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Caribbean Festival

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /

We have just returned from the War Memorial Park where the annual Coventry Caribbean Festival is being held. It has been a warm sunny day so the sound of the steel band and the smell of barbecued chicken helped create a good atmosphere.

Our slice of watermelon and tray of Jerk Chicken was interrupted by a few wasps but we managed to finish eating without getting stung.

Jerk Chicken

Giant Sunflowers

Story location: Home / Blog / house /

Last month I mentioned the feral sunflowers which appeared in the garden. One of them is now at least 7 feet tall and towers above me so I needed to point the camera upwards to take the photo below.

Giant Sunflower

Charterhouse Fields

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The Charterhouse Fields lie just off London Road, to the south of Coventry city centre. For many years the fields have been accessible to the public but one of the local schools is attempting to annex a large portion of the site for their own private use. The Save the Charterhouse Fields Campaign is battling the school and council to prevent the loss of public access.

It would be a shame if the site was closed because I have walked through there a few times, taking photos or picking blackberries.

Charterhouse fields in the snow

The above photo was taken in 2008 shortly after snowfall. I have more photos of the fields which were taken with my pinhole camera.

More information about the campaign is available from their website.

Variegated Sweet Potato

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /

We don't eat potatoes very often but occasionally buy sweet potatoes which we leave on the bottom shelf in the kitchen until we either feel in a 'potato mood' or several weeks pass and we find them and think 'we should probably eat them before they go off'. Last night's tea fell into the latter category. I was making some sweet potato mash to go with the home-made breaded chicken breasts and had already peeled one potato when I started on this one:

Variegated Sweet Potato

I don't know how common multi-coloured sweet potatoes are but we've been eating sweet potatoes for a couple of years and this is the first time I've seen one like this.

The 27 Club

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Since Amy Winehouse died and joined the infamous '27 Club', I was wondering if there was any significance in the number of whether it was simply a statistical fluke. I found this website which plots the age at death of hundreds of celebrities who died of drug or alcohol related causes. The site finds that the median age is 38. When narrowed down to musicians, the most likely age to die is actually 27.

After discussing the phenomenon with colleagues I decided to run an analysis myself to see what kind of distribution you obtain by plotting the ages of celebrities from obituaries taken from the last 10 years. This doesn't favour any type of celebrity or any type of death and I expected a 'young' peak for reckless 'fast-living' celebs and an 'old' peak for people who died of more natural causes. Nigel, who I share an office with, said he expected a peak in the 60s, followed by a small dip, then another peak in the 80s. This was based on reading obituaries in the newspaper.

Celebrity ages at death
The histogram appeared to have 3 groups: young, middle and old, so I attempted to fit 3 'normal distributions'. When I did this I found the peak ages were: 42, 65 and 84.


Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /

A few years ago samphire started to become a fashionable ingredient and featured on a number of recipes by various celebrity chefs. I have only eaten it once and that was when it came in a jar of posh olives I bought from Tesco.

Yesterday I was walking along the Kent estuary near Arnside when I spotted some growing near the path. This was the first time I had actually seen it 'in the wild' so I made a note of the location and today I went back with a carrier bag and picked some.


Since I have never cooked with it before, I'm going to have to look up some recipes first.

George and the melon

Story location: Home / Blog / animals /

A few weeks ago I tried to take a photo of George, our pygmy dormouse, eating some fruit. Over various days I put different pieces of fruit on the table in his cage, starting with strawberries. I put my camera on a tripod, focussed on the fruit and waited for him to appear. As soon as he approached the fruit I would reach for the camera to take a photo, but he was so fast and either disappeared as soon as my hand moved or grabbed the fruit and ran off with it.

I decided to buy a remote control for the camera so I could get the camera set up and then sit back so I could watch the cage and take a photo without moving and scaring him. I found out that my camera (a Nikon D40) would work with an infra-red remote control so I ordered one and waited for it to arrive.

After the remote control arrived I tried again but with a slice of melon. I thought that since the slice was as big as he was, it would slow him down a bit and I would have a better chance of getting a photo. He was still too fast and all I got was a photo of a retreating furry bum.

A few days later I tried again but this time attached the melon to a metal 'skewer' which is designed to attach wooden blocks and nibbling treats. It took several attempts before I managed to get a reasonable photo of him eating.

George the dormouse eating a slice of melon

Meatball Conchiclioni

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /

The meatballs were our usual recipe (turkey mince, breadcrumbs, minced onion, seasoning). The pasta sauce contained leeks, garlic, passata and cream cheese.

Meatball Conchiclioni

Purple Poppies

Story location: Home / Blog / house /

Last year I sowed some poppy seeds in the far corner of the garden to add a splash of colour. I bought a packet of seeds from the supermarket and scattered them liberally all over the patch. When the flowers had finished blooming and the seed heads had dried out I collected the seeds, along with some seeds from purple poppies which were growing on the pavement halfway down our road.

In the spring I got the pot of seeds and scattered a lot of them in the corner plot again as well as in a couple of small trays of compost. A lot of the poppies have grown but so far the only flowers to appear have been a light purple colour. They seem to be very delicate because most of the time whenever I see a poppy, there are only a couple of petals remaining.

I photographed the poppy below in our garden this morning. I didn't touch the flower when I took the picture but about 10 minutes later the petals had started to fall off.

Purple poppies

Great Alne

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /

I went for a short walk through the village of Great Alne (near Alcester). I saw this old sign near the old mill.

old metal sign in Great Alne

Feral Sunflowers

Story location: Home / Blog / house /

Last year I planted two types of sunflower - traditional yellow sunflower seeds which I picked out of the hamster food and red sunflower seeds which I bought from a seed supplier on ebay. I planted some more of the same this year but I noticed that there were more sunflowers growing in the garden than the ones I planted. The ones which had self-seeded seem to have grown faster than the ones I started off in the propagator.

A feral sunflower in the garden

There were sunflowers sprouting in the courgette tubs and in several of the plant pots where I put tomatoes and peppers. Most of these had to be uprooted but I left some of those in the larger tubs. One of these is pictured above.

While I was in the garden to photograph the sunflower I noticed that the tomato plants were wilting slightly and the compost in the pots was dry. Now I thought this was slightly odd because there was a lot of rain during the day. I even commented to someone in the office that the rain would be good for the tomatoes. I don't think I am growing a special type of waterproof tomato. I expect it might be the tall fence blocking the rain. Something similar happens with the strawberries, which are on a set of metal shelves which means the lower trough gets less rain than the one on top. This means I sometimes have to go out and water them even if it has been raining.

Godiva Festival 2011

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /

The Godiva Festival, Coventry's annual free summer festival took place this weekend. Here are some photos from the parade through the city centre and the festival site at the War Memorial Park.


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