# Tuesday, 26 July 2011

That’s according to this article which suggests ministers want more NHS treatment to be provided by private companies. Under the plans patients could have x-rays, blood tests and heart scans at Boots and other high street chemists. It should make getting treatment more convenient for many, meaning you could pop into the pharmacy during your lunch hour rather than having to wait several days for an appointment.The services would remain free of charge and ministers hope it would drive up standards and improve treatment for patients.

Personally I can see how this could be useful. To arrange a blood test at my local hospital you have to turn up during working hours, take a ticket and wait. Whilst this might suit people like myself who work from home, the majority of people would have to take a morning off without knowing how long they could be waiting to be seen. It seems to me that anything that make getting treatment more accessible to patients can only be a good thing.

posted on Tuesday, 26 July 2011 11:21:50 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

It can be quite embarrassing to see your cats squeezing through the fence to use the neighbour’s garden as a toilet when you have provided a perfectly good litter tray at home. It seems, however, that there is not much you can do about their behaviour. According to this article cats choose to use the neighbours garden because they are marking the edges of their territory. The behavioural trait was discovered when GPS trackers were fitted to nine cats over a period of eight days. 150 hours of camera footage were caught and 3,000 owners were also surveyed. Town cats have to spend the greater proportion of their day protecting their territory against rivals and half of cats had to deal with other cats entering their homes to steal food. One way to stop your cats using your neighbours garden could be to leave areas of loose soil on the edges of the garden to encourage them to use that instead.

posted on Tuesday, 26 July 2011 11:19:04 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Monday, 25 July 2011

Oliver 003I cooked a few of the burgers the other day from Westin Gourmet and was not disappointed. They certainly taste as good as they look if not better and really benefit from being flame grilled outside on the BBQ. I will certainly be purchasing these again and they also come Oliver (pictured left) approved. My only issue is perhaps a pack of 10 burgers is not enough, I think they are going to eaten very quickly.

posted on Monday, 25 July 2011 10:13:49 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

According to this article the Queen will use green power to reduce her carbon footprint at Windsor Castle. Under the scheme power from the River Thames will be used to power the castle. Underground cables will carry electricity directly to the castle from hydroelectric turbines at nearby Romney Weir. Any unused power will also be sold back to the National Grid. It is hoped the project will generate enough electricity for 300 local households and one third of that needed for Windsor Castle.

posted on Monday, 25 July 2011 10:12:10 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Sunday, 24 July 2011

George-Monbiot-blog--vege-006If your garden vegetables are showing symptoms similar to that shown on the left then they might be a victim of something called aminopyralid poisoning. The problem is caused by the residues of a hormone mimicking pesticide called aminopyralid which is used by farmers to kill weeds growing in fields of grass.

Government approval for the pesticide was suspended in 2008 after cases of cross contamination but it appears farmers are still able to use it under strict guidelines. This includes spraying it only on fields which are grazed directly by cattle and not on fields where silage or hay is grown. Manure from animals kept in the pastures should be used only on the farm and farmers must confirm in writing that they have been instructed in the use of the pesticide and in manure management issues. All of these measures should be enough to prevent further issues of cross contamination but it appears this is not the case.

The article highlights the case of a market gardener who lost their entire crop of vegetables to this curling disease. The problem was that the manure they had used was contaminated. It seems that somewhere in the process someone had not followed the stringent guidelines related to the use of aminopyralid. It seems many cases of this poisoning are simply put down to other factors such as poor weather and diseases and so go unreported with many gardeners unaware of the problem or indeed the real reason why their crops might have failed. Reading this I am reluctant to purchase any manure without knowing where it has been sourced from and think I may stick to simply using compost from the garden.

posted on Sunday, 24 July 2011 11:58:35 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Saturday, 23 July 2011

That’s the bizarre message of this article which suggests that people who use a larger fork tend to eat less. The findings come from a study that looked at the impact of bite sizes and how much is eaten. In a 2 day experiment tables in a restaurant were set with a bigger fork and a plate containing 20% more and a smaller fork and a plate holding 20% less food than the restaurants regular portion size. The plates of food were weighed before they went out the customer and again when it came back to calculate the amount eaten. It was found that the diners given bigger forks ate less. It seems the size of the fork acts as a goal to help diners see how far they are progressing when satisfying their hunger whilst the actual feedback of feeling full comes with a time lag. Based on this it might be time to purchase an oversized novelty fork.

posted on Saturday, 23 July 2011 10:58:27 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

leopard_1947511cAccording to this article a population of snow leopards has been found in Afghanistan. Researchers have used camera traps to photograph the animals for the first time in a remote corner of the country. They have been found at 16 locations across the Wakhan Corridor and there are now moves to try and turn the area into a national park. It is thought there may be as many as 200 leopards living in Afghanistan which is quite a significant number considering there are thought to be only 4,200 left in the wild. 

