Halogen technology has been around for some time, but now it looks set to take the cooking world by storm.
That’s because halogen ovens are effective, efficient and most importantly, cook super tasty meals fast. All good reasons why my dad swears by, rather than at his.
Halogen oven Source: Clifford James
Dad has never been much of a one for cooking, so when Mum had a hip replacement last year, we assumed we’d be responsible for feeding the invalid.
But as it turned out, Dad had done his homework. Instead of us making the thirty minute journey to their home, carrying pot roasts to keep my parents alive, my husband and I found ourselves invited to dinner.
“This,” said dad, patting the lid of a space age device on the kitchen counter, “will now cook our dinner in under forty minutes.”
Well fine, I thought – if it’s a vegetable stew – we might just escape unscathed. I was far more sceptical when my septuagenarian father opened the fridge and took out a raw chicken.
Mum hobbled forward to take a look but was brusquely waved away as Dad filled the bowl around the chicken, with potatoes and carrots.
“Right. Stand back everyone.”
Anyone would think he was a test pilot about to take to the skies, but as he turned the ‘machine’ on, we all craned our necks to take a look.
What followed was a revelation. As Dad told us later – several times – though a halogen oven has a similar power rating to a normal oven or microwave, it has distinct advantages over both. It’s much faster than a conventional oven.
The halogen bulb in the lid produces instant heat and a fan circulates it as high speed, ensuring an even temperature throughout.
The chicken really was cooked in less than forty minutes and it, along with the roast potatoes, was crispy to boot. Not at all like the insipid results you tend to get from microwave cookery.
And the results? I admit, my first taste was tentative, but the food really was delicious – moist and tender chicken and perfectly cooked vegetables. But that wasn’t the only surprise Dad had in store.
No sooner had we put down our knives and forks than he was off to ‘bung a pudding in the oven’. Five minutes later and our pre-prepared sticky toffee pudding was ready.
After dinner, the oven bowl went in the dishwasher and that was that.
Mum is well and truly back on her feet now and Dad has once again been banished from the kitchen, but the halogen oven story didn’t end there. Mum is a complete convert – the halogen oven defrosts, bakes, roasts, steams and even fries – and she finds it so much easier to use than the conventional oven.
The halogen oven’s clear bowl means she can see exactly how the food is coming along and she doesn’t have to bend down to open the oven door.
A halogen oven is a fraction of the cost of a conventional oven and needless to say – it’s a case of like father like daughter because I now have one too!
James Bond has never been more stylish than he is today. His suit selections in Skyfall really were top notch.
It’s a pity the British public doesn’t always live up to the high standard set by our favourite fictional spy. Here to help you avoid a fashion faux pas, is our guide to mens trousers James Bond would (mostly) never wear.
Leather is for shoes, belts and gloves for assassins with a licence to kill. Unless your name is Slash, we suggest you refrain from draping your legs with dead cow. As far as James Bond goes, the creak of tanned hide would rule out a stealthy approach.
As far as you’re concerned, leather trousers make you look like an ageing metal enthusiast, with all of the vices but none of the talent of an actual rocker. If you’re a cowboy – please ignore this tirade.
The current trend for bottom revealing hipsters originates in America. Death row inmates have their belts removed so they can’t top themselves, so they have little choice but to wear their trousers slung low.
The same can not be said for the cool kids who seek to imitate such criminal fashion. James Bond in hipsters? Don’t be daft.
The clue to their purpose lies in the name. Tracksuit. For wearing at the track (running, not dog). The current trend for grown men wandering the streets looking like they just got out of bed is alarming to say the least.
James Bond would be appalled. Is he risking life and limb in the service of his country so that you can limp about the place looking sloppy? If you wear a tracksuit, either go for a run, or go and get changed.
Do you look good in Lycra? Really? Source: Ride in
James Bond takes his fitness seriously. So should you. He wouldn’t think twice about donning a bit of lycra if appropriate. In this case, the tables are turned.
We’re not saying don’t wear lycra – but before you pull on the stretchy stuff, ask yourself the following question. Do I have the sort of physique that turns heads…or the sort that turns stomachs?
“The only mens slipper wearers allowed to get away with keeping their feet warm are the elderly and infirm, children and wimps.”
For the rest of us spartan bastians of masculinity, the wearing of cosy slippers is a step in the wrong direction. Right?
Wrong. Her Majesty’s forces take foot care extremely seriously and so should you. So concerned about the plight of military feet was one Captain Cecil Webb-Johnson, that in 1916 he published the Soldier’s Manual of Footwear and Footcare – an exhaustive guide to looking after your feet. Decent feet make for a capable man – why else would we have Churchill slippers?
If anyone ever spouts such nonsense at your sensible, vest clad self, simply look them in the eye and quote this: ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather – only unsuitable clothing.’
These wise words are attributed to Alfred Wainwright, 1907 – 1991. He spent much of his life wandering and documenting the wonders of the English Lake District. His books on the subject are the standard reference resource for visitors to the Lakes.
Wainwright is also responsible for coming up with the famous coast to coast walking route beginning at St Bees in Cumbria and ending at Robin Hood’s Bay. It’s hard to imagine a man such as this venturing anywhere without his vest on.
The most famous American male – crying Source: Media Salon
“British men don’t cry.”
Hard to argue with this. Although famous men do occasionally weep in public – most of them seem to be American. For a Brit to break down takes something a little bit special – and quite rightly too. Our reputation for having a stiff upper lip is one to cherish – but not to the point of stupidity.
Last year’s London Olympics were so full of weeping at the rostrum, that the event was dubbed the crying games. Cyclist Chris Hoy – was one of the highest profile Brits ever to have blubbed in public. If he can do it – so can you, so go ahead – weep if you must. Just don’t make a habit of it.
Get real. Of course they do – but a word of advice. Be careful not to do too much. A recent study by the American Sociological Review found that men who do more tasks traditionally seen as female – like laundry, cooking and cleaning – get less sex than men who do more masculine tasks about the house.
By all means clean up after yourself and help out – just make sure you’re seen to put up the shelves, fix the car and sweep up the leaves. Do too much of the housework and – well – it’s your bed, and you’ll have to lie in it.
Chopping up wood might seem like a mundane task – boring but necessary if you want to keep your home warm. But that’s where you’d be wrong.
In the world of competitive sports – you’d be amazed what you can do with wood. We thought we’d ‘chip’ in with a selection of the world’s best contests for an elite log splitter.
World Logging Championships
Where all the best log splitters hang out Photo: UK Loggers
A ‘fine fella’ can prove his or her worth in all aspects of log splitting at the world logging championships. Last year they were held in Belarus.
Those who made the long journey to the former Eastern block country were treated to a test worthy of any woodsman. Precision chainsawing, limbing, chain replacement and tree felling are just some of the challenges set.
World Lumberjack Championships
The biggest log splitting show on earth? Photo: Paul Walsh
As fine a spectacle as the World logging champs must surely be, nothing compares to the high drama of the American version. The World lumberjacking contest is held annually in Hayward, Wisconsin.
The showdown sees elite woodsmen clash head to head in a series of stunning high octane events. Think logrolling, block chopping and the blue riband event – the 90ft log climb – the ultimate test of strength, agility and speed.
College log splitting
And there’s no need for budding young woodsmen and women to miss out. In America and Canada, lumberjacking is a college sport with roots in the backcountry.
Logging was a job that paid piece rate, so the ability to prove your worth with flair was much to be admired. Today, students from colleges across the continent and internationally compete for honours in axe throwing, the pulp toss (throwing pieces of wood) and the hard hit chop (number of axe strikes needed to hack through a log).
For the creative wood splitter why not take in the annual chainsaw carving contest? Held annually at the Cheshire County Showground, think kitch on a grand scale.
