Saturday, February 6, 2016

Crossing the Antarctic Circle on the Ocean Diamond with Quark Expeditions

We left Ushuaia, Argentina (54.48S 68.18 W) at 6:30PM on Saturday, January 16, 2016 and crossed the Antarctic Circle 66.33 S on Tuesday, January 19 a distance of about 900 miles.
 Ushuaia, Fin del mundo, the End of the World, known as the most southernmost city in the world. Actually we saw a town further south when cruising the Beagle Channel on the Chilean side of the channel, don't know the population but maybe it was not large enough to count.

 View from our room of the dock of the very busy port. It was even more crowded on our return.

Our home for the duration. It was about the same size as the hotel room we had overnight in Ushuaia. There was plenty of storage in the closets across from the bathroom for clothes and rigid suitcases. The bathroom had plenty of shelves and contained storage to keep things from escaping when the ship was swaying.

Argentine side of the Beagle Channel on our journey south to open waters and the dreaded Drake Passage.

 The Ocean Diamond had an Open Bridge Policy, we were all allowed to visit he bridge any time unless the Pilot was guiding the ship to or from Ushuaia. We were surprised at some of the less than modern control panels.

We left the relative calm of the Beagle Channel sometime in the early morning hours of Sunday, January 17. We knew it, felt it and heard it, needless to say didn't get a lot of sleep that night. On the cruise down we had seas with 12 to 15 foot waves and winds of 40 MPH. We both used the patch and neither of us had any symptoms of seasickness.

 Now there was nothing to be seen off the Starboard side (right).

 And nothing off the Port side (left) either. By this time the waves were settling down, but the Drake Passage could not be called the Drake Lake (very calm passage) yet.
 Nothing ahead. It was like this for almost 2 days. On our first 2 days we were kept busy with getting kitted out with our boots and parkas and listening to lectures by marine biologists and having mandatory drills.

 January 18 we saw our first iceberg.

 On Tuesday, January 19 at 7:15 AM we crossed the Antarctic Circle. We had a visit from King Neptune who read a proclamation and was baptizing and tattooing (a rubber stamp of a trident) visitors to his icy realm and then we all toasted with champagne.

The plan was to have entered Marguerite Bay south of Adelaide Island and proceed north through Laubeuf Fjord then through the Gullet and explore on Zodiacs somewhere along the way,
but the bay was iced in.

Instead, our first Zodiac cruise was as close as we could get. It was a windy day and the seas were rough and there was plenty of salty sea spray to go around for everyone.

 Our first seals seen, Crab-eaters, though they don't really eat crabs, they mainly eat krill.
Our first Penguin seen, an Adélie, Pygoscelis adeliae, named by a French Explorer after his wife. No other birds are known to breed further south. Their main food source is also krill, but also eat squid and small fish.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Fair Winds

Beers in the fridge:

Patagonia Weisse, looked like home made lemonade, cloudy. Very refreshing, would help pass away a summer evening in the Estate Garden quite well.

Saw this Toad in the hole on the web
Not sure how to construct it but am putting on my thinking cap.

Fuller's Brewery Tour 2010

While in London for the Eldest's Graduation back in 2010, we had the chance to visit the Fuller's Brewery.

As it turned out we had a personal family tour, the tour guide, John and the 3 of us. The tour guide was an ex-employee.
 Here is the tourguide in his yellow safety vest and our eldest whose back you may recall from other Past Trip posts.

We were first given an overview of the making of beer and then a look at some of the older equipment no longer used. The brewery uses so much water that they draw local water overnight to a huge tank for the next day's beer making, so as not to affect local residents while they are taking their morning showers.

Antique tub for heating the wort.

 Special reserve ales are aged in casks, we bought a few to try.

 There were 2 keg filling lines, one manual and one automatic.
The guys fill the kegs, someone pounds in a plug, they stack up the kegs and a guy takes the stack to the warehouse. The guys get coffee breaks, in the old days the workers got beer breaks.

