Saturday, 9 October 2010

Science is Vital

Since today is the day of the big Science is Vital rally and, as an impoverished student, I couldn't get down to London to join in, I decided to make a cake. An epic cake. (Possibly an epically wrecky cake). And I roped in my housemates :)
For those of you that don't know what Science is Vital is about, the basic idea is that the British government is threatening to make cuts to scientific research funding - big cuts. Our argument is that this is silly, because, well, science is vital. (You can find a much better and more coherent explanation here).

Anyway, the cake had to represent as many branches of science as I could fit on a cake board (and, for that matter, had a chance of modelling out of icing). This is what we ended up with:

The cakes were in a box with a closed lid, leading to quantum uncertainty about the cake's whereabouts (and existence).
There are two cakes of identical composition, with slightly different mass values, meaning that we have isotopes of cake.
The cakes were combined to create a geological profile (one with a tectonic fault, as it turned out) and 'fossils' (strips of sugared orange) were 'deposited' in one of the cakes.

Around the cakes, the following sciences are represented:
Archaeology - partially excavated skeleton, ranging pole, archaeologist.
Astronomy - sun, asteroid belt, stars, Patrick Moore (apologies).
The natural world: flowers, jelly snakes, Darwin's finch (couldn't figure out how to make David Attenborough).
Oceanography: whale, octopus, diver.
Physiology: eyeballs, brain (for Krystyna), DNA (for Becki), skeleton.
Chemistry: lab equipment, (badly iced) Harris structure of H2O, schematic of Chemist... minor explosion.
Paleaeontology: flower (representing the foliage of the time), dinosaur, meteorite.
Meteorology: various weather events.
As a fan of Cake Wrecks, I can safely say that these cakes were made in the spirit of that excellent blog; if they can raise a bit of awareness for Science is Vital, even better!

Thanks to Jamie (who I made get her hands dirty), Rowena (who has a hidden talent as a cake decorator), Niall (who financed the cake and fixed the icing), Mike (moral support and guinness) and the people who helped think of things to decorate them with (Krystyna, Becki, Seb, JacAbsolute and Ben to name but a few).

More images can be found at my deviantArt account, here.

Monday, 20 September 2010

So, Politics

I posted this as a response on a messageboard discussing the Lib Dem conference, and thought I'd repost here, as I feel quite strongly about it. This might make more sense if you read the original post by JacAbsolute and yahyah's response.

I'm JacAbsolute's daughter (aged 23, if it helps), and for the most part I agree with her original post, although I felt I should add, on behalf of the individualist, greedy, porn-downloading, young, politically-ignorant fools that we are, that many of us, recognising that the LibDems are still the best of a bad bunch - with their friends the Tory bullies and the frankly ridiculous Labour party - have decided to continue to hope. There is a lot of feeling at the moment among the 'youth' that there is nothing that we can do, politically speaking, so many have become cynics (though I suspect I hit 'cynic' at the age of 12) about the government and it's apparently fleeting interest in the country which it governs and the people within it. All we can do is work hard and hope that our wide future is less narrow than it currently looks.

So, I have this to say to Mr Clegg and his party. Do better. Please. For all of us.

yahyah, re:

"One of the things that is worrying about some young people is how they seem to have swallowed the whole 'I' and 'individualism' thing.

For a lot of them it's all about 'my right to download porn on my mobile while sitting on the bus', 'my right not to have to pay tax to keep some old crusty warm in the winter'. Not much about about helping those around them and contributing to the old age of those who paid for their schooling and child benefit."

I'm sorry yahyah, but your comment smacks a little of bitterness.

Although I am an individual, I am also very well aware that I am part of a community - something which appears to have escaped the attention of all too many people of every generation. It's about hitting a balance between the freedom of the individual and the good of the community. ie. I do not wish to be told how to dress, but nor will I wear a skirt that is closer to a belt and top that is closer to a bra to attend a primary school fete.

For the record, I'm relatively sure that the bus is not the venue of choice for the downloading of porn on a mobile or any other device - it's not really a spectator sport after all. That said, there is, as you said, little care or common courtesy for others around at the moment - and far too much greed. But I would like to make it plain: this is not the luxury of a dissaffected, individualist youth. People of all ages have 'bought into' what you refer to as the individualist lifestyle, and frankly, it sickens me. I think it is a product of the lifestyle that is sold to us through advertising and the media - one recent advert encouraging viewers to 'be impatient' because, apparently, patience makes you boring rather than polite.

