Bog Roll ::

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

25 Jul 2015

GCN/Hannah Grant Energy Bars

Today I tried to make some GCN/Hannah Grant energy bars. I fist had to convert from silly cups into sensible units*, and we were missing pumpkin seeds but we had everything else.

  • 4 ripe bananas - about 340 g. Blended to a fine mush
  • 200 g rolled oats
  • 100 g dried fruit - we used rains
  • 60 g linseed/flax seeds - our were golden
  • 60 g sunflower seeds - ours were kernels only
  • 60 g almonds - chopped
  • 60 g pecans - chopped, we also had some cashews in this mix
  • cinnamon - I substituted nutmeg as my better half doesn't like cinnamon
  • salt - skipped as I'm on a low salt diet

Mix together, spread in a baking tray - ours wasn't deep enough, it should be 2 - 3 cm thick and bake on 170°C for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting into energy bar shaped pieces. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Before baking it looks a bit like a home made lard & seed cake for garden birds, which in may respects it is, albeit with a lot less fat and lot more expensive ingredients!

Mine is now cooling and we'll try this it afternoon!

How do you measure a cup full of banana? Weights are far easier to use.


19 Jul 2015

Hybrid Diet

I'm sticking to my calorie restricted diet. Once I get to the correct target weight or waist size I'll stick to the diet but increase the calories to match my burn rate so I stay put at the right size.

My diet is a combination of three highly regarded diets: the DASH; the portfolio and the Mediterranean diet. They are basically the same for over ~75% of their components and ideas, so they are easy to combine. All three are good for reducing blood pressure, reducing serum LDL and if used in a calorie restricted manner then good for reducing body mass.

The all share the following obvious components: lots of fresh fruit and vegetables every day (5 portions of each); high fibre un-refined cereals; plenty of nuts and pulses; low levels of fat & sugar and not much processed food.

The DASH diet keeps the salt levels low or ultra low. Lower than the national RDA and either aligned with the WHO upper limit in the basic version, or lower still in the ultra low salt version. Caffeine and alcohol are also moderated to lower than normal levels.

The portfolio diet adds more plant protein in the form of soya and other legumes. It also adds know "cholesterol" absorbing foods to the diet like beta-glucans from wholemeal oats, sterols from fortified dairy products and soya instead of some diary products.

Finally from the Mediterranean diet there is oily fish, e.g. mackerel and sardines instead of beef.

I'm now less than 75 kg, and starting to fit into medium sized men's clothing rather than large which is too lose and XL which fits like a tent. About 10 kg to go if you assume BMI, and about 1 trouser size if you accept waist:height ratio.


02 Jul 2015

Body Mass

It's now been a few weeks since I've been on my new diet. Since April I've lost a further ~6 kg, currently weighing in at around 77 kg. Other than my trip to Guernsey which appear to have added 1 kg (all the raspberries and tomatoes...) instead of a 440 g loss, taking me about 1.5 kg off track. I've stopped using a weekly weigh-in, opting for a 7-day moving average which is less volatile and probably more meaningful.

My diet is basically what I had when I was too heavy but slightly tweaked:

  • Five servings of fruit per day
  • Five servings of vegetables per day
  • Five servings of nuts and/or beans per week
  • One serving of protein per day, lean or oily fish or vegetable based
  • Plenty of fibre, from the food rather than added as a supplement

I've had to exclude:

  • Salt - need to keep to the WHO limit, not the much higher UK limit
  • Caffeine - I don't drink coffee but I can only have very little or no tea, which I do like
  • Added sugars - no added sugars on/to anything
  • Added fat, especially saturated, trans-fats and Palm fat
  • Alcohol - it's got too much energy in it and there isn't space for it in the budget
  • No substitute foods, e.g. fat-free fat or synthetic sweeteners

The up shot is that with the limit on sugars, fats and salt most processed foods are now off limits, and will probably remain that way for ever. The occasion item is okay but it really has to be only occasionally.

The main addition to my diet are the nuts, I'm not really a fan of them, but they apparently are good for LDL/HDL ratio and blood pressure. I've also added some xylitol based mints as they are minty (I have a sweet tooth) and apparently there is good evidence that they contribute to reducing dental decay.

I've also swapped some of my yoghurt to yoghurt with plant sterols in or yoghurt based on soya rather than milk. Both are proven to reduce your LDL levels in the blood, which is probably a good idea - though possibly not enough to make a clinically significant outcome.


