Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Taking advantage of the climate

It's one of the fairly obvious things you should do, wherever it is that you live: take advantage of the climate. After all, you can't actually do much about it, so why not organise life to make the most of it? Thus my thoughts about getting one of these Viking grills to make the most of the climate where we are. For, yes, you've guessed it, we're in a nice warm climate where cooking outside is a near (even if not entirely) year round thing.

The point to a Viking gas grill is that it's made to the top commercial standards. This means huge 29,000 BTU burners, everything made of stainless steel so that there are never problems with rust or leaving it outside. So you can in fact equip the kitchen garden (umm, that's the kitchen in the garden, not the garden used to grow things for the kitchen) in the happy knowledge that you're not going to uncover everything in the spring and find you need to buy it all again.

But as I say, down here we don't really have to worry about that at all. And the other nice thing about the Viking grill is that it is indeed gas: I much prefer cooking on gas to electrcity or even charcoal. It's so much easier to control, less messy and, well, just in general it's better. But there is still one question remaining: which of the range should I get? The heart is of course that gas grill pictured: but the range goes all the way up to a 53 inch monster grill with side burners, oven, storage drawers and.....well, it's not so much how much do I want to spend, rather, how often am I going to be cooking for an army?

The Philippines massacre

Oh good grief, this is just horrible, a massive massacre in the Philippines. Initial reports seem to be that it's an attempt to disrupt the coming elections: either to frighten off voters or perhaps to try and get the whole exercise halted or delayed.

Police in the Philippines have found more bodies at a shallow grave in the south of the country, bringing the total number of victims kidnapped yesterday to a least 46.

They were ambushed by gunmen as they travelled to register nominations for next May’s election and were reportedly hacked to death or shot a point blank range.

The President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has declared a state of emergency.

‘‘No effort will be spared to bring justice to the victims and hold the perpetrators accountable to the full limit of the law. The chief of staff has ordered the establishment of check and choke points,’‘ she said.

The Island of Mindanao is notorious for violence between rival clans but even this pre-poll attack has shocked ordinary Filipinos.

One of the people I was at school with is standing in those elections: fortunately, on a different island where matters are not so violent.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What a great invention!

That, to the right there, is a chiminea and I think it's one of the great inventions. Sadly, I've only just become aware of it, I didn't know they existed until five minutes ago. They've also been around for a long time, centuries at least, so it's me not being very swift on the uptake rather than anything else going on here. What rather surprises me is that I've spent a lot of time in Iberian influenced countries and so I should have seen them and understood them but haven't: let's say I'm obviously very slow on the uptake then.

But what's the point about chimineas then? Well, in one sense they're just a variation on a fireplace. Or a cast iron stove: you can indeed cook in them, there's a grill that goes inside them. But they're really much more than that for they solve a quite specific problem. The problem with a basic fire, whether a campfire or a fireplace, is that most of the heat simply goes straight up into the sky. But these are made of cast iron: and so most of the heat, when first lit, is used to heat up that cast iron: it then gets radiated outwards, not upwards. This means that for any given amount of wood that you're going to burn you're going to get more useful heat and less simply lost to the atmosphere. Which is good of course.

In our case a chiminea would solve a specific problem. We do like to be outside of an evening, taking that sundowner and looking out over the hills. But it can get cold. OK, so, we might think of purchasing a patio heater. But around here gas (propane that is) to fire one up is expensive and yet wood is cheap ($100 a tonne sort of level). But open fires don't really produce all that much heat: so here's the solution. Instead of heating the air above the garden we'd be heating us in the garden: which is really rather the point of the exercise.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Sarah De Herdt

This seems like an interesting little thing, this kerfluffle over Sarah De Herdt.

Sarah is a Belgian (and may be on the way to becoming one of those few famous Belgians, along with Jonny Halliday) sprinter and bodybuilder who likes to have pictures taken slightly deshabille as they say in that country.

Nothing actually naughty, just wearing rather fewer clothes than one might think proper in a cold climate. Odd really, to think that some men might get a charge out of seeing a woman in a bikini lifting weights: or that a woman would get a charge from posing for them.

Still, takes all sorts, eh?

As you all know, dear readers you, we're getting this pair of houses together down here and we're finding that we're nearly there. It's just the finishing touches to go really and we're done and can start to actually live in them rather than continually wondering what we're supposed to be doing to them.

One of the little parts of getting these things finally finished is of course making sure that we've got an address plaque up outside the house so that people know where they are. Well, of course, they'll know they're here, but that's not all that useful now is it? They'll also know that we're here which is very useful indeed for some people: like the mailman or perhaps the Fed Ex guy who always seems to ask me to come down to the depot as he cannot find us or our place. So, having decided that an address plaque there must be, which of the different possibilities of address plaques should it be? You can click through the links to see the sort of selection we can choose from.

Me, myself, I rather like the look of that brass one. I can just see myself rather smugly polishing it as I contemplate the houses that we've built here: I can also rather less happily see myself chasing the children down the street after they've left sticky fingerprints on my newly polished address plaques but then we all need to get our exercise somehow, don't we?

Hmm, maybe a rethink called for here: excuse me while I go back to trolling through the catalogue for exactly the right address plaque.