Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Cheese Has Landed

One small step for a cheddar, one giant leap for cheesekind

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, a group of cheesemakers launched a 300g (10.58 oz) wedge of cheddar over 18 miles into the skies over England.

Here is the tale from “Mission Control” at the West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers:

Cheddarnaut lands in one piece

Members of the West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers group breathed a sigh of relief today as the extra-mature handmade Cheddar launched into space on Tuesday 28th July, was found safe and sound by a Buckinghamshire resident, and handed in to Thames Valley Police.

Organizers of the launch believe the cheese, and its specially-designed capsule built by the dairy farmers at a secret location in the West Country, did indeed achieve its space-bound objective as the large weather balloon used specifically to take the pod up to the 100,000 feet had burst, and the parachute had engaged, guiding the 300g wedge safely back to earth.

Discovered late last night in the Cressex area of High Wycombe by a resident who wishes to remain anonymous, the pod was handed in to local police officer Detective Constable Jane James, who notified the cheesemakers group. Final calculations suggest the pioneering cheese travelled 439,927.822 feet from launch to landing site…no mean feat for an 18-month old no matter how mature!

The capsule carried digital camera equipment and a GPS satellite tracking device, but the latter failed to send any signals back to earth and so far the camera has not displayed any images from the flight.

The rest of the cheesy saga:

Healthcare worker Leonie Gould, 56, discovered a mysterious…thingy…in the back garden of her Woodland Close home on her return from a 14-hour shift at Wycombe Hospital.

She called police fearing the foil-covered, Wallace and Gromit-styled invention was a suspect package.


Intrepid Cheddarnaut poses with instrument package

Mrs. Gould said:

I was at work when I spoke to my husband on the phone and he said a parcel was in the garden. I said “a parcel? I haven't ordered anything.”

I forgot all about it, got home and then my husband reminded me about the parcel.

I went out there and I was shocked to find this nine inch-long box, covered in foil with a cheese attached to an aerial.

I didn't know what it was or where it came from, so I ran inside and called the police.

When the officers arrived, they just laughed and explained about the cheese-launch mission.

Mrs. Gould added:

It's a bit strange!

Dom Lane from the mission team said:

We got a call from the police who said a resident found the cheese in the garden of their High Wycombe home, so I rushed out straight away to pick it up.

Unfortunately the camera didn't work and therefore we don't have any pictures from the mission but the weather balloon burst according to plan, everyone has had a great time and to get it up there at all is a wonderful feat, so we're delighted.

We're very grateful and pleased that the resident handed in the cheese – we will be sending them a box of cheese as a thank you present.”

Philip Crawford, chairman of the West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers group, added:

We are thrilled to announce the success of our space odyssey.

We feel we have appropriately marked the 40th anniversary of the first man on the moon in our own way with a first for cheese.

We are also incredibly touched by the public support for the safe return of the Cheddarnaut and are delighted that people are as proud of this West Country food icon as we are.

There is, as yet, no word as to whether the Cheddarnaut plans a book on the history-making voyage.

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