Saturday, 26 February 2011

Useless meat thermometer

This rather out of focus picture is of a meat thermometer I bought from Tesco this afternoon.  It was astonishingly cheap, at only 74p, but I still imagined it would work.

So I poked it into our piece of beef and put that into the pre-heated oven, but for boeuf en croute you hardly pre-cook the meat at all, so I had my eye on the thermometer from the off.

To my amazement, after a few minutes, I saw the clear front of the instrument, which I had taken to be glass, balloon up and start to blister.  Clearly it was plastic, not glass, and completely unfit for purpose.  I whipped it out pronto, in case it started to give off toxic fumes and ruin my Aberdeen Angus!

Sadly, I didn't think to photograph it before setting out for the store, which is why I used my phone to photograph it propped on the bonnet of the car.

Tesco refunded my 74p, and promised to take the rest of the stock off their shelves, but you have to wonder how much product testing they do before releasing stuff like this on an unsuspecting public!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Fabulous contemporary dance

A few weeks ago we went with Lorna and Richard to see the Henri Oguike dance company perform in the newly-refurbished Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds, and I have to say, I was pretty disappointed.  There were some interesting ideas, but overall, it just didn't do anything for me.  I wondered whether it was the performance, or me, and couldn't come to any conclusions.

So I was looking forward with some trepidation to last night's performance by Ballet Black in the Cambridge Arts Theatre.  I needn't have worried - it was simply stunning!

This show celebrates the tenth anniversary of the founding of the company, and they performed five pieces, four dating from 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2010, giving a flavour of the way the company had changed over the years, while the fifth was the premiere performance of Orpheus. 

Eurydice, wife of the great musician, singer and poet, Orpheus, has died after being bitten by a snake.  An inconsolable Orpheus descends into the Underworld to try to reclaim her.  He charms the dead by playing his lyre and Hades, King of the Underworld gives him the chance to reclaim his wife.  However, he must return to the land of the living blindfolded.

Orpheus agrees, but as they draw close to the surface, he can bear it no longer, and rips the blindfold from his eyes, and Eurydice dragged back to the Underworld and dies for a second time.  The Furies, who guard the entrance to the Underworld then tear Orpheus limb from limb.
This was the first performance we've seen by Ballet Black of a dance with a story.  It was beautifully danced, and completely clear what was going on.  At the end I, like many in the audience, had tears streaming down my face.  If you get the chance to see it, you must do so!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Singing in St Edmundsbury Cathedral

Most years we do a weekend set of services in the cathedral in Bury St Edmunds during the February half term, and last weekend that spot came around once more.  The clergy are very welcoming, the cathedral is actually not quite freezing and the acoustic has been greatly improved by the completion of the new tower, added in celebration of the millenium, I think.  The extra height at the crossing pays dividends.  Oh, and they've spent a fortune on the organ, and to an organist every day playing on it is like having another day of Christmas!  Our pet organist, David Boarder, did have a lot of fun on it!

We acquitted ourselves well apart from the first Eucharist yesterday morning.  Saturday evensong was:

Tomkins responses
Sumsion Mag & Nunc in G.
Mendelsohn Verleih uns Frieden

No youtube videos for the Tomkins or Sumsion.  The only real cock up was when the basses came in half a bar early in the Mendelsohn.  They got a filthy glare from the conductor, and too bloody right!  It's not rocket science.

Sunday morning there were two Eucharists, the first with the Sandersted Mass which we didn't know well enough and predictably, screwed up somewhat.  The motet, Saint SaĆ«ns Panis angelicus was fine, though.  In the second Eucharist, we sang a Mass by Willis which we've not done before and which not many of us liked.  All the voices sing in unison, while the organ provides the interest.  We did it OK, but we don't want to do it again, thank you!

Sunday afternoon's Evensong went well, though we were all very tired by then.  Barnard Responses we've been doing since the beginning of time and could probably do without music. The Dyson Mag & Nunc is relatively new to our repertoire and was quite nice.  And we finished off with our favourite anthem: Maurice Greene - Lord, let me know mine end.  I think that's just about the whole world's favourite!

By the time we got home, we were completely whacked, of course, but very pleased with ourselves.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Sunday, 6 February 2011

A BMW is just...

a Moto Guzzi with saggy tits!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Watch and then share these videos!

Look Mummy, it's pretending to be spring!

Today at Fowlmere bird reserve we were back at the "grasshopper warbler meadow".  Well, three of us were for the morning.  We made the fire in the same place as last week and started pollarding the row of willows which is just about visible in the picture I posted last week.  This is what it looked like just before we came home today.

The other two guys were a bit tentative when it came to the pollarding, and really didn't do much to the willows, but I thought we should do much more.

The problem is that the wind was changing direction all the time, so those pollarding often got smothered in smoke.  I didn't let a trivial thing like that stop me, so determined to at least get the nearest willow done before Doug arrived,

It was quite hard work, because what you can't see in the photo's, is that those willows are standing in a ditch.  I had to do quite a bit of sawing above my head while standing in water, which is tough going.

Anyhow, I've watched and done enough tree felling to understand a bit about how you get a branch to fall where you want it, and how to be out of the way when it does come down, which was handy, as some of these branches were a good 10cm thick.  One of those landing on you, or even just swiping you in passing, could sting, I can tell you!

So I was pretty pleased to get the first one finished, the second, quite small, the other two had done OK, so then I moved on to the third, largest.  That, too, came down, and I started feeling pretty smug.

At 12.30 the other two had to go home, so I spent the next hour or so cutting up the remaining branches and feeding them onto the fire.

Two more lads arrived to help and started cutting down hawthorn scrub.  Anything more than chest high had to be cut down.

Finally, Doug arrived with the remaining volunteers and his chainsaw.  He set to in a copse of hawthorn and buckthorn, but fortunately around 3.15 he ran out of petrol, so we were obliged to stop for the day!  I was well ready to stop, I can tell you, though lasted better than on some previous days.

But the thing we all remarked on was what a beautiful day it was.  Clear blue sky all day, and although chilly to start with, it warmed up as the day progressed, and we shed our thick jackets while we worked.  Glorious!  But not spring yet.  Spring doesn't start until March, and here it is only 3rd Feb, so when it pretends to be spring, I'm not fooled.  It's still winter, I tell you!  One sunny day does not a spring make, or something like that!