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Halloween pumpkins: How to make some awesome Jack-o’-lanterns

How many pumpkins are sold for Halloween in the UK?

There are 10 million pumpkins grown in the UK every year. Most of which are grown to be used on Halloween as Jack-O-Lanterns, Asda alone estimates sales of 2 million pumpkins in 2017 – which is great news for pumpkin farmers across the land.

A good farming summer that has included warm weather as well as lots of rain has helped to produce a big harvest this year, which means there will be plenty of these vegetables to decorate with and keep the party pumpkin!

The origin of the Jack-o-lantern

halloween pumpkinsThe tradition of carving pumpkins for Halloween, originated from the Irish Legend of “Stingy Jack”. The story goes that Stingy Jack invited the Devil to drink with him. Not wanting to have to pay for his drink, Stingy Jack convinced the Devil to transform into a coin so he could settle the bill.

Once the Devil had done this, Jack turned on his word and kept the coin in his pocket next to a cross – This prevented the Devil from returning to his original state. Jack eventually freed the Devil so long as he promised to leave him alone for a year and, should he die, he would not claim his soul for Hell.

The following year, after the agreement had ceased, the Devil returned to Jack and was tricked into captivity yet again. This time Jack had convinced the Devil to climb a tree to get some fruit, then trapped him up the tree by marking a cross on the bark. In exchange for Jack allowing the Devil to go free, he bargained that he would be left alone for a further 10 years.

Jack died shortly after and, true to his word, the Devil did not claim his soul. However, Stingy Jacks trickery and deceit meant that God would not allow him passage to Heaven either. Therefore, the Devil sent him into the darkness with only a burning coal to light the way.

Jack placed this coal into a carved-out turnip and has roamed the earth with it ever since…

Halloween pumpkins: decoration in modern times

Although the tradition of making Halloween Pumpkins has evolved over the years to be no more than a decoration, it doesn’t make it any less fun to get involved with.

So, we’ve researched some cool ideas for alternative ways that you can make some awesome Jack-O-Lanterns. Read and enjoy:

Green Fire Halloween Pumpkins

A green flame pumpkin would look fantastic and provide a spooky ambiance for your Halloween party.

What you need:

  • A ready carved pumpkin
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Copper sulphate or boric acid

Video tutorial:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cwIKqlW6MQ – Credit to Anne Helmenstine

Misty Halloween Pumpkins

Make sure you take all of the relevant safety precautions for this one – Dry ice can be dangerous!

What you need:

  • A ready carved pumpkin
  • A large glass
  • Hot water
  • Salt
  • Dry ice
  • Tongs
  • LED candles

Video tutorial:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6rxI5FjeLM – Credit to RINGO

Oozing Jack-O-Lanterns

If you’re looking for something with a bit more of a gross effect, try this Oozing pumpkin recipe.

What you need:

  • A ready carved pumpkin
  • 12% hydrogen peroxide
  • Dish soap
  • A pack of dried yeast
  • Two small cups
  • Water
  • Food colouring
  • A rubbish bag

Video tutorial:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7meZnK5RmGI – Credit to Sick Science!

Have a great Halloween from Cooke Fuels!

There you have it! Some fantastic ideas for making some extra special pumpkins for your Halloween party this year!

Cooke Fuels will be open as usual over Halloween, so if you need some fuel, oil or lubricants for your Halloween celebrations or otherwise, contact us and we’ll be happy to help.

Help Cooke to prevent waste this Halloween

halloween pumpkin recipesSometimes we get so wrapped up in the fact that pumpkins make brilliant Halloween decorations that we forget they’re eatable!

A lot of us waste the pulp from our pumpkins, when we could be using it to make some delicious treats!

That’s why, we’ll be sharing some pumpkin party recipes on our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Get involved by tagging us and sharing your favourite pumpkin recipes with hashtag #HalloweenBaking to help others prevent waste!

 

Research shows good news for heating oil users

heating oil pricesIf you’re the bill payer in one of the 4 million households relying on off the grid power sources, you need to take a look at latest figures available in the Sutherland Comparative Domestic Heating Costs Tables.

The Sutherland Tables are an organisation which collect and compare the prices of off the grid power sources to let you know which is currently the best value manner of heating your home.

So how does heating oil compare to other options?

