Spending time on Wikipedia

I’ve been spending more time on Wikipedia. Half the time I go there because something I’ve Googled has thrown up a wikipedia link amongst the first few.

But I like the site, and have been visiting more often. Now the main page is my homepage, I find my self contributing occasionally, making pedantic alterations, and I now have a user page.

So far the only thing on it is boxes.




Originally uploaded by nilexuk.

The train is so expensive. The fare – nearly a tenner – is just the start. The killer is that at both ends I have to walk past a series of distractions: evil takeaways, chocolate machines, sandwich shops, coffee and cake concessions, purveyors of paperbacks, market stalls. It was tipping it down last night and I blew a tenner on a taxi home as a treat. It all adds up. And seriously diminishes my chances of eating sensible food at home.

Missed train

Missed train

Originally uploaded by nilexuk.

With my car still unreliable, I thought I’d take the train to work. Unlike the last time I tried it, when I sat on a non-moving train for ages before it finally departed, this morning’s left bang on time, leaving me and about four other passengers behind cursing its departing carriages.

I would have caught the wretched thing if it hadn’t been for sodding “revenue protection staff” forming a physical barrier and forcing me to waste a valuable 5 minutes buying my ticket instead of deferring the purchase to ontrain staff if and when they deign to show themselves.

So, I find myself with an hour to kill kicking my heels at Nottingham Midland railway station. I spend most of it half-peoplewatching half-paperback novel reading. While Kinsey flies out to Fort Worth, I’m trying to suppress the psychopathy bubbling over that threatens to send me amok among the passengers.

Braying fools in expensive suits and ostentatious cufflinks. Leisure travellers dawdling at the ticket counter, not knowing what type of ticket they want, and in two minds even about their destination. The pillocks who reserve seats then don’t show up. The wanker who wrote the script for the woman who taped the announcements. The cretin who thought up the pricelist for the refreshment trolley. The drunk (at 10am?!) pillocks singing, for some unfathomable reason, the theme from The Italian Job.

It’s a far cry from my normal 35 minutes up the M1 with John Waite and Winnifred Robinson. Even if they do sometimes bring on the same psychopathic reaction.

Impromptu jam-making

Apple JellyI’ve just been browsing through Nibblous, the cooking website run by cix friends, and found MYM’s 24-hour apple terrine. I didn’t have any woodruff, or lemons, or 16 granny smith apples, or even a 10″ loaf tin but I did have 6 or so coxes that needed using up — that were already too soft for normal eating — and a tiny half-pound loaf tin.

So I set to work. Once peeled, you can run the apples up and down the cucumber slicer on the box grater much quicker than you slice them finely manually. Making caramel is always exciting. (Washing up afterwards, much less so…)

What with my computer upstairs and the kitchen downstairs, I always read through a recipe, commit the vital parts to memory, and then recreate in front of the cooker. I almost never get a recipe exactly right first time. Over the weekend, I was discussing this with a friend — he thinks the first time, you should make it exactly as per the recipe, and then adapt it to your tastes later. I just muck about with what’s in front of me, omitting things I just don’t plain like, adapting the quantities to suit how I like things.

This apple terrine probably has vastly too much ground cinnamon in, on coming back upstairs to check the recipe.

After completing the terrine part of things, double-wrapping it and putting it in the larder to chill until tomorrow, I saw the forlorn-looking square apple cores and peelings in a heap waiting to go in the compost, and thought it was rather a waste.

An Announcement in the newsgroup uk.media.radio.archers earlier this evening told me that the UMRA Cookbook had recently been updated, and so I had spent some time there. There was a onion marinade recipe attributed to me that I have no recollection of at all, and when I was reading that, I noticed Vicky’s Apple Jelly recipe calling for cores, peelings and windfalls, and thought I could make jelly out of my remains.

I boiled up the six cores and associated peelings with a cinnamon stick snapped into small pieces, and managed about a third of a pint of cloudy pink apple juice. Hunting around the kitchen for the sieve and the pack of muslin squares, neither turned up. I vaguely recall that we threw the sieve away because it was in the sink when we were broken into last Christmas, and we couldn’t be sure we’d got all the bits of glass out. The muslin squares — who knows? I’ve not used them since we moved in December, so they may not yet be unpacked.

