to the world of John Robinson the Umpteenth of Upminster

see copyright notice. Page created 2-Jul-2015 updated 13-Dec-2023. Use the button groups above to navigate quickly around the site.


[Original photo by Valerie Goldstein]

Much as I loved my parents, I do wish they'd given me a more distinctive name! To clarify: I'm the John Robinson who was schooled at Engayne, Brentwood and Cambridge; worked at the BBC, Goldsmiths' and King's Colleges; walks everywhere, takes lots of pictures, and likes big old computers. You can read more about me on the 3 pages of this CV. To complete the profile (and just so that everyone knows): I'm British, male, single, heterosexual and omnivorous (and determined never to be denied the pleasure of eating well-reared and skilfully-cooked meat). I respect all religious beliefs, but personally hold sacred only the balance of nature - howsoever it came about - which I believe to be catastrophically threatened by burgeoning human numbers. Best stop there, before the profile morphs into a mission statement! Oh, and another thing - I can't be bothered with "political correctness".

This website first appeared in 2000 (as www.genre.fsnet.co.uk). Most of the popular pages are still here, with lots of new stuff and more to come. If you're looking for specific content, the site map will locate it faster than the navigation buttons! The latter are handy for jumping around the tree of pages; a white name shows where you are at each level, red ones in the same group link across to alternatives. Throughout the site, images with red borders are links which will open in a new tab or window. I welcome all constructive comments and enquiries via the contact page.

Quick links to popular pages

[Sloe Gin kit]

Sloe Gin recipe
How to make the liqueur (and what to do with the leftovers)

[Punched paper tapes]

Virtual Paper Tape Reader
Decodes (and encodes) images of punched paper tape

[Squirrel eating flatbread]

Photos of mammals
Squirrels and foxes are here, with links to many other photo galleries

[Fluorescent display clock]

Digital clocks
and lots more from my electronic projects museum

[My office desk, 1982]

My working years
in BBC Engineering Designs and elsewhere (part of a 3-page CV)

[Site map screenshot]

Site map
A complete list of the 70+ feature pages on this site

Recent changes (latest first)

[Robin wearing tea-cosy]

Updated 13-Dec-2023
Christmas cards 2020...
2023 design added

[Fox sitting]

Updated 21-Oct-2023
Photos of mammals
Sitting fox added

[Grey heron]

Updated 21-Oct-2023
Bird photos
[another] heron replaced, green woodpecker added

[Geiger radiation detector]

New 15-Mar-2023
Radiation detector
reveals toxic ww1 legacy


New 20-Feb-2023
some odd TV Guide entries

[Over-size chocolate box]

New 31-Jan-2023
Product Recoil: Packaging
consumer beware!

[Re-formulated onion chutney]

New 31-Jan-2023
Product Recoil: Ingredients
a matter of taste


Cor blimey, strike a light

[Fluorescent light and energy label]

12-Sep-2023: A week ago, the fluorescent light in my bathroom began to flicker occasionally, then rapidly deteriorated until it was flashing on and off every few seconds. Not happy with ablutions by torchlight, the next morning I trekked to my nearest hardware store to get a replacement tube (5 miles away - all the local outlets have given way to a desert of coffee shops and beauty salons).

It's just as well it failed when it did; I walked out with the last remaining 30W T8 tube in the store. They're being withdrawn from sale in the UK as from this month. Who knew?

I'm staggered to see it only scores a G for energy. I know the ratings were revised a couple of years ago, but in my book 2400 lumens isn't bad for a 30W tube (ok there's a few more watts lost in the ballast). I imagine it would have rated A or B before the goalposts were moved. In any case, I'm not inclined to replace it with an LED strip, as I like the colour rendition of the modern triphosphor tube, and the soft light that results from its 360° coverage of a white ceiling. And if it's the mercury content that's upset the regulators, I note that it's a mere 0.002 grammes. I can't help thinking back to schooldays, when we innocently splashed the stuff around like water!

Strange Fruit

[Seedless orange, halved]

15-Jul-2023: Is seedless fruit the worst thing since sliced bread? I'm beginning to think so.

My dictionary defines fruit as plant's or tree's edible product of seed with its envelope. Indeed, the plant supplies that sweet "envelope" solely to tempt us animals to pick the fruit and move the seed to new ground. So I think it's a sad reflection on our relationship with nature that the small print on the label of a bag of organic Valencia oranges says: WARNING All care is taken but on occasion fruit may contain seeds. It's not even a "seedless" variety! And the situation is similar with grapes - it's quite difficult to find seeded ones for sale now. That's a shame, because I think "real" fruit often has the best flavour.

We're in serious trouble with bananas. In the wild they grow from seed, but the ones we buy don't contain viable seeds; they're produced by plants grown from offshoots of a single prototype. And guess what: all those plants are genetically identical, so when a fatal disease emerges, to which they have no immunity, it's potentially the end of the line. Aren't we clever?

And hops! (Ok, not a fruit - but they're an important part of my life). Hop seeds are inconvenient in a modern brewery, so the vast majority are now grown to be seedless. Is it my imagination, or do most beers now lack the complexity of flavour they had in the good old days of seeded hops? I wish I could remember which beer writer penned something like: a fertilised hop is a happy hop, and I see no reason to interfere with its love life!

Unrichtige Arbeit?

[Bottled beer blend]

19-Apr-2023: Once in a while, when there's no home brew on tap, I find myself scanning the supermarket shelves for an acceptable substitute. St Austell's Proper Job (PJ) is a fine bottle-conditioned (and therefore clean-tasting) IPA, but it's just a tad too strong and bitter for me as an aperitif. Also, one 500ml bottle doesn't quite provide the full pint I require in my right hand when I start cooking the dinner! So here's my solution:

Pour out half a bottle of a pale low-alcohol brew (in this case Erdinger Alkoholfrei™ wheat beer) from a height, and wait a few minutes for the mass of foam to collapse. Then top up to a pint with ⅔ bottle PJ, also poured, in stages, from a height (I find this necessary with all bottled beers - despite the global warming consequences, all that CO2 is better off in the atmosphere than in my stomach). The blend conveniently uses 1 bottle per 2 pints, and 2 bottles per 3 pints, of the respective brews; reusable bottle caps stop the surplus going completely flat. It has a well-balanced flavour, and packs just about 3.5% abv. Blimey, so a pint a day doesn't exceed the recommended 14 units of alcohol per week! Mind you, there's the occasional sip of wine to consider...

Cactus vivat

[Forest cactus flower]

27-Dec-2022: For as long as I can remember, a "Christmas Cactus" took pride of place on a table in a shady corner of my late parents' landing. It didn't bloom every year, but on those occasions when it did there was a sense of wonder and joy in the house. Sadly, it was relegated to a window ledge in a spare bedroom some 20 years ago, and registered its disapproval by producing no further flowers, as far as I know.

When I cleared out the house contents, the cactus was in a sorry state; barely recognisable as such, with just one or two faintly green branches surviving among a mass of shrivelled grey stems. Nonetheless I re-potted it, and it's gradually recovered and made some new growth over the last 5 years. Its revival has finally been confirmed by the appearance of this solitary bloom, which opened bang on schedule on Christmas day!

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