Robot puts empty kegs onto the line, they get filled, it takes them back off after they are filled. It gets no coffee break. The kegs take the conveyor belt at bottom left, go to the background of the photo and through the machine that cleans, fills and plugs the keg.
You can make out the orange robot in the upper third of the photo, it was removing the filled casks from the line and stacking them up for a human fork lift operator to move to the warehouse.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Brooklyn Brewery

Finally had the chance to visit the Brooklyn Brewery with the whole family.

We waited outside in a long line at first to get into the tasting room.
Then while we waited in the tasting room for our tour to start we sampled
Not all liked them all, but I thought they all were good.
 The Company logo was designed by Milton Glaser (the I heart NY guy) for stock in the company and free beer.
The tour covered 2 areas and provided an overview of the beer making process and some history about the founders
 Creating the wort and Fermentation/bottling
 They make a Cask conditioned ale, Brooklyn Best Bitter which is only served in the tasting room and sometimes at April Bloomfields's restaurants, The Spotted Pig and The Breslin. I didn't notice it on the Tasting Room Beer list, but could have missed it, they serve a large assortment of beers. I would have liked to try the Bitter.
Maybe we will go back because there is a longer tour on weekdays (M-Th) for which you need to make reservations.
Different sized fermenting vessels.

Special Bottling machine, one of just a few in the world.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Out with the Old In with the New

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Old Dog

New Dog
Boisterous (puppy in a young adult body)

Old Christmas Tree Tradition
 As the years have progressed, our love for hunting and gathering the Yearly Yule Gymnosperm were waning as can be seen from the photo above.
 The Stump Tradition was started in 1998 and lasted till 2014, only 2004 was missing when we traveled to Italy and the UK right after Christmas and decided not to put up a tree that year. Sixteen stumps in the collection, they have been willed to the heirs of The M Estate and are expected to be lovingly cherished in situ or placed in a museum.

New Christmas Tree Tradition
2 pre-lit pencil trees. This year placed in the corners of the living room. Quick, easy, use one, use both, easily transportable in their own case, leaves no needles behind, provides many options.

All photos taken with new camera.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

2015 Books

This year's book list. The (r) denotes a repeat read. *s = Good, DNF = Bad.
  1. Ian Flemming's Commandos, Nicolas Rankin; DNF
  2. Slow Train to Switzerland, Diccon Bewes; *****; Christmas gift from the Eldest, a very good read. An Young Woman's account of Thomas Cook's first Conducted Tour of Switzerland. The author retraces her trip as closley as possible. Trains and Travel in Switzerland, how could it be bad. Gave me ideas for more places to visit in Switzerland.
  3. How We Got to Now, Steven Johnson
  4. Murder on the 31st Floor, Per Wahloo; ***; Very good character development. Inspector Jensen is a piece of work. Written in the 1960s and set in an unappealing future.
  5. The Water Room, Christopher Fowler; A Bryant and May of the The Peculiar Crimes Unit detective story. All the characters are interesting as are the crimes they are assigned to inspect. Can become a bit far-fetched.
  6. The Steel Spring, Per Wahloo; Another about Inspector Jensen book, even more unappealing future.
  7. The Blood of an Englishman, M.C. Beaton here.
  8. Bryant and May Off the Rails, Christopher Fowler
  9. Bryant and May and the Memory of Blood,  Christopher Fowler
  10. The Marseilles Caper, Peter Mayle; Sam Levitt is back.  To which I reply, "Don't do it again"
  11. Retribution, Val McDermid; Seventh with Tony Hill and Carol Jordan.
  12. The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien, Georges Simenon
  13. The Yellow Dog,  Georges Simenon
  14. Travels with my Aunt, Graham Greene (r) Read on a riverboat on the Amazon.
  15. Night at the Crossroads,  Georges Simenon
  16. Monsieur Pamplemousse, Michael Bond (r); Series list here.
  17. A Crime in Holland,  Georges Simenon
  18. The Grand Banks Cafe, Georges Simenon; I enjoyed all of the Maigret  books by Simenon so far. Hope more are on the way. The Maigret TV Series from the 1990s was very good and starred Michael Gambon.
  19.  Monsieur Pamplemousse and the Tangled Web, Michael Bond; Published in 2015, not among his best, but he is getting up there.
  20. Among the Islands, Tim Flannery; Author is a zoologist and did expeditions in the South Pacific, a bit interesting. Worth reading once.
  21. Death in the Sahara, Michael Asher; A Survey expedition to determine feasibility of building a railway to Timbuktu. Treachery, ambushes, cannibalism, battles, was an interesting read. Did not make me want to go to the Sahara.
  22. River of Doubt, Candice Millar ****; Teddy Roosevelt's trip down an uncharted Amazon river tributary. Very interesting. Wished I would have known about it before our trip down the Amazon River.
  23. Beyond Cape Horn, Charles Neider; Details of his third trip to Antarctica, Was just OK;  Obituary
  24. Standing in Another Man's Grave, Ian Rankin
  25. Down the Garden Path, Beverley Nicholes *****; First read this in the 1980s, lent the book to a co-worker and never got it back. Makes you want to go out and plant stuff.
  26. No Man's Nightingale, Ruth Rendel; Wexford's last case, I never got that involved, but this was the first I read of his series.
  27. The Way to Dusty Death, Alistair MacLean; Thriller taking place on the F1 racing circuit. Stayed up late a few nights getting to the end.
  28. The Dying Hours, Mark Billingham; Something strange about those suicides. Once Detective, now back in Uniform, Thom Thorne finds these suicides suspicious. Number 11 in the series, number 1 for me, it was cheap and sounded interesting; It was.
  29. Three Graves Full, Jaime Mason; A crazy good read. Stayed up past my bedtime to see how it ended. Strangely reminded me of "Restraint of Beasts", Magnus Mills.
  30. Uncle Tungstun, Oliver Sacks, His childhood memoir. Not done yet, but very interesting so far. He grew up in London during the Blitz.
And now for something completely different

