Surface meteorological data for Nottingham

I was looking up sunrise/sunset data for Nottingham, and this website gives a fascinating data table for what weather to expect in this part of the world.

Nottingham, United Kingdom – Solar energy and surface meteorology

Variable I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X XI XII
Insolation, kWh/m²/day 0.63 1.17 2.14 3.28 4.29 4.47 4.47 3.78 2.61 1.46 0.72 0.47
Clearness, 0 – 1 0.32 0.34 0.37 0.39 0.41 0.39 0.41 0.41 0.38 0.34 0.30 0.30
Temperature, °C 4.50 4.52 6.08 7.69 11.02 14.29 16.93 17.17 14.63 11.32 7.50 5.44
Wind speed, m/s 7.70 7.31 7.05 6.01 5.49 5.07 5.04 5.36 6.11 6.73 6.97 7.39
Precipitation, mm 56 47 50 49 52 56 53 60 54 53 57 61
Wet days, d 17.8 14.6 16.3 14.7 14.8 13.2 12.1 14.0 12.9 15.1 16.3 16.7


These data were obtained from the NASA Langley Research Center Atmospheric Science Data Center; New et al. 2002

It’s interesting how little variation there is throughout the year. Clearly sunshine and temperature change with the seasons with the best insolation – the sunshine that falls on the ground – in May, June and July. So a better early part of the year is good for the for solar panel than sunshine during the school holidays.

But for the other data there’s really very little change. The average rainfall per month varies from 47-60. Wet days are more or less the same every month, with only a five day difference. And the wind speed average barely changes at all.

How wrong I was

A random spammy comment comes in on an old post, driving me back to look at a pair of posts I wrote two years ago: Oh my God, they killed Twitter! and My first morning in the New World.

They were both written at around the time Twitter turned off the part of their service that I had used a huge amount at the time, the SMS messages.

Now it’s hard to imagine Twitter working that way. At the time they turned it off, it had just started to tip a balance for me personally that the number of messages I was getting was a little OTT. I follow far more people now than I ever did when I still got the messages by text.

And Twitter appears to be going from strength to strength, despite my Cassandra predictions 24 months ago. 3G mobile internet has become more a part of my life than I ever imagined it would.

Charlotte Gore’s train experience

Really loved Charlotte Gore’s blog post about taking the California Zephyr, a truly epic four-day train journey the entire length of the USA, from New York to San Francisco

[W]aking up in Denver and then making our way through the most literally breathtaking landscape I’ve ever seen – first the Colorado Rockies then watching the sun go down on the monumentally epic mountains in Utah… I don’t know how I’m going to ever be content with Yorkshire now. Damn. The day after the train goes through the Sierra Nevada mountains and it’s goo goo time, your brain is gone. That’s it.

America… it turns out… is a truly beautiful country. The magnificence of the scenery is then added to by the sheer audacity, courage and engineering-fu to build a train line all the way through it, not to mention everything else they’ve done to this continent.

The only halfway epic rail journeys I’ve done have been sleeper trains across Europe – from Magdeburg to Paris when I switched countries half way through my degree year abroad; and more recently I travelled to Munich by sleeper. On the return leg of that journey, I had the brain-wrenching experience of trying to translate from German to French whilst half asleep at 3am. ((“‘Travailler’, das heisst reisen, oder? / Nein, ‘travailler’ das heisst arbeiten”)) I had been rather surprised that in the four berth sleeper car, it was me and a woman who got on two hours after me, when all the literature suggested the sleeper cars would be segregated by gender. Three hours into the night, and the German woman woke me up to tell me that her handbag had been stolen – lifted off her feet by someone who opened the door from the outside. I helped a little in the conversation between the French-speaking guard and the German woman. In fact, I had probably heard the burglary happen whilst barely asleep, as the door opening makes a noise. I had just assumed it was my co-passenger getting up for a toilet break.

So, if you ever travel by sleeper train, make sure you lock your door at night.

USA, Europe – I have occasionally been reading the website www.seat61.com and getting carried away by the ideas of some of the epic journeys you can do – in particular, the 9 day journey from London to Beijing, via Brussels, Cologne, Moscow and the Trans-Mongolian or the Trans-Siberian railway.

Just how many books would you need to occupy yourself in all that time? ((would it be safe to take one’s Amazon Kindle or would it be flaunting Western wealth and inviting robbery? Would you even be able to charge it?)) How much would it be entertaining and how much of an ordeal?

I particularly like the detail that Russian trains have a samovar in each compartment, so if you stock up with tea bags and instant soup you can provide some of your own food.

