Christmas in London

Teaching in Mallorca

Well I have been incogneto for the last week, or is that incomunicardo, in Mallorca, teaching. We, as astrophysics Ph.D students, get to go and strut our stuff and exercise our brains by showing OU undergrads how to do space stuff, mostly telescope work, at the OAM for the SXR208 course we do. This was the first real time I had used a telescope like this (i.e. setting it up and moving it etc.), as the big installations tend to have all this done for you, so it was a very steep learning curve.



Me and Steve had a few hours to play around on the first night so we took a few pretty pictures, the moon and the sombrero galaxy, not too exciting, but not too bad for our first attempt.

Steve and I had the unfortunate problem of being our indecisive selves all week, not too much of a problem when our respective other halfs are around, but when they are not then it is an almost impossible chore to pick a place to eat! We did have one afternoon off, in which we went in the Med, well we couldn’t not.

All in all I had a great time, the nights were long, the students were really nice to me (thanks if any of you find this), and it was really rewarding. I think I just about managed to bluff my way to the students thinking I knew what I was doing 🙂 Just have to get back to work now 🙁

Tasty Savoury Pastry (Wheat and Dairy Free!)

After much searching for recipes and experimenting by baking one pie a week i have discoverea very tasty savory pastry recipe. Of course olly and i were both getting fatter from eating all the pies i was making, so i have now had to limit pie making to just once a month 🙂


75g rice flour

75g cornmeal

75g potato flour

~ 1tsp xanthan gum

1 pinch salt

150g soya butter

1 egg whisked

  • Sift the rice flour, cornmeal, potato flour, salt and xanthan gum into a large bowl and mix well.
  • Add chunks or cubes of the soya butter and rub into the flour (or use a pastry cutter) to make “breadcrumbs”.
  • Add enough of the egg to bring the pastry together but make sure it isn’t too wet as it will shrink in the oven.
  • On a lightly potato/rice floured board knead the dough. Roll into a ball slightly flatten it, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for a minimum of 30 mins but best left overnight.
  • When chilled roll the pastry out between two baking sheets and use as required.


  • I brush a bit of whisked egg over the top of the pastry after it is half cooked, it makes the pastry go golden.
  • if cracks appear in the raw pie casing smooth pastry dough with a little water to fill in the gaps.
  • Always use a pie funnel to stop pastry collapsing and filling from boiling over.

Portugal & London

We are back from our epic journey to Portugal and a few days in London. All in all we had a nice time, (see the photo album if you are bored) and I shall be writing a page about what we did etc. when I get a chance.

London was fun, we got to see some old friends and Becca’s family. We also went to the Tower of London, it cost £45 for a family ticket! Far far far too expensive for what it was. The torture room was rather disapointing, it only had three implements of pain, no where near as good as the musuem in Prague. And the crown jewels had a queue that rivalled the one to get a Wii, I know I am English and all but even I don’t enjoy queueing that much!

Then we watched TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the uninitiated) (Tinja Ninja Turtles for the childlike), oh how it took me back to my youth.

My first paper has finally been submitted too, just have to rewrite the whole thing when the referee sends it back!