29 Jun 2015

Guernsey Walking Holiday 2015 (Day 3+4)

Yesterday was our last full day on Guernsey as we return to the UK this afternoon. The forecast was good for the morning and not so good in the afternoon, so we decided to walk to the northern tip while it was nice and if needed take the bus back. More beaches and fewer crags on this section of coastline than the southside.

The afternoon wasn't so nice, but it also wasn't too bad so we were still able to walk back to our hotel without getting cold or wet. We have now walked all the eastern seaboard of Guernsey from the southern most point (I think) to it's northern most.

Today is our last day in Guernsey, and we have had a lovely break - I think we will come back but with our bikes and for more than just a flying visit.

As the ferry back to Blighty was in the afternoon, we had several hours to explore the castle that guards the port. It was a few quid to get in, but very interesting with several museums and lots to look at. We had a very nice lunch in the sun at the back of the castle in relative peace, with no pigeons, seagulls or tourists bothering us.

Back to work tomorrow!


27 Jun 2015

Guernsey Walking Holiday 2015 (Day 1+2)

Yesterday morning we awoke at silly o'clock to take the train to catch the ferry from Poole to Guernsey. The ferry was rather busy with people going to the Island Games in Jersey, but we got off a St. Peter Port. We walked up the hill to our B&B to discover there had been a booking error and they were actually full - so they took us to another hotel (an extra star) where we stayed instead.

The glorious weather we had for our crossing had mostly deserted us and it had become rather dull and flat. However the predicted rain didn't turn up so we were able to explore the town without getting wet and were able to find some food for dinner.

This morning was great, after our breakfast we went into town to explore further. Once we had bought lunch bits we took the bus towards the airport, getting off one stop shy, then we walked all along the southern coast back to St. Peter Port. The walking was easy and the views were beautiful - very reminiscent of the Brittany coast or Cornwall. More like the UK and less like France they were a bit stingy with with signs and it was a bit confusing in places - the French GR paint marking system is very simple and much easier to navigate with than the occasional sign!

When we made it back to town we had a look at La Valette Underground Military Museum, which was most fascinating, and packed with more stuff than you would imagine could fit in such a small place.

For dinner we decided to try eating out. La Creperie was strange, the staff appeared to be of Slavic origin, half the menu was not crepe or galette, but the galette was actually quite good though the crepe was only average. Definitely fusion food!


25 May 2015

Rhubarb Jam

Over the bank holiday weekend I made two batches of jam: rhubarb & ginger and rhubarb & orange. I made a small batch last year - which we've not yet eaten - but it's quite a while since I've made so much and for sale.

This year I remembered to grade the rhubarb first, so that each batch was made from stems of similar diameter, which means that they cook evenly and you don't end up with a heterogeneous mixture - which is bad.


10 May 2015

General Election 2015

Open Rights Group

The UK has just had it's General Election. Labour failed miserably to increase their vote. The SNP picked uploads of votes and seats - mostly as they felt betrayed by the failure of delivery of anything after they agreed to remain in the union. The Liberal Democrats lost votes and seats a plenty as expected. The result is now we have a weak Conservative government with a slim majority - that will no doubt destroy it's self as the swivel-eyed loons on the far right of the party start to make increasingly unrealistic demands on the rest of the party.

The nutters in the home office, with the Liberal Democrat "sanity" checks removed will now demand ever increasing powers to snoop on everything we do, so that they can protect us from what ever problem they have invented to scare us with next...

I now feel compelled to support the Open Rights Group with my money as well as my moral support. If the lunatics aren't stopped then we'll have no civil liberties left.


03 May 2015

Waist to height ratio

The waist to height and waist to hips ratios are apparently better future indicators of health issues than the media friendly BMI. They also have the advantage that the only thing you need is a tape measure - which is a lot cheaper than an accurate weight scale.

My weight continues to melt away but more importantly my waist has started to shrink. While my weight has come down at an even 750 g per week rate, until now my waist line hasn't changed much. This morning's weigh in showed the largest waist shrinkage so far. While I can now wear one size smaller trousers, I've still got a long way to go to get to a health ratio.


