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A photo of Orion. And my new powerful LED bulb... oh, sorry, that's Luna. ☺

Orion and the Moon
Eso es Orión y yo me soy Luna.


Potato patch in 2022?

Clearly one must rotate crops. I will have to put the potatoes somewhere else. Not entirely sure where, but I'm sure I can think of something.

As for what to put in the existant potato patch (formerly a massive pile of brambles), well, something like this?

Seeds to plant
Seeds to plant.<

I wasn't looking too much to leeks because I don't think they can be stored for too long, however the carrot instructions say that planting carrots with leeks is mutually beneficial as the leeks dissuade pests that like carrots.
I'll have another try with the melons. I might get something this year?

I also plan to plant either onions or shallots, but I've not bought any yet.

I have picked up a pack of potatoes. Bintje again, same as last year. I might have given Charlotte a second try, but they didn't have any.

Bintje seed potatoes
Bintje seed potatoes.



Yup, out hack'n'slash the brambles again. This time, I've gotten to more or less what I had hoped I'd get done someday, which was considerably more than I'd set out to do. But since I can't really use mechanised tools on a Sunday and it's supposed to be a storm blowing through, I decided I'd set to bramble slaying today.
Yup, it's pretty much a rinse and repeat of last Saturday.


Bloody Brexit (and parcels)

I have recently ordered two books from Amazon Marketplace, books sent from Britain.

Books (cover images lifted from Amazon).<

The book on the left is just to rekindle some old forgotten memories, since I've been fiddling with TurboC recently. I don't mind picking up the book for a handful of euros.
The book on the right ought to be obvious why. ☺

Exactly none of them got here. The Halogen Oven Cookbook was from WeBuyBooks UK (sent via "Other"), and the TurboC guide was from worldofbooks fr (sent via "Mail Handling International").

Both refunded my money without problem, but I'd really like to know what is going on. I'm also wary of ordering any other books from the UK - firstly because of the hassles of sorting out when things go wrong, and secondly how many times can I say "it never arrived" before Amazon start to doubt me?

The Halogen book I got 'new' from Amazon, at twice the price.
The TurboC++ book, I've abandoned. Mine was a "very good" copy. The current offers are "good" and "acceptable" for three or four times as much...


Now for something even more bizarre. Here is the contents of a parcel I received midweek.

The first parcel
The first parcel.

I asked a friend in Somerset if he could send me some proper cake mix. I have had no success making anything that resembled a decent cake in France, and god knows the cakes they sell over here are dreadful. The big thing around here is the "quartre quarts" which is sort of like a pound cake, only sturdy enough you could cut off pieces and dunk them into coffee, or use to patch holes in stone walls... As a person who liked a nice fluffy Victoria Sponge, I'm sure you'll understand why this fills me with horror.

I'm not sure if it's my technique, or if it is because there's a fundamental difference between British and French flour. You might say "it's just white powder" but over here basic flour comes in varieties referred to by some sort of number - T45, T55, T65 or T110 (I think that's them). There is cake flour with raising agents included, but if it's aimed at making the housebrick known as quatre quarts then clearly it won't be up to making a real cake.

There were two packs of Bramley Apple Pies that didn't really survive the journey. One pack has already been eaten, and the second pack (the one you can see) just happens to have it's use by date be the 12th of February. Oh, that's today! I guess I'd better enter them into the digestion system... such hardship...

I'll add, Anna also approves. I let her out to enjoy the sunshine and she spent a long time clawing at the ground hoovering up the dropped crumbs. I had to pick her up (she wasn't happy with that) and drop her on top of the plate of Felix before she realised it was there. Even more comically, she started to run back to the crumbs before stopping so suddenly she fell over, turned her head around to look at the plate. She was like "oh, hang on a minute", and I was franctically facepalming myself.
Anna is a good looking cat, but really lacking in the cluons.

Anyway, this parcel was delivered on Wednesday. Just left in the letterbox.


Today, I received this parcel.

The second parcel
The second parcel.

Icing for the other two cakes (cream cheese for the carrot cake, and vanilla buttercream for the vanilla sponge), and just in case I burn the cakes (ho ho, it's a dinky electric oven, more likely the complete opposite!) there are two packs of vanilla loaf (like the quatre quarts) and two packs of chocolate chip cookie mix. Note that it's gooey chocolate chip cookies. Brilliant. The French can't do biscuits either (ironic, given it's a flippin' French word!), with most of the non-chocolate-covered biscuits in the supermarket being various incarnations of burnt offerings. Again, I think they're intended to be dunked into coffee. So they're pretty unpleasant to eat by themselves. God I miss Garibaldi (squashed-bug-biscuit).

The reason for the two parcels is because everything came to just under 4kg. Sending that cost three times as much as a 2kg parcel, so the sender decided to send it as two 2kg parcels.

The postman drove up and said to me that the parcel had been held back a day so it could be delivered when I was here (lucky I didn't go to Big Town then!). Why? Because he wanted €9 in import duty.

Let's get something clear. The declared value of the items was £9, and the postage was £13,something. And the duty I had to pay? Equivalent of £7.53. Or basically 84% tax!

I think this may have happened because the sender ticked the "Other" box on the customs form rather than ticking "Gift". I can't compare with the first parcel as there's only the far left of that customs label remaining, it looks like it got eaten by one of the parcel handling machines.

