Sunday, 26 December 2010

Christmas Parsnips

Just thought I proudly exhibit this Parsnip that I pulled from the garden on Christmas day. I planted a whole bunch in about May time and still have quite a few left languishing in the garden. If you like Parsnips I highly recommend growing them yourself and saving the harvest until winter when the frosts sweeten them so much that they develop a really lovely sweet nutty taste, very much unlike the bland white specimens you get from the supermarkets.
Of course the only problem with harvesting Parsnips at this time of year is trying to dig them out of the concrete-like frozen ground.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Sweet & Sour Sauce

Here's my recipe for a very nice sweet and sour sauce.

2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp vinegar
3 tbsp tomato puree
3 tbsp organce juice
1.5 tbsp soya sauce
1.5 tbsp cornflour blended with 4 tbsp water

Mix all the ingredients tohether and sling them into your stirfry near the end of cooking. Wait for the sauce to heaten and thicken and serve.


Saturday, 4 September 2010

Skegness Holiday.

Bank holiday August saw us out on the bikes again - this time on holiday to Skegness. I hasten to add this was all Angela's idea, who had set herself a challenge to cycle to Skegness (around 80 miles all told) in a day. Having decided to make the most of it we booked in at the Royal Hotel on South Parade for the Saturday and Sunday nights and then arranged to come back home by train on Monday afternoon.
We set out early on Saturday and followed he usual route to Newark. At Newark, disappointed to find the Cafe in the precinct we normally stopped at had now closed we instead turned to the Morrisons oppposite for sustanance. Cup of tea, slice of cake and a sandwich later we were back on our way towards Coddington and through Stapleford wood to Navenby - effectively the last climb of the down. From Navenby, it's downhill all the way!
Making good speed along the straight roads of the Lincolnshire Fens we soon reached Woodall Spa, our next refuelling stop. The weather had turned slighly by now, and , although not caught in any downpours yet we did manage to avoid a fairly heavy shower whilst lunching at a delightful little tea-shop/cafe on Woodall Spa High Street.
Woodall Spa is over half way to Skeggy from our starting point and we had so far made a good speed of about 16 mph. Encouraged by our endeavors so far we set out on a puddle strewn highway for the final destination.
The last part of the journey is, after the squiggly bit around Coningsby, once again, impossibly straight roads and flat, flat countryside. The views across the Fens where wide and spectacular and the little villages on the way were sometimes interesting and pretty, and sometimes mundane.
The final lurch into Skegness, fueled by the anticipation of seeing the sea got us there around 1700 hours, resulting in an average speed of over 15mph, which, we both reckoned was quite respectable.
The Royal Hotel is Skegness is quite a find but that's another story...


This is a very late entry, but, after our successful ride to Skegness last week-end I have begun to ponder a route to York. The last time I cycled to York was in about 2000 with the CTC and I barely remember the route. What I do remember however is that we went through Tuxford and Bawtry. Consequently I thought I would just jot down a quick note about the route from Nottingham to Tuxford and mention something about the wonderful working windmill that you can find there.
We cycled to Tuxford sometime in May. The start of the journey was fairly well known to us - basically through Burton Joyce along the Thurgaton road to Southwell and then on, through Southwell and past Hockney and the legendary housing project. After a thankfully brief spin along the A617 we turn off, back on to country lanes, to Winkburn and over the slight incline on top of which is a look-out point from which you can see Lincoln Cathedral. Onwards to Laxton, with it's ancient strip field system, lovely pub and museum and then to Tuxford with it's refurbished working Windmill and Tea shop.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Multiplatform Electronic Drawing Project

Unable to find a decent electronic circuit diagram drawing application I decided to brew one of my own.

Here is a screen-shot of my first version I am happy with...

Monday, 26 April 2010

The not-so-famous Famous Shoulder

Sunday and out on the bikes again. This time an expeditionary route to Sheffield, or at least to as far as time allowed.

Much of the journey is urbanized and passes through many of the former colliery towns of North-West Nottinghamshire. Leaving Nottingham via the A60 Mansfield road after about 8 miles we turned west through the villages of Papplewick and Linby to join the Annesely road at the junction with the Hucknall bypass. Up along the split duel carriageway, to the left of us Byron's walk and to the right Annesley Hall, home of the Chaworths at the time of Byron.

After a small climb to Mutton hill we turned left down into Kirkby-in-Ashfield, through a new build and garishly painted shopping precinct, through some rather sparsly populated industrial estate land and then on through a pretentious and rather horrid new-build housing estate. A right turn onto the road to Sutton-in-Ashfield and then on to Huthwaite - home of the world famous Thornton's chocolate factory.

The road from Huthwaite to Tibshelf changed from urbanised small town road to open country as it climbed up into the foot-hills of the Peak District. Just past the turn-off to Hardwick Hall and 22 miles into the journey we decided to call it a day and stopped at the The Famous Shoulder hotal and restaurant just short of Chesterfield for snacks and drinks.

The way back was very easy going a brisk tailwind and lots of downhill to help us on our way made for an average return speed of neigh on 15mph - a record for us.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Bradgate Park

Saturday we decided to forgo the usual shopping arrangements and go for a bike ride instead. The destination was the Deer Barn tea-shop in Bradgate Park in the rolling hills of the Charnwood forest, Leicestershire.

