timscience: (sundial)
While the rest of Oxfords was at Truck, we went to the Milton Keynes International Festival. We'd been a couple of years ago and liked it then. This year, on friday only, we had the chance to have a go on Jeremy Deller's Bouncy Stonehenge. It was that or the Mystery Jets. I think the choice was clear.

Bouncy Stonehenge

Distance shot

Slightly smaller version round the back of the shopping centre

Boat in the shoppng centre made from Significant Pieces of Wood. It needed to be craned in.

Glowing time portal thing in Campbell Park. Not part of the festival, just part of general MK futuristic weirdness.

Grotto of glowing vests. Part of the Fire Garden.

Moving fire sculpture. The fire garden was hard to light (there had been a downpour at about 6.00) but spectacular once it got going.

All images and more from Jeremy's Flickr here.

Milton Keynes is great.
timscience: (sundial)
OMG. This still exists - everyone assumed it had gone when the flats containing it were demolished but the whole thing was secretly removed as one piece and is now in a specially commisioned building in Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

It will reopen to the public in spring next year. See it if you can, it is a thing of astonishing beauty.

timscience: (strange food)
I have hated sprouts all my life - horrible, sulphurous things - but there are clearly people who like them. Apparently there's a gene, and if you have it you have a taste receptor for a particular chemical that makes sprouts taste rotten (don't ask me for a link for this, by the way, I read it in the days before the internet and can't remember where).

So, anyway, a couple of days ago there was an article in the Guardian about Heston Blumethal Christmas food and along with the meat fruit (put the eggs and alcohol reduction in a sous vide bag for 20 minutes in a water bath....blend in a thermomix at 50 degrees etc etc) was this gem: "Brussel sprouts? The stalks are revolting, so steam the leaves and serve with smoked bacon and garlic. That should see you through."

So. According to Heston it's the stalks that are the source of the vileness.

Now I can reveal that I have done as Heston suggests and found his words to be true. Who'd have thought it? Sprout leaves are nice. Delicate and sweet. Is this what people who like sprouts have been tasting all these years?

I have to say though that J and I, as long time sprout haters, are a little weirded out.

Edit We are also considering the possibility that, like the Aubergine which seems to have been worked on by plant breeders until it is no longer horribly bitter, the sprout has changed over the last 20 years. We still have half a packet left so next time we will try a couple of whole sprouts as well. I'll let you know how it goes. /edit Well, we tried that and the badness is back. So Heston was right.
timscience: (toys_mr atomic)
We've been here a week now and the place is slowly transforming into *ours* rather than *somebody else's which we are living in*. Part of this process has involved Putting Up Shelves, which in turn involves
- a hammer drill with an alarming habit of loosening its chuck at critical moments.
- a suprising amount of money being spent on what is, after all, a very simple set of items (upright rails, brackets, melamine board and/or pine planks).
- the discovery that Homebase will not saw spruce to length ("it has knots, you see"). Apparently they don't sell that much of it. I wonder why.
- swearing.
- an immense amount of plaster/brick dust.
- the discovery that neither our skirting board nor our ceiling are horizontal except in a very loose sense of the word.
- more swearing.

Now, it turns out that a mixture of cat hair and brick dust will totally block a baby Vax within approx 1 nanosecond. Fortunately, we visited my mum at the weekend (she is recovering from a hip operation but seems to be mending nicely and was keen to show us her X-rays). My mum has a Kirby (TM).

Still Life with Kirby (TM) and shelves

Kirbys (TM) are basically industrial cleaning systems that get mis-sold to householders. Kirby (TM) salesmen are legendary for their persistence and powers of persuasion. The story goes that my mum left the house for a hair appointment just as a salesman called. She left strict instructions to my dad to NOT BUY IT on the not unreasonable grounds that it cost £900. When she returned my Dad was looking very smug, and the Kirby (TM) was sitting malevolently on the carpet.

In its defence, I can report that the Kirby (TM) does not fuck about. Teasel fears it, and he is right to do so. So powerful is the suction and so heavy is the cleaner that it needs drive assist. As it is therefore essentially a motor vehicle, it is only fitting that it has a headlight. It has a fearsome array of accessories, including an orbital sander and, I shit you not, a massager (worryingly, these share the same attachment and differ only in whether you atttach sandpaper or a vinyl pad to it).

If you doubt me on this I will start posting scans of the manual.

Anyway, the shelves are up. The Kirby (TM) disposed of the brick dust with comtemptuous ease. I just can't imagine when you'd use one domestically, except for just-moved-in situations. I will have to return it eventually. In the meantime I'm ensuring I know Teasel's whereabouts at all times.