The Anonymous Widower

Basil Crop Hits The Roof At Scunthorpe Vertical Farm With Artificial Sun

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in The Times.

It is a fascinating article about how basil is farmed vertically in Scunthorpe.

  • Much of the crop goes to UK supermarkets.
  • The grower has now teamed with Ocado to build the largest vertical farm in the world.
  • The grower is also growing rosemary, chard and spinach. Although the latter looked a bit sad.
  • He has also experimented with turnips and carrots and hopes to move on to soft fruits and cut flowers.

Surely, the only way is Up!

Is the farmer feeding the crops carbon dioxide captured from the massive Keadby gas-fired power-stations in the area?

That way we can generate our electricity with added CO2 and eat it.

I know of a tomato grower, who uses a gas-powered combined heat and power boiler to heat his greenhouses, where the CO2 is fed to the tomatoes and any electricity he doesn’t need is sold to local consumers.

If we can eat all the CO2, why not go fracking for the gas? The only losers would be the Qataris and Putin.


October 21, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Food | , , , | Leave a comment

Who Stole All The M & S Gluten-Free Food?

Over the last few weeks, certain gluten-free lines in Marks and Spencer have started getting difficult to find.

Some of the things, I like that have been difficult have included.

  • Ginger snap biscuits.
  • Gluten-free pies
  • Scones
  • Bloomer slices
  • Gluten-free muesli

Note that my supper is usually something I cook myself from scratch or one of the many M & S ready meals, that contain no gluten. It is usually washed down by a bottle of Adnams low-alcohol beer and followed by some fruit. Tonight, the fruit will be one of my favourites, which are strawberries and bananas.

I did think that the shortage of the lines I mentioned was due to a supply problem.

But then, there have not been shortages of other lines, that I buy, that are not specifically gluten-free.

So is it some gluten-free suppliers are having problems? Possibly.


Regular readers of this blog will know that I believe that those coeliacs on a long-term gluten free diet seem to be unlikely to suffer a severe dose of the dreaded covids. There was no battle with the second dose!

I know for a start that my immune system gives short shift to any viral invaders, as it did with the AstraZeneca vaccine before they came to a truce.

So have others, including some with more medical knowledge than myself, come to the same conclusion about coeliac disease, the immune system, gluten and the covids and have gone gluten-free for safety?

For example, I’ve heard that those suffering from long covid have been tested for coeliac disease.

I’d love to be able to analyse the sales of gluten-free food.


October 11, 2021 Posted by | Food, Health | , , , , , , | 10 Comments

An Unusual Find In My Food Cupboard

I found this can of Heinz Tomato Soup in my food cupboard.

What happened to it?

  • It looks like a half-eaten tin of meat.
  • It is dated March 2014.

I never usually buy tomato soup.

September 30, 2021 Posted by | Food | | 3 Comments

Is There Anybody Out There, Who’d Like To Share a Beef Bourguignon?

Recently, Marks and Spencer introduced a range of meat dishes, one of which was Beef Bourguignon.

So I bought one today.

  • There is a range of about six dishes.
  • All of the range seems to be gluten-free and is marked as such.
  • As they don’t look gluten-free from the picture, they would be ideal for serving at a mixed meal, where some diners were gluten-free and others were not!
  • They seem to be simple to cook.
  • The Use-By date is the 27th October.

If I have a quibble, it is that they are only for two and they also say Do Not Reheat on the box, which means that coeliacs like me, who live alone have a problem.

Perhaps they need a single portion.

But to solve my problem, if there is anybody reading this, who is close to Dalston and would like to test the Beef Bourguignon, then get in touch before the 27th!


September 27, 2021 Posted by | Food | , , | 1 Comment

Should We Stun Animals With Carbon Dioxide?

This post has been prompted by a text from a cardiologist. He said.

Current CO2 crisis reminds me that I think we should be using nitrogen to stun animals before slaughter, not CO2.

I heard a project on Farming Today a few months ago about CO2 stunning and thought it a great mistake as it can stimulate breathing and cause distress in some.