Our ride took us through the charming villages of South Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire - Plumtree, Keyworth, Wysall, the delightfully named Thorpe-in-the-Glebe (which sounds to me like something out of Jabberwocky), Wymeswold - where we stopped at a smart pub, 'The Windmill' for a reasonably priced lunch, Burton-on-the-Wolds, Barrow-on-Soar, Quorn and Woodhouse.

The ride from Wysall to Wymeswold was an olfactory experience. The road is small and quiet, and, apart from the odd agricultural building little housing. Along the way the air was filled with occasional pungent wafts of sweet and sickly silage, then fish smells, then warm, fresh manure and damp hay, fresh cut grass, then silage again. On the horizon appeared the wooded hills of the Charnwood forest.

A short distance after Quorn we stopped on the bridge crossing the GCR railway line to take a few photos of Quorn and Woodhouse station and any trains that might be passing.

After Quorn the journey became noticeably more hilly, but it was only a short distance from there to our destination. Here we enjoyed a slice of cake and a cup of tea by the Cropston reservoir at the Deer Barn cafe.

On the way home we called at Rothley station - another station on the GCR line and were lucky enough to see a couple of historic Diesels running.

Downhill for most of the way we had enough time to stop at Wysall for a pot of tea before the last leg back through Tollerton and home.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Melton - Closed on a Sunday

This weekend we decided to take a ride to Melton Mowbray (about 22 miles). The weather was dry - but a cold wind kept the temperature chilly. Sticking to the b and unclassified roads rather than the long and windy route of the canal we made good time to Hickling where we happened to chance upon the Bread & Bitter cycling group stopping for a swift (or not so swift) half or two. They set off on their way back home and we ploughed on to Melton, up the rather long and steep hill just past Long Clawson, along the undulating road through Holwell and then down into Melton.
As expected, Melton was closed. Even the much promised tea-shoppes that one might expect to find in such a quaint little market town did not materialise. Melton are missing a trick here. For such a pretty and historic town famous for it's food and particularly its Pork Pies you would have expected a nice selection of independent Cafeterias etc to draw tourists and provide a pleasant day out for locals. Not to be. All we could find was a Morrisons, a Cafe Nero and a Pizza Express. All chains, hardly peculiar to Melton Mowbray.
In need of sustanance we plumped for the Pizza Express and admittedly a nice vegetarian salad (The Bosco I think it was called). The Pizza Express was lovely, but a tea-shoppe would have been nicer.

Friday, 2 April 2010


I found this whilst looking for stuff about blurring for my Drop Shadow code.

It's experimental at the moment but it looks very promising and already does some impressive stuff with images.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Tatties & Asparagus Peas

Just a note to remind me that I have just planted the Red Duke of York potatoes and the Asparagus peas.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Out West - On the Bikes

A lovely Spring day saw us off on the bikes to Shardlow. The route through Beeston, Chilwell, Attenborough and Long Eaton though not scenic (but easy going -apart from the 15mph headwind) took us first to Trent Locks, for tea and scones at the quaint tea rooms and then onto Shardlow via Church Wilne and a footbridge. It is over 7 years since I visited the canal tea rooms with my CTC biking buddies, but after a small amount of detective work (after all - they had to be along the canal somewhere) we found them.

The way back, from Trent locks to Nottingham along the Canal path was scenic and easy, the wind that so resisted us on the outward journey, now pushed us homeward.

Back at 1730 we had covered a total distance of 34 miles and averaged over 10mph.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

How To Change the Default Icon With The Swing Java Application Framework

Since I have been out of work I have been usefully relearning my old Java skills and catching up on some of its new features.

Anyway this morning I have been struggling with how to change the default icon for the application from the boring old Coffee Cup.

In normal applications the way to do this is simply
setIconImage( Toolkit.getDefaultToolkit.getImage("full image file name"));
in your JFrame constructor.

With the java Swing application framework you have to..
  1. Copy the image into the resources directory.
  2. Find the properties file for your main View class.
  3. Add a key, something like iconImage=my short filename (i.e. just the filename without the path.)
  4. Then add the following code to the start of the constructor for your view..
    Image img = (Image)getResourceMap().getObject("iconImage",Image.class);
Anyway, it took me an hour or so to work that out this morning, and many of the answers on the Java forums seemed nothing short of useless. I hope therefore, that this post comes in handy to all those budding Java programmers out there.

Friday, 12 February 2010


This interview thing is becoming a chore. First there was RH Group, then Dollar Financial (who didn't like me) , and now Microlise (still waiting).
Of course interviews like this give me the opportunity to find out more about these companies. The most rivetting fact yet that I've heard is that Dollar Financial are recruiting because the unbanked and unbankable population, currently at around 30%, in the UK is rising and this is the market serviced by this company (owners of the MoneyShop). The interviewer appeared unaware of why this would be. I couldn't bring myself to tell her it was the manifestation of the workers losing the Class War.
To be honest I don't mind the thought of being unemployed and becoming a 'house husband' for a couple of months. There is plenty that needs doing and I would do well to get the flat sorted out for rental.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Out They Go

The Feltham First peas I mentioned in my previous blog have now been planted out into the garden. I have surrounded them with plastic meshing and bamboo gun emplacements to keep away the birds. Furthermore I have sprinkled a toxic cocktail of some sort of Iron compound to despatch any slugs which may find their evil way to my little babies.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Feltham Dearth

Well I wasn't expecting that! The peas I so lovingly planted last year have been annhilated by the extremely cold weather that decended in December/January.

Anyway. Not to be outdone, I have planted more of the little blighters (indoors this time), and will plant them out as soon as I feel it is safe to.