# Saturday, 14 May 2011

According to this article a record amount of English wine was produced last year. Over 4 million bottles was produced as an increasing amount of farmers have turned towards wine production. This is the highest volume of wine ever produced, breaking a previous record of 3.5 million bottles. Figures show that there is 75% more land turned over to wine over the last five years. In addition to this last years cold and wet late summer provided good conditions for sparkling wine which thrives in cool weather. Currently the biggest producers are Chapel Down and Nyetimber who both specialise in sparkling wine. Waitrose have also recently entered the market and in 2009 started planting chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes, although these vines will take another 2 years before they start producing grapes. With more English wine being produced it would be nice to see some on sale in the local supermarket.

posted on Saturday, 14 May 2011 12:40:33 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

article-0-0BDF368700000578-585_468x351This is interesting it’s a device called a Coffee Joulies which claims to keep your drink at the perfect temperature for up to five hours. The device which resembles a glass bean is placed inside the thermos with the hot drink. It absorbs the extra thermal energy in the drink when it is hot and then releases this energy to keep the drink at an optimum drinking temperature as it starts to cool down. The beans are made of a non toxic material sealed within the stainless steel shell. They only work, however, when the drink is insulated with a lid. It’s an interesting idea, but I do wonder whether they are any more effective than an ordinary thermos.

posted on Saturday, 14 May 2011 12:37:42 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, 13 May 2011

According to this article Cadbury are to launch a range a bath products. The products will be made with the cosmetic company Anatomicals and will smell like the three new flavours of the Dairy Milk Bliss bar. They will be launched in June this year and will be the first time that Cadbury has tried making bath products. The limited edition products will be sold by John Lewis and asos.com.

posted on Friday, 13 May 2011 10:10:31 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

That’s according to this article which suggests it can add as much as £20,000 to the value of the average home. Second on the list is a room extension which can add an average of £16,069 to a homes value, whilst a conservatory adds around £8233. Smaller improvements such as a new kitchen can add around £5617 and new windows £5265. Generally, however, people need to spend a minimum of £10,000 on a conversion or extension in order to see  a return on your investment. Still, it’s interesting reading if you are thinking of doing any home improvements.

posted on Friday, 13 May 2011 09:57:46 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Thursday, 12 May 2011

According to this article millions of iPod users are damaging their hearing by listening to music which is louder than a pneumatic drill. Research has found than 1 in 10 people listen to their music at a level which is a higher volume than a drill on a building site. One is six listen at a level which is louder than an aeroplane taking off. According to the article 17% of people have been left with ringing ears after listening to loud music for a long period of time. Damage can start to occur when the ears are exposed to noises louder than 85 decibels for prolonged periods of time. It seems, however, that a quarter of people turn off the volume limiter and 1 in 20 people listen to their music at the highest possible volume with 43% claiming they are not bothered that the loud music might be damaging their hearing. Personally I keep the volume low when listening to music, mainly because I am being considerate of those around me, who I doubt want to hear my music. I do, however, come across many examples where one individual is “delighting” the whole train carriage with the noise from their iPod. I thought the whole point of headphones was so that you can hear your music but no one else can? Perhaps I am missing something.

posted on Thursday, 12 May 2011 10:06:26 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

If this article is to be believed then the answer would be yes. It claims that one in six British women struggle with cooking, with the typical female only being able to cook seven dishes from scratch. The poll commissioned by the Good Food channel found 1 in 5 women struggle with cooking a basic curry whilst 1 in six can’t bake a cake and 1 in 10 have never cooked a roast. In addition to this 1 in 10 women can cook fewer than 3 meals without consulting a recipe book or asking for help. It seems I may be in the minority if the article is correct, I can think of 20+ dishes off the top of my head that I can cook from scratch although I don’t consider myself a particularly good cook.

posted on Thursday, 12 May 2011 09:44:07 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Wednesday, 11 May 2011

That’s the claim made by this article which suggests despite the government spending £4 million to persuade people to eat five a day less people are doing so. Official statistics show that between 2006 and 2009 the percentage of adults actually eating five portions of fruit and veg a day has fallen from 30% to 26%. This is a fall from 12.1million to about 10.9million. Figures found that richer households are more likely to meet the target with 32% of men and 37% women in the highest-income households meet the target, compared to only 18% of men and 19% of women in the lowest income brackets. Personally I eat quite a bit of fruit of veg but I don’t think I manage five portions every day.

posted on Wednesday, 11 May 2011 09:41:16 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
article-1380342-0BC3FB9800000578-30_634x433I remember having a Spirograph when I was a child, unfortunately mine was second hand and didn’t have all of the bits but I still managed to create to interesting pictures with it. This one, is slightly bigger and works on the same concept. It uses two pendulums suspended from wooden towers which are connected to drawing arms and moveable joints. A ballpoint pen is mounted at the point where the pendulums come together. The pendulums are set in motion by hand and then the motion creates a picture on the paper.
posted on Wednesday, 11 May 2011 09:39:07 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

The Government is considering new regulations which would see all new pet dogs being microchipped. Under the regulations every puppy brought and sold would new have a microchip implanted. The details would then be placed on a national database which would be accessible to the police and the RSPCA. The proposals have drawn criticism from some MPs and animal experts who say law abiding owners would be unfairly penalised. Personally I can’t see why you wouldn’t have your pet microchipped. My four cats have all been chipped and for me it provides some peace of mind that if they were to be lost or stolen I have a hope of finding them. At a small cost of between £20 and £30 it seems a small price to pay. I can, however, see it is unlikely to be popular with breeders who would need to pass these additional cost onto their customer, but surely a responsible dog owner would have their pet microchipped anyway?

