I’m quite partial to gin which, in this day and age, isn’t such an unusual thing. I interested with varieties that go beyond the run of the mill but I do exercise a little caution. For example, earlier this year I was tempted by a ‘elderflower’ gin that was on offer; when I got it home, I reasoned that it was probably on offer because nobody in the right mind would want to return for another bottle!
Tonight’s chance turned out to be more successful – Flor de Sevilla from Tanqueray, which was on offer in Tesco. I’d previously enjoyed their Rangpur, made with additional lime, and this one is even more to my taste. It has a good balance of bitterness and sweetness. I think it would be sickly in large quantities although, given the alcoholic strength of gin, too much is going to make one sick anyhow!
Whether it was the weather or the pruning or something else, the berries on my Myrtle bush (Myrtus communis) seem to be larger this year than before. I picked some berries today to get a batch of myrtle gin going and, while I have put them down the same funnel I use for the sugar in the past, I had to feed them directly into the bottle today as they were too fat.
This year’s recipe: 260g berries with an equal amount of sugar, a cinnamon stick with some cloves, star anise and mace and then topped off with London Dry gin in a 1 litre bottle. Over the next few days I will regularly shake it and then put it somewhere dark for a few weeks until the colour has developed and I’m ready to take the sweetened, flavoured and coloured liquor off into small bottles.
There are plenty of berries left on the bush so I might try a second batch this year, perhaps with a different set of spices.
I’m going out for a meal tonight after work so decided to walk down this morning rather than cycle. That meant setting off earlier and arriving a bit later although I noted that I passed the clock at the East Oxford side of Magdalen Bridge at about the same time as I normally do cycling down. I guess that makes it the fulcrum point of my regular journey.
Walking is better for glancing at posters and shop windows but I think I’ll continue using the bike for regular travel, which saves me about half an hour on the journey time.
This week at work I have particularly been learning how to deal with reports of phishing and spam. A lot of examples are quite easy to spot but there is a real need for caution with any email you receive. We’ve become quite dependent on email but it has some significant issues. Two rules of thumb that will increase your safety are:
Don’t assume that it really came from the alleged sender. Email is relatively easy to ‘spoof’, which for cybercriminals is a boon. They claim someone else’s name and write it on the message and, once dropped in an online postbox, the global system happily delivers it to you. Always ask if you expected that person to email you at that time with that request. You can even pay attention to the writing style – although imprecise, you can often spot the distinctive ‘handwriting’ that lies behind the type.
Take care before you click on anything. Hover over links to see where they actually go (sometimes fake names can look plausible so take care with this) and don’t click on attachments just through idle curiosity. Ideally, the text of the email should clearly explain what to expect and, for a link, give enough clues that you could find it by independent searching.
There are ways of digitally signing messages to give a better reason to trust them but it isn’t trivial to do and so rarely happens. Therefore, for now, treat everything with caution. For example, if this blog starts to show signs of a coherent plan rather than just being a motley collection of things that have interested me, you should know to be suspicious!
This might have been a good one to post yesterday although I drew it back in August. Soul Survivor had a roaring bonfire and, not too far away, a little outdoor gig on. Don’t worry – it didn’t set the audience on fire in the wrong way although the lack of clear depth clues might make it look like that!
Not too long after I got back into sketching, in summer 2017, I started getting into the habit of carrying a little case of felt tip pens around and I’ve gradually supplemented that with other mark making tools – a pencil, a fountain pen and, most recently a small paintbrush. The fountain pen was a Parker one I’d had for a long time but, after years of neglect, I discovered that I really enjoyed using it and it has become my main sketching tool.
Fast forward to September this year and I was getting ready for my new job. I decided that I wanted to start making regular use of a fountain pen there, too, but I didn’t want to take the Parker out of my sketching case. A bit of online shopping later and I was the proud owner of a Fashion Elegant Jinhao 450 Dark Red Fountain Pen with Golden Clip. The cost? A mighty £5.71! I didn’t know quite what to expect but the reviews were positive and it wasn’t a huge investment.
It turns out to be solidly made – weighty, even – and attractive in appearance. It has survived a month of me using up old cartridges (supposedly sealed but the ink had become somewhat condensed) and, now that I’m onto a batch of new (cheap) cartridges, it is still writing perfectly well. I don’t know if it will last a lifetime but, a month or so in, it is proving to be a good little sword so far.
Most Sundays I get my sketchbook out and draw something during the service at St Clement’s. That something often involves reference to the bold neo-romanesque arches of this Georgian church. Once in a while, though, I get to sit in another church and often end up drawing arches in those too:
The sketch above was from St Giles in Oxford, where I recently popped in to listen to the Bishop of Oxford listing his ten favourite stories that Jesus told. Good grist for the mill for the youth group session I was leading that weekend on a couple of short parables and an opportunity to draw some slightly more pointy arches than are seen at St Clement’s.