A more general problem with holidays and travel

I’m skint and fairly time poor. As a result of making a few ferry journeys, investing a wee bit of an inheritance in HPB, and joining the Camping and Caravanning club, ((I want to build a camping pod in the garden to replace the current battered shed)) every week brings more and more interesting glossy holiday brochures through the letter box.

There are all these wonderful offers and interesting places to visit, and there’s little prospect of me being able to do any more than a fraction of them. Meh.

What have I been cooking this week?

Well. After a few weeks of cooking nothing at all and eating rubbish, this week I’ve cooked loads – but not necessarily eaten terribly well.

For Pudding Club on Tuesday, I made celery and stilton soup, rillettes de porc, and onion and bacon fougasse.

Celery and stilton soup as per this Gordon Ramsey recipe, pretty much as writ. Ended up rather stringy, and apparently the way to avoid this is to take a potato peeler to the ridgey side of the celery sticks before you chop them up.

Twenty years ago, when my despairing parents were trying to get us to eat more vegetables, celery made its appearance for the first time in our household, finely chopped, in casseroles. We were deeply suspicious – and they wouldn’t tell us what it was. It went by the name “crinkle cut onions” for a quite a while. These days, I’m a big fan of celery, raw with cheese and grapes, with the leaves sticking out of a Bloody Mary, finely chopped in soffrito-based sauces and cooking, and of course in casseroles.

The rillettes de porc came from this recipe on Dried Basil and again was pretty much as per the recipe. Except… I used pork belly rashers rather than a single joint, as that was what was available. 500grams of pork rendered down to two ramekinsworth. Halfway through the cooking it looked scarily like all that water was never going to disappear, but all was fine by the end of the cooking. And it proved quite tricky to pour the melted fat from the baking dish to the serving dish without just getting it everywhere. This would make a fantastic dinner party starter, but a whole ramekinsworth is way too much for an individual serving, so I would have to find some way of presenting it in smaller portions if being fancy.

The bacon and onion fougasse came from this recipe, again, made pretty much as per the instructions, except that their picture of a fougasse is awful! I was really trying to make mine look a little more like these gorgeous pictures on a random Scandiwegian flickr account:

Fougasse Fougasse Fougasse Fougasse Fougasse Fougasse

But it didn’t quite come out like that, and my version was more like the BBC Good Food version that I would have liked. It was also more than halfway to pretzel – but tasted damn fine, if I do say so myself.

Hmm, bacon and onion fougasse looks like some awful scary horror mask. Bacon and onion fougasse

So, that was Tuesday. Also this week, Kathryn’s post prompted me to make a carrot cake – I think the recipe is the same one, and can be found on the net here. Mostly per recipe, but I didn’t have the right nuts so used mixed chopped; and discovered very late in that I have run out of sultanas, so substituted candied peel, which I did have.

I think this was also my second use of my food processor’s grating attachment. I remember it as being hugely wasteful, but it got through the three carrots in the blink of an eye and did a really good job, with only a small amount of the tail end of the carrot ungrated.

http://rcm-uk.amazon.co.uk/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=nileshomepag&o=2&p=8&l=as1&m=amazon&f=ifr&md=0M5A6TN3AXP2JHJBWT02&asins=B002BC9YGQ And rewatching 30 Rock last week sent me googling to try and find out what a “snickerdoodle” is – at one point Liz Lemon is being nice to her team and they start expecting her to bake snickerdoodles for them.

Turns out they are pretty simple but tasty biscuits. I found a recipe on Joy of Baking. By the time it came to make them, I was running low on eggs, so I halved the recipe. That still came out with well over two dozen finished biscuits, which is more than enough for us.

Chatting about 30 Rock on Tuesday was enough to finally convince P he would like to try and watch it, so a box set has been procured to take with us on honeymoon. I have no objection to watching it yet again!

Here’s a pic of the weekend’s cakes:

So, snickerdoodles and carrot cake.

Calling Kindle owners (and would-be owners)

http://rcm-uk.amazon.co.uk/e/cm?t=libedemovoic-21&o=2&%23038;p=26&%23038;l=ur1&%23038;category=kindlestore&%23038;banner=1QVAVYTJKE8XAVG9FP82&%23038;f=ifr

The Amazon Kindle is a new, cynical way of Amazon selling books without having to pay postage modern format of reading content without having to waste trees.

Amazon have recently redesigned their e-reader and is selling the new one with much fanfare. You can pre-order it right now and have it arrive just in time for conference – which hopefully will mean you can read your conference papers on it, if you have opted for paperless confereeing this year.

And, what, I hear the tumults call, will happen to Lib Dem Voice?

