Something Pink (Raspberry and Cranberry Mead)

Yesterday I conducted a culinary experiment! Starting from the basic mead recipe I’ve always used I made some additions to create a Raspberry and Cranberry Mead. So without further ado here is what I used:

  • 1 litre Cranberry Juice
  • 500g Frozen Raspberries
  • 1.5kg Honey
  • 3 (and a bit) litres of Water
  • Lime juice
  • Yeast

First I sterilised everything, then in a pan warmed up the raspberries in 1 litre of water and smushed them up a bit. In a bigger pan I began warming the cranberry juice and strained the raspberry mush into it. (Leaving behind this delicious looking gloop).

Next into the big pan went the honey. Once the mixture was warm and well mixed, into the demijohn it went with a splash of lime juice. After it cooled to room temperature the yeast was added. So now its just a waiting game until its ready. The pre-fermented mix tasted amazing, lets hope that remains. Hope simple was that!?

Finally,  as I wrote this yesterday and as Kim and I watched Jurassic Park, on a lazy Sunday afternoon I was enjoying a pint of that beer I started a few weeks ago… Aaaand its good!





Cider Press funtimes!

Winter is coming! I always seem to start making alcoholic beverages at this time of year*, as you saw the other day I have some beer brewing in my kitchen, now let me tell you of how I ended up helping bring into existence hopefully 40 pints of Perry!

After the Huddersfield food and drink festival (a truly amazing annual event and not just because it is usually the weekend nearest to my birthday!), my family and Kim’s went for a crafty beer at the Sportsman pub**. The outcome of which was that my Dad, Graham (Kim‘s Dad) and myself decided to split the cost of this cider press!

Well one of the pear trees in Graham’s garden was groaning under the strain of its fruit recently which meant it was time to press! And that is exactly what we did!

First we chopped the pears the tried to press them… bad idea this was waaaaay to tough! So Kim got her Mum’s blender out and we quickly blitzed the pears and put them back in the press. Juice in abundance!

A rough estimate of the ingredients:

  • 25lb of pears (pressed to about 1 gallon of juice).
  • 2kg of sugar
  • 4 gallons more water
  • 14g yeast

This is a bit experimental and of course I’ll let you know how it turns out. But I will say this, Cider presses are FUN! The working title for the collaboration of we three cider press owners is ‘RAG cider & perry’ (Richard, Adam, Graham) so should we succeed and the Dads decide to come out of/never go into retirement and go professional watch out for this name… hum… maybe…

* I’ll be starting some meads shortly.

** This has got me thinking I should write a pub guide to Huddersfield!

My first beer…

Busy weekend! After finishing my guitar and going to see Cowboys and Aliens*, I started brewing my first beer!

Once upon a time I made my zeroth beer but unfortunately due to a busted seal I ended up with 5 gallons of mould topped horribleness. But now I have new kit, and kit it is, for this attempt at making beer I have started from this kit. My idea is that if this works well I shall get a bit more adventurous and make something not from kit or a ‘kit/Adam makes it up’ hybrid! Here are the bits of the kit which aren’t the 5 gallon fermentation bucket.

And here are some pictures of how I ended up with 40pints of bitter brewing in my Kitchen.

I’ll let you know how it turns out!

Right, I have one more report of something awesome I did this weekend which will be posted in a day or two… (what will I do next weekend? … write observing proposals probably).

*not bad for something with such an insane title.

Cigar box guitar pt. VII (GUITAR FINISHED)

Cutting straight to the chase my guitar is FINISHED, finally finished. The fret spacings and some finishing touches were added last weekend. Then yesterday I strung it up, plugged it in and dum dum dum… IT WORKS! As proof of this please enjoy this video and these photos of me smiling like an idiot and playing with my new toy!

Almost the first play of my Cigar Box Guitar from Adam Avison on Vimeo.

So some vague specifications (oxymoron I know):

  1. The guitar has an oversized neck, intentionally, however this does mean buying strings for it may be a bit of a challenge. It is currently strung with some Ernie Ball Super Slinky Baritone strings to compensate the extra long neck. I am using what would be the 3rd to 5th thickest strings from this pack.
  2. It is tuned D-A-D, which is a tuning familiar to any former nu-metallers, as it creates a pretty nice sound and means figuring out chords is easy.
  3. The action is INSANELY high, primarily as I intend to learn to play slide guitar on it. Plus there was a minor aesthetics choice in this too… I thought the brass tubing used for nut and bridge looked better thicker, thus increasing the height of the action.

Previously I’ve been keeping a running total of the cost of this guitar, so buckle up here is a complete run down…

  • Pick-up: £12.98
  • Strings: £8.99
  • Tuning Pegs: £7.50
  • Cigar Box: £2.00
  • Jack: £1.69
  • Potentiometer: £1.41
  • Metal extras (e.g. screws, etc etc): £3.00
  • Internal wiring: £2.00
  • Wood for neck and fret spacing metal: Free 😀

Giving a grand total of … wait for it … £39.57 . We’ll call it forty quid because no doubt I’ve forgotten something! Which if you go back and read the first CBG post here you will see is twenty pounds under budget! Yay.

Before I go I have to say thanks to Graham for letting me use his garage (as he has more and better tools than me) and my Dad for making the fret spacings. Me and my dad have plans to build a ‘real’ guitar next, Woo!

Now to play this post out, here is me failing utterly to play something cool* (nerds rejoice)!

Almost a sci-fi theme… from Adam Avison on Vimeo.

* I need a theremin… oh and thanks to Kim for the photos and holding the video camera!


What been going on with me…

Once again an embarrassingly long gap between posts but, hey, I’ve been busy! I’ve survived the first ALMA proposal deadline, appeared on the same bill as The Flaming Lips and OK GO! (almost) and been formally awarded my Doctorate at the same time as a Nobel Prize winner.

Things that have happened:

ALMA Cycle 0 Deadline: Things got a bit busy in the 2 weeks before the deadline and I was occupied mostly with writing my own proposal and making sure the ALMA OST (which I’ve spoken of before) was running smoothly. People we’re submitting proposals right up until the last minute (literally) though thankfully all the proposals I appear on were in at least 30 minutes before the deadline, which for non-astronomers (or maybe non-radio astronomers) could be classified as early! In total 919 proposals have been submitted to vie for the five to seven hundred hours available. So good luck everyone!

Jodrell Bank Live: On July 2nd Jodrell Bank hosted an open air 1 day festival in the shadow of the 76m diameter Lovell Telescope. The line up included Alice Gold, OK GO!, British Sea Power and headlining were The Flaming Lips. I have to admit I knew very little about the Flaming Lips aside from ‘She Don’t Use Jelly’ and ‘Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots’ but wow can they put on a show! Lasers, giant balloons, a stage crowded with dancers dressed as various characters from the Wizard of Oz and of course the famous giant hamster ball the lead singer uses for crowd surfing. Couple these theatrics with projections on the the Lovell itself and you have an amazing show!

Prior to the bands starting a few of us Jodrellites did 20 minute slots talking to the public about our science and then opening the floor to questions in the new Jodrell Bank visitors centre. I was up first and its the first time I’ve recieved a round of applause before having said anything, I spoke breifly on massive star formation and my work with ALMA then did my best answering all the questions. I have to admit when I was posed a time travel related question I wanted to go and hide… thats very much outside my remit. We then hung out in the physics tricks gazebo demonstrating bits of physics with the aid of skewers, balloons, lemons, straws and potatoes.

I am hoping the event happens again next year and I’m trying to think of bands as equally suited to appearing at Jodrell as The Flaming Lips were… I keep coming up with two names Coheed and Cambria or David Bowie, I’m sure one is too big and the other too ‘loud’ but they would both be awesome and appropriate for appearing next to the Lovell.

The Yorkshire Show: Our annual pilgrimage to the Yorkshire Showground, for a full report see Kim’s Photos of Cows on HipHop.

Harry Potter 7.2: (or 7.5 … whatever) came out. Kim and I went to the midnight showing because thats how awesome we are… Thats right I said awesome!

The Young European Radio Astronomers Conference: From the 18th to the 20th of July the 41st Young European Radio Astronomers Conference took place at JBCA/JBO. It included 3 days of talks on a massive range of topics in Astronomy all from a radio astronomy point of view. The two stellar/star formation related sessions were of primary interest to me. But many, many of the other talks were really fascinating particularly those relating to LOFAR, that telescope is mind-bogglingly clever!

I spoke on the first day about some work which I will hopefully blog about again before too long (the paper is almost done). All that’s left to say is ‘Hi’ to everyone I met during the conference and a big ‘Congratulations!’ to the organisers for putting on an excellent conference!

GRADUATION: Something I have been looking forward to since I passed my PhD was graduation (actually its something I’ve been looking forward to since my last graduation… what can I say? I like the fancy robes). On the 22nd of July a grand total of 7 Doctors of Astronomy & Astrophysics graduated from the University of Manchester and we were all honoured to graduated at the same time as Prof. Andre Geim and Prof. Konstantin Novoselov the 2010 Nobel Prize winners were awarded honorary degrees. So, I now have a pretty certificate to match my MPhys one and the ability to say I got my doctorate at the same time as two Nobel Prize winners. Kim took some excellent pictures most of which can be found here including the one below (and the greatest ever animated gif).

I wish I could wear this everyday!

Then to round off last month we completed one of Kim’s 27 things to do before she’s 27 by watching all the Star Wars movies in a day. So thats why I haven’t blogged for a while (plus I am a bad blogger anyway!). Catch you later.

Some of these photos are credit Kim/FinestImaginary. kthnxbai!