Here are the statistics for heating a typical three-bedroom home:

  • Heating Oil (condensed) – £840 per annum
  • Traditional Gas – £967 per annum
  • Electricity – £1283 per annum
  • Wood pellets (renewable) – £1681 per annum
  • LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) – £1524 per annum
  • Air source heat pump radiators (renewable) – £1681 per annum

As you can see, Heating oil is easily the best value heating option, beating its closest competitor traditional gas by £127!

This is a continuation of a trend that has been prevalent since July 2014. As electricity and gas prices have been on the rise, heating oil is looking more and more like the most sensible option for any household too remote to gain access to the national grid.

Get the heating oil you need

If you’re looking to replenish your home’s supply of heating oil, look no further than Cooke Fuels.

With our buying power and facilities, we can get you a highly competitive price and have it delivered to the most remote areas quickly and hassle-free.

With over 100 years’ experience in the fuel industry, you can count on us to keep your house warm, no matter how far from the grid you happen to be.

For more information on our heating oil delivery service, click here.

Major economist suggests British farmers are ‘addicted’ to tax breaks

Are British Farmers ‘addicted’ To Tax Breaks?

british farmers

In the view of one influential economist, British farmers have developed an unsustainable dependence on overly generous tax benefits.

According to Prof. Dieter Helm, the Chair of the advisory group Natural Capital Committee, Britain’s agricultural industry has become too heavily reliant on government subsidies.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Prof. Helm put forward the following notion:

‘If [British farmers] are producing 0.7% of output, receiving £3 billion of subsidies for that output of about £9 billion and being exempted on rates, and being exempted on diesel and being exempted from inheritance tax, this is quite a list and we’ve got there by accident almost, one after another of these concessions has been made, it’s kind of a subsidy addiction in the end.’

Although Prof. Helm was speaking in an unofficial capacity, this could be an early indicator of the future British farmers are facing. 

If the government are to heed his advice, farmers will need to adapt to the loss of the generous tax relief benefits they currently receive. 

Why is this being highlighted now?

Well, this could be a preemptive measure to warn farmers of the effect Brexit might have on their industry. In a post-Brexit economy, reviews of subsidy distribution are going to become commonplace, as areas previously funded by payments from the European Union will now fall directly to the British taxpayer.

Currently, British agriculture benefits from over £3 billion a year in EU farming subsidies. Without this Europe-wide regulation, the British taxpayer will have more control over the way tax is spent, and it might be difficult to justify continuing the industry’s ‘addiction’ to subsidies.

Depending on how well ministers are able to argue for the continuation of these benefits, it’s possible that certain privileges could be lost.

What could this mean for British farmers?

First of all, it could mean very little. Although Prof. Dieter Helm is the chairman of an influential environmental committee, his words were spoken only in a personal capacity as a BBC Radio 4 guest.

However, it would seem wise for British farmers to prepare for some degree of change in the way they receive tax relief. Environmental Secretary Michael Gove has already suggested that tax relief incentives may change to reward farmers in proportion to the benefits they deliver for nature and the countryside, rather than the quantity of land farmed.

From this stance, for example, benefits such as the legal use of low-duty red diesel may be withheld unless a specific environmental target is met.

At this stage however, any comments on the specifics of the tax relief changes are purely speculative – but British farmers would be wise to keep up to speed on the current debate surrounding post-Brexit agriculture, as it may have an affect on the way they farm.

To stay in the loop with all the latest developments in this story, give our Facebook page a like and we’ll keep you updated.

 

 

Oil Tanks: A Safety Guide

oil tanks safetyOil Tanks Safety

If you have oil tanks at your home or place of work, it is important that you take all necessary safety precautions. Making sure that you know all the safety risks and the guidelines you need to follow is vital if you want to keep your oil supply and other people safe.

Here is a guide on oil tanks safety and what you will need to do in the event of an emergency.

Check Manufacturer Guidelines

When your oil tank was first installed, it will have come with manufacturer guidelines specifically for the model you purchased.

To be sure that everything is installed and set up the way it should be, make sure you check the guidelines. If you have any issues, contact the manufacturer for more information.

Inspect Your Tank Regularly

Checking your tank on a regular basis will help you avoid any leaks or fuel contamination. Also, try and check the area around the tank to see if there are any signs of a leak you may have failed to spot.

If your tank has sprung a leak, you will more than likely be able to spot signs of corrosion. Otherwise, you may notice dead grass or a strange smell around the tank.

Book Annual Inspections

Even though you’re confident you will be able to spot any problems with your tank, you should still get it inspected by professionals once a year.

Some oil tank suppliers will offer annual inspections as part of their sales package, so make sure you contact them to see if you can arrange a site visit.

Locate the Shut-Off Valve

Should there ever be an emergency situation, you may have to turn your tank off immediately. To do this, you will need to turn off the shut-off valve.

Make sure that you know where the shut-off valve is and it’s easy to reach in the event of an emergency. If the tank is at your place of business, make sure any relevant members of staff know where the valve is and how to turn it off.

Additional Safety Tips

  • Make sure you never use naked flames near your oil tanks.
  • When you open your oil tank, avoid breathing in the fumes.
  • If at any point oil comes in contact with your skin, wash it off immediately.

If you want to learn more about oil tanks safety, give us a call on 01282 775431 and one of our experts will give you all the information you need.

Tractor Fuel: How To Find A Good Supplier

tractor fuelWhen you’re looking for a tractor fuel supplier, it can be difficult to find the right one amongst all the different choices. There are a few things however that you can keep in mind to help you find the fuel supplier you need.

Here are some of the important factors you should consider to help you find the best supplier for you.

Check How Much Tractor Fuel You Can Order

If you want to make a small or large order, it’s important to check if a supplier is able to meet your needs. After all, the last thing you want is to spend a long time searching for suppliers, only to find that the one you have chosen is not able to deliver the quantity you want.

The best way to find this information is to look on the supplier’s website. If they don’t mention their minimum and maximum order quantities, then give them a quick call and ask them to confirm.

Find Reviews and Comments

Quite often, the best way to find out if a supplier is right for you is to have a look at what other customers think. If a supplier has a lot of good or bad reviews, it is usually a good indicator of how reliable they will be.

You can find reviews and comments easily on social media and popular review sites. When you’re looking through them, it’s also a good idea to see how the supplier handled any negative comments. For example, if someone makes a complaint and the supplier has dealt with the situation promptly, this can be a sign the supplier is good to use despite the negative review.

Check Their Delivery Service

If you have a farm or an agricultural business, keeping your tractor engines topped up with fuel will be very important. That is why you should ensure that the tractor fuel supplier you choose is able to deliver fuel all-year round.

The supplier’s website should tell you if they can deliver at any point through the year. Some companies even offer contract retention or fuel management services to make topping up your tractors easier.

Explore Their Payment Plans

If you are looking for a supplier that will be able to provide you with tractor fuel on a regular basis, then it is well worth seeing what payment plans they have on offer. Check the supplier’s website or give them a call to find out if they offer payment plans that would suit you.

Cooke Fuels make ordering tractor fuel nice and simple! Give us a call on 01282 775431 and we will process your order today.

What Is Odourless Kerosene?

odourless kerosene suppliers

Odourless kerosene is kerosene that has been put through a hydrotreating process in order to remove its odour. This makes it ideal for use in the home, for example in stoves or barbeques.

How Is the Kerosene Made Odourless?

Kerosene can be made odourless by a process called hydrotreating. This process involves the use of hydrogen and nickel-molybdenum catalysts to help turn the sulphur in the oil into hydrogen sulphide.

This procedure will generally remove enough odour in the kerosene to meet standards. If not, then an additional steam stripping will be used to get rid of the remaining scent.

What Is Odourless Kerosene Used for?

Odourless kerosene can be used for a wide variety of purposes, both in domestic and commercial settings. Uses include:

  • Pharmaceutical industry
  • Cosmetic companies
  • Home barbeques
  • Home stoves
  • Construction and road maintenance equipment
  • Cleaning agents
  • The manufacture of substances and other materials

What’s The Difference Between Odourless Kerosene and Paraffin?

The process of making kerosene odourless is different from the process of producing paraffin. Paraffin is put through a refining process so then it doesn’t create as much soot as regular kerosene. Odourless kerosene, on the other hand, is only dearomatised and desulfurised in order to reduce the odour.

Odourless Kerosene Suppliers

If you are looking through the range of odourless kerosene suppliers and have been unable to find out that meets your standards, then Cooke Fuels could well be the ideal supplier for you.

