Monday, 30 September 2013

Another one of those dreams....


I know that it was not really my fault, but the guilt will stay with me anyway.  And, of course, History is certain to lay the blame at my doorstep, regardless of who made what decisions...

It started off innocently enough:  some bod with a crazy idea and enough money to finance the R&D.  All I was going to do was run some tests, take the cash and tell him that his idea was rubbish.

But who was to know that it would actually WORK!

Put rice and water into a centrifuge - spin it at the right speed and VOILA!  The spinning forces the water into the rice, an action which creates heat at the same time!

Yes!

We learned how to cook rice by centrifuge...

It went massive.

The inventor/backer made a mint.

Soon, you could not switch on the TV without seeing Chef Tony singing the praises of this new device, the REVOLUTIONARY WAY TO COOK!

OK, so I appeared on some of the Infomercials, but, hey, I did all the hard work so why shouldn't I get something for my efforts?

And it wasn't just rice that was being cooked, either.  If you needed to add water to it, you could cook it in the centrifuge.

Every home needed one.

Most western homes GOT one!

Then someone had a BIG IDEA. 

How about making HUGE INDUSTRIAL-SIZED ONES?

They could be planted in cities in the developing world, hooked up to solar panels - whole neighbourhoods could be fed easily and cheaply, without the use of smokey fires or parafin burners.  It would be amazing!

And it was!

It caused a massive shift in the way the poorest in the world ate, the benefits were huge!

But then it happened...

It was in the slums of Mumbai...

The centrifuge had been spinning for a few minutes when, bang, a support gave way.

It wasn't my fault, I was not in charge of maintenance!

I try to tell myself that it really wasn't as bad as the news reports said it was.

I mean, how much damage can a vast, rapidly spinning drum cause as it rockets through a shanty town?

And the oil refinery wasn't TOTALLY destroyed when the ruptured tanks exploded...

And quite a few ships managed to avoid being trapped in the blazing oil slick that spread out into the river and sea. 

They eventually put out the flames that engulfed the riverside apartment blocks, some of those offices will be usable again.  Maybe...

No, it wasn't really that bad, I am sure.

You believe me, don't you?

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Joy of Autumn

Autumn has arrived in all its cool, colourful splendour.
 

 
The spiders are having one final attempt at world domination, before the cold drives them indoors for winter.
 

 
Fog and Sun battling for domination.

 

 
My mum is a big fan of vines and ivy, which are steadily covering the back of her house.  This Virginia Creaper goes a wonderful colour, don't you think?
 

 
There are still some flowers hanging on - some with, and some without denizens...
 


As you can see, I have been busy with the camera again.  This one has an amazing Macro setting - no, I mean, I have become really skilled at getting the focus just right...

Monday, 23 September 2013

Weekend

I am not really sure where the weekend went to.  I don't think I did anything major, but it felt busy and I woke up this morning feeling that I needed another weekend!

I DID do a bit of cooking, though.

On Saturday, I made Feta Ravioli. 



It was wonderful, and reminded us of Malta.  Of course, it was the memory of Feta Ravioli from Malta that inspired me to make it in the first place!  The kids loved it too, especially our younger son who is on a fitness kick and was happy when he read that feta is actually pretty good for you!

Sunday I cooked a lump of pork - slow roasted a roasting bag with a home made marinade  - from memory it was soy sauce, 5 Spices, ginger, sugar, black pepper, chili powder,  paprika and a squirt of sweet barbecue sauce for luck.  It more or less fell apart when we tried to slice it.  Mmmmmm.

I did Noodles and stir fry vegetables to go with it.  There was also home made naan bread.  Until recently I had only had the shop-bought version of this. 

Nice enough.  But then, a few weeks ago when I went to London for that weekend of wargaming, I had the fresh stuff.  Ooh yeah, that was how it was supposed to be!  So I got together the ingredients and worked away - a few extra ingredients, but generally no different to making normal bread or pizza bases.  They only took 10 minutes to bake, so I was cooking them right along side the vegetables and noodles - when they came out of the oven I brushed them with melted butter and cut them into pieces.  So good I forgot to take a photo!  OK, strictly speaking, naan bread should go with curry and not stirfry, but it was still great and I can't wait to make more next time we DO have curry...

Maybe I will remember to take a photo next time too...

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Early Morning Dog Walk

 
I am not really a morning person, but getting up early to walk the dogs does have its benefits.
 
Especially when you take your camera with you...

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Sorry, not hungry...

I just read a blog post by Lotta Joy that reminded me of a story that my grandad used to tell me. I have posted this story before, but it was a long time ago and I suspect that it will be new to most of you.   He did not talk about his childhood very much - we just knew that the woman who brought him up (not his mother) did not make life easy for him, and his main memories seemed to focus on hunger and beatings, but this story always had him crying with laughter.

One day he was playing in the back yard (paved garden lacking grass, flowers, etc) with his younger brother.  They did not have much in the way of toys and they would play with what they could find. 

On this day they found a dead rat.

So they played a game where they would throw the rat as high up in the air as they could and then try and catch it.

Great fun was being had.

Then the impossible happened.

The rat was making its decent from a very good throw, and went down the chimney.