posted on Saturday, 23 July 2011 10:55:14 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, 22 July 2011

article-2015107-0D05E0D800000578-986_233x408These interesting looking solar powered bins have recently gone on trial in  Inverness. The bins which have been called the “Big Belly” can take eight times as much rubbish as a normal bin of the same size. Machinery inside the bin compacts the litter automatically and an internal computer is programmed to send an email to the council when the bin is full and needs to be emptied. The bins are solar powered and need only eight hours of daylight a day to power the electronic device inside. At £3,200 they are not cheap but perhaps the cost will work itself out if they don’t need to be emptied so often.

posted on Friday, 22 July 2011 09:38:04 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

_54066604_rainbow_toadThis colourful creature is a Ansonia latidisca or as it has been more commonly nicknamed a rainbow toad. Previously the only images of the toad were those drawn from specimens collected by European explorers in the 1920’s. This was one of three toads spotted by Scientists from University Malaysia Sarawak on a recent trip to Borneo. It certainly is a striking creature.

posted on Friday, 22 July 2011 09:35:54 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Thursday, 21 July 2011

Seems to be a common question for those ordering fashion online. So much so, that it has now become the norm to order an item in several sizes and send back those that don’t fit. That’s according to this article which suggests a lack of standardised sizing amongst retailers means shoppers are ordering a purchase in multiple sizes and sending back goods worth more than half a billion pounds. In fact a survey by online shopping comparison website Kelkoo found that almost two-thirds of the 1,500 adults it surveyed ordered multiple sizes of the same item when shopping online. I must admit to doing the same, if I am unable to find exact measurements on the website but it must be quite a headache for retailers having to process so many returns. Perhaps as the article suggests it is time to use standardised sizing.

posted on Thursday, 21 July 2011 10:16:10 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

article-2013797-0CFA002300000578-522_306x448This is interesting it’s a beach mat that filters out grains of sand ensuring they remain where they belong, that’s on the beach. The mat which was originally developed for military use to keep the dust off of helicopters has holes that are just wide enough for grains of sand to fit through. The clever part is that it acts as a one way filter so once the sand has passed through it doesn’t come back. It also claims to eliminate dirt, dust and water ensuring an always clean surface. It sounds like just the thing for the beach and at £40 not too expensive either.

posted on Thursday, 21 July 2011 10:13:25 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Wednesday, 20 July 2011

If you have been thinking about a getting a hypoallergenic dog then you may want to read this article. it suggests that they produce just as much allergens as any other dog. Hypoallergenic dogs such as Bichon Frise, Poodles and Portugese water dogs are supposed to produce less dander and saliva and also shed less fur. A recent study, however, has shown this is not the case. It looked at 60 different breeds of dog and found there was no scientific basis to claim these breeds have any less allergens. Researchers analysed dust samples from 173 homes collected from the carpet or floor of the bedroom. All the households involved in the study had only one dog with 11 of the 60 dogs being hypoallergenic breeds. When the samples were analysed there was no significant difference in allergen levels in the homes.

posted on Wednesday, 20 July 2011 11:19:44 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

Raspberries2We have just picked the first raspberries from the garden and they really are tasty. Whilst there is not really enough to make much with this year they have done much better than I expected. In fact as it I only planted them this year I was not expecting any fruit at all until at least next year. The crop whilst not huge is enough to eat with dessert or just on their own. The plants are already producing new runners so lets hope for a bumper crop next year and perhaps enough to make some jam.

posted on Wednesday, 20 July 2011 11:17:04 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, 19 July 2011

_54026035_012428936-1This is interesting, its a selection of photos showing the imprints left by birds that have flown into windows. This one shows an owl that crashed into a window in Kendal. The print would have been left by the powder down substance that protects the birds feathers.

posted on Tuesday, 19 July 2011 09:36:02 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

corn 2Oliver 015The allotment has been somewhat neglected recently as we have been concentrating on decorating but the vegetables we have growing are coming along nicely. The corn is is now waist high as you can from this picture of me scythe in hand creating a scene from Children of the Corn. A closer picture shows the developing cobs. I am hoping for lots of sweet corns and it looks encouraging so far.





PotatoesBeansThe beans are growing well and we are just starting to see the first little beans appearing so hope to be eating them soon. The potatoes are also going well. I couldn't remember what varieties we planted but on digging a few early potatoes we have a mixture of white potatoes and a red almost purple variety which taste yummy.






VegetablesWe also have a few courgettes coming along at the allotment although my main crop of these is in the vegetable patch in the garden. Here are a few potatoes and a courgette we harvested for dinner. The allotment and garden combined are certainly keeping us in vegetables at the moment. It has been several month since I had to shop for vegetables. My salad leaves from the greenhouse are picked daily for sandwiches and the potatoes, courgettes, turnips and peas and gradually being eaten or processed and frozen as they are ready. My initial investment of £40 of seeds finally seems to be paying off. I believe I have already saved that at least just in salad.

posted on Tuesday, 19 July 2011 09:33:35 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback