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Hi! I'm Nick Murdoch. Most people come here for the tiffin recipe. I can't blame them.

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  • November 2016

    Wed, 19 Apr 2017 19:22:28 GMT


    Mum visited us for a few days, we completed the last ClueQuest escape room, attended the Tower of London Ceremony of the Keys, and spent a week in the picturesque Azores, which is what I'll focus on here.

    Flores

    Emily and I visited Flores for four days in the middle of our week-long holiday. To get to Flores you have to fly from one of the other islands in a little plane and according to the internet the flights could often be delayed for days due to local weather conditions.

    Fortunately we were fine both ways, though I can't say we would have minded if we'd had to stay over another night. Flores really is a beautiful island, and we weren't even visiting while the hydrangeas that lined every road were in bloom.

    The island itself is barely more than 10km west to east, and we stayed in a gorgeous little cabin owned by a Scottish expat couple in the village of Faj√£ Grande, the westernmost settlement. The village had a lovely little corner shop that took our order for fresh bread each day.



    We saw possibly two other tourists for the whole time we were on the island, possibly except for the flights there and back, though the majority of the passengers seemed to be locals.

    At the top of the volcanic island are two lakes, Lagoa Rasa & Lagoa Funda. One appears black and the other appears green.





    The other attractions on the island are mostly along walking trails.










    Abseilling down waterfalls

    The highlight of Flores was the canyoning trip we booked. We booked with Westcanyon which is run by an experienced canyoneer who had just got back from Switzerland doing roughly the same thing (but colder!) with friends for fun.

    We were the only two people on the tour, which always makes it more enjoyable (he expected us to be his last customers for the year) and he had a waterproof camera which we received the photos and videos from over email a few days later. So here are a few of them!







    And here is the last EVER photo of my glasses, and of the waterfall that ate them.



    Fortunately it was the last waterfall and I had a backup pair in my bag back down the road!


    Sao Miguel

    Here's some of the things we did on the main island of Sao Miguel:

    Botanic garden:



    Europe's only tea plantation:



    Naturally heated waterfall:



    Kayaking:



    Naturally heated orange swimming pool (it stains!):




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  • October 2016

    Sat, 31 Dec 2016 21:17:13 GMT


    In October I walked the Easternmost sections of the South Downs, carved a pumpkin, and started a Youtube channel.

    South Downs

    I've now walked the South Downs from Amberley to Eastbourne, including the new loop at the easternmost end. By my estimation that's about two thirds of it.

    Here's a photo from the new section near Seven Sisters:




    Evolution Simulator

    I wrote an evolution simulator in Python and decided to put it up on a new channel on Youtube, since that sort of thing seems to be a popular niche there. I've made four at the time of writing (December 2016) and have been rather enjoying doing coding that gives cool visual results.

    Here's my first video:





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  • September 2016

    Fri, 16 Dec 2016 21:51:47 GMT


    In September I made my own sourdough starter, attended PyCon UK, visited a fire garden, walked various places, and made bourbon biscuits.

    Soughdough

    On the first weekend of the month, I took an empty jar, added some flour and water, and walked down to Foots Cray meadow, where I waved the open jar about in the open air for a bit.

    A few days later, the mixture had bloomed!



    Making sourdough starter is as simple as that; you don't strictly need to go anywhere special for the wild yeasts as they're literally everywhere, but I had the notion that it was more meaningful to have a mix started from somewhere of nostalgic value to me. When I was young I'd cycle to Foot Cray Meadows every weekend to relax.

    The starter itself makes a pretty good loaf:



    Though my absolute favourite use for it is in savoury pancakes (more on that later).


    London Loop walk

    I realised that I'd completed the first two sections of the London Loop orbital walking route just by virtue of having done various walks around my current and past local areas, so I decided to do some more of it. Writing this in December, I've lost track of which parts I did when, but I'm currently half way through section 5, at Whyteleafe. It's been a good set of walks so far, much better than the South East London Green Chain. One particular highlight was walking on some deserted country road and finding a goldmine of perfectly ripe blackberries.


    Bake-off 2016

    Here are some things I made for Bake-off this year, including October's stuff.

    Bourbon biscuits:



    Chia seed scones:



    Sourdough pancakes, stuffed with mushrooms:



    Thai curry pies, which we will never speak of again.

    Poor Knights Pudding, an authentic Tudor dessert/breakfast recipe:



    Sweet artichoke Pie, another tudor recipe (sans marrow).




    Fire Garden

    I noticed that Carabosse had an installation outside the Tate for the anniversary of the Great Fire of London, so I went along to that. I'd previously seen them in 2014 at the (then still-intact) Battersea Power Station, and they were awesome there.

    A lot of the set peices were the same, but they looked very pretty from the far side of the Millennium Bridge:



    St Paul's Cathedral was also lit up with a nice effect:




    PyCon

    I attended PyCon on Saturday and Sunday for the first time and it was rather great!

    The talks were generally of excellent quality, and everyone was super friendly. Two particularly nice things of note for me were the presence of an IRC Slack server, which made introducing oneself and organising collective mealtimes a lot easier for introverts; (introverts, at a programming convention? Surely not!) and a quiet room for people to go if the crowds were getting too much. The organisers really had thought everything through.

    Here are some of the talks I went to:

    Folklore and fantasy; Introducing MetaClasses; Deep Learning with TensorFlow; Fast Python? Don't Bother!; the National Cypher Challenge; Children's Day Show and Tell; An Arabish Lesson; automatic English text correction; An adventure in exploitation; PiNet; Why /dev/random is a horrible idea and other problems you didn't know you had yet; Addition: well, that escalated quickly!

    It was also my first time visiting Wales, so I made sure I had some Welsh Cakes.



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