An atheist sermon…

Julian Baggini has preached an atheist sermon in Westminster Abbey, in the belief that, if we have the will, we can all get along. Well, leaving aside the massive and bizarre incongruity of such an event, in such a place, I’m inclined to agree.

As an atheist, I’ve always got along with believers. Were I Dawkins I might say that they’re entitled to their favourite fairy tale – where we differ Continue reading

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More thoughts about breadmaking…

I started making bread seriously something over a year ago, from – as I’ve mentioned previously – a position of minimal knowledge. I knew the basics, but there was still a learning curve. As with most things worth doing, that shows no sign of abating and, between then and now, I’ve read a hell of a lot – just not recipes – I might pick up ideas from books, but I almost never use anyone else’s recipes, whether for bread or food in general. And, the more I read, the more I realise that every writer believes Continue reading

Help – my clothes are shrinking!

Well, not really, but somebody’s been buggering about with men’s clothing sizes the last few years.

I’ve got clothes going back about 10 years (hey, they were expensive – I look after them – and I weigh the same now as then – sadly!), and the size – XL – fits me perfectly, with my waterproofs having enough room to go over a couple of fleeces and still leave room for luxuries, like Continue reading

Mobility scooter lights…

Updated version. (Later, October 18, a pic, showing the lights fitted, has been added at the end of the text.)

I haven’t been out much on my new (earlier this year), Sterling Diamond Class 3 scooter, and I really must make the effort. I don’t know why I’m so reluctant** – over the years I’ve travelled many miles on scooters or powerchairs, with no problems.

**Constantly feeling like hammered shit doesn’t help.

So, as winter’s coming, I’ve treated myself to a set of decent front lights.

The scooter has excellent rear lights, and indicators (now I’ve snipped the insanely loud beeper out of the circuit), but the front lights are more of the glow-worm in a jam-jar type. OK for being seen, I suppose, but they do bugger all to light up the road, just casting a yellow glow a couple of feet in front – useless.

(Update, October 14:- The lights are received, fitted, and are great – very bright indoors, in my dark bedroom. My scooter has a tiller with tubular “handlebars”** – you would need to substantially modify the mounting system to fit any other style of tiller, which is true for most lights intended for bikes. There is enough slack in the Y-shaped wiring yoke to fit one lamp either side of the tiller head. The foam grip needed few layers of duct tape to bring it up to the necessary diameter, the alternative being to remove a section and use the thicker rubber clamp liners (shown in the pic, below), which might still have needed taping; this was tidier, and avoids scratching the paint and letting in rust. Amendments have been made to the following text where needed.)

**The forward and reverse wig-wag is operated by the fingers – far more comfy and ergonomically sound than the thumb-operated type – worth thinking about if you’re shopping for a scooter.

Around the turn of the century, I had Continue reading

Spending cuts are coming – are you worried?

Before we – the chronically sick and disabled – get further shafted by next week’s spending review, let me remind you what Cameron said during his general election campaign:-

“We’ll keep the free television licence, we’ll keep the pension credit, we’ll keep the winter fuel allowance, we’ll keep the free bus pass. Those leaflets you have been getting from Labour, the letters you have been getting from Labour are pure and simple lies.” (my bold)

He also said: “We will keep what we inherit in all of those important areas.”

That creaking noise you can hear? That’s Continue reading

Beware of product reviews…

Why? Well, because I reviewed a product somewhat critically, and the review has not been published. Six days later, and it’s fair to assume it’s not going to be, and that sucks.

I published the review on my bread blog but, in view of the vendor’s attitude – the purpose of reviews is to give potential buyers an idea of what they’re might be getting, and not publishing critical reviews gives a false impression – I thought I’d bring it to a wider audience here.

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Loaf tins (pans), have just one function – they hold the dough in a specific shape while it proves and bakes. It follows, then, that they don’t have to be massively robust, though a degree of robustness is desirable for durability. They should not, for example, flex in use.

I have a pair of 2lb tins which are very robust, but not quite deep enough, so I ordered another two. They’re slightly shorter, but quite a bit deeper, which will give me a slightly taller  loaf for the same amount of dough (currently, it’s in the oven way before it’s finished rising, so a bigger loaf is achievable), and a decent-sized slice.

They arrived today and what struck me first was the weight – or lack of it. The reasons are twofold. Firstly, in the pics the tins appear to have wired edges, quite common in metalware of this type, and a very good thing. They don’t.

You can read the full review** here

**The reason I’m not publishing the complete review here is that Google, apparently, takes a dim view of identical blog posts. Or something…

On slow cookers…

I’ve bought myself a slow cooker (crock-pots in the US). A natty 3.5 litre black one from Morphy Richards. The current model, in the Accents range, has a translucent paint job (translucent black?), and costs £35. The previous model, identical apart from the paint – gloss black in my case – I got for £26 delivered, from Asda Direct (of whom, I have to say, I’d not previously heard).

I have physical problems cooking (ME/CFS, osteo arthritis, COPD, for new readers), so much so that, though I’m a good cook, I tend to live mainly on snacks and fried stuff, with occasional stews, bad news on so many levels. Last week, though, I made a Continue reading

Making wholemeal bread…

Today I have a batch of organic, 100% extraction wholemeal flour, from Shipton Mill, so wholemeal bread is on the agenda. Here, as a teaser, is the finished product:-

Click pic for full size image, Back button to return. (The uneven bottom edge is just one of those things. An amorphous lump of dough will either conform to a right-angled tin as it expands, or it won’t. These didn’t, and it matters not at all.)

I like wholemeal bread, but my experience with it has been rather less than inspiring. The first time I ever made bread, from a position of almost total ignorance, was during the bakers’ strike of 1979. I sought a little advice from the staff restaurant manager where I worked but, beyond that, I was on my own.

I opted for wholemeal, probably a tad over-ambitiously, with hindsight. The result was certainly very tasty but – let’s be honest – a brick. Much like the Crank’s loaf you can buy in Sainsbury’s today, in fact. Still, at a time when it was hard to come by, I, at least, had bread.

So, this time, I’m . . .

To read in full, please click through to my bread blog. Thanks.