2019/06: Toilet Guru

I have spent an obscene amount of time reading about toilets on toilet-guru.com. I love websites like this, and the people that create them.


I’ve redesigned this website with the aim of going ‘back to basics’ so it’s mainly plain HTML and only a small amount of CSS. I have limited design skills, but to my eyes it it looks clean.


We finished watching the second series of Killing Eve. It was very good, but perhaps not as good as the first series. I’ll watch the third if they make one.


I’m out of words for this week, but I prefer to end on an even number – in much the same way as I can’t stop filling my car with fuel until the total is a round number. It’s nearly August. Can you believe it?


2019/05: Hot winds

Earlier this week my youngest daughter complained to me that she had ‘fizzy feet’, by which meant she had ‘pins and needles’. One of the interesting things about being a child is that you sometimes have to create new words for things if you haven’t yet learned the correct one – and sometimes they are better than the real one.


Having finished Micro Adventures by Alistair Humphries I now desperately want to go camping. I used to go camping all the time; usually with a tent and some home comforts but NEVER on a campsite, so wild-camping isn’t new to me – but Alistair feels strongly that a tent is just a more rubbish version of being indoors, so I’m on the lookout for a bivvy bag to see if he is right.


When travelling through York I passed a Chinese takeaway called ‘Hot Winds’. This is either a really terrible name or a really brilliant one. I can’t decide.


I have a love hate relationship with podcasts. I can go months without listening to one and then I’ll find something I really like and binge listen. This week I listened to ‘Who the Hell is Hamish?’ from The Australian newspaper. It was grand.


One of the good things about these ‘week notes’ is that no one really cares if you’re a couple of days late.

However your week has gone, it’s been better than this guys:


2019/04: Take a hike

Fifty thousand people have signed up to a ‘joke’ Facebook event with the aim of mass-storming Area 51. I’m worried that a proportion of these people are not joking.


I’m still shocked at how much I have been spending on food. I weighed myself on Monday to cement the general feeling I have of disappointment with myself.


We’re in that phase of the year where we have not yet acclimatised to the weather, so we spend a good portion of our time complaining that it’s too hot, too dry and that spring was too short. We spent the preceding six months complaining that it was too cold, too wet and that winter was too long. If we’re not talking about Brexit, we’re talking about the weather.


I really like the North American word ‘hike’. I don’t think we have an equivalent in British English. We use ‘walk’ to define any length of journey by foot. It could equally mean a quick walk to the shops, or a walk from Lands End to John o’ Groats. A hike sounds like a proper walk. Hills climbed. Energy expended. Maps read. Like the one so beautifully described this week by Neil Steinberg. A walk is just a.. walk.


I have little else to say this week – except please don’t go on any unnecessary journeys to top-secret military bases.


2019/03: Roast Beef

My daughter stood on the scales and asked if the displayed figure was the weight of her whole body or just her feet, which is a reasonable question really.


I can hear my backup disks writing data when I wake up in a morning. You can’t do that with SSDs.


There was a lot of lot of garden maintenance this week.


I discovered that my bank can show me the total I have spent at a retailer – thus this role of shame from the past eleven months:

  • £359.55 at Greggs
  • £70.73 at Cooplands Bakers
  • £707.99 at Amazon (to which my daughter exclaimed ‘think of all the stuff you could have bought with that!’ and all I could think of was the stuff on my Amazon Wishlist)
  • £166.60 at McDonalds

We had family round for lunch at the weekend. I cooked roast beef for six people and it wasn’t a complete disaster.


I’m in an XMPP chat room where one of the young participants is doing an ad-hoc trip around Europe. Someone asked where he was at and the response was ‘Cycling to Denmark’. We all accepted this as a perfectly normal thing. The internet is sometimes a wonderful place.

Perfectly normal..

Simple bread recipe

I’ve used this recipe with a reasonable amount of success over the past month or so. It’s dead easy to make and tastes great. It’s also pretty cheap. Once you have all the ingredients in stock, you’re looking at about 50p per loaf.

You will need:

  • 650 g (1lb 7oz) of strong white bread flour

  • 2 teaspoons of salt (reduce if you like)

  • 1 teaspoon of sugar

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil of choice (or butter)

  • 2 teaspoons Easy Bake Yeast (or one of the little 7g sachets of yeast from Tesco)

  • 400 ml (14 fl oz) of warm water (1 part boiling 2 parts cold)


Method

First, mix your flour, salt and sugar in a bowl, finally adding the yeast and vegetable oil. Mix together thoroughly. Make a well in the middle of your mixture and pour some of your water in it. Now fold your flour into the well, stirring constantly. Continue to add the rest of your water until you have a thick unwieldy but pliable mixture which is slightly sticky. The mixture shouldn’t stick to the sides of the bowl, but should pick up the remaining flour in the bowl as you are stirring.

Now the fun bit. First, flour your hands and also sprinkle some on the work surface.

Slap the dough down on it and knead it for ten minutes. This is the most important step in the whole process and the end result will reflect how well this has been done. Kneading takes a bit of practice but the basic premise is to compress and fold the mixture. Don’t be afraid to put your whole weight into it.

Now it’s time to let the yeast do its work. Place it back into your mixing bowl and cover with cling-film (or a tea towel). Leave for 30 minutes to an hour, or until the mixture has roughly doubled in size. This works best in a warm room.

Now tip it out of the bowl and back onto your floured surface. It might stick a bit – don’t worry. Now, knead it again for another 5 to 10 minutes. We are trying to knock all of the air from the mixture which has been created from the reaction of the yeast. Your dough should feel different now. It’s hard to explain – but it will.

Now, grease the sides of a small loaf tin. Shape your mixture and place it gently into the tin. Cover with cling-film and leave to prove for a second time for 30 minutes to an hour. This second proving is important. This will give the dough the air which will be in the final product. Again, it should double in size.

Cook for about 45 minutes at 220°c. When the loaf is cooked, remove from the tin and allow to cool completely. It’s pretty hard to resist chopping a slice off when it’s warm though!

Because the bread is not loaded with preservatives and additives like store bought bread is, it doesn’t last very long. After a couple of days it gets pretty stale, although it’s great for toast for a few days longer.