Monday, February 27, 2006

Fahrenheit and Celcius

Margaret made me wondering today what does zero degrees Farenheit meant. I knew that 100 was body temperature, but why was 0°F−17.8 °C? It just did not make any sense...

The Wikipedia has a good explanation: Farenheit took 100 as body temperature (or the closest he could measure back in 1708) and zero for the coldest he could find. After much subsequent tweaking, they finally came up with the Farenheit scale still used today (but only in the USofA and Jamaica).

So, boiling is 212°F, body temperature (before reading this post) 98.2°F, paper fire point (when books self ignite) 451°F and -40°F is -40°C.

Here's an alternative explanation:
The Straight Dope: On the Fahrenheit scale, why is 32 freezing and 212 boiling? What do 0 and 100 mean?

"In short, 100 means nothing at all on the Fahrenheit scale, 96 used to mean something but doesn't anymore, and 0 is colder than it ever gets in Denmark. Brilliant."

Quite why the Americans still use Farenheit is like asking why they still use older versions of the imperial measurement system
even long after this meeting in Philly...

Friday, February 24, 2006

Wine of the month at Waitrose

Waitrose is my favourite wine shop. The offer better value wines than most high street shops, you don't have to buy a whole case as it is the case with Majestic.

More importantly, they tend to select wines directly from growers and not merchants -so more individual better value wines.

This month's special was the Da Luca Primitivo Merlot. (on the right)

Which was okay, but I still much rather prefer my usual Saumur (£4.99, on the left) which makes a great casual light red.

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Borough upgrades playgrounds

The borough's children's playgrounds are in the process of being updated, read more in the Richmond and Twickenham Times.

The one in Mortlake has been updated recently and is really nice....

If you live around North Sheen, this one is really nice in summer as there's a paddling pool.

Monday, February 20, 2006

BLDGBLOG: London Topological

Fantastic collection of stories and images on subterranean / secret London:

If you're into that kind of stuff that is....

Friday, February 17, 2006

Heathrow is dangerous and should not be expanded, here's why

I've seen this piece of coverage today in the Richmond and Twickenham Times: Plane’s engines failed over borough.

Apparently, a Boeing 747 cargo "lost" one engine and had to make an emergency landing in LHR.

In a separate accident, of which I can't find any press clippings, a stowaway passenger from Africa fell on the Sainsbury's petrol station in North Sheen.

About 1 million live under the flight path in London, and Heathrow airport is to my knowledge the only airport in Europe whose approach is directly above amajor city.

Geography alone says that a 5th terminal in Heathrow is dangerous, let alone a 3rd runway.

Why indeed expanding Heathrow when there 3 other major airports in less populated areas? The answer is of course because concentrating operations in LHR is beneficial to BA and BAA. At the expense of London residents.

The governement is arguing that they are merely planning for the unstoppable expansion in air passenger numbers. This is simply because more sustainable alternatives are not being developped.

Rod Eddington, BA's former CEO, said it himself: “Everyone should be taking the train", "People wouldn’t need to fly between London and Manchester if the service was faster.” (Eddington’s Rocket: the jet train to shrink Britain, The Times, 15/1/06) (but the idea of a kerosene-powered train is ludicrous: why reinventing high-speed train when the technology is there and has been in use for 20 years in France, and at times where petrol supplies are uncertain?)

The proof is there: Eurostar's rail/air market is now 59%, saving that much in airplaine emissions, noise, etc... (Eurostar press release, 14/09/04).

Finally, airline kerosene fuel is exempt of tax duty... Yet another way to favour air travel...

Links: Hacan Clearskies

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Londoners to pay £33.80 EXTRA tax to fund the Olympics

Richmond tax payers already pay one of the highest council tax rates in London, and how have to pay to re-develop East London.


BBC NEWS | England | London | Londoners face Olympics tax hike

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Some hope for London cyclists?

Thanks to the Olympics, there maybe finally some improvement in view for the appalling London cycle network:

BBC NEWS | England | London | Public to hear cycle system plans

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Film review: The Island

Good futuristic movie with Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson as eye candy. The plot is not so original (clones who want to escape their destiny) and has some déja-vu flavours (Borne Identity, etc) but Ewan and Scarlett save the movie with a great performance. The action sequences borrow from the Matrix or Minority Report but are well shot and entertaining enough. Just a shame that they used 2005 cars when the action is meant to be in 2019....

In summary, a good and honest film -even my wife enjoyed it despite not particularly found of sci-fi flicks.

Monday, February 13, 2006


Why do we have to put-up with Halloween, Valentines, and the rest?

