# Saturday, July 30, 2011

That’s according to this article which claims it has been crowned the most satisfying car to own in Britain. Skoda topped the league of the most popular car makers beating makers like Porsche and Lexus. The survey from Which? Car suggests that Skoda's are fast becoming better cars to own with jokes about them being consigned to history. It is the first time that Skoda has topped the Which? Car satisfaction survey so they must be doing something right.

posted on Saturday, July 30, 2011 11:24:40 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

According to this article Consumer Focus is calling for energy firms to abandon doorstep cold calls for a three month period. The watchdog is asking the energy firms to make the changes voluntarily but if they don’t may ask the regulator Ofgem to legally require suppliers to take action.

Personally I think all cold calling by energy companies should be stopped completely. The practice which has been going on for at least ten years often involves misleading and intimidating sales techniques. I have been subject to these sales calls on a number of occasions and remember one in particular where two large men tried to gain entry to my home to obtain an electricity bill or a meter reading. They had claimed to be from my existing provider but clearly were not. If this were the case they would have had details of my current price plan and energy usage and would not have needed further information. Needless to say I did not let these crooks into my house.

I have received a number of other calls since this one with less aggressive techniques but none the less still misleading. In each case the caller has said they are from my electricity provider rather than being honest and saying they are from a rival company. Being wise to this selling technique I greet them by letting them know that firstly I am aware they are not from my supplier. Secondly I am aware they are trying to get me to change my supplier and thirdly if I did want to switch I would not make this decision as a result of a cold call on my doorstep but would do my research online. This seems to get rid of the sales people very quickly and effectively. I do wonder, however, how many more vulnerable and perhaps less informed people are misled into switching to deals that are no better and can often be worse than their current rate. With four out of the big six suppliers being investigated to see whether their doorstep selling have broken the rules, it is clearly time to stamp this practice out once and for all.

posted on Saturday, July 30, 2011 11:22:33 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, July 29, 2011

Sometimes I think scientists have a little too much time on their hands, particularly when I see articles like this. A team of researchers have tested 2,000 slices of bread in an effort to make the perfect toast. They found that it takes exactly 216 seconds to cook the perfect toast. It should be an optimum thickness of 14mm and have 0.44 grams of butter per square inch. This cooking time gives it the perfect golden brown colour and the ultimate balance of crunch and internal softness apparently, with the outside being 12 times crunchier than the middle. The best result is achieved by setting the toaster dial to five out of six on a typical 900 watt toaster which produces a temperature of 154 degrees Celsius.

posted on Friday, July 29, 2011 9:40:32 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

Green-Living-blog--Roadki-005

This is interesting, it’s a store which has recently opened in Brighton that makes clothes from road kill. The designer Jez Eaton sources her materials from road kill and the remains of animals which have died of natural causes. Some of the items on sale include a necklace made from pheasant skulls, a horse hat and a shawl made from squirrels. The pelts of the animals used would usually go to the waste so the collection is not only environmentally friendly but also ethical. It seems like quite a good idea although I’m not overly impressed with the designs pictured.

posted on Friday, July 29, 2011 9:34:34 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Thursday, July 28, 2011

If you fancy naming your baby Lucifer and happen to live in New Zealand then you are out of luck. It has recently been added to a list of banned names after three sets of parents wanted to use it for their child. The country has rejected over 100 names over the last two years in a bid to stop people using increasingly bizarre names. Other names on the list include Messiah, 89, C and Baron, Bishop, Duke, General, Judge, Justice, King, Knight and Mr, the last of which have been deemed too similar to titles. Some names that have been allowed, however, include Benson and Hedges and Number 16 Bus Shelter.

posted on Thursday, July 28, 2011 11:20:16 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

With both the allotment and the vegetable patch in the garden coming along nicely, we have a ready supply of vegetables. One thing that has been really successful this year is the courgettes and we really do have many more than we can ever hope to eat. Having given lots away to all the neighbours with a lot still left over I decided to freeze them. I processed over 40 courgettes in batches, by first peeling then and cutting them into small chunks. Then I boiled a pot of water and blanched them in batches for just a minute before draining and cooling them. They were all packed into small zip lock bags and frozen and should keep me in courgettes for the winter. The next job is to do the same with the turnips.

posted on Thursday, July 28, 2011 11:03:22 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Wednesday, July 27, 2011
article-2015745-0D0C77A100000578-942_306x423 This is interesting its an artist who uses pencil sharpening's to create portraits. Kyle Bean saves all his pencil shavings to create the pictures. The shavings are put into place using a set of tweezers with each shaving being positioned individually. It just goes to show you can make art out of practically anything.
posted on Wednesday, July 27, 2011 11:56:02 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

_54155636_thomas_engineIn an unusual story Thomas the Tank Engine has been involved in a road crash on the Kent and East Sussex border. A lorry carrying the train crashed with a van on the A28 at Newenden whilst it was on it’s way to Tenterden for a Kent and East Sussex Railway event. The good news is that Thomas appears to unharmed although he will be inspected to ensure he is in perfect working order.

posted on Wednesday, July 27, 2011 11:49:51 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, July 26, 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, July 26, 2011 11:21:50 AM (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, July 26, 2011 11:19:04 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Monday, July 25, 2011
Burgers

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, July 25, 2011 10:13:49 AM (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, July 25, 2011 10:12:10 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Sunday, July 24, 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, July 24, 2011 11:58:35 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Saturday, July 23, 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, July 23, 2011 10:58:27 AM (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, July 23, 2011 10:55:14 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback