adrian hollister

Long term review of Tea Pigs

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It’s been quite some time now since I wrote my original review on Tea Pigs, so it’s about time I revisited that review.    So I’m still a big fan of the Redbush tea – the Rooibos crème caramel is still part my daily routine, especially when working late into the night.

That smell of the caramel with the Redbush is just amazing.  There are quite a few others now jumping onto this band waggon now – with Redbush flavours popping up all over.  Even the big brands are starting to introduce options.  But even their vanilla flavours have nothing on the Tea Pigs crème caramel.  So if you like your Redbush tea’s, give it a try.

On the run up to Christmas they have introduced a couple of new tea varieties.  I’ve tried out many of them, but my favourite two are the Apple and Cinnamon and the sweet ginger.   Clearly the Apple and Cinnamon has apple pie and christmas written all over it.  The smell and taste put you in a right spirit; and there is a genuine and wonderful apple taste with a good lingering hint of the cinnamon.   It’s just one of those drinks that seems to evoke memories of warm evenings and the festive season.

Sweet Ginger is not something I would have traditionally looked to try.  Ginger can be too strong a flavour and not something I would instantly think of for a tea; but this is not harsh at all.  It’s wonderfully warming and calming.  Perfect for the festive season, it makes you want to sit around a warm fire looking out at snow falling.  I take this in my flask on the way to work and the number of people on the train sniffing the air to gulp in a little more of the smell is amazing.

Tea Pigs have now launched a ‘subscribe and save’ option that allows you to put in a regular order for a little bit of discount off your third shop.  I’ve given this a try for the regular stuff and will report on how well it goes later.

It’s great to see the numbers of boutique tea shops growing and I certainly won’t stop trying the competition, but for my day-to-day tea requirements, I’m still shopping at Tea Pigs.

Recipe for Marrow Chutney

Marrow ChutneyHere is our version of Marrow Chutney – it has a little bit of bite, but nothing to worry the kids and quite warming for a winters day.  There is nothing complex about this marrow chutney recipe and uses up the last of the marrow from the garden.  You can also use Courgette if you have them spare.

So, let’s start with the ingredients…

1.5 Kg of Marrow (we also use Courgette)
Salt
250 g shallots
250 g cooking apples
250 g sultanas
20g bruised root ginger
4 teaspoonfuls of spice mix (see our simple blend below)
120 g brown sugar
1 pint (about 570 ml) vinegar

Our simple spice blend is as follows:

2 tablespoons of dried chilli flakes
2 tablespoons of white mustard seeds
1 tablespoon of cumin seeds
1 tablespoon of coriander powder
1 tablespoon of turmeric

First step is quite simple and ideally needs to be done the night before.  Chop, peel and de-seed the marrow – what you want is some small cubes – about 1cm or so.  Put into a colander in the sink and sprinkle liberally with salt.  This will help to remove water and take some of the rather bitter taste out.  We usually do this last thing at night and leave covered until the morning.  Don’t skimp on the salt as it will be washed off.

Salted Diced Marrow

Next step is to do the washing.  You want to get rid of all of the salt, so wash carefully.

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Put your marrow in a large pan and start to add all of the other ingredients.  Apples and shallots need to be cut into similar sized chunks and added.  Our spice mix is simple, but you can use something like pickling spice if you wrap it in muslin and take out at the end.

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With all the ingredients added, bring to the boil slowly.  Remember there is quite a bit of vinegar in here, so this is going to be a little bit smelly.  Keep the lid on and slowly simmer until completely cooked with a thick sauce.  You can stir as you go along and this certainly does help even out the contents, but don’t over do it.

Spicy Marrow Chutney

 

Allow to cool slightly and put into steralised jars.  Best to use hot jars and lids, add hot contents and leave to slowly cool.   Once the marrow chutney is cold store in a cool dark place.  A good larder or top of the fridge is ok.   Remember to put a label on it – especially the date.

Repairing Discovery 300TDI Auto Cruise Control

Just a quick guide here on repairing the most common problem with Discovery 300TDI Auto cruise control – the vacuum hose.  These rubber hoses seem to quite easily perforate or crack over time and it’s very easy to fix.  Firstly, if the cracks are small and near the joins just cut the hose and reconnect.  This only works if you have enough hose.  In my case the hose has already been cut too short and is actually just dangling in the engine bay.  So a quick trawl over to ebay found new silicon hose cheap enough.

I’ve purchased some silicon hose – 5m of 5mm internal diameter and 10mm outer.  This gives 2.5mm of wall which should be enough.   5m is overkill too, but it leaves about 1m for the toolbox.

Discovery 300TDI Auto Cruise Control Vacuum Hose - simple tools required

Tools required are very basic – a good knife, some pliers and some nice hot water.

First off, I’m starting at the auto speed controller unit thingy (I’m guessing there is a real name for this unit).  The hose here for me has already cut by a previous owner, but clearly this was too short and didn’t reach the t-piece.  So that’s a timely reminder to measure twice and cut once 🙂

So, taking the old hose off (very easily in my case), I use this to measure the length of new hose required.  Remembering in my case that the hose was too short, so I’ve added to the length (best to measure long and cut back later if your not sure).  Using the hot water to warm the silicon doesn’t seem to make any difference, but as a homage to the old rubber hoses and to make me feel better I’ve done it anyway.

Discovery 300TDI Auto Cruise Control Vacuum Hose - hot waterWith one end connected to the Auto unit, I warm the other end going to the t-peice.  Once connected up it’s time to look at the longer pipe.  Remove from the T around the bulkhead and into the aux battery/jack area.  Here the pipe dives under what would be the battery tray and into the pump.  The pump is not easy to see and whilst it can be removed, I’m not looking to waste time.

Drilling off the jack mounting plate to gain access to vacuum pump

 

So with that thought, I’ve drilled the rivets holding the pump base into place and removed.  This gives just enough access from the top to do the job and I can replace later if needed.  Removal of the old hose shows that it was completely perished and not even connected to the pump.

Now use this pipe to measure a new length – as always a bit longer is better and remember it can be cut back later.  I’m starting by connecting at the pump end.  On the right hand side of the pump are two projections – your aiming for the back one, slightly shorter.  Push it on as far as you can and give it a tug – it should be a secure fit.

Discovery 300TDI Auto Cruise Control Vacuum Hose - to the pump

 

The picture above shows the red silicon hose that I’m using and just visible through the left hold is part of the pump.  Now route the hose back around the bulkhead using the clips where available and trim if required at the t-piece.

Discovery 300TDI Auto Cruise Control Vacuum Hose - T piece connected

 

Connect to the t-piece and you should have replaced most of the hose.  There is one more that goes through the bulkhead into the drivers footwell, but this one is in good condition for me and I’m stopping at this point.    So final picture from me shows a little more of the engine bay and the new red silicone hose.

Discovery 300TDI Auto Cruise Control Vacuum Hose - complete

 

So did it fix the problem… oh yea 🙂  fully working Cruise Control now on my 300TDI Auto!  Simple fix and only 10 mins of my day used.

Just found a nice guide to the rest of the system – it can be found on Landyzone here.

 

Dawlish to Teignmouth Coastal Walk

The walk from Dawlish to Teignmouth is something I’ve done many times, so I thought it about time I put the route down in the blog.  The views are stunning and it’s a largely simple flat and level walk (along the sea wall between the sandy beaches and railway line).

Continue reading

The new blog has arrived!

It’s been a long time since I’ve updated the blog, so it’s had a well needed make over. Moving from the older Serendipity platform to WordPress will help me keep things up-to-date and should keep me on top of the latest features available on the web.

So a big thank you to those that have helped me create this site and hello to a new set of technology.

Old Serendipity Blog
The Old Adrian Hollister Blog

When will the mobile operators work out that they are just wireless data providers?

When will the mobile operators work out that they are just wireless data providers? A commodity place with what needs to be commodity pricing? The likes of Vodafone and O2 desperately cling on to the hope that their value add is in reception, availability and price of their calls; when most people don’t want these things, they expect them as basic parts of the service.

Mobile operators have started to feel the data provider pinch – data based mobile messaging is killing the text message scam that the operators have enjoyed for so long. SMS messages costing up to 20p each have been a great source of income, but iMessage and Blackberry Messenger run over the internet and sip very lightly on internet bandwidth. They are cost effective and they are a sign of things to come.

The ingress of IP phones have also crept onto the smart phone. Skype, SIP phones and similar all use tiny amounts of data traffic whilst providing a good enough service. Apples own Facetime seems at this point to be banned on the data networks – not for any good reason that I can see other than quality of the connection may be too variable; but again this is a case of waiting for the mobile operators to work out that they are just a wireless data shop.

So where do they need to go? Three to some extent has the right idea – it’s all about data. Virgin Mobile in the UK are also getting there, with trials of 4G starting connected directly into Virgin’s fibre network.

But there is a problem. Mobile operators have been making a lot of cash out of basic services, long contracts and hardware lock-in. They lock people into two year contracts for whilst offering discounts on handset hardware costs. This is massively attractive for some as they pay over time and not up front. Whilst those that can afford it and are the most savy are likely to just buy their phone and take the cheapest ‘Internet’ tariff, the majority will look to continue this buying behaviour.

You can’t expect 3rd party resellers of mobile services such as Car Phone Warehouse to start selling mobile phones at a fair price and separate to a contract – it would destroy their revenue stream; but there is an opportunity out there for a companies to start selling the hardware at a fair price without a contract. A contract free phone would give the consumer the ultimate choice of provider based on real performance and not perceived value of discounted hardware.

If we want consumer choice at a fair price, we must look to break the cycle of contract based on hardware discounts. It’s time for the mobile operators to realise that they are just a wireless BT and, as BT have tried to do, they need to reinvent themselves around the highest quality of internet service and drive the cost of their core services (calls) to commodity prices.