posted on Wednesday, 11 May 2011 09:37:34 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, 10 May 2011

article-1381435-0BCC4BC600000578-985_468x354According to this article the Red Kite is once again doing well after being brought back from the brink of extinction. Twenty years ago the birds were almost extinct, however, a conservation programme has been quite successful. According to a RSPB survey the bird is now the 53rd most common bird in British gardens. The birds were driven to extinction in the 1880s when they were thought of as vermin. A conservation programme was started in 1989 to reintroduce birds from Sweden, Germany and Spain. Since then kites have been successfully brought back to the Chilterns, Northamptonshire, Gateshead, Yorkshire and north Scotland. Now there are thought be around 1,000 breeding pairs in the UK.

posted on Tuesday, 10 May 2011 10:23:21 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback


According to this article this is the new sell out designer bag. Priced at £90 and resembling a Sainsbury’s carrier bag it has become popular with those who prefer a bag without logos. Described as a “contemporary carry-all” and made out of acetate it is the must have utility bag. The current trend appears to be for functional bags with other popular sellers being the £480 Prada rucksack and a £4,200 gym bag from Reed Krakoff. I’m not sure I would pay that much for any of these bags, I tend to prefer cheap and cheerful when it comes to bags for shopping or for the gym.

posted on Tuesday, 10 May 2011 10:21:41 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Monday, 09 May 2011

That’s according to this article which suggests there have been several planning applications launched for intensive rabbit farms. A total of 6 planning applications for rabbit farms have been lodged with local authorities across the UK. If they are approved they would be the first in this country in around 15 years. Each farm would house around 1,100 rabbits in wire cages stacked in barns. They would be reared and sent to slaughter at around 12 weeks old. The developer behind one of the farms has said that the rabbits would be housed in a light and airy environment with cages that are 18% bigger than required by law. With around 3,000 tonnes of rabbit meat being eaten in Britain each year and virtually all of it being imported it seems there is a demand for locally produced rabbit. I do wonder whether the general public will be in favour of more intensive farming techniques,  at a time when people are becoming more aware of where their food comes from and how it is produced.

posted on Monday, 09 May 2011 10:59:34 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

According to this article snails eggs are becoming popular as an unusual luxury ingredient. The eggs which have been dubbed “white caviar” appear to be increasingly popular in Spain where snails are already farmed for their eggs. At around 1,800 Euros (around £1,600) for a kilo there are not cheap but they are quickly becoming a prized delicacy. The eggs are hand selected before being washed and purified. They are then sterilised and lightly salted. It takes as much as four hours to fill a 50g tin as each egg is selected by hand using tweezers. If you fancy trying some Harrods have recently started selling small tins of the product . Apparently they have an earthy flavour.

posted on Monday, 09 May 2011 10:56:56 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Sunday, 08 May 2011

001I spent a day at the Real Food Festival this weekend and had lot006s of fun tasting various produce. There were so many displays at the festival that it’s impossible to remember everything but a few caught my eye more than others. This (left) was certainly one of the most attractive displays with the jars of jam and jellies back lit to show them off to their full advantage. If I remember correctly the producer was Cornish Meadow Preserves.


Another stall that caught my eye was Calon Wen a small co-operative that produce milk, butter and cheeses. I particularly liked their attractive cow print bags (pictured right). The Blue Dragon stand had an interesting and informative cooking tutorial on how to use their staple cooking sauces such as their sesame seed oil, oyster sauce and light and dark soy sauce. Following the demonstration they also handed out free recipe cards so that you can give some of the ideas a try at home.



These cute lambs get a mention because, well, they are lambs and cute. Rather then being used to promote lamb burgers (which were also on offer) they were in fact a marketing gimmick for a competition to win a holiday in the Scottish countryside. Pictured right is a wonderful (although little blurred, blame the iPhone) picture of a display from Toftly Treats. They are a small family run business who specialise in handmade chocolate and chocolate buttons, Their chocolate was certainly yummy but it was the brightly coloured attractive display which really caught my eye.


023019These wonderful looking cupcakes also ranked as one of the most colourful stalls at the festival although I unfortunately neglected to note the name of the company offering them. I picked up a good selection of mixed baklava at this stall (right) and it really was a bit special.


There was also plenty of my favourite thing, cheese. I think I must have tried more than 20 different kinds and whilst I can’t remember all of them, this stall had a number of really good varieties.

028In all it was a really enjoyable day out and although tiring it was really good to try some new flavours. I have gathered a wide selection of leaflets and no doubt will be placing orders for lots more products once I have worked my way through all of my current purchases.

posted on Sunday, 08 May 2011 12:47:48 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Saturday, 07 May 2011

That’s according to a recent study which looked at why certain birds are able to thrive in European cities. The study found that city dwelling birds have larger brains relative to their body size making them more more adaptable to the changeable conditions of living in the city. Researchers from the Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala, Sweden and the Donana Biological Station, Seville looked at birds such as tits, crows, nuthatches and wrens, studying 82 species of birds from 22 families. The key similarity between them were that they all had a larger brain size relative to body size. I wonder whether the same is true for other animals and perhaps even people.

posted on Saturday, 07 May 2011 09:05:49 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

This is an interesting idea, called campinmygarden.com it allows people to do just that. If you are happy to let people camp in your garden you can advertise on the website. garden owners charge around £10 a night for a pitch on their lawn. The website aims to provide more affordable accommodation for sports events, exhibitions and festivals in the UK although according to this article they are currently suffering from a distinct lack of gardens. It’s an interesting idea and as an experiment I typed in the Real Food Festival which I will be attending today. There appears to be 4 gardens available near by, should I feel like taking my tent with me, although personally I will commute back afterwards, preferring the comfort of my own bed.

posted on Saturday, 07 May 2011 09:04:02 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback