Friday, 17 December 2010

Christmas Cometh!

Well, that was the last day of term! Although it felt suspiciously free, owing to not actually having any classes on Friday. I woke up to the blare of the block doorbell - someone trying to give me a package! I leapt out bed, donned a fleece in a panic and dashed to the door in case the 'someone' tried to take my package away... but the dude was waiting, so I eagerly gathered up my 'stocking' (Santa works in wonderful ways), and capered back to my bedroom, where I gloated over my prize. It was even labeled "From: S. Claus". I was considering putting up a picture, but then decided against it as most of the pic was taken up by MY ADDRESS IN BIG LETTERS which may not have been the best idea.

I've had the brilliant idea of actually sending a Christmas present to (among other people) my godparents and a grandpa in London, rather than just the thank-you letter that usually finds its way into a postbox around February. I've got some biscotti in the making which I shall package well, and send off to various lucky people. It is in fact cinnamon and sugar biscotti, and I am very grateful to Joy the Baker for posting this fabulous recipe in... umm... January? Oh well.

The uncut log
 The first time I made this recipe, it was for the Birmingham Conservatoire Camerata during our tea break, but I misjudged how much the recipe would make - i.e. I ate quite a few bits during the process - and was forced to cut the pieces in half to ensure everyone got a piece. They all enjoyed it, which was good. Can't for the life of me remember what we actually sang during the rehearsal though...
I made a biscotti tower... straaange person that I am
I am an ardent stumbler and have just happened upon the mathematical doodling videos of Vi Hart, incredible pieces of work and great fun to watch. But now I must leave all you (invisible, nonexistent) lovely people and go to bed, as tomorrow I am getting paid to sing carols in Nottingham - whoop, the moolah!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Wanted: Mr. Mo, and his Lasses

A serious crime has been perpetrated! A renegade baker, known only as 'Mo', raided a bank today, assisted by some well-known and also some less-known sidekicks. The old standby 'Mrs. Breadflour' was there, of course, only just having finished a conviction for creating counterfeit crusts. Her partner in crime, Friar Yeast, was also present. Unusually for Mo, he made use of the skills of 'Carroway and Fennel', a duo known for their use of carefully wafted odours to take out unsuspecting guards. Breadflour's daughter, Ryeflour, has no previous convictions, but has obviously been drawn into his family's tradition of nefarious deeds. A 'Ms Cocoa' is being questioned regarding reports that she instructed a co-defendant, Nikel, to use his shotgun on the people insided the bank, shouting "pump her, Nikel!"

Some of the stash of dangerous-smelling goods

About 30 people were knocked out with a new concoction created specifically for the event. What's more, when they came around, the ammunition had taken effect! Police are investigating possible use of narcotics designed to stimulate craving, as the victims of this merciless gang took to devouring them as fast as they could. In a statement made after recovering from burns to the inside of the mouth, one victim complained that "it lies rather heavily on the stomach."

One of the pieces of ammunition, rescued halfway through being devoured
A set of documents codenamed "bake it" is said to have been leaked from Murdoch Books, which supposedly contains plans for such an outrageous weapon. There are several possible authors, but any convictions are likely to be overturned as the content is widely available to the general public.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Annoyed about the ocean

More specifically, about what we're doing to it. In fact, I was getting really angry. Watching videos on is often 'inspiring' and 'jaw-dropping', to use the adjectives with which they rate their videos. But despite knowing about what bottom-trawling does to sea-floor life, having graphic representations of the results makes my blood boil. This video features over- and under-water photography by Brian Skerry, all of which is beautiful, some of which is horrible. A fisherman's hands holding about 8 shrimp, caught in an hour, and in the background, the rubbish, the 'bycatch'. What a waste.

I believe a goodly portion of my distaste for waste comes directly from my mum, whose nose wrinkles at the mere thought of throwing out the smallest scrap of material that could have some conceivable use.... AT ALL. But having a dislike for waste isn't bad, it can inspire you to think of novel uses for stuff you might otherwise just chuck. For example, I recently made a knife block (I bought some knives that didn't come with one) purely out of cardboard I had received as packaging, and sellotape. Of course, it's not very good, but it'll do for now, and was great fun to make! Other methods than throwing away of used stuff are important - compost and recycling - because otherwise it ends up in landfill, rotting and creating more CO2 (which we REALLY don't need) or in the sea, killing wildlife and creating massive rubbish patches the size of Texas (roughly) which swirl around in the Pacific, and maybe the Atlantic also.

So the lesson we must learn from this, is: buy British-produced goods, as this prevents the necessity of shipping them, creating air-pollution, and submarine noise-pollution (animals like whales sing over large distances); buy products with less packaging; buy fish from companies that fish sustainably, and of species that aren't nearly extinct. You can choose between being able to eat cod, or your grandchildren being able to do so. If you eat it, cod populations won't recover, if you don't (and actively persuade others not to), stocks MAY someday recover to the extent that we can cautiously begin to fish them again.... but in a way that respects the other sea-life, and isn't wasteful. My post barely touches the surface of what we're doing to the ocean. Read about it. Spread the word, if you ever want anyone to eat fish (well, particular species), you can't. Also, shark-fin soup? Just... just no.

To finish up, I give you a pic by Brian Skerry to prove that I'm not all doom and gloom. This Right whale was very inquisitive, and was unlikely to have come across humans before. This is why we sign pledges and make noise. This is why we care.

As the picture says, taken by Mr. Skerry, owned by Nat. Geo.