DNSR Didcot to Newbury – the old Railway walk – Part 1

After Beechings massive railway cuts, several of the local downland branch lines have been closed. Newbury to Lambourn and Didcot to Newbury are two of the most well known. I’ve walked the Newbury to Lambourn route, something that was just amazing, following the original route in many places and touring the wonderful villages of the Downlands and Lambourn Valley. But in what I hope will form a nice series of blogs, I am going to walk the DNSR Didcot to Newbury railway in sections that I hope most people could complete and rate them for their dog walk potential.

DNSR

So I am following An Historical Survey of the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway – Layouts and Illustrations and starting at the Didcot end of the route. Partially because it’s easy to get too, but also because it’s the easiest part of the route to follow (well sign posted). The route is a very easy 5 mile walk from Didcot Parkway station to the original Upton and Blewbury station.

Start: Didcot Parkway Station (DNSR terminus)

Waypoint: Upton and Blewbury Station

End: Didcot Parkway Station

Distance: 5.1 miles

Time taken: 2 hours

Elevation change: Level ground, less than 10m.

Dog walking: 2 miles on lead, 3 miles off lead. Some cattle. Lots of other dogs and people.

Track condition: Tarmac surface along entire route

Accessibility: Mostly flat, smooth ramps available. Cattle gate at Upton end restricts access. Quite a few seats available on the route.

Difficulty: Very easy walk.

 

Starting at the Train station in Didcot (called Didcot Parkway), it’s possible to follow the new link road east past Riches Sidings to a roundabout that marks the first remnants of the original embankment through Didcot. From here there are good sign posts showing routes to Upton. This largely follows the original rail line. Once out of Didcot the embankment climbs above the surrounding countryside and it’s possible to see quite a distance.

On the route back, I diverted through Didcot itself and through some of the estates and past schools. You can follow the return journey here

Didcot to Upton Railway Walk

I’ve not added pictures for this one as there are plenty on-line already.  One thing to note is that in Upton right next to the old station house there is a playing field and small playground.  If your walking with a picnic it’s a great half way point; or check out the Pub in Upton – it’s next to the old station house.

Next article… Didcot to Newbury – the old Railway walk – Part 2

 

Reference material:

Wikipedia

-DNSRR Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway Revival

Landrover Discovery 300TDI running on 100% SVO (straight veggie oil)

I’ve been running the landy on 50/50 veggie to diesel with no problem, but now the colder mornings are creaping in she is starting to get a little grumpy. Once warmed up the landy performs as usual without any clear difference (although people do feel compelled to tell me that it smells like a chip shop). I’ve added a heater element around the fuel filter which just cut’s off by thermistor when it reaches 90 degrees and kicks back in at 70; but this is just not enough for the colder mornings and days.

So, I’ve invested in something to make the veggie oil a little bit warmer (and therefore runnier) – it’s from Vow2. I’ve bought the VOW2DW+ unit which heats the oil from a couple of glow plugs and plumbs into the heating system of the engine. It pre-heats fuel on the way to the filter and warms it nicely on route to the pump and injectors.

Picture of the kit purchased.

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First off was the put the unit roughly in place and measure out the fuel pipes. It’s a bit messy cutting into the fuel pipes and removing the old connectors so don’t forget to put something under the fuel filter to catch the muck. Start with the pre-heater pipes as they are quite easy: take the fuel feed pipe from the fuel filter (i.e. the one that runs from the fuel lift pump to the fuel filter) – don’t forget to remove and keep the connector and the banjo bolt as you’ll need to re-use them on your new pipe. Measure and connect the heat exchanger inline (fuel lift pump->heat exchanger and heat exchanger to fuel filter in).

Next work on the fuel line from the fuel filter to the injector pump. Again the heat exchanger needs to be in-line so work on the fuel filter->heat exchanger and then heat exchanger->fuel pump. Don’t forget to put the small see through fuel filter inline before the pump – this will give you an idea of the level of waxing and will show you if you have any air ingress into the fuel system.

Picture below is the basic unit with fuel pipes cut to size and connectors added.

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As the location I’ve chosen for my heat exchanger is easy to get to for the fuel lines, it figures that the location is also difficult to get to for the heater water. But with a few 15mm household copper pipes, bends and a blow torch I’ve put together something that neatly allows me to cut through the inbound heater matrix water pipe (that has give or take a 15mm internal diameter). So, heater matrix inbound hot water is cut about 10cm short and plumbed directly into my 15mm copper pipe work which runs directly into the heat exchangers water input. I’ve used rubber hose connections between the copper and heat exchanger to reduce vibration. Next a short run from the heat exchanger water out to the original water heater matrix input in the bulk head. I’ve used copper to give me a good neat angle and to avoid pipes rubbing or kinking.

Now in situ with water pipes connected (in-line via the heater matrix feed). It’s a little difficult to see, so I’ll do some better photo’s later.

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At the moment it’s all just water heated, but boy does it get hot! With 80/20 (diesel/veggie oil) and outdoor temperatures of 2-5 degree’s C in the morning it all works just fine*. Next up are the electrics – with those in place I should be able to run higher levels of veggie oil without any of the ‘cold start’ problems.

 

*the definition of fine in this case is a few (well a lot) of glow plug action before starting the engine and perhaps even a few attempts to start. You need a good and working battery!