Bags of Tea

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Like many a geek, I am an obsessive coffee drinker. I love good coffee, spend ages tinkering around with methods of making it, and find it genuinely hard to do without. I don’t feel quite the same about tea, but I do enjoy good tea, and like trying new varieties. For many years (and for reasons I can’t adequately justify), I’ve made do with tea bags, which is the equivalent of drinking instant coffee.

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Gooseberry Jam

One of the things about having even a semi-successful allotment is that you end up with gluts of things. You can (and we do) give some stuff away to friends or neighbouring allotmenteers, but you inevitably still end up with quite a lot of one thing at a time. We’ve currently got a lot of gooseberries (despite the best efforts of the greedy wood pigeons on the allotment), and since there’s only so much crumble two people can eat, I decided to make some jam.

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Biodynamics and Headology

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Last week I watched Valentine Warner's What to Eat Now seasonal cookery programme. In this episode, Valentine visited a biodynamic farmer, who explained some of the principles of biodynamic farming. The farmer -- whose name I forget, but who seemed a very nice, cheery sort of chap -- showed Valentine how he makes his compost heap. Since I started growing my own veg, I've become a bit of a compost nerd1, and I was whistling appreciatively at the sight of the lovely ingredients the farmer had on his heap.

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Lynmouth

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We spent a few days last week on holiday in North Devon, staying at Lynmouth. When we actually stopped to think about it, we realised that it was the first holiday (as opposed to work travel) we'd had in 3 years, and I certainly felt like we needed it! In the last few years, we seem to have always been too busy, had too little money or to have been doing things like moving house to make even a short break practical.

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Repair and reuse

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I've complained before about the poor quality of modern appliances, and the difficulty of getting them repaired, and on occasions I've deliberately chosen items because I know that spare parts were available. When I bought a Dyson vacuum cleaner several years ago, it was partly for the performance (which is great), and partly because they promised to be easy to repair. We had to put that to the test recently, when our trusty Dyson cut out and failed to power on again.

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Bike rage

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Perhaps it's because it is Bike to Work day today in San Francisco, but there seems to have been a lot of controversy stirred up on the web this week by the gentle art of cycling. First, there was the ridiculous assertion that cycling is less efficient in terms of energy consumption than driving, as if we -- in developed countries -- need to consume any extra food to fuel our cycle rides or as if drivers fast to compensate for the energy not used when driving their cars.

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Good, cheap, fast

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[About this time of year, the pressure of exam marking robs me of the ability to string thoughts together in a coherent way, so please forgive the somewhat rambling (or more rambling than usual) article below. Lacks structure or a properly constructed argument, and shows little evidence of independent reading. 2.2] There's a well known saying in project management circles: Good, cheap, fast: pick any two. I've been thinking recently that something similar could be applied to eco-friendly or ethical products.

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Easy adjustment

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A month after getting my new bike I'm a thorough convert to hub gears. Not only are they wonderfully smooth in use and pretty much sealed against the crud that comes off the path, but -- as I discovered today -- they are also a dream to adjust. New bikes tend to need a bit of tightening up after a few weeks of use and settling in. Cables stretch and fixings loosen, and you find that gears start to drift out of correct adjustment.

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