Whether you aspire to a garden feature of a mermaid, monster or mythical creature – you’re sure to find something you like. Many of the competition pieces are available to purchase – the perfect gift for the person who has everything.
Christmas tree throwing
And finally – though no wood splitting, whittling or carving is involved, we couldn’t resist chucking in this unusual annual event.
Held in the German town of Weidenthal, the Christmas tree throwing contest is a great way to get rid of unwanted spruces. As you’ll note from the youtube clip below – ‘fir flinging’ is not a distance sport…
When it comes to slippers, clearly some are better than others.
The materials used, the fit, the type of sole; all factors that contribute to the quality and price of the finished item.
But some slippers stand out from the crowd. Here is our pick of the best slippers ever:
Best preserved slippers in the world Photo: Armenia Now
They’ve been called shoes but to all intents they’re slippers – and at 5,500 years old, the oldest ever found to boot. These Armenian slippers have been described as incredibly modern in their construction and styling. Each one is constructed from a single piece of leather.
It’s thought the owner would have first worn them wet so the skins would could mould themselves to their feet. They’re a modern women’s size seven – but not enough is known about early Armenian feet to say whether they were ladies or mens slippers.
When Margot Fonteyn first danced with Rudolph Nureyev, in 1962, she was already 42 years old and contemplating retirement. But such was the chemistry between the dancers that she delayed her exit from performance by another 17 years. It was one of the most remarkable partnerships ever to exist in the ballet world.
Fonteyn was 60 years old when she took to the stage for the last time, performing ‘Le Spectre de la Rose’ with Nureyev. When a pair of Margot’s ballet slippers went to auction last year, they were expected to raise £12,000 – proof positive of the enduring appeal of this most gifted of ballerinas.
The most famous slippers of the silver screen must surely be those worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 film, the Wizard of Oz. Made from red satin and covered in glittering red sequins, the centre bows were edged in red glass beads and crystals. The original screenplay featured silver slippers, but this was changed to red to make more of an on-screen splash.
Incidentally, in real life, the shoes are actually a wine coloured dark red – made that way by costume designer, Adrian Greenberg so that they’d appear bright scarlet in technicolor. British film buffs were recently treated to an opportunity to view the slippers as part of an exhibition at the V&A museum in London. The shoes, on loan from the Smithsonian in New York are one of only four pairs thought to have survived.
Best slippers for keeping your toes warm Photo: Wikipedia
The warmest slippers in the world are the mukluks worn by traditional Inuit communities of the far North. Clothes made from caribou skins are considered essential for winter sleigh rides.
We live in a society that often presumes that modern synthetic materials are best. However, under laboratory testing, caribou fur performed better than both expedition and military clothing for both warmth and comfort.
So what’s so special about caribou hair? It’s the original and best hollow fiber. If you’re planning to head North of the arctic circle, best get yourself some mukluks.
Amazingly, the world’s most expensive slippers are the same ruby slippers that Judy Garland wore in the Wizard of Oz. Well – nearly. To mark the 50th anniversary of the release of MGM’s iconic movie, the slippers were remade by New York jewellers, Harry Winston’s.
But instead of sequins and glass beads, the slippers were covered with real rubies and edged with diamonds. They took two months to make and are worth a whopping $3 million.
For all their magnificence though, we suspect wearing these slippers would be a dead loss for watching TV. The glare would be blinding!
Britain’s greatest wartime leader didn’t usually get out of bed until most of us have finished our morning coffee. But Winston Churchill wasn’t napping. He’d wake at 7:30 am, consume a hearty breakfast, open his mail, read all the national papers and dictate letters. Then after a wallow in the bath, he’d dress, make himself a whisky soda and go to his study.
Churchill’s predilection for bed, bath and booze wouldn’t go down well in today’s high pressure political rat race, but considering his achievements, it obviously helped him think. As well as being an inspirational leader, Churchill was the 1953 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. The prize was awarded; “for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values”.
