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Phew!

It is actually less hot today, but it’s maximum muggy. We went to the beach for some relief, and there wasn’t any. It’s usually very windy there.

I was watching the animated weather radar yesterday, and it was the first time I’ve seen a clear sky suddenly blow up with lightning storms. I know that’s what happens in the heat, I’ve just never witnessed it before.

That was over London, though, and people on Twitter were bitching that it was a spectacular thunder and lightning show, but it never rained.

We didn’t even get the lightning.

“Blow me” is, incidentally, entirely harmless here. It’s short for “blow me down” and I’ve only ever heard old people say it. My mother-in-law says it often and I swear I shall lose it one day when she does.

If you want your own ‘blow me’ mug, knock yourself out.

August 13, 2020 — 8:14 pm
Comments: 3

Bones.

There’s an amazing archaeological dig that was done in the Eighties and Nineties in a place called Boxgrove in West Sussex. We heard a talk about it once. One of its exciting features were eight piles of stone chips from the manufacture of flint tools showing various levels of skill. If that doesn’t sound exciting to you, the speaker thought it was maybe the remains of a school for novice flint nappers.

Og’s College of Bang Rocks.

According to a BBC article Uncle B sent me a link to, they’ve re-examined some of the artefacts from the site and they’ve decided the bone tools they found are the oldest known bone tools in Europe.

A shinbone they found is the oldest human remains ever found, at 500,000 years, and belonged to a kind of human that was ancestor to both modern humans and Neanderthals. Whoa.

Scroll down and look at the patchwork rock. Some poor grad student had to take all those chunks of rock and put them back together, so they could pour something into the cracks and discover the shape of the tool made from it. Which, irritatingly, the BBC doesn’t show us.

The bone in the picture doesn’t have anything to do with it, though. It’s just a mammoth bone I nicked off Wikimedia.

August 12, 2020 — 7:59 pm
Comments: 4

I am the Queen of Mayo

I love homemade mayo. I love commercial mayo, for that matter. If anybody tells you they put mayo on their fries here, them ’em they’re a filthy, filthy liar. Maybe on the continent, but Brits aren’t real big on mayo, I am sad to report.

Anyway, my homemade mayo was a little hit or miss. You know the drill: blend an egg yolk then slowly drizzle in the oil. Eh. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.

Then I lit on a brilliant recipe online. I’d credit the lady, but that was ages ago and I forget where I saw it. She puts everything in at once and gives is a whizz with a stick mixer. And it works great!

You have to put stuff in in the right order, though. And quantities are important (this last was harder for me to work out because I’m using a non-standard bantam egg).

Whole egg in first (I don’t bother to separate the yolk from the white as my eggs have so little white in proportion).
Then salt and mustard (mustard helps the mayo emulsify, but I also like the zing).
Then any light oil (7/10ths of a cup for my little egg).
Finally, a teaspoon of lemon or vinegar, whichever you prefer to cut the oily taste.

Then zizz it up with the stick mixer, leaving the blades at the bottom until it’s done. The mixer will draw the oil down to itself at just the right pace. Makes a lovely stiff mayo. I make it in a screwtop jar, so there’s nothing to clean up afterwards but the stick mixer.

I really shouldn’t do it with my own eggs, though. My girls aren’t vaccinated against salmonella and they have lots of contact with wild birds.

Death by mayo. Tell everyone it’s how I would have wanted to go.

August 11, 2020 — 7:52 pm
Comments: 15

Waiting for it…

Another hot and humid day today – quite a long hot spell by British standards. It’s just sunset now, and the sky has gone…weird. Orange. Threatening.

Looking high up, I spotted a faint but complete rainbow. It isn’t raining. Or it’s raining so lightly that it just feels like a prickling of your skin.

It’s the apocalypse, isn’t it? Come on, 2020, you’ve been teasing it long enough.

August 10, 2020 — 7:41 pm
Comments: 5

Arrrr, matey!

Now, before you go thinking this is a crap photo, it was actually so far away I could barely see it with the naked eye. Only one of Uncle B’s fancy cameras could capture it at all.

I think it looks neat and heat-wavy.

No idea what it’s about. It was just tootling around the English Channel, in and around the container ships.