Smokey Manhattan
Some recipes used non-smokey whiskey and added a drop or 2 of liquid smoke, Yuck! 
Saw the recipe somewhere, don't remember where, I dropped the ratio of vermouth to Whisky(Scottish spelling) to 1:1.

I joined the 'Friend of Laphroaig' club and was given a lifetime lease on a numbered plot of their land (one square foot!). Haven't yet attended any of the events they have had in the area, but it may come in handy if we ever visit the distillery on Skye.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Unseasonably Warm Christmas Bacon Beer

This weekend was unseasonable warm. We took a bike ride this AM on the bike path from the Ball fields at Alaska Place, along Richmond Avenue, through the William T. Davis Wildlife Refuse to Signs Road. The NYC Bike Map does not include these new Bike Paths.

Also smoked some bacon which I had started last weekend.
Made 2 different kinds as usual.

Savory Bacon
2 lbs pork belly
1/4 cup dry cure (salt, sugar, pink salt) from Charcuterie by Ruhlman & Polcyn, 1 part Pink Salt, 4 parts sugar(I use turbinado), 8 parts kosher salt
3 Bay leaves
4 Sage leaves
 5 sprigs thyme
5 garlic cloves, smashed, not peeled
2 Tbs cracked peppercorns
1 Tbs coriander seed 
The pork Belly was already trimmed and ready to go. Just rubbed in the ingredients and stuffed it in a ziploc bag.
It came out a bit salty, I may have used more than 1/4 cup dry cure.

Sweet Bacon
5 lbs. Pork Belly
1/2 cup dry cure
1 cup brown sugar
maple sugar and some maple syrup
6 Tbs Smoked Jack Daniels

The bacon cured in the fridge for a week, I then dried them off and let them sit in the fridge for 6 hours before smoking.
Smoked the bacon for 2.5 hours at around 220F, the temperature did rise after the soaked cherry wood chips dried out. I sprayed the wood chips from time to time to keep them damp and smoking.

Beers in the Fridge:
Holiday Beer labels
 Anchor Brewery, like their stuff, the Christmas label is different every year as is the Ale's receipe. Here is a link to all 41 Christmas Labels.

 Samuel Smith's Christmas labels are different every year too, though I think their ale remains the same. I may have one or 2 more, I had started pasting them into my Moleskine weekly planners.

 Long Trail's Harvest, seasonal Brown Ale with maple syrup added. It was OK, don't need to get it again, plenty of other beers to try.