Monthly Archives: September 2012

Stargazing – planet gazing

I’ve always stared at the sky, partly because I’ve been lucky enough to live in places where you can actually see it, and partly because despite being a writer, I’m actually an outdoorsy sort of a person.

However, I’m fairly ignorant about the things I see up there.

For example, until June last year, the only thing I’d ever seen through a telescope was the moon, and a blobby thing that my dad assured me was Halley’s comet.

But in June, everything changed.

We were staying in Cheltenham, for the Cheltenham Science Festival, and it said in the programme that some members of the local astronomical society would be available with their telescopes after 9.00 pm.

So we wandered along rather late at about 11pm, to find only a single man, waiting at bus stop, next to him an enormous telescope carefully stowed away in a huge case.

We chatted, and within a few minutes, he’d kindly reassembled the telescope, cleared it with the delightful and extremely sky savvy security guards, and was pointing it at the stars.

“Take a look,” he said “there’s Saturn.”

I looked, expecting to see a tiny silver dot –  but there was Saturn, just like a cartoon, an absolutely beautiful silver ball with a perfectly clear ring around the middle.  Exactly like this:

I was amazed.

I went on being amazed for several days.

I’m now saving up for a telescope.

I still won’t know what I’m looking at, but at least it’ll be closer.

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Recipe for a tiny tea party

Yesterday was wet in our part of the world, so my daughter and I decided to make a tiny tea party for my mother.  We made a small victoria sponge, a small chocolate cake, several perfect cup cakes, and sandwiches.

We needed:

Three eggs, some self raising flour, some marge, some sugar, some cocoa powder and a teaspoon of baking powder.

Firstly, we weighed the eggs – then measured out  the same amount of marge, sugar, and flour.  Our eggs weighed 180grams, so that was our measurement.

We blended the marge and sugar, tossed in the eggs, shook in the flour, and added the baking powder.

Then we spooned half the mixture into one of the tiny cake tins, and 12 petit four cases.   To the remaining mixture we added a couple of tablespoons of cocoa powder, whizzing it up and pouring it into the remaining tin and remaining petit four cases.

We baked them at a little under 200 degrees C – for varying times, according to size, with frequent examinations.

While they cooked, my daughter and husband made sandwiches,

My daughter decorated the cakes – a single crystallised strawberry shard doubling for the traditional cherry

And finally, we arranged them on a cakestand…

It took about a minute to eat them – they were delicious.

Next stop… Battenburg.