Changing the subject, I just chased a fox out of the garden. The chickens were kicking up more of a fuss than usual and I looked out the kitchen window to see a gray fox standing a dozen feet from them, just staring. I let out a whoop, but it’s a long way from the kitchen to the front door.

He was still standing in the same spot when I got out there and didn’t run until I gave chase. Goodness knows why he hesitated, but I’m grateful. All chikkens present and accounted for.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

August 7, 2020 — 7:50 pm
Comments: 13

Elderberries!

Bumper crop this year. I usually pick some of them only to keep them from falling around the front door and getting tracked into the house.

First year here, I tried making elderberry cordial from a recipe I found on the web. It didn’t mention that you have to cook elderberries or they’re poisonous. I drank a thimbleful of the stuff and it was a seriously potent emetic. WHOOOSH went the weasel.

I’ve been shy about them ever since.

I think I might make some jelly or syrup this year, though. I’ll try not to go WHOOOSH.

August 6, 2020 — 7:27 pm
Comments: 9

Turns out, I’m something of an expert

The picture is from a blog post from March, 2009 about toilet paper hoarding. As you can see, our brand of choice in 2009 was Velvet – that’s the one with the creepy little-boy-in-a-suit mascot. Yeah, I posted about him, too. Also, ecologically responsible toilet paper.

And don’t get me started on the number of times I’ve posted about toilets.

Let’s face it: I’m a sophisticate.

Anyway, I went looking down back in the Museum of Toilet Paper, where there are old packets of Andrex stashed. No, they did NOT used emboss puppies on the product. I was sure I would have noticed that.

August 5, 2020 — 7:17 pm
Comments: 3

And it is, too

Man, we’ve used this toilet paper for years and I never noticed it’s embossed with puppies.

I really do not understand the marketing thinking behind this. I mean, sure — puppies are soft and fluffy. So wipe your ass with a puppy?, I guess.

We also have toilet paper marketed with tiger cubs (ouch!) and a little boy in a suit and tie (I dunno, you tell me).

August 4, 2020 — 7:21 pm
Comments: 9

Millions de Douches en France

Remember I said we could see France yesterday? Well, the atmospherics must have been perfect. For the first time ever, we picked up a bunch of French TV channels last night, as evidenced by the fuzzy screenshot. We spent a happy hour laughing at the frogs.

Yes, yes…’douche’ means ‘shower’ en Français. That wasn’t the funny part — Head and Shoulders is called Head and Shoulders, but they pronounce it ‘Ed and Sholdères. I laughed.

Between us, we had just enough French to pick up the gist, provided they were speaking slowly enough. Which means the cartoon we watched was hopeless, but we did better with the true crime program Autopsie d’une Injustice.

The really striking thing were the ads, though. There were white people in them. Lots of them!

UK advertisers have signed on to some kind of industry pact vowing to up non-white representation, which they’ve done with a vengeance. Culminating this year, when ad breaks are full of absurd levels of BAMEs. Way, way out of proportion to the actual demographics of Britain.

I tried to find an article about the advertisers self-consciously doing this, and all I found was an industry article whining that BAME representation was at an all-time high, but advertising agencies were still 95% white. Heh.

Anyway, nothing good happens when a white woman from Tennessee talks about race, so I shall leave it there.

Eventually, the…ionosphere, or whatever sciencey thing controls TV signals, shifted and we lost all those new channels. Au revoir to our new French chums.

Back here tomorrow. Six WBT. Dead Pool 132.

July 30, 2020 — 7:29 pm
Comments: 12

I see London I see France…

Today, we drove a long way from home, to Dungeness. It’s the closest bit of England to the continent. And, being a lovely clear day, we could see it with the naked eye. Bonjour, France. Also Dover, White Cliffs of.

It’s a long stretch of shingle beach and we stood watched giant container ships navigate the channel like portable city skylines. There must have been a hundred people out enjoying the sunshine with us.

Then we bought a fish for dinner at the hut pictured. A fish and a half, actually. Local plaice.

It was so fresh, it had rigor mortis. Yes, that’s a thing. It means it probably had been caught within 24 hours.

Life is good when you step away from the news, peeps.

July 29, 2020 — 7:59 pm
Comments: 13