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These are confusing times. Times of protest and strife. Conflicting advice. Uncertainty. And things are not improved by snap decisions made to simply look like you’re doing something. Doing something is better than nothing, right? Well, not exactly.
Masks. Love ’em. Hate ’em. Masks divide our opinions, and separate us from the world. As of the 15th of June, pretty much all NHS employees are required to wear them. It made sense to me when FFP3 masks were mandated for people involved with aerosol generating procedures – I wear one when carrying out post mortems to minimise risk to myself while opening lungs and what not. It made sense when regulations were extended to ensure all employees with patient contact wore masks, to minimise risk where possible. But this? Sitting in an office where we can already socially distance, facing away from each other, working on computers and microscopes most of the time.
I don’t even think I would mind so much, but I can’t see any evidence that most NHS Trusts were consulted or even given a heads-up before being told their stocks of precious surgical masks were going to be given out en masse. Do we have enough supply for this change in policy? That’s a great question, and one I hope the government has asked before changing the rules on a whim. Hopefully the advice will be clarified or refined to allow more flexibility, or even the use of cloth masks. Using one or two surgical masks per day is probably about as effective as a chocolate teapot. Don’t tell Boris; he’ll be stockpiling chocolate teapots by the end of the week.
Gardening Corner (no relation to Gardeners’ Corner)
The weather hasn’t been outstanding recently, with heavy downpours and thunderstorms, but I managed to get outside between the drizzle to tidy up the beds next to the bamboo. I sowed wildflower seeds in the lower bed before I decided I wanted to put different plants in, but the combination of heat and rain brought the whole place to life. Every weed and every wildflower sprouted and overtook the few things I had planted. It took some time to clear it out again and organise things, but it’s considerably tidier now. The gray paint patch is still glaring at me, though, where the pampas grass used to live. It’s on the (ever expanding) to-do list.
The garden is thriving, and producing more food than we can handle at present. We’ve had to find alternative uses for a glut of courgettes and radishes. My latest kitchen edition is a whacking great dehydrator with six shelves (this bad boy) and so far I’ve made courgette crisps, dried apple and banana slices, and even my own dried herb mix with herbs picked from the garden. We’ve got rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano and sage. A lot of herbs don’t go that far once you’ve dried them and milled them.
I’ve also narrowly avoided taking off my fingertips with the new mandolin I picked up from Amazon. Thankfully it came with cut resistant gloves, so first blood has not been drawn. The mandolin is perfect for preparing fruits and vegetables for drying as you can get thin and even slices. Auto-mandolining is a definite risk, but the rewards can be great if you’re bold enough!
The culinary activities have not been limited to dehydrating. I mentioned before that I had started to use Ken Forkish’s book, Flour Water Salt Yeast, and a big part of his methods involve cooking in a Dutch oven to best simulate commercial bakery ovens. I owned nothing of the sort and merely fantasised in the past about having some Le Creuset cookware but thanks to the awesome power of industrial imitation, you can pick up a decent Dutch oven for £25 to £30 on Amazon. I bought a Villeroy & Boch one and it seems pretty solid for the money – enameled cast iron (I have a thing for cast iron.) I haven’t made a proper loaf in it yet but I did bake some of the dough I’d frozen from the last batch, and even that worked really well. A proper farmhouse loaf with a thick crust and perfect crumb. I used one of his recipes for making skillet foccacia with leftover dough too, which worked like a charm.
My gaming has largely been limited to Shenmue 3 and the Witcher 3. Apparently I can only play things with three in the title, so I better hurry up and buy Resident Evil 3. Before I do that I should probably finish RE2. And RE7, come to think of it.
Shenmue 3 is still enjoyable, but I can see where it could become frustrating if you’re not accustomed to the games. Even I have gotten somewhat frustrated at the repetitive nature to some of the gameplay elements. I think I would be happy enough buying capsule toys the whole time, but who has the money for that?
That’s all for now. I am slowly but surely working on a new and long overdue video, so look out for that in the days, weeks, or even months to come.