Have you seen anything on using nitrogen?

I haven’t but I must admit, I’ve had the thought myself and have also asked myself, if the gas in food packages is nitrogen, which would be logical to me.

I do have some thoughts.

The Best Beef I Ever Tasted

Over forty years ago, I used to buy beef from a local farmer in Suffolk.

  • It would now be considered organic.
  • All the farmer’s animals got the best care.
  • He used to slaughter the animals himself in the field after giving them a pick of grass, using a captive bolt.

It was certainly, the best beef, I’ve ever tasted. But then the animals suffered no distress.

Medical Uses Of Carbon Dioxide

This is from the Wikipedia entry for carbon dioxide.

In medicine, up to 5% carbon dioxide (130 times atmospheric concentration) is added to oxygen for stimulation of breathing after apnea and to stabilize the O2/CO2 balance in blood.

This would appear to support the cardiologist’s text.

Is Carbon Dioxide Cheaper Than Nitrogen?

I have found these prices for ten litre cylinder of both gases.

  • Carbon Dioxide – £78
  • Nitrogen – £54

On this quick comparison, there would appear to not be a large difference.

Availability Of Nitrogen

Reading the Wikipedia entry for nitrogen, it appears to me, that production of oxygen-free nitrogen is not that difficult and this may explain the price comparison with carbon dioxide.

Nitrogen And The Death Penalty In The United States

This is a section called Euthanasia in the Wikipedia entry for nitrogen.

Nitrogen gas has become the inert gas of choice for inert gas asphyxiation, and is under consideration as a replacement for lethal injection in Oklahoma.

As nitrogen is an asphyxiant gas, some jurisdictions have considered inert gas asphyxiation by inhalation of pure nitrogen as a means of capital punishment (as a substitute for lethal injection).

I have been totally against the death penalty since meeting Jimmy O’Connor in the 1970s.


It strikes me that nitrogen could be used to stun animals as a more humane alternative to carbon dioxide.

September 24, 2021 Posted by | Food | , , , | 4 Comments

Food Shortages Looming After Factory Closures Hit Production

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on The Times.

This is the first paragraph.

Acute food shortages were feared last night after high gas prices forced most of Britain’s commercial production of carbon dioxide to shut down.

In some ways, this is rather ironic, when on the one hand we are trying to stop the emission of carbon dioxide and on the other we haven’t got enough for important uses in the food industry.

Perhaps we should fit carbon capture to a handy gas-fired power station, like SSE are planning to do at Keadby and use this carbon dioxide.

If the shortage continues, there’ll be no dry ice for the pantomimes this Christmas.

September 17, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Food, World | , , , , | 3 Comments

Denmark Hill Station – 4th September 2021

The article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Denmark Hill Station First To Use Innovative Solar Technology In Europe.

The first two paragraphs describe the technology.

Denmark Hill station has become the first train station in Europe to have BIPVco’s Flextron thin film technology installed, on top of other upgrades, following a £7.5m extension.

The sophisticated and flexible solar panels are different from traditional ‘glass like’ panels, requiring no additional weight support, and will be used across other stations going forward.


  1. In the application of the technology at Denmark Hill station, a surplus of electricity is returned to the grid.
  2. BIPVco is a company based in South Wales, that evolved from research by Tata Steel and Swansea University, with the backing of the Welsh Government.
  3. The panels are lightweight, flexible, durable and self-cleaning.

Many years ago, I put up a barn based on timber beams, which had a sheet steel roof. These panels would be ideal for many agricultural buildings, like the one I commissioned.

These are pictures I took at Denmark Hill station, this morning.


  1. The original station was designed by Charles Henry Driver.
  2. The new entrance displays a high degree of craftsmanship, especially in the brickwork.
  3. The coffee and gluten-free cake I had in FCB Coffee were excellent.
  4. The station has its own pub; The Phoenix.

According to Network Rail, it has already been nominated for two architectural awards.

September 4, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Food, Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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 | , | 6 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