The Anonymous Widower

Is Christmas Coming Early, This Year?

I took this picture on Moorgate!

Is Christmas Coming Early, This Year?

Enough said!

July 7, 2021 Posted by | Food | , | 5 Comments

Did These Strawberries Have Road- Or Rail-Miles?

These strawberries were grown my M Porter in Perthshire and I bought them in the M & S Simply Food store in Waterloo station.

So did they travel between Perthshire and London, by truck or train?

I think the strawberries came from East Seaton Farm, owned by Lochart and Debbie Porter.

If the strawberries were to be grown any further East, they’d be grown in the middle of the North Sea.

But did they come South, by road or rail?

I suspect it was the former, but there is change in the air! Or do I mean on the rails?

In My First Ride In A Class 769 Train, I talked about Rail Operations Group and their proposed Orion parcels service, that will use Class 769 trains.

This service would surely be ideal to bring strawberries and Arbroath smokies to the South.

 

June 8, 2021 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , , | 8 Comments

What Does Novak Djorkovic Tell Us About The Covids?

If you search the Internet for “coeliac disease and Novac Djokovic, you get a lot of posts linking to gluten-free diet and some to coeliac disease.

Some say he is coeliac and others say he is just gluten-free.

There are also reports on the Internet of Novac Djokovic having Covid-19.

So does that tell us anything about gluten-free diets, coeliac disease and Covid-19?

As there are no reports of him spending a long time in hospital, it doesn’t disprove my theory, that coeliacs on a gluten-free diet don’t get serious doses of the Covids!

I’d love to hear more stories of coeliacs on a gluten-free diet, who have caught Covid-19.

 

June 1, 2021 Posted by | Food, Health, Sport | , , | 1 Comment

Are Kraft Heinz Up To Something?

This article on The Times, is entitled Ketchup On Its Way Back To Britain As Kraft Heinz Invests In UK Site.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Heinz tomato ketchup will be made in Britain again after its owner announced plans for a £140 million upgrade of a site on the outskirts of Wigan.

Europe’s largest food manufacturing facility is set to start making the sauces of Kraft Heinz, which also include mayonnaise and salad cream, in a move designed to meet demand in the UK.

I wrote about Kraft recently in Kraft Heinz And Freight Innovation, where they were experimenting with Network Rail to get goods to their Wigan site faster and with less carbon emissions.

I think the two stories might fit together.

have just looked at my 435 gram bottle of Heinz tomato ketchup. It states on the bottle that every 100 grams of the sauce is made from 174 grams of tomatoes. I suspect leaving in the pips and the skins would make a rather lumpy sauce!

But this means that for every tonne of sauce, there is a need for 1.74 tonnes of tomatoes.

Could this be a reason why Kraft Heinz ran an experiment a couple of months ago with bringing in goods to the site at Wigan by rail?

There could be TomatoLiner trains all the way from Spain or Italy.

Or perhaps, they could link Wigan to Lincolnshire or South Yorkshire, where tomatoes could be grown in large automated greenhouses, heated by the waste heat from all the power stations. Carbon dioxide from gas-fired power stations could also be used to make the tomatoes grow big and strong.

Why shouldn’t we eat the carbon dioxide we produce?

The more I look at Google Maps of Lincolnshire and South Yorkshire, the more I think that cost-competitive UK-produced tomatoes could be one of the reasons for this move.

I have found companies like Yorkshire Grown Produce, who grow the speciality varieties of tomatoes for supermarkets. and CambridgeHOK, who design and build the automated greenhouses.

But the problem, all growers of fruit and vegetables face, is the lack of people to do the harvesting, at an affordable price.

  • As a Control Engineer, who has walked on automation, it is my view that robot or automatic harvesting is needed.
  • After all robots don’t get drunk at the weekend and not turn up on Mondays.

I haven’t found a robot that would pick tomatoes yet, but I suspect there’s a company out there working on it.

Yorkshire Grown Produce are in Brough, a few files to the South-West of Hull. and say they can provide quality tomatoes from March to November.

So could a company provide affordable tomatoes to Kraft Heinz’s specification for 9-10 months of the year?

  • Looking at bottles of Ketchup, it appears they have a shelf life of at least a year, so the month’s without tomatoes could be bridged by a warehouse.
  • I also suspect that automated greenhouses could turn out guaranteed Organic tomatoes.
  • The tomatoes would arrive in Wigan the day they are picked.
  • It probably wouldn’t be a large train every day and the line at Wigan is not electrified, so it wouldn’t necessarily be a zero-carbon trip across the Pennines.

I can see an efficient system for the production of tomato ketchup, which could be labelled organic and 100 % British.

How many tonnes of carbon emissions would be saved? Probably not many! But it’s the thought that counts.

If this isn’t technology-aided marketing, I don’t know what is?

Conclusion

How many other production and delivery processes can be simplified by the use of rail?

June 1, 2021 Posted by | Food, Transport | , | 5 Comments

Kraft Heinz And Freight Innovation

In the UK, we certainly need to get more freight on to the railways.

Recently, KraftHeinz were involved in an experiment. A lot of their product currently comes into the UK in containers, which are then taken by road from the ports by truck.

This report about the experiment was on this page of the Modern Railway’s web site.

KraftHeinz’s distribution centre is in the Orrell district of Wigan, with the Wigan Wallgate to Southport route the closest railway line. The trial involved a container train that was sent from Crewe to the branch on an overnight working, with the notional offloading taking place from the running line close to Gathurst station. Also demonstrated was the feasibility of loco run round in this area. Network Rail signallers helped ensure the success of the trial by facilitating the use of a crossover at Parbold station for the run round (some signal alterations would be likely if this became a regular operation).