The boys went inside to see if they could rescue their toy, but instead they found the woman at the fire, cooking a pan of sausages.  This would have been in about 1910, a lot of poor families cooked in this way.  Now the woman did not have good eyesight, but in the dim light the boys could clearly see their toy laying there in the pan alongside the sausages.

At this point the woman called out that dinner was ready.

"Sorry, not hungry!" was the hurried reply, and they were off.

I am not aware of any comeback regarding this, so what happened to the rat will never be known.  I am sure that my grandad, fond of the Old Testament as he was, hoped that the woman ate the thing - a little bit of payback for what she put him through.

Hope you haven't got sausages for dinner   :-)

Monday, 16 September 2013

A Day in London

On Sunday, Mrs RC and I headed to London for the day to meet up with a blog friend.
 
When we set off, the sky was clear and the sun was shining, but by the time we reached London, things had changed - cloud had set in and there was the constant threat of rain, with drizzle in between.
 
We met up on Vauxhall Bridge.  The south bank of the Thames has seen a lot of development in recent years.  Mrs RC said that these made her think of a hillside shanty town.  Not sure the people who paid vast amounts of cash to live here would like that comparison, but I can see it too...
 
 
 
 
Looking up river, at least one of the old land marks is still standing...

 
 
And how about this one?  Agg79 (the blogger who we met up with) recognised this as the MI5 HQ...

 
Who says that James Bond movies aren't educational?
 
We grabbed some lunch in a pub and then went for a stroll along the south bank of the Thames.  We just ambled along, sharing stories, taking photos, commenting on what caught our eye.

 
The river was fairly busy, including site seeing trips in these old amphibious trucks (DUKWs, known as Ducks)...

 
They were OK going down stream, but we saw one having a real struggle when going up stream.  Still, at least it didn't sink like one in Liverpool did a few months ago!  (I told Agg that it was one of these London ones, but was mistaken).
 
 
Although Agg79 was technically the Tourist, it has been a long time since Mrs RC and I have been in London without having a specific reason for being there.  In fact it is the first time that Mrs RC and I have actually been to London together!  So we played tourists too, taking all the tourist photos, like this one...

 
 
There is some very quirky building going on, like this thing that looks like it fell off the bottom of a Zeppelin...

 
 
Food sellers were in various vehicles too...

 
There were other special ones too, but I will let Agg talk about those as they were closer to his heart.
 
 
Anyone remember playing Lemmings?

 
Luckily, no one exploded  :-)
 
 
And here is Agg79 in action...

 
This is the Millenium Foot Bridge - very unstable when it first opened, but now fixed.  Agg slipped into Engineer mode for a moment here, working out how it stayed up.  I live it when people have something like that - I guess it is like the musician in me, who unconsciously deconstructs songs to see who is playing what...
 
 
It was at this point that we decided to cross the river and head back to our start point...

 
Here you can see The Shard on the right and the Walkie Talkie Tower (with Death Ray disabled by the weather) on the left.  Tower Bridge is in the distance.
 
The south bank of the Thames is fascinating, all sorts of stuff going on - music, mimes, moving statues, various museums, art galleries, cafes, etc, etc -  and it just draws you along.  By the time we had completed our circuit we had walked 8 miles!
 
 
On the north bank, we found this Police phone - a sort of mini Tardis...
 

 
 
Nearing the end of the "stroll".  Damp, a little foot sore (OK, VERY foot sore for Mrs RC who had managed to wear a couple of blisters but not told me) but having had a good time playing Tourist...

 
Agg79 is holding the camera - I think he should have a pic of the 2 of us together.
 
After this, we returned to the pub for a final drink before heading our seperate ways.
 
Nice to meet you again, Agg!

Friday, 13 September 2013

The Woods

Some of you may remember that back in the Spring, I started to take photos of a small area of woodland that was cleared.
 
This is how things looked in early May:
 
I decided that I would talk photos of the area twice a month for at least a year to see how quickly the area recovered - or failed to recover.
 
This is how it looks now:




I think that this is pretty impressive, don't you?  The tree stumps are busy coppicing (growing new, multiple trunks/branches), and the general ground cover is also mending itself.  The only place that seems to be really suffering is on the mid-left, where the trucks compacted the earth.

Just goes to show, there is no stopping nature, it just keeps on going.   As I often point out to people who say that Climate Change could bring about the end of the world -  No, it will only be the end of People.

To quote Jeff Goldblum:


Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Parenting

We got to see some good examples of how people bring up their children this summer - some good, some not so good IMO.

The Maltese seem to have a good way of doing things.  In the evenings we saw whole families (kids, parents, grand parents) all heading out to parks and other public places for the evening.  Near our hotel there was a play park with a bar.  The kids played, the adults had a drink and socialised, people told each others children off if things got rough.  Wonderful family time, every evening.  This seems to produce some very well adjusted teenagers, who respect their elders and each other.

When we were camping, we saw some families where the parents seemed to THINK they knew what was good for their children, but they left us feeling very uneasy.  In the worst family, the father was very authoritarian, and seemed to be drilling his children (all under 10 years old) for "success" in adult life.  His kids were not allowed to just play - everything had to be a sport, played to the rules - tennis, football, rounders/softball, etc.  No just chasing each other around, no just kicking a ball and chasing after it - it all had to be by the rules.