20 Apr 2015

My Body Mass Index

About a decade ago I decided to lose some weight. I've always been overweight for my height - or undertall for my weight. I managed to reduce my weight slowly over a number of months by removing snacks & junk, and basic portion control. Combined with more exercise I managed to shed a quite a few kilos.

My diet and exercise regime has largely remained constant, I don't each too much junk and have plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables in my diet and in summer bike quite a bit. However overtime more snacks sneaked in, and portions started to grow again. While I wasn't as heavy as I was a decade ago, I was definetly heavier than I should be.

While I'm still highly dubious of the Body Mass Index (BMI), it being based on flawed maths, I clearly need to target a much lower weight than the last time I reduce my mass. The BMI suggests about 65 kg for my height (1.7 m), and at the moment I'm 83.5 kg and falling by a target rate of about 100 g per day. If I stay on track that's about 26 weeks on my current diet before I tweak it to level off.

So far I've stuck a pretty even rate of about 111 g per day, and I've only had one period of food cravings, after a bike ride on an empty stomach - which was to be expected - and was satisfied with an some fruit and a drink of water.

I've also managed to drop a trouser size, going from 91.5 cm being tight, through being loose, to 86.5 cm being wearable if a little tight after a meal. According to the height to waist theory - which has better science behind it than the BMI - I should aim to wear 81.5 cm trousers and they should be loose.


17 Sep 2014

Apple and Damson Jam

I made damson jam, it's something I've not made for years. It's the first year we've had fruit from our damson tree. Sadly we were on holiday when the fruit was at it's prime so we lost some to birds and age. In the end we had about 1.5 kg of fruit that was okay, to which we added a further 1.5 kg of cooking apples we collected from a box in the village.

I gave everything a wash and picked out the past redemption fruit, and put the cleaned damsons and roughly chopped apples in the jam pan and added 400 ml of water. I then heated the mixture and gave it a good mashing until it was all broken up and soft. Previously I've tried making jelly but the yield is dreadful, so instead I forced the mush through a collander to hold back the stones, pips and coarse material.

Next I cleaned everything up and started on the jamimg process. I added 1.5 kg of sugar, 300 ml of water and the juice of a lemon into the jam pan and heated to boiling. I then poured in my 1.5 kg of apple and damson puree, and brought quickly to the boil. I let it have a full rolling boil for about three minutes (damsons and apples have a lot of pectin and if you boil for too long you just get rubber). I then potted it up and left it to cool.

From this batch I got 9.75 jars of jam, which isn't too bad at all. It's not as clear jelly, but it tastes plenty good and it's a lot easier to make than proper whole fruit jam. When I put it in the jars it was very runny and didn't lool jam at all, this morning when I inspected it had set well, I'll find out tonight if it's over cooked!


08 Sep 2014

Summer Holiday 2014 (Days 16/17)

Our last day in Denmark. It has been a fantastic holiday and a country I strongly advice anyone to visit who likes good food, rolling countryside, bike friendly roads, pretty towns & villages and coastlines. It's not for the mountain lovers though as it's not very high anywhere...!

After our final Danish breakfast (which has been consistently good) we cycled around town occupying ourself on a sleepy Sunday before we headed off to the ferry port. The forecast wasn't great and that is what happened, it wasn't hot or cold, and it sort of rained but didn't.

We cycled up the coast to the beach north of the town and had a look at Mennesket ved havet or "Man by The Sea", a giant set of figures sitting on stools looking out at the sea. We took several pictures and with the flat light none came out all that well. We then went up the cycle path and had lunch.

After lunch we went to find a flea market - that was coming to an end when we arrived, and all the classic Lego on sale I was looking for was long gone... After that we went back to town and spent an hour in one of the squares watching the world go by before heading off for our ferry at the port.

Boarding the ferry was a bit drawn out and tedious, but we made it to our cabin without any problems and managed to get rid of our change in the shop on some sweets. In our defence we had brought healthy food with us and we'd been cycling so a little chocolate isn't going too hurt much...

In the morning we woke up in the middle of the north sea. The cabin wasn't as hot and stuffy as the one on the way out, and as the sea was mill pond calm we weren't kept awake with the constant shake, rattle, roll and squeak that made the journey out so miserable.

After breakfast we ventured outside, it was nice and sunny and there wasn't too much wind so it was quite pleasant. Would have been nicer without the smokers, but you can't have everything. We went back inside after a while and watched the end of Danish TV (seems to be mostly old British TV with subtitles...)

