Monday, December 01, 2008

Up to a point.....

I saw this in the Times on Saturday - absolutely priceless...of course it was supposed to be advertising Boot of The Beast in his tale in Ishmaelia.... the wonderful Scoop by Evelyn Waugh!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Opening night

I have been patiently waiting for my pitcher plant to open - its taken two weeks of shooting on the time lapse to capture it and the movie last just 60hours in the end, which I suppose is actually quite a long time for the lid to pop open! The images are taken 30minutes apart and the music is Solito de Charango from Cesar Palacios.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Norwich Union Classic

An afternoon of beautiful cars! In the sunshine, waiting for Adrian and Nick to arrive in the Merc at Silverstone, listening to a little live jazz and photographing some beauties!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Moseley Folk Festival

The weather was perfect just long enough for us to hear all the singers and bands at the Moseley Folk Festival - Morceeba definitely topped it for me, though our picnic or steamed salmon, pasta with pine nuts and basil oil, green beans in vinaigrette, tomatoes and mozzarella in balsamic vinegar and strawberries were pretty good too. Not to mention the face painting!

Monday, August 25, 2008

NSCR Hull to Newark

The next leg on the NSCR (north sea cycle route) took me and Nick from Hull to Market Rasen, where we camped and then on to Newark via the very beautiful Lincoln. The weather was perfect, Nick had done lots of training and we bowled along! The highlight was definitely coming over the Humber Bridge, even if we did get covered in spider silk, though its closely followed by hurtling 35mph down the Lincolnshire wolds after pootling up them at 5mph! Lincoln was filled with people on tandems - very strange, it must have been a special weekend for it! Next I head for Norfolk.......but when?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Lab Olympics

The boys and girls of the 5th floor of Biosciences raced in the 100m, 400m, 800m and 1mile! All one after the other! They derserved their 'gold' medals!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Raspberry recipes from the Sunday Times

Nick, an avid reader on the Times and raspberry fiend, found the following two recipes in the Sunday Times in the last few weeks. Eyeing up my ice cream maker the request was to make some sorbet and when he found the cheese cake recipe (albeit changed from blackberries to raspberries) we had a whole desert!
Raspberry and Mint Sorbet
250g caster sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
15 large mint leaves and 15 small mint leaves, chopped
500g raspberries
juice of 2 lemons
Make a sugar syrup by placing the sugar, vanilla and large mint leaves in a bowl with 25oml boiling water. Leave to stand for 10min. Then blitz the raspberries with the lemon juice and add 400ml sugar syrup. Seive out the pips. Chill the juice and then churn in an ice cream maker, adding the small mint leaves at the end before putting into the freezer.
Raspberry cheesecake
80g hazelnuts
140g digestive biscuits
1tsp cinnamon
4cloves, finely ground
3tbsp sugar
80g butter melted
600g full fat cream cheese
150g sugar
2tbsp plain flour
1tsp vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 medium eggs
250g raspberries
180ml sour cream
Heat the oven to 160°C. Blitz the hazelnuts until finely ground and then add the digestive biscuits and blitz until they are crumbs. Mix in the sugar and spices and finally stir in the melted butter. Press into the base of a loose bottomed cake tin with high sides. Bake for 10min, remove from the oven and turn up the oven to 240°C. Beat together the cream cheese and sugar (or find someone with strong arms to do it for you), then add the flour, vanilla, orange zest and lemon juice. Mix until smooth. Beat in the eggs and the sour cream. Pour on top of the biscuit base and stud with the raspberries, pushing them into the mix. Bake in the oven for 10min, then turn down the heat to 110°C and cook for a further 25min. Then leave to cool in the oven. We found that transferring it to the fridge and eating the next day made it even more tasty! Serve with the sorbet for extra raspberriness.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hamlet at the Courtyard Theatre

Last night I joined Naomi, Matthew and Debbie for a jaunt to Stratford. With the main theatre under renovation what I knew as the Other Place has been consumed by the Courtyard Theatre into a magnificent venue that put me in mind of the Globe. The stage was embedded in the audience, a layer of black shiny tiles with a mirrored back drop. By out heads (we were in the gods) there were six chandeliers waiting to be lower into the play. The opening scene was cleverly done, the auditorium was in pitch black and the guards on the roof tops of Elsinore castle shone their torches onto the shiny floor to illuminate their own faces and the ghostly king in the reflected light. The king Patrick Stewart - he also played the living king Claudius) had a coat that billowed smoke, which gave a very good effect. In the first few scenes with the non-mad Hamlet David Tennant was hardly recognizable but as he ruffled up his hair and became more lively in his actions he became more like the Doctor, we even had twiddling of knives and recorders a la sonic screwdriver! Horatio (Peter de Jersey) sported leather elbow patches and complimented Hamlet well, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (Sam Alexander and Tom Davey) were suitably stuck up, whereas Laertes (Edward Bennet, who looks remarkably like Prince William) fenced like a champion! Gertrude (Penny Downie) and Ophelia (Mariah Gale) gave dazzling performances but bumbling Polonius (Oliver Ford Davies) had us in stitches many a time. The atmosphere was perfect and had us speechless by the end.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Crucible 2: Edinburgh

