Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Good words to live by

The only people with whom you should try to get even are the people who have helped you.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Always remember

Life is not about waiting for the rain to pass on, it's about learning to dance in the rain.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Thought of the day

Being happy does not mean everything is perfect, it means you have decided to see beyond imperfections.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Two Chimps And A Blonde..

A blonde lady motorist was about two hours from San Diego when she was flagged down by a man whose truck had broken down. The man walked up to the car and asked, "Are you going to San Diego?" "Sure," answered the blonde, "do you need a lift?" "Not for me. I'll be spending the next three hours fixing my truck. My problem is I've got two chimpanzees in the back who have to be taken to the San Diego Zoo. They're a bit stressed already so I don't want to keep them on the road all day. Could you possibly take them to the zoo for me? I'll give you $100 for your trouble." "I'd be happy to," said the blonde.

So the two chimpanzees were ushered into the back seat of the blonde's car and carefully strapped into their seat belts. Off they went.

Five hours later, the truck driver was driving through the heart of San Diego when suddenly he was stunned to see the blond woman; she was walking down the street holding hands with the two chimps, much to the amusement of a big crowd. With a screech of brakes he pulled off the road and ran over to her. "What the heck are you doing here?" he demanded, "I gave you $100 to take these chimpanzees to the zoo." "Yes, I know you did," said the blonde," but we had money left over---so now we're going to Sea World.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


.. die Schweiz, la Suisse, Svizzera, actually Confœderatio Helvetica, hence its country code 'CH'. During winter, it is a land of high snow capped peaks and waterfalls frozen in time. Summer sees the lower reaches green, covered in small alpine flowers, the breeze carrying the sound of cow bells. Chalets of all sizes, their balconies festooned with bright flowers, perch on the slopes. It is a remarkably beautiful country. To the right is a picture of a chalet and train on the Jungfrau in winter.
Already visited by many who like to ski, the Swiss Government is eager to draw more tourists, preferably the extremely well off. Architects are being called in to give the Swiss Alps resorts a face lift. The picture to the left is a design said to give the impression of illuminated trees, something I would imagine the surrounding lights do well all by themselves. This example owes less to skiing and more to a 'feel good' health spa of the 'exclusive' kind.

If You Don't Do Heights Well....

Look away NOW!!

Yes, that really is cloud under the deck of the Millau Road Bridge. It is not the tallest bridge in the world, but it is the tallest vehicular bridge, the deck being 803 feet above ground at the second pylon beyond Clermont-Ferrand. It cuts around 61kms off the journey between Clermont-Ferrand and Pézenas, and saves awful congestion in the small town of Millau, all three French towns being en route to the French Riviera and Spain, popular with Parisiens and the Brits during July-August.

Not quite as tall now, but I still don't feel even slightly envious. This is a shot taken looking for'ard of the Tall Ship 'Europa' while she was visiting the Halifax Tall Ship festival, 2007. The crew are demonstrating where not to be in a storm, actually readying to drop sails. The lucky ones get to pull anchor!

The sight is incredible, but one has to remember that sailing like this was not for the faint hearted, and many sailors would have been 'press ganged' into service. The 'Press Gang' would frequent drinking houses, selecting only the fittest of drunks for 'signing on the line'.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Scrumpy and The Marula Tree..

I am a huge fan of YouTube, and spend a reasonable amount of time typing in searches on all kinds of topics. It is amazing what can be found there. Just recently, a video has appeared showing African animals suffering intoxication as a direct result of consuming fallen, rotting fruit of the Marula tree.

It is true that a few animals do like the fruit, but most prefer it fresh. The leaves and bark have medicinal properties, and the skin of the fruit can be made into a coffee like drink. The pulp of the fruit contains way more vitamin C than all other more well known fruits, and the kernels inside release oil which is a good skin treatment.

People living in England's West Country and South West will be well acquainted with the alcoholic drink known as cider. Cider is the processed fluid extracted from apples. It is cleaned up, filtered, and has an appealing golden color. Scrumpy, on the other hand, is the raw product, straight from pressed, fermenting apples. The really strong varieties can knock out even a well seasoned drinker.

So, can animals get drunk eating rotting Marula fruit? The video, made back in 1974, would suggest that they can, but think about it. Eating rotten fruit is more likely to cause stomach upset, which will in turn cause the digestive system to reject it. One would have to consume a fair amount and hold it before fermentation and ensuing drunkeness would follow. Clearly, this would not happen, and in the case of elephants who actually prefer the fruit fresh from the trees, the amount of water also consumed by them would dilute the alcohol content to the point where it would have zero effect.

In the same way as rotting apples are used for Scrumpy and cider, rotting white grapes are used in the production of Sauternes wine. The vineyards call it the 'noble rot' which sounds better. I doubt that anybody eating rotten grapes has ever suffered drunkeness before having to use 'bathroom' facilities.

It would appear that the 'funny' video clip was in fact a staged event, and would not be allowed these days.

I can see that I have your mouths watering for a glass o' scrumpy, so here is a traditional Devon recipe.


  • 12 pounds apples
  • 1/2 pound raisins
  • 1/2 pound raw meat
  • 1 gallon water at 70 degrees
  • champagne yeast (tradition calls for bakers yeast)


  1. Chop and grind the apples and raisins. These days a food processor will do the trick
  2. Use a brewing barrel with an airlock
  3. Put the ground apples and raisins into the water with the chopped meat.
  4. Stir thoroughly
  5. Add the yeast and seal the brewing barrel with the airlock.
  6. Everyday swirl the barrel to stir the ingredients.
  7. After the first fermentation slows, about 8-10 days, move to a similar vessal for seconary fermentation. If you like a dry cider, add a second dose of yeast to the secondary fermentation.
  8. Seal with an airlock.
  9. Let it sit until it the fermentation slows to a very slow, almost imperceptible bubble.
  10. Move to a carboy to let the heavier particles settle out.
  11. Let it sit for about a week and bottle.
The scrumpy should be left to mature for at least four months, and if left for a year will mellow out quite nicely.

One glass and the world seems a better place, two glasses and you probably do not remember.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

High Speed Food?

The idea is that you order your food using the 'touchscreen', pay with a 'pre-paid' plastic card, and then sit and wait for your meal to negotiate the 'helter skelter'.
It would be interesting to see how this system copes with an order for a glass of iced water and slice of lemon!!