Still... one arrives okay, one wants a large amount of duty paid, and two books never turn up. F***ing Brexit Bollocks.


The Playmobil man, by the way, has finally made it back to me after forty years. The person that sent me these things used to work on the S.S. Canberra, and later some other ships like cargo and a cable layer. I gave him the Playmo person when I was eight. It's been around the world numerous times, both on the World Cruise on the Canberra, and when the other ships did long hauls. It's had a much more exciting life than me, and now all these years later has finally returned.

I feel like I ought to rig up the hose to spray water for the homecoming, just like when the Canberra came back from the Falklands.


Abusing the star-trails long exposure mode

I thought I'd have a crack at seeing if the overlapping long exposure mode that creates the star trails photographs would work in the day.

Water trails
Water trails.

There is some overlap of the exposure here as I was holding the phone rather than using a tripod, however you can clearly see the trails of the water bubbles in the water. The bubbles are created by the waterfall, and there's a little whirlpool where the bubbles go around and around.



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David Boddie, 12th February 2022, 23:41
You might have better luck ordering a copy from the US: 3807659 
I ordered a new book from Alibris themselves, not a seller on their platform, and got it shipped to Norway. I had to mess around with the postal service to convince them that it was only a book, not book plus something else, so avoided the VAT and fees that they were trying to charge me. 
I don't know what the VAT on books situation in France is like, but it might be worth a punt.
Bernard, 13th February 2022, 00:49
As a gap year student in Grenoble a very long time ago, my landlady Mme Salvaniac, on my very first day asked me for my mother’s recipe for ‘les buns anglais’ (you can imagine her pronunciation of ‘buns’). I think we went for rock buns, though I was never sure what she was hoping for.
Rick, 13th February 2022, 08:21
David - book inexpensive, postage not so much. :( 
Bernard - scones?
Gavin Wraith, 13th February 2022, 12:52
'Cake' is a very flexible word. Danish aeblekage doesn't use flour at all. It uses 'rasp', finely ground toasted breadcrumbs. You can get aeblekage rasp in most supermarkets in Denmark. The recipe for aeblekage is simple, no cooking involved once you have the rasp and apple mousse, hot or cold. In a flat-bottomed glass bowl put down a layer of rasp, then a layer of mousse, then a layer of whipped cream, and repeat ad libitum. You can do this while the first course is being cleared away. The point of aeblekage is that each layer should keep its own texture: the rasp dry and crunchy, the mouse tart and moist, the cream smooth. We have it instead of Christmas pudding. And the remains are splendid for breakfast the next day.
Gavin Wraith, 13th February 2022, 12:55
Sorry about the missing 's' there!
J.G.Harston, 13th February 2022, 18:48
When I lived in Hong Kong somebody once brought a "cake" into work. I was more like a trifle, you had to eat it from a bowl with a spoon. Over the weekend I made a proper jam and cream sponge cake with a light covering of butter icing and took in it th enext week. Y'know, something you slice with a kernife and eat holding in your hand. I think I was the only person who ate any of it. 
J.G.Harston, 13th February 2022, 18:55
About a year ago my nephew sent me something from Hong Kong. I can't remember what it was now, but the customs label declared it as a gift worth HK$50. It wasn't delivered, but rather a demand for import tax of £105. 
Some moron in UK Customs had taken the GBP/HKD exchange rate of HK$12ish and *MULTIPLIED* HK$50 by 12 and come to £600 - instead of about £4. And demanded 17.5% of £600 instead of zero-rating it as too trivial to collect. 
British Officialdom continues to strenuously prove the Remainers' case that we are too stupid to run our own country and need foreigners to do it for us.
Rick, 13th February 2022, 18:55
"Let them eat cake" was actually referring to brioche (a sort of bread with butter and egg) rather than cake as in gâteau. 
Oh, and it predates Marie Antoinette too. ;)
J.G.Harston, 13th February 2022, 18:57
ObWhich, a survey was published today stating that 48% of UK MPs couldn't give the correct probability of getting two heads from flipping two coins. :(
David Pilling, 18th February 2022, 03:24
Seemingly one renowned producer of specialist plants has stopped trading with the EU citing deliberate destruction of documentation by their customs. 
Carrots suffer from carrot root fly - that's the one that can be stopped by a low barrier - they don't fly high. 
Onions - if growing from seed, you need to get a move on. The other (easier) way is from sets - small onions. Onions are easier than carrots. 
Flour. I am inclined to send you a bag of Sainsbury's finest sponge flour - but sounds like I'd be wasting my time. How countries denote different flours is interesting - perhaps better than here - but we know what we're doing - strong flour for bread. Anyway this is what it says on Google (you want T45, not the others). 
T45 Swiss-Bake French Style Flour, 25kg bag 
Soft Wheat, White Fine flour for cakes 
Pure French style flour, perfect for making high quality cakes and sweets. It is fine, soft and white in colour. It is very light in texture and has very little mineral content. T45 is finely ground flour using the soft wheat varieties. 
It is not suitable for bread but is typically used for brioche and sometimes for croissants. T45 refers to the amount of mineral content that is left after burning the flour i.e. T45 has 0.45% mineral content. 

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