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thinking outside the tank

Archive for August 2010

Frog blog

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Picture it: Taormina, Sicily, July 1923. David Herbert Lawrence writes the following words in response to a chance encounter with one of the ‘Lords of life’:

A snake came to my water-trough
On a hot, hot day, and I in pyjamas for the heat,
To drink there.

In the deep, strange-scented shade of the great dark carob-tree
I came down the steps with my pitcher
And must wait, must stand and wait, for there he was at the trough before
me.

In a strange parallel, I walked down the garden today carrying a full watering can into the shade of a hawthorn tree. My plan was to water the courgettes but there, sitting on the grow bag, was a young Common Frog.

Rana temporaria Copyright © C.Hazlehurst, 2010

Lawrence continues:

But must I confess how I liked him,
How glad I was he had come like a guest in quiet, to drink at my water-trough
And depart peaceful, pacified, and thankless,
Into the burning bowels of this earth?

I was equally delighted to have this amphibious visitor. We built a pond last year and I was hoping that it would  be more than a bird-bath for the blackbirds and a breeding ground for mosquitoes.


Lawrence’s encounter ended with him throwing a clumsy log and the snake ‘convulsed in undignified haste’. I dashed for my camera and reported the good news to the family. We are now treading very carefully in that corner of the garden.

Copyright ©  Colin Hazlehurst, 2010

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Written by netkingcol

August 18, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Posted in diary, Nature

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Lemon and courgette soup

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Lemon and Courgette Soup

Here’s a recipe to help cope with a super-abundance of courgettes. There are only a few ingredients, so preparation is quick. Even so, the flavour produced is light and fresh and this soup is delicious hot or cold.

Ingredients Method
2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan.
  2. Sauté the onion, courgette, and garlic on a medium heat for 10 minutes, avoiding browning.
  3. Add the stock and seasoning. Bring to the boil then turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat. Blitz until smooth using a hand-held or worktop blender.
  5. Stir in the lemon zest and juice.
25g butter
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
900g courgettes, chopped
800ml vegetable stock
Salt and ground black pepper
Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Written by netkingcol

August 17, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Posted in cookery, culture

Tagged with , , , , ,

recumbent blackberry quantum zinc karma

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A few days ago I walked to the shops to buy a bag of lemons; that’s what you need to make lemon and courgette soup and then 2 kg of bramble jelly. On the way there I stopped to pick some blackberries which weighed in at just over a kilogram. This is not the best photograph ever taken of blackberries, but they are the blackberries I picked.

On the way home, I called in at the estate agent to pick up details of a 1-bedroom apartment in a Grade 2 Listed building which is shortly coming on to the market. It’s set in 8 acres of grounds and will have a security gate controlling access. This is the estate agent’s photograph and I hope the fact that I’m giving them free publicity – click on the photo for more details – will ease my way in the copyright infringement suit.

Manor House

I chatted for a while with the agent, then left and walked towards home. The road goes downhill and there’s a steep bank down to the right of the path which has a crash barrier at the top. Half way down this slope a car approached. When it was nearly up to me, the object shown below detached itself and carved a silhouetted parabola towards me. It flew past, dangerously close, and clattered into the barrier.

wheel balance weight

You may recognise this as a type of weight used for wheel balancing. I recognised it as a very lucky escape. If I had collected one fewer blackberry or exchanged one fewer pleasantry with the estate agent I would certainly have lost my balance as this thing struck me at x miles per hour.

That set me thinking in a number of directions. First, could I have made it in a freak show (those who know me would say ‘easily’) – roll up, roll up; see the man with the wheel balancing weight embedded in his skull.

Next, what was the value of x? In other words, how fast was the weight travelling towards me? I love this kind of problem. The diameter of the wheel was about 2 feet, so the circumference would be 2π or 6.28 feet. The wheel would make 5260/2π or about 837 revolutions per mile. At 30 miles per hour that’s (837*30)/3600 revolutions per second…then it occurred to me (duh!) – if the car was travelling at 30mph then the outer edge of the wheel must also be travelling at 30mph. The rim of the wheel had a diameter of about 20 inches, so the speed of the weight as it left the wheel was about (20/24)*30 or about 25mph. Which just goes to show there are better ways of killing a pig than choking it on π  (blackberry or otherwise).

How many of you budding Sherlocks out there have already identified the projectile from its distinguishing features? The markings on the weight are:

40 Zn 326 X

The 40 is its weight. I know that because I weighed it and it weighs 40grams. Zn means it’s made of zinc. 326, I think, identifies a style of wheel. X is an unknown to me. What is clear is that this particular weight didn’t have my name on it.

So, a lump of zinc went hurtling by my head with a momentum of 0.445kg-m/s. Was it luck or fate that I wasn’t a few more feet along the road? Was it randomness, or some kind of quantum zinc effect where all of the atoms in the weight experienced the probability that they would head off  at a tangent to the wheel?

If I were a Buddhist I might think it was karma. After all I did blog a while back about returning my car to the finance company and taking to my recumbent tricycle (Nil by ear). Was karma saving me with early payback in this lifetime for a virtuous act or was it a shot across the bows warning me what was to come?

What worried me more than anything, though, was that the driver of the car might not notice his loss until he reached a critical speed on the motorway when the vibrations would set in and maybe a considerably greater mass of metal would leave the road. It’s being so cheerful that keeps me going.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst 2010 (pace primelocation.com)

Thanks to Frances Hazlehurst for copy editing.

Written by netkingcol

August 12, 2010 at 7:09 pm

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