Whatever happened to the nine to five grind? UK workers are increasingly swapping brogues for slippers, and a lunchtime stroll into town for an afternoon nap. It’s estimated that five and a half million British households now contain at least one home worker.
Technologies that enable us to work from any location have freed us to lounge in ladies pajamas or mens slippers as we work. But in truth, home working is nothing new – and neither is the afternoon nap that goes with it.
Henry the VIII held court from his bedchamber. The members of his privy council were a household within a household. Those in closest literal proximity to the monarch had his ear and wielded great political power.
This hadn’t always been the case – servants whose tasks were to see to the King’s intimate arrangements used to be just that – servants. But Henry politicised the role by staffing his bedchamber with his own friends and allies. The Privy Council still exists in the UK – but only meets in full when a monarch dies or marries.
Treasure Island is arguably the greatest pirate story ever written – and its author Robert Louis Stevenson penned it in bed. Like a great many people of his time, he suffered from tuberculosis and only survived into his early forties.
The disease kept him in bed for long periods of time, but physical confinement cannot cage the mind. Stephenson said that the inspiration for one of his other great works; Jekyll and Hyde, came to him in a dream.
No mention of habitual men’s slipper wearers would be complete without mention of Hugh Hefner. The silk pyjama clad, regally slippered octogenarian rarely puts the comfort of his nightclothes aside.
Whether or not you approve of his lifestyle, Hefner is certainly a character and a gifted entrepreneur. At it’s peak in the 1970s, Playboy magazine was selling over 7 million copies per issue. Hefner ran his empire from his super sized, circular, rotating bed.
Some of the greatest minds of recent times had a penchant for a comfy pair of slippers and a daytime nap.
Our greatest wartime leader, Winston Churchill was a great believer in staying in bed to read the papers, and dictate letters. Once he’d got up though, it wasn’t long until he was back in bed. From two in the afternoon, Churchill enjoyed a long nap, claiming that it was essential to health and wellbeing.
It’s hard to imagine a modern prime minister getting away with a similar daily routine. But as well as being a top politician, Churchill was a prodigious writer and winner of the 1953 Nobel Prize for fiction. For a slipper wearer he was no slouch.
LBJ, JFK and Reagan all enjoyed a daytime snooze Source: LBJ Library
Several US presidents have swapped their shirt and tie for PJs and slippers – at least for part of their day. JFK, slept for two hours every afternoon, Lyndon Johnson was a napper and so too was Ronald Reagan.
Perhaps the last of the great slipper wearing nappers, much fun was made of Reagan’s habit of daytime snoozing. But the veteran film star had an excellent sense of humour. On leaving office, he’s said to have remarked that his cabinet chair should be inscribed with the words, ‘President Reagan slept here.’
It’s no wonder that Salvador Dali’s greatest works were dreamscapes. He practised a technique known as ‘hypnogogic napping’, or ‘slumber with a key’. So how does it work? Simply sit on a chair holding in one hand, between thumb and forefinger, a key. Place on the floor directly below your hand, an upside down metal plate. Now close your eyes and allow yourself to drift.
In the instant that you nod off, you’ll drop the key. The loud clang as it hits the plate will wake you. Dali used the hallucinatory visions experienced during this moment of pre-sleep, to inspire his strange, other worldly compositions. A slipper wearer not to be caught napping.
For the real DIY fanatic, the market now offers build-your-own-log-cabin kits: perfect for creating a nice new shed for storing your log splitter and other power tools, which also serves as a secret man den to escape to when a new project takes your fancy.
Other construction ideas could include an outdoor office, summer cabin or hideaway place for when the in-laws come to stay. Available in a range of sizes and shapes to meet all your log cabin needs.
Gather ‘round ye Yule log and grab a fork, folks: you won’t need a log splitter to break up this log!
Also known as a Buche de Noel, this delicious Christmassy treat is fab for sharing with all your loved ones, while the blaze of your log burner in the background gives a little fiery ambience.