Eventually we arrived in port and were called down to the car deck. A nice member of staff suggested we moved our selves and our bikes so that the unloading team could see us - a bus had parked next to us. As a result we were the first of the boat and first out of the ferry terminal.

We then retraced our steps through the rail network, which is always stressful. As it happens we were early after the first leg and were able to take a late running train that got us into London more than an hour early. Cycling through London was HORRIBLE, cars drifting in and out of the bike lanes as if we were not there, the final straw was some w****r of a cab driver who turned left into the cycle lane and caught my rear panniers and almost pushed me over. Banning cars, cabs and lorries from the centre of our big cities can't come soon enough if you ask me...

We made it to Waterloo station and were able to catch an early and quiet train home, giving us time to do a load of laundry and other stuff before it was time for bed and work tomorrow.

We did 929.73 km or 577.707 miles in medieval money... Annoyingly I caught the reset button, so I only have total distance and I don't have rolling averages and elapsed time, but on the section I do have time we were averaging just over 18 km/h, which isn't bad as that is with all our belongings almost all the time and includes walking and slow in-town stuff when we got lost.


06 Sep 2014

Summer Holiday 2014 (Days 14/15)

We left our B&B after another hearty Danish breakfast and cycled on to Kolding on the mainland. At lunch we stopped at the fantastically named Middlefart. Kolding Danhostel was the first we hadn't booked, we didn't know the weather would go so we didn't book in advance, which we probably should have done as we just managed to get the last room when we arrived!

After unloading and having a shower we went for an explore round town. Like almost all the towns we've been to, its cycle and pedestrian safe in the most, pretty and the shops close early so good for window shopping if you arrive late!

Today's picture is Koldinghus Castle an ancient royal castle, that the Spanish who were billeted there during the Napoleonic wars burnt to the ground by accident while trying to keep warm. Restoration was completed in 1991, the tower to the right of the picture is the only bit that survived the fire and is apparently more original, the rest is a twentieth century rebuild.

After dinner we had the TV room to ourselves and were able to watch the Vuelta on Danish TV.

In the morning we cycled back to Ribe, we couldn't stay in the town as everything was booked up because of a festival this weekend. Instead we had a walk round, went into a toy shop and looked at Lego - which we didn't buy as it's not practical on our bikes no matter how much I wanted it...

Then it poured with rain, making everything very wet and emptying the streets in less than a minute. Today's picture is the cathedral at the centre of Ribe: Vor Frue Maria Domkirke, apparently it's the oldest building in the country, and its bulk shielded us and our bikes from the rain...! Once the rain had stopped we cycled on to Esbjerg for our last night in Denmark.


04 Sep 2014

Summer Holiday 2014 (Days 12/13)

Today we had to take the train to over the bridge to our next destination so we didn't really need to cycle anywhere specific. So we went to the Trelleborg ring castle and museum and then on to the near by beach.

The fort was started in 980 and abandoned only ten years later. It's possible that it was never completed, was destroyed by fire or became obsolete because of the ever changing politics of the Viking era. We don't know and at the museum they still don't know.

The fort consists of a large circular earth bank and ditch outer, and within the centre a number of timber long houses. Today's picture is a reconstructed long house built in the late 1930s, and though no-longer though to be correct it's still an interesting building and at least it's posts are in the right place as their layout is taken from those in the fort (out of shot to the right). Trelleborg Long House

The visitors centre was small but quite interesting with some nice models showing what they think the fort looked like and plenty of Viking things to touch and dress up in. The stainless steel ring mail they have to play with is awfully heavy when you put it on, I can't imagine anyone walking about in it, let alone fighting in it...

On the other side of the site they had newly built houses for normal villagers which are much smaller and a lot more modest.

After lunch we cycled out to the coast and spent a few hours lounging about and digging holes in the sand. Eventually we cycled back into town to take our train to Odense and another B&B. Unlike British trains which begrudgingly take bike on them, Danish ones have load of space for them and boast about the bikes with nice clear signs to can see, without needing a microscope...

Today we had another light cycling day and had just a short cycle out from our lovely B&B to Ladby where there is a Viking ship burial. All the nice stuff was removed in the Viking period and the wood has totally rotted away, but some of the iron rivets survived and the impression of the wood remained, and in the mid twentieth century it was excavated and preserved.

Today's picture is a shot of the end with the anchor and chain in of the Ladby ship, which I'm pretty sure is not the original one but a recreation, but I can't remember. The site has a modern dome on top and the remains are boxed off behind glass to maintain the humidity and temperature and stop people from poking it!

After visiting the burial site we went back to the little museum where there is a recreation, the king was buried with horses and dogs, the remains of which were not removed so they know how many and how they were arranged. The museum is also building a replica of the ship with the help of the Viking Boat Museum that we visited a few days ago.

Again another smashing place and well worth visiting. We were very lucky too, as other than a clueless pair of Brits who where there some of the time we were we had the boat to ourselves for quite a while...

We then cycled back to town, were we had a wander round the H. C. Andersen trail in town which was free and occupied ourselves for a few more hours until dinner time.


02 Sep 2014

Summer Holiday 2014 (Days 10/11)

Today we left our B&B in the city and cycled in the sun to Roskilde. Like Ribe, Roskilde is a former capital of Denmark and is famous for the scuttled boats found in the harbour that have since been dug up, preserved and put on display. They think the boats were deliberately sunk to block the channels into the harbour, to prevent raiders from attacking the city about 1000 years ago. The period was famous for a lot of in fighting and combined with dendro dating they know when the wood for the ships was felled.

The Viking Boat Museum is fascinating and has lots of modern experimental archaeology going on, as people try to understand how these old boats were actually built and used. The main exhibits are the remains of the boats that are on display in a purpose built exhibition hall that from the outside looks like a concrete u-boat pen, but on the inside is a stunning light and airy building with the boats all for display.

After visiting the museum we checked into our Danhostel, which is physically next door to the museum and had dinner - which was a bit harder than planned as the kitchen's microwave didn't work. Unlike previous Danhostels there was no cycle provision which is a bit of a pain.

After dinner we went for a walk round the city, which is very pretty and has a large and impressive cathedral. We followed the historic town trail backwards, which was mostly okay but sometimes you can miss a turn..!

In the morning we left or Danhostel and cycled to Slagelse. The national bike route was a bit naughty today and sent us on some dirt tracks that were okay on a hybrid but would have been no fun at all on a road bike. No broken spokes or punctures though so we did manage to survive okay.

After a short section on the road we were sent on another off-road section through a wood, where we saw a cute red squirrel and lost the cycle signs entirely and the track was so poor that it was unridable even on a hybrid - you needed a mountain bike and no panniers with all your belongings in! In the end we did come out in the right place but it wasn't fun. So far it's been the worst experience on bike.

We eventually arrived at our Danhostel, had a shower, did some shopping in town and then went to the kitchen to prepare diner. So far every Danhostel has been spotlessly clean and well equipped, our room was perfectly clean but the kitchen was unsanitary and the microwave smelled like something had drowned in the rancid liquid that was swilling around at the bottom of the oven.


31 Aug 2014

Summer Holiday 2014 (Days 08/09)

We left our home for the night and cycled to the capital, in the hope of arriving before the predicted rain. The route was fast but boring and well signposted until we reached the outskirts when the route markers vanished and we got lost. However we managed to find our way to the capital in the end, and before it started to rain.

After a brief but surprisingly good lunch we went on to our B&B in the suburbs, where we unloaded and had a brief rest before we returned via train to have a look round. The rail service was fast and cheap and we made it back for our exploration of København. It rained and it rained and we did get wet - but with good quality clothing we survived and had a very interesting "palaeolithic" dinner.

On our return from town we sat on the bed in our B&B and I watched Jaws (with Danish sub-titles....)

Overnight it rained, and rained, and rained a bit more. The weather forecast said it would and it really rained. The forecast for today was dull, clearing later and with that in mind we set off with a spring in our step to the station. We were less than a minute out of the station before the rain started and by the time we arrived in central København the rain was pouring down. Luckily I found a broken and discarded umbrella and managed to hop from shop to shop without getting saturated.

We actually found some of the shops as good as museums, except you could buy stuff if you wanted - which as we were on bikes meant we could actually buy very little! This was probably a good thing as I could have spent a fortune in the Lego shop alone!

Towards the end of the afternoon it cleared up for a while and this is when this picture of a Statue in the rain was taken, it's the Danish archbishop Absalon on a horse looking all brave and knightly.