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

Is This The Proof That Coeliacs On A Gluten-Free Diet Don’t Get The Covids?

I took this picture in Marks and Spencer’s food store on Finsbury Pavement this morning,

I know Easter is coming, but it did seem to me that they had over-ordered the gluten-free hot cross buns.

But have their gluten-free sales held up extremely well during the pandemic?

Are their large numbers of gluten-free customers, still well enough to be buying the good things in life?

Certainly, throughout the pandemic, there’s never been a shortage of gluten-free scones!

Or it could be a simple case of a computer saying “Let them eat loadsa buns!” in the City of London!

February 2, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , , | 5 Comments

A Train Of My Own!

To get to the the best Marks and Spencer food shop near me, I walk to Essex Road station and take a train to Moorgate or Old Street stations depending on the weather.

As it was sunny today, I took a private train to Old Street station.

Everybody else was asked to get on the Rail Replacement Bus.

November 6, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

The Small Sign That Means So Much To A Coeliac

I’ve bought Marks & Spencer’s mackerel pate for any years.

It’s the first time, I’ve noticed the packaging has the gluten-free symbol.

More please! My eyesight needs glasses to read the allergies!

October 2, 2020 Posted by | Food | , , | 2 Comments

Coronavirus Lockdown In Sweden: a New Take On Safe Shopping — No Assistants

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

It could be the way, that convenience stores will be going! Even my local Marks and Spencer in Dalston, allows you to scan using an app, put the goods in your bag and just walk out!

I must try it, as it would mean that I would have to touch less equipment and won’t have to stand there like a wally, whilst the assistant verifies my age, after I have purchased low alcohol beer.

There could also be little robots like Daleks or R2-D2 wandering around, who you could ask questions, like “Where is the Adnams 0.5% low-alcohol beer?”. They would reply “Follow me!” and lead you to your next purchase.

April 19, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Surviving Lockdown

People ask if I am surviving lockdown.

I am lucky in several ways.

Housing

I live in a spacious house, which is comfortable.

Although, it does have problems.

  • It was built by a Turkish Jerrybuilder, who bought fixtures and fittings at the cheapest price possible.
  • It gets too hot.
  • The plumbing is suspect.
  • The air-conditioner is broken and the service company, have had my money to fix it, but won’t come.
  • The smoke detector above my bed is just hanging there, as I wrote in A Design Crime – The Average Smoke Detector

Hopefully, when we beat COVID-19, I’ll be able to move.

Finances

My investments give me enough to live comfortably. If you call, living in two rooms, never talking face-to-face with anybody living comfortably.

Exercise

I am still fit and can exercise as much as I need and is recommended.

I have a workout that I do twice a day, which includes movements like press-ups, stretches and single-leg stands.

I can do two dozen press-ups straight off or walk three miles, if I need to.

Health

My health is good, despite being a coeliac and suffering a serious stroke ten years ago.

  • I test my own INR.
  • I seem to have survived my fall of a month ago.
  • I only go to the surgery for B12 injections, drug reviews and the odd problem.

Other than that I just suffer from the problems of a healthy man of 72, like arthritis and hay fever.

I do have a strange skin, that leaks a lot of water and doesn’t bleed, when I have an injection or a doctor or nurse takes blood. I never have a plaster after either procedure.

Food

I am a reasonable and very practical cook, or so my son and various friends tell me. These are some meals, I’ve been cooking under lockdown.

Sardines And Baked Eggs

Pasta With Yogurt Sauce For One

Goat’s Cheese, Strawberry And Basil Salad

Cod And Tomato With Basil

Lemon And Spinach Cod Gratin

Smoked Haddock And Curried Rice

I shall add more here.

I won’t starve!

Shopping

A Marks and Spencer food store is fifteen minutes walk away, so I can get all the food I need.

I also got plenty of Adnams 0.5% alcohol Ghost Ship beers direct from the brewers delivered last week.

Their beers have been a lifeline, as they are gluten-free, thirst-quenching and don’t get me drunk. Even in quantity!

I also have safe delivery without any contact, as the couriers just ring my bell, we chat through the window about three metres away and they leave the goods on the step.

I didn’t think about lockdown, when I bought this house, but it is ideal for safe COVID-19-free deliveries.

Lockdown Practice

There can’t be many people, now going through the COVID-19 lockdown, wo have locked themselves away so many times in their life as I have.

