Tuesday, 27 February 2007


Organizing a surprise holiday becomes a little more complicated when you take into account the need for your travelling companion to be vaccinated before departure.

Still, despite my concerns that this might prove to be a giveaway to our destination, a little research has shown that it is in fact a requirement for most of the European destinations that she hasn't yet been to ....

(indeed, it seems I should have thought of this on a number of my Click'n'Go trips. Ah well, still seem to be alive and kicking!)

Thursday, 22 February 2007

Where in the World?

This time next month, Mum and I will be 1 day into our mystery weekend away...

So far the only clue is that foreign currency will be required. Whether for one or both of us, I'm not saying.

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Fridge Cake

Melt 250g of butter and a 200g bar of dark chocolate. Whilst this is melting, break up a 400g packet of digestive biscuits until you have a mixture of fine crumbs and some larger chunks (I usually put them in a plastic bag and beat them with a rolling pin).

Once the chocolate mixture is melted, mix the two together and then press the mixture into a baking tray. Leave in the fridge overnight, and then it's ready to cut up and eat.

Serving suggestion: it's lethal with whipped cream.
Possible variations: I quite fancy trying it with a bit of mint flavour.
Healthier version: may be some of the butter could be substituted with milk?

Note that the ingredient proportions are pretty approximate as I tend to just go by packet size, which differs between England and Holland... I have seen various different recipes, some of which require you to add brown sugar or syrup. So if you don't like this variant, experiment!

Visit to York

Mum and Dad organized a surprise day-out for me last Sunday, as a birthday treat. They managed to keep the destination secret until we were about 10 miles out - a visit to York, somewhere I haven't been in about 15 years.

We started out with, no real prizes for guessing this one, a visit to the National Railway Museum. This, along with the Jorvik Viking Museum, is the only place I remember from childhood visits, although only vaguely.

The museum is vast, with a large collection of steam, diesel and electric engines, as well as complete carriage sets. One of the most interesting exhibitions was a steam engine that looked like it was undergoing open-boiler surgery, allowing you to see how it worked internally.

My other favourite exhibit was the live replica of the signalling control system at York railway station. This gave live images of the state of the signals at the station and nearby junctions, in conjunction with feed from a video camera at Skelton Junction. The system was set up at a window, so that you watch a train coming out of the station at the same time as following its progress on the screens.

The second part to our day in York, was to attend choral evensong at the Minster.

The music list for the service was:

Responses: Rose
Psalm: 147
Magnificat: Swayne
Nunc Dimittis: Wood in Bb
Anthem: If the Lord had not helped me, Bairstow

Aside from the Rose responses, which I have sung, all the music was new to me. Both the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis settings were in Latin, which is fairly unusual. Despite the impression that might give you, though, the Swayne was a very modern setting, and sounded like quite a challenge to sing.

Also interesting to me was that the musical director, Philip Moore, is the composer of one of the settings I sung last summer with the European Cathedral Singers, in Southwell Minster.

After the service we were able to wander around the Minster for a little while. There is an astronomical clock which is well worth seeing, and also a lovely Chapter House, with a beautiful ceiling, and great acoustics (I tried them out).

Sunday, 4 February 2007

SK185 - Molecules, Medicines and Drugs

Great excitement when I got home on Friday night (or should that be Saturday morning) after a relaxing few drinks at our monthly choir social, and found a parcel waiting for me.

Despite the lateness of the hour, I had to rip open the box of materials for my new Open University course, amongst them a molecular modelling kit.

This little beastie is an aspirin molecule - black balls represent carbon, red ones are oxygen, and the white ones, hydrogen.