Well, worry ye not, for LDV is also available on Kindle. Click here for a trial subscription: LibDemVoice on Amazon Kindle

Slightly strangely, given that practically no costs are incurred by anyone other than us, a subscription will cost you a princely £1.99 a month. We submitted the blog to Amazon and it will be us who benefit from nearly all of that money – we were not in the same boat as Iain Dale who was a little surprised to find others charging for his content.

Of course, if you think the content we produce here is worth £2 a month, and you don’t have a Kindle, you are more than welcome to cut out the middle-person and donate it to us directly by standing order.

You can also donate money to us indirectly by using any of the book or technology links on our blog to buy stuff from Amazon. As Amazon Associates, we take a small cut of your spend.

You may also be interested in:

Technology update – Kindle ordered

A bit of tech banter with Labour activist ((how demeaning to reduce a person to one trait. I’ve never met him or spoken to him in person, but I know he’s also a beer drinker, a cricket watcher and Scampi Fries enthusiast – and I fear that if I say anything even vaguely positive about him it will end up in a leaflet with TOP LIB DEM RECOMMENDS LABOUR VOTE all over it at the next Council elections)) reminds me to share the news that I have made one decision after my tech wavering, leaving plenty more up in the air.

So, I convinced myself that I do, in fact, need an Amazon Kindle, and have plumped for the Wifi version, which I have pre-ordered and hope to receive before Lib Dem conference.

I can’t possibly carry that many books with me on our honeymoon, and so a technological response is called for.

If I’m canny, I could even subscribe to free fortnights worth of trial magazine subs and cancel them on my return.

An entirely technological response however, won’t be feasible, as I will still be buying some books. The basic compromise I have made with myself is that those books that I would normally pass around the family, that can be bought cheaply second hand, will still be bought as books. I shall need the latest secondhand paperback Evanovichs and Graftons and Reichs. ((I still wouldn’t spring for the hardback prices)) And I’ll always have a quick look at prices across multiple formats to check there aren’t cheaper alternatives.

(commercial break:)

So in preparing for my new arrival, I have already bought a few books to put on the Kindle. I thought I would go for stuff I know I like, because I can probably get absorbed into that quickly enough to get over the weirdness of a new format.

The four titles I’ve paid for for my Kindle are:

Monstrous Regiment – a Pratchett. Haven’t read any pterry for ages, so now is as good a time as any to catch up.

Girl with a Dragon Tatoo – Stieg Larsson, I think I remember reading somewhere, has made a massive milestone in terms of ebook sales, so I thought I would help out.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – well, why not?
4-hour Work Week – I keep buying self help titles and then ignoring them. I read Getting Things Done
when we were on holiday, so why not this too?

In addition to paid-for titles, there is a wealth of free, classic texts available for Kindle, including anything available on Gutenberg. So the following have also made their way onto my Kindle, when it finally arrives:

  • Adventures of Sherlock Homes
  • Treasure Island
  • Homer’s Iliad
  • Heart of Darkness
  • The Detective Stories of Charles Dickens
  • Chocolate and Cocoa Recipes
  • Dracula’s Guest
  • Life on the Mississippi
  • The Captain’s Toll-Gate
  • Welsh Fairy Tales
  • The French Revolution (Thomas Carlyle)
  • A Rogue’s Life (Wilkie Collins)
  • Prisona of Zender
  • Beasts and Superbeasts (Saki)
  • When William Came (Saki)
  • The Toys of Peace (Saki)

Unresolved tech decisions

Still no decision made about new laptop – and I still need it before Conference in late September.

I have totally ruled out an iPad. Nice, but too expensive.

And still no decision about a new phone. Orange have confirmed that I am now entitled to a free upgrade, although it would be another few months before I could freely leave for another network.

I think I have decided to go for an Android phone not an iPhone as the latest iPhone is so expensive and not readily available.

I’m seriously considering changing networks – only really for better reception in the vicinity of Nottingham city centre, and London. It’s all but impossible to connect to the internet on 3G anywhere in the city centre and anywhere in London. There’s a point on the Mansfield Road coming home from town, usually around the General Cemetary, when all the text messages I should have had during the afternoon suddenly arrive at once, as I change cell towers. When I came home from London after the week singing, all the photos I’d been trying to send to the internet for a week just magically uploaded in a few minutes, when it wasn’t possible to send them at all before.

Having looked closely at tariffs, it doesn’t appear any other company can beat what I currently have on Orange, particularly now they are rewarding my decadesworth of monthly payments, so the only question is – is it worth the hassle of changing networks for the unknown carrot of better 3G reception on another operator? I can’t know whether I will get better reception until I’ve already committed to a two year contract with someone else!