  • At the age of about six, I spent three months or more, in isolation because I caught scarlet fever.
  • For the summer before A-Levels, my parents went to their house in Felixstowe. For part of the time, I locked myself in my bedroom and read up on my A level Physics.
  • A couple of times at ICI, I self-isolated with a computer to get important jobs done. How many have used an IBM-360 as a PC?
  • I self-isolated to write Speed, my first piece of independent software.
  • Pert7 and other software for Time Sharing Ltd was written overnight sitting in the window of their offices on Great Portland Street.
  • Artemis was written in an attic in Suffolk, with no-one else around for most of the time.
  • The special PC version of Artemis, that was a combined project management, database and spreadsheet program, was also written under lockdown.
  • After Celia died, I wrote Travels With My Celia(c) under lockdown. You can download the pdf file here.

Lockdown has almost been a way of life for me.

But on past form, I certainly have the mental strength to get through lockdown unscathed.

Conclusion

There must be a lot of others in much worse situations than myself.

 

April 18, 2020 Posted by | Computing, Food, Health, World | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Queuing For Marks And Spencer In Dalston

I took this picture of the orderly queue waiting to get into Marks and Spencer in Dalston.

It does appear that everybody was obeying the rules and I only took twenty minutes to enter the store.

  • The store was well-stocked, although there were very few ready meals with long Best Before dates.
  • Gluten-free bread, biscuits and cereals were at near normal levels.
  • There were about a dozen bottles of Adnams low-alcohol beer on the shelves, which I reduced by a couple.
  • There were no gluten-free cakes. Not that I buy them often.
  • Some lines like gluten-free sandwiches seem to have been dropped. Not that I wanted any, as I won’t be travelling.
  • The staff were being very professional.

I was able to get enough food in my bag to get me through to the middle of next week.

April 9, 2020 Posted by | Food, Health, World | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Marks And Spencer In Dalston Was On The Ball

This morning, I walked to Marks and Spencer in the Kingsland Road for essential supplies.

I got more than I needed and now have enough food in the fridge and my cupboards for the next ten days.

The hold-up in the store were the tills, but one of the assistants had taken control of the situation, by marshalling customers to spare self-service tills, scanning goods and helping to get the customers out of the store as fast as possible.

It was real East End spirit in action.

Remember that the BBC soap, was nearly shot in a real square close to Dalston and in some ways the chivvying and banter could have been transposed.

Is EastEnders dealing with COVID-19? I doubt it!

March 31, 2020 Posted by | Health, World | , , | 4 Comments

This Is My Second Lockdown

I can’t be the only person, but in the 1970s, I has locked myself away for nearly a year before. I did it to write the first version of the Project Management software; Artemis.

There are some differences between my situation then and my situation now.

  • My wife was alive then and we saw each other for perhaps two days a week.
  • I could drive and I occasionally went down the Clopton Crown for the odd pint and meal!
  • I hadn’t been diagnosed as a coeliac, as that happened in 1997.
  • There was no Internet or social media.
  • There was no Radio 5 Live.
  • I am a better cook now, than I was then.
  • I am within walking distance of a Marks and Spencer Simply Food store.

I think the rules for surviving are as follows.

  • Eat and drink enough.
  • Have entertaining radio or television on.
  • Break the day up with a bit of exercise.
  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Arrange good weather.

Let’s hope this lockdown turns out as well as the last.

March 31, 2020 Posted by | Computing, Health, World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Daily Exercise

My father always said I was born lucky!

When I bought this house in Dalston after my stroke, I bought it because of the location.

  • There are four London Overground stations within walking distance.
  • Four bus stops are within a hundred metres, which are served by five bus routes, one of which goes to King’s Cross, St. Pancras and Euston
  • There are more than ten bus routes within walking distance.
  • I have three bus routes to and from the Angel for the shops and Chapel Market, where my paternal grandmother, used to shop before the First World War.
  • If I walk the other way, there was the rather run down Kingsland Road with a Sainsbury’s and lots of unhealthy takeaways.

But then Marks and Spencer opened a Simply Food store in the Kingsland Road by Dalston Kingsland station.

  • It is about a fifteen minute walk from my house.
  • It has a full range of their gluten-free food.
  • It stocks everything I need regularly.

It was certainly my luck, that they opened this store.

Today, I took my daily exercise by walking to the store and bringing home enough food for a couple of days.

  • Is this killing two birds with one stone?
  • The walk along the Balls Pond Road was notable because there was only little traffic and few pedestrians on one of East London’s main arteries.
  • A sizeable proportion of the shops were shut.

It was also very breezy and was this good to protect me from COVID-19, by blowing it away?

March 28, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport, World | , , , | Leave a comment