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Litha (Summer Solstice)

Today is the longest day of the year. Running in at sixteen hours and one and a half minutes (at my location, others will vary such as the Arctic Circle having a 24 hour day!), the sun technically rose at six minutes past six.
Since the land is not flat, sunrise and sunset happen a little differently to their technical timings; meaning my "day" is a little under sixteen hours in length. This, of course, also greatly depends upon how you define day. If you consider it to be when the sun is in the sky, then all these timings hold.
If, on the other hand, you consider it to be usable light, then we can easily extend the day to civil twilight meaning that there are about seventeen and a half hours of sufficient light that one could, for example, mow the lawn.
That said, I doubt I'd be popular if I fired up Marte at half five in the morning!

Unfortunately, since 2020 has been such a brilliant year so far, this is what I got to see:

This photo was taken at quarter past six. The sun would definitely be 'up' by then.
And, no, my phone (ready to video it, ho ho) is not a portal into an alternative reality where there was a sunrise. The screen colouring is because the blue light filter is active between 8pm and 8am, and the thing that looks like it might be the sun (to the right of the tree) is the photo capture button.
But, hey, if you want to believe my old S7 is a portal to a better world, then I won't stop you. I'll instead ask how I can get there. Maybe the alternative 2020 doesn't have Trump as a president (hmm, that means it would be Hillary!), has a Britain that is generally pro-EU, and doesn't have a looming economic crisis that will make 2008 look like a mere rehearsal. Not to mention many countries easing up on their lockdowns with the virus that started the whole problem still active and doing the rounds.

Well, I went for a walk (in the light drizzle), had a cup of tea, then went back to bed. I'm not surprised. 2020 managed to easily outdo 2016 as the year many would rather forget, and we're only halfway through.

Good news, bad news. Good news is that the heat of summer is (allegedly) still ahead of us, as the seasons tend to run about a month and a half after the sun's position. That's why summer holidays are in August (and today is the 'start' of summer), and also why the coldest winter weather often happens in February.
And the bad news... as far as daylight goes, it's all downhill from now until the bleakness of winter.
Remember this on December 16th. That's why I celebrated my birthday at the other end of this week. ☺



I was doing my shopping on Thursday when I saw a special offer on a tent/sleeping bag combo. €10 for the tent, and €8 for the sleeping bag.
I chose a purple tent, because the others were yucky dark green or something that would probably have called itself "slate".
The tent

Weighing in at 1.13kg, it is a fairly small cylindrical package with carrying handle.

Tent pieces

Pulling out the tent and unfolding it reveals a number of pieces inside. Two tent poles in short segments with elastic string to hold them together, some thick string for the guy lines, and some basic tent pegs. The poles and pegs in little bags made out of the same material as the base sheet so they don't case any damage.

There are instructions on the opposite side of the pack label. Written in numerous languages, though interestingly not English.
That said, this sort of tent is dead easy to put together. Instructions not necessary.

The basic principle is to extend the two tent poles and carefully slide them criss-cross into the guide tunnels running across the tent dome, like this:

Tent erection part one

When that is done, locate the lugs at each corner of the tent and push the poles into the appropriate holes in the lug. There will usually be two holes. One is for the pole, the other is for a tent peg.
It will take a small amount of effort as the poles are bent under tension. That's what causes the dome to erect.

Tent erection part two

The whole erection was done in less time than it takes to boil water for a mug of tea. Obviously if camping properly, it will take a couple of minutes longer as you'll want to install the tent pegs and guy lines. That said, it ought to be entirely set up from scratch in about five minutes. Useful if you're tired and just want to go to sleep.

Here's a view from inside. Note the aforementioned mug of tea by the door. ☺

Inside the tent

The tent is a single layer of rather flimsy looking... what is it, nylon cloth? I wouldn't trust this tent to provide protection against anything more than a very light drizzle. That said, if you're going camping on a rainy day, you'll want one of those tents that costs seven times as much.

The fabric

Finally, the thing that bugged me when camping as a child (a brief dabble with "The Duke of Edinburgh Award" scheme), was the difficulty of getting everything back into the bags. Luckily this tent is quite simple in this respect too. Fold in half down its length. Then in half again. Lay the poles, string, and pegs along the narrow edge nearest you and then roll up tightly. Then it'll just slide into the bag. Here's everything back in the bags:

All packed up

Of course, with an enormous house and numerous outbuildings and plenty of land, the idea of having a tent might appear to be somewhat odd. I'll grant you that, and suggest that maybe it's some amount of my inner childhood leaking out. I guess I'd better visit eBay and see if I can find myself a Walkman... ☺
[later: holy crap! they didn't cost that much the first time around!]


More dead-easy Rice Cooker Meals

Note: By rice cooker, I mean the closed-lid type with multiple programmes (often sold as 9-in-1, 12-in-1, etc multicookers) and not the simple heated-bowl style of rice cooker.

Meal one, using half a bag of frozen mixed veg (peas, carrots, potatoes, onions, and some spices) and three frozen burgers (broken into pieces).

Meal 1
Cook on Soup setting for 10 minutes to bring the bowl up to boiling. You shouldn't need to add water, as the defrosting will do that, along with some grease from the meat.
Then switch to the Porridge setting for 20 minutes to cook more gently. The burgers, being effectively cooked in steam, come out rather lovely.


Meal two is using the aforementioned frozen mixed veg (the other half of the bag) along with a measure of Japanese Koshihikari rice. This also works as a vegetarian friendly meal.

Meal 2
Cook the rice (if Japanese) with two and a half measures of water, and put the veg on top. If using other rice, adjust the water ratio as appropriate.
This is very simple to cook - just put it on the normal Rice setting and leave it to do it's thing.



The other day, after shopping, I saw two guys selling a quad bike in the car park of the supermarket. The transaction completed, two of them got into the car and drove away, while the third left on the bike.
I can understand selling quad bikes second hand, but in a supermarket car park? Seems... suspicious...
Selling a quad bike in a supermarket car park



Well, since it's such a lovely day, I guess I'll go sit on my bed and burn through a few gigabytes with Netflix...


And more...

It's the beginning of a new day in Judaism, but for me it's the end of a day. I did, at least, get to see a glimmer of sun as it set. Here's a photo from 10pm (European time).

Now to enjoy a salad and yogurt while watching an episode of... hmm... I don't know. Probably Lucifer. He's delightfully smarmy, stuck up, annoying, so rather... British. ☺


I've just looked at my salad. It's use by date is the 28th.

What? I bought it on Thursday. It will obviously have been made a few days before then...and I'm supposed to believe that something containing chopped egg and lettuce will still be good a week from now? Come on! Lettuce famously wilts in between cutting board and salad bowl. The only reason it looks good in a sandwich is because it gets drowned in enough mayo (or other sauce) that you don't notice. And lettuce in a burger? That's because they use Iceberg, a notoriously bombproof lettuce.
So no. This being good in a week? I don't believe it...



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VinceH, 22nd June 2020, 00:32
I have two tents. One is a two person tent, a broadly similar design to yours. As you say, dead easy to put up and put away. It's so long since I last used it, though, I can't even remember what colour it is! 
The other is a smaller, one person tent. When I go walking somewhere there is a possibility of getting lost, that one gets put in my rucksack just in case. It's never been used in anger (thankfully). I've only put it up once, to try it out when I first bought it, and ISTR it was more of a pain than the two person one.
David Pilling, 25th June 2020, 16:09
Tents are disposable - see Glastonbury aftermath - no need to put back in the bag.
Rick, 25th June 2020, 17:35
> Stupid people think Tents are disposable. 
There. FTFY. 

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