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Just Another Day At The Office

August 28th, 2015 (08:46 pm)
current location: KY16 8SX

National Bow Tie Day 2015

National Bow Tie Day 2015
(in the US, but we’re an international company)

Adventures in the 3rd Dimension

July 6th, 2015 (11:41 pm)
current location: KY16 8SX

I recently bought a 3D camera second hand from ffutures. Here are a first few shots:

West Port, St. Andrews - from the west

West Port, St. Andrews - from the east

Blackfriars Chapel, St. Andrews

The Scottish Cabinet in Cupar, 6th July 2015 

Interesting to see what works and what doesn’t. There seems to be a greater sense of 3D if there’s something distinctive in the foreground, which is why I actually chose pictures with cars in shot when I had examples without. Things further away tend to flatten out a bit, even if there’s something in the foreground to emphasise the difference – but even in the middle distance, a significant difference in depth can make things stand out. I didn’t notice the pedestrian crossing the West Port in the second photograph when I took it, but she becomes an interesting feature when viewed in 3D. As usual, click through for full size – it’s probably worth it for that second one at least, as the figure is a bit lost in the smaller version.

Haggis Spice Chocolate Taste Test

June 14th, 2015 (11:33 pm)
current location: KY16 8SX

I only recently discovered that two companies in Scotland are making “haggis spice” chocolate; dark chocolate mixed with some of the (non-meat) ingredients of haggis. Science demands a taste test!

Coco&quot;s Haggis Spice ChocolateChocolate Tree Haggis Spice

The bar on the left is from Coco, a chocolatier based in Edinburgh. The one on the right is sold by Chocolate Tree, a different chocolatier found in Haddington, to the East of Edinburgh. They’re both dark chocolate, with 64% and 58% cocoa solids relatively, so there shouldn’t be a huge difference in fundamental nature. The Coco version is labelled as suitable for vegans, while the Chocolate Tree one “may contain traces of dairy and nuts” as they're used in the same place. However, it doesn't explicitly include any non-vegan ingredients.

Interestingly, although both bars are meant to evoke haggis, different haggis recipes vary, and so it is with these bars. The only seasonings both have in common are – salt and pepper! The Coco bar also includes clove, nutmeg and allspice. Chocolate Tree’s bar, on the other hand, includes rosemary, coriander seed, mace and thyme. For anyone expecting spice to mean chilli – no, sorry, that’s not what haggis is about (at least now that Nahm-Jim is no more). It’s a milder spice experience.

Both bars have a similar aroma, though the Chocolate Tree bar’s scent is stronger and more exciting.

On price, the Coco bar is £4.00, while the Chocolate Tree bar is £3.50.

The Coco Haggis Spice chocolate is smooth and has a distinctly dark chocolaty taste. The spicing is subtle; after eating several pieces I noticed a slightly warm after-feel, but it wasn’t a major part of the initial taste. In fact apart from the dark chocolate taste, the main thing I got was the odd salt crystal. The salt did seem to act as a bit of a nucleus, so that was the most interesting bit, but for the Coco Haggis Spice bar I would say the emphasis was on salted chocolate bar, with haggis spice rather soft-pedalled.

The Chocolate Tree Haggis Spice chocolate gives an immediate hit of spices, unhampered by a milder chocolate. I’m confident I can detect the rosemary and coriander seed. I’m less confident of my ability to distinguish mace and thyme anyway, so that’s OK. Maybe a more sophisticated reviewer would get those too. I also get occasional salt, though the salt’s contribution is much lower-key than in the Coco bar. Finally the Chocolate Tree bar gets extra brownie points because 8% of the bar is pinhead oats. That’s enough to give a little bit of random texture to nibble on, and a little bit of flavour; and of course oats are a key ingredient of haggis so it’s entirely appropriate.

I didn’t expect a big difference between these bars, but I was surprised. The Coco bar is a perfectly good chocolate bar and in isolation you would not feel disappointed about having bought it. If chocolate is what you’re really looking for, with a hint of something else, then it may be the one for you. For me though, the Chocolate Tree bar was a clear winner: nice chocolate, distinctive spiced flavour, pinhead oats for added interest, and finally- it is just a little bit reminiscent of haggis (in a good way – sorry if you find that hard to imagine!)

The Coco Haggis Spice bar is OK. But I would actually recommend going out of your way to try the Chocolate Tree Haggis Spice bar as it’s a bit special. The only thing I can find to complain about is that I ordered a different bar at the same time, and that one was past its best before date when it reached me (the Haggis Spice has a year to run). The bar’s fine, but it does just give me a little pause over customer service. I would ignore that though, and try the Chocolate Tree Haggis Spice.

You may not be registered to vote any more

March 12th, 2015 (12:32 pm)
current location: DD2 1EG

I've only seen reports of this in Scotland so far, but it could potentially apply anywhere in the UK.

The method of registering to vote has changed since the Independence referendum last year, and although people who were already registered to vote were supposed to be carried over into the new system, there seems to be some doubt as to whether that has occurred.

Two MSPs have had to re-register and supply documentation within a week proving they are who they say they are, despite being registered at their respective addresses for about 30 years each. I went through the registration process this morning and was told that I was not on the register, despite having been registered at my current address and voting in every election for over 20 years.

There seems to be some doubt as to whether its a genuine issue with registration or poorly designed systems that are causing a degree of false alarm. However, either way, I figure better safe than sorry - make the effort to make sure you're registered.

You can register online, and read the UK government's information about the change.

I Am The Master

March 1st, 2015 (03:24 pm)
current location: KY16 8SX

Edit: I didn't know when I posted this earlier, but today would have been Roger Delgado's 97th birthday: #HappyBirthdayRogerDelgado.


I’m not a costumier. My skills stretch to sewing on the occasional button so, when attending Gallifrey One in Los Angeles, Roger Delgado’s Master was an easy choice for me. Although he does occasionally appear in extra-terrestrial garb, he’s mostly associated with smart dark suits, and as I mentioned last time, I’ve always fancied having something with a Nehru collar. The creative bit for me was constructing the Tissue Compression Eliminator, and msinvisfem helped me by applying black and white hair dyes from Manic Panic. Apart from that, everything was purchased.

I tend towards dressing in black anyway, so enjoyed putting together an ensemble that unashamedly emphasised it. The suit was by Alvin Amario, and ordered from eBay. Although the Nehru collar went through a bit of a revival in the UK fifteen or twenty years ago, it’s a bit tricky to find on the High Street these days, particularly when your High Street is in St. Andrews or Dundee. The suit’s light and comfortable, and although I had to settle for an oversize waist on the trousers, they were OK with a belt. Underneath, I wore a matching shirt from Bargear in case it showed (but I don’t think it did). I should probably have worn a shirt with long sleeves, but I’m not a long sleeve person – I’m just not comfortable with them.

For footwear, I wore my usual brogues, but with black jacquard spats from Gentleman’s Emporium which I’ve had for a while. Spats are disappointingly hard to get hold of, but they’re an ace item of clothing. They look smart, they can be unobtrusive (I’ve worn dark spats in public and at work without comment, although the day I don the silver ones I expect people will notice) and they’re remarkably comfortable, snuggled cosily around your ankles.

I covered my hands with military dress gloves from Southcombe in black cotton. Delgado’s gloves seem to be leather and I could probably have worn the leather gloves I already have, but I thought cotton would be less bulky and warm, while still looking smart.

Was it successful? Judge for yourself:

You? The Master? I"ll be The Judge!Collapse )

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