Return of the pie

We’ve been eating mostly healthy food over the last several months and so a previous staple of my diet has mostly disappeared: pies.

I love pies – savoury or sweet. They’re the pinnacle of pastry-topped food and I love them. I just haven’t been eating them very much recently.

However, I managed to revisit Pie Heaven today during a visit to the rather excellent Bottle Kiln. This is a lovely old pottery that’s been turned into an artsy shop with a café and Japanese garden. The menu is very simple, and a little expensive, but delicious. I had a large slice of ambrosia topped with shortcrust pastry – an utterly delicious pie with pork, stuffing, leek and apple. I even had the mixed salad – it was lovely and I normally hate salad!

Jo and I needed cheering up today and this was just the ticket. A little bit of luxury.

I’m not clairvoyant but I’m not seeing too many pies in my immediate future. It matters not, though, as I can still taste this one. Lovely.

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Aunt Flo

In the absense of any proper blog posts, here’s a delightfully educational video from those nice people at Disney from way back in 1946. It’s about the horror of the “women’s curse”:

Via BoingBoing. I’ve been a little busy/lazy lately but I promise to post a bit more frequently soon.

Peak fitness

Back in the day (and I mean way back) I used to really enjoy the odd day traipsing about in the hills with friends. I ended up lugging my (then) skinny frame around the Brecon Beacons during my RAF Trade Training and I’ve been known to visit Snowdonia and The Lake District from time to time. I’ve been up the tallest mountains in England and Wales and I’ve gone for a run around one of the smaller lakes near Ambleside.

This was all in my youth, a period of my life that seems to be becoming more distant in my memory. It’s not that I’m ancient or anything but I’m approaching 40 and the stuff I used to do in my early twenties almost seems like it was done by someone else.

However, apart from some dodgy knees and a lazy disposition I’m actually in rather good health, so I was pleased when the Nottingham Flickr Group decided to organise a visit to the Derbyshire Peaks to see if we couldn’t climb some large hills and take some nice photos. Five of us turned out in the end and we set out from Edale in some half-decent British weather.

I say “half-decent” in that it wasn’t raining. This is always a good thing when walking in the Peaks but the overcast conditions didn’t really offer wonderful photographic lighting. Still, we were hear primarily for the walk (honest!) and at least we weren’t either getting drenched or boiled to death in an unlikely sunny day.

Derbyshire rocks I took my Canon 400D with me but I was intending to take as many “Through the viewfinder” shots of the day as I could. This technique involves me taking a second camera (an ancient Kodak Duaflex in my case) and taking a photo of the viewfinder of that camera with my dSLR. It sounds a bit odd, and it is. It looks odd too as I’ve attached an old Pringles tube to the Duaflex to cut out any light impacting on my photography. I got some very strange looks from people wondering why I was peering constantly into a tube of Pringles!

Notwithstanding my comedy photographic equipment we managed to stop taking photos long enough to wend our way up towards Grinsbrook Cough – a monster climb up a rocky slope. I’ve been up worse than this before (Scafell Pike I’m thinking of you) but my 39 year-old knees aren’t weren’t so pleased to be subjected to this sort of abuse. Still, considering my recent injury problems my knees managed OK on our way up to the top where we stopped for lunch and admire the absolutely spectacular views back down the valley.

Long way down This place is amazing. It’s not as rugged or as high as The Lakes or much of the Scottish Highlands but these Derbyshire Peaks are just bloody lovely. There was a bit too much cloud about and visibility could have been much better it felt great to have made the effort to lug ourselves up here and drink it all in. Our sandwiches certainly tasted better as a result.

After a short break we headed over the peaty hills. We visited a few more peaks (although I’m buggered if I know what they’re called!) before stopping for a well-deserved ice-cream at a farm not far from the finish. We were getting tired by now – none of us are getting any younger – and we were certainly ready for our pints at The Rambler in Edale when we arrived at the finish.

It was a really fun day with some great company. Special props to Dave for organising it and to Austen for the advanced driving tips in his car on the way there. Cheers fellas!

Journalists suck at science

Over the last year or so I’ve developed a taste for scepticism. I’m finding myself questioning the reporting of news more and more, but mostly I’ve just been appalled at the quality of critical thinking in the media. I’m also distressed to see that our planet seems chock full of people that are happy to believe any old crap if they set their mind to it.

The media's MMR hoax
The media's MMR hoax

Most of the British news media are ignorant of science, at least, that’s the logical conclusion considering the lack of objectivity when considering news stories that feature anything vaguely science-related. Ben Goldacre is the exception to the rule – a journalist that actually knows what they’re talking about, especially where medicine-related news is concerned. He’s a physician by trade and writes a weekly column in the Guardian concerning poor science practice and the shocking quality of reporting of such things.

Ben expands on his Guardian column on his blog – Bad Science. I subscribe to the blog feed and I’m often entertained by his dismemberment of various news stories on pseudoscience and other quackery, especially his article on poo-specialist and closet Terrahawk impersonator Gillian McKeith.

I was especially pleased to read one of his latest articles on one of the British press’s darkest hours – the reporting around the MMR link to Autism. Ben postulates that the media needs to take a good look at itself over the way it’s reported on this whole mess. He also points the finger at Leo Blair (or rather, his parents) for giving members of the British public more reason to try and avoid giving their own children the MMR vaccine.

Ben points out, quite correctly, that there is no proof that the MMR jab causes Autism. In fact, there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary. MMR is an important boost to an infant’s immune system and the media’s insistence in fueling this hoax has put many, many children at risk.

Don’t believe the anti-vaxxers. The evidence suggests that vaccinations do not cause Autism. No matter how loudly people may shout to the contrary (and they do) just about all the research into MMR (and associated international alternatives) shows that the jab gives children way more benefit than any potential risk.

Don’t put your children at risk due to this media frenzy. Immunise.