There are many reasons why Cooke Fuels has become one of the leading odourless kerosene suppliers:

  • We are able to deliver the odourless kerosene you need within 48 hours of receiving your order.
  • If you are in urgent need of kerosene, we have an emergency delivery service so you can get the oil you need within 24 hours.
  • When you order with us, you are given your own dedicated account manager. Whenever you want to place another order or you want to get a little advice and support regarding your oil supply, your account manager will be able to help.

Are you looking to top up your odourless kerosene supply? Then give us a quick call on 01282 775431 and we can process your order today!

The Benefits of using CHP Biofuel

CHP Biofuel Benefits

CHP fuel (Combined Heat and Power) is produced at Cooke Fuels by using high-quality waste oil which has been cleaned and reprocessed. It can provide a range of benefits for the environment as well as offering legislative, operational and financial benefits. In terms of financial benefits, energy costs can be reduced with electricity costs stabilised over a fixed period. There are also some potential benefits from Renewable Heat Incentives and sufficient savings to fund energy efficient measures.

Producing energy is a huge source of pollution nowadays. CHP Biofuel can be used to help the environment and advance our climate change by reducing COemissions and other pollutants. There are also benefits for businesses such as increasing competitiveness and managing costs more effectively.

CHP fuel can also be a benefit with Part L compliance and reducing carbon footprint. By capturing heat normally wasted, CHP fuel can improve energy efficiency. Operationally, there is the increased security of supply being available and also a choice of multiple fuels.

These are some of the numerous benefits which are offered from CHP Biofuel usage. If you would like to find out more information, give our fuel specialists a call on 01282 775431. As an established CHP fuel supplier, Cooke Fuels offer quick delivery, flexible credit terms and a range of different fuel services to meet your requirements.

CHP Biofuel Benefits

It’s here… Cyber Monday Heating Oil Deal

Cyber Monday Heating Oil Special!

For a limited time today, you can order your heating oil from Cooke Fuels and we’ll knock a huge discount off the cost because it’s Cyber Monday! Beat the winter blues and warm up your home for less but hurry, offer ends 30th November 2015 at 5:30 PM!!!

For more details and a super-cheap heating oil price call our team today!

But you need to act quickly as this incredible offer is only valid until 5:30 PM tonight – 30th November 2015

Enjoy Cyber Monday!

Central heating Oil Leaks Warning for Cottage Owners

central heating oil leakYou could spend hundreds of pounds dealing with a central heating oil leak at your cottage.

Many people are planning to get away to their second home for the summer. However, these homeowners need to be prepared that a central heating oil leak could have occurred over the winter period and left a nasty mess.

Oil may have been leaking for months and the owner of the cottage will be none the wiser, until they arrive at the property. This is because summer homes tend to be empty for several months and are at a much bigger risk than an everyday home that uses heating oil. This is the advice of many home insurance companies. The majority of cottages are not connected to the national grid and are likely to use heating oil as a form of energy.

If a cottage suffers from a central heating oil leak, it can take a few months for the mess to be cleared up and for the home to be ready to live in again. This means that your summer holiday will have been ruined. Insurance companies have said up to £20,000 worth of damage can be caused by a central heating oil leak.

However, if are unfortunate enough to suffer from a heating oil leak, you need to remember to take care of the environment and your home when clearing it up. If there is a strong smell of fuel when you arrive at the cottage then that is a sign that oil is leaking.

Protection

Anyone that stays in a cottage should know where the valve for the heating oil tank is and know how to switch it off. It is probably best that you leave it switched off when the property is going to be uninhabited.

If you have a heating oil leak you should contact your insurance firm straightaway and see what their advice is. However, you should never try to sweep away the fuel; you should use mud or grit to absorb the oil.

To keep up-to-date with all the latest news from Cooke Fuels, please ‘like’ our Facebook page.

A 2015 Winter Guide To Buying Heating Oil

Heating Oil – Staying Fuelled For Winter 2015

The words Heating Oil and El Nino don’t usually go together in the same sentence, however this winter (2015) we’ll probably be hearing a lot said about El Nino, and anybody who isn’t on the national grid will be definitely mentioning the words ‘heating oil’ many times over if the Met Office’s weather predictions via Daily Mail are anything to go by.