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. Gathurst station is in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. The KraftHeinz Distribution Centre is in the South-East corner of the map.
  3. The Wigan Wallgate and Southport Line runs between the two.

It was all very convenient for an some intense  night work.

I have some thoughts.

Where’s The Siding?

Years ago a lot of factories and distribution centres like this, would have had a siding.

Many have been sold off and built over, as many companies preferred to use road transport.

Using The Running Line

This was first used in the UK to load timber on to trains in the North of Scotland for transporting to markets in the South.

Surely, the only thing needed is ground strong enough alongside the track to support a container handling machine.

Were JCB Involved?

JCB are innovators and appeared a few days on this blog, in this a post entitled JCB Finds Cheap Way To Run Digger Using Hydrogen.

Although, that post wasn’t about cargo handling, it shows that the company thinks differently and I’m sure they can come up with a pollution-free container-handler to unload containers at night for companies like KraftHeinz.

Conclusion

Surely, if this freight movement were to be used regularly, the signalling changes and perhaps some concrete should be installed.

We need more cargo-handling experiments like this to get more trucks off the road.

May 24, 2021 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Strawberries And Beer

This was my afternoon snack whilst writing on the Internet.

Beer from Suffolk and strawberries from Herefordshire.

 

 

May 12, 2021 Posted by | Food | , , , , | 2 Comments

Freshly Vacuumed Strawberries

I have been eating a few more boxes of Dyson’s strawberries.

They certainly seem clean and could have had a good vacuum before packing.

Unlike some Moroccan ones, which tasted like they’d been sprinkled with some sand from the Sahara.

Plump And Red

Dyson Farming’s strawberries do seem to be very plump and very red.

Is this because they have been grown, so that they will be easy for picking robots to identify in the future?

April 23, 2021 Posted by | Food | , , | Leave a comment

Strawberries From Dyson

With my supper tonight, I had some strawberries from Marks & Spencer.

I regularly eat strawberries and raspberries, when they are available.

But, these were particularly nice.

So I checked the label and found that they had been grown by Dyson Farming in Lincolnshire.

This page on the Dyson Farming web site describes their Strawberry Production.

  • The aim is to help the UK to be self-sufficient in food and cut air miles associated with imported soft fruit.
  • The strawberries are grown in a 15-acre greenhouse.
  • The greenhouse is heated by waste heat from a nearby anaerobic digester.
  • The greenhouse contains 700,000 strawberry plants.
  • Every year 750 tonnes of strawberries will be produced.
  • The website talks of in future using robotic picking and LED lights to prolong the growing season.

Is this the way strawberries will be farmed in the future? You bet, it will!

Dyson Farming seems to be innovating in the growing and marketing of Barley, Oilseed Rape, Peas, Potatoes and Wheat.

Use Of Carbon Dioxide

I wonder if carbon dioxide captured from a gas-fired power station could be added to the greenhouses to aid the production of strawberries. There certainly are a lot of serious research papers on the Internet looking at the effects of carbon dioxide on strawberry production.

Dyson Farm’s location in the South of Lincolnshire, is probably not a good location, as the large power-stations are in the North of the county.

Robotic Picking

I first saw it said in the 1960s, that at some point in the future no fruit will be grown unless it could be harvested by machines

Dyson states they are going that way with strawberries.

Could it also be one of the reasons for large strawberries, which we increasingly see in the shops, is that they ar easier for robots to pick?

LED Lighting To Prolong The Growing Season

This is surely logical, if you have enough electricity.

The Anaerobic Digesters

Their two anaerobic digesters seem to be able to produce a total of around 5 MW of electricity. This is said on the web site.

The anaerobic digesters produce gas which drives turbines producing enough electricity to power the equivalent of 10,000 homes. This green energy also powers the farming operation.

There are two by-products from this process:

Digestate, which is applied to nearby fields as an organic fertiliser to improve soils and crop yields. It is expected that strawberries will be grown in the digestate in future as well.
Heat is captured and used to warm the glasshouse and encourage the strawberries to grow at a time of year when traditionally it has been too cold.

In some ways, the farming operation is run more like an efficient integrated chemical plant, than a large farm.

Conclusion

Anybody with an interest in farming or the environment should read the Dyson Farming web site.

I can envisage a farmer with a sunny but unproductive twenty-acre field contacting Dyson to install their own strawberry greenhouse.

Farming will certainly change.

I shall certainly, be buying Dyson strawberries again.

And I suspect we all will be buying strawberries grown in this way in a few years.

 

April 16, 2021 Posted by | Food | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Serial Cooking – Twelve Minute Fish

I’ve used this recipe for years, since I discovered it in the sadly-missed Dinner Tonight daily recipe in The Times, that was contributed by Lyndsey Bareham.

Note.

  1. I used haddock, but it generally works with any white fish trawled from the depths of the freezer.
  2. I always keep little pots of frozen peas and runner beans for one in my freezer.
  3. I have lots of pots and always split frozen peas up when I buy them.
  4. I usually cook it for one or two, but have cooked it for four.
  5. I’m a bit worried about getting the Carluccio’s olive oil with lemon. But I suspect someone else will supply something similar.

It can’t be too bad, as two friends have asked for the recipe. And they’re still friends.

 

April 16, 2021 Posted by | Food | , , , | Leave a comment

Finsbury Circus Appears Fully Open

I bought my breakfast yesterday in Leon on Moorgate and ate it in the nearby Finsbury Circus Gardens.

It is now fully open.

This picture shows the gardens during the construction of Crossrail.

Note.

  1. The bandstand can be picked out amongst the trees.
  2. The shaft towards the bottom is forty metres deep and was used to get men and materials to the tunnels.

Comparing the pictures shows that the gardens are now able to used for their original purpose.

April 1, 2021 Posted by | Food, Transport, World | , , , | 2 Comments