Once more this weekend I joined up with my fellow cruciblists in Edinburgh. Another packed weekend was started with a speed collaboration - just like speed dating but trying to marry ideas rather than hearts. It was a great way to re-acquaint ourselves again but also to spark off potential ideas, all in 2 minutes. After wonderful food we adjourned to the campus bar and chatted until we were ousted at closing time. Then for a strange few moments we compared bathrooms - Robin had a magnificent bath in a bay window, whereas I had a shower head that could accommodate thousands and Jim had what we thought of as a fairly normal bathroom but with a view into someone elses! (Not that he was looking). The following day Steve, our facilitator, took us through Global challenges and Utopian universities allowing us to build models and generally make stuff with playdoh, pipe cleaners and willow withies - I was in my element. In the evening we went for a trip down Mary King's Close - under the streets of Edinburgh lies an old city, no longer lived in but full of ghosts. The final day came round quickly and we talked of art and writing in science before heading once more to our disparate parts of Europe.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Les Madeleines du 'France'

These are no ordinary madeleines!! Soazig kindly gave me a silcone madeleine baking tray a few weekends ago along with the recipe below which came from her grandfather who was the pastry chef on board the France, a big cruise ship about 50years ago. Prone to making things in vast quantities and not doing the washing up he was banished from the kitchen by his wife when not at sea. I have just made a fifth of the original recipe and have 27 beautiful little, light and fluffy madeleines to enjoy!

To make 27 madeleines whisk together 2 eggs and 100g caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Add in 100g plain flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, the zest of a lemon and 80g melted butter. Then spoon a little of the mixture into the madeleine moulds and bake in an oven pre-heated to 200°C for 8min. Unmould immediately and reuse the mould for the rest of the mixture!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Matthew from the CBC sent round an email showing some very cool art that he had made using this website - so I thought I would give it a go using one of my recipes - isn't fab!!! Not got completely to grips with how to change everything yet but I think it looks pretty good!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Castleton Moor to Hull

I've just arrived back from my latest jaunt along the North Sea Cylce route - possibly the hardest few days cycling I have ever done! I think combining tired legs from the 3 peaks challenge with the massive hills of the North York Moors and the wind coming off the North Sea finished me off! But great views, though the stretch from Whitby to Scarborough is not recommended on a schedule!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

3 Peaks Challenge

Well I made it! Up all three peaks - Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon. I definitely have the poorly knees now but otherwise all is well, and enough so for another bout of the North Sea Cycle Route tomorrow!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mended Spiderwebs

The Innocent newsletter has provided another gem - this time the art work of Nina Katchdourian. I simply love her mended spiderwebs!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Sat in Euston train station waiting for my train back to reality, already I have been jostled on the tube but my mind is dwelling on the events of the past few days. It all began on Saturday as I, anxiously, took the train from Birmingham to Cambridge for the first Crucible ( lab. There I met 30 young scientists from a huge variety of disciplines. Our initial afternoon, in the first warm sunshine of the year, was packed with 3min slots where each of us gave a snapshot of our lives and research. At dinner I got to know Jim as we discussed films and books, amazed to discover new ones from our overlapping likes. A late night in the pub was followed by an early morning start for discussions on interdisciplinarity and the media. Again a spectacular dinner, with Viv doing a pseudo-ballet on the government offices involved with science and scientists. Another late night followed by an even earlier morning as we travelled down to London to meet at Portcullis House with policy makers, influencers and MPs. Another jam packed day. At the close of our meeting we walked down to the Institute of Chartered Engineers where we were having dinner. As we arrived to a room already thronged with people I was taken aback. After our cocoon over the past three days we emerged into a sea of people. After speeches we set about talking to many people around the room. Becky and I sought out the black suited gentlemen, who were so attired as they had just come from work. The time flew by and it seemed dinner was upon us too soon for my head but just on time for my stomach. At dinner Viv showed her flair for getting to know us in just three days and I think we were all sorry to hear that our fairy godmother won’t be with us in Edinburgh or Cardiff. Relaxing with Ally, Chrissy and Jamie we all said how amazing an experience it had been and that we couldn’t wait for Edinburgh, though sometime to digest the events of the weekend are definitely necessary. To the Royal mile in a couple if month’s time!

