search for topic 'Personal' requested

Coffee time

2022-08-11 11:03:42 - by AlisonW Personal Coffee

I drink coffee every morning, usually a couple of double espressos made using my Rocket machine. But the price of coffee beans has been creeping up and I've been trying to decide whether buying 'green' (unroasted) beans in bulk and roasting them myself might make financial sense. So whilst having a nice soak in a bubble bath this afternoon I tried running the maths in my head.

Two+ doubles per day = 750 cups per year.
Each cup uses about 20g of beans, so I'm using roughly 15kg of roasted beans per year.

I currently pay £5.40 per kilo of my usual† coffee, so £231 per year (or 31p per cup). Buying green would be about £11 per kilo for a 10kg bag. Losing maybe 5% on roasting would make that £11.55 per kilo, a saving of £3.85 per kilo, ignoring the cost of roasting.

I've roasted my own in the past using a converted popcorn maker but it only does 100g at a time. I'd need a larger roaster really. The Sandbox R1‡ would be great, but it's around £700 including the cooler. That's equivalent to 182 kilos roasted, or a smidgen over twelve years of morning espressos.

Sadly, this isn't going to be viable, is it :-(

† https://www.waitrose.com/ecom/products/waitrose-colombian-coffee-beans/074908-37996-37997
‡ https://www.bellabarista.co.uk/sandbox-smart-roaster-black.html

Mahler 1

2020-01-23 21:39:20 - by alisonw Personal Memories

That could have been one of the great performances of Mahler's First Symphony on BBC Radio 3 just now, as played by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. But it wasn't, not due to the occasional duff notes from the musicians (which were quite lovable actually) but because of the excessive level of audience participation. The coughs and bangs just kept on coming, and we'll not mention the sprinkling of applause after the first movement...

I can still remember the first time I heard the piece: I was attending the Albert Hall Proms, doing the full season in fact, and believing that I didn't like Mahler I'd moved during the interval to the back of the Arena to lie down, close my eyes, and wait for the end of the evening's concert. Instead I discovered an extraordinary visual experience, with jousting, galloping horsemen, villagers dancing around maypoles, and an inn by a crossroads with a cairn of skulls. I was so taken by the music that the following day I bought on LPs Mahler's first through fifth symphonies and the next day the sixth through tenth. Well I say 'tenth' but of course that is Das Lied von der Erde, but there is the incomplete tenth so I suppose I bought one through eleven.

Seems the RLP are undertaking a cycle this year so hopefully Radio Three will carry them all. But less of the audience please!

Proud moments

2019-12-28 02:11:18 - by alisonw Personal Memories

A friend on FB asked Friday morning what things are people proud of doing. It's not how I tend to think about things, but I then realised there was something.

Back in the early 90s I was appointed Chief Electrician at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff. That's the person in charge of the lighting and sound department, btw.

So the venue said it was signed up to the union agreement but they'd been illegally stopping the staff from joining, which I only found out when one of the stage crew commented about their excessive hours.

Within an hour of my handing out membership forms I was called to the venue director's office and asked to resign (which I wanted to do anyway as I found I didn't like Cardiff much). I negotiated a 'leave immediately' fee equal to two months' salary (which was how long I'd been there), said my goodbyes, and departed. By the time I'd got back to my nearby digs to collect my stuff my partner had come down from London and we went off to Edinburgh for the weekend.

The following week I went to the BECTU (union) head office, chatted to Gerry with all the details, and he sorted it all out. The Sherman became a properly unionised house and I went back to London — a great result all around!


2019-12-25 22:49:38 - by alisonw Personal Memories

Back in the mists of time I was Chief Electrician (in charge of lighting and sound) at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff. One day we had loads of kids in and were giving classes as part of a Duke of Edinburgh award scheme.

I'd just been demonstrating how a gobo – a thin sheet of metal which when placed in front of a spotlight projects a design onto the set via cutouts in the metal – when I went to change the design and unthinkingly took hold of it with my left hand.

Unsurprisingly it was excessively hot and burnt two fingers and my thumb, in fact the design (the New York skyline) got embossed onto them. I yelped and stuck my hand under the cold tap, except... just at that moment Prince Edward walked in, representing the Duke. Thankfully I could shake hands with my right hand and three minutes later plunge my left hand back in cold water again.

The embossing was still visible on two fingertips over a month later.

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