Saturday, 29 September 2012

My favourite Wiki - Supranational European Bodies

This lovely Euler diagram shows that there are alternative bodies we could be members of in a way which is very easy to see.  It's only like a gym membership package or choosing which insurance options to take on a policy. Just move your flag to where you'd rather be. 

Where we ought to move to is a matter for debate, and there could be some additional rules which link certain memberships so that if you want to be in one, you have to be in another, which might constrain which group(s) we go in to.

However, Switzerland seems to do pretty well by being in The Council of Europe, EFTA and the Schengen area.  Admittedly they still have the rulings of the EFTA court to deal with but then, if you are forming mutual trade agreements you must expect there to be a way of arbitrating when club members disagree.

The main thing to grasp is that when David Cameron makes oozy noises about a referendum and Tory ignoramuses pretend you can pick and choose which part of EU law to comply with, either they haven't done their homework or they are telling a flat lie in the hope of electoral success. It's not an in-or-out issue to frighten the children with.

Yes, we can leave the European Union and survive. No, we won't necessarily lose all our memberships although we might have to ask EFTA nicely if they would admit us.  No, we don't really need permission to go. Lawyers will tell you they can't undo this, that or the other.  Tell them we are going to resile, repeal the ECA72, and if they won't get on with the job then, like Cardinal Wolsey, they'll be replaced with Thomas Cromwell.

If it's good enough for Henry VIII, it's good enough for us.

See also Switzerland News

Monday, 10 September 2012

Baker - Job of the Month

Back in God's Own Country to continue my vital research in to Yorkshire tearooms.  A perfect opportunity has emerged for one lucky person: Lewis and Cooper want a part-time cook/baker in their tearoom in Northallerton.

Lewis and Cooper's is a grocery shop of units grown-together over the last 112 years.  It specialises in top-quality foods and wine for the discerning diner, cook and host. A wander through their food halls, which grow like a cave system back in to the depths of the building, is an exotic trip back in time. Unlike the deracinated supermarkets, aromas from all round the world waft from the deli, the bakery supplies and faintly from the chiller cabinets. There are bargains; I've had top-notch free range chickens at standard prices and it is the best source for bulk lavender flowers.

Above the shop are parlours set with snowy tables which look out over the high street.

I hold Strong Views on the food in L&C. With the exception of a dispute about the finest kippers, it is the best tearoom because it has philosophy of preparing food for the mouth and stomach rather than the eyes.  This is not to suggest the food is ugly, but it is for consumption, not modelling.

When you sit in the parlour and look across the road and down the high street you see the mighty Bettys,  the twinkling establishment patronised by the Alan Bennett-loving classes. A religious divide opens at this point between those who favour the international polish of the Swiss-influenced Bettys and the British approach of  L&C. 

This is not to imply that Betty's uses anything other than superb ingredients; it's just that they craft witty look-at-me fancies while L&C prefer to serve an exquisite scone with local butter, cream and strawberry jam. 

The difference in approach is reflected in the recruitment policy. Lewis and Cooper are looking for a tip-top home baker and cook.

Contact Becky Robinson on 01609 772 880 for details and an application form. 

Monday, 3 September 2012

Where the Buffalo Roam

If the Essex police get tired of sightings of lions and tigers and bears, oh my, they can book a safari in  North Yorkshire  where they will see majestic herds of buffalo and deer sweeping down from the Hambleton Hills.

These magnificent specimen followed our trailer and began to run and jump just like in the Westerns.  While the water buffalo and highland cattle are disinclined to break in to a trot and demand to have the carrots brought to them, the American buffalo - Bison bison, so good they named them twice - are wild animals and always remember that they are supposed to be on a long journey. 

They've settled in well to Yorkshire; the hottest summer days are a trial to them but they are cheerful in the winter and their whole body is adapted to deal with  snow on grassland.  They appreciate some top-up hay and yummy carrots but, unlike the conventional cattle, they don't have to be brought indoors and coddled through to spring.

Up close it's easy to see why the Great Plains people deified the animals; they look at you quietly but with a wary curiosity.  There is definitely Somebody Home. The shaggy fur at the front looks soft and clean; they don't smell. The flanks are much finer skin, almost felty by the look of it - but they won't let you touch them.

This could be tricky. The whole point of them is to find a source of meat which is yummy, lean and unmodified by modern animal husbandry such as antibiotics, but after five minutes they begin seem like huge quiet spirits; things you'd rather have around than not.

The meat is wonderful my co-tasters advise. But I ended up eating venison and orange burger and iron-age pig sausage.  Those are animals which are either air-heads or are bred to be eaten.

These buffalo are spooky, as if they have raced off the cave wall and never changed in all the 20,000 years, still wondering about those annoying apes.

Northallerton, North Yorkshire, DL6 2PD