To address why it seems more obvious in the youth of today: perhaps this is because those of our parents' generation who have accepted this lifestyle of 'me,me, me!' have taught it to their children. We do learn by example, after all.

For example, my grandparents saved up, built their own house, inherited their phone number from their parents and never threw anything away - Grandad still has a vacuum from possibly the 1930s in working condition. When they needed anything new, they saved up and bought what would last; if they wanted a gift to be something special, they made it themselves. They also, when Mum would let them, spoiled me rotten. I'm trying really hard to live the same way, but I have become used to the 'disposable': buying clothes from primark because they're cheap and knowing that they'll be unwearable in three months because the fabric will go funny in the wash (though I'm still battling with a couple of shirts that have survived, against the odds), throwing things out instead of taking the time to fix and maintain them, letting picked fruit go off instead of making jams (though in my defence, I had a distinct lack of jars and a deadline to meet).

We are a product of our time (even Lady Gaga and Lily Allen have sung about it), but that does not mean that we should not struggle against it. I'm not saying 'you made us this way, now live with it', but please, accept some part of this and help us struggle on instead of making lofty statements about how we're all self-centred and anti-community.

Perhaps I'm wierd, but for me, phone app's and the latest bling aren't what make my world go around; family, friends, people helping each other and the turn of the seasons are enough. Failing that, a hot bath and a good book.

Feel free to disagree!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Exploding Beans

25th July 2010

At some point in the last few weeks the allotment exploded, particularly the beans :) Everything has survived quite happily with the copious sunshine and showers and they've done our small team of volunteers proud. I think i shall let the plants speak for themselves!

Photos: Strawberries (in the patch prepared by Charlotte) and Rhubarb (from Uncle Keith and the Venerable Bede); the first Cucumber (planted by Miss Jamie); our very own triffid patch (beans and nasturtiums planted by me and Rowena); wildflowers (me), potatoes (Niall), onions (Mark and Niall), more beans (Allan), peas (Miss Jamie), sweet peas (me) and broccoli (planted by me, rescued from stone arches by Rowena); radishes, lettuce, spinach beet (planted by Allan, ignored by me, oops) and Pumpkins (grown by me, planted by Rowena).

Tom and Sarah's Wedding

18th July 2010

Yesterday was Tom (Niall's brother) and Sarah's wedding. We went up to Woolley Hall in Wakefield, where a good time was had all :) Sarah, naturally, looked stunning, and Tom and his brothers brushed up pretty well too. They had a Beaufort car for the day, which was very swish, and i spent a fair amount of time hairing around the gardens after various children who had far too much energy. Good times XD

Photos: Tom and Sarah Fleming; the Fleming boys; Woolley Hall.

Woop Woop

15th July 2010

As me and Miss Jamie had a day off today and Niall had to work for a bit, we followed him into Keighley and then the three of us had a jolly on the steam trains. The station at Keighley is still all 1910-esque and we had a good run through the Keighley Worth Valley. We stopped off in Haworth - of Bronte fame - for a bit of a wander and thoroughly enjoyed browsing antique shops, pagan shops and second hand book shops. I found a copy of the flower fairies book and a poetry anthology I'd been looking for, and Miss Jamie got a copy of the Lord of the Rings; Niall got several pints of beer and some mintcake. Good times :) We also find possibly my favourite street name in the world before heading home to teach Miss Jamie Carcassone.
Photos: Keighley Station; Oakworth Station, where the Railway Children was filmed; Purvs Corner. heh heh heh.

Alton Towers, WHEEEEE!

4th July 2010

We headed home from Wales today, taking a welcome detour to Alton Towers along the way. It's way past my bedtime :)

Photo: Matt, Abi, me and Helen, pretending to be pixies.

