The Anonymous Widower

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

Belgrove House – A New Entrance For King’s Cross Tube Station

The title of this post, is the same as that as this article on Ian Visits, with the addition of Belgrove House,

This is the introductory paragraph.

An isolated box entrance to King’s Cross tube station is to be demolished and replaced with a new step-free entrance as part of a building development.

I went and took these pictures today, as I needed a few bits of shopping, which I bought in the area.

Note.

  1. The busy Euston Road which is a major route into and out of London in front of the two stations.
  2. The two station boxes on the South side of Euston Road, making the pavements difficult places to walk at times.
  3. The subway is step-free to all the Underground lines at Kings Cross and to both National Rail stations on the North side of Euston Road.

The block with the access self-store and the entrance to the station in front, will be replaced by a substantial new building, with step-free entrance to the existing subway.

This web page is entitled Welcome to the Consultation Website for Belgrove House and Acorn House.

It more of less does what it says and has this statement on the page.

This site presents our aspirations for an exciting new project for Camden; a life science Discovery Hub and UK HQ as a centre of excellence for MSD UK at Belgrove House along with affordable housing at Acorn House. It involves two interlinked sites within the King’s Cross ward of the London Borough of Camden – Belgrove House is located on Euston Road and fronts onto the King’s Cross Square and Acorn House is located a four minute walk away on Gray’s Inn Road.

We have now updated our website to include virtual exhibition boards where you can view the proposals for both sites in detail, see the consultation that has been undertaken to date and review the feedback that we have received so far. This is also an opportunity for you to give us your feedback on the plans ahead of a planning application being submitted to Camden Council at the end of August 2020.

The virtual exhibition boards can be viewed here.

The web page also features this visualisation of the building.

I have read most of the virtual exhibition boards and I wish that more consultation websites would be only half as good as this one.

These are a few points from the exhibition boards.

Cafe

There will be a publicly available cafe on the ground floor.

Many times in my life, I’ve arrived early and there is nowhere suitable to wait.

Carbon-Efficient Building

This is obvious from the proposal and raises its green head everywhere in the proposal.

Heating

It will be an all-electric building, with no combustion on site.

There will be air-source heat pumps and heat recovery.

Innovative Biophilic Façade

Wikipedia says this about biophilic design.

Biophilic design is a concept used within the building industry to increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature, and space and place conditions. Used at both the building and city-scale, it is argued that this idea has health, environmental, and economic benefits for building occupants and urban environments, with few drawbacks. Although its name was coined in recent history, indicators of biophilic design have been seen in architecture from as far back as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

This sounds to me, like the sort of post-Covid working environment we need to tempt people back into offices.

Parking

This is said about cycle and car parking.

We are proposing over 350 cycling parking spaces as part of our proposals for Belgrove House. These will be accessed via its own entrance located on Belgrove Street. We are also not proposing any car parking spaces as the area benefits from excellent transport connections.

I can’t see many disagreeing with that.

Recycled Building

I particularly liked this paragraph.

In line with the low-carbon strategy, the team intends to recycle and reuse existing building materials on the site where possible, such as bricks where these are salvageable. The re-use of these materials will reduce the embodied carbon of the new building.

Some of the buildings, I’ve commissioned have made extensive use of recycled bricks. And very fine, they’ve looked too!

Service Vehicles

This is said about servicing the offices and the retail units.

All servicing and deliveries for the Belgrove House offices/lab space will take place via the ground floor loading bay, with any vehicles entering the site from Crestfield Street and exiting onto Crestfield Street. The retail element of the development will be serviced from Crestfield Street in the same way as the existing McDonalds unit.

Sounds fair to me.

The more I read about this building the more I like it.

MSD

The main tennant will be MSD.

This is said about the company and its involvement in Belgrove House.

The proposals for Belgrove House have been designed to meet the needs of Knowledge Quarter occupiers such as MSD, a multinational life sciences company that discovers, develops and provides innovative medicines and vaccines to make a difference to people’s lives.

MSD has been looking for a suitable site for some time and identified King’s Cross as the ideal location for their Discovery Hub and UK HQ as a centre of excellence for the life science community.

They have form with this type of development and have a similar Discovery Hub in San Francisco.

Connection To Kings Cross Station

The current station boxes on the South side of Euston Road will be replaced by a step-free entrance inside Belgrove House, that will connect to the existing subway under Euston Road.

It is a difficult area to walk through and the pavements will be widened.

This Google Map shows the location of Belgrove House and the two stations of Kings Cross and St. Pancras.

Note.

  1. Kings Cross station is at the top of the map.
  2. St. Pancras station is in the North-West corner of the map.
  3. Argyle Square Gardens is the green space in the South East corner of the map.

Belgrove House will replace the Access self-storage with the squares on the roof, that lies between Argyle Square and Euston Road.

