Cake, cake and more cake

Ok. I’ve written a bit about music over the last few days, so now it’s time for something far more serious. Cake!
Now the Great British Bake Off has finished for another year, I’ve been looking around for a way to satisfy my love of cake, and what better way than eating cake? As much cake as I possible could?

Today has been my fist three-cake day for a while. Don’t judge me, I just love cake!

Cakes I’ve eaten today, in order brilliantness

1 – Chocolate pudding

Chocolate puddingDo you remember when they use to make puddings? Proper sponge cake puddings, with custard. It might seem a bit school dinnerish, but personally, I don’t think you can beat rich, moist chocolate pudding with thick Birds-Eye custard. It’s so stodgy that it’s almost a meal in itself, but boy, I’d choose it over any other food any time.

I had this cake after dinner in the evening, and ended up so stuffed I felt like Henry the Eighth. If Henry the Eighth ate puddings, instead of chickens and larks tongues and jugged hare.

We actually baked it ourselves using this recipe, which means there’s plenty more if I get a bit peckish. And I will keep getting peckish as long as there’s some chocolate pudding left 🙂

 

2 – Tiramisu cupcake from ‘Cupcakes by Charlie’

cupcakeSo I was wandering around Harrogate, and passed a lovely little cake shop called Cupcakes by Charlie. The display looked gorgeous so I popped in, in search of cake, and I’d come to the right place. Now you might not like this, but I still call cupcakes ‘buns’. Maybe it’s a northern thing, but to me, they’ll always be buns.

In the same way as I ask for a ‘large chips’ in McDonalds, instead of fries. It’s partly me being annoying, but I also resent being made to call things by stupid American names. Anyhow, buns now seem to be called cupcakes, so I’ll go along with that for now.

So, how was it? Chocolate sponge (again), topped with coffee and Baileys buttercream, and a jaunty little wafer. it was very nice thank you, and a great addition to my cup of coffee. The buns (cupcakes) are works or art, and I’d love to be able to make them myself. maybe the shop could get involved with cupcake making experience gifts, and charge people to learn how to do it, because they know what they’re doing.

I’ll be going back there again, but probably be buying a box of four, so I can scoff them at home too.

 

3 – Tarte au citron

tarteLemons – they’re brilliant aren’t they? From Italian Limoncello on its own or in cocktails, to lemon drizzle cake, and my favourite, the tarte au citron. Like a zingy lemon curd dream inside a delicious pastry case, I picked up this tart au citron from Marks and Spencer. It wasn’t this specific one cos you have to order this, but it’s exactly the same product.

Interestingly, this was by far the highest calorie of any of my cakes, but then I probably ate enough for four people. Never mind, it’s not like I only had cake to eat that day.

 

As a final thought, I was recently reminded about the UK Pudding Club. where a club gathers every now and then to eats dozens of different sorts of puddings. It’s my idea of heaven, but based in the Costwolds which is a fair old drive for me.  I might start my own ‘Robert’s pudding Club’, where I eat lost of puddings, and cakes, and biscuits, and anything else I can find.

How come I’m not the fattest man in the world? It’s probably only a matter of time 🙂

Advertisements

Just got some great Bose headphones

Yes you saw it here first!

I wanted some headphones for listening to music on my tablet and US TV series on my laptop, so thought it was about time I got myself a decent pair instead of those awful earbud things they expect you to use.

Well the first port of call was my local PC/entertainment shop, where the good news is that they had loads and loads of headphones – in fact all thirty metres on one wall was covered in different models. The bad news is that well over half of them are Beats by Dr Dre.

Now I’ve nothing against DrDre, whoever he is, and I’m sure that he’s very good at writing prescriptions, but the speed with which headphones bearing his name have taken over the world is amazing even though to my mind the value of his recommendation is limited to say the least. Actually, I do know who Dr Dre is (I looked it up on Bing) and what I found out makes me pretty sure that what he knows about headphones could be written on a beermat. Sure he makes a shedload of money out of them, but is that any reason for me to buy them? And if you need convincing, check out practically any review. They’re not all brilliant by any means.

Anyway, ignoring the Beats stuff made my checking out the shop’s stock a lot quicker. There were one or two by other well-known makers – Sennheiser for example, or Bose, along with some I hadn’t heard of. But I do like Bose gear.

If you’ve ever spent any time looking at audio reviews of anything, you’ll find that the so-called audiophiles just do not like Bose. They slam them at every opportunity, criticising arcane little points that they’ve found in their “audition” (yes, you don’t listen when trying them out, you audition them!). The main problem it seems is that Bose is good at marketing, and spends a lot on sales and marketing as well as technical quality and development, so self-styled audiophiles dismiss them as a PR company and don’t give their products a fair chance.

For myself I’ve always found the build quality and technical performance of their kit excellent. And let’s face it, they offer the chance to return your stuff for a full refund inside 30 days if you decide you don’t like it. Now does that show confidence or what? Try returning your Beats by Dr Dr after four weeks’ use because you don’t like them.

The Bose Soundtrue Around Ear headphones I picked are amazing.

