Archive for August, 2010

Bank Holiday comes six times a year…

…Days of enjoyment to which everyone cheers.

Really? Obviously Damon Albarn hadn’t been to where I visited today when he wrote that song.

The sun was actually out for the first time in ages this morning, so we headed to the east coast to make the most of it. Sensing we’d have to move quickly to take advantage of the weather, we went to the nearest resort to Nottingham – Cleethorpes.

It perhaps didn’t help that the sun stayed out for about two minutes before it started chucking it down with rain, but it wasn’t quite the day beside the seaside I had in mind.

Still, it did give me a chance to play with my latest, favouritist iPhone camera app. Look, it even managed to make Cleethorpes look pretty (did I just type that? Whoops. Please don’t come chasing after me, people of Cleethorpes…)


The drive home took us through some cracking Lincolnshire farmland. Like the area around Gob of the Wash’s farm (and most of the county, in fact), the land was as flat as a pancake and looked pretty impressive under the dark clouds.  There were a few combines out trying to make the most of the gaps in the showers too, but it looked as though most of the cutting’s already been done.

The landscape was given even more of a helping hand with a few wind farms. Controversial I know (sorry in advance, Bomber Harris), but I do love a good smattering of wind turbines:

Wind turbines


I still think I deserve a sticker…

What’s that? How am I feeling?

Well, thanks for asking, imaginary concerned blog-readers. I actually feel a bit achy tonight. It must be the typhoid.

Today’s been a bit odd, I have to admit. It started with trying to propel a cat off an spinney office chair, dropping my coat in a giant muddy puddle and missing the train to FW Towers.

Things got progressively worse when I then got trapped on the next train for an hour, got shouted at by an angry doctors’ surgery receptionist and then somehow managed to wipe everything from my beloved new iPhone, just by trying to load a Regina Spektor album onto it (that must’ve been the music gods punishing me for my tastes…).

By the time I eventually got to the doctors’ surgery tonight to have my vaccinations for travelling to India, I was quaking about what else could happen to me and just how many injections I would need.

As it turns out, I only had to have typhoid and hepatitis germs jabbed into me. Despite only needing those two, I still wanted to do this when the nurse rammed her giant needle into my arm…


But I was dead brave and held back the tears. I asked the nurse for a sticker to say I was a good girl for not crying, but she seemed to think I was joking…

Anyway, nursey reckoned those were the only jabs I needed for going to Delhi and Bombay, so fingers crossed this surgery waiting room is the worst place I’m going to have to visit as part of my Nuffield scholarship.



The farming front

If you were a small child and didn’t fancy the idea of eating carrots, what would be the one thing that would tempt you into trying them? How about a sinister, prancing carrot who not only claims to be a doctor, but also reckons he’s your bestest friend?

scary carrot
I wonder if this creepy character gave Roald Dahl his idea for the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?

Scariness aside, this was one of the great posters on display at the Imperial War Museum’s wartime farm and Ministry of Food exhibition.  Kiwi Paul has taken time out of his UK tour this weekend so we decided to pop along to the exhibit, which coincides with the 70th anniversary of the introduction of food rationing and aims to show the role farmers played during WWII.

At at time when we’re concerned about food supplies and how to feed growing populatons, it was interesting to see how the government back then tried to get people to understand about the importance of reducing food waste, local produce and nutrition. Consumers today could probably learn a thing or two from some of the things the war-time government was trying to get across.

War stuff

It was also interesting to see the number of notices trying to explain the concept of seasonality and food imports to the public. Consumers these days always get knocked for not knowing it’s not normal to get strawberries in December, but judging by some of the posters, it seems the public was just as clueless back then too. I’d be interested to know how much the Ministry of Food forked out on leaflets telling people at what times of year different veg would be available, and whether this kind of campaign would work these days.

Maybe today’s government would have to get people’s attention by replacing the camp carrot with Jamie Oliver instead…



The Farmers Weekly crew had an outing to Epsom races this week to celebrate, amongst other things, winning a PPA Award earlier this year.


It was a successful evening – Dan’s curse appears to have lifted as his attempt at betting didn’t result in anything being shot, and I actually won something. I’m contemplating giving up journalism to become a professional gambler – check out my winnings:



The things I do for you guys…

When Farmers Weekly celebrated it’s diamond anniversary last year, we ran a poll to find out what readers thought the greatest farming innovation of the past 75 years was.

While the three-point linkage came out top, the mobile phone came in a close second as an invention which had revolutionised agriculture.

I’m pretty sure if we do the same survey for FW‘s 80th birthday, the mobile will have have jumped to first place – especially now smart phones are becoming less of a rarity on farms.

While I was in the US in July, I met loads of farmers who were doing everything with their Blackberrys and iPhones– from simple stuff such as emailing, to checking out the weather, trading grain and asking agronomists to identify which chemicals they needed for their crops by texting a photo over. One guy even had an iPad which he was using to map his entire farm and work out soil types and the fertilisers he needed. He also had all of his workers’ phones hooked up to the thing so he could know where everyone was on the farm at any time – very handy when he was trying to keep track of his grain trucks during harvest.

I’m always interested to see people using iPhones in innovative ways and finding apps that make their jobs easier – if only because I reckon it justifies my almost incessant praise of the things.

So, as I’m sure you’ll understand, it’s out of journalistic duty that I’ve had to upgrade to the iPhone 4 so I can find out for myself the ways the latest model can be used on farms.

Hopefully upgrading will also stop my Apple-obsessed friend, Mr Geography, from harping on about how amazing the latest iPhone is. Here’s a photo of him boring me to death about it for the 14,000th time:

Me and Mr Geography

Anyway, my phone arrived this week. It’s possible its arrival may have coincided with my lack of posts on here.

It’s all in the name of research. Honest…


Crazy Cat Lady…

My threat’s come true. I just need the purple hair.



Did you know sharks have opposable thumbs?

Me either. But it turns out they do. And they can write. And pop letters in the post all the way from Australia. Don’t believe me? Well look what turned up at Stocks Towers today:

Horror film
shark dvd
Of course, I could be wrong and it could just be that someone thinks it’s terribly amoosing to take advantage of the teensy-weensy little shark phobia I might have. And my mild fear of jellyfish. And my tiny dislike of spiders…

It’s great when your so-called bestest chums are witty like this, isn’t it? Well, if I get pecked to death by a kookabura, who’ll be laughing then, hey?

The horror film’s arrival was actually pretty well-timed, as it coincided with me buying my tickets for the next leg of my Nuffield adventure, which takes me to Bruce’s homeland.

As of October 12, I am outta here. First stop Delhi in India, then Mumbai (or Bombay, if you insist), on to Singapore, then a hop over to Darwin where I’ll start a three-month tour of Australia before flying back to Blighty from Oz’s biggest backwater, Perth.

I’m leaping wildly from excitement to absolute terror, though the panicky feeling may just be because I’ve given a travel agent so much money in one go.

I have just under two months to get visas, appropriately jabbed (what the heck is Japanese encephalitis anyone? Can’t I just promise not to eat, touch anything or breath while I’m in India to avoid these injections?), and work out how I’m going to fit 15 pairs of shoes into a backpack.

I’d better start packing now….


They’re not clones, okay?

If I read one more headline about cloned cows being in the food chain, I think I’m going to scream.

Let’s get this straight, people. You haven’t eaten a clone. You haven’t drunk the milk produced by a cloned cow. Even if you had, it wouldn’t kill you, cause you to grow an extra arm or make your head spin in an Exorcist kinda way.

The cattle that have caused this week’s initial national media, storm-in-a-tea-cup are progeny of a cloned cow from the US (a cow, incidentally, created using the same genetics that creates identical twins in humans – nothing scarier than that). That means they are the children of a cloned animal, not clones themselves.

cows in lane(In case you’re worried, these are ‘normal’ cows, not the ones related to the Yankie clone. I just thought you’d get bored and click away if I didn’t put a picutre on here)

The story then moved on when it was discovered 96 cattle have been bred from those initial eight imported progeny. This makes them the grandchildren of a clone – again, they are not clones.

I initially got wound up about this story because it was published by my favourite chip wrapper, the D*ily M*il, and any story in there tends makes my blood pressure go off the scale. But it was also written in such a ridiculous, dangerously scare-mongering way that I wanted to find the journalist who wrote it and belt him about the head.

The saga has brought up some interesting questions about our role as journalists at Farmers Weekly. We reported on the story as it broke and unfolded, but we did it in a way that was (I hope) measured and rational.

Continue reading “They’re not clones, okay?” »

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