Conclusion

If the development is as good as the proposal and lives up to the aims of the developers and MSD, it will be a building of which London will be proud.

How long will it take for some wag in a tabloid to call it The Hanging Gardens Of Kings Cross?

 

 

March 14, 2021 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Cooking Multiple Cinties

My son and his husband came round for supper on Sunday, so I cooked a batch of Cinty’s French fish pies.

The method is detailed in Serial Cooking – Cinty’s French Fish Pie.

I cooked four, which was one for each of us and one for the freezer.

Note.

  1. Every pie got two pieces of haddock.
  2. The topping was a mix of gluten-free bread and parmesan, blended in one of Delia’s Little Choppers.
  3. I served them with baked tomatoes.

I cooked them in 0.6 litre Le Creuset dishes. You can never have too many of these.

February 5, 2021 Posted by | Food | | Leave a comment

Brexit: Duty-Free Makes A Come-Back For Travellers Returning From Britain

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

For the first time in more than 20 years people travelling to the State from British ports and airports will be able to load their luggage or their cars with tax-free tobacco, alcohol, perfumes and so-called luxury items once the new year bells chime in less than a week.

Duty-free between Ireland and Britain was abolished 21 years ago as it was not considered compatible with the emerging single market. However with the UK now leaving the EU and its single market from the start next year the old rules are set to revert.

As someone, who never buys anything in duty-free, I can’t say I’m bothered.

January 3, 2021 Posted by | Food | , , , , | 2 Comments

Cup Of Tea Brightens The Day And The Mind

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Newcastle University.

This is the introductory paragraph.

If you’re enjoying a cup of tea and mince pie this festive season, you may be refreshing more than your palate, as research shows a good brew improves the attention span in those over 85-years-old.

I find this research interesting, mainly because I drink tea in large quantities, at a rate of at least six mugs a day.

But then my family seems to have an unusual drink problem.

  • I drink decaffinated builders tea and usually in a day, I’ll also drink two bottles of 0.5 % alcohol beer from Adnams and other soft drinks too!
  • My father was the same except that he would have a pint of Adnams a couple of times a week.
  • But his father drunk so much, he became an alcoholic and died at forty, well before I was born.
  • I also tend to have a mug of tea before I go to bed.
  • I’ve always preferred tea to coffee.
  • My fifty-year-old son is teetotal, but seems to drink a lot of tea and soft drinks.

As both my father and myself share a skin problem, which is probably related to coelic disease. I think, I sweat a lot of water through my skin, so I need to keep topping it up.

Conclusion

After reading the report from Newcastle University, I think I’ll keep drinking the tea.

 

December 29, 2020 Posted by | Food, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

My Second (And Cold) Christmas Dinner

As I wrote in Cooking My Christmas Dinner, I had a lot of food left over from Friday, as this picture showed.

So on Sunday, I had a cold lunch based on what was left.

I’ve still got some of the delicious cauliflower cheese for lunch today or tomorrow!

I think I can say, that this Christmas Feast from Roasted by Jack and Scott has been an unqualified success!

  • The delivery turned up, when they said it would.
  • The cooking time of just forty minutes was amazing.
  • The vegetables were superb!
  • I ate all the Christmas pudding, which is rare.
  • The amount of washing up was small.
  • There is no remains of a large bird to deal with!

I have said to my son, that if we get together next year, I’ll look seriously at using Jack and Scott again. I think I could just about cook for four on my small cooker.

December 28, 2020 Posted by | Food | , , , , | Leave a comment

My Christmas Pudding

These pictures show my Christmas pudding, which I had tonight.

Note.

  1. I just put it in the oven for fifteen minutes.
  2. It was excellent!

I’d certainly have another one!

December 26, 2020 Posted by | Food | , | 2 Comments

Cooking My Christmas Dinner

These pictures show how I cooked my Christmas Feast for One from Roasted by Jack and Scott.

Note.

  1. It took under forty minutes from when the oven had warmed up and the water was simmering to cook the meal.
  2. The only utensils I used were a pair of scissors and a slice to get the bags out of the hot water.
  3. Washing up was minimal and nothing needed a heavy scrub, which is always a good thing.
  4. Vegetables were over generous for someone like me, who only weighs 63 kilos.

Anybody, who can put together some IKEA flatpack furniture and who knows how to boil water, stick a ready meal in the oven, should be able to cook this meal.

I have to wonder how many people could cook a delicious meal like this this from scratch in forty minutes.

The package included Christmas pudding. I’ll cook that tomorrow!

I can also remember several fraught Christmas mornings, when C was cooking Christmas Dinner. Usually, they involved my mother-in-law! This meal would certainly avoid, the too many cooks problem, as one person could cook a meal for four in well under an hour.

If I have to spend Christmas by myself again or I am entertaining a small number of people, I’ll seriously think about going back to Jack and Scott.

December 25, 2020 Posted by | Food | , , | 3 Comments