Bose Soundtrue phones in some great colours
Bose Soundtrue phones come in some great colours

Light as a feather, comfy enough to wear all day, cover the ear and block out any outside noise without the eerie silence you get from Noise Cancelling phones (did you know that those give some people giddy turns??) and truly exceptional sound.

They come in a range of colours as well as the standard black.

The audio line feeds in just under the left phone and has a couple of control switches built in. These were designed to control the iPhone/iPad/iPod – all Apple devices – but there’s a clever app you can get for your Android tablet or phone that lets them work just as well there too. Which is as well, as I’m not a big Apple fan and wouldn’t touch an iPad with a long pole.

Headphones like these are not cheap, but if you reckon that they cost about the same as a top price ticket to a big name concert, then I know which I’d rather have. They’re guaranteed for two years and should carry on long long after that, if any of my other Bose kit is a guide. And I should add that I’m not on commission from Bose and get nothing at all if anyone else buys them. I just know great headphones when I hear them!

Tigers

tiger in a forestAs many of you may know, tigers are one of my favourite animals. Tigers are the largest cat, tipping the scales at an astonishing 300kg and reaching over three metres long. The beautifully camouflaged fur makes them stand out in zoos, however they will blend into the background in the shrubs and forests of their homelands.

 

How long to tigers live?

Tigers don’t usually last longer than 20 years, and less in the wild where fights and lack of food can cut the average lifespan in half. Until recently, the oldest tiger in the world was a handsome cat called Flavio, but sadly he passed away in early 2014 aged 26 years. You can read more about himhere.

 

Unlike lions, tigers are usually solitary animals, who like to live and hunt alone. They  need large areas to live in and hunt, but as with all wild animals, mankind is rapidly destroying their habitat, leaving them to either starve, or wander into villages where they are killed.

 

Where do tigers live?

Tigers haven’t always been limited to jungles and inaccessible areas. In the past, thousands of tigers populated Asia, even in countries such as Russia and Turkey. Nowadays, however, tigers have been completely eradicated from many of these places. The only areas where tigers live in any abundance are Asia, however even there are now estimated to be less than 3000 wild tigers remaining in the world.

 

How to save the tigers.

With so few tigers left in the wild, it’s really a race against time to protect them from becoming one of the most tragic extinctions of the 21st century. Many international relief organisations have been set up to save the tiger including Save Tigers Now, by the WWF.

Also, in zoos around the world, research is taking place into tigers and other big cats, to ensure that they live on into the future for other generations to be fascinated and intrigued by these beautiful big cats. In the UK, you can also enjoy ‘feed the big cats’ experience days.

 

Famous tigers through history

Tony the tiger

Monster truck information

truck1Everyone loves Monster trucks, especially in the USA. They’re the vehicles styled on pickup trucks, but with the addition of oversized wheels.

They are famous for popular entertainment performances, often at sporting venues such as sports stadia, and are often on the same bill as motocross races and tank driving.

Five facts about monster trucks

  • The most famous truck is Bigfoot, but Grave Digger also has a large following.
  • You can steer a monster truck with its front and rear wheels simultaneously, so it’s cornering is above that of a normal saloon .
  • They’re so dangerous that drivers wear fire suits, with other safety precautions including helmets and safety harnesses to hold the driver in their seat.
  • The force of landing after a large jump is greater than a punch from Mike Tyson
  • There is a monster truck built on the body of a Smart Car.

Monster truck entertainment

Shows involving these vehicles usually culminate in the trucks flattening cars and jumping over ramps. Because the wheels are so large, the trucks have a very high centre of gravity. This means that the trucks can easily drive over obstacles up to two metres high, which makes it a very unusual experience.

Most shows contain races, with two trucks competing against each other, with the slowest being replaced after every race. Later shows involve other stunts such as wheel spinning and donuts, alongside racing. Of course they’re a very American vehicle. In the UK there’s only one US spec Monster truck, and it’s so rare, and so much fun, that you can actually rent time in it. There’s a review of driving it on Alasdair Gray’s experience days site: here.

The anatomy of a monster truck

The trucks can reach up to 140kph, with roaring engines pushing the heavy wheels. This power enables the trucks to jump up to 40 metres, after a long run up. The body of the truck is usually solid plastic, to keep the weight down and the strength up, and they rarely have doors, as this would add to the weight. This means you’ll have to climb into the cabin through the window – a bit scary if you are already 2 metres off the ground. You don’t need a special licence to drive a monster truck, but they are rarely road legal.

You may also be surprised to hear that the steering wheel is in the middle of the cabin, to give the driver better all round vision. The first ever truck was Bigfoot. Back in 1981, Truck-a-Rama promoter Bob George had the idea of driving a promotional truck with hude wheels, over some old bangers, He coined the term ‘monster truck’ and a new adrenaline sport was born.

Safety

Much the same as speedboats, these trucks come complete with a kill switch, which can turn off the engine if the driver falls from the vehicle or loses control. As we’ve said above, the drivers are also fastened tightly into the seat, and equipped with a fire retardant suit, to protect them in the event of a crash and subsequent fire.