Log flumes for fun and falling in love Source: Wikipedia
Shooting down a log flume may not strike most people as being a particularly romantic event. But for Lawrence Key, it was the most nerve-racking ride of his life, as he took the opportunity to propose to his girlfriend of five years.
She was completely unaware until she received her souvenir photograph at the end of the ride, proving that falling in love really can be a rollercoaster! [Source: Mercury]
It may be that your inner wild animal is screaming to be released, but some men may see things differently. Floppy-eared bunny slippers will have some men running faster than … well, bunnies being chased by cougars. Just keep an eye on that inner child.
Cosy, feminine and pleasing on the eye, the Helen slipper is a popular choice for ladies and a hard one for men to determine any personality traits. It’s a steady, balanced choice that won’t disappoint with any unexpected breakdowns.
Mules glide and loaf around the house and are recognised as the cool cat of the slipper world. If you’re relaxed and easy going and prefer to effortlessly slip in and out of situations, then mules will send out the right messages to special guests.
It doesn’t take a PHD in slipper mechanics to determine that wearers of these beauties love those little comforts like feeling snug! Fleece lined from little toe to ankle, bootees are for ladies that give off a welcoming warmth and don’t mind getting
Delicately feminine, petite and elegant, ballerina style slippers are perfect for all those English roses out there. They have even been known to reduce big, burly men to soft, adoring puppies (not literally of course).
Equally at ease whether indoors or outdoors, moccasins are flexible enough to deal with most of life’s trials and tribulations. Secure and confident with their own bohemian style, their good looks will impress both men and women.
From a health and safety perspective, glass slippers are a risky choice for relaxation. It’s also time to step out of the fairytale as a pumpkin carriage isn’t going to rescue you from your delusional state even if it is the pantomime season.
Concerned about the number of injuries to patients caused by falls, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust decided to issue slippers to emergency patients. In the three months before the slipper give away, the Trust recorded 64 falls. In the following quarter, that figure fell to 46 – a tumble of some 28 percent.
Considering the cost of treatment for injuries caused by falls, the £6 cost of each pair of slippers seems a small price to pay (Source: BBC News).
As with any safety equipment, badly maintained, worn out or ill fitting protective footwear is a liability. While a pair of old slippers may be favourite for your feet, research shows that people wearing sloppy slippers are much more likely to fall over.
In fact for the elderly, a well maintained pair of house shoes could cut the risk of a tumble by up to 60 percent (Source: Guardian).
Slippers aren’t the only footwear saviours. Farmer, Simon Mabin had a lucky escape when an overhead pylon collapsed and the live wires landed on his tractor. A 50,000 volt electric shock is more than enough to turn a man to toast. Sparks flew and the tyres exploded, but Mabin survived with just minor injuries.
A spokesman from the Westcountry Ambulance service explained that it was the thick rubber soles on Mr Mabin’s wellington boots that saved his life (Source: Daily Mail).
Three year old Harley Sutton-Dormer had the shock of his life when he grabbed hold of a faulty hairdryer in the swimming pool changing rooms. A bolt of electricity shot down his arm and out of the side of his body, causing a burn the size of a five pence piece.
Paramedics explained that the foam resin crocs the boy was wearing insulated him from the floor and probably saved his life (Source: Telegraph).
Boots help save lives
An Italian couple holidaying on the Devon coast almost met a soggy end when they were cut off by the tide. It wasn’t their shoes that saved them – it was Boots. Oberdan and Patrizia Cosimi, from Pisa didn’t know the number to dial to summon the emergency services. In desperation they rummaged around and found an old receipt from Boots the Chemist, and called the number on the back.
At first, dispenser Pat Askwith wasn’t sure whether she might be dealing with a hoax. But it was soon clear that the foreign callers really were in trouble. Pat dialled 999 and the pair, along with their dog were rescued by Sea King helicopter (Source: Guardian).