I don't mean one should not be tender towards his/her lover, but why does it have to be a commercial happening? Maybe cultural differences are an explanation?

The sheep-like behaviour sending masses rushing tomorrow into over-crowded restaurants for over-priced VD menus and assaulting flower stalls makes me wonder what is left for the rest of the year?

This is quite sad. Why do we need an excuse to bring flowers home or to set a romantic date?

In the meantime, let's be anti-VD:

(thanks to Petite Anglaise for the hint)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Watched again this movie about a guy who starts a huge drug ring, meet Pablo Escobar, gets rich and finishes in prison -alone with his regrets.

Stellar performance from Johnny Depp (one of my favourite actors with Nicolas Cage), the film moves from the early 70ies till the late 80ies and the clothes, locations and play render superbely the time passing -one thing many movies get wrong so often.

My rating: 3/5

Sunday, February 05, 2006


The yearly orchids exhibition has started in Kew Gardens, check it out!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Foodings: All you need to know on Camembert!

How to choose a Camembert?
The only good Camembert...
  • proudly displays a round certificate AOC Camembert de Normandie,
  • is made with unpasteurised milk,
  • is between 10,5 and 11 cm in diameter,
  • weights 250g,
  • is manually crafted,
  • and is boxed in wood round casing
There are 10 makers: my favourite is Lepetit (which I used to find in Tesco but not anymore :-(, ou du Lanquetôt (both are owned by Lactalis/Besnier), Jort (my mum's favourite), Gillot, Isigny Sainte Mère (makes Sainsbury's Taste the difference and Tesco's Finest) , Laiteries de Bernières, Fromagerie du Val de Sienne, Réo, Moulin de Carel (Besnier).

But make sure you take the "Camembert de Normandie", Tesco's French Traditional Normandy Camembert, Coeur de Lion, Le Rustique and the entry-level supermarket own brand are all rubbish! A tip: go for the yellow warning UNPASTEURISED label.

Beware of imitations!
French say it better: pasteurised camembert is de la m****... !
If you live in the USofA, don't read any further: it may be a wonderful and free country, but only for dead-cheeses. Camembert is unpasteurised and helps you building a healthy stomach!

It is one of the best known and most widely appreciated cheeses around the world and this success has given ideas to many. They may make nice cheddar in Sommerset, but they should leave Camembert alone, for the same reason that Danes should leave Feta in Greece and French should not copy Italian Mozarella.

For not having been protected in time, the actual word camembert came into the public domain in 1926.

But then, who would have thought of bloody Sommerset Camembert? There are many copies, alll (to my knowledge) pasteurised and can thus be mass produced, stored and shipped anywhere.
Surely all the germs are killed, as the flavour.

So that diet-conscious ones can continue to buy, we have even seen some light versions, individual packagings and more!

Some are specifically designed to fool consumers, like the quite like the Tesco pseudo-traditional version or the Rustique (from Sodiaal) which is sold in a "traditional" packaging when it's pasteurised... (Thierry would say "thermisé").

But in 1983, justice has finally been fair with the 200-year old invention from Marie Harel (1791) with the creation of the aforementionned Protected Geographical Denomination
AOC Camembert de Normandie.

How to eat a Camembert?

Whatever you do, never stick your camembert in the fridge! If you reside in Murcia or Creta, I may forgive you but unless exceptional circumstances, the camembert will die in your fridge. it will prefer a fresh and dark room.
You may however try Auntie Martine's trick: wrap your precious Camembert de (remember?) Normandie AOC in a paper (ParisNormandie gives usually good results) and let ripe in the veggies drawer for about 2 weeks. Useful after coming back from your Calais booze trip....

Otherwise, you should let it ripe for a good week and a half (five days will do in summer) on top of the fridge to avoid temptation: do not tuck in before it's soft (all creamy inside, with no trace of "plaster" -that's for Parisians) and has slight orange-ish moulds on its rind.

Enjoy with a good sour dough bread (in Richmond, try Maison Blanc) or make it yourself and with a Bordeaux (

graves does it for me) or a côtes du Rhône.

Finally, the French call this white, fluffy, textured rind "croûte fleurie"...


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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Rail racket

First the congestion charge at £5 then £8, then the tube ticket is pushed to £3 (making LU the most expensive tube in the world) and now we learn this:
Rail fares will treble as cheap tickets go (Times, 20/01/06)

Is it the best way to encourage commuters to use environment friendly alternatives? While aviation fuel is not taxed?

This is nothing more than racketting people whose only crime is to go to work every day!