Now, I’m not attempting to fast track the onset of winter and forget that we’re still in summer, if you can call it that right now, but it’s always better to be prepared rather than caught short; especially when it comes to hot water and a warm home. As the majority of heating oil usage occurs between the months of October and March, it’s important that your heating oil tank has enough fuel to last. In the great words of Robert H. Schuller:

Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation.

Heating oil will be important for the 2015 winter in the UK!

For many homeowners and workers, warmth and hot water comes from gas or electricity-powered equipment. This equipment is fuelled by a steady supply of fuel and won’t ever need re-ordering or topping up, but for heating oil users ordering fuel is a necessity. For those who aren’t sure what heating oil is, please allow me to explain.

What Is Heating Oil?

Heating oil is a fuel used to heat domestic and commercial buildings which use oil-fired heating systems. Oil-fired heating is used in premises where a large amount of fuel is required to heat them including schools and factories. It is also used to heat domestic properties which aren’t connected to the energy grid. There are several variations of heating oil (also known as boiler juice) which are kerosene and premium kerosene. Heating oil and kerosene both give off a faint smell when burnt whereas premium kerosene and premium heating oil have less odour and burn with a better efficiency to give off a higher heat output.

Other common names for heating oil are:

  • Fuel Oil
  • 28 Seconds
  • C2 Kero

What Is El Nino?

El Nino may sound like a new star signing for a wealthy football club, but it’s actually a weather term which funnily translates to Christ child (Jesus). It develops around Christmas time thus giving this event its name.

In short, El Nino is a warm phase which creates a warm body of water in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific. High air pressure from the western Pacific collides with low air pressure from the eastern Pacific and affects the global temperatures and rainfall.

What To Expect For Winter 2015/2016 In The UK

According to the Met Office, reports from Australia indicate a moderate to strong El Nino in 2015 which won’t affect the UK’s summer, but it could cause a very cold winter just like in 2010, when we had the coldest winter for 120 years!

If there is a repeat of this weather for winter 2015 then it may be a serious problem for many of these homes and businesses. Typically, homes that aren’t on the national grid are located in remote or hard to access areas of the UK. When winter storms hit us they can render these properties unreachable making heating oil deliveries impossible.

For homeowners and business owners who rely on heating oil to fuel their premises, this El Nino effect could create winter storms that literally leave you out in the cold! Winters in the UK are cold enough without the lack of heating and warm water. Therefore good preparation, however boring it may seem, will certainly ensure you have enough fuel oil this winter.

Tips For Buying Heating Oil This Winter

As a nationwide heating oil supplier, Cooke Fuels understand that some winters are worse than others. Our oil tankers rely on safe driving conditions and accessibility. If winter 2015 is a repeat of 2010, then the following tips should help to ensure that you have enough fuel oil for winter.

  1. Buy heating oil early – Buying fuel oil before winter sets in will not only save you money (as prices increase with demand), but it ensures that your delivery can be made without any adverse weather conditions preventing a tanker getting to you.
  2. Theft prevention – Make sure your oil tank is fitted with anti-theft locks and an alarm. Further security can be used to cover you. Check your insurance policy to see if your insurer will cover you. Unfortunately, there are some nasty people around and heating oil thefts do occur. Be alert and vigilant to prevent a loss of oil especially in winter.
  3. Fill your tank – The usage of heating oil in the winter months is greater than the months in summer so you’ll need to order much more to compensate for the higher usage in winter. If you are a regular buyer of fuel oil then you’ll hopefully have a good idea of the difference in usage, but for those of you who are new to buying heating oil, the difference is roughly 50% more. Beware of buying fuel oil in summer – with heat, fuel needs room to expand so don’t fill your tank to its absolute maximum.
  4. Ask about a flexible payment plan – If you’re worried about the cost of a bulk order then speak to your supplier about a payment plan. At Cooke, we offer flexible monthly payment plans so feel free to ask us about it.
  5. Ask your local Citizens Advice centre questions – Ensure you’re getting all the help you can have regarding fuel and costs.
  6. Is your home or building costing you more? – Having a badly insulated property can cost you more in heating bills through heat escaping. Did you know the government have a green deal scheme | Go to the Government website for more details which may help you get an assessment of your property’s energy efficiency.

We hope you enjoyed this article and took something from it. If you’re interesting in heating oil then please call us today to buy fuel oil or get advice on 01282 775 431

Have a wonderful summer and let’s hope the Met Office are wrong about winter!