Day Three in the Big Blue Bradford Bus

3rd July 2010
On day three in the Big Blue Bradford Bus, we drove out to Welshpool to visit the Collinette wool factory shop. As an avid knitter, I was practically out of my seat for the whole journey, so I was expecting it to be a woolly wonderland, but it exceeded even my sugar-fuelled expectations. It was one of those only-happens-in-cartoons moments, as five knitters got through the door and simultaneously ran off in separate directions, squealing with excitement… if we hadn’t been among fellow knitters it could have been quite embarrassing. Amused, perhaps, by our enthusiasm, the proprietor gave us a tour of the dye works – which we were astonished to discover is still only worked by twelve dyers – and the spinning room, full of top condition 1970s equipment. As the man said, if it aint broke, don’t fix it!
Apart from the large volume of stunning wool (which we spent many hours on the journey home balling up in the minibus), the new and interesting patterns and designs and the truly informative tour – he was so excited that people were interested – they gave us cake. Seriously. Go there. It rocks.

After our day of collective excitement we decided to relax in the evening with a trip to the beach… as you can imagine, our… ingenuity… came out immediately, along with our inner six-year-olds. Okay, I admit it, we may have buried Jamie… but only a bit! And Liz fell in that hole, honest!

Photos: Liz and Jamie get stuck in with their new snazzy yarn; like six year olds; 'uh, guys?'; the Indicent Pit, Oh No!

Labyrinthine Crafts

2nd july 2010

Today we went to the other side of the valley to the hostel (there was a great moment of 'I can see our house from here!') to the Corris Craft Centre and King Arthur's Labyrinth, where we spent a pleasant day getting ideas in the workshops, and trying out a few new crafts ourselves. The candle making turned out to be particularly entertaining, but we also spent time with wood turners, jewellers, glass blowers, potters, herbalists and painters.

We also ventured into the depths of the old tin mines to experience King Arthur’s Labyrinth – not particularly educational perhaps, but great fun and certainly inspirational. At one point of the tour we were told that we were a mile down inside the mountain, at level six, and there were four levels below us, at least a mile further down – at which point my inner geologist started to skip. Our guide – apparently a monk but certainly a former employee of the mine – told stories of old Wales as he led us through the caverns, mixed in with an informative smattering of mine-lore. He assured us that there was more than tin lurking down in the dark, and he may have been right…

Photos: awesome candles; helen with her candle ends; amazing pottery; hannah b and liz taking the tower by force; DRAGONS!

The CAT's Meow

1st July 2010

Today we went to the Centre for Alternative Technology in Powys. Here we spent a day roaming around (and inside) wind turbines, solar powered houses, a mole cave and up and down the mountain on the hydraulic lift. The centre specialises in ecologically sound research in many areas of our modern lifestyles; there is a dedicated research and education centre in the heart of the CAT, from which many sound ideas emanate.
This research is showcased in the CAT park, around which you are encouraged to wander. We learned a lot over the day and the CAT is well worth a visit – or even take the opportunity to attend one of their specialised short courses. (Information available at

It was a fantastic day, rounded off in the evening by a good chinwag and some craft... oh and JacAbsolute's eckythump pudding, Craftiness style.

Photos: the hydraulic lift; the deconstructed wind turbine; MOLE!; eckythump, it's a crafty pudding!

The Crafters on the Bus go Rarr Rarr Rarr!

30th June 2010

Been a bit of a mad month, with work and moving house and such :) So i didn't get the traineeship position with English Heritage :(, i got to look at the hairs from the cloak of the Gristhorpe Man for Nigel *excitement*, we partied moderately hard for the solstice, JacAbsolute and the Venerable Bede met a long-lost-cousin, Rowena and I started a role playing game with Charlotte and Jen and I was unfortunately too sick to go to Sarah's hen party (sadface). They apparently had a great time and ate way too much Thai food :)

So today I got kidnapped by the craft club on a trip to Wales. I am not particularly unhappy about this ;) The hostel is really cool, very pagan, very Welsh mountains, very yellow, a bit haunted. Can't wait for the adventures that will ensue.

Photos: the Hannah on the Bus; Midnight at the Hostel


3rd June 2010

it's been crazy busy for the last week or so - mostly because we moved out of bradford to shipley :) the new house is me, niall and mike (from Cumbria), along with rowena and jamie as the uni is so kindly providing them with nowhere to stay this summer. the first thing that struck me about the new house (aside from the fact i no longer live in murder central) is the size of the kitchen *squees* it's big enough for a table and chairs, the cooker (gas, thank gods) has a five ring hob and there's a tiny garden area to the back with all my herbs in it :D!
so, although i'm exhausted and can't find anything i'm much happier and really excited about the new place. plus, mike starts his new job next week, so there's even more of a buzz about the place :) the first night we were in, we had dinner in the kitchen (all perched on the worktops as there were no chairs) and mike played his guitar. good times! it's still a bit like living in a holiday home at the minute, but it'll become home-like in no time.

