Daily Archives: Sunday, 1st Dec 2013

Night Train to Jamalpur – Andrew Martin

Oh good, Jim Stringer’s back! Last seen working for military intelligence in The Baghdad Railway Club, Jim’s now returned to normal police duties at York. Well, he had returned, but as we join the story he’s been seconded to special duties in India – investigating corruption on the railway there.

But it wouldn’t be a Jim Stringer book if things went the way Jim was expecting, and sure enough he finds himself in close proximity to murder. A man Jim had been speaking to earlier is shot dead in a first class compartment, and that’s not all. Other people are dying on the trains, thanks to a cunning plot involving what I’m going to have to refer to as:

Snakes on a Train

Sorry, had to be done. As ever, there’s misdirection, confusion (most of it on Jim’s part) and an array of weird and wonderful characters. Can Jim solve the mystery without being murdered or indeed framed for murder? You’ll have to read it to find out.

Like the rest of the series, it’s a good fun read, filled with period detail.

Big Cup Little Cup: An alternative to Nespresso pods

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by a company called Big Cup Little Cup. They’d seen my review of the Nespresso machine I use at work, and wondered if I’d be interested in trying some free samples of their Nespresso-compatible capsules and maybe writing something about them. Well,  I had a quick look at their website, and it looked like they’re doing something interesting, so I agreed.

A few days later, a parcel arrived at the office. Inside were two packs of their coffee – one a blend designed for espresso, the other for longer coffees. First impressions were good – clearly labelled boxes with more detail about the coffee:

The box

The box

Camera: iPhone 5s
Aperture: ƒ/2.2
Shutter speed: 1/30s
Focal length: 4.12mm
ISO: 100
Taken: 27 November, 2013
Location: 54° 58.2698′ 0″ N 1° 36.6515′ 0″ W

If you’re at all familiar with the Nespresso system, you’ll know that the “official” pods also come on packs of ten, but the box is a long thin one. There’s a reason why the Big Cup Little Cup box is a different shape. Let’s look inside:

Inside the box

Inside the box

Camera: iPhone 5s
Aperture: ƒ/2.2
Shutter speed: 1/30s
Focal length: 4.12mm
ISO: 100
Taken: 27 November, 2013
Location: 54° 58.2698′ 0″ N 1° 36.6515′ 0″ W

Yes, each pod is individually wrapped. Let’s take a closer look:

Not a fortune cookie

Not a fortune cookie

Camera: iPhone 5s
Aperture: ƒ/2.2
Shutter speed: 1/30s
Focal length: 4.12mm
ISO: 80
Taken: 27 November, 2013
Location: 54° 58.2698′ 0″ N 1° 36.6515′ 0″ W

The pods are properly sealed to keep the coffee fresh. The Nestlé pods avoid having to do this by being fully sealed, but the Big Cup Little Cup pods are different (I suspect this is partly to avoid patent issues, and indeed nasty attacks of lawyers in general). What you get is a translucent plastic[1] pod with a film cover. This means you can see the actual ground coffee in the pod, which I rather like. It also means you can smell the real ground coffee, which I like even more.

Real coffee

Real coffee

Camera: iPhone 5s
Aperture: ƒ/2.2
Shutter speed: 1/30s
Focal length: 4.12mm
ISO: 125
Taken: 27 November, 2013
Location: 54° 58.2698′ 0″ N 1° 36.6515′ 0″ W

Pods fit into the machine in the usual way. As they mentioned on the website, it does take a little more force to bring the lever down on my machine, which is due to the different design of the pod. It’s not a huge difference, but it’s worth knowing in advance to prevent alarm and despondency and other such things.

And the result? Well, I have to say I’m impressed. I’ve used about half of the pods, and I’ve enjoyed the results. While not as good as I get from fresh coffee beans and a moderately good bean to cup machine at home, I do think it’s better than you’d normally expect from a pod system. The coffee blends that I’ve sampled so far get it right – espresso that’s nicely strong without excessive bitterness. I’ve just ordered a selection of pods, and I’ll more than likely be making them my regular supplier.

There’s a decent range of blends on offer, with various package deals available. At the moment, there’s a free delivery offer, and they’re sufficiently confident of their quality to offer a money back satisfaction guarantee, so if you’ve got a Nespresso machine, it’s well worth giving them a try.

Oh, and did I mention that their pods are actually cheaper than the ones you’re used to buying? Can’t say fairer than that.

And, one more thing. If you’d like to give them a try, and you place your order before 27 December, you can have a 15% discount if you use this code:

LES2711

Order here: Big Cup Little Cup

[1] This is recyclable wherever you can normally recycle plastics

Weight and Stuff Report – 1 December 2013

Back up today. I do seem to be oscillating a lot..

What I was hoping to see on yesterday’s coastal walk were some wild waves washing off Roker Pier, but this is about as exciting as it got:

Roker Pier

Roker Pier

Camera: X-E2
Aperture: ƒ/10
Shutter speed: 1/60s
Focal length: 115.9mm
ISO: 1000
Taken: 30 November, 2013

What I didn’t notice in the viewfinder, but spotted when I opened the image in Lightroom, was that someone else seemed to be hoping for some wave action. Here’s a closer view:

Quite mad...

Quite mad…

Camera: X-E2
Aperture: ƒ/10
Shutter speed: 1/60s
Focal length: 115.9mm
ISO: 1000
Taken: 30 November, 2013