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Secret Road Closure

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /

Our regular drive to Swanns near Allesley, to buy quail food, normally only takes a few minutes. It took rather longer today thanks to some surprise road closures, caused by some kind of road race. We normally drive up Washbrook Lane but it was closed. We turned around and drove the length of Browns Lane and tried a different way but encountered more closed roads.

We weren't the only people caught up in this. We drove about half a mile down one road before we met the road closed barriers. It would have been nice if they had put a sign up further down the road to stop everyone from wasting time and petrol. At least the people manning the barriers helped us find a detour to get to our destination.

One of the people we encountered on our travels lived in the area but didn't know anything about the race or which roads were closed. He was driving around trying to find his way home. The road closures should probably have been better publicised. I realise that closing country lanes doesn't cause as much disruption as closing part of the ring road for the Lady Godiva Half Marathon but it was still an inconvenience to a number of people.

Lake District

Story location: Home / Blog / work /

I have been away for most of the week, in the Lake District. I have had no Internet access or newspapers since Wednesday morning, and haven't had time to watch TV news so I've been feeling a bit cut off from the world. I was there attending my department's annual conference so it wasn't a holiday but we had a couple of free afternoons.

On thursday afternoon a few of us went for a walk to Grasmere. We saw a deer which seemed very calm and unafraid - it didn't run off as soon as it saw us but stood and watched us approach for a minute before wandering away.

A Deer
A deer, seen on the walk to Grasmere.

View over Grasmere
View of Grasmere.

When we got to Grasmere I went to the 'famous' gingerbread shop, which I hadn't heard of until this morning. The gingerbread is a bit like a cross between cake and biscuit, with proper pieces of ginger in it.

Asparagus Festival

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /

The Asparagus Festival was held at the Fleece Inn, near Evesham. We watched a cookery demonstration where a three course meal was prepared, with each course containing asparagus. The surprise was the dessert, which was an Eton Mess, containing asparagus ice cream and garnished with an asparagus tip. We tried some of the ice cream and it was unusual but not awful.

There was a craft tent in the pub garden. In addition to displays of traditional crafts, there were various things for sale, including cakes. The cupcake below was a standard chocolate cake (very tasty) with chocolate icing and asparagus shaped (but not flavoured) decorations.

Asparagus cupcake

Hamster Baby Update

Story location: Home / Blog / Hamsters /

Here are some more photos of Fadle and her babies. We have been buying jars of (human) baby food for them since it contains a good range of nutrients and no additives. It should help them grow.

There are 2 'Sapphire' babies and 1 'normal' coloured baby. We were hoping for some sapphires - it is possibly our favourite colour of Winter White.


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Mums Can't Drive?

Story location: Home / Blog /

We had a very frustrating drive to work this morning. We left the house a few minutes earlier than normal and got caught up in the school run. There were dozens of cars shuffling about, reversing, doing u-turns and generally impeding traffic and blocking the road. When there was a gap, a lot of the mums in their tiny cars seemed unwilling to try drive through, despite the gap being big enough for a much bigger car.

The worst thing about this is that there are several primary schools in the area and I'm sure most of the kids will live within half a mile, so they could easily be walked to school. Especially on a sunny day like today, when kids should be encouraged to be outside, and not shuttled back and forth in cars.

I might not be the best driver in the world but I try to avoid inconveniencing other people, unlike the person who insisted on doing a u-turn in a very restricted area, holding up the traffic for a minute or so.

Count to ten. Deep breath. Rant over. Calm Down.

The effect of poor diet on psoriasis

Story location: Home / Blog /

My psoriasis is quite bad at the moment. I think this may be due to me eating a fairly poor diet recently. During the last month I have been away from home a lot, eating a lot of restaurant meals or take-aways. This means I have been eating more fried food than normal, and hardly any fresh fruit and veg.

Over the next few weeks I will try to cut out various unhealthy or processed foods. We have stocked up on fruit and veg and healthy snacks, including nuts and dried fruit. I will try to avoid soft drinks and coffee, and stick to drinking tea.

I will probably allow 1 processed meal or take-away, but otherwise all of my hot meals will be home-cooked. Breakfast will be the usual bowl of cereal - we normally have low fat and low sugar cereals so that won't pose a problem.

I have stocked up on tins of mackerel because oily fish is supposed to be good if you have psoriasis. Lunch will probably alternate between fish and cottage cheese.

Daytime snacks used to include fruit with the occasional bag of crisps, cereal bar or biscuit. I will have to cut out the crisps and biscuits but I have stocked up on apples, bananas, dried apricots and dried figs. Sometimes I have a craving for carbohydrate and used to satisfy it with a biscuit. I will need to choose a healthier alternative, such as nuts.

I will give this diet a few weeks to see if it makes a difference. There are other foods such as wheat or yeast which can trigger psoriasis in some people, so I may eventually try to cut down on these, but I won't do that straight away. If I change too many things at once then I won't know which ones had an effect.

Tuna and Asparagus Pizza

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / pizza /

The pizza dough was based on our normal pizza base with a few changes: We used 1½ cups of plain flour and ½ cups of fine polenta, and we added a teaspoon of dried chillies to the mix. We no longer add the vegetable oil but add 1 medium egg (or about 5 quail eggs).

The sauce was made by mixing together 1 tablespoon of wasabi powder with 1 tablespoon of cream cheese. For the topping we grilled 2 tuna steaks and flaked them onto the pizza. We added grilled asparagus and a sprinkling of capers. Finally we topped it with grated cheese and cooked in a hot oven for 15 minutes.

Tuna and Asparagus Tuna and Asparagus and cheese
Cooked Tuna and Asparagus pizza

This recipe also appears on our Pizza Blog.

Woodpeckers in the woods

Story location: Home / Blog / work /

I sometimes walk through the woods on my way to the office. I've been told that there are woodpeckers in the area. Sightings of them are quite rare but they can occasionally be heard. This morning I heard the distinctive 'rat-a-tat' sound. I don't remember hearing them before - I probably have heard them but didn't notice at the time.

The Pizza Blog

Story location: Home / links /

Emma has created a new website: The Pizza Blog. We started by documenting tonight's pizzas: Tuna and wasabi, and Chicken and Chilli pizza.

We will be using the site to record the various pizzas we have made or bought.

Fadle Babies

Story location: Home / Blog / Hamsters /

Fadle (aka Greypup) gave birth on thursday night. It took her a while to get used to being a mother but she now spends most of her time sitting on the babies, feeding them and keeping them warm. Mithletoe sometimes sits with her to keep her company.

Mith and Fadle and Babies

At last: some free time.

Story location: Home / Blog / house /

I've been quite busy during the last fortnight and hadn't had time to update the website. I've been in London (twice - once with work and then back for a weekend break) and also on a training course in Wales. I'm about to upload some of the London photos, backdated to last weekend.

This morning I did a bit of work in the garden. Some of the seedlings in the propagator had got rather tall, and were pressing against the lid. Most of these are now safely in the garden, either in 'cloches' made from fizzy drinks bottles, or with a ring of copper around them to protect them from slugs.

Garden, including cloche and copper rings

The copper rings were made by cutting a section from the middle of a 2 litre drinks bottle, and wrapping copper tape around it. The tape is a thin self-adhesive ribbon of copper designed for wrapping around plant pots. They make a decent portable slug defence for young plants.