Photo: GIANT kitchen! XD

Stafford Ho!

31st May 2010
Because we're moving house tomorrow (zo my gods) I led a small foraging party back to Stafford to pack up the bits and bobs I'll be needing in Shipley. The packing took an appreciably long time and thankfully the boys are coming to get it all on the 2nd, so no more heavy lifting until tomorrow :)
Since we were down here, Rowena and I did some gardening (as jacabsolute is looking after the Venerable Bede up in Biddulph the grass REALLY needed cutting), avoiding the three billion tiny frogs that decided we were interesting, or terrifying - or both. i also managed to tame the bushes in front of the house and - partially - contain the wisteria. Needless to say, by the time Miss Jamie and Miss Mandy arrived, we were a bit knackered. As Mandy had come all the way from Kentucky to see 'the place where the history comes from', we went to Shugborough on the bank holiday. It's an historic estate with a fully operational Victorian model farm and servants quarters, and we had a brilliant time, particularly in the craft bothies and playing with the goats.

Quote of the weekend: Miss Jamie, can I have a personal excited vegetarian?
Photos: our beautiful (if slightly rampant) garden - roses, peonies and wisteria

Origami Niall

27thish May 2010

spent a long day at the allotment and we're all very tired. just got time to share this picture of niall in rowena's boot before bathtime :)


To the Beach!

25thish of May

Spent the weekend up in New Marske with Niall and his family; we had a great time just hanging out :) Last time we went for a great walk along the old railway lines, but this time we decided to spend the afternoon at the beach, as it was glorious out. In my studenty-city bound way I've really missed going on adventures like this, and seeing the fields of mustard that herald summer for me. I didn't even bring work this time :) and we all enjoyed shouting at Saturday Kitchen. There was a pub at some point too... but the best bit was watching the surf under the pier at Saltburn.
Photos: Saltburn beach; look, sand!; Sarah, Tom and Niall


20thish of May 2010

so the HOP (human osteology and palaeopathology) kids had a barbecue on the amphitheatre-that-is-really-a-theatre, and a few of us crashed it - as we brought food, no one really cared :) it was nice to just kick back and relax for a bit. laura w thought that it was cute how happy we all were about how 'hot' it was. bradford ain't texas ;)

after the HOP barbecue came the craftiness barbecue (so much food!) at whichi finally finished the socks i was making for laura c. i have to say, knitting with this yarn is a little hard on the brain :)

photos: helen hop's awesome skull cake; hop kids frolicking in the sun (with the odd geophysicist); rowena crocheting a tiny waistcoat; laura c's psychadelic socks

Frolicking in the Garden

17th May 2010

my lovely niall is finally back from Thailand, all sunburnt and sleepy :D he got me a cute fish purse from somewhere in Bangkok and says the wedding was great!

we went up to the allotment this weekend again, along with the usual suspects (mark, rowena, jamie, allan and puppy) where we cleared and planted and watered and such. we now have rather an impressive crop of canes ready for our climbers.
I'm still excited that things are growing :)

pictures are: mark found a poking stick; rowena and niall planting tomatoes and marigolds; jamie planting peas; the boys making a start on next year's herb garden

Little Monsters

16th of May 2010

with everyone beginning to drift away (coursewise) i decided to spend this weekend playing with fimo and creating a bunch of little monsters for them to take away with them. believe me i had a good time making them, and i hope they're well received - we had a lot of fun coming up with ideas in the pub :D

Good Times

14th May 2010

so this week was the Bradford University (Archaeology) Masters end of an era party, which involved a great deal of looking for dresses and suits (yes, archaeologists NOT coated in mud, shock horror) and alcohol (as you can tell). the year isn't over just yet - there's still those pesky dissertations to get through - but so far everyone has been brilliant and i'm going to miss each and every one of them.

highlights of the evening included seeing puppy again, anthea asking to stroke puppy's sporran, erin being ninja at avoiding photos, the boys cancaning to its raining men, the almighty cathy winning the 'best bum' award and everyone having a good boogie :)

Photos are of: my course - becci, peter, laura, charlotte, me and rowena; me and miss jamie; me, bones burton and miss jamie