(The wonderful beetles are from New Hall)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Spectacular cycling

I've just finished watching 'the man who cycled the world' on the iPlayer - an amazing documantary about Mark Beaumont who cycled from Paris around the world and back to Paris, 18,000 miles in just 195 days!!! Pretty spectacular stuff, check it out at his website.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Congratulations to Vicki and Seb

This morning outside my window the world had turned white. Without a thought I donned my out door gear and walking boots, grabbed my camera and headed out. It was beautiful and I couldn't resist nipping down to my favorite spot to see what the cobwebs were looking like. Lots of snow and ice were clinging to them and I thought this picture was particularly nice. I'm using it to say congratulations to Vicki and Seb who got married yesterday!! Both bride and groom were looking lovely and thankfully it only started snowing in the night. Lets hope it hasn't caused extra trouble for Terminal 5.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I just found this picture on my draft list on the blog - it was a tasty recipe - cream and peaches but I can't remember how I made it - nice pic though!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Cycling video

At the beginning of February I packed up my bike, Whistler, and headed for London and then on to a plane head for Vietnam. There, luckily Whistler arrived in one piece and I met up with a great crowd of folk for a cycling holiday that would take us from Saigon (Ho Chi Min City) through the Mekong delta and then up to Cambodia and from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, finishing with the spectacular temples that include Angkor Wat. This video is made up of sereval clips I took whilst cycling. The first three are from Vietnam and then we head into Cambodia, first along some busy roads out of the capital and then along more rural roads and finally through the South and North gates of Angkor Thom. The sound is just what I picked up a dn rather than put a tune over it I decided that just the vague clips of the bike and the strains of music as we came past a festival were more atmospheric.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Bread baking day #7 Lefse

Petra is hosting bread baking day this month and the theme is flatbreads. I instantly thought of these fantastic Norwegian Lefse which we always have when we go and visit Dougal in Stavanger. I had a little root about and found that to make them all you need to do is to make mashed potatoes and add enough self raising flour to make a dough! What could be easier and it was incredibly simple! Everyone in the lab is now enjoying them with a little homemade bramble and apple jam and cream, though I also really like them with a little sugar and cinnamon.


6 medium sized potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
100ml double cream
25g butter
self rasing flour

Boil the potatoes until soft, drain and then mash with the cream and butter until very smooth. Then add enough self rasing flour to make a smooth, non-sticky dough. Divide the dough into 32 portions and roll out very thinly. in a dry frying pan or on a griddle toast each lefse until lightly freckled on each side. If you have a bigger frying pan or griddle you may be able to make bigger ones just divide the dough into fewer portions. I made mine the night before eating them and I think they would freeze well too.

You can eat them with pretty much anything, including the dreaded Lutefisk!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sunrise over Angkor Wat

A little bit shaky without a tripod, this was a really wonderful way to spend our last morning, even though it involved being up at 4.45am!!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Vietnam and Cambodia prelim

Here's a preliminary map of where we went! I am still fiddling with Google Earth to get a map and then it'll be a little bit more interactive!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Muffins galore!

Fig and cardamom, pear and almond and pumpkin seed butter muffins!

For the Fig and Cardamom and the pumpkin seed butter muffins make a base with 225g unsalted butter and 225g caster sugar, 225g self raising flour and 4 eggs. Then mix in either 150g chopped ready to eat dried figs with 3 crushed cardamom seeds (the big green ones but without the green papery bit) or 115g pumpkin seed butter. Put in little cases. Bake at 200°C for 20min.

For the pear and almond muffins Soak 225g chopped dried pears in 4tbsp whisky for 1h. Blitz together 450g self raising flour, 115g usalted butter, 115g caster sugar, 2 eggs, 75ml plain yoghurt, 50g chopped almonds and the pears and their juice. Put in little cases. Bake at 175°C for 20min.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Some jolly sheep from a walk at Christmas - their bells made lovely tinkling noises!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

A little New Year's Eve video - stills were taken every 30s from about 6 until about 10 in the evening. The music is Johann Strauss's Champagne Polka (appropriate I thought!).

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Our fabulous New Years eve meal at Sorensons on the harbour front in Stavanger:
Kamchatka carb with avacado spring roll, wasabi cream and ginger foam
Trout, pumpkin soup, fennel and pumpkin seed oil
Deer filet and sausage, mashed potato, mixed vegetables and cranberry jus
Choclate cake with orange salad and panettone ice cream!
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