So, I strained the apple pulp through the colander, using the potato masher to get more out of the pulp. Considering that, the resultant third of a pint of juice was fairly clear. Added to 5oz of jam sugar, boiled until setting point satisfactory, it made just under a small-jarful. Tastes wonderful, going by the cooled scrapings eaten from the pan with the wooden spoon.

I never set out to make jam tonight.

And it never ceases to amaze me how quickly the kitchen goes from more-or-less clean to cluttered with dirty pans on every conceivable surface.

Safely home

Safely home

Originally uploaded by nilexuk.

A great weekend. Weather kind, although beautiful cloudless starry nights were very cold. Our duvet sandwich kept up toasty warm, sending others out to buy more duvets! Relied on friends to drive us everywhere offsite, not quite trusting the car, but when it came to driving home, we did make it all the way back without needing to summon the AA. Days took us to the Sandringham house itself, to Hunstanton and to see Norfolk Lavender. Tea-rooms aplenty. BBQ, booze and chocolate all round.

Nick of time

Nick of time

Originally uploaded by nilexuk.

Arrive at travel tavern just in time: thermometer needle on car edging into the red. Engine gurgling as we got out. This shouldn’t still be happening – I just had a new radiator put in. Will have to refill in the morning and hope it gets us the rest of the way there. We’ll have to come back in stages. Bah!

Haunting sound

Even if you don’t care for bellringers and their foibles, please go and have a look at this link, and click the MP3 for the sample of ringing on the minor 10, half-muffled, at Worcester Cathedral.

It’s a haunting sound.  The striking isn’t perfect (but then most of you won’t know what means) but the sound is… unique. Amazing.  Addictive.  I have to keep playing it.  I might hack it about and have it as my e-mail notification beep, or my SMS tone.

The accompanying blurb says the semitone bells installed to create the minor peal of 10 are unique.  They’re rung for “Armistice, New Year’s Day and other solemn occasions,” including last year’s War Requiem in the Three Choirs.



Sandringham’s long-range forecast is looking great now.

Just yesterday, it still had for Friday, which didn’t seem good for putting up tents. But that’s all gone. Of course, as veterans of Shell Island‘s microclimate, we don’t trust the long-rage WHATSOEVER. Our tent still shows the damage Force 8 winds can do.

We’ve decided to leave late on Thursday night, put up at the Linton Travel Tavern, have breakfast on a Big Plate before sauntering into Sandringham as soon as the camp site opens. Save ourselves having to drive so much during B. Hol traffic.

I’ve been to do the stocking up on camping food for this year. I’ve bought forty-quidsworth of various canned meats, coronation chicken, tinned veggies, tinned fruit, cereal variety packs, fruit juice and long life milk bricks. We probably won’t eat very much of it in Sandringham, as the whole gang of us (three couples, two tents and a caravan) seem to be planning on eating in pubs, supermarkets and barbecues over the weekend. Pubs? Supermarkets? Over a bank holiday weekend? It’ll all end in tears, hence the survival pack of tinned protein.

Whatever we don’t eat in Sandringham will last for the next camping trips over the summer. We’re currently planning one or two big gay trips to Shell Island, and a week in Normandy to celebrate some cix friends of mine opening a vegan gite at Cerisy La Foret only a handful of miles from my friends in Calvados.

Note to self – don’t forget tin opener. And don’t forget the booze.  Sleeping is going to be hard enough!


I’ve just been distracted from watching The IT Crowd (not the one with the fire but close) by some large heavy vehicle struggling to get past the cars parked outside our house.

“What lorry is trying to get up here at 3.20am?” I thought to myself and peered through the curtains.

A fire engine.

Fair enough.

I found myself putting on my coat and going to take some things to the postbox, and, you know, just incidentally rubbernecking a tiny bit as well.  Going down the hill, couldn’t see much.  Coming back up, saw a huge great plume of smoke between the houses.  There’s clearly a nasty fire going on.  Two tenders and an ambulance in attendance.  The crackle of radios.  No sirens, not in the middle of the night, but engine noises as they pump water, and louder than that, but still unintelligible, the sound of the radio. Not actually crackling, but an urgent conversation between a woman and a man.

I could see about 8 firemen in full gear including breathing apparatus storming the house.  Huge amounts of white smoke billowing out of an open window.

The detail that really surprised me was the water streaming down the hill.

Hope everyone’s OK.

And maybe I’ll take P’s worries about smoke alarms a bit more seriously.