Year: 2011

September 30, 2011
Tonight, I am playing with a new toy, the ProQ Eco Smoker.

This is cold smoking, not hot. The small mazelike device (the ProQ Cold Smoke Generator) is filled with wood dust (“today, I will be mostly using oak”) and set to smoulder with a small tea-light, which is removed once the dust catches. After that, it will produce smoke without heat for up to 10 hours.

September 30, 2011
September 29, 2011
Lots of stuff happening here, but I haven’t been finding the time to write about it.

I have a visitor staying with me – Sovay is a collie belonging to and , who are off for a few days. It has been pretty painless, apart from her thinking that my trying to get her to bed last night was actually a really fun run-around-the-room game. Am blatently using her as an excuse to get out more regularly for walks.

September 18, 2011
I’ve been looking for a while for somewhere to obtain some traditional ginger beer plant. The real McCoy is a symbiotic organism of a natural yeast and bacterium which has been used to make a mildly alcoholic beverage for centuries. Unfortunately, I have found that most people selling “ginger beer plant” seem to be selling a mixture of powdered ginger and brewer’s yeast, which is not the same thing.

Anyway, I have finally found some of the real stuff, and am ready to start experimenting. As – like sourdough – this stuff grows with use, I will no doubt soon be trying to foist it off on any of you who are interested. However, if you can’t wait, I got it from this site, which also has some interesting recipes.

September 13, 2011
I have had a Tim and Nev here. They are doing a couple of jobs for me, including a complete bathroom makeover. However, while the sun is shining, they have been working on my garden, which is also getting the total makeover treatment.

A rough draft of the garden design follows. The garden is divided lengthwise into a gravelled area, for planting and a paved social area. Planting will be in raised vegetable tables/troughs for flexibility and ease of use.

September 13, 2011
So, following my week in Brighton, I attended the University of Sussex 50th Anniversary celebrations.

I had chosen to stay over the weekend in student accommodation, and had actually planned ahead. A number of old friends corresponded before the event, and made block bookings, ensuring that we were in the same accommodation.

September 12, 2011
I had a good time in Brighton last week, although on my second day there, I slipped in the rain and badly twisted my ankle. However, I spoke to a pharmacist, who suggested I use a diclofenac gel on it; and although it remained swollen and tender, it didn’t stop me getting around.

So the Brighton part of the trip was meeting up with some friends, and 4 days of shopping, eating and cinema. I have already mentioned Apollo 18, which was a disaster. However, I thought Rise of the Planet of the Apes was fun, and I really liked Fright Night (in 3D), featuring David Tennant and Colin Farrell.

September 3, 2011
As some of you know, I love making stuff in the kitchen, but I always have problems with pastry – apparently I have “warm hands”.

So I think this is a wonderful idea. Ready-baked pastry cases, available by post, in all sorts of varieties – sweet pastry, savoury pastry, choux, tartlets and vol-au-vents.

September 3, 2011
I am about to head off for a few days in Brighton, where I used to live before moving here; followed by Sussex University’s 50 anniversary celebration, held over next weekend.

So, naturally, just in time for my holiday break, the cellullitus that resulted from my hurting my leg in San Francisco (in March!) has reappeared for the third time.

August 31, 2011
Doing a quick shop for snacks last week, for a gaming session, I picked up a multipack of crisps. I wanted plain, and I thought that is what I bought.

As it happens, we didn’t open them, but I just had one as part of my lunch. They were very plain, almost tasteless. On examining the packet, I found they were actually flavoured: “Jacket Potato with Creamy Butter” flavour.

August 24, 2011
I’ve just finished watching the final episode of the BBC’s “The Hour”. Much has been said in the press about it being a British equivalent to “Mad Men” (lazy reporting – the two shows have nothing in common at all, aside from most of the male characters wearing suits), and of the frequent misuse of modern dialog in a drama set in the 50s.

The anachronistic language didn’t bother me too much, but one thing did. Throughout the whole drama, set in 1956, the two principle characters jokingly refer to each other as “Moneypenny” (frequently) and “James” (rarely, in response). The first James Bond novel was written in 1953, and at the time of the drama, only 3 novels had been published. While it is true that both the characters are intelligent and well read, so may have been familiar with these early novels, it seemed to me the joking seemed based on the depiction of Miss Moneypenny in the films, the first of which wouldn’t be produced for another 6 years.

I felt this was typical of the sloppyness (or absence) of basic research on the period. Despite this, I found the show fairly enjoyable to watch. However, this was mainly for the characters, as I felt the plot itself was rather weak.

What follows contains serious spoilers. Do not read if you haven’t yet watched this program (but intend to).