots of these.


Once de-husked, they appeared as hazels.


... which is not surprising, given a subsequent letter in the Guardian explaining that cob nuts are cultivated hazels.

Anyway, then they needed shelling.


And then blanching - so boiling for a few minutes, then wiping the skin off.


By this stage I'd spent nearly two hours, and finally reached the stage where the recipe starts!  (So much for the preparation time of 15 minutes...)

So, onwards... nuts whizzed in blender, the batter could be made.


And baking, after which, this was the result.



And tasting.



(Yes, there is a layer of dark chocolate in the middle!)

I thought this was quite tasty; the nutty flavour was subtle, but definitely present.  But it was too sweet.  I'd cut down the sugar next time.  And I suspect I'd try for pre-prepared nuts!

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Kielder

This September we had a holiday by Kielder Water.  Almost uninhabited, a man-made lake and forest, we had a good time...





































Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Letters 4

Another Guardian letter, published today, in response to yet another stupid thing said by Boris Johnson.

Boris Johnson compares the sorting out of the Irish border issue under a no-deal Brexit with the Apollo moon landing (Report, theguardian.com, 22 July). Well, the moon landing took nearly 10 years to plan, was built on previous achievements and technologies, required about 400,000 people working together for one clear aim and cost America billions of dollars in the 1960s. People sadly died in the early trials (the Apollo 1 fire), and it was not designed to deliver a sustainable base, but only to enable the moon to be visited a few times. It inspired a generation, not least through the iconic vision of one blue Earth against a sea of stars.
Brexit, by contrast, only really got going when article 50 was invoked, does not have the same concerted will supporting it; rather, it divides the nation. It will cost the UK billions, will doubtless shorten many more people’s lives through creating more poverty and extending and deepening austerity, and it is a complete change to the state of the nation. Perhaps a more useful comparison than he realises?

There are two additional interesting things about this experience.

Firstly, I had a call yesterday evening by 'Toby' to tell me it was being considered for publication - a new service. (Actually as Toby explained, the reintroduction of something that used to be done normally a few years ago).

And secondly, the letter received some light-touch editing.

This was the original... which is itself a modified version of yesterday's post.


Boris Johnson has just compared the sorting out of the Irish border issue under a no-deal Brexit with the Apollo Moon Landing ("Boris Johnson: 'can-do spirit' can solve problem of Irish border", Guardian 22 July).

Well, the Moon Landing took nearly 10 years to plan, was built on previous achievements and technologies, required around 400,000 people working together for one clear aim and cost America billions of dollars in the 1960s. People sadly died in the early trials (the Apollo 1 fire), and it was not designed to deliver a sustainable base, but only to enable our sister planet to be visited a few times. It inspired a generation, not least through the iconic vision of one blue Earth against a sea of stars.

Whereas Brexit only really got going when Article 50 was invoked a couple or so years ago, does not have the same concerted will supporting it; rather it divides the nation.  It will cost the UK many hundreds of billions of pounds (at 2019 prices), will doubtless shorten many more people's lives through creating more poverty and extending and deepening austerity, and it is a complete change to the state of the nation.   Oh, and in the pursuit of a narrow little Englander view it will ruin at least a generation.

Perhaps a more useful comparison than he realises?

(NB in the above I've silently corrected one typo).
So the editing simplified what I wrote, and made it much more punchy.  Which is all to the good.    But I do think that in so doing they may have downplayed my abhorrence of the whole Brexit project.  
Still that's just a minor quibble...


Monday, 22 July 2019

Landing Brexit

So Boris Johnson has just compared the sorting out of the Irish border issues under a no deal Brexit with the Apollo Moon Landing...

Well, the Moon Landing took nearly 10 years planning, was built on previous achievements and technologies, required 400,000 people working together for one aim, cost billions of dollars (in the 1960s). People died in the early trials (Apollo 1), and it was not designed to deliver a sustainable base, but only to visit a few times. And it inspired a generation.

Whereas Brexit only got going with Article 50 a couple or so years ago, does not have the same concerted will supporting it (rather it divides the nation).  It will cost many hundreds of billions (at 2019 prices), will doubtless shorten many more peoples lives (more poverty, more austerity), and it is a complete change to the state of the nation. Oh, and it will ruin a generation.

Just saying.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Fifty Years On...

Fifty years ago today, I was told to go to bed.

I wasn't allowed to stay up and watch the Apollo 11 Moon Landing on TV.  I was quite annoyed about that.

Later, I remember going to see the tiny piece of moon rock in the the Geological Museum in South Kensington.  And later still, I joined the Astronomical Society of Haringey and met Arthur C. Clarke.

But, given that first landing 50 years ago, I needed a visit to South Kensington.

When you enter what is now a side entrance to the Natural History Museum, you are encouraged upwards.


But if you look around on the ground floor, you come across this:
This isn't the same sample as the one shown briefly in 1969, nor the later display in the 70s.  But it's still moon rock.

Then next door to the Science Museum...




The LEM is actually a copy of the original, made slightly smaller so that it can fit into the gallery.

But just along the way, in the 'Icons' exhibition, is the real thing.  Charlie Brown:





I asked one of the staff if it seemed likely that Snoopy had really been found.  She hedged her bets, and said that if it had, we wouldn't be going out to recapture it any time soon!

The Science Museum also, now, has its own sample of moon rock:


As an aside, the Apollo 10 capsule is surrounded by other numinous objects of space and technology interest.  Like these:
 The Flying Bedstead, that lead to the VTOL aircraft.

 Puffing Billy - the World's oldest surviving steam locomotive.

A V2 missile, as launched by Germany during WWII.

Anyway, having sated on things Apollo, I spent time exploring the museum further, as I hadn't been there for many years.  Foucault's Pendulum has been revamped, the Information Age gallery is new, and the Mathematics display have been completely refurbished.

And that is where a couple of other iconic objects can be found:


But there were other things of great interest, like the Bill Phillips model of the economy:


And the pioneering statistical work by Harriet Martineau and Florence Nightingale:


The space displays have also been updated in many parts, from a mockup of the Huygens lander:


To a huge replica of Bepicolombo:




But, in and amongst all this new material and the many refurbished displays (and I haven't yet mentioned the changes to the Energy gallery where the huge Watt and Newcomen engines are displayed, nor the special exhibition on driverless cars... They will have to be the subject of other posts. And I didn't go to the much hyped Apollo 11 film they are showing), it was good to find some things remained untouched, as I remembered them.

For example, a model credited to Mat Irvine:


And upstairs, in a corner, this: