Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: adventuring
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-02-26 00:42
The Sunday Post ... But with a Twist

Well, it is Sunday, and this is a post, but as some of you may have noticed, I have been out and about enjoying this year's Granite Noir Festival this weekend. The Granite Noir Festival is a short local event that celebrates crime writing - with lots of readings, author meets, workshops, tours, theatre, exhibitions, etc. For such a relatively small interest group in this rather remote part of the world, there was a lot to see and do.


I have already written about the author event last night, with Hugh Fraser and Robert Daws, and I had planned to join the conversation with Val McDermid on Friday night also, but may have fallen asleep on the sofa after work... Um, yeah. Never mind.


Anyway, the main event for me this weekend took place tonight in the rather snazzy restaurant of our local theatre - A Poisoned Cocktail Party hosted by none other than Dr Katheryn Harkup, author of A is for Arsenic (which you've probably heard me gush on about in the past)  and Making the Monster (which I am currently enjoying). 


So, here is the twist ... Instead of our usual Sunday Soup feature, I will share some of the cocktails with you.

The idea was that with each "round", Dr. Harkup would tell about some of the ingredients and what made them poisonous and present stories - mostly of a dark but humorous nature - about the use of the poison. Btw, these were not all the same ones as described in A is for Arsenic, which made for an added bonus of interesting trivia.


First off, we had this one:



This was a concoction of gin, Cointreau, and absinthe (or rather essence of absinthe), with a shot of juice (can't remember which one but there was a slight hint of grapefruit). 

The cocktail itself was not a winner for me - it was remarkably bland. 


However, the story of how absinthe was used and how the thujone, the compound in the ingredient wormwood, can be toxic and lead to hallucinations and convulsions. There is, apparently, very little of the stuff in absinthe, and most of the problems with absinthe may have been caused by the high percentage of alcohol in the drink - but it was interesting to hear that Victorians also added copper compounds and other things to the drink to get the green colour. And those added impurities may actually be a cause of concern of their own.


We also heard about Brazil nuts, which may, apart from selenium, also contain uranium, depending on where they have grown. Delightful.


In Round # 2, we were given this yummy looking duo:



That is, tapenade with poppy seed crackers (to soak up some of the %), and a blood orange and amaretto cocktail - which was delicious.


Let me just say, there was nothing to worry about with the olive dish. 


The drink, of course, provided the anchor for a discussion of cyanide, which was one of the poisons described in A is for Arsenic that I found particularly fascinating. It is fast and effective, and horrible. And yet, cyanide compounds are in so many things other than bitter almonds, cherry stones, apricot stones, and apple pips - but it is the reaction with stomach acid that causes the problems. (Btw, apparently one would have to ingest about 200 apple seeds before the getting into trouble.)


The poppy seed crackers led to one of the most elaborate discussions of the evening - which was all about opium and its derivatives morphine and heroin. It still shocks me that heroin was prescribed as a "non-addictive" painkiller and given over the counter to anyone, including teething babies.


Lastly, we had this one:



I have no idea what was in that other than some coffee-based liquor like Kahlua or Tia Maria. I don't drink a lot and was already struggling with the previous two cocktails at this point. (I could, of course, have opted for the non-alcoholic versions on offer, but ... nah... )


The cocktail was ok. I was far more interested in Dr. Harkup's discussion about caffeine. It is also a neurotoxin, but it is so prevalent in our diet that most humans have build up some sort of tolerance to it. However, there has apparently been an experiment where  spiders were given different drugs and the scientists observed the effect on the spiders' web spinning skills. Apparently caffeine messed them up tremendously. 


Read more about this here or here


What have I learned from this evening? Buy your cyanide fresh and take your coffee seriously!


In all seriousness, tho, this was a brilliant event and I can only recommend that, if you have the chance, you go and see Dr. Harkup talks or read one of her books. 

But then, you already know that I'm a fan.


Happy Sunday!


Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-02-21 20:44
Very Little Reading...

is getting done this week and weekend around here, because this is one of those weeks where I am not destined to be at home much.


But there are very good reasons for it: A very short-notice work trip took me to London yesterday. Yay! And even better, the work commitments ended just after lunch, with my colleague asking if I had plans for the extra time before we had to catch our flight home. 


Me? Plans? Of course, I have plans! Apparently, he didn't but he was happy to tag along to see Charlie and the Whale...



I had not been back to the Natural History Museum for a couple of years, and this was the first time since they changed out the dinosaur for the blue whale in Hintze Hall. It is huge. What a great idea to feature it in the main hall. It really let you get a sense of scale and perspective to see it stretching almost all along the main entrance.


We didn't have a lot of time, certainly not enough to look at anything in detail or wonder off in many of the specialist areas, but I did make a point of us saying Hi to Pickwick's great-great-great-grandma/pa.



I love this place.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2017-11-14 02:46
16 Tasks of the Festive Season - Square #2: November 5th - Bon Om Touk


Tasks for Bon Om Touk:  Post a picture from your most recent or favorite vacation on the sea (or a lake, river, or any other body of water larger than a puddle), or if you're living on the sea or on a lake or a river, post a picture of your favorite spot on the shore / banks / beach / at the nearest harbour.


I love all things open water and there are a number of favourite pictures to choose from. However, seeing that I have just returned from a trip with friends to Penang Island (in the north of Malaysia), I'll share the following picture(s) of the Malacca Strait:



#1 - Batu Feringghi



#2 - Batu Feringghi


#3 - George Town


#4 - George Town



Batu Feringghi is in the north of the island, and - unfortunately - has been developed into a tourist resort with more hotels and shops than maybe necessary. There is another beach just along the shore to the west called Monkey Beach, which smaller and less developed, but it was getting late and we wanted to spend some time on the beach before dark. 


Btw, I'm glad we did not get there earlier than we did because temperatures during the day ranged between 34C and 37C without any wind to speak of that would have provided relief and not many clouds to provide cover from the sun. I am simply not built for hot weather - I start to melt when exposed to the mid-20s (C)!


The 3rd and 4th picture are taken along the promenade in George Town. My friends were going to a wedding for the afternoon, and although they assured me I was welcome to join them, I did not feel comfortable to crash the party. So, I seized the opportunity to go sight-seeing. Of course, that was hampered by the heat and I ended up chilling in an air-conditioned cafe with some iced tea and a book after visiting Fort Cornwallis.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2017-11-11 14:15
Adventure awaits...

...and trust my friends to designate a Buddhist book and tea shop as our starting point.






Anyway, I will be offline for a few days. Mostly.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2017-11-07 13:25
This week's office view...

...is pretty cool, BUT it is an office view that I get to spend an awful lot of time looking at, which is why I haven't shared any exciting book, food, or wildlife pictures with you all, yet.



Thankfully, there is an end in sight as we are nearing Wednesday. And so, I can do more plotting of adventures for the weekend and few days that I have off after this current project. 


So, more of this...



Btw, BOH tea is grown in Malaysia. I visited last time I was here. There is something lovely about drinking tea where it grows. It has a quite delicate flavour, so I'm enjoying this one without milk, but with a little sugar. 


These are from the last trip, and were taken at the tea plantation: 



Imagine plucking these by hand!



*** EDIT ***


So, I hadn't noticed before posting the pictures, but picture # 2 also works for the St. Martin's Day Task of the 16 Festive Tasks.


" –OR– Take a picture of the book you’re currently reading, next to a glass of wine, or the drink of your choice, with or without a fire in the background."


I'll count it towards that. ***

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?