September 29th, 2009

food cooking tomato

Wine a little, you'll feel better

Saturday was a lovely sunny day - although sitting outside at Valentina's for breakfast with Californian friends Jon and Tamzen we worried they might feel the nip in the air. The farmhouse breakfast and the excellent coffee put paid to that and we milled about inside the deli briefly tasting the wine made from preserved cherries and crowing at the sight of the solid chocolate spoons. Then they had to admire the cats and eventually we crammed ourselves into the car and headed into Suffolk-n-Sussex in search of wine. Denbies is on the scale of an American winery, with a visitor centre and a wine train (drawn by landrover) around the vineyard and a little train through the cellar and various cellar tasting deals, all of which were full until late in the day, so we tasted and moved on. English vineyards tend to plant German vine varieties that like the chalky soil, but the bacchus and ortega grapes in one of the blends had a lot more character and flavour than the mineral Seyval.

Next we headed off to Godstone Winery. By dint of taking the road into Godstone instead of north, Simon managed to put us behind a couple of shiny Ferraris, one rounded and vintage, one modern and angular and both shiny red. We followed them to the roundabout where we were planning to turn and watched them turn and drive back past us, at which point Simon said 'that's Jeremy Clarkson and that's James May'. I spotted someone in the passenger seat of May's Ferrari and decided it must be the Hamster. At the junction they zoomed off onto the M25 again and we turned into the quiet country lane, past the fishing pond and stopped at the winery. Really it's more of a tea room (the scones looked nice) and we tasted wine and bought cider and pear juice...

We finished up - via delightful twisty roads and green tunnels of beech hangars - at Lurgashall, which does 'country wines' (made with everything but grape) and has shiny new labels; the EU decided that what  they make is more liquer than wine and so has to be sold in 70cl rather than 75cl bottles. The whisky mead is tangy, the spiced mead is subtly spiced, the blackberry wine is just yummy - as is the rose petal - the gooseberry is tart and the silver birch is as nice as ever, if a little sweeter than last year. And the ginger ice cream is perfect for eating in the sun as a black cat demands his allotment of pettings.

Bombay Bicycle Club for dinner; you can now order online and accumulate Pennyfarthing points! They're not our regular because they don;t do a spinach bhajia but they are very yummy.
snark maiden

Does your camera make you a terrorist?

The government says no. Specifically, in answer to the petition asking for photography restrictions to be lifted, the government says:

On 16 February 2009, the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 (Commencement No.2) Order 2009 brought in to force section 58A of the Terrorism Act 2000 (inserted by section 76 of the CTA 2008), offences relating to information about members of the armed forces etc.

Section 58A makes it an offence to publish, communicate, elicit or attempt to elicit information about any of such persons which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.  Contrary to some media and public misconception, section 58A does not make it illegal to photograph a police officer, military personnel or member of the intelligence services.

On the 18 August 2009, the Home Office published the following information via its website to clarify photography in relation to section 58A.

Photography and Section 58A of the Terrorism Act 2000

The offence concerns information about persons who are or have been at the front line of counter-terrorism operations, namely the police, the armed forces and members of the security and intelligence agencies.

An officer making an arrest under section 58A must reasonably suspect that the information is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.  An example might be gathering information about the person’s house, car, routes to work and other movements.

Reasonable excuse under section 58A

It is a statutory defence for a person to prove that they had a reasonable excuse for eliciting, publishing or communicating the relevant information. Legitimate journalistic activity (such as covering a demonstration for a newspaper) is likely to constitute such an excuse. Similarly, an innocent tourist or other sight-seer taking a photograph of a police officer is likely to have a reasonable excuse."

I'm not sure I feel that's quite the 'innocent until proven guilty' tradition of UK law...


The future of tablets and the last of Longhorn

Courier isn't real, but Microsoft's tablet plans are: the Courier 'prototype' dual-screen tablet that's been making waves since Gizmodo released the video of it isn't an actual product.What you see in the video is an animation, rather than a physical prototype. But if it was real, here's how they would build it...

Longhorn isn't real either; so much of the original vision got lsot by the wayside. In my other big piece on TechRadar this week, I look at why the death of DreamScenes is the last gasp of the Longhorn vision...