Tweets on 2008-12-31

  • A weird conversation has led to us having “my old man’s a dustman” to the tune of Black hills of Dakota on the brain. #
  • Trying and failing to get new doorbell out of “Big Ben” mode and into “Hilarious saxophone” #
  • Popping out for a lab coat and a stench frick. #
  • Black Hills of Dakota have morphed seamlessly into Father Abraham Had Seven Sons #
  • Popping out for a lab coat and a stench frick. #
  • Goodness, the weather station at the bottom of the garden is reading -5.1 deg. #
  • Beaver almost as heavy as @katebevan shocker http://tr.im/2rgw #
  • Hmm – is now two degrees warmer at the bottom of the garden. #

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Tweets on 2008-12-30

  • Cauliflower cheese goes into the oven for the last few minutes of the baked potato cooking time. Mmmmm :) :) #
  • Popping rice pudding into oven. Top tip: stir every 30 minutes. #
  • @helenduffett no more stirring – eating! in reply to helenduffett #
  • @hannahvictorious Did Widow Twankee knock of Yu Dun Wun Long Poo’s hat during the plate smashing? :) #
  • @helenduffett http://twitpic.com/xp9u – My goodness such good value! And six of them are only 1/5th your entire daily calorie allowance :) in reply to helenduffett #
  • @hannahvictorious Nope, no two little boys on 20th! #
  • Remembering in the nick of time that the German for “nephew” is a weak masculine noun. #
  • @helenduffett I scatter these little jokes around that only a few people will understand, so it’s all the better when people do :) in reply to helenduffett #

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How to get 4 pans dirty making cauliflower cheese

To make cauliflower cheese, you need to get at least four cooking receptacles, a sieve and a chopping board dirty – if not more. Here’s how, cauli cheese for 2:

Chop up one cauliflower and discard the tough bits and outer leaves

Take the first pan (medium) and boil the cauliflower from cold – approx 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, take a milk pan and half an onion studded with cloves. Add 300ml milk and bring to the boil.

When the milk has boiled turn the gas off and leave to sit infusing the flavours from the onion and cloves until the cauliflower is only slightly crunchy.

Meanwhile grate approx 200gr strongly flavoured cheese – I used half parmesan and half mature cheddar.

In a third pan, melt a knob of butter and stir in a big spoon of flour. Stir vigorously until mixed, then slowly pour in the milk through a sieve to trap the flavourings, whisking all the while.

Whisk until no lumps remain, then add the cheese and whisk until it has melted, then add a spoonful of Dijon mustard and mix some more.

Butter a fourth pan, the dish it will go into the oven in, put the cooked, drained cauliflower in, then pour over the completed sauce.

Scatter a little more cheese across the top and put under a grill for 5-10 minutes until the mix is browned.

Voilà – one cauliflower cheese, four dirty pans.

Tweets on 2008-12-28

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Talking of Twitter

A meme has been doing the rounds amongst seasoned twitterers to find who you followed first. If you hop along to this helpful website it will tell you.

It told me that the first person I followed was Alan Fleming, who now seems to twitter once a day, like clockwork, and seldom blog. You can read my first post about Twitter here – and Alan’s here.

As you’ll see from my post, it was a toss-up between Alan and Troubled Diva about who it was who really first got me into Twitter.

It’s rather flattering, but since the meme came along, at least three people have disclosed that they followed me first, so I got them hooked. (@willhowells, @jonxyz and @rfenwick)

But perhaps the tallest claim I can make in relation to Twitter is that I got the Lib Dems tweeting. You can see from my first blog post on the subject that I thought politics was ripe for the twittering. I suggested it in a forum to the Innovations Dept, who were at first hostile, and then later took to it like ducks to crepuscular water. That led quickly to Lynne Featherstone MP taking up the twitter baton and it spread through the party and then through UK politics more generally.

Of course, had I not come along, the Lib Dems and politics more generally would have caught on to twitter without me just fine.  I’m sure Innovations had been thinking about twitter before I made my suggestion.  And the US presidential election was a massive time for twittering to catch on in US politics – @barackobama, @hilaryclinton and @fakesarahpalin all made their marks.

Don’t pee in public

For the last few days, Twitter has been alive with people across the world forwarding links to this story on the local BBC site.

Apparently some prankster with a colour printer and a laminating machine has been making extremely official looking signs telling Nottingham’s revellers that they are allowed to urinate in certain spots after nightfall. A further letter with the official council logo on it explains that the spots will be cleaned by the Council in the early hours of the morning.

This is of course not true. It is not permitted to urinate in public anywhere in the city, and although a small army of people clean the city centre in the early hours of every morning, there is no group tasked with hosing urine off walls in back alleys.

Nonetheless, there are no public toilets in the city centre at night. During the day, there is a brand new, award winning toilet including an extra wide “changing places” toilet for the disabled. Unfortunately this is down a side street that whilst it is in the very centre of town, is a little difficult to find. My council colleague Cllr Marshall has been campaigning for ages for better signs pointing it out, as the current ones are a master of design, in that they look quite good, but fail to do the job of pointing things out, because they are quite small.

Councils are in a bit of a bind about public toilets. They are expensive to clean and maintain. Mindless vandals damage them. And even the busiest toilets in public places can find themselves being misused by gentleman seeking a different sort of relief, unless you fork out even more for an attendant. Over the last ten years, Nottingham has been closing the grottiest underground lavs, including the ones in Market Square, Theatre Square, Trinity Square, the Maid Marion Way underpass.

And yet there are a lot of people who come to Nottingham at night specifically to drink, whose late night needs are not catered for. If you ask the Council what people who are caught short are supposed to do, the official response comes back that people should go before they leave the establishments in which they have been drinking. This leads to a rather odd thought that bouncers should be redeployed to asking patrons “have you been?” on their way out.

Perhaps a better solution would be to adopt a version of Kingston’s Community Toilets scheme – local pubs and caffs are paid a small amount annually to make their toilets available to the public as well as patrons. The cost to the council is significantly lower than staffing their own toilets, and because they are in active premises they are less likely to be abused by the public.