And then there were the constant questions.  They started at breakfast.

Name 4 countries beginning with W. 
Name 3 countries that have a consitutional monarchy.
Name 5 countries in South America.

This went on and on and on, whenever the kids give up trying to play like professional sportsmen.  Some evenings we could still hear them when we were trying to go to sleep.

The result?  As we were packing up, those kids were staging a rebellion, refusing to do what they were told, being "too busy" to help do jobs or answer questions.

Now I am all for encouraging children to do the best they can.  It is only natural for parents to want the best for their children, but this sort of constant pressure is not good for them.  I think it instills a feeling of inadequacy, that they are not good enough, not clever enough and that their parents are not really proud of them.

All of which, reminds me of a song....


Tuesday, 10 September 2013

I could have been a contender!!!!

This weekend I was in London, playing in a wargames tournament.  My army was Roman, 90BC, with some native Roman soldiers, backed up by a load of hairy Gallic mercenaries and an elephant.
 
 
This (above) was my basic battle formation - Gauls in front with flank supports, Roman Legions in the second line to go where they were needed, and the mule train hiding at the back with the army's valuables.
 

 
The elephant did sterling service in most of the games - here it is rampaging through a Chinese army.  Some of the models in my army, including the elephant, are very old and were bought on my 13th birthday!
 

 
The tournament was held at a pub in the middle of London.  Being owned by an Indian, lunch consisted of very nice curries...
 
 
I don't know how wide spread this story is, but there is a new building in London that has curved walls.

 
Being curved inwards, the light that is reflected from the windows focuses on a small area, like sun through a magnifying glass.  This became big news here when the heat melted the roof of someones car!
 
The games were all great fun and hard fought.

 
My opponents seemed to think that the hairy Gauls were an easy target for their heavy cavalry - something that they soon learned to be incorrect.  By Sunday lunchtime, I had scored a losing drawer, a winning drawer and an outright victory, and I was sitting 3rd in the league table.
 

 
Sunday lunch was very nice.
 

 
My final game was very tought - a good army being played by the best player in Britain.  I had little chance, especially when my left flank guards decided that they were not going to take part in the battle (this is a feature of the rules that can sometimes come into play, representing many battles where leaders were let down in this way).  I fought hard but was totally whipped in the end.  But I did have a glimpse of glory, and will be going back again next year with a different army to try my luck again...

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Weekend!

OK, I am starting early - please don't hate me!

I have a long and busy weekend coming up, but it looks like being good fun.

Tomorrow is to replace the weekend time with Mrs RC, as I am spending Saturday and Sunday in London playing toy soldiers.  It is tournament time!  My army (Roman with lots of hairy barbarian allies and an elephant) should be great fun to play - I am not out to win, just to have a good time, after all.  Photos of the games will be posted...

Saturday night might also be busy, as an old band friend is after me to have a jam with him at a party!  It would be good if I could fit it in, but it might get a bit tight and make me short of sleep on Sunday, but it would be good to have a play.  Might be the start of the new band that I want to get going...

Hope you all have a good weekend, when it arrives!

See you next week!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Ooh Yeah!

Back in the summer, the Uni held a photo competition on the subject of Diversity within the University.
 
I was not sure I had anything that really fitted that title, but I played with the theme of Biodiversity and selected a few entries.
 
This one was the last one that I chose, not sure whether to put it in or not...
 
 
I just heard that it came 3rd!  Woo hoo!
 
There was a small prize too - this will be used to add to my collection of Star Wars ships...
 
One addiction (photography) feeding another (Star Wars).  Not bad, IMO!

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Camping '13

We had been a bit concerned about how the weather was going to be for our camping trip this year.  The Saturday before we went saw a massive rain storm, and we were fearing the worst, especially given the lightning strike that hit the farmhouse last year...

We arrived to clear blue skies, which set the scene for our whole stay, in the end.  A bit of cloud or haze in the morning, clearing by mid morning.


The village as soon set up...


Custard is an old hand at camping now and takes it all in his stride....


Frou Frou also seemed to remember her 2 previous trips and knew what was coming...


This was Bryn's first camping trip and we did not know how she would react...


She had a splendid time, leading the way on walks, having fun finding chickens and rabbits in the hedges.  She also enjoyed visits to the butchers and being fed from the barbecue.

There was plenty to see.


This wasp was determined to share breakfast one day, stealing a piece of egg white...

video

The farm goats were on best behavior this year and did not escape and rampage through the camp site once!


That was left to the chickens....


Walks took us past lots of other farms with their livestock.  Always nice to see.



The sunsets were rather splendid, but I managed to miss most of them...


One thing we love about this area is that the public footpaths are all well marked and accessible, even when they go right through a wheat field...


Or the woods...


You can tell you are really in the country when the roads get this narrow...



I often got left behind on walks, trying to get that special photo...



A great time had by all!  Now life returns to normal, next stop Christmas for us Brits!  Hope you all had a good summer, we certainly did!